HC Deb 23 April 1914 vol 61 cc1210-49

Order for Second Reading read.

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


I beg to move, to leave out the word, "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."

This Bill has been before the House on several occasions in one form or another. Last year it proposed the construction of a line commencing at Brentford and terminating at the Great Northern Railway in my Constituency at Wood Green. A proposed deviation of that line in Finchley was rejected by the Lords Standing Committee, and the Bill itself was rejected in this House. Last year's Bill would have cut through the Hampstead garden suburb, an experiment in which all housing reformers are keenly interested and justly proud. I think it would have effectively hindered the development of that suburb; but this year's Bill commences at Brentford and terminates at Palmer's Green. It passes about 400 yards outside the boundary of the garden suburb, but there can be no doubt that it seriously affects the suburb itself, and would ruin the neighbourhood in the immediate vicinity of the suburb, which we are all very glad to see is being developed on Garden City lines. The district outside the Hampstead garden suburb is practically itself a garden suburb, and from that point of view alone I should consider that the Bill was undesirable. It would not be unfair to move its rejection on quite general grounds, for the time has now gone by when the promoters of any railway can ask the House to consent to the great transit and traffic problem being treated in a piecemeal and haphazard fashion. Any body of men, if they have the means, can promote a Bill, and if only they can succeed in breaking clown the opposition of local authorities, can press it into law—that is to say, a measure is not sufficiently considered as a rule with regard to the interests of the whole community. Even though it did not vitally affect local authorities, we ought not to pass this measure because it does vitally affect the interests of the whole community. A Royal Commission is now sitting to consider just how far the State should control the existing railways of this country, and the very fact that that Commission has been so appointed seems to me to prove that there are many people in this country, and certainly there are many in a high position, who hold that the time has come for the traffic and transit problem to be considered as a whole, and not in bits, and this is especially the case with regard to London and Greater London.

We cannot but regret that the matter has not been seriously taken in hand before. It would have been a good thing for the State if it had been very seriously considered long ago. However, the Royal Commission is now sitting, and from that point alone, I think a railway which does not pretend to be a great railway, but only pretends to link up other railways, should be considered apart altogether from whether it is merely likely to promote the interests of comparatively few people. This matter of State control, however, is sub judice. I think the promoters of the Bill, on Second Reading, ought to prove that it is in the interests of the community as a whole, and that it will not injure the local authorities who are most affected. There are some districts which are very seriously affected, and I hope their representatives will speak up on their behalf. The local authorities have spent something like £15,000 in trying to prevent this measure in one form or another passing into law. That is a very serious waste of money, and I hope that the local authorities will not have to spend any more money after to-night. I hope it will be definitely laid down that this Bill is not required, and that no more should be expended, either by those who desire it, or by those who resist it. I have a list of some nineteen or twenty local authorities and associations who are anxious that the Bill shall not be passed into law, and that it shall not even be given a Second Reading, all of them locally interested, and of course the greatest of all is the Middlesex County Council, which has petitioned against the Bill, believing that they must protect the county interests which are likely to be seriously affected.

In order to show that it is not a fanciful objection on the part of local authorities, one local authority alone, under expert advice, has shown that it is likely to lose, if the railway is constructed, at least £3,000 in rates more or less immediately, and that about £6,000 per year will be the potential and consequent damage per annum. That seems to me conclusive evidence that there is something wrong with a measure of this sort and that we ought not to consent to give it a Second Reading to-night. I leave it to those who really represent the local authorities—I am only very slightly affected by the Bill—to speak, and I am perfectly certain they can make out a very strong case for resisting the measure. It is a mistake to allow a railway to be dumped down which is not likely to prove of very great benefit to the localities concerned, and which certainly must disfigure and destroy the amenities of the district. I wish to oppose the Bill from the point of view of what I should call the great town planning movement which is going on all over the country. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. John Burns) passed through this House the Housing and Town Planning Act, which we think a very valuable measure, and which the local authorities are beginning to avail themselves of. It is on behalf of those who are interested in town planning, and who believe that the growth of a city or of a suburb should be ordered and planned and carefully controlled that I wish to oppose this Bill. Here is a list of well-known societies that are interested in the defeat of this measure:—The Commons and Footpaths Preservation Society, the Co-partnership Tenants Housing Council, the Garden Cities and Town Planning Association, the Institute of Municipal and County Engineers, the Kyrle Society, the London Society, the Metropolitan Public Gardens Association, the National Housing and Town Planning Council, and the Town Planning Institute. All these societies and institutes are anxious that the House shall not give a Second Reading to this measure. They oppose it because they think it is not in the interest of the community as a whole, and that it would, in a way, destroy the effect of the Act of Parliament which has been passed through this House, and which has now become operative all over the country. These societies believe, and there is much foundation for the belief, that the railway would damage some of the most beautiful residential districts in that neighbourhood, for it cannot be denied that where you have an embankment or a cutting, if you take it through a beautiful district, such as some of these residential suburbs, you might do a very great deal of harm from the point of view of destroying the amenities of the district. Apart altogether from the fact that you cut up the suburbs into inconvenient portions and separate one portion from another, you depreciate the district, you depreciate the value of property, and the rate-bearing power of the district is also depreciated. You destroy any possibility of its becoming a beautiful residential district.

In past years the House has been altogether too careless in relation to the growth of the suburbs of London. To see this, all you have to do is to go to the great Metropolitan areas and look at what we have produced by our carelessness in not watching the growth and development of these areas. If you allow a railway to be planted down in a district like this, you are simply perpetuating for all time this haphazard and piecemeal method of development, and I am certain of this, that you never can expect that Finchley should become the district it ought to become if you allow this railway to run through that neighbourhood. One other point. If this Bill were passed by the House, if you give it a Second Readingg and if it manages to get through Committee—even if you give it a Second Reading I do not believe it would get through Committee—you are going to cripple the work for which the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade himself was responsible. He has done a very great deal to encourage local authorities to comp together and confer, and he has been trying to show that if they confer and unite their forces we might overtake some of the mistakes made in the past, or, at all events, secure proper development in the future. If you send the Bill to a Committee you are not able to alter the direction of this railway, except perhaps in some slight measure. I am not going to limit the powers of the Committee in this respect, but everyone knows quite well that if a Bill goes to a Committee there is very little you can do in the direction of making an alteration in the measure.

I contend that it is here in this House to-night that we ought to decide this question in the interest of all the local authorities concerned, in the interest of town planning, in the interest of the ordered growth and development of our suburbs, and, I believe, in the interest of the community as a whole; for, remember, London is growing so rapidly that the time will come, if it has not already come—I think it has already come—when we shall have to consider much more seriously the question of the great arterial roads out of London. All that is interfered with by a line which cuts across the great main-roads. I claim that the House should say definitely, once for all, that needless expense, both to the promoters and the opponents of the Bill, should not again be incurred. Let the House say distinctly and decidedly that it will not give a Second Reading to this measure, and that if such a railway is to be considered, it must be considered by Government Departments and by all the local authorities concerned from every possible point of view before it is even, so to speak, introduced into this House at all. Let everybody be satisfied that it is the right thing, and then bring forward your scheme and pass it through the House, knowing all the time that you have satisfied those who are specially interested, and knowing that you are doing no harm whatever to those suburbs so vitally concerned. Knowing the facts of the case as we do now, for we have had this proposal before us year after year, and desiring as we do to promote and not to hinder the expansion on healthy lines of the residential suburbs, it is our duty, and a duty I trust we will follow out, to refuse a Second Heading to the Bill.


I beg to second the Amendment for the rejection of the Bill, and in doing so I venture to make an appeal to Members in all quarters of the House to vote against the Second Reading to-night. I admit at the very outset that in making that appeal I am asking the House to do something which is somewhat unusual. The usual procedure, no doubt, in regard to a private Bill is to give the Bill a Second Reading, and then allow it to go to a Committee, where the arguments for and against the measure can be thrashed out with counsel before an impartial tribunal. But there are cases in which the House is certainly justified in refusing to send a Bill of this kind to a Committee. Let the House not forget that if they give this Bill a Second Reading and send it for discussion before a Committee, they will necessarily be inflicting both upon the promoters of the Bill and upon those who oppose it the onus of spending very considerable sums both of public and private money. If this project were now brought before Parliament for the first time to-night, I should most certainly say give the Bill a Second Reading, and let it go before a Committee for adequate examination; but this project, very far from being brought before the House for the first time to-night, has been brought before Parliament—or similar projects—on no less than three occasions during the past four years. On each of these occasions private individuals and local authorities affected by the proposal have been compelled to spend large sums of money, and to spend them wastefully, I think, in fighting the Bill. It does seem to me to be a monstrous thing that a project of this kind should be able to come here year after year, in spite of the fact that it has already been adequately examined and rejected by Committees, and that there has been imposed this unnecessary and wasteful expenditure upon individuals and local authorities affected by the scheme. I can speak with some knowledge on this matter, because for at least three miles of its length, this railway will run through one of the best residential districts in the north of London, the district of Finchley, which lies within the confines of my own Constituency. I can assure the House that I know that during the past few years alone, the Finchley Urban District Council has been compelled to spend a sum of no less than £3,000 in fighting this Bill in Committee.

