HC Deb 08 July 1881 vol 263 cc362-3

asked the First Lord of the Treasury, with reference to the responsibility of local authorities for the safety of the public as regards casualties from the fracture of the wires stretched over the public thoroughfares, Whether he will be so good as to state under what Act of Parliament this responsibility is thrown upon the local authorities, and what power the local authorities have to control the General Post Office or other authorities in fixing the wires; and, whether he is prepared to recommend a departmental inquiry, with a view to the avoidance of the serious risk now incurred to all persons using the thoroughfares under those wires?


in reply, said, that as this was a legal Question he would answer it. By the Act of 1863, Sec- tions 9, 10, and 12, Telegraph Companies were restrained from placing posts and wires along thoroughfares without the consent of the body having control of such thoroughfares. By the Act of 1868 the Act of 1863 was made to apply to the Postmaster General. Therefore, that Act only restrained Telegraph Companies and the Postmaster General; but, in relation to other public bodies and to private individuals placing posts and wires along the public thoroughfares, the responsibility of seeing that they were properly placed so as not to cause danger to the public rested with the body having control of the streets and highways. In the opinion of the Government, nothing had arisen to render necessary a Departmental Inquiry with a view to avoid the risk to persons using the thoroughfares under the telegraph wires. If any wire were erected to which the local authorities took exception on the score of danger to the public, they could restrain the Postmaster General in the matter.