§ Bill considered in Committee. (In the Committee.)
§ Clause 1 (Short title) agreed to.
§ Clause 2 (Commencement of Act).
§ SIR SYDNEY WATERLOW moved in page 1, line 9, to insert the year 1883, in place of the year 1882. He said this Amendment was proposed with the object of giving time to manufacturers and others to put their works in order. In the case of cement manufacturers, the works could not be altered without the expenditure of a large amount of time and capital; and he did not think the Government desired that persons should be subjected to those heavy inconveniences without having proper time given them for the purpose. Supposing that this Amendment were not agreed to, he was prepared with another on Clause 8, providing that the owner of cement works should have no fine levied upon him within six months after a first order was made against him under the Act; and if the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board was willing to accept the latter Amendment he was ready to withdraw the former.
§ MR. DODSON
was of opinion that the first Amendment was quite unnecessary, inasmuch as no Court would convict a man and inflict a penalty for not having altered his works in obeyance to the requirements of an Inspector under the Act, unless sufficient and reasonable time had been given him to do so. The alkali manufacturers had been subject to similar legislation under previous Acts, and he was not aware that any case of hardship of that kind had arisen. Therefore, although the principle of the Amendment was reasonable, it was entirely unnecessary; and as the effect would be to prevent the Act coming into operation until 1883, it was one which he could not accept. In regard to the latter Amendment, he could only say that he approved the principle of it, and would consult the Law Officers to see 1630 whether words could be introduced to that effect.
§ MR. WARTON
could not understand how the right hon. Gentleman could undertake to recollect the proceedings of Courts of Justice. The right hon. Gentleman seemed conscious of the weakness of his position, because he undertook to consult the Law Officers. In his (Mr. Warton's) opinion, it would be far better to have words inserted in the Bill than to trust to what the right hon. Gentleman and the Local Government Board would guarantee in the Courts of Law.
§ COLONEL MAKINS
inquired whether, in the event of the hon. Member for Gravesend (Sir Sydney Waterlow) withdrawing his Amendment the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Dodson) would postpone Clause 8 until he had the opportunity of considering the point?
§ MR. DODSON
replied that he did not say that he would postpone Clause 8; but that he would consider whether it was necessary or desirable to introduce some words in another part of the Bill to give effect to what the hon. Baronet proposed.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clause 3 (Condensation of muriatic and other acid gases in alkali works).
§ MR. ERRINGTON moved, in page 1, line 17, to insert after the word "work" the following words, "to the extent of ninety-five per centum and." The hon. Gentleman complained that the Bill proposed to substitute the percentage standard regulating the consumption of noxious gases by a new standard which would be less stringent. Therefore, he regarded his Amendment as very important, and hoped the Government would accept it. The law hitherto had required manufacturers to condense 95 per cent of the noxious gases evolved by their works; and he thought there would not be the least objection on the part of the manufacturers to guarantee that the new law should not be less efficient than the old.
In page 1, line 17, after the word "work," to insert the words "to the extent of ninety-five per centum and."—(Mr. Errington.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."1631
§ MR. STEVENSON
, on behalf of the Alkali Manufacturers' Association, stated that they would agree to the Amendment. It would be a pity to lower the present standard of condensation and to decrease the stringency of the law in that respect. Unless this proviso was inserted the manufacturer would be enabled to allow three times as much gas to escape as he did at present; in fact, in some cases, it would raise the amount of escape to about 15 per cent. Those who were connected with the trade declared, and legislation had been based upon the principle, that the law ought to compel negligent manufacturers to keep their works up to the standard maintained by careful manufacturers. He should propose that the gases mentioned in sub-section 6 should be only those of sulphur and nitrogen; and he would venture to strongly recommend the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Dodson) to accept the Amendment.
§ MR. DODSON
I have no objection to accept the Amendment which the hon. Member proposes on behalf of the manufacturers. I am willing to insert in the Bill, in line 17, after the word "work," the words "to the extent of 95 per centum and," if the manufacturers desire it; but we must accept the Amendment on its own merits, and I cannot undertake, in consequence of its adoption, to agree to accept from the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Stevenson) any definition as to the gases mentioned in sub-section 3 being gases of sulphur and nitrogen. I could not accept any proposal to confine the gases under that definition. According to the information I have received from the Inspectors, the text would apply to muriatic acid, and to other acids, whether as chimney or flue gases.
