§ MR. HUSSEY VIVIAN,
in rising to move—That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that She will be graciously pleased to issue a Royal Commission to investigate the probable quantity of Coal contained in the Coal fields of the United Kingdom, and to report on the quantity of such Coal which may be reasonably expected to be available for use:Whether it is probable that Coal exists at workable depths under the Permian, New Red Sandstone, and other superincumbent strata:To inquire as to the quantity of Coal at present consumed in the various branches of manufacture, for steam navigation, and for domestic purposes, as well as the quantity exported, and how far and to what extent such consumption and export may be expected to increase:And, whether there is reason to believe that Coal is wasted either by bad working or by carelessness or neglect of proper appliances for its economical consumption:said:* Sir, the question to which I now seek to call the attention of the House cannot fail to be regarded in this country, which 242 owes so much of its position among the nations of the world to the possession of coal, as a matter of vital importance. At any time it is a question which would deserve to be most carefully and fully discussed, but circumstances have of late directed attention very pointedly to the considerations connected with it. Men, not obscure or unknown, but holding some of the highest positions among us, have brought the subject prominently forward, and fixed the eyes of the country upon it. Some years ago, Sir William Armstrong, as President of the British Association, pointedly directed his observations to this question. He is one of our foremost and most scientific engineers, and the words he then used were certainly calculated to awaken grave fears. Since then we have had a very remarkable book published which has exercised considerable influence upon the present position of the question. That book had not long appeared when it attracted the notice of no less a man than the hon. Gentleman the Member for Westminster (Mr. Stuart Mill), who took an early opportunity of calling the attention of the House to this subject. Subsequently the Chancellor of the Exchequer, upon one of the gravest occasions of the Session—at the period when he is called upon to make the Financial Statement of the year—referred in a marked manner to the coal question, and drew from the facts which he put before the House this moral, that we ought to set our house in order, as it was very doubtful, indeed, in what position the generations that would succeed us might find themselves in reference to this most necessary mineral. Still the nation is without what may be called any authentic statement on the point. I took occasion, shortly after the speech to which I have referred, to say that I had strong reason to doubt whether any such prospective scarcity was in store for us. I believe that we have sufficient coal to last for many, many generations to come. But the question, in my opinion, is not one that ought to rest on the authority of a single book, nor do I think it ought to rest on the statement of a single individual. Let us test the value of the information at present in our possession. What does it amount to? It amounts simply to the book which was compiled by Mr. Hull, five years ago. In all discussions of this subject, Mr. Hull's work has been made a text book, and has formed the basis of all subsequent calculations. That gentle- 243 man certainly deserves our thanks for the efforts which he has made. To him belongs the great merit of being the first who has endeavoured to deal with this great subject comprehensively. During the remarks which I shall have to make it will be necessary for me to refer frequently to the work of Mr. Hull, but if I criticize the figures contained in his book, I shall do so in the most friendly spirit; for everybody must feel that the estimates, which he was at so much trouble to draw up, have facilitated the labours of all who come after him, and are, in fact, the only attempts made, even up to the present time, to deal with this great question in a spirit worthy of, and with care befitting its vast importance. Another work was written later by Mr. Jevons, which is throughout well argued, and exhibits great research, but still I think, as he has based his figures on the original calculations of Mr. Hull, we are bound to go back to the former book, as we shall there find the source and foundation of the arguments of Mr. Jevons. I am well aware that this question is one of such magnitude that it would task the powers of the ablest man among us to cope with it; I do not pretend that I am competent to do so. But this I can claim, that I have a personal acquaintance of many years standing with its practical features, and that I have endeavoured to the best of my ability to make myself master of the details before I ventured to intrude upon the attention of the House. There are several great natural divisions into which this question resolves itself. First the question of depth; unless we can decide on the probable depth at which coal can be worked, we can hardly arrive at any conclusion as to the quantity now in the bowels of the earth which we shall be able to utilize. The question of depth also is assumed to have an important bearing upon the price at which coal can be raised. Price is certainly a most important element in all calculations of the future of our coal supply. Then comes the question as to the amount of coal known to exist in our present coal fields, or the existence of which can be determined without any great difficulty. And that is followed by the still greater question of the quantity of coal that may be supposed to exist in fields yet unknown and undiscovered—fields lying beneath more recent formations. Then we come to that most complicated and difficult question, the rate of consumption. Finally, 244 we have to inquire as to economy of working, and in the use of coal. These are the chief heads into which the main question branches out, and it is essential to examine them all if we desire rightly to comprehend the subject. First, as to the question of depth. Mr. Hull considers, and he has argued the point at length, that a depth of 4,000 feet is the utmost at which we, or those who may come after us, will be able to work coal. I beg the particular attention of the House to the consequences of the limit thus imposed; and I will give, as an illustration, the effect of the rule in the case of a single coal field, that with which I am most intimately acquainted. That limit of 4,000 feet cuts off at one fell swoop from the coal field of South Wales the gigantic quantity of 24,000,000,000 tons. That is the quantity of coal which Mr. Hull calculates to be below this imaginary and arbitrary limit of 4,000 feet, beyond which it is represented that operations cannot be pushed. Those 24,000,000,000 tons would actually supply the present enormous consumption of England for nearly 300 years. Taking the value of these 24,000,000,000 tons, and computing them only at 5s. a ton, we obtain no less than £6,000,000,000 sterling as their value, or something like seven and a half times the amount of our gigantic National Debt, cut off from the resources of South Wales alone by this assumed limit of 4,000 feet. Not only in the South Wales coal field, but throughout all the coal fields of the kingdom, very large deposits will be in portions of the field at a depth greater than 4,000 feet, and from the fields as yet unexplored or undetermined, because lying under more recent formations, it is perfectly plain that enormous deductions must be made from their actual coal contents, if that limit of 4,000 feet is to be retained. What I have said, however, with regard to the single coal field of South Wales, must impress any reasonable man with the conviction that the depth at which coal is capable of being worked, must exercise a material bearing upon the ultimate solution of the problem of the available supply of coal in England. The two reasons which have led Mr. Hull to assign 4,000 feet as the limit beyond which, in his opinion, coal is not attainable, are, first, the increase of temperature, and next, that of pressure. If there is a reasonable presumption that in sinking into the depths of the earth we should come to such high temperatures 245 as would prevent the possibility of our miners working in them, then, indeed, should we be obliged to admit, that there is an impassable limit—a fatal barrier to winning our deep coals. I do not deny that temperature heightens as depth increases—we have abundant proof that such is the fact. But I would ask, in what way were the experiments made? They were made by boring holes in the strata at the pit's bottom, two or perhaps more feet in depth—and sinking thermometers into those holes. But that is not the way in which our miners are dealt with. We do not bore holes, and put our miners into them, and leave them in those holes without air for many hours. It may be all very well to determine scientifically, to what extent, and in what ratio the temperature of the earth increases, and for that purpose the measurement by thermometers placed in holes may be a very proper mode of proceeding. But when we come to the practical question of working, we must go somewhat further. We must consider in what position and under what conditions we can place the miner at his work, and at what depth he can be supplied with abundant and cool air whilst at his work. I contend that you can convey fresh air in such abundance, and at such a temperature to the miner at almost whatever depth he may be, that the question of temperature practically falls away. And not only so, but after a column of cold air has descended the shaft, and circulated through the different main airways of the mine for a considerable period, the strata, even if originally heated, gradually cools down. Of this fact we have sufficient proofs, and I will take one from Mr. Hull's book. At Rosebridge Colliery, near Wigan, the shaft is 1,800 feet in depth. When first sunk to in 1858, the strata showed a temperature of 80°, but after working for 2¾ years, the temperature had fallen to 73°, two feet in the solid strata. This result was entirely due to the circulation of air through the shaft for that comparatively short period, the effect being to cool the strata 7°. Hence it follows that what may even be true when the shaft is first sunk, and the mine first opened, may have ceased to be true after it has worked some time. We must now consider the important and practical question—what temperature actually surrounds the working miner in deep pits. Since I gave notice of the question which I shall have the honour of moving this evening, 246 I have had some experiments made in one of our own collieries. These experiments extended from the 25th of May to the 9th of June, in fact until a few days ago. The temperatures recorded on the intervening days showed that the air at the mouth of the pit stood at a mean of 60°, and in passing down to the bottom of the pit, the moderate depth of 480 feet, the temperature fell to 55°; by the time it reached the bottom of the engine plane, a total depth of 1,200 feet, it had increased to 61°; and after it had done its duty, and passed through all the workings, the return air at the furnace was only 63°. Therefore you find that in practice, in a very large and extensive colliery, 1,200 feet in depth, you have an actual addition to the temperature of the air of only 3° from the time that the air entered the colliery till it left it again. Then take the maximum—for the figures which I have just read to the House represent the mean of the thirteen days' observations—we ought, however, to look also at the effect upon the mine of a higher temperature—the highest temperature recorded at the surface was 67°. At the bottom of the pit the air had been cooled in its passage down to 59°. By the time it reached the bottom of the engine plane, a depth of 1,200 feet, the temperature had only risen to 64°; and on its return to the upcast, after passing through the whole of the workings, it had receded again to 63°, showing a loss in point of heat from the moment of its first entry into the mine of 4°. It may be said that this applies to only a comparatively shallow mine, as the one to which I have been alluding is only 200 fathoms or 1,200 feet deep. But I will quote the deepest mines in the country. I have received some very interesting data with respect to a colliery belonging to the Messrs. Andrew Knowles and Son, near Manchester, a firm very eminent as workers of coal mines, kindly furnished by Mr. John Knowles. On the 5th June, 1866, at the Pendlebury Colliery, the surface heat was 68°; the heat at the bottom of the downcast shaft—a depth of 1,590 feetߞ67°; at the bottom of the engine brow, 500 yards to the deep of the pit, and 2,088 feet of vertical depth, it was 72°; at the end of the west level, 1,100 yards from brow, or 2,160 feet deep, the temperature was 75°, showing an increase of only 8° after passing through the whole of the working places of the mine. But is even that increase altogether due to the 247 temperature of the strata? In a letter dated June 10th, 1866, Mr. John Knowles says—I have no doubt that a very large portion of the increase of temperature at the bottom of the upcast shaft (which is only 8°) is due to the lights from the lamps, the natural warmth of the men, and also of the horses; and that a very small proportion is given off from the strata.Then, again, I take a case quoted by Mr. Hull. In the Shireoaks Colliery, belonging to the Duke of Newcastle, which is 1,530 feet deep, the return air, after passing through the workings, was only 6° higher than the intake at 63°; but, on the other hand, in a close heading, in the same mine and at the same depth, it was 86° or 23° higher. Nothing can more clearly demonstrate the effect of ventilation in keeping down temperature. In the Rose-bridge Mine the intake air was 60½°, and the return 73°, thus showing only an increase of 13° after the air had passed all the men, the horses, and the lights; starting with a low temperature, and without data as to the amount of the ventilation, for Mr. Hull's figures are not clear in this respect. The depth of this mine is 1,800 feet. The House will observe that in the deep mines to which I have been alluding no special arrangements have been made to keep down the temperature; and further, that it may only increase to such an extent as the heat from the men, the horses, and the lights might reasonably be supposed to increase it. If, however, there existed a strong reason for desiring to keep the temperature down, nothing could be more simple or more easy than to arrange various contrivances which would effectually secure that object. I think I could undertake to do it—to, in fact, keep the mine supplied, at almost any depth, with air at nearly the same temperature as that of the air which entered the shaft. It would be only necessary to build slight brick walls along the main airways, arching them over so as to leave a clear space between the walls and the strata, and to carry along this intervening space a slight current of air, connecting it directly with the upcast shaft, which would effectually carry off every particle of heat emanating from the strata. This, undoubtedly, would prevent any possible heat of the strata