§ LORD COLVILLE OF CULROSS
, in rising to call attention to the inferior nature of the light now exhibited at the north end of Portland Breakwater, and to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty, Whether, considering the importance of Portland as a harbour of refuge, it is intended to replace the existing red light by one of greater power? said, the breakwater was a work of which the nation might justly be proud. It included a very large area which was sheltered from almost every wind. It was much resorted to, and, as a harbour of refuge, it was made use of by vessels caught in bad weather in the Channel. The harbour was easy of access in clear weather; but at night, with bad weather, the reverse was the case. The red light at the north end of the breakwater was said to be visible at a distance of eight miles; but a short time ago, when he was on board a vessel running to Portland during what sailors called a dirty night, they were within two miles of the light before they could see it. On another occasion he was within a mile and a-half of the end of the breakwater on shore, when it was hardly possible to say whether the light was a red or a white one. Of all places in the world there ought to be a fine light at the point to which he had referred; and in any alteration which might be made this particular light should be distinguished from other lights in the harbour. He hoped the First Lord of the Admiralty (the Marquess of Ripon) would give his attention to the matter.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (The Marquess of RIPON)
said, it was no doubt the intention of those who established the light in question that it should be visible at a distance of eight miles. He thought the noble Lord would allow that that was a sufficient distance if the light fulfilled the objects intended. He understood that a light of this nature was affected more than a 624 white light by atmospheric influences; and it was possible that, on a bad night, the red light at the north end of Portland Breakwater would not be visible for eight miles. At the same time, the light should be visible at a very considerable distance from the point. If it could not be seen as it ought to be, there must be some defect in the light itself rather than any mistake as to the character or magnitude of the light adopted. Since his noble Friend had mentioned the matter, directions had been given to the harbour master to report fully on the character of the light; and if it appeared that it was in any respect defective, he would take care that it should be made a good and efficient light. He fully admitted the necessity of having such a light. It would not do to put a very strong white light in that position, as it might not be distinguished from other lights.