HC Deb 19 December 1927 vol 212 cc9-10

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, as representing the First Commissioner of Works, whether immediate steps can be taken to replace the top of the central tower of the Palace of Westminster, which in its present truncated condition is a serious disfigurement to the whole building as viewed from Whitehall and Trafalgar Square, without waiting for the carrying out of the complete scheme of necessary repairs?


(for the FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS): It is, of course, impossible to commence operations on the central tower until the stone to be used for the whole of the building has been selected, but my Noble Friend agrees that this portion of the building should be dealt with at an early stage.


How many years does the hon. and gallant Gentleman think it will take for the Committee to make up its mind as to what is a suitable stone? Have they not been thinking over it now for nearly two years?


Is it not possible to finish this tower, at the top of which there are no carvings, in Portland stone, which we know will stand the London weather? Is it not only where carvings are necessary that this inquiry is essential?


In regard to the last question, I would like to remind my hon. Friend that Portland stone is entirely in contrast with the present stone, as will be seen in the portico in Palace Yard, and I am by no means sure that the Fine Arts Commissioners would agree to Portland stone being used for that purpose. In regard to the question by the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris), it is true that this question has been under consideration for some time, but if he studies the history of it, the hon. Member will realise that it would be very much better to take a little longer and not to make any mistake.

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