§ MAJOR NOLAN
wished to know from the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill whether it applied to Ireland. It was not clear whether it did or not, although, at the end, there were several references to that country. If Ireland were included in the scope of the measure, he should think it would be desirable to amend the measure by omitting all reference to Ireland, for there was not much chance of the air being contaminated by alkali or other works there. If Ireland were included, the rating for sanitary purposes might be increased; and he, therefore, asked that 1632 she might be left out, unless the Irish Members asked that the Bill be extended to their country. He should be disposed to look with considerable jealousy upon the measure, unless he received an assurance that it would not affect Ireland. He should like to see small alkali works established there; but the passing of this Bill, if it applied to that country, would render the starting of such works there even less likely than it was at present. There had been a manufactory in Galway that would have come under the definition of an alkali works. No doubt, in England there were some districts which were considerably injured, almost poisoned, by works of this kind, and legislation in their case was necessary; but he could not imagine such a case occurring in Ireland. It would be quite time enough for them to provide this remedy for Ireland when any of her people suffered from the inconvenience which the measure was designed to remove. In the last clauses of the Bill several Irish Acts were quoted; and it would, to his mind, be an advantage if the Committee had an assurance from the Government that the measure would not apply to Ireland.
I must point out to the hon. and gallant Member that this is scarcely the time, when we are discussing the Amendment of the hon. Member for Longford (Mr. Errington), to consider the general question of the extent of the operation of the Bill.
§ MAJOR NOLAN
said, he thought it right to give Notice that he should jealously watch every clause of the Bill. He did not profess to be interested in alkali works, and he did not wish to be understood as implying that his constituents were interested in them, although he believed, as he had said, there had been a kelp works in Galway which would come under the definition of alkali works. He had a right to jealously watch every clause of the Bill, and when an Irish Member got up and said that he did not want to have the measure extended to his country, unless other Members from Ireland rose and expressed a desire that it should be so extended, the Government should give him an assurance that Ireland would not be affected.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
said, it seemed to him most extraordinary that at this hour (1.10 a.m.) they should be 1633 discussing the question as to whether the Bill did or did not apply to Ireland. To make way for the discussion of this measure they had interrupted the course of a most important Bill affecting the interests of the Irish people. The discussion on the Irish Land Bill had been interrupted for the alleged purpose of enabling the Attorney General to introduce a measure of great and pressing importance; but it was now plain that, in the opinion of the Government, it was not necessary, for the purpose declared, to take that step at all, as they had not even thought it expedient to take a division on the question that the Speaker leave the Chair. It seemed to him that the Irish Members, after having seen the debate on the Land Bill adjourned, could hardly be expected to sit there quietly to discuss this Alkali Works Regulation Bill, which they had had no reason to expect would be brought before the House to-night. Be would move to report Progress.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Arthur O'Connor.)
§ MR. DODSON
I hope the hon. Member will withdraw the Motion, and allow us to make some progress with this Bill. It is a measure in which a great many Members on both sides of the House are interested; and there is a general feeling throughout the Assembly to see it carried. The manufacturers who are interested are anxious to see the thing settled; and the residents in the districts affected by noxious gases are anxious to have the nuisances from which they suffer abated. An hon. and gallant Member below the Gangway has appealed to me to know whether Ireland is included in the Bill. Ireland has been included in all the Alkali Acts, and in all the legislation which has taken place on this subject; and I fail to see any reason why, on the present occasion, it should be omitted from the operation of the measure. But, whatever may be the merits of the case as to including or excluding Ireland from the operation of the Act, I venture to submit that the question does not arise on the Amendment before the Committee.
§ MR. CALLAN
wished to know whether any demand had been made for the Bill on behalf of the Irish people, or 1634 whether the official Representatives of that country, who were Irishmen, had considered whether the measure should be extended to Ireland or not? He would ask some Member of the Government who knew something about Ireland to reply.
§ MR. HIBBERT
said, he would give the hon. Member the information he required. The Representatives of Ireland in the Government had been consulted; and, moreover, the Bill had been framed in accordance with the recommendations of a Royal Commission founded upon evidence drawn from Ireland as well as other parts of the United Kingdom. It could not, therefore, be said that this measure had come upon the Irish Members by surprise.
