§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ Mr. WARDLE
I rise to move the Amendment, which stands in my name, to leave out the word "now," and to add at the end of the Question the words, "upon this day three months."
I do so on the grounds of a Clause which is contained in the Bill itself. On this occasion I do not propose to travel outside the scope of the Bill we are considering. This Bill, in addition to being concerned with many important matters affecting the North-Eastern Railway Company, also affects very largely the City of Hull. In this Bill it is proposed to cancel all the rights and privileges which the citizens of Hull have enjoyed for many years in getting to the banks of the Humber, and instead of that right there is to be erected over the docks and quays of the North-Eastern Railway Company an overhead promenade. This right, which the people of Hull have enjoyed for a long time, has been safeguarded by the House of Commons in all the Bills which have hitherto been promoted dealing with the docks and quays in Hull. In 1861 the Hull Dock Company was formed which came to the House of Commons for powers to construct a dock on the banks of the Humber, and 578 that Committee was established. It had power given to it to erect docks, but in that Act was inserted provisions for safeguarding the rights of the public and the citizens of Hull. Those rights are contained in Clauses 34, 35 and 36 of the Act of 1861, and in order that the House may be in possession of the facts I propose to read these Clauses. Clause 34 says:—The company shall allow a right of footway during the daytime only along the river wall to be made by them adjoining to the River Humber; and in the event of their inclosing the new dock by a wall or fence to be erected on the southern side thereof, they shall leave a footway between such wall or fence and the river wall of not less than twelve feet in width, with proper and sufficient access thereto at the eastern and western ends thereof, and when the dock is so inclosed such footway shall be open day and night.Clause 35 provides as follows:—The company shall provide and maintain three proper and sufficient flights of landing steps at some convenient part of the face of their works adjoining to the River Humber for the convenience of persons landing or embarking thereat or therefrom.And Clause 36 says:—The landing steps shall be free for the use of passengers and their luggage coming into or departing from the borough.These rights, which have been exercised for a long time before that, were secured in this particular statute, and when in 1893 the Hull Dock Company became extinct and was transferred with all its powers to the North-Eastern Railway Company, the same Clauses giving the same rights and privileges to the citizens of Hull were incorporated in that Act. In 1889 the North-Eastern Railway Company, having in view apparently the acquirement of the docks, brought forward a Bill in this House to make a quay along the front of the Docks. That Bill was fought very fiercely by the Hull Corporation, and eventually it was, I believe, withdrawn. In 1905 the Hull Corporation came forward with similar proposals, and their scheme was fought equally fiercely by the North-Eastern Railway Company, and their Bill was also defeated. Nevertheless, the North-Eastern Railway Company in the same year obtained powers to make the quay they were seeking to make alongside the river bank. When they got those 579 powers there was put into their Bill Clauses protecting the rights of the citizens of Hull and allowing them the use of the bank of the Humber.
We now come to the present position. The Hull Corporation had hitherto been concerned with protecting the rights of the citizens of Hull on the banks of the Humber, but when the North-Eastern Railway Company got their scheme through they found that they could not get the best use of the quay without erecting cranes and rails close to the water which this footway had prevented them using to the best advantage. The erection of these cranes so close to the water led the Hull Corporation to start an action against the North-Eastern Railway Company for an injunction to compel them to move the cranes in order to allow the public the right of way which they had hitherto exercised. That action was entered in the High Courts and proceeded, but for some reason or other the negotiations began between the company and the corporation, and at last they were concluded, and by the casting vote of the Mayor of Hull the terms were accepted which are contained in this Bill for the erection of a promenade over the docks and the quays. It may be asked why do we come here and try to upset an arrangement which has been arrived at between the Hull Corporation and the North-Eastern Railway Company. The matter is simple. The House of Commons is the final arbiter in these matters. The Hull Corporation and the North-Eastern Railway Company may make a bargain, but this House has to ratify that bargain, before it becomes effective. This House is the court which should settle whether that bargain ought to be ratified or not.
