HC Deb 08 July 1873 vol 217 cc90-5

Order for Committee read.


in moving that the House do go into Committee on this Bill, stated that its main object was a preparation to consolidate the law relating to the public health, and with this view to make certain amendments in various parts of the existing law which the Commissioners in their Report had declared to require alteration. It was desirable to complete amending before consolidating. The Acts of the last two Sessions had completed the machinery of local Government, and the digests of Sanitary Law made by the Department had enabled that machinery to work. This Bill proposed to fill up all that that digest showed wanting in the law, so as to put it in condition for consolidation. The Amendments of which Notice had been given were not numerous or hostile to the Bill. If the House went into Committee he should not press any portion of the measure against what he found to be the sense of the Committee.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair"—(Sir Charles Adderley.)


as a sanitary reformer, opposed the Motion with great reluctance. He had formerly stated his reasons for opposing this Bill, and he would not repeat them at that late hour. The Bill was injudicious, especially in its machinery and the extraordinary powers which it gave to those who were to administer its provisions. The Bill would add to the burdens of the ratepayers, and, what was more objectionable, to the power of the Central Government. It gave the Central Govern- ment a dangerous power—a power to override the authority and liberties of the local Government. The right hon. Gentleman was trying to thrust this Bill down their throats against the feeling of the people out-of-doors. He did not know whether the right hon. Gentleman would withdraw those clauses of the Bill which conferred additional powers on local boards. There was not the smallest chance of the passing of the measure this Session in the face of the fact that the Government felt themselves obliged at that late period of the Session to withdraw many of their own important measures. He would therefore ask the right hon. Gentleman to withdraw it. He would at once do so, he believed; but he was supported by the President of the Local Government Board. But it was that right hon. Gentleman's duty to bring forward a Bill on so important a subject, and not leave it in the hands of a private Member. He moved that the Order for Committee be discharged.


reminded the House that the Bill was introduced at an early period of the Session, and was delayed to this comparatively late period by the opposition of a single Member under the operation of a well-known Rule of the House. He would remind those country Gentlemen who opposed the Bill that this was not the time to oppose themselves to proposals which went to improve the social condition of the agricultural classes of this country. They had three powerful diseases to contend with—namely, consumption, rheumatism, and typhoid fever, and this Bill was intended to deal with them effectually by measures carefully devised, with a view to their prevention. The country Gentlemen of England desired to improve the health and the wealth of the people, and particularly of the agricultural labourers, and he did hope they would not refuse the boon which they were asked to grant. He was old enough to remember the time when the cry of "foreign competition" was raised in answer to arguments in favour of a free trade policy. That cry degenerated into a panic and in the end was derided as a mere hobgoblin argument. Taught by this experience he hoped the local taxation hobby-horse would not be ridden too hard. Hon. Members might depend upon it that if they did not take heed this cry likewise would become a mere hobgoblin. They did not desire to increase the taxation of the people, and no increase, he thought, would be necessary under this Bill, which did not create one new office, or render necessary the appointment of one additional officer; but even if it were, then, he said, let them consider whether the game was not worth the candle. He desired to increase the physical energies of the people, being well assured that there was no resource more productive of wealth than the energies of a vigorous and stalwart race.


said, that as yet the rural sanitary authorities of the country had not had time to master the digest of the sanitary laws which had been sent to them; and he hoped there would not be an undue disposition to rely too much upon legislation on the matter, but that greater attention to cleanliness would be paid. He would allow that legislation, so far as it had gone on this subject, had not been altogether satisfactory, and it was almost trifling with it to attempt at this period of the Session to proceed further with the Bill. There were provisions in. it of which he could not approve, especially those which depended upon chemical analyses. He would advise that the Bill should not be carried further, and would therefore support the Amendment.


said, that though he did not approve of the Bill, he did not take upon himself the responsibility of opposing it, as it was a measure that at least went in the right direction, and any delay in passing it would be, so far, a circumstance to be regretted.


