HC Deb 17 April 1885 vol 297 cc5-15

Order for Second Reading read.

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


said, that in withdrawing his opposition to the Bill, he wished to explain his reason. The Bill was provided for the purpose of constructing a railway in the Eastern Counties, and it was originally proposed to take an acre and a-half of certain common land near Cambridge for the purposes of the railway. It had appeared to those who were interested in the maintenance of open spaces in the neighbourhood of populous towns, that such a proposal would have been most injurious; and, therefore, it had been determined to offer a strenuous opposition to the Bill. Representations had been made to the Railway Company of the state of the matter, and the desirability of reserving this plot as open land. It was only fair to say that the Railway Company had met the objections in a very proper spirit, and had expressed a desire to do all that they could to remedy the evil complained of. In consequence of the communications which had taken place, an arrangement had been made by which the Company undertook to introduce a clause into the Bill in Committee, binding themselves not to take more than an acre and a-half of land, and to purchase and add to the common the same quantity and the same value of other land adjacent, and also, in the interests of the inhabitants, to make proper communications between the parts of the common which were to be severed. In that way they had removed all the ground for objection; and, under the circumstances, and realizing the fact that the public would not suffer, but would get back as much land as the Railway Company took away from them, he did not propose to persevere with his opposition to the Bill.


said, he was very sorry that he felt himself called upon to move the rejection of the Bill, because he had hoped that the reasonable Amendment or Instruction which he had intended to move for the purpose of limiting the powers of the Company to the construction of a railway between Ipswich and Six Mile Bottom, would have been accepted by the promoters, and in that case he, for one, would not have offered any further opposition. At the same time, he was not prepared to admit that there was really any necessity for this railway. There were at present two lines of railway from Cambridge to Ipswich, one by way of Shelford, going away to the South, and the other by way of Newmarket and Bury to the North. The projected line proposed to take a middle course; but, as far as the locality was concerned, he could not see that there was any great necessity for an additional railway, or that it would be of very much value when constructed. There were no persons on the Cambridge portion of the line between the town of Cambridge and the borders of Suffolk who were more than four or four and a-half miles distant from a railway; and he did not think that in this country four or four and a-half miles was a very great distance for any person to be away from a railway station. If it were deemed necessary to have a railway station within a mile or a mile and a-half of every district, the whole country would be cut up into railways. He certainly' did not think that any extra accommodation in the shape of railway communication was at present required between Cambridge and Ipswich. He would not, however, raise that question now, but would prefer to wait until he heard what arguments the promoters brought forward in support of their case. There was, however, one thing touching this point to which he wished he draw the attention of the House, and it was this. From information he had received, it did not appear that Petitions or Memorials had been presented to the Great Eastern Railway Company, who were in possession of this district, asking them to afford this accommodation or anything approaching to it; and he thought it would only be right and fair, before allowing a new Company to enter into a district which had been well served for many years, at great loss by a particular Company, which Company had been striving during all those years to improve their service, which was now serving the district in a way that equalled the service of any of the great Companies, and yet was only paying a very small dividend, amounting to something like l½or 2 per cent on its capital—under such circumstances he thought it would be very unjust to allow a great Company like the Midland to come in and try to tap the traffic which naturally belonged to the Great Eastern Company. And the traffic, even when so tapped, would not be better accommodated in the district as far as London was concerned, but only in a Northern direction. All those who were acquainted with railway matters knew that a distance of five or six miles in the carriage of goods was not really of any serious importance. He had been sorry to trouble the House at this length in regard to the main line; but he would now leave that matter in order to come to the real point, so far as his opposition to the Bill was concerned. There was an Amendment standing in his name upon the Paper which, in the event of the Bill being read a second time, he proposed ultimately to move as an Instruction to the Committee. He had been in hopes that that Instruction would have been accepted by the promoters of the Bill. There was at the present moment a railway from Cambridge to Ipswich, by way of Newmarket and Bury. The distance on that line from Six Mile Bottom to Cambridge was, as nearly as possible, nine miles, or about one-fifth of the main line of the proposed railway, and it passed through a strictly agricultural population in a district which possessed a very small population, and which consequently had very little local traffic. This Company proposed to make the new