HC Deb 12 July 1933 vol 280 cc1154-214

Order for Second Reading read.

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

7.30 p.m.


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

In the absence of the right hon. Member for Tamworth (Sir A. Steel-Maitland) it falls to my lot to move the Amendment on the Order Paper. I had not prepared a preliminary statement of the actual facts with which the Bill deals, but they are set out in a statement which has been sent to every hon. Member of the House on behalf of the promoters, and, as far as I am able to judge the first paragraphs setting out the facts are substantially correct. The Bill, as stated in the Memorandum: seeks to attain two principal objects, the repeal of statutory restrictions dating from 1771 limiting to a height of 20 feet any buildings erected on that part of the estate known as the foreground, which lies immediately in front of Adelphi Terrace, which is an area of approximately 30,000 square feet and, (b), the execution of certain street works as shown on the plan attached to the Memorandum. I am what I suppose would be described as an old-fashioned Tory. I strongly believe that a man is entitled to do what he will with his own property so long as he does not interfere with or injure the property or rights of others, but no such rule gives a man any rights over property belonging to the public. The public have valuable rights in the Adelphi which this Bill will take from them if it becomes an Act of Parliament. May I bring to the notice of the House a number of points which I think will substantiate that statement? The Bill will add a good deal more than one-third to the area of the site. I do not know whether hon. Members have had the plan which has been sent to me. The blue and pink part of the plan shows the site which is in the hands of the trustees, and which they correctly say is their own property and they can do what they like with it, subject to the observance of the London County Council's regulations regarding buildings, and the law of the land generally. With regard to the foreground, which is marked white and pink, it will be observed that it is rather more than one-third of the whole site and in accordance with the Act of 1771, when this property was allowed to be embanked out of the river, Parliament made the condition that no building should be erected on this part of the site of a greater height than 20 feet.

It is that restriction which the promoters of this Bill desire to remove, so that they may build over the whole of the site, not only on the two-thirds which they hold, and where they have full rights, but also on the additional one-third of which they only hold the freehold subject to the condition that no building shall be erected of a greater height than 20 feet. That area, as I have explained, is 30,000 square feet. I submit that inadequate compensation is being paid for the acquisition of full building rights on this very large and valuable piece of land. The promoters say: "We are going to give you pieces of land to widen Adam Street on the one side and Robert Street on the. other, to 40 feet." If property is not asked for or desired it is no compensation for other property which is of great value. That is not my own idea. I have certain evidence, in support which I was only able to obtain this afternoon. It is the evidence given on behalf of the promoters before the House of Lords Committee. Mr. Leonard James Veit, who is the City Engineer and Surveyor for the City of Westminster, was examined by counsel for the promoters: (Q.) I do not want to take you through a lot of the details that are already before the Committee, but just a question with regard to the existing streets. Are they adequate for their present purposes? (A.) For their present purposes, yes. (Q.) In your judgment; would they be adequate if the traffic were materially increased on account of rebuilding? (A.) No, I think not. Therefore, those of us who desire to keep this beautiful little piece of town planning known as the Adelphi in its present condition cannot accept a piece of ground forming part of the Adelphi property belonging to the trustees for the widening of a street which, in the evidence given by the Westminster City Surveyor, is not needed if the property is left as it is at present. Another question was raised as to the Terrace itself. The promoters contend, and they contended before the Committee that the public have no rights to a view. They say that the public have only a right to go along a thoroughfare for their business, if business takes them there, and that they have no right to a view.

Carrying out that idea, in accordance with the scheme which is submitted, the promoters propose to take away that beautiful Adelphi Terrace looking out over the Embankment Gardens and the river and are placing it in a tunnel in the centre of their new buildings, subject only to a, sort of funnel or chimney in the middle, which will give it a certain amount of ventilation. I do not know whether the public have a right to a view or not, but I know that Parliament has always protected public rights, and we can make laws, and we can say that this is a street from which the public have had a view and we the Parliament of Great Britain are going to insist on the Public having that view in the future, as they have had in the past. There was some suggestion that this was only s, private right, or something of that kind. On that point I will quote further from the examination by counsel: (Q.) One point as to Adelphi Terrace Are you able to tell the Committee when it became a public highway? (A.) No, not definitely. We have no record exactly when it was dedicated, but we have maintained it definitely, and, we have records since 1876. Mr. TYLDESLEY JONES, K.C.: You have maintained it since 1876? (A.) Certainly, that is definite. No doubt it was earlier than that, but we have no definite record of that. Therefore, since 1876 Adelphi Terrace has been maintained by the City of Westminster as a public highway and the public who have frequented that highway have had this view over the gardens and the river. I submit that the Adelphi in its present condition is a delightful piece of town-planning which it is most desirable that the public should retain, if they can do so. The Adelphi contains a good many buildings in addition to Adelphi Terrace. The Royal Society of Arts, who have recently purchased one of the gems of Adams' architecture in John Street, are just at the back. The whole place is a unique gem of town-planning, with most beautiful buildings and most beautiful interiors and fittings. It is true with regard to Adelphi Terrace that the building fronting the Terrace was slightly altered some years ago, but if so desired the cement then put on could easily be removed and the building would be as it was when originally erected by the Adams brothers. The two buildings at the end are still practically as they originally were when they were erected, except for the building of a room at one end.

It is said: "The Adelphi Trustees are perfectly entitled to pull down the buildings fronting the Adelphi Terrace, if they so desire, as it is their own freehold." That is true, and I should not be standing here to-night seeking to prohibit them from doing it, if they so intended, but it is clearly understood, so far as I can gather from what was said in the House of Lords and what I have heard elsewhere, that they have no idea of pulling down Adelphi Terrace unless they can get this extra 30,000 feet of frontage. Then it would pay them to pull down the old buildings and to put up a huge block on the same lines as the Savoy Hotel and the Shell Mex building. If we approve the Bill to-night we shall be particeps criminis. We shall be participating in a very regrettable act, because unless we give them the control over the foreground they will not rebuild. They can rebuild if they like, but I submit that they will not rebuild the Adelphi. It is well let. I understand that there are no vacancies and that it is a very good property, of good rental value. Therefore, by passing this Bill we shall be playing into the hands of the trustees, and I think that most of us desire that the Adelphi should be kept as it is at present.

Why should we give up our rights to this beautiful view over the river, quite apart from the buildings 1 I have dealt with the point as to whether the public have rights to the view. It is contended that owing to the growth of the poplar trees, which were put in to nurse the plane trees in the Embankment Gardens, the view over the gardens and the river is obstructed, especially when the trees are in full foliage. I have examined the place repeatedly. These old poplar trees should have been cut down long ago. They are very much mutilated—[Interruption.] If the Chief Whip does not know a good tree from a bad one he should go to the Forestry Commission. These trees are misshapen and mutilated, and while I am very fond of trees myself and do not like cutting them down, I would part with every one of these trees as trees, quite apart from any other consideration. In fact, these poplar trees will remove themselves in course of time; they are lop-sided and will fall to pieces if they are not removed very soon. That argument, in my submission, falls to the ground.

This block is very near the northern exit or access of the Charing Cross Bridge of the future. Every hon. Member is convinced that not long hence it will be necessary for a new road bridge to be built at Charing Cross. Surely it would be an extraordinary thing, when there is no compulsion on this House, when this property is well let and when no grievance would be caused to any individual, that we should go out of our way to allow a great building to be put up which will certainly interfere with the freedom of those who have to plan an exit from the new Charing Cross Bridge. It is true that Sir Henry Maybury has given evidence that none of the proposals made so far have any roads going through this site, but town planning is a great deal more than the question of a road here and there. You have to take the whole immediate area, and this beautiful little village of Adelphi might be an important part of a town planning scheme in connection with the northern exit from the new Charing Cross Bridge.

Another point that is urged is that the Westminster City Council and the London County Council, who presented petitions against the Bill, have withdrawn their objections. On the face of it that is, I confess, a strong argument; but I have made it my business this morning to see some able officials of local authorities in London, who are fully alive to these matters. I asked them whether if this had been in their area they could have considered the aesthetic point of view of the Adelphi buildings; and they said, "No. This is a matter which could only be considered in connection with town planning." The Westminster City Council and the London County Council have only looked at it from a rateable and building Act point of view. That is quite clear from the evidence. They could not do otherwise. There has been no town planning scheme by the London County Council in connection with this area; and if there is one thing which I should like to impress upon the House it is the urgent need that the London County Council should prepare a town planning scheme for this area. But are we now going to pass this Bill which will gravely interfere with any town planning scheme? There are two other pregnant sentences in the evidence which I will read; I saw them when I was reading the evidence a short time ago in the Library. If hon. Members will turn to page 35 and question 436, they will find these words: I think there is only one other point. Something has been said here with regard to the question of town planning in this area. This is a question which is put to the Westminster City Council's surveyor: If this Bill passes and this scheme is carried out by the Adelphi Trustees, would that in itself be a town planning scheme for this particular Adelphi estate area? The answer of the city surveyor was: "Yes, I think so. Therefore, this House, without any adequate information, is being asked to pass a town planning scheme for the Adelphi estate area. if hon. Members will turn to page 39 they will find this question: Lord Alvingham asked: Whether the promoters are in a position to say whether they have any ideas in their mind as to height? That question was answered by Mr. Tyldesley Jones, leading counsel for the promoters, as follows: No, my Lord. At the present moment there are no plans. We have not got any development plans at all prepared. We are told that this Bill will be equivalent to making a town planning scheme for the Adelphi area and at the same time are told that no plans for development have been prepared. The House of Commons will take a grave responsibility upon itself if they pass this Bill to-night with these facts in mind. Let me put one further point in regard to the amenities of the Embankment Gardens. It is true that this scheme takes a very small amount of land from the Embankment Gardens and gives another little bit of land in exchange. But in order to get any benefit—the only benefit I can find in the scheme is the continuance of the lower road which now goes past the Savoy Hotel and the Shell-Mex building up to York Buildings—in order to do that the Westminster City Council will have to take a considerable slice of the gardens and will probably have to remove that ancient monument, York Gate, which has an historic interest.. Therefore, while it is true that no material part of the Embankment Gardens is being taken away in order to do the only thing of material use, the carrying of this small lower road, you will eventually have to take a considerable slice of the gardens.

Another argument put forward is that Parliament and the public have given up similar rights in the case of the Cecil Hotel, now the Shell-Mex building, and the Savoy Hotel, and that they have done this in the past surely they are going to do the same in this case. Really that reasoning would justify giving up land anywhere that because land has been given up to Mr. Smith, or Mr. Robinson, Mr. Jones, must, of course, have land given to him too. As a matter of fact, there is another piece of land which is a case in point. The Southern Railway were allowed to build on the foreground at Charing Cross on the express condition that the courtyard at Charing Cross should be left as an open space. They have often asked to be allowed to build on this available ground, but their application has been refused. If you say that because Shell-Mex and the Savoy Hotel have been granted certain privileges in the past, we must grant these privileges to the Adelphi trustees, you must also grant the same privileges to the Southern Railway. The argument is untenable, in my submission. Parliament must consider this matter on its merits. Even if the London County Council and the Westminster City Council had not been confined to tae question of rating and building Acts. I would still say that Parliament should sill express its opinion even if great, public bodies take a different view.

Let me summarise my arguments. Why should the public give up Adelphi Terrace with its delightful view, and have foisted upon it in its place a tunnel passageway with a funnel in the middle? Secondly, why should the public reduce the size and amenities of the Embankment Gardens? They are used more and more every day. In the early morning they are used by children and by people coming from their offices and taking their lunch there, and by old people who sit out in the Gardens in the evenings. It is idle to say that to build a great building right up against them will not affect their amenities, of course it will. Why should we reduce the size of the Gardens and the amenities generally? In the next place, why should we interfere with the freedom to plan a dignified northern approach to Charing Cross bridge? I have read from the evidence that the Trustees have no plans. Why should we not wait until plans are submitted, and then make up our minds as to whether they are an improvement on the Old Adelphi or not. I submit that we are not in a position nor should we be willing to formulate a town planning scheme when the promoters themselves have no development plans. If we facilitate the pulling down of the Adelphi, one of the most beautiful little pieces of town planning which exists, this House will become par- ticipators in something which I really think it does not desire. For these reasons I hope the House will refuse to give a Second Reading to this Bill. No-one will be prejudiced. The Adelphi is a well-let building, the promoters of the Bill are getting substantial rents. We are not interfering with them in dealing with their own property. I therefore submit that we should not give up these public rights.

