HC Deb 15 June 1875 vol 224 cc1938-55

rose to call attention to the action of the Metropolitan Asylums Board with reference to the proposed erection of a permanent Hospital for Contagious Diseases near Hampstead Heath; and to move for a Select Committee To inquire into and report upon the clauses of the Metropolitan Poor Act (30 Vic. c. 6), giving powers to the managers of asylums to take, hold, and dispose of lands and other property for the purposes of the Act. The hon. Member said, that the question to which his Motion referred, although apparently of merely local interest, affected the whole body of ratepayers throughout the Metropolis, and also the many thousands who on Sundays and holidays frequented Hampstead Heath. In the year 1867 the Poor Law Amendment Act was passed, by which a very useful body, entitled "the Metropolitan Asylums Board" was created. One of its functions was the erection of asylums for infectious diseases in case of the outbreak of epidemics in the Metropolis. With laudable activity they devised a general scheme for the erection of hospitals in the North, South, and Eastern districts, and proceeded to secure sites, and did, in fact, obtain a site at Stockwell, another at Homerton, and a third at Hampstead. The last named selection was strongly objected to, as being quite unfit for the object in view and because it was situated in a very populous district, and inferior to other sites in the same locality which were unobjectionable—and the scheme was protested against by the magistrates, the vestries, and the great bulk of the residents. In spite of those objections the Asylums Board enclosed the site, made approaches, and erected a house for a medical superintendent. They did nothing further, except that on the outbreak of smallpox temporary sheds were put up, to which many patients suffering from that disease were admitted. The sheds remained as temporary hospitals for 18 months, during which time smallpox appeared in many houses in the neighbourhood—after that time they were occupied by pauper imbeciles. In October last, the sheds having become decayed, the Asylums Board revived the idea of building a permanent hospital, and the inhabitants taking alarm an influential deputation—which he had the honour of introducing—waited upon his right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board, who paid the utmost attention to the remonstrances which were made, but said that the Asylums Board were only carrying out their duty; that having obtained possession of a site they were bound to make use of that site. The right hon. Gentleman, however, added that if they (the deputation) were able to find a site without the disadvantages alleged against that they already had, and equally eligible, he would advise the Board to accept it. Acting on this hint the inhabitants—although they did not feel called upon to find a site—had five sites offered them, three of which they submitted to the Board, each being, in their opinion, superior to the one in possession of the Board, but one in every respect far superior. The Board, however, refused to adopt any one of them, alleging that the one most recommended and eligible was at a greater distance than was desirable for the parties for whose relief the hospital was intended; next, that the owners of property in the neighbourhood would object; thirdly, the proximity of a reservoir the property of the Grand Junction Water Works; and, fourthly, that the Mill Lane neighbourhood would probably be built over. None of these objections had the slightest validity. With respect to the first, he could only say that it was not a matter of much moment, as the Asylum when erected would only be used when the hospitals at Stockwell and Homerton were full. As to the objections of owners of property, of course owners of property would always object to a hospital being built in their neighbourhood; but he would remind the House that, while 50,000 persons had petitioned against the proposed site at Hampstead, not one Petition had been presented in its favour. He did not, however, attach much importance to Petitions when he remembered that the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr. Whalley) had stated that 300,000 persons had petitioned in favour of the Tichborne Claimant, and numerous Petitions had that day been presented in favour of the Permissive Bill—two objects of about equal