§ COLONEL SIBTHORP observed that he had always entertained a strong objection to that measure, however much he might respect the noble Lord (Viscount Morpeth) who introduced it. It was a Bill containing no less than 153 clauses, yet, in his opinion, it was one which was wholly unnecessary. They kept back the cities of London and Westminster out of the Bill, why he could not tell, except that it might be convenient to the noble Lord, one of the Members for the city of London, now at the head of the Government, who might have been warned against including those localities. He did not see why those places should be excluded from the proposed Bill, while much purer cities in every sense, and he meant particularly the city of Lincoln, which he had the honour to represent, were brought within its influence. Few places were more cleanly than that city, and the great improvements which were daily taking place in it, made it require such a Bill as the present less than most other localities. Why, therefore, should London and Westminster, which wanted improvements, and were wallowing in filth, be excluded from a Bill which professed to make pure and cleanly places which did not want such care? Another objection which he had to the present Bill was, that it created a good deal of patronage, and would be attended with a great increase of public expenditure. He did not oppose the Bill because it was a Whig measure; for, from what he had seen in that House, he could place more confidence in a Whig than he did in a Tory Government, as there was less deceit and hypocrisy in the former than in the latter. He would, therefore, rather have the noble Lord than the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth. He objected to the Bill upon its merits. Many greedy people expected places from it. He did not know whether under the Bill retiring pensions would be allowed; but no doubt they would be, thereby adding to the expenses of the country. He hoped that when the estimates of the civil contingencies were before the House, he would be supported in endeavouring to cut down the retiring pensions. In Clause 5 of the Bill he observed that offices, clerks, &c., were to be provided for the Commissioner by the public treasurer. Now, as modesty on the 711 part of Government was a farce, he thought they might just as well have provided that champagne, turtle, &c., should be supplied to the Commissioners every time they sat. The city which he had the honour to represent required no such Bill as this. The city was clean enough, and he would go so far as to say that there was not a poor man in it. They required no change. He entirely disapproved of the proposed innovation. He disapproved of the new patent water-closets, and much preferred the old system. He could not see why the pure city of Lincoln should be mixed up with the impure cities. London and Westminster required far more scrubbing, rubbing, and washing than ever Lincoln did, and therefore the Bill was partial, and, as such, he should oppose it.
§ MR. URQUHART had given notice of a Motion to the effect that it was the opinion of that House that the existing laws provided protection for, and remedies against, the nuisances which affected the health of man. The first objection which he had to the present Bill was, that it superseded the functions of that House, by enabling other bodies to impose taxes, and supersede laws which had been passed in that House. He contended that we had neglected the powers of the common law, impeded the action of the municipal bodies, and the consequence had been, the spread of those causes of disease which had subsequently called public attention to this subject. Now, when they came to legislate upon that subject, they should take care that they did not create a greater nuisance than that which they endeavoured to correct. There was a most estimable class of persons—the medical practitioners—who had found in this Bill a field for the application of their science, and had become missionaries of the project. They had declared for the Bill, the whole Bill, and nothing but the Bill. But independently of their desire to promote the general good, there were other considerations which were probably calculated to operate on them, and probably to lead them astray. This was a Bill of a very peculiar character; it had health written upon its forehead; but within there were provisions for the appointment of officers, and for the employment, more especially, of the members of the medical profession. Consequently, the active—the youthful—the energetic members of the medical profession, were active promoters of this Bill, in order to secure to themselves the 712 great benefits which were likely to accrue to members of the medical profession from the passing of it. They, therefore, fought for this Bill with a zeal and an energy which they would not have exhibited in support of any mere abstract proposition for the improvement of the public health. But they were not the only class of persons interested in the success of this measure. Those connected with engineering, either theoretically or practically, were equally interested in it. To all persons of this class the Bill held out promises of place and patronage. All these persons were busily engaged in spreading opinions in favour of this measure—in inducing the public to accept it without inquiry and without change. The measure came before the House in a suspicious guise. It should not be considered in its nosological character merely, but also in its political and financial bearings. It was open to a double class of objections. He objected to it, because it created an immense number of new situations and offices which were to be in the gift of the Government. It had long being the pride of this country that Government had little to do in the management of our internal affairs. The results which had happened in other countries had shown what was the inevitable tendency of placing inordinate powers in the hands of the Government. There could be no graver subject for the consideration of a legislator than what must be the necessary result of placing enormous patronage in the hands of the Executive. It was because past Parliaments had given enormous power to the Government, that he, as a Member of a new Parliament, had determined to use every means in his power, not merely to prevent any increase to that power, but to reduce the amount of it which the Government at present enjoyed. The last election had brought out the feeling of the people of this country strongly against the principle of centralisation, as had been proclaimed on various hustings. Several Members had been returned pledged to oppose this principle, and he based his opposition to this Bill upon his determination to destroy, as far as possible, this principle. The noble Lord the Chief Commissioner for Woods and Forests had, when he proposed this Bill, declared that centralisation was either the best or the worst of all things—it was either very good or very bad. The country was of opinion that it was very bad, and as a proof of it he 713 would allude to the placards which were posted about the town on the memorable 10th April, containing extracts from the Economist, in which it was stated that the writer had no hopes of France, because there the principle of centralisation was predominant, but that he had no fear for England, because here we were governed by our municipal institutions. Centralisation dissolved the bonds of society; and the petitioners against this measure were aware of that fact. All the petitioners against this Bill for so-called sanitary reform, expressed themselves opposed to it, because it was a measure of centralisation. The fact was, centralisation was usurpation. It was a usurpation by the Government of the powers of local bodies, and a destruction by the general Executive of local rights. The people of England loved and possessed municipal government, and they would not suffer themselves to be jockeyed out of it. What was the meaning of this usurpation of local rights—what was this centralisation? It was corruption—it was undisguised corruption; and as a proof that it was so, he would adduce as an instance the late Government of France, the fate of which should be a warning to the would-be centralisers in this country. Was it not corruption which had produced the revolution in France? Was it not the corruption which had been brought to light during the recent State trials in that country which had drawn the suspicion of the people on the Government? and here we had those parties to whom he had previously alluded, as being directly interested in the passing of this Bill, using their utmost exertions to palm the Bill upon the country. He resisted this Bill because it was un- English and unconstitutional—corrupt in its tendency—it was an avowal of a determination to destroy local self-government, and, if carried, its effect would be to pass a roller over England, destroying every vestige of local pre-eminenee, and reducing all to one dull and level monotony. It would place in the hands of the Government an immense amount of personal patronage, and add to the burdens of the country an enormous load of new taxation. The measure was principally supported by those who imagined that they had made a great discovery, and who declared that no measure had ever before been proposed so philanthropic, and who declared that medicine had never before been raised to so high a level. He placed no trust in new doctrines—he believed that all good things 714 were old. Cleanliness had formed a principal element of all ancient nations which had existed for any length of time; and as a proof of his proposition, he would allude to the cloacæ of ancient Rome, to the drainage of the Colosseum—those great public works of the Etruscans which were models to us even at the present day. He would allude to the practice of embalming bodies in Egypt, and to the substitution of the burning for the burial of bodies among the Greeks and the Romans, as a proof that the ancients paid the greatest attention to prevent the evils arising from the escape of effluvia from putrifying bodies. He was astonished at the ignorance of the common law of the land exhibited by the promoters of this Bill. They had catalogued a long list of nuisances, and had declared that the law at present provided no remedy for their abatement. Now, so far from such being the case, any one who would take the trouble to refer to Blackstone's Commentaries would find that the common law provided ample means for putting down all the nuisances to which this Bill referred. The Bill was in this respect useless; the common law provided an ample remedy; and if the remedy provided by the common law were not applied, it was solely owing to our own neglect. Any municipal body in England had ample power to put in force the common law for the abatement of nuisances. There were several processes in former times which had fallen into disuse; but now, as regards nuisances, the only remedy was at common law. One method in ancient times for the abatement of nuisances (temp. Henry VI.) was Royal commissions. That remedy was still available, and the Crown had still