HC Deb 06 July 1883 vol 281 cc596-9

MR. E. S. HOWARD moved— That it be an Instruction to the Committee to inquire and report whether the proposed Railway will interfere with the enjoyment of the public, who annually visit the Lake District, by injuriously affecting the scenery in that neighbourhood, or otherwise; and that they have power to receive Evidence upon the subject.


said, that on the part of the promoters of the Bill, he was authorized to state that they did not intend to offer any opposition to this Instruction; but he thought it was right that he should take advantage of the opportunity to explain the circumstances in which he found himself yesterday. A most unusual course was then taken by several hon. Members. The case had been brought under his notice shortly before he entered the House, when he was informed that there would be no opposition to the Bill. He was, therefore, very much astonished to find that an opposition was raised by the hon. Member for West Cumberland (Mr. Ainsworth), who had presented a Petition on his own account against the Bill. He held a copy of that Petition in his hand, and the grounds on which the hon. Member opposed the Bill were that the Railway would intercept his property in an injurious manner and impair its value, and also the value of the property of other proprietors in the neighbourhood. The hon. Member had further alleged that the Bill was not promoted for the public interest, but for the benefit of private individuals, and that the House ought to reject it.


wished to point out to the right hon. and learned Gentleman that he was wandering from the point before the House. He must confine himself to the Instruction which had been moved.


said, he was coming to that; but, unless he stated the circumstances, he did not see how he was to make the House comprehend the position in which the matter was placed. All he desired was that the House should know that the opposition to the Bill was merely a landowner's opposition. After the hon. Member for West Cumberland had addressed the House yesterday, up rose the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), who made another and an altogether different statement in regard to the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman said the proposed Railway would have the effect of spoiling one of the most beautiful pieces of scenery in the Kingdom; and the question before the House to decide on the second reading of the Bill was whether it would allow one of the most beautiful features of the Lake District to be spoilt without further inquiry? Now, that was a question to which the hon. Member for West Cumberland, in introducing his opposition to the Bill, had never referred in any way. The hon. Member himself had never suggested that the proposed line of Railway would interfere in any respect whatever with the scenery of the district. That suggestion came entirely from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford. Unfortunately, he (Mr. Bentinck) had exhausted his power of addressing the House yesterday; he was unable to say a word in explanation, and that was the reason why he desired to do so on this occasion. He totally denied the suggestion that the line would in any way interfere with the scenery of the district, and it was a question for a Committee on that Bill to decide. It ought not to have been allowed to be raised in a mere harum scarum manner upon the ipse dixit of a single hon. Member. He, therefore, reiterated his statement that the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford was most unusual. But the matter did not rest there, because he found, to his great surprise, on going into the Lobby that there were with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford several Members of Her Majesty's Government—namely, the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works (Mr. Shaw Lefevre), the President of the Local Government Board (Sir Charles W. Dilke), the political Under Secretary of the Board of Trade (Mr. J. Holms), and the noble Lord the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice), and he believed some others. He altogether protested against such conduct as this, for never during his Parliamentary experience had he seen anything of the kind. It was a principle of the House to give the promoters of such Bills an opportunity of being heard, and not to reject such a measure as this on the second reading on account of the personal grievance of any hon. Member. He desired to add that he was not one of the promoters of the Bill; but he knew the locality very well—no one better—and he was perfectly satisfied that it would not do any injury to the scenery. However, on behalf of the promoters of the Bill, he was authorized to say that they courted the fullest inquiry in every way; and therefore, on their behalf, he did not object to the Instruction which had now been moved.


wished, before the Question was put, to ask whether there was any precedent of a similar Instruction? During the time that he had been in the House he had never heard of any Instruction of this kind being given to a Committee, and the House ought to be informed whether there was any precedent for the proposal now made?


said, there was a precedent in the ease of the Manchester Corporation Water Bill. He believed that Clause 13 of the Bill required the Corporation of Manchester to enter into a certain undertaking in regard to making certain plantations, in order to prevent the scenery from being interfered with; and if they failed to comply with that provision, there was a power to take them before the Justices of the Peace.


knew nothing of the Bill; but the hon. Member who moved the Instruction ought to say whether there was any likelihood of the scenery being destroyed, if it was not passed. They ought to have a distinct statement whether that was likely to be the case or not. He understood the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) to state that the promoters did not propose in any way to interfere with the scenery, and that they altogether disclaimed any intention of interfering with it.


said, that was perfectly correct.


pointed out that there was an Instruction given to a Committee almost identical with the one which had been moved by the hon. Member for East Cumberland (Mr. E. S. Howard). It would be found that in the case of the Bill promoted by the Corporation of Manchester, which proposed to take certain portions of the Thirlmere Lake, an Instruction was given to the Committee to strike out the provisions of that Bill which might have the effect of destroying the scenery; and unless an Instruction of the same kind was given before the present Bill was sent to a Select Committee, it would be impossible for the Committee to consider the matter.

Question put.

The House divided: Ayes 78; Noes 42: Majority 36.—(Div. List, No. 178.)