§ MR. SPOONER said, although the Government had made various alterations in the Bill, the principle of it remained the same. He objected most decidedly to the power which was proposed to be given to a central board in London to control the affairs of the different localities affected by the Bill. There was, also, an unlimited power given to the Lords of the Treasury to appoint officers and officials under the Bill, which power he considered unwarranted and unconstitutional. He admitted that some superintending body was necessary to see that proper sanitary measures were adopted in the different localities; but he protested against the interference of Government in the local administration of the different towns such as was proposed by the Bill. The noble Lord at the head 765 of the Government would find so many complicated interests affected by the Bill, that he would be unable to carry it through the House; and he would suggest the propriety of the Government withdrawing the Bill, and bringing in one which was more in accordance with the opinions of the House and the country. In at least every town with which he was connected, there existed a strong feeling of hostility to the Bill, in almost all its details. He assured the House that in the present state of trade, they would find a very large proportion of the retail dealers and small tradesmen in such a situation, that their profits could not afford them the means of paying the general and local taxation to which they were subjected; and they certainly could not support the increased burdens which a Bill like this before the House would necessarily lay upon them. In the town of Birmingham there existed two or three bodies having for their object the promotion of drainage, sewerage, and other sanitary measures. Now, he agreed that it would be a better state of things were these separate bodies fused into one. But the way in which the Government proposed to deal with them would be found quite impracticable. By the Bill before the House, the powers of one of the bodies in question were only partially transferred to another—thus rendering both of them expensive, and both of them inefficient. In such a state of things, then, it was not to be wondered at that so vigorous would be the opposition throughout the country that the noble Lord would find great difficulty in carrying a Bill at all resembling the present one. The suggestion thrown out that the House should discuss and settle the details of the measure before they proceeded to consider the clause appointing Commissioners, was, in his mind, an excellent one, and one which he would cordially support. He felt most strongly the necessity for some sanitary measure, and protested against being supposed to object to all sanitary reform. To sanitary reform, on the contrary, he would give his most cordial support; and it was precisely because he felt the necessity for some improvement in this respect, and because he was really desirous rather of effecting that object than of appointing boards to carry it ultimately out, that he called upon the noble Lord not to press this Bill in its present state, but to take the advice of the hon. Member for Oxfordshire, and bring in a Bill creating the 766 moving and superintending power, but leaving to local bodies the management of matters of local concern. If they wished a Bill upon the subject to be carried, they must weed it of all the obnoxious centralising powers to which he had referred. In its present form they would find the measure give rise to endless difficulties. It would mix up town with agricultural districts. Indeed, when they came to analyse the Bill, they would find it throwing anything it touched into a mass of confusion which it would be almost impossible for any tribunal to unravel. But if they were in earnest about the work—if they really wanted to carry a good practical sanitary measure, then he would advise them to send this Bill to a Committee upstairs—to give that Committee power to call and examine witnesses, whose statements, while they proved the difficulties likely to arise from such a measure as the present, would also point out the necessary remedies, If the hon. Member for Stafford pressed his Motion to a division, he should feel it to be his duty to support him, as he believed that whoever drew up this Bill must have been totally ignorant of the interests it was intended to serve, and the effects which it would be likely to produce.
§ MR. SLANEY thought that his hon. Friend opposite had not stated one objection to the Bill which might not be discussed, and probably got rid of in Committee. He thought that he could show to the House, first, the absolute necessity for an extensive measure, and that rather for the sake of the poor than the rich; and secondly, that it was necessary to have a measure somewhat of the nature of that before the House, the details of which might be safely left for consideration and adoption in Committee. It was upwards of ten years since he had turned his attention to this subject. From that time to the present day, discussion after discussion had taken place with respect to it. In 1840 he himself had moved for a Committee, which was appointed, sat, and examined witnesses. That Committee reported that the sanitary regulations in many principal towns of the kingdom were exceedingly defective, were often almost entirely neglected, and that abuses of a most extensive nature existed in connexion with them. And a strong reason why a measure like this should be adopted was, the changed social position of the great masses of the people. Some years ago the 767 agricultural population of this country were as two to one in respect to those who were resident in towns. That state of things had since been reversed; and it had been shown since that the population of those living in towns was now as two to one, compared with the agricultural labourers resident in rural districts. In several large towns the number of the working classes, in respect to the whole population of those towns, was as high as sixty per cent, eighty per cent, and even ninety-five per cent; and these facts showed the necessity of a change. The report of the Committee on the Health of Towns, in 1840, stated that the Committee had inquired into the matters submitted to them, and that they found that the sanitary arrangements in the principal towns of the realm were most imperfectly carried out, and that abuses existed in all large towns of a most extensive nature. And here he begged to bear testimony to the benevolent feeling and ability of Mr. Chadwick, as evinced in the reports drawn up by him on the part of the Poor Law Commissioners. The subsequent reports of the Poor Law Commissioners confirmed the representations of the House of Commons' Committee on the sanitary state of towns. The second report of the Health of Towns Committee was made in 1845, and it included the opinions of the most eminent engineers of the country, and of medical gentlemen of the highest eminence. That Commission reported unanimously in favour of a measure of extensive improvement as absolutely necessary for the health of the working classes in large towns. Now, then, they came to the point. The Commission in question drew up a series of resolutions, basing each upon a full exposition of the reasons which had induced them to adopt it. These resolutions were the foundation of the Bill of the noble Lord the Member for Falkirk, as well as of that now before the House. The first of these resolutions recommended that in all cases a local body should have the particular charge of sanitary works, but that the Crown should possess a general power of superintendence and revision. Now that was the principle which it was now sought to affirm—a principle supported by the unanimous recommendations of a Committee of this House—by the reports of the Secretary of the Poor Law Commission—by the first recommendations of the Sanitary Commission—and by the second report of that body, in which they indicated re- 768 medial measures for the evils which they described as existing. Besides this mass of authority, too, they had the reports of the Commissioners, who examined into the santary condition of fifty of the largest towns in England. Was it not time, then, for the enactment of some general measure, by means of which local bodies might have the means of carrying out those sanitary reforms which they believed to be needful, and the execution of which they were most desirous of having placed within their power? He had himself investigated the cases of the towns, one of which was celebrated for the ingenuity of its manufactures, and was known as the "toy shop of Europe." He alluded to the town of Birmingham. He should be ready to answer any question which might be put to him in reference to the state of that town. Birmingham certainly was one of the most healthy of our large towns; it stood on a high hill, and, generally speaking, the resident working classes had each his own dwelling. The effect of the Bill would be to place in the hands of the local authorities powers which they did not now possess. The only power vested in the hands of the noble Lord would be the appointment of an inspector and an auditor—offices absolutely necessary for the efficient working of the measure. It was argued that the Bill would diminish the authority of the local bodies, and that it was another step toward a system of complete centralisation; but, so far from that being true, the fact was that this Bill would confer on the local board powers which they never possessed before. They would have the full management of their own affairs; and the whole appointment of the acting officers, with the exception of the inspectors and auditors, would necessarily be under the control of the central authorities, in order to correct the evils which would arise from exclusive local management. The principle of the Bill was to enforce local arrangements for the improvement of health, and to carry out those arrangements by the action of the local bodies elected by the ratepayers of the district; and nothing could be devised which more effectually would answer that object, and carry out that principle. The hon. Member read a number of extracts from a pamphlet on the sanitary question, to show the present unhealthy condition of the principal manufacturing towns of England, and related the result of certain inquiries he had instituted into the number of pigs and pig- 769 geries in Birmingham, from which it appeared that the parish contained, pigs, 1,681, styes, 3,256; and the whole district, pigs, 2,300; styes, 3,300. They might form some idea of the condition of the people residing in the close courts and lanes where these animals were kept. Bilston was nearly, if not altogether, as bad. When the cholera visited England, the inhabitants had suffered more than those of other towns. The consequence was, that attempts had been made to remedy its sanitary condition; but at this moment the town had lapsed into all its former misery and filth. It was now almost destitute of drainage, and with a very inadequate supply of water. The report stated that in some of the towns the contents of the common sewers are collected into stagnant reservoirs in the immediate vicinity of the population. In the same way—whether they turned to the district of Lancashire with Dr. Lyon Playfair, visited the West Riding with Mr. Smith of Deanston, inspected the midland manufacturing towns, such as Coventry and Leicester, with Mr. Martin, or traversed the mining districts around Merthyr Tydvil, they would find a similar repetition of the causes of disease and sickness, in crowded courts and lanes, without ventilation or sewerage, or any of the requisites for comfortable or even decent existence. No one could read these accounts without coming to the irresistible conclusion that some large measure such as this was absolutely necessary to improve the condition of the people, and effect those alterations which were indispensable to their improvement. It would appear from the reports that there was an increase of five years in the life of those who lived in sewered districts, as compared with those who were not so advantageously circumstanced. Thus it seemed in the power of the House to prolong the life of a great mass of people to that extent by making those improvements which scientific inquiry proved to be so necessary. He hoped the House would agree with him in thinking that these evils should be met by some such measure as that before them. The hon. Member for Warwickshire asserted it would be a most costly measure, but the calculations of the most experienced men tended to an opposite conclusion; and even if it were expensive, the country would gain more than ten times the outlay in the decrease in poor-rates, in the health and comfort, and, above all, in the contentment of the great 770 mass of the people, who were the mind and tone of the State. The Bill would affect the happiness and health of hundreds of thousands; and he hoped when it came before the Committee that the House would model it in such a way as to make it successful and permanent. But nothing could exceed the general ignorance which prevailed on this subject, particularly with respect to drainage. The old system of drains, six feet five inches by four feet five inches, cost three times as much as earthenware pipes, which were a great deal more effectual and far more economical, particularly for courts and alleys. Then the supply of water was miserably deficient, the poor having to purchase it at an exorbitant rate, and to fetch it from a considerable distance. The objections to the measure, now under consideration, were chiefly made by interested individuals, and those who considered themselves the possessors of vested rights. He thought any measure of a sanitary nature relating to London would best be discussed by itself. When they considered the numerous boards in London, and that the commission of drain age was entirely different from that in other parts of England, it would be admitted that it would be a matter of great difficulty, if not an impossibility, to comprise in this Bill regulations applicable to this great metropolis. Having paid much attention to the condition of the humbler classes in great towns he had come to the conclusion that it was absolutely necessary for the safety of all that great alterations and improvements should be made. By making such improvements they would rally these classes round the institutions of the country; but if they neglected these improvements the people would be discontented that nothing had been done for them. By a measure of this nature they would do much to increase the security of property, especially if it were followed by measures for improving the moral condition of the people. By such measures they would be able to change in a great measure the condition of large bodies of the population of great towns, and to make them contented and cheerful. When hon. Gentlemen expressed their desire of upholding property, he would remind them that the poor man's property was his health, strength, and power to labour, and that upon these depended the support of his wife and children. They would paralyse, they would destroy his capacity to win his bread if they did not give him that protection to his health by 771 which alone he would be enabled to maintain himself and family. According to one of the best authorities, it appeared that in one county alone—Lancashire, there were annually 336,000 cases of preventible disease, and that the cost resulting therefrom amounted to no less 4,000,000l. He hoped, therefore, they would lay aside all party feelings, and consent to go into Committee, with the view of passing some large sanitary measure for the improvement of the condition of the suffering masses in the great towns of the kingdom.
