HC Deb 08 March 1864 vol 173 cc1634-48

rose to call attention to the Report of the Select Committee on Railway Schemes within, the limits of the metropolis, and to move that, according to the recommendation of the Committee, certain Bills be not proceeded with in the present Session. He would state to the House the result of the labours of the Joint Committee of the two Houses of Parliament, appointed to consider the railway schemes affecting the metropolis. The Joint Committee had received evidence which they thought material to the objects they had to consider, and sufficient to enable them to discharge the duty confided to them. At the outset of their inquiry they eliminated from their list of railway schemes such as appeared to them might be proceeded with in the ordinary course on their own merits. Those schemes were generally merely improvements of railways already authorized, and had for their object such matters as the making of junctions, giving greater station accommodation, rendering curves less dangerous and inclines easier. These Bills, about ten in number, were at once set free, and were now proceeding in the ordinary course. The Committee had then to consider what lines ought not to be proceeded with, and they selected eight, which, not being of an urgent character, might very well be postponed to a future Session. It must be remembered that the Committee did not absolutely condemn any of these schemes—did not pronounce any opinion, on the merits, inasmuch as they could only hear one side and receive primâ facie evidence—the object for which they were appointed was to see whether, taking into account the enormous number of schemes affecting the metropolis, it would not be prudent to postpone some of them for future consideration. Among the schemes which were to be dealt with was the "Victoria Station and Thames Embankment Railway," which was proposed to be constructed on the pneumatic system. The objection to this scheme was twofold—first, that the pneumatic principle was untried for the conveyance of passengers; and secondly, that the lines between which it was to form a link were worked upon the ordinary system of locomotives. For these reasons it appeared to the Committee that this Bill ought not to be proceeded with this Session. The Oxford Street and City Railway was also proposed to be made on the pneumatic principle, and was postponed on the ground, that the principle had not been tried, and that a great metropolitan thoroughfare like Oxford Street was not the place in which the experiment should be first tried. It was thought also that the "London Main Trunk Underground Railway" might be postponed. That scheme proposed, among other things, to make a new station for the Great Eastern. But the Great Eastern proposed, by a Bill of its own, to make such a station west from its present position, according to the recommendation of the Lords' Committee of last year. The Bill to which he was referring, however, proposed to tap the Great Eastern two or three miles down the main line, and to bring its traffic direct into the metropolis. The Committee thought that the Great Eastern should be allowed to make its own proposition to Parliament. The "Charing Cross (Northern)" was recommended to be postponed on account of the great works now in progress throughout London to connect the London, Chatham and Dover with Farringdon Street, and so with the Great Northern and Midland; and the "Charing Cross (Western)," because in their view it proposed to throw an unnecessary bridge across the Thames, and was, in fact, in conflict with a great principle which the Committee of last year, and the Committee of the present year, thought it desirable to keep in view—namely, that of distributing the local traffic of the metropolis by an inner circle of railways. As for the "London Union Railways," if any one would look at the map he would see that that scheme, if any, would bear postponement. It did not propose to accomplish any one object which the promoters of metropolitan railways thought important. The "Tottenham and Farringdon Street Railway" was also proposed to be postponed, on the ground that time should be given to see by experience what would be the effect of the increased traffic now brought to Farringdon Street before any further progress was made in establishing there a great central station.

