HC Deb 07 August 1884 vol 292 cc192-224

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £5,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1885, for the Buildings of the Houses of Parliament.


said, he did not think he need assure the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) that both in and out of the House there was a great deal of opposition to this Vote from various points of view—there were certainly many hon. Members of the House who were opposed to the proposal involved in the Vote, and the right hon. Gentleman could not read the daily newspapers without noticing that there were many influential persons outside who were opposed to the way in which it was suggested Westminster Hall should be dealt with. He trusted the right hon. Gentleman would not, at that time, the fag end of the Session, press the Vote, involving, as it did, a matter of great national importance. It would be a great mistake if the right hon. Gentleman did persevere with the Vote, because it was obvious that at that period of the Session it could not be properly discussed. The right hon. Gentleman now asked for £5,000 to enable him to cover up, or patch up, the unsightliness which had been disclosed by the pulling down of the old Law Courts. He (Sir George Campbell) did not wish to set himself up as an architectural authority; but he could not help having a very strong suspicion that the proposed restoration was an archæological "fad," or an attempt to establish a piece of sham ancient architecture, according to the project of some particular architect. If they granted the sum of £5,000 now asked for, they would commit themselves to an expenditure of £35,000, and all other plans would be shut out, and great public injury would be done. He entered a very respectful protest against the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works on that, and other occasions, taking it upon himself to ascertain what he called the general sense of the House. There could be no greater instance of folly of such a proceeding than the scrape the right hon. Gentleman had got into by pulling down the old Law Courts, before it was decided what was to be done with the site. The right hon. Gentleman had said that few people took any real interest in the matter, and he had concluded that, because no serious objection had been raised to the plans he had adopted, the general sense of the House was favourable to the course he had taken. Without consulting the House at all, the First Commissioner of Works undertook to say the general sense of the House was with him. The right hon. Gentleman ordered the old Law Courts to be razed, and upon the execution of his order, there was disclosed the most hideous wall imaginable, a wall which could never have been intended for the public gaze. It was the wall of a hall undoubtedly the finest in the world, but a hall intended to be the centre of the buildings. It was always intended to be the centre of the Houses of Parliament, and the flying buttresses put up for its support were not intended to be beautiful, and never were beautiful. The old Law Courts were not of particularly fine architecture; but, anyhow, they might have been allowed to stand for a year or two more. It would have been very much better not to have pulled the old buildings down, until it had been determined what should be put up in their stead. He had not an artistic eye, but one was not needed to find the hideousness of the wall which had been disclosed. The old Courts were good rooms, and might have been made useful for many purposes in connection with the House. However, they were done away with, and their removal only served to illustrate the evil of doing things too hastily. He had also to protest against the tyranny of the architect to whom this work had been intrusted. The right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works had a laudable ambition to settle the question, and not being an architect himself, he had put the matter in the hands of an architect. Now, this gentleman seemed to be distinguished for archæological ideas and fancies, and hon. Members were told that because this archæological architect had devised a plan of his own, they must subordinate their views to his. In his (Sir George Campbell's) opinion, the best plan would be to put a liberal quantity of plaster upon the old and dilapidated wall, and lot it remain until Parliament had deliberately resolved what was to be done with this important piece of ground. He knew the right hon. Gentleman would come forward and say—"Oh! you might patch it up; but no decent architect would do anything of the kind." He had heard the First Commissioner of Works say that Mr. Pearson would not have anything to do with such a proceeding. Mr. Pearson was one of the tyrants, who said—"I must have my own way entirely with the work, or else I will have nothing to do with it." He (Sir George Campbell) was satisfied there were 500 good builders in London who would plaster up the wall, and make a decent job of it. His right hon. Friend (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) had told them many times, that there was a plan for turning the ground to some useful purposes—to build upon it, in fact, a new wing of Parliament, a design of that kind having been made by Sir Charles Barry. But the right hon. Gentleman had not told them why the plan was abandoned. Sir Charles Barry was an ambitions and expensive man, and he proposed a plan which was to cost an enormous sum of money. They had not yet got rid of Sir Charles Barry's extravagances, and it seemed to him (Sir George Campbell) that they might have got a good architect to have made a plan of that kind on a reasonable scale. He (Sir George Campbell) thought it was quite possible, by following the plan of Sir Charles Barry on a less expensive scale, to make a very excellent new wing to the Houses of Parliament, and provide a large amount of useful accommodation. He was not an enemy of decent architecture; but he would suggest that this plan would not be at all inconsistent with the architecture which Mr. Pearson had proposed. If the right hon. Gentleman would only grant a little delay, very good use might be made of the ground on which the Courts formerly stood. It was very necessary they should not act hastily in this matter. There were demands for extension in every direction. It might be found wise to develope the Grand Committee system; and it certainly was requisite that some of the Cabinet Ministers should have new rooms, for, at present, they had to have recourse to rooms in the cellars. He begged the right hon. Gentleman not to make the improvements which the Prime Minister had so much at heart physically impossible, by devoting this most valuable plot of ground to an archæological "fad." He was aware it had been suggested that accommodation might be provided for the Grand Committees by abolishing the House of Lords; but much as they might desire such a consummation, they could not calculate upon it in the immediate future. Westminster Hall was, as he had already said, the finest hall in the world, and he wanted to see it devoted to useful purposes, and made the centre of the Parliamentary buildings, as it was before the Law Courts were pulled down. He wanted to see the people of the country who attended the great Court of Parliament, walking up and down Westminster Hall, and not crowding, as they did now, in the Committee corridors. He trusted that the First Commissioner of Works would not commit himself to a plan which must end in making Westminster Hall permanently useless. He gathered from the declaration the Prime Minister made the other day that this was not a Cabinet question, and that hon. Members were free to form their own opinions in regard to it. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister would give the Committee his own opinion with regard to the matter. His opinion would be very valuable, inasmuch as he was responsible for the reconstruction of the Procedure of Parliament, in pursuance of which reconstruction it was necessary to find room for the Grand Committees. He (Sir George Campbell) desired that the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works should have money to enable him to patch up the wall, until it was determined what was the best and most useful purpose to which the ground could be turned; and, therefore, he begged to move the reduction of the Vote by £1,000 only.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £4,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1885, for the Buildings of the Houses of Parliament."—(Sir George Campbell.)


