HC Deb 27 June 1879 vol 247 cc925-8

Order for Committee read.


said, that the Orders contained in this Confirmation Bill were of the ordinary kind, as to which nothing particular need be said. With regard, however, to the Confirmation Bill itself, which had been before a Select Committee, it was only right that he should state what had been done. Provision had been inserted in the Bill enabling the Board of Trade to grant licences to use steam on tramways for experimental purposes; but in order to insure that that licence should not be obtained in a manner detrimental to the interests of the locality, provision had been made that the licences should only be granted by the Board of Trade after the consents of the greater part of the local authorities interested had been obtained and the Board of Trade had made an inquiry. The power of the Board of Trade to grant licences was restricted to two years. Thus, if the experiment proved satisfactory, the Tramway Company would have one year to come to Parliament to obtain powers to use steam permanently. The question of allowing steam upon tramways had been debated in the House last year, and a very full discussion took place, and a very large majority then affirmed the principle of permitting steam on tramways. A Committee of the other House had sat this year, and the conclusion they arrived at was that steam should be permitted on tramways, and also that power should be given to the Board of Trade to grant licences for the experimental use of steam, in the manner which he had previously referred to. There was only one other remark which he would make, and that was with regard to the North London Suburban Tramways. He could not positively state whether it went through any district within the area of the Metropolitan Board of Works. His hon. and gallant Friend the Chairman of the Metropolitan Board had drawn his attention to the matter, and he had given him an undertaking that if this tramway went through any part of their district, the rights of the Metropolitan Board should be reserved. He thought, however, that the expression used in the Bill, " local or road authority," would include the Metropolitan Board of Works. If that were not so, however, he would take care that words should be introduced into the Bill reserving the rights of that Body.


wished to say a few words with regard to this very important Bill. This measure might probably on a future occasion come on for consideration as one of very great importance, for there could be no doubt that if the use of steam on tramways became popularized a revolution over the whole of our lines of public roads would be effected. He wished he were able more emphatically to congratulate the Board of Trade upon the mode in which they were dealing with this subject. In the first place, the powers which were given to the Board of Trade were limited to the purpose of experiment. They were enabled to grant licences for one year, and to renew them for one year more. He did not think that the House would have been willing to give the Board of Trade, or any other authority, more extended powers than that. In his opinion, if the use of locomotives on roads was to be permanently permitted there would be a necessity for some considerable changes to be made as regarded the control of the Board of Trade. He was bound to say that much might be said against the present measure, and he could have wished the Board of Trade to have seen its way to lay down more stringent regulations than it had done. On previous occasions he had expressed opinions which, he believed, were shared by the majority of the House, that it would be necessary to provide, in all cases in which power to use the public roads was given, that such user should not have the effect of ousting the ordinary traffic; but that the persons having those powers should be called upon, if necessary, to widen and maintain the roads. When Parliament dealt in a more permanent manner with this subject he hoped that a good measure would be passed; he thought it should be understood that the present Bill was only temporary and experimental. With regard to the width of roads, he wished to give Notice to his hon. Friend that on another occasion, when the subject was being dealt with in a more permanent manner, ho should submit to the House a proposal for enforcing a minimum width of road over which these lines were to be permitted to run. There were other matters which arose in connection with the subject; but he would not enter into them at that late hour. He would only mention that two Bills had passed the House during the present Session, in both of which clauses carrying out the views he had endeavoured to express had been introduced. With regard to one in Essex, provision had been made that the promoters should maintain the roads. In one unopposed Bill which came before him there were provisions in relation to the expense of paving a road which were contrary to the principles he had endeavoured to affirm. He, therefore, inserted the same clause as that in the preceding Bill, though subject to a Proviso giving an ultimate discretion to the Board of Trade, and should in future offer his opposition to any Bill which should be drawn in the same manner.


said, that he had called the attention of his hon. Friend to the position of the Metropolitan Board with relation to the roads of the Metropolis. He was quite satisfied with his undertaking that their rights should be reserved.

Bill considered in Committee, and reported, without Amendment; to be read the third time upon Monday next.