HL Deb 14 May 1860 vol 158 cc1189-92

presented a Petition praying that Measures may speedily be taken for establishing a Means of Communication between the Districts lying to the North and South of Hyde Park The noble Earl said that although the subject was of considerable importance, he felt he should be hardly justified in bringing it before their Lordships were it nut that unless the subject were laid before Parliament it would not receive the attention it deserved. The grievance of which the petitioners complained was, that the Park, from Park Lane on the east and Kensington Church on the west, lay like a barrier to any communication between the north and the south, except during the horns of daylight. It was not the first time that the question had been brought before Parliament, for in 1855 a Committee of the other House sat on Metropolitan communications, and reported favourably on the plan, placing it in the first class of Metropolitan communications which they recommended for adoption, Mr. Pennethorne, the architect, who gave evidence before the Committee, said that Hyde Park presented an impassable barrier between two important districts and enormous populations. And now, in view of the great increase that had taken place in the traffic on both sides of the Park, both north and south—in view of the establishment of the new Horticultural Museum, the Great Exhibition of 1862, and the daily increasing popularity of the South Kensington Museum—the improvement became still more imperative. The petitioners specially abstained from suggesting any particular plan, regarding that function as one properly belonging to the Governmental De- partment, which had charge of such matters. They were anxious, however, that, whatever was done, the sanctity of Rotten-row should be preserved, and that nothing should he done to interfere with that ride. Every plan that he had yet heard suggested included a tunnel under Rotten-row. It was, moreover, not desirable to make a public road in too close vicinity to Kensington Gardens.


thought something must be done soon to improve the communication throughout the Metropolis, or the transit of traffic would become impossible. He was a Member of the Committee to which the noble Earl had alluded on Metropolitan communications. Various plans were produced before them to make a communication from the north to the south of Hyde Park, which were perfectly feasible, without interfering with the road to which the noble Earl alluded. At the same time, he must say there was another communication quite as necessary through St. James's Park, so as to relieve the traffic by Charing Cross to Westminster Bridge. Lord Llanover, when at the head of the Board of Works, projected a road through the Park, which, if it had been adopted, would have obviated the difficulty. It might be carried into effect without interfering with the Gardens, and would greatly relieve the traffic, the extent of which it was almost impossible to exaggerate. Looking at the map, he must say the road through Hyde Park had become absolutely necessary; and he hoped the Board of Works would lose no time in carrying out the recommendation of the Committee of 1855.


said, that during the time he held the office of First Commissioner of Works, he necessarily gave great attention to the subject of the thoroughfares of the Metropolis, and he found that there was scarcely a main street that had a thoroughfare capable of allowing the constantly increasing traffic to pass without impediment. But though that inconvenience existed arid though it was most desirable that it should he obviated, still as Member for one of the Metropolitan boroughs, he had become aware of the great difficulties in the way of effecting any material improvement; and for this reason—the other House had declared that they would not grant money for Metropolitan improvements, and that any funds required for that purpose must be raised by means of local taxes levied on the Metropolis. Now, he thought, that would he a very fair prin- ciple if the Metropolis were on the same footing with the other large cities and towns of the kingdom. But the Metropolis was an exceptional case. In almost every other city in the empire there were some collateral advantages that accrued to the municipality of the particular city or borough; they had the power of raising rates by taxes on coal and other articles brought into their towns or ports. It was true that the same power existed in the Metropolis; but there was very small portion of it—the City—that alone had the power of levying these taxes, and having that power the civic authorities expended the large sums of money arising therefrom over the comparatively small area which constituted the City. Therefore, when any great improvement was to be made outside the City it was necessary to provide the funds by a local rate. There had been a great desire for many years to improve the southern end of Park Lane, but their Lordships would be surprised when he told thorn that to carry out that improvement—to take down the houses from Piccadilly to a house opposite Holderness House—would require nearly £100,000. Now, it was impossible to levy such a sum as this by local rates; and his opinion had long been, and still was, that when any reform of the Corporation of London took place it was absolutely necessary that the taxes now levied by the Corporation in the shape of coal and corn duties and other taxes should be expended for the benefit of the whole Metropolis, and not for the City alone. A Bill had been introduced into the other House of Parliament for the reform of the Corporation of Loudon, but he was not aware that it touched on the coal and corn dues levied by the Corporation. He hoped, however, that when it came up to their Lordships' House the suggestion he now made would not be forgotten by their Lordships. He was quite sure that if the large funds possessed by the Corporation—he did not speak of their private property, but of their power of taxation—were placed in the hands of some authority for the general benefit of the Metropolis and the public, the improvements becoming more urgently required from day to day might be speedily accomplished without any material addition to the local rates.


said, that if we had to wait until a new Board were constituted to administer the coal duties before we could have a communication from north to south through Hyde Park, he was afraid we should have to wait a very long time. But as he understood, the present question related not so much to Metropolitan communication generally as to the best mode of carrying out an improved communication through one of the Royal Parks. When certain improvements wore carried out in the neighbourhood of Kensington Palace, he thought the proposed improvement might have been effected had the road been made less of a private road, and with a little more expenditure of money.

Petition to lie on the Table,