§ LORD R. CECIL
I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether he has any information as to the cause of the recent collapse of houses in Castle Street; whether there is any reason to suppose that a similar collapse might take place in other parts of the Metropolis; and whether it is proposed to hold any inquiry into the matter.
§ MR. JOHN BURNS
The jury at the coroner's inquest on the persons killed by the fall of these houses found that there was no evidence to show what caused the collapse. Investigations have been made with a view of ascertaining the cause by the department of the superintending architect of the London County Council in conjunction with the district surveyor. The latter thinks that leakage from the old drains in one of the houses must have saturated and softened the earth under the walls and angle chimney breast, and also to some extent rotted the lower portion of the same, and he has suggested that this may to some extent account for the disaster. He also thinks that a cesspool which was situate only a few inches from an old angle breast may also have contributed to it. Having regard to the number of houses in London, some of which are about the same age as those here in question, I cannot say that it is impossible that an accident might happen elsewhere under similar unforseen circumstances, but the district surveyors are continually on the look out for buildings which indicate signs of danger, and Part IX. of the London Building Act, 1894, contains provisions for dealing 931 with such cases. As a matter of fact, accidents of this kind are of very rare occurrence. The matter is still being investigated by the superintendent architect of the County Council and the district surveyor and I do not think it necessary to direct an inquiry myself on the subject.