§ The EARL of SHAFTESBURY
rose, in pursuance of notice, to move the following Resolution: "That the Sanitary State of the Metropolis requires the immediate Interposition of Her Majesty's Government." The noble Earl said, that he would venture to bring before their Lordships the sanitary condition of this vast metropolis, and the causes of disease and death that affected hundreds and thousands of persons at no great distance from those walls. He desired to exhibit the ravages of disease, of premature death, the evil effects on those who survive—widowhood, orphanage—together with the social and financial results to the community at large. The considerations suggested by a review of the sanitary condition of this metropolis were very important at all times, but in the present day possessed greater value than ever, because he believed that in a very short time our Australian Colonies would invite and would obtain from this country a large portion of the flower and strength of our rural population; the remaining portion would continue to flow into the towns—for so long as towns remained population would flow into them from the country—and in the towns they would undergo the same deteriorating process in themselves, or in their children, or both, of premature death or decay, which they were now undergoing. No town is sustained from its own resources; cut off from the rural supply, and the population will soon be extinct. Depend upon it that, if emigration commence generally from our counties, and the towns at the same time should continue to exhibit the same mortality, or a proportionate increase to what it did at present, that eventually the great evil of this country would be not a redundancy but a deficiency of population—a scarcity of hardy population for the country at large, for the national defences, and for all civil, industrial, and social purposes. In order to show how the 1284 population of this vast metropolis depended altogether on provincial support, he would put before their Lordships the returns of the Census of 1841. The returns of the Census of 1851 were not yet prepared; but of this he was informed, that it was likely they would exhibit still more strikingly results of a similar character. It would be observed that no town could sustain its own population from its own resources. The population of the metropolis and of every great town in the kingdom was sustained by emigration from the country: and if that should from any cause he diverted, the population of the towns would become nearly extinct. Now, to show to what an extent these densely-populated localities were dependent for their supply of inhabitants on the provincial fertility, and how a small diversion of the influx would affect the maintenance of the numbers, take the following table:—
The noble Earl then proceeded to show from the same table that the same evil existed in Manchester and Liverpool. For instance, the table from which he had already quoted supplied the following result:—
Table showing the numbers Born in the Metropolitan Parishes, and in the Cities of London and Westminster, and other towns, together with the numbers immigrating thereto, with the proportion per cent of those immigrating to those born in the several parishes:— Name of Parish or Union. Born in the County, 1841. Born elsewhere 1841. Proportion per cent of those born elsewhere to those born in the county. An. Mortality per cent. St. Luke's 33,901 15,938 31.7 2.95 St. Giles's 30,997 23,295 42.9 — Marylebone 75,824 62,340 54.9 2.5 St. Pancras 78,160 51,603 39.9 — Kensington 15,064 11,770 43.9 2.48 Holborn 23,011 15,729 40.6 2.87 City of London 72,676 52,132 40.9 2.1 City of Westminster 114,035 108,018 48.6 2.8 Lambeth 52,771 61,917 54 2.48 Newington 27,926 26,680 48.8 2.46 Rotherhithe 8,461 5,456 40 2.9
Now, let their Lordships bear this in mind, that the mortality in a healthy district 1285 was to be estimated at 1.4 per thousand of the population. That was the case with regard to healthy districts; but in many towns the mortality was greater than 2 per cent, and in some instances it attained to even near 3 per cent of the population. The bearing of this fact upon his present argument was this, that if they demonstrated the extent to which mortality prevailed in the vast populations of the towns, and if simultaneously a large amount emigration of was going on, and would probably be increased, then he could well believe—and he had heard it a day or two ago asserted on equal authority—the statement of Dr. Price—that London, if not refreshed from the country, would be a desert in fifty years. To use an illustration of the same gentleman: "Suppose you were to surround the metropolis by a wall of brass, so that no individual from the country could enter within them, the whole population of this metropolis and their issue would be extinct in the period of fifty years." Now, he (the Earl of Shaftesbury) would say that the mortality of these town districts, and the manner in which their population was sustained by immigration from the country parts, deserved most attentive consideration from the Legislature; and he would say further, that they were bound to proceed to institute such measures as would render more healthy and safe those vast districts; for if they did not, they would soon feel the very serious effect of a scarcity of people for all civil, social, and industrial purposes. The evils of which he complained had not yet reached their maximum. The results of late inquiries had proved that those evils were far from being stationary or retrogressive, but were, in fact, rapidly advancing. It appeared, from careful inquiry, that during a series of years, deaths by preventible diseases had been increasing, and in a far greater ratio than was due to the increase of the population. For example, he would lay before their Lordships the results of the deaths, arising from four causes, which were at all times besetting the population of the metropolis. The four great causes were typhus, scarlet fever, diarrhœa, and scrofula. Now, he would quote to their Lordships an extract from the Registrar General's report from 1840 to 1851, both years inclusive. The deaths by typhus and typhoid fevers in the metropolis during the first six years of that period were 8,962; and during the last six years 16,138, or nearly double, and that, too, not owing to 1286 any increase of the population. This statement did not include the cholera cases in 1849 and 1850, which made the case the more remarkable, because, according to all medical experience, the deaths from these causes after an epidemic ought to be fewer in number. Take, again, scarlet fever. During the first six years the deaths from scarlet fever were 9,822, and during the last six years 11,709, being an increase of about one-fifth. Again, by diarrhœa, the deaths during the first six years were 4,001, and during the last six years 13,650, that is, more than threefold. Now, diarrhœa was the strongest and the most certain and immediate sign of the presence of a poison in the blood, and most clearly exhibited the sinking state of the population. By scrofula the deaths were in the first six years 3,098, and in the last six 7,114, or more than double; and this was the more remarkable, as this was a disease which generally affected the constitution permanently. The most important point, however, for their Lordships' consideration was that connected with the Fever Hospital. The report of the Registrar General for last year exhibited a mournful example of the mode in which the destruction of human life might continuously go on in particular and very circumscribed limits. There were received into the Fever Hospital, from all parts of London in the past year, 877 cases of fever. Of this number, their Lordships would scarcely credit the fact, that from one single side—the eastern side—of one lane (Gray's-inn-lane), there were received 211 patients. In several instances from a single house in that locality 12, and in one case 20 patients, were sent into that hospital. Thus one side of a single street, with the courts branching out, had contributed nearly one-fourth of the cases to this hospital; but, adding 50 sent from Saffron-hill and neighbourhood, it had supplied nearly one-third. There was also another remarkable fact contained in the Registrar General's report, to which he wished to call the particular attention of their Lordships. The county of Lancaster, like this great metropolis, was fed by immigration from distant parts. Now, in commenting on the mortality of that district, the Registrar General made this emphatic remark, in every way well worthy of attention:—
Name of Parish or Union. Born in the County, 1841. Born elsewhere 1841. Proportion per cent of those born elsewhere to those born in the county. An. Moratality Per cent. Manchester. 157,831 86,052 35 2.4 Liverpool 157,748 128,739 44.9 2.6The mortality of Cheshire and Lancashire has been higher than the high average of those counties. The population of the districts of Lancashire in 1851 was 2,063,913; the funerals were 54,938. The excess of sickness and death over births in 1287 Lancashire is constant; in infancy, in adult age, and in both sexes. Yet the land in a great part of the country is high and salubrious, and the occupation of the people has nothing in it essentially injurious. What, then, is wanting? Apparently only this one thing: That the leading men of Lancashire, animated by good will, should apply that skill and vigour which have been so successful in the use of machinery and the production of clothing for mankind, to the amelioration of the social condition of the two millions of Englishmen around them.What had occurred in the county of Lancaster might occur in this metropolis. It was a warning which ought not to be neglected, for we had every reason to believe that the mortality of London might lead to the same results, the excess of deaths over births, in infancy, in adults, and in both sexes. But these evils prevail and increase, not only in London but in small provincial towns, wherever there is a total deficiency of sanitary arrangements, and where the people live in great masses. All this showed how much we depend for our supply of human beings on the purely rural population. Hear the inspector (Mr. Lee), who says that "the general conclusion forced on him by examination of 40 towns is, that the great mass lose nearly