§ VISCOUNT MORPETH
said:* Sir, I feel that the matter which I have to bring before the House is important and copious enough—not to mention that some part of the evening has been appropriated to other business—to make me wish to avoid all unnecessary prelude or preface. The subject of public health has now for some time very generally occupied public attention, though most of our memories must extend to the time when it occupied comparatively very little. But, indeed, it is full time that it should engage the attention both of Governments and Parliaments, and of the great body of the people, who, after all, must be the real parties who can alone cause any effectual measures upon the subject to be brought before Parliament, and who can alone adequately carry into effect any measure so proposed. I will, in the first place, mention the principal stages of the various inquiries and commissions that have been instituted with relation to this subject. In May, 1838, a report was made to the Poor Law Commissioners by Dr. Arnott and Dr. Kay upon the prevalence of certain physical causes of disease, which might be removed by sanatory regulations; and in the same year another report was made by Dr. Southwood Smith, respecting the sanatory condition of the Bethnal-green and Whitechapel districts, as ascertained by personal inspection. In April, 1839, another report was made also by Dr. Southwood Smith, upon the prevalence of fever in several of the metropolitan unions. In August, 1839, the House of Lords carried an Address to the Queen for a Commission to make inquiries into the health of towns. In March, 1840, a Committee of the House of Commons on the health of towns was moved for, and which subsequently reported to the House. In 1841, Lord John Russell wrote a letter to the Poor Law Commissioners, desiring and calling upon them to institute inquiries into the causes of disease; and in January, 1842, Lord Normanby required these inquiries to be extended. In January, 1842, the Poor Law Commissioners transmitted to Sir James Graham the report of Mr. Chadwick upon the sanatory condition of* From a Report published by Ridgway.618 the labouring population of Great Britain. In 1843, a Commission was issued by Sir R. Peel's Government to inquire in the same subject. In 1844, they made their first report; and in July, 1845, a Bill was brought in by the Earl of Lincoln to provide for the sewerage and drainage of towns, which was ordered by this House to be printed. From this brief summary it will be seen that all parties have contributed alike to the progress of this measure, and that if any measure shall be ultimately carried, the responsibility and credit will be monopolized by no one party, but will be shared by several successive Governments and by different persons. I shall now endeavour to place before the House the main facts and results which have been developed in the progress of those inquiries, whether official, parliamentary, or statistical. I shall endeavour to place before the House now only the leading facts and results, because, though I could present a great mass of special instances and local details, yet I feel I had better reserve them for a future period. In acquitting myself of this part of my pretension, I feel it quite unnecessary to disclaim to it any novelty of employing original matter. The main strength and force of the case which I have to bring before the House lies in the evils being obvious and obtrusive, widely felt, and loudly complained of. Several persons of very great accomplishment, and, what is more to the purpose, of most ardent benevolence, both in and out of this House, have taken great pains, in a way which does them infinite credit, to inform and excite the public mind on this subject; and now, mainly by the accident of my position, I feel myself at the last hour, as I trust it may prove to be, entering upon the fruit of their labours, and gleaning from their stores. Yet I dare not pass over altogether the evidence which they have collected, or proceed at once to the superstructure which we propose to raise, without further reference to the foundation upon which it must rest. The necessity of the case is too pressing, the difficulties to be encountered are too numerous, the weight and number of opposing interests are too formidable, to admit of my dispensing with any assistance I may derive from putting the exigencies of the case as briefly as I can, but still fairly, freely, and honestly before the House and the public. By a statement drawn up by Dr. Guy, Physician to King's College Hospital, from the reports of the Registrar General, 619 it appeared that the relative mortality in the town and country districts was as follows:—
He also supplies further particulars as to the rate of mortality generally:—
Country Districts. Town Districts. Population to the square mile 199 5,100 Annual deaths in 1,000,000 19,300 27,073 Annual excesses in Town Districts 7,773 Rate of mortality 1 in 52 1 in 37
Thus, the inhabitants of London, compared with England at large, lose eight years of their lives; of Liverpool nineteen. The population of the large towns in England being 4,000,000, the annual loss is between 31,000 and 32,000. But all towns are not necessarily equally unhealthy, as appears by the following statement:—Liverpool, deaths per 1,000, 35; Manchester, 32; Bath, Coventry, Derby, Dudley, Shrewsbury, and Sunderland, 26; Carlisle and Norwich, 25; Halifax and Kidderminster, 21 in 1,000. Now, it may be thought that low wages, and the consequent comparatively small command over the necessaries of life, may occasion the greater rate of mortality in certain districts; but I find the following statement made by a Colleague of my own, Lord Ebrington, a most zealous labourer in the cause of the public health, in a lecture which he delivered at Plymouth:—
England 1 in 15 Ise of Wight 1 in 58 Isle of Anglesea 1 in 62 London 1 in 39 Leeds and Birmingham 1 in 37 Sheffield 1 in 33 Bristol 1 in 32 Manchester Union 1 in 30 Liverpool (Parish) 1 in 29The mortality of the south-western district, which includes Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Dorset, and Wilts, is only 1 in 52, not 2 per cent; while that of the north-western, including Cheshire and Lancashire, is 1 in 37. Now, let it not be said that this is owing to extreme poverty and want of the necessaries of life; the condition of the labourers of the west, the badness of their dwellings, the lowness of their wages, the consequent scantiness of their food and clothing, have been the subject of public animadversion. With the exception of the Cornish miners, the condition of the labourers throughout the western counties is described as nearly the same; yet in Wiltshire, the county of lowest wages, the deaths are 1 in 49; in Lancashire, 1 in 36. The average age at death in 1841 was, in Wiltshire, 35 years, in Lancashire, 22; at Liverpool, 17; that of the labourers in Wiltshire, 35; operatives in Liverpool, 15. At Manchester, in 1836, the average consumption per head of the population was 105 lb. of butcher's 620 meat—about 2lb. a week—exclusive of bacon, pork, fish, and poultry (what a different average would our county produce); the average age at death was 20. The proportion of paupers in the 15 principal agricultural counties, is 1 in 8; in the 12 principal manufacturing counties, 1 in 13; in Lancashire, 1 in 11; and of the deaths in 3,500,000 of town, and about an equal number of a country population, were, respectively, in 1838 and 1839 together—country, 1 in 54.91, of whom above 70, 20 per cent; town, 1 in 38.16, of whom above 70, 9 per cent; all England, 1 in 46.60, of whom above 70, 14 per cent.The following was Dr. Guy's statement of diseases which occasion the excessive mortality in large towns:—Deaths in 1,000,000 from small pox, country, 500; town, 100: from measles, country, 350; town, 900: scarlet fever, country, 500; town, 1,000: typhus, country, 1,000; town, 1,250: epidemic and contagious disorders together, country, 3,400; town, 6,000: waste of life in towns under this head, 2,600 a year. Diseases of infants—teething, convulsions, water in the head, country, 1,300; town, 3,500: waste of infant life under this head, 2,200 a year. Scrofulous diseases and consumptions, country, 3,800; town, 4,600. Total excess of deaths, 5,500 in the 1,000,000. So that there is a waste of 22,000 lives in the 4,000,000 inhabiting large towns.Dr. Guy also said—The total number of deaths in England and Wales during the year 1841 was 343,847, or somewhat less than 1,000 a day. Now, this is at the rate of 1 death in 46 inhabitants. But if instead of 1 death in 46 inhabitants, there had been 1 death in 50 inhabitants, or 2 per cent, no less than 25,407 lives would have been saved. Now, all men who have paid any attention to this subject agree in the opinion that, by proper sanatory measures, it is possible to insure such a state of health among the community at large, that the mortality shall not exceed that proportion. If the sanatory state of the entire