§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
§ Sir WILLIAM DAVISON
This Bill ought not to be allowed to go through without further consideration. I had hoped to speak later in the Debate, but, as the hon. Member for the English Unversities (Sir M. Conway) who was to have moved the rejection of this Bill is not present in his place, I will take the opportunity of making my speech now. This is perhaps the greatest improvement that has ever taken place in London, and it is therefore essential that no mistake is made. It will involve an expenditure of £15,000,000, and if any mistake is made now it will be irrevocable and irreparable. The Royal Commission which dealt with this matter some two years ago did so on the basis that the South Eastern railway station at Charing Cross had to remain on that site. Its Report was based on that assumption. The Royal Commission recommended a two decker bridge, the under-deck to carry the railway to its present position, and the upper deck to carry the roadway up to the Cavell Statue. All schemes since then seem to have been based on the assumption that the railway station had to remain on its present site, but that premise has now ceased to exist.
If the scheme now before the House is persisted in many hundreds of yards of viaduct will cut off South London from future development. It is essential that all possible opinion should be consulted on such an enormous improvement. It is a remarkable thing that practically the whole of professional opinion is against the London County Council's proposal. The Royal Institute of British Architects is practically unanimous against it; the London Society is against it; the London Town Planning Institute is against it, and, so far as I know, all societies interested in the improvement and aesthetic future of London are opposed to it. Whether they are right or wrong it is quite certain that inadequate consideration 1482 has been given to the present proposal. Only this afternoon I went to see a very interesting scheme prepared by Mr. Murray, a model of which I saw in the Sun Life Office of Canada. Unfortunately, owing to the fact that the consideration of this Bill has not been postponed, there is no model of this scheme. Another great drawback to the proposal is that it prevents any great thoroughfare like the Victoria Embankment being constructed to take the traffic to the City on the south side. It will also gravely interfere with the traffic coming from the City by the Victoria Embankment. Anyone wanting to come from the City by cab or car will have to go as at present down underneath the new bridgeway, up Northumberland Avenue, across Trafalgar Square, into the new Place, which it is proposed to form in the Strand, and then go back over the new Charing Cross bridge.
§ Sir W. DAVISON
The late Minister of Transport says they can get over Waterloo Bridge, but in order to do that they would have to have an aeroplane. The late Minister of Transport knows the difficulties of getting down Fleet Street and the Strand from the City at any working time of the day. The best way is down Queen Victoria Street and the Victoria Embankment.
§ Sir W. DAVISON
The best way is down Queen Victoria Street and the Victoria Embankment. I am mentioning this because a very interesting plan has been prepared by Mr. Caröe showing how by slightly altering the Thames Embankment it is possible to get switch roads coming from the new bridge on to the Embankment. There are five or six different ways in which this matter might be dealt with and the House should consider whether they are satisfied that this is the best way of dealing with this tremendous London improvement. Whatever is decided to-night will bind us practically for all time. I suppose every hon. Member has seen the Paper which has been circulated and I need not amplify the statements which are set out in it. They will 1483 notice the hundreds of yards of tunnels and the hundreds of yards of viaducts cutting off the development of South London. They will see how, instead of getting valuable frontages on what ought to be a magnificent highway, which would produce betterment and reduce the cost of the scheme, you have yards and yards of station wall. I suggest that the House should take time before approving the scheme. There is another great drawback from the railway travellers point of view. A person coming to Waterloo and desiring to get to the Southern Railway Station will have to take a cab.
§ Sir W. DAVISON
That, of course, is special pleading. The station might be pushed back to a level with Waterloo, if, indeed, a station is still required having regard to the fact that the Southern Railway will only run suburban trains in future. If that is the idea I would like to ask the House to consider whether all suburban traffic should not be put underground. The more you go into this question the more it teems with ideas, and I appeal to the House to give time for further explanation and inquiry before tying their bands and the bands of posterity to a scheme which has very grave defects and which is unanimously condemned by all professional opinion of the day.
§ Sir WALTER GREAVES-LORD
We have had a very interesting but not entirely impromptu speech from the hon. Member for Kensington South (Sir W. Davison). I propose to deal with some of the objections which he has raised, but before doing so I want to say something about the reasons why this Bill is brought forward and also about the necessity for avoiding any delay in dealing with the matter. The hon. Member's speech was nothing more than a dilatory speech, for the purpose of delaying an improvement which is absolutely necessary and which the Royal Commission said should be carried out with, the smallest delay. What is the history of the matter? It arose from the difficult position of Waterloo Bridge which, overburdened by traffic, was becoming dangerous. The London County Council at first came to the conclusion that it was better 1484 to rebuild Waterloo Bridge on an entirely new plan. Those who have now raised aesthetic objections to the present scheme raised their voices very determinedly in favour of saving Waterloo Bridge. I am not disposed to disagree with those who think that Waterloo Bridge is a priceless possession which ought to be retained for the State. They were able to make their voice heard so that the Prime Minister decided that a Royal Commission should be set up to consider the whole question of London bridges in order to get some-think like a considered opinion on the subject.
The Royal Commission came to the conclusion that it would be wise to save Waterloo Bridge, but they also pointed out that if Waterloo Bridge was to be saved it was absolutely necessary that a new bridge should be constructed in the neighbourhood of the present Hunger-ford Bridge. There were cogent reasons why any new bridge should be constructed in that neighbourhood, but once that neighbourhood was chosen as the site a number of questions arose. What were the conditions upon which the new bridge could be built on that site? The conditions are not without difficulty. There is one thing which, I should have thought, all those who opposed this scheme on aesthetic grounds would have agreed upon at once—that the first thing necessary was to get rid of Hungerford Bridge. In fact one of those bodies who have been referred to and who form part of what is now known as the Thames. Bridges Conference, issued a little booklet in June of last year, in which, with the permission of the proprietors of "Punch," they expresed, through a cartoon from "Punch" their opinion of Hungerford Bridge. They represent the Spirit of Ugliness gloating over the Thames in the neighbourhood of Hunger-ford Bridge and saying "So long as I have anything to do with London you shall not go. You are my masterpiece." So much for their view about Hungerford Bridge.
If you look at some of the schemes which they have rather commended from time to time, although they have never given complete sanction to anything, because you can never get them to agree about anything—if you lock at some of the schemes that they have partially commended, you find one condition of a 1485 lot of the schemes is that the spirit of ugliness shall have his way. A distinguished architect, Sir Reginald Blomfield, has in the public Press said a great deal on this question of the present scheme for Charing Cross Bridge, but so far as he put forward a scheme, although he is associated with those who regard Hungerford Bridge as something which must be done away with, he retained it, So they go on.
When one considers the present plans and suggestions, it is necessary to consider some of the difficulties that have to be faced. You are dealing with a site which is very important but which has considerable peculiarities. First of all you are very restricted. Hungerford Bridge takes a line across the river which must be taken by any bridge that is built in that neighbourhood. And for one reason: You cannot move very far either to the East or to the West, because on either side of Hungerford Bridge there are two tubes over which it is impossible to construct a bridge. You may say, "Why not go further afield? Why cannot you go midway between the present Hungerford Bridge and Westminster Bridge, or midway between the present Hungerford Bridge and Waterloo Bridge?" If you do that you destroy the navigable features of the Thames. If you attempt to move the bridge nearer to Westminster Bridge or to Waterloo Bridge anyone who is acquainted with the river traffic will at once tell you that a tug going up or down the river with a string of barges would have no time to get this string straight before arriving at the next bridge.
There is another question which has to be dealt with, and that is the question of the condition of the river. A low-level bridge becomes almost impossible if you consider the nature of the river at that point. It has a curve, and the Middlesex side is the outside of the curve. The channel of a river, wherever there is a curve in it, is to be found on the outside of the curve. So far as the navigation of the Thames is concerned at that point where the Hungerford Bridge crosses the river, it is essential that craft beyond a certain size, going up and down the river, must go to the Middlesex side of the river. If you have an ordinary level roadway you have great 1486 difficulty in so constructing the arches of the bridge that navigation can take its ordinary course. If it cannot take its ordinary course the river will not take the navigation at all.
That is an extremely important matter, having regard to the traffic which passes up and down the river at that point and past Westminster Bridge. It is an important factor which has been disregarded by a great many of those who raise aesthetic objections to the bridge. I find that in a number of the schemes to which individuals who are represented by the Thames Bridges Conference have given their approval, the bridges are so constructed that the navigation of the Thames above the bridges would have to stop altogether. There is one gentleman who is a professor of town planning. He has drawn up a design for a new bridge at Charing Cross. Whether it is that, being a professor of town planning, he thinks that water always runs in pipes and that therefore the centre is the deepest part, I do not know, but he has shown his biggest arch in the centre of the river, where it would be completely useless, and has put arches at the side where not a bit of Thames traffic could pass. Those are conditions which have to be considered by anyone putting forward a scheme.
Another matter which has to be taken into account is that if you are to put a new bridge across at that point it must be a bridge that is going to relieve the Embankment and not discharge more traffic on to it. The Embankment is already very fully occupied by the traffic which goes along it to and from North umberland Avenue. If you put your bridge across the river at that point, it is essential, and it was the considered view of the Royal Commission on London Traffic, that any bridge must be carried over the Embankment and must not discharge its traffic on to the Embankment. My hon. Friend says that this new bridge is going to make it extremely difficult for anyone to get from the City to Waterloo. Frankly, I do not follow his point. He seems to think of this bridge as being constructed for those who want to go from the City to Waterloo. I should have thought that anyone who did not want to go a long way round would have found it easier, if he did not go across Southward Bridge, to go across Blackfriars 1487 Bridge and along Stamford Street. But if he did want to go on a high level bridge why should he not go to one of the streets near to an approach road on to the Strand and cross Waterloo Bridge? Why should he go past Waterloo Bridge and up Northumberland Avenue to this bridge? Perhaps my hon. Friend prefers a circuitous route to one which is of easy access. Whatever the reason, I do not imagine that the House will think that there is very much point in the suggestion that it is in fact difficult to get from the City to Waterloo.
But my hon. Friend says that there are some other considerations which have to be applied. If the railway has to go south that, says he, brings in the difficulty that you are putting a band around certain territory in the south and preventing its development. But immediately he said what is nevertheless true, "If you are to get rid of that band there is only one way to deal with it, and that is to put it underground." Anyone with knowledge of the various railways on the south of the Thames knows that you cannot deal with one and not with the other. Is it suggested that this great city should throw its money away by putting all these various railways underground, with all the attendant expense? You would not only have to deal with this railway. Why should you have the railway which comes into Waterloo overground, and why have the railway which comes across Blackfriars Bridge overground? If you carry the thing out logically you must put them all underground, and the expense would be prohibitive.
Let me deal with the point in another way. The Royal Commission formulated their suggestion on the basis that the railway under no circumstances would take itself to the other side of the river, and therefore the Royal Commission did not fully consider the position that would be brought about if the railway could be persuaded to go to the other side of the river. The result was that they put forward a scheme which made things almost worse than they are now, except that it did provide a roadway. But when you take the railway to the other side what have you to consider? That that station shall be easy of access, and shall be connected with those means of 1488 traffic through the City which those who go into the new station are likely to use.
A great deal has been said by those who take the aesthetic objections to the scheme, to suggest that the new station should be on the site of she present Waterloo Junction. Only the other day Sir Reginald Blomfield said that it was essential to take the station to the Waterloo Junction site, because that was the only place where you could get reasonable and convenient access to the tubes. The fact of the matter is that the ground of objection of the Southern Railway to those proposals is that if your station was at Waterloo Junction there would not be that access to the tubes which is desirable. When you take the station to the site that is suggested in the present scheme you have access to the tubes, which makes the site superior to any other position that you could choose.
It is also known now that the underground railways are prepared to reconstruct their Waterloo stations so that there shall be direct access from the new-station that is to be built, when this scheme goes through, to both the Bakerloo Tube and the Hampstead Tube, which pass practically underneath the line of the station. It is also pointed out that another tube, a very short length of tube of considerable importance, namely, the tube which runs down from Holborn to Aldwych, was built at a low level with the intention some day of carrying it across the river, and that it will be, comparatively speaking, an easy thing, but a very valuable thing, to carry that tube through to a site underneath this new station, so that you will at once have easy access to the Bakerloo Tube, the Hampstead Tube and the tube which goes up to Holborn, and joins there with the Piccadilly Tube and gives access to every part of London. Not only that, but it will be possible when the scheme is carried out, to construct on the south side of the new bridge an omnibus concourse which people can reach from the station without going out into the elements. It will be possible in bad weather to reach it without danger of getting wet and to catch omnibuses going in practically every direction where persons arriving at the station would wish to go. In these 1489 circumstances, this new station provides almost perfect access to all parts of London.
There is another point with regard to this station. It is said that the scheme is objectionable because it brings a railway station on to the river front and this body of architects are very keen that a station should not come on to the river front because, they say, it will destroy the beauty of the river front. I have here a little volume about the London bridges put forward by one of those who took part in the Thames Bridges Conference, and there is a view which is described as "the Surrey Riviera," showing the bank of the Thames immediately adjacent to the present Hungerford Bridge. If they think there is any beauty which can be destroyed on that bank of the river at the present time, they are the most curious artists I have ever come across; but so far from it destroying the beauty of the river bank, it is going to have the opposite effect. True, it is going to bring a railway station there, but what a terrible confession of failure that objection is on the part of a body which we are told is supported by practically all the greatest architects who are fit to be considered in this matter. What a confession of failure on the part of the architects of the country to say that they think it impossible to construct a railway station with architectural features which are pleasing to the eye. I do not believe for one moment that it is true. I do not believe that there is one of them who could not put forward a design that would make a railway station entirely in accordance with the architecture which we have opposite this House, going along with the County Hall and in keeping with all the other buildings to be found on the river bank at that point.
