HC Deb 24 July 1876 vol 230 cc1876-80

Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [22nd June], "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Sclater-Booth.)

Question again proposed.

Debate resumed.


hoped that the Bill would not be proceeded with at that late hour (10 minutes past 12). He considered that, if the Amendments proposed by the Government were introduced, the Bill would not affect the object in view, and he believed its principal supporters were certain Scotch manufacturers who thought that if it passed they would be able to pollute the rivers as much as they pleased. He was sure that those who had given their attention to the pollution of rivers must know that the prevention must be attended with considerable expense to those manufacturers who, for the purposes of their manufactures, first polluted them. The Bill had been so altered by Amendments that it was by no means the same Bill. The whole construction of the Bill would depend upon the interpretation put upon the words "reasonable cost." He would not move to report Progress; but, if necessary, doubtless some other hon. Member would make such a Motion.


supported the Motion. The Bill had far better be carried, than that nothing should be done for the purification of rivers for another Session. He considered it most essential to the health of the country, inasmuch as infection, it was well known, was carried along the stream of polluted rivers. He could not agree with the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea in his opposition to the second reading of the Bill; and with regard to the manufacturers, for whom he expressed so much interest, he did not see that they were to be considered more than other people. He hoped Parliament would pass the Bill that Session. What the Government proposed to do was quite reasonable; it was that the Bill might be read a second time with a view to the introduction of Amendments which they had well considered since the debate had been adjourned, and which, when printed, hon. Members would be better able to understand than they could do at present.


hoped the opposition to the Bill would be withdrawn, and a hearty endeavour made to pass it that Session. It was an excellent Bill, and if passed into law would effect a great improvement.


said, the Bill was in the interest of both the traders and the manufacturers. The subject of pollution of rivers was considered so important that it was mentioned in the Queen's Speech last year, and it was to be regretted that it was not brought in until the end of the Session. The House was no doubt aware that there had been a Royal Commission sitting on the subject for some years, and that Commission had decided on a Report. A Select Committee of the House of Lords had also inquired into the subject, and had made a Report upon it, but there was not a single one of the recommendations of that Committee included in the Bill. He asked what chance such a measure as that would have if it reached the House of Lords, where it was directly opposed to the views of the Royal Commission, and did not incorporate a single recommendation of the Committee of that House? The President of the Local Government Board wished the House to pass the Bill in silence. ["No, no!"] Well, the right hon. Gentleman had not explained what the new Amendments were to be, and the Bill was getting changed since it was first brought into the House. He considered that they would simply be wasting time to discuss the measure at that period of the Session, and therefore hoped it would not be proceeded with.


ould rather have no Bill than an imperfect one, but this was a Bill which was greatly required and called for in the North of England, and he hoped the House would consent to the second reading; at the same time he hoped the Amendments would be very carefully scrutinized in Committee, as he looked upon some of them with suspicion.


also supported the second reading.


was most anxious that the Bill should be passed, because the supposed indifference of the House upon the subject was in itself an obstruction to putting even the provisions of the present defective law into force. By passing the Bill, the House would remove an impression that that pollution could be carried on with impunity.


thought the Bill in its present shape too stringent, but if the 16th clause were omitted, and certain other modifications made, he should not oppose the second reading. He advocated uniformity of legislation for England, Scotland, and Ireland, and the compulsory acquisition of land to enable manufacturers to purify refuse.


considered it very desirable that the second reading should be agreed to, in order that the various Amendments which were in contemplation might be placed before the House.


said, it was impossible that a Bill on such a difficult and complicated question requiring such careful consideration could pass during the remainder of the Session. It could only be passed by satisfying all the manufacturers and traders who were engaged in polluting rivers, and would then be an obstruction to really useful legislation.


hoped that the Bill would pass a second reading. The deputations, so many of which had come up to London, were at first opposed to this Bill; but they had at last come to the conclusion that while it would prevent the pollution of rivers, it would not be oppressive to the manufacturing and other interests concerned. In Scotland there was a general desire to see the measure passed, as the present law had not succeeded in purifying the rivers.


wished that a Bill with this object should pass, but then he wished it to be a good Bill, and they were not likely to have a good Bill when they were discussing it at that period of the Session, and at that time of night (a quarter to 1 o'clock). He would move the adjournment of the debate.

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


hoped that the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Dillwyn) would not press his Motion. The subject had been under his consideration for two years, and he felt sure that no initial measure could be passed that was not in some degree a skeleton Bill. If the measure were postponed, the House might spend six weeks or two months next Session without passing a more complete and effective Bill than the present. The manufacturers of several towns which had at first opposed the measure were now anxious that it should pass, and that there should be a uniform provision for the whole of the Kingdom, making it a statutory offence to pollute rivers. No one would think of legislating on the subject without due safeguards for the protection of the manufacturing and other interests involved. In future years there might be special tribunals and Conservancy Boards to take in charge the improvement of the rivers of the Kingdom from their sources; but the initial measure must be some such a Bill as the present. It was impossible to exaggerate the importance in regard to the water supply of this country of keeping the sources of rivers free from pollution, and this Bill would do more to improve the purity of the domestic supply of water than any other measure that could be proposed. The House would incur a vast responsibility if it rejected this Bill. The important thing was to get the obligation of law placed upon the sanitary authorities, the owners of mines and manufactories, and private individuals in every district, and there was now a bonâ fide desire in the very centres of manufacturing industry that this general obligation of law should be imposed.


said, he was not opposed to the second reading of the Bill with a view to the introduction of the Amendments to which the right hon. Gentleman had referred; but it was necessary that the measure in its new shape should be fully discussed on going into Committee.

In reply to Sir ChaRles W. Dilke,


said, the Bill would be reprinted, and be in the hands of hon. Members by Wednesday morning at latest.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read a second time, and committedfor To-morrow, at Two of the clock.