said, he wished to ask the First Commissioner of Works, Whether the effect of the Thames Navigation Bill, as amended, will not be to throw upon the same body of Ratepayers who already bear the expense of pumping the sewage of London into the Thames, the further expense of dredging it out; and, whether he will state the reasons, if any, why he does not call upon the Metropolitan Board of Works to enforce the carrying out of the Contract made between the said Board and the Metropolis Sewage and Essex Reclamation Company, for the diversion from the Thames of the sewage of the northern area of the Metropolis, which contract was confirmed by the Act 28 Vic. c. 121, intituled "The Metropolis Sewage and Essex Reclamation Act, 1865?"
replied, that the Bill had not yet been sanctioned, but a Bill had passed through a Committee of that House, and had received the assent of a Committee of the House of Lords, providing that if the Thames navigation was obstructed by reason of any solid deposits from the flow of sewage into the Thames, those obstructions should be removed by the Metropolitan Board at the expense of the ratepayers. If the Metropolitan Board should find it more convenient to prevent solid matter going into the river, instead of removing it, they would be at liberty to do so. With regard to the second Question, he might state that a company was established some few years ago for applying the sewage on the northern side of the Thames for the purpose of irrigation; but the company had not prospered, and had done little or nothing beyond, receiving a great deal of money from the public. In such a state of things no doubt efforts would be made by those interested in the company to transfer the loss from the shareholders to the ratepayers, and it was the duty of that House to take care that the company should be made to bear its own loss. The Metropolitan Board was taking all the steps it could to deal with the subject, and he had no doubt its members would watch over the interests of the public, and compel the company to fulfil its obligations. This was a question which could not be dealt with superficially, because it was generally understood that no town could deal with its sewage unless it had power to take land for the purposes of irrigation. The question, so far as regarded the metropolis, was an enormous one, and no doubt it would have to be dealt with by the local authorities.