usefulness to the public. Then as to the reservoir, Dr. Frankland had stated that gases emanating from the hospital might contaminate the water, the bottom of which was, he said, 23 feet below the level of the hospital. Dr. Frankland had been altogether misinformed. The reservoir was arched over with brickwork and covered to the depth of three feet with earth and turf, and the drain about to be formed would be 30 feet below the reservoir. It was impossible, therefore, that the water could be at all contaminated, and he had the authority of Dr. Letheby for stating that the fear expressed on the subject was altogether groundless. He might dismiss that objection altogether, especially as the Water Company who were most interested in the matter had taken no notice of the proposed erection of the hospital in the neighbourhood of their reservoir. Another reason alleged in favour of the Hampstead Heath site was that Mill Lane would probably be built over. There was a vast difference, however, between bringing a nuisance to an existing neighbourhood and bringing the neighbourhood to the nuisance. In the present case an insufferable nuisance was proposed to be created in a populous neighbourhood. In the other case the site was in the midst of green fields with scarcely any houses near them, and if, when this site had been selected, people chose to come and live in close promimity to the hospital it was their affair, and it was not a case for legislative interference. There were other reasons in favour of the Mill Lane site. It was singularly isolated, having on one side the water reservoir, on another a cemetery, on a third the railway, and on the fourth Mill Lane. The site was, indeed, scarcely suited for any other purpose. The approach was also very superior to the Hampstead Heath site. It was approached in three directions, and a broad road already rendered it of easy access. In the case of the other site, it was approached only by a lane 22 feet in width, with a public-house at the corner, at which those who brought patients to the hospital would certainly stop, with the probability of spreading the contagion. In purchasing this site, the Asylums Board was under the impression that an approach might be made in a different direction; but the roadway upon which they might have relied was private property, and no sooner did the owner discover the purpose to which the site was to be applied than he put a barrier against the road, and that barrier would be maintained as long as he was threatened by so uncomfortable a neighbour. With respect to population, there was within a radius of half a-mile of the Mill Lane site only one-tenth of the population of Haverstock Hill. The pockets of the ratepayers ought certainly to be specially borne in mind by the Asylums Board. With the outlay already incurred, the proposed site at Hampstead had cost £26,000, while the site which was in other respects so much better might be secured for £11,000. The first site had an area of eight acres, and the other of 11 acres; so that the cost of the Mill Lane site would be less than half, while the area was considerably larger. Under these circumstances, it was difficult to understand why the Asylums Board had so persistently, and, he might say, so obstinately enforced their views against the wishes of the ratepayers of the neighbourhood, who had, on account of the healthiness of the locality, sought the residences to which the Board now insisted on bringing this nuisance. It was sometimes difficult to discriminate between firmness and obstinacy, and to point out where the one ended and the other began. In the present case he could not but feel that so little reason had been adduced by the Asylums Board for the course they had adopted that he was obliged to think that, although they might have at first thought they were right, they had by degrees drifted into perverseness and unreasoning obstinacy. He would not longer detain the House. His object was to obtain a Select Committee, and he trusted that the Government would assent to the Motion, so that a Committee might look into the Act and meet the difficulty. The recurrence of such complaints might thus be prevented, and the ratepayers of the Metropolis might be protected against another arbitrary proceeding of a similar nature on the part of the Asylums Board. The hon. Member concluded by moving for the appointment of the Committee.


