§ 9.55 p.m.
§ Dr. O'DONOVAN
I beg to move to leave out the Clause.
This Amendment is a very modest one. The Clause asks for power to work Aldgate to Grove Road tramway on the overhead system. It has been said that the proposal covers only 1⅞ miles of tramway track but, although the promoters have used in Committee the word "only," what to them is "only" 1⅞ miles of track is the whole of my constituency and a great part of the Whitechapel division of Stepney as well. There is such a thing as Naboth's vineyard, and one vineyard escaped, to wit that termed Bedford Square, for in that area there are many distinguished people whose letters can receive publication in the "Times," and who can speak with ease and persuasion to those in authority, but the area that I represent in default of distinguished people can only produce three Members in this House, one now leading His Majesty's Opposition, one a member of the law, and the other a practising physician, and they are only able to put before Parliament at this stage the very strong objections that we feel to this taking over of a vineyard which is envied by this very powerful corporation. One might almost say that the smallness to which the board draws attention is one reason why it might escape its action. Its promoters say— 498 and it is an unfortunate saying—that "to place the promoters of this Bill at the mercy of the Stepney Borough Council is not a business proposition." If that be so, it suggests that Stepney, which values the amenities of its road transport is, for the sake of a business proposition, to be offered something that it does not like, not for the good of London, not for the good of Stepney, but solely for the business prosperity of the London Passenger Transport Board, and that seems to me an unworthy reason.
May I call attention to the extent of the proposition? It is a line running from Aldgate down to the extremes of the East of London. From Aldgate are five converging lines of busy traffic coming into the bottleneck of Whitechapel High Street and diverging so that the road leads to the docks, to the Epping Forest, to the coast and to East Anglia, and it is suggested in the Bill that at Aldgate there should first of all be a combination of overhead power and the conduit system. Every one in the House and all East Londoners will remember the relief that we felt when the Aldgate haymarket, an ancient institution, was abolished; but, it would be a pity if that obstruction, now gone, is to be replaced by the obstruction of a doubled transport power system. This tram line runs through the biggest thoroughfare of this great city, a thoroughfare lined by trees, having on one side the greatest hospital in London, on the other side two almshouses, a very broad gardened street and is the greatest amenity in the poorest part of London. 499 It would be a pity if this Clause should fasten upon us a transport system which may well be suited to those large dormitory villages across the Lea which have ancient trams which might be called the Old Bills of transport, but which trams should not be encouraged to carry their overhead ancient trolleys up the very fine Mile End road. These new tram lines will be noisy and sleep is precious. To go back from the conduit system to the overhead system and replace a tolerable rumble by rumble plus shrill noise is backward progress in transport, a hindrance to the recovery of the sick, and a disturbance to the King's subjects in the night hours.
Up to the present the local authorities have had, through the power of Parliament, the right of veto. That was given to them in 1900. That veto then was against the introduction of posts and pillars for the overhead system if the local authorities objected. They could exercise that veto by Resolution. If this power was necessary in the days of gentle traffic when children walked about the streets, sometimes under the horses' noses, it is even more necessary to-day when the pace of traffic and the congestion of traffic and the risks of traffic are greatly increased; for, it is the local authorities who are most vigilant for the lives of their people and the transport authorities consider transport as their primary function, and the protection of the lives of His Majesty's subjects is not the prime function of those whose duty it is to provide transport. The local borough council has a prime duty to conserve the health and lives of its people, and it is very much concerned that its veto should not be removed.
The addition of wayside posts means the addition of obstructions to the footway, more people and more children in the crowded hours being pushed into the roadside. Pillars and posts cast abnormal shadows at dusk. They cause at times erratic driving. This great road is already a road of slaughter, and the borough council and its people feel that posts will not add to its safety. It has been said that the present middle line that carries the slipper for the power of the conduit system is an added risk to cyclists. There is no one in the House who is more experienced than myself in fatal traffic accidents. It is rare for me 500 to hear of a cyclist being killed by being nipped in the middle rail. The cyclist seeing six rails is more anxious than when he sees four, and the danger to a cyclist largely comes from his zeal to use machines with extremely shallow treads which will sink into the ordinary slot quite as easily as the centre slot. It is a new thought to me that the Transport Board should seriously put before Parliament, through a Select Committee, its care for the cyclist with a light machine as the solid reason which has moved them to give us in the Mile End Road an ancient trolley overhead system.
