HC Deb 06 December 1926 vol 200 cc1827-30

Which Amendment was: In page 2, line 11, to leave out from the word "metals" to the end of line 13.—[Mr. Scurr.]

Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."

Rear-Admiral BEAMISH

I beg to move, in page 2, line 31, to leave out the words "(not being the chimney of a private dwelling-house)."

The words in this Clause are For the purposes of Section Ninety-one of the Act a chimney (not being the chimney of a private dwelling-house) sending forth smoke in such quantity as to he a nuisance. I think that smoke from any and every domestic chimney is in the nature of a nuisance. Fifty per cent. of the smoke over London comes from domestic chimneys. Since the rear 1'375 we have had no legislation concerning domestic coal smoke, or any other coal smoke, and one has only to go to the top of any high building in the city to realise the immense amount of smoke that comes from our domestic chimneys. As a minor poet has said: Little wisps of coal smoke, Seen on every hand; Make the mighty smoke pall A scandal in the land. 11.0 p.m.

The question of domestic coal smoke is allied to the question of sewers. Within our lifetime an immense number of smaller private houses, and big ones, too, had no drains whatever, and it is high time we commenced to make the same sort of efforts as regards domestic coal smoke as we have in the matter of drains. There is a considerable and quite understandable opposition to the precautions connected with this domestic smoke, but, at the same time I consider that we have no more right to pollute the atmosphere of this or any other city than we have to pollute the ground. Good drainage and a clean atmosphere are equally necessary for public health. At the present time there is an enormous wasteage, not only in health, but in many other things. Our washing bills alone might be enormously reduced if we could reduce the domestic coal smoke of the country. These very Houses of Parliament are slowly tumbling about our ears, solely in consequence of the coal smoke in the atmosphere, or the effects of partial combustion of coal. This particular paragraph of the Clause refers to London, a city that unquestionably has the finest drainage in the world and the foulest atmosphere. No doubt I shall be told, and up to a certain point it will be correct, that there is a great deal of sentiment to be considered. At the same time I feel that something in the nature of the Amendment would give a tremendous spur to inventors and other people to bend their energies to the reduction of what is neither more nor less than a scandal.


I beg to second the Amendment.

I do so on the ground that we must make a start with domestic premises in this country. It is very unfair that private builders should be allowed to put up houses which emit smoke so as to damage the premises of the municipalities. I know that the Minister will tell us that there are in this country 8,000,000 houses which are already acting in an objectionable manner by emitting smoke. But we must make a start somewhere. There can be no harm whatever in asking builders who erect houses to take some precaution to check the exit of the smoke which is doing damage to property and vegetation and human life. There is an idea that all the smoke nuisance is caused by factories. That is not so. I have been in Manchester on a Sunday morning when domestic fires only were alight. The damage created by such an enormous Volume of smoke as was then to be seen is almost incalculable.


The minor poet to whom my hon. and gallant Friend referred, spoke of domestic smoke as a scandal wherever it was found in the land, but my hon. and gallant Friend apparently proposes to confine his operations to London. I observe that he has allowed to pass Clause 1, Sub-section (1), paragraph (a), which deals with the whole of the rest of the country, and that his Amendment would apply only to London. The hon. and gallant Member who seconded the Amendment has delivered a speech which he had prepared for another Amendment, to Clause 5. He was evidently under the impression that he was seconding an Amendment which referred only to new houses. That is not so at all. The Amendment refers to all houses, and it is, therefore, quite impracticable. It is quite impossible, on account of the cost, to demand that everybody should take out existing heating arrangements and substitute gas and electricity; but there is the further difficulty that there would not be enough gas and electricity to go round.

Amendment negatived.