from influencing the temperature of the main column of air brought into the mine by the downcast shaft, and would cause it to reach the miner at the temperature of the surface 248 air. There are various ways in which an artificially low temperature could be maintained. Much has been said and written on the subject of barometrical pressure; and on this point I would remark, that if heat be produced by additional barometrical pressure, it is equally true that by rarefaction we produce cold. On the Continent they ventilate their mines generally by mechanical exhaustion. I have seen very large and expensive machinery for that purpose in Belgium and France. Our system is to trust chiefly to furnaces. But by the system extensively used in Belgium and France, mechanical exhaustion produces slight rarefaction, and a consequent current of air. Carry the exhaustion further, and you may put the men in mines under such a temperature as is to be found only on an icy mountain or an Alpine peak. I do not think it is desirable to go to such a length, because it is quite unnecessary to do so, and many bad results would follow, especially the additional issue of inflammable gas; but I say that before we suffer ourselves to be cut off from such gigantic quantities of coal as we possess, at great depths, we should undoubtedly adopt some such system rather than submit to those sad results which would ensue from our inability to work our coal mines at great depths. Again, it must be borne in mind that the compressed air engine, which is becoming very useful in the working of our coal mines, may exercise an important influence in respect of temperature. By means of this engine, the air compressed at the mouth of the mine is carried down into the pit, and is given off below. Many coal-cutting machines depend for their working power on compressed air. And what does the House think was one of the first difficulties encountered in connection with this engine? I am told that the cylinders in which the air was compressed became so hot from the emission of latent heat, that is so much heat was given off by the compression of the air, that it became exceedingly difficult to work the engine. The cylinders were eventually placed in water, and thus kept at a proper temperature. Then another difficulty was encountered. As the air was given off, the re-absorption of heat was so rapid that ice was produced. I am told that the valves became choked with ice. When permitted to expand, the air demanded back the heat which had been pressed out of it, and thus produced artificial cold. Before the time when we 249 shall find it necessary to have recourse to our very deep mines, coal-cutting machines will probably be the rule instead of the exception; should their use become thus general, large quantities of artificially cold air would, of necessity, be produced in the depths of our mines. Again, there is a very beautiful theory, which was mentioned to me the other day by Mr. Dickinson, one of the most able and useful of the public servants of this country. He pointed out to me that the gases in mines are of great tension. We know that this is so; for it is almost impossible to wall them back, and we are obliged to allow them to escape. Well, Mr. Dickinson said—Is it not possible that one of those beautiful laws of nature may step in here? May it not be that by a principle of compensation the additional heat of the strata will be taken off by the gases expanding from their high degree of tension, as in the case of air from the compressed air engine, and that thus one law of nature may counterpoise another?I do not say that this theory is correct. It may be, or it may not be, but I think it is a very beautiful one at least. We are not driven, however, to theories, and I now only again express Mr. Dickinson's opinions. Make your shafts sufficiently capacious; make your airways large enough; bring plenty of air down; and you will have the temperature of your mines low enough for all practical purposes at any depth. If this be found insufficient, simply make a double airway, as I before suggested, and you will find no difficulty in having cool air in any part of a mine. The next question is that of pressure. I feel a difficulty in meeting the objection to deep mining on this head, because I can find no evidence to support the assumption. If the superincumbent strata exerted its real pressure, nothing could withstand it, and not a single ton of coal could be worked out of a coal mine of any depth at this moment. Let us see how the matter stands. A cubic yard of stone weighs from 39 cwt. to 40 cwt. At a depth of one yard it exerts a pressure of 3.4 lbs. to the square inch. At a depth of 600 yards—not an uncommon depth—the pressure would be increased to 2,000 lbs. on the square inch. No timber, much less the small ordinary Pit Prop Timber, could withstand such a pressure, and yet you see in such mines comparatively small timber supporting the superincumbent strata wherever timber is needed; but I have been in mines of great depth, and have travelled for miles along them without seeing a single stick of tim- 250 ber set to support the roof. The fact is, that you may make a small hole in a wall and yet not cause the wall to tumble down, you may creep through it and feel no pressure, and that is exactly the case with regard to the gallery of a mine. The area which is occupied by working places is so extremely small that the pressure of the superincumbent strata does not come upon them in its full intensity, and is thus either not felt at all or very slightly felt. Of course, it is perfectly true that where coal is worked out over a large area the strata falls after a time, even up to the surface, but that is a very gradual process. It falls bit by bit, so that the real action upon the superincumbent strata occurs only a long time after the miner has left the spot. One of the great questions which the coal miner has to take into consideration is how to prevent the pressure from coming upon him, and he works his mine so as to cause it to "ride off" him. The fact is, that the pressure of which he is most sensible depends upon the few yards of strata which lie immediately over the coal, and not upon the great depth of the mine. If there are ten or fifteen yards of rotten stuff overhead there will be what is called a "heavy" roof, but if it consists of strong rock there is no occasion for the miner to trouble himself about pressure. Then it is said that coal becomes so dense at great depths that the men can hardly work it. That, however, is not the case. I hold in my hand a letter from Mr. George Elliot, a man who, during all his life, has been engaged in collieries, and who has had the management of some of the greatest concerns in the kingdom, including Monk wearmouth and Lady Londonderry's mines. Well, Mr. Elliot says, that the ease with which coal is worked at great depths is a compensation for any extra cost there may be in raising it. Indeed, so little true is it that coal becomes more dense at great depths, that Mr. Elliot asserts it to be an actual fact that in the mine at Monk wearmouth, which is 1,800 feet from the surface, the coal is worked easier than in mines of less depth. This may be, and I think probably is, an accidental circumstance. I am afraid I am wearying the House [Cries of "No, no!"], but I wish to meet the objections which have been brought forward so prominently in those books which have so terrified the country. Well, then comes the question of water. Now in reality it is very rarely—indeed I have only met with one or two exceptions— 251 that water finds its way into a deep coal mine. There is plenty of water in the superincumbent strata, but the object of the miner is to leave the water behind him, and this he effects while sinking his shaft by putting in a foundation which is perfectly impervious, and "tubbing" his pit from that foundation upwards. In this way the water is kept back, and the mine beneath worked without water being present in it. The fact is that coal strata are generally not waterbearing strata. Their base is for the most part clay, or at least there are many beds of strong clay rocks in them, which keep up the water, and thus deep coal mines are not generally troubled with water. And now comes the question of ventilation. It has been stated that ventilation is more difficult in a deep than in a shallow mine, but there never was a greater mistake. The fact, on the contrary, is, that it is much easier to ventilate a deep mine than a shallow one. The deeper the upcast shaft is the greater is the absolute power of ventilation. The upcast shaft is nothing more nor less than a high chimney, and the higher the chimney is built the greater is the power of draft. So it is in the shaft of a coal mine. Next comes the question as to the increased cost of deep mines. Now the main element of increased cost lies in the first outlay, and of course the first outlay of a deep mine must be greater than that of a shallow mine. Simple figures will best meet a case of this kind. Imagine, for example, an original capital in excess of what is wanted to win an ordinary mine at the present day—for it must be borne in mind that I am speaking of increased cost, of £250,000. That is a very liberal sum, for the majority of mines at present do not cost half as much, perhaps not one-tenth part that sum. [An hon. MEMBER: What is to be the depth of the mine?] I should imagine that for such a sum it might be of almost any depth, I take these figures for the sake of example. Well, £250,000 is equal to 60,000,000 pence. Now I will assume that such a pit as I have referred to will "win" 2,000 acres, which would be represented by something like three miles in one direction, and one in another, Mr. George Elliot has written to me to say that he is now commanding distances of five miles, and that seven would be no difficulty. I will take it, however, at 2,000 acres. Coal one foot thick equals 1,500 tons to the acre, which extending over 2,000 acres, would be equi- 252 valent to 3,000,000 tons. At the same rate 20 feet thickness of coal would be equivalent to 60,000,000 tons, and 1d. per ton upon that quantity would return the original outlay of £250,000. If, then, by the outlay of £250,000 it is possible to "win" 2,000 acres of coal 20 feet thick, and for every ton raised we put by 1d., that sum will recoup the original capital before the mine is exhausted. If a case were taken where the coal is only 10 feet thick, it would be necessary to put by 2d. a ton before the capital could be recouped. It must be evident, therefore, that the question of outlay resolves itself into a 1d., 2d., or 3d. a ton at most, and it may be much less. I will give the House a practical example. Mr. John Knowles says—At the Pendleton Colliery there are three seams at present in work of a total thickness of 13 feet 6 inches in the lowest being at the depth of 530 yards. A section of the strata from the bottom of these pits shows that the Arley Mine would be at a depth of 1,133 yards, and from the surface to that depth there are 46 seams of coal varying in thickness; out of these 20 would be above 2 feet in thickness, and there will be in this range of coal field 60 feet of coal that can be worked. The area of this taking is about 3 square miles (or nearly 2,000 acres).It must be borne in mind that I have been speaking of the future, and not of the present. I am now discussing the question how far the cost of coal is likely to be affected in the future. I think that the only real increase in the cost of working coal from these deep mines would arise from the increased cost of winding; and even that is only a small matter. I find that the cost of our ropes for several collieries and for many years has averaged about a farthing per ton of coal worked from the collieries. Mr. Elliot informs me, that in the collieries with which he is connected, in no case does the cost of the ropes exceed from 1d. to 1½d. per ton. The whole expense of winding does not consist in the ropes, but also in the engine and machinery employed in winding; but in the case of deep mines, the true policy is to put down powerful winding engines which pay for the outlay they involve by enabling coal to be drawn at much the same cost per ton as it can be drawn from shallow mines. I state this not alone from my own experience, but also upon the authority of others. Mr. Knowles writes to me—The improvements that have been made in machinery for raising coal from great depths have almost kept pace with the increased difficulties, and, as a rule, I find that the deeper the pits 253 have been sunk in this neighbourhood, there has been an increased quantity of coal raised, so that the extra cost has been distributed over a larger get of coal.Mr. Elliot writes much in the same strain. He says that the expense of winding coal has not been materially increased, because the apparatus for winding has been so much improved. In winding from these very deep mines a great improvement has been made recently by the introduction of steel ropes, which are very light and very durable, and enable coal to be wound from greatly increased depths at little or no extra cost. Again, in many collieries of great depth, coal is obtained by the use of inclined planes, which indeed have become common in deep mines. In a case with which I am familiar, a pit was originally sunk to the depth of 80 fathoms, and by means of inclined planes the depth has been slowly increased until a depth of 200 fathoms has been reached. I believe that greatly increased depths can be reached by this means gradually and almost insensibly. The truth is that we are arguing very much without knowledge in these matters, certainly with very limited information and views. My impression is that the mechanical genius of those who come after us will be as great in itself and in its developments as that of the past and of the present generations; and that if difficulties arise hereafter, they will be encountered in the manly spirit that has overcome the difficulties of the past. Do not let us then be alarmed for the future on the score of mechanical difficulty, or on account of internal heat. Neither of these causes will prevent our obtaining adequate supplies of coal, or increase greatly its cost. What will really affect the cost of coal more than anything else is the rate of wages. I have made calculations from the cost sheets of large collieries. I find that upwards of 60 per cent of the total cost of coal arises from labour. You may depend upon it that, if the manufacturing industry of this country is destined to curtailment, it will result from the scarcity and the consequent advance in the price of labour. I often look with terror upon the probable progress of that scarcity. The darkest spot upon the horizon of this country is in my opinion the possible scarcity of labour; and therefore I deplore to see the State lending its aid to emigration. We ought by the enactment of good laws, and by striving to ameliorate the condition of the working classes, to keep every 254 man we can in this country. Every able-bodied man who leaves our shores takes away so much of the bone and pith and marrow that are required for the development of our national wealth. If we can only command labour we need not talk of the greatness of the country being endangered by the want of that which Providence has given us in such vast abundance.