the power of ordering inquiry into the causes of nuisance with the object of suppressing them. A remedy for the miserable condition of the poorer classes being desirable in the minds of all men, the mode of obtaining it was obvious. But instead of adopting that mode, a Bill was introduced, which, on the showing of the noble Lord opposite, was only the commencement of a series of legislation on the subject, and the powers sought by which the noble Lord himself doubted would be granted by Parliament. The noble Lord constituted himself the organ of the grievances of the people of England in the matter; but there was nothing in the prayer of these petitions which stated the remedy to be the establishment of a central commission of five Members in London. If the noble Lord had abstained from that 715 dangerous course of legislation, which made him appear only the instrument of other ends than those proposed, he might be entitled to the gratitude of his country; but he denied that the measure supported by the noble Lord was called for by justice, by reason, or by expediency. The noble Lord in introducing this subject asked why the operatives of England were to be the most miserable on earth? There was no Health of Towns Bill in France, or Italy, or Spain, or Germany, or America. Why then was such a measure necessary for England? The reason why the condition of the country was at the lowest ebb, and he might say sink of filth, was, that this House had passed laws which affected the labour and the industry of man. He was aware that this opened up a wide field, commercial, financial, and monetary; but he maintained that these were the causes which had degraded England's workmen. Away, then, with this mawkish philanthropy, these absurd and vain pretexts, which pretended to stop the current of a fever by holding the pulse of the patient! If any stranger were to come to this country and to look at the Bill, the judgment he would form of the people of this country would be, that they were a set of the greatest fools that ever lived; and that every person connected with corporation affairs was a knave; and that a wise and paternal Government undertook to appoint a set of men who were under no bias, and could have no personal interest, to protect the fools against the knaves. Such was the only intelligible interpretation which could be given by one who looked only at the Bill from without; and if this Bill passed into a law he was satisfied it would go far to make that true which the stranger would only have surmised. If this Bill was passed, other Bills carrying the principle still farther would be speedily introduced, because it would soon be found that the local bodies were not so obsequious and so subservient to the general board as they ought to be. The despotic powers of the general board would come into collision with those of the local bodies, and then there would be a substitution of paid officers in every department of the State. He believed the people of this country had been taken by surprise by this Bill, and that, dazzled by the eloquence of the noble Lord who introduced it, they were not aware of its real character. Last year there were 30,000 petitioners in favour of the Bill, and only about 200 against it; but now the tide was turning, for there 716 were 20,000 who had petitioned against the Bill, or for modifications of it, while there were only 5,000 in its favour. He held in his hand a petition which he had not been able to present in time, signed by several gentlemen, and even by medical practitioners, who complained that they had shortly before signed a petition in favour of the Bill through ignorance of its real character. This, he believed, was a very general case. But now the sense of the population was quickening upon the subject; deputations were arriving from every town—petitions against the measure were loading their table—and remonstrances from their constituents were addressed to almost every hon. Member. If he were wrong in these representations, it would be easy to prove his error by allowing further time for the feeling of the people to declare itself. [The hon. Member read extracts of letters he had received from Stafford and Worcester, complaining of the expense which this Bill would entail, and proceeded.] They had lately been discussing the propriety of imposing an income-tax, and complaining of the lavish expenditure of Government. Would hon. Members then allow by this Bill, which was not a Money Bill—which was more like a Russian ukase than an English Act of Parliament—would they allow a new tax to be imposed upon the people of England, equal perhaps to the income-tax? He was of opinion they would not; and even if the Government were so ill-advised and so infatuated as to press this measure—if by a manufactured majority they were to succeed in passing it into a law—yet he trusted the time would soon come when such an amount of opposition would be raised to its working as would compel a new course of legislation upon the subject, and lead them back to the old laws of their ancestors. He wished further to call the attention of the House to the means that had been employed to advance this measure. It was with pain he was compelled to allude to the proceedings of a body so respectable in most of its members as the Health of Towns Association; but they had, in their reports, put forth, in support of this Bill, calumnies the most vile, statements the most unfounded, language the most unseemly, and propositions the most absurd. Anonymous slanders on one town after another had been sanctioned by the authority of that body. This showed that, with the philanthropic sentiments which actuated many, there were also sinister motives at work, and that there were concerned in 717 this measure not only the friends of humanity, but also the friends of pelf. In the name, therefore, of the constituencies of England—constituencies whose existence was antecedent to that of Parliament—he called upon them not to pass this law. He called upon them further to postpone all legislation on the subject for a week; and before the expiration of that time he pledged himself to introduce a measure so framed as to embrace all the objects of the Bill without including its objectionable principle of centralisation. The opposers of the Bill objected to it especially upon the ground that its machinery would be difficult of operation and unnecessarily expensive in practice, without realising the end for which it was intended. They, moreover, believed that it would lead to interminable disputes and differences, and expose the Government to a temptation against which its integrity would not be proof. Let not the Government deceive themselves with the idea that the opposition to this Bill was an unimportant one, and that the great body of the community would not share in it. The minority was not an insignificant one, as experience might show; and in deference to their wishes he implored the noble Lord not to press the measure forward before the sense of the country was fully taken upon its provisions. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving that the Bill be committed that day six months.
§ MR. BANKES seconded the Amendment. He could not consent that the House should go into Committee on a Bill which contained in the preamble provisions which he believed to be hostile to the whole nature of the measure—provisions which excepted the whole of the city of London by express enactment, and the whole of the metropolitan districts by implication. He would not impute to the noble Lord the Member for the city of London any undue partiality for his own constituents; but this he would not hesitate to say, that the constituency which that noble Lord represented had no stronger claim on his consideration in respect of such a measure as the present, than the constituency which he (Mr. Bankes) had the honour of representing, or than that which was represented by the hon. Member for Stafford. It was only right that in a matter of this kind all constituencies should stand on the same footing, and that they should all obtain, as they all justly claimed, the same degree of attention. A 718 Sanitary Bill which was good for some places, must of necessity be good for all; and the converse of the proposition was equally true. A Bill which was objectionable to some cities, as for instance to the city of London, must be equally objectionable when applied to the towns of the county which he represented, or to the town which was represented by the hon. Member who had proposed the Amendment. It was idle, therefore, to think of legislating on this question until the Government could find it practicable to introduce some determinate measure just in principle, unexceptionable in detail, and capable of general application. When they were prepared with such a measure, they might reckon on his cordial support; but to a, measure like the present, partial in its operation, and so exceptionable in its details, he would offer an uncompromising opposition. It was a continual source of complaint with the Government that so much time was lost, because of the opposition which was offered to their measures by certain Members in that House; but Ministers had only themselves to blame for bringing forward measures which, although excellent in principle, were not framed in such a shape that Members at that side of the House could agree to them. Surely, if the Bill which they had now introduced were good for Exeter, Nottingham, Manchester, Liverpool, or York, it must be equally good for London; and if so, why, in the name of common sense and common justice, was London excepted from its operation? It was clear that if time was expended in opposing a Bill with so grave an objection, Government had themselves to thank, and themselves alone, for the delay. The Bill, as originally framed, was found to contain so many defects that the very men who had drawn it up were obliged to double the letters of the alphabet in order to obtain designations for the clauses which had to be improved upon. They had been fourteen months preparing the Bill, and the alphabet itself did not contain letters enough for the clauses which had to be introduced as emendations on the Bill as originally proposed. The Government were perfectly well aware that it was idle for them to expect to pass the Bill with such a preamble as at present belonged to it. They were perfectly well aware that if by that kindness for which Members who sat upon his side of the House were distinguished, they would be enabled to get the Bill into Committee, 719 the Bill would, nevertheless be lost, infallibly lost, in the long run. After many and many a weary night had been spent in discussion, and after innumerable reproaches for loss of time had been made by the Government, Ministers would at last have to acknowledge that the measure was not practicable, and that the objection with respect to the city of London had proved fatal and insurmountable. If they included London and the metropolitan districts in the operation of the measure, they would find it impossible to pass the Bill; and until London and the metropolitan districts were included, he, for one, could