I received this morning a statement which no doubt was sent to other Members of the House, by the promoters of the scheme in favour of the Bill, and I was somewhat staggered by two statements which occurred in it, and which no doubt purported to be founded on the facts of the case. The first is, that the whole of the railway through Finchley will be constructed under deep cuttings, tunnel or covered way, so that the amenities of that district will not be seriously interfered with. The second is, that the railway, if constructed as shown on the deposited plans and sections would not prevent any town planning scheme that may be under consideration from being properly and conveniently carried out. I suppose that it will be at admitted that the Finchley Urban District Council, who at the same time are the road authority for the district, and also the local authority under the Housing and Town Planning Act of 1909, are as well qualified to speak on this matter, from the point of view of Finchley, as the promoters of this Bill. Let us see to what extent the two statements to which I have just referred are justified by the facts. The Finchley Urban District. Council, representing the ratepayers and inhabitants of the district, have petitioned against the Bill. In the course of the petition they say this:— Your Petitioner? contend that the construction of the proposed railway through their district in the manner proposed will result in the serious depreciation of the value of one of the best portions of the district, and destroy the amenities thereof and the possibility of town planning in this part of the district in the manner contemplated by your Petitioners. They go on to point out, that if this rail-way is sanctioned in its present form it will, among other things, entail probably the compulsory demolition of some 363 workmen's houses, housing at the present time some 1,500 people of the working classes. Surely, that in itself is a matter worthy of consideration, especially at a time like the present, when the question of housing the working classes is demanding the serious attention of the public and of Parliament itself. Then look at the question from the financial point of view. The hon. Member for Tottenham observed that in the case of one of these local authorities—he was referring to the local authority in Finchley—the depreciation of the property resulting from the construction of this railway would involve a serious reduction of the rate-producing property of the district. That is perfectly true. It has been estimated by the chairman of that council, a very capable man, who is well qualified to give an opinion upon this particular point, that if this railway is built it will result in a reduction of something like £3,000 a year on the rates, which is equivalent in the case of Finchley to a rate of no less than three pence in the pound over all the district. The hon. Gentleman who moved the rejection of the Bill has asked those of us who are locally concerned to point out objections to the Bill from the point of view of our own localities. I will give one or two more examples of the way in which the scheme will injure this district. It will carry a deep cutting through a portion of land which is included in an extensive town-planning scheme, which has already recevied the assent of the Local Government Board. In view of that fact, which cannot be disputed, how comes it that the promoters of the Bill have circulated among Members of this House the statement that this railway, if constructed as shown on the deposited plans and sec-tons, would not prevent any town-planning scheme that may be under consideration from being properly and conveniently carried out. I would like any hon. Member who supports this Bill to explain how they have arrived at that extraordinary conclusion.

Then, again, the railway will practically destroy an open space in Finchley, which is at the present time reserved to the public and much valued by the inhabitants of the locality. More than that, it will destroy upwards of a hundred Finchley allotments in a district in which at the present time, owing to the growth of building and so on, it is almost impossible to secure land for purposes of that kind. I hope that I have said enough to show, from the point of view of the locality alone, and from the point of view of Finchley, that there are the gravest objections to the House once more giving a Second Reading to this Bill. In view of the fact that projects almost identical with this project have on various occasions in the recent past been rejected by competent Committees, I do think that we are entitled to ask that the House should not give this Bill a Second Reading unless it can be shown that there are urgent reasons for the construction of this line. What reasons are there? There is certainly no public demand' from those places which would be traversed by the line. All the local authorities have memorialised and petitioned against the Bill. Apart from the local authorities, and speaking from the point of view of the public, if we are to come to any conclusion from the number of letters, petitions, memorials, resolutions, and other ingenious devices, by which one's constituents succeed in bringing to one's notice their opinions and views, when matters of public importance have to be decided, I have no hesitation in saying, that so far as my constituency is concerned, there is an almost unanimous desire to see this Bill thrown out on Second Reading.

It is rather a significant fact that, so far as my memory serves, while I have received a number of letters and petitions against the Bill, I have only received a solitary letter from one individual in favour of this proposal. In the course of his letter, while he thought the Welsh Church Bill was a very bad Bill, and the Home Rule Bill a still worse Bill, and agreed with me in regard to those measures, he mildly regretted that I was prepared to pass this Railway Bill. That is the one solitary expression of public opinion which I have received, from the locality affected, in favour of the measure. No; if there is any public demand for facilities for the rapid transport of passengers, that demand is far better met by omnibuses, tramways, electric railways, and tubes than it can possibly be met by a heavy railway scheme of this kind. So far as I have been able to ascertain, there is really only one serious argument advanced by the promoters of the Bill in support of the proposal—that is, an argument "which has been advanced on military grounds. I received a letter this morning from the hon. Member for Marylebone West (Sir Samuel Scott), in which, while asking me to come down to the House to support the Bill, he pointed out to me that the line is most urgently required by the military authorities.


Hear, hear.


The hon. Member says "Hear, hear." With all due respect to him, I venture to say that statement is fudge. I think I know what the attitude of the military authorities is towards this Bill. Indeed, it was very accurately summed up by the Chairman of the Committee which dealt with this Bill last year—the Committee which rejected it. I am quite aware that a certain number of hon. Friends of my own have been, to a certain extent, influenced by the argument adduced by the promoters of this Bill as to its being a military necessity, and therefore I will read the summing up of the Chairman of the Committee of last year, in which he put concisely the attitude of the military authorities towards this Bill. Counsel for the promoters was addressing the Committee, as I understand, and the Chairman, interrupting, said:— I do not think there is any misunderstanding there"— This is as regards the military argument: I take it from the two officers who were called on behalf of the War Office that they only put their views before the Committee to this extent, and to this extent alone, that if this railway was practicable, if it was required in the interests of the public, if it is a railway that Parliament should sanction, then it would be of great benefit to the war Office. Mr. Balfour Brown, K.C. (for the Promoters): I agree, Sir. The Chairman: They also went to this extent as the other alternative. If this railway was not practicable, if from the public point of view it, was not required, if Parliament did not think on the evidence the Bill should be passed, they did not come before Parliament to the extent of saying, but look at it from the military point of view: although it might not be sufficient in the interests of the public, still it would be a great advantage to the War office.' They would not go to that extent. That, I think, so far as my information goes, accurately sums up the attitude of the War Office with regard to these matters. Of course, if you go to the War Office and tell them that you are prepared to come forward with a sum of money to build a railway, the Department would be prepared to support you. They would support a railway anywhere if you are prepared to find the money and build the railway. If you suggested a railway to the moon the War Office would say it was a splendid thing, and would afford them additional facilities for the movement of troops. [An HON. MEMBER: "Not the present War Office."] Of course the War Office would like to see as many railways built either across the country or up and down the country, or in any direction as could be got, because they would afford additional facilities for the rapid move- ment of troops and so on. I do not think for one moment that the attitude of the War Office in regard to this particular project is any different from what it would be with regard to the construction of any other railway in any other part of the United Kingdom. That being so, I am really puzzled by the hon. Member's interest in this Bill, and by his saying that the War Office regards this project as a national necessity. If it were a national necessity, it would have been passed before now.


What I said was, "Of national importance."


If what the hon. Member states really represents the fact, I take the line is "most urgently required by the military authorities," it would have been constructed many years ago.


Those were not my own words. They are taken from the evidence of Sir John Cowans, given before the Committee last year.


Those are the words in the letter of the hon. Member, but, at any rate, whether they are his words or those of Sir John Cowans, or anybody else, I submit that it is ridiculous to interpret them in that way. If the line is a most urgent military necessity, of course we would have had it long before now. It would never have been thrown out over and over again, as it has been, by Committees competent to consider the arguments for and against a Bill of this kind. In conclusion, I would urge the House once more to vote against the Second Reading of this Bill, for these three or four main reasons: First of all, because the Bill is one that has already been rejected by Committees in the past; secondly, because it is one for which there is no public demand, so far as I can ascertain; thirdly, because if this railway is constructed it will largely ruin many of the best residential districts in the suburbs of our great capital; and lastly, and by no means least, because if this railway is constructed, as is proposed under the present scheme, it will undoubtedly place insuperable obstacles in the way of the scientific and proper development of greater London, "which everybody who is interested in these matters knows, is one of the most urgent problems.

