§ SELECT COMMITTEE. ADJOURNED DEBATE.
Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [3rd March],
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.
That, subject to the Rules, Orders, and Proceedings of this House, all Petitions against the Bill presented on or before the 27th February last be referred to the Committee; that such of the Petitioners as pray to be heard by themselves, their Counsel, Agents, or Witnesses, be heard upon their Petitions if they think fit and Counsel heard in support of the Bill.
That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers, and records.
That Four be the quorum."—(Mr. Boulnois.)
§ Question again proposed.
§ Debate resumed.
§ (2.7.) MR. BOULNOIS (Marylebone, E.)
Lest it should be thought that I take too much upon myself in moving this Motion that the Bill be referred to a special Committee, let me say at once that I speak on behalf of a very large number of my constituents and also on behalf of the Local Authority, the Vestry of St. Marylebone, which is very seriously affected by the Bill. I may say also that I speak on behalf of the—shall I say the late or the new?—London County Council. It matters little which I call it. I can express the unanimous opinion of the Council. The Bill read a second time yesterday is probably the same Bill which was rejected by the Select Committee last year, but it has been brought in this time in a much more aggravated form, and it is likely to injure, if I may use the expression, a very much larger area than was contemplated last year. It affects 9 a larger amount of property, and, to an increased extent, affects the comfort of a large number of people in the district. It was proposed by the Bill of last Session that the station should occupy 30 or 35 acres at the most, but it is now proposed that the station for passengers' goods, coals, minerals, and animals, shall occupy some 75 acres. So far as I know, the controversy this year is narrowed to a fairly small point. Last year, we know, there was considerable opposition to the Bill from the North, but we now hear a great deal about that opposition having been abandoned; and it seems that really the matters that will go before any Committee the House may decide upon will be the approach to London and the terminus in London. Those whom I have the honour to represent in this matter urge nothing whatever against the new line to and from the North; that new line may be necessary so far as they know, but that is a matter I do not wish to bring before the attention of the House. But what we do ask is that such a gigantic scheme as this—I think I should be right in saying this unprecedented scheme—should receive the most serious attention of the House and the Committee appointed by the House, in order that the wishes of the whole of the Metropolis may be considered before a determination is arrived at. It may be said that what I ask could very well be secured in the ordinary Select Committee. But I have to reply in answer to that that a great number of persons who are most seriously affected by the Bill could not, so far as I know, be heard before a Select Committee. I hold in ray hand a Petition to the House, signed by owners, lessees, and occupiers of lands and house property in the parishes of St. Marylebone and St. John's Wood, to the number of 3,000, and, of course, many of these who have signed are not scheduled. Their property is not proposed to be taken, but it will be seriously affected, and I think it is desirable that these persons should have a locus standi before the Committee. There are strong reasons to be urged why these persons should have an opportunity of expressing their views. I must shortly refer to the Report of the Committee which 10 sat on the Bill last Session, and it will be in the recollection of the House that after the Bill had been read a second time, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) moved 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.That Instruction went before the Select Committee, and the Committee sat, I think, 31 days taking evidence. They prepared a special Report. It is not a very long Report, and I deem it my duty to read it that the House may appreciate the exact position. This is what the Committee say in their special Report—The Members of the Committee endeavoured in the course of their inquiry to carry out the intention of the Instruction, and various witnesses gave them considerable assistance in the attempt. But, in the absence of the definite plans which would be furnished by a rival scheme, they found it impossible to arrive at anything more than a prim â facie opinion in regard to the alternative sites suggested, or to come to any conclusion concerning them. Hence, while they were enabled to form an estimate of the merits and demerits of the proposal for a terminus on the site of Boscobel Gardens, they could not say whether such site was or was not the best that could be devised in the interest of the people of London. They would respectfully submit to the House that this conclusion was inevitable, and that experience may justify some hesitation in the adoption hereafter of Instructions unaccompanied by adequate means for their perfect fulfilment.("Hear, hear!") I am glad to hear that cheer. The House will see that here was an Instruction sent to the Select Committee without giving the Committee adequate means for the fulfilment of the Instruction; and so I say there is a special reason for the appointment of a special Committee for the purpose of considering this Bill, because I propose that this special Committee shall have power to send for witnesses and papers and take evidence such as an ordinary Select Committee cannot take. Then the special Report goes on—The evidence presented to the Committee has satisfied them that the introduction, by whatever route, of another line like that proposed by the Sheffield Company, must present serious, though probably not insurmountable difficulties; 11 while the access to any site that may ultimately be determined on, and the congestion of traffic upon the already over-crowded streets, must render urgent the construction of new and wider thoroughfares, especially between the Northern and Southern parts of London.Now that is the most important paragraph in the Report. For instance, we shall all feel how much benefit a new street would confer on Londoners which would go from the Northern terminus across Holborn and Southampton Row to Charing Cross. There would be a good opportunity for carrying out a scheme of the kind if the promoters had not been so pertinacious in adopting the same route this year. No doubt if a great scheme of that kind were produced the London County Council would be willing to meet the promoters in the carrying out of so desirable an object. The Report proceeds—In view of these considerations, and of the important railway projects for which