(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That a sum, not exceeding £28,220, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1884, for the Buildings of the Houses of Parliament."
said, there was one matter in connection with this Vote to which he wished to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works. He wished to point out to that right hon. Gentleman the smallness of the accommodation provided in the House as compared with the requirements of modern times, in so far as the accommodation for the general body of Members was concerned. With regard to Ministers a great improvement had been made. His experience of Parliament extended over a great many years, and he had not been displeased to see that in recent times, and particularly since the present Government came into Office, greater facilities for carrying on their work had been provided for the several Members of the Administration. he believed there was scarcely a Member of the Government who had not a suitable apartment at his disposal. As far as private Members were concerned they were without any accommodation of the kind to which he referred, with the exception of what was called the Conference Room. That, he ventured to say, was one of the most uncomfortable apartments in the whole House. In Bummer it was insufferably hot; in the colder months of the Parliamentary year—that was to say, in the first two months of the normal Session—it was cold and dirty, and, moreover, the chimnies were Bill-constructed that it was only necessary to light a fire in the grate in order to till the room with dense smoke. Only as lately as the day preceding that on which he was speaking that had occurred. He really thought it was time that something should be done in regard to this matter, and suggested that if no other course was open in order to give further accommodation to private Members, the Committee Room now appropriated to public Petitions might be placed at their disposal. The smoking accommodation was also another point of no inconsiderable importance. The right hon. Gentleman promised last year to give greater facilities to Members who wished to smoke, and he had done so to some extent; but the facilities in this direction were not what they ought to be. When the late Mr. Adam was First Commissioner of Works, it was suggested to him—and the suggestion came from a considerable number of Members—that the interior square in St. Stephen's Cloisters should be covered over with glass, so as to afford a sheltered promenade for Members who wished to enjoy a cigar or a pipe. Mr. Adam promised that inquiries should be made, in order to ascertain the cost of making the necessary structural alterations; but, as far as he knew, nothing had been done, or, at any rate, decided upon. He understood that the right hon. Gentleman who succeeded Mr. Adam, and now filled the Office of First Commissioner of Works, had had the subject under his consideration, and had stated either publicly or privately—he did not know which—that the estimated cost of making the alterations was so excessive that he did not think the Treasury would assent to it. As far as he was personally concerned, he did not think the cost would be so large as that it could be reasonably objected to. Leaving this point, and passing to another, he would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he remembered that last year he (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) applauded his resolution to hang three valuable pictures belonging to the nation in the new Smoking Room? Among these was one of the best works that had been produced in this country in modern times—he alluded to the picture illustrating a passage in the life of King Alfred, which was painted by Mr. Watts, R.A. Last year he called attention to the neglected condition of these pictures; and he now regretted to find that nothing had been done towards placing the pictures in a proper condition. They only required washing and varnishing, and all that was neces- sary could be done at a comparatively small cost. If the right hon. Gentleman had no official in his own Department who was equal to the task, there could be no doubt that he would have no difficulty in securing the services of some one of the officials in the National Gallery, who would do all that was necessary. Whether the pictures were or were not fine examples of Art was a matter of taste; but in any case it could not be denied that they had been left in a sadly neglected condition.
said, in the progress of the Questions that afternoon the right hon. Gentleman had been asked what he intended to do with regard to the exterior of Westminster Hall. He had noticed that a portion of the house occupied by the Deputy Sergeant at Arms, which was part of the buildings intended to be taken away, still remained. It was very difficult to form an estimate of what would be the effect of any changes made as long as that portion to which he referred remained standing. He quite admitted that, for many reasons, the Deputy Sergeant at Arms should reside within the precincts of the Palace; but he should imagine that there would be some mode of providing him with rooms without allowing the building to which he referred to stand. That, of course, would involve some expenditure; but he did not think the House would begrudge it, in view of the fact that, as the buildings now stood, it was not possible to form a fair and accurate idea of what would be the effect of any alterations that might be made. There was another point to which he wished to refer, and concerning which some hon. Members might be surprised that he was going to suggest a little extra expenditure. The amount would not be more than about £50; but he thought it would lead to an increase, perhaps to a doubling, of the working power of the Session. When hon. Members got up in their places, and said they were only going to detain the House for a few minutes, he always trembled; because he almost invariably found they wore so carried away by their own eloquence that they did not perceive the lapse of time, and their few minutes sometimes spun themselves out to half-an-hour or an hour. That was because they did not look at the clock, which was behind them, when they were addressing the Chair; and he would, therefore, suggest that the right hon. Gentleman should cause a clock to be placed at the Speaker's end of the House, in order that hon. Members might see how the time was going, in which case he believed the speeches would be reduced in length by an average of one-half. Hon. Members would be ashamed of themselves when they saw how the time was going, and would put a curb on their eloquence. It had, therefore, occurred to him that much good would be done by a small but useful increase in the expenditure of public money.
said, his right hon. and learned Friend who opened the debate had suggested a large and somewhat vague expenditure for the additional comfort of Members. He hoped the Committee would be slow to sanction such expenditure. Now that they were all anxious, as far as possible, to promote economy; now that the Estimates were criticized with great care, and that a considerable amount of criticism had been passed upon the amount of money spent even upon the maintenance of Royal Palaces, it certainly would not become them to incur a serious expenditure for no other purpose than that of securing their own comfort. He was not sure that promoting their comfort would materially increase their efficiency. The more comfortable they made the Smoking and other Rooms for the accommodation of Members the smaller would be the attendance in the House itself of Members who listened to arguments concerning measures under discussion before voting upon them. And so they would help to perpetuate that great scandal which had been so often commented on, of Gentlemen coming in to vote upon a question respecting which they had heard nothing. He hoped the ardour for economy which all Parties professed would prevent the expenditure of money for the making of more comfortable Smoking and other Rooms, in which Members might engage in more pleasant but not equally profitable occupations than that of listening to the debates within the House.
said, he was bound to admit, with regard to the Conference Room, that his attention had been called to it more than once. Everything had been done to cure the defects which were complained of; but there seemed to be some radical defect in the chimnies and flues, which defied all attempts at cure. With regard to what could be done to increase the accommodation for Members in other parts of the building, he had, since he had had the honour of filling the position of First Commissioner of Works, been able to do something. He had provided an additional Smoking Room, and he had contemplated providing another Tea Room; but further demands of a more pressing character came upon him, and the room which he intended to utilize for thi8 purpose had to be taken for another. He had been enabled to do much of what he had accomplished by reason of the liberalty of the House of Lords; and while the necessary works were being carried forward he had considered the possibility of covering over the interior square in St. Stephen's Cloisters; but he found that to do that would cost not less than £5,000, and, at the same time, the surveyor of the House did not at all recommend the operation as a mere matter of construction. There were very weighty reasons against it in that point of view, and also on account of the difficulty of ventilating that part of the House. Unfortunately, therefore, he could not hold out any prospect of the Treasury entertaining a proposal to cover the interior yard at the cost which he had mentioned, and in face of the structural difficulties to which he had alluded. Whether it would be possible hereafter to increase the accommodation for Members he could not at present say; but no doubt the shape which such increased accommodation would take would be a limiting of the number of private residences under the roof of the Palace. In that case, he thought the limitation would apply to the residences now occupied by officials employed in the other House of Parliament, whose duties were not nearly so laborious or onerous as those of officials employed in the House of Commons. Whether they would have the sanction of the House of Lords in so obtaining extra accommodation he did not know; but, at all events, that seemed to him to be the direction in which they must look for the purpose. The hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) had alluded to a part of the block of buildings which re- mained standing after the removal of the old Law Courts. That was at present a source of difficulty to his Department. The house of the Deputy Serjeant at Arms extended out into that block of buildings to the extent of two or three of his rooms, without which his residence would be comparatively useless. It would be, no doubt, necessary to pull the block down; but he was unwilling to disturb the Deputy Serjeant, at all events until after the end of the present Session, and he hoped before then to be able to make some accommodation of the matter. If the Deputy Serjeant was to remain resident under the roof of the Palace, and it should be necessary to remodel his house for the purpose of obtaining further accommodation, this would be a rather costly operation. It would involve an expenditure of some £2,000 or £3,000, and it would, moreover, be an exceedingly difficult operation to remodel the interior of the house. Whether that might be the better mode of dealing with the question, or whether it might not be found advisable to give to the Deputy Serjeant an allowance wherewith to provide himself with a residence elsewhere, was a question which had not yet been determined; but before the end of the Session he would fully consider it. In the meantime, he did not think the House would wish that its official should be deprived of his residence. His hon. Friend had also made a suggestion that an additional clock should be placed in the House, in order that Members might, without turning their backs upon Mr. Speaker, note the passing of time, and the length at which they had been occupying the time of the House. His hon. Friend must be aware of the fact that not infrequently Members looked at the clock with a view not of limiting but of continuing their speeches; and he did not think that, on the whole, anything would be gained by adding a second clock to the furniture of the House. As far as the pictures in the Smoking Room were concerned, he had done last year all that he then thought necessary.
wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works a question in regard to Westminster Hall. He understood that, the whole question of the western front had been committed to an eminent architect; and what he wanted to know was, whether the northern front had also been placed under the supervision of the same gentleman? A considerable expense seemed lately to Lave been incurred in repairing the architectural or ornamental work outside, mainly, he supposed, because the stone was in a rotten state; but that had no reference to the two Towers, which had been allowed to remain standing, and which were most inconsistent, in an architectural point of view, with the rest of the building.
said, he had not entered upon the question raised by the right hon. Gentleman with the architect; but he thought it probable that lie should take that gentleman's advice upon the question and submit it again to the House. At present, he only asked for money for the restoration of the west front of the Hall. The total cost of this was estimated at about £6,000; and in the present year he asked for a third of that sum, as the works at present undertaken were of a tentative character.
said, he presumed the greatest care would be taken, in removing the foundations, to see what buildings had existed on the site in former times. This was the more important, because no one had the smallest idea as to the character of the ancient foundations.
said, as far as he knew of the buildings comprising the Palace of Westminster, the two Towers to which his right hon. Friend (Sir E. Assheton Cross) had referred were built in the year 1822 from the designs of an architect of evanescent fame. He would suggest that it would be well to suspend the work of reparation at the north end, and leave the whole business in the hands of the distinguished architect who now had charge of the restoration of the western front.
suggested the advisability of giving a speaking communication by telephone or speaking-tube from the Lobby of the House to the Attendants' Room adjoining the Ladies' Gallery.
