§ Moved, "That the Order made on the 16th day of March last, 'That no Private Bill brought from the House of Commons shall be read a second time after the 27th day of Juno next,' be dispensed with, and that the Bill be now read 2a." —(The Chairman of Committees.)
§ VISCOUNT RIDLEY
My Lords, I rise, on the Motion for the Second Reading of this Bill, to move "That the Bill be read a second time this day three months." I may as well at once tell your Lordships that the provisions of the Bill to which I take exception refer only to one of the systems of tramways which are promoted. There are in this Bill, as I understand, three separate tramways, two of them entirely unobjectionable and not very important, and one of them very important and very objectionable. It is that proposal—the proposal to bring trams over Westminster Bridge down the Embankment and back again over Blackfriars Bridge—to which in its present shape I take exception, and on that ground I desire to move the rejection of the Bill.
I may remind your Lordships that this is no new question except in the sense that it is new in the shape in which it now comes up to your Lordships' House. Attempts have been made from time to time to bring trams over Westminster Bridge, and this House 998 and the Legislature generally has invariably taken the line of refusing to grant the necessary powers. I need not dwell upon the history of this Bill. Suffice it to say that in 1903 and 1904 the Bill was very heavily defeated in the Lower House, and this year it only succeeded in passing by a majority of one, the Speaker giving his casting vote. This is not a Government question, inasmuch as I think sixteen members of His Majesty's Government voted against the Bill in the other House. Not only did it only just succeed in getting through the House of Commons this year, but in the shape in which it now appears it is a totally different Bill from that which then passed the Lower House. I think I shall be able to show your Lordships that it proposes to take a course which will do no good to the public, which will be extremely inconvenient to a large section of the public, which will absolutely infringe the rights of a certain number of persons, and destroy the beauty of one of the prettiest parts of London without in any way improving the facilities for traffic which we all desire to see improved.
If you will allow me, I will take your Lordships round the course of this tramway for the short space of two miles. It is proposed to connect up the tramways at the southern end of Westminster Bridge and take the trams over the bridge. Have the promoters seriously considered the congestion of traffic that will be caused at that particular point by bringing these two tramways together, both of them running on a minute service, which will subsequently become a half-minute service? There is a constant and steady traffic crossing Westminster Bridge and turning to the left to Waterloo. A half-minute service of trams would greatly incommode that traffic. The tramway will then cross Westminster Bridge. How is it proposed that it should cross? It is proposed that it should cross within two feet nine inches of the pavement on the east side of the bridge, obviously making it impossible for any traffic to pass on that side, and every carriage crossing the bridge will have to pass over the lines of tramway before it can get to Waterloo. Moreover, there are a certain number of shops at the southern side of the bridge, and 999 it would be absolutely impossible for any carriage or wagon to stop in front of those premises, and the whole of the business of these tradesmen would be seriously incommoded, if not altogether stopped.
There is a Standing Order of your Lordships House, No. 13, which enacts that when any tramway is proposed to be run within nine feet six inches of the pavement, notice must be given of the intention to do so, not only in general, but also to every person the frontage of whose shop or dwelling is affected, not later than December 15th of the year preceding. That has not been, and could not have been, done in this case, because the particular provision which would necessitate this notice was inserted by the House of Commons Committee after the Bill had passed its Second Reading; but it is a great hardship that the people who have these shops and dwellings should be prevented by this technical fact from the possibility of raising their objections and presenting their case, which, under the Standing Orders of the House, they would have been able to do in the ordinary course of events. I understand also that should this Bill unfortunately pass its Second Beading, the Committee which will have to deal with it will sit on Friday. Well, how is it possible for these people to get up their case and present the aspects of it as it appears to them between now and next Friday?
As I have said, the tramway then crosses Westminster Bridge, to the great inconvenience of the travelling public, and goes down the Embankment. It is not long since the public spent £1,000,000 in beautifying that part of London. It is now proposed to run tramways down the Embankment on the river side, and the result will be to destroy the trees there and to gravely imperil the whole of the amenity of the, Embankment, And when the tramway gets to Black-friars Bridge it is proposed to run it over the bridge, causing, as I maintain, a block in the traffic there, in the same way as it would cause a block in the traffic on Westminster Bridge. These are the great inconveniences which this Bill would produce 1000 in the short course of a mile and a-half, or a little more.
