§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Dodds.)
§ SIR ARTHUR OTWAY
said, he did not rise for the purpose of offering any observations of length, nor was it necessary he should trouble the House with any expression of opinion as to the merits of the Bill. The Bill, however, contained clauses which came in conflict 1244 with one of the Standing Orders of the House; therefore it was incumbent upon him to offer some explanation with regard to that clause, and to the action he had taken. The 33rd Standing Order was as follows:—The Chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means shall he at liberty, at any period after any Private Bill shall have been referred to a Committee, to report to the House any special circumstances relative thereto which, may appear to him to require it, or to inform the House when, in his opinion, any opposed Private Bill should be treated as an unopposed Private Bill.Now, the 58th clause of the Bill empowered the Department of Public Works to make an expenditure of funds in furtherance of the Bill. Under the circumstances, he thought it his duty to put himself in communication with the promoters of the Bill; and he had received from the agents a letter in which they informed him that they were instructed to withdraw the 58th clause when the Bill went to the Committee. He was also further informed that there was no contract between any public Department and any of the parties promoting the Bill. Under these circumstances, he had not thought it necessary to make any Report to the House. He had, however, felt it his duty to explain, before the discussion proceeded, why he had not made a Report.
§ MR. R. H. PAGET
said, that, before this Bill was read a second time, he was entitled to some information, not only from the promoters of the Bill, but from the Department of Public Works. This was a measure to which the House ought to give its serious attention. Under Clause 11 power was given to the First Commissioner of Works to purchase land to the value of £250,000; but the land was not detailed; it was not specified how much land was to be taken. It was merely set forth, in a vague way, that as much land as the First Commissioner of Works could obtain for £250,000 he was to be entitled to purchase under this Act. Was there any agreement in writing as to how much land was to pass to the First Commissioner of Works under this scheme? In the case of an ordinary Railway Bill, or in the case of the formation of any public Society, it would be necessary that some agreement should be in view. If there was an agreement in this instance, it ought to be laid on the Table 1245 of the House, in order that hon. Members might know whether they were justified in assenting to the proposed large expenditure of public funds. The Bill contained many objectionable features. The Company were not required to complete their works for five years, so that for five years the work of construction might be going on, the Parks might be interfered with and their beauty destroyed, and the public convenience might be largely sacrificed. What was this Bill to do? Where were the great centres of population it had to connect? Anyone who looked at the plan would see that part of the line passed through Her Majesty's Parks, in which there was to be no station. The Board of Works, he understood, in giving its sanction to the construction of the line, stipulated that there should be no station in the Parks, and that there should be no ventilators or blow-holes. But what guarantee had the House of Commons, once the Bill was passed, that the travellers by the railway would not come down to the House, declare that they were being suffocated, and demand that ventilators should be opened? How many stations were there to be on the line? the stations were to be a mile distant from each other. How long after the line was made, if it was made at all, would they have a deputation coming down to the House asking that a station should be opened in the middle of Hyde Park? The Bill did not contain a clause providing for such a station; but there was no guarantee that in future there would not be an agitation got up in favour of the construction of stations, which would be fatal to the beauty of the Parks. There did not appear to him to be a sufficient amount of public good in the scheme to justify the House in assenting to it. There was another matter to which he would call attention. A plan of the scheme had been circulated, from which it would be seen that the scheme sanctioned by the First Commissioner of Works, so far from effecting a Metropolitan improvement, left one of the worst and narrowest streets in the Metropolis in its present condition. Furthermore, the access to the end stations of the line would be extremely bad. It was said by the promoters of the Bill that they had informed the Board of Works that they would be willing to join the District Railway Company in 1246 constructing a subway from the proposed street to the District Station at Westminster Bridge; but a haphazard statement such as that ought not to be sufficient to cause hon. Members to support the Bill. The promoters of the line also said they would agree to a junction with the District Railway; but what was the use of saying they would agree to a junction when there was not a word about it in the Bill? If these statements were of any value, why did they not find a place in the Bill? He had no personal interest in the matter; but he took interest in the protection of the public Parks from injury. When they were dealing with Metropolitan improvements, they ought to do so handsomely, and not make the egregious blunder which this Bill proposed—namely, leaving a street unimproved, and putting a railway station in a most inconvenient spot. If, on public grounds, the line would prove to be desirable and useful, by all means let it be constructed. The public grounds upon which the line was recommended ought to be fully set forth by the official in charge of the measure; indeed, the House of Commons had a right to demand, more especially as it was suggested to expend a considerable amount of the public funds, that they should be told the reasons why the Board of Works had given their assent to a scheme which, as at present advised, he did not hesitate to say ought to be rejected.
