Motion made, and Question proposed
That a sum, not exceeding £36,379, 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, 1890, for the Buildings of the Houses of Parliament.
§ *MR. W. A. MACDONALD (Queen's County, Ossory)
Mr. Courtney, when I was interrupted in my remarks upon this vote the other night, I was endeavouring to point out the distinction, to me a very real one, between the ventilation of the House itself, and of the rest of the building. With regard to the ventilation of the House itself, I said, I did not wish to speak at any length, because I had not such scientific knowledge as would enable me to speak wisely upon the question, but I did not wish to be understood that I was by any means satisfied with the results achieved even in this Chamber. The effect produced in our heads very often is in itself sufficient to prove that we are suffering from bad ventilation. I am inclined to think that the hot air pumped into the House is not particularly conducive to health. But what I have been mainly considering is the ventilation of the rest of the building, and it seems to me that we labour under the great defect that the ventilation is not systematic, that there is no attempt to ventilate according to any definite rule or principle. Occasionally a window may be opened, and a door swung back, but, speaking generally, the House is hermetically sealed. The temperature of the House is kept up to a certain height, but I believe I am right in saying it is the opinion of those best competent to form a judgment, that reasonable changes of temperature are good for the human body. We may be breathing the most pestilential atmosphere, while the thermometer is register- 1879 ing what is supposed to be the proper temperature, namely, 64 degrees. I think we should be all healthier and better if we had an average mean temperature in the House of about 60 degrees. One source of the pestilential atmosphere is the employment of gas. I wish we could have the electric light—certainly in most parts of the building—although I do not mean to say that we should then get rid altogether of bad air. The introduction of the electric light may be costly, but then the constituencies of the country are interested in the health of their Representatives; they are interested in the legislators of the country having clear heads, good constitutions, and good tempers when discharging the work of the country. I think it is most important that the ventilation of the House should be confided to some instructed person. If we are to have thoroughly good ventilation, it must be scientific ventilation; it must be conducted upon a rational principle by one man who quite understands the matter. I beg to move the reduction of the Vote by £500.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item E, of £16,000, for Warming, Ventilating, Lighting, &c., be reduced by £500"—(Mr. W. A. Macdonald).
§ *THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS (Mr. PLUNKET,) Dublin University
I desire to say, in the first place, that I have never heard many of these points raised before tonight; in the second place, that the system of ventilation adopted, not only in this Chamber, but throughout these buildings generally, is according to the most approved principles of ventilation modern science has been able to suggest; and in the third place, that one officer, as able and experienced and trustworthy an officer as we could have, has charge of the whole establishment as regards ventilation. The hon. Gentleman has expressed a desire that the system of electric lighting should be carried further. The House is aware that we have since the last Session been able to extend the system of electric lighting to a certain extent, that is to say to the Members' entrance and to some of the rooms connected with the reporters' gallery. We hope during the Easter Recess to extend 1880 it to the Lobby outside this House and to some other portions of the buildings, but I do not think the Committee would approve of our entering upon a very large scheme of electric lighting in the present state of science on the subject.
COLONEL NOLAN (Galway)
I do not quite agree with the views of my hon. Friend (Mr. W. A. Macdonald), as to the ventilation of the House itself. My hon. Friend finds very little fault except in one particular; he thinks there ought to be a varying temperature. We have at the head of the Ventilating Department one of the most scientific men in England—indeed he is on the question of ventilation the standard authority in England—and at the present moment I understand that medical men recommend uniform temperature. I think that considering the immense number of people accommodated in this building, it is wonderful how well the place is ventilated. Personally, I should like to point out that the upper smoking room is continually overcrowded.
Then I will simply say I trust we shall have an extension of the system of electric lighting. It is no answer to us to say that the Office of Works are waiting until the system is properly developed. If the right hon. Gentleman is going to wait until such time as that, the electric light will be no use to the present Parliament. What is the use of our providing for the next Parliament? We have to provide for our comfort and health, and I think the First Commissioner of Works should see that, as soon as possible, the arrangements for a development of electric lighting in the House are extended.
§ MR. RADCLIFFE COOKE (Newington, W.)
I cannot help thinking the temperature of the House is kept too high. I have noticed that it is kept at 64 or 65 degrees, while in the Lobby the other night it was as high as 68 degrees. Unfortunately, I have had, during the last week, serious illness in my house, and the doctor ordered that the temperature of the sick room should be kept at 64 degrees. It occurs to me that if 64 degrees is a proper temperature for a sick room, it is scarcely a fit temperature for the House of Commons.
