§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ MR. HARVEY LEWIS,
in moving the second reading of this Bill, stated that powers were sought by it to provide suitable accommodation for such of the working classes as should be displaced by the formation of the proposed railway. The line would run from the north-west to the north-east of London, and would afford accommodation to a populous district at present without immediate railway communication. It would also connect the London and North-Western Railway with the London, Chatham, and Dover line.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Harvey Lewis.)
in moving that the Bill be read a second time that day six months, said, he was neither directly or indirectly connected with any metropolitan railway, nor did he mean to discuss on the present occasion the question whether the Bill was or was not necessary for the public convenience. The point he wished to raise was, whether a scheme so gigantic, and affecting the interests of so many 1593 thousands of people, was one which ought to be decided by a Committee of that House, or be submitted to the consideration of a Joint Committee of both Houses, such as that which sat in 1864 on the subject of the railway schemes affecting the Metropolis. That Committee recommended, among other things, the prosecution of the scheme known as "the Inner Circle," but before that scheme was completed, or indeed well begun, and therefore before its advantages could be tested, it was proposed by the Bill to run a line through a large portion of the same district, for the Mid-London Railway, if constructed, would pass from Notting Hill, along Kensington Gardens, between Hyde Park Corner and Paddington, and so on between Oxford Street and Grosvenor Square, till it joined the London, Chatham, and Dover near Farringdon Street. Now, on the Joint Committee which he had just mentioned sat the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for North Lancashire, the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, and his noble Friend the Member for King's Lynn, and he should like to have their opinion—an opinion to which he was sure the House would attach great weight—as to whether there would be such a breach of the policy recommended by the Committee in sanctioning the Bill under discussion, as to justify its being thrown out on the second reading. He regretted that the President of the Board of Trade seemed already to have come to a decision on the matter, inasmuch as he had stated, in answer to a question which had been put to him a few evenings before, that he saw no reason for departing in reference to it from the usual course of legislation, and he wished simply to add that if the right hon. Gentleman would assure him that, under the exceptional circumstances of the case, he would consent to send the Bill before such a Joint Committee as that of 1864 he should not object to withdraw his Amendment.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—(Earl Grosvenor.)
said, it was quite true that he had acted as Chairman of the Committee to which his noble Friend alluded. He therefore had naturally looked into the question at issue, although he had no interest whatsoever in the proposed 1594 line. He concurred, he might add, with the proposition which had been laid down a few nights before by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kilmarnock, that it was not desirable as a general rule to have discussion on the second reading of Private Bills, which had better be left for the more searching investigation of a Committee upstairs. That was a rule which his experience as a Member of the House of Commons taught him to regard as admitting of exceptions; and the present case was, so far as he could see, one of an exceptional character in several respects. His noble Friend had referred to a line known as "the Metropolitan Inner Circle," which received two years ago the sanction of Parliament. That line was not yet completed. He saw Mr. Fowler, the engineer, a few days before, and was informed by him that it would probably be opened in eighteen or twenty months; not taking into account that portion of it which would run along the Thames Embankment. When it was opened it would pass through a large part of the district intended to be accommodated by means of the Bill before the House. It was impossible, therefore, he contended, until the Inner Circle scheme was fairly at work to know how much traffic would remain for the Mid-London, and what the necessity was which existed for its construction. But then it would be asked, what had the question of traffic to do with the providing of additional railway accommodation if companies were willing to supply it? The force of that he was ready to admit in the case in which the House had to deal with small provincial towns or rural districts, in which the inconveniences of making a new line were comparatively insignificant. But the case was widely different in a great city like London, where the displacement of population and the disturbance of traffic caused by the construction of a railway for two or three miles through the very heart of it were matters of considerable moment, although these inconveniences must, of course, be endured whenever the real necessity for such a line could be established. He was not opposed to the creation of all new lines through London, but he thought the House ought not to sanction a new line unless it was a work of real and urgent necessity. There were objections to the proposed line in points of detail, such as that it interfered with Kensington Gardens and Lincoln's Inn Fields, and did not connect itself with the existing Metropolitan line, but he 1595 freely admitted that those were matters which might fairly be considered by a Committee upstairs, and the only reason why he opposed the reference of the Bill to a Select Committee was this—that as long as the works of the Inner Circle were incomplete, and that line was not opened, the Committee would not be able to decide that which was the real question—namely, whether the traffic could not be safely provided for without opening a new line, which would cause an enormous interference with various localities.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
thought that the noble Lord had missed the real question before the House. The points on which he had placed his finger were just the points for the consideration of a Committee upstairs. The real question was whether the House should take an exceptional course and throw out the Bill on the second reading. The noble Earl who moved the Amendment stated that the provision made by the Joint Committee of both Houses was contravened by the present Bill, and therefore it was desirable that the House should learn from the hon. Member for North Lancashire (Colonel Wilson Patten) whether such contravention had taken place, justifying the rejection of the Bill on the second reading.
