HL Deb 11 March 1861 vol 161 cc1694-711

in rising to move an Instruction to the Select Committees upon Metropolitan Railways, said:—My Lords, the present hour and the present state of the House are not very encouraging for us to enter upon any lengthened discussion of a subject which possesses no particular attraction in itself, although it is of vital importance to a very large and helpless class of the population. I have adverted to the subject more than once, and I shall not now trespass long upon your Lordships' patience; but I have recently received some curious information which I think is worthy of your Lordships' attention as to the progress that has been made in increasing the density of population in London. I have had placed in my hands some statistics—with the details of which I shall not trouble your Lordships now as they will be printed in a few days—which show the comparative populations and number of houses in the City parishes, both within and without the walls in the years 1801 and 1851. Your Lordships will not perhaps be surprised to hear that the population of the City parishes was slightly smaller in 1851 than it was in 1801, there being a diminution of some 200 or 300 upon a total of 129,000 or 130,000. But it is remarkable that while the population had remained stationary the number of houses since 1801 had not only not increased, but had actually diminished to the extent of about 3,000; and, therefore, it appears that the same population which in 1801 inhabited 17,000 houses, were in 1851 crowded into 14,000 houses. There is something, too, which is rather curious when we look at the respective districts. In the parishes within the walls there has been the greatest decrease in the number of houses—2,776; but then there has been a corresponding diminution of population in those parishes to the extent of 19,000 souls. The result is that the average number of inhabitants of each house within the walls is the same in 1851 as it was in 1801—namely, 7½ to each house; but in the City parishes without the walls, to which the poor have been driven by improvements effected in the Metropolis, I find that the houses have decreased in number about 300, while the population has increased by 19,000. Thus, while the proportion of inhabitants to each house in the inner parishes is 7½ as it was in 1801, in the outer parishes it has increased to 9 and 6–7ths in each house. The figures which I have now quoted have reference to the year 1851; but your Lordships will be perfectly aware that since then great improvements—and great improvements they undoubtedly are—have been going on in the City, the result of which has been to displace a very large number of the inhabitants. In a pamphlet published by Mr. Charles Pearson, the City Solicitor, referring to the immense improvements which have taken place in Cannon Street, Victoria Street, and elsewhere, it is stated— The noble street improvements undertaken by the Corporation have swept and are about to sweep away thousands of industrious artizans and mechanics from their humble dwellings, to make way for the spacious streets and splendid warehouses destined in this age of progress to take their place. To supply the lack of dwellings which these clearances make, the Corporation have recently voted a large sum to purchase land and erect lodging-houses in the neighbourhood of Victoria Street. That was a most laudable step on the part of the Corporation; I do not know whether it was taken spontaneously, or whether it was the condition on which they obtained the power of executing these great improvements. I hope it was the former; but, however good may have been their intentions, they certainly have not been fulfilled, and I am afraid great apprehensions are entertained that these projected works will never be executed—at all events on the site originally intended. On Thursday last an official report was made to the Common Council of all the lands belonging to the Corporation which were vacant for building purposes, and after enumerating various sites in Copenhagen Fields and elsewhere the report went on to say— There are also several sites vacant, under the control of the Corporation of London, outside the City—namely, on the east and west sides of Victoria Street, the west side of Saffron Hill, Turn-mill Street, &c. That is the particular site where these lodging-houses were to be erected to make provision for those who were ejected by the City improvements.