§ MR. CHARLES PEARSON said, it was with great reluctance he should oppose the Bill going into a Committee, but he felt it to be his duty to resist upon principle its second reading. It was frequently very difficult to determine, in respect of Bills in that House, what might be properly called their principle, to warrant their rejectionin limine, and in what were their details capable of modification if referred to a Committee. In the present Bill he considered its principles were two—first, that the Ministers of the day might, by Order in Council, upon application of a small fragment of the inhabitants of the great mass of the cities, boroughs, and districts of the country, order the local authorities of the place to be deprived of the independent conduct and action which was the glory of our Saxon institutions, and, like ricketty children, be placed in the go-cart of central government. The other principle of the Bill was, that Scotland, Ireland, the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and the metropolis of London, should be excluded from the Bill, and be left for future legislation. [Viscount MORPETH: Not Oxford and Cambridge.] Well, Oxford and Cambridge were not excluded from the amended, but they were not in the original one. Against these principles it was his intention to enter his protest, both by his voice and by his vote. If the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Urquhart) had persevered in his original Amendment, that no alteration of the law was necessary to secure sanitary improvements, he would not have obtained his (Mr. Pearson's) support; but in resisting the Bill upon the broad principle of its un-English and unconstitutional character, the hon. Member for Stafford should have his hearty concurrence. He felt it right to make this declaration at the outset of his speech, to guard himself against the misrepresentation to which he might be otherwise exposed, as the advocates of this measure, 772 both in and out of the House, were disingenuous enough to represent that the opponents of the Bill were the enemies of the comforts of the poor. It was true, that as a metropolitan Member he might be said to be uninterested, as far as his constituents were concerned, in the fate of the Bill. It had been said, that the Members for Lambeth, Finsbury, the Tower Hamlets, the City, Greenwich, and Southwark, might maintain their popularity with their constituents, at the same time that they supported the Bill, because the Ministers had yielded to their representations, and had excluded the metropolis from the operation of this objectionable measure; but it would be a shortsighted policy if the metropolitan Members adopted this course, for as surely as the Bill before the House was carried, so surely would the metropolitan boroughs be subjected to the same fate. In fact, the noble Premier, with his usual frankness, had declared that that was his intention. The noble Lord had described, in somewhat graphic characters, his interview with the Lord Mayor, when this subject was first promulgated. The Lord Mayor had not considered himself at liberty to narrate the circumstances of the interview to which the noble Premier had referred. He was left, therefore, to draw upon his imagination to figure out the details. The noble Lord said, the Lord Mayor had asked, "Do you mean to include the city of London in your Sanitary Bill?" "I do," responded his Lordship. "Then I shall give it my utmost opposition," rejoined the Lord Mayor. I cannot (said the hon. Member) imagine that such a curt and unceremonious conversation upon such an important occasion sufficed these two great functionaries, the First Minister of the Crown and the first magistrate of the City; but as there was no Homer to sing, like the deeds of Ulysses at the cave of Polyphemus, I will let my imagination strike the strings, to record this scene, as I may presume it actually occurred. I must do the noble Lord the justice to say that he is not in the slightest degree amenable to the suspicion entertained by some of the opponents of the Bill, that the noble Lord has excluded the metropolis out of any affection for the City; on the contrary, the failing of noble minds exhibits itself conspicuously in his Lordship's actions; fearing lest his affection for the citizens should prompt him to give their interests undue support, he is in danger of guarding against undue favour, by bestow- 773 ing upon them an undue measure of his powerful opposition. But to return to facts (the hon. Member continued) the noble Lord no doubt communicated to the Lord Mayor, at the interview, his intention to breakfast upon the cotton lords of Liverpool and Manchester, to dine upon the less digestible hardware representatives of Birmingham and Sheffield, and to sup upon his favoured constituents of the metropolis. He trusted that the hon. Members for the northern boroughs would be too far north, and the Members for the metropolitan burghs would be too wide awake, to fall into this trap. "Divide and conquer" was an old adage. If the representatives of the metropolis joined the Ministers to fasten this un-English Bill on the country, they must expect the country party would hereafter unite with the Ministers to visit the same measure upon themselves. The hon. Member who had preceded him in the debate had read long extracts from the report of the Health of Towns Association and other documents, to prove that the labouring classes of this country were sunk into the lowest state of poverty, misery, wretchedness, and crime, principally on account of the low state of their physical position, in consequence of the neglect of the local authorities to make arrangements for the proper sewage and cleansing of their dwellings, and that, therefore, it was the duty of the Legislature to pass the Bill, in order to give the Government officers the power of enforcing better sanitary arrangements than could be obtained by local authorities. He denied both the fact stated, and the inference deduced. It was an unfounded calumny upon the meritorious class to which those statements referred. A large meeting was held in London the other day on this important question. It was true, no Member of Her Majesty's Government was present, nor was either of those important Gentlemen who in that House exerted themselves to collect Members together. It was a meeting convened by the Health of Towns Association, the Metropolitan Association, and the Philanthropic Association. They had challenged men as zealous in the cause of sanitary improvements as themselves to appear before their self-constituted tribunal to be tried for having neglected those sanitary measures of which these said parties, forsooth, called themselves the advocates. He himself had been summoned to appear, and did appear, before their tribunal, and he would read one of the 774 resolutions passed, in order to protect himself from the unfounded assertion that he and those who opposed this Bill were opposed to the objects it professed to carry out. The resolution expressed a concurrence in the opinion that good drainage and an ample supply of water were highly conducive to the cleanliness, the comfort, the health, and the morals of the population, and that those objects might be obtained under the old system of local government. This was a resolution passed at a large meeting in the metropolis, convened by the supporters of the noble Lord, and by an association of which he was a distinguished member. In this country all our sanitary arrangements were made under the authority of the law, and by means of local institutions. In foreign countries, sanitary arrangements were made by the Government, or, if by local institutions, they were still under the control of the State authorities. This Bill proceeded upon the latter principle, for, though it left an appearance of authority in the possession of the local boards, it placed a barren sceptre in their hands, for the local authorities were controlled by the Government. What had been the result in those countries in which a precisely similar system prevailed? In France, before the late revulsion, out of an income of 54,000,000l.a year, 18,000,000l. had been expended in purposes connected with the civil administration of the country, and 500,000 persons were in the employment, and their offices in the patronage, of the Government, and upon them devolved the expenditure of this enormous sum; so that 18,000,000l. a year was used to keep the Administration of the day in power, by corrupting the votes of those who kept them there. If the tree was known by its fruit, it might be seen from other nations what would be the effect of centralisation over the institutions of this country. In all parts of France the corporations and sanitary regulators were under the control of Government influence; and what did we find? In France, the proportion of annual deaths to the whole population was 1 in 42; in Prussia, 1 in 38; in Austria, 1 in 33; in Russia, 1 in 28; in London, 1 in 37; and in England, 1 in 45. Thus in England, under our system of self-government, the proportion of deaths to the population was less than in any other country; and even in the metropolis, so much calumniated, the duration of life was greater than in any Continental capital, and the moral 775 condition of the population was much higher. The Gentlemen who had prepared the New Poor Law had said, that early marriages were evidence of a low state of the social condition of a country, and that an excess of illegitimate children in proportion to the births afforded the strongest evidence of the low state of the social and moral condition of a country. It appeared, from statistical returns, that the annual marriages in France were 1 in 62; in Prussia, 1 in 56; in Austria, 1 in 62; in Russia, 1 in 49; in England, 1 in 66; and in London, 1 in 102: so that in England, where the humbler classes were calumniated, as being in a low and degraded moral condition, as compared with those of other