It has been said to Parliament, through its Select Committee, that, if this veto that we have given to the borough councils is lifted in this case, it will not be a precedent. What happens once will happen again. What has happened can always be quoted. Lawyers have great memories, and good card indexes, and what Stepney has suffered will be a precedent to be used against any other borough council which wishes to use the veto that Parliament has given to it. If the Passenger Transport Board were going to give us trolley omnibuses and replace rumble by quietness and rubber, my objection would be largely weakened. The board that would meet our objections more than halfway is a board with which we could negotiate quite amicably, and one would be anxious then to withdraw opposition; but the engineer of the, board has told Parliament that he cannot visualise in the near future trolley omnibuses, the latest thing, "running in this area." That was evidence given to the Select Committee. That is to say, that we who live in the East are not considered worthy of the latest, but must go back to a system that has been given up elsewhere. Stepney Borough Council is a vigilant public body which has, in a constitutional way, put its evidence before the Select Committee, which has listened to its representatives with patience. I believe that a member of the Select Committee visited this area, but as far as I can make out he visited it on the Sabbath day when the conditions of the road are a little different from the traffic with which I have been familiar every day of the week since I was a medical student.
If hon. Members will inspect the Bill they will see many pages of legal care are given to protect the interests of the Postmaster-General, the London County 501 Council, and the interest of the sewers, and pages of protection are given to the City Corporation, but the only privilege allowed to the Stepney Borough Council is that it has the right of saying whether the posts are put in a proper position. The Stepney Borough Council is, in this matter, trusted so little that if it is thought to object unreasonably to the position of the posts, the Minister of Transport is to be called in to help—a more ignominious position for an up-to-date and progressive borough council I could hardly imagine.
It would be a pity if my remarks were purely destructive. I have commented on our great loss of local amenities. I only wish to say that if we could have an offer of trolley omnibuses all opposition would melt from this side. The one cardinal weakness of the system which has not been touched in this Bill or in Committee is that, if only this tram traffic stopped at what is called Gardiner's Corner the worst congestion, that at the bottle neck of Aldgate, would cease to trouble us. If that could be considered here or in another place, I would not delay this House another minute, but because there is not, to the best of my knowledge, in the whole of Stepney, one enthusiastic supporter of Clause 33, I have felt it necessary to detain the House in order to carry out my duty as a Member for Stepney and to lay before the House the objections which are sincerely felt, in the hope that here or elsewhere they might be met at least in some degree.
§ 10.9 p.m.
§ Mr. JANNER
I beg to second the Amendment, which has been so ably brought to the notice of the House by my hon. Friend the Member for Mile End (Dr. O'Donovan), in the hope that the House will appreciate the very important principles involved. This is not a minor Amendment but one of extreme importance. It deals with something which has been held very dearly by the whole of the Metropolitan boroughs and which at no time has been altered, although many attempts have been made to alter the position through the House of Commons and elsewhere. It is the right, in the first instance, of the borough council or the highway authority to decide whether it shall or shall not have a particular kind of tramway service. If it were for that reason alone, hon. 502 Members who are present would consider the position very carefully, and would not allow something which has been of considerable value in the past to be frittered away.
The people best able to decide the most satisfactory system of transport in that particular district by reason of the fact that they have hitherto had the right to say what should be the system, should not be thrown upon the mercy, generosity or good will of any other body, or even of the Minister of Transport himself. The case is one which admirably illustrates how absurd it would be to leave the decision of this nature in the hands of anyone who does not understand the district thoroughly. The board are asking that an overhead system should be adopted from a place called Grove Road, and that they should have the right to instal that system instead of the conduit system right to Aldgate. Is there any Member in this House who has visited the corner to which my hon. Friend referred—Gardener's Corner—and the bottle-neck at Aldgate, who could say that either of those places is a suitable place at which a change should be made? I should be very greatly surprised, and would certainly like such Member to go down again and compare the congestion which exists at Aldgate or Gardener's Corner with the position at Grove Road. The position at present is that a change-over is made at Grove Road. The Transport Board say that that is a very serious thing because it interferes with traffic, and that instead of interfering with traffic at Grove Road they should interfere with traffic at Gardener's Corner, which is a centre of five main lines of traffic, or let them interfere with the position at Aldgate which is almost invariably crushed out with traffic and with people waiting for various means of conveyance.
