HC Deb 10 July 1874 vol 220 cc1493-500

Order for Committee read.


, in moving that Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair, said, the Bill contained no debatable matter of principle. Hon. Members who took an interest in the debates on the subject in 1872 would not be surprised to find that after the lapse of two years some changes and altera- tions should be necessary in the sanitary laws. He hoped that before long it would be possible to undertake a complete consolidation of them; meanwhile, the Bill before the House was simply for the purpose of amending the Act of 1872 by clearing away its ambiguities and improving its machinery. Many of the Amendments were merely of a technical character, although others were rather complicated; but they set up more clearly the status of the sanitary authorities in the rural districts. The first 18 clauses of the Bill dealt with technical and complicated matters, consisting of clauses for the correction of ambiguities of construction which had presented themselves in the application of the law; and, by Clauses 19 and 20, the Local Government Board took fresh powers to put into force orders which they were authorized to make upon sluggish or reluctant local authorities. It was proposed, among other things, that the Board should have power to obtain a writ of mandamus, with the view of compelling a local authority to execute works which might be considered necessary. There were clauses designed to introduce improvements in the election and arrangement of the sanitary bodies, and to put a stop to the present system by which applications for Provisional Orders as to borrowing powers were crowded together at the end of the Session; it being intended, in order to effect the latter object, that parties should be at liberty to give notice at any time during the year of their intention to apply for such Orders. A provision was also introduced into the Bill for distributing the costs of a work over several years, on its being proved to be one of permanent utility. That would be a very valuable power in many cases. There was a very important clause giving power to local authorities to obtain from the magistrates an order to prevent the use of wells, pumps, or cisterns, which were considered unhealthy. The question of the water supply was becoming an urgent one for the whole country, and perhaps before long Government would be able to propose some general provisions on the subject, of a kind which would be greatly to the advantage of the community. It was true, that the Bill might well do more than it did; but he believed it was complete as far as it went, and that by passing it they would be taking a considerable step in the path of sanitary improvement. It had not been much discussed in the House certainly, but it had been very attentively considered in the country; and he was glad to say that while he had had communications from all parts of the country containing suggestions and hoping the Bill would be passed, not one had come expressing any opposition to it. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by moving that the House go into Committee on the Bill.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."—(Mr. Sclater-Booth.)


said, he was glad to hear that the country was satisfied with the Bill, which was, however, only an amending Bill. The water powers contained in the Bill would have to be exorcised carefully; as he knew of a case in which water was condemned merely because it was thick, whereas, on its being analyzed, it was found perfectly fit for drinking. Bain water was commonly allowed to run to waste; but in his part of the country it was collected on the downs, and but for that they would be without water at all. He was particularly pleased with the 36th and 37th clauses of the Bill, which gave power for distributing the cost of works of permanent utility over a longer number of years. He must, however, say he thought it was a very inconvenient course to bring in such a Bill as that, and to read it a first and second time without discussion, and then to have a statement made on the Motion for going into Committee. If his right hon. Friend had made the statement which he had just delivered on the second reading of the Bill, people would not have been frightened in consequence of not knowing what the contents of the Bill really were.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clauses 1 to 5 inclusive, agreed to.

Clause 6 (Assistant clerk may be appointed instead of clerk).


moved, as an Amendment, in page 2, line 38, after "parish," to insert the words "or council of a borough." His object was to enable the town council in a borough to have a power, similar to that exercised by unions and parishes, to appoint a sanitary clerk if they wished to do so.


hoped that the hon. and gallant Member would not press his Amendment. It would open the door to a multiplication of officers, which the Government thought inexpedient. If the Amendment were carried, it would enable every town council and board of guardians to have an extra clerk for sanitary work.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 7 to 24, inclusive, agreed to.

Clause 25 (Power to divide districts into wards at any time, and to settle disputes as to boundaries).


moved, as an Amendment, to insert at end of the clause— Or may from time to time alter and re-adjust the areas and boundaries of representation of the several wards in the different districts as may seem expedient to the Local Government Board. His object was, that the local bodies should have power to re-adjust the representative element, which in some northern towns was continually changing in numbers and rateable value.


objected to the proposed alteration.


was perfectly ready to consider the Amendment, if his hon. Friend would introduce it on the Report.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 26 to 30, inclusive, agreed to.