countries, instead of being sunk in the dirt and mire of misery and misconduct, they stood out in noble relief. Then as to illegitimate births; what was the moral state of other countries? In France, in every 1,000 births 928 were legitimate, and 72 illegitimate; in Austria, 886 legitimate, and 114 illegitimate; in England, 933 legitimate, and 67 illegitimate; and, in London, 968 legitimate, and 32 only illegitimate. Compare this with Paris, where, in every 1,000 births, 711 only were legitimate and 289 illegitimate; with Berlin, where the proportion was 850 to 150; and with St. Petersburgh, where it was 812 to 228. The registry of the returns showed that, until the passing of the New Poor Law, which was designed to repress illegitimacy by casting the burden of the child upon the weaker vessel, in London and England the proportion of illegitimate to legitimate children was 25 per cent less than now. Representing, as he did, a metropolitan borough, it might be said that he had nothing to do with the sanitary question; London, Marylebone, the Tower Hamlets, and Finsbury, not being included in the Bill. He did not think he now saw in the House a single representative of a metropolitan district. The noble Lord who had a large portion of what was known as the harmlessness of the dove, with, however, a small modicum of the antagonistic quality, had thought it best to fight his opponents separately and singly, by first bringing in a Bill that should take in all the towns except the metropolitan districts; and he (Mr. Pearson) dared say that many of the Members for the metropolitan districts would vote for the measure. They could say to their 776 constituents, "You are left—out why should we oppose the Bill? Let us support the Government in putting down the Tory Members who oppose it." He (Mr. Pearson) did not, however, think he should risk his popularity by dividing on this occasion, in company with the Gentlemen who sat on those (the Opposition) benches. The metropolitan boroughs should sympathise with Manchester, Birmingham, and other large towns; and he had heard it said that those towns were to be left out in the Committee. The noble Lord the Member for London had heard many hard expressions used towards him, on the supposition that he had excluded the metropolis on account of his political connexion with the place. It was doing that noble Lord only justice to say that there was not the slightest foundation for this imputation. The public mind had been drugged with the grossest misrepresentations in respect to the sanitary condition of the kingdom. He found it stated in a pamphlet from the Health of Towns Association, that 58,000 children had been destroyed in London—that 58,000 children had died in the city more than would have died if the rate of mortality there had been the same as at Lewisham. Why should Lewisham be selected—a place of 500 or 600 inhabitants, to be compared with the City, containing 120,000—in which, instead of the deaths of children being annually 58,000 in excess of the ordinary rate of mortality, the whole number of deaths under ten years of age did not amount to one-tenth of the number stated in this pamphlet. Looking at the efforts which had been made to influence votes upon this question, he could not refrain from repeating his conviction that those efforts were based upon the grossest untruths. But though he thus frankly avowed his disbelief of those statements, it did not therefore necessarily follow that he was opposed to all good sanitary measures. On the contrary, no one more earnestly desired than he did to see a useful Health of Towns Bill carried through that House, applying not to the country only, but to the city of London and the whole of the metropolitan districts. Many facts came under his observation, and many were communicated to him, which left no doubt in his mind upon that subject. He could state one case, which was founded upon a report of the Statistical Society—a case the details of which were calculated to make every man feel it 777 to be a deep humiliation to live in a country where such scenes could take place. The report had been made by men of the very highest reputation; and what did it show? No less than this—that, in eighteen houses which had been examined consecutively, the population was so pressed together, that the maximum quantity of air which any individual enjoyed for respiratory purposes was only 270 cubic feet, and the minimum but 52 cubic feet; the average being 176 cubic feet. Now, it was well known that in felons' prisons the State allowed 1,000 cubic feet for each criminal. This was the state of things in a locality which he should presently name. There was nothing so bad in Birmingham, in the City, or in any other town in the kingdom. In that wretched state human beings were huddled together—all ages, both sexes, fathers and daughters, mothers and sons, brothers and sisters, strangers and acquaintances, the sick and the healthy, the dying and the dead, with a proximity and under a pressure which the veriest brutes would resist. Looking, then, at such enormities as these, he professed his perfect readiness to join any man who was willing to aid in putting an end to such monstrous evils. Where were those atrocities to be found, and to whom were they owing? They were to be found in the metropolis of England, and they were to be imputed to the management of the Woods and Forests; yet at this moment the House were told that the Bill was so altered that there would be no paid Commissioners, and that the practical carrying out of the measure would be left to the Chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests. Was it really a fact that that department had so little to do that they could find time enough and to spare for such undertakings as this? Was it to be expected that the public would place unbounded confidence in the management of the Woods and Forests when they were told that the present condition of Church-street, St Giles's, was to be traced to the proceedings of that board? That was the locality to which he alluded when he spoke of human beings huddled together with an average of only 176 cubic feet of air for respiratory purposes. Some time ago the Commissioners of Woods and Forrests conceived the design of forming a new street, for the purpose of enabling persons who rode in carriages to proceed easily from the west-end to the city, and return at their pleasure. For that purpose they 778 pulled down a large number of the houses in St. Giles, and increased the packing together of the people to an extent 67 per cent greater than their previous condition had rendered necessary. Before the formation of the new street there was a full current of air through Church-street, and its ventilation was further helped by a cross current. Both these were put an end to—a lofty wall was built across the street, and it was converted into acul de sac, in order that the eyes of the wealthy as they passed should not be offended by looking on the condition of the poor.
§ VISCOUNT MORPETH was sure that the hon. Member for Lambeth would gladly be set right on any point where his information happened to be imperfect. He begged to inform the hon. Member that the formation of the new street had been carried on, not under the direction of the department of Woods and Forests, but under that of a Commission, in which the Lord Mayor of London was included.
§ MR. PEARSON resumed: Assuming it to be as the noble Lord suggested, that these operations had been conducted by a Commission, of which the Commissioner of Woods and Forests and the Lord Mayor were members, the House must very well know that in Commissions of the kind to which he alluded there always was introduced a certain number of persons who were technically called dummies, in order to give such schemes the appearance of popularity. Surely every person in that House must be perfectly aware, that in the presence of such a Minister of the Crown as the noble Lord opposite, even the Lord Mayor of London would sink into measureless insignificance—that in the deliberations of such a Commission the opinions of the Lord Mayor would not have the slightest weight; and this was another proof of the impropriety of intrusting the practical execution of such a measure to men so respectable as the Lord Mayor, or so great as the Chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests; but who, it was manifest, could not be cognisant of the working of a measure carried on in their name. He would state another fact or two: the law placed at the disposal of the Woods and Forests a very large revenue for the improvement of the metropolis by opening and draining confined courts and alleys; and though the district of Church-street, St. Giles's, stood in the utmost need of good sewerage, and though 100l. would have been sufficient for accomplishing that object, yet the 779 Woods and Forests, with the utmost indifference to the wants of the locality, were unable to find 100l. for their relief. Looking, then, at the whole of the question, and considering dispassionately the provisions of the Bill, he could not do otherwise than say, that the House would act wisely if they placed more confidence in the discretion and integrity of local authorities, and left their operations unshackled by Government officials. Centralisation was not always and necessarily the best mode of dealing with questions of this nature. Past events had shown that the care used by the public functionaries of this metropolis in great emergencies was most effectual. When the cholera last afflicted Europe, the deaths from that disease in Paris were one in forty, while in London they were only one in 400. Paris lost upwards of 18,000, and the city of London less than 600 by the disease. Although he was most anxious for a good sanitary measure, yet he by no means wished for any such Bill as that then before the House; and he hoped that the metropolis of England would never submit to the passing of any such Act.