In asking us to accept a Clause of this description they cannot really have studied the position properly. I ask hon. Members, if they intend to vote in the direction other than that in which we ask them to vote, to go down and satisfy themselves of the position. It is not a light matter to interfere with a hospital such as the London Hospital, which is the largest in the world, and has a very large frontage to the road over which this traffic is to be taken. I saw some hon. Members smile when the question of 503 sleep was referred to, and I should like to know how they would feel if even a small amount of additional noise were added to that which already exists in that particular road if they happened to be lying in a London hospital about to undergo an operation, or after having undergone an operation. Are not the people who are best able to judge those who control the London Hospital? Is there any person in the London Hospital who has come forward or who is prepared to come forward to say that the overhead lines would be a better system as far as their patients are concerned than the system which exists at present, without the buzz and the noise which necessarily follows the introduction of overhead wires? If that had been the only reason why this Clause should be deleted, that in itself would have been sufficient. It is the suffering mass of humanity who have to go into the hospital who will be interfered with, and that they should not have to suffer more than they have already to suffer is an argument which should be taken into very careful consideration.
What has actually happened? Whenever the London County Council have introduced any measure to dispense with Section 23 of the Act of 1900, dealing with the right to veto, it has always been defeated. I hope that my hon. Friend who was Chairman of the Committee will forgive me for saying that I cannot accept the statement which his Committee was good enough to make at the time when they came to the decision that it should not be regarded as a precedent. There are 18 other similar centres in London. Stepney was not going to be used as a precedent. The reason why Stepney was not going to be so used was because Section 32 was in itself a sufficient protection. The Minister will agree that Section 32 was the reason why this case was not going to be treated as a precedent. Section 32 is to-day Section 34. Section 34 says:For the purpose of working the Aldgate to Grove Road tramway by electrical power on the overhead system the board may on, in, under or over the surface of any street or road in the Metropolitan Borough of Stepney …do certain things, provided that:no posts poles standards or other apparatus shall be erected on the carriageway of any street or road except with the consent of the Minister.504 Not the consent of the local council, as was the case before. All apparatus and so on is to be approved by the road authority. The road authority is given the right to approve the kind of materials that are to be used, but there is a proviso that consent must not be unreasonably withheld, or the Minister is to be called upon again. The Section says in the first place: "We will do you the favour, as the local council, of coming to you and saying, 'What do you think of it?' When you have said: 'It is a rotten idea,' we shall say: 'We do not agree with you. Therefore, let us take you before the Minister.'" Already we realise what the Passenger Transport Board is going to do in these matters, because they have decided that this is going to be a useful thing for Stepney. Stepney does not want it. The tramway users do not want it. The invalids do not want it. Those who are suffering from noise already do not want it. The passengers who want to go to their jobs regularly and to have the ordinary amenities of life do not want it. Who, in Heaven's name, does want it? The Passenger Transport Board say that they want it because they are going to have a regular service from Stratford and Ilford right down to Aldgate.
I hope that I have said enough to convince the House that the proposal is absurd, because it will merely mean that a turning will have to be made right in the heart of my constituency, where we have enough congestion already, instead of in a place where at the present time there is comparatively little trouble. It is not fair that the East End of London because it happens to be poor should be made the scapegoat for the introduction of ideas which are to be tried on them first, and afterwards possibly upon other sections of the community, who will have to accept them because poor Stepney had to suffer in the past and had not been able to raise its voice in protest. It is true that it is a poor district and that we have not the people who can protest in higher circles. It is a very fine district, it has wonderful streets, and when aesthetic arguments are advanced let me say that as far as Whitechapel High Street, Whitechapel Road and Mile End Road are concerned, the inhabitants are quite entitled to have their magnificent streets without the obstruction of over- 505 head wires and all the maze of trouble which you will get when you have these tramways running from one end of London to another. What do the experts say on this subject? Dr. Kelly in an old report, but which in my view holds good to-day more so than at the time, said:I have to say, after examining very many overhead and underground lines in large cities and especially after seeing the two systems frequently side by side in the same city, that the general convenience of having the roadway absolutely clear of overhead obstructions, especially in important street junctions, seems to be so great that even if the extra cost were much more than it is actually likely to be I think the London County Council ought to adopt for all the central parts of their line the underground system, that is to say, a system in which overhead wires are entirely dispensed with. As to the much vexed aesthetic part of the question. I do not wish to say anything, but I feel certain that in such a large and wealthy city as London, where the tramway traffic will be enormous and especially where in the City of London the tramways are in the hands of the municipality, such overhead arrangements would never be tolerated as more than a makeshift. I believe if the overhead system in the first case were adopted in London there would be, before many years a demand that they should be pulled down and replaced by some other system free from its obvious drawbacks.That is what actually happened in London. You had the conduit system right through London and it was only in the outer parts that you had overhead lines. Here, poor Stepney is being attacked in a Bill, in a special Clause all to itself, the outcast of Metropolitan boroughs, in order to persuade it to do something which it realises is not in the best interests of the inhabitants of the district or of those who use the service. My hon. Friend is right in moving his Amendment, we are fully justified in pressing it, and I hope that this House, although it only affects a district which we happen to represent, will in the interests of their own districts, as and when similar attacks might be made, will support us in this struggle against this large and influential body.
