§ THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS (Mr. PLUNKET)
Sir Arthur Otway, I think it will probably be for the convenience of the Committee, and I hope tend to shorten its labours, if I state, very briefly, the circumstances under which I am now about to ask for the sum of £10,000, which is named in this Estimate, for the restoration of Westminster Hall. This Vote has been purposely kept separate from the others, and put down as the first to be taken today, in order that, on a question of such importance as well as interest, there should be ample opportunity for free discussion, and that any hon. Member who may still object to the proposed restoration should have a full and fair opportunity, should he choose to avail himself of it, of developing his views in public debate, even though he may have already stated them before the Select Committee which has, within the last 12 months, sat and reported upon this subject. Hon. Members will recollect that, 800 on the 8th of last August, the House was asked for a Vote for the restoration of Westminster Hall. On that occasion exception was taken to the Vote on various grounds; but I think the principal ground was that sufficient time or opportunity had not been afforded for the proposals which were then made to be considered by the Members of this House or by the public outside. Probably hon. Members will agree with me in the opinion that the public ought to be satisfied before we proceed to take steps which must lead, to a great extent, to permanent results. In deference to the objection which was made in August last, a Vote for £3,000 only was taken at that time for the purpose of repairing the buttresses to the exterior of the Hall, and the payment of the main sum then asked for was allowed to stand over until this year. But, in the meantime, a Committee was appointed on November 7, and nominated on November 10 last, with directions "to examine and report on the plans for the restoration of the exterior of Westminster Hall;" and I will now, with the permission of the House, read the names of the 13 hon. Members who formed that Committee, because I believe their names will inspire confidence in the result of their labours. They were—Mr. W. H. Smith, Mr. Rylands, Mr. Beresford Hope, Sir John Lubbock, Sir Richard Wallace, Sir Edward Reed, Sir Henry Holland, Mr. Dick-Peddie, Lord Randolph Churchill, Mr. Walter, Mr. Cheetham, Mr. J. H. M'Carthy, and Mr. Shaw Lefevre. The Committee appointed as their Chairman the right hon. Gentleman, who then filled, with so much ability and zeal, the Office which I have now the honour to hold as First Commissioner of Works (Mr. Shaw Lefevre). I think it will be admitted on all hands that it would be very difficult to name any 13 Gentlemen in this House more entitled to represent, or who could represent more fully, not only every political Party in this House, but also the various Schools of Art criticism, learning, and research, which have lately devoted their attention to questions of architectural and antiquarian interest. That Committee began its labours on the 14th of November, and held its last sitting on the 27th of April in the present year. Any hon, Member who 801 glances over the proceedings must, I think, admit that everyone who chose had a fair opportunity of expressing his opinion, and that the Committee did not arrive at its Report until after such opinions had been fully considered and tested by debate and division. I have now given, I hope, enough of the history of this Committee to satisfy hon. Members and the public—and it is most important that public opinion should be fully satisfied—that no amount of further inquiry is likely to throw much fresh light upon the subject, and that the question is now ripe for settlement, and that this urgent business of the restoration of Westminster Hall should be undertaken, and undertaken without any further delay. No doubt, differences of opinion will remain, and even strong objections may linger in the minds of a few, no matter what may be done; but I am afraid that whatever is done those differences must remain, I believe, under all the circumstances, to the end of time. Meanwhile the matter is urgent, for since the old, ugly Law Courts were pulled down, we have all seen the hideous, unfinished, and precarious condition in which the West side of the splendid Hall is exposed to view; and at this moment some of the best specimens of old Norman masonry which lie at the base, and form the base, of the wall are only protected from the destructive effects of the weather by a wooden shelter. I shall now state, in a very few words, the general conclusion at which the Committee appointed last year arrived. When they commenced their labours the only plans before them were those of Mr. Pearson, and the evidence received by them was mainly in opposition to, or in support of, those plans, although alternative plans were suggested during the discussion. It is not necessary for me to dwell upon the great authority of Mr. Pearson's name. Even those who differ from him will admit that he has devoted himself to this subject with the enthusiasm of a lover, as well as with the knowledge of a master, of his Art. An alternative scheme was the completion of Sir Charles Barry's plans, and I need hardly say that the name of Sir Charles Barry also must command respect and admiration for the noble work he has left behind him; but it is sufficient for me now to say that 802 his ideas were fully gone into and canvassed before the Committee. His proposals were on a vast scale. The cost of executing them altogether was estimated at over £500,000, and they would have involved, besides, the removal of St. Margaret's Church from the position it now occupies on the West side of Parliament Square. Upon the whole, the Committee arrived at the following conclusion:—That neither architectural considerations for the group of buildings as they now stand, nor utilitarian reasons connected with the wants of Parliament, or of the Public Service, require that Sir Charles Barry's wings, or either of them, should he erected.I think I can best describe what this money is to be voted for by reading a few passages of the Report of the Select Committee. They say—Your Committee are, however, satisfied upon three points which are of importance in considering the question of the restoration of this side of the Hall. First, that the Hall was intended by the original builders to be seen, although buildings of different heights soon sprang up beside it; second, that at some time, probably, as your Committee think, in the Reign of Richard II., a two-storied building was erected underneath the flying buttresses, along the whole length of the Hall, with the exception of the two northernmost bays, the flying buttresses being built at the same time to support the splendid wooden roof then erected; third, that at the North-Western end of the Hall, facing New Palace Yard, a building stood at right angles to it, erected in the time of Henry III., and subsequently modified in the Tudor times, in the upper part of which was the room long occupied by the Exchequer Court. Your Committee are further agreed that it is most desirable to preserve the ancient Norman work, erected in the time of William Rufus, on the lower part of the Western Hall. The stones are in perfect condition, and are covered with marks and signs of the Norman masons of that date; and as this stonework is one of the few specimens of that kind now existing, it should not be left open and exposed to the action of the London atmosphere, by which it would be speedily destroyed…The total estimate of the works by Mr. Pearson is £35,300; of this£5,000 is the cost of completing the corner of St. Stephen's porch, in harmony with Sir Charles Barry's work—this is indispensably necessary if it be determined not to construct the wing of the Palace in front of the Hall, as proposed by Sir Charles Barry; £8,000 is the cost of rebuilding and repairing the flying buttresses, and of effecting necessary repairs to the Western wall of the Hall—this also is absolutely necessary, whatever plan be adopted; £8,000 is the estimate for raising the two towers on the North front, as proposed by Mr. Pearson; but this estimate may, for the present, be left out of consideration if the work on these towers is postponed, as above recom- 803 mended. There remains £13,500 as the cost of the two - storied gallery under the cloisters, and the building at right angles to the Hall, for which, looking at the question from a merely utilitarian point of view, there will be obtained a number of excellent rooms available for the purposes already referred to. Your Committee consider it desirable that the date or some other distinctive mark should be placed on certain of the stones, so as to prevent any misapprehension arising hereafter as to the date of the work. Your Committee, in conclusion, desire to express their sense of the great care and knowledge exhibited in his treatment of this most difficult subject by Mr. Pearson, who is admitted to be a most competent authority for such works, and whose plans are supported by some of the most eminent architects of the day; and while, on the one hand, your Committee do not contend that his design is an exact reproduction or restoration of the West side of the Hall, on the other hand they feel assured that it has been prepared with careful regard to all historical evidence, and that the general scope of his design is in harmony with the simple grandeur of this national building.I have thought that the best way in which I could introduce this Vote to the Committee, knowing the great interest which is felt on the subject, was by reading these extracts from the Report of the Select Committee. It is under these circumstances that I venture very confidently to commend the Vote to the Committee. I do not, in the least degree, desire to make any appeal with a view of checking debate, because, as I have already said, I am quite sure that the subject should be thoroughly discussed, and that an opportunity ought to be afforded to those who differ from the conclusion of the Select Committee for explaining their views. The design and the conception are those of Mr. Pearson, of whose qualifications for such difficult and important duties I have read the unanimous opinion of this strong Committee. The judgment is that of the Committee presided over by my right hon. Friend opposite, and arrived at after careful and well-informed consideration. As I have said, there have been rival plans and attractions which I do not wish to depreciate; and perhaps it would be worth while to try them all—that is, according to the old song—Could a man be secure that his life would endureFor a thousand long years;but for us—Who have a span-long life,we must really now make up our minds 804 which of these plans we are disposed to adopt. The Committee, on whose Report I rely, have recommended that of Mr. Pearson by majorities, on all the most important points, of 7 or 8 to 2 or 3; and I would venture now very respectfully to press its final adoption upon the Committee, instead of further postponing the consideration of the question. The work may then be commenced, and some steps taken not only to preserve this magnificent specimen of ancient art and to perpetuate the ancient and illustrious history of this building, but also to get rid of the hideous sight now presented to the public. I beg to move a Vote of £10,000 for the restoration of Westminster Hall.
(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £35,488, he granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1886, for the Buildings of the Houses of Parliament."—(Mr. Plunket.)
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
said, the right hon. and learned Gentleman had made a very in genious and graceful speech in introducing his first Estimate to the Committee. But last year a similar Estimate was introduced by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Reading(Mr. Shaw Lefevre) in an equally argumentative speech, and probably with more fulness of detail than had been employed by his right hon. and learned Friend. However, the good sense of the House of Commons rejected the proposal made on that occasion; and he was not without hope that the good sense of the House of Commons would reject the present proposal. There was nothing in which the right hon. and learned Gentleman showed more ability than in the light manner in which he had glided over the question of what the nation was to receive for this expenditure of £35,000—that being the original proposal. He was quite aware that it had been cut down since, and he also knew that it would be impossible to spend the whole of the money during the present Session. The Vote now proposed was only a Vote of £10,000 to carry out the proposal of Mr. Pearson which had been referred to by the right hon. and learned Gentleman, and which was originally to cost £35,000.
805 He wished to state, at the outset, that no one in this country could help entertaining the highest admiration for the eminent man who had made those plans. He was a Royal Academician and a most eminent architect; but he thought it would possibly be found that Mr. Pearson's antiquarian zeal had eaten up his discretion. He wished to recall to the recollection of the Committee how this matter originated. When the new Law Courts were opened the late First Commissioner of Works (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) was extremely anxious to pull down the old Courts which disfigured the West Front of Westminster Hall; and it was doing the right hon. Gentleman no injustice to-Bay that he probably feared that these ugly old Courts might be rendered available for the use of Grand Committees, and for other purposes. He very greatly sympathized with the right hon. Gentleman's desire to clear away the excrescences which at that time existed; but it was a remarkable fact that no official seemed to know what was to be found below the Law Courts. He was confident that the Board of Works had no notion whatever of the history of the flying buttresses and the Norman walls which were discovered when the excavations were begun. What took place was this. When the excavations at the Law Courts were going on, and those buttresses and walls were disclosed, the right hon. Gentleman consulted Mr. Pearson, the eminent architect of Westminster Abbey. Mr. Pearson thoroughly entered into the archaeological question put before him, and worked out plans in an ingenious way. He knew the proclivities of the right hon. Gentleman, his employer, and promptly whispered into his ear the word"restoration"—"let us restore." The simple intention, up to that time, was to pull down; but the right hon. Gentleman was fond of restoration. To some extent he had done a little in the work of restoration at the Tower of London, of which he (Mr. Mitchell Henry) did not complain; but of which eminent persons did complain. The word "restoration," therefore, had a charm for the right hon. Gentleman, and it induced him at once to give his sanction to the suggestions of Mr. Pearson.
The Committee would recollect that the right hon. Gentleman was some- 806 what pertinacious with his proposal. Last year a hoarding was put up outside the whole of the discoveries, and nobody was permitted to go inside to see what was being done. The public, to this day, had been rigidly excluded, and a set of plans were produced upon which the Committee of Supply last year were required to pronounce an immediate decision. They were asked to accept the plans at once, or they would do a serious injury not only to Westminster Hall, but to the House of Commons. There was a debate in the House upon the subject; and it was left to his hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Dick-Peddie)—who, eminent as he was as a Member of Parliament, was equally eminent as an architect—to take up the question. It was to that hon. Member that the House was indebted for the appointment of a Committee; and the right hon. Baronet the Member for Huntingdon (Sir Robert Peel) had stated in the House that the speech of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock was one of the few he had ever heard which succeeded in changing his opinion. After that speech the First Commissioner of Works said he would, if it was the desire of the House, appoint a Select Committee to inquire into the matter, but that, in the meantime, he would ask the House to vote the sum which he then asked for—namely, £10,000. The debate went on; the right hon. Gentleman was exceedingly pertinacious; and it was only at the last moment, when he saw that the sense of the Committee, in consequence of the speech of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock, was so much against him, that ho at last agreed to appoint a Committee.
The Committee met in November, and took, as the Chief Commissioner stated at the time, a sum of £3,000 for the repair of the flying buttresses and the protection of the Norman masonry, which had become uncovered. His right hon. and learned Friend the present First Commissioner (Mr. Plunket) had told the Committee the danger which existed to the structure if it remained in its present condition. But would the Committee believe that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Reading (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) never expended 1d. on the preservation of these buttresses and Norman 807 walls? Down to that very moment they had been exposed to the elements without protection of any kind, and they had had to endure the storms of the winter—the sleet, snow, and frost, and everything else; and they remained now just as they were before. What sincerity was there, then, in the threat held out to the House of Commons, that if they did not grant this money the structure would disappear, owing to the destroying hand of time? As the House were warned then, they were warned now; but he had no fear that those structures would disappear if they had to wait for a few months longer.
A Committee was appointed—perhaps a stronger Committee could not have been selected—and he was ready to bear his humble testimony to the great pains which the Select Committee took in investigating the matter. But, at the same time, he was not at all satisfied that the Committee did give to everybody that encouragement to come forward and give evidence which would have enabled the country to ascertain the views of those most competent to deal with questions of this kind. The Committee consisted of 13 Members, and it would be found that about eight attended the Sittings of the Committee pretty regularly. One hon. Gentleman—an Irish Member—did not appear at all, notwithstanding the fact that he was put upon the Committee to the exclusion of others who did take an interest in the question. Another Member—the noble Lord the present Secretary of State for India (Lord Randolph Churchill)—was appointed at a time when it was perfectly well known that he was about to proceed to India. The noble Lord attended twice, and then went away to India. If the right hon. Gentleman had wished to do what was right, he would have submitted other names as Members of the Committee; but he did not do so. He (Mr. Mitchell Henry) had attended the Sittings of the Committee regularly. He had, of course, to sit behind the Members; but he told the right hon. Gentleman that he was anxious personally to give evidence. The right hon. Gentleman, however, took very good care that all the days should be filled, up until the end of the Sitting of the Committee; and, not being a Member of the Committee, he (Mr. Mitchell Henry) had no 808 opportunity of calling any witnesses. He never saw a Committee which gave less encouragement to witnesses to come forward. A number of eminent men did give evidence before the Committee adverse to the plans of Mr. Pearson; but, really, the encouragement they met with was of such a nature that the whole Profession took fright, and refused to come forward. He was acquainted with a most eminent architect who was desirous of giving evidence, and who was so much alarmed at the tone of the Chairman of the Committee, who treated the scientific witnesses who came forward for the public good as if they were witnesses in the Old Bailey, and put the most disagreeable and impertinent questions to them, that this gentleman abandoned his intention of coming forward to give evidence. He, therefore, did not admit that the Committee could not have been improved, or that it was successful in obtaining all the evidence which they ought to have had before they endorsed the proposals of Mr. Pearson. He challenged the Members of the Committee to state in that House whether what he said was true or not, or whether they had ever seen a Committee conducted in the same manner, with professional men treated as the Chairman of the Committee deemed it right to treat the witnesses who were called to give evidence on that occasion? It was made a matter of complaint in the architectural journals and in the Profession generally; and he maintained that when witnesses came forward, under such circumstances, to give to a Committee the benefit of their knowledge and experience, they ought to be treated with common courtesy and respect. He was sure that if a similar mode of proceeding was to become common, the House of Commons would not succeed in getting evidence from persons outside.
He would now say a few words on the general question. He did not propose to enter into the general question or the archaeological question at any length; but he would venture to say something as to what they were to get for this large expenditure of public money. Westminster Hall was, as everybody admitted, a structure hardly less sacred in its associations than Westminster Abbey. The great events of English history clustered around its walls. He 809 had sometimes thought that all the Civil Service Commission had to do, if they desired to put historical questions on English history that would test the knowledge of the persons who went before them, was to ask for an account of Westminster Hall and the events which, from remote times, had taken place in connection with it. He thought it would be found that any candidate who could answer such a question would possess no mean knowledge of English history.