§ SIR THOMAS CHAMBERS
moved that the Bill be read a second time that day six months. His constituents took a peculiar interest in the proposed railway, which they found open to many very serious objections. The Vestries of Marylebone and Paddington were especially concerned in this matter; and they had come to the conclusion that the line was very badly devised; that it would not form a connecting link between North and South London; that it was a great deal too far West; that it ran through districts in which there were few residents; that it ran very close, indeed, to the Metropolitan District Railway, which was only a little West of it; and that if a line connecting North and South London were to be made, it should start from a far more central point—from Euston Square, for instance, and go straight from North to South. The proposed line would ac- 1247 commodate no street in London, which might be accommodated by a line which really connected North and South. It was intended to run up Edgware Road—there were great objections to that—it then came out and crossed to go under Hyde Park; it did not accommodate Oxford Street, for it only touched an extreme end of that thoroughfare; it did not accommodate Regent Street, or Piccadilly; it did not accommodate Charing Cross; it did not accommodate any one of the great streets of London between the Northern Railway Termini and the Southern Termini. The Paddington and Marylebone Vestries contended that the railway would not accomplish any great good; that it would not accommodate the large mass of the London population, who at present were a long way from the Underground Railway. On that ground it was that they desired the Bill should not be read a second time. On the face of it, it was not a good line, because it did not do what a line connecting North and South ought to do; it did not accommodate Oxford Street, or Bond Street, or Regent Street, or Waterloo Place, or Charing Cross. These were streets and places which wanted railway accommodation; but the proposed line would leave them as much without railway accommodation as they were now, notwithstanding the expenditure of an enormous sum of public money. The next objection to the line was that running up the middle of Edgware Road, as it did, it would completely ruin the trade of the trades people in that thoroughfare; the construction of the line would interrupt the traffic for so long a period that scarcely any business would be done. He heard it stated it was intended to do what was now being done in Cannon Street. Of course, it was possible to make a temporary road; but everybody knew that such a road, especially if there was a very large traffic upon it, would not be likely to attract any customers to the houses in the road. No gentleman would drive in his carriage along such a road; so that the Vestries of Marylebone and Paddington were apprehensive that the greater part of the trade in the Edgware Road would be destroyed if the line were sanctioned. He knew that was not a valid argument if the railway would be a good railway, and if it would afford accommodation for that portion of the public which required 1248 accommodation. He had no hesitation in saying that when the line was constructed it would be found that a great mistake had been made, and that the line ought to have been made in another direction. Another objection to the Bill was that Hyde Park, the Green Park, and St. James's Park, in which they all took so much pride, were to be handed over to a Board of Railway Directors. Though he was aware the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) had satisfied himself that the precautions he intended to take would prevent any permanent injury being done to the Parks, he (Sir Thomas Chambers) considered the experiment was a very dangerous one. He maintained that if it could be shown, as he believed it could, that the line was ill laid out, that it ought not to run near the Parks, but in a totally different direction, that it ought to accommodate a very different class of people to that the proposed line would accommodate, the construction of the line ought not to be assented to by Parliament. It could not be gainsaid that the Parks must be injured if this scheme were permitted to be carried out. Some of the turf must be removed, and the turf laid down upon the completion of the line would never be of the same colour as the turf which had been undisturbed. In many respects this railway would not accomplish the object it was intended and designed to accomplish. The real truth was, the improvement of Parliament Street was at the bottom of this scheme. Much disappointment had been expressed with regard to the purchase of property there. A new War Office could not be erected there; therefore this scheme had been allowed to spring into existence. It was wrong to inflict upon Railway Companies the cost of making great public improvements; and for this reason, in conjunction with those he had enumerated, he should be glad if the House would refuse to send the Bill to a Select Committee.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—(Sir Thomas Chambers.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."1249
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