9.0 P.M.


I had hoped that I might be able to follow the speeches of the promoters of this scheme, but I find that they are sitting together, and both sitting silently solemn. Therefore, I get up to address the House to say why I think this Bill should not be read. I would like to congratulate the hon. Members who are promoting the Bill that they have fixed on a name for it. For the second time it is called the Northern Junction Railway Bill, but it has had many names. It has been called the North Metropolitan Railway Bill, the Metropolitan Outer Circle Bill, the Great Western and Great Northern Junction Bill, the London Outer Circle Bill, the Greater London Railway Bill, and now it is the Northern Junction Railway Bill. The name does not matter. I am opposing this Bill as my predecessors representing the Division I represent have opposed it before. The Noble Lord (Earl Ronaldshay) said that he had only one lukewarm letter asking him whether be was not supporting the Bill. I confess I have had a resolution from the urban district council of Friern Barnet in my Division asking me to support the Bill. I was rather surprised, because I did not think they were touched by the Bill, but I find I was wrong, and that if the line were constructed it would touch part of their sewage farm. It is one thing for a line to run through a sewage farm, and quite another thing to run through your back garden. I attach due weight to that requisition of course, but I cannot say I am greatly influenced by it. I have had numbers of requisitions and there have been requisitions from meetings against this Bill, and it is because I have had those that I am here to speak against it. Another curious thing about this Bill I could never make out, and that is why the railway companies which want this Bill do not come here and ask for it themselves. The Great Northern Company wanted a junction to join with the London and South Western, and now it is the Great Northern and the Great Central which want a connection with the London and South Western why do we not have the hon. Baronet representing the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) here on behalf of the Great Northern, and the hon. Baronet the Member for St. George's (Sir A. Henderson) on behalf of the Great Central asking for this Bill? Why is it left to this holding company to do so, knowing very well, as they say, that if connected it will be taken over by the Great Northern and the Great Central and the London and South Western Railway Companies. It may be said that the opposition displayed by the electors I represent and in Hornsey and other parts of Middlesex, is a selfish and foolish opposition, and that here we have a scheme that will be of great advantage not alone nationally but locally to the inhabitants of Middlesex and outer London, and, indeed, that is in the statement in support of the Bill, and that it will, if passed, create a new outer circle railway, and that this will be formed with Moorgate Street as a centre, going by East Finchley and back to Moorgate Street. If the Great Northern and the Great Central and the London and South-Western are so very zealous to encourage suburban traffic and to do all they can for the residents of Middlesex, through Finchley, Enfield, Farmer's Green and other places, there are a great many things which might be done which they have not done. Why do they not electrify the line at Moorgate Street and from Finsbury Park up to Enfield so that a man can get into a train at Moorgate and run through to Enfield, and why do they not build stations at one or two places where they are wanted badly, such as Friern Barnet. I do not, however, come here to oppose this Bill simply because it is promoted, and because it will benefit the Great Northern Railway or the Great Central. I am not opposing it simply because the Great Northern have left undone things which they ought to have done—not at all. I am asked to oppose this Bill on other grounds, and on fair grounds. There is the question of conveying troops, and by all means let us have all facilities for bringing troops from Aldershot or Salisbury Plain to the Eastern counties in an expeditious way. I do not want, we do not want, to deny to the householder in Kent facilities for getting cheap coal from this new area. I have been told that there is a great deal of coal in Kent, and I have been asked to put money into coal mines there. We do not want to deny to the householder in Kent any facilities or to make his coal any dearer for him. I do not want, far be it from me, to prevent the Great Northern and Great Central from being able to compete on fair terms with the London and North-Western and the Midland in carrying this coal to the South of England. That, as a matter of fact, is really what this Bill is for. It is the competition of these two lines, the Great Northern and the Great Central, which want to engage on level terms, undoubtedly very reason ably, with the London and North-Western and the Midland.

Those are all admirable objects in themselves, and I have nothing to say against them. We object to being made the corpus vile in this experiment. Town planning has been alluded to. As hon. Members know, we have a town-planning scheme on and under this Bill. What is going to happen to us? In the promoters' memorandum there are all sorts of things to happen in Finchley, such as cuttings and tunnels, but there is also to be an embankment in Southgate. Can you imagine a town - planning scheme with an embankment running through it. I put it to an hon. Member the other day who was arguing this question, "What about the embankment that is going through the middle of the town planning scheme?" He replied that nowadays they make embankments look quite pretty. You have embankments on one side of which you have the sun and a southerly aspect and on the other side you have no sun but lots of bracing air. I suppose in the same way we should have one side of this embankment planted with rock garden plants and on the other side a tropical garden. That may be all right, but it is not good enough for practical people like those who I represent. Long before housing and town-planning schemes were taken in hand, Southgate and the district round about did its best for itself. It always endeavoured to provide lots of open spaces, and was always anxious to secure that not too many houses should be built to the acre. The result is that that district is now a high-class dormitory of London, and through this high-class dormitory the promoters want to send this railway.

If the "No" of the districts which are opposing this Bill meant taking something from the safety of the country, or denying the blessing of cheap coal or cheap food to other parts, the House might very very reasonably say that we were selfish, short-sighted and narrow, and vote against it. But that is not our attitude at all. By all means have your Northern Junction Railway, but put it further up. Let us keep a radius of at any rate fifteen or twenty miles from Charing Cross clear of such a proposal. Let us have nothing there which has not been duly considered by some central authority which can deal in an authoritative manner with these matters. I am not a railway engineer or surveyor, but it is perfectly obvious that this railway could be built quite easily if only it were taken further up. Hitchin is only thirty miles from London. Why not construct the railway from Hitchin, via Uxbridge, down to Basingstoke or By-fleet? You could then get your troops up and your coal down, and you would be in a district where the railway would probably be welcomed, and you could get land quite reasonably. This railway may be an advantage from a military point of view, or for bringing coal from the new coal fields to the South of England, where I know, to my cost, coal is very much more expensive than it is in the North. But you must keep the line right away from this district. You must keep it away from these garden cities. If the Bill did that. I would say on behalf of this district, "God bless you: go on with your scheme and prosper!" But if it is going to be the scheme which has been rejected so frequently by the electors of Middlesex and by this House, I can only say on their be half that I shall offer to the Bill a most uncompromising opposition.


At the express desire of the hon. Member who preceded me, I rise to support the Second Reading of this Bill. If all the objections which have been urged against the Bill were true, it would be perfectly right that the Bill should not be sent to a Committee. May I allude to some of the statements which have been made? First of all, it is said not only that the Bill has been before the House on many occasions, but that it has been repeatedly rejected by the House. That statement is not quite accurate. The Bill in its present form has never been before the House at all. A Bill was before a Committee of the House last year, and that Bill was rejected; but the only part of that Bill which has been retained in the present Bill is the parts against which there was little or no opposition. I am speaking in the presence of the Chairman of the Committee which rejected that Bill. As a matter of fact, the Bill now before the House has been considerably altered, and it is an enormous improvement on that part of the Bill which was strongly objected to by the Hampstead Garden Suburb last year. It is not a fair way of putting the the case to say that this Bill has been before the House on several occasions. [An HON. MEMBER: "It is the fact."] A Bill called the Northern Junction Railway Bill has been before the House, but not the same Bill as this. If it were the same Bill as last year, it would be perfectly right that it should be thrown out on Second Reading; but inasmuch as we have learnt by experience, and have tried to avoid the difficulites in which we found ourselves last year, it is not fair to say that it is the same Bill, or indeed, the same line as that which was rejected by the Committee last year.

Reference has also been made to the attitude of local authorities. We are told that an enormous number of local authorities through whose districts the line passes, object to the Bill. I do not know why that statement is made. I have here a list of local authorities who are at the present time opposing the Bill, but I have also a list of local authorities which are not opposing it. We have not heard a word about the local authorities through whose districts the line passes which are not opposing the Bill. I will take one or two of them. Ealing is said to be strongly opposed to the Bill and to have petitioned against it. We have never heard that, as a matter of fact, the Ealing Chamber of Commerce held a meeting and called upon the Ealing District Council to rescind their opposition to the Bill. We have never heard that the Ealing Parliament did exactly the same. It must be remembered also that we came to terms with Ealing last year, and that the line as far as Ealing is concerned is exactly the same this year as it was last year. As we came to terms with Ealing last year, I do not see any insuperable obstacle to our coming to terms with them this year. Wembley also has been mentioned. We have already practically come to an agreement with Wembley. Wembley opposed because the line went through a town planning scheme which they had in view. As a matter of fact, we have come to an absolute agreement with the trustees of the estate concerned, and therefore the opposition of Wembley will immediately disappear. I come to the opposition of Finchley. That is a serious opposition. It is a strong opposition. But it certainly is not a stronger opposition to-day than it "was six weeks ago. Finchley opposed on the ground that we were going to do harm to their town-planning scheme. Under these circumstances they very properly opposed. But it was unfortunate for Finchley that some time ago Finchley called two public meetings in favour of the town-planning scheme. The chairman of the district council, who strongly opposed this Bill, went from one meeting to another and told the second meeting that the town-planning scheme of the district council was being slaughtered by the electors of Finchley. It does not seem a very strong argument in favour of the council's scheme when the electors of Finchley are opposing it, nor does it seem a very strong argument that we are destroying that scheme—an argument that Finchley has put forward as a strong argument—when, as a matter of fact, the electors of Finchley are not in favour of the district council's town-planning scheme. What I say can be easily proved by the result of the elections that have taken place in Finchley within the last three weeks, when several of the supporters of the railway were returned and several of the supporters of the town-planning scheme were rejected.

