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supply throughout the year, the later figures referred to a possible maximum consumption at the height of an exceptional season. The discrepancy is a matter of no practical importance whatever ; it is only dragged in as a peg on which to hang a charge of bad faith. With the necessary explanations I have given, the reader can judge how much there is in it.

After some further reference to the Staines scheme, Mr. Lefevre continues (p. 984):

Meanwhile disaster after disaster has accumulated on the people in the East of London as the result of the present system, under which the eight companies have been allowed to parcel out London and its suburbs among them, quite regardless of whether all of them can adequately perform their obligations of providing water.

I have previously dealt with the present system and the * parcelling out. We shall now see what the disasters were really the result of, and who was regardless of the obligations of providing water.'

The first disaster was the frost in February 1895. It was an unspeakable inconvenience and nuisance, which excited just indignation among consumers, who suffered not only from frozen service pipes, for which their landlords were responsible, but from frozen mains for which the companies were responsible. But the calamity was not confined to East London, or to London at all; it was universal. Inverness joined hands with Southampton in a common misfortune, which affected the whole country that lies between them. Municipal pipes were no more respected than those belonging to private monopolies, and in their case the unfortunate consumers had not only to put up with the inconvenience and pay their rates all the same, but they had to foot the bill for damages in addition. That being so, it is ridiculous to call the frost an East London disaster due to the present system,' &c.

The next disaster was the breakdown in the summer of 1895. Of this Mr. Lefevre says (p. 985):

With the full statistics we now have of the water pumped into their mains before, during, and after this period of deficiency, it is absolutely certain that it was caused, not by drought and want of water, but by the fact that there was leakage in the mains and pipes of the company, owing to the fractures of the previous winter.

He does not give the statistics, and I will therefore supply the omission. The daily quantity pumped in January before the frost occurred was 45 million gallons ; during the frost and the subsequent period of shattered mains it ranged between 59 and 51 millions, showing a great increase; during the two months of scarcity it was 42 and 401 millions; and in the autumn, when the constant supply was resumed, it was as follows: September 463, October 457, November 43, December 43, showing a complete return to the normal, although no mains had been repaired since the previou May. In 1897 the average consumption was only 41 million gallons,

or 4 million less than before the frost occurred, although from 20,000 to 30,000 houses had been added to the district. Such are the facts which Mr. Lefevre omits. They are an absolute refutation of the shattered main theory, and a proof that all the pipes must have been repaired before the scarcity began, for none have been repaired since. Mr. Lefevre also omits to mention that the Local Government Board held an inquiry into the whole occurrence in the autumn of 1895, at the instance of the Hackney Vestry. It was conducted by inspectors who were Mr. Lefevre's own officials a few months before. The Vestry and the County Council were both represented by eminent counsel, and they brought forward all the evidence they could. The Inspectors' Report states (p. 8):

This theory of Mr. Binnie's, that the loss of water during the drought was due to shattered mains, was not, in our opinion, proved at the inquiry, nor supported by other witnesses called in behalf of the vestries.

Further, after reviewing the facts, the Report proceeds: “These facts prove that the scarcity in July and August was not to be accounted for in the manner suggested by Mr. Binnie.' The real causes were stated by the inspectors as follows (Report, p. 16):

(a) Exceptional waste owing (1) to non repair of fractures in consumers' pipes, and (2) to excessive garden watering.

(6) Decrease in the volume of the Lea due to the unprecedented drought.

(c) Means of storage possessed by the company inadequate to enable them to meet the combined waste and deficiency noted under headings (a) and (b).

