HC Deb 10 February 1930 vol 235 cc28-9

asked the First Commissioner of Works whether his attention has been called to complaints as to the ventilation of the Houses of Parliament; when the present system was installed; and whether he is taking any action in the matter?


The existing system of ventilation in the House of Commons dates from 1892, and has been under consideration at various times since that date, notably by a Select Committee in 1913 and by the National Physical Laboratory in 1920. I do not contemplate any immediate action, as there is no evidence that the existing system is prejudicial to the health of Members; on the contrary, the health of the staff whose duties lie mainly within the debating chamber and in the room above, which draws its air from the chamber itself, is remarkably good.

Lieut.-Colonel FREMANTLE

Does not the right hon. Gentleman recognise that it is not a question only of the health of hon. Members, but also of members of the Press Gallery and the ladies above? The ventilation of the Ladies' Gallery is extremely bad.


I have the best evidence from those who have to sit there more or less permanently. There are seven men employed mainly in this Chamber. They have had 15 days' sick leave between them during the last six years. That is 15 days between seven men over a period of six years, while of the five men employed in the vitiated air of the Chamber above four have had no sick leave whatever during the last six years and the other one has had 16 days. The length of service of these man varies from 18 to 63 years, and the gentleman who has had the longest service has had no sick leave at all.


Is my right hon. Friend aware that people get acclimatised to a bad atmosphere and that the health of people working on sewage farms is remarkably high throughout the country?


I am perfectly aware of that fact. I understand also that one germ kills another germ.

Commander BELLAIRS

May I ask whether there is not a more recent report than those the right hon. Member cited, and that that report said that it was one of the worst ventilated Chambers in the world; so bad that it was responsible for hon. Members having hot heads and cold feet?


That is a matter about which I had better express no opinion at all.


May I ask why the ventilation is worse on the other side of the House than it is on this side?