Hendon is down in the Schedule as opposing the Bill. A curious part of the opposition of Hendon is that they had two meetings called under the Borough Funds Act. They were asking for funds to petition against this Bill. At neither of these meetings did they get a quorum. A public meeting was called in Hendon by the opponents of the Bill. The chair was taken by one of the strong opponents of the Bill. Two councillors addressed the meeting in opposition to the Bill. I attended that meeting, and spoke in favour of the Bill, and the result was that a resolution in favour of this Bill was carried. I should like to mention that the following local authorities through whose district this line passes do not oppose. They are Acton, Hanwell, Greenfield, Willesden, Kingsbury, Friern Barnet, and Hendon. It is a curious thing that the hon. Member for Hornsey spoke so strongly against this Bill when Hornsey itself is not opposing it. It does not show that there is any very great opposition to this Bill—at any rate, in one part of the constituency of the hon. Member. There is a third objection, which, of course, is an objection which I am bound to deal with, and that is the objection of the Garden Cities Association against the Bill. That is more of an academic than a practical opposition, because, as a matter of fact, if this Bill comes before Committee, the Garden Cities Association, which looks after town-planning schemes generally, has no locus standi. It is only here in this House that it is able to exercise its influence to prevent this Bill going upstairs, because we do not, as a matter of fact, injure any town-planning scheme in esse. It has no locus stanch before the Committee, where objections can be thoroughly thrashed out.

The Garden Cities Association opposes this Bill and this line, not because it is this particular line, but because it will oppose any line that is going round the North of London. They say that practically the whole of the North of London is mapped out for town-planning schemes. That is not an objection to this Bill in particular: it is an objection to any railway Bill which passes around North London. Therefore, it makes it very difficult to have any line passing round North London which on those grounds could not be opposed. The Garden Cities' Association opposes every Bill on behalf of town-planning schemes which are in esse at the present time. I would suggest to the House that to make this opposition relevant would be to give the Garden Cities' Association such a monopoly of land and land tenure that has not been heard of, at any rate in this country, up to the present time. Another objection has been raised to this line: that it is a steam railway. That is so at the present time, because it was impossible for it to be otherwise. We are anxious that it should be an electrical line, but it was impossible for us to join up with a trunk line when at the present time those trunk lines are steam lines. It is not possible for us to join up with an electric line. In the course of time the lines in which we are connecting in the district outside London will become electric lines. If anyone looks at the map and plans of the line, they will see that the lines on which it is planned show that we have a junction with the Metropolitan Railway at Neasden, and with the Great Northern at East Finchley, and that these junctions are becoming electric junctions. If this Bill is allowed to go upstairs, and the line is made, I believe by the time it is made it will not be a steam line at all. I have stated publicly before, and I am glad to have the opportunity of stating so again, that I believe by the time the line is made, the London and South-Western, the Metropolitan, and the Great Central will have local electrification, and that the Great Northern will have it at Finchley. By the time this line is constructed and in running order, it will be an electric and not a steam line. That, I think, meets to a great extent the objections of the Committee on the question of noise and smoke. I have said a few words about the public authorities who do not oppose this Bill, but I would like in addition to give those who support the Bill. In spite of what the Noble Lord the Member for Hornsey said these supporters are the War Office, the Road Board, and the Commissioner of Police, who has made a Report to the Home Office; the Great Northern, the Great Central, the Metropolitan and the London and South-Western Railways. Throughout the whole length of line., although it is so close to London, and although, as we have heard to-night, if goes through densely populated districts, it is a curious thing that if this line is so objectionable as has been represented that only thirteen landowners have been found to petition against the line being made.


Out of how many?


I should say hundreds. I should have thought from what has been said, that every landowner and every householder in Middlesex opposed.


Does that include householders?


Throughout the whole length of the line there were only thirteen landowners who objected to it going through their land. I think that in itself shows that there cannot be this extraordinarily strong feeling against the line being made that has been represented. I see in his place the hon. Member for the Muckross Division of Yorkshire, the hon. Member for North Lambeth Division, the hon. Member for Somerset, and the hon. Member for South Leitrim. They compose the Committee that sat upon this Bill last year. We do not know the reason why the Bill was thrown out, but the promoters do know, that there was a very strong objection in certain quarters to the Bill, as put forward last year, and we have very honestly tried to meet this objection. There was an objection on account of the Hampstead Garden Suburb, and I think, as far as I know-, that helped very largely, in fact, chiefly, to kill our Bill. We have taken care to go nowhere near the Garden Suburb now, and the Garden Suburb extension have no locus standi to oppose us in Committee, and when it is known that they have no locus standi to oppose it in Committee, I think it is really hard that their influence should be used to prevent this Bill going upstairs and receiving the treatment that Railway Bills have received in this House for years and years. I do not see why this Bill should be treated differently to Railway Bill's that have been brought forward in this House for so many years. It is no great encouragement to private enterprise and to promoters that, at any rate, a Bill of this kind should not be given a chance of being thrashed out upstairs in Committee. I said I see the Members of the Committee here to-night, and I should like to ask them if they could see their way to say whether this Bill, with the improvements that have been made in it, and with the efforts that we have made to try and meet the objections to the Bill, and their knowledge of the Bill—and they know far more about it than any other Members of the House of Commons, as they must, because they have all the evidence before them—and I would like to ask them whether it is their view, without discussing the merits, that, at any rate, the Bill should be given a chance to go before a Committee, where evidence could be taken as to whether or not it should be passed. We, the promoters, are prepared to take our chance, as to whether the Bill is passed or is not passed by the Committee, but what we ask the House is, not to cut us off peremptorily from getting that chance. We ask the House to give us a run for our money. If the Bill is thrown out in Committee, as the hon. Member for Tottenham suggests, we will take our chance, but surely a Committee is the proper tribunal to try whether a Bill of this kind should or should not pass. It is impossible, I venture respectfully to suggest, in the short space of two hours and a quarter for the House to decide on which side the real truth lies, with regard to a Bill of this magnitude. I could speak for three or four hours for the Bill, just as the hon. Member for Tottenham, and the Noble Lord the Member for Hornsey could speak against it; but I should like to have the opinion of the Committee who rejected the Bill as to whether in their opinion they think after the improvements made, the Bill ought to have a chance to go upstairs and ought not to be rejected on Second Reading.


The hon. Member who has just spoken appealed to the Committee, to which the Bill was referred last year, for their views, and I should like to say a few words as Chairman of that Committee. The Committee sat for several weeks, and heard counsel and witnesses both in favour and against the measure; and they not only did that, but they also took a survey of the entire route of the proposed line. The main question which decided the Committee in throwing out the Bill was this: On full consideration, they recognised that there were, of course, and are, great advantages in this line, and that great advantages would accrue to London if the line were made, but there was at the same time much opposition to it from various points of view. The point of view which decided the Committee was the objection of the Hampstead Garden Suburb, and that was such that the Committee felt bound to decline to pass the Bill, and accordingly rejected the Preamble. The Committee, as those acquainted with private Bill legislation know, were confined to the deviation mentioned in the plan laid before the Committee, and we had no power to so alter the line as to obviate the difficulties with regard to the Garden Suburb, but so far as I understand the situation now—I cannot say definitely, because I have not the materials before me upon which I could form an opinion, and I do not say to-day that this Bill ought to pass the House of Commons—I go so far as to say this, that as I understand great and material alterations have been made with regard to the proposed railway as compared with the scheme, which was before the Committee last year, and I for one consider that it will be best, in the interests of all parties, that this Bill should be sent to a Committee upstairs. Let it go to a new Committee who will hear evidence, and who will report to Parliament upon it. We spent many weeks in considering this matter, and in hearing evidence. It is impossible for the House of Commons, at this stage, to make up its mind as to whether or not this railway should be sanctioned by Parliament. Let it pass its Second Reading now, and let it be sent upstairs. We shall then have a Report, and if the Committee consider the Preamble is proved there will still be an opportunity for the House of Commons, on Third Reading, to discuss the question, but I feel, having had a great deal to do with this Bill last year, that the ground on which we threw the Preamble out, and a great many of the objections have been met, and I think, in all the circumstances, it would be in the interests of all the parties if this measure once again was sent to a Committee upstairs.


