HC Deb 11 February 1852 vol 119 cc400-16

Sir, the Motion of which I have given notice, to consider the evidence given by Dr. Reid, at the bar, relating to the ventilation of the House, may not be worthy of the attention that other subjects which come under the consideration of the House may demand; but I hope the House will consider the great wear and tear of constitution to which Members in the constant habit of attending this House are subject. When we consider the large per centage of Members who regularly attend their Parliamentary duties for six months in the year, I think I am entitled to some support in drawing their attention to this subject, and I trust that my Motion will meet with their approbation. It was said by the late Sidney Smith, with reference to the practice of locking up passengers in railway trains, that no attention would be given to that subject until some great dignitary of the Church was roasted in a railway carriage. I am of opinion that until some of the more robust Members who now occupy the Treasury benches are ventilated into another place, or some of the Members of the country party on the opposite side of the House are stifled, we shall have no remedy for the crying evils to which we are now subject. Now it has been proposed to send this subject to a Committee; but I am prepared to prove that the bad ventilation is neither attributable to Dr, Reid nor to Mr. Barry. The truth is, that all the mischief occasioned in this building has been entirely created by Committees of this House. They have undertaken subjects which they did not and could not understand. They have been unable to go into the details; and I very believe, if the building of this House and all the details had been referred to the House of Assembly in Jamaica, the matter would have been much better managed than it has been by Committees of this House. If hon. Gentlemen who were not in the House on Friday last, when Dr. Reid was examined, will look through the evidence which that gentleman gave, they will find that the defective arrangements with respect to ventilation all spring from one simple cause, namely, a divided authority. I will venture to quote to the House an opinion given on this very subject by one of the most remarkable men of the age—I mean the Duke of Wellington—who appears to be endowed with a faculty of universal application, and to be equally ready whether the subject be ventilation of a room or the conducting of a war. In 1846, the works in the building of the other House of Parliament came to a stoppage, and were actually suspended for ten months in consequence of a difference between Dr. Reid and Mr. Barry. On the 31st March, 1846, the Duke of Wellington warned the House of Lords not to enter into any proceedings on the ventilation of their chamber without there was a thorough understanding on the subject with this House. Their Lordships did not choose to act on that very sensible advice, and all the inconveniences from which we are now suffering arise from not attending to it. Dr. Reid's first complaint is, that he has not sufficient authority for the ventilation of this House. Now, I want to know how far Dr. Reid's authority does extend? It appears that his dominion only extends to the inner lobby, not to the outer lobby, nor to the libraries. It is abundantly clear, from his evidence, that the questions of ventilation and of lighting cannot he disunited. They are too intimately united to be placed under two different managements. Without entering into any detailed criticism as to the formation of this House, I will venture to say that the very first idea that would strike a foreigner on looking at the interior would be, that the edifice was built before the window tax was taken off, and that the windows were constructed merely for the purpose of evading that impost. But the deficiency of light in the interior is amply compensated for by a most abundant number of lights in the exterior of the House—a number that is sufficient to astonish any man. I took the opportunity last night of going upon the roof of the House in order to see the whole system of lighting. Dr. Reid informs me, that in the original plan by which he proposed to light this House, it was arranged that there should be no gas in the inside of the House at all; but that it should be entirely lighted from the outside. Now, I think we might remove these painted windows, which I take the liberty of saying on competent authority are bad in point of heraldry—mere daubs, as I believe, and more; for I go further—I believe that, having consulted a man rather eminent in optical science, it is a bad light for the eyes of the Members. It is an atmosphere of rainbows, in j the first place. What is the consequence? We are obliged, even in the morning sittings to have gas lighted. There is another question which arises from perusing the evidence of Dr. Reid. Hon. Members, perhaps, may be aware, that those two enormous towers, called the Victoria Tower and the Clock Tower, were originally intended to be used as channels for the ventilation of this House; but at present neither of them performs any such function. The Victoria Tower is prohibited from being used for that purpose, and in consequence of the state of the vaults under the Clock Tower, it is equally useless in that respect. These things have all been stated before, but they have never been remedied, for, of course, it was "nobody's business" to do so. [An Hon. MEMBER: The Woods and Forests.] The Commissioners of Woods and Forests deny that they have anything to do with it. Now, Sir, I do think the House should support me in carrying some resolutions which I shall submit to their notice. As to the present system of ventilation, the House may not be aware that there is a considerable leakage going on from the gas pipes connected with the House. Now, I am informed that the proportion of carbonic acid that escapes in the ordinary consumption of gas is as one in a thousand; whereas, in this House, the escape is one per cent: so that we are sitting in an atmosphere in which the carbonic acid gas is as one in a hundred, instead of one in a thousand. In fact, so oppressive was the state of the atmosphere last night, that my hon. Friend the Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume), who can stand draughts of all sorts as well as most men, was obliged to leave the House, he was so oppressed with the state of the atmosphere. I, myself, also suffered severely: my eyesight was affected by the lights and by the tremendous draughts