HC Deb 28 April 1887 vol 314 cc206-28

Order for Consideration, as amended, read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now considered."


I rise for the purpose of moving the Amendment which stands in my name on the Paper with regard to this Bill—namely— That with respect to all the Clauses relating to Coldham Common, Cambridge, the Bill he re-committed to the former Committee on the Bill. My reason for moving the Amendment is entirely connected with the clauses which relate to Coldham Common at Cambridge. The Great Eastern Railway Company propose to take the new part of their line through this Common, which is quite close to a very populous part of the borough of Cambridge—a Common much used for the purposes of recreation by the inhabitants, both poor and rich. At the present moment this Common is very largely used, but taking in view the increase of population and other circumstances, it is likely to be still more largely used than it is at present, and, therefore, it is desired that the clauses to which I object should be referred back to the Committee for further consideration. The Bill itself is an Omnibus Bill, and it is no part of my wish to destroy the useful parts of the measure which are unconnected with this Common. All I desire is to reserve to the inhabitants of the borough the right to enjoy this open space which is so near to them. The Common is also largely used by the Volunteers, who form one of the first and most efficient battalions of Volunteers in the Kingdom. The rifle butts are upon this Common, and I believe, from what I know of the locality, that if the existing butts are removed there will be no possibility of finding any other position which will be suitable. The line which the Great Eastern Railway Company propose to make goes straight through the middle of the range. An attempt has been made to come to an arrangement with the Railway Company; but that arrangement, I am sorry to say, has fallen through, and it now only rests with me, on the part of the poorer portion of the inhabitants of the borough of Cambridge, to move that the consideration of these clauses be referred back to the Committee. I am quite aware it will be said that the War Office do not see any reason to oppose this Bill. Now, at the commencement of this contention we received a letter from the War Office which induced us to believe that they intended to oppose the Bill; but it now appears that the War Office have made up their minds not to oppose the measure. I presume that since that time the War Office have seen good reason to change their minds. One of my reasons for objecting to the proposed removal of the butts is that in all probability we shall be unable to get the Government Inspector to pass the new range. There will, therefore, be no range at all, and if there is no range, this must lead to the disbandment of this regiment of Volunteers. I know it will be urged that the owners of the land behind these butts are identical with the owners of the land which it is proposed to substitute; but my answer to that contention is, that as we do not know where the proposed new butts would be placed it is impossible to say who the owners of the land behind them may be. There have been numerous Petitions presented against these clauses. The Mayor and Corporation of Cambridge do not believe that if the House refer the Bill back to the Committee, any material damage will be done to the Great Eastern Bill. The Railway Company have only to extend the proposed line to the right or the left of the present site, and by paying for the land they can obtain all the siding which they say are necessary for the purposes of the Bill. We object to their taking this Common, which is the property of the town of Cambridge, and which is held on trust by the Corporation. The evil of allowing Common rights to be interfered with by Railway Companies has been shown in many instances—such as Barnes, Tooting, and Wandsworth Commons. In those cases we can see for ourselves the effect of allowing a railway to pass through the middle of a recreation ground. Under these circumstances, I propose that the clause of the Bill, as regards Coldham Common, should be referred back to the former Committee on the Bill.

Amendment proposed, To leave out the words "now considered," in order to add the words "re-committed to the former Committee with respect to all the Clauses relating to Coldham Common, Cambridge."—(Mr. Penrose Fitzgerald.)

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

MR. HANBURY (Preston)

