HC Deb 02 July 1847 vol 93 cc1173-80

House in Committee on the Health of Towns Bill.

On Clause 12 being proposed, empowering Her Majesty, by the advice of Her Privy Council, to make an order for enforcing the Act in certain corporate towns upon the report of the Commissioners of Health and Public Works,

MR. SPOONER moved, as an Amendment, to insert the words upon the petition of three-fourths of the inhabitant householders, within such corporate borough. He only wished them to deal with corporate towns as with other towns. If the towns wished for this measure, as it was pretended, why not let it be optional with them to adopt it or reject it as they thought fit?


could not agree to the Amendment. In corporate towns there were now existing regularly constituted bodies elected by their fellow-townsmen; and it was the opinion of the Government that to these bodies the powers under the measure might be safely entrusted. As those bodies had already been selected by the various towns to manage their ordinary corporate affairs, he thought they might safely be entrusted with the care of the sewerage, drainage, and lighting of the towns. It might be said that the inhabitants of the towns to which the clause was to be applied, might ask for the extension of the Bill to them if it were desirable; but he would say he doubted the expediency of in all cases leaving it to individuals to apply for the operation of the Bill, when that operation would involve the necessity of expenditure from their own pockets; and as the general health of the country would be very much affected by the operation of this Bill, he could not, in the cases alluded to, leave it to the application of individuals whether the Bill was or was not to be brought into operation.

The Committee divided on the question, that the words be inserted:—Ayes 27; Noes 73: Majority 46.

List of the AYES.
Arkwright, G. Lawson, A.
Bennet, P. Packe, C. W.
Borthwick, P. Palmer, R.
Broadley, H. Palmer, G.
Buck, L. W. Round, C. G.
Collett, J. Sibthorp, Col.
Deedes, W. Sotheron, T. H. S.
Duckworth, Sir J. T. B. Stuart, J.
Dugdale, W. S. Trotter, J.
Entwisle, W. Tyrell, Sir J. T.
Granby, Marq. of Vivian, J. E.
Henley, J. W. Waddington, H. S.
Hotham, Lord TELLERS.
Hussey, T. Newdegate, C. N.
Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H. Spooner, R.
List of the NOES.
Aglionby, H. A. Arundel and Surrey
Aldam, W. Earl of
Baine, W. Leader, J. T.
Barnard, E. G. Lindsay, Col.
Berkeley, hon. H. F. Macaulay, rt. hon. T. B.
Bernal R. M'Carthy, A.
Brisco, M. Martin, J.
Brotherton, J. Maule, rt. hon. F.
Brown, W. Monahan, J. H.
Browne, hon. W. Morpeth, Visct.
Buller, C. Morison, Gen.
Buller, E. O'Connell, M. J.
Busfeild, W. Ord, W.
Christie, W. D. Parker, J.
Clay, Sir W. Perfect, R.
Craig, W. G. Plumridge, Capt.
Dalrymple, Capt. Polhill, F.
D'Eyncourt, rt. hn. C.T. Protheroe, E. D.
Duncan, G. Rich, H.
Ebrington, Visct. Russell, Lord J.
Forster, M. Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.
Gibson, rt. hon. T. M. Sheridan, R. B.
Godson, R. Somerville, Sir W. M.
Gore, hon. R. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Gower, hon. F. L. Strutt, rt. hon. E.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Thornely, T.
Hall, Sir B. Tomline, G.
Hatton, Capt. V. Trelawny, J. S.
Hawes, B. Troubridge, Sir E. T.
Hobhouse, rt. hn. Sir J. Turner, E.
Howard, hon. C. W. G. Wakley, T.
Howard, hon. E. G. G. Walker, R.
Howard, P. H. Ward, H. G.
Humphery, Ald. Williams, W.
James, W. Wynn, rt. hon. C. W. W.
Jervis, Sir J.
Kemble, H. TELLRS.
Labouchere, rt. hon. H. Tufnell, H.
Layard, Major Hill, Lord M.

Clause agreed to.