The Hall was built by William Rufus; 300 years afterwards Richard II. raised the walls and added the magnificent timber roof with which it was now adorned, and also made the windows with which it was imperfectly lighted. Anything that would destroy or injure the light of the windows in Westminster Hall would be a matter of very great regret, and the plans suggested by the Committee would have that effect, although not to so great an extent as the original plans. Fortunately, they were altered at the very last moment; and at the last Sitting of the Committee the architect consented to lower the huge battlements which he had proposed to erect in front of the windows. Then, when the excavations were made, this old wall was found; it was of Norman architecture of the time of William Rufus. He quite admitted that Norman architecture was not very frequent in London, and ho also admitted that there were on the masonry marks of the tools of the masons, and he entirely agreed that these should be carefully preserved. Let him, then, pass over this for a moment with the concession that the Norman architecture ought to be preserved. He came next to the flying buttresses. Those flying buttresses were erected by Richard II. to support the outer thrust of this huge timber roof. Now those buttresses were probably the most graceful buttresses which existed in this country. If they were exposed and repaired at full length they would form, and even now formed, a most captivating object for public inspection. If hon. Members wished to see what those flying buttresses were, which they were going to cover up with a miserable roof, let them go as far as Poet's Corner, and stand at the red pillar box. Looking at them from that point they would see what magnificent objects they were, and 810 how worthy of preservation. The architect proposed, however, with his double cloisters, actually to take in the greater part of those buttresses. That appeared to be most objectionable; and he should have much preferred if, as in the case of the Chapter House at Westminster, the flying buttresses were exposed in their whole course. They were now to be seen rising from the ground with a beautiful sweep, and doing the work for which they were originally constructed.
Having dealt with the flying buttresses and the Norman archways, he came, lastly, to the window of Richard II. A great deal had been said about the Norman wall. But if the Committee would understand what was the real importance of that wall in the mind of the architect and the late Chief Commissioner of Works, he must remember the uses to which it was proposed to put it. When it was determined to restore the building, and Mr. Pearson decided that a double cloister should be erected along the front of this wall, the question arose what were they to do with it? The ordinary mode of a sensible architect would be to determine what rooms it was intended to build. But here the first thing determined was what to do with the wall; and what was it decided to do with it? This Norman wail was to form part of the walls of a cab shelter, or horse shelter, proposed in the plan of last year. It was to be a semi-circular sweep running down a steep declivity, and the horses and carriages of Members were to be sheltered between the buttresses and the Norman wall. That was the value put upon this Norman wall. But it had grown in value since then, because it was a good subject to impress people with; and, therefore, an exaggerated value had been put upon it. They said that they had never for a moment contemplated the destruction of the wall; but. what did they propose to do with it? It was proposed to erect a double cloister below, in which provision was to be made for a number of rooms, and there would be a series of cellars to be entered from that magnificent Hall—Westminster Hall—by eight or nine steps down into the cellar. Those stone steps were to lead from Westminster Hall into the rooms below; and in order that any curious person wishing at any time to 811 have a look at those Norman walls, with the chisel marks of 700 or 800 years ago upon them, there was to be a sliding panel capable of being pulled aside, through which about three or four feet of the walls could be seen. There were plenty of Norman walls in England, and this Norman wall, if they would only let it alone, would stand the deteriorating atmosphere of London as it had stood it hitherto; and if they desired to preserve it they had only to apply to it some of the silicate and indurating solutions which had been used on the Obelisk erected on the Embankment. That would, he believed, accomplish every purpose provided the wall needed it; but he was satisfied that this Norman wall would have resisted the atmosphere of London, and would have remained in excellent condition, without having anything done to it at all.
So much for the Norman wall. Then there were to be ceilings to the rooms below; and here he would avail himself of the exhaustive and learned Report of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Dick-Peddie) on the question of reconstruction. The hon. Member dealt with it as a practical architect, who knew the whole theory and practice of his Profession, and who knew what rooms ought to be. The hon. Member told them about those rooms, that the floor was to be four feet six inches below Westminster Hall, one foot below the level of the ground adjoining the Hall, and 10 feet 6 inches or 11 feet below the adjoining street. They would be reached by a flight of nine or 10 steps from the Hall. Almost every witness, except Mr. Pearson himself, had spoken in terms more or less unfavourable of those rooms. They had been described by two witnesses as like going down into a cellar; and Mr. Christian, the President of the Architectural Society, who was a witness in favour of the Government plan, could only say that he did not think the lower tier of rooms could be made available. And what were they to get above? The rooms were to be raised 10 feet 6 inches above the floor of Westminster Hall, and they were to have 10 feet of steps projected into that magnificent Hall, a great portion of whose magnificence rested on its grand vista of unbroken surface. They were to have two flights of steps going into Westminster Hall, with two doors broken 812 open in the structure of the Hall itself. They would thus have to ascend nine or 10 feet, and then to break doors into the wall for the purpose of getting into the upper rooms; and when they got into the upper rooms what were the rooms themselves? They would be extremely ill-lighted—as would be seen from the plan—and gloomy, and disagreeable. He was sorry to trouble the Committee with all these details; but in a matter of this kind everything depended on matters of detail. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Dick-Peddie) told them what would be the amount of lighting in those rooms. Each room, as designed, would have two windows, which would give a lighting area of 44 square feet; therefore, as the room contained 1,600 cubic feet, they would leave 263 cubic feet to be lighted by one cubic foot of lighting space. In an ordinary London drawing room they expected to have one superficial foot of lighting in every seven feet, and yet these rooms were to have no more light than one foot in 263. None of the rooms were to have fires in them. It was impossible for them to have fires, although Mr. Pearson said he thought he would be able to supply fire-places. There were none, however, on the plan, and if Mr. Pearson did supply them he would have to carry the flues down below the level of the lower pillar to a shaft at the end of the building, the result being that they would be at a level of about six feet below the floor of Westminster Hall, and he believed considerably below the level of the Thames. What was it proposed that these series of rooms should be used for? As a matter of fact, the strongest objection to the scheme was this—that it had not been commenced with the idea of providing the accommodation which was required by the House of Commons. The prevailing idea seemed to have been to carry out an architectural or archaeological "fad" of restoring something which certain gentlemen thought might probably have existed there before, and to carry out the work of restoration at an enormous expense. In the present state of their finances, he maintained that the £27,000 which these rooms were to cost was a very large sum. What was the only purpose the late Chief Commissioner suggested for the use of these rooms last year? In the first place, there was to be a place for 813 the horses, where they would have an opportunity of looking at this Norman wall and the flying buttresses at a distance of 10 or 15 feet. Then, above that, there was to be a long room of considerable size, which was to accommodate the great bulk of the Reports of that House. The right hon. Gentleman said—"Let us fill these rooms with our Papers." [Mr. SHAW LEFEVRE dissented.) He had read the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, and he had certainly said that—The upper part of the building could be used for various purposes in connection with the requirements of the House. He (Mr. Shaw Lefovre) could find many uses for it. Ho bad received a demand from the Stationery Department for the erection of a new story for their building at a cost of £3,000, in order to stowaway Reports. Ho was glad to say that if they stowed their Reports in these long cellars the expenditure contemplated by the Stationery Office might be saved. There were, however, many other uses which could be found for it.Those were the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman on the occasion to which he referred. No doubt, if they were to build rooms in St. Peter's Square they would be able to find uses for them; but the great difficulty was not to find occupants, but to disestablish those who came into possession of rooms. A former Chief Commissioner of Works—Mr. Ayrton—said that there were plenty of rooms about the House, but that they had been seized by all kinds of persons employed about the building, and had been appropriated. Of course, if they built rooms as the right hon. Member for Reading (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) suggested, they would be able to find many uses for them; but let hon. Members think what might happen if this great mass of stationery there proposed to accumulate had taken fire. In that case, what would become of the magnificent timber roof of Westminster Hall? He regretted to say that successive Commissioners of Works had slumbered quietly in their beds, while the National Pictures and Portrait Gallery were almost wholly unprotected from fire. Commissioners of Works seemed to care very little about fire, and at that moment that horrible building used as a store house for the Admiralty behind the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square was a perfect disgrace to the nation, and if ever a fire took place in that building nothing 814 could save the National Gallery from the flames. He did not think the Board of Works would accept any blame for proposing to put this inflammable material close to Westminster Hall, because it was the habit of the Board of Works to run every kind of risk of fire in public buildings; and he, therefore, could not complain if one Board of Works followed the example set by their Predecessors. What was the third proposal? It was that a building should be erected at right angles to Westminster Hall, which building would take the place of the present horse shelter stand. It was to be a low building, projecting from a point near to the outer door of Westminster Hall, and it was then to be run back for about 10 feet. It was to be 55 feet in length, 30 feet 6 inches broad, and 9 feet high, and was to consist of two stories, the lower storey to be used as a receptacle for horses, while the upper storey was to be used for anything they liked. But the general idea was that it was to be a Grand Committee Room. The room they would thus get would be 55 feet long, 30 feet 6 incites broad, and 9 feet high; and would the Committee believe that that room, which was to be adopted, perhaps, as a Grand Committee Room, was only to have one door in it? By that door Members of the House, witnesses, the public, and everybody were to enter from a flight of stone steps out of Westminster Hall.
Every Member who had sat upon a Committee in that House knew what would happen when it became necessary to sit upon a question in which the public took great interest if all the Members, witnesses, and the public, were to enter at one door at the further end of the room. Anything more inconvenient than such an arrangement could not possibly be conceived. The inconvenience was pointed out by the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Dick-Peddie), whose Report was worthy of the close attention of every Member of the House. It was admirably written, was most intelligent and intelligible, and he hoped that it would be read and studied by the new First Commissioner of Works (Mr. Plunket). The hon. Baronet the Secretary to the Treasury (Sir Henry Holland) was a Member of the Committee, and he admitted that the presence of the hon. Baronet upon the Committee rendered his task somewhat 815 difficult, because the judicial habit of mind and the sound good sense of the hon. Baronet were almost a guarantee that what he put his name to would be really effective. He would only say that if the hon. Baronet supported the conclusions of the Committee, and made himself responsible for their recommendations to the House, he hoped he would be able to say, when he rose to reply, that there was no intention of breaking the walls of Westminster Hall in order to make a flight of five or six steps leading down into a cellar, and another flight of five or six steps leading up into a gallery, and that he was not going to erect this miserable building, with one door to it, and 55 feet long, for a Grand Committee Room. Nor must they forget the horses. The horses were to be sheltered beneath this Grand Committee Room. Would it be believed that, this pit—for it was nothing else—into which the horses were to be placed—this pit below the Grand Committee Room would have a fall of 1 foot in 12? Why, it would almost be a dangerous declivity. To quote from the Report of his hon. Friend, this horse stand was to be placed on a level about four feet below that of the present horse stand, and three feet below the floor of Westminster Hall. From the door of the Hall the distance to the side of the West Tower was 41 feet, and descending from the Hall to the horse stand there would be a gradient of I foot in 13—a gradient which must prove not only inconvenient, but dangerous. From the nearest carriage way from St. Margaret's to the stand was a distance of 130 feet, and the gradient would be I foot in 11. Hon. Members' horses were to go down that gradient into a pit in which the gradient on one side was 1 foot in 12, and I foot in 13 on the other. Then, what was to become of the Grand Committee assembled upstairs when the horses were there? The effluvia from the horses could not be kept out of the rooms for the Grand Committees if the windows were ever to be opened for ventilation at all; and no doubt, if the Grand Committee had been sitting during the hot summer they had been having, they would have had the windows open, and if so the smell would have been as disagreeable as anything that could be conceived. When his hon. Friend asked how this question of 816 ventilation was to be managed, what would the Committee suppose was the solution of the ventilation question? It was proposed to close the window of the Grand Committee Room in order that the smell from the horses below might not prove too strong; but there was to be a movable window on the other side. But how was it supposed they were going to ventilate the underground cellar full of horses below? It was proposed to have a shaft and fan driven by gas, steam, or water. This fan was to be employed to exhaust the air in this cellar into which hon. Members were to put their horses.
He thought he had said enough to show that the Committee ought to pause before it accepted this scheme. Let them recollect that next year there would be a new House of Commons; the number of Members of the House would be considerably increased; and he had no doubt that very anxious and active service would be required from each Member by his constituents. Everybody would agree that every constituency would be interested in the attendance of their Representative. They would have to arrange the House so as to give to Members facilities for conferences, and other conveniences which had been for a long time wanting, but which must be supplied before long. If they were to enter upon an expenditure of £25,000, and were to expend £10,000 at that moment, they would virtually conclude the question. He thought that would be a fatal mistake. There was one misapprehension, not on the part of the right hon. Gentleman, but on the part of those who were opposed to Sir Charles Barry, which he wished to correct. It was suggested that the late Sir Charles Barry wanted to remove St. Margaret's Church. Now, according to the original design of Sir Charles Barry, who built the present Houses of Parliament, the building was to have extended along Bridge Street and along Parliament Street; and in connection with extensive improvements in that part of London the removal of St. Margaret's Church was proposed. There were some gentlemen who stated that St. Margaret's was an excellent object, and that it ought to be maintained because it enabled a visitor to measure the size of Westminster Abbey. He thought that nothing could be more 817 absurd. The looker-on would see the magnificent extent of Westminster Abbey, and then, as his eye wandered around, he would only say—"What a mean little object that church of St. Margaret's is!" In like manner it was said that it was desirable to erect this little building, because it would look very well in front of Westminster Hall, and enable the eye to measure the size of the Houses of Parliament; but anyone would be much more likely to say—"Why in the world should you spoil that magnificent block of buildings by building that insignificant structure in front of it?"
He came now to the question of what really ought to be done, and what was wanted. What was really wanted, more than anything else, was better accommodation for the Members of that House. The most ill-treated body of persons in London were the coachmen and cab drivers of the House of Commons. Their carriages had to stand in an open space at all hours of the night in about the coldest corner of all London, unable to find shelter for themselves or their horses, with the wind sweeping across the bridge from the north-east. Ho thought it was absolutely essential that both coachmen and horses should be provided with some protection; but let it be a structure which should show what it was for. What was really wanted was a modest structure of glass and iron as a shelter for Members' horses and for cabs. But they ought not to put up this wretched proposed building opposite Westminster Hall. Then, what ought they to do in regard to the extension of Westminster Hall? What had they done already? They had cleared away the Law Courts, exposed those magnificent flying buttresses, and obtained a great open space from which such a view could be had of Westminster Abbey as had never been seen before. At any rate, let them keep that view until they were obliged to block it up. Let them lay down the open space with turf; let them repair these flying buttresses, and let them stand out in all their magnificence, just as the flying buttresses now presented themselves at the Chapter House at Westminster Abbey; let them hide the top of Westminster Hall by a modest embattlement, and by so doing take off some of its present unsightly appearance; but do not let them go and put up this building 818 with a double cloister, under the pretence that they were going to give increased accommodation to the House of Commons. The expense of erecting it would be very great indeed. He had almost forgotten to mention one circumstance which was extremely condemnatory of the present proposal. If hon. Members would look at the windows of Westminster Hall, which were built by Richard II., they would see that, elegant as they were, they might be greatly improved by lengthening them. But what did the architect do? If hon. Members would refer to the plan, they would find that the architect had copied these very windows in the next storey; and that in the third storey he proposed to put in a sort of grille which was to be converted into a window of another kind. In order to get this modern tier of copied windows it would be seen that he had obstructed one-third of the really ancient and historical windows of Richard II. These windows would be blocked up to a considerable extent, in order to show the leading features of the new scheme in all its ugliness. If hon. Members would refer to the last plan they would see what he meant. When he asked them to refer to the last plan, it must not be forgotten that that plan was put in at the very last moment, when these objections to the building had been pointed out by his hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Dick-Peddie), and when many letters had appeared in the public papers from eminent architects. There had been a great deal of correspondence on the matter. Architects whose names would carry conviction with them were opposed to the proposals which had been made; but they would not attend before the Committee and give evidence when they found that they were liable to be treated as if the}' were criminals—endeavouring to carry-out plots against Parliament and the Board of Works. In order to have secured that evidence it would only have been necessary for the Chairman of the Committee to have treated the witnesses examined before him with greater courtesy and consideration. The embattlement which was intended to be put up had been removed. The Committee said, to Mr. Pearson—"Cannot you do away with a battlement which obscures these ancient windows?" and it was not until the last moment that the plan the House 819 now had before them showing the present elevation was made. It was not submitted, as a matter of fact, until the very last meeting of the Committee. Whatever the elevation might be, he felt bound to protest against the erection of a series of rooms going up to a loft in Westminster Hall, with a miserable building at the end of the Hall; with horses below, and one door above leading into a room 55 feet long. He asked whether, in the name of common sense, the House of Commons was prepared to sanction a proposal of that kind; and in order to bring the whole matter legitimately before the Committee ho would move that the Vote be reduced by the sum of £10,000.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £27,488, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1886, for the Buildings of the Houses of Parliament."—(Mr. Mitchell Henry.)
