HC Deb 27 May 1919 vol 116 cc1148-51

(1) The power of making and enforcing bylaws under Section ninety of the public Health Act, 1875, and Section ninety-four of the Public Health (London) Act, 1891, shall in the case of houses intended or used for occupation by the working classes be deemed to include the making and enforcing of by-laws—

  1. (a)for fixing and from time to time varying the number of persons who may occupy a house, or part of a house which is let in lodgings or occupied by members of more than one family, and for separation of the sexes therein;
  2. (b)for the registration and inspection of such houses;
  3. (c)for enforcing drainage and promoting cleanliness and ventilation of such houses;
  4. (d)for requiring provision adequate for the use of and readily accessible to each family of—
    1. (i) closet accommodation;
    2. (ii)water supply and washing accommodation;
    3. (iii)accommodation for the storage, preparation, and cooking of food; and where necessary for securing separate accommodation as aforesaid for every part of such house which is occupied as a separate dwelling;
  5. (e) for the keeping in repair and adequate lighting of any common staircase in such house;
  6. (f) for securing stability, and the prevention of and safety from fire;
  7. (g) for the cleansing and redecoration. of the premises at stated times, and for the paving of the courts and courtyards;
  8. (h) for the provision of handrails where necessary for all staircases of such houses;

9.0 P.M


I beg to move, after paragraph (h), to add the words (i)for prohibiting the building of underground rooms in semi-urban districts; (j) for requiring the provision of adequate garden ground attached to Hats where this form of building is adopted; (k) for requiring proper lighting and ventilation for every room in each house. On the first of these paragraphs I am not quite sure whether the right hon. Gentleman has omitted this prohibition of building underground rooms in semi-urban districts for the reason of the need of the proper use or of the creation of rooms of this type in this sort of building, or because he considers the by-laws now obtaining are sufficient for their elimination; but whichever way it be, bearing in mind the tremendous ill-effects on health, as we have had acknowledged during the recruiting time, of the folks who come from these localities and who have resided in those places, many of us feel that they should be eliminated. I therefore suggest that if he does not admit the necessity of it he should refer to the statistics and ascertain the results on the physique of the people. If, on the other hand, he considers the by-laws are sufficient and suitable, I should like to refer him to very many cases where even at this moment building is progressing, and I suggest that the by-laws should be tightened. On paragraph (j) there is at present no sufficient and adequate arrangement whereby suitable garden grounds should be given to flats requiring them. I suggest that the by-laws should contain something in this nature. On paragraph (k) I do not think there is any science which has been so neglected as that of ventilation. Throughout the whole of this Bill I have noticed no provision for the separate ventilation of the rooms in the different houses, and while possibly in many houses the ventilation as a whole may be apparently sufficient, I suggest that the separate ventilation of the rooms is not adequate.

Captain BAGLEY

I beg to second the Amendment.


I think my hon. Friend with respect to the first two parts of his proposal is under some misapprehension as to the scope of the Clause. Paragraph (i) begins "for prohibiting the building of," and (j) begins "for requiring the provision of." But the Clause relates to buildings in existence used or intended to be used as dwellings for the occupation of the working classes. It is, therefore, clear that in the case of buildings or schemes not yet brought into being, the Clause would not appropriately apply. The aims he rightly has in (i) and (j) will, of course, have to be met in the passing of plans which will have to be submitted for future buildings. They will not apply to existing buildings, to which these by laws are intended to apply. Also with respect to the first portion of his proposal, Sections 71 and 75 of the Public Health Act, restrict these rooms to "a, room habitually used as a sleeping place, the floor of which is more than three feet below the surface of the street," which shall be deemed to be a dwelling house dangerous or injurious to health and be unfit for human habitation and therefore subject to a closing order. When he tells me a good many have not been closed he is telling me something with which I am only too familiar. The reason we have not had closing orders is that very often there is nowhere else for the people to go. In Committee, in the Second Schedule, we inserted the words, "or more than three feet below the surface of any ground within nine feet of the room." We put those words in to meet the case of houses in colliery villages where the back door may be higher than the front door. At all events, apart from the fact that we have strengthened the Bill in another place for this purpose and that his proposal would apply to buildings to be erected, whilst this applies to existing buildings, they are really two separate matters and the same remarks apply to his provision in the next item. The third, however, does apply, and there I am prepared to meet him as far as I can. In paragraph (c) ventilation is specifically mentioned.


Not for every room.


That is true. I take it that the expression "ventilation" will be properly held to include all the parts of a house where people live or sleep. Otherwise I should say the house would not be properly ventilated. With regard to lighting, that is not mentioned in the Clause, and if the hon. Member will be good enough to help me to supply that deficiency, I should be grateful to him. Whilst the first two are quite inappropriate in this Clause, and the third is met I think the other might well be added, and it would come very properly as paragraph (i) "for securing the adequate lighting of every room in such house." If the hon. Member will move it in that way I will accept it.


I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment and to accept the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment made: In Sub-section (1), after paragraph (h), insert the words (7) "This Section shall be deemed to be part every room in such house."—[Mr. Sugden].