§ 10.24 p.m.
§ Mr. A. SOMERVILLE
May I add a word to the discussion on behalf of the Committee which considered the Bill upstairs. They fully sympathise with what has been said by the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment, but I put this general consideration before the House. Why has the House adopted the procedure of 506 sending such Bills to a Select Committee? It is for this reason, that it is perfectly impossible for such Bills to be examined as they ought to be examined on the Floor of the House?
§ Dr. O'DONOVAN
As the hon. Member has put the question, may I say that having regard to the magnificent work his Committee has produced in this tremendous Bill I thought I had found but one fly in the ointment, one flaw in it, Clause 33, and very diffidently I submitted it for the consideration of the House.
§ Mr. SOMERVILLE
I thank my hon. Friend for the courtesy with which he has put the matter. Upstairs a number of details, technical, special and local, that it would be impossible to examine on the Floor of the House, were considered. Upstairs each opposed point is gone into and argued most closely by counsel on opposite sides; witnesses are examined and cross-examined; and I can assure the House that a Committee takes a great deal of trouble and gives a great deal of time to consideration of these Bills. The Bill in question occupied 10 days, that is from 36 to 40 hours of close consideration. If this House makes it a practice to Debate the findings of Committees upstairs it would break the system, and in the end I think there would be produced very imperfect work. All I would add now is that all the considerations that have been advanced by my hon. Friends were present to us. Of course, if they oppose a certain course of action they pick out what is favourable to their case, but the majority in the House are not familiar with the details and do not ask questions about them. I cannot now go into the merits of the case. I can only say that we gave to this matter the fullest consideration, with the greatest sympathy with the representations that have been urged to-night, and on balance of public advantage we came to the conclusion that is embodied in the Bill.
§ 10.28 p.m.
§ Miss GRAVES
I rise to support the omission of the Clause. I do so, not because I possess the advantage of my hon. 507 Friends of having a constituency bordering on that magnificent highway, but because, perhaps like the majority in this House, I am a common user of the highway and a not uninterested observer of the amenities which there obtain. I shall not detain the House by repeating the arguments which have been set forth. The Chairman of the Select Committee which considered the Bill upstairs has, indeed, put in a most powerful plea for peace. I will only draw the attention of the House to one small illustration, which so far has not been set forth, of the result of going back to a system of overhead wires. The average height of the houses occupied by the people of Stepney is two storeys. It is obvious to everyone that the wires run at the level of the first or sleeping floor. Anyone who has been near Gray's Inn Road, even though so fortunately situated as to live in Gray's Inn itself, knows what the thrash of those wires means at night. I put it to the House, which I know is entirely sympathetic with the unfortunate beings who have to live in rather overcrowded surroundings, sleeping under difficulties very often in that end of London, that it is rather more than a matter of amenity to condemn those who live on the borders of the Mile End Road, to listen to the thrash of those overhead lines at a level with their sleeping accommodation.