7.58 p.m.


I beg to second the Amendment.

The hon. Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison) has put the arguments, which in my opinion are overwhelming, against a Second Reading of this Bill so fully and forcibly and so convincingly that I need not detain the House very long. But I want to reinforce what he has said. I would ask anyone to take a walk, as I have done and have persuaded one or two other hon. Members to do, over Hunger-ford Bridge and then have a look at the north side of the Thames. They would see farther away the great sweep of Somerset House and coming nearer the Savoy Hotel, Shell-Mex building, and then the ground upon which Adelphi Terrace is situate. I do not profess to be an expert in these matters, and I hope that I am not extreme. In the Essex County Council Bill there was a Clause which I thought went too far in one direction and I opposed it, and brought down upon myself some criticism from societies who are interested in the preservation of amenities. But I think just what five out of every six ordinary, sensible men who wish to preserve London as a good fine place would feel as they walked over Hungerford Bridge. They would say that Somerset House was a magnificent stretch of building, far finer than the buildings put up since, and they would be really shocked if, on the stretch of land on which Adelphi Terrace stands, they knew that there was to be erected another great block of flats or offices to the height of the Savoy Hotel.

The next thing I would ask anyone to do is to walk down the steps, to go into the Embankment Gardens, and go to the only place from which it is possible to get a real view of Adelphi Terrace, by climbing up the mound at the back. Of course, it has been overlaid and largely spoilt by the additions that have been made to the original Adams building, but there is no question whatever that the whole of the general structure and the chief features of the Adams building are there. It is easy to agree with the expert architects who say that, not at a tremendous cost, the whole of the cement and stucco put on 60 or 70 years ago could be removed and the old Adams building would be there in its original state. The view of it is obscured by the poplars which were planted long after the Adams building was built. I agree that they are not worth anything as trees. They could be easily pollarded or cut down, and replaced by trees far more suitable to that kind of garden, especially if the ground was made level. I would also make one further claim. Although the building was spoilt about 1870 or thereabouts, yet I think any ordinary person would infinitely prefer to have the building as it is than see a great block of new buildings in its place.

I wish to reinforce one or two of the points made by my hon. Friend. It has been stated by those who support the Bill, and by promoters of the Bill, that leave to build above the 20 foot limit was given some time ago in the case of the site of what is now the Shell-Mex Building, and also in the case of the Savoy Hotel, and it is argued that leave should be given in this case to the owners of the Adelphi Terrace site. But really is it not absurd for people to claim in the first place that the Adelphi Terrace building is not worth keping because the Victorian taste of 60 years ago was so bad as completely to spoil the building, and on the other hand to say that Victorian action 60 years ago with regard to the Savoy Hotel site and the Shell-Mex site was so infallible that what was done then ought to be taken as a precedent to-day? They cannot have it both ways. Of course the Victorian age was not the greatest age of architecture, and the truth is that the Victorians of that time made a mistake in both cases. The mistake ought to be remedied in the case of Adelphi Terrace. We ought not to repeat the mistake made in the case of the Savoy Hotel and the Shell-Mex Building.

There was a point which I think my hon. Friend did not mention. It has been stated that by the Bill power is being given to pull down Adelphi Terrace. It is pointed out by the promoters of the Bill that the owners of Adelphi Terrace have a perfect right to pull it down now if they wish. Of course they have, and any statement to the contrary is a mistaken one. The whole question is whether they would pull it down if they were not given power to build above the 20 feet, in other words if the restriction was not-removed which has existed from the time when this land was first rescued from the Thames. If the restriction were not removed, would they carry out the big scheme which we are told is proposed I ask the House to listen to the words of counsel for the promoters of the Bill. Mr. Tyldesley Jones, who was arguing the case before a Select Committee of the House of Lords, said: The owners of this estate could pull down every house there To-day, and it may well be that these houses may have to go sooner or later, but you cannot develop that site well unless you are going to take into the scheme of development the land which lies below Adelphi Terrace and between the Terrace and the gardens. In other words it is quite clear that if we pass this Bill and give power to the promoters to build on that low ground, if we take away the present restriction, then indeed we may be sure that Adelphi Terrace will be destroyed. Whether or not it will be destroyed if that power is not given is indeed an open question. A great deal has been said about the principle of this Bill having been agreed by other bodies. I wish that before I spoke I could have heard the speech which I understand we are to have in favour of the Bill from the hon. Member for Richmond (Sir W. Ray). There is no one who has not respect for what the hon. Member may say about London, for he is a very distinguished member of the London County Council. I wish we had had here to-night also the hon. Member for Maidstone (Mr. Bossom), who is also a member of the London County Council and an exceedingly distinguished architect. I think he is as anxious as anyone present for the preservation of Adelphi Terrace. If what I am about to say is not correct, perhaps the hon. Member for Richmond will correct me. It is perfectly clear that both the London County Council and the Westminster City Council have to see that London building by-laws are observed and that require- ments with regard to streets are satisfied. I wonder whether the hon. Member can now say whether the London County Council have considered the question from the point of view of the value of the architecture of the building itself and its effect on the aspect of the Embankment and the Gardens. I understand that no such claim can be made.


I will answer the right hon. Gentleman. Of course it is not the duty of any local authority to deal with architectural features and so on, La passing plans or whatever may come forward. But let me expand the point. If we had felt sufficiently justified in dealing with this matter as the right hon. Gentleman has stated, we should have taken exactly the same steps in regard to the Adelphi Estate, by town-planning it, as we took at 24 hours' notice in order to save Parliament Square. That would have been our action if we had thought that the occasion was so important as to demand that the town-planning of Adelphi Terrace should take place.


I do not think I am abusing any confidence when I say that one of the reasons why the hon. Member for Maidstone would have liked to have been here was, as he told me, that he infinitely regretted that pressure of business had been such that as yet a town-planning scheme did not cover Adelphi Terrace. I am grateful to the hon. Member for Richmond (Sir W. Ray) for intervening. We may differ on this Bill, but I have a great respect for his opinion. At any rate we know it cannot be argued that the withdrawal of objection to the Bill by the London County-Council and the Westminster City Council has given any cachet to the Bill or has justified it on architectural s grounds.

Then there is the question of employment in the erection of new buildings. I have heard it said that here is a great scheme which will employ a great many men at a time when work is much needed. I should be the last to wish that employment should not be given. But anyone who takes a comprehensive and sane view of the employment question must realise that, whether or not employment is given in the building trade in the erection of flats or offices in London, depends upon the demand for flats and offices. If there was only one site in the whole of London that was suit- able, and that site was denied, and at the same time there was a great demand for flats or offices, it might be that employment would be withheld. Within a mile of Adelphi Terrace, however, there are over one-and-a-quarter million square feet of office space that has not yet been used at all. There are plenty of other sites available if there is a real demand for flats or offices; there are sites enough and to spare on which such buildings could be placed. The little backwater of Adephi Terrace need not be taken for that purpose.

I sympathise also with any owner of land who wants to improve his property and get the best value out of it. I am both an urban and an agricultural landowner in a small way. I ask the House, however, to agree with me that we must determine our action in a matter like this by what we think is the public interest. As regards that, much as I respect, anyone who has a particular duty towards London like my hon. Friend the Member for Richmond, the dignity and the beauty of London concern all of us. London is the capital of the Empire. We all care for it and we are all anxious to preserve its dignity and beauty. Up to the present we have had no authoritative opinion of any kind in favour of this Bill as being, from that point of view, worthy of support. All the authoritative opinion which we have had from architects and others goes to show that it would tend further to spoil the aspect of the Thames Embankment, already much spoiled, and that it would do away with a building which is of historic value in itself, and which is—though at present in the condition I have described—capable of restoration. I put it to the House: Are we going to pass a Bill which will, by abolishing this restriction, create a building value, a value which does not exist at present and has never existed since this land was reclaimed from the Thames. Are we going to make a present of it to those concerned in order to facilitate such hurt as I believe will be done to the amenities of London if the course proposed in the Bill is followed.

8.17 p.m.

Sir W. RAY

I must first express appreciation of the extremely kind tones in which the right hon. Gentleman the Mem-for Tamworth (Sir A. Steel-Maitland) has referred to those connected with the work of local government in London. His opinion of them appears to be just a little higher than that of the hon. Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison).


Not at all.

Sir W. RAY

The hon. Member thought that both the Westminster Council and the London County Council were mainly interested in this project from a rateable value point of view. I assure him that that point of view is never taken into consideration in matters of this kind. I hope that we can rise superior to any charge that we would wilfully disfigure any part of London in order to enhance rateable value. Therefore, I take the kindly words of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tamworth as some solace for what my hon. Friend the Member for South Kensington said.


I never suggested that the County Council or the Westminster City Council would think of disfiguring London in order to get additional rates. I am vice-chairman of an improvement committee and when a building scheme of this kind is submitted to us we certainly look at it from the point of view of rateable value as well as other points of view. We consider the question "If we put a building of this class on this site, will it interfere with the rateable value of adjoining property?" That is a perfectly proper consideration for an improvement committee to take into account. In fact, the London County Council only the other day sent to Kensington a proposal which they had had before them in order to know whether we thought the particular building was suitable, how it would affect the question of rateable value of the property as a whole.

Sir W. RAY

I had great hesitation about joining in this Debate. If one has any sympathy in this matter it is in the direction of preserving in London any thing that is old—not ancient—and anything that has a claim to beauty. But, considering that the promotors had taken the trouble to negotiate with the local authorities and had eventually inserted in the Bill everything that the local authorities thought necessary for the protection of the interests of the people of London I felt that it would be rather cruel on my part if I did not stand up in my place and say so and give some measure of support to the Bill. I feel that the House is interested in what has been termed the dignity and beauty of London, but unlike the previous speakers I am prepared to leave the question of the dignity and beauty of this project to a Committee of this House. We are not asking the House to pass the Bill tonight. We are asking that this project, which has received criticism from other quarters, as well as in the House tonight, should not be adjudicated upon here and now in a House which is only about one-fifth full, and in which opinions are thrown about from side to side. I want to see all these criticisms rigidly examined by a Committee of the House selected for that purpose which, in due course, will report back to the House the result of its deliberations. That is all that is being asked to-night. We are not being asked to approve of the Bill.

I regret that those who are opposed to the Bill are not prepared to let it go forward for detailed examination and criticism by a Committee of this House, just as it has been subjected to examination and criticism in another place. I remember a Bill some years ago in connection with Charing Cross which on its Second Reading got an overwhelming majority in this House but it was unanimously turned down by a Select Committee and that was the end of the project for that period, although I hope not for too many years to come. To-night I think it perfectly reasonable to come to this House and to say, "Here is a proposal in connection with the re-development of one of the most important sites in London. Surely, this proposal demands proper investigation, and those who are connected with the project have a right to expect that the House will give to the proposal that critical examination which it deserves." The more I look into this Bill, the more I am convinced that it wants examination and the more I believe that the view submitted by the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment will receive attention.

It appears to me that in viewing this matter we ought to take into consideration the changed character of the Thames Embankment. I remember a time when the Embankment was dominated by Somerset House with Waterloo Bridge falling naturally into the great picture. To-day, the Embankment is dominated by the Shell-Mex Building, the Savoy Hotel, Unilever House, and, in the distance, Bush House. The whole domination of the Embankment has changed. We are left with one site on which the question of development is ripe for consideration. I am not arguing for or against it, but merely saying that it is ripe for consideration. That consideration is not to be given by the London County Council or the Westminster City Council, but should be given by a Committee of this House, and it is not the duty of local authorities to deal with matters of that kind.

The object of the Bill is perfectly simple. The history of the reclamation of the foreshore as far back as 1771 and of the restriction placed by Parliament above 20 feet high is well known. It is ell known also that the Salisbury Estate got the restriction removed about 1865 or 1875 for the purpose of the land which was in front of the late Hotel Cecil, now Shell-Mex and the Savoy. Here an owner, without, I think, being liable to an accusation of selfishness, feels that he has a right more or less to develop his land on the lines which have been granted to other applicants, and I suggest that this House might do as the other place has done and consider the matter in a Select Committee instead of in a gathering such as we have here to-night. We feel that we have got from the promoters of the Bill some very valuable concessions. We have got John, Robert, and Adam streets to be widened to a width of 40 feet, and that is an enormous concession and one of which London will ultimately be very proud. There is to be a development of the lower road. Instead of the piece of the land which is to-day a disgrace to this great Metropolis, we are to have that lower road widened, and ultimately we shall find it running parallel with the Embankment, joining up to the street known as York Buildings, and finally debouching into the Strand.


