§ Order for Committee read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
§ MR. CRAWFORD
said, he rose to move as an Amendment—That the Bill be re-committed to the Select Committee, with Instruction to take into consideration certain Proposals made by the Corporation of the City of London to Her Majesty's First Commissioner of Works since the date of the Report of the Select Committee.He had no official connection with the Corporation, and it was only in his capacity of one of the Members for the City that he had been requested to make the proposal. Before he stated its nature, however, it might be desirable he should explain the nature of the improvement fund. By an Act of last Session that fund was constituted by the continuation and appropriation of certain dues for ten years — until the month of July 1872. Those dues were levied on wine and coals; but inasmuch as the produce of the former was very small in amount, he would confine his explanation to the coal dues. The first charge was a duty of 4d, representing the old metage duty enjoyed by the Corporation from time immemorial, and confirmed by a charter of James I.—a duty always considered and held by the Corporation as their property for public purposes. The second was a duty of 8d., levied under various Acts of Parliament for the purpose of effecting public improvements in the metropolis; and the last was a duty of 1d., levied for the purpose of building the Coal Exchange and for other objects. The two last duties, amounting to 9d. a ton, formed the fund out of which the whole cost of the Thames Embankment was to be paid. The ratepayers of the metropolis and their representatives had uniformly opposed every attempt to provide funds for public improvements by direct taxation. That being the case, it was clear, that if the whole of the funds constituting the improvement fund of the metropolis were appropriated for the period contemplated by the Bills before the House — being until July 1872 — there 1703 could be no hope of any great public improvement being executed during that time, except those defined in the Bills in question. Concurrent with the Bill before the House was another Bill to continue for a further period of ten years from 1872 to 1882, the wine and coal duties. Under those Bills—the fourpenny duty being reserved for the improvement of Holborn Hill—in addition to the million authorized to be laid out on the Embankment, £650,000 was to be appropriated for the purposes of a new street to be made from Blackfriars Bridge to the Mansion House, and a further sum of £580,000 was to be set aside for the embankment of the south side of the Thames, if the Bill with that object passed into a law. It thus appeared that a sum of £2,230,000 was already appropriated for public purposes out of the whole amount raised by the coal duty for the next twenty years. Therefore, unless the House was prepared to levy fresh taxes on the inhabitants of the metropolis, there was no chance of any other public improvements being carried out. The Corporation of the City of London, in that state of things, entertaining a very natural jealousy and dislike to the introduction of the Metropolitan Board of Works within the boundaries of the City, made to the Select Committee which sat upstairs a proposal which had been submitted previously to the Chief Commissioner of Works. Their proposal was, that they should be permitted to use the fourpenny duty for the purposes of the street, and that they should defray the residue of the expense of the street out of their own corporate funds. The Committee did not adopt the proposition, but reported the Bill in the form in which it left the House,—that is, providing that the street should be made by the Metropolitan Board of Works at a net cost of £650,000. The Corporation then submitted a proposal to the Commissioners of Works, to the effect that they would undertake to construct out of their own corporate resources the street at a cost of £650,000, provided they received a contribution from the 9d. coal tax to the extent of £300,000. In other words, they said they would make a present of £350,000 to the metropolis at large, if they were allowed to make the street. The Chief Commissioner answered that proposition by stating, that if such a sum were available for improvements in the City, there were plenty of 1704 other works to which it might be applied; but the Corporation replied that the money was the property of the City. It might, in fact, be spent in building a new Mansion House or an obelisk, or in any other way they pleased. It was not specifically appropriated by Act of Parliament to public improvements within the City, and therefore, in making the proposal, they really offered to give £350,000 for the privilege of constructing the street themselves. If that offer were refused, and the street made altogether at the cost of the 9d. coal duty, the result would be that there would be no fund for twenty years by means of which any great public improvement could be carried out. No doubt many great improvements were wanted in the metropolis outside the City; and as there were seven metropolitan constituencies, the £350,000 would give £50,000 to each of them to dispose of. Under these circumstances, he expected that metropolitan Members would support his proposal. There were bridges to be