I do not wish to appear as opposing the extension of tramways because they are tramways, or because they are promoted by a particular body. I would wish to support the extension of useful tramways, but what arguments have the promoters of this Bill produced to show that this will be a useful tramway? After all, it will go over Westminster Bridge and down the Embankment; where there is certainly not any great demand for traffic and where 'bus companies have never found it worth their while to run a line of 'buses, and then back again over Blackfriars Bridge. If this proposed tramway really connected the north and the south of the Metropolis, I would be one of those who would admit that there was a great deal to be said for it, even if it did inconvenience a certain section of the public. But this Bill does not do that. It merely proposes to take people for a little pleasure trip round the Embankment, and the only proposal which has been seriously put forward for connecting the north with the south was thrown out by the House of Commons' Committee. The proposed tramway, therefore, is not only inconvenient but useless; and it is not only useless, but it cannot be carried out without further legislation.
The Bill which we are asked to pass provides that nothing shall be done until powers are obtained for widening Black-friars Bridge. The Committee found that it was impracticable to take these tramways over the bridge as the bridge is at present, and the extension cannot be carried out without further powers to be obtained in a Bill next year, and these powers will have to be obtained by a separate authority—the City Corporation. In other words, before the County Council can proceed with these lines they will have to get the City to promote a Bill next year for the widening, at considerable cost, of Black-friars Bridge. Therefore this legislation is not only inconvenient and useless, but it is incomplete. I believe it has not been the practice of this House to pass legislation in an incomplete form. There was one occasion this year where the Great Northern and Strand Railway were promoting a single 1001 line crossing under the river, which the Committee of the Lower House said could not be completed unless they got powers to make the single line into a double line; and I understand that the Chairman of Committees of your Lordships' House ruled that because it was an incomplete Bill and could not be carried out in its completion this year the Bill could not proceed. This Bill, at any rate, is an incomplete Bill, and, if incomplete Bills cannot be passed, this Bill should not be proceeded with.
I do not know that there is any other feature of this measure which I need weary your Lordships by referring to. I would only say this in general, that this is surely not a moment in which to add another complication to the complicated system of traffic in London. What, my Lords, is the real difficulty with which the Royal Commission on Traffic have had to deal? The real difficulty has been the multiplication of different interests and different systems of traffic. If that Commission began de novo with London a grass field, it would be easy to make the traffic ideal and work properly; but this multiplicity of different systems makes the matter a very difficult one. One of the recommendations of the Royal Commission that a Traffic Board shall be appointed in order to deal with the general system of traffic in London. Are we to make the labours of that board, if, as I hope, it is appointed, greater by imposing another vested interest upon them to deal with? I maintain, therefore, that this is not a moment to pass legislation which will not really solve the problem of north and south tramways, which many of us would desire to see, but which will add another difficulty to the already great difficulties in London, and which will further burden the ratepayers of the Metropolis with an expenditure of some £350,000 at a time when nobody can say with certainty that motor omnibuses will not supersede trams in the future. I beg to move the Amendment standing in my name.
Amendment moved—To leave out the word 'now,' and add at the end of the Motion the words 'this day three months.'"—(Viscount Ridley.)
§ LORD CHELMSFORD
My Lords, I hope you will allow me to intervene in this debate as a member of the County Council who are promoting the Bill the rejection of which the noble Viscount has just moved, and I hope your Lordships will realise the very serious course which you are asked to pursue. It is usual on these occasions to send the Bill to be discussed in its details to a Committee of your Lordships' House, and it is certainly extremely unusual to take the course of rejecting the Bill before the Committee stage. I therefore urge you to pause before you follow my noble friend into the lobby this afternoon.
Now, what is the position we find ourselves in with regard to this Bill? Here is a great administrative body, the London County Council, set up to administer the government of the Metropolis, and this body comes forward in the usual way with a Bill which, if it had been promoted by, say, Manchester, Liverpool, or Birmingham, would have been considered at any rate, as a measure which ought not to be discussed on Second Reading in this House. The proposals contained in the Bill are not only practically unanimously supported in that great body, but they also find considerable support from the local authorities all round London. Out of twenty-eight borough councils in London twenty-one are actually supporting the Bill. The other seven have not taken any action, some because they have no tramways at all in their area, and others because they are not interested in the matter. I am not sure what the City of Westminster is doing at the present moment, but that authority, in whose area this tramway would be laid, showed its mind by not petitioning against the Bill in the other House.
