HC Deb 23 July 1858 vol 151 cc2047-52

Order for Consideration read.


brought up the two following clauses:— No works upon the bed or shores of the said River Thames below high-water mark shall at any time be commenced or executed, under the provisions of this Act, without the same having been previously approved of by the Lord High Admiral, or the Commissioners for executing the office of Lord High Admiral; such approval to be from time to time specified in writing under the hand of the Secretary to the Admiralty.

Clause brought up, and read the first time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the said Clause be now read a second time."


said, he objected to the first of these clauses, on the ground that as all the works would be done below high-water mark, it would follow that nothing would be done without the consent of the Admiralty. He would suggest an Amendment, giving them power to interfere only with those works which interfered with the navigation of the river.

Amendment proposed, after the words "high-water mark," to insert the words "which shall interfere with the navigation of the river."


said, he thought the suggestion of the hon. Member a very proper one.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, read a second time, and added to the Bill.

LORD JOHN MANNERS moved the following clause:— That it may be lawful for the Secretary of State for the Home Department, at his discretion, on representation or complaint made to him of any nuisance committed in execution of any works, or in deodorizing any sewage, or in disposing of any sewage or refuse from sewers, or in any other manner under this Act, to cause inquiry to be made into the matter represented or complained of to him, and to direct such prosecution or prosecutions, or to take such other proceedings as he may think fit, in order to ensure the prevention or abatement of such nuisance as aforesaid.

Clause agreed to, and added to the Bill.


said, be rose to propose a clause, the effect of which was that in case the metropolis should afterwards be divided into municipal districts, with one central Board representing them all, nothing in this Act should preclude these works from being handed over to such central municipal body. He made this proposition because he was not satisfied with the composition of the present Metropolitan Board, and he thought it was desirable, by some such clause as this, to protest against its being supposed that their powers were to be continued to them for ever.

Clause, That in the event of the whole Metropolis being at any time hereafter brought under the government of one or more municipal bodies, and any new Metropolitan Board of Works being hereafter created, composed in whole or in part of members deputed from the council or councils of such municipal body or bodies, nothing herein contained shall be construed to prevent the transfer of the powers granted by this Act to such new Board, brought up, and read the first time.

Motion made and Question proposed, "That the said Clause be now read a second time."


said, he could not agree to the clause. The object of the Bill was, by showing confidence in the Metropolitan Board, to fix upon them re- sponsibility. But the clause went far to destroy all confidence in them by contemplating their untimely death. He hoped, therefore, his right hon. and learned Friend would not press the clause.


said, he also hoped the right hon. and learned Gentleman would not press the clause, for which there was no necessity, as if any such change as he contemplated were made, there would be nothing then to prevent the transfer. But he was very glad the right hon. Gentleman had made the proposition, as it showed what was going on in his mind, and that when the Bill for the reform of the Corporation came before them, the right hon. Gentleman would be prepared to hold that the tolls and metage dues, and other funds belonging to the Corporation, and which were given to the Corporation at a time when the City was the metropolis, should no longer be confined to one small locality, but should be applied in executing works that benefited the whole metropolis.


said, he was glad that the Government did not assent to the clause, which he hoped would not be pressed. He hoped Parliament would at least reserve the power of knowing what sort of Board was likely to be appointed.


said, he would not give the Committee the trouble of dividing, his object being to elicit the opinion of the House that there was nothing in the Bill to prevent such a transfer as he contemplated taking place.

Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.


said, be wished to propose an addition to the first clause, providing that the sewage should not be discharged into the river at such an outlet as would allow it to be brought back within the metropolitan limit by the action of the tide. His object was not to fetter the Metropolitan Board as to the means by which they were to accomplish their object, but to explain clearly to them what was the object which the House of Commons expected them to undertake. In the Report of the Committee of the House upon the subject it was stated that no plan ought to be regarded for the sewage of the metropolis which did not provide for one of two things—either that it should be taken down the river so far from the metropolis that it could not be brought back by the action a the tide; or else that it should be deodorized, mid only the purified liquid part of it discharged into the river, By the clause as it stood at present there was nothing to prevent the Board passing the sewage, undeodorized, immediately below the boundary of the Metropolis. Besides, it was the more important to prevent the sewage being brought back by tidal action, because it had been found that the removal of such a quantity of water out of the river for household purposes caused the tide to flow much higher up the river than it formerly used to do, and this was also the probable cause why the nuisance of the smell was always greater at high than at low water, contrary to what might be expected.

