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Health of Towns

report, reports, sanitary, labouring, condition and commissioners

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TOWNS, HEALTH OF. On the 14th of May, 1838, the Poor Law Com missioners presented to Lord John Russell, then Secretary of State for Home Affairs, a Report by Dr. Arnott and Dr. Kay, and two Reports by Dr. Southwood Smith, relative to the prevalence of disease among the labouring classes in certain districts of the metropolis. The House of Lords having on the 19th of August, 1839, presented an address to her Majesty requesting her to direct an inquiry to be made as to the extent of the causes of disease stated in those Reports to prevail, the Poor Law Commissioners received a letter from Lord John Russell, in which he stated that her Majesty required them to make such inquiry, not only as to the metropolis, but as to other parts of Eng land and Wales, and to prepare a Report stating the results of such inquiry.

In 1840 the subject was investigated by a Committee of the House of Com mons, the result of which was a Re port ' on the Health of Large Towns and Populous Districts.' In July, 1842, the Report of the Poor Law Commissioners was presented to both Houses of Parliament, entitled a Report on the Sanitary Condition of the Labouring Population of Great Britain, with Appendices.' Local Reports on the Sanitary Condition of the Labouring Population of England,' were presented at the same time. Of these local Reports there are twenty-six, some of which relate to certain counties and others to particu lar towns. At the same time were pre sented Reports on the Sanitary Condi tion of the Labouring Population of Scotland.' In 1843 ' a Supplementary Report on the results of a Special Inquiry into the practice of Interment in Towns,' was presented. On this subject see some remarks under INTERMENT.

On the 9th of May, 1843, Commissioners were appointed by the Queen for the purpose of " inquiring into the present state of large towns and populous districts in England and Wales, with reference to the causes of disease among the inhabit ants, and into the best means of pro moting and securing the public health, under the operation of the laws and re gulations now in force, and the usages at present prevailing with regard to the drainage of lauds, the erection, drainage, and ventilation of buildings, and the sup ply of water, in such towns and districts, whether for purposes of health, or for the better protection of property from fire ; and how far the public health and the condition of the poorer classes of the people of this realm, and the salubrity and safety of their dwellings, may be promoted by the amendment of such laws, regulations, and usages."

The First Report of the Commissioners was presented to both Houses of Parlia ment at the end of June, 1844. The Report is accompanied by 437 folio pages of evidence on which the Report is founded, an Appendix of Special Reports on the Sanitary Condition of several Towns, among the most important of which are Liverpool, by W. H. Duncan, M.D. ; Ashton-under-Lyne, by John Ross Coult hart, Esq.; the City of York, by Thomas Laycock, M.D. ; and Nottingham, by Thomas Hawksley, Esq.; besides other information on the Supply and Filtration of Water, on the Obstacles to Improve ment in the Structure of Buildings, on the Cleansing of Streets and Houses, and on the application of Refuse.

The Second Report of the Commis sioners was presented to Parliament in Feb ruar7, 1845. It treats briefly of the Causes of Disease, and at considerable length of Remedial Measures. It is followed by a Report on the State of Birmingham and other Towns, by R. A. Slaney, Fsq. ; a Report on the State of Bristol and other Towns, by Sir Henry T. De la Beebe; a Report on the State of large Towns in Lancashire, by Dr. Lyon Playfair ; and a Supplement containing information on sewers, lodging-houses, and other matters connected with inquiries of the Commis sioners.

We have thus briefly stated the origin and progress of this important investiga tion into the sanitary condition of the population of Great Britain, chiefly in deed of the labouring and poorer inhabit ants, but extending indirectly to all classes.

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