HC Deb 11 March 1903 vol 119 cc471-5

Order for Second Reading read.

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

*MR. CLAUDE HAY (Shoreditch, Hoxton)

said his chief motive in moving that this Bill be read this day six months was that the Government had thought fit to appoint a Royal Commission to deal with the whole question of London locomotion, and that therefore this Bill should not be allowed to become law until that Royal Commission had reported. Further he submitted that the House was entitled to some definite guidance in this matter from the Departments whose duty it was to deal with the locomotion of London. If this Bill passed in its present form it would give over the greater part of London underground to a monopoly organised and controlled by the Yerkes group and would render ineffectual any plan the Royal Commission on London Locomotion might decide upon. In short, the Royal Commission would be made powerless, for London would be in the octopus clutch of one set of financiers. The Government having appointed a Royal Commission they were the parties who should put before the House the reasons why this Bill should be allowed to pass its Second Reading. Another reason why the Second Reading of the Bill should be postponed until the Royal Commission had reported upon these matters was that only last year, as the result of lengthy and grave deliberations, a Joint Committee of Lords and Commons made certain recommendations as to the housing of the working classes so far as that subject was affected by private Bills, and the House had been given to understand that those recommendations would be made the subject of legislation this session. That was itself a reason why these profit-seeking syndicates should not be allowed to put their hands on these through routes. There were a great many objections to this Bill, but the vital objection in his opinion was the fact that it asked the House to set aside one of its own Acts—the Hampstead and Edgware Tramways Act—passed in 1902, in order that the whole of the property affected by that Act should become the property of the Underground Electric Railways Company—a mere promoting syndicate, which intended to resell the railway to the public at a huge profit. It was a matter which would affect the health and industry of 6,000,000 of people, and that being so, he moved that the Hill be read a second time on this day six months.

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

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

MR. JOHN BURNS (Battersea)

associated himself with the observations of the hon. Member who moved the rejection of this Bill for one chief reason, which was,—the Government had before them at the commencement of this session some fifteen railway Bills dealing with tube railway developments, extensions, or with totally new schemes. These schemes were considered so serious by the Government in their relation to general and metropolitan traction and intercommunication with existing tramways, steam railways underground, and existing deep level tubes, that they had decided to appoint a Royal Commission to investigate the whole subject of deep level railways. But the Government, much to the surprise of everybody, had practically in the same breath exempted from the purview of that Royal Commission, and from its comprehensive consideration, five or six railway schemes of which the subject of the present Bill was one. Why it was ever exempted he could not understand, and he could not imagine what should have weighed with the Local Government Board and the Home Office to induce those Departments to give certain Bills differential treatment, while other Bills were suspended pending the decision of this Royal Commission on Locomotion. He had not heard from the Government the reasons which induced them to waive the Royal Commission treatment in the case of these Bills, and until he had that information he should take every opportunity of supporting the rejection of all tube railway Bills. This Bill was practically a replica of a similar Bill introduced before, and he personally was not against any Bill that was brought into this House that was in keeping with some well co-ordinated scheme of railway co-operation, profitable to the promoters and beneficial to the public and the cause of London locomotion as a whole. Cut at the beginning of the session they were told that this was one of a series of Bills which, before they were passed, would have to be brought before the Railway Commission, which, after hearing expert evidence, would recommend that they should be passed in the general interest of London or that they should be rejected. That position had been abandoned by the Government, and these Departments had been prevailed upon to give preferential treatment to this railway, while other railways were to be excluded from that treatment. He desired to hear from the Secretary to the Board of Trade the reason for this differential treatment—why fish should be made of one and flesh of another—and he wished to know why County Councils had been refused permission to introduce a deputation for the purpose of discussing this and kindred schemes, and why the labours of the Royal Commission were to be stultified by the exemption from the purview of the Commission of the major part of the railways which it was constructed to investigate and report upon. He supported the rejection of the Bill.


said he could assure the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down that the Board of Trade fully realised the responsibility which rested upon their shoulders, and they had most carefully considered those Bills which had been referred to before coming to any decision upon them. This particular Bill had not been referred to the Royal Commission, because it was a mere General Powers Bill; it simply proposed to give some additional facilities for carrying out the Charing Cross, Euston, and Hampstead Railway, which had already been sanctioned by Parliament.

MR. PERKS (Lincolnshire, S.)

just wished to call attention to one point. It was perfectly true that certain powers were given by this Bill to the Underground Electric Company for working this line. That company operated and supplied power to one or two other electric railways, and it was essential that this Charing Cross line should be operated and supplied with power by the same company. The reason this Bill was being proceeded with was that Section 21, which provided for the amalgamation with various other lines, had been withdrawn, and it was now to be proceeded with as a General Powers Bill. It now merely authorised the purchase of additional pieces of land for the improvement of the stations of the line, and provided for the line being worked by the Electric Traction Company.

MR. REMNANT (Finsbury, Holborn)

said his constituency had considered this Bill very carefully, and were unanimously in favour of it. It was felt that the increased facilities which this railway would give in Holborn would be a considerable stop towards reducing congestion in the district. He hoped it would be allowed a second reading.


in withdrawing his Motion, said he had attained his object, which was the withdrawal of Clause 21, and that being so he had no objection to the Second Heading. He begged leave to withdraw his Motion.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

City and South London Railway Bill [by Order].

Great Southern and Western Railway Bill [by Order.]

Read a second time, and committed.