§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ Mr. ESSEX
I beg leave to move as an Amendment to omit the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months,"
I do so in order to see whether we can elicit some further information from the promoters of this measure. This bridge is one of a secondary importance, but I think I am justified in calling the attention of the House to the scheme, because it is not altogether unconnected with the amenities of the building in which we are gathered together. This new bridge, whatever it may be like, will fix for many long years to come the view from the Terrace of this House, and will complete a splendid parallelogram. I take exception to this scheme, because I do not think it is possible to get a bridge worthy of the name for £240,000, which is the price estimated for this structure. That is the sum which has been laid down as adequate for this bridge, including all the expenses connected with the approaches thereto. I object to it because I do not feel easy about the gradient. The gradient of the present bridge is by no means an easy one, and I do not see how in view of the necessary head room this bridge will, upon the lines proposed in this Bill, possibly be other than a bridge with a very steep gradient. I am told that the gradient proposed by the London County Council will be as steep as that of South-wark Bridge. [An HON. MEMBER: "Steeper."] Well, I want to keep within the limits. Everybody knows that South-wark Bridge has been proved to be a failure by the very fact that its steepness prohibits much traffic, and that has been so fully recognised by the City fathers that it is not long since we had a proposal from them to entirely reconstruct that bridge also.
Somebody will probably say that there are difficulties in the way of making a bridge at this particular point unless the condition of a steep gradient is admitted.
633 I quite see the difficulty, but knowing, as we all do, how exceeding fortunate London is in regard to the staff of the county council permanent officials, which includes architects, engineers, and others, I cannot help feeling that if the plans had been of a more adequate nature and more of a truly imperial character, those officials might have been trusted to put down a bridge with a better gradient, and one in all respects worthy of the site on which they seek to erect this structure. No bridge within the area of London ought to be so narrow as this is proposed. It is altogether too narrow, not merely from the point of view of dignity, but also from the point of view of convenience. If you are only going to have a bridge of a width not much more than is necessary for the ever-increasing traffic of London needs, and which has to accommodate foot passengers, why not let it remain as it is at the present time. I lay it down as a maxim that we ought to permit no new London bridge to be erected which will not make full provision for the after-passage of tramcars across it, and this bridge can never permit that. The difficulty arises as to gradient. If in the near future you require anything in the way of an electrified system over this new bridge, as is now the case over Westminster Bridge and Vauxhall Bridge, you cannot have it under the present scheme, and your troubles will be greatly increased.
It has been said by the promoters of this Bill that the approaches and roads leading to Lambeth Bridge are unimportant and narrow, and that the bridge itself will be wider than any of those streets contributing traffic to it. That may be perfectly true as it applies at the present moment, but will London be content for long with the small amount of tram service we have at present into the centre of London? You have here now a splendid opportunity for the erection of a bridge and for the widening of some unimportant thoroughfares which will give an easy access to Westminster from the southern parts without congesting the traffic at those points where it is particularly heavy. Something ought to be done to relieve the miserable congestion of traffic just outside Vauxhall Station. The hon. Member who represents the division in which that junction is placed will be able to give the fullest figures pointing out how serious the deadlock is at that point. Then I wish to refer to the term of seven years which the pro- 634 moters propose to take for the completion of the bridge. I think, for a great Metropolitan improvement, that is a needlessly long time, and when you come here for powers to erect a bridge like this I do not think you need anything like that period. You may take powers to take over whatever property you want, and you may more rapidly make the improvements on the land concurrently with the construction of the work across the water. I feel that the time has come when we should deal with our London bridges, which are and must always be the great outstanding feature of beauty or ugliness, in London on a nobler scale. You cannot get a bridge worthy of London's river for £240,000, more especially when that figure includes approaches and the necessary widenings and gradients. If you exercise these powers of altering gradients on the land approaches you will be bound to place still more in a hole that delightful historic pile known as Lambeth Palace and Lambeth Church. Anybody familiar with that block of buildings will remember that at the present moment, without attempting to adjust the already steep approach to Lambeth Bridge, there is a downhill run from the foot of the bridge to the entrance to Lambeth Palace. If you lift the tramway level, the old palace will sink still lower, and to that extent will be placed at a still greater disadvantage.
There is this, however, to be said about it. We are spending, I believe, one and a-half millions in improving the westward side of the gardens of this Palace. The proposal is to carry a magnificent embankment right to the foot of Lambeth Bridge, and to make the whole place more worthy of the splendid buildings grouped thereabout. Will this £240,000 structure be a worthy terminal of that splendid scheme I should like to know. That is one of the objects I have in view in raising my demur. What have the Office of Works to say to this proposal? Do they consider it is an adequate finish to their great scheme? Personally, I should like the whole matter submitted for a little while longer to the people of London. Whether they stand on Westminster Bridge or on the Embankment on the other side, or on our own Terrace, or from whatever point they regard the great open space between Westminster and Lambeth, I should like them to consider whether the time has not come for us to take the whole of these questions under a broad comprehensive survey, and to make up our minds, instead of having a temporary metal arch spanning in rude 635 simplicity this river of ours, to have a bridge for which we shall not have to apologise to any intelligent stranger who may come and accept of our hospitality. There is no position in which a bridge can be put anywhere near this House of greater importance than this. I therefore very warmly urge upon this House, not the destruction of a fair and adequate proposal to bridge the Thames at Lambeth, which is so urgently necessary, but that we should address ourselves to this matter, and make ourselves and the public—even a Londoner cares more for his town than he is sometimes credited with doing-more familiar with this proposal; and then reassure the too faint hearts, as I fear, which preside over our destinies at Spring Gardens that London wants these things done well; does not approve of a niggardly cheeseparing policy in regard to them, or an unwillingness to treat them from a lofty conception of civic beauty and delight, as well as of mere convenience, and will not forgive anybody whose only regard is a paltry saving of the rates.
§ Mr. W. CROOKS
I rise to second the Amendment, and I wish to add my plea to that of the hon. Gentleman who has just resumed his seat to the representatives of the county council opposite not at this hour of the day to attempt to belittle London. Everyone knows what an awful dismal failure Southwark Bridge is. Yet we are asked to sanction the building of a bridge at Lambeth with a gradient four inches worse than that of Southwark Bridge. There is no objection to spending the money, but one has a right to expect that hon. Gentlemen who stood up in this House and denounced the disfigurement that would accrue from the passing of the trams over Westminster Bridge would turn their eyes in the other direction and ask what sort of monstrosity it is proposed to put up there. Surely if a bridge is to be built at all, it should be something of which London could be proud and not ashamed. Unless the accommodation required can be given it would be better by far to save up a little more money till the council can afford to give the accommodation. The old bridge was condemned long ago, and it was a common observation, "You will have to forbid a cockroach going across or it will be coming down." The council has run a risk by allowing traffic over the bridge, but, if it is necessary to have a bridge, let us have a bridge and not a makeshift.
636 One never invites a friend to this great city without showing him the glories of the Houses of Parliament. Then one looks at the hospital, and we are never tired of belauding the glories of Lambeth Palace. Now hon. Gentlemen opposite are going to belittle the whole thing by sticking up an inadequate bridge. It may be said it is a beautiful bridge. We can easily get a beautiful toy, but we want something useful as well as beautiful. We do not want a makeshift merely to carry out the promises of hon. Gentlemen to do things better and cheaper. They may do them cheaper, but it would be cheap and nasty. I can imagine an intelligent Colonial going round this part of London where all the honour and glory of the British Empire is centred and saying, "I suppose this bridge must have been built a century ago, before London was like what it is now." "Oh, no," one would reply, "it is quite a modern bridge." Then he would say, "There must be modern lunacy about, or it would never have been done like this." I am anxious there should be better communication across the river, but if the bridge is not wanted thereat all pull the old one down and make a tunnel. Do not put up something of which we shall all be ashamed. I do not want to take any further part in this Debate except to vote against the Bill. There are plenty of reasons why we should not have this bridge just yet. The council itself has half a million's worth of property which will be depreciated instead of improved. Everyone desires that the value of the council's property should be improved. It is the old story. We all love beauty, but it is a little hard to pay for it.
§ Mr. GUINNESS
The hon. Member for Woolwich assumes that the proposed bridge is going to be very ugly, but he gave us no ground whatever for his supposition, and, as the county council proposes to spend £20,000 on its decoration, as against only £22,000 spent on the larger bridge at Vauxhall, I think we want something more than wild statements to justify the belief it is going to be ugly. Perhaps the hon. Member imagines steel bridges are always ugly, but one of the architectural features of the Seine in Paris is Alexandra III. Bridge, which is also a steel arch bridge, and against which no one can say anything either in regard to its convenience or its architectural effect.
