§ LORD BERNERS
presented a petition, from butchers, farmers, graziers, salesmen, and others, engaged in the trade and sale of meat in the Metropolitan Markets, praying for the repeal of such portions, of the several Acts of Parliament as now interfered with their trade, and for the passing of an Act to regulate the modes of obtaining licenses, and to be heard by counsel thereon. The noble Lord said, that the respectable portion of the trade were quite satisfied with regulations for shutting up all unfit slaughter-houses—and indeed, it was for their interest that the meat brought into the market should be pure and fresh in appearance, and of the best qua- 762 lity. It was impossible, however, if the slaughtering of cattle were confined to a limited number of public slaughter-houses, that that object could be obtained. The Petitioners, who numbered upwards of 1,400, naturally felt much alarm at the course pursued by various benches of the magistrates in petty session, refusing licenses to a large number of metropolitan butchers to slaughter on the premises; which licenses they were empowered to grant at their discretion by the Metropolitan Markets Act. No special reasons had been shown for such refusal, and the petitioners stated that they had complied with all the requirements of the Board of Health and the Metropolis Local Management Act, so as to prevent their slaughterhouses from being pernicious to public health. They pointed out that great injury would result from their being obliged to slaughter in the four public slaughter houses which were at a great distance, and were totally insufficient for the requirements of the trade; while the packing of dense masses of meat together, on its removal from the public slaughter-houses, would cause fermentation, and render the meat unwholesome. After enumerating some other disadvantages which would result from the closing of private slaughterhouses, the petitioners stated that the effect of the present enactment would be, in the course of a few years, to shut up every slaughter-house in the metropolis (as defined by the Metropolis Local Management Act, 1855), except such as had been already erected by the corporation of the City of London at Copenhagen-fields, or which might be erected by them under section 8 of the Metropolitan Market Act, 1857; and to prevent the erection of any new ones, however well constructed and otherwise unobjectionable, inasmuch as no available sights could be found in the metropolis which would not fall under the prohibition in the Act. The heavy loss already sustained by the corporation of London in the erection of the Metropolitan Cattle Market would tend much to prevent the erection by them of any other market or slaughter-houses; and the necessities of the trade required that there should be many such places erected in different localities, convenient for those resident within certain districts, rather than they should be driven up to one or two slaughter-houses at long distances from the places where they carried on their trade. The petitioners had no objection to their premises being placed 763 under the superintendence of responsible authorities, and were willing to carry out all such reasonable requisitions as might be made by the authorities for the purposes of the public health, or of rendering their premises unobjectionable to their neighbours; and they submitted that the power of licensing would be better vested in the local authorities appointed under the Metropolis Local Management Act, 1855, who had attached to them medical officers of health and surveyors competent to advise and guide them, than left in the arbitrary discretion of the magistrates in petty sessions.
§ Petition ordered to lie on the table.
§ House adjourned at a Quarter to Six o'clock, 'till To-morrow Half past Ten o'clock.