Then it is said, "You are going to perpetuate slums on the south side of the river." I fail to understand how you can perpetuate slums by getting rid of an enormous amount of slum property, and putting up a number of buildings which will be in keeping, not with the neighbourhood as it now is, but with the neighbourhood as it will be when buildings of decent design which will match the present County Hall have been erected. That point, again, seems to me to fail, but there is a further point, which they have stressed very much, in 1490 regard to tunnels. I heard it said the other day by one of the more extravagant opponents of this scheme that the two proposed tunnels, one of which is to be 300 feet and the other 406 feet, will be a cause of serious danger to the health of the population of London because of the terrible fumes of carbo-monoxide. I happen nearly every day of my life to pass through a tunnel which is as long as any of these proposed tunnels. That is the covered roadway which leads from Vauxhall Bridge to the South Lambeth Road, and I have not yet heard of anyone being affected by carbo-monoxide poisoning through using that roadway, although there is an enormous amount of motor traffic along it.
Lest I should be misunderstood let me say, at once, that the promoters of this Bill are not going to enter into a competition of ugliness with the covered roadway at Vauxhall. There is no idea of constructing any such hideous covered roadway as that which at present exists on the other side of Vauxhall Bridge: but, on the other hand, to-day a covered roadway can be made even attractive, and I suppose that it is not entirely without relevance to consider how attractive is the covered roadway in Piccadilly Circus at the present time. After all, the resources of those who deal with matters of this kind are not so slight that they cannot make a roadway which is really attractive and which can also be used for reasonable business purposes. What is there to prevent arcades of shops being made in one of these two covered roadways?
Again, the opponents of the scheme say, "You will have a long unsightly wall at the side of the station," but, again, what is there to prevent a building being put up, allowing for shops of a reasonable character accessible from the roadways on either side? My hon. Friend also says, "There will be no proper access to this station, and you will destroy the access to Waterloo." As a matter of fact, we are improving the access to Waterloo, because we are providing ways from that station which do not exist to-day, and which will be of great advantage to those who arrive at that station. In the same way the new station which is to take the place of the Charing Cross Station, will have access to the new bridge and access to Waterloo Bridge; and by its access to Waterloo Bridge it provides easy access 1491 to Blackfriars Bridge, while by its access to the new bridge, it provides easy access to Westminster Bridge—though nobody desires that an enormous amount of traffic from the new Charing Cross Bridge should be diverted over either Black-friars Bridge or Westminster Bridge, which are at present pretty well over-laden.
It is also said that the scheme has not been properly considered. That surely is the last resort of those who are completely destitute of argument. The Royal Commission has sat and has made its recommendations. Since then, there have been published over 30 different designs for this bridge, every one of which has been thoroughly considered by the County Council and the Ministry of Transport. The nature of these various designs I need not dilate upon, but one, referred to with affection by my hon. Friend, was the design of Mr. Caröe. Mr. Caröe is a member of the firm of Niven, Caröe and Muirhead, and, so entirely in agreement are these architects, that he has two schemes, one being the scheme of Messrs. Niven, Caröe and Muirhead, and the other the scheme of Mr. Caröe. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] I agree, but at the same time if you are trying to concentrate on one scheme why should you, directly you have arrived at one design, suggest another design, because you cannot agree with your partners?
Some things have been disregarded in both these schemes. The Victoria Embankment is at present below high-water level, and it is certainly not desirable to take traffic along a roadway any further down than the Victoria Embankment is at present, but both these schemes are dependent upon sinking the roadway to a point which is almost below low-water level in order to take the trams under the suggested bridge. In order to get the ordinary traffic through you are to take it up an incline and then down an incline from the outlet of the new bridge. In other words, these schemes are not only dependent upon altering the present levels of the Embankment, and taking the trams under the new roadway, but they are also dependent upon taking the whole of the ordinary traffic which goes along the Embankment directly across the traffic which is coming out at the new bridge. That is not giving proper consideration to the factors which 1492 are essential, if this bridge is going to be a relief to the traffic and not a means of congestion.
Then there is another scheme to which my hon. Friend also referred with affection, and which he said he had seen today or yesterday at the Sun Life Assurance Office. I wonder what he would think if such a bridge were ever constructed across the River Thames at that point. We have all seen the designs. We have all had this wonderful invitation. It is a design rich in Eastern architecture—so much so that in order to make it perfect you would want to have a seraglio and a mosque at each end. Then one realises how much it would be in keeping with those ancient buildings which are not a long distance away from this point. The fact of the matter is that, if you take these 30 or more schemes which have been suggested, there is not one of them which has not in it something which is absolutely objectionable, and is vital to the considerations which must be taken into account in building a bridge at this point. There is not one of these schemes, other than that before the House, which does not disregard some essential, the disregard of which leads to the complete destruction of the scheme.
In these circumstances, are we to be asked by those who now, after their 31 schemes, have put forward no alternative, to defer this scheme in order that they may consider again? In the meantime, is a matter which the Royal Commission said "brooked no delay" to be held up, and are the traffic facilities of London to be held up, when there is a considered scheme waiting to be carried into operation which will not only relieve traffic conditions, but will also, at a very necessary time, bring great help to the unemployed? Finally, they say, "You ought to have taken your architect into consultation before." I say without fear that, primarily, the building of a bridge of this description is an engineering job; but when you come to the final lay-out it is very well and, indeed, essential, that you should consult architectural opinion. Before the final lay-out of this bridge was decided upon one of the most eminent architects in the country, or, indeed, in the world, was taken into consultation. He has made himself responsible for those details which affect the architecture of the final lay-out, and he is now working upon all those details of the scheme which 1493 are essential to its architectural success. After all, when a man of such eminence is working upon the scheme, it is rather ridiculous to say that those who have produced over 30 schemes, each of which neglects an essential consideration, should have another chance of delaying the public of London while they produce a further scheme.
Frankly, I cannot help feeling that the engineering scheme which the London County Council have put forward gives a real opportunity of dealing with the traffic problem, and also an opportunity, which Sir Edwin Lutyens is taking, to produce something which subsequent generations will recognise as a credit to the City and the County of London, and with which the name of Sir Edwin Lutyens will be for ever associated as one who did his best not merely to produce a scheme pleasing to the eye, but one which dealt with the essential problems at the same time.
§ Sir MARTIN CONWAY
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 rise to utter every word I can in opposition to this scheme. The House of Commons has always been very kind to me, and I venture to-night to appeal for its indulgence as I speak under a great disability. If this were to be my last speech in this House—as I hope it may not be—I should he glad to think that I spoke on behalf of London. I think everybody in the House, without exception, is a lover of London. We may differ about this or that, but this great London, in which we pass a great part of our time and in which some of us live, is one of the most wonderful places on the earth. There is nothing like it, East or West, in any other country in the world. There is just London, and London stands alone. If I could speak on behalf of London I should want, like some college professor, to have a screen and a lantern, so that I could show views, and have the plans on the walls, and deal with all kinds of details, as the hon. and learned Member for Norwood (Sir W. Greaves-Lord) has done, but the fact is that all his learning, and knowledge of detail, and all the rest left me entirely cold, because I could not follow the sense of what he was saying. We wanted to see these various tunnels and so on and 1494 have them explained. We are not sitting here with plans in our laps, and we have not all the designs of these tunnels and underground stations and so on; and it is useless, to my mind, to talk about all these details, as one might easily do under other circumstances.
Therefore, all that I can do is to treat the whole question broadly, to get away from all these details, and to look at the great broad question of London, and what is good for London in the future. There have been great discussions, and discussions, and discussions about this proposal to make a change in the Charing Cross bridge and railway station, there have been Commissions, there have been engineer's reports, there have been all kinds of things; and the London County Council, I take it, has busied itself in this matter for many years, has taken all kinds of advice, has looked at all kinds of plans, and has done all the kinds of things that a representative body can do, and has ultimately got thoroughly tired of the whole thing and wants to get rid of it. It has come to this House with a Bill which will enable it to get rid of this troublesome question, and that Bill, I am going to contend, is a miserable and a hopeless proposition.
After all these negotiations and discussions, what is the result? There is the London County Council coming before us with a Bill, but the City of Westminster is against it, and the Borough of Lambeth is against it. The two great boroughs which are most affected by this proposal on that side of the river, bodies equally representative in their own areas as the London County Council is in its own area, are against this Bill. They say it is a bad Bill, they say the proposition is a bad one, and they oppose it. There you have the two most powerful and influential bodies that are affected by this Bill petitioning against it. I do not know who is in favour of it.
§ Sir M. CONWAY
My hon. and learned Friend stands alone. Who is against it? Every body of intelligent men in this country. There is the Royal Academy against it, there is the Royal Institute of British Architects against it—I have a list of them here—there is the Surveyors' Institution against it, there is the Town Planning Institute against 1495 it, there is the London Society against it, and there are the Architectural Association and the Architectural Club, very eminent bodies, also against it; and, when you go into Kent and Surrey, you find boroughs all over the place against it. I know of four, but there are a great many more. There are Croydon, and Chislehurst, and Bromley, and Sid-cup against it; and I do not know any corresponding bodies which are in its favour. That is a prima facie ease against this proposal.
I want to pass to more general considerations, and the first thing that I want to say is that this is not a problem of a bridge, but a very much larger problem. It is a problem of town planning. Anybody can build a bridge when you tell them the two ends to which it is to go, but the first thing is, not to design a bridge and then fit roads to it, but to design roads and then fit a bridge to them. I have nothing to say whatever, therefore, about the bridge. It may be double-decked or single-decked or anything you please, so far as I am concerned. I am concerned with the land on both sides of the river and in the neighbourhood of the ends of the bridge.
There is, on the South side of the Thames, a square mile of land right in the very heart of London, occupied partly with slums, partly with mean buildings, partly with industrial buildings of some kind, ramshackle affairs, and the only good thing it has got is the shot tower, which I should be sorry to see disappear. There is a square mile of land right in the very heart of London, and that square mile of land might be made to be the very centre of London's world. There is no reason why, in that square mile of land, you should not have streets as fine as Regent Street, Piccadilly, the Strand, or any other big street in London. That is what you want to arrange for on that South side of London, that you shall have a really splendid centre, because it would be very nearly the centre—I think it is the absolute centre—for London. You should have fine streets, fine buildings, a splendid, useful, and valuable creation, standing there in the heart of London, in place of the mean stuff that exists there to-day.
1496 To make that square mile of London amount to what it should amount to, you ought to have a proper system of town planning, and that is the first thing to consider—the town planning of this great square mile, which is now wasted, in the heart of London, on the South side of the river. I hear that the Ministry of Transport has considered this problem of the bridge, but I have not heard that the Ministry of Health, which is the town planning authority, has been consulted at all; and it is much more the business of the Ministry of Health than of the Ministry of Transport to pass upon this proposal. Town planning, which, as I have shown, is a point of fundamental importance, has never been, as far as I know—and I believe I am right in saying it—carefully and officially considered by the Ministry of Health, and there is no report upon it from that Ministry. If the Ministry of Transport, therefore, has anything to say in favour of this proposal, I shall cite the Ministry of Health against it, and ask what is its view.
The plan, as I see it in the paper that was sent to me, the plan which we are discussing to-night, seems to lack every amenity. It lacks lucidity, it lacks simplicity, it lacks breadth, it lacks imagination, and it lacks suitability for human life and town development. We may say that it is botched on the very face of it. It contains six tunnels extending over 800 feet. The criticism of the tunnels that carbon monoxide poisoning might result is not at all to be passed lightly over. It depends on the ventilation. If you have artificial ventilation to save you from carbon monoxide poisoning, that is a further complication. Then you have roundabout after roundabout for the traffic to waltz around in; you have ramps one in thirty on a main principal road; you have long blank walls—for posters, I suppose. All these things are liable to destructive criticism. I am not going to propose any alternative scheme; all I say about this scheme is that it is bad in conception, bad in working out, and bad in presentation.
What is that we want? Let me set out five points for consideration. The first thing is to open up a splendid square mile in the South of London. The second is to provide two through roads, one from north to south, and another from east to west. The third is to relieve traffic by 1497 scattering it. The fourth is to relieve the site famine on the north side of the Thames. The fifth is to pay the whole cost of whatever you do by the great increase in site values which you can obtain by treating the area in South London in a bold, broad and fine manner. I have reason to think that the whole of the expense of the proposed change could be borne by the increase of site and rating values of the square mile of South London if it were treated boldly, broadly and with imagination. We are asked to spend £15,000,000 upon this rubbishy scheme, and there is no ghost of a chance of getting very much of it back. It is a bankruptcy of imagination that leads us into that scheme.