On the 13th Clause, excluding every town and district within ten miles of St. Paul's, from the operation of the Bill,


expressed his surprise at the exclusion of London; and, if nobody else did it, he should move that the clause should be struck out of the Bill.


thought that if the clause were excluded, it would be impossible to carry the Bill this Session.


considered this clause to he one of the worst features of the Bill. It excluded London, although every one knew that that place above all others in Her Majesty's dominions required sanitary measures. He should like to see some of the metropolitan Members get up and say why London should be excluded. Why could not they abolish the commissioners of sewers of London, and constitute them commissioners of health, as they proposed to do with the commissioners of sewers in York? He was convinced that the powers which were proposed to be given to the Chief Commissioner of Health were quite unconstitutional.


had no objection to have London included in the Bill; but it should be done in a proper manner. He would undertake to say that York had not a single sewer; and it was fearful to contemplate the expense which the right hon. Member for Sunderland and his fellow-citizens would have to pay if this Bill were passed! Notwithstanding the extraordinary zeal with which the right hon. Gentleman had attacked the metropolis, he would pledge his word that there were in Surrey as many miles of drainage as the right hon. Gentleman had miles of railway. As he had before said, he had no objection to see London brought under the operation of such a measure as this; but such a measure could not be passed this Session.


was anxious to be informed on three points: first, why London, which was originally intended to be included, had been exempted from the operation of the Bill; secondly, why Middlesex and Surrey, which were also originally included, had likewise been subsequently omitted; and thirdly, why, it having been in the first instance contemplated that no district within four miles of London should be included in the operation of the Bill, the area had since been extended to ten miles?


said, he would endeavour briefly, and he hoped successfully, to answer the three questions of the hon. Member. He was first asked why Middlesex and Surrey were not now included in the clause? In the first instance it was intended to make the clause as compendious as possible; but for that purpose it was obvious it would be necessary to include Kent and Essex, and as many districts of these counties as were involved. He was then asked why he had extended the district from four miles to ten miles round St. Paul's Church. When the limit of four miles was inserted in the Bill, it had been determined that neither London nor the metropolis should be included in the Bill; but from information communicated to him, it appeared that the area for drainage and water could not be limited within four miles, for a large supply of water was obtained from the neighbourhood of Brentford, and another from Ravensbourne, in Kent. It therefore appeared manifest that the area for a supply of water would not be sufficient if it were not extended to ten miles. Then he was asked why London had been excluded at all? In the original proposition which he made when he introduced the Bill, the metropolis was included. When he made that propo- sition, he was told he was aiming at too much, and that it would be very difficult to carry out the measure if he then included the metropolis in the Bill. The feeling seemed very general that he had introduced too much into the Bill; and when he returned to London after the Easter recess, he found, from the state of public business which inevitably must come before Parliament, that there would be very little prospect of carrying any Bill into effect for the sanitary improvement of the country if he did not strike London out. A deputation from those persons who had originally taken up the subject—and in alluding to them he did not wish to hide or screen himself from any responsibility for what had taken place—but a deputation from the Committee which had devoted so much zeal and attention to the promotion of the sanitary state of the country, had called upon him, and had told him that he was running the chance of doing nothing during the present Session by undertaking too much at the commencement. He had therefore been induced not to include the metropolis within the Bill. This was the simple reason for adopting the course which he had pursued, while he had at the same time as strong a conviction as was entertained by any man who heard him that the metropolis required sanitary regulations as much as other places. He also entertained as strong an intention as he had ever experienced, to introduce a sanitary Act for the metropolis early next Session. He had therefore not persisted in the Bill as it was originally introduced, in the hope that by striking out the metropolis he might be able to do something this Session for sanitary improvements, and thus secure the object by legislative means of introducing the system into the country.


