HC Deb 08 March 1872 vol 209 cc1742-6

, in moving "That leave be given to bring in a Bill to authorize the acquisition and appropriation by the Metropolitan Board of Works of certain land reclaimed from the River Thames, in pursuance of 'The Thames Embankment Act, 1862,'" said, he was informed that some hon. Gentleman were satisfied that they would be overreached by him. ["Hear, hear!"] Hon. Members who cried out "Hear, hear," ought to wait and hear what he said, before alleging that he had ever overreached anybody, or even attempted to do so. The fact was, it had been discovered that the effect of bringing in this measure would be to prevent the hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. W. H. Smith) from bringing in his Motion on Tuesday next. He and the hon. Member for Westminster had come to a certain understanding with regard to the Bill to-day; but many hon. Gentlemen, he heard, were rather angry because he, being aware of the effect of introducing the measure, had obtained an advantage over the hon. Member. He could only assure the House that he had no idea at the time, that the introduction of the Bill would exclude the hon. Member for Westminster from bringing forward his Motion, although he had been since informed that such would be the result. In short, he disclaimed all idea of overreaching the hon. Gentleman; and, as far as his own wishes were concerned, he regretted that the introduction of this Bill would prevent him from submitting his Motion to the House next week, [Cries of "Postpone!"] He could not, merely on account of the vague rumours which had reached him undertake to postpone his Motion. [Murmurs.] It was difficult to understand why an objection to the course he was taking should be raised by the hon. Member for Westminster, whose Motion was, that it was the duty of the Government to give effect to the recommendations of the Committee. Effect could not be given to those recommendations, except by means of a Bill. One recommendation was that the Metropolitan Board of Works should acquire the land, and that was impossible, unless an Act of Parliament gave them the power to do so. Again, the Report of the Committee contemplated that the Board of Works should lease the land; but the Act having reference to the Woods and Forests did not allow leases to be granted for a longer period than 31 years, and such a provision would not satisfy the requirements of the majority of the Committee. In the next place, the Woods and Forests would by the provision of their Act, be obliged to demand a rent having some relation to the value of the land to be let, while the Committee did not recommend that the rent should at all represent the value of the land. If the hon. Member for Westminster and his Friends were in a majority in the House, they could, of course, introduce into the Bill such modifications as they deemed proper. He was at a loss to know how to treat the subject, because there was a good deal to be said, and at that time (a quarter past 1) he was indisposed to obtrude upon the House by going into details. [Cries of "Postpone!" and "Move!"] He gathered that it was the wish of the House he should not trouble them with any observations at present, and therefore he would simply move for leave to bring in the Bill.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to authorise the acquisition and appropriation by the Metropolitan Board of Works of certain Land reclaimed from the River Thames, in pursuance of 'The Thames Embankment Act, 1862.'"—(Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer.)


said that, after the understanding he had come to with the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, he would not oppose the introduction of the Bill, though he certainly was taken by surprise, when he found that the effect would be to prevent him raising the question of which he gave Notice a long time ago, by a Motion which was framed in the spirit, if not in the exact letter, of the recommendations of the Committee of last year, under which Motion he hoped to obtain the distinct judgment of the House in favour and in support of those recommendations; but, after the full explanation which had been given, he entirely accepted the assurances of the right hon. Gentleman. There could be no doubt that the step which the Government had taken had deprived him and the House of the opportunity of expressing an opinion on the question; but, as the Government was prepared to put the Bill down for a second reading at a time when it could be fairly discussed, he would not oppose its introduction.


hoped it would be so, and that the House would be afforded that certainty, which was to be secured only by making the second reading the first Order on a Government night.


said, the hon. Member for Westminster had acted in a very courteous manner, and he (Mr. Gladstone) hoped the hon. Member would understand that the feeling of the Government on the subject was such, that if he felt he was really placed at a disadvantage they certainly would not press for the introduction of the Bill; but they were under the belief that the introduction of it was by far the best method of bringing to an issue the question which he wished to raise. He would suggest to the hon. Member for Westminster whether the most convenient course for his own purposes would not be to grapple with the Government proposal in Committee, and, if he thought it objectionable, to propose the substitution of his own?


reminded the right hon. Gentleman that he had not answered the hon. Member for Boston (Mr. Collins), in that he had not named a day for the second reading.


said, that the omission was a mere inadvertence. It was, of course, impossible at the moment for him to fix any particular day; but the Bill was one in respect to the further stages of which the convenience of the House would, of necessity, be consulted.


said, he should certainly move the adjournment of the House, unless they could receive an assurance that the Bill should be fixed as the first Order on a Government night.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—(Mr. Fawcett.)


said, the reason why he had not given the pledge was, that he thought the hon. Member for Westminster might find that the best period for raising the question between him and the Government would be on going into Committee.


urged that the Government ought to agree to put the Bill as the first Order on a Government night.


thought the course of the Government was just and conciliatory. ["Oh!"] He objected to a small metropolitan matter like this taking up the time of the House on a Government night.


could not understand the course the Government adopted that evening. They had recommended the Royal Parks Bill, on the ground that it embodied the recommendations of a Select Committee, and they now endeavoured to press forward another Bill, which entirely ignored the recommendations of another Select Committee.


believed he could solve the difficulty suggested by the noble Lord. In the case of the Public Parks Bill, the Select Committee had made a report unfavourable to the rights of the people; in the case of the Thames Embankment, the Select Committee had reported in their favour. The Government had acted with perfect consistency, for they had accepted the recommendations of the Public Parks Committee and rejected the recommendations of the other Committee, in both cases acting adversely to the interests of the people.


remarked that the Thames Embankment Committee was unfairly constituted, and there were Members on it who dared not oppose any course taken by the hon. Member for Westminster. ["Order!"]


contended that the Government had already been twice defeated on the question, and, in not acting in accordance with the Report of the Committee, were placing the Crown in an invidious position, as if it was one of the duties of the Crown to rob the public. The question really was, whether this piece of land should be devoted to the ratepayers of the metropolis, at whose expense it was reclaimed. The preventing the bringing forward the Motion was an unfair mode of proceeding. By introducing a Bill the best mode of bringing the question to an issue had, in his opinion, been taken.


maintained that the Government, if ever they were right, had been altogether in the right in the present question.


suggested the postponement of the Motion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in order that the ground might be cleared by the discussion of the Resolution of the hon. Member for Westminster on Tuesday.


thought the adoption of such a course instead of clearing the ground would encumber it. The wish of the Government was to bring the question to a distinct issue, and that, relating as it did to the quantum of price, could be best done in Committee on the Bill. Whenever that issue was raised, the first Government night at his disposal would be given for the discussion of the question, whether on the second reading or in Committee.


expressed himself satisfied with this assurance.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER and Mr. BAXTER.

Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 82.]