half the natural period of their lives." A rapid deterioration had taken place, owing to the presence of a continually increasing amount of decomposing organic matter, owing to the cesspool system, and the saturation of the soil. This depression was not confined to towns in the worst sanitary condition. Take Baildon, in the county of York, a village with 3,000 inhabitants: In 1841 the deaths were 16.58 to 1,000; in 1848 they were 25.4 to 1,000; in 1849 they were 26 to 1,000; in 1850 they were 24.93 to 1,000; and in the year ending March, 1851, they were 20.21 to 1,000, or 25 per cent higher than in 1841. And this, notwithstanding all the exertions of inspectors, &c, in the matter of cleansing the houses, &c, during the epidemic. In Selby the rapid increase in mortality is striking:—The deaths registered in 1845 were 100; in 1846 were 123; in 1847 were 156; in 1848 were 193; in 1849 were 223; a progressive increase of 100 per cent in five years only, with a population nearly stationary. There was another town, Yeovil, which ought to be one of the healthiest towns in England: the mortality, estimated from the returns for seven years, from 1844 to 1850, was 24.6 per 1,000; but, taking the latter four years of the return, the mortality has reached the extraordinary 1288 high average of 29 in 1,000; and so on fop many other towns. Now was there not a cause for this state of things? Undoubtedly there was; and it was to be found in the fact that the people were pressing by thousands and by tens of thousands upon arrangements which were calculated only for tens and for hundreds. As soon as they came into the towns they crowded together in the overpopulated lanes and alleys, living in miserable domiciles, where they found no pure air to breathe, no clean water to drink, and no drainage to carry off the filth. They were surrounded by every cause of disease and death; and when they came to die, there were no means for interring them with propriety and safety. Let their Lordships listen to a few proofs. Look to the present condition of intramural interment. Now, as respects intramural interment, he assumed that it was a practice universally execrated, abundant in every mischief, peril, and evil consequences; yet it still prevailed unmitigated among 2,000,000 of this metropolis. The most recent examination of the graveyards of the metropolis showed that they contain putrefying matter enough to communicate putrefaction to all substances exposed to it, and which emit mephitic gases which produce the worst effects upon the human system. As an illustration of the effect produced by the interment of large masses of bodies, he would refer to a statement made by Sir James M'Gregor, that on one occasion in Spain, soon after 20,000 men had been put into the ground, within the space of two or three months the troops that remained exposed to the emanations of the soil, and that drank the water from the wells sunk in the neighbourhood of the spot, were attacked by malignant fevers and by dysentery, and that the fevers constantly put on the dysenteric character. Now, in this metropolis, en spaces of ground not exceeding in all 218 acres, closely surrounded by the abodes of the living, crowded together in dense masses, upwards of 50,000 dead bodies are buried every year. In Bethnal-green burial ground alone, consisting of an area of about two acres and a half, there have been interred since its opening, in the year 1746, upwards of 56,000 dead bodies. In Bunhill-fields burial ground, City-road, consisting of an area of less than four acres, there have been interred from April, 1713, to August, 1832, according to the registry, which, however, in the earlier years was imper- 1289 fectly kept, 107,416 dead bodies. But in St. Pancras churchyard, one-half of which has been used as a burial place for at least six centuries, there have been deposited the remains of more than twenty generations; and in this space of ground, which does not even now exceed four acres, and a large portion of which was considered as full to excess twenty years ago, there have been interred since that period upwards of 26,000 bodies. Estimating the duration of a generation at thirty years, there must have been interred in the small space of 218 acres, in the last generation a million and a half of dead bodies; and within the next thirty years, unless some remedy should be applied, and the system of extramural interments should be introduced, more than another million and a half of the dead, that is, a large proportion of those who now people the metropolis, will have to be crowded into those same churchyards. He next came to the subject of drainage; and without entering at large into that subject, he would just refer to one or two facts. Any person going into the New-cut, Lambeth, or to Whitechapel, or Shoreditch, must be struck with the foul smells arising from the defective surface drainage. A survey had been made of the subterranean works of London, and the Report revealed the portentous danger to which the great mass of the working classes were subjected. The Report stated:—Now, besides the surface abominations, which any one can speak to who has perambulated London, a survey has been obtained of the subterranean works, from which the appalling fact has been proved, that, owing to the bad construction of the sewers, there is actually accumulated beneath and about the dwelling-houses of the metropolis a mass of cesspool matter which may be represented by a lake six inches deep and 700 acres in extent, and an 'exhaling' surface of that extent, of which, mark this, the bulk remains constant, are sent weekly to the Thames upwards of 8,000 loads of poisonous filth. After this statement, can any one wonder that noxious odours pervade the best squares and streets, and that no one can stand without the annoyance and the risk of illness at a moderate distance from any gulley-shoot?This leads to my next consideration—the supply of water, it being impossible that drains should work well except with well-adjusted supplies. There was no reason to complain of an insufficient supply of water, because, nearly three-fifths of the water pumped into London are pumped to waste, a quantity equal to the average rain-fall of the district; a great quantity 1290 of this sinks into the ground, rotting the foundation of the houses, and adding, wherever drainage is defective, to dampness and surface abominations. The great complaint was the defective mode of distribution; for while three-fifths were wasted, thousands and tens of thousands had no water without fetching it from a considerable distance. It was not necessary at the present moment to debate the comparative qualities of hard and soft water, and the sources of supply; people would be glad, some to have any, and some any fit to be drunk. But if their Lordships would only read the different reports on the supply of water to the metropolis, they would then see how disease is created by a deficient supply of it, and by its being detained, when acquired, in butts, tubs, and pans, all uncovered, in heated and crowded rooms, where it soon becomes corrupt, and imbibes all the bad gases thrown out from the body by the lungs. The city of Hamburgh presented a remarkable contrast to this state of things, in consequence of the judicious measures taken to secure a constant and plentiful supply of water. That town, as their Lordships were well aware, had been burnt down a few years ago. The burgomasters and other inhabitants of the town, in rebuilding it, showed great zeal in securing its future health. They sent over to this country for an engineer of great knowledge and science, and well acquainted with sanitary subjects, and the principles of the Board of Health, and requested him to reconstruct the town in such a way that every house might be plentifully supplied with water. Mr. Lindley accordingly went over. Every room in every house, from the bottom to the top, was furnished with a constant supply of water. Every man in Hamburgh had that constant supply of water in his room, and paid for it something under a penny a week. Look to the advantages of his system: first, there was great cheapness; and, secondly, the water was close at hand. The medical gentlemen of the hospital had drawn up a written statement, in which they said that since a constant and plentiful supply of water had been given to the people of Hamburgh, cutaneous disorders had become almost extinct, and that not one case of cutaneous disease had since that time been admitted to the hospital. As to the water used in many parts of the metropolis, it was of bad quality, and frequently intermittent. On this subject Dr. Bowrie says—'"Water, thick, muddy, discoloured, putrid 1291 unfit for drinking;' 'fetigue in carrying it upstairs very oppressive, and much time lost;' 'have been without water for eight years; often more in want of it than victuals.' 