§ THE EARL OF DERBY
, in rising to move for the appointment of a Select Committee "to inquire into the Injury resulting from noxious vapours evolved in certain manufacturing Processes, and into the State of the Law relating thereto," said, that in the absence of more exciting topics of discussion, he hoped he need offer no apology to their Lordships for bringing under their notice as briefly as he could a subject which was certainly altogether removed from the range of party or political questions:—so far removed, that his only fear in dealing with that subject was, that he should not be able to attract to it the attention of the House in a degree commensurate with its real importance. It was, however, one of a class of questions which, upon sanitary and economic grounds, could not fail every day to force itself more and more upon the notice of Parliament and the country. We as a nation were proud of the rapid increase in our population—an increase which each year continued to progress, notwithstanding the swarms of people which we annually sent from our shores to replenish the populations of other countries, and perhaps to found new Empires. We exulted still more in the fact, that notwithstanding temporary checks, our manufacturing industry more than kept pace with the amount of our growing population; and no man would be insane enough to suggest any measure which would be likely to result in placing the slightest check in the way of those two great elements of our national prosperity. We must 1453 not, however, conceal from ourselves that this growing population and these extending manufactures were not unaccompanied with evils which well deserved the serious consideration of the Legislature. Their Lordships had already taken some steps in reference to the subject to which he was about to call their notice. Not many years ago some stringent measures were introduced, affecting, it was true, only the metropolis, for the purpose of abating what was known as the smoke nuisance. These measures included within their scope the operations of more than one noxious trade, and were, so far as the metropolis was concerned, attended with great advantage. Now, as a Lancashire man, he was not prepared to embark upon any course so extravagant as a crusade against the smoke nuisance. Indeed, he was bound to admit—and he did so with great regret—that that was a nuisance which was regarded with great indifference, if not with great complacency, by a large portion of the population in the manufacturing districts. The House of Commons was, he might add, at the present moment occupied in a kindred inquiry to that to which he invited their Lordships' attention—an inquiry of the utmost importance, with respect to which he entertained very sanguine anticipations, and which he hoped would be attended by beneficial results. He alluded to the inquiry into the question how far we might be able to utilize for the benefit of the country the enormous mass of sewage in the different towns of England, which was at present not only absolutely wasted—thereby contravening every intention of nature and Providence, which designed that every material should be made the means of efficient reproduction and increased fertility—but was converted into a source of contamination, poisoning our rivers and streams. It was only last year, he might remind the House, that in order to attain an object not, he allowed, unimportant, but in comparison with such considerations as the due maintenance of the health and cultivation of the country, comparatively insignificant, a measure was introduced to provide for the better preservation of salmon by enacting stringent provisions against the pollution of rivers. Now, he was sure their Lordships were, generally speaking, unaware of the extent to which that pollution was carried, to the detriment of the health of the community and to the prejudice of the productive powers of the land; and although the case did not fall 1454 precisely within the terms of his Motion, he might be permitted to mention that a very eminent chemist, Dr. Lyon Playfair, had told him the other day, that complaints having been made with regard to the quality of the water served out in a certain manufacturing town in the North, he had been called upon to examine it professionally, and found—a material increase in the amount of arsensic and preparations of lead having taken place in certain processes of calico-printing in the town, and the refuse water having been discharged into the stream—that while in the water itself there was no appreciable quantity of arsenic, yet that one pound of the mud at the bottom of the river which supplied the drinking water for the population of the place, contained no less than from ten to thirteen grains of arsenic. That fact clearly showed, he thought, how worthy was the question of serious consideration. That, however, was not the subject on which he was about to address them. That to which he wished to draw specially the attention of the House was the evolution of noxious vapours in certain manufacturing processes. In doing so, he deemed it to be his duty not only to point out the injury inflicted upon a neighbourhood with which he was well acquainted, but also to show before the Committee, which he trusted their Lordships would appoint, that that injury might be easily obviated by means simple and comparatively inexpensive. Beyond that, he thought he should be able to prove that in many cases the very refuse which was the cause of pollution might