§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ (2.20.) MR. JAMES (Gateshead)
I beg to move as an Amendment—That, having regard to the extreme importance of open spaces in crowded cities, this House is not prepared to entertain a measure which involves interference with a considerable area of open space in London.I am quite aware that this Bill is perhaps the most important Bill that has been introduced this Session, and I am 1200 prepared to admit that on general grounds it is not only wise but usual to allow such measures to pass a Second Reading so that the issues they involve may be considered by a Committee upstairs. The Amendment of which I have given notice affects however the question of open spaces in large cities, and I respectfully maintain that that is not a question with which counsel and Committees are as competent to deal as this House. It has been the usual custom when a projected line of railway approaches a large city to drive the railway through common land. In doing this the company pursued a worldly course, because the interests connected with common land were not likely to be defended by anybody, and a Railway Company were thus able to acquire large tracts of land without paying for it. This practice fortunately attracted the notice of the late Mr. Fawcett, and in connection with other Members who felt an interest in the subject, the Commons Preservation Society was formed and established. The result has been that the interests of the public have been carefully guarded, and a protest effectually raised against unnecessary aggression and invasion on the part of Railway Companies. There is, of course, some difference of opinion as to what an open space is—some people say that this House is an open space, while others look upon Westminster Hall and the Charing Cross Railway Station in the same light; there is a great deal of difference of opinion as to what may be involved in the definition of an open space, but I make this Motion in no sense in antagonism to this Railway Company, or to railways in general. Railways, however, are not everything, and it is not desirable that every other interest should be sacrificed in favour of a huge commercial speculation on behalf of those who desire to travel. No doubt it will be of advantage to Yorkshire and Lancashire to see this railway carried into London, and the hon. Members for Leicester (Mr. A. W. McArthur), and Sheffield (Mr. Mundella), will feel that it will benefit their constituents. From their point of view my proposition is a monstrous one; but I can assure the House that I would not propose it if I did not think that my case is a very strong one, and if I had not 1201 come to the conclusion that this Railway Company has no right to invade this open space. The open space chiefly affected by this Bill is the neighbourhood of Lord's Cricket Ground and St. John's Wood. Some of my friends say that I am opposing the Bill mainly in the aristocratic interests of Lord's. Now I am not the Member for Lord's, and I believe that their interests will be represented by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bury (Sir H. James). A great many of the public derive pleasure from University and public school matches at Lord's. But I know what has been attempted in the past to be done with open spaces. Not many years ago—some seven or eight—we were astonished when we came back to London to find set up in Parliament Square something like a sentry box which was to form one of the ventilators of the Underground Railway. So indignant was the House in regard to that proceeding that almost withoutprece dent the decision of the Select Committee was upset and the erection was removed. I think we should have the same objection to see anything done that would interfere with the use of Lord's Cricket Ground, and the public school and other matches which draw so many people together for harmless amusement and recreation. But quite apart from Lord's, there is the general question in regard to St. John's Wood, which comprises the large area known as the Clergy Orphans' School, the Zoological Gardens, and the disused burial ground of St. John's parish. I have been furnished with the following carefully prepared statement, which embodies all the material facts in relation to the history and character of the neighbourhood—The suburb of St. John's Wood is on a slope which was formerly the property of the Knights Hospitallers of St. John. Some 350 acres known as the St. John's Wood Estate have now been for some considerable time owned by the Eyre family, by whom this large extent of land has been leased out in plots for the erection of residences. This Estate, which adjoins the western extremity of Regent's Park and reaches to South Hampstead, has an entirely exceptional character among the residential suburbs of London. The ground landlord under whom the suburb was laid out had ideas beyond the mere question of rent-roll, and exacted the construction of high-class villas, detached and semi-detached, with ample gardens and forecourts, allowing only such terraces of shops as would suffice for the service of the neighbourhood. This ideal of an open neighbourhood has been rigorously enforced up to 1202 the present day; and owners of leases who have from time to time desired to enlarge their houses have been met by the consistent objection that their proposed operation would militate against the open character of the neighbourhood, which the ground