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The Wellington Monument

Volume 203: debated on Tuesday 9 August 1870

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Question

said, he would beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury, If he can undertake that no further steps should be taken in the matter of the Wellington Monument until the matter can be fully discussed in Parliament, and an opportunity be given to the artist to make the explanations which are not included in the Papers laid before Parliament?

said, in reply, that on the 14th of April last Mr. Penrose was informed that an inquiry would be held into the proceedings in reference to the Wellington Monument, and the letter then addressed to him gave him ample notice that he might offer any explanations on the subject. On the 21st of April a letter was addressed to Mr. Stevens, the sculptor, informing him that an inquiry would be made, and that he would have ample opportunity for giving any explanations in his power. No explanation, however, was given by Mr. Penrose or Mr. Stevens that was at all satisfactory to the gentlemen who conducted the inquiry, It was not until the 20th of July last that Mr. Penrose was informed that his services as superintending architect would be dispensed with, and Mr. Stevens was informed that his contract would be annulled in consequence of his default. Both gentlemen had had ample opportunity since then of affording explanations with respect to their conduct, but they had not done so. Mr. Penrose wrote a letter which gave no explanation at all, and Mr. Stevens wrote another which appeared to make his position much worse than before. It had become necessary to hand that letter over to the solicitor of the Department of Works, with instructions to take immediate measures to enforce the rights of the Crown. The solicitor would proceed with the utmost expedition, and if the hon. Member desired to discuss the question next Session nothing could more effectually further his object than to have the matters that were now pending decided in the meantime by a Court of Justice. It could not be said in that case that there could be no discussion, as the question was before a Court. Care would be taken that the gentlemen involved would have an opportunity of giving the explanations which the hon. Member desired. He could assure the hon. Gentleman that the proceedings would be pursued with the utmost energy and despatch.