I cannot help thinking that it is extremely unfortunate we should have had the speech to which we have just listened. In our legal procedure no one would ever think of calling, when a trial has concluded, for the grounds on which the jury formed their conclusion, and I think the last speaker has forgotten to consider all the pangs of the ratepayers who have to pay these Parliamentary expenses in order to support their objection. The hon. Member said, speaking from recollection, that the Bill has been materially altered. I wonder whether he looked at the map to see for himself, because if hon. Members look at the map, they will very soon see and appreciate, that while the green line on the map indicates the route of last year's Bill, and the red line the present route, there is but a very small portion of the line where any variation is made. It is true that instead of actually skirting the Garden Suburb, the line is put four hundred yards away. What is 400 yards when you have an unsightly embankment cutting off your garden suburb from the rest of the Weald? I ask hon. Members to go and see the district for themselves. Let them walk across Hampstead Heath and, looking down upon this beautiful scene, contemplate if they can the effect on the garden suburb of having a huge embankment at one place and a deep cutting 420 feet wide and 32 feet deep. There are hon. Members here from Wales, and they are familiar with the Severn tunnel from the time it leaves Chipping Sodbury to the tunnel entrance, and they must be familiar with the ghastly embankment which cuts off the country leaving it desolate on either side. It is those things we object to in Middlesex. I am in the happy position of residing on the confines of Finchley partly in Hornsey, and I represent another district materially affected by this Bill. I have been a member of the county council there, and therefore I am intimately acquainted with every corner of the county. I cannot help commiserating with the hon. Member for Harrow (Mr. Mallaby-Deeley) that he should find four of his colleagues in opposition to him.

The hon. Member for the Harrow Division lives in the county of Surrey, and what effect this Bill may have on his own Division I do not know. Let us examine what he says. He says that this Bill has never been before the House before. If a railway running side by side, except at the junction, is not substantially the same thing, then I do not know what the English language is. He says this line has been altered considerably. I have looked at it on the map, and I have information from those who have to deal with these matters professionally, and they tell me that the line is substantially the same, and in Ealing it is absolutely the same. In this district they have built a class of house eminently wanted for London residents, varying from £60 to £70 a year. There are beautiful roads, and it is a beautiful district, and this is to be devastated by a road cutting right through the district, and I am not sure that it does not destroy the Haberdashers School to which a great many of the girls come from all parts of the surrounding neighbourhood. The hon. Member spoke about the local authority, and he appeared to turn somewhat triumphantly towards where I was sitting when he told the House that he had the Ealing Chamber of Commerce behind him and the Ealing Local Parliament. The hon. Member did not say that the town council this year, having awakened to the danger this Bill seeks to impose upon the district, have not only petitioned against it, but, notwithstanding all the efforts the hon. Member has made, they have refused to budge an inch, and they are determined to go on with their opposition to the bitter end. I have a great deal of sympathy with the hon. Member, because I know that he has gone about with his consulting engineer just like "Don Quixote" and "Sancho Panza," and he has tried to convert the district council to his way of thinking. I know as an old electioneerer how these things have been done. Promises have been made, and it was the promise of the hon. Member's engineer that caused the Ealing Chamber of Commerce—


I have newer been to Ealing at all.


Well, it was his engineer, and he sent "Sancho Panza" to Ealing. At any rate, he went and made a number of representations in which I am sure they believed, but I know that on one occasion, in addressing a Finchley audience, the hon. Member for Harrow had to tell them it was not what his engineer promised them but what he promised them, and the one was very considerably less than the other. That is the way those two bodies have been dealt with. Now we come to Wembley. Does the hon. Member for Harrow say that Wembley is likely to object in the same way as these other districts, which are developing rapidly, and which have been developing rapidly for some years past? Then he comes to Finchley and he deals with the town-planning question. He tells us that the town-planning scheme of Finchley is objected to, but surely he does not wish to mislead the House, and he rides off on the fact that there has been more than one scheme. The first scheme has already received the sanction of the Local Government Board and has reached the harbour, and there is no chance of wrecking it. There are two additional schemes, and therefore this is a grand opportunity to carry out town-planning legislation, and if hon. Members had only gone to see the extension of the present suburb by the leasing of a large tract of land from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, they would see that picturesque houses are going to be put up which bids fair to make that part of Middlesex as model a village as Port Sunlight or Bourneville. The whole of that scheme will be wrecked if we are to have these cuttings, over which nothing can be built. Let us see how much of this is true with regard to Finchley. A note has been passed to me since the speech which was made by the hon. Member for Harrow by a person I know very well, who says that at the recent election at Finchley two members were returned in favour of town planning. The council now consists of fifteen members in favour of town planning and three against it, and yet the hon. Member represents the electors of Finchley as being against town planning.


I said nothing of the kind. I said they were not against town planning, but against the particular scheme which the district council has put forward.


I think the impression left upon the mind of the House was that the question of town planning was in jeopardy in Finchley, but there are fifteen members on the district council now in favour of it and three against. The electors, moreover, have returned members to that council, so that the whole of the council is now as one man opposed to this Bill. There is no question about that. I pass on to Hendon. The hon. Member said that his evidence with regard to Hendon was that they had failed to get a quorum on two occasions when they summoned meetings. It is perfectly new to me, and those who are acquainted with local government, that any district council is bound to call a meeting under the Borough Funds Act except when promoting a Bill, and I cannot imagine that the Hendon Council are doing the work of supererogation in summoning meetings they are not bound to summon. I know that a meeting at West Hendon, a very exciting meeting, which had been carefully arranged, ended in a majority of two only in favour of this Bill. Again, the hon. Member speaks of Acton. This railway, if it touches Acton at all, only does so for a few yards, and Acton, which has had to put up its rates 7d. in the £ to make up for its present financial difficulties, is not likely to embark in a Parliamentary opposition when the railway only touches Acton for a few yards. I cannot answer for Hanwell, except that I know it is where the asylum is situated. Then there is Greenwood. It is remotely affected, and besides, it is an open district, with fields and pastures.

