§ Order read for Second Reading.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ Sir WALTER ESSEX
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."
In taking this course I feel compelled to express regret to this House—a regret in which I think my opponents will join me, that no provision is made in the Constitution of this country for avoiding discussion upon the floor of the House of Commons or in its Committee Rooms of a matter of this importance. We here to-night and during the progress of this Bill, be it long, or, as I hope, be it short, have to carry on our proceedings with the regrettable knowledge that we have no coordinating authority to deal with matters affecting the well-being of the; City of London, which can take into consideration all the various aspects of a proposal affecting its convenience or its amenities, and to resist the invasion of its rights and privileges, as I feel sure a large number of hon. Members in this House will agree with me in believing the proposals of this railway company set before us to-night suggest they should take powers to do. Almost alone of all the great capitals of the world, London stands without this protection. If proposals of this kind had come before the New York State Legislature, provision is made for the protection of New York. If they had come before Washington, that being in the district of Columbia, having full governing powers to protect the rights of the inhabitants of that city, which bids fair to be what its people wish it to be, the handsomest city on earth; they would be able to bring to bear upon the question submitted to their consideration a full, united, and adequate voice, and to control the decision of any matter submitted to them. I believe that our Australian kinsmen are taking similar powers in the question of their new Common wealth Capital of Canberra. That I am not overstating my opinion is clear from words which fell from the lips of the eloquent counsel for the railway company before the Lords Committee in May of last year. He said: 1003Do the London County Council oppose on the Preamble? They do not. Indeed, why should they The London County Council has no interest in the river whatever.There you have baldly, frankly, and, but for the well-known courtesy of the learned counsel, I had almost said brutally, the outstanding fact of the disability of London, stated in most emphatic language. The London County Council has no voice in any matter affecting the convenience and amenity of its river. Notwithstanding the hundreds of thousands of pounds, aye, the millions of pounds which from first to last the London County Council and its predecesssors have spent in cleansing and sweetening the tide-ways of the river, in diverting sewage, and in other ways making it a more wholesome adjunct to London, these things do not count. They do not qualify them to be an authority as against the inroads threatened to them by a railway company. One might point to the Embankment, which cost from one million to one million five hundred thousand pounds, making it, but for the disfigurement of this bridge, one of the handsomest promenades in Europe. One million pounds or more was spent in the vicinity of this House upon the gardens leading down from Millbank to Old Palace Yard. One might also point to Shaftesbury Avenue, to Charing Cross Road, and to the other improvements contiguous to this monstrosity. Yet it is impossible for one to get up and desire that opportunity for authority to the London County Council, as long as the infliction of this injustice on the river is confined to the river air. The unsatisfactory feature of the position was emphasised by the fact that had it not been for the courage of a comparatively small gas company in Wandsworth, attacking the railway company's proposals because of the undoubted infringement that they made of the navigable waterways of the Thames, this proposal need never have come before the House of Commons, and whatever enormity the railway company might have sought to add to the enormity which their bridge already presents, could have been carried out, and there is no power on earth which would have stood in their way once they obtained the sanction of the Port of London Authority, which deals only with matters of navigation.
However much the County Council may spend on the magnificent county palace on the other side of the river, through its windows they may look upon this misbe- 1004 gotten abortion of a bridge, and can do nothing to stop its aggravations, so long as its operation is confined to the air above the river. The House of Lords, knowing how easily public rights may be invaded by the multiplied Rules and Ordinances of the Committee Rooms of the House, were careful to do what one Noble Lord said they had never done for ten years before, namely, to move an Instruction to the Committee which their House was setting up from among its Members- that they should take into consideration certain factors in the problem, first of all, that they should have regard to the vehicular and pedestrian traffic needs of this congested district, and should also consider that adequate evidence should be taken upon what some would call the aesthetic amenities and how far they might be affected by these proposals. The small-ness of the power of a Committee of inquiry in this House is manifested by the-way their Lordships dealt with this very wise and prudent proposal made by Earl' Beauchamp and the Earl of Plymouth. They called one witness only to deal with the enormous traffic in London in this neighbourhood—Sir William Lever, lately a Member of this House. He was called to-deal with a problem which took a Royal Commission many years to go into from first to last, and which furnishes some of the most interesting shelves in our Library with its Reports. One man was thought to be adequate to deal with this side of the question. As for the artistic or aesthetic amenities, only one man—Sir Aston Webb—was allowed to speak upon them, while further testimony was given by my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea (Mr. Burns) and Sir Lionel Earle, of the Office of Works, these being the only additional contributories to the evidence. At any rate, these two gentlemen were alone present in response to the earnest appeal of their Lordships' House. They were heard but heard briefly-Technical evidence was not brought before them, and no other body was consulted.
We have to-day the same scant courtesy paid to London by this railway company as was paid then. They come making the same proposal. I know that in the weariness of hon. Members it does seem the most natural thing in the world to send it to a Committee. I am making these remarks because I invoke the power of this House to defend London against these things. I invoke the power of the Mem- 1005 bers of this House, who represent the whole of the country, which is as deeply interested in the amenities and conveniences of London almost as those who dwell within it—I invoke the help of the House against the measure, because I feel that we are better able than any Committee of ourselves upstairs, controlled and fettered by legal precedents and rules, to deal with a question which I dare say here is, after all is regarded as an inferior question. I understand that the appeal of the railway company is to be supported by my hon. and courteous Friend the Member for Brentford (Mr. Joynson-Hicks). Is there unconscious irony in the proposal? Why Brentford? One finds it hard to know, saving in the attractive personality of my friend, why the choice was made. A question affecting the traffic of London, the convenience of its thoroughfares, the beauty of its structures— Brentford to the rescue! Brentford comes and says, "You want to deal with the traffic problem of London. See how we do it in the High Street of Brentford." What matters it though we were pilloried for ever by the photographs inserted in the pages in the London Traffic Commission Report as an example of how not to do it? You talk about the amenities of the river in its widest reaches above London Bridge. See how we manage it, and walk beside our muddy and dirty barges at Brentford," No, we cannot leave the question in that form. It has not been sufficiently grasped.
Passing on to another point, we speak in this discussion of one bridge—Charing Cross Bridge. I wish, seeing what the proposals are, that it had been but one. The House does well to be reminded here that there are two bridges there, though colloquially spoken of as one, and it is only one of these bridges with which the railway company proposes to tinker. Their proposal is to take one of them and to build certain masonry, or brickwork, or concrete—it is not clearly set up—bolsters in between the piers, which will go down to the bed of the river, and rise up to a convenient height. If the proposal, bad as it is, had affected all the piers in a line one would have understood, for the two bridges standing closely together are indistinguishable the younger from the older in their general ugliness. But here you are to have these bolsters only between the legs of one of the bridges, and the cantilevers also between the upper arches of one of the bridges, and 1006 as you come along the Embankment on the one side you will see the square head of the bridge broken by an indefinite tracery, and as you come on the other side the same bridge will have mock arches, for they are not arches—cantilevers—joined together for a humbugging symmetry. The whole thing is a flimsy contraption, wholly unregardful of the beauty that is demanded.
Another comment I should like to make as elucidating the difficulties. This bridge, or these bridges, have another quality. They are not only a bridge, they are a railway station in part, and they afford to the station a lay-by for locomotives. All those who know the district well have seen these locomotives as they have passed along the Embankment, smoking away and filling the air with their foulness. The proposals are to increase that nuisance, to add to that abomination. The company's complaint in tendering this request to the House is that the bridge wanted strengthening. I recognise that I have got to do something to answer that claim. First of all, I take leave to say that any man who will read the Report of the proceedings in the House of Lords, I think last May, and will read the literature, which has been pretty liberally distributed to the ends of the earth, in the intervening period—the speeches of the chairman of the company, of the managing director and traffic superintendent, and so on—will be irresistibly drawn to this conclusion, which I hold to be a cardinal fact in the matter, that these are less proposals for a necessary strengthening of the bridge than proposals for a considerable enlargement of traffic amenities. Let me speak on the genesis of this affair. The ambition of the company, which has frequently in past years brought disaster to their shareholders, ran to a very great height. I assume when they became one company—we may practically consider them as one company for the purposes of this Bill—and agreed to pool their interests somewhere in the late eighties, they decided that they would celebrate that event by widening Charing Cross Bridge and enlarging Charing Cross Station. So they came to this House in those far away days—a House much less regardful of the interests of London than I hope this House will prove to be—and they got in 1900 an Act passed enabling them to do this thing. For sixteen years—this will make the seventeenth—that Act has been in existence, but nothing what- 1007 ever has been done under it, so far as this bridge and the station are concerned, and again and again the chairman of the companies has given us the reasons why no action has been taken under these very extensive and valuable powers, and they are these: First, that the cost was well-nigh prohibitive, being about £750,000; and, secondly, that the traffic had declined to such an extent as to make so large an outlay and so great an enlargement unnecessary.
