HC Deb 17 March 1898 vol 55 cc106-29

Considered in Committee.

[Mr. J. W. LOWTHER (Cumberland, Penrith, Chairman of Ways and Means) in the Chair.]

Motion made and Question put— That it is expedient to provide for defraying the expenses of the purchase of land and buildings and the construction of buildings and works in connection with certain Public Departments, and to authorise the issue, out of the Consolidated Fund, of such sums, not exceeding in the whole £2,550,000, as may be required by the Commissioners of Works for such purposes, and to authorise the application of the surplus of income above expenditure for the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1898, to the extent of £2,550,000, to the payment of any sums hereby authorised to be issued out of the Consolidated Fund.


In rising to move the Resolution of which I gave notice last night in connection with the grant to be asked for, for the erection of certain public buildings in London, I propose to make as short an explanation as I can of the object for which the Government require the money, and the methods by which we shall seek to obtain it. For half a century schemes have constantly been put forward for re-housing Public Departments, for which, up to the present, accommodation has been acquired as necessity arose—in a hand-to-mouth fashion—a method exceedingly inconvenient and extremely expensive. Committees of this House have sat and reported—always adversely—to the existing practice, and always in favour of providing proper and permanent accommodation in place of that given in unsatisfactory premises temporarily hired. The method at present in use is contrary to good administration, proper control, and economy. I cannot give the Committee a better illustration of the inconvenience of the present system than the present condition and situation of the War Office buildings. None of these various buildings which house—so inefficiently—the War Department were designed or built for a public Department. They are a collection of old houses scattered over a large area, many of them ill-adapted and not too healthy or too well ventilated. The War Office is now located in something like 11 different buildings, which are situated as follows:—80–91. Pall Mall; Winchester House, St. James' Square; 5, Craig's Court; 18, Victoria Street; 16 and 18, Queen Anne's Gate; 12, Carteret Street; 7, Victoria Street; 27, Parliament Street; and 5, King Street. The Board of Trade is housed, likewise, in eight or nine buildings; and the Home Office and Local Government Board, and Education Office are similarly situated. Under such circumstances, good administration and proper control are impossible. With regard to the question of economy the present system is equally faulty. While we are hiring these temporary buildings we are allowing large plots of land, most suitable and convenient, to lie idle. It appeared from the evidence given before the Sites Committee of 1896 that whilst the country is paying no less a sum than £16,000 a year for temporary office accommodation, irrespective of, and in addition to, premises on Crown land—a sum which would be released if this scheme is carried through—it is allowing land of similar or even greater rental value to remain derelict. The rental of the unused land in Whitehall (on which Carrington House formerly stood) and the adjoining wilderness has been estimated at £10,000 a year, while the vacant land in Charles Street, acquired in 1866, was, in 1892, valued at £130,000. For 30 years, therefore, this has practically earned no dividend. I would further point out that the loss to the taxpayer is not represented solely by the cost of these temporary buildings. Large sums have been sunk in adapting wholly unsuitable leasehold premises to the requirements of the offices, whilst a multiplication of caretakers, office-keepers, and staff, tending to considerably increase the yearly estimates, has been the inevitable result of a lack of proper concentration. The Government have determined to put an end to this state of things, and since they took office have steadily worked to that end. In 1895 they introduced and carried a Measure authorising the expenditure of £450,000 on the purchase of the Parliament Street site. In 1896 they obtained a second Bill, authorising the compulsory purchase of that site. In the same year they appointed a Select Committee, To inquire into and report on the manner in which the sites available for the erection of new buildings required for Government offices may best be appropriated for that purpose. That Committee recommended, first, the purchase of the Carrington House site for the erection of a War Office, and in 1897 a Bill was introduced and carried authorising the expenditure of £500,000 to that end. The Committee were reappointed last year, and concluded their labours by a further report, in which, inter alia, they recommended the appropriation of the Parliament Street site for the Board of Trade, the Education Department, and the extension of the Local Government Board, and confirmed their opinion of the year before as to the fitness of the Whitehall site for the War Office. We have now acquired, or have power to acquire, the whole of the sites recommended by the Committee, and necessary to meet the requirements of the principal departments—the War Office, the Local Government Board, the Board of Trade, Education, and extension of Home Office—and now ask Parliament to