It should, however, be noted that all that portion of the ground which is situate on the east side of Victoria Street and the west side of Turnmill Street, has been agreed to be sold to the Metropolitan Railway Company for the sum of £179,000, with interest at the rate of 5 per cent. Not only is the Metropolitan Railway Company about to compete for this ground; but the Metropolitan Extension Company, in its course of half a mile, has served with notice half the population, and marked off half the houses in the parish through which it runs. Your Lordships will observe that it is not only those who are displaced by the railway that have to be considered, but every work of that character necessarily brings with it a large number of employés, who, from the nature of their avocations, are obliged to reside on the spot; and these compete with the displaced population in the neighbouring districts, which are already crowded, and conse- quently raise the price of houses and increase the difficulty of procuring lodgings. It was the consideration of these circumstances which led my noble Friend, the Earl of Shaftesbury, to propose a Standing Order on a former occasion. I have heard from him to-day, expressing his regret that he cannot be present, and his sanguine hope that no effective opposition will be offered to the proposal which I am about to submit. The Standing Order proposed by my noble Friend had reference not only to railways, but to all works of improvement, the character and condition of which were to displace a large portion of the population. He proposed that in all these cases it should be a Standing Order that the case of all Bills proposing the construction of railways and other works, the execution of which necessitated the displacement of a portion of the population, the persons who sought to carry out these improvements should provide residential accommodation equivalent to the number of persons who would be displaced by them. When that proposal came to be discussed it was evident that the application of a general rule of that description would in practice be impossible. But the principle that in deciding whether a particular undertaking should or should not be sanctioned inquiry ought to be made into the circumstances, and whether the promoters were fairly chargeable with the cost of providing residences for those displaced by the improvements, was deliberately affirmed by every one who spoke in that debate, and by none more forcibly than my noble Friend the Chairman of Committees. Since I last addressed the House I looked back at the language used by my noble Friend, and I find it was as follows:— It might be right in the case of certain Bills for internal improvements, and even in some railway Bills, that there should be some such provision introduced as the noble Earl proposed; but that was a very different thing from passing a Standing Order, making a provision of this kind compulsory in all cases where property of this kind was taken. … Admitting that it might be desirable to introduce a clause embodying the principle of this proposition into particular Bills, he yet thought the laying down of an inflexible Standing Order on the subject to he of universal application to all Bills for improvement." [3 Hansard, cxxv. 410.] My noble Friend, I will venture to say, had the entire concurrence of those who heard him, both in the principle which he laid down and in the exception which he took. On that occasion I took the same view as my noble Friend; but I suggested that some general instructions might be framed by which information in each particular case should be given to the House of the proposed amount of displacement attending every improvement Bill of this description. The late Earl of Aberdeen was at that time First Lord of the Treasury, and he suggested that a Committee should be appointed relative to the subject. A Committee was accordingly appointed to inquire into the question, and their labours resulted in the following Standing Order:— That before the First Reading of any Bill for making any Work, in the Construction of which compulsory Power is sought to take Thirty Houses or more inhabited by the Labouring Classes in any One Parish or Place, the Promoters shall be required to deposit in the Office of the Clerk of the Parliaments, a Statement of the Number, Description and Situation of the said Houses, the Number (so far as can be estimated) of Persons to be displaced, and whether any and what Provision is made in the Bill for remedying the Inconvenience likely to arise from such Displacement. The object with which that Standing Order was drawn up could only have been that in case, from the circumstances set forth, it should appear to the Committee desirable to insert clauses for the purpose of meeting the inconvenience created by the particular Bill, they should have the power of doing so. But, according to the statement made the other night by my noble Friend, it would appear that Committees were not to examine into the accuracy of the returns made by the railway companies, or to express their opinion with reference to it. If that be the case, then this Standing Order is nothing but a nullity; and it is impossible that such could have been the intention with which it was introduced and agreed to. Lord Shaftesbury used these words— This Resolution would go far to remove the general complaint that was now made; and he had to express his thanks to the noble Lord, the Chairman of Committees, for the great service he had rendered in the framing of the Resolution. If he might judge by the letters he had received from Mr. Cubitt and others, he was satisfied that by adopting this Resolution their Lordships had gone far towards instituting the best relations between capital and labour that were capable of being made in relation to this subject." [3 Hansard, cxxvi. 