We go on to know that in 1905 the roof of the station fell in, and then, they tell us with a sweet ingenuousness, "we began to look at the bridge." They looked at the bridge. They say they were not satisfied with it. No complaint is made about the new portion of the contraption, and if you throw out this Bill to-night, that can remain and can be used for what convenience it may afford. They determined that they would apply for powers. They did not apply at once, and will it be believed that these powers, when sought and obtained, will probably receive the same treatment as the powers which were given in 1900! It was in 1905 or 1906—I do not know how long their deliberations took —that they found out this trouble, and it was the year 1913 before they came to this House and said, "Our bridge is falling down; for heaven's sake give us a Bill to patch it up" In a time of war, when we are deferring the execution of far more important works than this, does it lie fairly and legitimately in the mouth of a railway company to claim urgency for the immediate carrying out of a tinkering matter like this, when for ten years they have slumbered peacefully in the knowledge, as they affirm and as we deny, that this bridge was perilous to its users? Yes, traffic has declined, but traffic upon this bridge, it is only fair for me to say, as will doubtless be urged with due emphasis presently, was at the request of its directors, limited and restricted. They are restricting their traffic now. It would be no great hardship to them by any manner of means if I show that they can go on with that restriction until this maelstrom of war has settled down, and in calmer waters we can decide as a people what we are going to do with this matter which so affects our comfort and our pleasure. They have been, they say, diverting some of the traffic. At any rate, this declining traffic is going on, and could go on for a considerable time more without 1008 any great hardship. I have heard friends of mine say in regard to this matter, "I cannot be responsible for accepting the risk of an unsafe bridge." They are evidently in doubt as to the safety of the bridge, and if I accepted that doubt I should be a criminal to stand here and advocate the suspension of any proposals intended to remove that doubt and establish the safety of the bridge. But I confute that altogether. In Question 443 before the House of Lords Committee the engineer of the railway company, speaking of this bridge, says:Charing Cross bridge has deteriorated less than any I know. I am surprised to discover how small the amount of its depreciation is.He went on to put it into figures, and he said that in fifty years its total depreciation, as far as He could assess it, amounted to 5 per cent. I suggest to the House that that does not seem a very rapid rate of decay. Mr. Clode, the counsel for the railway company, in the Committee Room, made an interesting admission on this point. Mr. Vesey Knox had been questioning a witness about the bridge and its condition, and he said, "You hear it declared that the bridge is not dangerous" What did Mr. Clode say? He had the whole thing in his hand. He was practically invested with powers equal to making terms or executing a deal with anybody who was opposing him. Everybody knows what are the powers of counsel in a Committee room in charge of a Bill. He said, "Not dangerous, with the restrictions." It comes to this, on his admission, that there is no peril to users of this bridge so long as the railway company use it within their present restrictions. Is that a hardship? Supposing the restriction was 75 per cent. —
§ Sir W. ESSEX
Take it at 50 per cent, Whatever it is, let me again remind the House that of all railway companies in the kingdom, this railway company alone has four bridges across the Thames within the London district—four large and unforgivably ugly bridges. With regard to the limitation of the traffic on this one bridge by 50 per cent., I will return to that when I deal with the figures affecting the decline of the traffic of this company. I will take Question 544 before the Lords Committee. Mr. Morgan, the engineer of the Brighton Railway Company, was giving evidence. I wish he had given the benefit of his own enlightened company's practice in 1009 many details to the South-Eastern Company as well as his advice and help to his sore-beset comrade in this matter. Mr. Morgan is an engineer of long practice, and he said of this bridge:I do not go so far as to say it is dangerous—and here leaks out the real reason for the Bill—but yon cannot have full use of it.I say again, that whatever reason may exist for the repair of the bridge, the proposals laid before the House in this Bill are much less proposals for repairs than proposals for larger traffic facilities. For that reason I ask the House to reject this Bill, to put it aside and have the whole thing brought up again, if it is so desired, and if the need exists for it, when the War is over. Admitting, for the sake of argument, that these repairs are needed, is this the best way of executing them? I say, after reading the evidence, that so far as the curtailment or lessening of the tide-way and navigable parts of the Thames are concerned, there can be no doubt that there is a restriction. How much that restriction is the figures will show, but there is a restriction in that respect. Whatever that restriction may be, whether it be restriction of channel and fairway, the restriction of head room by the cantilever, or of the scour of the river by the acceleration of current which will always occur where there is a straitening of the water-way, this is not the only way, nor is it the best way of making the alteration. Expert witnesses were called in to discuss this matter. There was one very able engineer who came in and gave his acquiescence to the proposals of the company's engineer. Be it understood that the company's proposals were all of them constantly affected by the desire of the company to do nothing to interfere with its traffic. Their instructions to their engineer were that whatever proposals he made before his board, they should not interfere with the traffic.
That is a very natural thing for the railway company to say, but London has to look at it also from the point of view of their river traffic. There were experts on the other side who have no equal in skill, general credibility, in practice and public esteem. Certainly if they have equals they have no superiors. There was Mr. Hall Blyth, whom north-countrymen will know on the Clyde and other northern waters has had unique oppor- 1010 tunities of displaying his great skill. He was President of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers. Then again we in London, and people in the colonies and all over the world know of the great ability and power of Sir Maurice Fitz-Maurice, a Vice-President of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers. These two eminent engineers, in comparing their notes after independent investigation of the problem, came to the conclusion that the better way to effect this change was not the way proposed by the railway company. They admitted that the way proposed by the company was the way that would save them some limitation of traffic, but it was a method which they would suggest was not nearly so good as one which they could make as to this portion of the bridge. If the company would agree to suspend traffic for twelve months, they would put them in possession of a far stronger bridge, which would not affect its sightliness, which would not affect the tideway of the river, and they would do the whole thing at half the cost of the railway company's own proposal. There would be no mock arch, no one-sided cantilevers, and no blocking bolsters in the fairway. On the whole the company prevailed, and in spite of all that could be done by those who were present. this thing went through, and it was left to this House to take the proper view of the whole situation and in the interest of all concerned to reject the measure.
There has been a great deal of stress laid upon this Bill, and a great deal of whipping-up support from Kent. I am very glad to see that the fair county has sent so many of its representatives to-night. I believe one industrious mayor has been for some months past a generous bagman in the company's interests with the various municipalities and local authorities of the fair county. Kent's interests are the interests of a million of people, but on the south side of the Thames there are two and a half millions of people who, if they want to go to Charing Cross station, have to go over the river to it and to face all these terrors and the possibilities of rain and wind and storm that have been urged again and again with such tear-compelling pathos. But even Kent is not solid, and the outlying portions of Surrey served by this railway—I am speaking under correction—have not got a single petition in favour of this Bill. Guildford and Reading have got other 1011 railways to contrast with the South-Eastern. They know something better, and they are not going to ask you to give these powers. But keeping myself to Kent, Folkestone, for instance, the prime Mover in support of this Bill among municipalities and local authorities, has a population of 33,000. Beekenham, which refused to have anything to do with it, has a population of 33,000, and Beckenham uses the railway as a daily business. Folkestone's people do not. Bromley, which is a still larger municipality than either of them, considers it an insult to the Empire to do anything whatever to perpetuate any longer than is absolutely necessary this eyesore, this black-eye for old London.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
May I point out to my hon. Friend that the Bromley Council passed a resolution in favour of it?
§ Sir W. ESSEX
My hon. Friend is quite right. The verdant part of the population passed a resolution, but the urban part of the population would have nothing to do with it, and I take it that my hon. Friend, like myself, being a borough Member, will be content to accept this manifestation of the borough mind.
§ Sir W. ESSEX
I am very glad to hear that. The hon. Member combines both. Maidstone has a population of 35,000, and thrust the whole thing aside, and would have nothing to do with this Bill.
§ Commander BELLAIRS
As I have not spoken yet, may I point out that Maidstone would be quite content if a limiting Clause were put into the Bill which would prevent it standing in the way of a larger scheme later on?
§ Sir W. ESSEX
My hon. Friend may have later information than I, but I was speaking to the Mayor of Maidstone, who was with me the other day at a public meeting, and he told me—whatever he may have since said, and when I saw his letter I did not read into it what the hon. Member has said—that his council was in the most unqualified way against this 1012 being done in London. May I remind the-House that this railway company, in whose light we are charged with standing, has on the North side of London, Cannon Street, Holborn Viaduct, St. Paul's, Ludgate Hill, and Victoria Stations, serving the county Kent, and London Bridge on the South side, as well as Charing Cross, which is in dispute? There are six good termini exclusive of Charing Cross. If I thought that Kent was solid in this matter I should deeply regret it, but I should think that the daughter of the horse leech lived there. As to the declining traffic of the South-Eastern Railway before the War, in the Traffic Commission Reports, we had it pointed out that of the total number of passengers brought into-London by this company one-fifth would come to Charing Cross. There has been a great deal of talk on behalf of this company about 12,000,000 or 13,000,000 passengers at Charing Cross in a year as being a tremendous number. What does that amount to? Not more than 35,000 a day. It is not the business of a tramway junction in a London street. Yet I am not at all to be taken as saying that it is not to-be considered or to have its proper weight given to it by Members of this House.
The proposal is to divert traffic. It can-be nothing else than to get a larger user of Charing Cross. People now find it quite convenient to go to London Bridge or Cannon Street, but they must turn their faces to Charing Cross. Can we not see the wiliness of this proposal? If at any time, as probably will be the case, London decides to buy out this company's rights over the river, it will, unless it can make better terms, have to pay compensation for the carrying trade of all these people who will have been diverted from stations which they now find convenient enough to use, and will have to pay compensation to the railway company for what we are now asked to give them for nothing. The great decline in the traffic of this railway cannot be measured better than by these figures. The two little tubes the Hampstead Tube and the Bakerloo Tube, between them carry more passengers in a year, by millions, than the whole South-Eastern system carries within the same period. In 1902 the South-Eastern and Chatham Railway carried 74,825,622 passengers, or, say. 75,000,000. In 1912, in the pre-war period, that number had sunk to 55,000,000. There was a slight increase-in 1913, but the Board of Trade warned us 1013 against the 1913 figures, as they were not verified. Taking them anyway, we have a decline of over 20,000,000 in the passenger carrying of these railways.
These figures are only quoted to show how the shrinkage of the traffic has steadily proceeded. I admit that the traffic receipts have not shrunk in the same proportion. That means that the loudly-vaunted claim of the railway company, that they are serving the working man and that the working man's transit is involved, is all fudge. They are serving the working man doubtless, but the diminution of their traffic has been really along the line of the working class traffic, and if they have maintained their traffic receipts as much as they have done, it is clear to the most ordinary observer that that has been done by the increase of the user of their line for long-distance traffic.
We hear the further claim from Sir Francis Dent and Mr. Cosmo Bonsor that after the War they are going to have an enormous inflation of traffic. Where are they going to get it? This railway has been one of the great European gates of this country for a great many years. The bulk of the people coming from Germany and Austria to this country come by the South-Eastern Railway. Will they in future come to this country as freely, or shall we go to their country as freely? Undoubtedly, in Germany, as in Austria, there will not be the same travelling money margin, and no doubt there will be an enormous decrease in the international traffic of this line. Those who come from the north of Europe, the Russians and others, come by the Great Eastern and the Great Northern. If you take France, you will find that they come by the Brighton and South Coast line and the South-Western line; and that the traffic of this railway would very largely increase after the War is very illusory. At any rate, we must wait until after the War, though I do not think that the result will be very great, and this railway company's claim on the expectation after the War of a great increase of traffic is a dream.