Has the hon. Member observed that York Buildings is so narrow that it would be impossible for the traffic to be carried by that narrow road to pass up into the Strand without there being congestion at York Buildings?

Sir W. RAY

I would remind the hon. Member that there are such things taking place in London every day as street improvements, and if a road were constructed parallel to the Embankment which promised access to the Strand, I do not think the authorities concerned would hesitate very long about proceeding with the necessary improvements. That will be an enormous advantage to the traffic of London, which is going to be the problem of London in the near future and for many years to come. The hon. Member for South Kensington spoke of the tragedy that would occur by the giving up of a portion of the Embankment Gardens. It is a strip some five feet wide, and I hardly think it will destroy the amenities of the Embankment Gardens to an enormous extent, as we are going to get more than that in return. We are to get in all, thrown into the public way, some 23,000 square feet of land. That is the sacrifice that the promoters are prepared to make in order to reap the advantages which they hope to get. That land, valued at about £150,000, is to be handed over to the public, and the cost to the promoters for the development of that road will be about another £39,000, so that, so far as the London County Council are concerned, we have got from the promoters of the Bill everything which it was our duty to the public to insist upon getting.

Consequently, I feel that I should be failing in my duty to people who have done their best to negotiate with us and meet us if to-night I could not make some stand in support of the action which they have taken. The argument about Charing Cross Bridge, frankly, leaves me rather cold. Perhaps it is because I have heard so much about Charing Cross Bridge in the last 10 years that I look upon it almost as something mythical; and I can say this, that we have been advised that the scheme now before the House would not interfere with any one of the six schemes which were submitted to the advisory committee set up by the London County Council. The House will remember that after it destroyed our Bill, the London County Council set up a committee consisting of its critics for the purpose of producing an agreed scheme. Six schemes were submitted to them, and so far as interference is concerned, I can say to the House, on advice, that this project of the Adelphi Estate Company would not interfere in any way with any one of the schemes which have been submitted.

A point was raised with regard to town planning, and perhaps in my reply to the right hon. Member for Tamworth I did not make the position quite clear. Those Members of the House who are connected with local government work know that all these schemes, to whatever area they belong, have to run the gamut of committees and officials dealing with specific types of work. This scheme has been before our Building Acts Committee, from the point of view of conformity with the London Building Acts; it has been before the Town Planning Committee, from the point of view of amenities; and it has been before the Parks Committee, in regard to the alleged interference with the rights of the public so far as the Embankment Gardens are concerned. I wanted to make it clear that if our Town Planning Committee had felt the urgency of town-planning this little area because great damage would be done, it would have taken exactly the same steps as it did a month or two ago, when, on the very shortest notice, it town-planned Parliament Square in order that a building should not be put up on a site at the corner of George Street. I assume that our Town Planning Committee must have felt that there was not the urgency in this case that demanded them to take extraordinary action of that kind.

In Clause 33 of the Bill provision is made in regard to the elevation, and there a Sub-section has been inserted which provides that drawings of the elevation of any building on the Adelphi foreground should be submitted to an architect, to be appointed by the President of the Royal Academy, for approval of the architectural treatment of the elevation, and in the event of disapproval by such architect there is to be an appeal to an advisory committee, consisting of three persons, one appointed by the architect, one by the trustees, and a third a qualified architect practising in the county of London.

My only interest in the Bill is from the point of view that London development is proceeding. It cannot be arrested. I do not say that we shall not resist to the utmost any attempt to destroy what in London is deemed worthy of preservation, but this appeals to me as a matter of fair play more than anything else. When the promoters of the Bill have got their Measure through the House of Lords on a Division on Third Reading—and this is a significant fact—with a large majority in favour of it, when they have done their utmost to satisfy the local authorities concerned and have succeeded in doing so, when they are face to face with newspaper criticism and the criticism of distinguished men of aesthetic and artistic taste, I feel that, as a matter of fair play, the only real way in which such a vital subject can be dealt with—and it is vital to London in many respects—is to treat it, I will not say generously, but as a question of supreme importance, and let the pros and cons, let the criticism and the support, let everything connected with the Bill be subjected to the minutest criticism that expert evidence can bring to bear. I submit that then this House will on Third Reading have evidence before it such as it has not before it in the words of one speaker on one side or of another speaker on the other side. We are debating a matter about which the House is not and cannot be fully seized of all the arguments, and I suggest in the interests of fair play, be the result what it may, that the House should commit the Bill to a Committee, and then on Third Reading we shall have real grounds on which to cast our votes, yea or nay.

8.38 p.m.

The CHAIRMAN of WAYS and MEANS (Sir Dennis Herbert)

As this is the first occasion in this Parliament when it has seemed to me my duty as Chairman of Ways and Means to intervene in a discussion on a Private Bill, perhaps I shall not be doing amiss if for the benefit of new Members I remind the House of the practice, which is well known to older Members, as to the part which the Chairman of Ways and Means has to play with regard to these Bills. Private Bills differ from public Bills by reason of the fact that they are not promoted by Members of this House, but are introduced on the petition of a suitor to Parliament. It is for that reason that the House of Commons has seen fit to place these Bills officially in the charge of and under the care of the Chairman of Ways and Means. My duty, therefore, is to see that the suitors to Parliament get their case fairly put before Parliament and that the machinery of the House of Commons is properly used to deal with their case, and. that the House is fully seized of all the points which are necessary in order to enable them to come to a fair decision. For that reason, therefore, as my hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Sir W. Ray) has just said, no Private Bill should be refused a Second Reading in this House by reason of opinions which Members may hold on one side or another in regard to a matter which it is proper to fight out before a Private Bill Committee which, as hon. Members know, is in the nature of a semi-judicial tribunal.

On the other hand, let me say at once that where some great question of principle arises it is not only within the competence and power of this House, but it is no doubt the duty of this House to consider it, and, if necessary, to pass judgment upon it upon Second Reading. Therefore, I make no complaint whatever that a Bill of this importance, which has aroused great interest, is brought up for discussion in the House. The first and most essential point is that the House should really understand what the Bid does in its main outline. It has been not incorrectly described by the three Members who have already spoken, and, taking those descriptions of the facts as correct, we come to this: that the petitioners to Parliament, the owners of the Adelphi Estate, are the absolute owners of certain property in regard to which they have the right to do, as my hon. Friend the Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison) said, what they will so long as they do not injure public interest. For the purpose of doing what is reasonable in the development of their property—and I am not putting it too far in putting it in that way—they ask Parliament to remove a restriction which would prevent them from building anything more than 20 feet high on the front portion of their property.

If Parliament gives them that right Parliament acquires, for the benefit of the public, certain other rights of which we have heard, such as the widening of the roads, and so forth. It is emphatically, as every Member will agree, a question for the Committee to decide as to whether that is a fair and reasonable bargain, but the point which really arises perhaps for consideration to-night, apart from Committee points, is the case which was put clearly and distinctly by my hon. Friend the Member for South Kensington, who said something to the effect that, though the owners have power to pull down Adelphi Terrace, they, in his opinion and in the opinion of many others, will not do so if they do not get the powers that are asked for by this Bill. That I will come to later. As I have said, the question of the fairness and otherwise of what is being given up by the promoters in exchange for what they are to get is obviously one for the Committee.

I will deal with two other points which, I suggest are also points which should be sent to the Committee for consideration and determination. One of them is the question of possible interference with the Victoria Embankment Gardens. That obviously is a matter which requires the attention of Parliament and in which this House should protect the rights of the general public. But obviously, I venture to suggest, that again is a matter which is more proper to be inquired into by a Committee—as to how far, if at all, there is danger of those gardens being interfered with, so that the Committee may make or recommend such alterations in the Bill as may be necessary to protect the public interest. The other point is the one in regard to future development and a new Charing Cross Bridge. My hon. Friend the Member for Richmond has made a statement which shows clearly that an issue arises there between him and my hon. Friend the Member for South Kensington. One says the development of the Adelphi Estate may interfere with useful and ordered developments in connection with the new Charing Cross Bridge. The other hon. Member says definitely that is not so and that the point has been gone into most carefully. Surely that is a matter where the Committee should decide what are the real facts of the case. I heard an hon. Member make an interjection as to what the Committee are likely to do. I will pass from that for the moment, but I mention it now because I want to refer later to the powers of the Committee and the action which they will take if the House thinks fit to give the Bill a Second Reading. There is one other point made by my hon. Friend the Member for South Kensington to the effect that no development plans have been prepared. There again I do not want to question the correctness or otherwise of that statement on his part.


It was a statement by Mr. Tyldesley Jones, B.C., on behalf of the promoters. It is in the evidence given in the other place.


Now the hon. Member tells me, I remember the fact. What I wanted to say in regard to that is that what is lacking is, so to speak, the final plans of the proposed new buildings. That, again, is a matter which I venture to suggest should not be allowed to interfere with the question of a Second Reading. It should be dealt with by the Committee. It has already been dealt with, to some extent, by the Committee in another place, with the result that Clause 33 has been inserted in the Bill containing certain provisions as to regulating what shall be the elevation of the new buildings. Let me now come to the question which I have already mentioned, the argument that although the owners of the Adelphi Estate have the right to pull down the present buildings this House can stop their doing so by refusing to give them the powers asked for in this Bill. I think it is my duty, in the interests of the promoters, to ask the House to consider this question very carefully indeed. Granted that this House may wish to preserve Adelphi Terrace as it is, and knowing that the owners have the right to pull down that property at any time—if they do not find it worth their while to do so immediately they may find it worth their while when the country becomes more prosperous—the question is whether, knowing these things, the House will, without very careful consideration indeed, on the slender possibilities of saving these old buildings by throwing out this Bill, refuse the petitioners to Parliament what they would have no hesitation in granting to them if they did not suffer from the fact that their property was one in which others who are not the owners feel, and feel properly and naturally, such a great interest?

If it were a definite question of whether the present buildings should be pulled down or not, that would be one of those clear issues on which it would be contrary to my duty to take any side, but I do regard it as my duty to ask the House to consider very carefully whether they should throw out this Bill on Second Reading without its going to a Committee in the mere hope, the realisation of which is at least doubtful, that they will indirectly obtain something which they think it is desirable to obtain.

The only other point with which I wish to deal is the future procedure on this Bill should the House see fit to give it a Second Reading. I heard an interjection just now—I am not sure, indeed, that it has not already been referred to—that this is an unopposed Bill, with no petitioners against it. That is true, but that does not mean, certainly after this Debate it will not mean, that the examination of this Bill by the Committee will be in the least degree less careful than if it were one of the most strongly opposed and most contentious Bills which ever came before a Parliamentary Committee. Hon. Members will know that unopposed Bills go, in the ordinary way, to what is known as the Unopposed Bills Committee, which consists of the Chairman of Ways and Means, the Deputy-Chairman, assisted by Counsel for Mr. Speaker and several other Members of the House. But the Chairman of Ways and Means has the right, in any case where he thinks it necessary or proper, to cause an unopposed private Bill to be referred to an Opposed Bill Committee, in exactly the same way as if it were an opposed Bill.

If I thought, or if the House were to appear to express the view, that that should be done in this case I should naturally act accordingly, but I would like to tell the House that in my view the Unopposed Bill Committee is, perhaps, as useful a Committee if not a more useful Committee, for dealing with this particular Bill than an Opposed Bill Committee. In the first place, it has as ex officio members the Chairman and Deputy-Chairman of Ways and Means, whose business it is constantly to deal with these Bills, advised by the Counsel to Mr. Speaker, who is of the greatest assistance, and that they have all the powers which an Opposed Bill Committee would have. I have heard it said in conversation outside this House (which was not perhaps meant for the ears of the Chairman of Ways and Means) by those who are interested in promoting private Bills, that they would sooner be before an Opposed Bill Committee than before the Unopposed Bill Committee. That, at any rate, is, I think, a tribute to the way that the Unopposed Bill Committee does its work.


Can they hear evidence?


I am coming to that. There is the apparent disadvantage—or may I put it as the apparent difficulty?—that a committee, in a case of this kind, whether it be an unopposed. Bill Committee or an opposed Bill Committee, have before them only one side, there being no petitioners against the Bill. There is no one to be heard against it, and therefore, in a case of this kind, where the opponents of the Bill are people who would have no locus standi in the case of a private Bill, and whose opposition is based upon very proper grounds, which have been put before the Rouse to-night, it becomes the duty of the Committee to see that the case of those opposed to the Bill, or who wish to put forward any particular points, as has been clone in this discussion, is very carefully considered.