We think there are excellent reasons why this House should not ratify a bargain of this kind, adopted merely by the casting vote of the mayor of Hull. Why do I say that? When the people of Hull found out the position they were in they at once began to object. The Hull Trades Council has taken a leading part in objecting to this Bill. Public meetings have been held in the various wards of the town. A large public meeting was held in the centre of the town, and there is a strong feeling in the city of Hull against this House ratifying the bargain between the North-Eastern Railway Company and the Hull Corporation. I think if this House will agree to postpone this ill for three months and let the November elections 580 come round, hon. Members will find that there will be no majority on the new Hull Council in favour of this Bill. I have here, as evidence of the facts which I have put before the House, a petition which, unfortunately, was not got up in quite the proper form, but it is signed by no less than 7,600 citizens of Hull, who are against this Bill being passed by this House. I am told, and I believe on reliable authority, that if there were only more time, instead of 7,600, the probability is double that number of the citizens of Hull would sign a petition to this House not to pass the Bill. I cannot see how we are to be compelled to ratify a bargain made under these circumstances. Of course, in the ordinary run of events, I admit a bargain, between a corporation and a railway company or between any two parties ought to be ratified; but I think the giving away by the corporation, on the simple casting vote of the Mayor, of rights which have been exercised by the citizens of Hull for many generations is too extreme a step to ask this House to agree to it, and therefore I move that this Bill be read a second time this day three months.
§ Mr. ALBERT SMITH
I beg to second the Motion of my hon. Friend. The Bill now before us is the culmination of a long series of fights between the corporation and the railway company respecting public rights of way on the quay side. The company have been gaining all the time until the last piece of any right of way that can be properly so termed has been wiped away by this Bill. The corporation fought for this right of way on the Bill of 1861. Certain Clauses were put in that Bill, and in every subsequent Bill of the railway company for extending its docks the same or similar Clauses were inserted; but except for the very doubtful advantage of having an overhead roadway all the rights of way have been clean wiped away by this Bill. Another Clause in the Bill gives the company powers of compulsory purchase with regard to the remaining strip of land that the corporation can ever hope to hold and which the citizens have enjoyed for years and years. It ought to be pointed out that the Corporation of Hull took a ballot of the ratepayers as to whether they should erect a quay or not, and there was a majority in favour of the corporation proceeding with that proposal of over 10,000 votes. There were only just over 3,000 of the people of Hull who voted against the proposition. The Bill came 581 before this House and went up to the House of Lords. It was opposed there by the North-Eastern Railway Company in July and thrown out. In August of the same year the company "resurrected" the 1889 Bill and got it passed through the House of Lords, giving them power to erect a similar quay to that proposed by the corporation. All along the interests of the burgesses and citizens of Hull have been sold or given away to the railway company.
The sanction of the corporation to the Bill has only been given on the casting vote of the mayor. I have had some experience of corporation life, having had the honour and privilege of occupying the mayoral chair of my own corporation for two years, and I feel there are very few people occupying similar positions in the country who would have given a vote of that character on their own responsibility and without consulting the ratepayers. I ought to say that out of the twenty-three who with the mayor composed the majority, nine were aldermen. It is a very serious matter to the ordinary ratepayer, who has been brought up to regard certain portions of the estate as belonging to his own town, and as kept up by the rates and the money he earns so hardly, to be deprived of those rights. I am of opinion that the mayor in giving that casting vote sold, and sold in a very bad bargain, rights which it never ought to have been attempted to sell. The result has been that the only thing the citizens have got in return is this overhead footway, and a councillor of some standing—not one of the railway party—said it was no substitute for the rights they had previously enjoyed. The only portion of a footway which will be on the quayside in future will be at least eight yards from the river front, and the company may erect sheds all along the line, and, by so doing, make it practically impossible for the citizens to enjoy the rights they have had. The memorandum issued by the promoters of the Bill convinces me there has been something not quite of the character of public spirit attached to this business. It says the company, while admitting the existence of a right of way somewhere, denies that a right of way exists along the edge of the quay, or, in fact, that there is any defined footway at all. It is quite easy for anybody who has followed the development of the dock estate to see that every time the company were swallowing up the footway, and now they come and say there 582 is no defined footway at all. The whole thing is in another paragraph, which says:It is respectfully submitted it is contrary to public policy that a settlement arrived at in such circumstances and agreed to by the corporation as representing the public of the district should be set aside at the instance of certain members of the community.I do not like those words, "certain members of the community," and had I been a resident of that city and my rights were given away to a monopoly, I should certainly have been offended to be called a certain member of the community, without any qualification at all.
