HC Deb 14 February 1843 vol 66 cc574-7
Mr. Mackinnon

, in moving for leave to bring in a bill to improve the health of towns, by preventing interments within their precincts, promised not to detain the House by many observations. It was his anxious desire, that this bill should have been taken up by her Majesty's Government; but as the right hon. Baronet, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, did not appear willing to undertake it, he (Mr. Mackinnon) felt it to be his duty to proceed with the measure which he had proposed. When he first introduced the subject to the attention of Parliament; it was received with a levity which it did not deserve. Opinion, however, had since changed upon the subject; the public prints had taken it up; the evils of the existing system had been fully exhibited and strongly deprecated, and it was now perfectly impossible that that system could be allowed to continue. It had been as- serted on the part of the Dissenters, that the measure which he brought forward had been framed by the Bishop of London, or by some of the dignitaries of the Established Church, and that it was designed to injure the dissenting interests. He emphatically denied both those assertions. The bill emanated entirely from himself, and had no design or intention of dealing with Dissenters in any other way than it proposed to deal with the members of the Established Church.

Mr. Hume

agreed with the hon. Member for Lymington as to the necessity of adopting some measure of this kind. The subject, however, was necessarily one of so much detail and of so much complication as to render it next to impossible for an individual Member to frame and carry such a measure as the great importance of the subject demanded. He should be glad, therefore, to see it undertaken by the Government. He was satisfied, that if some measure of this kind was adopted, and some general regulations laid down to secure a more perfect drainage and a better plan of building, London would become one of the healthiest places in the world.

Sir J. Graham

admitted the great importance of the three subjects to which the hon. Member for Montrose had alluded. It was, undoubtedly, desirable to prevent interments in cities, to secure a perfect drainage, and to improve the mode of building. Each and all of these subjects were under the consideration of her Majesty's Government. With respect to interments in cities, careful inquiries were now in progress. All the appliances which the Government could command were directed to obtain information upon the subject, and although they were not as yet prepared with any measure sufficiently mature in details to command the consideration of the House, he did not entirely despair of being able, before the Session terminated, to bring forward some proposition upon the subject. Not being prepared to do so at the present moment, it would be unbecoming in him to offer any opposition to the introduction of the measure proposed by the hon. Member for Lymington. At the same time he was bound to say, that if the measure of this year resembled that which his hon. Friend introduced towards the close of the last Session, he could not hold out the prospect that he should feel it consistent with his duty to give it his support. With respect to the subject of drainage, it was the intention of Government to appoint a commission, composed in a great part of scientific men, to investigate the question, and to ascertain the best principle upon which a general system of drainage could be adopted. With respect to the regulation of building, he had already given notice to the commissioners of Woods and Forests that it was the intention of Government to bring in a bill for the better regulation of building in the metropolis. That bill had been framed with great care, after due consultation with the ablest architects.

Mr. Hawes

thought the statement of the right hon. Baronet extremely satisfactory. All three of the subjects to which he had adverted were of the utmost importance to the metropolis. After the statement which had been made by the right hon. Gentleman, he hoped that the hon. Member for Lymington (Mr. Mackinnon) would inform the House what course he proposed to take. He (Mr. Hawes) had a strong objection to the measure proposed by the hon. Gentleman, although it was not his intention to oppose the introduction of it; but after the declaration made by the right hon. Baronet that the subject was immediately under the consideration of Government, and that it would probably be in his power, before the Session ended, to introduce a bill upon it, he hoped that the hon. Gentleman would not press his own measure to a second reading, until some further progress had been made in the inquiry which her Majesty's Government had instituted.

Mr. Bickam Escott

would not oppose the introduction of the bill; but at the same time he could not help doubting whether his hon. Friend had read the evidence given before the committee, upon whose report he supposed the bill was founded.

Mr. Mackinnon

said, that after the representations which had been made to him from almost every quarter, of the injurious effects that resulted from the present system of interments, he should feel it to be his duty to proceed with his bill. He had been appealed to by many hon. Friends to postpone his bill, in order that the Government measure might be brought forward. If by postponing it he could think that he should be accelerating the measure of Government, he would willingly adopt that course; but, believing that by urging his own bill forward there would be a greater chance of stimulating the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department to forward his own measure, he should persist in his motion for leave to bring in the bill.

Sir W. Clay

approved of the object of the measure, but was of opinion that his hon. Friend would act more wisely by postponing it until the Government bill should be brought forward, than by pressing it to a further stage.

Mr. M. Phillips

had received communications from the town he represented (Manchester) hostile to the measure which the hon. Member introduced last year, and as the present bill appeared to be quite similar to the former one, he apprehended that the same objections would be urged against it.

Motion agreed to. Leave given.