HC Deb 17 February 1887 vol 310 cc1728-48

Order for Second Reading read.

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

MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)

I have placed an Amendment on the Paper for the rejection of this Bill. I had expected that the hon. Member in charge of it would have offered some explanation of its necessity, but he has not thought fit to do so. Now, Sir, I ask the House to reject the Bill on two grounds—first, that it is not needed; and, secondly, that it will inflict an irreparable injury on the scenery of one of the most beautiful parts of England. I quite admit that considerations of the picturesque beauty of scenery must have their limits, and that there may be cases where it becomes necessary to sacrifice our love of scenery where substantial benefit is to be conferred upon the public, and that the public benefit must be secured even at the cost of injuring the natural beauties of the district. The St. Gothard Railway, for instance, has destroyed the charm of some of the most beautiful parts of the Valley of the Renn and of Val Levantina, but here the interests of Italy, Germany, and Switzerland were so great that the mischief had to be faced and endured. So the Highland Railway has ruined the pass of Killiecrankie; but a railway to the North of Scotland was needed, and possibly no other route could have been, found. But my contention is that in this case no such benefit would be bestowed as that which was conferred on the public by the making of the Highland Railway; but that, on the contrary, the construction of this railway will inflict irreparable injury upon the scenery of the beautiful region through which it is proposed to carry it, without any public advantage at all. I quite admit that considerations of scenery—or, if hon. Gentlemen choose to call it so, considerations of sentiment—must give way when a large and appreciable public benefit is to be conferred; but my case in regard to this Bill is that there is no substantial benefit whatever to be conferred by it; but, on the contrary, public annoyance and wanton encroachment. What are the benefits which are alleged by the promoters of the Bill? What good will be conferred upon the people of the district by the making of the line? The district is a tourist district, and in consequence there is no traffic during nine months of the year. The only traffic which could make a railway like this pay would be a tourist traffic during the three summer months. Therefore, there is no case for the Bill so far as the permanent interests of the inhabitants are concerned. The best proof of that is that the Kendal and Windermere Railway, which runs by means of a junction with the main line of the London and North-Western Railway Company at Oxenholme through Kendal to Windermere, has not been a successful line, although the population served by it is much larger than that which will be served by the proposed line, which is, in fact, a continuation of the Kendal and Windermere Railway. It is quite clear, therefore, that this line is one which is even less likely to pay a dividend. We are told that the railway will develop the industries of the district. That is an argument which this House would be disposed to pay some regard to, if it were to turn out that there was anything in it; but I shall, I think, be able to show the House that there is absolutely nothing at all in it. It is a district in which there is no important industry, and no hope of it; in fact, the district is purely pastoral and agricultural. The reasons circulated among Members by the promoters of the Bill for the making of the railway assert that there are manufactories at Troutbeck—for instance, a bobbin mill, gasworks at Ambleside, and also numerous surrounding populations to be served at Hawkshead, Elter Water, and elsewhere. I think this statement is some- what disingenuous on the part of the promoters of the Bill, because they have entirely ignored the fact that there is already a railroad in the district which supplies all that is wanted in that direction. Indeed, it is somewhat remarkable how many railways there are which give an entrance on every side of the Lake District to the region where the most beautiful scenery begins; and this, I think, is as it ought to be. Troutbeck is only two miles from the Windermere Station of the Kendal and Windermere Railway; and there can be no particular hardship in the Troutbeck bobbin mills having to send their goods to a railway two miles off. Elter Water is only five miles from a station which already exists at Coniston, and it is four miles from Ambleside; practically, therefore, the people of that neighbourhood have as good an access to railroad accommodation as they can obtain by going to Ambleside and Windermere. As regards Hawkshead, that town also is much nearer Coniston than Ambleside. It is only three miles from Coniston, five from Ambleside Station, and it is four miles from Windermere; so that, in point of fact, the people of Hawkshead have better railway accommodation than they would get if this railway were made to Ambleside from Windermere, so the Langdales are nearer to Coniston Station, than to Ambleside. These facts will, I think, entirely dispose, as hon. Members will see, of the allegations contained in the Paper which has been supplied to them as to the necessity of making the line for the development of the industries of the district. I have shown that in every case except in regard to Ambleside itself there is railway accommodation near, or nearer than the station at Ambleside would give. In point of fact, the only industry left that requires the making of this railroad is the gasworks at Ambleside, which wants to get its coals cheaper. We are also told that it would have the effect of enabling the publicans of Ambleside to pay less for the carriage of their beer. These, therefore, are the so-called industrial reasons for the making of this line. Although