said, he had listened most carefully to his hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell) to hear by what arguments he could support the assertion that the proposal of Mr. Pearson was an archæological "fad." He did not know Mr. Pearson personally; but it appeared to him that that gentleman had made a most careful examination of the particular locality which laid between the West wall of Westminster Hall and St. Margaret's Churchyard, and had formed a much more acute and ingenious and complete estimate and interpretation of the buildings that originally stood there than he (Mr. Thorold Rogers) should have imagined it would have been possible to make from an examination of the existing fragments of the ancient buildings. The House knew perfectly well that the original Westminster Hall was the work of Rufus, and that about three centuries after the time of Rufus another English King enlarged the Hall, put a new roof to it, and put certain buttresses against the walls, support being thought necessary owing to the increased weight of the roof. The buttresses on the West side were cut about and altered in order to allow of the erection of the Law Courts; and the work was done with a very ruthless disregard of the beauty of the building. The criminality of that proceeding, however, did not rest with his right hon. Friend (Mr. Shaw Lefevre). The bad workmanship of the architect of that day had now been disclosed; but that extremely ingenious and intelligent and, he might say, exhaustive architect, Mr. Pearson, had discovered what was the precise character of the building that originally stood there, and which constituted the residence and domestic offices of the English Sovereigns from Richard II. down to the Tudors. [Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL: How do you know this?] He would inform the noble Lord on the subject, and enlighten him, since he was disposed to ask such a question. He had an intimate acquaintance with the building accounts of Henry VIII., and among them were very elaborate details of the buildings erected on the site which Mr. Pearson examined. The fact was, that Henry VIII., who had been very much married, but only one of whose Queens was crowned, made up his mind to witness the crowning of Anna Boleyn, and a temporary building was erected between Westminster Hall and St. Margaret's, from which the ceremony could be witnessed. He had taken the liberty of writing a letter to the Chief Commissioner of Works, pointing out that Mr. Pearson could easily find, in the Bodleian Library, the book from which, he (Mr. Thorold Rogers) had derived his information. He had not heard anything about the matter from Mr. Pearson; but he was probably investigating the subject. He ventured to say so much in confirmation of the views which Mr. Pearson had promulgated and placed in the hands of the right hon. Gentleman, who had communicated them to the House. It appeared that the restoration proposed would be in accordance with the building originally standing on the site. His hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy suggested that they might get some respectable bricklayer in London, who should plaster up the building—that was to say, cover over the historical work found there—he (Mr. Thorold Rogers) presumed with the object of laying it open at some future time, and also with the object of protecting it from decay for the present. But he did not approve of that plan. They had evidence of what the buildings were formerly, and Mr. Pearson was perfectly competent to restore them; and, therefore, he was in favour of the work being taken in hand at once. The buildings undoubtedly served at one time for the purpose of housing Royalty in this country. The House of Commons was, of course, a very distinguished Body, and they were very much cramped for room; yet he thought they would be able to find the necessary accommodation in the House. He congratulated the right hon. Gentleman on bringing this matter forward, and he had little doubt that the restored building would serve many useful purposes of the time.


