HC Deb 16 March 1860 vol 157 cc761-2

said, he would beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade, Whether the Lords of the Treasury are now prepared to carry out the provisions of the Sale of Gas Act, and to have the "Gas-holder" at once deposited at the Exchequer Office. Great inconvenience had been caused by the neglect of the Go- vernment to have the gas-holder deposited at the Exchequer Office. The reason for that neglect appeared to be a doubt in the mind of the Astromer Royal whether the instrument might not be put out of order if it were moved; but the deputation of meter-makers were unanimously of a different opinion. It had been stated that the instrument mentioned in the Act was not known; but such was not the fact. Even gentlemen of the medical profession were well acquainted with it, for they sometimes made use of it in order to test the lungs of their patients. There was great excitement in the country on the subject. Every town council and almost every quarter sessions had held a meeting to decide whether they would or would not adopt the Act; and they had appointed Inspectors, who were unable to discharge their duties because the model of the instrument had not been deposited as required by the Act. Certain officials appeared to think that, though the Act of Parliament had distinctly placed the carrying out of the measure in their charge, it did not properly come within their duties; and they referred the deputation to the Board of Trade. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. M. Gibson) received them courteously; but he said that there was nothing in the Act that gave the Board power to interfere. That was quite true, and the only reason he could assign for the manner in which the Act was drawn was, that he supposed its noble author (Lord Redesdale) was anxious to follow as closely as possible another Act of Parliament of a kindred character — the Weights and Measures Act.


said, the Board of Trade were not charged with any powers to carry the Gas Act into execution. About a week ago they were consulted by the Treasury as to the sufficiency of the Act for the object for which it was passed. After consideration they had come to the conclusion that the Act did not require any immediate amendment, and might be carried into execution. They had communicated their opinion to the Treasury; but otherwise they could not interfere, the Act giving to the Board of Trade no authority-whatever.