§ SIR W. FOSTER (Derbyshire, Ilkeston)
I must confess I was disappointed 1881 with the right hon Gentleman's statement as to the introduction of the electric light. Whatever be the condition of science, the Members of the House of Commons ought to have the advantage of the best form of light yet invented. When we remember that every gas burner—even of the most improved kind—consumes as much oxygen as five Members of the House, The will see that we ought to have all the gas burners not only in the House itself, but in the lobbies and other pans of the building, replaced by a means of lighting which would not interfere with the purity of the air. The right hon. Gentleman says this is the first time attention has been called to the bad atmosphere of the House. I remember that in the last Parliament we were obliged to suspend a sitting on account of the noxious atmosphere. It is essential that in this Chamber we should have the purest air, in order that we may bring to our work the best possible intellectual vigour. One cannot get that intellectual vigour and clearness of sight which we need unless we breathe the purest atmosphere. The general temperature of the House is not conducive to vigorous intellectual effort. It is probably five or six degrees too high. But when we leave the House and pass into the outer apartments, especially the Division Lobbies, and the Lobby just outside, the atmosphere is still worse. We do not have the building flushed with fresh air as it ought to be. Every part ought to be flushed every night and morning, and on Tuesdays between the morning and evening sittings. I have noticed that when hon. Members make speeches in this Chamber they always require some kind of beverage to sustain them in the effort. That is mainly due to the fact that the atmosphere we breathe is unnaturally dry. The right hon. Gentleman says the ventilation of the House is conducted on the most approved scientific principles. I know a little about ventilation. It has been a study of mine for many years, and I have never had much faith in scientific ventilation. I believe an open window or an open door is after all the best form of ventilation. When one goes through the hospital wards, as I do every other day, often during the Session, I find an open window the best system of ventilation. 1882 I should like to see a similar means of ventilation adopted here, even at the risk of producing a draught. I have observed that the complexions of hon. Members become bleached by continuous attendance in the House, and I believe that a cooler and moister air in the House, its rooms and lobbies, would conduce to the efficiency of the work, the personal comfort and the longevity of the Members of the House, of the officers of the House, and of those engaged in reporting the Debates. On that account I urge very strongly on the right hon. Gentleman the introduction of electric light and a larger flushing with pure air of the House and the adjoining apartments.
§ MR. TATTON EGERTON (Cheshire, Knutsford)
I thick that the system of ventilation is as nearly perfect as it can be. What is wrong is the source of the air with which the House is supplied. That air is already vitiated instead of being fresh and pure. Indeed, it has already been breathed before we breathe it. The subject is worthy of being reported upon by a Committee, and a Committee on which I served, which was known as the "Stink Committee," was anxious to make the necessary inquiry, but was precluded from doing so. If the House can be supplied with purer air, that alone would do something to preserve the health and prolong the life of Members.
§ *MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
The point I wish to raise is, comparatively speaking, a small one, namely, the lighting in the Dining Room, which is open to Members and their friends. The electric light there is so bad that on several occasions candles have had to be placed on some of the side tables. I have already made this the subject of formal written complaint to the Kitchen Committee, and trust that it may receive attention from the First Commissioner.
§ DR. FITZGERALD (Longford, S.)
I wish to support my hon. Friend (Mr. W. A. Macdonald) in his protest against the scientific torture which is inflicted upon Members of the House by means of what I can prove to be vitiated atmosphere. The symptoms which a man experiences when he obtains a seat in the House are most trying, but they are nothing, after all, to the symptoms he experiences when he has the honour to catch your eye. First of all, he sits 1883 here possibly for a couple of hours. His pulse becomes weak, the action of his heart becomes slow. There is no doubt—as you, Sir, have no doubt observed from time to time—a difficulty in breathing. Any keen observer will notice that hon. Gentlemen who sit on these Benches are breathing more or less from their abdominal regions. There is a curious sensation of hunger, and one cannot eat when food is presented to him. The whole system culminates in the state of coma, which we often see exhibited by Gentlemen who sit on the Benches below the Gangway. These are the undoubted symptoms of poisoning by carbonic acid gas, and the air which produces these symptoms must be very heavily charged with the gas. Well, Sir, there are many ways of ventilating the chamber. You may do it in a natural, and you may do it in an unnatural way, but, I think, of all the pieces of scientific blundering that was ever perpetrated upon an intelligent body of men, it is that which has been adopted in ventilating this Chamber. I am told, and I believe it cannot very well be contradicted, that the air which we breathe here is obtained from the cellars. Now, Sir, I am sure you will agree with me that there is nothing in the world which keeps well in a cellar but wine. This air, passing into the House, is charged with carbonic acid gas which passes through the floor in an unnatural way, and in so doing it obtains a double charge of the gas, which is in turn thrown out through the skins of hon. Members. Surely you do not want to be scientists to know that this carbonic acid gas must go somewhere. It is bad enough that it should be inflicted upon us, but you must remember it passes through the gratings into the ladies' gallery; and therefore you are not only poisoning yourselves, but you are poisoning those poor ladies who are good enough to come down here. Now you will say it is of no use complaining about the ventilation unless you can suggest a remedy. I propose presently to suggest a remedy, and hope that it will be put into operation. No man in his senses, except one suffering from acute bronchitis, would live in an atmosphere of over 60 degrees, and here, therefore, we have proof in the first place that scientists are humbugs, and in the second 1884 place, that we are being scientifically poisoned. What is the result of living in an atmosphere of 64 degrees, and in a vitiated atmosphere like this? It is the symptoms of which I have spoken, and the effects are twofold. They are present, and they are remote. I have referred to the present; to the remote I propose now to call attention. After you have sat in this House for