Every hon. Member of this House who has served on a public body knows how difficult it is for corporations to acquire land for public building or roadways, and how dearly they have to pay for it. It makes them, therefore, all the more careful that once something has been obtained for the benefit of the community, for the administration of whose affairs they are responsible, it shall be retained in the interests of those whom they represent. In this case it is hardly fair that by reason of the action of one single man who possessed the right to vote twice, the rights of the people should be surrendered. I do not believe it is really the wish of the corporation, and therefore I hope this House will pass the Motion of my hon. Friend and delay further proceeding with this scheme until the railway company is prepared to give something more substantial as an equivalent for what they are taking from the people. Bearing in mind that practically the whole frontage of the River Humber, where people have walked for generation upon generation, will be taken away from the public for the future, and remembering, too, that this scheme was only carried by the casting vote of the Mayor, I do press the Committee to agree to defer the Second Reading. If they do that I am perfectly sure a big majority of the citizens of Hull will be delighted to have a little more grace for the consideration of this very serious question.
§ Viscount CASTLEREAGH
The two hon. Gentlemen who have practically moved the rejection of this Bill have made very interesting speeches, but I have endeavoured in vain to discover exactly what is their objection to it. I know, of course, that the opposition arises in connection with Clause 24, but I do think they should have given some indication of what it is in that Clause they object to. I believe both are Members for Lancashire Divisions, 583 and I do not know with what authority they speak for the people of Hull. The hon. Member for Stockport simply claimed that he was "credibly informed with regard to various matters." I do not think that the hon. Gentleman who seconded went even as far as that.
§ Mr. ALBERT SMITH
I spoke with the same authority as my hon. Friend, on behalf of the Trades Council of Hull and other bodies.
§ Viscount CASTLEREAGH
After all, the case is a very simple one. It is obvious that if the claim made by the Corporation to a right over the footway along the edge of the riverside quay had been upheld by the court the very object for which the quay was constructed would be absolutely defeated. No doubt hon. Gentlemen will remember that in the original Bill there was a provision, in Clause 14, for the purpose of removing the alleged rights of way. After a certain amount of negotiation with the corporation they were induced to withdraw Clause 14 and to insert, under an agreement with the corporation, the present Clause 24. The Bill has passed through the House of Lords, and I would like to point out that now the position of the company is different to what it was previously, they have put in this Clause by agreement, and it is impossible for them to revert to the position in which they were before. The two speakers have told us that the Resolution was passed by the casting vote of the mayor. I believe the original motion was carried by 23 to 19.
What this House is asked to do now is to delay proceeding with a Bill involving an expenditure of £450,000 for the expansion of industry—a Bill for the benefit of all classes of the community. With respect to the Clause to which so much objection is taken I confess I found nothing whatsoever in the speech of the two hon. Gentlemen to justify us in practically destroying the Bill. The Mover said it would abrogate the privileges of the people of Hull. The Seconder said the rights of the people of Hull would be wiped out, and he also talked about the doubtful advantages of an overhead footway. It will be admitted on all sides that there have been a certain number of complaints from passengers and from merchants as to the great difficulties engendered by the public use of this quay. I 584 am sure hon. Gentlemen in the interests of business in a place like Hull would not like to see continued an obstruction of this kind. The individuals who use the quay at the present moment go there more for the purpose of promenading and sight-seeing. They like to watch the ships enter the harbour, but I do not think that anyone will suggest that the footpath is ever used for mere progression from one definite point to another, especially during the rush of business.
