§ Order for Consideration, as amended, read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill, as amended, be now considered."
§ 7.32 p.m.
§ Mr. Kelly
I beg to move, to leave out the word "now," and, at the end of the Question, to add the words, "upon this day six months."
I wish to make it clear that in placing this Motion on the Paper, we have no desire to hold up work or to prevent the extension of facilities for transporting people on the tubes and railways of this country. In fact, we are concerned about seeing that there should be greater facilities. In Clause 13 of this Bill there is a proposal for the extension of the Morden-Edgware tube to Aldenham. While it may be proved that this extension is required at the present time, I wish to call attention to the conditions prevailing on the tube. If anyone makes a journey on either the Edgware or the Highgate tube, particularly at this time of night, he will have an experience that will not be a happy one. If, in transporting cattle, one attempted to crowd them in the way that people are forced to be crowded in travelling upon this tube, one would be taken before the courts and dealt with. Between Golders Green and Highgate the people are packed together in such a manner that not only is it a danger to life and limb, but a danger to health, and young girls 97 and men are crowded in such a way that the question of decency even comes up, as is apparent to anyone who has been compelled to make the journey.
That is the condition of things at the present time, but when the line is extended to Aldenham and when there are, in addition to those carried now, numbers of people who will be transported from Aldenham and the neighbourhood beyond Edgware and also people from East Finchley, the situation will be even worse than it is now. There is no provision in the Bill to deal with the difficulties encountered on that tube at the present time. The suggestion of the company is that, with the double line that will come on to the London and North Eastern section, the traffic will be eased by some 25 per cent., but I find it difficult to appreciate how they have arrived at that figure. It rather appears that the people who are expected to make use of what is known as the London and North Eastern, or the old Metropolitan line, are much more likely to add to the difficulties on the tube, which is already overcrowded. If I am asked why that should be, I would point out that the fares on the old Metropolitan line are much higher, and that some of the difficulties to-day are caused by the fact that people living in the parts concerned take the omnibuses from their homes to the Edgware tube in order to travel by it. When there is, in addition, the line from East Finchley, they will certainly make use of it, and the congestion will be more confounded than it is.
No provision is made in the Bill to deal with the traffic that passes through the bottle-neck at Camden Town. I know that the company have stated that they intend to increase the number of trains and coaches, but the utmost they can promise is that there will be an improvement in one case of 40 per cent. How a 40 per cent. increase in accommodation will deal with what is a 100 per cent. difficulty is something which I hope will be explained by the Minister in charge of the Bill. I have been wondering why it is that, when the Bill was being considered upstairs, it was not set out that the Transport Board should deal with the travelling facilities on the portion of the line near London, between Kennington and Golders Green and Kennington and Highgate. The accommodation on that line, which is not adequate for the present traffic, will be rendered more inadequate when additional 98 people come from the outer district which is to be dealt with if this Bill is passed. It is not only during the peak hours that these difficulties arise. For some reason which it is difficult to understand, during certain hours of the day the trains are shortened, and there is congestion at many hours of the day apart from the peak hours. I have no desire to punish hon. Members by asking them to travel under conditions which are hardly human, but I ask them to make the journey from Golders Green to Hampstead at about half-past eight or nine o'clock in the morning, although I hope they will not take their womenfolk with them on the journey. Yet women and girls who work in the city have to make the journey under conditions that are certainly not a credit to any of those who have charge of that particular line.
I have seen the statement which has been sent to every hon. Member by the London Passenger Transport Board, and I read it in an endeavour to find something that would enable us not to press this Motion, but I could find nothing in the statement that held out any hope that the congestion would be dealt with. They speak of a suitable depot for their trains at Aldenham, but I cannot see how that will help in the matter of the transport difficulty. [An HON. MEMBER: "Extra accommodation."] There will be extra accommodation in the depot, but the people do not travel in the depot; the trains are housed there. I agree that they require extra accommodation for the trains, but what we need is more trains. We require more trains on the lines between London and the stations which are mentioned in the Bill. There is nothing in the Bill which indicates that we are likely to have the opportunity of travelling in the manner for which we are entitled to ask from the London Passenger Transport Board. In the statement they speak of an endeavour to secure a reduction in fares from the main line companies, but we are asked to wait for some time until the rectification takes place. We are given no assurance that there is likely to be that reduction of fares which might induce people to travel on that line and thus ease the position on the tube. We certainly have a right to demand that the question of the fares, as well as the question of extra accommodation between London and the bottleneck at Camden Town and onwards, 99 should be settled before they receive the powers for which they are asking in this Bill.
Not only is there the difficulty which I have endeavoured to explain, but it is hoped to extend this tube to outer districts. They speak of the "Green Belt." Those of us who are in London endeavoured to secure the Green Belt not so that it should be a place of shops and bricks and mortar, but a division between the bricks and mortar and the countryside. There is now the proposal to cut across the Green Belt, and that will bring about the very conditions in that part which we endeavoured to get rid of. They speak of the opportunity there would be for greater housing development. If there were more towns in the outer districts and a greater number of passengers to travel on the tube, I cannot see how it would ease the position, although that may be understood by the promoters of this Bill. It would not ease the overcrowding at the present time, which is discreditable and disgraceful. I see that the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. G. Balfour) and the hon. Member for Hendon (Sir R. Blair) are in their places. They know the districts and they know how these districts are developing. The present difficulties will be accentuated by the line going further out without provision being made to give us another tube, which is what is really needed.
The House ought to think not once but many times before adding to the difficulties from which our people have to suffer every day of the week. There is much more that I would like to point out to hon. Members with regard to the difficulties and even dangers which are involved in this overcrowding. I only wish hon. Members could see the conditions for themselves. If they did, I am convinced that they would rise up in revolt against people being subjected to such conditions. I ask the House to vote for this Amendment and unless a clear undertaking is given, without hesitancy and without doubt, by the Board to deal with the problem quickly and get rid of this overcrowding, to refuse them the powers to carry the tube further out and thus make the position even worse than it is for travellers on this line.
§ 7.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Naylor
I beg to second the Amendment.
100 I do so for reasons different from those advanced by my hon. Friend the Mover. I hope to get an assurance from the Minister in respect of certain financial considerations which I have to raise, particularly with reference to Clause 5. It provides for the substitution of a trolley omnibus system for the present tramway system. This change is going to cost the boroughs of London a considerable amount of money. I represent the borough of Southwark. The authority in that borough has had inquiries made as to the possible cost to the borough of the alterations outlined in this Bill and on the estimate of the borough engineer the cost to the ratepayers of Southwark will not be less than £37,000. The cost arises in this way. In accordance with the provisions of the Act of 1934, the London Passenger Transport Board is prepared to pay the cost of converting the tramway track to a trolley omnibus system. But the phrasing of the Act only makes it necessary for the board to pay a sum sufficient to ensure the reconstruction of the roads on the standard existing prior to the introduction of the tramway system in London. There is a considerable difference between the standard of road construction which prevailed many years ago and the much higher standard imposed by prevailing conditions, and the difference between what the board is prepared to pay in accordance with the provisions of the Act, and what the borough council will have to pay for the actual reconstruction, is £37,000.
Southwark is one of the boroughs of London which gives harbour to the poorest of the poor. This traffic is not special to the borough. It is traffic passing through from one end of London to the other. The borough acts as a conductor of through traffic and itself derives no advantage from it but, on the contrary, suffers the serious disadvantage of having to pay for the upkeep of the roads. This difference in cost, if the board is not prepared to come to our assistance, will mean in Southwark an additional rate of 6d. in the £. Southwark is only one of the boroughs affected and in other boroughs the cost will be even higher. The circumstances vary to such an extent, from one borough to another, as to make it unfair to impose upon one borough special difficulties with regard to reconstruction, while other boroughs, 101 where there will be a lower cost because there is a lesser volume of through traffic, will be let off in proportion.
There is also a technical objection to this proposal on the part of some of the advisers of the London boroughs, and it applies especially in Southwark. I am informed that engineering difficulties will make it next to impossible to introduce the overhead system of trolley omnibuses without impeding traffic and limiting transport facilities. I dare say the Minister is acquainted with the Elephant and Castle which is known all over the world and particularly in London as a centre of traffic congestion. If the Minister will visit that junction at the peak hours of either morning or evening he will realise the tremendous problem which faces the board if they are going to substitute at the Elephant and Castle or at St. George's Circus, for the present system, a system which will cause even greater congestion than now exists at those two points. At present, the trams run in the centre of the highway and the omnibuses alongside the kerb. If trolley omnibuses are substituted for trams, it will not be possible to accommodate at the sides of the highway a sufficient number of omnibuses to deal with the passenger traffic which is now enabled to pass through those congested points with the dual system in operation. I am not an expert engineer but I am informed that the situation there is one to which the engineers of the board will have to give serious attention and that the practical difficulties are such that it will be impossible to remedy them, once the trolley omnibus system has been substituted for the existing system.
As the Mover of the Amendment has said, we are not opposing progress, especially progress initiated by the London Passenger Transport Board. We ate merely asking for fair play as between one London borough and another. Seeing that the board derives certain revenue from these roads, I submit that they ought not to take advantage of the letter of the Act of 1933. I hope they are not going to say, "This is the law and we shall compel you to pay this extra cost whether you are poor or not." If the Minister thinks that the London boroughs have a case for financial assistance from the board, I hope consideration will be given to it. I am sure the Minister desires to ensure that no injustice, 102 financial or otherwise, shall be imposed on anyone. I ask him, therefore, to give me an assurance, at least that the question of financial assistance will be considered. I am not suggesting that he should promise to-night to agree that such financial assistance will be provided. But I hope he will be in a position to say that the question of the cost to some of the poorest districts in London, in respect of an advantage which does not fall to them, will be considered. The people of Southwark do not, to any great extent, use the trams which pass through that borough and yet they are to be called upon to provide a part of the cost for something which brings them no advantage. I hope that we shall have the help of the Minister in this matter.
§ 7.57 P.m.
§ Sir Reginald Blair
As one whose constituency is very much affected by the proposals of this Bill, I wish to make some remarks upon it. I listened with great interest to the speech of the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly). He made out a very strong case indeed. It is seldom that I have the privilege of agreeing with the hon. Member when he speaks in this House, but I am heartily in agreement with his remarks about the deplorable conditions of travelling on the Edgware-Morden Line. It is not only at the peak hours—of which I have had personal experience, both morning and evening—that the conditions are bad. Although I do not travel much on that line in the "off-hours," I am told by my constituents in Golders Green that even at those times one can seldom secure a seat owing to the shortness of the trains.