1292.] It was clearly the intention of my noble Friend and of the House that this Report should not be a mere dead letter, more especially because the class that would chiefly suffer have no locus standi, and in nine cases out of ten it would be absolutely impossible for them to come before a Committee. A. B. might have no legitimate ground of complaint, being a weekly tenant, if he were turned out on account of railway operations or by the voluntary act of his landlord; but when 8,000 or 9,000 persons are simultaneously turned out by the passing of a particular measure it is no longer a case of individual hardship, but becomes a social grievance and of political importance. And it is in that light, and not with reference to the individual case, that I think it important your Lordships should lay down some rule by which, in every instance where improvements are contemplated, it will be the duty of the Committee to inquire into the accuracy of the facts stated, and to see whether there may not be considerations connected with the displacement of a large portion of the population which may not counterbalance the advantage to be derived from the projected improvements. I will take another illustration. The North London proposes a branch from the North Western, running direct to Threadneedle Street through the heart of the City, and reducing the present circuitous route of five or six miles to two and a half. I have been told within the last twenty-four hours by a Member of the other House, a Gentleman with whom I have only the slightest acquaintance, but who takes a deep interest in the subject, and has examined this line of railway, that with one slight exception it will pass in its entire length of two and a half miles through a dense mass of habitations of the industrious classes, and those not of the poorest, but of a decent and respectable character, and will displace according to one calculation 480; to another 800, and to another no less than 1,200 houses. I ask whether the displacement of such a large number of houses is not a fit subject to be considered in Committee, and whether the removal of such a large number of persons may not counterbalance the advantage to the gentlemen on the north side of London of being brought in ten minutes' less time to the Bank of England. I believe that the number of houses which it is stated will probably be taken by that railway is 487, and by some extraordinary calculation it is made out that the average number of inhabitants is only two to each house. These are respectable houses of a decent class. In the City generally the number of inhabitants to each house varies from seven and a half to ten; but yet we are told that here is a line of houses of this class, the average number of inhabitants in which is only two to each house. That is a subject which would legitimately come within the bounds of investigation by a Committee. It was suggested a few evenings ago by the noble Duke opposite the (Duke of Somerset), that no Instruction is necessary, because it is competent to Committees to inquire into these circumstances, and, he seemed to think, to require provision to be made in the outskirts of a sufficient number of houses, and also the running of frequent and cheap trains to bring the people to their labour. I will not discuss the merits of that proposition. It has some advantages, and, I believe, would be found to have some inconveniences; but the question as to whether such a matter comes within the purview of a Committee is one upon which there seems to be a difference of opinion between the noble Duke and my noble Friend the Chairman of Committees, because I understood my noble Friend to say that, although the railway companies are bound to lay this paper on the table, a Committee cannot without an Instruction enter into the discussion of, or report to your Lordships upon, the circumstances of any particular case. If Committees have power to inquire into the circumstances and to recommend a remedy, I want nothing more. But, if they cannot do so, it becomes necessary that an Instruction should be given to the Committees which are now entering upon the consideration of an extensive system of internal railways; otherwise the Standing Order which you have laid down as the remedy against so great an evil as the simultaneous displacement of great bodies of the working and industrious classes becomes a nullity—it is a mere form, and nothing more. If, therefore, my noble Friend is right, I confidently and earnestly press your Lordships to sanction an Instruction to these particular Committees to inquire into this subject. The noble Earl concluded by moving— That it be an Instruction to the Select Committees on the Metropolitan Railways, now sitting, to inquire into and report upon the Number of Houses and of Inhabitants likely to be removed by the Works of the respective Railways; and whether any Provision has been made, or is required to be made, for diminishing the Evils consequent on a large simultaneous Displacement of the labouring Population.