Parliamentary sanction has been given, but the powers for which have not yet been exercised, and of the probability of further demands for railway access to London, the Committee submit that if, in the opinion of the House, it is desirable that Parliament should be more fully informed upon the important and complex questions involved in and incidental to the Instruction, the House may with advantage consider the expediency of instituting an exhaustive inquiry by a Joint Committee of the two Houses of Parliament, with the assistance of the Government Departments, and of the Local Authorities interested, into the general subject of railway access into London from the provinces, and the communication between the several Northern termini and the Metropolitan and Southern railways, as well as into the effect of the increasing passenger, goods, and mineral traffic upon the main thoroughfares by which the various stations are approached. Such a Joint Committee rendered important and somewhat analogous service in the Session of 1864, in continuation of the inquiry undertaken in the previous year by a Committee of the House of Lords, which Committee was instructed then, as it is suggested a Joint Committee might be in like manner instructed now, to consider what provision can be made for securing such a comprehensive system with the greatest advantage to the public, and the least inconvenience to the local arrangements of the Metropolis.Now, I ask, is that Report to be waste paper? ("Yes.") "Yes," says an hon. Member; but, seriously, I ask what is the good of setting a Committee to work and receiving its Report if it is to be put into a pigeon hole and never seen again? Is it to be absolutely disregarded, and is the hon. Baronet the Member for Hythe (Sir E. Watkin) 12 to be allowed to introduce again the same Bill which a year ago called forth this Report? On this Report of the Select Committee the London County Council considered the position, took into consideration the whole subject, especially with reference to the congested state of the streets and thoroughfares. Well, I think I may say that in this particular matter, which is within the province and jurisdiction of the London County Council—I know Members on this side of the House are sometimes inclined to cavil at what the London County Council does or does not do—in this matter, at least, the interests of the people of London are protected. I say this Report supports the proposition I now make. Such a Committee as I propose will have power to send for evidence, so that the utmost light may be thrown on the scheme proposed. In the paper circulated by the promoters they say this is an ordinary Railway Bill. I say it is not an ordinary Railway Bill; it is a very extraordinary Bill, and is, I say, absolutely without precedent. I suppose it is at least 30 years since a great trunk line came into the Metropolis—I think the Midland was the last. We all recollect that the great trunk lines—all, with one exception—came in upon ground which was practically unoccupied, and certainly did not touch valuable residential property. The Midland came through a slum, and the Charing Cross Railway took houses and streets that it was a good thing to get rid of. But this proposal will destroy very good residential property, and those who are opposed to this maintain that a very much better way of getting into London could be found. I did hope that the representation made by the London County Council to the Board of Trade that this matter should be considered by a Joint Committee of the Lords and Commons would have been entertained by the President of the Board of Trade, and that he would have been able to accede to the request, and I still hope that during this Debate we may have an expression of opinion as to this most serious subject from the right hon. Gentleman, for I believe that if ever there was a question in which the Department should take an interest it is this of a new 13 terminus for London. It is an opportunity that should not be lost. All I ask is that the House should declare that this question should be properly considered—and I say this without any disparagement to ordinary Committees—by a stronger tribunal. If the older railways had now to come into London they would not choose the sites where now they have their termini, and some of the companies would be the first to admit that the sites are extremely inconvenient. I say now, that it is proposed to bring a new trunk line into London, we may, unless we take great care, make a mistake it will not be very easy for us to recover from. It is because I wish to prevent such mistakes being renewed and perpetuated I ask the House to send the Bill for thorough examination to a special Committee.
§ MR. SEAGER HUNT (Marylebone, W.)
I rise to second the proposition of my hon. Friend, who has dealt with the subject so fully and exhaustively that I need say but a few words. As representing a constituency which will be materially affected, I am bound to say that the question of site for the station is one that should be more fully inquired into than it will be by a Select Committee. As a fact, I do not think that the question of site has been gone into at all, because, as we find from their Report, the Committee of last year found themselves powerless to come to any conclusion concerning alternative sites. Nearly 100 acres of land are required for station and goods yards, and when we consider that the formation of this terminus will require the demolition of over 1,000 houses in the neighbourhood, and the displacement of over 10,000 people; when we consider that this displacement will ruin hundreds of trades people; when we consider that by bringing this big station so much to the front the value of surrounding property will be materially deteriorated and its value as first-class property destroyed, when we consider that the selection of site last year was deemed to be a matter of the utmost importance, then I say that importance is increased now by the fact that an enlarged area is required, and the incomplete inquiry of last year should be resumed before a tribunal 14 able to give a final opinion on the subject, and as the suggestion for a Joint Committee of both Houses has not been adopted, the next best means of examination is by a Hybrid Committee.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
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.
That, subject to the Rules, Orders, and Proceedings of this House, all Petitions against the Bill presented on or before the 27th February last be referred to the Committee; that such of the Petitioners as pray to be heard by themselves, their Counsel, Agents, or Witnesses, be heard upon their Petitions if they think fit, and Counsel heard in support of the Bill.
That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers, and records.
That Four be the quorum."—(Mr. Boulnois.)