be made a source of profit to the manufacturers themselves, and that the law as it at present stood was insufficient to enable private individuals or the public to obtain adequate redress in those instances in which they suffered from the causes to which he was adverting. He hoped, then, that their Lordships would bear with him while he endeavoured to establish three propositions—first, the amount of injury now inflicted; second, its preventibility; and thirdly, the inadequacy of the present law to afford a remedy. What the term "noxious vapours" might be held to comprise he could not exactly define. Still less could he say how far the Committee for the appointment of which he asked might deem it right to carry their inquiry. He might, however, observe that under the head "noxious vapours" three distinct classes might be ranged. There was that class which was simply 1455 offensive without being injurious to health or vegetation. He did not know whether it was strictly correct to term this class "noxious," but certainly they could be indicted as nuisances at common law. There was another, arising from the manufactures connected with the decomposition of animal and vegetable substances, which was not only exceedingly offensive, but highly detrimental to health and unfavourable to life, yet produced no injurious effects on the vegetable kingdom. There was a third class, partaking chiefly, he believed, of a mineral character and perfectly inoffensive, unless it prevailed in very great excess, so far as injury to animal life or health was concerned, but absolutely destructive of vegetable existence. Without wearying their Lordships with a numerous catalogue of instances in illustration of his argument, he might refer to a manufacture of great and increasing importance—he alluded to the manufacture of alkalies. That manufacture was carried on extensively in a neighbourhood with which he was well acquainted—St. Helens—as well as in Newcastle-on-Tyne, and also, more or less, in Glasgow and other districts. It was most important, considering the extent to which alkali entered into various manufactures, and the large export as well as the home trade. It was impossible to ascertain the amount of the produce of alkali works retained for home consumption, because there was no excise, and therefore no means of obtaining correct information; but he held in his hand a report of the amount exported from this country from 1840 to 1860 of soda and pot and pearl ashes, from which he found, that while in 1840 the extent to which the latter was exported was only 237 cwt., the value being £594; in 1854 the export reached 22,596 cwt., the value being £32,611. But that was a very minor branch of the manufacture. The export of soda amounted in 1840 to 75,704 cwt., or to the value of £44,575, while in the year 1860 the quantity exported was 2,049,582 cwt., the value nearly reaching a million sterling. That enumeration related simply to soda and pearl ashes, and left out of account the important classes of soaps and bleached goods, into which they entered largely, as well as the amount manufactured for home consumption. When their Lordships bore in mind those facts, as well as the circumstance that the articles in question entered into the manufacture of paper, glass, and a hundred other substances, as well as the 1456 circumstance that one manufactory, and that by no means on the largest scale, turned out in 1846 about 50 tons of soda a week, and in the present year nearly 100 tons a week, they would have some idea of the extent of the manufacture to which he was adverting. He believed he should be confirmed by his noble Friend near him (Lord Ravensworth) when he stated that in the town of Newcastle-on-Tyne one of these great manufacturers employed 1,000 persons, and covered, under one roof, 16 acres of land. He fairly admitted that this statement of the fact of the great extent of these trades was, indeed, capable of cutting both ways. In the first place, it showed the immense amount of injury that might be inflicted from the want of proper precautions, but it must also impress their Lordships with the degree of caution with which it was necessary to approach any legislation on the subject of a trade so important to the manufacturing interest of this country. If at any time it was important that no undue interference should take place, it would be so at a moment when a great portion of our manufacturers in the north were suffering under the deepest depression, and when the diminution of manufacturing employment would be a more than ordinary calamity. He was the last person who would desire to interfere with the increase of our manufacturing prosperity, if only for the reason that half of his property was situated in the manufacturing districts, and its prosperity or deterioration depended on the prosperity or depression of the manufacturing interest. Therefore they would not expect any proposition to proceed from him likely to offer the slightest impediment to the great manufactures of the country. Those of their Lordships who had travelled by the London and North Western Railway might recollect having seen between Warrington and Newton one of the most beautiful specimens of brickwork to be seen in this or any other country. It was a tower or column 131 yards in height, and one of the most beautiful pieces of brickwork possible to be conceived. This tower was erected by Mr. Muspratt, the celebrated chemist, to meet the objection raised in the neighbourhood on the score of