HC Deb 10 June 1886 vol 306 cc1297-8
MR. FITZGERALD (Cambridge)

asked the President of the Board of Trade, Whether the Commissioners of Irish Lights have refused to receive a tender from an Irish firm for the burners of Fanad Point Lighthouse, on the ground that they are prevented from seeking for tenders by public competition for such burners because three English firms only are licensed to make them; whether the burners specified are those patented by Sir James Douglass, Engineer in Chief to the Trinity House; whether the three firms referred to pay a sum of money for this licence to a Company who are the owners of Sir James Douglass's patent; whether Sir James Douglass is a shareholder or has any pecuniary interest in the Company; whether it is the second Company that he has formed for trading in his burners; whether he participates in the profit derived by the Company from the sale of these burners; whether this is a violation of the statement, that the use of these burners was to be given free to Lighthouse authorities; whether the Elder Brethren of the Trinity House state in their Report on the experiments with Lighthouse illuminants at South Foreland, that they were assisted by Sir James Douglass in carrying them on, and in preparing their Report; and, whether this Report concludes by strongly commending the patented burners of Sir James Douglass?

THE SECRETARY (Mr. C. T. D. ACLAND) (Cornwall, Launceston)

(who replied) said: The Commissioners of Irish Lights inform me that they recently received a communication from a Dublin firm requesting permission to tender for the manufacture of the burners for the improved light in course of erection at Fanad Point; but the request was not complied with, inasmuch as the burners are the patented inven- tion of Sir James Douglass, the Commissioners being permitted to use them free of the payment of any fine or royalty. I have received from the Trinity House the following communication:— The Elder Brethren are assured by Sir James Douglass that he has granted no formal licence to any firm; only to the General Lighthouse Board and the Board of Trade. That five English firms have been permitted to make his burners, and he is quite ready to grant the same permission for lighthouse burners on application to any other competent firm—English, Scotch, or Irish. That no royalty is payable by any of these permitted firms in respect of business supplied to the English, Scotch, or Irish Lighthouse authorities. That the first Company being wound up and a second Company formed, Sir James Douglass has taken a few shares for the purpose of handing them over to those who had bonâ fide interests in the old Company, but has nothing to do with its formation or management. Whatever profit may in any case come to him will be in respect of burners other than those for British Lighthouse service. The Elder Brethren were assisted by Sir James Douglass in carrying out the experiments at South Foreland, but not in preparing their Report. In fact, Sir James Douglass was absent from England for several months in Canada and at Minicoy in the Indian Ocean during the time that his burners were under trial. A reference to the Report will show that the candle-power of the Douglass burner, for which it is commended, was determined quite independently of Sir James Douglass's opinion or assistance.