§ Mr. GUINNESS
I will come to that. The hon. Member also stated the gradient of this bridge was to be 4 deg. worse than the gradient of Southwark Bridge. He is making a mistake. I have here an article which appeared in the "Daily News," "London in Danger," and the gradient of Southwark Bridge is given as 1 in 18. The gradient of the new bridge is to vary from 1 in 20 to 1 in 30. The hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Essex) imagines that the proposed gradient will put Lambeth Palace in a hole. He has got hold of the wrong end of the stick, because the proposed gradient would be far more advantageous to the appearance of Lambeth Palace than a shallower gradient. If you have a shallow gradient, you will have to begin your approaches further back, and, if you begin your approaches further back you will put Lambeth Palace into a hole. That is one of the chief reasons actuating the promoters of this Bill in proposing the present gradient; in fact, the gradient on the other side of the river would cost £150,000, and in these days of mechanical transport, especially in view of the fact that trams in London negotiate gradients of one in ten, I think it will be seen that a gradient of from 1 in 20 to 1 in 30 is not excessive. The hon. Member who moved the postponement of this Bill objected to it on the typical Progressive ground, that; there was not enough expense. As a matter of fact, even the Progressive London County Council could not face the expense of putting up the bridge as originally proposed. I have no doubt the hon. Member for Woolwich was a member of the London County Council when a proposal came up in 1902 to rebuild the bridge at a cost of £772,000. Even the Progressive county council could not swallow such a scheme as that, and the result was that nothing was done.
The matter came up again in 1910; it was again proposed to build a steel-arch bridge at a cost of £500,000, but it was felt that the expense of that bridge was too great, in view of the probable amount of traffic in the near future. But it should be remembered that these steel-arch 638 bridges can always be widened, and, in the case of one well-known London bridge, we have seen it successfully widened during the last few years. The expenditure on the bridge is to be spread over sixty years. But the mover of the Resolution objected, to that. Surely he cannot object to a saving of £280,000, as compared with the scheme of 1910. If you capitalise the £280,000 in twenty-five years with compound-interest you will find the saving is altogether £600,000. I think it can be proved there is not the slightest chance of a wider bridge than thirty-two feet being required in the next twenty-five years, and if you put up the narrower bridge now you will have £600,000 savings to play with. I think there is a strong probability that even at the end of that time you will not require a wider roadway. This saving of £600,000 in the next twenty-five years is on the bridge alone. It does not allow a farthing for what you will have to pay for widening, and if you are going to put up a wider bridge you must have a wider street, and instead of £600,000 you will have to account for a very much larger sum. There are only two bridges in the county, Westminster and Vauxhall, which are wider than this proposed new bridge. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about Black-friars?"] That is a city bridge. The hon. Member for Stafford objected to the bridge on the ground that it might be desirable to take trams over. I understand that the Highways Committee of the London County Council are satisfied that there is no probability for many years to come of a desire to take the trams over. In any case it can be done, but if you have a suspension bridge it cannot. The county council have been guided very largely, in choosing this particular type of construction at an extra cost by the necessity to provide for an unlimited weight going over the bridge, and, if you want to take the trams over, you can quite easily widen it. If hon. Members opposite do not choose to pass this Bill they may not have any bridge at all. The London County Council is largely interested in property on the north side of the river, and also in the neighbourhood in general, and if this Bill does not go through there is no power to compel the county council to bring forward a more expensive scheme. I am certain the ratepayers of London are not prepared to accept a proposal to spend more than double the money, when, as far as traffic goes, it is quite easy to prove that the present proposal is ample. Careful inquiries have been made into the matter of traffic, 639 and it is estimated that about 3,000 vehicles would use the new bridge in the twelve busiest hours of the day. Allowing for the comparative width of the bridge and for an equivalent traffic to that going over Westminster Bridge, you would need 6,958 vehicles, so that before you get as much traffic going over the new bridge as over Westminster Bridge the probable traffic must be doubled. It is not likely that the population is going to double itself in the next thirty years, and I believe it is far wiser to be content with the proposed bridge and save up your money to widen it if occasion arises, and when you have decided that the traffic requires it.
§ Mr. STEPHEN COLLINS
I was sorry to hear the threat that if this Bill is rejected there will be no new bridge for Lambeth. As a Member for Lambeth for many years I am very interested in the question, and I am anxious we should have this new bridge. I would ask the House to seriously consider, however, whether it is worth while to have a bridge in a limited way. I do not think that those in charge of the Bill have seriously considered the matter from this point of view. I have it on very high authority that the proposed gradient is definitely to be 1 in 20. I do not know what the hon. Member meant by from 1 in 20 to 1 in 30. A gradient of 1 in 20 is quite unsuitable to the heavy traffic of a metropolitan bridge. Although horse traction is going out to a large extent it will never disappear altogether, and no one who watches horses with heavy loads behind them trying to struggle up steep gradients, such as those at Vauxhall and Westminster, can doubt that a gradient of 1 in 20 is too steep. The Vauxhall gradient is 1 in 30, and, moreover, a gradient of 1 in 20 is the maximum gradient allowed by Parliament for main roads over railway bridges in the provinces. Southwark Bridge was referred to. That bridge is 1 in 24, and yet it is shunned by all heavy traffic. Scarcely any goes over it; in fact, last year Parliament granted permission to rebuild that bridge mainly because of its steep gradient. Now we are asked to build a bridge steeper still in Greater London; in fact, in the very heart of London. As to the width of 48 feet between the parapets, I believe it was a rule of the late Bridges Committee of the London County Council that no bridge across the Thames should be less than 80 feet wide, although a special exception was made in 640 the case of Lambeth, the plans of which were prepared for a 60-feet bridge, which is quite narrow enough. The present Vauxhall Bridge is eighty feet, Black-friars is 105 feet, and the present Southwark Bridge is forty-two feet, which is found to be far too narrow, yet it is proposed at this time of day, with ever-increasing traffic, to build a new bridge right in the centre of London only six feet wider than Southwark Bridge. The time lost every day in London to tradespeople and to business people is something enormous through the way in which horses are held up by the congestion of traffic. Many of the roads and bridges are totally inadequate to meet the requirements of the present day, and what is required to-day is quite out of the question to-morrow. Take the case of Vauxhall Cross. I remember Vauxhall Cross about thirty years ago, when you could go across it as leisurely as you liked, and there was no need to be afraid of being run down. Go there to-day and you find that it is one of the busiest parts of London. Old Vauxhall Bridge, over which I went very many times as a lad, was quite wide enough for the traffic of that day. There were very many people who thought that Vauxhall Bridge need not have been built, but now Vauxhall Bridge and Vauxhall Cross form one of the most congested parts of London. London Bridge was widened, and it cost a lot of money. Old Blackfriars Bridge was comparatively a modern structure, yet in a few years it was found not to be wide enough, and now it has been widened by thirty feet at an enormous cost, and yet it is proposed to build this bridge at Lambeth twenty-nine feet less than old Blackfriars Bridge.
You have to consider the traffic from the south of London, which increases year by year. Westminster and Vauxhall bridges are about a mile apart. There is plenty of room to have a good, wide, approachable bridge at Lambeth, which is desirable because the traffic from Bermondsey and the Surrey Docks must come through the comparatively narrow roadway of Lower and Upper Kennington Lane, and must come along by Westminster Bridge Road. Every Member here knows the congestion of traffic that occurs every two or three minutes on Westminster Bridge. This congestion is ever increasing on the Surrey side. I think it will be much better to build a bridge of moderate width and with such a gradient that it will allow these poor horses to travel over it with 641 ease. If it is not an easy gradient Lambeth Bridge will be avoided just as much as Southwark Bridge is to-day. There is no difficulty about the matter. I understand that some time ago arrangements were made with Doulton and Company by which the gradient on the south side could be made one in thirty at little or no extra cost. I know there is a distillery on the corner of Horseferry Road, but I believe that has only a short lease of twelve or thirteen years, and it could be bought at a reasonable cost. I remember some months ago, when the new St. Paul's Bridge was discussed, I raised a laugh in this House by saying, "What is an extra couple of millions?" In this case it is not a question of millions, but only of a few thousand pounds. Would it not be far more satisfactory to have a bridge which is a credit to London, and to give London a bridge which will greatly relieve the present congestion of traffic and open up a new highway? Who knows but what Horseferry Road may yet become a great, wide London road? The hon. Member (Mr. Guinness) referred to the great cost, but we might recoup it by the palatial and stately warehouses which may yet be put up in the Horseferry Road. I hope the London bounty Council will accept our proposals so as to meet the ever-growing needs of the traffic of our great Metropolis.