never consent to the Bill. Tall chimneys were springing up around them on all sides, so that they overtopped even those lofty towers which were being erected on the palace which was destined for the accommodation of the Members of that House. The whole atmosphere was tainted by the discharge from those chimneys, so that the very trees in the neighbourhood were blighted and killed; and yet London, where such sights were seen, was the very place selected for exemption from the operation of this Bill. They permitted the air to be infected which the senators of England breathed, and they were for giving pure air to the inhabitants of all other towns. Any thing more absurd he had never heard of. He objected also to the principle of centralisation which was inculcated so inexorably throughout the Bill. The hon. Member for Stafford was not historically correct when he said that there was no precedent for any such provisions as those contained in the Bill. In the time of Oliver Cromwell everything was referred to Commissions, and Commissioners' Bills were then passed in pretty much the same form as now, and some propositions were made almost in the same words; but the times of Cromwell were not those which he should select for imitation. Boards were already in existence which were conducted under the supervision of men of character and ability, and to those boards the powers ought to be delegated which it was proposed by this Bill to entrust to Commissioners. To the noble Lord at the head of the Woods and Forests he would cheerfully concede any additional assistance that he might find necessary in order to the proper performance of the duties of his office; but he could not consent to the creation of a new batch of Commissioners—men who were not amenable to that House, men of whose character and efficiency the 720 House knew nothing. Let the noble Lord, unimpeached as he was in honour, and possessing as he did abilities which they all acknowledged and admired, appeal to that House for increased facilities, and the noble Lord should have his unhesitating tribute of confidence in the integrity of his intentions, and his efficiency to carry out his views; but let not the House abdicate its own duty and authority to irresponsible agents. If this Bill should be passed in its present shape, two years would not have elapsed before they would be importuned with applications for its repeal, which they would find it impossible to resist. Of the principle of the Bill he entirely approved. He did not wish its withdrawal because he objected to its principle; but he was most decidedly of opinion that the local authorities throughout the country were not deserving of the distrust with which they were in this Bill treated. If that House would consent to trust the local authorities, submitting them, of course, to the high and honourable supervision to which all magisterial and ministerial jurisdictions ought to be subjected, he had not the least doubt but that they would do their duty most effectively. The magistracy was amenable to the supervision of the Home Secretary; and as the system was found to work most satisfactorily, he did not see what objection there could be to confiding the sanitary regulation of the country to local authorities, amenable to the Woods and Forests Department.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL: The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down had it fully in his power, if he thought fit, to have shown to the House that a Bill for the purpose of sanitary improvement ought to include in its provisions the city of London and the whole of the metropolis. The House, I am sure, would be ready to listen to any argument he might address to them on that subject; but the hon. Gentleman has addressed to them no argument whatever. He has contented himself with casting imputations. It may be wise that a measure should be brought forward like that introduced by the noble Lord the Member for Falkirk, when he was at the head of the Woods and Forests, to exempt the metropolis from the operation of the Bill; or it may be better, perhaps, to bring forward a plan like that introduced by my noble Friend last year, including the whole of the metropolis: one plan may be better than another. My noble Friend may think that a Bill including the whole of 721 the metropolis would be the most satisfactory; but he should state his reasons for holding that opinion; however, the hon. Gentleman leaves all the reasons untouched, and, thinking it unnecessary to urge any arguments in support of his views, casts the imputation upon me of being influenced in respect to this measure by a regard to the interests of my constituents. [Mr. BANKES: I did not say any such thing.] The hon. Member began by saying he would make no imputation whatever; and he then said, what right has the noble Lord to see the interests of his constituents attended to, while those who represent the other cities and towns are not equally attended to? [Mr. BANKES: I said the contrary.] Certainly what struck my ears was this: the hon. Gentleman said that the representations of my constituents were listened to, and the representations of the hon. Member in regard to towns in the county of Dorset, and of the hon. Member for Stafford, ought to be equally attended to; but I am glad the hon. Gentleman meant nothing of the kind. [Mr. BANKES: I said nothing of the kind.] If the hon. Gentleman said nothing of the kind, then my ears deceived me. The sentence was never uttered which I certainly thought I had heard, and I must have entirely mistaken what my ears conveyed to me. Having been liable to many attacks with respect to this measure in the course of the last year, to which I have never replied, I think I am now justified in stating what course I have taken, which was not an active one—perhaps, not so active as it ought to be on the subject. I have considered the question generally with my noble Friend, who originally came to the decision that the whole of the metropolis ought to be included. But when the Bill was brought in, an objection was taken to that course, and my noble Friend was induced to reconsider the matter. It was my desire that he should consult with those persons who ought to be consulted on the subject, and that we should be ready to pay attention to the suggestions of all parties, with a view to make the Bill operate as beneficially as possible. The result was, that my noble Friend made an amendment on the Bill, and said he had come to the determination to leave out the metropolis. Why, a few minutes ago I was told there was not any imputation whatever thrown upon me. Yet now, when I say that my noble Friend told me 722 that he had come to the determination to leave out the metropolis, there is an indication of opinion that that determination must have been produced through some influence of mine. It would appear to me as if there was an impression that my noble Friend was influenced by some bad motive or other to have the metropolis left out on account of my constituents. As so much has been said about the opinions of my constituents, I will now state to the House the only conversation I ever had with any constituent of mine—certainly a very important personage amongst them—on this subject. In the course of last autumn we took into consideration—with the assistance of the Lord Chancellor—what should be done respecting the Commission of Sewers. He saw that the authority of the Crown enabled us to have a new Commission of Sewers; but there should be an Act of Parliament including the city of London within its operations. The Lord Mayor desired to see me on the subject, and said he wished to ask whether it were the intention of the Government to include the city of London, by bringing in a Bill to include the city of London in the Commission of Sewers with the rest of the metropolis. I said it certainly was the intention of the Government to introduce a Bill for the purpose. "If," he replied, "the Government have made up their minds to introduce such a Bill, we, of the city of London, will give it the most strenuous and determined opposition." That is the only communication I have had with the city of London on this subject. I said, "It is our intention to persevere in that plan of comprehending the city of London in that Commission;" and that certainly did not show any base subserviency on my part. If the hon. Gentleman thinks the city of London ought to have been included in this Bill, he should have condescended to give his reasons for that opinion, rather than repeat imputations which were made last year—which furnished amusement to some persons for about six weeks in the last Session; and which should not be continued in the course of the present Session.
§ MR. HENLEY was ready, in case he received an assurance from the noble Lord who had charge of the Bill to consent to have some material alterations made in it in Committee, to vote against the Amendment. He was contented to have a central controlling power; but there was no reason why any central commission 723 should have the power of forming the country into districts. The Poor Law Commission was an instance of great want of judgment in this respect. The next point was, that he thought parishes ought to have the power of originating measures of a sanitary character. This principle had worked well in the Enclosure Bill, and it ought to be imported into the present enactment. Another objection was, that the Bill gave to the Privy Council an unlimited power to repeal all local Acts. This, he maintained, was a novel power—and if not a novel, was at least an unconstitutional and a dangerous power—to hand over to the Privy Council. The same object might be done in a perfectly constitutional manner if they adopted the principle which was embodied in the Enclosure Bill. Surely the noble Lord was not aware of the contents of the Bill he proposed. As it stood, if any fifty of the inhabitants of Yorkshire petitioned the Commission, down came the inspector, and upon his report the whole kingdom might be included, under the Bill, in one district; there was nothing in the Bill to prevent it. All that was to be done was this, to give notice it was their intention to make the application, and parties who objected might send in a written communication to that effect. They might, after the Commission had come to a decision, send in a communication to advise them to alter their judgment; but that, he submitted, was not a satisfactory mode of doing business. Parties liked to bring forward their case before the Judges had come to a decision; for it was a different thing to get a man to alter his mind, and to submit a statement to him before his judgment was formed. He (Mr. Henley) objected to the mass of patronage which this Bill would give to the Executive Government. Having laid hold of the lawyers, they were now going to lay hold of the doctors and surveyors; and he (Mr. Henley) must say, that he looked with great jealousy on this constant increase of the patronage of the Government. He begged to say, in conclusion, that if he did not receive the assurance which he had required from the noble Lord opposite, he should support the Amendment.