He also speaks of Willesden. I have looked at the map to see whether Willesden can possibly be affected. I cannot come to the conclusion that any portion of Willesden is affected by the line. If it is, it is only that open portion bisected and bisected again with railways passing in all directions. Lastly, he speaks of Hornsey. I do not know where it comes in Hornsey. It must be a few yards somewhere in the neighbourhood of Muswell Hill. They are not so foolish as to spend the ratepayers' money in respect of a scheme which they know their neighbours who are affected are fighting, and who have fought it before successfully. He speaks further of the War Office. I should like to tell the story about the War Office, because there is a good deal behind it. Perhaps before I do so I ought to tell the House the way in which the case was summed up on the last occasion on behalf of the promoters. Here is the speech of the leading counsel for the promoters at the conclusion of the whole proceedings before the Select Committee. I want the House to bear this in mind, having regard to the appeal made by the hon. Member for Harrow, that this Bill should go upstairs again, this different Bill, for consideration. Mr. Balfour Browne said:— I do not think I should take up much more of your time. It is a matter I think of great importance. This is the last chance. You will never find promoters again who are willing to come for a line if this is rejected. It was passed by the Commons as you will remember in 1911, and spoiled because a certain portion was taken off. You have the evideace of the gentleman called from the War Office to say that after all they hare got their support for the line. I want the line, the whole line, and nothing but the line, and I ask that the Preamble be proved. I have with regard to the War Office to call attention to the statement made by the hon. Member for Harrow at a meeting he attended at Hendon, and also at another meeting he attended at Finchley. He said:— Let me tell you the reasons I took it up, and why I am standing before you to-night. When I was first asked last year to stand sponsor to this Bill, the first thing I did before giving any answer to the Great Northern, or the Great Central, or Mr. Foxlee, was to consult the War Office authorities, and having received from them an assurance, which I am at liberty to give to you, that in their opinion this line was a necessity to the War Office and to the military authorities who would warmly support it on national grounds only, having nothing to do with the financial part of the Bill—when I received their assurance that they looked upon it as a line that ought to be made and they were prepared to support it, then I felt that at any rate I had one inducement to concern myself with this Bill. Upon that, the hon. Member for Tottenham put a question to the Secretary of State for War on the 3rd of March, asking him in specific terms this question:— Whether he or the Army Council, or any responsible Departmental officer of the War Office, has stated that the projected railway which is the subject of the Northern Junction Railway Bill now awaiting Second Reading, or the similar Bill rejected last year by the Select Committee, was a necessity to the War Office and to the military authorities who would warmly support it on national grounds only; and whether any assurance in such terms or to such effect has been given by the War Office or any person speaking officially on its behalf to the hon. Member for Harrow. Colonel Seely: The view of the War Office is that all extensions of railways giving further facilities for the movement of troops in time of war are desirable, and that this is particularly the case with regard to railway extensions effecting better communication between the North and the South of London."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd March, 1911, cols. 218–9, Vol. LIX.] As a matter of fact, it is North-East and South-West—rather more East and West than North and South. That answer being eminently unsatisfactory, I myself put down a question. I asked the Secretary of State for War:— Whether the Army Council, or any official on its behalf, has to his knowledge and with his sanction stated that the construction of the Northern Junction Railway, the subject of the Bill now awaiting Second Reading, was a national necessity, and that the War Office would support it on that ground; and has he ever made such a statement or any statement of a similar character. The Secretary of State for War referred me to the answer that he had given to the hon. Member for Tottenham, whereupon my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield (Mr. Newman) said:— Cannot the right hon. Gentleman give a direct yes or no answer? The answer was:— I do not think I can add anything to the answer I then gave. It seems to me to have been a very definite answer."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th March, 1914, col. 1030, Vol. LIX.] Upon that I wrote direct to the Secretary of State for War, and I got this reply:— In the opinion of the War Office any railway which facilitates transport on mobilisation is of value to the State from the military point of view. I wonder whether the Secretary of State for War, or his advisers, ever seriously thought that upon mobilisation they were going to get troops from the Depot at Aldershot along the South-Western to-that remote portion of it situated in Brentford, and then take them over innumerable S-shaped curves till you get to Palmer's Green so as to transfer them on the Great Northern. Obviously, if they want access to the East Coast the proper thing would be either to use the facilities they already have in the Great Eastern or else to go straight across country from. Hitchin to Basingstoke. Basingstoke canal is derelict, and here was an excellent opportunity of buying it up. So much for the War Office. I have the actual answers given by the officers. They were very cautious. It appears to me that they are always cautious in dealing with these matters. An officer, a captain, who was" called, was asked:— Do you consider the building of this railway within a reasonable time to be a matter of national importance? and he replied:— That is for the Quartermaster-General to say. Further, he was asked:— Do you consider the proposed new route more direct? He answered:— The actual directness is not a very material matter from the military point of view; whether it is one or two miles shorter or longer is quite immaterial from the point of view of the movement of troops. Then I come to the evidence of Major Sir John Cowans, Quartermaster-General, who was asked this question:— I take it from the point of view of the Army Council if this proposed new railway is required as a railway they would support it? and he answered, "Yes." Then he was asked:— You do not mean to say it should be made in any shape or form for the Army Council alone? To that he replied in the negative, and in re-examination he was asked:— I put it to you, it might, in a moment of national emergency, be well that there should be an alternative line for carrying the troops? and he answered:— That is what I was thinking of really. The more railway" we have, the better. Then he was further asked—and this was in the examination-in-chief, in which, as a rule, counsel in Parliamentary Committees put the words into the witness's mouth— Really, to sum it up, do you say that the building of this railway in its entirety is a matter of national importance? His reply was:— I say so, certainly. Then the Chairman observed:— I thought you would not go to that extent V The reply to that was:— In times of emergency it is an alternative. You say a railway there in time of emergency would be of great service? Yes, of the greatest service. If made in a reasonable time in its entirety? 10.0 P.M.

I can well understand that question in view of past history, for the railway has been abandoned time after time. The line was promoted as far back as 1866. It was also promoted in 1882, 1885, and 1888, and it has been abandoned time after time because the promoters could not find the money to make the line. In those days, it should be remembered, the line would have gone through an open area, and not have come into contact with town-planning schemes. I now come to a passage in the examination of the hon. Member for Harrow, who said he was assured by the War Office that the line was a very great necessity, and that they would give it all the support possible. They asked him not to agree to accept any emasculation of the Bill by arranging with the other companies to withdraw their opposition, or anything of that kind. They wanted the whole line, and the hon. Member added that there was an honourable understanding between the War Office and himself that if he obtained the Bill he should not sell it, but that the line should be constructed. He practically gave that undertaking. The hon. Member for Harrow has also said that the scheme has the support of the Road Board. The Middlesex County Council has not received any communication from the Road Board, but a communication has come to the Middlesex County Council, either directly through the hon. Member for Harrow or the solicitors, and that letter suggested that it would be a great economy if the proposed North-Western Road could run along parallel with the line of railway. But the House will not be surprised to learn that a railway which has to cut into tunnels 32 feet deep at some parts, and has high embankments at other parts, is not likely to lend itself to the construction of a road parallel with it with access to-neighbouring lands. So far from being economical, I venture to say that the county could construct the road at 50 per cent. less cost if they had their own route. I challenge the hon. Member for Harrow to produce any evidence in writing from the Road Board actually stating that they recommend this railway. Reference has been made to the landowners. I do not see how it can be suggested that they do not object, seeing that there has been a petition from residents in Ealing alone, signed by owners of land who object to this railway. I know Mr. Rothschild objected to it last year, and was represented before the Committee by counsel. His was a very reasonable objection, considering the way in which the railway proposed to cut his property off.

The main objection to this Bill having a Second Reading is that it has already been vexatiously promoted, and that the ratepayers of this county have been thereby put to enormous expense. We have had figures from Hornsey showing that its construction would mean a permanent reduction of rating income to the extent of a 3d. rate. In the borough of Ealing there will be 51 acres taken, and the property actually scheduled represents an approximate rateable value of £4,000. It has been estimated by an independent rating surveyor that the present loss in rates will be £1,366 a year, and that the potential loss of rateable value of houses which could be put on the land proposed to be taken and the depreciation of property indirectly affected is estimated at £8,000, making a total loss per annum of £4,099, while the best they can hope for, if the railway pays, is to get a rateable value of something like £500, plus any stations that may be erected. It has been suggested that the line is going to afford great facilities for passenger traffic. I believe, if it is ever constructed, I should be the only passenger, as I should be going back from my Constituency late at night; and should probably travel in the guard's van to keep that official company during his solitary journey. Remember the experiment has already been tried, because when the Midland Company constructed their line from Acton they were put under terms to take passengers. There were no passengers to take, and the result of it was that they gave it up altogether and ran it as a goods line alone.

There was communication until a short time ago between Willesden Junction and Ealing Broadway Station by means of motor coaches run at long intervals, but the dearth of passengers has been such that they have taken them off. I gave evidence myself on the Bill of 1906, which went much further out than this will go, and I was faced with it last year when I gave evidence in opposition to this Bill. As a matter of fact I was perfectly right in my conclusion. The Midddlesex County Council between 1906 and 1913 constructed at enormous expense an electric tramway from east to west. That line has cost more to construct by reason of the bridging—we had to reconstruct Willesden Junction bridge, and the bridges over the Midland, Great Western, and Metropolitan District—and the result is that it is the line which pays us least and on which the passengers are fewest. As a matter of fact, there is no passenger traffic for this line. Ealing is very well served with the tubes, the District railway, and innumerable omnibuses, and other means of communication, including the tramways from Shepherd's Bush. There is no passenger traffic here. All that is wanted is heavy mineral trade, puffing at all times of the night, making the houses and the whole district desolate and spoiling the property. The House will recollect that railways have been promoted from time to time since 1866, taking a much larger circle, when they could have made their line without interfering with the development of property. They have abandoned railway after railway. Now, after an interval of four years, they ask this House to send the Bill to a Committee, in order that more money may be spent in opposing it. It is a Bill which ought never to be allowed to be put on the Statute Book, because it will work untold harm to those districts who are struggling with the problem of the proper housing of the working classes and make it most difficult for them. It is upon these grounds of interference with local authorities and the amenities of the suburbs of London, that I ask the House not to read this Bill a second time, but to free these people from the burden they have had so often to shoulder in the Committee.


I should first of all like to associate myself with everything that the hon. Member for the Buck-rose Division (Sir Luke White) has said to-night. I am only here because I was on the Committee, where we tried to be fair. I am very anxious to try to be fair to the Bill to-night. I rise perhaps for the rather selfish reason of trying to say that, having once voted against a Bill, it is not inconsistent, or not illogical, to support it later on. I support this Bill at the present moment in so far as I think it ought to be sent upstairs. In the eloquent speech to which we have just listened from the hon. Member for Ealing (Mr. Nield) he advised hon. Members to go down and look at the land. We did go down and look at the land. I think that before voting for this Bill again I should like to go down. If I were on the Committee, which I certainly do not intend to be, it would be impossible to cast a vote for or against the Bill without seeing the actual course the line takes. In Committee, a number of things described as hardships were brought to our attention. I think we were agreed that adequate compensation would have remedied most of those hardships. The real crux of the situation was the Garden City. I need not tell the House what a Garden City is. The House knows that the object of a garden city is to provide picturesque, I will not say aesthetic, but nice comfortable homes for poor people with a certain amount of space and a certain amount of scenery. Obviously, if you drive a railway through a Garden City, or put a tunnel under it, you will destroy that object. You cannot have peace over a tunnel. However much you may like railways and deck them with roses they do not add to the beauty of the scenery. We had to weigh in the scales two things, I will not say the hypothetical advantages of this railway, but the future advantages of the railway, with the present and actual disadvantages that it imposes upon the Garden City. On that point I myself had very little hesitation in the way in which I should vote. Reference has been made to the military merits of this Bill, and I am bound to say that is one of the reasons that make me support it. It has merits from the point of view of an emergency mobilisation of the Army. It is on the these grounds that I am going to vote for it being sent upstairs.