bought, bridges to be built, and innumerable new streets to be made. With regard to the City and the Metropolitan Board of Works, he did not wish to set the one against the other, but he would appeal to past experience. It was a fact that, with very few exceptions, almost all the improvements in the metropolis for years past had been effected by the City of London out of revenues placed at their disposal by Parliament; and in no single instance that he was aware of had the estimates for those works been exceeded. The reason was, that the works were carried on under the superintendence of a Committee consisting of a great number of Members who lived in the City, and knew the value of property there, and who brought to bear an amount of experience and knowledge which prevented any jobs or misappropriation of money. On the other hand, what had the Metropolitan Board of Works done? He had no intention of disparaging them, but he would say that they had not the experience of the Corporation —at all events, within the limits of the City. Besides, they were already engaged in the execution of very large works—the Thames embankment and other important undertakings. For some years they had been making a new street through the Borough, but it was in a very incomplete state; and though the new communication between St. Martin's Lane and Covent Garden was opened, it was unfinished, and the accounts respecting it bad not been 1705 closed. He therefore begged respectfully to suggest, that as far as the public interests were concerned, they would be more effectually promoted by intrusting the construction of the new street to the corporation. The proposition of the corporation was, in brief, this:—The Bill empowered the Metropolitan Board of Works to make the street at a cost of £650,000, which was to come out of the 9d. coal duty, and the Corporation said they would do it for £300,000, taking the other sum of £350,000 out of their own resources. He asked the House to refer back the Bill to the Select Committee, in order that they might examine into that proposal; and if the Committee were satisfied that the Corporation were able to construct the street, he believed he had shown that on public grounds they ought to be intrusted with the execution of that great work which was entirely within the precincts of the City.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "the Bill be re-committed to the Select Committee, with Instruction to take into consideration certain Proposals made by the Corporation of the City of London to Her Majesty's First Commissioner of Works since the date of the Report of the Select Committee,
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
said, the question was one of considerable importance as regarded the practice of the House. It was very undesirable to encourage Motions to re-commit Bills without serious and substantial grounds, and he did not think it had been the practice of the House to re-commit Bills without its being shown either that the Committee had not adequately or satisfactorily discharged their duty, or that some new facts of real importance had come to light since the close of their labours. He was glad to hear that no objection was made to the Committee, for they had listened with the greatest attention for six days to the evidence brought before them, the Corporation and the Commissioners of Sewers for the City being the only opposing parties. He understood the hon. Member to say that the Corporation were willing to make a present of £350,000 out of their corporate resources for the honour of making the street. When he was informed 1706 that they had such resources, he said he was delighted to hear it, that they ought by all means to be encouraged in spending them in improving and beautifying the streets in the City, and that he was the last person to interfere in the slightest degree with proposals of that kind; but he added, "Do tell me what these corporate resources are?" Yet up to that time the information he had received on the point was very obscure. From their language it might be supposed that they meant the 4d. coal duty by the corporate resources; but so far from that duty belonging to the Corporation, it had only been granted to them by Act of Parliament until 1872. Probably, at the expiration of the Act, they would assert an ancient right to levy 4d. on every chaldron of coals; but with that they had nothing to do. They were dealing with the actual continuance tax of 4d. per ton, which, he could not admit, formed, in any proper sense, a part of the corporate resources. It was quite clear that the City could not give any money whatever out of the extension of the 4d. tax from 1872 to 1882, because, with the assent of the Committee, he had inserted in a Bill which stood on the orders for a second reading, a provision by which that money was to devoted to raising the valley of Holborn Hill. He had been assured, by a deputation from the City of London, that that work would cost £300,000; and if the City borrowed money on the above security for the purpose of raising Holborn Hill, none would be left for making the proposed street. He trusted that the hon. Members opposite, who were about to address the House on behalf of the City, would explain what the Corporation meant by offering lo make this street out of the corporate funds