said, he had an Amendment on the Paper to reduce the Vote by £4,500. He would presently explain why he proposed to reduce the Vote by that amount; but he wished, first of all, to state that, while he concurred with his hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell) in refusing to give the whole of the sum asked, he had no sympathy with the grounds on which his hon. Friend proceeded. He thought the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works had done what was right in removing the buildings of the old Law Courts. They were an eyesore, and utterly out of keeping with Westminster Palace, with which they were incorporated. Besides, it was necessary to remove them, in order that the original character of the old buildings on the West side of Westminster Hall might be ascertained, and so a guide be obtained for a restoration or reconstruction of the buildings. He must object to the suggestion of his hon. Friend, that the walls now exposed to view should be plastered up, and he could hardly believe that the suggestion was seriously made. His reasons for proposing the reduction of the Vote were of a very different kind from those given by his hon. Friend. In opposing the Vote, he wished to state, emphatically, that he had no desire to find fault with the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works for his action in regard to the plans for the carrying out of which a Vote was now asked. The right hon. Gentleman had proved himself an admirable First Commissioner of Works. He showed a genuine interest in the preserving and perfecting of our national buildings, and he exercised the greatest care in seeking to ascertain the best mode of dealing with them, and earnestness in carrying out the course which his inquiries showed him to be the right one. He (Mr. Dick-Peddie) desired to say that, in objecting to the designs of an architect of the eminence of Mr. Pearson, he did so with regret; but what he had to say of these designs was not to be considered as in the nature of condemnation, but of doubt and suggestion, and he submitted it to the Committee not as a ground for summarily rejecting the designs, but only for delaying decision on them until further inquiry had been made into the whole question of building on the West side of Westminster Hall. He wished to express his sense of the great interest and value of Mr. Pearson's Report, and of the pains which that gentleman had taken to investigate the history of the building with which he had to deal. Two alternative courses offered themselves for adoption in dealing with the building. The first was to restore it, if possible, to the condition in which it was when, in the time of Richard II., the Hall was raised in height and the present roof was put on it, and the buttresses and flying buttresses were erected. The second course was to abandon all idea of restoring the buildings, and to design new buildings, having, in doing so, regard only to the character of the whole assemblage of buildings of which Westminster Palace was composed, and to the uses to which it might be found desirable to apply the new buildings. The former of those courses was the one it had been determined by the First Commissioner of Works to adopt. Now, he (Mr. Dick-Peddie) ventured to question whether the so-called restoration, represented in Mr. Pearson's plans, was really a restoration; and he ventured to say that, not being in his opinion a true restoration, the building proposed was not one which, on its own merits, should receive the approval of the Committee. He might recall to the recollection of the Committee the main features of Mr. Pearson's design. It consisted of a two-storied building, the walls of which were to be about 25 or 26 feet in height, extending along the whole of the West side of the Hall. At the North end, this building took the form of a projection at right angles from the Hall, extending outwards about 63 feet, and having a breadth of about 36 feet. It was to be finished at its West end with a gable, and its roof was to run back from that gable to the side wall of the Hall, against which it was to abut immediately below the level of the proposed new parapet of the Hall. To the South of this projecting building, the proposed building was to take the form of a two-storied wall, extending from buttress to buttress and carrying a roof which was to out through the flying buttresses of the Hall about seven feet above the carved corbels on the back of the buttresses from which they sprang. Now, what were the grounds on which this was maintained to be a restoration of the building to its condition in the time of Richard II.? They were the existence of foundations on the lines of the walls of the proposed new buildings; various indications on the sides of the buttresses of the walls which had been built on those foundations, and indications of the returns of the parapet of those walls against the buttresses at the level, and in the position in which the parapet of the proposed buildings was to be. Well, with regard to the old foundations, there could be no doubt of their existence, for they were fully exposed by the excavations that had been made. Neither could there be any doubt that, at some date, buildings had been erected on them to the height now proposed. But then it was equally clear, both from an examination of the ground and of old records, that the buildings which stood on the foundations referred to, were but a portion of very extensive buildings which, as the speech of his hon. Friend the Member for Southwark (Mr. Thorold Rogers) had shown, closed in the Hall and the building between the buttresses altogether. While, however, there could be no doubt that buildings had, at some date, existed on the site on which Mr. Pearson proposed to rebuild, and that those buildings had been of the height proposed for the intended buildings, it seemed to him clear that not only was there no evidence that the old buildings were of the Reign of Richard II., but that there was positive evidence that they were of later date. This conclusion was founded chiefly on the fact that the moulding of the parapet of the old wall, as shown by its return against one of the flying buttresses, was of a later date and inferior character to the mouldings on the buttresses. That was the conclusion arrived at, not only by himself, but by two architects of great experience, with whom he had carefully examined the old building now exposed to view. And it was a significant fact that Mr. Pearson had not, in his design, adopted for his parapet the moulding of the old parapet, but had designed it in keeping with the moulding of the buttresses. To him (Mr. Dick-Peddie) the evidence furnished by the old cope moulding was conclusive, as showing that the building of which it was part was not of the same date as the buttresses. But further evidence, leading to the same conclusion, was furnished by the appearance of the deep horizontal cut across the flying buttresses. This was made to receive the lead of the roof which covered the old building, and it was obviously made, not when the buttresses were built, but at some after-time. But the best evidence against the existence of buildings of the height of that now proposed, at the time that the buttresses and flying buttresses were built, rested on this—that the design and character of the flying buttresses showed they were intended to be seen throughout their entire extent. But what they were asked to believe was that the designer of the flying buttresses, after having carefully designed them, imparting to them a marked architectural character, and giving them not only strength, but beauty and grace, deliberately and ruthlessly cut them in two, leaving seven or eight feet of them and the ornamental corbels from which they sprang inside the building, and the remaining part of them outside! How little those who had written in approval of the scheme really understood what was proposed was shown by an article in The Saturday Review. It was the only favourable notice of the design he had seen. There might have been others published, but they had not come under his notice. The writer, after describing the object of Mr. Pearson to have been— To recover, in his reconstruction of the West side of the Hall, the aspect which it presented in Richard II.'s time, said— That Mr. Pearson had worked out the curious fact that a wall ran between the upright buttresses, so as, with the roof which it undoubtedly carried, to comprise a cloister bridged over by the graceful sweep of the flying buttresses in their äerial dignity. But, as he (Mr. Dick-Peddie) had shown, the cloister was not bridged over by the flying buttresses, for a large part of each flying buttress was covered up by the cloister roof, and what remained above the roof would only be a clumsy fragment. Thus there would be no graceful sweep and no äerial dignity in the flying buttress, for a large portion of each of them would be sunk under the roof of the cloister, and of what remained above the roof hardly anything would