HC Deb 13 June 1881 vol 262 cc441-51

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)


, in rising to move the following new Clause:— (Application of Act as regards Ireland.) In Ireland this Act shall only apply in the County and City of Dublin, and in towns of over 50,000 inhabitants, save so much of this Act as repeals the former Alkali Acts which apply to the whole of Ireland, said, it was unnecessary again to take up the time of the Committee with argu- ments which he had advanced on a former occasion, and he hoped the Government would accept an Amendment which would be of the greatest advantage to Ireland generally.

New Clause (Application of Act as regards Ireland,)—(Major Nolan,)—brought up, and read the first time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be now read a second time."


said, he hoped the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Major Nolan) would not press this clause, for it was one which, as a matter of principle, the Government could not accept. At the same time, the practical effect of the Bill would be nil, for the hon. and gallant Member was aware that these works were nearly all in the neighbourhood of those towns which his clause would exempt from its operation.


said, that he, with many other hon. Members, were certainly, at the close of the last Sitting of the Committee, left under the impression that the Government would accept this Amendment of the Bill, and it was a surprise to both him (Mr. O'Shea) and them to hear the right hon. Gentleman's refusal.


hoped his hon. and gallant Friend (Major Nolan) would not persevere in pressing the clause. He would like to point out that there was at that time being honestly carried out in Ireland a great sanitary measure; and, unless Ireland were brought under the operation of the Bill, there would not be that development of manufactures so desirable. Without such regulation in the works, residence in their neighbourhood would be intolerable, and property, in consequence, must become depreciated in value.


said, it had been on the understanding that the Government would bestow favourable consideration upon this proposal that they had allowed Progress to be made with the Bill on the last occasion. He was astonished to see the Government come down now and, without favouring them with any reasons for its refusal, say that they could not accept the Amendment. He hoped the hon. and gallant Member would go to a division.


had not heard that Englishmen or Scotchmen complained, about the measure, and pointed out noxious vapours did much, more harm in the country—where vegetation suffered—than in large towns.


said, the hon. Member who had just sat down (Mr. Tennant) had informed them that it was not in large towns that the injury was done, but in country places; and, as an Irish Member representing a large agricultural district, he rose for the purpose of supporting the Amendment. During the progress of the Coercion Bill through that House, he (Mr. Callan) had very often seen the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Tennant) supporting it, and he alleged that in so doing he was fighting for the interests of the Empire. He had heard no such allegation in regard to the matter before the Committee. Perhaps, however, the hon. Member had spoken for the Irish people in his constituency. He (Mr. Callan) wished to give a piece of advice to the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board in his dealing with the Irish Members, about whom he knew so little, and, no doubt, cared less. He would advise the right hon. Gentleman not to lead Irish Members to believe that he was inclined to accept their Amendments, and then to endeavour to get off without any explanation—to say that he could not accept them without giving any reason.


hoped the House would support the proposal of the hon. and gallant Member for County Galway (Major Nolan), and on two grounds. The first was this—without venturing to say that there was a specific pledge, there was a hint given at a late hour of the morning that if the Irish Members did not press their objection, their feelings and wishes would be considered. The second ground was that they were all desirous of promoting the welfare of Ireland, and of seeing manufactories started there, as Ireland had very few of them, and, when they were established, they should be attended with as few restrictions as possible.


said, he would deprecate going to a division on that question. The Bill had been on the Paper for a long time, and it was still two stages from the end; therefore, it was not at all unlikely that they would have to fight the battle again when the Amendment was rejected. He did not know whether his hon. and gallant Friend (Major Nolan) thought it would tend to the progress of the measure or the dignity of the House to discuss the question over and over again. For his own part, he would counsel the withdrawal of the Amendment, and to take the decision upon the question, finally, at a future stage.


said, he was extremely sorry if anything he had said the other night had given rise to a misunderstanding in the minds of hon. Members. He was certain he did not intend to do so, and he was certain he did not give a pledge to anyone. What he had said was that he would give the matter careful consideration. Well, that he had done; and, as a result, he was bound to say on the part of the Government that he could not accept the Amendment at all. He could assure hon. Members opposite that he was anxious to promote the interests of Ireland as far as he could in the matter.