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
I should have been better content to defer my remarks till a somewhat later period of the debate; but after the severe comments which the hon. Member for Gal-way (Mr. Mitchell Henry) has made on my conduct as Chairman of the Committee to which that subject was referred, and which sat during the present Session, I feel bound to offer a reply at once. And, first, I would say a few words on the composition of the Committee and on the attendance of the Members. The hon. Gentleman has stated that out of the 13 Members of the Committee only eight were constant in their attendance. That, however, is not the case. Of the 13 Members, certainly two seldom attended—namely, the hon. Member for Athlone (Mr. J. H. M'Carthy), and the noble Lord the Secretary of State for India (Lord Ran-dolph Churchill); but when the noble Lord was placed on the Committee it was not known that he was going, as he subsequently did, to visit India, and after the Committee had been nominated I did not think it desirable to appoint anyone in his place. With the exception of those two Members the attendance was remarkably good. I do not recollect a Committee so well attended by the majority of the Members composing it.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
Does the right hon. Gentleman say that I made an inaccurate statement about the attendance?
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
I dare say that if the hon. Gentleman has counted up the attendance on every occasion he may find that the average was eight. But I will undertake to say that the attendance was extremely good, and that there was scarcely one of the Members of the Committee who was not constantly and actively engaged. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the present First Commissioner (Mr. Plunket) has read out the names of the Committee; and I venture to think that it would have been impossible for the House to have selected a Committee of better materials, or to have found Members to serve on the Committee who were more competent to perform the work they undertook. I think that they paid every attention to the subject, and there is every reason to be satisfied with the results of the Committee. The hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry) has commented on my conduct as Chairman of that Committee; but it must be borne in mind that at that time I was not only Chairman of the Committee, but First Commissioner of Works, that I had instructed Mr. Pearson to prepare a Report, and that after careful consideration I had adopted that Report on the part of the Government. His plans were submitted to the Government, who gave their consent to their being carried out. It appeared to me, therefore, that I was bound to stand by Mr. Pearson, and give him the best support I could. It was not always easy to fill the two positions of Chairman of the Committee and supporter of Mr. Pearson's plans; but I did so to the best of my ability. Mr. Pearson's plan was bitterly opposed by a small school of archaeologists, who were determined to destroy it by any means in their power, and possibly some of these gentlemen were not altogether pleased at being cross-examined as to their own professional attainments, and as to the work they had performed themselves, which warranted their criticism of Mr. Pearson's plans. I also thought it my duty to cross-examine these gentlemen, and also to ask them to state their alternative plans. Every possible objection to Mr. Pearson's 821 plans was accorded a full opportunity of being heard, and every one of the points mentioned by the hon. Member to-day were brought before the Committee. The Members of the Committee came to the conclusion that the alternative plans suggested by these witnesses were ridiculous, foolish, and absolutely impracticable. I felt it my duty to bring out clearly the alternative proposed by these gentlemen, and their pretensions to criticize Mr. Pearson's plans in the manner they had. I gave to the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Dick-Peddie) every opportunity for laying before the Committee any evidence he desired, and to bring out every objection he had to the scheme. I think the hon. Member fully availed himself of those opportunities, for I do not recollect any case in which the evidence was brought out more fully, and in which every possible objection that could be raised was afforded an opportunity of being heard by the Committee in opposition to Mr. Pearson's plans. Everything was brought out before the Committee in full detail; and I really believe that it was impossible for any Committee to go more minutely into every matter of detail which has been alluded to by the hon. Member than the Committee to whom this subject was referred. It would be extremely difficult for me to attempt now to go through minutely all the points which have been referred to and answer every one of them. I will, therefore, ask the Committee to look at the scheme as a whole, without too minutely criticizing the smaller points. At the same time, as I go along, I will deal with some of the objections which have been raised by the hon. Member, and I think I shall be able to show that they are without foundation. The hon. Member for Gralway seemed to be under the impression that I had been instrumental in inducing Mr. Pearson to undertake this restoration, and that I suggested it to him in the first instance. [Mr. MITCHELL HENRY: Quite the reverse.] I rather failed to understand what part he thought I had taken in the conception of these plans. Therefore, I will tell the Committee exactly what occurred. When the Law Courts were removed, and when, for the first time, the Western Front of Westminster Hall was disclosed, it at once became apparent that some work of restora- 822 tion would become necessary. I took the best advice I could obtain as to who was the most competent architect in the country for such work, and almost the unanimous opinion of everybody I consulted was that there was no architect in this country so well qualified in the matter for work of this importance as Mr. Pearson. I consulted everybody I could on the matter, and the only suggestion I received was that Mr. Pearson was the ablest and most careful architect to advise me on such important work. I accordingly called in Mr. Pearson, and asked him to advise the Government as to what should be done in the matter. I gave him no instructions of any kind. I gave him no hints as to what should be done; but I simply asked him to advise the Government. Mr. Pearson, on being called in, at once conducted an investigation; and his investigation of the foundations immediately adjoining the Hall at once led him to the conclusion that there had existed underneath the flying buttresses a long two-storied building, probably erected by Richard II. at the same time that the flying buttresses were erected for the support of the Hall. Every detail of that building is now known, with the single exception of the nature of the windows. The traces which exist of the building show the exact height of it, the thickness of the walls and everything connected with it, except the number and nature of the windows. It was clear that it was a two-story building, containing rooms closely attached to the Hall itself. Mr. Pearson recommended that an attempt should be made to reconstruct, under the flying buttresses, a similar building to that which existed in the time of Richard II, and he hoped in this way to recover the aspect of Westminster Hall as it existed in olden times. He defended this proposal on grounds architectural, archaeological, and utilitarian. With regard to the architectural reasons, it was Mr. Pearson's opinion, and the opinion of the most eminent architects who had considered the question, that to leave the flying buttresses as they now are, without any addition whatever, would not be sightly, and would be an anomaly from an architectural point of view. I think I am right in saying that, almost without exception in old buildings, where there are flying buttresses there is an intervening building or cloisters be- 823 tween them and the main building. In fact, that is the meaning of flying buttresses. They rise across or over an intervening building, and the cases in which flying buttresses stand alone without such intervening building are very rare indeed. No doubt, there are flying buttresses standing alone at the Westminster Chapter House. That is one of the few cases in which there are flying buttresses without an intervening building; but Henry III. erected this after he had returned from France, where he had seen some such flying buttresses, and he imitated what he had seen by adding buttresses to the Chapter House without an intervening building. But it is one of rare exception, and, as a general rule, almost without exception, where flying buttresses exist there is an intervening range of buildings—cloisters or chapels—between them and the main building. There fore, in the opinion of competent authorities, it would not have been sightly to repair the buttresses and leave them in the condition proposed. Then, in the second place, the erection of a building such as is now proposed under the flying buttresses, and connecting the buttresses together, was originally necessary as a support to the main wall itself. Without that junction of the buttresses they would not be strong enough to support the main wall, which is not a strong one, and upon which a very heavy roof is resting. Undoubtedly, in olden times, when these flying buttresses were erected, it was necessary to connect them together by a strong wall, which formed the outer wall of the main building. That necessity still exists; and, in the opinion of Mr. Pearson and other eminent architects, it would not be safe to leave the flying buttresses as they are without any other support from a main wall. This addition, in point of fact, is absolutely necessary in order to give support to the outer wall and the roof of Westminster Hall. Thirdly, there is the question of the old Norman wall of the Hall itself; and, in the opinion of Mr. Pearson and other eminent architects, it is absolutely necessary, if this wall is to be preserved in the state in which it has existed from the time of William Rufus down to the present, with the interesting works of Norman masonry almost on every stone, that a building should again be erected in front of it. The hon. Mem- 824 ber for Kilmarnock (Mr. Dick-Peddie) called a number of witnesses before the Committee; but there was not one of them who did not admit that it was necessary, for the purpose of preserving this old wall, that a structure of some kind should be erected in front of it. The hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry) has expressed a contrary opinion. He says that if the wall were left in its present state, and if it were covered with some indurating substance, it would be preserved; but that is not the opinion of those who are most competent to form one. The wall is built of soft stone, which the action of the London atmosphere would undoubtedly destroy; and if nothing is done to protect it, it will inevitably perish away. It might be possible, in the opinion of the competent surveyor of the Office of Works, by covering the wall with oil every two or three years, to preserve it for a time; but he does not recommend this course, because a coating of oil would destroy the appearance of it and its colour. Therefore, the conclusion come to was that it was most desirable, if we wished to preserve this old wall, that we should reconstruct the building in front of it which existed in the time of Richard II. We now propose, as far we can, to restore the main architectural and archaeological features of the building in the manner proposed by Mr. Pearson, and by erecting this range of buildings to recover the general aspect of the Hall as it was in early times. We do not pretend to say that the galleries will be an exact fao simile of what formerly existed, for this reason—because we do not know what the windows were; but Mr. Pearson proposes to insert windows conformable to the style of the period in which the building was originally erected; and, as far as we can make out, the restoration proposed by Mr. Pearson will, in the main, recover the general aspect of Westminster Hall as it was in early times. There is a further proposal of Mr. Pearson which has been alluded to by the hon. Member for Galway—namely, that at the Northern end of the Hall, and at the end of the cloister under the flying buttresses, there shall be erected a building at right angles with the Hall—a building on the site of the old Exchequer Chamber which once existed here. The reasons for that are these. Mr. Pearson says it is almost 825 impossible to carry on the cloister in the Northern end of the Hall in a satisfactory manner without some such building. A building at right angles with the Hall undoubtedly existed in olden times, although its exact nature is not known. Mr. Pearson proposes to erect a building in the same style as the building under the cloisters, and in harmony with it. This building is to contain a standing for horses instead of the shed now erected in New Palace Yard. A standing is almost indispensable for the use of the House, and it is probable that the large room which will be erected over it may be used for the purposes of the House. The hon. Member for Gal-way has endeavoured to throw some discredit upon this upper room by saying that the only access to it will be by a single staircase. That is not so. There will be two. By Mr. Pearson's plan it will be approached partly by a staircase in the corner of Westminster Hall, and partly by a staircase in a small tower in a corner of the building. The hon. Member seems to assume, as a matter of certainty, that this large room will be used as a Grand Committee Room. There has been no definite proposition to that effect; and if it turns out that it would not be convenient for that purpose, there are many other purposes connected with the House for which it might be useful. The hon. Member has also objected to the rooms it is proposed to erect in the galleries under the cloisters. The matter was carefully considered by the Committee, and the Members of the Committee came to an opposite conclusion to that of the hon. Member. They formed a very strong opinion that these rooms would be useful for many purposes connected with the House. The range of buildings would give a number of very excellent rooms, which would be available for the use of the House. In the upper floor there will be three rooms, 40 feet by 20 feet, and with a height of from 14½ feet to 17 feet, while on the lower floor the rooms would be 38 feet by 20 feet and 13½ feet in height. They would be lighted by two windows. If it should turn out—which is very doubtful—that these windows would not give adequate light, it would be easy to supplement the lighting from above. The rooms themselves would be useful as rooms in which Members could receive deputations. There is also 826 another use connected with the service of Parliament for which they would be adapted—namely, as rooms for Royal Commissions, for which I think they would be extremely well adapted. It has been objected by the hon. Member that the access to these rooms would partly be by stone staircases in the corners of Westminster Hall, 10 feet in height. That is undoubtedly how access was given to them in former times. It was my intention, if I had remained in charge of the Office of Works, to try by a model how these would look, and whether they would interfere with the appearance of Westminster Hall. In the opinion of Mr. Pearson, they would not detract from the appearance of the Hall. If, however, it should turn out that that was not so, and that the effect was bad, it would be quite possible to place the steps in the lower part of the gallery by sacrificing a part of the space there, and in this way, I think, the objections of the hon. Gentleman would be completely met The rooms in the lower gallery would not be so good as those in the upper floor, as they would only be 13 feet 8 inches in height instead of 14 feet. It is scarcely fair to call them galleries. They will be very fair rooms, available for the purposes of the House, and will be approached by stone steps leading downwards from Westminster Hall, the fact being that Westminster Hall itself stands on a different level from the land immediately on its West side. On that account, the rooms would open at once into the space on the West side of the Hall; and they cannot, in any true or proper sense of the term, be called cellars. I have now described what are the proposals of Mr. Pearson, which, after careful inquiry, received the approval of the Committee to which I have referred. I have now to point out to the Committee what are the main grounds of opposition to the scheme, and the alternative proposed by those who object. Objection has been raised to these plans from very different points of view, and it comes from two quarters principally. In the first place, it comes from those who think that Sir Charles Barry's original plan for the completion of this great Palace should be carried out; and, secondly, it comes from a group of archaeologists, to whom I have already referred, and of whom I 827 shall speak again shortly. No doubt Sir Charles Barry made proposals to extend the Houses of Parliament by adding two other wings to it, one of which was to proceed from St. Stephen's Porch, in front of Westminster Hall, and another wing extending from the Clock Tower in the corner of New Palace Yard. These new buildings would have cost £500,000. The House considered that scheme many years ago, and I need hardly remind the Committee that, after the most careful consideration, all idea of completing this wing was definitely abandoned in 1865. Money was then voted by the House for covering with stone the side of the Clock Tower, which had been previously left in brick, and for surrounding New Palace Yard by an elaborate and costly grille in the form of railings. These works were wholly inconsistent with the carrying out of Sir Charles Barry's plans. The immense extension contemplated by Sir Charles Barry was not required for the purposes of this House; and as it would be very unsuitable and very inconvenient for other Public Offices the scheme was completely abandoned. Now that the West Front of Westminster Hall has been exposed to view it would be a very mistaken policy to cover it up again, and public opinion would not justify concealing it by this proposed extension. In the opinion of the ablest architects, Westminster Hall, with its severer aspect and great size, combines well with the elaborate and delicate work of Barry's building. Under no possible circumstances can it be anticipated that the House will be induced to sanction Sir Charles Barry's extension at the cost proposed. As far as I understand there is no great necessity in this House for accommodation such as would have been provided by a building of that magnitude; and, therefore, whether we look at it from an utilitarian or any other point of view, I do not think it will be deemed advisable to complete Sir Charles Barry's scheme. Looking at it from the opposite side of Parliament Square, I cannot but think that Westminster Hall in the centre of the Houses of Parliament, together with Westminster Abbey and St. Margaret's Church, form one of the most picturesque and interesting group of buildings to be found in Europe. I think, therefore, the House would be most un- 828 willing to conceal Westminster Hall by proceeding with the scheme of Sir Charles Barry; and if the House does not proceed with Mr. Pearson's scheme, I believe it will be absolutely impossible to obtain its assent to the completion of that of Sir Charles Barry. The other opposition to Mr. Pearson's plans came from a certain small school of archaeologists, who carry their views against restorations of all kinds to a fanatical and absurd point. They are of opinion that if anything is to be done to an old building in the way of addition it should be done in a completely-modern style, and that no attempt should be made to restore what existed previously. These gentlemen are not distinguished as architects; they have not erected any buildings of importance. They are archaeologists rather than architects. They object, on principle, to any restoration or reconstruction of an old building on the ground that it is the mere imitation of old work and a falsification of history. These are the views of a distinct school of archaeologists, who consider that if any addition to or restoration is to be made of an old building it would be better that it should be as incongruous as possible to the building, so as to mark distinctly that it is modern work. For this reason they object strongly to Mr. Pearson's plans. They regard those plans as the very embodiment of what they most object to; and they are determined, as they avow, to storm and take the citadel and destroy it. Fortunately, they did not content themselves with objections, but propounded an alternative plan, and the Committee will scarcely credit what their proposal was. It is difficult to conceive anything more absurd or more hideous. They all of them admit the necessity of erecting, against the West Front of Westminster Hall, some structure to preserve the old Norman wall. The structure they recommend, in lieu of that proposed by Mr. Pearson, is to be of wood and plaster, after the fashion of the old buildings to be found in Cheshire—the wood painted black, and the plaster white, with two rows of small windows in it, by means of which the old wall can be examined. No utilitarian use is to be made of the building, and the sole object of it is to preserve the walls behind it. They admitted that such a building would not be sightly. They contem- 829 plated that Sir Charles Barry's wing would hide it from view; and when I asked what they would do if Parliament should decide not to erect that wing, they suggested that the structure might be planted out. It is scarcely necessary further to criticize that foolish and impossible plan, yet it is the only alternative suggested by any of the witnesses called by the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Dick-Peddie). On the other hand, five of the leading architects of the day were called by him, who joined in emphatic condemnation of this alternative proposal. They were Mr. Christian, the President of the Institution of Architects, Mr. Blomfield, Mr. Waterhouse, Mr. Oldrid Scott, and Mr. Brooks, and they gave a general approval of Mr. Pearson's plans. I believe it would be impossible to find five greater architects, or men of a more representative character. [Mr. CAVENDISH BENTINCK: But they are all of one school.] That is true; but it is a very important school, and the school best acquainted with the style of the adjacent buildings. As I have said, they all united in condemning the plans of the archaeologists I have referred to, and they all united in approving in the main Mr. Pearson's proposals. There was, indeed, a difference of opinion between them as to whether the proposed building under the buttresses should have two stories or one storey. Two of them were of opinion that a building of one storey under the buttresses would be preferable to two stories, and in deference to the views of the Committee Mr. Pearson proposed plans for a one-storied building; models were erected on the side of the Hall of both his plans. When these were completed the two architects who had originally favoured the one-storied building came before the Committee and stated that they wished to be re-examined on that question. They said that, having seen the models of the two-storied building, they had completely changed their mind; and they desired to state to the Committee that, in their opinion, Mr. Pearson had been perfectly right in proposing a two-storied building, and that they withdrew their objection to it. At the same time, the Members of the Committee who had also been in favour of a one-storied building changed their opinion in consequence of having seen the erec- 830 tion I have referred to; and the result was that the Committee wore almost unanimously in favour of a two-storied building, and Mr. Pearson himself said that the models had convinced him more than ever that the higher or two-storied building was the best. In deference, however, to the opinions of some Members of the Committee, who thought that the building proposed by Mr. Pearson did not show enough of the windows of the Hall, and suggested that it concealed too much of the flying buttress, Mr. Pearson made a further alteration in his plan, which hon. Members will find in the last Re-port laid before the House. He consented to lower somewhat the height of the wall in the two-storied building, and he has substituted for the battlemented parapet a plain coping, the result of which will be that the upper windows of the Hall will be almost completely open—that is to say, the building will leave exposed a great deal more of the flying buttresses and upper tier of windows to be seen from a distance. The plan thus adopted will be found at the end of the Appendix; it met with the unanimous approval of the Committee, with the exception of the two Members already alluded to. I have now to submit that after this discussion has taken place, and after the long inquiry before the Select Committee, the Committee should come to a conclusion on this subject. I have not personally approached the matter in any dogmatic spirit, nor have I intruded my own views upon the subject; on the contrary, I have been most anxious to assist in arriving, if possible, at a unanimous opinion on the part of the Committee. In matters of this kind I think that we should be guided by the highest architectural authority of the day. I believe that the plan of Mr. Pearson has received the support and approval of the highest professional men in the country, and it is in that sense that I put it before the Committee. I will only express my belief that the treatment of Westminster Hall proposed by Mr. Pearson can be justified on archaeological, historical, and architectural grounds, and that when his plan is completed the Hall will combine with the other buildings around it in a manner that will be worthy of its ancient associations and fame, and worthy of the most splendid 831 and interesting architectural group in Europe.