of cold air constantly coming in. At this moment, I will venture to say that the thermometer on the floor of the House shows a different result from that where I stand at present. In fact, last night I saw an experiment tried with regard to these lights. The thermometer in the gallery, with the light directly shining upon it, was a little above seventy degrees. We placed a hat before it, so as to intercept the rays of light, and in less than a quarter of an hour it fell considerably more than two degrees. That will give some idea of the effect of the light on Members sitting in the gallery. Now, having said this much with regard to the comfort, health, and convenience of the Members of this House, I think there is another party to be considered. We apportion a part of this House for the convenience of the public—I mean the strangers' gallery. Now I will take upon myself to say, that the strangers' gallery is one of the most abominable places of punishment that could possibly have been constructed. Sir, as to strangers sitting at the back of that gallery, it is impossible for them to see more of the House than yourself and four Members in your immediate neighbourhood on each side of the table. But there is another evil, greater than that. From the circumstance of their being on a level with these lights, the effect is, that the pupil of the eye becomes contracted to such a degree, that it is totally impossible for them to distinguish anybody. Sir, I thought I knew the respected Deputy Sergeant-at-Arms, Mr. Clementson. But, from the strangers' gallery, I could not recognise him; and, as to your own well-known features, I had the greatest difficulty in distinguishing them. I therefore, on the part of the public, call for some mitigation of these evils and inconveniences. I turn now, Sir, to those gentlemen of the press, those valuable members, as I may call them, who report our debates. I am satisfied that the health of these gentlemen and their eyesight will be seriously impaired, if not altogether destroyed, if the present system of ventilation and lighting be continued. I will go a step higher—to the ladies whom you have condemned to that miserable place yonder, which is something between a birdcage and a tea-caddy. The external decorations resemble the former, and, to my great astonishment, on visiting the place last night, I found that a partition, reminding me of the latter, had been run across the apartment, so as to render the dimensions of each compartment so small that the occupants would scarcely be able to breathe freely. I can only account for the appearance of the place by supposing that Mr. Barry, in his love for Gothic architecture and ideas, must have had some of the stories of Gothic monasteries in his mind, and contemplated on some future occasion the bricking up of some of these poor unfortunate ladies. No one can have any idea of the misery which those poor unlucky, ladies are called on to undergo in that miserable birdcage without going to see its interior arrangements. Now, in making these remarks, it is not my object to attack either Dr. Reid or Mr. Barry. I believe that both those gentlemen are most eminent in their respective lines. I do not take exception to the arrangements of both Houses; but the fault does not rest with Mr. Barry. Nobody has a right to complain of Mr. Barry; but everybody has a right to complain of the Committees of this House under whose directions those arrangements have been made. We have done the whole of the mischief, and we alone are responsible for it all. In a letter which I have received from Dr. Reid, he desires me to state to the House that he has no personal quarrel with Mr. Barry, and that his only difference with that gentleman has reference to scientific subjects. But I do not see why, because there is some difference between Mr. Barry and Dr. Reid, that we should be alternately roasted and boiled in this House. Dr. Reid said the other day, at the bar of this House, it was in his power to remove the lesser evil; and I think the House has a fair right to ask if he has done so. But I find that since the House met this very day, the powers which he had have been taken out of his hands, and that one side of the House is under one management, and the other side under another. Hon. Members will perceive that the lights on one side are differently arranged from those on the other, and I perceive that the lamp over the Treasury bench is still dripping a shower of water. The consequence is that the atmosphere is very disagreeably oppressive on one side of the House, whilst it is different on the other. But Dr. Reid has done something. In the first place, he has had the floors scraped, and a great quantity of oil, which was so obnoxious to breathe, taken off them. He has also had some offensive sewage water removed from the vaults. The gas lights have been removed from the division corridors because they wore not ventilated, and consequently acted injuriously on Members. The ventilation of the House has also been altered, so as to admit of the direct removal, at least, of all the leakage from the gas lights. That is what has been done; but at the same time it is a mere trifle, and something more is required to be done. Hon. Gentlemen will naturally ask, what more can be recommended? I feel myself perfectly convinced that we shall never have a proper state of the atmosphere in this House until you put the whole system of ventilating, lighting, and warming the House under one responsible head. I, myself, don't know sufficient of the merits of the question to say what should be done; but, I say, let there be one man to do it who understands the matter. I believe Dr. Reid to be a very able man, and one who perfectly understands the science of ventilation. Other Gentlemen may have their opinions upon that point; but all I urge on the House is to put the whole arrangement of ventilating, warming, and lighting under one authority. With regard to the subject of lighting, there have been extraordinary differences. The old House of Commons was not lighted by Dr. Reid, but by Mr. Gurney. The present House is lighted by Mr. Barry. Now, Mr. Barry may be a good architect, but I don't think he understands the subject of lighting. Dr. Reid is not allowed to go into the libraries. He is only allowed to come into this House to ventilate, and not to have anything to do with the lighting. I believe a Committee would only obfuscate the matter; and therefore it is that I would propose the Resolutions of which I have given notice.


