HC Deb 01 July 1847 vol 93 cc1092-113

On the question that the Speaker leave the Chair to go into Committee on the Health of Towns Bill,


hoped that the Speaker would not leave the chair for the purpose of enabling the House to enter on the detailed consideration of a clause so unconstitutional as the 18th, and which he found it was the intention of the noble Lord to retain. The clause in question gave power to an individual to abrogate an Act of Parliament, passed with the sanction of the Crown, by which it had been intended to secure the companies certain powers and rights, in consideration of benefits conferred upon the public. He thought the House would agree with him that to the principle involved in the clause it was impossible for them to give their consent. He bogged to move, as an Amendment, that the House resolve itself into a Committee that day three months.


entertained the very gravest objections to this Bill. If passed, it would confer a very dangerous power upon Government, and would most unwarrantably interfere with private and corporate rights. The measure was not to take effect within ten miles from St. Paul's; he wished to know the reason of this exclusion. The Lord Mayor of London, he was aware, was a very important man; and the representatives of London, the noble Lord at the head of the Government being one of them, had no doubt a very great respect for the Lord Mayor of London. He hoped the noble Lord would be returned again; a man, however, might put out a bait, and not always catch his fish. He might try often, and now and then have a nibble, but he did not always pull ashore, and have what was called a caption. He saw near him the worthy Lord Mayor of York (Mr. Hudson). Was he not as worthy as the Lord Mayor of London? York was not less clean than London; York, in fact, as he knew, was the cleanest of cities; and why, if York was included, should London be excluded? Originally there had been no exception; and why had the noble Lord, who generally had good reason for what he did, consented to this change? Let the true reason be stated. There were sixteen metropolitan members; a formidable number to support a Government, a Government not particularly strong at this moment, and very probably the arguments of those sixteen Gentlemen had had great weight with the noble Lord. He had no fault to find with Lincoln; the people of that city were as clean as the Lord Mayor and Common Councilmen of London, and they wore quite as worthy of favour as the corporation of London, though perhaps they never asked the noble Lord and his Colleagues to dinner at the Mansion-house. And why should a Commissioner be sent down to Lincoln, to overawe and overlook the people there? He detested the rapid strides of Government power. It was easily kept up, difficult to be put down. He had too good an opinion of the corporate bodies of England to think such a Bill necessary to show them their duty. He would not throw such an insult in their faces. Believing that he was consulting the best interests of the city he had the honour to represent, he would join his hon. Friend (Mr. G. Palmer) and vote against the Speaker leaving the chair.


considered this Bill as one of the most important of the Session; and for the sake of the interests of the town with which he was so closely connected, he thought it his duty to give it all the support in his power. They were all aware that the calamity which had occurred in Ireland, had been the means of bringing over immense numbers of unfortunate individuals to this country; and that Liverpool especially had suffered by this kind of immigration. In that town alone, not fewer than 70,000 poor and destitute persons, chiefly from Ireland, were to be found; and there were from 6,000 to 7,000 cases of fever in the hospitals. In Liverpool, therefore, they strongly felt the want of proper sanitary regulations. A medical gentleman had informed him that in that town 160l. was expended last week in coffins alone for the use of the poor. These facts showed the necessity for some such Bill as the present; and he would, therefore, give it his support.


believed there was a great deal of misapprehension in the country as to the principle of this Bill, and he bogged to say a few words with regard to the machinery of it, of which he generally approved. It had been stated as an argument against the Bill, that so many of the town commissioners were to be appointed by the Crown, and this was to be opposed as too great a centralization of power. The clause bearing upon this point, however, only gave Her Majesty the power of appointing as town commissioners those individuals who had been selected by the ratepayers; consequently the whole objection that had been made to the Bill as centralising in its machinery, fell at once to the ground. The individuals thus appointed would compose a commission similar to the Poor Law or any other commission now existing. He thought the noble Lord at the head of the Government had been treated in an unbecoming man- ner by hon. Gentlemen in reference to the alterations which, had been made in this Bill. What was the state of the case? In consequence of the violent opposition which had been made to it by the city of London, that city and the metropolitan districts had been withdrawn. He had no doubt that if the noble Lord had it in his power to include London, he would; but, finding it impossible, he had not pressed it; and he certainly thought that, on this point, some of his hon. Friends on his side of the House had not done justice to the noble Lord. There was one part of the Bill he should like to see altered; he meant that part by which the surveyors would be superseded by the town commissioners. This would be an unnecessary interference with the local authorities, and he thought that if it was omitted it would facilitate the passing of the Bill. There were one or two other points which he might wish to see altered; but, on the whole, the Bill should have his support.


objected to the Bill on the ground of the centralizing power which it created. This system was too much acted upon, and, if continued, they would, ere long, have nothing but commissions to rule and regulate the whole affairs of the country. What he particularly rose to object to, however, was the principle laid down by the hon. Member for South Lancashire, that a Bill of this kind should be made to meet a temporary evil, such as that which now afflicted Liverpool. If there was a special case of distress, let a measure be brought in to meet it, but do not legislate for the entire country on a particular case. He maintained that this would prove a most expensive measure, as there was no limit put to the appointment of inspectors, nor to the amount of salaries to be given, while the powers to be committed to the inspectors were of a most inquisitorial character. He was as friendly as any man to the improvement of towns; but he thought this was a matter which should not be intrusted to commissions, but taken up by the Secretary of State himself, in connexion with the local authorities. He objected to the exclusion of London from the Bill, if it was really a beneficial measure; and if it was not beneficial, he protested against the rest of the country being subjected to it. Including London, and the country for ten miles round, and the two universities, which were excluded, there were twenty-four Members of that House whose constituents were not to be placed under this Bill. Considering the unconstitutional nature of the measure, its expensiveness, and the amount of patronage it conferred upon the Government, he was determined to give it his most determined opposition.


rose simply to ask why the noble Lord the First Commissioner of Woods and Forests, after excluding London and a district of four miles round, had now extended that district to ten miles? The exception of the metropolis was certainly the most singular that could be conceived; for, both through the public journals, and through the information given by benevolent individuals, they had been taught to believe that no part of the empire more required to be placed under regulations for sanitary purposes than did the city of London. He certainly could not give his sanction to the measure. Upon every ground connected with the machinery of the Bill, he deemed it his duty to oppose it.