Let me take these five points in turn. I have said that to open up South London is the first and main problem. A new station is to be put up on the other side of the river, a wedge-shaped station, which blocks the whole place. According to the plan, it has a blank wall along two sides of it—over a quarter of a mile of blank wall. A friend told me that it is not intended to be a blank wall, but that holes are to be burrowed into it, and glass fronts put in them, so that they can be turned into shops. That is no very great comfort to me. If you have not got frontage in that area, I do not imagine that you want rat-holes with glass fronts to them; you want on each side of such a road great fine buildings of five or six storeys high, which will bring you in good rents, good rates, and good revenue. This new station blocks the whole place up. Here you have this wedge, and you cannot drive across it or over it or under it; it blocks the whole development of that part. This south part of London already labours under a tremendous disability with the railway cutting across it from London Bridge to Waterloo Junction towards Charing Cross. That was a mischievous thing ever to have been allowed. That railway ought to have been sunk into the ground, and it ought now to be sunk, and tall buildings ought to be raised on top. In America they do that without thinking twice about it. By putting up tall buildings on top, you will amply repay the cost of sinking the railway and will open that area up for development.
There exists now a road called Belvedere Road, with which I had occasion to make personal acquaintance on many 1498 occasions when the War Museum had a store off that road. It is a pretty disgraceful road, but there it is. It might be widened and made useful, but what does this proposal do? It cuts it in half, and makes a blind end to it, so that the only way of getting into it is down some steps at one end and up some steps the other. What kind of property are you going to build fronting on a road which you can only get into by going down steps and only get out of by going up steps? In the immediate neighbourhood of the County Hall, you are going to make a great area of land perfectly useless., and you will atrophy and stultify any conceivable development. That is characteristic of this whole scheme from one end to another. Then there is a great silly curving road, which goes round and leads nowhere, and it is apparently intended to be nothing in the world but a car park. That is the purpose for which you condemn one of the finest sites in London, which ought to carry buildings of a fine character.
My second point is that we want a great north to south road across the river, which will take you right through London and will bring you down into the south of London. What do we find there? On the north side of the river we find roundabout after roundabout; the idea of roundabouts seems to have got possession of the people. I hate roundabouts, and I share that dislike with a great many other people. You would have to go a distance of three-quarters of a mile to get from the end of Northumberland Avenue on to the bridge, though in point of fact the bridge would be only 30 or 40 yards away. Under the present planning arrangements anyone coming from the north to go over the bridge would have a magnificent vista along the road—away and away up, with, I suppose, the Surrey hills in the distance on the two days in the year when the sky is clear enough for them to be seen. Away and away up you would go, and what would you come to at the end? You would come to a curving ramp, and the road twisting at a slope of 1 in 30. At the end of two miles of straight road that is what you would get. So bad was that silly proposal that when it was shown to the architect he said, "Oh, we will put up an obelisk or a monument there." What bad planning it must be if it has to be corrected by sticking up a monument to 1499 save it from being ugly. Picture it for yourselves. Here comes the road. You are looking right up the road. You come to this silly ramp, and then there is a circular roundabout, where you go spinning around and around.
But far more important than a north-and-south road is an east-and-west road, and there is no pretence at supplying that. In this House I am always troubled as to the position of the points of the compass. I think the river is behind me as I am standing now. If you cross Westminster Bridge, as soon as you are on the other side there is no need to twist very much before you find yourself heading straight for the City of London. What we want more than anything else is a big, fine avenue leading from the other end of Westminster Bridge direct to London Bridge. People do not often realise it, but the Thames curves between Westminster Bridge and London Bridge, and we want a road to cut straight across between those two points. A fine broad avenue from the other side of Westminster Bridge to London Bridge will open up the whole of that district, and the development of south London can be undertaken. The first essential is this broad east and west road, cutting through all the slums, cutting through whatever comes in its way until it comes to London Bridge.
Such a road would relieve the Strand of half its traffic. Half the traffic which now travels east and west on the north of the river would take this short cut, because it would get to the City in half the time that is now consumed. Traffic blocks in the Strand are no modern affairs. I was reading recently in Pepys' Diary his account of how when he was coming to Westminster on one occasion and had got somewhere near to what is now Charing Cross, the block of carriages became so great that he had to get out of his conveyance, walk down to the river, and take a boat to Westminster. Such was the state of traffic near Charing Cross in the 17th century. They improved the roads and did one thing and another, and the block disappeared—for a time: but when I was a boy living in Westminster and going to school in Essex, we always allowed an hour and a quarter to drive in a four-wheeled cab from Dean's Yard to Bishopsgate Street Station, which stood then where Liver 1500 pool Street is now, or thereabouts. Time and time again in those days I have sat on top of an omnibus going along the Strand and taken three-quarters of an hour, and even an hour, to get from Charing Cross to Temple Bar. Then they made the Thames Embankment and Queen Victoria Street, which relieved that traffic for a time, but we shall have that same problem of the Strand traffic everlastingly repeated unless we build a new route to diminish the pressure on the Strand. The one thing that would finally solve the problem would be this great highway, broad as Regent Street, or broader, running from the other end of Westminster Bridge to London Bridge.
I have spoken about the new station being on the wrong side in relation to the development of South London, but there is another reason against the new station being where it is, and that is that it will be separated from Waterloo Station by a road. That will be a perfect nuisance to people arriving at one station and wanting to go to the other station. It is all very well to say that there will be bridges across, and this, that and the other, but you know how it is when you arrive at a station and a porter has to take your things over a quarter of a mile to get to a train in the other station. It is all bother and confusion. We do not want two stations, we want one station, and that one station approximately where Waterloo Station is now.
We shall be sterilising the development of this area. Instead of relieving traffic and scattering it in many parts of the area covered by the plan v. e shall be concentrating traffic. I understand that my friend Sir Henry Maybury thinks the traffic arrangements are good. He is a great authority, but I differ from him. Another point to be remembered is that there is a famine of sites on this side of the river, and the value of land is being driven up to an enormous figure. If we open up the other side of the river to development it will diminish that site famine we can sweep away those poor, miserable properties, wretched houses and slums, and erect there fine tall buildings—in fact, I would like to see skyscrapers put there, though perhaps this country is not ripe for them. However, there could be fine buildings for industrial purposes and for residences and for the accommodation of large masses 1501 of the working classes in comfort and in healthy surroundings.
I want to say a word or two in regard to the question of finance. I have already referred to that subject. The county council are asking us to put up £15,000,000 to make a bridge and a road, and there is nothing coming back to us at all for that expenditure. By this scheme, you are spoiling the areas that might be built over by good property, and the dead-weight of the cost of this scheme will be laid upon the shoulders of the taxpayers of this country, whereas if you proceeded on a large scale, you would carry out something worthy of London and of the capital of the British Empire; not only that, but you would get back most of the cost. I believe by the adoption of proper arrangements you could sweep in to the public Exchequer the whole of the annual increment, and then you would be able to make a profit upon the undertaking. I believe any contractor could undertake such a scheme as I have suggested, and make a thundering good profit out of it. If what I have suggested were adopted, the taxpayers would not be called upon to pay anything at all towards the cost.
Officially, we have been told that it is necessary for this Bill to be pushed through at once, because it would do much to relieve unemployment. The Lord Privy Seal is always telling us that, no matter whether a scheme is a bad or a good one, and we are always told that we must not go against schemes because they are going to provide employment I want this money to be spent on something that will be worth while in the development of South London and which will be worthy of a great city, Under my suggestion, you will provide more employment by opening up a square mile of valuable sites for property and rebuilding the whole of that vast area.
Finally, I come to the question of beauty. If you build rightly you build beautifully, and this is a question of beauty. I remember a French Prime Minister who, when he wanted a thing done, said "I want this and that, and, finally, no architecture." I remember one of the Vanderbilts to whom somebody once said, "Why don't you talk grammar; you are talking terrible English? "Vanderbilt replied," Grammar. Why, for 5,000 dollars a year I can 1502 employ a man who knows all the grammars in the world. I tell him a thing, and I say, 'Grammar this' and 'grammar that.' "The county council have provided a scheme, and, when it is all done, they call upon my friend Sir Edwin Lutyens, and they say to him, "Grammar that." That is the contribution to beauty which comes from the London County Council, I think I have now knocked the bottom out of the proposal of this Bill, and, if I never speak in this House again, it will be a pleasure to me to think what a delightful evening I have spent among so many old friends.
§ Mr. WILLIAM STEWART
I beg to second the Amendment.
In rising to address the House for the first time, I am sure that the House will extend to me the indulgence which is usually extended to one who makes his first speech here. I am sorry that my maiden effort should be made against this scheme, because, in common with my hon. Friend the Member for the English Universities (Sir M. Conway), I am a lover of London, having had my home here for many years. I oppose this scheme, not putting forward any alternative, but merely because I think that the scheme has not had proper consideration. The experts themselves do not agree on the scheme, and, as we have been told, many of the boroughs in London are opposed to it. It is only the London County Council and the officials who support this scheme. It may be good or bad in itself, but I submit that the scheme has not-received that consideration which a scheme like this should receive. In the present circumstances, to put this scheme forward without considering the whole of London is to my mind a great mistake. A writer who is not often read to-day, Ruskin, says—I cannot give his exact words, but this is the general effect—that, for every 100 who can speak, one can think, and for every 1,000 who can think, one can see. I submit that it is vision that is wanted in this matter, not talk and not thinking.
The Southern Railway has seven stations in London within a space of two miles, and, of those seven stations, four are in the City of London. As my hon. Friend has said, if any man had the money and could take up this matter, he could afford to put every railway under-ground, 1503 and he would make a lot of money out of the sites that he would save. Those who know the City of New York know that there is a central railway station there which is all underground, and built over with large buildings. Into that Central Station all the traffic comes from the underground railways and from many of the main lines. The four stations in the City of London run on to one line, on to which, also, Charing Cross runs, and to my mind the idea of perpetuating Charing Cross Station should not be considered. My friend Sir Henry Maybury admitted to me that the project had not been considered from the point of view of concentrating these railway stations and eliminating those which were surplus.
To me it seems to be bad management to have all these stations within this small compass. A short time ago I was wanting certain information, and telephoned to what I thought was the head office to ask them a question. They referred me to another station. That station referred me to yet another station, and this other station referred me to a fourth station. Then the fourth station referred me back to the first station to which I telephoned, and there eventually I got the information. I am not making any complaint at all; I do not wish to make any complaint; I only wish to make this point, that those of us who have the interests of London at heart, as we all have, should not support this Bill until it has been considered from every point of view.
Let me give some figures. At Charing Cross Station, 50,000 people come and go each day. That is not 100,000 altogether, but 50,000 who come in and go out, and, dividing that number by two, it means about 25,000 actual people. On the other hand, at Liverpool Street Station there are 250,000 to deal with. Let it be remembered, moreover, that the passenger traffic is decreasing, and not increasing, and yet it is proposed to perpetuate a station at Charing Cross and give it a fine new site simply to accommodate 25,000 people, most of whom could go on other lines to some of the other railway stations. At Waterloo there are 121,000 passengers, and at Victoria 96,000; and, dividing these figures by two, as you may do generally, 1504 you have only 40,000 or 50,000 people using the station. I submit that before this Bill is passed it should be considered from a general point of view. Anyone who looks at the map will see that some of these stations cut across the line which goes into Liverpool Street. Instead of spending money on such a proposal as this, let us see if we cannot amalgamate these stations, or cut them, out, and put the lines underground for some distance out of London, having one central station for short-distance traffic, and letting the long-distance traffic go to these other stations.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ The question of employment comes in, and, as my hon. Friend has said, unemployment is usually put forward as a reason for these schemes. I do not think, however, that this scheme will assist employment. It is a very difficult scheme. There are roundabouts and tunnels, and there is a good deal of property about which there will have to be negotiations. All this will take a very considerable time. I do not want to appear to condemn the scheme without having some definite and concrete suggestion to make, and the suggestion that I would make is this: There are many hon. Members here who have not very much to do. We wander about here, and yet, while the Chancellor of the Exchequer appoints economic committees, and someone else appoints other committees, Members of this House are rarely appointed to anything. After all, however, it is not the Members on the front benches who form the majority of the House. I think that the private Members are very much neglected, although there is a great deal of talent in the House. On the Labour Benches there are many Members with whom we agree and who agree with us, and, if a few Members were appointed from each party in the House to get together and endeavour to visualise what would be the result of amalgamating these stations and putting the railways underground for a distance of two or three miles out, thus saving all this land, I believe that time would be saved. It would not take years to do this; it could be done in a few weeks. It is only the idea of the doctors and lawyers and architects that it would take years; it would not. I speak on this matter as a practical man. It does, however, take years to dream, and, 1505 when the dreaming is over, you are in a hurry, you get into a panic, and put forward a scheme which has not been considered and thought out. If a few of us could get together with a map, together with the engineers—very able men, who. are told, as my hon. Friend has said, to "grammar that"—we should try to give them something to grammar. At the present time this scheme has only been considered from one point of view, that is, from the railway point of view and the point of view of the London Traffic Advisory Council. They have only been told to "grammar it" from that point of view. Let us tell them to "grammar it" from the City of London point of view.
§ Take the case of Marylebone Station, which deals with 10,500 passengers per day. Halving that number, we have 5,000 people actually using the station. That joins up with another railway, the very Liverpool Street railway about which we are in trouble. Again, take St. Pancras Station. That is kept open for 40,000 passengers a day, or 20,000 people; It is monstrous that in this City of London a scheme should be put forward which to my mind is entirely a parochial scheme, which is entirely local, without any consideration having been given to its possibilities. I do not want to pursue the matter any further; I thank the House very much for their kind attention to my remarks.