§ MR. RICE was willing to trust that the Committee would cut down the power of the central authority, and confer additional powers on the local boards. He trusted, also, that every necessary alteration would be made in the measure in the Committee; 724 and if such alterations were not made, he would oppose the third reading of the Bill. He believed they would not be doing their duty to the country if they did not legislate upon this subject, for he recollected that on the hustings at the last election there was not a more popular question. He represented a large constituency who would feel aggrieved by this Bill in its present form; at the period to which he referred, they did not know what the form of the Bill would be; but he sincerely hoped that an effective Sanitary Bill would be passed. He trusted the Bill would be very much amended in Committee, and that he should be able to support the third reading of it.
§ MR. FITZROY was aware of the many glaring defects in the composition of the Bill, and was as anxious as anybody to see the metropolis included in any sanitary measure that was passed; but he believed the most practical and wise course would be this—to vote for going into Committee, and there turn their attention to the amendments that were suggested. He thought a case was made out for introducing some measure of this sort. There were difficulties in the way of any Government introducing such a measure. The local interests brought to bear against them were powerful; and they would be hardly acting a fair and honest part towards the Government, that, at all events, had attempted to grapple with the question, if they did not give them their support, at least to the extent of recognising the principle of the Bill. There were some points on which he had already handed in amendments, namely, with regard to the duration of the Commission and the amendment of the eighth clause; those amendments he would not have an opportunity of discussing except they went into Committee, and he thought the most straightforward course to take was to do so.
§ MR. DIVETT said, that this Bill, like its predecessor of last year, was so imbued in every part with an objectionable assumption of power by the Government, that he felt it would be utterly useless to go into Committee, and he therefore gave his most cordial support to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Urquhart). He fully concurred in the opinions of the hon. Member for Dorsetshire as to the high character, both privately and politically, deservedly borne by the noble Lord the Chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests; but he could not divest himself of the belief that the noble Lord was not 725 the man to carry a measure of this sort. It was perfectly well known that the noble Lord had undertaken the important duty of effecting a reformation in the Commission of Sewers chiefly under the advice of Mr. Chadwick, to whom this Bill also would give an important and powerful place. He confessed that the statements made by the hon. Member for Stafford, with respect to what the Health of Towns Association had done, was not, in his opinion, an exaggeration; and if the statements made by that society with respect to other towns were as utterly untrue as they were with respect to the city of Exeter, and other places with which he was acquainted, a grosser system of imposition was never attempted to be palmed upon a benevolent and credulous public. The hon. Member opposite (Sir H. Verney) had said that the measure was a popular one at the hustings; but as far as he (Mr. Divett) was aware, it was quite the contrary, for there appeared to be a great jealousy of the Bill, and a great indisposition to submit to the constant meddling and dictation which might, under this Bill, be expected from the noble Lord and Mr. Chadwick. The electors did not object, it was true, to sanitary improvement; but they did not choose to be ordered how to set about it by the noble Lord. He should not, however, have objected, nor would the country, to a short Bill constituting a central board for the purpose of making inquiry; upon whose report, in cases where improvement was necessary, and there was an indisposition to make it, a Bill might be brought in to enforce it; but the country would never tolerate such arbitrary powers as those conferred by the present Bill. The hon. Member for Stafford had quoted a speech made by the noble Lord, in which there was an expression to the effect that the local bodies which objected to centralisation were those whose neglect of sanitary regulations required punishment, or who had been guilty of gross jobbing. He could not say that there was not as much jobbing in this Bill as in any local body that he had heard of. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon had formerly been very successful in showing what had been the amount of jobbing in the revenue boards, and had been exceedingly eloquent as to the enormous amount of public money received by Privy Councillors. But he believed that the heads of the various revenue boards of this city (headed as they were by as able men as ever existed), as- 726 sisted by two other individuals, would do the work much better than by the present numerous boards. At the Revenue Board, as at present constituted, there were the brothers and sons of Cabinet Ministers, who had no responsibility at all, and acted as if they tried who could receive the greatest amount of pay for doing the least possible amount of service to the public. He did not wish to pursue the subject further; but he could not help alluding to it, as he feared, from the patronage grasped by the Government in this Bill, that similar jobbing would be carried on. He objected strongly to the attempt made in this Bill to transfer the vast number of private undertakings there were in the country, for the supply of water and gas, to the Commissioners. If Parliament took care, when applications were made for private Bills, to confine the charges to a reasonable amount, these matters were better in the hands of private companies than vested in corporate bodies, and would be managed more economically. If it were practicable in some cases to effect a saving, that saving would be swallowed up in the erection of new and expensive offices, and so forth, in ninety-nine instances out of one hundred. But his greatest objection was, that they converted what was a voluntary tax to a compulsory one, which, under some circumstances, there might be great difficulty in collecting. The noble Lord, in introducing this Bill, had not done it in a business-like or creditable manner. After he had heard all the objections to his Bill of last Session, he had brought in a new Bill some weeks ago; but to-night he had withdrawn that, and introduced a different measure altogether. He (Mr. Divett) had looked over it with very great care, and he had given notice of some amendments in the hope of making it somewhat more practical in Committee; but a further consideration had shown him that its principle of centralisation was so bad and erroneous, that no alteration could make it palatable. He confessed he had been once partial to the system of centralisation, but recent events had shown him its rotten and dangerous character; and he should, therefore, give the Bill every possible opposition.
§ VISCOUNT EBRINGTON expressed his surprise at the speech he had just heard, and particularly that portion in which the hon. Member, in taking the city of Exeter as his example, had dealt out so sweeping a condemnation of the Health of Towns Association. He was personally acquaint- 727 ed with Exeter, and he attended a public meeting at which the mayor of the city was the chairman, in which it was generally stated that the place was badly drained and badly supplied with water; and he had also lately seen an able report by Dr. Shafto, a native of that city, in which the same facts were stated. With respect to the general question, he thought the importance of the measure could not be overrated, for it was idle to expect any effectual improvement in the educational or religious condition of the poor as long as a majority of the labouring classes were in so lamentable a condition as respected sanitary considerations as at present—so long as they were exposed to the noxious malaria they now resided in for want of a Bill such as this.