It is not as if this proposal of the County Council was being examined for the first time. My noble friend referred just now to a close division which took place on the Second Reading in the House of Commons, and he said the Bill was carried by the casting vote of the Speaker. But since the Second Reading the Bill has been examined and scrutinised most carefully in all its details by a Committee 1003 of the other House; and, further, when the Bill issued from the Committee it had, of course, to be read a third time, and there was no opposition in the House of Commons to the Bill as it comes before your Lordships to-day. There are cases, of course, in which the House oppose private Bills on Second Beading. There are cases in which great principles are involved which this House has a right to make up its mind upon before the matter is sent as an open question to a Committee, and there was such a Bill the other day—I think it was promoted by the Woolwich Borough Council—in connection with which a noble Lord moved that either a certain portion should be expunged, or that the Bill should not be read a second time, because it was a private Bill endeavouring to do away with provisions of a public Act. That is the sort of occasion on which this House generally interferes, and says it will not leave the matter as an open question to be sent to a Committee. But where is the principle involved in this Bill?
My noble friend who has made a speech denouncing the provisions of the Bill has gone into details which, would be examined by a Committee when the case went before it. I have no doubt that some of your Lordships have received a long list of reasons for the rejection of the Bill. I have very carefully perused these reasons, and can only find one which can; be said to go to show that there is a principle involved in the Bill which would justify your Lordships in pursuing the course recommended by the noble Viscount; and that is this: that no tramway scheme should proceed until the House has had an opportunity of considering the Report of the Royal, Commission on the Traffic of London. I imagine that that reason was inserted before the Report of the Royal Commission was published; for what does this Royal Commission, which has been sitting two years, report on this matter? It has reported in favour of the very procedure which the County Council are adopting. Among the tramway lines suggested is one going over Westminster Bridge, down the Victoria Embankment and over Black-friars Bridge—the very proposal we are discussing here this 1004 afternoon. It is suggested that we should wait and consider that Report. Are we to allow all these tramway schemes to be hung up until Parliament has had time to consider the Report of the Traffic Commission? That Commission was I instituted for the very purpose of considering the details of this question, which the Government, in its wisdom, considered that Parliament was not so well adapted to deal with.
The objections urged against this Bill are, as I have said, really matters that should be taken before a Committee. I do not put forward this view speaking absolutely without experience, because I have had some ten years experience before Committees of this House and the other House, and certainly all these points, which have been urged by my noble friend are points which one regularly hears discussed before Committees. One rather plausible argument was put forward by my noble friend—namely, that this is an incomplete Bill, and that next year the City of London will have to bring in a measure for the widening of Blackfriars Bridge. It is said that therefore we had better wait till next year. As a ratepayer in London, I hope your Lordships are going to consider the extra cost that would be put on London by pursuing such a course as that. This Bill would be introduced again next year, the same arguments would be given and the same evidence called, and counsel, solicitors, Parliamentary agents, and witnesses would be paid to reiterate the arguments which have already been established before the Committee of the other House. It is not as if those supporting this Bill are asking you to pass it as a Bill complete in itself, and which, if you support it to-day, will become an Act. All we are asking is that this great body, the County Council of London, should have the right to be heard in favour of these proposals before a Committee of your Lordships' House. I have carefully gone through the evidence in the other House and considered the reasons urged. This is really a case of balance of convenience and inconvenience, and on these grounds, and on the wider ground, that I think the rejection of the Bill on Second Reading would be conferring an unmerited slight on a 1005 great body which has done a considerable amount of good work for London, I appeal to your Lordships not to vote against the Second Reading.
THE EARL OF MAYO
My Lords, I desire to associate myself with the noble Viscount in asking your Lordships to reject this Bill. The noble Lord who spoke last said it was an unusual course for the House to refuse to send a private Bill to a Committee. We have refused to send this Bill to a Committee for three or four sessions, and, as to the question of principle, surely a great principle is involved when you. propose to run a tramway down one of the few beautiful thoroughfares we have in London. The Embankment was built not only for the pleasure of the people of London, but for fast traffic to the City, and I tail to see why tramways should be allowed to run along there. Surely the object of tramcars is to pick up and set down passengers en route, and it, as the noble Lord says, 'bus companies have found it impossible to run 'buses along the Embankment, the London County Council will be unable to make a tramway service pay.
