HC Deb 05 March 1868 vol 190 cc1109-12

Order for Second Reading read.

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


, in moving that the Bill be read a second time that day six months, said that, as the proposal, very seriously affected the interests of the metropolis, he hoped the House would consider very carefully before deciding to refer it to a Committee in its then form. He thought that if it were considered desirable to make any number of tramways in the metropolis, the direct and proper course would be to refer the whole question to a Committee, in order to have the metropolis mapped out, and to have it decided where tramways should be placed and where they should not. At present the streets of London were too narrow, and if half of the present width were to be occupied by a tramway, those streets would many of them be made absolutely impassable. The Bill was what may be described as a fishing Bill. It had no real company at the back of it, but was in the hands of persons who would, no doubt, be able to make money of it when passed. The article of association stated that the Company was the Metropolitan Tramways Company (Limited), and that the registered offices of the Company would be "situated in England." Yet this was a company which proposed to take power to break up twenty-six miles of streets in London. The Company was stated to have a capital of £450,000, but who were the proprietors? One of them—a very respectable man, no doubt—described himself, or was described as a financial agent; the next wag also a financial agent; the third was a well-known bookseller in Parliament Street, who is down for one share; then there was a "merchant," a "shipbroker," and an "auctioneer's clerk," from Camberwell, who holds one share. He would now call attention to some of the clauses. The Company proposed to take power to make iron tramways without asking the consent of the authorities of the parishes through which they would run, and there were other clauses of an equally extraordinary and objectionable character. This was not the first time either that this proposition had been before the House. The Bill further proposed to take powers to break up the roads in all places where such a course was necessary, in order to the laying down of the tramways, a proceeding which would entail an enormous expense upon the ratepayers; and, in addition, it was proposed to give power to take up pipes in streets and to break into drains. The company did not wish to purchase land for their tramways—they wanted to take the open streets, and create for themselves a monopoly within them. When the proposition, or one very similar to it, was made before, in 1858 and 1861, Lord Llanover (then Sir Benjamin Hall) proposed, on the Order for the second reading, that the Bill be a second time that day six months, on the ground that it would be very detrimental to the public government of the metropolis. The Bill was on that occasion thrown out. On the subsequent occasion, in 1861, a similar fate befel the measure, Mr. Massey, the then Chairman of Committee, opposing it strongly, on the ground that it ought to have been introduced as a public, instead of as a Private Bill. That objection, apposite then, was much more apposite now that the Bill proposed to affect very materially the public interests of the metropolis. He therefore hoped, for these and other reasons, that the House would consider well before consenting to hand over the metropolis to the auctioneer's clerk and his influential companions.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months:"—(Mr. Harvey Lewis.)


supported the second reading of the Bill. It was proposed to lay down tramways—with double and single lines—in the metropolis, but the rails were to be flush with the streets, and the flanges of the car wheels would run in a groove; not more than three-quarters of an inch wide from about a quarter to half an inch deep, so that vehicles could pass along or even over them. So far from doing any injury to the ratepayers the company would do them considerable benefit, because the company would be bound to make good the roads which they took up, and to keep them in repair for a width, in the case of double lines, of sixteen feet, and in the case of single lines of seven feet six inches. The Bill could go before the ordinary Select Committee, and the objections to it, which were mere questions of detail, could be discussed better there than in the Honse. The benefits which these tramways would give to the metropolis would be very considerable. The tramway cars would carry twice the number of passengers carried by omnibuses, and would save the employment of a very large number of horses. That the metropolis did not look with very great fear or suspicion upon this Bill was shown by the fact that of the fourteen different authorities connected with the districts in which the lines were proposed to be laid, seven did not oppose the Bill in any shape, five did not oppose the preamble, but had petitioned with a view of obtaining clauses, and only two really opposed the measure. In the United States and Canada tramways were in successful operation, and there would now be as much opposition to their removal as was originally offered to their introduction. The accidents in New York, where sixty-three miles of tramway had been laid down, were considerably less, according to the testimony of the coroner, than those attending the ordinary omnibuses, and in 1866 70,000,000 passengers were thus conveyed, 5,500 horses being employed, whereas the London General Omnibus Company required 6,600 horses for the conveyance of 41,000,000 passengers. The cars were more commodious than omnibuses; to get in and out of them was easier, and they were more quickly started and stopped, while the speed was greater. In America they were used by all classes—physicians thus going to their patients, ladies to shop, and artisans to work. He hoped, therefore, the House would allow the Bill to be referred to a Committee in the ordinary way.


also supported the second reading of the Bill, urging that although the system of tramways previously adopted in this country was dangerous, the one now proposed was a totally different thing. The present system, wherever established, had been most successful, and it formed a very cheap and desirable mode of conveyance.


, believing the present locomotion of the metropolis, as compared with other great capitals, to be the slowest, the most dangerous, and the most expensive, was of opinion that the introduction of tramways would make it cheaper, less dangerous, and more expeditious. The Bill might require alteration in Committee, but it brought the principle of tramways fairly before the House.


said, that he could lay before the House the result of some experience upon the subject. In the county which he had the honour to represent the tramway system had been tried, and it was found to be a perfect nuisance. That was at Darlington, a place not very thickly populated, and danger had arisen from the tramway to foot passengers, to horses, and to carriages. Of course, in a great metropolis like London, it was impossible to say to what extent the danger might go, and he trusted the House would stop the progress of a Bill fraught with so much danger to life and property.


said, he found it stated in a work recently published by a nobleman (the Marquess of Lorne) who had lately been returned to that House, that the result of the adoption of the system of tramways for omnibuses in New York was the frequent dislocation of the wheels of all other carriages. He also hoped the House would reject this Bill.

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

Words added.

Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.

Bill put off for six months.