said that when the Vote for Westminster Hall was before the Committee last year he opposed it on three grounds—first, because the proposed buildings were not a restoration of the West side of the Hall; secondly, because, on artistic grounds, they were objectionable; and, thirdly, because the accommodation to be provided by them was not needed, and was of a very unsatisfactory kind. After serving on the special Committee which had considered the plans—and he might say that ho was not one of those Members of the Committee to whom his hon. Friend the Member for Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry) had referred as having been seldom present at the meetings of the Committee, for he had been constantly present from the beginning to the end of its Sittings—he had been forced to the conclusion that the objections he had ventured to submit to the Committee last year were only too well founded. The right hon. Gentleman who was Chairman of the Committee (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) had said that day that the opposition to the plans for carrying out which a Vote was now asked proceeded from two classes of persons—first, those who desired to see Sir Charles Barry's designs carried out; and, secondly, those who belonged to a peculiar archaeological school, of whom he spoke in a contemptuous way, and whom he described as persons who were opposed to all restoration. He (Mr. Dick-Peddie) did not belong to either of those classes. As his proposed Report showed, he did not advocate the carrying out of Sir Charles Barry's designs, no present need of the accommodation it proposed to provide having been shown; neither was he in sympathy with the school of arcaeologists referred to, as he had no objection to architectural restoration where there were data on which a true restoration might be based. His first objection to the plans was still, as it was last year, that they had no claim to be regarded as a restoration. Now, he wished to remind the Committee that it was chiefly on the ground that it was a restoration that the plans were originally put before the House of Commons and the country as worthy of acceptance. They were described as "Plans 832 for the Restoration of Westminster Hall." The Committee was appointed to inquire into and report on the "Plans for the Restoration of the West side of Westminster Hall." The Vote was described in the Estimates as "for the Restoration of Westminster Hall. Mr. Pearson, in his Report (Appendix No. 1, page 156), said, his objecthas been, consistently with present requirements, to recover the aspect which it"—that was, the West side of the Hall—"presented in Richard II.'s time.He further said, (Appendix No. 1, page 156), after describing certain details of his design—In fact, hut very little of the restoration is conjectural;and he spoke of the projecting building at the North-West angle, which was to stand on the site of a building of Henry III.'s time that he did not propose to restore, in words which implied that for the rest of his design he did claim that it was truly a restoration. He said in his Report (Appendix 1, page 151) that he had designed the building on the site referred toIn character with Richard II.'s work, considering the data insufficient to warrant any attempted restoration of the work of Henry III.He (Mr. Dick-Peddie) was satisfied that there were more data on which to found a restoration of this building of Henry III. than there were for restoring any part of Richard II's work. In the answer to the first question put to him, Mr. Pearson spoke of his plans as a "restoration," and throughout the whole of his examination by the Chairman this representation of his designs was kept up. But when he (Mr. Dick-Peddie) came to cross-examine Mr. Pearson, the claim that the plans were a restoration was entirely destroyed; it had been formally given up in the Report of the Select Committee, and there was no longer the pretence that the Hall was to be "restored" to its original state. He might remind the Committee that the chief feature in the designs was the erection of a two-storied building between the buttresses. In each bay, that was the portion of the building between the two buttresses, the lower storey had two wide low arches formed in it, and the upper storey was to have two windows almost exact reproductions of the windows of the Hall. Those windows were sym- 833 metrically placed; the wall head was to be surmounted with an embattled parapet and cope. Mr. Pearson's authority for the design of the lower storey was a plan by Capon to be found in the Appendix. But Mr. Pearson was compelled to admit that what Capon's plan showed was not two arches in each bay, but one wide low arch instead of two as shown in the designs. For the windows in the upper storey Mr. Pearson appealed to a plan by Sir Christopher Wren, which was also in the Appendix to the Report; but he had to admit in examination that Wren's plan showed not two windows in each bay, symmetrically arranged, but that it showed in some of the bays one window only in the centre, and in others two windows irregularly placed, and that of the size and form of the windows it gave no indication at all. Mr. Pearson had, indeed, in reply to the last question which he (Mr. Dick-Peddie) put to him, which was if he could state shortly what part of his design was restoration, to admit that nothing was restoration but the base of the wall, its height, and the fact that there were windows having each two lights in it. Well, even as to the height Mr. Pearson was wrong in the estimation of the Select Committee, for in their Report they recommended theLowering of the wall, and that a plain coping should be substituted for the battlemented coping. There is, they might observe, no direct evidence that the original wall had parapets.But the whole architectural design in this wall lay in the parapet and the windows; and if there was not reliable evidence for the existence on the design of the former, nor for the size or number or shape and distribution of the latter, the claim for the design as a restoration he said was completely destroyed, and all that remained, even according to Mr. Pearson, was the fact that they were to have a new wall in the same position as an old one. That a wall did at one time exist in this position was unquestionable; but as to its height there was great doubt, and whatever that height might have been in comparatively recent times there were absolutely no data whatever for determining what it was in Richard II.'s time. But there was conclusive evidence given by Mr. Scott, a witness brought in support of the design, and of Mr. Brock, who had more attentively studied the indications of the 834 building than any other witness, that the wall had not been at any time of uniform height. He was sorry that in a matter of this kind, of a highly technical character, the Members of the House could not be expected to read the long evidence that had been brought forward. He was satisfied that any Members who did read it could come to no other conclusion than that there was no evidence at all on which to found any restoration of the building "to the aspect which it presented in Richard II.'s time." But while Mr. Pearson professed to restore what there was no data for restoring, he did not restore features which the building undoubtedly did possess at whatever date it existed. There did undoubtedly exist, as Mr. Pearson himself had pointed out, cross walls, extending from the side of the Hall to the buttresses. These he did not restore. Again, Sir Christopher Wren's plan showed that a number of fire-places existed in the old building which must have bad tall chimneys rising above the wall heads. Neither fire-places nor chimneys were shown in Mr. Pearson's designs. In fact, Mr. Pearson "restored" that of the existence of which there was no evidence, and he did not restore that of which there was clear evidence. A very important fact, bearing on the date of the building which at one time existed on the site, was that according to the evidence of Mr. Stevenson, the accuracy of which was in effect admitted by Mr. Pearson, the only portion of the cope which remained when he inspected the old walls was, as shown by its mouldings, of later date than Richard II.'s time. He had said that there were more data on which to found a restoration of the building of Henry III. at the North-West angle of the wall, than of the buildings of Richard II.'s time. In fact, that building was in existence till 1806, and a beautiful drawing made by Capon in that year, and copied in plate No. 24 of the Appendix to the Report, showed its character so distinctly that it might easily have been reproduced. He wished to put strongly before the Committee that even had it been possible to ascertain the exact nature of the buildings of Richard II. and to restore them, their restoration would not have been desirable when it had become impossible to show the buildings under conditions at all similar to those 835 under which they had originally existed. The Select Committee gave, as one of their conclusions, that Richard II.'s building was intended to be seen. No one had ever questioned that. What was questioned was, whether they were intended to be seen in an extensive view. All mediaeval work was built well and made sightly; but its designers had too much common sense to make the side of a building, which was to be seen from the kitchen court of a palace, of the same architectural character as a show front to be seen from a great space like Palace Yard. Accordingly, while the front facing Palace Yard was made dignified and noble with its lofty gable and flanking towers, the side was made suitable for a front to be viewed from a narrow court. It was no doubt substantial, well designed, and well built, but of a plain character. Much evidence had been brought before the Committee as to the extent to which buildings existed formerly on the West side of Westminster Hall. In the first sentence of Mr. Pearson's Report, he said that the Hall was originally erected in 1097 by William Rufus "as the nucleus of an extensive palace which he proposed building." But a nucleus was a point around which matter was to gather; and it was reasonable to suppose that if this nucleus was erected in 1097 a very large number of buildings must have gathered around it before Richard II.'s time, that was nearly 300 years later. Well, they had an inventory of Edward III.'s time, which showed that even then upwards of 300 buildings connected with the Palace had arisen round the Hall. Mr. Pearson's Report mentioned 14 of those; but Mr. Pearson thought that almost all of them were on the East side of the Hall, and he said there was no evidence of what existed on the West side of the Hall before Henry VIII.'s time. But the evidence of the eminent archaeologists and architects who had studied not only Mr. Pearson's Report, but every ancient record of the indications of foundations revealed by the excavations recently made, showed that not only the greater number of the 14 buildings mentioned by Mr. Pearson, but many more of the 100 buildings in Edward III.'s inventory, were on the West side of the Hall, and that the Hall was so densely closed in on that side that not more than two of its bays could have 836 been seen from any point so far removed from it as St. Margaret Street, and that that limited amount could have been seen from only one point—namely, the opening of the Fish Yard. The right hon. Gentleman who was Chairman of the Select Committee had spoken disparagingly of these archaeologists; but they were gentlemen quite as eminent as architects as the witnesses brought in support of Mr. Pearson's designs, while they added to their acquirements as architects an archaeological knowledge to which none of the witnesses in support of Mr. Pearson could pretend. He would point out that not one of Mr. Pearson's witnesses claimed to have any knowledge, except from Mr. Pearson's Report, of the state of the buildings around the Hall in olden times. Three of them admitted that they had not studied the question at all; the rest admitted that what knowledge they had was derived from Mr. Pearson's Report. He (Mr. Dick-Peddie) had pointed that out during the proceedings of the Select Committee, and Mr. Pearson was recalled and defended his witnesses by saying that they had studied the question because they had read his Report. But the correctness of his Report was the very matter in dispute; and statements confessedly based only on the study of the Report were absolutely useless for establishing its authority. If hon. Members would read the evidence they would find that, with the exception of Mr. Pearson's own evidence, the whole weight of archaeological evidence was on one side, and that it conclusively established that the West side of the Hall could only be seen in small portions at a time and from narrow kitchen courts. To reproduce and present a front intended to be thus seen, even if it could be ascertained what it was as a feature in a wide view from an extended open space, would be a serious mistake and violation of the spirit which animated mediaeval architects. Of the architectural merits of the design he would say little. Most hon. Members had seen the models recently put up, and could form their own judgment of their effect; but he would point out that the models failed to give a true impression of the complete design, because they did not show the building which was to project from the Hall at its North-West angle. Everyone who looked at the West side 837 of Westminster Hall must be satisfied that the effect of erecting a two-storied building between the buttresses must be to shut out to a great extent from view the most important architectural features which the Hall possessed. Those were the row of windows and the flying buttresses. Of those features some of the witnesses had spoken in the strongest terms of admiration. Mr. Ewan Christian spoke of the "magnificent series of windows," and Mr. Scott spoke of the flying buttresses as being "the most striking part of the whole building," and of what was proposed in the designs as to shutting out to a large extent the windows from the view of anyone standing in St. Margaret Street, and even at more distant points. Nearly two-thirds, or at least one-half, of the windows would be hidden. With regard to the flying buttresses, his hon. Friend the Member for Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry) had already pointed out that, while a small portion would be visible from the street, a large portion would actually be buried in the proposed buildings, and would appear as an unsightly mass coming through the ceiling of the upper range of rooms. As to the projecting building at the North-West angle, the effect of it could not be better described than in the graphic words of Mr. Barry in his evidence before the Committee. Mr. Barry said—It would look extremely insignificant at the end of a pile of buildings which began with the Clock Tower to the extreme East, comes down to lofty buildings on the site of New Palace Yard, continues as a lofty building to the North end of the Hall, and then all of a sudden is diminished to a most insignificant building at a very important point.He would not dwell farther on the objections to the architectural effect of the proposed buildings; but before sitting down he wished to say a few words on what was, perhaps, the most important matter for consideration—namely, their practical utility. He ventured to say that, on the score of utility, nothing could be said in favour of the designs; and that, he thought, was the strongest argument against them. He might remind the Committee that in the speech which the late First Commissioner of Works made in support of the designs he did not venture to say that the accommodation to be provided was required, or that it would serve any im- 838 portant useful purpose. It could hardly be expected that it should if the course of procedure were kept in mind. The first thing that a Commissioner of Works, who proposed to make any addition to a great public building, should consider was, what were the requirements of the Public Service. He had put to several of the witnesses—to Mr. Pearson, to Mr. Barry, and to a former First Commissioner (Mr. Ayrton)—whether it was not usual, before instructing an architect to prepare designs, to inform him what were the purposes the building was intended to serve, and they had all answered in the affirmative. Mr. Ayrton said—I made it a positive rule that the whole exigencies of the Public Service should be the thing to be settled before an architect is even consulted at all about a building.The Committee would recognize that as consistent with common sense. In the present case, however, a very