HL Deb 18 May 1863 vol 170 cc1804-17

Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a.


My Lords, I feel it my duty to ask your Lordships to defer the third reading of this Bill for six months. Although in delegating to Select Committees, the duty of taking evidence and reporting upon what are called private Bills, which are very often Bills of the greatest public importance, your Lordships are wont, as a general rule, to attach such weight to their decisions as practically to invest them with legislative power, I do not think that those decisions ought to be regarded as so conclusive, that when strong and sufficient reason is shown, they should not be reviewed. No five Members of your Lordships' House, however selected and however respectable, can be properly regarded as forming an infallible tribunal. Even the Judges of the land, fitted as they are by education, by learning, and by tried abilities for the judicial office, have, as your Lordships are well aware, their judgments often called into question, appealed from, and reversed. Is it, then, unreasonable to suppose that a Select Committee may form an erroneous judgment? Is it nut rather to be apprehended, that though acting with the best intentions, they may sometimes come to conclusions injurious to the public, from having before them only those who have their own interests to serve, and by whom reference is only made to the interests of the public so far as they may be subservient to their own? Is it not, in fact, manifest that such is often the case, when we consider how many ill-devised railway schemes, sanctioned by the Legislature on the sole recommendation of Select Committees, have involved individuals and public companies in ruinous expenses of no public advantage, and of times preventing the undertaking of works that would be of service? It certainly appears to me that you cannot, with due regard to the interests that may be involved, exclude, where reasonable grounds are shown for it, examination and review of the Report of a Committee upon a private Bill; and if this may be said in the case of an ordinary Railway Bill, how much more, when, as in the present case, the question arises with regard to a metropolitan railway, affecting the interests of the second capital of the empire, displacing thousands of its inhabitants, and disfiguring its most beautiful thoroughfares, and all for an object which, as I shall presently show, the Bill will not accomplish? Having attended very much to the proceedings of the Select Committee, and been present during the last day of the inquiry, I can truly say, that when I left the room after hearing the important evidence given, regarding an alternative line of railway, suggested as preferable to that before the Committee, and the speeches of counsel on the whole case, it was with the firm conviction that the Bill would not be allowed to proceed; great, therefore, was my astonishment when I afterwards heard that it had been favourably reported on. My surprise was, I believe, shared by every one acquainted with the cases, and it was I think, a significant circumstance, that when I rose to give notice of my opposition to the third reading of the Bill, notice was at the same time given by a noble Lord, not now in his place, of a Motion to have the evidence printed. I regret, that when last Friday that Motion came on, it was opposed by two such high authorities in this House as the noble President of the Council and the noble Lord the Chairman of Committees. The ground of their opposition, I must say, appeared to me very unconstitutional. It was, that the decision of the Select Committee should be implicitly and without examination accepted. Such advice, after what had been urged against the Bill, was an ignoring of the duty of the House to act on the best information within its reach; it was calculated to shake public confidence in the soundness of your decisions, and it must have the effect of depriving your Lordships, should you give a third reading to the Bill, of the power of doing so with that knowledge of its having any claim to acceptance which alone could command respect for such a vote in the face of the objections that have been urged against it. My noble Friend the Chairman of the Select Committee objected to the printing of the evidence on the ground of its being unnecessary, inasmuch as the whole proceedings of the Committee had been regularly reported in the Irish newspapers. I should have expected from my noble Friend the manifestation of greater readiness to have the proceedings of his Committee examined into, for he must be aware that your Lordships have no file of any Irish newspaper to refer to. But he is very correct in saying that the Irish journals had made full reports. The inference is that the public took a very deep interest in the inquiry, and it is very much from the perusal of those reports that so much consternation and indignant feeling has been awakened that such a Bill should have passed through a Committee of this House. Should it eventually become law, my noble Friend's name will be immortalized by it, for it is known in Ireland under the title of the Llanover Disfigurement Bill. I hope my noble Friend is not ambitious thus to connect his name with a great public work, but that be will rather consent to have the Bill, and any other scheme for carrying out those public objects which in the course of his inquiry he has ascertained to be desirable, referred to a Commission sitting in Dublin. It is not very long since your Lordships put a stop to the progress of several Metropolitan Railway Bills for London, and appointed a Committee of eighteen noble Lords, selected as the most capable of forming a correct judgment, to inquire and report in what, manner provision could best be made for "securing a comprehensive plan of metropolitan railway communication, with the greatest advantage to the public, and least inconvenience to the local arrangements of the metropolis." Yet even to these no power was given beyond that of inquiry and report. Why not do the same by the Irish metropolis? Is it reasonable or just, while you deal thus tenderly with the interests of London, which