six, eight or ten months, your head becomes as bare as a billiard ball, and I think it may be observed that four-fifths of the Members of this House cannot read without glasses, and are, in fact, half blind. Now, this is a clear case of poisoning by carbonic acid gas. Thousands of pounds have been spent on the ventilation of this Chamber, but I am going to perform a service to this country, and to Parliament, by suggesting a remedy gratuitously, and I think that remedy can be applied at a cost of from £20 to £30. Let those scientific gentlemen, for whom I have great respect, accept my remedy if they will. In the first place, you must get out of the foggy atmosphere of science, and you must walk into the clear air of common sense. Let your carpenters get to work during the Recess, and stop up those holes in the floor which let up the air; open your windows, which constitute the proper outlet for the carbonic acid gas, and then, without having recourse to science, hon. Members will be able to sit here in comfort, and listen to the speeches of their colleagues, while I am perfectly certain that the ladies who come down will be very much benefited by the change of atmosphere.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)
I must express the extreme surprise I felt when I heard the right hon. Gentleman say he had never heard of these complaints before. Why, Sir, we hear complaints night after night on this matter. It was an acknowledged fact that for many years the House contained the worst possible air; the scientific gentlemen in charge of the ventilation had been pumping up the air from the drain, and I am bound to say that since the Committee caused that drain to be stopped up, a very great improvement has been effected. I heartily endorse the proposition of my hon. Friend, that the Committee should be allowed to go a little further and to look to the upper, as well as to 1885 the under, ventilation of the House. I remember it being remarked in one debate that we wanted a little of God's air instead of Dr. Percy's air. Why should we have this artificial air from Dr. Percy, instead of being allowed to have God's air? While I am speaking, I should like to ask how it is that, while the electric light has been extended in this House, there has been a simultaneous increase in the charge for gas? The gas companies are even worse tyrants than the water companies, for they get a good price for an article which is invariably bad, and I therefore think we are entitled to know why, while there is a large increase in the charge for electric light, there is an addition of £840 to the charge for gas?
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
I wish to ask a question in regard to the electric light. I see it has been introduced into the entrance Lobby, and I wish to know why it should not be extended to the Cloak Room? This point was brought up last year, and it was then pointed out that the architectural beauties of that room were being spoiled, owing to blackening by the gas. I do not think the extension of the electric light would be very expensive, and it would undoubtedly preserve a portion of the House in which we all take great interest, and which is one of the finest parts of it, architecturally speaking. I would also ask the right hon. Gentleman if he will not reconsider his decision which he has just announced in regard to the further extension of the light? He suggests that we had better wait until we can get a perfected system; but, Sir, you will have to wait until Doomsday if you wait for that; and I think it would be absurd to postpone the general use of the light until then. Why, the railways would never have arrived at their present pitch of perfection in locomotion if originally it had been decided to wait for a perfected system. And then, Sir, I come to the question of oil lamps. This matter has been raised on several occasions in connection with this Vote; and I must say it is an extraordinary thing that whilst we are paying so much money for the electric light and for gas we should also be paying £2,000 a-year for oil lamps These lamps in use are supplied to the Committee Rooms, to the Lobbies, and 1886 to the Reporters' Rooms, and so on. They are very dangerous and inconvenient, and I think it would be a great advantage if gas or the electric light could be substituted for them. As far as the general question of the ventilation of the Chamber is concerned, I have noticed that when the Chamber is not occupied, the windows are kept closed. Now, I hope that orders will be given that they shall be thrown open when the House is empty, in order that fresh air may be introduced. I do not desire to cast any reflection on the character or ability of those who are entrusted with the ventilation of the Chamber, but I think we have the fullest right, when the Vote comes up, to discuss these matters, and I hope that some of the suggestions which have been thrown out in the course of the debate will be carefully considered.
§ MR. O'HEA (Donegal, W.)
I consider that the discussion has been a very useful one. The hon. Member for Ilkeston, in referring to the atmosphere of this House, spoke of it as having a tendency to make people prematurely old. Well, I have been a Member of the House nearly four years. When I entered it my hair was perfectly black; now it is almost white. But that is not all. Last year, having been in constant attendance from the beginning of the Session till the middle of July, I left England invalided, and for four weeks I was confined to my bed, while my convalescence occupied another four weeks, and I thoroughly believe, Mr. Courtney, that this was due to breathing the poisonous atmosphere of the House. I am only glad that by the mercy of Providence I have been sufficiently restored to resume my labours.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
I rise, Sir, to reassure the constituents of the hon. Gentleman who has spoken lest they should imagine there is a probability we shall all perish and die. I, for my part, consider the ventilation of this House to be absolutely perfect. Statistics, Mr. Courtney, are in my favour; for they show there is nothing which conduces so much to longevity as being a Member of this House and sitting in it during long hours. We have been told that the air comes up from the cellars charged with carbonic acid gas. But, Sir, the air does not come up from the cellars; it enters at the open- 1887 ing at the end of this Chamber, and instead of passing through the Ladies' Gallery, it goes through the suspenders above. We have been told that the windows ought to be opened. Why, Sir, that would make a draught downwards, and disorganize the whole system; it would destroy the perfect ventilation which we now enjoy. There is, however, one little point I wish to call attention to. Rain is now pouring through into the Opposition Lobby. I do not know whether that is a deeply laid scheme on the part of the Government to swamp the Opposition. In conclusion, I wish to say that Dr. Percy is a gentleman who thoroughly understands the system of ventilation, and it is hard that we should denounce him when his system is as near perfection as possible.