different course was followed. Mr. Pearson said—His instructions gave him no indication whatever what might be the wish of the Government:because, as the Chairman put it in his question, the Government "had not, in fact, any wish at the time;" and the Chairman in his own evidence said—There is a very serious demand which could not be met by re-arrangement of the rooms already existing under the roof of the House.And he stated—I gave Mr. Pearson the most general instructions. I had at that time no expectation that it would be necessary to erect any building on the West Front of the Hall.He further said, after stating that Mr. Pearson recommended reconstruction or the restoration of buildings which he supposed had formerly existed between the buttresses—We then, for the first time, discussed the uses to which the galleries and buildings could be put.The Chairman had repeated that statement in his speech that day, and he seemed to take credit to himself for the way in which he had proceeded. He (Mr. Dick-Peddie) ventured to say-that it was a great failure of duty on the part of the First Commissioner of Works when the right hon. Gentleman proposed to the House to defray the expenses for carrying out the 839 erection of buildings, the necessity for which had never presented itself to his mind until the plans were before him. No wonder that, proceeding as the right hon. Gentleman had done, he had first submitted plans which showed, as the only accommodation to be provided, a carriage stand on the ground floor and a long gallery, whose uses were undefined, on the first floor, and then a second set of plans showing the space on both floors divided into rooms for Committees or Commissions. He hoped that the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Plunket) would cake the matter into his serious consideration, and he could much wish that he had applied his own mind to the question before submitting this Vote to the House of Commons. Well, what bad been the result of that uncertainty on the part of the right hon. and learned Gentleman? They had often beard the late Government accused of vacillation. He (Mr. Dick-Peddie) had no sympathy with those charges; but he thought that in this case the right hon. and learned Gentleman had shown very marked vacillation. Now, with regard to the amount of accommodation which the buildings would offer, he wished to say a few words upon that important point. What amount of accommodation was the country getting for its money? He would not dwell on this point at length, as his hon. Friend the Member for Galway had gone fully into it. His hon. Friend bad spoken of the lower range of rooms as cellars. He (Mr. Dick-Peddie) would hardly be prepared to characterize them so strongly; but it was safe to say that, sunk, as they would be, below Westminster Hall, going to them from the Hall would be, as some of the witnesses described it, like going down into cellars. Westminster Hall was a low building, and the entrance to it actually sloped down from New Palace Yard; but these rooms were to be nine or 10 steps lower. That, be thought, was an utterly absurd arrangement. Of the witnesses brought in support of Mr. Pearson's plans, Mr. Ewan Christian admitted "that he did not think the lower rooms could be made available," and Mr. Scott said "they would not be suited for anything but storage" Well, those were rooms which he did not think the country ought to pay £1,500 for. The upper 840 rooms, again, would be very badly lighted. They would each have a lighting area of 48 square feet; while their cubical space was about 11,600 feet. There would thus be I square foot of lighting area to 240 cubic feet of space. Now, in an ordinary London drawing room, the lighting area was 1 square foot to about 70 feet of cubic space. It was suggested that recourse might be had to roof lights, But everyone acquainted with lighting knew that the most disagreeable mode of lighting was a combination of side lights and roof lights; and hon. Members had not far to go to prove this, for that was the mode of lighting in the Grand Committee Room on the same floor as this House, and a very disagreeable room it was. That was not the way in which the mediaeval architects, of whose work this professed to be a restoration, would have done. They would have considered what amount of light was needed, and would have made the number and size of their windows sufficient to provide it. This, like many restorations, professed to reproduce mediaeval forms, while their authors utterly failed to grasp the spirit of the mediaeval architects. With regard to the horse shed, he must say a few words. It was sunk below the level of the Hall, 3 feet 6 inches, and was approached by the steep gradients his hon. Friend the Member for Galway had described. It was a place of limited height, the front of it was to be formed by solid piers, with heavy stone arches springing from them. The horses of Members were to stand there, and it was to have a public urinal connected with it; while above it was to be the large Committee Room which had already been described in the debate. The effluvia from the horse shed and urinal must ascend to this room, and no mode of ventilation that could be adopted would prevent the evil. Not one rational suggestion was made for obviating the evil. One witness indeed—namely, Mr. Brooks—had the courage to suggest ventilation by a fan. He (Mr. Dick-Peddie) asked Mr. Brooks how the fun was to be driven, and the reply was "by steam, or gas, or water power," and by that means the witness said the air would be exhausted in five minutes. He asked the witness whether, in that case, there would not be a rush 841 of air into the place to fill the space from which air had been extracted by the fan, and whether that would not involve draughts of air which would be injurious to the horses? Mr. Brooks admitted that "it would not be good for the horses." In fact, the plan of ventilation was utterly absurd, and, if adopted, would kill the horses in a week. He thought that to spend the public money in the erection of buildings such as had been described should be condemned by the Committee, and that no additions to this great national building should be made, except to meet some urgent need, and after every care had been taken to make sure that that need was met in the best way. The building now proposed would be nearly useless, and would only be a record of error. He need not say that he found it no agreeable duty to oppose the carrying out of these plans, as he had done. For Mr. Pearson he had the greatest respect. As an ecclesiastical architect, he was second to none in the profession; but for a building of the kind proposed he (Mr. Diek-Peddie) could not admit that he was the best fitted. One other matter only he must refer to. The Chairman of the Select Committee had been strongly censured by the hon. Member for Galway, for the way in which he had treated the witnesses who gave evidence against the designs of Mr. Pearson. He (Mr. Dick-Peddie; was not inclined to endorse all that his hon. Friend had said; but he was sorry to say that he was not surprised to hear the charge. The right hon. Gentleman had defended himself by saying that he was acting in two capacities—first as Chairman of the Committee; and, second, as the person responsible for the plans, he having been First Commissioner when they were prepared. He (Mr. Dick-Peddie) had yet to learn, however, that the fact of a Chairman's filling a dual, or even a triple capacity, was any justification for treating witnesses otherwise than with courtesy. Ho was sorry to have to refer to this matter. But he felt it due to some of the witnesses to do so. The right hon. Gentleman constantly, in the Committee, made invidious comparisons between Mr. Pearson's witnesses and those who had given evidence against the plans. Now, he ventured to say that the latter witnesses were, as archi- 842 tects, quite as eminent as those whom Mr. Pearson had brought, while, as archaeologists, they possessed eminence and qualifications which no witness on the other side, except Mr. Pearson himself, could pretend to. The way in which the witnesses had been treated had had a bad effect on the inquiry. It was an easy matter for any architect to bring forward five or six friends to give evidence in favour of his plans; it was a very different thing to find witnesses to oppose them, for professional men were naturally averse to criticize the plans of a professional brother, knowing how liable they became to invidious remarks. The way in which several of the witnesses had been treated had prevented other eminent architects from coming forward. He had to thank the Committee for their kind indulgence, and he ventured to express the hope that, even now, they would decline to grant the Vote asked.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Sir HENRY HOLLAND)
said, he did not desire to stand between the Committee and those who were more competent than he was to address them on this question. He wished to rise early in the discussion, because he wanted to say that ho should speak only as a Member of the Committee, and not as Financial Secretary to the Treasury. The hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry) seemed to think he would address the Committee in an official capacity; but he would point out that he had nothing more to do with this Vote than any other Member of the Committee. The hon. Member for Galway had spoken of him as possessed of a judicial mind; but, whether that was so or not, he had never laid any claim to the possession of taste. He always bore in mind Pope's lines—What brought Sir Visto's ill-got wealth to waste? Some demon whispered,' Visto,have a taste.'He only wanted to state on what principle, rightly or wrongly, he approved of the plan before them. Certainly, he had entered the Committee with no feeling one way or the other; and while bearing his testimony to the zeal, ability, and knowledge of Mr. Pearson, he desired to bear a no less willing testimony to the ability and knowledge of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Dick-Peddie). In fact, the hon. Gen- 843 tleman's Report, which had been most carefully prepared, had formed the subject-matter of the speeches of the hon. Member for Galway, and of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock himself; and he should be surprised if it were not made the subject of reference by subsequent speakers, because it embraced, in his opinion, every point in connection with the subject. However, after careful consideration, that Report bad been rejected by the Committee—not unanimously, because there was one other Member, but only one, who voted with the hon. Member for Kilmarnock. He did not propose now to go into the details of the subject; but he believed that, on the whole, the plan which had been adopted was the best. What other plan had the Committee before them? They had the proposal of the revival of Sir Charles Barry's plan; but he thought it would be admitted that Parliament had distinctly put an end to any revival of that plan. Although it might not be absolutely necessary to carry out that plan that St. Margaret's Church should be removed, yet the modified plans brought before the Committee by his son, Mr. Barry, were extremely awkward in appearance, the front being rounded off in a very unpleasant way, and he believed that no Member of the Committee approved that plan. Then there was the plan of the wood and plaster gallery, which he was not surprised had been dropped in this debate. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock had said nothing in his speech with respect to that gallery. [Mr. DICK-PEDDIE: I never was in favour of it.] Of course, if the hon. Gentleman was not in favour of it, he withdrew the observation so far as he was concerned; but some of the witnesses brought forward by the hon. Member had declared in favour of it. Then, as to the third plan before the Committee, that was again, of course, a matter of taste—it was to repair the buttresses; in other words, to rebuild them, as they were so grievously out of repair, and to lay down grass. But the hon. Member for Galway had thrown out some further suggestion that there should be a modest structure of glass and iron for cabs and horses. He presumed the hon. Gentleman did not mean that that should be anywhere near Westminster Hall. [Mr. MITCHELL HENRY: No. On the other side of the Yard.] 844 Those, then, were the three plans before the Committee, and certainly he did not intend to set himself up as an absolute judge of their respective merits; but, as far as he could see, the Committee were right in choosing the plan which had been most carefully worked out by a gentleman thoroughly competent, and which was approved by the most able architects. He did not want to say anything against what had been stated by the hon. Member for Galway upon that subject; but he thought no one, after reading the evidence, would dispute that the leading architects had approved Mr. Pearson's plan. He would now refer to one or two of the points which had been brought forward against the plan. It was said that it would make the Hall very dark, and that was one of the reasons which had made him desire to see the height of the new buildings somewhat lowered; and he had himself introduced the Amendments in the draft Report which gave effect to that view, and which were adopted by the Committee. As the matter now stood, he very much questioned whether there would be any serious darkness to complain of.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY
said, that was so; but he was afraid that would be the case under any plan, as it would be necessary in order to finish the North side of the Tower overlooking the proposed cloister. It had been said that according to this plan the Richard II. windows would be shut out. He was of opinion that the plan originally proposed did shut them out too much; but it must be remembered that very eminent architects, who were very anxious that the upper parts of the windows should be seen, were by no means desirous of having the lower part visible. It was desirable, in their opinion, to have this lower part hidden, because the windows were too short; and if that part were not hidden the defect would be shown. There was, therefore, no reason for the Committee to guard against the hiding of the lower parts of the windows. A very considerable portion of the windows would be seen according to the amended plan. Then there was the question of the steps into the Hall. That matter had been carefully considered, and it had been decided that 845 there should be no steps such as heretofore had existed, and which had always been a great blot on the beauty of the Hall. The steps, if it was necessary to have them at all, would be in one corner by the side of the door. As to the building which would go at right angles from the Avail, he admitted it would not be a very pleasant thing to have horses under the room in which Gentlemen were to meet for conferences, or for other purposes; but it must be remembered that there would be no horses there until 4 o'clock. Members did not come down on horseback before that hour, by which time all conferences would have ceased. He did not, therefore, anticipate that the use to which it was proposed to put this part of the building would be of any inconvenience to hon. Members who had to make use of those rooms. It was not yet definitely arranged that the rooms would be used for the holding of conferences. True, they might be used for that purpose; but it was not necessary that they should be. And that brought him to his last point—namely, the restoration question, which had been treated by some as one of importance. He, for one, as a Member of the Committee, had not attached great importance to it. If the plans submitted were consistent—not as a pure and simple restoration, but consistent with what it was possible Westminster Hall had been in the old days—he was prepared to adopt it. He was prepared to adopt it, though it was not a restoration. He had put aside the question of absolute restoration in considering the case; and he was satisfied if the proposed building was in general harmony with the simple grandeur of the Hall. He was obliged to the Committee for having listened to him, although ho felt he was not dealing fully with the points hon. Gentlemen had raised in their speeches. He had endeavoured to deal with these points when the subject was under the consideration of the Select Committee. He had had constant discussions with the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Hick-Peddie) on those subjects; but, seeing that that hon. Gentleman's Report had been overruled, the Committee would not desire to hear him (Sir Henry Holland) go into the matter again.
