HC Deb 06 July 1863 vol 172 cc245-9

Bill read 2°, and committed.


said, he rose to move the following Resolution:— That it be an Instruction to the Committee on the London, Chatham, and Dover Railway (No. 1) Bill, that they do admit the Mayor, Aldermen, and Commons of the City of London to be heard upon their Petition with reference to the Railway already authorized in the City of London, and for the insertion of a Clause prohibiting the Railway Company from carrying a Viaduct over Ludgate Hill. The object of his Motion was to have the question of the proposed viaduct over Ludgate Hill re-considered. Since the Act enabling the London, Chatham, and Dover Railway Company to construct the railway over Ludgate Hill had been passed, the Metropolitan Railway had established the fact that railways might be safely, conveniently, and economically made beneath the surface. Unless some comprehensive system in regard to metropolitan stations were adopted by the Legislature, great inconvenience was likely to be sustained. The London, Chatham, and Dover Company proposed to construct a station in Farringdon Street eighteen or twenty feet above the level of the street, and that railway was to be connected, within an eighth of a mile, with another railway having a station twenty-five feet below the level of the street. A gradient was therefore required of 1 in 40, which would cause great inconvenience and danger to the public. He could not understand why the railway company should object to a tunnel under Ludgate Hill, which would get rid of all the inconvenience and difficulty. In 1860 the Company, no doubt, obtained leave to make a viaduct over Ludgate Hill; but the question had not then been placed before the public in its true light, and consequently had not been fully considered. The viaduct was opposed by all the great interests in the City. It was opposed not only by the Corporation of London, but by the bankers, merchants, the Commissioners of Sewers, the Corporation of the Dean and Chapter, and the Metropolitan Board of Works. He had letters from Mr. Hemans, engineer, and Mr. Penrose, surveyor, stating that the premises of The Times newspaper and Apothecaries' Hall, and the foundations of St. Paul's would not be injured by the tunnel, while a better gradient of 1 in 50 would be obtained. He would admit that the course he was proposing was unusual; but so were the circumstances in which the City was placed. The House injudiciously gave the company, three years ago, the power of making a railway with unsafe gradients, and he asked it to re-consider its former legislation. The Company had been waited upon by several deputations. They had, they said, gone to considerable expense, and that was, he believed, where the shoe pinched. If his Motion were carried and the question referred to a Committee, they would have the power of transferring a portion of such expenditure to the Corporation if they pleased. ["Hear, Hear!"] He would re-echo that cheer, and admit that as the Corporation were the Representatives of the City of London, they ought to pay a portion of the expenses incurred for the sake of obtaining so important an improvement. He did not, however, believe that any expenditure which would not otherwise have been necessary had been incurred in regard to the proposed viaduct. A similar case of interference took place upon a Bill promoted by the London and South Western Railway, when Parliament prohibited the construction of a viaduct which had been already sanctioned, unless the Company consented to meet the wishes of the public on some point. He trusted that the House would agree to the proposed instruction to the Committee.


said, that the Motion of the hon. Alderman was not only unusual, but absolutely unprecedented; and not only unprecedented, but if acceded to, it would establish a precedent little to the credit of Parliament, because it would shake to the foundation public faith in the rights guaranteed by Act of Parliament. The instruction would, if adopted, enable parties who had already been heard in opposition to a Bill to come down again and raise the same issue on another Bill with a view of unsettling the law. The Motion was not brought forward with a view of questioning any clause in the Bill now before the House, but to question an Act which had been in existence three years, under which vast interests had been created, and on the faith of which large sums of money had been invested. He would ask the House to separate the question of the viaduct from the discussion. The Bill now before the House authorized the construction of a small extent of line in another part of the metropolis, and authorized the company to raise money which was to be strictly appropriated to the execution of those works. The hon. Alderman did not question any of the works authorized by the Bill, but wished to repeal the clauses of an Act passed three years ago. He would not enter into the question of the merits or demerits of the proposed viaduct over Ludgate Hill whatever they might be, and even if the viaduct was objectionable, the present was not the proper mode of raising the question. If the question were to be re-opened, it must be by another form. All the parties interested must have notice, and no private individual could raise the issue. As the powers complained of were undoubtedly granted by Parliament, it would be the duty of the Government, if they considered the powers granted by the Bill ought to be withdrawn, to propose that the legislation of the year 1860 or the subject should be re-considered, that some other works should be substituted and that compensation should be given to the parties for the money they had ex pended under the former Act. The Motion before the House was so utterly a variance with the practice of the House and with the commonest rules of justice-it was, moreover, so dangerous as tending to unsettle the validity of titles enjoyed under Act of Parliament—that he trustee the House would reject it.


said, he wished to correct some of the statements made by the hon. Alderman, which had no doubt been made in error. It was not true that the Commissioners of Sewers were opposed to the viaduct; and as to the Board of Works, they had actually decided by resolution in favour of the measure, and that they would not oppose the construction of the viaduct. Trains were often detained on the bridge in consequence of the narrow approach to the Victoria station. One object of the Bill was to give to the London, Chatham, and Dover Railway power to improve the approaches. The hon. Alderman, however, proposed to stop that work because the corporation of London had changed their minds as to the viaduct across Ludgate Hill.


said, he had been a Member of the Committee before which the Bill was brought in 1860, and no Committee could have more carefully performed its duties. The Lord Mayor and several members of the Corporation were examined, and gave evidence in favour of the Bill.


remarked, that a deputation of persons who were opposed to the viaduct over Ludgate Hill had waited on him to request that he would oppose the scheme, and he informed them that he could not, in common honesty and justice, because they disapproved of the viaduct, vote against a Bill which had nothing whatever to do with that subject. He hoped that the House would stand by its established usages, and not accept so monstrous a proposition as that now before it.


said, he did not think that the hon. Alderman merited the obloquy which had been cast upon him, because a very strong feeling had been manifested out of doors, in the press and elsewhere, against what was regarded as the hideous viaduct proposed to be thrown across Ludgate Hill. When the former Bill received the sanction of Parliament, the corporation of the City of London were large proprietors of Metropolitan Railway stock, which the proposed line was to join and would very much benefit. They consequently supported the measure, and the Lord Mayor and only the Lord Mayor gave evidence in its favour. It had, however, been suggested by the Chairman of Committees, that the Government should bring in a Bill by which the expense to be incurred in an alteration of the plan from a viaduct to a tunnel should be provided for, and he thought it worth consideration whether that could not be done by a clause to be inserted in the present Bill.


said, the suggestion made by the hon. Alderman was not to throw out a distinct clause, but to give an opportunity of considering the question of the viaduct. It was a matter of great regret that the view of St. Paul's should be interfered with.

Motion made, and Question, That it be an Instruction to the Committee on the Bill, that they do admit the Mayor, Aldermen, and Commons of the City of London to be heard upon their Petition with reference to the Railway already authorized in the City of London, and for the insertion of a Clause prohibiting the Railway Company from carrying a Viaduct over Ludgate Hill,"—(Mr. Alderman Sidney,) —put, and negatived.

Ordered, That Standing Orders 187, 188, and 216, be suspended, in the case of the said Bill, and that the Committee on the Bill have leave to sit and proceed upon Friday next, and that all Petitions praying to be heard against the said Bill be deposited upon or before Thursday next.