I am not here to insist on the advantages of the change-over from the conduit to the overhead system at Grove Road. It must be obvious to everyone who has to use the bottle-neck of Aldgate that there is no possibility of a convenient turn-round there. There must be some other project in the minds of the London Passenger Transport Board. I very much hope that we shall be assured that the trolley system which, on balance, would have the advantage of doing away with much of the noise, is in their mind in considering the future, notwithstanding the reference which has been made to the engineer's negative suggestion. In that case, to go back to the system of overhead wires would be tolerable and no doubt the people of Mile End would not object to suffering a little in contemplation of the greater convenience and the reduction of noise which must result from the installation of a trolley system of omnibuses. I venture to urge the House 508 to consider the sweet reasonableness of the suggestions which have come from Stepney and South Hackney.
§ 10.31 p.m.
There are many Members who can speak about the inconvenience of train lines in busy London thoroughfares, but I think the cyclists are the best authorities on that subject. In this very important road there are already six tram lines, and I cannot accept the view that the more tram lines there are the more the cyclists are pleased. I cannot believe that if you double the number of tram lines you make the road safer for the cyclists. If that be true, why not have 20 tram lines, and make the roads safe for everybody? Then we should all be happy. Other Members can speak about the general inconvenience to traffic of having trains in a road like the Mile End Road, but this is a special case of traffic obstruction. This road running from Aldgate is a road upon which probably the greatest volume of traffic in London moves every day, to the docks and elsewhere. Yet not only is there a very heavy tram service upon it but a mile down the road—I presume that Mile End means a mile from Aldgate—there is a special obstruction, because the trams there have to change over from the conduit system to the overhead system. Two men are employed all day long at the change-over. The tram has to be stopped, the slipper removed from underneath the tram and the trolley attached to the overhead line. I do not know how much time is occupied, but it is certainly more than is involved in the ordinary kind of obstruction which a tram service has to meet. I think that should be a very important factor in the minds of those governing London traffic.
§ Mr. JANNER
What will happen with regard to changing over in the event of the overhead wires replacing the conduit system, where will the change-over take place, and what will happen with the traffic at those spots?
I understand that the authorities are convinced that there will be a less change-over and that less time will be necessary under the new overhead system which will continue along perhaps right into Aldgate itself. In that event the overhead system would be used right throughout the length of the route, and 509 the change-over would be only half a change-over. I am no authority on the question of noise, as to which is the noisier, the conduit system or the overhead system. Experts know much more about that than we do, but I believe that this overhead system is again a halfway house towards what we all agree is the more silent system, namely, the trolley-omnibus system. I think it is proper to suggest that the board really have in view the ultimate ideal of an overhead trolley system the whole length of the route, and when that is done, it will solve most of the troubles that afflict hon. Members. I feel that this again is a question of modernising the transport system. I agree that there will be certain drawbacks for the time being, but one cannot hold up these improvements because of parochial troubles, whether in Stepney, Kensington, or anywhere else. I also believe that the best judges as to which is the best system to adopt are the experts who are in charge of the London Passenger Transport Board, and because I believe their judgment is superior to mine and to that of other hon. Members, I hope this Clause will remain in the Bill.
§ 10.38 p.m.
Sir G. HAMILTON
My hon. Friend the Member for Mile End (Dr. O' Donovan), in his eloquent speech, started by saying that this proposition was put forward entirely because the London Passenger Transport Board wanted to get some financial advantage out of that area. My hon. Friend knows quite well that this House set up that board with one object, and one object only, namely, that it should control the traffic of London economically and efficiently, in the interests of the travelling public. The London Passenger Transport Board introduced this Bill and asked that on this portion of their tramway system, which they have now taken over, they should have permission to use overhead trolleys in addition to the underground conduit system, which they would have to retain because it would be required for certain trams. The reason they want the overhead system on this congested street, where there are many side streets coming in from all directions, is that the underground conduit system has one great fault. If a tram is suddenly pulled up and its electric connection happens to be at the break of 510 the rails, and the contact is not made, that tram cannot start again. The result is that another tram has to come up behind and push it along. Sometimes one tram is not enough, and I am sure hon. Members have seen, as I have, in that very road five trams all pushing one wretched tram in order to enable it to regain contact. That creates a tremendous block of traffic in this great main street.