The Committee have power to hear evidence. In a case of this kind, they have power to call before them indirectly, if I may put it in that way, any expert evidence of architects or artists that they wish. It is true that the Committee have not, in the first instance, the power to send for persons, papers and records, a well-known power in this House, but that Committee could and would report to the House—if it were so—that they required the power to summon certain persons before them in order to enable them to come to a proper and satisfactory decision on the points arising. That power would unhesitatingly be exercised by the Committee in this case, if it were necessary, but the probability is that the end would be achieved without the Committee having to come back to this House. The Committee would merely have to intimate—I put this as an example, and I am not going to say that it is exactly what would happen—to the promoters that they were not satisfied that a certain part of the Preamble had been proved. The promoters would say: "We have called before you our architect"—or accountant, as the case might be—"and he has given you evidence." The Committee would say: "We are still not satisfied. We want evidence from impartial witnesses. Will you please bring us an impartial and expert witness on this point?" By that method, the Committee would probably obtain and hear all the evidence that they required without having to come back to this House, but they could come back with a report to the effect that they required the power to send for persons, papers and records, and the House would, no doubt, unhesitatingly give them that power, if they asked for it.

To sum up therefore, I do ask the House not to refuse the Second Reading of this Bill upon any point that would properly be inquired into by the Committee. The House, of course, will have a perfect right to oppose the Bill again on consideration on Report and on Third Reading, and to throw out the Bill if they are not satisfied with it after it has been before the Committee, or if they are not satisfied with the work that the Committee has done. It is obvious that there are certain matters here that ought to be thrashed out by what I may describe as a semi-judicial committee before the House comes to any definite decision as regards the Bill as a whole.

There remains the question of the preservation, or otherwise, in its present condition, of Adelphi Terrace. I do not think that I am departing from the impartial position which I ought to take up in regard to any clearly defined and definite issue before this House when I ask the House to consider very carefully whether it would be right to refuse the Second Reading of this Bill merely on the slender hope that by doing so they might indirectly prevent the owners from pulling down this property, when they have no power whatever to restrain the owners—or I should put it more correctly in this way: when without coming to Parliament at all, the owners have, at the present moment, the absolute right, as has any other owner of the private house in which he lives, to pull down that house and to rebuild it, or to leave the ground without any building upon it.

9.1 p.m.


It has never fallen to my lot in this House before to hear the Chairman of Ways and Means fulfilling one of his duties in this House by putting before the House the case of the petitioners for a private Bill. I think there are certain considerations in this matter which should lead the House to refuse this Bill a Second Reading. There are certain great principles involved. I speak in this matter not from any party point of view, but as a Londoner who has lived in London all his life, and has always found a very great pleasure in that sweep of the river that goes from this House to Blackfriars Bridge. I regard that, from the architectural point of view, as the greatest thing in London. If it is not as good as it ought to be, it is potentially one of the finest sights in the world. In parts of it it is worthy of the greatest city in the world. In that great sweep of buildings there have been a number of alterations and changes, some of which may be for the better and some may be for the worse. This House ought to deplore that there has not been a definite plan for that area. It is not merely a matter of the rights of private property. The hon. Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison) has put as strongly as anyone might the rights of a man to do what he likes with his own. I might not hold that view so strongly as he, but even after he said that he came down strongly on to the need for town-planning, and he finished up with a few references, which he is more qualified to make than I am, to the aesthetic value of this group of buildings, and to the need for preserving one of London's natural beauties.

When the hon. Member for Richmond (Sir W. Ray) was speaking, I thought that he was rather out of court. He was speaking on behalf of the London County Council; as a matter of fact, the London County Council has neglected to plan this most essential, central part of London. That strikes me as inconsistent. The hon. Member first told us that the London County Council could not consider this matter from the aesthetic point of view, because they had to consider whether the promoters had fulfilled this, that and the other condition by giving up streets: and almost in the same breath he explained how in 24 hours the County Council, from aesthetic considerations, rushed in a plan for part of the area around Parliament Square. It really seems, therefore, that the hon. Member is out of court through his own neglect. The whole treatment of this particular embankment area has been, as I have said, very piecemeal. Nobody knows what will be the judgment passed 50 years hence on this generation. It is very easy to quarrel over these matters. I am particularly interested myself in that question, because it fell to me, when I was Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, to make a decision with regard to Brettenham House, and whether I shall be hanged in effigy in the future or not I do not know.

The whole of this matter requires to be considered as part of London from two points of view. One is that this is a most important part of London from the aesthetic point of view, and the other is that it impinges upon perhaps the chief point of traffic in all London, namely, Charing Cross. Therefore, it is not, to my mind, a matter which a committee can consider merely from the point of view of private interests, with perhaps a glance at certain aesthetic considerations. They must take a pretty wide view, and it seems to me that the planning of the central area of the capital of the Empire is a matter on which this House should pronounce a judgment.

We have had an argument from the hon. Member for Richmond with regard to the treatment of this area, and his view of its future seems to me to differ entirely from that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tamworth (Sir A. Steel-Maitland) and of the hon. Member for South Kensington. Both of these hon. Gentlemen regard this area as something unique. They regard it as a little town-planned area designed by two great artists, the brothers Adam—as a little piece of old London which they think might be preserved. It may be said that there is no power at all to preserve it, that the owners can pull it down at any time; but that does not preclude this House from expressing an opinion, or, indeed, from taking action in the future with regard to it. The hon. Member for Richmond and the London County Council, on the other hand, obviously look upon this merely as a sort of traffic area. They want to open up to traffic these rather narrow, quiet streets, where so many distinguished people have sheltered; they want to run a road round Savoy Place up to the Strand, and to open up York Buildings, and in their view, as far as I can see, the proper development of this site means the sweeping away altogether Of all the Adam buildings, and erecting, possibly, another Shell-Mex House.

I like to live in London. and not in Main Street. I do not want to see London consisting of a lot of beautiful, meretricious buildings in a row. I like the history of London, and I do not want the time to come when the old days will be swept away, when John Street, Adam Street, Robert Street, and Buckingham Street will no longer exist. Indeed I always regretted the passing of Alley. I may be very old-fashioned, but I do not want London swept away and re-planned as though it were a city in the Middle West of America. Is not that rather what we are tending to do here if we merely consider what is in the best interest of these private owners in developing their property? Indeed, it may not be in their best interest in the long run. It might be that they would be able to sell the area to someone who would value it from aesthetic considerations. But, in any treatment of the area it should surely be considered both from the point of view of the intrinsic merits of the building and from the point of view of its fitting into a general plan. I thought that the hon. Member for Richmond was rather unconvincing in his reference to Charing Cross Bridge. We have had a good many failures with regard to Charing Cross Bridge. The hon. Member said we had had six schemes, and no one of them came anywhere near this—


If I might interrupt the hon. Gentleman for a moment, I did not say anything of the sort. I said that the Advisory Committee set up by the London County Council had had six schemes submitted to it, and on examination it was found that these proposals would not interfere with any one of the six schemes. I never said anything such as the hon. Member indicated.


If the hon. Member had had a little more patience, and had allowed me to develop my argument, he would have heard that I was going to be perfectly accurate. I was saying that we had had six schemes—

Sir W. RAY

You dropped your voice beforehand.


The hon. Member is a little too apt to interrupt. If he will allow the argument to go on, he will find that it is quite correct. He has said that six schemes were submitted, and not one of those schemes interfered with this area; but there have been many schemes in London, and we have no guarantee at all, as far as I can see, that any one of those schemes is going to be adopted. It is quite possible that the right scheme, when it eventually conies, may touch this area; but I think that that point was answered in advance by the hon. Member for South Kensington, who said that a bridge scheme is not simply a bridge, but requires to be related to the area round about; and the hon. Member for Richmond himself suggested that there was going to be a road opening up York Buildings into the Strand. We cannot have that without a general view of the traffic of the area, and, therefore it is quite clear to my mind that there should be a general scheme for the area. I suggest that the House will do well to take the advice of the hon. Member for South Kensington and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tamworth. I do not think the House need be in the very least upset because this proposal has been passed by a Committee of the House of Lords, because it is always best to be reciprocal in these matters, and the House of Lords never minds throwing out anything which has been passed by a Committee of this House. I think the House should be capable of acting on its judgment. Although the Chamber may not be very well filled, it is a good deal better filled than it usually is at this time o of the evening. I hope that this question will be decided by people who have thought about the matter, and not by people coming in from outside. As a citizen of London, I hope that the Bill will be rejected.

9.14 p.m.


The hon. Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee) is apparently desirous, on the one hand, of keeping old London, and, on the other hand, of postponing the Second Reading of this Bill until some general scheme shall be brought forward. I can understand the first reason, and I can understand the second, but, surely, if any general scheme is brought forward for the development of this part of London, it is obvious that such a scheme would interfere to a very large extent with this part of old London which the hon. Gentleman seems so anxious to keep. When one comes to consider the objections to this Bill, and the objections that have appeared in the Press—and, after all, the Press is supposed to be to a certain extent the mouthpiece of the general public; whether it is or not is another matter—the objections that have appeared in the Press seem to be based on the necessity for the retention of Adelphi Terrace as an Adam masterpiece. I have been interested in looking at the elevation of this building as it was restored in 1870, and at the elevation of the building as it was originally when it was built by the Brothers Adam long before 1870.

The curious thing is that one is tempted to say that, if Adam brothers were in this House to-day, they would support this Bill as strongly as possible in the hope that the building which now stands, which is credited to them, might at the earliest opportunity be pulled down. I am not saying it at all facetiously. The original Adam elevation showed on the ground floor every front door with different adornments, each equally attractive. The architect restoring in 1870 abolished all that and put in uniform doors. On the first floor the old Adam elevation showed most attractive iron work. The architect restoring abolished all that. On the second floor the windows were not uniform. Some were of one type and those in the middle of the building of another. The architect restoring made them uniform. Finally, having raised the roof of the old Adam building, instead of leaving the original plain frontage the architect restoring put in the middle of the building an erection—I do not know its architectural term but it is there to-day for Members to see it if they want to do so and, not being satisfied with that, he plastered the whole of the old brick over with stucco. That is why I say when it comes to considering the architectural interest of the building hon. Members ought to realise that, old though the original building may be, the building that stands there to-day is not the building that was put up by Adam and probably not the building that he would like to stand there if he were alive to-day.

But surely there is another point that the House ought to consider. Parliament cannot stop this building being pulled down, however much it tries. That has been made clear by every speaker and by the Chairman of Ways and Means. The building is actually in the hands of trustees. Trustees cannot consult their own tastes. They have to do the best they can for those who benefit under the trust, and it may well be that, if this Bill is thrown out, these trustees will say: "If we cannot do what we want to do, we will pull it down and put up the most lucrative building that we can." As I understand it, they will be perfectly entitled to put up on the existing site a sky-scraper of large dimensions profitable to those who benefit under the trust. Surely, when one is up against a position like that, the sensible thing to do is to try to come to terms with the trustees and make the best terms that can be made for the benefit of the public whom we represent, to give the owners their full share and to give the general public as much protection as possible. The County Council and the Westminster City Council have driven a hard bargain with the promoters of the Bill. They gained this very large area of land and they gained a large contribution to the road-making which will be necessary.

In spite of the modesty of the hon. Member for Richmond (Sir W. Ray), who disclaimed any desire to say that they had been actuated by an artistic sense, in Clause 33, which I understand was put in in another place on the representations of one of these public bodies, these councils, who have been accused of looking at the matter through the spectacles of rateability rather than of artistry, have certainly safeguarded themselves and secured, as far as they can, that whatever building is put up shall receive the approval of artistic persons. Before any building can be started, an architect appointed by the Royal Academy has to approve it, and, if he disapproves, an advisory committee carefully appointed has to approve. It seems to me that the County Council and the Westminster City Council have done their best to ensure that whatever building is eventually put up, which they cannot stop being put up, shall conform as far as possible to artistic taste. With great temerity, as a very junior Member of the House, I make this suggestion. The County Council and the Westminster City Council, who are the people primarily interested in a scheme of this sort, have gone exhaustively into it, as the Bill shows, and when they have decided that the Bill is one which they can support and which is for the benefit of the public we, who have to consider subjects ranging over a far wider field than any local authority has to do, when we come to a subject in their special purview ought to pay great attention to the decision to which they have come. It is for that reason that I very much hope the House will adopt the suggestion of the Chairman of Ways and Means and send the Bill to a Committee where all these points can be properly investigated.