§ Colonel ASHLEY
The Bill which we are now considering is, in my opinion, by far the most important Bill affecting London which has come before Parliament since the Bill which enabled the Victoria Embankment to be constructed, and it is one which ought to receive the very serious consideration of all Members of this House. We should never have had this Bill if Waterloo Bridge had not shown signs of falling down. In 1926, the London County Council, who are the bridge authority for the Metropolis, in their absolute discretion, decided, after a great deal of discussion, that Waterloo Bridge should be pulled down and that a new bridge should be erected in its place, taking six lines of traffic and capable of meeting the extra weight and volume of traffic. Then' the learned societies, of whom my hon. Friend the Member for the English Universities 1506 (Sir M. Conway) spoke, raised a great outcry against the proposed action? of the County Council. They wrote to the "Times" and pointed out that it was very important that this bridge should be, preserved. No doubt Waterloo Bridge, is a fine structure, but I venture to say that nine-tenths of the people who protested against the pulling down of Waterloo Bridge never discovered how beautiful it was until it was going to be pulled down. I sympathise a good deal with the members of the County Council in the outcry that was raised against them when they exercised their perfect right of deciding that that bridge should be pulled down. However, be that as it may, a Royal Commission was at once appointed to go, into the question not only Of Waterloo Bridge but of all the Thames bridges, and Lord Lee of Fareham was appointed Chairman. To the members of that Commission one ought to bear public tribute, because in the course of three or four months they got through their very difficult task, and among their recommendations was one that dealt with Waterloo Bridge and Charing Cross Bridge. Everyone admits that that ugly iron railway bridge that still stands there is a monstrosity and a disgrace to the chief City of the Empire, and the sooner it can be swept away the better.
They offered a compromise, and a not unfair compromise. They suggested, with all respect to the County Council, that they should not pull down Waterloo Bridge but should reconstruct it so as to take four lines of traffic, which could be done without materially affecting the outline of Rennie's masterpiece. They also suggested that the existing railway bridge at Charing Cross should be pulled down and that a double-decker bridge to carry passengers, road traffic and the railway should be erected in its place—incidentally, I think that bridge would have been very ugly indeed—and that the site of Charing Cross Station should be moved somewhat to the East., On investigation by experts it was found that the estimate of the cost by the Lee Commission for. these improvements was at least 35 to 40 per cent. under what it really was, and their £8,000,000 was easily swollen to £12,600,000. I had, as Minister of Transport, to consider that question in conjunction with the County Council, who 1507 behaved extremely well in the matter. If I had been a member of the County Council and, in the exercise of the rights given me by Parliament had decided that a certain bridge was to be pulled down, I should have felt inclined to be a little resentful if the Minister of Transport came in and suggested that I should not exercise my rights and should stay my hand. But all the members agreed to wait for an investigation by an expert committee of engineers, of which the County Council's chief engineer was a member, to see, after expert investigation, whether the recommendation of the Lee Commission could really be carried out. They found that they could not carry it out as there were grave structural difficulties in the way of moving the station to the East, and that a double-decker bridge would not add beauty to the landscape, and they also came to the conclusion that the estimated cost would not be £8,000,000 but round about £12,000,000 or £13,000,000.
It seemed to me and my advisers that we should explore further, and see whether it was not possible on this occasion, with this opportunity, to do something that has been the dream of lovers of London and the improvement of London for 20 or 30 years, namely, to remove Charing Cross Railway Station, lock, stock and barrel, right away from where it stands at present, and re-erect it on the south side of the river, because, after all—it is not the fault of the Southern Line-no one could say Charing Cross Station, as it stands at present, is beautiful. It is a most lugubrious building. It looks, in my opinion, like a rather dilapidated aerodrome, and the pity is that this ugly building stands on so valuable site. On further investigation, we found that the removal was possible, and we approached the Southern Railway Company. Here, again, I received nothing but help from the chairman and directors and their general manager. After all, it was a rather big request to make to the company, immersed as it was in the electrification of their line, passing through bad times in the way of traffic, that they should add to their enormous burdens the investigation of the problem of moving one of their stations to a new site, estimating what the loss would be and, above all, facing the possible unpopularity that they would incur from 1508 the travellers on their Charing Cross section who might say, and some of whom did say, they would be hurt by having the station put on the south side of the river, because they would have to walk some considerable distance further than at present.
I need not go into the prolonged negotiations that took place, but finally, having got the expert opinion of the company, I decided, with the consent of the Government as a whole, that the only possible site for the new station was the one that is now scheduled in the Bill. The Waterloo Junction site was impossible for various reasons. The first was that it would not enable the railway to work properly and, what is still more important, the passengers would have to walk much further than if they were taken to the bank of the river. If we agree, as I think the majority of Members do, that it is a good thing to remove Charing Cross Station to the other side of the river, there is every advantage in placing it on a site overlooking the river. In the first place, the distance the passengers would have to walk, or ride in omnibus or taxicab, is reduced by 600 yards. In the next place, the passengers delivered there are, or will be when the escalators are made, in a position to get to the tube railway far more easily than if the site was at Waterloo Junction. As to the objection of the hon. Member for the Combined Universities that the station must be an ugly thing, I cannot conceive why a railway station planned by an eminent architect, with steps running down to the front of the river, should not only be ugly but should not be a great addition to the view of the South of London from the north bank. As regards traffic;, this is really a London matter. At present, the traffic from north to south is gravely hampered. If Westminster Bridge failed, with Waterloo Bridge more or less out of the picture I do not know how London life would be carried on. It is absolutely essential that we should have a new road bridge somewhere in this region to take the traffic from north to south.
It is said that no one supports this scheme. I submit that the people who support this scheme are very numerous and very important In the first place, it has the support of the London County Council, which represents 8,000,000 people, and is the great governing autho 1509 rity in the metropolitan area. It has the support of His Majesty's Government as represented by the Minister of Transport. It is supported by the Southern line; it is supported by the Underground line; it is supported by the omnibus companies, and last, but not least, it is warmly supported by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bewdley (Mr. S. Baldwin). He authorises me to inform the House that, if he had not had an important engagement, he would have come here and not only have voted but would have spoken. With all those authorities in favour of this scheme, who would be against it? We have a certain number of what I call learned societies who I should have thought would have assisted this scheme and not have criticised it. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why?"] For this reason. You may say it is not a complete improvement. Surely it will not be contended by anybody that it will not be an immense improvement on the present condition of things in London.
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
Why does the right hon. Gentleman expect that these learned societies, as he called them, should support him?
§ Colonel ASHLEY
Because learned societies, I understand, are in favour of the improvement of London. This scheme would improve London. It would open up that dreary area round Waterloo Station, The whole of that space in 20 or 30 years' time, if the plans of the county council are carried out—and I have no reason to think that they will not be carried out—will be covered, not by mean dwellings two storeys high, but by fine buildings. We shall have the completion of the County Hall itself. We shall probably have a fine hotel built there for the accommodation of the large number of people who arrive there from Southampton. We shall have this fine railway station there. I understand that the London County Council will see to it, having acquired this land, that nothing but fine buildings are erected there. My hon. Friend the Member for the Combined Universities has made a great point of saying that we were sterilising the development of one square mile. How can that square mile be developed unless there is access to it and unless this bridge is built?
1510 Finally, I must put this point very strongly. This is primarily a traffic improvement of London. With the traffic improvement and the main line station laid down, I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Transport will only be too anxious to do all that he can to beautify the scheme. How could the Minister of Transport allocate 75 per cent. of the total cost of £12,500,000 for anything other than transport and traffic considerations? He could not give £9,000,000 purely for aesthetic considerations. This £9,000,000 which the Road Fund is to find is given to transport, and transport first, second and third. After that, we will do what we can to make the scheme as beautiful as possible from the aesthetic point of view. Surely, also, the London ratepayer is finding £3,250,000 in order that the traffic in the great metropolis can be improved.
We are not unmindful of the aesthetic considerations. Over a year ago Sir Edwin Lutyens was asked, by me as a matter of fact, to advise on this scheme. Sir Edwin Lutyens is known as the most eminent man in the profession, a Royal Academican, an architect, and a man who laid out the new Delhi, a man whose name is a household word. I carefully considered the matter, and I could not think of anybody better qualified to advise the Minister of Transport and the Government. He has taken the greatest care and every precaution in regard to this proposal. As this proposal is supported by all the authorities which I have named and the Government have taken every care over the aesthetic considerations, I beg and pray of the House to give the Bill a Second Reading. Objections can perfectly well be heard upstairs, and, although I have no authority to speak for them, I know, from my knowledge of the London County Council, that legitimate questions or any suggestions for improvements will be readily adopted by them when the Bill is considered in Committee upstairs.
§ Mr. SCURR
Before I address myself to the subject which we are discussing, there is one thing which I should like to say. I feel that I am speaking on behalf of all the Members of this side of the House as well as on behalf of hon. Members on the other side when I express the very sincere regret we all feel on hearing of the illness of the hon. Member 1511 for the Combined Universities (Sir M. Conway). I hope that we have not in any sense of the word heard his last speech to-day and that in many years to come he will be able to stand in his place in this House and admit the mistake he has made this evening in opposing this bridge. Are we discussing the question as to whether we are to have a bridge at Charing Cross, or are we discussing the question of the general town planning of the whole of London? I have been rather puzzled in following the statements of the hon. Members who Moved and Seconded the rejection of this Bill. As far as the hon. Gentleman the Member for Belfast South (Mr. W. Stewart) who seconded the Amendment, is concerned—and we congratulate him on his maiden speech—he seemed to be much more concerned with some plans for providing a central railway station for London, and he gave us a good number of statistics regarding Liverpool Street, Marylebone, and other stations of that kind. No doubt they were very interesting, but, after all, Marylebone and Liverpool Street are not Charing Cross, and it is the traffic considerations of Charing Cross with which we are concerned this evening.
It must be emphasised—and I want to follow the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Christchurch (Colonel Ashley) in that regard—that the whole of this question has been raised because of the condition of "Waterloo Bridge. Waterloo Bridge cannot remain in the condition in which it is to-day for very long. It is a very expensive liability to the London County Council at the present time and is always giving them a considerable amount of alarm when they have the report of their engineer concerning it. If the governors of London had been allowed to do what they desired, we should have simply pulled Waterloo Bridge down and rebuilt it with six lines of traffic which we thought would have been essential for dealing with the traffic problem. I was a member of the London County Council at the time this question was being considered, and it had practically the unanimous support of the council irrespective of party. But someone came along, and they discovered that London, whatever else it possessed, possessed a great architectural masterpiece, namely, 1512 Waterloo Bridge, and, as a result of the agitation which was begun, the late Prime Minister appointed a Royal Commission.
We have heard that this question is one which has come up after only very cursory consideration. There has not been time enough we are told to consider all the questions involved. This question has been before the public of London for the last 30 years. How much longer are we going to wait? Are we to wait another two generations before we can decide? Are we going to keep that ugly thing which we call Hungerford Bridge? I venture to suggest that the London County Council have given adequate consideration to every possible point in connection with the bridge. Their point was that the traffic problem could have been dealt with by rebuilding Waterloo Bridge. The County Council has been informed practically by Parliament that this is not to be the solution, and it has to turn to the other solutions What other solution could it bring forward? It has consulted with the Ministry of Transport, and has examined the 30 or more schemes put forward. Some of these are very beautiful on paper, but I am very much inclined to think that the gentlemen concerned, and the various societies who have issued a pamphlet to us, know very little about the navigation difficulties. I am sorry that my hon. Friend the Member for Whitechapel (Mr. Gosling) is not able to be in his place, because there is no man in this House who has so much knowledge of the navigation of the River Thames. If he were here he would support me in saying that the majority of the schemes put forward, pretty as they are on paper, are absolutely impossible from the navigation point of view. After all, even if we are considering the traffic on the roads of London, we also have to consider traffic on that great waterway the River Thames.
Then there is the question of placing the railway station on the other side of the river. It is perfectly true that the Southern Railway was in no sense enamoured of that scheme. The directors of the Southern Railway Company say, "Here will be a considerable expenditure, and what are our shareholders going to get in return for it?" That is the point of view they have got to take as directors, and, as far as they are concerned, they can get no 1513 benefit from it at all. They say "Leave us alone," but London does not want them left alone, because of that ugly bridge which spans the Thames at the present time at Hungerford. Therefore the Southern Railway Company, in the interests of the people of London, have met the wishes of the Ministry of Transport and the London County Council and an agreement has been entered into. If you look at the plan and consider all the questions involved, finance, architecture, engineering and so on, you will find that, broadly speaking, the plan in the proposals which are now before the House is the best plan which has been proposed. Every consideration has been given to the traffic question. I was rather astounded in the earlier part of the Debate to hear of the very curious way in which one could get from the City to the other side of the river. I should think my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland (Mr. A. Smith) would be quite pleased to know that the taxicab drivers, whom he represents in London so well, were able to get Scotland Yard to sanction the route which the hon. Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison) put forward. I fear they would not receive encomiums for their knowledge of London.
