HL Deb 09 July 1839 vol 49 cc74-6

The Marquis of Salisbury moved the second reading of the London and Blackwell Commercial Railway Bill. He had heard, with great concern, that his noble Friend (the Duke of Wellington) had declared his intention to oppose the measure. In almost every instance, the statement of the petitioners against the bill was met with a direct negative by the promoters of the measure, who had testified their fairness in the proceeding by offering to pay the expenses of both parties, if the bill were referred to a Select Committee. He moved that the bill be read a second time.

The Duke of Wellington

said, he should take the sense of the House against the second reading of the bill, and he should do so solely on the ground, that the Act of Parliament which established the Black-wall Railway Company, had expressly and positively declared, that their operations should not extend further into the metropolis than the Minories. He moved, that the bill be read a second time that day six months

Lord Brougham

did not attach much importance to the argument used by the noble Duke, for it was manifest, that the Act of one Parliament could not tie up the hands of another. He objected to the motion of the noble Duke, because it tended to abrogate one of the most useful rules of their Lordships, according to which all private bills should be referred to a Select Committee. Then evidence as to disputed facts could be taken, and if the bill should be considered objectionable, it would always be in their Lordships' power to throw it out on the third reading.

Lord Ellenborough

agreed in principle with the noble and learned Lord, that every private bill should be sent to a Select Committee. He knew that the noble Duke proceeded on public grounds, but he viewed his proposition with the greater alarm, because it might hereafter be referred to as a precedent. The railway for which the bill on the Table was wanted, was not a railway on which it was proposed to work machines by means of steam; and he understood that the company were prepared to introduce a clause prohibiting the use of steam or locomotive machines on it. It was to be a railway on a viaduct, supported by arches; and along its side there was to be a pathway for foot passengers, so that it would add to the communications of the metropolis, instead of restricting them.

Lord Wharncliffe

said, he could well understand the opposition to the present bill, if it rested on the general ground, that no railway should be permitted to come into the heart of London; but if it were alleged that the bill ought not to pass, because it constituted a breach of contract, or would injure the property of individuals, these were reasons which might best be investigated before a Select Committee, and the bill ought not, on account of them, to be thrown out on the second reading. He reminded the House, that after the Committee reported, it would be open to any of their Lordships to move the rejection of the bill.

The Bishop of London

supported the amendment, precisely on the ground, that, under no circumstances, would he give his assent to bringing a railway into the heart of the metropolis. The proposed terminus of the Black wall Railway was equidistant from three churches, and the collection of many thousands of persons on a Sunday at this terminus, together with the noise of the carriages, would prove a serious interference with the decency of divine service. The corporation of London, the inhabitants of the parishes, as well as the clergy, all prayed their Lordships not to agree to the second reading of the bill. For these reasons he should support the motion of the noble Duke.

Earl Fitzwilliam

thought, that their Lordships would act with extreme injustice to the company, if they did not allow the bill to go before a Select Committee.

Lord Ashburton

was anxious to state the reasons that would induce him to vote against the second reading of this bill. He objected to the bill, because the railway would come into the very heart of the metropolis, and if that were allowed in this case, there was no reason why the termini of other railroads, such as the Birmingham. should not also have the same permission, He further considered, that it was not merely particular parties who would be injured, but the whole neighbourhood would be affected by the railway, in consequence of the rattling of the carriages upon the arches, whether moved by steam or anything else, All railways should have their termini at the skirts of the metropolis; for otherwise a great general nuisance might be committed to persons in the city, although they might not be able to produce evidence of any specific injury.

The Earl of Falmouth

said, that after what he had heard, he had come to a very different conclusion from the noble and learned Lord opposite. His objection was, to bringing railways into the heart of the city of London; and certainly, after what the right rev. Prelate had stated, although he had entered the house quite ignorant of the subject, he could not feel the least hesitation in supporting the motion of the noble Duke.

The Earl of Wicklow

said, that he had heard no argument urged against this measure that would induce him to say, that it ought not to go before the Committee. He trusted that their Lordships would allow the second reading of the bill, and there would then be an opportunity of hearing all the strong arguments against the measure. He would admit, that the arguments stated tonight went very far against it, and if he were appointed a Member of the Committee, he should attend very closely to the proceedings.

The Marquess of Salisbury

said, he thought it rather late now to come to any other conclusion than that of supporting the bill. Three years ago their Lordships had passed a measure allowing a railway to have its terminus in Smithfield, so that it was very little argument against the present bill to complain of this railway coming into the heart of the city.

Their Lordships divided on the original motion, Contents 33; Not Contents 26: Majority 7.

Bill read a second time.

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