§ Mr. W. BENNETT
I beg to move, in page 12, line 21, at the end, to insert the words(3) Any member of the Council or of any local authority holding any appointment as member of any board of directors pursuant to this Section shall, in the event of his membership of the Council or of a local authority, as the case may be, being terminated, be disqualified for continuing to hold such appointment.This Amendment arises out of the Clause in regard to members of a council or local authority who are appointed by such authority as directors of one of the constituent bodies of the Combine. There is not the slghtest doubt that this Amendment can be voted down in exactly the same proportions as was the last Amendment. Therefore, it is no use depending upon the numbers we have in this House to get it through. I appeal to those who are responsible for this Bill to allow us just this one ewe lamb of an Amendment. I hope they will grant by their goodwill that which we have not the strength to wrest from them. This question of the elected members of a local authority who find themselves upon the board of directors of one of the constituent companies is the one link left in this Bill giving some public control over the public trams placed under this Combine. The one solitary link, the one pretence of any kind of public control is the presence of these very few elected representatives on the board of directors. We are appealing that when their connection with the local authority is broken and they cease to be members of it their membership of the board of directors shall also cease in order to preserve this link of some representation of the general public. This is not an unreasonable thing to ask for, especially in view of the criticism which took place recently. It would be quite easy to have a member of a public authority in some way or other co-opted as a member of these bodies and possibly forgotten in the course of time. When the elected members of the county council appeared on the board of directors of this private company, the rest of the directors might be so struck with their tremendous qualifications and intellectual 1806 abilities in connection with public ownership chat they might, in the interests of the Combine, wish to retain them on the Board for life. In spite of that we press for this one Amendment, that the directorship of a publicly-elected representative shall cease when he ceases to be a member of the public body.
§ Mr. MARCH
I beg to second the Amendment.
I hope that the promoters of the Bill will be willing to accept it because there are already instances where such an arrangement is observed. I know of cases where representatives have been appointed to various boards, and when these representatives have failed to secure their return as members of the local council they have had to sever their connection with the boards on which they were co-opted. I am not quite certain but I think that arrangements are already contained in the London County Council's regulations to meet the situation. The promoters ought to be quite willing and ready to accept such an Amendment as this, especially after the fight which was put up in the County Council with a view to getting at least two members of local authorities represented on this particular Board. Originally, provision was made for one public representative to sit on the Board, but eventually Lord Ashfield agreed to the appointment of two representatives. If one of these representatives fails to obtain his return to the council at some fixture date, it will bring the representation down to one. Under these circumstances, the least that the promoters can do is to accept this Amendment and make the provision secure that there shall always be two public representatives on the Board.
§ Sir CYRIL COBB
I am much touched by the appeal of the hon. Member who moved the Amendment. I should like very much to meet him in connection with it, but I am afraid that I cannot accept the Amendment in the form in which it is couched. I think I need only assure him that as far as the Council is concerned they are quite capable of taking care of their own representatives. There are many bodies outside the County Council upon which we appoint representatives, and we have never had any difficulties of this kind. It is quite possible for us to make rules and regulations with 1807 regard to the representatives we place on the Board of Directors as we do regarding our representatives on such concerns as the Lea Conservancy Board, or the Crystal Palace, or any of the other many concerns in which the Council is interested. I can assure both hon. Members opposite that I will specially bring this matter before the General Purposes Committee of the Council when we deal with the appointment of the representatives to the Board of Directors in order to see that there shall never be a gap in the representation of the Council as far as this can be prevented, and that as long as a member of the Council is representing the Council on the Board of Directors he shall be the approved representative of the Council. I think that I can give that guarantee, because I am quite certain that the Council in its own interest will take the greatest possible care that there shall be no gap or hiatus in the representation of the Council on the Board of Directors.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I have no doubt that the London County Council will want to carry out the intention of our Amendment, but surely the hon. Gentleman must know that the London County Council—I think I am speaking with knowledge on the subject, though I am open to correction—at present do not elect directors upon any company. The election of members to the Water Board, which is a public utility concern, is quite a different matter from that with which we are dealing, and I am speaking in the presence of men acquainted with company law. I believe that, although Parliament will stipulate that two directors shall be elected by the County Council, the companies themselves will have to elect them, and, unless there is some special provisions that these directors under certain circumstances shall vacate their seats, I do not believe that it is within the competence of the County Council to make regulations which will bring that about. I should like to ask the Minister to give us his opinion on this subject, or some legal gentleman on the other side to be good enough to do so. I am only a layman. My information is that the County Council will have no power to do what is suggested, and that the only authority empowered to do it is this House, when we are passing legislation 1808 laying it down that the persons elected shall, in the first instance, be members of the County Council. Unless there is provision for terminating their appointment when they cease to be members of the County Council, I understand that they will remain. It is a pity that a Law Officer of the Crown is not here to advise us on this important matter. It is vital that a big county council, which has tremendous interests at stake, shall not be left without direct representation on the board. If hon. Members opposite agree with us to the extent that we all desire to achieve the same end, why should not this Amendment be accepted. The Bill is going to another place. Why should not we insert the words of the Amendment, or other words that will carry out what is desired? It is absurd for hon. Members opposite to say that they are in favour of doing a certain thing, and then to say, "Let us leave it alone, and trust to the County Council."
It may be that I am ill-informed, but I repeat that I do not think the county council, merely by regulations, can take a man off the board of directors. It is a different matter when you elect people to serve on the Water Board or the Lea Conservancy. This will be a money-making concern, with two competing interests, the intersests of the ratepayers of London and the interests of the shareholders of a private monopoly. It is better to carry the Amendment now than to trust to the chance of somebody else doing it. I cannot understand the sort of blank wall that is put up against a proposal to safeguard the interests of the ratepayers. In this combine, this hybrid body that is to be set up, our interests are the interests of the public and of the county council. If hon. Members opposite reject our Amendment they are rejecting something which the ordinary man in the street will say is a reasonable proposition, namely, that when a man ceases to be a member of the county council be shall not be allowed to retain his directorship in the name of the county council.
§ Mr. TASKER
I think I can remove the apprehension of the hon. Member by re-minding him that under the standing orders of the county council they can make such rules or regulations as are desirable to deal with their representatives on various authorities. The 1809 closest analogy is the appointment of certain members of the county council to be Crystal Palace trustees. To all intents and purposes, they are directors. Members of the county council are appointed to the Lee Conservancy, and they receive small fees, but the county council, by virtue of their powers, make it a condition that the fees are to be paid to the coffers of the council. I would suggest that there is great advantage sometimes in continuity of office. A man may be serving on a committee or some other body and it may be of great advantage that a man who is accustomed to the work should continue, and not be supplanted by someone who knows nothing about it. I think the county council are quite capable of looking after their own interests and the interests of the ratepayers at large.
§ Mr. SCURR
The hon. Member has given the analogy of the Crystal Palace trustees. That is not an analogy. The Crystal Palace trustees are appointed under a special scheme. They are in the same category as the members appointed to the Lea Conservancy and the Metropolitan Water Board. It is true that the county council can make regulations and rules saying that a person chosen as its representative to sit upon this board of directors shall resign from the board if he ceases to be a member of the county council; but there is no legal obligation upon that person to accept that decision. If he refuses to resign, what control has the county council over him? He is not elected by the county council. His name is suggested by the county council and he is elected to the board by the directors of the London combine, and so long as the Board choose to elect him he can remain a member of the Board. I did hope that the hon. Member for Fulham, West (Sir C. Cobb) was going to say that when the Bill goes to another place the promoters will insert an Amendment, if not in these words, in such words as will carry out what is desired. As a member of the county council, I know the traditions of honour which have governed that body, but county councils change and a time may come when there will be a very different calibre of people on the council. We want an absolute legal safeguard, and we ought to have an undertaking from the promoters that when the Bill goes to the other place they will suggest an 1810 appropriate form of words to carry out the intentions upon which we are all agreed. If we can have that assurance we will not press the Amendment, but unless such an assurance can be given we must go to a Division.
§ Mr. KINGSLEY GRIFFITH
I hope that the Minister will pay serious attention to this matter. As a point of company law it cannot be said that this question is disposed of by mere regulations of the county council. Unless we have it clearly specified in the official document upon which the transaction is based, the condition under which the directorship shall cease when the person concerned ceases to be a member of the county council, it cannot be got over by mere regulations by some outside body. It will be most unsatisfactory if we are left in the position that this House is asked to rely upon the pious and good intentions of a body which cannot carry out its intentions. After the speech of the hon. Member for East Islington (Mr. Tasker) I am not so sure about the good intentions, because he spoke about the necessity of preserving continuity. That was a most disquieting pronouncement. What could he mean if he did not mean that he contemplates, perhaps reasonably from his point of view, circumstances in which he thinks it would be desirable for someone who had ceased to be a member of the county council to continue on the board of directors? He must contemplate that, otherwise how is continuity in any way threatened? The only sense in which this Amendment threatens continuity is a breaking of continuity at the point when membership of the county council ceases, and the only meaning that can attach to the words of the hon. Member is that he wants it to go on. In these circumstances, unless some definite assurance is given by the Minister, or some hon. Member opposite, I hope the Amendment will be pressed. The present state of things is most unsatisfactory. It has been said that the Amendment cannot be accepted in its present form Hon. Members who use that formula should indicate the form in which they will accept it. Then there is something to discuss, and we can see whether the difficulty of drafting may be overcome.