When the Joint Committee was proposed it was thought to be a very exceptional proceeding, and he, himself, though he proposed it, was under the impression that such a course ought to be adopted only under extraordinary circumstances; for the principle that a Committee of this kind should stand as it were between the public and Parliament, between the subject and his right of being heard by Parliament, was a matter which deserved grave consideration before it was adopted. The Committee did not pronounce any opinion as to the merits of the several schemes—they simply considered what schemes might fairly be postponed for further consideration:—but in justice to the parties who might thus be prevented from proceeding during the present Session, it was proposed that the fees incurred on account of the Bills thus recommended to be postponed should be remitted. His hon. Friend the Member for the City (Mr. Crawford) was of opinion that the Joint Committee had not gone far enough, and would have had them put an end as it were to all metropolitan railway legislation during the present Session. [Mr. CRAWFORD: No, no!] At all events, that was the effect of the petition which had been placed in his hands by a deputation from a public meeting in the City, over which his hon. Friend presided, and which recommended that no new railway should be considered in the City of London during the present Session with the exception of the East London scheme, which was to connect the north with the south by way of the Thames Tunnel. But he must remind his hon. Friend that, if the course recommended by the Joint Committee was strong and exceptional, the course which his hon. Friend proposed of postponing the rest of the schemes was still stronger and more exceptional; because his hon. Friend would prevent the promoters from going on with their Bills, without having any evidence submitted to show that there was a case for postponement. The Joint Committee had an opportunity of hearing some of the most competent men in London upon the subject of metropolitan railway communication, and had before it the Reports of the Board of Trade and of Mr. Bazalgette, engineer of the Metropolitan Board of "Works, and the evidence of the engineer of the Commissioners of Sewers. Mr. Haywood, the engineer of the City, though he said that the construction of some of the proposed railways would interfere with the sewers, and seriously disturb the traffic during the time of their construction, added that, on the whole, one or two of them would be of very great benefit to the City. And when the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley) asked, whether he would look upon the present overcrowding of the City, which could not be relieved to any considerable degree by the opening of new streets, as an evil as great as the temporary interruption caused by the making of the lines, Mr. Haywood said that, considering the population of London doubled in thirty-seven years, and that the demand for means of transit increased in a still greater degree, he could not see how the increasing demands of traffic could be satisfied without railways. New streets would cost a million a mile in the metropolis, and where were the funds to come from? This gentleman then went on to say, in reference to the necessity of giving greater facility of communication to the mass of people, whose business led them into the City of London every day, that the population within a certain radius round the commercial centre of London—that was, the City—was as dense as it could possibly be, that the increase of population was filling up the space beyond the radius, and the distance between the homes of people and the City would become so great, that railways would be the only means to enable them to go to and from their residences. The Committee had evidence to show that cheap and frequent communication would be required by the labouring population from their homes to the places of their business, and therefore the Committee did not feel at liberty to say that no railway whatever, interfering with the City of London, should be proceeded with during the present Session. They thought that the inner circle system of railways for the metropolis presented great advantages; and, therefore, seeing that a portion of that inner circle system must pass through the City of London, they did not feel themselves at liberty to break that link, which they thought so necessary for the circulation of traffic in the metropolis, merely because a portion of the inner circle passed through the City of London. His hon. Friend the Member for the City of London proposed that, before anything was done in London, and before any new works were undertaken, some Commission of Inquiry, composed of distinguished men, should be appointed. The petition suggested, he believed, that the engineers of the Board of Trade, the engineer of the Board of Works, and the engineer of the Commissioners of Sewers for the City of London, should be appointed to consider what railway schemes would be most advantageous for the City of London, and that until they had considered the wants of the City and the best mode of providing for them, no private projectors should be allowed to proceed in that House with any railway Bill relating to London. He was at issue with his hon. Friend on that proposal. The House might appoint a Commission to consider the best mode of constructing some great public works which the State was about to execute and provide funds for; but, he contended, that to appoint a Commission to indicate the best railways that could be constructed in the City of London would be doing very little, unless they could also tell what parties were likely to come forward to give effect to the recommendations of the Commission. The Commissioners might recommend, but the projectors of schemes—who regarded their own profits—would not be bound by the recommendation of the Commissioners. He believed that the far better course was to leave to private enterprize and to private projectors, as had always been done in this country, the suggestion of such schemes as those projectors thought best calculated to promote their own interest and the public advantage at the same time. It would still be the duty of the House, before granting powers to carry out the schemes of any of these private projectors, to examine fully into the matter in order to guard against powers being granted which would interfere with private rights in a way not demanded by the exigencies of the public interest. He believed that the rule always acted on in this country, to leave these undertakings to be carried into execution by private enterprize, was the best and safest rule; and, therefore, he must rather demur to the proposition of his hon. Friend the Member for the City of London, that the House should defer all proceedings in reference to railways in London until some Commission had indicated what were the best lines and made a Report to Parliament. He hoped that he might safely appeal to the House of Commons to support the Resolutions to which the Joint Committee of both Houses had come. It might be said that the Committee did not sit for a very long period of time. But they sat long enough, at any rate, for the object in view. They sat from day to day, and there was no loss of time by hearing long speeches from counsel, by putting irrelevant questions to witnesses, or by the examination of witnesses who had but little information to give. The time devoted to the consideration of the subject was well and fully employed, and he believed that the Joint Committee, unanimous as they were on every point but one, which was whether a particular line should be postponed, came to a wise and well considered decision, which, he trusted, would be supported by the House. It was impossible for any Member addressing the House to explain the details of particular railway schemes. A great deal of matter of this kind must be taken on authority; and he contended that a Committee of both Houses was an authority whose advice might be safely taken. He therefore appealed to hon. Members to give him that support which would enable him to pass the Resolutions of which he had given notice.

