HC Deb 24 April 1872 vol 210 cc1757-9

Order for Second Reading read.


, in moving that the Order of the Day for the second reading of this Bill be discharged, with a view to the withdrawal of the measure, stated that one of its chief objects was to render compulsory sanitary regulations which were now merely permissive, and had, therefore, to a great extent fallen into disuse. As a general measure had been prepared by the Government dealing with the whole question, he asked leave of the House to withdraw his Bill, and would endeavour to carry out its principles by Amendments which he intended to propose on the Government measure enabling local committees in rural districts to take the initiative in sanitary matters. This would at once relieve the Boards of Guardians, who had already too much to do, and give greater elasticity to the system.


approved the wise and considerate course of his hon. Friend in withdrawing his Bill and giving Notice of the Amendments he intended to move on the Government measure. He did not entertain the fear that Boards of Guardians would find themselves unequal to the sanitary duties which would be cast upon them by the measure of the Government. This was a question of organization and the efficiency of arrangements. He rather found that where new functions were imposed on local bodies they rose to their importance and organized their own officials with a view to their increased responsibilities. That was, in fact, one of the reasons he had for throwing on the Guardians the new sanitary duties. At the same time, he quite admitted that it was most desirable that the system should be elastic. All divisions of the country were not identical, and if in any particular parish they could find landed proprietors, for instance, willing to devote themselves to sanitary objects, the Board of Guardians should be enabled to avail themselves of their services. It was therefore his intention to give power to the Boards of Guardians to appoint sanitary committees not confined to their own members.


said, the Bill was only a small part of the greater measure which was brought forward by the Government, and he thought it should be debated in company with the general principles involved in that measure. He was anxious that there should be as little more as possible of fragmentary legislation on the subject; and he thought the hon. Baronet (Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson) had done wisely in withdrawing his Bill in view of the wider discussion so soon to be taken in hand. But he hoped the Government would consider every such withdrawal an additional argument for prompt proceeding with their own measure. He was afraid that they did not sufficiently appreciate the importance of the subject which they had in hand, and which, while it remained in their hands, no private Member could touch with any advantage. He must say, looking to the whole course of their procedure on this subject during the last three years, the urgency with which they had pressed him to undertake the Sanitary Commission, the eulogies they had passed on its Report, and the terms in which sanitary measures were referred to in Her Majesty's Speech as one of the principal subjects for legislation, he had been greatly disappointed, and, he believed, the country had been disappointed, in finding this measure postponed week after week and night after night in order to proceed with measures of infinitely inferior importance.


said, he could not admit the justice of the charge of his right hon. Friend, although it had been frequently urged during the last three years. The Government had, of course, to consider what measure should first be proceeded with, and he believed the country was generally satisfied with the course of legislation they had pursued. At the same time, he quite admitted the great importance of sanitary measures, and it was the earnest desire of the Government to proceed with them with all possible expedition.


said, before the Order was discharged, he wished, as one who had taken great interest in the question of sanitary reform, to express the obligation that was due to the hon. Baronet (Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson) for introducing the measure. No doubt the Government Bill was defective, and this Bill presented one defect to the House in a salient form. He felt doubt and difficulty as to constituting the proposed committees of gentlemen who were not elected members of Boards, because, practically, a committee which had the power of spending money, at least their recommendations must involve expense, and therefore care must be taken that there was no infringement of the principle of representation by the appointment of gentlemen who were not chosen by the ratepayers to spend the money of the ratepayers.


agreed that fragmentary legislation on this subject was objectionable. At the same time, the observations which had been made on the part of the Government were not satisfactory. The Home Secretary had admitted that the Government had postponed social reforms to political considerations, and having done that for three years, they yet said that legislation on this subject was to be permissive. Legislation ought to be compulsory, particularly now that we were threatened with cholera, which might be with us in a very short time.

Order discharged; Bill withdrawn.