HC Deb 14 April 1896 vol 39 cc849-52

Order for Second Reading read.

MR. E. H. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)

said, the sanitary officers of East London bore testimony to the mischief against which the Bill was directed. One officer stated that owing to the insufficiency of the pressure the tenants on the upper floors of buildings had to borrow water from those on the lower floors, and another stated that for the same reason an offensive and dangerous nuisance was caused by the unflushed condition of the water-closets. The widespread interest which was taken in the question was shown by the fact that almost every local authority in the East of London had urged the London County Council to remedy the existing evil. The reason why the East London Water Company was singled out was because they had a lower statutory obligation imposed upon them in regard to the pressure of their supply than any other metropolitan water company. The general law was that every water company should be required to provide such pressure as would supply water to the top floors of the highest building in the district, but by the private Act of the East London Water Company, which was as old as 1853, it was prescribed that the statutory height of the pressure should be only 40 ft. above the pavement. The New River Water Company, which practically supplied the same district as the East London Water Company, had a statutory obligation to provide a pres- sure of 70 ft. The secretary of the Peabody Trust, which erected a number of blocks of buildings in Glasshouse Street, stated that at first the East London Company agreed that the New River Company should supply the buildings, and while the supply came from the New River Company there were no complaints. But after a while the East London Company withdrew their consent and supplied the buildings themselves. "Then," said the secretary, '' my troubles began.'' His name appeared first on the back of the Bill. The Vestry of Bethnal Green asked him whether he would be willing to back a Bill about to be introduced by the London County Councill dealing with the height of supply of the East London Water Company. Knowing the vital interests of his constituents in the matter, he gave his consent. He received no communication from the London County Council, and he was not consulted in drawing up the Bill. But even if the form of the Bill were better, even if it were less controversial, he could not ask the House to read it a Second time in face of the extraordinary fact that, although the Bill was promoted by the London County Council, and although the Parliamentary Committee of the Council had approved it and instructed the agent to introduce it, yet not a single member of the County Council who was also a Member of Parliament, was willing to back the Bill. He did not think that the House and those Members whose names were on the back of the Bill had been treated with proper respect. In these circumstances it was inevitable that the Bill should be withdrawn. A good cause would be prejudiced by going to a Division, for he believed that there was urgent need for a regulating Bill in this matter. The House, by its recent action, had indefinitely postponed the purchase policy; and there was a fair and open field for that policy of regulation to which a large section of the London County, Council were willing to agree. If the Second Reading had not been formally moved, he should have wished to have moved for the discharge of the Order and the withdrawal of the Bill.


protested against the manner in which the hon. Member for Bethnal Green had made a violent ex-parte statement against the East London Water Company at the same time that he withdrew the Bill on which it was founded. He protested, too, against the East London Water Company being branded as unwilling to supply the wants of the poor people in the East end of London. The height of the pavement in the metropolitan area varied enormously—from 10 to 110 feet above Trinity House high water mark; and the 40 feet above the pavement, which was the height to which the East London Company had to supply water, was equivalent to a height of 150 feet above high-water mark. He held a letter from the valuer of the London County Council thanking the Company for what they had done to supply the Capel Street Dwellings. The recent Inquiry by the Local Government Board had shown that the charges previously brought against the company were unfounded; they had done their best to give a continuous supply to dwellers in the East end, and the hon. Member for Bethnal Green was exceeding his rights when, in withdrawing the Bill, he attacked the company as he had done. He was bound to admit that he had a small interest in the company, but that was no reason why he should not defend them when he believed that they were right. Every dweller in the East end, even at the height mentioned in the Bill, was well supplied with water. The County Council had attempted to repeal a public and private Act without making any expert examination of the facts, and in doing so they had not raised themselves in the estimation of those who would like to support them when they were serving the public.

MR. H. S. SAMUEL (Tower Hamlets, Limehouse)

, said, that he had been asked by the sanitary authority of his district to support this Bill, and he consented because he believed that the public welfare demanded a water supply to the greatest height which buildings were allowed to attain. But he recognised that Her Majesty's Government had introduced a Bill creating a water trust whose first care would be to look after matters of this kind; and as there was not a single member of the County Council whose name was on the (back of the Bill, he must join with the hon. Member for Bethnal Green in his protest against the treatment which the backers of the Bill had received at the hands of the Council.

Motion made, and Question, '' That the Bill be now read a Second time," put, and negatived.

Bill withdrawn.