§ (2.30.) MR. HENEAGE (Great Grimsby)
The question now before us is a very narrow one; it is whether the Bill shall be sent in the ordinary course to the trusted Committee of the House, or whether it should be sent, on an unprecedented Motion, to a Hybrid Committee under the same conditions as to an ordinary Committee. I would venture to point out that this Motion has been somewhat altered since it was first put upon the Paper. As it was first put upon the Paper it would have taken in a vast amount of evidence, which may have been rejected by the Referees. As it is now drawn it runs—That subject to the Rules, Orders, and Proceedings of this House, all Petitions against the Bill presented on or before the 27th February last be referred to the Committee.I hope the House will not accede to the proposal of the hon. Member for Marylebone (Mr. Boulnois), because I think to do so would be to cast an unjust slur on the traditional Committee of the House. I assert that there no cause has been shown by either of the hon. Members why we should practically pass a vote of want of confidence in a Committee which has hitherto enjoyed the confidence of the House. The Bill is a perfectly ordinary Railway Bill, and the only difference between it and any other Railway Bill is its magnitude and the vast interests behind it. This Bill is practically unopposed from one end of the line to the other till it 15 reaches London. It has the unanimous support of every town in its course, and no Corporation appears against it; it has also the support of all the districts through which it passes. The fact that the Bill affects interests from Manchester on the west to Grimsby on the east gives all the more reason why it should be disposed of as soon as possible, and why the promoters should not be put to the enormous cost of last year by an Instruction to the Committee, which the hon. Member for Hythe accepted in order to save the time of the House, perhaps without due appreciation of the effect it would have on the Bill in Committee. Last year the Bill was opposed by the Great Northern Railway, but now it not only has the benevolent support of the Great Northern Railway, but it has the great advantage that the two companies have entered into arrangements for the interchange of traffic at through rates, which will be of the greatest possible benefit to all the towns and districts through which either railway passes. It is no part of my duty, as speaking for those interested in the promotion of the Bill, to say one word as to the reasons for the rejection of the Bill last year. That will, no doubt, be dealt with by the Chairman of the Committee to which it was referred, but I have never found any fault with the decision of that Committee. I think they were given an impossible task, as it was perfectly impossible for them to fulfil the requirements which the Instruction imposed on them. I think that is shown by the fact that the Special Report indicates that it was rejected on account of that Instruction; there is nothing in the Report to show that it was rejected on its merits. That Report has no bearing whatever on the question now before us. Hon. Members, though they appear to have no confidence in a Private Bill Committee of this House, have immense confidence in the opinion of one half of it. The third paragraph to which they have alluded is the one on which the Committee were equally divided. That paragraph did not suggest that one single railway should bear the cost of inquiry into the want of further access into London, and the communication between the Northern 16 and Southern railways, but that the Government should take up the inquiry, at the public expense, into the whole question of access to London and the communication between the Northern and Southern railways, and if that recommendation had been carried out there might have been some reason for saying that this Bill should be suspended until that Committee had reported. But as the Government have not adopted the recommendation it would be exceedingly unjust to put the whole expense of the inquiry on to the promoters of this Bill, which is exactly what this Resolution would do. I should be very glad to hear what the Members of that Committee have to say on this subject, but I feel certain that they never intended that the cost of the suggested inquiry should be thrown on one railway. The hon. Member for Marylebone (Mr. Boulnois) referred to the last railway that obtained access to London. That was the Midland Railway, in, I think, 1864. The hon. Member said that did not disturb many residential houses.
§ MR. HENEAGE
The houses are of a somewhat varied class, especially in St. John's Wood; whilst the Midland Railway went through, I believe, a churchyard, which perhaps the hon. Member will admit is a highly respectable residential property. The real question before us is, what is to be gained by sending this Bill to a Hybrid Committee? There is nothing to be gained, because the Bill is to be sent under the same conditions as to an ordinary Committee; but there is a great deal to lose. Members of a Private Bill Committee are obliged by the Standing Orders to attend continuously, and hear not only the evidence, but the cross-examination, which is often much the most important, but in a Hybrid Committee there is no continuous attendance. There are seven Members of whom any four may form a quorum, and you may have a different four at every sitting, and some of them may never attend at all until they come to consider the Report, and then their votes are of equal value to those of the Members who attended all 17 through. This Committee would be no better fitted to deal with the Bill than the Committee of which my hon. Friend the Member for Hanley (Mr. Woodall) was Chairman last year. That Committee had power to ask for papers, and I venture to say that all the papers were then produced. I would ask the House not to accede to the proposal made by the hon. Member for Marylebone (Mr. Boulnois). I would ask the House to reject this proposal, and to send the Bill in the ordinary course before the regular Railway Bill Committee. It will there have fair and thorough inquiry, and all those who have locus standi will be heard, and I hope the House will not allow the Bill to be frustrated by this dilatory and unprecedented Motion.
§ (2.43.) THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. STUART-WORTLEY,) Sheffield, Hallam
This Bill is not solely a Metropolitan question. Great Corporations and large populations are waiting anxiously for the decision of the House on the matter. I may be told that the question of the support of these bodies is more for the Committee upstairs than for the House, and for the stage of Second Reading. But I venture to point out to the House, in the interests of the progress of its own Business, that that objection applies even more strongly to Motions of a really dilatory kind such as this, proceeding from quarters representing those who, in fact, have locus standi on the Bill. I entreat the House, therefore, to refuse to entertain at this stage objections of this kind, and to say that it should have been taken at an earlier stage, and should not now be raised on the part of those who are given the fullest opportunity of being heard under the ordinary proceedings of the Committee.