, who was opposed by cries of "Divide!" said he had the advantage of hon. Members, for having dined he was not in such a hurry to go away. Before he proceeded to make an observation or two upon the Bill under consideration, he wished to ask the chairman whether he thought it was fair to the House and the public to introduce such a number of new clauses into that Bill? He should like also to know why the noble Lord the Chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests thought fit to exclude a circuit of ten miles round St. Paul's from the operation of the measure? The powers taken by the Bill he conceived to be monstrous; and he was opposed to any measure which invested the Crown with the right of interfering with the rating to such an unlimited extent. The Bill had reference to the chief towns in the country; but not to others unless they applied for it. Now, it was his opinion that there was public spirit, independence, and intelligence sufficient in the local authorities of the great corporate towns to carry out all the objects of the proposed Bill without legislative interference; and they did not want a Commissioner to be sent down from London to help them to make whatever improvements might be necessary in their respective districts. He also thought the machinery of the Bill was of a most expensive, vexatious, and annoying character; and, indeed, generally to his mind, the Bill was full of the greatest possible objections. It appeared to him also that it would create great confusion, as well as dissatisfaction in the public mind, that a system of legislation should be applied to the great towns in the country, from which the metropolis was excluded. Why should there be a circle of ten miles round St. Paul's exempted from the operation of the Bill? Why not say 200 miles as well as 10? There was just as much sense and reason in one as the other. The corporate towns were obliged to accept the Bill whether they wished or not; but he observed that those who wore most clamorous for the measure were the representatives of places which did not come within the scope of its operations unless they liked to accept of it. He trusted the House would resent the present unconstitutional attempt to dictate to distant localities by Commissioners resident in London. He did not know whether it would be in order or constitutional to offer a suggestion to the hon. Members representing the metropolitan boroughs; but if he might do so he would recommend them, as it was near dinner time, to go away and abstain from voting on the present question; and that course they might safely adopt after having made their bargain with the Government. He hoped, however, that if they did go into Committee, that the noble Lord (Lord Morpeth) would agree to expunge the 13th Clause. If it passed, he believed it would be inoperative, like the Poor Law Bill, from the difficulty of working it out. Altogether it seemed to him such another job as the Railway Bill of last year, which had been passed at the end of the Session; and while many hon. Members were in the country who would have opposed it. The commissions and appointments under that Bill had already cost 13,000l. He would oppose the Bill in every way, unless the clause for the appointment of Commissioners was expunged from it.


did not agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Lord Mayor of York, who asserted that no hon Member who had a direct interest in the matter should vote upon the Bill. He thought, on the contrary, that it was the duty as well as the right of hon. Gentlemen who were interested in it to vote upon it. He did not know why the metropolis should be exempted from the operation of the Bill; and he would give his vote for expunging that clause. He could only account for the fact of the city of London being exempted from its operations, whilst the city of York was included within its range, by the supposition that the Lord Mayor of York had not as much interest with Her Majesty's Government as the Lord Mayor of London had. The right hon. the Lord Mayor of York had alleged that property would be depreciated by the operation of the measure before the House. It was the first time that he (Mr. Duncombe) had heard of property being depreciated by good draining and cleansing; but he agreed with the right hon. Gentleman, that the salaries of the officers—those chief scavengers of the country—ought to be stated in the Bill. As, however, all the grounds of his objections might be removed in Committee, he should give his vote for going into Committee at once.


said, that the town which he represented, and several others, were very anxious to be brought within the operation of the Bill. There were some matters in it that required alteration, which could be effected in Committee.


said, it was alleged that the noble Lord (Viscount Morpeth) had re-ascended the summit of St. Paul's, and taken a new survey of the country round from this elevation. He had extended the circle from four miles to ten. Why had he not extended it to the utmost limits of the whole country? The metropolis with its circle was said to have been exempted from the operation of the Bill, because it was so intelligent, so wealthy, and so respectable. He was entitled to be heard on behalf of those smaller, less wealthy, and less intelligent places which were included, because they were not so well able as London to take care of themselves.


, as the challenge had been thrown out by the hon. Gentleman opposite to the Government to produce any Member for an important corporate town not excluded from its operation who would give his support to the measure, begged to say, that he as the representative of a rather large corporate town (Bristol), not only gave his support to it, but had to express the opinions of his constituents, who were very anxious to be included within its operations, and to enjoy the benefits which they expected would be derived from it. And they were surprised at the inhabitants of so enlightened and intelligent a town as London desiring to be excluded.

House divided on the question, that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question:—Ayes 117; Noes 26: Majority 91.