considered that at the present advanced period of the Session it was utterly impossible to discuss with any practical result a measure of this extensive scope and magnitude. The question was one to be introduced by the Government, and not by a private Member.


said, that his right hon. Friend (Sir Charles Adderley) was the Chairman of the Sanitary Commission which sat for two years, and whose invaluable Report was the basis of the measure which the Local Government Board passed last year. The rest of the Report of the Commission was embodied in the clauses of the present Bill. He had fully explained, when asked whether he intended to bring forward a measure on this subject, that the pressure of other business did not leave him sufficient time for undertaking the task. He had always declined to make this a party question, and held himself as free to give his support to a measure brought forward by a hon. Member on the opposite side of the House as to one emanating from the party to which he had the honour to belong. Considering the position of his right hon. Friend opposite on this question, it was due to him in point of courtesy and fairness to allow him to take his Bill into Committee. One objection to the Bill was that it would add to local burdens. But let them go into Committee and test that objection. He maintained that there was no clause in the Bill which would add one farthing to local rates in respect of the appointment of any new sanitary officers, and he hoped hon. Gentlemen would withdraw their opposition, and allow it to go into Committee.


said, great credit was due to the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir Charles Adderley) for the services he had rendered to the country on this question; but, inasmuch as the Bill of last year was working well, and looking at the advanced period of the Session, he should support his hon. Friend's Motion against the House going into Committee on the Bill.


supported the Motion for going into Committee.


said, he appealed to the hon. Member for East Suffolk (Mr. Corrance) not to press his Motion to a division, and suggested that the object of the hon. Member and his Friends might be attained upon the clauses in Committee. With regard to the country and town districts, in his opinion the towns were much more in need of sanitary reform than the country. He should be sorry if it were to appear to the country that any section of the Members of that House was opposed to sanitary reform; and he therefore hoped his hon. Friend would not divide the House on the question.


concurred with the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir Charles Adderley), that this question of sanitary reform thould not be made a "party" question; but he must remind the right hon. Gentleman that he op- posed the Birmingham Sewage Bill, the object of which was sanitary reform. It was only last year that an Act was passed repealing 25 or 26 Acts of Parliament. Instead of tinkering with this matter, the House ought to have a thorough reconstruction of the Acts of Parliament upon this subject, and the Government might advantageously turn their attention to the subject in the Recess.


suggested a compromise—namely, to allow the Bill to go now into Committee, and merely to pass the Preamble of the Bill on the present occasion.


said, it was most unfortunate that these sanitary systems were being patched, and he did not think the right hon. Gentleman would like to have another patch next year. He was not responsible for this Bill, which referred to clauses in another Bill, and the result of that kind of legislation was to produce a fresh batch of Bills to amend other Bills. Many of the clauses imposed conditions which were utterly impracticable, and he very much doubted whether at that period of the Session it was prudent to press such a measure.


said, he thought it was impossible to consider the clauses of a Bill of this importance at so late an hour. He should therefore move the adjournment of the debate.

Motion made, and Question put, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Dimsdale.)

The House divided:—Ayes 36; Noes 92: Majority 56.

Question again proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."


believing that the Local Government Bill of last year had proved a curse instead of a blessing to the country, and that the present Bill would only make matters worse, begged to move that the House do now adjourn.

Motion made, and Question, "That this House do now adjourn,"—(Mr. Knight,)—put, and negatived.


appealed to his right hon. Friend (Sir Charles Adderley) not to press the Bill further. It was ridiculous to go into Committee at 1 o'clock, especially as every clause of it would be objected to.


said, he would consent to reporting Progress so soon as the Preamble was postponed.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

Bill considered in Committee.

Committee report Progress.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House will, upon Friday next, again resolve itself into the said Committee."

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "Friday," in order to insert the words "Tuesday the 12th day of August,"—(Mr. James Lowther,)—instead thereof.

Question put, "That the word 'Friday' stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes 74; Noes 24: Majority 50.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Resolved, That this House will, upon Friday next, again resolve itself into the said Committee.