Sir, I think I need hardly assure the House that if I had the slightest idea that this scheme would effect any injury to the Parks, in the manner suggested by the hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir Thomas Chambers), I should never have given it the countenance of the Department over which I have the honour to preside. I feel very strongly the responsibility I have in regard to the Parks in London; but, independent of my official position, I should be the last person in this House to do anything to injure them. I can assure the House, therefore, it is only after most careful consideration, and after consultation with the permanent officials of the Parks, who are responsible for the beauty of the Parks, and who will feel the whole brunt of the popular feeling if in two or three years it should turn out that the Parks had been damaged, that I have come to the conclusion that there is no reason to be alarmed on this subject, and that this Bill may safely be allowed to pass. I may remind the House that the question of a railway tunnel under the Parks is not a new one. Two years ago I had to consider a proposal to construct a railway, partly under Regent's Park and partly under Victoria Park, Parks quite as important to the residents in the neighbourhoods as Hyde Park and St. James's Park to the people in the West End. I then came to the conclusion, after looking at the congested state of the districts affected by the Bill which was then introduced, looking to the communication which the Bill would afford between the different districts, and looking also to the great expense incurred by Railway Companies in tunnelling under the streets and in acquiring property, it was not wise for the Government to impose an absolute veto upon the construction of railways under the Parks; but that, on the contrary, it would be expedient to permit the construction of railways under the Parks if harm to the Parks could be prevented. I required that the Company who proposed to make the line under Regent's Park should make it wholly in tunnel; I also required that they should carry out a great public improvement affecting Regent's Park as a condition of giving them permission to make the railway. These conditions were approved by Committees of both Houses 1250 of Parliament, and I have never heard that the public took any exception to them. The Bill eventually passed into law, though, owing to many reasons, the line has not yet been constructed. In the same way, when this question now before the House came under my consideration, I came to the same conclusion with regard to it. I think no one can look at the map of London without seeing that further communication is necessary between North and South, and that it will not be long possible to resist a railway going under Hyde Park or the Green Park. I came to the conclusion that such a scheme might be assented to subject to the conditions which I have laid down, and which have been accepted by the Directors of the Company. These conditions are four. In the first place, the railway is to be made wholly in tunnel; secondly, the tunnel is to be of such a depth that at no point of the line shall there be any noise heard, or vibration felt, on the surface; thirdly, no ventilators or air-holes of any kind are to be made, either now or in the future; and, lastly, the construction of the work is to be effected in the winter months, and in such a manner as may be approved by the Department of the Board of Works. I am informed by Sir John Hawkshaw, the engineer of the line, that there will be no difficulty whatever in complying with these conditions. He asserts, in the most positive manner, that when this line is completed it will not be possible for anyone on the surface to say there is a railway underneath. [Lord GEORGE HAMILTON: Oh, oh!] The noble Lord must know that if the Committee to whom this Bill is referred are not satisfied on that point it will be quite competent for them to say the line must be made at a greater depth; indeed, I have reserved to myself power to insist upon a greater depth, if, on hearing the evidence given before the Committee, I consider it desirable. Sir John Hawkshaw further assures me there will be no difficulty in ventilating the tunnel without air-holes. ["Oh, oh!"] He states it would be easy to do so if the line is made on that understanding. Of course, it will be said that the District Company have been obliged to come for power to make blow-holes; but Sir John Hawkshaw says there is all the difference in the world between making a line with a certain ventilating system and applying 1251 that system to a line already made. At any rate, Sir John Hawkshaw undertakes to say there will be no difficulty in ventilating the line without air openings. He says ventilation may be effected in one or two ways—either two separate tunnels, running side by side, may be made, or else the foul air may be pumped out by stationary engines. Whichever plan is adopted, Sir John Hawkshaw says there is not the least doubt of proper ventilation being secured. All these are matters, however, upon which the Select Committee will have to be satisfied. There remains the question of the construction of the works. I am assured they can be effected in the winter months. It is perfectly true that portions of the line will be constructed by open cuttings; but these will be covered up temporarily with timber, sods being placed over, so that during the construction the surface of the Parks will be little interfered with. This, also, is a matter for the Committee to procure evidence upon and to decide. If they do not feel satisfied with the arrangements proposed, they will take what course they think best. On these conditions, I have felt it to be my duty to give the assent and the weight of the Government to this Bill; but, further, I have made it a condition of the assent of the Government that the Company should carry out a very important improvement in Parliament Street. My hon. and learned Friend behind me (Sir Thomas Chambers) said it is unprecedented for an improvement of this kind to be made a condition of the construction of a line; but, as I have already pointed out, I made conditions of a similar kind in the case of the railway for which Parliamentary powers were obtained a year or two ago. [An hon. MEMBER: That line has not been made.] No; the line has not been made, but the principle laid down is the same. I think anyone who looks at the plan will see that a station cannot