§ MR. RATHBONE
would appeal to Irish Representatives on this question. The Bill, it was true, might not affect Ireland; but it certainly affected a large number of Irish people—in fact, he might almost say that it affected more Irish than any other people. There were enormous Irish populations in the neighbourhood of some of the most injurious chemical works; and it was to protect the residents in the districts surrounding such manufactories that this Bill was promoted. Irish Members complained that the Land Bill had been interrupted to make way for this measure; but that was not the fact. The Land Bill had been interrupted solely for the purpose of going on with a measure which had nothing whatever to do with the Bill before the Committee. He would point out to the Irish Representatives that this was a measure affecting the health of a great many of their countrymen; consequently, he appealed to them not to persist in their present course.
§ MAJOR NOLAN
said, that the hon. Member who spoke from the Government Bench had informed them that the official Irish Members had been consulted. He presumed, from the words in which the information had been couched, that the Official Irish Members had simply been consulted as to the drafting of the Bill. No doubt, the measure had been drafted very properly; but had they been consulted as to the necessity for the Bill? That was a very different matter, and he failed to see how connection with the Departments they represented should enable them to give a sound opinion as to the necessity of the Bill. He did not complain of 1635 the drafting of the measure; but he said there was no Irish demand for the Bill. He could understand the necessity for legislation in crowded neighbourhoods, such as the hon. Member for Carnarvonshire (Mr. Rathbone) had referred to; but he thought it would be a great mistake to pass such a measure for Ireland, as it would have the effect of fettering manufacturing enterprise. If anyone could show him the necessity for such a Bill, he should be satisfied; but, seemingly, nobody could. He could not see why the Government should hesitate to concede their simple demands. The Irish Members had not been consulted. The Bill was unnecessary; if it passed in its present form, a staff of Superintendents would be established for Great Britain alone, and the work of inspecting would be badly carried out in Ireland. No doubt, help works could be conducted in Ireland; but the Board of Trade had refused to give him statistics about them last year, and that was another reason why he looked with jealousy upon this Bill. Unless some case was made for extending the Bill to Ireland, he should support the Motion for reporting Progress.
§ DR. COMMINS
was at a loss to know who the parties were who were in such a hurry to see the Bill passed. The Board of Trade seemed to think that some people were anxious that the measure should be passed without delay; but he had been in communication with two of the largest alkali manufacturers, and, so far from being in a hurry to see the Bill carried, they considered that it would interfere with their trade, and do enormous damage to their interests, and also to the interests of the labourers employed by them. The next point was this. What was the necessity for extending the measure to Ireland? He should like the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Dodson) to point out to him one single alkali works in the whole of Ireland. He believed there was not one, and he would point out to hon. Members who wished to extend the measure to Ireland that if, before the principal alkali works in England came into existence, such a Bill as this had been passed, at this moment we should not have a single alkali manufactory in the country. It was because it was necessary to discharge noxious fumes into the air from these manufactures that works had been set up in the wastes of widnes and on the 1636 sands of Flintshire. If it had been possible to sue the manufacturers for allowing noxious vapours to escape from their factories, these works would never have been established. Who, he would repeat, was in a hurry for this Bill? The manufacturers themselves were not, and the operatives were not anxious to have it, for they had never asked for it. He thought, therefore, that further time should be afforded for the consideration of the matter, so that the Government might not hastily take a step which would affect most injuriously not only the capital, but the labour employed in these manufactures.
§ SIR R. ASSHETON CROSS
The hon. and learned Member asks—"Who is in a hurry for this Bill?" Perhaps he will allow me to reply that everyone who lives in the neighbourhood of these alkali works is in a great hurry for it. In the vicinity of these works the country is destroyed for miles; in fact, the country is becoming a desert. The hon. and learned Member says that two alkali manufacturers have informed him that they are not in a hurry to see the Bill passed, because it will destroy their trade; and he further says that if the measure had been passed earlier the trade of Widnes never would have arisen. It is clear that the hon. and learned Gentleman knows nothing about the subject, and I am afraid "the two gentlemen interested in the alkali trade" who have spoken to him are gentlemen who care little what injury they do to the trade or to anyone but themselves. The best manufacturers are content with the Bill. They know they can manufacture under the provisions of this measure, without material loss to themselves, and they are willing to come under these provisions, always provided one thing—namely, that all manufacturers are brought under the Bill, because there are some inferior manufacturers who do not care what they do to their neighbours. The bonâ fide, well-established alkali manufacturers are anxious not to interfere with the interests of their agricultural neighbours.