I will go further, and say that if anyone desires to go from one part of the harbour to the other he can go by an excellent roadway which is also available. What is the right which hon. Gentlemen are appealing for? Simply the right of the people of Hull to wander about amidst the docks of one of the most important and busy working towns in this country and hamper the proceedings for which the erection of this quay was intended. To move the rejection of the Bill on these grounds is surely a course which will not be upheld by a majority of this House. The proposal of the company, after consultation and agreement with the corporation, is to supply an overhead footpath. This footway will cost the company some £5,000, and as to these individuals of Hull who desire to take this nice walk, to promenade and see the sights of Hull, which no doubt they are entitled to do, this pathway will fulfil all requirements. I believe the House will consider the question on its merits. I am sorry that when a Bill of this great magnitude comes up it does not command the interest of hon. Gentlemen as it ought to do. I hope the House will see that this is really an important Bill and that it is an unfortunate proceeding on the part of Gentlemen below the Gangway to try to obstruct a measure, which carries so much benefit to the surrounding country, simply by putting forward a case that Clause 24 abrogates the rights of the people of Hull. It must be understood that the quay will not be closed to those who are anxious to go there on business. That is not the intention of the company, and if you consider it, it would not be to their interest to impede any individual who had any business which would take him to the quay. All those who are desirous of spending a pleasant evening will have this overhead footpath twelve feet in breadth, and I think any reasonably minded individual in this House will agree that it satisfies all the requirements. I hope the House will not accept the Motion.
§ Mr. JAMES PARKER
I rise mainly to object to the imputation made by the Noble Lord that this is a factious opposition on our part. He did not use the word, but that is what he implied. As a matter of fact we never take up these cases of opposing private Bills in this House until considerable pressure has been brought to bear upon us, by people who hold opinions like our own, and who have no direct representatives of their views through their Members in this House. And therefore we do not put opposition forward, and we have not done so in this case, without inquiry. We realise quite as much as the Noble Lord does that it will give employment to a large number of people, and will also provide labour for a certain number of people. We are interested as much as he is in the commerce of the nation, but we do not realise the necessity of allowing the North-Eastern Railway Company to carry through a project of this character when 50 per cent, of the representatives of the Hull Corporation are against them. The Noble Lord spoke about people going down there for pleasure and being in the way of business. I know something of Hull docks and also of Grimsby docks. They are open to the whole of the public. You will see thousands of people going about these docks, and they do not seriously interfere with the traffic.
I have myself seen hundreds of times these people watching the unloading of grain and timber, but what the company are trying to do in this case, though they will not succeed without a protest from us, is to take over to themselves the whole of the rights of the ordinary citizens of Hull in this river frontage, which represent to them something much greater than the Noble Lord seems to think. He can take his holidays where he pleases—it may be Monte Carlo or the Riviera, but the only breath of the sea breezes which these people can get is from the banks of the River Humber, which, I am sorry to say, is not always as sweet and pleasant as it might be. This Bill would deprive them of that, and hence we protest. I do object to the suggestion that the Labour representatives in their opposition to this Bill are conducting in any sense a factious opposition. We oppose these Bills because we conscientiously believe we have a right to do so, and especially do we think we are right when we have been specially requested to do so by 7,000 ratepayers. It comes with a bad grace from hon. Gentlemen opposite to make these suggestions, when not very long ago they took up the 586 time of the House whilst scores of them rose to defend one individual, and to obtain for him a large sum of money as compensation from the Government. As for factious opposition, that is one thing we have never done and never will do—either with regard to private or public Bills.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. Tennant)
I have no objection to the Member for Stockport raising this matter upon this particular Bill. He has given a perfectly accurate description of the history of this controversy, and, if I may say so, he is perfectly within his rights in bringing this case forward because he is particularly jealous of the rights of the citizens where rights of way are concerned. If I thought for a moment that public rights were being taken away and that nothing was being put in their place I should give him my hearty support, but I think there is more importance to be attached to the new overhead way as a substitute for the old footway than he has given to it. Although I do not pretend to local knowledge, I should have thought, in being allowed to use the old quay for business purposes and the new footway for purposes of pleasure, the people of Hull were getting something better than they had before. I am inclined to view this case as a quarrel between the corporation and the railway company, and it appears the Mayor of Hull gave his casting vote in favour of this compromise which was come to between the corporation and the company. I would ask the House to consider whether, owing to this quarrel between the corporation of Hull and the railway company, it is desirable to throw out a Bill which is going to do so many things as it is admitted this Bill will do. In the first place it is going to increase the length of the North-Eastern Railway by 10¾ miles, and it will widen railways and roads both in Yorkshire and Northumberland. It is going to provide for the abolition of several level crossings, and it is to raise £600,000—not £450,000, as the Noble Lord said—which presumably will go in railway undertakings and enterprise generally, which will obviously give a large amount of employment to the working classes. That is the problem we have to consider. Is it desirable because of this quarrel between the corporation and the railway company to do away with that altogether? Speaking on behalf of the Board of Trade I am bound to say I cannot give my vote in opposition to letting the Bill go forward. 587 It may have been an unfortunate circumstance that this arrangement was only come to by so small a majority as the casting vote of the Mayor. I regret that, but I cannot advise the House of Commons on behalf of the Board of Trade not to give the Bill a Second Reading.