Mr. FRED HALL (Dulwich)
I cannot help thinking that hon. Members who have already addressed the House have not made themselves conversant with the bridge the London County Council really propose to construct. I was rather surprised at what the hon. Member for Woolwich (Mr. Crooks) said with regard to tinkering with the metal bridge and the cheese-paring policy of the Council. That is not the question at all. The County Council have considered this matter with regard to the traffic requirements at this spot. The present bridge has been in existence for fifty years. Two and a half years ago it was deemed necessary, on the recommendation of the chief engineer, to close that bridge for vehicular traffic. Since that time the county council have given the most careful consideration—looking forward for forty or fifty years—as to what would be the requirements of that part of London. The question of Vauxhall Bridge has been referred to. I think hon. Members, if they will cast their minds back for one moment, will see that the position of Vauxhall Bridge is totally different from 642 that of Lambeth Bridge. Lambeth Bridge comes out on to the side of Horseferry Road into what I would venture to call a network of small properties. Surely, in these circumstances, there cannot be any necessity for constructing a bridge of such width as is necessary on a main arterial road. Then there is the suggestion with regard to tramways. I hold in my hand a document from the chief officer of tramways in London, and I think hon. Members know full well that that officer has always been desirous of pushing tramways wherever he considers them necessary. Under these circumstances I am certain that they will be particularly interested in the report in which the chief officer states:—I have given further careful consideration, and I do not see any reason to modify the opinion I have previously expressed that tramways will not be required over the Lambeth Bridge.9.0 P.M.
That is a most important matter, because the officers of the county council have never given their reports until they have considered the matter in its whole bearings. Supposing, for instance, it should eventually be necessary to construct tramways over this new bridge, anyone would imagine that it would not be possible to do so. Do hon. Members know what width is required for the construction of a tramway? A road of 32 ft. 6 in.—that is for a double line, allowing for the statutory limit of 9 ft. 6 in. on either side. I suppose I shall be told it is not proposed to have 32 ft. 6 in. I perfectly agree. We shall have 32 ft. It would not be necessary to have 32 ft. 6 in. because there is not that limit on the bridges that we have in an ordinary carriage way, because it is admitted by all experts that a bridge of this width is to all intents and purposes, for vehicular traffic, the same as a road of 65 ft. to 70 ft., simply because the traffic does not stop on the side, but is always moving. I have a report which states that the width of the road in High Street, Kensington, will be 60 ft., and others reports state that a 48 ft. bridge is equivalent to a street 65 ft. or 70 ft. wide. It is stated that we are not spending enough money. Surely all that is necessary is for us to spend the money that is necessary for the requirements of the works we are desirous of constructing. The cost of the bridge is to be £240,000. It is complained that we are not constructing a bridge to cost £500,000. The difference between them is £260,000, which, with compound interest in twenty-five years, would amount to £600,000. Surely 643 with the reports we have in hand, judging by the ordinary outlook, we shall not under any circumstances require a bridge wider than this for the next forty years, and I cannot help thinking it will be a much better asset in twenty-five years time to find the £600,000 in hand instead of a bridge constructed in such a manner as to be detrimental to the requirements of that time. The hon. Member (Mr. Stephen Collins) led the House, I am sure unintentionally, to believe that it was to have a gradient of 1 in 20. It is nothing of the sort.
I grant that for a small distance on each side of the bridge the gradient is to be 1 in 20, but it is only for a very short distance.
It goes from that to 1 in 30, and from that to 1 in 72. The county council is not desirous of constructing a bridge which will not be useful for all purposes. I cannot help thinking that many Members were under the impression that the bridge was to be constructed with a gradient which would render it of no utility whatever. The engineer of the London County Council is not in the habit of lending his name to the construction of any tinkering matters whatever. We have it from the officers themselves that the bridge will serve all the services which are required. Therefore I hope the House will endorse the wishes of the London County Council. I think it would have been a great deal better if the hon. Member (Mr. Essex) had been fully seized of the details of this bridge before he stated that it was not up to the requirements. I hope, under the circumstances, after my hon. Friends have given further particulars with reference to the matter, that the hon. Member will be so satisfied that the requirements of London are being well looked after that he will support the wishes of the London County Council.
§ Mr. DAWES
I rise to support the Amendment that the Bill be read this day six months. I must utter a mild protest against the hon. Member (Mr. Guinness) bringing in City bridges when it suits his purpose and ignoring them altogether 644 when it does not suit his purpose. Also I think the hon. Member referred to Southwark Bridge as having a gradient of 1 in 18.
§ Mr. GUINNESS
I referred to Southwark Bridge because it was quoted by the hon. Member (Mr. Crooks).
§ Mr. DAWES
I agree. I was also interested to know that the hon. Member took as his authority the "Daily News." I do not know whether he always accepts the "Daily News" as his authority on these occasions. He also told us that if we did not have this bridge we should have no bridge at all. That must surely be intelligently anticipating the verdict of the electors of London next March. It was not very pronounced at the last election, and it may change again. This bridge is intended as a relief bridge for Vauxhall and Westminster, and the whole question is whether it is going to be such a relief bridge as will be of the slightest use. What you want obviously is a bridge which will give relief to the heavy traffic in that neighbourhood. A. bridge like Southwark Bridge, which has a gradient of 1 in 24, is not used at all for any heavy traffic if it can be avoided. I happen to live in that quarter, and I am continually crossing this bridge, and I can tell the House that it is of no use as a relief bridge. Apparently the only argument put forward in support of this proposal now before the House is that £20,000 is going to be spent on putting up a beautiful structure. We would rather not have the money spent unless it is to be done in providing a bridge with a proper gradient. I should have thought that the hon. Member opposite would have been the very last to suggest that it was a prudent or proper thing to build a bridge in the way proposed when you know that you may have to increase its dimensions later on at enormous expense. I sincerely hope the House will reject the Bill and insist on having a proper bridge or no bridge at all.
§ The PRESIDENT of the LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. Burns)
I had hoped that one or two other Members who represent the London County Council would have spoken in this House with a degree of authority which has not been claimed by previous speakers, and with a wealth of information on certain points with respect to which, I think, it is their duty to invite the House to share. I ask the permission of the House to say a word or two on this particular proposal. If I may 645 say so, I would advise the members of the county council, whatever may come of the discussion to-night, and whether this Bill is rejected or gets a Second Reading and afterwards goes to a Committee upstairs, to bear in mind that there are two other stages besides the Second Reading in relation to a Bill of this kind. If they are well advised, they ought not to run the risk of losing a Bill for a new bridge, leaving out the question of width or gradients, by not showing a disposition to put themselves in accord with the reasonable suggestions and requests made by the various speakers who with great force and moderation have addressed themselves to this particular subject. I have a right which the House will cheerfully recognise to speak on this matter because for the last twenty-two years, either as a member of the county council or in the office which I now hold, without party feeling, I have done my best to assist the county council, the Water Board, and other public bodies when the public interests warranted me in so doing.
It is because I was for many years a member of the bridges committee of the county council that I know the details of this question, and I wish to put to the House one or two reasons why we should look at this matter from a wider point of view than previous speakers who have addressed the House. This bridge, whether 48 ft. or 84 ft. wide, is in a position where the House of Commons has a right to be consulted. This bridge is within the precincts of Parliament, it is within the curtilage of the ancient Abbey of Westminster, and it is within the bailiewick of Lambeth Palace. This is something more than a local or even a metropolitan matter, and I ask the House to look at it from that point of view. There is a better argument than that. Some ten or twelve years ago a proposal was made by a syndicate to build a large block of flats between the end of the House of Lords garden and Lambeth Bridge. That was proposed by men of great authority and financial standing, and to the credit of the House of Commons, which knew the local facts, the Bill was thrown out. Why did the House throw out the Bill? I had, with the hon. Member for Westminster, a share in the work of securing that desirable end. The House of Commons wisely thought that if there was to be any improvement in that part of Westminster within the shadow of the House itself it ought to be an improvement more consistent with the noble site and more com- 646 patible with the dignity of the precincts of this House. They decided not to allow the spending of quite a million of money by a syndicate on a block of flats which would stand between the wind and the Lords' nobility. That proposal was brushed aside. Why do I mention that in connection with the problem? I do so because something was then done that commits the House to a better bridge than that proposed in this Bill. The House of Commons stood out against the proposal I have been speaking of, and they decided, in conjunction with the county council of that day, to have no wharves or warehouses between the House of Lords garden and Lambeth Bridge.
