§ House in Committee (according to order).
§ LORD BRABOURNE
said, he rose to propose the insertion of a new clause, the object of which was to protect Railway and Canal Companies in cases where speculative builders and others laid out new streets adjoining lines of railways or canals simply for the purpose of imposing upon the owners thereof the cost of half the street, although no access to the street could be made from the railway or canal. The proposed clause would not inflict any hardship upon owners of property, nor would it in any way affect the Local Authority or increase any expenses to be borne by the ratepayers. The only persons affected would be those who laid out streets alongside canals or railway embankments or cuttings; and they would know that if they did so they would have to bear the entire cost of the street from which they derived the sole benefit. It was submitted that the justice of the clause was obvious, because railways and canals were themselves a species of highway, and could derive no possible benefit from the construction of a street alongside of them; but, in case of circumstances hereafter changing so as to render the construction of a street a benefit to the Railway or Canal Com- 169 pany, the clause provided that in such a case the Railway or Canal Company should contribute, and their contribution should be divided among the then owners of the other lands charged with the construction of the street. It was also pointed out that the exemption only applied to such streets as were constructed alongside the actual lines of railway or canal, leaving the Companies in respect of their stations, depots, and other property in the same position as other landowners and liable to contribute towards the expenses of new streets.
Moved, to insert the following new Clause:—
No Railway or Canal Company shall be deemed to be an owner liable to be charged with the expenses of executing any private street works in respect of any land of such Company upon which any street as defined in this Act shall wholly or partially front or abut, and which shall be used by such Company solely as a part of their line of railway, or sidings, or canal, and shall have no direct communication with such street, and the expenses incurred by the Sanitary Authority under the powers of this Act, which but for this provision such Railway or Canal Company would be liable to pay, shall be repaid to the Sanitary Authority by the owners of the other premises liable to be charged with such expenses, and in such proportion as shall be settled by the Surveyor in accordance with and subject to the provisions of this Act. And in the event of the Railway or Canal Company subsequently making a communication with such street they shall, notwithstanding such repayment as last aforesaid, pay to the Sanitary Authority the expenses which, but for the foregoing provision, such Railway or Canal Company would, in the first instance, have been liable to pay, and the Sanitary Authority shall divide among the owners for the time being of the premises originally charged with the expenses aforesaid the amount so paid by such Railway or Canal Company to the Sanitary Authority in such proportion as shall be settled by the Surveyor. But this section shall not apply to any street as defined in this Act existing at the date of the passing of this Act."—(The Lord Brabourne,)
§ LORD SUDELEY (for the Local Government Board)
said, he must oppose the clause on the ground that it gave special exemption to Railway Companies. It was quite possible a clause somewhat similar to this had been inserted in various Private Acts; but this was done in private measures on account of various local considerations, and the practice did not at all serve as a precedent for a General Act. In some of these cases only an exemption from a proportion of the expenses, and not the whole, would 170 be all that could properly be claimed. There were also other cases beside those of railways and canals in which it would be proper for a ratepayer to be relieved, in whole or in part, from the payment of such expenses; and it would be unfair to confer an absolute exemption in one class and not in others. Further, the Bill already provided, by Clause 7, that the degree of benefit to be derived by the premises from the improvements should be taken into consideration in making the apportionment. That such an appeal would be available in all these cases would be made still clearer than at present by the Amendment which would be made in Section 4, by the omission of the parenthesis in Sub-clause (d). The proposed Amendment also provided that if the Company at any time made a communication with the street, they should then pay the sum they would have had to pay, and that such sum should be distributed among the owners for the time being of the premises originally charged. This would be a very unsatisfactory method of redressing the original injustice, for many of the owners at the time might not be the same as those who originally paid for the works. The insertion of the proposed clause would, therefore, be opposed. If the provisions mentioned for the protection of the frontagers who derived little or no benefit from the improvements should not be found sufficient in practice to remove the Railway Companies' grievances, it would be proper to amend those provisions; but probably they would be found to afford a sufficient remedy already.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
said, that if a new street was made in the neighbourhood of a railway, though it had no station there and might not stop there, he did not think that by reason of its neighbourhood it should be charged as being benefited by the street by its frontage. This Bill showed the inconvenience of dealing with complicated questions of local management at this period of the Session. Every precaution should be taken to see that private interests were not damaged.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (Lord HERSCHELL)
said, there were other cases besides railways and canals which stood in the same position. It was not fair to put railways and canals in an exceptionally favourable position as compared 171 with private owners. The 7th clause provided that in the rating the greater or less degree of benefit should be considered, and he thought this met the objection.
THE EARL OF JERSEY
said, the object of the Bill was not to rate the railways according to their frontage. If a street was made which would be of benefit to the railway, it was but fair that it should bear a part of the public burden, but not otherwise. The Bill provided opportunities for railway owners and others to have their case fairly settled before any work was begun. He hoped their Lordships would not accept the clause.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
said, he held that the 7th clause made the frontage the main consideration in the rating.
THE EARL OF JERSEY
said, the clause as it stood was not shown to be unjust, and he objected to having special clauses introduced unless good reason could be shown for inserting them.
§ On Question? Their Lordships divided:—Contents 82; Not-Contents 31: Majority 51.
§ House resumed.
THE EARL OF JERSEY
said, that after the decision to which their Lordships had come the promoters of the Bill desired to withdraw it.
§ Bill (by leave of the House) withdrawn.