HL Deb 21 February 1888 vol 322 cc985-6

in rising to ask Her Majesty's Government, Whether they would lay on the Table the Report of Captain Shaw, Chief of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, relative to the calamitous fire which took place at Exeter Theatre last autumn? said, that on a former occasion, when a Report by Captain Shaw was asked for, the answer was that the Report was obsolete, and on another occasion the answer to a similar request made by himself was that it was made too soon. He hoped that this time he was neither too soon nor too late, for he had striven to discover the juste milieu. It was very desirable that the Report relative to the Exeter fire should be made public, both in view of promised legislation and as a warning to the proprietors and managers of Metropolitan theatres. The public, he thought, did not share the confidence expressed the other day by the Chairman of the Metropolitan Board of Works (Lord Magheramorne), who told their Lordships that the safety of London theatres had been vastly increased of late. The statement that Captain Shaw's Report on the London theatres was of an alarming character, and that its publication would be likely to cause something like a panic, was not reassuring; and the fact that the improvements said to have been effected had been made under the inspection of a gentleman with regard to whose method of conducting the business of his department such startling revelations had recently been made did not tend to strengthen public confidence. It was true the noble Lord the Chairman of the Board said that he had personally visited the theatres; but the noble Lord had no special qualification as a fireman or an expert on these matters, and therefore the public could not attach to his inspection the same importance they would attach to a Report by a man of such great experience as Captain Shaw. The best thing to do now would be to ask Captain Shaw to revise the Report and bring it down to date, and then the publication of it could have only a reassuring and useful effect on the public mind, if, as stated by the noble Lord, the causes of danger which had been pointed out had since been removed. He presumed, however, that Captain Shaw's Report upon the Exeter Theatre could be produced without inconvenience or objection.


The Government will be happy to lay the Report asked for by the noble Earl on the Table of the House.

House adjourned at Five o'clock, till Thursday next, a quarter past Ten o'clock.