List of the AYES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Hervey, Lord A.
Adderley, C. B. Hope, G. W.
Aldam, W. Horsman, E.
Anson, hon. Col. Howard, hon. C. W. G.
Arundel and Surrey, Earl of Howard, hon. E. G. G.
Howard, P. H.
Baine, W. Hutt, W.
Baring, rt. hon. W. B. Labouchere, rt. hon. H.
Barnard, E. G. Lascelles, hon. W. S.
Barrington. Visct. Lawless, hon. C.
Bellew, R. M. Lawson, A.
Berkeley, hon. C. Lemon, Sir C.
Berkeley, hon. Capt. Mackinnon, W. A.
Berkeley, hon. H. F. M'Carthy, A.
Berkeley, hon. G. F. Milnes, R. M.
Bernal, R. Mitchell, T. A.
Blake, M. J. Monahan, J. H.
Bowring, Dr. Morpeth, Visct.
Bramston, T. W. Morison, Gen.
Brotherton, J. Norreys, Lord
Brown, W. O'Ferrall, R. M.
Browne, hon. W. Ogle, S. C. H.
Buller, E. Parker, J.
Burke, T. J. Patten, J. W.
Busfeild, W. Pechell, Capt.
Byng, rt. hon. G. S. Plumridge, Capt.
Callaghan, D. Polhill, F.
Chapman, B. Ponsonby, hon. C. F. A. C.
Christie, W. D. Powlett, Lord W.
Clay, Sir W. Protheroe, E. D.
Courtenay, Lord Reid, Sir J. R.
Cowper, hon. W. F. Repton, G. W. J.
Craig, W. G. Rich, H.
Currie, R. Russell, Lord J.
Dalrymple, Capt. Russell, J. D. W.
Dawson, hon. T. V. Rutherfurd, A.
Denison, W. J. Sandon, Visct.
Denison, E. B. Seymer, H. K.
Dennistoun, J. Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.
D'Eyncourt, rt. hn. C. T. Shelburne, Earl of
Dickinson, F. H. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Divett, E. Somerville, Sir W. M.
Duncan, G. Sotherton, T. H. S.
Duncombe, T. Stansfield, W. R. C.
East, Sir J. B. Strutt, rt. hon. E.
Escott, B. Tancred, H. W.
Estcourt, T. G. B. Thornely, T.
Ewart, W. Vane, Lord H.
Fitzroy, hon. H. Villiers, hon. C.
Forster, M. Wakley, T.
Gibson, rt. hon. T. M. Walker, R.
Gore, hon. R. Wall, C. B.
Greene, T. Ward, H. G.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Wodehouse, E.
Grosvenor, Lord R. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Hall, Sir B. Wrightson, W. B.
Hallyburton, Ld. J. F. G. Yorke, H. R.
Hatton, Capt. V.
Hawes, B. TELLERS.
Heathcoat, J. Tufnell, H.
Heathcote, G. J. Hill, Lord M.
List of the NOES.
Arkwright, G. Borthwick, P.
Bentinck, Lord G. Buck, L. W.
Blackburne, J. I. Carew, W. H. P.
Bodkin, W. H. Collett, J.
Deedes, W. Muntz, G. F.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Newdegate, C. N.
Dugdale, W. S. Newport, Visct.
Entwisle, W. Rolleston, Col.
Floyer, J. Spooner, R.
Halsey, T. P. Vyse, H.
Henley, J. W. Waddington, H. S.
Hildyard, T. B. T.
Hudson, G. TELLERS.
Lygon, hon. Gen. Sibthorp, Col.
Manners, Lord C. S. Waddington, H. S.

House in Committee.


begged to say, in reference to the remarks which had fallen from several Members about the Government being anxious to proceed with the Bill on account of the patronage which it would place into their hands, that as the alterations which had been made in the measure would diminish the duties to be performed, the Government meant to reduce the Commissioners from five to four; and one of them only was to be paid.

On the First Clause (Her Majesty may appoint four persons to be Commissioners, etc.),


thought the better course would be for the Government to withdraw the Bill, and to introduce next Session a Bill which would include the whole country within its provisions. There were several objectionable points to which, he thought, the attention of the Committee should be directed—such as the exemption of all manufactories within ten miles of London from the smoke clause—that any two magistrates might decide upon what constitutes a nuisance, and order its removal—and that the inspectors were not limited in their inquiries to matters relating to sanitary regulation, but might extend their inquiries in other directions—a power which he thought might be turned to electioneering purposes. He objected to the centralisation principle upon which the measure was based. He objected to the Bill because it was so framed as to give the Government the greatest possible patronage, and to lay upon it the least possible responsibility. He moved that the clause be omitted.


inquired why the names of the Commissioners should be concealed? They might be persons whom the country did not like. Why, too, give the Commissioners the power to appoint as many inspectors as they liked? He never knew any Bill brought in at the close of a Parliament which conferred such a vast amount of secret patronage.


would ask the noble Lord if he had any objection to state what was the intended salary of this one paid Commissioner? The Ministry would have to take a vote for that amount in Committee of Supply on Friday; and they might as well state the sum now. The Bill entailed a certain annual charge; and the House, in discussing the Bill, ought to know the amount of that charge. They ought also to know something more definite respecting the number of the inspectors. Why, were they to vote for a Bill involving the country in a great expense, without having any idea of the amount of that expense?


would he glad if hon. Members would define what they meant by centralisation, as he had observed that any Bill which was obnoxious to the charge of centralising always found a vast number of assailants. If centralisation meant that powers were to be absorbed by the State which would be more usefully exercised if left to the local authorities, he also would object to it; but if centralisation only was to acquire and diffuse information—a purpose for which the powers of the Commissioners in this Bill were mainly constituted—he should, on the contrary, highly approve of it. No person who had considered the evidence taken by the Commissioners appointed for that purpose, and was aware of the state of neglect in which the towns now were, could honestly say that it was of no use to have a board for the purposes of scientific inquiry into the best modes of sanitary improvement, and to advise as to the wisest plans for carrying out those improvements; and the fears of those who thought so useful a board might be prostituted to political purposes were wild and visionary.