said, he rose to second the Resolution which had been proposed by his hon. Friend, to whom, he thought, the House ought to be much obliged for the pains he had bestowed on this subject. But he thought his hon. Friend had fallen into two mistakes. In the first place he talked of the prospective fate of the robust Members of this House if the present state of things was continued; but he (Sir J. Pakington) was of opinion that if the present system of lighting and ventilating was not changed, there would soon be no Members at all in the House. Again, his hon. Friend supposed a foreigner, on visiting the House, coming to the conclusion that it had been constructed with a, view to evade the window tax; but he (Sir J. Pakington) could not understand that the window tax would have been imposed on windows that gave no light. Whatever might be the differences between Dr. Reid and Mr. Barry, for whoso abilities he entertained the highest respect, he must say that, looking at what Dr. Reid had done for them in the old House of Commons, that gentleman was entitled to very great credit from the Members of this House. He (Sir J. Pakington) never in his life entered any room the temperature of which was more admirably regulated throughout the different seasons of the year than in the old House of Commons. He had watched the thermometer in the old House, at the back of Mr. Speaker's chair, at intervals, both in January and in June, and he did nnt remember to have seen it vary to the extent of four degrees above or below 64 degrees. From the experience which hon. Members had had of the present House during the last three or four days, he thought it utterly impossible they could attend to their duties in it unless some change took place, He was of opinion, with their old friend Sir Frederick Trench, that there was no light equal to that given by wax candles, but hoped, if they were to continue the system of gas lighting, that some very decided improvements would be made in the present system.

Motion made, and Question proposed— That Dr. Reid be authorised to complete such temporary arrangements as are imperatively necessary at present for the maintenance of a better atmosphere during the Sittings of the House.


