HC Deb 11 April 1872 vol 210 cc1084-5

asked the President of the Board of Trade, Whether his attention has been called to the Report of Professor Frankland to the Registrar General (Parliamentary Paper, No. 99,) on the analysis of the Water supplied by the Metropolitan Water Companies during the year 1871, and especially to his statement that the Water supplied by the Kent Company from deep chalk wells "has never for several years past shown any signs of turbidity," whereas of the remaining seven Companies two only (the West Middlesex and the New River) have during 1869, 1870, and 1871, efficiently filtered the Water they supplied, "whilst the Chelsea and Lambeth Companies periodically deliver Water so muddy as to be entirely unfit, on this account alone, for domestic use;" and, whether it is his intention to exercise any of the powers of the Board of Trade, under the Metropolis Water Acts of 1852 and 1871, so as to inflict penalties for these breaches of the Law, and so as to insure the careful and complete filtration of the Water supplied by these Companies?


My attention, Sir, has been called to the Report of Professor Frankland to the Registrar General, although Professor Frankland has no connection with the Board of Trade. What has been done by the Board of Trade is this. Under the Act of last Session we have appointed a Water Examiner, and that officer has, under instructions, made a special examination of the reservoirs and filtering-beds of two of the companies referred to in the Question—namely, the Southwark and Vauxhall, and the Lambeth Companies—and has made a special Report, which has been laid before this House. Major Bolton, the Water Examiner of the Board of Trade, agrees, I may say, with the Royal Commission on the Supply of Water for the Metropolis, in thinking that the Thames water, if only properly filtered, is harmless, and forms a fit and proper supply for the use of London; but everything depends, in his opinion, upon proper filtration. He also says that these two companies on which he specially reported have at times during the last winter supplied water not properly filtered; the cause of that failure, in his opinion, being that they were at the time carrying on large works for the purpose of improving their establishments, and also that very heavy floods occurred in the river. During that time, from want of sufficient storage room, the filtration was carried on in a hurried and imperfect manner, and the water supply was by no means what it ought to have been. Major Bolton also reports that these companies are engaged in enlarging their works in a way which, in his opinion, will remove these evils, and meet the requirements of the case—making, as they are, large additions to their reservoirs and filtering power. If it should turn out that such is not the case, it will be necessary for the Board of Trade to interfere. It is my intention to ensure, so far as the powers of the Board of Trade extend, careful and complete filtration of the water supplied by these companies; but as remedial measures are being taken by the companies themselves, I do not think that, at present, at all events, the question of legal proceedings need arise.