I come now to speak of the resources of our coal fields. I cannot but regret that a proposal I made two or three years ago was not adopted, as I think it ought to have been. It may not be generally known that the surveys we possess of many of our mineral districts are upon the small 1-inch scale. It is most important to have the mineral resources of this country properly and accurately ascertained, and I think, therefore, that we have a right to ask that the best possible surveys should be made of the mineral districts. It is a matter of national importance that these districts should be surveyed on a large scale, and that every facility should be afforded for accurately estimating and duly working our mineral riches. I pressed upon the War Department the importance of making a large survey of the district I represent, but I am sorry to say that nothing has yet been done. Our survey is a generation old, it is from twenty-five to thirty years since the 1-inch Ordnance Map was made; and I understand in other mineral districts much the same may be said. I hope that the ground of the present complaint will soon be removed by the extension of the large scale survey to all the mineral districts. I desire to bear testimony to the general accuracy of the geological survey of South Wales, made by my late friend Sir H. de la Bêbe, assisted by Sir W. Logan, Mr. Struvé, Mr. Williams, and others. I have lately tested it, and I have found it wonderfully accurate. Now as to the extent of our coal resources, Mr. Hull's is the only general estimate yet made. I do not desire to pass any hostile criticism upon his book, far from it, I wish to give him every credit for his attempt; but I must consider the mode he has adopted to ascertain what our mineral resources are, and I will illustrate it by the method of computation he applied to the coal field of South Wales. Now, if we suppose that every seam of coal still exists over the entire area, which is not the fact, and assume the gross thickness of the coal contained in seams of two 255 feet and upwards in thickness, which I take at his figure, 84 feet over the whole area, there would be 73,000,000,000 tons of coal. But a deduction must be made for the non-existence of some of these seams over considerable areas; what ought that deduction to be? I do not think it possible for any man, merely from plans and sections, to estimate at all accurately what that deduction ought to be. Mr. Hull deducts at a fell swoop one-third, and reduces the 73,000,000,000 tons to 48,000,000,000 tons. From that residue he deducts one-half for the coal below the depth of 4,000 feet, which leaves 24,000,000,000 tons; and from that again he deducts one-third for waste and the quantity worked out, so that he leaves only 16,000,000,000 tons as the total available for man's use. This calculation appears to be a great deal too rough, and I think we ought not to place too great reliance upon the results to which it leads. At the time the Commercial Treaty with France was under discussion, I made a statement in this House of the quantity of coal which we might expect to win from the South Wales coal field; and finding from Mr. Hull's book, published subsequently, that his estimate of the available quantity of coal differed from my own, I printed my speech, and gave the grounds upon which I had based my calculation, stating my reasons for thinking Mr. Hull's estimate could hardly be correct. I had taken the gross thickness of available coal at 60 feet, deducting therefrom 40 per cent for faults, quantity worked, and loss. I found by a backward calculation that Mr. Hull had assumed a net thickness of only 27½ feet. That I concluded must be an erroneous estimate, and I asked in what part of the section such comparatively barren ground could be found? I find, from the book of Mr. Jevons, that Mr. Hull has since added 10,000,000,000 tons to the original 16,000,000,000 tons he allotted to South Wales, probably owing to my remarks. That is a very large addition, but I am not satisfied with it. The question between us is mainly one of depth. If the 4,000 feet limit of Mr. Hull is to be taken, probably his amended estimate is not far from the truth; but if we can win our coal at a depth of 5,500 to 6,000, my estimate will be exceeded. I pass on to notice the South Yorkshire and the Derbyshire coal fields in order to show the effect of a deduction for denudation in the lump. In these cases, by the same process, I make the original quantity, if 256 every seam had continued through all time to exist, that is, the gross total quantity of coal which existed before any was denuded, to have been 33,500,000,000 tons, while Mr. Hull states the gross total, after making a deduction for denudation, to be 17,000,000,000 tons, being a deduction of very nearly one-half. He then deducts a quarter for the quantity worked, and a quarter for waste, &c., and thus reduces the total available quantity to about 9,000,000,000 tons. Now this calculation may be a perfectly true one; but these are enormous figures, and it will not do to rest simply upon such rough calculations. We must have a thorough investigation and ascertain if possible the real quantity we have in store. I have calculated in the same manner the fifteen principal coal fields in England, and assuming that every seam had continued to exist through all time and that none had been denuded, my calculation gives a gross total of 235,000,000,000 tons. Mr. Hull's gross estimate, after deducting for denudation is 134,000,000,000 tons, leaving little more than half the quantity originally created, and from this quantity he makes further deductions, reducing the total available quantity to 64,000,000,000 tons. That again may be true, but I do not think that such rough calculations as these are worthy of the place they have occupied in the attention of this House and the country. At any rate I think there is margin enough for error in figures of such immense magnitude, and in calculations involving so many assumptions.
Sir, I do not think that any great difficulty would arise in investigating this subject. If the Commission for which I am now moving were granted, and the members of that Commission placed themselves in communication with first class viewers in different parts of the kingdom, and obtained from them the benefit of their local knowledge, they would take the areas in which various seams of coal and ranges of seams were known to exist, and looking at these and estimating quantities in the same manner that any one would who was going to open up a mineral property, we should obtain a fair approximate estimate of the quantity of coal we are likely to have available for all future time. This, however, can only be done by the assistance of those persons who possess considerable local knowledge. If a sound estimate of the nature which I have suggested were once made—an estimate in which the coun- 257 try could place confidence, and which would be really reliable—it need not be repeated, because Mr. Hunt collects with great care year by year the quantity worked in each coal field, and by deducting this quantity from the gross estimate, making due allowance for loss, waste, &c. we could always arrive approximately at the quantity that was left.
I now, Sir, come to a larger question than even that on which I have just touched, and that is the quantity of coal which exists under the more recent formations. First, I will speak of the permian formation which overlays the coal, and next of the trias formation. We used to call these the magnesian limestone and the new red sandstone. But as these names have been replaced by new terms, I suppose we must refer to them now as the permian and trias formations. Now I have taken some trouble to ascertain the thickness of the permian formation. I cannot find that either Professor Phillips or Sir Charles Lyell give any estimate of its thickness in their works upon geology, though they afford a great deal of information upon other points connected with this formation. But Mr. Jukes, who I believe is a member of the Geological Survey, says that—The thickness of the permian formation is believed to vary almost indefinitely within the limits of 1,000 to 3,000 feet.Again, Mr. Hull says that the thickness of the permian formation is in North Staffordshire 600 feet; in Denbighshire from 1,000 to 2,000 feet; in Lancashire from 350 to 650; in Warwickshire 2,000 feet; in Derbyshire and Yorkshire, 130 feet; at Shireoaks in Nottinghamshire, 196 feet; and in the Great Northern coal field, from 500 to 600 feet. Then we come to the trias formation, commonly called the new red sandstone. Professor Phillips takes a typical point in the Vale of Severn district, and computes the depth of this formation at 1,350 feet. He also quotes Mr. Ormerod, who says that in Cheshire it is 1,700 feet thick, composed of upper 700 feet, middle 400 feet, bunter 600 feet. Sir Charles Lyell estimates its thickness in Cheshire and Lancashire at between 1,000 and 1,500 feet. Mr. Jukes says that in South Staffordshire it is 2,100 feet thick. Mr. Hull finds that in Somerset it is from 270 feet to 120 feet thick; in South Staffordshire, the bunter alone, 1,200 feet; in Lancashire, 4,750, of which he estimates the Cheshire red marls at 3,000 258 feet; in Warwickshire. 780 feet; in Leicestershire, 900 feet. Taking these figures I find that the least thickness of the permian formation is put down as 130 feet, and the greatest 3,000 feet, while the trias formation ranges from 120 feet to 4,750 feet. If we add them together we find the least thickness of both formations 250 feet, and the greatest 7,750 feet. But if both together are taken at from 2,000 to 3,000 feet of thickness, in the most unfavourable positions, coal will still be easily attainable below them. These great supposed developments of strata, however, are for the most part simply geological deductions. Now it is extremely difficult to determine, with any degree of accuracy, the thickness of strata from surface measurements alone. These strata are spread over a vast area, and as you have nothing but railway cuttings, roads, quarries, or such like shallow surface data to depend upon in forming your judgment, it is almost impossible to determine accurately the thickness of strata. Undoubtedly in some cases, as in the salt works, where shafts have been sunk, reliable data may be had. But for the most part mere surface indications, I think, will be found unreliable. A variation in the angle or direction of inclination, a fault, or any other sudden change, hidden beneath alluvial deposit at once disturb the best calculations from surface data. All these strata, however, have been sunk through at various points in this country; and coal has been won through all of them, adjoining nearly all the coal fields. In Durham, as we all know, the permian strata has been sunk through very largely, and enormous quantities of coal are being got beneath it, though not half a century ago the highest geological authorities maintained that no coal existed under that formation. At Shireoaks, in Nottinghamshire, the late Duke of Newcastle expended a large sum in sinking for coal, and after penetrating through the red rocks his perseverance and enterprize were fortunately rewarded by winning a very valuable colliery. The permian strata at Shireoaks were thus proved to be, as I have said, only 196 feet in thickness. In Leicestershire, Lord Maynard has sunk a shaft through the new red sandstone, and the result is thus stated by Mr. Holdsworth in his excellent work—Viscount Maynard, on the faith of the sub-trending measures to the southward, made many years ago the bold experiment of boring for them on his Bagworth estates, and after upwards of 259 three years incessant labour, succeeded in the discovery of a richly-stored new coal field, and some of its valuable seams are now being extensively wrought. At this spot, so far from the Ashby coal field, although the sinkings commenced in the uppermost (Keuper) beds of the red marl formation, the whole series proved to be only 105 yards thick (equal to 315 feet) to the coal measures, thus showing the absence of the permian, and the trending of the coal, and its concomitants to the southward at moderate depths, beneath the upper new red rocks.At West Bromwich, where Lord Dartmouth has pits, coal has been won through the permian strata. At Cannock Chase a very large coal field has been opened up through the lower portion of the new red sandstone. And in Worcestershire, in Halesowen Valley, on Lord Lyttelton's estate, extensive sinkings are being carried on by Messrs. Dawes and Co., through the red rocks to the coal measures; one of those land-marks well known to miners, called the "Black Ring," has been met with; and an estimate has been made that the famous "thick coal" will be cut at a depth of only 900 feet. Mr. Jukes says, that at Lord Dartmouth's pits, coal has been won through permian, at West Bromwich, 806 feet; at Lyng Colliery, 550 feet; at Lewisham Pit, 315 feet; and at the Terrace Pit, through 135 feet of red rock. These are moderate depths, and the moral of these various figures is that when these rocks are practically dealt with, it will be found that their thickness is very much less than has been supposed from surface indications. In fact, in all the cases where they have been so dealt with, they have been found comparatively thin. But this really opens up an enormous question, because these formations which are next above the coal, and from below which at various spots coal has been and is being won and worked, occupy an area three times as large as that of the known coal fields of England and Wales, and twice as large as that of the English, Welsh, and Scotch coal fields together. I have had the area of the trias and permian formations measured by a Surveyor upon the Reduced Ordnance map, and I find that they occupy an area of 9,412 square miles; while the area of the English and Welsh coal fields are 2,779, and that of Scotland 1,720; making together 4,499 square miles. I do not say that coal exists under the whole of those red rocks—far from it; but what I believe is, that beneath the formations to which I am now alluding the great coal formation will 260 be as the sea and the barren spots as its islands. Let any one look at the map, and if he will imagine for a moment that these formations are like a great red shawl—the black fringe representing the existing coal fields—he will have a pretty good idea of the vastness of our great coal formation, including at one glance the discovered and undiscovered coal fields. We are in the habit of talking of the coal fields of North Staffordshire and South Staffordshire, of Lancashire, and so on; but these are, in my judgment, merely the outlying fringes of the great coal formation. The day will come when they will be joined together by intermediate workings, and recognized as one vast whole. Then, in the case of the Great Northern formation, extending from Nottingham on the south to South Shields on the north, we have the red shawl with the black fringe folded in length. My impression as to this district is, that the same will be found to be the case; I think that the Durham and Yorkshire coal fields will be found to be continuous. We are, in fact, only working at those parts of the coal fields which have been exposed to view in part by denudation, and in part thrown up to the surface by the wild convulsions of nature. But I have by no means done with the more recent formations. The formation which comes next above the trias is the lias. Now in the Bristol and Somersetshire coal fields the permian, trias, and lias formations have been found to be extremely thin, and coal has been won even through the lias formation, yet a few years ago no geologist would have dreamt of winning coal through lias. Mr. Hull says—Shafts penetrating the lias and red marl into the coal have been sunk at Paulton and Timsbury; and another, near Radstock, commencing in the upper beds of the lias, reaches coal at 200 fathoms.That is to say, 1,200 feet, which is a very moderate depth, in view of the immense thickness which these formations might be expected to attain. The possibility of winning coal through the lias formation is thus proved; but the question is whether that formation, which is of so large an area in England, may not prove to be of such a thickness, including the trias and permian, as to prevent the possibility of reaching coal beneath it. It is quite impossible to say whether the red rocks beneath may thin out; if so, and if the depth through the lias thus proves not insur- 261 mountable, there will be at least a repetition of the area of the present coal fields in those beneath the lias. I do not attach much importance to that eventuality; but still it is possible that at some points coal may be reached through the lias. And this leads me to another question of a very curious character—namely, the possibility of the existence of coal in the South of England. It is the belief of many geologists, and there are good grounds for the belief, that coal does actually exist and may at some time be attainable in the South of England, and, in point of fact, even under this great city, and under the very floor of this House. Geologically, there ought to be enormous formations above the coal. The permian, trias, lias, and then the great oolite, a formation which is largely developed in many parts of England, especially at Bath. Next the green sand formation, which shows itself in great thickness in the Isle of Wight; and then the chalk, an immense formation which is well known in so many places. We thus have six geological formations, each in its full development of great thickness, which, if they exist in such development, must extinguish all hope of attaining coal beneath them; but do they so exist in the South of England? In order to deal with this question properly, I must go back to South Wales. The South Wales coal field, and especially the southern portion of it, is traversed by a succession of parallel anticlinal axes which have caused the dip or inclination of its strata to be at right angles to that of the more northern portions of England. This coal field may be described as a trough running east and west. If we follow out the line of this trough to the eastward, we find that it embraces the Somersetshire coal field; in fact, the anticlinal axes of the Mendips are identical with and mere continuations of those of South Wales. It is to the action of these anticlinal axes that the very existence of the South Wales coal field is due. After passing Somersetshire they disappear beneath the more recent formations at Thornbury on the north and Frome on the south. If we extend this trough on in a straight line, it will pass under London, which will be found to be situated nearly in its centre, and this and parallel troughs will embrace much of the South of England. Extend these troughs still further eastward, and they will be found to embrace almost all the great coal fields of northern Europe, 262 including those of the North of France, Belgium, Westphalia, Saxony, and Silesia. It is very curious that the troughs of coal measure, which commence in South Wales and Devon, should, if thus extended in two parallel lines to the eastward, embrace almost all the great coal fields of the North of Europe. Reasoning thus, geologists have been led to assert the possible existence of available coal in the South of England. But the great question is, what is the thickness of the strata super-posed above these troughs? We have to go but a very short distance to satisfy ourselves on this point. A few miles from Boulogne, just across the Channel, the coal formation actually reappears at the surface, about 170 miles to the eastward of the point at which it disappeared in Somersetshire. Again, in the neighbourhood of Valenciennes pits have been sunk through the chalk—through the very same formation as that on which we now stand, for after the London clay comes the chalk—and they are winning and working large quantities of coal from beneath the chalk. Let any one travel along the North of France, and then come over to this side of the water, and say whether there is any apparent geological difference between the two sides of the Channel. The white cliffs on the one side are to all appearance the same as the white cliffs on the other, and Valenciennes is on the same continuous formation as London. But how different would be the contour of the country if in truth the six great geological formations, which terminate with the chalk, actually exist in their full development on our side of the Channel; assuming, as we have a fair right to assume, that the coal measures or still older formations which are unconformable with the more recent rocks, retain a uniform level or datum line from Somersetshire to the Boulognnais—and any other assumption, seeing that we are now considering a line parallel to the line of strike of the older rocks, would be unreasonable—we must, then, have these six great formations piled high above the sea level, and our southern coast would present all the features of a lofty mountain range. Instead of this the features of the country on both sides of the Channel are the same; and if coal be found beneath the chalk strata of Boulogne or Valenciennes, what reason is there why it should not be also found beneath Brighton or London? I take it, therefore, that there is no strong ground for disbelieving that 263 at some day, perhaps not very distant, coal may be found in the South of England. That, however, is a thing which nothing but the point of the pick and the borer can determine. I believe that sooner or later on the northern shores of the Channel coal will be found by the French, who need it more than we do, and I venture to state that no impossibility exists that a coal field may not be by-and-bye discovered almost on the very spot where we stand.