§ MR. MAGNIAC
thought the hon. and learned Member (Dr. Commins) was labouring under a mistake. He knew of two very considerable works in Ireland which, when they were extended—as he hoped they would be—would, without such a measure as this, cause great damage to the surrounding coun- 1637 try. The hon. and learned Member, no doubt, had spoken in the interests of his country; but he (Mr. Magniac) also was speaking in the interests of Ireland and in the interests of the Irish manufacturers. This Bill was brought in after the works at Widnes had been carried on for a great number of years. These works had been carried on without regulations, and the result had been that so much damage had been done to the surrounding country that legislation had become absolutely essential. In the course of the debate this afternoon on the Irish Land Bill, he had been surprised that the result——
§ MAJOR NOLAN
Mr. Chairman, is the hon. Member in Order in referring to what occurred in another debate?
§ MR. MAGNIAC
, resuming, observed that the opinion had been expressed that a result of the measure would be the application of capital to Irish industries. He trusted that would be the case; and he believed from his knowledge of the subject that one of the first industries to which such capital would be applied would be the manufacture of manure, which he considered absolutely essential to the proper cultivation of the land. He also believed that by this measure an immense amount of capital would be saved, and he hoped that a considerable number of works would be established. If such works were established and placed under the regulations of this Bill, capital would not be wasted in works which did not consume their gases, and deleterious results would be prevented. If Irish Members opposed the Bill, and ill-regulated works were established in Ireland, there would be such an outcry that at the eleventh hour a Bill similar to this would have to be brought in. Ill-regulated works would cause great damage; and he was sure that any Member who understood the question would agree with him that it would not only not be for the benefit of Ireland to exclude that country from the Bill, but that it would cause much waste of capital.
MR. MAC IVER
, speaking as one acquainted with Widnes and the neighbourhood, said, the damage done by these works was really residential damage, and that, after all, what might be objectionable near a town like Liver- 1638 pool might be perfectly unobjectionable in certain districts in Ireland. He thought the question raised in reference to Ireland was most important, because he felt, and many hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House felt, that the industrial condition of Ireland was a matter of the first importance.
§ EARL PERCY
admitted that the statement of the hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Mac Iver) was one which came from a great authority, coming from a Gentleman who lived near Widnes; but he confessed, having visited Widnes, that the statement that the works there only caused residential damage was a most surprising one. The agricultural value of land in the neighbourhood of works of that kind had greatly deteriorated, and there was a general outcry for legislation. Several hon. Members wished that the Bill should not apply to Ireland, and would watch it very jealously if it did apply to that country; but, although the Committee would be glad of their scrutiny of the Bill, he did not see why the question whether or not it should apply to Ireland should be raised at that stage. He would suggest to those hon. Members that they should allow the Bill to proceed, and then raise that question in Committee.
§ MR. HEALY
gathered from the noble Lord who had just spoken that this was really a landlords' Bill. It was objected that the Irish Members had risen at the wrong moment to interpose; but he wished to point out that if the hon. Member had not raised his question now he would be easily defeated at a later stage, and so no satisfaction would be obtained from the Government. He, therefore, would ask the Government to consider the hon. Member's point immediately. There had been seine chemical works in Ireland which were now killed, and he complained that such measures as these were not mentioned in the Queen's Speech; but that, in order to pass measures placing restrictions on manufacturers, other measures were mentioned, to throw dust in people's eyes.
§ MR. WILBRAHAM EGERTON
, referring to the previous speaker's statement that this was a landlords' Bill, said, that as a Member of the Royal Commission he had heard a great deal of evidence on the part of working men, among whom there was a very strong feeling that noxious gases affected their 1639 health and made life almost intolerable. In Widnes and St. Helen's there was a large number of men engaged in these works, and they suffered very greatly from the effects of the gases upon their respiratory organs. He hoped that hon. Members from Ireland, who enjoyed pure air, would not prevent the passage of this Bill, which was so necessary to obtain pure air in some districts in England. If there was no impure air in Ireland the Bill would not affect that country. It was simply in the first instance, a consolidation and extension Act, and it did not affect Ireland to any great extent. The objections of the hon. Members from Ireland appeared to him unsubstantial; and he only wished there were more works in Ireland with more employment for the people. He did not think the hon. Members would benefit Ireland by raising objections to Ireland being included in the Bill, and so stopping its progress.