'Water tastes like something putrified, often containing live worms an inch long, supposed to come from the adjoining burying-grounds.' Dr. Gavin says, 'Water supplied from stand-pipes occasionally. It is kept in butts, tubs, pans, all uncovered; frequently stowed away under the beds; exposed to all the foul gases evolved in crowded rooms, absorbs them, and becomes putrid and poisonous; butts almost always near privies, imbibing every noxious exhalation.'Such a state of things was disgraceful, not only to this city, but to the country, and he hoped their Lordships would arrive at a determination not to allow the Session to close without entering heart and soul into a determination to put an end to it for ever. He would remind their Lordships that the city of Paris stood much better in this respect than did London. The late king, Louis Philippe, paid great attention to this matter, and Very much had been done towards supplying the people of Paris with water. He had not sent water to the tops of the houses, but tanks were very liberally supplied with water filtered from the Seine and in almost every street a good allowance was to be obtained, so that he believed he might safely assert that the people of Paris were in respect of this necessary of life in a condition fifty per cent better than the large majority of the people of London. Having said so much relative to the supply of water, he would now direct their Lord Ships' attention to the state of the courts and alleys of London, and the condition of the dwelling-houses contained in them. In 1848, in anticipation of cholera, a report was made by Mr. Grainger upon this subject; and, before referring to that report, he would just observe, that if any difference existed in the state of matters, he believed it was that they were worse now than then, the warnings of cholera having been disregarded. Mr. Grainger, in this report, says—The Uniform evidence of every medical man engaged during that period (1840–1849), Whether as an inspector, visitor, or Poor Law surgeon, showed that in all parts of the metropolis the dwellings of the industrious classes were in a most deplorable condition; that they were filthy, unwholesome, and neglected; that they were deficient in all the arrangements demanded by decency, comfort, and health; that there were in many localities houses utterly unfit for human habitation; that the water supply was miserable, both as to quantity and quality, the privies foul and overflowing, and the scavenging grossly neglected; and that, as the direct consequence of all 1292 this, there was extreme misery, sickness, and mortality.Here was a picture of the interior of the houses bordering on St. Giles's and Bloomsbury, as given by Mr. Lloyd, a surgeon:—Some of the rooms and staircases were black, and appeared as if they had not been properly cleansed for years. The ventilation is also most defective, and the rooms enormously crowded, so that the atmosphere within them is most offensive. In one room of a house in George-street, where two children had lately had typhus, 10 people slept at night; the allowance for each being, according to measurement, 120 cubic feet; a space utterly incompatible With health. I saw other rooms much more crowded, containing 18 or 20 people.This was a favourable representation of the dwellings in many parts of London. He would now pass on to a famous place, called Jacob's Island, in Bermondsey, where the houses were built over a muddy and all but stagnant ditch, of a most disgusting description, from which the people were compelled to draw the water used both for cleansing and cooking. It was stated that—Many privies overhang the stream, and I saw a large quantity of excrement lying on the mud; the water was filthy and green, and poisonous gas was bubbling up on the surface. I found on this and a subsequent visit, that many of the poor are still compelled to use and even drink this horribly polluted water; others obtain a supply from the public-houses, or from the charitable supply provided through the instrumentality of Mr. Walshe, who acted as medical inspector during the cholera. Some of the poor people stated, that on complaining to their landlord of the want of a proper supply, they were told that the water of the ditch was good enough for them.He would how introduce their Lordships to the state of the Potteries at Kensington, which abounded in piggeries, and where, in a pond called "the Ocean," every kind of abomination was collected, and sent forth the most offensive smell. At another place in Kensington, called Jennings-gardens, the state of the privies was declared to be so horrible as to defy description. With regard to this place, it was stated—Some time since a public privy was provided, but it is in a most disgraceful state. The whole area, at the time of my Visit, was deeply covered with excrement, and emitted so foul a stench, as nearly to induce vomiting. To this place, and in this horrible state, men, women, and children are compelled to resort in common. 'The deaths from cholera,' says Mr. Woodcock, 'in these buildings were about 30 during the short time it was there.'But, in reference to this place, the advan- 1293 tage of a slight attempt at something like remedial measures was seen, for it was stated, as a consequence of the adoption of sanitary measures, that disease instantly abated. There was one other place well worthy of their Lordships' consideration, because of the great number of victims that it furnished to the demon of typhus fever—he meant Tindal's-buildings and Pheasant-court, Gray's-inn-lane. He had last year, in consequence of the very strong statements which he had seen relating to this locality, deemed it his duty to go and see the place himself; and he could safely say that what he saw more than bore out the description which he would now submit to their Lordships; and it was the more remarkable, because it was not at first sight a neighbourhood that struck one as peculiarly filthy. It was a narrow court, and the pavement was tolerable; and it was only, in fact, by going into the houses that the extent of the evil could be understood; and their Lordships would well believe what he stated when he mentioned that in one of these houses not fewer than twenty cases of cholera had taken place. Here was a description given by a medical gentleman of by no means one of the worst houses;—The interior generally is dirty, and requires efficient limewashing; the privy, as is usual in these buildings, is placed in the cellar; on descending the stairs a foul privy stench was perceived, and which must pervade the house; the floor of the cellar, being beneath the level of the main sewer, cannot be drained, and, to rectify this, the occupier has dug a hole close to the water-butt to receive the filthy liquid, and which he can only get rid of by baling. In one corner of the cellar lay a heap of dust, cabbage-leaves, and other refuse, at least half a cartload in amount, and which, owing to the neglect of the dustmen, had been accumulating since Christmas. From the privy a short drain leads directly into the main sewer, and, as there is no trap or other contrivance, the foul sewer air must be continually pouring into the house. Close to this horrible privy stands the water-butt for the supply of twenty persons, uncovered and open at the top, and thus allowing the water to absorb the poisonous gases incessantly escaping at the privy; the butt itself is so decayed that the water leaks away, to remedy which defect, as the landlord will do nothing, the poor woman of the house has provided a small old tub.He could say, in addition to this statement, that there were many parts of this locality so utterly filthy, and the effect of the gases was so overpowering, that into them he could not go, and therefore could not submit them to personal inspection; it was impossible to endure the intensity of the horrible stench that prevailed. Now, these 1294 were not by any means isolated cases. They were fair representative instances, and he would undertake to show that what he had stated was true, not only in respect of one, two, or three hundred, not of one or two thousand of houses, but of several thousands, and of several hundreds of thousands of the population. But there were nuisances of another description to which he felt it his duty to call their Lordships' attention. The air of London was in a state of constant and increasing pollution, not only from the enormous mass of cesspool matter which accumulated within and around houses in consequence of defective house drainage, but also from the noxious processes and manufactures which were carried on, without control or regulations in the very centre of the town, and in the midst of the densest portions of its population—from the bone-boiling and fat-boiling operations of Lambeth and Kensington; from the manure manufactories of Whitechapel, Southwark, Lambeth, and other districts; from the manure-heaps of scavengers' and nightmen's yards, where the refuse of 2,000,000 of people was collected and hoarded until, by various processes, all of which involved decomposition and the evolution of poisonous gases, this seething mass of filth was brought to what was considered a fit state for sale and removal; and from the like abominations of laystalls, knackers' yards, cowhouses, and piggeries, and nuisances of other descriptions in every variety. One of the abominations to which he had just referred consisted of a large pond, three-quarters of an acre or an acre in extent, into which was thrown the contents of the cesspools of a great part of the neighbourhood, where it was kept for a length of time, and baked into cakes and exported. The complaints of the people round about were numerous, and one man was so powerfully affected with the gas that he was killed outright. Scarcely a day passed without appeals from private individuals or local officers, from a clergyman or a medical man, for interference to abate the stench in houses, or to check the progress of some frightful local epidemic which was raging in dwellings closest to those hotbeds of disease. These processes might be necessary; but what he protested against was, their being permitted to be carried on in the very heart of the population. Nothing could possibly be more offensive than some of these processes, and the houses near them were never free from fever. Sometimes there had been in these 1295 localities a sudden outbreak of disorder, caused perhaps by a change of the wind, by which fifty or sixty children in the workhouse were struck down in one night, in consequence of the effluvia being driven upon them from these abominable premises. And it should be borne in mind that these disgusting processes were not, many of them, carried on by Englishmen, but by foreigners, who came here, because in no other country in Europe would they be allowed to carry on such processes. At Paris, for example, such disgusting processes would not be tolerated for a day; but they were allowed to come to this country and pursue their operations without question, though proved to be detrimental to the health of thousands and tens of thousands of the population living within the sphere of their influence. Nor in this enumeration was it right to omit the smoke nuisance—that everlasting source of the thickness, darkness, and filth of the London atmosphere; that nuisance which the experience of towns more properly manufacturing, and especially the experience of many of the largest fuel-consuming factories, showed might, without inconvenience, without loss, and even with pecuniary gain, be to a very great extent, prevented. According to the statement of a friend of his own, a large manufacturer, he had saved in fuel no less than 300l. in the course of one year by the consumption of his smoke. Now as to the consequences of this state of things, it was impossible to go frequently among the poor of