undoubtedly are important to the community at large, that you should ignore those of Dublin, not less important; and with regard to its architectural beauty much more highly prized by the whole Irish nation? I do not charge the noble Lords that composed the Select Committee with acting intentionally wrong. I believe, on the contrary, that they were animated by the desire of doing what was right, but they have committed a great error in reporting such a Bill to the House. I will trouble your Lordships with but a very brief statement of facts upon which I would move its rejection. The Bill as it was originally brought forward, and passed the Standing Orders, though unsupported by any portion of the Irish public, and especially disapproved of by the Corporation and citizens of Dublin, was founded on a principle the importance of which was established before the Committee, of uniting, by means of a metropolitan railway, with a central station, all the railways, five in number, having their termini in Dublin, whereby a through communication would be provided for passengers landing at Kingstown to every part of Ireland; but the Bill, as reported to your Lordships, provides only for the junction of two railways—namely, the Kingstown and Great Southern and Western, thereby limiting the advantages of a through communication to persons travelling to the districts opened by the latter railway, and cutting off from the benefit of such accommodation, and from any chance of ever obtaining it if this Bill should pass, the whole of Ireland North of Dublin and two-thirds of the West. The cause of this curtailment of the original undertaking was that the Board of Trade interposed in the interest of the Liffey navigation against the river being crossed in the manner proposed in the Bill. The Board very reasonably supposed, looking at the preamble of the Bill, that the crossing of the Liffey was an essential condition of the passing of the Bill, for their Report thus concludes— So far, therefore, as the interests of navigation are concerned, there would appear to be objections to the scheme. Whether there are advantages such as to outweigh these objections will be a question for the Committee. If, however, the Committee should decide upon allowing the bill to pass, it appears to my Lords that clauses should be inserted for securing the following objects, viz.:— 1. The bridge across the Liffey to be constructed upon such plans and with an opening span of such dimensions as the Board of Trade shall approve of. 2. The Board of Trade to be empowered to order a local survey of any works affecting tidal waters, and to remove any such works if abandoned. The clauses for these purposes which my Lords would recommend to be inserted, will have been furnished by the Board of Trade to the agents of the promoters before the Bill is considered in Committee. (Signed) JAMES BOOTH. The Committee appear not to have concurred in the views of the Board of Trade, for they decided upon passing the Bill without any such clauses as the Board recommended, and without its providing for what, by its preamble and title, it purported to effect—namely, the uniting of the different railways radiating from Dublin. Had the original scheme been adhered to, there is no doubt it would, though at the sacrifice of the architectural beauties of the city of Dublin, and otherwise in a manner open to much objection, have accomplished some important objects. It would have united by railway the north and south divisions of the town; it would have opened to the whole of the city, as well as the country, the extensive and growing trade of the port of Dublin, and it would have provided through communication from England with all parts of Ireland. As the Bill now is, the so-called Metropolitan Railway will be confined to the south side of the river, while the whole of the trade of Dublin, except in coals, is on the north side; and for the single purpose of effecting a junction between two railways, the most beautiful parts and most striking features of a metropolis of which Irishmen are justly proud will be irremediably disfigured, and thousands of the population displaced. This, my Lords, is the more to be regretted, as a scheme was suggested that would have accomplished all the objects to be looked for from a metropolitan railway by the construction of a line in great part subterranean, and that without injuring the appearance of the town, without any material interference with property and the habitations of the citizens, and presenting a most eligible site, in proximity to the General Post Office, for a metropolitan station. After such a scheme had been suggested and a survey submitted, in support of which the most eminent engineers were examined, I cannot acquit the Committee of having come to a very hasty and unfortunate conclusion in reporting for your adoption the very crude, imperfect, and mischievous measure projected in the Bill. Many objections of detail might be urged against the Bill, but I will not trespass upon your attention by noticing them. I must, however, advert to one circumstance in the proceedings of the Committee which appeared to me particularly unfortunate. It is, that when only one side had been heard, and even before the engineer of the proposed railway had been cross-examined, the Committee, through their Chairman, declared that they had made up their minds that the Metropolitan Railway Station should be on the south side of the Liffey. This, my Lords, was a prejudging of the whole question; and although the decision was, I am sure, announced with the best intention, it placed the opponents of the Bill in the difficult and hopeless position of having to contend against what looked like a foregone conclusion. Let me, in conclusion, entreat your Lordships to pause before you give your sanction to this Bill. It is due to the interests and feelings of the Irish people that great caution should be used in sanctioning a work of the kind proposed; and I believe that the interests as well of the promoters of it as of the public will best be served by its being postponed. I therefore beg to move that the third reading be deferred for six months.