be seen. On Mr. Pearson's perspective drawings, a small part of them was indeed shown; but those drawings, although very beautiful, were delusive. They represented the building as seen from a very distant point, and from that point, about half of the height of the window of the Hall and a part of the arch of the flying buttresses were represented as visible above the roof of the proposed building; but from any point of view from which the vast majority of persons would see the building—from any part, for instance, of St. Margaret's Street—nothing whatever would be seen of the windows of the Hall, nor any part of the flying buttresses except their coping. Now, with regard to the accommodation to be provided in the upper floor of the building between the buttresses, he wanted to say a few words. The plans showed a long room, about 200 feet in length and 19 feet in width, occupying the whole space. Of what use such a room could be, he knew not. The Report, which accompanied the plans, suggested that, if desired, this long room might be divided into a number of smaller rooms, entered from a passage carried along the side of the wall of Westminster Hall, and taken, of course, from the breadth of the proposed cloister. But the minimum breadth that could be given to such a passage was five feet; and after there was added to that the thickness of a partition to separate the passage from the proposed rooms, there would remain for these latter a breadth of about 13 feet. But these rooms thus narrow would be badly lighted. There would be no means whatever of providing them with fireplaces. In fact, they would be closets rather than rooms, and of no use for any practical purpose in connection with this House. He would like to draw attention to the injurious effect which the projecting building forming the North part of the proposed works would have on the whole appearance of Westminster Palace. It was to project, as he had said, 63 feet. The ridge of its roof was to abut against Westminster Hall immediately below the parapet which was to be placed on the wall of the Hall. Now, the result would be that, for anyone approaching Westminster Palace from Parliament Street, the whole of the West side of Westminster Hall, except a few feet of the parapet, would be shut out of view. In short, the result of building as now proposed would be that the projecting building and the double cloister below the buttresses would effectually conceal the old portions of Westminster Hall, to reveal which was the sole motive for removing the Law Courts, and clearing out their site. He thought that there was another ground of objection to the projecting building besides that of its shutting out the West side of Westminster Hall from the view of persons approaching Westminster Palace by Parliament Street, and it was that it would seriously injure the effect of the whole mass of the building of which it would form part when viewed from the North-West angle of Palace Yard. Let hon. Members endeavour to call up to their imagination the view of the Palace which anyone standing near that point would have. On his left, there was the great mass of the Clock Tower. Coming down from that, he had the building of the Palace on the East and South sides of Palace Yard, extending to the North end of the Hall; and then, coming down again, he would have the proposed projecting building, with which the whole composition would die away on his right in a most ineffective manner. This proposed building would, it seemed to him, be a very mean termination to the whole composition. ["Oh, oh!"] Well, of what use would this projecting building be, which might compensate for any harm it might do to the exterior aspect of the Palace? They were told the other day by the Prime Minister, in reply to a Question, that the upper storey would form an admirable room for one of the Grand Committees. But no such use was suggested for it in the Report; nay, it was expressly said that the use of the room was left to be afterwards determined. The fact was, that the suggested appropriation of the room to one of the Grand Committees was an afterthought suggested by the Question of his hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell), and one which had never before occurred to the First Commissioner of Works. He ventured to say that the room was not at all adapted for the use of the Grand Committee. It would be sufficiently large, indeed, as it would be about 60 feet long by 30 feet in breadth; but it would be indifferently lighted, it would not be convenient of access, and it would be without ante-room or lobby for the public, or for persons wishing to see Members. There was one part of the designs of which he would say but little, as a Vote was not at present asked for it—namely, the proposed heightening of the towers at the entrance of Westminster Hall. The present North elevation of Westminster Hall was certainly not satisfactory; but it had at least this recommendation, that the large gable rising above the piers, for they could not be called towers, which flanked it, expressed strongly the great roof of the Hall within. If, however, these piers were converted into towers, the gable, reduced in importance, would lose its power of suggesting the size and importance of the roof. Farther, the raising of the towers would give to the Hall an ecclesiastical character, from which it was at present wholly free. But he thought a still greater objection to the towers was this—that, as towers, they would, by contrast with the Clock Tower, which would always be seen in close proximity to them, appear insignificant. In the drawings showing the North end of the Hall, the Clock Tower was not shown, and the proposed towers flanking the gate appeared of sufficient importance; but had the Clock Tower been shown, it would have been seen at once that the proposed towers of the Hall would be entirely drowned by it. In the doubts which he had thought it right to submit to the Committee regarding the building for which a Vote was asked, he did not stand alone. Many of the points of objection he had stated had been stated in the journals most entitled to write on such matters. The Builder and The Architect had contained leading articles strongly objecting to the proposed works, and asking delay. An excellent letter also had appeared in The Building News, and an able article in The Athenœum, objecting to them; and a letter by Mr. Stevenson, architect, which had yesterday appeared in The Times, effectively urged various objections to them. What was asked was not the rejection of the designs which it had been proposed to carry out; it was only delay, so as to give the Members of that House and the public generally time to consider them. The only reason which had been given for haste was that stated by the First Commissioner of Works some days ago—namely, the necessity of at once doing something to preserve the old Norman wall from the injurious effects of the atmosphere. The same reason was given the other day in the House of Lords. Now, he might point out that the carrying out of the present designs would not serve the end proposed, because the open cloister on the ground floor of the new building would still leave the Norman wall exposed to the influences of the atmosphere. All the protection that was needed might be obtained at an expenditure of less than £100, by closely boarding round the old wall. He proposed to reduce the Vote by £4,500, and thus to give the First Commissioner, not £100, but £500, to do everything that was needed at present. While he had stated all these considerations, he trusted he had not opposed the Vote in any hostile spirit, or spoken of the designs harshly or captiously. His great anxiety was that mistakes should be avoided in the works which might be resolved on. The Hall of Westminster was the noblest hall in England, and that was almost the only opinion expressed by his hon. Friend below him (Sir George Campbell) in which he concurred. It was the noblest not only in England, but in the world, and any proposal to deal with such a building demanded most careful consideration. He was surprised at the apathy shown by Englishmen with regard to what was now proposed. It might, perhaps, be supposed to concern him, as a Scotch Member, less than English Members; but he should almost feel it as a personal loss were any injury to be done to this great historical building. He ventured to express a hope that even now the First Commissioner of Works would consent to delay the works, and to refer the plans and the whole question of the mode of dealing with the West side of the Hall to a Select Committee. No serious delay would be caused by that, and perhaps the result might even be the approval of the present plans. If so, he, for one, would make no farther objections. What he did object to, and what he begged the Committee not to assent to, was the adoption of any design affecting a national building of such importance as Westminster Hall and Westminster Palace without the fullest and most exhaustive consideration.