landlord meant to maintain, regardless of the heritage of bricks and mortar which he might secure to his successor by allowing the openings to be blocked. This is the main reason why the air of St. John's Wood is so much purer than that of other residential suburbs. The northerly winds sweep over Hampstead Heath, pass across St. John's Wood gardens and between the well-separated blocks of buildings, and reach Marylebone comparatively uncontaminated, and the air, passing over Regent's Park, reaches the thickly-built neighbourhood of Padding-ton in a far purer state than it would if Walpole Eyre had let the jerry-builder do his will with the estate of the old Knights Hospitallers. The open character of St John's Wood may be well exemplified by the remark that of the 35 acres which Sir Edward Watkin proposes to take for his terminus station, only about five are actually built upon, while 30 are made up of gardens, forecourts, and roadways. Besides this general freedom from close streets of lofty brickwork, St. John's Wood possesses two considerable open spaces a stone's throw north of Regent's Canal—to wit, Lord's Cricket Ground and the charming garden dotted with fine forest trees, laid out in the disused burial ground attached to St. John's Wood Chapel. The open suburb which Sir E. Watkin proposes to invade could not in the natural course of things be deprived of its valuable sanitary character for from 29 to 46 years, such being the time that the leases have still to run.In the circumstances thus sketched, the necessity for the proposed new railway ought to be completely demonstrated before the neighbourhood is invaded and taken possession of. Of course, the Bill has received the support of the provincial constituencies through which it passes. We all recognise that this Bill is the child of my hon. Friend the Member for Hythe (Sir E. Watkin). I have always regarded my hon. Friend as a great public benefactor, but I think he will himself admit that he has a great many irons in the fire. He is Chairman of the South Eastern Railway Company, of the Metropolitan Company, and of the Manchester, Sheffield, and Lincolnshire Railway Company; he is the owner of Snowdon; he is engaged in disinterring coal in Kent, and he is the parent of the Channel Tunnel Scheme, and of an Eiffel Tower in London. One is almost tempted to say—He doth bestride the narrow worldLike a Colossus.He is interested in so many large and vast 1203 undertakings that I think we should have further time for consideration before he is permitted to destroy Lord's and St. John's Wood. No doubt he has done a great deal of good, but sometimes in doing good it is possible at the same time to do a great amount of harm. It is because I am of opinion that this Bill is calculated to injure interests which are distinctly of a public character that I move this Amendment.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "having regard to the extreme importance of open spaces in crowded cities, this House is not prepared to entertain a measure which involves interference with a considerable area of open space in London."—(Mr. Walter James.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ *(2.35.) SIR E. WATKIN (Hythe)
Perhaps I may be allowed to say that there was never any proposal to erect a station with steam and smoke in Parliament Square. The then Minister of Public Works proposed an extension from Paddington to Government land about Delahay Street. That was the project of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ (3.36.) MR. BOULNOIS (Marylebone, E.)
I am quite aware that it is unusual to oppose a Bill of this nature on the Second Reading, and that the Chairman of Committees is most averse to any attempt to throw out a Private Bill upon this stage. But I think that the hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. James) has said quite sufficient to justify the House in taking the Bill into consideration; and I think I shall be able to show that there are exceptional circumstances which render it necessary in regard to this measure that the House should pronounce an opinion. There are three grounds on which I oppose the Bill; and the first is that there are a great number of persons who are injuriously and seriously affected by the provisions of the measure who are unable to be heard anywhere except through their Representatives in this House. The Bill affects a considerable number of persons whose property lies outside the lines of deviation, and although they may present Petitions they cannot be heard if the Bill goes into Committee. In such cases no com- 1204 pensation is given, and the only opportunity they have of presenting the hardships and grievances they may sustain is through their Representatives-in this House itself. Nor can the Representatives of the Crown be heard if the Bill is allowed to go into Committee. My second ground for opposing the Bill' is that the scheme proposed by this Railway Company is absolutely unprecedented. I know of no instance in which a railway has entered London by intersecting large and valuable residential property. The third ground for asking the House to interpose is the question which has already been raised by the hon. Member for Gateshead that a large area of open space—one most vital and necessary to the whole of the Metropolis will be taken away by this scheme. I do not know whether it is necessary that I should describe to the House the locality of St. John's Wood.