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ Sir ALFRED GELDER
The statements that the hon. Member (Mr. Wardle) made in respect to the history of this question I believe to be correct, but the misfortune which has attended him and others who have spoken in making those statements is that they have not known quite enough of the actual circumstances which have produced the issue in question. I quite agree with him that the rights of the public must be maintained, and that there may be a tendency on the part of railway companies and other bodies to restrict those rights in the neighbourhood of large towns. I admit also the history of this matter which has been mentioned that along the River Humber from time immemorial there has been a footpath, but to my certain knowledge it has not been used except by very few for the purpose of going from one place to the other, but rather as a promenade on the river side. In 1861 we are told the dock company obtained an Act which diverted this footpath. They enclosed some of the low lying ground between the footpath and the river, and therefore the footpath was diverted to the outside of their undertaking. In 1895 the railway company promoted another Bill whereby they claimed a certain amount of water from the Humber to make what is called a riverside quay. It is quite true that the corporation promoted a scheme before for the same purpose, and it was thrown out in the House of Lords. When the company obtained their power to make this riverside quay they had a clause inserted extending the footpath to the front side of the quay, and during the progress of those works the corporation pressed the railway company to allow the public the use of this footpath. The company left the matter in abeyance until the work was completed. That Act of Parliament not only provided for the quay but also for facilities for working the passenger service, which Hull had not before that time, but which was obtained through this Act of Parliament, to the Continent at all states of the tide. The Bill also included all facilities for loading and unloading passengers' luggage and trans- 588 ferred goods, and also powers to run trains close to the riverside quay for the carrying of passengers. The company therefore saw that it was very difficult to maintain the footpath in the position where the corporation desired that it should be maintained, and they made overtures to them, not for giving the footpath up, not for obliterating it, but for diverting it into a safer place for those who promenaded along the side of the river. The corporation were not satisfied at that time with the suggestion of the railway company, and they took steps to obtain an injunction. For reasons which could not be publicly stated, it was thought advisable that instead of trying the case on an injunction, they should allow the matter to be adjudicated upon by a Committee of the Houses of Parliament. I fortunately, or unfortunately, happened to be a member of a subcommittee of the corporation of six or seven members who had charge of these negotiations, and I must demur from the statement of my hon. Friend who seconded the Amendment with respect to the action of the corporation in this matter. The sub-committee had all the facts of the case. On the one hand they had the North Eastern Railway Company maintaining, on the advice of their counsel, that they had no defined position for this footpath whatever. On the other hand the corporation distinctly claimed that they had a right to the footpath in the exact position. On that committee there were three ex-Mayors who had considerable experience in municipal affairs in Hull. There were four other members, two of them labour members elected by the trades council. One of the labour members voted with the remaining six in favour of the arrangement which was come to and which is embodied in this Bill, and out of the seven there was only one member who opposed that settlement.
Then the matter came before a larger committee of eighteen, and out of that body I believe there were not more than three who voted against the arrangement which had been made between the corporation and the company. That body met with closed doors, and it is always a very difficult matter when you are negotiating with a railway company or a dock company who conduct their affairs in private, and who have not to give all their opinions to the public, to negotiate a matter of this kind. These eighteen men had the advice of our town clerk, a very capable man, who strongly urged a settlement on the lines of 589 the Bill, and they also had the advice of very eminent practicing counsel, who advised that in a matter of this kind it was wise for both parties that some compromise should be reached. The committee had not only the advice of counsel, but they were strongly urged by their own town clerk for reasons which it would not be wise to state here, any more than in the full corporation of Hull, to accept the arrangement which would, to a very great extent, meet the difficulty on the Second Beading of the Bill. Again and again, in my capacity as a member of the corporation, I have had to fight the North-Eastern Railway Company, and so notorious has the Hull Corporation become in the Committee Rooms upstairs in relation to their attitude to railway companies that it has become a proverb and a by-word among Parliamentary counsel that they were their best clients for some years. It is very unfortunate that the Seconder of the Amendment made some suggestions that the small majority of the corporation had been in some way influenced by the railway company. I rather deprecate the suggestions, because in that body I know men who are absolutely above suspicion; but the most painful thing to me was the statement of the hon. Member that the mayor of Hull had sold the town. I think I took down his words correctly. I think the hon. Member would not have suggested that if he had thought who the mayor is. I do not think he really meant all that was conveyed by these suggestions.