The London Passenger Transport Board are anxious that there should not be these blocks in the traffic for which they are responsible, and they suggest a way of preventing them and the troubles that arise when a policeman suddenly stops a tram, as he has to do, and a tram gets off the contact. The board are responsible for the traffic in the streets, and they have not come to the House to ask that extra tram fares should be allowed them or anything of that sort. They have made a suggestion in this particular Clause that will improve the efficiency of the tram service in this area. The talk of my hon. Friend the Member for White-chapel (Mr. Janner) about the noise of overhead equipment might have been true 10 or 11 years ago, but, knowing something about electrical engineering, I know that overhead equipment can be made practically silent. To say that the noise of the overhead equipment will disturb the patients in the London Hospital is merely appealing to the sentiment of this House, and I do not think he will improve his case by making statements of that sort. I am certain that if the London Hospital had any feeling against overhead equipment they would have let us know. The hon. Member said they have never sent any message in favour of it. Perhaps they are in favour of it, nevertheless.
Dr. O' DONOVAN
My hon. Friend will understand that I am a physician on the active staff of that hospital, and that my own patients sleep in a ward aligned against that road. My hon. Friend's old bucketing trams will go past the London Hospital. If he will offer new trams I will withdraw what I said, but I know his ancient vehicles.
Sir G. HAMILTON
We are not dealing with the ancient trams that come from the borough of Ilford but with new overhead equipment. That modern overhead equipment will not cause any noise 511 which will disturb the patients at the London Hospital, and I am sure my hon. Friend will agree with me that the hon. Member for Whitechapel has appealed to the sentiment of the House unnecessarily on behalf of the London Hospital. The real point before the House is a very small one. The London Passenger Transport Board want this Clause because they are convinced that it will improve the traffic facilities of this main artery of our great city. The Clause was most carefully considered in Committee upstairs. Counsel was briefed and was heard, and we have heard from the Chairman of the Committee that the Committee took the matter into every possible consideration. This, I believe, is the Committee's own report:The Committee have considered this with great care. We are asked to say that we think this proved in regard to the line from Grove Road to Aldgate, and in view of the benefit that would result to the public we find that the preamble is proved with reference to this. At the same time we have been very reluctant to interfere with the provisions of the Act of 1900 which gives the right of veto to a local authority, and it is quite clear that this decision does not in any way affect any future case of like kind. We are, of course, saying that Clause 32, providing for the safeguards which have been placed in the Bill, has had very considerable influence in our decision.The Committee upstairs have reported in favour of this Bill being given its Third Reading to-night. It is for the London Passenger Transport Board to come to this House to submit their case by counsel to a Committee upstairs, and for that Committee to give us the best advice they can after hearing the arguments from all sides. I appeal to the House not to hang up this Bill any longer, but to let us have a Division and to let the Bill become law.
Dr. O' DONOVAN
Perhaps my hon. Friend will allow me to suggest that instead of appealing to the House to go to a Division he might appeal to the Mover of the Amendment to withdraw his opposition.
Dr. O' DONOVAN
Then I have the greatest pleasure in concurring with that suggestion, because there are other and constitutional means open to a borough council but not open to a Member of 512 Parliament which can be employed to test the feeling of Parliament on this matter. I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ The CHAIRMAN of WAYS and MEANS (Sir Dennis Herbert)
I beg to move, "That Standing Orders 240 and 262 be suspended, and that the Bill be now read the Third time."
§ 10.51 p.m.
§ Sir W. DAVISON
While I agree with the Chairman of the Committee that it is impossible for the House to go into all the details of such a Bill and that it is more advantageous to everyone that it should be discussed in Committee upstairs, I think that on a Bill of this importance, affecting the interests of so many people in the London area, it was a great misfortune, though no doubt one for which hon. Members themselves are responsible, that we had no Second Reading on it. Though it would have been impossible to go into all the details it would have been advantageous if the principal points had been indicated, so that the Committee should have known the general feeling of the House on them. Not only has there been no Second Reading Debate, but at this late hour it is impossible to have a Third Beading Debate, and therefore this Bill, which vitally affects the interests of Londoners, will pass through this House without Debate except for its examination in Committee. I hope the Government will in future act on behalf of the private Members of the House, and not think only of getting the business through. They should secure to the House time for a general discussion on Bills of this importance, apart from those details which are more fitly dealt with in Committee.
§ 10.53 p.m.
§ Mr. JANNER
I want to say two or three words with regard to the points raised by my hon. Friend and in support of them. We have heard a rather interesting theory put forward to-night which, in my view, ought to be entirely set aside, and I hope that we shall not on any future occasion be faced with similar arguments in support of a Bill.
