HC Deb 16 July 1902 vol 111 cc435-40

Order for Second Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."


said he begged to move the Bill be read the second time that day three months. It proposed to construct a line from South Kensington Station by Brompton Road and Knightsbridge to Piccadilly Circus; but it should not have the assent of the House because it did not conform to the rules laid down by the Joint Committee as to the manner in which tube lines should be constructed. In 1889, the Company obtained authority to connect the line with the contemplated deep-level line of the District Railway, but the connecting line had never been made and the Company had now passed into the absolute control of the District Railway Company, which notoriously used the proposed line as a block line to prevent the construction of any other railway down Piccadilly. It was remarkable it the promoters had any intention of building the line that land had not been purchased for a station in, or near, Piccadilly Circus. The finance of the Company was mysteriously connected with Mr. Yerkes's promotion companies, which might be described as further increasing profit companies. Though it was alleged that a contract had been entered into for the construction of the line, there was no satisfactory proof that any such contract was binding, and it was singular that the contract, though promised, had never been produced. The more he looked into the proposals of the Bill, the more he was convinced that it was not designed with a view to the growth or the welfare of London. The history of the District Railway and the South Eastern and Chatham Railway showed that it was false to argue that a desire for high dividends would keep the company true to the interests of the public. The proposed line was intended to serve the interests of the District Railway and not the interests of the public; and the House ought not to give Second Reading to this and similar Bills without receiving from the promoters undertakings that the finance was sound; that the works would be completed without delay; that the company would work in harmony, not only with the District Railway, but with all other tube railways, to provide a through route and an adequate service of workmen's trains, and that the promoters would not oppose any other tube railway Which hereafter might come to Parliament for powers. That might appear a strong demand to make, but it was justified by the history of railways in the Metropolis. If they looked at the District Railway, the Thames Steamboat Company, which were hindrances, instead of helps, to London locomotion, they could not be too careful in arranging beforehand the terms on which locomotion enterprises should be established. Tube railways could not now be regarded as new enterprises, or as involving any considerable risk; although in a thinly populated suburb, the prospects of a tube line might be doubtful. But the promoters of the line had selected perhaps the most profitable route for locomotion in the world, and it was only reasonable that if they received so valuable a concession it should be as compensation for making a line in the outlying districts, in which time was required in order to build up a profitable business. The line would obtain some of its, custom by drawing traffic away from existing railway, tramway, and omnibus companies, but it would do nothing to shift the population from crowded centres to thinly populated suburbs, which were badly in need of increased transit facilities. The Company asked for powers to obtain the cream of underground traffic in London, without conforming to the principle laid down by the Joint Committee. Any hon. Member who read the newspapers would have observed during the last day or two mystic phrases and vague assurances from the Chairman of the District Railway, but nothing definite was said as to what the intentions of the Company were as regards the very serious problem of London locomotion, or that there was any intention on the part of the District Railway and its allies, of adhering to the principles and conditions Parliament had decided upon in respect to Tube Railways. On the other hand, they had categorical statements as to what would be done by others who were seeking similar powers. Therefore, he felt that it was neither wise nor proper for Parliament to give a blank cheque to the hon. Member for the Louth Division of Lincolnshire, who was concerned in the promotion of the Bill. Before they passed the Second Reading they were entitled to know what he and his brother promoters were prepared to do if Parliament conferred on them the magnificent advantage of constructing a tube railway through the most profitable part of London. He would protest against the Second Reading of the Bill unless assurances were given which would satisfy those who had the best interests of London at heart.

Amendment proposed— To leave out the word 'now,' and at the end of the Question to add the words ' upon this day three months."—(Mr. Claude Hay.)

Question proposed. That the word 'now' stand part of the Question.

MR. MELLOR (Yorkshire, W.R., Sowerby)

said he hoped that the House in this and the other cases would decline to go into these details. It seemed to him an absolute waste of time. The House had an effective system of investigating such matters, and he did not think their time. ought to be taken up with a long string of details of which they could know nothing, and on which they were asked to decide upon ex parte statements. This Bill had been examined by a Committee of the House of Lords, and they had passed the Bill. He suggested that the House of Commons should now send the Bill to a similar Committee of their own, who could go into all these details and take evidence. He therefore hoped the House would decline to accept the Amendment.

MR. MILVAIN (Hampstead)

said he assumed that there would be a general argument on the group of tube railways now before the House. As the representative of the Borough of Hampstead—


Order, order ! No doubt the question as to whether the House ought, on general grounds, to give powers to any Company proposing additional tube railways in London was before the House, but the hon. Member would not be at liberty to discuss the merits of the particular Bills which follow the Bill now under discussion.

*SIR J. DICKSON-POYNDER (Wiltshire, Chippenham)

said that as the House had passed the Second Reading of the Bill, he should like to move the Instruction which stood in his name.


The Instruction as it stands on the Paper is not in order. It is in order down to and including the words "underground railways," and the hon. Member can move that portion of it.


said he submitted to the ruling of the Chair, although the omission of the last two lines vitiated the principle which he wished to bring before the House. He would not press the Instruction now, but would bring it forward after the Second Reading of one of the other Bills.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.