HC Deb 08 May 1883 vol 279 cc194-220

Order for Third Reading read.


in moving that the Bill be now read the third time, said, he found that his hon. Friend the Member for Hertford (Mr. A. J. Balfour) had given Notice of an Amendment, to provide that the Bill should be re-committed. He (Sir Charles Forster) was quite aware that his hon. Friend, in taking that course, was quite within his strict Parliamentary right; but the course was one which was very unusual and inconvenient. No doubt, there had been a precedent, in the case of the Birmingham Sewerage Bill, in the year 1872; but, in this case, the Amendment was substantially the same as that which was moved by the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. J. Hollond), and rejected on the stage of the Report. Unless the House was prepared to undergo considerable loss of time in discussing Private Bills over and over again, this was not a course which the House ought to approve or to act upon. This was a Bill which his hon. Friend the Member for Mid Somersetshire (Mr. R. H. Paget), who acted as Chairman of the Select Committee, told them, on the last occasion, had received the unanimous approval of the Committee; and yet the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. A. J. Balfour) now proposed an Amendment almost identical with the one which was disposed of last week. In venturing to make these few remarks, he (Sir Charles Forster) did so, because he wished to enter his protest against a course by which the system of Private Bill legislation, which had been so useful in the past, was likely to be seriously impaired in the future. He begged to move that the Bill he read a third time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."—(Sir Charles Forster.)


said, he would admit that it was his duty to show to the House some reason why he asked them to re-hear this case; and, certainly, his hon. Friend the Member for Walsall (Sir Charles Forster), who had just sat down, had given him no cause of complaint when he warned the House to be very careful how they unnecessarily called in question the decisions of Private Bill Committees. But there was more than one reason why this Bill should be re-heard on the third reading. In the first place, the Amendment which his hon. Friend opposite the Member for Brighton (Mr. J. Hollond) moved on the Report was not the same Amendment which he was now asking the House to accept. Quite the contrary. Had his hon. Friend's Amendment been carried, a great hardship would undoubtedly have been inflicted on the London and North-Western Railway Company; and the fact that such was the case, no doubt, influenced a large number of hon. Gentlemen concerned in railway undertakings in voting against his hon. Friend in the division. In the second place, not only was the issue he was now raising of a much more limited kind than the issue raised by his hon. Friend opposite, but the division which took place on that occasion was one of the very narrowest description. In rather a full House, the Amendment was only rejected by a very small majority. There was a reason, even stronger than either of those he had given, which made it important that the House should reconsider this question; because a new circumstance had come to light since the Private Bill Committee considered the matter, and since the House itself dealt with it, which had a most important bearing on the due consideration of the case. The House would see precisely what this new fact was, when he recapitulated, in a few words, how the case stood. The London and North- western Railway Company came to the Committee for power to buy a small part of a disused burial ground. They could not ask the Trustees, to whom the burial ground belonged, to sell, until they were ready to sell, because, under the Act of Parliament which constituted the Trustees, they had no power to sell. The Trustees said—"We will not sell you the small portion of ground which is absolutely necessary for the enlargement of your Station; but we insist upon your taking three-fourths of the whole of the ground which belongs to us." The Committee made a compromise between the original proposal of the Railway Company and the demand of the Trustees, and they gave one-half of this burial ground to the Railway Company. It would be observed that the Committee struck a balance between the two parties—the Railway Company on the one hand, and the Trustees on the other; but would it be believed that when the Trustees insisted, or, rather, tried to induce the Railway Company to take three-fourths of the land, they were acting in strict contradiction to the wishes of the people they ought to have represented. The House was aware that this burial ground did not belong to the parish in which it was situated. It belonged to the parish of St. James, Westminster, and the Trustees were appointed by the Vestry of St. James, Westminster, who represented the ratepayers; and it was the fact—unknown to the Committee, and unknown to the House, which gave its decision last week—that the Vestry of St. James were indignant with the action taken by the Trustees, who nominally represented them, and were extremely anxious that the burial ground should be preserved, as by his Amendment it would be, as a recreation ground for the people of St. Pancras. The Vestry of St. James, who represented the ratepayers of St. James, wore not desirous that the ashes of their forefathers should be turned into a marketable commodity, as the Trustees appeared anxious to provide. They were prepared to hand over such part as the London and Northwestern Railway required for their new Station; but they were not prepared to see this burial ground, which had belonged to the parish from time immemorial, desecrated by being turned to some purely commercial use. The case, therefore, in favour of the Bill stood thus—if the Amendment were carried, the London and North-Western Railway Company would get all they required; while the other parties, the Trustees, were going altogether outside their duties, and did not represent the people they ought to represent. He now came to the other side of the question. Let them look at what they were going to do, if they took away this burial ground from the uses to which it might be put as a recreation ground, and turned it into stables. He could not help thinking that the House of Commons had shown itself, in many respects, slack in preserving these open spaces, notwithstanding the fact that the necessity for them, as open spaces, was a growing necessity. Whatever view they might take of the industrial developments now going on in England; however proud they might be of the increase of wealth it indicated, they could not shut their eyes to the necessary and attendant evils of it. Year by year the population of the country was diminishing, and the population of the towns was increasing. Year by year a larger portion of the population were being driven to lodge in squalid houses, with imperfect ventilation and defective accommodation. People spoke of those who advocated the retention of open spaces, as he was now doing, as if-they were actuated by sentimental considerations only. They gave it a bad name, and then they voted against it. Now, he contended that the retention of open spaces was no more a sentimental object than a good drainage system, or good lodging and good accommodation. The well-being and health of the people, be day and intellectually, were as much be und up in the keeping of these open spaces, and increasing them to the utmost of their power, as any of those vast schemes of drainage and ventilation in which the House was constantly concerning itself. Did hon. Members reflect upon the fact that a vast proportion of the population, in the whole course of their lives, from one year's end to the other, never saw a bit of turf, or a tree, or a flower? Those to whom residence in town was an agreeable incident were unable to understand either the pleasure that was given by parks and recreation grounds, or the absolute necessity they were to the poorer people who inhabited the large towns in this country. A gentleman had written to him (Mr. A. J. Balfour) from St. George's in the East, a large and poor parish in the East End of London, where they had turned the burial ground into the sort of recreation ground he proposed in this case, which proposal he hoped the House would assent to so far as this Marylebone burial ground was concerned. The writer said that the old burial ground had proved a source of pleasure to thousands of children and others who were able to obtain fresh air and enjoy their first glimpse of a tree, or a shrub, or a flower from what they saw planted there. They who belonged to the parish, and had relatives buried there, thought there was no desecration even in the frequent football playing of the descendants of the dead on or around their graves, and they looked upon trees and flowers as a pleasing substitute for dingy gravestones. If the Amendment which he (Mr. A. J. Balfour) had put on the Paper, and now recommended to the attention of the House, were carried, they would, on the one hand, give to the Railway Company, which was the complaining party on this occasion, everything they absolutely required for their station purposes; and, on the other hand, they would confer a be on of great present value, and of increasing future value, upon the district around St. Pancras, especially as it became more and more thickly populated. He earnestly hoped that the House of Commons, by giving a decided vote on the question, would, in future, prevent claims being made by any Corporation, however powerful, to spots' which should be preserved intact for ever for the benefit of the labouring population in the great manufacturing towns. He hoped the House would understand that it was not in a captious or obstructive spirit that he brought forward this Amendment. There was a great question at issue; and he hoped the House would show, by their vote on the present occasion, that the interests of the people of St. Pancras had their attention. He begged to move, as an Amendment, that the Bill be re-committed; and, in the event of that Amendment being carried, he proposed to move— That it be an Instruction to the Committee to modify the provisions of the Bill in such a manner that the powers of purchase relating to the disused burial ground in the parish of St. Pancras be confined to such portions of the burial ground as may be necessary for the enlargement of Euston Station, and that such purchase be conditional on the laying out of the remaining portion of the burial ground as a suitable place of public recreation.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the words "now read the third time," in order to insert the word "re-committed,"—(Mr. A. J. Balfour,)—instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words ' now read the third time,' stand part of the Question."