§ (2.45.) MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)
I think my right hon. Friend the Member for Grimsby (Mr. Heneage) is under the impression that by referring this matter to a Hybrid Committee we should be casting a slur on the ordinary Committees of this House. But the House has been in the habit of referring Bills to Hybrid Committees, and I have known Railway Bills to be so referred over and over 18 again, and no one has ever suggested that a slur was cast on the ordinary Committee. This is a question of great magnitude and vast importance; surely, therefore, it is not unreasonable to ask that it may be referred to a Committee of somewhat more than ordinary importance, which shall be able to take a wider view of the matter than usual. My right hon. Friend referred to the great expense the company was put to by the Instruction of last year, and suggested that all the cost was due to that cause. I think he was entirely mistaken. The Bill was then opposed by other railways, and especially by the Great Northern Railway, and at least nine-tenths of the time and cost of the inquiry were incurred totally independently of the London question now before the House. The hon. Gentleman opposite said that this was not merely a Metropolitan question. I have always said I am not opposed to this railway on principle—I think it most desirable, in the interests of the North of England and the Midland Counties, that the line should be brought into London—but what I say is that access to London is a Metropolitan question, on which it is desirable that London should be considered. I have never gone a step further, and have always said that if the Committee should conclude that the interests of other towns should be considered in preference to London, I should be content with their decision. I ask that in the consideration of this question we should not lose sight of the interests of London, and that opportunity should be given for the consideration of proposals alternative to the one now before the House. It cannot be denied that London opinion, as a whole, is opposed to the present proposal. The London County Council are averse to it, and a committee of that Council petitioned in the strongest form against the site. The matter was referred to a Select Committee with the Instruction I ventured to propose, on the ground that a Select Committee was not ordinarily able to consider the question of sites. The House and the promoters of the Bill accepted that Instruction, and it went without dissent from any quarter of the House. The 19 Committee appear to have gone as fully as they could into the matter, and in their Report to the House admitted that they were under great difficulties in going fully into it in consequence of their want of authority and full power of inquiry. In a special Report they treated the matter as one of serious importance to London, and deserving of further inquiry. They recommended that the whole question of access to London from fresh railways should be considered by a Joint Committee of both Houses, with a view to the general interest of the question. I think it would have been well if that course had been adopted. It rests, however, with the Government to make a Motion to that effect—a private Member cannot. Under the circumstances, the hon. Member has, on the whole, adopted the best course that he could adopt in making his Motion. I refrained from moving the same Resolution as last year, as it seemed to me that the House would hardly adopt that course. The hon. Member's Motion is now confined to the proposal that the Bill should go to a Hybrid Committee, and I cannot but conceive that, on the whole, that is the best course to take. I should be satisfied with that course, especially if it came before the Members of the Committee of last year. In face of the very strong Report presented by the Committee last year is it sufficient to allow this Bill to go in the ordinary way to a Select Committee? That Report pointed distinctly to wider inquiry owing to the importance of the question of the access of railways to London, and I think it would only be in accord with the recommendation of that Committee if this Bill were now referred to a Hybrid Committee.
§ (2.50.) SIR R. H. PAGET (Somerset, Wells)
I hope the House will decline to entertain this proposal. This is an important question of procedure; and if I ask under what Standing Order this procedure takes place, I am told there is no Standing Order at all. It is a habit growing up in the House which ought not to be given frequent effect to. This House has by Standing Order made provision, by the appointment of Select Committees and other methods, for dealing with such matters as Railway Bills, 20 and I venture to say the decisions of these tribunals are accepted by the House as, on the whole, satisfactory. This Motion seeks to put aside the ordinary procedure of the House, as provided in the Standing Orders, and to introduce something of a novel character. These Hybrid Committees are of recent creation. I venture to say, Sir, that it will be within your recollection—certainly within mine—that the first proposal for such a Committee was in 1863, when the result of the Division was unfavourable to the proposal. I would point out that there are this Session three Bills referred to Hybrid Committees, and there is a question of referring a fourth. All this is setting aside the ordinary procedure under the Standing Orders, and giving them the go-by as insufficient for the purpose. It has been pointed out that a Hybrid Committee labours under difficulties; its quorum is to be four out of seven Members. No one could say that an inquiry by such a tribunal would be so efficient as where all the Members of the Committee are bound to be present day by day. The hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) has alluded to his Instruction. I venture to say that a more unfortunate Instruction was never given to a Committee, and the misfortune of it is evident from the Report of the Committee which dealt with the Bill. What they say to the House of Commons is practically this—"You have given us instructions which we cannot carry out. You invite us to undertake an impossible task; you invite us to make a selection of various spots for a site when there are no alternatives." An alternative site is talked of; where is it? There is no such thing. It is impossible for any Committee to address itself to the consideration of a question so vague and uncertain as that in the Instruction of last year. The hon. Member for Marylebone (Mr. Boulnois) says that he does not intend to proceed with his Motion for the Instruction. That is not of so much importance as this Motion, which demands the extraordinary appointment of a tribunal other than the usual one. If there were reason for saying that the ordinary tribunal was insufficient and had not 21 powers, and was hampered by limitations, so that they would not have a fair field and opportunity, and that something should be done to enlarge their powers, that might be a matter worthy of consideration; but by this method you set up a novel tribunal which, from the rules that govern their proceedings and attendance, must have inferior opportunities of arriving at a conclusion. I believe it to be entirely without precedent to refer a single Railway Bill to a Committee of this kind, and for these reasons I think the proposal ought not to be acceded to. A Hybrid Committee with powers limited by Instructions as here professed is another departure from the mischievous principle of Hybrid Committees generally.
