HL Deb 31 March 1846 vol 85 cc367-71

said, that he had given notice of his intention to bring forward a Motion for an Address to Her Majesty on the subject of the New Houses of Parliament. The Address would be based upon the Report of the Committee, of which document in fact it would be the echo. The only point of exception which could be taken to the Resolution of which he had given notice, was, perhaps, that the Committee had not as yet reported or printed the evidence which had been adduced before them; but to this objection he did not attach much importance, for the circumstances of the case were so notorious, and the facts which had been printed last year must be still so fresh in the remembrance of their Lordships, that he did not think there could be any grounds for their withholding their assent to the proposition he was about to submit on the plea of want of sufficient information. However, if their Lordships should be of a different opinion, and should desire to look narrowly into the evidence before they determined upon taking any decisive step, the discussion on the Address might be taken to-night, though the decision on the Motion might be adjourned until such time as the evidence could be laid before them.


was decidedly of opinion that it would be well to adjourn at least the decision on the Motion until a future day, in order to see what course of proceeding was likely to find favour in another place. As both Houses of Parliament were equally interested in this matter, it would be well if an opportunity for conference were afforded, so that they might agree as to the plan of proceeding for the future. Not only should a plan of proceeding be agreed on by both Houses of Parliament, but the form of that plan should be settled, and the Government should have the satisfaction of knowing that they were acting under the authority of both Houses.


said, that with the permission of their Lordships he would proceed with his Motion for an Address to the Crown; for he did not think that it was essentially necessary that the evidence should be reported and printed before the Resolution could be carried. If the course of proceeding to which he was about to urge their Lordships were one which could at all interfere with the business or the privileges of the other House of Parliament, it would of course be highly desirable that a conference should take place between both Houses before any step was taken; but he begged of their Lordships to remember that the House of Commons was not interested nor concerned in the present Motion. The Report of the Committee and the Address which he proposed to base upon that Report, and which was an echo of that Report, had an exclusive reference to their Lordships' House. It was a matter of fact of which their Lordships could not but be cognizant, that the Board of Works had been incorporated, he believed, by Act of Parliament some years ago with the Woods and Forests; and he was anxious that through the instrumentality of an Address to the Crown, the attention and exertions of this consolidated department of the public service, whose peculiar province it was to supervise such great public works, should be directed to the purpose of seeing that the new House intended for the accommodation of their Lordships should be completed with as little delay as possible. Their Lordships might not perhaps be aware—and yet the fact was so—that for the last nine months the works necessary for the erection of the House of Lords had been completely at a standstill. The Committee had stated in their Report that for the last nine months or more there positively had been no advance made towards the completion of the House designed for their Lordships, notwithstanding that they had repeatedly expressed their impatience to get into it. The fact was, as they (the Committee) had been informed, some difference of opinion had unhappily arisen between the architect and the scientific gentleman to whom the duty of ventilating the new building had been confided, and the consequence of this difference had been a total suspension of the works. The Committee were unable to apply any remedy; they could not settle the difference, nor was it competent for them to issue final orders, for their duty was not to supervise the works, but merely to watch their progress, and to report upon it. In this perplexing state of affairs a necessity had clearly arisen for the intervention of a supreme authority—that of the Queen herself, whose palace the new edifice was. This supreme authority should be appealed to, not for the purpose of deciding whether Mr. Barry or Dr. Reid was right, but in order that both gentlemen might be compelled to comply with the covenant to which they were bound by oath, and take immediate steps towards the completion of the works, so that the House might be ready for their Lordships' reception by the next Session. If the aid of the Woods and Forests department were not now called in by means of an appeal to the supreme authority, there was no knowing when their Lordships would get access to their new House. The noble Marquess, in conclusion, disclaimed all intention of casting the slightest censure on the noble Lords who were connected with the Woods and Forests. He was sure that they had always been anxious to discharge their duties in the most efficient manner; but something must be done, and the Committee being of opinion that nothing could remedy the present state of things but the intervention of a strong supreme power, had authorized him to bring forward this Motion. The noble Marquess then read the Address, and concluded by moving its adoption.


having put the question,


observed that there were several considerations which induced him to oppose the Motion. In the first place, their Lordships were not in possession of the evidence upon which the Report was based, of which this Address was said to be the echo. The Report itself had been only laid upon the Table last night; but one particle of the evidence had not yet been printed. One passage in the Report of the Committee might be construed into an imputation upon a department of the Government of not having done what was in their power; and upon that account it was but fair that the evidence should be seen by their Lordships before they agreed to the proposed Address. Also a Committee of the other House was now sitting upon the same subject, and that House might think proper to embody their views in an Address founded upon the Report of their Committee. Having been favoured with a sight of that Report, he knew that, in one respect, it ran counter to the Report of their Lordships' Committee; and thus, if their Lordships agreed to an Address now, it might happen that contradictory Addresses were presented to the Queen by the two Houses.


said, that the facts were so perfectly notorious as not to require the publication of evidence, Without imputing any blame to the Woods and Forests, he might say that there had appeared on the part of that department, since the appointment of their Lordships' Committee, a leaning rather to support Mr. Barry in his delay than to expedite him.


, although agreeing that the facts of the case were notorious, yet submitted whether it might not be expedient to adjourn the discussion until the evidence should appear; and by that time they would be in possession of the proceedings in the other House of Parliament. He conceived that there should be an opportunity of declaring that the grand object of their Lordships being properly lodged should not give way to any disputes between parties, or to any Utopian schemes of improvement. An Address to the Crown would render it apparent that the Woods and Forests were responsible for the execution of the works.


said, it had been truly stated that it was the palace of the Sovereign that was under discussion, and that the Government was therefore responsible for all that concerned it; but even were it not so, the importance of the matter and the enormous expenses that had been incurred upon the building, must make the Government responsible for all that related to it. It was true that responsibility had been to a certain degree covered or limited by the nomination of Committees of both Houses of Parliament to attend to the proceedings; but now it appeared to be desired by that House, and by the other House too, so far as he could judge from the Reports of their Committee, that the Board of Woods and Forests, as the responsible board for the management of affairs of this kind, should undertake an active supervision over the persons engaged in completing the building. Undoubtedly the Government must be most anxious to carry that wish into execution, by giving positive instructions to the Board in respect to the mode in which they were to carry this supervision into effect, and also to direct such details as might appear to be consistent with the wishes expressed by the two Houses of Parliament. But he begged their Lordships not to involve the Government in difficulty by presenting to the Queen two separate Addresses from the two Houses of Parliament, by agreeing to an Address without knowing what was passing in the Committee of the other House. He concurred in the wish expressed by the noble Marquess that the discussion should be adjourned, in order to see what were the views of the other House; and if the two Houses concurred, that there should be such a supervision of the works as would be effectual.


thought no case had been shown to justify the notion that the House had improperly interfered in this matter. He was ready to agree to the proposal for potponing the discussion until they should see the evidence and the Report of the House of Commons; but he trusted that the two Houses would act concurrently. He was sure any recommendation they might make would meet with proper attention on the part of the Government, and that before long their wishes would be fully satisfied.


said, after what had fallen from the noble Duke, he should move that the debate be adjourned. He would make no attempt to resume it till the evidence was printed, and the holidays had passed over.

Debate adjourned.

House adjourned.