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Baroness David: My Lords, perhaps I may ask the Chairman of Committees about item 4 (the signalling of Divisions over the TV and radio channels on the annunciators). I do not quite understand what is going to happen which is different from what happens now. However, what happens now is totally unsatisfactory. One has to keep one's eye on the annunciator, which in itself may be difficult from where one is sitting and one can see only the revolving message. I think that the least that we could expect is to have annunciators for both the House of Commons and the House of Lords in every Committee Room in every part of the building. We have them in the Grand Committee Room and in one or two other rooms, but I think that it is essential that we have them in all. I cannot believe that that would involve colossal expense, but it would make life very much easier for those of us who attend all-party group meetings in every part of the building. Can the Chairman of Committees promise that that will happen soon?
Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe: My Lords, on 20th July 1995 the House debated the Fourth Report from the Select Committee on House of Lords Offices, when I questioned the criterion to be used in the painting of the House in Session. I was told that one could be included on payment of £150. I said that that was neither in keeping with the dignity of the House nor a worthy way to proceed. I also made the point that it could well be the last ever painting of the House in its present form and that we should therefore think carefully before going down the route of including only those noble Lords prepared to pay. As I pointed out on that occasion, noble Lords who perhaps attend only once or twice a year but who pay their money could be in the painting while other noble Lords who may be assiduous attenders but who may object to
Lord Strabolgi: My Lords, I must interrupt my noble friend because I did not support him then although I have supported him on other occasions. I did not support him then because I did not agree with what he was saying and I do not agree with what he is saying now.
I have discovered that only one painting of the House in Session has ever been commissioned by the House previously. That was the 1964 painting by Thomson. The arrangements for that painting were decided by the Offices Committee of the time. The agenda for 24th July 1963 shows that Item 1 is to consider the picture of the House in Session. The agenda states:
"two sleeping out of two hundred is not a bad average. After some discussion a vote is taken and on a show of hands seventeen members of the Committee are in favour of retaining the sleeping Peers and four against". The Minute does not state whether any Members of the Committee were asleep when the vote was taken.
Lord Boyd-Carpenter: My Lords, will my noble friend deal with the question of the request for £150 from whoever is to be included in the painting? I feel that for a picture to be painted of the House of Lords but for only those who pay £150 to be included in it, whatever may be their service to your Lordships' House, is an odd way to proceed. I would be grateful if my noble friend could explain why it is thought necessary
Lord Shepherd: My Lords, I speak as one of the relics of the earlier period to which reference has been made. (I see the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, also present, although I do not say that he is also one of the relics.) The portrait painted in 1962 or 1963 which is now in the Cholmondeley Room resulted from a decision by a committee of this House. The question was how the moneys in the window fund were to be spent. During the war a collection was made by noble Lords, and I believe that there was also some insurance money. The fund was raised so that if there was any bombing, moneys would be available for the replacement of the windows in the Chamber. Fortunately, the Chamber was not damaged during the war and those funds were available. It was thought best to dispense with the fund because it then had no great importance. It was decided that a portrait of the House, as it then was, should be painted, and there was no need to raise funds from those who participated in it for the artist who painted the picture.
If we want to have a portrait of the House today, I do not suppose that presently there are any funds available other than by raising them from Members. Whether or not, as my noble friend Lord Cocks has said, this is the right way to go about it, if a portrait is to be painted someone will have to pay for it. I share his view that it would represent an incomplete House if it were made up only of those who were prepared to pay a sum of money. I do not believe that the character of the House would be accurately reflected if, say, someone with £150 who comes up for Ascot gets his picture in the portrait. If the House wishes to proceed with it, I suspect that the portrait will not be of the same character as that painted by Thomson in 1963.
Lord Clark of Kempston: My Lords, does the noble Lord agree that a similar situation obtains in another place? It is impossible to get all Members into either Chamber. Consequently, not everyone could appear in the official portrait of the other place. Subsequently, what was known as "the other portrait" was painted. All the other Members were in that portrait. Surely this House could adopt the same principle.
The noble Lord, Lord Cocks, says that not all Members can get in. Of course we cannot; the Chamber is too small. But it would be possible to have another portrait featuring those Peers and Peeresses who cannot get into the original picture. In conclusion, the other portrait in the other place included the present Prime Minister.
Lord Marsh: My Lords, will the Lord Chairman of Committees reflect upon the fact that as this discussion continues it may reveal a picture of this House that not all of us may wish to see? Having heard all the arguments several times, could it not be considered by
Lord Strabolgi: My Lords, my noble friend Lord Shepherd spoke of the fund which was set up. I am absolutely certain that all of us had to pay for the 1962 painting by Thomson. I believe that the sum was about £15. Considering the inflation that has occurred since then, that is approximately equivalent to £150 today.
Lord Monkswell: My Lords, I should like to quote another precedent in support of my noble friend Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe. I refer to the painting of the House in 1895 which is just outside the Bishop's Bar, close to the Chamber. Noble Lords may be interested to know that that painting was subscribed for by a dozen Peers, who were presumably fairly affluent, and included a whole range of their colleagues. I am fairly certain that it was representative of the House in 1895. I claim interest in the fact that my ancestor, the second Lord Monkswell, appears in that portrait.
I also support my noble friend Lady David in her request for information about the announcement of Divisions. Perhaps I may ask the Lord Chairman of Committees whether it is planned to have an audible signal throughout the Palace of Westminster to signify Divisions in the House of Lords. Last night I missed a Division in your Lordships' House as a result of being in the precincts of the House of Commons conferring with parliamentary colleagues about the implications of the Government's Business Statement. Perhaps we may be given some assurance that in future there will be a distinct, audible signal of Divisions in the House of Lords.
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