said, it was very well for metropolitan Members to support this Bill, after their own constituents had bearded the Government, and obtained an exemption from its provisions for themselves; but for his part he never heard of so monstrous a piece of legislation, as a measure which authorized commissioners to send down inspectors to every town in the kingdom, to make surveys, and incur any other expenses they thought proper, and which then gave the commissioners power to order that all these expenses be paid out of the local rates. It was absurd to inflict such a pressure on towns merely because they happened to have corporations. The expenses of surveys and inspection would be imposed even where the best possible sanitary regulations were al- ready in operation. In the city of York, a separate board had the management of the lighting of the streets; and they performed that duty so admirably, that he should be sorry if they were compelled by this Bill to resign those duties to the corporation. He did not see why the towns were to be interfered with and dictated to in so vexatious a manner; the effect of that interference would be to paralyse the exertions of the local authorities.


said, as the Committee was now engaged on the clause which related to the constitution of the commissioners, he felt bound to confine himself to that point alone. He had been asked by the hon. Member for Birmingham why he made a mystery of the extent of remuneration to be given to the paid Commissioner. He could assure the Hon. Gentleman that he did not wish to make any mystery whatever of that or any other matter, where circumstances did not require him to do so; and he had no hesitation in stating at once, that when the subject was brought forward in the estimates, it was not intended to propose that a larger salary should be given than one not exceeding 1,000l. a year. It was asked, why did they not let the towns petition for the extension of this measure? But his conviction was, that if such a regulation were adopted, the localities most in need of improvement, would he the very towns from which the invitations to interfere would not proceed. As to the word "centralisation," there was nothing in it so very formidable in his cars. He believed the word was formidable to those only whose deeds merited punishment. Centralisation was either a very good or a very bad thing, according to the object to which it was applied, and the mode in which it operated. There was, he thought, no case in which it was more likely to be attended with good results than that to which the Bill before the Committee applied. The proper sewerage of towns, the cleansing and lighting of streets, and the abundant supply of water, were the very matters in which the interference of an impartial and scientific superintendent authority would be most useful, and which were more likely to be effectually carried out under such superintendence, than under the straggling or desultory efforts of particular localities. That superintendence it was the object of the Bill to supply; but it would do no more. However useful the authority of the Commissioners might be, he, for one. should object to it, if it were to have the effect of superseding and paralysing local efforts. Their business would he to give advice, and to stimulate, if necessary, local efforts; but he would like hon. Gentlemen who said the Bill went further than this, to put their fingers on any one provision which empowered the central authority to do itself what it was found desirable to have effected, instead of consigning it to local agency, which would be responsible to the popular feeling of the place. If defective at all, he believed the Bill contained too little of stringent or compulsory power to effect what was desirable to have done. The principle of the Bill was to leave all to local agency, advised and encouraged by central superintendence. When the local agents neglected or refused to do their duty, the central authority had power to interfere only by directing public opinion to the subject, and bringing that public opinion to bear upon it. The institution of the Commission would also bear favourably with the suggestion of contrivances for preventing fires, the means of removing disease, and for general sanitary purposes; and, under these circumstances, he appealed to the House to consent to its appointment.


had a constitutional objection to the Commissioners having power to send down inspectors whether the ratepayers wished it or not, the ratepayers being the parties who were compelled to pay the expenses. He could wish there might be some board to advise with as to the best mode of draining and effecting other sanitary improvements; but he did not like to take out of the hands of the local authorities the power of applying the rates in the manner they thought best. He regretted that the Government, instead of forcing this Bill through the House at so late a period of the Session, had not adopted the suggestion of the hon. Member for Falkirk (Lord Lincoln), and brought in now a short Bill, which would have prevented loss of time, and enabled the towns to give an opinion on the measure.


said, the noble Lord had talked of leaving the execution of improvements to the local authorities; and in answer to that he only asked the House to read the ninth and tenth clauses. He condemned the inquisitorial power of the inspectors, which would almost authorize them to go to the house of the Lord Mayor of York and see what he had for dinner, and whether he went sober to bed, which he (Colonel Sibthorp) was sure the right hon. Gentleman always did. And yet the noble Lord could tell the House everything was left to the local authorities?