The inadequate storage was due to the rejection of a Bill brought forward in 1893 for constructing the additional reservoirs, which were included in the company's resources, as projected works, by the Balfour Commission (Report, Sections 88 and 94). Had the Bill passed, part of the storage would have been ready by 1895 and the rest by 1896 ; and, as the event proved, a breakdown would have been avoided in both years. But it was opposed by the County Council on the ground that there was no urgency. According to Hansard, Mr. James Stuart, in moving the rejection of the Bill on the 17th of March 1893, said:

I do so on behalf of colleagues, many of whom represent districts affected by this Bill, and also on behalf of the London County Council. . . . I oppose

the Pill because of its substance and essence ... there is no case for that urgency which alone can be a reason for pressing the Bill through the House of Commons immediately before the Royal Commission reports upon the whole question.

Mr. Benn also opposed the Bill on behalf of the County Council, and it was rejected by 176 votes to 152, in spite of the emphatic warning of the Chairman of Ways and Means.

In 1894 it was reintroduced, and although the Balfour Commission had then reported, Mr. Stuart moved its rejection on the ground that it was 'unnecessary and not urgent’ and that it 'tended to prejudge the question of the future water supply of London. Mr. Shaw Lefevre, who was then a member of the Government, also opposed the Bill, and said that he could not believe 'a delay of one year would make any great difference.' We know now the value of these utterances. The Bill passed--by one vote—but, so far from not being urgent, it was already a year too late. Mr. Lefevre says (p. 988) that if the County Council had come into possession in 1895 there would have been no breakdown, as 'within a few weeks' they would have formed connections between the mains of the different companies. Why should they have gone to the heavy expense of doing so when, by their own contention, East London was perfectly safe? Besides, the transfer would not have taken place till the end

of the year.

There remains the breakdown of 1898. As the facts are so recent, and judicial proceedings appear to be still pending, I will deal briefly with it. Mr. Lefevre admits the drought, but accuses the company of almost criminal neglect'in not making connections they now have beforehand. Had they done so, he says (p. 985), 'there would have been no deficiency.' But as one of those connections was made in the middle of September, and the other early in October, and yet the constant supply could not be resumed until the middle of December, he is clearly wrong. The breakdown would have been mitigated, but not prevented. But why did not they make the connections ? The alleged reasons, of which the reader must judge, are that the Grand Junction had nothing to spare in the summer, and that the Southwark and Vauxhall would have had nothing if their Bill, which only became law at the end of July, had not passed. The County Council, with its usual regard for the consumers, tried to prevent the said Bill from passing, as it did the East London Bill, enabling them to make any connections. Reproaches for not making connections come oddly from that quarter. Another point urged by Mr. Lefevre is that, in spite of the deficiency, the company continue to levy full rates. So do the numerous municipalities whose own supply has broken down this year; and so would the County Council in like case. All water authorities are equally protected against unusual drought, frost, and accident' by the Waterworks Clauses Act of 1847, which the County Council proposes to incorporate in its own Acts.

A propos of this year's breakdown and the failure of the River Lea, Mr. Lefevre has one more slap at the East London Company, whose ‘confident statements’ to the Balfour Commission have been

conclusively disproved” (p. 986). Their engineer, he says, 'stated in the most positive terms that under no possible set of circumstances would the Lea ever fall short of 20 million gallons per diem.' These 'confident' and 'most positive' terms are as follows : ‘I think I might count on 20 million gallons a day' (Q. 647), on the ground, as subsequently explained, that the flow had never been known to be less. Mr. Lefevre, pursuing the same subject, says that ‘no increase


of reservoirs would have made any substantial difference' this year, because there was not enough surplus water to fill them between September 1897 and July 1898. But there was plenty to fill them before. The surplus during the first three months of 1897 alone amounted to at least 25,000 million gallons, or enough to last for a continuous drought of three and a half years, had it been stored, and the whole would have been available from last June onwards.