§ (2.55.) MR. WOODALL (Hanley)
I listened with great interest to the very lucid argument of the hon. Member for Marylebone (Mr. Boulnois), as I was anxious to ascertain what recommendations on the reference of this Bill to a Hybrid Committee he would suggest other than those which we had last year acting under the instructions of the House. It appears to me that the hon. Member invites the House to repeat the experiment of last year, and my experience of that Committee Room does not lead me to encourage the House to repeat that experiment. Perhaps the House would like to hear from me, as Chairman of that Committee, one or two words on the points in connection with the Bill. The House was invited, on the proposal of the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre), in recognition of certain exceptional characteristics of the Bill—its interest to an important residential suburb; the fact that the population would be disturbed; and that gardens and open spaces would be occupied—to say that it was desirable that the Committee should have the opportunity and authority to endeavour to ascertain whether a better site could be obtained in the interests of London. Well, Sir, the House is aware that under the ordinary Standing Orders, Committees are precluded from hearing alternative plans; and yet I suppose whenever a Committee has before it a case which establishes 22 a great public need, the Committee will always desire to know whether the manner in which that need is proposed to be satisfied is the best, and offers the minimum of disturbance in the attainment of that end. We, on the other hand, were enabled to overrule the ordinary procedure of Committees and were actually instructed, if possible, to find an alternative plan for entering London, and I can only say all the Members on the Committee endeavoured to carry out that Instruction, and we acknowledge in the Report that we received considerable assistance in that task. We were invited to consider one particular alternative terminus. We found, for example, that while the Baker Street site excited almost universal antagonism on the part of owners and occupiers, not only on the ground proposed to be taken, but over a widely extended area, and was fiercely opposed by the Vestry and the County Council, there was another site very strongly recommended to us by the St. Pancras Vestry and supported by the London County Council. Under your special instructions the Committee were enabled to hear evidence, and all that could be said, in favour of that site; but the House will see that we could get no further than a prima facie case, because we were unable to hear what were the engineering difficulties of access, and what would be the opinion of a very numerous class of owners and of occupying tenants, who would be displaced in getting that access. The Report of the Committee, therefore, offers a word of warning to the House with regard to instructions of that kind. We have stated that we were able only to form a definite opinion upon the merits of the particular plan proposed by the promoters; but we said at the same time that, inasmuch as we had no sufficient evidence, we were unable to say whether the Boscobel Garden site was the best that could be devised in the interests of the people of London. I will ask the attention of the House to a passage in our Report, which I believe was adopted unanimously. We say—This conclusion was unavoidable. Out experience may justify some hesitation in the adoption hereafter of instructions unaccompanied by any adequate means for their proper fulfilment.23 The House may ask what are the adequate means that it is proposed to give by the Committee which is now proposed? The hon. Member suggests that a Hybrid Committee would have power to send for persons and papers. But an ordinary Committee has power, if it requires, or desires, to hear evidence, even unwilling evidence, by applying to you for the necessary authority, and that power is usually granted; but certainly in our experience it did not occur to us that there was any evidence which might have helped the Committee of last year in forming a judgment, and which was denied to us by the operations of the ordinary Rule. Therefore I do not see why an ordinary Committee is not competent to deal with the matter. The late Committee heard much of the desirability of affording opportunities of access to London from all sides, and specially of the advisability of establishing better modes of communication between the Northern and Southern lines; and the Committee reported that if Parliament were disposed to deal with so large a question it should be undertaken as a public duty at the public cost, and that I should not be again imposed upon the promoters of any single scheme. I have no doubt at all that it was very hard last year upon the promoters that they should be put to such expense while these wide inquiries were being made at their cost, and I do not hesitate to say that, in my opinion, it would be unfair to put them to the same expense again. I confine my observations to the London terminus; and since the suggestions were not carried out at the time, the House will not expect to see how far our opinions were influenced by those instructions. I am rejoiced, however, to hear that some parts which were contentious in the Bill of last year have been modified, and that others have totally disappeared; and I venture to say that the labours of the Committee of last year will not be altogether thrown away. With the modification that it might be an Instruction to the new Committee to take into consideration the evidence of the old one, I think that the ordinary Committee would be a sufficient tribunal for doing justice to all the interests concerned.
§ (3.10.) MR. WOOTTON ISAACSON (Tower Hamlets, Stepney)
I can speak on behalf of the artizan classes in the East End of London which I represent, and I certainly can say that they are distinctly in favour of seeing this railway coming to London. We all know perfectly well that in the construction of any such railway as this a very large amount of work would have to be done; that a very large amount of accumulated wealth will have to be expended, and that in the carrying out of these necessary works the artizan classes in the East End of London, who are at present only partially employed, will share in the benefits. I therefore deprecate in the strongest fashion any obstructive Motion of this kind as to the appointment of a Hybrid Committee. We have been told by my hon. Friend the Member for Marylebone that St. John's Wood is of a unique character. Well, possibly it is; but I differ from him, for this reason: that St. John's Wood does not constitute the whole of London.