railway alongside the existing railway for no less a distance than nine miles, only going through one parish or village which was not already served by the existing line, and a village containing only something like 300 inhabitants, which village was itself, at the present moment, within a mile and a-half or two miles of two other railways. Therefore, as far as these nine miles were concerned, there was really no necessity for the construction of the present line; but while there was no necessity for it, there was this very great objection—that it would interfere with the comfort of the inhabitants of the district. It would cut up the land into narrow slips; and, without affording the slightest benefit, it would do serious and permanent in- jury to those who lived in the district and occupied the line. His proposal was that an Instruction should be given to the Committee to strike out those nine miles of railway, and to confine the powers of the Company to the construction of a line between Ipswich and Six Mile Bottom. If that were done, it would have this effect. There had been a Petition presented to the House by Mr. Hall, a large landowner in the neighbourhood of Six Mile Bottom, complaining of the way in which his land would be cut up, and the comfort of his residence and of his family interfered with by the projected railway. It was proposed to carry the line close to Mr. Hall's premises, and the embankment which it was proposed to construct would be a very serious annoyance to him and to the residents of his house. If the proposal he ventured to make to the Committee were carried out, instead of running over the present line of the Newmarket and Bury line, the Company would require to form a junction with that line, and they would then be able to go further away from Mr. Hall's house, and with very little trouble to make a much better line through his property, instead of proceeding in a serpentine fashion and crossing his hedges backwards and forwards for a distance of three or three and a-half miles, and that, too, in a country which was not an enclosed country where there were fields of various shapes and of very small size, but in a district where the fields were of very large area. In addition, the fields would be, in the most part, cut at right angles. If his proposal were accepted, the Railway Company, perhaps by spending a little more money in filling up a hole here and a hole there over a distance of some three miles, would be able to proceed in a straight line much more easy for themselves than the meandering route they now proposed to take. That was the reason why he thought the Amendment might have been accepted by the Railway Company, and why they should allow his Instruction to be sent to the Committee. If that had been done, the Company, instead of crossing the existing line, would have formed a junction with it, and would have been able to alter their gradients in a satisfactory manner. He would now draw attention to some of the provisions of the Bill. In one in- stance, there was to be a level crossing, and there were various other crossings of the line with gradients as steep as 1 in 16, and in one instance as 1 in 10. He thought the House would agree with him that any gradient over a railway bridge ought not to be more than 1 in 20. He presumed that the object of this Bill was to benefit those who were engaged in agricultural pursuits; and if the agricultural interests were to be consulted, if the gradients over any part of a road were increased by the Railway Company to such an extent that the same horse-power which would take a load now along a road would hereafter have to be increased, it would really be a very serious injury to every occupier of land who would have to cart his produce over the line. He was told by a very good authority that a gradient of 1 in 20 was equal to about 1 cwt. on the horse's back over and above a ton when drawn in a cart, and if they increased the gradients from 1 in 20 to 1 in 10 the extra load upon the horse's back must be proportionately increased, and therefore its power of carrying a load up a hill would be very much diminished. He thought that was another reason why the House should not allow the measure to go forward in its present shape, but that there should be an Instruction to the Committee to provide that the inclinations of the roads should in no case be steeper than 1 in 20, and that no bridge carrying the railway over the road should be of a less span than 25 feet. On looking at the provisions of the Bill, he found that in three instances the gradients had been increased from 1 in 10, and in several others from 1 in 14, 1 in 15, and 1 in 16. There was also a further objection to the Bill—namely, that it increased the tolls upon artificial manures. That question had been brought before the House several times during the course of the last two or three years, and last year the House came to a compromise upon it, by which they allowed the Companies to charge l½d. per ton instead of 1d., which was the toll under which all the great railways of the country had been established. This Bill proposed, previously, to benefit the agriculturists in the district, and yet it would raise the tolls paid by the occupiers of land for the conveyance of artificial manures to a much higher rate than they had hitherto been in the habit of paying. Therefore, instead of being of benefit to the agricultural interest, it would be really injurious to that interest. He would not trouble the House further; but as the promoters had not thought proper to accept what he believed to be a very moderate proposal, which would have confined the line to the first 36 miles—from Six Mile Bottom to Bury—he would move that the Bill be road a second time on that day six months.


