CENTRAL AUTHORITATIVE PREVENTION.
Central authoritative direction on legislation is now demanded in so many ways, that nothing less than a special inquiry into the existing state of the laws relating to health, and leading to unifi cation of law and simplification of law, can ever meet the many social changes that are absolutely required. Everything is piece meal in present sanitary legislation in all its bearings on social life. I can but touch, therefore, on such existing wants as have been brought before rue in the most persistent way under the teachings of every-day practical inquiry. Amongst distinctive legislative requirements the following seem the most urgent.
Water Supply. Building. Air Purifiation. Sepulture.
The supply of water to all the towns and villages of the king dom ought to be under the direction of the central government, either directly or indirectly, through the control it can exercise on local authorities, so that all private companies and monopolies may be removed. All those parts of existing Sanitary Acts which re fer to the drainage of towns, to the direction of sewers and the purification of watercourses, should be recast and rendered definite.
The central authority should empower the local to insist that owners of property construct all residences and other species of building of proper material, and on correct principles for health.
The central authority should direct the local to provide in every place for the lighting of towns, and purification of the air from smoke and other products of combustion which are injurious to health.
The central authority should direct the local to provide proper mortuaries, so that the dead in the crowded living may be re moved to a fitting temporary place of rest, with all that ministers to the respect due to death. It should also direct that the ancient and most useful officer, the Coroner, should have a court-house, where, with the solemnity befitting the vocation, he and his sworn men should perform their important duties.
And still in England, if we would have every town healthy, it is necessary to continue to improve the places of sepulture. Our cemeteries for about half a century have been sufficient for the purposes for which they are intended. They are becoming too crowded now, and some of them so crowded as to offend the senses. A revision of law is immediately demanded in this direction, by which, what is known as earth to earth burial should be provided for in every cemetery, and by which, under proper legal restric tion, cremation should be permitted whenever it may be desired. Cremation is becoming an actual necessity.
Suppression of Alcoholic Evils.
Lastly, for social health three great legislative reforms are re quired in relation to the sale of alcohol and the treatment of the worst sufferers from that agent. The first of these reforms is the establishment of local option, combined, I think, ultimately, with increased taxation on all alcoholic drinks. The second is so to improve the temporary Act which permits the establishment of homes for dipsomaniacs that confirmed inebriates can be received in them with less trouble and difficulty than is now experienced. The third is to provide probationary homes for the dipsomaniac criminal classes, where, on the plan suggested by the Rev. C. Horsley, these classes can be retained for continued reformation under entire abstinence from strong drink, after they have finished the term of their sentence in the prison.
A Ministry of Health.
For the complete carrying out of the Central Health Depart ment of this country, in all its details, one further reform is required, and that is a Ministry of Health, which shall, in the various departments connected with it under the control and direction of a Minister of Health, collate all the registrable facts bearing on disease and mortality; all the facts relating to meteor ology and climate; all the details relating to the laws connected with local self-government; and, everything which publicly is included under the head of State Medical Jurisprudence. Such a Ministry would not only be of the greatest advantage to the country, but, thoroughly organized and efficiently served, would be sure to win the confidence and respect of other countries, and would serve as a model for countries less advanced than our own in the science and art of sanitation.