said, he could not but admit that the ventilation of the House was very imperfect, and the lighting also; but the best thing they could do was not to inquire into the original cause of the evils, but into the mode by which those evils wore to be remedied. As for himself, he had had nothing to do with the arrangements of the House until November last; and so long ago as 1846 it was decided that Dr. Reid should ventilate the House of Commons, but that the rest of the building should be left to Mr. Barry, who had been selected by the House of Lords to ventilate their House, in which he supposed the House of Commons could not interfere. He found that they had already expended on that House, for Dr. Reid's system of ventilation, 46,000l.; and, having expended so much before the year 1846, it was proposed that a great part of this ventilation should be abandoned, and the rest of it made applicable, as far as possible, to the remainder of the House. He found that, in addition, there had been further sums expended for the same object, which made the whole sum spent by Dr. Reid 57,800l. Besides that, they had given Dr. Reid a staff which cost 1,300l. a year, exclusive of three temporary assistants, who were granted to aid him. Dr. Reid came to him some time ago, and said he was totally unable to go on unless he had the assistance of three assistant engineers; and accordingly he had them. Before the Session commenced, he (Lord Seymour) came down to look in what condition the House was. The first thing he saw was a powerful steam-engine, which was required for some purpose connected with the ventilation, but which, Dr. Reid told him, would not answer its purpose; and when this engine was at work it made such a noise that it would have been difficult for any Member, to make himself audible. He was, therefore, obliged to send to Liverpool at once to order another steam-engine to effect the purpose Dr. Reid required, with less amount of noise. On that occasion he thought it desirable to see the lighting and ventilation at work, for he had some doubt in his own mind whether the ventilation would not put out the lights. He had not been long in the House before some firemen rushed in to ask if the new palace was on fire. The shaft Dr. Reid had erected gave out such a great heat, and threw forth such showers of sparks, that the firemen came in alarm to ask if the House was burning. He confessed he was considerably alarmed, too; and he told the men employed and the clerks of the works that they should not leave the place, for he had no security that a conflagration would not ensue. It was now proposed, rightly as he thought, that the ventilation and lighting should be placed in the same hands. The ventilation was put under the care of Dr. Reid, and he had been paid under the impression that he was superintending the lighting; but he (Lord Seymour) found, on inquiry, that that gentleman had had nothing to do with it, but that a short time before the House met, Mr. Faraday had been employed under Mr. Barry in arranging the lighting. He (Lord Seymour) believed that if he had interfered in these arrangements, they would have had no lights at all, and he therefore had left the lighting under Mr. Faraday, acting under Mr. Barry. As to the system of ventilation they had heard a good deal of complaint with regard to the drains and the state of the air channels through which the supply of air was borne. He could only say he believed every arrangement Dr. Reid had put on paper, and had sent in to Mr. Barry, had been complied with. Now, he really wished to state the case between Dr. Reid and Mr. Barry fairly. The point he desired to put was this: Had any requisition been made by Dr. Reid to Mr. Barry on paper which had not been complied with? He found nothing but general statements on the other side, which went to this, that Dr. Reid required more authority and greater powers; but he could not find any statement of anything Dr. Reid had asked to be done which had not been done. He had also gone carefully through the system of ventilation established by Dr. Reid. He found, first, a chamber where the air was mixed; next, there was a larger equalising chamber where the air was brought in. The air was brought down from the top of the Clock tower. It was then taken nine feet below the level of the Thames, and there it was let loose into a large and spacious vault, which, from its position, was of necessity near a number of drains. The air passed through channels which were built up with moist damp walls, and in the neighbourhood of drains protected with pavement and cement. Although he did not profess to be acquainted with the science of ventilation, or would venture to express an opinion as to the best mode of treating air required for the refreshment of the House, still he could not but feel that keeping air enclosed in damp cellars, nine feet below the level of the Thames, did not tend greatly to improve either its sweetness or salubrity. When the House met last, he asked Dr. Reid to give in a statement of what he wanted done, and he made out a list of alterations which he said would not cost more than 300l., which was sent in next day. The things he required to be done were, clearing the vaults and repairing the centre vault, the pavement of which had been broken by the removal of the heavy machinery Dr. Reid had brought there, and other small matters to which he need not refer. As to the removal of the products of combustion of lights in the corridors, he (Lord Seymour) had met that by dispensing with gas, and substituting wax candles, that hon. Members might not be troubled by the escape of gas. He had also ordered the people to put doors where they could, and in other places to put up large curtains, which Dr. Reid said would answer equally well. But hon. Members must see that all these precautions were very imperfect in a House with large passages and halls between it and the House of Lords, unless the ventilation of the whole was placed under one person. When certain demands were made on Dr. Reid, he said he was a medical man, and not competent to express an opinion upon architectural questions, and that not being an engineer he was equally incompetent to decide upon questions of machinery. It was evident, therefore, Dr. Reid could not exercise the sole control which was desirable, because he must be bound by the acts of others, over whom be could, as a medical man, have no power. He had sent to Mr. Barry to know if all Dr. Reid had required in his paper had been done, and found it had, except furnishing transverse and longitudinal sections of the drains under the House, which would require time to make, and the omission of which was not of so much consequence, as it would necessarily take time to make the required alterations. The real question was, what they would do for the future, and under whom they should place the ventilation of the House? If they were to place the ventilation of the House and of the lobbies under the same person, they must remember that there were pipes laid down in connexion with the portion of the building under Mr. Barry's control. Mr. Barry had a long room where he warmed the air; if they took away one-half of the building, and put it under the management of Dr. Reid, they must reverse all this machinery, they must alter these connexions, and build and make fresh ones, so as to do what Dr. Reid required. They must remember this was not like the old House, which was detached from the rest of the building, so that it could be ventilated by itself. If they wished to detach this building in the same way, they must alter the existing system altogether at a great expense. [Mr. HUME: How much has Mr. Barry spent?] Mr. Barry had spent about 150,000l. But this sum included works done and buildings erected for Dr. Reid; they must remember Mr. Barry was architect as well as ventilator, and he could furnish them with the whole expense of what he had done; whereas Dr. Reid could only give them the actual expense of ventilation under his orders, unconnected with the sums laid out on building. Between the two about 200,000l. would have been spent on the very imperfect ventilation of the Houses of Parliament, whenever the works shall have been completed according to the estimates. He thought that the best mode of extricating the House from its present difficulty would be for it to appoint some competent engineer, who would be above any suspicion of partiality towards one side or the other, who would inform them what would be the best course to pursue. He would recommend the House not to agree to the Resolution of the hon. Member for Middlesex as it then stood, but refer it either to the Office of which he was the head, or, as he had suggested, to some person competent to give an opinion upon the subject. If they decided upon referring it to his department, he would be willing to undertake any trouble which the task might impose upon him, and endeavour, by such assistance as he might consider it advisable to call to his aid, to extricate the House from its present difficult position.


