HC Deb 17 February 1860 vol 156 cc1240-1

said, he rose to call the attention of the Secretary of State for the Home Department to the recent increase of Small-Fox and to the liability of the propagation of infectious diseases by the use of Street Cabs in conveying such cases to Hospitals and other places, and to ask whether it would not be desirable that Government should introduce some legislative provision for the establishment of Carriages for the exclusive use of the sick, and for the prohibition of the employment of Street Cabs for the above purpose within the Metropolitan district. There could be no difficulty in finding the proper machinery for carrying out his suggestion. There were several Boards in London, any one of which might take charge of it—the Poor Law Board, the Police Commissioners, the Medical Department of the Privy Council, and the Metropolitan Board of Works. The parish of St. James had already a carriage appropriated to the conveyance of the sick to the hospital, and there was no difficulty in confining its use to that class. The carriage could always be horsed from the nearest stand—by hiring the cab and horse, and harnessing the horse to the sick carriage, leaving the cab in the proper charge —and the cabman could receive extra payment. To show how much small-pox was spreading, and how largely the conveyance of cases in street cabs tended to spread the infection, he might mention the case of a town within ten miles of London where a street cab had brought from the metropolis a person labouring under small-pox, and that single case had affected the whole town, so that the epidemic was raging in the whole locality. He would therefore ask the question that he had placed on the paper.


said, he quite agreed with the hon. Gentleman as to the danger involved in the present practice. He had no doubt that it would be extremely easy to prohibit the carrying of sick persons in cabs. The difficulty would be in finding a substitute for those vehicles. It could hardly be expected that the Government should undertake the conveyance of all the sick persons in the kingdom. It would be quite possible for parishes to make provision for that purpose, but until some such arrangement were made it would be hardly right to suppress the existing mode of conveyance. The police authorities had, however, ordered some model cabs to be provided for the conveyance of such sick persons as were under their control.