the great injury caused by the exhalations from his works. But this attempt to avoid the cause of complaint, though made in entire good faith, had only the effect of carrying the vapour a little further off, inflicting thereby injury on more distant proprietors, 1457 and increasing the difficulty of tracing it home to its source. Perhaps he might take the opportunity of mentioning shortly what was the process of this manufacture. The process of the manufacture of soda was carried on by the decomposition of common salt by means of sulphuric acid. In most of the manufactories, the manufacture of the acid was also carried on in other parts of the same building, for the sake of convenience. The sulphuric acid was produced by the combination of nitre and sulphur, and these together gave forth most objectionable and injurious vapours. But, fortunately, it was to the interest of the manufacturers of sulphuric acid to condense the whole of these vapours, in order to in crease the amount and profit of the manufacture; and therefore in most of these works, where the manufacture of sulphuric acid was carried on, no inconvenience or injury was sustained by the neighbourhood. But, unfortunately, a similar condensation was not, or was not so well understood to be, to the interest of the manufacturers with respect to the gasses evolved in the manufacture of soda—that was from the action of the sulphuric acid upon the salt, which gave out a large amount of muriatic acid gas, most injurious to vegetation. These works of Mr. Muspratt were first begun after the year 1831 or 1832, and for some years there were great complaints among the neighbouring tenants and farmers of the injury done to their crops, fences, and trees. From time to time allowances were made, and the complaints were silenced, until at last the evil became intolerable, particularly to the large proprietors in the neighbourhood; and in 1846 the late Mr. Legh, proprietor of a large portion of land in the neighbourhood, and a relative of the present Member for South Lancashire, obtained a considerable amount in compensation from Mr. Muspratt. The Rev. J. Hornby, the rector of Winwick, also obtained compensation to the amount of £1,300 at one time for the destruction of his timber and crops. He (the Earl of Derby) had himself seen a thriving oak plantation which had been entirely destroyed by the gas proceeding from these works. These actions and damages did not stop the manufacture, which went on increasing, until at last Mr. Legh, in 1851, having had the whole of the timber of his estate either killed or so damaged that he was obliged at a great loss to cut it down, brought another action, claiming damages to the amount of £17,000; but, before 1458 the action, Mr. Muspratt compromised the matter by the payment of £2,000 and the costs, and by a promise, which was punctually performed, to pull down and destroy the whole of his works. It might appear that in this case the remedy was perfectly successful; but in the mean time there had sprung tip in the neighbourhood of St. Helens, two or three miles from Newton, and, according to the prevailing average of the wind, considerably to the windward of the latter place, a very considerable number of other works, against the owners of which the neighbouring proprietors were compelled to bring actions. In 1839 Sir John Gerard recovered £1,300 damages; in 1846, £2,000; and in 1852 he commenced an action for £4,000, which was suspended through his illness and death. In the mean time various other manufactures sprang up, and it was unnecessary to state that the increase of the number of manufactures very materially increased the difficulty of tracing home the injury inflicted upon any particular landed proprietor to the proper source; but it was a remarkable fact, that when Mr. Muspratt's works were destroyed, the improvement in the vegetation, hedges, and young trees was instantaneous. But since the great increase of works in St. Helen's the country was again showing traces, though not to so serious an extent, of the injury it sustained during the period when Mr. Muspratt's works were in operation. But what was the state of the country in consequence of the manufactures at St. Helen's might be conceived from the fact, that in the direction in which the wind ordinarily blew, for three or four miles hardly a living tree was to be seen, though in his memory it used to be thickly covered with hedges and timber—not of the first quality, perhaps—and with very extensive young plantations. Now he ventured to say, that within a radius of two or three miles from St. Helens there was hardly a standing tree at this moment; and if one was to be seen as a person travelled by the railway, it was standing leafless and branchless, giving to the whole country an air of desolation and destitution not to be seen in any other part of the kingdom, except in a neighbourhood with which the President of the Council was acquainted, known by the name of "the black country," in which vegetation certainly did not thrive. He was prepared to show not only that the trees and the country were destroyed, but that, contrary to the ordinary rule, there had been a remarkable depreciation in the 1459 value of the property around in consequence of the establishment of these works. In a distance of two or three miles from St. Helens there had been a deterioration in the value of the landed property to the extent of £200,000 within the last few years. The rent of the land, instead of rising, as it