§ MR. WOOTTON ISAACSON
I will read the hon. Member's words. He spoke of "the unique character of the locality," and I say that St. John's Wood is not the whole of London. I have listened to the arguments of the hon. Member for Marylebone, an din his entire speech he has not shown a single shred of argument against the Bill worthy of being nailed to the mast. I am certain that if this Bill is passed we shall have a railway that would give greater convenience to the public desiring access to London; and as to the inconvenience that is foreshadowed by the railway, I would ask my hon. Friends whether they really believe in their hearts that it will be an inconvenience? Why, the inconvenience would be perfectly infinitesimal. Who are they that would be inconvenienced? I am sure if they were not resident in Marylebone those who now object to the railway on the ground of inconvenience would vote for the railway, and possibly we might find in them its strongest supporters. We have been also told that any railway coming into London will interfere very seriously with residential property. 25 Now, I can remember a good many railways and when they were constructed, and I think that they much improved the localities through which they passed, sweeping away unsavoury slums, and in many other ways effecting good. You cannot say that the Midland, or the London and North-Western, or the Great Western did any harm in this respect, but rather that they have increased the value of property in many respects, and considerably so in many quarters close to the stations. This I think is the most futile argument that could be used as against this railway. But we have been told that the promoters have altered their plans, and that, therefore, the introduction of the railway would destroy open spaces, inasmuch as they propose to take, instead of 30 acres, 75 acres for their terminus. If we were told that they would take 100 acres, or 150 acres, I should be all the more pleased, as I believe it would be ultimately only for the general interest, so that argument against the Bill founded upon interference with open spaces cannot be admitted. I hope the House will not vote for this Hybrid Committee. It is only brought forward for the purpose of burking the Bill, and I am satisfied that if this Bill goes to an ordinary Committee, and that it is there passed and recommended to the House, you will be doing a great benefit to the East End of London, the dense population of which is now so largely deprived of employment, and who are all only too anxiously awaiting the passing of the measure.
(3.15.) EARL COMPTON (York, W.R., Barnsley)
I wish to offer a word of explanation with regard to what is called the obstructive policy of those who are anxious to send this Bill to a Hybrid Committee. So far as I am concerned—and I think I can answer for others—we are not opposed in any way whatever to this measure; on the contrary, we are extremely anxious that there should be another line brought into London from the North. As for myself personally, I can approach the consideration of this question from opposite ends of the line. As a Representative of a Yorkshire constituency, I must say I am as much concerned as those who 26 have spoken against a Hybrid Committee. With regard to this end of the line, and the interests of those affected by it, I approach the measure as a member of your almost defunct County Council. Now I should like to explain to the House the view of the London County Council in this matter. They also wish for another railway to be brought into London, as they are extremely anxious to see a healthy competition between railway companies; and they are well aware that it is for the interests of London that we should have a distinct line to the manufacturing and agricultural districts in Yorkshire, instead of having, as at present, the traffic going into the hands of several companies. But, at the same time, the London County Council were bound to look into the matter with the greater care when they found that the actual proposed plan laid before the County Council by the promoters was not one which could be accepted by anybody who looked at the affair from a London point of view. It was not a question as to whether the terminus was in exactly the right place or not. It is known that any railway terminus must cause some inconvenience to someone, and in all probability to many. But the point was whether the actual plan was a good one. We have been told that an ordinary Committee can decide this matter as well as, if not better than, a Hybrid Committee. I believe that that is the view of the majority of the House. Well, I am agreed now to vote against the proposal of a Hybrid Committee if I am given clearly to understand one point, and one point only—Has the ordinary Committee the same powers, and as much power to have witnesses before it; has it as much authority to inquire into the matter, to take a wider view of the subject, or has it a narrower power than a Hybrid Committee? That is an easy question to answer. If they would have the same powers as a Hybrid Committee, I, for one, would vote against the Hybrid Committee. But I have been given to understand by all to whom I have spoken that the Hybrid Committee would undoubtedly have a wider scope for action or for inquiry, and also that it would have fuller authority, so that it would therefore be able, in my opinion, to come to 27 a wiser decision. I believe the Committee last year was restrained in certain directions from making inquiries which were thought necessary. I understand from observations that have been made that they had not had before them evidence, or that they had not had before them proper evidence as regards engineering—
§ MR. WOODALL
What I say is that it was perfectly impossible to hear objections from the London County Council and others until they had gone through the ordinary course, and had evidence of engineers, so as to challenge objections of those who might be concerned in carrying the matter out.
I understood the speech of the hon. Member was against the Instruction, and not against the Hybrid Committee. The whole question is as to whether an ordinary Committee has full power to inquire into a question of such great magnitude, and I believe the County Council would have come to the same decision as I have if they were assured positively that the ordinary Committee would have the same authority as the Hybrid Committee. We have been told that a Hybrid Committee would last longer, and that this is a dilatory Motion. But why would it last longer? Because it would take more evidence, and because there would be a deeper and more thoroughly searching inquiry into this matter. So that, at least, injury would not be done to the ratepayers of London, who are anxious to have this line as speedily as possible. Until I get an assurance that an ordinary Committee will have as great powers as a Hybrid Committee, I shall vote for the Motion of the hon. Member for Marylebone.