give us the necessary money to proceed forthwith with the buildings. The method we propose to adopt is to proceed by a Bill to provide the necessary expenses out of the Consolidated Fund. The advantage of proceeding by Bill to take a lump sum out of the Consolidated Fund is apparent. It is obvious in all matters connected with building that it is unwise and uneconomical to proceed haphazard. A recognised scheme must be settled, and the work steadily proceeded with. This course is exceedingly difficult under the system of annual Estimates. Money available one year may not be forthcoming the next. A prolonged frost or bad weather may stop the works, and the money voted for the year is not nearly all spent, the balance has to be returned to the Exchequer, and the money has to be re-voted in a following Session. Our method also settles definitely the adoption of the schemes, and removes them from risks of changes of policy which have been so fatal in the past. The items of the sum we ask for are made up as follows:—War Office (for works recommended by Select Committee): we ask first for £475,000 for the building of the War Office, to be erected on the Whitehall site—that is the site formerly occupied by Carrington House, and the adjoining land, including Whitehall Place. It contains an area of 76,000 square feet net. The area is slightly larger than that asked for by the War Department, thus leaving room for future expansion if required. We ask for £600,000 for the erection of the buildings on the Parliament Street site, to house the Board of Trade, Education Office, and extension of the Local Government Board, with another £100,000 for completion of purchase of site—making in all £700,000. This proposal carries with it the widening of Parliament Street. In addition to these buildings, all of which were recommended by the Select Committee of last year, for the completion of the Admiralty as now arranged, we ask £125,000, together with £150,000 to provide for a further extension to be built on sites already in our possession. This is an extension rendered necessary by the increase of staff at the Admiralty, in consequence of the recent large increase of the Navy, making in all, for the Admiralty, £275,000. We also ask for £300,000 for Post Office buildings. It is proposed to obtain, for further Post Office accommodation, the building in Queen Victoria Street now owned by the Savings Bank. This building is barely largo enough for its present occupants, and quite unequal to extension, which will soon be necessary. It is proposed to build a new Savings Bank at West Kensington, and to purchase the present Savings Bank for Post Office branches now in inconvenient temporary hired buildings. Lastly, we ask for £800,000 for the completion of the South Kensington buildings for science and art. The completion of these buildings has long been demanded by the House and the public. In 1891 a decision was come to to proceed with a building to complete the accommodation for the Art Museum, and for housing the administrative branch of the Science and Art Department. Plans were actually prepared by Mr. Aston Webb, and accepted, for a building to occupy the land on the south side of the museum site, facing Cromwell Road, but the resources at the disposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer unfortunately did not admit of the grant of the necessary funds. Hence the scheme has been in abeyance. Since that scheme was formulated, and in consequence of the report of the Secondary Education Commission, it has been in contemplation to move to the Education Office the secretariat of the Science and Art Department, and further, a decision has been arrived at—based on a recommendation of the Select Committee on South Kensington Museum of last year—to remove the official residences and certain other buildings, which were considered a source of danger from fire. With this additional space at our disposal it is possible to provide, on the eastern side of Exhibition Road, the necessary accommodation for both art and science. It is, therefore, intended to erect, in addition to the building proposed in 1891, further buildings which will complete the frontage on both Cromwell and Exhibition Roads, and which, in the opinion of the Government, will amply meet the requirements of both branches (of art and science) for many branches of art and science for many years to come. These items—namely, War Office, £475,000; Parliament Street offices, £700,000; South Kensington, £800,000; Admiralty, £275,000; and Post Office, £300,000—bring the total up to £2,550,000. I ought, however, to mention that there will ultimately be a very considerable set-off to this figure by the release and disposal of the War Office buildings and site in Pall Mall, and of that of the Board of Trade in Whitehall, the estimated value of which, together with the capitalisation of rent now paid for temporary offices, will amount to over £1,000,000. The Government do not maintain that this is a final and complete scheme for housing all the Government Departments, but they consider it meets all the pressing needs of the service. They earnestly recommend it to the Committee in full confidence that the necessary supplies will be granted, and in the conviction that it will materially facilitate the administration of the service, greatly improve the approaches to the Houses of Parliament, and add largely to the architectural beauty of the Metropolis.