I do not know whether or not the hon. Member for Rochdale is an expert on traffic matters, but I should have liked to have heard the views of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Hackney (Mr. H. Morrison) on this subject. I certainly am not an expert, and that being so, I have consulted expert opinion on this question. The expert opinion given to me on the subject-matter of Clause 13 is that the proposals will benefit the public, travelling to and from my constituency. Therefore, as I am desperately anxious that something should be done at once to improve the conditions, instead of waiting for five or perhaps 10 years, I support the Bill in the present circumstances. In this con- 103 nection I should remark that the Hendon Borough Council was, at first, opposed to the Bill and went so far as to lodge a petition against it in another place. I am now informed that only last week they decided by 26 votes to two to withdraw all opposition to the Bill.
I think the hon. Member for Rochdale referred to the wrong railway company. It is the London and North Eastern Railway now—what used to be the old Great Northern line—which is concerned, and I am informed that that line between Edgware and Finchley is to be electrified and, what is more, is to be doubled. That means an additional train service from Edgware, with connections both to the City and to the West End, and it is quite obvious that the people living between those stations now, who take the omnibus or walk to Edgware to get the cheaper fares, will have better facilities. What is more important, if they use that line they will very much ease the present terrible congestion at Edgware Station. A large number of my constituents are very much against the proposed extension of this line, and Edgware people more especially are very conservative in more ways than one, but I feel perfectly convinced that in a very short time they will see a line which is electrified and doubled to Edgware and trains occupying the same time to the City and the West End as the present congested Edgware and Morden line does. Even these conservatives at Edgware, I am sure, will use that line in preference.
Far be it from me to suggest that my constituents are selfish or adopt a dog-in-the-manger attitude, but I notice that the local paper, which has taken a leading part in the agitation against this extension, said in a leading article that undoubtedly the electrification of the London and North Eastern Railway and the doubling of the line will prove an immense boon to the people of Finchley. That is undoubtedly the case. I would remind the Edgware residents that Finchley is a very near neighbour of theirs, and look on these schemes as a whole. What is important is to get an undertaking to-night from the Minister that when the London and North Eastern Railway is electrified and doubled fares from Edgware Station to common points served by both routes should be made to correspond on both lines. If the Minister 104 in his reply to-night will give that undertaking I think it would ease the situation considerably.
The Edgware Tube is to have additional rolling stock, which will mean at least 14 or 15 per cent. more seating capacity than exists at present. But in order to house that rolling stock and the rolling stock of the new London and North Eastern Railway electrified line it is absolutely vital that some depot should be found. Anyone who knows the borough of Hendon as I know it will, I think agree with me that it is impossible to find about 40 acres of fairly even ground in the borough. I know there was one particular area on which the London Passenger Transport Board had their eyes, but the Hendon Borough Council had quite properly earmarked it for an open space, and when approached I am glad to say they refused to sell it. The only place where you could have a depot to house this new stock of the Edgware and Morden line and the rolling stock of the new London and North Eastern Railway electrified line is on the site chosen by this Bill.
I am very disappointed that we have not had an announcement yet as to uniformity of fares between the station at Stanmore on the Metropolitan line and the Edgware line. People at present have to take buses or walk down to Edgware, where the fares are almost half of those on the Metropolitan line from Stanmore. This is a comparatively new line constructed a few years ago and it has very little traffic on it. Here is a simple, easy method of easing the terrible congestion of which I have spoken, and I hope that the Minister to-night will be able to announce that arrangements have been made. I raised this question in the House by a question last week. I was informed that active negotiations were taking place and I trust that the Minister will be able to assure us that those negotiations have come to a successful issue.
§ 8.6 p.m.
§ Mr. Attlee
I want to say a word on this as a resident in the area concerned. I know something of the conditions on the Edgware line and of the overcrowding that takes place there. I travel myself every day on the Stanmore line, to which the hon. Member referred, but I can assure him that it is quite difficult to get a seat on the Stanmore line. I do get 105 a seat as far as Wembley Park, but there the crowds come in, and more often than not I have to stand. What we have to look at in this is the whole underlying policy of carrying masses of people and not providing proper travelling accommodation. Take this matter of the Aldenham-Elstree extension. You already have large numbers of people brought up to what was once the outer ring of London, and people are attracted there. They are told, "Come and live in the country," and out they go, and when they have been there three or four years they might just as well have stayed in town, because all the world is doing the same thing. People go out, and for a year or two are happy; they actually get a seat in the morning train. Then comes an extension of the line, and by the time the train arrives at their station it is already full up.
There is this kind of absolute lack of planning going on in the whole of this area. You have these two great divisions, Harrow and Hendon, with enormous swollen populations. The people are brought out there and the jerrybuilder is extremely active covering the whole place with small houses—at least they are supposed to be small houses, but they generally seem to me to be garages with living accommodation attached. I call them Marie Stopes houses, because there is no provision for any children. But there are masses of them there. The result is that the whole of that countryside is being torn up. You have very beautiful villages there where you ought to have had a green belt and plenty of playing fields. The village in which I live is a beautiful village, but it is now becoming just like any other place on an arterial road. At Aldenham and Elstree there is a by-pass and you will very soon have the worst kind of ribbon development. There are masses of houses, and what is going to be the effect on people who have already come into the constituency of the hon. Member opposite? They are going to have a top layer put upon them—a top layer of the Aldenham and Elstree people—not the Aldenham and Elstree people who exist now but the new Aldenham and Elstree people. If they are diverted to Stanmore that only means that we shall have a bigger scrap at Stanmore, and in between Stanmore and Wembley Park I have to look out of the window very carefully 106 because there is a new town springing up every day.
All the time you have these two traffic arteries running out there, and inevitably the further you get the more and more is traffic on them congested. I suggest that we shall never cure this until we get some real planning in outer London, and that in that planning we consider housing, amenities and transport. The development has gone on at a tremendous pace in that part of Middlesex. We have nearly used up Middlesex, and we are coming on to Hertfordshire. The constituency of the Chairman of Ways and Means is there, and it will soon be entirely urban. We now form the outer ring of the biggest target for aircraft in the world, and this agglomeration of London people is being added to all the time. I make this protest both on behalf of the people who are already in this area and on the general ground that we should not continue this reckless development, by putting down masses and masses of houses, followed by partial extensions of railways. We are not adding to the happiness and strength of our people; we are destroying their strength by the hours of torture that they have to spend each week in overcrowded trains.
§ 8.13 p.m.
§ Sir John Withers
I have had a large number of letters on this subject as being concerned to a certain extent with the preservation of amenities, and all my correspondents are very anxious and worried about the effect that works, especially at Aldenham, will have on the amenities of the countryside. I am bound to bring this to the notice of the House. I do not know whether the Amendment is to be pressed to a Division, but if it is, I shall most certainly vote against the Bill on those grounds. I understand that the point of view of those concerned for amenities was not dealt with before the Committee upstairs, and therefore it is rather difficult at this stage to raise this question as a ground of opposition to the Bill. But there it is, and if there is to be no Division I should just like to make my protest. With what the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition has said I entirely associate myself, and I hope the matter will be dealt with by the Committee in another place. I understand that the County Council and the local bodies are going to oppose the Bill 107 strenuously before the Committee in another place, and, that being so, I think it is a very good thing to have an expression of opinion before then, showing that at any rate some people in this House are very anxious about amenities, and that the amenity question ought to be very carefully considered.
§ 8.15 p.m.
§ Mr. George Balfour
I was rather interested in listening to the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly), and I was interested still further in listening to the Seconder of the Amendment. The hon. Member for South-East Southwark (Mr. Naylor) seconded on totally different grounds. The hon. Member for Roch dale is opposing this Bill because of traffic difficulties and lack of facilities on certain lines which closely touch my constituency, but the hon. Gentleman who seconded said not a word about the substance of the opposition of the hon. Gentleman who moved. He dealt entirely with points relating to trolley buses and trams. Quite rightly, he took his Parliamentary opportunity of making further objections to matters which had been heard and disposed of by the Committee after the fullest possible evidence. It is still further interesting to note the hon. Members who have been approached to oppose the Bill. It is rather singular that they have had to go to Rochdale—
§ Mr. Balfour
I am not speaking of the hon. Member's residence. I presume that he is supposed to represent his constituents, and it is rather remarkable that those who oppose the Bill have had to go to Rochdale in order to find someone to move its rejection.
§ Mr. Balfour
I compliment the hon. Member on his activity and on his interest in his personal travelling conditions, but London Members have to pay serious attention to the representation of their constituents, and my hon. Friend the 108 Member for Hendon (Sir R. Blair), who sits beside me, has had, I am sure, pressing and urgent representations on this matter, as indeed I have had, and after the fullest possible consideration I was compelled to come to the conclusion that it was vitally necessary in the interests of my constituents—and I know that my hon. Friend also adopted the same attitude in the interests of his constituents —that this Bill should become an Act of Parliament. I would further note that in London we have a peculiar traffic problem. There is no traffic problem in the world which corresponds to that of London.
§ Mr. Balfour
The hon. Member knows the problem, but this is a provisional cure of it, whereas what he proposes is to maintain or increase the evil. We have centred within a radius of not much more than 20 miles one-quarter of the population of the whole of Great Britain, and the people charged with the responsibility of solving this traffic problem have in front of them an almost insoluble problem. Does the hon. Gentleman tell me that he can go to the Ministry of Transport and show them how to solve this problem within any sane limits of common prudence better than they are endeavouring to do it to-day? He can make suggestions and have no responsibility for the enormous technical and commercial difficulties, but can he put before them a solution that they have not already thought of, and considered, and as far as possible put into effect? We are not discussing to-night any profit-earning company. The Transport Board, which is an amalgamation of companies, was detached altogether from the pressure of shareholders and charged specially with seeing that the transport of London was properly conducted, and as far as I know that is a perfectly fair statement of the case.
