HC Deb 09 May 1848 vol 98 cc808-9

SIR HENRY WILLOUGHBY wished to put a question to the Chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests respecting the public health of the neighbourhood of Westminster. There existed a very considerable degree of fever, partaking of the character of typhus, in that locality, and this was in some degree attributed to the experiments which had been made upon the sewage. He desired to be informed whether the noble Lord had any information as to the bad effects produced by the opening of drains and sewers on the sanitary state of portions of the city of Westminster. It had been stated that various drains had been opened for the purpose of deodorising, and that they emitted very noxious vapours. He had very little faith in these deodorising projects. An eminent engineer, who had turned his attention to these subjects, undertook in the presence of several Gentlemen of that House, to clarify the filthiest water. He perfectly succeeded. Admiral Owen, who was present, was so pleased with the result of the experiment, that he drank a glass of the water, which acted upon Min as an instantaneous emetic.

LORD MORPETH said, that the hon. Gentleman was perfectly right in stating that a considerable degree of fever prevailed in the precincts of the Abbey; but as no sewer in the locality had been opened since February, he did not think it could be traced to that, but was owing to the state of the weather. He had been informed, since the hot weather had set in, that noisome smells had prevailed in other parts of the metropolis. In the precincts of Parliament he feared the drainage was deficient. He found that no cesspool had been opened since the month of February last, when a very considerable amount of frost prevailed, and when, in consequence, no harm could arise. Since the hot weather had set in, a very uniform state of ill health had been observed over the metropolis. As far as regards the precincts of Westminster, there was only one great main sewer for the carriage of offensive matter, all the remaining portion was carried away by nightmen. Dr. Vincent, the medical attendant of the Westminster School, had informed him that he had been unable to trace the presence of any fever in that neighbourhood. Recently 6,535 cesspools had been emptied in the metropolis, and he was told not only that the sanitary condition of the districts in which this had been done had been improved, but that the inhabitants had expresssed great gratitude.

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