country could be raised to the condition of the most healthy counties, so that instead of 1 death in 46 inhabitants, there should be only 1 death in 54, we should have an annual saving of no less than 49,349 lives, or about one-seventh of the whole number of deaths. At first sight it may appear extravagant to represent such an improvement of our sanatory condition as possible; but when it is recollected that, on the one hand, even our most agricultural counties have not yet attained to their best sanatory state, and that our large towns have been hitherto almost entirely neglected, and admit of immense improvement, the attainment for the whole country of a sanatory condition represented by 1 death in 54 inhabitants, is, at least, within the bounds of possibility.Dr. Southwood Smith said—In some localities there not a single house in which fever had not prevailed, and in some cases not a single room in a single house in which there had not been fever. The districts in which fever prevails are as familiar to the physicians of the Fever Hospital as their own names. In every district in which fever returns frequently and prevails extensively, there is uniformly bad sewerage, a bad supply of water, a bad supply of scavengers, 621 and a consequent accumulation of filth; and I have observed this to be so uniformly and generally the case, that I have been accustomed to express the fact in this way:—If you trace down the fever districts on a map, and then compare that map with the map of the commissioners of sewers, you will find that wherever the commissioners of sewers have not been, there fever is prevalent; and, on the contrary, wherever they have been, there fever is comparatively absent. Some idea may be formed of the evils which our negligence in the matter of sewerage and drainage inflicts, when I tell you that the animal deaths from typhus fever amounts to 16,000, and the attacks of this loathsome disease to between 150,000 and 200,000.Further still, Dr. Lyon Playfair calculates that for unnecessary death there are 28 cases of unnecessary sickness; consequently, in our large towns, above 700,000 cases of unnecessary sickness. The same calculations in the metropolis would save 10,000 deaths, and 250,000 cases of unnecessary sickness. Then it may be asked whether all parts of our towns are equally subjected to these causes of sickness and death? So far from that being the case, I find from one of the reports of the Registrar General, that the metropolis is divided into three groups of ten districts each, under the title of the healthiest, the medium, and the most unhealthy districts. The result is as follows:—10 healthiest, with an allowance of 202 square yards to each person, have a mortality of 1 in 49; 10 medium, with an allowance of 102 square yards to each person, have a mortality of 1 in 41; 10 unhealthiest, with an allowance of 32 square yards to each person, have a mortality of 1 in 36. Liverpool—gentry, 35; working classes, 15. The Rev. Mr. Clay, of Preston, makes, by classes of streets: — Well-conditioned, mortality among children under 1 year, 15 in 100; moderately, 21 in 100; ill, 38 in 100; worst, 44 in 100, or three times as much as the first. I will only refer back to the very last half-year's report, where it appears, from tables prepared by Mr. Chadwick, that in St. George's, Hanover-square, the average age at which the gentry die is 45; labourers, 27: St. Giles's and St. George's Bloomsbury—gentry, 40; working classes, 17. Now, the documents of most authority on these subjects are the quarterly returns of the health and mortality made up from 115 districts of England by the Registrar General; the quarter ending June 30, 1846. From this report it appears that—"43,582 deaths were registered in the spring quarter ending June 30—a number greater by 2,853 than were registered in the corresponding 622 quarter of 1845; and 4,731 more than in the June quarter of 1844. If the mortality had not been higher in the towns than in the poor country districts where the air is pure, the deaths in the quarter would not have exceeded 33,000. Within the last three months 10,000 lives have been destroyed in a part only of England by causes which there is every reason to believe might be removed.The report goes on to say that—"the inadequate supplies of water by companies, the imperfect sewerage in towns, the open drains and ditches, and the general neglect of cleanliness, leave everywhere great quantities of organic matter to decay and putrefy in the midst of crowded populations. In such circumstances the mortality, like putrefaction, is always increased when the temperature is high, and epidemics of diarrhœa, dysentery, and cholera prevail. Many thousands of the people of England were carried off in the last quarter by these diseases, and others of the zymotic class. In the metropolis the deaths at the close of June from diarrhœa, dysentery, and common cholera, rose to 40 weekly. Nor is that to be wondered at. Notwithstanding the improvements effected when cholera was last epidemic, the fold untrapped sewers, and the ground areas of the best streets emit noisome smells, volatile poisons, which are as fatal as arsenic to a certain number of persons, London is surrounded too by stagnant, putrid ditches, as some cities are by walls. It would be well not to wait carelessly until cholera roaches the country, but to 'look before,' remove these nuisances, and purify the reeking atmosphere, which gives the disease breath, life, and being. These remarks apply with tenfold force to Liverpool, Sheffield, and the towns of the north, where the epidemics in the last quarter were more fatal than they had ever been before, and diseases were in proportion to the population at least one-third part more numerous than in London.The Report of the Registrar General for the quarter ending September 30, 1846, states that—"51,235 deaths were registered in the summer quarter ending September 30—a greater number by 15,227 than the deaths (36,008) in the corresponding quarter of last year. There were 23,523 children under five years of age, in Surrey; and the deaths of children of that age were 7,364. In the seven years, 13,362 children in Manchester alone fell a sacrifice to known causes, which it is believed may be removed to a great extent; and the victims in Liverpool were not less numerous. Other parts, and particularly the towns of England, are similarly afflicted. While the deaths in London were little more than 14 per cent above the return of 1845, the deaths rose from 25,166 to 38,826; or about 52 per cent after a correction for increase of population, in the towns and other districts of the kingdom included in the return. In some of the densely-peopled towns the mortality was doubled. The deaths in the corresponding summer quarter of the past and present year were in
Towns. 1845. 1846. Maidstone 124 239 Brighton 219 372 Portsea Island 239 433 Winchester 89 141 Oxford 89 104
Towns. 1845. 1846. Northampton 182 221 Bedford 182 254 Ipswich 119 240 Norwich 306 451 Plymouth 191 279 Clifton 323 436 Worcester 106 173 Dudley 457 744 Walsall 158 288 Wolverhampton 439 687 Wolstanston and Burslem 164 315 Coventry 188 300 Nottingham 285 469 Lincoln 124 246No such mortality has been witnessed in Birmingham for many years. The deaths in 1845 were 694; in 1846 they amounted to 1,627. The high mortality of towns has been traced to crowded lodgings, dirty dwellings, personal uncleanliness, the concentration of unhealthy emanations from narrow streets, without fresh air, water, or sewers. The rapidity of decomposition, and the facility with which all kinds of animal matter become tainted, and run into putrefaction, enable us to understand how, in a summer like the past, in which the temperature was unusually high, the diseases referrible to impure atmosphere should be so prevalent and fatal.Now, I am sorry to say, that the return of the very last quarter, which ended in December, would give a still more melancholy and appalling picture of increased mortality; and I only refrain from quoting it because it might be said that the diminished supply of food, the decrease in wages, and the consequent great spread of disease, might account for the increase of mortality as well as the unhealthy state of the towns. I have felt myself thus constrained by the necessity of my position to trouble the House thus far with these proofs and portraiture of the existing evils; and I now proceed to mention the main provisions of the measure which we propose to introduce with the hope of remedying what we can, and of mitigating what we cannot remove. In such a state of things as I think I have proved to exist, I will take it at once as admitted, and will not therefore be so idle as to argue that the State has right to interfere. I know this, there are many, for whom I have a high respect, though I have not the good fortune on this point to agree with them, who think that the State has no right to interfere in matters of education—in what concerns the domain of the mind; but in matters