§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."
§ MR. REPTON
rose to move that it be read a second time that day six months. It proposed to sink Artesian wells in localities most convenient to the company, and thus drain all the springs, and ruin all the mills, without making any compensation either to millowners or landowners. The whole neighbourhood in which this company proposed to operate was against the Bill, which had been urged forward without any reference whatever of its provisions to the Board of Health. Under these circumstances, surely he need scarcely say more against it. He would, however, add that on the best authority it might be declared impracticable.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."13
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ MR. B. OSBORNE
said, he was in a dilemma as to the Bill, having presented petitions in its favour, signed by 35,000 of his constituents; yet he was aware that the landowners and millowners opposed it, and that it was a scheme condemned by the Board of Health, and which had been thrown out by the House of Lords last Session. Upon the whole, however, he was of opinion that it had better be referred to a Committee, and there considered with the other Water Bills which might be read a second time. He was astonished that the Government had not informed the House of their intentions as to the supply of water in the metropolis; and he appealed to the right hon. Home Secretary to do so, especially as the Water Bills had been postponed, at his suggestion, to await the report of the Board of Health on the subject. He begged also to ask if there were any truth in a rumour which had reached his ears, that the Government, if the Interments Bill were not agreed to in its present form, intended to take no trouble on the subject of the supply of water.
§ SIR G. GREY
said, there was not the slightest foundation for the rumour to which the hon. and gallant Gentleman had alluded, and of which he (Sir G. Grey) now heard for the first time. The question of the water supply to the metropolis had been referred to the Board of Health, and he had every reason to believe that the Board had devoted their best attention to its consideration; but it was a subject of great magnitude, and involved many conflicting interests, and had no doubt occupied much more time than had been anticipated. Some time before Easter the Board intimated that they hoped soon to make their report, and suggested the expediency with reference not to public interests alone but to the interests of the promoters of these Water Bills, that they should not be allowed to proceed until after a given time; and accordingly on his Motion an order was made that the second reading of these Bills should not proceed until after Easter. About two or three weeks ago that embargo having ceased, some of these Bills were read a second time; the reference to the Select Committee, however, being deferred until the report of the Board of Health should be on the table. He had offered no opposition to this course, because he felt that to go on further postponing the second 14 reading would virtually amount to a postponement over the present Session. His noble Friend the Chairman of the Board of Health (Lord Ashley), had since stated that he hoped the report would be produced in about a fortnight: that period had also elapsed, but the report had not yet been received. He imputed no blame to the board for this delay, for he believed they had found the subject involved much more difficult consideration than they had expected; but even if that report were laid on the table to-morrow, the House could not at once decide finally for or against these Bills without taking time to consider the recommendations of the board, and the grounds on which those recommendations were based. Under these circumstances, knowing nothing of the merits of the Bill, he did not think the House was in a position to interpose further delay, on the ground of waiting for the report. Whether, after all, it might not be advisable to defer all these Bills till another Session, was another question.
§ LORD ASHLEY
said, the Board of Health had now completed their report on this subject, but great labour had been required in its preparation; and a report of such magnitude, and involving so large an amount of evidence, would require many corrections. He had little doubt, however, that the report would be laid upon the table before Whitsuntide. As a private Member, he felt himself palled upon to offer his decided opposition to this Bill, and to that which stood next on the paper. He thought that the Watford scheme, even if it were carried into effect, would produce no beneficial results whatever; and he therefore hoped that this Bill would not be proceeded with, at least during the present Session. He believed the report of the Board of Health would develop to the House new sources of supply, and a mode of administration five times cheaper than that proposed by this measure.
§ MR. BAILLIE
said, this was a subject of such vast importance that it ought to have engaged the attention of the Government. The Bill would affect most injuriously the rights of private individuals, and he hoped it would be rejected by the House.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 90; Noes 196: Majority 106.
§ Words added.
§ Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
§ Second Reading put off for six months.