HC Deb 22 February 1866 vol 181 cc892-5

Order for Second Beading read.


said, he wished to make a few remarks with respect to this measure, which, though it had been proceeded with in the ordinary course as a Private Bill, was essentially of a public character. He thought, therefore, that the House ought not to treat it as a mere private measure. According to the Standing Orders it was requisite that a person should have a definite and special interest before he could be heard in opposition to a Private Bill. The consequence of this rule was, that while a measure might affect everybody, nobody was in a position to resist it. This Bill, therefore, would, he believed, pass as an unopposed. Bill, for as far as he was aware no person would have the requisite locus standi to oppose it. Besides, this Bill was a very extraordinary one. It contained no less than seven heads, and it proposed that the corporation of the City of London should make regulations for the street traffic of London. There was, besides, a general provision that the corporation might make regulations about anything else which was not included in the seven heads. It further provided that these regulations should have effect within a month after they were made, unless the Secretary of State should disapprove them; but if the Secretary of State once signified his approval, neither he nor any one on the part of the general public would have any power whatever to procure the alteration of the regulations, however much inconvenience they might cause. In addition to all this, there were no fewer than twenty clauses imposing penalties on persons who went into the City and did not conform to those clauses. One offence was driving into the City with a carriage constructed in the manner in which, he believed, nearly all carriages were usually built. Then, again, it was an offence, and would cause the infliction of a penalty, to stand in the street and not cross over with sufficient rapidity, to walk negligently, or to walk or drive in a way which did not meet the approval of a City functionary. The measure, in fact, was a monstrous in- terference with the liberty of the public. Now, the question naturally arose, "If this be necessary in the City, why is it not equally necessary in other parts of London?" He hoped the House would not allow the Bill to pass without some examination and consideration. He would not, however, ask the House to reject it, because some regulations for the traffic of the metropolis, or at least of certain portions of it, were undoubtedly necessary. The course, therefore, which he should propose was the same as was taken last Session when the question was under consideration. The Bill on that subject, it would be remembered, proposed to throw upon the ratepayers the responsibility of indemnifying the promoters of the undertaking, but as the City objected to the proposal, the House referred the Bill to a Committee partly nominated by the House itself, and partly by the Committee of Selection. Furthermore, an Instruction was given to the Committee to examine into that project, with a general regard to the public interests of the metropolis. The proceedings of that Committee were, in the end, extremely satisfactory. He should move, therefore, that after the Bill had been read a second time it should be referred to a Committee of twelve Members, five to be nominated by the Committee of Selection, and the remainder by the House, and that there be an Instruction to such Committee to inquire as to the best means of regulating the traffic of the metropolis.


said, he thought that any opposition to the principle of this Bill would be very unreasonable, for on no subject had there been so many complaints of late as the difficulty of moving in vehicles or on foot through the City. He would not refer to the circumstances out of which that inconvenience had arisen, but he might mention that one cause was the Railway Stations by which the City was surrounded. The City was now actually impassible at some hours of the day. It was true that an Act had been passed for the regulation of the traffic, but some of its provisions had proved to be impracticable, and now, when the City asked Parliament to place further power in their hands, the first thing they met with was opposition. The hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Ayrton) had proposed that the Bill should be referred to a Select Committee of a peculiar character, but he had given no previous notice of his intention to do so. He hoped, however, that if the Bill were now read a second time, those who represented the interests of the City would be allowed a few days to determine whether the course proposed was the proper one. Having said thus much on the Bill, he wished to offer a few remarks on the subject of omnibuses. The fact was, that the Bill was opposed by the omnibus proprietors, whose servants set the public at defiance more than any other class of men. He was driving the other day through the Poultry when a three-horse omnibus drew up across the road in the narrowest part, suspending the traffic in either direction until it suited the driver of the omnibus to move on. Now at present there existed no efficient means of preventing this. The omnibus proprietors also claimed a right to have the trace bar to protrude any distance they pleased beyond the wheel, even over the curbstones of the pavement.


said, he thought the proposal of the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets was a reasonable one. This was not purely a City question, but one affecting the whole of the metropolis. Nor was it simply a measure relating to omnibuses, as under its provisions no person who drove a two-horse carriage would be allowed, unless the carriage were altered, to take it into the City.


said, that some of his constituents had represented to him that if a particular clause in this Bill passed, their trade would be entirely put an end to. He believed that under the clause relating to splinter bars no private carriage could go into the City and pull up at a shop without being liable to be taken into custody by a policeman and carried off to the greenyard, or some place of that sort. He hoped that the House would accede to the proposal of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for the Tower Hamlets, and allow a Committee, composed of persons who were interested in the question, to take into consideration the traffic, not only of the City, but of the whole metropolis.


said, that this Bill was brought in in the interest, not of the City alone, but of the metropolis generally, and therefore the City thought it would receive great consideration from the House. The hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets had asked what diffierence there was between the City and the surrounding districts. The answer was obvious. In the City the streets were narrower and the traffic was greater. London Bridge, for instance, required more regulations than Westminster Bridge.

Motion agreed to.

Bill read a second time and committed to a Select Committee of Twelve Members, of whom five are to be nominated by the Committee of Selection:—Instruction to the Committee to inquire into the best means of regulating the Traffic in the Metropolis.

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