that are physical and material, matters which concern the health and life of large masses of our population who are pent up and crowded in towns and cities, in the case of evils which cannot be remedied otherwise than by some superintending, intervening, central 624 authority—it would, I think, be a waste of words to attempt to prove that authority not only has a right, but that it is its duty to interfere. Then I have to ask, through what agency shall it exercise that degree of interference, of controlling and superintending power, which it may be thought right to assign to it? Now the Bill which popularly goes by the name of Lord Lincoln's Bill, which was introduced by him, and on which I am but too happy to found the greater part of the propositions which I have the honour to submit to the House, made use for that agency of the Secretary of State for the Home Department, occasionally calling in the assistance of the Privy Council. The Committee of the Metropolitan Health of Towns Association published a very full and able report upon the provisions of that Bill, and they occupied a considerable portion of it with a remonstrance against that use being made of the Secretary of State for the Home Department, on the ground of his being already more than sufficiently employed with the very onerous and multiform duties belonging to his own department. They represent—and it cannot be denied they represent with truth—that besides the general direction of the internal affairs of England, Scotland, and Ireland, he had also the ultimate superintendence of the police, of prison discipline, and of the poor law of the United Kingdom. Now, each of these items, I think, proves its own case; and we have felt that whoever the person might be who filled that high department, whether he be as apt for the discharge of business as the right hon. Gentleman who last held it, or as my right hon. Friend who holds it now, it would not be wise to add to the accumulation of the proper business of his office by a new and busy class of labour. We felt also that this objection would apply in its degree to any other department which has a large amount of business of its own. Some have suggested the Committee of the Privy Council. Now, the Committee of the Privy Council does not happen at this moment to stand in the very highest esteem with all classes of my fellow-countrymen; but we have thought that for duties which must be constantly in operation, such a body was hardly well adapted for the uniform performance of them; more especially if that body should not be composed of Members of the Government itself. We also felt that it might be said that such a body would be open to the objection of not 625 entertaining that anxiety as to the credit which attaches to business being well done, which would belong to a body specially connected with it, and directly responsible for it, and felt that the duties we have in hand, and might hereafter connect with them, were important enough, and copious enough, in connexion with other matters, to justify the appointment of a special department for the purpose of securing their efficient administration; and we therefore propose that a board, somewhat similar to that which was established last Session for railways, be appointed; the board so appointed to consist of five members, three of whom are to be paid, and one a Member of the Government, who is to act as a member of the board without pay; and it is also proposed that the person filling the office which I now hold, namely, the First Commissioner of Woods and Forests, shall be ex-officio the chairman of this board. It is proposed to call the body so constituted "The Board of Health and Public Works," who on the petition, or without it, of the inhabitants of a town or district, wherever it may be deemed necessary to direct an inquiry to be made into the sanatory condition of any such town or district, shall be empowered to recommend to the Crown the appointment of inspectors, who shall proceed to such town or district, make all necessary inquiries and sufficient surveys, ascertain the levels, streams, and watercourses, and define the proper area in which any works may be carried on. The board is then—after receiving the report of the inspectors, if a proper case for interference shall be made out—to recommend that an Order in Council shall be issued, conferring the necessary powers on a local administration for the purpose of carrying all the sanatory arrangements which may be required into effect. What ought those powers to be, and who are to form the bodies that we propose to entrust with their administration? Our thoughts naturally revert first to the duties of the old commissions of sewers, the regulation of which originated in the drainage, of Romney Marsh, the first Act establishing those powers having been passed in the reign of Henry VIII., and the matter having been afterwards made the subject of other Acts of the Legislature. But as these Acts on the subject of sewers did not sufficiently provide for housedraining in connexion with main sewers, and a proper supply of water, a matter of much importance; and as almost the cardinal point 626 upon which almost all the inquiries, reports, and recommendations have turned, is that the various functions of sewerage, drainage, the paving and cleansing of streets, should be put under the same control; we have thought it the most expedient, if not the absolutely necessary, course, to place these powers of sewerage, drainage, paving, cleansing and supplying water under the same jurisdiction and control. We do not intend to introduce all the details as do not intend to introduce all the details as to drainage, sewerage, paving, cleansing, and the supply of water bodily into the Bill, as many of them are already included in the Bill (in furtherance of the recommendation of a Committee of the House of Commons in the last Session of Parliament) brought in during this Session; but we purpose to combine all these different powers in a local administrative body. What is that body to be? The Earl of Lincoln's Bill provided a new electoral body, and contained a vast number of clauses regulating the boundaries of districts, and dividing them into wards, regulating the manner of voting, and, in fact, establishing a completely new electoral system. We thought, in preparing this Bill, that we had already enough of elections, and that with elections of town-councillors and poor-law guardians, it was hardly desirable to graft an entirely new electoral system upon these, for the creation of a body analogous especially to the town-councillors in many respects—a body which would be composed of much the same sort of men as those who would be elected as town-councillors, elected by much the same sort of men, who would have their attention directed to similar purposes, and on account of all these items of similarity, only the more likely to be jealous, counteracting, mutually-repellant bodies. Others advised that there should be a direct nomination from the Crown of those who were to constitute the local bodies; but we felt that such a mode of nomination would only cause the jealousies to be more direct and embittered between the popularly elected bodies and those directly nominated by the Crown. Besides all this, there was reason to apprehend that very few towns or districts would be able to furnish two sets of persons alike competent and willing for the discharge on one side of municipal, on the other of sanatory duties. Those who look at the way in which things are carried on in any place, will acknowledge in how few of those who possess the power, are centered adequate ac- 627 tivity, ability, and practical benevolence. I lay it down as a basis for the success of the system proposed, that the various powers and functions to be brought to bear with a view of carrying out this measure, ought to be consolidated; and they could not, it was supposed, be more effectually and advantageously consolidated than in a body expressly chosen by their fellow-citizens at large, for the general good government of the towns in which they resided. It is true that when the Corporation Act first passed, you did not transfer to the town-councils the various powers and functions exercised by trustees and commissioners under the local Acts of Parliament. It was then apprehended that those newly-established bodies would be engrossed in party conflicts and discussions, and that the novel power which had been given might be perverted to political purposes; and I admit that the first elections under the Corporation Act may have perhaps unduly partaken of one particular cast; but it was scarcely to be wondered at that such political excitement should have attended the first free movement of new bodies who felt themselves in the possession of new powers, and who had for a long time before been suffering under a sense of exclusion. The reaction which attends all human affairs has, perhaps, given subsequent elections an opposite bias; but at all events the intensity