MR. H. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)

I should just like to ask the right hon. Gentleman, in order that we may somewhat more clearly comprehend, what he contemplates doing in Parliament Street. It has been the almost invariable rule in these matters to invite a number of architects to send in plans, from which one is selected and worked upon. Now, it appears to me that, although we may get a more or less beautiful building externally, these gentlemen are not conversant with the requirements of public offices internally; and the right hon. Gentleman will bear me out when I say there is an absence of fitting accommodation in the public buildings at the present time. I see no reason why the Department should not build these premises themselves. [The FIRST COMMISSIONER of WORKS: We have no plans.] I have not entered into the question of whether you have plans or not. The point which I am desirous of urging is that it is certainly undesirable to invite a number of architects to compete when there are officials in the Board of Works Department who thoroughly understand what is required in the internal arrangements of a public office, and I should have thought they could have built it themselves more conveniently, having regard to their knowledge of the accommodation required.

MR. JAMES LOWTHER (Kent, Isle of Thanet)

Before the right hon. Gentleman replies I should like to inquire what is the extent of the area, of which he spoke, of the Park Street site. I did not quite follow that. As I understood my right hon. Friend, the site includes one side of Parliament Street, both sides of King Street, and then continues west-wards. What I wish to ascertain is whether it includes all the ground right up to St. James's Park. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the undesirability of purchasing the site piecemeal. Now, I remember very well some years ago, when it was in the power of the Government to acquire, for a similar scheme, at a price very much less than at present, the site which is now referred to; but that scheme was abandoned, and a very great deal has been done since in the shape of buildings of a modern character, which has greatly enhanced the value of the land, and which involves a considerable expenditure in excess of what would have been necessary for the purchase of the site had the original scheme been carried out. What I desire to know is, whether the Government now contemplate taking the whole of the land from Parliament Street, through King Street, and up to St. James's Park, or whether they contemplate leaving a fringe of land between the Park and King Street, the value of which may become enormously enhanced by the time it is required for Government purposes. And while I am upon the subject of land I should like to ask my right hon. Friend, in connection with the Post Office at St. Martin's-le-Grand, whether he has ever inquired as to the price which those sites would realise, having regard to the value of land in the City and whether it has ever occurred to him that the sale of the Government interest in that land and the Post Office buildings would be a very profitable bargain to the country. We have already been compelled to split up the Post Office and branch out in one place and another, and I should like to know whether the right hon. Gentleman does not think that the concentration of the Post Office upon some site to be acquired would be desirable. With regard to Parliament Street, I do urge the right hon. Gentleman that, whatever his intentions are with regard to the buildings, he will take the whole of the land now, instead of acquiring it piecemeal.

MR. J. DILLON (Mayo, E.)

The people of Ireland are strongly opposed to the enormous sums that are being voted for the Army and Navy, and we are also opposed to this increased expenditure on the War Office. We are opposed to it because, from the Irish point of view, we think it is adding insult to injury, when we have a claim for the adjustment of the financial relations between Ireland and England, instead of our getting any opportunity of adjusting them, we see this kind of expenditure rising up by leaps and bounds. England, no doubt, is rioting in the superabundance of her unparalleled prosperity, but the people in Ireland are starving, and an expenditure which brings no kind of benefit to that country is an outrage upon the Irish people. English Radicals appear to have forgotten the traditions of their Party in those modern days. I remember very well, in the old days, that I never heard an increase of expenditure proposed, especially for ornament, without a leading member of the Radical Party rose up and opposed it. Looking at this proposal from the point of view of the true Radical spirit, I cannot understand why it has not been opposed. I cannot understand why the demand for nearly half a million sterling to build a new War Office is not made the occasion for obtaining some assurance that there will be some reform in the administration of the War Office. I have seen columns in the Times day after day from the hon. Member for West Belfast and the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean and other great authorities on War Office administration, pointing out that the waste and inefficiency and overmanning of the War Office is a scandal to the Government of this country. Now, as I understand, without the smallest assurance or promise of any serious attempt to reform the War Office administration, the House of Commons is solemnly asked to vote half a million sterling for its further accommodation. I do not know whether the precise demand of the Government for the extension of the War Office entails, but I suppose it does, the employment of further clerks. I am strongly opposed also to the proposed extension of the Admiralty Office. I remember last year, or the year before, that a demand was made and large sums were voted with respect to the Admiralty Office, the foundations of which were found, upon excavation, to be insecure, and now we are asked to grant a further £160,000, in order to increase the accommodation of the Admiralty. The next demand, I apprehend, will be for the salaries for the new clerks, when there is accommodation for them. For my own part, and on behalf of other Radicals, if I can get them to support me, I shall divide against this Resolution.

SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Monmouthshire, W.)

I do not agree with the hon. Member for East Mayo in his view of economy; nor do I think that that is a question which really arises here, because when you determine upon an expenditure for the Army and Navy it is certainly a distinct question as to whether or not those Services should be properly provided with places in which they should be administered. A great deal of work requires to be done in order to facilitate the administration of a great many offices of State, and anyone acquainted with the matter will readily admit that. I think my right hon. Friend the First Commissioner of Works did scant justice to his predecessor when he said this was first discovered in 1895, because in the last Administration he had already begun providing plans for public buildings, and especially doing that work with reference to King Street. I only put in that claim. No doubt this is a much, larger and more expensive proposal than that which we had contemplated, and I only rise for the purpose of pointing out that this is only a preliminary and necessary financial resolution. The matter in general and in detail will be dealt with by a Bill, and upon that Bill it will be open to all of us to discuss the propriety of each of these proposals and the amount of money which we shall agree shall be spent upon them. I confess it seems to me that some of the sums are portentous. I think the expenditure of £800,000 on South Kensington is a startling amount. It is double the amount which is to be expended upon the War Office; but I shall reserve all criticism to these proposals until the Bill itself is brought before us. The right hon. Gentleman said he thought that these public buildings would not only redound to the credit of the Administration, but would also add to the decoration of the metropolis. I wish I had that confidence. I cannot say that that has been my experience with regard to public buildings which have been erected during the last 20 years. I am reminded of the lines of Byron, in which it was asserted of certain poetry that "The most recent was the least decent," and I say that the most recent public buildings erected in succession appear worse than the others. There is one thing I hope the right hon. Gentleman will bear in mind as a condition which has been totally overlooked in the past, which is that the building of these public offices should have some reference to the uses for which they are intended. That is a thing which has been totally disregarded in the past, as I can testify myself, in that great block of buildings which includes the Home Office, the Foreign Office and the Colonial Office. It is impossible to conceive places less adapted for the purposes for which they were intended. I am told that the modern Admiralty, in that respect, is an improvement, and that there are rooms there which are fitted for the purposes of those who occupy them; but in these various great blocks in Whitehall that is not so. Even on a midsummer day, when you come from the public offices in Whitehall and wish to go to the Foreign Office, you cannot get there except by going through a passage lighted by gas. Then look at the Royal Courts of Justice and this House. I do not know whether the building which has been erected for the accommodation of the police at Westminster Bridge can be regarded as a decoration to the metropolis, but it is rather inferior, in my opinion, in architectural beauty to the premises of Messrs. Crosse and Blackwell, which face it on the other side of the river; and I really hope, if we are going to spend two millions and a half of money, or anything like that sum, on modern buildings, we shall proceed on some different plan to that which has been adopted in the past, and which has proved to be most unsatisfactory. The question put by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Thanet is as to whether the Parliament Street site is to go down to St. James's Park, or whether it is to stop short and leave a portion between King Street and the Park. That is a question of expense which has to be considered, and one of those matters which in my opinion we may properly discuss when the Bill is brought before us. The Bill, I presume, will contain a schedule of the various provisions which have to be made to these various buildings, but we do not bind ourselves—I should like to hear this from the Chancellor of the Exchequer—if we take these preliminaries in this Resolution, we do not by that bind ourselves. [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER: Oh, no!] Then we can discuss those matters when the Bill comes before us. So far as the Resolution merely asserts the proposition that a sum of money shall be, and in my opinion would be, economically expended in further buildings for the administration of these offices, I shall certainly support it.