said, he rose to second the Motion of the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Hicks), and he did so for this reason—the proposal was simply to construct a line of an alternative character, 52 miles in length, which would cost over £1,000,000, and the prospect which the shareholders who invested their money in the undertaking had of realizing a dividend must be poor in the extreme. The Great Eastern Railway Company had experienced considerable difficulty in obtaining any dividend at all, and, at the present moment, the accommodation of the district, traversed by the proposed line, was amply met by the existing Railway Company. The through traffic between Cambridge and Ely and Ipswich was fully accommodated, and not only did this Company ask to supplement the existing accommodation, but they further sought to obtain running powers over the Great Eastern Railway. In the interests of the county of Norfolk, he strongly objected to such running powers being granted. The Great Eastern Railway Company had given an admirable train service to Norwich, and to all that district, by placing on their line as good express trains as were to be found upon any other line from London; and if these running powers were conferred upon this new Railway Company, the traffic would most certainly be interfered with, and the county of Norfolk, instead of being benefited by the line, would find its traffic seriously impeded. He trusted that the House would not allow the Bill to go upstairs to a Select Committee, but would refuse to read it a second time. He had no interest whatever, either as a shareholder or in any other way, in the Great Eastern Railway, and he simply opposed the projected line, because he was of opinion that it was not wanted, and that it would do a great injury to the Great Eastern Company. He had not heard a single person say a word in favour of the proposed railway, and, therefore, he begged to second the Amendment of the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire that the Bill be read a second time on that day six months.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—(Mr. Hicks.)

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


said, he only intended to make a few remarks in support of the Bill. He had a very different opinion of this line to that which was entertained by his hon. Friends. It was a line which was proposed to be constructed through a part of the county of Suffolk which he had the honour to represent. His hon. Friend the Member for North Norfolk (Mr. Birkbeck) said that that county had an admirable train service already for the whole of its traffic, and his hon. Friend seemed to infer that that was also the case in reference to Suffolk. He (Mr. Biddell) would call the attention of the House to the facts of the case in reference to the place in which he lived. The town of Laverham had a population of nearly 2,000, and within a radius of six and a-half miles there was a population of 33,000. Ipswich was its natural port. It was only 18 miles distant; but by the Great Eastern Railway it was necessary to travel a distance of 42 miles in order to reach it in one way, and 36½ miles by another route. Under those circumstances, he did not think that the Great Eastern Railway provided proper accommodation for the district.


said, that he had said nothing whatever as to the merits of the line in regard to the county of Suffolk. He had merely confined his remarks to that part of the line which affected the district with which he was intimately connected.


said, the inhabitants of the locality had for years past asked the Great Eastern Company to give them facilities for getting to their natural port—namely, Ipswich; but the Company had not done so, and there was, therefore, no reason why they should now come forward and endeavour to prevent other people from doing that which they declined to do them- selves. The inhabitants had now induced another Company to undertake to make a line, and he could not see what ground the Great Eastern Company had for opposing the Bill, seeing that they had, in the first instance, refused to do the work themselves. When the dock accommodation was fully developed in the Eastern Counties, he thought there would be a large increase in the heavy traffic, and that in the end no loss would be sustained by anybody in consequence of the construction of this railway. The hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Hicks) said that for a considerable distance the proposed line would run parallel with the existing line. So it would, he believed, for about seven or eight miles, but not for so long a distance as nine miles.


said, the distance it would run parallel with the existing line was fully nine miles.


