HL Deb 03 April 1818 vol 37 cc1183-4
Earl Grosvenor

said, he had been informed by some of his tenants that a coalition had taken place between some of the Water Companies in the metropolis, by which four had been reduced to three, who had divided great part of the town between them, and the consequence was that the water was, in several instances, very bad. Some of his tenants who had been served by the Chelsea company were now compelled to take the Grand Junction water, which was of a bad quality, discoloured, and very disagreeable to the taste. He had thought it right to call the attention of the House to this subject, which was of very considerable importance. He was glad that notice had been taken of it in the other House, and he trusted some measure would be adopted to prevent the evil consequences of this monopoly.

The Earl of Lauderdale

observed, that the object of parliament, in passing different bills for supplying the metropolis with water, with a view to a competition, had been by these companies completely defeated, and a monopoly substituted. The consequences of this conduct were not merely increased price to the consumer and bad water, but still more, they might be productive of great loss of property. When the pipes of two companies ran parallel in the same streets, in case of fires, for instance, in two different quarters of the town at the same time, each might be extinguished by the water supplied by the different companies; but now, when only one company supplied one quarter of the town, suppose a fire to happen in Soho, and then immediately afterwards another in the neighbourhood of Carlton-house, the first would have exhausted all the supply of water, and a great number of houses might be destroyed in the other situation before a supply of water could be obtained. He trusted this subject, which had been taken up in the other House, would be effectually persevered in until the evil was remedied.

The Lord Chancellor

said, that the subject was one of great importance, and if the objects of the legislature in passing the different bills for the supply of water in the metropolis, which must be supposed to be that of creating a competition, had been defeated by the different companies joining together to establish a monopoly, he trusted their lordships would not separate without its being distinctly understood, that it was perfectly within the competence of parliament to set that matter right.

The Earl of Shaftesbury

expressed his satisfaction at what had been said, and declared his intention, when the bill came before the House, of contributing all in his power to remedy the evil.