HC Deb 09 July 1855 vol 139 c625

said, he rose to put a question to the right hon. Baronet the President of the Board of Health upon a subject of vital importance to the inhabitants of London—namely, the impure and pestiferous state of the river Thames. A letter from Professor Faraday appeared in The Times of that morning, containing a description of the impure condition of the river, the correctness of which he was able to confirm by his own observation. Under these circumstances, he begged to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether any plan had been decided on by the Government for diverting the sewage of the metropolis from the river Thames; and, if so, at what period that plan would be likely to come into operation?


said, he was sorry that at present there existed no power whatever, either in the Government or in any other authority, to remedy the nuisance which had been so justly complained of as arising from the state of the river Thames. Up to last year, there was a Commission of Sewers appointed for the metropolis, the appointment being made wholly by the Crown; but by a Bill of last Session a new body was constituted, part of which was appointed by the Government; the ratepayers and vestries of the districts appointing the other part. But those Commissioners had no power whatever to acquire land for outfall works; and before any attempt could be made to divert the sewage from the Thames, it would be necessary to acquire that power. In the Metropolitan Government Bill, which had passed through Committee, he had taken power for the Metropolitan Board of Works to take land for outfall works, subject to the approval of the Secretary of State, and to take it compulsorily for that object. He understood that the present Commissioners of Sowers had before them a variety of plans, suggested by Mr. Stephenson and other eminent engineers, for the purpose of effecting that object. The Metropolitan Board of Works, supposing the Legislature to pass the Bill, would be constituted before the close of the year; those plans would be submitted to that Board, and would be presented to them in such a state that the Board might act upon them as soon as they thought proper. And they would have ample power, not only to take land for outfall works, but to raise the necessary funds for carrying out the object.