All traffic considerations have been considered. We have to bear in mind that it is absolutely impossible, first of all on account of the fact that we have these tubes under the river east and west of the present bridge, to consider any other site except approximately the site of Hungerford Bridge. The tubes are too near to the bed of the river to make it at all possible to build over the top of them. Further than that it would mean that we should have to go over at a high level. We do not want to pour any more traffic on to the Embankment, because there is already quite sufficient. A certain amount of fun has been made over roundabouts, but, really, I do not see any reason why we should make fun of them, because they have added very considerably to the traffic facilities of London. With what is proposed under this plan I feel absolutely certain you will find that the traffic difficulty has been dealt with in a way which will be beneficial to the people of London. Of course, if we had unlimited millions and unlimited time at our disposal, it would be perfectly possible to town-plan the whole of London, 1514 but if we were to begin that, I should not be so much concerned with places round about Westminster as with re-planning places in the East End of London, where it is more necessary to have beauty than at the centre of the City. So far as the architectural and beauty side of this is concerned, surely the pledge which the London County Council has publicly given, and which has been issued on their behalf in support of the Second Reading of the Bill, will be sufficient to convince everyone that this great London authority is quite prepared to pay every attention to all the aesthetic conditions which have to be considered. They say:Within the limits of the present proposals the Council will willingly consider any suggestion for the best possible architectural treatment of the scheme and the appropriate Committee of the Council have decided, if the present Bill becomes law, to recommend the Council to throw open to competition the designs of the main features of the scheme, including the new bridge and viaducts and circuses in the Strand and Waterloo Road.I feel certain that gives every possible pledge, and it ought to remove every fear of those who think we are going to try to create something ugly for the people of London. Therefore, from the traffic, engineering, architectural and other points of view I consider this Bill should have a Second Reading and should go upstairs, where the details will be considered, and I am confident that this House will feel the greatest satisfaction in having brought about a very great improvement for London.
§ Sir KENYON VAUGHAN-MORGAN
I rise to support the Second Reading of the Bill, having been asked to act for the London County Council in this respect. I will not, if I can avoid it, go over the grounds which have already been covered by my hon. and learned Friend (Sir W. Greaves-Lord), nor will I repeat what the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Scurr) so effectively expressed. I will try rather to meet some of the very general objections which the hon. Member for the Combined Universities (Sir M. Conway) put with such a large measure of condemnation of the Bill. I share with him the honour of belonging to London, and I give way neither to him nor to any other hon. Member in my affection for this great City, and my desire to see it improved, beautified and rendered far nearer what we should regard as the ideal 1515 than it is at the present day; but I contend that this great London improvement, which London has signified through its accredited and senior authorities, its willingness to lend its hand to, to say nothing of its resources, deserves the support of everyone who has genuinely at heart the welfare of our City.
The hon. Member for the Combined Universities pointed as an alternative to the proposal to build a main thorough fare across the chord of the arc, from Westminster to London Bridge. That is an interesting proposal, and if he will look at the map, and study the proposals which are already in partial execution by the London County Council, he will see that such a thoroughfare is in the course of being provided. The great improvements on the Surrey side which the County Council has in hand, including the improvements at the Elephant and Castle, the improvements which will result from the building of this bridge, the widening of Oakley Street, the building of Lambeth Bridge and the improvement of the exits from where that bridge lands, all tend in the direction desired by the hon. Member.
With regard to the proposals of the hon. Member who seconded the Amendment, I share with him the desire that the railways which at present obstruct the free passage of traffic on the Surrey shore might be put underground, but even Charing Cross, much as we may condemn it, deals with 20,000,000 passengers per annum, and the other stations that have been mentioned add their quota to the vast numbers who come in and leave the City every day. If we are to wait until a practical scheme can be adopted and passed we shall have to wait far too long, almost metaphorically until doomsday, far longer than we can afford to wait, and far longer than we have a right to condemn the traffic conditions of London to continue in their present state.
We are making a start. The Southern Railway have agreed to move their station. That is a step in the right direction. From the traffic point of view, whatever advantage there may be from the town planning point of view, the removal of the station further from the present site to Waterloo Junction would not be as convenient as the proposal in the Bill. There we shall have a con 1516 venient point of access to three tubes at present, and four tubes in the future. I should like, particularly, to refer to the improvement that will take place on the northern or Middlesex side at the termination of the proposed bridge and roadway, where it joins the Strand. There it is proposed that there shall be a traffic circus, giving access to all points of the compass, and acting as a diffuser of traffic conveniently to the north or to the east. At that circus there will be a tube railway station, combining all the advantages at present attaching to the new Piccadilly Circus station, and many other advantages suggested by the experience already gained. So well do the London Electric Railway companies view this scheme that they are prepared, at their own expense, to develop this great underground combined tube railway centre. I would refer also to the fact that, whereas criticism has been offered with regard to the scheme that it does not pour traffic into Trafalgar Square, one of the advantages that it will possess is that it will by-pass Trafalgar Square and carry traffic to the north by a number of existing thoroughfares, and will be more easily accessible from the point to which I have referred.
Objections have been raised from the Westminster City Council on this particular matter, but I think it can be said, with a fair degree of authority, that before this bridge is completed, and it is bound to take time, plans will be approved and ready for carrying out to improve the ingress to and egress from the traffic centre towards the north. Whether those improvements take the form of widening Charing Cross Road and St. Martin's Lane, or whether they take the form, which I would rather see, of a development to the east, coupled perhaps with the removal of Covent Garden from its present site, there is certainly a great opportunity for development, and it would be a fallacy to suppose that the London County Council or the Ministry of Transport would not take full advantage of the opportunities presented. As a Londoner who is fairly familiar with the district which we are discussing, I might mention, for the benefit of those to whom it is not quite so familiar, the great problem that is presented in dealing with the matter because of the variations in levels. It is for that reason that we have to have a high level bridge. 1517 Whatever conveniences and advantages might attach to a bank to bank bridge, you cannot have them, because, for one thing, it would be difficult to meet the navigation requirements, and you would also have to alter the level of the embankment. If you desired to provide access to Northumberland Avenue you would have to destroy half of that thoroughfare. No bank to bank bridge which intended to provide access to Northumberland Avenue could do so without the practical destruction of that thoroughfare and of an immense amount of valuable property.
Another criticism that has been offered is that the scheme now proposed will involve the acquisition and destruction of certain valuable property in the Strand and immediately adjoining it, notably Coutts' Bank. Hon. Members may, perhaps, be aware that the scheme favoured by the Royal Commission involved not only the destruction of that property, but rather more property, and also interference in the churchyard of St. Martins-in-the-Fields, which, under the present scheme, is left intact. Although we cannot proceed as the hon. Member for the Combined Universities would wish, with a free hand for town planning, we desire to respect ancient monuments, and our schemes are handicapped to that extent. If one had to choose, one would seek to preserve St. Martins Church even at the expense of acquiring some valuable property a little further east.
But all that is destroyed is not lost. Property of great value will be erected on the new street sites and there will come a recoupment which we are naturally most anxious to see. I should like to reassure hon. Members who think that a large sum of money will be expended from the Road Fund on what they may regard as a purely London improvement. London itself will contribute between £3,000,000 and £4,000,000 out of the county rate. Londoners, too, are large contributors to the income of the Road Fund. If I make an estimate, I should not be exaggerating if I say that the contribution of the County of London, directly and indirectly, will amount certainly to one-third of the total cost of the scheme. That is a very large sum for London to contemplate, and if the provinces and provincial hon. Members think that the Minister of Transport is 1518 being unduly generous towards a London scheme I hope they will remember that London could hardly be persuaded to undertake its obligations towards this great proposal unless there was a reciprocal contribution on behalf of the country as a whole.
This is not only a London scheme; it is a great national improvement. The problem of London traffic by itself might be met by another scheme altogether. If, therefore, London is asked, and is willing, to contribute to and co-operate in furthering this great proposal, then London's contribution and London's share to the cost must be borne in mind and full credit allowed for it. The criticisms which have been offered to the scheme have shown a total absence of an alternative and a clear divergence of opinion among those who object to it, except those who say that it is a bad scheme because it is proposed at all. To those who object to the scheme I would say that, looking at it from the point of view of London, and that of the leaders of London government, it is a case of now or never. London has waited not 30 years, but three-quarters of a century, for the opportunity of carrying out this proposal.
A scheme of this kind was first suggested in 1854 by a Royal Commission which considered the cross river facilities which required to be provided. We have waited for just over three-quarters of a century. It is typical of London that we should have to wait so long. Do not let us lose this opportunity. It will be unwise to neglect the chance. We now have a generous contribution from London, a generous contribution from the Road Fund, the railways are willing to assist and co-operate in providing the additional facilities necessary, and it would be ungrateful to those who have given so much time and attention to working out the scheme to allow this opportunity to pass. It is folly to pretend that experts have not examined the proposal. What greater experts on traffic questions can you have than the officials of the Ministry of Transport? Who will suggest more important, more well informed, or more capable engineers than those who have been called into consultation? In these circumstances it would be ungrateful and unwise, and London as a whole is unwilling to allow this great opportunity to be lost.
§ Mr. STRAUSS
I am glad, to have the opportunity of putting one or two considerations before the House because a large part of my constituency is going to be wiped out by this Bill. The greater part of the developments which will be carried out, if the Bill goes through, will take place almost entirely in my constituency on the Surrey side of the river and, therefore, my constituents are not only interested but somewhat alarmed by the introduction of the Bill. Naturally I have been very interested in the scheme from its beginning. I have studied this proposal and almost all the others which have been put forward. I do not pretend to be an expert on architectural, engineering or traffic matters, but I have studied the criticisms of the experts and all the plans, and I have quite definitely come to the conclusion that this plan is by far the best and most practical scheme which has been put forward. I stress the word "practical." Any number of schemes have been submitted which look very pretty on paper, but they entirely ignore essential conditions such as the flow of traffic or the navigation of the river.
The scheme in the Bill will open up the south side of London which, so far, has been entirely neglected to a development which will be worthy of the site, which, after all, is in the very centre of London. We have heard a great deal about vistas and blank walls, but not a word has been said on what surely is an important matter, and that is the fate of the people who are going to be displaced. Nearly 5,000 people are going to be turned out of their present homes by the development on the south side of the river. The streets to be pulled down and replaced by the station and other streets are poor and dreary at the moment. One would think hearing some hon. Members, that a beautiful garden was to be destroyed and replaced by an ugly structure. Instead of that, it is a network of ugly miserable streets. The poor people who live there do so because it is near their work and extremely convenient. These people have been alarmed at the prospect of being sent miles away by the London County Council when they come to carry out their development plans. Many of them are night workers, many of them have to start early in the morning before there are adequate traffic facilities, and 1520 the inconvenience of going far away would be great indeed. But, even more important than that, is the fact that the extra fares which these families would be called upon to pay prove an intolerable burden to the family budget. Therefore, I have been very worried on behalf of these people, and of course they have been very much more worried than I have been. I have gone into the matter very closely with the appropriate department of the London County Council of which I happen to be a member, to see what could be done properly to safeguard their interests. I am sure that Members in all quarters of the House would like to feel sure that these people are not put to any undue hardship because of the scheme. As a result of conversations which I have had with the appropriate department and of a letter which I received yesterday, I am absolutely satisfied that the people are going to receive reasonable treatment. This is the letter:With reference to your conversation today with the Chairman of the Improvements Committee, I am directed to inform you that the provisions to be made for rehousing the persons of the working class displaced by the Charing Cross Bridge scheme will have to satisfy the Minister of Health. Arrangements have already been made which will enable provision to be made for about 1,000 persons within the Metropolitan Borough of Lambeth. I am also to give you an assurance that it is the explicit aim of the Council to secure suitable sites to provide accommodation for the balance of the number who will be displaced, within a reasonable distance of their residence or place of employment. It is not the intention to compel the persons displaced to remove outside the County of London.That is a reasonable assurance which the County Council, of course, will loyally carry out. Therefore, I submit to any hon. Members who may be doubtful about supporting the Bill that at any rate in the opinion of one who has studied the matter as a layman they need have no hesitation from the aesthetic or the practical points of view in supporting the Bill, and they will be the more willing to do so, I am sure, in the knowledge that those to be displaced are adequately safeguarded by this letter and the conversation that I have had.
§ 10.0 p.m.
§ Mr. HARRIS
I feel that I ought to say a few words about this Bill, because I have already taken a considerable part in the controversy in the palace on the other side of the river. There 1521 I have been a considerable critic of the action of those persons who are responsible for carrying through the scheme. The Royal Commission, appointed by the late Prime Minister reported in 1926. We owe him a great debt of gratitude, for it is quite clear that if there had been no Royal Commission Waterloo Bridge as we know it would have disappeared, and it is doubtful whether this particular scheme would now be before the House. For over three years there has been a lot of mystery. I asked questions of the late Minister of Transport, but nothing would draw him. There was absolute silence and unwillingness to give an expectant country any enlightenment as to what was happening. It was the same with the London County Council. For three years questions were asked, but complete secrecy prevailed. Naturally, there are plenty of busybodies about, and the silence was an encouragement to everyone with an idea or a plan to get busy. As a result we have had a great deal of creative art.
I do not know why the modest London County Council has not published the proposals. Here they are, 33 pictures, and I invite any hon. Member to study them. Not every crank, but every artist and every town-planner has created a different design and different plant. The County Council, keeping to its mysterious way under the direction of the late Minister of Transport, has confined its information to one of those small printed formal documents that we receive every other day and generally throw into the waste-paper basket. It is not surprising that because of these methods there has been a lot of opposition created. It is very easy to criticise a bridge. We all have our ideas as to what the right kind of bridge should be. Some prefer a bridge of stone, some prefer concrete, others prefer steel; some want a low level bridge and some a high-level bridge.
