HC Deb 14 April 1904 vol 133 cc259-71

As amended, considered.

A Clause (Application of Company's Acts), brought up and read the first and second time, and added.

* MR. CAUSTON (Southwark W.)

said in moving the Motion standing in his name he would explain in the briefest possible manner the reasons which led up to it. Its object was to carry out a Parliamentary bargain that had been made in 1900 at the time of the passing of the Baker Street and Waterloo Railway Act. At that time the vestry of St. George-the-Martyr, now merged in the corporation of Southwark, was the local authority which had to deal with the matter, and they were strongly opposed to the Bill and presented a petition against it. The promoters of the Bill then sought an interview with the local authority as a result of which the opposition to the Bill was withdrawn by the local authority and conditions male by which the chairman of the vestry, the present Mayor of Southwark, should give evidence in support of the Bill, whilst a promise was made by the promoters of the Bill to make an underground station and subways near the Elephant and Castle. One of the clauses of the Bill provided for this, and there was no doubt the company honestly intended to carry out the arrangement made with the vestry. Negotiations in regard to the details were continued for a long time between the borough engineer and the engineer of the company, and last year the borough of Southwark approved the plans of the Waterloo and Baker Street Railway, and granted permission for the erection of a hoarding at the place where the shaft was to be bored. All went well up to 28th July, 1903, when the town clerk of Southwark received an intimation from the engineer of the company to the effect that the company did not intend to erect either the underground station or the subways. At this period the vestry of St. George-the-Martyr had been incorporated with the borough of Southwark, whilst the interest of the original promoters of the company had been acquired by Mr. Yerkes and his friends. Notwithstanding this intimation interviews took place between the parties, which resulted in the following letter being addressed by Mr. Yerkes to the Southwark borough engineers—

3rd November, 1903.

Dear Sir.—Since we had the pleasure of a visit from you and some of the members of the Council of the Borough of Southwark I have looked very fully into the matter of using the centre of the street for our Elephant and Castle Station and find that it cannot be done except at great expense. I appreciate fully the claim made against the company, that is, that it was agreed to at the time the Bill was passed, but I do not feel that we are at all responsible for that, for the reason that it was done by entirely different parties, who were our predecessors and from whom we purchased the company then being constructed. We are, however, still in hopes that some passage-way can be made connecting some of the corners of the street without causing a great expenditure of money, and this will receive our attention.

Yours truly,


Arthur Harrison, Esq.,

Borough Engineer.

Town Hall,

Walworth Road, S. E.

He admitted that the claim of the borough of Southwark was a genuine one, but got our of the responsibility by saying they were not the parties who originally entered into the undertaking. That was true, but he (Mr. Causton) would have thought that when a Parliamentary bargain had been entered into that bargain ought to be carried out by those who had taken over the responsibilities of the original company.

A great many concessions were given as a quid pro quo for the subways. The local authority had always had its eye on the question of subways at this point, and thought on this occasion that they had their opportunity to get them by making the concession which they made to the company. Those concessions were admitted to be not small concessions. He appealed to the House to respect Parliamentary bargains that might be made. It was well known that by such bargains a vast amount of time and great expense was saved. Although this bargain was not recorded, it was an honourable understanding under which the vestry withdrew its opposition and it ought to be carried out. One of the concessions made to the company was to allow it to make its tunnel at depths varying from eighteen inches to eighteen feet instead of sixty feet below the surface which saved a considerable expense to the company. He could give other instances, but he thought that was sufficient to show what had been saved by the concessions. The company would, under their altered arrangements, save considerable time and labour, as Mr. Galbraith the engineer admitted in his evidence before the Committee, and he stated that one of the reasons for not carrying out the bargain was that they could open the railway eighteen months earlier if instead of making this underground station they made it elsewhere. His point here was that the company had decided to remove their station, and by so doing they were going to save an enormous sum of money, and that therefore they ought not to object to carrying out this bargain as to making the subways. Another reason which weighed with the vestry in withdrawing their opposition was that the company was going to turn the Indigent Blind School site into a generating station which would be a very valuable ratable property to the borough. Now there was not to be a generating station at that point but merely sidings and consequently there would be a considerable rating loss to the borough.

