HC Deb 04 June 1872 vol 211 cc1238-40

rose to move— That, in the opinion of this House, it would conduce to the inconvenience of the public if a carriage communication were opened between Queen Square, Westminster, and the Birdcage Walk. The hon. Gentleman said, he had brought forward the subject on that day week, when the discussion was abruptly cut short by a "count out." His proposal on that former occasion was wider in its scope than the Motion as he now intended to move it. He now limited himself to proposing that a carriage communication should be opened between Queen Square and Birdcage Walk. He would postpone for the present the other part of his original Motion. He hoped the Chief Commissioner of Works would concur in the opinion of his predecessor in office in 1869, and also in the opinion of His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge, that the improvement might be effected by private subscription. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving his Resolution.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That, in the opinion of this House, it would conduce to the convenience of the public if a carriage communication were opened between Queen Square, Westminster, and the Birdcage Walk."—(Mr. Cavendish Bentinck.)


said, he had not been aware that it was the hon. Gentleman's intention to alter the terms of his Resolution in that way. It was highly inconvenient to adopt one section of a plan at one time, and leave the rest of it till a future day. It was a very serious proposal to make a public thoroughfare from Queen Square to St. James's Street, across St. James's Park, as was suggested by the Motion brought forward by the hon. Member last week. When Lord Llanover first suggested that such a communication might be made it was referred to a Select Committee, and the result was that his Lordship withdrew his original proposition, and prepared a report which condemned the proposal, and which was unanimously adopted by the Committee. From that time to this no one had had the courage to suggest such a scheme to the House of Commons; and furthermore, when Lord Llanover submitted to the House a Vote of money for carrying out a plan interfering with the Park it was rejected by a large majority, and he had to reconsider the proposal he had made. Steps had already been taken by which Members of both Houses of Parliament were enabled to cross the Park from Marlborough Gate to Storey's Gate, and thus to reach Westminster without unnecessary delay, and without impeding the ordinary traffic between Charing Cross and Westminster. The hon. Member, however, proposed to go further, and to enable a public carriage communication to be opened between St. James's Street and Queen Square. If such a communication were to be opened, it would be desirable that it should be by means of a continuation of St. James's Street, through a portion of St. James's Palace, straight across the Park to Queen Square. Were such a road to be on a level with the rest of the Park the enjoyment of the Park by the public would be materially interfered with; if it were carried beneath the Park by means of a tunnel, it would not only be an unpleasant thoroughfare, but it would be very expensive to construct; if it were to run over an embankment the Park would be cut in two by a hideous object, it would be converted into a couple of squares resembling Russell Square, and would be entirely deprived of its present character; and if it were carried over the Park by a handsome and airy viaduct, although the enjoyment of the public would not be interfered with, the cost of such a structure with its approaches, would be nearly £200,000. The first question, therefore, to be decided was, whether the metropolis would undertake the construction of such a structure at such a cost, or whether it was to be made at the expense of the National Exchequer. If once Her Majesty's Government undertook to provide the necessary funds for works which the metropolitan authorities would not construct, pressure would be brought upon them by all the local authorities in the metropolis to execute improvements in other parts of London. Of course, Her Majesty's Government had no right to insist upon the Metropolitan Board of Works executing the work in question. All, therefore, that could be done was to make a carriage way for the use of the inhabitants in the immediate neighbourhood of Queen Square. It could not be made a public thoroughfare, because it would only admit one carriage at a time, leaving a very moderate footway for those who had to enter the Park; and as it would be merely a limited local convenience the inhabitants in the immediate neighbourhood who would profit by it had come forward to bear the expense of making it. But while the grand schemes for making a roadway through St. James's Park, of which the hon. Member for Whitehaven and other hon. Members had given Notice, were under consideration, he did not think it would be right for him to carry out the arrangement. On the understanding, however, that none of those schemes were recognized by what might now be done, he was quite willing to carry out the arrangement.


said, he was surprised the right hon. Gentleman should have spoken to a Motion which was not before the House. To him it was a most extraordinary thing that a work which had been recognized as an improvement and a necessity, and one moreover which would not have entailed any expense upon the Government, should have been delayed for so long a time as it had. He was glad, however, to learn that the work was at last to be carried out. So far as his constituents were concerned they had great reason to complain of the delay. Whatever might be the view of the question as to the approach from Marl-borough House to Birdcage Walk, he hoped the Chief Commissioner of Works would see that no further delay took place in carrying out the plan which he had suggested.


said, that this Session, at all events, he would not renew his proposition for a carriage way across St. James's Park, and he hoped the desire of the inhabitants in the neighbourhood of Queen Square would be accomplished without further delay.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 43; Noes 55: Majority 12.