LORD ASHLEY was anxious to impress on the House the absolute and indispensable necessity of instituting some measure which might remove some portion at least of the grievances that pressed so severely on the working population. His hon. Friend near him said the other night that this was essentially a working man's question, and he had never in his life said a truer thing, for it affected the whole of the working man's life: it began at home; it affected his capacity to eat and sleep in comfort, to go abroad, and to gain a livelihood by which he might be enabled to rear his family in comfort and respectability. He knew that this question was well comprehended by the working classes, and was one of the questions they had really at heart. He had not attended a single meeting of working people in which this had not been a prominent feature; he had constant correspondence with them from all parts of the country, and in every part he found them alive to this question. He need only mention that the other day, when there was a meeting of trade delegates in the metropolis, amongst the grievances urged, and the first on which they came to a resolution, which they did him the honour to communicate to him, was the sanitary condition in which they and their families were left by the neglect of legislative enactments. He, therefore, assured the House
that this was a most important question, not only with respect to the moral condition of the working classes, but also in reference to the amount of political content or discontent which they would find existing amongst the masses. Nor was this a question which touched persons of a higher class at second-hand only. They knew the result of sanitary abuses by the large addition to the rates, by the increased demands on private charity, by accessions to the bills of mortality; and, more, they knew it in some cases by the results on themselves. Fever might break out in some noxious and remote district; but when at length it came to desolate some contiguous and wealthier region, then they began to see the consequences of this intolerable evil. He did not mean to conceal or deny that there were great difficulties in legislating on this subject, and no doubt the proposition of remedies was beset by every species of obstacle. A great number of local interests were to be encountered, a great number of local feelings to be provoked, and no doubt it required some fortitude and perseverance to devise a legislative measure which should apply a remedy to all these prodigious evils. But that could be no argument whatever for stopping this measure on the very threshold, for refusing to go into Committee, and there seeing whether they could draw the teeth and pare the talons of this lion, which had created so much terror. He gave the Government the highest praise for the manner in which they had addressed themselves to this question, and the boldness with which they had encountered the opposition and braved the difficulties surrounding the question. But he would fairly tell them, that he thought the measure was susceptible of very great improvement in Committee; but whether it was so or not, he implored the House to let the Government have an opportunity of dealing with the measure in Committee; for it was one, as he said before, which had taken such strong hold of the minds of the people, that it was essentially necessary to prove to them, not only by general argumentation, but in detail, what was feasible in regard to the removal of the various abominations existing. He confessed he was very much astonished when he heard it stated by certain Members in that House, and out of it, that the law as it now stood was adequate to the removal of those evils. If they looked at the list of Acts on the Statute-book,
they would find, no doubt, a great number levelled at abuses of this nature, which might perhaps be remedied if all those Acts were enforced; but to say that the Statute-book was open to all, was like the well-known saying, that the London Tavern was open to all: it was open, no doubt, provided you could pay for it. But this was a most perplexing and tedious process, which you could not call upon the working men, or any number of them, to put in operation. The old laws might be equal to the removal of abuses, but they were by no means equal to the institution of improvements: there was a law for removing masses of filth or noxious stenches, but there was none by which you could furnish to the working classes a pure, ample, and constant supply of water. The hon. Member for West Surrey (Mr. H. Drummond) had remarked that some persons had got up an agitation for the purpose of forcing this measure on the country. He (Lord Ashley) had been most deeply implicated in the movement, and was earnestly anxious to carry a legislative measure in furtherance of the object; he, therefore, took to himself all the blame of the hon. Member's reflection, and left him to prove what selfish interests he (Lord Ashley) had in the matter. He asked the hon. Gentleman whether it was not the case that in the opposition to this measure there was not full as much of selfish and pecuniary interest as in the advocacy of the great reform to which he looked? When the hon. Member treated this subject with such great jocosity, he (Lord Ashley) really thought the hon. Member must have forgotten, or perhaps never known, the very deep feeling entertained upon this question throughout the country, and could not have known that in almost every large town and populous locality boards had been formed for the purpose of making periodical reports, and exciting public interest on the subject, all beginning and ending with one and the same complaint, the utter inadequacy of the law for the removal of the great and pressing evils now endured. The city which he (Lord Ashley) represented, might almost be said to be in clover as regarded this question. Two petitions, very amply and respectfully signed by the inhabitants of Bath, had been presented to the House; one to the effect that, approving of many parts of the Bill, they thought that, on the whole, they could make out such a case for Bath that it ought to be exempted from the operation of the law;
the other that, though many people took exceptions to parts of this Bill, yet upon the whole they thought it exceedingly good, and called for by the necessities of the country, and therefore requested their representatives not to give way to any local interests, but to suffer the general necessity to overrule them. He should, therefore, vote for going into Committee, with a view to the introduction of such amendments as might be found necessary. The hon. Member for West Surrey had asked, what possible connection there could be between typhus and crime? Could there be a doubt that the same condition of things and habits of life which gave rise to fever, also powerfully stimulated to the perpetration of crime. If the hon. Member would consider the modes of life too prevalent amongst some unfortunate classes, and the noxious influences by which they were surrounded, he would perceive with the slightest consideration that their operation on the physical state was such as made it impossible for them to practise many of the lessons of decency and virtue which they might have practised in their early life. The noble Lord then quoted, in illustration, the statements of Dr. Neil Arnot respecting the condition of Glasgow, and Mr. F. Cooper respecting that of Southampton:—
In Glasgow, which I first visited, it was found that the great mass of the fever cases occurred in the low wynds and dirty narrow streets and courts, in which, because lodging was there cheapest, the poorest and most destitute naturally had their abodes. From one such locality, between Argyle-street and the river, 754 of about 5,000 cases of fever which occurred in the previous year were carried to the hospitals. In a perambulation on the morning of September 24 with Mr. Chadwick, Dr. Alison, Dr. Cowan (since deceased, who had laboured so meritoriously to alleviate the misery of the poor in Glasgow), the police magistrate, and others, we examined these wynds, and to give an idea of the whole vicinity I may state as follows:—We entered a dirty low passage like a house door, which led from the street through the first house to a square court immediately behind, which court, with the exception of a narrow path round it, leading to another long passage through a second house, was occupied entirely as a dung receptacle of the most disgusting kind. Beyond this court the second passage led to a second square court, occupied in the same way by its dunghill; and from this court there was yet a third passage leading to a third court and third dungheap. There were no privies or drains there, and the dungheaps received all filth which the swarm of wretched inhabitants could give; and we learned that a considerable part of the rent of the houses was paid by the produce of the dungheaps. Thus, worse off than wild animals, many of which withdraw to a distance and conceal their ordure, the dwellers in these courts converted
their shame into a kind of money by which their lodging was to be paid! The interiors of these houses and their inmates correspond with the exteriors. We saw half-dressed wretches crowding together to be warm; and in one bed, although in the middle of the day, several women were imprisoned under a blanket, because many others who had on their backs all the articles of dress that belonged to the party were then out of doors in the streets. This picture is so shocking that, without ocular proof, one would be disposed to doubt the possibility of the facts; and yet there is, perhaps, no old town in Europe that does not furnish parallel examples. London, before the great fire of 1666, had few drains, and had many such scenes, and the consequence was a pestilence occurring at intervals of about 12 years, each destroying at an average about a fourth of the inhabitants. Who can wonder that pestilential disease should originate and spread in such situations? And, as a contrast, it may be observed here, that when the kelp manufacture lately ceased on the western shores of Scotland, a vast population of the lowest class of people, who had been supported chiefly by the wages of kelp labour, remained in extreme want, with cold, hunger, and almost despair pressing them down—yet, as their habitations were scattered and in pure air, cases of fever did not arise among them.
With respect to Southampton, Mr. Francis Cooper, surgeon, stated—
During the period of my parochial attendance on the poor, I have more than once been compelled, in the depth of winter, and at midnight, to stand in the street, and walk to and fro till my assistance has been required, not being able to breathe the air of the apartment in which the wretched sufferer lay. And very recently, on being sent for to a poor woman, I was obliged to absent myself till the very moment of parturition, the air being so bad, so offensive, that a sort of stupor and lassitude rendered me unable to remain. On visiting the patient the following morning, I was curious to ascertain the actual dimensions of the outlet at the back of the tenement, and found it six feet long by three feet wide, and at the end of the yard, so called, a privy was erected, only about three feet deep, and from which the urine and other liquid deposits were carried away by ground leakage, thus keeping up continual smells of a most noxious character, and acting as one of the most active agents of destruction to health. The rooms, too—only one above and below—were so low and small, so ill-contrived, as to be unfit for human residence; the structural arrangements so utterly bad as to be a reproach, not only to our civilisation, but to our very humanity. There was no water laid on, no convenience for stowage, the coals being under the stairs, and the pantry (I suppose I must call it so) being placed between the back door, opening on the yard and the sitting-room, into which every breeze from the west carried the effluvium from the spot at the back of the dwelling, and which, in warm weather, was continually breathed by the occupiers, whose powers of resistance to the deadly influence of such malaria could not possibly continue for any length of time. The tenements, several in number, were erected at the back of others of large dimensions, and on the side of undrained privies, without drainage, without water, with no positive useful structural arrangement of
any kind—mere brick and mortar run up, as the technical expression is, no party-wall (the Act of Lord Normanby is constantly evaded), no basement elevation, no internal appliance for securing comfort or preserving health, and yet 3s. 6d. per week was paid for rent, 9l. 2s. a year, or 18 per cent, for what could not have amounted to more than 50l. or 60l., at the outside, as the original cost of erection. Who can wonder at the poverty and wretchedness of the poor? Who can be surprised that disease makes such havoc amongst the labouring population? Need we comment on the disastrous tendencies which such a state of things suggests?
The unhappy beings who were compelled to live in scenes of such putridity and filth grew gradually debilitated and powerless. They became unable to do a day's work, and, sinking into the most abject condition of pauperism, were tempted to perpetrate deeds of violence, and to commit crimes of the foulest and most disgraceful description. There was no man whose evidence on matters affecting the poor was of higher authority than Dr. Southwood Smith; and in his examination before the Commissioners for Inquiring into the State of Large Towns and Populous Districts, he gives the following evidence:—
Do you think that neglect of decency and comfort is likely to render those persons reckless of consequences, and inclined to a mode of getting their living dishonestly?—The neglect of the decencies of life must have a debasing effect on the human mind; and hopeless want naturally produces recklessness. There is a point of wretchedness which is incompatible with the existence of any respect for the peace or property of others; and to look in such a case for obedience to the laws when there is the slightest prospect of violating them with impunity, is to expect to reap where you have not sown.