§ MR. WHITLEY
, speaking as the Representative of a large constituency deeply interested in this subject, hoped the House would support the Government. A Royal Commission had been appointed upon this question, and he regretted that the Bill did not go further in the direction of the recommendations of that Commission. Every large town in the country had reported in favour of the Bill, and he was surprised to hear that the hon. and learned Member for Roscommon had not heard anything of it. The hon. and learned Member for Roscommon (Dr. Commins) was a member of the Corporation of Liverpool, and that Corporation had petitioned in favour of the Bill. The Corporations of Manchester, Warrington, and of other towns had done the same, and there was hardly a large town in the North of England which was not very much interested in the Bill. Thousands of working men were interested in the promotion of a Bill affecting the question of their health, and he regretted that any objection had been raised to a measure which he hoped would have met with the universal approval of the House. Hon. Members from Ireland might renew their objections when that portion of the Bill affecting Ireland came under discussion; but at present the House was not considering what parts of the country the Bill referred to, and he 1640 hoped the House would allow the Committee to pass the clause.
§ SIR SYDNEY WATERLOW
explained that he did not wish to stop the Bill; but hon. Members who had spoken had discussed the Bill as if it were purely an Alkali Works Bill. If it had been only such a Bill, there would have been unanimity of opinion in the House in favour of the manner in which alkali works were to be regulated, to prevent their injuring and interfering with the cultivation of the land. But the Bill included, besides alkali works, sulphuric acid works, cement works, chemical manure works, gas liquor works, nitric acid works, sulphate of ammonia works, and muriate of ammonia works. He did not know whether there were any such works in Ireland; but what he would venture to suggest to the Government, in order to secure unanimity on the Bill, was that they should confine it to alkali works and sulphuric acid works. There would then be no opposition to it.
§ MR. CALLAN
said, that when the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Magniac) sat down, he was under the impression that the object of the Bill was to facilitate industrial enterprize in Ireland, for the hon. Member's speech was one showing the inestimable benefits to be conferred on Ireland by the passing of the Bill in reference to works none of which existed in Ireland. In a Committee of that House an alkali manufacturer at Widnes and Liverpool had said that day that he objected to any facilities, such as cheap coal, being given for the benefit of foreign countries. Probably that gentleman, Mr. Muspratt, looked on Dublin as a foreign country, and he wished to place restrictions on that foreign country, which might compete with Liverpool or Widnes. It was not surprising that one of the hon. Members from Wales, where there were many alkali works, should object to Irish Members endeavouring to exclude Ireland from the operation of the Bill; but if there were no alkali works in Ireland, why should the Government wish to place restrictions on works which had no existence? Did not that give rise to the suspicion that the Government apprehended that, in consequence of the restrictions they were imposing on works in England, a new industry might arise in Ireland, and that, with that foresight which was so peculiar to the English 1641 character, they wished to guard themselves against the consequences of this Act, and prevent rival works in Ireland? As the English Members were so anxious that the Bill should pass, he thought the President of the Local Government Board should ease the minds of Irish Members by undertaking that Ireland should be excluded, so that they might then leave the criticism of the Bill entirely in the hands of the English Members. If he would not concede that, the Irish Members might have to criticize the Bill in such a way that it might not pass even by September next; but they would not wish the people of Widnes to be subjected to that result.
§ MR. M. BROOKS
could not help thinking that hon. Members opposite were opposing the Bill through misapprehension. In the City of Dublin there were several alkali works. He was sorry there were not more; but through the absence of such legislation as was proposed large portions of the City were placed at a great disadvantage by works which were not placed under regulations. He was of opinion that if the Bill was passed Dublin would largely benefit; and although many hon. Members know of manufactories in various parts of Ireland, there were many who could not be aware of the enormous advantage which Dublin had derived from the works established by Sir Robert Kane, who did so much to promote industrial works in Ireland. But the extension of such works had been hindered by the great injury that had been done to Dublin through the want of proper regulations respecting noxious vapours. The population of that City were very anxious that there should be good regulations under which manufacturers could enlarge their operations without increasing the injury to health and property. He believed that if Dublin were polled upon the question there would be an enormous majority, not only of the working men, but of those who represented the City on the Boards of Guardians and other public bodies, and of all who had at heart the prosperity of the City, in favour of such regulations as were proposed. He could not say what would be the effect of the Bill in Galway or in rural districts; but it would be of great advantage to Dublin and the surrounding districts. And he hoped that hon. Members opposite 1642 would see the benefit the Bill, if passed, would effect, at least in the Metropolis of Ireland, in promoting the manufactures they were so anxious to enlarge.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, he only rose to take part in the debate for the purpose of saying a very few words. He certainly hoped that at that advanced hour of the night (1.40) the discussion of so important a Bill would be postponed until another day. The strain which Her Majesty's Government had already brought to bear in the course of the evening upon the mental constitution of the House ought to be sufficient. The Bill was a very important one. He had been quite inundated by representations in regard to it on one side and the other; and he confessed that he should like to have a little more time for the consideration of the clauses. If the Bill were a simple Alkali Bill, the simplicity of the measure would commend itself to the House; but it included every noxious product except the noxious Bills of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. Forster).