Let mo contrast what they have done compared with other railways. I doubt if any railway company in London has got such a splendid territory to exploit as the South-Eastern and Chatham. They have got a splendid county, thickly populated on its margin from London Bridge right down to Hampshire—an area populated by crowds of people, who are a large help to their traffic, and they have their foreign 1014 trade. The London and South-Western Railway Company has not nearly so favourable an opportunity to develop their traffic as the South-Eastern and Chatham The South-Western is concentrated upon one station in London, and the company have made that station in every way effective and efficient to get people quickly to the City, and they have put down tubes in order that their passengers may not have to change to omnibuses or rush about London streets. That railway by itself brings to London thirty-five-million passengers a year, and causes no crowds in the thoroughfares of London. In 1902 it brought to London twelve mil-lion fewer passengers than the South-Eastern and Chatham, In 1912 it brought eleven millions more than the South-Eastern and Chatham. Does not that show what an enlightened railway policy can do-for a railway, especially when you compare the advantages of the South-Eastern-and Chatham railways with the disadvantages of the South-Western. "Oh," says; the South-Eastern, "they have not got our local traffic" "No; but they have built up their own in the interim, and you have lost yours. They have electrified, and they have afforded more conveniences to trade, instead of dissipating their energy and their strength," Let me take the London, Brighton, and South-Coast Railway, whose territory is no better than that of the Kent railways, and they have fewer Continental advantages. In 1902-they brought into London seventeen million of passengers fewer than the South-Eastern and Chatham. In 1912, when they had only just got their earlier electrification, they brought two million more passengers, or a gain of nineteen millions in ten years. While the other company was going back, the Brighton company was going up by leaps and bounds, and now it is in a better condition in respect of passengers' carriage than any railway of the three.
These facts are significant, the handwriting is on the wall, mene mene; and I invite the House to throw out the Bill, largely because there is no-immediate need for it, and in order that this railway company may receive instructions from this Assembly to put its neglected house in order. It has been a blight for fifty years on the area of Kent; it is ill-graded, it is ill-planned, it is ill-equipped, it is ill-managed, and to the railway world it is a jest. It is a 1015 pity it should be so. Nearly all its little towns have two stations, and I wonder that the Minister of Munitions has not taken note of that fact, and commandeered a large amount of the surplus in the permanent ways which this company has extravagantly maintained. Are we to allow such a railway as this to spoil our splendid London? Let us look at what London would gain if some strange genius should come and lift that incubus of ugliness from London, with its ugly approaches, its miserable structures—those sheds and timber stations at Charing Cross and Cannon Street—and give us one big Imperial station in the gateway of the Empire. What a boon that would be to London. I do not know whether the House holds my opinion or not. but I am anxious that we should not give this Bill a Second Reading, for the reasons which I have advanced at very considerable length. I hope in anything I have said I have not uttered anything which would be regarded as personal. I am confident that all I have said is intended to make for the greater convenience of the people who use London as a traffic centre, and for those who dwell in it and desire its beauty and greater pleasure. I hope in what I have said there has not been anything bitter. I have stated what I conceive to be the needs of the people of Kent and of the company's shareholders. We are, I believe, this year to celebrate the centenary of the opening of Waterloo Bridge, and the House, grateful to the descendants and children of those who lived a hundred years ago, have now the opportunity of marking their gratitude to those who are fighting the battle of a Great Deliverance, by opening the way to that which will arise from a greater and a wider scheme for the beautifying of London. For the reasons I have given and for the interests of which I have spoken I confidently ask the House to refuse this Bill a Second Beading.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
The South-Eastern and Chatham Company has certainly been in the dock for the best part of three-quarters of an hour. I myself was really rather moved by the eloquence of my hon. Friend who moved the rejection, and I wondered whether the South-Eastern and Chatham Railway was really worth saying anything about in this House. I want to get down to facts. I 1016 do not think I need discuss the fact that the hon. Member for Brentford (Mr. Joynson-Hicks) has been asked to support this Bill. I am in no sense connected with the company. I believe that as a trustee I am the owner of a very small amount of preference stock. I am not a railway director of any company of any kind. When my Noble Friend (Lord Stuart of Wortley) who supported the Bill last year went to the other House, I was asked if I would support it, mainly because I was not connected with the railway industry. The hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment gave us his opinion of Brentford, but I am afraid that if he gave that opinion to the people of Brentford he would not be returned to this House by them. It seemed to me that while be abused the company because it was bad he desired to prevent the possibility of the company improving itself. I cannot quite understand on which leg he chooses to stand. Is the company so bad that it ought not to be allowed to go on at all, and that there is no chance of traffic increasing or of having to pay greater compensation when the bridge and station are taken over under a new scheme which he outlined, and with which the right hon. Member for Battersea (Mr. Burns) is more immediately connected? Or is it that if the directors are allowed to carry out their policy of improving their property, that there will be a large increase of traffic, and that if and when the bridge comes to be taken over the people will have to pay for the value of that increased traffic? The hon. Gentleman cannot have it both ways.
I ask this House on behalf of the company to say that the bridge requires supporting, and that it is in the interest of the traffic of London and of Kent and of Surrey and of that large Empire traffic which comes from India and Australia and the traffic which comes from the Continent, that this House should grant the Second Reading of this Bill in order that all those numerous questions which the hon. Gentleman has put before the House as to the strength of the bridge, height of the arches, width of the arches, the flow of the tide, and so on, may be inquired into by a Committee upstairs who will hear evidence. It was rather idle of my hon. Friend to claim that there was no real body to deal with these questions. My experience has been, and I think the experience of the whole trading community of Great Britain has been, that there is no better tribunal to which to 1017 appeal for fairness and for a patient hearing than a Committee either of the House of Lords or of the House of Commons. This Bill on the last occasion was before a Committee of the House of Lords, which, after hearing all that was to be said on both sides, unanimously passed it, and the Bill was carried through its Third Reading in that House. It came down here, and, owing largely, I agree, to the somewhat similar eloquence of my hon. Friend, and of the great eloquence of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Battersea, the Bill was thrown out in this House by what I admit was a very large majority.
I want the House to consider whether of not it is desirable that this improvement in Charing Cross Bridge should take place. Charing Cross railway was brought to Charing Cross in pursuance of public demands in 1859. I know that my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea imparts a literary flavour to his speeches, and if he will look at a publication by Samuel Smiles, he will see the whole history of this bridge, and of how the railway came to be brought over because the then South-Eastern Company gave a quasi pledge in the interest of the public that they would do so. It cost over £6,000,000 to bring this terminus to London. It was needed then, and I venture to suggest it is needed at the present time. I am not going to deal with the powers asked for in 1900 for the widening of the bridge at a cost of £750,000, and I agree that that would be very grave extravagance at the present time. What the company now desire to spend is the very much smaller sum of £167,000. That is required to be spent in order to strengthen the bridge, or I would adopt even the suggestion of my hon. Friend, and say in order that the bridge may be more fully utilised. I am not going to say here that the bridge will fall down if the money is not spent. Are those who are opposed to the Bill going to say to the House of Commons that it is a desirable thing that a railway bridge or anything else should not be used up to the full measure of its capacity? If this bridge can be more greatly used in the interests of the public, then I think this House is exercising a very grave responsibility if they refuse power to the company to spend this comparatively small sum in improving the carrying capacity of the bridge.
It is quite true to say that the bridge cannot be used as it once was, a fact for 1018 which the company is not altogether responsible. Locomotive traffic has increased very much in size in recent years. The locomotive of years ago which weighed 50 tons to-day weighs 97 tons, and in ten years' time I venture to prophesy that the locomotive will weigh 120 tons. The weight of the trains has increased in proportion. This company, which has earned the opprobrium of my hon. Friend as a company not up to date, has, up to the present, rebuilt or strengthened 398 bridges on its line. Every single bridge on the South-Eastern Company and nearly every bridge on the Chatham Company have been rebuilt or strengthened during the last ten years, in order to enable those bridges to carry those heavy locomotives. Yet you will not allow, or my hon. Friend asks you not to allow, the company to strengthen the last link which will complete those bridges dealt with in the county of Kent, and which will allow the locomotives which pass over those-bridges to come to Charing Cross. This is the main highway from the Continent.
My hon. Friend thinks that after the War traffic will not increase, so that his argument with regard to further cost in compensation falls to the ground. I think the traffic will increase. I think there will be a large increase of traffic between our Allies, between France, and between Italy, and I hope between ourselves and the Continent, in order that we may get to-know our Allies, and in order that they may get to know us better than we have known each other in the past. But apart from that, this proposal is very essential during the War. There are blocks to-day. There were blocks yesterday, there will be blocks, to-morrow on this bridge, which is being largely used during the War for military purposes. Every day troop trains come in-and go out of Charing Cross, and every afternoon trains of wounded come from the Continent bearing their cargo of those who are only too glad to get back to London. Will the House of Commons say, "You shall not increase the strength of the bridge and make it easier for the company to bring those trains into and out of Charing Cross?" To-day this is the main line between London and those great military centres, Woolwich, Dover and Chatham and others. I do not know whether my hon. Friend did not think much of the opinion of the people of Kent. Let me tell him what bodies of Kent passed resolutions and petitions in- 1019 favour of this Bill, and he agrees, I take it, with the principle of local representation. Those bodies include the Kent County Council, Ashford Urban Council, Bromley Rural Council, Canterbury Council, the Town Council of Chatham, the Town Council of Deal, the Town Council of Dorking, the Urban Council of Dover, the Town Council of the Borough of Deptford, which is not very far from Battersea, only some four or five miles. Then there are Folkestone, Gravesend, Hastings, Hythe, Lewisham (very close to London, showing that a large number of Londoners need to use this bridge), Margate, Ramsgate, Rochester, Sheerness, Sevenoaks, Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells, and practically all the small urban and rural district councils in the county of Kent. There may be one or two who have not joined in, but nearly the whole of them, headed by the County Council itself, have passed resolutions or presented petitions in favour of the Bill.