MR. J. BURNS (Battersea)

As a Member of the two Select Committees which sat to inquire into the advisability of further public Government buildings I support the Resolution moved by the Chief Commissioner of Works, and in doing so I wish to say it is not necessary for any Member of this House to identify himself with the deification of Tommy Atkins and the military spirit prevalent in this country in so doing. Neither is it necessary to associate oneself with any views as to the readjustment of the financial arrangements between England and Ireland. I share the views of the hon. Member for East Mayo. Yet I support this Motion, and I contend, if we want a substantial and permanent reform of the War Office, the most effective method by which that can be brought about is by bringing the War Office officials into a decent building where they could be subjected to the public gaze, where we shall no longer find talent hidden and incompetence obscured, and that Members of Parliament should have an opportunity of going into a decent place when they require information instead of the present rabbit-warren in which the Government officials hide their diminished heads. I think a new building is necessary. With regard to the criticisms which have been passed with respect to certain of the public buildings which have recently been erected, I would suggest that the way out of that difficulty would be to allow Sir John Taylor, the excellent superintendent of the Chief Commissioner of Works, to co-operate with the architects who are tendering plans. He has had a long and varied experience of great buildings, he is a man of great ability, and he knows exactly what is wanted in large public offices; and I venture to say that if the plans and specifications are submitted to the utilitarian experience of Sir John Taylor that difficulty will be removed. The building to which the Leader of the Opposition has referred. I believe will be removed. I agree with that general view. This is for its purpose a very large sum, £2,500,000, but I would ask those Members of the House who were not here when the First Commissioner of Works spoke to remember that as a set-off to that £2,500,000 there is £1,000,000, in consequence of rents being saved and land which is vacant being now utilized, if the proposals of the Bill are carried out. I know nothing more detrimental to good administration and to the proper control of municipal or Government officials than that of doing away with the old and detached and too numerous buildings in which many Government officers and officers of municipalities are compelled to do their work. A large number of old, detached buildings are costly to preserve from the fact that they need an extraordinary sum for cleaning and watching, and where you have a large staff in detached buildings the amount of supervision and control is hardly worth the name, and the result is that the staff gets lax in its administration, and the only way out of it is to follow the example which commercial concerns and banks adopt; that is, to mass our staff into one perfectly-equipped building and have perfect control and rigorous supervision. Anyone who has been to the Board of Trade buildings on business must frankly admit that that building is a disgrace to any public, department. Why the officials at the Board of Trade do not organise a strike against working in that building, and why the President of the Local Government Board has not scheduled it as an insanitary area, I cannot conceive. It is a disgrace to any Government, and I am glad to hear that the Board of Trade will get into the new offices in Parliament Street shortly. We all of us agree, those who have been on the Committee, at any rate, that the Educational Department is sadly in need of better accommodation. I have heard with pleasure from the First Commissioner of Works that a large part of the staff at South Kensington will be able to be housed in Parliament Street, where many they ought to have been housed years ago. The increasing demand on the Local Government Board by the extension of municipal life in this country necessitates that that Board should have more room at its disposal, and, consequently, with regard to the Board of Trade and the Local Government Board, the Chief Commissioner of Works has more than made out his case. Now, Sir, I have one other thing to add, and it is based upon the experience of the South Kensington Museum. I trust that in all the new offices that are to be erected the Chief Commissioner of Works will stipulate that beyond the fireman and a few necessary policemen and the caretakers, no official residences will be incorporated in the new offices or in the new buildings. From every point of view that is an advantage. There is no competent chief of a fire brigade who will not contend that to have official residences in a public building is a source of danger to that building itself, and in the course of our investigations, with regard to the South Kensington Museum we found that while the Department were clamouring for increased accommodation for objects improperly housed at present 102 rooms were occupied by officials who had absolutely no right to claim house accommodation on that particular staff. Now, I rejoice that the Chief Commissioner of Works has had the courage to clear out those officials, lock, stock, and barrel, and I sincerely trust that when any of these officers are elected there will be no official on any account whatever allowed to quarter himself in very decent and palatial accommodation at the expense of the country. With regard to the expense of South Kensington Museum, £800,000 does seem a very large amount to spend on the finishing of the South Kensington Museum building. But, Sir, if any foreigner who has come to England and has made himself acquainted with one of the finest collections in the world, which the South Kensington Museum undoubtedly possesses, he is ashamed of the way that collection has been housed. Looking at the Museum from the main road, it looks like a cross between a tramway stable and a goods yard—at any rate, it is not much like a museum or an educational centre. And now that the Brompton Oratory is finished, and there are many fine buildings being built in close proximity to South Kensington, I hope the Government will not be influenced by any criticisms as to the amount of money necessary to finish this work, but will press forward with the completion of that excellent institution as soon as possible. I trust that the Chief Commissioner of Works, before the plans are finally determined upon, will exhibit them in the tea-room of the House of Commons. I would go further and suggest, if it were possible, to get together from Members of the House a small committee of those who are acquainted with official municipal administration, and with the housing of staff, coupled with one or two permanent officials, like Sir John Taylor. We could then discuss the buildings which are to be erected out of this money free from the pertinent criticisms to which the Leader of the Opposition has subjected some of the Government buildings recently erected. Having sat on some of these Committees during the past two years, and as one who does not share the extravagant views put forward, both on the War Office Vote and many other items of expenditure, I believe as an economist that it is an economical thing to have the offices for the Government staff large and commodious, and the staff well housed in decent, healthy offices with every accommodation, if we want the government of this country well carried out. It is because this sum meets a long-felt want that I support the Motion, and I trust the House will do the same.