there is at present no railroad communication to Ambleside, there are plenty of other means of communication. [Mr. J. W. LOWTHER: No.] The railroad at present comes to the station at Windermere immediately [...] Windermere Lake; and from that station there is a service of coaches and omnibuses running to Ambleside. There is also a steamboat service on the Lake; and I believe the fare is only 9d. for the whole distance from Bowness to Ambleside. There is a constant and regular service in the summer months, although not so frequent or regular in the winter. Indeed, there are few places so well-off in regard to road and steamboat accommodation, and which less require railroad communication. As regards the Lake District generally, any hon. Member who looks at the map will find that there are a number of railways approaching it on every side. The London and North-Western Railway runs along the east side with numerous branches. The Furness Railway has various branches on the south side. The Whitehaven Railway serves the district in the west. These lines set people down on the edge of the Lake country, which I have stated is exactly what they ought to do; while the Penrith, Keswick, and Cockermouth Railway carries them through the middle, perhaps a more doubtful benefit. Of course, it is for the benefit both of the tourists and the locality that a railroad should be made up to the point where the scenery begins to be fine; but if it were carried further it would spoil the scenery itself. The best proof that the communications which now exist are ample, and that there is no great passenger traffic to be served, is to be found in the fact that the London and North-Western Railway Company are opposing the Bill. The London and North-Western Railway Company, as a Railway Company, would make a profit if there was any chance of a profit being realized, because it is that Company which would carry the additional passengers from Kendal to Windermere. Therefore, if this scheme were likely to be profitable, the London and North-Western Railway Company would assist it, instead of which the London and North-Western Railway Company are, as I understand, substantially hostile to the Bill. Petitions have been presented in favour of the Bill from Ambleside; but that is only a small town, containing about 2,000 inhabitants; and I am informed that a great many of the Petitions have been signed by boys and girls. [Mr. J. W. LOWTHER: NO.] Hon. Members well know how easy it is for active agents to pick up signatures to a Petition of this kind. In the most populous parts of the district—namely. Windermere and Bowness—the inhabitants are opposed to the Bill. The only other population is to be found at Hawkshead and Elter Water; but I have told the House that those places are already better served by the railway communication which already exists, viâ Coniston, than they would be by Ambleside. As a matter of fact, this is a line purely promoted by contractors. It is a contractor's and innkeeper's scheme, and it has no substantial support from the best part of the local population of the district. At a meeting which was held at Ambleside in support of the Bill only one local landowner could be induced to appear and speak in its favour, and the only other persons who appeared on the platform were Sir Charles Fox, the engineer, and Mr. Nelson, the solicitor. The House will naturally ask what particular harm this railway will do? I think it is enough to say that it will simply destroy the charms of the scenery of one of tie most beautiful parts of our country. The line will have to be made over a tract of undulating ground by means of cuttings and embankments, and it will pass across two beautiful valleys, which it will cross by means of viaducts and bridges. It will also destroy many of the public footpaths which now exist. [Mr. J. W. LOWTHER: No, no!] The hon. Gentleman need not say "No, no!" because what I am stating is the fact. It will interfere with public footpaths leading to the hills from the Lake, and will destroy the copses and woodlands. Persons who are now able to enjoy the scenery will be deprived of the ancient footpaths, by means of which they are enabled to climb the hills; and the Bill will work all this destruction to the beauty of the scenery in order that people may be carried to Ambleside for 6d. less, and a saving of half-an-hour of time. The railway will, moreover, carry them along a line from which it is impossible to see the loveliness of Winder-mere. The promoters say it will be possible to see Lake Windermere out of the railway carriage; but that is somewhat inconsistent with their other case, that it will be impossible to see the railway from Windermere. The fact is that the railway, though it will afford no continuous view of the landscape from its line, will be in view from the Lake at so many points and in so obtrusively disagreeable a way as to destroy the peculiar charms which the scenery now possesses. No doubt, I shall be told that this is all sentiment. I am quite prepared to be told that, and do not, in the least, regard what is meant to be a sneer. If a regard for the beauty of scenery be sentiment, then sentiment is a good thing. It is a good thing that people should value the beauties of their country. It is a good thing that they should be able to go somewhere to enjoy Nature, and enjoy it in peace and quiet. It is desirable that they should have a perfect and complete change from the surroundings in which they live during the rest of their lives. Is it contended that the untouched nature of the Lake country would be improved by the introduction of railway engines and steam, by the construction of brick viaducts, spoil heaps, and straight embankments? Is it desirable that for the sound of sheep-bells, murmuring brooks, and waterfalls, there should be substituted the shriek of the locomotive and the clatter of the train? There is already plenty of that in Lancashire, and when