§ Mr. HARRIS
No doubt the right hon. Member who has interrupted has a design of his own, which in due time he will produce. He is always prepared to produce anything from up his sleeve or anywhere else. His scheme, however, is not amongst these pictures. The whole trouble has been that, while there has 1522 been plenty of criticism, there has been no unity. A very influential body of artists, architects and town-planners have signed an objection to the proposal. They have been very prolific in writing letters to the "Times." When we ask them what their alternative is they take refuge in silence. The whole difficulty of any alternative is that there is complete disunity; there is no agreement as to an alternative. I admit that I have a leaning to a particular scheme. If I had my way, if I was a Haussmann, if I were allowed to plan London in my own way, I should favour the scheme that was the result of the action of the late Prime Minister, the scheme of the Royal Commission back by Lord Lee. I considered it a good scheme. It was a good thing to preserve the railway station on the north side of the river. I was attracted to the idea of a double-decked bridge, and of a road going over the Strand, instead of traffic being poured into the Strand.
But I am conscious that just as there are artistic objections to the present scheme, so there is an even greater artistic objection to the scheme of the Royal Commission. All the criticism about viaducts and about the creation of blank walls applies equally, perhaps, to the Royal Commission's proposal. So we are forced to fall back on the scheme that is before us. It is said that "when thieves fall out honest men come into their own." When two Ministers of Transport agree, it is time for the House of Commons to be awake. Yet, although there is this curious and unhealthy conspiracy, I realise that London has waited long enough. I realise that if this Bill were rejected we should be back to the quarrels of architects and artists and there would be no agreement, and the result would be that someone else would have the £12,000,000.
I was very much impressed with the fact that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was sitting watching the Minister of Transport very closely. I wondered why he was there. I came to the conclusion that if he saw any real opposition to this proposal that £12,000,000, a nest egg, would come in very handy and go to swell the Budget. Chancellors of the Exchequer sometimes raid the Road Fund. The late Chancellor fell to that temptation. I am most anxious to protect the present Chancellor 1523 of the Exchequer from this new temptation, if this money is not practically voted to-night. I also realise that there are Members from the North, the South, the East and the West all looking for money from the Road Fund, and I think that London, which pays the highest proportion, is entitled to this money. Therefore, I say that we should let this scheme go to the Private Bills Committee, a Committee of this House which has great traditions and a Committee where the scheme will receive impartial investigation. That Committee will have the advantage of being able to cross-examine witnesses, including the architects and engineers who are, I understand, to appear to criticise the scheme. The Bill has still a long journey before it, but I think it is entitled to a Second Reading, and, in spite of my suspicions and in spite of some heart-burnings, I am going to vote for the Second Reading.
I hope that, at the same time, the House will pass an Instruction to ensure that the County Council will employ the best possible architects. This matter ought not to be left to chance. I am a great admirer of the County Council of which I have been a member for a quarter of a century, but I realise that in aesthetic matters it is rather loath to assert itself. I notice that the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Scurr) was weeping over the fact that Waterloo Bridge was not destroyed. I was one of the small minority who resisted the destruction of Waterloo Bridge. I am glad that it has been saved but that was not due to the majority on the London County Council and in this case they might be content with a cheap and nasty bridge. That would be a "penny wise pound foolish" policy. I want the best brains in the country, the best brains in the Empire, to be available for the design of this bridge. It is a great occasion and a great site in the very heart of the Empire, and the centre of its capital. Therefore I shall move an Instruction which I hope will be accepted by the promoters of the Bill and by the Minister, designed to secure that the architectural features of the bridge and viaducts shall be open for competition so as to ensure that the best brains available will be applied to the design.
§ Mr. L'ESTRANGE MALONE
I think one misconception has arisen in the minds of hon. Members which ought to be removed before we proceed with this discussion. It has arisen because hon. Members have spoken about opposing the Charing Cross Bridge scheme. I wish to make it clear that those who are opposing this Charing Cross Bridge scheme, as it is called, are not opposing the idea of a Charing Cross Bridge. Everybody is agreed that Charing Cross Station ought to be moved from the north to the south side of the river. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Those of us who are opposing the Bill are doing so because we feel that the best re-organisation has not been put into operation in the Bill, and we want to see that reorganisation considered before we give a Second Reading to the Bill. The late Minister of Transport said that it was an ordinary Private Bill and that the details could be considered upstairs but I submit that it is not an ordinary Private Bill. It involves a sum of £15,000,000, a large proportion of which is to be raised through the medium of this House. A very large proportion is being found from the Road Fund and transferred by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Therefore the House has a great responsibility in regard to the Bill.
So little consideration, so little preparation has been given by the London County Council to the Bill, that they come before the House for a Second Reading without having prepared a model of the scheme. If one were going to build a ship, costing only a few hundreds of thousands of pounds, one would not lay a plate of it until a model had been built which designers could examine. If one were building a house costing £4,000 or £5,000, one would not lay a brick of it until a model had been built. [HON. MEMBERS: "Not at all."] Not in the case of a new design. But to-night this revolutionary scheme involving £15,000,000 is presented and they have not taken the trouble to prepare a model of it. It is not appropriate to discuss all the technical arguments on the Floor of the House, but the gravamen of the charge against the Bill is that it is promoted as a transport Measure and not even as a general transport Measure, but as a rail transport Measure, first and foremost in the interests of the railway companies. Road 1525 transport interests, town planning interests and housing interests have been ignored. The hon. Member for North Lambeth (Mr. Strauss) in whose constituency most of the work will take place, has gone into the scheme, but I should like to feel assured that learned bodies such as the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Town Planning Institute have been fully consulted as well as the Westminster City Council and the council of the area represented by the hon. Member for North Lambeth.
There are two big questions which are typical of the technical opposition to the Bill. First there is the desirability of an east and west arterial road South of the Thames. Stamford Street could be used as a great east and west arterial road leading from this part of London to the City, but if the present scheme is proceeded with, any idea of that development will be stopped. There has been some talk about the danger of disgorging the traffic from the North end of the bridge on to the Embankment where there is already so much traffic, but is there no traffic along the Strand? I ask any hon. Member who has tried to go along the Strand in a humble omnibus whether there is any traffic there or not? But under this proposal, the whole of the traffic from the South of London is going to be disgorged into the middle of the Strand. There is a very much more important question, however, and that is the question of subsidies. There is nothing in the Bill to indicate what subsidies are going to be paid, and I hope that before we give a Second Reading to the Bill, we shall be told something about the nature of the subsidies to be paid out of the £10,000,000 which this House is asked to vote. What subsidy, for example, is to be paid to the Lion Brewery Company and the other big interests that will benefit under this Bill?
Then there is the question, lastly, of unemployment. It will be argued by those who are responsible for this Bill that we must push on with this Measure in order to provide employment for many unemployed men. At the most, this Bill can only provide work for 6,000 men over a long period of years. What we are concerned with is the whole trade and commerce of London, and if this Bill does not provide a satisfactory solution for the reorganisation of the road traffic in 1526 the centre of the Metropolis, the employment of very many more men than those who are going to be employed under this Bill will be concerned. Therefore, I suggest that, before this House gives a Second Reading to a Bill which is going to expend £15,000,000 of public money, £10,000,000 of which is going out of the Exchequer, it ought to be referred to a Select Committee, and I urge the Minister to move that as an Amendment to the Amendment, and to see further that this Bill is not considered by a Committee until a proper model and proper plans have been prepared.
§ The MINISTER of TRANSPORT (Mr. Herbert Morrison)
The House has listened to a fairly complete statement for and against the Second Reading of this Bill. Both the present Government and, as the late Minister of Transport has said, the late Government are very much involved in this Bill, and therefore I hope the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. G. Balfour), when he reads that I have been supporting this Bill definitely on behalf of the Government, will forgive me taking a clear and definite side on the question of a private Bill. It is to the credit of the late Minister of Transport that he has stated his own position perfectly clearly, and that, notwithstanding the controversy, he has not in any way shifted from the position which he took up in the last Administration; and in view of the particularly heavy responsibilities of the late Prime Minister in the situation which culminated in a decision not, at that time at any rate, to demolish Waterloo Bridge and to open the whole question of Charing Cross Bridge, and having regard to the controversy which now exists, it is to the credit and the honour of the late Prime Minister that he has authorised the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to say to-night that he definitely supports this Bill and that, if he had been in the House, he would have spoken in support of it.
There has been in the newspaper Press a very great deal of controversy, not so much in the more popular newspapers, but from the heavy guns of the "Times" newspaper. I am afraid there is an idea that if a letter appears on the leader page of the "Times" newspaper, there is something so sacrosanct about that journalistic position that it is conclusive 1527 and that it must be so. With great respect, I cannot accept that view. A letter must be judged upon its merits, whether it appears on the leader page of the "Times" newspaper, or whether it is a letter from a late Liberal Minister on the Empire Crusade appearing on the front page of the "Daily Express." And, really, the attempt to decide great engineering, traffic, and architectural questions by a newspaper controversy—I do not resent that controversy at all, and the more of it that can go on, the better I like it—must not be regarded as conclusive, and this House to-night has the responsibility of settling the fundamentals of this question on the Bill which is now before it.
It is said that the Bill is bad from a whole series of points of view. It is said that it is a hopeless Bill from the point of view of traffic. There have been a series of alternative schemes, if many of them can be called schemes, because so many of them have been produced without a knowledge of the engineering facts upon which we must work in this or any other scheme. Quite a number of these schemes traverse the Embankment, not upon the level, but by an overhead bridge; therefore, when it is said by hon. Members that this scheme must be wrong, because you cannot get from the bridge to the Embankment, I would remind them that some of the schemes that have been proposed as alternatives go over the Embankment. Suppose that we go on to the Embankment. It is extraordinary that people should stand up and expect to be listened to for one moment as traffic experts, and ask us to consider a proposal to bring the traffic from the bridge right on to the Thames Embankment, thus impeding the east-to-west traffic. The Embankment is one of the most important fast-moving routes for that east-to-west London traffic, and a bridge which would interrupt that flow of traffic is really not worth serious consideration.
What does it mean? As the hon. Member for Norwood (Sir W. Greaves-Lord) says, it means that you would have to lift the Embankment to the level of the bridge, because, unfortunately, ships must go under the bridge, and all the pretty lines will not solve that problem. The Embankment would have to be lifted, 1528 and the tramways would have to go under the bridge head. I cannot believe that the House of Commons would take anybody seriously as a traffic expert who made proposals and suggestions of that kind. A traffic problem is not going to be settled by mere superficial thinking about traffic requirements. We have in the Ministry of Transport far better traffic experts than exist anywhere else. The House of Commons must really face that, because the House of Commons are paying us to do the work, and we are doing it pretty well. We are doing it exceptionally well at the present moment, and really, when it is said that there is no expert opinion behind this scheme, I am sure that the late Minister of Transport will agree with me—[An HON. MEMBER: "What about town planning?"] I am coming to that; I have been following that for many years, and I am very interested in it. I am sure that the late Minister of Transport will agree with me that when it comes to experts on the question of London traffic, we can both claim with due modesty that you will not get any experts superior to the combined officers of the Ministry of Transport and the London County Council. I submit that with every confidence to the House. We happen to know what the needs are.
It was made a great grievance that we were not going to allow the traffic to go over the new bridge, across the Embankment and up Northumberland Avenue into Trafalgar Square. That was an objection put forward by people who, for some curious reason, are described as traffic experts. What are the facts? The number of vehicles going up Northumberland Avenue into Trafalgar Square now number 1,035 per hour. We estimate that by 1940, by which time the new bridge should be built, 1,635 vehicles will go up there. There was an increase in four years of 25 per cent. in the number of vehicles going up Northumberland Avenue. Can I ignore that fact? These alleged experts come along with all the confidence in the world and say, "Now let us get some more stuff up Northumberland Avenue, and have direct access from the bridge to Northumberland Avenue." Take Trafalgar Square. We have a merry-go-round in Trafalgar Square, otherwise know as a roundabout. The hon. Member for the Combined Universities (Sir M. Conway), whom we are glad to 1529 see with us to-night—and I join with my hon. Friend the Member for Mile End (Mr. Scurr) in the hope that we shall see him here for many years longer—said he did not like roundabouts, but there is no doubt that they have been very conducive to the freer flow of London's traffic.
But Trafalgar Square is no easy problem. If hon. Members doubt it, let them have a go at it by driving a vehicle through it themselves. It is fairly well congested. On the west side of the square the north bound traffic reaches to 1,050 vehicles an hour and is estimated to reach the figure of 1,348 in 1940. On the north side of the square east bound traffic reaches 2,263 vehicles an hour, and it is estimated that it will reach 3,063 in 1940. And so one goes on. It is perfectly obvious that what we have to do is not to encourage additional traffic coming up Northumberland Avenue into Trafalgar Square, but to discourage it. We may have an isolated case of some one with a car at the National Liberal Club wanting to get on to Charing Cross Bridge in order to get somewhere else. [Interruption.] I am not pulling anyhody's leg, but I have seen the hon. Member for Leith (Mr. E. Brown) over there, and. I have it in mind that he might want to do this journey. It is true that he could sail up Northumberland Avenue and into the Square, or go into Whitehall and get into the Square that way, and go round the top, by the new merry-go-round and get on to the new bridge in that way; but the journey from the National Liberal Club to the new bridge will be safeguarded.
