HC Deb 25 April 1872 vol 210 cc1808-11

moved, that it be an Instruction to the Committee on the Thames Embankment (North) Bill, that they do hear the Mayor, Alderman, and Commons of the City of London on their Petition in opposition to the Bill. He did not ask the House to interfere in any way with any decision to which it might already have come relative to the Thames Embankment. Under the Embankment Act the duty of maintaining the road was cast upon the parishes in which their portion of the road was situated. The Temple and the parish of St. Bride's were part of the ward of Farringdon Within the City of London, under the jurisdiction of the Lord Mayor and Corporation, and the duty of maintaining the road did not fall on those places, but on the Commissioners of Sewers. The Metropolitan Board of Works were attempting to establish for themselves a jurisdiction as regarded their part of the Embankment within the City. A locus standi had been conceded to the Commissioners of Sewers; but as they were merely an executive committee, as it were, elected by the Corporation, and having nothing to do with deciding on the general policy of the City with reference to its rights and jurisdiction, he contended that the Mayor and Corporation of the City should be heard before the Committee in a matter in which their rights and jurisdiction were so directly interfered with. It might be said that the Corporation were not entitled to be heard, because they were represented upon the Metropolitan Board; but he submitted that in a case where their jurisdiction was concerned they were entitled to be heard directly, and not indirectly through a subordinate body appointed for a merely executive purpose.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That it be an Instruction to the Committee on the Thames Embankment, North, Bill, that they do hear the Mayor, Aldermen, and Commons of the City of London on their Petition in opposition to the Bill."—(Mr. Crawford.)


, as Chairman of the Committee of Referees to whom questions of locus standi were referred, said he attached great importance to uniformity of decision, and he trusted the House would support the practice that had hitherto prevailed. They learned from the valuable work of the First Clerk at the Table (Sir Erskine May) that since 1857 it had been the practice of Committees, that whenever members of a corporate body petitioned against any act proposed to be done under the corporate seal of that body, they were not allowed a locus standi unless they had a separate and distinct interest in the matter. In this Bill, the object of which was to transfer the jurisdiction of the Thames Embankment, so far as regarded lighting, cleansing, and the general superintendence of the roadway, from the vestries and other bodies under whose jurisdiction it was at present, no mention, either by name or otherwise, was made of the Corporation of the City of London. Their interest was represented by the Commissioners of Sewers, who were elected from the Common Council, subject to certain conditions, one of which was that the Lord Mayor must always be a member of the Commission. The Referees had admitted the locus standi of the Commissioners, and he must ask the House to confirm the Referees in the action which they had taken, and maintain uniformity of practice.


, as a Member of the Committee of Referees, said, that the Referees wore unanimous in the decision at which they had arrived, and that decision was in accordance with the practice which had hitherto prevailed.


said, he hoped the House would support the deliberate decision of its own Committee. He would, with the permission of the House, state the reason why the Metropolitan Board had introduced this Bill. Under the Thames Embankment Act of 1862 the Board were bound to hand over the roadway of the Embankment to the authorities of adjoining parishes and other bodies, who were thenceforward to have the duty of lighting and paving their respective portions. The jurisdiction of the Embankment wall was vested entirely in the Metropolitan Board, and if this Bill did not pass there would be half-a-dozen different jurisdictions in respect of the Embankment. These authorities might differ as to what was to be done, and thus the Embankment might be left in a discreditable condition. Looking to the Embankment as a national work, the Metropolitan Board had considered it their duty to introduce the present Bill, and would be quite content with any decision at which the Committee might arrive. He did not see why the Corporation should oppose by themselves, and also by the Commissioners of Sewers, and thus add to the expenses that wore to be borne by the ratepayers of the metropolis.


said, that on the showing of the hon. and gallant Member the case was an unusual one, because the Bill sought to set aside an existing arrangement—that the roadway was to revert to the respective parishes. This arrangement had been sanctioned by an Act of Parliament, and he thought the House ought not to assist the Board in setting that Act aside by a Private Bill. The Bill was, moreover, an invasion of the rights and jurisdiction of the Corporation, and he thought they were entitled to be heard.


thought the strict rule with reference to locus standi would operate hardly in some cases, and that the important Corporation of the City of London could hardly be treated like the individual member of a municipal corporation, or a shareholder in a company. No doubt the Corporation was represented in the Board; but for all that there was the possibility of there being a conflict of interests between them, in which case, of course, the representatives of the City would be overruled, so that if the rule of the Referees were enforced, the City would be shut out from having its case heard. It must be remembered that the City of London had always enjoyed peculiar privileges in that House—one of which was, that any Bills which were promoted by the Corporation were treated as public Bills, and that its representatives presented Petitions at the Bar of the House.


said, that if the rule of the Referees were to be strictly enforced, the Board might propose to carry a new street through the Guildhall of the City, and the Corporation could not be heard. No roadway in the City had been so badly managed as that of the Embankment, and for that reason the Corporation were anxious to get hold of their portion.


trusted the House would support its own Court, and saw no reason why the usual practice should be deviated from. To depart from it would be a dangerous precedent, and the City had no separate grievance. It was clear that no substantial injustice would be done to the City, because it could appear before the Committee by its Commission of Sewers. He hoped that in this instance the House would uphold its own Rules and Regulations.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 145; Noes 154: Majority 9.