The real opposition to this Bill, and I am quite sure the House would not listen to any other opposition, is that which my hon. Friend mentioned at the close of his speech, the desire for a great new triumphal Empire bridge, sweeping away Charing Cross Bridge, driving the station over the other side of the river, and putting a fine new bridge across the river. All that is in the air and is not really a matter of practical politics at the present moment. On the last occasion when my right hon. Friend (Mr. Burns) desired to be rather autocratic as to the mode in which these matters should be considered, and desired to take a hilltop view of the matter, he wished there was a Minister of Fine Arts, as there is in Germany and in Austria—rather unfortunate precedents, it seemed to me, to quote to this House at the present time—in order that the Minister of Fine Arts might have prevented this Bill from coming before the representatives of the people at all. I have always looked upon my right hon. Friend as a democrat of the democrats, yet he wishes that there was a Minister of Fine Arts to say that the people who want this Bill shall not be allowed even to come before the House of Commons, and that the representatives of the people of this country shall not be allowed to decide upon it. My right hon. Friend was very certain that he was going to do something in regard to the new scheme in July of last year, and he made a suggestion to the 1020 House that if only it would kill the Bill, —as it did—the London County Council, the architects, the Office of Works, the Home Office, and the Board of Trade, with the City Corporation and the Westminster and Lambeth Councils, should call a conference to be attended by the railway companies. That was his idea, that all these people should come together to consider the extension, the removal, the transfer, or the abolition of Charing Cross station and bridge. He went a little further, and practically guaranteed that such a conference should be held. He said:I appeal to the House to give Sir Aston Webb, the architects, the County Council the two borough councils—it reads rather like an extract from the chapter of Daniel with all those various musical instruments, which were all to pipe to the right hon. Member's tune—the Office of Works, the Home Office, and the Board of Trade, in conjunction with the railway company, a chance to come together and to confer in a sane practical way. If the House will do that … I guarantee on behalf of the public authorities … that we shall find a more excellent way.I admit that if these various authorities had come together and said to the South-Eastern Company, "We have considered this matter, and agreed upon a scheme, and we ask you to support us in a Bill which we are going to introduce into the House of Commons in 1917, or 1918, or 1919," there would be something to be said for it, but nothing of the kind has been done. The right hon. Gentleman has not been able to produce this united body of public opinion, which would induce the South-Eastern Company, or even Parliament, to throw out this Bill. The real question is the question of future artistic merit versus present utility. I am not opposed to a new bridge. I am not here to say that Charing Cross Bridge is a beautiful object. Nobody has suggested such a thing, but it was passed and approved by this House, and therefore it ill lies with this House to say that it must be destroyed because it is not beautiful. Destroy it if it is not useful if you like, and if you can make something more useful to the people of this country; but at present there is nothing except this vague idea that at some future time somebody, coming along with a dream of Constable's pictures, or influenced by Wordsworth or Burns or some other poet who may be quoted in this House, may come forward with a real practical scheme for this new bridge. The only practical scheme I have heard of, or seen, would 1021 cost, I am told, £15,000,000 sterling, to remove Charing Cross Bridge, to build a new one, to buy an enormous area of land close to Waterloo Station, and to re-erect a new station on the south side of the river. Who is going to provide £15,000,000 sterling at the present time, when we are needing all our money and shall need all the money that the country can afford for many years?
I want now to deal with one other question, and to answer an objection that I think is felt, not merely by my hon. Friend who spoke first, but by other hon. Members of this House, with regard to the unfairness of this company getting this £167,000 as extra compensation after they have spent the money in strengthening the bridge, if at any time this great new scheme is brought before the House. I think I am quite open to say that a week ago a conference was held by my right hon. Friend the Chairman of Committees of this House, at which the railway company, the county council, and other interests were represented. This matter was discussed, and subsequently, without prejudice to either side, the counsel to Mr. Speaker prepared what he thought would be a fair Clause to be inserted in the Bill in regard to this question, and this is the Clause:If Charing Cross station and railway bridge are acquired within ten years from the passing of this Act for the improvement of London by any public body, there shall be deducted from the compensation found due to the company or the managing committee, the sum of £167,000.In other words, if my right hon. Friend's scheme comes forward, the suggestion of counsel to Mr. Speaker was that if it matures within ten years every single penny which is being spent on the improvement of the bridge shall be deducted from the money paid by way of compensation to the company. I do not speak for the London County Council, but I am authorised by the railway company to say to this House that they are prepared to accept that Clause as under the circumstances a fair one, and that when the Bill gets into Committee upstairs that Clause will be inserted. I think that ought to satisfy everybody who feels that the company would be increasing the possibility of compensation by strengthening this bridge. Some hon. Members tell me that this work should not be done during the War, and that the amount of steel required would be great, and that seems to 1022 be now the last ditch in which my right hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Burns) and his artistic advisers are taking refuge. I saw to-day a letter in the "Times" signed by my right hon. Friend (Mr. Burns), as I suppose the arbiter of all the elegancies of this House, by Sir Aston Webb, the Chairman of the Council of the London Society, and by Mr. Ernest Newton, the President of the Royal Institute of British Architects, I may mention, in passing, that the London Society has had this matter in hand since February, 1913, and according to their own petition to the House has been preparing these schemes, and considering what could be done during the whole of that time, yet up to the present nothing has been done. But this is what they say in the "Times" to-day:The Bill asks the House for powers to strengthen a portion of the bridge involving the use of a very large amount of steel and labour urgently required for war purposes, while incidentally it would obstruct the carrying out of a much needed public improvement.I have dealt with the public improvement. I will now deal for a moment with the suggestion of the employment of the large amount of steel and labour needed for war purposes. I have seen a somewhat lengthy interview with the engineer of the South-Eastern Railway Company, in which that gentleman, speaking on behalf of the Bill, said that the work was most urgently necessary for the strengthening of the bridge. "I put," says the interviewer, "this question to him: When are you going to do this work?' He replied, It will take at least a year after Parliament has granted permission to get out my full and complete plans with detailed workings, so that it will be impossible to begin work until at least a year, or a year and a quarter, after the passing of this Bill.'" I venture to suggest to this House that it will not involve a large amount of steel or a large amount of labour during the War. It will involve only a very small amount of steel in all. It will involve a considerable amount of labour when the War is over. I would suggest that it is not an undesirable thing that there should be works of this kind ready to employ people on when demobilisation takes place. We shall have a great demand from our troops when they are being demobilised for public works of this kind. It will be desirable in the interests of the soldiers and in the interests of the community that this work should be ready to put into operation as soon as the War is over. All I ask—and I do very strongly ask and urge 1023 it—is fair play. I ask this having regard to the fact that the Bill has the approval of the Port of London Authority—the authority responsible for the traffic on the river, which makes no further opposition to a Bill of this kind—and of the London County Council, which is the authority representing the mass of the people in London, which is only objecting to certain Clauses of the Bill and not to the object of the Bill itself. It only desires a modification of that Clause which I read out a while ago with regard to the £176,000. All these points in connection with the Clauses may be very much more properly dealt with upstairs in Committee. I have therefore to ask that the House will, for the case of this railway company, give the privilege it affords to all other companies who apply to the House for leave to improve public works, to have their claims considered fairly by a Committee of this House, and that the Bill shall not be thrown out either from prejudice- or—I say it advisedly—in consequence of such an unfair speech as that made by the hon. Member half an hour ago.
§ Mr. BURNS
The hon. Member who has just sat down has allowed the House, in his speech, to assume that a few individuals like Sir Aston Webb, Mr. Newton, Mr. Blomfield, and a number of other distinguished architects—who deserve the thanks and the gratitude of London for their action in this particular matter— these comparatively few people, besides myself and the Member for Stafford, are all who are interested in opposing this particular Bill. The hon. Gentleman prefaced his speech by saying that he would not deal with the aesthetic generalities of my hon. Friend—to whom the House is indebted to the excellent speech he has made this evening. He said he would deal with facts. A great poet, whose name I have the honour to bear, saidFacts are chiels that winna ding.The first fact that the hon. Member mentioned to the House was not a fact at all. He alleged that it was a fact. He said that I had assumed the position of arbiter in this particular matter last July, and in that capacity had promised to call a conference, and there had been no conference. Let us deal with facts. I promised the House that if the Bill were rejected I would do my best to bring together the architects, the various interests, the public bodies, and the authorities who had taken 1024 a very creditable interest in this particular measure. How did we keep our promise and provide the facts that were so conspicuously lacking in the statement of the hon. Gentleman? This is what we did to keep our word to the House. On 4th December a conference was held at no less a place than the Mansion House.
§ Mr. BURNS
Well, I hope that the hon. Baronet the Member for the City will be as wise and public-spirited in his vote tonight as the Mansion House was on that occasion. At the Mansion House conference the following resolution was unanimously passed by representatives of the various interests that, as I said, would consider the matter:That the question of the future of Charing Cross Bridge is one of national importance, and in the opinion of this conference any alteration to the existing bridge should be postponed until after the War, but that in the meantime and a soon as possible, the county authority responsible be requested to call a conference of the public authorities concerned, including the City of London, to consider the whole matter.That is fact No. I. Pact No. 2 was that, following on that conference of 4th December, a conference was called by the London County Council on 15th January, 1917, at the County Hall, Spring Gardens, where it was moved, seconded, and! carried unanimously:That as the improvement of Charing Cross, both as regards the traffic requirements and the amenities generally is a matter of national importance, this conference is of opinion that the question should not be prejudiced by giving the railway company power to-alter the existing bridge during the continuance of the War.What has the hon. Member to say now as to their being no conference and that I have not kept my word, and that, although I was arbiter of this particular subject—a misnomer so far as my position is concerned—nothing had been done? At the Mansion House and at Spring Gardens—
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
The hon. Gentleman perhaps will allow me to interrupt and to quote from the OFFICIAL REPORT. There I find the right hon. Gentleman appealing to the House to give> those concerned, in conjunction with the railway company and the County Council a chance to come together. He went on to say:I guarantee, on behalf of the public authorities with whom I have consulted on the subject that we shall find a more excellent, way. "[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd July, 1916, col. 1323, Vol. LXXXIII.]After all his conferences he has never approached the railway company or found a more excellent way.