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH
declared that, from the leisurely way in which they had proceeded that day, it would scarcely 846 be credited by a stranger that they had arrived at the last few hours of an expiring Parliament. He was of opinion that a question of this character, instead of suffering by delay, would benefit by it. Delay would prove that Parliament had been wise, seeing that there were such wide differences of opinion on the subject, in hesitating and taking time for consideration. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Galway County (Mr. Mitchell Henry) had pointed out that there would shortly be a new Parliament, sent there by a very different electorate to that they had had in the past. There was great force in the observation; and the Committee would be acting wisely, he thought, in leaving the whole subject to be dealt with by the new Parliament, according to the conditions and exigencies which might be found to exist in connection with it. The question might wear a very different aspect in the future, and the tendency of the House and the requirements of the building might be very different to what they had been in the past. Hon. Members might not be disposed to perform their duties in the somewhat leisurely way in which many hon. Members had performed them in the present and in past Parliaments. For his own part, he was not going to attempt to settle the difference between the two opposing schools on the question of the restoration of Westminster Hall. He would only venture to say that he hoped the utilitarian question would not be lost sight of. His own opinion was, from the proposals which were before the Committee, and the plans which had been submitted to them, that they were really damaging the work they had in hand by a slavish adherence to some mediaeval notions. The first question for them to decide was what could really be done on this site, bearing in mind the desirability of having harmony of design, as far as possible, between the new and the old buildings; but the main question for the moment was whether an increase in the accommodation of the House of Commons or of the other House of Parliament was required. If it was not, he maintained that there was no hurry, and there could not be any hurry for pushing forward the question. He wished to give his right hon. Friend the late First Commissioner of Works (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) credit—and he thought the right hon. 847 Gentleman deserved a great deal of credit—for the masterly manner in which he had carried out most of the work with which he had been intrusted in connection with the Office he had held. The right hon. Gentleman had immense ability; and he possessed another quality, which, if it were rightly directed, was invaluable to a Minister in his position—that was to say, ho liked to succeed. But the right hon. Gentleman must excuse him for saying that in this manner he had been like one of the ships of Her Majesty's Fleet—his steering apparatus had been out of order. The right hon. Gentleman had admitted before the Select Committee that he had a difficult function to discharge, in being himself a most ardent advocate of one of the schemes before the Committee, so that it was almost impossible for him, with his zeal for something to be done, to sail with an even keel; and he (Mr. Illingworth) thought there might be some little foundation for the complaint made by the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry), and noticed to some extent by the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Pick-Peddie). He did not blame the right hon. Gentleman altogether; his zeal had probably led him a little beyond what some hon. Gentlemen would wish him to go. But the point was a small one, and he (Mr. Illingworth) would not dwell on it further. He did maintain, however, that there was no haste for the settlement of this question as it was now presented to the House of Commons. As to the danger of the stone decaying in the winter if the settlement of the question were deferred to next Session, he thought that, seeing that the stone had been where it was for centuries, and had now been exposed for a considerable period, they might put that consideration aside. He could not believe that any real, substantial harm would be done to the Norman masonry if Parliament should take another year, or even two years, before coming to a final decision on the matter. He was satisfied of this—that, as far as the utility of the buildings proposed was concerned, a strong case could not be made out for the plan before the Committee. In the first place, his right hon. Friend—as they had been already reminded—with regard to one important matter connected with this 848 subject—namely, the question of additional accommodation for Committee Rooms, had not thought it worth while, in the strengthening of his case, to say one word as to that in his very able speech. As far as the other buildings were concerned, there did not seem to be any call for them whatever. In fact, it seemed very uncertain what use the rooms could be put to if really built. Considering the enormous amount of work Parliament had on its hands, the expenditure the country was involved in, and the altered circumstances in which the new House of Commons would come together, he, for his own part, should rejoice if the Vote were to be delayed for another year, and if the responsibility and work to be undertaken in sanctioning the plans and designs were left over to the new House of Commons when it should be elected. Of course, this question was to be looked at from many different standpoints. He, for one, looked at it from a utilitarian point of view. He considered they were paying a very poor compliment to the men who originally built this magnificent building—Westminster Hall—if they assumed that they did it for the mere sake of appearance. It was one of the most capacious rooms in the world, and it was manifestly one in which utility had been first considered by those who built it. When it was remembered that the carrying out of the proposal before the Committee might necessitate the sinking of the floor, that it would give them an imperfectly lighted range of rooms, that care had not been taken to arrange for warming the building, and that with regard to ventilation the frivolous proposal was made that they should have a fan worked in connection with the rooms in consequence of the use the cloister would be put to, and to prevent unpleasant odours annoying anyone upstairs, he thought the House of Commons would be justified in hesitating before deciding the matter that Session. It was only due to the new First Commissioner of Works (Mr. Plunket) that ho should have time to consider the matter on his own responsibility. He (Mr. Illingworth) did not contend that all wisdom rested with the Liberal Party, and he should be glad to see a manifestation of it from the other side; and from no hon. Gentleman would he 849 expect such manifestation with more confidence than from the right hon. and learned Gentleman who now represented the Office of Works, and who, presumably, expected that he and his Friends would have to carry out this work.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
said, he should take up as little of the time of the Committee as possible; but still this was a question upon which he would not be doing his duty to his own convictions—having taken great interest in the matter, and having, certainly, gone far to make up the average of the Members, whoever they might be, who had sat very continuously on the Committee—if he did not take part in the debate. The difficulty he had experienced in dealing with this question was, that he had to deal with Gentlemen who, no doubt, from most honourable and enlightened motives, had followed the rule of the well-known and time-honoured game—a game, no doubt, well known to hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House, called "thimble-rig." He could not find out under which thimble the pea was. Some Gentlemen, like the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Dick-Peddie) got up and fell very heavily upon Mr. Pearson because he was not archaeological enough. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock was followed by the hon. Member for Bradford, whose complaint against Mr. Pearson was, his aversion to such mediaeval matters as the architect purveyed. The hon. Member was practical. Now, whether Mr. Pearson was too archaeological or too practical was a matter upon which his (Mr. Beresford Hope's) mind had been in a state of confusion and flux ever since he came into the House. He had heard this gentleman attacked with much vigour on one or on other of the two points mentioned; and, if he remembered rightly, one hon. Member had attacked him on both. That being the case, what were they called upon to decide? Here was Westminster Hall stripped naked, and ashamed by an act of most righteous judgment on the part of the then authorities who had pulled down—and he was glad to find that amongst the many differences of opinion which had been exhibited that day all were at one on this question—those most hideous buildings, the old Law Courts. They had to 850 be pulled down. ["No, no!"] Well, at any rate, they were pulled down, and Westminster Hall was left as they saw it now; and whether the Estimates were in one state or another, whether they were at war or peace, every man with taste and common sense must see that it would be a national disgrace to leave that West Front of Westminster Hall in its present condition one day more than was absolutely necessary. The hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry), with that bright imagination which they knew was the heritage of the Hibernian race whom he represented—and it was of the hon. Member's official Hibernianism and, consequently, of his official representative imagination that he spoke—had declared that until the Old Law Courts were pulled down nobody knew of the existence of the flying buttresses. That was not the fact. Possibly he (Mr. Beresford Hope) had been exceptionally placed; but he had known of and had seen the flying buttresses, or at least one or two of them, from the windows of the official residence of one of the most respected officers of the House. Everyone who had been able to look at the back of the Law Courts knew that those buttresses existed. The point, therefore, the hon. Member for Galway had attempted to make out of this alarming discovery of these flying buttresses was due to the hon. Member's own bright imagination. No doubt the discovery of the Norman wall, in its present condition, was a new matter. That wall, with its untouched face, was a discovery of great importance, and one that, of course, modified, or ought to have modified, the plans. The hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Illingworth) had said—"Why not put off the thing for a year? This wall, which had existed for centuries, can wait a year more, and will take no harm." But how had it existed for centuries? Why, because it was well built up and kept air-tight, watertight, eye-tight, and tight all round. If it were now allowed to remain open for even a year to the atmosphere and the weather, in time an effect might be produced upon it which by no possibility could ever be repaired. The hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry) had complained that the plan submitted to the Committee would have the effect of partially hiding the flying buttresses; but if the hon. Member had studied 851 well—as no doubt he did study well—the full-sized model that was on exhibition a few weeks or months ago, and if, now, he would look at the pictures in the Blue Book, he would see that no part at all of the flying buttresses would be shut up. They would be all open and exposed to the day. To say that the flying buttresses would be hidden was a thing of which the very simplest test of evidence would prove the unwarrantableness. The hon. Member had grown pathetic when he had touched upon the question of the amount of light which would be built out of Westminster Hall by the cloister. There, again, he (Mr. Beresford Hope) joined issue with the hon. Member, and declared that it would only be an infinitesimal amount of light which would be shut out, if any at all. Then the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Dick-Peddie), essaying even a bolder flight, had poured much ridicule and contempt on the right hon. Gentleman the late First Commissioner of Works and Postmaster General (Mr. Shaw Lefevre), for saying that there would be two doors leading into the building which stood at right angles. He (Mr. Beresford Hope) had been rather surprised at the hon. Gentleman's assertion, for he could not credit it that the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works would make a statement without knowing what he was talking about; but, upon this matter, he (Mr. Beresford Hope) had looked into the Blue Book. He had there found two or three plans giving the ground and other floors, and of course a ground floor plan did not represent doors loading into rooms on the stairs above; but if the hon. Member had had the patience—and it would not have been a very long or onerous task—to look on as far as plan number six he would there have seen in the Blue Book the two doors, one at the end and the other out in the turret. Therefore, the hon. Member's charge fell entirely to the ground. But, of course, the way in which the question was presented to the Committee, who were anxious to follow out the question modestly and industriously, prevented them from being able to do so. With regard to the rooms, if an hon. Member ventured to make a proposal as to the use to which the roams should be put, he was held for ever 852 afterwards to have laid down an unalterable opinion that that was the particular use to which the rooms should be put. If at any time he should see reason to modify his view he was at once charged with vacillation and double-dealing. That was the complaint made against a Member if, in the course of his investigation, he saw something better, and had sufficient common sense, when he had made up his mind to something better, not to stick to what he now thought something worse. And so the subject of the use to which these three or four rooms in the cloister should be put was made matter of contention, and for bringing charges of vacillation and double-dealing to an extent which he would have thought men of common sense would have been ashamed of. The first thing the Select Committee had looked to had been the preservation of Westminster Hall and the safeguarding of the flying buttresses; and, no doubt, if the House succeeded in that object—nodoubt, if the safety of Westminster Hall and the safeguarding of the flying buttresses were secured by pleasant architectural improvements—they would be able to find a use for the rooms. The rooms would be 40 feet long and 20 feet broad, and of good height. They would be very useful, but there was no practical purpose in connection with the House to which they could be applied at present. The House had no immediate use for them. They might be found useful for conferences and for Members to see their constituents in; but, such as they were, there was great probability that they might be wanted some time; and from a practical point of view they would not be unworthy of the adoption of the House as additional space. There they were; rooms available for something or other. They might be called Committee Rooms. "Committee Room" was an easy and a comprehensive term, and one generally adopted to describe rooms used in the Houses of Parliament. The room which would leave Westminster Hall at right angles had been much discussed, and when it had been mentioned in connection with Grand Committees, "Grand Committees" had been made fun of. But who had ever said that this was to be a Grand Committee Room? To begin with, they could not have a Grand Committee Room 853 without a Grand Committee to put into it; and he did not think that the House by its action that Session was so enamoured of Grand Committees that anyone could say there was ever likely to be a Grand Committee to put into this room. If they had another Grand Committee appointed in addition to the two they had already, then it would be time enough to consider whether or not this room—with its two doors at two ends, and not with its one door at one end-could be made available. If not used for a Grand Committee, it might be, as had been pointed out, utilized for conferences or some other purpose. No doubt the hon. Members for Kilmarnock and Bradford, or any other Members, desired at times to meet their constituents, and no doubt their constituents might at times desire to meet Representatives so well educated upon all political questions and so capable of giving an opinion. It was said there was to be no fire-place in this room. One hon. Gentleman—he thought it was the hon. Member for Kilmarnock—had drawn a touching picture of the men of the olden time who made real substantial fire-places, and the men of the present day who could not properly supply these conveniences. The only flaw in the indictment was that Mr. Pearson did arrange for fire-places in his designs, not on the model of ancient fire-places it was true, but with the advantage of a great knowledge of the chemistry of air and smoke, which builders and architects in mediaeval times had not the least idea of. Mr. Pearson's scientific knowledge enabled him to adapt his fire-places and chimneys to the space at his command. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock had dwelt very much on the evidence of Mr. Brock, who had come forward with a theory of his own, so far as he (Mr. Beresford Hope) could make out, which was unsupported by anyone else. Now, he gladly admitted Mr. Brock's erudition, industry, and antiquarian ability; but this gentleman was not to be put forward as a man who had only to speak for them to fall down. Some hon. Members would kill Mr. Pearson's plan because it was not archaeological enough, whilst others would kill it because it was too archaeological. Mr. Pearson's proposal was in the true spirit of archaeology. It was not an absolute restoration of what 854 could not be absolutely restored, seeing that all evidence of what the building originally was had perished; but it did take up in a generous spirit the general form and outline of the old buildings, and give something which in itself and in its general outline gave abroad idea, a pleasant and complete whole. If they were to do nothing until they knew what building had stood on this site in the time or Richard II. they would never do anything at all. If they waited until they could reproduce the whole thing the building would remain in the condition in which it was at the present moment for ever. It would be like the old book of illustrations of costumes which gave the dresses of every country till it reached England, which appeared in the shape of a man stark naked, with some bundles of cloth under his arm, unable to decide which pattern he would prefer. They had a man who was prepared to carry out the building, who was determined to take it up on general lines and give a broad idea of what the structure might have been, and that the Committee were asked to adopt. If it were a very extravagant idea which would cost hundreds of thousands of pounds, like Sir Charles Barry's plan, then ho would say—"Have nothing to do with it." But what would Mr. Pearson's plan cost? Here ho would say that hon. Gentlemen opposite had not dealt quite fairly with their figures. What made up the £35,000? Why, it was partly asked for in respect of the two towers at the entrance to Westminster Hall, which, whether they added to the beauty of the Hall or not, were not at present to be constructed—a circumstance which some people might regret from a merely artistic point of view. He might be one of those people himself. He was quite satisfied that from a utilitarian and practical point of view that part of the work might ho postponed, and ought to be postponed. That would diminish the expense very largely. Another part of the expenditure had reference to what must be done, whether any plan was adopted, or no plan was adopted; and that was the repairing and completing of the ragged corner of the building near St. Stephen's Porch—the building thrown open by the demolition of the old Law Courts. Hon. Members would, therefore, see that one part of the 855 work was not to be done, and that another might or might not, but was quite independent of the proposed cloister; and in this way the cost was reduced to about £10,000. This would be, for the magnitude of the work, a most cheap undertaking, and he would strongly recommend it to the Committee. What would its effect be? Everyone who had studied archaeological effect would know very well that, with all the magnificence and grandeur of the Palace, its fault was that it was too regular. Its architecture had not the light and shade, the advances and recesses, of true Gothic work. In the proposed new building they would gain that. The westerly building, with its different heights, would give a lightness, and life, and vigour to Barry's great pile which nothing else could do. On these grounds the plan of Mr. Pearson was recommended to the Committee. He maintained that the objections were frivolous, because they were inconsistent, because they killed each other. The expense would not be great, looking at the character of the undertaking; and if the present wretched ruin were left in the condition in which it was at that moment it would get worse and worse. As to leaving the work to the new Parliament, he heard a great deal about the new Parliament; and his opinion was that although in some respects it might be better or worse than the present Parliament, at any rate with regard to the considerations hon. Members had now to deal with, it would be the same sort of Parliament as that of to-day. He thought the plea for delay was based on insufficient grounds, and hoped that the Committee would pass the Vote.
§ MR. CAUSTON
said, that in the few-words he proposed to address to the Committee he would not touch the subject from either an architectural or archaeological point of view, but would simply approach it from what he considered to be a practical business point of view. He had no intention of saying anything against Mr. Pearson, or his design, or the designs of any of the other architects; but he was one of those who felt that it was not necessary in the year 1885 to ask what was the intention of an architect 800 ago when he designed a building, the accommodation in which, for the purposes of the present day, they were considering. Now, the 856 right hon. Gentleman the last First Commissioner of Works but one (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) stated in his speech that immediately the old buildings that surrounded Westminster Hall wore pulled down he endeavoured to ascertain who was the best architect for the purpose of restoration, and that he had selected Mr. Pearson. He had said he had given no instructions and no hints as to what should be done. Well, that was the complaint he (Mr. Causton) had to make, looking at the matter from a practical point of view. When they considered that the Westminster side of Westminster Hall was the only space available for the enlargement of the Palace, it would be folly to appropriate it until that matter had been fully considered. As to the best plan by which they could make use of that space for Parliamentary purposes, he contended that the proper course to have adopted would have been when that space was cleared to have consulted some authorities here, if not the House generally, saying—"Here is a space available now for the use of Parliament; in what way can we best utilize it?" Put, instead of that, an architect was sent for who, no doubt, was a man of great ability, and he was told to propose plans suitable for the elevation. He (Mr. Causton) thought that was a wrong course to have adopted. Notwithstanding the fact that they had the authority of the right hon. Gentleman the late First Commissioner of Works in the Report, when he statedThat, according to his view, there was no very serious demand for increased accommodation in the Houses of Parliament which could not he met by the arrangements already existing under the Rules of the House,he (Mr. Causton), for one, should certainly be disposed to disagree with the right hon. Gentleman. Holding this view, the right hon. Gentleman presented a Report which the Committee adopted—in which he stated that several rooms would be conveniently situated in that new building for conference rooms, or deputation rooms, for Members or Ministers, or would be useful for Royal Commissions, or, as the right hon. Gentleman who last spoke declared, would be useful for "something or other." He (Mr. Causton) did not think that was at all the way to approach a subject of this kind; and, for his own part, he would 857 earnestly wish the Committee to adopt the view suggested by his hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. Illing-worth), who had said he desired that the right hon. and learned Gentleman who now filled the position of First Commissioner of Works (Mr. Plunket) would have an opportunity of looking into that matter for himself. They had heard the criticism of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Dick-Peddie):, and he thought he had put it perfectly clearly to the Committee—although if he had not made it clear to the Committee the Report of the Committee did so—that the question of restoration had been thoroughly disposed of. The Committee in their Report said that much of the evidence before them had tended to show that they could not go beyond conjecture as to the building which previously existed on the vacant site, and that much had been directed to criticism of Mr. Pearson's plan which they considered to be wrongly described as "restoration," on this ground—namely, that the form of the windows in the gallery was conjectural. Mr. Pearson himself had fully admitted that—that the windows in the Hall were not a restoration of what existed in the time of Henry III. He (Mr. Causton) thought they had disposed of the arguments of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who were anxious that the building should be restored in the form in which the architect 800 years ago originally built it. It appeared to him that the real wants of the House had not been considered by the Committee. In fact, the right hon. Gentleman had never for a moment suggested that anyone was called before the Committee to say what the requirements of the House were. And then the right hon. Gentleman rebuked them for that. He took it that as Chairman of the Committee it was the duty of the right hon. Gentleman to lead up to such an inquiry if he thought it necessary; but it appeared from the evidence before the House that that point had never been attended to at all. He (Mr. Causton) thought, for his own part, that the question could stand over for another year. That which was necessary to protect the walls could be done. They heard the statement made last year that the walls would be considerably damaged if they were allowed to remain open and unprotected last winter. The building was 858 not erected, and yet he had not heard today that any damage had been caused by that exposure. As to the plans of Sir Charles Barry, the right hon. Gentleman had said that the opposition to the Vote to-day was divided into two classes—namely, those who were in favour of the plan of the late Sir Charles Barry being adopted, and those who looked upon the matter from an archaeological point of view. For his part he thought it would be undesirable that Sir Charles Barry's designs, or any other architect's plans, should be adopted, unless the buildings erected were suitable for the purposes of Parliament, and all they were asking now was that the matter should be postponed. He was sure that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry), who had moved the Amendment, would be quite willing to adopt the suggestion that the matter should be left over for another year. In the meantime ho hoped that an inquiry would take place as to what their requirements were. As to the expense of Sir Charles Barry's plan, the right hon. Gentleman had stated that it would be at least £500,000; but he must understand that that was for the complete building—to finish the whole square court-yard. But there was no occasion to carry out the full plan. The plans that were now to be seen in the Tea Room of the House showed that that was unnecessary; but, at the same time, he was not there that day to advocate the plans of any architects. All he would say was—"Do not, for the sake of archaeological or architectural effect, put up what he believed would be thoroughly useless buildings, containing rooms which had not been considered with regard to any object of utility, but which, according to a right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Beresford Hope), could be used for 'some purpose or other.'" He hoped the Committee would not allow the Vote to be carried that day, and he trusted that the right hon. Gentleman who had charge of the Committee would see what the feeling of the Committee really was, and would not endeavour, with the assistance of the Government Bench, to drive the Report of the Committee through Parliament in a manner which ho thought would be greatly opposed to the feelings of a large majority of the House.
