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Accountability and Bathrooms

One aspect about the question of scrutiny is that the last time the House of Commons held back finance is reputed to be in 1919 when a proposed lift and bathroom at a cost of £3,800 for the Lord Chancellor was refused by a Standing Committee of the House.

I have found some references to this on the web from Punch of the era:
[A Standing Committee of the House of Commons has refused to vote £3,800 for a lift and a second bathroom in the proposed official residence of the LORD CHANCELLOR within the precincts of the House of Lords. In a letter to Sir ALFRED MOND Lord BIRKENHEAD wrote: "I am sure both yourself and the Committee will understand that my object in writing is to make it plain that I never asked anyone to provide me with a residence, and that I am both able and willing, in a house of my own, to provide my family and myself with such bathroom and other accommodation as may be reasonably necessary."]

I did not ask for it; I never yearned
Within the Royal Court to board and bed;
Like all the other honours I have earned,
I had this greatness thrust upon my head;
But if the Precincts are to be my lair
Then for my comfort Ministers must cater;
I want a second bath inserted there,
Also an elevator.

Daily fatigued by those official cares
Which my exalted dignity assumes,
I could not ask my feet to climb the stairs
Which link that mansion's three-and-thirty rooms;
And, if the Law must have so clean a fame
That none can point to where a speck of dust is,
A single bathroom cannot meet the claim
Of equitable Justice.

My wants are modest, you will please remark;
I crave no vintage of the Champagne zone,
No stalled chargers neighing for the Park,
No 9·5 cigars (I have my own);
I do not ask, who am the flower of thrift,
For Orient-rugs or "Persian apparatus";
Nothing is lacking save a bath and lift
To fill my soul's hiatus.

And, should my plea for reasonable perks
(Barely four thousand pounds) be flatly quashed;
Should kind Sir ALF, Commissioner of Works,
Be forced to leave me liftless and half-washed;
Then for these homely needs of which I speak,
Content with my old pittance from the nation,
In Grosvenor Square (or Berkeley) I will seek
Private accommodation.


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