Amendment moved, to leave out ("now") and insert ("this Day Six Months").


—My Lords, as Chairman of the Select Committee to whom the Bill was referred, I beg to assure your Lordships that we gave not only to the Bill referred to us, but to the other schemes put forward, the fullest and most careful consideration. It is now said that your Lordships ought to refer the whole matter to a Royal Commission. I confess that for my part I think that the experience we have had with respect to Royal Commissions in Ireland does not give me much encouragement to adopt that course. In the year 1860 a most important question was agitated in Dublin—namely, the supply of water to that city. Representations were made to the then Chief Secretary, Mr. Cardwell, to the effect that the issue of a Royal Commission would produce harmony on that disputed question. Accordingly, a Royal Commission was appointed; but what was the result? The Commissioner, the most eminent man in his profession, sent in his report, and a Bill to carry out the recommendations was prepared, but that Bill was vigorously contested. For more than a month it remained under the consideration of the House of Commons, but even then the opposition did not end, for it was hotly opposed before a Committee of your Lordships' House, and I can bear witness to that fact, as I was selected by your Lordships to be the Chairman of that Committee. It is said that we excluded evidence which was tendered in opposition to the Bill we are now discussing. This statement is so far correct that we excluded that on behalf of the Midland Railway Company, of which the noble Earl is an active director. I thought the Committee were right in deciding that this railway company had no locus standi. But wishing to be fully assured upon this point, and supposing that the question might be raised again in your Lordships' House, or elsewhere, we determined, before excluding the Midland Railway, to have the opinion thereon of the greatest authority in your Lordships' House, and I consulted with the Chairman of Committees; I am glad to say we were supported by that noble Lord. It has been objected also that the Bill was curtailed. That is quite true; the Bill was curtailed in consequence of the decision of the Admiralty and of the Board of Trade; and when my noble Friend says we did not concur with their opinions, he is in error: we did concur with them; we did not go into the whole Bill as originally drawn, but into the Bill as submitted to us, the branch across the Liffey having been withdrawn before our Committee sat; but any one of your Lordships might suppose from the observations of the noble Earl (the Earl of Clanearty) that he approved of the Bill in its original state. Not at all; the Midland Company, of which the noble Earl is a director, objected to it, though the noble Earl now says, that if the Bill passed in its original shape, it would have been all that was to be desired. The noble Earl objected to it in its entirety. Let us see the nature of the opposition offered to it. I will read to the House an extract from a speech made by Mr. Ennis at a meeting of the Midland Railway Company, on the 19th of March. Mr. Ennis said— It was because that line left the Midland Railway out of the running that he was opposed to it. Was it to be supposed, that if the line gave the Midland line the accommodation which it proposed to give to other lines, his company would be mad enough to oppose it? I may say we regard this scheme as a trunk line to connect the several lines running into Dublin, which made provision in the 39th and 40th clauses under which the Midland Company would have power to join this line and use the central station of the company, any differences between the two companies to be settled by the Board of Trade. It has been said, my Lords, that there was great opposition to this Bill from the citizens of Dublin; but we had from that city a petition in its favour, signed by 2,000 persons. One of the Members for the City came forward and said he was strongly against it, but admitted that his brother was as strongly in its favour. In fact, in reference to this as to all great works, there were opponents as well as supporters. But the real question is, will not this scheme be a great gain to Ireland and the United Kingdom, to have a through communication direct from England to Cork and Galway? We also took evidence with regard to the manner in which other lines might be made. Any noble Lord who has sat on railway Committees must know that engineers are in the same category as mad doctors on a lunacy question; one will say the patient is stark mad, and the other he is of sound mind. So with regard to engineers; one pronounces a scheme to be bad, the other declares it good. But in all the schemes of which I have had experience as Chairman of a Committee of either House, I never heard such evidence as the opponents of this Bill produced. In opposition to this scheme, which went right through the city, with good gradients, it was seriously proposed to put forward one which would run under the Liffey, with a gradient of one in fifty or one in sixty, then run horizontally, ascend the other side into open day, of a gradient again of one in forty, and take a circuit round the city; and in order to get those gradients, the engineer, with the example of the Thames Tunnel before us, said that we should run under the Liffey with two feet of soil between the navigable river and the crown of the arch, and eighteen inches, or two bricks of thickness, for the arch itself. I do not think any of your Lordships would venture into such a tunnel. From the evidence submitted to us we came to the conclusion to recommend your Lordships to pass this Bill, and I am sure your Lordships will see, from the clauses to which I have referred, that not only will the railway companies which are directly connected with it have access to it. But all other companies will have the power of joining and making use of the line, which will form the connecting link between Kingstown and the great ports on the southern and northern coast of Ireland.