of political feeling connected with municipal elections has greatly subsided. I will not say that it is entirely effaced, nor that the selection of town-councils for the purpose of carrying out these sanatory views is wholly free from the objection; but I think that the more of really useful and important duties you can attach to municipal functions, the further you will go in solving party denunciations, and to tempt really useful and valuable men into the service of their fellow-citizens. We therefore recommend that in all towns and cities where bodies are already in existence for municipal purposes, those bodies should be selected for carrying out the sanatory objects of this measure. The only difficulty we anticipate in this mode of carrying out the measure, is where hits of suburbs or portions of districts in the neighbourhood of the towns or cities, which are not included in the municipal wards, shall be so circumstanced, as to make it necessary to include them within the natural area for the drainage of the district. Where such shall be the case, we propose to give a power to add such 628 portions to the municipal districts or wards, or even to create new wards if the number of the inhabitants to be included shall make it necessary. This we have thought better than creating a new electoral body; and in order to show the feeling which is entertained by the Manchester Health of Towns Association, it will be only necessary for me to read to the House an extract from the report of that body, with reference to the subject of Lord Lincoln's Bill:—Their objection to this creation of a new body to whom these powers are to be transferred are twofold: first, they anticipate many evils as likely to arise from an arrangement involving new elections, the appointment of new sets of officers, and the existence of perhaps conflicting authority in the same locality; and next, they fear that these clauses will give rise to an opposition to the Bill generally, by which the advantages to the community of its purely sanatory provisions will be endangered; and even if that opposition should be ineffective, they think it probable that obstacles and impediments to the introduction of sanatory reforms will arise, that would not have to be encountered were the wishes and interests of those connected with the existing municipal government more closely attended to. The Committee see no adequate ground for running these risks, and encountering these obstacles; it appears to them that where town-councils exist, the powers proposed to be entrusted to the new commissioners might be safely entrusted, under similar cheeks and securities given by Government superintendence to town-councils; that the powers of surveyors of highways and of turnpike trusts might be equally well transferred; that the surrounding district constituting the area of natural drainage might, if sanctioned by Her Majesty in Council, be added to the existing municipal boroughs; and that, in short, the whole local machinery of the Bill would be as easily provided, without interfering with the existing institutions, and without encountering the opposition which the Bill in its present form will inevitably meet with.Now, even beyond the suburbs to which I have alluded, there may be outlying portions of country which it may become necessary to secure, in order to obtain a sufficient outfall for the drainage of a district, I do not propose the extension of all the powers of the Bill to those districts; but whenever it becomes necessary to ensure an outfall for the drainage, we propose to give the powers conferred by a commission of sewers for that purpose. In towns where the Corporation Act is in force, we propose, as I have already stated, to use the town-councils for the purpose of carrying out this measure; but there are several large towns which have not any corporate bodies under that Act, and which may require improved drainage and sewerage, such as Brighton, Cheltenham, and 629 others similarly situated. It was at first suggested to adopt the principle on which the commissioners of sewers were appointed, and to give to the Crown the direct nomination of the individuals to carry out the sanatory provisions in such towns, leaving a power to the towns to apply, if they thought proper, for a charter of incorporation. I thought it advisable that such towns should not be deprived of all popular control, if possible, with respect to the appointment of the commissioners, before they obtained a charter of incorporation; and I therefore propose that in such towns a certain number of the commissioners shall be selected by the rate-papers, the Board of Health and Public Works having the power of recommending to the Crown the appointment of a number of commissioners in each town, not exceeding one-third of the number elected by the ratepayers. This Bill, it will be seen, does not include in any of its provisions Ireland or Scotland, not that I do not fully coincide with the report of the Metropolitan Health of Towns Association, that there are in these portions of our country evils still more crying — remedies still more wanted even than in our own; but because I know from experience that it is to the last degree perplexing to attempt to include in the same parchment, measures relating to the three countries at once, except on very plain means. I hope, however, that my right hon. Friends connected with Ireland and Scotland, within whose province the preparation of measures on the subject would fall, will give their best attention to the working of the Bill, with a view to adopting it to the exigencies of those countries in the way they shall deem most expedient and efficacious. The report of the Health of Towns Association, extracts from which I have already read to the House, censured the omission of the metropolis, "that London, in which we are now assembled, from Lord Lincoln's Bill;" and as we did not see why the provisions which are extended to other cities and towns should not be also applied to London, we propose to apply the Bill to this metropolis. There are in London several commissions of sewers, some of which exercise their powers, which are very large, in somewhat an irresponsible manner; some of them are complained of for insufficient and extravagant management of their funds, whilst others are spoken of in terms of commendation. It is not my intention to enter upon any topic of incrimination; and I mention the 630 subject in order to state that by an Order in Council, to be issued under this Act, all the commissioners of sewers may be superseded; when the ratepayers would be allowed to elect commissioners for sanatory purposes, and the Crown would have power to add a number not exceeding one-third of the number of commissioners so elected. A larger commission may be thought necessary for London, and the Crown would also have a larger field for the choice of men marked out by their experience, their knowledge, their disinterestedness, and their practical philanthropy, to discharge efficiently the duties which would devolve upon them. I have now stated what administration and extent we propose for the exercise of these new functions, in relation to the public health. They will comprise sewerage, drainage, cleansing, and paving. It will be found essential to the successful working of this scheme, or of any scheme for the same purpose, which may be brought forward, that as soon as the new Act is brought into operation, and the new Commissioners enter on their functions, there should be no conflicting jurisdiction, and we therefore propose that the Crown shall have power by an Order in Council to supersede the local bodies of trustees and commissioners of sewers, of paving, and of cleansing, which at present are entrusted with those powers in various districts. There is no point which has been more strongly and clearly put forward in all the inquiries, and recommendations and reports which have followed inquiries, than the importance of getting rid of conflicting jurisdictions. It is repeatedly insisted upon that they cause nothing but confusion, and must clog and nullify the whole proceedings. I may quote on this head the recommendations from the Second Report:—For these reasons we recommend that the management of the drainage of the entire area as defined for each district, be placed under the jurisdiction of one body.That the whole of the paving, and the construction of the surface of all streets, courts, and alleys be placed under the management of the same authority as the drainage, and that the limits of jurisdiction for both purposes, wherever practicable, be co-extensive.That the provisions in local Acts, vesting the right to all dust, ashes, and street-refuse in the local administrative body be made general; and that the cleansing of all privies and cess-pools, at proper times, and on due notice, be exclusively entrusted to it.With the view of ensuring a sufficient supply and proper distribution of water to all classes, we recommend that it be rendered imperative on