HC Deb 21 March 1879 vol 244 cc1421-9

Order for Second Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."


said, he rose to move that the Bill be read a second time on that day six months. He did so, he hoped, upon intelligible grounds —his chief reason being that the proposal itself was really one that, upon public grounds, ought not to be allowed. They were often told, both in the House itself and in the Committee Rooms, a great deal about tramways; and he was not there to deny that tramways might be of great public advantage, provided that the locality through which the tramways were to run was fitted for the purpose. But his contention in this case was that the Bill now submitted to the House proposed to run a tramway over a locality that was utterly unfitted and unsuited for the purpose. Those who disagreed with the Bill had, he thought, some reason to complain of the course which had been adopted in regard to it. The Bill proposed to carry a tramway from the foot of Kew Bridge, through the town of Brentford, through almost the whole of Isleworth, and then through part of Twickenham— ending where? Why, at the foot of Richmond Bridge. Out of London there was, probably, no more popular thoroughfare. It was the main road leading from London through Richmond towards Hampton Court and Bushey Park, and other places of popular resort. It was, no doubt, somewhat extraordinary, but it was nevertheless the fact, that hitherto upon this road from Brentford to Twickenham no speculative or industrious individual had even thought of running a one-horse omnibus for the use of the public. If it was not thought worth while to do that, he would leave it to the House to imagine what profit the promoters of the present undertaking expected to make. As he had already stated, the Bill proposed to lay down a tramway from Kew Bridge to Isleworth and Twickenham. The House was aware that, when a tramway proposed to go through a certain district, the Standing Orders of the House required the assent of a proportion of the public authorities. Now, what was the fact here? The local authorities of Brentford dissented, the local authorities of Isleworth assented, and the local authorities of Twickenham dissented. The result was that the Standing Orders of the House were not complied with. But what did the promoters of the Bill do? They immediately gave notice that they would abandon the whole of that portion of the scheme which went through the district of Brentford, thus leaving a mutilated scheme for the consideration of the Committee. Surely the course pursued by the promoters was somewhat hard upon the public body of Isleworth, who had agreed to the scheme as a whole, but had never been asked to assent to it in its present shape. It was rather hard upon that body, to turn round upon them now and say—"You have assented to the scheme because you originally assented to it as a whole, and now that the promoters have mutilated it, and only propose to carry out a portion of it, making it end at the parish of Isleworth, whereas in its original form it went on through Brentford, you have no right to dissent now." What the public authority of Isleworth assented to was very different from the scheme contained in the Bill as it was now submitted to the House. They had never in reality agreed to the mutilated scheme now contained in the Bill, and the scheme which, if it was allowed to go forward at all, would be presented to the Committee. Upon that point he thought the assent of the local authorities of Isle-worth amounted to very little; because it was quite certain that if the promoters had adhered to their original scheme, the original scheme must have been thrown out on the Standing Orders, and would have been heard nothing of in the House itself. There were many grounds upon which he opposed the Bill. He had already mentioned one. Another strong ground of opposition was the manner in which it was proposed to carry the line on from Isleworth to Twickenham. The road throughout its entire length was altogether unsuited and impracticable for the laying down of a tramway. He might tell the House that upon a great part of the proposed line the road varied from 18 and 19 feet in width to between 14 and 15 feet. Surely the measurements of the road ought to be taken into consideration, varying, as they did, so considerably as from between 19 and 20 feet, or it might be here and there a little more—say 25 or 26 feet—narrowing down in many places to between 14, 15, and perhaps 16 feet, and so on. What was to become of the unfortunate people who wanted to travel along this road in carriages or vehicles of any description? There would be scarcely room for a wheelbarrow. And when they had a tram-car travelling along the road, any person wanting to pass it in a carriage would find it impossible to do so. In one part of the road it proposed to cross a bridge where there was no footpath at all, and upon the top of the bridge there was a station of the South-Western Railway Company. He was informed that the Railway Company were among the petitioners against the Bill, and he was certainly not surprised at it, because, if the Bill passed, the condition of things would be this — while the tramcars were passing over the bridge, any person desiring to go to the South-Western Railway station would find the greatest difficulty in getting access to it. The roadway of the bridge was only some- thing like from 18 to 19 feet in width from parapet to parapet, and there was no footway at all. Yet that was the sort of road over which the promoters of the Bill proposed to carry their tramway. He had just presented a Petition to the House which was signed by a large number of frontagers along the proposed line, and he thought it was not unimportant that he should call the attention of the House to it. From the end of the town of Isleworth to the foot of Richmond Bridge was a distance of one mile and a-half. Along that line of road there were only 40 occupiers, and 33 of them had signed the Petition against the Bill. That was an enormous proportion of the householders upon the proposed tramway route; and it showed that, in their opinion, their interests would be seriously and materially affected by the Bill. The promoters of the scheme had circulated a statement in favour of the Bill. No doubt, they were quite within their right in doing so, and he did not object to the course they had taken. At the same time, he wished to point out that the statement itself was not altogether as plain as he should like to see it. It said that the Motion he was now making to throw out the Bill on the second reading emanated from a few of the inhabitants of Twickenham who were opposed to the proposed tramway. He had shown that the Petition he had presented against the Bill came from the majority of the frontagers on the line of the tramway. Another clause of the statement said— Petitions in favour of the Bill have been signed in the district through which the proposed line is to pass by upwards of 350 frontagers. Now, it was necessary he should tell the House what the real fact was. This was a statement made in support of the second reading of a Bill which was not the Bill originally introduced by the promoters; but a Bill in which the promoters had struck out all that part of the scheme which related to Brentford. And when he told the House that the 350 frontagers who had petitioned in favour of the Bill were frontagers at Brentford, the House would know what value to attach to this statement. In point of fact, the statement had no bearing at all upon the Bill now before the House. The petitioners referred to were petitioners whose objections had been assented to by the promoters by striking out that part of the Bill which related to them. He had now stated all the facts upon which he relied for saying that the Bill ought not to be allowed to go forward. His chief ground was that the area over which it was proposed to carry the tramway was unsuited for the purpose, and that over such a narrow road as this the parties promoting the Bill ought not to be allowed to carry a tramway. He failed to hear that any person connected with the Bill was rated in the district, or had any interest in the property there. A statement had been drawn up by the petitioners against the Bill, which he held in his hand, and in which they went fully into the measurements and distances; but as he perceived that he had already called the attention of the House accurately to the details, he would not repeat them. He would simply content himself with moving that the Bill be read a second time on that day six months.