generally did, in proportion to the increase of neighbouring towns, was falling rapidly, and to some distance from these works the hedges were destroyed, as if blasted by fire. It was rather curious that the effect on growing crops was not so great as on timber and hedges, and he could only account for this fact by supposing that it arose from the timber and hedges being exposed continuously and year after year to the action of these noxious vapours, while the crops were only exposed to them for three or four months, and in some directions they almost escaped injury, probably in consequence of the prevailing direction of the wind. It appeared, however, that in one instance the crop had been destroyed in one night to the extent of a third, and it was stated that these vapours caused cows to slip their calves, and that sheep would not thrive on grass subject to the constant action of the vapours. In this district there had formerly existed a great number of orchards, on the produce of which many of the peasantry chiefly relied for the payment of their rents; the orchards were now destroyed, and the poor tenantry and cottagers suffered great injury from the loss of the fruit. The cases of these persons deserved consideration, for they were not like their wealthy neighbours; they could not afford litigation, and had no chance of enforcing damages against a wealthy manufacturer for the destruction of their produce. He had heard of the case of a person in moderate circumstances who had purchased a freehold in the north of England, and invested the whole of his capital in the establishment of a nursery in what was then a most favourable situation. A building was subsequently erected in which one of these noxious manufactures was carried on, and he could see a white vapour, perfectly distinguishable, steadily proceeding in a horizontal direction, going further or less far according to the state of the atmosphere, and lighting on the spot where he had planted his nursery. That man was literally driven by those vapours from the spot in which he had embarked his capital, and nothing would tempt him to remain longer 1460 in a place in which so large a portion of his means had been destroyed. Such was the state of things near St. Helens. His (the Earl of Derby's) own house was about six miles distant from St. Helens, and at that distance he could not trace the damage to the manufactures, and still less to any particular manufacture; but, certainly, on that side there had been of late a very considerable decay in the older timber, and, to a certain extent, he attributed it to the effect of this poisonous vapour. He had been told by persons who had crossed his park, especially very early in the morning, that they became sensible of a very pungent vapour—though, as he had said, this was four or five miles from the place where these manufactures were carried on—which made their eves smart, and which left an exceedingly acrid and unpleasant taste upon the lips. He had mentioned those instances merely as a sample of what might be found in other districts of the country, and what he had stated with regard to his own neighbourhood was far from the whole of the case. Now, he would not have thought those circumstances sufficient to invite their Lordships to appoint a Committee, still less to legislate, were it not that he was prepared to show that, with regard to most of these manufactures, and especially with regard to alkali, there was a most perfect and complete remedy—a remedy admitted by the manufacturers themselves. This particular muriatic acid gas had such an affinity for water that a certain quantity of water would absorb 480 times its amount of gas; and, consequently, as the gas passed from the furnace into the chimney, the simplest and most effective of all remedies was to meet it with a constant supply of water, and thus absorb it. The most approved method now was to pack the chimneys with coke made very small, through which the vapour ascended, and down which the water fell, absorbing the vapour and completely condensing it. He was bound to say, to the credit of many of the manufacturers, that they carefully attended to this matter, and that so far as their works were concerned, very little injury was done, in consequence of the complete condensation of the gas. He was sorry to say, with respect to others, that they did not take the same precautions, and they trusted for impunity to the difficulty of bringing an action, and of tracing home to the proper parties the injury which was sustained. Unfortunately, too, in avoiding Scylla, some had fallen into Charybdis; 1461 because, instead of turning the water which came down the chimneys to some useful purpose, it was allowed to make its way to some neighbouring brook, which it as effectually poisoned as the gas poisoned the air. But he had no doubt that this water might be, and indeed had been, by very simple chemical means, converted into a source of absolute profit. There were other manufactures, however, such as copper-smelting works, which produced a gas for which it was more difficult to find a remedy. But should their Lordships appoint a Committee, he held himself bound to show, not only the extent of the mischief, but also, by scientific evidence, that all or a considerable portion of it was easily preventive; and as the maxim held good, Sic utere tuo ut alterum non lœdas, there would be nothing unfair in calling upon the manufacturers to abate the mischief. The law as it present stood did not afford a