§ MR. HENRY DRUMMOND was not at any time disposed to throw any opposition he could avoid in the way of measures introduced by Her Majesty's Ministers, and he did certainly think that the lowest classes suffered exceedingly from ill-drained and filthy places of abode; but, at the same time, he could not help thinking that advantage had been taken of this to get up the steam by very interested persons. There must surely be some exaggeration in the statements of the Health of Towns Association, when the noble Lord defended them by saying that it was idle to talk of the moral and religious improvement of the poor, so long as they were exposed to malaria. What had malaria to do with religion? In that highly exaggerated and poetic book the Report of the Health of Towns Commission, he found it asserted that there was a direct connexion between typhus and crime. He thought that this Bill must have emanated from the statistic department of the Board of Trade, for he could not conceive such discoveries could come from any other quarter. Mr. Chadwick had, in that report, made out a coincidence of crime with a low sanitary condition; and that was one of the grounds of this Bill. Could anything be more absurd? There was one fact, however, which should not be forgotten, with reference to these gentlemen who had attacked the competency of the local boards, namely, that they had altogether failed to give proof of their own competency. It was a totally different thing to call other people incompetent, and to show themselves competent. These gentlemen had, however, taken that for granted, though they were never more mistaken in their lives. It was somewhat remarkable that these 728 gentlemen, though so confident in their own ability, seemed to think that the further off home they went, the better they could conduct matters. They took all the towns of England under their protection, except the one they lived in. He disliked exceedingly the principle of centralisation. It was the part that worked the worst of the poor-law system. That principle was the foundation of all the absurdities of the present Bill, and it would be found running through every clause. He had read the Bill very carefully, and all the noble Lord's Amendments; and if those Amendments had appeared to him likely to effect any alteration in this respect, he would have voted for going into Committee. He had made an epitome of the Bill, which he would take the liberty of reading to the House:—Five Commissioners are appointed by the Crown, with secretary, clerks, and servants unlimited; with a seal as a corporation, and an unlimited number of superintending inspectors, the unlimited expenses for all which are to be paid out of the Consolidated Fund, and also the travelling expenses of the said inspectors. They are to write and publish books. There are to be local boards of twenty-seven members each—not confined to towns, but to any extent which they shall call a natural drainage area. Local boards are to have a seal, offices, surveyor, inspector, clerk, treasurer, and as many collectors, officers, and servants as they please, with what salaries, wages, and allowances they please. They are to make underground maps, to be paid for out of rates. The surveyor is to come whenever he pleases into every house, open the drains, make what alteration he pleases, and the owner of the house is to be compelled to pay for it. No business is to be carried on which they call offensive. No court of justice, church, chapel, school, theatre, or place of entertainment is to be built without their leave. All streets are to be vested in this new board, and taken away from the surveyors of highways. The new board may pave, alter, raise, or lower streets as they think fit, and levy rates to pay for the same; they may alter as they please all water and gas pipes; they may purchase houses, provide places of public recreation, erect waterworks, make aqueducts to supply the tops of the highest houses in the district, and compel water companies to supply at their price. They may make special district rates, and also general district rates; 729 they may set aside the law which now fixes local rates, and put the districts to the expense of a new valuation, to be made by one of their own nominees. They may levy money retrospectively and prospectively, before it is due and after it is due—so that it will be impossible to know when it is done with. They may also levy one or more rates in addition, as private improvement rates, and an additional water rate payable in advance before the water is used—and this rate the local board may raise after it has been struck; they may mortgage the rates for any sums of money they please, and charge any sums upon the rates; and, in addition to a rate necessary for the expenses of the board, they are to raise sufficient to form a sinking fund. [Viscount MORPETH: Who is to do all this?] Your Lordship's Bill. They may make any by-laws they please, punish offenders by penalties for offences against them, and alter these bylaws whenever they please. All local paving, lighting, and water Acts arc to be repealed, and compensation given to persons now holding office under them by new rates. Besides being under the orders of the officers created by this Act, everybody is to be still bound by all former laws compelling him to make drains, sewers, &c. General board to bring actions against local boards; all warrants for distress to be equally good, however defective the forms; justices may be both members of the board, and yet decide upon cases of dispute between the boards and other parties (thus deciding their own causes); all claims for redress against officers who have done wrong to be paid not by them, but out of the Consolidated Fund. An Order in Council may annex to any town any portion of the neighbouring country in order to be taxed for draining the town, and an inspector may walk over any lands for the purpose of ascertaining how he can best buy them in to be so taxed without being warned off. He had not considered the subject only for the purpose of finding fault; but he would point out a way in which sanitary improvement might be effected, although it was useless for any private Member of the House of Commons to bring such a plan forward. The Government ought to appoint one single Commissioner only, who should visit towns to decide and order where a sufficient number of main drains are to be cut. The local magistrates should be required to execute this under a penalty, to be levied on the rates of the 730 towns. Each householder should receive orders from the local magistrates to cut a drain from it into the main drain; and if he neglected, then the magistrates to do it, and levy expense on the householder. Any householder should have a right of appeal from the order of local magistrate to the Commissioner. Towns should be visited as nearly as possible in order of the extent of the population. No main drain should be deemed sufficient for the purpose of the Act which has not a stream of water running through it sufficient to prevent an accumulation of soil in it. Local magistrates should inspect houses, and compel the making of proper drains. The hon. Member concluded by denouncing the patronage given to the Government by this Bill, which would have produced from the Ministers the most unceasing condemnation had they been now sitting on the Opposition side of the House, instead of being located on the Treasury benches.
VISCOUNT MORPETH wished to say a few words, in the first instance, in reply to the hon. Member for Oxfordshire, who, while expressing his doubts of some parts of the measure, adverted to its details in so practical and candid a manner that he was in hopes the hon. Member would allow the Bill to go into Committee, in order that they might there discuss together those propositions which the hon. Member had submitted to the House. The hon. Member also asked him if he (Viscount Morpeth) would give way in certain particulars. Now, he was not prepared to say that he was ready to give way upon any of the material provisions of the Bill. At the same time, however, he was ready to enter into a full discussion of all the objections to them, and to consult, as far as possible, the feelings of the House. The hon. Member had first asked him whether he would object to limit the duration of the Commission. In answer to the hon. Member, he begged to say, that as this was a point which did not involve a vital principle of the Bill, it was one which might very fairly be discussed, and settled by the House. The hon. Member particularly objected to the power which was proposed to be given to the superintendents and inspectors, of defining districts. Now it seemed to him, upon a careful consideration of the clauses of the Bill, that there were sufficient precautions taken to insure that all parties should be fairly heard. A properly qualified inspector—an engineer on the spot—was to be ap-
pointed to conduct an examination of the measures required. After hearing all parties, and affording every facility for stating objections, he was to set forth in an expository report the benefits which it was proposed to obtain by the new works, including an estimate of the economy of money, as well as of life, and proximate estimates of the expense of the additions to, or of the combinations of the old works or of the new works required. Then there were to be local publications of their report, so as to give parties locally interested full opportunity of being acquainted with what was proposed to be done, and to invite suggestions or objections. The proposed regulation for a local publication would, at all events, enable the townspeople at large to know something more of what was proposed to be done than heretofore. It was also proposed that there should be a full and general hearing and fair consideration of whatever suggestions or objections might be urged for alterations or otherwise in respect to any particular place before the law was put in force there. These, he hoped, would be found to be highly important securities for the proper adaptation of local works. The hon. Member also objected to the mode in which they proposed to deal with local Acts, which he represented as something quite unheard of. He was ready to act upon the hon. Member's own admission, that if they were to have a substantial measure of sanitary reform at all, it would be necessary to deal in some way with local Acts; and, in his opinion, no provision seemed to be more necessary than that the various conflicting jurisdictions should be now vested in one local management. It was not proposed to give the Privy Council the power of arbitrarily settling what local Acts should be repealed. As soon as a district was placed under the operation of this Bill, all local Acts would necessarily be repealed by virtue of this Act. There was an analogous power given in the Municipal Corporation Act, in the case of the local watching boards, whose jurisdictions were transferred to the new corporations. The hon. Member was aware that, by the first draught of the Bill, several appointments were given to the general board. These had all been restored to the local boards, with the exception of the cases of the surveyors and the medical officers, in which strong reasons existed for at least placing the power of approving of those parties in the hands
of the general board. It was, he thought, necessary, when they were investing corporations with the new functions and powers conveyed by this Bill, to secure that the surveyors and engineers should be competent and practical persons; and for this purpose it was highly desirable that at least the approval of these officers should be vested in the general board. And so with respect to the officers of health. He did not want to foist these officers upon any district not willing to take them; but as the duties they had to perform might sometimes prove objectionable to the parties for whom they laboured, it was expedient that they should be able independently to discharge their duty without fear or respect of persons. The hon. Member for West Surrey (Mr. Drummond), who at least always propounded what he had to submit to the House in the most lively and amusing manner, had given them what he called a précis of the provisions of the Bill. Now, he must say that the hon. Member's précis was anything but precise, because he went through an enumeration of almost all the powers and functions of the local boards, and attributed them all to the general board; and, not content with that, the hon. Member had quoted his statements from the original draught of the Bill, instead of from the copy which had been subsequently submitted to the House in an amended form. Sundry sarcasms had been levelled at him in the course of the debate for having introduced so many new clauses. Now, he did not conceal from himself the difficulties of his task. He was perfectly aware of the excessive complication of the interests he had to deal with, and he, therefore, thought it right to give as attentive a consideration as he could to all the suggestions that had been placed before him both by the deputations who had waited upon him, and in the communications he had received by post, and to adopt as many of these as he could without impairing the efficiency of the Bill. He begged to say, that although the enumeration of the particular provisions of the Bill by the hon. Member for Surrey had rather excited the merriment of the House, who seemed to think they were proposed as unheard-of things, the fact was, that almost all the details which the hon. Member went through were now in the course of being carried into effect by local bodies, under various Acts of Parliament, including the corporations of Liverpool and Manchester, and very many