this metropolis and visit their dwellings without seeing the pernicious effects, both physical, moral, and social, that were produced among those who were subjected to the nuisances he had endeavoured to describe. As to the moral consequences, they were shown in the discontent, exasperation, habits of drunkenness, and indifference to religion but too commonly exhibited. They could not fail to see that thousands, male and female, young and old, were driven to the gin-shop; and let not their Lordships visit them with too severe a condemnation; for in the depressing influence of the atmosphere in which they lived, and the misery of the dwellings in which they lived, they were led to the belief that their health and strength could only be renovated and maintained by the stimulating effects of gin and beer. Anxious as the friends of these people were to promote their improvement, all their efforts 1296 were rendered nugatory by the circumstances which surrounded them. Education was made all but impossible—the missionary was baffled, the clergyman and the schoolmaster rendered well nigh useless. The city missionaries, the scripture readers, the district visitors, one and all, said it was next to impossible to produce any effects on such persons, and that if such a state of things was allowed to continue, we should never cease to have an ignorant and dissolute population. Now, with respect to the physical effect produced by such a system. An inquiry was made a short time ago by an eminent surgeon, and he afterwards accompanied that gentleman to the place to test the accuracy of his statement by personal inquiry. The examination was made in some of the courts and alleys of the city of London to ascertain the physical and moral condition of the people inhabiting those localities. The attention of the gentleman was addressed principally to the children, because when they were affected it was clear that some evil influence was at work. He said—What was the appearance of the children brought up in these courts and alleys?—In general diminutive, pale, squalid, sickly, irritable; I rarely saw a child in a really healthy state; the great majority had suffered from scarlet fever, measles, or some other disease in a virulent form, leaving injurious effects upon the constitution, which ultimately end in death, or produce a debility of constitution which lasts throughout the whole of life. What was the physical condition of the youth of these courts?—Stunted in their growth, of cadaverous aspect, generally with an appearance of having themselves suffered from disease. I was at first often suprised at the large stature and broad frame of the parents, compared to the squalid appearance of their children and the diminutive size of the youth of both sexes; but I found, upon inquiry, that a large proportion of the parents had come from the country, where they were born. Thus, in Sweet-apple-court, situated in the heart of the city, I found that of the 86 fathers and mothers of families there, 35 were born in London, and 51 in the country. There was generally a marked difference between the country and town people; the latter were smaller and less fully developed than the country people. I was sometimes able to predicate from the appearance of the inmates, where they had been born. What were the people's own accounts as to the prevalent state of health?—I was rather surprised to find that, unless they were at the time actually suffering from sickness, they did not themselves complain of the un-healthiness of their abodes; the feeling seemed to be, that, being obliged to live there, they would make the best of it. Others, indeed, appeared to have been accustomed to these foul smells, and did not associate them with any ill health. It was principally people who came from the country who complained of these bad smells. I found that 1297 some of the mothers who did not think the places unhealthy had lost one-half or nearly all their children. It Sweet-apple-court I met with the following cases, viz.:—Of 12 children only I was alive; of 7, only 2 alive; of 16, only I alive; of 10, only 3 alive; of 24, only 2 alive; of 10 children, 4 alive; of 7 children, 3 alive; of 11 children, 3 alive; of 8 children, 4 alive; of 9 children, 5 alive; of 12 children, 4 alive; of 7 children, 4 alive; of 15 children, 9 alive; of 4 children, I alive. Thus, out of 152 children, only 46 were living, 106 having died during the lifetime of their parents; and it must be observed that of the 46 now living many are quite young, and likely to fall victims to disease before they arrive at the age of maturity. Out of the 246 children born to the married inhabitants of this court, 141 were dead at the time of my visit, and only 105 were alive. Considering this excessive amount of mortality, and that the constitutions of the children who survive are weak and prone to disease, it is evident that the race of citizens would soon become extinct were it not for the continued regeneration which is going on by the influx of healthy people from the country.Ratepayers were subjected to heavy expense in order to provide for the claims of widowhood, orphanage, and loss of capacity to labour, followed by necessary parochial relief. He would give their Lordships a few instances of the great increase which had recently taken place in the item of medical relief in densely-populated districts. The expenditure for medical relief in Bermondsey, in 1845, was 190l.; in 1851 it was 300l. In Holborn, in 1845, the medical relief amounted to 300l.; in 1851, to 634l. In Manchester it was 969l. in 1845, and 1,733l. in 1851. In Liverpool it was 919l. in 1845, and 2,306l. in 1851. These figures showed the progressive increase of expenditure arising from the want of sanitary measures, for 1851 was a comparatively healthy year, following, as it did, the epidemic. These evils were not the inevitable result of large populations. They arose from preventible causes, and good effects had followed wherever real efforts had been made to obviate them. Take the case of single houses, or blocks of houses, or alleys, or model establishments—diminution of disease had invariably followed improvement, Mr. Grainger, in his report, said—Fortunately we hare not to rest either on bare speculations or on mere assertions. It has been proved in the report of the General Board of Health on the epidemic cholera, that in the metropolis every efficient sanitary improvement has been followed, as directly as cause and effect, by a corresponding decrease of sickness and mortality. There is no exception to this rule; it applies to the courts, alleys, and houses occupied by the industrious classes; it applies to public institutions of every kind, to prisons, to hospitals, to lunatic asylums, and, above all, to the establishments specially 1298 erected to test the value of sanitary principles—to the model lodging-houses of this metropolis. In my report on epidemic cholera it was shown that out of 795 persons, inmates of these model buildings, only one had been attacked by the disease, whereas, among the population of London generally, one person in 75 was attacked.Mr. Grainger found the same result in the Albert-street lodging-house, which had been opened about two years. The house contained about 280 persons of all ages; the deaths since the opening had been 5, one of these from accident; from typhus none. It must not be supposed that these model lodging-houses were placed in the most healthy parts of London: the reverse was the case. In the St. Pancras model lodging-house the number of inmates in 1851 was 571; the deaths 7, or a mortality of 1.2 per cent. In the surrounding district the general mortality was 2.3 per cent, or nearly double. Take the most delicate test of mortality—that of infants, and the result would be the same. The deaths among 252 children in the house were 4, or 1.1 per cent; while in the nighbourhood of the house the average mortality for five years among children under 15 years of age was 3.4 per cent.—I have now (continued the noble Earl) presented to your Lordships a just picture of the state of the Metropolis—a state affecting the condition of hundreds of thousands; and it is from a deep conviction of its influence on the social and moral condition of our people, and on the peace, honour, and enjoyment of all classes, that I am induced to repeat, again and again, these statements and remonstrances. Now, I know these statements must be tedious; but if tedious to those who listen, how much more to those who examine and report the disgusting details! It is really worthy of remark how habituated, and almost callous we become, by the weekly returns of the Registrar General, to vast amounts of mortality, and never inquire whether it arises or not from preventible causes. We assume that, because it is constant, it is also necessary and inevitible. Now, this delusion prevailed formerly in respect of many places, especially of prisons, in which disease was held to be as certain and concomitant as high walls or leg-locks; but where is the old gaol fever now? Cases of typhus may arise, but we never hear of a complete carnage in any one of our penitentiaries. If out of some 300 prisoners, 40 or 50 were attacked with typhus, Parliament would be stirred, and the whole press in commotion. In Westminster House of Correction two 1299 years ago 30 cases of fever occurred, and six deaths; alarm was excited, the cause discovered; 500 cubic yards, equal to 400 tons, of cesspool matter were removed, and then all was well. But while the courts and alleys are decimated year by year, no one is moved: all is taken as a matter of course, partly because one-half of the world knows nothing on the subject, and partly because the other half assumes all to be irremediable; and yet these evils are as preventible in the lanes and alleys as they are in the better localities. It has been the desire and effort of a band of men throughout the country to prove these facts, and give effect to their proof. Our night of toil has been long, but we trust it is drawing to a close; and to hasten that happy consummation, and institute sound measures for the benefit and safety of a great mass of the working people, I now earnestly request the interposition of your Lordships. I move the House to resolve, "That the Sanitary State of the Metropolis requires the immediate Interposition of Her Majesty's Government."