Motion made, and Question proposed,

"That the following Bills be not proceeded with in the present Session—namely, Victoria Station and Thames Embankment Railway, Oxford Street and City Railway, London Main Trunk Underground Railway, Charing Cross (Northern) Railway, Charing Cross (Western) Railway, Tottenham and Hampstead Junction Railway (Extension to Charing Cross), London Union Railways, Tottenham and Farringdon Street Railway."—(Mr. Milner Gibson.)


referring to the London Main Trunk Underground Railway Bill, said, he wished the decision of the Joint Committee to be reversed with respect to that Bill. It had long been a question of grave consideration how they could remove the working people from the crowded places where they were compelled to live and frequently were compelled to labour, and also to relieve the more densely populated parts of the metropolis. By the extension proposed by this line, the Metropolitan Railway would be extended through the dense parts of the eastern side of the City of London, and still further eastwards, in order to connect that line with the system of railways now existing in the east of London and brought to a focus at Bow Common. The object of this line was to enable people to go from the centre of the metropolis to that part where they could be most conveniently and economically located. He found, on looking at the Reports of the Committee of the House of Lords, of the Metropolitan Board of Works, and of other bodies who had investigated the subject, that, so far from this scheme conflicting with any Report which had been made, it was entirely in accordance with all the requirements imposed on directors of railways. The Committee of the House of Lords expressly recommended that railways in London should be carried out by tunnels under ground; and that it was desirable to connect the east and west ends by railways, as well as the north and south of London. All this was accomplished by the scheme he now referred to; and the Report of the Metropolitan Board of Works, and the engineer of the Board of Trade, made no objection to it. But the Joint Committee, without hearing evidence, as they had been told, came to the conclusion that this railway should not be proceeded with, and they recommended that another railway, having a somewhat similar object, should be sent to a Select Committee. Now, since the Joint Committee made their Report the other scheme had been withdrawn, and the result would be, if this were post- poned, that the only scheme for the part of London he had mentioned could not be inquired into, and many important interests would consequently be neglected. The scheme which the Committee said ought to be rejected was the very scheme which accomplished the most important recommendation of the Lords' Committee; and unless it was allowed to proceed, the working classes would have no chance of that main line from east to west, which would be such an advantage to them. The fact was, the Joint Committee had condemned the very line which was necessary as a link in order to carry out their recommendation in favour of an outer circle railway. This line would secure to the working classes ready access from the centre of the metropolis where they were employed to a district where they could procure comparatively cheap and healthy house accommodation. He therefore moved that Nos. 1 and 2 schemes of the Main Trunk Underground Railway should be exempted from the Motion for rejection.

Amendment proposed, after the words "London Main Trunk Underground Railway," to insert the words "except Schemes Nos. 1 and 2."—(Mr. Ayrton.)

Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and negatived.


then moved an Amendment, that the Charing Cross (Western) Railway be omitted from the list of Bills which it was proposed should not be proceeded with during the present Session. The Joint Committee appeared to have had two favourite schemes, both of which went up the Thames Embankment. Now, he was of opinion that that was not the proper direction which they ought to take, and that it would have been much better to adopt the scheme which the right hon. Gentleman proposed to reject. It was clear that if the railways were to be made under the Thames Embankment, either the works of the latter must he suspended during the construction of the railway, or they must all be carried on at the same time and under the same direction. Another objection was, that the schemes accepted did not carry out the principle recommended by the Lords' Committee of last year for the northern side of London. The House of Lords' Committee recommended a circular railway, and indicated where it might go—that it should not join but go near the large railways, so that passengers could readily go from one station to the other. On this side of the river that principle would not be carried out. They passed from the Victoria Station to Cannon Street, passing by the Houses of Parliament and destroying all the sewers in that part of London. Now, if they had taken the Charing Cross Extension, which had already cost £3,000,000, they might have crossed the Thames at the far end of the Houses of Parliament, and have gone direct to the South Western Railway, connecting Belgravia and all the western districts with the South Western Railway, and then they would have been able to communicate with the Brighton Station and the South Eastern Station in Cannon Street. The scheme of taking the railway up the Thames Embankment was so bad, that there would be only fifteen feet below it for the purpose of railway, and the result would be that the tunnel would not be more than twelve feet in diameter—that was to say, in depth. That was not a proper depth for a tunnel; and it would be one of the greatest nuisances conceivable if the railway was to be carried the whole way from Kensington to the City entirely underground.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the words "Charing Cross (Western) Railway."—(Sir Joseph Paxton.)


said, he felt some delicacy, having been a member of the Joint Committee, in asking the House to accept their conclusions without further discussion; but he thought, considering the nature of the questions which had been considered, the House had no other option unless it was prepared to refer the whole matter over again to some other tribunal. These were mainly questions of detail; they were very complicated, and he defied any man, whatever his ability or experience, to make them intelligible to an assembly like the House of Commons without the aid of maps and plans. He wished to remind the hon. Member for Coventry (Sir Joseph Paxton), that the Joint Committee had not taken upon themselves either absolutely to sanction or absolutely to condemn any of these competing schemes. It would have been impossible for them to do so without taking evidence and hearing counsel pro and con; and if they had done that, their sittings would have lasted the whole Session, in which case the practical result would have been the postponement of all the Bills till next year. They had simply struck out certain projects, not because they were bad in themselves, but because they did not appear to them to press urgently for consideration; and it was a matter of importance that the traffic of London should not be interrupted by the construction of a vast number of lines simultaneously. There were others for which they thought the primâ facie case was stronger, and these they had proposed should be sent before ordinary Private Bill Committees; but they had in no sense given them their sanction. If the House accepted their decision, those Bills would be inquired into in the usual manner; the objections of opponents, if any, would have their due weight, and, if the Bills were thrown out next year, the other competitors for supplying London with railways would have an opportunity of having their schemes examined. He had not heard from the hon. Member for Coventry a single consideration which had not been discussed by the Joint Committee; and, upon the whole, he would advise the House not to attempt the impossible task of discussing these schemes in detail, but to accept the decision of a tribunal appointed by both branches of the Legislature.


said, he had opposed the appointment of the Joint Committee, but as they had appointed it, he thought the only course the House could pursue was to take their Report for what it was worth. He blamed the Committee not for what they had done, but for what they had left undone. Many of the schemes which they had recommended should be sent upstairs, might very fairly have been rejected. The wisest course would have been to stop all railway legislation for the metropolis this year, for then the whole question could have been discussed in a thoroughly satisfactory manner. One of the schemes which were to be allowed to proceed was recommended by the Joint Committee, not on account of its merits as a railway, but because its projectors proposed to make a new street through St. Giles's. It might be desirable that the new street should be made; but did any man in his senses believe that the railway company could afford to make it out of their share capital? If a Commission had been appointed, the subject of a new street through St. Giles's would have been considered in a more satisfactory manner than it could possibly be by a Private Bill Committee upstairs. He hoped, however, that the Private Committee would bear in mind the statement just made by the noble Lord opposite (Lord Stanley), that it was not to be taken for granted that every Bill sent upstairs had received the approval of the Joint Committee. The Joint Committee had simply knocked certain schemes on the head, and, indeed, he inferred from the tone of the noble Lord, that hopes were entertained that many of the projects sent upstairs would be rejected also.

