HL Deb 02 June 1893 vol 13 cc1-4

asked whether it could be arranged that the storm warnings issued by the Meteorological Office might be transmitted free of charge to all the lifeboat stations on the British and Irish coasts; and whether, during the hay and wheat harvest season, daily forecasts of the weather might be transmitted, also free of charge, to all postal telegraph stations in the Kingdom? He said, the work done and information supplied by the Meteorological Department of late years had been so valuable in saving property and human life that he hoped the Treasury would permit that useful work to be ex- tended at the necessary additional, but comparatively slight, expense it would entail. Of the 305 lifeboat stations in the United Kingdom, 188 were provided during the winter mouths with that information, the remainder being unsupplied on account of present difficulties in communication. The additional expense of providing all the lifeboat stations with the necessary information would be under £1,000, a very trifling increase upon the £15,300 total expenditure of the Department per annum for furnishing what was so useful and so much needed. With regard to supplying daily weather forecasts to all postal telegraph stations during the hay and wheat seasons, no doubt their Lordships were aware that during the past year that had been done in the case of 10 stations in the United Kingdom—five in England, three in Scotland, and two in Ireland. Those forecasts were wonderfully accurate, the percentage of success being 88, between the highest, 96 in the North Western Districts of England, and the lowest, 78 in the Eastern parts of Scotland. Their Lordships would wish the comfort and well-being of the seafaring and agricultural populations of the United Kingdom to be cared for, and he hoped that they would receive an assurance from the noble Lord representing the Treasury that during the coming winter the remaining lifeboat stations would be supplied with meteorological information, and that the second part of the question would also be taken into favourable consideration.


in replying to the first part of the question as to the lifeboat stations, said, that living himself in a very stormy region, and within 400 yards of, perhaps, as had a coast as any round the United Kingdom, he was perfectly sensible of the great importance of this matter. The figures given by the noble Lord were correct, only 188 of the stations were at present supplied; but it was hoped that the telegraph lines would be brought up so close to others that they would be furnished with the requisite information. The areas embraced by the 188 stations now supplied were very extensive; but, of course, where the wires did not yet extend the storm warnings could not be sent. So far as the Treasury were concerned, whose function it was to deal with the matter, and who perfectly recognised its importance, he was advised that they were perfectly ready to consider the question.


in reference to the second part of the question, which concerned the Board of Agriculture, was glad to say that they took a very favourable view of the suggestion that a daily weather forecast ahould be sent to the rural postal districts during the wheat and hay harvests. He did not think the Post Office would see any difficulty in carrying out the suggestion, and giving it a good trial. As far as the Board of Agriculture was concerned, they were only too anxious to carry out the suggestion. The practical usefulness of these forecasts was recognised, and their popularity had very much increased. It, had been suggested that the annoyance which might arise from misleading forecasts would be greater than the advantages arising from successful ones; but the Board did not consider that was the case. Of course, it was a question for the Treasury, and the expense was the only difficulty in the way. The Board of Agriculture had approached the Treasury on the question, and hoped soon to have their reply, as they were only too anxious to have this suggestion carried out in the interests of the agricultural community.