the people of Lancashire want to get rid of their own surroundings they go to the Lake Country for quiet and enjoyment. It would appear that the promoters of the Bill want to import the scenery of Bolton, Wigan, and Clapham Junction into the most delightful retreat in England. If this kind of legislation is to be carried out there will soon be no scrap of country left to show those who come after us what England was like 100 years ago. The fortune of the Lake Country is its beauty. It depends upon the charms of its scenery for its attraction, and its scenery has secured for its people exceptional prosperity. Those are certainly its worst friends who endeavour to destroy what has hitherto constituted its charm. It is a very small district, and its beauty is beauty in miniature. If you destroy that exquisite combination of beauties, delicate and singularly harmonized beauties, which Nature seems to have here laboured consciously to produce, blending into a perfect whole all the elements of form and colour which have power to touch the eye and awaken the imagination, you will destroy what never can be replaced, and the loss of which will be a loss to the whole life and mind of our people. I feel the less hesitation in urging this so-called sentimental views, because it is generally entertained by the masses of the people. I should like to add that since Notice of opposition was given to this Bill I have received abundant evidence of the existence of this feeling, not only from Lancashire and Yorkshire, but even from the manufacturing districts of Yorkshire, Northumberland, and Durham. The people in those localities feel the greatest interest in the preservation of this piece of scenery. They want to go to the Lake Country; but they do not want to be carried by a railway through the Lake country. Many hon. Members who have country houses have parks surrounding them. They are glad to have a railway made near to the gate of their park; but they have no desire that a railway should run through the park itself. Now, the people look upon the Lake District as their national park, and they desire to preserve it. They desire to reach it easily—as they can now do—but not to be hurried through it inside a railway carriage, still less to see it robbed of those very beauties which have drawn them to it. Even supposing that a majority of the residents were in favour of making this railway, I should maintain that the residents are not the only people in the Three Kingdoms who have to be considered. We might as well say that the only people to be considered in determining what is to be done with Hyde Park are the people who live in the Edgware Road and Park Lane. Hyde Park is an object of concern to the whole of the people of London, and the Lake District belongs to the whole of England, and especially to the North of England. It is the recreation ground of the people who go there to enjoy their holidays. Members of this House can afford to take a trip to Norway or Switzerland; but many millions of their countrymen who cannot afford to go to Norway and Switzerland desire to enjoy the one piece of scenery it is possible for them to get at; and you would be doing them the worst service you could do them if you endeavoured to destroy that scenery. Bring them there by all means; give them every facility to get there; but do not destroy the place they go to see. There are per- sons all over the English-speaking world who entertain great respect and affection for the Lake Country. It has been hallowed by the genius of some of our greatest poets; and when visitors come from the Colonies and America to see the Lake Country, they do honour there to the memory of Wordsworth and other illustrious men with whose names the Lake Country is associated, they desire to see the country such as it was in the days when the presence of those men made it famous. Are we to show ourselves less sensitive to the value of natural beauty than the people of California, who have set apart their Yosemite Valley to be kept sacred from the intrusion of railways? The people of New York have, at immense cost, removed all the obstacles which prevent a full view from being obtained of the Falls of Niagara. Are we to fall behind them by allowing works to be made which will destroy what Nature has bestowed? These are the reasons why I oppose this Bill on the second reading. It is, of course, as a general rule, a sound principle that a Private Bill should be sent to a Committee, and I should not ask the House to depart from that rule now without good reason. The reason why that principle should not be adopted in the present case, but the measure should be dealt with by the whole House, is this—that the people of England, and particularly the people of the manufacturing districts of Lancashire, who have sent up numerous Petitions against the Bill, would have no locus standi before a Private Bill Committee. They cannot be heard there; the arguments on which they rely would have no place there, and for this reason we are obliged to ask the House to reject the Bill on the second reading. A Private Bill Committee can only consider questions of finance and engineering matters, and would have no power to go into, nor, indeed, much capacity to consider and decide, the questions which I have respectfully endeavoured to put before the House as the grounds upon which the Bill ought to be rejected. A Committee of four Members is no fit tribunal to determine the issues which this Bill raises, nor could its determination of them command acceptance. It is a small railway, no doubt—only a railway of five miles—which is sought to be made; but the principle involved is a very large one, and the interests of the people involved are also large interests. It is on behalf of the people who desire to retain the full enjoyment of this piece of scenery that I ask the House to reject the Bill. I beg to move that the Bill be read a second time on this day six months.