said, he need scarcely assure the House that he was in sympathy with the remarks of the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. A. J. Balfour) with regard to the necessity of retaining open spaces, and the great value they were for the education and refinement of the people. But he would venture to ask the House to look at the question as one which had been already determined. [Cries of "No!"] Hon. Members might decline to accept that statement; but every argument which had been used in the present debate was also heard on the last occasion) and every thing they could say in favour of the scheme had again to be said. Therefore, practically, the re-hearing of the case which the hon. Gentleman demanded was a re-hearing by the same tribunal of precisely the same case which they had already heard and decided. He wished to disclaim, for himself and for those who had served on the Committee, any kind of personal feeling whatever in the matter. They had the whole case fully argued before them; they had before them the Metropolitan be and of Works and the Vestry of St. Pancras, who urged the open spaces' view of the question. All the evidence was heard and cross-examined upon; the Committee deliberated, and alter discussion, but without a division, they came to the conclusion which the thought the interests of all parties concerned best demanded. The House, although, undoubtedly, it had the right of determining eventually whether the decision of a Committee should be accepted or not, was not a good tribunal for going into minute questions. When a particular tribunal had been appointed to inquire into the merits of a Private Bill; when it had heard all the evidence; when it had had the whole case put clearly and thoroughly before it; and when it had, after due deliberation, come to the conclusion which it thought best, it was neither fair towards a Railway Company, or to a Private Bill Committee themselves, that the details, with which the Committee had been made familiar in evidence, should be raked up in an insufficient and irregular manner in the House. He would also venture to point out that, in this case, as in other cases, it was open to those who wished to reverse the decision of the Committee, to do so in the usual and regular way before the House of Lords; and he could not see any reason why this particular ease should be singled out to be dealt with in this exceptional way. It would be a matter of extreme inconvenience if decisions arrived at by Committees upstairs unanimously were to be made matters of discussion in the House, especially after they had already undergone one discussion, in which the whole case had been heard, determined, and voted upon in a full House. It was most inconvenient, under such circumstances, to rake up all these matters again upon the third reading of the Bill, with a view of reversing the judgment of the Committee. He trusted that the House would maintain the decision it arrived at the other day, and would send the Bill up to the House of Lords.