I would point out that if this Bill passes in its present form, it really means that the tramway will run up the Embankment to Blackfriars Bridge and atop there. It cannot go over the bridge. One of the clauses gives effect to a compromise arrived at by the City Corporation and the County Council, and, except with the consent of the City Corporation in writing, the London County Council must not take the tramways over Black-friars Bridge until the bridge has been widened or a new bridge constructed. I consider, therefore, that it would be a waste of time and involve unnecessary expense to send the Bill to a Committee. Unless that proviso is entirely cut out, I do not see how the tramways are to get beyond Black-friars Bridge. If trams are to be taken across the Thames at all, I contend that there should be a tube underneath the river, or a new bridge between Waterloo and Blackfriars to the new Kingsway carried over the Victoria Embankment. This Bill has been fully discussed in several sessions, and the mere fact that the Embankment would 1006 be spoilt from an aesthetic point of view by tramways is, I think, in itself sufficient to justify your Lordships in throwing out the Bill. We have few such beautiful sights in London as the Embankment, and I hope your Lordships will decline to have it destroyed by tramways.
§ *THE DUKE OF RUTLAND
My Lords, as I had something to do many years ago with the Thames Embankment and Westminster Bridge, I hope your Lordships will allow me to say one or two words on this subject. The Thames Embankment had been for many years more or less discussed, but it was not until the appointment by the House of Commons of a Select Committee, of which Sir Joseph Paxton was chairman, on which I had the honour of serving, that anything practical was attempted. It was as a result of that Committee that the Metropolitan Board of Works was authorised and provided with sufficient means to construct that which is the finest public work in London of modern times. I also happened to be First Commissioner when Westminster Bridge was built, and I can assure your Lordships that that bridge was not constructed by representatives of the ratepayers of London, but under Government supervision and out of funds which the State provided. Therefore, I say that the State has good reason to look after the maintenance of the Thames Embankment and Westminster Bridge and protect them against the attacks which year after year have been made by the London County Council—a body which had nothing whatever to do with the creation of either one or the other.
The noble Lord who has defended the action of the County Council says there has been one instance in his recollection in which the House of Lords has taken the course of rejecting a private Bill on Second Reading, but he said that was only on the ground that the private Bill proposed to subvert that which had been established by a public Act. Well, that is exactly what this Bill is doing. Have not these two great works been initiated and completed by public authority, and is not this an attempt by a private Bill to materially interfere with and utterly spoil both? That is the 1007 reason why I have opposed, and why I shall continue to oppose as long as I can, the passsing of a Bill of this kind. It is vain to say that in Committee all these great questions can be considered. I do not believe a Committee on a private Bill of this sort can go into these larger questions, and I therefore ask your Lordships to take your courage in jour hands and reject the Bill on Second Reading.
§ *EARL CARRINGTON
My Lords, I am bound to say, as a member of the London County Council, that I listened to the speech of the noble Viscount who moved the rejection of this Bill and to the speech of Lord Mayo with great consternation. I would venture to impress on the House that this is not a Party question in any sort of way. I hope the House will look at it entirely on its merits, and as a member of the London County Council I can say that if this Bill, to the misfortune of London, should be rejected, we should regard that action with great regret and apprehension. The noble Viscount who spoke first described the Bill as objectionable and useless, and made a great point, which was cheered by the House, about the disfigurement of the Embankment, a matter on which the noble Duke who has just sat down also laid stress. I would remind the House that there is no great congestion of traffic on the Embankment. It is not very much used. Moreover, the Embankment is from sixty-five feet to eighty-five feet wide, and surely two lines of tramway running along the Thames side of the Embankment would not be any very great disfigurement, and it would, besides, be a great boon and advantage to the toiling millions of London.
Viscount Ridley told the House that this tramway would be of no good to the public. I will deal with that point in a moment. He also spoke of the obstruction and congestion of traffic which would ensue if the Bill was allowed to pass. Your Lordships know the terribly congested state of the traffic at the tramway termini at Blackfriars and Westminster Bridges. During Ascot week the congestion at the Westminster terminus is positively dangerous. But that danger and difficulty would be to a great extent removed if the circle was allowed to be 1008 completed, and if the cars were permitted to run in a never-ending continuous line. The argument which the noble Viscount used as to the interference with trade by carriages not being able to get up to the shops is one which has always been used when trams have been proposed. We have had it in Tottenham Court Road and other parts of London, and I do not think I need detain the House by arguing that point. The noble Viscount went on to say that this scheme did not connect the tramway systems of the south and north of London. On that point I beg to differ from the noble Viscount. That is exactly what the Bill does.