I merely wish to relate a circumstance within my own knowledge which at once confirms the view taken by the Government of the necessity of what they are going to do, and also to support the criticism, made by my hon. Friend near me on some; of our recent buildings. In 1874 there was a change of Government, and the present Lord Cranbrook was then appointed Secretary for War. The first thing he did was to go over to the office to which he had been appointed, and he was so shocked and horrified by the condition of that office—to use the expression he employed in speaking of it to me—shocked at the idea that, gentlemen should be invited to serve the country in such wretched places as we provide for them, that he brought the matter before his colleagues, and as at that very moment the large block of buildings now-occupied by the Home Office and the Local Government Board had just been completed, he said— I will not be responsible for keeping my clerks in such a place as the War Office while there is this other office in which they can be placed. I therefore claim the first right to the new buildings for the officials of the War Office. This was agreed to by the Government of the day, and the heads of the War Department went down and inspected the new building, and when they came Lack they said to Mr. Gathorne-Hardy— Let us stay where we are, because, bad as the old buildings are, and founded as they are upon a series of disused cesspools, we prefer them to the ghastly, ghostly, uncomfortable, dark, draughty, incommodious, inconvenient building which you have been good enough to build for us. However, Mr. Lowther, that was 24 rears ago, and since that time the cesspools under the War Office have been discovered and dealt with, but the inconvenience has remained, and has become aggravated since then, so that it is certainly high time that a, new War Office was erected. That was the opinion formed by experienced servants of the most modern building that had then been erected. I entirely agree with what my right hon. Friend has said. We do not want those dark corridors and those enormous rooms. The dignity and comfort of a room do not depend upon its size, but upon its proportions, and I can conceive of nothing more injurious to the despatch of public business than that public servants, who are heads or subordinate members, should be obliged to serve the country in such places as even in most of our more modern buildings they are obliged to live.

MR. L. H. COURTNEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)

There are one or two observations I should like to make with reference to the Motion before the House. My right hon. Friend the First Commissioner of Works proposes to remove the Post Office Savings Bank in Queen Victoria Street. I confess that I have often thought of the terrible waste which is involved in the maintenance of that building. The second part I should like to draw attention to is that this Motion before the Committee is not one which merely relates to the building, but the Main proposal of the First Commissioner of Works involves he withdrawal of £2,500,000, which is taken out of the surplus of the present year. To do this is no doubt a very convenient thing, but apart from this sum being appropriated for this purpose it should be remembered that this surplus ought to be applied to the reduction of the National Debt. If it is going to be appropriated for this purpose, it means an increase in the National Debt, and practically we are making this expenditure by the outlay of capital for the repayment of which there is no provision whatever. I think we ought to feel a little more than we do the importance of this matter, and pay some attention to the machinery we have kept up for the redemption of the National Debt, and the Committee should not allow this surplus to be appropriated for this purpose without some compensating provision being made. I do think the Chancellor of the Exchequer would do well to consider whether it would not be expedient to establish contemporaneously with the appropriation of this sum for the building of these offices some provision to provide the raising within a limited number of years of an annual sum which would repay what will be otherwise lost for the purposes of redeeming the permanent burdens of the people. I do not think we are justified in appropriating sums of this kind without making provision for their repayment, and this matter should not be lost sight of. I hope the Committee will consider this matter before the present proposal leaves the House, for it is a point to which we should have attention called at once.

MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)

There are two points of view from which to look at this question—the English and the Irish. With regard to the English point of view, several English Members have already spoken upon it, but I wish to reiterate what has been raised by my hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo. Our point of view is that we are compelled to pay one-twelfth of the expenditure of this country, whereas our real proportion is only about one-twentieth, and we are obliged to pay that which is a far larger amount than is just. The Chancellor of the Exchequer or any other Member of the Government has not given any indication of a desire to remedy this grievance, and as long as it exists it is our duty to seize every opportunity of bringing the matter before this House. Mr. Lowther, the grievance which this causes is made a little worse by the fact that this £200,000, which Irishmen contribute to, is to be spent entirely in London, without a single penny of it going for the benefit of Ireland. Secondly, this large sum of money is to be spent at a time when there is real distress existing in many of the poor agricultural districts of Ireland. For these reasons I wish to protest against this expenditure.


The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition has very rightly called my attention to a slip of memory upon this occasion, and that is the omission I made in not paying a tribute to the very great assistance which has been rendered me by the furtherance of this scheme by my predecessor in office, for it has given me an early opportunity of bringing this question forward. The right hon. Gentleman has made allusion to the unfortunate condition of the Government offices. Well, Sir, I share with the Leader of the Opposition the opinion that many of our public buildings raised in recent years have not given that amount of accommodation which was required and felt to be necessary. I know well the room in which the right hon. Gentleman was content to sit for a number of years, and I am, quite certain that no one will consider that the room is sufficiently commodious to properly transact the business of this Department. Now, Sir, I hope the Committee will not press me to go into many details, inasmuch as there will be future opportunities afforded to consider the Bill in Committee. With regard to the question which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton raised, as to the appointment of architects, I may say that it is certainly not the intention of the Government to go to public competition on this subject, because I think it is generally admitted that this practice has failed in the past, and that it is a rather dangerous policy. I venture to think that by adopting the policy they propose to pursue, of themselves seeing, through Sir John Taylor, who will act as their assessor, that the interior of the offices is such as will meet the requirements of the case, and then appointing an architect for the purpose of clothing the building, they are more likely to get offices which will meet the requirements of the public service, and give a certain amount of comfort to those who are compelled to work in them. At all events, I assure the Committee that the best endeavours of myself and my Department will be made to see that proper accommodation is afforded in the offices, and, at the same time, that a fit and proper elevation, and one which is in keeping with the surroundings, will be secured. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Thanet asked me with regard to the site in Parliament Street. The site is bounded by Parliament Street in a line, more or less, with the existing Home Office. I say more or less because it might be necessary for architectural purposes to go back from the line drawn from the Home Office to one in alignment with the Treasury. It will be bounded on the other sides by the building of the Institute of Civil Engineers, by Charles Street, and by Delahay Street. So far as I am concerned, I should like to have acquired Delahay Street and the remainder of Great George Street, but I do not know if the Committee would have been in the same frame of mind as they are in now if I had asked them for the expenditure of another million of money, which the extension of the scheme would have cost. We have felt that a large demand has been made upon Parliament for these buildings, and we did not think it right to ask for a larger sum of money than was required to provide those buildings for the public service, which we thought were absolutely necessary. The hon. Member for Battersea has asked me with regard to the official residences at South Kensington. It is the intention of the Government to remove those residences, and we hope by that means to obtain a good portion of the site which would be available for the erection of buildings. In regard to another question raised by the Member for Battersea, I entirely agree with him that there should be no official residences in these new public offices. I have always held very strongly that an office is much safer in charge of a night watchman and fireman than it could possibly be in charge of an officer who lives in the house and has open grates and other means of creating a conflagration. My right hon. Friend the Member for the Isle (if Thanet asks me whether we have considered the possibility of getting rid of St. Martin's-le-Grand. The Government have not taken that into consideration, but they have gone some way to meet the views of my right hon. Friend by deciding that the extension of the Savings Bank shall be built at South Kensington, where land can be obtained at a cheap price, rather than in the City, where we should have to pay through the nose for our site. I do hope that, having answered these queries of my hon. Friends, they will allow us to pass this Resolution.

MR. T. C. T. WARNER (Stafford, Lichfield)

Does this scheme include the carrying through of a street from the Mall into Whitehall? I hope the vacant spaces will be built over at once, and that they will not be left empty for a long time as they have been in the past. I must say I do not like the system of payment out of the surplus, because it is a wrong system. An amount of money ought to be paid year by year as it is expended. The sums ought to go into a yearly account and not be confused in this way by paying expenditure out of capital.


