HC Deb 31 July 1894 vol 27 cc1373-81

Bill, as amended, considered.

MR. A. C. MORTON (Peterborough)

moved to add the following new clause:— It shall not be lawful for the Company to take or demand on Sunday or on any bank or other public holiday any higher rates or charges than those levied by them on ordinary week days. The hon. Gentleman said, these were the terms in which the clause was inserted in the London Tramways Bill, but he had no objection to alter it by inserting the words "without the consent of the Local Authority" after the word "lawful," so as to bring it into line with the clause as inserted in the Bristol Tramways Bill. The object of the clause was to protect the people, especially the working classes, on holidays, and to secure that only the same fares should be charged then as on other days. He thought he was only right in asking that this Bill should be treated in exactly the same way as all the other Tramways Bills which had been brought before them this Session.

Amendment proposed, in the Liverpool and Walton-on-the-Hill Tramways Order, to insert, as a new paragraph, the words—

(As to fares on holidays and Sundays.)

It shall not be lawful for the Company to take or demand on Sunday or on any bank or other public holiday any higher rates or charges than those levied by them on ordinary week days."—(Mr. A. C. Morton.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

MR. W. LONG (Liverpool, West Derby)

said, the answer which he had been instructed to give on behalf of the Liverpool Corporation, who were interested in this particular Bill, and the reasons for that answer, were short and simple. The Corporation desired to impress upon the House that if this Motion were carried, either in its present form or in the amended form suggested by the hon. Member for Peterborough, it would confer upon them a power to vary agreements which had been solemnly and deliberately entered into by them with the Liverpool Tramway Company in 1882. In that year the Corporation made an agreement with the Liverpool Tramway Company fixing the maximum fares which the Company should levy, and at the present moment those maximum fares were lower than the maximum fares usually allowed by Provisional Order. The Corporation had considered this question as it would affect them and their position with the Company. He quite understood that the hon. Member's (Mr. Morton's) suggested amendment of the present clause would practically have the effect of leaving it to the Local Authority to decide this matter; but while the House was ready and willing to confer upon Local Authorities those extended powers, at the same time when the Local Authority, having considered the matter, had deliberately come to the conclusion that they did not want those extraordinary powers, he did not think they were justified in forcing them upon them. The Liverpool Corporation considered the matter so serious that they had come to the deliberate determination, if these powers were placed upon them, to drop the Bill. He gathered that though the clause had not been moved in its amended form the hon. Member (Mr. Morton) would be willing to do so if that were made a condition of acceptance. He was instructed to say that that could not be the case with regard to this particular Bill. What the Corporation of Liverpool felt was that they had entered into a deliberate agreement and arrangement with the Tramways Company, and that this alteration would give them a power to vary the conditions which had been entered into and by which they considered they were bound honourably to abide. This Order only affected a short line of tramways—less than a mile in length—and yet if the clause were carried it would refer to the whole length of 50 miles of trams in the City of Liverpool. It was far too serious a case to be assented to by them, and they had instructed him, on their behalf, to say that if the clause were carried by the House they would feel bound to drop the Order. In the action they were thus taking they were supported by all the other Local Authorities who were concerned. There- fore he ventured to hope the House would not force the clause upon the Local Authorities, who were determinedly opposed to it, and the effect of which, if carried, would be to at all events postpone work which was urgently necessary in the interests of the people of Liverpool.


said, he thought the Committee would have no objection to the Amendment in principle; if this were a new Company or a new tramway he thought it would be a right thing that this clause should be inserted. The reason why the clause was not inserted in this Order by the Committee was this: The various Government Departments, as a rule, send in Reports with regard to matter in an Unopposed Bill which they think should be considered by the Committee. Upon this particular Bill the Board of Trade reported to him and to the Committee that the Corporation of Liverpool objected to this clause, and as it was necessary, in the Unopposed Bill Committee, to lay down some rule with regard to these matters, because the parties were not all represented, they considered the Report of the Board of Trade on this Bill, and they came to the conclusion that the safest and best course, under the circumstances, to take was not to insert the clause, seeing that the Corporation which represented the whole mass of ratepayers, and ought to know what was best in this matter, opposed its insertion. If this had been merely the opposition of the promoters, he thought the Committee would have inserted the clause; but as it was objected to by the Corporation, and as it was so reported to them by the Board of Trade, they felt it to be their duty to decline to insert the clause, and to leave it to the House to say whether the view should prevail or not.