I have myself seen a young man, 20 years of age, sleeping in the same bed with his sister, a young woman 16 or 17 years old. That incestuous intercourse takes place under these circumstances there is too much reason to believe; and that when unmarried young men and women sleep together in the same room, the women become common to the men, is stated in evidence as a positive fact; but I regard another inevitable effect of this state of things as no less pernicious; it is one of the influences which, for want of a better term, may be called unhumanising, because it tends to weaken and destroy the feelings and affections which are distinctive of the human being, and which raise him above the level of the brute. I have sometimes checked myself in the wish that men of high station and authority would visit these abodes of their less fortunate fellow-creatures, and witness with their own eyes the scenes presented there; for I have thought that the same end might be answered in a way less disagreeable to them. They have only to visit the Zoological Gardens, and to observe the state of society in that large room which is appropriated to a particular class of animals, where every want is relieved and every appetite and passion gratified in full view of the whole community. In the
filthy and crowded streets in our large towns and cities you see human faces retrograding, sinking down to the level of these brute tribes, and you find manners appropriate to the degradation. Can any one wonder that there is among these classes of the people so little intelligence—so slight an approach to humanity—so total an absence of domestic affection, and of moral and religious feeling? The experiment has been long tried on a large scale with a dreadful success, affording the demonstration that if, from early infancy, you allow human beings to live like brutes, you can degrade them down to their level, leaving to them scarcely more intellect, and no feelings and affections proper to human minds and hearts. Have you examined frequently the houses of individuals among the poor in these neglected districts?—Yes. Have you noticed particularly the state of the air in their apartments?—I have; and it sometimes happens to me in my visits to them, as physician to the Eastern Dispensary, that I am unable to stay in the room even to write the prescription. I am obliged, after staying the necessary time at the bedroom of the patient, to go into the air, or to stand at the door, and write the prescription; for, such is the offensive and unwholesome state of the air, that I cannot breathe it even for that short time. What must it be to live in such an atmosphere, and to go through the process of disease in it?
There was another witness also, whose testimony on such questions as those was of the very highest importance, the Rev. J. Clay, chaplain of Preston gaol; and he too was roost decidedly of opinion that the physical condition of human beings exercised a most potent influence over their moral condition:—
It should be impressed upon every one desirous of the melioration of his kind, that filthiness of person and sordidness of mind are usually united; and if you would banish squalor and sickness from the labourers' cottage, you must remove ignorance and corruption from his head and heart. Amidst the dirt and disease of filthy back courts and alleys, and yards, vices and crimes are lurking altogether unimagined by those who have never visited such abodes.
Nothing could be more distinct than the rev. gentleman's statement of the connexion between disease and crime, and between filth and immorality. His own personal observation entirely corroborated the testimony of Dr. Southwood Smith and Mr. Clay. From the examinations he had himself made, as well as from the evidence he had been able to collect, he had arrived at the conclusion that more than one half of the habits of intoxication which disgraced large towns and populous districts arose from the sanitary condition in which the population were permitted to live. It was impossible to visit the squalid localities in which the poor were huddled together in many of the towns of England, and to view their pallid, sinking, worn-out forms,
and their livid, hueless faces, without experiencing a feeling of compassion which almost prompted one to justify the act of human beings, who, to escape from the contemplation of their unutterable anguish, and to prop a sinking constitution, had recourse to ardent spirits, or other modes of fictitious excitement. He had gone over the records of the fever hospitals of London, and was enabled to trace in them the connexion between the sanitary and moral condition of the people. He had also discovered this terrible and startling truth, that fever, which was the offspring of bad air and defective drainage, fell, in the large proportion of cases, not on children, not on old people, but on adults in the very prime of life. It did not cut off those who, being very young, could not contribute to the general prosperity of the realm; nor those who, being very old, were a burden to it; but it hurried to the grave the heads of families, who left behind them a flock of children and a widow or widower, as the case might be, to be sustained out of the parish funds, or by the charity of private individuals. If the hon. Member for West Surrey, or any one else, doubted this statement, he would implore of him to perambulate the pauper districts of the metropolis, and judge for himself. He would then be able to know, by means of personal inquiries, whether the fact was so, and also whether the poor people thus miserably circumstanced were or were not sensible of their condition, and did or did not desire to be relieved from it. He (Lord Ashley) had repeatedly heard, from the lips of the poor themselves, this sickening and awful complaint—the full force of which might be felt with peculiar emphasis, just at this moment when we were enjoying such delightful weather—that they looked with terror at the approach of fine weather. What was a blessing to others was to them a positive curse; for they assured him that when the sun shone forth in its full splendour, the "summer stinks"—that was their phrase—became altogether intolerable. Anything more pitiable, more touching, or more deplorable than that complaint, it was impossible to imagine. But the most cogent aspect in which this question could be viewed, was that which had reference to the influence of the physical condition of those poor people on their moral nature. Let them collect the evidence of all the clergymen of all religious denominations—let them collect the evidence of all the Scrip-
ture readers, district visitors, and city missionaries throughout the kingdom—and if, out of the entire body, there could be found twenty to deny that there was an intimate connexion of misery with filth, and of crime with both—if there could be found twenty to deny that the connexion between the moral and physical condition of the poor was most intimate and inevitable, he (Lord Ashley) would not only oppose the present Bill, but would undertake to join any man or any number of men in an effort to resist any proposition that might at any future period be made to make this question the subject for a legislative enactment. His noble Friend the Member for Plymouth had been taunted for saying that all attempts to diffuse education amongst the poor were little better than vain and profitless, so long as they were permitted to continue in their present sanitary condition; but the noble Lord had said nothing more than had been already expressed on many occasions by others. He (Lord Ashley) concurred unreservedly in the statement, and was most distinctly of opinion that it was next to impossible that any genuine or lasting good should result from education so long as Parliament left the people in their present condition. His experience of the ragged schools confirmed him in the conviction, for he there saw the extreme difficulty, if not the absolute impossibility, of training children in the way they should go, who, after school hours, were permitted to return to the filthy purlieus from which they had issued in the morning, there to unlearn in one hour what their preceptors had spent a week in endeavouring to teach them. In a few isolated cases the power of education might prevail over all evil influences; but on the great mass of cases its beneficial effect would be wholly counteracted. He had to thank the House for the kindness with which they have heard him, and should apologise for having trespassed at such length on their attention. In conclusion, he would express an earnest hope that the House would permit the Bill to go into Committee, there to undergo such alterations and amendments as might be considered necessary. He trusted that they would concede thus much; and by so doing make one onward step to the recovery of those unhappy people, and to the recognition of their right to be placed on a level with sentient and immortal beings.
§ MR. MUNTZ hoped that such improvements would be made in the Bill in Com- 788 mittee as would render it useful to society, and acceptable to the country at large. If it should come out of Committee no better than it went in, it would of course be competent for the House to reject it on the third reading. He did not wish to contradict any statement of the noble Lord the Member for Bath, whose intentions were uniformly so pure and philanthropic that one was disposed to hear with sympathy whatever he said or did; but he could not refrain from expressing an apprehension that the noble Lord's zeal might induce him to expect from the Bill results which could never be realised by any sanitary measure. All the sanitary measures that were ever concocted could not confer longevity on a needle pointer, a gun-barrel maker, or a type maker. The principle of centralisation was inculcated in the present Bill to far too great an extent. There was no sufficient reason that he had ever heard why the old practice of the English constitution, which left local affairs to the management of local boards, should be departed from. He was willing to admit, however, that it might, perhaps, be a very wise and judicious proceeding to have persons travelling through the different cities, towns, and boroughs of the kingdom, to ascertain from personal inspection whether the duties devolving on the local authorities with respect to the sanitary condition of the people were properly attended to or not. The persons so inspecting should send reports to the Secretary of State; and in cases where the local authorities persisted in a neglect of duty, the propriety of compelling them to act properly should, of course, be at once decided on. The Bill might be materially improved in all matters which involved the principle of centralisation, and by the introduction of provisions which would ensure to those who were to supply the money necessary for its operation the privilege of having the management of it in their own hands. He would not oppose their going into Committee, but was decidedly of opinion that great improvements ought to be introduced into it before it was imposed on the country.