sufficient remedy. For the purposes of prevention the English law was absolutely silent, except with regard to one very partial provision. In 1848, and again in 1858, under the Public Health Act, a certain discretionary power was given to prevent the creation of nuisances of the description to which he alluded. But there were only two remedies which were open—one to individuals, and the other to the public; the one by an action for damages, the other by an indictment for nuisance at common law. He was not going to ask their Lordships to imitate the principles or practice of the French law, the provisions of which were very stringent in such cases; but he held in his hand a report which was presented to both Houses of Parliament in 1855, and which was signed by Dr. Waller Lewis, medical officer to the General Post Office, on the laws of France upon the subject. He found by the law of France that those noxious occupations, 212 in number, were divided into three separate classes, 67 being in the first class, 78 in the second, and 67 in the third; and he would show with regard to the most noxious class the precautions with which French legislation had surrounded it—The establishments of the first class are those that must be kept at a distance from private habitations; but it is not necessary that they be prohibited from the outskirts of a town. To the authorities belongs the duty of examining if the isolation is sufficient, having regard to the importance of the works, to the nature and configuration of the soil, and to the importance of the surrounding dwellings. The demand for authority (i. e. for permission to establish) must be directed to the 1462 Prefect of the Department, and to the prefect of police for the jurisdiction of the Prefecture of the Seine. The demand must be accompanied by two plans, one indicating the connections of the proposed works with the neighbouring lands and habitations, the other showing its internal arrangements. The demand for authority is placarded in all the communes within a radius of five kilometres (three miles) and must remain exposed during one entire month. Besides this, the Mayor of the commune where the works are to be erected must hold an inquiry (une enquête) de commodo et incommodo among the nearest neighbours. This inquiry, drawn up by the mayors, consists of evidence gathered by themselves personally, or communicated by those interested in the matter; it constitutes one of the most important formalities preceding the authorization. All the documents are transmitted to the Prefect, who submits them to the Council of Health, and afterwards to the Council of Prefecture, if there is any opposition. When these various formalities have been gone through, the Prefect sends the whole of the documents to the Minister of Commerce, with his recommendations, whatever they may be; when, after submitting the proposal to the advice of the Council of State, the Minister proposes to the chief of the Government an order of refusal or authorization, which the Prefect is charged with executing.The formalities with respect to the other classes were precisely similar, except that the documents were not submitted to the Minister of Commerce or the Minister of State; but occupations of the second class might be authorized by the prefect, and those of the third class by the sub-prefect. He was not going to ask their Lordships to adopt such stringent regulations, but he would give a few examples of the difficulty of obtaining redress under our laws. In the year 1839 Sir John Gerard recovered £1,000 from Mr. Crossfield, but at an expense of £500 above that sum. In 1846 Sir John brought actions for £6,000; he recovered £2,000, but at an expense of £900. In 1849 he received £450 on threat of proceedings. In 1852 he brought an action for more than £4,000, and went to considerable expense; but that action was never tried, owing to his death. It might be asked why his brother, Sir R. Gerard, did not go on with the action? For this reason—that in the mean time the manufacturers had so increased in numbers that it was very difficult to trace the injury to any particular manufacturer, and therefore a person aggrieved would have no chance of recovering damages. In an action for damages he believed it was necessary to prove, in the first place, not only the amount and extent of the injury sustained, but also by what specific manufacturer the injury was caused. And although, in some few cases, a large proprie- 1463 tor might have succeeded at a very great expense in obtaining large damages, yet in no case, except that of Mr. Muspratt, had they succeeded in putting down the nuisance. Action after action was brought and the damages were paid, the business being so profitable as to render it worth while to the manufacturer to run all risks. He could mention the case of a small farmer near St. Helens. The injury he suffered was so notorious that the proprietor voluntarily paid him an allowance of £40 or £50 a year for the injury he was doing. The manufacturer disposed of his works, and the farmer went to his successor to ask him to continue the allowance. He refused, saying, "Go to so and so. His works are within fifty yards of mine, and it is he who does you the injury. At any rate, you must prove that it is done by my works, and until you do you will not get any compensation from me. "It might be said that an application might be made to the Court of Chancery for an injunction to restrain the nuisance. But it was probable the remedy might be worse