§ MR. BOULNOIS
I could never understand why, when mention is made of St. John's Wood, there should be a laugh. I can only say that the residents of St. John's Wood do not look on this as a laughing matter. Probably the locality is little known to hon. Members who come from the country. They may drive as far as Lord's and occasionally go further, but they do not know anything of the unique character of the locality-Let me read a short description by a lady whose name I am sure will command respect—Miss Octavia Hill—who wrote a forcible letter to the Times of yesterday on this subject, and spoke of the neighbourhood as being singularly open and airy. She says:—Here is a space, free for light and air to pass over to the more crowded districts, its wide streets bordered with gardens in which laburnum and hawthorn make the spring bright for all who walk from the Lisson Grove district to Regent's Park or Hampstead Heath, over which for all Marylebone the wind sweeps fresh and free.I do not know whether it is necessary that I should enter further into a description of the locality, but the promoters of the Bill in a circular which they have issued, say that the ground proposed to be occupied as a terminus is ground either built upon, or, in the natural course of things, to be built upon. Now where it is proposed to have the terminus 1205 there are 30 acres of fine open space, and these will be covered by a railway depôt. Let me describe this railway. It enters St. John's Wood, or South Hampstead, at the Swiss Cottage, and is to pass by a tunnel or cutting until it reaches Lord's. From thence it is to run in an open cutting, 250 yards wide, into a huge terminus covering 35 acres. The Petition presented against the Bill contains some 1,400 signatures, but only 100 of the persons it represents can be heard in Committee. Among the persons who will be seriously injured by the proposal, are 85 or 86 well known artists including Mr. Alma Tadema, Mr. M'Whirter, Mr. Bruton Reviere, and Mr. Harry Furness. It is said they can go to other spots to follow their profession; but will their patrons follow them? Then it is said there is a railway already in St. John's Wood. So there is, but it is under cover, and only passengers are carried on it. The proposed line, however, is not only "to carry passengers, but goods, coals, manure, fish, and every other abomination that can be named. Then it has been argued that the open spaces in the locality will not remain long, as the leases are short. That may be so as to some part of the neighbourhood, but in a greater number of instances there are independent freeholders on the estate, and it is extremely unlikely that they will make up their minds to convert their freeholds into leaseholds. But supposing all these spaces are built upon, it is perfectly clear that Regent's Park, Hampstead Heath, and Parliament Hill, will never be covered with houses. This proposed terminus is only 170 yards from Regent's Park. It is perfectly certain that Regent's Park will never be built upon, but can anyone deny that the smoke, dust, and steam, together with the smells which would come from the fish and manure trucks would seriously injure and pollute the salubrious-ness and healthiness of the park? Lord's Cricket Ground, I maintain, is almost as much a national open space as Regent's Park. The Cricket Ground is about the same distance from the terminus as the Park, and the promoters of the railway know, that unless they could arrange matters with the Marylebone Cricket Club, serious opposition would be offered to them. As a result, instead of there being a wide open cutting through 1206 Lord's, as shown in the deposited plans, four little tubes are to be pushed under the extreme eastern verge of Lord's, and for this concession the club are to receive a slice of the property which now belongs to the Clergy Orphan School. But does anyone imagine if the hon. Baronet (Sir E. Watkin) gets a foothold in Lord's, he will not eventually take the whole ground? If this railway is not a sham, if it is to have any traffic at all, the terminus must be a larger one than that which is now proposed, and to effect this Lord's must be acquired altogether. But what is to happen to cricket players even supposing the terminus remains as proposed? Fancy a match between Oxford and Cambridge, or Eton and Harrow, with the galaxy of beauty which is always to be found at Lord's on such occasions. If there is a south wind, dust and dirt will be blown from this terminus, and not only be a great inconvenience, but will damage the beautiful and costly dresses of the ladies. Artists, literary men, men of leisure, and those persons who naturally seek quiet and repose in this quiet neighbourhood are well aware that if it is for the public good, their comfort and convenience must give way, but they deny that there is any necessity for it. If there is any necessity for a new line of railway from the North, the company promoting it should be compelled to avail themselves of the district already occupied by rail ways where they would not be likely to inflict a real and lasting injury upon anyone.
§ *(3.0.) MR. BROADHURST (Nottingham, W.)