The ARCHBISHOP of CANTERBURY
said, it would be impossible not to admire the philanthropy of the noble Earl who had given up so much time, and had practised so much self-denial, for the purpose of entering upon one of the most painful pursuits that could be undertaken. It was unnecessary for him to enter upon the painful details which the noble Earl had placed before the House; but he should be unfaithful as regarded that large community by which he was more immediately surrounded, and which in some degree he represented in that House, if he did not add his testimony to the correctness of what the noble Earl had stated in reference to the sanitary condition of Lambeth. The localities where during the recent visitation of the cholera, mortality and sickness might be expected to prevail to the greatest extent, were so well known that it was almost possible to lay them down distinctly on the map. Great efforts had been made to ameliorate these evils; but though much had been done, the difficulties to be overcome had been found so great that nothing short or legislative interference would effect any satisfactory and permanent improvement. The moral and religious consideration of the question was even more distressing than the physical aspect. The Government had made great exertions for the education of the people; but their physical condition opposed an impassable obstacle to the benefits of educa- 1300 tion; and if the evils now complained of were removed, it would contribute not only to the improvement of the health of the people, but also to the promotion of their morals. Much, beyond question, might be done in a very material point of view by attending to the health and cleanliness of the poor; but he doubted whether the religious and moral results produced would not be still more beneficial and salutary.
§ The EARL of DERBY
said, that many of the details brought forward by his noble Friend were no doubt details of the most painful interest, and were on a subject to which, in a very worthy manner, he had devoted much time and attention; but he was afraid that he had, after all, in entering upon these details, merely elucidated those well-known and universally recognised truths, which—he hoped the noble Earl would not consider he used any offensive term—were, in fact, truisms, namely, that in proportion as you promote ventilation, drainage, and the removal of nuisances, in such proportion will the health of the population and the average longevity be augmented. It did not require the facts which the noble Earl had laid before the House to satisfy their Lordships that a country life was more wholesome than the life of a population pent up in populous cities and great crowded towns. He confessed he was at a loss to imagine where that peculiar district was to be found, to which his noble Friend had adverted, where the average of deaths in the year amounted to 1.10 per cent, because if that were the state of the population in any particular district, that district must exhibit such marvellous salubrity that every man, woman, and child living within it must attain the age of 75 years. Two per cent of deaths would indicate that the average duration of life among the population was 50 years, and 1½ per cent would indicate that the average period of existence was 75 years—that is, provided the inhabitants are born, remain, and die in the district; for the calculation was good for nothing if the district were one in which the people did not permanently remain, or with respect to which any large amount of emigration was carried on, either from or into. He was not going to enter into any statistics upon the subject. He was quite ready to admit it to be a matter of notoriety that the population were more healthful and long-lived in the country than in towns; and the difference of salubrity applied not only to the metropolis, but also to large towns in 1301 the manufacturing districts; and that the amount of salubrity, and the contrary, were in proportion to the crowded state of the population, the great extent of the towns, and the want of a free circulation of air. The speech of his noble Friend appeared to him to have fallen short of that which the great attention he had paid to the subject, gave their Lordships the right to expect. The noble Earl had been satisfied with showing the existence of a great evil, and had not gone on to show what remedies might be applied, or in what degree the Government—he (the Earl of Derby) was not speaking of the present Government, because it had been in power only a very short period, but of preceding Governments, or preceding Parliaments—had failed to give their attention to this most important subject, or to introduce a measure for the purpose of abating these evils, which, perhaps, after all, no human legislation could altogether do away with. He rejoiced that the noble Earl had seen the propriety of altering the terms of his Motion; because it would certainly have been his duty, and he thought he had the concurrence of the House, to have offered his opposition to his noble Friend's proposition as it originally appeared on the notice paper, namely, an Address to the Crown, praying Her Majesty to take steps to permit the metropolis to be no longer excluded from the advantages of the General Board of Health. Now, such a notice as that would have implied that on the part of the Crown some obstacle had been thrown in the way of Parliament, and that the Legislature had been prevented adopting measures which it might consider expedient. Now, he asked how far his noble Friend had proceeded in his recommendations for remedying the evils of which he justly complains? He was quite aware that his present Motion was not to extend the provisions of the Board of Health Act to the metropolis; but a few days ago that was his proposition, and that which he (the Earl of Derby) complained of was, that whereas on a former occasion he had a definite remedy, and pointed out a specific course to cure the evils, on the present occasion he was satisfied with laying before their Lordships the evil, without even suggesting the slightest legislative means for remedying or mitigating it. He confessed he was somewhat surprised at the course his noble Friend had taken, ha being an active Member of a Board specially charged with the administration 1302 concerning the health of the country, and which had recently signed a report, which had been placed in his (the Earl of Derby's) hands since he entered the House, dated the 30th March, and which Board were constantly considering and suggesting such means as to their judgment seemed expedient for the purpose of remedying the evils. With his noble Friend and the other Commissioners there was associated the noble Lord at the head of the Board of Works (Lord J. Manners); and yet he believed the Motion his noble Friend gave notice of on a former occasion, as well as the Motion he had made that night, was made without any consultation with the noble Lord. He said, then, he should have objected on a former occasion to the proposition of his noble Friend, partly on technical grounds to the form of the Motion, and partly because he thought after what had formerly taken place, it would not be possible to place the metropolis under the control of the Board of Health. That proposition had been raised by successive Administrations, and it had been brought under the consideration of successive Parliaments, and the object had been anxiously sought for by successive Ministers. He saw a noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Carlisle) who was very anxious to introduce a measure of this particular nature; but he found the objections were insuperable, and he was obliged nominally to postpone it, but really to abandon it. A noble Duke whom he saw on the cross benches (the Duke of Newcastle), in a discussion which took place on the subject, said something to this effect—that, looking at the variety of interests and the immense masses of people which had to be dealt with, he was no more inclined to place the metropolis under the supervision of the General Board of Health, than he was to place under it the cities of Paris or Vienna. Therefore, he (the Earl of Derby) was less surprised at his noble Friend abandoning the intention of bringing forward his first proposition; but he must say he had left a great void in his case when he laid down a principle which had been assented to by successive Parliaments in successive years—that a great evil requires to be effectually dealt with—and did not give their Lordships the benefit of his experience and advice as to the direction in which the remedy was to be sought. He admitted that the prominent causes of disease, and a great portion of suffering, in the metropolis, were those to which the 1303 noble Earl had adverted: intramural interments, deficient supply of water, deficient sewerage, and large accumulations of nuisances which are permitted in various parts of the metropolis. He thought those were the four principal causes of disease. He said nothing of the smoke nuisance, which the noble Earl had also adverted to, but he took the other four as being the principal causes of disease, and even of mortality. With regard to the first, intramural interments, that was one which he was bound to say did press for very early and anxious consideration and for an early remedy; because the evils were, year after year, increasing in intensity, and no language—not even the forcible language of his noble Friend—could exhibit the fearful amount of disease which, he