, while agreeing that it was necessary to clear away the whole block of buildings, of which the old Law Courts formed by far the largest part, hoped that satisfactory arrangements would be made for the accommodation of the Deputy Sergeant at Arms. He desired to direct the attention of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) to the charge for the maintenance of buildings. He found that, including the £2,500 for external repairs to stone work, they were paying no less than upwards of £10,000 a-year. It struck him that was a very large sum for the purpose. Allowing for the £2,500, which he presumed was expended in consequence of the stone work giving way, then he should have thought there was sufficient left out of which the ingenuity and ability of his right hon. Friend would have enabled him to provide the necessary convenience for the Deputy Sergeant at Arms. Under the Sub-head C he intended to move a reduction, and he should do so in conformity with a principle which had been already recognized in Committee. The Sub-head C provided for the maintenance of the approaches to the House, and of the Gardens in the immediate neighbourhood of the House. The maintenance and repair of Abingdon Street, St. Margaret Street, Old and New Palace Yards, Parliament Square Gardens, St. Margaret Square Gardens, and Victoria Tower Gardens, was put down at £870; and he wished to point out to the Committee that the greatest part of this expenditure was of a character which ought to be borne by the parochial authorities. It so happened that a portion of the space which was covered by the Vote—the Victoria Tower Gardens—was formerly covered by a low description of buildings, and was purchased by the Government some years ago, in order that there might be for the Houses of Parliament greater protection from fire. Viscount Sherbrooke, who was then Chancellor of the Exchequer, proposed to erect on this plot of ground a very extensive series of public buildings; and he (Mr. Rylands) raised an objection to the Vote, on the ground that the Government had only put down a sum on account—he believed £10,000, or £20,000—and did not state what was the entire sum they contemplated expending upon the buildings. The result was the Government had to give way, the idea of erecting the buildings was abandoned, and a very large and useless expenditure was prevented. When the right hon. Gentlemen opposite came into power it occurred to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Westminster (Mr. W. H. Smith) that he could secure a great boon for the inhabitants of Westminister. The right hon. Gentleman proposed that the plot of land in question should be left as an open free space for the benefit and advantage of the people of Westminster, and said he would give £1,000 towards the expense of the suggested conversion. He (Mr. Rylands) had the best authority for saying that if the Government, instead of making this plot of land into an open space and devoting it to the purposes of the people of Westminster, had thought it right to sell the land, they could have got as much as £70,000 for it. He had no wish to complain of what the late Government did; he did not desire to raise any objection to the course which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Westminster thought it right and proper to pursue; but what he did contend was that, practically, the people of the Kingdom had made a present to the inhabitants of Westminster of property of the value of £70,000. If any locality or Corporation in the country had wished to possess itself of a similar plot of land for the purpose of a garden or park, they would have been obliged to lay a rate upon the property of the ratepayers of the borough in order to raise the necessary funds. Certainly, the argument was a very strong one, indeed, that the ratepayers of Westminister ought to pay their fair share, at all events, of the maintainance of the open spaces which were intended for their special benefit. Old Palace Yard might be said to be of special service to Members of Parliament; that it ought to be maintained at the national expense; but clearly, in the case of Abingdon Street and St. Margaret Street, Parliament ought not to be called upon to pay anything. Those streets ought to be kept up by the local authorities; and therefore he objected to their becoming a charge upon the general taxpayer. The last item was a most singular one, and he hoped his right hon. Friend would afford the Committee some information respecting it. The item was—"Horticultural works for ditto, £550," and if they looked at the Estimate they saw immediately above the word "ditto," the words "lamps and supply of gas." He did not understand what the "horticultural works for ditto" were. They could not belong to any of the streets; and, therefore, he supposed they were connected with the Victoria Tower Gardens. Now, the item of £550 for horticultural works actually included the pay and emoluments of a constable. It was a most extraordinary thing to include the pay of a constable in horticultural works. It appeared the Vote altogether was one that ought to be recast. He considered more money was spent than there ought to be; and, therefore, he should move to reduce the Sub-head by £500.
said, he would not do that. He did not wish to run the thing too close, and he considered that Palace Yard must be kept up for the convenience of Members.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That a sum, not exceeding £27,720, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1884, for the Buildings of the Houses of Parliament."—(Mr. Rylands.)
said, it would be wise to consider the advisability of facing the exposed part of Westminster Hall with Portland stone, instead of with the freestone from the West of England. He hoped the work would not be delayed until, as it was suggested, some suitable architect could be found who understood the work. Any ordinary intelligent stone mason—
I must remind the hon. Member that a proposition has been made to reduce the Vote by £500 in respect to Sub-head C, which relates to the maintenance of the approaches to the House, and Gardens. The hon. Member is discussing a former question.
asked if he was to understand that the subject could not be further discussed?
The hon. Gentleman will be able to refer to it later.
wished to say a word or two in answer to the observations made by the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands). The Committee should not lose sight of one thing, and that was of the almost paramount necessity there was of retaining in their own hands the approaches to the Houses of Parliament. The amount that was put down for horticultural works he supposed related to the bedding-out which took place in Parliament Square Gardens, and in New Palace Yard, in the immediate precincts of the House. Parliament Square Gardens formed, he imagined, that portion of the ground in front of the Houses of Parliament on which the statues were erected. His hon. Friend had evidently lost sight of the advantage it was to them to retain in their hands the maintenance of the order and beauty of this particular piece of ground. That remark would apply also to the Victoria Tower Gardens. Now the space was laid out as a garden, he (Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson) hoped it would not meet the views of the Committee that they should be handed over to a body which changed from day to day. He trusted the hon. Gentleman would not press his Amendment.
said, he entirely agreed with what the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands) had said with respect to the maintenance of the streets. The subject had not escaped the attention of the Government, and it was one of the matters they proposed to deal with whenever the Bill respecting London Municipal Government was brought in. It was, however, very undesirable that the Government should give up the custody and care of the open spaces in the precincts of the House.
could not support his hon. Friend (Mr. Rylands) in the Motion he had made. It was only on Tuesday last they had a very long debate, at the time of Private Business, on the desirability of preserving open spaces, and a very large minority of the House opposed a Bill which was to do away with an open space. This seemed to be a similar case. The hon. Member for Burnley advocated building on the space he referred to; he told them they might have saved £70,000 by doing so. It was very important, on many grounds, that open spaces should be maintained. He could not agree with the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. A. J. Balfour), when he said they ought to deny themselves comforts. Hon. Members of the House gave up a great deal of time in the performance of their public duties, and the public ought not to begrudge them any of the conveniences they required.
said, he had no wish to prolong the discussion; but he considered some further explanation was required. In the first place, there was the item of £870 for the maintenance and repair of the streets and gardens, and then there was the mysterious sum of £550, which was said to be for horticultural works. The latter item had not yet been explained. If it was for bedding-out, what was meant by the Vote for the maintenance of the Gardens? And, besides, a charge of £83 for a constable appeared to be mixed up with the cost of geraniums and other bedding-out plants. The Vote appeared excessive, and, at any rate, should be more clearly explained.
said, there appeared to be a little misapprehension with regard to the Motion of the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands). The hon. Gentleman the Member for the City (Mr. R. N. Fowler) said the hon. Gentleman wished to abolish the open spaces around the Houses of Parliament; but it did not appear to him (Mr. Biggar) that that was the object of the Motion. He imagined that the object of the hon. Member for Burnley was to secure that the cost of repairing the streets in question should be defrayed by the proper authorities—namely, the parochial authorities of Westminster. Such an object was perfectly legitimate and reasonable. He was clearly of opinion that the ratepayers of Westminster should pay for the repair of the streets in their parish; and he did not see that the contention of the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works was of any value. He did not think there was any occasion to defer the settlement of the question until the London Municipal Reform Bill was brought in. That Bill might not be introduced for 10 years; and yet, in the meantime, the Committee would have to vote a sum annually towards defraying a charge which properly belonged to the locality. The Government ought to submit to the reduction which had been proposed, and allow the custody of the streets in question to pass into the hands of the proper authorities.
quite agreed with the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Rylands) in the remarks he had made in favour of a reduction of the Vote. At the same time, they had received some sort of assurance from the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works, that the subject would form part of the new Municipal Bill for London, which, no doubt, would be brought in some time this Session. Under the circumstances, it would, perhaps, be well to rest satisfied with the assurance of the right hon. Gentleman.
asked leave to withdraw his Motion.
objected to the withdrawal of the Motion. Even admitting that a constable was a horticultural growth of a rare order, there were items in the Vote which required explanation; £870 was set down for the maintenance of the approaches and Gardens. Of course, some hundreds of that must go to the Gardens. In addition, there was £550 directly charged for horticultural works for ditto. Considering the limited extent of the garden space, and the limited amount of horticultural display that was ever perceptible, he would like to know would any private gentleman be able to expend £800 a-year upon a similar amount of garden space for a similar amount of horticultural return? It seemed to him they ought to get some explanation, or otherwise the country would be justified in considering that it was being charged at least twice as much as any private person would be charged for the same return. He certainly would not push his opposition to a division if he could get anything at all like an estimate of what were the works for which they were asked to pay so highly.
said, the £870 went towards the repair of the roads, repairing the railings, and so forth. The actual gardens were provided for out of the £550.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Original Question again proposed.
asked who was the responsible architect in the case of alterations and improvements of the Parliament buildings?
observed, that under Sub-head E there was a charge of £2,500 for police. The charge was a large one, although he did not suppose too large. All he desired to ask was, why the charge was placed on the taxes, and not on the rates? He had the authority of the Home Secre- tary for saying that the protection of persons and buildings all over the country was absolutely, by law, laid on the rates. Why the inhabitants of London should be exempted from such a charge he could not understand. When any public servants went into the country they were protected out of the rates. Why were they not protected out of the rates when in Westminster?