But what will happen when a person wants to get from the south of the river to Trafalgar Square? He need not go over Charing Cross Bridge at all—that is not compulsory, it is still a free country.—and he can go over Westminster Bridge and up Whitehall. All I say is if he wants to get from the New Cut or the Waterloo Road or the Westminster Bridge Road and to go up North—not necessarily West into Piccadilly or the Haymarket, but North—up St. Martin's Lane way—as a lot of traffic does, I say with every respect that I do not want him in Trafalgar Square or Northumberland Avenue, and I am going to make him go somewhere else. That is the proper thing to 1530 do. [Interruption.] Certainly let him go another way if he wants to, and if he can find it, but I am going to make it difficult.
We have been told that we must accept the criticisms as conclusive. Lo and behold we were circularised by various people, who said that traffic experts had told them that there must be free access between this bridge and the Thames Embankment. I should be glad if anybody would introduce me to those experts because their idea is totally wrong. There has been a good deal of talk about the tunnels involved in this scheme. If a road is of insufficient width it does not make it any more difficult to get through because there is a covering on the top. of it, because the space for getting through is exactly the same, and yet this has been put forward as one of the traffic objections to the scheme. Then it has been argued that these tunnels must be dark because they are covered. Has anybody ever heard of electric flood lighting. By this means you can make a place like the scene which you see in Aladdin and the sort of thing you see in the pantomime.
Has nobody ever heard of electric lighting? Why, we can make these tunnels if we like a thing of attraction; and even a thing of beauty. My hon. Friend the Member for South West Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris) is quite right when he insists that every pains should be taken to make the very best we can out of the scheme and make these places beautiful. Has anybody been to High Street, Kensington Station, through the arcade at the shop of Derry and Tome. I am quite aware that we are bound to disagree upon these matters. I rather like the arcade of which I have spoken not because of the ladies clothes that are displayed there—[Interruption.]—I gave that arcade simply as an illustration and it may be that what I have just stated offends my hon. Friend. A covered way can be made attractive and needs not be such an ugly thing. As a matter of fact what have been described as tunnels are not tunnels at all in the ordinary sense; they are not burrowings under the earth; they are only covered ways which are necessary because we want a station in a certain place and these places must be covered up. I have been asked why under this scheme we do not amalgamate 1531 the old South Western station and the South Eastern station. Unfortunately the angles of the rails are very sharp and you cannot join them up and consequently it is not practicable to amalgamate those two stations. There is no room for shunting or the reversing of the trains.
A number of hon. Members have asserted that we have to get an East-to-West route South of the Thames. My hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland (Mr. A. Smith) as an old London cab-driver will agree with me that it is surprising how relatively few people know that there is already a much more effective way of getting from the County Hall to London Bridge Station than going over Westminster Bridge, along the Embankment, and so on. Taxi-men know it, because they always take the shortest route in order that they may charge their passengers the minimum fare. Even now, you can go through York Road and Stamford Street, over Blackfriars Road, and along another street, the name of which I forget at the moment, crossing Southwark Bridge Road, up to the Hop Exchange, and there you are. All this time the hon. Member for the Combined Universities has been wanting to know the best way. I give him the free tip that that is the best way now, and it can be made a much better and a much clearer way perfectly consistently with the scheme which is now before the House.
The House must face one or two central facts. The first is that we have not only to consider the convenience of the railway company, although, after all, even the Southern Railway Company must live—[An HON. MEMBER: "Why"] Really, hon. Members do not live there, or they would know. The Southern Bail-way, with its suburban electric service, is a very important line indeed, and the time when you can make too many jokes about the Southern Railway is rapidly going. I use that line myself, and appreciate it. That company has certainly no right to block everything and hold up everything else. Parliament can make the Southern Railway do anything that it likes, as it can make anybody do anything that it likes. Parliament is supreme. But Parliament knows that everytime it makes a private under-taking 1532 do something that it does not like, it increases the Bill for compensation, and that is a factor that we have in mind. The company has the right to say, and its passengers have the right to say, that they do not want to be left at York Road, but want to be brought as near to the existing Charing Cross Station as possible; and the fact that the tube station is there, and not at York Road, and the fact' that the omnibus park can be there, and not so conveniently at York Road, are considerations on traffic grounds which have been in the minds of the Government and of the London County Council in considering this matter. As a matter of fact, the putting back of the station would not of necessity reduce the amount of viaduct; it might, indeed, increase it.
Reference has been made to the town planning aspect of the matter. There is in existence a Greater London Town Planning Joint Committee. I was a member of it for a year. It is a young body, and has not yet had a great deal of experience of town planning in Greater London, and it has no executive powers. It must be remembered that the town planning authority for the London County area is the London County Council itself, and I am confident that the London County Council is paying due regard to town planning considerations. But what some of the town planners seem to want me to say is that the area of this scheme is hopelessly insufficient, that we might go a long way farther out and cover a bigger area. Some of them even have their eye on Surrey and on Tottenham. If we had an unlimited purse. I should not mind having my eye on the universe, and town planning that, if I had the necessary powers; but we have not an unlimited purse. I do not know whether the House realises that there is already £12,500,000 of public money in this scheme, and at one blow that is not a bad expenditure for the improvements that we are going to get.
I can assure the House that there is nothing in the present scheme which prohibits further improvements on the south side of the river, as time goes on, and all of us will do our best to further those improvements, which we agree are needed. There is, however, a limit to the Road Fund. I am not sure whether the argument of the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green was a helpful argument 1533 or not, because it was a little bit of an incitement to provincial Members to vote against the Bill, in order to get a share of the money that would thereby be released. Therefore, I hesitate to associate myself with it; but it is true that there are plenty of applicants for the Road Fund, and, really, the House must face the fact that there are limits to what we can do out of the Road Fund. We cannot spread ourselves all over London, particularly on the basis of a 75 per cent. grant which was agreed upon between the last Government and the London County Council. Already, the County Council are doing other things in South London. They have agreed a great improvement scheme in the neighbourhood of the Elephant and Castle, which is intimately connected with this scheme, and also a great improvement scheme at Vauxhall, which will be an enormous improvement, and which in some ways is more urgent than that at the Elephant and Castle. I cannot answer for the London County Council as to how much they will spend on further schemes, but we can promise the House that the Labour party on the Council will make all the efforts they can in the matter, and will push as hard as they can. The Council is already in possession of a good deal of land in that southern area between the County Hall and Waterloo, so that very great improvements will be taking place, and I do not think the House can say that the County Council is taking a narrow view of its responsibilities.
Let us examine this town planning aspect of the matter. In the first place, the scheme provides for embanking the river with a fine promenade and gardens along the river front. Next, the whole line of the river from the County Hall to Waterloo Bridge will be available for fine buildings, the designs of which, including that of the station, will have to be submitted for approval. The county council will control them. The county council intends to develop the area immediately behind the County Hall, and these improvements will be continuous with those under the present scheme and will transform the whole area from Westminster Bridge to Waterloo Road. The lay-out of the large circus in the neighbourhood of the Old Vic, now a fairly dreary spot, as planned by Sir Edwin Lutyens will 1534 be found to be in accordance with sound town planning principles both from the point of view of traffic, appearance and architectural treatment.
There has been wide misapprehension as to the use of the space between the new station and the County Hall and it has been assumed, on account of the difference in the levels, that this land could only be utilised for the construction of small properties. It is the intention of the county council to secure, by building restrictions, that these sites shall be occupied by fine buildings fronting the new roads, namely, the approach to the bridge and the road facing the river which will link the bridge-head with York Road. This will obviously afford a magnificent architectural opportunity and it is a mistake to lose sight of the great advantages of the scheme in exaggerated and largely misconceived objections to the so-called tunnels. They are really covered roads and need not be in themselves unattractive. Therefore, it is untrue that we are perpetuating slums. Many of the slums there will be cleared away. It is even alleged that we are perpetuating poverty, though how that can be alleged I do not know.
An enormous amount of trouble has been taken over the scheme. Ministers of Transport, late and present, have had their traffic experts on it and they are front rank experts on London traffic. The County Council and ourselves have had first class engineers on the work. We have had Sir George Humphreys, the chief engineer of the County Council, we have had Mr. Palmer, one of the front rank consulting engineers in the country, on the scheme and we have been assisted in other directions. Finally we have taken the great pains of retaining the services of one of the most eminent, if not the most eminent architect in the country, Sir Edwin Lutyens, and I do not think the late Minister could have done better than to retain that distinguished gentleman to advise us on the architectural lay-out. As the result of all the criticisms and all the discussions with the traffic interests, the expert engineers and so on, we have this scheme, and it is a good scheme. I ask the House to believe me. Surely one is entitled to ask the great army of critics—I do not know how many they are but some of them are very important—to produce 1535 an alternative upon which they can agree. Do they do so? Every Member of the House has had a document from the Thames Bridges Conference signed by Mr. Keen. He says explicitly that it does not advocate any alternative scheme. Does that help the House of Commons in this great difficulty? It does not assist us at ail.
The scheme, which has been produced with the greatest care, must hold the field. Our critics can only unite in saying our scheme is bad but they do not agree among themselves on an alternative. If one of them produces a scheme someone else gets up and knocks it over. That is the difficulty in which they are. Various other schemes have been suggested. Lord Lee, who rendered important service as Chairman of the Royal Commission on Cross River Traffic, urged the merits of his own scheme yesterday, but the Lee Scheme of the Royal Commission would lengthen the viaducts still more, would have given much longer viaducts than the scheme that the Ministry of Transport and the County Council propose. From the point of view of vista down the river, it is more objectionable, for it would be higher than the existing railway bridge, while our scheme will give parapets lower than the existing railway bridge, which is an important consideration. Therefore, I say that this scheme, which gives an important new route for north-to-south traffic, is vitally important, holds the field and ought to be supported by the House of Commons.
There is one other matter of considerable importance to which I wish to refer. It has been asserted that we have not taken sufficient trouble to be sure of the architectural merits of the proposals which the Government and the County Council have in view. May I suggest this fact to the House. The architect is always important and I hope that he always will be important in any scheme of London improvement, but really before you can get an architect effectively on the job, he must know his engineering and traffic limitations. With great respect, I cannot accept the architect as an expert on engineering or as an expert on traffic. I will listen to him on engineering and traffic, but other people really must be regarded as the experts. I promise the architects in return that I will not listen too much either to the 1536 engineers or to the traffic experts on architectural questions, and I know that that will please my architectural friends. The architect must be limited by the engineering and traffic essentials of a scheme. He cannot have a free hand. There must be physical limits. Sir Edwin Lutyens was brought in before the final engineering and traffic considerations were settled. I will not say that he had a free hand in this case; he did not—no architect could have—but he was consulted before these considerations were finally fixed. Therefore, when the necessarily protracted investigations had been completed, and the essential technical requirements of the problem were known, the advice of Sir Edwin Lutyens, the very eminent architect, was sought as to the possible layout of the scheme within the known requirements, and his services were in fact retained on the 15th March, 1929, by my predecessor in office.
It is important that the House should understand his position in the matter, because his position has not. been quite fairly treated in some quarters. Sir Edwin Lutyens devoted a great deal of time to the examination of the scheme, and after many discussions with the technical advisers and the promoters as to what could or could not be done under the circumstances, he prepared a set of plans showing the layout which he advised, and he signed those plans jointly with the engineers and so on. A copy of this plan has been exhibited in the Members' tea rooms for some time past. The model is not yet ready. The model is taking its normal course. I would inform my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Malone) that models are produced for the service of the Committee upstairs, and models are not much use for the mass of the Members of the House unless they are explained by technicians and subject to cross examination by lawyers. Sir Edwin Lutyens on the 1st August, 1929, wrote to Sir Henry Maybury, and in the course of his letter he said:I have no doubt that the bridge and the approaches, as we finally agreed upon, are capable of distinguished expression in their architectural treatment.Sir Edwin Lutyens adheres entirely to the view which he then expressed, and when this Bill is in Committee he will give evidence for the promoters of the Bill. 1537 I want the House to be perfectly clear as to the position of Sir Edwin in the matter. The London County Council and ourselves took the view, after the fullest exploration of the many alternatives, that the line of the present bridge would have to be followed and that the railway station on the south side would have to occupy the brewery site. I do not know whether my hon. Friend behind me was looking for the temperance vote, but be need not be worried about extravagant payments for the brewery site as the land has already been bought and is in the possession of the London County Council.
§ Mr. MALONE
I am sorry to interrupt, but may I ask what percentage of the £15,000,000 is going to be expended on compensation?
§ Mr. MORRISON
No, I cannot say, but I can assure the hon. Member that not a penny more is being spent on compensation than is necessary. You have to pay compensation. I do not want to argue the question of compensation now, but you have to pay it, and, as a matter of fact, as far as the railway company is concerned, it is mainly on a basis of reinstatement. I think the House may congratulate Sir Percy Simmons and the Council Committee on the ability with' which the negotiations were carried on. Those conditions were necessary, and Sir Edwin Lutyens was asked to accept them, as any architect would have to do. Apart from these conditions, he was entirely free. I made all this perfectly clear to an important deputation representing the Royal Institute of British Architects, the Thames Bridges Conference, and other Associations which came to see Sir Percy Simmons and myself at the Ministry of Transport before Christmas. I told them the whole position quite frankly. Since then they have said that they have discovered that Sir Edwin Lutyens was not entirely free from engineering and traffic limitations, though I had already told them so. There was nothing to hide, for it was obvious to everybody.