the 631 local administrative body charged with the management of the sewerage and drainage, to procure a supply of water in sufficient quantities, not only for the domestic wants of the inhabitants, but also for cleansing the streets, and scouring the sewers and drains.For this purpose we recommend, that the said body have power to contract with companies, and other parties, and make other necessary arrangements.I may add this from the report of the Committee on Lord Lincoln's Bill:—The next important provisions of this Bill appear to your Committee to be the following: That the supply of water, the sewerage, the drainage, the cleansing and the paving of towns, should all be under one and the same authority. That the whole of a town, including the suburbs, and the whole of the drainage area, should also be under one and the same authority.Also this extract of a private letter I received from York:—Last year the question with respect to the excessive height and imperfect drainage of the Foss Navigation, the remedy of which is the principal sanatory desideratum in York, was suffered to be seriously taken up by the local authorities; but between the two stools of the municipality and the city commissioners it fell to the ground.There are provisions in the Bill for directing the mode of liquidating debts already incurred, and of dealing with contracts already made, and for giving such remuneration as may be deemed right for the existing holders of offices. I am well aware that this provision will destroy at one swoop the local Acts, and the host of local trustees, under which and whom so many of our towns and cities are now governed. But I think we had but one course before us. We had to settle in our minds what were the best local bodies to which we could entrust the powers under this Bill, and having settled that in what we hold to be the best manner, not to heed who or what was in our way, but steadily to confront all opposition and remonstrance, and to insist upon unity of action. We might, it is true, hear of municipal bodies who have performed such duties very ill, and local trusts who have performed them very well—we may hear of commissioners of sewers who have given dissatisfaction, and of commissioners of paving who have given satisfaction; but I hope that having appointed the town-councillors as the responsible bodies, the very responsibility with which they are to be invested will elicit proper attention and energy for the work to be done. Over and above all this, however, we shall perhaps derive most trustworthy security from some of the accompanying provisions of the Bill, which I may 632 quote from the commendations bestowed upon them in the same report to which I have already been so much indebted:—The interests of the community should be protected by the supervision of a competent, impartial, and responsible public officer named an inspector. That before new works are undertaken, full and comprehensive surveys should be made by competent engineers. The plans of complete works should be prepared by responsible public officers, locally examined by them with the estimates. That expeditory reports should be drawn up for local publication, in order that the advantages of new works may be thoroughly canvassed by all parties interested in them. That the whole of the works should be maintained as well as executed by contract. That the performance of the contract should be supervised by a competent, paid and responsible local officer; and that the true causes of disease and death should be ascertained, and the spread of diseases, more especially epidemic diseases, should be checked, by the appointment in districts of a skilled and responsible medical officer, called an officer of health.An inspector will be appointed, as I have already intimated, to make the preliminary inquiries, and when that has been done, it will be his duty to visit towns and districts, to see what is going on, to examine or to preface plans and surveys, and to make reports to the central board. Besides this person, who will be an engineer, I suppose, it is proposed to appoint a medical inspector also. At first sight, it seemed to us that it would be desirable to have a medical inspector, like those who have been appointed by the Sanatory Act for Liverpool and other places; but, upon consideration, we thought it better that the medical inspector should not be a person specially connected with the towns in which his duties are to be performed. In addition to tills, the town-councils will appoint a local surveyor, who will be approved of by the central board, qualified as a civil engineer, and who will have to superintend drainage and other contract works authorized by the Act. The Bill will also contain a power to appoint an inspector of nuisances, who will see to the removal of substances that may be prejudicial to the public health. Provisions will also be incorporated in the Bill for preventing the nuisance of smoke. The Bill will also incorporate provisions for the proper ventilation of buildings; and the commissioners will be empowered to light the towns, and to enter into contracts with gas companies, if they think proper, for that purpose. I have reserved myself something to say about water. I think it unnecessary to say, that an adequate supply of water is indispensable for any real system of drainage. With- 633 out water to carry away the refuse lying in the drains, their very existence aggravates the evil they are intended to remove. The use of tubular sewers and an adequate supply of water to carry off their contents, is indispensable. Now, I believe it will be acknowledged that in many districts, even in this metropolis, the supply of water now looked upon as essential to a good system of drainage, is too scanty and too expensive. I find it stated by Mr. Toynbee, another most efficient labourer for public health, that—"the water is generally laid on in the yard, and a supply given three times a week, and at each time the water comes on, the film of dust and blacks that has been deposited on the surface is mixed up with the previous accumulations. The same water is used for making bread, by a baker, who supplies a great number of the poor.Dr Aldis said, that—"the water retained in the rooms of the poor for domestic purposes soon becomes covered with black scum, and there is generally a filthy accumulation on the service of the water-butts. The fatigue of fetching a proper supply, which ought to be forty-five gallons a day for a cottage, is most wearing.Mr. Hawkesley stated, that—"it is perfectly well known to those acquainted with the feelings and habits of labourers, that they regard it as an intolerable nuisance on their return home, tired with the day's labour, to have to fetch water from a distance out of doors, in cold or in wet, in frost or in snow.It seems that we are not much advanced from the days of Andromache,To bringThe weight of waters from Hyperia's spring.With a view, therefore, to the due supply of water to every house, the commissioners are empowered to make contracts with water companies, and, when they shall deem it necessary, to purchase their works upon securing to them a full payment of their past demands. Provision is also made, that in case of any permanent works by which an unusual amount of expense might be incurred, there shall be a power given to borrow money, and to levy principal and interest by moderate yearly instalments, not from the owner but from the occupier, who during the time of his tenure is principally benefited; and in this manner we hope we shall remove what we consider to be the chief obstacle to improvements in towns, which is the opposition of owners to what they consider the serious expense attending them. It is this question of rates which has hitherto been the direct, and for some time to come must be, I fear, the indirect, obstacle to the in- 634 habitants taking up sanatory measures with vigour and good heart themselves. There is something in the very sound of "rates," which weighs fearfully in the balance against health, industry, content, and all the virtues. Some additional outlay must be submitted to at the first start, if we wish to do anything effectual for public health; it is a necessary tribute which property must pay, perhaps in the first instance, mainly for the actual life and safety of the poor, and of those who live by the sweat of their brow; but, ultimately, I am persuaded, not at all the less for their own comfort and enjoyment. But I am further in hopes that it has been established on tolerable good grounds, that the improvement of the public health, besides its other inestimable advantages, is by no means to be slighted on the ground of economy itself. I do not wish to build too accurately on any series of calculations, but I cannot refrain from quoting the main heads of a few which, at all events, have been compiled by accurate and trustworthy persons. Dr. Lyon Playfair states—"the loss from unnecessary death and sickness for England and Wales at 11,000,030l., and the