HC Deb 18 July 1864 vol 176 cc1617-22

Order for Third Reading read.

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


on behalf of the City of London, objected to the further progress of the Bill. It was one of a class of Bills which the corporation of London felt it their duty to take exception to at a very early period of the Session. The Bill was not one promoted by any authorized Company, but was promoted by certain individuals for the purpose of making a railway along the Thames Embankment and the new street to Cannon Street, and from thence, by tunnelling, to the Tower, The corporation objected to the proposal to carry the railway from Cannon Street, and they also objected to it because it was intended by this Private Bill to deprive the City Gas Company of certain rights which had been reserved to it by the Thames Embankment Act, which was a public Act. They further said that the merits of the Bill had not been duly considered by the Select Committee, three days only having been devoted to it. They objected also to it on account of its dealing with a vast amount of private property; and as the railway would pass under substantial build- ings in one of the most crowded parts of the City, great danger was likely to result from the undertaking, unless further examination and inquiry were afforded. They represented, that so far from this undertaking relieving the streets from their present enormous traffic, it would increase it, and therefore it was an unwise and an unnecessary thing to allow the railway to be made. Already the streets, especially Fleet Street, were blocked up with vehicles, owing to the gigantic works that were now being carried out in the City of London, so that it was a great inconvenience to those who had business in the City, in consequence of the delay that took place from the over-crowding of Fleet Street; and they said that that obstruction might be indefinitely increased if this gigantic work was allowed to be carried out at the same time. Moreover, they said that the Bill, if carried, would deprive the City Gas Company from having their 50,000 tons of coal, which they consumed annually, brought by water, and they would be compelled to obtain it, to a considerable extent, by carting it through the streets. The objection would not be so great to the Bill if the proposed line stopped at Cannon Street, and the corporation asked for time in order that the House might consider an alternative plan propounded by the City for connecting the embankment with the London, Dover, and Chatham Railway at Blackfriars. The promoters of the Bill were entitled to no commiseration. There was no company in the case—the scheme was the property of a well known Parliamentary solicitor and equally well-known railway contractors, who had complied with the Standing Orders of the House by depositing borrowed money; and he complained that the Select Committee had not directed the attention of the House to the fact of its not being a bonâ fide scheme. He moved that the Bill be read the third time that day month.


seconded the Motion.

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

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


said, the hon. Member for the City had in his speech mixed up two questions—one, the question of Order; and the other, the merits of the Bill. That was a somewhat inconvenient course, and he asked the hon. Member whether it would not be better to get rid of the first objection before entering on the merits of the Bill.


said, he would adopt that course.


having recited the provisions of the Bill, said, that as there was an exact case in point, where the City of Bristol by a Private Act repealed certain provisions in a public Act, this Bill could not be stopped on a point of Order.


said, that if the Bill were thrown out the inhabitants of the metropolis, with the exception of the City corporation, would be greatly prejudiced, and he expressed a hope that the House would not listen to the opposition of the corporation. The proposed line formed part of a complete system of circular metropolitan railways, which it was desirable should be carried out for the benefit of the whole of the metropolis, and a most inconvenient gap would be created in the system if this Bill should be thrown out.


said, that the majority of merchants, bankers, and traders of London, as well as the corporation, were opposed to this Bill. He might say that all who had business in the City were opposed to it.


