§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Sir Edward Watkin.)
§ MR. RITCHIE,
in rising to move as an Amendment that the Bill be read a second time upon that day three months, said, he was aware that in proposing to ask the House to reject a Private Bill upon the second reading, he was doing that which was not always a convenient course to pursue. He was quite aware of the inconvenience of asking the House to come to a decision on a question of this kind; but, at the same time, he hoped the House, if sufficient cause was shown for rejecting a Bill, would not part with its right to do so. He believed that in this case he should be perfectly able to show sufficient reason why the House should not consent to the second reading of the Bill. He should content himself with very few words, for he did not propose to detain the House at any length. In a very few words he thought he should be able to show the House that a proposition was contained in the present Bill which was of an altogether unprecedented nature, and one which fully justified him in asking the House not to give the Bill a second reading. The ground upon which he rested his argument was one which required no evidence. It was one which required no investigation, and it was one upon which the House could have no difficulty whatever in coming to a conclusion without any great amount of argument. There was an Act of Parliament which was passed in the year 1845, called the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act, which was passed for the purpose of securing uniformity in the provisions of Private Bills so far as compensation was concerned. It applied to the provisions of all such Private Bills as that which was now before the House of Commons, and naturally all those whose property was at all likely to be interfered with felt secure that under the provisions of that Act 44 they were protected from certain proceedings on the part of the promoters of these Bills which were calculated prejudicially to affect the rights of private property. But the Bill which the House was now asked to read a second time proposed for the first time, he thought, altogether to set aside a very important clause in the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act, and to go under and take portions of premises without the promoters of the Bill being compelled to take the whole. As he had already intimated, the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act was passed in 1845 for the purpose of securing uniformity in the various Acts relative to the acquisition of lands for undertakings or works of a public nature; and Section 92 said—Be it enacted that no party shall at any time be required to sell or convey to the promoters of the undertaking a part only of any house, or other building, or manufactory, if such party be willing and able to sell and convey the whole thereof.He did not know whether hon. Members had in their hands the Bill which it was now proposed to read a second time. If they had, by turning to Clause 10, they would find the following words:—With respect to any houses or buildings which the two Companies are by the provisions of the Act of 1879 or this Act authorized to enter on, take, and use, for purposes of the railways, and under which, or any part of which, or the premises connected therewith, it is proposed that the railways shall be made; the two Companies shall not be required to take those houses, buildings, or premises, or the site thereof, but the two Companies may appropriate and use the soil or ground lying under any such houses, buildings, or premises, or under any part or parts thereof respectively, and may purchase, and the owners of such houses, buildings, and premises respectively, shall, if required, sell to the two Companies an easement to use for making and maintaining the railway, so much of the said soil or ground as they may require for those purposes, and the purchase of any such easement shall not in any case be deemed the purchase of a part of a house, or other building, or manufactory, within Section 92 of the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act, 1845.This was the clause which it was proposed to insert in the Bill for the benefit of the promoters of the measure; and in order to enable them to pay a somewhat larger dividend to their shareholders this clause proposed to repeal the restricting section of the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act. It might be said that those who were interested in 45 the matter would have their remedy by-appearing' and giving evidence before the Committee upstairs upon the question; but he took it that there were many people interested in such a matter as this who would not, even if they desired it, have any locus standi before the Committee. He took it that the inhabitants of the district as inhabitants, the occupiers of houses as occupiers, would have no locus standi before the Committee; but even if they did have a locus standi he contended that it was not fair, it was not just, and it was not expedient that these people should be required to go to the serious expense of appearing before a Committee in order to defend the position which had been given to them by an Act of Parliament in 1845 for the express purpose of providing against any such action as that which was now proposed by the present Bill. He contended, however, that there were many interested in this matter who had no locus standi, and who would receive no