HC Deb 18 June 1863 vol 171 cc1039-42

Order for Second Reading read.

Motion made, and Question, proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."


said, that the object of the proposed measure was to set up a peculiar and exceptional law with respect to the regulation of traffic in those parts of the metropolis within the City. The powers which the law would confer were to be exercised by the Court of Aldermen; but if the Bill were passed, the result would be that the inhabitants of the metropolis at large would be placed at the mercy of the civic authorities, inasmuch as any one engaging a cab at Charing Cross, or any other part of the town not in the City, would find himself subject to a different set of regulations from those which prevailed outside the City boundaries the moment he got through Temple Bar. It was true that the assent of the Secretary of State would be required to the by-laws which the Bill would, enable the Court of Aldermen to frame, before they could be put in force; but he, for one, was opposed to have authority delegated to the Secretary of State and a small civic body to regulate the traffic of the whole of London. The general law on the subject now in existence was found satisfactory to nine-tenths of the metropolis; and if it did not work so well within the City, it was because the authorities there had not the moral power and influence to carry it properly into effect. The Bill ought not, he maintained, at all events, to be introduced as a private Bill, and he should move that it be read a second time that day three months.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months."—(Mr. Ayrton.)

Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."


said, that he could not agree with the hon. and learned Member who had just sat down, that the Bill ought not to be introduced as a private measure. He could conceive nothing more pertinent to the object of a private Bill than the regulation by a municipal or local authority of the traffic of the streets comprised within its jurisdiction; and he was surprised to hear such an objection as that come from his hon. and learned Friend, who avowed himself an advocate of local self-government. The subject was properly the subject of a private Bill, and he thought that a better private Bill had not been submitted to that House during the present Session. He very much wished that its provisions could be extended to Westminster; for, what with beggars, and prostitutes, and street music, and crawling cabs, more was endured by the inhabitants than was endured by the inhabitants of any capital in Europe; and he wished that the provisions of this Bill could be extended so as to include not only the City, but the rest of the metropolis. He hoped the House would not hesitate to refer the Bill to a Select Committee, and that the Select Committee would not impair its provisions.


said, the House would not fail to perceive that the speech of the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Ayrton) was characterized by the hostility he showed on every occasion to the corporation of the City of London. Considering the great inconvenience caused by the ever increasing traffic, and that shortly there would be three terminal railway stations within a radius of a quarter of a mile from the Bank, he thought the time had arrived when power should be given to the corporation to regulate the traffic. The commercial classes looked with great distrust on the measure, but he was satisfied the Court of Aldermen would exercise the power with due deference to public opinion. He hoped the Bill would pass, with such amendments as might be found desirable.


said, that he had always been in favour of municipal institutions. But he did not think it was wise that a municipal corporation, which only exercised authority over a portion of the metropolis, should be allowed to make laws for the whole of the metropolis. Yet that was what was proposed by the Bill. It conferred, with respect to the regulation of the weight of waggons and the size of their wheels, most arbitrary powers, which if exercised would preclude all waggons which were not of a specified description from going through Temple Bar. The Bill ought to have been a public measure, and it would then have been referred to a Select Committee of fifteen instead of a Select Committee of five. A Committee of five was the very worst selection ever made in the House. It was such a Committee that had sanctioned the frightful viaduct just on the other side of London Bridge, and the one which was to be erected over Ludgate Hill, which were, he contended, a disgrace to the age. He thought, how-ever, that the Bill was unnecessary, because under the present City Police Act the Chief Commissioner of the City Police had the power to make all requisite regulations for the City traffic.


said, that the power which the Chief Commissioner at present possessed of appointing routes for traffic had reference only to the occasions of public processions, rejoicings, or illuminations. He was of opinion that some measures should be taken to regulate the traffic in the crowded streets of the metropolis. For his own part he had often experienced great difficulty in getting along them. Although the Bill contained some objectionable clauses, there were others in it which he believed would be found most useful, and he should therefore support the second reading.


said, that while he admitted the inconvenience of legislating separately for different parts of the metropolis, he thought it would be contrary to precedent to reject the Bill on the second reading. He pointed out that the operation of this measure would not be entirely confined to the City. It might be a question whether, after the Bill came from the Select Committee, it should not be considered by a Committee of the Whole House.


said, that if the Bill was referred to a Select Committee, the rest of the metropolis would have no locus standi to appear before the Committee to show the injury which it might inflict upon the outlying districts.


said, that he must protest against the doctrine that only metropolitan Members were interested in legislation connected with the metropolis. When money was required for improvements hon. Members heard quite a different story. He only recollected one proposition of an equally modest character, and that was when Mr. Train wanted to obtain a monopoly of all the thoroughfares in England.


, in consequence of what had fallen from the Secretary of State for the Home Department, said he would withdraw his Amendment.


begged to give notice that to-morrow he should move that the Bill be referred to a Committee of fifteen.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read 2o, and committed.