9.23 p.m.

Captain DOWER

As the owner of a small part of the Adelphi, which does not come actually under the operation of the Bill, and as one who has been interested in the Adelphi for a considerable time, long before the Bill was in contemplation, I should like to make a few observations which, perhaps, have not been mentioned in the Debate. Unlike Members of the Opposition, I am in favour of giving full support to private ownership and encouragement to owners to develop their estates. I am not going to say a word against the Bill because its object is private profit, but, when it comes to a question of encouraging private enterprise, we are entitled to look at the form that private enterprise is going to take and, when its effect is obviously going to be to wipe out one of the last remaining links with eighteenth century London and to pull down what are undoubtedly very beautiful Adam houses, I think the House is entitled to inquire into the rights and wrongs of the proposal.

The other suggestion I should like to put forward is that if we can save the Adelphi without infringing the rights of the owners of this estate, this House should not hesitate to wonder whether they are doing the right thing to sanction the pulling down of the Adelphi which will certainly follow the passing of this Bill. Numerous hon. Members, including the hon. Member for Kettering (Mr. Eastwood), said that the owners of the Estate could pull down their buildings if and when they so desired. That is true and, as a Conservative Member, I am not out to take away these privileges from them, but I do sincerely suggest from my own small knowledge of the Adelphi and of the value of the properties there that they will not actually pull down the Adelphi if they are unable to build on the foreground. I want hon. Members to realise that this is not a question of old or derelict property. It is a very valuable property. This is a property where if there is a vacancy there is a constant demand, and it commands a very fair rental. If you take the average house in the Adelphi I should be very surprised if it did not produce at least £500 a year net. This is not an old and derelict property, and I know if I possessed property in this part of the Adelphi and had not the right to build on the foreground I should certainly not pull down the present Adam buildings that exist there, because it would not pay me to do so.

The second point that I want to put forward is that certain hon. Members have said that these properties are not beautiful, and I believe the hon. Member for Kettering also said that if the Adam Brothers were here they would not even recognise them. I cannot agree with him. I would like hon. Members to go to these properties—and I can give the numbers—where you will find the most beautiful ceilings, fireplaces and staircases, and, in addition, there is the still more beautifully characteristic and delightful shapes of the Adam rooms. I think hon. Members, whether they are for or against the Bill, will really agree that this is a unique part of London and probably one of the last existing really big developments of town planning by the Adam Brothers. I agree that the exterior was altered and stuccoed and so on, but we have the words of Professor Bolton that for a sum of £15,000 the original front could be restored. I, for one, feel very strongly on this point, that it would be a shame and that London would suffer an irreparable damage if this Adelphi estate was wiped out. We should lose the historic connection which it carries. I would like to take hon. Members to a property that I own, No. 10, Adam Street, and to go down not only to the basement but to the sub-basement, down the old original stone steps right to the bottom where you will find an old gateway that has existed since 1770 and has been used ever since then. If this Bill is passed it will be blocked up and destroyed. Out of that gateway you come into the old arches, and they are really a very unique portion of old London. I think it would be a great shame if those arches also were destroyed.

I do not intend to weary hon. Members by going into details, but I want to be quite clear with regard to the view. Of course, in the winter you get a beautiful view of the river right away to St. Paul's. In the summer the trees do undoubtedly obscure it, but I think those hon. Members who say that it is not appreciated are those who had no knowledge of the Adelphi until they heard this Bill was coming before the House. The other point I want to make is this. I do not want to trespass upon the advice I gather we have received, but we are told that the public are going to have the benefit of the widening of these roads. I, for one, do not value that greatly. These roads as they now stand are ample for their present traffic, but if a large building is to be put up and a vast number of other people are interested in it, of course, these roads will have to be widened. I believe we can save the Adelphi, not by interfering with the rights of the present owners, which I should he distinctly against, but by not adding our weight behind it by giving them powers which they have not got at present. For that reason I do most earnestly ask the House to consider the grave responsibility that is going to rest on their shoulders. It has been said that a thing of beauty is a joy for ever, and surely there are heaps of early Victorian monstrosities we can get busy about. I do not think any of us would mind seeing these pulled down, but to sacrifice what we all consider and really believe is an architectural masterpiece and a memory that carries us back to days gone by is a very great mistake in order to pander to what I would call the modern craze for mammoth buildings.

9.32 p.m.


The House has already listened at some length to the arguments for and against this Bill. Various estimates have been put forward of the advantages to be gained by the owners of property and those who are interested as the promoters of the Bill. Various estimates have also been put forward as to the public advantage. I would, however, ask the House to go back to the main principle which we are asked to determine now, and that is whether it is on the whole to the public advantage that the proposals of the promoters should be carried through, subject to amendments and improvements by this House in Committee, or should they be compelled either to leave matters as they are or to proceed, as they are at liberty to proceed, with a very much reduced and consequently imperfect scheme? The right hon. Gentleman the Chairman of Ways and Means, who favoured the House with his views on this subject and gave it the benefit of his guidance in a manner for which I think every Member present will feel indebted to him, pointed out that what the House had to determine was whether a great question of principle was involved and not matters which, however important, really belonged to the realm of detail. If I can see in this matter a great principle emerging, it will be that the House should make use of its machinery to render any scheme, however good it may appear to be to the promoters, as perfect in the interests of the public as the powers which the House can bring to bear can render possible.

The House is asked to give this Bill a Second Reading, and I think that it can scarcely decline to do so. Certainly the House would be very ill-advised if it decided so to act. The history of this question is already a fairly long one. Its pros and cons have been very fully discussed and debated in another place. The scheme as we now know it is very substantially different from that which was first considered. Hon. Members who have read the report of the Debates in another place will be fully aware of the very great financial sacrifice which the promoters have been called upon to make at the instance of the great public authorities, and, consequently, in the public interest. I regret that I take a different view from that of one at least of the other Londoners who have spoken. I think that I am the third Londoner who has so far taken part in this Debate. My hon. Friend the Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison) and I find ourselves in agreement upon many things. We are both proud of the City, parts of which we have the honour to represent, and I share with the hon. Gentleman the Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee) in being a, Londoner, born and bred. If I take a different view with regard to this project it is because. however much I may agree with my hon. Friend as to the advantage which would have resulted if the whole of the area from Westminster to Blackfriars could have been laid out according to some great plan, and that it might have been a very much better development than that with which we are now concerned, the House is asked to deal with circumstances as they are now, and not with matters as they might have been if there had been more perfect conditions. If hon. Members will really consider the scheme as it is presented to them now, there can be no doubt that, however much hon. Members may belittle the advantage of widening streets and giving access to traffic, the public of London will substantially gain if the scheme is accepted subject to any details which may be discussed and debated, and determined in the Committee stage.

Personally, I have one reservation to make with regard to my acceptance of the proposals. Everyone is anxious, that whatever building is put up, and whatever lay-out of the land of the area is ultimately determined upon, the amenities and the artistic characteristics of the river-side frontage shall not be sacrificed and that it will result in the erection thereon of a building which will conform to the best architectural standards of the day. Both in recent years and in past years buildings have been erected on important sites in London which many of us view, if not with 'distaste, certainly with very limited enthusiasm, especially many of those described as being of the Victorian era, and it is because one wants to see the present site developed in the best possible manner that upon it should appear a building conforming to the highest architectural standards of the time. In company with an hon. Friend I have put on the Order Paper an Instruction to the Committee, and I recommend that hon. Members should without hesitation give the Bill a Second Reading, and should rely upon the Committee, guided in the terms of the Instruction, to see that the amenities, the future perspective, the standard of building, and consequently the effect upon that area of London, are safely preserved and the standards which we desire to see are adequately maintained. After the advice which the right hon. Gentleman the Chairman of Ways and Means gave the House, I think that hon. Members cannot decline to give the Bill a Second Read- ing, and they might well be advised to be the more ready to give a Second Reading if they will, when the time comes, support the Instruction which I have taken the liberty of putting upon the Order Paper.

9.41 p.m.


I was rather surprised to hear the hon. Member for Richmond (Sir W. Ray) and the hon. Member for Kettering (Mr. Eastwood) put forward the argument that in opposing the Second Reading of this Bill they are not receiving fair play. Surely the argument that, because the Bill was passed by the House of Lords, therefore we should, as a matter of procedure, without any discussion, let it go to a Select Committee, cannot be held here for a moment. We have rights and responsibilities. We have to pass the Second Reading of the Bill, and I am sure that the House will have within its recollection action taken recently on Private Bills which dealt with the matter very stringently. We were all very much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman the Chairman of Ways and Means for his kind advice in the matter, and his views. I am sure that he will pardon me if I transgess unintentionally beyond what he said.

There are points of principle involved here which ought to be decided by this House before the Bill goes to a Select Committee. There are two points to which I should like to draw attention. The first is that these restrictions were imposed in the public interest many years ago, and I do not see that there is any good reason for their removal. The reverse is generally the argument. If there were really any reason in the public interest, not merely that we were getting a quid pro quo, the onus is upon those who want the restrictions removed. They ought to show that it is very much in the public interest that these restrictions should be removed. I hold that that onus has not been discharged, and that it is a matter for this House to consider.

The second point is that I object strongly to the spoiling of this little bit of open-air amenity. According to the right hon. Gentleman the Chairman of Ways and Means, whether that would be spoilt or not would be a question for the Committee, but I venture to think that it is a matter which every Member of this House who is acquainted with the locality can and ought to judge for him- self. It is my custom to walk through that little piece of garden many times a day, and I am very much struck by the use that is made of it by various members of the community. The poor people come down from the Drury Lane district and take their children to play there in the mornings. In the middle of the day it is used by women clerks, who take their lunch out there, and in the evening the elderly people come and walk about and enjoy themselves in the gardens there. It is a very great amenity in crowded London.

It is said that we shall be only giving up a strip of five feet. That may be so in the width of the ground, but instead of having a. space right away north, with only small buildings beyond, we shall have right up against us an enormous building which will interfere with the light and air that comes to this small piece of playground for the citizens of London. People say that in matters of this kind we ought not to be in any way guided by sentiment, but I think that sentiment is a very important thing, properly considered. Let us look at it in this way. Supposing, for commercial reasons, the Government promoted a Bill to pull down the Tower of London and to erect on the site some great sky-scraping building. Does any hon. Member say that we should not be guided by sentiment in that case? Of course we should. We should say that we would not tolerate such a thing for a moment. Sentiment is a very valuable thing, and I know of no body more able to judge proper sentiment than this House. I therefore ask the House to reject the Second Reading of the Bill.

9.47 p.m.


I listened with very considerable surprise to the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge University (Sir J. Withers). As a Conservative and a member of the legal profession, I should have thought that he would have taken an entirely opposite view of the rights of the trustees of the Adelphi Estate. Let me recapitulate to the House the position. In 1771 the land was handed over, including the land that is now called the foreground, and vested in the Adam Brothers and their partners. The land is to-day equally vested in the trustees of the Adelphi. The foreground land has never belonged to the public, to the London County Council or to the Westminster City Council. It has belonged to, and it belongs to-day, to the trustees. All that was laid down at the time that it was granted to the Adam Brothers was, and all that remains today is, that no building higher than 20 feet should be erected on the foreground.


Am I not correct in saying that the foreground was an encroachment on public rights originally by enclosing a piece of the foreshore which belonged to the public?


I speak with diffidence before so eminent an authority of the law, but I am given to understand, and I gather from my reading of the evidence before the Select Committee, that that land does in fact belong to the trustees, and they are asking the leave of Parliament to rescind an ancient law which prevents them from erecting a building higher than 20 feet upon the foreground. Exactly the same condition applied to the land on either side. The same condition obtained in regard to the land now covered by the Shell-Mex Building, and the land now covered by the Savoy. Twice during the last century, in 1865 and in 1870, Parliament in its wisdom granted to the owners of that land power to build higher than 20 feet. How can we to-day, in justice, say that Parliament can deny to one set of individuals what it has twice, on two separate occasions in different years, accorded to others. Parliament has by that very alteration admitted that the objects for which the prevention had been put upon the owners ho longer existed. I think we should be doing an extremely unfair thing if because of an ulterior motive, however good that motive may be, we were to commit an act which in my opinion is inequitable and unjust.

