HL Deb 12 March 1883 vol 277 cc140-3

My Lords, in moving the Resolution of which I have given Notice—and with which I think your Lordships will not be disposed to disagree—I may mention that, as long ago as 1868, a Committee was appointed which sat for two Sessions, to consider, the construction of the House with reference to its acoustic properties. That Committee made a Report, and offered some suggestions; but I do not think anything was done in consequence of their Report. More recently—I think two or three years ago—a Committee was appointed to consider the question of reporting; and that Committee made a Report, though not without some difference of opinion amongst its Members, and the suggestion they offered in reference to the accommodation of reporters in the side Galleries did not meet with your Lordships' approval. I ask your Lordships to appoint a Committee "to consider the construction and accommodation of the House and Galleries." The question of reporting is by no means the only one to consider; but the Reference has regard generally to the seating and accommodation of Members of the House as well as of the reporters. I do not think any opposition will be offered to the Motion; therefore, I will merely move in the terms I have given Notice of, and which are on the Paper.

Moved, "That a Select Committee be appointed to consider the construction and accommodation of the House, including the galleries, more especially in reference to seating, hearing, and reporting; and whether any and what improvement therein can be made."—(The Earl Cairns.)


said, he was opposed to the Motion; but as he was so accus- tomed to being treated as a mere cipher in the House, he was not surprised at the assertion of the noble and learned Earl (Earl Cairns), that no opposition would be offered to his proposal. As he (Lord Denman) had seen in the newspapers that the noble Earl the Leader of the House (Earl Granville) was in favour of the Motion, it was to be regretted that the noble and learned Earl had not said more in favour of it. He (Lord Denman), for his own part, believed their Lordships were extremely well reported, and no one more so than the noble and learned Earl: and he really thought that if they appointed this Committee, they would be doing that which would encourage some noble Lords to speak in a low tone, and others to shuffle about in the House and make a noise, so that no one would be able to hear. It would not, therefore, be of the slightest use to appoint the Select Committee. They knew that the noble and learned Earl who made this proposal had some notion of a new Gallery underneath the existing Gallery, which would act as a sounding board; but they had seen so much of demolition by way of improvement, and there had been so much doubt as to whether demolitions really led to improvements, that he did hope they would now let well alone. The noble and learned Earl had often said that he did not treat with asperity those who differed from him; and he (Lord Denman) hoped the truth of that statement would be exemplified in his (Lord Denman's) case, seeing that he now, and often before, had the misfortune to differ from the noble and learned Earl. He thought it was a pity there should be such continual complaints of the reporting amongst their Lordships, seeing what excellent reports were furnished of their speeches, particularly of the speeches of the noble and learned Earl.


The noble Lord who has just sat down (Lord Denman) has stated that I am in favour of this Motion, and I certainly am, though I am not aware that I confided the fact to anyone longer than half an hour ago, when I mentioned it to the noble and learned Earl (Earl Cairns) himself. I am glad that some little opposition has been offered to the present proposal, because, on several previous occasions, there has been perfect willingness to ap- point Committees; but there has not been the same willingness to adopt the Reports of those Committees. As there is now a little opposition to the appointment of the Committee, I hope there will be only a little opposition to the adoption of its Report.


said, he wished to point out that the words of the Motion were—"To consider the construction and accommodation of the House and galleries," and that the inquiry would not extend to the accommodation furnished in the rooms outside this Chamber belonging to the House of Lords. Having regard to the future, it was desirable that better accommodation should be furnished for the Lord Chancellor's Office in the House. His staff had not the accommodation which it was desirable it should have, and the interests of the public suffered in some respects in consequence. He would suggest that words should be inserted in the Motion to enable the Committee to consider the accommodation furnished in the rooms connected with their Lordships' House.


said, he would certainly amend the Motion, if the noble and learned Earl (the Lord Chancellor) believed that the word "House," as it stood on the Notice, would be taken in the technical sense as meaning the place in which they spoke. There were rooms, corridors, and offices provided for the accommodation of noble Lords, the condition of which might be a proper subject of inquiry; and it might be very desirable to consider especially the accommodation afforded to the noble and learned Lords who, from time to time, might have to preside over their debates. If the noble and learned Earl would suggest any words he would like inserted in the Motion to make these points quite clear, he (Earl Cairns) would be quite willing to adopt them.


said, there would be great difficulty experienced in giving better accommodation to noble Lords in the rooms connected with that Chamber. The House of Commons had already robbed them of a number of their rooms, and, instead of being satisfied, was seeking more. There was, undoubtedly, scant accommodation for Parliamentary purposes in the Palace of Westminster.


proposed that, after the word "galleries," they should insert the words "and rooms belonging to them."


said, he would amend the Motion by inserting, after the word "House," the words "including the galleries and rooms belonging thereto."

Motion, as amended, put, and agreed to.