compensation, although materially affected by the proposals contained in the Bill. The occupier of a house or building under which it was proposed to run this railway by this Bill would have no claim whatever to any kind of compensation; and it was specially on their behalf that he asked the House of Commons to reject altogether such an unprecedented proposition as that which was now placed before them. But on the part of the owners of property who would have a locus standi, and whom it was proposed in some shadowy way to compensate, he maintained that they had no right to be asked to come before a Committee of the House of Commons and incur the large expense that would be entailed in defending the rights which had been conferred upon them by the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act. They had no right to be called upon by this Rail-way Company for their own purposes to part with the foundations of their houses, so that for all future time they would be unable to deal with them on the simple understanding that they would have some claim to moderate compensation. He was very unwilling indeed to trespass on the time of the House at any length at such an hour of the day. He hoped he had stated sufficient broadly to enable the House to come to a conclusion that this was a Bill 46 which ought not to be read a second time. It was a Bill of such an exceptional nature that he thought the House would be justified in throwing it out on the second reading. He had just had placed in his hands the case of the promoters of the Bill; but a perusal of it led him to the conclusion that it did not alter in one iota the force of the objections he had stated to the House. The case of the promoters simply amounted to this—"We ask the House of Commons, by giving us these extraordinary powers, to enable us to give to our shareholders a larger amount of dividend than we would be able otherwise to do." Upon this ground alone the House was asked to legislate for this Company on other lines than those which all other underground railways in this Metropolis had hitherto been required to go upon. It was one question to say whether negotiations might not be entered into with the owners of property as to whether they were willing to allow a Railway Company to go under their property without requiring them to take the whole of it; but it was altogether a different thing to say by Act of Parliament that they should not have the power of refusing, but should be compelled to part with their rights of property. And for what purpose was this exceptional privilege to be conferred? Simply for the purpose of enabling a private Company to pay a larger dividend to their shareholders; and in order to do that the House of Commons was asked to set aside an Act of Parliament on which all Bills of this nature had hitherto been based. He begged, in conclusion, to move that the Bill be read a second time on that day three months.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months."—(Mr. Ritchie.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ SIR EDWARD WATKIN
regretted that, once again in the new Parliament, he should be called upon to trouble the House, even for a moment, in defending the rights of Petitioners for Private Bills. In the old Parliament he had had to defend those rights over and over again; and, with only one exception, the House had permitted the promoters of 47 Private Bills to introduce their scheme. Having exercised the Constitutional right of presenting a Petition, and having had the prayer of that Petition granted by the first reading of their Bill, it was altogether unjust and unfair to refuse to those Petitioners, whose Petition had been granted by the House, the right of having their case heard by a Committee upstairs, that Committee being practically the House itself. This was nothing more nor less than an attempt upon the part of the opponents of the Bill to stop a great public work. The hon. Member (Mr. Ritchie) said—and it was a very cheap assertion to make—that the object of the Bill was to contravene the provisions of an Act of Parliament in order to increase the dividends of a private Company. He (Sir Edward Watkin) begged to say that it was nothing of the kind. Certainly, before the hon. Member came to the House and troubled them, at that inconvenient hour of the day, by laying down the law upon the question, he ought to have made himself acquainted with what the law actually was He seemed to be under the impression that the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act of 1845 had never been modified or altered since it was first enacted. But Parliament, in dealing with underground railways, had already given the promoters of Private Bills power to take any part of any premises outside the principal walls of a house, and power to underpin the house without taking the house at all. In this case it was simply proposed to give an extension of that principle, and to say that, if the promoters did not wish to incur the wasteful expense of pulling property down when engineering skill would enable them to do so without inflicting such demolition of property, they might burrow under the property, compensating for all damage to everyone affected. The hon. Member ought, in fairness, to have said that compensation was provided by the Bill.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, he had made that statement. He had said that the owners of property were promised some kind of compensation by the clause.