said, the right hon. Gentleman had never given any reason for his refusal. If there was a strong opinion on the part of the Government, surely it was based upon something, and that something he should like to know.


said, the effect of the Amendment would be to give one law to one part of Ireland, and another to another, and to that principle the Government could not assent.


said, that, on a former occasion, great anxiety was evinced by the Irish Members that the provisions of this Bill should be extended to Ireland.


said, that if the hon. and gallant Member (Major Nolan) divided the Committee he would support him, as he could not help believing that the effect of the Bill would be to prevent the establishment of new alkali and other similar manufactories in Ireland.


said, it was assumed by some hon. Members that the Irish Representatives were in favour of exempting Ireland from the Bill. They had had a long discussion of the question on a previous occasion, and hon. Members from the North, South, and East of Ireland, and from the large towns where the manufactories existed, spoke in favour of having the Bill extended to those places, It was only where these manufactories did not exist, and the people were not affected by ill-regulated works, that they did not desire the measure. If the object of the Bill was to extinguish these manufactories, it would neither be accepted in England or Scotland. Such was not its object; but it was intended to regulate these works, so that noxious vapours should not spread throughout their neighbourhood.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 16; Noes 140: Majority 124.—(Div. List, No. 245.)


On the Motion of Mr. DILLWYN, the following Amendment made in page 14, line 7, by inserting after "copper," the words "or other metals."

On the Motion of Sir SYDNEY WATERLOW, Amendment made, by leaving out, in page 14,line 8, the following words:— (2.) Cement works (that is to say): Any works in which aluminous deposits are heated for the purpose of making cement.


said, he rose for the purpose of moving the addition of "tar works" to the Schedule, and the reason he did so was because in the constituency he represented great nuisance was caused by tar works. Blackheath, Woolwich, and several other places were included in that district, and they were in this unfortunate position, that they had two foul smells—one produced by sulphuretted hydrogen, and the other by he could not say what. The sulphuretted hydrogen undoubtedly proceeded principally from the tar works situated on the north bank of the river; and, if the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Dodson) would kindly refer to the Report of the Royal Commission in 1878, he would find that evidence was given before the Commission which showed that sulphuretted hydrogen was produced from tar works. He thought, therefore, he was right in saying that the foul smell of which the inhabitants of Blackheath and Woolwich complained was produced by the tar works, and for that reason he would ask the right hon. Gentleman to include those works in the Schedule. Complaints of the nuisance to which he referred had been made, not only by the inhabitants—who had been obliged to organize a sanitary association in order to endeavour to get rid of the nuisance—but also by the inhabitants of Woolwich, and the military authorities of Woolwich.

Amendment proposed, In page 14, to add the words "(8.) Tar works (that is to say): Any works in which the distillation of tar, or manufacture of dyes therefrom, is carried on."—(Mr. Boord.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there added."


said, it was quite true, as the hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Boord) had said, that evidence was taken, with regard to these tar works, before the Royal Commission, and that it was stated in the Report that they gave out sulphuretted hydrogen, which was, no doubt, a very unpleasant gas. He did not know what the other matter was to which the hon. Member had referred, although, apparently, it was not less unsavoury than sulphuretted hydrogen. But the recommendation of the Royal Commission was that tar dye works should be placed under simple inspection. They were placed in the catalogue of other works that were to be subjected to simple inspection only for the reason that the Commission stated, after hearing the evidence, that they were not prepared to recommend any specific method or ready-means of abating the evil. The principle upon which they had proceeded in this Bill was not to subject any works to simple inspection. They only proposed to touch those works with which their Inspectors saw their way to deal, and they-did not wish to incur unnecessary expense by increasing the staff of Inspectors. In course of time, as they saw the working of the Bill, and as medical science progressed, it might be possible to add to the Schedule of works. Many manufacturers might express a desire to have their works added to the Schedule, and if at no distant time—as he hoped would be the case—the Inspectors saw their way to deal practically with the works, the Government would be ready to extend the operation of the Bill.