others. He did not think a fair interpretation had been given of the powers vested in local boards with respect to ventilation. It was said that no theatre, church, or school, could be built without the previous sanction of the general board. Now, it was quite true that he proposed to give local boards the power of saying that no building which was intended to contain a large number of persons, should be built without being provided with proper means of ventilation—a provision which no one who regarded the health of his fellow-countrymen could surely object to. He was sorry to hear the hon. Member for Surrey casting imputations upon the motives and characters of these men who had exerted themselves in order to promote the health of their fellow-countrymen. He did not say, that there might not be among them—of what large class could it be said that it did not include men who acted from motives of an interested or sordid kind?—but he believed there were among them men as liberal and benevolent and as much devoted to the good of their fellow beings and to the general cause of human welfare and improvement as any cause ever exhibited. The hon. Member for Surrey seemed to ridicule the connexion between filth and immorality, and he doubted the bearing which sanitary reform had upon the moral and religious condition of the people. He could only say—and he said it with pleasure and pride—that such was not the view entertained by the clergy throughout the country. The Bishop of London had set a noble example in calling upon his clergy to assist in promoting a reform which, although to outward appearance it was connected merely with the external circumstances and physical condition of the people, he knew from experience was intimately connected with their moral, social, and religious progress. A few days ago he had received a communication from the Rev. W. Stone, rector of Christchurch, Spitalfields, in which he said—
It gives me much satisfaction to direct your Lordship's attention to a very strong sanitary demonstration made yesterday in the vestry-room of my parish of Spitalfields by the numerous clergy of thirteen parishes in this important district of the metropolis. I may add that nothing could exceed the unanimity and earnestness with which so numerous a body of clergy wished success to the sanitary provisions submitted to the Legislature by your Lordship, with which they hoped for the abolition of inefficient local self-government, and the substitution of systematic sanitary administration subject to the inspection of Government and the control of the Legislature. I earnestly
trust, with my clerical brethren in this important district, that our example may operate, as we all expressed ourselves, in leading to similar demonstrations elsewhere, and in stimulating the exertions of a body of men, who like the clergy, have such opportunities of knowing the sanitary wants of our crowded populations, and who, from their independent position, must carry the weight of disinterestedness and benevolence in wishing to see those wants adequately provided for.
He believed that this was the opinion of the great body of the clergy, not only in the metropolis, but throughout the country. He had the satisfaction of stating that, though a proposition to postpone the Committee for six months had been brought forward by the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Urquhart), yet the same feeling was not shared by a large, and perhaps the most enlightened, class of that hon. Gentleman's constituents. A petition had been placed in his hands which contained the following statements:—
The humble petition of the undersigned inhabitants of the borough of Stafford, and neighbourhood, showeth—That a high rate of mortality and sickness exists in the town and neighbourhood of Stafford, causing a largely increased and increasing amount of poor-rates, of crime, of misery, and demoralisation.
These benighted people, it seemed, were not so blind to the connexion between physical and moral evils as the hon. Member for Surrey. The petition proceeded:—
That your petitioners have reason to feel convinced that this ratio of mortality and sickness might be very materially lessened were proper sanitary regulations enforced. That powers which are said to exist for the removal of many acknowledged sources of ill-health are not exercised. Your petitioners, therefore, do humbly beg that your hon. House will please to pass into a law a Public Health Bill, whereby boards and other public bodies may not only be empowered, but also compelled, to carry out effective sanitary improvements, as these may be found suitable, in the different localities and districts over which they preside. Your petitioners view with anxious alarm the awful amount of wretchedness, moral degradation, and crime, proved to exist in our labouring population, in most instances arising in a great measure from a neglect of these improvements by existing local authorities, possessing power to effect them.
Such were the terms of the petition; and he had been informed that it was signed by all the clergy and all the ministers of different denominations in Stafford, by all the medical gentlemen with one exception, by the late mayor, and by a majority of the aldermen, together with a large proportion of the town-council; and, in fact, by a majority of the respectable inhabitants, who fairly represented the feelings of the
chief ratepaying inhabitants of the borough. But it was not upon the feelings of clergymen, or of medical men, or of corporators, that he would mainly rely for the favourable acceptance of this measure. He believed this Bill to be eminently and essentially the Poor Man's Bill—the Working Classes' Bill; and he conceived that the House could not inflict a more severe disappointment or a more mortal mischief upon those classes than by acceding to the Motion of the hon. Member for Stafford; and thus, in all probability, postponing any practical legislation on the subject for the present Session at least. He wished—although he desired to avoid troubling the House at unnecessary length at that late period of the evening—to offer a few remarks upon the much-vexed question of centralisation, which had been so much dwelt upon, and which he thought was so little understood. He must say, that he believed no one could have a stronger attachment and admiration than he had for the principle and habit of local administration, or, in other words, of self-government, which so much distinguished English political life. He conceived that principle to be among the most prominent causes, and the main preservatives of much that was valuable in the order of things established in this country. He had always endeavoured to act upon that impression; he had even taken his part in public life with those who wished to deepen and widen the foundations of our municipal institutions; he voted for the English Municipal Reform Bill—he believed he was three times beaten upon the question—and afterwards carried as much as he could of the Municipal Corporation Bill for Ireland. He thought, therefore, he had certainly not shown himself backward in doing what he could to promote the extension of the rights of corporate bodies. It was undoubtedly the intention of this Bill—and he still believed as certainly that it would be its practical result—to carry further, to employ upon fresh objects, and to direct to higher aims, the existing functions of the municipal corporations of England. This Bill, which some members of corporations seemed to fancy would be adverse to the functions, and derogatory to the dignity of corporate bodies, would confer powers of sewerage, of draining, of cleansing, and of paving, upon ninety-two corporate towns which were at present entirely without any such powers. It would confer the same powers of cleansing, sewerage, draining, paving,
and providing a supply of water upon 158 corporate towns which had no such undivided powers at present. These were the statistics—this was the précis—of the corporate towns of England; and he believed that many hon. Gentlemen were not aware how necessary it was to intrust the corporate bodies of those towns with the new powers which this Bill proposed to confer upon them. There were at present only twenty-nine English municipal corporations which had local Acts under the mayor and corporation exclusively; there were sixty-six corporations exercising powers jointly with commissioners; there were thirty towns in which the corporations had no powers at all, but where the powers were exercised independently by commissioners; and there were sixty-two corporate towns which had no local Acts whatever within the boundaries of the municipalities. Of the other towns in England, not being corporate towns, to which this Act might apply, there were 107 having local Acts; and there were 276 towns or populous districts, containing above 5,000 inhabitants, without either corporations or local Acts. Upon those towns this Bill would confer powers which they had never yet enjoyed in any way. He might also mention that there were in England 175 towns, containing above 5,000 inhabitants, which had local Acts, and 296 which had no local Acts at all; and it was upon these 296 towns which had no local Acts, and upon the 158 corporate towns which had at present either no powers at all, or divided powers, that this Bill would, for the first time, confer the exclusive power within their boundaries of cleansing, sewering, paving, and providing a supply of water. But while he was thus fondly fancying that he was attributing fresh value and adding fresh activity to the functions of municipal corporations, he certainly at the same time wished to introduce a limited amount of central superintendence. In a speech which he had formerly made on this subject, and to which the hon. Member for Stafford had referred, he had defined what he thought ought to be the limits and the objects of that State superintendence. He had said that he considered it ought to be used in providing necessary preliminaries, in suggesting useful methods, and in checking manifest abuses. The House seemed at the time inclined to acquiesce in that view. It was true that he had since been assailed by a host of criticisms, complaining that in many cases
he had not confined himself to what was desirable or modest on this head. He had, therefore, felt it his duty not only to attend to all the suggestions which reached him, but to take into counsel two or three of the most practical men whose aid he could obtain. Much as he respected his coadjutor (Mr. Chadwick), to whom the hon. Member for Exeter had referred, and who had rendered uniform good service on this subject, he might state that that gentleman was not one of those whose advice he had taken; but he had selected two or three practical persons in that House and out of it, who had considered the measure, and had endeavoured to put it in such a shape, that while the objections which had been urged against it could be met, it would still retain its original efficiency. Now the amount of central interference, which was really at present confined to a very few items, was intended to operate with regard to advising the original formation of the districts, without which the Bill could hardly be applied; to considering disputed questions, which might be referred by local boards, and arbitrating upon them; to retaining some power of interference upon points on which it was considered desirable to enforce an uniform procedure; and to deciding upon some works of great magnitude—which he considered was a power that afforded a fair protection to the ratepayers, and which he should have thought the local boards themselves would not have been unwilling to refer to an independent, an impartial, and a competent tribunal. Another power which would be given to the central authority was the auditing of the accounts, which he thought would impose a very necessary and salutary check. He could only say, as he had already intimated, that if it could be shown in the progress of this Bill through Committee, that the points of interference exceeded these limits, and if such interference could be still further safely dispensed with, he would be prepared to give the most candid attention to any suggestions that might be made on the subject. Some persons objected to the particular agency with which the central interference was to be exercised, and said they would prefer one officer of State to the appointment of one or more commissioners; but that was a point which might, perhaps be most satisfactorily discussed when they came to the clause in Committee. Allusion had been made to a publication which had been issued by the Health of Towns Association.