MR. SNAPE (Lancashire, S.E., Heywood)

said, the objection of the Liverpool Corporation to the clause no doubt arose from the fact that when the original agreement was made with the Tramways Company no such difficulty as this was contemplated, and they had made an agreement which they thought it was desirable to continue under all future conditions. But if that principle were allowed the result would be that under no circumstances could this very desirable protection to the working classes be adopted by the House and enforced upon Tramway Companies. They all knew that Railway Companies, instead of raising their fares on holidays, reduced them, and the working classes had thus the opportunity of enjoying the facilities to travel, but it was manifest that the Tramway Companies took advantage of their monopolies—monopolies which had been granted by Parliament—to enforce exactions which were little better than spoliation and robbery from the poor. He hoped the House would protect those who otherwise could not have any protection. As to the Company and the Corporation dropping the Order, he did not think it was probable they would do anything of the sort. They had heard threats of that character before.


Perhaps I may interrupt the hon. Gentleman to say that within the last 10 minutes I have been instructed to say, authoritatively and definitely, that if the clause is carried the Corporation will drop the Order.


said, he, perhaps, ought to have said that it was not probable they would drop it permanently. If it paid the Corporation and the Tramway Company to make this new extension of their system, there was no question at all that a restriction which would prevent them charging the extra fares on holidays would not be any real and lasting impediment to such extension; and he did not think the House ought to be influenced by that. They were told that at the present moment they did not charge their maximum fares, and that they had not exercised the opportunity of making those extra charges. If that were so, then there was no hardship in asking them to allow this clause to be introduced into the Bill, and he trusted the House would not permit this opportunity of protecting the working classes and the poor in the enjoyment of the vehicular facilities on holidays and similar occasions.

MR. WILLOX (Liverpool, Everton)

said, that no comparison could be drawn between London and Liverpool in this matter, because in Liverpool the fares were fixed under an agreement with the Tramway Company, and the maximum could not be increased. Without going into the question of protecting the interests of the working and industrial classes, he would like to point out to the House that this Provisional Order dealt only with a short length of tramway, which was to be a connecting link between two central parts of the tramway system of Liverpool, so as to enable workmen who lived in one part of the town to reach their work in another; so that this extension was not so much to the interest of either the Corporation or the Tramway Company as to that of the industrial classes, of whom the Member for Heywood (Mr. Snape) was the unappointed champion. He should also like further to suggest that this question was not altogether one of protection for the public, or the increase of powers, but it was the question of the observance of an agreement, which had been solemnly entered into, and which had now been in force for a number of years. He did not express any opinion whether or not this clause was desirable in itself, but he was quite sure that this was not the opportune moment to introduce it, because the lease, which had been running for some years, would bind the one side, whereas the Amendment would have the effect of liberating the other side. When the lease expired, and a new one was to be settled, it might then probably be a fair opportunity for considering the enforcement of such a clause, but in the meantime he could affirm the statement of the hon. Member for West Derby (Mr. Long), and say that the Corporation of Liverpool had authoritatively decided that they would not proceed with the Bill if the Amendment was introduced. Further, the Local Board of Walton, which was also a Local Authority, would take similar action, and he thought that where there was no demand made by the Corporation, by the ratepayers, or by the Tramway Company, it seemed somewhat unreasonable that a private Member without local experience should attempt to force this Amendment on a locality of which he had no personal experience. He trusted, however, that the hon. Member would withdraw the Amendment, or that, if he should persist in going to a Division, it would be rejected by the House.

MR. NEVILLE (Liverpool, Exchange)

said, he hoped the hon. Member (Mr. Morton) would not persist in this Amendment, not because he did not sympathise with the direction in which it was going, but because he thought the result of per- sisting in it on the present occasion would be very unfortunate for those very people whom he desired to serve. This was not the case of a Company coming for a large extension of Parliamentary powers or anything of that kind. It was simply a case where the existing Tramway Company wanted to make a very small extension of one of their lines with the view to suit the convenience mainly of the large class of working people who had their business at some distance and to whom this slight extension would offer very great facilities. Rightly or wrongly, the Liverpool Corporation considered themselves under such an express obligation to the Tramways Company, who were their lessees, that if this Amendment were persisted in they thought it would not be honourable on their part to press forward the Provisional Order. Under these circumstances, the persons whose interests the hon. Member (Mr. Morton) desired to serve could gain nothing, because by his action they would lose the benefits which they would get if this extension were made. He ventured to think this was a case in which the hon. Member (Mr. Morton) would do well to consider before he pressed his Amendment to a Division, with the result, if he was successful, of preventing the enjoyment by the working classes in Liverpool of what would really be a very great convenience and facility.