said, that when he saw this Notice on the Paper, and saw that it was practically raising the same question a second time which had already been discussed and settled, he thought he would endeavour to make himself, as far as he could, master of all the circumstances of the case, and that he would ascertain the way in which this burial ground was affected by the Bill. The inquiries he had made, irrespective of the Company itself, had induced him to hope that the excellent advice given by the Chairman of the Select Committee (Mr. R. H. Paget), and by his hon. Friend the Member for Walsall (Sir Charles Forster), would have been accepted, and that the House would not be asked practically to undo the decision they had already arrived at. Now, what were the facts of the case? This burial ground comprised about 16,600 square yards. The Select Committee was presided over by his hon. Friend opposite the Member for Mid Somersetshire, and hon. Gentlemen of all shades of politics looked upon that hon. Gentleman as one of the most able and experienced Chairmen who could be appointed. The House had beard the hon. Gentleman's remarks in regard to the Bill, and the very good defence he had made of the decision come to by the Committee. The Committee had fully considered the question, and they were of opinion that the wants of the Railway Company would be sufficiently provided for by dividing the burial ground between the Railway Company and the public, leaving that portion not taken by the Company under conditions by which it could be appropriated as a recreation ground for the people of St. Pancras. What the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. A. J. Balfour) now did was to ask the House not to give the Railway Company one-half, but only to give them one-third; and the whole question upon which the hon. Member asked for a decision of the House a second time was a question of 2,200 square yards of land, or very little more than a quarter of an acre. Upon such a paltry issue, the House were asked to reverse the decision of their own Committee. The question originally was not a very large one, and he thought he could show that there was no necessity for it to have been brought before the House at all. With regard to the graveyard, for a period of 30 years it had never been used as a burial place at all; it had not been kept in good order; there were very few tombstones in it; and that portion which the London and North-Western Railway Company desired to take was singularly devoid of tombstones or any other sepulchral decorations of any kind. That portion which it was intended to devote to purposes of recreation did contain tombstones; but, on examining them, he could find no more recent date than 1834, or nearly 50 years ago. A good deal had been said about the feelings of the people of the district. He believed that this burial ground was for some time a parochial churchyard. Of course, he had no wish that the graves of paupers should be more desecrated than those of persons who were better off. Far otherwise. He recollected the time when it was found necessary to take possession of the burial ground of the Society of Friends, in the neighbourhood of Bun-bill Fields. He himself went down to Bee the graveyard, when the bones of persons which had been interred there were removed, and he was struck by the careful manner in which the remains were dealt with. The human remains were gathered into cases and conveyed away under the superintendence of an able officer, who saw everything done decently, and in proper order. In regard to this being an open space, there was, perhaps, no part of London so well off for open spaces. ["Oh, oh!"] Hon. Members said "Oh;" but Regent's Park was not far from this spot. Any man could walk the distance in six minutes, and to Primrose Hill in 17 minutes. [Cries of "Oh!" and "No!"] Lot hon. Members who discredited that fact measure the distance upon the map, and they would find that he was right when he said that any man, walking at the rate of three miles an hour, would do the distance in 17 minutes. Within 200 or 300 yards there were Euston Square, Torrington Square, Campbell Square, and various other squares; and, in point of fact, there was not a place in London in which open spaces were less required than the place they were now speaking of. Independently of that fact, for 30 years the public had had no access to this ground; and now, if the decision of the Committee and of the House of Commons was ratified, one-half of it would be devoted to practical and useful purposes of recreation. Certain hon. Gentlemen raised a great outcry against taking this burial ground because it was an open space. But whore had those hon. Gentlemen been during the last 30 years, seeing that the ground had been allowed to remain entirely neglected, although there was an excellent building erected in the immediate neighbourhood of it—the London Temperance Hospital; and he believed the Trustees of that Hospital made no objection whatever to the Bill now before the House. At the present moment there was no thoroughfare whatever through this ground; but the plan provided by the Select Committee did secure a thoroughfare from Hampstead Road, which, at present, the public did not enjoy. But what pressed most upon his mind was that he believed this ground was required for the accommodation of the increasing traffic upon the Loudon and North-Western Railway. It formed part of a large scheme which had been prepared for the enlargement of Euston Square Station, in order to case the traffic. Anyone who knew the Euston and Camden Stations knew that the line between those points was a narrow one, hemmed in between high walls, and that it was necessary, in order to relieve the traffic coming into and leaving London, that the space near Euston Square should be largely added to. He thought his hon. Friend the Member for Hertford (Mr. A. J. Balfour) had established no case for calling upon the House to undo the decision of their Select Committee; and he, therefore, hoped the Amendment would be rejected.