United Kingdom at 23,000,000l.These are the items of expense which Dr. Playfair reckoned are incurred under the present system, or rather want of system—direct attendance on the sick; loss of what they would have earned; premature death of productive contributors to the national wealth; and expense of premature funerals. Dr. Playfair estimates the loss for Manchester at nearly 1,000,000l.; Mr. Hawkesley calculates the loss for Nottingham at 300,000l.; Mr. Clay estimates the loss for Preston at 990,000l.; Mr. Coulthart takes the loss for Ashton-under-Lyne at 235,000l.; and Dr. Playfair considers the loss of this metropolis to be above 2,500,000l.; and estimates the total loss to England and Wales at little short of 11,000,000l. Dr. Guy, referring to the health of towns, says—I shall say nothing of the liquid manure, which, as I have been given to understand, is suffered to drain away into the ditches, thence into the rivers, and from them into the sea, from fully one-half of all the farmsteads of England; I will speak merely of the unappropriated refuse of large towns. In Flanders, where manure is carefully collected, instead of being, as here, suffered to run to waste, the excreta of an adult is valued at 1l. 19s. Considering the enormous additions made to this manure in our towns, it will not be thought unreasonable to estimate the value of that part of the refuse which now runs to waste at two pounds per head of the population; and supposing that in 635 England or in Wales, the towns which are guilty of this extravagance, contain in all only 5,000,000 inhabitants, we shall have an unusual waste of at least ten millions of money.Mr. Smith, of Deanston, also expresses his opinion that—"taking a general view of the subject, we may assume a clear revenue of the sewer water of all towns of 1l. for each inhabitant.Dr. Arnott says, that—"the value of town manure might be estimated by the fact that a portion of the drainage of Edinburgh has increased the value of these lands by more than 5,000l. a year, and that, if the whole drainage of London could be saved, at a sufficient distance from the town, the value would exceed 500,000l. a year.Dr. Arnott observes, that Milan has benefited to a great extent by the adoption of such a measure as he suggested; and he then goes on to say that—"it has been calculated that, whereas the cesspools cannot be emptied by nightmen for less than 19s. a year, and whereas water carriers get ½d. for a pailful of water at the door, an addition of 2d. to the rent per week will suffice for the expense of water closets, and of an unlimited supply of water for every house; and that the entire sanatory purposes contemplated under all the recommendations of the Health of Towns Committee, may be procured for 3½d. a week per house.These calculations may be looked upon as sanguine; but those persons who are best acquainted with the subject know that much is to be done with regard to economy, by adopting efficient sanatory regulations. Mr. Holland, of Manchester, stated that in twenty streets in Chorlton-on-Medlock, the mortality fell from 110 to 89 per annum, after, and no doubt principally in consequence of, the streets being properly paved and drained. Mr. Gardiner and Mr. Noble confirmed the result by showing that in certain streets in St. George's district, Manchester, the deaths in 1838, 1839, amounted to 495; but that in 1841, 1842, after the streets were paved and sewered, the deaths were only 432, being a diminution of 63, or about one-eighth. In a district in Ancoats, a diminution of 40 deaths out of 270, or about one-seventh, followed a similar improvement. But a still more striking illustration of the same fact may be found nearer home. It is contained in Mr. Liddell's evidence before the Health Commission:—Windmill-court, in Rosemary-lane, was one of the most unhealthy in my district. It was un-paved and filthy, and with stagnant water before the houses. I used to visit it sometimes two or three times a day for fever cases. About twelve months ago it was flagged; it was well supplied with water from a large east-iron tank, which enables the inhabitants to have a constant supply in- 636 stead of an intermittent one, on three days a week. The court is regularly washed down twice a week, and the drains are so laid that all the water may pass through the privy and may carry off the soil, which was formerly a most foul nuisance, and a constant expense to the landlord. In the seven months ending March 1843, I attended forty-one new cases of sickness in that court; in the last four or five months I have had but two cases. The rent is better paid, and the landlord is considered to have made a good thing of the improvements, which were executed at his own expense.I dare not trouble the House with any further extracts. I feel that in a matter so large and so complicated, many imperfections may be discovered, and that many oversights have occurred in the Bill which we propose to bring in. I can only say that it has been framed with an honest intention, and with a single view to the public good, and most unfeignedly thankful shall I be if the measure, after undergoing consideration by Parliament, and receiving ultimately the sanction of the Throne, shall in its results effect in some degree what we aim at—to diminish in some degree those noxious influences which now painfully afflict so large a proportion of our towns and cities—to hunt down to their source, if we can, the prevailing causes of disease—to let in more of pure air and more of pure water—to wage war wherever we can against filth and stench, and their attendant consequences, bodily weakness and depression, fever, and the death-dealing pestilence, and thus to lengthen the lives and add to the happiness of all classes of our countrymen. The noble Lord concluded by moving for leave to bring in the Bill.
§ MR. MACKINNON
, in seconding the Motion, observed, that he considered both the noble Lord by whom this Bill had been introduced, and the noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Government, were entitled to very great praise for the exertions they had made to bring the measure before the House. His noble Friend the Member for Falkirk (Lord Lincoln), it would be remembered, had in a former Session brought in a Bill on this subject; but that measure was by no means so comprehensive as the Bill which had just been proposed by the noble Lord at the head of the Woods and Forests. He might observe that the noble Lord was scarcely aware of the difficulties he was likely to encounter in carrying out this measure, from the opposition of corporate bodies and other parties, especially in this metropolis; but he sincerely wished the noble Lord success in his endeavours. 637 He believed that this Bill would prove as beneficial to England, as he considered the measure introduced by the hon. Secretary for Ireland, with reference to the poor laws, would be to that country. He would venture to call the attention of the noble Lord to the fact, that before the Committee which sat on this subject, and of which he was chairman, it was stated that there were five particular circumstances which were conducive to the health of towns—pure air; good drainage; the total absence of all vegetable or animal putrid matter; distance from the vicinity of stagnant water or morasses; and an abundant supply of pure water. In order to show the great advantages arising from attention to cleanliness and ventilation, he might mention that when Anson circumnavigated the globe seventy years ago, he lost, in his ship, the Centurion—owing to the want of proper food, ventilation, and accommodation—270 men out of a crew of 560 men; but it was computed that, if a ship of the same size and of the same complement were now to undertake the same voyage, she would not lose more than five per cent of her crew from sickness. He regretted that no legislation had been adopted with reference to this important subject at an earlier period; and why, he would ask, had the question been allowed to rest? Because it did not affect either the upper or the middle classes of society; for the results of those clauses which were prejudicial to public health were chiefly experienced by the poor. He was satisfied that the whole population of the country would feel much indebted to the noble Lord for the measure he had introduced. He must remind the noble Lord, however, that he had not included in this Bill all the nuisances by which the health of towns was affected. He wished to know whether the noble Lord meant to include within the proposed Bill any prohibition against interments in large towns and populous places; or whether a specific Bill would be brought in for that purpose?
§ VISCOUNT MORPETH
said, that the Bill would not contain any provisions for the prohibition of interments in large towns, as the Bill was considered by the Government large enough as it stood. The subject of intramural interments was, however, under consideration, and he hoped that a Bill in respect to it would be brought in.
