§ MR. ATHERLEY-JONES (Durham, N.W.)
I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that the sewage matter from the cesspools in the Staines district, in large quantities, flows into the Thames above the intakes of the London Water Companies, and that, for some years past, typhoid and other zymotic disease have been endemic in that district; and whether the Local Government Board intend to take any steps to remedy this state of things?
§ MR. RITCHIE
As regards the Staines Urban Sanitary District, the arrangements with respect to the disposal of sewage are very unsatisfactory, and I have no reason to doubt that some of the sewage from this district finds its way unpurified into the Thames above the intake of Water Companies. This matter has been the subject of repeated communications to the Local Board, but hitherto they appear to have failed to realise their responsibility in the matter. With regard to the Staines Rural Sanitary District, the condition of things is fully described in a Report by one of the Board's Inspectors, which was issued last month, and which the Local Government Board have brought specially under the attention of the Local Authority and the County Council of Middlesex. The Inspector in this Report states that in no one of the past seven years for which he has record has the district been free from typhoid fever, and that this disease has been very high in rank among the zymotic causes of death. The Thames Conservancy Board instituted proceedings against the Staines Local Board by indictment, but the procedings failed, the Court holding that the Local Board had not caused or suffered the sewage to flow into the river, as it passed by drains which had been provided by the owners and occupiers of houses and not by the Local Board. The Conservators have since served notice upon more than 100 individuals to discontinue this discharge of sewage. The Statute allows 12 months for compliance with the require- 281 ments of the notice. This time has now expired, and the Board are informed by the Conservators that it is intended to proceed against some of these persons by way of test cases. I was informed on the 28th of last month that should nothing satisfactory result from the recent election of members of the Local Board the test cases will be proceeded with. The Local Government Board are empowered, under Section 299 of the Public Health Act, on formal complaint by any persons that the Sanitary Authority have made default in not providing sufficient sewers for their district, to direct a local inquiry, and if, after inquiry, they are satisfied of the default, to issue an order requiring the Authority to discharge their duty in the matter. If the Board receive such a complaint from persons resident in the district I will take care that prompt action is taken.