§ MR. JOHN STUART complained that there had been much misrepresentation of the views of those who sat on the same side with him, and opposed going into Committee on the Bill. Their true motives and views had been properly propounded by his Friend the hon. Member for Oxfordshire, and by the hon. Member for Dorsetshire (Mr. G. Bankes), who had 789 seconded the Amendment now under consideration. What the hon. Member for Oxfordshire had proposed was, that before going into Committee they should thoroughly understand certain principles which ought to guide their proceedings in Committee. Surely nothing could be more rational or more judicious. The hon. Member for Manchester had, with great truth, observed that the principle of centralisation, which was found so often in the Bill that it might justly be termed its pervading principle, was highly objectionable. So far from thinking that that principle of centralisation was essential for such a measure as the present, he was decidedly of opinion that it would be fatal to this and any other measure that might hereafter be introduced on the subject. He was not alone in that opinion. It was shared by every one who had given the matter his unprejudiced attention; and he was not without hope that the noble Lord who had charge of the Bill would on consideration adopt that opinion himself. The Bill ought not to confer upon any one man in London, or any one class of men, be their number three or five, or what it might, the power of domineering over and dictating to every borough, city, and town in the kingdom. The hon. Member for Oxfordshire had declared his readiness to go at once into Committee, if the Government would give any assurance that in Committee they would consent to consider that question as well as the most objectionable power proposed to be given to the Privy Council (but which would in fact be given to the central board in London under the order of the Privy Council), of repealing all private Acts of Parliament now in existence, relating to drainage and sewers, without Parliament knowing or hearing anything whatever on the subject. He would also consent to go into Committee, if Government would give an assurance of their readiness to reconsider those two most exceptionable principles—principles which he ventured to predict would be fatal to the success of that and of any other measure that was tainted with them. He hoped that the noble Lord at the head of the Government, instead of lecturing the Gentlemen opposed to him for delay, which it was in the power of the noble Lord himself to avert, would, if he found that they had made out a case in support of their views, adopt it, and act manfully upon it. He was sure that the Government had in- 790 tended to bring in a good Bill, and in order to that end they had bestowed great pains in collecting a mass of evidence to guide them. But he feared that they had been wofully misled by views impressed on them by certain parties, of whom he would not say that they were interested, but that they had been themselves led astray by most erroneous notions. Mr. Chadwick, whom he believed to be an intelligent, industrious, and well-informed gentleman (he only knew him from his works), had collected all the evidence in favour of centralisation that could be anywhere procured, and it was published in theReport of the Sub-Committee of the Association for Sanitary Improvement. To the result of that accumulation of testimony he begged to call attention. That Sub-Committee had prepared eleven questions which were levelled at the inefficiency of all local authorities. One of those questions related to how far it was possible to find in any town in Great Britain persons fit to be entrusted with the imposing or collecting of a rate—[Viscount MORPETH: Perhaps it is right I should state that, to the best of my belief, Mr. Chadwick had no concern whatever with the publication to which the hon. and learned Member alludes.] That announcement of the noble Lord was rather strange, as the copy of the report from which he (Mr. Stuart) was reading had been sent to him from Mr. Chadwick himself. He had been led to understand that Mr. Chadwick was the author; but whether that gentleman wrote the pamphlet or not, it was at least certain that his opinions were embodied in it. The tenth question was, "Is there in the town any person who would be considered an authority with reference to sanitary work?" An answer was returned to that question from various towns, great and small, and the result of the answer was given thus:—Out of fifty-nine cases the answer in forty-nine cases was "No." The eleventh question was, "Whether there was any person who would be considered an authority with respect to collecting or imposing a rate?" The reply was "No;" and amongst the towns comprised in that reply was the city of London. The fact of the matter was, the Bill, as framed on the principle now embodied in it, was a libel on every town in the kingdom. The hon. Gentleman the Member for West Surrey had given them a short account of the provisions of this Bill, which prominently brought into view the objectionable parts of it. It appeared that by the principle of centralisation embodied 791 in this Bill, the central board might issue orders to enter the house of any man in any town in England, make such improvements as they thought fit, at such time as they thought fit, and then compel him to pay for their improvements, however much he might dislike them. He would say that was a monstrous clause, and that the people of England would never stand the imposition of such a power. He hoped the noble Lord would define what the powers of the central board were to be. The principle of centralisation, in his opinion, if worth anything, was to give an absolute power to the board in London in the administration of all the provisions of the Bill. They might depend upon it that the existence of a central power, with absolute authority to issue its orders from London, would prevent the due working of this Bill. Instead of now being at work in the Committee examining the clauses of this Bill, in order to pass it as speedily as possible into a law, the House was now in the second night of a debate, in which the question to be considered was whether the centralising principle was one which ought to be carried to the extent to which this Bill proposed to carry it. He thought that the suggestion of the hon. Member for Oxfordshire should not be rejected. That hon. Member had said that, instead of a central board permanently existing for the purpose of meddling and interfering, and, if they pleased, domineering over every town in England on sanitary matters, they should take the Inclosure Act, introduced by the noble Lord the Member for Falkirk in the year 1845, as a model for the present Bill; and he (Mr. Stuart) did not hear any one say a word in answer to that suggestion of the hon. Member for Oxfordshire. He did not say that the present Bill could not be made a good Bill. If the noble Lord would only consider the nature of the provisions of the Bill of 1845 with reference to the constitution of the central board, he entertained the most confident expectations it would end in the model being adopted in reference to the present Bill. He submitted that the Government should consider the matter before they plunged into Committee. If they went into Committee with the Bill in its present shape, it would be impossible to get it through in six months. The noble Lord the Member for Falkirk so entirely agreed with them in thinking that a proper sanitary measure was necessary, that he did not oppose the Motion to go into Committee; but he had 792 given notice of a Motion which would knock the Bill on the head—he meant so far as the principle of centralisation was concerned. He understood the noble Lord to give notice to move the omission in the Committee of the 4th and 5th Clauses. They were the clauses to authorise the appointment of the General Board of Health and its supervision over all the towns in the country. They were the clauses by which three gentlemen in Somerset House, or in whatever locality this board was to exist, were to have absolute power over all the local authorities in the kingdom. That, in fact, was the principle they were contending about, and the principle which the hon. Member for Oxfordshire wished to have considered and discussed before going into Committee. Now, if they went into Committee, and if the 4th and 5th Clauses were expunged, what would become of the Bill? He defied the Government to carry this Bill with its centralising powers, and with the powers to the Privy Council to repeal all or any of the local Acts of Parliament that had been passed. He implored of the Government to give way on this point, and allow them to go into Committee, and proceed on a scheme different from that now proposed by the noble Lord so as to carry through an Efficient measure. He would remind the House that the Bill of the noble Lord the Member for Falkirk, in 1845, was opposed by those who now supported the Government, but who at that time sat on the Opposition benches. The noble Lord sought to appoint commissioners for the purposes of inclosure, to whom, for a time, the power should be committed; and when that proposition was made, it was urged to give the power to the Tithe Commissioners. The nature and scope of the objection urged in argument was, that the Enclosure Act was a private and local matter, and that it was wrong to appoint a board in London, having power to extend over the whole kingdom and interfere in private and local matters. The noble Lord the Member for Falkirk was opposed by the present Government: they thought it too much that the then Government should have the appointment of a commission; they told them to renounce the patronage and give the office to the Tithe Commissioners, whom the previous Whig Government had appointed themselves. Now this Bill would give an immense amount of patronage to the Government, which ought to be entrusted to the local boards. Although he would not go 793 so far as to say that the Government had framed the Bill in its present objectionable shape in order merely to create patronage, yet he was confident that motive would be attributed out of doors. Unfortunately Whig Governments had exhibited at all times wonderful powers of creating places, with proper salaries for their supporters. The noble Lord at the head of the Government ought to know what was said out of doors on this subject. He (Mr. Stuart) had heard it stated, and truly stated, that such was the wonderful power of the Whigs to create places and salaries, that they had actually so contrived it that out of the famine in Ireland ten thousand pieces of patronage had been created; and his noble Friend the Member for Lynn (Lord G. Bentinck), always remarkable for his accuracy and research, informed him that the number was understated at 10,000, and that, in fact, the number of persons employed in the distribution of relief to the famishing poor of Ireland was about sixteen thousand. The other principle of the measure was also objectionable, and on stronger grounds, if there could be stronger grounds of objection than those he had mentioned. That principle was to entrust the Privy Council, at the suggestion of any person, with the power of repealing all or any of the local Acts throughout the country. They objected to that scheme; they would say to the Government, let them have a body of men on the principle of the officers under the Enclosure Act of 1845; but let them not have power to set aside what had been done by the Legislature, at the suggestion of any general board. Let them recollect that no local Acts were now passed without inquiry; and were they to give a power to the Privy Council, at the suggestion of the General Board of Health, to repeal those Acts? He protested against going into Committee on this Bill until he was satisfied as to the principle on which it was to be carried out.
§ CAPTAIN PECHELL was willing to believe that the noble Lord who had been charged with this Bill was desirous of carrying out useful objects so far as the same was in his power. He was aware that there existed a great feeling throughout the country that something ought to be done with regard to the sanitary question. He had been a Member of that House for fourteen years, and during the whole of that time he had uniformly opposed every attempt to carry out the principle of centralisation. He believed that Mr. Chad- 794 wick was a very able gentleman, and he thought that the country was under great obligations to Mr. Chadwick, inasmuch as it was owing to the evidence which that gentleman had given before the Andover Committee, that the reform had taken place in the composition of the Poor Law Commission. No one could have heard that evidence without being grateful to him for what he had done to destroy root and branch the centralisation system. He would aid the hon. Member for Newark in all the attempts which he might make to prevent local bodies being brought under the government of any central body.
§ MR. W. MILES said, the most important question for the consideration of the House was, whether the powers sought to be given by the Government to the central board were not more than sufficient. Without pledging himself to the details of the measure, he admitted that it was a great improvement on the Bill of last year, and that if the inspectors were paid on the same principle as those appointed under the Commons Inclosure Bill, the greatest objections to the measure would be removed. He was perfectly satisfied that some Government authority must be exercised, and believed the noble Lord had placed the local authority in the proper hands, as the town-council of each borough were to elect the inspectors. He lamented that the noble Lord had not introduced some measure of the kind for the metropolis, in which there were 2,000,000 of people, and where thousands were carried off annually by pestilence. From a book which came out a few years ago, it appeared that the least mortality was in the agricultural districts. [The hon. Member then read a statement of the average mortality in Wiltshire of three classes, namely, professions, tradesmen and mechanics, servants and labourers, and, comparing it with the average mortality of similar classes residing in the Whitechapel union, the Strand union, Liverpool, and other towns, showed that the mortality of the latter places was greatly in excess.] These facts showed the actual necessity for a Bill of this kind. There were, however, certain clauses in the Bill which he should oppose in Committee.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE, amid calls for a division, remarked that the measure would subvert the local administration wherever it came into operation. It had been stated that the appointment of officers under the 795 Bill was vested, not in the Central Commission, but in the town-council. But the Central Commission retained in their own hands the power of deciding as to the number of officers to be appointed. That was a most objectionable part of the Bill, and would cause the nominees of the Government to be appointed in every district.
