HC Deb 20 February 1867 vol 185 cc681-3

Resolution [February 18] reported.

Vote £600, Houses of Parliament.


said, that on Friday last he gave notice of his intention to ask a question of the First Commissioner of Works, but he did not see the noble Lord in his place. However, he would say that his question referred to the accommodation provided in what was called the Ladies' Gallery of that House. The state of that accommodation was so infamous; the ventilation was so bad, that it was positively disgraceful to the House that they should permit any ladies to sit in that gallery, ventilated and accommodated as they were. What he wished to put to the First Commissioner of Works, who had shown a great desire to improve everything connected with the House, was, whether they had not arrived at a time of day when that very unpleasant railing might be removed altogether, and the House of Commons might conduct their debates as the debates were conducted in the House of Lords? He was sure it would be a very great advantage to the ventilation, and also to the occupants of that Gallery. Anybody who would go up to that Gallery when the House was full and the Gallery was full would find it very difficult to sit there. When the Legislature was engaged in improving the sanitary condition of the metropolis he thought they ought also to endeavour to improve the sanitary condition of the Ladies' Gallery. And he hoped that immediate steps would be taken by the First Commissioner to make so desirable and necessary an improvement.


entirely concurred in the observations of the hon. Member who had just spoken. Last Session and the Session before he (Sir George Bowyer) called attention to the inadequate accommodation of the Ladies' Gallery. It was quite disgraceful. When the House was full, the foul air in the House went up there. Air which had already passed through several hundred pairs of lungs went up to that Gallery and made it perfectly intolerable. He must say also that he did not see any reason why ladies should be shut up behind a grating in that House when in the House of Lords that was not done. He did not see why an arrangement, which was not an inconvenient one in the Lords, should not be adopted in the Commons. He therefore urged on Her Majesty's Government the expediency of removing those gratings which made the House of Commons unwholesome, and the Ladies' Gallery not only unwholesome but also disagreeable.


said, he was not aware that the notice to introduce this subject had been given, as it did not appear on the paper.


The notice was a private notice.


I think perhaps the discussion had better not go on. It can be resumed next day on the question of Supply.


expressed a hope that in any alteration made, an enlargement of the Ladies' Gallery would be included.


wished distinctly to say that he had nothing whatever to do with the £600 to Mr. Cope.

Vote agreed to.



said, he had to apologize to the hon. Member for Nottingham for not being in his place a few minutes ago, in which case he might have given a fuller answer to the hon. Gentleman's inquiry. He had been informed that the hon. Member had complained of the ventilation of the Ladies' Gallery, and had asked whether it was not the intention of the Government to take some steps to improve it. As soon as Parliament was prorogued last year he made inquiry into the subject, and he had hoped that some improvement had been made during the recess. If those measures bad not been successful in giving free air to the Ladies' Gallery he was deeply sorry. The whole subject of the ventilation of the House was under the management of Dr. Percy, and he would communicate with him in regard to the better ventilation of the Ladies' Gallery.


Would the noble Lord have any objection to order the removal of the brass rails in front of the Gallery?


That is a grave and delicate question to which I cannot be expected to give an answer offhand.