§ Order for Second Reading read.
Motion made, and Question put—
That the Bill be now read a second time.
§ * SIR G. FARDELL (South Paddington)
The Bill now before the House is strongly objected to by my constituents, and the Vestry of Paddington, who have presented a petition against it, because, as originally introduced, it proposed to establish a station for generating electricity and a terminal station yard in a district of Paddington which is en- 479 tirely of a residential character. Not only has the Vestry petitioned against it, but the Bill is also opposed by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, the owners of the freehold, by the Paddington trustees, and by the residents. Several other petitions against it have been presented, notably by the Great Western Railway, the London County Council, and the Grand Junction Canal Company. I think the circumstances are peculiarly hard on Paddington. The Bill, although called an Omnibus Bill, is really one for the extension of a railway which has already been given two Acts of Parliament. In 1893 the Company obtained an Act which contained stringent restrictive clauses prohibiting the erection of generating stations in the parishes of St. Martin's and Marylebone, or anywhere north of the Thames, Paddington was not concerned in the scheme. These restrictions were continued by a subsequent Act passed in 1896, and now in 1899 it is rather hard that in a Bill of this sort they should all of a sudden spring this upon us, enabling them to establish in Paddington a generating station as well as a terminal station and yard. In addition to that, the Vestry look upon the undertaking as a speculative concern. Although there has been no public issue of capital, the line is in course of construction by the London and Globe Finance Corporation, and the extension to Paddington is a minor object. While they say they want the extension from Baker Street to Paddington, the real object is to go to Paddington and to make that an excuse for going on further, and to obtain land for further extensions. If the promoters are satisfied to stop at Paddington, I can undertake, on the part of the Vestry, not to oppose the Bill at all, except as regards the usual protective clauses. If the promoters will withdraw everything relating to the extension beyond the Great Western Railway station at Paddington, we are satisfied, and do not desire to oppose any bond fide scheme.
At this stage, on the summons of the Yeoman Usher of the Black Rod (Sir MICHAEL BIDDULPH), the Speaker, in company with Members of the House, proceeded to the House of Lords to hear 480 the Royal Commission read, and the Royal Assent given to Acts which had been passed by both Houses of Parliament.
On their return Mr. SPEAKER announced that the Royal Assent had been given in regard to the Consolidated Fund and other Bills.
§ * SIR G. FARDELL (continuing)
Since my notice to move the rejection of the Bill has been put upon the paper, a representative of the promoters has come to me and suggested that if I would withdraw all opposition to the second reading of the Bill, they, on their part, would be prepared to say that the generating station would be given up. I reported that to my constituents, and none of them see their way clear to fall in with the suggestion. It is only fair to the promoters that I should say they formally repeated before the Chairman of Ways and Means, that the clauses relating to the generating station will be struck out of the Bill. I suggested to them at the same time that we were desirous of withdrawing the opposition if they would be content with joining up with Paddington Station, and thus giving a through route from Waterloo to Paddington; but I am afraid that at present there is no chance of their acceding to that. That proposal of mine to stop at the Great Western Railway station was rejected, and under the circumstances I had no other course open to me to-day than to draw attention to the matter on the Second Reading, and this was all the more necessary because the promoters have circulated a printed statement to honourable Members' in which is this paragraph—The site is immediately adjacent to the Grand Junction and Regent's Canals, and the great majority of the houses on it are, and for long time have been, uninhabited, thus proving what are the residential qualities which it is alleged will be destroyed No labouring classes will be disturbed.I am very much surprised at that statement, because I should certainly consider it extremely incorrect. There are some 300 houses in the immediate vicinity of the proposed station yard, the site of which is in every sense of a residential character, and I have reason for saying 481 that a very small percentage indeed are at the present moment empty. The labouring classes have entirely nothing to do with the point. The references to the labouring classes not being disturbed induces me to say that this fact is due to a regard to the Company's own interests, for had they disturbed this class they would have been compelled to erect houses for those who were ejected, but this will now be avoided. In consequence of the absence of my honourable Friend and Colleague, the Member for North Paddington, occasioned solely by illness, which, I am sure, we all regret, the responsibility for the course to be pursued to-day rests entirely upon my shoulders. I feel that in view of the offer of the promoters to give up the generating station I am placed in a very difficult position, because honourable Members might think, if I had consented to the second reading without making this statement, that my constituents look upon the generating station as the main objection, whereas they consider the other part of the Bill just as bad. I know this House is very averse indeed to enter into details. I do not think it right, therefore, to take up the time of the House with that which would involve the House in a long discussion on the details. Under the circumstances I wish to offer my most emphatic protest on behalf of my constituents against the Bill going forward, and to state that it is their intention to oppose it in every way, and having made that protest, I do not propose to continue my opposition to the Second Reading in order that the Bill may go before the Committee.
§ COLONEL LOCKWOOD (Essex, Epping)
There is only one word I wish to say. I assure the honourable Member that there is nothing at all speculative about this Bill; it is an absolutely bona fide railway question, and the gentlemen promoting the railway are only too anxious that every question should be threshed out before the Committee, and already they have signified their wish to meet my honourable Friend, as he rightly acknowledges, by giving up the generating station at Paddington. I feel as my honourable Friend has entered his protest for his constituents, he should now allow the matter to go before the Committee, where every party can be heard and justice will be done.
§ MR. KIMBER (Wandsworth)
The honourable Member has opposed this Bill on Second Heading on grounds which have nothing to do with the Second Reading at all. This Bill is one in which I have no interest whatever, except as one of the British public, and as the representative of a very much larger number of Metropolitan people than that represented by my honourable Friend, and I think ho has exercised a wise discretion in withdrawing the opposition. But I will say this, that where a large Metropolitan improvement has been already half done, and the Company is going to improve it, and improve it in a way which increases the facilities to the public for getting under and along the streets of the Metropolis, and getting to the great terminals, I do think it comes very badly from the Vestry, whoever they may be, while admitting with one breath that the only objectionable provision of the Bill is that it has a terminal station (and however you are going to construct a railway without a terminal station I am at a loss to conceive), that they should then say the Bill should be thrown out, which has many other good objects, besides the terminal station, because they want to oppose it in their personal interests, their vestry interests, when they admit that they have a locus standi to appear upon it before the tribunal of the House, that is the Committee on the Bill.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time, and committed.