§ Mr. McKEAG
On a point of Order. Is it in order for the hon. Member for Mile End (Dr. O' Donovan) and another hon. Member to be engaged in an audible consultation during this Debate?
§ Mr. JANNER
When we are faced at this late hour with the Third Reading of a Bill of this nature, it is rather important that we should consider the suggestion made to us to-night that because the Bill has gone before a particular Committee, and because they have had the opportunity of hearing and examining evidence presented to them, that any conclusion which that Committee may come to must of necessity be accepted by the House, and that every other Member should be excluded from disputing those conclusions. In my view this Bill has certain deficiencies, which, even though they may have been fully discussed in Committee, should, and probably could, be dealt with by the House itself, and although I do not propose to enter into a similar discussion to that which has already taken place I think it would be entirely wrong for us to accept the views of any Committee unless we were thoroughly satisfied ourselves, after having the opportunity of examining evidence. I may say with regard to the last Amendment that my hon. Friend and myself have examined very closely that point of view. Having examined them from the point of view that the words we were putting forward had been considered very carefully vis-a-vis the statements and the evidence that were given in the Committee, I say that the method which has been suggested to us is an entirely wrong one. I hope that even at this late hour the promoters of the Bill, without having to be pressed to come to certain conclusions in respect of several points that have been raised to-night, will see reason, accept the evidence in its proper light, and on several points come to conclusions different from those to which they came before.
§ 10.51 p.m.
§ Sir GEORGE GILLETT
I should not address the House now if the hon. Member for Whitechapel (Mr. Janner) had not made another speech on somewhat similar lines to one which he made earlier in the evening. On his earlier speech I should have voted against him and forced the matter to a Division, much as I believe in the conduit system as against the over- 514 head system. I am, however, one of those who believe that one of the beneficial effects on London traffic of the institution of the new Traffic Board has been that the power of the borough councils has been considerably lessened. In the past, it has been impossible ever to get a real traffic system for London, because we have been constantly faced on one matter or the other by the entirely parochial view of the borough councils. No better representation of that view could have been made than that put forward in the speech of one hon. Member this evening. There we heard a purely local view of this problem, the hon. Member basing all his arguments on what would suit the people of his division.
The whole of the question, however, hinges on a much bigger problem than that which concerns the hon. Member's division. One of the things, apart from the advice of the hon. Member for Whitechapel on these questions, that the House did when London traffic was handed over to this new body was to place the whole problem in the hands of a body of experts who were able to consider wider questions than those which concern the various interests of one small part of London or the other. I very much hope that when these matters come up—and the conclusion of the Debate provides the best possible illustration of the fact that many hon. Members even now hardly know what the problems are with which they have to deal—the House will follow the general line of safety and take the advice of the experts who are controlling the whole traffic problem of London. We should hesitate very much before we take a deciding line against their opinion.
§ 10.53 p.m.
§ Sir HENRY JACKSON
I do not propose to enter into a discussion of the details of the Bill, but as Chairman of the London and Home Counties Traffic Advisory Committee, I may be permitted to say that we examined this Bill in great detail, and entirely approved its present form. I feel that I must make some protest against the speech of the hon. Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison), who complained that we had not had a Second Reading Debate. This Bill was put down for Second Reading like every other Private Bill. Full notice was given of the fact, but not a word 515 was heard, not a voice raised in protest against the Second Reading. It was passed unanimously by this House. Those hon. Members who are now complaining to-night that full opportunity was not given to them missed their opportunity. It was clearly their right on the Second Reading to protest against the Bill, and it would then have followed the ordinary procedure of being put down by the Chairman of Ways and Means at 7.30, and its Second Reading would have been subject to Debate and examination in this House. The principles of the Bill would then have been examined. That procedure, which the hon. Member seems to think has been taken from him, was in fact lost by the absence of hon. Members. There is no cause for complaint at all; the Bill has followed the ordinary constitutional procedure of this House. The Second Reading was passed without a murmur and unopposed, and the Bill was submitted to a Committee upstairs to examine. The hon. Member for South Kensington, and indeed any hon. Member who complains, have only themselves to blame for not taking their opportunity on the Motion for the Second Reading.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The hon. Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison) has exhausted his right to speak.
§ King's consent, on behalf of the Crown, signified.
§ Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.