§ *MR. PLUNKET
I should have spoken before in order to disabuse the minds of hon. Members of the feeling of terror probably produced by some of the speeches, had it not been for a hope that terror might cause an immediate exodus of Members and that the discussion should in that way be brought to an end. But, Sir, I can confirm the statement of the hon. Member for Northampton that the air we breathe is the purest that can be brought from outside the House, and it is carried away—not through the Ladies' Gallery, but through the roof. I have been asked as to the electric light in the Dining Room. We have tried the experiment of dispersing the light in the different corners of one room, and as a result the light will be similarly dispersed throughout the other Dining Rooms with as little delay as possible. The reason why the electric light system had not been carried out more completely in this House, is that hitherto we have not been quite clear whether it would be cheaper to manufacture the electric light for ourselves than to take it from one of the electric lighting companies. We are still watching the development of that question, but in the meantime we are extending the light as much as with our present plant we can. As to this year's Estimate for gas showing an increase over that provided for in last year's Estimate, it is accounted for, first, in calculating the amount that may be required, we must remember the gas burned during the 1888 Autumn Session; and, secondly, by the fact that more rooms are now lighted with gas, and that in the Reporters' and other Rooms several gas fires have been introduced. Further than that, there is a general demand for more brilliant light; for instance, within the last few years the amount of gas burned in the Lobby outside this Chamber has increased 100 per cent.
§ *MR. W. A. MACDONALD
I think that we, the Party of reform, who are not confined to one side of the House, have some reason to complain of the spirit in which we have been met by the First Commissioner of Works. He has altogether denied the reality of our complaints, and, I suppose, doubts their reality still, in spite of the medical testimony that has been brought forward. Now, the hon. Member for Northampton has not replied to my arguments; my speech referred, not to the ventilation of this House, but to the air in the remainder of the building. If the right hon. Gentleman had met us in a spirit of concession and promised that some attention should be paid to this matter, I should not have persisted in my opposition, but I regret that it will now be necessary to divide the Committee.
§ MR. W. M'ARTHUR (Cornwall, Mid.)
My attention has been called to the item of £2,000 for oil lamps. That strikes me as rather heavy, for if you had five hundred lamps in use, and you burnt, say, a shillingsworth of oil per week in each—which I think is an outside estimate—you would, in thirty weeks, spend only £750. I think there must be some serious waste in this item. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will look into this matter.
§ *MR. PLUNKET
This question has been raised several times. I may point out that the charge is not only for oil, but also for the hire of the lamps, and I cannot hold out any immediate hope of reducing the item.
§ MR. W. M'ARTHUR
I ask hon. Members as men of business if there is any sense in an Assembly like this hiring its oil lamps? I should like to know what we pay for the hire. I fancy if any one of us wanted lamps in our houses we should be looked on as fit for Bedlam if we started by hiring the lamps. I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he would amplify his statement by telling us 1889 where he hires the lamps, and what he pays for them?
§ MR. R. POWER (Waterford)
Practically, my hon. Friend's Amendment amounts to a Vote of Censure on the First Commissioner of Works; but my hon. Friend has made some mistakes. The present system of ventilation was invented some 35 years ago, and three or four Committees have sat on the question. It is universally admitted that no one more competent to manage this system could be found than Dr. Percy. The variations in temperature are settled by the Speaker or the Chairman, as the case may be, and the censure, if any, should be directed against them. I would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman that the Committee of last year should be re-appointed, and then perhaps my hon. Friend would withdraw his Amendment.
§ MR. FITZGERALD (Longford, S.)
I do not wish to reflect in any way upon Dr. Percy, but I say that Dr. Percy is deceived by the atmosphere of scientific knowledge in which he is moving. I decline to believe that the carbonic acid gas that is generated in this Chamber can be conveyed through the ten little pipes in the ceiling. It is a fallacy. We are being poisoned—there is no doubt about it—and until we have the House ventilated upon some scientific principle we shall continue to be poisoned.
§ *MR. W. A. MACDONALD
If the right hon. Gentleman will re-appoint the Committee, I will not press the matter to a division. I may say that I do not wish to make a personal attack upon anybody, but merely to assert the great principle of healthy sanitation.
§ Question put and negatived.
§ Original question again proposed.
MR. R. C. MUNRO FERGUSON (Leith, &c.)
