HC Deb 11 March 1886 vol 303 cc477-8
LORD CLAUD HAMILTON (Liverpool, West Derby)

asked the President of the Board of Trade, Whether the Report of the Trinity House, on the experiments made at South Foreland, to ascertain the best illuminant for lighthouses has been objected to by shipping authorities, harbour boards, and others, on the ground that its conclusions are seriously erroneous, and that the experiments were not fairly made; and, whether the Board of Trade, in view of the correspondence which has taken place between that Board and such shipping and other authorities, will refer the report for examination to some competent scientific gentlemen quite independent of the Trinity House, and will submit their observations thereon to the House?

THE PRESIDENT (Mr. MUNDELLA) (Sheffield, Brightside)

The only person who has, so far as I know, objected to the Trinity House Report, on the ground that its conclusions are seriously erroneous, and that the experiments were not fairly made, is Mr. J. E. Wigham, the well-known gas engineer and manufacturer, of Dublin. Applications—five in all—have been received from certain harbour authorities and shipowners asking for inquiry into Mr. Wigham's statements, but expressing no opinion as to the conclusions arrived at, or the manner in which the experiments were conducted. I have to-day received a Report, which I have not yet been able to read, from Mr. A. G. Vernon Harcourt, F.R.S., who, at the request of the Board of Trade, was present at many of the experiments, and who is a competent scientific authority, and quite independent of the Trinity House. I also expect Reports from the representatives of some Foreign Governments who attended the experiments. Until these Reports are considered, I am not in a position to come to any final decision upon the points at issue between Mr. Wigham and the Trinity House. The Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses advise me that they concur in the conclusions of the Trinity House Report; and their engineers, who have had several opportunities of witnessing them, report that, in their opinion, the experiments have been conducted in a spirit of the most perfect fairness and impartiality to all parties.