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. Bristowe.)

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


said, he had rather expected that a statement would have been made by some hon. Member who was directly interested in supporting the measure. That, however, had not been done; but an explanation of the nature and object of the Bill had been lucidly given by the hon. and learned Member for Newark opposite (Mr. Bristowe). In the absence of any statement from the promoters of the Bill, he (Mr. Raikes) thought he might be allowed to offer to the House such views in regard to the Bill as had struck him after giving due consideration to the matter, and after hearing the speech which had been made by the hon. and learned Member for Newark. His hon. and learned Friend had spoken to the House in opposition to the second reading of the Bill; and he (Mr. Raikes) was sure that the statement just made by his hon. and learned Friend was well worthy of consideration. At the same time, he felt bound to point out to his hon. and learned Friend and to the House that the objections which the hon. and learned Member for Newark had taken appeared to him (Mr. Raikes) to be entirely in the nature of objections which might very fairly be raised, before a Committee upon the Bill upstairs. The scheme might be a very imperfect one, and might be a very bad one; from some of the allegations which his hon. and learned Friend had made with regard to it, it was certainly open to very grave question whether such a tramway as the Bill proposed to lay down would be compatible with the public interests; but, at the same time, his hon. and learned Friend and the House were well aware that matters of this sort were most difficult to deal with in the absence of that information which was supplied by plans and maps, the arguments of counsel, and the examination of witnesses in the presence of those who had a direct interest in the question. There was one point which had been noticed by the hon. and learned Member for Newark opposite, which was, perhaps, of a somewhat more grave character, because it related to a question touching the Standing Orders of the House. As his hon. and learned Friend stated, the promoters of the Bill failed to obtain the consent of a majority of the local authorities on the line of route. The Standing Orders required that if a tramway was proposed to be made in any locality which was within the jurisdiction of one authority, the assent of that authority should be required. If it passed through the jurisdiction of more than one authority, the assent of a majority of the authorities was required. And if that assent was not obtained, the Committee on Standing Orders would hardly be asked to dispense with Standing Orders. In this case, the Twickenham and Brentford authorities dissented from, and the Isleworth authority assented to, the whole scheme; and it would have been impossible, under these circumstances, for the Bill to pass the Standing Orders of the House. The course then taken by the promoters— and it was a course that was certainly within their right — was to drop the Brentford part of the scheme, and thereby to limit the extent of their line to two parts, in regard to which one local authority was more or less favourable, while the other dissented from it. Under these circumstances, the Committee on Standing Orders thought proper to dispense with the Standing Orders, and thus to allow the Bill to proceed. He was not there to question the soundness of the judgment of the Standing Orders Committee in the matter, because the House left it to the Committee on Standing Orders to exercise a wise and careful discretion in dealing with questions of this sort. The objection now taken by the hon. and learned Member for Newark appeared to relate to a great many issues affecting very largely the public convenience; but still it was quite possible to bring all those issues before a Committee upstairs, and the persons interested would all have a locus standi to be heard before the Committee to whom the Bill would be referred by the House. The Railway Company, to which reference had been made, would also have a locus standi that would enable them to bring their case forward. Under these circumstances, he was certainly of opinion that the matter was one which would be most satisfactorily dealt with by the ordinary tribunal of the House.