be placed in Parliament Street until the land there is laid out afresh; therefore, it did not appear to be unreasonable to make it a condition that the Company should make this improvement. The improvement suggested by the Government to the Metropolitan Board of Works last year has been estimated to cost £200,000; but when the Government refused to continue the coal dues for the purpose of defraying the expenses, that project was abandoned by the Board. It is 1252 evident that the improvement is not one that the Government can effect out of the Imperial Funds. I do not, therefore, think there is much chance of its being carried out, unless it is by some scheme like this before the House. The improvement will be a most important one. It involves the widening of Parliament Street, from the New Public Offices to the open space in front of the Houses of Parliament; and when that is done Parliament Street will be one of the finest and most important streets in Europe, affording a magnificent approach to the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. The Government have property behind the existing Parliament Street of the value of £270,000. A large portion of that is lying idle, and the remainder is let at very inadequate rents. The value of this land cannot be realized until an improvement, such as that contemplated, is effected; consequently, the effect of the construction of this railway will be that the Government will be enabled to realize the value of the property. I have reserved the right, on the part of the Government, of taking the value of this land in new frontages in the new street. It seemed to me that it was a wise thing to make this claim, for the reason that the Government may want land for Public Offices, and this will give them very fine frontages for the purpose. For my own part, I do not believe that this will be a very onerous obligation to the Company, because it is obvious that they will require a considerable portion of the land at the back of Parliament Street for their new railway station; and, moreover, the bringing of the railway to that point will add to the value of the land, and make it more easily saleable. I think the House will be of opinion, on the whole, that I have not made a bad bargain. In the first place, a great and important improvement will be effected without cost to the ratepayers of the Metropolis; and, in the second place, the Government will be able to realize £270,000, the value of the property which is now lying idle, or for which inadequate rents are being paid. I do not propose to deal at length with the question raised by my hon. and learned Friend (Sir Thomas Chambers), as I conceive it be a matter for the Committee—I mean as to whether it would not have been better to have 1253 laid out the line differently—to have taken it further Eastward, to accommodate Oxford Street, Regent Street, Piccadilly, and Charing Cross. My hon. and learned Friend objected to the line being taken down the Edgware Road, on the ground that it would ruin the trades people there; and he suggested an alternative route. I do not think an acceptable alternative route could be suggested without going further Eastward; and the effect of going further Eastward would be to cause even a greater outcry than that raised against the Edgware Road route. I think the route selected is a very proper one; but, at any rate, these matters are questions for the Committee. I felt that this Bill involved a very important public question—a question much more important than the questions generally involved in Bills dealt with by Select Committees. I think, therefore, it is only reasonable that the scheme should be considered by a Committee, formed in a somewhat different manner to ordinary Committees—that is to say, by a Committee empowered to entertain all Petitions presented to them, and to enter into all questions which may be submitted by parties interested, without being limited to questions which are brought before them by counsel. If the House should read the Bill a second time, I should be quite prepared to assent to the proposal to refer the Bill to a Hybrid Committee, with power to hear all Petitions, either by parties themselves or by counsel.
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
said, he was sorry to have to detain the House on this question; but he would not do so for more than two or three minutes. He rose for the purpose of seconding the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Marylebone (Sir Thomas Chambers); and at the outset he wished to state that this was the first time he had ever taken part in a Motion for the rejection of a Private Bill. Well, the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works was a very efficient and capable public official; but it seemed as though on this occasion his zeal had outrun his discretion. The great majority of the public, as well as of the House, were under the impression that the railway was to be constructed wholly in tunnel; for when the hon. Member for 1254 Stoke (Mr. Broadhurst) went with a deputation to the First Commissioner of Works on the 5th of January, the right hon. Gentleman said that, in the first place, it appeared to him it should be an an absolute condition that any railway should be constructed through the Parks wholly in tunnel, and that the tunnel should be of such a depth below the surface of the Parks that there should be no noise or vibration which should inconvenience the public. He (Lord George Hamilton) had relied upon this solemn pledge, and had not been disposed to take any part in the discussion of the Bill. A few days ago, however, a deputation had come to see him, and had declared that two-thirds of the line through the Parks would have to be constructed by open cuttings. He (Lord George Hamilton) could hardly believe the statement, and had answered that there must