, in seconding the Motion, regretted that it had been necessary, because he had hoped that the strong and almost unanimous feeling of the inhabitants of Hampstead and the opposition manifested everywhere in London, if it could not overcome the obstinacy of the Asylums Board, would have led the President of the Local Government Board to withhold his sanction from a scheme which had encountered such general and reasonable opposition. He supposed that other Members had, like himself, received a circular signed "John Harry Jones," which asserted that all the pressure brought to bear to remove the hospital from the site proposed had been in the interest of a few persons who owned land contiguous to the site and who wished in consequence to get rid of the hospital. There never was a statement more unfounded. The meetings which had been held showed that the opposition to the proposed hospital was enthusiastic, spontaneous, and almost universal. He had personally inspected the proposed site, and it was the simple truth to state that it was in the midst of a populous neighbourhood, in the vicinity of most respectable houses, close to Hampstead Heath, and not far from the "Vale of Health"—which would be so called hereafter in irony. Hon. Members must all recollect the pains which had been taken to preserve the Heath from encroachment by the lord of the manor. A vigilance committee had been formed by the inhabitants, and the ratepayers and others had spent about £40,000 in securing, by an Act of Parliament, the Heath from invasion. The Heath was approached by only one thoroughfare, and all the holiday visitors going to the Heath by the way of Haverstock Hill would pass by the proposed hospital on their way. In the vicinity were many schools and orphanages, and many persons who desired change of air were drawn to the Heath by its reputation for salubrity. All these were reasons for not choosing the Heath as the site of a hospital if a less objectionable situation would be found. It might be denied that there was any danger of infection. The people of Hampstead had had some little experience on this point, because there had been erected a smallpox hospital on this site during the prevalence of that epidemic, and a Committee appointed to inquire into the truth of the allegation that smallpox had not broken out in the vicinity of the hospital reported that in a block of houses immediately contiguous 88 cases of smallpox had occurred in 57 houses which were inhabited at the time of the epidemic. There was an outbreak of smallpox at Hampstead which was attributed to the location of the smallpox hospital there. If it was true, as alleged, that there was no danger of contagion, let it be proposed to build a hospital in Victoria Street, in proximity to the Houses of Parliament, or Buckingham Palace, or in any crowded thoroughfare, and he was sure the House of Commons would unanimously put its veto upon any such proposal. It might be said—" Hospitals must be somewhere, and why should Hampstead be especially favoured?" But he did not ask that Hampstead should be favoured. What he said was, let that part of Hampstead be chosen to which there was the least objection. The inhabitants were not so unreasonable as to say that no part of Hampstead should be occupied by a hospital; but they offered the Board two other sites, either of which would be less objectionable than that which the Board had chosen. He would speak only of the more eligible of these two alternative sites—that in Mill Lane. Hon. Members had received maps in which were drawn circles, and the circle enclosing this site consisted of green fields and a few cottages, and the only objection to appropriating the land for this purpose was that it had been let to a speculative builder. But it was one thing to erect a hospital in the midst of houses already built, and another to erect it on land only let for building; and if the builder lost by his speculation, why, that would only prove that there was well-founded fear of living too near a hospital. Another alleged objection to this site was the contiguity of a reservoir of the Grand Junction Waterworks Company, the water in which, it was said, might be poisoned by filtration or soakage of the drainage from the hospital; but the sewage of the hospital could be diverted and carried down to a main sewer many feet below the level of the reservoir, so that there could not be the possibility of contamination. The Hampstead Committee were prepared to save the Asylums Board from any extra expense to be incurred in the adoption of this site, and the fact that they were ready to raise £29,000, which would cover all extra expense, was a very strong proof of their sincerity in this matter. A distinguished member of the Health of Towns Commission (Professor Owen) had given an opinion that ascertained facts bearing on the transmission of the germs of fever, and especially of scarlatina, were such as to attach a very grave responsibility to the Asylums Board in building a hospital on the site they had chosen if a site more isolated could be obtained; and such an opinion deserved consideration. The committee of the inhabitants had sent a deputation to the President of the Local Government Board, and had been very fairly received, and they had done all they could to induce the Asylums Board to alter its decision. At last they came to this House to ask it to grant a Committee of Inquiry, in order that it might be determined whether their fears were well-founded. He hoped the House, without expressing any opinion as to which was the best site, would refer the matter to a Committee.

