HC Deb 17 April 1877 vol 233 cc1263-7


Order for Second Reading read.


in rising to move that the Bill be now read a second time, observed that whatever opinion might be entertained as to the desirability or otherwise of tramways they must now be accepted as accomplished facts affording great convenience to large numbers of people. The Company—the promoters of this measure—had last year carried 28,000,000 passengers, 7,000,000 of whom were resident in suburban parts of this Metropolis. The North Metropolitan system of tramways comprised 30½ miles of roadway, and this little Bill was merely for an extension of 737 yards within the sacred precincts of the City, 237 yards from the terminus of the Company's line in High Street, Aldgate, along the same road, and about 500 yards from Finsbury Place down Moorgate Street, to the Bank, which a great number of travellers by the cars were anxious to reach. In Aldgate the line stopped at present at what he might call "nowhere," the passengers being merely thrown out on the street; the road there was between 60 and 70 yards wide, and there was no material diminution of the width in the continuation of the line. The City of London opposed the Bill on two grounds—first, that they did not want tramways, and, secondly, that the promoters were not legally entitled to what they asked for. The Commissioners of Sewers, by no less than two to one, were in favour of granting the application, but the Corporation withheld their sanction. In the interests of the travelling public, whose convenience was greatly interfered with by the present restrictions upon the tramways, he asked the House not to arbitrarily reject the Bill, but to refer it to a Select Committee, whore it could be fairly and impartially considered.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Major Beaumont.)


moved, as an Amendment, that the Bill be read a second time upon that day six months. Great inconvenience was caused already by tramways, especially to travellers in carriages and other vehicles. Established in the best part of the roadway, those huge Juggernaut cars rolled along, and everything else had to give way to them. These Tramway Companies had paid nothing for the roadways they used, while the Railway Companies had paid thousands of pounds a mile for theirs. The entire walking distance from the Bank to the termination of the line proposed by the Bill occupied 6½ minutes only. The entrance of the tramways into the precincts of the City would obstruct the streets, and be fraught with inconvenience to the public traffic, which was very heavy. Additional duties would be thrown upon the Police Commissioners, who were already overweighted with responsibility. Under those circumstances to give the Bill a second reading I would be a great injustice. The land required at Aldgate was very much I crowded, as carts were constantly arriving with hay and straw for the supply of the Metropolis with those articles, and they went to the Hay Market in White-chapel, not far distant. The City of London opposed this Bill, but only on public grounds. It was vetoed by the Court of Sewers, consisting of 88 members, and by the Court of Common Council, consisting of over 200 members. There was, at first, an intention on the part of the Commissioners of Sewers to approve of the line to Aldgate; but when they went to inspect the ground they found it impossible to grant it. In all these questions the local authorities were the body recognized by Standing Orders as that which should determine the local merits of Private Bills; and he hoped the House would uphold the decision which had been arrived at in this instance, with every desire to do justice to the Tramway Company.

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. Alderman Cotton.)


said, he had heard many arguments of a similar kind to those just brought forward, to induce the House to depart from its ordinary practice with regard to Private Bills; but he hoped the House would not do so in this instance, because, in his view, it would be an unfortunate circumstance if they were to decide, on the Motion for a second reading, the practical merits of a Bill of this kind. When the hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Alderman Cotton) described the Bill as an attempt to bring Juggernaut ears into the City, he ventured to think the poet had rather misled the practical politician. The truth was the City of London opposed this Bill because it did not itself want it, while the suburbs did want it. Within the last 10 days the Commissioners of Sewers congratulated themselves and the City proper on getting £50,000 additional levied on the Metropolis at large for special improvements in the City. It appeared, therefore, that while the City did not object to levying rates on the Metropolis for their own purposes, they did object to give a morsel of their ground for the benefit of the Metropolis generally. On behalf of his constituents, he pleaded not for the Company, but for the tramways; because he knew tens of thousands of persons living three or four miles from their business were only too glad to avail themselves of the accommodation thus afforded. He hoped the Bill would be referred to a Select Committee.


in opposing the Bill, said, the North Metropolitan Company originally obtained powers to construct in the City, subject to the assent of the Commissioners of Sewers. In 1874 they took an extension of time on the same conditions. Now the Company did not only ask an extension of time, but, having failed to get the consent of the Commissioners of Sewers, they asked that the proviso requiring their consent should be repealed. Such a demand was, he thought, perfectly monstrous, and he hoped the House would not entertain it.


said, he could see nothing monstrous in the matter. In 1869, when the Company obtained their powers, tramways were in their infancy, and what was convenient then might not be convenient now, so that it was perfectly right and proper that the legislation for that period should be reviewed. He had heard a statement that the tramways in question were used by 28,000,000 of people; and to that number might be added a great many millions who used the railways which would under this extension be put into connection with those tramways. It was impossible for the House to determine on which side the balance of public convenience lay; and it was just one of those cases in which evidence and advocates should be heard, to put before a Committee the merits of the case on both sides. He supported the second reading.


quite concurred in the general principle that, unless there wore exceptional circumstances, a Bill should be sent to a Committee upstairs, and that the House would do well not to anticipate the decision of the Committee. But in this case there were exceptional circumstances which rendered it rather a case for the decision of the House than of a Committee. In 1870 a Bill was brought in by this Company, and became an Act of Parliament, enabling them to make the tramways, but with a proviso that its operations should not be extended to the City of London unless with the consent of the City authorities. A Continuance Act in 1873, and another in 1874, were obtained by the same Company, each of which contained a similar proviso. The grounds on which those extensions were obtained depended upon the consent of the Corporation, and if that consent were not obtained then the ground on which the Bills became law failed. The House was now asked to set aside the bargain then solemnly made between the City of London and the Tramways Company, the one thing which was requisite not having been obtained. A good deal had been said at different times about Parliamentary bargains. He strongly objected to the term. The House was not in a position to make bargains with parties outside of the House; but parties might make bargains between themselves, and Parliament might sanction them, which was a very different thing. Such a bargain was made and sanctioned in 1874, and it was now proposed by one of the parties to the bargains under which the Continuance Act of 1874 was contained, to dispense with the requisite condition. This was a serious matter, for if it were done no saving clause in future would be worth the paper it was written upon. There were, therefore, sufficient public grounds on which the House itself could decide this question without sending the Bill to the Committee upstairs, which would have no better materials on which to decide than the House now had before it.

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

The House divided:—Ayes 103; Noes 203: Majority 100.—(Div. List, No. 78.)

Words added.

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

Second Reading put off for six months.

Forward to