He admitted, that if the City made a serious proposal to expend funds on public improvements, which had hitherto been devoted to pageantry and other less important purposes, it would be entitled to serious consideration; but, at the same time, he contended this was not a case to go back to a Select Committee. It involved a principle which could be much better discussed in a Committee of the Whole House. Being a hybrid Bill, the measure had been carefully inquired into and sifted. It went before the Private Bill Committee in order that all persons whose interests were affected by it might be fully heard, and he considered that any question of principle which was raised could be much 1707 hetter decided in a Committee of the House than in a Select Committee upstairs. If the required sum of £350,000 was to come out of the coal tax, the offer of the City was not an offer to raise and pay the money, but only to expend it. No doubt the Corporation or other body would like to have the power of spending £350,000, and be ready to take it out of their neighbours' pockets for that purpose; but if the House listened to that proposal, and taking that sum from the Metropolitan Board of Works, gave it to the City, it would lend itself to a retrograde movement. When the Government had to consider the measures for continuing the taxes on coal, they made a distinction between the 4d. and the other taxes. The question of these coal duties was of the greatest importance, because they formed the fund out of which all the improvements in the metropolis had been, or were likely to be made, and the House said that they ought to be economized and distributed in the wisest and most efficient way. The 4d. tax was, by the Continuance Act of 1861, committed for a limited time to the care of the City, and the 9d. tax formed into a separate fund for the Thames Embankment and other metropolitan improvements. That last fund, it was decided, should be expended by the Metropolitan Board of Works. The reasons were obvious. The 9d. duty was intended to be spent on improvements for the benefit of the whole metropolis, such as this great thoroughfare between the east and west of London, and therefore it was proposed that the Metropolitan Board, which had been created since the last Continuance Act, should be intrusted with the expenditure of the money, instead of the corporation, and the City became subordinate to that hoard. He knew that was not a palatable phrase to the Corporation, but it expressed the provisions of an Act of Parliament. The Metropolis Local Management Act made them subordinate to the Metropolitan Board of Works It declared that the metropolis should include the City, and the members of the Metropolitan Board comprised three representatives from the City. How, then, could the corporation say they were independent and superior to the Board, when they were themselves represented upon it? They could not have it both ways. If they asserted their supremacy over the Metropolitan Board, ought they not to withdraw their throe Members? At present, those three Mem- 1708 bers had a share in the expenditure of the money. Therefore the Metropolitan Board of Works as much represented the City as it did the rest of the metropolis, and it would be quite contrary to the principles of self-government and the principle that representation should go with taxation, if they took away from the representatives of the whole metropolis the expenditure of the 9d. duty, and gave it only to the City of London, which was only one district of the metropolis. The 4d. duty would still be administered by the City for the purposes specified in the Continuance Act, for Parliament had wisely reserved to itself the discretion to say in each instance when these duties were renewed to what particular purpose they should be devoted. He did not believe that the researches of a second Committee would be more successful than those of the first in discovering where this £350,000 was to come from. He had himself asked Mr. Scott, the City Chamberlain, whether the City had any money at its disposal for this object besides the 4d. duty. Mr. Scott explained that there was in hand a borrowed sum of £350,000; and he suggested, that until that money became due, it might be applied to this purpose. It was, however, never represented that this floating balance would be permanently available for the work. A letter was sent from the Office of Works in March last, asking the corporate authorities, if they had any fund available, to give it in evidence. No such information was, however, granted, and it was clear there was some delusion somewhere. Before the Motion was entertained, some new fact ought to be put clearly before the Committee; but he thought that up to that time the hon. Member for the City had made out no case whatever, for the hon. Gentleman merely used the vague phrase that corporate resources were to supply the £350,000. By referring to the printed correspondence, it would he seen that the only thing to be expected, if the Corporation should be intrusted with the execution of these works, would be a postponement of a great improvement to an indefinite period; and he should be sorry if anything happened to create delay in the opening of the new thoroughfare between the West End and the City. He therefore should oppose the Amendment.
