HC Deb 15 June 1858 vol 150 cc2113-4

I wish to ask the noble Lord the Chief Commissioner of Works whether he intends to take any steps with regard to the present state of the River Thames. [Laughter and Cheers.] My question, I perceive, excites the laughter of some hon. Gentlemen, but I can assure them that if they lived in the vicinity of the Thames they would not think my question one of little importance. By a perverse ingenuity, one of the noblest of rivers has been changed into a cesspool, and I wish to ask whether Her Majesty's Government intend to take any steps to remedy the evil?


Sir, in answer to the question which has been somewhat unexpectedly put to me by the hon. Gentleman, I can only say, and he must be as well aware of the facts as myself, that Her Majesty's Government have nothing whatever to do with the state of the Thames; that by a recent Act of Parliament the whole jurisdiction over it has been committed to the Metropolitan Board of Works, and that Her Majesty's Government can only exercise a sort of veto upon any plan which they may propose for its purification. No scheme which they may propose for its purification can be carried into effect unless it has received the approbation of the Chief Commissioner of Works. All I can say is, that up to the present moment I have not received any scheme from the Metropolitan Board of Works to which I can give my assent, or from which I can withhold it. It may be satisfactory to know that in my individual capacity I am at this moment serving on a Committee which has been appointed for the purpose of investigating some scheme for the purification of the Thames. When the researches of that Committee terminate, it will be open to the hon. Gentleman to ask me any question with reference to the subject, and I shall be glad to afford him all the information in my power.