be some mistake in the matter. He refused to believe the representation that was made to him; but the deputation, to whom he had referred, brought him the plans. He had examined them, and, distrusting his own judgment, had submitted them to one of the most competent railway engineers in London, and that gentleman had assured him that, looking at the deposited plans, which presumably had received the sanction of the Board of Works, two-thirds of the railway would have to be made by what was known as open cuttings through the Parks. Now, what did that mean? Personally, he did not see much objection to the construction of the line, if it could be made in a tunnel all through the Parks; but that could not be done unless there was a certain headway above the top of the tunnel. The fact of its being impossible, therefore, to construct the line through the Parks by tunnelling meant that there was a very small amount of soil between the top of the tunnel and the surface of the Parks. On one point he challenged contradiction—namely, that there was only something like six feet of soil between the top of the covered way and the surface of the Park in one portion of the line; and it was, therefore, certain, if the Bill were allowed to pass, that it would be necessary to construct the line by open cutting, altering the appearance of the Parks very much indeed for the worse; in fact, almost destroying that portion through which 1255 the railroad ran. The carrying out of the present plan would necessitate the removal of the Ornamental Water in St. James's Park, in order that an open cutting might be made through its site, to enable the construction of the line to be proceeded with. It certainly seemed to him that this was a very serious risk to run. To his mind, this was not a bonâ fide Railway Bill; his great objection to it being that it put the First Commissioner of Works and the hon. Member for Hythe (Sir Edward Watkin), whom they all knew to be a great railway promoter, in a false position towards each other. The hon. Member for Hythe would, for his Company, have to purchase land for the building of houses; and the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works would have to superintend the construction of the railway through Hyde Park. But that was not all. It was true that the Government were to get £270,000 worth of land in a new street. To his mind, they would acquire this at a cost far too heavy to the public; because, although in the Bill the Government were to receive this amount of value from the hon. Baronet and his Company, it would not be so many superficial feet, but so much worth; and the result would he that the First Commissioner of Works and the hon. Baronet would have to bargain with each other as to how much the Government should get. That, he maintained, would still further put the First Commissioner of Works and the Department he represented in a false position. The hon. Baronet might argue with the right hon. Gentleman as to how much land the Company should give the Government, and might find it to his interest to say—"We want a good return for our money. We would let you have a little more land in Parliament Street, if you will allow us to open a few more blowholes in the Parks." The necessity for bargaining of that kind would be very unfortunate; and there could be no doubt that if the improvement in Parliament Street was altogether disassociated with the Government that they would not be ready to give this measure their support. There was another point to which he wished to draw attention, and that was that the sum the Company were to pay the Government—namely, £25,000—was inadequate for the privi- 1256 lege they were to obtain of tunnelling through the Parks, when they considered that the District Railway had paid something like 10 times that amount for the privilege of running a less distance under the Embankment. But there was even something more than this behind. The Board of Trade had pointed out that the railway was not in accordance with the recommendations of the Select Committee of the House of Lords, who had stated that in all cases where an underground railway was made it should be a condition of its construction that it should connect existing lines. The proposed railway would not connect existing lines. Moreover, so far as he could ascertain, he did not believe there was any great demand for a, railway connecting Paddington and West-mister. A certain number of Members of Parliament, of whom he was one, might be benefited by the construction of this line; but he did not believe that it would carry a large number of general passengers. It seemed to him that he had given good reasons for the rejection of the Bill. Not to put too fine a point upon it, the scheme appeared to him to be a job. A Railway Company was to be employed to carry out objects with which it ought to have no connection. Four years ago the Metropolitan Railway Company got an extension of their Inner Circle, on condition that they carried out certain improvements. He did not know whether the Chairman of the Metropolitan Board of Works was present; but, if he were, he would be able to corroborate the statement that the Board of Works had been pressed either to alter or abrogate the condition originally laid down. From past experience, therefore, they ought to be careful before they accepted a Bill of this kind. The improvements suggested in Parliament Street, under any circumstances, would have to be carried out sooner or later; but, if the present scheme were adopted, it was very possible that they might permanently damage Hyde Park. It was certain that, in order to construct the railway, they would have to remove a largo number of trees, and damage the surface of the Parks. He thought, therefore, that it was by no means too strong a course to ask the House to reject the Bill on the second reading.