was sorry to hear the right hon. Gentleman say he was not prepared to deal with these tar works. The question was a wider one than the right hon. Gentleman seemed to think, for the omission of some half- dozen works from the Schedule showed that the comprehensive spirit in which the Bill was originally framed had been departed from. Following the lines of the Royal Commission, when the Bill was drafted, it was understood that it was to be so comprehensive that all works from which noxious vapours escaped should be dealt with. He should have thought that all works to which no specific limitation was applicable would have been placed in such a position as to be under the obligation of preventing the escape of such noxious vapours as chemical science might from time to time find a remedy. The right hon. Gentleman admitted that chemical science might find a remedy for some of the nuisances, but there would be no machinery in the Bill for applying the remedy so discovered. He was sorry this provision was to be omitted from the Bill, as he believed it destroyed the justification of the Bill as a measure of public policy. Without a full Schedule the measure was merely one for the extension of the Alkali Works Regulation Act, and for one or two other objects.


trusted the right hon. Gentleman would re-consider his decision in this matter, as it seemed to him that the Bill would be utterly useless unless the Amendment were accepted. If the House admitted that these works did give off a vast amount of sulphurous gases which were exceedingly deleterious, he could not understand why a Bill of this kind, which was supposed to be dealing with noxious gases, should not be supposed to lead with such dangerous gases as those above referred to; and he hoped his hon. Friend (Mr. Boord) would persevere and take the opinion of the Committee. As a matter of principle, he thought it would be absurd that works of this kind should not be included in a measure professing to deal with noxious gases.


said, he had very great doubt whether the Bill would work well; but, at all events, he thought his right hon. Friend was right; and as he had expressed his readiness to add other works, if the Bill did work well, he hoped he would adhere to his decision.


observed, that the House of Commons was very adverse to the bringing in of Bills to extend the operation of previous Acts, and said he thought the objections urged by the right hon. Gentleman were not of sufficient weight to prevent the proposed addition. The right hon. Gentleman objected to extending inspection to these works until the proper means of reducing the nuisance had been discovered; but it was not proposed to do that. It was simply proposed to enable the Inspector to apply She best practical means when they were discovered; and it was evident that if they they did not know the best practical means they could not apply them. He could not see the slightest hardship to the manufacturers. It might increase the expenditure on inspection; but that was precisely what the country was prepared to do. He had heard no complaint as to the expense to be incurred.


remarked, that the Government said they would be willing to include these works when the proprietor desired to be included; but he should like to know when they would desire to be included? It was his opinion that they would continue to carry on these works as long as they could with impunity, and it would be hard to compel his friends to wait until such an unlikely event happened. The other smell, the origin of which he was unable to state, had been graphically described as very like that noticed near the half-consumed remains of a burning Native in India. The Amendment was of such importance to the inhabitants of Black-heath that he should feel bound to press for a division.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 40; Noes 68: Majority 28.—(Div. List, No. 246.)


said, he had given Notice of an Amendment to add to the Schedule works of different character, and some of these were covered by what the right hon. Gentleman had said as works in which there was no process at present known which would bring them under the category of noxious gases works proper. But there were other works which he proposed to add with regard to which it was perfectly known that at very little expense means might be employed which would entirely overcome the objectionable emanations, whether smoke or gases. The first of these were coke works; and some of the strongest evidence given before the Royal Commission had reference to coke works. The district they covered was very extensive, and the harm they did was also very extensive, while the remedy for the nuisance was extremely simple and effectual in character. In the Bill of the late Government, a proposal was made that a certain time—he believed it was three years—should be given to coke manufacturers to make such alterations as would be necessary. That period was agreed to on all hands, and he should like to know why the Government had omitted coke works from this Bill? and he would earnestly press them, even at this time, to include coke works in the Schedule. His reason for proposing to introduce them with the other works mentioned in the Amendment was that they were recommended by the Royal Commission.

