HC Deb 12 June 1896 vol 41 cc954-5
DR. MCDONNELL (Queen's Co., Leix)

I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board, whether his attention has been drawn to the Reports of Dr. F. J. Waldo, Medical Officer of Health to St. George-the-Martyr, Southwark, which state, among other matters, that, on the occasion of a night visit to the Blackfriars Salvation Army Shelter, the air therein was not only dangerous to health but also to life itself; and, whether the Government will make provision so that Salvation Army and other night refuges of a similar nature be placed within the purview of the Common Lodging Houses Act?


I am aware of the Report of Dr. Waldo with reference to the Blackfriars Salvation Army Shelter. On the night in question, when Dr. Waldo reports that the shelter was overcrowded so as to be dangerous to health and to life itself, there were 1,031 inmates of the shelter. Proceedings in consequence were taken by the vestry of the parish, and an order of prohibition of the overcrowding was made by the magistrate, who considered that 500 should be regarded as the limit of accommodation. Subsequently, an application was made to the High Court with a view to the order of prohibition being quashed. A rule nisi for a certiorari was granted, but after argument the rule was discharged. The decision of the High Court shows that the shelters are subject to the provisions of the Public Health (London) Act as regards overcrowding, and that those provisions can be enforced in the case of a shelter in like manner as in the case of overcrowding in a dwelling-house. The existing law is, therefore, adequate to meet the case of overcrowding in these shelters, and it is not necessary for this purpose that it should be provided by legislation that the shelters shall be common lodging-houses.