said, he wished to ask a question with regard to the electric light in the Library and Dining and Smoking Rooms of the House. No doubt, the lighting of rooms in the Houses of Parliament was very valuable to the Lighting Company, because it was a splendid advertisement. He understood that it was the Edison Company who were lighting these rooms; but, without wishing to throw any discredit upon that Company, he must say that the lighting was not at present extremely well done. Those who used the Library knew that the light was excessively unsteady, and was very embarrassing; and nothing was more irritating to anyone who was reading or writing than a perpetual change in a bright light. He had been told that the contract for this lighting had been given to the Edison Company without anything like public competition. The Swan Company had lighted the new Law Courts extremely well, and nothing could be more satisfactory than that light. It was very good and very steady, and seemed to be free from all the evils of the light in the rooms of the House; and he should like to know whether the Swan Company were invited to tender for lighting these rooms, and if not, why not? Were any other Companies than this American Company invited—such as the Brush Company, which lighted the City, or any other of the many Companies in London, any one of which would have been only too glad to have the contract for lighting the rooms of the House of Commons? There was another reason why he thought great care should be taken in connection with the electric light. In no business in modern times had there been more corruption and gambling and intriguing on the Stock Exchange than in electric lighting; and if the same feeling was to be brought into the House of Commons it would be a great misfortune. He wished for an explanation as to why this contract had been given to the Edison Company without any communication with, or invitation to, other Companies to tender, if that was so; and also for a pledge that if the other parts of the House were to be lighted by electricity, the First Commissioner of Works would undertake, before any further arrangement was entered into, that there should be the usual invitations issued for tenders from the public, and that the work should be given to the Company which would do it most satisfactorily and at the least cost.
said, he understood the Committee were now upon the main Vote, and he wished to say that if any more money was spent on the ornamentation of Westminster Hall until something was decided as to what was to be done with it; it would be wasted. The Hall was now deserted and forlorn; the time would soon come when owls would hoot in the Palace, since the step of the lawyer no longer echoed there. The Hall would never be of any use again until it was made what it ought to be, the centre of the Houses of Parliament. It was wholly deserted, while the passages of the House were crowded in a most disgusting manner. It was scarcely possible for a Member to get to a Committee Room without going through an unseemly crowd for the want of accommodation. Matters would not be put in a proper condition until Westminster Hall was restored to its proper position as the centre of the House of Commons, and Committee Rooms were made by the side of it for the use of people concerned in Public and Private Bills. Money spent in ornamenting the outer side of the Hall would simply be wasted.
said, that, as a Director of an Electric Lighting Company, he was able to say that the introduction into that House of a foreign system of incandescent lighting had given a most serious blow to one of the most meritorious systems in the world—that of Joseph Swan, of Newcastle. His beautiful lamp had made itself a name in almost every capital in Europe, and the most serious check it had received was the fact that its most pressing rival had been apparently chosen for lighting the most important building in the United Kingdom. Certainly, if this foreign system, which was known to be not better than the Swan system, had been introduced into the House of Commons without such notice as would have enabled the Swan Company, or whatever Company was working their patent in London, to compete, it was a most unfair arrangement, and one which, if it was possible, should be gone back upon, so that a grievous wrong might be remedied.
said, with reference to the observations of the hon. Member for Hythe (Sir Edward Watkin), he understood that Mr. Pearce had been appointed architect for a special object. That being so, and the right hon. Gentleman having said that the first work was to be only tentative, was it intended to case-in the buttressess, in order to protect them from the weather? The observations of the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. A. J. Balfour) had come a little too late; his arguments ought to have been put forward earlier in the year. He would suggest that smokers should be transferred to the Conference Room, and the Smoking Room given up for he general use of Members.
said, that what was greatly wanted in the Smoking Room was an electric communication with the House, to tell these who were there what was going on in the House. At present they were more distant than the Clubs; and it was absolutely necessary that they should have some means of knowing what Business was proceeding in the House.
said, with respect to the question of the hon. and learned Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst), he had answered that a few nights ago.
You did not answer it at all.
said, his answer was this. A proposal was made to him, some time ago, by the Edison Company to light the Library and other rooms experimentally, till the end of the Session, for a small sum. He thought it desirable that Members should have an opportunity of seeing what the effect would be, and he therefore accepted the offer. At that time the Company had a working station within easy reach of the House, and it appeared to him reasonable to employ them. Subsequently, they ceased to supply the light from their own depôt, and made use of an engine in the House. He did not invite competition—first, because the lighting was only to last for a few months; and, secondly, because it did not appear to him that, in the present state of electric lighting, it was a proper subject for competition. When, some months ago, he had to consider the question of lighting the Law Courts, he came to the conclusion that it was a matter upon which he could not invite competition. There was considerable difference between the systems; and it appeared to him better to select that which he thought most satisfactory, and invite the Company to tender. After careful consideration, and the exhibition of the various systems at Paris and at Sydenham, he decided that the Swan Light was the best adapted for the Law Courts, and he invited the Swan Company to tender for the work. He gave them the work; and if there was any Company which ought not to raise objections to his having followed the same course with regard to the House of Commons, it was the Swan Company, because he had given them the preference in the Law Courts. Between the two systems he saw very little difference. [Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL: Oh, oh!] Perhaps the noble Lord was connected with the Swan Electric Lighting Company? [Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHIL: Not even a shareholder; I wish I was.] He saw very little difference between the two lights. He gave the work at the Law Courts to the Swan Company, and he thought it only reasonable to give the work at the House to the Edison Company. He should consult hon. Members as to whether, on the whole, they wished the lighting to be continued; and if they did, then it would be a question whether it should be extended to the Chamber or not.
said, the right hon. Gentleman, in replying to his hon. Friend, had thought fit to insinuate that he was a Director of the Swan Company. He thought that was as improper as it was inaccurate. As, however, the right hon. Gentleman had ventured on that ground, he would follow him, and tell the Committee what information he had as to the Edison Company getting the work in the House. The Swan Company had lighted the Law Courts in a manner which had satisfied everybody; and not only had they done that, but they had made superhuman efforts to get ready for the opening of the Law Courts; so that if anybody ought to be taken into consideration in regard to lighting that House, it was the Company who had thus acted so well towards the public. But what they complained of, and what other Companies complained of—and he was no more interested in one than the other—was, that without a word to any of them the right hon. Gentleman concluded an arrangement with this Yankee adventurer, who was suspected of having stolen the Swan patent, and had let him into the House of Commons. That was no small matter, for it was without question the greatest advertisement that could possibly be given to an Electric Lighting Company. It was now known all over the world, wherever there was a Parliamentary Assembly, that the Edison Company were lighting the English House of Commons. The First Commissioner of Works knew that these Electric Lighting Companies had been the subject of most disreputable cheating and gambling on the Stock Exchange; and he ought, therefore, to have exercised particular care in the matter; and, at all events, he knew that the Swan Company had done good work, and he had no right, without letting them know, to let the Edison Company in. He was not connected with the Edison Company; but the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of London (Sir John Lubbock) was a Director, and the Right Hon. Mr. Bouverie, a faithful supporter of the Whig Party, was a principal proprietor in that Company. It was also a notorious fact that Mr. Preece, the Electrician to the Post Office, was a very large shareholder in the Edison Company. He stated that on very good authority; but, if it was not true, the sooner the statement was contradicted the better. Was it not, above all things, desirable, in a matter of this kind, which had been the subject of so much gambling, that when a Government official thought it right to introduce the electric light into a public building, there should be no unfair advantage of the least kind given to one Company over another? But the case was stronger still. The right hon. Gentleman had given the House to understand that he wanted the Edison Company to be allowed to have a trial, in order to let the House and the public see what they could do; but he had not stated that the Edison Company had been lighting the Post Office for some time; and, therefore, so far as a trial was concerned, that Company had had all they could desire. The right hon. Gentleman had no right to give to an American adventurer, whose patent was obtained in a most extraordinary way, and not until after the Swan patent had been disclosed, all the advantage, and so send up the value of the Edison Company, and become unwittingly the victim of great Stock Exchange speculation. He hoped, before the right hon. Gentleman concluded any further arrangement with this adventurer's Company, he would put everything out to tender with respect to this House, or any other public building—of course reserving to himself the right to choose any tender he thought best—and so let everything in connection with this lighting be fair and above board.
said, he was sorry if he had done the noble Lord an injustice by supposing that he was connected with an Electric Lighting Company. Certainly, the noble Lord's speeches and questions appeared to him to be directed, not to the interest of the public, but to the interest of some rival Company to that which had been lighting the House. But there was not a word in the argument which the noble Lord had used against the action he had taken which did not equally apply to the lighting of the Law Courts. If he had done wrong in giving the Edison Company the right provisionally to light the House of Commons rooms at a cost of £100, how much worse must his conduct have been in permitting the Swan Company to light the Law Courts at a cost of £7,000 or £8,000, without inviting any other Company to tender? [Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL: They did tender.] He had told the noble Lord the other day that he invited a tender merely from the Swan Company after the most careful consideration, and after satisfying himself that theirs was the best system for the Law Courts. There were a great many different Companies with various systems, and he thought it better to choose the light which he considered the best, and invite a tender for the work. He thought that in that respect he had done some service to the Swan Company; but when it became a question with regard to this House, he had other matters to consider. The Edison Company laid before him reasons which led him to think, as he still thought, that, on the whole, their system was best adapted for that House—namely, that they had noiseless dynamo-engines, and he thought they were the only Company that had them. As to Mr. Edison being an American adventurer, he thought that was a misrepresentation. He was one of the most respected and distinguished scientific men of the day, and the Company which was working this patent was one of the most respectable character. The noble Lord had insinuated that the contract was given to the Edison Company on account of Mr. Bouverie's political support; but there was no ground for such a suggestion. He had already given one great work to the Swan Company; and, under the circumstances, he thought it well to try the Edison Company for a short time. Whether that Company's light would ultimately be adopted was not yet decided, and he would consult Members upon the subject.