§ (3.25.) MR. MUNDELLA (Sheffield, Brightside)
There are few hon. Members who have given to this matter more serious attention than myself, and few who can speak with greater confidence upon it, having spent many years of my life in Leicester, having for so long represented Sheffield in this House, having been approached by various important bodies upon the subject and knowing as I do every inch of the ground which the proposed line will traverse. The whole people of the district are most 28 anxious for the passing of the Bill, and I can assure this House that it would be very difficult indeed to describe the surprise and pain which was felt by the working classes last year when this Bill was rejected. There are hon. Members sitting upon the Government Benches and hon. Members upon both sides of the House who, when they went to their constituents after the Bill was rejected, had to use the language of apology and of regret, and to express a hope that the promoters would introduce the Bill this year, as they were full sure that the House would pass it. What has been the result? Nearly all the Local Authorities from one end of the line to the other have petitioned in favour of this Bill. I have myself presented Petitions from important bodies in the district I represent in favour of the measure, the latest being only last week—from the Cutlers' Company. Furthermore, I spent my holidays in Nottingham, and there the Town Clerk and some members of the Corporation waited upon me in reference to the Bill, asking me to give it all the assistance in my power. Knowing as I do how valuable this line is for the great industrial population that it would accommodate, I do hope that it will not be rejected a second time by this House, in the interest of, and out of regard for high-class residential property, and that this House will not a second time impose conditions upon the Committee that will but delay the consideration of such an important question; will extend the scope of the inquiry, and so over-lay the evidence that the Bill will again, by dilatory tactics, be got rid of. What was the effect of the Instruction of last year? I believe that the highest authorities in this House are of opinion that a more ridiculous Instruction was never given to a Committee. To the Committee itself it was a most embarrassing Instruction, and the result was that they had had to receive an enormous amount of evidence which interfered with the consideration of the whole question, and cost the promoters of the Bill about £20,000. Surely, if there is to be any question of inquiry as to what is to be done in the future with tramways and with railways coming to London, such 29 a matter ought not to stand upon a single Bill; it ought not to be fought out by one company such as the Manchester, Sheffield, and Lincolnshire Company; they ought not to be asked to meet all the objections to be brought forward upon such a question; it ought to be done by the Board of Works or by the Board of Trade promoting a public inquiry, and I think the Board of Trade is far too wise to undertake such a business. Why, I ask, should not this Bill go direct to an ordinary Committee? It would be a slur upon a Committee of this House to say that they could not consider a question such as this, and that the Bill could not be sent to one of those Committees. I know of no instance, except one, where, in a railway scheme the question of the parks came in, and a Bill was referred not to an ordinary but to a Hybrid Committee; but I never have known an instance where an ordinary proposal like this was sent to anything but an ordinary Committee. I ask the House to do all it can for our domestic industries, and I can only say that it is worth the serious consideration of the House from this point of view. We are getting on to a period, as every man must be aware, of considerable depression, and it is of the utmost importance that we should do all we can for the industries of the country. Here is a great undertaking, an undertaking desired by a great industrial population, upon whom it will confer enormous advantages, which will bring the resources of Yorkshire in direct communication with London, and in Nottingham will open up a district which has no direct communication with us; which will be of great service to the industrial districts through which the line will pass, besides being of immense advantage to a large and wide agricultural country. It will come, very unfortunately, in a time of great depression. I know this is not an argument to be considered by itself, as the Bill should, of course, be considered upon its merits; but when £3,000,000 is to be spent upon labour, why, I ask, will this House always throw obstacles of this kind in the way, when, instead of doing so, they should encourage it? and I trust that in this 30 instance they will not interfere with the usual customs of the House.
§ (3.30.) MR. AINSLIE (Lancashire, N. Lonsdale)
I think that many of the matters referred to in this discussion are matters which would be much better left to a Second Reading Debate. The question of how far the Committee of last year was influenced by the Instruction of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford is one which, I think, has been amply answered by the Report of the Committee itself. They found it so impracticable, so expensive, and so bewildering that they had the utmost difficulty in coming to a decision upon the main points I hope that the four or six hon. Members who may form the Select Committee will be found quite as capable of coming to a decision on this Bill as the Committee of last year, and able to come to a more favour, able decision than we were. I think there should be no difficulty thrown in the way of that Committee by any action of this House, which action, in my opinion, is only a side-wind, and not a direct negative to the question. The difficulty that appears to me to be put before the House is whether the Manchester, Sheffield, and Lincolnshire Railway should have the burden of the general inquiry thrown upon their shoulders or not. We must remember that precedents are very easily made. This House will be making one, and it cannot afterwards be very easily set aside; and how will any Railway Company in days to come apply for powers to construct a railway or any other industrial undertaking if by any chance a similar costly experiment, such as this, may be thrown upon their shoulders? I hope the House will give no assent to this proposal. The whole question with respect to sites was discussed and fought out in the Committee last year. If any other site had been suggested it might have diverted that railway from the course which it was taking. Then we should still less have been able to say that that was the best site in London. We had no alternative before us but what was brought by the kind intervention of gentlemen interested in seeing a railway brought to London; and I think the Committee recognised 31 that liberality on their part. And no alternative was suggested that in any way diverted the main course of the railway. If the House sends the Bill upstairs it should take care to send it to a Select, and not to a Hybrid, Committee.