than the disease, for the first thing the Court of Chancery would do would be to direct an issue to be tried at law to ascertain whether this was a recurring and continuous damage, and the injured party would find himself driven to all the expense and annoyance of an action at law with a doubtful result. He believed that such an injunction might be applied for. He gathered from an observation made by his noble and learned Friend behind him (Lord Chelmsford) that such an injunction could not be applied for, and certainly would not be granted. There remained another remedy—the remedy by indictment. But in order to sustain an indictment it was necessary to prove not only an amount of injury suffered by a particular individual, but also that it was a general injury, so affecting the community as to amount to a common nuisance. It was also necessary to show that the nuisance was continuous, and not a casual and accidental nuisance, occurring at particular times. Then there was the same difficulty, in proceeding by indictment, in bringing home a nuisance to a particular individual, when there were many works of a similar character in the same neighbourhood. In addition to this difficulty, a person who proceeded by indictment had no chance of receiving any compensation, because the indictment was a criminal proceeding. If he gained his action, indeed, he might receive a certain 1464 amount of costs, but an amount quite insufficient to cover the expense to which he had been put. As to the person who was found guilty of the nuisance, he was only bound over on his recognizances to appear before the Court of Queen's Bench when called upon, to submit to the penalty imposed by the Court, which was always lenient, and often merely nominal. It might be said that there was nothing so simple as an indictment. He recollected a case that occurred four years ago, "The Queen v. Spence," where the works were in the neighbourhood of Manchester. That was an action for nuisance arising out of the manufacture of ammonia and alum. In this case there were four Queen's counsel for the plaintiff, and four for the defendant. The costs of the defendant amounted to £4,000, and the plaintiff's costs, for some reason he could not explain, to £2,000. This he knew from the circumstance that he, as a landlord, was one of the contributors, at the instance of his tenants, who were injured. The case was tried at Liverpool, and occupied three days. There were eight learned gentlemen on each side; not less than forty-eight witnesses were examined, and the total expense, as he had said, was £6,000. If the nuisance had been done away, that money would have been well spent; but the nuisance was not got rid off. The defendant was immediately advised to apply for a new trial, involving fresh expense, while the nuisance was going on. Affidavits were filed, but fortunately, before the application was made, it was discovered that the defendant was prohibited by his lease from putting up any buildings of the character which he had erected. An application was made to the Court of Chancery, and an injunction was obtained on the ground of a violation of his lease. He would now ask their Lordships whether he had not substantiated his statement, that a man of moderate fortune and means was without a remedy in such cases. Legislation in this direction had, no doubt, been attempted, but it was only partial in its operation, and not always intrusted to the best hands. The Public Health Act gave to local Boards of Health the power of preventing, for the future, the erection of these noxious and injurious works; but this provision was confined to those districts where local Boards of Health had been established. Moreover, it unfortunately happened frequently that the persons of the greatest influence at these local boards were those who were 1465 most prominent in producing the nuisance. No great aid could, therefore, be expected at their hands. The Nuisance Removal Act also made some provision in this direction. If a manufacturer caused an offensive effluvium, which was certified by the medical officer to be injurious to health, and a nuisance, and if the best practicable means had not been used to remove it, the manufacturer was liable to a penalty of £5 a day, which might be increased to a maximum of £200, during the continuance of the nuisance. That appeared an easy remedy; but, unfortunately, the next section gave the defendant power to transfer the case to the Superior Courts, so that the plaintiff, who came forward in the belief that he had a cheap and summary remedy, found himself, in this case also, involved in an expensive action at law. Then the Act itself was not to be applicable except in a city, town, or populous district. He believed that there had not been as yet any legal definition by the Courts of the words "a populous district," so that in many cases the preliminary question would arise whether the Act of Parliament was applicable to that district. There was, therefore, another element of difficulty and doubt. He did not ask their Lordships to legislate on his mere statement. He was prepared to substantiate all that he had said by indisputable evidence, and to prove before a Committee the injury done, and the inadequacy of the law as tested by experienced practitioners in this department. He did not ask their Lordships now to legislate, but to say he had laid before them sufficient grounds for a Parliamentary inquiry. He wished carefully to avoid any legislation which should unduly hamper any of the manufacturing interests of the country, but to ascertain whether legislative measures could be introduced on this subject not only without injury, but with profit to our manufactures. If Parliament could so legislate, it would confer a signal benefit on a large portion of Her Majesty's subjects, who were now suffering grevious injury from the nuisances which he had pointed out.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