But I have not yet finished with the subject of collateral adjuncts to our supplies of mineral fuel. Within the last few years a discovery of extraordinary importance has been made in America—I allude to the discovery of mineral oil. That discovery has caused almost a social revolution in America. We read accounts of colossal fortunes being made out of this wonderful substance, and there can be very little doubt that it is destined to play a great part in the future as regards heat, light, and everything connected with combustion. This mineral oil is not wanting in England—or rather within the United Kingdom. Abundance of mineral containing oil has been now discovered in Scotland. It may not be generally known, but it is known to several hon. Members of this House, that discoveries have been made of oil shale, which yields abundant supplies. I am told that the extraordinary Torbane mineral yields no less than 120 gallons per ton; and that shale yielding only 28 gallons per ton can be profitably worked. This shale is now being worked over a large extent of country, and there is a probability of its being found in all our coal fields. I have no doubt that the oil produced from the shale is nothing more than the result of gases which have exuded from the coal, which the shale has probably arrested. I believe, too, that it is but little known as yet what services this oil is destined to render to mankind. On this head I will read an extract from The Press newspaper, headed Petroleum versus Coal. It is as follows:—Mr. Gladstone may be comforted. When coal fails we can still find refuge in petroleum. A boiler made at Woolwich to test the practicability of burning the oil for steam purposes has been tried; and the result is pronounced exceedingly satisfactory. There were tubes for superheating the steam and consuming the smoke; and nothing seemed to need alteration except the size of the boiler. The fires were kept up so easily that the stoker was quite at a discount. Other people, besides enthusiasts in oil, talk of petroleum as 264 certain to come soon into use for marine and other engines. It would seem that oil is more plentiful in the world than coal, it occupies a smaller space, and it burns without leaving any waste in the way of cinders or ashes. There appears no reason why it should not be really much cheaper as a steam generator than coal.I think, Sir, I have now finished what I had to say with reference to our coal resources; and I next come to the important question of its consumption. That I know is held by many to be even more important than any of the questions with which I have hitherto dealt. I confess this question of our future consumption is to me much less satisfactory, because it cannot be dealt with in the same simple and practical manner. It is extremely difficult to forecast what will be the consumption of coal in this country during generations and in ages to come. Sir William Armstrong, who was the first to call attention to this point in 1863, proceeded on a very simple principle of computation. He stated what had been the increased quantity of coal used from year to year, and then calculated from that how long our resources were likely to last if we went on increasing our consumption at the same rate. He took our increased consumption at 2,750,000 tons per annum, and calculated, on Mr. Hull's data, that at the same rate of increase, our supply of coal would be exhausted in 212 years. Mr. Jevons stated our increased consumption at 3.26 per cent per annum from 1854 to 1863, and took an average increase of 3½ per cent. In 50 years, the increased consumption, if computed by an increase in a geometric ratio, would be 458 per cent, or 5½ times as much as it is at present. Thus, while in 1861 the consumption was 83,500,000 tons, in 1961 it would, if it increased in a geometric ratio of 3½ per cent, amount to 2,607,500,000 tons per annum. At that rate 110 years' consumption would exhaust our mines, assuming Mr. Hull's quantity to be correct. But we must look a little deeper into this matter. Our consumption in the past year was 92,787,873 tons of coal. The first question I ask myself is this, in what way was this 92,787,873 tons consumed? An estimate has been made that each person in the kingdom consumes about one ton of coal per annum. If that be so, and it is probably not far wrong, we may roughly set down the quantity used for domestic purposes in the United Kingdom at 30,000,000 tons. This is one of the points that I would have ascertained by 265 the Commission if appointed. Then I have calculated that iron consumes in its manufacture 24,435,747 tons—say 24,500,000. Our exports of coal in 1865 were 9,170,477—say 9,000,000 tons, which leaves for all other manufactures, railways, home steam navigation, and other purposes, say 29,250,000 tons, making in all, 92,750,000 tons. Now it is pretty plain that as far as domestic use is concerned, the consumption of coal can hardly be expected to increase more rapidly than the population. At least we have no reason to believe that those who come after us will consume more coal per head than we do. The tendency would rather be to burn less. As the population only increases at the rate of 1.2 per cent per annum, the increase in the consumption of coal for domestic use can hardly go beyond that rate of increase. Our exports of coal in 1854 were 4,309,255 tons. In 1864 they amounted to 8,809,908 tons. There was therefore an increase within that period of 10 years of no less than 4,500,653, or 104½ per cent, or 10½ per cent per annum. The sudden increase of our exports during the last 10 years will account for the increased quantity of coal produced from our mines to the extent of about one-fifth only. But there is very little hope of that increase continuing. In the past three years the increase has only been at the rate of 3½ per cent per annum. The export of coal in 1862 was 8,301,852 tons, and in 1865 it was 9,170,477 tons, showing an increase in three years of 868,625 tons—about 10½ per cent in three years, or, as I have stated, 3½ per cent per annum. Of course, it is perfectly well known that the leading causes which gave rise to the sudden increase in our export of coal were the great extension of steam navigation throughout the length and breadth of the world, and the repeal of the coal duty under the French Treaty. Thus the actual rate of increase of coal exported during the last three years is no more than the increased rate of production throughout the kingdom. But there is an increase going on which in my judgment in a great measure accounts for the great increase in our consumption, and that is the increased quantity of coal used in the manufacture of iron. While the average increase in the consumption of coal has been 3½ per cent per annum, the manufacture of iron has increased, I now refer to pig iron alone, at the rate of 5⅓ per cent. The coal used in other manufactures, such as textile fabrics, 266 bears but a small relation to their value; it probably does not exceed 1 per cent. But iron, like a devouring giant, consumes more than its share. The quantity of pig iron manufactured in 1854 was 3,069,838, and in 1864 it was 4,767,951, showing an increase in 10 years of 1,698,113, or 55.30 per cent=5⅓ per cent per annum. If the manufacture of iron continues to increase at that ratio, the coal used to make it must also increase at the same rate, or if it does not, an increased quantity of coal will not be used. In calculating the quantity of coal consumed in making one ton of pig and bar iron, I take the estimate of Mr. Baker, the inspector of the Staffordshire district. My impression is that Mr. Baker's estimate is somewhat high, but as his figures have been published I accept them as my data. Mr. Baker estimates that in making one ton of pig iron 2½ tons of coal are consumed, while in the conversion of pig iron into bar or wrought iron 3½ tons of coal are consumed per ton. About one-fourth of the pig iron manufactured may be assumed to be used as pig, the other three-fourths being converted into bar or wrought iron. From these data I find that in making 4,767,951 tons of pig iron, at 2½ tons of coal per ton, 11,919,877 tons of coal would be used; and to convert three-fourths of that quantity—namely, 3,575,963, into wrought iron at 3— tons per ton, 12,515,870 would be required, so that we have 24,435,747 tons of coal used for the manufacture of iron alone. If the increased consumption of coal is to be calculated by geometric progression I have an equal right to calculate the increased production of iron in the same manner, and therefore at the rate of 5⅓ per cent per annum. But I will be merciful and take it at 5 per cent; then 4,769,951 tons of pig iron, increasing at the rate of 5 per cent per annum, will in 100 years be equal to 626,991,583 tons per annum, and 1,125,986,597 per annum in 112 years, and the coal to be used in making this iron, at the same rate for pig and wrought, would, according to this theory of geometric progression, be stated thus—24,435,747 at 5 per cent per annum=3,213,331,617 per annum in 100 years, and 5,770,680,864 in 112 years. In 1961 iron would use 2,775,796,665 tons of coal. But how does this correspond with the quantity Mr. Jevons has calculated upon? He states, from statistical calculations, that the total production of our coal mines in England must in the year 1961 amount 267 to 2,607,000,000 tons per annum to meet all the wants of England, including of course the manufacture of iron. So that we have here a very curious paradox reposing upon the incontrovertible logic of figures—namely, that the lesser quantity, although contained in it, still overtakes the greater, and we arrive at this ridiculous result, that the quantity of coal consumed for the making of iron alone exceeds the total quantity which Mr. Jevons lays down, according to the theory of geometrical progression, as required for the total consumption of the kingdom, including iron, 100 years hence. The truth is, that calculations of this nature, based upon a constant increase by geometrical progression, are not to be relied upon. They break down when tested by common sense. Is it conceivable that such a quantity of iron could possibly be used? Where could it be used? How could it be used? It must be borne in mind that, during the past ten or fifteen years, we have been covering one-half the world with railways. We have a perfect net-work of railways at home, and we have made rails, or supplied with iron for railway purposes, Russia, America, and nearly all the Continent of Europe. India, too, has been getting on with the construction of her railways, and the rails have all been supplied by this country. And yet, when we have covered half the world with rails, we find ourselves involved in this absurdity, that, according to the theory of geometric progression, we must, year by year, go on making, not alone the same number of miles of railway that we have heretofore made, but as many more miles of railway as geometrical progression imposes upon us. Sir, I do not believe it. It is simply nonsense. It comes to this, that in the year 1976 we should be making 240 times as many miles of railway as we are making at the present time. This is simply a reductio ad absurdum. The whole question of the consumption of coal or anything else, or the rolling up of money by geometrical progression, must break down, and always does, when it comes to be tested by plain common sense. I do not believe it possible that the greatness of England can depend upon her increase in a geometrical ratio. Neither coal, nor iron, nor cotton is king, but the prosperity of this country depends upon our general manufacturing activity and industry, and our commercial prosperity maintained and increased from year to year, but not for ever and for ever multiplying itself at the whirl- 268 wind velocity of the past decade. There is plenty of greatness in store for this country, and we need not yearn after a constant expansion in a geometric ratio, nor lament if such be not accorded to us. Look at the wealth laid up for us in this one item, "Coal." We are now raising 92,000,000 tons of coal annually, which, even at 5s. a ton, represents a sum of £23,000,000. Speaking roughly, one-half of that goes in wages, and one-half in materials. What enormous benefits the expenditure of that sum annually indicates! Who shall describe the ramifications of its operations? That amount circulates through the length and breadth of this land, as the blood circulates through our veins, and "One and All," in a thousand direct and indirect ways, we are enriched by it, not individually alone, but nationally and collectively. If only 2s. per ton is saved to some one, there is an addition of £9,000,000 annually to the capital of the country, as the produce of this one source of wealth, stored up for us by a gracious Providence. I will not talk of what this capital would come to if it were accumulated at interest. If you accumulate only £5,000,000 per annum, at 5 per cent compound interest, it would amount to £800,000,000, equal to the National Debt of this country, in forty-five years. Let us, for an instant, contemplate and value the stock of coal we have remaining; Mr. Hull estimates it at 83,000,000,000 tons. I believe it to be far more, but even that quantity