§ Sir GEORGE HUME
Hon. Members who are so very anxious on this point 1811 have really not appreciated the meaning of Section 10 of the Bill:(1) The Council and any local authority being a party to any agreement entered into under this Act may pursuant to any provisions to that effect contained in the agreement and subject to such terms and conditions as they may think fit appoint any of their members as members of any board of directors or of any joint committee advisory body or other body (whether constituted for the purposes of the agreement or already existing) to which under the terms of the agreement there are entrusted the exercise of any of the powers and duties of the parties to the agreement or any of them or any advisory duties in connection with the carrying out of the agreement.If the Clause goes through as it now stands, it is in the hands of the London County Council to make such conditions as to the appointment of their representatives on the board of directors. I think is completely covers the point that has been raised.
§ Mr. SNELL
The hon. Member for Greenwich (Sir G. Hume) did not give a definite undertaking that the London County Council will make such arrangements as will give the council power to withdraw authority from its representative should he cease to be a member of that body. The need for such precautions as we suggest is made apparent by the frankness of the hon. Member for East Islington (Mr. Tasker), who spoke about the advantages of continuity in office. He gave the whole case away. A man might be a valuable member of the board of directors, but he might cease to be a member of the London County Council, but because he is an able and respected person he might be kept on in his position on the board through a mere love of continuity. The very essence of county council representation is that the man himself should be a member of the council, and we ought to make this perfectly clear. The hon. Member for West Fulham (Sir C. Cobb), in resisting the Amendment, said that is was quite possible for the county council to do this. We know that it is possible, and as a rule the business precaution of the London County Council are quite adequate, but a thing which is possible without an undertaking to do it is not satisfactory. I appeal to the hon. Member representing the London County Council in this matter to give us a defi- 1812 nite undertaking that it shall be considered and that the county council shall have complete control over its representatives.
§ Sir C. COBB
I can give the House this undertaking, that within three months anyone ceasing to be a member of the London County Council would also cease to be a director under these arrangements. A little time however must be left, otherwise it is quite clear what might happen. It may be that in the long vacation, between the end of July and October, there would be a gap. A member of the Council might send in his resignation on the 31st July to the clerk to the council, and it might not be possible for the County Council to appoint a successor. They would then be unrepresented at all, or represented by this particular man. We must make arrangements for such a probability—
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Sir Dennis Herbert)
The hon. Member by the wish of the House is answering a question that has been put to him, but I must call his attention to the fact that he has already spoken once. I believe, through inadvertence, not having been in the Chair before, that I also allowed another hon. Member to speak a second time.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Scurr) is the hon. Member to whom I referred.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I do not think my hon. Friend the Member for Mile End (Mr. Scurr) has spoken before on this Amendment.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I thought the hon. Member had spoken before. If I have made a mistake, I apologise. I saw his name down as having seconded the Amendment.
§ Mr. SNELL
In view of what has been said I should like to ask whether the hon. Member for West Fulham is in a position to pledge future county councils. He may give an undertaking on behalf of the present London County Council, but does that enable him to assure the House that such arrangements will have continuity, if I might use the words of the hon. Member for East Islington.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
Can we have an assurance that in another place words will be put in the Bill which will ensure what hon. Members opposite want done, and which we are all agreed should be done. Why not put in the words in another place.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 56; Noes, 128.1813
|Division No. 294.]||AYES.||[8.35 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Russell, Richard (Eddisbury)|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Hardle, George D.||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Barr, J.||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Bellamy, A.||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Shield, G. W.|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Kelly, W. T.||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Broad, F. A.||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Lansbury, George||Strauss, E. A.|
|Buchanan, G.||Lawson, John James||Sullivan, Joseph|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Lowth, T.||Taylor R. A.|
|Cluse, W. S.||March, S.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Connolly, M.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Dalton, Hugh||Owen, Major G.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Dunnico, H.||Palin, John Henry||Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)|
|Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Paling, W.||Williams, T. (York. Don Valley)|
|Gillett, George M.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Potts, John S.|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Soring)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)||Mr. Snell and Mr. Scurr.|
|Groves, T.||Rebinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Pennefather, Sir John|
|Albery, Irving James||Hacking, Douglas H.||Penny, Frederick George|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Hamilton, Sir George||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Hanbury, C.||Plicher, G.|
|Balfour, George (Hampsteao)||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Price, Major C. W. M.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Ralne, Sir Walter|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Henderson, Lieut.-Col. Sir Vivian||Reid, Capt. Cunningham (Warrington)|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Herbert, S. (York, N. R., Scar & Wh'by)||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Hills, Major John Walter||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Hereford)|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Rye, F. G.|
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Sandeman, N. Stewart|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Hume, Sir G. H.||Sanders, Sir Robert A.|
|Campbell, E. T.||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Iliffe, Sir Edward M.||Smithers, Waldron|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Kindersley, Major Guy M.||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||King, Commodore Henry Douglas||Storry-Deans, R.|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Lamb, J. Q.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Clayton, G. C.||Little, Dr. E. Graham||Tasker, R. Inigo.|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere||Templeton, W. P.|
|Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Macintyre, I.||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||McLean, Major A.||Thomson, Sir Frederick|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Macquisten, F. A.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Cope, Major Sir William||MacRobert, Alexander M.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel.||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Craig, Sir Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Margesson, Captain D.||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Mason, Colonel Glyn K.||Watts, Sir Thomas|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)||Wells, S. R.|
|Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Withers, John James|
|Fleiden, E. B.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Ford, Sir P. J.||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Moreing, Captain A. H.||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Forrest, W.||Neville, Sir Reginald J.|
|Foster, Sir Harry S.||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)||Sir Henry Jackson and Sir Cyril Cobb.|
|Gower, Sir Robert||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That Standing Orders 223 and 243 be suspended, and that the Bill be now read the Third time."—[The Chairman of Ways and Means.]
§ Sir H. JACKSON
In support of the Third Reading of the Bill I would like to review what has happened since the Second Reading. I think I am justified in saying that the opposition to the Bill has practically disappeared. In the London traffic area, over which this Bill will operate, there are 132 local authorities. That total includes the county councils of London, Middlesex, Surrey, Essex, Kent and Hertford. It includes the Cities of London and Westminster and 28 Metropolitan boroughs, several urban district councils and several rural district councils. This great army of local authorities, extending in dignity from the great county councils through all the various stages of local government, is ever vigilant for the concern of the ratepayers and inhabitants. Of the 132 local authorities there are now only 11 left in opposition to the Bill. The 11 include eight Metropolitan boroughs and the two county boroughs of East Ham and West Ham, and the Middlesex County Council is still not quite satisfied, though I am confident that its opposition will soon fizzle. I pay a tribute very sincerely to the eight Metropolitan boroughs which opposed the Bill in the Committee stage. They presented their case with great clearness and skill, but I hope that by this time they have been convinced, by the evidence and the close scrutiny of the Committee presided over by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for East Grinstead (Sir H. Cautley), that they can now rely upon this—that the adequate safeguards for the public, for which they pleaded, are now inserted in the Bill. Those safeguards resulted not from any pressure which they brought to bear, but were given freely by the promoters. The Bill has now been brought much nearer to the ideal of public control which was outlined in the Blue Report. The promoters have throughout been anxious to embody, as far as was possible in legislation, the ideals of the Blue Report. These new features were given gladly and willingly by the promoters.
May I give two examples. A very definite undertaking has been incorporated in the Bill that, after a reasonable return 1816 has been paid on the ranking capital, the disposal of the surplus shall only be made by the consent of the Minister of Transport. In other words, the disposal of the surplus shall come under review by this House, which will have a final voice in the disposal of that surplus. A second important concession to public control is this. In the Bill as it left us on Second Reading it was stated that all public authorities in the area should have the right of appeal to the Minister in regard to what was termed "a general change in the level of fares." The concession has now been willingly offered, without any pressure, that the word "general" should be replaced by the word "material." Accordingly, it is now understood that each local authority will be able to appeal to the Minister in regard to a change of fares in its own area. So we have been approaching, not only to the ideals which the Traffic Advisory Committee have always held, but we are also approaching to the resolution of the London County Council. There is nothing in these Bills which, in any way, hampers the bringing into operation, at the earliest possible moment, of the full scheme of the Blue Report.
My main object to-night is to outline the far-reaching benefits which will accrue to the travelling public of Greater London and my statements are based upon undertakings given by the promoters during the Committee stage. Our opponents have stated in this House and on countless platforms in London, that fares are to be increased and that the trams are to be scrapped. I hope to be able to show that not only are these evil prophecies untrue, but that, on the contrary, as a result of these Bills, the greatest possible advantages will come to the travelling public—advantages which would not have come to them had these Bills not been placed on the Statute Book. I may remind the House that had it been possible for the Opposition of the Labour party and the Liberal party to have prevailed, these Bills would have been defeated. That fact will not be forgotten in the next few weeks. The first of the benefits to which I have alluded is in reference to the question of tube development. Immediately on the passage of these Bills it is intended to promote, in the next Session of Parliament a Bill to 1817 construct an extension of the Piccadilly section of the London Electric Railway northwards from Finsbury Park. The Traffic Advisory Committee have, over and over again, urged that measure as not only the chief but probably the only solution of the transport problem in North-East London. I propose to quote the words used by Lord Ashfield when giving evidence to the Committee. He had previously said in answer to a question that this extension would probably cost from £4,500,000 to £5,000,000, and he went on:I think I have rather pledged the group"—speaking of his own electric railway group—to proceed with that extension if these facilities are granted…. I have dealt with North-East London as being the most urgent. There seems to be from all points an insistent demand that extension should be made. I have no doubt that others think they have claims which they think equally important and we are not unmindful of that.It is his final sentence which I commend sincerely to the House:But I should be willing if Parliament gave us powers to proceed with extensions, with that as a minimum.
