HL Deb 17 July 1866 vol 184 cc930-2

in presenting a Petition from Thomas Hawkesley, M D., and others, praying for an inquiry into the best means of Disinfecting Sewage and preventing the Pollution of Rivers, said, that the question to which the petition referred was a most important one, as our rivers were suffering very much from the increasing amount of sewage which was poured into them. The certificates of scientific persons attested the efficacy, importance, and practical value of Mr. Dover's system of filtering and deodorizing sewage. He could testify that the liquid which the process left, although it might not be particularly desirable to drink it, was yet clean and pure enough to be used for common washing purposes. At all events, it could not be at all injurious to rivers; and the adoption of the process along the banks of the Thames would produce the purification of that river. Those who had tested its results declared them to be important enough to justify an investigation at the public expense, and, as the matter lay in a nutshell, an inquiry need not occupy more than two or three days.


said, that he was not quite clear whether his noble Friend meant merely to present the petition, or move for the appointment of a Committee on the subject. There was a considerable difference between the two; and if a Committee was to be moved for, though he did not see of what use it could be at the present state of the Session, his noble Friend had better give notice to that effect.


repeated, that an inquiry need not occupy more than a few days, and gave notice that he would move for a Committee.


said, that when he was Chairman of the Committee appointed some time ago to inquire into the subject of the Pollution of Rivers, Mr. Dover's invention was brought before it, and the results appeared to be as satisfactory as those of any process could well be expected to be. The liquid was perfectly free from smell and colour, and the extracted manure had been shown by experiment to possess practical value. But it was a question whether it would not be too expensive to adopt. Much good could hardly be expected from such an inquiry as could be made this Session. In regard to the purification of rivers and the utilization of sewage, he had arrived at the conclusion that we made a great mistake in allowing the rainfall to mix with the sewage of our towns. The sewage was a pretty constant quantity, and there was practically little difficulty in providing the means for dealing with it; but the uncertainty of the rainfall involved many difficulties. It was calculated that the average rainfall was about equal to the sewage of London for a year; but, whereas the sewage was equally distributed over the year, the rain fell within 140 or 150 days, and three-fourths of it in the course of from thirty to sixty days. He thought that if the more rational course were adopted in the metropolis and other towns of keeping separate what was originally separate—namely, the rainfall and the sewage—an inquiry into Mr. Dover's invention, and other kindred inventions, would have been of less importance; but, as things stood at present, it was highly desirable that such an inquiry should be instituted. From what he had seen of Mr. Dover's invention, he did not despair of its proving workable, and he felt satisfied that it deserved to be carefully inquired into.


remarked, that the ease was very urgent, and if Mr. Dover's invention was such as the noble Earl had described, it would be productive of very great advantages, and would prove a boon to the country.

Petition ordered to lie upon the table.