He was not at all acquainted with the circumstances under which that publication was concocted and issued. He admitted at once that an anonymous communication could never have the same authority as one to which the name of the communicant was attached; while he believed the name of the contributor would generally have attached greater weight to the communication. He certainly did not wish to make those discussions a vehicle for attack or abuse, or anything of an offensive nature. Their common object was to consider how best to overcome the prevalence of disease, to narrow the bounds of death, and to promote human happiness and comfort. In carrying out measures of sanitary reform, their object was to do it as cheaply as they could, but above all to do it as effectually as they could. Year after year there were men whose lives were daily and hourly falling victims to the neglect of sanitary regulation. It was very well to talk of the rights of Englishmen. He wished them to be respected and vindicated. But some attention was due also to the lives of Englishmen; and so far, while he believed this Bill would be found most justly to deserve its name of "a Bill for promoting health," it might with almost equal accuracy and truth be termed a Bill for consolidating, strengthening, and making more effectual the functions of local bodies in the various municipal towns of England and Wales. With this confidence he did hope the House would not refuse to go into Committee on the Bill, with the view of considering whether it could be amended, whether further improvements could be effected, but at all events whether a measure ought not to be adopted which had for its object to proper the sanitary condition of the people of this realm.
§ MR. BUCK regarded the Bill as of a most unconstitutional character. Not less than 100,000l. had been recently expended for these purposes in the city of Exeter—10,000l. upon sewerage alone; and he did say, when such a sum had been expended for the benefit of the industrious and working classes, that no stigma should be cast upon a city which had so acted. He thought this matter might safely be left in the hands of the local boards; and certainly he, for one, was not prepared to send down Commissioners into the towns of England with lavish and extravagant salaries to do that which could be better done without them. Really, when the hon. Member for Montrose was advocating 739 retrenchment, it would be worth his while to look at the expenditure lavished upon the Commissions of this country. Let them look at the Railway Commission, and to the Poor Law Commission, too. He believed that if this latter Commission had not been created, there never would have been that opposition to the poor-law in this country which there had been. He was opposed to every kind of Commission, and if this Bill proceeded any further, the moment the appointment of the Commissioners was proposed, he should divide the House upon the question, because he was sure it was against the general feeling of the country that the power proposed by the Bill should be given to Commissioners. As a friend to sanitary improvements, he should adopt the course of his hon. Friend the Member for Dorsetshire, and say that until such a Bill was introduced as he, as the representative of one of the largest agricultural constituencies, could support, he should never again vote for any Commission whatever.
§ MR. H. BERKELEY was very much astonished to hear the Bill described as unpopular in the country. In the city he had the honour to represent, it was extremely popular. The only matter for astonishment was, that the city of London was exempted from the operation of this Act. He contended that, if there was one part of the country which required sanitary reform, it was the city of London. The state of London was appalling. The House had a right to know what measures were proposed by the City. He thought that a proposition for effecting sanitary reform in the city of London should have been contemporaneous with this measure; and not only with reference to the city, but to the metropolitan boroughs. He thought it became the Government of the country, when proposing a measure of this kind, to bring London (the place, above all others, that demanded improvement) within these sanitary regulations. He should vote for this Bill going into Committee; but he trusted that the noble Lord would, without any further delay, inform the House what those other Bills were which they said they intended to introduce in respect to the metropolis.
§ The EARL of LINCOLN would not have risen, but for the remarks made relative to the metropolis. It had been urged by some hon. Gentlemen that the Bill should not go into Committee if the metropolis was excluded from it; and the hon. Gentle- 740 man who had just sat down had spoken as if the sanitary state of the metropolis had never been investigated by Committees or Commissions, and as if he had doubts whether it was the intention of the noble Lord to bring in a measure including the metropolis. Now, he thought the hon. Gentleman had an entirely erroneous impression as to what the intentions of Government were; and he was bound in fairness and candour to say, that he was one of those who last year told the noble Lord that he was wrong in including the metropolis in the Bill which he then brought forward, and that he ought to introduce a separate measure framed for the metropolis alone. He then stated, that he believed the legislation which was suitable for other towns was not fitted for this enormous metropolis, with 2,000,000 of population; and he now considered that, so far from its exclusion being a reason why they should not go into Committee, it was a reason why they should the more readily so so, because they were more likely to arrive at a good practical conclusion with regard to the Bill when it was disencumbered of those complications which must always be experienced in considering a question of the kind for the city of London. He would vote for going into Committee with the most entire confidence that the noble Lord would not neglect the metropolis, and that he would feel himself bound to introduce a measure for embracing it as soon as possible. Another objection to going into Committee was the introduction of a central board of management into the Bill. Last year he stated his belief that the principle of centralisation was carried too far in the measure of the noble Lord, and he objected to the constitution of the Board of Commissioners. On that question he was prepared again to explain his views at the proper time; but he certainly did not see that it was any reason why they should not go into Committee. The noble Lord himself had removed such an objection by stating that he considered the question an open one. It appeared to him, that he was ready to receive any suggestions that might be made on the subject of a central body, not only with reference to its powers, but also with regard to its constitution; and therefore he would on that ground willingly vote for going into Committee. He thought they would be falsifying all those expectations which they had held out to the country if they refused to go into Committee, merely because they 741 saw that the question was involved in difficulties, and that there were objections to some of the details of the Bill. The hon. Member for Oxfordshire had suggested that the plan of the Enclosure Act should be followed out with regard to the local Bills; and on this point he wished to put the noble Lord right in reference to an omission which he had made while adverting to the topic. It was true that the local Acts were repealed by the Bill, and were not proposed to be repealed by the Queen in Council; but there was a more dangerous provision than even giving the Queen in Council the power referred to. It was provided that as soon as the Bill was brought into operation by the Queen in Council, power was given to the Privy Council to revive such portions of those local Acts as were repealed by this Bill as they might think fit. Now, the principle of giving the Queen in Council such a power to repeal an Act of Parliament, and to revive Acts that had been repealed by the Legislature, was a very dangerous thing indeed, and he hoped would not be persisted in.
§ MR. SPOONER moved that the debate be adjourned. It would be impossible to complete the fair discussion of the Bill that night. For himself, admitting as he did that something ought to be done for the improvement of the sanitary condition of this country, he considered that the manner in which it was proposed to be effected, and the principle of this Bill, as well as the details, were so objectionable that it never could be carried out in its present shape.