Do I understand that there is no undertaking whatever, even if these Bills go through, that anything is going to be done in East London or South-East London? Are they to be left to their fate?
§ Sir H. JACKSON
If the hon. Member will wait for a moment I may make some statement on that point. The words which I have just quoted show that the work referred to is an instalment of tube extension. Obviously, it is the intention to proceed with this, as soon as there is the establishment of a common fund and common management. This great tube extension is a real practical solution of the problem and, at a time when the two Oppositions are promising great schemes of London traffic development and pointing to the unemployment which such schemes would relieve, it is at least important to notice that we are now given an undertaking that there shall be a commencement with this great tube development, instead of having to wait until that doubtful date of the Greek Kalends when one or other of the Opposition parties come into office.
1818 I now come to the question of fares. No subject is of deeper interest to the travelling public. It enters into the very lives and into the weekly budgets of all the homes in this great crowded London of ours. I am going to give this definite assurance—that all existing fares and arrangements on the tramways are to be continued under the common management. That is, the workmen's fares on the tramways, the 2d. mid-day fares on the tramways, the 1s. all-day fares on the tramways and the children's reduced fares on the tramways. Again, I quote the authority on which I make that statement. Lord Ashfield when in the witness chair was asked his opinion about these special fares on the tramways and I quote his reply:I can quite appreciate that those who are using them"—that is the special fares—are enjoying a real privilege and I am not suggesting for a single moment that they should be withdrawn. The point that I do suggest is that in my view I am certainly not proposing to make any change…I am bound to accept the situation. There is the situation and there are the fares; they are not going to be altered.Therefore, it is the definite opinion of the promoters that as the co-ordination Bills now stand, not only will the great boon of the special fares on the trams be continued but that any proposal to make any material alteration in the fares, rates and charges now in existence, would necessarily require to be justified to the Minister of Transport and could only be carried out with his approval, on the advice of the London Traffic Advisory Committee. That is a safeguard in the public interest, of the most important character. The ultimate aim, and the perfectly justifiable aim is that there should be throughout London a perfectly uniform system of fares—uniform in character and in advantage to the travelling public. There is every indication that the public will be afforded a share in the benefits which will result undoubtedly from the common fund and the common management and the promoters do not contemplate any general increase in the existing fares but rather con-cessions. Again, I think Lord Ashfield had this very much in his mind when in reply to the representatives of East Ham, he said: 1819It is quite clear that if by good fortune the parties to this agreement had a surplus income, in other words, were making an unreasonable profit, I do not think anybody need worry about the fares being reduced. Public opinion will very quickly force that.Now I come to something that I hope will not excite the hilarity of my hon. Friends opposite, but even if it does it will earn the gratitude of that great army that they represent in this House. I refer to the question of workmen's fares. I think it will be agreed that no greater boon exists to the London travelling public than the existence of workmen's fares. They are required, as we all know, by Statute upon all tramways and all railway undertakings. These statutory bodies are compelled to convey workmen at workmen's fares during certain specified hours, but up to now no such facilities have been granted by the omnibuses. It is Lord Ashfield's intention to introduce workmen's fares on the omnibuses in those districts where the omnibuses are the sole means of transport, and where, therefore, cheap facilities for workmen may be needed. Again I will give chapter and verse for this very important announcement. Lord Ashfield makes this statement:It is suggested that the first step in the direction of lower fares should be the introduction of a scheme of workmen's fares upon the omnibuses in those areas not served by trams, and also in those areas where the tram services are inadequate…. It is our purpose to experiment with workmen's fares on the omnibuses in certain areas if the powers under this Bill are conferred upon us and a wider Common Fund is established.That is the third boon which I say the travelling public of London is to receive. Now I come to the fourth, perhaps not a boon, but at any rate a very great concession, and when my hon. Friends opposite often try to tell this House that they represent organised labour, I want to emphasise very strongly that one of the chief concerns of the promoters of this Bill has been to safeguard the needs, the lives, the wages, the security, and the future of all employés who are in the service of these great transport undertakings. In the London County Council Bill there is a Clause which gives adequate compensation to any employé displaced as a consequence of these Bills, and when we come to the Combine—and I want to stress this point—the whole of 1820 the trade unions concerned—that is, the National Union of Railwaymen, the Transport and General Workers' Union, and the Railway Clerks' Association—asked for, and have obtained, guarantees that have completely satisfied them. This is evidence of that good faith and confidence which, I venture to say, have always existed between organised labour on the one hand and Lord Ashfield's group upon the other.
This assurance, given to the trade unions mainly concerned with their employés, is, that they do not contemplate, as a result of the establishment of a common fund and common management, discharging any of their employés. The intention is to continue all in service, and they have given an undertaking to ensure this, and, as far as I know, this undertaking has been accepted by them and by their distinguished leaders, the right hon. Member for Derby (Mr. J. H. Thomas), Mr. Ernest Bevin and Mr. Walkden, because both sides, Lord Ashfield and his group and the men's leaders, employers and employés, are anxious that their members should continue in employment rather than receive compensation for loss of employment. I have in my hand the letter which Lord Ashfield wrote, and as that letter is public property and is on the minutes of evidence, I think I may be allowed to read it. This letter has been sent to the three organisations concerned and states:This letter is to give you an assurance that none of the present employés of the Underground Railways will have their positions prejudiced as the result of action taken under the provisions of the London Electric Railway Companies (Co-ordination of Passenger Traffic) Bill. Yours faithfully, (Signed) Ashfield.9.0 p.m.
Let me summarise these great benefits to the travelling public of London which will follow directly as a consequence of these Bills passing into law. First, workmen's fares on the omni-buses, which is a definite reduction in fares; secondly, no interference with the existing special fares on the tramways, namely, workmen's, 2d. mid-day, 1s. all day, and children's fares; thirdly, the immediate extension of the Piccadilly Tube northward, and the commencement of a policy of tube expansion to other districts of London and Greater London; and, fourthly, complete safeguards to the men 1821 employed in these great transport undertakings. Although this repetition is not pleasant to hon. Members opposite, I feel that it is my duty to tell them that at every stage of these Bills we have received from the two Oppositions, the Liberal and Labour parties, the most bitter opposition to these proposals. I have no hesitation in saying that these great benefits, which are not platitudes and wild political theories, but will make all the difference in the weekly budgets of these humble homes, would not have been received if our hon. Friends opposite could have prevented it.
At any rate, the opponents and the promoters agree on one thing, and that is that these two Bills constitute very important legislation. Whether for good or for ill, they are the most important legislation that has been contemplated yet for the transport of Greater London, with its population of 8,000,000, growing and growing, a population twice that of Scotland, a population greater than that of Australia. Transport and travelling facilities enter into the daily lives of these millions and are a vital necessity, and it is in these daily lives, for good or for ill, that these Bills will operate. So, those of us who for the past five years have been studying this problem of London traffic, whether by public inquiries, by committees, or by interviews, are convinced of this, that this is the only solution of the problem. I agree that it is a deeply interesting experiment, and its success or failure will depend largely upon the good will of all in the next few years. If successful, it may well be the pattern for the solution of traffic problems in the other great and crowded areas of Great Britain; and so, with a full knowledge of this responsibility and this opportunity, I ask the House to give the Bill the Third Reading.
§ Mr. SCURR
I desire to move that the Bill be read the Third time upon this day three months. We are now nearing the end of what I might perhaps describe as a farcical tragedy which has been performed for some years. Anyone listening for the first time to the hon. Member for Central Wandsworth (Sir H. Jackson) would think that this was some proposal which had recently come before the public and had been forced upon us—
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I would like to call the attention of the hon. Member to the course which he is taking and to the Question which is immediately before the House, which is:That Standing Orders 223 and 243 be suspended, and that the Bill be now read the Third time.I am not sure it would not be more convenient, and perhaps meet the hon. Member's wishes, if he merely spoke and voted against the Question in those words; otherwise I am afraid I might have to divide the Question.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
We do not mind if the Question is divided. If you put the first Question now, we will vote on that, and then we can take the Motion for the Third Beading, and vote on the Question "That the Bill be read the Third time upon this day three months." We do not know what is moved. I thought that the hon. Baronet had moved the Third Reading.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The hon. Gentleman should have listened to the Question when it was put from the Chair. The Question was read from the Chair,That Standing Orders 223 and 243 be suspended, and that the Bill be now read the Third time.That is the Question before the House.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
If you are going to put these two Questions at one and the same time, we are surely entitled to move the Amendment, "That the Bill be read a Third time upon this day three months." If you rule that we are not allowed to do that, I suggest that, according to the Rules, you must divide the two Questions, and put them to the House separately, so that we can move the Amendment.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The reason I raised the question was that I thought possibly it might be sufficient for the hon. Gentleman's friends merely to vote against the Question as it was put from the Chair, but, if that course does not commend itself to them, then, if he and the House generally wish it, I will put first the Question, "That Standing Orders 223 and 243 be suspended in respect of the Bill."
