HC Deb 13 May 1869 vol 196 cc735-9

Bill, as amended, further considered.


, after Clause 34, moved to insert the following clause:— Notwithstanding anything herein contained, any other company, body, persons, or person, shall be entitled to use on any tramway or part of a tramway, at any time after the opening thereof respectively, carriages with flange or other wheels adapted to run upon the rails, or upon the rails and other portions of the streets or street, and moved by animal power only: provided always, that no carriage licensed to carry for hire any number of passengers shall be used on any tram-way with flange or other wheels so adapted to run upon the rails by any company, body, person, or persons, other than the company hereby incorporated, except under further license from the Board of Trade, which latter license the Board of Trade are hereby empowered to grant from time to time, and the owner of such carriage shall pay to the said incorporated company such a mileage toll per carriage as shall from time to time be fixed by the said Board of Trade. The hon. Member observed that on the second reading of the Bill he called the attention of the House to the subject of tramways, and he then stated that if he could be assured that the promoters would accept a prudent limitation of their power, so far as the narrow streets were concerned, he should nor oppose the second reading. He did not oppose the formation of tramways on principle, because he thought they would afford considerable accommodation to the public; but his object was to place them under proper regulations. There were two points on which he argued against the Train-ways Bill; one was, that it was proposed to place them in unsuitable positions; the other was, that it was proposed to grant a monopoly to two or three companies of a great portion of the public roadways. The Bill had been investigated by a Select Committee, who had refused to sanction the construction of the lines in the narrow roads; but he thought they had not sufficiently looked into the question of monopoly, and the object of his Amendment was simply to allow other parties to use the tramways on paying such sums as might be settled by the Board of Trade. The power of the Board of Trade was limited to granting permission on the payment of not less than one halfpenny nor more than three farthings per mile for each passenger. Now, he objected to that provision. It was a very serious thing for the House to pass a Bill giving a company a monopoly of five or six feet of the public roads. During the discussion on the subject of metropolitan tramways, in 1861, Lord Palmerston said— He thought it would be a great accommodation to the public if something in the shape of tram roads could be laid down in the streets of our towns. In Milan they had a plan which was found to be of great convenience … If that could be done without any monopoly, but open to vehicles of any kind, it would, no doubt, be found equally useful in London."—[3 Hansard, clxii. 1155–6.] He submitted that the clauses in the present Bill gave a complete monopoly to the company, for it was absurd to suppose that any persons could compete with them on the terms inserted in the Bill. In 1862, a Bill was brought in by the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Ayrton)—"To authorize the construction of Tramways in Turnpike Roads and other Roads in England,"—and under that Bill the toll for every carnage using the tramways for a distance greater than four miles was only at the rate of 1d. per mile, although it might be an omnibus holding fifty passengers. He had looked about for precedents and could find very few; in the Liverpool Act. however, there was a clause in the very words which he was about to submit to the House by way of Amendment. He had no interest in this matter beyond the public convenience, and a desire to increase the future usefulness of tramways to the public. No less than three tramways had been sanctioned by the Committee in different parts of the metropolis; and it was probable that in the course of a short time they would be joined together, but there was no compulsory power as to affording mutual facilities for traffic. What had the House done with regard to railways? In almost every Railway Bill for the last few years ample power had been given to railway companies to run their carriages over each other's lines. As the Bill stood there was nothing to prevent the establishment of a monopoly in- jurious to the public interests; and, under these circumstances, he moved the Amendment of which he had given notice.

Clause (Use of Tramway by carriages other than those of the Company) brought up, and read the first time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the said Clause be now read a second time."—(Mr. Pease.)