MR. HOWORTH (Salford, S.)

I rise for the purpose of seconding the Amendment. It seems to me that when questions of this kind are submitted to the House, the interests of the people, which are so largely involved in them, should not be excluded from consideration; yet that would be the case if this Bill is read a second time, and referred to a Select Committee. I believe that those who represent important districts in the North of England have been strongly pressed to vote against this Bill. All the representations which have reached me from Lancashire, both from the town populations and from the inhabitants of the rural parts of Lancashire, are distinctly and decidedly against the Bill. The people who live in the crowded towns of Lancashire and Yorkshire, immediately around the Lake District, look upon that district as their great picnicking ground. The Lake is as well known to them as Pall Mall is to hon. Members here. It is because they know it so well, and because it is the only part of England where they can see Nature without such adornments as Rosherville, which appears to be so attractive to other minds, that they desire to preserve it intact. It may be said that the complaint we make is one of sentiment urged by æsthetic people; but what we maintain is that the House ought not only to regard the desires of a small population in the immediate neighbourhood of Windermere, but of the great masses of the people of this country who daily find the area in which Nature can be studied and enjoyed shrinking rapidly. When issues of this kind are raised it seems to me that a different principle from that which is generally employed in support of railway undertakings is evoked. People who are fortunate or unfortunate enough to have possessions which contain objects of interest to the great mass of their countrymen not only have proprietary rights, but are trustees for the people. They have no right to come to this House and ask this House to give them excep- tional advantages in the Bill, which has for its object an infringement of wider rights than proprietary rights—namely, the general right of the community to enjoy humanizing scenery. The Americans have recently enclosed a very large tract in one of their States. They have engaged to preserve the Yellowstone District absolutely intact from railways or the other vulgarities of modern life, and to preserve it as a great national park. Wherever a railway is intruded it undoubtedly brings in its wake a great amount of vulgarity; and it is the wish of those who oppose this Bill to preserve, as far as possible, the only area in England where Nature can be seen without modern vulgar embellishment. For these reasons I beg to second the Amendment which has been moved by the hon. Member opposite.

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. Bryce.)

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

MR. J. W. LOWTHER (Cumberland, Penrith)

