HL Deb 15 May 1863 vol 170 cc1735-8

presented a Petition from sixty-seven of the clergy of the City of London and suburbs, signed, among others, by the Dean of St. Paul's and two Canons in residence, praying their Lordships to withhold their sanction from a Bill before Parliament, which, among other powers, authorized the construction of a railway viaduct across Ludgate Hill. The petitioners expressed their conviction that the inconvenience now felt of passing along that crowded thoroughfare would be greatly increased by such an erection, while the beauty of the western approach to the Cathedral of St. Paul's would be materially injured. He would remind their Lordships that the exterior view of St. Paul's was generally considered to be more beautiful than that of St. Peter's, for the reason that the view of St. Peter's was intercepted by the Portico, whereas the whole view of the front of St. Paul's was uninterrupted. But if the Bill referred to passed, this fine view would be destroyed by a barbarous and unsightly railway viaduct. No doubt, there was a proposal to make the structure ornamental; but the petitioners were of opinion that the very attempt to make it so would be all the more likely to destroy the beauty of the cathedral. The petitioners were most anxious that the whole subject should be thoroughly considered, and that their Lordships would not allow the great injury now threatened to the City of London and the metropolitan cathedral to be completed by either the railway company, to whom the powers for constructing the work were originally given, or any other company in their stead.


presented a Petition from 1,200 Bankers, Merchants, Tradesmen, and Residents of the City of London to the same effect, and suggesting the practicability of substituting a tunnel under Ludgate Hill in lieu of a viaduct over it. There were two Bills before the House which had relation to this subject—one to incorporate a Company for making a central station between Earl Street and Skinner Street, with junctions to connect it with the London, Chatham, and Dover line, on the one hand, and with the Metropolitan Railway on the other, and to transfer to the new Company certain powers already granted to the London, Chatham, and Dover Company, which included the formation of a viaduct across Ludgate Hill; the other Bill to extend the time within which the latter company were authorized to complete their works. The two Bills were reported on by the Board of Trade, and the President of the Council agreed with him that it would be desirable that both Bills should go into Committee, with the view of facilitating some arrangement by which the line might be carried, not over, but under Ludgate Hill. The compulsory powers of the London, Chatham, and Dover Company would expire on the 1st of August. The Bill for the central station had been withdrawn, and the only Bill now before Parliament was to extend the period within which the London, Chatham, and Dover Company should complete the works. The petitioners prayed that the Bill might not be allowed to pass, and that no further powers might be granted to any Company, until proper restrictions were imposed with respect to the means of crossing Ludgate Hill; and that their Lordships would consider in the Committee on the Bill the pos- sibility and the expediency of substituting a tunnel instead of a viaduct; and that if their Lordships should be of opinion that a tunnel would accomodate the traffic, the promoters should be compelled to apply for the necessary powers, or that the Bill should be rejected.


desired to remind their Lordships that the original Bill had passed both Houses of Parliament. He was informed that Members of the Committee of the House of Commons to which the Bill was referred, and two Members of the Committee of their Lordships' House, had gone to the spot to assure themselves that no obstruction to traffic or unsightly interference with the view of the Cathedral would be occasioned by the erection of the proposed viaduct. He wished to call the attention of their Lordships to the fact, that upon the faith of that Act of Parliament four millions of money had been already expended upon works upon the other side of the river, and that the funds for the metropolitan extension had been raised and the whole of the works arranged on the understanding that the line would be connected with the northern railways. This was a matter of the highest importance for the convenience of the public.


said, that the Bill for carrying out the scheme had been referred to a Select Committee which was to meet on Monday, and he did not see of what use it would be to take up their Lord ships' time by discussing the subject at present.


said, that having been appointed Chairman of the Select Committee, before the subject dropped he should like to know in what position the Committee would stand when it met on Monday. Of course, it would be highly irregular to express any opinion upon the merits of a Bill which was going before a Select Committee; but then the Committee ought to understand whether it was to enter upon its inquiry with its hands perfectly free, or whether it was to be fettered by any expression of opinion on the part of the House.


said, the promoters of the Bill sought to raise a large sum of money to make a new line. He imagined, from a statement made with reference to the Bill that had been withdrawn, that the Company did not intend to go on beyond Earl Street with their line, because they had not the funds for that purpose, and that they would be glad to have the exten- sion of the line further northwards taken up by another company. The Select Committee would probably find it difficult to do anything unless they had Instruction from the House as to what it desired to have done under the circumstances. They would, however, have the power of taking evidence, and they might then consider whether it was not necessary to apply to the House for some instructions in the matter. Considered in connection with the power already granted, this matter was one of serious importance; and it could not be disposed of in a conversation like the present. When the Committee had the parties before it, it would, perhaps, be better able to judge as to what could be done, and it might then be desirous of receiving some power or instruction from their Lordships. It might be expedient that the Bill should be adjourned. Certainly, the subject required very serious consideration from those who took an interest in it.

Petitions read, and Ordered to lie on the table.