said, he felt sure that the right hon. Gentleman's exposition of the economic principles which had guided him would be instructive. He had told the Committee that, as between the foreigner and the Englishman, the Liberal Government would always give the foreigner a fair chance; but as the right hon. Gentleman proceeded he thought he cut the ground from under his feet, because he said he had chosen the Swan Company to light the Palace of Justice because he considered their light the best. [Mr. SHAW LEFEVRE: At that time.] And having given that proof of his conviction as to the excellence of the Swan Company's light, it was very strange that he did not, at any rate, let the Swan Company know that he intended also to try the electric light in the House of Commons. When public works had been well done by a particular contractor or body, one would fancy that it would be only reasonable to give these who had served the State well once, at least a chance a second time. He was quite aware that the right hon. Gentleman was only actuated by a desire to give fair play all round; but, at the same time, it was to be observed that in his reply to the noble Lord, he entirely passed over all notice of the fact that besides Mr. Bouverie, a much more trusted and more influential Liberal was connected with the Edison Company, which had got this preference in so remarkable a way in the House. It was hardly meeting the case to refer to Mr Bouverie, when a much stronger argument was left untouched. He was sure that the impression that would be left in the minds of independent Members who were neither Directors nor shareholders, by the cropping up of this question from time to time, would lead to a strong conviction that the more care they could expend in watching the influence of Directors in that House, the better it would be for the country at large; and from that point of view he was extremely sorry, without casting any slur upon the hon. Members concerned, but simply in view of the public interest, that the House had recently not shown enough jealousy of the interference of Directors of powerful Companies in the legislation of Parliament—legislation which might mean good to the public, but which certainly meant a largo pecuniary profit to the Companies in which these Directors were interested. Like every other Member he, of course, accepted the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman; but he hoped that an opportunity would be given to hon. Members to try the effect of the rival system of electric lighting in the House before any long time had elapsed. He could bear his own personal testimony to the discomfort experienced in trying to read by the hard and crude light now in the Library.
stated, in reply to an earlier question, that the buildings of the Palace of Westminster were in charge of the principal clerk in the Office of Works.
said, the salary of that officer was £250 a-year, rising by £5 per annum to £300. Could it be the fact that that House, with all its important buildings, was in charge of a clerk of the Works at a salary of £5 a week. If that was not so, in whose charge were the buildings? In order to have the matter thoroughly explained, he should move the reduction of the Vote by the amount of the clerk's salary.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That a sum, not exceeding £27,880, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1884, for the Buildings of the Houses of Parliament."—(Sir Edward Watkin.)
said, the building was in the charge of Mr. Taylor, the principal surveyor to the Board of Works, who was a most competent man. He had, of course, a clerk of the Works under him. The salaries being paid by the Board of Works Department, they did not appear in the present Vote.
expressed his surprise at the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that this important building was under the supervision of no architect whatever. It was, he thought, well that the public should know that the entire responsibility rested upon a surveyor and a clerk of the Works.
said, the right hon. Gentleman had not replied to the question of the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell) as to whether the Government had any definite design or destination in view for Westminster Hall? He asked whether the works there were intended to carry out any special purpose for the convenience of hon. Members, or for the convenience of persons having business at the Houses of Parliament? It appeared to him that at present Westminster Hall was simply a huge annex, for which there was no particular use, except so far as it might be preserved under the designation of an ancient monument.
said, it would be well to receive some assurance from the First Commissioner of Works that some arrangement would be made with regard to the stone used in public buildings in future, so that they might not again witness the extraordinary spectacle, presented by the exterior of the Houses of Parliament, of the stone crumbling away almost immediately after the work was finished. The hon. Member opposite suggested that a competent architect should be employed, and that Portland stone should be used as being more durable; but he would point out that it was not a question of architects, either competent or incompetent. An architect would not be able or willing probably to give that attention to the selection of the stone which was required. It was the opinion of some persons that the stone selected for the Houses of Parliament was more durable than Portland stone, and that the fact of its not wearing well was due to some remissness in its selection; and he had heard it stated that, owing to false economy, when the building was half completed, several competent officers had been dismissed whose business it was to select the blocks of stone at the quarries before they were carved. It was a well-known scientific fact that both very good and very bad stone would come out of the same quarry of Magnesian limestone; and if there was not some competent officer charged with the selection of the stone before carving, it was only to be expected that it would wear badly. With the lesson afforded by the Houses of Parliament before them, he thought it would be a satisfaction to the Committee to be assured that there was to be some official, either the surveyor of the Board of Trade, or his clerk of works, charged with the selection of the stone to be used in future, or someone who was capable, at all events, of distinguishing good Magnesian limestone from inferior qualities of the same material.
said, it was not the intention of the Government to erect any building on the west front of Westminster Hall, the restoration of which had been undertaken by the eminent architect, Mr. Pearson. With regard to the observations of the hon. Member for Hythe (Sir Edward Watkin), he would repeat that the principal surveyor to the Board of Works (Mr. Taylor) was a thoroughly competent architect, who had already for the Government executed some most important works, and was capable of doing everything demanded from him in connection with the Houses of Parliament. He could assure the hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. Mayne) that every possible care was taken to select the best stone for the purpose of the repairs to the Houses of Parliament.
said, it was a great satisfaction to him that the First Commissioner of Works had not employed a permanent architect on the building. So long as they had permanent architects they would have permanent expenses, and new buildings in continual course of erection. On the other hand, he hoped his right hon. Friend would always continue his policy of having a thoroughly practical man to look after works of the kind in question.
said, with the permission of the House, he would, having received an explanation from the First Commissioner of Works, withdraw his Motion.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Original Question again proposed.
asked whether, in the case of the charge for the restoration of the west front of Westminster Hall, the sum they would be ultimately asked for was the difference between the sum of £7,900, the whole sum stated to be spent, and the amount to be realized by the sale of the old materials of the Law Courts?
said, the sum estimated as the value of the old materials had been more than realized, the total sum received being over £3,000. The cost of the restoration of the west front of the Hall would be, approximately, £6,000.
asked for information on what appeared to be the extraordinary item of £3,650 for the Supply and Repairs of Furniture. He found that £10,000 had already been charged for repairs to the Houses of Parliament. So that this was purely a question of chairs and tables—not of building. He would like to know the position occupied in the building by this large amount of furniture that required to be repaired. The whole thing appeared to him to be very much in the nature of a serious overcharge.
said, the charge referred to did at first sight appear to be a large one; but he thought if the hon. Member were to see the details of it, he would admit that it was not unreasonable. It included a vast number of items—amongst others, the sum of £800 for supplies of glass, plate, linen, &c, for the Refreshment Rooms. This was a charge that passed through the Refreshment Committee of the House, and it must, therefore, be regarded as having met with their approval. The charge also related to the Refreshment Department of the House of Lords, and other rooms in the building—especially the Speaker's house—some of the fittings of which were very costly. The silk curtains in that house had last year to be replaced, and the charge under this head was thereby increased.
pointed out that the plate could not be included in this Estimate, because there was a separate charge for it of £830. He repeated that this charge of £3,650 was purely and simply for the supply and repair of chairs and tables. He gathered, from the statement of the First Commissioner of Works, that the curtains for the Speaker's house were in the Estimates of last year; that point had, therefore, no bearing upon his argument.
said, that under the head of Furniture was included plate, linen, and glass for the Refreshment Rooms. No doubt the other item was a further sum required in consequence of the addition to the Refreshment Rooms.
asked if he was to understand that £830 was necessary for the plate in one Refreshment Room?
said, that was the sum asked for by the contractor. As it had passed through the Refreshment Committee, he concluded that the item had met with their approval.
said, he hoped that something would be done to make the seats in the Library of the House more comfortable for Members. Some of them were as hard as boards; and as he had drawn attention last year to the condition they were in, he trusted the Whitsuntide Recess would be made use of to render them more comfortable.
said, that the item of £3,650 was for two years. If the £850 for plate was in addition to that referred to by the right hon. Gentleman as for last year, it would seem that the Government were asking for double the sum required.
said, while they were upon this subject he thought it only fair to call attention to the deficiency of accommodation supplied to persons who had business at the House. The arrangements for dining, for instance, were very imperfect. He did not wish to press the point at that moment, as an opportunity would doubtless present itself later on; but he thought an early opportunity ought to be taken for reviewing the whole question as to that which fell under the domain of the Kitchen Committee. Certainly, in view of the amount set down for providing utensils and accommodation of all kinds for the Kitchen department, he did not think Members had any reason to congratulate themselves on the result, either in respect of comfort or the excellence of the arrangements.
Original Question put, and agreed to.
(2.) £550, to complete the sum for the Monument to the Earl of Beaconsfield.
said, he had heard it stated, and seen it in the newspapers, that a very large sum of money would be necessary for the purpose of putting Westminster Abbey in an efficient state of repair. As the statue to the Earl of Beaconsfield was to be placed in the Abbey, he trusted the Secretary to the Treasury would be able to state that no sort of arrangement would be made for charging the country with the money required without the distinct understanding that the consent of Parliament should be previously obtained.
Vote agreed to.
(3.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That a sum, not exceeding £117,762, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1884, for the Maintenance and Repair of Public Buildings in Great Britain and the Isle of Man, including various special Works; for providing the necessary supply of Water; for Rents of Houses hired for the accommodation of Public Departments, and Charges attendant thereon."
said, he intended to move the reduction of this Vote by the sum of £5,000, and he believed that the proposed reduction was one to which the Government would be willing to agree. The Charge was stated as follows:—"£5,000, National Gallery; improvement and accommodation; on account; total cost uncertain." He wished to point out that the first business of these who came to the House for money was to state the works for which the money was wanted, and to present an account of the cost. On a former occasion some sanitary alterations were requisite with reference to a Public Office, and the same proceeding took place as that which he now complained of. The First Commissioner came down and asked for a Vote on Account for certain alterations, without letting the House know what was the amount that would be required. On that occasion strong objection was made on both sides of the House, and he believed a Motion was made to reduce the Vote by the amount asked for. It was only on the representations of the right hon. Gentleman that the proposed sanitary arrangements were most urgently required, that the lives of public servants were in danger, and that unless the money were granted it would be impossible to set about the alterations which were indispensably necessary, that the House was very reluctantly induced to consent to the Government taking the Vote in the objectionable form in which it was presented. He (Mr. Gorst) well remembered the protestations of the Secretary to the Treasury on that occasion, that the proceeding should never occur again; and that credit should be taken in the Estimates of the future in such a manner as would show the nature of the work, and the total expenditure that would be incurred. He was astonished to see that a Government who valued their pledges should have forgotten their protestations, and again committed the same financial sin as that for which, on the occasion he had mentioned, they had expressed so much contrition. Here was a Vote proposed for the improvement of the accommodation of the National Gallery; the large sum of £5,000 was asked for on account, no information being given to the Committee, and no information apparently being in the possession of the Government as to the total cost which would have to be voted by the House after the sum of £5,000 now asked for was granted. It could not be pleaded, as it was on the last occasion, that the matter was of the greatest possible urgency; the requirements of the National Gallery were not so pressing that they could not wait another year; and, therefore, he thought that as soon as the Government recognized the mistake they had made in putting this sum on the Estimates, they would consent to the reduction he was about to move, and postpone the improvements until, in the Supplementary Estimates, proper information could be given to the Committee. He did not know whether he should be in Order in moving to strike out this sum of £5,000; his wish was not to stand in the way of any Gentleman who might wish to move the reduction of the Vote by a larger sum.
