This section is from the book "The Principles And Practice Of Modern House-Construction", by G. Lister Sutcliffe. Also available from Amazon: How Your House Works: A Visual Guide to Understanding & Maintaining Your Home.
(41.) Local Authorities in the Metropolis. The County of London includes the "City"; the districts set out in Schedules A and B of the Metropolis Management Act, 1855, as amended by subsequent Acts; Woolwich; and a number of small districts enumerated in Schedule C of the before-mentioned Metropolis Management Acts. The total population of this area is over four millions.
The authorities having sanitary jurisdiction in the Metropolis are: - The County Council, the Vestries and District Boards, and, in the case of the small distrricts enumerated in Schedule C, the Boards of Guardians; the City was, until the beginning of the year 1898, governed by the Commissioners of sewers under rather ancient though still effective sanitary laws, but the Corporation is now the responsible authority.
(42.) Sanitary Acts in force in the Metropolis. The special Sanitary Acts in force in the Metropolis and not in force elsewhere, are the following: - The Public Health (London) Act, 1891; the Metropolis Local Management Act. 1855, and its various amendments; the General Paving Metropolis Act. 1817; the Metropolitan Building Act, 1894; and the Metropolis Water Acts, 1852 and 1871.
In common with the rest of the country, the following important Acts are in force in London: - The Housing of the Working Classes Act, 1890; the Factories and Workshops Acts; the Canal Boats Acts; the Local Government Act, 1888; and the Food Acts, - that is, the Sale of Food and Drugs Acts, the Margarine Act, and the Horse-flesh Act.
(43.) Functions and Duties of the London County Council. Standing in the place of the old Metropolitan Board of Works, the Council has succeeded to their duties, some of which are as follows: - To dial with the London sewage; to make new main sewers when necessary, and to see that local sewers arc made in conformity with the genera] plan of London sewerage; to supervise the lines of frontage; to see to the naming and numbering of the houses; the height of buildings; the width of roads; dangerous structures; the maintenance of open spaces; the structure of theatres and similar public buildings; the registration of dairymen; the registration of houses under the Infant Life Protection Act; the registration and supervision of common lodging-houses; the Shop Hours Act; the licensing of cow-houses, slaughter-houses, and knackers' yards; the sanctioning of new offensive businesses or otherwise; and the making of by-laws for certain definite purposes, such as the mode of construction of drains; the plan and level of sites for building; the plana, level, width, surface inclination, and materials for the pavement and roadway of new streets and roads, under the Metropolis Management Acts; and other by-laws under the Public Health (London) Act.
(44.) Nuisances - "Summary" and "Non-summary". The Public Health (London) Act, 1891, treats nuisances in a similar way to the Act of 1875, but renders their abatement easier.
Nuisances are not only matters "injurious", but "dangerous or injurious", to health; they are divided into two classes, which may be conveniently designated "summary" and "non-summary". Summary nuisances are all ordinary nuisances, such as unhealthy premises, accumulations, overcrowding, animals kept improperly, black smoke issuing from certain chimneys, houses without a proper supply of water, and so forth. Non-summary nuisances are wilful damage or destruction of drains and sanitary appliances; nuisances arising from snow, dust, ashes, Ac, in the streets; nuisances arising from offensive drainage from breweries, slaughter-houses, knackers' yards, dunghills, butchers' or fishmongers'shops, or from any manufactory, into any uncovered place; unpaved yards and open spaces nuisances connected with swine; nuisances connected with offensive trades; and nuisances connected with the filthy state of sanitary conveniences or the approaches thereto.
The chief difference between the two classes of nuisance is one of procedure. Information of a summary nuisance may be given by anyone; it is, moreover, the duty of every relieving officer, and of every officer in the employ of the Local Authority, to give notice of any nuisance which may be brought within his observation, and the Local Authority must make regulations and give the necessary directions so as to ensure this being done. A summary nuisance is to be brought at once to the notice of any person who may be required to abate the same, and this is done by a sanitary officer serving a "written intimation". On receipt of information that a summary nuisance exists, it is the imperative duty of the Sanitary Authority to serve a notice on the owner or occupier of the premises, requiring him to abate the nuisance within a specified time, and if the Sanitary Authority choose, they may state the works which are necessary to abate the nuisance (Public Health (London) Act, §§ 3, 4).
(45.) Metropolitan House-drainage. The definition of "drain" is slightly different under the Metropolitan laws, for the word "drain" not only includes a drain for premises within the same curtilage, but also a drain combined with others constructed under the order of any vestry or district board, "as well as any such combined drain laid or constructed before January 1, 1856, pursuant to the order or direction or with the sanction and approval of the Metropolitan Commissioners of Sewers" (18 and 19 Vict., ch. 120, § 250; 25 and 26 Vict, ch. 102, § 112).