The Motion he had before the House said in effect that this line should not be opened until the subways were made, but that would not necessitate any delay in the actual opening of the line, because the work was not sufficiently advanced to be affected by the making of the subways. There was absolutely no difficulty with regard to the construction of them, and the borough had no desire to put the company to any excessive cost in their construction. All they wanted under this new arrangement was the subways. The necessity for these subways at this spot was even greater now than when the Bill was passed having regard to the very great danger to pedestrians through the advent of electric trains, which came from all parts, travelling very rapidly and thereby increasing the danger to foot-passengers at this crossing. When this matter was before the Committee the Committee came to the conclusion that they could not compel the company to construct the subways in event of the station not being made, and he did not blame the Committee for not going behind the Act of Parliament, but at the same time he was going to ask the House to support him and say that Parliamentary bargains must be carried out, and that what the Committee could not do the House would. Attempts had been made to compromise the matter, and he believed that the company would be willing to make a contribution to the cost of the subways if the borough would construct them. But the corporation had not the power to construct them. It might go to law and get a verdict, but that they did not wish to do. All they desired was the subways, and that the company should construct them. He thought he had now said sufficient to make the matter clear, and, without occupying further time, he begged to move the clause standing in his name.

A Clause (Company to construct subways at Elephant and Castle). The Company shall not open for public traffic Railway No. 3 by the Act of 1900 authorised to be constructed or any part thereof until they have constructed and opened for public traffic subways for foot-passengers near the Elephant and Castle in the general lines shown on the plan signed in duplicate by William Robert Galbraith and by Arthur Harrison, and referred to in Sub-section 17 of Section 30 of the Act of 1000 (For the protection of the Vestry of the Parish of Saint George-the-Martyr, Southwark)."—(Mr. Causton.)

Brought up, and read the first time.

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

* MR. REA (Gloucester)

said his hon. friend had appealed very eloquently to Mr. Yerkes and his friends for a contribution towards the cost of these subways, but it would perhaps surprise the House to hear that when the Bill which was now being considered was before the Committee there was no mention in it of the Borough of Southwark. No part of the powers asked for by this Bill had to be exercised within the limits of that borough when the Committee were asked to give an opinion on another Act of Parliament passed in 1900. He did not deny that there had been a great deal of bargaining before the Act of 1900 was passed, but the bargain was embodied in Sub-section 17 of Clause 30 of that Act, from which it would be seen that it was a very different bargain from what his hon. friend had represented. He submitted that the hon. Member had rather misrepresented the powers conferred on the company by the Act of 1900. Since the Act was passed the company had done what they could to design a station under the road at this point, but they had proved to the satisfaction of the Committee that, if it was not an absolute impossibility from an engineering point of view, the difficulties were almost insuperable, and that not only would the expense be very great, but that if they succeeded the opening of the line would be delayed at least eighteen months. The Committee were asked to modify an Act passed in 1900 in reference to a matter which was not then before the Committee and which was not before the House in the present Bill; they were asked to interpret a clause in the sense of imposing on the company an obligation to construct something which the Act said they "may," but not that they "must" construct. Three things were clear to the Committee—first, that the Parliamentary bargain was embodied in Sub-section 17 of the Act of 1900; secondly, that the section did not impose an obligation to construct a station; and, thirdly, that the company were under no obligation to construct subways apart from the station, and that they had no powers to make subways apart from the works. If the obligation existed, the Borough of Southwark had its remedy at, law, and it was not the duty of the Committee to give a decision on a point of law with which the Bill before them had nothing whatever to do. Since the Act of 1900 nothing had passed except that the borough council had received a letter from Mr. Yerkes. That letter, however, could have no bearing on a Parliamentary bargain entered into before 1900. If it was a contract it could be enforced, but it did not seem desirable to the Committee that they should enter upon a legal argument as to whether or not the letter did constitute a contract. He might add that the conclusions of the Committee were clear and unanimous.

CAPTATN NORTON (Newington, W.)

contended that as a station was being actually built within thirty or forty yards of the Elephant and Castle the argument based on the non-construction of the station fell to the ground. The question was really one of public necessity against private interest. A certain bargain was entered into between the Borough of Southwark and the company; the company passed its rights on to another company, who then declared that they were not bound by the bargain of their predecessors. If such a plea was to be accepted there would be an end to all Parliamentary bargaining. As consideration for the bargain the Borough of Southwark granted many important concessions, and the question was whether the company should now carry out their share in the transaction. He took no objection to the action of the Committee, but the House itself had power to overrule its Committee when the public interest required it, and that was what the House was now asked to do.