§ VISCOUNT RIDLEY
I did not mean, to say that it did not connect the trams. What I meant to say was that it did not really connect the north of London with the south.
§ *EARL CARRINGTON
The noble Viscount is correct in this, that there is no junction of line between the north and the south. That was in the Bill, but it was cut out by the Commons House of Parliament. There will be no absolute connection with the trams which serve the northern parts of the Metropolis, but the County Council have now acquired powers to run a tramway through a subway which they take powers to bring on to the Embankment, and to get from the tramways running to and from Westminster and Blackfriars Bridges to this line would only necessitate walking across about eighty-six feet of the Embankment and entering the subway. The noble discount, in his reference to the complexity of the traffic problem, omitted to state that the scheme proposed in the Bill has been recommended by the Royal commission in their Report published this morning. The noble Viscount said the proposed tramway would be of no good to the public. I venture to think that if the noble Lord's speech had been made to any South London constituency, whether as a Progressive or a Moderate, the seat would have been lost to that side.
There are 43,000 men and women crossing each of these bridges morning and evening, wet or fine. That is to say, 86,000 people make the journey across 1009 the two bridges daily. Take the case of a young woman who lives at Brixton, and who goes to work somewhere in Holborn or the Strand, or further north. This young woman is able to reach the Blackfriars or Westminster Bridge terminus for a penny, and we propose to carry her the longer route. Just think what that means. It is three-quarters of a mile from the dead end on the south side of Westminster Bridge or from the dead end of the south side Blackfriars Bridge to the centre of the Embankment opposite where the connection will be to the north of London. If this scheme is not allowed to proceed, you condemn her to walk a mile and a half a day more than she need do. Taking 300 as the number of working days in the year, it means that she would have to walk 450 extra miles in the course of the year. I appeal to the House to think of this poor girl—it is only a typical case of thousands—who would have to walk an additional mile and a-half a day in all weathers all the year round. The working people are deserving of great consideration, and I urge your Lordships to keep their case in view in giving your decision on this matter. The City Corporation are in favour of the Bill, and, as my noble friend opposite said, twenty-one of the borough councils of the Metropolis are in favour of it, and the councils of the fashionable boroughs which have no tramways of their own, have not, to their honour, opposed the Bill. I most earnestly appeal to the House not to throw out on Second Reading a Bill which has been supported by both parties in the County Council and which is in the true interests of the toilers of the Metropolis.
THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (The Earl of ONSLOW)
My Lords, noble Lords who have addressed your Lordships on the question of the Second Reading of this Bill have for the most part devoted themselves to a consideration pro et con of the merits of the case. It is part of my duty to look very closely into all the private Bills that come before your Lordships, but I would say at once that I do not think I am in any way competent to express an opinion upon this Bill. That is a question which I 1010 think can only be decided after hearing the evidence which will be given and the pleadings which will be made on both sides before a Select Committee, and for that reason I venture to hope that your Lordships will not deny it the advantage of being treated in a manner which is usual in the case of all private Bills that come to your Lordships' House.
I shall content myself this evening with pointing out to your Lordships the difference in the position now from the position when this Bill, or a measure kindred to it, was before your Lordships' House in 1903, and was rejected on the Motion of my noble friend Lord Newton. It was then said, and said with justice, that the tramway line ended in the air. It was not proposed that it should cross Westminster Budge, but should stop at that end of the Embankment. Now the proposal is that there should be a continuous line from the south side of Westminster Bridge to the south side of Blackfriars Bridge, making connection there with the tramways on the south side of the river. It was next said, with great truth, that there was no connection with the trams which served the northern parts of the Metropolis, but, as the noble Earl who has just sat down has pointed out to the House, the County Council have now acquired powers to run a tramway through a subway which they take powers to bring on to the Embankment, although not actually in physical connection with the tramways run from Westminster to Blackfriara Bridge. At any rate, it cannot be said, as it was in 19O3, that there is no provision by this Bill for enabling traffic facilities from the south of London to the north.