§ Mr. BURNS
The hon. Gentleman really does not know the facts. If he will ask the chairman of the railway company whether I have seen him or he has seen me, both of us can give such an answer that Mr. Cosmo Bonsor and the Member for Battersea knows so well how to give when these two gentlemen agree upon a fact. So the hon, Member has not got a leg to stand upon! So much for the conferences that were not held! Now we come to the opponents of the present bridge. I would like to remind the House of the fact that at the conferences concerned the Office of Works could not be; officially represented, but the head of the Office of Works turned up with his permanent secretary, and I never heard more excellent speeches made against this particular Bill than were made by the representatives of the Office of Works on both occasions. The London Society was present, so was the Institute of Architects, and the Town Planning Association. All those bodies took the view in relation to this particular Bill taken by Lord Grimthorpe, who was chairman of the Lords Committee last year. They also all said, "I think we would have liked to have abolished this bridge if we could. So said the chairman of the Lords Committee last year. The hon. Member was a follower for many years of the present Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs when he was Prime Minister. The present Foreign Secretary, speaking at a Royal Academy banquet, once said:I never walk along the Thames Embankment without Heeling how monstrous it is that such things should be allowed, and that there should he no power of dealing with them.He said that in 1892. Since that time there has never been a friend of Charing Cross Bridge in the London Press. I have never heard a directly elected London Member in this House or out of it defend it, and whenever we have had distinguished Conservatives who have taken an interest in the County Council of London, such as Lord Alexander Thynne, when Chairman of the Improvements Committee, and many others I can mention, we find them, when not railway directors, sharing the views so admirably expressed by the hon. Member for Stafford in his excellent speech.
If we are told, as we have been told, that the London County Council has modified ts view, that is an argument for the council to deal with when it meets its constituents. I cannot understand why 1026 last year and in previous years the council should have taken the view that the hon. Member for Stafford and myself now express, and should now modify its view. I sincerely trust the House of Commons will not allow that fact to modify its view, because, after all, we cannot divest ourselves, as a House of Commons and a House of Parliament, from having views and opinions of a bridge that is within sight of the Terrace, and within almost the precincts of Parliament itself, and which everyone, who has any regard for the riparian beauty of the River Thames, and is anxious to add to the enormously costly improvements that have been carried out during the last twenty-five years in and around the House of Commons, admits is an eyesore; and that if possible it should be shifted from its present position, and the inadequate, unsatisfactory, dangerous, inconvenient, and small station at Charing Cross should be merged into a better and a more convenient station on the Surrey side.
I wish to deal, if I may, with the practical facts of this Bill, and may I say, as an engineer, apart from being a London Member, what are some of the objections to this bridge and station that have not been mentioned? Whether this railway company does or does not extend its traffic does not affect the essentials of the problem. Charing Cross bridge and station, being a terminal on the North side of the River Thames, occupies for the trade it has to do too small an area, is incapable of extension west or east, and if extended into the river it is going to add to the danger of the bridge as a structure, and not help it in any way whatsoever. Apart from being too small an area, inconvenient in many ways, it has an absence of sidings for the manipulations of its traffic, and it cannot make up its trains as they can be made up near Victoria, Waterloo, Euston and St. Pancras, models and exemplars as stations for the South-Eastern Railway. [An HON. MEMBER: "King's Cross!"] Also King's Cross. In this matter I can say, if the South-Eastern Railway had stations as good as King's Cross, Euston, St. Pancras, or Liverpool Street we would not find the criticism directed against it as here. Here they are all in a row.How happy could I be with either.With t'other dear charmer away.There is too small an area, there is an absence of sidings, and they have to go down to New Cross from Charing Cross 1027 to make up their trains. On the admission of Sir Francis Dent in evidence, the platforms are too short, as I said incapable of extension, and a bridge terminus in itself is the initial blunder under which Charing Cross labours, and which was put upon it from the moment the railway was brought across the river.
I want also to put this to practical men in the House. Even if this bridge were strengthened as suggested—and only half of the bridge is to be strengthened—engineers differ as to this being the best way. I think it the worst. What with the vibration, the extra weight, the space needed for traffic, if it grows, and the need for sidings, it seems to me that you have no right over a river, on half a dozen cast-iron stilts, or in large pipes filled with concrete, to have locomotives, even of 50, 70, or 80 tons, besides locomotives of 90 or 120 tons. No strengthening of this bridge will enable you to cope with that difficulty, which can only be coped with in the matter of weight, heavy locomotives and heavy traction by having your sidings and your station on the solid earth, and not across a river and on a bridge, as this railway has its terminus at the present moment. Let us deal with the safety of the bridge as a bridge, and I am going to quote the engineer. Here, may I say, the engineer of the South-Eastern Railway must have been in the mind of the author of the celebrated book and play, "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," when he wrote the work. Whenever he wants the Parliamentary interests of the South-Eastern Railway Company advanced, no bridge is so safe, and no bridge has suffered less from corrosion than the South-Eastern bridge; but when it suits his purpose to whisper in the ear that it is dangerous, in the hope that he will get a widening and strengthening of the bridge by any means whatsoever, then he takes the other line. With the permission of the House I am going to deal with our friend the engineer of the company first as Dr. Jekyll and then as Mr. Hyde. In 1899, seventeen years ago—and if the bridge was a cause of anxiety seventeen years ago, surely a competent engineer ought to have seen to its strengthening then—he was anxious about it. In 1906 he varied that attitude, and said emphatically that structurally the bridge was all right. Now which argument is he going to defend? In 1899 he is anxious about it. In 1906 he placed a restriction on working, 1028 not because of its structural danger, because in 1906 there was no structural danger, and the bridge was all right, and then he comes with the statement that the locomotives have increased. On this point the hon. Member for Brentford was talking without his scientific book when he said that locomotives had extended from 50 tons to 70, 80, 90, and probably up to 120 tons, because engineers do not share his view. The South-Western railway do not share his view, because they are getting rid of their locomotives, and what the South-Western can do the South-Eastern and Chatham ought to be taught to follow. A question was put to this gentleman, and he said that he had not met anybody who could suggest any scheme for strengthening the existing bridge. He said:I have tried several schemes, but this is the only one which has in my opinion developed satisfactorily.The hon. Member for Stafford quoted far more distinguished engineers, with wider and greater experience, who testified to the contrary. In answer to Question 222, the same witness was asked if it looked like a pressing matter, and his answer was:From 1906 to 1917, eleven years, nothing has happened.No; of course nothing has happened. The bridge is there. It is not anything like so dangerous as a number of people are saying; and as to this alleged danger of the bridge, it has taken seventeen years to find it out. This argument is now being used as a means of exploiting the War in order to get through that which probably if there was no war would not be considered for five minutes. Sir Francis Dent, in answer to Question 978, in which he was asked if it was advisable to do anything in this scheme until the end of the War, said:That is assuming that the Treasury adopt their present attitude that no work is to be done, and it is a reasonable one until the War is overHere is the fact on the engineer's own evidence that this bridge is not dangerous. On the evidence of Sir Francis Dent it is shown that minor repairs and strengthening the cross-girders is daily going on, and the chairman of the company has pledged himself on more than one occasion that if power is given to them to pass this Bill they will pledge themselves not to do it during the War even if they get the power. Let us deal with that point. Supposing they were to get the power that is asked for in this Bill. They could not carry the work out because 1029 they are pledged not to do it during the War. Secondly, if they had the power, although pledged not to do it and they altered their mind, they could not get the labour to do it, and, what is more, they could not get the steel to do it. I am not going to tell the facts about the shortage of steel because that is information which might be used elsewhere; but everybody knows that there is not a public building requiring 5 tons of steel, a public factory or works in any of our essential industries that can get a certificate to use any steel at all, and what right have we to give Mr. Cosmo Bonsor and the South-Eastern Railway Company, who pledged themselves not to do anything to the bridge during the War, the power to use from 2,000 to 3,000 tons of steel which are wanted for other and, for the moment, more vitally necessary purposes?
The fact is that the War is being exploited by this company, and the idea of the bridge being structurally unsafe is ridiculous, and is not true. They see that London has made up its mind to have Charing Cross Bridge removed. They see that the House of Commons is unsympathetic to them, and they see that London insists upon having a convenient, safe station, with proper sidings, merged with the South-Western station with a fine river facade on the Surrey side. They know full well that, since this Bill was killed last July in the House of Commons, great progress has been made with this particular scheme apart from the Mansion House conference and the county council conference, and the facts in the evidence which I have mentioned. We have been able to get together a number of semipublic and private interests who, if the County Council were to stick to its guns and persist in doing the work they set out to do—which I trust the House of Commons will make them do—we could have got an amalgamation of the Council of the City—[An HON. MEMBER: "No!"] The hon. Member will pardon me if I say that I know a little about the City. I had the honour of asking the City Corporation to come to the aid of the working people of this City in widening Blackfriars Bridge so that the trams could go over. What did they do? They could have asked the County Council to pay the whole expense of the widening for putting in the trams and making Blackfriars Bridge what it is now, the widest bridge in the world. The City Corporation, acting up to the best of its 1030 traditions, spent £250,000 out of their rates upon the widening of Blackfriars Bridge, allowing the tramways to come over, and they never charged the London County Council a single penny for that particular improvement. I am as convinced as I am standing here that if the City Corporation is properly approached—and I know how to do that—this difficulty can be got over. I had the honour of being the spokesman on that occasion, and of asking them to pay for the expense of the widening of Blackfriars Bridge, and I feel certain that the City Corporation will not object to the extension of their powers and functions of expenditure in regard to the Bridge House Estate, and at least, if they would not give a contribution, I feel sure they would offer no opposition to Charing Cross Station being moved on to the other side of the river, instead of spending some £2,000,000 which some people believe is going to be wasted on the new St. Paul's approach, which cannot be necessary when Southwark Bridge is widened, and when a new bridge is put across the river at Charing Cross for vehicular traffic.