I rise on behalf of the constituency I have the honour to represent to appeal to the House to give a Second Reading to this Bill. I am much surprised that my hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead should take the extreme course of trying to defeat the Bill on the Second Reading, and thereby deprive the promoters of the right of being heard in its favour. But my hon. Friend did not seem to throw his heart into the business of opposition; he rather spoke as a person who regretted he had undertaken the duty of opposing. The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down pleaded somewhat pathetically for the interests of the people of St. John's Wood. No one desires seriously to 1207 injure the people of that district, or of any other district, but, of all the districts in London, St. John's is the one most blessed with open spaces, both in front and rear. As a matter of fact, it is surrounded by great open spaces. I support the Bill on behalf of the people of Nottingham. Nottingham has a population of 250,000. It is teeming with manufactures; it is alive with industry; and yet it is not served by any one main system of railway. Both the Great Northern and the Midland are only connected with Nottingham by branch lines, and there is a very large area untouched. I make no complaint against the Great Northern or the Midland for their passenger service, but it is not within the power of these companies to serve Nottingham as it ought to be served, considering its commercial position and its industrial necessities. The new line which this Bill contemplates will be an enormous blessing to Nottingham, and would afford opportunities for trade and commerce which it has never yet enjoyed. We should have direct communication with the furthermost parts of Scotland and every district in the South and West of England. Surely then an important borough such as Nottingham is at least entitled to be heard before a Committee, and is not to be disposed of in this off-hand manner by refusing to read the Bill a second time. My Colleague the Member for East Nottingham (Mr. A. Morley) presented yesterday a Petition in favour of the Bill signed by 16,000 persons, and I also presented a Petition bearing an enormous number of signatures. Every section of the commercial community of Nottingham is united to a man in favour of the scheme, and one of the largest meetings of the working classes ever held in the borough was unanimous in supporting it. Surely these are reasons why we should agree to-day to the Second Reading of the measure. Leicester, with a population of 150,000, is also in its favour, and a united population of nearly 500,000 in Nottingham and Leicester deserve some consideration. I should be sorry to advocate any measure that would wilfully or carelessly destroy open spaces, but I think we ought to regard the pressing necessities of a great community. Whatever shortcomings there 1208 may be in the Bill may be amended in Committee, and by opening up increased facilities for communication we shall really be providing for increased trade and increased prosperity for the communities interested.
§ (3.10.) MR. BARNES (Derbyshire, Chesterfield)
In the County of Derby we are fully alive to the absolute necessity of this Bill. At present we have only one railway, notwithstanding the enormous increase of traffic, and my constituents are of opinion that with one railway their interests are not adequately served; especially so far as the coal traffic is concerned. What' they require is a railway which shall enable them to get direct to London and carry their traffic south of London. I was somewhat astonished to hear the views of the hon. Member for Marylebone (Mr. Boulnois) as to the carrying of coal being an abomination. How are we to go on without coal? How is the industry of the country to be carried on without it? I certainly hope the House will allow the Bill to go before a Select Committee.
§ *(3.12.) SIR J. PEASE (Durham, Barnard Castle)
If I were to register my vote according to my own personal interests, I should probably divide against the Second Reading of the Bill; bat I wish respectfully to call the attention of the House to the position in which some of these railway questions stand at the present moment. They seem to take up much more of the time of the House than they used to do; and I cannot help thinking that the House of Commons, in trying to do the work of Committees, is not only in that way occupying time which might more usefully be employed for national purposes, but is also preventing railway measures from receiving in Committees that consideration which commercial interests require. I can recollect the time when the Second Reading of a Railway Bill, except under special circumstances, was never debated in the House itself, but was sent to a Committee in which it could be fully considered and threshed out. It is all very well to talk of Mr. Briton Riviere and Mr. Alma Tadema and other respectable people in the neighbourhood of St. John's Wood, but the real question is how the interests of the Metropolis at large will be affected. I am astonished 1209 to hear hon. Members speak of the inconvenience of a railway when it is well known that the railways have been the great civilisers and convenience of mankind. The hon. Gentleman opposite spoke of the fish traffic. Of all the railways in London this is the one which would help us most in regard to the fish traffic. It would bring fish direct from Grimsby at a very materially reduced cost. I submit that all the points that have been raised in opposition should be dealt with in Committee, and I enter my caveat against the House going into these questions instead of leaving them to the Committee.
§ (3.20.) MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
I agree that, as a general rule, it is better to relegate these questions to Committees; but for the last 15 years those interested in the preservation of open spaces have raised the question of Bills of this kind, because open spaces have not received good treatment at the hands of Committees. In the present case the question is not merely a question in regard to Nottingham. I am of opinion that there should be more communication between the Midlands and London; but the terminus should be well chosen, and that proposed has not been as well chosen as it might have been. I have put down an Instruction, in the event of the Second Reading being carried, empowering the Committee to consider whether some better site for a terminus could not be selected, and I understand that the promoters of the Bill are not unprepared to consent to that Instruction. On the strict understanding that the Committee will be able to consider the question of alternative termini, I will not object to the Second Reading.