Motion made, and Question proposed That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into and report upon the Clauses of the Metropolitan Poor Act (30 Vic. c. 6), giving powers to the managers of asylums to take, hold, and dispose of lands and other property for the purposes of the Act."—(Mr. Coope.)


said, the House was now asked to do what it had refused to do that very morning—namely, to interfere in a local squabble and to discuss a question as to the eligibility of sites. In 1867 the House created a new corporation to deal with the great question of health, and it confided to a Board, to be duly elected, the necessary discretion and powers; and there could hardly be a worse precedent than that the House should now, at the instance of dissatisfied residents in one locality, however influential, appoint a Select Committee to consider details which had been discussed in the papers for the last six months. He would not say a word in deprecation of the agitation of the people of Hampstead against having a pest-house placed in their midst. Although not in his borough, he had thoroughly surveyed the site to which objection was taken, and he had done all he could to ascertain what was to be said on both sides; but nevertheless he declined to express in the House any judgment at all, on the ground that it was not for the good and dignity of the House that it should be called upon to arbitrate in the matter. If the Asylums Board were charged with having neglected its duty, or with being corrupt, he would not oppose the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into the working of the Act; but from the speeches of the Mover and Seconder there could be no doubt that the object of the Motion was to transfer what they themselves described as an unmitigated nuisance from one end of Hampstead to another. In order to extricate the House from the necessity of discussing so small a question as that of Hampstead Heath versus Mill Lane, he had put on the Paper an Amendment to the effect that now, after six years' experience of the working of the Act, the Committee should inquire whether new general hospitals for infectious diseases were desirable or necessary. He referred the Government to the great body of cumulative proof that was within their reach, and left no doubt as to the opinion of medical men with regard to the danger of gathering together in huge hospitals numbers of persons who were suffering from the same disease. This was not a question merely as to the advisability of selecting this or that particular site in the neighbourhood of the metropolis for the erection of a gigantic fever or smallpox hospital, but whether great evil would not result from erecting such buildings at all. In reply to inquiries which he himself had made, he received communications on this subject from a number of medical men of considerable eminence. Doctor Septimus Gibbon, who had been the medical officer for 10 or 12 years to the densely populated union of Holborn, said— All large hospitals for fever and small-pox are a mistake in a preventive as well as a curative sense. The mortality in the best-appointed hospitals is three times greater than in home treatment. In 1863 small-pox killed in London 2,012; in 1871 it killed 7,876, owing to the hospital treatment adopted. Patients in typhus, small-pox, or scarlet fever emit the seeds of disease very copiously into the atmosphere, so that any transport of them through the streets is sure to spread the disease. A small detached infirmary of a few rooms is all that each locality requires. Doctor Ross, who had been for 15 years the medical officer of the Bloomsbury district, wrote to him— Huge fever hospitals in the suburbs are a mistake, inconvenient, costly, and ill-adapted to the cure of the sufferers. In an advanced case removal would be perilous, in an extreme case certain death. Often where isolation would be necessary the patient could not be removed. This, I have no hesitation in saying, is and will be the practical result of such a system. How can the interests of the sick and the healthy be reconciled? By having 'refuges' in every district, so that proper isolation may be insured, and the patients not unduly distressed by removal. He had further received a communication from Doctor Tidy, the medical officer of the parish of Islington—where the population was at least a quarter of a million—who said— If the building of a general small-pox hospital be a necessity, I consider the site at Hampstead as good as could be found anywhere. But are permanent small-pox hospitals necessary or advisable? In my opinion they certainly are not. The aggregation of disease is, under all circumstances, the aggravation of disease. I hold positively that in the time of epidemic, temporary hospitals are infinitely preferable to large buildings. The records of deaths in fever hospitals are sad stories of lives that, I believe, might otherwise have been saved. I am certain that permanent fever hospitals are nuisances. The aggregation of disease was its aggravation, and that, he (Mr. Torrens) believed, was the opinion entertained in foreign countries. The evil of collecting together large numbers of infected persons had been long seen in Germany and in America, where the plan was now adopted of treating persons suffering from contagious diseases of this character in small numbers, and in temporary buildings which could be utterly destroyed after the sick had been removed. Great stone permanent hospitals were, in his opinion, permanent blunders and led to permanent jobs. He did not know what course Her Majesty's Government intended to adopt on the question, but he respectfully submitted that if the Committee moved for nine to be appointed its powers should be enlarged so as to enable it to inquire into the necessity for erecting hospitals of this character in any part of the metropolis. He begged therefore to move the addition to the Motion of the hon. Member for Middlesex words to the effect he had mentioned.

Amendment proposed, To add, at the end of the Question, the words "and the said Committee shall specially report whether any new general hospital for infectious diseases in the metropolis is desirable or necessary."—(Mr. Torrens.)


said, he declined to consider this as a question which concerned the inhabitants of Hampstead merely; it was one which vitally affected the deepest interests of the working classes of this great Metropolis. It was solely on that ground that he thought it the duty of the House to put some stop to a scheme which, if carried into effect, would nullify the advantages of one of the most healthful resorts of the people. This House had been for years engaged in efforts to elevate the moral, social, and physical condition of the people, and therefore they ought to pause before planting an enormous pest-house in the midst of one of the most interesting of our suburbs. What was this body which called itself the Board of Management of the Metropolitan Asylums District? He was puzzled to find whence they came. The Act of Parliament under which this Board claimed to derive its authority never contemplated the existence of such a body. The 30th & 31st Vict. provided that the huge metropolitan area should be divided into districts, and that the Board should have the power of establishing one or more asylums, but it never contemplated that there should be one general body dealing with the whole metropolitan area as one district, such as the Board they had now to deal with. He did not want to go into the merits of this site or that site, but he thought his hon. Friend the Member for Middlesex had hit the nail on the head when he proposed that there should be an inquiry into the authority of the Board under the Act, and whether what they had done was or was not a justifiable exercise of their authority. The question was an important one and deserving of consideration, and he trusted Her Majesty's Government would grant the Committee in order that they might arrive at a just conclusion as to what was necessary to carry out the provisions of the Act.