I have not the slightest interest in the Transport Board of any kind. At one time I was a director of a subsidiary company because I stepped in to take the place of some trustee, but I have not the remotest connection of any kind with the London Transport Board. I understand their difficulties, however, and I believe that they are discharging an amazingly difficult task in a very able manner. They have made these proposals, and I have 109 gone into them as far as I have been able. I think that the fact of this line being built will not solve your overcrowding and that you will still have overcrowding in the centre. As I say, that is an insoluble problem, and you will inevitably find peak-hour overcrowding in this centre of 11,000,000 people. But let us study the question from this point of view: Is this proposal to serve the people beyond the centre a reasonable one? Are the Transport Board paying attention to representations with a view to relieving congestion or giving additional facilities? It is my belief that they have discharged their duties admirably and that any hon. Member who votes against the Bill will be retarding and not advancing the very object that he has in view.
§ 8.20 p.m.
§ Mr. W. H. Green
Like the last speaker, I feel sure that every Member of this House fully appreciates the difficulty which confronts any body or individual who attempts to deal with the vast problem of London's traffic, but because we feel that the Transport Board are not doing all that they might do to remedy some of the serious grievances from which many boroughs in London suffer, we feel justified in taking this opportunity of voicing the feelings which exist in our own boroughs. Unlike the Mover of the Amendment, I speak not only as a London man, but as a London Member, and my borough council have been very concerned indeed with what has been happening with regard to the traffic problem as it most intimately touches them. I share with other hon. Members who have spoken their desire not to do anything which would in any way hamper, restrict, or hold back the advance that the Transport Board desire to make in their arrangements for London's traffic. We realise the seriousness of holding up, even for a short time, a Bill containing the provisions that this Bill contains, and we have no desire whatever to do that.
Were it in order—and I am afraid it is not—I could complain very bitterly of some of the things that are not in the Bill. I remember as a representative of Deptford many years ago heading a deputation from the South London boroughs to Lord Ashfield and Mr. Pick to advance the idea of the extension of the Tube from the Elephant and Castle to the South London boroughs, through 110 Camberwell, Deptford, and Lewisham. But we regret that they have not seen their way to do it yet, and there is no mention of it in this Bill, so obviously we are not entitled to discuss it. This Bill, however, is one that is vitally important to every borough in London, and I think the House is not wasting time in discussing some of these problems. The hon. Member for South-East Southwark (Mr. Naylor) has spoken—and we all of us will feel it pretty severely—in regard to the rating problem and the expense which the poorer boroughs in particular will incur as a result of the introduction of trolley omnibuses. I understand that the increase in our rate in Deptford will be even greater, as a result of this, than will that of South-East Southwark, so that some of us will feel it vitally in that way.
When I placed my name to the Amendment on the Paper I felt keenly that the protestations of the borough council of which I am and have been a member for about 28 years had not received the regard that they should have received, but since the Order Paper was printed I have had an opportunity of consulting with the Transport Board, and they have made certain suggestions, as a result of which I should not feel justified in opposing the Bill in the Lobby. My only hope is that to-night the Minister of Transport may be able to give us some assurance, because I gather from the Transport Board that it now rests with him. I understand that the Ministry laid a scheme before the Transport Board to improve the travelling facilities between New Cross, Brockley, and Forest Hill, and that the scheme now awaits the sanction of the Minister of Transport, so I hope he may be able to give us some assurance to-night.
Unlike some of the speakers to-night, I am not asking for better accommodation. I am not even asking for standing room, because we at New Cross are not even allowed that opportunity. The tram and bus service there for years has been so appalling that it is no infrequent thing—and I speak from personal knowledge, because unfortunately on certain evenings of the week I have to travel from the "Marquis" at New Cross to go to Brockley, when the House is not sitting —to see from 100 to 150 people waiting for a Brockley tram or bus. One 111 occasionally comes along sandwiched between others going to other destinations. Half-a-dozen people manage to get on and the remainder are left standing. I have more than once had the buttons torn off my coat in the unholy scrambles that take place between 5.30 and 6.30 to board a tram or a bus. I appreciate the difficulties with which the Transport Board is placed, but I suggest that in that area we are getting more than our fair share of them. We say that the difficulties should be equalised a little more. My borough council has been in negotiation with the board for years and we get promises, but nothing materialises.
It will be admitted by my constituents that the services to-day are immeasurably and demonstrably worse than they were in the days when the London County Council and the City Omnibus Company ran services. The first duty of the Transport Board is to study the convenience of the travelling public. My view is that that is a last consideration of the board. We have heard—and the instances can be justified and multiplied —that a number of young people resident in my borough have lost their jobs through being late in the mornings. An excuse like "the tram did not arrive in time" may go down occasionally with an employer, but it cannot be made too often. There are many instances in Deptford of young people having lost their jobs through being late because of their inability to get trams or buses in time. It is no uncommon thing to find young people who have been in the habit of coming home to their midday meals, who are no longer able to do it because they cannot depend on getting a regular service. These things ought to be taken into consideration, and I trust that the Minister will use such influence as he has with the Transport Board seriously to consider this new scheme to remove some of the grievances which I understand have been placed before him, and to see that a really adequate service, allowing for the difficulties, is given to the borough that I represent.
§ Sir Patrick Hannon
The hon. Member and the hon. Member for South-East Southwark (Mr. Naylor) stated that the rates in their respective boroughs would be substantially increased if this Bill became an Act. Some of us are in a difficulty about that statement, and would 112 like to know in what way the rates will be increased.
§ Mr. Green
At present the tramway undertaking pays rates to the local authorities and the upkeep of the roads now partly falls on the tramway undertaking. Both of those contributions will cease when trolley buses are running. There is further, I understand, the question of the reinstatement of the roads consequent on the disuse of the conduit system.
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ Sir Percy Harris
Hon. Gentlemen need not apologise for putting their Amendment on the Paper. This is a Bill of 95 Clauses and it is a proper compliment to it and to its promoters that the House of Commons should be given an opportunity of thoroughly examining it. The hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. G. Balfour) said that the problem was insoluble. Surely that is a counsel of despair. We as London Members have a responsibility to bring pressure to bear on the responsible authority to see that some solution is found of what is, after all, a difficult problem, but, in our view, not an insoluble problem if there is a will and co-operation between Parliament and the Transport Board.
§ Mr. Balfour
All I meant was that the population of London is so large that you will never solve the overcrowding problem at the rush hours.
§ Sir P. Harris
The suffering early morning and in the evening of the travelling public who have to use the tubes, buses and trams, who have to strap-hang day after day, makes it a problem so urgent that the House of Commons has a special responsibility to discuss a Bill of this character. That applies more to this Bill than to any other kind of traffic Bill from any other part of the country. In Birmingham, for instance, the local authority is responsible. The City Corporation manages its trams and buses, but the only real chance for the great London public to have their grievances ventilated is on the Floor of the House of Commons. The hon. Member for Hampstead, whose electors are great sufferers from the congestion on the Tube, says there is not any real remedy because the population is so large that some congestion is inevitable. In many American cities they have got over 113 the difficulty by having a double line of track. That is the solution, and it is no use the board coming time after time with these Bills unless they recognise that as an urgent necessity.
All the central London tubes, if they are to be extended, must have their tracks doubled. Some of them in America have a third track, which is used as a relief in the early morning and evening rush hours. The inconvenience and discomfort are so serious that we cannot be satisfied, to be told that no remedy is possible. There is another side of the question which makes it even more pressing. We are endeavouring to persuade the population in the centre of London, the East End and South London, in districts like Southwark, Bermondsey and Bethnal Green, to go further out. The answer we get, however, is that they cannot go any further out because of the expense—which I do not think is insurmountable—and because of the congestion and overcrowding in the trams, tubes and buses and the inevitable delays and difficulties in the way of people being able to get to work punctually. There is another remedy, in which the Ministry of Transport must be interested, and that is the improvement of the roads.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Captain Bourne)
We are not on the Second Reading. We are discussing now what is in the Bill.
§ Sir P. Harris
I quite agree. I realised that I was sailing a little too near the wind, but I hope that we shall have another opportunity to take a wider survey of the problem, because we cannot isolate the responsibilities of the London Passenger Transport Board from the larger question of the general improvement and replanning of this great new London which is growing up so rapidly. The reason why we have to force people underground is that the present road system is not good enough to carry the vehicles above ground. I say to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport that if he is to get this Bill —and I think he will get it—the Ministry ought to persuade the board to be conscious of the grave and growing discontent of the travelling public. The Londoner is probably the most patient person in the world. He puts up with discomfort better than, probably, anybody in any city in the world, but we should not take advantage of him for that 114 reason. This House and the board ought to show more imagination and more ingenuity in tackling the problem. During the last week or two there have been some serious incidents, and I have even heard of a stay-in strike by a section of the travelling public on one of the tubes. Such things have a way of spreading, and we do not want to see such happenings in London.
I say to the board that if they are to get support for their Bills in this House they must show that they realise that they have a responsibility to meet the requirement of the regular travelling public who go to work every morning and return every evening. There is a growing idea among some people that the management of some part of the services think that the public exist for the tubes and the trams and not the trams and the tubes for the public, that it is quite good enough to give the public a strap to hang from every morning and to extort a fare in return. One day the strap-hangers may rise in their wrath, and, as an hon. Member behind me says, may hang the persons responsible from their own straps. But I think we had better let this Bill go through, because it is a small contribution, though an insufficient one, towards solving the traffic problem. I am unfortunately encouraging the people in the district I represent to go to live in garden suburbs, but if I am to be successful there must be some substantial improvement in the travelling facilities provided by this great monopoly, the London Passenger Transport Board.
§ 8.39 P.m.
The hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris), in commenting on the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead (Mr. G. Balfour), stigmatised his remarks on one point as being a policy of despair. I can sympathise with my hon. Friend the Member for South-West Bethnal Green, because I have frequently heard him advocate a policy of despair on many other subjects which come before us. I only wish to intervene for a few minutes as a member of the Select Committee which considered, very carefully and exhaustively considered, this Bill in Committee. Some Members may ask why I, as a Scottish Member, should have been placed on that Select Committee, and the answer is that it was in order 115 that the Committee might bring an unprejudiced and impartial mind to the consideration of these very vital problems, very vital in view of the very carefully considered speeches which have been made this evening.
The main attack has been directed against Clause 32. We had one speech directed exclusively against Clause 5, and I will say a word or two about that before I sit down. The hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly) has moved that the Bill be considered this day six months, simply and solely because he and those associated with him object to this one Clause in the Bill, Clause 32. My observations have led me to the conclusion that he is a good Parliamentarian, and I would respectfully suggest to him that it would have been much wiser for him to have objected to the Bill on Second Reading, or moved that it be an instruction to the Committee upstairs to leave out Clause 32, rather than seek to jettison the whole of this very valuable Measure, which is what his Amendment would do if it were pressed to a Division and carried, as I hope it will not be.