§ SIR EDWARD WATKIN
wished the House clearly to understand that compensation was provided in the Bill both for the owner and the tenant. The work which it was proposed to sanction by the measure was of a very exceptional nature. It was the completion of the Underground Railway by adding a mile 48 of railway between the Mansion House Station and High Street, Aldgate. The line passed through a very important part of the City of London, and if it could not be made cheaply it would not be made at all. The question then was, was the line to be made or not? Were they going to refuse the promoters the right to be heard before a Committee upstairs? He was prepared to submit, as far as he was concerned, to the decision of the House; but he did not believe that the House would be prepared to stop a great and important public work, and refuse to read the Bill a second time, because some Gentlemen in the City of London wanted to have the whole of their premises taken, and to saddle the promoters with a wasteful expenditure, instead of being compensated for the actual injury they sustained. Under these circumstances, he hoped the House would reject the Motion of the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets, and read the Bill a second time.
said, it seemed somewhat strange that the hon. Member for Hythe (Sir Edward Watkin) should have spoken so strongly in favour of the Bill, of its urgent necessity, and the injustice that would be done to the promoters by rejecting it, when it was well known that the hon. Member had been for many years an opponent of this very line.
§ SIR EDWARD WATKIN
rose to Order. The statement of the hon. and gallant Member, who was a director of the railway in 1874, was entirely out of Order, and was altogether unfounded.
said, that unless the Speaker ruled that he was out of Order, he would repeat what he had stated—that the hon. Member for Hythe had himself been one of the chief obstacles to the completion of this line from the time it was first projected in 1874, under the name of the Inner Circle Completion Railway, which was a proposal to continue the line from the Mansion House Station to the thickly populated parts of the City about Mincing Lane; and as the hon. Member for Hythe was Chairman of the South Eastern Railway Company, he did not wish to see this line completed, as it would draw away some of the traffic on that line between Cannon Street and Charing Cross. The hon. Member said it was quite irregular, or very nearly so, to prevent a Petition for 49 a Private Bill from going to a Committee. He (Captain. Aylmer) was sorry to detain the House even for a moment; but he wished to point out that there was a precedent for the course now proposed to be taken by the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Ritchie) in regard to the Bill. The hon. Member for Hythe brought in a Bill in 1876, which contained a clause of exactly the same nature as one in the present Bill; but it was opposed and rejected on the second reading. The present Bill proposed that interest on capital should be paid out of capital, and the Bill of 1876 had a clause to the same effect; and, although it was promoted by the hon. Gentleman, the House rejected it upon the second reading upon that ground. He (Captain Aylmer) thought the House would be justified in rejecting the present Bill for the same reason. The principle it involved was one of an exceptionally dangerous character; and if the House rejected the Bill it would simply be following the precedent which had already been established. It ought also to be rejected because it was an attempt to override an Act passed last Session, in which certain conditions were laid down in regard to another scheme, which conditions were not carried out in the present measure. Upon these grounds he seconded the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets for the rejection of the Bill.
§ SIR HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON
said, that setting aside the question between the hon. and gallant Member for Maidstone (Captain Aylmer) and the hon. Member for Hythe (Sir Edward Watkin), as to whether there were rival schemes for the completion of this line of railway, the question they had really to consider was, whether the objections that had been taken to the Bill were in themselves objections to the ordinary practice of the House with regard to Private Bills, and should induce the House to stop the measure now instead of leaving it to a Committee to deal with the Bill when it came in the ordinary course before them. He should not have risen to take part in the debate if it had not been for the circumstance that the completion of this Inner Circle was an object of the greatest possible importance to the division he had the honour to represent of a neighbouring county to the Metropolis. Business 50 men who had long been anxious for the completion of the Inner Circle saw the contests which were going on between different Railway Companies to prevent what would be a great public work with the greatest possible regret; and he ventured to say that the question was one of such deep importance to the general commercial world, and of such especial importance to people engaged in commerce who lived in the county which he had the honour to represent, that he thought hon. Members should pause before they adopted a course which was seldom attempted in that House—namely, that of rejecting a Private Bill upon the second reading, and of not allowing it to go before a Select Committee for its merits to be sifted, and for the opponents to be heard in the ordinary way. He sincerely trusted that the House would not adopt the course suggested by the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets, but would consent to read the Bill a second time.