§ (3.25.) MR. JEFFREYS (Hants, Basingstoke)
I object to the Bill on account of its interference with Lord's Cricket Ground, which is the most unique space in London. I am told that the members of Lord's have agreed to it, but there has been no general meeting on the subject, and every cricketer and every member of Lord's that I have spoken to has objected to it very strongly. They do so because they are convinced that if there is a great terminus built on the other side of Lord's, the company will not be content with two tubes under the ground, but will presently want the greater part of the space. If 1210 the Committee agree to it, they may find themselves in a great minority at the next meeting. Lord's is not an aristocratic ground. If hon. Members will go there, not when the Oxford and Cambridge or Eton and Harrow match is being played, but on the date of any of the great county matches, they will be surprised to see many thousands of working men enjoying their holiday in a rational and orderly manner. For these and other reasons I venture to ask the House on this occasion to throw out the Bill, which I believe will be not only detrimental to the health of the neighbourhood, but to the well-being of the Metropolis.
§ (3.27.) SIR H. JAMES (Bury, Lancashire)
It is evident from what has been said in this House and outside that a great interest exists in the preservation of Lord's, and the House will agree in sharing that view. When the Bill was first introduced it was felt that a most serious attack was being made upon the preservation of Lord's Cricket Ground. The committee of the Marylebone Cricket Club, of which I have the honour to be a member, and the acting chairman of which is Sir Spencer Ponsonby Fane, is composed of cricketers like Lord Lyttleton, Mr. Ridley, and Mr. Walker, who have a most practical knowledge of what is necessary for the preservation of a cricket ground, and who, as every cricketer in England knows, are most jealous of the interests of the Club. The committee at first decided to oppose the Bill, and to try to prevent the substantial injury they thought it would do the ground; but they were approached by the promoters, who expressed their wish in no way to interfere with the ground. The Railway Company offered the Marylebone Cricket Club certain terms for the preservation of Lord's Ground. I do not recognise that offer as the substituting of four tubes instead of making an open cutting. What has in effect been done is the withdrawal of the deposited plans; and the promoters, instead of taking a substantial part of the cricket ground, have agreed to confine their operations to tunnelling a narrow strip at the extreme end, which forms part of the practice ground. The land required for the tunnel will be 124 feet in breadth, and the work is to be carried on between 1211 the months of September and April, so as not to interfere with the practice, and all arrangements have been made for the ground being left in as good condition for practice as it is now. The ground which the company will take will be 4,300 square yards. What do they propose to give Lord's in return? The committee have been long attempting to acquire ground belonging to the Clergy Orphans' School, and the Railway company will have to take that ground. In consideration of the right to tunnel, they have offered to hand over to the committee of Lord's an area which will make the ground perfectly square instead of irregular as now, and this area consists of 8,600 square yards, or double the extent of ground taken. In addition, the Railway Company agree to give Lord's a lease for nothing of 4,000 square yards more land, making in all 12,600 square yards for the right to tunnel under 4,300. In that case what had the committee to do? How could they with propriety oppose the scheme, and say that it would interfere with an open space, when in reality it added to the open space. I do not believe the Railway Company in the future will make any more demands for land. That which they now seek will give them room for 10 working rails, and they say that is all they will require. But if they ask for more in days to come they will be met by this agreement as an answer to their demand. I admit that in considering this matter the Committee of the Marylebone Club have never discussed the likelihood of the terminus causing damage to ladies' dresses on the occasion of the Oxford and Cambridge matches, but it will be open to the hon. Member for Marylebone to urge that point before the general meeting of the Club which has been called to consider the action of the Committee.