said, that the promoters of the Bill had proposed certain compensations and arrangements with the Gas Company, with which the Company were perfectly satisfied. So far from the 50,000 tons of coal consumed annually by the Gas Company impeding the traffic of the streets, there was no difficulty in foreseeing that it would be brought by railways. It was true the line was laid out for passenger traffic only, but there was no reason why they should not carry their coal at nights. He believed it was the plan of all railways to carry their goods traffic on at night. At all events, he thought he might venture to say that but little of the 50,000 tons of coal would come on the streets of London. It had been objected that the Bill had not been brought in by a company, but by individuals. But, with regard to these Private Bills, he apprehended all Parliament had to do was to consider whether the scheme was one likely to prove beneficial to the public, and not with reference to the promoters, and he never knew of any difficulty in finding money for a line that was likely to pay. The principal objection to the Bill really was, the amount of property that would be destroyed in its construction. He was not surprised at the general feeling that prevailed early in the Session with reference to the land required for the different schemes in the City, but there was far greater fear than knowledge on the subject, arising from a belief that all the land scheduled must be taken and occupied by the railways. Of the four schemes, two had been rejected, and one had been considerably curtailed. In reality the amount of property to be taken by this gigantic undertaking, as it had been called, was 197 houses, all of which, with the exception of 19, would be rebuilt when the works were completed. He was rather surprised that the hon. Member for the City had not mentioned what the present Bill proposed to do for the relief of the obstruction of the streets. The railway would also be carried out in such a way that its construction would be coincident with that of the drainage works, which otherwise must be carried under Cannon Street, and thus any interference with that important thoroughfare would be prevented. The reason why the Bill did not occupy the Committee so long as the others was, that they had already considered substantially the same questions. He wished to say one word with respect to the alternative plan which had been put forward by the corporation. He confessed that he was distrustful of alternative plans which were put forward by parties who were not bound to execute them, and which were often started at the last moment more in order to hold out some sort of expectation to the Committee, that if the scheme before them was rejected some other one would be adopted, rather than with a view to any actual operations. He objected to that alternative plan, in the first place, because it would interfere with a great deal of very valuable property not touched by the line which the Committee had passed; and he objected to it, in the second place, because it would place the City on a branch line instead of including it in the main line. He should add that the general plan of an inner circle had been suggested by the Lords' Committee of 1863, and had received the sanction of the Joint Committee of both Houses which sat this year. In conclusion, he had to state that he believed no other scheme would give so much accommodation to the trade of London with so small an interference with the street traffic or with private property as the one embodied in the Bill. As the other House would have the opportunity of considering the Bill, and of hearing what its opponents had to say, he hoped the House would not reject it at this the last stage, but allow it to go where argument and evidence could be heard on both sides, and where the objections entertained to it could be fairly weighed.


said, that every person with whom he had conversed upon the subject entertained the belief that it would be most unwise for the present to bring more railways into the heart of London. He did not see how the other House could give this Bill proper consideration at this period of the Session; and all that the opponents of the Motion before the House asked was that the question should be again considered in another Session.


drew attention to the fact that the promoters of this Bill had made a deposit of stock borrowed for the occasion, a proceeding which a Select Committee had just pronounced to be an evasion of the spirit if not of the letter of the Standing Orders. Under all the circumstances of the case, he thought the House ought not then to pass the measure.


said, that this particular scheme had been considered both by the Joint Committee of Lords and Commons and by the Committee of that House presided over by the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley), and the noble Lord's name was a sufficient guarantee that the duties of the Committee had been efficiently performed. Two important bodies, the corporation of London and the Metropolitan Board of Works, represented by able counsel, had opposed the line, but without convincing the Committee that it was a bad one. It was for the other House, and not for them, to say whether or not the subject could be properly investigated before the Session closed. As to the deposit of borrowed money, although a Select Committee had condemned the practice, he was sure it was not intended, and would be rather hard, to give retrospective effect to the recommendation of the Committee, especially as the practice had been tacitly acquiesced in by the House for some years. As the opponents of the Bill would be able to state their case in the other House, he saw no reason why that House should reverse the decision of their Committee, and hoped the Bill would be read a third time.


said, that he had been a Member of the Committee, and had gone into it with opinions rather averse to the scheme embodied in the Bill; but the evidence which had been adduced subsequently led him to the conclusion that it was the very best which had been devised for meeting the requirements of metropolitan traffic.


believed that the amount of injury done by this railway to the City would be much less than was supposed, but he thought it would be wise to postpone the Bill until next Session, when they would have had the opportunity of seeing the progress of other works.

Question, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question," put, and agreed to.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read 3o, and passed.