SIR FREDERICK BANBURY (Camberwell, Peckham)

said the hon. Member for West Newington evidently knew nothing about the question. In l900 the original company—the London and Globe —obtained optional powers to construct an underground station at the Elephant and Castle, and if they constructed that station they were to make in connection therewith certain subways. The London and Globe became bankrupt and its powers were purchased by Mr. Yerkes' Company, who decided, in consequence of the great difficulty and public inconvenience involved, not to construct the station. The whole question turned on the words "may" and "in connection therewith." If the contention of hon. Members opposite was correct, the Borough of Southwark had their remedy at law. Any damages they obtained would be in the form of money, and the borough, being the street authority, could then construct the subways. Under the circumstances he hoped the House would uphold the decision of the Committee.

* MR. CORRIE GRANT (Warwickshire, Rugby)

said that no one had denied that a Parliamentary bargain was entered into, and the question of whether or not that bargain was correctly expressed in the Act depended upon the construction of the clause. One construction put forward was that the subway was to be built only if the station was constructed On that point much difference of opinion existed, and the Borough of Southwark were advised that that was not the true construction of the clause, but that the company were bound to build the sub-ways before Railway No. 3 was opened for traffic. The House of Commons did not exist for the purpose of encouraging people to go to law, but to see that Parliamentary bargains were carried out. Mr. Yerkes himself had written a letter in which he admitted the claim, but contended that the present company were not responsible inasmuch as the arrangement was entered into by their predecessors from whom they purchased the undertaking. That being so. the company ought to be shown that, in this country at any rate, we insisted upon people who purchased properties carrying out the bargains made by their predecessors.

MR. CUST (Southwark, Bermondsey)

said that in this case they had a deliberate act of bad faith on the put of the railway company. It would be very bad for the expedition of private business in that House if the promoters of any company, especially a railway company, after entering into what was accepted as a boné fide arrangement on both sides, should be allowed to abscond with the plunker and avoid their liabilities. That seemed to him to have happened in this case.


said that he would support the action taken by the Committee in this matter, who had heard the evidence and the arguments of counsel. The speech of the hon. Member for Gloucester showed that he had a full grasp of the question with which he had to deal. Whether or not there had been a Parliamentary bargain in 1900 did not seem to him to be very relevant, because toe result of the bargain, if there was one, was embodied in the Act of Parliament of that year. The hon. Member for Rugby seemed to set aside that Act on the ground that some verbal or other arrangement had been come to, but he had always understood that they could not give any evidence of a verbal character to set aside an agreement embodied in writing, far less an Act of Parliament. If the Borough of Southwark thought that their rights were being trampled upon and the conditions imposed were being set aside by that Act, the proper course for them to have taken at the time would have been to have come to the House and declared that the clause did not embody the bargain which had been made. The proper body to interpret the Act now was the courts of law. To his mind it was clear that what Parliament intended to do was to tell the company that they might make the station, but that if they made it they would have to construct for the public benefit certain subways "in connection therewith." A great deal had been said about Parliamentary bargains, but surely Parliament as well as the company should carry out its part of the bargain. The company would really have grievous cause for complaint if a permissive form of words in the Act were to be construed as imposing an obligation. For these reasons he should support the action of the Committee. At the same time he was bound to say, as he said to the parties when they came to his room, that he thought it obviously desirable from the point of view of all parties that an arrangement should be made in the matter. There were certain expressions in the letter of Mr. Yerkes which led one to think that he was not fulfilling the whole of the conditions which his predecessors had entered into. He was certainly surprised to find those expressions in the letter of a gentleman so astute as Mr. Yerkes, and for that reason he suggested an arrangement to the parties—namely, that the borough and the railway company should share between them the expense of making these subways. That would be a very desirable settlement for the benefit of the company and the public also, and he had hoped that some such arrangement would have been arrived at. Possibly something of the sort might be done before the Bill went to another place. On the strict legal interpretation of the documents, however, it seemed to him that the Committee was perfectly right in rejecting this clause. For that reason he should support the hon. Member for Gloucester.