§ (3.35.) MR. LABOUCHERE
The opposition to this Bill going into Committee in the ordinary course is not based on any opposition to the railway or to the proposal that there should be a new terminus in London, but is simply directed to the fact that it is proposed to have the terminus in St. John's Wood. The hon. Member opposite—the Member for St. John's Wood—who seconded the Amendment, based his opposition upon two grounds: first, that St. John's Wood 1212 consists of open spaces which it is necessary to preserve; and next, that it would destroy Lord's Cricket Ground. We have just heard from my right hon. Friend the Member for Bury (Sir H. James) that the committee of Lord's Cricket Ground have agreed to the arrangement proposed by the promoters of the Bill, and as to the open spaces the hon. Member says the land has been laid out for semi-detached villas, which he says are of great value to the Metropolis for the preservation of pure air. This is the first time I ever heard of the pure air of St. John's Wood permeating Regent's Park and the neighbourhood, nor; have we the slightest guarantee that the present state of things will be always maintained; and that these separate villas will remain a permanent institution. The owners will look after their own interests, and as the population increases this locality will naturally be converted into terraces, roads, and so on. It is impossible for the hon. Member to guarantee that this will remain an open space even until the leases run out in 30 years. They are not open spaces in the general sense of the word, and I cannot understand how anybody connected with the preservation of open spaces should have taken the matter up. The hon. Member opposite says that some 85 artists live there, and that the whole 85 object to this scheme. Now, I should like to know how many of these artists paint pictures that are worth looking at. At the most not more than five of them, and they will go on painting even if there happens to be a railway near. In fact, the whole opposition to the Bill is absurd. I advocate the making of a terminus where it is most desirable in the interests of the community generally, despite the objection of people who live in detached villas—and a very remarkable people some of them are—and certain artists who have been alluded to by the hon. Member for Marylebone. I hope, under the circumstances, that the House will read the Bill a second time.
§ *(3.42.) BARON F. DE ROTHSCHILD (Bucks, Aylesbury)
As one of the Representatives of the County of Buckingham I support the Bill. Buckingham is a long and narrow county, with two large railways in connection with it; but neither of them connects the county 1213 either with the North or South of England. The passenger traffic is slow and inconvenient, with constant delays and stoppages, and the cost of goods traffic is exceptionally high. We have heard a good deal about the agricultural labourer, and only the other day we passed the Second Reading of a Bill to enable him to have small holdings; and I am convinced that no scheme could be of more advantage to the agricultural labourer in Bucks than to secure the advantage of direct railway communication. The population of the Metropolis is increasing enormously, and the more it increases the greater will be the demand for the agricultural produce of Buckinghamshire, and the greater will be the benefit conferred upon the people by the construction of a direct line of railway. Of course, when a new railway is proposed there is much opposition to it, but it seems to me that the House will consult the interests of the majority of the people by reading this Bill a second time and referring it to a Select Committee.
§ *(4.35.) MR. MURDOCH (Reading)
This is the first time I have heard the terms of the arrangement between the promoters and the committee of Lord's Cricket Ground, but I feel certain that any committee of which the right hon. Member for Bury is a member will have done its best in the interests of Lord's. It is very likely, however, that the committee may not have had their attention called to what may take place in the future. I cannot help feeling that in the immediate future it will be found necessary to widen the approaches of this railway, and that can only be done in the westward, where Lord's Cricket Ground is situated. If it is found absolutely necessary to have better approaches, I am afraid that Parliament would not stand in the way, but would, in the interests of the travelling public, grant the increased accommodation required. Almost every railway in London—the London and South Western, the London and North Western, the Great Northern, and the Midland—have been compelled to widen their approaches. Those who approach the Bill in the interest of Lord's contend that there is no necessity for the railway taking this route at all. If it left the Metropolitan and St. John's 1214 Wood Railway more to the northward it would run well to the westward of Lord's, and there would be no necessity hereafter for encroaching upon the ground at Lord's. It might be more costly for the promoters, but that, I think, is not the question which this House ought to entertain. For my own part, I do not think that the promoters would be damnified by postponing the Bill for 12 months and coming next year to Parliament with an amended Bill. I am afraid that the right hon. Member for Bury and the committee of Lord's have confided too-much in the promises of the Manchester, Sheffield, and Lincolnshire Railway Directors, and, for my own part, I think it is a case where the old adage holds true that "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. "It will be far better for the members of the Marylebone Cricket Club to preserve the ground they have than to trust to the promises of the projectors of this line, which may never be fulfilled.
§ (3.50.) MR. MUNDELLA (Sheffield, Brightside)
I hope the House will allow me to call attention to something more important than the interests of Lord's Cricket Ground, namely, the great industrial importance to the manufacturing districts and the working classes in the Midland Counties of a line of railway direct to London. When the Midland Railway proposed to come to London it was violently opposed by the Great Northern. It was urged that it would displace thousands of the working classes, and that there was no necessity for it at all. I should like to ask any Member of this House now what would be the condition of things in London if the Midland had not come here. All the great railway reforms which have taken place in London have been the result of the Midland coming here: we have secured more rapid and cheaper travelling, and the abolition of second-class carriages.