COLONEL T. WOOD
said, there were a great many local Acts of Parliament which 638 would be affected by the present Bill; and he thought that it was most unconstitutional to commit to the Privy Council the power of repealing all those enactments. He conceived that the more constitutional course would be for Commissioners under the Privy Council to mark out the districts, and then for the noble Lord to come to Parliament with a Bill for repealing the different Acts which related to the districts so arranged. It was also essential that the representatives of those districts should have the power of at least objecting to any line of demarcation which might be made by the Privy Council.
The EARL of LINCOLN
said, that although his previous acquaintance with this subject might enable him to discuss the measure of the noble Lord to a considerable extent at the present moment, yet he felt that he should be acting more wisely if he refrained from entering at any length into the question until the Bill was before the House. The hon. Member for Leamington (Mr. Mackinnon) thanked the noble Lord for introducing the Bill, and in those thanks he entirely coincided; but he went on to state, that the measure was of a far more comprehensive nature than that which he (the Earl of Lincoln) brought in, though he must say, that, so far as the information received from the noble Lord that evening went, his hon. Friend's congratulation must be confined to the comprehensive nature of the machinery of the measure, because the noble Lord had himself frankly and fairly admitted, that most of the provisions of his Bill were taken from that which he had the honour of introducing to the House. To the extent that the noble Lord went, he believed that all the provisions, with the exception of those relating to the ventilation of large buildings and the prohibition of the smoke nuisance—two subjects which he apprehended would be found rather more difficult than was contemplated—were taken from his Bill; and to those portions of the measure he would not refer or make any comments on the speech of the noble Lord. On this occasion, therefore, he would address himself simply to three points in which the noble Lord's Bill differed from that which he himself introduced. The noble Lord, before entering upon the details of his Bill, stated, that he felt it to be absolutely necessary that there should be, what he called, an intervening, superintending, central authority. Now, to a certain extent, he highly 639 approved of this provision of the Bill; and he begged to assure the noble Lord and the Government that he by no means participated in that very general and sweeping condemnation of what had been miscalled "centralisation," a word which had become very obnoxious to many parties in the country. But, at the same time, he did think that the noble Lord, in the proposal he had made to-night, was running the risk of extending that principle of centralisation too far; and he was afraid that the result—the ultimate, if not immediate result—of the establishment of such a body as he proposed to constitute, would be a far too minute interference with local affairs, and far too great an intermeddling with matters which ought to be left to the jurisdiction of parties who were resident on the spot, and whose interests were affected by the measure under consideration. Now, by his (the Earl of Lincoln's) Bill, it was proposed that this central authority should be conferred upon the Secretary of State for the Home Department; but that authority was to extend no further than this—that the Act should be brought into operation in each locality upon a representation made to the Home Secretary—that, beyond this, he should have the power, in the first instance, of sending down an inspector, who was perfectly free from local bias, to investigate the case and report thereon; and a further power was given the Secretary of State to see that the intentions of the Legislature were carried into effect. In this latter respect the power of the Secretary of State under the former Bill was nearly analogous to that which he possessed in the case of county prisons. To that extent he thought it was desirable to go, but no further. But the noble Lord proposed entirely to alter the body in whom this central authority was to be vested; and he stated, as a reason, the vast amount of work which was already borne by the Secretary of State. He was perfectly satisfied, however, that any duties which the Secretary of State might have to perform under the former Bill, would not be so onerous as those from which he would be relieved by the proposed amendment of the new poor law. The noble Lord intended constituting a new Board of Health, the president of which was to be the Chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests; but if any serious amount of business devolved on the Commission, such as could justify its appointment at all, he thought it would be almost impossible for the Chief Commissioner to perform his 640 duties with efficiency. There were also to be three paid Commissioners; and he confessed that he did look with great jealousy upon their appointment, bearing in mind what had been the tendency of their legislation within the last six months. He would simply state on this occasion, that he had very great objection, upon principle, to the construction of new boards, though he was quite aware that in some instances boards might be desirable, and perhaps even indispensable; and he would take the liberty of suggesting, inasmuch as there was a single sentence in the noble Lord's speech which appeared to be rather ominous, that before they came to the second reading of the Bill, the noble Lord should be prepared to explain to the House any future plans of the Government which might be involved in this measure. He thought the noble Lord had let them, to a certain degree, behind the curtain, by giving to the board the title of "Commission of Health and Public Works." Now, if there were any intention of devolving the superintendence of public works on this board, the Government were bound, before the second reading of the Bill was sanctioned by the House, to state what was the nature of the proposal they had in view. If a machinery were now constructed which was more complicated and extensive than was absolutely necessary for the purposes for which they were legislating, the House had a clear right, in the first instance, to know what other functions were to devolve upon the board. The next great alteration which the noble Lord proposed in the Bill he introduced two years ago, had reference to the construction of the local bodies. He was quite ready to admit that he had always felt there were objections, and valid objections, to the bodies which he himself proposed; but it was a question of difficulties, and he was obliged to adopt that which he believed to be the lesser. Undoubtedly he proposed to introduce a new body—a new electoral body—though he agreed with the noble Lord, that we had quite enough already of elections, and that it was not desirable to increase the turmoil which was attendant upon those elections; but did the noble Lord altogether avoid this evil by his proposed scheme? The noble Lord would find that the suburbs of the great manufacturing towns to which the Bill would be applicable, were of so extensive a character, that, as in the case of Nottingham, for instance, the municipal jurisdiction did not extend over more than 641 one-third of what might be fairly called the town. He admitted that drainage, cleansing, paving, and the supply of water, were by right the proper functions of municipal corporations; but, unfortunately, these bodies had become so entirely political—or, rather, so strongly political—either on one side or the other, that, whether rightly or wrongly, justly or unjustly, that portion of the inhabitants of towns who did not possess the majority in the corporation did look with very great distrust and apprehension on any powers of taxation for purposes of this description. He wished, with all his heart, that the corporations of England would confine themselves to matters of local interest, attend to sanatory matters, and abandon local politics. [Mr. CHAPLIN: As at Salisbury.] He was glad to hear that that was the case. But whilst the noble Lord was getting rid of one difficulty, he was afraid that be would be incurring others of no less magnitude. But, as he had said, one strong reason against devolving these duties on corporations, was the extent of the suburbs, and the limited jurisdiction of those bodies in large towns. Now, they must either confine the sewerage to the municipal bounds, or embrace the suburbs according to the natural area for drainage; and how were they to do the latter? Would they add the suburbs to the municipality for this purpose only, and without representation, and give the corporation the power of taxing the whole for the expenses incurred under the Bill? By adopting such a plan as that, the corporation of Nottingham, elected by one-third of the inhabitants of the town, would be able to tax the other two-thirds, who were altogether unrepresented in that body. And that he could not conceive to be a just principle. But the noble Lord proposed to get over the difficulty by annexing the suburbs to the municipality, and, where necessary, even to constitute new wards. Thus, at once, they came to the difficulty which the noble Lord was so anxious to avoid—namely, new elections for those wards. So that, in reality, they would not get rid of what he (the Earl of Lincoln) had always felt to be a great objection to his own plan, whilst they avoided all the advantages contained in that plan. The noble Lord would find it extremely difficult to legislate upon this subject in a general measure applicable to the smaller towns, so far as populous towns like Manchester and Liverpool were concerned. In such cases, he thought, it was 642 desirable that separate and distinct measures should be introduced. He must admire the courage, but deprecate the rashness, of the noble Lord in venturing to include London in the Bill; and, having carefully considered the subject, and looked at the complicated difficulties which surrounded it, he would venture to foretel his most signal failure in this part of his plans. The noble Lord could no more embrace the City, with Southwark, Westminster, and other districts of the metropolis, in his general measure, than he could Berlin, Paris, or any other continental city, so totally inapplicable to so vast a town, and so complicated a state of rights and interests, was any scheme which was suited to the provincial towns. As to the noble Lord's proposition respecting unincorporated towns, he could not see why to the members of the body elected by the inhabitants, the Crown should add some others; for instance, in the case of Brighton and Cheltenham, he could not see why the Crown should add members to commissioners elected by the inhabitants, any more than in Manchester or Derby. From the observations which he had thought it fitting to address to the House on the subject, he hoped the noble Lord would not anticipate any want of anxiety on his part to render him every assistance towards making the Bill as efficacious as possible for the objects which it contemplated. Having taken a great interest in the matter, he was ready, whether he sat on that (the Opposition) side of the House or the other, to give all his assistance towards making the measure effective; no feeling of jealousy should interfere to prevent his acting in co-operation with the noble Lord; and no one would rejoice more than he, if, in the noble Lord's hands, a good and salutary measure for the country generally should be adopted.