said, he sympathised very heartily with the object of the hon. Member (Mr. Morton), and expressed his regret that in this particular case the Corporation of Liverpool had found themselves unable to accept the provision. He wished they had been able to do so, but the position in which they found themselves was that the Corporation and the Company assured them in the most authoritative way that they would immediately drop the Bill if the Amendment was carried. Whatever additional facilities which the Bill proposed to give would thus be lost, and, knowing the feeling of the Corporation, as expressed by the Member for Liverpool who had spoken, and who might be fairly taken to represent the wishes of the city, he would ask his hon. Friend not to pursue the Amendment. If he divided the House, one of two things would happen: either the Amendment would be carried, in which case the Bill would be withdrawn, or, if the Amendment should be defeated, the House would appear to have given a decision against a principle which he was sure most of them heartily sympathised with, but which they felt could not properly be applied in this case against the wishes of the Local Authority. Here they had the Local Authority opposing the Amendment, and he did not think the House would be justified in overriding those wishes, supported as they were by Representatives of the city in that House.

Amendment proposed to the proposed Amendment, to insert, after the word "lawful," the words "without the consent of the Corporation."—(Mr. A. C. Morton.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted in the proposed Amendment."


said, the Corporation of Liverpool would object to the amended Amendment just as much as the original Amendment. The Corporation, as the Local Authority, had considered the matter, and they had come to the conclusion that this power was undesirable. They felt that if these powers were to be exercised it would involve the breach of an honourable arrangement entered into with this Company. [Mr. SNAPE: No.] The hon. Gentleman, who was not a member of the Liverpool Corporation, said "No," but he was only telling the House the conclusion the Corporation had arrived at. He could not speak from personal experience of holidays, but he could say that the tramways of Liverpool were very largely used, and although he had the honour to represent a purely working-class constituency, he had not had one single objection brought to his notice against the existing state of things at Liverpool, and not one single recommendation in support of the Amendment of the hon. Member (Mr. Morton), while he had been urged on the part of Liverpool generally, and of the Corporation and other Local Authorities, to resist this Amendment.


said, he was very sorry that the hon. Member (Mr. Morton) had not adopted the course suggested by the President of the Board of Trade and himself. He should certainly resist the Amendment, because he thought it a great pity that the advantages which the Bill conferred should be lost.


said, he hoped his hon. Friend would not put the House to the trouble of a Division. He must feel that after the strong opinion which had been expressed by the hon. Members for Liverpool on both sides, the House would certainly not be justified in acting contrary to their wishes.


said, he must take the opinion of the House upon the matter.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 70; Noes 139.—(Division List, No. 203.)


said, that after the Division just taken he would not move what was called "No. 6" on the Paper—namely, to insert in the Liverpool Corporation Tramways (Extension) BillIt shall not be lawful for the Company to take or demand on Sunday or on any bank or other public holiday any higher rates or charges than those levied by them on ordinary week days. He would, however, move "No. 7," which was to insert that clause in the Croydon Corporation Tramways Bill. He did so because he was informed by an hon. Member acquainted with the Corporation of Croydon that that body were willing to accept the clause with some alteration. [A communication was here made to Mr. Morton.] He understood that he had made a mistake, and that the hon. Member did not assent to the clause. Under the circumstances, and considering that the tramway in question was a very short one, he would not trouble the House to divide.

Bill to be read the third time To-morrow.

MR. S. HERBERT (Croydon)

said, he would move to omit Clause 17 of the Bill, which said that the promoters should not raise their fares on Sundays or public holidays. The clause was struck out by the Select Committee of the House of Lords, and re-inserted by the Chairman of Committees when it came before the Committee on Unopposed Bills. The right hon. Gentleman had stated in his speech on the Liverpool Bill that he had put in these clauses in order that the House might have an opportunity of deciding on their merits. He understood that the Corporation did not appear before the Committee, and that the right hon. Gentleman the Chairman had no information on the subject before him. He (Mr. Herbert) was not speaking for the Corporation, but from the point of view of the promoters, who were strongly opposed to the insertion of these words. The Chairman of Committees had pointed out that a clause of this sort might very properly be introduced into a Bill promoted by any new Company. He agreed to a great extent with the right hon. Gentleman. This Croydon Tramways Company was not a new Company, but had been in operation for a considerable number of years, and had recently been very largely developing its capabilities. He hoped that considering that the House had just declined to insert in the Liverpool Tramways Bill a clause which was word for word the same as that inserted in this Bill, it would not stultify itself by allowing the clause to remain. He hoped the House would come to the same conclusion as it came to on the Liverpool Bill.


To what Bill is the hon. Member referring — to the Tramways Orders Confirmation (No. 2) Bill—(Right of Extension)? Clause 17 is Power to grant Running Powers.


It is the second Bill on page 17 of the measure.


Is it not Clause 14?


It is a now clause—Clause 34, paragraph 17.


The hon. Member moves to omit paragraph 17 of the Tramways Orders Confirmation (Croydon Extension) (No. 2) Bill.