HC Deb 25 March 1902 vol 105 cc969-74

Order for Second Reading read.

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

* SIR ALBERT BOLLIT (Islington, S.)

said he had a Motion on the Paper to move the rejection of this Bill, upon the ground of the objection taken to it by many residents in the North of London, who were largely connected with the Press and Printing Trade and others, who had been greatly inconvenienced by the cessation of the trams running half hourly during the night. Many of these people had taken residences and arranged; their businesses because of the advantage offered by this line. But suddenly the trams ceased to run, and notwithstanding the respectful request that the service - should be continued, the request was refused without adequate, or indeed; any, reason being assigned. In South; London, the London County Council ran trams through the night, and he believed if a good service were established in North London, and a sufficient time given to the experiment, it would prove to be remunerative. The company refused to take that view, and it therefore became necessary for the people who felt aggrieved to bring the matter before the House, in order that if privileges were conferred upon the company, they should be accompanied by reasonable conditions in the interests of the public. The object of the Bill was to improve the service, which would be of benefit to those he particularly represented, and there was no disposition to interfere with the public convenience. He was glad to be able to state, therefore, that as the result of negotiation, it had been arranged in the first place, to run trams in the night as before. He hoped that it would be given a fair trial and believed that it would prove beneficial to the company. In the next place, the company had consented to an Instruction which appeared on the Paper, and which would give further securities for what was desired in this matter. The promoters had met the matter reasonably. He believed they had received from the County Council some consideration and assistance in the shape of a rebate qua this particular service of some 12½ per cent. on the undertaking. He hoped his hon. friends connected with him in the matter would take the view he ventured to take, and accept the best terms they had been able to get by long negotiation, rather than take the risk of not rejecting the Bill—if even this could be done as a matter of order—and not getting any terms whatever.

MR. COHEN (Islington, E.)

expressed his concurrence with the view of his hon. friend, and his sense of the service he had rendered in securing this necessity for a large class of the community who were unable to provide themselves with cabs or other conveyances to take them home at the close of their labour. He was disappointed at the unreasonable attitude taken up by the company, being convinced that if they gave a regular, well-organised night service it would be remunerative. But in any case he held that the claim for this night service was a reasonable one, whether it was remunerative or not. He had some right to urge that because he was a member of the London County Council during the negotiations between the North Metropolitan Tramways Co. and the Council, for the conveyance of almost all the existing lines of the North Metropolitan Tramways. He quite acknowledged that the service of the Tramways Co. was well conducted throughout the day. The Tramway must take the good with the bad, and seeing they were allowed by Parliament to run their services in the times when they were remunerative to the shareholders, that carried with it the duty of continuing the service in the interests of the public when it was not so remunerative. He was glad the company had seen that it was in its own interest to make this concession and accept the Instruction. He would have been reluctant to oppose the Bill, but that was a weapon which it would have been necessary to use but for the fact that the company had conceded the all-night service.

* MR. HAY (Shoreditch, Hoxton)

said he failed to see any sufficient assurance in what had fallen from his hon. friends that the company would carry out the bargain foreshadowed in the Instruction to the Committee. He gave expression to that doubt because of the past history of the company. In response to an agitation, all-night trams had been conceded some time ago, and afterwards stopped. What he was anxious on behalf of a great number of wage earners to know was whether this concession of night trams was merely a decoy duck by which the company sought to obtain the assent of the House to the present Bill, or whether it was a genuine intention on their part to establish a night service which would be permanent, and which, on the principle of traffic making traffic, would give them a greater amount by day, and so recoup them whatever loss they might possibly incur in the night service. This was not a small matter. It affected a very serious problem, the question of the housing of the people. The Chairman of the Middlesex County Council claimed that the Bill would confer considerable advantages upon a population of something like a quarter of a million. He forgot to say that whereas this Bill undoubtedly did confer substantial advantages on so large a portion of the population of Middlesex, it would, unless it had the safeguards to which he had alluded, continue the serious evils from which not merely a quarter of a million but three or four times that number suffered in the lack of free and easy transit from their places of employment to their homes. These people were driven by the lack of such facilities to live in the overcrowed area at the centre, or else, after a hard night's work, tramp home in the early hours of the morning.

MR. BIGWOOD (Middlesex, Brent ford)

said this was a measure to enable the County of Middlesex to improve the means of locomotion at its disposal. The night trams which were referred to by the objectors, were trams which ran entirely within the administrative area of the County of London. No portion of them ran into the County of Middlesex, and it did seem hard that Middlesex should be made to suffer in its desire to improve locomotion for the inhabitants, because certain things were not done in the adjoining county. He did not propose to take up the time of the House, but he had to state on behalf of the promoters, that they had no objection to the question being thoroughly thrashed out by a Committee upstairs. He gave the assurance that the promoters were most desirous to improve and facilitate communication by every means in their power.

MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)

said the Bill was one which greatly affected his constituents, to whom midnight trams were of great advantage. If he gave his support to the Bill it must be distinctly understood that the night service when once re-started should not be again stopped.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill read a second time and committed


next moved the Instruction which stood in his name on the Paper. He pointed out that it was in the interest of a very large class of persons whom some of them were representing in that House, and for whom, if they had not got all they could wish they had got all they possibly could under this Bill, which did not touch the question raised in the Instruction. The promoters had promised not to raise any objection to the Committee entertaining this subject, but had on the contrary undertaken to support it. With regard to the renewal of the midnight service it was the intention of the promoters to see how far the experiment answered, but no doubt it would be in the power of the Committee upstairs if they saw fit to insert a clause making it permanent.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That it be an Instruction to the Committee on the North Metropolitan Tramways Bill to inquire, if they see fit, as to the present service of cars of the company during the night, and in respect of the hours at which such cars should be run, and to provide accordingly."—(Sir Albert Rollit.)


said that in the absence of a definite undertaking that the matter of the midnight service was not one open to discussion, but that there was a clear undertaking that it should be forthwith re-instituted, he must move the Amendment which stood in his name.

Amendment proposed— To leave out the words 'if they see fit.'"—(Mr. Claude Hay.)

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the proposed Instruction."


expressed a hope that the Amendment would not be pressed. It was very important that the Bill should be referred to a Committee as soon as possible. The Instruction had been drawn up after communications had passed between all parties, who had come to an agreement which would, no doubt, be strictly carried out; and he therefore thought it would be in the joint interest if the Instruction were allowed to pass.


complained that the promoters had taken no pains to communicate with those who were raising this question of midnight trams, but after the appeal made to him in the House of Commons by his hon. friend, and on the understanding that the Bill would receive the fullest and fairest consideration, and that those he represented would not be brushed aside, he would not press his Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Ordered, that it be an Instruction to the Committee on the North Metropolitan Tramways Bill to inquire, if they see fit, as to the present service of cars of the company during the night, and in respect of the hours at which such cars should be run, and to provide accordingly.