Last year the question was raised as to placing Reports of the proceedings of this House in the different lobbies and rooms where Members spend the intervals of their time; and, in order to take the sense of the Committee on the question, I beg to move the reduction of the Vote by £50. It is a 1890 great inconvenience when Members are in the Lobby or other parts of the House not to know what is going on here. The numbers of the House are so inordinately large that it is impossible for us all to find places here, even if we would. A great many speeches are made to which very few people desire to listen, and it would effect a very great economy of time if hon. Members could arrange to come in at the time when they felt their presence was required. A good many speeches would, I think, be spared if hon. Members were not forced to loiter about the House in order to discover the exact minute at which their presence here is needed. The fact of who presides, of who is addressing the House, and the course of the debate ought, I think, to be posted, either through the tape machine or in some other way, in the Lobbies, Smoking Rooms, etc. The only objection I have heard urged against the proposal has come from the Whips. I do not think everything can be sacrificed to the Whips, and I beg to move the reduction.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £36,329, be granted for the said Service."—(Mr. Munro Ferguson.)
§ *MR. PLUNKET
I think there is a great deal to be said in favour of the proposal of the hon. Member, and I have more than once expressed that opinion in this House. I prepared at one time a scheme for the purpose of giving effect to such a proposal, but decided opposition was threatened from many different quarters and it was abandoned. If there was a sufficient apparent unanimity, or even the opinion of a considerable majority, in favour of the change, I would certainly do my best to have it carried out. It is not necessary to reduce the Vote by £50. Let the hon. Gentleman satisfy me that there is a considerable majority of the House in favour of the proposal, and I will endeavour to deal with it.
§ *MR. S. GEDGE (Stockport)
I must say I do not see why we should depart from our Constitutional mode of expressing our opinions in this House. It is not competent for an hon. Member to move an increase of the Vote or I am sure we would gladly do so on this matter. That being so, the only thing 1891 we can do is to vote for a reduction. No doubt this House is worse supplied with news of what is done inside it than any place in London. If you go home to dine and want to know what is going on in the House, you are obliged to go to your Club. If, like good boys, you come straight to the House, in obedience to your Whip, all you can do is to hang about in the hope of finding out what has happened. I hope that telegraphic information will be given to us, and that my right hon. Friend (Mr. Plunket) will not press upon us the idea that if we want anything we are to get up "round robins" to the Government. Perhaps my right hon. Friend will be able to induce the telegraph companies to give us the information gratis if he is hard pressed. We supply them with information, and it is not too much to ask that they should give us reports of our proceedings.
§ MR. S. BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
Whilst I should be glad to obtain an addition to our present means of knowing what has happened in the House, I am totally opposed to the suggestion of my hon. Friend (Mr. Munro Ferguson) that we should have information telegraphed over the building as to what is going on at the moment. I do not think that the present attendance of hon. Members in the House is too great except on big occasions, and I believe the adoption of my hon. Friend's proposal would tend to diminish that attendance rather than to increase it. Of course we should all rush in if we knew that my hon. Friend was going to speak, but as far as humble individuals like myself are concerned, our only chance of getting an audience is to wait in the House until chance favours us. I trust that the Amendment will be pressed to a division, and that it will be rejected.
§ MR. A. PEASE (York)
I believe that Sir E. Buxton, when a Member of this House, got up a memorial in favour of a proposal of this kind, and that it was signed by a very large number of Members on both sides. A distinct declaration was then made from the Government Bench in favour of giving Members some facilities of the kind. For my own part, I strongly support the proposal that such facilities should be given.
MR. J. S. GATHORNE HARDY (Kent, Medway)
If we are to consider the convenience of Members who will not take the trouble to be in the House we had better have telephones to all the rooms, so that hon. Members could hear the debates without entering the House at all. It seems to me it is an absurdity to suppose that hon. Members who do not sit in the House can be kept continually posted up in what is going on.
§ MR. H. GARDNER (Essex, Saffron Walden)
I heartily support the proposal of my hon. Friend the Member for Leith (Mr. Munro Ferguson); but if the right hon. Gentleman will give us any assurance that this very useful reform can be carried out, I hope my hon. Friend will not proceed to a division.
§ Question put and negatived.
§ Original Question again proposed.
MR. PHILIPPS (Lanark, Mid)
I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works whether it is not possible to remove the grating from the Ladies' Gallery. The strangers who find seats above the clock are allowed to watch the proceedings of the House without having a screen interposed between them and us, and I do not see why the ladies at the other end of the room should not be permitted to do the same. Only 24 ladies are allowed to come here at once, and only those in the front row can see what is going on. It seems to me to be a ridiculous thing to keep the grating where it is.
MR. G. A. CAVENDISH BENTINCK (Whitehaven)
I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner whether any steps have been taken to place the control of the whole of this building under one Minister. A portion of the Houses of Parliament are at present under the control of the hereditary Great Chamberlain, and it was by the leave of the hereditary Great Chamberlain that a statue was erected in the Central Hall, which greatly interferes with and disfigures its beauty. The Great Chamberlain is an official over whom Parliament has no control whatever, and I wish to know whether any steps have been taken to place the building under the control of one official?
§ *MR. PLUNKET
The subject of the Ladies' Gallery has been very frequently raised in this House, 1893 and I do not think the House is in favour of any alteration in the direction suggested by the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Philipps). In answer to my right hon. Friend (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) I have to say that no step has been taken to interfere with the jurisdiction of the Lord Chamberlain.