said, that, as a Metropolitan Member, and as one who had long taken an interest in the preservation of open spaces, he trusted the House would allow him to make a very few observations upon this question. He entirely disagreed with his hon. Friend who had just spoken (Sir Joseph Pease) when he said that his hon. Friend the Member for Hertford (Mr. A. J. Balfour) had made out no case for bringing the matter again under the consideration of the House. Now, it seemed to him (Mr. Fawcett) quite impossible to imagine a stronger ease. Hon. Members who were fortunate enough to hear the hon. Member's short and, at the same time, very temperate speech, must have been convinced of the singular strength of his case. Of course, the most difficult case they had to meet was the one put forward by the hon. Member for Mid Somersetshire (Mr. R. H. Paget), who represented the Select Committee to whom the Bill had been referred. No one would doubt for a moment that the hon. Member and the other hon. Members of the Committee were as desirous of doing their duty, and of doing what they thought to be best for the interests of the public, as any other hon. Member of that House; but he (Mr. Fawcett) thought the doctrine of never reviewing the decision of a Committee might be pushed to a very objectionable extreme. He had no wish to pass censure upon the Committee; but the very fact that, after the Bill had been referred to a Select Committee, it must be read a third time in the House distinctly showed that the House considered it of importance that they themselves should retain in their own hands the power of reviewing the decision of their Committee; and it seemed to him that this was exactly the case in which it was fitting for the House to interpose. He fully admitted that, as a rule, the only questions struggled over in conflict before a Select Committee were questions between one Railway Company and another, or between some private Corporation and a Railway Company; and in such cases it was possible that all private interests were safeguarded before the Committee. But this was a case involving not simply private interests, but public interests, of which that House was naturally the guardian. Again, it had been said— "Why do you not let the matter stand over, and leave it for the House of Lords to settle?" But what would be the natural remark which the House of Lords would make in such a case? They would say—"The House of Commons, containing many Metropolitan Members, whose duty it is to look after the interests of the Metropolis, have not felt themselves called upon to oppose the third reading of the Bill. They must, therefore, have considered that there was not a strong case for opposition; and how can we be expected to do that which they refuse to do themselves?" Again, it had been urged that this was precisely the same case as that which was decided by the House by a small majority on the last occasion; but, with all respect to his hon. Friend the Member for Mid Somersetshire, he (Mr. Fawcett) contended that it was not the same case at all. What was determined on the last occasion was this. No less than 167 Members of the House thought the case, from a public point of view, so strong that the Railway Company ought not to have any of the land that they asked for. But what was the case presented now? The Railway Company originally asked for one-third of the burial ground; and not one-third, but one-half, was now allotted to them. What the House had to determine was, whether the Railway Company ought to be allowed to obtain more ground, which would otherwise be devoted to purposes of public enjoyment, than they originally asked for, and what they thought was sufficient for their wants. His hon. Friend the Member for South Durham (Sir Joseph Pease) said that this, after all, was a small and trumpery question, because it only concerned 2,200 square yards of land. Now, he (Mr. Fawcett) thought that if it was a question of 2,200 yards of land, in the midst of his own constituents—andhebelievedthatSt. Pancras was not less densely populated than the district he represented—it was by no means a small or a trumpery question. His hon. Friend little knew the needs and wants of the people of London. He little knew how vitally important it was—and each year it was becoming more important—that every foot of open ground should be preserved. He (Mr. Fawcett) had no hesitation in saying— and he expressed the opinion after consulting those who were likely to know-— that if the House was not careful in preserving every yard and foot of what remained in the shape of open spaces in the Metropolis, it would be impossible to maintain the health, and vigour, and welfare of the people of London. Therefore, without wishing to detain the House, he thought he had said enough to show that, though at first sight this might appear to be a small question, it was one which concerned the health and well-being of the people, and was one which the House had pre-eminently the right to decide. With some confidence, he thought he might anticipate what their decision would be.


said, the present position of the question was remarkable, inasmuch as the people interested in this land did not propose to acquire it for themselves. It had already been pointed out by his hon. Friend the Member for Hertford (Mr. A. J. Balfour) that the inhabitants of the parish of St. Pancras were themselves opposed to the course which the Trustees had taken in the matter; and lie (Mr. Firth) thought that that fact, which had come to the knowledge of the House since the matter was discussed before, was a point of very considerable importance. How did the case now stand? He found that the Railway Company only asked originally for a small portion of the land, and that very portion his hon. Friend proposed by his Amendment to give them. He (Mr. Firth) regretted that the House could not see its way to preventing the Railway Company from taking any of this open space at all; but the complications of the case were such that there had hardly been any sort of proper representation of the public interests before the Select Committee. He believed that the parish of St. Pancras was anxious to preserve this open space for the benefit and recreation of the people. St. Pancras had a population of 250,000. The burial ground, however, did not belong to the parish of St. Pancras at all, but to another parish some distance away. There was an Act passed in 1881, under which the burial ground might have been transferred to the Metropolitan be and of Works or the Vestry of St. Pancras; but, as a matter of fact, it had not been so transferred. The parish of St. Pancras expressed its willingness to take it over if it were transferred; and if it had been taken over it would have been very greatly for the benefit of the people living there. It was suggested by the hon. Baronet the Member for South Durham (Sir Joseph Pease) that the inhabitants of the district did not require open spaces of this kind; but, as had been well said by the right hon. Gentleman the Postmaster General, every inch of open ground was wanted for the benefit of the people of London. If hon. Members would go eastward of this ground they would find many thousands of people to whom open spaces of this kind would be a great be on and relief; and no one could imagine the extent of that be on and relief unless he had gone into the dwellings of the poor and had endeavoured to realize the condition in which they lived. Hon. Members like the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. A. J. Balfour) took up and contested questions of this kind for them; but he was afraid that such Gentlemen too often laboured in vain in defence of the interests of the poor. He trusted the House would see its way to support the proposition now made. Attention had been called to the fact that 55 Railway Directors were in favour of this ground being taken from the people of the Metropolis. He presumed that every Member of the House could become a Railway Director if he thought fit; but he refused to believe that occucupying that important position signified the hardening of the human heart. [Cries of "Oh!"] His hon. Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) said "Oh!" and probably his hon. Friend had had a wide experience as to the hardening of the human heart; but his hon. Friend's experience differed from his (Mr. Firth's). It was a remarkable thing that Railway Companies found the most convenient places for driving a railway through were either open spaces devoted to the benefit of the poor, or ground covered by the habitations of the poor. That fact would be found amply illustrated by the condition of things which occurred in this case; and he thought it would be found that no authority appeared before the Committee which was qualified to defend the interests of the poor. It was to be hoped that the Government were about to give them some such authority in the Metropolis; but until they did so he hoped the House would see their way to support Resolutions such as that which had been proposed by the hon. Member for Hertford, and which, if adopted, would do something for the benefit of the poor.