It has often been said that we must wait for the Report of the Royal Commission on London Traffic. The Royal Commissioners have issued their Report. I will not trouble your Lordships with any extracts from it, but I do not think it has been contested by any of the noble Lords who have spoken in opposition to the Second Reading that the Royal Commissioners are unanimously in favour of trams across Blackfriars and Westminster Bridges. In. 1903 there was a very strong and serious opposition from a local authority which I think had great 1011 weight with your Lordships. I mean I the corporation of the City of London, but in the present case that corporation; has agreed to withdraw its opposition. They have done more: they have agreed to co-operate with the London County Council in carrying out, I will not, say the imposition, but, at any rate, the condition, which was placed upon the I promoters of the Bill in another place—namely, that the tramway shall not be constructed across Blaekfriars Bridge until that bridge has either been widened; or a new bridge constructed. I venture I to think that that puts a very different aspect on the case as presented to your Lordships this year.
Lord Chelmsford drew your Lordships' attention to the fact that twenty-one of the Metropolitan borough councils are supporting the Bill, and that no local authority, up to the present at any rate, is opposing the Bill in your Lordships' House. That is a novel feature, and one which I think ought to weigh with your Lordships. There is another important, consideration. In 1903, the Second Reading of this Bill was not met by a direct negative as on the present occasion, but with an instruction to the Committee to which the Bill was to be referred that they should omit certain tramways from their consideration. The noble Viscount now proposes, however, that the Bill should be read this day three months. There are other tramway schemes in this Bill. There is one for the deviation of an authorised line in the south of London; another for the construction of a tramway to complete an existing line and to bring passengers up to the door of the Crystal Palace; and others, including one to work electrically a tramway which is now horse-drawn. If your Lordships throw this Bill out on Second Reading on account of your objection to the tramway coming over Westminster and Blackfriars Bridges, you will at the same time be destroying the prospects of those other proposals which have nothing whatever to do with the question in dispute.
The noble Viscount said that another Bill had been presented to this House which was not allowed to proceed on the ground that it was incomplete. I think the noble Viscount has been misinformed on that point. It was a tube rail- 1012 way Bill, and the point was that, pending the Report of the Royal Commission on Traffic it was deemed inexpedient to allow any tube railways to be promoted. The noble Lord is right in saying that it will be necessary, if this Bill passes, to introduce another Bill into Parliament in order to enable the corporation of the City to widen Blackfriars Bridge; but I do not think that is any reason why your Lordships should depart from the well-established practice of this House. When a Bill is presented containing a number of provisions dealing with tramways in different parts of the Metropolis, it is not wise, simply because to a certain portion of it objection is entertained in certain quarters, that the whole Bill should be thrown out. I hope your Lordships will consent to send the Bill in the usual way to a Select Committee, where it may be thoroughly thrashed out.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (The Earl of HALSBURY)
My Lords, my noble friend the Chairman of Committees has been led to form a false impression as to the nature of the recommendation of the Commissioners. It is a mistake to say that the Commissioners are in favour of this scheme. They say no such thing. What they say is that they have gone with great care and minuteness into the matter, and they point out that the system of tramways might be so arranged as to be of great public advantage. They draw attention to the necessity of communication across the bridges, but only as a part of a general scheme; and it is quite a mistake to quote the Commission as in favour of this particular scheme.
I confess I still entertain the view which I held when it was my painful duty to resist a similar Motion to that now before the House, when moved by the late Chairman of Committees, Lord Morley. It seems to me that a sufficient ease has not been made out for the Bill, and that it is proposed to create a very dangerous precedent. The London County Council in its own way has done a very good work, and I have never said anything adverse to that body; but it is a very different thing to ask that they should be granted these 1013 enormous powers and the enormous establishment that a scheme of this sort is intended to give them. The Royal Commissioners point out in their Report that within the County of London nearly the whole of the tramways are owned, and in great part worked, by the County Council, and that such tramways as do not belong to them already will be acquired within a few years.