As the right hon. Gentleman seems to have no reason for refusing to remove the grating, except that the House has never pronounced in favour of its removal, I think the best thing is to give the House an opportunity of pronouncing an opinion on the subject; and I therefore move to reduce the Vote by £100.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum not exceeding £36,279 be granted for the said Services."—(Mr. Philipps.)
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
I do not know whether my hon. Friend has proposed this reduction in the interests of Members or of the ladies. My own opinion is that the ladies would prefer to have the grating. I do not think we are so particularly ornamental that they desire further facilities to look at us; and whilst they have the grating in front of them they can be more at their ease, and need not unless they wish come in evening dress. I should like to know whether my hon. Friend has polled the ladies on the subject. I do not think they desire the removal of the grating; and I shall therefore vote against the Amendment.
*SIR E. N. FOWLER (London)
I recollect that, twenty years ago, on the Motion of Mr. Samuelson, brother of the hon. Member for the Forest of Dean (Mr. G. B. Samuelson), we had a great debate on this subject, and decided against removing the grill. I do not see why the House should differ now from the decision then arrived at.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 73 Noes 192.—(Div. List, No. 66.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. HERBERT GARDNER (Essex Saffron Walden)
I have given notice of an Amendment by the reduction of the Vote, which I hope I may not be obliged to move, attention being giver to my request. Hon. Members who have occasion to visit the Tea Room 1894 during the afternoon know how inconveniently crowded it frequently is, so that Members cannot find a place at the tables, and are detained an unreasonable time from the House. Eight tables, with four chairs each, give but 32 places for the whole of the Members of the House, and the addition of chairs and tables will not meet the requirements. I would suggest that the room in which the papers are now laid out should be added to the Tea Room and that the papers should be placed in the Library. It would be a simple change to make, and a much larger number of us would then be able to take tea at the same time. The hon. Baronet the Member for Cockermouth (Sir W. Lawson) and friends of the Temperance movement should support me in this, because if Members fail to find accommodation in the Tea Room they are driven to other places where drinks are supplied of not so harmless a character. I beg to move the reduction of the Vote by £75.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £36,304, be granted for the said Service,"—(Mr. Herbert Gardner.)
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
I can hardly agree with my hon. Friend. It was in 1882, I think, that, mainly through the alliance between the noble Lord the Member for Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) and myself, it was agreed we should have a Smoking Room on the same floor with this House. It was agreed we should have the Tea Room as a Smoking Room, and a very fair Smoking Room it would be. But a much respected Member of this House, Mr. Beresford Hope, opposed the proposal, and got up a "round robin" against it. The present Smoking Room would then have become the Tea Room. But then we are still in the same Smoking Room, hugger-mugger, from 30 to 80 together at one time in a room much too small, and often when we retire from the excitement of debate here, for the soothing influence of nicotine, we cannot find a vacant seat. Of late, much accommodation is required by Gentlemen engaged in chess. I do not object to chess, but let us have a Smoking Room and a Chess Room in some proportion to the numbers of Members using it, and we can give 1895 up the present Smoking Room to the tea drinkers. We should have had it in 1882 but for the deference paid to the wishes of the late Mr. Beresford Hope, and I hope now that the First Commissioner of Works, whom I sometimes see looking through the heavy atmosphere of the Smoking Room with an expression of pity and despair on his face, will give us some hope that a better arrangement will be made.
§ *MR. PLUNKET
It is only within the last few days that I explained to the Committee, in relation to another Vote, that, as one result of the opening of new rooms on the other side of Westminster Hall, I should be able to provide an additional smoking room for Members of this House, and I do submit that, considering how long this Vote has been under discussion, the question of whether the tea should be taken to the Smoking Room, or the smoke to the Tea Room, should not further detain the Committee.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ (2.) £110,824, to complete the sum for Public Buildings, Great Britain.
§ *MR. MONTAGU (Tower Hamlets, Whitechapel)
The Tower of London comes within the limits of my constituency, and I propose to move a reduction of this Vote by way of giving expression to opinion on a matter that concerns the inhabitants of Whitechapel. I have to ask why the public are excluded from the riverside promenade, access to which they enjoyed in former times. Two years ago I presented to the Secretary for War a petition, signed by 5,000 of my constituents, praying that the public might have free access to the Tower Gardens also to the riverside promenade. I thankfully acknowledge that the first request was granted, and in consequence, thousands of the inhabitants of the East End, principally of the working classes, have enjoyed these gardens, laid out by the Metropolitan Public Gardens Association at a cost of £1,000, and maintained at an annual expenditure of £150. The expense of maintenance would be considerably reduced if the Tower authorities would direct the attendance in the Gardens of a couple of Beefeaters to act as caretakers. The duties would not be onerous, and the uniform of the Yeomen of the Guard would be an additional attraction. The 1896 concession made by the Secretary for War was made in an economical spirit, he stipulated that the laying out of the garden should not be a source of public expense; therefore, the money had to be obtained from outside sources. It is perhaps a similar economical spirit that prevents a military band playing there in the summer. Last year, a police band played there every Saturday, and this year it has been arranged that they shall play every alternate Saturday. I applied to the Constable of the Tower to fill up the gaps by allowing the military band to play on the other Saturdays, but he replied that the band was occupied at the West End of the town. I do not doubt that the band is more pleasantly and profitably employed, but they would be more usefully employed in giving enjoyment to the people of the East End, whose opportunities of musical enjoyment are more rare. Then the use of the riverside promenades is refused. The reason assigned is that war stores are landed there. This is a very old story—
§ *MR. PLUNKET
The hon. Gentleman will forgive me for interrupting him, but the question cannot be appropriately raised on this Vote—it comes under the War Office Vote.