said, that when he had an opportunity of making a statement to the House on this important subject some time ago, he was extremely anxious to consult the opinions of the House on a matter affecting, as it did, one of the most ancient and important buildings in this country; and he had also rather invited criticism. He had said that, if there was any serious objection to the scheme of Mr. Pearson, he would have no hesitation in referring the matter to a Select Committee, after the plans had been a reasonable time before the House of Commons. He had, however, been in communication with many hon. Members among all sections and Parties, and certainly found there was a general concurrence in favour of the plans prepared by Mr. Pearson. Accordingly, he had not thought it necessary, at that period of the Session, to refer them to a Select Committee. The hon. Member who had just spoken (Mr. Dick-Peddie) said that there was a general feeling outside the House against the plans of Mr. Pearson. Now, certainly, that was not the case; almost all the Press had pronounced in favour of them. It was certainly true that two or three architectural papers had criticized them somewhat severely; but he ventured to say that no high authority, architectural or antiquarian, had decided against the scheme of Mr. Pearson.


There is the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Buildings.


The Society for the Preservation of Ancient Buildings was one with which he had considerable sympathy; but he was bound to say that they sometimes carried their ideas to the verge of what he might call absurdity. He had reason, however, to believe that a great many of that Body were favourable to Mr. Pearson's plans, while the Committee which had spoken adversely did not consist of its more important members. He had taken pains to discover who were the gentlemen that composed the Committee and who criticized Mr. Pearson's plans, and he found that one of them was an assistant surveyor to the Metropolitan Board of Works, another was an assistant in an art paper-hanging shop, a third was an artist unknown to fame, and two were architects who had not yet made a reputation. He could not accept a Committee thus formed as one of any great authority. He thought, therefore, he was correct in saying that no authority of any weight had been quoted against the plans prepared by Mr. Pearson. He could not admit that, as the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell) had said, he found himself in a scrape inconsequence of having pulled down the Law Courts; he believed the hon. Member himself was the only person who had objected to the demolition of the old Courts. The hon. Member, no doubt, opposed the proposal; but he stood alone, for not a single Member had supported him. In so demolishing the old Law Courts, he (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) was simply carrying out a promise made to the House when the Courts were removed to the new buildings in Fleet Street; and he must say that he thought the removal of the old Courts was most satisfactory. Viewed from Great George Street, including the Abbey, with Westminster Hall forming the centre, the scene was, he thought, one of the most beautiful to be found in London. All he desired was that the scene should be made as beautiful as possible, and that Westminster Hall might be restored in as perfect a manner as possible. The question was, in what manner they would best restore Westminster Hall—for he assumed that it could not be left as it now was. Practically, there were only two alternatives. One was to adopt the plan of the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy, and patch up the existing walls and buttresses, and leave it in its present state. The objection to that course was that Westminster Hall—at all events, the lower part of it, from the sills of the windows—was of old Norman construction, and they would have to case up and conceal the wall with modern stonework. But inasmuch as that was almost the only remaining example of Norman buildings in London, it seemed to him that to adopt that course would be a great mistake. It would entirely destroy the only example of old Norman buildings remaining in London, and would, he thought, be an act of Vandalism. Besides, he did not believe it would be possible to find a responsible architect who would advise that course, or carry it out; and, certainly, Mr. Pearson had told him he would not be a party to such a plan. He believed it would be impossible to find any other architect to carry out such a piece of Vandalism. Then the question was, what alternative remained; and it appeared to him that the only other course was to restore the Hall to what it was in the time of Richard II., and down to the beginning of the present century. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Dick-Peddie) took exception to that course, on the ground that it would not be in accordance with the ancient building as it was in Richard II.'s time; and he undertook to contradict Mr. Pearson's conclusion as to the two storeys of the cloister under the buttresses. He stated that the indications arising from the buttresses were the only ground upon which Mr. Pearson had come to his conclusion; but, as a matter of fact, they were only one of the smallest of Mr. Pearson's grounds for his conclusion. There were many other indications of the strongest character, leading to this proof; the very walls of the old building told their own history; and anyone who would examine them closely and carefully would find that Mr. Pearson was right in his conclusion. The main evidence in favour of Mr. Pearson's views was this. There existed on the side of Westminster Hall the remains of a row of arches of stone, of the same date as the rest of the building, which was erected in the time of Richard II., and it was therefore clear that when Richard II. restored the hall and added the noble roof which now existed, and also added five buttresses, he erected a two-storey building resting upon these arches against the wall. These arches were intended to prevent the building from resting on the wall itself. Therefore, it appeared to him that this indicated conclusively that there was a storey running along the whole length of the Hall; and there were many other evidences of the same kind. They had the plans of Sir Christopher Wren, showing how the storey was laid out, and also how the upper storey was approached—namely, by a staircase in the corner of the Hall. But this very day there had been discovered a print, for which they had been searching many months. It was a print made by Capon, in 1810, drawn from a point a few yards to the West front of the Hall, and giving a drawing of one of the bays between the buttresses, and this drawing showed distinctly that there were two storeys to the cloister. This was dated 1810; but there were indications of an ancient character of windows, and clearly the lower arch was drawn in the manner suggested by Mr. Pearson. This drawing was also important as showing that this building was intended to form an architectural feature to be seen some distance. He thought, therefore, that anybody who examined carefully into this question could come to no other conclusion than that Mr. Pearson was justified in the assumption that there was, up to the beginning of the present century, a two-storey building occupying the whole length of the Hall. That two-storey building was built by Richard II., and to a great extent remained intact until the beginning of the present century, when it was pulled down in order to erect the old Law Courts. What Mr. Pearson proposed was practically to restore that two-storey building; by adopting this plan, they could preserve the old Norman wall, and leave it always visible behind the cloister he proposed to erect. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Dick-Peddie) had objected to this cloister for many reasons. He said the upper part of it could not be used for the various purposes of this House. Well, he (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) could find many uses for it. He had received a demand from the Stationery Department for the erection of a new storey to their building, which would cost £5,000, in which to stow away the Reports of this House. They could at once stow those Reports in this long gallery, and then save this expenditure at the Stationery Office; but, no doubt, many other uses could be found for it. For instance, the upper part of the building proposed to be erected at the end of the cloister would be very suitable for a Grand Committee room, and the lower part for other purposes. It would certainly be necessary to replace the old shed in some manner or other; and unless they erected a building, such as that suggested by Mr. Pearson, he did not know where they could put their horses. He would not now enter into the question of the position of the towers. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock had objected to that part of the scheme; but the towers were not included in the present scheme, and he had left that question open for another year. The reason suggested by Mr. Pearson for raising the towers was that Westminster Hall was now completely overshadowed by the surrounding buildings erected by Sir Charles Barry. Sir Charles Barry himself had felt that, and he proposed to raise the towers; but he had an alternative plan, which was to raise the roof of the hall some 10 feet, so that it might not remain so low in comparison with the other buildings; but that plan had been abandoned, as it might be dangerous to the old wall, and therefore it was proposed to raise the towers. He would not, however, discuss that course at present. It would not be possible to commence upon the towers at once, and he thought it would be better to take a Vote on the other portion of the work, and leave that to stand over for another year. The hon. Member had again proposed that this matter should be delayed; but, in his (Mr. Shaw Lefevre's) humble opinion, it was important to proceed at once. The old wall had already suffered from exposure in the past winter, and certainly the building, in its present state, was an eyesore; and it appeared to him desirable, for every reason, to commence on the work as soon as possible. His belief was that a delay for another year would produce no material alteration in the opinion of the public; and if, in accordance with the wish of the hon. Member, he deferred the matter to a Committee next year, he was satisfied the Committee would come to no other conclusion than that which he now asked them to assent to. He had consulted all the Members of the House who, in his opinion, were most qualified to express an opinion to the House upon this question, and many other authorities on questions of this kind; and they were all unanimously of opinion that Mr. Pearson's plan should be carried out, and that there was no necessity for a Committee. He thought he might, therefore, say there was a general concurrence of opinion in favour of Mr. Pearson's plan, and he ventured to hope that the Committee would not insist upon any further delay, but would vote the money which was necessary, in his view, and in the view of all the authorities, to carry out the necessary works on an interesting, an important, and, what he thought would be, one of the most beautiful buildings in the Metropolis.