There is one question I should like to ask. It has been suggested by one hon. Member that the £1,000,000 which will be received for the spaces which will be available when the new offices are built will be deducted from the £2,500,000. Is that so? Is the calculation made on the basis of that £2,500,000, or will it be less by the £1,000,000 we shall receive?


Less by £1,000,000 sterling,

the value of the site and premises released.

MR. E. MORTON (Devonport)

Will the right hon. Gentleman inform us if the design decided upon will enable the possibility of future extension? A most conspicuous instance of what I mean is the case of the Law Courts. They were decided upon during the administration of the late Mr. Ayrton. The original design, contemplated one large hall out of which the courts were to open as they used to do in Westminster Hall. The size of the hall was something like that of Westminster. That was objected to on the ground of expense, and the result is that, instead of having the courts opening into one hall, we have a large corridor with a defective system of ventilation, and then we have a large sum expended on a hall in the middle. The money has been absolutely thrown away. I only mention that as an instance of what has been done in the past. I should like to know whether the design is such as to allow further extension.


It is intended that the design shall be capable of extension hereafter. The scheme does not include the extension of the Mall, but the Government have decided to open the Mall into Whitehall. They cannot, do so yet, as the buildings standing there are now in use by the Admiralty.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 265; Noes 15.

Allen, Wm. (Newc.-under-L.) Barton, Dunbar Plunket Caldwell, James
Allsopp, Hon. George Beach, Rt, Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristl.) Cameron, Sir Chas. (Glasgow)
Arrol, Sir William Beckett, Ernest William Cameron, Robt. (Durham)
Ascroft, Robert Begg, Ferdinand Faithful Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.
Asher, Alexander Beresford, Lord Charles Carmichael, Sir T. D. Gibson-
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Bhownaggree, Sir M. M. Carson, Rt. Hon. Edward
Austin, Sir John (Yorkshire) Bill, Charles Causton, Richard Knight
Baden-Powell, Sir G. Smyth Blundell, Colonel Henry Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.)
Bagot, Capt. J. FitzRoy Boseawen, Arthur Griffith- Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh.)
Bailey, James (Walworth) Boulnois, Edmund Cawley, Frederick
Baird, Jno. Geo. Alexander Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Lynn) Cayzer, Sir Chas. William
Balcarres, Lord Brassey, Albert Chaloner, Capt. R. G. W.
Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r.) Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.)
Balfour, Rt. Hn. G'ld. W. (Leeds) Bryce, Rt. Hon. James Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc.)
Banbury, Frederick George Buchanan, Thos. Ryburn Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry
Barnes, Frederic Gorell Burdett-Coutts, W. Coghill, Douglas Harry
Barry, Franc. Tress (Windsor) Burns, John
Cohen, Benjamin Louis Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry Price, Robert John
Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Howard, Joseph Priestley, Sir W. Over'nd (Edin.)
Cooke, C. W. Radcliffe (Heref'd.) Hubbard, Hon. Evelyn Purvis, Robert
Cotton-Jodrell, Col. Ed. T. D. Hughes, Colonel Edwin Rankin, James
Courtney, Rt. Hon. Leo. H. Hutchinson, Capt. G. W. Grice- Reid, Sir Robert T.
Cox, Robert Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley) Renshaw, Charles Bine
Cripps, Charles Alfred Jacoby, James Alfred Ridley, Rt. Hn. Sir Matthew W.
Crombie, John William Jebb, Richard Claverhouse Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson
Cross, Alexander (Glasgow) Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick Roberts, Jno. H. (Denbighs.)
Cruddas, William Donaldson Johnston, William (Belfast) Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye
Cubitt, Hon. Henry Joicey, Sir James Samuel, Harry S. (Limeh'se.)
Curzon, Rt. Hn. G. N. (Lanc. S. W.) Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire) Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Curzon, Viscount (Bucks) Kay-Shuttleworth, Rt. Hn. Sir U. Sandys, Lieut.-Col. Thos. Myles
Dalrymple, Sir Charles Kearley, Hudson E. Sharpe, William Edward T.
Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan) Kenyon, James Shaw, Chas. Edw. (Stafford)
Denny, Colonel Kimber, Henry Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew)
Dickson-Poynder, Sir Jno. P. Kinloch, Sir Jno. Geo. Smyth Sidebottom, T. Harrop (Stalyb)
Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Knowles, Lees Simeon, Sir Barrington
Doughty, George Lafone, Alfred Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Lawrence, Wm. F. (L'pool.) Smith, Jas. Parker (Lanarks.)