As I was the Chairman of the Committee who considered this Bill I desire at once to put before the House what were the views of the Committee in regard to this portion of the Great Eastern Railway Bill. In the first place, it was a thoroughly representative Committee, and the Members of it were the hon. Member for the Tewkesbury Division of Gloucestershire (Sir John Dorington), the hon. Member for the Forest of Dean (Mr. T. Blake), the hon. Member for North Sligo (Mr. P. M'Donald), and myself. Upon this question we were all unanimous, and I did expect that the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Pen-rose Fitzgerald) would have been able to bring before the House some better arguments than he has done to justify the throwing out of this portion of the Bill. It is not to be supposed that we passed these clauses giving power to the Railway Company to interfere with Coldham Common on light grounds. We went into the question thoroughly, and we were convinced of the absolute necessity of the Railway going over the Common, or of not making the proposed station at all. The Great Eastern Station at Cambridge, at the present moment, is one of the most inconvenient in the Kingdom. All the trains run in on one side, and as there is a considerable amount of traffic there is great danger in carrying on the ordinary work of the line. The Company are going to spend £100,000 on the improvement of the station, and that fact may be put in the scale as an advantage conferred on the population of Cambridge against the small disadvantage which they would suffer from the railway being allowed to go across the Common. Cambridge is a great place for changing trains, and there is a heavy traffic over no less than three different lines, and it is absolutely necessary if this traffic is to be carried on properly, that there should be a siding constructed about 1,200 yards in length. The Committee thought at first that that was a very unusual length; but we found on inquiry that there are already sidings 2,300, and even 2,700 yards long. As I have said, we went into the matter thoroughly. We tried to avoid the necessity of crossing this Common, but we found that if the people of Cambridge were to derive any advantage whatever from this station, it was absolutely essential that this portion of the Bill should be carried out. I quite agree with the hon. Gentleman, and especially with those hon. Gentlemen who belong to the Commons Preservation Society, that the Common land of this country ought to be protected in every possible way, more particularly when it is contiguous to our great towns where there is hardly sufficient breathing space already; but if there is one place in the world where the outcry for the preservation of Commons ceases to have any material or practical force, it is Cambridge, where the Corporation themselves possess no loss than 300 acres of common ground, and where there are already a considerable number of open spaces belonging to the Colleges and other Institutions. So far as open spaces are concerned, very little damage will be done by this Bill to the people of Cambridge. After all, what the Railway Company propose to do is simply to take away three acres from a Common of 100 acres in extent, and in place of those three acres the Committee have insisted upon the Railway Company providing another three acres immediately adjoining this Common. I am therefore of opinion that the rights of the public have been protected in every way. Ample provision has been made for preservation and footpaths, and for enabling the cattle to pass under the railway when the line is constructed. We are told that the construction of the line will interfere with the amusements of the people of Cambridge. Now, one of the Members of the Committee went over to Cambridge in order to obtain information for himself upon that point; and, on visiting the spot, instead of finding the Common full of people, there was hardly anybody there at all. This was only about a fortnight ago. I maintain that, in the first place, Cold-ham Common is not going to be diminished by a single inch. The people of Cambridge will have exactly the same amount of space provided for them which they now enjoy. I have shown that it is not a place which is used for the recreation of the townspeople. Will the fact that it is intersected by a railway interfere with the right of pasturage? In order to guard against any interference of that kind we have made provision by which there will be no difficulty whatever either for passengers or cattle to pass from one side of the line to the other. One part of the line will be upon the level, and the other part will be in a cutting; but ample provision is made both for the accommodation of passengers and cattle. Provision is also made for a cricket ground; but one of the Town Councillors of Cambridge told us that there is absolutely no cricket played there at all. So far as the recreation of the people is concerned, the only persons who are really interested in this Common, in connection with playing games upon it, are some 60 members of the University, who have the use of the Common from the Corporation for nothing, and play golf upon it. They are the only persons who can possibly suffer by the severance of the Common, and surely if they want a golf ground they are able to provide one at their own expense. In. the first place, the ground is very bad for the purpose, and the result is, as I have said, that there are only about 60 members of the University who belong to the Golf Club. I deny, however, that the interests of 60 members of the University of Cambridge should interfere with a great public improvement like this. We have been told by the hon. Member for Cambridge that the construction of this line will interfere with the rifle range. If that is so, how is it that the War Office, which at first opposed the Bill, now find that there is no necessity for opposing it? The fact is, that the rifle range can easily be removed to another place some 20 yards to the left. The Railway Company have proposed to remove the butts, and to incur every expense in acquiring new ones. There will be no difficulty in so doing, because the land is the property of the same owners whose land is now fired over. Further than that, I am told that the Volunteers have no right to shoot over those persons ground at all. Therefore, they cannot possibly be in any worse position, if they have to move their butts for some 20 yards to the left of the position which they now occupy, and no damage whatever can be done to the rifle corps by anything we have sanctioned with regard to this Common. I have shown that the Common will not be damaged to any extent whatever; and I trust that, on account of the accommodation to the town of Cambridge, the Bill will be passed. The people of Cambridge themselves do not oppose the Bill, and the only opponents, as a matter of fact, are the 60 members of the University, who now enjoy it as a golf ground. I trust that the House will not be led away by any false sentiment, but will support the unanimous decision of the Committee.

MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)

As chairman of the Commons Preservation Society, to which the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Hanbury) has alluded, I wish to say why I am prepared to support the Amendment which has been moved by the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Penrose Fitzgerald). Until a few years ago Parliament was very careless as to railways going through Commons, and several of the best Commons we had in the neighbourhood of the Metropolis—such as Wands-worth, Barnes, and Tooting—have been seriously injured by being intersected by railways in the manner now proposed. During the last 20 years the Society to which I belong have, by their action, been able to prevent any case of this kind from occurring within easy reach of London, or in any populous part of the country. Anyone going down to Barnes or Tooting Common will see for himself the effect of intersecting those Commons by railways. It is impossible to prevent the destruction both of the beauty and unity of a piece of common land if you allow a railway to intersect it on the level, as is seen in the cases I have mentioned. The hon. Member for Preston thinks that no damage will be done because the Railway Company propose to give up to the town another three acres of land, which is the amount of land actually proposed to be taken; but that is not the point. The evil is done by intersecting the Common and cutting it in half. I have not risen to oppose this Bill without having satisfied myself that a very serious injury is certain to be done in this case. I have been down to Coldham Common, and, having carefully inspected it, I came to the conclusion that a great public evil would result from the adoption of this proposal. Coldham Common is close to the town of Cambridge— indeed, it is within 100 yards. That part of the town is growing rapidly. Cambridge itself has a population of more than 35,000, and although there are other Commons, this is one which is much resorted to for purposes of recreation. I do not put the question on the ground of the rifle range; but I put it on the general ground of the evil of allowing the common to be destroyed by being intersected in this manner. I dare say that arguments will be brought forward on behalf of the Railway Company to show that the land is necessary for their proposed sidings. We always hear arguments of that kind in such cases; but I must confess that I never listen to them. I invariably refuse to listen to them, because I know that, as a rule, if a proposal of this sort is rejected by Parliament the Railway Company invariably find some other mode of carrying out their object. I should have opposed this Bill on the second reading if it had not been for the fact that it was an Omnibus Bill, and I thought it was scarcely fair to oppose the second reading on a ground of this kind, which applies only to a portion of it. The Bill has now been before a Select Committee, and I am sorry that the Committee should not have had more regard to the interests of the public. So far, however, as questions of this kind are concerned, I think they are better fought out in a full House than in a Committee. I feel confident that if the House adopt the Motion of the hon. Member for Cambridge, and send the Bill back to the Committee, the Railway Company will be able to obtain what they want in some other way, without inflicting serious injury upon the public. There are two ways of avoiding this Common— one is by making a divergence before the Common is reached, and the other by going beyond it. There is no necessity whatever for destroying this Common; and I will as the House to remember that an injury of this kind once inflicted can never be undone. It is upon this ground that I have opposed other oases; and I venture to hope that the House will adopt the same course in this instance, and will refer the Bill back to the Committee.

LORD CLAUD HAMILTON (Liverpool, West Derby)

As one of the Members in charge of the Bill, I should like to say one or two words in reply to what has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre). The right hon. Gentleman has not pointed out to the House the present condition of the station at Cambridge. It is on one side of a siding, extending over a quarter of a-mile, into which the trains of four separate Railway Companies, who have running powers, are taken. The Great Eastern Railway Company have long contemplated, in consequence of the danger to the passengers and the inconvenience to the travelling public generally, the necessity of remodelling the station. Hitherto, for financial and other reasons, they have been unable to do so; but now the financial position of the Company has greatly improved, and they believe that they are able to make these improvements on a proper and adequate scale. They have presented this Bill with that object. They instructed their engineer to prepare plans, and, in doing so, they requested him, if possible, to avoid passing over Coldham Common; but, after giving the matter every consideration, the engineer found that it was impossible to do this. It was necessary for the accommodation of the through traffic, as well as for the local wants of Cambridge, to take in this bit of Coldham Common to which reference has been made. The right hon. Gentleman says— "Why not stop short of Coldham Common?" The reason is that if the line were to turn off short of Coldham Common, it would pass on a level crossing through the proposed new goods siding of the Great Eastern Railway, and would, consequently, be attended with great danger, not only to the lives of the railway employées, but of the travelling public. I do not believe for a moment that the Board of Trade would ever sanction such a railway scheme. It would certainly be quite contrary to anything they have heretofore sanctioned. The Company believe that it is absolutely essential to go through Coldham Common in order to make the great improvements proposed at Cambridge Station. The right hon. Gentleman has drawn attention to the injury done to the Commons at Tooting, Wandsworth, and Barnes, by allowing them to be intersected by railways; but I would ask the right hon. Gentleman this question— how many people do you find upon Tooting, Wandsworth, and Barnes Commons when you go there? It is a place of resort for hundreds of human beings every hour of the day; but if you go to Coldham Common you will find nothing there but skylarks and a few head of cattle. Coldham Common is not used by the people of Cambridge for the purpose of recreation. There are other Commons in the neighbourhood of Cambridge closer to the town, and are much used; but Coldham Common, from its peculiar position, is not used for the purpose of recreation at all, and there are very few people to be found upon it for any purpose whatever. As a matter of fact, it is only used for the grazing of cattle and for playing the game of golf and for rifle practice, for which ample accommodation will be afforded under the proposed changes. The most important part of the matter, however, is the evidence which has been given before the Committee by the Engineer of the Railway Company, to the effect that it is quite impossible to make the proposed improvements in connection with Cam-bridge Station without taking these three acres of ground, in substitution for which the Company give three acres elsewhere. Under these circumstances, I trust the House will reject the Amendment.