§ (3.35.) THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (Mr. COURTNEY,) Cornwall, Bodmin
I shall not trespass on the time of the House for more than a few minutes. I assure the House that I have not that facility in coming to a conclusion which seems to be enjoyed by most of the Gentlemen who have participated in the Debate. Most of these hon. Members have no difficulty whatever in seeing their way as to what should be done. I confess I cannot regard this as a question in which no doubt exists, because the question between the promoters and the persons affected by the course of the line—the question, I may say, between the parties—raises questions of great Metropolitan interest; and the London County Council, as representing the general interests of the Metropolis, as distinguished from the particular interest, from the interests of persons who may be immediately affected by the construction of the line, has strongly recommended a particular course to be taken with respect to this Bill. We treat this body of the County Council in a very bad way. We beat them or praise them according as they do or do not do what we like them to do. In such matters as relate to proposed railway extension, the opinion of the County Council ought to have great weight with us; and if they say the Bill should not be sent before an ordinary Committee, and press for a reference to a Committee with larger powers, a great deal of attention ought to be paid to their representation. Well, but the question does not end there. This Bill was referred to an ordinary Committee last year; but it was referred to an ordinary Committee plus an Instruction—an Instruction which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sheffield has characterised as ridiculous, and which was agreed to with unanimity by the House. I felt at the time the difficulty of that Instruction, and I hope its subsequent history will operate as a warning 32 to prevent Members from giving Instructions to Committees which they are incapable of giving proper effect to. The Committee spent a great deal of time over the general merits of the Bill and a great deal of time over the Instruction also; and they made a special Report that they were incapable of doing the business that we entrusted to them—that if it was to be done at all, it must be done independently of every one of the particular powers put forward. I think the Report, even if it was not corroborated by the action of the Chairman of the Committee, and the hon. Member opposite, and other hon. Members who have spoken in this Debate with respect to this Report and the opinion of all the four Members of Committee—I think the Report is conclusive as to the impolicy of recommending this Bill to be sent to a Hybrid Committee, because, though a Hybrid Committee might have larger powers than an ordinary Committee, it would not have larger powers than an ordinary Committee has plus that Instruction—it would not have larger powers than the Committee which was intrusted with the examination of the same question; and then the question which would simply arise is this—Will we get this question better examined into by four Members, each of whom recognises a constant responsibility for his action, or by seven Members, some of whom may attend and some of whom may stay away? On the whole, if it has not got that examination at the hands of the Committee which the House last year recommended as the only way for considering this question, I think we had better follow the ordinary course and refer it to an ordinary Committee instead of referring it to a Hybrid Committee. I think that something might be said in favour of referring it to a Joint Committee of both Houses, because there are matters involved in this question which ought not to be examined into at the sole expense of one projected company. The question will have to be examined on other occasions in a Grand Committee. It is admittedly a question of considerable difficulty to decide. It is not now the question before us; but, in regard to the question before us, I cannot help thinking, though I do so 33 with some hesitation and reluctance, that we shall do wisely in referring this matter to an ordinary instead of to a Hybrid Committee.
§ (3.40.) MR. T. H. BOLTON (St. Pancras, N.)
I quite recognise the right of great towns like Nottingham and Sheffield to be heard upon a question of this character. At the same time, I think some of us who represent North and North-Western districts of this Metropolis, through whose districts this railway will come, have also a right to be heard in this discussion. I quite agree with what the noble Lord the Member for Barnsley said, that there is no disposition factiously to stand in the way of bringing this new railway to London; but those living in the districts through which the railway is to come, and the people in London generally, desire that such conditions may be imposed on the Railway Company as they think necessary in their interests and in the interests of the Metropolis at large. We feel that the question has got into somewhat an unfortunate position at the present time. It was hoped last Session that the Instruction moved would have enabled the Committee to consider the questions which we think should be considered in connection with this Bill. First, as to the displacement of population and the compensation to be given by the Railway Company for the advantages acquired; secondly, the question of an alternative site for the station; and, thirdly, the larger question as to the general accommodation of London with reference to the making of this line. But we find that under the Instruction these matters were not considered. How it was that the Committee of last Session came to the conclusion they did, and found that the Preamble of the Bill was not proved, having regard to what the Chairman of the Committee and other Members say here to-day, I cannot understand. They were wrong in their decision then, or they have altered their minds. What I venture to suggest to the House is that the questions which the County Council have formulated are very large and important questions for the working-class population of London. In connection with the making of this railway many of us 34 think that Parliament ought to impose conditions for the better accommodation of the working classes and the people of London. We think that when powers are given to Railway Companies to take miles of streets and large areas of populated land there should be special conditions imposed to give special accommodation and special facilities to the public in return for the great advantages conceded. I rise for the purpose of supporting the proposition made by my hon. Friend the Member for Marylebone, and I cordially agree with what the noble Lord said in support of the proposal. I do not oppose the line of railway coming to London, but I hope the House will decide that the Bill shall go to a strong Committee of experienced Members, and I believe that the public will have more confidence in such a Committee than in an ordinary Committee. (Cries of "Divide!")
§ (3.44.) MR. BOULNOIS
I feel it would not be right for me to go against the authorities of the House in this matter, and therefore I shall, with your permission, Sir, withdraw my Motion.
§ (3.45.) MR. PAULTON (Durham, Bishop Auckland)
I only desire to say one word. There appears to be a general impression that the Bill was rejected by the Committee last year merely and entirely on account of the Instruction. I think my Colleagues in the Committee last year will agree with me in assuring the House that this falls far short of what took place. The Bill was thrown out entirely on its merits.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Bill committed.