One word about the action of the Westminster City Council. The action of the London County Council has been most admirably described by my hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Sir W. Ray), than whom no one can speak with more authority. The position which the Westminster City Council took up in the matter is very much the same as that taken by the London County Council. They felt, as I feel, that they would dislike to see the Adelphi pulled down, for sentimental and aesthetic reasons, but they also felt that when there was a chance of this scheme going through, without any knowledge as to whether Parliament would pass it or not, their duty was to make the best bargain they possibly could on behalf of the public and the ratepayers. They have made a very good bargain, which has been described here to-night. They have got a bargain under which the roads are to be widened at the cost of the promoters of the scheme, that the land which now belongs to the promoters of the scheme shall be handed over to the City of West minster, both great advantages in themselves; and it is arranged by Clause 33—

Captain DOWER

Will the hon. and gallant Member say what the public are going to lose?


Has not the City Surveyor of Westminster said that this is not required unless the building was polled down and a new building put up?


It is not necessarily required at the present moment, but who can say that in a few years or a few months it will not be required. Who is going to say that traffic will remain stationary, and not increase? The City Council would have been very unwise if it had not accepted every possible chance of widening and improving its streets, and how much more so when it can obtain both free in space and in money. If they had not taken those very wise steps they would not have been acting in the public interest. They will be sorry, and I shall be sorry, both from the aesthetic and the sentimental point of view, to lose the amenities of the Adelphi, but if that takes place we shall make quite certain that in its place there will be put up a building which in height will not the higher than the Savoy, therefore making a pendant to the skyline, that we shall have a building which will be passed by a committee of known and established tastes, that we shall have a little more cohesion in the general skyline of the Embankment at Westminster, and that if we do lose from the point of view of sentiment we shall largely, through the action of these two councils, have in London a more homogenous, architectural water front than we have at the present time. The ratepayers of Westminster, I do not despise it in the least, will get a higher rateable value and thank their council for the wisdom of the steps they have taken, whether this plan succeeds or not.

9.55 p.m.


I rise to support those hon. Members who have moved the rejection of the Bill. The Chairman of Ways and Means, in a speech very clear, judicial, and impartial, has removed from our consideration certain minor points which I agree are properly matters for consideration by the Committee, but he left for our free discussion one point which he put in this form. Even if we reject the Bill there is only a slender hope that Adelphi Terrace will not be pulled down; if we pass this Bill it is certain that Adelphi Terrace will be pulled down; it is certain that those classic shades, in which some of us take an interest and where perhaps we find more inspiration in the great writers of the eighteenth century than in Blue Books which are obsolete in a fortnight's time, will have to go. If we reject the Bill there is a chance of them having the privilege to remain there a little longer. I do not know how long; but as long as I can manage to keep them there.

There is no question of law in this matter. If there was a question of law I should not care very much. I do not pose as one of the great legal authorities in this House, but I know enough about it to be aware of the fact that in the past it has been invoked to obstruct progress and bolster up inequity. We are not here as a court of law; we are not pronouncing upon the rights of those who own the Adelphi; we are not considering a question of rescription in their case. We are being asked to give them a present, not in the interest of the public. As far as aesthetics are concerned, there is not a man of taste who will say that London is going to be improved by the destruction of this unique structure. Is anybody going to be healthier and happier? The owners of the estate are going to get something which by the wisdom of our ancestors they were forbidden doing. It is all very well to say that it is an old Statute of the eighteenth century. Perhaps our ancestors of the eighteenth century had a more aesthetic conception than we have to-day. Perhaps in their nightmare dream they saw what their descendants were going to do. I am told that there are precedents. Of course there are, very dreadful precedents, which anybody can see who in the course of his lawful occupation passes from the Temple to Westminster. There are the dreadful precedents of the Savoy Hotel and Shell Mex. The issue really is this. Are we going to follow bad precedents or create a good one? We are told that this must be decided on principle. I offer to this House this proposition of principle; that it is time that this flood of barbarism was stopped. There is some kind of proposal in the Bill to refer this matter to a Fine Art Commission—


The Bill provides that it shall be referred to a tribunal of architects.


I hope the hon. and gallant Member will remember what some supposed architects did in the 10th century at Cambridge and Oxford. Those people who called themselves architects in those days have left works which we regard with abhorrence, and is it certain that architectural experts to-day will not leave behind them things which will be regarded with equal abhorrence by our descendants 40 and 50 years hence? An hon. Member who supported the Second Reading said: "Look at what has happened to the Embankment? See how it has changed. How it is dominated. The time is ripe for further development." Dominated! I should think it was. Further development! In plain English that means further abominations. Not only do they dominate it by day, as some of us who seek a breath of fresh air out of doors in summer time know, but they dominate it equally by night. When all things lovely and virtuous have decently retired to bed, when Westminster Abbey, St. Paul's Cathedral and Lambeth Palace are shrouded in darkness, these neo-Babylonian outrages even by night flood themselves with light and force their attentions upon us, like a lot of vulgar street walkers with painted faces who are still up and doing when all decent women are asleep.

This may be a sentimental appeal. Is this House to turn a deaf ear to the voice of sentiment and taste, to the voice of historical sense? Are we always to be guided by the nauseating view of money and profit? Of course, it is right that a man should do what he likes with his own provided he does not injure other people. In the time in which my hon. Friend's mind dwells, 200 years ago, when architectural progress and intellect were rather backward, the first point of that proposition was stressed—that a man could do what he liked with his own. In 1933 we recognise the second point as more important—provided that he does not injure other people If this were a question of health and morals, if I thought that by tearing down Adelphi Terrace I could make one hundred working-class children happier, if I thought it was an obstruction to progress and recreation; I would tear down Westminster Abbey if I thought that could be proved about it. But it is not, it i9 nothing of the sort. It is merely continuing a very bad precedent of passing in this House, where we do not declare the law but make it, a Bill expensively promoted it is true, with great counsel, making a present to private people, and giving them the right to erect another of these abominations, in a district which is already sufficiently disfigured and degraded.

I may as well make a personal autobiographical confession. In the brave days when I was 21 I had chambers in the Adelphi, not in Adelphi Terrace, because that is only part of the area which we are discussing. Adelphi Terrace is not the best part of the Adelphi. You have Robert Street, John Street, and Alliance Buildings, the finest work of the Adam Brothers, which is known throughout the world, and in America, and which will be known when Shell-Mex have gone into the limbo of forgotten things. In those days I wrote on my door, being somewhat interested in the Clasics, a Greek prayer to the Gods of Hellas to preserve from evil that sacred shrine. A succession of tenants have respected that inscription, I saw it there only a few years ago, but I cannot help thinking that some Philistine tenant has now effaced it. Flectere si nequeo Superos Acheronta movebo. If heaven itself will not listen to me I must appeal to—Parliament. If I cannot appeal to an aesthetic sense, if I cannot appeal to a sense of history, then allow me, without offence to this distinguished House, to appeal to them on the lowest and most sordid basis. There are people called tourists. Some of them are Americans. What is it that attracts them to London? Some people say it is baths and sanitation and luxurious flats. It is not. The people who have catered for them on those lines are rapidly going bankrupt all along Park Lane. It is not the shops. They like the shops better in Paris, and will do so whether we remain Free Trade or adopt Protection. They come to London because they can see things here that they cannot find in Chicago or Cincinnati. Their appreciation of these things grows day by day and year by year. When we have doomed to death some beautiful historic house in England, they even go to the expense of taking the stones to America, and we curse them when they do it. We say, "There is another American millionaire erecting a beautiful Manor House in Illinois or Ohio. What right have they to do that?" They value more and more the things that we wish to see torn down and destroyed in our own historic cities. If I cannot appeal to aesthetic sense and the sense of feeling for history, let me ask the House to defeat the vandals, because vandalism does not itself pay.

10.7 p.m.


I want to mention one or two points that have been left out of the discussion. We all feel with the bon. and learned Member for Swindon (Sir R. Banks) that where there is a question of taste concerned in national monuments and the national metropolis, it is high time that this Parliament had some idea of that and put some value on it as opposed to materialism pure and simple. But the hon. and gallant Gentleman has taken it for granted that there is only one thing to be considered in taste—


It is pertinent to this question—"learned" and not "gallant."


I should have said the hon. and learned Member for Swindon, but he was also gallant, I like to remember. He and others who have spoken on taste have taken for granted what we naturally very often take for granted, that the standard of taste of the 18th century, or particular little bits which illustrate the artistry of that or other dates, must be preserved at all costs. That they should be preserved is obvious. But if we are considering these things from the one point of view that is necessary to Parliament in trying to over-rule the opinions of the local authorities, surely there is the other point of view, which is concentrated upon a standard of feeling and progress in an art which I am bound to say I think very few of us sympathise with, or are qualified to understand. The modern development of architecture is in a direction that very likely most of us in this House deplore. I am bound to say that I do not understand it myself. But it is not limited to this country. You find all over the Continent modern directions that are recognised in the new form of architecture, particularly that kind which my hon. and learned Friend stigmatised as Neo-Babylonian. But although we dislike it, people are taken and go to study that architecture, from this country and from all countries. They go to see the wonderful new architecture of Stockholm, Oslo, Denmark, Germany, Austria, France and Italy, all in the new Neo-Babylonian style.

Even in this country, if we take the modern architecture in this city, is it in the style of the Adam brothers or in the Neo-Babylonian style? Much of it is in the Neo-Babylonian style, Yet that is the product of a profession of art with which apparently we are out of date. Are we going to say that our taste is right and that those whose profession it is to study and think out these things are wrong? We are apparently opposed to progress in one body of the art of this country with which we have no association. I hate the modern developments as much as most people, and I cannot help feeling that I am a back number. I say also that the hon. and learned Member for Swindon is a back number, and the whole of the House who are applauding the hon. and learned Member are back numbers also. We must look to development, and if we cannot do it we must leave it to others.


The hon. and gallant Gentleman has misunderstood my argument. It is quite a debatable question whether the Neo-Babylonian style is right or wrong in buildings on new sites. My point with regard to the Adams Brothers was: Others abide our question; thou art free. Do not let us tear these buildings down for an experiment.


We have the main body who are concerned in architectural taste, the Royal Institute of British Architects. They are about to erect a. temple of their own profession in Portland Street. What kind of building is it to be? I know it is to be a building largely in the modern style of architecture. What are we to consider The real beauty of this view of the River is not the beauty of one particular section. The real beauty is the magnificent sweep of the Thames as seen especially from Hungerford Bridge. I have been there frequently and went there last night to see it. We saw it to a large extent spoiled by the new Shell-Mex building. You have an obvious big vacuum to the left of the Shell-Mex building. Is that occupied by Adelphi Terrace? You look from Hungerford Bridge and you can hardly see the Adelphi Terrace.

A great deal of what has been brought before us in this Debate has been brought before us in imagination. An hon. Member shakes his head. If the hon. Member goes to Hungerford Bridge he will find that he can hardly see the Adelphi Terrace. That is in the summer and it is in the summer mostly that people notice these things. After having been stopped by the guardians, we did as a matter of fact go by a little back path through some bushes and trees, so that we were able to see Adelphi Terrace. But even then we saw, underneath, vaults and courts which suggested another world entirely, a place not of beauty, but much more resembling what one expects mews or slum quarters to be. Where you can look, as if with a microscope, through spaces between the trees and get glimpses of the Adelphi Terrace, there is a great deal that is beautiful, although, as has been pointed out, it is not the beauty which the Brothers Adam originally suggested. Indeed most of that has been considerably spoilt.

The argument is then advanced that that can be put right and that the building can be restored for £15,000. Who is going to find that £15,000.? Will any of the hon. Members who have spoken so loundly for art to-night come forward with that £15,000 to give us the beauty which they have been proclaiming? My hon. and learned Friend spoke quite rightly of the internal beauties of these houses, but what good are they to the public? Will he and other owners and occupiers of these houses allow us to see the true Adam beauties which are with in? Will they allow the public to go through the houses and see them. Of course they will not. Therefore it is a matter for private enterprise to maintain the beauties which are inside these buildings. Those beauties are useless to the public at present. It must he for those who like my hon. and learned Friend can make large sums by their magnificent professional services to subscribe in order to provide the public with the beauties which he wishes this Parliament by force of law to maintain.