said, that up to the delivery of the very interesting speech of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Dick-Peddie), he (Sir Robert Peel), in common with other hon. Members, were disposed to look very favourably on the plan of the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works. The right hon. Gentleman had been most anxious to promote many good works in the Metropolis, and he (Sir Robert Peel) had been inclined, with other hon. Members whom he had consulted, to give the present scheme favourable consideration; but he must confess that since the right hon. Gentleman's speech his opinion had very materially altered. In the first place, he was greatly impressed by the remarks of the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Dick-Peddie), who was an experienced man in matters of this kind, and whose opinions were, no doubt, also the opinions of others who were, perhaps, even better qualified than he was to judge in such matters. The chief statement of the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works was that this wall dated from the time of Richard II.; that being exposed to the deleterious atmosphere, it was rapidly perishing; and, therefore, it was highly desirable that the House of Commons should at once vote £5,000 to protect it. But the hon. Member for Kilmarnock had clearly shown, by his Amendment, that he was ready to protect that wall for a few hundred pounds—even for £500—while the House of Commons might form a deliberate opinion upon the question next year, The First Commissioner of Works himself admitted that, unless there had been a universal consensus of opinion, he was inclined to believe that it would be better to submit the question to a Select Committee, but that, having consulted certain hon. Members, he did not hold that view now. As far as he could gather, all the hon. Gentlemen the right hon. Gentleman had consulted were hon. Members below the Gangway, except the right hon. Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope); and he did not know that, taking the right hon. Gentleman's house in London, he could be regarded as a high authority. The fact was, this Liberal Government were voting away vast sums of money on this building; they asked for £35,000 now, and they would require another £8,000 for the towers. The House had no plan; they had only an opinion by Mr. Pearson, who talked about Richard II., as if he had lived but a few years ago; but the hon. Member for Kilmarnock had clearly shown that there were plans in the Bodleian Library which had not been examined by Mr. Pearson. No doubt, Mr. Pearson was a great authority; but he (Sir Robert Peel) should be inclined, and he hoped the Committee would be inclined, rather to accept the opinions of the architectural journals quoted by the hon. Member for Kilmarnock, and certainly he would rather have their opinions than the opinions of the London Press. He had never heard a Liberal Government refer to the London Press in support of their policy. He had always understood that the London Press was in condemnation of the policy of a Liberal Government; but on this occasion the First Commissioner of Works said, with a great deal of glee, that there was no opposition to his plan in the London Press, adding that five gentlemen, who, he thought, could not be considered as men of talent, did go and criticize the work of Mr. Pearson. He had a shrewd suspicion that those five gentlemen were sent by the Royal Academy, and he should not be surprised if Sir Frederick Leighton—one of the most mischievous artistic men in this country—had a finger in this pie. He should not be at all surprised to find that these five gentlemen, who were abused by the First Commissioner of Works, were Royal Academicians in disguise. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock had said he was amazed at the apathy of London in regard to this and similar matters; but the hon. Gentleman who, he believed, was a Scotchman, need not be in the least alarmed at the apathy of London. He (Sir Robert Peel) had seen far more disgraceful actions of this kind committed in London than the hon. Gentleman would imagine possible in the capital of this country. He had seen such apathy on the part of London that even last night he saw, amidst the hootings of a vast mob of people, the statue of the illustrious Duke of Wellington carted away through the streets of the Metropolis amid the most complete apathy. Therefore, when the hon. Member talked of the apathy of London, he (Sir Robert Peel) was not all surprised at it, after seeing these things. But there was one reason why the Committee should pause before agreeing to this proposition of the First Commissioner of Works. He admitted the desire of the right hon. Gentleman to conserve what he had said might be for the general ornamentation of Westminster Hall; but, at the close of his remarks, he dropped a statement that it had been proposed to him, that he could apply this building—upon which £35,000 was to be expended—to various purposes, and that the Stationery Department had consulted him with a view to making there a reservoir for the reception of Blue Books, &c. Could anything be more contemptible? They were to spend £35,000 on this building, in order that it might be devoted to the service of the Stationery Department. Let them go elsewhere. Then the right hon. Gentleman said there was another plan—for making it a standing place for horses. A standing place for horses! Was it worthy of the First Commissioner of Works to come down and ask the Committee to vote £35,000, and £8,000 more, and to state that the building to which this money, and the beautiful plans of Mr. Pearson were to be devoted, was to be made a standing place for horses? He also said it might be possible, between the Stationery Office and its Blue Books, and the standing place for horses, to provide accommodation for the Grand Committees. He thought the right hon. Gentleman, at that late period of the Session, must have rather suffered in his intellect, from the press of Business, because to tell the Committee of the House of Commons that they were to vote £35,000——


£5,000 this year, which will pledge the House.


said, he must protest against the system that was carried on. He protested against granting this money the other day; but he was told that a portion of the money having been voted, it was useless to protest. It was true they were voting only £5,000 now; but they were pledging themselves not only to £35,000, but to nearly £43,000.


said, in explanation, that the £35,000 included the £8,000 for the towers, and therefore all they were committing themselves to now was £27,000; and of that sum £5,000 would go to complete St. Stephen's Porch, in the manner recommended by Sir Charles Barry, and it would, therefore, be required in any case.


said, he had asked whether the £35,000 included the £8,000, and the answer was "No." Well, now, the sum total of this matter was—and he ventured respectfully to put it to the Committee—whether there was any necessity for voting this money, after the speech of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Dick-Peddie), who stated that, for £500, he could cover and protect this wall which they were told dated from the time of Richard II., in order that the House of Commons might, next year, adopt some plans—probably those of Mr. Pearson. There was no necessity for this haste and hurry, and he earnestly hoped the Committee would not agree to it. Although Mr. Pearson's plan looked very pretty and very clever, and would, no doubt, be very appropriate, and although the First Commissioner of Works told them he had consulted the House of Commons, and found hon. Members universally in favour of Mr. Pearson's scheme—though the only Gentleman on that (the Opposition) side of the House whom he had consulted was the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Beresford Hope), whose taste was rather Batavian than English—notwithstanding all this, he thought it was time for the Committee to pause, and he hoped they would not assent to this proposal. They might vote £500 now, have a Select Committee next year, and then carefully and fairly consider these plans. He felt sure that the First Commissioner of Works, who had bestowed so much labour on Metropolitan improvements, would see that this was not an unreasonable request, which he submitted with all humility, but with confidence.


said, that delays were not very profitable. From his experience of public buildings, and after watching what had taken place with regard to them after the plans had been produced to the House and discussed, he must say that the longer the delay the worse had the result been. If 19 Select Committees were to sit, in 19 successive years, they would have practically 19 different conclusions, and somewhere about 21 years would be likely to elapse before the outside decorations of Westminster Hall were completed. They were told that there were three courses open to them; one of which was to plaster up the outside of the building, until a satisfactory scheme was suggested. The next course was to construct a building in uniformity with Westminster Palace. That scheme had struck him as a gigantic one, and it had come from an hon. Member below the Gangway. The next scheme was to place the structure as near as possible in its original ancient condition. The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell), in his able appeal to the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works, had talked about the excessive haste with which the old building had been pulled down, declaring that it ought to have remained standing, until the new one was built. That reminded him (Mr. Macartney) of a speech of the celebrated Member of the Irish Parliament, Sir Boyle Roach, when it was proposed to build the new Irish Parliament Houses on College Green. That hon. Member had proposed that the new building should be made of the materials of the old one, but that the old one should not be pulled down until the new one was completed. It seemed to him that the proposal of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Kirkcaldy was very similar to that of Sir Boyle Roach. ["No, no!"] Yes; the hon. Member had objected to the old building being pulled down before the new one was completed, or something of that kind. It that were the hon. Member's idea, there did not seem to be much likelihood of the project being carried out. There would be that apathy described by the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works, no one caring anything about the improvement, and the eyesore would remain for a number of years. He (Mr. Macartney) hoped the right hon. Gentleman would adhere to his plan, and would not allow himself to be carried away by the proposal of the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy. He trusted that, in the course of three or four years, they would have a handsome addition to the group of buildings which now formed so great an ornament to the Metropolis.


