HL Deb 11 March 1872 vol 209 cc1747-9

Message from the House of Commons of Friday last on the subject of, considered (according to order).


said, that he was sure their Lordships would feel that it would be much better that a general principle upon which they ought to act should be laid down once for all, rather than that there should be a discussion upon the merits of each particular scheme as it was brought forward.

Then it was moved, That a Select Committee be appointed to join with the Select Committee appointed by the House of Commons, as mentioned in the said Message, to inquire into the question of Metropolitan Tramways proposed to be sanctioned by Bills in the present Session, and to report: (1) Whether it is desirable or not that any fresh Tramways should be laid within the Metropolitan area; (2) What should be the limits of the Metropolitan area in respect of Tramways; (3) Under what authority the construction and working of Metropolitan Tramways, if any, should be placed; (4) Along what lines of streets, if any, Tramways should be allowed to be constructed, and under what restrictions.—(The Earl Cowper.)


said, he did not rise to oppose the Motion; he had told the noble Earl so, when he had been kind enough to come to him some days ago to know whether he had any objection to the appointment of the Joint Committee; but he must say that the noble Earl had scarcely made out a case for such a departure from the usual course. He thought it a dangerous precedent to affirm that in all matters of this kind a general principle should be laid down by a Joint Committee of both Houses. The precedent might be held to apply in the case of all new railways, and it might be said that all the Select Committee of each House had to do was to consider the details of the Bills coming before them. If, however, these Tramway Bills stood on a similar footing to that of the Metropolitan Railway Bills, which a few years ago were referred to a Joint Committee, he had no objection to the noble Earl's proposal; but if it was proposed to apply the Joint Committee system to all Railway Bills, he was opposed to it, because he thought there was a very great advantage in having a second tribunal in the case of Private Bills, where the one stood in the position of a Court of Appeal from the other, where any error that had been committed might be rectified. He had hoped that the noble Earl would have laid before the House somewhat more fully than he had done the reasons which had induced the Government to propose a Joint Committee in the case of the Metropolitan Tramways.


said, the present was, perhaps, scarcely a convenient opportunity for discussing the general question as to the advisability, or otherwise, of appointing Joint Committees of both Houses in the case of all Private Bills. He thought the metropolitan tramways stood in a very similar position to the metropolitan railways, which were referred some years ago to a Joint Committee; and from what came before a Committee, of which he was Chairman, and which sat last Session, he thought it was necessary that some general rules should be laid down. The complications that affected the question were such that some general principle should be laid down to regulate the whole. He thought that, without going into the question of appointing Joint Committees as a rule, their Lordships might be satisfied as to this particular case.


said, he thought the case of the Metropolitan Tramway Bills might be as well inquired into by an ordinary Select Committee as any other. At any rate it had been done already, and some tramway companies had already done what the Joint Committee was to inquire whether they should be allowed to do. In many streets tramways were already laid down, and many more had been authorized, and the Committee could in no way interfere with what Parliament had already sanctioned. He wished to know why the inquiries of the Joint Committee should be confined to London, when tramways had been or were about to be laid in many other towns? His own opinion was that tramways would be found to be a great nuisance; but the time for inquiry was passed. The Committee could not inquire into some of the points that were to be referred to them with any effect, and therefore he thought it was not likely to be of any particular use. He believed that the matter could be as well inquired into by a Committee of either House as by a Joint Committee.


observed that, unless the general rule to be laid down by the Joint Committee were to be binding on the Select Committee of the two Houses, the Joint Report would be useless.

Motion agreed to.

Then it was moved, That such Select Committee should consist of five Lords, three to be a quorum; agreed to; The Lords following were named of the Committee:

E. Airlie. L. Clinton.
E. Beauchamp. L. Silchester.
V. Eversley.

Ordered, That the said Select Committee have power to agree with the Select Committee appointed by the Commons in the appointment of a chairman: Then a Message was ordered to be sent to the House of Commons, in answer to their Message of Friday last, to inform them of the appointment of the said Select Committee by this House, and to propose to the House of Commons that the joint Committee do meet on Monday next at Three o'clock.