said, he would only make a few observations in regard to the Bill, because they had already had a full discussion, not only to-day, but on a previous occasion. He did not think the House would act wisely if they adopted the Motion of the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. A. J. Balfour); and they ought to reflect upon the consequences which the adoption of the Motion might have upon the proceedings of the House hereafter. He must say he thought it somewhat hard that hon. Members, like the hon. and learned Member for Chelsea (Mr. Firth), who had just sat down, should suppose that anyone who did not agree with him on a question like this must necessarily be opposed to the interests of the poor. Now, he begged to say, for one, that he had had more opportunities of giving evidence of his feeling in regard to open spaces in the interests of the poor than the hon. and learned Member himself; but, setting aside altogether the question of open spaces, he would confine himself to the question presented to the House. He thought it would be a very inconvenient course if the House were to determine to refuse to accept the decisions of Select Committees specially appointed to inquire into the merits of Private Bills. He had studied the proceedings of this Committee, and he held in his hand a report of the Evidence taken by the Committee; and he found that all the matters to which hon. Gentlemen had referred had been examined into by the tribunal presided over by the hon. Member for Mid Somersetshire (Mr. R. H. Paget). Among other things, there had been a Report from the Home Office, in which no objection was taken to the proposals of the Railway Company in regard to the burial ground. That Report was laid before the Committee, and considered by them; and they introduced provisions into the Bill in accordance with the recommendations contained in the Report. That being the ease, and the question having been fully discussed on a former occasion, and having been fully examined into by the Committee presided over by an hon. Gentleman quite as competent as any hon. Member of the House to be the Chairman of a Committee, he (Sir Arthur Otway) thought the House would do well to adopt the decision of the Committee. His hon. Friend the Member for Hertford (Mr. A. J. Balfour) said the proposition now made was not exactly the same as that presented to the House last week. No; it was not exactly the same; but it was exceedingly like it. In regard to what had fallen from his right hon. Friend the Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett), he wished to point out that this was not a case of reviewing one decision of the House, but of reviewing two decisions. They reviewed the decision of the Committee last week, and the House then decided by a majority to support it. If it became the habit of the House, after a Select Committee had been appointed to examine into a Bill, to review the decision of that Committee, and, on a further stage of a Bill, to review the discussion, they would take a course which would not only be highly inconvenient, but would strike a serious blow at the usefulness of Select Committees. If the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for Hertford went to a division, he should feel be und to go into the Lobby against him.


said, he would detain the House only for one moment from the division. He was very desirous of showing what the true facts of the case wore. There was no desire, on their part, to accuse those hon. Members who differed from them of being neglectful of the interests of the poor. He knew that the House was perfectly alive to that matter, and that they only desired to do that which was necessary for the public interests. In reference to the remarks of the Chairman of Ways and Means (Sir Arthur Otway), he (Mr. Bryce) asked the House to consider what the Amendment was. The pro- posal of the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. J. Hollond) last week was that the decision of the Committee should be reversed, by prohibiting the London and North-Western Railway Company from taking any portion of this ground. [Cries of "No!"] Yes; that was so; and it was from that point that the question was argued. A compromise was suggested by the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works (Mr. Shaw Lefevre), who proposed that a Motion similar to that now made by the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. A. J. Balfour) should be adopted; but that compromise was not accepted. His hon. Friend the Member for Hertford's Motion gave now exactly what the Railway Company originally asked for; and his hon. Friend agreed to the request of the Railway Company that it should be allowed to take whatever was absolutely necessary for the purpose of enlarging Euston Square Station. His hon. Friend proposed to move, in the event of the Bill being ro-committed— That it be an Instruction to the Committee to modify the provisions of the Bill in such a manner that the powers of the purchase relating to the disused burial ground in the parish of St. Pancras be confined to such portions of the burial ground as may be necessary for the enlargement of Euston Station, and that such purchase be conditional on the laying out of the remaining portion of the burial ground as a suitable place of public recreation; so that, in point of fact, the Motion of his hon. Friend, if accepted, would give the Railway Company all they argued for last week. Those who supported the Amendment were not so unreasonable as to say that the development of a great station like Euston Square should be checked, even if it involved the taking of part of an open space; but what they said was—"Do not take more than is necessary; spare the open spaces wherever they can be spared." It was the course pursued by the Trustees of the parish of St. James, who desired to make a gain out of this burial ground, that they objected to, more than that of the Railway Company. What the Trustees asked was, that they should be empowered to sell to the Railway Company a large portion of this open space, which, on the showing of the Railway Company themselves, was not required for the enlargement of their Station, but which, no doubt, they said they could find use for if they got it. No doubt they would house their omnibuses and stable their horses upon it; but they could house their omnibuses and stable their horses just as well somewhere else within 300 yards of the Station. He thought, therefore, that the adoption of the Amendment would be greatly for the advantage of the poor of the district, who needed some sort of recreation ground in the neighbourhood.


said, he was sorry to interpose between the House and a division; but it was really not the fault of the Railway Company that the matter was again brought forward, The hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Bryce), who had just sat down, would forgive him for saying that he had entirely mistaken the way in which the case came before the House. It was quite true that the form in which the Motion was originally put on the Paper by the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. J. Hollond) was such as the hon. Member (Mr. Bryce) had stated; but it was purposely altered before it was put from the Chair. Indeed, he (Mr. Plunket) was interrupted in his speech, because he was arguing it as if it were still in the form in which it had stood on the Paper.


