HC Deb 19 February 1917 vol 90 cc1002-3W

asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been called to the fact that about 130 officers and clerks are engaged in their duties as censors from 8.30 a.m. until 10.30 p.m. in the Cable Censor's office of the Intelligence Department of the War Office at the Central Telegraph Office, Newgate Street, in a room about 60 ft. long and 30 ft. wide, with only two windows facing south, such windows opening into a well down which all the latrine pipes from the building descend, which well is covered over at the top at 6.0 p.m. with a tarpaulin, there being practically no fresh air and no ventilation obtainable in the overcrowded room; whether such room had been condemned some three years back by the Government surveyor as being unfit for human habitation; whether there are other rooms separated only by partitions with no ventilation in the same building in which some fifty women are engaged under similar conditions and circumstances which have existed for over two years; and whether he will take immediate steps to ameliorate the conditions under which they are working?


My attention has not been called to the need for increased ventilation in these rooms. I have, however, had an investigation made from which it appears that the maximum number of officers and clerks employed at any time in the first room mentioned is thirty-one and not 130; that the room is 39ft. long, 23ft. wide and 14ft. high; that the two windows cover practically the whole of the end wall. The well referred to is 43ft. wide and 67ft. long, and the W.C. pipes, from which no gases could possibly escape, are 43ft. from the windows Tarpaulins are drawn over the well at night, to screen light, but cross ventilation is provided for in this room by six openings in the partitions forming the two sides of it. The room has not been condemned as stated, so far as I am aware. The other room referred to receives air indirectly from a large number of windows opening on to the street. In view, however, of the large increase in the number of staff to the Postal Censors' Department since the arrangements were originally made, I shall give instructions that efforts be made to improve the ventilation.