I think the House ought to know the kind of pressure which is being exerted in support of this agitation. Sir Edwin Lutyens was out of the country on important public work in India when this deputation was received. On his way home, when he would not have first hand knowledge of the controversy, he received a letter dated the 1538 14th January of which he has, quite properly in my judgment, taken no notice, except to place it in my hands with the request that I should make what use of it I thought proper. It is written on the official notepaper of the Royal Institute of British Architects, but whether it has the authority or represents the views of that body, I do not know. In fact I have been informed that this subject has never been on the agenda of the Council of that body. It is signed by Mr. Arthur Keen, Chairman of the Thames Bridges Conference, whose letter on the 11th of February is probably in the hands of most Members, covering a memorandum dated the 3rd of February. I want the House to remember that Sir Edwin Lutyens was retained by us as an expert architectural adviser. His relations with the Government and the London County Council must be relations in which there is complete confidence between the Government, the County Council and himself. In those circumstances, this is the letter which Mr. Keen sent on the 14th of January and which reached Sir Edwin Lutyens at Aden:
§ "Dear Sir Edwin,
§ Charing Gross Bridge.
§ The official scheme for the bridge is receiving a great deal of very damaging criticism, and the "Times," in particular, has attacked it very resolutely more than once. From every standpoint it is criticised: traffic, the interests of railway passengers, cost, time to be occupied in getting the work done, stopping the development of South London, architectural character, and so forth.
§ The Minister of Transport and Sir Percy Simmons are using your name to justify the whole thing, whereas it has really been found out that the three principal things, the position of the station, the position of the bridge, and the level of the northern approach (from the Strand and not from the Embankment) were given to you as unalterable items in the scheme. We believe, also, that it was settled that the southern approach should start at the New Cut.
§ In my judgment your reputation is suffering by your name being identified with a scheme that is very severely criticised in print, and I suggest that you should do something about it. Could you not write to me or to the President, R.I.B.A., to say that you had no free hand, but that the items mentioned were already settled? I feel sure that the Bill will be rejected in Parliament, and if we could publish a few lines from you "—1539
Let the House remember this is to the adviser to the Government and the County Council—
stating that in all essentials the lay-out was settled without reference to you, it would be a good thing for you as well as for us who are opposing the Bill.
I will read the last part of the letter again:
I feel sure that this Bill will be rejected in Parliament, and if we could publish a few lines from you stating that in all essentials the lay-out was settled without reference to you, it would be a good thing for you as well as for us who are opposing the Bill.
§ I venture to say that that is a most improper letter, and that Sir Edwin Lutyens took the proper course in placing it in my hands, unanswered, and telling me that I could do what I liked with it. I have done what I liked with it. I thought the House of Commons ought to know the kind of tactics that are being employed and the kind of pressure that is being exerted in this matter. It is a wrong letter to have sent to an eminent architect who had been retained by the Government and the London County Council to advise them on this question, and I am sure that the majority of the House will agree with me in objecting to its being sent.
§ This scheme has been born after much anxious thought. It has been worked out very carefully, and I suggest to the House that we are not likely to get a better one. If we reject the scheme the London County Council will be entirely freed from their understanding with the late Government, that they were to retain Waterloo Bridge and build Charing Cross Bridge. If the House rejects the present scheme, that agreement ceases and the County Council—and indeed the Government—is free not to build a new bridge at Charing Cross, to pull down Waterloo Bridge and build a new bridge or do whatever they may wish to do. It would be serious to reject this carefully thought out scheme. There are the unemployment aspects. It is true that the preparations will take time, but the House ought not lightly to reject a Bill which will mean employment for a considerable number of persons. The Bill has not been certified. I asked the Lord Privy Seal not to certify it, be- 1540 cause that might be regarded as unfair pressure from our side, and we thought that we ought not to put it upon that basis. There are, however, unemployment aspects to be considered. Upon its merits, however, because there is no agreed alternative, and for all the reasons that I have given, I hope the House will not only give the Bill a majority, but a very definite majority, so that they will approve the general principle of the Bill, leaving it to a Committee upstairs to examine the Bill in detail and to modify it if they can find room for improvement in a scheme which I believe to be fundamentally sound.
§ Mr. MILLS
I have listened to this Debate, and I have listened to the Minister of Transport. When he first took on the job it was reckoned that the mantle of John Burns had fallen upon him as a great Londoner, but I have listened in vain to hear whether this scheme is a really tangible proposal for dealing with the problem of London as a whole. I want to speak on behalf of thousands of working men and working women, including my own family, who have to come from as far away as Chatham and Gravesend and who are at the mercy of the Southern Railway and a southern outlet, without even considering the possible pressure that can be brought to bear on the existing means of access by underground traction. At the present time we have New Cross Gate terminus, New Cross South-Eastern terminus underground railway, the Elephant and Castle terminus of the underground railway, and all that this Bill will do will be to add to the congestion already apparent at the Elephant and Castle, above ground. Is the House aware that traffic from London Bridge, Southwark Bridge, Waterloo Bridge, Blackfriars Bridge, Westminster Bridge and Vauxhall Bridge, all converge on the Elephant and Castle. I have heard a lot about underground traffic but the South side of the river has always been the Cinderella of the Metropolis in this respect. It has never been considered, and until the possibility of underground traffic in this area has been thought out, we have a right to ask what is going to be done. You talk about replacement and compensation; what about reinstatement?
What is the history of the attack upon Woolwich—where I have been an alder 1541 man and councillor—and upon Poplar and East Ham? In the jigsaw puzzle which you call London—it is not our fault; it is due to private enterprise—you have carved up blocks of houses in the centre of the ground that they were insanitary and replaced them with huge offices and banks, head offices and stores. The people have been forced into the districts outside, into Woolwich and East Ham. In the old days the cry was that Parliament had guaranteed that they should have workman's fares at 2d. a day. You could go any distance, from the Bank to Shepherd's Bush, for 2d. But to-day the skilled engineer has to pay 9s. per week to get to and from his work. I am not against the improvement of London traffic, but if London's traffic is to be improved we want safeguards against the removal of the population to the ends of London unless you preserve the spending value of their wages. That is the point upon which I intend to insist.
If hon. Members take a bird's eye view of the seven bridges of London they will get an idea of the problem, for all of them converge on the Elephant and Castle. That is all due to the obstinacy of the London Electric Company, with Lord Ashfield behind them. They will not listen to any proposal for the extension of the Southern Railway or the Underground Railway in order to carry-workers from the South of London into the heart of the City. They stop at the two termini, one at New Cross and the other within half a mile of that spot, and here are the people streaming from the trains and wanting to get into the heart of London. I think every hon.
§ Member ought to do a workman's journey, either night or morning, in order to get some idea of the conditions. I submit that the working-class population have had their earnings impaired by the extra cost of travelling and their hours have been added to by the time which they have to spend in travelling. This will simply extend the problem. If you shift 1,000 people from this area in Southwark, what are you going to do with them? Have you guaranteed to build tenements for them? Are you going to push them into Kent and Surrey? What is our rateable value in Woolwich? We have to spend 1s. 2d. in the £ to get the equivalent of a 1d. rate in Westminster, and then the millionaire press accuse us of extravagance because our rates are higher than those of Westminster. This is a problem which ought not to be dismissed without looking at it from all aspects. As we have embarked upon the underground method of travel as a means of dealing with London traffic, let us carry the principle further and use it as a means of lessening the congestion and as a means of bringing in our people. When you have done that carry on with your terminus south of the Thames, where a wealthy passenger can take a taxicab. That sort of thing is all very well for the person coming from the Continent, but I have in mind the tens of thousands of people who are coming up to their work in the City and who have a right to be safeguarded.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 230; Noes, 62.1543
|Division No. 171.]||AYES.||[11.6 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Bromfield, William||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Brown, C. W. E. (Notts. Mansfield)||Dawson, Sir Philip|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')||Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Denman, Hon. R. D.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Burgess, F. G.||Devlin, Joseph|
|Ammon, Charles George||Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel (Norfolk, N.)||Dickson, T.|
|Arnott, John||Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Duncan, Charles|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Cape, Thomas||Ede, James Chuter|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.)||Edmunds, J. E.|
|Atkinson, C.||Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Egan, W. H.|
|Ayles, Walter||Chapman, Sir S.||England, Colonel A.|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Charleton, H. C.||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston. s.-M.)|
|Batey, Joseph||Cluse, W. S.||Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)|
|Bellamy, Albert||Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Forgan, Dr. Robert|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Colvlile, Major D. J.||Freeman, Peter|
|Benson, G.||Compton, Joseph||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.|
|Bentham, Dr. Ethel||Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Gardner, B. W. (Wort Ham, Upton)|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Cove, William G.||Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley)|
|Bowen, J. W.||Daggar, George||Gill, T. H.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Dallas, George||Gillett, George M.|
|Boyce, H. L.||Dalton, Hugh||Glassey, A. E.|
|Bracken, B.||Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)||Gossling, A. G.|
|Broad, Francis Alfred||Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil)||Gould, F.|
|Gower, Sir Robert||Mathers, George||Skelton, A. N.|
|Gray, Milner||Matters, L. W.||Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Melville, Sir James||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Messer, Fred||Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Milner, J.||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Stroathan)||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)|
|Hanbury, C.||Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)||Snell, Harry|
|Harbord, A.||Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)||Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)|
|Harris, Percy A.||Mort, D. L.||Sorensen, R.|
|Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick)||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Haycock, A. W.||Muff, G.||Stamford, Thomas W.|
|Hayday, Arthur||Nathan, Major H. L.||Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland)|
|Hayes, John Henry||Naylor, T. E.||Strauss, G. R.|
|Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Sullivan, J.|
|Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert||Sutton, J. E|
|Herriotts, J.||Oldfield, J. R.||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)|
|Hoffman, P. C.||Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)|
|Hopkin, Daniel||Palin, John Henry||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M.(Hackney, N.)||Paling, Wilfrid||Tillett, Ben|
|Hunter, Dr. Joseph||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Isaacs, George||Peake, Capt. Osbert||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Tout, W. J.|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Train, J.|
|Johnston, Thomas||Phillips, Dr. Marion||Vaughan, D. J.|
|Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Picton-Turbervill, Edith||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Pole, Major D. G.||Viant, S. P.|
|Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Potts, John S.||Wallace, Capt. D. E (Hornsey)|
|Kennedy, Thomas||Power, Sir John Cecil||Wallace, H. W.|
|Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Lang, Gordon||Raynes, W. R.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Remer, John R.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Lathan, G.||Reynolds, Col. Sir James||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Law, A. (Rosendale)||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'te'y)||Welsh, James (Paisley)|
|Lawrence, Susan||Richardson. R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)|
|Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)||Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)||Westwood, Joseph|
|Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)||Romeril, H. G.||White, H. G.|
|Leach, W.||Rosbotham, D. S. T.||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Blrm., Ladywood)|
|Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.)||Rowson, Guy||Whiteley, William (Blaydon)|
|Llewellin, Major J. J.||Salmon, Major I.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Lloyd, C. Ellis||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Williams. T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Longbottom, A. W.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Lowth, Thomas||Sanders, W. S.||Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)|
|Lunn, William||Sawyer, G. F.||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Scrymgeour, E.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|McElwee, A.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|McEntee, V. L.||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis||Winterton, G. E.(Leicester, Loughb'gh)|
|McKinlay, A.||Sherwood, G. H.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Shield, George William||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton|
|Mansfield, W.||Shiels, Dr. Drummond||Young, R. S. (Islington, North)|
|March, S.||Shillaker, J. F.|
|Marcus, M.||Shinwell, E.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Margesson, Captain H. D.||Simmons, C. J.||Sir W. Greaves-Lord and Mr. Scurr.|
|Marley, J.||Sinkinson, George|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Granville, E.||Muirhead, A. J.|
|Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)||Greene, W. p. Crawford||Nicholson. Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld)|
|Balniel. Lord||Groves, Thomas E.||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Owen, H. F. (Hereford)|
|Beaumont, M. W.||Hammersley, S. S.||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham)||Hartington, Marquess of||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon||Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd, Henley)||Ruggles-Brise. Lieut.-Colonel E. A.|
|Bevan, S. J. (Holborn)||Hills. Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)|
|Birkett, W. Norman||Horrabin, J. F.||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)||Sandeman, Sir N Stewart|
|Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.||Hurd, Percy A.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Bromley, J.||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Southby, Commander A. R. J|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Stewart, W. J. (Belfast, South)|
|Bullock, Captain Malcolm||Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)||Todd, Capt. A. J.|
|Church, Major A. G.||Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Colman, N. C. O.||Kelly, W. T.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Courtauld. Major J. S.||Little, Dr. E. Graham||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Duckworth, G. A. V.||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Mason, Colonel Glyn K.|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Mills, J. E.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Foot, Isaac||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Sir M. Conway and Sir W. Davison.|
|Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Morrison, W. s. (Glos., Cirencester)|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Mr. HARRIS
I beg to move,That it be an Instruction to the Committee on the Bill to insert Clauses or obtain an undertaking from the promoters to secure by competition, or otherwise, designs for the bridge and for the architectural treatment of the viaducts.I have an Instruction on the Order Paper, but after consultation with the representatives of the London County Council and with the Minister of Transport, he has agreed to the words I have moved instead. I am all for co-operation. This means that the House will secure that the designs both for the bridge and the viaducts shall be worthy of London.
That it be an Instruction to the Committee on the Bill to insert Clauses or obtain an undertaking from the promoters to secure by competition, or otherwise, designs for the bridge and for the architectural treatment of the viaducts."—[Mr. Harris.]
The Orders of the day were read, and postponed.