But whether that is true of the City or not, it is a fact that Charing Cross Bridge is not dangerous, and the bridge is not structurally unsound. First of all, it is not going to be strengthened all across; only half of it is to be done. It is not going to be widened, because on their own evidence the company say that the traffic does not warrant them in carrying out the widening which they got the power to do some years ago. On the contrary, they abandon that power, and therefore the simple point is this: Can this bridge suffer by a year or two's delay until we get together all the parties, who only ask for time to produce an alternative scheme. On the fact, on the figures, on the evidence, on the needs of London, and on all the facts and arguments, everything is in favour of rejecting this Bill. We have got to look at London not as if it were a squalid village at the back of beyond, but we have to look at it as the Empire city on which every year £25,000,000 of money is spent in local government. Do not forget that the large expenditure in the last two and a half years, in my judgment, is beginning to teach the people of London that they may be able to afford more money for things of this kind in the future than in the past because it has enlarged their standard of expenditure. At the most what would it cost? To 1031 do it completely it would cost only one day's expenditure of this War, or London's contribution for one week to this War.
When we are told that London cannot afford a thing of this kind, let us look at Paris. Just before the War the Parliament of Paris gave the Municipality of Paris a £50,000,000 long term loan to make Paris even more attractive than it is now. What do you see at Paris in the matter of railway stations? Look at the beautiful railway station at the Quai d'Orsay! Look at the Gare d'Orleans alongside the river! They, like St. Pancras, are models and examples of what stations ought to be. Look at the bridges there, like that marvellous Alexandre III. Bridge, 120 feet wide, something like that which we ought to have at Charing Cross! When I am told that we cannot afford this, I reply that I am proud of London, of its sons, and of its generosity. London's contribution to this War in loans or in taxes has already in two and a half years amounted to £1,000,000,000. A million of its sons have enlisted in the hour of the nation's peril and during the tremendous ordeal through which we have passed. A city rich enough to contribute £1,000,000,000 in taxes and in loans, and a city whose sons have enlisted to the number of one million in two and a half years, may at the end of this war be imbued with a generous impulse and be able to do things. It may well be prepared to get rid of Charing Cross railway bridge, put up a fine station on the Surrey side, and make the new bridge across the Thames the medium of commemorating its appreciation of the gallantry of its sons. It seems to me, viewing the matter from the point of view of public pride, civic spirit, railway convenience, and public amenity, and desiring to make London—which too long has been the Cinderella of all the cities—what I want her to be, the first lady of the Kingdom-that we ought not to allow this Hill to pass, but that we ought to give the authorities concerned an opportunity of putting up a good bridge across the River Thames in place of the present ugly monstrosity, merging Charing Cross Station with Waterloo Station of the South-Western on the south side of the river—a bridge with proper approaches and appropriate to the engineering skill of our race, worthy of the city in which we have our deliberations.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. G. H. Roberts)
It is my duty to explain the attitude of the Board of Trade towards-this Bill. I find myself in hearty accord with much of the speeches which have been delivered, because, with my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea (Mr. Burns), I do not like to have my aesthetic sense offended by monstrosities wherever they be. But unfortunately those speeches bear very little relation? to the Bill. By giving a Second Heading to this Bill and sending it to a Committee you do not, in my opinion, hinder or hamper the great project which my right hon. Friend has asked us to visualise here to-night; and as far as I am personally concerned I wish him every success in his desire and intention to awaken the people of London to a recognition of the greatness and splendour of London, and as far as I can assist him my services will be gladly placed at his disposal. This Bill, as a matter of fact, is a reproduction-of one discussed in this House last year.
§ 10.0 P.M.
§ Mr. ROBERTS
And rejected, but rejected in a very small House, and I believe by hon. Members without due appreciation of what the Bill meant. They were guided more by the speeches than they were by the provisions of the Bill. I am expressing my own opinion. I remember the Debate last year very well. I was almost persuaded by the eloquence of my right hon. Friend to vote against the Bill, but I refrained from doing so because I took the precaution of obtaining a copy of the Bill, and I was impressed by the fact that the speeches were not very closely related to the Bill. The fact is that the bridge, on the admission of my right hon. Friend and of the hon. Member for Stafford (Sir W. Essex), is incapable of being used to its full extent. My hon. Friend the Member for Stafford said that the purpose of the railway company is to effect a full user of the bridge, and I say it is a form of waste to have a bridge in existence which cannot be fully used, with due regard to public safety. That, as I understand it, is the whole point of the Bill. At any rate my understanding has been improved to some extent by the advice that has been tendered to me on the matter. My hon. Friend stated, as did' also the right hon. Gentleman, that it is-only proposed to strengthen one side of 1033 the bridge, and they went on to make the admission that whatever this House did the bridge would remain. If the bridge is necessary and must remain, then I say during that period, at any rate, we ought to afford the railway facilities for making full use of it. We have been assured to-night that certain interests previously opposed to the Bill have now been settled. The London County Council are not opposing the Bill. After all, they, I suppose, are the real custodians of the amenities of London, and I am a little amazed that those who have such great regard for the artistic arrangements of the Metropolis have not succeeded in persuading the London County Council to further their project a great deal more. But there it is. The only objection lodged by the London County Council arose from a desire to safeguard the interests of the people of London in the event of the larger project being embarked upon, and we are able to give the House the assurance that in Committee Clauses will be inserted whereby the expenditure now proposed to be undertaken shall not be estimated whenever the larger project is under consideration, as a means of the railway company obtaining compensation. We must admit, however we view the matter, that the larger schemes, with which I have every sympathy, is not prejudiced by this Bill at all. My hon. Friend the Member for Stafford pointed out that the company's traffic had declined. Well it might decline. But may I point out incidentally that his figures were not quite satisfactory—
§ Sir W. ESSEX
What I said was that in pre-war time the traffic at Charing Cross was not greater than that of a tramway terminus—about 35,000 a day. I also pointed out how the traffic had declined in a given period by 20,000,000.
§ Mr. ROBERTS
The fact is that only 50 per cent. of the user of this bridge can be exercised unless this strengthening is carried out. I submit that the railway facilities in London are such that we ought to be able to make the fullest possible use of whatever facilities there are in existence. It is quite true that neither the engineer of the company nor anybody else alleges that the bridge is dangerous in its present restricted use. It is only dangerous if the fullest possible use is made of it. Therefore, the bridge is only quite safe because, as a matter of fact, it is never used to its fullest capacity. As to what -will happen after the War is over, we are 1034 all capable of making our own prophecies. We all think there will be a large development in Continental traffic, and, as one of my hon. Friends reminds me, in American traffic also, and certainly that traffic ought not to be prejudiced by the delays which now occur. I happen to live very close to this monstrosity, and therefore have a keen appreciation of all that has been said respecting it. I have had occasion frequently to use this railway. I know the delays that have occurred. I could never understand exactly the cause of them, until I was compelled to go into the matter, when I learnt that if a train is leaving the station no other train can run on either of the other lines laid down to the station. I say that such a state of affairs ought not to be allowed to continue. The most economical way of effecting all that is necessary in order to make this bridge safe for general traffic is pro-vided for by this Bill.
My hon. Friend has urged that this matter ought to stand over until the conclusion of the War. As a matter of fact, if this Bill passes, there is very little that can be done until after the War. Why should we always pursue a policy of unpreparedness? It has been stated that until the company know what Parliament is going to do, they cannot proceed with any planning or any arrangements whatsoever. They could get their contracts out, but it can be confidently asserted that no steel contract can be given until after the war has been ended. I think we may say that the company is simply taking very wise precaution in asking the House at this time to give them the powers sought for under this Bill. The Board of Trade may be acknowledged to Le an impartial body in this matter. Its only concern is to watch over public interests, and to see that those interests are not prejudiced by the existing state of affairs. We suggest that the Bill should be given a Second Reading, and then all the objections which have been preferred here tonight can be threshed out in Committee a great deal better than is possible on the floor of the House of Commons. Therefore I, as representing the Board of Trade, suggest that this Bill should be accorded a Second Reading.
§ Mr. DICKINSON
The hon. Gentleman who has just spoken has appealed to the House to allow this Bill to go to Committee upstairs because, he says, all these matters can be best threshed out in Com- 1035 mittee. But it is precisely because these particular points cannot be threshed out that we have been forced to raise them on the Second Reading in this House. The matter discussed last year, and which to a great extent induced the House to come to the conclusion it did, was that this proposal should not be allowed to go forward without consideration of the far greater question of the improvement of London generally. That point, I venture to say, could not come before the Committee at all. There would be no opponent to it before the Committee. The London County Council, I understand, have taken the course, rightly or wrongly, of deciding that they will only appear on the Clauses. The Association of Architects and Engineers will have no locus standi at all, and, therefore, there will be no opportunity of arguing before the Committee upstairs this general question which we ask the House to decide tonight, namely, the expediency of allowing this particular proposal to go forward notwithstanding the powerful arguments used last year for postponing it until we are in a position to deal with the whole subject as we shall be after the War.
Someone has said that the decision last year was taken under a misapprehension. No doubt it was a small House that considered the Bill, but the majority was a comparatively large one, and those present unquestionably fully understood and realised what was before the House. The matter was decided under rather peculiar circumstances, because the Bill had already passed through the House of Lords, and it was therefore a very serious action which this House took when it threw out a Bill which had been investigated by a Committee of the other House. I submit that, in view of the decision come to last year, the company ought to have accepted it as final, and should have recognised that it was their duty to see whether they could not devise some better plan which would fall in with the wishes of the great mass of Londoners, and which will be achieved sooner or later. With regard to the condition of the station and railway, there is no change in the situation this year as compared with last year. The position is exactly the same. The bridge is not dangerous. It has been explained over and over again there is no real danger in connection with it, so long as it is not used to its fullest capacity.