supported the Bill, which would, he believed, be productive of great national advantages. If this line were made, in four hours and a half the Government could send troops from Kingstown to Queenstown.


said, that as a general rule it was better that the House should not reverse the decision of a Select Committee on a private Bill, because it was only fair, that when the House appointed five noble Lords to undertake the onerous duty of examining into a measure, that their decision should be supported. But this was altogether an exceptional case. Here was a scheme for traversing Dublin from end to end, crossing thirty-five streets, and stopping nine more altogether—and amongst the streets so to be crossed were two of the most important in Dublin—Westmoreland Street and D'Olier Street—and that by means of bridges only about fourteen feet from the level of the roadway. These streets were to be spanned by railway bridges, and at the end of Westmoreland Street, which he might call the Regent Street of Dublin, was situated the Bank of Ireland, which was considered the finest building in Dublin, perhaps in the United Kingdom; and if the bridge across this street were to be made, the view would be obstructed to any person standing on Carlisle Bridge. Now, as to the traffic; as his noble Friend had stated, the House had, as he (the Earl of Belmore) thought very properly, refused to go to the expense of having the evidence printed; but he had very carefully gone over it, as it was fully reported in the Dublin papers, as well as the speeches of the counsel and the remarks of the noble Chairman. The promoters proposed to have a central station close to Westmoreland Street. This was to be a high level station, to be reached by sixty steps, and, as he understood the evidence, would be a very inconvenient one, nearly as had as the present one at Westland Row. The promoters proved that there was at present a great amount of traffic passing through the streets of Dublin from the various railway termini, to be shipped at the quays. They admitted that the place at which by far the largest amount of shipments took place was from the North Wall, and he could not understand how the promoters could pretend to say that their scheme was to relieve the streets. The place of shipment was on the north side of the Liffey, and their station was to be on the south side, and above the navigation; so that all the cattle and all traffic they would bring from the South of Ireland would have to pass along Westmoreland Street, one of the most important, and Carlisle Bridge, one of the leading thoroughfares of Dublin, and so to the quays at the North Wall. But the greatest blot in this scheme was that it left the communication with the North of Ireland unprovided for. As the Bill was originally introduced, there was proposed to be a branch from the Central Station to what is called the Amiens Street Station, the terminus of the Northern lines; but this, in consequence of the opposition of the Admiralty and the Ballast Board, was withdrawn. There were three ways by which this communication might be effected—one, by the scheme already alluded to by the noble Lord opposite (Lord Llanover), and which was proposed to be accomplished by means of a tunnel under the Liffey; but this was one which he might say was quite out of the question, for it was proposed to go from the terminus on one side by a gradient of one in forty to a point seventy-two feet below the quays of a navigable river, and then to rise with the same gradient on the other side, which, in his opinion, would be a very dangerous scheme to sanction. Another plan that had been suggested was to form a communication with the Broadstone terminus of the Midland Railway, by means of a junction with what was called the Liffey branch. This was all very well, but the Midland Railway Company worked a system of railways which were competing for the traffic of certain districts with railways in the north of Ireland, which were in Dublin by means of the Drogheda terminus, and it was not natural that the Midland Railway Company should be willing to allow the Northern lines to have access to the central station by means of the powers secured to them (the Midland) of forming a junction with it. The only remaining plan for uniting the stations was by means of a high level line and a bridge across Sackville Street—a street which was considered to be one of the finest in Europe. A great deal of the traffic of Dublin was connected with trade, and the point of ship- ment for that was in Dublin. The passenger traffic went from Kingstown, but the goods and cattle traffic from the port of Dublin. There was one other point to which he wished to draw attention, one which had before been adverted to in that House. As the Bill was introduced originally, no less than 5,619 persons would, according to the Report of Mr. Reade, the Inspector of Lodging Houses under the Corporation of Dublin, he deprived of their homes; and as the Bill now stood, 2,846 persons, mostly of the labouring class, would be turned out of their houses; or, taking the population of Dublin at 200,000 persons, rather better than 1¼ per cent of that of the whole city. It was quite true that at the instance of the Committee a clause had been inserted to provide for a daily cheap train for the benefit of the labouring class, but unfortunately it did not appear where the train was to run from. And now, as to the remarks which had fallen from his noble Friend behind him with reference to the conduct of the Committee: he felt bound to say that in what was decided on by the Committee, and what fell from the noble Lord (Lord Llanover) there was nothing to be objected to. It was quite clear that the parties who were excluded from being heard had not locus standi. He begged their Lordships' pardon for having troubled them with these remarks, but he felt it to be his duty as an Irish Representative Peer, considering the national interests which were involved, to ask their Lordships to interfere to prevent an irreparable injury to the metropolis of that kingdom.