* MR. BAMFORD SLACK (Hertfordshire, St. Albans)

said that apparently the hon. Member opposite was ignorant of the fact that this station was going to be constructed a few yards from the original site. He thought the House ought to take cognisance of the fact that the railway company was moving the site of their station in order to relieve themselves of the obligation they incurred when they made their previous bargain to construct these subways, and it was only when the now company came into existence that this bargain was departed from. The bargain as contained in Section 30 (17) of the Act of 1900 was as follows— The company may construct an under ground station with all proper and convenient lifts shafts way chambers and offices under the roadways converging near the Elephant and Castle and in connection with shall in addition to the said works construct and maintain subways near subway No. 2 for the accommodation of pedestrian traffic and such subways and the entrances thereto shall be constructed at the same time as railway No 3 is constructed and shall be opened for public traffic. …at the same as railway No. 3 or any part there of is opened for public traffic and shall be made on the general lines shown in the plan signed in duplicate by William Robert Galbraith on behalf of the company and by Arthur Harrison on behalf of the vestry and at such levels as may be agreed between the company and the vestry. With reference to the answer given to the hon. Member for Southwark to the effect that the borough council had a remedy in damages in a Court of law, he did not see why they should be put to that expense. The ratepayers did not want damages, they wanted subways. They could not, by an action at law, obtain specific performance of their bargain against the company so as to compel them to make the subways. The only practicable remedy of the borough council was not to bring an action for damages but to ask the House to pass his hon. friend's Instruction so as to compel this company to fulfil the bargain which had been made by the original company.

* MR. BAILEY (Newington, Walworth)

said that as a South London Member he felt very strongly upon this question. It appeared that the first company arranged certain matters to the satisfaction of the Southwark Borough Council, and then the project was sold to another company which refused to carry out what the former company had agreed to do. If the new company bought the undertaking they also bought the liabilities. He thought that, when a bargain of this sort

was arrived at, the House ought to insist upon it being carried out to the letter. He thought the original arrangement made by the Committee should be carried out, and he should support that course because it was for the benefit of the district he represented.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes, 133; Noes, 143. (Division List, No. 79.)