§ MR. MURDOCH
The Midland came into London through a very poor district, and it was of advantage to sweep the property away.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
Yes; and the Midland encountered the most violent opposition on that account. It is only fair to the Midland Railway to say that they have been the pioneers in every 1215 kind of railway reform. If it had been running, as the Manchester, Sheffield, and Lincolnshire Railway is, over other lines it could not have accomplished these reforms, and it is only because it has its own terminus that it has been able to do so. The proposition which the promoters of the Bill have made to the committee of Lord's Cricket Ground is a most handsome one, and I would point to the fact that no Member representing a district interested in the scheme has risen to oppose the Bill. The hon. Member for Chester, field (Mr. Barnes) spoke of the congestion of the coal traffic, and the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Baron F. de Rothschild) called attention to the disadvantages to which the rural districts of Buckinghamshire are subjected owing to the want of direct railway communication. My hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham (Mr. Broadhurst) has spoken of the importance of the line to Nottingham; and, as I know every inch of the ground the line is intended to traverse, I can truly assert that there could be no more important railway for the development of the mining and trading interests it is intended to serve. Since the Midland came into London the constituency I have the honour to represent has doubled, and the traffic of the district has increased by more than 12,000,000 tons within the last 20 years. In 1870 the whole amount of coal raised in South Yorkshire and Derbyshire was between 10,000,000 and 11,000,000 tons, and it is now 22,000,000 tons. Nevertheless, there are complaints that the traffic is congested, and that it is impossible to have it conveyed with facility and without delay. The projected line will traverse an entirely new district—a district not touched either by the Midland or the Great Northern, and it is as important for agriculture as it is for manufactures. South of Leicester it will touch places which have no railway near them and with a sparse population, simply because the only means of communication is by carriers' carts. I may add that I am authorised to accept the modified Instruction of my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre), and I hope the Instruction of the hon. Member for Gateshead will be withdrawn. I hope the hon. Member will withdraw his Amendment. ["No!"] Oh, then I must make some 1216 remarks on the case for St. John's Wood. Never was a weaker case presented to the House. It must be remembered that the leases of the 30 acres of ground which this company proposes to take willlapse within 15 years, and then, as has already happened in other instances, these open spaces will be covered with closely-built streets. I trust that the House, because of an imaginary danger, will not prevent the Bill going before a Committee. The Railway Companies, probably from some pique against the President of the Board of Trade in reference to railway rates, have withdrawn all their Bills; and this, involving an expenditure of some £5,000,000 or £6,000,000, is the only one remaining to be dealt with. I trust, therefore, we will not arrest important industrial enterprise simply because of such imaginary dangers as are brought forward.
§ MR. SEAGER HUNT (Marylebone, W.)
We have been told that we ought to support this Bill, because the hon. Baronet, who is the promoter, has selected the site for the terminus in St. John's Wood. Will the hon. Baronet say that he is prepared to drop the London portion of his Bill for this year? ["No!"] What, then, is the value of the assertion that he is prepared to adopt an alternative site?
§ *SIR E. WATKIN (Hythe)
I rise to Order. I am not the promoter of this Bill. I am merely one of 12 Directors representing 12,000 shareholders, who are the promoters.
§ MR. SEAGER HUNT
The hon. Baronet's position is quite important enough. If the London portion of the Bill were withdrawn, then the opposition, so faras St. John's Wood is concerned, would die away. The fact that certain residences would be spoiled, and that property would fall in value in consequence of this Bill, appeared to excite the derision of the hon. Member for Northampton. But the injury sustained by the owners of these properties is real; besides which, theerection of the terminus would adversely affect the squares and thoroughfares of Marylebone by drawing through them an immense amount of miscellaneous traffic. I sincerely trust that the Bill will not be read a second time.
§ (4.8.) MR. COURTNEY
If I am not mistaken, there is a feeling in the House that the Bill ought to go before a Committee; and I cannot help thinking that the questions which have been raised are questions which ought to be determined not by the House, but by the Committee, who would be able to compare the balance of gains and losses of the various districts outside the Metropolis and in London itself. I refer to the manufacturing towns of Manchester, "Sheffield, and Leicester, and the agricultural County of Buckingham. There is no opposition in the Metropolis to the measure except in the area affected by it. I do not scoff at the gentlemen who, living in St. John's Wood, oppose the Bill; and I have no doubt that if I resided there I would oppose it tooth and nail to get the terminus sent elsewhere. My right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford suggests that the great railway termini should be near together, and no doubt that is desirable; but the question whether this is a desirable arrangement, as proposed by the Bill, is one which should be decided by the Committee, and is surely not one which the House could determine. I hope the House will refrain from deciding questions which can only be properly investigated and determined by a Committee.