said, the matter was shortly this: Mr. Barry had spent 150,000l., and had done nothing but mischief. The other man (Dr. Reid) had spent 57,000l., and had not done as much as had been expected. The question was, whether it was possible to ventilate that room without having all the doors and passages under one control. That was not so difficult a question in science as it was for the interest of those gentlemen to make out. Each hon. Member consumed four cubic feet of air per minute, which would give about 2,400 cubic feet as the amount required for the consumption of the House. They must have that air fresh, and they must get rid of it from the House after it had been used—they must get into the House properly warmed air, and they must not warm it by the heat of their bodies. He would leave it to any Members if they ever knew a house in the country in which the halls and passages were not damp and cold in winter, so that persons ran shivering through them into the warmed rooms. The fact was, there never yet was an architect (and he had had a pretty extensive experience of them, from Mr. Wilkins downwards) who knew anything of ventilation. He thought they could not do better than give the noble Lord (Lord Seymour) a carte blanche to deal as he thought best with the question.


considered that the House was under great obligations to the hon. Member for Middlesex (Mr. B. Osborne) for the attention which he had paid to the subject. He (Mr. Booker) thought the people of England would be satisfied by the statement of the noble Lord that the House of Commons had been guilty of gross and profligate expenditure of the public money with very little result. The suggestion of the noble Lord (Lord Seymour) was an exceedingly valuable one. He (Mr. Booker) was perfectly willing to leave the subject in his hands, and considered that he might derive great assistance from the valuable suggestions which might be obtained from the present learned and able director of the Museum of Geology, Sir Henry De la Beche, who had paid great attention to the subject of ventilation.


said, that ventilation made no portion of the science of geology, and that therefore Sir Henry De la Beche, whatever his acquirements as a scientific man and a geologist, would not be the most proper person to decide what was best to be done. The ventilation of the Museum of Practical Geology was by no means perfect. Dr. Reid had, at all events, kept his promise in ventilating the old House. He recommended the hon. Member for Middlesex (Mr. Osborne) to adhere to his Motion, and to call on Dr. Reid to make a statement of what he was prepared to do.


said, that when the question was last before the House, he was of opinion the examination of Dr. Reid would leave them just where they had been, and in that opinion he was now confirmed. It was necessarily an ex parte statement of what he could accomplish, and they had no guarantee the result he asserted would be arrived at. He would not press the appointment of the Committee against the feeling of the House, but would move, as an Amendment to the hon. Member's Motion, that the whole matter of ventilation, lighting, and warming should be referred to the head of the Board of Works, so as to rest all the responsibility on him, without associating in it any hon. Member of the House.