asked if it would be afterwards competent to him to move the reduction of the Vote by the larger sum of £7,000?
said, the hon. Member would be in Order in moving that reduction after the Amendment proposed by the hon. and learned Member for Chatham was disposed of.
said, he would then move the reduction of the Vote by the specific item of £5,000.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That the Item of £5,000, being the sum required for the National Gallery (Improvement of Accommodation), be omitted from the proposed Vote."—(Mr. Gorst.)
said, he should certainly be open to the observations of the hon. and learned Member for Chatham if he were to ask for a Vote of £5,000 on account for improvements and alterations in the National Gallery, without giving the Committee full information as to what was to be done with the money. In this case, when the Estimates were framed, no actual arrangement had been made as to the nature of the contemplated improvements; and it was, therefore, impossible to put the whole cost in the present Estimates. A few days ago he had placed in the Library of the House a plan showing, in detail, the work intended to be executed at the National Gallery. He thought the hon. and learned Member would have been aware, from the statements in the public Press, what the nature of the work was; but, at all events, he would inform him what was contemplated by the Government in this matter. Before doing so, however, he might be permitted to remind the hon. and learned Member and the Committee of the demands which had been made, from time to time, in connection with the National Gallery for further accommodation than at present existed there. Every Member of the House would know that these had been extremely pressing. In 1881 the Trustees brought the subject before the Government, and said that the pictures there were increasing so rapidly in number that the space at their disposal was totally inadequate for the purpose of hanging them. Last year the Trustees again memorialized the Government on the subject, saying that the larger Galleries were so blocked as to cause great inconvenience. Many of the pictures had to be hung on screens; and at length these screens, owing to the increase in the number of pictures acquired by purchase or donation, had caused a block in the Galleries. He might also remind the Committee that that question had been raised from time to time in the House, and that considerable pressure had been brought to bear upon the Government in connection with it. So long as the Government had in progress the important works of the National History Museum and the Law Courts, they were unwilling to take the work of the National Gallery in hand; but when these were finished, they came to the conclusion that they could no longer refuse the demands of the Trustees; and, accordingly, a plan was prepared with the view of affording the increased accommodation that was required. Hon. Members would see, by the plans placed in the Library, that they proposed the addition of two long Galleries—one 90 feet by 40 feet, and the other 70 feet by 40 feet, and two smaller rooms, each 30 feet by 20 feet. The accommodation asked for by the Trustees was a hanging-room of 700 lineal feet; at the same time, they pointed out that this was absolutely required for the pictures they then had, and that by the time this addition was made they would probably have further pictures to place; and that, therefore, the number of feet stated did not represent quite the limit of their demand. The proposed alteration would give 958 lineal feet, equal to two-thirds of the last addition made by Mr. Barry, and about one-third of the existing space in the building. The total cost of the two Galleries and the two smaller Rooms would be about £50,000. They would be erected immediately behind the Gallery, and would extend in the direction of the Barrack Yard, a small portion of which would be taken; and he thought hon. Members would see that they would be extremely well placed in view of the circulation of the visitors to the Gallery. He had stated to the Committee the actual cost of the additional Galleries; but it was further contemplated, when these were completed, to convert the present Turner Gallery, now objected to on account of the deficient light there, into a grand staircase, and to convert the present staircases into two rooms for pictures. This would cost an additional sum of £15,000; but that expense was not at present to be incurred, because it was not thought advisable to proceed with the last-mentioned alterations until the two new Galleries were completed. It was not desirable that the Turner Gallery should be undertaken at once, because it would involve the displacement of the pictures which were hung there, and accordingly it would be postponed. All that the Committee would pledge itself to now was the sum of £50,000 for the erection of the two Galleries and Rooms he had described. The application for £15,000 for the conversion of the Turner Gallery into a grand staircase would form the subject of a separate application some two or three years hence. The completion of the works to be proceeded with at once would probably require a period of three years. The whole work would probably be completed in about four or five years. He trusted the Committee would be of opinion that, on the whole, the proposed addition was the best that could be made to the National Gallery. It had received the entire approval of the Trustees, and he hoped it would supply their wants for some time to come. In concluding the remarks he had to make, he would also express the hope that, having gone over all the points of objection which the hon. and learned Member for Chatham had stated with so much moderation, the hon. and learned Member would be willing to withdraw his Amendment, and allow the sum of £5,000 now asked for on account to be taken.
said, he did not think the First Commissioner of Works had met the objection which the hon. and learned Member for Chatham had brought forward. The right hon. Gentleman had explained, it was true, that the total cost of the alterations, described in the Estimates as uncertain, was £50,000. But what he and other hon. Members found fault with was that the Estimate should have been put forward when the cost was uncertain. It was admitted that at the time the Estimates were framed the total cost was unknown. While he approved fully of the alterations to be made at the National Gallery, he thought the right hon. Gentleman, in view of the fact that no work had to be done there on a sudden, might have left out this item to which they objected from the Estimates, and then, when the cost had been ascertained, come forward with it on a Supplementary Estimate. The objection which the right hon. Gentleman had, in his opinion, not met was, that he was infringing a very important financial principle, by asking for a sum on account of an undertaking the total cost of which was uncertain. He hoped it was clearly understood that they approved the alteration to be made at the National Gallery, their objection being to the mode of putting it in the Estimates.
said, he did not consider the course adopted in this case was unusual. If he had not been able to give full details of the cost and the works to be undertaken, he would not have thought it right to ask for the money. He trusted, however, that the Committee would forgive him if he had infringed any financial rule in not putting the total cost in the Estimates.
said, he thought his right hon. Friend was mistaken in supposing that it had been customary for Ministers to place amounts upon the Estimates on account of works the cost of which was unknown. It was possible to find bad precedents for everything. He had known cases, year after year, in which attempts of the kind had been made, but which had been objected to by the Committee. When Mr. Lowe was Chancellor of the Exchequer, it was proposed to place a number of buildings for public purposes on the space near the Victoria Tower, and a small sum of money—£10,000 or £20,000—was entered on the Estimates without any statement of the total cost, the effect of agreeing to which would have been that the House, without any sufficient explanation, would have committed itself to an altogether unknown cost. He (Mr. Rylands) opposed that Vote from the seat he now occupied, and he remembered that when the Prime Minister came down next day the Vote was not proceeded with; it was, in point of fact, practically withdrawn. Again, there had been cases where the Government had come down with an Estimate without giving the full cost, and where, objection having been taken to the proceeding, the Votes had been postponed, with the view of placing on the Table of the House at a future time the full particulars which were demanded. Therefore, although he could not dispute that demands of the kind in question had been made, yet the practice of the Committee had been to look with great jealousy upon the House being committed to an unknown amount by a Vote on Account being placed on the Estimates. He was by no means opposed to the extension of the National Gallery, and he should be sorry if it were imagined that he was raising any objection to that proposal; but he hoped, before the Committee passed the Vote, they would receive a definite statement from the First Commissioner as to the amount to be expended, so that if that amount were exceeded they would be able to call the right hon. Gentleman to account. His recommendation was, therefore, that the Vote for this £5,000 should be withdrawn; that the exact plans should be settled, and the total expenditure stated; and when these were laid upon the Table of the House he felt sure the Committee would support his right hon. Friend in supplying what was, no doubt, a public requirement.
said, he was, no doubt, responsible for the form in which this Estimate was presented. Originally, it was not known what sum would be required for the completion of the work; but the sum was ascertained before the Estimate was presented to the House. It was desirable that, as far as possible, the total expenditure to be incurred in works of the kind under consideration should be stated; but it frequently happened that, although they knew that money would be required for certain purposes, they were unable to say what would be the total sum required for the completion of the work to be done, although they were sure that before the matter came on for discussion they would be able to give the Committee all the information required. That was what had occurred in the present case. Some days ago his right hon. Friend placed in the Library plans of the proposed alterations, and during the last half hour his right hon. Friend had made a statement, of which the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands) had not heard a word, showing the total amount of expenditure involved, and the probable time that would be occu- pied in the completion of the alterations.
said, he thought the Committee would do well to accept the explanation of the hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. They were indebted to the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst) for having called attention to what was, undoubtedly, an unsatisfactory point in the Estimates. After the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that £50,000, and possibly a further sum of £15,000, would be required for alterations at the National Gallery, he thought the Committee would agree that they had before them all the information which, in regard to Votes of the kind, they were bound to require. Under the circumstances, he trusted his hon. and learned Friend would not press his Amendment.
said, he could not imagine there would be any objection, on the part of the Committee, to agree to this sum. There was nothing he desired more than that there should be an adequate national expenditure upon Art and kindred objects. So far as he was concerned, he trusted the right hon. Gentleman would take the opportunity of withdrawing the Vote, for the purpose of doubling or even trebling it. He would be glad to know if the right hon. Gentleman saw his way to removing or modifying these objectionable structures on the top of the National Gallery which were known as the "pepper boxes." The Committee must know that, in its present form, the inhabitants of London had no cause to be altogether proud of the National Gallery as a building.
asked if, in the event of the Motion before the Committee being withdrawn, the First Commissioner of Works would undertake to place upon the Table before the end of the Session an Estimate of the total cost of the alterations. [Mr. SHAW LEFEVRE assented.] In that case, he thought, on behalf of his hon. and learned Friend, he should be justified in asking leave to withdraw the Motion for the reduction of the Vote.
It is not competent to the noble Lord to withdraw the Motion before the Committee.
Question put, and negatived.