said, the noble Lord had fully defined the objects of the Bill, and it afforded a good answer to the question put by the hon. Baronet the Member for the Tower Hamlets (Sir W. Clay), "what is the true definition of the term centralisation?" In the first place, the Commissioners were to have the power of inquiring and of reporting to the Privy Council—which had more effect than an Act of Parliament; they next were to have power to place any town under the central authority; in the third place, inspectors were to be appointed, who were to have the power to influence the town-council; and in the last place, the town-council was to carry on the principle of centralisation by absorbing within itself all the other local boards. The authority was to originate with Government; it was then to influence the town-councils; and the town-council was to absorb within itself all the local jurisdictions. The noble Lord had said that centralisation might be a good thing, and it might be a bad thing. He (Mr. Newdegate) agreed with the noble Lord. Centralisation was a powerful agent for good or bad; but it was an agent utterly alien to the constitution of this country. It introduced a power to which Englishmen were thoroughly averse. And if the reports on which the Bill was founded had no better foundation than that quoted by the noble Lord in reference to the city of York, he doubted whether it would not be difficult to make the system in any way palatable to the people. Several hon. Members who had spoken were not averse to a central authority. The hon. Baronet the Member for Exeter (Sir J. Duckworth) would not object to a sort of chamber council to consult with when they wished to do so; but that was a very different thing to a central authority, which threw out its ramifications throughout the whole country, and absorbed every minor authority by means of the town-council. He believed the Lord Mayor of York, who had lived in that city from his youth, and was acquainted with every street, court, alley, and corner, must be a good authority on its sanitary state. He contradicted the report which the noble Lord quoted, and he brought to back his assertion the opinions of some of the most eminent medical men, that centralisation in York would be founded on a report which they had the best means of knowing was based on gross exaggeration. That was the system in the outset. The noble Lord introduced the measure now, and quoted Liverpool and London. Why, it was very well known that the famine had been the cause of unusual disease and mortality. Were they to legislate as if they were to have a continual famine fever? The hon. Member for Exeter had talked of delay; hut if the Government delayed they spoilt their case. He rose, however, principally for the purpose of calling the attention of the House to the fact that they were gradually, step by step, undermining the system of government in this country: first, under the excuse that the power was not absolute; and next, that the local authorities had not intelligence enough to govern the affairs of their own towns. By one step after another, they were departing from that system under which England had risen to her present position in the scale of nations. They talked of England as if it were a mass of misery and disease from one end of the land to the other; hut let them go round all the countries in the world, and then ask themselves the question whether she were so or not. The noble Lord had quoted the authority of a commission in support of centralisation. Did he think that any man would depreciate his own trade? They were not likely to cry stinking fish so near those who took their wares. Hon. Members came down there in total ignorance of what the Bill really was; and it was not to be wondered at, for the Bill swallowed up the powers also of their larger Acts of Parliament. But did the House know that to bring any borough under this central power the Committee had only to make a report, and as soon as that report was approved by the Privy Council, they were endued with more power than an Act of Parliament; and the Commissioners had only to give notice in the London Gazette,and in such other manner as they approved. So that any day any borough might be placed under central authority without the knowledge, to say nothing of the consent of the inhabitants. True, it did give the majority the power of rejecting the measures proposed; but why not give a majority of the ratepayers the power to reject central interference altogether in the first instance? Why change the nature of the incorporation? It was a maxim in law that parties should not be compelled to in- corporate themselves except voluntarily from a sense of their own advantage. He had objected strongly to the principle of the Bill generally, and he opposed in an equal degree the clause by which it was now proposed to appoint the Commissioners.


remarked, that if they were to send an inspector to the cleanest town in the country, it would be impossible that he should not be aware of some smell arising from cabbage-water or some other impurity. It would be impossible to get an inspector to report that any town was altogether free from impurity. But who were so interested in the health of a town as those who lived in it? He knew nobody to whom it was more safe to intrust the working of a measure of this kind than to local bodies. He felt that the difficulties were very great indeed, in the way of carrying out the Bill in the manner proposed. He thought he had heard the noble Lord say the Bill contained no power to compel the execution of any work without the consent of the local authorities. Was that so? [Lord MORPETH: Yes.] He thought it would he very satisfactory to the country to know that fact.


was anxious that towns should have the means of relieving themselves from the impurities which prevailed in many of them; hut he doubted whether the present measure offered the best means of effecting that object. No explanation had been given of the reason for placing all the towns of the country under three heads. London, which most required sanitary legislation, was left out of the Bill; other towns might, if they pleased, place themselves under the operation of the measure; and upon a third class it was compulsory. This was anomalous legislation. Would it not he bettor to include London in the Bill, and give it and all other towns the option of embracing its provisions? He disliked the principle of centralization which pervaded the measure, and contemplated with anything but a feeling of satisfaction the prospect of another large staff of commissioners and inspectors being saddled upon the country. If the Government would give to all towns the power of bringing themselves under the operation of the Bill by a petition from a, portion of their inhabitants—not a fixed number—the country would accept the measure with satisfaction.


was surprised at the feeling which appeared to have suddenly sprung up in that House against commissioners. When, a few days since, he purposed to get rid of the Poor Law Commissioners, he found himself in a wofully small minority, and yet the powers to he exercised by those Commissioners were vast and almost unlimited compared with the powers to be exercised under this Bill. The Commissioners under the present measure could only interfere with drains and cesspools; the Poor Law Commissioners had the control of millions of the poor people of this country. It would he inconsistent in those who voted for the appointment of the Poor Law Commissioners to vote against the appointment of these Commissioners. The right hon. Member for York voted for the Poor Law Commissioners. [Mr. HUDSON: Only for one year.] He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would reflect on the evil tendency of his vote, and replace it by a better on a future occasion. With respect to the question now before the Committee, he thanked Ministers for what they had done, but thought that they ought to have gone further. They were justly answerable for not acting on a hold, well-defined principle. When they had to apply their sanitary legislation to the spot where it was most wanted, they shrank from the performance of their duty. The noble Lord had not stated why London and the metropolitan boroughs were excluded from the Bill. This was not the first occasion in which the corporation of London had succeeded in exempting themselves from the operation of measures which ought to have applied to them: they pursued the same course with respect to the Corporations Amendment Act and Peel's Police Act. The exemption of the metropolis must appear very unfair to other towns. He would undertake to say, that if there was one part of the country which more than another required sanitary regulation, it was London. The abominable state of many parts of the metropolis generated disease, and gave rise to much crime. The moral feature of the sanitary question had been much overlooked; for his part, he thought the present measure one of great importance in a moral point of view. Feeling a strong conviction of the necessity of the measure, he would, though much against his inclination, vote for the appointment of the Commissioners. He perceived that only one Commissioner was to be paid, and he presumed that he was a medical practioner, from the circumstance of the salary being so low.


observed that the question before the House was whether they could carry out sanitary reform efficiently by this Bill, or by any measure they could adopt. He took exceptions to the Bill because he felt assured that, even if the measure should ultimately succeed, the machinery was so elaborate that several months would elapse before it could be brought into operation. He contended that all necessary sanitary reform could he carried out under the Towns Improvement Clauses Bill. Let them begin at the 13th Clause of the Bill before the House, and strike out all the expensive machinery, and the Bill would be hailed with pleasure by the country generally.