§ The EARL of LINCOLN had sat down simply because, though interrupted by but a very few hon. Members, lie felt that he was not keeping the promise he gave. He would reserve to a future occasion what he had further to say.
§ The House divided on the question, that the debate be adjourned:—Ayes 54; Noes 229: Majority 175.
|List of the AYES.|
|Alexander, N.||Coles, H. B.|
|Archdall, Capt. M.||Cubitt, W.|
|Arkwright, G.||Divett, E.|
|Baldock, E. H.||Duke, Sir J.|
|Bennet, P.||Duncan, Visct.|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Duncuft, J.|
|Bentinck, Lord H.||Egerton, W. T.|
|Broadley, H.||Farnham, E. B.|
|Brooke, Lord||Floyer, J.|
|Buck, L. W.||Forbes, W.|
|Chichester, Lord J. L.||Forester, hon. G. C. W.|
|Christopher, R. A.||Fuller, A. E.|
|Christy, S.||Granby, Marg. of|
|Gwyn, H.||Pattison, J.|
|Haggitt, F. R.||Pearson, C.|
|Harris, hon. Capt.||Rolloston, Col.|
|Heald, J.||Sibthorp, Col.|
|Henley, J. W.||Sidney, Ald.|
|Hildyard, T. B. T.||Somerset, Capt.|
|Hodgson, W. N.||Stuart, Lord D.|
|Hood, Sir A.||Stuart, J.|
|Hope, Sir J.||Urquhart, D.|
|Hornby, J.||Waddington, H. S.|
|Humphery, Ald.||Walsh, Sir J. B.|
|Law, hon. C. E.||Williams, J|
|Muntz, G. F.||Bankes, G.|
|Newdegate, C. N.||Spooner, R.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Abdy, T. N.||Corry, rt. hon. H. L.|
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Courtenay, Lord|
|Adair, H. E.||Cowper, hon. W. F.|
|Adair, R. A. S.||Craig, W. G.|
|Anson, hon. Col.||Crawford, W. S.|
|Armstrong, R. B.||Cripps, W.|
|Arundel and Surrey,||Dalrymple, Capt.|
|Earl of||Dashwood, G. H.|
|Ashley, Lord||Davie, Sir. H. R. F.|
|Bagshaw, J.||Denison, W. J.|
|Baines, M. T.||Denison, J. E.|
|Barkly, H.||Dodd, G.|
|Baring, rt. hn. Sir F. T.||Douglas, Sir C. E.|
|Bateson, T.||Duff, G. S.|
|Beckett, W.||Dundas, Adm.|
|Bell, J.||Dundas, Sir D.|
|Bellew, R. M.||Du Pre, C. G.|
|Benbow, J.||Ebrington, Visct.|
|Berkeley, hon. Capt.||Emlyn, Visct.|
|Berkeley, hon. H. F.||Estcourt, J. B. B.|
|Bernard, Visct.||Evans, J.|
|Blackall, S. W.||Farrer, J.|
|Boldero, H. G.||Filmer, Sir E.|
|Bouverie, hon. E. P.||FitzPatrick, rt. hn. J.W.|
|Bowles, Adm.||Fitzroy, hon. H.|
|Bowring, Dr.||Foley, J. H. H.|
|Boyle, hon. Col.||Fordyce, A. D.|
|Brand, T.||Forster, M.|
|Brisco, M.||Fortescue, C.|
|Brockman, E. D.||Fortescue, hon. J. W.|
|Brotherton, J.||Fox, R. M.|
|Browne, R. D.||Fox, W. J.|
|Bunbury, E. H.||Freestun, Col.|
|Burroughes, H. N.||Frewen, C. H.|
|Busfeild, W.||Galway, Visct.|
|Buxton, Sir E. N.||Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.|
|Campbell, hon. W. F.||Glyn, G. C.|
|Cardwell, E.||Goddard, A. L.|
|Carew, W. H. P.||Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Carter, J. B.||Greenall, G.|
|Cavendish, hon. C. C.||Greene, J.|
|Cavendish, W. G.||Greene, T.|
|Cayley, E. S.||Grenfell, C. W.|
|Chaplin, W. J.||Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Clay, J.||Grey, R. W.|
|Clements, hon. C. S.||Grosvenor, Lord R.|
|Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G.||Hamilton, G. A.|
|Clive, H. B.||Hanmer, Sir J.|
|Cobbold, J. C.||Hawes, B.|
|Cobden, R.||Hay, Lord J.|
|Cockburn, A. J. E.||Headlam, T. E.|
|Cocks, T. S.||Heathcote, J.|
|Coke, hon. E. K.||Heneage, E.|
|Colvile, C. R.||Henry, A.|
|Herbert, H. A.||Repton, G. W. J.|
|Heywood, J.||Ricardo, O.|
|Hindley, C.||Rice, E. R.|
|Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J.||Rich, H.|
|Hobhouse, T. B.||Romilly, J.|
|Hollond, R.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Hope, H. T.||Russell, hon. E. S.|
|Horsman, E.||Russell, F. C. H.|
|Howard, hon. C. W. G.||Rutherfurd, A.|
|Howard, hon. J. K.||Salwoy, Col.|
|Howard, hon. E. G. G.||Sandars, G.|
|Hume, J.||Scholefield, W.|
|Jackson, W.||Scrope, G. P.|
|Jervis, Sir J.||Seymer, H. K.|
|Johnstone, Sir J.||Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.|
|Keppel, hon. G. T.||Shelburne, Earl of|
|Kershaw, J.||Simeon, J.|
|King, hon. P. J. L.||Slaney, R. A.|
|Labouchere, rt. hon. H.||Smith, rt. hon. R. V.|
|Lascelles, hon. E.||Smith, J. A.|
|Lascelles, hon. W. S.||Smith, J. B.|
|Lennard, T. B.||Smyth, Sir H.|
|Lewis, G. C.||Stafford, A.|
|Lincoln, Earl of||Stanley, hon. E. J.|
|Lindsay, hon. Col.||Stansfield, W. R. C.|
|Mackinnon, W. A.||Stanton, W. H.|
|Macnamara, Maj.||Strickland, Sir G.|
|Maitland, T.||Stuart, H.|
|Manners, Lord C. S.||Sturt, H. G.|
|Marshall, W.||Sullivan, M.|
|Martin, S.||Talbot, C. R. M.|
|Matheson, Col.||Talfourd, Serj.|
|Maule, rt. hon. F.||Thesiger, Sir F.|
|Melgund, Visct.||Thicknesse, R. A.|
|Miles, P. W. S.||Thompson, Col.|
|Mitchell, T. A.||Thompson, Ald.|
|Monsell, W.||Thornely, T.|
|Morgan, 0.||Towneley, C.|
|Morpeth, Visct.||Towneley, J.|
|Morris, D.||Townshend, Capt.|
|Mulgrave, Earl of||Turner, E.|
|Mure, Col.||Tynte, Col.|
|Norreys, Lord||Verney, Sir. H.|
|Ogle, S. C. H.||Villiers, hon. C.|
|Owen, Sir J.||Vivian, J. H.|
|Paget, Lord A.||Wall, C. B.|
|Paget, Lord C.||Walmsley, Sir J.|
|Paget, Lord G.||Ward, H. G.|
|Palmerston, Visct.||Welby, G. E.|
|Parker, J.||Westhead, J. P.|
|Patten, J. W.||Williamson, Sir H.|
|Pechell, Capt.||Willoughby, Sir H.|
|Perfect, R.||Wilson, M.|
|Pigott, F.||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Pilkington, J.||Wood, W. P.|
|Pinney, W.||Wrightson, W. B.|
|Plowden, W. H. C.||Wyld, J.|
|Power, N.||Wyvill, M.|
|Powlett, Lord W.||Yorke, H. G. R.|
|Rawdon, Col.||Tufnell, H.|
|Rendlesham, Lord||Hill, Lord M.|
§ After some conversation, however, the debate was adjourned.
§ House adjourned at One o'clock.