at 5s. a ton represents £21,000,000,000, as the value of the coal in our known coal fields at 5s. per ton. Sir, even in this modest estimate of the value of our coal presents figures so gigantic that they are almost beyond the grasp of the human mind. £21,000,000,000 is a capital sum, the interest of which alone at 3 per cent would annually produce £630,000,000, nearly ten times as much as the whole income of the United Kingdom, and almost equal annually to the capital of our National Debt. We have, as I believe, other coal fields not yet discovered, but before our known coal fields are exhausted that amount of wealth must be distributed and ramified through the whole of the kingdom. It is impossible to say to what pitch of greatness a nation may not rise which has such vast wealth stored up for its future use, and it must be borne in mind, that coal though essential to, yet enters in an insignificant degree into the cost of many of our most impor- 269 tant manufactures. I am assured that in the manufacture of textile fabrics coal does not represent 1 per cent of the total cost, and thus minute portions of this inestimably valuable mineral, conduce to the acquirement of collateral gains which cannot be fully expressed. I take coal at 5s. per ton, and prove my case from that modest figure, but it is self-evident, that it really represents in our social system benefits which must accrue to this country in high multiples of such a figure, so that the gains from the working of 83,000,000,000 tons cannot be measured even by the enormous capital sum thereby set in motion, but must be infinitely multiplied by the vast ramifications of the benefits which must incidentally accrue to various branches of our trade and commerce. It is not permitted to us to forecast events, but thus much we know from the hard physical facts which are before us susceptible of demonstration, that there are mineral riches and material wealth in vast abundance stored up for this favoured country, wealth which no present spendthrift can forestall, because its production must necessarily be a slow and gradual process. There is, indeed, no need whatever to fear for the future in this respect. One thing, however, is certain, other countries will to some extent step in and develop their mineral riches. America, for instance, is stated to possess 196,000 square miles of coal field. This is something too gigantic to conceive, being almost forty-four times greater than the enormous quantities I have mentioned as being possessed by this country. It is impossible to doubt that America must play a very prominent part hereafter in the production of all those manufactures which chiefly require the consumption of coal. This gigantic store must sooner or later enter into the general supply of the world. It is simply a question of labour, and when labour is procured in sufficient abundance, you may depend upon it that those coal fields will be developed to an enormous and unparalleled extent. But, in my judgment, England will even then be able to hold her own so far as Europe and a large portion of the world is concerned. We have, indeed, plenty of coal stored up for ourselves and for others; but it is plain that America must enter into competition with us for the general supply of the world, and quite certain that she will not draw her supplies, as she has hitherto done, even in part, from us. But America is not the 270 only country which possesses coal. There are considerable coal fields in France. Belgium is competing with us in those manufactures which depend on coal. I have known instances recently in which Belgian iron manufacturers have absolutely taken away contracts from the greatest iron manufacturers of this country, and I believe simply from our high rate of labour. That is, you may depend upon it, the most serious question now affecting the manufacturing industry of this country. I mean the competition of cheap foreign labour. It is estimated that the coal fields of Northern France and Belgium together, cover 1,200 square miles. In Rhenish Prussia they are put down by Mr. Hull at 900 square miles; but the Prussian Government are constantly extending the area of their coal fields by borings, and thus additional tracts are being continually discovered. The Westphalian coal field is stated by Mr. Hull to extend over 963 square miles; but its limits are not defined, and may be and probably are far greater. The Russian coal field of the Dnieper and the Don were estimated by Sir Roderick Murchison at 11,000 square miles, or two and a half times as much as the discovered coal fields of this country. I have myself seen in Silesia, not many miles from the Russian frontier, a seam of coal nearly fifty feet thick; and there is in that district no inconsiderable area of coal field. Scarcely a country in the world can be named in which coal is not found. Spain has a large coal field in the Asturias. Coal is found in Austria, in India, in Japan, in China, in New Zealand, in Australia, in Brazil, in Chile, and even in Melville Island. In fact, you can hardly go to any part of the world without finding rich stores of coal. Providence has not stored up these precious hoards for no purpose, and although the real resources of these countries have not yet been developed, depend upon it they soon will be, and that their trade will be proportionately increased, while the drain upon our resources will not in the same degree continue. England, however, will not be the less great because she does not supply the whole world with iron and coal.
I now come to consider the last branch of this subject—namely, the question of economy in the production and in the use of coal. It is extremely difficult to deal with this part of the subject, because here there are really no data to go upon. One thing however I may say, that some sys- 271 tems of working coal are far more economical than others, and that improvements are being constantly made in the working of coal. The system known as the "stall and pillar system," is the most wasteful possible, and I am glad to say that it is being gradually abandoned. The sooner this wasteful system is entirely abandoned the better. I have heard the loss from this system, estimated by competent judges, at from 10 to 30 per cent. Mr. Bassett of South Wales, an engineer of some eminence, who acts for Lord Tredegar in the management of his extensive mineral property, and who has charge of about fifty collieries for the lessors, read a paper before the Institute of Engineers of South Wales, in 1861, and gave six instances of the working of mines, and the following is the result with regard to five of them. One relates to the working of 27 acres on the "long wall" system, and the loss, comparing the computed quantity due to the thickness of the seam with the amount of coal actually obtained, was 6.40 per cent. In another case of 12 acres, on the same system, the loss was only 2.14 per cent. Mr. Bassett gives another instance of 36 acres worked on the old "stall and pillar" system, in which the loss was 30.43 per cent. In a fifth case of 88 acres the loss was 34.09 per cent. In a sixth case of 64 acres, the loss reached 39.84 per cent. Undoubtedly there may be and are various circumstances in the instances referred to by Mr. Bassett, which may account to some extent for these results; and I do not believe that such losses as those which I have last mentioned usually occur; nor perhaps that coal can be worked under the most favourable circumstances with such small average loss as he has described. Much must undoubtedly depend on the nature of the coal, the roof and the bottom, as also its freedom from dirt, which sometimes becomes inextricably mixed with the coal. The saving also in the first instances is not all due perhaps to the "long wall" system, but partly also to the quality of the small, being in the one case good and the other bad and worthless, but I believe, that in many instances wasteful and bad systems of getting coal still prevail. On the question of economy in the consumption of coal, I would not have it thought either that very great savings have not been made, or that further savings may not also be practicable. Undoubtedly every manufacturer who consumes coal, considers that one of the main elements of his suc- 272 cess must lie in economy of all kinds, and he strives as far as possible to economize the consumption of coal. His thoughts are constantly directed towards its economical consumption; and it is only due to the intelligence and industry of this country to give one or two prominent instances in which the consumption of coal has been economized. There have been many inventions for this purpose, which have been most successfully applied. One of the most successful inventions was that of hot blast, in the production of pig iron, by which millions of tons of coal have been saved, and will be saved for all time. Then there is the process of using the waste gases from iron blast furnaces, by which again millions of tons have also been and will be saved, a very beautiful invention, first perfected by M. Fabre de Fours. I remember some twenty-five years ago visiting an obscure works on the Continent, Wasseralphingen, where that process, which is now so successfully established in this country, was then drawing its first faint gasps under his auspices. Then again, waste heat from reverberatory furnaces is largely utilized, so that at no well conducted iron works do you now see the production of power dependent on the barbarous use of crude coal. Then again, the dense volumes of smoke which formerly issued out of every chimney in the metropolis, no longer defile and pollute all we touch; they are now consumed and turned to profitable purpose. The saving of coal by these various means has been almost incalculable. But I cannot refrain from alluding to one of the most splendid inventions of this age. I allude to the Bessemer process, by which immense quantities of coal have been already saved, and still more will be directly and indirectly saved hereafter. It is well known that cast iron is not iron, but a combination of iron and coal, or strictly of iron and carbon. By Mr. Bessemer's invention air is blown at a high pressure through the heated metal. By that means the coal contained in the metal is got rid of, and the iron is reduced to its metallic state, so that what previously required the consumption of immense quantities of crude coal is now effected by consuming the carbon contained in the body of the metal itself. One result is that the metal thus obtained is far more durable and strong than that obtained by the method previously in use. The steel or iron thus produced has been and is being rolled into rails; and it is 273 within my own knowledge, that sixteen years wear can be guaranteed for them, while previously rails of the best wrought iron that could be got, did not last more than the same number of months in some positions. The saving therefore by this invention is not alone in the use of coal, but indirectly in the duration of the iron produced, which has been proved to be some twenty times greater than wrought iron of ordinary make; and it is not too much to say, that rails made by this process, which have stood the wear of our greatest stations for considerable periods, are likely to prove everlasting when laid down in ordinary positions. But savings of coal are not confined to iron making alone; they are to be found in all branches of manufacture; in one comparatively small case, that of spelter, I may mention that the same work is now done with one-fifth of the coal that was formerly used. I have known as much as 25 per cent struck off the consumption of coal by the mere alteration of the depth of the grate of a melting furnace, the work being at the same time better done. In fact it is impossible to say to what extent we may not go in economizing the use of coal, for day by day inventions are brought out for this purpose. Black smoke is the most barbarous form of waste, which it needs no chemist to appreciate; but it must not be forgotten that Providence has decreed that nothing in this world shall be destroyed or ever cease to exist. Sir, we ought to remember that the frail body which decays, the iron which rusts, the coal which burns, still exist and will exist for ever and ever, so long as ads world endures; nothing ceases to be; nothing that ever was, is not, in some shape, still; the form varies, but the material element is there. So with coal. Coal when it burns undergoes two changes; the atom of carbon combines with an atom of oxygen, and produces a volatile and inflammable gas called carbonic oxide, which again, when it burns, produces intense heat, and, taking up another atom of oxygen, becomes carbonic acid, a heavy uninflammable gas; but this may be again decomposed, as in the blast furnace, and in that case the original atom of carbon would again be capable of exerting its pristine vigour by producing intense heat in its reconversion into carbonic acid, thus doing its work over and over again. I am well aware of, but I need not trouble the House with, the difficulties which stand in the way of such a gigantic saving as is 274 involved in this problem; in the blast furnace it is solved; why should it not hereafter be solved in the reverberatory furnace?