supported the Bill, which was strongly approved of by the most eminent medical men in Carlisle. He had received various communications from Carlisle in favour of it. The Bill would work much better without the improvement suggested by the hon. Member for Oxfordshire. It would save the poor rates, and give a useful impulse to local improvement.


said, his noble Friend the Chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests had stated in his opening address, when proposing the measure, that he did not entertain any alarm at the system of centralisation to be established by it. he was not surprised at this declaration, inasmuch as all the despotic powers given to the Commissioners and all the patronage conferred upon them would he centralised in his noble Friend. It was upon that account that the corporate towns of England felt alarmed at the system of centralisation over which the noble Lord was to exercise control. He could answer for the borough which he represented, that in its corporate capacity it was far from being disposed to place perfect confidence in the omniscience of his noble Friend. They objected to the measure because it was to confer upon a cumbrous staff of salaried officers powers to make inquiries without limit or restriction. He was not surprised at corporate towns feeling alarmed, especially if it should have come to their knowledge that one of the first acts of the noble Lord when appointed First Commissioner of Woods and Forests was to order returns from either a gas or a water-work company at either Edinburgh or Leith, which, if supplied, would have engrossed the entire time of Mr. Rendal and his whole staff of engineers and sub-engineers for two years, and would have cost a sum of 30,000l. These were the sort of inquiries which those newly-appointed Commissioners, who knew nothing of the local affairs of a town, were to be authorized to direct or not, just as they might consider necessary. Another reason for the alarm which the corporate towns felt was to be traced to the circumstance that the city of London and the metropolitan boroughs were to be excluded. They were alarmed that the city of London, which was represented by the First Commissioner of the Treasury, should he exempt; and this circumstance justified them in the opinion that there was some secret mischief lurking somewhere. He hoped the noble Lord was prepared to give a satisfactory explanation in this respect, for so long as the city of London was exempt, he, as the representative of the borough of King's Lynn, would claim for that place the same measure of even-handed justice which was awarded to the city of London. His noble Friend the Chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests had laid a heavy indictment against the health of the city of York; but why did he inform the House when he brought in the measure, that it was designed to add years to the lives of the inhabitants of London? The noble Lord gave them to understand, that eight years were curtailed from the lives of the inhabitants of the metropolis, in consequence of deficient drainage and ventilation; and he estimated the value of the labour thus lost at 2,500,000l. He also informed them that 10,000 persons unnecessarily died from bad drainage and an inadequate supply of water, and that sickness attacked 70,000 persons who would otherwise be without any ailment. This the noble Lord advanced on the authority of Dr. Lyon Playfair, the great curer of the potato rot. If such were really the case, how did the noble Lord justify withholding such a boon from the citizens of London? Why, the only reason could be that the noble Lord did not believe one word of what the noble Lord had been told. He could not charge the noble Lord with the grave offence of withholding such great benefits from the inhabitants of the metropolis if it was really his opinion that the measure would have the effect of saving annually the lives of 10,000 persons, of saving 70,000 more from the horrors of disease, and of saving 2,500l. per annum. But this was not all, for his noble Friend told them that by his scheme he could be able to realize 2l. per year by the excre- ment of every individual; and that, allowing 5,000,000 as the population of the great towns to which the Bill was to apply, he could thus save the enormous sum of 10,000,000l. per annum. If this were the case, what pretext was there for the noble Lord the Member for London to interpose with his great influence to obtain the exclusion of the metropolis from the operation of the Bill? The reasons he believed to be, that all the advantages which had been urged were entirely visionary. From the many changes which the measure had undergone, he confessed that he had lost all confidence in it, and was strongly inclined to suspect that there was something wrong-in the measure; and he thought that those who represented corporate towns should endeavour to get rid of the Bill if they could. With regard to patronage, it was only natural that every district should wish for a fair share; but this was taken away by the Bill now before the House—nobody could be appointed to any office under the Bill who did not meet with the sanction of the Commissioners. Of all the reasons which had been urged in favour of conferring this additional patronage on the Government, the worst he ever heard was that advanced by an hon. Member, that because the House consented last week to remodel the Poor Law Board, thereby bringing nearly 6,000 officers within the statutory appointment of the Chief Commissioners who held seats in Her Majesty's Cabinet, therefore the House should consent to the present measure, which conferred the right to make many other appointments. He had sat patiently expecting the noble Lord at the head of the Government, or the noble Lord the Chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests, to inform the House what number of appointments there would be, and what would be their salaries. The noble Lord, however, at the head of the Government had proved very bashful, if not very mysterious, on these points; and he believed that the promise which had been made to the House on the subject of the salaries of the Poor Law Commissioners had not been fulfilled. In the old Bill a clause was inserted, giving an unlimited power to appoint officers at salaries of 8001.; in the now Bill the clause did not appear, but another was in-sorted, giving the power of appointment to the Commissioners, and leaving the salaries to be fixed by the Crown. He was not disposed to allow the measure to make any further progress if he could prevent it. Whether he regarded it as conferring an enormous amount of patronage on the Government, and taking it away from the several districts, or "whether he looked upon it as an undue and unjust interference with the management of the internal circumstances of each separate town, it was equally objectionable.