THE POSTMASTER GENERAL (Mr. RAIKES) (Cambridge University)

It is not without reluctance that I rise to take part in this discussion, or to depart from the usual practice of refraining from entering into questions which have already been considered by a Select Committee upstairs. I listened with great interest and attention to the statement of the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Hanbury), who was Chairman of the Committee upon this Bill, which satisfied me that, at all events, the matter received very attentive consideration. I must also say that I do not go the whole length of my right hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) in his general opposition to all schemes for dealing with commons. I think that every one of these cases is worth being heard on its own merits, and that it is a mistaken policy to meet with unscrupulous opposition every scheme which may be submitted to Parliament for utilizing common land, whether for a railway, or any other purpose But this case, I am bound to say, is a very flagrant case on the part of a Railway Company to wrest a portion of a common from the public. There is a large and growing population in that part of the borough of Cambridge contiguous to the Common now proposed to be dealt with. We have been told by my hon. Friend the Member for Preston that there are other commons in Cambridge. That is quite true; but, has as been pointed out already in the course of this debate, such commons are not convenient for the poorer inhabitants for the purpose of pasturage, and as to there being other open land within the boundaries of the borough of Cambridge, it might just as well be said that it would be reasonable to run a railway through Hyde Park because there is an open space in Berkeley Square. This Common is one which the Mayor and Corporation of Cambridge, who represent a population of between 40,000 and 50,000, have expressed an earnest desire to retain in its present state. It has been pointed out that this Common, so far from being confined to skylarks and the grazing of cattle, at present is used as a rifle ground for the Volunteers; and it has further been pointed out that it is used by a golf club, consisting of members of the University. I have no wish to ask for the members of the University any other advantages or facilities for recreation than would be accorded to the general body of the public; but I do not see that because they happen to be members of the University that should be any reason why they should not be listened to. On the whole, I cannot help thinking that the Great Eastern Railway Company will be able to find some other way of approaching their railway station at Cambridge, and if this part of their scheme is rejected by the Committee, I have no doubt that their engineer will find some other way of improving the station without trespassing upon Coldham Common. I have no doubt that when the Company come back to Parliament in a future Session they will have found some method of getting over the difficulty. I speak with all due deference, because I certainly do not share the pronounced views of the Commons Preservation Society; but I never remember a stronger case than the present for resisting the attempt of a great Railway Company to deprive the public of an important part of one of their recreation grounds, which, at the present moment, is employed for valuable public purposes.

MR. T. BLAKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)

As a Member of the Select Committee to whom this Bill was referred, I can corroborate everything that has been said by the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Hanbury), who was Chairman of the Committee, in reference to this Common. I may say, for myself and the other Members of the Committee, that we endeavoured most strongly to ascertain whether the proposed alterations and improvements at Cambridge Station could be carried out without touching this Common. The evidence of the engineer was that he had tried in every possible way to avoid touching Coldham Common, but had found it utterly impossible to do so in view of the improvement of the station accommodation, and at present no train can come in from the Newmarket line without danger. At present an experienced official, distinguished by a badge worn on his arm, called a "pilot," has to be sent out to meet every train and to bring it into the station. The Great Eastern Company now propose to construct a double section, with docks for the various trains, and to lay down a number of other lines. The Board of Trade will not sanction trains running across these lines, and the only way to avoid danger to the traffic is to take this portion of Coldham Common. The station is now a quarter of a mile long, and any person coming in from Norwich is required to walk that distance; whereas, if the scheme now before the House is passed, the Company propose to run all trains properly into the station. On Tuesday week I went down to Cambridge specially to inspect this Common. It was a very fine day, and I went down to the Common, which is about a mile and a quarter from the central Post Office in the town. I found that the only persons on the common were two lads, whereas all the other commons and open spaces were, at the same time, being used by a considerable number of persons of all ages. I was told that the Common is chiefly used for grazing cattle, and that it is not unusual to find 200 or 300 head of cattle upon it. The Company propose, if they are permitted to make use of the Common, to give an equal number of acres close adjacent to the Common, and with reference to the rifle range, I cannot see that there would be any difficulty, or that the Volunteers would be in any degree injured, if it were slewed round as suggested, or otherwise altered, as the Bill proposes. The Bill in no way seriously interferes with the rifle range. In the interests of the public, generally, and of the inhabitants of the district in particular, the Committee came to the unanimous conclusion that it would be of great convenience to the town of Cambridge if these works were carried out, and that there would be very little injury to the Common, seeing the purposes for which it is used. I do not think it is necessary that I should go further into the reasons which induced the Committee to pass the Bill. Our inquiry extended over a period of three weeks, and we took more than 500 pages of evidence. We were most patient in hearing all the evidence that could be submitted to us; we heard counsel on both sides, and I am satisfied that we came to a right and proper conclusion.