said, he should like to know what would happen next year, if they were to listen to some of the proposals made this year for delay? The same thing would happen—they would be again told to pause. The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell) would come forward and say the plan was a bad one, that he had a better one; or he would come forward and urge some sentimental reason or other for making some kind of alteration. If they were to wait until there was a consensus of opinion amongst architects, sentimentalists, and Gentlemen like the right hon. Baronet the Member for Huntingdon (Sir Robert Peel), they would have to wait for ever. He (Mr. Labouchere) never troubled himself very much about architectural or archæological matters; but he certainly thought that, in this case, they should endeavour to cover Westminster Hall in such a way as to make it harmonize with the buildings around it. Mr. Pearson was a very reliable person; one who might be taken, in a sense, as the representative of his Profession—that was to say, he was regarded by his brother architects as standing very high in the Profession. Well, it did seem to him (Mr. Labouchere) only reasonable, as Mr. Pearson had prepared a plan, and the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works had approved of it, and had submitted it to hon. Gentlemen in the House well known for their architectural taste and views, who had also approved of it, that the Committee should adopt the plan. Instead of going on discussing this question hour after hour, and putting it off to another Session, they should at once give the money to the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works, to enable him to carry out the thing at once, so that when hon. Members came back next year, they might see the thing finished.


said, the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works might well say—"Save me from my friends!" for the hon. Member who had just spoken (Mr. Labouchere) professed to know nothing about architecture and archæology, and simply said—"Here is a dead wall; let us cover it up, at a cost of £35,000." He (Lord Randolph Churchill) did not think the Committee would be inclined to pay such a sum on the strength of an opinion expressed in a tone of almost contempt for the opinion of others. He had never heard anything more truculent, dictatorial, or contemptuous of the views of others. It had appeared to him that he had been listening to a modern edition of Robespierre or Danton, ordering everyone to agree with his opinion. He (Lord Randolph Churchill) had come down to support the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works; but when the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Dick-Peddie), who was a great authority on these matters, had spoken, he was somewhat shaken in his view; and when he had heard the speech of his right hon. Friend the Member for Huntingdon (Sir Robert Peel), who not only was a great authority on art, but who also spoke with the authority that a seat on the Front Opposition Bench always must confer, he had felt that his original intention to support the right hon. Gentleman was one which he could not carry out. He felt bound to join the right hon. Baronet, who, this evening, led the Opposition, in pressing on the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works to accept the £500 which was so lavishly offered him, and not to ask for the much larger sum.


said, he rose for the purpose of obtaining some information. It appeared to him that the plan of the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works was for an open cloister; and he wished to know whether, in sanctioning the plan of the First Commissioner, they were committing themselves to the construction of the open cloister? He believed that this detail of scheme was very objectionable, inasmuch as it would not efficiently protect the old wall. They knew that the cloister in Westminster Abbey was a very slight protection to the wall behind it. They knew that old cloisters had, in many instances, been actually covered in by glass, in order to protect the interior. Then, if there were rooms over the covered cloister, they could not fail to be very cold and uncomfortable. What they were asked to agree to was really only a half-considered plan, as there was nothing decided as to the object of the upper storey of the building. It was said that it might be made a receptacle for stationery, books, and manuscripts; but no one could assert that it was really adapted for those objects. It was said that another part might be devoted to the accommodation of the Grand Committees; but the Grand Committees might be given up, or the place might not be suitable for them. Under the circumstances, he felt bound to support the proposal that they should postpone the Vote until next year.


said, he ventured to support the appeal made on both sides of the House for further delay for the consideration of this important and difficult question. He could lay no claim to the practical knowledge which had been so effectively brought to bear upon this matter by the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Dick-Peddie), and the opinions of an expert so accomplished as Mr. Pearson were not to be lightly controverted. But he ventured, nevertheless, to think there was certainly some reasonable objection to be taken to a design which, confessedly, would have the effect of almost burying the beautiful flying buttresses, whose graceful proportions had been, for the first time for many years, brought to light by the demolition of the old Courts of Justice, and which it was also admitted would have the effect of partly obscuring the windows of the West front. The right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) had said this was a matter in which there were only two alternatives—namely, that of leaving the building as it was, or carrying out the design of Mr. Pearson; but it seemed to him (Mr. Cheetham) that there was still another alternative—namely, to have a single-storied cloister, or, rather, aisle. That would appear preferable to a two-storied building, inasmuch as it would not involve the necessity of burying the flying buttresses, and also of obscuring the windows. Moreover, the carrying out of the plan of Mr. Pearson would involve a considerable, and possibly not very sightly, difference of levels, for the floor of the cloister would be 10 feet below the level of Parliament Street, whilst its roof would only be a few feet above the street level, and that might have the effect of giving a somewhat cellar-like appearance to the cloister. He trusted that the points that had been made during the debate would be thoroughly considered by the First Commissioner of Works, and he further trusted that his right hon. Friend would be able to acquiesce in the appeal for delay.


said, that as to the point mentioned by his hon. Friend (Mr. Cheetham) with regard to the possible alternative of a single-storied cloister, he (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) had himself suggested it to Mr. Pearson. Anyone looking at the plan would see that such an alternative was obvious. He had suggested a plan on that principle to Mr. Pearson; but that gentleman had said that, looking at the matter from an architectural and archæological point of view, he could not recommend the adoption of the alternative. Mr. Pearson considered it extremely important to follow out the old plan, and have a double story, especially with reference to the open arches, as was shown in the lower story. That gentleman considered the double storey of the greatest importance to the dignity of the building; and the view he (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) took in the matter was that, in such a point of detail, they ought to follow the advice of this gentleman, who was a leading man in his Profession. More mistakes had been made by taking an architect into counsel, and then not following his advice in details, than in any other way. Whatever his (Mr. Shaw Lefevre's) original opinion might have boon, he had waived it entirely in deference to the strongly-expressed opinion of an architect of such eminence as Mr. Pearson. Even if they referred the matter to a Select Committee, he should deprecate a Committee making any alteration in a detail of this kind, which should be left entirely to the professional man. He believed it would not be wise to interfere with Mr. Pearson's plan in this matter.