§ COLONEL WILSON PATTEN,
in answer to the appeal just made to him, stated that his opinion very much accorded with that of the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley). He and the noble Lord were members of the Joint Committee which, after the consideration of much evidence, came to the conclusion that a system of two Circles would, on the whole, afford the best means of railway accommodation to all classes in the metropolis; that certain Bills not in accordance with that system should be rejected; and that only the lines which carried out that general view should be submitted to a Committee, over which the noble Lord very good-naturedly undertook to preside, and which came to the resolution already mentioned. He thought it would be a pity, after all the consideration given to the matter, that the general view then adopted should now be upset, and another system of railways established in its place. The main recommendation of the plan of two Circles was that it would distribute the traffic among the different localities better than a system of two straight lines, and he would regret to see that plan interfered with.
§ MR. THOMAS CHAMBERS
asked the 1596 House to consider whether the line by the Thames Embankment or the Metropolitan Railway could afford the smallest accommodation to the mass of population along Holborn, Oxford Street, and down the Bayswater Road. If not, this proposed line would form no interference with the scheme laid down by the Joint Committee. It was to go under and not over Oxford Street, and interfered with Kensington Gardens only by running outside of them. With Lincoln's Inn Fields it only interfered for the purpose of passing through one of the worst districts in London; and it passed through Holborn for the purpose of getting rid of Middle Row, which, to the reproach of the Metropolitan Board, had so long been allowed to remain an impediment in the thoroughfare, and of throwing that part open for the benefit of the public. It was proposed to do all this in a manner the least interfering with the public convenience, and the promoters came before Parliament with more liberal clauses than had ever been proposed to meet objections on the ground of the displacement of the poorer classes. They ought not, therefore, to be prevented from laying the merits of their scheme before a Select Committee. He did not agree with the noble Lord who thought that the Select Committee would not possess all the necessary materials for forming a just decision; for that body might have before them the Report of the Joint Committee of both Houses, and the opponents of the measure would be sure to urge every possible objection against the proposed line.
§ SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
said, that the Bill expressly proceeded on the principles laid down by the Joint Committee of 1864 and the Lords' Committee of 1863, which were mainly to the effect that companies seeking lines through London should connect by underground communication the great through lines of the country. The promoters of the present Bill had observed those conditions, and proposed by an underground railway to connect the London and North-Western Railway with the London, Chatham, and Dover Railway.
§ MR. DODSON
hoped the hon. Gentleman who moved the second reading of this Bill would not give the House the trouble of dividing upon it. He should be sorry to express any opinion that the Bill was unnecessary, or that it was any interference with the scheme recommended by the Select Committee of 1864; but he thought that to deal with the Bill this year would be 1597 premature. The Inner Circle of railway was in process of construction. Before very long it would be more complete, and then they would be in a better condition to pronounce an opinion on a Bill of this nature. Without, therefore, expressing any opinion, he thought it would be well to defer the consideration of the Bill.
§ Question, "That the words 'upon this day six months' stand part of the Question," put, and negatived.
§ Words added:—Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
§ Bill put off for six months.