§ (4.12.) MR. PICTON (Leicester)
Had it not been that the Rules of the House prevented it, I would have presented to the House a Petition from Leicester, signed by the merchants and inhabitants of Leicester in favour of this Bill, on the ground that the line would give direct communication between London, Manchester, Nottingham, and Sheffield. The earnest desire of large trading populations ought to be taken into consideration, and certainly ought to weigh against the sentimental interests of the romantic neighbourhood of St. John's Wood.
§ (4.14.) MR. DE LISLE (Leicestershire, Mid.)
This line will run through about 15 miles of the Division which I represent, and a Petition has been presented to this House, signed by some 15,000 of the ratepayers and leaseholders. The Town Council of Loughborough have petitioned against the Bill, but, as far as I can ascertain, that is on a question of locus standi as regards the site of 1218 the local railway station. I can endorse what has been said as to the great advantages of this Bill to various industrial centres, and I hope my hon. Friends around me will not continue their opposition to the measure.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT (Derby)
I merely rise to ask whether the time has not come when the House should decide this question? I think the growing practice in this House of debating these Bills on the Second Reading is a very undesirable one. We have under the pressure of public business begun Morning Sittings to-day, and what has become of this Morning Sitting? It has been devoted to what I call the most trumpery opposition to a railway undertaking that I have ever heard in the House of Commons. It carries us back to a period 40 years ago, when I remember the Great Northern Bill was thrown out on the opposition of the Badsworth Hunt, merely because it would interfere with sport in their district. Are we really going back to those days? It would almost seem so when we find an hon. Member getting up and saying that in the future some interest in Lord's Cricket Ground may be injured which is not injured now. This is the opposition which is offered to a Bill for the promotion of a great industrial undertaking which is to benefit hundreds of thousands of our population. A more discreditable vote could never be given by the House of Commons than a vote which would throw out such a measure on such grounds as these. To give such a vote would show that the House of Commons, which professes to be the representative of the interests of the people, prefers the amusements of the few to the interests of the many. I am quite certain that the House of Commons will not give such a vote as that. I am glad to see the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade in his place. I am quite sure that he is not about to vote against a Bill which, whatever else it does, must be for the benefit of the trade of the country, and of the district it will traverse, and of the great Metropolis it will serve. That these interests should be deliberately sacrificed by the House of Commons to the very trumpery interests set up in opposition to the Bill is a thing which I 1219 do not think will happen even at the end of the 19th century.
§ (4.18.) MR. WIGGIN (Staffordshire, Handsworth)
It appears to me, from the speech just delivered by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) and the remarks made earlier in the day by the hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Barnes), that an erroneous impression has been conveyed to the mind of the House that the Midland Railway Company are unable to carry the traffic up to London. The fact is that during the late intensely cold weather there was a great scarcity of coal trucks, and it was on account of the want of such trucks that the hon. Member for Chesterfield could not get his coal brought up to London. I am satisfied, from my own knowledge, that the North Western, the Great Northern, the Midland, and the Great Eastern Railway Companies, which pass through densely-populated districts of the country, are quite able to bring all their traffic up to London, and a great deal more if they could get it.
§ *MR. SCHWANN (Manchester, N.)
I only rise to say that, in the opinion of the people of Manchester, which forms one of the termini of the proposed extension, this line ought to be made. We know that the line is one that would greatly lessen the cost of goods traffic from the great centres of northern industry to London, and we ought in these days of keen competition to welcome any investment that will promote improved facilities in the conduct of trade.
§ (4.22.) The House divided:—Ayes 212; Noes 103.—(Div. List, No. 89.)
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time.
§ Motion made, and Question "That the Bill be committed to a Select Committee of Seven Members, Four to be nominated by the House and Three by the Committee of Selection,"—(Mr. Boulnois,)—put, and negatived.
Ordered, "That it be an Instruction to the Committee that they have power to take evidence, and to Report to the House whether the site of the terminus proposed in the Bill is the best which can be devised in the interest of the people of London."—(Mr. Shaw Lefevre.)