HC Deb 23 July 1845 vol 82 cc960-3
Mr. Mackinnon

brought up the Report of the Committee on the Smoke Prohibition Bill.

On the Motion that the Amendments made by the Committee on the Bill, be now read a second time,

Mr. Ward

objected to the Bill, that it would be found impracticable to carry out many of the clauses. There were some trades and manufactures entirely exempted from its operation, and unless he were permitted to introduce some clauses to exempt the manufacturers and workers in Britannia metal, he should be obliged to move that the Report be taken into consideration that day three months.

Mr. Mackinnon

could not give his consent to any further alterations in the Bill.

Mr. Beckett Denison

said, that he had received many letters from Yorkshire, requesting him to oppose that part of the Bill which enacted, that the inspectors created by it, should be paid out of the county rate, and the expense be thus saddled on the agriculturists.

Mr. Hawes

objected to the Bill, because the hon. Member for Lymington, since the Bill had gone through the first Committee, had introduced so many exceptions, that they were more than the rule, and by that means it exempted the stronger and oppressed the weak, and upon that principle he would oppose the Bill.

Mr. C. P. Villiers

complained, that the hon. Member for Lambeth, after sitting on the Committee, and hearing the evidence on the part of the ironfounders and ironmasters, stayed away when the Report was drawn up, in order that he might oppose the Report when brought under the consideration of the House.

Sir W. Clay

contended, that the sugar refiners ought to be exempted from the operation of the Bill. If the Bill had remained general, he would have supported it with pleasure; but as exceptions had been made, he thought the sugar refiners had a right to be exempted also.

Mr. Muntz

said, that it was a mere question of expense. If the sugar refiners were exempted, he should feel compelled to move, that he himself, and all other parties following the same trade, should likewise be exempted. He contended that there should be no exceptions at all.

Mr. W. Williams

supported the Bill. The object of the hon. Member for Lymington, in introducing this Bill, was to protect the industrious population of this country from a very great nuisance.

Mr. B. Escott

thought the hon. Member for Lymington was not treated fairly by the opponents of the Bill, because he had excepted some interests from the Bill.

Mr. Wakley

recommended that the hon. Member for Lymington should give up his Bill altogether; and as the question affected the lives of the whole community, he should throw the responsibility of bringing in a Bill of the like nature upon the Government.

Mr. Duncan

agreed with what had fallen from his hon. Friend the Member for Finsbury (Mr. Wakley), that this was a question of far too great magnitude to be in the hands of any one Member of that House, however able or however willing to bring foward a measure of this nature—and no one was more ready to offer his tribute of thanks to the hon. Member for the trouble he had taken in maturing this Bill; but he begged to ask the hon. Member if he intended this Bill to extend to Scotland? If he did, it would be found to be altogether inapplicable to that country; for the very first clause authorized the inspectors to be paid out of borough rates, settled as the justices in special sessions, shall from time to time think fit. Now, in Scotland, no special sessions exist. To Clause 3, and many others, objection would be made, if the hon. Gentleman was determined to go on with the Bill. But he would strongly urge on the hon. Member to allow the whole subject to be taken up by Government, and by this means a measure might be got with which parties might be satisfied; whereas the present Bill would not, and could not, satisfy the country. The district which he (Mr. Duncan) represented, was one where a great number of flax mills would come under this Bill. At present a great desire existed among his constituents to carry out the objects of this Bill; but no fixed mode of doing so had yet been pointed out, although his Friends in Dundee had expended large sums in making experiments on the subject; and at this moment the Commissioners of Police had nominated a Committee for this very purpose. Under all the circumstances of the case, he earnestly hoped Government would step in and take the matter into their hands, as they alone were able and ought to grapple with a national question of this vast importance.

Mr. Mackinnon

replied. He hoped that the House would permit the Bill to be tried as an experiment as it now stood; and if it succeeded with all the exceptions, it might be made to extend generally to all manufactures.

Amendment withdrawn.

Amendments of the Committee agreed to.

Sir C. Lemon

, in the absence of Mr. Godson, moved the addition of the following clause:— Provided always, and be it further Enacted, That nothing in this Act contained shall extend, or be construed to extend, to any steam or fire engines used or employed in or about any mines, collieries, iron works, copper works, or spelter works, or for the purposes of winning and working, making, burning, calcining, or manufacturing of iron, copper, spelter, and iron-stone, respectively, anything herein contained to the contrary notwithstanding.

Clause read a first time.

On the Question that it be read a second time,

Mr. Hawes

said, he should feel it his duty to divide the House on every exemption mentioned in the Bill.

The House divided:—Ayes 20; Noes 43: Majority 23.

Lord John Russell

thought the exceptions made by the hon. Member for Lymington were so unjust, that he could not support the Bill. He would recommend that further inquiries should be made, by Commission or otherwise, into the necessity existing for any exceptions at all. They had as yet arrived at no satisfactory conclusion; but by next Session, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Lymington would have the satisfaction of knowing that he had been a great benefactor to the country.

Sir James Graham

was most anxious to adopt the suggestions of the noble Lord, and, on the part of the Government would undertake that during the recess scientific inquiries should take place into the safety of extending the Bill to stationary steam engines; and on the House meeting next Session, the result should be made known, and, whether favourable to the exceptions or not, the reasons for that opinion should also be made known. His noble Friend the First Commissioner of Woods and Forests intended shortly to lay before the House a large and comprehensive measure on the health of towns, into which Bill the measures considered to be necessary from the report of the scientific inquiry, could be incorporated, or, into a separate and, he hoped, much more satisfactory measure.

Mr. Mackinnon

hoped that a pledge would be given by the Government to introduce the measure early next Session.

Further consideration of the Report put off for three months.

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