said, he wished to explain that the statement of the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Plunket) was not quite accurate. The question placed before the House was simply the re-committal of the Bill, for the purpose of enabling him to move an Instruction such as had been described by the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Bryce). If that Instruction had been moved, which provided that no part of this open space should be encroached upon, it would then have been competent for any hon. Member to move an Amendment in the same sense as the Amendment of he hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. A. J. Balfour). The Instruction which he (Mr. Hollond) intended to have moved, if the re-committal had been carried, was that which had substantially been described by the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Bryce), and it differed altogether from that of the hon. Member for Hertford.


said, he could not say what the hon. Member (Mr. J. Hollond) might have moved under other circumstances; but the hon. Member distinctly declined to move the Amend- ment he had on the Paper. [Mr. SHAW LEFEVRE: No.] He said yes. He was speaking in that sense on the last occasion, when the same right hon. Gentleman who interrupted him now interrupted him then. On the last occasion he had misunderstood what the Motion before the House was; and the right hon. Gentleman interrupted him, very properly, in order to explain what it was that the House was going to vote upon. There was a distinct Instruction to the Committee, on re-consideration, not to give any land to the Railway Company; and the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman the first Commissioner of Works was that the Committee might consider what amount of the land was necessary for the enlargement of the Station. He should like to call the attention of the House to the statement which had been made by the hon. Baronet the Member for Walsall (Sir Charles Forster), when the third reading of the Bill was moved, because many hon. Members had entered the House since the hon. Gentleman spoke. The hon. Gentleman had appealed to the House not to depart from its ordinary practice, on the ground that the adoption of such a course would make the conduct of Private Business impossible. He (Mr. Plunket) wished the House to reflect that they had been appealed to, not only by the hon. Baronet the Member for Walsall, who moved the third reading of the Bill in his official capacity, but also by the hon. Baronet the Chairman of Ways and Means (Sir Arthur Otway), who supported the appeal on similar grounds. The Chairman of Ways and Means asked the House not to interfere with its ordinary practice in this case, he (Mr. Plunket) did not deny, if there really was a special case of some overpowering public importance, that the House might then override the decision of its Committee; but he entirely denied that such a case had been made out in the present instance. On what grounds were they asked to review the finding of the Committee which sat on the Bill? There were two grounds—first, to avoid the desecration of the be dies interred in this disused graveyard; and, secondly, to preserve the open spaces of the Metropolis. No better motive could be put forward, and there were certainly none which would be more sure to get up an agitation. As to the desecration of the dead be dies interred in the graveyard, he must say that the argument was inconsistent; because the proposal was, to a certain extent, that these dead be dies should be interfered with for the purpose of giving to the parish a recreation ground. As that proposal was acceded to be the by the promoters and the opponents of the Bill, there could be really no question in regard to the desecration of dead bodies. He found, however, that there was no desecration whatever. The application of disused graveyards for public purposes was a perfectly understood matter; and rules were framed, under the authority of the Home Office, to enable any proposed removals to be properly carried out. In the present case, every one of the rules and requirements of the Home Office had been fully complied with, so as to secure, in the event of the removal of any dead be dies being necessary, that it should be decently carried out. He did not suppose there would have been any objection of the kind if it had been proposed to hand over the graveyard for the purpose of forming a pleasure ground; and it was only because the requirements of the Railway Company were concerned in the matter, that this course had been taken. The second objection was that the ground ought to be preserved as an open space in the interests of the public health. Now, he thought it was as clear as anything could possibly be that, if ever there was a case in which there was no want of open spaces, it was the case of the particular locality of which they were now talking. His hon. Friend the Member for Hertford (Mr. A. J. Balfour), who proposed the Amendment, in an eloquent and effective speech, had referred to a letter from some person living at St. George's in the East, describing how the children there had made their first acquaintance with fresh air and green trees and flowers in the open space provided by the turning of the churchyard there into a recreation ground. Nothing could be more touching, and if this ground were lying in St. George's in the East, or in some other overcrowded part of London, there would be great force in the argument; but, in point of fact, it happened to be in a district which was among the best provided with open spaces in the Metropolis, and the squares were exceptionally nume- rous. [Cries of "Oh!" and "No!"] Hon. Members said "Oh!" and "No!" but what was the fact? Within a very short distance, there were Mornington Crescent, Oakley Square, Torrington Square, Euston Square, and various other open spaces.


asked if the right hon. and learned Gentleman would allow him to inquire how many of these squares were open to the public?