As my name is on the back of the Bill, and as I have the honour to represent a constituency immediately contiguous to the district in which it is proposed this railway shall be made, I wish to state briefly why I think the House ought to allow the second reading of the Bill to pass. My complete answer to the hon. Member who moved the rejection of the Bill, when he asserted that there is no industry in the district, and that the vast majority of persons living in the district have no desire to see this railway made, is that yesterday I presented 8 or 10 Petitions from Ambleside itself, and from the neighbouring villages, in favour of the Bill. Those who briefed the hon. Gentleman, and who object to this Bill have not been able to secure, as far as I am aware, one single Petition against the Bill from the district. Now, I maintain that if the inhabitants of a district desire to have a railway in their midst it behoves those who are opposed to such a scheme to make out a very strong case indeed for opposing the line, and I say that the hon. Gentleman has completely failed to make out such a case. The hon. Gentleman talked of the railway destroying the scenery, and he referred to Clapham Junction, as if it were proposed to make a Clapham Junction at a wayside station, such as that at Ambleside would be. The hon. Gentleman must have known that such talk was mere claptrap. I do not know on whose behalf the hon. Gentleman has made his speech this afternoon. It certainly was not on behalf of the inhabitants of the district, because he does not seem to have been in communication with them, or, at all events, with only a very small portion of them; and I do not think that his speech was made on behalf of the great communities of Lancashire and Yorkshire, because, if it had been so, his desire ought rather to have been to bring railway communication to a point which would be the most suitable for them to see the Lake scenery. Instead of that, how does the case stand? Under present arangement, "trippers"—as we call them in Westmoreland—that is to say, the excursionists from Lancashire and Yorkshire, arrive at the Windermere Station, where they are landed high and dry—dry, I may say, in more senses than one. They are landed high up on the side of a hill some five miles distant from where the best of the scenery begins—namely, the head of the Lake. [Cries of "Oh!"] Of course, compared with Aberdeenshire and Finsbury Circus, the Members for which, I believe, are opposing this Bill, all the scenery of Westmoreland and Cumberland is beautiful; but what I maintain is that the real beauty of the Lake scenery does not begin until Ambleside is reached. When the "trippers" are landed at Winder-mere Station they have to make their way to Ambleside by means of a long and dusty road for a good many miles before they can reach Rydal or Grasmere, which are some three or four miles further on than Ambleside. Then, again, if they desire to reach the Lake, they have to go half-a-mile below the station before they can get to the pier at Bowness. In fact, they have actually to go south before they can pick up a steamer to take them from Bowness to Ambleside. If the sole question before us is whether the scenery is likely to be interfered with, that is essentially a question for a Committee upstairs, and a Committee alone can decide it. This House is altogether incompetent to judge whether the construction of the proposed railway will destroy the scenery or not. I have been at some pains to consult the plans and look at the photographs of the district; and, as far as my judgment goes, I think the line has been laid out so as to destroy the scenery, as the hon. Member calls it, to the least possible extent. The hon. Member knows perfectly well that the whole question can be raised before a Committee if he chooses to raise it. Why, Sir, what happened in the case of the Ennerdale Railway Bills in 1883 and 1884? The hon. Gentleman objected to those Bills on precisely the same grounds, and twice he was defeated. The House of Commons, acting upon the principle that it would not exercise its judgment on mere matters of detail, passed the second reading of those Bills; but, at the same time, it accepted, and perhaps not wrongly, the Instruction moved by the hon. Gentleman to the Committee to take into consideration questions dealing with the fact whether the scenery would be spoilt or not. I now invite the House humbly and respectfully to follow the same course as that which it took in 1883 and 1884, and to allow the second reading of the Bill to be taken. It will then be in the power of the hon. Member or any other hon. Member to move an Instruction to the Committee to take into consideration this question of scenery. I, for one, shall not object to any such Instruction being sent to the Committee. There were one or two other matters stated by the hon. Gentleman; but I do not think they are of sufficient importance to justify me in detaining the House upon them. There was, however, one point which he made which I think shows that he has had very little experience of the Rules and Regulations of the House of Commons. The hon. Member said that the London and North-Western Company are opposing the Bill. Of course, they are opposing the Bill, because it gives them a locus standi to appear before the Committee in order to obtain terms as to the connection which it will be necessary to make with the Kendal and Windermere Railway at Windermere. The hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Howorth), who seconded the Amendment, referred to the Yellowstone National Park, and gave that as an instance of the way in which the Americans preserve the land for those who desire to use it for holiday purposes. Now, the Yellowstone Park is a complete fraud; because it is a park for rich men only, and not for the poor. I think I am well within the mark when I say that it is 1,000 miles from New York. My contention is that if you continue the existing railway from Windermere to Ambleside you will, at all events, bring into the district those poor inhabitants of Lancashire who desire to see the Lake District. You will enable them to get nearer to the most beautiful parts of the scenery than if you land them at Windermere. On these general principles, which I have attempted to lay before the House, I, therefore, humbly trust the House will allow the second reading of this Bill to pass. It is a Bill which is strongly desired by the vast majority of the inhabitants of the district.

MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)