§ Question put, "That Standing Orders 223 and 243 be suspended in respect of the Bill."
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."1824
§ The House divided: Ayes, 127; Noes, 56.1823
|Division No. 295.]||AYES.||[9.9 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Pennefather, Sir John|
|Albery, Irving James||Hacking, Douglas H.||Penny, Frederick George|
|Applin, Colonel H. V. K.||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Hamilton, Sir George||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Hanbury, C.||Phillpson, Mabel|
|Balfour, Georg[...] (Hampstead)||Harrison, G. J. C.||Pilcher, G.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Price, Major C. W. M.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Raine, Sir Walter|
|Bird, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Henderson, Lieut.-Col. Sir Vivian||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Herbert, S. (York, N. R., Scar. & Wh'by)||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Hills, Major John Waller||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Hereford)|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell|
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Rye, F. G.|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Sandeman, N. Stewart|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Sanders, Sir Robert A.|
|Campbell, E. T.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Hume, Sir G. H.||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Iliffe, Sir Edward M.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Clayton, G. C.||Kindersley, Major Guy M.||Templeton, W. P.|
|Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||King, Commodore Henry Douglas||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Lamb, J. Q.||Thomson, Sir Frederick|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Little. Dr. E. Graham||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Cope, Major Sir William||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||MacIntyre, Ian||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Craig, Sir Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||McLean, Major A.||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||MacRobert, Alexander M.||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel.||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Watts, Sir Thomas|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Margesson, Captain D.||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Wells, S. R.|
|Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Mason, Colonel Glyn K.||Withers, John James|
|Fielden, E. B.||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)||Womersley, W. J.|
|Ford, Sir P. J.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Forrest, W.||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. [...] T. C.||Young, Rt. Hon. Hilton (Norwich)|
|Foster, Sir Harry S.||Moreing, Captain A. H.|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||Neville, Sir Reginald J.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Sir Henry Jackson and Sir Cyril Cobb.|
|Gower, Sir Robert||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)|
|Greene, W. P. Crawford||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Hardle, George D.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Russell, Richard (Eddisbury)|
|Barr, J.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Bellamy, A.||Kelly, W. T.||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Shield, G. W.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Lansbury, George||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Broad, F. A.||Lawson, John James||Strauss, E. A.|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Lowth, T.||Sullivan, Joseph|
|Buchanan, G.||MacLaren, Andrew||Taylor, R. A.|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||March, S.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Cluse, W. S.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Connolly, M.||Naylor, T. E.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Dalton, Hugh||Owen, Major G.||Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)|
|Day, Harry||Palin, John Henry||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Gillett, George M.||Paling, W.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Ponsonby, Arthur||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley||Potts, John S.||Mr. Snell and Mr. Scurr.|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
§ Mr. SCURR
I beg to move to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months."
1825 Anyone listening to the speech which we have just heard from the hon. Member for Central Wandsworth (Sir H. Jackson) would think that these were quite innocent Bills, promoted toy persons animated with the greatest possible public spirit, deeply concerned with the problems of London traffic because they have seen them becoming more complex during the last few years, and anxious only to provide the greatest possible travelling facilities in the way of workmen's fares and cheap fares for the people of London. But we are nearing the end of what, in one sense, might be described as a farce, and in another sense as a tragedy. The story to which we are writing "finis" to-night—because the majority on the other side will carry the Third Beading—did not begin with the famous Blue Report of the London Traffic Advisory Committee. It started a good many years ago. If we wish to find the origin of these Bills, we must go beyond the estimable gentlemen who sit on the London Traffic Advisory Committee. We must go to the famous city of Chicago, in which once upon a time there was a gentleman by the name of Yerkes. I think that is the right way of pronouncing his name. Mr. Yerkes thought Chicago was rather a good city to loot from the point of view of traffic. His heart yearned for the public interest. He wanted to convey the Chicago people about their city, and he made every effort to secure a corner in their traffic facilities. Fortunately, the public spirit of Chicago rose against him, and if that gentleman's name is now mentioned in Chicago every decent citizen expectorates—I believe there are plenty of facilities for it in that city.
Having failed to gain his advantage in Chicago, Mr. Yerkes came over to London, and found here a greater city to loot. He began to lay the foundations for securing complete control of London's traffic. I do not know what happened to him. He was connected with a considerable amount of international finance, German and American. Really, there is a tremendous amount of international finance at the back of this traffic combine of London at the present time, and it is not the purely British concern which it appears to be. I suppose he was not successful enough, and so there came on the 1826 scene another gentleman, who, strangely enough, seems also to have had experience in both traffic and politics in the United States of America. That gentleman, who, no doubt, has distinguished ability in certain directions, came to us under the name of Albert Stanley. He entered this House, became a Minister of the Crown, and learned something of our political system. Having found out its advantages and disadvantages, he proceeded to carry on the work which had been started to obtain a monopoly of the traffic facilities of London. To-day he comes forward as the dictator, the Mussolini. I do not think there has ever been in the history of this Parliament such a spectacle as we have had to-night of an hon. Member of this House getting up and giving us assurance after assurance of what is going to happen—not in the name of any public authority, not in the name of this House, but in the name of one man, in the name of Lord Ashfield.
§ Mr. SCURR
When we are dealing with public interests, it is not the word, good or bad, of individuals which should come into the matter; it is the word of the public bodies which have to decide these questions, not the fiat of an individual. This gentleman who is so anxious to-day to co-ordinate London's traffic, who is burning with desire to extend the Tube from Finsbury Park, was not formerly so eager to bring about the abolition of competition. When it was only a question of fighting the London County Council trams the traffic monopoly did not worry about competition. It pursued the ordinary methods of commercial enterprise by trying to freeze out the rival enterprise. Competition was good; it was satisfactory for London traffic then.
Unfortunately for the plans of Lord Ashfield, two or three ex-service men who had put their gratuities together came into the Strand one-day with a chocolate omnibus. That omnibus filled Lord Ashfield with great perturbation. He honoured it. He escorted it wherever it went with several of his omnibuses. He had two or three in front of it, two or three behind it, and one at the side. When that omnibus stopped, all his omni- 1827 buses stopped. There was difficulty in getting on. There was trouble with the gears; the petrol gave out. At last a Department of the Government had to interfere, and the police authorities compelled fair play for the chocolate omnibus. Since that time there has been an extension of the independent omnibus undertakings of London, and that has upset Lord Ashfield, and he wants to abolish competition.
That is one side of the story I am relating, but there is another side. The party opposite, standing for Parliament under various names as Unionists, Conservatives and Tories, in London's affairs call themselves by two names. Some 22 years ago they came before London as Moderates and Municipal Reformers. They secured a majority on the London County Council, and from that time the one idea they have had has been to sell or otherwise get rid of the trams. There are many handbills of that election, and everyone knows that the deliberate object of the London Municipal Society was to get rid of this really highly successful trading enterprise. They were, however, restrained by public opinion, but they have never forgotten the pledges they gave to their paymasters, and they have determined to get rid of the trams of London some time or other. Instead of selling the trams and so obtaining for the ratepayers some return of the capital which has been invested, they are going to give them away to the control of Lord Ashfield. He has realised his ambition, and he is to be the dictator of London traffic. These Bills do not do what they profess to do. They do not co-ordinate London passenger traffic nor are there any arrangements or agreements in them with the suburban traffic of the mainline railways. I may be told that an understanding has been come to between the mainline railways and the Combine and possibly the London County Council. I do not know. After all, the County Council is only a public body. It does not come in matters of this kind. It is the great private enterprise body which is to be taken into consideration, and certainly we know that the mainline railway companies are powerful enough and are represented well enough in this House to take care that they will not suffer in any bargain which is to be made.
1828 That is one of the complaints against the Bill. Whatever arrangements or undertakings may have been entered into with regard to the mainline railways and suburban traffic, we are absolutely ignorant of them and in the dark. The Bill leaves the agreements absolutely in the air. It gives a right to the two parties to the agreement simply to make whatever agreement they like. It is to be submitted, we are told, to the Minister of Transport, but he has no power of alteration. He may make suggestions and possibly refuse to agree as to what is ranking capital or what should be a reasonable return. We are told that there is the safeguard of Parliament, because the Order is to lie on the Table of the House. We know what is the procedure of this House. Only recently when the Local Government Bill was before this House, there was very serious discussion, in which many Members of the legal profession took part, regarding the growth of the power of the Minister to legislate by himself. In another place, there was a Clause inserted in the Bill which was and is a real safeguard, inasmuch as under the Local Government Act any Order made by the Minister will have no effect unless Parliament has absolutely approved of it. Under the procedure in regard to this Bill, unless there is a Motion made against it and that Motion is carried, the agreement goes through, and all that Parliament can do is to amend the agreement and either approve it or alter it. Everyone knows that under the procedure of this House, whatever Government is in power, with the state of public business no Government looks with a favourable eye on any proposals to discuss an Order of this kind concerning some private matter affecting a town or district. It comes up after Eleven o'clock, and there is a desultory conversation or discussion and then the whole matter ends. I consider that the procedure which has been taken in order to bring these Bills before the House is one of the most disgraceful things in the history of this country.
