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Metropolitan Sewerage

Volume 117: debated on Monday 23 June 1851

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, pursuant to notice, rose to ask Viscount Ebrington why the sewerage works in St. James's, Westminster, promised to be executed last year, have not been, up to the present time, executed or commenced; and whether the sum of about 120,000l., proposed to be levied by a rate of 6d. in the pound, on the northern side of the Thames, is intended to cover existing liabilities, or to execute new works; and, if partly for the former purpose, how much of that sum is proposed to be so appropriated; and whether it is intended, as has been reported, that the parties residing in the streets or localities in St. James's, hitherto left without any sewerage, shall be subject to a special rate in addition to the rate of 6d. in the pound now in course of collection?

, before answering the question, begged to state, that the legal difficulties having all been overcome, the Minutes of the Board of Commissioners had all been regularly entered up of all the courts to the end of last month, and those of this month were in an advanced state of preparation. With re- gard to the works ordered in the parish of St. James's, the reason why they had not been executed was precisely the same which had prevented the execution of many other important works fully planned and quite ready for execution, namely, the impossibility of procuring the necessary funds on loan in consequence of the defective wording of the Sewers Act. It had been the earnest desire of the Commissioners to execute all these works with as little pressure on the ratepayers as possible, by carrying out the intentions of Parliament; but they had been unable to borrow more than 10,000l., and therefore some of the works which had been planned, and which were ready for carrying out, were obliged to be postponed. He had some difficulty in understanding what his hon. and gallant Friend meant by his question about the sum of 120,000l.; because different rates had been laid at different times and in different places on the north side. The large sum of money levied in the different districts was intended to be applied—as might be supposed from the report of the Secretary to the Commission lately laid before Parliament, which showed a large increase of liabilities incurred before the rates alluded to had been collected—partly to the discharge of those liabilities, and partly to the execution of new works. In the two divisions of Westminster, various works had been executed, and were ready planned, besides the Victoria sewer and its intended extension, of which he held a list in his hand—such as the Tothill and Broadway sewer, &c., with which he would not trouble the House. With regard to the last question, he must explain that it had been long the practice of the former Commissioners to levy, in addition to the regular district rate, from each person who made an entrance into a sewer for the drainage of his house, a contribution in the shape of a frontage-charge, varying from a few shillings to more than a pound per foot frontage. These frontage charges were now put an end to by the present Act, and it seemed to the Commissioners only fair that persons who had never had any sewers, and therefore never paid any contributions, should, in the shape of a special rate, pay in lieu a portion of the expense of constructing sewers for the more especial drainage of their houses. It was to be presumed that all the persons who at present drained into sewers, however defective, had not only paid sewers rate, but also frontage contributions; when new drains, therefore, were substituted for old ones, the Commissioners' practice was to make them at the expense of the district, when altogether new drains were put into an undrained place.

wished to know whether, in addition to the great amount of rate already levied, it was intended to impose any further rates?

replied, that it was not intended that the great expense of the works should be borne by the landlords or inhabitants of houses within the year, but that it should be spread over a number of years. There was a Bill on the subject which was intended to be brought in immediately, when hon. Members would see what was intended by its provisions.