§ MR. HIBBERT
observed, that the Government had been in correspondence with persons in Ireland who were interested in the question. Hon. Members who had spoken from Ireland seemed to fancy that Ireland at present was not under the Alkali Acts. It so happened, however, that Ireland, as well as Scotland, was under the Acts affected by the present measure. The Bill itself was a consolidating as well as an amending Bill. It consolidated all the existing Acts, and brought other works under the operation of the law. So far as alkali works were concerned, they could not be in a more disadvantageous position if the Bill, so far as it affected alkali works, were allowed to pass than they were now. He would suggest that if the House allowed the Government to take this clause, in regard to which there were really only two Amendments on the Paper, his right hon. Friend (Mr. Dodson) would then consent to report Progress.
§ MR. BIGGAR
thought the Government ought to allow the Chairman to report Progress at once. It was rapidly approaching 2 o'clock in the morning, and the clause now under discussion contained details which would require still further consideration. He felt bound 1643 to protest against this practice on the part of the Government of pushing forward the different stages of important measures at such an advanced hour of the night, when hon. Members could have no real opportunity of discussing the merits of the different clauses. He would remind the House of the course which had been pursued by her Majesty's Government in regard to this identical measure. It was introduced without any explanation, read a second time at a late hour of the night without discussion; and now it was before the House in Committee without any information having been supplied by those who were responsible for it, as to the details of the measure, and the consequence was that the majority of the Members present knew nothing whatever of the provisions of the Bill. The Irish Members had been under the impression that it was simply an Alkali Bill, which proposed to deal only with questions which affected England; and now they had found out, for the first time, without having received the slightest explanation as to the merits of the Bill, that it applied to Ireland as well as to England. It was no answer at all to their objections for the hon. Member the Secretary of the Local Government Board (Mr. Hibbert) to tell them that it was merely a Consolidation Bill, because, if it was a Consolidation Bill, it was also something more, and included various provisions which were intended not only to consolidate, but to amend and extend the existing law. Under these circumstances, it was only right that they should report Progress, in order that the Irish Members might have an opportunity of reading the Bill and carefully considering its provisions, so that, at least, they might have some idea of what the whole thing was about, and be able to approach the discussion of the clauses with something like a reasonable knowledge of the effect they were intended to produce. Many Irish Members, whose constituents were interested in the Bill now that it was found to apply to Ireland, were absent, and it was unreasonable in such circumstances to ask them to discuss the Bill, and to alter and extend the law, at 2 o'clock in the morning. The course which Her Majesty's Government were endeavouring to take appeared to him to be a most unreasonable one, and they were bound to give much stronger and 1644 more satisfactory reasons than they had done for inducing the House, at that late hour, to continue the consideration of matters of such extreme importance.
§ MR. OTWAY
said, he was able to confirm to a great extent the remarks which had been made by the hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar) as to the manner in which the earlier stages of the Bill had been disposed of. The Bill, no doubt, was of a very important character; but it was read a second time between 1 and 2 o'clock in the morning, and in the absence of any discussion upon the principle of the measure. If it had not been for the circumstance that he (Mr. Otway), knowing that his constituents were very much interested in the provisions of the Bill, had come down to the House at a very late hour, there would not have been a word said upon the Bill at all. He had felt it his duty to raise an objection to some part of it, and the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board, who had charge of it, promised that the objections he urged should receive consideration. The promise of the right hon. Gentleman had not, however, been carried out, and the proposals contained in the measure in regard to that portion of it to which he had objected were very far from what he had expected to find them. But his hon. Friend the Secretary of the Local Government Board (Mr. Hibbert) now made a proposition which he (Mr. Otway) thought was one of a reasonable character, and one which the Committee might fairly accept—namely, that they should dispose of Clause 3—the clause now under consideration—and then report Progress. When they had got rid of Clause 3, they would reach some very important provisions concerning the alkali manufacturers. If hon. Members opposite would consent to accept the proposition which had been made by his hon. Friend the Secretary to the Local Government Board, they would not debar themselves from discussing hereafter the question which they considered to be of importance—namely, whether the Bill should apply to Ireland or not; but they would afford an opportunity to the alkali manufacturers to settle the question which affected them with the right hon. Gentleman below (Mr. Dodson). He thought the proposal that they should report Progress after they had gone through Clause 3, 1645 was only a reasonable one, and he hoped the Motion now before the House for reporting Progress would be withdrawn.