was convinced, was continually generated by the loathsome and disgusting practice of interment in the crowded churchyards and burial grounds of the metropolis. But that was not a subject which Parliament had lost sight of, or on which it had been slow to seek a remedy. Two years ago a Bill was passed, after considerable objection and opposition, giving to the General Board of Health powers of a very unusual and extraordinary character. That Bill had been altogether inoperative; and why? From two causes—partly because the powers of the Board were limited, and partly because the Board did not consist of a permanent administration. In consequence of a certain duration being assigned to the existence of the Board, they found it impracticable to carry into operation the great powers entrusted to them. If he did not mistake, they had compulsory authority to buy up the rights of all existing cemeteries. That was certainly a large power to be vested in anybody; but at the same time it should be considered that the evil to be dealt with was an extraordinary one. It was also empowered to adopt measures, with as little delay as possible, to provide land in the neighbourhood of London for interments, and—this was a matter which particularly affected the poorer classes—to provide for the decent and careful disposal of bodies in the interval between death and burial. It was found also that the necessary funds could not be raised without an appeal to the Legislature. The powers, too, given to the Board were of so extreme a character, that they formed a very serious obstacle to the practical working of that measure. It was proposed in the first instance that the Board should be 1304 entrusted with the absolute control of the funerals of all the persons dying within the limits to which the Act applied. They were to make an arrangement for the general interment, and they were to levy on the population a rate for the purpose of defraying the great expenses which it would involve. A great objection was felt to levying the rate, and not unnaturally, because a large part of the population would escape from contributing to an object in which all were equally concerned. Accordingly a general rate was abandoned; but it was provided that fees should be levied on all burials conducted by the Board, and that the Board should be at liberty, on the security of these fees, to borrow money for the expenses of the Act. But then it was found that the fees would not be large enough to enable the Board to borrow money upon them, unless it were compulsory that the funerals should he conducted by the Board. This, of course, would be giving to a Government hoard a great monopoly. It would be setting aside and superseding every private tradesman. Upon every death there would be a fee paid to this great monopolist company, whether the person were buried or not by them; and it would be a tax upon the deaths of those who had the wish and the means that their funerals should he conducted in their own manner. Parliament would hesitate to intrust any board with powers so extensive and arbitrary, unless it were clear that no remedy short of those powers would be sufficient. Now, he thought that the cemetery companies in the neighbourhood of the metropolis would be found very willing to contract with the parishes, and that many of the parishes would be desirous to have the power of purchasing and obtaining for themselves land, at a moderate distance from the metropolis, which might be set apart for the interment of their dead. In such cases a power (to which he was favourable) might be usefully exercised to prohibit intramural interments in metropolitan graveyards, now overcrowded. He thought it would be in principle more satisfactory, and in practice not less beneficial, to give a power to parishes to make those voluntary arrangements, either with the present or some future cemetery companies, than to give the large compulsory and arbitrary powers proposed to be vested in the General Board of Health. There was before the other House of Parliament a Bill for establishing a new cemetery near a railway, at a considerable 1305 distance from London, entirely removed from human habitations, and comprehending an area of 2,000 acres, which it was proposed to set apart for metropolitan interments, and to make in it suitable provision not only for separate parishes, but also for separate denominations of Christians. That Bill was now under the consideration of a Committee of the House of Commons. What might be the result he was unable to state; but if a Bill of that kind were capable of being carried into practical operation, that would supersede the necessity of such compulsory powers as were proposed to be given, and said to be necessary for the General Board. With regard to the water supply and sewerage, I do not hesitate to say that it would be most desirable to place the water supply and the sewerage of the metropolis, if possible, in the hands of the same Government Board, and to vest in one authority the superintendence of the whole of the vast and complicated machinery for securing a permanent and constant, and not an intermittent supply of water; and that the same company and authority which had the power of introducing water should also have the power of applying that water to the management of the sewerage, and the carrying away of that refuse which spread pestilence and death in the town, but which might be made the source of increased fertility to the land. Now, if it were a tabula rasa that Parliament had to deal with—if the vast interests of existing companies had not to be consulted, which had been found a practical difficulty in the way of all legislation that had been attempted—he had no doubt it would be better and more efficacious that there should he one single authority charged with the administration of the water and the removal of all offensive matter, than to vest the separate powers of water supply and sewerage in separate bodies, thereby losing the unity of action that appertained to a single authority. But there was great difficulty in deciding what that central authority should be. The practice of Continental Governments might be quoted; but other Governments were much more free to act for the benefit of the population than a Government subject to popular influences and control, and which had to study not only the interests, but the views and feelings, of those for whom they legislated. He did not dispute the advantages of cleanliness, and he agreed with the most rev. Prelate that cleanliness and decency were the handmaids of morality and reli- 1306 gion. But it was not by Act of Parliament that you could compel people to be moral, decent, or clean; and in many cases legislation to enforce those objects would be opposed by the persons themselves for whose real and permanent interests they were legislating. [The Earl of SHAFTESBURY: No, no!] The noble Earl said "No;" but he had given their Lordships many instances of palpable neglect on the part of householders who were the very class whose pecuniary interests would he affected by their Lordships' legislation. [The Earl of SHAFTESBURY again intimated his dissent.] The noble Earl had told them of disgusting accumulations of filth, which led to contamination and death; and why were those accumulations permitted to remain, but through the neglect of the very persons more immediately concerned in their removal? The noble Earl had adverted to one particular pond, which was constantly filled with disgusting substances, into which pond the inhabitants were in the habit of throwing all their filth. Legislation against these persons would be directed against those who were most directly affected by the nuisance. He could not but think that with regard to this case and others similar, his noble Friend had undervalued the powers which the Legislature conferred for their removal and prevention. The General Police Act of 1839 gave very stringent powers for the removal of nuisances, and then what enormous powers—he might almost say what unconstitutional powers—were vested in the Metropolitan Commission of Sewers! There was hardly any limit to their powers. They could levy rates, remove nuisances, fill up ditches, cleanse the streets, establish water-closets and privies, and, in short, there was no limit to the powers vested in them. But in reference to sanitary measures to be adapted to an immense population, Parliament must consider in what manner the expense was to be borne, and in what manner control was to be exercised; and, however desirable it might be to provide for the cleanliness of the people by Act of Parliament, beyond a certain point the Government could not go on, and would not be permitted to interfere with the internal affairs of the people, and to vest such extensive powers in an irresponsible Government board. Health of Towns Act was an essentially voluntary measure. It was adopted at their own will and upon the application of the ratepayers, and the officers who were to carry it into effect were 1307 selected by them, and were responsible to them. Did his noble Friend propose to introduce the machinery of that Act into the metropolis, and to leave it to the option of parties and of districts to say whether they would have the General Health Act in force or not? If so, they would have to leave the elections of the officers, the management of the drainage, and the removal of nuisances in the hands of the parochial authorities of London. Was that the plan of his noble Friend? His noble Friend made no sign.
