§ LORD REDESDALE
wished to ask, Whether any Arrangements have been made for proceeding in the present Year with the Buildings for Public Offices on the vacant Ground adjoining Downing Street; and, whether Plans have been prepared for the Occupation of the Ground in Parliament and King Streets (for the Purchase of which Powers have been obtained from Parliament) by Buildings in connection with those already proposed or otherwise, or for the Completion of the 103 Downing Street Front of the Council Office? Their Lordships and the inhabitants of the metropolis must regret to see these buildings and the piece of ground adjoining Downing Street unoccupied for so long a period. The ground having been purchased between King Street and Parliament Street, so as to get a new frontage and widen that part of Parliament Street; he believed that no plans had yet been prepared for the occupation of that ground. With regard to the arrangement of public offices, very large sums were being paid as rent for highly inconvenient places, while these large vacant spaces remained unbuilt upon. He wished also to direct attention to the state of the buildings and arrangements between the offices facing Whitehall and those in connection with the buildings of the Foreign Office and India Office. He believed there would be extreme difficulty in making those buildings complete, unless Downing Street were stopped up, and unless a passage were carried through an archway. Under these circumstances, he wished to know whether any plans had been prepared for the erection of these buildings, and also how those offices were to be appropriated? He was told that it was intended to pull down the Colonial Office before any new offices were built for the transaction of the business. Now that the Foreign Office had got a new building the other office was to be transferred to the place which had been occupied by the Foreign Office. He thought this was very bad economy, and objectionable in many respects. According to the present arrangements, if they widened Parliament Street they would only widen the north end, leaving the other half nearest the bridge without any widening at all. This would not be creditable to the Government, and would be inconvenient in many ways to the public.
§ THE EARL OF MALMESBURY
said, that if we had the advantage of possessing in London a Prefect like Baron Haussmann he would no doubt beautify this town in the same way that he had done the city of Paris. Under the rules of our Constitution this, however, was quite impossible, and one of the first virtues we must exercise was that of patience. The only information he could give his noble Friend was that the vacant space between the new Foreign Office and Parliament Street was to be built upon for the Colonial Office, and that Mr. Scott was to be the architect. The frontage of the new buildings, 104 for the foundation of which £10,000 had been voted, and which was sufficient for the present financial year, would extend rather further than King Street, and not so far as Parliament Street, so that Parliament Street would be widened at that point. His noble Friend truly said they would then have a street much wider at the north end than at the south; but, of course, they looked forward to the country buying the rest of the ground between Charles Street and George Street, facing St. Margaret's Church and Westminster Abbey, and then the new street would be carried on with the public buildings in one uniform line. The House of Commons had, however, not yet granted the necessary funds for this expenditure. With respect to the frontage opposite the vacant ground of the Privy Council Office, that was no doubt completely obscured at present; but he had no doubt that plans would be prepared to alter that defective appearance. It was not for one Government to find fault with another on this matter. They all wished to see the public offices suitably completed for the sake of the appearance of the metropolis. But they could only work with the materials they possessed, and it rested with the House of Commons to say what expenditure it would devote to the purposes alluded to by his noble Friend.
§ VISCOUNT HALIFAX
wished to know, Whether the buildings on the other side of Charles Street were to be proceeded with?
§ THE EARL OF MALMESBURY
said, that the Home Office, as well as the Colonial Office, was to be built on the vacant ground to which the noble Lord (Lord Redesdale) had referred; but that no plan had been determined upon at present for building on the ground on the other side of Charles Street.
§ LORD REDESDALE
said, there would be nothing more miserable than a Vote of £10,000 for the foundation of the building. What was the use of laying out money in driblets in this way? The Government were paying a high rent for the house in which the business of the Foreign Office had lately been transacted, and it was now to be occupied by the Colonial Office. The whole arrangement seemed to him to be most unfortunate. They had gone to enormous expense in purchasing this ground for public offices, and now instead of building upon it they were paying very high rents for other buildings. The Government bought this land piecemeal, and the result 105 was that, as each purchase increased the value of the ground adjoining, they had to pay an improved value for every subsequent purchase. He hoped that some Member of the other House would take up that subject, and deal with it in a more efficient manner than it would be possible for their Lordships to do, so that credit still might at length be done in the matter.