MR. P. M'DONALD (Sligo, N.)

I feel it my duty to call the attention of the House to what the real facts of the case are in connection with this Bill. I had the honour to be one of the four Members to whom this Bill was referred; and, in the first place, I will express my full and entire concurrence in all that has been stated by my hon. Friend the Member for Preston (Mr. Hanbury), who was Chairman of the Committee. He has stated— and his statement has been confirmed by my hon. Friend who has just sat down, that we gave to this Bill the fullest consideration. We sat for three whole weeks, for five days in each week, considering all the bearings of the case. We took into our careful consideration every point relating to the Bill that was submitted to us either by the promoters or the opponents; and I am pleased to be able to inform the House that we were unanimous in the conclusion to which we arrived. The question that has been raised as regards Coldham Common is one that has not, I believe, been fairly put before the House. It is not a question of robbing the public, or depriving them of their right to an open space. If it were so, I should have been one of the last to support any scheme of the kind. On the contrary, I should have entered my strongest and most strenuous protest in opposition to it. But the matter was one of an entirely different kind, and related solely to the accommodation and convenience of the public. The present railway requirements at Cambridge are such that the existing station accommodation is altogether insufficient. I went fully into the consideration of the case. I had no interest in the Bill either one way or the other. Being an Irish Member, I was able to look upon the question from a purely conscientious or public point of view, and I am obliged to say that I entirely concurred with the conclusion at which the Chairman and other Members of the Committee arrived. The railway accommodation at Cambridge is totally inadequate to the requirements of that town. There is only one siding, and consequently it is not only exceedingly inconvenient, but very often dangerous, to the general public to carry on the traffic. It is most desirable that an extension of the station arrangements should be made. The engineer of the Great Eastern Company gave evidence to the effect that he had tried every possible means of finding a suitable extension, but was unable to find any without going through this Common. As regards the Common itself, I have already said that I should be opposed to any encroachment upon the rights of the people; but in this case there is no encroachment, inasmuch as there is an equivalent provided. An equal extent of land adjoining the Common is to be added to the Common in substitution for that which is taken away by the railway, consequently, there is no deprivation; and, under the circumstances, I do not consider that the public have any reason to complain. In my opinion, the opposition which has been raised to this part of the Bill is merely drawing a red herring across the track. To talk of the public interest involved in the preservation of the Common, as compared with the necessity for making adequate provision for the requirements of the travelling public, is absurd. I believe the only object with which such remarks have been made has been to put my hon. Friends who sit on these Benches in a position which may induce them to arrive at an erroneous conclusion. If there was any intention to deprive the public of their rights, I should be the first to object; but being thoroughly acquainted with the provisions of the Bill, I shall support it and vote against the Amendment.

MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)

I only rise for the purpose of saying one word on this subject as an eye witness. Two years ago this Common was threatened by another Railway Company, and being shortly afterwards in Cambridge, I visited and examined Coldham Common. I found that, so far from being a mile and a quarter from the town of Cambridge, it is within a few hundred yards of the houses and town. I have a map in my hand which shows how the town has extended towards the Common. This is one of the poorest and most growing parts of the town, and the the Common will soon be bordered by houses. Under these circumstances, I hope the House will consent to refer the Bill back to the Committee. Everyone who has taken part in discussions of this kind knows that whenever an engineer wants to obtain possession of a particular piece of ground, whether it is common land or otherwise, he always protests that there is no other way of carrying out the work; but when that ground is refused his ideas undergo a change, and he discovers some other expedient.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 101; Noes 237: Majority 136.—(Div. List, No. 97.)

Question proposed, "That the words 're-committed to the former Committee with respect to all the Clauses relating to Coldham Common' be there added."