§ MR. WYLD was understood to say, that his constituents entirely approved of the appointment of a central board as the only means of preventing local jobbing; and in that view he entirely concurred. The working classes, the large masses of the people, were favourable to the measure as a whole; but there were certainly serious objections to some of the clauses, which would require consideration in the Committee.
§ MR. URQUHART said, that as the Government had already given, in one or two instances, a pledge of their willingness to make concessions, he would take it as an earnest of their future intentions. He would, therefore, withdraw his Amendment.
§ House in Committee.
§ On Clause 1— "Act may from time to time be applied to any part of England and Wales except city of London," &c.
§ MR. BANKES moved, as an Amendment, the omission of all the words after the word "Wales." The result of this Amendment would be, to make the Bill a general one, instead of being an exceptional one. As the Bill was at present constituted, London and other metropolitan districts were excluded from its operation. He begged leave to disclaim any personal imputation upon the noble Lord in the observations winch he made the other night, when he alluded to the wretched and unwholesome state of the districts in which the House of Commons was situated. But it was a fact that tall chimneys o'ertopped even the palace which they were then building, from which most noxious gases were emitted, the effects of which were visible in the withered trees and stunted vegetation in the neighbouring squares; and so much did this evil prevail, that a school of ancient celebrity (Westminster) had been broken up and abandoned since Saturday last. He had no scruple in proposing the omission of the words, as he believed the inclusion of London and the metropolitan districts would have the effect of removing a great deal of the heart- 796 burnings and ill-feeling which the measure had excited throughout the country.
§ VISCOUNT MORPETH said: I am quite willing to concede to the hon. Member for Dorsetshire, that I do consider it a defect in the present Bill that it does not include London and other metropolitan districts; and whether it be a defect or not, I must say, that it was my original intention to have included them—an intention which was only abandoned when I found the insuperable difficulties which lay in the way of all general legislation upon this point. But I do not think it is surprising that in a community so vast as tins is—in a state of society so complicated—I am not exaggerating when I say that there are more than a hundred local Acts affecting these localities—I say it is not surprising that we cannot embody legislation for the metropolis in one general Act. For the same reason I regret that Scotland and Ireland are not included; and that they are not so is not because they do not want a code of sanitary legislation, but because the different circumstances of those countries make us think it would be wise to bring in separate measures to effect our object. At all events I do not see that the exclusion of London makes against the general principle of tile Bill. If the Bill is serviceable, the hon. Gentleman ought not to vote against it because London is excluded: he ought to permit its application to the rest of the country. It would not be possible in the same limits, and the same period of time, to make the Bill applicable to the metropolitan districts. With respect to the words which the hon. Gentleman proposes to omit, I must inform him that there is a commission of sewerage occupying a range of five miles from St. Paul's. If I had a map, I could show him the extent; but I thought that the existence of this commission and this range of sewerage made a very reasonable limitation to the provisions of the Bill. Without pledging myself to as much as I would wish to do, I hope that no reason can be urged which would alter my views, and that I soon may be at liberty to direct my attention to the case of London.
§ COLONEL SIBTHORP: The Scripture says that there is joy over one sinner that repenteth. I am very glad that the noble Lord has followed the advice of the hon. Member for Dorsetshire, and that the city of London is to be included, or that there is to be a separate Bill for that purpose. 797 He found in the 1st Clause that the cities of London and Westminster were to be exempted. He had all along expected that it was convenient to exclude London—Westminster scratched London, and London scratched Westminster. Was he now to understand that the Bill was to apply to the country at large? He fully agreed with the hon. Member for Dorsetshire, in wishing London and Westminster to be included in the Bill; for if you were going to purify, cleanse, and scour, why exclude London and Westminster, which were, perhaps, more impure than other towns? He should oppose the 1st Clause of the Bill, but that should not prevent him also opposing every subsequent clause; for the whole Bill was a job—it was a Government job. He meant to say that it was a desire on the part of the Government to saddle the country with heavy expenses to feed and fatten men who were poor and lean. Therefore he objected to the Billin toto. From Clause 1 to Clause 152, there was not a single clause that he could approve of. He lamented that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was not here; perhaps his blushes detained him; for although there was a deficiency in the revenue of between two and three millions, yet the House was called upon to create new Commissioners without any intimation from the noble Lord what their salaries were to be, or any intimation what was to be the number of officers, clerks, &c.
§ The MARQUESS of GRANBY expressed his desire to have some explanation of the reason why London was excluded from this Bill. At one time he thought it was rather slighting of the noble Lord to exclude the first city of the country from the benefits to be derived from the Bill; but now we were told that London was not to be altogether deprived of the benefits of the Bill, but that there was to be another and a special Bill brought in for the city of London. He could not help regretting that his noble Friend had not listened to the advice which had been tendered to him by the hon. and learned Member for Oxfordshire. Had he done so, he might have succeeded in his object of ameliorating the condition of the poor, and have laid a foundation for raising them in the moral and intellectual scale. He despaired of the Bill, as long as it contained the un-English, unconstitutional principle of centralisation. There was no chance of being able to eradicate this odious principle in 798 time to enable them to pass the Bill as it ought to be.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE observed, that the noble Lord had stated that there were 100 local Acts in London; but had he any idea of the number of local Acts in the country which were to be placed at the discretion of the Privy Council by the Executive?
§ VISCOUNT MORPETH: It is not the number of scattered Local Acts which makes the difficulty; it is the 100 in the lump.
§ MR. HUDSON said, the noble Lord had had ample time to introduce a Bill for the city of London. On a former occasion when London was excluded from the operation of the Municipal Act, the Minister of the day promised to introduce a separate Bill; but no such Bill had been brought forward, and a strong impression prevailed in the country that a similar course would be pursued with respect to the present measure. He had just come from York, where the town-council had passed a resolution against the Bill. Under the municipal system, where the suffrage was almost universal, the people had shown themselves quite capable of managing their own affairs, and he did not see why they should be unable to attend to sanitary measures. The great ground of complaint at present was, that if a man built a street of houses, there was no power to compel him to make a sufficient drainage. That was a reason for a measure to enforce drainage; but it was no reason for a measure of centralisation. It seemed to be supposed that all judgment rested in the city of London. He knew the very reverse. Some years ago he had had a requisition from the holders of 3,800,000l. out of 4,000,000l. of stock, requesting him to take the management of a company out of the hands of the London directors. The principle of government in this country was, that we should not be taxed but by our representatives. The town-council of York were elected by the people of York. He was perfectly satisfied that the system of centralisation was repugnant to the feelings of the people; and there would be an opposition from all quarters to that system, but not to a Bill that would really improve the health of towns. In order to remove one blot from the Bill, he should vote with the hon. Member for Dorsetshire to include London. It was said that there were a number of Acts in London; 799 but why not deal with them as with the Acts regulating provincial towns? Every new constituted body in a town was attended with certain expense to that town; but give the power to the corporation, and they would have their own officers who would conduct matters better than the new constituted body. The new set of officers would double the expenses of the town. For these reasons he hoped the noble Lord at the head of the Government would take into consideration the strong feeling which existed in the country against centralisation, and remodel the Bill.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL: The hon. Gentleman, following the example of a great many others, has spoken of this Bill as a Bill entirely of centralisation, whereas I should say that 9-10ths of the Bill give a power to these local bodies. The main effect of the Bill is to give to these local bodies that power which the hon. Member says they have not. There is, no doubt, a part of the Bill which does give a central control; and when we come to that clause, the question for the Committee to consider will be, first, whether there should be any such central authority; and next, whether the plan proposed by the Government, or that proposed by the noble Member for Falkirk should be adopted. I confess I think it far better that the Committee should consider the essential question, and the practical question, and not, misled by the word "centralisation," shut their eyes to that which is the essential object of the Bill, namely, giving local bodies the power of making sanitary laws. If we confine the Bill to the limits of corporations, it would be necessary they should have powers in the manner we propose.
§ MR. BROTHERTON had no hesitation in saying that this measure was absolutely necessary. No class was more interested in passing it than the working classes. A great deal had been said about this bugbear "centralisation." The fact was, the noble Lord had made those concessions with regard to this Bill which gave the power entirely to the local bodies; and if the citizens of York were so unanimous as the hon. Member stated, they had no occasion to apply to the Government. The hon. Member must recollect that this Bill was a great boon to the country.
