HL Deb 11 June 1857 vol 145 cc1549-51

Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.


, in moving the second reading of this Bill, said its provisions were mainly in accordance with the Act now in operation in the metropolis, He proposed to confine the operation of his measure to Scotland, in the hope that when its good effects had been manifested it would be adopted in other parts of the kingdom. No doubt, there were provisions in various local improvement Acts which gave power to abate the smoke nuisance, but they had been found inoperative. He knew of one case in which an inspector had been appointed for the purpose of carrying this provision into operation; but the people whose manufactories made all the smoke were the authorities before whom the complaint would have had to be laid, so that all he dared to do was occasionally to bring an information against some small delinquent, while the great offenders es- caped altogether. The only objection which could be brought against the Bill was the expense of altering the furnaces which it compelled; but it had been found by experience that this was very small, while the saving in fuel and the increased steam power which was gained very soon repaid it all with good interest. In one establishment near London the consumption of coal had been reduced from 25 cwt. to 18 cwt. a day, and he knew of a colliery in Scotland where an alteration costing £88 had produced a saving of £300 a year. But, even supposing there was no saving, Parliament had yet a right to enforce these alterations for the sake of the towns which were afflicted with these smoke nuisances, he had left a blank in the Bill in which to insert the amount of population of which the towns should be to which the Bill should apply. Perhaps it would not be advisable to extend it to small towns and to villages. The machinery of the Bill was very simple, and he hoped their Lordships would give it a second reading.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.


said, that having had the honour of representing Edinburgh in several Parliaments, he took a deep interest in its affairs. One name for Edinburgh was "Modern Athens," and the other "Auld Reekie." The first name derived from the unexampled beauty of the buildings of the city; the second from the heavy clouds of smoke by which they were overwhelmed and obscured. There was no doubt that this Bill recommended itself by that of which his countrymen were very fond—economy—for smoke was the unignited part of the fuel, and was so much waste. He trusted that the Bill would pass both Houses of Parliament. Its working out might require a little vigour; but that was a secondary consideration. For his exertions on this subject he thought a debt of gratitude was due to the noble Lord the Chairman of Committees (Lord Redesdale), who would go down to posterity as the great smoke destroyer.


said, that any one standing on the high-level Bridge at Newcastle-on-Tyne must be perfectly amazed at the extent, the denseness, and the variety of the smoke which hung over the town. There was a clause in the Improvement Act of that town for putting down the nuisance; but it had been found inoperative for the reason stated by the noble Lord—the chief creators of the nuisance were the persons who appointed the inspectors and who would have to decide on any complaint which he might bring before them. There could be no doubt that in consequence of the measures which had been taken with regard to the consumption of smoke a great improvement had been effected in the atmosphere of this metropolis—so much so that at this season of the year the atmosphere of the metropolis was not much inferior to that of Paris. He trusted that the attention of the Government and the Legislature would be directed to the improvement of all the manufacturing districts in this respect, and that vigorous measures would be taken to suppress what was a serious and growing evil.


regretted that the Bill did not apply to all parts of the United Kingdom. At the same time he thought the provision with regard to informations was defective. The duty of giving information devolved on three parties, and experience showed, that where three parties had to discharge a duty it was never well done.


, and the Duke of RICHMOND, were understood, severally, to declare their approbation of the object of the Bill, and to suggest plans by which it might be enforced.

Motion agreed to.

Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the whole House Tomorrow.

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