§ MR. AGLIONBY
could not help congratulating the noble Lord on the great moral courage which he had exhibited in having undertaken this great measure of social reform. He hoped that with the valuable assistance of the noble Lord opposite (the Earl of Lincoln), the noble Lord would succeed in carrying this measure through the House. He thought the attention of the noble Lord had been directed too exclusively to the condition of the large towns. There were small towns and small cities in which the health of the inhabitants was more damaged by the want of such regulations as those which were proposed. [Lord MORPETH: There is no limitation 643 proposed by this Bill.] He was aware of that; but the machinery for carrying out the objects of the Bill was more complete with respect to the large towns. He agreed with the noble Lord (the Earl of Lincoln) that there was no necessity for appointing nominees of the Crown in unincorporated towns. The difficulty of dealing with the suburbs did not appear to him to be so insuperable as the noble Lord (the Earl of Lincoln) seemed to think. If elective bodies did not now exist in such districts, why not constitute them? And having made; them bear their proportion of the expenses of sanatory regulations, they ought to be allowed a voice in the election of officers appointed for such an object. Perhaps a corporation was, after all, the best body which could be devised for superintending the various departments of draining, lighting', &c.; and he did not see why the noble Lord should not afford every facility for the incorporation of towns. He was told that a town could not obtain corporate rights unless at a charge of 500l.; and he thought that such an expense should be no longer imposed on towns whose inhabitants were desirous that they should become incorporated. It would be a great advantage if there was one general Bill for the improvement and management of towns, instead of the numerous separate Acts which were already before Parliament. He thought it would be a great advantage if private Bills were abolished, as they led to great jealousy and irritation amongst the inhabitants of towns when first proposed, and were adjudicated upon by a most objectionable tribunal, for such a purpose—the Committees of that House. In his opinion, a properly constituted local government having been appointed, all questions of improvement of towns might be safely left to the inhabitants. He was opposed to the appointment of a Commission for the purposes of this Bill, and thought the powers which it proposed to invest in a new body might be safely entrusted to the present departments of Government.
§ MR. GREENE
There were now not less than twenty Bills before Parliament for the improvement of towns. He thought all such Bills should be suspended until this measure and the Clauses Consolidation Bill were disposed of. He objected to the existence of so many separate bodies in towns, as commissioners for paving, lighting, and draining, and thought that general powers should be vested in a corpora- 644 tion for all such purposes. He had done his best to retard the progress of the local Bills to which he had referred; but he thought the Government should interfere to prevent any further steps being taken with respect to them, until the two important and general measures which he had mentioned were disposed of.
§ SIR W. CLAY
willingly added his testimony to the approval already expressed by many hon. Members of the noble Lord's measure. He was sure it was a Bill calculated to confer great advantages on the public; but he must express the same doubts as those of the noble Lord (the Earl of Lincoln) as to the propriety of including the metropolis in its provisions. He thought the noble Lord (Viscount Morpeth) was hardly prepared for the task which he had undertaken in this respect. He trusted the noble Lord would be prepared to afford to all the various interests affected by this measure a fair opportunity for stating their objections to it. He feared that the proposed dissolution of various boards would, on many occasions, give great dissatisfaction. The noble Lord had stated, in a single sentence, that he was about to adopt one mode of supplying water for this great metropolis. The consequence of this would be to destroy the present apparatus for the use of water in every house in London. He mentioned this to show that due time should be allowed for the proper consideration of the very important provisions of this Bill.
§ MR. HUME
The most important point in reference to this Bill was, that no self-interested associations should be allowed to stand in the way of the general improvements demanded by the public at large. It might be true that those who were able to pay were now sufficiently well supplied with water and gas; but the object of the Government was to bring such advantages within the reach of those who were not, under the present system, able to pay for them. The Government, then, should be prepared to put down all self-interested parties, and consult alone the interests of the many. Let it not be forgotten that the operative classes passed a large portion of their time in a vitiated atmosphere, and that they had no accommodations afforded for the preservation of their health. This Bill was calculated to remove the defects of the present system, and thus to better the condition of the most valuable class in the community. He trusted that after the support 645 promised by the noble Lord (the Earl of Lincoln), who had collected most important information on the subject of this Bill, that it would not meet with any serious opposition. Of this he was quite sure, that the noble Lord who brought forward this measure would not prove himself a friend to the working classes if he was not prepared to grapple with the difficulties which beset the course of legislation on which he had entered; and, looking to the general interests of the many, make up his mind to disregard the representations of small interested bodies. The noble Lord might depend on it that the country would not be slow in conveying its acknowledgment of the efforts which he made for the public good. He hoped there would be one uniform system established all over the country, and he had no fear but that the noble Lord would persevere, and not allow the ordinary obstacles which he must expect in such a course to thwart or discourage him.
§ MR. BROTHERTON
offered his tribute of thanks to the noble Lord for bringing forward such an important measure, which evinced the possession of decided moral courage on his part. There were, no doubt, many difficulties in his path; but they could all be overcome, and he would have the support of the country in forwarding this measure. The introduction of the corporations, as a means of carrying out the objects he proposed, was a most important improvement, as they would offer the best channels of carrying those objects into effect in all the large towns in the kingdom.
§ MR. PHILIP HOWARD
also supported the measure, and particularly admired that portion of its provisions which committed the carrying out of its details to the different corporations, which he thought would give them some work to do, and thus check the tendency of these bodies to intermeddle with politics. He also thanked the Government for having sent Dr. Reid as their Commissioner down to Carlisle, who, in the course of his visit, had imparted a fund of useful information to the inhabitants.
§ Leave given. Bill brought in and read a first time.