§ *MR. MONTAGU
I apprehend that access to the Tower Gardens might well be discussed under this Vote?
It is a question of fact what portion of the expenditure upon the Tower comes under Item B. If the First Commissioner says the grounds are not referred to under the item, then it would not be proper to discuss the question.
§ MR. MUNRO FERGUSON (Leith, &c.)
I take the opportunity of calling the attention of the First Commissioner to the want of facilities for seeing the public records in the Record Office. It is proposed to bring in the electric light, and I think the public might derive some advantage from a better exhibition of these records. At Paris, in the Palais d'Archives there is the most interesting collection in Europe perhaps, and so arranged that the history of France for centuries can be read in the actual documents inclosed in glass cases 1897 along the walls. In the Record Office nteresting documents are stowed away, and quite inaccessible, owing to the unfitness of the building for exhibition. In France the collection is open on certain days to the public, other days being reserved for scientific men, and I trust it may be possible to allow our Record Office to do some educational work, that the public may derive some advantage from the collection.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (3.) £4,500, to complete the sum for the Admiralty, Extension of Buildings.
§ (4.) £12,800, to complete the sum for Furniture of Public Offices, Great Britain.
§ (5.) £210,614, to complete the sum for Revenue Department Buildings, Great Britain.
§ (6.) £24,740, to complete the sum for County Court Buildings.
§ (7.) £22,000, to complete the sum for Metropolitan Police Court Buildings.
§ (8.) £6,717, to complete the sum for Sheriff Court Houses, Scotland.
§ (9.) £175,000, to complete the sum for Surveys of the United Kingdom.
§ MR. MUNRO FERGUSON (Leith, &c.)
I should like to ask whether there is any prospect of the new survey of Scotland proceeding at a more rapid pace than has marked its progress of late?
§ *MR. PLUNKET
Yes. I answered a question on this subject the other day, and was able to assure the hon. Member who asked me that as soon as the survey of Lancashire and Yorkshire is completed, which will be within the next two years, then three or four divisions of the Survey Staff will be at once applied to a re-survey of those six counties of Scotland in which the hon. Member is, I think, principally interested. With a view to facilitating the work a Survey Office will be opened at Edinburgh.
§ MR. M. J. KENNY (Tyrone, Mid)
May I ask if any progress has been made with the Survey in Ireland, or what the Government propose on that subject? Further, I would ask whether any new maps have been produced for the use of the Land Court in Ireland? Also, I would suggest that new maps should be produced at a price that would 1898 bring them within the reach of suitors in the Court. At present an exorbitant price is charged—a prohibitory price so far as suitors are concerned.
§ *MR. PLUNKET
Yes; the Survey is proceeding satisfactorily in Ireland. The hon. Member probably knows the revision of the Survey on the 6-inch scale has been proceeding for some time; but by order of the Treasury in 1887 the revision will in future be made, and is now being made, on the 25-inch scale.
§ MR. HALDANE (Haddington)
Are we definitely to understand that Lancashire and Yorkshire are the only two English counties of which the Surrey is not complete; and that when these two counties are completed, proceedings will be taken immediately for surveying the six remaining counties of Scotland?
§ MR. BLANE (Armagh, S.)
I would press the question of my hon. Friend as to the expensiveness of the Government maps, which prevent their use being availed of in the Courts. Seeing that Parliament votes money for the Survey, I cannot, for the life of me, see why such a high rate should be charged for copies of these maps. The cost of the smallest map is, I believe, £1 10s., and that is the amount, perhaps, of several years' reduction of rent on a holding. I would impress upon the Department the issue of cheaper maps for the use of suitors.
§ *MR. PLUNKET
The state of the case is that maps were produced for the Land Court at considerable expense, and are often used by the suitors. It is supposed that the expense is recoverable from the parties to the different suits in the Land Court; but it has, unfortunately, been found very difficult to make this sum really available. Again and again the outstanding balances have been so large that attention has been called to them by the Public Accounts Committee. In 1880, the outstanding balances were £10,667 odd, and on December 31, 1888, they had risen to £13,000 odd. I am afraid it is not possible to promise anything further on the subject.
§ MR. BLANE
Why should not the Government prepare cheap maps? Poor 1899 tenants who appear before the Land Commission Court endeavouring to obtain a reduction of rent, have to show their holdings on draftings transferred on parchment from the Ordnance maps, and these often cost more than several years of the reductions ultimately granted. The smallest of these maps, I believe, costs £1 10s., which is a very serious item for these poor people to have to pay.