said, he had listened with some astonishment to the course of the debate. It was first contended that the Bill ought to apply to Ireland; then that there were no alkali works in Ireland at all; and now it was said that there were a large number of such works in Ireland, and that the provisions of the Bill would injuriously affect them. Even a further objection was raised—namely, that it was improper to discuss the Bill at so late an hour, and that the Committee ought to have been brought on at an earlier period of the evening. He need not remind hon. Members that it was altogether impossible to bring on every Bill at an early hour. So far as the necessity for applying the measure to Ireland was concerned, everyone who was acquainted with Belfast must know that there was a very large manufacture of chemical manures carried on in the suburbs of that town. In Dublin there were also large manure works; and so far as the City of Cork was concerned, a former Member for that City had given evidence that he was at the head of very large manure manufacturing works in the County of Cork. Personally, he (Mr. Macartney) was an unfortunate shareholder in a mining company in Wicklow, established originally for the production of copper, but which now manufactured manure instead. The sanitary state of the City of Dublin alone ought, he thought, to induce every Irishman to hail with satisfaction any measure that might be brought before the House for reducing the sickness and mortality in that City. There could be no doubt that the disagreeable smells which emanated from works engaged in the manufacture of chemical manures must have a serious and prejudicial effect upon the health of the people who lived in a neighbourhood where they were carried on. And what might be said of Dublin would apply also to Belfast and Cork, and to every other place where these works existed. He certainly did not envy the feelings of those who wished to have chemical works established in the localities in which they lived. To say the least of it, they must have very strong nerves.
§ MAJOR NOLAN
remarked, that various Irish Members had taken part in the debate; but the hon. Member for Dublin (Mr. M. Brooks) went a little too far when he said that the City he represented was seriously injured by the escape of noxious gases from manure works already in existence. He (Major Nolan) represented a constituency who knew a good deal about the matter, and he was satisfied that if there was any great danger to the lives of the inhabitants from the escape of chlorine or sulphuric acid, or nitric acid, he would have heard something about it. It appeared to him that the majority of the Irish Members were opposed to the extension of this legislation to Ireland. The Bill, however, had been introduced without consulting the Irish Members, and there was very great danger that a country already largely interested in the establishment of alkali works might make regulations which would be very detrimental to a country that wished to engage in such manufactures. His hon. Friend the Member for the City of Dublin said that this legislation would be beneficial to the manufacturers in Dublin; but whether that were so or not, it was believed by the Irish Members that, as a general rule, it would not be advantageous to the rest of Ireland; and he confessed that he should like to hear some arguments from those who were thoroughly acquainted with the subject before he consented to apply the Bill to Ireland. The provisions of the Bill would allow Inspectors to go all over the works, and do a good many things which might be altogether unnecessary, and which would certainly involve a large expenditure of capital. He, therefore, failed to see how the existing works would be benefited by the Bill. He was of opinion that if the division which was about to take place showed that there was a large majority of the Irish Members against the Bill, Her Majesty's Government might strike out Ireland from the operation of it. That would only be a reasonable concession to the Irish Members, and he thought they might occasionally consider the interests of Ireland in their legislation.
§ MR. DODSON
felt bound to call the attention of the Committee to the extraordinary proposition which had been made by the hon. and gallant Member 1647 who had just sat down. At present the Alkali Acts extended to Ireland. Alkali works in Ireland were subject to what was known as the 95 per cent test. It was proposed to re-enact and preserve that 95 per cent test, which was the test to which the works already existing in Ireland and Scotland were now subjected and had been subjected for many years. And upon the Motion that that test should be preserved, the hon. and gallant Member suggested that they should take a test division whether the Bill should be extended to Ireland or Scotland at all.