said, he wished to take this opportunity to point out to the noble Earl the President of the Council the fallacy of the argument used by him the other night, when he said that Dublin was not to be compared with London; in the same spirit he would say that the trade of Ireland was not to be regarded with the trade of England, and did not require such extraordinary lines as that proposed under this Bill. It was unjust to the citizens of Dublin to treat the measure as a mere ordinary railway Bill, more especially as the railway companies had not been allowed to appear before the Committee. But the Irish Government had taken no steps in the matter, though they had an impartial tribunal in the Board of Trade to advise them. He hoped that Dublin would be allowed to reap the benefit of the experience which Parliament had derived with respect to metropolitan railway schemes.


deprecated hasty legislation on this subject, and thought the inhabitants of Dublin should be allowed the penefit of the doubt before their Lordships passed the measure.


said, the objections to the Bill were now too late; they ought to have been urged on the Motion for the second reading, or before the Bill was referred to a Select Committee. The Committee heard evidence on the question of the disfigurement to the city, and had reported in favour of the Bill; and it was the safest course to abide by the decisions of that Committee. Under these circumstances, he thought it would be better to take the usual course and allow the Bill to proceed; and then the opponents of the Bill would have an opportunity of raising the same points in the other House, and there urge that the measure might be referred to a Select Committee.


said, more time should be given for the consideration of a Bill which interfered with so many streets and made such extensive changes.


My Lords, I confess that I never gave a more reluctant vote than that which I must give on the present question. On the one hand, I am of opinion that a much better plan might have been introduced. It is quite true that the objections which I have heard to the Bill I have heard from its opponents; but these objections carry with them considerable weight, and show to me that the Bill, in its present shape, is imperfect, and in many respects objectionable. According to the promoters, the line will cost £150,000 a mile; according to the opponents, it cannot be made for less than £250,000. Now, my Lords, if there was an actual necessity in the City of Dublin, as there is in the City of London, for through communication and a central station, I do not think the course taken the most advantageous one, for it will destroy valuable property, and this, too, by connecting the Dublin and Kingstown and the Great Southern and Western lines. Then I find that the majority of the inhabitants are opposed to the disfigurement of the city. There are great objections to the Bill. But, on the other hand, I am told that those very objections were weighed by the Select Committee, who were unanimous in their adoption of the Resolution at which they arrived. Your Lordships declined to allow the evidence to be printed; and as the Committee had the entire of that evidence before them on coming to the conclusion, and your Lordships have refused to have that evidence, it would be contrary to the ordinary practice of the House, and contrary to reason and justice, to set aside the verdict of the Committee. In deference to that practice, rather than in approval or support of the Bill, I shall be compelled reluctantly to vote for the third reading, if the noble Earl presses his Motion to a division.


had come to the same conclusion as the noble Earl. In voting for the third reading he did so without reference to the merits of the scheme, and simply because he believed that such a question could best be considered by a Select Committee. He would recommend the noble Earl not to go to a division, were it not that the last time he gave that advice he found himself in the minority.


said, he did not think the House should pass a measure so crude, so superficial, and so mischievous, and he should certainly take the opinion of the House.

On Question, That ("now") stand Part of the Motion? their Lordships divided:—Contents 65; Not-Contents 11: Majority 54.

Resolved in the Affirmative; Bill read 3a accordingly, and passed, and sent to the Commons.

Westbury, L. (L. Chancellor.) Strathallan, V.
Sydney, V.
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Durham, Bp.
Ailesbury, M. Oxford, Bp.
Bristol, M. St. Davids, Bp.
Salisbury, M.
Abercromby, L.
Airlie, E. Aveland, L.
Bandon, E. Belper, L. [Teller.]
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Cathcart, E. Blantyre, L.
Chichester, E. Bolton, L.
De Grey, E. Calthorpe, L.
Derby, E. Carew, L.
Devon, E. Chelmsford, L.
Granville, E. Churchill, L.
Grey, E. Churston, L.
Hardwicke, E. Cranworth, L.
Lonsdale, E. Dartrey, L. (L, Cremorne.)
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Stanhope, E. Foley, L.
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Verulam, E. Llanover, L. [Teller.]
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