I ask the permission of the House to be allowed to interpose only for a few moments. I think my intervention may have the effect of saving the time of the House. There are some Amendments on the Paper in the names of the hon. Member for South-East Essex (Major Rasch), the hon. Member for South-West Ham (Major Banes), and the hon. Member for North-West Ham (Mr. Forrest Fulton), in reference to the market rights proposed to be conferred by the Bill upon the Great Eastern Rail-way Company. I imagine that if the Motion now before the House is carried, those hon. Members will be unable to move their Amendments; and, therefore, what I propose to do is to ask the House to assent to an Amendment to the Motion, which, I think, will, in all probability, secure the object these hon. Gentlemen have in view. I do not agree with the Amendments the hon. Gentlemen have put down; but I do agree in the object which, as I take it, they desire to secure. This Bill confers upon the Railway Company certain market rights— the power of levying certain market rates and tolls in connection with the markets both at Stratford and Bishopsgate. I should be very sorry indeed if the House were to put any impediment in the way of conferring these powers on the Railway Company, or that anything should be done which would have the effect of closing the market at Stratford. It has been open now for some years, and it is greatly valued by the inhabitants of that district. When the question came before the House the other day in reference to the market rights and tolls, we discussed the propriety or otherwise of the market rights being in the hands of the public authority rather than in the hands of any private person. I stated then, what I state now, that while the market rights are held exclusively, they should be held, not by private persons, but by the public authority. As far as I understand the market rights proposed to be conferred by this Bill, they form part of the question which the House, a short time ago, referred to a Royal Commission. The Bill proposes to confer them upon the Railway Company, to the exclusion of the Corporation of West Ham, or of any other public body whatever, and in order to prevent any claim for vested rights from being set up hereafter in favour of the Company under the provisions of this Bill, I propose to ask the House to consent to a further reference to the Select Committee, so that they may be instructed to insert in the Bill provisions which will lay down distinctly that in the event of a market authority being set up, either in the one place or the other, and being desirous of purchasing either of these markets, the Railway Company shall have no power whatever to ask for compensation for the rights conferred by this Bill. What, therefore, I propose is to add to the Amendment which is now before the House these words— And in order to consider Clauses to provide that in the event of a public authority being appointed a market authority for the district in which the proposed markets are situated, and being empowered to acquire existing markets, no compensation for the market tolls, rates, and charges granted in this Bill shall be payable to the Railway Company. Amendment proposed to the said proposed Amendment— To add at the end thereof the words, "And in order to consider Clauses to provide that, in the event of a public authority being appointed the market authority for the district in which the proposed markets are situated, and being empowered to acquire existing markets, no compensation for the market tolls, rates, and charges granted under the Bill shall be payable to the Railway Company."—(Mr. Ritchie.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there added."

MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)

I do not wish to occupy the time of the House unduly in a matter of Private Business, and I am very much indebted to the Government for taking the action they have, which is certainly an affirmation, as I understand it, of the principle adopted by the House the other evening —if not in words, certainly in spirit. But there were one or two words which fell from the right hon. Gentleman which seem to me to go a little further than the Amendment he suggests. I maintain that market rights, if given to anybody at all, with power to make regulations and levy tolls, ought not to be given to a Railway Company who have a monopoly of the carriage to the place where the market is held. By giving them these powers, there is a possibility of making it an altogether exclusive market, and this difficulty is hardly met by the Amendment, which is very fair as far as it goes. The Amendment meets one phase of what the House has affirmed; but the doctrine was also affirmed by the general consent of the House that encouragement should be given to the sending of produce from any place to where the market is held. As I understand the Market Clauses of this Bill they will have an opposite effect. The interest of a Railway Company is to have as large a tonnage rate as possible for long distances, and not to develop the interest of the neighbourhood. It, therefore, requires some other words in the Amendment to provide for the development of that which, at the present moment, it is possible for the Railway Company to destroy. As a matter of fact, Railway Companies do destroy districts close at hand by charging through rates at a very low price. Perhaps the House will forgive me if I mention an instance of this to show how the interests of different constituencies may be affected. Some time ago I happened to be in Cornwall, and I was told that a Redruth gentleman, who had a great admiration for the hon. Member for the Camborne Division of Cornwall (Mr. Conybeare), desired to supply the constituents of that hon. Gentleman with a drinking mug ornamented with the likeness of the hon. Member. [A laugh.] If I am wrong, perhaps the hon. Member will correct me; but I think I am right in my facts. The gentleman I refer to had the likeness admirably executed in Staffordshire, but the work itself was done in Germany, because the Railway Companies brought the stuff—I am not speaking of the likeness — cheaper from Germany to Camborne at such a low rate that it was cheaper than it would have been if it had been brought from Staffordshire, and the consequence was that the people of Staffordshire were robbed of the employment they would otherwise have had but for the unfair handicapping of the Railway Companies. I would, therefore, ask the Government to affirm both of the principles which I understood the House to adopt. I desire to thank the Chairman of the Committee, who examined the clauses of the Bill, for the valuable overhauling which they gave to the charter rights as they stood. I only suggest that the Government should go further and prevent the Railway Companies from giving undue preference to produce brought from long distances, to the destruction of the trade in the neighbourhood in which the markets are situated.