said, that the entrance of railways into the heart of London was not altogether so disadvantageous to the displaced classes as his noble Friend seemed to suppose. He had that day been informed by Mr. C. Pearson that he had made agreements with three of the largest Companies to convey 1,000 passengers per day from a distance not exceeding ten miles to London and back for 2d. each; and he had also found persons who had guaranteed to the railway companies the amount which would be required in case the speculation did not succeed. He hardly saw how the desire of his noble Friend was to be realized, because if the Committees were simply to make reports upon this subject, those reports might become as completely dead letters as was the Standing Order. He was afraid that they might, by adopting this instruction, give rise to a notion that this particular social question could be settled by legislation; a notion which, if it became prevalent, would, in his opinion, lead to much disappointment. He was also anxious that their Lordships should do nothing which would at all counteract the great commercial en-terprizes of this country; because by doing so they might diminish the demand, and thus deprive those very persons whom they desired to serve of that which was absolutely necessaryd to their very existence.


said, that this question should be taken up as a general question, and not with reference to railways only. There were only two schemes for the extension of railways into the Metropolis now before their Lordships, the carrying out of which would lead to the demolition of 100 houses or upwards. He held that the diminution of accommodation for the working classes was due, not to the railways, but to altogether different causes, such as the increase of population, and the substitution of warehouses for dwelling-houses; and if their Lordships endeavoured to obstruct the unavoidable displacement of small houses by large ones, they would be interfering in a most undue manner with the expansion of this great city, of which they saw such great evidences around them, and which was occasioned by the increasing wealth of the inhabitants. The comparison of the decrease of inhabited houses in the City between 1801 and 1861 proved nothing, as it was not till within very recent years that the railways began to penetrate the populous districts of the Metropolis. Indeed, thirty years ago, scarcely a rail- way existed in the Metropolis. When the South Western Company extended its line from Vauxhall to Waterloo Bridge no complaint was made. The question their Lordships had now to decide was not merely whether the instruction proposed by the noble Earl should be given in these individual cases, but whether they were prepared to prohibit any further extension of railway communication in the Metropolis. That was what it amounted to. Were they prepared to deny to the vast suburban population which had settled along the various lines quick and ready access to London, and to put a stop to scheme?, the effect of which would be to facilitate commercial operations, and relieve the streets from the enormous traffic with which they were now overcharged? The proper remedy for the displacement of the labouring classes was to provide easy access and cheap trains to houses suited for them in the outskirts of the City. There were at present a great number of clerks and shopmen who resided in the suburbs and daily came to town by railway to pursue their avocations. The change from the densely crowded unwholesome streets of central London to the open, healthy suburbs could not fail to be beneficial to the working people; and, so far from metropolitan railways inflicting injury by this displacement of the miserable and wretched property through which it ran, they really conferred a benefit both on the labourer whom it forced to migrate to a healthier neighbourhood and to the Metropolis itself. As to the number of houses destroyed by the new lines, that could readily be ascertained by reference to the plans and sections deposited in the Private Bill Office. He hoped these considerations would weigh with the Government.


could not admit that the effect of the Resolution would be to stop the formation of railways in the Metropolis. He was sure the noble Earl entertained no such intention. All that he desired was that the Committee should direct their attention to the question of making some provision for the displacement of the working classes, whether by cheap conveyance to the suburbs or otherwise, in order that if they saw any practical remedy they might make it a condition of the undertaking, instead of leaving it to the freewill of the company. He (Lord Redesdale), however, doubted very much whether, if the Motion of the noble Earl was carried, and an Instruction to the Committee agreed to it would result in much good, though it might perhaps induce the companies to make some concession in respect to cheap trains which they might other wise not do. He held precisely the same objections as formerly to dealing with the subject in a general way. He thought each case should be disposed of by itself, for there were many different circumstances connected with each line of railway which would have to be considered. In the case of metropolitan improvements provision could be readily made for the displaced population, because a certain portion of the new streets might be set apart ns dwellings for the working classes. In the case of railways there was greater difficulty in doing this. In some instances, however, the railways interfered very slightly with house accommodation. The Charing Cross and City Terminus Railway, for example, traversed a district covered with warehouses, wharfs, and other buildings of that sort, and not with streets of dwelling houses. He approved the suggestion which had been made that accommodation should be found in the large terminal stations for the people employed there. At present the Standing Order did not produce much benefit, because no persons appeared before Committees to press upon them the necessity of providing for the displaced population. He thought it was very likely that this Instruction would not result in much good, if, as was probable, the Committees thought that the importance of the railways justified the displacement of this largo body of persons, and that the convenience in one way more than compensated for the injury inflicted in the other. It must be recollected that the running of cheap trains could only be secured from the companies before the House. They might force the Charing Cross Railway, for example, to carry persons at a very cheap rate from Cannon Street to Charing Cross, but there would be a difficulty in making the South Eastern Company carry them at the same rate out of the Metropolis. The question, however, was full of difficulties, and each case must be dwelt with on its own particular merits. The fact was that the claims of these poor people were never brought before the Committees at all, and if a question was asked the companies said that they were not prepared to build houses for them, that their money was appropriated to other purposes, and their circumstances were such that they could not become great building spe- culators. He could not suppose that the returns were strictly accurate. He believed that it was even admitted by the railway companies that they enumerated only those inhabitants whom they supposed properly to belong to the labouring classes. If inquiry were made before the Standing Orders Committee probably the companies would be more correct in making future returns. He thought it a very good opportunity for inquiring into the subject, and if by the introduction of provisions into these Bills a remedy, however slight, could be devised, something would be gained; but he believed it would be found impossible to do anything to meet the evil of a large simultaneous displacement of the labouring classes except in a very slight degree. At the same time, even if no remedy at all could be found, he thought inquiry would tend to promote contentment.


