HC Deb 28 March 1871 vol 205 cc766-7

asked the honourable Member for Glamorganshire, What is the reason of the delay of the Royal Commission on Coal Supply, appointed nearly five years ago, in reporting on the subjects referred to it?


said, in reply, that the delay had arisen from the great magnitude of the subject, for an investigation into the quantity of coal contained in the available coal fields of England, Scotland, and Ireland, was no slight task. Some delay occurred at the commencement of the labours of the Commission, and other causes of delay had subsequently intervened. One important Member of the Commission had died; three other important Members, to whom laborious duties were entrusted, had been seriously ill, and the noble Chairman had been elevated to a high office, which considerably interfered with his labours as a Commissioner. The subject with which the Commission had to deal had been divided into various heads, and so parcelled out among the different Commissioners. On the first head, which dealt with the probable depth at which coal could be worked, the inquiry had been exhausted, and the Report prepared; and the same result had attended the inquiry into the second head, which related to combustion. Another head, which dealt with the probability of coal being found under more recent strata, had been referred to Sir Roderick Murchison and Professor Ramsay, who thought they would be able to report in about six weeks. Another portion of the inquiry related to the statistics of the consumption of coal, which was rendered necessary by the theories started as to the progressive rate of the consumption of coal. On that subject 120 pages of printed matter had been prepared, about the same quantity was in the printer's hands, and enough work still remained to occupy Mr. Hunt for about a month. The task of computing the quantity of coal contained in the various coal fields had been completed except in two cases; and on those two, the complete Report would be in the hands of the Commission in a week or ten days. Practically speaking the bulk of the labours of the Commission were at an end, and their Report might be expected in about three months from the present time, as it, in fact, only awaited the completion of Reports of the geological and statistical sections.