Sir, I think I have some reason to complain of the action of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board. Without the slightest Notice to me, representing, as I do, a borough which is most interested in this matter, and without, as far as I know, the smallest intimation to my hon. Friend who represents the other Division of the borough of West Ham (Major Banes), in this House, at the eleventh hour, at a quarter past 6 this afternoon, the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board presents an entirely new matter to the consideration of the House, and protects himself by the observation that, forsooth, it was through indifference that we have not proceeded with the Motions which stand in our name on the Paper. If the right hon. Gentleman had applied his mind to the other Motions on the Paper, he would have seen that we have not proceeded with those Motions advisedly and properly, because it had been intimated to us through a high authority of this House that as this is an Omnibus Bill it was undesirable and even would be unfair to move that the Bill should be considered on this day six months. Therefore, in pursuance of that intimation, we placed further Notices on the Paper, confining our opposition exclusively to that part of the Bill to which alone we desire to offer opposition— namely, the Market Clauses. If the right hon. Gentleman will refer to the Notices of Motion, he will find a Notice set down as No. 5, in my name; but, of course, I could not bring it on until the Motion of the hon. Member for Cambridge had been disposed of. I desire to say that I have not the smallest hesitation as to the course I propose to take in regard to the Notice which stands in my name. I have not the smallest intention of withdrawing the Notice from the Paper. It seems to me that it involves a question of the greatest possible importance. If this House is going to pass the Bill, in the form in which it now stands, it will absolutely stultify the decision at which it arrived the other day on the Motion of the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh), when the Government consented to grant a Royal Commission for the purpose of inquiring into the whole question of market rights and tolls. By the Bill which is now under consideration, it is proposed to confer upon the Great Eastern Railway Company statutory market rights and tolls in the borough of West Ham, which, above all others, a Railway Company is least likely to carry out satisfactorily. I know that the House is naturally very reluctant to interfere with the proceedings of a Private Bill Committee who have thoroughly considered the matter; but when the Bill was before the Committee they were not aware that this House was going to consent to the appointment of a Royal Commission to inquire into the whole subject. I think, that, at any rate, we ought to have the opinion of the borough of West Ham, and I certainly have some knowledge of what that opinion is. The right hon. Gentleman says that the inhabitants of that borough are in favour of this market. Now, I do not believe for one moment that if these clauses are struck out, this market will cease to exist. It is a mere "bogey" on the part of the Great Eastern Railway Company. They have no intention of discontinuing this market. The only reason for inserting these provisions in the Bill is that the Company have been involved in litigation with an individual who claims to have certain market rights, and who threatens them with an action unless some sort of protection is given him. He further threatens to shut up this market, as he has already succeeded in shutting up Bishopsgate Market.


Order, order! I must remind the hon. and learned Gentleman that the whole subject-matter of this Bill is not before the House. The specific point is the question of the re-committal of the Bill in respect of certain proposed clauses, and if the Bill is re-committed, it will necessarily have to come down to the House again, and the hon. Member will then be in a position to move, when the Bill re-appears in the House, the Motion which is now standing in his name on the Paper.


Of course, if that is so, I do not desire to trouble the House any further. I am quite satisfied with the understanding that I shall have an opportunity of bringing this matter forward at a later stage.


As a Member of the Committee, I should be glad, and I think my Colleagues on that Committee will be glad, to accept the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board. We have already made provision in the Bill that no rights which are conferred upon the Company should prevent other markets from being made. The rights we have given to the Railway Company in connection with this market are totally different from those which have been given by the charter granted to Mr. Horner. We have conferred no rights of that kind whatever. As to the suggestion of my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh), I think there is something in what he says; but it is a matter which is also carefully guarded in the Bill. But then there arises a further point which is rather in favour of the people who live in contiguity to those markets— namely, that they should have facilities afforded to them against the introduction of produce from a distance. I do not quite agree with my hon. Friend, for this reason—one of the main points which induced us to give these powers to the Railway Company for establishing a market was the fact that London, at the present moment, is entirely dependent for its perishables upon a supply which is drawn from a very small area indeed; and, as the population increases, it is becoming more and more difficult to get an adequate supply from this small district, and, consequently, the prices go up. Mr. Clare Sewell Read, a gentleman whose name is well known in this House, gave evidence before us, and he represented that it was of the utmost importance that a supply should be obtained from longer distances. On the one hand, we have farmers at a distance, who are longing to bring up their produce to the Metropolis, but who find it necessary to wait until they can get proper market accommodation; and, on the other hand, we have the people of this part of London looking anxiously for an increased supply. We consider it desirable to bring the two into more immediate communication; and if there is any Railway Company which ought to be given this power, it is undoubtedly the Great Eastern Company, which draws its supplies from a purely agricultural district, which has its terminus in the midst of the poorest part of London, and which is in a position to supply them with everything they can require. Subject to these observations, I entirely support the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman.

MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)

I desire to say a word or two upon this question, because one of the markets it is proposed to establish is situated in the midst of the constituency I represent. I only desire to say that I am opposed as strongly to the establishment of the Bishopsgate Market as the hon. and learned Member for West Ham (Mr. Forrest Fulton) is to the establishment of the market at Stratford, and that, so far as the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board is concerned, it does not disarm the opposition which I intend to offer to the Bill.

MAJOR RASCH (Essex, S. E.)

With the greatest deference, I cannot agree to the proposition which has been submitted to the House by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board. I oppose these clauses in the interest of my constituents, the farmers and market gardeners of South-East Essex. If these provisions should pass, my belief is that the position of my constituents will be much worse than it is now.


The hon. and gallant Member will have an opportunity of renewing his opposition to the Bill, and of raising that question, when the Bill comes back from the Committee.

MAJOR BANES (West Ham, S.)

I wish to endorse what has been said by the hon. and learned Member for North West Ham (Mr. Forrest Fulton), that up to this moment we had no idea this proposition was about to be made by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board. I had hoped that an understanding would be come to; and, on behalf of the Corporation of West Ham, I may say that they have done all they possibly could to bring about an understanding with the Railway Company on the principle enunciated by the right hon. Gentleman, that Local Authorities are the proper persons to exercise these rights on behalf of the public; and, having reference to the fact that the House had sanctioned that principle by its decision on the Motion of the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) on Market Rights, I had hoped that some arrangement of this kind might have been come to without any necessity for troubling Parliament. On behalf of the Corporation of West Ham, I must say that we have great reason for opposing this market on many grounds. In justice to the Cor- poration, I can show that they are quite unanimous in the feeling they entertain that the grant of these market rights as they at present stand in the Bill will not only be detrimental to the producer, but to the general public, who are 1he consumers. May I ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether it is possible to move that an Instruction be given to the Committee to leave out these clauses altogether?


It would be incompetent for the hon. and gallant Member to do that now. The Instruction would require Notice.

MR. BURDETT-COUTTS (Westminster)

I wish, Sir, to ask for your instruction upon a similar point. We, who are opposing this Bill, oppose it because we believe that market rights should not be granted to a Railway Company, and we know that the granting of these rights to the Great Eastern Railway will destroy the other markets and give the Company a monopoly of market rights in the East End. I wish to ask you whether, by recommitting the Bill to the former Committee, with a reference to the clause which has been mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board, and without any reference to the clauses conferring market rights on the Great Eastern Railway Company, we are not in some sense confirming the judgment of this House in favour of those market rights? [Cries of "No!"]


It seems to me that there is some little uncertainty as to what has happened, and what is going to happen. The House has decided to re-commit the Bill in respect of particular clauses. The Bill must, therefore, come back again from the Committee, when the whole question of the Market Clauses can be considered by the House. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board proposes— In the event of a public authority being appointed a market authority for the district in which the proposed markets are situated, and being empowered to acquire existing markets, no compensation for the market tolls, rates, and charges granted in this Bill shall be repayable to the Railway Company. That is a matter to be considered by the Committee, and to be determined on its merits. When the Bill comes back the whole question of the Market Clauses can be brought under the consideration of the House.


I understand, Sir, from your ruling, that it is not competent to enter into the question of market rights generally?


I understand that the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman is, in substance, that if a public authority be appointed the authority in connection with these markets, such authority shall not be entitled to obtain compensation for the market tolls, rates, and charges granted in the Bill—that the acquirement of market property shall not give any kind of right to compensation in the event of such market tolls or rates being affected by subsequent legislation.


This is how I understand the case to stand, and it is the way in which we believe it to be provided for in the Bill. In order to make it more abundantly certain we have acquiesced in this reference to the Committee. I shall not, therefore, take up the time of the House in defending the action of the Company, by giving any details with regard to the market, seeing that the question will have to be gone into again. At the same time, I would ask the House not to allow judgment to go by default, because we are not able now to state our case in reply to the observations which have fallen from the hon. Members for West Ham (Mr. Forrest Fulton) and Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh). I shall be quite prepared, at the proper time, to justify the course which has been taken by the Railway Company.

Question put, and agreed to.

Main Question, as amended, put. Ordered, That the Bill be re-committed to the former Committee with respect to all the Clauses relating to Coldham Common, Cambridge, and in order to consider Clauses to provide that, in the event of a public authority being appointed the market authority for the districts in which the proposed markets are situated, and being empowered to acquire existing markets, no compensation for the market tolls, rates, and charges granted under the Bill shall be payable to the Railway Company.