MR. ROWLEY HILL
had no desire to interfere with the passing of a measure to promote a great public improvement; but, at the same time, he thought that it was highly important for the House to maintain the rights of the owners of property to whom Parliament in its wisdom had given protection. This Bill, as far as he understood its provisions, proposed not merely to complete the Inner Circle Railway, but also to abolish and get rid of some very important provisions of the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act, which were enacted for the protection of the owners of property. The hon. Baronet who proposed the second reading of the Bill (Sir Edward Watkin) did not pretend to say that the measure conferred the rights it sought in a way which had ever been attempted before. Although Parliament in some cases had allowed the underpinning of walls, this Bill went much further, and allowed an easement to be acquired under the houses beneath which the line was to pass. In this way very valuable property in the City might be destroyed, and the continuity of premises interfered with in a very important manner. He, therefore, trusted that the House would be of opinion that it was due to themselves to stand by the rule they had themselves laid down for the protection of the owners of property, and that they would not consent to set it aside by reading the Bill a second time. It was true that 51 the opponents would have an opportunity of going before a Committee upstairs; but what right had any Railway Company to ask that individuals should be put to the cost of appearing before a Committee to protect the rights which Parliament had conferred upon them? These rights were granted by the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act of 1845; and he trusted that Parliament would now send the Bill back again to its promoters with an intimation that if they desired to pass it they must bring it in again without these objectionable clauses. The hon. Baronet who moved the second reading of the Bill himself admitted that it involved an injustice to the owners of property, because he said that it would enable the line to be made in a cheaper manner than other lines had been able to be made. And how was the cheapening to be effected? Why, by robbing the owners of private property. He hoped the House would stand by the owners of private property, and not allow a Railway Company to exercise these tyrannical powers over them. This Company had for many years past been serving notices of various kinds upon the owners of property, which left such owners in a state of uncertainty with regard to the valuable property they possessed, and prevented them from dealing with it to the advantage they might otherwise have done if there had been no element of uncertainty. In the end, the Acts which had been obtained had not been carried out. He trusted the House would reject the Motion for the second reading of the Bill.
§ MR. LYON PLAYFAIR
said, the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets had justly drawn the attention of the House to a peculiarity in the present Bill which did not yet exist in any of the Acts passed by that House. The peculiarity was that the railway might burrow under a house without the directors being compelled of necessity to buy the whole house under which they burrowed. But the question before the House at present was whether this new power should be carefully considered by a Select Committee, or whether the House should reject the second reading of the Bill. It was, undoubtedly, a new power, which the House had never before given. It had given power to burrow under cellars, and to underpin the 52 walls of a house; but, at the present moment, there was no power to burrow under a house itself. Still, though this was a new power, as the attention of the House had been drawn to it, the Select Committee would carefully consider it on its merits, and would be able to advise the House, with a full knowledge of the circumstances, whether it was wise that this power should be given by an Act of Parliament. There was another power to which the hon. and gallant Member for Maidstone (Captain Aylmer) had referred, and that was also peculiar to this Bill—namely, that interest should be given to capital during the course of construction. It was true that the clause did not profess to pay interest out of capital, but out of some reserve fund. As paying interest on capital during construction was against the spirit of Standing Order 167, the Select Committee would be required to consider that clause also. There was nothing, so far as he saw, in considering this Bill, as Chairman of Committees, which induced him to advise the House to refuse the second reading of the measure. But if it was referred to a Select Committee, he thought they should carefully consider these two points as well as another clause referring to the limits of deviation.