§ SIR EDWARD WATKIN
said, he was sorry the noble Lord had not given his facts with greater accuracy, for he regretted that he should have allowed Party politics to influence his judgment upon a matter which chiefly concerned the convenience of the public. The noble Lord had talked about "a job;" but he (Sir Edward Watkin) repudiated any such insinuation. The noble Lord should have known that the Metropolitan Railway Company had carried out their undertakings as to the construction of new streets, and everything else, to the letter; in fact, in one case they had effected a great improvement long before the time which had been specified in their Act for its completion. As a matter of fact, there was no obligation of any kind which had ever been placed on the Metropolitan Railway Company which had not been entirely and honourably carried out; and yet the noble Lord thought it consistent with propriety to accuse the Company of "a job." The noble Lord had accused them of not carrying out their engagements with the Metropolitan Board of Works; but his (Sir Edward Watkin's) reply to that was that it was not true. Who were these gentlemen connected with the Metropolitan Railway? They were 5,000 saving people, who held each, on an average, about £2,000 in Metropolitan Stock, and whose interest was something like £2 a-week. He himself knew proprietors in this railway, which was now such a popular institution, who went every day to and from their work on the line they themselves had helped to construct, and towards which their small capital was now contributed. What did they do last year? They carried 75,000,000 people, 20,000,000 of whom were carried for sums of 1d. If hon. Members would calculate that the value of the time of workmen was 6d. an hour, and would bear in mind the amount of time and strength saved by rapid transit of the kind afforded by this railway, they would see the enormous saving and the enormous benefit conferred on the workmen of London by the Metropolitan Railway. Hon. Members would find, if they went carefully enough into the calculation, that, practically, by taking the workmen to and from their work in this manner a present had been made to them equal to their ordinary house rent. He con- 1258 tended that these Metropolitan shareholders, with their £2 a-week of dividend, had conferred immense advantages on the working classes, and had done more to house them properly, and to minister to their convenience and comfort, than all the cheap philanthropists who were always shouting out about the necessities of the working classes, without doing anything for them, put together. As to the hobgoblins raised up by the noble Lord, they had no existence in fact whatever. The right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works had made careful inquiries, and was perfectly satisfied that everything connected with the undertaking would be secured in his own manner. He (Sir Edward Watkin) begged to inform the noble Lord that he had not suggested the undertaking. It had been suggested to him, and not by him; and the conditions upon which he had consented to have anything to do with it were these. But, first of all, he would inform the noble Lord that he had all his life advocated the giving of Parks and open spaces to the labouring populations of large towns, and that he had been able to effect a great deal in that direction in his own district in past times; and in connection with the railway for which powers were now sought his chief motive in taking up the matter had been to enable the working classes of the Metropolis to obtain better access to the Parks—to enable numbers, who perhaps never, under ordinary circumstances, would see the Parks, to avail themselves of their advantages, and to see the carriages and the people of the better class of life who frequented these places. One of the conditions he had alluded to was that it should receive the approval of Her Majesty's Government; and another was that it should not displease the highest authority in the Realm. It had been assented to in these quarters. It was a Bill to enable workpeople to visit the Parks with greater facility than they could do at present; and, more than that, as the line was to be completed in a dead time of the year, he contended that it was desirable that it should be constructed if only in view of the depressed state of the labour market, and the enormous amount of employment that it would give to the workpeople of the Metropolis.
§ MR. GREGORY
said, it was generally admitted that more direct railway communication between the North and South of London was desirable; and the question they had to deal with was, whether the particular line under consideration was the right one, or whether a more appropriate one could be found? Residing, as he did, in the centre of London, and being connected with an estate of considerable importance there, he happened to know the difficulties in the way of the construction of a work of this kind through a thickly-populated district. An attempt had been made to establish such a line some years ago; but it failed, in consequence of the fact of the enormous population it would have displaced, and the number of houses that would have had to have been taken at enormous cost. By the present line the only street that would be affected would be the Edgware Road—a broad and open street, but not a very long one. He could not help thinking that the Marylebone Vestry was rather desirous of saving the Edgware Road at the expense of their friends in neighbouring streets in the district, because they sought to drive the line more into the centre of London. The question raised by this Vestry was one, of course, for the Committee. If it could be shown that another line would be better and more feasible than the one proposed, by all means let that be adopted, and let this one be thrown out. The question seemed to him to be a fair one for evidence which a Committee should go into. Let the Committee decide whether this line was not the only one really practicable, having regard to the inconvenience that would be caused to certain shopkeepers and the general public in another place, and to the expense that would be incurred. Let them consider whether the cost of the construction of another line would not be so great as to be entirely prohibitive. Personally, he should be very sorry to be a cause of inconvenience to anybody; but he was afraid that it would be utterly impossible to construct a line from the North to the South through any district without causing inconvenience of some kind or other to some one; and the question to be considered should be how they could best minimize that inconvenience? It seemed to him that the line proposed was one which really 1260 caused a minimum of inconvenience; because he did not know any other that could be adopted which would cover less street space. It appeared to him that the proper means of dealing with the question would be by a Committee, who would bestow all the care and attention necessary upon the matter. He noticed that the measure imposed very stringent conditions on the Company in regard to the construction of the line. It made the Company subject to the instructions of the First Commissioner of Works, and it insisted upon the undertaking being carried out within a certain period. He thought the Committee should, if necessary, impose still further obligations upon the Company; and if he might venture to throw out a suggestion to the Committee, it would be that they should put something on the face of the Bill to make it, as it were, a matter of record that there was a bargain to the effect that the Company voluntarily consented to the arrangement that they should, in the future, have no ground whatever for a mitigation of the liabilities incurred by them. He would also say to the Committee that the scheme should be complete in itself once for all—namely, that it should be sufficient in extent and construction for the accomodation not only of the traffic contemplated in the present, but for the traffic which might reasonably be anticipated hereafter. With these observations, he had much pleasure in giving his support to the second reading of the Bill. At the proper time he would move the reference of the Bill to a Hybrid Committee.
