§ *EARL STANHOPE
My Lords, I rise to ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in view of the decay or depreciation of the stone on the south side of the new wall of Westminster Hall, they will take early steps to repair or to silicate the same? In approaching your Lordships' House you must have noticed that in Westminster Hall, on the southwest side, the new stone with which it has been faced has turned quite a white colour, which, I think, is due to desquamation. The stone is peeling off, and decay is rapidly going on. We know that the Houses of Parliament are depreciating owing to the effects of the London climate, but it is very discouraging to find that the stone inside is also perishing. I know that my Friend the First Commissioner of Works, has had his attention directed to this matter. Indeed, I believe that former First Commissioners of Works have given attention to the matter, and silicate has been used without effect. I have been informed by a competent architect that the scaling of such stone as this can be prevented, and the stone preserved, by its being treated with a silicate. I should like, if I may be permitted to do so, to suggest to my noble Friend that a Departmental Committee, consisting of two architects, should visit this wall, and see what steps can be taken to prevent further decay. I can assure your Lordships that it is not an alarmist view that I am taking with 1187 regard to the decay of this stone. Anyone who passes by will notice that the stone in some places has perished quite half-an-inch in depth. Some years ago, the frescoes, in the middle lobby of your Lordships' House, on either side, were perishing; they were losing their colour and decaying, and a small Committee met together and were able to give advice, which was the means of preserving those frescoes, and, indeed, almost reviving their brilliancy. Being now preserved by glass no decay is taking place with regard to those frescoes. I do hope that further steps will be taken, although so much has been tried already, to prevent the decay of this stone. With that view I have brought the matter before the House.
§ THE EARL OF PEMBROKE
The wall on the west side of the interior of Westminster Hall has, since it was refaced by the late Mr. Pearson, been the subject of much consideration and concern to the Office of Works, owing to the decay which set in on certain portions almost immediately after its completion. The stone used in the refacing is of two kinds—Ketton and Anstone, and it is almost entirely in the former stone that the decay has taken place. Every effort has been made to discover the cause of the decay, even to a minute analysis of the composition of both the stones and the mortar used in the walls, but without any light being thrown on the subject. An indurating process recommended by Mr. Pearson, which was applied in 1896, has not been successful. The failure is the more remarkable because the same stone used on the exterior shows no signs of decay. The matter is receiving every attention, and steps will be taken to apply any process which may give reasonable promise of success. With reference to what the noble Lord said as to the appointment of a Departmental Committee, I may say that I will represent the matter to my right hon. Friend the First Commissioner of Works, and I have no doubt he will be glad to do all he can in the matter, but it appears to be a chemical, rather than an architectural question.