§ MR. CAVENDISH BENTINCK
said, he was very much afraid that he must follow the lead of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Dick-Peddie), and endeavour, at all events, to bring about a postponement of the Vote for this expenditure for some time to come. He would state his reasons for taking that course in as few words as possible. His first objection to the plan before the Committee was that, as a matter of fact, it was no restoration at all. It was an invention of Mr. Pearson's which, on the face of it, did not pretend to be an absolute attempt to reproduce the work of old times. His right hon. Friend below him (Mr. Beres-ford Hope) had, however, gone so fully into this question that there was no necessity for him to deal with it any further. His general objections had been, to a certain extent, stated by hon. Gentlemen who had addressed the Committee previously, the point being this—that the plan was, after all, nothing but a piece of patchwork. It never could be satisfactory in its general results, and would preclude the possibility at some future time of work being done which would make complete the Palace of Westminster in the manner in which the architect had originally contemplated its completion. But, passing by his general objection, he came to the particular one he desired to press on the Committee—namely, that of all men in the world Mr. Pearson was the last one who ought to be called on to carry a restoration of this kind. He quite accepted the idea of his hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury (Sir Henry Holland). They all knew that taste differed very widely in different individuals, some saying that a certain thing was good, others that it was bad. There was no definition for "taste." But he could say, and he thought they were entitled to say, that the taste of the Ancient Masters was a thing they ought to follow—not invariably, perhaps, but as a rule. Well, then, as to Mr. Pearson, however good an architect he might be, however ingenious and original, he was, judging from his public work, one of those who entirely discarded the principles which he (Mr. Cavendish Ben-tinck) insisted on. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) had spoken of Mr. Pearson's plan as having the unanimous assent of all who had 860 been consulted on the subject. The right hon. Gentleman had done him (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) the honour to consult him, though, admittedly, his opinion was of small value. What he had said to the right hon. Gentleman was this, "If we employ Mr. Pearson we shall get into a mess at the end." All the architects referred to—that was to say, Mr. Waterhouse, Mr. Blomfield, Mr. Scott, and the rest—all had a scheme of their own which they, no doubt, thought better than the Old Masters; and it was because of this that he did not believe in them, and did not think that their opinions deserved weight. But he would not confine himself to theory—he would bring a few examples before the Committee to illustrate his meaning, and bear out entirely the position he assumed. Let them take the case of the two towers in Mr. Pearson's plan, which, he understood, were not to be at the present moment erected. Look at the picture! Did anyone ever see towers produced by mediaewal architects of the perpendicular period anything like these? They were opposed to the ideas of the great architects not only of the 15th century, but of the 14th and the 13th. Architects in those days had great ideas of uniformity. If hon. Gentlemen disputed that let them go across the road and look at Westminster Abbey. Whoever saw a tower of the 14th or 15th century with one pinnacle longer than the other. It looked like a donkey with one ear longer than the other. The old architects used to go in for uniformity; and the hon. Member for Kilmarnock, he was sure, would support him in that assertion. Another example of Mr. Pearson's work was to be seen in the piece of patchwork in Little Dean's Yard. He had absolutely spoiled the building. Let hon. Gentlemen look at the facade it was proposed to erect under this Vote. On the one side they would have an overpowering building, on the East there was the structure which was now to be seen, and on the West there would be a small building which would have no correspondence whatever with the rest. Then they came to Westminster Hall. Had anyone who was a believer in the Old Masters, and who knew anything about their staircases, ever heard of staircases being erected in such a place as Westminster Hall? They 861 would spoil the grand appearance of the I area of the Hall. They would be eight or 10 feet in height, and would extend into the Hall some 1.5 feet. No one who understood anything of the principles of the Old Masters would make such a suggestion as that. On the question of utility he (Mr. Cavendish Ben-tinck) did not propose to enter, as it was a matter which had been fully dealt with by hon. Gentlemen who had preceded him; and he confessed he had not sufficiently studied the plans to be able to form a proper judgment on the point. He would only conclude his observations by entering upon an argument which had been raised by the late First Commissioner of Works (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) and the Secretary to the Treasury (Sir Henry Holland), who had said—"Oh! it amounts to this—we are obliged to adopt this plan because we have no other." That argument was no argument at all. They did not know what plans would have been produced had they given a general authority to architects to prepare thorn by way of competition. He could not for the life of him understand how the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Shaw Lefevre"), when he had raised an open competition for the new Government Offices, which it was said were about to be constructed—although he (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) doubted whether they would ever be built at all—and had got a largo number of designs sent in, could say that the designs of Mr. Pearson were all that could be obtained for this restoration. In the case of the new Government Offices there was only an idea that the work would be carried out, and no certainty, when the designs were obtained. If the right hon. Gentleman could have given the Committee three or four or a dozen schemes, he then could have met the argument, or rather the objection, of hon. Gentlemen by saying—"We have no satisfactory alternative scheme." But when the right hon. Gentleman neglected this ordinary precaution, he (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) did not think that the right hon. Gentleman, or those who were supporting him—however unwillingly—should object to the Motion of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry). It was for those reasons that he would support the rejection of the Vote; and he hoped hon. Members would oppose the Esti- 862 mate with such force as to show the independent voice of the Committee in the matter.
§ SIR JOHN LUBBOCK
said, that he rose with great diffidence; but as ho had had the honour of serving on the Committee he would like to say a few words on the subject. It was, perhaps, to be regretted that they should have pulled down the old Courts without knowing what they were going to put up in their place. What, however, now was the position in which they found themselves? Of course, they could not, without considerable danger, leave the building in its present condition. One hon. Gentleman who had taken part in the debate had made use of an expression which he very much agreed with—namely, that it was no use discussing matters of taste, and that he would not, therefore, do so. But the hon. Member had not quite followed out his own rule. Without going so far as to say that Mr. Pearson was the highest authority, no one would question that he was a very high authority, and that they would do well to give very careful consideration to everything he proposed to them. It was quite true that the walls had stood for many centuries, and had not suffered; but it must be remembered that they had stood under totally different conditions to those which existed now. They had stood without injury because they had been covered; but if they were left uncovered they would certainly suffer, and that before long. The outer wall was, of course, of very great interest, presenting, as it did, the ancient Norman mason's marks, and it required protection from the weather, without which it would soon perish. They would be incurring great responsibility if they were not to take steps as quickly as possible to prevent injury being done to the wall. Then, again, the flying buttresses, beautiful as they were, were not strong enough by themselves. It was never intended that they should remain as they were, without support. It was necessary that they should be strengthened; and the Committee would incur grave and serious risk if they allowed the wall to remain as it was without an attempt to strengthen it. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Dick-Peddie), in his interesting speech, had spoken a good deal about "restoration:" and he (Sir John Lubbock) 863 would not follow him in that. He would not discuss with the hon. Member whether this was a restoration in the sense in which he used the words. The hon. Member said that there were once some very high chimneys, which were not to be replaced. But they were no part of the original plan, and he was sure the hon. Member himself would not propose to re-erect high chimneys there. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock had spoken of rooms at £1,500 a-piece, and had arrived at that by taking the cost and dividing it by the number of rooms. But he (Sir John Lubbock) demurred to that, because, even if they did not build a single room, some expense must be incurred to protect the wall and strengthen the building. Expenditure would have to take place to put the building in a safe position. The Committee would observe that the Gentlemen who had opposed the Vote were not by any means agreed as to what should be done. Some recommended one course and some a totally different one; but as opponents to the suggestion of Mr. Pearson and Her Majesty's Government they had no other definite plan to lay before the Committee. The evidence of archaeologists who had come before the Committee had been quoted, and the hon. Member for Kilmarnock had truly said that they had objected that any attempt to retain the character of the building might lead to confusion and to mistakes hereafter as to which was the new and which was the old portion; but the Committee had adopted a suggestion he made in order to meet any such objection—namely, that remark by making a suggestion that the stones used, or a sufficient number of them, should bear some distinguishing mark, such as a date, so that it might always be possible to distinguish the new from the ancient work. If that had been done in the case of earlier restorations, they would now be in possession of a great deal of information which would be most valuable, but which it was now impossible to obtain. He hoped the First Commissioner of Works would act on that recommendation. It must be remembered that something must be done, and the Gentlemen who opposed the present plan were by no means agreed on an alternative. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock spoke of the much-despised archæolo- 864 gists. Certainly, he (Sir John Lubbock) would not be disposed to despise archaeologists; but archaeologists could not be expected all to agree. He did not deny the difficulty of the subject, or that there might fairly be differences of opinion; and he thought they were indebted to the hon. Members for Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry) and Kilmarnock (Mr. Dick-Peddie), who had given so much attention to the subject, for the able manner in which they had placed their views before the Committee; but he hoped the Committee would support the Government and its own Committee, who had recommended that Vote after a prolonged and careful inquiry.
§ MR. RYLANDS
said, that perhaps he might be allowed to say one word on this matter, having been a Member of the Committee to whom had been referred the consideration of what was called the restoration of Westminster Hall. Very admirable speeches had been delivered by Members of the Committee—speeches which had explained, to a large extent, the conclusions to which the Committee had arrived. He was bound to say, in justification of the right hon. Gentleman the Chairman of the Committee (Mr. Shaw Lefevre). that the Committee had been constituted with the greatest desire to secure on it, as far as possible, a fair representation of different sections and opinions in the House, and that the Members generally had given their very careful attention to the subject. It might have been well if the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry) could have been placed on the Committee as representing the Irish Members, for he would have brought the force of his great ability and judgment to bear upon the question; but, as the hon. Gentleman himself perfectly well knew, in the unfortunate position in which they stood with regard to Irish Members in the House of Commons—or a large majority of them—there was some difficulty in regarding him as the Representative of that portion of the House. No doubt, the Irish Members had insisted upon the Irish Member who was appointed on the Committee being so placed on it; but the services of that Gentleman were of little use, as it was said he had never attended. He (Mr. Rylands) was bound to say, however, that, on the part of the other Members of the Committee, there was 865 very close and constant attention paid to the question under consideration. The speech of the hon. Member for Galway, to which he (Mr. Rylands) had listened with great interest, and which the Committee would agree displayed groat ability, was, after all, only the case of a strong partizan against the conclusions of the Committee. The hon. Member had spoken of lofts and cellars, and had pointed out all sorts of enormities connected with the proposal of the Committee; and if hon. Gentlemen had not taken the trouble to read the very complete Report the Committee had presented, they might easily be mistaken as to the nature of these proposals. It was to be hoped that hon. Members had made themselves familiar with that Report. Now, in the course of the day's discussion he had observed that not only the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mitchell Henry), but all those hon. Gentlemen who had opposed the Vote, had cried out for delay. Let the Committee understand what was behind these Gentlemen. They did not come and say exactly what they wanted. They said—"Let us delay till the new Parliament; let us delay in order to enable the First Commissioner of Works to bring his carefully-trained intellect to bear upon the question; let us put it off, in fact, to some future time." Why? Because those Gentlemen, for the most part, had a scheme of their own to which they believed this scheme of the Committee would be fatal, and because they thought that by putting off the present proposal it would be a point gained, and that their scheme might have a chance in the future. ["No, no!"] Yes; and he would say, further, that those Gentlemen who had considered the matter, and were pressing for delay, were doing so under the influence of a strong feeling they had in favour of carrying out to a greater or less degree Sir Charles Barry's plan.
§ MR. RYLANDS
said, he knew a number of hon. Gentlemen who had had that in their minds in striving for delay. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Colchester (Mr. Causton) had strong sympathy with Sir Charles Barry's design.
§ MR. RYLANDS
said, he did not mean to say that those hon. Gentlemen had advocated Sir Charles Barry's plan; but they had it in their minds. There was the hon. Gentleman the Member for Galway—let him prepare a plan and lay it on the Table of the House. Let him bring forward the sort of plan he would like to see adopted. The hon. Gentleman would raise the magnificent roof of Westminster Hall to carry out Sir Charles Barry's plan. He would run any risk to do that; at any rate, the hon. Member was in favour of a large portion of Sir Charles Barry's plan. [Mr. MITCHELL HENRY: No, no!] The Select Committee, in their Report, recommended only a small expenditure. It did not come forward with a large scheme like Sir Charles Barry's. The latter the Committee thought out of the question. They would be no party to recommending it, and they contended that the House of Commons would do well to adopt the moderate scheme they had proposed in order to put a stop to the other wild plan, which would cost such an enormous sum in the future. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Beresford Hope) had pointed out a fact that he thought hon. Gentlemen should bear strictly in mind. From the total sum talked of in the first instance—namely, £35,000, they must eliminate certain items which need not be expended, or which were absolutely necessary to be spent, restoration or no restoration. It was clear, with regard to the present condition of Westminster Hall, it would never do for them to leave it in the state in which it was now. It was a positive disgrace to the country that they should have this magnificent Westminster Hall allowed to remain in its present dilapidated and disgraceful state on its West side. It presented a most disagreeable face to strangers, and must be a great eyesore to them, to say nothing of the people who lived in the Metropolis. To think of leaving the West Front of the Hall in its present partially restored or dilapidated state would be a disgrace to the country; and since they must rebuild and repair the place, they should decide upon commencing it at once, and adopt the economical Estimate which was here proposed. They ought not to leave St. Stephen's Porch in its present condition. 867 It was in a serious state of disrepair and dilapidation since the Law Courts had been pulled down. The towers, as they had been recommended by Mr. Pearson, had been given up. There had been no disposition on the part of the Committee to carry out the towers in the way which had been suggested. As for the other part of the work, and the expenditure it would entail, the Committee recommended it as a wise and economical undertaking, and one which would be a credit to Westminster Hall itself. He did not think there was a single hon. Gentleman who pleaded for delay, and who had taken a decided opinion on the subject, who would not propose a plan to meet the difficulty which would cost enormously more than the £25,300 that the Committee proposed to spend. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Dick-Peddie), who had taken a very able part in this discussion, no doubt would be content with a very simple arrangement—with the simple spending of a few thousand pounds on the repair of the buttresses and the covering of the face of the wall. He supposed the hon. Gentleman had entirely given up now that which he had been rather inclined to favour—namely, the idea of having a lath and plaster building, which, no doubt, the right hon. and learned Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) would unhesitatingly condemn. What he (Mr. Rylands) understood hon. Gentlemen who objected to this Vote to say was this—"Do not do anything, or do as little as possible. Let it remain until the new Parliament meets, and then we shall have a chance of going in for a more ambitious scheme." He did not think that would be a wise or judicious course to take. This subject had been carefully inquired into, the necessity for doing something was urgent, and he did not think they should throw over the carrying out of essential works to the new Parliament, at any rate until they had endeavoured to carry them out themselves. He should most certainly support the proposals of the Government.
