HC Deb 02 March 1849 vol 103 cc92-6

Order for Second Reading read; Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."


opposed the Motion for the second reading of this Bill. The object of the scheme was said to be to provide a supply of pure water; but how that was to be effected by bringing the water from the upper part of the Thames, through the Paddington and Grand Junction canals—proverbially the dirtiest in the country—to a reservoir near the metropolis, he could not understand. There were in existence several water companies who had been at the expense of nearly five millions in laying down pipes to the extent of two or three thousand miles; and it would be monstrous to allow their property to be prejudiced unless the promoters of this Bill could show that they could cheapen and secure a more abundant supply. Now, complaints were frequently made that the houses of the poor were not supplied; but the cause of this was, that the landlords would not lay the water on. Again, the property of the millowners on the banks and in the vicinity of the river were utterly disregarded and lost sight of. Then the House were bound to consider the question of compensation to those whose rights were affected by this Bill. The compensation to millowners only would amount to no less than 700,000l. It was important that the House should be aware of the nature of the subscription list. The matter, as it appeared to him, was got up by solicitors and engineers. He found, indeed, that at the head of the subscription list were the names of the Parliamentary agents who had got the charge of the Bill through that House, to the amount of 205,000l. Having stated some other objections he had to the subscription list, the hon. Member concluded by moving that the Bill be read a second time on that day six months.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."


, being acquainted with the locality through a part of which it was intended to carry these works, was hound to say he thought he must in perfect fairness second the Motion for postponing the second reading of this Bill for six months. The proposition was to bring the water some thirty miles for supplying London with water, at a better level, and with a better supply than any other company; and certainly no one could oppose such an undertaking, if it could be carried out in a bonâ fide manner, and without inflicting grievous injury on property. He did not know a single individual whose property was likely to be invaded by this scheme, who were favourable to the views of the company. The landholders were opposed to them, because it was proposed to make a large aqueduct and embankments similar to those which occurred on railways; and these embankments would occupy a large portion of the land. Then there were the various millowners, possessing mills on the banks of the river at Marlow, and other places; there were on the river at short distances a series of locks, and there was a mill at every lock; and the effect of the proposed plan would be to dry up the mill heads. Again, there was another important consideration, which he begged to suggest to the House. From the statement which had been put forth by the promoters, it appeared that parties authorised by the Admiralty would proceed on a day named—which would be some days hence—for the purpose of inspecting the plans, and making the necessary inquiries. So that it appeared that the needful official inquiry had not vet been made.


said, the House would at once concede that it was most desirable that the denizens of this great metropolis should be provided with a pure and cheap supply of water. The report of the Commissioners of Sanitary Reform stated that a large number of the inhabitants were not properly supplied with pure water, and recommended that this defect should be supplied by encouraging competition. They would not have made this statement if the existing companies supplied all the water that was required. Why, at present 60,000 houses were not supplied with water. It was but fair to assume that each house was occupied by one family; but he regretted to say that in many cases each room contained a family. These parties were only supplied by means of pumps, or once or twice a week from the mains, which caused great confusion, and was a most inadequate and imperfect mode of supplying water. They had it, therefore, in evidence, that the existing companies had totally failed to supply the requirements of a large number of people. The object of the Bill was, in the words of the commissioners, to improve the supply of water, and to give it in greater quantities and at a cheaper rate to the poorer classes. Every one knew that the mass of water taken from the Thames was from the tidal portion of the river, which was most impure; so impure that he had the authority of many eminent scientific men for saying that it could not be purified by the process of filtration. Parties having land would of course receive that compensation which the Committee might award. He trusted the House would deem this a fair instance of competition, and not allow obstacles to be thrown in the way of the inhabitants of the metropolis being supplied with pure and cheap water.


said, that inasmuch as the hon. and gallant Officer, in advocating the cause of this company, had treated the matter very unfairly, it was right that he (the Earl of Lincoln), as one of the Commissioners of Sanitary Reform, to whom the gallant Officer had referred, should say a few words. The hon. and gallant Officer had quoted from a report, and it was right he (the Earl of Lincoln) should state to the House how the matter stood, more especially as this was not the first time that companies had quoted from public documents in a very unfair way. Now, the statement which he held in his hand, contained in the second report of the Board of Health of large towns and populous places, of which the Duke of Buccleuch was chairman, was to the effect stated by the hon. and gallant Officer, that on the part of the public it might fairly be required that the system of the supply of water should be greatly improved by a more ready and liberal supply to the poorer classes. If these words were taken by themselves, it would appear that the feeling of the Board was, that opposition should be encouraged as against existing companies. But the gallant Officer had omitted the sentence— But in order to improve the system of a better supply, the Legislature should enable the waterworks companies to raise sums for the improvement of their works, &c. Now he did not mean to assert that the views of the Board ought to carry weight in that House, but he thought the matter had been unfairly put.


rose to explain. He begged to say that he knew no more of the report than had been supplied him.


opposed the Bill. His hon. and gallant Friend had talked of 60,000 houses in London being unsupplied with water. Now, was that the fault of the present companies? The report of the Commissioners, already quoted, laid it down that an ample supply of water involved twelve gallons daily to each individual. Well, then, taking the inhabitants of London at 2,000,000, the supply requisite per diem on this calculation would be 24,000,000 gallons, whilst the present companies could and did supply not less than 60,000,000 gallons. If a number of houses were unsupplied, it was not the fault of any of the existing companies. He wished to notice one very unfair statement in the prospectus of the company now applying for a Bill. They stated that the companies which now supplied London from the Thames took their water between London-bridge and Battersea-bridge. Now this was not the fact. There was only one company, supplying a small district south of the Thames, which derived their supply of water from the portion of the river in question, and last year that company obtained a Bill to change the source of their supply. The other Thames companies obtained their water respectively at Kew and Hammersmith.


said, the House was now called upon to reject an offer to supply the metropolis with an abundant quantity of water at a reasonable price. It was proposed by this Bill, without the outlay of a single shilling of public money, to give an ample supply of water to every 50l. a year house for 30s. a year. He thought the opposition most unreasonable, and should support the Bill.


said, the House had been told that the metropolis was sufficiently supplied, but he could not see why another company should not be allowed to afford an additional supply. He trusted the House would not show such a disregard to the demands and wants of the metropolis, and particularly of the lower class, as to throw out the Bill.

Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the question." The House divided:—Ayes 57; Noes 137; Majority 80.

Words added. Main question, as amended, put, and agreed to.

Second reading put off for six months.