HL Deb 08 March 1881 vol 259 cc534-9

Order of the Day for the House to be put in Committee, read.


said, that before their Lordships went into Committee he desired to say a few words. The evil with which the Bill dealt was a growing one. He had been informed on very good authority that the effect of the vapours from some works was felt six or seven miles away. This Bill was very much weaker than its predecessors. He had put some Amendments on the Paper, and had been strongly pressed, in case they should not be carried, to move the rejection of the measure on the third reading. He did not, however, intend to take that course, as he considered that there were some good points in it. He thought coke works should come under the Bill, and he desired to restore to the 2nd Schedule a number of works recommended by the Commissioners to be placed under inspection. The whole time of Inspectors and Sub-Inspectors ought to be devoted to their work, they being paid in a sufficiently liberal manner. He was of opinion that the Reports should contain not only the opinions of the Chief Inspector, but those of the Sub-Inspectors also. There ought to be liability on the part of masters for the acts of their servants, and he could not understand why it was proposed by this Bill to alter that old law. After a great deal of consideration he had come to the conclusion that no Bill which did not contain a collective liability clause would be satisfactory. He had excellent authority for the belief that the test required by the Bill was less stringent than were those recommended by the Commissioners, and than those which were now in use in many establishments. That was a blot upon the Bill, and he certainly thought they ought to have as severe a test in the matter as was practicable. He would accept the Bill on the principle that half-a-loaf was better than no bread, and that "we ought to be thankful for small mercies," although he felt that it would not cure evils which might have been got rid of by a statesmanlike measure.

House in Committee accordingly.

Clauses 1 to 6, inclusive, agreed to.

Clause 7 (Condensation of acid gases in sulphuric acid works).


moved, in page 3, line 22, after ("work") to insert ("and every coke work"), and in line 27, after ("acid") to insert ("or coke").


said, he could not consent to the Amendment, which would make the clause too restrictive.


said, that as the Royal Commission recommended that there should be legislation in respect of coke ovens, he hoped the Government would in some way give effect to the recommendation.


observed, that the noble Viscount (Viscount Midelton) appeared to desire coke ovens to be subject to still more stringent provisions than had been recommended by the Commission. He thought the enormous volumes of black smoke emitted from them might be dealt with under the provisions of the Nuisances Act rather than by this Bill. If the coke ovens were placed in the clause, it would be utterly impossible, owing to the expense, for the proprietors to carry on business. If the House thought that there ought to be legislation in respect of coke ovens constructed in the future, it would be better to do that in another manner than that proposed in the Amendment.


suggested that coke ovens might be dealt with in the Schedule.


said, that, for the most part, the existing coke ovens were carried on by an almost bankrupt proprietary, and the sooner they were swept away the better. It was monstrous that they should continue to pollute the country and destroy vegetation because it would be expensive to manufacture coke if precautions were taken to prevent the escape of acid. The least he could consent to was a clause giving power to the Government to introduce future regulations.


said, there were not a half-a-dozen towns in England where the local authorities could be induced to enforce the Smoke Nuisance Act, notwithstanding the frequently expressed public indignation of the inhabitants. If these authorities neglected their duty in this respect, some alternative ought to be provided. Under the new system of coke ovens, the damage done by the sulphurous fumes emitted was comparatively small; but by the old system the damage extended as far as half-a-mile, vegetation in that whole radius being injured. He did not think the Amendment dealt with the coke oven question in the best way; but he hoped their Lordships would receive from the Government an assurance that they would make a proposal on the subject.


asked the noble Lord (Lord Aberdare), whether he would be satisfied if the new coke ovens were dealt with?


said, that would be better than nothing; but it would hardly meet the case.


said, the Government would have no objection to consider the matter before the Report.


said, he would press his Amendment.

On question, their Lordships divided:—Contents 28; Not-Contents 46: Majority 18.

Canterbury, L. Archp. London, L. Bp.
Salisbury, M. Abinger, L.
Balfour of Burleigh, L.
Bateman, L.
Bathurst, E. Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.)
Beaconsfield, E.
Cadogan, E. [Teller.] Colville of Culross, L.
Jersey, E. Cottesloe, L.
Lathom, E. [Teller.] De L'Isle and Dudley, L.
Manvers, E.
Nelson, E. Inchiquin, L.
Selkirk, E. Norton, L.
Shaftesbury, E. Penrhyn, L.
Stanhope, E. Shute, L. (V. Barrington.)
Waldegrave, E.
Stanley of Alderley, L.
Templetown, V. Tollemache, L.
Selborne, L. (L. Chancellor.) Annaly, L.
Auckland, L.
Brabourne, L
Bedford, D. Breadalbane, L. (E. Breadalbane.)
Somerset, D.
Carrington, L.
Lansdowne, M. Clifford of Chudleigh, L.
Airlie, E. Denman, L.
Dartrey, E. Dorchester, L.
Derby, E. Elgin, L. (E. Elgin and Kincardine.)
Ducie, E.
Granville, E. Foley, L.
Kimberley, E. Harris, L.
Morley, E. Houghton, L.
Northbrook, E. Kenmare, L. (E. Kenmare.)
Spencer, E.
Sydney, E. Kenry, L. (E. Dunraven and Mount-Earl.)
Cranbrook, V. Lawrence, L.
Sherbrooke, V. Lyttelton, L.
Aberdale, L. Meldrum, L. (M. Huntly.)
Monson, L. [Teller.] Stratheden and Campbell, L.
Ramsay, L. (E. Dalhousie.) Sudeley, L. [Teller.]
Sandhurst, L. Sundridge, L. (D. Argyll.)
Sandys, L.
Sefton, L. (E. Sefton.) Vernon, L.
Strafford, L. (V. Enfield.) Waveney, L.
Wolverton, L.

Resolved in the negative.

Clause verbally amended, and agreed to.

Clauses 7 to 26, inclusive, agreed to, with Amendments.

Clause 27 (Actions in case of contributory nuisance).


moved to leave out the closing words of the clause, which were— Notwithstanding that the act or default of such defendant would not separately have caused a nuisance. He did not see, when it was difficult to state with accuracy what part a person might have had in the creation of a nuisance, that he should be proceeded against separately. Copper and other works were excluded from this Bill, and would not be inspected. Consequently, though they might contribute to the particular nuisance, they would escape, while the inspected works would come within this clause. As Lord Justice Lush had laid down that any number of defendants might be included in the same action, there was already a means of recovering damages from every owner of an inspected works who contributed to the damage.


hoped that the Government would adhere to the words proposed to be left out of the Bill. There might be great annoyance caused to a large population which could not be traced to one single work, or to two works, or three works. He knew that in some places great injury was done to trees, houses, furniture, and animals without the owners being able to say more than that the injury came from such a district or such a town. This principle of collective liability was a feature absolutely necessary to give the Bill any salutary effect.


hoped the Government would not allow the words in question to be struck out, else the Bill would not be worth sending to the other House of Parliament.

A noble LORD

said, that after what had fallen from the noble Lord (Lord Aberdare), he should like to know whether, in the opinion of the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, the regulations as to costs under the Judicature Act applied to County Courts dealing with actions under the present law?


said, he would inquire into the matter; but he did not think it probable they would be applicable.

Amendment negatived.

Clause agreed to.

Remaining Clauses agreed to.

Schedule agreed to.

House resumed.

The Report of the Amendments to be received on Tuesday next; and Bill to be printed as amended. (No. 33.)