MR. ALDERMAN W. LAWRENCE
said, the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down (Mr. Lyon Play fair) told the House there were peculiarities connected with the present Bill, although he did not see anything to prevent them from reading the Bill a second time, even although it contained clauses that were shown to be of a very exceptional character. He believed that this was the first time that clauses of this kind had ever been introduced into any Railway Bill whatever. Last year the Bill promoted by the Metropolitan Railway and the Metropolitan District Railway was sent upstairs and very ably argued there. It met with very great opposition, and it was thought that the Railway Companies had made an excellent bargain before the Committee upstairs. They were enabled to pass certain new clauses that were strongly objected to; but he was certain that if the Bill of last year had contained this clause—Clause 10—the measure would never have been passed at all. The objection which he entertained to the Bill now 53 was to the principle that a Railway Company should come before Parliament with a Bill in one Session, and after it had been ably discussed upstairs, alterations made, and the Bill passed into law, and after having carried on negotiations with the Metropolitan Board of Works, and with the authorities of the City of London, in reference to the contributions to be paid towards the formation of the new street, and finding that they were not able to come to an agreement with them, should introduce another Bill at the next Session of Parliament with entirely different provisions. He might mention in connection with this railway that the completion of the Inner Circle was admitted to be of great importance by everyone. At the same time, there was connected with the completion of the Railway the formation of a new street which was of equal importance, and which was to open up a communication between the West and the East Ends of the Metropolis. The combination of the two schemes was part of the arrangement sanctioned by the Committee upstairs. Clauses were inserted in the Bill for carrying out this arrangement between the Railway Companies, the Metropolitan Board of Works, and the authorities of the City of London. Negotiations had been going on, and various sums had been mentioned in connection with the works between the three parties to the arrangement—the Metropolitan Board of Works on the one part, the Corporation of the City of London on the second part, and the Metropolitan Railway Company and the Metropolitan District Railway Company on the third part. They had not yet been able to agree upon all the points, although they had been coming somewhat nearer together. It seemed that two of the parties undertook the responsibility of paying the other party a certain specified sum of money. Under these circumstances, he held that it was too bad for the Railway Companies, after having obtained the passing of their former Bill, and not having been able to complete the negotiations, to object to the arrangement in regard to the new street. It was unfair for the Railway Companies to say now—"We will make the railway without the new street; we will burrow under your houses, and go to Parliament and ask them for power to complete our railway, 54 leaving you to do what you like with regard to the new street." The new street was of quite as much importance to the inhabitants of the Metropolis as the completion of the Inner Circle Railway. The Railway Company were to have the advantage of making their railway under that new street, and the arrangement would be of mutual benefit to the three parties. If properly carried out, it would be of benefit to the Metropolitan Board of Works and the Corporation of London as well as to the Railway Companies. It would be of benefit to the Board of Works and the Corporation of London to have the new street, and it would be of benefit to the Railway Companies to have their railway completed. In all probability, if the Railway Companies were allowed to have recourse to a new arrangement, the opportunity of forming a new street would be lost. If the House threw out the present Bill he had not the slightest doubt in the world that an arrangement would be come to that would be satisfactory to all the parties concerned. Therefore he urged that if the House was disposed at any time to sanction the principle of enabling a Railway Company to burrow under private property, this was not the time for establishing such a principle, and it was not the time for permitting a Railway Company to bring in a new Bill with a fresh clause setting aside the arrangement which had been made and completed. He had thought that the House had seen the last of everything connected with the completion of the Inner Circle Railway. If the House consented to pass the present Bill, he had no doubt that the Railway Company would bring in another little Bill next year. The Corporation of the City of London and the other authorities opposed the Bill, and he called upon the House to reject it. In that event he had no doubt they would soon find that a great improvement would take place in the arrangements, without troubling a Committee upstairs to discuss this or that peculiar feature of the scheme. The Bill was simply brought in to enable the Railway Company to add a clause to their former Bill conferring powers on the Company which they had not dared to ask for in their original scheme. He hoped the House would reject the second reading of the Bill and refuse to give the power now 55 asked for to burrow under the property of private individuals.
§ MR. EVANS
said, the whole matter was fully argued before the Select Committee last year. The Bill then brought forward was a very important one, and several of the questions mooted to-day had been raised before that Committee, and in principle adopted. The Committee consented to allow the underpinning of walls and cellars without requiring the Railway Company to take the whole of the premises; but, on the other hand, they refused to entertain the question without also including the proposal for the formation of a new street. He thought that, in all probability, if the new street had been left out of the Bill altogether, it was very doubtful whether the Committee would have passed the Preamble of the Bill. It was, therefore, a very important point to consider now. What had been said about the underpinning of houses was a matter that was not brought before the Committee, although the question of underpinning cellars and walls was; and it was, therefore, impossible for him to say what view the Committee might have taken upon that point. Still, he thought, with the right hon. Gentleman the Chairman of Ways and Means, that it was a proper question to be submitted to a Committee upstairs; and he therefore ventured to suggest that the House should assent to the second reading of the Bill, with the view of having that question carefully considered by a Committee, and it was certain to be fully and ably argued before them. The new street was quite another matter, and he very much doubted indeed whether any Committee would consent to the abandonment of that portion of the scheme.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 174; Noes 100: Majority 74.—(Div. List, No. 23.)