There is one thing that I want to see retained for the public and it can be retained by means of such a scheme as this, probably with the help of the Fine Art Commission. Anybody who goes to the Adelphi Terrace, as very few people, even lovers of the beautiful in London ever do, will find that through the trees it is possible to get fine views down into the Gardens below and over parts of the river. In winter I have no doubt the view is very fine although I have never been there in winter, with all my love of London and knowledge of London. I have no doubt that in winter not only can you get a very fine view there but you can also enjoy the health-giving breezes from the river. Therefore I would like to see the Adelphi Terrace retained in a new form and it would be quite possible to do so in compatibility with the new plan. It is suggested that a tunnel roadway should be made through the present Adelphi Terrace. That, to my mind, would be hateful and would deprive the public of a real advantage. I suggest that there should be introduced into the plan a roadway, level with the future front of the building, with arcading in between, so that people in vehicles and foot passengers would be able to enjoy those amenities of the Terrace to which I have just referred, under the new conditions.

I do not think that we should put the brake of this House, upon a measure of progress which properly concerns the Westminster City Council and the London County Council as the elected representatives of the people. Some of my hon. Friends who have spoken against this Bill have over and over again spoken violently against restrictions placed upon trade by Governments. I think their position is most inconsistent. We cannot allow interference at the present time with ordinary measures of progress whether by private or public enterprise. What we must try to do is to preserve the real amenities and I suggest that what hon. Members have been speaking of tonight are sham rather than real amenities. The real amenity is being able to go on to the Adelphi Terrace and to enjoy the view from there. Therefore I think we ought to support the Second Reading of the Bill and have it referred to a Committee. I hope that an instruction will he given also, to have the matter referred to the Fine Arts Commission in order to get the wider view of the art aspect of the question, the only art view with which we ought to be concerned.

10.20 p.m.


I find in this Debate, in which we have not had the Chief Whip calling on Members to vote in a particular way, a freedom of expressing views and of voting that is unusual in these days, and I find myself to-night in strange company. I find myself in the company of the hon. Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison), whose company I have not shared in a Division Lobby, I suppose, since he and I entered the House. I do not believe that there has been a very strong argument put forward in favour of the Bill. The strongest plea has been that the Bill ought to get its Second Heading so that it could go to Committee and there be amended, if amendment were necessary. That would be true if the principles embodied in the Bill were to be accepted, but the Bill raises certain questions of principle on which a decision must be taken now. There is little point in sending it to a Committee to deal with these large questions.

I am not going to stress unduly the sentimental argument which was put by the hon. and learned Gentleman. I remember, in 1930 or early 1931, having to decide whether an old Wren period house in Battersea should be retained or destroyed and the site used for housing purposes. Had it been Adelphi Terrace, I think it would have gone for housing, but there was not anything embodying that spirit in that area, and that house still remains. It is no good people speaking to me about progress, and it ill becomes the hon. and gallant Member opposite to speak about progress. It is a new phase that he should now be the embodiment of progress as represented by this neo-Babylonian architecture. The point is that if you destroy whatever there is of value and beauty in Adelphi Terrace, it is gone for ever. A Neo-Babylonian building could be erected on the site of, shall we say, Queen Anne's Mansions. That would be modern progress, and I should be in favour of it, but Adelphi Terrace is different, as there is something there that embodies a spirit which ought to be maintained. I am not stressing that side of it unduly, because I agree with the hon. and learned and, I believe, gallant Gentlemen, who said that if this were a question affecting the child life of this country, affecting vital human interests, it should go. I think that is the right view to take, but there is another aspect of this question.

Some 300 years ago Christopher Wren was born. After the Great Fire of London, if Christopher Wren had had his way, if he had been able to carry out the vision and the plan that he saw, London and Greater London would have been a nobler piece of work than it is to-day, and the City of London would not be the collection of mean narrow streets that it is to-day. There would have been wide and noble thoroughfares, which would have set a standard for the growing districts outside, and the whole of London would have been an area to-day which might have been manageable, even with the necessities of modern traffic and modern transport. It did not happen, and modern London, with all its congestion, with all its traffic problems, with all its problems of building and housing, is very largely due to the fact that two and a-half centuries ago the men who had vision were not allowed to have a chance, and immediate considerations won the day. This Bill is an attempt again to make this House commit itself to immediate considerations instead of to something much larger.

It is high time that the London County Council and the other authorities within the London area had a picture of the London which they think ought to be. It is high time there was a plan for the whole of the area of London, and that people were looking forward 50 years to the possibility of the London of that day. I remember being twitted in this House when I said that there was a town-planning report from Liverpool which referred in its opening sentence to 200 years from now. Surely the author of that report was right. One must look a long way ahead, and it is highly important that London should. Let us suppose that this little enclave round about Adelphi, coming to us from the 18th century, is destroyed. Let us suppose that two or three million pounds worth of big buildings are put up and that, 10 years from now, London finds that in the interests of London, and it may be of the country because of road facilities, there is a Charing Cross scheme which can be agreed upon and this enormous monument stands in its way. What is going to happen? The interests of London will be pushed aside because it will be said that 10 years previously Parliament gave its blessing to this.


It was reported to us that those in charge of the different Charing Cross Bridge schemes have definitely given it as their opinion that this scheme in no way affects the development of the Charing Cross Bridge.


I heard what was said about that. I am saying that 10 years from now there may be wiser people. There may be a scheme, and that scheme may be one which will involve dealing with the area which it is now proposed to allow itself, on its own little miserable town planning arrangements, to come into existence. Is it not right that we should say in this House, having regard to all the problems that have been created by not thinking out these problems as a whole, that we cannot allow relatively small private interests to come along and say, "We are going to have our own little bit of town-planning," and to do that regardless of much wider considerations? I should have thought that Members of the House would agree to vote against this scheme, not because I know anything whatever about the promoters of the Bill; I do not; but I would suggest that Members should vote against it on the broad ground that we cannot do this kind of piecemeal reconstruction of London. It must be done on a general plan, and until that general plan is in existence any attempt to fill in details of the picture may conflict with what will be the general plan of the future. With this enormous congregation of over 7,000,000 people, with its needs not yet fulfilled, with possibilities which we do not know, it would be a great pity if, because London has not thought out what it wanted to be, we should permit this little area to take a step which might interfere with the London of the future. I hope that in the interests of town and regional planning, in the interests of the organised development of the country, the House will refuse to give the Bill a Second Reading, not because it is not interested in the development of London, but because this is surely the wrong way to try and bring it about.

10.30 p.m.


After listening carefully to mast of the speeches in this Debate it seems to me those who have taken part are divided into two classes—the sentimentalists and those w-ho want to see progress and realise that we cannot stop the rebuilding and reconstruction of London. The right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood) was rather contradictory. First he made a plea for the beauty of the Adelphi, and asked for its protection, and then, in finishing his speech, suggested that in 10 years' time we might agree to a scheme for a bridge which would mean the destruction of Adelphi Terrace. We have had a great many speeches dealing with the sentimental aspect of retaining the Adelphi; we have had floods not of barbarism but of sentimentalism, and a good deal of criticism of the present-day type of architecture. I suggest that those who are so critical of present-day architecture should go out on to the Terrace and look along the river at the new buildings Shell-Mex House and the Savoy building. I suggest respectfully that those buildings have a certain majesty and a certain grandeur. The Adelphi as a place of peace and beauty is overshadowed by those buildings and we cannot retain it any longer. The arguments against the Bill are put forward from a sentimental point of view; I have not heard a single argument put up outside that point of view.

Let us take the other side of the picture. The promoters of the Bill are offering to the public in this part of London a very considerable area; they have offered us new streets, increased circulation of traffic round there, and the public are going to benefit by that, and benefit very considerably, and they will also benefit by the views they will get from Adelphi Terrace. How many of the public go there at present—except a lucky few who happen to have a flat there or live in chambers? They are the only persons who get the benefit of the Adam architecture and decoration. If the new scheme is carried out there will be room for the general public. It will give them a chance of seeing the view of the river about Which so much has been heard. One last consideration is that this scheme holds out the prospect of a very large amount of work in that particular district; a sum of £1,000,000 or £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 is to be spent on new buildings to be erected there. The elevation and the planning of those new buildings will be looked after by the various authorities who have charge of architecture in London. It will mean a large amount of work for the building trade and other trades. We want to find employment to-day, and as long as that employment is properly directed I suggest this Bill should be given a Second Reading. The Chairman of Ways and Means, in an entirely neutral position, suggests that it should be given a Second Reading, and puts before us the safeguards the Committee will be able to consider, and I do ask the House to give the promoters a Second Reading.

10.34 p.m.


Different Members of the House approach the question of the preservation of the Adelphi from different points of view. Some are interested in the Adelphi as a literary centre, some are interested in it from the commercial point of view, and some from the architectural point of view. I confess that my primary interest in the Adelphi is due to it being the creation of that remarkable man Robert Adam. May I recall, in passing, the fact that Robert Adam was a Member of this House? Imaginative Members can fancy his ghost standing beside the Speaker's chair, listening to this discussion as to the destruction of one of his finest works. The story of Robert Adam is interesting, and can be told in a very few words. He was a young and ambitious Scottish architect who was interested in Roman architecture. In the middle of the 18th century he went to stay at Spalato, in Dalmatia—a city which I had the pleasure of visiting last year—in order to sketch the remains of the famous Palace of Diocletian. While he was occupied in sketching the remains of the Palace of Diocletian the Venetian Governor of Spalato sent a message, telling him to stop his work. It so happened that the Commander-in-Chief of the Republic of Venice was in Spalato at the time. He was a Scotsman named Graeme, and Robert Adam appealed to him as a brother Scot. He came to the rescue and secured permission for Adam to complete the sketches. On his return, he published a book of his sketches, which was bought by all the aristocracy, and that laid the foundation of the Adam School of Architecture. Perhaps I may say, incidentally, that in building the Adelphi, Robert Adam employed Irish workmen. He was so dissatisfied by the progress made by those Irish workmen that he brought in a contingent of Scotsmen. A fierce battle between the Scottish workmen and the Irish workmen took place, and, strange to say, the Scots got the worst of it.

The crux of the whole matter seems to lie in the question of the parallelogram of land in front of the terrace. That is the whole crux of the Bill. My feeling with regard to it is that the community, for the surrender of that piece of land, if it is surrendered, are not getting a satisfactory quid pro quo What the Adelphi Trust are offering to the community is not sufficient, and I intend to vote against any measures with regard to the Adelphi until a satisfactory quid pro quo is put forward for the parallelogram on which, at the present time, the Adelphi Trust cannot build.

I began with a piece of history, and I will conclude with a piece of history. When the Adams tried to get their Bill for the reclamation of the land, they met with the most intense hostility from the City of London, because the City of London claimed the foreshore which the Adams appropriated. The Lord Mayor led the opposition to the Bill, and the opponents of the Bill were heard by counsel in Parliament. The feelings of the people of London were well expressed in a satirical song, two lines of which were: Four Scotsmen by the name of Adam, Have stole the very river from us. It happened that the Scottish nation were very powerful at Court at that time. The Adams were Scotsmen, and they exploited that influence and they got their Bill. I would assure the House that the people of London long regarded the Adams as being thieves of property that belonged to the city. When the hon. and learned Member for Swindon (Sir R. Banks) was referring to the literary associations of the Adelphi, I heard an hon. Member on these benches ask, "What are the literary associations of the Adelphi?" May I recall one or two? Johnson and Boswell frequently visited the Adelphi; Garrick lived there; Gibbon, the historian, author of "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," lived there; Rowlandson, the famous caricaturist, lived there; poor Tom Hood lived there; Thomas Hardy got his education in an architect's office in the Adelphi; Sir James Barrie lived there; Dickens, when a boy, played among the arches of the Adelphi. So that, on literary grounds alone, the House should pause before it agrees to the destruction of a building whose beauty so many of us admire.

10.41 p.m.


This Debate has witnessed some strange alliances. I am bound to confess that I never thought I should listen in this House to an alliance between the hon. Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood), and to a dispute between the right. hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield and the hon. Member for St. Albans (Sir F. Fremantle), two of the town planning trinity. It only shows that, when these matters of planning come to be decided one by one, the unanimity which occurs on general principles does not extend to individual cases. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Swindon made an impassioned and very eloquent speech on behalf of sentimentality. It struck me that he tried to have it both ways. On the one hand, be said that we should respect the wisdom of our ancestors, who not only were responsible for building this particular edifice, but were also responsible for passing the law to repeal which this present Bill is promoted. Later on, however, when I ventured to applaud his sentiment that a man could do what he liked with his own, he chided me for having a mind which rambled 200 years behind the present time. That is just about the time when those Bills were passed. Either that period was more wise than the present or it was not, but, if it was, I venture to suggest that those whose minds wander in that period are just as worthy of consideration as the Bills which were passed at that time.