My Lords, I do not think my noble Friend the Chairman of Committees has helped the Motion very much by what he has stated. I admit the evils that exist in regard to the displacement of labourers by public improvements. Since the last discussion I have received several communications, and the result has very much confirmed the view which my noble Friend behind me ventured to state to your Lordships. One communication is from Mr. Harvey, the Commissioner of the City Police, in which he states that the married sergeants of the force find great difficulty in getting proper lodgings, and that he has proposed that the City of London should build houses for them. That is a very proper mode of dealing with the subject, and I hope that to a certain extent it will meet the evil. I stated the other day that there was great difficulty in getting speculators to build houses for the poorer classes, on account of the small rate of interest; but although the facts which I then stated are correct, the information which I have since received gives me better-hopes of something being accomplished in that way. I am told that one charitable lady has provided accommodation for 94 families, and that instead of being a loss they return about 3 per cent on the outlay; and that Mr. Greenhill has also succeeded in providing accommodation for the labouring classes with great pecuniary success. No doubt, there is a great displacement of these classes, but with regard to the evil being so much aggravated by the railways, I have received a letter which I shall take the liberty of reading, because it applies to the particular district to which the noble Earl has again alluded to-day. It is dated— Vicarage, Cripplegate, March 7. My LORD,—You—will be aware that some few days since a petition was presented by Lord Derby to the House of Lords from the incumbent of St. Bartholomew, a district of this parish of Cripplegate, deprecating the passage through that parish of a proposed branch of the Metropolitan Railway. Myself and my churchwardens, together with all the chief inhabitants of any influence in the parish, take a precisely opposite view to that which was thus and then represented, and consider that it is only by the adoption of some such means as that of the passage of a railway that the vice and wretchedness which prevail in the dwellings of the poor in parts like these are likely to be obviated, and those sanitary regulations established which are as essential to morals and religion as they are to health and decency. We further consider that any difficulty to which the poor would be called on to submit in finding appropriate and convenient dwellings elsewhere—a difficulty, however, which we believe to be far more imaginary than real—is worth infinitely less regard than the removal of the physical and moral evils which of necessity arise to the classes in question from their present degading and corrupting mode of daily existence. We have, therefore, prepared and signed the accompanying petition, which we venture to beg of your Lordship the favour of presenting to the House of Lords in our name, with such remark thereupon as your Lordship may think proper to offer. P. P. GILBERT, M.A., Vicar of St. Giles's, Cripplegate, (Signed for myself and Churchwardens). With regard to the particular Motion of the noble Earl, if it is to come to nothing, as the Chairman of Committees intimates it is likely to do, I do not think I have any great objection to it. But it is throwing a certain responsibility upon these Committees which we ought not to cast upon them unless it is to lead to some good. I confess that I do not think the Committees are likely to imagine a remedy which has failed to suggest itself to the noble Earl (the Earl of Shaftesbury), who has devoted his attention for years to the subject, to the noble Earl who has moved this Instruction, and to the Chairman of Committees, whose pleasure it has been to take the subject into consideration. It appears to me that there are only three remedies. One is to force the railway companies to build a corresponding number of houses in another part of the town. The noble Earl, however, has stated the objection to railway companies undertaking duties which do not properly belong to them. Besides, that remedy would not meet the cases of individual hardship, which, after all, is the gist of the matter, because the larger—the social—question must be left to settle itself. The noble Earl has rather exaggerated in saying that 6,000 persons will be displaced at one moment. I think that practically that cannot be the case. The works of these railways must take some time, and the displacement of these persons must be a gradual operation. Another remedy which I think most useful is to require cheap trains to carry artizans from healthy dwellings in the suburbs to the scene of their work, and this we are told is being-carried out by agreement with the City authorities. But, at all events, it may be provided by the introduction of well-guarded clauses into these Bills. The third remedy-is to suspend these great works of metropolitan improvement, and that, for every reason, I strongly deprecate. I am in the habit of travelling on the continent, and. without referring to Paris, as quite out of the question, but taking Vienna, Madrid, Berlin, Munich, and a host of other places, I must say there is no capital of any pretensions whatever where metropolitan improvements have not been more rapid and efficient than in this, the capital of one of the richest and most emergetic nations in the world. I certainly should deeply deplore if these great works of improvement —these helps to commerce and industry— were suspended, and there is a little danger of that by the Instruction now moved. It is quite clear from the Standing Order of Lord Shaftesbury that it is competent for the Committees to enter into this question. It is clear that by this discussion and by the able statements of the noble Earl, this subject will be fresh in the minds of the Members of those Committees; but I should sincerely and earnestly deprecate this Motion if the Committees, feeling at a loss to suggest a remedy, should take the extreme view and altogether suspend these great improvements. If it is clearly understood that this Instruction is not in any degree whatever to operate on the minds of the Committees towards wishing to suspend these Bills, I cannot see any great objection to it, although I think it is superfluous, and not likely to do good. But unless it is clearly stated by the noble Ear], and borne in mind by those who form the Committees, that such is not to be the effect, however reluctant I feel to deal with a suggestion on philanthropic grounds of the noble Earl, I shall feel bound to object to the Instruction being given.