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time, and committed.
in moving—That it be an Instruction to the Committee on the Bill to consider and Report on the course taken by the Metropolitan and Metropolitan District Railway Companies, the Promoters of the Bill, in carrying into effect the powers of 'The Metropolitan and Metropolitan District Railways Act, 1879,' and 'The Metropolitan 56 Inner Circle Completion Act, 1874,' and also the expediency of granting an extension of time for the purchase of land for the line authorised by the Act of 1874 above-mentioned,said, he thought, after the remarks which had been made by the Chairman of the Committee which sat upon the Bill last year, that the House would consent to the reference which he now proposed. The same thing was done last year, and it was desirable that the new Committee which was to sit upon the present Bill should have before them all the facts connected with the great improvement which the Corporation of the City of London regarded as of so much importance. He would not detain the House longer, but would simply move the Instruction of which he had given Notice. The first part of it was agreed to by the House last year when the Bill was sent to a Committee upstairs, so that the whole of the subject might be fully considered. The last part required one or two remarks from him. When the Bill was considered last year, and the Preamble was declared to have been proved, it was ordered to run alongside of another Bill, and his object was to secure that the same course should be followed now.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That it he an Instruction to the Committee on the Bill to consider and report on the course taken by the Metropolitan and Metropolitan District Railway Companies, the Promoters of the Bill, in carrying into effect the powers of 'The Metropolitan and Metropolitan District Railway Act, 1879,' and 'The Metropolitan Inner Circle Completion Act 1874,' and also the expediency of granting an extension of time for the purchase of land for the line authorised by the Act of 1874 above-mentioned."—(Captain Aylmer.)
§ SIR EDWARD WATKIN
said, the hon. and gallant Member was a little more inaccurate in the statement he had just made than he was a little time ago. He should, however, like to ask the authorities of the House if there was any precedent for an Instruction of the kind proposed by the hon. and gallant Member for Maidstone.
§ THE SPEAKER
The hon. Member for Hythe (Sir Edward Watkin) has put a question on a point of Order. I see no objection, as far as the Forms of the House are concerned, technically speaking, in the proposition which the hon. and gallant Member for Maidstone (Captain Aylmer) has submitted.
§ SIR EDWARD WATKIN
said, he was sorry that it was necessary for him to trouble the House with any further remarks. The hon. and gallant Member was a projector of the undertaking, if it deserved the name of undertaking, alluded to—namely, the Act of 1874, which he said he wished to reinstate. He (Sir Edward Watkin) had gone through a number of accounts, and he found that the name of the hon. and gallant Member for Maidstone figured in them for the sum of £500 in the amount which the Metropolitan Company was to pay. The hon. and gallant Member, and those who acted with him, entered into a speculation for making a mile of railway, intending to make in pay and profit a sum of nearly £800.000. Would the hon. and gallant Member include that in the Reference, and also the way in which the deposit on the Bill had been manipulated? If he did, he (Sir Edward Watkin) should like to have an opportunity of exposing the matter before the Committee. If the hon. and gallant Member would postpone his Instruction until to-morrow, he (Sir Edward Watkin) would then bring up his Amendment to it, and the House could decide upon it. If not, he should oppose the Motion of the hon. and gallant Member.
said, he had not the slightest objection to extend the scope of the Instruction as desired by the hon. Member for Hythe, so that the whole question might go before the Committee.
§ SIR EDWARD WATKIN
said, that, under those circumstances, he would ask the hon. and gallant Member to give Notice to postpone his Motion until tomorrow.
§ Question put, and negatived.