HC Deb 07 May 1821 vol 5 cc535-8

Mr. M. A. Taylor moved the order of the day for going into a Committee on this bill.

Mr. Lyttleton

recommended his hon. friend to postpone this measure for at least another year. If, the plan of consuming the smoke of Steam Engines was a good one, it would find its way without any legislative enactment; if a bad one it ought not to be forced upon the country. Were the measure confined to the metro- polis, he should not object to it; but there were many parts of the country in which it would be extremely injurious. In the south of Staffordshire there were above 2,000 steam engines; and in the neighbouring counties at least 5,000 more. Parliament ought to hesitate before they imposed a compulsory expense and inconvenience on so many persons. If his hon. friend should persist in the measure, he would propose that it should not extend to steam engines employed in smelting ores or minerals.

Mr. J. Smith

was surprised at the objections which had been made by his hon. friend. He seemed to forget the injury which the poorer classes suffered from the existence of the steam engines in their present state. He could name a class of poor persons in London who so suffered: he meant the humble class who got their livelihood by washing. If a steam engine was established in the neighbourhood of the residence of these poor people, their occupation was destroyed altogether.

Mr. C. Calvert

said, he would support the bill. He himself had a large steam-engine, and he used the apparatus for consuming smoke, which had succeeded as well as any machinery could be expected to do. By the attention of one man, a large column of smoke could be consumed in a minute. In his way to the House a printed paper on the subject of the bill, had been put into his hands, which mentioned that the apparatus used by Messrs. Barclay and Perkins had completely failed. Now this was the reverse of the fact. He then read a letter from Mr. Perkins, which stated that the apparatus had entirely succeeded.

Mr. D. Gilbert,

although he thought the plan might be adopted with advantage in the metropolis, and in large towns, was averse to its compulsory extension to the manufacturing districts.

Mr. Buxton

regretted that he was under the necessity of opposing the bill. The plan had been tried in many instances and had completely failed. Nothing could be more fallacious than such experiments. It had succeeded in Messrs. Barclay's brewery, but with a very great additional consumption of fuel. But with an engine constituted as his (Mr. Buxton's) was, it was quite impossible to carry it into effect. He hoped his hon. friend would postpone the bill for a year or two. If not, he would move as an amendment, that the bill be committed upon this day six months.

Colonel Wood

said, that representing as he did a county where manufactures were carried on by steam-engines, he felt it his duty to oppose the proceeding any further with the bill in its present shape.

Mr. Maberly

trusted the hon. mover would postpone the consideration of the bill, as in its present shape it went to compel the trying of experiments. The courts of law would have to try the merit of every experiment suggested by every projector. He thought the hon. mover was bound to show that the bill could be carried into effect.

Mr. Curwen

supported the bill. He was convinced, from the experiments he had made, that the proposed alteration would cause an ultimate saving.

Mr. M. A. Taylor

said, that if the House considered the present state of the law, no impartial man would hesitate in agreeing to the bill. Every steam-engine might now be prosecuted as a nuisance, if it affected the health, comfort or property of those in whose neighbourhood it was situated. In Cornwall and other places, steam engines were not prosecuted, because those who suffered from them had not chosen to prosecute, and because they were generally under the protection of the proprietors of the engines. But the engines had been introduced into villages to the great detriment of property, and the sufferers had not the ability to prosecute. All that the bill proposed was, to enable the court to reimburse the prosecutor, where the defendant was refractory, or to redress such nuisance as really existed where the prosecutor was unreasonable. It would put it in the power of the court to do what at present was done by a side wind. As to restricting it to the metropolis, he did not see why gentlemen in villages should not be relieved as well as the inhabitants of the metropolis. Why should a clergyman who kept a school in a village be smoked out. Why should Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, be annoyed by nuisances for the sake of Cornish miners. If hon. members would read the reports of the two committees who had considered the subject, they would be satisfied. He could produce the testimonials of persons who had found the plan successful at little expense. The hon. gentleman (Mr. Buxton) must have employed a very clumsy engineer.

General Gascoyne

read a letter from the proprietors of a large establishment at Liverpool, stating that the new plan in- creased not only the smoke, but the quantity of requisite fuel.

Mr. Philips

hoped the bill would be postponed until another year. The plan required more care than could be usually applied. This was thought a new invention; but Mr. Watt had obtained a patent in 1785 for the consumption of smoke. The public were much indebted to the hon. mover for his exertions, but he felt it his duty to support the amendment.

Mr. Marryat

said, that his attention had been called to the effect of the plan in the metropolis and other places, and he had found it successful. No man had a right to annoy or poison his neighbours.

Mr. Alderman Wood

was of opinion, that Mr. Parkes's plan of consuming smoke was highly beneficial, but he hoped that the clauses of the bill would not extend to Cornwall, as it would there produce the most injurious effects.

The House divided: For the original motion, 83. For the Amendment, 29. The House accordingly went into the committee.