Amendment proposed, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words, "the ventilation, warming, and lighting of this House be referred to the noble Lord the First Commissioner of Works," instead thereof.


said, he should willingly second the Amendment. He was strongly convinced the House was not a proper tribunal to decide whether Mr. Barry or Dr. Reid should have the new palace, or a portion of it, placed irrevocably in his hands; and that the claims of the architect had not been sufficiently represented, for, though no words of disrespect had been used towards his character, there had been a very strong expression of feeling with regard to his rival. The House had certainly now a right to say they would consider their own convenience. The noble Lord the First Commissioner of the Board of Works might reflect whether it would not be better to get rid of the windows which gave no light. He would say nothing of the passages which led to nothing; but the object of windows was to give light, and, in his opinion, it would be far preferable to exclude the daylight, and have artificial light during their day sittings, than to deliberate in the artificial darkness which those windows created. When he considered the expense which the House had sanctioned in ventilation, without saying anything of warming and lighting, he felt that, whether as Committees or as an aggregate body, they would feel nothing but regret for the past. There had been no returns moved for. [Mr. HUME: Yes, I called for them.] Spirits from the vasty deep might be called; but would they come? No such returns had been made; and it must have struck the conscience of every man in that House that he had sanctioned such expenditure without inquiry. It would be best now to leave the matter to the despotic authority of the noble Lord (Lord Seymour) without any associate. Before he sat down he thought it right to say, that whatever the merits of the Mr. Faraday, mentioned by Lord Seymour, he was not the eminent Professor Faraday whose name was so well known to the world. He had every confidence in the noble Lord at the head of the Board of Works, who, during the short period which he had occupied his present position, had shown so much ability and attention to the duties of his office, and he would cordially recommend the House to leave the matter entirely in his hands.


rejoiced the House had taken the matter into its own hands, and had called Dr. Reid to the bar. The whole cause of the state they were in was, that Dr. Reid and Mr. Barry had been continually at loggerheads, and he was not sure but that the best thing they could do would be to dismiss them both.


felt it due to Mr. Barry and Dr. Reid to state, that the expenditure had been to a great degree on other parts of the House, in the Committee-rooms, corridors, and lobbies, and in eluded gas, fuel, steam, and assistants. He hoped the House would not hastily come to the conclusion that they would accede to the proposal made by the hon. Member opposite, but that they would leave the matter in the hands of the noble Lord at the head of the Board of Works, who had the same interest as every other hon. Gentleman in making the ventilation as perfect as possible, and who had every means of examining the subject carefully.


hoped the House would confide in the noble Lord (Lord Seymour), and not tie him down to the employment of any particular person, but place the full and entire management under him, so that he might consult whomsoever he thought fit. He agreed entirely with the hon. Member for Middlesex (Mr. B. Osborne) in thinking that the ventilation and the lighting of the House should be placed under the same authority.


said, the noble Lord (Lord Seymour) had expressed himself as entirely of opinion that the lighting and ventilation should be under one management. Now, that was just the effect of his hon. Friend's Resolution, which did not bind the noble Lord to any particular course; and he thought, therefore, it would be well for the House to agree to the Motion. It would be found that in 1845 and 1847 he objected to the whole course taken by the Government with regard to the new House, and he then advised that two individuals should he made responsible in carrying out the building, and that it should not be left to the authority of the First Commissioner of the Board of Works, who changed with every Administration, and had not time to attend to the duties. The consequence of the neglect of this advice might be seen in the extraordinary expenditure which they had heard that night. He should, tomorrow, ask the House to direct a return to be made, which would show the gross mismanagement that had prevailed from first to last in the building. He would not say so much upon the subject if he had not been one of the original Committee before whom Mr. Barry had been examined, when he (Mr. Hume) proved that that gentleman knew nothing about his own plans. As to the dispute existing between Mr. Barry and Dr. Reid, he had two years and a half ago taken the sense of the House on that subject; and he said then that it was disgraceful to allow that dispute—that no private individual would have allowed it if they had been in his employ; and he took the sense of the House as to whether it would not be advisable to remove both the architect and the ventilator. He entirely agreed with hon. Members in thinking that one individual should be made responsible for both the ventilation and the lighting. He hoped, therefore, his hon. Friend (Mr. B. Osborne's) Resolution would be agreed to, and that then it should be left to the noble Lord to call in what counsel he thought fit.