said, he need not inform the House that this question of Hampstead Hospital had given him no small amount of trouble during the last six months, occasioned him no small anxiety, and taken up no small portion of his time. He might state at the outset that neither he nor the Government had taken the slightest pains to interest hon. Members on this question, or to induce them to vote on one side or the other. The Government considered that this was a proposal which they were in no way bound to resist, should it be the pleasure of the House to appoint a Committee; and his hon. Friend who would address the House presently on the part of the Asylums Board (Mr. J. G. Talbot) would state that that body did not shrink from, but rather courted an inquiry. At the same time, it was his bounden duty, as the head of his Department, to lay before the House certain reasons which should induce it to pause before arriving at the conclusion that the appointment of this Committee was either expedient or desirable. And in justice to his own Department and to subordinate departments which exercised functions of importance, he felt bound to lay before the House practical reasons which might lead it to see that in some respects the question was a very small, while in others it was a very large one. In the first place, he held that no sufficient case had been made for the Motion. His hon. Friend (Mr. Coope) asked the House to rip up the most important parts of one of the most important Acts affecting the Metropolis passed in our generation. Among the many services for which the name of his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War (Mr. Hardy) would go down to posterity, there was none more important than the Metropolitan Poor Act of 1867. The clauses to which his hon. Friend took exception had produced the most admirable results, both with respect to the ratepayers and the poor, and the House ought to be very careful before it allowed the operation of that Act to go before a Select Committee, with a view to its alteration. Great things had been done under the Act of his right hon. Friend. The hon. Member for Chelsea (Mr. Gordon) had stated that the constitution of this Asylums Board was not contemplated by the Act. All he could say on that point was, that the moment the Act was passed the first thing his right hon. Friend did was to constitute that Board. The object of the Act was that the several classes of sick should be separated, so as to be more effectively treated than they could he under the old law, and the first thing his right hon. Friend did was to constitute the Metropolis into a district, so that those unfortunate persons might be taken from the hospitals in which they had been before and treated in a more scientific and effective manner. The constitution of the Board was this—45 members from the Guardians of the different Unions of the Metropolis were elected by those Unions to represent them on the Board, and to these were added 15 members nominated by the Local Government Board. The body so constituted, consisting of 60 members, had within a period of six or seven years provided, at the expense of the Common Fund of the Metropolis, separate accommodation and treatment for about 4,000 of the imbecile who were not sufficiently lunatic to be maintained in lunatic asylums, and had also provided fever and smallpox hospitals. The two hospitals of Homerton and Stock-well had been built as permanent establishments for ordinary use. It was felt from the first that those two permanent establishments were not sufficient to meet the necessities of the Metropolis; other pieces of ground were therefore purchased, and among them that at Hampstead. A piece of ground was also purchased at Brompton and another at the East End of the town, and if epidemics unhappily broke out it would be the duty of the Asylums Board to avail themselves of those purchases; but no such necessity had as yet arisen. The members of the Asylums Board had made great personal sacrifices in maintaining and watching the working of these establishments. He said, without fear of contradiction, that the dangers encountered and the anxious responsibilities incurred by the members who had served on the Committees of the Asylums Board any hon. Member might well shrink from, and therefore when he heard them found fault with and reviled as if they were almost enemies of the human race, he could not help remembering, on the other hand, the great sacrifices they had made, the great risks they had run, and the great security they had been the means of giving to the public mind that in the