Then we come back to the Staines scheme, to which Mr. Lefevre urges various objections, all on the strength of the calculations made by the County Council's engineer, who, with all respect, can hardly be called an unbiassed witness. He

says that the scheme is inadequate because it does not allow for a sufficient flow at Teddington weir (p. 987), and this objection is enforced by reference to the experience of last autumn, when the river fell to a dangerously low point;' but if last autumn's experience proves anything about the Thames, it is that the low state of the river was not in the least dangerous, and that the arbitrary minimum of 200 million gallons at Teddington is a needlessly high estimate. Nothing happened when it fell to less than 100 millions. Nor was anything likely to happen, for 100 millions a day is only 50 millions at each tide, and on an ordinary ebb the body of tidal water is 1,480 millions at Putney and 4,000 millions at London Bridge. How can 50 millions make much difference either way ? Mr. Lefevre says it is required to drive the sewage' out to sea, which would otherwise 'oscillate to and fro in the tideway to the detriment of the health and other interests of London' (p. 987). How can it drive the sewage out to sea ? And what is this sewage? It is County Council sewage, which we have always been told had been abolished. If there is an achievement on which the County Council particularly prides itself, it is the purification of the river by the perfect disposal of this same sewage. Now we are told that it is so far from disposed of as to make the river dangerous to health unless driven out by-what ? Well, Sir A. Binnie has always insisted that the filtered water of the companies is ‘more or less clarified sewage.' Unfiltered it must obviously be pure sewage, and therefore the County Council's dangerous sewage below is to be driven out by the equally dangerous sewage from above. Surely the position is a little absurd.

The next point is that the Staines scheme will be more costly than the County Council's Welsh project; but that is just the point in dispute. Sir A. Binnie's calculations may prove his scheme to be the cheaper, but Messrs. Hunter and Middleton, who occupy the same position on the other side, prove the exact contrary by equally impressive sets of figures. Why should we accept Mr. Lefevre's word for it that the one is absolutely right and the others absolutely wrong? County Council estimates are not proverbial for accuracy. I seem to remember something about a sewer at Lewisham, and other little matters. The Council's protest against the appointment of Colonel Rathborne to examine the estimates does not look as if they had much confidence in their own. Mr. Lefevre adroitly conveys the impression that Sir B. Baker and Mr. Deacon corroborate the County Council as to the relative cost, but that is exactly what they do not. They give the preference to Wales for other reasons, but they say the Staines scheme would be cheaper.

Having settled this point to his own satisfaction, Mr. Lesevre boldly lays it down that the further supplies required at the end of ten or twelve years 'must be obtained from Wales (p. 987). Why must be ? No engineer has ever said so. They all, friendly or hostile, discuss the rival schemes as possible alternatives. It is a question of expediency, not of necessity. There is no 'must’ about it at all, and the expediency has yet to be proved. Then the Welsh scheme being established as indispensable, he says, it can only be carried out by the London Council' (p. 988). Why? Why should not a Water Board or the Amalgamated Companies carry it out ? They could do it just as well, and if they thought it the cheaper plan they would. Having followed Mr. Lefevre through the past and the future, let me conclude by a reference to the present which he has wholly omitted. The urgent, and the only urgent, question before us is the safety of East London during the next year or two until its storage is increased and its wells developed. What does the County Council propose ? Nothing whatever. The water companies have proposed a scheme and are going to Parliament for the necessary powers. Lord Llandaff's Commission has reported in its favour, and the only comment I need make is that the County Council is opposing the scheme. Why? The answer can best be given in the words of Mr. Balfour Browne, Q.C., addressed to the Royal Commission on behalf of the County Council, on the 15th of November:

If we bought the East London Company now we should buy them as a defaulting company, which we could not do if they were able to avail themselves of this intercommunication scheme.

If words have any meaning this sentence means that in the opinion of the County Council, East London is at present not safe, but would be made safe by the companies' scheme, and that the Council is opposing the scheme precisely on that account. They want East London to suffer in order that they may buy the company cheap. Here we have the real evil of the present system, which has been repeatedly illustrated in the facts related above. The companies are still in possession and actually responsible for the water supply, but their efforts to provide it are opposed at every turn because the Council wants to take possession and to buy the business cheap. It is a situation in which the consumer is bound to suffer. He is the Armenian peasant who is massacred for the sake of bundling out the Turk.


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