HC Deb 07 July 1879 vol 247 cc1709-11

I have to report from the Select Committee upon the Tower High Level Bridge (Metropolis) Bill that they have agreed to the following special Report:— At the meeting of the Committee this day, Mr. Littler, one of the Counsel in the case, brought to the notice of the Committee certain facts, which are contained in the accompanying Papers:— Statement by Mr. Cockell, Tower High Level Bridge Bill, Re Grissell. On Tuesday, Mr. J. Sandilands Ward, of 51 Lincolns Inn Fields, Solicitor (admitted 1870), called on Mr. Hooker (Wyatt, Hoskins, and Hooker), and stated a client of his wished to be placed in communication with the opposing wharfingers as to the Tower Bridge Bill, as he could control the decision of the Committee, and was willing to do so on terms. Mr. Hooker replied he did not believe it at all, but referred Mr. Ward's client to Mr. Cockell (Arkcoll, Jones, and Cockell), as having the conduct of the opposition. Mr. Hooker informed Mr. Cockell of this fact, and the latter immediately spoke to Mr. Littler, and, with his sanction, arranged that, if Mr. Ward's client should call upon him, he would seem to entertain the proposal, and try and draw him out as much as possible, so as to expose the whole proceeding. On Wednesday morning, Mr. Charles E. Grissell called on Mr. Cockell, and stated his ability to control the decision of the Committee either way on terms, and as proof of his ability volunteered that, in the course of examination of witnesses, he would arrange that such questions should be asked by the Committee in favour of the wharfingers' case as would indisputably prove his assertion. Mr. Cockell explained that the examination of witnesses had concluded, and on being pressed to suggest some means whereby this proof could be afforded, explained to Mr. Grissell that the Board of Works had announced their determination of not proceeding with the measure if compensation was granted to the wharfingers and others injuriously affected, and put it to Mr. Grissell whether he could induce the Committee immediately prior to Mr. Pope's speech to announce that they were unanimously of decision that the fullest compensation should be paid, and that they would not report the preamble proved, unless a clause to that effect were inserted in the Bill. Mr. Grissell stated he could arrange for that to be done, and expressed his willingness to reduce his proposition to writing. Thereupon Mr. Grissell wrote out the paper in question, in a great measure, to Mr. Cockell's dictation, and took it away with him, as he wished to see others upon it, and arranged to see Mr. Cockell in the corridor of the House later in the day. He did so about half-past 12, and then stated all was satisfactory, and at Mr. Cockell request signed the paper, Mr. Cockerel promising to see his clients on the matter and communicate with Mr. Grissell. Mr. Cockell then placed the papers in Mr. Littler's hands, and with him had consultations with Sir Edmund Beckett and Mr. Pope, and those gentlemen arranged a course of action. Mr. Cockell wrote to Mr. Grissell afterwards, stating that the matter was of such consequence he had been obliged to consider it with his counsel, and could write nothing definite that evening. Document signed by Mr. C. E. Grissell. Copy Letter from Charles E. Grissell, 36, Curzon Street, Mayfair, written on the 2nd July 1879, in the presence of Mr. Cockell (Messrs. Arkcoll, Jones, and Cockell, Solicitors, 190, Tooley Street, Southwark, S.E.). Asserting that I can control the decision of the Committee now sitting upon the Tower High Level Bridge Bill, I am willing to use that influence in favour of the opposing wharfingers upon certain terms, and will undertake that the Bill shall be thrown out or otherwise dealt with by the Committee in such a way as would make the Board of Works withdraw it by reason of compensation or other clauses being required by the Committee, provided a sufficient guarantee is given to me for the payment of two thousand pounds immediately on such an event happening.


The authenticity of these papers having been verified, the Committee felt bound to report the same for the judgment of the House as a matter seriously affeeting its Privileges; and they have adjourned the further inquiry on the Bill until they shall receive further instructions from the House.


I now beg to move that this Report be taken into consideration by the House at the earliest opportunity—namely, to-morrow. I do so, not so much from the feelings of myself and my hon. Colleagues as upon the part of the Petitioners and promoters of the Bill, who are anxious to bring an unusually protracted and expensive contest to an issue one way or the other. Therefore, with the sanction of the House, I will move that the Report be taken into consideration to-morrow at 2 o'clock.


Will the Report be printed?


It will be printed in the Votes.

Motion agreed to.

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