There is another course which was open to him. It is open to him on the Report stage to move the deletion of what seems to him and those associated with him to be a most obnoxious Clause. And there was still one other course he could have taken, and that was to allow this Measure to proceed without a division now, and, in another place, to move that it be an instruction to the Committee to delete the Clause or to amend it. We must all sympathise with those Members in all quarters of the House who have deplored the traffic conditions and the congestion on tube railways, especially the tube railway which we are specially discussing to-night. When we were subjecting this Bill to the exhaustive examination in Committee to which I have alluded no appearances were made on petition against this Clause. There were three petitions lodged in the first instance, by the County Council of Hertfordshire, the County Council of Middlesex and the Harrow Urban District Council, and I am led to the conclusion that the members of those local government bodies were satisfied that this Bill in its entirety, in particular this Clause, would be beneficial to the inhabitants of their 116 areas, because they decided to put in no appearance before the Committee.
I understand the hon. Gentleman to say that he is not to blame. Am I to deduce from his interjection that he knows better than all the members of all those three local government bodies?
I quite understand that the hon. Member has suffered inconvenience, and perhaps he thinks the members of those local government bodies are reactionary and are not fit to be entrusted with the control of those areas.
I was going to say a word about that. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will allow me to deal first with the remarks of the Mover of the Amendment.
§ Sir R. Blair
I think the hon. Member means Clause 13 of the Bill, although he has been referring to Clause 32.
I must apologise to the House; I should have said Clause 13, the unlucky number. I suppose the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly) believes he knows more about this matter than the local bodies; he is not reactionary, but they are. The hon. Member for Cambridge University (Sir J. Withers) said that all these objections could be lodged in another place; that would be a perfectly legitimate procedure, for I understood from his speech that the objections being taken on petition in another place will be solely with regard to amenities.
§ Sir J. Withers
Not altogether. I do not know whether the county council are limiting their grievances and whether amenities form part of the objection.
So far as I understood the hon. Gentleman, objection was to be principally on the ground of amenities. In this Bill we are not primarily concerned with amenities; the whole line of attack has been on the ground of congestion and of improper facilities being afforded to the travelling public, of North 117 London particularly. The Debate has swept a far wider field than that and has dealt with the problems of the travelling public of London. All speakers supporting the Bill have stressed the importance of the London Passenger Transport Board's realising the position, and doing all that is humanly possible to deal with what the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. G. Balfour) called an insoluble problem. I thought that his use of the word "insoluble" was a little too strong. I am sure that he would agree that, as time goes on, although the problem to be faced in consequence of the increase of population will be always more formidable, the London Passenger Transport Board, and those associated with the board, will be in a position to deal more adequately with this most serious problem.
§ Mr. C. Balfour
I thought I used the phrase "this almost insoluble problem." I woud ask whether it has ever been the lot of the hon. Gentleman to deal with this traffic problem. It has been mine, and I am sure he would use the same words if he had had that experience.
I admit the hon. Gentleman's use of the adverb "almost," in speaking on this problem. I have not had my hon. Friend's long experience in North London and elsewhere in dealing with traffic problems at first hand. I am intervening in this Debate only as a member of the Committee which dealt with the Bill. I say again that this question was never raised in the Committee, and further that no appearance was put in in regard to the petitions which were entered. I sympathise with the remarks that have been made by all parties in this House that the London Passenger Transport Board should realise what is imposed upon them with regard to this almost insoluble problem. Although I was a member of the judicial tribunal in connection with this Bill, I think I have a right to do that. I do not wish to be controversial, but as I listened to the Debate on the unlucky Clause 13 and on Clause 5, the thought was in my mind that, when legislation of this kind is proposed, the interests directly affected so often represent that nothing is being done. I think that any impartial listener to the Debate would agree with me that the London Passenger Transport Board are trying by this Bill to do something which is very greatly 118 needed by the travelling public in North London. I do not think that anybody has as yet alluded to the fact that it is proposed to double the London and North Eastern Railway's existing line from Finchley to Edgware.
I did not think anybody had done so. That improvement is to be made in the very near future or as soon as is humanly possible, and will of necessity increase the number of passengers travelling on that line, and will relieve the tube railway, which has been a bone of contention, perhaps up to 25 or 30 per cent. It may be objected that that percentage is not very much, but it is something. The hon. Member for Rochdale very strongly objects to the extension of 2¾ miles of the existing tube railway, but he does not realise that it is vitally necessary to provide increased accommodation for people who are travelling daily in the tube railway, and that in future the London and North Eastern Railway line will have been doubled to Edgware in order to provide accommodation for 550 new cars—I speak from memory but I think the figures are correct—of the most up-to-date type, and giving an increased seating capacity of about 14 persons each. I wish the hon. Gentleman could realise that a very great deal is being done in the Bill to relieve congestion. I wish he would take a different view of the matter and realise that this is an attempt to do something, and not a measure of an extremely reactionary kind warranting the sort of picture which he was guilty—shall I say —of presenting to the House.
I should like to refer also to the speech of the hon. Member for South-East Southwark (Mr. Naylor), who objects to Clause 5, which proposes to substitute in certain areas systems of trolley-buses in lieu of the existing tramway services. This proposal gave the Select Committee which considered the Bill occasion for very serious reflection. The points made by the hon. Member were discussed at considerable length by the promoting and opposing counsel, and the Committee had the benefit of hearing the most expert witnesses on the matter, as the minutes of the proceedings will show. With regard to the substitution of trolley-buses for tramway vehicles on the Thames Embankment, which is within 119 the jurisdiction of the Westminster City Council, I can say for the benefit of the hon. Member that the Committee came to their decision only after very long, careful and protracted discussion. The chairman, in announcing the decision, uttered a strong note of warning, saying that the Committee had only come to their decision with very great reluctance. In other words, we thought it was a very grave step to take, having regard to previous legislation, to allow a trolley-bus system to operate within the precincts of the Mother of Parliaments, near to Westminster Abbey, and in such an ancient city as Westminster. With regard to the suggestion that there will be increased congestion if trolley-buses are substituted for trams, I hope the hon. Member will realise that trolley-buses are much more flexible than tramway cars, and, so far from congestion being increased, I should very much hope that it would be relieved. I am satisfied, and I am sure that those associated with me on the Committee were satisfied, that the formidable problem of increased congestion which the hon. Member envisages is not a reality, and with that remark I should like to leave the matter.
I desire to join with others who have expressed the hope that those who have been responsible for putting on the Order Paper this Amendment, that the Bill be considered upon this day six months, will not press the matter to a Division. In particular, I hope that the hon. Member for Rochdale will realise that a time like this, when the London Passenger Transport Board are faced with many problems, and will have to make within the next few days many grave decisions, is not a time for making their onerous tasks more difficult in any way. I trust that the House will realise that the Second Reading was the time for bringing forward objections to Clause 13 and Clause 5, when it would have been possible to move Instructions to the Committee to delete or amend those Clauses upstairs; and that, if they defeat the Bill now they will not merely be defeating Clauses 5 and 13, but will be defeating a most valuable and beneficial Measure brought forward for the benefit of the travelling public of London as a whole.
Accordingly, I venture to suggest that the House will be taking the wiser course if it realises that, that opportunity having 120 been allowed to go by, the proper thing to do is to leave these matters to be dealt with by Amendment in another place. We must all recognise that this question is no bone of contention among parties, and I hope most sincerely that it will never become one. I am horrified to think that the great railway companies are raising fares at the present time. I hope that cheaper fares will become a reality for the dwellers in what were described by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee) as Marie Stopes houses; and certainly, being satisfied that the Bill is a most beneficial Bill, I shall support the Motion before the House.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. R. C. Morrison
I found it difficult to understand why my hon. Friend the Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly) should have put down this Amendment, but, after listening to the speech of the hon. Member for Galloway (Mr. McKie), who was a member of the Committee, I am not sure that he is altogether wrong. I came here to-night with the full determination of supporting the Bill and opposing strenuously the Amendment of my hon. Friend, but the hon. Member for Galloway has nearly converted me to the other point of view. He has handed out, during his long speech, an enormous amount of information which he appears to have collected in the Committee and which he thinks has made him a traffic expert.
Nothing is further from my mind than to try to pose as a traffic expert, and I would ask the hon. Member to produce one sentence of my speech which supports that suggestion.
§ Mr. Morrison
I was going to suggest that it would have been rather a good idea if the Committee at some stage had broken off their deliberations and if the hon. Member had had a few weeks' experience of travelling conditions in certain London areas such as some of us have had.
That remark would apply to the deliberations of any Select Committee, or to any legislation that is brought forward in this House.
§ Mr. Morrison
I think that perhaps, if I am to get on with my remarks, I had better leave the hon. Member alone. I am sorry that the hon. Member for 121 Hampstead (Mr. G. Balfour) has gone, because, in regard to his reference to the problem as being almost insoluble, I wanted to draw his attention to one important change that I have noticed during the past 10 or 12 years. In many districts of North London, up till 10 or 12 years ago, the sight could be seen at the rush hour every night of crowded trams, buses and tubes taking back people packed like sardines to the outskirts of London, and coming back empty. In many of those districts to-day, while you will still see the same crowding when people are being taken out, you see a change in that the trams, buses and tubes are crowded on the return journey also, owing to the fact that so many factories have sprung up on the outskirts, the employés of which are living nearer to London, so that there is a double instead of only a single load. The principal point that I want to make is that, with all the hardships referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Rochdale and others, the hardships and grievances of Golders Green are nevertheless, in my judgment, comparatively insignificant as compared with those of other parts of London.
I was brought up in a school which believes in first things first. Anyone who believes in that doctrine as far as traffic problems are concerned and has to spend some time in trying to get eastwards, or northwards for that matter, during the rush hours, ought to have some experience of the conditions which the Parliamentary Secretary and I have to put up with on the antiquated London and North Eastern Railway line from Liverpool Street to Enfield—probably the greatest traffic scandal in the world. I do not think the hon. Member for Galloway was correct in assuming, if he did assume, that the London Passenger Transport Board can solve this problem of fares.