I, like the hon. Member for Aberdeen (Mr. Bryce), am of a somewhat sentimental turn; but I must really protest against the false sentimentality contained in the tone of the observations of my hon. Friends. Who are the objectors to this Bill? They are sentimentalists, poets, and æsthetes. Who are those who are the supporters of the Bill? They are the best judges of the matter—namely, the inhabitants of the district. My hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen (Mr. Bryce) has stated that it is desirable to retain portions of old English scenery free from the disfigurement of railways, as specimens of old England; but what would he say if it were proposed by the inhabitants of London to retain portions of Aberdeen, without an omnibus, without a railway, a tramcar, or anything connected with modern civilization, in order that it might be kept as a specimen of an old Scotch town? My hon. Friend seems to be under the delusion that the introduction of a railway must necessarily destroy the beauty of the scenery. I am sure that my hon. Friend has seen the railways in Savoy, Switzerland, and Italy. Why, the railroad in itself is a beautiful object. I know of nothing more pretty than the viaducts, against which my hon. Friend protests, when we see them either on the Corniche or the St. Gothard Railway. My hon. Friend stated that persons going into the Lake District would object to the shrieking of trains. Well, but the trains will not shriek. Why should trains shriek? There may be steam coming from the engine; but, after all, what is steam? It is only a vapour; and we have heard a good deal about the beauty of clouds. The railway engine will only give out artificial clouds. My hon. Friend alluded to the Yellowstone Park and the Yosemite Valley, and he said that the Americans have converted them into national playgrounds. But the American people have paid for them. I protest against these attacks upon property. Is my hon. Friend prepared to pay for the national playground he is going to establish for the benefit of sentimentalists, poets, and æsthetes? If this playground is to be reserved free from the disfigurement of railways let it be paid for. I sympathize with the "tripper." I know very well that the "tripper" who goes for a day to the Lake District wants to be deposited in the middle of the district, so that he may look about him for a few hours, and then go to his home. I was once a "tripper" myself, and I went down to this district. I was turned loose at Windermere, or Bowness, and I found great difficulty in getting a carriage to carry me on to Ambleside. I forget what I had to pay; but I see from the statement put forth by the promoters that it costs from 3s. to 5s. to get from Kendal to Ambleside. My hon. Friend scoffs at the opinions of the inhabitants of the district. They are to be entirely sacrificed to gentlemen from Aberdeen and other places who may probably never go there, but who may want to go. He says that the people of Ambleside will only have to pay a little more for their gas if this Bill is rejected. At present they have to pay 3s. 6d. more for the carriage of their coals. He says there is a bobbin factory which feels aggrieved; but he adds that it is only two miles from the railway. Now, in these days of competition it is absolutely necessary to bring a railroad as near as possible to a manufactory in order to enable it to pay. My hon. Friend says that the Bill ought not to be referred to a Committee upstairs, because in that case the people of England cannot appear before the Committee. Why should the people of England appear before any Committee? The "people of England" is a very vague term, and it is generally made use of by an hon. Gentleman when he merely wants to state his own opinions. My hon. Friend always says—"The people of England are in my favour." Now, I do not pay much attention to this vague impersonality of the people of England. When a district containing—not 2,000 as my hon. Friend asserted—but 7,000 persons wishes to have a railroad to connect it with the rest of England I think it is the best judge of what it wants; and if you want to make any country a playground buy it up. I shall vote for the second reading of the Bill, as I shall in favour of any Railway Bill which may come before this House, because I believe that a railroad means civilization, and the more we have of them the better.


As an old Cumberland Member—I believe technically the oldest Cumberland Member now in this House—I desire to say a few words in support of the second reading of this Bill. Nothing has more surprised me than the remarkable speech of the hon. Member for Aberdeen (Mr. Bryce). I do not hesitate to say, for my own part, that I agree with the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) who has just sat down that railways need not involve any interference with the picturesque scenery of a country. On the contrary, I believe they add to the beauty of the scenery instead of detracting from it. I am familiar with the railways in Switzerland, Savoy, and Italy, and also with the railways which now exist in Cumberland itself. When the hon. Gentleman talks about intruding a system of railways into Cumberland, is he aware that there is a railway at this moment at the very foot of Scawfell by way of Eskdale—one of the most beautiful valleys in the whole of England. How is it that he did not oppose that railway or make a protest against it? Is he not also aware that there is a railway running along the shore of Bassenthwaite Lake and another over Shapfells; and does he mean to allege in any reasonable moment that these railways are an interference with the enjoyment of the people? No assertion of that kind would be received by this House. However the sentimental idea may be treated, and whatever weight it may have with the House, I take objection to the hon. Member's speech, on the ground that he told us that there was substantially no support to the Bill except among the people he enumerated. I do not know from whence the hon. Member got his information. On the West Coast of Cumberland there is a large mining population, and that population, almost to a man, is in favour of this project. Within the last few days I have received a considerable number of letters, not only from my own constituency in North-West Cumberland, but also from South-West Cumberland, asking me to give all the support I can to this Bill. At this moment this district, which the hon. Gentleman is so desirous of preserving, is absolutely inaccessible to the working population of West Cumberland. If they desire to visit Ambleside, they have to take the railway which goes to the foot of Scawfell, and from thence they have a weary walk of 14 miles in order to reach the head of Windermere. If this railway is authorized they ought to be able on great holidays to reach Ambleside in three hours, with ample time to enjoy the scenery and return to their homes the same day. There is another point to which I think it absolutely necessary that I should call the attention of the House—namely, the issue of a document called "Reasons against the second reading of the Bill by the Commons Preservation Society." I must say that in so short a space I have never seen reasons put forth so absolutely destitute of foundation. It is surprising to me that the hon. Member for Aberdeen should have identified himself with the Society which has put forward such a series of false accusations as are contained in this document against the Bill. I will not go through the first three or four reasons, because they have already been dealt with by my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Cumberland (Mr. J. W. Lowther); but the last of them, and perhaps the most important, because it bears materially upon this case, states, among other things, that "Parliament has hitherto steadily refused to permit any railway to traverse this district and the four railway schemes have been successively rejected." Now, the truth is that the Ennerdale Bill was twice sent to a Select Committee, and not rejected upon, any picturesque or sentimental ideas, nor because it interfered with the enjoyment of the public. The Ennerdale Bill was rejected, not by the House, but by a Committee, because the financial proposals it contained did not meet with the acceptance of the Committee. Therefore, I say it is perfectly monstrous that this so-called "Commons Preservation Society" with whom the hon. Member is connected, and I believe other hon. Members, probably on both sides of the House, should allow such false and misleading statements to be put forth. It is nothing of the sort. The Ennerdale Scheme passed a second reading on two occasions; and, as I have told the House, the Bill was rejected by a Select Committee for other reasons. The hon. Member flatters the working man, and, when it suits him, upholds the great necessity that he should have the opportunity of rational enjoyment. Now, it is on that very ground that I support this Bill. The working man in this part of the country has the British Museum, the Tower of London, and the Brompton Boilers, as the South Kensington Museum is properly called; but in the Lake District there are no exhibitions of the kind. I have not the slightest doubt that it is very disagreeable to some hon. Members on the other side of the House that we should endeavour to do something to assist the working man. I see sitting on the Front Opposition Bench the hon. Gentleman the Chairman of Committees (Mr. Courtney). Before the House consents to reject this Bill, I think it is desirable that the hon. Gentleman should rise in his place and give the House the full benefit of his advice. At this stage I shall certainly give my strenuous support to the second reading of the Bill.