§ Mr. ALBERT SMITH
I do not know that I made the statement in the best way. What I intended to say was that it appeared to me that on the second vote the interests of the burgesses had been sold; but perhaps the word "sold" was not the best word to use. It was the word which came to me at the moment.
§ Sir A. GELDER
I am sure the hon. Member did not mean to convey what the word implied. I do not know a more honourable, straight forward, and just man than the present Mayor of Hull. Much has been made of the fact that in the Corporation of Hull the resolution was only carried by a majority of one. The Parliamentary Committee of the Corporation, a smaller body, who knew all the circumstances of this case, could not put all the circumstances, including counsel's opinion and the opinion of their own solicitor, on the minutes, because these things are often used by those against whom they have to fight. It would not have been 590 wise to state all their reasons in the open council, and on that account many members of the corporation voted on this question without full information, such as was in possession of the Parliamentary Committee. There is no dispute about the right to a footpath, but there is a dispute about the position of the footpath. The corporation say it should be just outside the quay, and in meeting the railway company in this matter they have obtained the footpath in a position a little different from where they wished it to be. Whether they have a right to it in a position on the quay or not, this Bill will actually settle and define for all time where the footpath shall be.
The only objection that can possibly be raised is that where there are electric cranes in use people will be diverted and will have to go overhead for the distance of the portion used as a passenger pier. They get the footpath just as before, but for a distance of between twenty and thirty feet it is elevated. People who go there to promenade will have a better view than before. Certainly what is proposed to be done will not in any way restrict the view of those who wish to take advantage of the footpath. I have had the opportunity of seeing a plan and section of this overhead footpath. I think it is a very good substitute for the footpath below, which, according to the railway company, was undefined, and according to the corporation was at the river front. The company in order to effect this alteration are spending £5,000 on the footpath. Surely that is a considerable sum for the company to spend?
If this Bill is not allowed to be carried, the company's riverside quay, on which they have spent £200,000, cannot be effectively used for the purpose of landing passengers, and for the use of electric cranes for the landing of luggage. Speaking from the commercial point of view, I think that if the North-Eastern Railway Company were restricted, it would be a bad job for them, for passengers and for the city of Hull. My hon. Friend called attention to a petition signed by 7,000 inhabitants. There are 50,000 inhabitants in Hull, and no one knows better than the hon. Member how easy it is to get up a petition of this description. I hope the House will not pay too much attention to a petition signed by 7,000 out of 50,000 inhabitants. I would ask the hon. Member, even at this late stage, to withdraw his Amendment. He will have an oppor- 591 tunity, if he is not satisfied after the Bill has been, before a Private Bill Committee, of opposing the Bill. I think it is a little unfair to those who know exactly all the circumstances to block the Bill at the present stage.
If it was not necessary for anyone on these benches to speak in regard to this. Bill before the hon. Member for Brigg (Sir W. Gelder) commenced his speech it appears to me that there is some reason for doing so now. The Noble Lord (Lord Castlereagh) criticised the opposition to this Bill on the ground that it was confined to Clause 24. That is obviously the case, because the whole opposition, so far as we are concerned, rests upon Clause 24, the Clause which provides for taking away a public right of way enjoyed for a long time by the people of Hull, and substituting for it a raised footway. I was rather surprised, and not a little amused, to hear the Noble Lord say that our complaint was simply that people are to be prevented by Clause 24 from loitering on the quayside and standing in the way of business. Obviously if they go on the premises of the company, and get in the way of business, and these premises are where the old footway was, I take it that is the whole thing we are contending for. I was further surprised to hear the hon. Member for Brigg, who I believe is interested in Hull, give the case away. He dwelt on the generosity of the railway company, who, he said, are going to expend £5,000. But then it appears that they were going to expend £5,000 in order to safeguard £200,000 which they had already spent. So it appears that the real crux of the situation is this. In the first place the North-Eastern Railway Company have dumped down where they had no business to do and built their quay.