§ The EARL of SHAFTESBURY
was quite ready to answer his noble Friend's question. His Resolution did not say one word respecting the Board of Health; it only says that "the sanitary state of the metropolis is one that demands the inter, position of the Government." Had he brought forward the Motion of which he gave notice originally, his intention was to put the metropolis on precisely the same footing as any other large town in the kingdom, which was not the case. Any town in the country could petition to be placed under the Health of Towns Act, but the metropolis could not; and all he had contemplated was to put the metropolis on the same footing as any other large town.
§ The EARL of DERBY
must say that his noble Friend had given a very candid answer as to what his intention was; but it was clear that his noble Friend, although he had altered the shape of his Motion, had not altered his views of what was expedient to be done, and that he wished to apply the Health of Towns Act to the metropolis, provided the parishes applied to be placed under its provisions. The elections to offices would, of course, be also under the control of the parishes, and there would be this necessary corollary, that there would be an independent action upon the sewers of the metropolis on the part of each individual parish. This, then, was his noble Friend's mode of meeting the difficulties that had been suggested; but those difficulties had been felt to be so insuperable that every Government had abandoned the design of including the metropolis in the Health of Towns Act. Was there any desire for such a Bill? Had any parish in London petitioned to be placed under the general Act? And, if all the parishes in London had petitioned to be placed under that Act, would the independent action of all be a beneficial mode pf carrying, out what his noble 1308 Friend wished? If this were not done then they must fall back upon a Government Board, which would be charged with powers for levying an immense amount of rates, and which would interfere with the domestic concerns of every individual in the metropolis in such a way that public feeling would revolt against the assumption of such powers. He trusted that he should not be misunderstood, and supposed to be depreciating the importance of the object his noble Friend sought to obtain; but he did think that, considering his noble Friend's experience, their Lordships had a right to expect that he would not have been satisfied with affirming an abstract proposition that the question called for the immediate interference of Her Majesty's Government. The subject had received the attention of Parliament for several years, and his noble Friend ought not to be satisfied with calling upon their Lordships to affirm an abstract resolution of this kind. Occupying the position which his noble Friend did, both officially and personally, he would have dealt with the matter with more advantage to the cause which he advocated to their Lordships, if he had placed on the table a Bill, that might have been discussed, to carry out that particular remedy which his noble Friend thought best adapted to meet the case. He would not, as he had said already, dispute the importance of the objects which his noble Friend had in view, though he might object to the use of the words "immediate interposition" in the Motion of his noble Friend. The interposition of the Government in such a matter, to be effective, must be careful and well considered; it must also be real and prompt.If it were done, when 'tis done, then 'twere wellIf it were done quickly.But to call upon the Government for immediate interposition in a matter that had puzzled Parliament for ten years, was somewhat unreasonable. Still, so anxious was he not to throw difficulties in the way of so useful an object, that, protesting, to a certain degree against the words with regard to immediate interposition, he yet wished to acknowledge the great importance of the subject, and the desirableness of dealing with it as soon as pessible. It was, therefore, not his intention to oppose, or to call upon their Lordships to oppose, the Resolution which his noble Friend had laid on the table, that the present sanitary 1309 state of the metropolis was such as demanded immediate interposition.
§ LORD BEAUMONT
thought the noble Earl (the Earl of Shaftesbury), had attempted to prove too much, for though he had not by any means overstated the evils occasioned by interment in towns and by want of drainage, yet he had unintentionally over-coloured considerably the defects of water supply in the metropolis, and had also stated as facts reports which, from evidence before him, he could not admit to be entirely correct. Take the New River district for instance. Out of 86,000 houses, not more than 2,000 houses were without a sufficient supply. There was ample evidence before their Lordships to prove that the water companies were willing to do all in their power to improve the supply and quality of water. Every one admitted the advantages of having a supply of pure water; but he had not heard any practical plan suggested better than the one adopted by the existing water companies. All the schemes that had been brought forward by the Board of Health, had been found either to be defective or impracticable. Besides, it had been proved by competent persons that the water supplied by the water companies was not so impure as asserted by the noble Earl. There was a daily and an abundant supply. He understood the noble Earl to deny such to be the case; but it seems now that he wishes to intimate that he was misunderstood, and that he did not assert that the present supply of water was deficient. If that were so, he must say he did not think the noble Earl had made out his case against the water companies.
§ The EARL of CARLISLE
felt some delicacy in presenting himself, even for a few minutes, to offer any remarks upon the subject which had been so very impressively and fully brought before their Lordships' notice, because he could not but beware that the late Government, of which lie had the honour of being a Member, were often charged—and perhaps not entirely unjustly charged—with some shortcomings and deficiencies respecting legislation for the purposes of the public health. He was fully aware—and every one who had looked into the subject must be fully aware—of the extreme difficulties in which the whole question was involved, whether with respect to the interment of the dead, the supply of water, or the management of the sewers—such difficulties as must almost necessarily present themselves whenever an attempt was made to 1310 deal with long-existing interests, and where new modes of operation, under circumstances which were calculated to excite dispute and doubt, were sought to be introduced. He therefore hoped the noble. Earl at the head of the Government would not think he was about to use towards him any expression of disapprobation or of distrust, or even of impatience, with respect to the proceedings of his Government. Perhaps, indeed, the danger most to be guarded against was, that the Government should too hastily attempt to deal with the questions brought before them, and thus arrive at an imperfect solution. The measure now before the other House respecting the supply of water, was open to doubt, by those who had considered the subject, and were competent to pronounce an opinion. What was really most to the purpose now, was to gain the attention both of the public, of Parliament, and of the Government, to the very critical state of things which at the present time existed. He felt that perhaps the main difficulty with which the whole question was beset, was the want of sufficient leisure on the part at least of the superior departments of Government to gain the necessary knowledge, and to give the necessary consideration to the subject. The subordinate departments—those which were specially charged with the question, especially the General Board of Health—had no doubt the necessary knowledge, and the energy, and the will; but most of the matters with which they had to deal, required—at least in their preliminary stages—the sanction and the guidance of the Treasury; and when any matter for new legislation knocked at the door there was a disposition—not on the part of one, but of all Governments—to consider it as a very importunate intruder, and to bid it go about its business. He thought, however, that the knock which had been given on this particular subject, had been so loud, and so general, as to compel attention and consideration in the proper quarter. What he chiefly wished was, that the noble Earl at the head of the Government should give his powerful and enlightened mind to the subject; and no one would rejoice more heartily, or applaud him more cordially, than he (the Earl of Carlisle) should, if the exertions of the late Government in the direction of sanitary improvement should be eclipsed and put to shame by the superior zeal and efficiency which the present Ministry might bring to bear on the subject.