I listened to one of the promoters of the Bill to-night, and I was struck with the complete absence of any argument in support of the Bill. The whole of his speech seemed to be that private Bills ought to be sent, as a matter of course, to a Committee upstairs; in other words, that the onus of proving that the Bill should not pass Second Beading is upon those who object to it rather than on those who support it. I live in one of these districts, namely, Southgate. Those who inhabit that district have as much claim to the consideration of this House as any garden city. Two Members of the Committee which considered a similar Bill last Session said that they threw the Bill out because the Hampstead Garden Suburb objected to it. I claim that the district of Southgate, in fact all the districts on the outside of London, have a claim to become garden cities if they can. I ask the House to reject the Second Reading of this Bill not because one district "which is influential comes forward and objects to it, but because this is a railway which is going round the immediate outskirts of London, which are growing areas where town plans are needed and where at the present time there is a concerted effort on the part of those districts to propose town plans and plans for great roads going in and out of London. The House would be well advised, on broad principles, in saying that this Bill should not go to a Committee, and that those authorities who are now considering town planning should not be put to the expense of opposing it in Committee. It is for that main broad reason that I ask the House to reject the Second Reading.


I believe prima facie a Railway Bill such as this ought to have a Second Reading. You do not get private promoters supporting a Bill of this kind unless there is a reasonable chance of it being remunerative. If it is going to be remunerative you may be pretty certain that it is going to be useful, and we have heard from the hon. Gentleman (Sir Luke White), who, I suppose, knows as much about the matter as anyone in the House, that this particular Bill has a great many advantages when you are looking at it from the public point of view. Secondly, prima facie, a Bill of this kind ought to go to a Select Committee. You have only to listen to the arguments which have been put for and against to see that it is absolutely impossible in the short time at the disposal of this House to thoroughly appreciate those arguments. For instance, my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Nield) has asked us to go to Hampstead to view the land. I should be only too delighted if I had the benefit of going in his company and under his auspices, but unfortunately I have to give my decision at eleven o'clock to-night, and I do not suppose it would be any use going there at this time of day. This Bill has been before a Select Committee already and has been considered upon its merits and been rejected. Unless the promoters can show that there is some material difference between the Bill as it is now-presented and as it was considered by the Committee, and rejected, we ought not to put the parties who are interested in this matter to the expense of fighting it again in the Committee. It seems to me that that is the real crux of the whole position. The hon. Gentleman (Sir Luke White) and my hon. Friend behind me have solved the difficulty for me, because they have both said upon their experience of this matter, as Members of the Committee, that they do not think it is the same. They think there are material differences, not only in the Bill, but also in the conditions, and therefore it ought to have a Second Beading, because it is impossible for us in the short time at our disposal to thoroughly go into all the pros and cons. I do not think it would be unreasonable to send the Bill to a Select Committee in the ordinary way.


I should like to say a word as a Member of the Committee, and the only one who voted for the Bill on the last occasion. I was very pleased to hear the hon. Gentleman (Sir Luke White) express the view that it should have a chance again of being sent to a Committee. We went over the ground last year and laboured the points, and taking into consideration the great military advantage of connecting two great railways, so as to enable troops on mobilisation to move more speedily in the event of war, certainly, to my mind, it is a Bill which should have our support. Anyhow, I endorse the opinion that the Bill should receive a Second Reading, so that it may have a chance of going up to a Committee.


We have heard once more the argument that this Bill ought to go upstairs to a Committee. That argument is used in regard to every private Bill which is promoted, and I am not prepared to say that it is a bad argument, although I believe it was invented by a member of the Parliamentary Bar. I think it is an argument which may have much too wide an application. I think, when a Bill in these terms is promoted year after year, it places a burden upon the opponents, and particularly upon municipalities and local authorities, in opposing the Bill, and therefore we ought to be more careful than we are in saving them from that burden. The hon. Member for Harrow (Mr. Mallaby-Deeley) told us very frankly that he wished to have a run for his money, and I should be sorry that so sportsmanlike a Member should be denied that opportunity. But we ought to consider more carefully the position of the fifteen opponents, all of whom will have to employ Parliamentary agents, solicitors, members of the Parliamentary Bar, and others, who will run up large sums in opposing the Bill which has already been rejected more than once, and which, I think, if it goes upstairs, will not be sanctioned on this occasion. For that reason, I shall vote heartily against the Second Reading.


The remarks of the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Radford) have, I think, been entirely answered by hon. Members who sat on the Committee last year. These hon. Members have pointed out to the House that this is not by any means the same Bill as that which came before them last year. An hon. Member made rather a new proposition. So far as I could ascertain, he made a suggestion as to what should be the line adopted by this House in regard to railway enterprises in a radius of fifteen or twenty miles around London. If the principle indicated is that which this House is going to adopt with regard to railway Bills and all other traffic Bills in reference to the district around London I am afraid that it will do a great deal of harm. The hon. Member for Ealing spoke about certain promises which were made by my hon. Friend, who is, with myself, a promoter of this Bill. I can assure him that any promises made will be most strictly adhered to. Every argument of my hon. Friend against the Bill seemed to be an argument in favour of the Second Reading. He brought forward what were purely matters of detail that were irrelevant to the Second Reading. The only matter which he brought forward which might be relevant was the question of the War Office. Personally, I take a very great interest in the War Office and military matters, and, frankly, one of the reasons why I have collaborated with my hon. Friend in promoting this Bill is because I believe most firmly that this railway is of vital importance in mobilising troops in times of emergency. The Noble Lord the Member for Hornsey was somewhat hard on me when he described the letter which I addressed to him as fudge. I quoted entirely from the evidence given by the Quartermaster-General of the Army, but I desire to read now from the sworn evidence given before the Committee by two officers of the War Office. The first officer who gave evidence was the staff captain of railway transport:— I want to ask you as representing the War Office if they (the railways) suffice in case of emergency or in time of war?—Personally, you would have to do without them. You would have to do without them of course, but in case of emergency or in time of war would the present facilities in your view be inadequate?—yes. And then he goes on to explain the reasons why the present facilities are inadequate, and why trains are broken up at Clapham Junction, to get round to the Great Northern system. Perhaps even more important evidence is that of the Quartermaster-General. I believe that this is the first occasion upon which the Quartermaster-General of the War Office has given evidence before a Committee on a railway Bill. That rather emphasises the importance which the War Office and the Secretary of State for War attach to this particular Bill. My hon. Friend read out, as I asked him to do, the most important part of Sir John Cowans' evidence:— This proposed new railway is of great value?—Yes, most distinctly. Do you say that the building of this railway in its entirety is a matter of national importance?—Yes, certainly. That is a most important point, that the building of the railway in its entirety must be insisted upon by the War Office as being essential for their purpose. My hon. Friend asked a very pertinent question, as a Member of the Committee, and the answer was:— We have to consider besides the movement of troops the food supply of London and various other things. The food supply of London in that case, as hon. Members, I am certain, are perfectly aware, would be a very difficult matter; and I do sincerely trust that the House will see its way to give this Bill a Second Reading, and allow it to go to a Committee upstairs. If any of those points which have to be brought forward by the various opponents of the Bill are put before the Committee, and are proved, then the Committee would throw out the Bill. I think that, on every ground, we have a right to ask the House to give the Bill a Second Reading, and let it go to a Committee upstairs.