Let us consider exactly what this Bill seeks to do. If the owners of this property, beautiful as it is generally admitted to be, choose to pull it down, there is nothing whatever that the House can do to stop them. The only thing that the House can do is to decide whether the future development shall be along the lines which they now desire, and that power is only vested in the House because of the Act of 1771, which was passed to protect the foreshore. It is admitted on all sides that the conditions which led to the passing of that Act have long since disappeared. They extended to the sites of the Shell Mex building and of the Savoy Hotel, and Parliament, rightly or wrongly, when powers were sought from it in respect of the buildings on those sites, abrogated its right to prevent the erection of buildings there. Therefore, the conditions which were then expected to hold good no longer exist. It is suggested that, because of the particular virtues of this building, we should insist on a right which we have already abrogated.

Let us consider what would happen if we were to pass this Bill. It might be that the building which those who oppose the Bill desire to retain would be immediately destroyed. I think it is very likely. But it is possible that it would not be destroyed. If it were not so, what was foreshadowed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield would infallibly take place, namely, that in the course of a very few years this site, which is a unique corner in a little bit of London left behind the times by advancing development, which I deplore as much as anyone in the House though I have learnt only too bitterly that you cannot stand in the face of advancing development—sooner or later a town-planning scheme backed by some local authority would be brought forward which would sweep this thing away and put some monstrosity in its place. I support the Bill because I believe it is better that the owners should develop their own property than that a local authority should do it for them. I have always held that view. I held it at the time of the first Town Planning Bill and I hold it still. I believe this development will be better than that which will come in the future and, for that reason, I want to see the Bill passed into law.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield talked passionately about preserving this as something which is unique and which should not be destroyed. If the public wish to preserve something of this sort, let them pay for it. There is no conceivable reason why the owners of this property should be prevented from developing it because of the sentimental attitude of the House.

Captain DOWER

They are not prevented from developing it.


Either my hon. and gallant Friend wishes to see it destroyed or he does not. I understood that he wished to see it preserved. If that is so, he wishes to put every impediment in the way of it being destroyed. If he wishes to see the owners inhibited from the chance of destroying it, it should be scheduled as a national monument, compensation should be paid and it should be treated accordingly. [Interruption.] If I am incorrect I apologise. In any case, if you are appealing on sentimental grounds, the owner of the property, who has to pay taxes on it, and whose taxes are not going to be lessened by the fact that you will not allow the property to be developed, should be compensated or else allowed to go ahead. I think this development is better than any that is likely to come in the future.

10.49 p.m.


The hon. Member who has just spoken repeated the argument put forward by the hon. Member for the Abbey Division (Captain Herbert) that in opposing this Bill we are interfering with the rights of property. The Act of 1771 was in the nature of a contract entered into by the Adam Brothers, who thought it was worth their while as speculators to obtain from this House power to reclaim a certain area of land and to develop it for building purposes. During the space of the last 160 years that building has proved to he extremely profitable to its owner. Now at the end of that time the proprietors of that estate are coming to this House and are asking us to relieve them from the restrictions which were imposed in 1771 which were known to their predecessors in the title and which were accepted by them. The position is not even that the contract has turned out to be unduly onerous and hard on the proprietors. It is and always has been an extremely profitable speculation and therefore they cannot even come to this House and ask as a matter of pity that we should modify the terms of the contract which was entered into in 1771.

The right hon. Gentleman the Chairman of Ways and Means explained to the House that there were a number of matters which have been referred to which are subjects suitable for examination by a Committee of this House. He was careful to say at the same time that if there was a matter of principle which was raised, then it would, of course, be perfectly proper for this House to decide that in view of the matter of principle at stake it was not prepared to refer the Bill to the Committee. I venture to suggest that there is, as a matter of fact, a matter of principle. That principle is that there is no justification for repealing restrictions which were imposed in 1771 for the express purpose of enriching private individuals. We are told that at the same time the proprietors are prepared to build certain roads and to make over certain lands to the public, valued at £150,000. With regard to those roads, I would first of all point out that the widening of Robert Street and Adam Street is only necessitated by the fact that there is going to be a great building erected. Is it not unreasonable for the proprietors to say that it is desirable to have wider roads in that part when, as a matter of fact, it was proved before a committee of another House that there is only need for wider roads on the hypothesis that a very large building is actually built and is going to be their property?

The hon. Member for Richmond (Sir W. Ray), in a somewhat apologetic speech, said that the promoters of this Bill had gone so far towards meeting the claims of the London County Council and of the Westminster City Council that he felt he must say a word or two in favour of the Bill. When the proprietors of the estate are coming to Parliament in order to obtain the rescission of certain restrictions and in order that they may make very large profits out of the lands which they already have under certain restrictions, it does not seem to me we are under any very great debt of gratitude to them that they should, in a prudent and careful way, endeavour to conciliate such opposition as there otherwise might be. Of all the arguments put forward by the hon. Member for Richmond the most original and remarkable one was that the Bill should be passed here, or at any rate, referred to a Committee because it was opposed at every stage in the other place. I make no apologies for saying that when this House is being asked to repeal some of these revisions of the 1771 Act, we should consider very anxiously what the effect upon the rights of the public is going to be. The Chairman of Ways and Means rather suggested that if we refused to refer this Bill to a Select Committee we should in some way be depriving individuals of their rights, but surely, as a matter of fact, the purpose of this Bill is to obtain entirely new rights that these individuals have never possessed in the past. On the other hand, we have to consider whether in giving these rights to the proprietors of the Adelphi Estate we are in any way injuring the amenities of the public. It was only a few years ago that this House

showed itself extremely jealous of any attempts to reduce the open spaces in London and a Resolution was passed. to the effect that the House declined to sanction a private Bill in contravention of general public Statutes concerning open spaces for the express purpose of advancing the value of private estates.

I am not ashamed to end up by an appeal to the House to do what it can to preserve the Adelphi Estate with its beauty. The hon. Member for Kettering (Mr. Eastwood) said that the Adam Brothers would not recognise the Adelphi Terrace if they could see it to-day. If he will go to the Adelphi Terrace he will see at each end of the Terrace two old houses which are exactly as the Adam Brothers left them, and although there is no doubt that the Terrace is not as beautiful as the houses which have been left untouched, it is a great exaggeration to say that it would not be recognisable. Of the many pleasant backwaters of town life in London, said a writer, there are few more attractive to the lover of the 18th century than that, and I hope that the House by refusing a Second Reading of the Bill will endeavour to preserve to future generations that pleasant backwater which is reminiscent of the days gone. by.

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

The House divided: Ayes, 117; Noes, 99.

Division No. 261.] AYES. [10.58 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Ford, Sir Patrick J. Lloyd, Geoffrey
Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover) Fremantle, Sir Francis Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)
Atholl, Duchess of Ganzoni, Sir John Lyons, Abraham Montagu
Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) McKie, John Hamilton
Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury) Gluckstein, Louis Halle McLean, Major Sir Alan
Borodale, Viscount Gower, Sir Robert Maitland, Adam
Boulton, W. W. Grenfell, E. C. (City of London) Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest
Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W. Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E. Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Guy, J. C. Morrison Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Meller, Sir Richard James
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H.C. (Berks., Newb'y) Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Merriman, Sir F. Boyd
Buchan, John Harbord, Arthur Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Hartington, Marquess of Milne, Charles
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Heligers, Captain F. F. A. Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)
Chapman, Col. R.(Houghton, le-Spring) Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford) Morrison, William Shephard
Clayton, Sir Christopher Herbert, Capt. S. (Abbey Division) Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.
Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D. Horsbrugh, Florence Owen, Major Goronwy
Colfox, Major William Philip Howard, Tom Forrest Pearson, William G.
Colman, N. C. D. Howitt, Dr. Alfred B. Potter, John
Conant, R. J. E. Hudson. Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)
Cook, Thomas A. Hume, Sir George Hopwood Ramsbotham, Herwald
Copeland, Ida James, Wing.-Com. A. W. H. Ray, Sir William
Cranborne, Viscount Jesson, Major Thomas E. Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Cross, R. H. Joel, Dudley J. Barnato Robinson, John Roland
Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields) Rosbotham, Sir Thomas
Dalkeith, Earl of Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton) Ross Taylor, Waiter (Woodbridge)
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Jones, Henry Haydn (Merloneth) Runge, Norah Cecil
Eimley, Viscount Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton Rutherford, John (Edmonton)
Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare) Lambert, Rt. Hon. George Salt, Edward W.
Erskine, Boist, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool) Leckie, J. A. Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Evans, David Owen (Cardigan) Llewellyn, Jones, Frederick Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart
Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D. Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H. Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)
Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell) Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde) Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Shaw, Captain William T. (Forlar) Stones, James Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)
Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam) Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray F. Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.
Smith, R. W. (Ab'rd'n & Kinc'dine, C.) Sudden, Sir Wilfrid Hart Wragg, Herbert
Smithers, Waldron Summersby, Charles H Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)
Somervell, Donald Bradley Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles
Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East) Thorp, Linton Theodore TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Spencer, Captain Richard A. Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon Lieut.-Colonel Sandeman Allen
and Mr. Eastwood.
Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K. Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd, N.) Maxton, James
Aske, Sir Robert William Graves, Marjorie Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale
Attlee, Clement Richard Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur Nunn, William
Barfield, John William Grigg, Sir Edward O'Donovan, Dr. William James
Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell Groves, Thomas E. Oman, Sir Charles William C.
Batey, Joseph Grundy, Thomas W. Parkinson, John Allen
Bernays, Robert Hamilton, Sir R.W.(Orkney & Z'tl'nd) Pike, Cecil F.
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Hanbury, Cecil Price, Gabriel
Bevan, Stuart James (Holborn) Hanley, Dennis A. Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)
Bird, Sir Robert B. (Wolverh'pton W.) Harris, Sir Percy Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothlan)
Bossom, A. C. Hirst, George Henry Ramsbotham, Herwald
Broadbent, Colonel John Holdsworth, Herbert Ramsden, Sir Eugene
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield) Horobin, Ian M. Rathbone, Eleanor
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries) Rea, Walter Russell
Buchanan, George Hurd, Sir Percy Reid. James S. C. (Stirling)
Burnett, John George Jenkins, Sir William Reid, William Allan (Derby)
Cape, Thomas John, William Smith, Tom (Normanton)
Caporn, Arthur Cecil Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.) Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)
Christie, James Archlbald Lawson, John James Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Leighton, Major B. E. P. Storey, Samuel
Courtauld, Major John Sewell Leonard, William Tate, Mavis Constance
Cripps, Sir Stafford Lindsay, Noel Ker Tinker, John Joseph
Crossley, A. C. Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest Touche, Gordon Cosmo
Daggar, George Logan, David Gilbert Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour
Davies, David L. (Pontypridd) Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander Whiteside, Borras Noel H.
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Lunn, William Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Dower, Captain A. V. G. MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr) Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)
Duckworth, George A. V. McEntee, Valentine L. Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir Arnold (Hertf'd)
Edmondson, Major A. J. McGovern, John Withers, Sir John James
Edwards, Charles Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan) Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Emrys-Evans, P. V. Magnay, Thomas Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)
Entwistle, Cyril Fullard Mainwaring, William Henry
Goldle, Noel B. Mander, Geoffrey le M. TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Martin, Thomas B. Sir W. Davison and Sir A. Steel-Maitland.

Bill read a Second time, and committed.

11.5 p.m.


I beg to move: That it be an Instruction to the Committee to take into consideration the effect of the Bill on the architectural and artistic aspect and other amenities of the river front and, in the event of their approving the preamble of the Bill, to insert a Clause in it requiring that the plans of any new building which it is proposed to erect shall first be submitted for approval to the Royal Fine Art Commission. I have already addressed the House on the main object of the Instruction and, therefore, I think the needs of the occasion will be met if I formally move it.


I beg to second the Motion.

While it may have been desirable for good 'reasons to preserve the original buildings there was no possibility of getting a Second Reading for the Bill and at the same time secure that the buildings would be preserved, but if having given the promoters a Second Reading of the Bill we give this Instruction, we do secure that another body is called in, apart from the promoters and their own architect, to see that a building is put up which will preserve the amenities and character of the place. Many citizens of London take advantage of the gardens at lunch time and in the evening to take their leisure there, get some refreshment, and see the beauties of the site. [HON. MEMBERS: "Agreed!"] I do not believe in flogging a willing horse and, therefore, I will only say that I heartily commend the Instruction to the House.

It being after Eleven of the Clock, and objection being taken to further Proceedings, the Debate stood adjourned.

Debate to be resumed upon Monday next, at Half-past Seven of the Clock.

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