The hon. Member for Central Wands-worth talks about far-reaching benefits. What is the basis of these Bills? It is to abolish competition. If the basis is to abolish competition, the only reason why it is desired to abolish it is that the Combine considers that under the present 1829 system it is unable to get what it conceives to be an adequate return on the capital invested. I wants a higher return on that capital than it is now getting. How is it to get it? There are only one or two ways. It can get it by increasing the revenue; and in order to increase the revenue it must increase fares. The hon. Member for Central Wandsworth read out a certain letter of Lord Ashfield in regard to workmen's fares. I followed that letter very carefully, and the only pledge we had from Lord Ashfield was that they would experiment with certain workmen's fares, That was the word used, and, if Lord Ashfield finds his experiment with workmen's fares is going to reduce the return on his capital when he really wants a higher return than he is at present getting, obviously the workmen's fares will go, as far as omnibuses are concerned. They must either increase the fares or, if they do not increase the fares, they must reduce the facilities for travelling and either take the trams or omnibuses off the road. It may be that in one or two places that may be necessary, but when anyone sees the people of London being conveyed about, especially in the peak hours of traffic, one does not think there are, in any sense of the word, too many facilities for getting the people to and from their homes.
We have heard the same old, old story about tube development. If the Minister of Transport and the Government of the day, knowing that problem which has been urged upon them in report after report of the Traffic Advisory Committee, had only been concerned with the matter, we should not now have had these Bills before us, and we should have had the tubes in hand long ago. Lord Ashfield is unable to go to the City of London and get the money which he wants because they will require too great a rate of interest on account of the management of the concern at present. The return which is being made at present is not sufficient to attract investors to a speculative investment of this kind. Lord Ashfield wants to have at the back of him the credit of the ratepayers of London, and he is getting that credit under these Bills. I consider that they are in every sense of the word a robbery of the rights of the people of London. They have not been brought forward in the public interest. Transport is a 1830 great public interest, and particularly the passenger transport of London. It is possible that in the interest of business and other interests in London, you have got to convey the people at cheap rates, it may even pay industry to cheapen the cost of transport, making a charge on the rates covering the whole of London. It may be a better thing and in the interest of business and enterprise if the people can be taken to and fro with cheaper facilities, but that can only be done by a public body which must be concerned all the way through with the public interest. Lord Ashfield, no matter how much public spirit he may have, is compelled by reason of the very fact that he is a Director and Chairman of numerous enterprises of this kind, to consider above everything the interests of his shareholders. He cannot think of anything else, but I do not throw any blame upon him. We consider that the interests of the public are superior to the interests of the Combine shareholders, and for that reason we are opposing this Bill. Although these Measures may pass from our control to-night I warn hon. Members opposite that they have not heard the last of them. Our opposition is not yet finished, and it is quite possible that they will not be able to operate these Measures.
§ Mr. GILLETT
I beg to second the Amendment.
We are very much indebted to the hon. Member for Central Wandsworth (Sir H. Jackson) for the amusing address which he has delivered. I think it was rather regrettable to hear a Member of this House announcing concessions made by the head of a Combine. The amusing thing about the speech of the hon. Member for Central Wandsworth was that the more you examine it the less one sees in it. I was very much struck by the hon. Member opposite standing up and announcing all those privileges which the tramway service was going to confer upon London. I well remember years ago on the London County Council members of the party opposite doing all they could to prevent the Council taking over the tramways.
We have been told of a so-called concession which is going to be continued. As a matter of fact I understand that 1831 the tramways, after the payment of interest on capital, will show a small surplus. Many of the things which the hon. Member for Central Wandsworth has announced as concessions are things which are in existence to-day. The hon. Member tells us that the 2d. fares are to be continued. When I was a member of the London County Council I remember that an attempt was made by the members of the party opposite to abolish 2d. fares altogether, and had it not been for the action of members of the Opposition party the hon. Member would never have been in a position to announce that something which is new in existence is going to continue. We are told that all these things are going to be continued under the beneficent rule of Lord Ash-field. We thank the hon. Member for Central Wandsworth for nothing, because all these things are now in existence. We all understood from the letter which was read that motor omnibuses were going to have workmen's fares, but now we understand that what the letter actually stated was that experiments were going to be made in workmen's fares on the omnibuses, and that may mean something or it may mean nothing.
We were also told that Lord Ashfield was graciously going to make preparations for more tube railways near Fins-bury Park, but why were we not told this before. What has happened to make it possible for such an announcement to be made to-day? I do not gather that Lord Ashfield intends to be charitable in this matter, and no doubt those proposals have got a financial backing that is going to float schemes upon the London money market. That is not Lord Ashfield, because the people of London will find the money. From some of the speeches which have been made it would seem that many of these things could not be carried out without these Bills. I know that we have to have an amalgamation of the traffic of London. [An HON. MEMBER: "That is the whole case!"] We may be in agreement on that point, but we differ as to who is going to control the amalgamation. We might have brought about amalgamation and retained control, and then we should have done the same as Lord Ashfield is going to do. Those tubes could have been put down after we had got the amalgamation.
1832 With regard to the question of control, everything seems to be based upon Lord Ashfield, but he is not going to live for ever and we are not legislating for Lord Ashfield. You cannot lay down a system of government that is going to be based on the personality of one man, and in every case where a person has tried to be a dictator it has proved to be very dangerous. However satisfactory things might turn out under Lord Ashfield we have to consider what might happen in years to come. Have we any guarantee that the shares in this company will be held by English people? Is there anything to prevent those shares being bought up by American money which is constantly pouring in to buy up such investments? Even if the hon. Member for Central Wandsworth can assure us on that point I do not consider that the board of directors, which may be suitable to run interests in the City of London, is the most suitable body for controlling and directing the traffic of a great city. After all, a board of directors if they have the money can always command the services of the ablest men to carry on any business concern, and any great municipality could command the same services by paying for them.
What are the questions which have to be settled on the Highways Committee of the London County Council? They are similar questions to those which come up in the Dominions where you find the railway service is controlled by the State. They put the railway service into parts of the country that are not going to pay for a considerable time. That is done in the interests of the community, and exactly the same thing happens in regard to traffic problems in this country. The all-night trams are a very good illustration. We were told that the all-night trams were not a financial success, but they were run simply because the problem was looked at from the point of view of the government of a great city, and not from the point of view of pounds, shillings and pence. That is the fundamental difference between the control of the traffic of London by, on the one hand, either a great municipality or combination of municipalities, or, on the other hand, by a private combine.
On these grounds I am absolutely and entirely opposed to the proposal that has been made by the hon. Member for Central Wandsworth. I can congratulate 1833 him on one thing, and that is the great skill with which, in speaking in favour of the Third Reading, he avoided telling us anything about the Bill itself, but distracted our attention by these wonderful promises of what Lord Ashfield was going to do for London, most of which, as I have pointed out, are quite worthless. The hon. Member has given the impression to the House that something wonderful is going to be done, but, on the simple question that we want answered, namely, what is really happening to the London County Council trams, he practically said not a word. The House will have noticed that he never told us anything about what is going to happen to the ordinary fares. He told us about the workmen's fares, and about the other concession, but he said not a word about the ordinary fares. He has not told us what, when this body is brought into being, is going to rank as ordinary capital; he has not told us what, in the case of the London County Council, will be counted as ranking capital; he has not told us how the London County Council are going to get the money for the annual capital repayments for which they are liable from year to year. These are the things about which we should have liked to hear, rather than the wonderful promises that the hon. Member mentioned to us. But, of course, he was anxious to distract our attention from these things, and so he said nothing about them. These are some of the questions that I should have liked to have asked him, but now there will not be an opportunity of hearing him again.
Turning to the Bill itself, we have over and over again been told that the Minister is a kind of guardian angel in reserve, but the point, even then, is what he will be able to do with regard, say, to the question of fares. The Minister has to make allowance for the fact that a reasonable return on the capital has to be earned. As my hon. Friend the Member for Mile End (Mr. Scurr) has pointed out, the object of the Combine is to secure that there will be a return on the capital, and the Minister, practically speaking, is absolutely helpless to protect in any way the people of London. That return on capital must be obtained first of all, and, of course, there is little doubt that it can be obtained where 1834 there is a monopoly. It may be obtained by economies, or by putting up the fares, or by reducing competition. I presume that some economies are going to be made in the traffic system of London, perhaps by running fewer omnibuses, or by reducing the number of trams, but if, even then, the standard rate of interest is not obtained, then, sooner or later, it will be necessary to put up the fares; and then, if any municipality goes to the Minister and says that the fares are too high, the Minister, unless he can prove that the figures presented to him by the Combine are wrong, has no more power to put the fares back again than anyone else.
Then we are told that the House of Commons has a chance, but over and over again in this Parliament we have seen what happens at 11 o'clock at night when a Prayer is introduced. Hon. Members know quite well how exceedingly ineffective that is, when everyone is wanting to go home, when the Press is hardly represented at all, and there is practically no chance of effective opposition. The hon. Member smiles, and I can quite appreciate that he enjoys the joke, because he knows perfectly well that he has been "putting it over" us, and that, in his pleasant way, he has really been fooling us. I can only say that some of us know perfectly well that it is really not quite so funny as that. This Bill, to my mind, is one of the worst Bills that we have seen in this Parliament, where we have seen a fair number of unsatisfactory Bills. We are asked to part with this great municipal service, and we are told practically nothing by the representatives of the London County Council as to what is going to happen. We know nothing about the capital, we know little about the rate of interest, we know little about the control. We are simply told that, if only we will hand over everything to Lord Ashfield, all will be for the best; but how long it is going to last we do not know, or who will reign in the place of Lord Ashfield in the days to come. Such a system does not commend itself to me, and, much as it may satisfy the hon. Member for Central Wandsworth to tell the people of London about this concession that he has made, I certainly should not have the slightest fear in going to my constituents and telling them that this so-called favour which is to be 1835 conferred by the hon. Member upon London is one of the greatest frauds that we have seen in this Parliament.
§ Sir C. COBB
One would have thought, from the speeches of the two hon. Members who have moved the rejection of this Bill, that some terrible and nefarious contract had been entered into with Lord Ashfield. They seem to have the most exaggerated idea of what has happened. After all, there is no agreement yet, and the ground is perfectly clear for an agreement to be arrived at as soon as this Bill goes through. This Bill, as I have always understood it, is an enabling Bill, and I can assure my hon. Friend the Member for Central Wandsworth (Sir H. Jackson), as well as hon. Members opposite, that the London County Council is quite capable of taking care of itself, and is not going to enter into any agreement with Lord Ashfield or anyone else unless it safeguards both the interests of the council itself and the interests of the travelling public. It is on these very few points that most of the speeches on behalf of the Council were made on the Second Reading. So far as regards the safeguarding of the interests of the Council and the public, anyone who studies the proceedings in the Committee upstairs, or reads the speeches made on the Second Beading, will see that the London County Council is fully seized of what it ought to do to preserve and safeguard those rights and privileges of the public, and to ensure, so far as it can be ensured, that there will be an extension of traffic facilities for London.
As soon as ever this Bill is through—and I have no doubt that it will go through—we shall be in a position to make an agreement. The County Council will then see that no agreement is made unless it is perfectly certain that the financial interests of the tramway undertakings in London are stabilised by their fusion with the other traffic undertakings in London, and will also take care that there will be no kind of doubt that, so far as our representatives on the combine are concerned, we shall have, perhaps not altogether a decisive, but a very strong voice in protecting the interests of the travelling public. In the third place, we shall take care that, so far as these agreements are concerned, there will be assured for the travelling 1836 public those improved traffic facilities which can only be obtained by combining the municipal and private undertakings. That being the case, I hope I have been able to bring the Debate back to the main point we are considering, whether we shall give leave to the County Council and to the Combine to enter into this agreement, safeguarding in those three particular ways the interests of the tramway concern and of the travelling public.
§ 10.0 p.m.
§ Mr. STRAUSS
The hon. Member who moved the rejection of the Bill gave a very interesting account of the negotiations and machinations which have been going on for years in order to get control of the London passenger traffic. I cannot refrain from reminding him and the party with which he is associated that we should not be in this predicament to-day if the London Traffic Act, 1924, had not received the support of the Socialist and Conservative parties. I was glad to hear from the hon. Member for Fulham (Sir C. Cobb) of the safeguards the travelling public will obtain at the hands of the County Council, but I fail to see how the travelling public will be protected, in view of the fact that the County Council will only have two representatives out of a board of some 18 members. I cannot help expressing my regret at the way in which those who represent the County Council have dealt with this very important matter. I realise that those who control the Combine are astute business men. Their interest is to earn dividends. In my opinion the interests of the Combine are diametrically opposed to those of the County Council, especially in regard to the tram service. The object of the County Council is not to try to make a big profit out of the passenger traffic but to give a service at the lowest possible rate. As far as I can see, there has not been any loss in the past and, if there had been a loss, the services the trams have rendered to the travelling public are beyond doubt. I do not know how the travelling public would get on without the trams. The one fear that is exercising the minds of the poorer people who use the trams is that there is no guarantee that fares will not be increased. We have heard of the safeguards—the appeal to the Minister, who will be able to veto any exploitation. 1837 The Combine run omnibuses at unremunerative rates. It is quite a business proposition to do so, in order to develop various districts, and, if they desire, they can run omnibuses on many of these routes, with the result that the profits of the pool will naturally de-crease. It is legitimate business. They hope to reap the benefit in years to come. What will the result of such a policy be? The figures that will be submitted to the Minister and his advisers will show that the fares are too low and must be raised. They cannot make a fair return on their capital. The gentlemen who will represent the Combine are men who have forgotten more about London Traffic than his advisers ever learnt. It will be a one-sided sort of negotiation and, on the figures they produce, the Minister would be compelled to sanction an increase of fares. Therefore the safeguards are quite illusory. I regret more than I can express that those gentlemen, who I am sure have the interests of this great Metropolis at heart, have taken this step. If I am correctly informed, these Bills are to be held over for the new Parliament. I cannot understand, therefore, why there is this hurry to introduce these very controversial Measures in the last days of a dying Parliament. It is an outrageous course to pursue to force the Bill through. I wish to place on record our protest at the way the representatives of the county council handle such an important matter as the passenger traffic of London, and I feel sure that, as soon as the electors have an opportunity of expressing their opinions, they will censure them.
Sir GEORGE HAMILTON
It appears to me that both the Mover and the Seconder of the Amendment have not read the Bill. As I understand them, they are merely enabling Bills. They are to make it possible for the traffic of London to come into one central pool under one central management. There is nothing compulsory about it. The Mover of the Amendment said the effect of the Bill will be that the County Council will not be selling their trams but giving them away. I never heard a wilder statement, There is not a word of truth in it. The whole point is that the trams will be handed over to the pool, with a common management. If there is no 1838 money in the pool to pay for the capital invested in the trams, the omnibuses and railways will not get anything either. After all, the management of the Underground railways and omnibuses are not such a body of fools that they run their business at a loss, and they have no intention of going into a scheme which will result in a loss to the County Council. Nor is there anything compulsory on the County Council. It permits them to enter into an agreement with this pool. I am extremely anxious to see the common management of London traffic become law as soon as possible. It seems to me that it is the only chance in the interests of the teeming thousands of workers who have been, largely owing to the action of the London County Council, compelled to live outside London, in distant parts, without any adequate means of getting to their work and getting back again at night.
The travel conditions prevailing beyond the actual East End, and into Ilford, both night and morning, are positively disgusting. You get packed into a tiny little carriage 15 people sitting on one another's knees, and generally having to travel in a disgusting condition. When old men and young girls are tired after a hard day's work in London, it is hard that they should have to travel home at night under conditions of that sort, Here, I believe, I shall be in agreement for once in my life with the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) who wants a tube out East. I want a tube out East, and I am convinced—I only wish he was—that by these Bills we are taking a serious step forward towards getting a tube there. I believe that by common management, by rationalisation—it is not a word which I like; it is too much like the word "nationalisation" which my hon. Friends opposite like to use—of the traffic problem of London, funds can be found to extend the Underground Railway. It appears to me that the only way to travel now is either in the air or underground. It is quite impossible to travel on the roads. To-day I travelled, in company with a right hon. Friend on the Front Bench, to Ilford by motor, and it took over an hour to get there. The roads were congested with trams, some of them belonging to the London County Council, some to the West Ham Corporation, and some to the Ilford Borough. There were trams, 1839 omnibuses, lorries, everything. You could not move. The place was simply a seething mass of traffic. I believe that with the proper co-ordination made possible by these Bills we shall be able not only to raise money to build tubes, but to im-prove and control the traffic in a more reasonable way. I believe that there are sufficient safeguards in these Bills to allay the fears of the hon. Member for North Southwark (Mr. Strauss) that fares are going to be raised. The safeguards here are quite enough, and if he will take the trouble to read Clause 11 again, I think that he will agree with me on that point. This is a matter of vital importance to the teeming millions in London who have to travel out to sleep. The London County Council are going to extend their huge housing estate in the East. They are going to build another 10,000 houses. How on earth the people are going to get to work and back again without some scheme of this sort, I cannot imagine. I hope that the hon. Gentleman opposite and the hon. Gentleman the Member for North Southwark, who is representing the Liberal party, will withdraw their stupid opposition to these proposals, and allow the Bill to go through.
§ Mr. NAYLOR
May I first congratulate the Minister of Transport for his presence during the Debate this evening? We are glad to have him with us, and I hope he is going to give some further information as to why he has been so friendly towards this Bill. I want to refer to the remarks which were made by the hon. Member for Ilford (Sir G. Hamilton). He is very optimistic if he thinks that his constituents, who now have to travel under such unfavourable conditions morning and night, are in some miraculous manner about to have all these difficulties removed in consequence of the passing of these Bills. He tells us, as we have been told before in this House, that by passing these Bills Lord Ashfield and his company intend to build tubes where they are most needed in London, probably in the direction of the Division represented by the hon. Member for Ilford, and also in the North of London, on the other side of Finsbury Park. The hon. Member for Ilford did not give any explanation as to how this remarkable change was going to be brought about. We on this side of the House are quite willing to learn, as 1840 we have already asked for explanations as to the manner in which the capital for the tubes is to be raised as a consequence of the passing of these Bills, and can get no reply. The hon. Member for Central Wandsworth (Sir H. Jackson), when the Bill was before the House on Second Reading, also suggested that if the House would only pass these Bills, these tubes would at once be created by the newly-formed Combine.
Some two years ago Lord Ashfield was approached by certain municipalities in South London with the object of getting these tubes built in order to avoid the present scandal attaching to passenger traffic in London. Lord Ashfield said that he was quite prepared to build these tubes—he would build them in north, east, south and west—on one condition, and that one condition was, if he could get the capital necessary for the project. He could not get the capital, because he could not assure those who had capital to invest that the tubes that would be built would be sufficiently remunerative to allow that capital to make what would be regarded as a reasonable return. Now we are told by the hon. Member for Ilford, and by the hon. Member for Central Wandsworth, that all we have to do is to pass these two Bills and immediately what was impossible before, because there could be no fair market return upon the capital invested in these new tubes, is suddenly changed, and we may suppose that a great profit is about to be made. There is one explanation only how a profit can be made after the passing of these Bills, and which could not be made unless the Bills are passed. That is, that fares would be sufficiently high, not merely on the new tubes but in all the regions of transport controlled by the new Combine, and to such an extent as to make the unprofitable lines pay by the assistance of those which are already profitable. The hon. Member for West Fulham (Sir C. Cobb) made a speech to-night, which was remarkable for its brevity. Some men can say a great deal in a few words.
§ Mr. NAYLOR
We have had long speeches in this House during which not much has been said, but when I look at 1841 the clock I find I am able to say that I am under no accusation at present of having made a long speech.
§ Mr. NAYLOR
I have said more than the hon. Gentleman who has interjected. It is quite easy to interrupt a speaker and try to divert him from the subject with which he is dealing, but it is quits another matter to get up and argue the point you want to argue in the face of opposition. I would suggest to the, hon. Member that the cheap interruption he has made is unworthy of him and of those whom he represents in this House. We are dealing with a serious subject. I am treating the subject seriously myself. I do not want to detain the House too long in putting my points before hon. Members on this the last occasion upon which we shall have an opportunity. The hon. Member for Greenwich (Sir G. Hume) was once chairman of a committee of the County Council, and a deputation waited upon him and his committee. I refer to this incident in connection with the argument that the facilities given to the working men of London to travel cheaply by day and night has been prompted on the part of the County Council by consideration for the convenience of the travelling public. The hon. Member will remember that that deputation, some five or six years ago, asked for special tramway facilities in the night, for cheaper fares and facilities of transfer from one route to another. The hon. Member was extremely sympathetic towards the object of the deputation, with the result that the facilities were granted. Why? Because we were dealing with a municipality and with men who were representing the interests of the travelling public, and not with a private enterprise which was concerned not so much with the interests of the travelling public as with the question of whether or not certain services would yield a profit.
No amount of argument will convince me that it is possible to persuade such a monopoly as we are about to create, to do things solely in the interests of the travelling public. If certain things can be done later, why should they not be done now, when there is no combination with the County Council? Take the 1842 question of our tubes in the early morning and in the evening, at the peak hours. Is the convenience of the travelling public served by the arrangement made for the peak hours of traffic, morning and night? Not the slightest consideration is shown to the travelling public. Even when they do lengthen the trains and increase the service there is still such overcrowding as makes it impossible for large numbers of people to travel with any sense of comfort, or even with a sense of security.
The county council have taken this course without having any mandate from the people of London. When they went to the electors they said not a word about the secret conferences that were taking place between the leaders of the Municipal Reform Party and the leaders of the Combine. They stated their policy to the electors, but said not a word about the great betrayal of the people of London that was about to take place. Hon. Members stand in this House to-night representing the county council and suggets that they are taking this step in the interests of the people of London. Those who have taken this course will live to regret the day. They will live to acknowledge their mistake, which is another matter altogether. Those hon. Members opposite who have taken the mistaken view that this combination will be to the advantage of London will have a great disillusionment in the very near future, and when the people of London find that they have been betrayed, that the facilities promised are not there, that the inconveniences still remain, they will ask how it is that men who profess to represent the interests of the community should treat them in this way. I hope that any other hon. Members who speak in this Debate will give the explanation lacking in the speeches of other hon. Members who have supported the Bills, and will tell us how these things are going to happen simply because we allow this combination to take place.
§ Captain AUSTIN HUDSON
I will not detain the House for more than a few minutes, but I feel that those who represent London constituencies should say a word or two on the subject of these Bills. For years past London Members of Parliament, and particularly those representing constituencies to the North of London, have been agitating for better traffic 1843 facilities in their districts, and on every occasion any question connected with the London County Council tramways or the underground railways came up for consideration Members of all parties in the House inquired when new tubes to these districts could, or would, be made. Here is an opportunity to facilitate the construction of these tubes and we have the amazing spectacle of the whole Socialist party and the Liberal party doing all they can to prevent the passage of these Bills; the Socialist party merely because the tramways are not to be municipalised. They do not care whether the people of London get these facilities or not provided that the wonderful word "socialism" comes in. Why the Liberal party are opposing these Bills I cannot for the life of me understand, considering that the question of the construction of tubes is in the marvellous Yellow Book which has been produced by its leader. Their attitude is that unless these tubes are constructed under the Liberal scheme they shall not be constructed at all. We shall tell the people of our constituencies the attitude taken up by the Opposition.
I want these new tubes constructed as soon as possible. I am in the fortunate position of representing a constituency, South Hackney, which has been given a definite undertaking that a tube will be constructed, and I am ready to accept Lord Ashfield's word that he will construct a tube in that district. The hon. Member for Southwark (Mr. Naylor) and the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Gillett) asked why, if the tubes have not been built before they are to be built now. They surely cannot have read the Report of the London and Home Counties Advisory Committee in which they say:We feel convinced that no substantial improvement in the travelling facilities of Greater London can be effected until some such scheme as is outlined in this Report can he made effective.By these Bills we are trying to make the scheme effective. They must surely know that if you have traffic running as a coordinated whole in conjunction with, instead of in competition with, each other you are bound to make savings. If instead of the trams and tubes and omnibuses all running in competition with each other in the same direction you coordinate them all, you are bound to make savings, and anyone who knows anything 1844 about business at all will understand that by this means the common pool will be built up and construction started. We on this side of the House, who represent constituencies where the traffic problem is acute, believe one thing. We want to get something done at once, and, therefore, we think that these Bills should be passed and become law as soon as possible so that the construction of these improved travelling facilities which our constituents desire may be started at once.
§ Mr. MARCH
I do not want to give a silent vote, especially after the elaborate statement made to us by the hon. Member for Central Wandsworth (Sir H. Jackson). He has given us a promise that workmen's fares are to be instituted on the omnibuses. But the omnibuses cannot give those facilities in fares now, in places where there is no competition with trams. We have had some experience in this matter. As soon as the omnibuses get to the place where mid-day fares are in operation the conductors turn their boards, and then immediately they get clear of that place they turn the boards again. If that is the way they are to give workmen's fares when there is no competition with trams, I have my doubts as to the promise made to-night being carried out. They do not say anything as to the time when the workmen's fares are to begin in the morning. The London County Council has recently chopped off half an hour from the time that used to be allowed for workmen's fares in the morning. Now many of the people, mostly young men and women going to the City, have to get to their offices half or three-quarters of an hour before they are wanted, if they wish to have the benefit of workmen's fares, and that means waiting about the streets. Of course it is very nice in wet weather or frost and snow! It is all very well for the hon. Member for Central Wandsworth to laugh. The whole thing is very amusing to those who do not have to put up with this experience, but it is not very amusing to the victims, the young people just starting for work.
Then with regard to the facilities provided by the omnibus companies. The hon. Member for Ilford (Sir G. Hamilton) said that the county council are to build another 10,000 houses. The county council built a large number at Dagenham, 1845 and Becontree, but did not provide any facilities for people to get to and from their homes. They left that for the Combine. Instead of coming here for powers to run trams, after having widened the roads, they left the whole business to the Combine and to the railway company. Any hon. Member ought to travel on the London Midland and Scottish Railway from 6 o'clock to 8 o'clock in the evening and see how pleasant it is to travel down to Dagenham Dock and Rainham. It is the same thing in the morning. Now the omnibus company runs omnibuses to Rainham. The omnibuses have upset the bridge over a river on the route, and the Romford Rural Council or the Essex County Council are to widen that bridge. The omnibuses used to go round to the clock tower, to which they have their fares allocated. That took five minutes longer each way, to and fro. Now they are stopping in the new arterial road, and if people want an omnibus they have to walk from the clock tower to get the omnibus.
That is how the Combine studies the interests of the travelling public when competition is not great and the train services is not good. It is doing just what it likes with the people, and I am not in love with the way it carries on its business. It is, therefore, only right that we should try to get all possible safeguards for the convenience of passengers. I am sure that, as soon as these Bills are passed and Lord Ashfield gets control, some trams will be taken off the road. That is one of the things uppermost in his mind. As the number of trams is reduced, so the convenience of travellers is reduced. We were to have had tubes to the East End years ago. Instead, trains from Fenchurch Street to Blackwall were taken off. When we asked why, we were told, "We had to stop them during the War and we do not see how we can now put them on again. They will not pay." Is it to be wondered at that the people of East London are concerned as to what is going to happen if these services are handed over to the Combine without proper restrictions? Even though we are told that this is only an enabling Bill, I hope the County Council will remember that they have not provided all the facilities which they might have provided for the travel- 1846 ling public, and I hope they will not allow Lord Ashfield to take the whole of the traffic away from them.
§ Mr. RHYS
The speakers on the Opposition side are constantly deploring the terrible condition of affairs existing in East and North-East London in connection with transport, but apparently they are quite prepared to allow matters to remain as they are, and not allow any steps taken for the alleviation of those conditions. Oddly enough, when the Inquiry took place into this question the Report was signed by the Labour representatives as well as the other representatives. All were agreed that some sort of co-ordination was necessary, but, apparently, the quarrel is as to who is to manage the Combine when co-ordination has been reached. We cannot expect the Socialist party to approve of the principle of private enterprise, but it is difficult to understand the attitude of the Liberal party. The hon. Member for North Southwark (Mr. Strauss) said he was sorry that the county council had advocated the measure which they did advocate, but he did not say what he would have put in its place. I am sure that in what I am about to say I shall carry with me the hon. Member for Poplar (Mr. March), whom I have the honour of representing in this House.
§ Mr. RHYS
I can claim to be closely in touch with my constituents, particularly in the district which is to be most benefited by the tube which will, I hope, materialise as a result of this Measure I find that most of them are not concerned as to how the tube comes as long as it comes at all. They do not wish to travel any longer than is possible under the conditions which have been so graphically described. I may interpose this remark—that, as far as the London, Midland and Scottish Railway is concerned, we shall in the course of this year have that line doubled and electrified as far as Dagenham. I welcome this Measure as the only prospect of obtaining relief from the appalling travelling conditions existing on the East side of London.
§ Mr. W. BENNETT
As the representative of one of the eight municipal 1847 boroughs which have opposed this Bill consistently throughout, I rise to oppose it again at this stage. In our opinion these Bills ought never to have been brought before the House. They definitely place private interests before the public good. I have been challenged by the hon. Member for Wandsworth (Sir H. Jackson) and others on the question of fares. We are quite unrepentant and we are going to raise that question on every platform in both the municipal and Parliamentary elections. The promises made by the hon. Member for Wandsworth on behalf his Imperial master, are simply not worth the breath with which they have been uttered in this House. Every single thing which we have asked to be included in the agreement or in these Bills has been refused, and hon. Gentlemen opposite have wasted a magnificent opportunity. With a majority on the London County Council and in this House, it would have been easy for them to obtain for London a real and definite control over its whole traffic problem. That opportunity has been wasted. It has been used definitely to put this Combine into power. We never supposed for a moment that when this Bill was passed they would immediately raise the fares. It may be that experiments will be made in order to say to the people of London, "The private Combine has reduced your fares for a few months," but they are the first who will come forward and say to us, "What is in the bond? What is the letter of the bond? We are bound by our Act to provide a sufficient supply of money to pay the interest on the whole of the shares of all the component companies."
There is only one thing that this job reminds me of, and that is the old story I used to read in my youth of Sinbad the sailor. Sinbad, like the people of London, had a traffic problem. I believe he had to cross a stream at one time, and he was asked to give assistance to an old man of the sea, who came along and wanted a trip with him. He gave him a lift across the river, and the consequence was that the old man of the sea—I do not know whether or not he came from America—was for ever implanted on the neck of Sinbad, with both his legs round his neck. We have 1848 tried one Amendment after another to get free of the grip of this great Combine on the citizens of London, but we have been denied by this House. I believe that Sinbad finally got rid of his old man of the sea when he had taken a drop too much of some special brew of "Sinbad's own," and he placed his head on one large stone and cracked it with another stone. I fancy that will be the vote of the citizens of London on the London County Council and on this House as a result of this business.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I should like to have heard from the Minister of Transport what the Government have to say on this subject, as they have been discreetly silent all the way through. I also wanted to ask whether it was not a fact that these Bills are going through with the London County Council not free to make new arrangements. The county council has already negotiated with the Combine and with other interests, and, therefore, it is monstrous for the hon. Member for Fulham, West (Sir C. Cobb) to tell us what the county council can or cannot do, when he knows as well as I do that all that has been settled, because neither the Combine nor the council would go to the expense of asking for an enabling Bill unless they had first settled what that Bill would enable them to do.
The next point is that the hon. Member for Romford (Mr. Rhys) knows very well that three years ago we were promised by the London, Midland, and Scottish Railway—and this is why we take no stock of the promises as to the tubes we are going to get—through one of their representatives here, that their connection from Broad Street right away down to Southend should be electrified very soon. They said there was no need to build a new tube or a railway, as the railway was there, and it only wanted to be electrified. The hon. Member's constituents know that—
§ Mr. LANSBURY
It has taken them nearly three years to do it, and we were 1849 going to get it done immediately. By the time that job is finished, we shall have waited about five years. [Interruption.] I am making my statement, and some of us will be in the next Parliament and will be able to tell one another who was the right prophet. I got up mainly to say this. We are continually told by hon. Gentlemen that now that there is a chance of getting something done, we are objecting to it. The reason that we are objecting is because the Combine is to be given the control of a municipally-owned undertaking, and is to have the credit of a municipality behind its finance or nothing at all, and we object to that. I can understand why the right hon. Gentleman has not spoken to-night. He is a great advocate of anti-Socialism and of private enterprise. This Bill is private enterprise plus the elimination of competition, which the right hon. Gentleman has always told us is the salt of life. In this Bill you are going to
§ eliminate private enterprise from the point of view of competitive industry, and give; a great combination a monopoly. We say that if there is to be a big monopoly, the only people who ought to have it are the people themselves, and there ought never to be a privately-owned monopoly in any country. That is why we object to this. When hon. Members say what their constituents are thinking, I beg to tell them that when 30th May comes, they will have a rude awakening. That is why we have no fear whatever about what the people of London will think when they come to realise that you are giving away their property to an American concern, to be controlled in the interests of a concern dominated not by British money, but by American money.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 145; Noes, 54.1851
|Division No. 296.]||AYES.||[10.43 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte. Lieut.-Colonel||Ford, Sir P. J.||Mason, Colonel Glyn K.|
|Albery, Irving James||Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Ganzonl, Sir John||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Moreing, Captain A. H.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Gower, Sir Robert||Neville, Sir Reginald J.|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Greene, W. P. Crawford||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)|
|Bevan, S. J.||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Pennefather, Sir John|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Penny, Frederick George|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Hamilton, Sir George||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Hammersley, S. S.||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome).|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Hanbury, C.||Phillpson, Mabel|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Harland, A.||Pilcher, G.|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Harrison, G. J. C.||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Campbell, E. T.||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Price, Major C. W. M.|
|Cassels, J. D.||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Raine, Sir Walter|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Henderson, Lieut.-Col Sir Vivian||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Remer, J. R.|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Herbert, S. (York, N. R., Scar. & Wh'by)||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Clayton, G. C.||Hills, Major John Waller||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell|
|Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Ross, R. D.|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k. Nun.)||Rye, F. G.|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney).|
|Cope, Major Sir William||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Sandeman, N. Stewart|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Hume, Sir G. H.||Sanders, Sir Robert A.|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Sandon, Lord|
|Craig, Sir Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Iliffe, Sir Edward M.||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. McI. (Renfrew, W.)|
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Smithers, Waldron|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)||King, Commodore Henry Douglas||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraserr|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Lamb, J. Q.||Tasker, R. Inigo.|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Templeton, W. P.|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handtw'th)||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Dixey, A. C.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere||Thomson, Sir Frederick|
|Edmondson. Major A. J.||MacIntyre, Ian||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Elliot, Major Walter E.||McLean, Major A.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||MacRobert, Alexander M.||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Fanshawe, Captain G. D.||Margesson, Captain D.||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Fielden, E. B.||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Warrender, Sir Victor||Womersley, W. J.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Watts, Sir Thomas||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.||Sir Henry Jackson and Sir Cyril Cobb.|
|Wells, S. R.||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (Norwich)|
|Withers, John James|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Dunnico, H.||Ponsonby, Arthur|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Potts, John S.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Griffith, F. Kingsley||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Amman, Charles George||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Hardie, George D.||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Barr, J.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Batey, Joseph||Kelly, W. T.||Shield, G. W.|
|Bellamy, A.||Lansbury, George||Smith, Rennie (Pentstone)|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Lawrence, Susan||Snell, Harry|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Lawson, John James||Strauss, E. A.|
|Broad, F. A.||March, S.||Sullivan, Joseph|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Taylor, R. A.|
|Buchanan, G.||Naylor, T. E.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Owen, Major G.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Palin, John Henry||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Connolly, M.||Paling, W.|
|Day, Harry||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Duncan, C.||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Mr. Scurr and Mr. Gillett.|
Bill read the Third time, and passed.