I think I have now touched upon pretty nearly every point that ought to be touched upon in dealing with this question, and I am sensible that I have done so very imperfectly and very inefficiently. [Cries of "No, no!"] Still I hope I have now combatted the notion that there will be a speedy end to or diminution of our supply of coal, although I may not perhaps have done so successfully. It only remains for me now to notice the Amendment to my Motion of which notice has been given. It is proposed to refer the question to the Geological Survey, or rather to the Museum of Practical Geology. I speak with very great reluctance on this point; and I do not desire to say a single word which is not highly respectful to the members of the Geological Survey. The President of that Survey, Sir Roderick Murchison, who may be said to stand on the very pinnacle of scientific fame, was one of my late father's oldest and most valued friends, and I, his son, have received nothing but kindness from that distinguished gentleman. Several other members of the Geological Survey are well known to and highly esteemed by me; and if I thought a question of this kind could be properly left in the hands of any one body of men, I know of none I should be more willing perhaps to leave it to than to the members of the Geological Survey. But I do not think that this is a question which could be left to any one body of men. It is a broad and large question, and requires the consideration of men of varied minds and varied experience, practical and commercial, as well as purely scientific. For my own part, I hope to see Lord Granville, or the Duke of Argyll, or some men of like position and ability at the head of this Commission. I should wish also to see among its members some practical coal-viewers from our extensive coal fields, as well as men of high scientific attainments. I think that if some of the members of the Geological Survey were appointed to serve upon it their appointment would be attended with much advantage to the inquiry. I should like also to see upon the Commission some one or two sound commercial men having especially a practical knowledge of the iron trade. It would, in my opinion, be highly unsatisfactory to delegate this question to any body of men holding a 275 particular set of views; nor am I singular in that opinion, for I find in the Colliery Guardian, of the 26th May, the following passage in an article by no means complimentary in all respects to my Motion:—The House of Commons will probably agree to this in order to dispose of the question in the most feasible and satisfactory way; not without hope perhaps that some valuable information and useful suggestions may thereby be obtained. Whether such expectation will be realized will depend altogether on the composition of the Commission; for if it consist mainly of scientific men, that is, of men in the habit of talking about coal or gathering statistics of the quantity raised, used, and exported, but with no experimental knowledge of the working of coal mines—the results of its inquiries will possess little substantial value. … If any good is to come out of the Royal Commission to inquire into the national stock of coal, the gentlemen intrusted with the task must be guided by practical knowledge rather than philanthropy or philosophy, for thus only will they be able to get at the root of the matter. … In conclusion, we may observe, that the colliery owners entertain no objection to the appointment of the proposed Royal Commission for inquiring into the duration of the coal supply, provided the information sought to be asked for in a proper and civil manner, and used for legitimate purposes. The respect with which they will regard the Commission, and the value which they will attach to its labours, will depend altogether on the sort of men of which it is composed.In that view I concur. I think the value of this Commission will depend mainly on the men who may be appointed to serve upon it, and I do trust that we may have a good sound practical mixed Commission, which will go into this question thoroughly, and if possible, set it at rest once for all, so that we may no longer be frightened out of our wits by these statements as to the probable exhaustion within a limited period of our coal fields. In conclusion, I beg to thank the House for the great kindness and patience with which they have listened to a statement, which I am well aware has extended to an unusual length, but which I have nevertheless endeavoured in every way to curtail. I beg to move the Address of which I have given notice.
§ MR. LIDDELL
said, that in seconding the Motion which had been so ably proposed by his hon. Friend in his comprehensive and exhaustive speech, he would take it for granted that they were all agreed upon the importance of that subject. It was a mere truism to say that the manufacturing supremacy of this country depended upon our retaining a cheap and abundant supply of coal. In treating the question he would not attempt to follow his hon. Friend who had just sat down into 276 any scientific, geological, or geometrical calculations, but would content himself with making a few practical suggestions as to the course which he thought the proposed inquiry ought to take. First of all, he hoped and believed that the Government were prepared to grant a Commission of Inquiry, because he would remind the House that no small amount of apprehension had been created out of doors on the matter. Very able Members of that House on more than one occasion that Session had stated their own views upon it, and supported those views by the written opinions of others who had studied the subject closely. But the opinions of private Members and even of public writers were not to be placed in the same scale with the observations which had fallen from the leader of the House. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had not only endorsed statements made in that House, but had even gone so far as to put the probable exhaustion of our workable coal fields in the front rank of his reasons for the financial operations which he proposed with respect to the National Debt. It was unnecessary to point out that the apprehensions that had previously existed in the public mind had gained ground by the tone adopted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer; and it was plainly the duty of the Government to grant a Commission for the purpose of showing either that the apprehension which had been excited in the public mind was well founded, or that there were no real grounds for any alarm on that subject. Indeed, his hon. Friend had gone a long way that night towards appeasing the public mind; and representing, as he did, a large coal district, he tendered his thanks to his hon. Friend for helping to allay the apprehensions which had been created by speakers in that House and by writers out of doors. Having spoken of the dependence of our manufacturing industry upon abundant supplies of coal, he would remind the House that although by God's blessing those supplies were abundant, and although that abundance might be all but inexhaustible, yet our industry was subjected to very close and keen competition with other nations, those other nations being also coal producers and largely endowed with those invaluable resources. Any considerable rise in the price of coal might, therefore, very materially alter our position in respect to that competition and throw the balance greatly in favour of our competitors. Having himself been in com- 277 munication with Sir William Armstrong on that subject, he was sure the House would be glad to hear the opinion of so eminent a practical man, who had devoted a great deal of time and labour to the examination of that question, and was one of the first persons who had called public attention to it in his able address to the British Association. Sir William Armstrong said—I am far from thinking that the geology of the question is the only thing we require, but I do think it is the first thing we require. I am of opinion that we ought to have a complete geological coal map, showing the area, number, thickness, depth, and inclination of the various coal beds, and the extent to which they have severally been worked. When we get this fundamental information, then I say let the evidence of practical men be brought to bear upon the facts either before a Royal Commission or a Parliamentary Committee. It is difficult to get facts from those who have interests at stake, and I think we should endeavour to obtain as much independent information as possible. I therefore think that the first step should be to set the geological surveyors at work upon the subject.He entirely concurred in those remarks of Sir William Armstrong, and attached very great importance to the constitution of the Committee or Commission. The question to be inquired into was one of national importance, and the attention of the nation would be concentrated on the investigation. It might and probably would be that the whole trade of the country would be affected more or less by the results of the inquiry; and they must inspire public confidence both in the bonâ fides of the inquiry and in the competence of the inquirers. In order to do that it would be absolutely necessary to combine the maximum of scientific and practical knowledge with perfect independence of any particular class of views or any particular class of interests. He wanted, therefore, to see a thoroughly independent Commission dealing with the question from a national point of view, and with reference only to the national interests. There were one or two points into which it was very desirable that inquiry should be instituted. He should like to know something of the coal-producing countries of which he had spoken. He should like to know the price of coals at the pit's mouth in those different countries (he referred more particularly then to European countries), also the price at which they delivered their coals at their centres of manufacture, and likewise the price at which they delivered their coals at their respective ports 278 of shipment. And here he might observe that although our export of coal had been but a fraction of the whole quantity of coal raised in this country, yet it was now a largely increasing branch of industry, and one in which an immense amount of capital was invested; and in these days of free trade it was not to be supposed that a heavy export duty on coal would be advocated. Such an impost would be very unfair towards those who were engaged in the trade. His hon. Friend had only done justice to Mr. Holdsworth, a gentleman who had studied and written on the subject of the existence of coal beds under the new red sandstone. That gentleman had for thirty years held the theory of the existence of valuable coal beds at accessible depths throughout the Midland districts of this country, a theory which he had argued out by induction and proved by fact, although it had met with no inconsiderable degree of antagonism on the part of other geologists. It was not to be expected that the Government would carry on costly experiments, or make borings at great expense to the public, in order to discover the truth on that point; but he believed it would only be necessary to direct public attention to Mr. Holdsworth's views in order to stimulate that individual effort which he was convinced would not be found wanting. Whatever good results might follow these investigations, one very excellent one could not fail to ensue—namely, the attention of the public would be directed to the necessity for practising greater economy in the consumption of coal. There was still great room for improvement in the construction of furnaces and domestic fire grates, by which a smaller quantity of fuel would be used. The various ways in which coal was employed in this country had been very properly classified under three great heads; it was used for household purposes, for the production of motive power, and for the manufacture of iron and operations of that description. Was it not possible largely to economize the consumption of coal in private houses? The fire-places in our sitting-rooms and kitchens were constructed on no other principle apparently than to consume the greatest amount of coal and to give out the smallest possible amount of heat in return; and this he held did not accord with the high scientific renown of a country like England. He would now state to the House an important fact in regard to the coal used in the army. Four years ago the soldiers of the army 279 consumed 1½lb. of coal per head per day for culinary purposes; but this amount, owing to tuition and improved supervision, was reduced to ½ lb. per day; and even upon this many regiments made a considerable saving—in some cases as much as 8lb. per month—half of the value going to the men to form a fund to improve their rations. This was only a single item, but it was instructive, and furnished a proof of what might be done in the direction of economy. The same remark applied to the use of coal in our fire places; and when it was considered that 29,000,000 of tons were annually consumed for domestic purposes alone it was evident that there was room for considerable economy in this direction. Then as to the next head—the consumption of coal in the production of motive power. The opinion of Sir William Armstrong was decisive upon this point, for that distinguished authority had stated that the average quantity of coal expended in realizing a given effect by means of the steam engine was about thirty times greater than would be requisite with an absolutely perfect heat engine; and fully one-fourth of the whole of the coal produced was used in the production of heat for motive power. Here was another opening for the exercise of extensive economy. Every one who had been in our coal and manufacturing districts must have observed the large volumes of smoke which were hourly and daily poured forth from the chimneys of manufactories; this smoke was to a great degree wasted fuel, undeveloped heat. It had been calculated that two-thirds of the whole heating power of the coal consumed escaped undeveloped into the air, and it was to be regretted that it was not applied and used for reproductive purposes. Fuel was the mainstay of our industry, and it was to be regretted that this undeveloped heat was not employed for reproductive purposes, instead of its being allowed to destroy and deface the fair face of nature, to obscure the light of Heaven, and put the inhabitants of these districts to inconvenience and discomfort. It was no doubt a large question, and probably some of his constituents would be annoyed at the attack he had made upon them, but he should remind them that it would be economy on their part to utilize that undeveloped heat, and he had no doubt when they were fully persuaded of it, that they would cheerfully adopt it. When they considered there were a thousand blast furnaces in operation for the manufacture of iron the ques- 280 tion assumed gigantic and appalling proportions. They had been told there were other substitutes for coal, such as electricity which might be applied to motive power for the purpose of locomotion, but he must remind them that for this extraordinary and almost supernatural force to act, Sir William Armstrong had stated that coal was the best and cheapest base on which to produce it. He had been surprised at the stress which had been put upon what he called the Anglo-Saxon argument; but while he had great confidence in the energy and industry of the people of this country he did not place too much reliance on that argument. Emigration was going on to a country where energy and invention had the fullest and the freest scope, and where the mineral resources were absolutely inexhaustible. He believed his hon. Friend had not overstated the resources of America, a country destined to be England's greatest, most powerful, and most zealous rival in commerce. He fully concurred in the observation that every shipload of emigrants which left these shores was so much taken away from our productive power, and so much added to the country to which they were going, and although he agreed so far with his hon. Friend the Member for Glamorgan on that point, he did not, however, concur in thinking that the Legislature would be justified in depriving the poor man of his birthright. He understood his hon. Friend to say that something should be done to stop emigration.
§ MR. LIDDELL
was very glad his hon. Friend had no desire to prohibit the people of this country emigrating whenever they pleased. He did not regard the prospect of America being our competitor with alarm or envy; but he wished to point out that an advance in the price of coal would turn the scale in favour of that country. Upon these grounds he strongly urged the necessity of exercising the greatest economy possible in the use of fuel. Before sitting down he would quote two or three lines from a great authority. Dr. Buckland, in a note to a treatise on our coal supply, said—This highly-favoured country has been enriched with mineral treasures in the strata of coal incomparably more precious than mines of gold or silver. From these sustaining sources of industry and wealth let us help ourselves abundantly, and liberally enjoy these precious gifts of 281 the Creator, but let us not abuse them or, by wilful neglect and wanton waste, wholly destroy the foundations of the industry of future generations.These were wise and weighty words, and he heartily commended them to the attention of the country.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that She will be graciously pleased to issue a Royal Commission to investigate the probable quantity of Coal contained in the Coal fields of the United Kingdom, and to report on the quantity of such Coal which may be reasonably expected to be available for use:
Whether it is probable that Coal exists at workable depths under the Permian, New Red Sandstone, and other superincumbent strata:
To inquire as to the quantity of Coal at present consumed in the various branches of manufacture, for steam navigation, and for domestic purposes, as well as the quantity exported, and how far and to what extent such consumption and export may be expected to increase:
And whether there is reason to believe that Coal is wasted either by bad working or by carelessness or neglect of proper appliances for its economical consumption."—(Mr. Hussey Vivian.)