§ Mr. Morrison
I thought I should be wrong, but I gathered that he was under the impression that the fares on the Stan-more route were a matter for the London Passenger Transport Board.
The question of fares never came before the Committee, because Clause 13 was never discussed, for the reason I have already given, that no appearance was made on the petition. I 122 was only led to mention the subject of fares because of the speeches of Members who preceded me in the Debate.
§ Mr. Morrison
I was only going to point out that, if my interpretation of the Bill is right, fares in the Stanmore direction are a matter for the London and North Eastern Railway Company and not for the London Passenger Transport Board.
I omitted to state that the control of the section from Finchley to Edgware on the line operated by the London and North Eastern Railway Company will be under the London Passenger Transport Board.
§ Mr. Morrison
In spite of the speech of the hon. Member who was a Member of the Committee, I must carry out my original intention of voting for the Bill. I want the scheme to go through as quickly as possible. I know of no alternative. A promise has been made that the line in which I am interested, from Liverpool Street to Enfield, is the next that will be dealt with. I have an enormous number of resolutions, including one from the North Hackney Conservative Association, demanding electrification at the earliest moment. Another reason is that I am a little doubtful whether this Debate will serve any particularly useful purpose, apart from the brilliant speech of the hon. Member for Galloway. I made a suggestion the last time I took part in a Debate on a London Passenger Transport Bill which I should like to repeat, because I think the time has come when it should be carried a little further. I said:Inevitably when Private Bills, especially transport Bills, come before the House, Members desire to voice grievances arising in their districts. I think that is unfortunate, I think it is a misuse of Parliament. Almost every grievance raised on these occasions is extraneous to the Bill under discussion and I suggest to the consideration of the Minister, and particularly to the board, that between now and the promotion of the next Bill they should see whether some simple machinery could not be devised whereby Members of Parliament representing divisions in the board's area should have an opportunity of coming more closely in touch with the representatives of the board, to have questions of omnibus services and things of that kind settled without being thrashed out on the Floor of the House."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th March, 1936; col. 1522, Vol. 309.]As a result, I hope, of that suggestion a considerable improvement has taken place, and I think many Members 123 are much more satisfied with having been brought into closer touch with officials of the board than with the old-fashioned system of continually raising these matters on the Floor of the House. I want to suggest now that the board ought to get more closely into touch with local authorities. Every local authority in London is continually writing to the board and receiving letters in reply. I throw out the suggestion that, if officials on the board were to extend the scheme that they have commenced in regard to Members of Parliament and get into personal contact with local authorities in order to discuss these questions, it would be better than having Debates in the House.
I am a little perturbed at the statement of the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) that things are so bad that there was a sit-down strike of passengers. There was a stay-in strike in the House of Commons on Thursday when Members stayed all night, but I am not sure that anyone accomplished anything. There is no wonder that the public find a difficulty in understanding the House of Commons sometimes when we sat for a day and all night last week and now we are spending the evening in discussing the grievances of Golders Green. I think if it is possible for the board to devise machinery which will make these discussions unnecessary, it will be to the advantage of everyone concerned.
§ 9.13 p.m.
§ Mr. H. Strauss
If the Amendment is taken to a Division, I do not think I shall be able to support it, though I agree that the hon. Member was justified in bringing the matter forward and I agree with a great deal that has been said, particularly by the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Sir J. Withers). The remarks that I wish to make deal solely with amenities. The hon. Member for Galloway (Mr. McKie) said that some of these points had not been raised by petition when the matter was before the Committee. Of course, it is an expensive matter to petition against these Bills, and the people concerned with amenities are not generally very rich, nor generally would they have any locus under the rules of procedure. I do not suppose that the Council for the Preservation of Rural England would have had any right 124 to appear by counsel before the Committee. The Clauses to which I wish to refer, not with any idea of defeating the Bill, but in the hope that it may be considered carefully in Committee in another place, are Clauses 6 and 13. Clause 6 deals with provision for turning trolley vehicles. Sub-section (3) embodies certain views of the Committee which considered the Bill and says:This section shall not extend to enable the board to make any provision for the turning of trolley vehicles on "—and it gives three selected places where no turning shall be permitted. I understand that the London Passenger Transport Board, if Clause 6 remains as it is, propose to seek permission for turning trolley vehicles in certain streets in Chelsea which, I am quite confident, would have been refused by the Committee if they had had any idea that such were the intentions of the board. I suggest seriously, in the hope that this may receive the attention of those who sit in the Committee in another place, that they should ascertain from the London Passenger Transport Board what are the places which they are trying to secure for turning trolley-buses, in order to ensure that important amenities in Chelsea and elsewhere are not endangered.
Let me now turn to Clause 13, the subject of the main discussion to-night, which deals with the extension to the Aldenham Reservoir. That will tap a piece of country which, though near London, is still in part unspoilt. At a time when we are rightly eager to protect, where it is not too late, such stretches of countryside as are near and accessible to London, it is a very serious thing indeed to extend a railway if we believe that the inevitable effect of such extension is that the new station will be quickly surrounded by the sort of building that was described, I thought much too mildly, by the Leader of the Opposition. I do not often complain that the right hon. Gentleman is too mild, but on this particular subject I could go much further than he did. I looked into the case for the London Passenger Transport Board, which has been placed in the hands of every hon. Member, to see how they justified this extension from Edgware to Aldenham, and I gathered that Aldenham is the only place where they can find sufficient accommodation for their new rolling stock. I am inclined to say, "Tell 125 that to the Marines." But suppose it to be true, and that it is right that they should be allowed to extend this railway to Aldenham, and to have a depot there and accommodation for their rolling stock, that is no ground for opening a passenger station there. If this extension is allowed at all, it should be very carefully considered whether any station on that site should be permitted. It may be argued, if you are going to have a building of the London Passenger Transport Board there, are you not going to spoil the place anyway? As to that, I do not know. It so happens that in the deplorable horror of the architecture springing up around London, almost the only decent architecture is provided by the London Passenger Transport Board. It has had the sense to employ an excellent architect, and it has given us some very fine buildings. On the whole the architecture of the London Passenger Transport Board, and indeed their stations, are good. I admire the board for many things, for their encouragement of good architecture, and design, and so forth; but I am quite certain that if this bit of hitherto unspoiled countryside is opened up by the board, the building provided by the board will be the only decent and reputable building which will be placed there.
I often pass out of London, and I have done it in many directions. Not long ago I went through one of the northern suburbs, not one of the poorer but one of the better ones, and you could see the buildings that were going up in this recently opened district. You were offered three alternatives: you could have "a cosy palace," you could have "a bijou baronial hall," and lastly, you could have "a Tudor garage." The one thing you could not have, for love or money, was a decent house. As long as this plague of mock Tudor continues and this worship of the false and bogus which is springing up in every new district opened up, ruining our countryside, without providing the amenities of a civilised community, so long ought we to hesitate before we allow this station to be opened in a hitherto unspoiled country district. I believe that the sort of thing that has been permitted around London and our great cities in the last 20 years is more scandalous than anything in our history, and more foolish and more short-sighted. Since the War, I am told, we have added to London a 126 city of the size of Manchester, and I am sorry to say it is equally beastly. I do not wish to go further to-night than to draw attention to these two Clauses: Clause 6, under which certain amenities in London may be threatened; and Clause 13, under which unspoiled country will be ruined. I hope that what has been said by some speakers on amenities here to-night may be noted in another place, and the dangers of this Bill avoided.
§ 9.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Messer
It is not my purpose to detain the House very long, but the Bill is very interesting to me, for two reasons. The first is that two of the routes, route No. 10 and route No. 19, will affect my division. They will affect the division of the hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary to the Ministry of Transport more than they will mine. Route No. 10, will be a service of trolley-buses going from Amhurst Park as it joins Seven Sisters Road and thence towards Highgate. What I am concerned about is an efficient transport service to that particular part of London and Middlesex. In my division, we have the difficulty of congestion which arises from a dog track and a first-class ice skating rink to the south; the famous Arsenal football Club to the north, and in my colleague's division there is what once was the finest football team in the country, the Hotspurs. These centres of attraction draw large numbers of people into my division, and through my division to the centres to which I have referred. I am reminded too, that north of that there is Alexandra Palace.
Trolley-buses are already in existence and going through part of my division as a result of the last Bill of the London Passenger Transport Board. I am not opposing this Bill, because I think it is a step in the right direction, and I know that the limits of Parliamentary procedure would not permit me at this juncture to suggest how it could be improved. I want to point out, however, that the trolley-buses, coming as they do —and it will be understood by those who know the geography—along the main road and branching off at another main road, will in some respects mean an accentuation of congestion, the reason being that they will attract a travelling public which at the moment does not use that way. I trust that the Parliamentary Secretary, when he replies, may hold out 127 some hope of improved organisational transport in that district. Route 19 travels from Finsbury Park and Manor House down Green Lanes into the City. The point known as the Manor House is the base of a triangle and, where the transport facilities have been improved north of Finsbury Park by the extension of the tube railway going to West Enfield, there has been no improvement of transport north-east of Finsbury Park going from Edmonton and Ponder's End. As Manor House is one point of a triangle—
§ Mr. Messer
That is a point surely. Travelling along one side of Seven Sisters Road, travelling along another side of the triangle, Green Lanes, two roads gradually converge for somewhere in the neighbourhood of 1¼ miles. Between these roads there is a junction road, St. Ann's Road, and anybody wanting to get from west to east or from east to west, from Harringay and Tottenham, has either to walk the length of St. Ann's Road, or go to Manor House, change there and get on another vehicle going east. In other words, there is no direct communication from the north of my division into the east part of London. If, for instance, I wanted to call on the Parliamentary Secretary I would need to walk from my house for 10 minutes, then get on to a car, because Parliamentary salaries do not allow of taxis, change and get on to another vehicle, and finally, after spending three times the amount of time that the distance justifies, probably arrive at the hon. Gentleman's house and find him out.
§ Mr. Messer
Not if the object of my visit was to get him to do something. Therefore, I do not propose to oppose the Bill, but the whole transport facilities ought to be considered in the light of a re-planning. They are being done piecemeal, whereas there should be a complete examination of the whole problem and, if that examination is to be effective, it must be in conjunction with the people who know the difficulties of the locality which they represent and in which they have some responsibility for administration. It was said by the hon. Member 128 for Galloway (Mr. McKie) that the petitioning authorities had withdrawn their opposition. He said that the Middlesex County Council had withdrawn their opposition. He said, "Is it assumed that the members of these authorities are reactionary?" No, and neither must it be assumed that the whole of the members of these authorities were consulted with regard to their opposition. Notwithstanding that, no one seriously wants to prevent this Bill going through, because it is some slight improvement.
