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Parliament—Refreshment Rooms For Members—Question

Volume 202: debated on Monday 4 July 1870

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said, he wished to ask the First Commissioner of Works, Whether he intends to propose a Vote during the present Session for providing now Refreshment Rooms for the Members of this House; whether he intends to adopt the Plan which is appended to the Report of the Select Committee of the House, dated 25th May last, and which has been altered by Captain Galton from the Plan of Mr. Barry, approved last year by the then First Commissioner of Works and by the Select Committee of the House of Lords; whether he has considered the objections raised by the Select Committee of the House of Lords in their Second Report to the altered Plan, and whether the altered Plan has been submitted to and approved by a competent professional architect; and, whether the preparation and execution of the final Plan will be entrusted to Mr. Barry or to some other competent professional architect?

said, in reply, that it was not for him to propose a Vote on the subject; but last year a Committee was appointed to inquire into the expediency of having new refreshment rooms for both Houses. Plans were laid before the Committee involving an expenditure of not less than £24,000, and the Committee did not recommend those plans. This year he moved for a Committee of a similar kind, and that Committee, having considered the plan laid before them, unanimously approved it. That plan was prepared by the officers of the Board of Works in consequence of his directions in reference to what he considered would be convenient to hon. Members. But while the Committee of that House was proceeding, the Lords' Committee presented a Report, proposing to deal with the matter in a peremptory-manner, and hon. Members who had read it would be able to judge how far it was consistent with the just authority of the Crown and with what was due to the House of Commons. After the Report was presented to the House, approving the plan as relates to the convenience of hon. Members, the Lords' Committee presented a further Report, and hon. Members who had read it might judge how far that Report also was consistent with the just authority of the Crown or with what was due to the House of Commons. These Reports were of such a nature that he felt it his duty to bring them under the consideration of the Government in conjunction with the Report of the Committee of that House. They involved very important questions; and, no doubt, the result would be that an arrangement would be made as regarded the wishes of the other House of Parliament which would enable the plan sanctioned by the Committee of this House to be carried into effect. No Estimate could be laid on the Table till the Government had come to a decision on the subject; but he expected that decision to be agreed to in a very few days, when an Estimate would be submitted for the consideration of the House. The plans had been prepared by officers of the Department of Works, who were perfectly competent to deal with the question. They were competent to perform the function of architects, and they would perform it much better than it had hitherto been performed.