According to the case which my hon. Friend made out I understood that the title that the North-Eastern Company had in regard to this quay was limited by a safeguarding of the rights of the people in regard to this particular piece of ground and footway that we are contesting. If that is not so my whole argument falls to the ground. But if that is so it does appear to me that the railway company have dumped themselves down and developed activity upon ground which 592 was really not their ground at all, but belonged to the people of Hull. I notice also that the hon. Member for Brigg said that this footway would be no inconvenience to the people but would be a nice and easy route to follow, and he drew also a pleasant picture of the extensive view of the quay which could be obtained from the elevated position. Does he mean to tell us that it is not inconvenient for some people to climb up steps to an elevation of twenty-five feet, or that it is as easy to go up steps as to go along the level? He knows quite well that it is going to be inconvenient to the people of Hull, and the very fact that a fight, is being engaged in is proof positive that those people have been using the right and regard it as a valuable right.
I notice even that the sub-title at the commencement of Clause 24 refers to the abolition of footways on the Hull dock estate, showing evidently that it is taking away something that the people of Hull had a right to. I am not getting up for the sake of obstruction, but I do think that there is a case to be made out. If the Corporation of Hull, as the elected representatives of the people, had decided by a big majority, for my part I would say "this is the voice of democracy, and so far as I am concerned I have nothing more to say. They may be making a mistake, but theirs is the responsibility, and they must bear the consequences of their mistake." But we find that the council, from which information was deliberately withheld according to the advocate who has just spoken, voted equally upon the matter, and the Mayor had to give a casting vote in order that action should betaken. It is usual in such assemblies for the Mayor or chairman to give his casting vote to maintain the status quo. Whether that is so or not, it does appear to us that there cannot be any great harm in postponing it. I notice that the hon. Gentleman on the Front Bench appealed to us not to destroy the whole Bill for the sake of a Clause. I think I shall have the agreement of those who sit near me in suggesting that we might be allowed to make a bargain.
There are sixty Clauses. We will let them have the other fifty-nine so far as we are concerned if they withdraw Clause 24. If we do not do that they cannot blame us for holding back the whole of the Bill when we are prepared to let fifty-nine-sixtieths of it go through if only that one Clause is withdrawn. I notice that 593 Section 11 is for the protection of the Duke of Northumberland. So far as I am concerned I do not want to withdraw protection from the Duke of Northumberland. I notice that another Noble Lord, Lord Ridley, has to be protected too, and I am quite willing to let the protection of that Noble Lord also go by the board if we arrive at some satisfactory understanding. Putting all fun on one side, so far as we are concerned we do look on this question as a serious question. We believe that the rights of the public are being imperceptibly almost, but not the less surely, whittled away day by day more and more, and that these various companies, such as the North-Eastern Railway Company are for ever encroaching, a little here and a little there, and we think it is time that this should cease. The hon. Member for Brigg appealed to my hon. Friend to withdraw his Motion. I hope he will not do so. I hope he will proceed with the Bill. If he does so he can rely upon the support of myself and most, if not all, of my hon. Friends who are sitting near me.
§ Mr. BALDWIN
Two points require a little elucidation before we go to a Division. I agree that this is a very serious question. I do not think any railway company would be so foolish as to run its head straight against a very strong popular feeling in a matter of this kind. I understood the hon. Member for Clitheroe (Mr. A. Smith) to say that the objection of the Corporation of Hull was to the alteration of the footpath and also to the transfer by sale of the western reservation, which formed the only part of the Corporation estate in that part of Hull, to the monopoly of a railway company. I think I am correct in that.
§ Mr. BALDWIN
Will the hon. Member explain to the House—I am sure it would be of great interest to every Member who has listened to the Debate—how it is
§ that the Corporation of Hull, which is so reluctant to part with its western reservation to a railway company, after the North-Eastern Bill was deposited, offered that identical piece of land to the Hull and Barnsley Railway Company. I am sure that it would enlighten us considerably. If the hon. Member is unable to answer that question we shall be very pleased to hear an explanation from some Member sitting on that bench. The other point on which I want a little elucidation is this: We are told that all Hull is seething, but I should like to know where the representatives of Hull are. Are they seething, and, if so, where?
