HC Deb 01 March 1838 vol 41 cc329-32
Sir Frederick Trench

begged to draw the attention of the House to a project which he was desirous to submit to the House for the abatement of a most annoying nuisance within the walls of Parliament. He had to offer an experiment for the better ventilation and lighting of that House, an object in which they were all interested as respected their comfort, their convenience, and their health. He had been given to understand that the project which had been tried for lighting the House by gas a short time since had failed, and that the whole of the expensive apparatus had been removed. A scientific gentleman, a Mr. Gye, had suggested a mode of producing a beautiful light in the House by an ingenious admixture of two gases in such exact proportions, that he (Sir Frederick Trench) though he was no philosopher, could easily divine, that if the exact proportion of these gases were not adjusted by some persons always on guard, who were philosophers, or if the person on duty fell asleep, or the adjustment of the two gases were to be disturbed by even the flapping of a stray bird's wing, the most unfortunate results might follow. If (said Sir Frederick) such an accident should, through these circumstances, or the negligence of these two philosophers, accompany this, Mr. Gye's, plan, you, Mr. Speaker, and this honourable House, would all be blown up together. The present mode of ventilating the House was open to great objection. The air was admitted from the floor through holes, over which a matting was spread. The air thus admitted, carried up into the atmosphere of the House great quantities of impalpable powder or dust, which being inhaled with the air, might affect the lungs of the most vigorous men in the House, whether the hon. Member for Kilkenny or for Finsbury, whose constant and assiduous attention to their duty at every hour on every night, particularly exposed them to the prejudicial consequences of such an unwholesome atmosphere, under which the hen. Member for Lymington, was now suffering. Dr. Birkbeck had proposed to procure a purer supply of air, by having two doors to the House instead of one. He had also applied for advice to Mr. Brande, and the result of all this consultation and consideration was his conviction that there was a very simple mode of ventilating and lighting the House much better. He would undertake that the experiment could be tried at the expense of no more than 10l. for two nights. He should propose to raise all the side lustres about four or five feet higher than they now were, and on a level with the two lights in front of the reporters' and strangers' galleries. To compensate for thus losing light by removing the lustres to a higher level, he would add the light of seventy more candles to the present light of 150 candles, and to procure a supply of fresh air, he would, after stopping up the holes now in the floor, open other holes in the side walls, about the height of eighteen inches above the heads of Members when standing near the wall. This he thought, could all be done for 10l. And if it were not an impertinence, he would offer to try the effect of it at his own proper cost and expense. He hardly knew whom to apply to with reference to the proposition he now made, whether to the House, to the Speaker, or to the board of works.

Mr. Hume

asked if the effect of a strong current of air at the backs of the hon. Members would not be extremely disagreeable?

Sir F. Trench

said, that it would not he cold air. He proposed to remove the matting from the floor of the House also, in order to let the air escape more freely.

Sir G. Strickland

said, he had a very strong opinion upon the subject, and he did not think that the hon. and gallant Member had stated sufficient grounds to warrant the adoption of his plan. He approved of the present system of lighting and ventilating the House, and must confess that, under the former one, he had frequently found the air in the House a great inconvenience. Such was not the case at present, the House being very much improved in that respect, and also with reference to the facility of hearing. His opinion was, that Dr. Reid's operations had been in a very great degree, if not wholly, successful, and the present proposition was not called for. The gas experiment had proved very disagreeable—and, although many hon. Members complained of a great want of light in the House at present, he was of opinion that the introduction of a great blaze of light would be found still more so.

Mr. Goulburn

agreed with the hon. Baronet who had just sat down. He thought the House was now both well lighted and well ventilated, and disapproved of anything being adopted which had a tendency to interfere with Dr. Reid's plan of ventilation.

Mr. Pryme

said, that the present manner of lighting the House was very disagreeable to Members sitting in the galleries of the House, and he understood the plan of the hon. and gallant Member to refer not so much to the introduction of any very great blaze of light into the House as to the elevation of the present lustres.

Mr. Warburton

hoped the House would persevere in the present system of ventilating the House—as well as oppose any proposition such as this for altering the manner of lighting it. The hearing was much facilitated at present, and he thought that the plan of the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite would very much affect that facility.

The Speaker

here submitted to Sir F. Trench whether it would be of any advantage to proceed further with the discussion?

Mr. Wakley

expressed his opinion that many changes had been made with regard to the atmosphere of the House which were decidedly great improvements—the air being now almost as wholesome as any that could be produced. With respect to the proposition of the hon. and gallant Member relative to lighting the House, it might be an improvement, perhaps, upon the present system; but if the present cloth were to be removed from the floor of the House, and an oilcloth put down its place, great inconvenience would be the consequence, for all the arrangements respecting sound in that House had been made in reference to that cloth. He had prescribed very frequently upon this subject, and had, in fact, commenced his prescriptions very early in the present Session—but they had, on that occasion, been so very positively rejected by the noble Lord the Home Secretary—and by 656 other ungrateful patients, that he did not feel disposed to offer any on the present occasion. He considered, however, every part of the proposition of the hon. and gallant Member, except, perhaps, that relating to the manner of lighting the House, to be very bad.

Lord John Russell

suggested that the plan of the hon. and gallant Gentleman should be referred by him to the Chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests.

Sir F. Trench

said he would prepare a plan, and lay it before Lord Duncannon.

Subject postponed.