§ Mr. BURNS
The Noble Lord was not in the House at the time, and he should be sure about the facts. The result of the throwing out of the scheme by the House of Commons was that the London County Council and the Westminster Borough Council, in co-operation with the Office of Works—all combined and working together in proper proportions—decided to strip the front of the river of wharves, warehouses, and slums, with the result that we shall see unfolded perhaps the noblest view of the Houses of Parliament. There will be a 70 ft. avenue, with an extended garden running from the Victoria Tower to the bridge itself.
§ Mr. BURNS
I never suggested otherwise. My answer to the interruption, which is irrelevant, is this: A county council generous enough to plan a scheme of such nobility ought not to have it marred by its successors with a cheap and nasty bridge. An avenue 70 ft. wide and a new Lambeth Bridge is a scheme worthy of London, worthy of Westminster, creditable to the county council, and creditable to Parliament. What has happened in this matter? In 1894 the county council decided that when Lambeth Bridge was to be rebuilt the new structure should be 80 ft. wide, and not 48 ft. At a later date they altered the 80ft. to 60ft., because Vauxhall Bridge had been built. Now, only for reasons of economy [An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear."]. I agree, but there is false economy which is sometimes rash extravagance when you take a long view. For reasons of economy only, the 647 80 ft. and 60 ft. are to become 48 ft., and the gradient of 1 in 30, which was proposed with regard to the 80 ft. and the 60 ft., is to become 1 in 20, on both sides for a short distance. Everybody knows that the strength of a chain is its weakest link, and if you have a 1 in 20 gradient on each side it is practically prohibitive to wagons drawn by horses, which must feel, probably at the weakest moment, the pinch of the heavy gradient.
I do think that we ought to look at this even from another point of view. The hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds, with much ingenuity, said that this bridge will be wider than several of the bridges within the county of London. I see hon. Members on both sides of the House who have motor cars. Will anyone who goes over Putney Bridge, which is about the same width as this new bridge, say that, handsome as Putney Bridge is, the Metropolitan Board of Works did not make a profound mistake when they made that beautiful stone bridge only 42 ft. in width? I will go to other abridges of which I know something, and my instances are not pontes asinorem. Take Putney Bridge. You have tramways going over it, plus motor 'buses. Everybody knows, especially those who motor, that Putney Bridge ought to have been double the width it is. It is the same with Albert Bridge, which hot only has the disadvantage of being a Suspension bridge, but is narrow; and 'Chelsea Bridge, which has the same disadvantages. And when we see the noblest, narrowest bridge that probably is in the world, namely Waterloo Bridge, of which Canova, the sculptor, said that it was worth coming from Rome to see only one arch of it—I am wrestling with provincial Members who need to be educated in the traditions of London—anyone will admit that if the engineer of that noble bridge could have foreseen the growth of vehicular traffic, above all, of steam and petrol traffic, he would have realised that that bridge would have been ten times more advantageous to the community, beautiful as it is, if it had been double or even three times its present width. But there are better reasons, which I hope will be endorsed by at least one hon. Gentleman in front of me. We find the City Corporation at least moving with the spirit of the times. They found London Bridge not wide enough, and they widened the roadway a little and the pathways a 648 great deal, and to the credit of the City Corporation, to which I had the credit of being the spokesman of the county council, and with a generosity that does the city every credit, they spent nearly £250,000 in adding nearly 30 ft. to what was a very wide bridge, namely Black-friars Bridge. They did that because they said that the convenience and exigencies of London's trade and the claims of vehicular traffic demanded that it should be 105ft. wide. [HON. MEMBERS: "Tramways."] Some hon. Gentlemen seem to be obsessed by tramways. Let us look at it from the point of view of Gentlemen who prefer motor 'buses to tramways, for reasons which we will not go into, but which, to quote Lord Dundreary, no fellow can understand. If there is a reason why a bridge should be wide, it is because motor 'buses go over it. Hon. Members know that tramways are confined to a fixed route, and if the bridge is reasonably wide, they know where they are. But as regards motor 'buses, you do not know where they are, and to those who are interested in motor 'buses, if a 60 ft. bridge is necessary for tramways, an 80 ft. bridge is still more desirable for motor 'buses. The hon. Members who are traction sticks-in-the-mud, who want trackless trolleys instead of tramways, and who are always gushing about motor 'buses and of the advantages of the new forms of traction to which they are pinning themselves in contrast to what they term the discredit of the conduit trams should remember that such traffic requires a wider bridge and a greater platform for the movement of traffic than even tramways that are confined to fixed lines. What is the argument in favour of a narrow bridge The hon. Member, the Chairman of the Highways Committee, from whom I had expected better advice, said that Lambeth Bridge is wide enough. But is it? Then why did the city widen Blackfriars Bridge?
§ Mr. BURNS
The hon. Member knows as well as I, that if this bridge is erected there will be motor 'buses running over it, not only on the day but the very afternoon on which it is opened. They use Battersea Bridge and Putney Bridge, which are narrow, and every hon. Member who knows anything about traction will know that the moment this bridge is opened that enterprising gentleman, Mr. Tilling will have a line of motor 'buses over the bridge from St. George's Circus 649 down Horseferry Road, which is 40 ft. wide. I measured it this morning on my way here. I did it in the ordinary discharge of my duty to the public which the hon. Member shares with me in serving his constituents. He knows full well that if the narrow bridge is erected motor 'buses will come over it. The reasons for widening Blackfriars Bridge are reasons why this bridge should be wider than it is. The hon. Member in defending the High ways Committee, said that this bridge would be 32 ft. in the roadway. He knows that that is a very narrow shave for two lines of tramways with the statutory distance on each side. The hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds spoke of Paris and referred to the last bridge in the world to support his case. He spoke of the simple, beautiful Pont d'Alexandre III. That bridge is not only of one span and a beautiful bridge, but it is so very very wide that it is twice the width of the new Lambeth Bridge. When I find hon. Members talking without their book, and referring to a bridge like this which is nearer 90 ft. than 80—
§ Mr. BURNS
I was over it last time I was in Paris. But then I had a clearer vision probably than the hon. Member. Hon. Members who have spoken have forgotten one feature of this bridge and its chief necessity. They have forgotten the Royal parks. Why do I mention the Royal parks? For the reason that there is no bridge between Blackfriars and Vauxhall except Westminster over which heavy timber traffic and heavy commercial and industrial traffic can go. Nearly all the timber needed in the West of London has to come from the Surrey Commercial Docks. It has to go over Blackfriars Bridge, which is a waste of energy, or it has to go over Westminster Bridge and turn sharp off by the House of Commons if it is going to George Street or down Victoria Street, or to Abingdon Street. We think that just as the traffic of Westminster became too congested, and is in-increasing now, so that the Vauxhall Bridge was necessary to relieve Westminster, so now that Vauxhall is becoming even more congested in regard to traffic than Westminster is now, we suggest, those of us who know London, that you should have another bridge, with a line of road from St. George's Circus to Lambeth Palace. It would only be necessary to remove a very narrow strip of slum property, and you would get a road, on 650 the south side from Lambeth Palace right to St. George's Circus—a road, wide as the Commercial and Mile End Roads in the East End. Both Vauxhall and Westminster in this way would be enormously relieved. Timber traffic and so forth, going west by the Royal parks and Buckingham palace would have an alternative route created by Victoria Street to Westminster and by the Vauxhall Bridge Road.