§ The Committee divided on the question that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause:—Ayes 240; Noes 71: Majority 169.
|List of the AYES.|
|Abdy, T. N.||Dundas, Sir D.|
|Acland, Sir T. D.||East, Sir J. B.|
|Adair, H. E.||Ebrington, Visct.|
|Anson, hon. Col.||Elliot, hon. J. E.|
|Armstrong, Sir A.||Estcourt, J. B. B.|
|Armstrong, R. B.||Euston, Earl of|
|Arundel and Surrey, Earl of||Evans, J.|
|Ashley, Lord||Evans, W.|
|Bagshaw, J.||Ferguson, Sir R. A.|
|Bailey, J.||Filmer, Sir E.|
|Baines, M. T.||Fitzwilliam, hon. G. W.|
|Baring, rt. hn. Sir F. T.||Foley, J. H. H.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Fordyce, A. D.|
|Barrington, Visct.||Forster, M.|
|Barron, Sir H. W.||Fortescue, hon. J. W.|
|Beckett, W.||Fox, R. M.|
|Bell, J.||Fox, M. J.|
|Bellew, R. M.||Glyn, G. C.|
|Benbow, J.||Goddard, A. L.|
|Berkeley, hon. Capt.||Godson, R.|
|Berkeley, hon. H. F.||Granger, T. C.|
|Blackall, S. W.||Greenall, G.|
|Blake, M. J.||Greene, J.|
|Bouverie, hon. E. P.||Greene, T.|
|Bowles, Adm.||Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Bowring, Dr.||Grey, R. W.|
|Boyle, hon. Col.||Grosvenor, Lord R.|
|Brand, T.||Hall, Sir B.|
|Bright, J.||Hallyburton, Lord J. F.|
|Brotherton, J.||Hamilton, G. A.|
|Brown, W.||Hanner, Sir J.|
|Browne, R. D.||Hardcastle, J. A.|
|Buller, C.||Hawes, B.|
|Bunbury, E. H.||Hay, Lord J.|
|Burroughes, H. N.||Hayes, Sir E.|
|Buxton, Sir E. N.||Hayter, W. G.|
|Cardwell, E.||Headlam, T. E.|
|Carew, W. H. P.||Heathcoat, J.|
|Carter, J. B.||Heathcote, G. J.|
|Caulfield, J. S.||Heneage, E.|
|Cavendish, hon. C. C.||Henry, A.|
|Cavendish, hon. G. H.||Heywood, J.|
|Cavendish, W. G.||Hindley, C.|
|Chaplin, W. J.||Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Charteris, hon. F.||Hobhouse, T. B.|
|Clay, J.||Hodges, T. L.|
|Clay, Sir W.||Hogg, Sir J. W.|
|Clements, hon. C. S.||Hollond, R.|
|Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G.||Howard, hon. C. W. G.|
|Clifford, H. M.||Howard, hon. E. G. G.|
|Cobden, R.||Hume, J.|
|Cockburn, A. J. E.||Hutt, W.|
|Cocks, T. S.||Inglis, Sir R. H.|
|Courtenay, Lord||Jackson, M.|
|Cowper, hon W. S.||Jervis, Sir J.|
|Craig, W. G.||Johnstone, Sir J.|
|Crawford, W. S.||Keppel, hon. G. T.|
|Currie, H.||Kershaw, J.|
|Curteis, H. M.||Kildare, Marq. of|
|Dalrymple, Capt.||King, hon. P. J. L.|
|Davie, Sir. H. R. F.||Labouchere, rt. hon. H|
|Denison, W. J.||Langston, J. H.|
|Devereux, J. T.||Lascelles, hon. E.|
|Dodd, G.||Lascelles, hon. W. S.|
|Douglas, Sir C. E.||Lewis, G. C.|
|Drummond, H.||Lincoln, Earl of|
|Duff, G. S.||Lindsay, hon. Col.|
|Duncan, G.||Loch, J.|
|Duncombe, hon. A.||Lockhart, A. E.|
|Dundas, Adm.||M'Naghten, Sir E.|
|Mahon, The O'Gorman||Russell, F. C. H.|
|Maitland, T.||Russell, hon. E. S.|
|Mangles, R, D.||Rutherfurd, A.|
|Marshall, J. G.||Salwey, Col.|
|Marshall, W.||Sandars, G.|
|Martin, S.||Scrope, G. P.|
|Masterman, J.||Seymer, H. K.|
|Matheson, Col.||Shafto, R. D.|
|Maule, rt. hon. F.||Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.|
|Melgund, Visct.||Simeon, J.|
|Mitchell, T. A.||Slaney, R. A.|
|Morpeth, Visct.||Smith, rt. hon. R. V.|
|Morris, D.||Smith, J. A.|
|Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.||Smith, M. T.|
|Mowatt, F.||Smith, J. B.|
|Mulgrave, Earl of||Somerville, rt. hon. Sir W|
|Newry & Morne, Visct.||Stanley, hon. E. J.|
|Norreys, Lord||Stansfield, W. R. C.|
|Norreys, Sir D. J.||Stanton, W. H.|
|O'Connell, M. J.||Strickland, Sir G.|
|Ogle, S. C. H.||Stuart, Lord D.|
|Owen, Sir J.||Stuart, H.|
|Paget, Lord A.||Sturt, H. G.|
|Paget, Lord C.||Talbot, C. R. M.|
|Paget, Lord G.||Talfourd, Serj.|
|Palmer, R.||Thicknesse, R. A.|
|Palmer, R.||Thompson, Col.|
|Parker, J.||Thompson, Ald.|
|Patten, J. W.||Thornely, T.|
|Pattison, J.||Tollemache, hon. F. J.|
|Pechell, Capt.||Towneley, C.|
|Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.||Towneley, J.|
|Perfect, R.||Traill, G.|
|Peto, S. M.||Turner, E.|
|Philips, Sir G. R.||Tynte, Col.|
|Pigott, F.||Vane, Lord H.|
|Pilkington, J.||Verney, Sir. H.|
|Pinney, W.||Vivian, J. H.|
|Plowden, W. H. C.||Walmsley, Sir J.|
|Power, N.||Ward, H. G.|
|Powlett, Lord W.||Watkins, Col.|
|Pugh, D.||West, F. R.|
|Rawdon, Col.||Wilson, J.|
|Reid, Col.||Wilson, M.|
|Rendlesham, Lord||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Ricardo, O.||Wood, W. P.|
|Rice, E. R.||Wyld, J.|
|Rich, H.||Wyvill, M.|
|Robartes, T. J. A.||TELLERS.|
|Romilly, J.||Tufnell, H.|
|Russell, Lord J.||Hill, Lord M.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Adderley, C. B.||Farrer, J.|
|Arkwright, G.||Fitzroy, hon. H.|
|Baldock, E. H.||Floyer, J.|
|Barkly, H.||Forbes, W.|
|Bennet, P.||Fuller, A. E.|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Galway, Visct.|
|Bentinck, Lord H.||Goring, C.|
|Beresford, W.||Granby, Marq. of|
|Boldero, H. G.||Gwyn, H.|
|Brisco, M.||Harris, hon. Capt.|
|Brooke, Lord||Henley, J. W.|
|Buck, L. W.||Hildyard, T. B. T.|
|Coles, H. B.||Hill, Lord E.|
|Colvile, C. R.||Hodgson, W. N.|
|Deedes, W.||Hood, Sir A.|
|Dick, Q.||Hotham, Lord|
|Divett, E.||Hudson, G.|
|Duncan, Visct.||Ingestre, Visct.|
|Egerton, W. T.||Jocelyn, Visct.|
|Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.||Sidney, Ald.|
|Knox, Col.||Smyth, J. G.|
|Locke, J.||Somerset, Capt.|
|Mackenzie, W. F.||Spooner, R.|
|Manners, Lord C. S.||Stafford, A.|
|Manners, Lord G.||Stuart, J.|
|Meux, Sir H.||Tollemache, J.|
|Miles, P. W. S.||Townshend, Capt.|
|Miles, W.||Tyrell, Sir J. T.|
|Morgan, O.||Urquhart, D.|
|Muntz, G. F.||Waddington, H. S.|
|Napier, J.||Walpole, S. H.|
|Packe, C. W.||Walter, J.|
|Renton, J. C.||Welby, G. E.|
|Repton, G. W. J.||Wynn, Sir W. W.|
|Scholefield, W.||Bankes, G.|
|Sibthorp, Col.||Newdegate, C. N.|
§ MR. URQUHART then moved the insertion of words in the clause with the view of excluding from the operation of the Bill the borough of Stafford. The whole of the medical men of that town had signed a petition against the measure; and he had now to claim for the borough which he represented, the same immunities which the Government were prepared to extend to the metropolitan districts, and to Scotland and Ireland. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving a verbal alteration for the purpose specified.
§ COLONEL SIBTHORP seconded the Amendment, and declared his conviction that Lincoln ought also to be excluded from the operation of the Bill. If the Government wanted to purify, they ought to scour the Treasury Bench; there was more mud there, more dirt, more trickery, more manœuvre, more things requiring to be cleansed, than there were in the pure city which he had the honour to represent. At a future stage of the Bill, he would move the exemption of Lincoln from its operation; and he would do so, being at the same time the last man who would stand up for that or for any city, if he thought that it required the purifying and cleansing which this Bill proposed to honour it with.
§ VISCOUNT MORPETH trusted the hon. Member for Stafford would not think that he treated him with disrespect if he said that he did not think there were any particular circumstances attached to the borough of Stafford which should cause that borough to be exempted from the operation of the Bill. He hoped that the hon. Member having done his duty to his constituents by proposing the Amendment, would not think it necessary to divide the Committee upon the question.
§ VISCOUNT INGESTRE said, he had been acquainted for some years with the 803 borough of Stafford, and he believed there was no town which so much required the cleansing process as the town of Stafford.
§ Amendment withdrawn. Clause agreed to.
§ House resumed.
§ Committee to sit again.