said, he was unable to say; but he was dealing now with the question of open spaces, and he need scarcely point out that every one of these places were open spaces, and that they were open spaces of the best kind, carefully kept for the advantage and improvement of the Metropolis. Further than that, this burial ground was within half-a-mile of Regent's Park; and, therefore, the House ought not to be misled, because it was impossible to find a district in London that was better provided with open spaces. He would ask the House to consider what was the alternative. He held in his hand a Paper which had been circulated among hon. Members that morning, entitled "Reasons in support of the Motion of the hon. Member for Hertford." What was it they proposed to do? It was stated in that Paper that the object was to keep these places as open spaces; but the House could not have the smallest idea of what kind of an open space it was proposed to maintain, if it was to be kept up in its present condition. It was one of the most miserable, dingy, and gloomy instances of a disused graveyard which could be possibly conceived. The Railway Company proposed to take over a portion of the graveyard, and the Select Committee provided that they should pay for the whole of it, and that the portion not given to the Railway Company should be converted into an open space properly maintained for the enjoyment of the neighbourhood; and it was also provided that there should be free access to it in the future, which there never had been in the past. He had just one word more to say. The House was told that a great many things had changed since the last time the matter was before the House. They were told by an hon. Member that the people of the parish of St. James, Westminster, had been in a perfect state of fever about this business, that their indignation knew no bounds, and that a meeting had been held for the purpose of protesting against the conduct of the Trustees. Now, he had received information, upon the authority of a gentleman who was present at the meeting, and who was prepared, if necessary, to give evidence on oath, as to the facts, should the question be raised before a Committee of the other House. The meeting, which was advertised, was, in point of fact, a very small meeting. It was attended, to a great extent, by persons who were not parishioners; and when the motion was put in opposition to the scheme of the Railway Company, only 18 hands out of the whole number of persons present were held up in favour of the motion. His right hon. Friend the Postmaster General (Mr. Fawcett), who always spoke with such authority in that House, said that it was impossible for persons interested in the matter to be fully heard before the Committee. [Mr. FAWCETT dissented.] Well, perhaps it was not his right hon. Friend who said it; but it certainly had been said in the course of the debate. It was, however, an entire misrepresentation. The fact was that the Vestry of St. Pancras was heard by counsel before the Committee. The Metropolitan board of Works were certainly heard by counsel; and the Committee had before them the hon. and learned Member for Gateshead (Mr. W. H. James), who took so great an interest in the matter. Everything the House had heard advanced that day would, no doubt, be found in the Report of the proceedings of the Committee, having been fully discussed, examined, and cross-examined upon, and argued by counsel before the Committee. Nevertheless, the Committee decided unanimously in favour of the Bill which the House were now asked to read a third time; and he contended that they could not possibly have a stronger case, if they desired to raise an issue as to whether they were or were not prepared to sustain the decision of their Select Committees. One word more. This ground was really wanted for the purposes of the Railway Company, not only for the enlargement of their Euston Square Station, which the necessities of the traffic imperatively required, but in order to make provision for the Parcels Post and for other purposes, If this ground were given to the Railway Company, the House might rely upon it, with confidence, that it was absolutely required by the necessities of the Company.


said, he had no intention of taking part in the discussion that day, as he had already explained his views on a previous occasion; but, as some misapprehension had arisen as to what took place last week, he wished to say a word in the way of explanation. His hon. Friend the Member for Brighton (Mr. J. Holland), on the last occasion, moved that the Bill be recommitted, and he was prepared to follow on with a Motion which would have had the effect of preventing the Railway Company from taking any part of this land in question. In the course of the discussion which took place, he (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) ventured to suggest a compromise, whereupon the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Plunket) immediately got up and said the House had no right to make that compromise, as it was inconsistent with the Motion before the House. He (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) pointed out that the immediate Motion before the House was the re-committal of the Bill, and that it was quite inconsistent with that proposal to amend the Instruction. Now, he believed that a large majority of those who heard the discussion were in favour of a compromise; and if the vote of the House had been determined by those who had listened to the debate, he had no doubt the decision would have been in favour of the Amendment. But, unfortunately, a large number of hon. Members dropped into the House for the division who had not heard the discussion, but were merely summoned by the invitation of the Bail-way Company. Those hon. Members outvoted hon. Members who had been present during the discussion; and, consequently, there was a small majority in favour of the Bill of the London and North Western Railway Company. He did not complain of their action; they were quite within their right; but what he did say was that the matter was really determined by a majority of persons who were interested in the question. The only question now before the House was the Amendment of the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. A. J. Balfour), who proposed to give the Railway Company all that they really wanted and all that they asked for. Those who were in favour of the Amendment maintained two principles; one, that a disused burial ground of this kind should not be used for building purposes unless the interests of the public demanded it. He was quite ready to admit that the Railway Company had proved a case which showed the necessity of their making use of a small portion of the ground, and that it was demanded by them for the public convenience; but he did not think the public convenience required that any part of it should be laid out in stables. The second principle was that this disused burial ground ought not to be converted into building purposes, and that the dead be dies interred in it ought not to be disturbed without some strong public ground or reason being shown. His hon. Friend the Member for South Durham (Sir Joseph Pease) had referred to a similar case—namely, the conversion of the burial ground at Bunhill Fields connected with the Society of Friends. Now, he (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) had had something to do with that case. He had tried to prevent the ground from being interfered with; and he was sorry that he was unable to do so. He went down to the spot, and saw what took place, when large masses of bones were removed and carted away elsewhere. He should not soon forgot the scene he witnessed. It occasioned a considerable amount of scandal, and he very much regretted what took place. All he could say was, that the principle he contended for was that these things should not take place unless a very overwhelming case could be shown that it was for the public advantage. As, in this case, the Railway Company would get all they wanted, he thought the remainder ought to be devoted to the wants of the public.


said, he begged to differ altogether from the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down (Mr. Shaw Lefevre). This was not what the Railway Company had asked for. In the first instance, the Railway Company asked for more than the Committee thought fit to give them. The Committee, in the exercise of their discretion, made a compromise, and gave the Railway Company what they thought they were entitled to. He wished, therefore, to state to the House that this was not all the Railway Company asked for; and if the Company did not get the land the Committee decided to give them, they would, undoubtedly, be put to very serious inconvenience. It must be remembered that London was increasing every year; and so much excitement was now being got up in favour of the retention of open spaces, that there was a possibility of the Railway Company finding themselves hemmed in on all sides, with, very few places indeed to which they could obtain access. He hoped, therefore, that the House would not refuse the Railway Company now that which they might have very hard work to obtain hereafter, and which they would undoubtedly require. So far as the question of open spaces was concerned, within a radius of half a-mile from this burial ground there were 34 acres of open spaces. He had a list of 18 open spaces within half a-mile of the centre of this ground, and they amounted altogether to an area of 34 acres, exclusive of the wide streets and roads which existed in the neighbourhood, and which might be counted as open spaces. Leaving out the question of the removal of the dead be dies interred in this ground, lie hoped the House would see that it was desirable to support the decision of the Committee, and to ratify the decision arrived at last week.


