HL Deb 23 May 1887 vol 315 cc820-2

House in Committee (according to Order].


, who had given Notice to move to disagree to the Amendments proposed by the Select Committee on the Bill, said, it was always a rather strong measure to attack the decision of a Committee of the House, particularly such a Committee as sat on this Bill. The Office of Works felt very strongly that it was most important to pass this Bill this Session, and he wished it to be distinctly understood that he in no way wished to say anything against the decision of the Committee, who, no doubt, had decided as they thought right from the evidence placed before them. He, however, made an appeal to the House and to the Members of the Select Committee to allow the Bill to pass on the ground of expediency. The Bill was introduced in 1883, 1884, and 1885. He merely mentioned this to show how long the question had been pending, how much difficulty there had been in dealing with it, and that it seemed to be quite time that some conclusion should be come to on what was, after all, a small matter. It was only necessary for him to say what had happened last Session and this Session. In 1886 the Bill was introduced into the House of Commons, but was altered in Committee, so that the cost of maintaining the roads was thrown on the parish of St. George's, Hanover Square, and the Metropolitan Board of Works in equal parts. When the Bill came to the House of Lords the Committee of this House rejected this proposal. The Bill was accordingly lost. This Session it was again introduced into the House of Commons in exactly the same form in which it left it last Session, and the Committee to which it was referred reversed the decision of last year, and made St. George's, Hanover Square, pay two-thirds of the cost and St. Martin-in-the-Fields one-third. When it came to the House of Lords they reversed last year's decision and altered the Bill, so that St. George's was to pay three-sixths, St. Martin's one-sixth, and the Metropolitan Board of Works two-sixths of the expense. Their Lordships would see that the decisions in each House of last year were exactly reversed this Session. This again showed the great difficulty there had been in coming to a conclusion, and the almost impossibility of coming to a more satisfactory settlement. St. George's had always been ready to pay half the cost; it was much more an improvement for the advantage of that parish than it could possibly be to St,. Martin's, and the extra cost thrown on St. George's was so small that he hoped that parish would be ready to pay what was asked of them, rather than allow the question to be hung up indefinitely. Taking a disinterested view of the question, it did not seem fair that a new precedent should be created for the Metropolitan Board of Works, or that parishes like Poplar and others in the Metropolitan area should be asked to maintain an improvement which was of no benefit to them. There was no parallel precedent that he knew of in the history of the Board of Works, except that of the Thames Embankment, where the Board kept the roadway up; but this was a very exceptional case. It was true that the Board paid some part of the cost of the maintenance of Westminster Bridge; but this was not a fair precedent, as the circumstances were different. Their Lordships would have noticed that the Metropolitan Members had met and decided to oppose the Amendments made in their Lordships' House. He supposed the Committee there would not go back from their decision under the circumstances. He, therefore, made a strong appeal to the House to let the Bill go back to the House of Commons as it came from there, and to the Members of the Committee not to press their views, so that the Bill might pass in the form which appeared to be the most acceptable solution of the question which at present had been proposed. His Lordship concluded by moving the rejection of the Amendments proposed.

Moved, "To disagree to the Amendments proposed by the Select Committee on the Bill."—(The Lord Henniker.)


said, that as Chairman of and as representing the Select Committee, they had cot to consider the question of expediency, but to endeavour to come to a decision on fair and equitable grounds. He did not wish to disregard the appeal made by the Government on the ground of expediency; and on that ground alone, in order that the Bill might be passed this Session and become law, the Committee did not propose to ask their Lordships to insist upon their Amendments.

Motion agreed to; Amendments negatived; Bill reported without Amendment, and to be read 3a on Thursday the 9th of June next.