HL Deb 01 March 1875 vol 222 cc985-6

asked, Whether it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to take any steps or introduce any measure during the present Session with a view to obtaining a better and purer supply of water for the Metropolis? The noble Earl said, it was admitted that the water supply of the capital was not what it should be, and it would not be so till the water was obtained from other sources. The principal offender in respect to the quality of water supplied to the metropolis was the Chelsea Water Works Company, The quality of that Company's supply had been condemned in several official reports which had been brought under the notice of the Local Government Board. The Company had a Bill at present before Parliament for the purpose of enabling them to effect certain improvements in their works which would enable them, to some extent, to remedy the evils complained of; but he submitted that it was the duty of the Government to introduce a measure calculated to prevent the recurrence of such a state of things as now existed.


said, that as one of the unfortunate persons supplied by the Chelsea Company he could endorse the statement that the water supplied by that Company was unfit for consumption; and he thought that pressure should be brought to bear upon them to improve the supply.


replied that the question involved in the noble Earl's inquiry was a very large one, for it amounted to an inquiry whether it was the intention of the Government to take over from the Companies the water supply of the metropolis. In answer to that part of the Question he could say that it was not the intention of the Government to introduce any measure for the purpose. With regard to the Chelsea Water Works Company, the state of the water supplied by it had been for some time the subject of consideration by the Local Government Board, and the result of the communications which they had addressed to the Company was, that the Company had brought a Bill before Parliament to enable them to take their water from a higher, and therefore purer, part of the river and to construct a new reservoir, and thereby to improve both the quantity and quality of the water they supplied. Until the fate of that measure was ascertained, it would be premature for the Government to propose any compulsory powers with regard to the Company. He might remind their Lordships that the Bill introduced by this Company two years ago with a similar purpose was thrown out by their Lordships on the second reading. Residing in the same district, and being supplied with the same water as the noble Lord (Lord Belper), he could assure his noble Friend that he was quite as desirous for the improvement of the Company's water as his noble Friend himself could be.