HC Deb 07 July 1840 vol 55 cc554-6
Sir F. Trench

rose to move, that an instruction be given to the Select Committee appointed to consider the petition of the corporation of London relative to the embankment of the river Thames:— That they shall consider and report their opinion, whether the formation of a terrace or quay along the banks of the river from South-wark-bridge to Hungerford-market would facilitate the convenience of public communication, and contribute greatly as well to the embellishment of the metropolis as to the health, comfort, and recreation of its inhabitants, especially those who are engaged in sedentary employments, and too often reside in close and crowded and unwholesome apartments. It was fifteen years since he had brought this subject forward before Parliament, when he received the support of many of the most distinguished Members on both sides, and among others, then present, he saw his right hon. Friend, the Member for Pembroke. An estimate had been made by Mr. Walker, the distinguished engineer, as to the probable expenses of this embankment, and he believed that there was satisfactory evidence to show-that it would not exceed 680,000l., which amount, there was every reason to believe, would be repaid within a short period; and, at the same time, the metropolis would be greatly embellished, and the means of healthy exercise and recreation would be afforded to the inhabitants of it. Sir Christopher Wren, after the fire of London, proposed a plan of embankment for the river Thames, but neither the circumstances nor the feelings of the time led to its adoption. His present motion was only to direct the Committee now sitting to inquire into the subject. The hon. Gentleman concluded with proposing his motion.

Mr. Hawes

would not follow the example of the hon. Gentleman and enter into an examination of Mr. Walker's estimate, as the whole subject was now under the serious attention of the Committee. The question involved the consideration of the navigation of the Thames, and when the attention of the House was directed to the plan of improvement by this or that engineer, it should be considered whether the expense was to be borne by London, or the country generally; and also to what extent private property would be sacrificed. He objected to any proposition of this kind being brought forward in this indirect manner—he should, therefore, oppose it.

Mr. Warburton

observed, that, whenever any party proposed to take steps to make a road, canal, or railroad, they had to give previous notice to all the persons who were interested in the line of road; but the hon. Baronet now proposed to make a line of road along the banks of the Thames, involving property to an enormous amount, without the slightest notification being given to the parties most deeply interested. He knew a tenant who paid 400l. a-year rental for his present wharf, but if Mr. Walker's plan was adopted, he would be blocked out of his wharf, unless he consented to pay 600l. a-year more for the new wharf that would be built in front of his present premises. He was convinced that the House would never consent to tamper with private interests in this indecent manner, and would abstain from expressing any opinion on any scheme of embankment until it was regularly brought before it.

Sir J. Graham

concurred with the hon. Members for Lambeth and Bridport in objecting to this motion; he would, therefore, recommend the hon. and gallant Member to withdraw it.

Sir Matthew Wood

wished the House to recollect, that the proposition of his hon. and gallant Friend was not to submit a plan of his own to their approbation, but to induce them to investigate an extensive plan of embankment that had been proposed by an eminent engineer. He could not conceive what possible objections there could be to inquiry. He had felt great interest when he accompanied his gallant Friend, and the Duke of Rutland, and other distinguished persons, in an excursion on the river, with the view of promoting this object. He was satisfied that this embankment might be effected without any serious interruption to trade. He would support the motion.

Lord Robert Grosvenor

hoped the House would not consent to any plan for embankment, until they had all the plans and specifications laid before them.

Sir Robert Inglis

could not vote for the motion of his hon. and gallant Friend, because the committee already had the power he wished to give them.

Sir Robert Peel

said, the public were under great obligations to his hon. and gallant Friend for having drawn the attention of the House to the subject; but, at the same time, he thought it would not be expedient to give such an instruction to the committee, not in respect of the plan itself, but in respect of the order of the proceeding in that House. They would be establishing a dangerous precedent. A committee had been appointed, with full and ample power to consider the subject, and to give a special instruction of this kind, would argue a distrust of the committee. He hoped his hon. and gallant Friend would not press his motion.

Motion withdrawn.