Amendment proposed,— In page 1, line 17, to add at the end of Clause 1 the words, "or from being brought within the boundaries of the Metropolis by the action of the tide.


said, he hoped the noble Lord would not agree to the Amendment, but would give the Board credit for some little common sense. It was not to be supposed that any body of gentlemen would lay out £3,000,000 of money to remove the sewage out of London, and then allow it to be brought back again. Such a clause would only stultify the Board of Works.


said, it would not only stultify the Board of Works, but the House of Commons as well, for the House would see that this was only a roundabout way of coming back to the point they had agreed to abandon that of fixing the points of outfall. He hoped the hon. Gentleman would not press his Amendment; if he did he must divide against it.


said, he could not see that this was a question of trusting to the common sense of the Board at all; if they were to do that they might as well give up making Acts of Parliament altogether. Under the Bill as it at present stood there was nothing to prevent the discharge of the sewage at Blackwall or opposite Woolwich at any stage of the tide, and might from thence be carried back into the centre of the town. He could not see the objection to the Amendment. It fixed no points of outfall; it only declared that it should not be discharged at such a point where it would be brought back again within the metropolitan limits by the action of the tide; and surely it was necessary at least to make that point clear in the Bill.


said, he believed that the Metropolitan Board of Works were as sensible as this House was that it would not be right to bring back the sewage within the metropolitan boundaries; and he hoped, therefore, that the whole work would be left in the hands of men who, he believed, were sincerely anxious, and quite competent, to discharge their duties.


said, the proposed clause raised again the question which they disposed of two days ago, when they determined not to interfere with the plans of the board.


said, the objection to the Amendment would be good if the Bill was intended to leave the Board of Works to discharge the sewage where they pleased. But that was not the Bill, which declared that the outfall should not be within the limits of the metropolis, unless the sewage was deodorized. [Several hon. MEMBERS: That clause is withdrawn]. Withdrawn is it? Then I must say this Amendment is all the more necessary. He understood the whole meaning and scope of the Bill to be that the metropolis should not be annoyed with the sewage floating about within its limits. Now, to secure that they ought, without prescribing any plan, to say that the outfall ought not to be at any point where the sewage would be brought back to the metropolis.


said, it was unfortunate the noble Lord had been absent from their discussions yesterday morning, as he would have known that the second clause was omitted, as well as the reasons why it was omitted. It was originally inserted with a view to conciliate the opponents of the measure, but the Government were from the first aware that it was opposed to the principle of the Bill, which was that the Board of Works should be left absolutely unfettered as to the measures on which they might decide. After a good deal of discussion yesterday the Committee unanimously agreed to omit the clause, and it appeared to him that the Amendment of the hon. Member for Hertfordshire (Mr. Puller) was only going back to the ground that all wished it was expedient to abandon, because it would to a certain degree fix upon Parliament the responsibility of the works that might be undertaken, and would lay the foundation for the Board of Works turning round upon them hereafter, if the works should prove a failure, and say, You restricted us in our plans, and therefore you must be visited wit a portion of the blame. He wished the whole of the operations to rest with the Board of Works, and he trusted that the House would not by a side wind seek to diminish that responsibility, or to bring the Government into any relations with the Board of Works except those strictly of a financial character.


said, he thought the proposal was a very good one, but he did not consider it necessary, because he was quite sure the Board of Works would do all that was requisite to be done.

Question, "That those words be there added," put, and negatived.


he would suggest an Amendment in Clause 13, agreed to yesterday, which would have the effect of imposing the rate in relation to this measure upon the assessments adopted in regard to the ordinary sewer rate.

Amendment proposed,— At the end of Clause 13 to add the words, "but in the City of London the said rate shall be made upon the assessment adopted in making the Sewer Rate in the said City.

Question proposed, "That those words be there added."

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments made.

Bill to be read 3o To-morrow.