The Metropolitan Local Authorities have extensive powers of examining drains to see whether they are in proper order. In case of emergency, they may enter upon any premises with workmen and open the ground in any place they think fit; in other cases twenty-four hours' notice must be given to the occupier (18 and 19 Vict, ch. 120, § 82; Public Health (London) Act, § 40). No complaint need have Wen laid as to the state of the drain. If Local Authorities so desire, they may examine every house systematically. If the drain is bad, the Local Authority may require the owner to amend it, or may do the work and recover the expense (18 and 19 Vict., ch. 120, §§ 83-85).
Houses without proper drainage, or destitute of drain**, must be drained into a sewer, if one exists within 100 feet (ibid., § 73). No new house is to be erected without proper drainage, and full power if given to regulate materials, gradients, and so forth. The foundations of all new houses are to be at such a level as will permit of adequate drainage (ibid §§ 75, 76).
Local Authorities may make "regulations" as to drains. The London County Council may make "by-laws" to be carried out by Local Authorities.
Foul or improperly-constructed drains .constitute a summary nuisance under the Public Health (London) Act. §2. A drain repaired or constructed in such a way that it is a nuisance, renders the person repairing or constructing it liable to a fine, unless he can show his neglect was not wilful (ibid., A drain passing under "underground rooms" must be gas-tight (ibid., §96).
(46.) Metropolitan Water-supply. The water-supply is practically in the hands of public companies, and each company has its special Act Gratuitous public supplies of water arc, however, vested in the Local Authority, as in the provinces. There arc provisions in the Metropolis Water Acts, 1852 and 1871, compelling the companies to supply pure water, and to keep proper maps showing the position of the mains, etc.
Every company must give a constant service, if required to do so by the London County Council; or if, on the representation of a Local Authority, the London County Council neglect this duty, the Local Government Board has the same power. A company is not bound to give a constant supply, unless the prescribed fittings are provided. Absence of the prescribed fittings i "summary" nuisance (Public Health (London) Act, § 2).
An occupied house without a proper and sufficient supply of water is a summary nuisance, and a dwelling-house without such supply is to be deemed unfit for human habitation (Public Health (London) Act, § 48). Newly-erected houses, or those which are rebuilt, must have a proper supply of water § 48). If a water company cut off the supply from any house without giving notice to the Local Authority, the company is liable to a penalty of £10 or less.
Polluted wells, tanks, or cisterns, may be closed under Section 54, Public Health (London) Act. By-laws are to be made as to the cleanliness of cisterns and other receptacles for drinking-water (Public Health (London) Act, §50).
(47.) Metropolitan By-laws. A large part of the details of Metropolitan sanitary administration is carried out under the by-laws made by the London County Council, and also under those made by each Local Authority. In this way offensive trades are regulated, the carriage of offensive liquids or matters through the streets, the disposal of refuse, the inspection of cattle and dairies, the construction of sanitary appliances, the occupation of tenement-houses, the cleanliness of tents, vans, sheds, and similar structures, the removal of dung or offensive accumulations, and the abatement of a number of nuisances.
(48.) Unsound Food. The law in London is similar to that in the provinces, save that the London Act has a better and more complete definition of food, extending the scope of the Act to "any articles, whether solid or liquid", intended for the food of man.
(49).) Provisions with regard to Infectious Disease. The Infectious Diseases Prevention and the Infectious Diseases Notification Acts are both embodied in the provisions of the Public Health (London) Act. London differs from the provinces in possessing a central body, the Asylums Board, whose duty it is to provide hospitals for the reception of cases of typhus, enteric, and scarlet fevers, smallpox, and diphtheria. Under the Public Health (London) Act, a copy of every notification certificate must be sent to the Asylums Board, and to the head-teacher of the school attended by the patient (if a child) or by any child who is an inmate of the same house as the patient.
(50.) Miscellaneous. The Food Acts, the Housing of the Working Classes Acts, and the Factories and Workshops Acts, are in force in the County of London. The general effect of these Acts has been already briefly explained.
(51.) The principal Acts relating to Public Health in Ireland are the Public Health (Ireland) Act, 1878; the Public Health (Ireland) Amendment Acts, 1879 and 1896; the Public Health Act, 1889; the Infectious Diseases Prevention and Notification Acts; the Public Health Acts Amendment Act, 1890; the Housing of the Working Classes Act, 1890; the Sale of Food and Drugs Acts; the Margarine Act; the Factory and Workshops Acts; and the Cholera Hospitals (Ireland) Act, 1893. The Sewage Utilization Acts, 1865 and 1867, and the Sanitary Act, 1866, also remain in force so far as they relate to Ireland.
Under these different Acts the duties and powers of Sanitary Authorities and their officers are almost identical with those in the English provinces.