Abraham, William (Cork. N.E.) Griffith, Ellis J. O'Malley, William
Ainsworth, John (Stirling Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton O'Mara, James
Allen, Charles P. Hammond, John O'Shee, James John
Atherley-Jones, L. Harrington, Timothy Partington, Oswald
Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christch. Harwood, George Plummer, Walter R.
Barry, E. (Cork, S.) Hayden, John Patrick Power, Patrick Joseph
Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire) Helme, Norval Watson Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward
Bell, Richard Henderson, Arthur (Durham) Redmond, John E. (Waterford)
Black, Alexander William Horner, Frederick William Reid, James (Greenock)
Boland, John Horniman, Frederick John Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)
Brigg, John Hudson, George Bickersteth Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)
Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley) Robson, William Snowdon
Hurt, Thomas Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex) Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)
Caldwell, James Jones, William (Carnarvonshire Schwann, Charles E.
Campbell, John (Armagh, S.) Jordan, Jeremiah Shackleton David James
Channing, Francis Allston Joyce, Michael Sharpe, William Edward T.
Clare, Octavius Leigh Kerr, John Sheehan, Daniel Daniel
Condon, Thomas Joseph Kilbride, Denis Sheehy, David
Crean, Eugene Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool) Shipman, Dr. John G.
Cremer, William Randal Layland- Barratt, Francis Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)
Crombie, John William Leese, Sir Jos. F. (Accrington) Slack, John Bamford
Cust, Henry John C. Leigh, Sir Joseph Spencer, Rt. Hn. C. R (Northants
Dalziel, James Henry Levy, Maurice Sullivan, Donal
Davies, AlWred (Carmarthen) Lewis, John Herbert Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)
Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan Lough, Thomas Thomas, D. Alfred (Merthyr)
Delany, William Lundon, W. Tillet, Louis John
Devlin, Joseph (Kilkenny, N. Macdona, John Cumming Tuff, Charles
Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J. Waldron, Laurence Ambrose
Dobbie, Joseph Maconochie, A. W. Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.
Doogan, P. C. MacVeagh, Jeremiah Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)
Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir William Hart M'Crae, George Wason, Jn. Cathcart (Orkney)
Edwards, Frank M'Hugh, Patrick A. Weir, James Galloway
Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan) M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North) Welby, Sir Charles G. E. (Notts.
Farquharson, Dr. Robert Mooney, John J. White, Luke (York, E.R.)
Fenwick, Charles Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen) Whittaker, Thomas Palmer
Field, William Morpeth, Viscount Wilson, Henry J. (York, W.R.)
Flavin, Michael Joseph Moss, Samuel Wilson, John (Falkirk)
Flower, Sir Ernest Moulton, John Fletcher Wylie, Alexander
Foster, Sir Mich. (Lond. Univ.) Murphy, John Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.
Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.) Norton, Capt. Cecil William
Fuller, J. M. F. Nussey, Thomas Willans TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Causton and Mr. James Bailey.
Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herb, John O'Brien, K. (Tipperary, Mid.)
Goddard, Daniel Ford O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)
Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin&Nairn) O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)
Grant, Corrie O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.
Gray, Ernest (West Ham) O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)
Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F. Arrol, Sir William Balcarres, Lord
Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel Ashton, Thomas Gair Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r
Anson, Sir William Reynell Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Balfour, Rt. Hon. G. W. (Leeds
Arkwright, John Stanhope Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy Banbury, Sir Frederick George
Arnold-Forster, Rt. Hn. Hugh O Bain, Colonel James Robert Bignold, Arthur
Bigwood, James Hare, Thomas Leigh Peel, Hn. Wm. Robert Wellesley
Blundell, Colonel Henry Harris, F. Leverton (Tynem'th Percy, Karl
Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John Hay, Hon. Claude George Perks, Robert William
Brown, George M. (Edinburgh) Heath, A. Howard (Hanley) Platt-Higgins, Frederick
Burdett-Coutts, W. Heath, James (Staffords., N.W. Powell, Sir Francis Sharp
Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H. Henderson, Sir A. (Stafford, W. Pretyman, Ernest George
Cavendish, V.C.W. (Derbyshire Hickman, Sir Alfred Randles, John S.
Cawley, Frederick Hope, J. F. (Sheffield, Brightside Rasch, Sir Frederic Carne
Clive, Captain Percy A. Hozier, Hn. James Henry Cecil Reddy, M.
Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E. Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse Renwick, George
Coghill, Douglas Harry Jeffreys, Rt. Hon. Arthur Fred. Rickett, J. Compton
Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Jones, D. Brynmor (Swansea) Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)
Colomb, Rt. Hon. Sir John C.R Kearley, Hudson E. Rose, Charles Day
Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole King, Sir Henry Seymour Round, Rt. Hon. James
Craig, Chas. Curtis (Antrim, S.) Knowles, Sir Lees Rutherford, John (Lancashire)
Crossley, Rt. Hon. Sir Savile Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm. Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford
Davenport, William Bromley Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow) Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander
Davies, Sir H. D. (Chatham) Lawrence, Sir Jos. (Monmouth) Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)
Denny, Colonel Lawson, Jn. G. (Yorks., N. R.) Scott, Sir S. (Karylebone, W.)
Dickson, Charles Scott Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cornwall) Skewes-Cox, Thomas
Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph Lee, A. H. (Hants., Fareham) Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Lees, Sir Elliott (Berkenhead) Spear, John Ward
Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark) Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Lancs.
Doxford, Sir William Theodore Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Elibank, Master of Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham) Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M.
Faber, Edmund B. (Hants, W.) Lonsdale, John Brownlee Tuke, Sir John Batty
Faber, George Denison (York) Lowther, Rt. Hn. J W (Cum. Penr. Valentia, Viscount
Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward Loyd, Archie Kirkman Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)
Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Manc. Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth Walrond, Rt. Hn. Sir William H.
Finch, Rt. Hon. George H. Lyell, Charles Henry Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)
Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool) Warde, Colonel C. E.
Fitzroy, Hn. Edward Algernon M'Kean, John Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)
Flannery, Sir Fortescue Malcolm, Ian Whitmore, Charles Algernon
Forster, Henry William Maxwell, Rt Hn. Sir H. E (Wigt'n Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.
Fyler, John Arthur Maxwell, W.J.H. (Dumfriessh. Wilson-Todd, Sir W. H. (Yorks.)
Gardner, Ernest Milner, Rt. Hn. Sir Frederick G. Wrightson, Sir Thomas
Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk. Morrison, James Archibald Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Gore, Hn G. R. C. Ormsby- (Salop Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong
Gore, Hon. S. F. Ormsby- (Linc. Mount, William Arthur Younger, William
Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon Murray, Rt. Hon. A. G. (Bute)
Goulding, Edward Alfred Murray, Charles J. (Coventry) TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Russell Rea and Mr. Nicholson.
Greene, Henry D.(Shrewsbury) Newdegate, Francis A. N.
Gretton, John Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)
Hamilton, Marq. of (L'nd'nderry Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)

Amendments made to the Bill.

Bill to be read the third time.