MR. M'CULLAGH TORRENS
moved, as an Amendment,That a special Report as to the extent, quality, and cost of working coal in the United Kingdom be directed to be made by the persons charged with the conduct of the Geological Survey, and that the same be laid before Parliament with the least possible delay.Concurring as he did heartily in the views and objects of the Motion of his hon. Friend who had addressed the House on so interesting a subject as that of our coal supply, it was unnecessary for him to say that nothing was farther from his intention than to throw the slightest impediment in the way of a full and impartial inquiry into the subject. His sole object in proposing an Amendment was that being acquainted with many eminent geologists, and knowing the value of the services rendered by the Geological Department, it appeared to him that it might be mistaken by the public as a slight upon that department if it should be passed over and a new Commission instituted. He felt that the gentlemen connected with that department were the most competent to conduct the inquiry. If, however, it was the wish of the House to adopt the mode proposed by his hon. Friend the Member for Glamorganshire, he should not press his Amendment. He asked the House to remember that in constituting such a Commission as that proposed, and sending them forth to make 282 inquiries into what touched nearly the profits of enterprize and labour, they would raise up a certain amount of impediment and difficulty, because although men whose interests were involved might not refuse to give the information required they might in reality withhold it; and after the Commission had made its Report they might not like to incur the responsibility of errors and oversights which subsequent information might detect. He had never expected when he came into Parliament to find himself talking on geological subjects; but when he found a man like the hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. Stuart Mill) taking up a subject which had produced a sort of panic in the community, he considered it was his duty to look more carefully into the matter than he had ever done before, and he confessed that the inquiry which he had made had not tended to increase his faith in the unbounded fears which his hon. and gifted Friend and others seemed to entertain with reference to the short supply of coal. He knew but very little of geology, but he had taken some pains to make himself acquainted with the history of industry, and he knew nothing more deteriorating and demoralizing to a great industrial community than to be easily alarmed by panics of this kind. He did not believe it was well for a community to be bewitched into believing that their resources were about to be exhausted by vague surmises or unprovable calculations. It would be impossible for the House of Commons, after being told by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that it would be necessary in the face of the prospective exhaustion of their coal supply to submit to additional taxation in order to diminish the burden of the National Debt, it would be impossible to avoid making the proposed inquiry. But pending that inquiry, he trusted the nation would not feel less confidence in the resources than they did at present. One of two things must be true—either what the hon. Member for Glamorganshire had endeavoured to prove, namely, that there was no danger of the exhaustion of the coal fields, or that the mineral resources of the country would eventually become not suddenly exhausted—that was out of the question—but that the price of coal would rise some 7s. or 8s. a ton. Mere cheapness of raw material had never been the true foundation of any great or lasting branch of industry, and still less was it correct to assume that 283 the possession of the supply of the raw material within our own confines, was indispensable to our commercial independence or our pre-eminence in trade. What had been our experience with regard to the first of all industrial necessaries, food? Thirty years ago, for a population of 17,000,000, we grew at home about 16,000,000 quarters of corn and 1,000,000 we imported. The orthodox creed of politicians at that time was, that if we ever came to rely on foreign wheat to any considerable extent, our land would go out of cultivation, our agriculture would be ruined, and our people would starve. Well, what has happened? Regardless of all the political prophets, hon. and right hon. of the day, we resolved not to depend upon native food alone, but to buy it where-ever we could get it and to encourage its use without stint. Has agriculture perished, have wages fallen, have the profit of industry declined? Why, it has come to this, that we grow abroad one-third of the corn requisite for our daily bread, and nobody ever dreams of our lacking as much as we want while we have industry to earn money enough to pay for it. He defied any one to show that a moderate increase in the cost of obtaining any primary element of industrial life had ever tended to anything but the moral improvement of the community, and to thrift and economy. Enhanced cost implied and entailed something very different from mere mischief. Gradually increasing and wisely adapted it was the weight on the valve which regulated the power of the engine. In a certain sense he agreed with the statement that the danger of the country lay chiefly in the loss of labour; but it should be remembered that forty years ago the House had been terrified by the anticipated increase of the population, and the tendency of legislation then was against the morality and comfort of the people, for fear they should increase too rapidly. He hoped the Government would consent to an inquiry, whatever form that inquiry might assume, and he would add that to be effective it must be thorough and impartial, and above all there should be no parsimony with regard to the means placed at the disposal of the Commission to whom plenty of time should be given, and the House should withhold its hand from legislation until the Report of the Commission was received.
§ Amendment proposed,
§ To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "a 284 Special Report as to the extent, quality, and cost of working Coal in the United Kingdom be directed to be made by the persons charged with the conduct of the Geological Survey, and that the same be laid before Parliament with the least possible delay,"—(Mr. M'Cullagh Torrens,)
§ —instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
I think it is impossible to overrate the importance of the question which has been brought before the House this evening with so much knowledge and ability by my hon. Friend the Member for Glamorganshire (Mr. Hussey Vivian). My hon. Friend proposes that we should address the Crown for the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry, in order to obtain accurate information with reference to a subject of the greatest national interest. Independently of the immense advantages which we enjoy from the possession of coal in this country, as regards the comfort and health of every class of the community, it is impossible to doubt, even making every allowance for that national energy and Saxon character to which hon. Gentlemen has referred, and independently of the possibility of our obtaining fuel from other countries, that the growth and even the existence of the manufactures and the commercial prosperity and greatness of this Empire depends in a great degree on our continued possession of coal at such a depth as to make it available for the various purposes to which we now apply it; and, therefore, the Government felt the importance of the inquiry asked for by my lion. Friend, and are fully prepared to concur in the spirit, and substantially in the terms, of my hon. Friend's Motion with the view of obtaining the best information that can be procured on the subject. The only question in dispute, if dispute I can call it, after what has fallen from my hon. Friend, might be as to the means and agencies by which that inquiry should be conducted. The hon. Member for Glamorganshire has addressed a most interesting speech to the House, showing an intimate knowledge of all the details of this question, and containing suggestions well worthy of the consideration of the House and the country. To follow him through those details would require a knowledge which I do not possess; but even were I capable of the task, I think it would be undesirable that I should enter into topics which, after all, are merely matters of 285 opinion, inasmuch as, with our present information, we are not competent to come to a conclusion on the subject, whether we take the more hopeful view of my hon. Friend, as to the supply of coal, or the less sanguine one entertained by other Gentlemen. I take it that the object of the present Motion is to enable the House to obtain the means of arriving at a definite opinion on the subject; for my hon. Friend proposes that the Commission should inquire on four principal points. The first duty which he proposes to intrust to the Commission is—To investigate the probable quantity of coal contained in the coal fields of Great Britain, and to report on the quantity of such coal which may be reasonably expected to be available for use.That is a point on which I believe a great deal of accurate information may be obtained; but even if approximate information could be obtained as to the amount of coal in existing coal fields, I think much advantage may be derived from the inquiry. The second branch of the inquiry proposed to be intrusted to the Commission is as to—Whether it is probable that coal exists at workable depths under the Permian, new red sandstone, and other superincumbent strata, and whether the Commission would recommend that bore holes should be sunk in any and what localities.I think that is a point on which it will be far more difficult to obtain the same amount of information as is likely to be collected on the first point. To a certain extent, my hon. Friend has shown that information may be obtained, and that experiments have been successfully made proving that by probing these superincumbent strata coal could be found that might be worked; but when my hon. Friend states his opinion that coal is to be found in every part of the country, even under the chalk formation in the South of England, I doubt very much that information can be got to establish that proposition on certain data. It is important, however, that there should be inquiry on the point, in order that we may obtain all the knowledge which can be derived on it; and I hope the result will be to show that the alarm felt in some quarters as to our future supply of coal is an exaggerated alarm, and that there are stores not yet ascertained which may be made available for their use. With regard to the inquiry as to the consumption of coal, I do not apprehend that there will be any difficulty in obtaining accurate infor- 286 mation. The annual statistics published by the Geological Survey contain full information on that subject, both with respect to the consumption and exportation of coal; and if hon. Gentlemen refer to the volumes on "mineral statistics," they will find accurate details on that subject. The last branch of the inquiry suggested by my hon. Friend is—Whether there is reason to believe that coal is wasted either by bad working or by carelessness or neglect of proper appliances for its economical consumption, and whether the Commission would recommend legislation with a view to avoid such waste.I think it would not be desirable to adopt words of reference which might pledge the House to legislation for preventing persons from making use of particular modes of working or for obliging them to avoid the waste of coal; but I trust that the Report of the Commission will have its due effect with the public without any compulsory legislation in the direction which the last words of the Resolution might seem to indicate. I have, therefore, proposed to my hon. Friend, and I believe he is prepared to adopt my suggestion, to strike out the words "and whether they would recommend legislation with a view to avoid such waste." There is only one matter in respect of which I would qualify what I have just said about legislation, and that is the consumption of smoke. I stated an opinion this Session, when the Motion of my right hon. Friend the Member for Tamworth (Sir Robert Peel) was before the House, which opinion, I think, has been borne out by some papers recently laid upon the table of the House. I said that there is in existence a law applying to almost every large town, the provisions of which would tend to check the nuisance arising from the non-consumption of smoke; but I then promised that the subject should be further considered by the Government with a view to the introduction of a Bill which would be directed not so much to making the existing law more stringent as to affording additional facilities for enforcing it. A Bill on the subject has been prepared and stands for a second reading to-night. That Bill it is proposed to refer to a Select Committee, and if it should receive the sanction of the House it will, I hope, promote the abatement of this nuisance, while I believe it will, at the same time, benefit those who now dread the expense that they apprehend would be incurred in the consumption of 287 smoke. And now I wish to say a few words with regard to the mode in which this inquiry is to be conducted. When I was questioned on this subject a few weeks ago, I told the House that I thought the Geological Survey Department could obtain full information with respect to it, and immediately afterwards I placed myself in communication with Sir Roderick Murchison in order to ascertain how far that department could be made available to attain the object in view. I inquired of him whether such information as to the quantity of coal which might be made available for future use could be furnished either by their ordinary mode of proceeding or by a special inquiry to be instituted by the department. Sir Roderick told me he thought that a special inquiry could be made by the department with a view of estimating the amount of coal available for future use, and that a fair approximate idea might be given of the probable duration of the supply of coals at the present rate of consumption. He added, however, that if such an inquiry was instituted the services of a good many members of the Survey Department would be required for a period probably of eighteen months, and at an expenditure of about £5,000. I need not speak in this House of the very high scientific attainments of Sir Roderick Murchison, who is one of the first geologists of the day. I think that the inquiry would have been efficiently conducted by the Geological Survey Department; but on communicating with the Department of Science and Art of the Privy Council, I found it was the opinion of that body that it would be impossible to confine the inquiry exclusively to the Geological Survey Department without employing for an inconvenient length of time a number of their ablest officers, and they thought this would not be expedient as it would delay the completion of the Geological Survey of Great Britain. The Government therefore thought it would be advisable to associate with the chief members of the Geological Survey Department men of practical knowledge and experience in the working of mines and great manufacturing operations, especially as the inquiry is not to be confined to the supply of coal, but to extend to its consumption. The conclusion we have arrived at is, that it will be right to accede to the Motion of my hon. Friend in the terms in which he has now proposed it, subject to the few Amendments to which he has consented at the suggestion of the 288 Government. The inquiry will be confided to a mixed body of men of the highest scientific attainments, some of them gentlemen connected with the Geological Survey Department, including, I hope, Sir Roderick Murchison. I believe that that inquiry will be conducted with ability and impartiality, and the result, I trust, will be satisfactory to the country, and will give us the means of forming a far more accurate opinion than we can at present with regard to this important subject.
§ SIR ROBERT PEEL
I do not wish to detain the House for more than two or three minutes, but as a Friend of mine on the opposite side of the House has drawn attention to the smoke nuisance in the early part of the present Session, I wish to express to the Government the thanks, I may say, of the community, for having taken up the subject in the manner they have done. There is a Bill on the subject which stands for a second reading to-night, and perhaps now no one will prevent the Bill passing that stage in order that it may go through Committee and pass the House of Lords during the present Session. I believe that that Bill will have a considerable effect in preventing the nuisance. I listened to a great portion of the speech of the hon. Member for Glamorganshire, and certainly the ability he displayed, and the information he laid before the House, merit at our hands the warmest commendation. But I must say that before my hon. Friend placed his notice on the paper, I was inclined to concur with the Home Secretary and the Amendment moved by the hon. Member below the gangway that it would be better to leave this matter in the hands of the Department paid by the State for the purpose of supplying information to the public on questions affecting the geological survey of the country; and I believe I speak the opinion of Sir Roderick Murchison, with whom I have conferred on the subject, that that department does feel a little slighted in being passed over in a matter of this kind. At the same time, as the Home Secretary has stated that we shall have on this Commission the advantage of the opinion and services of Sir Roderick Murchison, I think nothing will be lost, and, if Sir Roderick has consented to serve on the Commission, great advantages will also result from associating with him men who, like my hon. Friend near me, possess a really practical knowledge of the subject. The attention of Parliament has been called a 289 good deal to this question lately by the hon. Member for Westminster, the right bon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and other hon. Members. My hon. Friend near me stated his belief that there was a vast quantity of coal which had not yet been touched, lying at a depth below any working at present in force. Now, I believe with him that it would be possible to arrive at the working of that coal in a manner that would be serviceable to the country. Whether that is possible or not, however, will be ascertained by the Commission which my hon. Friend has obtained from the Government. I hope that the Commission will commence their labours without loss of time, and that they will have full powers to obtain all the information which my hon. Friend desires. I am quite sure that the result of that Commission will be to assure the country that there is no danger whatever from the exhaustion of the supply of coal, and that it will at the same time draw public attention to the necessity of making use of all the advantages supplied by science for economizing that supply, and rendering it available to the country.