said, he hoped the House would not allow itself to be influenced by the interested views of hon. Gentlemen who supported the Bill, and who told them how many open spaces there wore in this district. Everyone knew that these so-called open spaces were not open to the public, and that, especially, they were not open to the poor. There was not within half-a-mile of this place any open space that was open to the poor. But within half-a-mile of the point which the Railway Company sought to take possession of, there was a large mass of population living in most crowded dwellings. The people in the district certainly required all the air and all the open spaces they could get. He thought it almost indecent that Railway Directors should come down to that House, in order to support a Railway Company in taking possession of every plot of land that belonged to the people.


said, he wished to point out that the land did not belong to the people, but to the Trustees of St. James's, Westminster. He had not the honour of being a shareholder of the London and North-Western Railway Company; and, therefore, in anything he said, he was altogether independent of the Company. All he desired, however, was to caution the House against upsetting the decision of the Committee upon the Amendment which was brought forward, after the question had been virtually decided a week ago.


said, the House had been recommended by several hon. Members not to disturb the decision of the Select Committee, and not to attempt to do anything to alter it, because it was a decision of a Committee of the House. Now, that was not an argument which for one moment would hold water. If the House were to be bound by the decisions of its Select Committees on Private Bills, the third reading of a Bill in that House would become a farce. Since this question was before the House last week, a circumstance had come to light which materially altered the state of the case; and that was, that the representation of the parish of St. James, not the churchwardens, but the popular representation of that parish—namely, the Vestry of the ratepayers—were opposed to this transaction. If, then, the ratepayers of the parish, who were most interested in getting the money, and the parish, which was interested in keeping the burial-ground as an open space, were opposed to the Bill, and if the Railway Company—who were the only persons really interested in the matter—were satisfied, the Amendment of the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. A. J. Balfour) really proposed to give the Railway Company that which was right and fair—namely, all the space they actually required. If they were not satisfied with that, he did not think any Member of the House—whether he were a Railway Director or a proprietor of railway shares—had aright to say that the House had come to an unjust decision in referring the Bill back to the Select Committee. He had been induced to be present at the discussion for the purpose of hearing anything that might be said in favour of the Company; but he was completely persuaded that their case would not hold water?


said, he wished to ask Mr. Speaker, on a point of Order, whether a Director or a shareholder of the London and North-Western Railway Company was to be considered as a person having a direct and pecuniary interest in the question at issue; and whether, in the event of any such person recording his vote in the Division, that vote should be disallowed in pursuance of Standing Order 196?


The Original Question is, "That the Bill be now read the third time."


again rising, said, he had addressed a question to Mr. Speaker, and he thought he was entitled to receive an answer to it. Perhaps he had better repeat the question. It was, whether a Director or shareholder of the London and North-Western Railway Company was to be considered as a person having a direct personal or pecuniary interest in the question at issue; and whether, in the event of such person recording his vote in the Division, that vote should be disallowed in pursuance of Standing Order 196?


The question raised by the hon. Member for Ennis (Mr. Kenny) is one for the determination of the House. If the House thinks proper, it may allow a Motion to be made to the effect mentioned by the hon. Gentleman.


After the Division?


Yes; after the Division.

Question put.

The House divided: — Ayes 173; Noes 157: Majority 16. — (Div. List, No. 85.)


I put to you, Sir, a few minutes ago, a point of Order, which you said it was for the House to decide. I find that in the Division which has just taken place, the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket) has recorded his vote in favour of the Bill. As he is a Director of the London and North-Western Railway Company, and as I interpret the Rule to mean that a Director of a Railway Company is a gentleman pecuniarily interested in the affairs of that Railway Company, I beg to move that the vote of the right hon. and learned Gentleman be expunged from the list.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Vote of Mr. Plunket be disallowed."—(Mr. Kenny.)


The hon. Member for Ennis (Mr. Kenny) has moved that the vote be disallowed. I have to inform the House that any hon. Member having a direct pecuniary interest in the Question before the House is not entitled to vote. But, according to the usual practice, I apprehend that the House will desire to hear the right lion, and learned Gentleman.


I rise, Sir, to answer the appeal you have made to me. I will only say that I am not acquainted with the precedents upon this question, if there be any; but my impression was that I was acting within my right in recording my vote. And I think I can reduce the opposition of the hon. Member for Ennis (Mr. Kenny) to an absurdity, by stating that, to my knowledge, a good many hon. Members who voted against the Bill on this occasion are shareholders in the Company.

[The right hon. and learned Gentleman then withdrew.]


I wish to say, in corroboration of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's statement, that I am a shareholder, and that I voted in opposition to the right hon. and learned Gentleman.


I also am a shareholder, and I did the same.


I should like to know whether or not shareholders are held to have a direct pecuniary interest in this question?


That is a matter for the determination of the House. The House will say whether the interest of any hon. Member is such that his vote should be disallowed.

Question put.

The House divided;—Ayes 36; Noes 254: Majority 218.—(Div. List, No. 86.)

Main Question put, and agreed to:— (Queen's Consent signified).

Bill read the third time, and passed.

Forward to