§ The EARL of HARROWBY
was convinced that unless the attention of the country could he constantly kept alive to the magnitude and extent of the evils now in existence as regarded sanitary matters, no Government would ever take upon themselves to overcome the vested interests which stood in the way of improvement. He was afraid, in fact, that nothing short of another cholera would do it. The statement of the noble Earl (the Earl of Shaftesbury), he (the Earl of Harrowby) hoped would do somewhat of the same service. Any scheme, to be efficient, must interfere so much with these vested interests, that unless the public were fully impressed with the absolute necessity of action, nothing would be done. Now, he thought the noble Earl at the head of the Government had magnified the difficulties in the way of improvement, and made them appear of so formidable a character, that the effect of his speech, he feared, would be not only to discourage this House from interfering, but to encourage interested opposition. The noble Earl had remarked upon the difficulty of dealing with this question by legislation, in consequence of the apathy which he attributed to those whom it was intended to benefit. Now, it was not the apathy of the lodgers and occupiers of house property with which they had to contend, but it was the opposition of the owners, whose only object was to make the uttermost penny of their tenements with the least possible outlay. Parliament was not asked to make the community clean, but to enable them to make themselves clean. They should recollect that the question at issue was the lives, the morals, the habits and the comforts of two and and a half millions of people; and for objects like these difficulties must be overcome, opposition must be encountered, minor objections must be disregarded, or nothing effective could be done. As it was, the position of things was most discouraging. In some respects it had retrograded; public opinion was growing indifferent, Governments had grown hostile, the vis inertia was predominating, the vested interests were in the ascendant. In the matter of intramural interments things were left in a worse position than they were before; the Sewers Commission was paralysed and crippled; the prospect of spring water for the metropolis was at an end; and it was highly necessary that the attention of the public, of this House, and of the Government, should be fixed 1312 upon the importance of the question, and that they should not be deterred from grappling with it by interested opposition. He begged, therefore, to thank his noble Friend (the Earl of Shaftesbury) for bringing forward this question and bringing the alarming facts of the case afresh before the public eye; and he hoped that it would not be ineffective towards renewing some degree of activity and inspiring fresh life into the proceedings of the Government on this great question.
§ The DUKE of NEWCASTLE
was sure the noble Earl (the Earl of Derby) would forgive him for saying that the spirit in which he seemed to have commented upon the difficulties of this question would, he feared, have a tendency to increase that want of attention to this subject which had been growing for the last two or three years, mainly in consequence of what had been alluded to by the noble Earl on his right (the Earl of Carlisle) the want of perfect acquaintance with the subject on the part of the heads of the Government. This was one of those questions upon which the public must take a great interest if any effective legislation were to be introduced into Parliament; they must be convinced not only of the importance of the subject, but also that great sacrifices of prejudice and opinions must be made in order to carry out any effectual improvements in the present system; for without combined action no great advantage could be expected. He should have rejoiced, therefore, if the noble Earl at the head of the Government had given rather more encouragement to the cause of sanitary improvement, and had held a less discouraging tone as regarded any future exertions in that direction. Though he (the Duke of Newcastle) did not underrate the difficulties in the way of legislation, he thought the noble Earl had in many respects exaggerated them, and especially he had done some harm by urging so strongly the obstacles which interpose in the way of the machinery by which this measure was to be carried out. No doubt there were great difficulties, but by no means insuperable ones; and it only required a fixedness of the public mind upon the magnitude of the present evils to cause an entire agreement as to any well-considered measure which might be brought forward by the Executive. The noble Earl had entirely misunderstood what had taken place in a previous Session with reference to the comprehension of the metropolis under the 1313 jurisdiction of the Board of Health. The objections then raised on his (the Duke of Newcastle's) part were not that the General Board of Health should have jurisdiction over the metropolis, but that the metropolis should be included in the same Bill as the towns in the country; and what he said on the subject was, he believed, this—that he had been most anxious, in the first instance, to include the metropolis, but found it to be impossible, on account of its immense magnitude, and he therefore wished a separate Bill to be introduced similar in principle to the general Bill; but he was far from wishing not to place it under the General Board. As regarded the control of the sewers of the metropolis, which was vested in a Board appointed by the Crown, although several attempts had been made to remodel that Board, and the number of its members had been reduced, first from 500 to 40 or 50, and afterwards to 12, some further alteration of that body would, he believed, be required before they would be enabled to carry the necessary sanitary measures into full and fair operation. How was it now constituted? There were among its members several distinguished individuals, some of them engineers of the highest eminence in their profession, but whose time was invaluable to them, and from whom it was utterly impossible to expect such attention to their duties as would enable them to be effective at the Board. Unless the number of members were still further reduced, say to three or five, who must be a paid body, he was confident the important functions appertaining to the Board would never be properly discharged. Unless we had a small paid body we could not expect them to pay that attention to their duties which would enable them to oppose the jobbing tendencies of interested individuals, and to carry out their measures effectually. The noble Earl at the head of the Government had greatly overrated any opposition which might be expected from those for whose benefit sanitary measures were intended. As for believing that any opposition would be made by the poor who paid such large rents for their miserable holdings, he, from some little personal experience, entirely disbelieved any such thing. In the same way he thought the noble Earl had discouraged those efforts for extramural interments which never could be effected by any private companies. Again, with reference to the water com- 1314 panies, he believed that question might have been now in a far better position than it was, had it received a favourable consideration from the Government. He did hope that the noble Earl who had just now thrown some discouragement upon the progress of the cause of sanitary improvement in the public mind, would take an early opportunity in another Session of Parliament of proving that, though by his words now he had not answered public expectation, he was willing by his acts then Jo do all that a Government could do in forwarding this great object. He did hope, too, that the noble Earl (the Earl of Shaftesbury) would, in the next Session, take an early opportunity of pressing the subject again on the attention of Government.
§ The EARL of SHAFTESBURY
explained that he had made no complaint as to a defective supply of water, but he bad complained of its bad distribution. He had to complain also that the noble Earl replied to him on the supposition that he had made a Motion which he did not make. The noble Earl had objected to the proposed scheme for extramural interments; but he was satisfied that the scheme which had been proposed would be found practicable, and suited to the object to be attained.
§ The EARL of DERBY
thought very possibly he might have said more than he intended to say, if it were conceived for a moment that he denied that the poorest classes would not thankfully accept any remedies which might be placed at their command. What he did say was, that in legislating or enforcing cleanliness upon any district, the Government had to contend against the apathy and indifference of a large portion of the inhabitants of that district—meaning by that a large portion who, pecuniarily, might be considered to suffer, and who regarded that pecuniary consideration as superior to the advantages which they would gain by the change. He hoped it would not be supposed that he had thrown cold water upon the earnest efforts of the noble Earl; but he was anxious that their Lordships should not hastily commit themselves to the Motion of the noble Earl, calling for the immediate interposition of the Government; and he had, therefore thought it necessary to point out the difficulties which he saw in seeking to accomplish an object which he was sure even his noble Friend had not more at heart than himself. He would submit that 1315 if the noble Earl really pressed for the adoption of his Motion, to which be (the Earl of Derby) made no objection, the words "immediate interposition" were stronger than their Lordships ought to sanction, and that his noble Friend should substitute either the "immediate attention of the Government," or "the interposition of the Government" to which there could not be the slightest exception.
§ The EARL of SHAFTESBURY
said, he should willingly substitute the word "attention" for that of "interposition."
§ On Question, Motion as amended, agreed to.
§ House adjourned till To-morrow.