§ THE LORD MAYOR (Mr. Alderman ROSE)
SAID, that the Corporation of the City of London felt, that if the Bill passed in its then shape, it would be one of the 1709 most fatal Acts to be found in the history of that body. The funds out of which the improvement was to be paid for were to be collected in the City, and then it was proposed that those funds should be handed over to a foreign body for expenditure on those works. Such a proposition would, if carried, be destructive to the independence of the Corporation. The right hon. Gentleman had spoken of the shadowy character of the funds referred to by the Corporation in their offer. But how stood the credit of the City of London? Had not, he would ask, every undertaking of the Corporation, in a pecuniary point of view, been most honourably carried out? In the formation of new streets the Corporation had exhibited a marked contrast with the body to which the right hon. Gentleman was anxious to intrust his new work; for the former had always completed them within the estimate, while the latter had executed them largely in excess of the estimate. According to the Bill, £650,000, furnished by the ninepenny coal duty, was to be appropriated to the construction of a street from Blackfriars Bridge to the Mansion House, whereas the Corporation of the City of London were ready to execute the work if they received £300,000. The funds promised by the City of London had been spoken of as being uncertain; but surely the character of the Corporation ought to stand them in some stead in such a matter. The right hon. Gentleman desired to see the source of the funds, but he had no right to ask fur that information. The City was a great corporation, and had hitherto done its work honestly and successfully; and if the Corporation could show that largo sums were ready to be appropriated for the formation of the new street, and if, in addition, they were willing to give their bond that the work should be completed within a given time, the right hon. Gentleman had no right to attempt to exert an inquisitorial power and try to obtain information respecting the private property of the Corporation, The Corporation were ready to agree, that if they did not complete the work within the stipulated time, the matter should be taken out of their hands, and placed in the hands of others.
§ MR. NORRIS
said, he could assure the right hon. Gentleman that the fund of which the hon. Member (Mr. Crawford) had spoken was no ghost, but an existing reality; and that if the Bill were referred 1710 to a Select Committee, there would be abundant evidence to prove that all that was proposed on the part of the Corporation could he effectually carried out. Some time ago a body in some measure akin to the Metropolitan Board of Works—namely, the Commissioners of Clerkenwell—were appointed to make a new street in connection with Farringdon Street, but they altogether failed to do so. The works stood still for a time, and were then taken up by the Corporation of London. In the progress of that work the Corporation of London invested somewhere about £300,000 in the purchase of a vast district of dilapidated property. Before they had an opportunity of turning that property to any account, some enterprising men devised the Metropolitan Railway. That undertaking was struggling with commercial difficulties, and the Corporation, seeing an opportunity of improving their property, advanced £200,000 in the purchase of shares, which they had since sold at a profit; while their property round about the Metropolitan Railway had become greatly augmented in value. From these two sources the Corporation could readily derive funds sufficient to meet their share of the expense for constructing the new street. The Corporation also possessed freehold and other property to the extent of perhaps £250,000 a year, which, after deducting certain charges upon it, left an income of £80,000 or £100,000 a year, which was now appropriated to promoting public works in the City, encouraging charities and building schools. Sooner than allow of the intervention of a body of men who were created, as it were, but yesterday, and whose authority to come within their territory they had a right to question, the Corporation were willing to divert from its legitimate channel a large portion of that £80,000 or £100.000, to go in aid of the making of the new street. Within the last century the Corporation of London had expended out of its independent resources two millions of money, and had been the means of laying out for public purposes a sum amounting to nearly £3,000,000 making nearly five millions of money which had passed through the hands of that great public body. If the right hon. Gentleman dare not trust the Corporation of London, how was it possible he could have any confidence in that body which he seemed so much to favour by the course which he took with respect to this measure? he hoped the House would see 1711 the propriety of allowing the Bill to be recommitted to the Select Committee.