§ 9.3o p.m.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
In his valuable speech the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. G. Balfour) said that those who have to consider the problems of London traffic were faced with an almost insoluble problem. Surely that is proof, if proof were needed, of the urgent necessity of which my hon. Friends on this side have often spoken for drastic measures of reform with regard to town and country planning and, particularly with regard to London, it is proof that we need drastic control of a more effective kind than we have ever had. Many of the most important things that have been said to-night were on the broader considerations brought forward by the hon. Member for Hampstead, considerations which, you, Sir, very rightly ruled out of order. Since they are ruled out of order, I want to confine myself to the point mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition and the hon. Member for Norwich (Mr. H. Strauss) in Clause 13, the extension of the line to the Elstree-Watford by-pass junction. I venture to submit to the House that the dropping of this extension would not imperil the rest of the £13,000,000 scheme which the London Passenger Transport Board put forward. On the contrary, the rest of the scheme could be carried through. The only effect of dropping this part is to remove what is certain to become a cause of additional congestion in an early future. The hon. Member for Galloway (Mr. McKie) assured us that this extension is only required for the construction of a depot which is vitally necessary to house the 550 new cars to be put on the line. and that the board did not intend to create a new centre of population. On this extension the board propose to spend the money required to build 2½miles of new line, to fill in a lake, to erect a station 129 and, since there is to be no population, to build shops.
I think the hon. Member for Norwich went to the root of the matter when he asked, Why is it necessary to have a passenger station if you want only to build a depot for cars? It is plain that these new works could not be paid for unless the board had a centre of population, and it is plain that if this scheme goes through as it stands it will mean along the Watford by-pass ribbon development of the absolutely atrocious kind, which you can see on too many miles of that road already, destroying the value of that road as a by-pass and an artery for fast traffic. It will mean the creation of a new dormitory suburb. It will mean the destruction of a track of really beautiful country near London and easily accessible to a great part of the London population. It is right in the middle of country which must be included in a green belt if you are to have a green belt. It is about 13 to 14 miles from Marble Arch and it is in a county which so far has not made a great contribution to the green belt. Essex has provided 9,000 acres; Middlesex and Buckinghamshire about 5,000 each; and Hertfordshire, where this new extension is to be made, this new centre of population to be established, has so far contributed only 2,500 acres. It is proposed to destroy a piece of admirable country which cannot be replaced.
This area includes a sanctuary for birds, the only one I know in the vicinity of London. It also includes two beautiful pieces of water to which many people go in winter and summer, and above all it includes facilities for exercise in the open air. The green belt is now not only necessary for the preservation of the countryside but is needed for exercising in the open air. I have the honour to be a member of the National Advisory Council which is considering the physical training and betterment of the health of the nation. We are considering action of many kinds, but so far our discussions have convinced me that there is nothing so important, nothing so helpful, as increasing the opportunities for our young men and women to walk and bicycle in the countryside. Here in this area there are something like 50 miles of paths which the owners very generously allow to be used by walkers and hikers, and the 130 value of these will be destroyed if this becomes another built-up area.
It may be said that this is not going to happen. I believe it is absolutely certain to happen. Already land values in this area have risen enormously since the plans of the London Passenger Transport Board were first divulged, and a rise in land values is always the surest sign of the jerrybuilder's wrath to come. All this is to be risked for the sake of a depot. Is there any other possible site for this depot? I do not profess to know, but I would ask the Minister to deal with this question particularly in his reply, because I hope he will agree to support an Amendment in another place which will deal with this most important aspect of the matter. According to the information I have received there are other sites available. I have a letter written to "The Times" by the headmaster of Aldenham School, a well-known and responsible man of high standing, who says that just outside Edgware itself there is on the line of the proposed extension, but one and three-quarter miles nearer London, an area double the acreage which is required for the depot, and level throughout, where in fact, the depot could be placed at much less cost than it will be now at Elstree. That information may be wrong, but I hope the Minister will give us some information on the point.
I hope and pray, whatever may be the truth about the possibility of finding other sites for this depot, that some other alternative will be found to the destruction of this bit of the countryside. I am satisfied that if the scheme goes through we shall be allowing another example of the indiscriminate growth of London which has been such a disgrace to our generation. It is a serious example of such growth, and I hope measures will be taken to see that it does not occur.
§ 9.39 P.m.
§ Mr. Petherick
I do not propose to keep the House for more than a few moments. I have taken a rather impish delight in watching the division of opinion which exists. The hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. G. Balfour), a strong right-wing Tory, made a powerful plea for this great Socialistic enterprise, while hon. Members opposite have voiced their grave objections to it. I wish to raise a purely constituency point. Lest any hon. Member should think that the activities of the London Passenger Trans- 131 port Board have extended to Penryn and Falmouth let me say that I am speaking now on behalf of my hon. Friend the Member for South-West Saint Pancras (Sir G. Mitcheson), whose constituents are affected by the Bill. My hon. Friend is under doctor's orders and unable to be present, and when he mentioned the matter to me I went and had a look at the various streets which will be affected. Let me explain my problem by a relation to the geography of the House generally. The passage from another place to the Central Lobby is the Hampstead Road, and it crosses Euston Road at the gangway on the other side of the Bar, that is at right angles, and then crosses into the Tottenham Court Road where the central gangway is at present.
At the present time buses come down the Hampstead Road and stop at the junction with the Euston Road, going back on another line. The trolley-buses will take over that route and the suggestion which has been the subject of inquiry is that instead of stopping where the trams do now they shall continue down the Tottenham Court Road, that is down the central gangway, until they get to a point represented by Mr. Speaker's Chair, then turn right up Howland Street, turn right again up Fitzroy Street and come down at right angles into Marylebone Street and join the Tottenham Court Road again. There are three right-angle turns until they get once more into Tottenham Court Road. At that point the Tottenham Court Road is rather narrow. You can get about four lines of traffic, and when I was there, not at a busy time, the congestion was considerable. If these trolley-buses carry on down Tottenham Court Road in order to turn it will entail an extra 6o buses per hour in addition to the existing heavy traffic. My hon. Friend's constituents suggest a different route. They suggest that it is quite unnecessary to go further into the Tottenham Court Road and only necessary for the trolley-buses to go as far as the trams do now and then turn left into the Euston Road, that is on the other side of the Gangway, and turn left again up George Street into the Hampstead Road. That would be two left-handed turns, that is turns with the traffic, and it is a fairly broad road and actually a better suggestion than the one in the Bill.
§ Mr. Messer
I want to make sure of the hon. Member's geography. Do I understand that trolley-buses will come along the Hampstead Road, turn down into Euston Road and then go along Gower Street into the Hampstead Road again?
§ Mr. Petherick
I understand the suggestion is to go down the Hampstead Road, turn left along the Euston Road for a short distance and then take another left-handed turn into the Hampstead Road again. It entails only two turns. It seems to me that this alternative suggestion is very much better than the one which may be adopted as the result of the inquiry. It would mean that this additional traffic would not get into the narrow Tottenham Court Road, and you would have left-handed turns instead of right-handed and avoid a good deal of congestion. The inquiry was held on the l0th, 11th and 12th of November last, and at that time it was thought by my hon. Friend's constituents that the Borough of St. Pancras was going to make serious objection to the proposal. There had been an investigation by their borough engineer who apparently had pointed to the fact that a great many expensive alterations would be necessary for the route proposed by the London Passenger Transport Board.
It was thought that the borough would prosecute their objections by means of employing counsel, calling evidence, and doing everything that a local authority properly can do to make their objections felt. But they did not do so. For some reason or another, all that they did was to send the chairman of their highways committee to appear before the board and to read out a minute, I think—although I am open to correction on that point—objecting in general to the scheme which was to be passed. The result of that was that the inquiry reported in favour of the scheme for the route to go round Howland Street and Fitzroy Street in preference to the alternative route. Having examined the route on the spot, I think that the scheme adopted is the worse of the two schemes. After all, the local authority is in a position to state very much more forcibly and with more authority the views of the people in general in its area than are private people. Consequently the private people did not "make much of a show," if I may use the vernacular, and the St. Pancras 133 Borough Council appear not to have proceeded seriously with its objections.
The present situation is that the case is in the hands of the Minister. I hope that before he adopts the scheme put forward as a result of the inquiry, he will look very carefully into the matter again and compare that scheme with the scheme put forward by many of the local residents. If he can see his way to adopt the latter or to order a fresh inquiry to be held, I hope he will do so.
§ 9.48 p.m.
§ Mr. Ede
If my hon. Friend the Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly) presses this Amendment to a Division, I shall vote for it, because I am sure that until the House does something dramatic, such as throw out a Bill of this magnitude, we shall not have the problem of what Cobbett called over 100 years ago the "Great Wen" properly dealt with in this House. In debate after debate hon. Members have deplored the extent to which London is spreading itself over the countryside in a great unwieldy, unorganised mass. We are promised a Royal Commission to deal with the question of the location of industry, which is one of the things bound up in this matter, but we have not heard of the Royal Commission's terms of reference or of its membership.
I have seen what has happened in South London on account of this very process. I recollect that in 1924, when this tube was extended to Morden, I was one of those who went on one of the first trains, by invitation of the board. We got out into what was then a delightful piece of countryside, with an old village inn quite close. It was closed at the time we arrived, but we noted it as a place of call as we came back. We then proceeded to spread ourselves over a piece of country which, without being very hilly, was none the less quite pleasant. About two months later the Surrey County Council considered an application from the local urban council to buy some of that land for use as a playing field, and the members who went to see it reported that there were less houses there than there were in 1821. Now, from that place right to Epsom, there is a solid mass of houses. There is now no open country until one gets through Epsom to Epsom Common, and even the small isolated enclosure in Epsom Common where the ancient wells were situated has 134 now been covered with these small houses. Precisely the same thing will happen in the North of London, at Aldenham reservoir and these other places, if this extension is allowed.
