§ MR. RITCHIE (Tower Hamlets, St. George's)
asked the Chairman of the Metropolitan Board of Works, Whether the Special Report of the Select Committee of 1884 on the Metropolitan Board of Works (Thames Crossings) Bill, recommending the construction contemporaneously of a low-level bridge at the Tower by the Corporation of the City of London and a subway at Shadwell by the Metropolitan Board of Works, has been considered by the Metropolitan Board of Works; and, if so, what decision has been arrived at by that Board on the subject; and, whether, looking to the fact that the Corporation of the City of London have already entered into a contract for the commencement of the low-level bridge in June next, the Metropolitan Board of Works have any intention of taking immediate proceedings to carry out that part of the scheme which the Select Committee of 1884 recommended should be undertaken by them, and which the Committee stated in their Report was immediately required?
§ THE CHAIRMAN (Sir JAMES M'GAREL-HOGG) (Middlesex, Hornsey)
I should be glad, if it were possible for me within the limits of a reply to my hon. Friend's Question, to go into the history of the course taken by the Metropolitan Board with regard to Thames communications, and so to satisfy the House that the Board has not been unmindful of its responsibilities in the matter. My hon. Friend is aware that the Board have more than once promoted Bills for effecting communications; and I can assure him that the Report of the Committee of 1884 on the Metropolitan Board of Works (Thames Crossings) Bill has not failed to receive careful consideration from the Board. The Board have for a long time fully recognized the importance of providing further means of communication between the two sides of the river below London Bridge; and, having in previous years failed to obtain powers for a bridge or subway, made application to Parliament last year for power to establish free ferries at Woolwich and Greenwich. 1298 The powers for the Woolwich Ferry were obtained, and are now being exercised; but the ferry at Greenwich was abandoned, in consequence of certain onerous conditions which the Committee of the House of Lords sought to impose on the Board. No one knows better than my hon. Friend the great division of opinion which exists, not only as to the rival claims to consideration of bridge or subway, but also as to the precise points at which to establish them; and the Board have not yet decided that the position recommended by the Select Committee in 1884 is the best for a subway, or that a subway is preferable to a bridge. In fact, I may add that instructions have been given for the prosecution of inquiries to enable them to obtain information relative to an opening bridge between Old Gravel Lane and Union Road, Rotherhithe; and when these inquiries are completed the Board will have to consider the question of making the necessary application to Parliament.
§ MR. RITCHIE
Will my hon. and gallant Friend tell the House how many abortive attempts at inquiry on the same subject have already been made by the Metropolitan Board?