§ MR. DOULTON
said, he could not but express his surprise that the hon. Member for the City, who had brought forward the Motion under discussion, should have done so, when he was in point of fact one of the Members of the Committee who voted for the preamble of the Bill. With respect to the fourpenny coal tax, Parliament had from time to time dealt with that tax, and he could no longer look upon it as the property of the Corporation. The hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, and the Lord Mayor, argued the question as if the House were about to adopt a new principle; but not many years ago the Metropolis Local Management Act was passed, the preamble of which declared that for the purposes of the Bill the City of London was to be deemed part of the metropolis. The Thames Embankment Bill confirmed the principle, because a considerable portion of the work was to be done within the precincts of the City. The Corporation of London also conceded the principle when it suited their own purposes, for they came week after week and month after month to the Metropolitan Board of Works for small sums of £50 and £100 to assist in carrying out the metropolitan improvements, and three members of the Corporation sat at the Board. The Lord Mayor could scarcely entertain such a splendid conception of the administrative abilities of the Common Council as to believe that those members were there because the Metropolitan Board could not carry out their works without their assistance. Something had been said about the Corporation accounts. Now, there was the utmost difficulty in getting at these accounts, and a still greater difficulty in understanding them. The Corporation refused access to documents on which they founded any claim, and objected to disclose to any person who resisted their claims the grounds on which those claims were made, except under compulsion of a court of law. With regard to the estimates for City works, they had frequently been more than doubled. The estimates for the New Cattle Market were exceeded by £60,000, and Farringdon Market, instead of costing £150,000, cost£250,000. With reference to certain documents which had recently been placed in the hands of hon. Members, those documents were intended to deceive, not simply by misrepresentations, but by gross misstatements of facts; and the moat charitable construction 1712 he could put upon them was, that the new City Solicitor had been imposed upon by those who were acquainted with the real facts of the case. The documents to which he was referring mentioned certain improvements which had been carried out by this Corporation; but the fact was, that towards these improvements they had not contributed one stiver. He could, if time allowed, prove that these statements were deliberately untrue. Now, what was the Corporation? What did it represent? The merchants and bankers did not look upon it as representing the commercial interests of the City at all. The functions which once belonged to the Corporation had, one by one, been lost or abandoned. They derived a large revenue for the purpose of attending to the conservancy of the Thames; but although they still took the money, they did not perform the duties. The drainage, sewage, and lightage of the City was transferred to an independent body, the Commission of Sewers. They had nothing to do with the poor, or with educational establishments. The only establishment with which they had to deal was Gresham College, and that, under their management, had become a dead letter. The only important matters they attended to were the eating and show departments, and many hon. Members were able to testify as to the manner in which these departments were managed. He should certainly vote against the Motion, regarding it as a most unusual thing to vote for the re-committal of a Bill which had received the unanimous approval of the Committee by which it had been fully considered.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
said, he could not but deprecate the tone which had been adopted by some hon. Gentlemen. He regretted that the advocates of the City had rested their case on the alleged incompetence and incapacity of the Metropolitan Board to execute the improvements intrusted to their management. On the other hand, he deplored that the hon. Member for Lambeth and some others should have been so unsparing in their invectives against the Corporation. He believed, for his own part, that the proposed work would have been efficiently carried out by the Corporation, if the Government had thought fit to intrust it to them in the first instance, and he was satisfied that it would be equally well done by the Metropolitan Board. There could be no doubt, however, that the Corporation had failed to establish such a case before the Select Com- 1713 mittee as would have justified them either in rejecting the preamble of the Bill or in materially altering its provisions. On the contrary, they contented themselves with a temperate statement of their views, and the City Members on the Committee actually voted in favour of the preamble. Therefore, unless the City could show that some startling new facts had come to their knowledge, they ought not to ask for a re-committal of the Bill. He certainly had not been able to ascertain the existence of any facts of such magnitude as to justify the House in requiring the Committee to reconsider their decision; but, at the same time, he was quite willing, as a Member of the Committee, to go again into the inquiry; and therefore he should not vote either for or against the Motion.
§ MR. TITE
said, he would admit that the Corporation had carried out its improvements in an efficient manner, but submitted that the Metropolitan Board was equally well qualified to perform its duties. He doubted whether the Corporation had £350,000 to expend upon the proposed work. But, after all, the important thing was to have the new street made and opened as soon as possible, and he only asked the House to give somebody the power to set about it at once.
