HC Deb 27 May 1880 vol 252 cc520-1

asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether, considering the crowded and uncomfortable condition of the House, especially on the right of the Speaker's Chair, the Government will consider the propriety of now carrying out the recommendations of the Committee of 1868, which reported that— An increase of accommodation for Members can be obtained in the most satisfactory manner, and without involving any interruption of the Proceedings of the House, by the erection of a new Chamber in the Commons Court? With the permission of the House, he would further say that in order to ask the Question from the body of the House he had borrowed a seat from an hon. Gentleman who was now sitting on the floor. That was not surprising, seeing that the body of the House contained accommodation for 306 Members, and there were 360 who wished to sit on that side of the House alone.


Sir, I must admit the pathetic circumstances under which, the hon. Member has put this Question, and the very skilful manner in which he has presented it to us. I also regret the great inconvenience which I know many hon. Members are suffering; but, at the same time, I think it would be a great mistake if we were, on account of that inconvenience, to be led hastily to make changes of an important character involving great structural alterations in this vast edifice, changes involving expense, and perhaps other consequences with regard to the convenience of Members which it would not be easy to measure. I would, therefore, venture to express a hope that it may be now, at all events, at this first stage of the matter, as it was in 1868–9. At that time there was a great deal of the same kind of inconvenience encountered. In fact, it was very nearly, as to the way in which Parties were divided in regard to their seats, the same case we have now, and there was a good deal said at the time. These are, of course, questions of convenience; but I would venture to recommend that a little more time should be allowed. At present the great curiosity and natural interest of an extraordinarily large number of new Members leads them in a remarkable and unusual degree to resort to this House. But from day to day they become better acquainted with the necessities of the case; and undoubtedly I think it would be premature, to say the least of it, to arrive at any conclusion as important as that which is contained in the Question of my hon. Friend.