time of an epidemic the most dreadful of infectious diseases would be removed from their own localities and treated in separate establishments. He could not help thinking that it would be a bad precedent if the House of Commons appointed a Committee to go into those local affairs. The question which had arisen between the Asylums Board and Hampstead was precisely that which might arise between the Board of Guardians of every Union in the kingdom and the inhabitants. Every Sanitary Authority was under an obligation to provide accommodation for the treatment of infectious diseases, and there would be no end to interference with local self-government if the House of Commons was to come in as the arbiter whenever a local difficulty arose. Therefore, he said a serious precedent would be established if this Committee were appointed. He would not go into the debateable matters which had arisen during the last nine months on this subject. On the one side it was said little if any injury had been done to Hampstead by the existence of the hospital; and on the other it was said that it formed a centre of infection for the district. Were he to give any opinion he should say that the hospital had been overcrowded with patients, and it would have been well if the other sites had been availed of; but he could not for a moment doubt that the existence of the hospital had been a great advantage both to the Metropolis at large and to the poor for whose benefit it was intended. He must also state his distinct opinion that the pleasure-seekers on Hampstead Heath were no more prejudiced by the existence of the hospital than the pleasure-seekers in Kensington Gardens or Battersea Park. At the same time, no doubt, a vast amount of prejudice had been excited on the subject, and if it were the pleasure of the House of Commons to appoint a Committee to investigate the subject he could not say he should be inclined to object. But in addition to the reasons he had already stated he would say what he had repeated over and over again—that there was no intention of building a permanent hospital at all on this ground. At an early period in March, 1874, seeing that the wooden sheds were in decay, it was proposed that they should be replaced by buildings of a more substantial character; and that was the only foundation of the delusion which appeared to prevail that a permanent hospital was about to be established. He could only say there was no such intention on the part of the Asylums Board; and, as no permanent hospital could be built without his sanction, he had repeatedly told those who were interested in the matter that he had no intention of giving his sanction to such a proposal even if it were entertained; but no such intention existed. His hon. Friend (Mr. Coope) who brought forward this subject had referred to the deputations which had waited on him in the autumn of last year. He (Mr. Sclater-Booth) then stated he should be extremely glad if an alternative site could be found, and he did everything in his power to bring those alternative sites before the Asylums Board. But he had no power to oblige them to adopt an alternative site, and he hoped no such power would be recommended by the Committee. The objection to the first and second proposed sites was undoubtedly sound. The third was a very plausible site to suggest. He had visited it himself, and it seemed in every respect most suitable. Many members of the Asylums Board were of the same opinion; but its opponents took a leaf out of the book of the Hampstead Committee. They procured an opinion from Dr. Frank-land that the water in a certain reservoir would be likely to convey the germs of fever or other infectious disease to the inhabitants of Grosvenor Square. His hon. and learned Friend who seconded the motion (Mr. Forsyth) stated that he (Mr. Sclater-Booth) had given his sanction to the building of the hospital at Hampstead. That was not so. He repeated that there was no such intention. In all human probability the two permanent hospitals—Homerton and Stockwell—would be sufficient, and there would be no occasion for another permanent hospital. If the House wished to appoint a Select Committee to consider the policy of the Asylums Board, he would offer no objection; but he was strongly opposed to the appointment of a Committee to sit upon the provisions of the Metropolitan Poor Act, which he ventured to say had been worked with great benefit both to the poor and the ratepayers. The Asylums Board deserved every consideration on the part of the House, and he should be sorry to see their conduct impugned.


