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Metropolitan Water Supply—The Wandle Water Company

Volume 117: debated on Monday 23 June 1851

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The Standing Orders Committee having reported that in the case of the Metropolitan Water Supply (Control of by Representative Body) Bill, the Standing Orders ought not to be dispensed with,

said, he wished to call the attention of the Government to an advertisement which had that morning appeared in the Times newspaper, and he also wished to put a question to the right hon. Secretary for the Home Department as to the Water Supply to the Metropolis. The advertisement to which he alluded was that of a company called the Wandle Water and Sewerage Company, and was in these terms:—

"The Company is formed for the supply of the metropolitan districts south of the Thames at constant and high service. Capital, 300,000l., in 30,000 shares of 10l. each. Deposit, 12s. 6d. per share, of which 7s. will he returned in the event of an Act not being obtained in the present Session of Parliament."
The Trustee was Joseph Somes, Esq., of Blackwall; and the Chairman, John Macgregor Esq., M.P.; and the advertisement went on to state—
"The Bill for the incorporation of this company has been read a second time, and referred to a Select Committee of the House of Commons."
But the part of the advertisement on which he wished to ask the right hon. Baronet a question, ran as follows:—
"It is satisfactory to announce that there will be no opposition on the part of the Government to the passing of the Bill, as its sole object is to procure an available constant supply of pure water in bulk to parochial, public, or other bodies, and for distribution to the public in places where there is no supply."
It was signed "William Holloway, Secretary." Having brought this advertisement under the notice of the right hon. Gentleman, he would observe that one of two things must have happened. Either the Government must have pursued an unusual and improper course, if they had given any assurance of the kind referred to in the advertisement; because this Bill having been referred to a Select Committee, they were to give the opinion which was to guide the conduct of the House in respect of the measure; if the Government had not given that assurance, as stated in the advertisement, it was clear that a gross fraud and imposition was practised upon the public to induce them to take shares in this company. He begged leave, therefore, to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the Government had given any assurance in the terms of the announcement he had just read.

replied that he had only a few minutes before seen the advertisement, which had been pointed out to him by an hon. Friend; and his answer was, that that advertisement was totally unauthorised by the Government, and that no communication had taken place between the Government and the company, which could justify that announcement with respect to that Bill, if it should come before the House.