§ MR. ALDERMAN SIDNEY
said, he hoped the hon. Member for the City of London would withdraw his Amendment. He thought the City, by its representatives, had acted very unwisely in the case, and that they were altogether wrong in the views which they had taken. He did not participate in the feeling which had been expressed by the Lord Mayor that the Metropolitan Board were a foreign body in the metropolis, for they were a body established by Parliament and elected by the ratepayers. Parliament had intrusted that Board not only with the management of the sewers in the metropolitan district, but of the City; and he did not see what objection there could be to their making a new street, which was more for metropolitan than for City purposes. Besides, considering the immense number of improvements which required to be made in the City, he did not think the Corporation were justified in offering to expend £350,000 when Parliament did not ask them for a single farthing. Among the much-needed and loudly-demanded City improvements might be mentioned a new meat market on the site of Smithfield, the widening of Newgate Street, Tower Street, Thames Street, and the 1714 Poultry, the re-arrangement of Billingsgate Market, and the filling-up of the Holborn valley. There appeared to be work enough for the Corporation. On the other hand", he could not go along with the hon. Member for Lambeth (Mr. Doulton) in his sweeping denunciations of the Corporation, whose accounts were laid before Parliament annually, and who had always been faithful and honourable in their dealings. He had recently stood up in his place to defend the privileges of the City, and would do so again if necessary; but the making of a new street from the Mansion House to Blackfriars did not appear to him to be a question of principle. He regarded it rather as one of expediency. When he knew that the new street would be, not only for the convenience of the metropolis, but for the convenience of the City; when he knew that the corporate funds were demanded for other improvements, he thought that instead of rejecting the wise and considerate measure before the House, and giving up a large sum for the privilege of not being interfered with, the Corporation ought to concur in the decision of the Committee.
said, that the government of the Corporation of the City of London was the most costly of any in the world. It cost more than the management of the army, the navy, and the public debt. The Corporation asked to be allowed to make the street to a great degree at their own expense, and they would, if the House agreed to the Amendment, do nothing of the kind. They would make it out of the coal tax, which was no more the property of the City than it was his own. He should oppose the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clause 1 (Board to make new Street).
said, he had to propose a verbal Amendment with a view of providing that the street should he of an equal width.
said, it was important that a street which would be lined with lofty houses should be of sufficient breadth. The new Victoria Street, Westminster, was only seventy feet wide, and he was informed 1715 that it was too narrow. It would be a great misfortune if they allowed the proposed great thoroughfare to be made without securing that it should be of an adequate width. He therefore proposed that the street should be eighty feet wide. The width of the embankment would be one hundred feet.
§ MR. CRAWFORD
said, he wished to know what additional cost would be entailed by the alteration. An increase of ten feet in the width would invalidate the calculations originally made, and would reduce the amount to be obtained from the sale of frontages and sites.
said, he had no doubt the change would cause a considerable increase to the estimate, but the money would be well spent. If they were to lay out £680,000 in the formation of what was to be one of the handsomest streets in London, it would be poor economy to make it seventy instead of eighty feet wide.
§ SIR JOHN SHELLEY
said, it might be well to have the now thoroughfare wider than Victoria Street; but when they remembered the value of land per foot in the City of London, he thought such an extraordinary proposal to increase the expense ought not to come before the House, as it did, by a kind of surprise. Had the right hon. Gentleman the concurrence of the Select Committee in the matter? Moreover, they ought to have a definite estimate of the extra cost of the additional width before they were asked to assent to it.
§ MR. LOCKE
said, he thought New Cannon Street was none too wide, and that it would be of advantage to make the uncompleted part of the proposed thoroughfare as wide as possible consistently with the funds available for the purpose. The present enormous traffic through the City would no doubt go on increasing, and it would be a false economy not to provide fully for its accommodation.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, the right hon. Gentleman had not yet answered the distinct question which had been put to him— namely, whether he had taken any means to inform himself of what would be the additional cost of carrying out the alteration which he had proposed? Whether that additional cost amounted to £100,000 or 1716 not, it must be very large. The fund available for these works was limited, and ought not to be wasted. It was preposterous to suppose that anybody wanted a street of that enlarged width, and, if made, it would be necessary to employ a gardener to keep down the growth of weeds in it. Finsbury Park, which would afford convenience and relaxation to a million of people, was in abeyance for want of funds, and now they proposed to squander their resources on a street to be made for the wealthiest part of the community, and of a magnitude that could not be wanted for the purpose of traffic.
§ LORD FERMOY
said, he should vote against the proposition, because he was satisfied they would have to pay a great deal too much for the extra width, and they could not afford it.
said, he must deny that the street was to be made merely for the accommodation of the West End. Cannon Street, with all its width, was frequently blocked up. As a ratepayer of the City of London, he hoped the proposal for making the street eighty instead of seventy feet wide would be agreed to.
