THE BISHOP OF CAELISLE
, in rising to move for—A Return of the storms which have visited the British Islands between 1st January 1874 and 31st December 1883, and of which no warning has been issued from the Meteorological Office; with a notice of the quarter from which each unwarned storm has reached the coast,said, that if this were a mere question of science, some surprise might be felt at a Motion regarding it coming from that quarter of the House. He moved, however, in the matter on much higher ground—the ground of humanity. The Government had undertaken to supply the whole world with meteorological information; and it was quite clear that, having undertaken the work, the accuracy of these reports became a matter of national importance, and involved the lives of many of our seafaring population. As these warnings were much depended upon by people connected with nautical affairs, storms, in respect of which no warnings were issued, were, in a certain sense, more dangerous than formerly. He did not intend, by his Motion, to cast blame upon anyone connected with the Meteorological Office, the head of which he knew to be a man of much knowledge, who was animated with a keen enthusiasm for his work; but this he did say, that if it could be shown that there were any considerable number of storms in respect of which no kind of warning was issued, then it was a matter for serious consideration whether some improvement should not be made in the management of meteorological affairs as regarded that Office. He would especially instance a great storm of which no warning had been given, and which occurred in October, 1882. It was a storm of first-rate magnitude, of the most dangerous character, and it visited with especial severity the part of the country where he lived, and from inquiries he had made he had found that it was perfectly impossible to have foretold that storm from Valencia, or any other of 531 the meteorological stations around the coasts. He had an interview with Mr. Scott at the Meteorological Office soon after that storm, and Mr. Soott recommended him to consult a clergyman in his own diocese, who was as well acquainted with the subject as any man in England. This clergyman, had written him two letters, in which he strongly recommended the establishment of a station towards the south - south - west, which his correspondent thought would be the means of saving many lives. The conclusion he (the Bishop of Carlisle) had formed, from statistics furnished to him by the gentleman in question, was this —that a certain number of storms, estimated at nine or ten annually, crept through the present line of defences, with regard to which it was impossible for the Meteorological Office to supply warnings—that was, a storm about every six weeks. It might be hoped that the establishment of new stations and the adoption of other improvements would reduce the number of unwarned storms. He apprehended that there would be no difficulty, barring the expense, in increasing our staff, and in having a constant system of telegraphing, so that there might be no danger of a storm creeping unexpectedly on to our coasts, merely because it was crafty enough to come in the night time. From the two letters to which he had already referred, it appeared that in the south-south-west direction we had at present no observing station, and consequently any storm which came in that direction was pretty sure to arrive upon our coast unwarned. The Americans, in his opinion, managed things much better than we did, for in that country there was a chief signal officer belonging to the Army who made annually an interesting and a valuable Report to the military authorities on the whole subject of meteorology; and it was well worthy of consideration whether we might not take a hint from the American way of managing these affairs. The fact was, we required more stations and a more complete system of telegraphing; and, consequently, a greater expenditure would be rendered necessary. The increased expense constituted a difficulty which might be got over, and he hoped it would not prevent this great nautical country from doing her duty with regard to the question of storms. The right 532 rev. Prelate concluded by moving for the Return of which he had given Notice.
§ Moved, "That there be laid before this House* Return of the storms which have visited the British Islands between 1st January 1874 and 31st December 1883, and of which no warning has been issued from the Meteorological Office; with a notice of the quarter from which each unwarned storm has reached the coast."—(The Lord Bishop of Carlisle.)
said, the question was one of great importance, but he was not able that evening to give the right rev. Prelate a positive answer on the part of the Treasury as to what they would do in the matter; but he could assure him there was every desire on the part of the Treasury to take steps to compile such a Return, if it could possibly be done, and of meeting the necessities of the case if funds could be found for the purpose. It was not long since the Meteorological Office came under the control of the Treasury, as it used to be under the Board of Trade. If the right rev. Prelate would postpone his Motion for a few days, he hoped to be able to inform him definitely whether it was in the power of the Treasury to grant the Return for which he had moved.
THE EARL OF CARNARVON
said, he would suggest to the right rev. Prelate, that in order to make the Return more complete he should consider the desirability of enlarging the scope of his Motion so as to include storms of which warnings had been given, in order that they might be able to ascertain the percentage of failures.
THE BISHOP OF CARLISLE
said, he should be happy to consider the suggestion thrown out by the noble Earl, and would consent to postpone the Motion. He must, however, remark that it did not refer to prognostications which came from America, which were not, properly speaking, scientific, but to storms which had actually reached our coasts, but of which no warning had been issued from the Meteorological Office.
§ Motion (by leave of the House) withdrawn.