HC Deb 07 August 1896 vol 44 cc109-10
MR. E. H. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S. W.)

I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether his attention has been called to the report of an inquest on a child held at Poplar on Monday last, when Dr. Cooper Harrison, the medical witness, attributed the existing prevalence of fatal cases of diarrhœa among children in the East End of London to the scanty supply of water, and also stated that in his own house the water was not turned on more than one hour a day, and that there was a filthy deposit in the water supplied; and whether, in these; circumstances, he will make further representations to the East London Water Company of the urgent necessity for improving both the quantity and the quality of the water which they are supplying to their customers?


The President has seen the report which has appeared in the newspapers of the inquest, and is aware of the statements of Dr. Harrison which are referred to in the Question. As regards the supply of water to Dr. Harrison's house, the President is informed by the East London Company that the supply of water was from 7 to 9 in the morning, and from 1 to 3 in the afternoon. This supply was for four hours, and he is unable to give any explanation of the supply being for less than six hours. With regard to the quality of the water, the company have forwarded samples of water which were yesterday drawn from the communication pipe supplying Dr. Harrison's house, and, so far as these samples are concerned, there is no evidence of any turbidity or other deposit in the water supplied, and the Local Government Board are not aware of any general complaint as to the quality of the water. As regards the prevalence of fatal cases of diarrhœa among young children in the East End of London, the President understands that the usual autumnal increase of diarrhœa has been somewhat exceptional this year, both in London and in many other towns. There is generally an exceptional increase when excess of temperature is combined with deficient rainfall, but there is no evidence to show that there is any increase in deaths from this cause in East London in consequence of the diminished supply of water in the district. Indeed, the published Returns for the last few weeks show that in certain divisions of London, and other towns where there has been no deficiency in the water supply, the increase in the number of deaths from diarrhœa has been greater than in the East district of the Metropolis The President has been in constant communication with the East London Water Company, and he has no reason to doubt that they are, fully realising the necessity of giving as large a quantity of water as the circumstances will admit.