HC Deb 06 February 1852 vol 119 cc231-4

in moving "that Dr. Reid be called to the Bar of the House and questioned as to the means at his disposal for ventilating the New Buildings," said, that a good supply of air was even more important than a good supply of water, and his present Motion more nearly affected hon. Members than that last under discussion, for it related to the supply of fresh air to this House. Assuredly nothing could be worse than the present state of the ventilation. It was suggested that the subject should be referred to a Committee, but he had strong objections to any such course. In the first place, three Committees had already sat to consider the matter; and to adopt a similar course now would be to shelve the whole question, for they would sit in a room upstairs, they would make a report at the end of the Session, and meanwhile hon. Members would be subject to all the hot and cold blasts from which they had suffered since the Session commenced. Now, he proposed that the House should exert the power it had in the matter, and with this view he would call Dr. Reid to the bar, and, without entering into the personal dispute between that gentleman and Mr. Barry, he would put to him six questions. He would ask him, first—and he invited the noble Lord's (Lord Seymour's) attention to this question—whether there was any impediment to the full and proper action of his plan for the ventilation to the House? Secondly, what those impediments were as to matters of fact, taking care not to enter upon personal differences with the architect? He would then ask Dr. Reid to state these matters as briefly as possible, calling upon him to say what it was he proposed to do, and inquiring whether he could name any works already in operation which were upon a principle similar to that which he desired to carry out in the Houses of Parliament? These questions he (Mr. B. Osborne) thought were very fair ones; and by calling Dr. Reid to the bar, as he now proposed, they would avoid any personal altercations, they would make Dr. Reid be as brief as it was possible for him to be, and the subject would be properly brought before the House, instead of being forgotten in the hands of a Committee.


said, when the Houses of Parliament had been committed to his charge, he had himself asked Dr. Reid what impediments there were in the way of the ventilation, and was told by that gentleman that there had been impediments existing for the last five years. Now, if Dr. Reid were called to the bar, the House, in seeking to be informed of those causes, must necessarily enter into a great deal of detail, involving perhaps other persons whom it would be necessary in justice to listen to in reply. He was anxious to avoid placing the House in this position, and would therefore suggest the appointment of a Committee to take the subject under inquiry, in which case they would have the opportunity of hearing what was necessary to be heard in reply to the statement of Dr. Reid.


hoped the Motion of the hon. Member for Middlesex would not be opposed. The appointment of a Committee was very well, looking to some distant period, but this was a subject demanding immediate inquiry. He hoped the noble Lord (Lord Seymour) did not mean the House to adjourn until the Committee had made its report. What hon. Members wanted to hear was, who had directions from Government to ventilate the House? The noble Lord said that Dr. Reid had; but hon. Members could hardly judge of this, though they knew very well that the House was not ventilated. Were the Commons of England to be put about in the way they had been? No less than 200,000l. had been expended from first to last in ventilation, and if we had not yet arrived at a knowledge of the proper principles, the sooner we did so the better.


said, he knew an hon. Member who had caught a severe cold in consequence of the blasts of cold air that were admitted into the House, and who had been obliged to keep his bed ever since.


said, it did not follow that because Dr. Reid had stated the impediments in the way of his ventilating the House were of five years' standing, that therefore it would take him five years to explain them to the House; and, in fact, Dr. Reid believed he could make everything clear on the subject in the space of ten minutes. At one time hon. Members were warm, and at another time cold; they had water coming down in all directions, one of the candelabra would not burn, and no man could enter the House without feeling that he was exposed to a great degree of discomfort, which, in many cases, would prevent his paying that attention to business which he ought to give. He hoped the subject would receive immediate attention from the House.


said, he must confess the ventilation of the House was not perfect; but he did not think, if Dr. Reid were called to the bar, the question for the consideration of the House would be found to be so simple a one as some hon. Members seemed to suppose. Although they might question Dr. Reid, who might be able in ten minutes to explain that which he considered the cause of the inefficient ventilation, and that which he wished to be done, yet that which he wished to be done might not be in any means in accordance with the opinions of the architect. In that case would the House refuse to hear Mr. Barry; would they decide that everything Dr. Reid desired was to be carried out, perhaps at very great additional expense, without keeping in view what might be proper architectural difficulties? They must accordingly hear Mr. Barry, and they must hear whether Dr. Reid's objections and views were, in the judgment of the House, a sufficient answer to Mr. Barry or not. The question was one which could hardly be considered by the whole House. It would, probably, take some days to decide upon, and it would be far better disposed of if referred to a Select Committee.


said, several hon. Members on that side of the House had suffered severely from the state of the atmosphere. He thought that it did not ne- cessarily follow that the House should come to an immediate decision upon hearing the statements of Dr. Reid; if it was considered necessary, a Committee might afterwards be appointed.


thought the House had wholly neglected its duty, as holding the purse-strings of the nation, in permitting so much extravagance in the outlay upon the Houses of Parliament. If either the architecture or the ventilation of the House must give way, he thought it ought to be the former. The atmosphere of the House had been almost insufferable of late.


moved, as an Amendment, that the question of the ventilation of the House be referred to a Select Committee.

Amendment proposed, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the best mode of ventilating the House."

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes 55; Noes 24: Majority 31.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Dr. Reid called in and examined.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the First Commissioner of Works be empowered to carry out the works alluded to by Dr. Reid." [Mr. ROCHE.]—Amendment proposed, to leave out from the first word "Works" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words, "ascertain from Dr. Reid the nature of improvements in the Ventilation of the House which he has this night proposed, and on Wednesday next report to the House whether there is any objection to their adoption,"—[Mr. NEWDEGATE,]—instead thereof:—Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question:"—Amendment and Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

"Resolved—That the First Commissioner of Works ascertain from Dr. Reid the nature of the improvements in the Ventilation of the House which he has this night proposed, and on Wednesday next report to the House whether there is any objection to their adoption.—[Mr. NEWDEGATE.]"

The House adjourned at Nine o'clock till Monday next,