I live in Finchley, and I know the absolute opposition that there is on the part of the inhabitants of that district to this Bill. The hon. Gentleman has told us that along the line some thirteen landowners had been approached, and I presume he referred to the owners of large areas, because the householders of Finchley have banded together to fight against this Bill, and a large number of them are landowners in the sense that they own the sites on which their houses stand. There is opposition on the part of some who own large areas of land, but there is some opposition which to a certain extent has been abated. Last year, at a great meeting held at Finchley to oppose this Bill, a very influential resident took the chair. I believe his opposition has been abated considerably. I am given to understand that if this Bill passes his house will probably be purchased and eventually presented to Finchley. That may of course be merely a coincidence, but to what extent that kind of influence has abated opposition I do not know. We have it on the authority of two local authorities that the construction of this line will permanently reduce the rateable value of the area compared with the rateable value that it may be expected to achieve. This new line, though it would not run through an existing garden suburb, would run through an area which has been scheduled as one of the most desirable parts possible for the development of town planning on the outskirts of London, a thing that we have been promoting for years, a thing we have been inducing local authorities to take up, and a thing which local authorities are likely to work out, acting in cooperation. In view of the fact that we want to see outside London developed along lines different from those lines which have been followed on the inside, and in view of the fact that if you send the Bill upstairs it means an enormous increase in the expenses of those opposing it, the measure is strongly opposed by the inhabitants. I am told that the cost of opposing the Bill to one society alone was £2,000, an amount which otherwise would have gone to a garden suburb if they had not had to brief a counsel to act for them in the Committee. In view of those facts, it is unfair to the local authorities and to the residents in the districts affected that they should again be put to the expense of fighting this Bill. The line is not desired by anybody in the district; it is not asked for by anybody except the promoters. The War Office have not asked for it; they have only said that it would give them additional facilities, and, of course, they are always ready for increased facilities.


Has the hon. Gentleman heard the evidence?


I heard the evidence read by the hon. Member, and also by the hon. Member for Ealing (Mr. Meld). The War Office have not asked for this measure. It it only asked for by the promoters in order to make a profit out of it. They are to get the profit and the residents are to get the nuisance. I think the bargain is not fair.


It seems to me a very specious argument indeed to say that we should give this Bill a Second Reading and send it to Committee upstairs to judge of the merits of it. I rise to give briefly the reasons why, in my opinion, the House should deal with this question itself. I ask what are the reasons why we are asked to give a Second, Reading to this Bill? Practically they are that it will give a useful military communication between the north of London and the south-west, and the country north of London and the country south-west, and that it will also give useful communication for bringing coal and other heavy goods along that same line of communication. No doubt those are very important considerations, but I think the House is quite competent to say that those two purposes can be just as well obtained by a railway going north to south-west, but considerably further out. You would thereby protect what I may call the living belt of London, the belt around the edge of London, in which Londoners have to live, and to live healthy and happy lives and bring up healthy and happy families. I think that this House is quite competent and that it is its duty to say for itself, and not through a small Committee upstairs, whether it holds with the great principle, important though the military and commercial considerations are, of taking the line further out so as to protect the living belt of this great city. If it had been a question of some small details of deviation, and so on, by all means it should be sent to a Committee; but it is not. It is a question of a very great principle, and nobody in the world, and no power in the world, is so competent to decide that as the House itself.

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

The House divided: Ayes, 104; Noes 181.

Division No. 83.] AYES. [10.40 p.m.
Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour) Guinness, Hon. W. E. (Bury S. Edmunds) Paget, Almeric Hugh
Agg-Gardner, James Tynte Haddock, George Bahr Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)
Ainsworth, John Stirling Hall, Frederick (Dulwich) Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)
Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire) Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham) Pollock, Ernest Murray
Banner, Sir John S. Harmood- Harrison-Broadley, H. B. Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)
Bird, Alfred Hayden, John Patrick Rees, Sir J. D.
Blair, Reginald Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.) Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
Booth, Frederick Handel Herbert, General Sir Ivor (Mon., S.) Roche, Augustine (Louth)
Brady, Patrick Joseph Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.) Rolleston, Sir John
Bryce, J. Annan Hope, Harry (Bute) Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)
Burn, Colonel C. R. Horne, E. (Surrey, Guildford) Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)
Campbell, Captain Duncan F. (Ayr, N) Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk. Sanders, Robert Arthur
Cautley, H. S. Joyce, Michael Sanderson, Lancelot
Clay, Captain H. H. Spender Kerry, Earl of Sheehy, David
Clough, William Kilbride, Denis Shorn, Edward
Condon, Thomas Joseph Lardner, James C. R. Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S)
Crooks, Wiliam Lee, Arthur H. Spear, Sir John Ward
Crumley, Patrick Lundon, Thomas Stanier, Beville
Cullinan, John Lyell, Charles Henry Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)
Dewar, Sir J. A. Lynch, A. A. Stewart, Gershom
Duffy, Wiliam J. Maclean, Donald Talbot, Lord E.
Duke, Henry Edward MacVeagh, Jeremiah Verney, Sir Harry
Duncan, J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley) M'Laren, Hon. F. W. S. (Lincs., Spalding) Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)
Du Pre, W. Baring Markham, Sir Arthur Basil Watson, Hon. W.
Esmonds, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.) Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.) Weston, Colonel J. W.
Esslemont, George Birnie Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix) White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E. R.)
Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M. Molly, Michael White, Patrick (Meath, North)
Falconer, James Muldoon, John Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)
Fell, Arthur Murphy, Martin J. Winterton, Earl
French, Peter Needham, Christopher Thomas Wood, John (Stalybridge)
Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster) Yale, Colonel Charles Edward
Fitzgibbon, John O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Younger, Sir George
Flavin, Michael Joseph O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)
Gastrell, Major W. Houghton O'Donnell, Thomas TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Geider, Sir W. A. O'Malley, William Mr. Mallaby-Deeley and Sir S. Scott.
Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton) O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
Adamson, William Dickinson, Rt. Hon. Willoughby H. Hunt, Rowland
Addison, Dr. Christopher Dillon, John Ingleby, Holcombe
Agnew, Sir George William Donelan, Captain A. John, Edward Thomas
Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud) Doris, William Johnson, W.
Arnold, Sydney Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness) Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)
Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.) Duncannon, Viscount Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)
Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple) Elverston, Sir Harold Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)
Barnes, George N. Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.) Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)
Barnston, Harry Essex, Sir Richard Walter Kelly, Edward
Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton) Farrell, James Patrick King, Joseph
Beauchamp, Sir Edward Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)
Bentham, G. J. Field, Wiliam Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)
Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish. Furness, Sir Stephen Wilson Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)
Boland, John Plus Gill, A. H. Leach, Charles
Bowerman, Charles W. Gladstone, W. G. C. Levy, Sir Maurice
Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North) Glanville, H. J. Lewisham, Viscount
Bridgeman, William Clive Glazebrook, Captain Philip K. Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)
Brocklehurst, W. B. Goldstone, Frank Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.
Brunner, John F. L. Guest, Hon. Major C. H. C. (Pembroke) Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)
Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S. E.) Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)
Byles, Sir William Pollard Gulland, John William Mackinder, H. J.
Campion, W. R. Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway) Macpherson, James Ian
Carr-Gomm, H. W. Hackett, John M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)
Cave, George Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight) Manfield, Harry
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.) Marks, Sir George Croydon
Chancellor, Henry George Hancock, John George Money, L. G. Chiozza
Chapple, Dr. William Allen Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose) Mooney, John J.
Clynes, John R. Hardie, J. Keir Morgan, George Hay
Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth) Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Luton) Morrell, Philip
Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West) Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert
Cotton, William Francis Harvey, W., E. (Derbyshire, N. E.) Newman, John R. P.
Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth) Henderson, Arthur (Durham) Newton, Harry Kottingham
Craik, Sir Henry Higham, John Sharp Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)
Dalrymple, Viscount Hinds, John Nield, Herbert
Davies, David (Montgomery Co.) Hodge, John Nolan, Joseph
Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth) Hogge, James Myles O'Doherty, Philip
Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.) Holmes, Daniel Turner O'Dowd, John
Dawes, James Arthur Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian) O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)
Delany, William Hudson, Walter O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)
Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas Hughes, Spencer Leigh O'Shee, James John
Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend) Robinson, Sidney Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Parker, James (Halifax) Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke) Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)
Parry, Thomas H. Roe, Sir Thomas Wardle, George J.
Perkins, Walter F. Rothschild, Lionel de Wheler, Granville C. H.
Pointer, Joseph Rowlands, James White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)
Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H. Rowntree, Arnold Whitehouse, John Howard
Pratt, J. W. Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W. Whyte, Alexander F.
Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central) Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth) Wiles, Thomas
Radford, G. H. Samuel, Sir Stuart M. (Whitechapel) Wilkie, Alexander
Raffan, Peter Wilson Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton) Williams, Aneurin (Durham, N. W.)
Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields) Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe) Williams, John (Glamorgan)
Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough) Snowden, Philip Wills, Sir Gilbert
Reddy, Michael Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)
Redmond, John E. (Waterford) Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe) Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.) Taylor, Thomas (Bolton) Wing, Thomas Edward
Rendall, Athelstan Thomas, J. H. Yeo, Alfred William
Richardson, Albion (Peckham) Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North) Young, William (Perthshire, East)
Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven) Thorne, William (West Ham) Yoxall, Sir James Henry
Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln) Tobin, Alfred Aspinall
Roberts, George H. (Norwich) Touche, George Alexander TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs) Toulmin, Sir George Mr. Alden and Mr. Newman.

Words added.

Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.

Second Reading put off for six months.

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