HL Deb 05 May 1882 vol 269 cc219-21

rose to call attention to the fact that no Ordnance Survey has been made of a large portion of the British Isles since the reign of William IV., when the map was published on the one-inch scale only; and to inquire if the Government would accelerate the 25-inch survey now progressing, by restricting the work of the ordnance surveyors to the British Isles, or by taking any other steps conducive to the completion of the first extended map of this country? At present it was next to impossible to ascertain the exact area of many fields in the Midland counties, and this uncertainty led to arbitrations which were often disputed. Some fields were 85 or 90 or 95 acres in extent; and as there existed no private or public survey of them, difficulties arose in determining their value. Again, the boundaries of counties were in some instances vague and undefined, an evil which would be best remedied by a carefully prepared map.


desired to point out that, according to the Report of the Survey of last year, most of the river basins had not yet been surveyed. In the interests of the ratepayers it was important that the work should be pushed on, more especially as the Rivers Conservancy and Floods Prevention Bill had already passed a second reading in the other House, and he hoped would soon become law. No doubt, since the last Survey was prepared, great changes had occurred in the roads and railways of this country; but the present Survey was progressing very slowly, and 24,774 square miles were still unsurveyed in England and Wales. To his mind it was a great disgrace to us that, whereas in France and Germany effective Surveys had been made in recent years, such large portions of this country had not been surveyed for the last 40 or 50 years. He urged that the Survey should be pressed forward, so as to terminate, not in 1890, as proposed, but in two or three years' time. The Parliamentary Report, however, stated— That the progress of the survey is exactly proportioned to the amount of the money voted by Parliament for its prosecution.


said, in reply to the noble Lord, he was glad to be able to inform him that steps had been taken for greatly accelerating the Ordnance Survey. The Government came to the conclusion in 1880 that, in view of facilitating the transfer of land, it was most important that there should be a good cadastral map at an early date. Arrangements were at once made to obtain a larger Vote from Parliament, and to train a large number of skilled men with the view of doubling the staff, Great difficulty was experienced in so largely increasing the number of men employed, especially those engaged in carrying on the supervision and checks, for which special qualities and great experience were necessary; but these difficulties had been successfully met and overcome. In carrying out the Survey preference had been given to mineral districts, Metropolitan counties, and parts required for military purposes. There were nine centres from which the Survey was carried on, and they were so arranged as to give the greatest facility for conducting the work with economy and efficiency. In England and Wales, out of 59,470 square miles, about 37,000 square miles had been surveyed. Last year the amount surveyed was 2,388 square miles. It was now confidently hoped that the whole Survey would be completed in 1890, instead of 1900, which was formerly contemplated. The noble Lord was afraid that scientific and interesting expeditions to Syria and Palestine would interfere with the progress of the Survey. He could assure him that would not be the case, and at present there were no special Surveys being carried out. As regards the Palestine Survey, it was a mistake to imagine that it interfered with the Home Survey. The men employed were not wanted at home, and the money expended came from private sources. The real reason that had kept back the Survey so long had been the simple fact that up to 1880 only £100,000 had been voted by Parliament annually, and the progress had been exactly in proportion to the amount 223 so voted. The Vote now asked in the Estimates was £215,000. There had been considerable delay in publishing the maps, and it was undoubtedly true that the 6-inch map had been much behind the 25-inch scale map, for the simple reason that with the 6-inch map, after being reduced by photography from the large scale, it was necessary to transfer it to copper and then to engrave on the plate. This process was most tedious and costly, and thus delayed the 6-inch maps, while with the 25-inch large scale a photozincograph could be made direct, and the maps were thus completed at once. He was glad to be able to inform the noble Lord that during the last two months the Director General had discovered a plan by which this process of photozincography could be used also for the 6-inch maps. Not only would this effect a great saving of time, but it would also effect a saving of about £100,000. If the noble Lord wished to see in detail the exact dates when the Survey would be completed in each county, he would find the whole question most carefully worked out and shown on a map in a Return presented to Parliament last August, and which gave a great deal of information on the subject.