Original Question again proposed.
said, there were several points in the Estimates on which he wished to obtain information before he made his Motion for the reduction of the Vote; and whether that Motion would be for a reduction of £5,000, £7,000, or £10,000 would depend upon the answer given to one of the questions to which he was about to call attention. In the first place, there was the item—probably the most extraordinary in the whole of the Estimates—of £5,000, for "Sanitary Improvements in the Public Offices (Further on Account); probable total cost, £30,000; probable expenditure up to 31st of March, 1883, £10,550." Now, these sanitary improvements meant the communications between the lavatories and water closets of the Public Offices with the main drains. These Offices were erected at an enormous cost, and if there had been proper supervision on the part of the Architect, and on the part of the Board of Works, the sanitary arrangements would have been properly carried out when the buildings were being erected. It had, however, been stated, with regard to the drainage at the Home Office, that "instead of going into the main sewer it drained back into the Home Office," which showed an amount of ignorance on the part of these which were responsible that would disgrace any builder. But, admitting the necessity for improvements, he could not conceive how £30,000 could possibly be spent in connecting the lavatories and other offices of the buildings with the main sewer at Whitehall. It seemed evident to him that the persons who had this matter in charge would derive a very comfortable annuity from the work of restoring the communications between the Offices and the sewer. This was the first question upon which he desired to have information. The next question related to the Royal Courts of Justice—"Works and Alterations that may become necessary" (they had not become necessary yet) "and other Alterations in the Refreshment Department." Now, if the Committee would turn to page 38 of the Estimates they would find a separate Vote for the Royal Courts of Justice, the House being asked to vote this year the sum of £51,013 under that head. He thought that if the £30,000 for alterations which might become necessary at the Royal Courts of Justice was to be voted at all, it should have been included under the Vote to which he had just directed the attention of the Committee. But it was in this way that these expenses were increased; they were put down partly under one Vote and partly under another, and, in the present instance, two items were taken out of the Vote for the Law Courts and included in the Vote for Public Buildings. Again, he wished to know why the Consolidated Fund had to bear the expense of £60 for the Maintenance and Repair of the Chapter House of the Dean of Westminster? He thought the Chapter at Westminster was sufficiently wealthy to pay for their own repairs. Then there was a charge of £50, the cost of repairing Whitehall Chapel, which he would like to be explained, as also the item of £400 for "Rent, &c, Bridge Street, Westminster Palace Chambers; Ecclesiastical Courts Commission." This latter sum, for the rent of the room in which the Commission met, appeared to him to be far in excess of the necessities of the case. Then there were items for rents in connection with the Law Courts—"Rent in Lincoln's Inn, Appellate Court, including Land Tax redeemed £99; rent of Mr. Justice Fry's Retiring Room, £50." He wished to know why these items were still to be paid, and with regard to them he had no doubt an explanation would be forthcoming. Finally, there was the item on which he had not only to make a Motion, but also to divide the Committee, whatever explanation his right hon. Friend might give. This was the sum of £4,700 under letter G—"Westminster Bridge; maintaining, watering, cleaning, and lighting the Bridge, and for Police and periodical painting." He anticipated the answer that would be given. There were a certain number of houses belonging to the Bridge Trust, the rents of which were received by the Government, and went in reduction of cost to the country. But he ventured to say that these rents did not represent to the country 2 per cent of the amount spent in building the Bridge; and, therefore, if they were to enter into accounts with the City of Westminster, the Government would have to claim from the City of Westminster a very large sum for the cost of the Bridge. But the Government had no more right to put upon the Consolidated Fund the cost of repairing, cleaning, and painting the Bridge than they had to charge that fund with similar expenses on account of bridges in Manchester, Liverpool, and other cities. His contention was that matters of this kind, relating to the Metropolis, should be paid for in the same manner and to the same extent by the ratepayers of London, as the ratepayers of other cities had to pay in respect of their bridges. Whatever promises were made about the Municipal Government (London) Bill, he intended to take a division on the question as to whether an expense, which ought to be borne by the London ratepayers, should be thrown in this unjustifiable manner upon the Consolidated Fund.
said, before the right hon. Gentleman replied to the questions of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, he wished to ask for some information upon the item in respect of the Royal Mint. He observed that for this year the total cost of the operations at that Establishment was £12,750, of which £9,000 was voted last year. His object was simply to ascertain from the right hon. Gentleman in what position the building was at that time, and what was proposed to be done with it this year?
said, he observed that the Government took exactly the same sum last year; and, no doubt, if he looked at the Estimate for 1881–2, he would find another similar sum. It was clear the Office of Works had got into the way of putting down the round sum of £5,000 a-year, not for any particular work, but in case they might want to spend so much on little improvements of their own. He was also told that the Government Departments had lately acquired an extremely objectionable practice. The rule was that they did not specify works costing less than £100, but only those costing more. He was told, by an hon. and learned Friend who had been on the Committee of Public Accounts, and had watched the accounts very carefully, that the Government had a way of getting a number of works, really of an important character, executed without spending large sums on them at a time —by putting against them sums of under £100 every year. By this means works could be undertaken without the House of Commons becoming at all enlightened as to their cost. In order to get the money from the House of Commons, a number of small beginnings were made on various works, the individual amounts of which did not come to £100, and then they lumped them together, and put the total down at £5,000. That, he thought, was probably the secret of the £5,000, and he could not conceive anything more objectionable. They had no right to let the Committee vote sums of £100 for works that they knew were going to cost much more. That was not the way to ask money from the Committee of Supply; and if he should not be interposing between the Committee and the hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler), he would move to reduce the Vote by leaving out the item at the end of Sub-head A—"New Works and Alterations of a minor character not particularly specified above." He wished to draw attention to another matter which raised a question to which he had attracted notice the other night in Committee of Supply, and that was the item for Maintenance and Repairs of Public Buildings. He wished the Committee to give attention to this item, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works would be able to give them some explanation with regard to it; but, before he proceeded to deal with it, he desired to say that they allowed the right hon. Gentleman to take the Vote for Maintenance and Repairs six weeks ago, on condition that he laid on the Table the detailed accounts of three separate items. The right hon. Gentleman would correct him if he was wrong; but he believed that as yet no such statement had been produced. [Mr. SHAW LEFEVRE: It will be produced.] He was glad to hear it. £37,000 was charged for bricks and mortar—surely there was a great deal of extravagance there. There was a large item for Burlington House, and for the London University there was an increase of £230. If they went to Chelsea Hospital they would find an increase of £810; and he should like to know why this place was not treated like Greenwich Hospital, which was repaired out of its own funds? This £810 did not include new works, as he was always endeavouring to impress on the Committee. Then they went to the Tower of London and the Royal Military Asylum, and there were other items making £1,695 increase. He could not think the Office of Works were exercising a proper control over these Estimates unless they kept down this item for Maintenance and Repairs. It was clear that these payments, instead of decreasing every year, went on increasing, and that the items were enormous and beyond all reason, and far beyond what an ordinary private individual would pay. There was no reason why the Department should not exercise economy, as a private individual would; and he would, therefore, press on the right hon. Gentleman to give them some explanation, and to promise that these matters would receive his personal supervision and attention, which, there could be no doubt, they had not done hitherto. He moved the omission of the last item under Subhead A.
said, he wished to call attention to the Vote for Works and Restorations of the Tower of London. He desired to move the omission of the item of £3,500.
That is an earlier part of the Vote. The Committee is about to consider the Motion of the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock, and if we go on to that, we shall not be able to go back afterwards to the item for the Tower of London.
said, the hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler) had put a number of questions to the First Commissioner of Works, and, pending the answer he received to them, he had reserved his right to move the reduction of the Vote. Also pending the answer given to a question, he (Captain Aylmer) reserved his right of moving a reduction. If they could not go back after moving a reduction, he wished to ask what they were going to do? He was waiting to hear the right hon. Gentleman's answer.
said, he would move to leave out the whole of the item for Works and Restorations at the Tower of London.
My duty will be to put the Questions as they arise.
It will be more to the convenience of the Committee if I do not propose my reduction now.
The noble Lord has not moved it. The hon. Member (Mr. Percy Wyndham) moves a reduction.
I move the reduction of the Vote by £3,500 for Works and Restorations at the Tower of London.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That the Item of £3,500 for the Tower of London (Works of Restoration) be omitted from the proposed Vote."—(Mr. Percy Wyndham.)
asked whether the right hon. Gentleman would give them some assurance as to how far these restorations had gone on? The subject was of considerable interest to people out-of-doors, who had been considerably alarmed by a statement made last night, to the effect that a portion of the Tower was to be restored to the condition it was in in the time of Henry III. It was difficult to tell what its condition in the time of Henry III. was, and even if it was known it would not be possible to reproduce it. There had been several unfortunate restorations during the last 25 years, one of them having been to entirely scrape away the plaster from the walls, so as to show the rubble-work, which was never intended to be shown since mediæval times. The effect was quite ridiculous. He did not mean to say that there had not been a great deal of improvement effected at the Tower. Some 25 or 30 years ago an addition had been made, which resulted in hiding the main Tower from the River. This addition had been taken away, which was a great advantage; but there were a large number of people out-of-doors who were anxious that these restorations should not be carried any further, and especially that the Record Keeper's Office, which had existed since the time of Edward III., and which was mentioned in Strype's History of the Tower, should be preserved. The building had been twice restored, no doubt; but it was a lineal descendant of the old mediæval office. Would the right hon. Gentleman assure them that in any new building put up there would be no attempt to masquerade the architecture of previous periods traceable in the Tower; but that the building would be constructed solely with a view to the purposes for which they are required?
said, he would deal with this Question before he went to the wider one to which his attention had been directed. The item alluded to was part of one agreed to last year. Last Session he informed the House that it was the intention of the Government to effect considerable alteration in the Tower of London. They had determined to pull down some enormous warehouses which hid the Tower from the River—they proposed to demolish them altogether and rebuild the old ballium wall. Exception had been taken to a restoration of that character; but he might inform the Committee that he had obtained the sanction of the War Office to the demolition of the warehouses, on the express understanding that accommodation would be found elsewhere for some of the officers of the garrison who would be displaced. Then arose the question, in what particular style should the buildings they would have to put up be erected? Were they to be modern buildings? Should they pull down these ugly old buildings in order to put up, in their place, ugly modern buildings, which would be equally objectionable? He did not think so. It had appeared to the Department with which he was connected that it would be desirable to build on the plans of the old ballium wall. This could be done at very little expense—at an expenditure of not more than £6,000, for which sum, they believed, they would get an exact counterpart of the old building. In doing this they would really be continuing the restorations they had now been carrying on for some years. As to the Record Building, he must altogether dispute its claim to antiquity. The general opinion was that it was no older than the time of Sir Christopher Wren.