§ MR. BROADHURST
said, he would not detain hon. Members for many minutes on this question; but, as the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord George Hamilton) had referred to the deputation that he (Mr. Broadhurst) had the honour of introducing to the First Commissioner of Works on this subject some time back, he begged to assure the noble Lord that his observations on that occasion were very brief indeed, and that what he stated was, in his opinion, the feelings of the working people with whom he ordinarily came in contact. His statement had been to the effect that if the railway could be made with a guarantee that no part of the Parks would be permanently injured, it could be made with great advan- 1261 tage to the working people of the Metropolis. He had no interest in the railway, and he was always denouncing and opposing some of the details of these lines. He opposed the ventilators in every possible way, and should do so again if he had an opportunity. He, however, would say this—that there had "been no greater advantage conferred on the working people of this country than that conferred by the development of the railway system. In regard to the line in question, it was said it would not largely benefit the working people on account of its route; but he would ask hon. Gentleman to remember that there was no part of a workman's walk to his business in the morning where he needed protection so much as whore he had to cross large open spaces. If the House would permit him, he would point out that many and many a score of times had he himself got thoroughly wet between 5 and 6 o'clock in the morning in nearly every one of the Parks involved in the Bill; and that in those wet clothes he had had to stand all day, until he reached home at 6 or 7 o'clock at night. Now, what he wished to ask was, could hon. Members conceive any advantage that would be greater to those whom they knew had to walk over the Parks to their work at at cost of almost an hour of time, than to give them the use of a railway which would take them from one end to the other of their journey in 10 minutes, under dry and comfortable conditions? Long ago, in the barbarous days—some 20 years back—he had had to climb the gates, seven feet high, when the Parks were shut; and other men had had to do the same to get home from their work. He had had to climb the gates in the midst of snow, and in the midst of rain; and he had no hesitation in declaring that they could confer no greater blessing on the working men and their families than the bestowal of railway facilities of this kind. They would save many weeks of sickness to the workmen, who now got wet in going to their work; and indirectly, therefore, not only the men themselves, but their families also, would be greatly benefited by the railway. Parliament should encourage railways of this kind in every possible way—they should encourage their construction in every direction, always insisting upon a guarantee against injury to public property, and that the Companies would 1262 run workmen's trains at a cheap rate and at reasonable times.
