HL Deb 01 May 1896 vol 40 cc321-3

, in moving that this Bill be read a second time, be-spoke the indulgence usually extended by their Lordships to one who addressed them for the first time. He said that, by the Public Health Act, 1875, it was provided that a pipe into which the sewage of more than one house ran became a sewer repairable by the public authority. That position was in no way recognised by local authorities until a decision was given in the case of Travis v. Uttley, in December 1893, which revealed their obligation to the local authorities, who had up to that time thought that owners or occupiers were obliged to maintain all drains on private property. An attempt was made in the Public Health Act, 1890, to bring the law into accord with practice by enacting that when one or more houses were connected with a public sewer by a single drain, and these houses belonged to different owners, then the public authority might compel the occupiers to put the drain into order. But last year, in the case of Hill v. Hair, the judges held that there were two defects in this Act which made it inapplicable to the drains that were sewers under the original Act, and to houses which belonged to the same owner. In these circumstances the Bill was introduced to define the expressions "sewer" and "drain." In Worcester there were 47 miles, and in Nottingham 230 miles of drains, which, unless this Bill were passed would remain sewers repairable by the public authority. There were two ways in which landowners would be affected; they would retain drains which would not be compulsorily taken from them as they might be at present; and they would have power to build over or alter any drains which were on their property at present. The other clauses were comparatively unimportant. The second section provided that the procedure adopted in the case of streets should be followed by the local authority in requiring a drain in a dangerous state to be put in order. The third clause gave a local authority power to declare a drain to be a sewer; and it was not likely to be abused, because no local authority would undertake the charge of more sewers than it could avoid, for fear of unduly burdening the local rates. The Bill had received the approval of the Association of Municipal Corporations, who were of opinion that the definitions of sewer and drain in the Bill were the best that could be devised.


said that as the Earl of Wemyss was unable to attend he had been requested by others to endeavour to postpone the discussion of a Bill which was strongly opposed in Liverpool, Manchester and Salford. He therefore moved the adjournment of the Debate.


said it would be rather a strong measure, without hearing any arguments going to the substance of the Bill, to refuse a Second Reading, and the objections to the Bill could be heard on going into Committee.


said the Local Government Board did not object to the Second Reading, but would ask that they should have a fortnight to consider it before going into Committee. He congratulated Lord Beauchamp on the lucidity with which he had introducd the Bill.


said, he hoped their Lordships would read the Bill a second time. His own experience had shown him that a better definition of drains and sewers was wanted, especially after the decisions which had been referred to. There were some Amendments he would suggest in Committee; but the Bill certainly deserved a Second Reading. He should also like to acknowledge the admirably clear manner in which the noble Lord had introduced the Bill.

Amendment, by leave of the House, withdrawn, and original Motion agreed to.

Bill read 2a accordingly; and committed to a Committee of the whole House on Friday the 15th instant.