HC Deb 16 March 1891 vol 351 cc1051-2
MR. LENG (Dundee)

I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether he has seen Professor Frankland's Report, stating that during the month of February the water abstracted from the Thames by the Chelsea, West Middlesex, Southwark, Grand Junction, and Lambeth Companies was, in all cases, of very inferior quality, being polluted by an abnormal amount of vegetable organic matter, that supplied by the Grand Junction Company on the 5th February surpassing in respect of organic impurity any sample of Thames water examined by Professor Frankland during the last quarter of a century, being opalescent from imperfect filtration, and not in a fit state for dietetic use; whether he has further observed that Dr. Koch's process of examination applied to the water supplied in the different Metropolitan districts showed the existence of "microbes" in the respective ratios of Kent 20, New River 74, West Middlesex 104, Chelsea 144, Grand Junction 220, East London 248, Lambeth 284, and Southwark 356; whether the Reports from the Officers of Health show that there is any correspondence between the condition of the water supplied and the amount of sickness in those districts; and whether, if the existence of "microbes" in water for drinking and culinary purposes is found to be pernicious and injurious to the public health, the medical officers of the Local Government Board are able to recommend any effectual method either of extracting or counteracting them?


My attention has been drawn to the Report to which the hon. Member alludes. With regard to the analysis of the water supplied by the Grand Junction Water Company on the 5th of February, I recently stated the facts very fully in reply to a question of the hon. Member for the Knutsford Division of Cheshire. As to the analysis of the water supplied at a later date in the same month by other Metropolitan Water Companies, I have no doubt that the abnormal amount of vegetable matter, although much less than was the case with the water from the Grand Junction Water Company on the 5th February, was occasioned by similar causes. Dr. Frankland informs me that the exceptionally impure condition of the river-derived waters supplied to the Metropolis in February has now passed away, and that these waters have apparently returned to a condition approaching the normal at this season. I have communicated with Dr. Frank-land with regard to his statements as to the existence of microbes. He states that the number was not large for filtered river water, and that as no pathogenic organism was observed among the microbes, their presence does not afford any ground for alarm. The Board have not received any Report from Medical Officers of Health, showing that there is any such correspondence as is suggested in the question.

*MR. BOULNOIS (Marylebone, E.)

I wish to put a question to the right hon. Gentleman, which arises out of the answer he has just given, namely, whether it does not appear from Dr. Frankland's Report of February that the water supplied to Glasgow and Birmingham during that month was inferior to that usually supplied to those places?


I am afraid that that is a question I cannot answer without notice.