1036 Again, the bridge is not to be repaired at the present moment. We understand,. and, of course, it stands to reason, that no steps will be taken to renew, widen, or strengthen the bridge until after the War-Even after the War it ought to be, and will be, some time before the company proceeds to carry out its powers under this Bill. Why is there this particular pressure? I submit that it is simply because the company, being disappointed with the decision of the House last year, is anxious, in defiance of the Resolution passed by the House last year, to achieve its object and obtain the powers it desires. In order to achieve that object the company has been engaged, not in trying to devise any better method of dealing with this question, but in trying to stir up public opinion outside and inside this House. They have produced—I have had it circulated to me—a long list of authorities in Kent who express their desire to have this bridge rapidly strengthened and repaired. If the company have succeeded in obtaining the adhesion of the Kent authorities, have they succeeded in getting any support from the London authorities? They have no positive support, although it is true that the county council has resolved not to oppose. How is it that they have obtained the support of the Kent authorities'! They have done it by representing, I presume, because it is in the same papers as the names of the Kent authorities, that there were serious issues involved. I have here an article which says:The people of Kent have awakened to the great danger in which they stand.It goes on to say:Let the public remember that the Charing Cross Bridge to-day forms one or the most important links with our Army in France.Those arguments are entirely beside the mark, as we knew last year. Communication with our Army in France will not be assisted one iota by anything done under this Bill. The dangers to the Kent people are non-existent. There is really no-practical reason why the bridge should be advanced this year beyond that which existed last year, when this House refused to give its approval. If it was so urgent I cannot help thinking that the company would have made a greater effect to alter some of the conditions offered last year. Last year it was distinctly stated that conditions would be offered which would show that no ulterior scheme would be prejudiced and that no financial advantage-would accrue to the company by the power 1037 it would have been granted. We have heard for the first time this evening the suggestion the company has made to meet the financial objection that was raised then. If the matter is as urgent as it is made out to be, the company would have made greater efforts to meet the legitimate objections which were raised last year. If this Bill goes forward, it will undoubtedly prejudice, it must prejudice the settlement of the larger question which is sure to come up in the course of the next few years. Unless real urgency can be shown —I do not think that any has been shown— it would be better, in the circumstances, to wait until after the War, when we shall be able to discuss the question in a totally different atmosphere, and when we may, and I think shall, have some definite proposals brought forward by the authorities of London which will enable the greater scheme to be carried out, of which this will form only a minor part.
§ Mr. BURDETT-COUTTS
When I listened to the opening remarks of the hon. Gentleman (Sir W. Essex), consisting of a lament about the constitution of London government, I felt certain that the opponents of this Bill were going to throw their net very wide for reasons and arguments against it, and that impression was not in any way destroyed by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Burns). I want to come nearer home in the matter. The hon. Gentleman (Sir W. Essex) spoke with playful scorn of the support of this Bill being left to my hon. Friend the Member for Brentford (Mr. Joynson-Hicks). I wonder if he will consent to hear a few words from the Member for Westminster, the locality which is certainly more concerned than any other in London, in which this much abused and, I freely admit, very imperfect station and this very hideous bridge are situated. The Westminster City Council has had this matter under its very careful consideration for some time, and it requested me to support the Bill. I draw particular attention to the words used, because I shall found my remarks in support of the Bill upon the fact implied in these words, thatHaving regard to the vital and immediate importance for the City of Westminster of adequate railway facilities, the Council strongly urges the Members of Parliament representing the City to support this Bill.I do not think that the opinion of the Westminster City Council ought to be entirely disregarded by this House, because, after all, it is the local authority for the district that is most injured or most benefited, as the case may be, by the 1038 existence of this bridge, and it is a local authority representing an area with a very important population, with a great rateable value, the largest of any municipality in this country, and, moreover, an area that focusses within it a great number of industries and interests, industrial, social and philanthropic, all of which require an adequate and accessible railway service. These interests are constantly increasing, and it seems to me to be unreasonable to ask this House to use its authority to inflict upon them decreasing railway facilities. Then the area represented by this Resolution contains all the public-offices, and those offices have been added to enormously in the course of the War. They represent a vast body of non-resident employés, whose hours of work are long, and to whom a ready and full railway service is a great benefit and boon. Almost all the interests in the country in the course of the year form a sort of centripetal movement to this place, and surely it is unreasonable to put any obstacle in the way of an improvement of the railway facilities of such a locality. I yield to no one, in this House or out of it, certainly not to my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea (Mr. Burns), in my ambition for improvement in the architecture of London. I thoroughly approve of this idea of a beautiful roadway-bridge instead of the present hideous structure, and of this idea of a fine station on the southern side, and I believe the Westminister City Council approves of it. but I think it is altogether a false case to put, that it is a question of the present hideous railway bridge and the present inconvenient Charing Cross Station versus the great Imperial bridge and the great Imperial station which have been suggested. The greater part of the arguments of my right hon. Friend were based upon the assumption that we have to choose between one or other of these things. I think it must be patent to the House that that assumption is a false assumption, and that the arguments founded upon that assumption—certainly the strongest arguments of my right hon. Friend were founded upon it—ought not to prevail against the acceptance of this Bill to-night.
The question of steel and labour in War-time has been introduced to prejudice the passing of the Bill. I read the letter referred to in the "Times" this morning, 1039 and I was rather amused by it. It was signed by the representatives of artists, aesthetes, poets, and people who like to be looked upon as combining those three things in one person, and they found for the first time that they had a substantial argument on which to rest their advocacy of this visionary scheme which is going to take twelve years to initiate—that steel would be used by the railway company for their present scheme which was necessary for the War, and that labour would be used which was necessary for the War. We have heard something on that from the hon. Member representing the Board of Trade (Mr. Roberts). I think in using that argument the writers of the letter forgot the institution called the Ministry of Munitions. From what I have seen and what I know of the spirit animating the Ministry of Munitions, I can trust them not to allow any steel to go into the bridge which is wanted for the War, and not to allow any labour to be used which is wanted for the War. I do not think the House ought to be led away by that consideration. They ought to consider the simple, plain facts of the case, that the railway facilities which are now afforded by this bridge are imperfect, that they can be improved, that the improvement will be a great convenience to a vast number of people and a vast number of employés, and that the improvement will not place the slightest obstacle in the way of the ultimate realisation of what is now only a visionary artistic idea.
§ Mr. THOMAS
I do not think that I have ever before in this House voted for a railway Bill, because I have satisfied myself that there was good reason which would entitle me to oppose that Bill But having considered the whole of the facts in connection with this Bill, I am satisfied that it ought to be given a Second Reading. My right hon. Friend (Mr. Burns) concluded his speech by saying that he was proud of London. Anyone who knows the public-spirited record of my right hon. Friend would say that London is equally proud of him. But I am going to submit that the arguments presented this evening are really somewhat far - reached. The Mover of the Amendment for rejection, in a very able and eloquent speech, wound up by giving a picture of the return of the lads from the field of battle. He described all they have gone through and all they have suffered, and how they were going to be 1040 rewarded when they returned by having, above everything else, the consolation of knowing the South-Eastern and Chatham Railway Bill had been rejected. I put it to the House that an argument of that kind ought not to be necessary when dealing with a Bill of this kind. I have listened with some interest to the testimonials given to the various railway companies. Did the circumstances warrant, I would be able to express an opinion upon that. I was astonished to hear the comparison made by my hon. Friend between an ideal scheme and Charing Cross, Take the case of Euston, St. Pancras, and King's Cross. If there is one thing more than another" that would strike any practical man as a wicked waste of public money it is to find three such stations in the vicinity of Euston Road. Then why argue about an ideal scheme? My right hon. Friend would not dare to suggest that if the Midland, the North-Western, or the Great Northern came to this House for a Bill that Bill should be opposed on the ground that these three stations ought to be pulled down and a more beautiful one put up. No one would listen to it for a moment.
Let us consider the position at Charing Cross from the point of view of a railway man. The Mover of the Amendment said that, not only is this station used for traffic purposes, but that it is used as a stand-by for locomotives. This shows how profoundly ignorant he is of railway matters, because, in the first place, all terminal stations must be used for that purpose. The engines must of necessity stop there until the train is taken out. That happens in every terminal station. Why use it as an argument against this particular Bill? But the very object of the Bill is to remove the very complaint that the hon. Member mentioned to-night. For the reason that at present only two out of three lines can be used, with the result that if a light engine has to travel on any one of those sets of rails it blocks the trains coming in. The evil is aggravated by the present system, and it should be removed, in my judgment, by the powers sought in this particular Bill. If this evening we were considering two schemes, one the South-Eastern Railway Bill and the other the magnificent prospective scheme of my right hon. Friend (Mr. Burns), then I believe the House of Commons would almost unanimously vote in favour of the latter. But there is no 1041 new scheme—only an imaginary scheme. There is no concrete proposal, only something that may happen in the future. Meanwhile, the difficulty from which the railway company are suffering is to be perpetuated until this great scheme is produced. That is not a practical position for this House to take up. It is alleged—I do not think the statement has been definitely made, it has been rather suggested—that this Bill has been sprung upon the House because of the abnormal circumstances created by the War. If that were true, this House ought to say without hesitation that it is not going to allow itself to be taken advantage of in that way. But no one knows better than my right hon. Friend or than the Mover of the rejection of this measure that it is not true. They know perfectly well that this Bill was promoted in 1913, and that it was the Wandsworth Gas Company who prevented the measure going forward at that particular time. I think it is unfair to suggest that this is a mere attempt to take advantage of an abnormal situation. As a practical railway worker I submit that there can be no excuse and no justification for the present system of the company at Charing Cross. I think it is an absurd, scandalous, and wicked waste of time that in four days over forty hours should be wasted on engine power. Labour people are not supposed to be business men, but we know perfectly well that everything, after all, comes from the worker, and we say without hesitation, whether it be a private firm or a railway company, that they ought not to be deprived of the opportunity of using their system to the maximum advantage. That is not being done under the present circumstances. My right hon. Friend suggests that engines have not increased in ten years.
§ Mr. THOMAS
The railway company are handling bigger engines, and my right hon. Friend must admit that the Atlantic type of engine is the best to-day. He must admit that the trains of to-day could not be run with the engines of ten years ago. When you realise that the system at Charing Cross suffers because the heavy engines are not allowed on that bridge, and that the work is done only by light engines, it all goes to show that the company need these powers which they seek. If this Bill proposed that Par- 1042 liament should find the money there would be legitimate reason for saying, "No." This is not a Parliamentary business. This Bill asks that the railway company shall spend their own money to the best advantage. They go beyond that and say that the public interests shall not suffer as a result of this expenditure if the great scheme comes forward within ten years. Upon all those grounds of efficiency and that there is waste to-day and upon the higher and more public ground that it will not interfere with the great beautifying scheme of my right hon. Friend and those who support him I submit there is the strongest reason for giving this Bill a Second Reading.