I have mentioned the Royal parks and Buckingham Palace, because from the eastern side of the Green Park, from the Admiralty Arch, from the Admiralty Arch at Charing Cross, from the Ritz Hotel, and right away from St. George's Hospital you have practically a mile and a quarter square of area. By the regulations applying to the Royal parks—St. James' and the Green Park—that area is denied to heavy traffic. The proportion in which you are denied accommodation for heavy traffic over that wide area I suggest should be the measure of your desire for an alternative route over Lambeth Bridge as a means of getting building material to West London much quicker than it can be obtained at present. My last word is this: For twenty years the county council and Parliament have striven to improve the amenities of this House. Nearly a million of money has been spent in order to achieve that result. If this bridge is built with a width of 48 ft. or 32 ft. only in the roadway, you will spend money in vain. You will get the minimum of comfort and convenience, and you will not get out of your £240,000 you are going to spend the convenience for traffic you expect to obtain. I had hoped that hon. Members of the county council would have said something to meet the reasonable criticism conveyed in the fair and moderate speeches that have been made. Is there one of those hon. Members who will stand up here and say, "We are prepared to defer to what we think are the reasonable suggestions and criticisms and do our best to meet them"? The Noble Lord opposite will probably take the hint. If we had this bridge with a width of 48 ft. or 32 ft., abutments could be put in ready for a bridge of the width of Vauxhall or Westminster. I would suggest that for two reasons. The first is economy. If you put in abutments that will permit of an 84-ft. or a 90-ft. bridge when traffic ultimately increases to render that necessary, you will save money. It is a great mistake to spend £240,000 on abutments 55 ft. long to carry a 48-ft. bridge. You may think it is cheap now, but in five 651 or ten years when it has to be widened, it will be found that it is not cheap. It must never be forgotten that in driving piles in the strata of the River Thames, you so shake and damage the previous foundation that any economy you may hope to effect by your present proposal will be thrown away.
I hope that point will be considered, and that you are prepared to consider upstairs in Committee whether this bridge could not be made wider than it is, and whether abutments ought not to be put in which will permit of a cheap extension of the width when the circumstances warrant. Otherwise with a bridge with 1 in 20 gradient, you would defeat your object of relieving Vauxhall and Westminster Bridges. If the Bill goes to Committee I should advise you to deal with the enemy in the gate whilst they are reasonable. Do not put a bridge at Lambeth that will not allow of trams or omnibuses. If you do, I am sure that within two or three years all the money which, by your present scheme, you hope to save will not only not be saved, but you will be subjected to additional expense when you want your bridge widened. We do not want a cheap and nasty plan, and if you stick to your 48ft. roadway, with 1 in 20 gradient, you win find that it will be necessary to widen the bridge within the next few years. I appeal to the Noble Lord opposite to imitate the splendid economy and prescience of the City Corporation, who in these matters have worked hand-in-hand with the London County Council in widening London Bridge and Blackfriars Bridge. I am sorry that the City has not been able to agree with the London County Council as to St. Paul's Bridge, but it does not lie in the mouths of members of the county council, who fought the City Corporation against the site of St. Paul's Bridge, and who are now arguing with them as to the tramcars coming across it—it does not rest with those gentlemen, right under the shadow of Parliament, to put up a bridge with only 32ft. or 48ft. of roadway. Let it be remembered that there are three more stages to this Bill, the Committee, Report, and Third Reading, and if hon. Members will take my advice, given without any party feeling at all, but simply from love of London, I would ask them to deal with the one or two practical and wise criticisms which have been directed 652 upon this bridge, and try to grapple with, this matter in a generous spirit, worthy of the city which we all love and try to serve.
§ Lord A. THYNNE
There have been two very remarkable features about this Debate, and not the least remarkable was the very forcible speech which we have just listened to from the right hon. Gentleman, a speech which displays not only great knowledge of the local requirements of London, but considerable vehemence in the form in which it was made. At the same time I challenge any hon. Member opposite whether, judging by what fell from the right hon. Gentleman's lips, it is his intention to oppose or support the Second Reading of the Bill. It is a very important thing for those of us who are interested in this Bill to know whether we have got the official blessing of the Local Government Board, or whether we have not. There was another very remarkable feature about this Debate. One would have thought, with the number of Members representing London constituencies on the opposite side, that if this Bill was as bad and pernicious as some try to make out it is that they would have found some Member representing a constituency more closely interested in London matters to move its rejection than the hon. Member for Stafford.
§ Lord A. THYNNE
The only deduction I can draw from that, action on the part of those who are opposed to this Bill is that they know that although this Bill cannot satisfy everybody in its details, yet in its main outlines it is a Bill which the people in Lambeth and the people in Westminster and those people who are interested in through traffic do consider, a great benefit to the through traffic of London. I could not help regretting that both at the beginning and towards the conclusion of the right hon. Gentleman's speech that he thought fit to utter what we can only regard as a threat in regard to this Bill. I do submit, and I think I can draw the argument from the right hon. Gentleman's own speech, that it is—
§ Lord A. THYNNE
Not at all. If the right hon. Gentleman will only allow me to develop my argument he will see the force of my contention. I do submit, and I think one passage I can allude to in the right hon. Gentleman's speech will show, that this House, certainly on Second Reading, is not a good tribunal to judge questions of detail often involving highly technical engineering details. I will quote in this connection the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion with regard to the length of the abutments. The right hon. Gentleman has told us that we should be wise in the interests of this Bill, and in regard to the possibility in the future of widening this bridge, to give a promise now without any further consideration, without taking out any quantities, or without any measures or calculations, that I should stand up here now, without considering the desirability of choosing the alternative of widening by cantilever and other engineering devices, and give an undertaking that I am prepared to lengthen the abutments of the bridge in order that it may be widened in the future in a particular manner. I submit that that is a question which ought to be threshed out before Committee upstairs, and that it is not a question which this House, sitting as it is on the Second Reading of this Bill, is in any way qualified to consider or to discuss. What does the right hon. Gentleman do? He insinuates that if we do not give way on certain points which have been raised by Friends of his on his side of the House that we shall be faced by a Government Department against us to block its future progress at future stages. That I distinctly understood from the right hon. Gentleman. It is the only inference I could draw from the warning of the grave peril that was in front of me unless I gave way. The right hon. Gentleman declaimed, at some length, about the right of the House of Commons to be consulted, more especially on this particular bridge, because it is in proximity to your Terrace. That might be an argument for the House of Commons to contribute towards the Bill, but so far as the municipal authorities of London are concerned, and so far as the London County Council is concerned, they do not consider that they have got any greater obligation to put up a handsome and beautiful bridge because it will be seen from the Terrace of the House of Commons than they do if they were putting up a bridge down the eastern reaches of the River Thames to be viewed by the people there. If the right hon. 654 Gentleman is so anxious that we should have a bridge to give pleasure to be a pleasant bridge to look at from the Terrace, surely he will offer us some contribution.
There are four main points which I will ask the House to consider. The first point is whether or not this bridge is or is not worthy of the site on which it is going to be placed. Personally, and I think everybody who has ever considered this question, would infinitely prefer to put up a stone bridge rather than an iron bridge, but there are certain engineering difficulties, and there is that very consideration about Lambeth Palace that was advanced by the hon. Member for Stafford, and there is the agreement with Doulton's that was advanced by the hon. Member for Lambeth. There are certain considerations of that sort which, in addition to the enormous cost for property involved by the erection of a stone bridge, makes that alternative absolutely impossible. If my memory serves me accurately, I think the London County Council were absolutely unanimous on that point that it was impossible to put up a stone bridge on that site. The second question is whether or not this bridge is adequate to the traffic it will have to carry. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman in regard to that very remarkable argument in relation to the timber trade of London that this bridge will in no sense be connected with the through thoroughfare or main roads of London.
I think that the hon. Member opposite who showed the clearest perception of the situation was the hon. Member for one of the Southern Divisions who stated quite rightly that this bridge is a relief bridge to Westminster and to Vauxhall, purely and simply a relief bridge. If hon. Members will carry the map of London in their minds for a moment they will see that the traffic crossing Lambeth Bridge when it is moving north must eventually come out into the same road as if over Vauxhall Bridge, either on the Vauxhall Bridge Road or higher up on the Grosvenor Road Gardens. You cannot, owing to the existence of Buckingham Palace and the Royal parks have an independent through route north from Lambeth Bridge. I would remind hon. Members that the object of a bridge across the River Thames is not merely to connect the northern shore of the Thames with the southern, but that it is to connect the great population living on the north of the Thames with the great population living on the south of the 655 Thames. To do that you must keep before your mind the natural through routes of traffic which join the centre of the northern population and the centre of the southern commercial districts. It is absolutely no use, so far as general traffic is concerned, to throw a bridge across the Thames which simply and solely connects one bank with the other. The right hon. Gentleman spoke about Horseferry Road and motor 'buses. Everybody who knows anything about the conditions inside the City of Westminster knows perfectly well that if Horseferry Road is to be made a through thoroughfare into Victoria Street you will have to have a very extensive and costly scheme of widening in addition to this bridge.
