§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Colonel Makins.)
§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
Sir, in rising to oppose the second reading of this Bill, it is not necessary that I should detain the House very long. I object, in particular, to Clauses 34, 36, and 37 of the Bill, and also to the 1st Schedule, which propose to confer on the Great Eastern Railway Company entirely new powers as to establishing markets and levying tolls—powers which, as far as I am aware, have never previously been conferred upon any Railway Company. I have, however, been in communication with the promoters of the Bill, and I am prepared to assent to the second reading of the Bill on the understanding that I am not prejudiced in raising hereafter an objection to these clauses, and that I shall not be considered to have foregone my right to raise that opposition at any subsequent stage of the Bill. On the understanding that that is so, I will merely say that the clauses in question involve certain questions which are included in the Motion of which I have given Notice in reference to tolls and markets. That Motion has not been specially directed against this Bill; and I am told that the Company have had to encounter very great difficulties in their endeavour to resist the privilege of restraining sales claimed under the Charter I really attack. I do not, therefore, propose to move the Motion for the rejection of the Bill which I have placed on the Paper.
§ MR. FORREST FULTON (West Ham, N.)
Sir, I hope the House will bear with me for a moment while I say a word in regard to this Bill. It is a measure which directly affects the constituency I have the honour to represent. Clause 36 confers on the Great Eastern Railway Company power to carry on the Stratford Market. That market is of the utmost importance to the population of West Ham; and they object altogether to the powers which the Great Eastern Company propose to acquire. They are of opinion that the market tolls should be collected by the Corporation, and expended by them for the benefit of the ratepayers. It is well known that the Great Eastern Company have, by an agreement which is mentioned in Clause 34 of the Bill, undertaken to carry out certain objects in connection with Horner's Estate and Stratford Market, which it is believed will interfere prejudicially with the amount of produce taken into the market, and detrimentally affect the interests of the population. Seeing that the Mayor, Aldermen, and Burgesses of West Ham have lodged a Petition against the Bill, I do not feel justified in pressing my opposition to the Market Clauses of the Bill to a Division in the present stage of the measure; but at the same time I reserve to myself full right to take any course I may think it desirable to pursue if the Bill should be returned to the House in the form it assumes now.
§ MR. BURDETT-COUTTS (Westminster)
I do not think it would be right for me to oppose the Bill on general grounds; because I am petitioning against it on private grounds; and I know very well that a prejudice exists in this House against anyone who has petitioned against a Bill being heard in opposition to it on public grounds. But, speaking from large experience in connection with the market supply of East London, I hope I may be permitted to say that this Bill will strengthen, enlarge, and confirm, by the authority of this House, the monopoly which has hitherto existed in the hands of the Spitalfields Market. Upon that ground, I consider that the clauses of the Bill are highly detrimental to the interests of the poor in the East End of London. I do not propose to pursue my opposition to the Bill further at this stage, on the ground I have already 144 stated—namely, that I am one of the Petitioners against it, and that I shall have an opportuntity of being heard elsewhere; but I reserve to myself the right to oppose the Bill at a future stage.
§ MR. JAMES STUART (Shoreditch, Hoxton)
As the Bill affects my constituency also, I may, perhaps, be allowed to say that I offer no opposition to the second reading, on the understanding indicated by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) that it will not prevent further opposition to the measure at a subsequent stage.
§ COLONEL MAKINS (Essex, S.E.)
I perfectly understand the view which has been put forward by hon. Members who have spoken upon the Bill. It is right, however, the House should know that this Bill is a measure which contains many other provisions besides the market provisions—provisions that are necessary for the carrying on of the service of the Great Eastern Railway Company, and for ensuring the safety of the public. With regard to the Market Clauses, the Company are quite prepared to adopt the view which has been put forward by hon. Members who have addressed the House. They do not seek to acquire these markets in any restrictive sense whatever. The position of the Company is simply this—A restrictive right did exist when the Company bought up the property. They have resisted that right as far as they could, and they have carried the case to the highest tribunal—the House of Lords; and, as the House of Lords have decided against them, they have been compelled to make an application to Parliament, in order to render these markets more effective, and to make better provision for a large and rapidly growing population. That being the case, I am quite prepared, on behalf of the promoters, to guarantee that neither the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh), nor the hon. and learned Member for West Ham (Mr. Forrest Fulton), nor any other objector to the Bill, shall be in a worse position in consequence of the second reading of the Bill. It is the desire of the Railway Company that there should be more markets, rather than fewer, and they would be very glad to see the markets in West Ham considerably multiplied. I do not think that any public right or authority will be injured by reading the 145 Bill a second time, and I trust that after what I have said there will be no further opposition to the measure at this stage.
§ MAJOR BANES (West Ham, S.)
On the part of the Mayor, Aldermen, and Burgesses of West Ham, I was prepared to oppose the second reading of the Bill, so far as the clauses relating to the market rights are concerned. My constituents feel that, having been lately made a Parliamentary and municipal borough, it is scarcely proper that they should consent to the Common Law right of holding a market, which one man at present claims to possess, being converted into a statutory right, which is sought under cover of this Bill. The lessee claims, through the right of holding a market in Spitalfields under an old Charter, the right over West Ham; but we maintain that in a great and rapidly increasing borough, such as West Ham, with a population of more than 200,000, possessing now Parliamentary Representatives and a Mayor and Corporation, we should not permit ourselves to be deprived of our market rights. But, under the circumstances which have been mentioned, I am quite willing to assent to the arrangement which has been made with the hon. and gallant Member for Walthamstow (Colonel Makins), and to agree to the second reading of the Bill, on the understanding that, by consenting to that course, our right to oppose these clauses at a subsequent stage will not be prejudiced.
§ MR. J. ROWLANDS (Finsbury, E.)
I also, while allowing the second reading of the Bill to pass, reserve to myself the right of opposing it, if necessary, on a future occasion.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time, and committed.