said, he was sure that their Lordships would not be inclined to negative a Motion for an inquiry such as that which his noble Friend (the Earl of Derby) wished to see undertaken. In the clear speech of his noble Friend there was a case made for that inquiry. At the same time, he must observe that the notice of his noble Friend had caused some alarm 1466 in the minds of persons engaged in what might be described as the staple trades of the country; but he was sure that the noble Earl would not be a party to imposing any unjust restrictions on any branch of our manufactures. His noble Friend wished to inquire into the extent of the evil, in order to find a remedy; and he was convinced that the composition of the Committee would be such as to inspire confidence in the minds of their Lordships and the country as to the manner in which its proceedings would be conducted.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
said, that he would not ask their Lordships to name the Committee until Monday next. In the mean time, he should confer with his noble Friend (Earl Granville) as to its constitution, and, to the utmost extent in his power, give effect to the wishes of such noble Lords as felt an interest in the subject, and might desire to serve on the Committee. He need scarcely observe that the subject of the proposed inquiry had nothing to do with party. His wish was to have the Committee composed of noble Lords who felt an interest in the question.
§ LORD RAVENSWORTH
said, that he would have opposed any Motion which contemplated any undue interference with the manufacturing interests. This, he knew, contemplated no such interference; and he he could state from his own knowledge that the facts stated by his noble Friend were correct. He believed that great good would result from legislation on this question without injuring the manufacturing interests The legislation which had already taken place on this subject, such as that for the consumption of smoke in the metropolis, and purifying the water in different districts, had proved beneficial; and there was no reason why the same good result should not follow from legislation in reference to manufactures such as those the noble Earl described, which were not confined to Lancashire, but were to be found in great numbers about Newcastle and North Shields. He had that day presented a petition from his own neighbourhood, near the metropolis, which might now be called a populous one, complaining of the grievance occasioned by the establishment of a brick-field in so thickly-populated a district. This subject had been a most fertile source of litigation. In one instance he knew of a professional man who had built a new house, and close by him a brick-field was opened, out of which it was expected that no less than a million 1467 of bricks would be taken and burnt. Close by was a street of very good houses. Was it reasonable or just that these offensive vapours should be allowed to invade whole streets of dwelling-houses? He understood there was no effectual remedy for this grievance; and he hoped the noble Earl would not object to the addition of the words "and offensive" after the word "noxious" in the Motion. The noble Earl had alluded to the discharge of arsenic Ted refuse into a certain stream—he (Lord Ravensworth) wished to call attention to the cases of arsenical poisonings which had occurred so frequently, not only from the preparation of the dresses of females, but from paper-hangings. A more painful illustration of the necessity of such an inquiry as the present could not well be afforded than the case which appeared in The Times of the 23rd of April, where it appeared that three children died one after another in the same house, their deaths being attributed to diphtheria, and it was not till the fourth child died that it was discovered they had been in the habit of licking the paper of their room, which contained an arsenical preparation. These were most serious circumstances, affecting the health of the community at large. He most heartily concurred in the Motion, and believed that the best effects would result from the inquiry.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
said, that with respect to the proposed addition of the words "and offensive," he was quite in the hands of the House; and there was no objection to their insertion, if their Lordships thought it better. For himself, he should have thought the word "noxious" to be sufficient.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
thought that perhaps the extension of the reference might give rise to some difficulty.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Select Committee appointed:—
§ And on Monday next the Lords following were named of the Committee:—
|D. Richmond||L. Wrottesley|
|E. Derby||L. Stanley of Alderley|
|E. Shaftesbury||L. Monteagle of Brandon|
|E. De La Warr||L. Belper|
|E. Grey||L. Talbot de Malahide|
|L. Wodehouse||L. Chelmsford|
|L. Ravensworth||L. Egerton|
§ House adjourned at a quarter before Seven o'clock, to Monday next, half-past Eleven o'clock.