observed, that the Bill which now formed the subject of discussion had been read a second time by a very considerable majority. It had then been proposed that very evening that the House should go into Committee on the Bill that day three months—a proposition which was negatived upon a division by a majority, as he believed, of 117 to 26; and now the noble Lord, finding all his efforts defeated by great majorities, got up and made a speech on all kinds of subjects not referring to the question before the Committee, and declared that he would do all he could to stop the progress of this Bill. A great part of the noble Lord's speech was taken up with answering a speech made by his noble Friend the Chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests in the month of March last. The noble Lord said that he was astounded— Obstupuit, steteruntque comæ, et vox faucibus hæsit; and the noble Lord had consequently waited till the month of July before he was able to answer the speech of his noble Friend made in March last. He thought it might be easily seen that the noble Lord's object was not to discuss the clauses of the Bill, but, by making a speech, to obstruct its progress. Among other things had come the frequent repetition of the charge that the First Minister of the Crown, representing the city of London, had used his influence to get that place exempted from the operation of the Bill; but neither the noble Lord, nor any one else, had noticed that the noble Lord the late Chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests had previously introduced a Bill which did not include the city of London; and that the first time the city of London was introduced was when the First Minister of the Crown represented that city in Parliament, whereupon the noble Lord the late Chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests objected to the insertion, as making the Bill impracticable, and almost impossible. That, however, was a subject which was referred to by a subsequent clause of the Bill; and when the Committee came to that subject, his noble Friend would state his reasons for omitting the city of London. The question involved in the first clause was, whether there should be a central power to put this Act into operation. While he felt that what had fallen from the hon. Member for Finsbury reflected somewhat upon his own constituents, he thought that there was a great deal of general truth in his observations, because the hon. Member said that if the House left corporate bodies to reform themselves, without any external pressure whatever, it would be a long time before they took any steps towards that object. The plan of the hon. Member for Oxfordshire was to allow these places to clean and purify themselves; but the opinion of the Government was, that without some external pressure and interference they would do nothing of the kind. What the Government proposed at present was, that the Chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests should appoint one Commissioner, at a salary of l,000l a year, and a certain number of inspectors. [Lord G. BENTINCK: An uncertain number.] Well, an uncertain number, if the noble Lord liked, who should visit these towns and make reports as to what was to be done. The noble Lord, if he thought proper, might propose to fix a limit to the number employed; but there was a limit which the noble Lord did not seem to understand, and that was the necessity of taking a vote for the salaries of the inspectors in Committee of Supply. If the House of Commons thought that any extravagance had been practised, the number of inspectors might be easily cut down by making the vote 3,000l instead of 5,000l. The noble Lord was mistaken in supposing that the whole of the power respecting the appointment of officers was taken out of the hands of the towns, because with regard to certain other officers they were to be appointed by the towns; and the whole power which the Chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests would have in respect of them was to give his approbation to the appointments which were made. The powers given by the Bill, therefore, were not all vested in a central body, and the powers which were conferred seemed to be necessary, in order to put this Bill into operation. Seeing this to be the case, he really thought that, however fair an objection there might be to increasing the patronage of the Government—an objection of which he did not complain—still, when an important object was involved, he thought it better to increase the patronage of the Crown, than to lose a very considerable public benefit.


said, that the noble Lord the First Minister of the Crown had virtually admitted that the reason why the city of London was cut out of the Bill was, that the noble Lord the Member for Falkirk had said that it ought to be excluded. With regard to the plan itself, he was not disposed to reject any measure which would tend to improve the sanitary condition of the people, on account of any amount of patronage which would be created by it; but unless it could be shown that such benefits would certainly be conferred, he could not assent to the creation of so much Government patronage. He saw the other day an extraordinary statement, in a paper which was supposed to be an organ of Her Majesty's Government—he meant the Morning Chronicle. He did not pretend to recollect the exact details, but it appeared that there were more places in the gift of the Government of France than there were electors in that country. He did not mean to say that we were likely to come to the same state of things; but he thought it was an element of consideration which we ought to keep in view. With regard to the plan of the hon. Member for Oxfordshire, he must say that he thought he had pointed out a more feasible scheme than that of the Government, and one more likely to lead to practical results.

On the question that the Clause stand part of the Bill, the Committee divided:—Ayes 100; Noes 28: Majority 72.

List of the AYES.
Adderley, C. B. Clifton, J. T.
Aglionby, H. A. Cowper, hon. W. F.
Aldam, W. Craig, W. G.
Anson, hon. Col. Dalmeny, Lord
Arundel and Surrey, Earl of D'Eyncourt, rt. hn. C. T.
Dickinson, F. H.
Baine, W. Divett, E.
Bannerman, A. Duncan, G.
Barclay, D. Dundas, Adm.
Barnard, E. G. Dundas, Sir D.
Beckett, W. East, Sir J. B.
Berkeley, hon. C. Evans, Sir De L.
Berkeley, hon. Capt. Ewart, W.
Bouverie, hon. E. P. Ferguson, Sir R. A.
Bowring, Dr. Fitzmaurice, hon. W.
Brisco, M. Forster, M.
Brotherton, J. Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.
Brown, W. Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.
Burke, T. J. Hanmer, Sir J.
Busfeild, W. Hatton, Capt. V.
Byng, rt. hon. G. S. Hawes, B.
Chapman, B. Hayter, W. G.
Clay, Sir W. Heathcoat, J.
Hervey, Lord A. Powlett, Lord W.
Hindley, C. Protheroe, E. D.
Hobhouse, rt. hn. Sir J. Pusey, P.
Howard, hon. C. W. G. Rich, H.
Howard, hon. E. G. G. Russell, Lord J.
Howard, P. H. Rutherfurd, A.
Inglis, Sir R. H. Seymour, Lord
Jervis, Sir J. Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.
Kemble, H. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Labouchere, rt. hon. H. Somerville, Sir W. M.
Langston, J. H. Sotheron, T. H. S.
Layard, Major Stansfield, W. R. C.
Lemon, Sir C. Staunton, Sir G. T.
Macaulay, rt. hn. T. B. Stuart, Lord J.
Mackinnon, W. A. Strutt, rt. hon. E.
Martin, C. W. Talbet, C. R. M.
Maule, rt. hon. F. Tancred, H. W.
Mitchell, T. A. Thornely, T.
Monahan, J. H. Trelawny, J. S.
Morpeth, Visct. Turner, E.
Morison, Gen. Wakley, T.
Ogle, S. C. H. Walker, R.
Parker, J. Ward, H. G.
Patten, J. W. Watson, W. H.
Pechell, Capt. Williams, W.
Perfect, R. Wrightson, W. B.
Philips, G. R. TELLERS.
Plumridge, Capt. Tufnell, H.
Polhill, F. Hill, Lord M.
List of the NOES.
Arkwright, G. Manners, Lord C. S.
Bentinck, Lord G. Manners, Lord J.
Blackburne, J. I. Muntz, G. F.
Borthwick, P. Neeld, J.
Carew, W. H. P. Newdegate, C. N.
Collett, J. Palmer, G.
Colville, C. R. Rolleston, Col.
Duckworth, Sir J. T. B. Round, C. G.
Entwisle, W. Sibthorp, Col.
Floyer, J. Spooner, R.
Fuller, A. E. Stuart, J.
Grogan, E. Yorke, H. R.
Hall, Sir B.
Hodgson, F. TELLERS.
Hudson, G. Henley, J. W.
Lawson, A. Buck, L. W.