The third point with which I wish to deal is the width of the bridge. The present Lambeth Bridge has been closed for several years to heavy traffic and to any vehicular traffic moving at more than walking pace. It was found necessary to take that step in 1905 as the bridge was in an unsound condition. So far as we are able to judge—and we went into the matter very thoroughly—no inconvenience has been caused to the residents in either Lambeth or Westminster. To go a step farther, since 1910 the bridge has been closed altogether to vehicular traffic of all sorts. The argument I deduce from that is that the only way in having this bridge is for it to act as a relief bridge to Westminster and Vauxhall Bridges. An hon. Member asked, Why build this bridge at all? I frankly confess that I would rather spend this £220,000, if I had a free hand in the matter, to build a bridge higher up the river, nearer the constituency which the right hon. Gentleman represents. I believe that a bridge is far more urgently needed to connect Clapham Junction railway station with the populous district on the north of the river than the bridge now suggested at Lambeth. But, after all, we have a statutory obligation in this matter. We should have to come to Parliament for permission to close this bridge if we wished to do it, and I think we should find in this House, as we have found on the county council, considerable reluctance to close without reconstructing any existing bridge. We want to multiply rather than diminish in number the means of communication between north and south. After what the right hon. Gentleman has said, I wish to make this point very emphatically. The bridge we are proposing 656 is in width and every other respect designed to carry tramways. I do not want there to be any mistake on that, point. We were told by the Committee and the authorities responsible for developing the tramways system of London that, owing to the considerations which I have already enumerated with regard to Horseferry Road, and the difficulty of getting north, there was no likelihood at all of their wishing to build a tramway across this bridge, not merely in the near future, but, so far as they could see, for some considerable time to come. In spite of that assurance on the part of the tramway authority, those who are responsible for the design of this bridge made it a structure suitable and in width adequate for the construction of a tramway should the London County Council ever wish to put one there.
I come now to what I believe is the only serious argument in this matter, namely, the question of the gradient. If the right hon. Gentleman had really been able to make out that the ruling gradient of this bridge was 1 in 19, I think the House might well have hesitated about passing the Bill. But that gradient is only for a distance of 100 feet, and is due to the necessity of providing sufficient clearance under the arches, at high water, to meet the requirements of the Port authority, in regard to the arches near the banks on either side. The general gradient of the bridge is 1 in 30, and for a considerable distance it is 1 in 72. There was a time not long ago when the question of gradients was undoubtedly very important indeed. When the right hon. Gentleman wished to emphasise his point he quoted the old argument about the unfortunate horse that had to draw a heavy cart. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that with the progress of invention and the development of mechanical transport in London the question of gradient becomes of diminishing importance as year follows year. What we want with the development of mechanical transport is not so much the easier gradient as the ampler width of street. On this bridge we have the ample width of street and, so far as the ruling gradient is concerned, we have an easy gradient even for horse traffic. In the ordinary course of travelling through London, it is no uncommon thing to have a gradient a great deal worse than the ruling gradient of this bridge. In Villiers Street there is a gradient of 1 in 17. In Pentonville Road and Bedford Street there is a gradient of 1 in 21. In Trafalgar Square 657 itself, the pride of London, you have a gradient of 1 in 22. On the southern side of Albert Bridge the gradient is 1 in 22. In St. James Street, which the right hon. Gentleman treats with so much respect, you have a gradient of 1 in 24. These are streets constantly used by ordinary vehicular horse traffic. When you come to the question of mechanical transport I need only instance the tramway subway at Southampton Row, where you have a gradient of 1 in 10. On High-gate Hill, up and down which heavy double-deck tramcars go, the gradient is 1 in 10. In South London, on Dog Kennel Hill, there is a gradient of 1 in 11, while on the Military Road in Woolwich it is 1 in 15. So that the gradient that we are proposing is not only a common and easy gradient for mechanical transport, but it is in no sense a difficult gradient for horse traffic. The right hon. Gentleman and hon. Members opposite are pressing us to build a very much wider bridge and one with a far better gradient. They have talked about the bridge being cheap and nasty. The right hon. Gentleman does not know whether it is cheap and nasty or not. He has not seen the design. He would not give facilities for Members of this House to see the design.
§ Lord A. THYNNE
I suggested, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, that a design of the bridge should be exhibited in the House so that Members might see its architectural features. But I was told that was contrary to precedent. I think that that was a great misfortune, because many Members this evening believe that we propose to put up an architecturally, unsightly, and artistically unworthy bridge. As a matter of fact, the architectural design is a very fine one; generally the design is a worthy one. The sole cause of the quarrel—let us make this perfectly clear—centres round the question of width and of gradient, and has nothing whatever to do with appearance. Therefore the right hon. Gentleman has no business to use such a term as "cheap and nasty," which is calculated to convey a false impression.
A point I wish to make, and I think the right hon. Gentleman will admit it himself, is that you can only improve a gradient and increase a width at a very considerable cost. The line was taken by the right hon. Gentleman, and by, I think, some other hon. Members opposite, 658 that we were saving £10,000 here and £10,000 there. Let me remind hon. Members that the approaches to the Tower Bridge ran into three-quarters of a million. When you come to buy land to improve your approaches to bridges of this character you have to spend very large sums of money indeed. I do not recommend limiting the cost of this bridge to £240,000 because I do not wish to spend money on improvements in London. That is not my motive. It is not in order to-keep the rate down, as the right hon. Gentleman thinks. The object which we have in limiting the cost of this bridge to £240,000 is because we believe that so far as bridges and improvements generally are concerned the West End of London has had its full share. If we are going to-spend a very large sum of money on an improvement of this category we ought to spend it in other parts of London, where there is an equal, if not greater, need. Let hon. Members opposite recognise once for all that the purse and the pocket of the ratepayer is limited. If you are going to force the county council, as the right hon. Gentleman has threatened, to spend upwards of half a million of money in a bridge at the West End of London where it is not needed for traffic purposes, you will be curtailing to that extent the amount of money which will be available to spend in more necessitous parts of London where improvements are far more urgently needed.
§ Mr. LAMB
I enter into this Debate in no spirit of hostility to the Highways Committee of the London County Council. As a member of the Bridges Committee of the City Corporation I sympathise with the right hon. Gentlemen opposite who are finding it somewhat difficult to persuade hon. Members here as to the desirability of carrying the Second Reading of this Bill. So far from any declaration of hostility, I want to confine my speech to an appeal. I came into this House with an open mind, and anxious, if possible, to be able to support the Second Reading so that the Bill might go upstairs and there receive the improvements that I, for one, think are needed. But the Noble Lord who has just sat down has tried to anticipate the Division by asking what we on this side were going to do. For my part I was waiting to hear what he was prepared to do before deciding how I should give my vote. I believe that the question of gradient, as referred to by the Noble Lord, has not helped us to come 659 to a decision in any way whatever. Reference has been made to the gradient of the Southwark Bridge. The Noble Lord must know that we on the Bridges Committee of the City Corporation have had that matter in hand for years, and while it is quite true that the gradient there to which comparison has been made in arguing for this new gradient at Lambeth is 1 in 24, the Noble Lord forgets that the City Corporation has only just recently got a Bill through this House for the very purpose of reducing that gradient to 1 in 40.
Yet the London County Council comes to Parliament now seeking permission to build this bridge at a gradient even worse in some parts than that of Southwark Bridge in its worst parts. It is no answer to say that in some parts of the new bridge the gradient will be less. That argument would not appeal to a poor horse taking the heavier gradient to know that it is coming to a lighter one—from 1 in 80 to 1 in 70. I appeal to those who represent the London County Council tonight to learn by the experience of the City Corporation, and to give us some assurance before the Second Reading is taken that something will be done to meet the undoubted objection not only felt on this side of the House but in all quarters. As to the width, I submit the Noble Lord has not answered our contention. He talks about the matter of expense. He says it can be done later. That is no answer to the point. On the Blackfriars Bridge we have had an immense expenditure to alter the width from 75 to 105. When the London County Council first came forward and the Bill was introduced, the width was dropped to sixty, then to forty-eight. The gradient, which was 1 in 30, is down to one in 20. I agree with the point the Noble Lord made that a stone bridge is not probably practical in this case, but that is no reason why, because a steel bridge is needed, he should not give us some guarantee as to the reduction of the gradient, and the necessary widening of the approaches and of the bridge itself. The Noble Lord speaks about absence of tramways at present. But the motor 'buses will undoubtedly use this bridge, and that probably from the very first day of its opening. If the hon. Gentleman the Member for Dulwich were interested in motors and were sending them by a more circuitous route, if a new bridge were opened that would give him a better artery would he not use that 660 new bridge? We have no guarantee that the motor 'buses will not use the bridge; but we ought to take time by the forelock, and see that this bridge is made of width, enough for all practical purposes.