I ask the indulgence of the House for three or four minutes by that clock while I explain my reasons for opposing this Bill. The whirligig of time has brought with it its revenge in giving me the position of answering the senior Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere). I oppose this Bill upon that principle which animates us both, and which animates many other Members of this honourable House, although it rarely extends its influence to the occupants of the Treasury Bench—the true I democratic principle—that is to say, I prefer the interests of the greater number of the inhabitants of the country to those of the lesser. That is a principle upon which the whole of this House—Conservative as well as Liberal—is supposed to act, although I must confess; that it occasionally nods. I wish to put before the House three reasons why the Bill ought to be rejected. Firstly, it ought to be rejected on utilitarian prin- ciples. The hon. Member for Northampton has proved to demonstration, in his own paper, that the railway which it is proposed to construct cannot be a commercial success. Why, then, should we run a railroad into a district where it is not wanted? No one presumes to say that a railroad is beautiful in itself, or desirable except for the advantage of the public, although I know there are those who would be prepared to run a railroad through Westminster Abbey in order to get a more ready access to this Chamber. Taking the artistic view, I think I speak the mind of every artist, of every true Democrat, of every Conservative, in the proper meaning of the word, and of every Englishman who loves his country, when I ask all sides in the House to join in protesting against and rejecting this most unnecessary Bill. I know that the opponents of the Bill have been termed artists, poets, sentimentalists, æsthetes, and selfish people. I am not going to stand up and argue that a mountain may not be improved by the presence of man and of that of woman sometimes; but I protest against robbing the poor of the nation of one of their playgrounds. The time has gone by when, by the permission of the House, and through the agency of some of those processes facetiously called "law," most of the commons has been stolen from that great goose—the British public. I know, Sir, that it is of no use to urge the example of the Yellowstone Park; and, therefore, I shall not proceed to do so. It seems to me that, like the Yellowstone Park, this Ambleside district might be most advantageously bought by the nation, and preserved for the people of our great towns as a Democratic playground. In this country the rich have their enclosed parks, in which the noble owner can walk or commune with his gamekeeper beneath the shadow of the neat white-painted board—"No Trespassers;" but his poorer neighbour can only ramble about his well-flavoured open slum, and saunter between that and the public-house, where refreshment is provided both for his body and soul—for I am even prepared to advance that the poor have souls. I will not ask the House to accompany me very far in a flight of fancy; but I would ask hon. Members to imagine Ambleside when all the pomp and circumstance of glorious commerce shall have descended upon it, when refreshment rooms and shilling teas prevail, and when lads and lasses no longer go a-courting—I do not mention the circumstance as any reflection upon the morality of the district, which I believe stands high, and will compare favourably with that of any other parts of the Kingdom in which the people are equally as well fed, and enjoy the privileges of an Established Church—when lads and lasses no longer go a-courting amongst the groves to the song of the nightingale, but stagger amidst gasometers and scoria, and listen to the dulcet tones of the steam whistle. In conclusion, I would venture to ask the House, irrespective of Party, to show that small portion of humanity outside its walls that they have some sympathy with legislation of a popular character. For these reasons I oppose the second reading of this Bill.