Twice during the present Session the hon. Member for Maidstone (Mr. Bossom) has brought this kind of matter before the House. Everybody agrees with the hon. Member for Maidstone, and that is the chief source of danger to his ideas. There is no fight left. But while we are congratulating ourselves that we are all in favour of preserving amenities, the speculative builder goes on with his work. I deplore the condition of affairs that will arise in the neighbourhood of the extension of this line if it is allowed. It is of no use the hon. Member for Norwich (Mr. H. Strauss) proclaiming his jeremiad and asking another place to save us. The place in which to save the area in the North of London is here, to-night. If this Bill went to another place, I should be very sorry to trust the amenities of Hertfordshire to anything that might happen in a place where the chairman of the London Passenger Transport Board sits.
Therefore, I hope that if my hon. Friend cannot get from the Minister an assurance that quite definitely the Government are determined to deal with this problem of the planning of Greater London and its transport facilities, he will press his Amendment to a Division, and I sincerely trust that the House will realise, as it did the other night on a similar matter with regard to Scotland, that until it throws out a Measure this matter will not be seriously tackled. If the Measure were thrown out, the Government would then believe that those of us who so willingly back the hon. Member for Maidstone in his endeavours to get these subjects dealt with are really in earnest, and would produce a Measure that would enable some bounds to be set to the growth of Greater London.
I suggest that it is entirely wrong to place upon all these young people who are not doing very skilled work the hardship of having to travel into London, standing in these trains day after day, to perform on the expensive floor space at the centre of this great city routine operations that could be done a great deal more healthily and better nearer their homes. The Government ought, in considering this traffic problem, to study 135 the recommendations of the Departmental Committee on Garden Cities and Satellite Towns, on which I had the honour to sit. One authority with which I am connected —the London and Home Counties Joint Electricity Undertaking—has deliberately taken all its routine work away from its offices in Westminster and put part of it at Surbiton and part at Dorking, so that the young people may travel against the main stream of traffic as they go to their work and do that work in more healthy surroundings nearer their homes. All these questions are involved in the principles behind this Bill. I trust that the Government will give some assurance to-night which will enable us to feel that they really understand the seriousness of the situation and will enable my hon. Friend not to press this Amendment to a Division. If he feels that he must press it to a Division, I shall vote with him.
§ 9.54 P.m.
§ Mr. Charleton
This is the first time that I have addressed the House in this Parliament, but I am very interested in this Bill and in the men who work on the tube railways. On their behalf, I would like the House to pass the Bill. The hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) suggested that the London Passenger Transport Board should use some ingenuity, and the hon. Member for South Tottenham (Mr. Messer) spoke of replanning. May I remind the House that the London Passenger Transport Board have done a good deal of replanning. For many years it was my job to take part in the negotiations on behalf of the staff. Hon. Members will recollect that when the tube railways were first laid down, they were not laid down with any particular object of taking people anywhere; but that short stretches of tube were laid down here and there. Anybody who has watched the growth of the London tube system will have seen the wonderful work the London Passenger Transport Board have done. Millions of money have been spent on improving the system, and bringing it to the points which can most usefully be served, but the lamentable fact is that the population is always overtaking that work.
I know what takes place on the Edgware-Morden and Stanmore lines. I live about a mile to the west of Edgware Station close to the Metropolitan and I 136 know from my friends and neighbours that if the fares on the Stanmore line were reduced and made comparable to those on the Edgware line, many hundreds would travel by the Stanmore line instead of by the Edgware line. Similarly, people living at Queensbury take the omnibus to Burnt Oak and join the Edgware line there. I have been in communication with the board on this question. The Bakerloo tube is being extended to join the Metropolitan line at Finchley Road and run through to Stanmore. I raised the question of the fares with the board. It was pointed out to me that the fares on the Metropolitan line were not quite under their control, but I was informed that negotiations were going on and that they felt confident that by the time the Bakerloo line to Stanmore was finished, the fares on the Stanmore line and on the Edgware line would be comparable. To throw out the Bill would be a disaster. The overcrowding would continue and no good purpose would be served. As my hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) suggested the board might get a big shock.
§ Mr. Charleton
Even so it would be delaying the extension of these railways, and that extension would be a help. I am afraid that it would be difficult to prevent people going out to live in these districts. In fact I do not want to prevent them from going there. I was very glad to go there myself a couple of years ago, and friends of mine are going there, and if people do not go to live in these districts, then we shall have to house them in sky-scrapers in London. I am concerned also with the people who are working on the railways. Some sympathy has been expressed with them on the way in which they have to work as a result of this congestion. I can assure the House that they feel it very much and they feel sure that if this Bill is passed, their lot will be made happier than it is now, and matters will be easier for all concerned in the working of the tube railways.
§ 10.0 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport (Captain Austin Hudson)
We have had an interesting 137 Debate, which has ranged over a wide field, and perhaps it would be well, before I proceed to deal in as much detail as possible with the points which have been raised, to inform the House at the outset of the exact position, in connection with this matter, of my right hon. Friend the Minister. There seems to be a great deal of misconception about it. He is only able to transmit representations to the board, for whose policy and management he is not responsible. Parliament deliberately withheld from him any power to take action. If hon. Members will refer to the OFFICIAL REPORT of 6th December, 1932, col. 1483, Vol. 272, they will see that the Minister had powers under the London Passenger Transport Bill, as originally drafted, to take action as regards facilities, while the Railway Rates Tribunal had powers as regards fares. But during the Committee stage, in order to meet objections made by this House to the effect that the Bill conferred excessive powers on the Minister, an Amendment was made by which it was laid down that applications as to both facilities and fares could be made to the Railway Rates Tribunal by a local authority. That removed from the Minister any power to take action himself. I want the House to realise that. When I am asked to do certain things I can assure hon. Members that I will use all my most persuasive methods to do those things, but it is not fair to blame the Minister for not having used powers which the House has not thought fit to grant him.
This Debate has, for the most part, dealt with the subject under two main heads. The first is the overcrowding on the Edgware-Morden line, which overcrowding, it is alleged, will be made worse by extending the line to Aldenham. There has also been a complaint as to the comparative fares on the Stanmore line and the Edgware line, which it is stated drives, people to overcrowd the Edgware line instead of using the more expensive line from Stanmore. First, on the question of overcrowding, the board have set out their plans very fully both in the printed statements sent to every hon. Member and also in letters to the Press. Certain hon. Members have said that the Aldenham extension is primarily for the provision of a new depot for rolling stock, and I am informed by the board that the extra passengers who will 138 use the extension will consist largely, of people who at present use the station at Edgware and who now travel by the same tube. They now come down by other means to Edgware. That, however, does not get over the question of building.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
Is it not the case that Edgware Station is only one mile distant from the houses which are furthest out on that road, whereas the proposed new station will be more than two miles distant?
§ Captain Hudson
The point which I am making is that if there is no extra building there, the people who at present get in at Edgware will get in further out.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
That is precisely the point I am making. If there is no extra building, the houses which now exist are at least twice as near to Edgware Station as they are to the site of the proposed new station. The last house is only one mile from Edgware Station but two miles from the site of the proposed station.
§ Captain Hudson
The hon. Member is saying that what I have been informed of by the board is not a good point to argue. I merely make the representation. I want to make it clear that this is not the Ministry's Bill but the board's Bill. That point I will take up with the board. Then there is the scheme to link the London and North Eastern Railway and the Highgate branch. That scheme does not come under this Bill, as powers were granted in a previous Measure, but it also provides for the doubling and electrification of the London and North Eastern Railway, which will provide a useful alternative route between Camden Town and Edgware. I want to survey what the board are doing to show that they are making very big efforts to deal with the most difficult subject of overcrowding.
Another point that the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down dealt with is the scheme to link the Bakerloo Tube with Stanmore. That will undoubtedly relieve pressure on that part of London where so many of the tubes end within a comparatively short distance of each other. There is to be provided new and improved rolling stock, which I am assured will bring about a 14 per cent. increase in seating accommodation. The hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly), who moved the Amendment, made the point, and rightly, that the worst congestion is 139 not north of Camden Town, but chiefly to the south. This question of the Alden-ham extension and even the scheme to link the London and North Eastern Railway and the Highgate branch will not deal with this part of the problem, but the proposed link between Stanmore and the Bakerloo Tube will help materially in that respect, and so will the improved rolling stock which is to be provided. That will deal with the very vital problem of which my hon. Friend has told the House.
As an earnest of the intentions of the board I am informed—and this is very interesting—that since 8th April the board has already managed to provide in the morning period from Edgware alone five more trains to the West End and five more trains to the City; and in the evening period to Edgware two more trains from the West End and 15 more trains from the City. That does not solve the problem, but anyhow it does show that they are endeavouring to do something. The board hope—and I trust that their hope will be justified—that when all their plans are complete it will mean something like a 40 per cent. increase in accommodation. That is a considerable amount when we consider what a difficult problem it is with which they have to deal.
I should like to turn now to the difficult question of the disparity of fares at Stan-more and at Edgware, about which I answered a question asked on Thursday by my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon (Sir R. Blair), who has written to me also on this subject. The disparity is very great. If you are going on the Stanmore line from Queensbury to Charing Cross you will pay 1s. 2d.; if you are going on the other hand on the Edgware line from Edgware to Charing Cross you will pay only 7d. Therefore, I am not pretending that the disparity is not very great. It comes about because Edgware was an integral part of the Underground system, and Stanmore of the Metropolitan, which followed the main line companies. I agree that every effort should be made towards greater uniformity, and I am assured—and that assurance has been supported by the hon. Member for South Leeds (Mr. Charlton) who preceded me—that the board are in active consultation on the matter with the main line companies. I agree that this question is a vital one in dealing with the subject of 140 congestion, but again I want to stress that the Minister cannot himself do anything. Parliament has laid down certain machinery, and if the local authorities are dissatisfied it is still open to them to make an application to the Railway Rates Tribunal, and that form of appeal, if I may call it so, has been set up by Parliament to deal with exactly this kind of case. Therefore if they feel dissatisfied—and hon. Members in all parts of the House have said that is so—machinery has been devised, and I hope that the local authority will use that machinery before they come to the Minister and say that nothing can be done.
I hope before concluding to deal with one or two other matters which have been raised. First of all the hon. Member for South-East Southwark (Mr. Naylor) and the hon. Member for Deptford (Mr. W. H. Green) raised the question of the cost to the local authorities of the change-over from tramways to trolley vehicles, chiefly owing to the fact that the lines have to be taken up and the road restored to its original condition. The Transport Board act under the London Passenger Transport Act, 1933, Section 23, Sub-section (4). Under that Section, upon the abandonment of tramways, the board have to make good the surface of the road to as good a condition as that in which it was before the tramway equipment was laid and erected. The Minister has no further powers in this matter. I do not think he can do more except to see that the board carry out their obligations, which were placed upon them by this House so short a time ago.