§ Mr. BOOTH
I have occasionally been in the position of fighting a Private Bill, but, my hon. Friends having put their point before the House, I think it is desirable that this Bill should go before the Committee upstairs. The point is somewhat of a Committee point. Earlier in the Session I fought one or two Private Bills, and I found that the points which I raised in regard to them were all faithfully dealt with afterwards by the Committee upstairs, who had taken very careful note of the arguments brought forward. It does seem to me that after so much money has been spent this Bill should be read a second time. It affects my Constituency—I will be quite frank about it—where short time is being worked already, in some instances one or two days a week. I do hope my hon. Friends will not stand in the way of a good scheme like this which leads to the employment of labour and to the increase of business facilities. It will give the colliers in my district a chance of getting coal to Hull and on board ship, and also the expectation that they may be able to earn more money, while prosperity is brought to the district round about Old Pontefract.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 107; Noes, 62.595
|Division No. 270.]||AYES.||[9.30 p.m.|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Barton, W.||Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Bathurst, Hon A. B. (Glouc., E.)||Cawley, Harold T. (Heywood)|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Bathurst, Charles (Wilton)||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)|
|Allen, A. A. (Dumbartonshire)||Beck, Arthur Cecil||Clay, Captain H. H. Spender|
|Anderson, Andrew Macbeth||Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Clyde, J. Avon|
|Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R.||Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish-||Collins, G. P. (Greenock)|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Booth, Frederick Handel||Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.|
|Baird, J. L.||Bridgeman, W. Clive||Craik, Sir Henry|
|Balcarres, Lord||Brocklehurst, W. B.||Denman, Hon. R. D.|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Bryce, J. Annan||Doughty, Sir George|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Byles, Sir William Pollard||Essex, Richard Walter|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Eyres-Monsell, B. M.|
|Barnston, H.||Cassel, Felix||Fell, Arthur|
|Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward||Lewisham, Viscount||Sanders, Robert A.|
|Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead)||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Furness, Stephen||MacNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine)||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Gibson, Sir James P.||M'Callum, John M.||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||M'Curdy, C. A.||Stewart, Gershom|
|Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||M'Laren, Walter S. B. (Ches., Crewe)||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)|
|Gulland, John W.||Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Hall, Fred (Dulwich)||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Talbot, Lord E.|
|Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Morgan, George Hay||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Hamersley, A. St. George||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Tennant, Harold John|
|Haworth, Sir Arthur A.||Needham, Christopher T.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Higham, John Sharp||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster)||Ure, Rt. Hon Alexander|
|Hoare, S. J. G.||Nuttall, Harry||Valentia, Viscount|
|Home, E. (Surrey, Guildford)||Paget, Almeric Hugh||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|Hunter, W. (Govan)||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)||Whitley, Rt. Hon. J. H.|
|Illingworth, Percy H.||Pole-Carew, Sir R.||Williamson, Sir A.|
|Jardine, E. (Somerset, E.)||Pollock, Ernest Murray||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Jessel, Captain H. M.||Radford, G. H.||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Joynson-Hicks, William||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Kebty-Fletcher, J. R.||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|King, J. (Somerset, N.)||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Viscount Castlereagh and Sir W. A. Gelder.|
|Kyffin-Taylor, G.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Hancock, J. G.||O'Shee, James John|
|Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Barnes, G. N.||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Richards, Thomas|
|Boland, John Plus||Hayden, John Patrick||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Hodge, John||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Brace, William||Hudson, Walter||Roche, John (Galway, E.)|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, N.)||Hughes, S. L.||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Kellaway, Frederick George||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Cotton, William Francis||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Stanley, Albert (Staffs., N.W.)|
|Crooks, William||Lansbury, George||Sutton, John E.|
|Crumley, Patrick||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Wadsworth, J.|
|Dawes, J. A.||Levy, Sir Maurice||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Delany, William||Lynch, A. A.||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Devlin, Joseph||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Doris, W.||MacNeill, John G. S. (Donegal, South)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Macpherson, James Ian||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Meagher, Michael||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Nolan, Joseph||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Wardle and Mr. Pointer.|
|Gill, A. H.||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Goldstone, Frank||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
Question put, and agreed to.