MR. AINSLIE (Lancashire, N. Lonsdale)

I support the Bill on behalf of the constituents whom I have the honour to represent, who desire to obtain access to this most beautiful district, and who have presented Petitions in favour of the measure. They object to have the beautiful scenery of the Lake District shut out from the great body of people; and I would remind the hon. Gentleman who has moved the rejection of the Bill that some of the support which is given to the second reading is based upon a desire to get rid of the flooding of people which now takes place at Windermere alone, in order to carry them a little further on, and afford them an opportunity of seeing those beauties of Nature which have been so graphically described by the hon. Member for Aberdeen (Mr. Bryce). Well, Sir, are the sentimentalists, who desire to shut up our fells and valleys, and confine them only to the people who inhabit them, to prevent the manufacturing population from visiting them? Do they wish to set a seal on it, and allow no one to get out of it; and do they desire to build up a kind of Chinese wall, which is to prevent access from either side? We invite the whole population of the United Kingdom to enter the district. We have no selfish motives, even against the æsthetic cause they may have at heart. If this railroad is not made, is the district to be converted into a happy hunting ground for the spirits of the poets, æsthetes, and sentimentalists who take such deep in- terest in its reservation and seclusion? The objections to the Bill seem to emanate entirely from those who have no present business in the district; while the inhabitants who live in the murky cities bordering on the proposed line wish to have an opportunity of getting to Amble-side, but do not at present possess the necessary facilities. I feel that I should fail in the duty I owe to my constituents if I did not give my support to this Bill. Living, as I do, in the midst of this scenery, I am prepared to say that the construction of this railway will in no sense injure the beauty of the Lake Country; and probably I know the locality as intimately as any man who has ever visited it. More than that, the fear I have is that if you do not sanction this railway, you will have the still more objectionable tramways laid down in its place; for the means of communication we must have, and if the House of Commons refuses to give us a railroad we must obtain what we desire by some other means.

MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)

The question before the House has been so fully discussed, that I will promise not to detain hon. Members long. I only rise for the purpose of answering the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for White-haven (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck), who has, in strong terms, denounced a Circular issued in opposition to this Bill by the Commons Preservation Society, of which I have the honour to be Chairman. I am fully prepared to maintain substantially the accuracy of every word contained in that Circular, although the right hon. Gentleman only cited one of the various reasons which the Society give for objecting to the Bill. The statement to which the right hon. Gentleman specifically objects is that the Society has, on four occasions, successfully prevented railroads from invading the Lake District. That statement is perfectly true. On every occasion their opposition has been attended with success. Whether in every case the proposal was rejected on the ground of sentiment or from some other cause I am not able to say; but our opposition was in every case successful, and we prevented the railroad proposed from entering the district. I should be very sorry to enter into a controversy with the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) as to what is true or false in sentiment. On numerous occasions an appeal of this kind has been fought in the interests of the public against private interests, and always with success. If the matter were a private matter, dealing only with private rights and interests, I should not have interposed to prevent the Bill going to a Committee; but my experience of Select Committees is that they do not sufficiently regard the interests of the public, and that it is only in this House that the interests of the public are properly maintained. It is on that principle that I have, over and over again, dealt with matters of this kind, and shall do so again whenever they come before us. The hon. Member for Penrith (Mr. Lowther) has put the case very fairly before the House; but his case is that the railway will be a benefit to tourists. Now, would it be better for the tourists to have this railway, or to be without it? Surely, if we are to enter into the consideration of what is for the benefit of tourists, we ought to take a broader view when the interests of tourists are likely, by the construction of a railway, to encroach upon the general interests of the community. That is really the question before the House; and I hope the House will decide, as upon former occasions, by rejecting the Bill.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 189; Noes 177: Majority 12.—(Div. List, No. 10.)

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read a second time, and committed.

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