Question "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question," put, and agreed to.


moved, after "Tottenham and Farringdon Street Railway," to add, "and so much of the Metropolitan District Railways Bill, No. 33, as refers to the proposed works situated to the eastward of Blackfriars Bridge, together with the Metropolitan District Railways Bill, No. 34." He did not rise for the purpose of complaining of the decisions of the Committee, and his proposition would not increase the number of Bills to be sent upstairs, but would make an addition to the list of schemes postponed. "What he and the citizens of London generally objected to was, that the subjects had been referred to the Committee in so limited a manner as to preclude the Committee from considering very important matters in connection with the trade and commerce of the City of London. What he sought was to include among the rejected schemes so much of the Metropolitan District Railways Bill as referred to the district between Blackfriars Bridge and the Tower. The line was to pass along the new street to the point of junction with Cannon Street, then to proceed eastward by the station of the South Eastern Company, past the statue of King William, and thence through Eastcheap and Tower Street till it reached the neighbourhood of the Tower. It was not possible for the ingenuity of any railway engineer to have laid out a line which would interfere more than this would in the course of construction with the trade and commerce of the City. Hon. Members had noticed the obstructions in Piccadilly caused by the works connected with the main drainage, and some of them would have seen the interference with the traffic in the New Road while works of the Metropolitan Railway were going on. Now it was proposed to introduce a similar inconvenience into the City of London, to the entire obstruction of trade along the whole line which the railway proposed to take. One reason why the Thames Embankment scheme found favour with the House was, that it would do away with the construction of the low level sewer along the Strand; and if the Strand was entitled to so much consideration, surely something might be said on behalf of the vast interests centered in the City of London along the line of this railway from Blackfriars Bridge to the Tower. The line was to be underground, it was true, but they knew the damage that was done to a large amount of property in the New Road and elsewhere by the construction of the Metropolitan Underground Railway. Could any one conceive it possible that a line could be constructed through the part of London he had mentioned without doing serious injury to the foundations of the enormous warehouses and buildings near which it would pass? But that was not the only ground upon which he asked the House to accede to his Motion. They would have shortly abutting upon the City no less than nine first class railway stations, some of them terminal, connecting the City with all parts of the country; and he thought experience would suggest that the better course would be to wait and see the effect produced upon the internal communication of London by those central stations, instead of committing themselves to the principle, that a great line of railway should be constructed through the heart of the City. He had read the evidence of the Committee of the House of Lords upon this subject, but not having seen the evidence taken before the Joint Committee he was scarcely inclined to accept its decision upon trust. He should have been content if the consideration of the whole question had been referred to a single individual of the great ability and intelligence of the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley), but it was too much to ask the representatives of great civic and commercial interests to assent at the will of five Gentlemen to schemes which would come upon their property and interfere seriously with their business. He had heard it stated that 800 houses had been purchased by one railway company in a part of the town where no large business was carried on, and that measure involved the turning out of house and home of many more than 800 families. He had already called attention to the hardship experienced by persons who came upon railways for compensation, and if any one desired to inquire into the extent of the loss and even ruin which small tradesmen and artisans suffered from the encroachments of railways, he referred them to the pages of the local newspapers, such as the City Press. The argument in favour of this railway was that it completed the inner circle; but if the Metropolitan District Railway were continued from the present terminus near the Great Western station, and brought round by Kensington and Brompton, near the Houses of Parliament and along the Thames embankment, it might be made to form a junction with the Chatham and Dover and Metropolitan Railways in Farringdon Street, thus completing the inner circle. Upon the ground of the great interference with the commerce of the City set forth in a petition from a public meeting held one day last week, he asked the House not to proceed further with the part of the scheme referred to in his Amendment.