thought that the Instruction would only have the effect of carrying out a little further that which was now a Standing Order of their Lordships' House. He was himself Chairman of one of the Committees, and he did not wish to have any additional labour thrown upon him. At present, he believed the railway companies were not sufficiently accurate in the returns of displacements which they gave in, and the enactment of this Instruction would make them more particular. It did not require that the Committee should say what should be done, but merely to report whether anything had been done or ought to be done. He could see no objection to agreeing to an Instruction to that effect.


said, that all would acknowledge the careful manner in which the Select Committee of their Lordships' House discharged their duties, but he thought that the question committed to them by the adoption of this Instruction was much too important to be decided by a single Committee. They were, in fact, to say whether the importance of a railway or any other scheme was overbalanced or not by the inconvenience of the displacement which the carrying out of it would create. But why should the Instruction be limited to railways, or, if it were restricted to railways, why to metropolitan railways? On what principle would their Lordships say that the poor of London should he protected while the poor of Birmingham, Manchester, and other large towns should be unprotected? If their Lordships adopted the Instruction he should move to extend it to all improvement Bills without distinction.


said, he did not think that there was any great difference of opinion among their Lordships as to what ought to be done. As far as he had heard, it did not seem to have entered into any noble Lord's head to suspend the Bills at present going on. He believed that these metropolitan railways were among the most important improvements which could he proposed. They would go a long way towards solving the great difficulty of the dwellings of the poor which had been so much discussed lately, and if properly executed would be of great general advantage. On the other hand, it could not he disputed that considerable inconvenience might arise while the work was going on from the demolition of houses, and it could not but be desirable that when Committees were considering these Bills they should also consider whether means could not be devised for preventing these inconveniences. An Instruction of this sort would call the attention of Parliament more pointedly to the subject. No doubt, railway companies were becoming more aware that it was for their own convenience to give large facilities to the working classes; but he doubted whether their attention had hitherto been called very seriously to the subject, and it would probably be very desirable that in each Bill security should be taken that trains for their convenience should be run. It was only that very day that the traffic manager of the South Eastern Railway, in course of his examination before a Select Committee, stated that his directors had made every provision for the convenience of the working classes. Upon this he (Earl Grey) asked whether any train arrived in town early enough to allow men to go to their work by it. The answer was that the first train arrived at half-past seven o'clock. The effect of the Instruction, if adopted, would be to direct the attention of railway companies to the propriety, if possible, of making arrangements for bringing working people from the suburbs at such an hour as would enable them to go to their work at the docks and other places. His noble Friend (the Marquess of Clanricarde) asked why the Instruction was confined to the Metropolis. The answer was because the inconvenience here was tenfold greater than in provincial towns, where there was not the same difficulty in obtaining dwellings for the working classes. As to the formation of new roads they did not create the same inconvenience as the construction of railways. It would strengthen the hands of the Committee if such an Instruction were passed, and he did not believe that its effect would be to suspend any of the useful works which were now proposed.