Doxford, William Theodore Lawson, Jno. Grant (Yorks.) Smith, Samuel (Flint)
Drage, Geoffrey Leese, Sir Josh. F. (Accrington) Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)
Duckworth, James Legh, Hon. Thos. W. (Lanc.) Spicer, Albert
Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V. Leigh-Bennett, Hy. Currie Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)
Dunn, Sir William Leighton, Stanley Stanley, Henry M. (Lambeth)
Ellis, Jno. Edw. (Notts.) Leng, Sir John Steadman, William Charles
Evans, Sir Franc. H. (South'tn.) Lloyd-George, David Stevenson, Francis S.
Farquharson, Dr. Robert Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R. Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart
Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw. Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine Stirling-Maxwell, Sir Jno. M.
Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Manc.) Lowe, Francis William Stone, Sir Benjamin
Finlay, Sir Robt. Bannatyne Lowther, Rt. Hn. Jas. (Kent) Sutherland, Sir Thomas
Fisher, William Hayes Loyd, Archie Kirkman Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Fison, Frederick William Lubbock, Rt. Hon. Sir John Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf'd Univ)
Flannery, Fortescue Lucas-Shadwell, William Thomas, Alf. (Glamorgan, E.)
Foster, Harry S. (Suffolk) Lyell, Sir Leonard Thomas, David Alf. (Merthyr)
Fry, Lewis Macartney, W. G. Ellison Thorburn, Walter
Galloway, William Johnson Macdona, John Cumming Thornton, Percy M.
Garfit, William Maclean, Jas. Mackenzie Tomlinson, Wm. Ed. Murray
Gibbons, J. Lloyd Maclure, Sir John William Tritton, Charles Ernest
Gibbs, Hn. A. G. H. (C. of Lond.) M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool) Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. Howard
Gibbs, Hon. Vicary (St. Albans) M'Arthur, Wm. (Cornwall) Wallace, Robert (Edinburgh)
Giles, Charles Tyrrell M'Ewan, William Wallace, Robert (Perth)
Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbt. J. M'Iver, Sir Lewis Warkworth, Lord
Goddard, Daniel Ford Maddison, Fred. Warr, Augustus Frederick
Godson, Augustus Frederick Malcolm, Ian Wayman, Thomas
Gold, Charles Maple, Sir John Blundell Webster, R. G. (St. Pancras)
Goldsworthy, Major-General Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand Webster, Sir R. E. (I. of W.)
Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon Milton, Viscount Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-
Goschen, George J. (Sussex) Milward, Colonel Victor Whiteley, H. (Ashley-under-L.)
Goulding, Edward Alfred Monk, Charles James Whitmore, Charles Algernon
Graham, Henry Robert Montagu, Sir S. (Whitechapel) Whittaker, Thomas Palmer
Gray, Ernest (West Ham) Moon, Edward Robert Pacy Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)
Gull, Sir Cameron More, Robert Jasper Williams, Jno. Carvell (Notts.)
Haldane, Richard Burdon Morley, Rt. Hn. John (Montrose) Williams, Jos. Powell- (Birm.)
Halsey, Thomas Frederick Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptford) Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Rbt. Wm. Morton, Ed. J. C. (Devnprt) Willox, Sir John Archibald
Hanson, Sir Reginald Mount, William George Wills, Sir William Henry
Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Sir Wm. Mowbray, Rt. Hon. Sir John Wilson, Hy. J. York, W. R.)
Hardy, Laurence Murray, Rt. Hn. A. Grhm. (Buse) Wilson, John (Falkirk
Hare, Thomas Leigh Murray, Chas. J. (Coventry) Wilson, John (Govan)
Harwood, George Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath) Wilson, J. W. (Worc. N.)
Hayne, Rt. Hon. Chas. Seale- Newdigate, Francis Alex. Wodehouse, Edm. R. (Bath)
Hazell, Walter Nicholson, William Graham Wolff, Gustay Wilhelm
Heath, James Nicol, Donald Ninian Woodhouse, Sir J. T. (Huddrsfld)
Hedderwick, Thos. Chas. H. Northcote, Hon. Sir H. Stafford Wylie, Alexander
Hill, Rt. Hn. Lord Arth. (Down) Nussey, Thomas Willans Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.
Hill, Rt. Hn. A. Staveley (Staffs.) Oldroyd, Mark Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong
Hill, Sir Ed. Stock (Bristol) Parkes, Ebenezer Younger, William
Hoare, Ed. Brodie (Hampst'd) Paulton, James Mellor Yoxall, James Henry
Hoare, Samuel (Norwich) Penn, John
Holden, Angus Pickersgill, Edward Hare TELLERS FOR THE AYES—
Holland, Hon. Lionel Raleigh Pirie, Captain Duncan Sir William Walrond and
Hornby, William Henry Platt-Higgins, Frederick Mr. Anstruther.
Abraham, Wm. (Cork, N. E.) Clark, Dr. G. B. (Caithness-sh.) O'Connor, Jas. (Wicklow, W.)
Abraham, William (Rhondda) Davitt, Michael Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)
Arch, Joseph Macaleese, Daniel Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.
Ashton, Thomas Gair M'Hugh, E. (Armagh, S.) TELLERS FOR THE NOES—
Bayley, Thos. (Derbyshire) McKenna, Reginald Mr. Dillon and Mr. T. P.
Carvill, Patrick Geo. Hamilton O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) O'Connor.