I could not very well deal now with all the questions of rating which have been raised. That is a very much bigger question. All I can say is that if the local authorities feel aggrieved when this big change has been made and the whole of the tramways have disappeared and trolley vehicles take their place, they will always be able to discuss the matter with the appropriate authority, and if that appropriate authority is the Ministry of Transport we shall be only too glad to do what we can to meet their difficulty. The right hon. Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee) and the Member for Derby (Mr. Noel-Baker) made very useful and very thoughtful speeches, but they dealt mostly with the big problem of the enormous growth of building round London and the necessity of adequate planning. All that 141 I can say is that I agree with a great deal of what they have said. I am assured that the board do not want to stop any possibilities of the green belt being extended in the direction of Elstree and Aldenham, but at the same time, if, as I understand, the Bill is to be opposed and petitions are to be lodged against it in another place, I have no doubt that that aspect will be considered by the Committee. On the Report stage in this House, as we are now, I cannot say more than that. I think it was a pity, if local authorities and others felt strongly about this question of the extension to Alden-ham, that there was no opposition on the Committee and, therefore, it could not be examined in detail.
The hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) made only one point which caused me some concern, and that was when he seemed to think that we should follow the admirable example of America as regards tubes. I have always had the tube railway of New York during the rush hours held up to me as being the most intensified form of hell that ever has been. They are so crowded there that they have men—I only saw it some 10 years ago, and it was bad enough then—to throw the passengers in on top of each other, to crush them in, and to shut the doors, in a way which would never be tolerated here.
§ Captain Hudson
I think we do it much more kindly here. At any rate, I do not think that in New York they have managed to solve this problem. It is true that they have four tracks, two express and two local, but at the same time, owing to the nature of New York skyscrapers and so forth, their problems at the rush hours, or, as I believe they call them, the commuting hours, are even worse than ours round about Camden Town and places of that kind.
§ Sir P. Harris
Does the hon. and gallant Gentleman suggest that, because in America they have double tracks, therefore in London we should avoid them? That is what his argument comes to.
§ Captain Hudson
I was saying that, if we take New York's example, double tracks do not prevent overcrowding.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
But the population per square mile in New York is, owing to the geographical restriction of the Island of 142 Manhattan, far greater than anything here.
§ Captain Hudson
I agree, but the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green said, I gathered, that they had solved that problem in America, and I wanted to point out that they were very far from having done that. The hon. Member for Tottenham North (Mr. R. C. Morrison) made a suggestion that the board should get into closer touch with local authorities. It was his suggestion, and he repeated it in his speech, that we should try to organise some machinery by which Members could bring their local grievances more readily to the board. I think that that machinery, which has now been organised, has been a success, and I shall certainly pass on this suggestion of his to see whether again it will not be equally successful in dealing with these purely local matters.
The hon. Member for Tottenham, South (Mr. Messer) dealt with the general question of traffic organisation in the north of London, in both his constituency and mine and the neighbourhood round about. I can only tell him that I cannot now deal in detail with the matters that he raised, but I will take them up with the board and see whether we cannot have some improvement made. Personally, I think that when the trams are replaced by trolley vehicles, we shall see an improvement. The hon. Member for South-East Southwark (Mr. Naylor) said he considered that at the Elephant and Castle and places like that the congestion would be worse. From some experience of going up to Hackney through those crowded streets, I can say that one of the difficulties is that if you get your trams in the middle stopped and your omnibuses at the side stopped, you get a complete jam from the fact that the trams cannot draw in at the side. I believe, myself, that owing to the greater mobility of trolley omnibuses many of our congestion problems in the north and centre of London may be considerably abated.
There was a local matter raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Penryn and Falmouth (Mr. Petherick) with regard to a turning point in Tottenham Court Road. I can only tell him that a public inquiry was held and that a number of suggestions have been made at various times. The original turning point suggested by the board was turned down 143 chiefly because it would have been a great embarrassment to one of our great hospitals, and finally, after the public inquiry, a certain route was selected. When that was done the St. Pancras Borough Council resolved not to pursue their objections. The Metropolitan Police did not object, and finally my right hon. Friend signified his acceptance of the plan, which cannot now be altered. We went into this very carefully at the time, and I think we have chosen the best route we could in difficult circumstances. Everyone must realise the difficulty in these matters in meeting everybody's objections. We have done the best we can, and what I want to impress on my hon. Friends is that, the decision having been taken, it is not now possible to alter it.
My right hon. Friend is strictly limited in the power which he possesses. Machinery has been provided by Parliament to deal with grievances, and I would impress on the House that it is for the aggrieved persons to decide when and how they will use that machinery. I hope that hon. Members will not consider it necessary to oppose the whole Bill because they object to certain Clauses in it. They will have drawn the attention of the board to the real anxiety which is felt on some of these matters. I want again to draw the attention of the House to the fact that no objectors took the opportunity of opposing the extension in the Committee, and that there is a further opportunity in another place for them to do so if they desire. This Bill contains much that is useful for the betterment of the London Transport system, and I hope, therefore, that hon. Members will not find it necessary to divide against it.
§ Mr. Bossom
May I ask whether it is the case that the board will have the right totally to ignore the question of town planning and the preservation of amenities in the extensions?
§ Captain Hudson
This point can be dealt with by the Committee in another place as it could have beep before.
§ Captain Hudson
The question I was asked was whether the board would totally ignore the question of planning?
§ Captain Hudson
I am answering without notice, but my view is that, if these extensions had been opposed in Committee the whole question would have been considered, because I understand that the board offered to give its reasons for doing certain things, but the Committee said that, as there was no objection, there was no reason why they should do so. I think that in these circumstances one can safely assume that in another place, when this Bill is considered, all relevant facts will be brought under review.
§ 10.23 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Heneage
When a railway Bill is before the House there is generally an hon. Member who is a railway director who answers for the company. There is no one who can answer for the board. The Minister cannot do so and no member of the board can be a Member of the House. I suggest, therefore, that there should be some alternative and that a Member of the House should be appointed to answer for the board in the same way as a Member answers for the Ecclesiastical Commission. At present the position is not entirely satisfactory.
§ Question put, "That the word now ' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 134; Noes, 55.145
|Division No. 162.]||AYES.||[10.25 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J||Boulton, W. W.||Courthope, Col. Sir G. L.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Boyce, H. Leslie||Critchley, A.|
|Ammon, C. G.||Bracken, B.||Crooke, J. S.|
|Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.)||Brocklebank, G. E. R.||Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.|
|Apsley, Lord||Bromfield, W.||Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Campbell, Sir E. T.||Drewe, C.|
|Assheton, R.||Gary, R. A.||Eckersley, P. T.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Clarke, Lt.-Col. R. S. (E. Grinstead)||Elmley, Viscount|
|Balfour, G. (Hampstead)||Clydesdale, Marquess of||Emery, J. F.|
|Barr, J.||Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston)||Emmott, C. E. G. C.|
|Beamish, Roar-Admiral T. P. H.||Colman, N. C. D.||Errington, E.|
|Blair, Sir R.||Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.)||Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)|
|Fleming, E. L.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Remer, J. R.|
|Foot, D. M.||Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)||Riley, B.|
|Furness, S. N.||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G.||Ritson, J.|
|Fyfe, D. P. M.||Lathan, G.||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)|
|Gibson, R. (Greenock)||Leach, W.||Rothschild, J. A. de|
|Gluckstein, L. H.||Lookie, J. A.||Rowlands, G.|
|Goldie, N. B.||Lee, F.||Rowson, G.|
|Gower, Sir R. V.||Liddall, W. S.||Russell, A. West (Tynemouth)|
|Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)||Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J.||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)|
|Grant-Ferris, R.||Logan, D. G.||Salt, E. W.|
|Green, W. H. (Deptford)||McGhee, H. G.||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Magnay, T.||Simpson, F. B.|
|Grenfell, D. R.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Guest, Hon. I. (Brecon and Radnor)||Markham, S. F.||Somervell. Sir D. B. (Crewe)|
|Gunston, Capt. D. W.||Mathers, G.||Spens, W. P.|
|Guy, J. C. M.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)|
|Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||Tasker, Sir R. I.|
|Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Messer, F.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Harbord, A.||Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick)||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Harris, Sir P. A.||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)||Viant, S. P.|
|Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Wakefield, W. W.|
|Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Muff, G.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Heneage, Lleut.-Colonel A. P.||Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.|
|Herbert, A. P. (Oxford U.)||Nicolson, Hon. H. G.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Hills, Major Rt. Hon. J. W. (Ripon)||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. G. A.||Wedderburn, H. J. S.|
|Holdsworth, H.||Owen, Major G.||Wells, S. R.|
|Holmes, J. S.||Paling, W.||Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Hopkinson, A.||Peat, D. U.||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||Petherlck, M.||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)|
|Hume, Sir G. H.||Quibell, D. J. K.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|James, Wing-Commander A. W. H.||Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.|
|Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Ramsbotham, H.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Rathbone, Eleanor (English Univ's.)||Mr. Charleton and Mr. Crossley.|
|Jones, L. (Swansea W.)||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)|
|Adamson, W. M.||Garro Jones, G. M.||potts, J.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'kn'hd)||Gibbins, J.||pritt, D. N.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||salter, Dr. A. (Bormondsey|
|Balniel, Lord||Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Sexton, T. M.|
|Baley, J.||Hannah, I. C.||shepperson, sir E. W.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.)||Silverman, S. S.|
|Burke, W. A.||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Cape, T.||Johnston, Rt. Hon. T.||smith, E. (stoke)|
|Cocks, F. S.||Kirby, B. V.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Daggar, G.||Lawson, J. J.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)||Leslie, J. R.||Strickland, Oaptain W. F.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Lunn, W.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)||White, H. Graham|
|Ede, J. C.||McEntee, V. La T.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Nicholson, G. (Farnham)||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)||Noel-Baker, P. J.|
|Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||Oliver, G. H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Gallacher, W.||Parker, J.|
|Gardner, B. W.||Perkins, W. R. D.||Mr. Naylor and Mr. Kelly.|
Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill, as amended, considered accordingly; to be read the Third time.