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Volume 217: debated on Tuesday 29 July 1873

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asked the First Commissioner of Works, Whether the public have ever had an opportunity of judging of the plans now being carried out in the construction of the Natural History Museum; and, if not, whether he would permit plans or models to be exhibited in any place to which the public have access?

in reply, said, that the plans were annexed to the contract signed by the contractor, and could not, therefore, be submitted for public inspection. The contract and plans were required at the Office of Works, and it was quite impossible to make an exhibition of them.

said, there could be no difficulty about exhibiting copies of plans.

said, that would require copies to be made. The making of copies would take a considerable time, and would involve expense. [Cries of "Photographs."] A plan would not be an expensive matter; but it would take a considerable time to make copies of the whole.

said, he did not ask for all the details. The plans would be quite sufficient to enable the public to judge of the general character and effect of the building proposed to be erected. He should be glad to know if the plans might to this extent be shown to the public?

said, that a mere plan, as distinct from elevations, could be easily prepared in a short time. The drawings and elevations, to be of any use, must be complete, and the preparation of complete copies would take a considerable time. As the contract was signed for the execution of the works, and could not be altered, he did not see that it would be of any particular use to the public to see them.

said, it was with the view of enabling the public to form a judgment upon the elevation that he was anxious they should see it. There was no difficulty in obtaining photographs, which, for this purpose, were equally as good as the originals. He wished to know whether photographs could be submitted for the inspection of the public.

asked, whether the elevations and designs were generally the same that were exhibited for a short time in the Library of the House of Commons at the close of the Session before last; and whether, if they were the same, they had been altered in consequence of the rise in prices, or for any other reason; and, if so, what was the extent of alteration in the general appearance of the building?

said, that some change was made in the plans after they were exhibited in this House. If the noble Lord wished to know the details, he should be happy to state them if the noble Lord would give Notice of a Question.

said, he was sorry to have to press his point; but he should like to have an answer as to whether copies of the general plans and elevations would be submitted for public inspection? If it was inconvenient to the right hon. Gentleman to answer now, he would give Notice of a Question for to-morrow.