§ MR. M. BROOKS
wished to point out to his hon. and gallant Friend (Major Nolan), that this was not a restricting measure, but a regulating measure; and he thought he could show his hon. and gallant Friend that in the absence of a regulating Bill the alkali manufactures in the City of Dublin were already restricted. They were restricted in this way. The City of Dublin had great advantages for the manufacture of manures; but, in consequence of the absence of a regulating Act, the deleterious gases which emanated from such works had such an injurious effect upon the property in the surrounding district that the inhabitants of the City of Dublin, in the absence of any Act regulating the manufacture, had hitherto opposed the establishment of new works.
§ MR. T. D. SULLIVAN
regarded the Bill as a measure which had been introduced in favour of the public health, and he did not see that any substantial objection had been offered to it on the part of those of his hon. Friends who opposed its application to Ireland. He was himself aware that there were many noxious vapours emitted in the City of Dublin. He had had a painful experience of them, and he was surprised to find that any Irish Member could be found who was favourable to the Conservation of bad smells. He thought the people of Ireland had as good a right to be preserved from these poisonous gases as the people of England, and from that point of view he supported the measure. It was said that there were no alkali works in Dublin. If there were none, this Bill would not hurt them; and if there were some, as he knew there were, then the application of the Bill to Ireland would do 1648 something towards preserving the public health. He would not dwell further upon the matter; but as so much had been said about the feeling of the Irish Members, he was anxious to add that there was no absolute unanimity among the Irish Representatives on this subject, and that he, for one, was in favour of legislating for the preservation of the public health, and for the regulation of manufactories which at present emitted noxious gases and smells which were deleterious to the public health.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, the question, as he understood it, was not whether it was a desirable Bill or not—for this was not the second reading of the Bill—but whether or not, at 2 o'clock in the morning, they should be asked to go on with the discussion of a measure which they had not examined, and which they really knew nothing about. In the remarks he had made he had not said one word about the Bill itself, and he could not do so until he had had an opportunity of reading and considering its provisions. Seeing that the Irish Members, generally, were in the dark in regard to the provisions of the Bill, and did not know whether or not it would be injurious to the manufacturers of manures in Dublin, Belfast, Cork, and other places, he was only anxious to find out whether it was drawn in such a manner as to be favourable to Irish interests. It was only reasonable, he thought, that Her Majesty's Government should afford him an opportunity of making such an examination. It was most unreasonable that the Government should endeavour to force on the Bill before the Irish Members had an opportunity of forming an opinion as to the character of its provisions. The hon. Member for Rochester (Mr.Otway) advised the Irish Members to accept the proposition of the Government, and agree to report Progress after the 3rd clause had been disposed of. He did not think the advice of the hon. Member was sound advice. His hon. Friend the Member for Galway (Major Nolan) wished to have Ireland excluded altogether from the operation of the Bill, and suggested a test division; but it was always a dangerous plan to allow a question, which they wished to see settled in a particular way, to be decided by a division in a House in which they knew they were in a minority. It was far better that they 1649 should have time to examine the provisions of the Bill thoroughly.
§ MR. FINDLATER
thought the Bill might with advantage be extended to Ireland, in order that works of the character dealt with might be regulated and rendered less injurious to the health of the people.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
pointed out that he had, an hour ago, moved that Progress be reported. Since that time it had been made manifest that there was a considerable difference of opinion amongst Irish Members with regard to the measure, and that fact was an additional reason for concluding at the stage which had been reached, in order that further time might be allowed for consideration. It was, in his opinion, very desirable that Irish Members should have an opportunity for considering what would be the effect of this proposed legislation upon Ireland as a whole, and not merely upon the town of Belfast.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 13; Noes 133: Majority 120.—(Div. List, No. 191.)
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, as the Bill would affect a considerable number of works in Ireland, and several hon. Members were absent who were not aware that the Bill was to be extended to Ireland, and, further, on the principle upon which he always voted with regard to Bills taken at an hour when they could not be sufficiently discussed, he begged to move that the Chairman do leave the Chair.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do now leave the Chair."—(Mr. Biggar.)
§ MR. DODSON
I am, of course, unable to agree to the Motion that Mr. Chairman do now leave the Chair; but I am willing that Progress be reported at this point, if the Motion be withdrawn.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again,"—(Mr. Dodson,)—put, and agreed to.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Thursday.