HL Deb 16 June 1862 vol 167 cc631-3

House in Committee (according to Order).

Clause 4.


moved the omission of the words "stones, brickbats," and to insert "the refuse of any brickyard," there being nothing in the evidence taken before the Select Committee to show that any injury had resulted from the throwing if stones into the tributary streams of the Jersey and the Irwell.


objected o the clause altogether, and wished to draw their Lordships' attention to the serious nature of the principle it involved. The clause proposed to alter the law by substituting a penal procedure for what, is far as it was the subject of law at all, lad hitherto been met only by a civil proceeding. This was a very serious change to make in an obscure clause in an obscure private Bill. The clause under consideration proposed to make it a penal thing to throw an obstruction into a stream, although that obstruction might be of a nature which would neither pollute the stream nor in the smallest degree interfere with the flow of the water down to the navigable river. In common reason the thing to be prohibited should be described to be something done in such a manner as to produce one or both of the two evils the existence of which it was the object of this clause to prevent. He trusted the clause would be so modified as to make it an offence only when the thing done was productive of injurious consequences.


said, the objection of the noble and learned Lord went to the entire Bill; but he was not quite accurate in stating that they were about to substitute a penal procedure for that which was, at the present moment, only the subject of a civil proceeding. Legislation had, in fact, been rendered absolutely necessary in the present case. It seemed there were a variety of tributary streams which poured their waters into the Mersey and the Irwell, and on those tributaries there where many hundreds of manufactories which had been in the habit of depositing near the adjacent streams, or throwing into them, certain refuse, to be carried in successive floods down to the navigable streams the Mersey and Irwell. The navigation had been very much impaired in consequence. In fact, the evil had increased to such an extent that in 1859 there were 27,000 tons of refuse sent down to the navigation; in 1860, there were 63,000 tons; and in 1861, 92,000 tons. There could be no doubt that any person who sustained a private injury might bring an action against the party to whom such injury was attributed; but the difficulty in the present case was to ascertain to whom the injury was to be ascribed. Of course, supposing they could bring home to any individual the fact that he had impeded the public navigation, he would be liable to an indictment; but it was clear in this case that the mischief was acknowledged, and that no practical remedy existed. What therefore were they to do? The Bill merely proposed to give the parties the means of preventing the mischief which was acknowlegded, by making it a penal offence to throw materials into those streams which might be carried down to the navigation of the Mersey and Irwell. This was not the first time that such a provision had been introduced into a private Bill. Penal clauses, under similar circumstances, had been introduced into the Bolton Improvement Act of 1854, the Salford Improvement Bill, the River Navigation Act, and the Mersey Docks Act, 1858. He therefore apprehended their Lordships would not think there was anything in the objection of the noble and learned Lord.


declined to discuss the principle of the Bill, but supported the Amendment, the whole of the evidence showing that the only things complained of were cinders.


said, that what he contended for was simply that the act done and described in the Bill as constituting an offence should be regarded as an offence only in the event of it being attended with the pollution of the waters of any particular stream or an obstruction of its navigation.


supported the clause, maintaining that the penalties which it proposed to inflict were imposed by a number of provisions in existing Acts.

Clause amended, and agreed to.

Clause 9 struck out.

Remaining clauses agreed to.

Report of the Amendments to be received to-morrow; and Bill to be printed as amended [No. 105].