You can see it in a print of the Tower of 1598.
said, he disputed that. He had examined the print referred to, and had come to a totally different conclusion. He believed the building was no older than the time of Sir Christopher Wren. It was proposed to build in the stones of the old wall—they did not intend to destroy the stones of the building, but to replace them in the wall they would rebuild. The hon. Member need not be under any alarm in regard to the works of restoration, for the Department were contenting themselves with the demolition of the warehouses and the rebuilding of the ballium wall. They would see, from the old foundations, whether the walls should be continued through the Record Keeper's House, or whether it would be possible to save that building. He hoped the hon. Member would not press his Motion, but would allow the work to be completed.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Original Question again proposed.
said, he was interested in that miserable failure, the Land Registry; and he wished to ask his right hon. Friend how it happened this year, apparently for the first time, there was a charge of £1,000 in regard to the Registry in Staple's Inn? It seemed to him that this year, of all years, when the failure of the Office was most complete, only 14 estates having been registered in the whole year, it was most remarkable that there should be this charge.
said, that one question had been asked by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler) and another by the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill); and he (Captain Aylmer) had intended, before they rose, to ask the two together, because they appeared to bear on each other. They were the last two items under Sub-head A, and the first was—"New Works and Alterations of a minor kind not particularly specified above, £5,000." That had been referred to by the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock, and then there was the other item—"Works and Alterations which may become necessary." It seemed to him that about "works not specified above," and "works which may become necessary," there was much of a muchness. He wished to have some explanation of these items, or he should be inclined to move that one or the other of them be reduced. He wished, also, to ask a question on Sub-head "F," "Supply of Water to the Houses of Parliament." The right hon. Gentleman would, perhaps, explain how it was that there was an extraordinary charge for this supply of water this year.
To what Vote does the hon. and gallant Member refer—Vote 7?
said, he was alluding to Sub-head "F." He had asked some questions on the point last year; but this year, no doubt, the right hon. Gentleman would be able to give more certain information than he was last. With regard to new works, they were going to have a new War Office and other buildings erected at great cost on land which it would require a great deal of money to purchase. He wanted to know what the right hon. Gentleman intended to do with the land belonging to the Government adjoining the new Government Offices and facing Parliament Street, which he believed he was correct in saying had cost £2,000,000. This question would, perhaps, more properly arise under the head of Public Offices, and not Public Buildings. There was a house, now occupied by Lady Clifton, belonging to the Government by the side of the Horse Guards, the lease of which would fall in this year. What did the Government intend to do with it?
said, the House referred to—Dover House—was not under his Department. It was under the charge of the Department of Woods and Forests; and he believed the hon. Member was right in saying that the lease would fall in this year. It would be in the discretion of the Government to hire the house from the Department of Woods and Forests, and in some future arrangement of the Public Offices it might be desirable that the Government should become possessed of the house, as it might be found a convenient site for the official residence of the First Lord of the Treasury. As to the Mint, about which the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson) had put a question, the hon. Baronet would be glad to hear that the works had been completed at a total cost of £14,000, £9,000 of which was spent last year; therefore no item occurred this year. It was, no doubt, most satisfactory that this work, which would cause a great saving to the public, should have been carried out. The noble Lord opposite (Lord Randolph Churchill) asked a question as to an item of £5,000 for minor works. That sum was always put in the Estimates for small works which unexpectedly be- came necessary, and it was due to the great extent of the Public Offices. To this sum was charged small works, which amounted each to less than £100, and which they would not be justified in putting in the Estimates—works which were, for the most part, unforeseen. At one time the item was always included in "Works and Maintenance;" but for the last three or four years it had been shown separately, as it was, in fact, an item for new works. It was considered better to lump all these small works in one large item. As to the £2,000 for the New Courts of Justice, for financial reasons it had been necessary, as soon as the work of constructing the Courts was completed, that all expenditure under the Vote for Construction should cease, and that all expenditure for alterations, or on account of fresh additions found necessary in the practical working of the Courts, should fall under the general Vote for Public Buildings. The item of £2,000 had, therefore, been inserted to meet these possible claims; and he was sorry to say that already many claims had come in which had had to be met out of this money. For instance, no sooner were the Courts completed and the Judges in occupation of them than it was discovered that innumerable small works were required in them. Many complained of draughts, and it was found necessary to put up screens and doors in all directions. He had now before him demands from the Judges and the Bar which would involve an expenditure of at least £1,800. It was always found, when a new building was erected, that a great many little things wanted doing which were not originally foreseen and provided for; and, no doubt, hon. Members had experienced that when themselves building new houses. Unexpected demands were made for small alterations and for fittings in the building which had not been allowed for in the contract. Some alterations demanded were almost fanciful; still, it was not possible for the Department he represented to altogether disregard them. The persons who made the demands for additions and alterations had been persuaded that some of the things they wanted doing were unnecessary, but other things had to be carried out; and he should be thoroughly satisfied if, in connection with such an extensive new building, no more than £2,000 was required to meet works of this kind. As to repairs and maintenance, the noble Lord had referred to several buildings, in regard to which it must be observed that in some years a larger expenditure was required on some of them than in other years. As an illustration, let them take the case of Chelsea Hospital. The Vote for the Repairs and Maintenance of that Building was £2,600, as against £1,800 last year; but the increase had been brought about by the necessity for painting the building, which was of considerable extent. Again, there was Burlington House, the expenditure on which had been £1,600, as against £1,400 last year, in consequence of its being necessary to effect certain alterations in the sanitary condition of the interior. He could only say he had gone carefully over the items of this large sum for repairs, and believed that if hon. Members had a specific account rendered, and knew the work done, they would agree with him that the item was not a large one. No doubt, in the aggregate, it was large; but the number of buildings over which it was spread was very great. The item was increasing; but in regard to that no fault was to be found with these who were concerned, as several buildings had been thrown on the Department during the past two or three years which had nothing to do with it previously. The whole of the costs of the repairs of the Admiralty were now paid out of this Vote; whereas, two or three years ago, they were paid out of the Admiralty Vote. He now came to the item mentioned by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler). The hon. Member had specially dilated on the largeness of the Vote for Sanitary Works. No doubt, the total sum of £30,000, including what had already been spent, was very large. £14,000, or nearly half the amount, had been expended up to the end of the present financial year. He regretted the expenditure; but the demands made by the Public Departments in this matter were so serious, and the responsibility of leaving the Public Offices without proper attention, and neglecting to do the utmost to improve their sanitary condition was so great, that he would not have felt himself justified in asking for a smaller sum. The hon. Member appeared to think it a large item; but if he knew what the cost of making these changes in any one Department was, he would not consider the aggregate a large one. Let them take the case of the new Public Offices. It had there been found necessary to replace every one of the iron pipes with lead pipes. Every soil pipe had been of iron, and had had to be replaced with lead, and the alteration had been one which necessarily occupied a long time to carry out, and occasioned considerable expenditure of money. It was, no doubt, too bad that a large expenditure should be necessary in respect of a building recently erected. The architect who designed them was, he believed, President of the Society of Architects when the work was carried out. [An hon. MEMBER: Who was he?] The architect was Sir Gilbert Scott, and at the time the building was in course of construction the Office of Works had for one of its principal officers a gentleman—namely, Mr. Galton—than whom there was not a higher sanitary authority in England. But if this was the case with the newest of our Public Buildings, what must be the state of the older buildings? Many of them were in such a defective state that the only question was whether he should not have included a larger sum to carry out these important works on a larger scale than they were being carried out or would be carried out. He might say that if it had been possible to proceed with the work quicker, even if the expense had been much greater, he should have done so, and have incurred the larger expense. But he could not proceed with a greater rapidity; it was not possible to do all the works at the same time, as it was necessary to avoid interfering with the work of the Departments. He should not have inserted the large item in the Vote if he had not had the fullest conviction that it was necessary for the Public Service, and the health and safety of the public servants. The hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands) had alluded to the question of Westminster Bridge. That was only one of the many questions affecting Metropolitan rather than Imperial Expenditure which had been raised. The question of Westminster Bridge had been complicated by a fact alluded to by the hon. Member—namely, that the Government had had to take possession of an estate commonly called the Westminster Bridge Estate—which represented a con- siderable rental of £5,000 or £6,000 a-year, or more than enough to pay the cost of painting, repairing, and otherwise maintaining the Bridge. But, as the hon. Member had pointed out, this estate might be said to represent the capital spent on the Bridge itself. The Government had spent a larger sum than was represented by the value of the estate; it might be said, therefore, that the income of this property represented the interest on the capital already expended, and ought not to be set against the repairs of the Bridge. As to who should bear the expense of the maintenance, that was a question upon which the Government might take a different view to that they held now, when the scheme for the Municipal Government of London was carried into effect. He could only say to the hon. Member that this was one of the questions which must be dealt with, and would be dealt with, whenever the Bill for reforming the Municipal Government of the Metropolis was brought in. With regard to Whitehall Chapter House, it was the property of the Government, and did not belong to the Dean and Chapter. The Chapel Royal, which was not a consecrated place of worship, but really the old Banqueting Hall of Whitehall, also belonged to the Government. As to the increase in the item for the supply of water to the Houses of Parliament, the explanation was this. The water supplied was from an artesian well, which belonged to the Government; and he was sorry to say that a portion of it had broken in, rendering necessary repairs which had been carried out at a cost of about £400. As to the Land Registry, it was intended this year to amalgamate it with the Middlesex Registry of Deeds, and for that purpose larger premises had been required, to enable the two Departments to be worked together comfortably. The Ecclesiastical Courts Commission—one of the largest Commissions ever appointed—were not occupying the whole of the house appointed for their use. It was necessary to hire for them a house at a rather larger rate than usual, owing to the size of the Commission; and endeavours would be made to devote that part of the building which they did not use to the service of some other Commission.
