HC Deb 16 June 1865 vol 180 cc360-3

moved that this Bill should be re-committed to the former Committee, and that they should proceed therewith on Monday next. The object was to make a broad road in the vicinity of Belgrave Square and the Brompton Road, near the South Kensington Museum, the length being about half a mile, and the minimum width eighty feet. That would require about eighteen acres, but the Commissioners proposed that it should be 150 feet wide, and for that purpose thirty acres would be wanted. The Estimate for the road simply was £220,000, but the capital to be taken for the whole of the improvements was £1,000,000 sterling, with debenture power beyond. The accidents which occurred at the time of the Great Exhibition, consequent upon the great amount of traffic through the present narrow thoroughfares, made it only surprising that the road had not been earlier made, and there was no doubt from the evidence taken before the Committee that the traffic since that time rendered the carrying out of the improvements contemplated by the Bill a very desirable object. The Chairman of the Committee himself had stated that sufficient witnesses had been called to prove the desirability of the new road. With regard to the objection to a private company carrying out the improvement, the ratepayers were already sufficiently taxed, the Board of Works, whose duty it was to carry out the improvement, had not the means of doing so, and the House had already affirmed the principle of empowering private persons to carry out public improvements, and for their own advantage, in the case of the Hyde Park Estate Gate Bill. It had been complained that the company had attempted to obtain too much land for the object proposed; but, in the case of Victoria Street, the construction of which was undertaken by a private company, the public suffered and the company became bankrupt entirely in consequence of insufficient land being taken; and, in the case of the Thames Embankment, the Board of Works were empowered to schedule a larger quantity of land than was absolutely required, in order that they might recoup themselves for the outlay. But the Committee, nevertheless, came to the conclusion that the company asked for more land than was wanted; and it was for the purpose of requiring them to reconsider that decision that he brought forward the present Motion. The directors of the company for making this road included the names of Mr. E. Wortley, M.P., Mr. Warner, M.P., Mr. Knight (of the firm of Smith, Knight, and Co.), Mr. Montague Baillie, and Mr. Astley, of Eaton Place, and the security for its completion comprised the Credit Foncier and Mobilier of England, with its capital of £2,000,000, and Messrs. Smith and Knight, with a paid-up capital of the same amount. The value of the property to be affected was £800,000, and the opponents only represented property to the amount of £20,000. The opponents were principally shopkeepers in the Brompton Road, who thought that the sale of their goods would be injured by people leaving the high road, and going by the wide street. There were some dwellings of the labouring classes which would be displaced, but if the poor desired to live in the midst of the rich they must be content to live, as in Paris, on floors of tall houses. The vestries of Chelsea and Kensington supported the measure, ten Members of Parliament had signed petitions in its favour, and he believed it was desired by the inhabitants of Belgravia generally.


seconded the Motion, and said this was one of those improvements which was originally designed by the Prince Consort, and if the Bill were not passed this Session, it must inevitably be carried during next year. Although the promoters of the Bill were not capitalists they were supported by a great financial company, which entered into agreement with them to carry out the measure in the event of the Bill passing. A clause might be inserted in the Bill compelling the company to build model lodging-houses for the accommodation of those whom they turned out of their homes.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the South Kensington New Road Bill be re-committed to the former Committee, and that they do proceed therewith upon Monday next."—(Mr. Henry Seymour.)


said, he must, as Chairman of the Committee, oppose the Motion. It was unfair that when a Committee unanimously rejected a Bill a Member of this House should come down and seek to get it re-committed. He denied that the Committee had stopped the case. They had simply intimated that witnesses should not be called to prove again and again the same point. The Committee did not think that sufficient evidence had been adduced to justify the interference with property which would be involved. The Committee objected to granting forty-five acres for the purpose of making an ornamented street which only required fifteen acres. This Bill was one of the weakest and worst supported that had ever come under his notice. In the case of the Hyde Park Estate Gate Bill, that came from the House of Lords and was sanctioned by the Committee. The Committee were the best judges of the expediency of passing such a Bill. It was a positive fact that the opponents of the measure could not find out who were its promoters. The total capital of the company was to be £1,000,000, and no proof had been adduced that they would be able to raise that sum. The proposal would involve the removal of the houses of a large number of poor people, and would inflict upon them a considerable amount of inconvenience and hardship. Not an archi- tect was produced to speak of the mode of laying down the proposed line. Nor were there any witnesses to prove the sufficiency of the estimates. Lord Cadogan, the chief landowner in the neighbourhood, petitioned against the Bill. The householders, who held leases of from fifteen to sixty years, had spent large sums in improving their property, for which, if handed over to the tender mercies of the Credit Foncier, they would have no prospect of adequate compensation. He voted for the second reading of the Bill, because it had come from the Lords.


said, that though as a Member of the Committee he felt the road would be a great public convenience, there were reasons which led the Committee to a strong opinion that the measure ought not to be sanctioned.


said, that it was at all times undesirable, except in very strong cases, to encourage appeals to the House from the decision of Committees, but that was more particularly the case at a late period of the Session, with respect to a Bill which was strongly opposed, and when the Committee was unanimous.


said, he should oppose the Motion, on the ground that it would be an extremely dangerous precedent to hand over private property to a company like the Credit Foncier, which had no connection with the locality to which the measure related. It was also a very objectionable process, and one calculated to bring discredit upon Parliament, to sanction Bills before the companies were formed. The scheme was promoted by strangers who had no claims to it. If such applications were allowed, no man's house would be his castle whenever a company got up a little capital for the purpose of turning him out.


said, that in consequence of the late period of the Session, he consented to withdraw his Motion.

Motion, by leave, witdrawn.