One other point about motor traffic. I believe that to a very large extent the garages, both for taxi-cabs and motor 'buses, are on the south side, and they come to the north side in order to get the greater portion of their traffic. The Noble Lord said that the present Lambeth Bridge had been closed for some seven years, and he used that as an argument to show that the present suggested narrow bridge would be sufficient. I would point out to him that in the case of the Tower Bridge that there was no bridge there at all, and the same argument, might have been used. We found as soon as the Tower Bridge was opened it was of inestimable value to the South of London, and in relieving London Bridge itself. The other point made by the Noble Lord is not worth pressing. The Noble Lord suggested that there could not be any really serious opposition to this Bill since the hon. Member who moved its rejection represented a provincial constituency. I do not wish to press the point, but I would remind him that he does not himself sit for a London seat. The hon. Gentleman who spoke before him represents Bury St. Edmunds, and can scarcely claim to be a London Member. We have a right to speak when the capital of the Empire is concerned. We speak in no hostility to the scheme. We want to see further bridge facilities across, the River Thames, but we do appeal to the London County Council not to reduce the width of this suggested bridge, but to increase it; not to make the gradient more difficult, but easier. I hope that someone will get up at the eleventh hour and give us some assurance that in Committee upstairs this point will be met, in its two sections, both as to gradient and width, I believe they would find the result of the forthcoming Division would be different from what it is bound to be unless we get some assurance they will take these two serious points into consideration.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has made something of a point on the question of the gradients. My Noble Friend behind me said that now that we had all this mechanical traction the real question of horse traffic raised by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local 661 Government Board did not apply, but I would like to point out that, as a matter of fact, the greater proportion of the heavy slow traffic in London to-day is done with horses. It may be that the great railway companies and large cartage companies are behind the times and ought to have mechanical traffic, but the fact remains that they do not. The greater part of the heavy slow traffic is done with horses, and, consequently, heavy gradients are detrimental to that traffic. I do not think there can be any doubt about that, and I admit the hon. Gentleman has made a point there. But it is a point that should be made in Committee and not in this House. In Committee evidence can be given as to whether or not it is possible to reduce the gradient. I know nothing about the engineering difficulties of the scheme, and therefore I do not say whether or not that is possible, but in the Committee upstairs all that could be gone into and if it should happen that the hon. Gentleman opposite did not agree with the finding of the Committee he could always move Amendments on Report stage, or he could move the rejection of the Bill upon Third Reading. Therefore, that one particular point, although I admit it is an important point, is a Committee point, and I do not think it is a good argument against the Second Reading of this Bill.
I was extremely glad to listen once more to the fervid eloquence of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board, but I do not think he advanced a single argument, with the exception of the one in favour of the reduction of the gradient against the scheme brought forward. The right hon. Gentleman said the new bridge would be viewed from the precincts of this House. Why should not this House set an example in economy, and if it is a fact, as no doubt it is, that the bridge would be viewed from this House, let hon. Members put a limit to the indulgence of their sight, and allow something to be put up which perhaps, though not so very beautiful is equally useful, and thereby save some little money to both taxpayers and ratepayers who are called upon to make great sacrifices.
It is no argument to say that this House ought to encourage great and costly buildings in order that they may have a good view. That, is a strange argument to be advanced by hon. Gentlemen on the other side, who, I thought, always came down here to do good work for the nation, and not merely to enjoy the views of handsome buildings 662 from the Terrace or elsewhere. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that the county council ought to be generous enough to inaugurate a great scheme. Generous with what? With their own money, or that of the ratepayers? Why should they dissipate the money of somebody else. Their duty is to economise the money of the ratepayers, and not to encourage great schemes for which the ratepayer will have to put his hand in his pocket. The ratepayer has to put his hand in his pocket a great deal too oft for these wonderful schemes. The right hon. Gentleman said that any one who drives in a motor-car will will see that Putney Bridge is too narrow. The right hon. Gentleman, the champion of the democracy, talks about hon. Members who own motor-cars, and he thinks that the hard-working people are to contribute out of their hard earnings in order that bridges may be provided for luxurious people, members of the idle rich, so that they may travel in fur coats in motorcars, and smoke long cigars. The whirligig of time brings strange events. For the right hon. Gentleman to come forward and advocate a scheme of expenditure in order that people might have a comfortable drive in motor-cars is beyond anything I can conceive possible.
The right hon. Gentleman talked about motor omnibuses and tramcars. He looked at me, but I can assure him I have no interests in motor omnibuses. I have not got a motor-car, and I have not got a fur coat. I drive one horse in these hard times, and I can assure the right hon. Gentleman it is far easier to drive along a narrow road frequented by motor omnibuses than along a narrow road with tram-cars. Anyone who has experience of driving will agree that that is the case. A motor omnibus will give way a little; the tramcar cannot give way at all. You may have 20 ft. on the near side fully occupied by your one-horse vehicle and a tramcar, and 20 ft. on the other side unoccupied. If you have a motor omnibus it gives way 2 ft. or so, and you are all right. That is well known to anyone who drives a horse, but, of course, if you ride in a luxurious motor-car you do not know any of these things. I am not so fortunate as the right hon. Gentleman, and I have to regard these matters when I proceed, in my humble way, through the streets of this great Metropolis. The right hon. Gentleman said Blackfriars Bridge was widened with the assistance of the London County Council 663 in order to lay down their trains upon it. The hon. Member opposite is a member of the bridges committee, and he will correct me if I am wrong when I say my impression is that the Corporation received no assistance in the widening of London Bridge from the county council. It was only in the widening of Blackfriars Bridge, which was undertaken, not on account of the ordinary traffic, but in order to run the tram traffic.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The real question is, is it necessary to have a very wide bridge between Westminster and Vauxhall Bridge. [An HON. MEMBER: "Yes."] The Member says "Yes." I should have said "No." I have been in the habit of walking over Westminster Bridge and Vauxhall Bridge. In the days when I had the honour of representing Peckham I often went over Vauxhall Bridge, and I have seen no great congestion. I went over Vauxhall Bridge and Westminster Bridge last week, and did not see any great congestion. So far as my local knowledge goes, I think when one goes over the new bridge one will enter Horseferry Road, which has no outlet, and then you have to come back to the thoroughfare, which is at the end either of Westminster Bridge or of Vauxhall Bridge. I must say that I think the county council are to be commended for bringing forward this scheme, which is not going to waste a large sum of money, and which, as far as one can judge, is a measure which is worth a Second Beading. If hon. and right, hon. Gentlemen oppose this Bill, as I hope they will not, after listening to the very forcible arguments which I have advanced, I shall vote against this Amendment.
§ Mr. TIMOTHY DAVIES
If the gradient of this new bridge is what has been suggested the scheme proposed will be sufficient, because it will not induce much traffic to come over it, and to spend £240,000 on a bridge like that would be a waste of money. The way proposed is not an economical method of constructing a bridge of this kind, and I hope if this measure is accorded a Second Reading the county council will consider the gradient, and also the fact that the bridge is not wide enough. With regard to Putney Bridge, I think it would have been an immense boon if it had been made 20 ft. wider. I hope we shall get 664 a promise from someone representing the county council that these points will be considered upstairs, but if no such undertaking is given I shall vote against this Bill.