Amendment proposed, in page 14, at end, add— (8.) Coke works (that is to say): Any works in which the manufacture of coke from coal is carried on, exclusive of any works where the coke made is a bye product of the manufacture of gas; (9.) Glass works in which common soda or sulphate of soda is used in the manufacture of glass; (10.) Lead works (that is to say): Any works in which ore containing lead or any material or product containing lead is treated for the purpose of the extraction of lead; (11.) Nickel works (that is to say): Any works in which nickel ore is treated for the purpose of extraction of nickel; (12.) Spelter works (that is to say): Any works in which ore is treated for the purpose of the extraction of zinc; (13.) Salt glazing potteries (that is to say): Any works in which earthenware or pottery is made, and in which the salt glazing process is carried on; (14.) Tar dyeworks (that is to say): Any works in which the manufacture of colouring matter from tar or substances derived from tar is carried on; (15.) Tar distilling works (that is to say): Any works in which tar is distilled or its products treated so as to give off noxious or offensive vapours; (16.) Cobalt works."—(Earl Percy.)

Question proposed, '' That those words be there added."


said, the works included in the noble Earl's Amendment be-longed to the third category of works in-eluded in the Report of the Royal Commission. Those works were recommended to be subjected to inspection only, because neither the Royal Commission nor the Inspector of the Local Government Board was prepared to say what were the means that ought to be applied to them. They were only to be subjected to inspection in the hope that some means of dealing with them might be discovered hereafter. The Royal Commission, however, treated the coke works in an exceptional manner. They recommended that existing coke ovens should be subjected to simple inspection; but that all ovens erected after the passing of the Act should be required to adoptthe best practicable means of preventing nuisance. In the present Bill the Government had gone on the principle of not subjecting works to mere inspection; and, therefore, they had not included any of the works which the Royal Commission recommended should be so dealt with. For that reason, he was not prepared to accept the Amendment of the noble Earl: and a further reason was, that these works not being already included in the Bill, he thought it would be hardly fair to put them in now, as it were, unawares. He hoped that before many years had elapsed many, and perhaps all, of these works would be added to the Schedule; and as to the objection that that would involve future legislation, he must point out that even if the works were now introduced and subjected to simple inspection, fresh legislation would be necessary for the application of specific standards or to make them adopt the best practicable means.


, referring to the suggestion that the addition of these works now would be springing a mine on the manufacturers, reminded the Committee that this point was raised before the Committee in "another place," and that the Amendment had been put down for several weeks. He therefore did not see that there was any unfairness in now raising the point. When the right hon. Gentleman spoke of the Royal Commission having recommended that coke ovens should be placed merely under inspection, he must remind the right hon. Gentleman and the Committee that that recommendation referred to coke ovens then existing, and also that the reason why the Committee made that recommendation was that there was no other weapon by which they could bring coke ovens under control. He should like to know why the Government had not accepted what the late Government saw their way to propose—namely, that after the lapse of three years the coke oven owners should be obliged to convert their works in such a manner that they would absorb all noxious gases. The coke ovens, it was true, stood in a different position from the other works; but, for that very reason, it was perfectly easy to stop the nuisance without any hardship to the manufacturers, and without increasing, to any sensible extent, the labours of inspection. So far as coke ovens were concerned, he should be anxious to press the Amendment.


pointed out that if the noble Earl's Amendment were adopted, the owners of coke ovens, who were to have three years' notice under the Bill of the late Government, would have no notice, but would come under the Act immediately. The Amendment would, therefore, be a severe measure to which the coke oven owners ought not to be subjected.


said, he should feel obliged to vote with the noble Earl, but for the reasons advanced by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Dodson); and he must add his testimony to the statement of the noble Earl that no objection had been made to the proposed provision. If the noble Earl divided, he should vote with him; but, after the statement as to the difficulty of adapting the proposal to the measure, he did not know that his noble Friend would be of opinion that he ought to divide.

Amendment negatived.

Schedule, as amended, agreed to, and added to the Bill.

House resumed.

Bill reported; as amended, to be considered upon Monday next, and to be printed. [Bill 185.]