§ Bill, as amended, considered.
§ Motion made, and question proposed, "That the Bill be now taken into consideration."
§ MR. BRODRICK (Surrey, Guildford)
moved, in clause 8, page 5, line 25, after "square" to add—And round the whole of Bryanston Square from its junction with Great Cumberland place to its junction with Wyndham Place.I will explain briefly the object of this Amendment. This Bill, which has passed its Second Reading, provides for the taking away of the gates and bars from the squares and streets all over the Metropolis. I would not be in Order in re-discussing that question now; but, at the same time, I wish to say it must he obvious that where gates and bars are removed in cases where householders have paid very large sums for the privilege of living in squares and streets on account of their freedom from traffic, their interests are enormously damaged by the Bill. In this particular case, the leaseholders of Bryanston Square had paid large sums for their leases—having gates at the North and South ends of the square—a section of winch was, that no traffic whatever passed their doors. This Bill was brought forward, and in pursuance of the Standing Orders, notice was only given to those whose property was proposed to be taken away by the Bill. The consequence of that was that persons whose property was largely affected were not noticed at all. I think the County Council would have been better advised had they given the residents of Bryanston Square and Lord Portman, the landlord, notice of this Bill. Those people, who were largely affected by the Bill, never heard of the Bill until it had actually been before the Committee for two days, consequently 182 they were not represented by counsel before the Committee, and their interest was not considered by the Committee. Hon. Members are aware that a Bill is pending for establishing a large railway station in that quarter of London, and when that station is established, Bryanston Square, which has been hitherto a cul-de-sac, will become a great thoroughfare to the station, and will bear the same relation to Edgware Road as the Embankment does to the Strand. If this Amendment is adopted a noiseless pavement will be laid down in the square, and if that is done a great deal of the inconvenience which the inhabitants will otherwise suffer will be avoided.
In page 5, line 25, after the word "square," to insert the words "and around the whole of Bryanston Square from its junction with Great Cumberland Place to its junction with Wyndham Place."—(Mr. Brodrick.)
§ Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and negatived.
§ Amendments made.
§ Bill to be read the third time.
§ *MR. CRAWFORD (Lanark, N.E.)
In the absence of the Chairman of the Committee, I wish to say a few words on this Amendment. I am surprised that the hon. Member has thought proper to take the unusual course of occupying the time of the House in a matter of this kind. I have to say that this point was most carefully considered by the Committee, because if those for whom he speaks are dissatisfied they can got the judgment of a Committee in another place. The objection of the hon. Member seems to go a very dangerous length, because he says that under the Standing Orders of the House the inhabitants of the square were not entitled to get notice, and did not get notice; that, consequently, they did not appear before the Committee; and, that, therefore, they were entitled to be heard at this stage before the House of Commons. The House will observe what an enormous length that proposal goes. Is it to be understood that every interested party who, under the Standing Orders of the House, has no right to appear before the Committee, can come forward at this stage of the Bill and raise a Debate in this House? That would be a most unfortunate precedent for the House to 183 establish. I have also to say that the parties were, as a matter of fact, represented before the Committee, and their case argued. Mr. Bowman, counsel for Lord Portman and the Portman estate, said that if he did not succeed in retaining the gates he would like to have this noiseless pavement, and two of the residents of the Square were examined. I do not think it is a breach of confidence to say that this point as to the noiseless pavement was fully considered by the Committee. The Member for West Belfast has some special knowledge of the two gates at Bryanston Square, and he proposed that noiseless pavement should be put down where these gates were taken away. But when the proposal was made I asked how far it was proposed to go, and whether the suggestion was that the whole square was to be put down in wood pavement. We unanimously decided that this should not be done, and, therefore, I hope the House will not go beyond the deliberate decision of the Committee.
§ MR. MACFARLANE (Argyll)
said, that the Mover of the Amendment had stated that high rents had been got for these houses in Bryanston Square on account of the gates. He, therefore, thought that if the gates were removed, and if this noiseless pavement was put down, it should be paid by the landlords who had had the advantage of these high rents.
§ *SIR JOHN LUBBOCK (London University)
hoped that the House would not adopt the unusual course of reopening the question, which had been carefully considered by the Committee, who had had all the facts before them. The inhabitants of the Square would have an opportunity of bringing their question before the other House, if they wished to do so, but he believed that some of them at any rate preferred the pavement proposed by the Council, and he submitted that was the proper course for them to take. He hoped the House would support the decision of the Committee, and not put the ratepayers of London to unnecessary expense.
§ MR. BOULNOIS (Marylebone, E.)
I have been asked by the Local Authority, which in this case is the Vestry, to oppose the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for Guildford, on the ground that it would entail an extremely heavy burden on the ratepayers. The Vestry maintain 184 that the traffic will not be materially increased by the removal of these gates, and even if the Manchester, Sheffield, and Lincolnshire Railway were open—of which there is a doubt—the inhabitants of the square would not experience any serious inconvenience from the traffic. But if they do experience any serious inconvenience the Vestry will take the proper steps to lessen it at the proper time. I am told that the cost of the wood pavement in this case would be between £6,000 and £7,000, and I ask the House whether they think it right that a burden of this kind should be placed on the ratepayers without asking the Local Authority whether they assent to it or not. The Vestry say that it is to the convenience of London that those gates and bars should be removed, and that, therefore, the cost should not fall upon the particular locality, but upon the London County Council. I ask, therefore, whether it would not be better for my hon. Friend to withdraw his Motion in order that the matter may be fully ventilated in another place.
*MR. J. W. LOWTHER (Cumberland, Penrith)
I think the House should be indebted to my hon. Friend the Member for Guildford for bringing this matter under its notice. The hon. Member who spoke last said it would be hard to decide this question without giving the Vestry any notice in respect to it. That is the very ground on which my hon. Friend brought the matter forward. I do not hesitate to say that not a single inhabitant of the squares and streets from which it is proposed to remove the gates and bars received the slightest notice from the London County Council of their intention to make this great change. The same statement applies to Belgravia. The County Council, have, no doubt, acted in strict accordance with the Standing Orders of the House, but I think some notice should have been given to the inhabitants of these districts in order that they might have come before the Committee and laid their case before them.
§ MR. BRUNNER (Cheshire, Northwich)
said, that, as a leaseholder affected by the Bill, he desired to say that this Amendment should not be withdrawn, but should be negatived by the House. It seemed to him that if the landlords wanted to exclude, by means of gates and bars, the 185 public from the roads and squares, it was only right that they should maintain these roads themselves.
§ MR. BRODRICK
said, that after the remarks of the right hon. Baronet the Member for the London University, which had made it clear that this point was left open for consideration by the House of Lords, he would withdraw the Amendment.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Amendments made.
§ Bill to be read the third time.