was understood to say that the hon. and learned Member for Newark opposite (Mr. Bristowe) had pointed out the unsuitableness of the locality for a tramway, and that if its construction were authorized the tram-cars would virtually obtain a monopoly of the route, because in some places the road was so narrow that it would be impossible for a cart or carriage, and almost for a wheelbarrow, to pass. He wished to point out that if the Bill were referred to a Committee upstairs, they would have no power of widening the road, and the promoters would not be able to get over the difficulty that the measure was opposed by the frontagers along the line it was intended to occupy. He failed to see what public advantage would be gained by constructing a tramway which would interfere with, the interests of the frontagers, and prevent them from drawing up any vehicle by the side of their own premises. He was of opinion that the passing of the Bill would result in the obstruction of the road, and he should, therefore, vote against the second reading.


said, the Chairman of Ways and Means had referred to the fact that the promoters of the Bill had got rid of the opposition of one of the local authorities and a portion of the frontagers by dropping a part of their scheme. Although he (Sir Edward Colebrooke) was not upon the Standing Order Committee when this particular question was brought forward, he wished to say that the course taken by the Committee was one which was every day pursued. When a Bill was introduced which formed one or more parts, it was quite within the discretion of the Standing Order Committee to allow a certain portion of it to be dropped. To put the matter in another way—if, after a majority of the frontagers had raised an objection to one part of the scheme, the promoters modified their Bill and left out all that part of it which was opposed, such a proceeding would have been objectionable. But he did not consider that that was the case in this instance. The statement made was that the scheme consisted of three portions, and that one only was opposed. That portion was dropped by the promoters, and it was quite in accordance with the powers of the Standing Orders Committee to allow that course to be followed. He was not able to say what the details of the measure were. There might be great objections to the scheme; but he thought it was one that deserved to be referred to a Committee upstairs for their investigation and decision.


remarked that it was only under exceptional circumstances that the House consented to reject a Bill of this nature on the second reading. What he wished to point out to the House was this—that in connection with the promotion of these schemes in the neighbourhood of London there was a large general public whose interests were not represented except upon the second reading. He spoke now as one of the general public who had no locus standi to go before a Committee upstairs. The frontagers could protect their rights, because they could be heard by counsel before the Committee; but he ventured to say that in the case of these schemes which had for their object the securing of a monopoly of a large portion of the public roads in the suburbs of London, it was not the frontagers alone whose interests were involved, but those of the general public as well. If it could be shown, as the hon. and learned Member for Newark opposite pointed out, that this was one of those roads largely made use of by people living in London and riding down to Twickenham, and that the proposed tramway would occupy so large a portion of the public road as to be a serious hindrance to traffic, then he thought it was one of those cases in which the general public should have a right to be heard in that House on the second reading of the Bill. He had no hesitation in saying that, as far as he himself was concerned, he should take the unusual course of voting against the second reading.


said, he took considerable interest in the question of tramways, and he hoped to be permitted to say that he thought the objections taken to the Bill, if they had any force at all, applied to all Tramway Bills. No doubt all tramways did interfere more or less with the comfort of carriage-driving people; but there were other classes upon whom tramways conferred inestimable advantages, and therefore he entertained the hope that the Bill would be allowed to go up to a Select Committee, where the statements made would not be of an ex parte character, but where there would be a full examination into the merits of the scheme. When it came down to the House, after such an examination, it could receive the impartial consideration of the House. He therefore hoped that the recommendation of the Chairman of "Ways and Means would be accepted by the House, and that the Bill would be read a second time.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 112; Noes 86: Majority 26.—(Div. List, No. 51.)

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read a second time, and committed.

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