said, he rose not for the purpose of opposing the Vote, or of moving an Amendment, but in order to urge on the First Commissioners of Works the desirability and propriety of pushing on these sanitary works in the Government Offices as rapidly as possible. He did not know whether the right hon. Gentleman was aware of it; but at the beginning of the last decade there was an enormous amount of low fever and sickness amongst the clerks at the War Office. An enormous amount of suffering and loss of life was occasioned by the bad sanitary condition of the Offices in Pall Mall. That state of things went on for years; and it was not until two General Officers were affected, and His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales was taken ill, that any serious attempt was made to deal with this state of things. When a proper investigation took place it was found that Marlborough House, and the principal buildings outside of Pall Mall, drained not into the main drains, but partly into cesspools, and partly into the ornamental water in St. James's Park. Something was done at once; but it was done in an imperfect and insufficient manner, and for a long time there was a great deal of illness in Pall Mall. The state of things now, however, was more satisfactory there; but in many other public buildings there was a great amount of illness and suffering on account of their bad sanitary condition. The Government at last recognized the fact that it was necessary to deal with the matter on a large scale, and proposed to spend £30,000; but he could not understand why they proposed to go leisurely to work. Do not let them do the work piecemeal—let them spend the whole of the £30,000 at once, if necessary, and remedy the evils, and get rid of the complaints at once. The Government might say that they had a plan of proceeding drawn up; but if, in following that plan, they were obliged to proceed at a leisurely rate, it might be an unfortunate thing for the clerks concerned, some of whom might lose their lives through the delay. Many of these clerks occupied over-crowded premises, where the ventilation was as bad as it could be. If the Government had a plan drawn up, the best thing they could do would be to throw it overboard, and adopt a new one founded on the suggestion he was now making, which was to get all the sanitary work they had to do carried out without delay during the present financial year.
complained of the defective manner in which the Civil Service Estimates were prepared. When he contrasted the way in which the Civil Service Estimates were made up with the exactitude in which the Treasury required the Army and Navy Estimates to be introduced, he could not help thinking that the result was discreditable to the Treasury. The set of Treasury Minutes, presented to the House in 1856, ought to be applicable to the Estimates of the Civil Service, as well as to these of the Army and Navy. The excuse made for not putting forward correct Estimates was that they were liable to be altered. That was no valid excuse at all. These Votes on Account were a great evil, and he objected to funds being so obtained, because he knew them to be the cause of great abuse in delaying the public discussion of the Votes. Then the mode of mixing up Votes for rents, insurance tithes, &c, set down at £34,363, was calculated to prevent that knowledge of the separate items so necessary to facilitate proper check. In many instances, rent was put down without any explanation, without even any indication as to the Office for which it was charged. These rents, necessarily large in amount, required that a strict inquiry should be made as to whether the Offices were properly rented, and whether the accommodation was more or less sufficient for the duties transacted in the rooms; and also whether buildings belonging to the Government could be made available. He was sorry to say he did not believe the Financial Secretary to the Treasury had leisure to enable him to so make such very requisite inquiries.
LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL moved the omission of the item Sub-head A—namely, "£5,000, for New Works and Alterations of a minor character not particularly specified above." The explanation given by the First Commissioner of Works ought not to satisfy the Committee. When £24,900 was taken for the maintenance and repair generally of Public Offices, the Committee of Supply ought to make a protest against a lump sum of £5,000 being put down, and no genuine account being rendered of what the purposes were for which it was required.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That the Item of £5,000, for New Works and alterations of a minor character, be omitted from the proposed Vote."—(Lord Randolph Churchill.)
said, he thought Her Majesty's Government ought to make some observations upon the present occasion.
said, he had already made the fullest explanation. The noble Lord made a strong attack, and then left the House to refresh himself. He did not think it necessary to remain while he (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) made his explanation, but came back afterwards and moved to omit the item.
said, he was present when the right hon. Gentleman made his explanation, and he thought he never heard a more unsatisfactory explanation. The only explanation afforded was that the sum was put in the Vote because it always had been. He understand this was an economical Government, a Government which was going to make great reductions in the Public Expenditure. Where were they going to begin? What item could, with more propriety, be cut out than the one now under consideration? It was only put in the Estimates in order that the Office of Works might have a sum of money in hand to play with, and that they might be able to gratify the demands for money made by all sorts of people. The right hon. Gentleman told them that, as regarded the Courts of Justice, he was open to all sorts of demands from the Bench and the Bar. He knew they would ask for alterations and improvements, and therefore he thought he would ask Parliament for £2,000, in order to meet the demands. And so he now said he knew that, in the case of other Public Buildings and Offices, there would be a number of people who would ask for all kinds of alterations and improvements, and if he had not this sum of money he would not be able to gratify their laudable desires. He (Mr. Gorst) did not think Parliament could do a more useful thing than to refuse the Office of Works power to give way to all the applications made upon it. If they had not got the money the people would have to go without their alterations until next year. This was a most dangerous item. In the Appropriation Account there was no indication of what the item was. If they now voted this sum of money it would be gone, and they would hear no more of it. How it was spent or squandered Parliament would never know. Next year the right hon. Gentleman would come down to the Committee, and say—"This sum has always been put in the Estimates, and let me have it again." The Committee knew well enough that the Office of Works was surrounded by architects, and surveyors, and valuers, and all kinds of people, who liked to make something out of the work of a Public Department. The only way in which Parliament could check this extravagant expenditure of public money was by refusing to give the Office of Works any money to play with.
said, the right hon. Gentleman had stated that £5,000 was necessary to have in hand to carry out anything that might occur or might be required during the year. It appeared, however, that since the New Law Courts had been completed it had been found necessary to increase the sum to £7,000. If an increase was to be made for every new building there was no knowing where the Vote would stop. Although he should support his noble Friend, he was sorry he had not proposed to reduce the Vote by £2,000, the amount taken for the New Law Courts.
said, the item of £2,000 was totally different to the one of £5,000. It was an item provided in anticipation of demands which were certain to be made in the Courts of Law. These demands had been made on the Government, and were being carried out. They were of a nature that, in ordinary years, they would be specified in the Votes; but, inasmuch as these Votes were prepared before the Courts were occupied, it was totally impossible to say what they would be.
The Committee divided;—Ayes 29; Noes 79: Majority 50.—(Div. List, No. 90.)
Original Question again proposed.
said, he now intended to move a reduction of the Vote and to take a division. The question he was about to ask the Committee to decide was—Are the ratepayers of London to pay for their own bridges and their own roads in the same manner, and to the same extent, as the ratepayers of Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Birmingham, and other places? He would not repeat the arguments he used at an earlier period of the evening, but simply move that the Vote be reduced by £4,700, which was the cost of painting and repairing Westminster Bridge, a charge which, in his opinion, ought to be borne by the ratepayers of Westminster and the Metropolis, and not by the Consolidated Fund.
Motion made, and Question put,
"That a sum, not exceeding £113,062, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1884, for the Maintenance and Repair of Public Buildings in Great Britain and the Isle of Man, including various special Works; for providing the necessary supply of Water; for Rents of Houses hired for the accommodation of Public Departments, and Charges attendant thereon."—(Mr. Henry H. Fowler.)
The Committee divided:—'Ayes 40; Noes 69: Majority 29.—(Div. List, No. 91.)
Original Question again proposed.
said, he wished to ask his right hon. Friend for some information as to the item of £4,200 for additional alterations at Southampton connected with the Ordnance Survey. The Ordnance Survey was a subject in which the public took a very considerable interest, and he would, therefore, inquire in what position the Survey was at the present moment? A considerably increased expenditure was estimated for under this head; and it would be satisfactory if the First Commissioner would inform the Committee what progress had been made, and to what purposes it was proposed to apply the additional amount proposed in the Estimates for the work of the coming year?
said, he hoped the hon. Baronet would defer his question until they reached the Ordnance Vote.
said, he had to call attention to three items in this Vote which involved three most pernicious principles—namely, £3,300 for Ordinary Repairs and Maintenance of Public Ecclesiastical and Collegiate Buildings, Scotland; £200 for Aberdeen University, Marischal College, Improvements in Heating Arrangements; and £370 for persons in charge of premises taken for Public Offices, occasional caretakers, including wages to Warders of Glasgow Cathedral. These were the first items on which he desired information. He was quite unable to understand why the Consolidated Fund should have to pay for the maintenance and care of Ecclesiastical edifices in Scotland. The next item that required explanation was Gwydyr House, Whitehall, Offices of the Charity Commission, £1,350. Surely that ought to be paid for by the Charity Commissioners, and not charged upon the Consolidated Fund. Then there was a charge of £1,000 for the Chambers of the Land Registry in Staple's Inn. He understood the General Land Registry was about to be amalgamated with the Middlesex Registry; but was the Committee aware that a noble Lord received £5,000 or £6,000 a-year for the latter sinecure? He thought that a gentleman receiving that amount yearly ought to keep out of the way of everything connected with the Land Registry.
said, that no amalgamation between the two Land Registries was intended, although there was a proposal to that effect. Next, Glasgow Cathedral was a national edifice. It did not belong to the Church of Scotland, and ought, therefore, to be paid for out of the Consolidated Fund. This and the other Ecclesiastical Buildings referred to might be regarded as ancient monuments, which it was a national obligation to preserve. The third question of the hon. Member involved the larger question of the Charity Commission generally, and upon that he could not then enter.
said, he wished for information as to three items on page 24. First, there was the charge under Sub-head M for Ordinary Repairs and Maintenance of the Survey Buildings at Southampton, &c, £2,120. Upon this he had only to remark that the amount was £200 more than for last year; but as all the Estimates were bloated and increased, he should not have asked for an explanation simply on that ground. The next item was for Additions and Alterations to Buildings at Southampton, £4,200; and then there was the charge of £1,500 for the Erection of New Buildings at Southampton, containing the Engraving Department and other works, total Estimate £3,000. He wished to learn what were these extraordinary additions to the buildings at Southampton, and why it was that, having already paid £3,000 for new buildings, they were now called upon to meet the additional charge of £3,000 in the present year?
said, there had been a general increase in the cost of the Ordnance Survey in order to accelerate the work, which it was supposed would be finished in 1890. The staff had been raised from 170 to 240 persons for this year, and that, of course, necessitated larger buildings; hence the increased charge under that head.
said, he wished to call attention to the charge for salary of the Surveyor for the Royal Court House, Douglas, Isle of Man. He believed the Isle of Man was in the enjoyment of Home Rule, and it was only reasonable that a country so situated should pay for the cost of surveying its public buildings. That would certainly be the case when Ireland obtained Home Rule, an event that he thought was not so far in the future as some hon. Members supposed. Unless he was told that the money in question, after being paid out of the Consolidated Fund, was repaid by the authorities of the Isle of Man, he should be bound to object to the item.
said, this amount was paid on account of property belonging to the Crown in the Isle of Man.
Original Question put, and agreed to.
Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again,"—( Mr. Shaw Lefevre,)—put, and agreed to.
Resolutions to be reported To-morrow, at Two of the clock.
Committee to, sit again To-morrow, at Two of the clock.