in seconding the Amendment, said, that the question discussed at the meeting in the City was the real nature of the railway communication required by the commercial population, and it was stated distinctly that one line on the west, constructed by the great railways on the north in union, to take all the nothern traffic, and another on the east, the one described as the East London Railway, for the southern and continental trade, would give them all that they wanted. The question resolved itself into one of an inner circle for passenger traffic, and he was of opinion that, for public convenience, it would be better that this line should be stopped at Blackfriars Bridge, before it encroached upon the Thames embankment. The £1,000,000 expended to make the great street 100 feet wide to the Exchange, would be superseded by this railway being in exactly the same line with it. It was supposed, too, that all the passengers from Charing Cross to Cannon Street would be carried by the Charing Cross Railway, and facilities having been granted for the construction of that line, they should not interfere with it, at least until the subject had been well considered.

Amendment proposed, At the end of the Question, to add the words "and so much of the Metropolitan District Railways Bill, No. 33, as refers to the proposed works situated to the eastward of Blackfriars Bridge, together with the Metropolitan District Railways Bill, No. 34."—(Mr. Crawford.)


said, the main question which the Committee had to consider was, what lines should not be proceeded with. They took evidence specially on that point. When they came to the particular line to which his hon. Friend's Motion referred, they found they had not sufficient evidence to justify them in recommending that it should not be referred to a Select Committee of that House. If there was that strong case against the proposed scheme which his hon. Friend alleged to exist, the Committee, which would hear evidence on both sides, would not grant to the promoters the powers which were asked—namely, to interfere with lands or houses. That was his answer. His hon. Friend had given them no evidence except his own mere opinion. He had not adduced any authority why this line should not be heard; for, as the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley) very well put it, the Committee did not, as his hon. Friend the Member for the City stated, recommend or sanction this scheme; all they said was they had not sufficient evidence to justify them in refusing it a hearing. He was quite convinced that a Parliamentary Committee would weigh carefully all the considerations put forward by his hon. Friend, and he did not believe they would grant the powers asked unless the public convenience was so great as to countervail any private injury or inconvenience that individuals might be called upon to submit to. He would only state, that the public meeting of which his hon. Friend was Chairman, distinctly stated in their petition that they did not pretend to be acquainted with the exact details of all the metropolitan railway schemes now seeking the sanction of Parliament for their construction, and which contemplated taking houses and lands in the City; but, in common with nearly every person engaged in business, they thought before legislative sanction was accorded to their promoters, the most careful consideration should be given to the whole question. He entirely agreed with the language of that petition. The most careful consideration should be given to the question. They had commenced that careful consideration, and in reference to the lines to be proceeded with it would be continued before the Select Committee of the House. He, therefore, called on the House to support the finding of the Committee.


said, he believed that the alarm which had been excited in reference to these schemes was greatly exaggerated. He had given particular attention to this matter, and he was enabled to state that the whole property to be taken by the Metropolitan District Railway amounted to under fifteen acres, of which seven acres were along the Thames Embankment and the new street. There were eight acres of private property, of which six would be covered over and sold off, leaving only two acres to be permanently occupied by the line. There was, therefore, no cause for the alarm that was now said to exist.

Question put, "That those words be there added."

The House divided:—Ayes 76; Noes 277: Majority 201.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Ordered, That the following Bills be not proceeded with in the present Session—namely, Victoria Station and Thames Embankment Railway, Oxford Street and City Railway, London Main Trunk Underground Railway, Charing Cross (Northern) Railway, Charing Cross (Western) Railway, Tottenham and Hampstead Junction Railway (Extension to Charing Cross), London Union Railways, Tottenham and Farringdon Street Railway.

Ordered, That the Fees which have been incurred in respect of the said Bills be remitted.

Ordered, That the Report of the Joint Committee of Lords and Commons on Railway Schemes (Metropolis) be referred to all Select Committees to whom any Railway Bills within the limits of the Metropolis may be referred.—(Mr. Milner Gibson.)