HC Deb 13 April 1824 vol 11 cc397-400

Mr. Byng moved the order of the day for the second reading of this bill.

Mr. Serjeant Onslow

opposed the motion. The measure he considered to be perfectly uncalled for. There were already two bridges, Kew-bridge and Putney-bridge, within a mile and a half of the site of the intended bridge, which would lead to a part where there were at present hardly any inhabitants. Private rights ought not to be thus invaded; and, if this bill were passed, the rights of the proprietors of Kew-bridge would be materially injured. But, leaving private interests out of the question, this appeared to be a measure that was not called for by the public, either in Middlesex or Surrey, and therefore he should move, "that this bill be read a second time this day six months."

Mr. Hume

hoped the learned serjeant would be induced to wave his opposition to the measure. The learned serjeant did not, and could not, argue that bridges were not a great accommodation. All he said was, that there were already two bridges in existence, one above, the other below the place where it was intended to erect the new bridge; and he considered that the interest of the proprietors would be affected if an additional bridge was built. But, supposing that to be the fact, still it did not form an objection to the principle of the bill, which was founded on public convenience. It ought therefore to go to a committee. If on examination it appeared that the interests of individuals were affected, a proper compensation might be awarded to them.

Mr. Sykes

said, that the proprietors of Fulham-bridge had a right, if the present measure were carried, to come before the House and demand compensation for the bridge, which they had built for the accommodation of the public. Unless proper compensation would be afforded to those parties, he should certainly oppose the bill.

Lord Lowther

did not think that the individuals on whose behalf compensation was demanded, deserved that extensive remuneration for which gentlemen contended. They had taken good care to pay themselves handsomely, by the exaction of extravagant tolls. Persons frequently passing and re-passing Putney-bridge paid nearly as much in the course of a year, as they could rent a house for. He hoped the bill would be read a second time. The question of compensation could then be examined in a committee, and the parties interested would probably be induced to come to some compromise. At all events, it was most desirable that this bridge monopoly should be put an end to.

Mr. Denison

believed that the tolls alluded to did not amount to more than 9,000l. or 10,000l. a-year. But, if they were as high as 15,000l., those who owned them had a right to claim compensation. That being admitted, he was favourable to the measure. He was glad to see the superfluous capital of the country laid out in that manner. It was much better to employ it thus, than to throw it away on Utopian speculations.

Sir F. Ommaney

spoke in favour of the bill, and complained strongly of the insecure state of Putney-bridge. Not long since, a friend of his happened to be riding over that bridge, when the fore-feet of his horse sank into a hole, and both horse and rider were placed in a most perilous situation.

Mr. Lockhart

contended, that the interests of parties connected with the other bridges in the neighbourhood ought not to be neglected. Unless an assurance were given, that they would be properly compensated, he should give the bill every opposition in his power.

Mr. Curteis

was friendly to the measure. The question of compensation might be considered in the committee.

Sir J. Yorke

opposed the bill. It might be very well to individuals to have good level roads to walk upon; or, to use a homely phrase, that they should have an opportunity of steering to any point of the compass they pleased; but it was really a heart-rending thing, when roads were cut in every direction round gentlemen's estates, which previously were quiet and retired. The House ought to consider this, and pause before they passed the bill.

Mr. Byng

defended the measure as one of great public utility. As to compensation, that was a point which could be best considered in the committee.

Sir J. Graham

said, the intended bridge would be of no use, unless new roads and approaches were made in its neighbourhood; and this could not be done without sacrificing property to a great extent, as was the case with the Southwark-bridge. It was a measure for which there was no necessity, since it would not save five hundred yards in the distance between London and Richmond, and therefore, in his opinion, it ought not to be countenanced by the House. They were told, that the question of indemnity to the parties whose interests would be affected might be settled in the committee: but, what indemnity could be derived from a bridge that would never pay a shilling to the subscribers? If indemnity were intended, it ought to be charged upon some certain substantial security. For his part, he thought it would be a mercy to the speculators themselves to prevent them from proceeding farther.

Sir J. Sebright

said, that if the arguments of those who opposed the bill were to prevail, no public improvement whatsoever could take place; because, in every instance, it must interfere in some degree with the property of individuals. If they looked to their own times however, they would find that such arguments were not received as sound ones. Improvements had succeeded each other beyond all precedent, because wealthy individuals found that to be the best mode for the employment of their capital. He was decidedly in favour of the present measure; for he detested monopolies of all kinds. They only tended to shut the door against useful improvements.

Mr. H. Sumner

advocated the measure as a necessary and proper one. It was said, that the new bridge would not cave a distance of five hundred yards in the journey between London and Richmond: but there were a great many other places to which a considerable saving of distance would be effected. Besides, there was much property in the neighbourhood, which, instead of being deteriorated, would be greatly improved by the measure. The hon. gentleman had called the persons who projected this bridge speculators. What were the proprietors of Kew-bridge and of Fulham-bridge but speculators? The former, he believed, had reason to complain of the ill success of their speculation, whilst the latter had just as much reason to exult in the prosperity of theirs. He should cordially vote for the second reading of the bill.

The bill was then read a second time without a division.