HL Deb 16 July 1872 vol 212 cc1239-41

said, he desired to ask a Question with reference to a matter which might be supposed specially to concern himself and those in the house he had the honour to occupy; but when he found the evil of which he complained destroying the stone of the house in which he lived and injuring the owner's own property and the public property committed to his care, and destroying the bindings of the books of the valuable library of which he was the guardian, it was time to consider whether other people might not be equally injured. This nuisance was one which the Legislature had taken steps to correct, for it had entrusted Her Majesty's principal Secretary of State with the duty in the first instance of seeing that such nuisances were abated. Their Lordships were aware that Acts had been passed providing for the consumption of smoke, from the first of which potteries were exempted. By a subsequent Act that exemption had been taken away, so that potteries stood now under the same obligation as other furnaces from which smoke injurious to public health and public property might proceed. The Act which ordered that such matters should be inquired into laid the duty on the Home Secretary of putting in force in the first instance the provisions of the Smoke Nuisance Act. Accordingly, he had sent a memorial to the Secretary of State, and he received from him the answer that the memorial had been forwarded to the Local Government Board, and from the Local Government Board he received the further intimation that they had handed it to the Vestry of Lambeth. He had the greatest respect for his fellow-parishioners who composed that Vestry, and he had no doubt they were anxious to do their duty; but he thought they were not anxious to do the duty of the Secretary of State. Moreover, he thought the expense of putting down this nuisance could hardly with fairness be charged upon the ratepayers of Lambeth, for the injury done was not confined to the parish, but must extend to the whole surrounding neighborhood. The stone in the buildings on the south side of the Thames, especially in the house which he occupied, was suffering from exactly the same sort of decay as that which was going on in the walls of the Houses of Parliament. Dr. Christison said that muriatic acid which was poured forth from these potteries produced the most serious effects. The muriatic acid was elaborated by pouring on the pottery work when it was red-hot a certain amount of common salt, and the gas thus evolved poisoned the whole atmosphere around. The muriatic acid gas acting on any stone which contained lime immediately decomposed the stone, and any ornamental work like that which abounded in the Houses of Parliament crumbled away. A very small quantity, according to Dr. Christison, was fatal to animal and vegetable life, and anyone might see that the trees which had been planted on the other side of the river were dying under its influence, and he could not but doubt that it would be found that the death rate in some parts of the parish of Lambeth was raised by the pouring out of muriatic acid from these potteries. Therefore, he wished to know, Whether as the Secretary of State had been memorialized on the subject, any steps have been taken to protect the Victoria Tower from the effects of the smoke charged with muriatic acid which is continually poured forth from the low chimneys of the potteries in Lambeth, such effects being equally deleterious to buildings in the neighborhood and to the health of the dense population living near the works?


said, the decay of stone in the Houses of Parliament had been for some time under con- sideration. The Government, however, had no information or evidence to show that the decay had arisen from the presence of muriatic acid in the air. Several experiments had been made, and eight were now under course of trial on the stone of the terrace, which was the same as that employed in the Victoria Tower. None had as yet proved that any external application would prevent the decay of the stone. A sum of money had been inserted in the Estimates for this year, and would be continued annually, for the repair of the decayed stone. The Office of Works had no power to interfere with the nuisance of the Lambeth potteries.


thought the Smoke Nuisance Prevention Act made it imperative on the Secretary of State to put down the nuisance.


stated that further inquiry was going on as to this subject, and if the most rev. Primate would repeat his Question on a future occasion he should be happy to answer him.