said, the promoters of this Bill had a fair right to complain of the course which had been taken with respect to it by the hon. Member for South Durham (Mr. Pease). That hon. Gentleman, calling to his assistance certain prejudices of the past, first endeavoured to crush the tramways; and, having failed in that, he now came forward to get the House to set aside the recommendations of the Committee, whose labours he had been so anxious to avert. The hon. Gentleman had not indicated the reason which had led him to adopt that course; but some light seemed to be thrown upon it by the General Omnibus Company having sent a pathetic letter to hon. Members of that House asking them to support the Amendment. The effect of the Amendment, if adopted, would be this—Carriages not licensed to carry passengers for hire would be allowed to use the tramways free from all expense, and no arrangement would be more delightful to the opponents of the Bill, because anyone who disliked the tramways would have it in his power to put a few gigantic vans fitted with flanges on the tramways, and these slow-going vehicles would completely block up the traffic, not only as regarded the company, but as regarded the public, who would stigmatize the tramways and all connected with them as public nuisances. There could be no monopoly under the Bill as it stood, for clauses had been inserted which would effectually provide against that. If this Amendment were passed people would be unwilling to embark their capital in such an undertaking, and the tramways could not possibly be carried out. He appealed to the House not to set aside the recommendations of the Committee in deference to an unreasonable hostility, which had shirked the argument of the matter before the Court appointed to deal with it.


, as Chairman of the Committee which had considered the Bill, desired to say that that Committee were unanimous in their decision, and that the most stringent restrictions against a monopoly were inserted in the Bill. There was no monopoly of the road; the only monopoly in question was a monopoly of the rails. The Committee passed the Preamble on condition that restrictions were placed on the monopoly of the rails, and the opponents of the Bill thereupon withdrew from the Committee. The Committee and the promoters were therefore left to draw up the restrictions, and the promoters suggested restrictions, which were adopted and which were more stringent against themselves than the Committee would have insisted upon. Those restrictions provided that after twenty-one years the street authorities might purchase the tramways, and that after three years other parties might be licensed by the Board of Trade to use them, and, of course, the Board of Trade would carry out that power if they thought the public did not obtain the full benefit of the tramways. The Committee had cut out of the Bill the proposal to carry the tramways through narrow thoroughfares, and had confined them to the centre of wide streets. If the clause moved by the hon. Member were agreed to, the tramways would become a public nuisance, and would have to be taken up. The case of the Liverpool tramways, to which the hon. Member had referred, was very different from those proposed to be authorized by the Bill, because the streets of Liverpool were under the sole control of the corporation of the town, who had it in their power to make any conditions they thought fit; whereas the streets of London were under the concurrent authority of the Metropolitan Board of Works, the Commissioners of Police, and the vestries and road trustees. Moreover, there would be a considerable difference in the cost of the proposed tramways and that of the Liverpool tramways, for whereas the latter had only cost £2,400 per mile, a large portion of the metropolitan tramways would cost £12,000 per mile, for the Committee had imposed on the promoters the condition of paving the road used by them with granite, and maintaining it at their own expense, in order that the general public might not be inconvenienced by the protrusion of the iron rail above the surface of the ground, which was the cause of the failure of Train's tramways. That was not the occasion for settling the principle of the Bill, and he hoped the House would be satisfied that the Committee had imposed such restrictions on the monopoly of the rails as would be to the interest of the public.


I hope my hon. Friend (Mr. Pease) will not divide the House upon this Bill. He knows perfectly well—and I believe the omnibus proprietors know perfectly well—that the House is not likely to be a good judge of details of this nature. When the Committee decided in favour of the principle of the Bill, the omnibus proprietors withdrew. They did not make opposition, or suggestions, or amendments which possibly might have assisted the Committee in concluding the details of the Bill. But the proprietors were apparently under the belief that, by retiring from the Committee, which had all the facts and all the evidence, they would have a better chance of opposing the Bill by appealing to the House, it being without the evidence. This matter has been carefully considered by the Department to which I have the honour to belong, and the opinion of the Board of Trade is that the carrying of these clauses would be tantamount to the overthrow of the tramway. There is no safeguard which is necessary that has not been put into the Bill; and I think, from the statement of the Chairman of the Committee, the House will agree that the promoters of the Bill were very willing to concede everything it was possible to concede in carrying out this great improvement for the metropolis. I do not know how my hon. Friend and I differ on a. matter of such a nature; but he will do a great disservice to the metropolis if he persuade the House to adopt these clauses.


said, he had nothing to do with the omnibus people. He had taken the matter up on public grounds: but, after what had been stated by his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, he would ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Motion and Clause, by leave, with-drawn.

Bill to be read the third time.

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