§ MR. CAUSTON
wished to say a word or two as to the building site at the corner of Parliament Street. The right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works had stated that, under this scheme, the Government would be able to realize the value of its land, and that they would have an opportunity of repurchasing frontages which would be acquired by the Railway Company. The right hon. Gentleman had stated, further, that the Parliament Street site might be wanted for public buildings. Now, he (Mr. Causton) considered that when this site was cleared it would be one of the finest sites in London, if not in Europe; and he thought the House ought to require a definite assurance from the right hon. Gentleman that, when cleared, it would be utilized for nothing else but public buildings. He might be told that at present no new public buildings were required—that was to say, when the building schemes in hand had been carried out. Well, to his mind, the Board of Trade Offices were a disgrace to the country, and they might very well be replaced by a new building on the site in question. The business of the Department of the Board of Trade was considerably increasing, and an enormous amount of additional labour had been thrown upon it by the operation of the Bankruptcy Act; and he threw it out as a suggestion that this was one of the Offices that was really required. Further than that, he wished to throw out the suggestion that they might very well erect a more suitable building for the accommodation of the Prime Minister of this country. [Mr. WARTON: No, no!] He was not speaking of the Prime Minister personally; but his opinion was that any Prime Minister of England ought to be better housed, from an official point of view, than he was at present. This was a favourable opportunity for taking the matter into consideration; he threw out the suggestion at a time when it was in the power of Her Majesty's Government to retain a site which, as he had already stated, was one of the finest in London for the purpose.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. CHILDERS)
I will not detain the House more than a moment or two; but I wish to say, in the first 1263 place, as to the suggestion last made, that it is a provision in the Bill that the Government shall, in the event of the measure passing, have a choice of the frontages from Great George Street along the widened Parliament Street to the present Government Offices. That is part of the bargain with the Company, and that will enable the Government to take frontages for the purpose to which my hon. Friend (Mr. Causton) has alluded. On another point, I wish to say that the smallest depth between the surface of the ground and the crown of the tunnel arch will be eight feet, so that there will be ample provision against noise and against interference with the grass in the Parks. If, however, the Committee, after taking evidence, should not be satisfied upon that point, other conditions can be insisted upon; but when we remember that the depth between the surface and the crown of the tunnel of the Metropolitan Railway is much less, I do not see that there is any need to be afraid, on the score of inconvenience or discomfort, in regard to the plan suggested for the construction of the proposed railway. No Bill was ever more carefully considered by myself and my Colleagues than this, when it was brought to our notice by the First Commissioner of Works. I considered it myself very anxiously from a financial point of view; and I can assure the House that, in this respect, I conceive it to be a very valuable scheme. I have no hesitation in saying that it would be a great misfortune if it were not allowed to go to a Select Committee, as it has been very carefully considered by us, who are responsible for the interests of the taxpayers and the public in general, and in our opinion it will be a decided national advantage.
§ MR. D. GRANT
said, his constituents would be very materially affected by the construction of this railway. The line would pass down the Edgware Road, and in its construction those who owned or occupied shops there would be seriously injured. The construction of the line would have the effect of destroying their business, and almost of ruining them. Indeed, they felt so strongly on the matter that they declared it to be a matter of life and death to them. The right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works had stated his willingness and his desire that every protection 1264 should be given to those interested in the matter; and what he now was anxious for was that the hon. Baronet the Member for Hythe (Sir Edward Watkin) should give some guarantee to those who were likely to be damaged from a business point of view by the making of the line that they would not be put to great expense in setting their views before the Select Committee. Let the hon. Member give them an assurance that the interests of the shopkeepers would not be jeopardized, and that they would have a full opportunity of bringing their complaints to a fair issue, particularly that this opportunity might be granted to such of them as might be unable to employ counsel to represent them. If the Bill was sent to a Select Committee, it should always be understood that none of those who would be affected by the scheme should be deprived of the opportunity of having their case fully considered.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
The object the hon. Member has in view will be effected by referring the Bill to a Hybrid Committee.
§ MR. CARBUTT
said, the only point he wished to refer to was as to the ventilation of the tunnel. He trusted that, whatever Committee the Bill was referred to, they would insist upon the railway being constructed with a double tunnel, so that each train, by pushing the air before it like the piston of a steam-engine, would ventilate the tunnel through which it passed.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 124; Noes 64: Majority 60.—(Div. List, No. 35.)
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ MR. GREGORY
said, he had a Motion on the Paper to the effect that the Bill, after having been read a second time, should beReferred to a Select Committee of Seven Members, Three to be nominated by the House, and Four by the Committee of Selection; the Committee to have power to receive all Petitions, and to examine witnesses as to the effect of the proposal on the Parks.He, however, was told that he should have, in place of this, to agree to a Motion accepted in regard to another Bill.
Bill read a second time, and committed to a Select Committee, Five to be nomi- 1265 nated by the House, and Four by the Committee of Selection.Ordered, That all Petitions against the Bill presented not later than three clear days before the sitting of the Committee be referred to the Committee, and that such of the Petitioners as pray to be heard by themselves, their Counsel, Agents, or Witnesses, be heard upon their Petitions, if they think fit, and Counsel heard in favour of the Bill against such Petitions.Ordered, That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers, and records; Five to be the quorum.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he begged to move the following Amendment at the end of the Orders in connection with this Bill:—That it be an Instruction to the Committee that the proposed line be connected with the Metropolitan and District Railway.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
Then, Sir. I now give Notice that I will move this Instruction to the Committee on Friday.