On Clause 7,

MR. DIVETT moved that the concluding lines of the clause, giving power to the inspectors to inquire and report whether or not the existing boundaries of corporate boroughs ought to be extended, be omitted.


explained that it was not the object of the Act that the inspectors should have power to alter the boundaries, but merely that they should inquire and report respecting them, and make recommendations, which might be made the basis for legislative enactment on the subject.

The House divided on the question that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause:—Ayes 103; Noes 59: Majority 44.

List of the AYES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Adderley, C. B.
Aglionby, H. A. Inglis, Sir R. H.
Aldam, W. Jervis, Sir J.
Anson, hon. Col. Labouchere, rt. hon. H.
Arundel and Surrey, Earl of Langston, J. H.
Lawless, hon. C.
Baine, W. Lemon, Sir C.
Barkly, H. Lindsay, Col.
Barnard, E. G. Macaulay, rt. hon. T. B.
Beckett, W. M'Carthy, A.
Bellew, R. M. Maule, rt. hon. F.
Berkeley, hon. C. Miles, P. W. S.
Berkeley, hon. Capt. Milnes, R. M.
Berkeley, hon. H. F. Mitchell, T. A.
Blake, M. J. Moffatt, G.
Bouverie, hon. E. P. Monahan, J. H.
Bowring, Dr. Morpeth, Visct.
Brisco, M. Morris, D.
Brotherton, J. Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.
Brown, W. Neville, R.
Buller, C. Norreys, Lord
Buller, E. Norreys, Sir D. J.
Burke, T. J. O'Connell, M. J.
Byng, right hon. G. S. O'Ferrall, R. M.
Cavendish, hon. G. H. Palmerston, Visct.
Chapman, B. Parker, J.
Clay, Sir W. Perfect, R.
Cowper, hon. W. F. Philips, G. R.
Craig, W. G. Philips, M.
Dawson, hon. T. V. Plumridge, Capt.
Dickinson, F. H. Protheroe, E. D.
Duncan, G. Rich, H.
Duncombe, T. Romilly, J.
Dundas, Adm. Russell, Lord J.
Dundas, Sir D. Rutherford, A.
Easthope, Sir J. Sandon, Visct.
Ebrington, Visct. Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.
Ellice, rt. hon. E. Shelburne, Earl of
Estcourt, T. G. B. Somerville, Sir W. M.
Ferguson, Sir R. A. Stuart, Lord J.
Forster, M. Strutt, rt. hon. E.
Gibson, rt. hon. T. M. Talbot, C. R. M.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Thornely, T.
Grosvenor, Lord R. Trelawny, J. S.
Hamilton, Lord C. Turner, E.
Hanmer, Sir J. Vivian, J. H.
Hatton, Capt. V. Wakley, T.
Hawes, B. Ward, H. G.
Hervey, Lord A. Wilshere, W.
Hollond, R. Wood, rt. lion. Sir C.
Hope, G. W.
Howard, hon. C. W. G. TELLERS.
Howard, hon. E. G. G. Tufnell, T.
Howard, P. H. Hill, Lord M.
List of the AYES.
Arkwright, G. Entwisle, W.
Bentinck, Lord G. Floyer, J.
Blackburne, J. I. Fuller, A. E.
Boldero, H. G. Grogan, E.
Borthwick, P. Halsey, T. P.
Brooke, Lord Hamilton, G. A.
Buck, L. W. Hayter, W. G.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Heathcote, J.
Carew, W. H. P. Henley, J. W.
Codrington, Sir W. Hildyard, T. B. T.
Colville, C. R. Hodgson, F.
Courtenay, Lord Hudson, G.
Deedes, W. Hussey, T.
D'Eyncourt, rt. hon. C. T. Hutt, W.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Kemble, H.
Duckworth, Sir J. T. B. Lawson, A.
Duke, Sir J. Lowther, hon. Col.
East, Sir J. B. Manners, Lord J.
Martin, C. W. Seymour, Lord
Muntz, G. F. Sibthorp, Col.
Newdegate, C. N. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Newport, Visct. Sotheron, T. H. S.
O'Brien, A. S. Tancred, H. W.
Ossulston, Lord Tollemache, J.
Packe, C. W. Vivian, J. E.
Palmer, R. Waddington, H. S.
Pechell, Capt. Williams, W.
Rashleigh, W. Yorke, H. R.
Rolleston, Col. TELLERS.
Russell, J. D. W. Divett, E.
Seymer, H. K. Spooner, R.

House resumed.

Committee to sit again.

House adjourned at One o'clock.