said, he believed that, if that was the case, any hon. Member who was acquainted with the town of Cambridge must know that there was an unusual pressure on the station there, and it would be of great advantage rather than otherwise to relieve the traffic at that station. He did not think there had ever been a line devised which had met with more approbation from the locality through which it passed than this line. Several meetings had been held where resolutions had been unanimously passed in support of the line, and he maintained that the hon. Members for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Hicks) and for North Norfolk (Mr. Birkbeck) had not raised a single point against the Bill which could not be dealt with in Committee. Surely, the proper place to fight the question of gradients, of which his hon. Friend (Mr. Hicks) spoke, was not on the floor of that House, but in a Committee upstairs? It was quite clear that the Company would not be able to make steeper gradients on the public roads than they were permitted to make by the General Acts of Parliament. And with regard to the increase of tolls, no increase could be maintained. If it were proposed to increase the tolls at present levied, he, as an agriculturist, would be one of the first to object. But even that was a case for the Committee, and he hoped the Committee would be allowed to decide these matters. The hon. Member for Cambridgeshire said that the line would cut up Mr. Hall's estate, and injure it. Was there an hon. Member in that House who over heard of a railway that did not cut up somebody's land? It was proposed, by the construction of this line, to effect a great public good, and if, in carrying out that public good, the property of any individual sustained injury, the Company would have to pay in the shape of compensation for the injury inflicted. He could not believe, for an instant, that the House would refuse to allow the Bill to go upstairs. As to level crossings, he was told by the solicitor of the Bill that there was not a single public level crossing upon it, and, therefore, in that respect it was a much better measure than those of many other Railway Companies. As an agriculturist, he asked the House to consider the matter seriously, and to bear in mind that, at the present moment, the agriculturists of the district to which he had referred had to pay rates for the conveyance of manures from Ipswich either for 36 or 42 miles, although they were only 18 miles away. He thought that fact alone afforded a clear case in substantiation of the want of railway communication. As he had already stated, the Great Eastern Railway Company had been asked, over and over again, to give facilities for the construction of a line to serve this district, and they had always refused to do so. Therefore, they could not come before the House with any grace whatever to oppose the present scheme. He submitted, with confidence, that the House would not allow themselves to be persuaded by the remarks of his hon. Friends the Member for Cambridgeshire and the Member for North Norfolk, but that they would allow the Bill to go before a Committee, where all the objections which might be urged against it might be fairly met. He sincerely trusted that the House would not make this Bill an exception to the general course pursued in the case of private Bills, but that they would allow all these matters to be inquired into and decided by a Select Committee, who would consider the whole of them fairly and impartially. He, therefore, left the matter, with confidence, to the House.


said, he had listened to the speeches of the hon. Members for Cambridgeshire Mr. Hicks) and North Norfolk (Mr. Birkbeck), expecting to hear some reason why the House was asked to depart from the ordinary course of sending a Bill of this kind to the Committee upstairs. The House generally required a very good reason before taking that course; but he (Mr. Dillwyn) confessed that in this case he failed to see the slightest ground for taking the Bill away from the jurisdiction of a Select Committee. He did not see how the House could be expected to come to any decision upon the merits of the Bill from the discussion they had just heard. He, therefore, hoped the House would take the ordinary course and send the Bill to a Committee upstairs. He had no personal interest whatever in the matter, except that he objected to see the public time wasted; and, in the interests of the public, he felt bound to suggest that no case had been made out for taking the Bill out of the ordinary category of Private Railway Bills."

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read a second time and committed.


said, he presumed that he would now be in Order in moving the Instruction to the Committee which had been placed upon the Paper. He would, however, ask whether, as a point of Order, the Instruction ought to be moved now or postponed until another day?


The hon. Member can move it now.


, in moving— That it he an Instruction to the Committee to limit the powers of the Company to the construction of a Railway between Ipswich and Six Mile Bottom, and provide that the inclinations of roads shall in no case he steeper than 1 in 20, and that no bridge carrying a Railway over a road shall be of a less span than twenty-five feet, said, he would not trouble the House with a word, in addition to what he had already said, in pointing out the absolute absurdity of making a railway for nine miles parallel with a railway already existing. There was not a single village or inhabitant proposed to be accommodated by the projected line who was not accommodated already.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That it be an Instruction to the Committee to limit the powers of the Company to the construction of a Railway between Ipswich and Six Mile Bottom, and provide that the inclinations of roads shall in no case be steeper than 1 in 20, and that no bridge carrying a Railway over a road shall be of a less span than twenty-five feet."—(Mr. Hicks.)


said, he certainly thought the question of gradients was clearly a matter for the Committee, and he did not think that the House ought to saddle them with such an Instruction as that proposed by his hon. Friend (Mr. Hicks). The House had already heard arguments on both sides in regard to the other part of the Instruction, and if the the people of Six Mile Bottom had any locus standi before the Committee, and did not desire to have the Bill, they would have their objections heard. He did not think any case had been made out for giving any exceptional Instruction to the Committee.


thought it would be unwise, in the absence of any knowledge as to the merits of the case, for the House to pass this Instruction. The Committee would have the whole matter before them, and it would be unreasonable for the House to declare that, under no circumstances, should the Committee consent to a gradient over a road that was steeper than 1 in 20, and that no bridge should be less than a certain span. These were mere matters of detail. So far as he was concerned, he thought this was a most unusual Instruction to give to any Committee.


said, that after this expression of opinion by the House, he would not press the Amendment. He thought the object he had in view would be answered by the Committee having their attention drawn to the discussion which had taken place. He would, therefore, withdraw the Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

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