§ SIR GEORGE BOWYER
said, that the House and the country owed a deep debt of gratitude to the hon. Member for Glamorganshire for the very lucid and able speech which he had addressed to the House on this important subject. He hoped it would tend to allay the alarm created in the country by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and on which the right hon. Gentleman had founded his proposals for reducing the National Debt. Those proposals reminded him (Sir George Bowyer) of the schoolboy, who, on hearing what a dreadful thing the National Debt was, said he would cheerfully give half his pocket money towards its reduction. The inquiries instituted by the Commission might lead to extremely useful results; but, at the same time, he regretted that the Secretary of State seemed to exclude from the labours of the Commission the interesting subject of the supposed existence of coal under a new formation.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
said, that would not be excluded, but would, on the contrary, form an important branch of the inquiry.
§ SIR GEORGE BOWYER
said, he was glad to hear that statement. With regard to the consumption of coal, he had been informed that in the smelting of iron processes had been discovered by which half 290 of the fuel was economized, and he had no doubt that if scientific men applied their minds to the subject, means might be found of economizing coal in all the processes of manufactures. If hon. Gentlemen would go to the spot where the new Foreign Office was being erected, they might see a steam engine at work constructed on a new principle, by which more than half the fuel was saved. The foreman of the works had informed him that in ten hours the cost of the fuel was only 3s. 6d., instead of, as formerly, 12s. That formed an instance of the extraordinary extent to which coal could be economized. And when such results were obtained by the adaptation of modern discoveries, it was fair to presume that scientific research would be fruitful in the future also, and that coal would be economized to a still greater extent than it was possible to economize it at present. On this account, he was of opinion that the fears of the Chancellor of the Exchequer on this subject were not deserving of much attention; and none, he was sure, would be quicker in coming to that conclusion than the right hon. Gentleman himself.
§ MR. BAZLEY,
in behalf of his manufacturing constituents, begged to thank the hon. Member for Glamorganshire (Mr. Hussey Vivian) for his able and interesting speech. He also thanked the Government for so readily acceding to the Motion which had been made, and he hoped that the Commission would be unrestricted in its action. Coal, in his opinion, was essential to England's existence as a commercial nation; of the whole consumption, one-fourth was for manufacturing purposes. The hon. Member had set down the value of the coal consumed at £24,000,000, but he suggested that the value should be estimated from the price paid by the consumer, instead of the price at the pit's mouth. In that case the sum would be much greater. [Mr. HUSSEY VIVIAN: Hear, hear!] It had been elicited in the course of the discussion that the general opinion was in favour of the presumption that our coal supply would not become exhausted in so short a time as a century. Indeed, a lease of six centuries had been given us, and probably a little more examination of the question would result in the conclusion that we might count on several more centuries' grace in the matter of our coal supply. He congratulated the Government on giving their attention to so important and economical a question.
§ MR. SAMUELSON
supported the Amendment which had been proposed by the hon. Member for Finsbury on the ground that the plans prepared by those conducting the geological survey were the only trustworthy foundation for any inquiries upon the subject to go upon. The very terms of the Motion of the hon. Member for Glamorganshire showed that the inquiries he proposed to have made were inseparably connected with the business of the geological surveyors. The Commissioners, too, would have to extend their inquiries over such a long series of years before they could arrive at conclusions satisfactory to themselves that it might be fairly assumed that the Commission, if appointed, must necessarily be a permanent one. This would be evident when it was recollected that to bore to a depth of 4,000 feet, a depth which the hon. Mover deemed insufficient, would require at least four years. He was therefore of opinion that if the inquiries were not conducted by a Government Department the Commission should work in close connection with a Government Department, so that the House could be informed from time to time as new facts were brought to light. Otherwise nothing practical would be accomplished. He agreed with the Secretary of State for the Home Department that the Legislature should only interfere to prevent waste when it became a nuisance. And as for the waste of small coal, that waste no longer existed now; formerly people preferred buying large coal to carrying the small away; but since the price of coal had risen, not only had the small coal ceased to accumulate, but even the old "spoil heaps" had been removed and converted into coke. He could bear testimony to the great saving which had been effected in the cost of iron manufacture. He was now producing with 100,000 tons of coal the same quantity of iron which formerly required 200,000 tons of coal to produce. But it was not necessary to employ a Royal Commission to teach his neighbours how to do likewise. They would find that out for themselves, and if they did not follow the same course they would doubtless have good reason for not doing so.
thought, that since only a fixed quantity of coal existed, it was a fair subject for inquiry as to what that quantity was. The time must, of course, come when our coal fields would be exhausted, and the real question was when 292 —whether within 100 or 1,000 years. He had heard Dr. Buckland say that our coal would last 3,000 years, and now it was said that they were to be exhausted in a century or two. The matter was altogether one of speculation. We might be able to come to some conclusion if geological strata were transparent; but as it was, we were quite in the dark. But why should we go to the expense of a Commission when the Geological Department could in three or four months give the practical results of the facts which it had recorded during the last twenty-five years. To appoint a Commission in the first instance would be to overlook a department which had received the approbation of Europe for its labours; and he therefore hoped the hon. Member for Finsbury would divide the House.
§ MR. PEASE,
who did not attribute to the Chancellor of the Exchequer any panic-stricken alarm on this subject, but gave him credit for availing himself of an opportunity to appropriate a surplus towards the repayment of the National Debt, was glad to receive the promise of a Commission, because he believed that no other step would have satisfied the House and the public. He believed that the improvement of machinery would enable them to reach any necessary depth, and said that experiments in Cornish mines had proved that beyond a certain point heat did not increase with the increase of depth. The real question was one of wages and the price of labour here and in other countries; but economy of working was also an important consideration; and he could name a place where a consumption of 2½ lb. of coal per hour was doing the work formerly done by 16 lb. or 17 lb., and a large establishment that burnt hundreds of tons of coal into coke without producing as much smoke as escaped from the flue which ventilated that House. The two questions of economy and wages would establish the duration of our coal fields; but, at the same time, it would be useful to have the information which a Commission would obtain.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I desire to say a few words before the debate comes to a close, because the hon. Baronet the Member for Dundalk (Sir George Bowyer) has evidently misapprehended a good deal of what I have said. My hon. Friend the Member for Glamorganshire (Mr. Hussey Vivian) represented with accuracy the position I have taken. It is that there was a certain amount of apprehension and presumption, 293 which I did not endeavour to define, and which I could not now endeavour to define, not at all that we should see the exhaustion of our coal, but that we may find ourselves in a position in which it would not be possible to produce an unlimited quantity without a serious advance in price. That is a proposition very different from that which the hon. Baronet has stated. With respect to the exhaustion of our coal, I am not aware that any scientific or other persons has ever looked forward to anything that would correspond literally with that description. There has been undoubtedly a belief that certain physical obstacles would amount to an absolute bar to access to that coal; and if that were so, in its practical results that would be almost equivalent to exhaustion. The hon. Member for Glamorganshire, in his interesting and able speech, sought to show that there need be no apprehension of insurmountable physical obstacles. The question of cost, into which he has entered largely, is one of an entirely distinct character, and of the greatest interest; and it would be great presumption in me to give an opinion upon what has fallen from a gentleman who is so high an authority. I confess it appeared to me that his tone was rather sanguine as to the increased cost of working deep mines. This is clearly one of the questions which may be very well referred to a Commission; and the fact that such a question is involved appears to furnish a conclusive answer to those who would contend that this inquiry should be left exclusively to the department which now, on the part of the Government, discharges so admirably such important functions. That department is a scientific department. It seems to me that there is a certain amount of distinction between the positions of scientific and of practical men on this subject. Among scientific men, the great tendency is to alarm with reference to the approach—not of utter exhaustion, but, at any rate, of scarcity and consequent dearness of coal. As far as I am aware that alarm has not to an equal degree taken possession of the minds of practical men—that is, of the manufacturers, who are so dependent upon the unlimited production of cheap coal, and of those who are acquainted with all the details and difficulties of the coal business. I think it would probably be very good for both men of science and of practice that they should meet in a Commission of this kind, and there, in close 294 contact, compare their views. I do not believe a Commission can report with certainty upon a question of this nature; but, as sensible men, we ought to be satisfied with the best evidence obtainable. I will say a word on the question of the waste of coal. Reference has been made to the odious and offensive waste of coal which takes place in the form of smoke. On that branch of the subject there are a thousand social reasons, quite apart from economical reasons, why Parliament should make it an object of policy to restrict that kind of waste. But, no doubt, the waste of coal in itself is a great mischief, in the destruction of power without profit which it causes; and this Commission will have a valuable result if it should bring home to the minds of men methods by which that waste may be prevented, an information at present known only to a few, and if by thus throwing our knowledge into a common stock, we should appreciate better the full value of the treasure we possess. It appears to be thought by some that by stopping the waste of coal in manufactures we are likely to retard its consumption. But that, I think, is a doubtful matter. Probably there are cases in which the restraint of waste will retard consumption, but in perhaps the great majority of cases the effectual application of the power which coal contains is more likely to accelerate than retard consumption, because by cheapening the production of all those things of which coal is the principal factor, you will extend the demand, and thus increase the consumption of coal in producing those articles. Of course there can be no universal rule applicable to such a subject, but, undoubtedly, as a general rule, when a greater quantity of a particular commodity can be obtained for the same sum as before, more money is expended upon it; and it is perfectly possible, therefore, or even probable, that the economy of coal may result not in a slower, but a more rapid consumption of coal. Not that this is a reason for preventing waste, because a consumption accelerated in that way would naturally be attended with greater use and benefit to the community. A desire has been expressed by some Gentlemen that the Commission should be a body of a permanent character. Now I cannot think that we want such a body in relation to this subject, except the body which we have already. No doubt, as regards the statistics and details of scientific research and the comparison of the results 295 of experience from year to year, with anticipations previously formed, it would be always desirable to have a body who should supply us with that information. But that is not the object of the Commission now to be appointed. The Commission has a much more extended object before it. It is to bring together different views of the subject—the scientific, the economical, and commercial views—and to collect into one focus all the experience of the past, and all the information which the present can yield. That is a function which eminently belongs to somebody appointed for the purpose, and it is a function which could not be adequately discharged by the scientific researches and labours of those gentlemen whose services we have at command. They are not in the least qualified by virtue of their scientific knowledge to enter with any peculiar advantage upon those vital branches of the question to which my hon. Friend (Mr. Hussey Vivian) devoted a large portion of his speech. The economical management, and the waste of coal, the probable addition to the cost of deep workings, and the prospects of the labour market—these are questions as to which we have no right to expect a solution from a scientific body, and must seek for information on those subjects from those whose experience and knowledge best qualify them to supply it. I think, therefore, that the Government have taken the only course which they could take in acceding cheerfully to the appointment of the Commission, and I entirely join with those hon. Members who have expressed their gratitude to my hon. Friend for the valuable contribution he has made this evening to the aggregate of knowledge upon this subject. It has happened that the less favourable view has been ably and prominently argued, and brought to the minds of the people; and it was quite time that the more sanguine view of my hon. Friend should be likewise placed in the prominent position which it will now occupy. As to the apprehension expressed by my hon. Friend of possible danger from an increased rate of wages, it appears to me that any inconvenience or danger arising from this cause ought to be regarded without any great alarm, and that we ought rather to welcome such a result, because in every instance it is accompanied by a more than compensating share of good. It is a result which implies the increasing share of the labourer in the reward of his skill and industry; it is a result which implies his ascent in the social scale, 296 and it is almost impossible that that increase of wages should ever be illegitimate in its character, because the moment it reaches a point beyond that which natural, social, and economical laws justify, that moment the demand for labour ceases, and the evil corrects itself. The subject of the increase of wages is one among those points which, I think, upon the whole, we may be content to contemplate with satisfaction and pleasure.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Resolved, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that She will be graciously pleased to issue a Royal Commission to investigate the probable quantity of Coal contained in the Coal fields of the United Kingdom, and to report on the quantity of such Coal which may be reasonably expected to be available for use:
§ Whether it is probable that Coal exists at workable depths under the Permian, New Red Sandstone, and other superincumbent strata:
§ To inquire as to the quantity of Coal at present consumed in the various branches of manufacture, for steam navigation, and for domestic purposes, as well as the quantity exported, and how far and to what extent such consumption and export may be expected to increase:
§ And whether there is reason to believe that Coal is wasted either by bad working or by carelessness or neglect of proper appliances for its economical consumption."—(Mr. Hussey Vivian.)