§ MR. COX
said, that if any one would take his station at the corner of Queen Street, where it intersected Cannon Street, and look right and left, he would hardly ever see fifty vehicles of any kind within sight. He thought, that unless the new street stopped at Cannon Street, it would not only be useless, but it would create a positive nuisance, by completely blocking up the end of the Poultry.
said, he was sorry he had omitted to bring the matter, as he intended to have done, before the Committee on the Bill. He would not, however, press the Amendment at that time.
§ MR. CRAWFORD
said, that the amended scheme would occupy at least 2,000 additional square yards, which would cost not less than £100,000. After the manner in which such a proposition had been I introduced, it would be necessary for the Committee to watch very narrowly every change that was proposed in the Bill.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause agreed to: as were also Clauses 2 to 7 inclusive.
§ Clause 8 (Power to make Subway.— Its maintenance).
§ MR. CRAWFORD
said, that he had an Amendment to propose of some importance. 1717 The clause provided that the subway—an arched passage underneath the new street, in which gas and water pipes, telegraph wires, &c., were to be placed — a most useful and desirable improvement—should, with the various accesses to it, be vested in the Metropolitan Board of Works. He proposed that the subway, as well as the surface of the street, should be vested in the Commissioners of Sewers of the City of London—a body having charge generally of the streets. In his evidence, Mr. Heywood, engineer to the Commissioners of Sewers, had shown the inconvenience of the arrangement under the Bill. The only argument that could be offered against his proposal was, that as the Metropolitan Board of Works had the charge of the main sewer which would run under a part of the street from Blackfriars to Cannon Street, therefore the subway also should be under their control. He could not see the force of that argument, as when once the sewer was made there would be seldom any occasion to do anything to it. He thought it would be most convenient that the charge of the subway should be vested in the Commissioners of Sewers for the City of London, who wore to be intrusted with the management of the surface of the street. He would therefore move a verbal Amendment to carry out that proposition.
§ MR. W. CUBITT
said, he was of opinion, that as the subway would contain the gas and water pipes and telegraph wires, the control over it should be left to the Commissioners of Sewers. It was for the interest of the public—which was the point to be considered — that the main sewer should be left in the hands of the Metropolitan Board of Works, and that the subway should be controlled by the City, with ample powers reserved to the Metropolitan Board to enable them to perform any necessary operations connected with it.
§ MR. DOULTON
said, as the hon. Member for London (Mr. Crawford) rested his proposition on the authority of Mr. Heywood, he would meet it with the same authority. Mr. Heywood, before the Committee, admitted that if the sewer were to be constructed under the subway, and that sewer was under the management of the Metropolitan Board of Works, then the control of the subway should be in the same body. It would be a very inconvenient arrangement, and one likely to lead to great complications, if the Subway and the 1718 sewer were to be placed under the authority of different Boards. The City of London would be, in regard to the subway, in the same position as the parishes in Southwark, and what would be said if they were to come to Parliament to ask for the control of the subways under the streets, simply because the surface of the streets was under their management? [Mr. CRAWFORD: Hear, hear!] In the case under consideration the subway would extend the whole length of the embankment, and therefore it would be manifestly inconvenient to have one portion under the control of the Metropolitan Board of Works, and another under that of the Commissioners of Sewers.
§ MR. W. CUBITT
said, it was most important that the subway should be free for the use of any persons whom the Corporation might deem it right to authorize— gas, water, and telegraph companies. The Metropolitan Board of Works could have nothing to do with allowing such arrangements in the City of London; and therefore, if they had the charge of the subway, some difficulties would arise in that respect.
remarked, that what was desired was unity of management and consolidation of power. After the discussion which took place in the Committee, he had arrived at the conclusion that the Bill as it stood was right, and that the subway should be left in the hands of the Metropolitan Board of Works, who were to make the main sewer that would run under it for two-thirds of its length.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clause 9 agreed to.
§ Clause 10 (Ground laid open into new Street to form Part thereof; Street to be under Commissioners of Sewers.)