Clause 31 (Extension of Lands Clauses Consolidation Act to easements and rights).


expressed a hope that the right hon. Gentleman who had charge of that Bill would consider on the Report, whether it was not desirable to give larger powers than those given by the clause as it stood, so as to enable different sanitary districts to combine together for the purpose of forming reservoirs for the proper supply of water to the inhabitants—a matter so essential to the health of the community. Moreover, the mere power of forming reservoirs would be quite insufficient without the authority to extend the area for collecting the water to be stored in these reservoirs. Much might also be done in the way of storing water by means of bunds or dykes across rivers and streams at suitable places, so as to make the reaches of rivers into reservoirs. The gorges of hills might also be banked up, so as to form reservoirs between ranges now but little used for cultivation. The preservation of trees on the tops of hills and on hill-sides should also be attended to. That able man, Sir Roderick Murchison, often in conversation expressed a decided opinion on the importance of water and trees to this country, and it was to be hoped that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board would go on with his good measures to secure water for the people.


pointed out that the powers which the hon. and gallant Member desired to see enacted already existed under the present law.


, as at present advised, thought that the powers which already existed, together with that clause, would enable sanitary authorities to go out of their districts to obtain a supply of water in the manner indicated by the hon. and gallant Baronet.


hoped that due care would be taken of the interests of the particular district into which another sanitary authority might enter.


said, that none of these powers could be exercised, except after inquiry and due notice to the parties interested.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 32 and 33 agreed to.


moved, as an Amendment, the insertion, after Clause 33, of the following clause:— (Supply of water to districts for drinking and domestic purposes.) Any sanitary authority may, for the purpose of supplying its district with water for drinking and domestic purposes, purchase either within or without its district any land covered with water, or any water or right to take or convey water in the same manner, and subject to the same regulations in and subject to which it may purchase land within or without its district. And the word 'land' shall in the enactments relating to such purchase he deemed to include any water or right to take or convey water.


said, the clause was unnecessary, because at present there was ample power to obtain a supply of water for any district not adequately supplied by an existing company. Besides, the insertion of the clause would be found to press very seriously upon the public water companies who now supplied the several districts.


thought the clause was of the highest importance. The hon. and learned Mover of the clause had no wish to interfere with the rights of the existing water companies, but merely to afford facilities, in the interests of the public, for a supply of abundant and good water.


thought there were ample powers existing at the present time to enable local boards to obtain waterworks. He considered that great mischief would be done by the adoption of these words, because the local boards might involve the ratepayers, in considerable expense. It would be a perfect delusion, however, to suppose that the Amendment would enable any sanitary authority to get a sufficient supply without coming to Parliament for compulsory powers.


hoped his hon. and learned Friend would he satisfied with the discussion, and not press his Motion. He (Mr. Sclater-Booth) could not consent to the adoption of the addition; but if the hon. and learned Gentleman would allow it to stand over, he would consider whether the wording of the clause could be improved so as to meet the case, and would state the result when the Report was brought up.


said, he was perfectly satisfied with the assurance of the right hon. Gentleman, and would withdraw the Amendment.

Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

Clauses 34 and 35, agreed to.

Clause 36 (Amendment of 21 & 22 Vict. c. 98, s. 57. regarding loans to sanitary authorities).


observed, that although it was proposed by the clause to extend the period to 60 years, there would be many persons and many wealthy corporations disappointed because it did not go further. He thought, however, it might be regarded as a fair settlement of the case.


pointed out that the loans were given on very cheap terms, and that a precedent for extending the time could not fairly be drawn from the periods named in the Bills, which permitted corporations to raise money from private persons, who would probably demand high rates of interest.


contended that the borrowing powers under private Bills were very different from those under the Public Loan Commissioners Act. He suggested that the limit should be placed at 50 years.


said, he was opposed to the extension of the term of 50 years. The clause not only applied to borrowing and re-borrowing, but the limit was fixed at 60 years. Under that provision, a local authority might have borrowed money for 50 years, and when 40 of those years had expired, might come to the Local Government Board for permission to borrow for a further term of 60 years.


said, perhaps the best thing to do would be to reconsider the clause, and if any ambiguity should be found in it he would engage that a new clause should be drawn upon the Report.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 37 to 54, inclusive, agreed to.

Clause 55, (Warrant may be granted by a justice to search for unsound food).


moved as an Amendment, in page 15, line 1, after "milk," to omit the words "butter, cheese, and eggs." Many kinds of cheese were not good till they began to decay; and, for his own part, he confessed that unsound cheese was the only kind of cheese which agreed with him.

Amendment agreed to; words struck out accordingly.

Clause as amended, agreed to.

Remaining clauses agreed to.


moved the addition of a clause, confining operations, in regard to overcrowding, to cases where there was more than one family in a house.


said, he could not possibly agree to the clause.


said, it might be possible in towns to carry out the law without inflicting hardship, but that was not the case in the country where there were thousands of freehold houses, each of two rooms, occupied by single families. The question was, whether the persons occupying such houses were to leave off having 10 children.

Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

House resumed.

Bill reported; as amended, to be considered upon Tuesday next, and to be printed. [Bill 202.]

And it being now five minutes to seven of the clock, the House suspended its sitting.

The House resumed its sitting at nine of the clock.

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