could not help expressing his disappointment at what had fallen from the noble Lord. He believed the Bill was necessary, and he should not oppose it if London were included within its operation. If one place more than another required a law like this, it was London. The noble Lord therefore, instead of beginning in the way which he proposed, should have brought in a Bill for London alone, which step would probably have been successful, and was certainly more likely to please the country. He could assure the noble Lord that he would have found no difficulty with regard to London, if he had excluded all the other towns. His hon. Friend (Alderman Humphery), representing one corporation, and the hon. Gen- tleman (Mr. Hudson), representing another, and as he thought the smaller corporation of the two, had differed on this point. [Much Laughter.] In London there were already a large number of persons employed in sewerage, and therefore it would have been comparatively easy to carry out a general plan there. In the town which he represented, there were five separate boards to look after matters of this kind. There should be some law of consolidation, and some general principle should be adopted which should be brought into one Bill. There could be no greater difficulty in applying the principle to the whole of England, including the district round St. Paul's, than by confining it to a limited extent. If the noble Lord would state the difficulties in his way, he (Mr. Roebuck) would attentively listen to them; but he could not conceive what they were. There was as much difficulty in properly legislating for ten persons as for a thousand. He hoped the noble Lord would not be daunted by either London or York, however ably they might be represented. The hon. Member (Mr. Hudson) was fond of referring to practical effects, and as to his mode of dealing with the material effects of the world; but he did not think that the hon. Member was likely to be very successful in his legislation on a subject of this kind, however great his success might be between rival railways. He did not think that the hon. Member would be considered a sufficient authority for their legislating as to the cleanliness of mankind. He was sure if the noble Lord even now included London within the operation of his Bill, he would meet with very partial opposition in the House of Commons.


felt that the reason why the noble Lord considered London as an oasis to be excepted from the operation of this Bill, was the consideration of who were the present representatives. The noble Lord said that he had been requested not to include London within the Bill; but he had not stated by whom. According to the reports of the Commissioners on Sanitary Inquiry, there were many parts of the metropolis from which fever was never absent; and according to the annual reports of deaths of the Registrar General, from 20,000 to 30,000 persons died annually on that account.


wished merely to make a remark upon the state of the question upon which the Committee wore about to divide. Hon. Gentlemen opposite had treated the matter as if it were proposed altogether to exclude the metropolis from any sanitary measure. The fact was this: the Government proposed to pass a Bill this year with respect to certain parts of the country, and, that Bill having been passed into an Act, to introduce a measure next Session with respect to the metropolis. Hon. Members opposite proposed in the first place that the metropolis should he brought into this Bill? But how brought into this Bill? By merely leaving the Bill as it was, without inserting other clauses? If so, the Bill would be found inoperative and inefficient for the purpose. But then it was proposed that other clauses should be introduced to meet the case. That could not be done without raising up new opposition and new obstruction. New opposition must of course give rise to delay, and by delay this measure would be defeated, and with it sanitary reform for the metropolis. No doubt hon. Gentlemen opposite, who had expressed such extreme zeal and anxiety for sanitary reform, would exceedingly lament such a result; but it was the clear consequence that must follow from their own conduct. They would no doubt extremely regret this; and he therefore hoped they would be defeated, by which means the city of London would be all the sooner included in a measure of sanitary reform.


believed that the opposition that had been got up was to be found in the city of London alone. The noble Lord had said that delay would be caused by introducing London into the measure; but when the Bill was brought in last-March all the necessary machinery had been prepared; the arrangements, with respect to the inclusion of the metropolis, had been made, the calculations had been formed, and the Government had been prepared to legislate on the subject. Something since then must have arisen in the City. Medically, he would strongly advise the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hudson) to moderate his excitement; for if he did not, the coroner of London would, perhaps, have to perform the duties of his office upon the Lord Mayor of York.


complained that neither the noble Lord nor any metropolitan Member had pointed out in what respect the corporation of London differed from any other in the kingdom. Fever and mortality were as rife there as anywhere. He wished, moreover, to know what right the Government had to exempt the manufac- turers of London from those stringent regulations to which it was proposed to subject manufacturers in the provinces. Such a proceeding would not be fair nor just.


thought that a measure which had excited so much opposition ought not to be pressed through on the eve of a dissolution; in a new Parliament he should be happy to give his support to a well-digested measure of sanitary reform.

The Committee divided on the question that the Clause stand part of the Bill:—Ayes 112; Noes 70: Majority 42.