§ *MR. P. S. STEVENSON (Suffolk, Eye)
Will not the right hon. Gentleman consider the desirability of making these maps more acceptable and available to a large class of persons than is at present the case? In those countries where there is a compulsory system of land registration maps are kept in the Post Offices and other public places, and the public can consult them, in some cases, for a small fee, and in other cases for no fee at all. This system does not prevail in England; but I cannot help thinking that if it did it would be of great convenience to people who desire to consult maps of their own localities from time to time. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will take into his favourable consideration the advisability of adopting some such scheme as this.
§ MR. M. J. KENNY
The question I raised was not as to litigants in the Landed Estates Court, but those before County Courts and Judges of Assize. At the present moment it is impossible to obtain an Ordnance Survey map in Ireland on the smallest question of title for less than £1 10s. I say that that is an absurd charge, and amounts very often to absolute injustice being done to a poor litigant. The 63,000 cases in arrear in the Landed Estates Court are due to the action of the Land Registry itself, who require these maps to be put in as evidence.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
I do not gather from the statement in the Estimates that much is realized from the sale of these maps. The right hon. Gentleman said the cheapest cost is £1 10s. for a portion of a district or a county. It is an old system on the part of the Government to have large profits and small sales, but what we would desire to see would be large sales and small profits. The paper on which these maps are printed does not cost 30s.; but a certain amount of the cost of getting up the Survey is charged on each 1900 map sold, and the result is that poor people cannot buy them. The Surveys cost much more than is realized by the maps, and I think we ought to stretch a point and let the cost of survey be a little more, so long as the result will be to cheapen the price of the maps.
§ *MR. PLUNKET
The cost of preparing the maps is only that of paper and printing. Nothing is charged for the Survey of which these maps are the result. I do not think it would be reasonable for anyone to expect to get the maps for less than is at present charged.
§ *MR. PLUNKET
That which costs 30s. is I believe a drawing of a particular holding. I am speaking of the ordinary Survey available to all the country for all purposes. The maps are produced as cheaply as possible.
§ *MR. F. S. STEVENSON
Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the advisability of sending the maps down to the localities? He might send them to the most populous localities first, and afterwards to the less populous parts of the country.
§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
I always refrain from giving unnecessary trouble to the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works, who is invariably most courteous in his answers, but I must ask for some explanation as regards one of these sub-heads. I desire to know how it is that there is a large decrease in the pay of labourers connected with the Ordnance Survey, and I must say I do not know why it should be left to an Irish Member to ask the question? I find there is a decrease of £7,440 in the pay of the poor labourers who do the work, and I wish to know how it comes about. I think we are entitled to inquire into these small items, especially as in one direction we notice an increase, and as the answers we get are frequently of a very unsatisfactory character.
§ *MR. PLUNKET
The Survey to which the Item "A" refers is approaching its completion; therefore, it is not necessary to employ as much labour in connection with it now as has been essential in the 1901 past. The increase the hon. Member has referred to is owing to the fact that we did not take quite enough money last year, and we are anxious this year to avoid that unfortunate state of things.
§ DR. TANNER
I am afraid I cannot remain satisfied with that answer, although the right hon. Gentleman has given it with his usual courtesy. I do not like taking up the time of the Committee on such a small matter, but this discussion will, I think, show that it is impossible to get a satisfactory explanation from the people who are spending the money of the taxpayers.
§ *Mr. CREMER (Shoreditch, Haggerston)
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will explain how it is that under Item "A," which has reference to "the staff," which, I believe, includes the well-paid officials, who do the least work and get the best pay, there is only a reduction of £80, whilst there is such a great reduction under Item "C," which covers the labourers. I hope that on grounds of fairplay the right hon. Gentleman will give us some explanation of this.
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, since we had this Vote under consideration last year, he has given any attention to the question of the possibility of making better arrangements for the sale of the Ordnance Survey maps? Dissatisfaction has been expressed on more than one occasion with the monopoly certain houses possess in the sale of these maps, and it has been pointed out that it would tend very much to the convenience of the public generally if the agencies for the sale of the Ordnance maps were extended. I would ask also if the right hon. Gentleman has had an opportunity of considering, since we discussed that Vote last year, the suggestion I made that special attention should be extended to the mining districts of the country in regard to this matter of Survey?
The hon. Member was reminded last year that the Geological Survey is not under this Vote.
§ MR. CONYBEARE
I was led into the error by seeing the words "Engraving the Geological Survey" in the Estimate. However, I will bring the sub- 1902 ject on under a Vote for the Science and Art Department.
§ *MR. PLUNKET
The reduction under Sub-head "C" is not so much for labour as Civil Assistants. It is necessary to employ a staff to supervise the revision of the Survey as it is going on, and the course we are now adopting is the result of experiments we have made. We believe that the system we have adopted is the best for the convenience of the public.
§ Vote agreed to.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £7,210, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1890, for the Expenses of the Erection and Maintenance (including Rents, &c.) of Buildings for the Department of Science and Art.
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again,"—(Mr. Arthur Acland,)—Put, and agreed to.