Fillers One hundred years ago

The sanitary condition of the house

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: (Published 23 February 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:458

On Friday night last week, after a long debate on congested districts in Ireland, about 11 o'clock, Mr. Wylie, who does not often trouble the House, rose to call attention to the imperfection of the ventilation and other sanitary arrangements. The hon. member was full of his subject; he discoursed learnedly on electric fans and on the old-fashioned and obsolete method by which the chamber was ventilated, and still worse, the galleries in which the reporters were stupefied by bad air and the ladies almost asphyxiated. The House was in a nonchalant mood and would barely listen. Members were tired and saw a chance of soon going away till Monday, and they would not take the subject seriously. The more the hon. member dilated on fresh air and bad lavatories the more the House smiled; and when he came to microbes the smile broadened and became a roar of delighted laughter as he declared that the microbe of lockjaw had been found in a piece of carpet taken from a legislative chamber in America! He asked for a committee of experts, and said better ventilation would do more for comfort than the new rules of procedure. The First Commissioner of Works made a good-natured reply, and said he intended to move for a committee before Easter, and he would consider whether it should be composed of experts or be a Select Committee of the House. The air was frequently taken and analysed, and a specimen was at present in process of analysis. The matter then dropped and the House rose at 11.30.

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