understood then that the effect of the Instruction would he merely to enable the Committees to inquire and report without empowering them to suspend the operation of any Bill, or to propose as a condition of its passing that certain provisions should be introduced. Such a power would he most unjust to railway companies which had brought forward their Bills not knowing that any such provisions would he required, or that they would have to meet before the Committee any difficulties which might be started on the subject of suburban residences or early cheap trains for the working classes. The effect would be to prevent many of the improvements which their Lordships must all be most anxious to see carried into effect, and which had been described as most essential to the salubrity and the morals of the parishes through which these railways passed. Doubtless, the railway companies would make no difficulty in establishing cheap railway trains for the working classes, provided such trains were found necessary; hut, if even they should offer, as the Eastern Counties' Board had offered, to convey working men to and from town for 2d. a-day, the reduction from the day's wages would be so considerable that few, he feared, would avail themselves of this opportunity. He hoped the noble Earl (the Earl of Derby) would confirm the view just taken—namely, that the effect of the Instruction would only be to call more prominently to the attention of the Committees Lord Shaftesbury's Standing Order, and that it would not impose on the railway companies conditions which had never been required from them before, and which might force them to suspend the progress of their works. If this, and no more, were the effect of the Instruction, the Government would not object to it.


said, the reason why he confined the Motion to the case of railways, and of metropolitan railways, was, that he wished to limit it to cases which were immediately before the House. He had proposed the other day that a general Committee should be appointed and that a general inquiry should take place as to the effect of all works of improvement in connection with Lord Shaftesbury's Standing Order. To this it was objected that during the progress of this inquiry a number of other works which would necessarily come within the terms of that Order would be placed in difficulty, and that the promoters would not know whether to proceed with them or not. He therefore proposed an Instruction applicable not to railways in general, or to metropolitan railways only, but applicable to certain Bills now before the House, but with an intention to act upon the Resolution in future in respect of all railways and public works likely to be attended by the displacement of the poor. As to the power which he proposed to give to these Committees, it was one which they possessed in every case where the parties came before them, and the ground for the extension of this power was that here, from their peculiar position, the parties could not appear before the Committee, and could not state their own case. If a railway passed through one of their Lordship's estates, even although it inflicted no very serious injury, the person aggrieved might appear and state reasons why the line should be varied, or why another line pointed out should be preferred. He only asked their Lordships to give to the poor a right which the rich possessed already; namely, the right of stating their case before a Committee who might then judge whether provisions might not be introduced diminishing the evil of which they complained. The noble Lord who had just spoken asked that in no case should the Committee have power to suspend these works. Now, in 19 cases out of 20—he might almost say in 999 out of 1,000— such an idea could never enter the minds of the Committee, who would not think of negativing in consequence of this Instruction these or any other works which were referred to their consideration. He agreed that these railways in the main were of great advantage, and he had no wish to interfere with their progress; but he did wish, as far as possible, to reconcile that progress with the interests and the welfare of the inhabitants of the poor districts through which they passed. The Committee would have no power to reject the Bills, but they might insist on the introduction by the promoters of certain clauses for the purpose of diminishing the evils which would be occasioned by the prosecution of these works. This was the case at present with regard to every company. Of course, if the company said, "Rather than introduce the clause we will drop our Bill," that was a question for their own consideration; but if the Committee were not to have the power of insisting on the insertion of particular clauses there was no use in inquiring into the subject. Supposing any such clauses to be inserted, the promoters might appeal against them when the Bill came up for further consideration by their Lordships, or they might drop the Bill. He did not believe it was possible to lay down any rule on this subject, or to say that in every case the Bill should pass, however strongly the Committee might feel that the evils were great and the advantages problematical. In 999 cases out of 1,000, he repeated, there would probably be no question as to the suspension of these works. All he proposed was that the Committee should be empowered in this, as in every other instance, to require conditions for the purpose of remedying any evil which might be pointed out in connection with the displacement of population. He hoped that under these circumstances the Government would not oppose the Motion, especially as it appeared that the Committees were willing to undertake this inquiry.

Motion agreed to.

House adjourned at half-past Eight o'clock, till To-morrow, half-past Ten o'clock.