§ Colonel Sir R. WILLIAMS
I desire to say a few words from another point of view than that of the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken, from the point of view of a railway man. I wish to say a few practical words from the point of view of one who has been engaged in building new stations, and I should like to appeal to my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea (Mr. Burns) how long it takes to build a bridge. You have to get your Act, land, plans, and build your bridge. At the same time you have got to clear not only one side, but the other side of the river as well. Anybody who has ever had anything to do with the clearing of a site knows how long that takes. When you have found your site you have got to erect model buildings for every person within a mile of that site who is dispossessed by the station and you have to do that before you clear the site. Having got the site you have to get out your plans, and that takes no inconsiderable time. It was stated that in the case of this new plan of the South-Eastern Railway under this Bill it will take a year to get out plans—working plans—quantities, and contracts, and the time altogether will be somewhat about two years before this necessary improvement can be carried out. The other plan which has been mentioned has not been begun, and I appeal to my right hon. Friend that he knows perfectly well that if he came to-day and obtained an Act of Parliament to make this new bridge it would take seven or eight years at least before you could get your station finished. Remember, also, that you cannot do away with Charing Cross Station until the new-station is absolutely ready. I will ask the right hon. Gentleman another question. 1043 Who is going to benefit most by this new station? It will be the directors of the South-Eastern Railway Company—I mean the company itself, and those who travel by it. We have heard that the existing station is cramped, and that this Bill is necessary to enable them to use the bridge altogether. Is it possible or probable that the directors of the company should deliberately stop a plan which would give them a big, fine station, and which would enable them to carry on their traffic with plenty of siding and afford ample accommodation for the public? Of course, it is manifestly absurd. Then what have the architects got to do with this scheme? Everybody says, "We do not want an architect, we do not want a Sir Aston Webb, to tell us that Charing Cross bridge is an eyesore and a monstrosity." As has been pointed out by the hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas), this comparatively small sum of £167,000 is to give the public a greater convenience than they have at the present time, and whereas the company are now able to use only four lines they will then have four or six lines for the convenience of the public. It will enable the public to travel more quickly over the bridge, and it will not prejudice, as the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Burns) knows perfectly well and cannot deny, the scheme for a new bridge one iota. It does not put it off one single day, and, on the contrary, it will provide for the convenience of the public while this new great scheme is maturing, and therefore the plea that has been urged about the new bridge falls to the ground. On all grounds of common sense and of public convenience the Bill ought to be given a Second Reading.
§ Mr. PETO
The arguments of the hon. Baronet who has just sat down are very similar to those that were given us by the representative of the Board of Trade. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade said we could not tolerate any longer this restriction of traffic, but we have been told that whatever we do with this Bill we are not going to authorise any immediate steps being taken to translate beyond the mere pen, ink, and paper stage any of these projects whatever. In fact, the main argument addressed by the Board of Trade is this, that the House should immediately proceed to a Second Reading of this Bill in the middle of this War because the Ministry of Munitions 1044 will save the House from the ridiculous result of the vote which it starts to give. Nearly a year ago the House considered this scheme. I venture to think it was not the oratory of the right hon. Member for Battersea (Mr. Burns), if I may say so, which was the greatest factor in securing the rejection of the Bill, but it was that the House felt, even a year ago, that we were in the middle of a great war, that already the policy of "Business as usual" was utterly discounted, and that we had got to concentrate ourselves upon other matters, and therefore we broadly decided that we were not going to proceed with this Bill. To-night the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Battersea founded his main argument upon the substantial question relating directly to the issue of the Second Reading of this Bill, as to whether this was an appropriate time to pass it or not. It is true that he gave the House other and wider reasons connected with future schemes, but the speeches in support of this Bill, both from the right hon. Gentleman who spoke for the Treasury Bench and from the hon. Member for Brentford (Mr. Joynson-Hicks), were oblivious of one thing only, and that is that this country is at war. The hon. Member for Brentford said we must not interfere with the regular user of this bridge, and the Secretary to the Board of Trade said the main argument for the Bill was that at the present moment it was incapable of full user. Sir, the War will go on whether Charing Cross Bridge is capable of full user or not. It is of very little military value. It is perfectly capable of taking into Charing Cross the few trains connected with the War which pass over it. It carries no goods, and Charing Cross is not a goods station. It has nothing whatever to do with anything except the convenience of the passenger traffic. The whole of the arguments that have been addressed, particularly by the hon. Member for Westminster, suggest oblivion of the fact that we are not in a state of profound peace. The hon. Member based his arguments upon a resolution of the Westminster City Council, that it was of vital and immediate importance that Westminster should have adequate railway facilities. For what? For carrying on a full peace passenger traffic into Charing Cross! The hon. Member for Derby said this was the first railway Bill he had ever supported. I am astonished that he should have chosen such a Bill for his 1045 matriculation for a seat on the board of directors. [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw!"] The hon. Member for Derby—[Interruption.] I am quite sure the hon. Member would know—[Interruption, and HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw!"]
§ Mr. THOMAS
On a point of Order. I did not hear the observation of my hon. Friend, but I am told he rather attributes an ulterior motive—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"]—to my action to-night. If he does, I have only to observe that
§ I have already given the best evidence that I am not so influenced in matters of this kind.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 184; Noes, 56.1047
|Division No. 13.]||AYES.||[10.55 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Glanville, Harold James||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenry)|
|Alien, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire)||Gretton, John||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Archdale, Lieut. Edward M.||Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S.E.)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Col. Martin||Hackett, John||O'Doherty, Philip|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Atrincham)||O'Malley, William|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.)||O'Neill. Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)|
|Banbury. Rt. Hon, Sir F. G.||Hanson, Charles Augustin||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence||O'Sullivan, Timothy|
|Barnett, Capt. R. W.||Harris, Henry Percy (Paddington, S.)||Paget, Almeric Hugh|
|Bathurst, Col. Hon. A. B. (Glouc, E.)||Haslam, Lewis||Palmer, Godfrey Mark|
|Bathurst, Capt. C. (Wilts, Wilton)||Hayden, John Patrick||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Bellairs, Commander C. W.||Henderson, John M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Pennefather, De Fonblanque|
|Bethell, Sir J. H.||Henry, Sir Charles||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Boland, John Pius||Hendry, Denis S.||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Higham, John Sharp||Pratt, J. W.|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E. H.||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.|
|Brace, Rt. Hon. William||Holt, Richard Durning||Randies, Sir John S.|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)|
|Brookes, Warwick||Hudson, Walter||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Roch, Walter F. Pembroke)|
|Burdett-Coutts, William||Hunt, Major Rowland||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter (Dewsbury)|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Jackson, Lt.-Col. Hon. F. S. (York)||Rutherford, Sir John (Lancs., Darwen)|
|Butcher, John George||Johnston, Christopher N.||Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)|
|Byrne, Alfred||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Sassoon, Sir Philip|
|Cator, John||Jones, W. Kennedy (Hornsey)||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Cave, Rt. Hon. Sir George||Joyce, Michael||Sheehy, David|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Keating, Matthew||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Kenyon, Barnet||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Kerry, Earl of||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Melton)||Starkey, John R.|
|Coats, Sir Stuart A. (Wimbledon)||Lardner, James C. R.||Steward, Gershem|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Layland-Barrett, Sir F.||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Cory, James Herbert (Cardiff)||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Sutherland, John E.|
|Cosgrave, James||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lieut.-Colonel A. R.||Sykes, Col. Alan John (Ches., Knutsf'd)|
|Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Craig, Colonel James (Down, E.)||Lundon, Thomas||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Crean, Eugene||MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh||Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Crumley, Patrick||McGhee, Richard||Thomas J. H.|
|Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||M'Kean, John||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy)||Maclean, Rt. Hon. Donald||Touche, Sir George Alexander|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Macmaster, Donald||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)||Walker, Colonel William Hall|
|Denison-Pender, J. C.||M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Wardle, George J.|
|Devlin, Joseph||Macpherson, James Ian||Weston, J. W,|
|Donelan, Captain A.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Wheler, Major Granville C. H.|
|Donovan, John Thomas||Maden, Sir John Henry||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Doris, William||Malcolm, Ian||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Duffy, William J.||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Whiteley, Herbert James|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Meagher, Michael||Whitley, Rt. Hon. J. H.|
|Duncannon, Viscount||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Whitty, Patrick Joseph|
|Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Laix)||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, N.W.)|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Middlebrook, Sir William||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Fell, Arthur||Molloy, Michael||Williams, Col. Sir Robert (Dorset, W.)|
|Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Morison, Hector||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs, N.)|
|Ffrench, Peter||Muldoon, John||Wilson-Fox, Henry|
|Field, William||Munro, Rt. Hen. Robert||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Neville, Reginald J. N.||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Fitzpatrick, John Lalor||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Younger, Sir George|
|Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Nolan, Joseph|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Nugent, J. D. (College Green)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Joynson-Hicks and Mr. Rowland|
|Forster, Henry William||Nuttall, Harry|
|Gibbs, Col. George Abraham|
|Adamson, William||Goldstone, Frank||Richardson, Arthur (Rotherham)|
|Anderson, W. C.||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||Robinson, Sidney|
|Arnold, Sydney||Hinds, John||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. George N.||Hogge, James Myles||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick Burghs)||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Seely, Lt.-Col. Sir C. H. (Mansfield)|
|Boyton, James||Ingleby, Holcombe||Shaw, Hon. A.|
|Bryce, J, Annan||Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook|
|Burgoyne, A. H.||Jowett, Frederick William||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Kilbride, Denis||Tootill, Robert|
|Chancellor, Henry George||King, Joseph||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Lambert, Richard (Wilts., Cricklade)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Levy, Sir Maurice||Watt, Henry A.|
|Dickinson, Rt. Hon. Willoughby H.||Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)||Wiles, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Dillon, John||Millar, James Duncan||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Dougherty, Rt. Hon. Sir J. B.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Wing, Thomas Edward|
|Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Pearce, Sir Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Essex, Sir Richard Walter||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Fletcher, John Samuel||Radford, Sir George Heynes||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Peto and Mr. P. A. Harris|
|Gelder, Sir W. A.||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||Rees, G. C. (Carnarvonshire, Arfon)|
Bill read a second time, and referred to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills.