§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
§ Mr. GLASSEY
I beg to move, to leave out the word "now" and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."
I feel that I really ought to apologise to the House for taking up its time in the discussion of a Private Bill, but I can honestly claim that, in so doing, I speak in the name of the general public in opposing the proposals of this Bill. 1010 Disinterested public opinion speaks with one united voice with regard to the proposals of the Bill, and that voice is an uncompromising opposition to its proposals. I have received innumerable communications by post, by telegraph, and by telephone. Scores of people have spoken to me personally. I have received resolutions from public bodies. I have received petitions from local authorities, and there reached me the other day a public petition which, unfortunately, was out of order and could not be presented to this House, but that petition was signed in all good faith by the petitioners and contained in all nearly 2,000 names. Among all these communications, whether written or spoken, there was not one single word expressed in favour of the scheme. There has been considerable correspondence in the "Times" with regard to the proposals. Out of some 20 letters which have appeared only four were in favour of the scheme. When I tell the House that two of those were written by the company promoting the Bill, another one by a shareholder in that company, and another one by a firm of estate agents, it will be able to place its own estimate on their value.
In addition to all these, petitions have been presented against this Bill by all the local authorities: petitions by the Dorset County Council, by the Poole Borough Council, by the Poole Harbour Board Commissioners, by the ferrymen who have been plying there for a very large number of years and who, if this Bill were passed, would lose entirely their means of livelihood, and by several other bodies, and by several private individuals. I have received resolutions against the Bill from the local branch of the National Citizens Union, from the Dorset Law Association, and from the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society, while the Council for the Preservation of Rural England is strongly opposed to the scheme. Ratepayers have petitioned their borough councils to oppose it, and the public petition to which I have already referred was signed by all sorts and conditions of people.
It has been suggested that it is simply the opposition raised by a few idle rich. I would like to tell the House that these people have not been as idle as the promoters of the Bill would have liked them 1011 to be, nor are they as rich as they themselves would like to be. But strong as this opposition may appear it would have been stronger but for the skilful secrecy which has been observed in the promotion of the Bill. With regard to that matter, may I mention one fact. The Parliamentary notices with reference to this Bill were not inserted in the local Press, but in a small paper with a very small circulation published at Weymouth, and with virtually no circulation whatever east of Dorchester. It was only by a matter of chance that any of the local residents happened to see the Parliamentary notices at all. That is typical, and I say this advisedly, of the unremitting spirit of wangle and subterfuge which has characterised the operations of this company ever since they came upon the scene. It is just as well to know the manner of men with whom one is dealing. Ever since they came upon the scene there has been trouble. They have tried to secure the ferries, and dispossess the ferrymen of their rights. They have pursued these men with costly litigation, and now an appeal has been lodged and the case is waiting for trial in another place. I want the House to observe that, if this Bill is passed, that appeal will be unnecessary, because this Bill abolishes the ferrymen altogether. I have tried to indicate something of the nature of the opposition. May I pass on to enlighten the House as to what is exactly proposed and describe in a few words the scene of the operations and to enumerate the points of the objection?
§ Mr. GLASSEY
I am going to say a little about that, because the title of the company and of the Bill itself is a misnomer. The bridge which is proposed is neither in Bournemouth nor in Swanage. I know that there are a great many people who come to Bournemouth and spend their time in Poole and go away and tell the world what a wonderful place Bournemouth is. I am not denying the wonders of Bournemouth, but I am venturing 1012 to stand up a little for the beauties and rights of Poole. This bridge is to be built in Poole, and then fore you find this strong opposition from all the local authorities in Poole, and fro m the Dorset County Council. I want to mention this in order to make it clear to the House as to where the bridge is to be built.
May I ask the House to accompany me in thought—I cannot do more than that—to the scene of the operations, and that is to Poole Harbour, one of the most beautiful sheets of water in the country, a magnificent land-locked harbour dotted with islands of infinite variety and suggesting wonderful romance. It is fringed by a shore unique for the most part in its unspoilt beauty. It is a favourite rendezvous for yachts, and it is the scene of a brisk coast-wise and Continental trade. This landlocked harbour is approached by a narrow channel some 600 feet wide. That is the only entrance to the harbour. It is important to know that, because it is across that narrow entrance that this company propose to throw this hideous monster of steel and concrete. At the far end of the harbour is Poole Quay. I want to mention that fact, because one correspondent seems quite unable to differentiate in his mind between "Quay" and "Harbour," in describing the quay, which nobody claims as being beautiful, though it is rich in interest, and, if I may use the word again, romance, with bold buccaneers and stealthy smugglers contributing to its interest. The quay may not be a place of beauty, but the harbour most decidedly is. That quay is the scene of busy activity, for I am very glad to say that, perhaps differing from other ports, the trade of Poole has shown a marked increase during the last year. Across that bottle-neck of the harbour some 600 feet wide, which is bordered on the east by a narrow spit of sand, known as the sandbank, well developed—some people say a little over-developed—and on the western side by low-lying ground with sandy beach and dunes, with a stretch of marshland where wild fowl breed, and beyond that heathland rising in its furtherest extreme to the glorious heights of the Purbeck Hills, there is a chain ferry operated by this same company. It is proposed to substitute for that chain ferry this steel bridge at a cost of 1013 £200,000 to the hindrance of shipping and to the disfigurement of the landscape.
As to what manner of bridge is suggested, I am not going into technical details, and I am not going to give a long list of measurements. I want you to remember that the entrance to that harbour is not guarded by beetling cliffs across which a suspension bridge could be thrown of the nature of Clifton Suspension Bridge or the Menai Suspension Bridge. There is nothing of that kind. Those who build this bridge have to build their own cliffs, and in order that shipping may pass under it, this bridge is to be built at a height of 120 feet above high-water level. I want hon. Members to imagine what a bridge of that height in a low-lying land is going to look like as the forefront of a glorious landscape at the entrance to this wonderful harbour. To reach that height from the land side, massive sleeves have to be constructed. On the sandbank side, property has to be demolished and a steel, concrete corkscrew sort of erection is to be raised, carrying vehicles to this height of the bridge. On the other side, a long sleeve of some 170 feet in length is to be constructed, leading vehicles again to the main height of the bridge. It is to be a fixed steel cantilever bridge at a height of 120 feet above high-water mark.
It is not easy to find words to describe the hideousness of that erection on a spot famed for its beauty and to which people come for the sake of its beauty alone. Destroy the beauty, and people will no longer desire to visit this place. We object to the bridge on aesthetic grounds. I know that there are a number of people who think that everything must be utilitarian and that no landscape is sufficiently beautiful to exclude such monsters as this bridge, but I would remind the House that nothing is beautiful that is not also useful, and that nothing is useful that is not also beautiful. People go to this place because it is different from anywhere else. There is talk about development and about covering these glorious heathlands and these magnificent Purback hills with bungalows. That itself would be a crime. Is it not possible for man to regard any glorious scenery, any beautiful landscape, without wanting to disfigure it with the depredations of the jerry builder?
1014 We oppose this bridge because it is not needed. It is not a vital connecting link of any great main road. The road that runs there is no great arterial road, carrying trade from east to west or from west to east. It is not that the district beyond is inaccessible. There are roads in plenty, roads of beauty, roads of good surface interesting roads. The volume of trade traffic that passes that way is trifling and need not be considered. Heavy traffic passes round by other roads for the simple reason that a heavy toll is charged to all using the present ferry, and that some toll is to be continued for the using of the bridge. As an example of the toll that is charged, I would point out that a motor car with three persons has to pay a toll of 4s. 3d. return, while a char-a-banc with not more than 15 seats pays 7s. return, and with more than 15 seats 8s. 9d. return. Is it any wonder that these pleasure vehicles, which might save a little time by going that way, prefer to go a little further round and save a considerable sum of money? The bridge is not needed, because there are other roads. It is not needed for a great pleasure route, because Sandbanks has been developed for health purposes and not for the purposes of heavy traffic.
We oppose the bridge because it would hinder shipping. I am not an expert in regard to shipping, but I have consulted experts and they assure me that yachts, especially when coming out of the narrow entrance such as exists in Poole Harbour, with a strong current flowing, need all the room they can possibly get to make the journey in safety. If you erect massive piers, such as must be erected to support this bridge, you are bound to cause erosion somewhere else, and destroy the foreshore in another place. The bridge will undoubtedly hinder shipping, and Poole depends to a very large extent and to an increasing extent on its seaborne traffic. We object to the bridge because it would depreciate the value of property that is already developed. There is talk of developing property, but what sense is there in developing property at the expense of other property? I am not given to defending vehemently the rights of private individuals of the idle rich type, such as have been mentioned, but surely when a man has developed his property for the peculiar reasons of the view and the 1015 unique nature of the situation, he has some right to be regarded in this respect.
There is a large hotel situated at the end of the Peninsula. What is likely to be the facts of that hotel, with this massive bridge built almost outside its bedroom windows. There is Brownsea Island, the habitation of which goes back to time immemorial, with a fine estate there employing a large number of people. I have received a wire from the owner of that property to say that if this great ugly monster is erected, the whole charm of the situation will have vanished and she will shut up shop and clear out. It is not so much the fact of the owner going but the fact that the owner going means that the employment of the people on the island goes. We object to the bridge because it would ruin the pleasure ground of the people. There is a glorious beach on the other side, along which one can ramble for miles. These sand dunes have given infinite delight to the people of the neighbourhood, and the erection of a bridge there, abutting on this pleasure ground, would spell ruin to the happiness of these people.
We object to the Bill also because we are assured on expert advice that it cannot be built for the price that is named. What we have in mind is the feeling that we do not want to see materials dumped down on this beauty spot, the construction of the bridge begun and then some unforeseen difficulty arising, as well it may in such an operation, and the whole thing abandoned—a hideous scar left, and no one a whit the better but everyone a great deal the worse for the experiment. We object to the bridge because it robs the ferrymen of their livelihood. These ferrymen employ a considerable number of hands. They have served the public and the public are grateful to them for their services. Strong public opinion has been aroused over the persecution of these ferrymen, and for the sake of the ferrymen we object to the erection of the bridge. We object to it because of the heavy toll to be imposed upon all using the bridge. We object to it because we can see un-safety in the using of it. I am not suggesting that the bridge may itself fall down, although public opinion is so strong that they would gladly place the promoting company and the shareholders 1016 on the bridge, and then watch it meet the fate of the Bridge of San Luis Rey. Imagine a bridge of that height, with a gale blowing. What is the crossing of that bridge going to be like in those circumstances? I have heard it said by one resident that he would not send his omnibuses over it in a gale of wind such as is often experienced at Sandbanks.
We have been told that this scheme is a means of relieving unemployment. No one questions for one moment that in the erection of the bridge a large number of men would be engaged, both in the manufacture of the steel and in the erection of the bridge, but these men might be employed still longer if after the bridge had been built they were Kept there to pull it down again. The latter operation would be far more useful than the first. One welcomes every rational scheme to relieve unemployment, and one would fight hard to see such schemes put into operation, but there is a price that is too high to be paid even for the relief of unemployment, and that is to put the unemployed to work on schemes of madness and folly for things that are not needed and that would, by the very carrying out of such schemes, create unemployment of another type. If you hinder shipping, you create unemployment. If you abolish the ferrymen, you create unemployment. If you make Sandbanks too hideous for residential purposes, you create empty houses and you empty the hotel, where waiters and other servants are engaged. You rob the traders of Poole of large custom. All these things would create unemployment which would be more lasting unemployment than the employment that would be created by the building of the bridge.
We have been told in correspondence in the newspapers in regard to the bridge that large development of land is to follow in its train. Where is this development to take place, when is it to take place, and by whom? That development could already proceed if the owner gave consent. The bridge is not necessary to create any development. That development is held up for entirely different purposes. The owner refuses sanction. If land is to be developed, then against what is the owner of that property petitioning? One of the petitions against the Bill is presented by him. This statement about developing land is only a ruse to win the sympathy 1017 of those who have hitherto opposed the Bill. The company cannot proceed to any development of land; they claim no such thing for the Bill, and they cannot do it themselves. We are told in the Preamble of the Bill:Whereas the construction of the bridge is calculated to promote employment and an application has been made to the Treasury under the provisions of the Development (Loan Guarantees and Grants) Act, 1929, for a grant of money or guarantee of interest on moneys to be raised and applied for the purposes of the capital expenditure to be incurred under this Act.Public money is to be applied for. What welcome that application will receive, I do not know and I cannot say, but I want the House to observe that public money is to be applied for by this company to impose this stranglehold on the sea route of Poole; public money to be granted to this company to impose a tax and a toll upon the public using that same bridge. I want, in conclusion, to appeal to the House in the names of those bands of happy children who, in the summer time, frequent these shores in large numbers. This company claims to be a benefactor to the people, but I want to say to the House that it is not-acting as a benefactor but as a robber of their rights, privileges and pleasures. I want to appeal to the House in the names of those who, tired of bricks and mortar and modern developments, tramp these heathlands and seek the quiet of these sequestered places and villages of the Purbecks, and find health and refreshment for their bodies. I appeal to the House in the names of the fishermen of Poole, who in the summer time man the yachts that frequent the harbour. I appeal in the names of the traders of the town and in the names of all lovers of nature, that the House should reject this Bill and save this piece of England, this lovely land for the people who have found their delight in it.
§ Major LLEWELLIN
I beg to second the Amendment.
I do so in a completely disinterested capacity, although my home happens to be upon the roundabout road to Swanage. I second the Amendment because I know that the vast majority of the residents, if not all of them, look upon this scheme with a great amount of disfavour and would wish the Bill to be rejected by the House. In this House, as in the country, 1018 more and more people are now concerned to see that our rural amenities and the beauty of the countryside are not destroyed by unsightly structures. The bridge which is to be erected is to be 120 feet high, and the promoters are to be allowed to erect it another 20 feet-higher if they wish. We are to have a bridge of 140 feet high in this completely beautiful spot; that is 40 feet higher than the cliffs at Bournemouth, and those who know this part of the world will have some idea what it is going to look like.
The Sandbanks area has been scheduled under the town planning scheme of Poole, but there are provisions in this Bill which allow the promoters to do things which are contrary to the town planning scheme of the authority. They can do anything they like with any material they get from the foundations of this bridge. This is a high class residential area, and on the opposite side of the water there is this beautiful spot which is enjoyed by every kind of person whether rich or poor. They can go across freely and at will and enjoy themselves on the opposite shore of the harbour. This bridge is going to turn a place which has been a restful resort for a large number of people into a big traffic road for the benefit of people who can afford to go by car or charabanc; it will spoil this delightful spot. I submit that this House should not allow this big traffic road to be made through this beautiful area.
Clause 31 gives a. complete ferry monopoly right to the company promoting the Bill. They thought they had secured this right in their Act of 1923, when they got powers to run a ferry. Quite a number of small men for years have ferried people across to Shell Bay on the opposite side to Sandbanks, and built up a business employing quite a number of men. They started with ordinary rowing boats but now they have a number of motor boats in which people can go cheaply from one side of the harbour to the other. In 1927 this company, who thought they had secured complete monopoly rights brought an action against a boatman called Harvey to restrain him from exercising rights which he had exercised for years past. They failed before the court of first instance. It was taken to the Court of Appeal, and they failed again; and now an appeal is pending by this rich 1019 company against the poor man to the highest tribunal in this land. If the House passes this Bill and it becomes law the effect of these decisions will be swept away and these small men will be deprived entirely of their livelihood. The men they employ will also be deprived of their livelihood.
What happened next in the legal line? Next thing they more or less forced the owner to take down a landing stage so that they could not run people across to any kind of landing stage, and, although in the Act of 1923 the rights of the neighbourhood in a right of way, which had always existed, were carefully preserved—the promoting company undertaking to preserve them—after the decision of the case they put up barbed wire to stop people getting back on to that right of way, and at the present moment there is a writ issued against this company on behalf of the Poole Corporation to restrain them from infringing on a public right. These are the people who are asking this House by this Measure to completely annul these ferry rights and allow them to do what they like in this place. The case of the Poole Corporation against the company is being held up until the fate of this Measure is scaled. In my view, they are not the sort of people who should be entrusted by this House with the vast powers they are asking in this Bill.
Then with regard to shipping. From almost time immemorial Poole has been a great shipping port. Indeed, in the days of the Armada it sent more ships to fight the Spanish invaders than any other small town, and for that reason the Mayor of Poole is an hereditary Admiral of the Fleet to this day. Shipping has always been one of the basic industries of Poole. To-day it consists of merchant shipping, which brings in timber and takes out clay and other commodities, and the yachting industry. The harbour itself is very difficult to get into when the tide is running strongly. If hon. Members walked around the harbour and around every little bay in it they would cover 96 miles. That will give them some idea of its size. The tide runs very strongly through the somewhat narrow channel, and it is proposed to put piers in the middle of the channel to support and carry this bridge. The Poole Harbour 1020 Commissioners are of the opinion that these piers will substantially affect shipping, and as Poole has four tides instead of two it means that practically the tide is always running fairly strong, either in or out. In the opinion of the Poole Harbour Commissioners these piers will affect the trade coming into the port, and they have now put forward a scheme themselves—how far it has gone I do not know but perhaps the Lord Privy Seal knows—of building an additional quay with better storage facilities and also for the reclamation of some six or seven acres of mud land at a cost of about £59,000.
In their view the proposals in this Bill will obstruct traffic and limit the size of the ships coming into the port, and for that reason I ask the House to reject a Bill which in any way hampers the old-established trade of one of the lesser ports, which still does a substantial amount of trade by sea. Then there is the yachting industry. A considerable amount of trade is carried on in the making and repair of yachts and in storing them during the winter months. Employment is also brought into Poole by the people who use it as a yachting centre. An ordinary small yacht, as every hon. Member knows, has to tack in or out of a harbour if the wind is in one direction or another, and this manœuvre is made much more difficult, as anybody who has handled a yacht will know, if you have to avoid piles and piers which have been struck in the fairway of the harbour. On that ground, I ask the House to consider very carefully before they give a Second Reading to the Bill.
I come to the construction of the bridge itself. The county council and all the local bodies consider that it is unnecessary, and I shall be interested to hear whether hon. Members opposite, who were so keen on granting additional powers to municipalities on Friday last, will now give support to this Bill and say that the municipalities who are strongly against this Bill are all wrong and that this private company, this creature of private enterprise, is the one which shall be supported in this matter. The next question is, for what purpose is this bridge to be made? It is merely to take motor tourist traffic. No commercial traffic of any sort is likely to use that road. I am wondering what 1021 sort of line the Lord Privy Seal proposes to take regarding the proposal.
§ Major LLEWELLIN
I would stop if I knew exactly what the right hon. Gentleman meant by his remark. The old road goes round some 25 miles, whereas this road will be 10 miles, from Bournemouth to Swanage. Why those particular places are chosen I do not know, because a large amount of traffic goes to Swanage from other places, and those who go to Bournemouth like to spend their time in that town, as my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for that constituency will agree. The railway goes on very much the same lines as the road. The making of this short cut, if it is to be of any use, will establish strong competition with the railway company, which at present has to compete on more or less equal terms only with the road traffic. The proposed road is a badly designed road and does not comply with the standard specification for main roads as laid down by the Ministry of Transport. The hon. Member who spoke last said something about the spiral approach. It will be rather like the towers down which children slide on carpets at local fairs. On a skiddy day cars and other vehicles using the road will get down that spiral in much the same way.
What is wanted, and what will meet all the requirements, is for the company controlling the ferry to provide more up-to-date boats and to make the crossing more speedy. That would provide just about as much employment as the making of the bridge. The House should realise that if the Bill is passed this bridge will be a toll bridge for all time, and, as toll bridges go, it will charge an excessive rate for any vehicles which may cross it. By the Act of 1923 the road on the other side was to be vested in the county council after a period of 65 years. There is no provision in this Bill for vesting this bridge in any authority at any date. Let me turn next to the question of unemployment. I understand that the Bill is being helped forward by the Government.
§ Mr. THOMAS
The Government have expressed no views on the subject, and 1022 the hon. and gallant Gentleman has no right to say that at all.
§ Major LLEWELLIN
I am sorry, and I withdraw the remark. I did not appreciate what position the right hon. Gentleman was going to take; I was going on the fact that the Bill was a certified Bill. A certain amount of work, of course, would be given in erecting the bridge and in providing the steel, and such work would be welcome. But there are other works in the district which might well be carried through and would be of great benefit. In the opinion of all the representative authorities in the area and of a vast number of people who have spoken about it, the bridge will be a complete eye-sore. It might be a failure, and then it would be left derelict, and would detract people from the district. The result of the building of the bridge would be to hinder the facilities of the port, to decrease employment in that way, and quite clearly it would take away the employment of a large number of people who now work either on the ferry or other boats that cut across that bit of water.
§ Mr. THOMAS
I do not wish to occupy more than a few moments, because a much more important Bill is waiting to be discussed. I have been in the House for more than 20 years, but I cannot remember such carefully prepared, magnificently delivered and sustained eloquence for such a lot of little causes. There seems to be considerable misunderstanding because of the certificate bearing my name. That certification is merely to show that work will be provided. It does not mean, and is never intended to mean, unless expressly stated, that the Government give any support. With regard to the application before the Committee, again we have no right in this House to prejudice any such application and, therefore, it is not for me to say anything on that side of the question. But as far as the Government's views are concerned, we offer no advice to the House. When there is a conflict between two interests, unless there is an overwhelming case for one against the other, it is the duty of the Government to remain neutral, and in this case we leave the matter entirely to the judgment of the House.
There is no element of doubt about the opposition to the Bill. There is no doubt about the tremendous feeling which has been aroused, and one advantage of this 1023 Debate is that as a result of it I am quite sure the constituents of the hon. Member who moved the rejection of the Bill will feel a deep debt of gratitude to him for all time. When they see new faces coming to Dorset they will say, "That is the result of our Member's eloquence." I can understand, on the other hand, that those people who read the speech of the Seconder of the Motion for the rejection of the Bill will say to each other, "We did not know the real importance of Poole before. In fact, if the mayor is an admiral, we will try to do something to have him made a general as well." But I ask the House to keep clearly in mind the fact that this is not a big scheme; that it is certified merely on the ground that it does provide work, and that there is strong objection to it. I say nothing about the grant, because that would be unfair. The Committee would have to consider that on its merits if the Bill gets a Second Reading, but, as far as I am concerned, if the matter goes to a Division, I shall go with those who oppose the Bill.
§ Mr. ATKINSON
The House will remember that these private Bills, when given a Second Reading, go to a Committee whose business it is to inquire into questions of fact, such as have been raised this evening. Evidence is called upon them, and both sides have an opportunity of being heard before that Committee. I think the House will agree that in the case of this Bill no question of principle is involved. No question arises here of the kind which we usually discuss when a private Bill is objected to on Second Reading. All the objections which have been raised relate to questions of fact, which can be determined far better by a Committee than by this House. After all, the House can only act on ex parte statements without any knowledge as to how far those statements are justified. There has been a great deal of abuse of this company, but let us see what we know about it. This company received statutory powers in 1923 to construct a road from Bournemouth to Swanage, or rather to construct a considerable part of such a road. There was at that time a winding road 20 miles in length connecting these two places, whereas if a coast road were made crossing this harbour, it would shorten the 1024 distance to 10 miles. This road was welcome at the time. At any rate, any opposition there was to it was not effective, and the road was made at great expense. I think some £100,000 was spent upon it.
The road is there; it has been a benefit to those using it and it has been very much more popular than anybody anticipated. In the last two years 500,000 people, and between 100,000 and 200,000 vehicles have used it. But when the vehicles and the people who have been invited to use this road, reach the water they find there is one single chain ferry boat to convey them across, and one may see as many as 30 or 40 cars hung up at this point and compelled to wait for considerable periods while this ferry boat plies slowly backwards and forwards taking about a dozen at a time. If a road is put down at this great expense, and the public are invited to use it, there is a duty to the public to make it effective for the whole of its length. People should not be compelled either to wait for an hour or two, or to go a long way round. So, the company which is being abused has been welcome there, at any rate up to now. They have done a work which has been of great value to Bournemouth and Swanage, and the use of the road is not limited to private motor cars. There is considerable commercial user of the road and one can imagine the loss of commercial time involved when vehicles conveying goods are delayed in the way I have described.
It has been suggested that the remedy is to supply more boats. One of the matters recited in the Preamble to the Bill is that there is no power to have a second ferry boat without the consent of the Poole Harbour Commissioners and that that consent was applied for and refused on the ground that a second vessel would be detrimental to the traffic in the harbour. Even the one ferry vessel has been found to interfere with the traffic in the harbour. Where you have a policy of that sort—I was going to say a dog in the manger policy of that sort—on the part of the Poole Harbour Commissioners, declining to have a second boat so that the ferry could be made more effective, I do not think that it rests with them to throw all this mud at the scheme of a bridge which would enable the harbour to be crossed without difficulty.
1025 The next question—which is absolutely a question of fact—is that of hindrance to shipping. My information is that the suggestion that shipping or yachting will be interfered with is unfounded. I cannot tell the House which statement is true, and nobody else can. That is one of the matters which a Committee would inquire into, and on which after hearing evidence and cross-examining witnesses, it would give a decision, but it is quite impossible for the House to decide a question of that sort. All I can say is that I am informed by people who are in a position to know—they may be right or they may be wrong—that there would be no interference whatever with shipping or yachting. Let it be remembered that plans have to be passed by the Committee; the Committee have to be satisfied that the statements in the Preamble are well-founded, and one of those statements is that it is expedient that a bridge should be constructed. All these matters of expediency as I say, are inquired into and determined by the Committee on evidence. To show how far people who are prejudiced against this scheme will go, we have heard the expressions about a "hideous and monstrous iron and concrete structure." Nobody knows whether it will be hideous or not. Nobody can tell even whether it will be concrete. The plans will have to be submitted and passed and one of the matters taken into consideration by the Committee will be the attractiveness of the bridge itself.
To say that a bridge is necessarily an eyesore, is untrue, as anybody familiar with the Menai Straits will recognise at once. There is a beautiful bridge across those Straits, and I am sure we can all think of bridges which, so far from detracting from the beauty of the scenery, have added to it. Then we get this talk about the marvellous downs and sand dunes in this neighbourhood. But how is the scheme going to affect them? The road is already there and the bridge which is going to cross the harbour will not interfere with the beautiful country around, except that it will enable more people to enjoy it. If anything interfered with the sand dunes and the beauty of the scenery and the privacy of the neighbourhood, it would be the road itself, not the bridge. It was the road that opened up the neighbourhood. The 1026 bridge will save people hanging about an hour or two before crossing the river. In bad weather you cannot use the ferry, and you have to give up all hope of crossing at all. That is surely an enormous inconvenience to people who are induced to go down this road supposing there is a way through, and then, when they get there, because there is half a gale blowing, find that the ferry boat cannot work. Again, the ferry boat does not work at night, and the provision is very inadequate altogether.
The next point that was made against the Bill was the interference with the ferrymen. New schemes always interfere with somebody, but you might just as well say that you must not put bridges across the Thames, because if they were not there you might have some ferrymen doing work of that kind. You cannot hold up a big scheme of this kind merely because it might interfere with a few fishermen who are conducting some ferry work there. After all, people who do not like the bridge and who do not like to pay the tolls can still use the ferries if they are cheaper, and can go round the old way at no charge to themselves. It is no use complaining of toils if it is purely optional whether you go that way or not. There is still the old 25-miles road, and there are still ferrymen to take them across more cheaply if they desire.
Here is a project which is certainly going to mean work for a number of unemployed. Some £200,000 has been spent upon it, and there is no objection in principle to it whatever. It is to make more effective a road upon which a great deal of money has already been spent, and which has become of very great utility to the public, but the great advantage of it is destroyed by this hold-up in the middle. The Harbour Commissioners have declined to let it be made more effective by agreeing to there being a second ferry boat across the water. All these objections which have been urged, the interference with shipping and the like, are purely questions of fact, with which this House cannot deal and for the purpose of dealing with which this Committee procedure of ours exists. They are matters of fact into which the Committee ought to inquire, and the House ought not to be asked to reject the scheme, which can only bring work to a number of unemployed and which will be 1027 of great public utility, on the strength of a number of exaggerated allegations, the truth of which the House has no opportunity of testing. I urge the House to give the Bill a Second Reading. If its opponents are right, the Committee may throw out the Bill, and if they are wrong, and the weight of evidence is against them, the Bill will be passed, and it will only be because it is expedient that the scheme should be approved.
§ Brigadier-General Sir HENRY CROFT
I want to explain why I am not going to cast a vote in regard to this Bill, which rather intimately affects the borough which I have the honour to represent. I understand that, if this bridge is built, it will take something off the property of a relative of mine, and, although that may not be a question of private interest, it might be one for partial affection, and I felt that, whether it is to the advantage or disadvantage of that relative, I should not cast my vote. It is only right, however, to say that there are persons in the locality of Bournemouth who hold the opposite view from that which has been put forward this evening against the Bill, and I hope for that reason that the House will allow the Bill to have a Second Reading, in order that these really debatable points may be considered in Committee, and I think we may trust a Committee of this House to come to a wise decision.
§ Mr. J. BAKER
I want to support the appeal that this Bill should have a Second Reading, so that the arguments which have been adduced can be examined. We have not time here and now to examine them. I could not help but think, when listening to the speech of the hon. Member who moved the rejection of the Bill, how lacking in imagination I am. I have seen this area, and the things he described as lakes appeared to me to be mudbanks. We call thorn "slems" in the North of England. I do not know whether it gives hon. Members any idea of the sliminess of the foreshore of the area described in the beautiful language we have heard to-night, but that is what I felt about it when I saw that particular place. The hon. Member did right to appeal to the archaeological part of our nature, because when I saw that ferry I made an ejaculation which I think it would be out of order to repeat here. When I came South, I learned a new word, and that 1028 was "amenities." I never met it in the North.
When I saw that this Bill was coming on, I thought, "Here is a chance of getting some work for steelworkers." The hon. Member with a brilliant imagination knows what will happen to his arguments if they are placed before a Committee, and, therefore, he is afraid of this Bill going before a Committee. Why should not this area be developed? Why should they have all these reservations to themselves down there? Why should a handful of people have all the beauty described by the hon. Member who moved the rejection of the Bill, when we have men in the North who are wanting work and men in the South who are willing to provide that work? In war time these people of Poole were jolly glad to have the aid of our steelworkers to provide munitions to protect them and their harbour. Now our steelworkers are idle. There is 40 per cent. of our plant idle, and there are 20 per cent. of our men idle, and when there is work going to be provided for those men, the strongest argument that can be used to-night is "amenities." That was all right for 100 years ago, but it is not right now, and if this Bill goes to a Division to-night, I shall vote that the word "now" stand part of the Question.
§ Sir MARTIN CONWAY
I do not wish to say more than a few words, which are rather provoked by the remarks of the hon. Member for Bilston (Mr. J. Baker), who has just sat down. He said that amenities were all very well for 100 years ago, but that to-day it does not matter what the conditions are, but he will vote any amount of money for making steel—that if you have any purpose, good, bad, or indifferent, which will employ steel, you have to use it for the sake of diminishing unemployment. Nobody is more anxious than I am to diminish unemployment, but you have to consider all sides of every question. You cannot say that a proposition is necessarily good because it would employ many tons of steel. You have to consider the interests of the whole country and from every point of view. Among the greatest assets of this country are its amenities, its beauties—the beauties of its scenery, of its buildings, and of its sites. Here you have a small portion of this beautiful country of ours, which is very lovely indeed. The hon. Member for Bilston 1029 asked what right a small number of people had to keep to themselves a beautiful piece of land? Why should it not be opened up, and built over with a bungaloid encrustment? The reason is that if you open up a piece of land for development, you necessarily, at the present day, spoil its beauty. Our builders have not discovered how to combine the building of a number of bungalows with the maintenance of beauty. We have only to travel through this country to find everywhere the same horrible outburst of bungaloid encrustments. If you find a beautiful piece of country which has been preserved for generations in the past, and which has been loved by the people of a district, not to say the people of the country, somebody comes along and brings a proposal to do something which is called opening up for development. It is because this bridge proposes to open up for development a beautiful piece of country in the neighbourhood of Studland, which will be ruined once the speculative builder has got hold of it, that I desire to oppose this Bill.
§ Sir W. LANE MITCHELL
I happened to be at Bournemouth this weekend, and I went to see this wonderful place. Poole Harbour is all right when the tide is in, but when the tide is out, there is a great deal of mud, and bad mud at that.
§ Sir W. LANE MITCHELL
I also went to Studland this morning, and I found five people in favour of the bridge to one against. What is behind all this? The reason for it is that the ferry is
§ not able to carry the traffic. That is all. If Poole Harbour would give an additional ferry, there would be no need to build the bridge. The bridge will be a considerable advantage to the locality. There is talk about Sandbanks being-desecrated by omnibuses coming along, but there is a service of three omnibuses going along there every hour. One omnibus goes over the ferry to Swanage, and I went over it this morning. On Saturday, I saw a load of wood come over the ferry. I hope hon. Gentlemen will realise that human beings are more important than even amenities. Why should not people be allowed to go over there? Hon. Members speak about the bridge stopping children getting across the Shell Bay. That is rubbish, for it will not affect them a little bit, because the road is there now, and where the ferry is the bridge is going to be built, so that there will be no alteration in that respect. I hope that the House will have some common sense, and say that a bridge can be beautiful. The Forth Bridge is an example, and another has been built over Sydney Harbour, the finest harbour in the world. A sum of £5,000,000 has been spent there on one of these steel erections, and yet hon. Members call it a monstrosity because a little place like Poole wants to get a bridge across their barbour. I hope that the House will come down to common sense. The special pleading for the amenities of the privileged classes has got to cease, and this bridge has got to be built.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 120; Noes, 155.1031
|Division No. 167.]||AYES.||[8.52 p.m.|
|Adamson, w. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Daggar, George||Horrabin, J. F.|
|Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigle M.||Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Jones, Sir G. W. K. (Stoke New'gton)|
|Arnott, John||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)|
|Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Dickson, T.||Kinley, J.|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Dukes, C.||Knight, Holford|
|Batey, Joseph||Duncan, Charles||Lathan, G.|
|Bellamy, Albert||Ede, James Chuter||Law, A. (Rosendale)|
|Bennett, Captain E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||Edmunds, J. E.||Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)|
|Bentham, Dr. Ethel||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Lloyd, C. Ellis|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Edwards, E. (Morpeth)||Logan, David Gilbert|
|Brothers, M.||Forgan, Dr. Robert||Longden, F.|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Lowth, Thomas|
|Burgess, F. G.||Gill, T. H.||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)|
|Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Elland)||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||McEntee, V. L.|
|Cameron, A. G.||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)|
|Cape, Thomas||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||March, S.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Hayday, Arthur||Marcus, M.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Hayes, John Henry||Marshall, Fred|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd|
|Colville, Major D. J.||Herriotts, J.||Middleton, G.|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Hopkin, Daniel||Mills, J. E.|
|Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Rowson, Guy||Vaughan, D. J.|
|Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)||Salter, Dr. Alfred||Walker, J.|
|Mort, D. L.||Sanders, W. S.||Wallace, H. W.|
|Muggeridge, H. T.||Sawyer, G. F.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)||Welsh, James (Paisley)|
|Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)||Sherwood, G. H.||Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)|
|Palin, John Henry.||Shield, George William||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Palmer, E. T.||Shillaker, J. F.||Whiteley, William (Blaydon)|
|Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Shinwell, E.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Pole, Major D. G.||Simmons, C. J.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Price, M. P.||Sinkinson, George||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Quibell, D. J. K.||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|Raynes, W. R.||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)||Wilson, R. J, (Jarrow)|
|Remer, John R.||Snell, Harry||Womersley, W. J.|
|Richards, R.||Sullivan, J.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)||Wright, W. (Rutherglen)|
|Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)||Young, R. S. (Islington, North)|
|Ritson, J.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Romeril, H. G.||Tillett, Ben||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Rosbotham, D. S. T.||Tinker, John Joseph||Sir William Lane Mitchell and Mr. Atkinson.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Gossling, A. G.||Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick)|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Gould, F.||Muirhead, A. J.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Granville, E.||Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)|
|Albery, Irving James||Gray, Milner||Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)|
|Allen, W. E. D. (Belfast, W.)||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Owen, H. F, (Hereford)|
|Alpass, J. H.||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)||Paling, Wilfrid|
|Ammon, Charles George||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Peake, Capt. Osbert|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Hall, Capt. W. P. (Portsmouth, C.)||Penny, Sir George|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)||Perry, S. F.|
|Balfour, Captain H. H. (I of Thanet)||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Potts, John S.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Haycock, A. W.||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson|
|Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham)||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood||Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)||Reynolds, Col. Sir James|
|Benson, G.||Heneage, Lieut.-colonel Arthur P.||Richardson. Sir P W. (Sur'y, Ch'te'y)|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell|
|Bevan, S. J. (Holborn)||Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)||Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Hurd, Percy A.||Salmon, Major I.|
|Bird, Ernest Roy||Isaacs, George||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart|
|Blindell, James||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Scurr, John|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome|
|Brooke, W.||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A.||Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Kelly, W. T.||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Burgin, Dr. E. L.||Kennedy, Thomas||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)|
|Caine, Derwent Hall.||King, Commodore Rt. Hon. Henry D.||Smithers, Waldron|
|Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.)||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Somerville. D G. (Willesden, East)|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Lang. Gordon||Southby. Commander A. R. J.|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Stamford, Thomas W.|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Cove, William G.||Lawrence, Susan||Strauss, G. R.|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C.||Leach, W.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Dallas, George||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)|
|Dalton, Hugh||Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Longbottom, A. W.||Todd, Capt. A. J.|
|Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)||McElwee, A.||Townend, A. E.|
|Duckworth, G. A. V.||McKinlay, A.||Train, J.|
|Dugdale, Capt. T. L.||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||MacNeill-Weir, L.||Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Egan, w. H.||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)||Wallhead. Richard C.|
|Elmley, Viscount||Markham, S. F.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert|
|England, Colonel A.||Marley, J.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Mathers, George||Watkins, F. C.|
|Ferguson, Sir John||Millar, J. D.||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Milner, J.||Westwood, Joseph|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.||White. H. G.|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||Montague, Frederick||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)||Morley, Ralph|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Morris, Rhys Hopkins||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Gibson, H. M. (Lancs. Mossley)||Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)||Mr. Glassey and Major Llewellin.|
|Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive|
Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Question put, "That the words 'upon this day six months' be there added."
§ The House proceeded to a Division.1032
§ Words added.
§ Second Reading put off for six months.