said, he had no doubt the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board would adhere to the pledge he had just given that no permanent hospital of this kind should be erected on Hampstead Heath. He (Mr. Collins) had identified himself with hon. Members in the discussion and consideration of the subject for the last six or eight months, but this was the first official intimation he had received that there was no intention of proceeding with the erection of a permanent hospital on Hampstead Heath. He supported the hon. Member for Middlesex simply in the interest of the working classes, who were in the habit of resorting to Hampstead Heath in holiday, and of the numerous institutions located there in which a large number of children were maintained and educated.


wished to remind the House of a saying of the Prime Minister's that the House was "a Senate rather than a Vestry," and protested against so much time having been occupied with a matter of a comparatively local nature. The Metropolitan Asylums Board, of which he was a member, had received from numerous important bodies of their constituents expressions of approval of the site selected. That support had been received from the parishes of Paddington; St. Mathew, Bethnal Green; St. Mary, Islington; St. Leonard's, Shoreditch; Chelsea, and the Guardians of the City of London Union. The House would therefore observe that the Board had not exactly been acting contrary to the general feeling of the Metropolis in this matter. It must, no doubt, be admitted that they had been acting contrary to the wishes of the inhabitants of a certain part of Hampstead. Naturally people objected to have an hospital built close to where they lived; but it was necessary in a matter of this kind to consider the wants of the Metropolis as a whole. The wish of the Asylums Board was to effect the greatest amount of public good with the least inconvenience to the inhabitants of any particular locality, and they had attempted to do so in this instance. As to the assertion that the proposed hospital would interfere with the enjoyment of Hampstead Heath, there was no more foundation for it than there would be for saying that the Fever Hospital in Liverpool Road interfered with the enjoyment of visitors to the Agricultural Hall. A comparison had been drawn in the course of the discussion between the mortality in hospitals and the mortality in the homes of the poor; but it must be remembered that the reason why the latter was small was that so many patients were removed from their homes to the hospitals, so that the worst cases, in which there was the largest mortality, were in the hospitals and not in the homes. He challenged any one to deny that the Asylums Board had done great good to the Metropolis. Small-pox had almost been stamped out, and the virulent forms of fever had been considerably diminished. If the Board were not hindered by a factious opposition to their proceedings, he was convinced there would be still greater improvement witnessed. It could not be denied that there must be a third hospital somewhere, and the only question was, whether the site at Hampstead was not as suitable as any other which could be obtained. As to the site which had been proposed in Mill Lane, West End, a report of Professor Frankland—perhaps the greatest authority in regard to water supply—was conclusive against it. Professor Frankland found that the erection of the hospital at that place would be attended with considerable risk to the health of the customers of the Grand Junction Water Company. His report said— I ascertained by rough measurement that the floor of the reservoir is 23 feet below the surface of the surrounding soil upon which the hospital is, as I was informed, to be built; and although engineers may perhaps have confidence in their appliances for the prevention of soakage from the sewers of the hospital into the reservoir, yet I would deprecate the exposure of a large population to the fatal effects which would result from the failure of such appliances. The risk is increased by the circumstance that it is intended to use the reservoir for the storage of filtered water, because, if contamination of the water occurred, there would be no chance of its removal before the distribution of the polluted beverage to consumers. Without expressing any opinion of his own upon this report, he (Mr. Talbot) could not see how a hospital could be erected upon a site to which so much suspicion would attach in the event of any epidemic occurring in those parts of the Metropolis which were supplied from this reservoir. If the House desired the appointment of this Committee he would not oppose it, but he thought it unnecessary, and he would much prefer if the Motion were not pressed.


said, that if the proposed hospital was to be erected on the present site, which was within a quarter of a mile of his residence, where he had resided for some years, he should take the earliest opportunity of quitting that district. At the time the temporary building was used as a small-pox hospital hundreds of houses in the neighbourhood became empty, and more persons were attacked with small-pox in that district than in any other part of the Metropolis.


said, he was prepared to adopt the suggestion of the President of the Local Government Board, and limit the object of the Committee to the desirableness or otherwise of establishing an hospital at Hampstead.

Question, "That those words be there added," put, and negatived.

Original Motion, by leave, withdrawn.


proposed that a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into and report upon the action of the Metropolitan Asylums Board in respect of the establishment of a Fever and Small Pox Hospital at Hampstead.


said, that if the House were to appoint a Select Committee to inquire into every proposed hospital for infectious diseases, if it happened to be objected to by the inhabitants of any neighbourhood, they would have enough to do. He thought the House was about to set a most dangerous precedent, and would oppose the Motion.


hoped the hon. Member for Liverpool would not divide the House on this question. The erection of the proposed hospital affected a large portion of the Metropolis, and the House ought to have some control over a matter of so much importance to the public health.


did not intend to divide the House, but merely to enter a protest against the principle sought to be established.

Motion agreed to.

Select Committee appointed, "to inquire into and report upon the action of the Metropolitan Asylums Board in respect of the establishment of a Fever and Small Pox Hospital at Hampstead."—(Mr. Coope.)

And, on June 28, Committee nominated as follows:—Mr. SCLATER-BOOTH, Mr. ARTHUR. PEEL, Mr. COOPE, Mr. HATTER, Mr. PELL, Mr. LOCKE, Mr. PEMBERTON, Mr. RALLI, Mr. GOLDNEY, Mr. COLLINS, and Mr. RITCHIE:—Power to send for persons, papers, and records; Five to be the quorum.