said, he very often had pleasure in supporting the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Shaw Lefevre); but, on this occasion, he regretted to say that he must differ from him. What he (Mr. Gregory) would venture to urge upon the right hon. Gentleman was whether it was really worth while to divide the Committee on the matter. They were all agreed that a sufficient sum of money should be granted for the preservation of the existing wall and of the buttresses that supported it; and they were all likewise agreed that the right hon. Gentleman would be justified in clearing the site. They knew exactly what the site was, and the question they had to consider was how it should be covered. In many respects, the plan submitted was a beautiful architectural design; but whether it was one which afforded the conveniences which were required was a question that had been argued in an elaborate way by the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Dick-Peddie), which he (Mr. Gregory) confessed had carried conviction to a great many minds. One point, in particular, the hon. Member had dealt with had not been met to his (Mr. Gregory's) satisfaction, and that was the construction of a number of small buildings or apartments which would be practically useless. There was also a proposal for putting stationery in the apartments to be constructed; but the stationery and documents should always be preserved in a place which was not exposed to fire; and it certainly appeared to him it would be a bad plan to put Records in a combustible material in one of the oldest parts of Westminster Palace. If they adopted the Vote, it would be a confirmation of that design, and they did not want to confirm or to accept any design at the present moment, but simply desired delay in order that they might further consider the matter. If the Vote were adopted, they would be pledged to Mr. Pearson's design, and could have no further consideration of the subject. He had had some experience of architectural designs, and he did think that before any plan was adopted, it should have careful and exhaustive consideration. In the past they had suffered very much for want of proper consideration in architectural affairs. That had been the case with regard to the Courts of Law. To his mind, the wisest course would be for them to adjourn the consideration of this design for the present, and to consider the matter very carefully during the winter, during which period the work would not be able to go on with much effect, even if a plan were decided upon. The building, as it at present stood, might, by the expenditure of an adequate sum of money, be sufficiently protected in the interim; and then in the spring they could decide upon what to do, and proceed with the work satisfactorily.


said, he wished to state that almost the last word which fell from the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Commissioner of Works (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) had decided him in favour of the proposal of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Dick-Peddie), for the reason that he preferred the first view which had been entertained by the right hon. Gentleman, and desired that it should be reconsidered. He did not think they should discuss this great question on the mere dictum of an architect, however eminent he might be. Though Mr. Pearson might be a very able man in his Profession, he could not be the only one who had a reliable opinion to give. He (Mr. Cropper), for his own part, looked upon the matter as insufficiently considered; and he very much regretted the change which had taken place in that part of Westminster Hall. He missed that flow of business from the great Chambers which they had been so familiar with; he missed the caps and the gowns and the throngs of suitors hurrying to and fro, and regretted they had changed for those knots of country visitors, who came with a vacant stare merely to look at the place and go out again. Mr. Pearson's proposal with regard to cloisters seemed to him to be a matter of architectural speculation. There seemed to him some difficulty in matters of ingress and egress—when anybody got into the cloisters, how were they to get out again; and how were they to get in, seeing that one end of the place was 10 feet below the street? All the proposals as to the occupation of the long gallery above the cloister had apparently only been offered as a sort of makeweight. The matter could not be considered and decided at once; therefore, though he very much regretted being obliged to oppose the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works (Mr. Shaw Lefevre), he could not but think that he was bound to support the plea for delay.


said, he ventured to rise to address the Committee on this subject, because it had been his experience, as it had been the experience of most people who had had anything to do with the erection of buildings of this kind, that haste was very often fatal to the successful carrying out of designs. He did not regard the matter solely from the point of view of the hon. Gentleman who sat near him (Mr. Dick-Peddie), as he believed there were other methods for keeping the matter in abeyance until the House of Commons had had proper time to consider it than that pointed out by the hon. Member. When the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works had come to the utilitarian part of his subject, it had appeared to him (Mr. Illingworth) that the right hon. Gentleman's statement was extremely disappointing. It had seemed to him that the right hon. Gentleman's intention was to put up a building merely because the architect thought it necessary to cover an eyesore, but that he had not considered or impressed the mind of the architect with the point of improvement of the accommodation of this great House of Commons in carrying out the project. Just now, the House of Commons was going through a transition period. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works whether he was prepared to condemn the plan of the Grand Committees? If he was not, he must agree that, in the future, further accommodation would be wanted; and if that were the case, was it altogether out of the question to consider whether some day or other this vacant site might not be invaluable for the purpose of providing that additional accommodation? Many hon. Members were of opinion that there was a great want of accommodation in this House. When deputations came to wait upon Ministers or Members, it might be with a plea for the extension of the suffrage, or it might be a body of Memorialists sent by constituents—whatever it were, more accommodation than was at present available was required on these occasions. It was disgraceful that, while there had been such extravagance in the construction and fitting up of this great pile of buildings, so little attention had been paid to the utilitarian part of the arrangements. After all, the House of Commons did not exist for the purpose of perpetuating the architectural art ideas of Henry VIII., or the ideas that prevailed in the time of Richard II. While he would wish to run as far as possible in harmony with the buildings already existing, he should think the House of Commons would be very much to blame if it granted this large sum of money, which was only the beginning of the expense and not the total, for the carrying out of this proposed improvement. None of these public buildings had ever been constructed under the original Estimate. Without condemning finally the proposals of the architect, so strongly approved of by the right hon. Gentleman, he still thought that no serious harm would be done by granting a little delay, and he therefore thought the suggestion for delay one worthy of the adoption of the Committee.


said, that, in view of the difference of opinion which seemed to prevail, he would not ask the Committee now to vote that portion of the sum which was to have been devoted to the erection of a cloister. There were, however, other matters which had to be considered in regard to which no disapproval had been expressed by hon. Members, such as the repair of the buttresses themselves. If the House would allow him to take £3,000 for that purpose—namely, for the repair of the buttresses—he would content himself with that, and would not ask for the larger sum. The matter of the general plan to be adopted would then stand over until next Session, when, probably, more Members would be present who would take part in the discussion of the question.


said, he had proposed to allow the right hon. Gentleman £4,000; but if he was willing to take £3,000, he need not say he should be delighted to withdraw his Motion, in order to assent to that proposal. He (Sir George Campbell) should be quite ready to withdraw his Amendment.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Original Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

(6.) Motion made, and Question, That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £3,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1885, for the Buildings of the Houses of Parliament,"—(Mr. Shaw Lefevre,) —put, and agreed to.

(7.) £138,568, to complete the sum for Public Buildings, Ireland.