asked he President of the Board of Trade, What information he has obtained as to the dearth of water in a large district of London, Bermondsey, supplied by one of the Metropolitan Water Companies; and, what steps are being taken by the Board of Trade and by the Water Company to avert the dangers to health which would result from a continued deficiency in the water supply?
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, that the first intimation which the Board of Trade received of the deficiency of water in Bermondsey was from the report of the proceedings of the Vestry in the public Press. The Board of Trade immediately wrote to the vestry clerk, and on ascertaining that the report was correct he would have sent the same day an Inspector to inquire if he had the power to do so. He found, however, that under the Metropolis Water Act of last year, as it came from the Select Committee, he had power to appoint an Inspector to make inquiries as to the quality, but not as to the quantity, of water. In this case there was no question of quality, because there was no water at all. He therefore fell back upon a previous Act, under which the Board of Trade had power to inquire into the quality and quantity of water, not proprio motu, but upon the requisition of the ratepayers. They informed the Vestry of that fact at once, and, having received the requisite authority, they sent an Inspector, who was making inquiries that day, and he (Mr. Fortescue) hoped to be able to give a full answer to his hon. Friend's Question to-morrow.
asked the President of the Local Government Board, What powers the Board possesses of seeing that the necessary precautions are taken by the sanitary authorities of Bermondsey and Rotherhithe to prevent the use, during the present dearth of water-supply, of water from surface wells and other dangerous sources; if the Local Government Board have not 285 such powers, whether any Department is charged with such powers; and, further, whether any Department is responsible for seeing that the local authorities in London perform their duties in the protection of the public health?
§ MR. STANSFELD
said, that neither the Local Government Board nor any other Government Department had, as far as he was aware, the power to prevent the use of water from surface wells or other dangerous sources either in the metropolis or elsewhere. With regard to the last part of the Question, no Government Department was authorized to exercise any general supervision over the sanitary authorities in the metropolis; but under the Act of 1858 the Secretary of State might, on complaint, direct that proceedings should be taken for the abatement of nuisances committed by the local authorities in the execution of any works or in the disposal of sewage.