HC Deb 23 March 1866 vol 182 cc885-7

called the attention of the House to the continued dangerous state of existing Public Waterworks Reservoirs; to the fact that no provision has hitherto been made by Parliament to retain a future supply of spring water for the in habitants of the districts from which the watersprings have been taken away; that the rights of landowners and farmers have been entirely disregarded, and the public health injured by the sources of rivers being withdrawn without sufficient compensating Reservoirs. The hon. Member was understood to say that since these waterworks reservoirs were first constructed upwards of 400 lives had been sacrificed, and property of the value of more than £1,000,000 had been destroyed. He had been charged with having made exaggerated statements as to the danger of the reservoirs in his own neighbourhood, but his statements had been borne out by facts, and the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department had pledged himself to introduce clauses in future Bills for the protection of life and property, but those clauses had never been embodied in an Act of Parliament. The Bill which had been introduced by the right hon. President of the Board of Trade was altogether inadequate to meet the requirements of the public, for under one of the clauses, which set forth that when any reservoir was in a dangerous state and it was necessary for the authorities to order it to be emptied, the millowners were not entitled to receive compensation, even although their mills might remain inactive for two or three years. And besides, the Bill authorized the construction of new reservoirs on the same principle on which the old ones had been constructed. The hon. Member had adverted to the case of the Holmforth reservoir, and the disaster which had occurred at Sheffield, stating that the waterworks company were re-constructing a reservoir on the same principle as that which had caused such a lamentable destruction of life and property in 1864, He had called the attention of the Home Secretary to the state of the Doe Reservoir, in his own neighbourhood, and the right hon. Gentleman, on the authority of the Mayor of Bradford, had denied that it was in a dangerous state, but the statement which he (Mr. Ferrand) had made was fully borne out by the manager of the Edinburgh Water Company and several gentlemen connected with that company. He had intended to refer the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade to the report of those gentlemen; but as he found it was the intention of the right hon. Gentleman to prevent a full discussion of the question, and considered the conduct of the Government offensive to himself and insulting to the people whose lives were in jeopardy, lie would no longer address the House, but at once move that it be counted.

[At this time not more than three or four Members were in the House; but the Motion having been made that the House be counted, hon. Members returned to their seats in sufficient numbers to make a House; and then immediately withdrew. The hon. Member's speech was, consequently, almost unheard.]


said, that he thought the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Ferrand) was not justified in using the language with which he had concluded his speech. He had not the slightest intention to be disrespectful to the hon. Member. He had himself sat and listened to him, but it was not in his power to command the attendance of other hon. Members. In reply to the observations of the hon. Gentleman, he begged to state that the Government were as much alive to the importance of the question as he could be, but it was admitted on all sides that considerable difficulties existed in framing clauses in an Act which should be applicable in all cases. They had, however, introduced a Bill referring all existing reservoirs in which power was given to the Board of Trade to cause inspection to take place either with or without complaint being made, and to order repairs when necessary. The Bill also contained other provisions which it was believed would render the reservoirs of the country more secure than they now were. The best course would be for the hon. Member to allow the Bill to be read a second time, and then to introduce in Committee such clauses as he should think would render the operation of the Bill more perfect.

Motion agreed to.

House at rising to adjourn till Monday, the 9th day April next.

Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members not being present,

House adjourned at a quarter before Nine o'clock, till Monday, 9th April.