List of the AYES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Hobhouse, rt. hn. Sir J.
Aglionby, H. A. Howard, hon. C. W. G.
Aldam, W. Howard, hon. E. G. G.
Anson, hon. Col. Howard, P. H.
Arundel and Surrey, Earl of Humphery, Ald.
Hutt, W.
Baine, W. Inglis, Sir R. H.
Bannerman, A. James, W.
Baring, rt. hon. W. B. Jervis, Sir J.
Barnard, E. G. Johnstone, Sir J.
Bellew, R. M. Kemble, H.
Berkeley, hon. C. Labouchere, rt. hon. H.
Berkeley, hon. Capt. Langston, J. H.
Berkeley, hon. H. F. Lascelles, hon. W. S.
Bernal R. Layard, Major
Brisco, M. Lemon, Sir C.
Brotherton, J. Macaulay, rt. hn. T. B.
Brown, W. Mackinnon, W. A.
Browne, hon. W. Marjoribanks, S.
Buller, C. Marshall, W.
Buller, E. Maule, rt. hon. F.
Burke, T. J. Milnes, R. M.
Busfeild, W. Mitchell, T. A.
Byng, rt. hon. G. S. Monahan, J. H.
Cavendish, hon. C. C. Morpeth, Visct.
Cavendish, hon. G. H. Morris, D.
Chapman, B. Morrison, Gen.
Christie, W. D. O'Connell, M. J.
Clay, Sir W. O'Ferrall, R. M.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Ogle, S. C. H.
Courtenay, Lord Ord, W.
Craig, W. G. Parker, J.
Dalrymple, Capt. Pechell, Capt.
D'Eyncourt, rt. hn. C. T. Plumridge, Capt.
Duncan, G. Polhill, F.
Dundas, Adm. Price, Sir R.
Dundas, Sir D. Protheroe, E. D.
Ebrington, Visct. Reid, Col.
Escott, B. Rich, H.
Ewart, W. Romilly, J.
Forster, M. Russell, Lord J.
Gibson, rt. hon. T. M. Russell, Lord E.
Godson, R. Rutherfurd, A.
Gore, hon. R. Sandon, Visct.
Gower, hon. F. L. Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Shelburne, Earl of
Hall, Sir B. Sheridan, R. B.
Hamilton, Lord C. Somers, J. P.
Hatton, Capt. V. Somerville, Sir W. M.
Hawes, B. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Hindley, C. Staunton, Sir G. T.
Strutt, rt. hon. E. Walker, R.
Talbot, C. R. M. Wall, C. B.
Tancred, H. W. Ward, H. G.
Thornely, T. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Troubridge, Sir E. T. TELLERS.
Vivian, J. H. Tufnell, H.
Vivian, hon. Capt. Hill, Lord M.
List of the NOES.
Acland, T. D. Lindsay, Col.
Arkwright, G. M'Carthy, A.
Beckett, W. Manners, Lord J.
Bennet, P. Martin, J.
Beresford, Major Maxwell, hon. J. P.
Blake, M. J. Miles, P. W. S.
Bodkin, W. H. Newdegate, C. N.
Borthwick, P. Newport, Visct.
Broadley, H. Norreys, Sir D. J.
Buck, L. W. O'Brien, A. S.
Clive, hon. R.H. O'Brien, C.
Collett, J. Palmer, R.
Colville, C. R. Palmer, G.
Deedes, W. Patten, J. W.
Denison, E. B. Perfect, R.
Dennistoun, J. Repton, G. W. J.
Dickinson, F. H. Rolleston, C.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Round, C. G.
Duckworth, Sir J. T. B. Russell, J. D. W.
Duncombe, T. Sibthorp, Col.
East, Sir J. B. Sotheron, T. H. S.
Egerton, Sir P, Spooner, R.
Entwisle, W. Stuart, J.
Floyer, J. Tollemache, hon. F. J.
Fuller, A. E. Tollemache, J.
Goring, C. Tomline, G.
Granby, Marq. of Trotter, J.
Grogan, E. Tyrell, Sir J. T.
Henley, J. W. Vivian, J. E.
Hervey, Lord A. Waddington, H. S.
Hildyard, T. B. T. Wakley, T.
Horsman, E. Williams, W.
Hotham, Lord Wynn, rt. hn. C. W. W.
Hudson, G.
Hussey, T. TELLERS.
Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H. Dugdale, W. S.
Lawson, A. Yorke, R.

Clause agreed to.

House resumed.

Committee to sit again on Monday.