HC Deb 02 April 1845 vol 78 cc1364-8
Mr. Mackinnon

moved the Second Reading of the Smoke Prohibition Bill. The hon. Member stated that he made the Motion with a view to having the Bill referred to a Committee up stairs.

Mr. Hawes

wished, before the Bill was read a second time, to have some clear understanding as to the intentions of Government. He opposed the Bill simply because he believed it would be impossible to carry it out. On a former occasion, the noble Earl at the head of the Woods and Forests stated that the Bill had received full consideration from Government; and that the Government did not think it expedient that it should be proceeded with at present. He thought that the hon. Member for Leamington ought to suspend the progress of the Bill until the Sanatory Bill of the Government came before the House. He believed that the smoke of private houses caused as much annoyance as factory chimneys, which were especially aimed at by the Bill. With these views, he moved that the Bill be read a second time that day six months.

Mr. Borthwick

expressed his surprise at the opposition of the hon. Member for Lambeth, seeing that no person would be more benefited by the suppression of the smoke nuisance than the hon. Member's constituents. He thought that his hon. Friend the Member for Leamington had established a claim on the gratitude of the inhabitants of large towns by introducing the measure.

Mr. Ward

had but one or two observations to make in reference to this measure. The hon. Member assumed that there existed a smoke nuisance which could be put down; and the provisions of the Bill had particular reference to the occupiers of chimneys and furnaces. Who were occupiers of chimneys? He and other hon. Members denied the practicability of complying with the requisitions of this Bill.

The Earl of Lincoln

retained the opinion he had expressed on a former occasion—namely, that it would have been more convenient to postpone the Bill until the Bill of the Government, introducing sanatory regulations into large towns, had been laid on the Table. Under that Bill, it would be necessary to constitute local administrative bodies; and, therefore, it would be premature now to appoint local inspectors for the single nuisance of smoke throughout the kingdom. However, as his hon. Friend objected to the delay, and as his object was merely to lay the Bill before a Select Committee to consider the different clauses of the Bill, he should consider it his duty to support the second reading. There would not be much inconvenience in that course, as the Committee might so modify the clauses of the Bill as to render them compatible with the sanatory measure of the Government. The hon. Member for Lambeth should recollect, that neither refineries nor breweries were affected by the Bill; the operation of which was confined wholly to steam-boilers, a restriction which he regretted. He was sure, when the hon. Gentleman reflected upon the large amount of property destroyed by smoke, he would not be inclined to throw any impediment in the way of legislation upon this subject. As one instance, he might mention that a short time ago a nursery-gardener in the neighbourhood of this metropolis was in the habit of railing expensive and valuable plants; but, from the erection of two extensive chimneys in his neighbourhood, he was compelled to abandon a lucrative occupation. Now, by the introduction of some patent apparatus into the two chimneys, he believed the gardener was afterwards enabled to resume his business with his former success. He did not wish to trespass longer on the attention of the House; but would conclude by saying that if the hon. Member pressed his Motion to a division he would vote for it; but he would earnestly recommend the hon. Gentleman to postpone the second reading until the Sanatory Bill had been introduced.

Mr. Labouchere

thought the best mode would be to withhold the consideration of this matter for the present; as the Government had announced their intention of embrace it. It would be a mere waste of time, under such circumstances, to refer the matter to a Select Committee. He would vote against the second reading of the Bill.

Mr. Spooner

hoped his hon. Friend the Member for Leamington would postpone the second reading of this Bill. Suppose the most complete apparatus were to be employed for effecting the object which the hon. Gentleman had in view, there was nothing to compel the workmen to put it into effective use; and without their co-operation, it would be utterly futile to attempt to carry the Bill into effect. Besides, there was a very great doubt whether the consumption of smoke would not compel a very much larger consumption of fuel. The hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Hawes) had complained that the Bill was a mere waste of legislation; but he would go further, and say, that if they attempted to carry this Bill into effect, they would excite such an amount of opposition throughout the country as would not only prevent any benefit being derived from it, but would also very greatly militate against any really good measure. Another inconvenience arising from the measure, as it stood, was, that every manufacturing interest was claiming to be exempt from its operation. He believed, indeed, that there was a Notice on the Books for excluding the iron trade; and if the iron trade, why not the glass trade, or any other trade? He trusted, therefore, that the hon. Gentleman would not press this Bill to a division; for he be- lieved that it was quite an impracticable measure.

Lord F. Egerton

said, that he could not possibly assent to the assertion that the smoke from manufactories was no nuisance, or even a small nuisance; for he knew that in the district which he had the honour to represent it was felt to be a great nuisance; and he conceived that to talk of this period for legislation on the subject being too early, or that discussion was unnecessary in that House, was quite beside the facts of the case. He was favourable to the object of the Bill; but he thought there would be some difficulty in carrying its enactments into effect.

Lord J. Russell

thought, that after the observations of the noble Lord at the head of the Woods and Forests, it would have been better had this measure been deferred until after the introduction of the Health of Towns Bill. He should, under these circumstances, vote against the second reading of this Bill. At the same time, he gave every credit to the hon. Gentleman for the excellence of his intention, and for the pains he had taken in the details of the measure. He granted that a great nuisance existed; but he did not agree in the particular mode of remedy advocated by the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Brotherton

said, that the details of this Bill might be greatly modified and improved. In that case, he hoped that the hon. Member would not press his Motion against the second reading of the Bill. He should remark that there were chimneys belonging to certain manufactories in Manchester (where there was a strong feeling on this subject), from which there was no more smoke than from a private dwelling-house. He believed that the Bill, if properly modified, would meet with warm support in Manchester. There was no doubt that great attention would be paid to the correction of the Bill by the Select Committee.

Sir R. Peel

proposed that the suggestion of the hon. Member for Salford should be adopted, as no one could be more competent to make a suggestion on the matter than that hon. Gentleman. It was impossible to make any rule with respect to the suppression of a general nuisance which would not create some local inconveniences. The Select Committee would consider whether the provisions of this Bill could be safely adopted. He was very certain that the time of the Committee would not be lost. Understanding that the Bill was not to be pressed until the measure for improving the sanatory condition of large towns was before the House, he thought there could be no objection to the second reading, and referring the Bill to the consideration of a Select Committee.

Mr. Hawes

was perfectly satisfied with the course proposed by the right hon. Gentleman, and should, therefore, withdraw his Motion; but he should like to know whether the Committee would have power to take evidence upon certain points of the Bill?

Mr. Ricardo

reminded the hon. Member for Lambeth, that the Government were going to introduce a Bill affecting the same subject; and it would be, therefore, all labour lost to make any inquiry into the nature of this Bill. For his part, he would rather the matter should rest with the Government than be entrusted to the hands of a Committee. There were two parties affected by this Bill. The one was the party who was annoyed by smoke; the other was the party who lived by smoke. Now, he could only say, on the part of his constituents, that they would have to give up business altogether if they were not allowed to smoke. They were now in a state of uncertainty; and there was no doubt that they would remain so, until the intentions and measure of the Government on this subject were before the House.

Mr. Mackinnon

wished to say a few words in explanation. It would be recollected that a Committee of that House reported that the nuisance of smoke could and ought to be prevented; and added, that if the Government did not take up the matter with a view to legislation, the Chairman of the Committee ought. Was not that recommendation worthy of regard? He had merely followed the recommendation of the Committee. In fact, he had done nothing more than act upon the instructions of the Committee. If the noble Lord did not feel inclined to proceed with his measure, he (Mr. Mackinnon) would proceed with the present Bill; but not otherwise.

Amendment withdrawn.

Bill read a second time; and ordered to be referred to a Select Committee.

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