§ MR. CRAWFORD
observed, that the clause as it stood provided that the Chairman of the Board which was to perform the work was to sign the certificate that the work had been satisfactorily executed—thus in fact certifying as to its own acts. That appeared to be an irregular mode of proceeding; and he would propose, as an Amendment, that the certificate should be signed by the Chief Commissioner of works.
said, he agreed with the hon-Member, that there was an awkwawardness about the clause as it stood. It would be better to call in an impartial 1719 authority to decide any difference of opinion between the body which had executed the work and the body to which it was to be transferred. He did not wish to impose on the Chief Commissioner of Works such a duty, but he had been unable to find any other authority more suitable; but if one could be suggested, he would willingly accede to its insertion in the clause. At the same time, the person who would fill the office of Chief Commissioner of Works at the time when the street was completed would probably be a person unconnected with the arrangements, and quite impartial in the matter. If no better authority could be named, he should not object to the Amendment proposed by the hon. Member for London.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, that the Chairman was only to give his certificate when the street was completed, the object being that there should be an official document for the purpose of subsequent reference, in order that the City might know the exact date on which its title began. He thought that to set up a new tribunal would lead to a great deal of difficulty, and that the Bill was much better as it stood.
§ MR. COX
said, the clause provided that the certificate should be conclusive evidence for all purposes, though it was to be given by the Chairman of the Board which executed the work. He thought that the first Commissioner of Works, being an impartial person, might very properly give this certificate.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ MR. CRAWFORD
said, he thought it highly desirable not to leave it to the tender mercies of the Board of Works to give the new street any name they pleased. In some cases, he believed, they had applied their own distinguished names to streets. He did not suppose that they would attempt to do so in that case, but it would be desirable that there should be a Parliamentary sanction to the name; and he would therefore move, as an addition to the clause, "that the said street shall be called and known hereafter as Mansion HouseStreet."
§ SIR JOHN SHELLEY
said, that the gentlemen of the City seemed to have a 1720 great horror of the Metropolitan Board. The Lord Mayor talked of them as though they were Red Indians, and called them a foreign body. Now, it should be remembered that that dangerous Board represented a large mass of people in the metropolis, of which the City constituted but a small proportion. If the new street was to be the great link between Westminster and the City, surely they could find some better name for it than that proposed. He would rather call it "Crawford Street," for the City had no more energetic and able member than the hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, there was one fatal objection to the name of "Mansion House Street"—namely, that the citizens would never be able to pronounce it. Supposing that, after a long course of education, they conquered this difficulty, the name would still be suggestive of the worst feature of the Corporation. He recollected that the oldest writer who visited the City of London said he had seen many curious things within the City, but the most curious was the extraordinary amount of provision which was to be found there, and the wonderful power of the citizens in eating it. "Mansion House Street" would only suggest that one faculty of the Corporation. The hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Alderman Sidney) was learned in the history of the City, for he had told them the other night many historic circumstances, and, among others, how they behaved in their cups; and could he not give some historic name for the street. For instance, there was Whittington—and also his cat. Why not call it Cat Street? Or there was the noble Lord the patron of the improvement, who was so anxious that it should be effected; let him be put into the new street. Why should not his name be identified with it? It would be a compliment worthy of his administration. But if there was any delicacy on the part of the noble Lord, let them have intellect represented; as there were many men of great fame who might be commemorated. Mansion House Street! He had hoped that before that time the Mansion House would have been converted into a railway station, and that the people at large would have been able to buy penny buns there instead of the Corporation feasting away all its resources. The supporters of the Corporation made very strong speeches in that House; but the conclusion of all corporate proceedings put him very much in mind of the theory of the Brahmin, that the 1721 world rested on an elephant's back, and that this animal had for his supports a turtle under each leg. He hoped his hon. Friend would not persist in his Motion. If he did, he (Mr. Ayrton) would move the substitution of the name of the noble Lord at the head of the Government.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, he thanked the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets for the compliment, but, with every desire for posthumous fame, he thought the baptism of the new street ought to be left to the proper sponsors.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to.
§ Remaining Clausaa agreed to.
§ House resumed.
§ Bill reported; as amended, to be considered To-morrow.