thought it must be very clear, from the statement made by the noble Lord (Lord Seymour), that the large expenditure which he had mentioned was attributable to there not having been a written agreement with those who had been intrusted with the carrying out of the building.


always suspected what would become of matters intrusted to the head of the Board of Works; the fate of the marble arch had taught him to distrust that department. Supposing the Government were to be turned out, as he hoped they would be before long, who was to be responsible then, and what would become of the House?


wished to call the attention of the House to an extract from a foreign journal, containing an account of a number of experiments on the subject of ventilation, which had been very striking in their results. The machine made use of was capable of producing ten times the fresh air which he believed was necessary for the supply of the House; and he should be most happy to communicate with the noble Lord (Lord Seymour), if the matter were placed in his hands. The extract to which he referred also contained some valuable hints as to the ventilation of mines and collieries.


, in reply, said, that one statement made by the noble Lord the First Commissioner of Works was not exactly true as regarded Dr. Reid. The noble Lord stated that 57,000l. had been spent by that gentleman in ventila- tion; but this was expressly denied by Dr. Reid, who said that since 1842 Mr. Barry had refused to give him any estimate of the expense of carrying out his plans, so that when this sum of 57,000l. was mentioned it was not known how much of it was expended in Dr. Reid's necessary apparatus, or how much in Mr. Barry's mode of applying it. From the ex parte statement made by the noble Lord, it was evident that the First Commissioner of Public Works was very liable to be influenced by the architect; and what security had they that the noble Lord (Lord Seymour) would not deprive them of the services of Dr. Reid (who had certainly ventilated the old House very well), and intrust it to Mr. Barry, whose ventilation of the House of Lords was abominable? He should, therefore, if he met with the support of the House, press his Resolutions to a division. He would be very happy to take upon himself, if Dr. Reid were allowed the temporary management of the ventilation, the responsibility that a pure and healthy atmosphere should be produced in that House; and he thought it a much more sensible plan if, instead of consulting some other person, who might perhaps suggest expensive alterations in the apparatus already fixed by Dr. Reid, that gentleman was called upon to enter into a bond, or to lay upon the table of the House exact estimates of what he proposed. Meanwhile, however, the health of hon. Members was being ruined. Ten years seemed almost added to some of their lives in one night—[Laughter]—but at any rate many hon. Members were suffering most acutely from the present ventilation. He almost fancied he saw many of his respected friends growing old under his eyes. He, for one, would be no party to any arrangement with Mr. Barry.


said, his hon. Friend seemed to think that he had been uncharitable to Dr. Reid in what he had stated. Now, the figures which he had quoted had been taken from a printed paper laid before the House on the 14th of August, 1850 [Parliamentary Papers, No. 650], to which, as far as he knew, no answer had been given; and he did not imagine that in reading from this statement he had offered any opinion which could be deemed uncharitable.

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

The House divided:—Ayes 96; Noes 68: Majority 28.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

"1. Resolved—That Dr. Reid be authorised to complete such temporary arrangements as are imperatively necessary at present for the maintenance of a better atmosphere during the Sittings of the House.

"2. Resolved—That the warming, lighting, and ventilating of the House of Commons, and its Libraries, shall be placed under one responsible authority."

Motion made, and Question proposed— That Dr. Reid be called upon to submit forthwith, a full Report of all the measures he considers essential for the health and comfort of the House, together with an Estimate of the probable expense, and the time which he would require for the execution of the works; also, to state specially what plan he would propose for the lighting of the House.

Amendment proposed, after the word "forthwith," to insert the words, "to the First Commissioner of Works."—[Mr. Goulburn.]

Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and agreed to.

Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.

"3. Resolved—That Dr. Reid be called upon to submit forthwith to the First Commissioner of Works, a full Report of all the measures he considers essential for the health and comfort of the House, together with an Estimate of the probable expense, and the time which he would require for the execution of the works; also, to state specially what plan he would propose for the lighting of the House."