§ MR. COURTNEY
said, that as the discussion had lasted for some hours he was very reluctant to prolong it much longer; indeed, he should trouble the Committee with very few remarks. He 868 had taken a great deal of interest in this project ever since it was conceived by his right hon. Friend the Member for Reading (Mr. Shaw Lefevre). Having taken that interest, he had more or less studied the proceedings of the Select Committee, the recommendations made, and the Report finally arrived at; and he desired to impress on the Committee the desirability of not coming to a vote which would approve of the scheme suggested by Mr. Pearson. His right hon. Friend took away the old Law Courts. He (Mr. Courtney) would not go into the question whether that was a good step; but it was obvious that when the old Law Courts were taken down and the condition of the West Front of Westminster Hall revealed to the public it was necessary the state of things should be considered. He thought the right hon. Gentleman was to be praised for the great care he took in the selection of authorities to whom he referred, in the fullest manner, the question of what should be done with the West Front of the Hall. The right hon. Gentleman had no conception of his own as to the result; it was admitted he had no utilitarian view in his mind. The only question submitted to Mr. Pearson was—What should be done? and in answer to that question Mr. Pearson produced plans, which were first laid before the right hon. Gentleman, and which had since been considerably modified. When he (Mr. Courtney) saw them he was struck with a feeling of something like dismay, and he retained that feeling still, because this was the state of the case. The removal of the Law Courts revealed what was really a most striking and noble wall with flying buttresses, which should command the admiration of any person, whether he presumed to be a man of taste or not. He could not imagine anything in architecture more noble than the West Front with its flying buttresses; and he confessed he should have expected Mr. Pearson to arrive at some conclusion of this kind—"Whatever we do we must not obscure the front so presented to the public gaze; we must do what we can to strengthen what is there shown, so as to prevent any dilapidation of the West Front or buttresses; but the front and buttresses must be preserved in their original intention and completeness." But instead of that the scheme of the 869 Academician was shortly this, to hide the buttresses by building rooms which were not wanted, in the reproduction of something which never existed, to be devoted to purposes which nobody could define, and at the same time to interfere not only with the outward form of Westminster Hall, but with the inside itself. He hoped his right hon. and learned Friend the First Commissioner of Works (Mr. Plunket) would hesitate before he gave his official sanction or support to the resolution to adopt this scheme, a scheme which need not be adopted at the moment, but which might very well be deferred for maturer consideration. He had as strong an opinion as his hon. Friend the Member for the University of London (Sir John Lubbock) that they should run no risk of any injury happening to the West Front; but that could be easily and effectually guarded against. He understood the hon. Gentleman the Member for Gal way (Mr. Mitchell Henry) to propose a reduction of the Vote proportionate to this purpose, leaving enough, or what was conceived to be enough, to be expended in preventing any further injury being suffered by the wall or buttresses. If the proposed reduction was too considerable, if the margin left was not sufficient to preserve the wall and buttresses from further damage, he had no doubt the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mitchell Henry) would modify the amount of reduction. What the hon. Member desired was that only so much should be voted now as would prevent the wall and buttresses from receiving further damage, and that the settlement of the question be left for persons who could give to it the most mature consideration. It was asked—what was the alternative scheme? He confessed that the primary business was, at all events, extremely simple. They had to repair and strengthen the buttresses where they were faulty. The stones which were worn and could not be trusted to enable the buttresses to fulfil their original purpose of supporting the wall must be replaced. Evidence was given to the Select Committee that the Northern wall, which was so highly and deservedly valued, could be easily preserved from further damage for at least two or three years by the simple process of washing it with a chemical mixture. But there was a further plan submitted to the Se- 870 lect Committee by two or three Gentlemen, and more or less supported, which Parliament might possibly have to fall back upon, and that was to build a wall which should be within the buttresses—a wall with a lean to. The buttresses would then be left in that noble and simple sweep which was now exhibited. A part of the suggestion was that there should be a sort of arcade along which people could walk and admire the nobleness of the buttresses. He wished to speak with all respect of Mr. Pearson and his proposition; but anybody who could see what the idea of the wall and buttresses was, must have felt something like a sudden shock at the notion of closing them up with the building Mr. Pearson proposed to put up. The hon. Baronet the Secretary to the Treasury (Sir Henry Holland) did not approach the matter in an official spirit, but as a private Member; in his official capacity he must have been startled at the proposal to spend the sum of money suggested upon rooms which would be absolutely useless, and for which no possible employment could be found. The upper rooms would be dark, and they would have introduced in them the buttresses, over which they would in a certain measure be built. The buttresses would be like the ribs inside a steamer's cabin, making the room a marvel of mystery and curiosity. The under rooms would be nothing but cellars, to which people would have to descend from the level of Westminster Hall by means of a flight of steps. The inner portion of Westminster Hall would be more or less disfigured by the steps, and there would be outside a building which could not answer any purpose, but which would have the possible effect of darkening the interior of the Hall. Then there was the right angular building, which was to occupy the site of a building which stood there a long time. Avowedly it was not an attempt at reproduction; but it was something entirely different to the building which originally stood there. The upper room in this building was to be ventilated in the manner described by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Dick-Peddie). ["There is no ventilation at all."] Well, the question of ventilation was raised, and it was suggested that the room might be ventilated by means of a fan working every five minutes. The 871 other room which it was suggested should be used as a Conference Room or Committee Room was situated over the space to be occupied by the horses of Members. It was said that any Committee would have ceased to sit by the time Members came down to the House and horses were standing in the shed. That might be true. But Conference Rooms were often used from 5 to 7 o'clock, which was just the time that horses would be there. Therefore, in the month of June or July Members would have the option of sitting in the room with the windows open, underneath which were the horses with all the attendant circumstances, or of shutting the windows up and being broiled. Besides, the building at the North-West corner would altogether prevent the West Front of the Hall being seen by anyone coming down Parliament Street. Now, if the design were something very good in itself, he could understand a good deal being said in favour of it; but as soon as they had discovered the possession they had, it was proposed to hide it or cover it up. They were about to hide one of the finest things in all Europe, when they might preserve it for all time. They were going to hide what was a very beautiful possession in order to build rooms which were not wanted, which could not be appropriated to any use whatever. There was no value at all in the design—it was a poor thing. He believed that if the right hon. and learned Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works (Mr. Plunket) would only take this matter into serious consideration, he would determine that he would not be committed to the scheme now. Let them take money enough to keep things as they were, and leave the consideration of the scheme to the new Parliament.
§ MR. WALTER
said, he had not the advantage of being present during the earlier part of the discussion, having been engaged on a Committee upstairs; but the speech he had just listened to from his hon. Friend (Mr. Courtney) made him regret very much that they had not the assistance of the hon. Gentleman on the Select Committee which sat last year and the previous year to consider this question. There was always much to be said in favour of delaying any question, and he was anxious to do full justice to all his hon. Friend 872 had said on that subject. But having endeavoured to acquaint himself with the merits of Mr. Pearson's plan, and having also fully considered all the alternatives which were presented to the Committee in lieu of it, he was bound to say that, on the whole, Mr. Pearson's plan was by far the best submitted to the Committee, and that it did really and adequately meet the difficulties of the position. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney) had discovered what their forefathers never appeared to have discovered, or, at any rate, to have shut their eyes to—namely, that the row of flying buttresses which had been revealed to the public by the demolition of the Law Courts was one of the wonders of the world. No doubt, the exhibition of a row of flying buttresses was a very uncommon thing; he knew of only one or two places in England where there was anything of the kind. He happened to be at Tewkesbury the other day, and he saw at the end of the Abbey there one flying buttress bearing a close resemblance to the row at Westminster. How the row came to be there, and why they were built in that particular way, the Committee never could distinctly gather from any architect; indeed, there was great conflict of opinion on the subject. Mr. Pearson was strongly of opinion that they were built solely for structural reasons, and not from any supposed value which flying buttresses possessed. However that might be, as a matter of fact the most beautiful part of the buttresses—namely, the upper part, would not be concealed from the public by the adoption of Mr. Pearson's plan. Great pains were taken to prevent that being done, and the public would have ample opportunity of seeing what was really the most beautiful in the flying buttresses, even if Mr. Pearson's plans were carried out. It was altogether out of the question to let the buttresses remain in their present condition. The strongest evidence was presented to the Committee that it was essential for the security of the structure that the flying buttresses should be connected, up to a certain level, at all events, by a wall. The beauty of the buttresses, as it was now presented, would be altogether destroyed by any such structure. But his hon. Friend (Mr. Courtney) 873 talked as if an arcade might be made there, having an entrance from Westminster Hall, so that people might walk along and enjoy the sight of the buttresses. But the level of Westminster Hall was five or six feet above the ground line of the buttresses, and that was one of the points the Select Committee had to consider. The base of the flying buttresses was several feet below the surface of the street; and if the Committee would adjourn to the building itself, and walk along the excavation which had been made by the demolition of the old Law Courts, they would see how impossible it was to connect the base of the buttresses with the floor of Westminster Hall. It was too late to argue the thing at length—in fact, it was altogether impossible to discuss the question fairly except in the presence of the object itself. He agreed with the hon. Gentleman the Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands) that the Select Committee had, at all events, exercised a wise discretion in not attempting to deal with the question of the towers. That would very properly be relegated to another Committee; but with regard to the block of buildings at the West end of Westminster Hall, about which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney) was so severe, it was absolutely necessary to have a structure of some kind. The only alternative of any importance which was submitted to the Select Committee was that which was presented to them by the advocates of the completion of Sir Charles Barry's scheme. The Select Committee spent a great deal of time in discussing the plans; and the conclusion they arrived at was that, even if no other plan was to be adopted, it was not worth while to ask the House to spend £500,000 in carrying the plan into effect. His own belief was that the best thing to do was to adopt Mr. Pearson's plan, which was not costly or elaborate; and if a future generation could discover a better way of dealing with the building, it would not be a large sum of money which had been thrown away.
§ MR. SAMUEL SMITH
said, he thought there was a general feeling in the Committee that it would be better to defer the decision on this question; there seemed to be nothing approaching unanimity of feeling. Personally, he considered that the plans of Mr. Pear- 874 son amounted to nothing more than a piece of patchwork. He might, perhaps, be in a small minority in the House; but he was one of those who held that they ought to revive the original plans of Sir Charles Barry. He thought that nothing less than them would satisfy the case, or do justice to this grand building. The designs of Sir Charles Barry had unity; they were those of one man; and it was always better to carry out the designs of an original architect than to adopt patchwork of this kind. It was not possible to bring about harmony or unity of design between an ancient building like Westminster Hall and a modern building like Westminster Palace. It was true that experts might give pedantic opinions on the subject of architecture; but he thought if this question were left to be decided by the country they would hold that the original designs of Sir Charles Barry would produce a finer edifice than it was now proposed to construct. What the Committee should aim at was that the West side of Westminster Palace should present a similar appearance to the East side. As they approached this building from Westminster Bridge, they wore confronted by the finest architectural outlines to be seen in the world; but as they approached it from the other side, the eye was painfully confused by the total want of harmony between the two classes of architecture. He did not believe that justice would be done to the building until they revived, in some shape or other, those admirable plans which were drawn by that great man who was the designer of the building. He was aware that the cost was the great obstacle; but the country had spent millions of money on the building, and when they had done nine-tenths of the work he did not see why they should hesitate to do the remaining tenth. In his opinion, it was a penny-wise-and-pound-foolish policy. The cost would be spread over a number of years; it would scarcely be felt; but the result would be the finest public building in the country, perhaps in the whole world. He hoped the Committee would not be in a hurry to commit itself to any scheme which subsequent generations might very likely upset.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, he did not intend to go into the structural 875 details of the subject, though, he was sorry to differ from some of his hon. Friends in regard to those details. He could not agree with the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken (Mr. S. Smith), neither could he agree with the hon. Gentleman the Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney), because he considered that the West Front of Westminster Hall, in its present shape, was hideous. His simple and sole reason for desiring the postponement of this Vote was that he wished to preserve the piece of ground for the future use of Parliament. He was one of those who held strongly the view that, at a not very distant date, it would be found necessary to sub-divide the Business of Parliament by means of Grand Committees. Rooms would be required for those Committees, and it seemed to him they had in the ground on the West of Westminster Hall the very piece of ground on which to provide the accommodation. He was, therefore, very unwilling to see the ground taken up by an imperfect and insufficient and not very useful—in fact, a very useless—construction, such as they were told the building suggested by Mr. Pearson would be. He was sorry the debate had been prolonged to such length by what, after all, had merely been a battle of architects. He advocated postponement because he wished to see this piece of ground turned to the utmost advantage another day. He thought it was to be regretted that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works (Mr. Plunket) had put the question as if it were a matter of confidence in Mr. Pearson. He (Sir George Campbell) never heard of Mr. Pearson until he was told that gentleman had been consulted in reference to this matter by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Reading (Mr. Shaw Lefevre). This was a case which ought to be decided on public grounds alone. Why not pay Mr. Pearson for the work he had done, and let the settlement of the matter stand over? His right hon. Friend the late Postmaster General (Mr. Shaw Lefevre)had done an injustice to himself. He agreed with the hon. Gentleman who rendered a tribute to the conspicuous business ability of the right hon. Gentleman; but it very often happened in the House of Commons that the best and most practical men had some fad. His 876 right hon. Friend had immense practical ability; but, unfortunately, his one purpose in this matter appeared to be to carry out the designs of Mr. Pearson. He (Sir George Campbell) was not an advocate of the plan of Sir Charles Barry; he wanted to see something humbler and simpler. He trusted the settlement of the question would be postponed until such time as they could ascertain the future needs of Parliament.
§ THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS (Mr. PLUNKET)
said, he had listened with the greatest attention to the debate that had gone on for the last five hours, and he did not regret that there should have been a very full expression of the opinions which were entertained by hon. Members on the subject. He had no intention of speaking at any length, not only because the Committee had already heard his views on the question, but also because it was impossible for him to add anything to what had been said by his hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury (Sir Henry Holland), by the hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of London (Sir John Lubbock), and others, who were all Members of the Select Committee, by whom very great care was bestowed on the consideration of this question. He would like, however, to explain to the Committee the exact position in which he found himself. He had been invited in the most flattering manner to consent to the postponement of this Vote until next year. That, certainly, was not only a very flattering but a very tempting invitation; and he plainly foresaw that if he did not accept it he should, for some time to come, receive a considerable amount of bombardment from different Members of the House, and persons out of the House, upon the matter. Of course, he did not wish to press the Vote against the will of the Committee; but he felt it incumbent upon him to submit to the Committee that this was a Vote which ought now to be adopted. It was admitted on all hands that it was impossible to leave the outside of Westminster Hall as it was at present; and the question what was best to be done in order to remedy the horrible disfigurement that had been produced by the removal of the old Law Courts was referred, last year, to a Committee—as he had already said, a 877 very strong and a very representative Committee. That Committee took the matter into consideration as carefully as they could; and although all the varied opinions expressed that day were very fully discussed by the Select Committee what was the result of the investigation? Against every argument put forward that day, and which was put forward before the Select Committee, the Select Committee arrived at a decision in favour of the plan of Mr. Pearson by a majority of eight to two. He put it to the Committee, as men of common sense, were they ever likely to achieve a decision so nearly unanimous as that, if they were to refer the matter to another Select Committee? He had no personal prejudice in favour of either of the schools which had been so strongly represented that day. Neither did he wish to side with those who would complete the great work of Sir Charles Barry against those who were entirely against any such attempt: but this he did feel strongly—that the hope of, within any reasonable time, getting Parliament to consent to the expenditure of £500,000 to carry out the design of Sir Charles Barry was perfectly visionary. He really believed that the Hall, if left in its present condition, would crumble to pieces before that object was attained. Whatever else the Select Committee might have differed about, they were all agreed that Mr. Pearson was a most competent authority, and that his plans were supported by some of the most eminent architects of the day. The Select Committee were unanimous as to Mr. Pearson's professional qualification, and they approved of his scheme by a majority of eight to two. Now, there was a great deal of misconception as to the necessity of increased accommodation. It was said that the lower storey of the proposed addition to Westminster Hall would consist of nothing more or less than cellars. It would do nothing of the kind. The rooms on the Western side would be level with the ground, and would, he believed, be quite as comfortable as many of the rooms now set apart for the different Members of the Government, and which, whether cellars or not, were competed for by them with the greatest possible zeal. Therefore, whoever the persons might be who would be asked to 878 occupy the lower range of rooms they would be in no worse position as regarded accommodation than were some of the Members of Her Majesty's Government. In conclusion, he felt bound to say that as the proposal which he now submitted to the Committee had been assailed by a good many Members whoso sincerity he could not for a moment question, who, no doubt, felt very strongly on the subject, but who differed amongst themselves—differed probably more amongst themselves than they did from the views of Mr. Pearson—it was not reasonable that the Committee should be asked to postpone this matter to some future time. However much he might consult his own convenience by agreeing to the suggestion of hon. Members, he did not think it would be fair to the Committee, or to the country, to postpone for some uncertain time a matter which had received so large an amount of support.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
said, he had made his proposal for the express purpose of preserving the West Front of Westminster Hall as it at present existed. Last year the Government obtained a Vote of £3,000 to be applied to the preservation of the flying buttresses and wall, not 1d. of which they expended. What he proposed now was that the Government should have a grant of £2,000, which was all that could be expended upon the preservation of the flying buttresses between this and the time when Parliament met again. The opinion of Mr. Butterfield, one of the greatest Gothic architects in the world, was that if they committed the act of barbarism, which the hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney) had described, of covering up the flying buttresses, which were unique of their kind, and more beautiful than anything which existed in this country, they would do that for which they would for ever be blamed. Do not let anyone be led away by the idea that the plan of Mr. Pearson was one acceptable to every architect equally eminent. Mr. Butterfield was an architect of the highest eminence, and his opinion coincided with the architectural journals and various eminent men that the buttresses should be preserved in their integrity. That opinion he (Mr. Mitchell Henry) commended to the consideration of the Committee.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 42; Noes 196: Majority 154.—(Div. List, No. 231.)
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.