§ Mr. BURDETT-COUTTS
Upon similar occasions to this I have often had the pleasure of expressing the views of the Westminster City Council on matters affecting the City, but I do not do so on, this occasion because I have not received any authority to express their views on this subject. I am sorry to find myself in opposition to the right hon. Gentleman opposite, because I acknowledge the great services he has rendered or wished to render to the aesthetic improvement of London, and I always look upon him with a certain fondness on account of the fight we made together against the whole of this site being ruined. The bridge is to go across the river from the Embankment, which we prevented being spoiled upon that occasion. I really think this is a Bill which might go upstairs. There is every reason for the matter being decided, because until it is decided the very important work of dealing with that part of the Embankment cannot be satisfactorily undertaken. If you postpone the decision to have a bridge or the decision as to what sort of bridge you are going to have, you will postpone the whole work of that Embankment, which, has so long been needed. I have listened very carefully to the Debate, and I have heard two fallacies perpetrated on the other side of the House. The one by the right hon. Gentleman is his old fallacy, which has been thoroughly exposed by my hon. Friend the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury), that a fixed line of tramways is less obstructive to traffic than the motor omnibus. Everyone knows that a fixed line of tramway is one of the greatest obstructions you can have to traffic. Anyone who has driven in London knows that the fact that the tramcar cannot do anything in the way of give and take makes it one of the worst obstructions you can have. You will find the motor 'bus can give and take exactly like the old horse carriage, and you will get far more traffic on a road occupied by motor 'buses than on a road which has tramways on it. The other fallacy was uttered by the hon. Member who spoke last. He said the gradient would be an obstacle in the case of this bridge, and that it made no difference to the horse how soon a 665 steep gradient is lightened. The real fact of the matter is that the gradient of 1 in 20, which is not in itself at all steep, is only 100 ft. in length on this bridge. We all know a horse can make an effort and get over a short bit of gradient, which he could not maintain if that gradient is prolonged; in this case it passes at once into the lighter gradient of 1 in 30. I do not think the question of the gradient is a serious objection as far as we have heard it described, but, at any rate, I do urge the extreme unreasonableness of the claim put forward by the hon. Member, and I think also by the right hon. Gentleman, that the Noble Lord should here and now give an undertaking to amend this Bill in a way that would necessitate different kinds of alteration, mechanical, engineering, and as to cost, because the gradient affects greatly, as I understand, the cost of the approaches, and that those matters should not be left to the proper tribunal, the Committee upstairs. If the Committee conform to the view of hon. Gentlemen opposite, this matter will be settled. But this is not the place to settle details of this sort, and you would most seriously injure the interests of London if you postponed the scheme for this bridge. As to other considerations, I confess I am in favour of as beautiful a bridge as possible. It is a great loss that we have not had before us a picture of this bridge in order that we may judge of the design. It is not the width of the bridge that constitutes its beauty, but the design; particularly from the point of view mentioned by hon. Members opposite, from the Terrace of this House. We shall not look up the bridge and see its width, we—and most other people—will only see it in profile. The mere question of width has little to do with æthetic considerations in this matter.
§ similar works, I had hoped to hear from the hon. Member for Rochester that he was taking into consideration the objections to this Bill. When I received this morning from the London County Council a notification in justification of their proposal, I came to the conclusion that the arguments in support of the scheme were suggestive that there was something inherently rotten in it. But I certainly feel with the hon. Member for Westminster that there is good ground for sending this Bill upstairs. There may be fundamental questions which the House itself ought to consider on the Second Reading, but there are also questions of constructional detail which should be considered elsewhere, and therefore I hold there is a strong case against absolutely opposing the Second Reading. Although I do not hold a very good case has been made out for the very moderate expenditure now proposed, I still think we ought to give this Bill a Second Reading. After all, this is not likely to be a main line artery for London traffic so long as we have Westminster Bridge on the one side and Vauxhall on the other. If this is always to be an auxiliary bridge, only narrowly divided from one on either side of it, I think there is a very strong argument for limiting the expenditure so far as possible, because there is no doubt that you cannot spend money all over the Thames and practically make it solid with bridges from one end to the other. In the absence of any guidance from those Members who know infinitely more about the subject than I do, I think it is the obvious duty of hon. Members to do as I shall, vote for the Second Reading in order that we may consider the matter further at a later date.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 115; Noes, 180.669
|Division No. 32.]||AYES.||[10.34 p.m.|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Clyde, J. Avon|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Courthope, George Loyd|
|Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R.||Bigland, Alfred||Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)|
|Ashley, W. W.||Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffiths||Cralk, Sir Henry|
|Baird, J. L.||Bridgeman, W. Clive||Dalrymple, Viscount|
|Baker, Sir R. L. (Dorset, N.)||Burdett-Coutts, William||Duke, Henry Edward|
|Balcarres, Lord||Campbell, Capt. Duncan F. (Ayr, N.)||Fell, Arthur|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Campion, W. R.||Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue|
|Barnston, H.||Cator, John||Forster, Henry William|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Cautley, H. S.||Gardner, Ernest|
|Bathurst, Hon. A. B. (Glouc, E.)||Cave, George||Glazebrook, Capt P. K.|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Goldman, C. S.|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin)||Goldsmith, Frank|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Gordon, John (Londonderry, South)|
|Guinness, Hon. W. E.||Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton)||Stanier, Beville|
|Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Newton, Harry Kottingham||Stewart, Gershom|
|Hardie, J. Keir||Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Sykes, Marx (Hull, Central)|
|Helme, Norval Watson||Nield, Herbert||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon)||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)||Terrell, G. (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)||Peel, Hon. W. R. W. (Taunton)||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Hogge, James Myles||Perkins, Walter F.||Touche, George Alexander|
|Hohler, G. F.||Peto, Basil Edward||Tryon, Captain George Clement|
|Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Pollock, Ernest Murray||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Houston, Robert Paterson||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Hunter, Sir C. R. (Bath)||Pringle, William M. R.||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Ingleby, Holcombe||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)||Rawson, Colonel R. H.||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Jessel, Captain H. M.||Remnant, James Farquharson||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.)|
|Joynson-Hicks, William||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Knight, Captain E. A.||Ronaldshay, Earl of||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molton)||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)|
|Larmor, Sir J.||Rutherford, W. (Liverpool, W. Derby)||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Salter, Arthur Clavell||Yate, Col. C. E.|
|Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Sanders, Robert A.|
|Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (S. Geo. Han. S.)||Sanderson, Lancelot||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Fred Hall (Dulwich) and Lord Alexander Thynne.|
|Mackinder, Hallord J.||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Macmaster, Donald||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|McNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine)|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Griffith, Ellis J.||Murray, Capt. Hon. A. C.|
|Abraham, Rt. Hon. William (Rhondda)||Guest, Hon. Major C. H. C. (Pembroke)||Nannetti, Joseph P.|
|Adamson, William||Gulland, John William||Needham, Christopher T.|
|Addison, Dr. C.||Hall, Frederick (Normanton)||Neilson, Francis|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Nolan, Joseph|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Nuttall, Harry|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.)||Hayward, Evan||O'Dowd, John|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Higham, John Sharp||O'Malley, William|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Hinds, John||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)|
|Benn, W. (T. Hamlets, S. George)||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E, H.||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Bentham, G. J.||Hodge, John||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Boland, John Pius||Holmes, Daniel Turner||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Hudson, Walter||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Hughes, S. L.||Pointer, Joseph|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Illingworth, Percy H.||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Burns, Ht. Hon. John||Johnson, W.||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Priestley, Sir Arthur (Grantham)|
|Cawley, Harold T. (Heywood)||Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Radford, George Heynes|
|Chancellor, H. G.||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)|
|Chapple, Dr. W. A.||Jones, W. S. Glyn- (Stepney)||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Clough, William||Jowett, F. W.||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)|
|Collins, G. P. (Greenock)||Joyce, Michael||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Keating, M.||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Cowan, W. H.||Kellaway, Frederick George||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs.)|
|Crawshay Williams, Eliot||Kilbride, Denis||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)|
|Crumley, Patrick||King, J. (Somerset, N.)||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Cullinan, John||Lamb, Ernest Henry||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Davies, F. William (Eifion)||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Lansbury, George||Rowlands, James|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Levy, Sir Maurice||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.|
|Dawes, J. A.||Lewis, John Herbert||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|De Forest, Baron||Low, Sir F. (Norwich)||Samuel, J. (Stockton)|
|Doris, William||Lundon, T.||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Duffy, William J.||Lyell, Charles Henry||Sheeny, David|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Lynch, A. A.||Shortt, Edward|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Simon, Sir John Allseb[...]ook|
|Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Elverston, Sir Harold||Macpherson, James Ian||Smyth, Thomas F.|
|Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Sutton, John E.|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Manfield, Harry||Tennant, Harold John|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Thomas, J. H. (Derby)|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Martin, Joseph||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Field, William||Masterman, C. F. G.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Meagher, Michael||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Gelder, Sir W. A.||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Wadsworth, John|
|George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||Menzies, Sir Walter||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Gill, A. H.||Millar, James Duncan||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Gladstone, W. G. C.||Molloy, M.||Webb, H.|
|Glanville, H. J.||Mond, Sir Alfred M.||White, J. (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Morgan, George Hay||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Goldstone, Frank||Morrell, Philip||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Wiles, Thomas||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Wilkie, Alexander||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|Williams, P. (Middlesbrough)||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Essex and Mr. Crooks.|
|Wilson. Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)||Young, William (Perth, East)|
Main Question as amended, put, and agreed to.
§ Second Reading put off for six months.