I ask your Lordships to consider what this means. If this scheme, which is admittedly only part of a greater scheme, were carried forward, the London County Council would be invested with enormous power and influence in connection with the proprietary interest which it would possess in an enormous area. I should regard such a situation with very considerable apprehension. I do not apply these remarks to the London County Council alone; I believe them to be applicable to any municipality placed in a similar position. It is undesirable to assist in putting any authority in that position. As to the contention that this Bill should be allowed to go to a Committee to have its merits inquired into, I think that is arguing on a false analogy. Often a scheme is put forward, and it is undesirable to reject it at once because its merits are not known, and until it gets before a Committee no one knows exactly what the scheme is. But we are here discussing a matter which everyone of us understands thoroughly. I am sure all who live in London, or whose business compels them to spend a considerable portion of the year in London, can have no doubt as to the great inconvenience attending the congestion of traffic. The London cabmen and others conduct that traffic with very great skill and temper, but when you are dealing with a tramway you cannot accommodate it to the traffic. It is run on fixed lines and interferes with the free movement of the remaining traffic. Over and over again you see the sort of difficulty there is in getting by when a block occurs among trams, and it would be a very serious matter indeed to add to the present difficulties by giving permission to such a proposal is this. I have thought it right to nake this protest against the notion that 1014 we are not to exercise our judgment on the matter. We know what the question is, and no points of detail can be brought before the Committee which would alter our views on the main proposal. I shall, therefore, support the rejection of the measure, and I hope your Lordships will adopt the Amendment by such a majority as will prevent the recurrence of these attempts on the part of the London County Council.
§ LORD TWEEDMOUTH
I desire to call attention to one or two points arising out of the speech of the noble and learned Earl on the Woolsack. I certainly think that the objection which the noble and learned Earl took to the great powers given to the London County Council in the matter of tramways comes rather late in the day. They already have the powers. The proposal in this Bill, more particularly that of bringing tramways across the bridges and along the Embankment, will add very little to those powers. They already have the control of the tramways south of the river, and they will shortly, when the leases fall in, have control of the tramways on the north of the river; and to say that giving them power to link up these two great systems by bringing trams over the bridges and along the Embankment would be a very serious matter is, I think, somewhat of an exaggeration. It is a statement which is not justified by the absolute facts of the case.
The noble and learned Earl also passed entirely in silence the very great argument brought forward by the noble Earl the Chairman of Committees, who pointed out that the Amendment moved by the noble Viscount not only involved the loss of the proposed tramway across the bridges and along the Embankment, but involved also the loss of four or five other great tramway schemes which are of the utmost importance to London. I am sure that your Lordships' House does not wish that these other schemes should also be consigned to limbo. Then the noble Earl said this was a scheme of which we could all judge. Well, on certain broad lines I suppose we can all judge; and the two opposing lines of argument on which we have to 1015 judge are these. First, is it to the advantage of London that the tramway system should be extended, that it should be linked up and made as useful as possible? What are the objects of the bridges of London, and what are the objects of the Embankment? They are, I think, primarily for the good of London, and for the use of the people of London, and I contend that the proposals in this Bill increase the utility of the bridges and of the Embankment. Then there is what I suppose is the main ground on which these proposals are resisted—the æsthetic ground. It is thought that this tramway would destroy the view along the Embankment and the beauty of the bridges. I do not for a moment deny that a bridge without a tramway and an embankment without a tramway is a much more æsthetic thing than a bridge or an embankment with a tramway; but at the same time there is some measure of proportion to be considered between the amount of harm that is done to the beauty of a thoroughfare and the amount of advantage given to the people generally; and for my part I consider that the advantage proposed to be given to London by the proposals in this Bill far outweigh any damage that may be done to the beauty of London. We never see a block of traffic on the Embankment, and if there is one road in London more suited than another for a tramway it is the Embankment. I therefore trast that your Lordships will give the Bill a Second Reading.
§ LORD JAMES OF HEREFORD
My Lords, I agree with my noble friend Viscount Ridley in opposing this tramway over the bridges and along the Embankment; but I think there are many noble Lords who share the views of the noble Earl the Chairman of Committees, that it would be a pity to sacrifice lines in respect to which there is no objection. I would therefore ask my noble friend Lord Ridley whether
§ he sees any objection to altering his Amendment and moving an instruction to the Committee not to consider that proposal in the Bill which refers to this particular tramway.
§ VISCOUNT RIDLEY
I should be very glad to withdraw the Motion for the rejection of the Bill, as I have no desire to impede the other tramways. With, your Lordships' permission, therefore, I will substitute an Amendment that it be an instruction to the Committee not to consider—
§ LORD TWEEDMOUTH
Surely we cannot deal with an instruction to the Committee until the Bill has been read a second time and notice of the proposed instruction given.
§ VISCOUNT RIDLEY
I should like to I appeal to the noble and learned Earl on the Woolsack whether I can substitute an instruction to the Committee for my Motion to reject the Bill.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
The Motion before the House is that the Bill be now read a second time, and, until the Bill is read a second time, it will be impossible to give an instruction to the Committee, because the Bill cannot go to a Committee until it has been given a Second Reading.
§ VISCOUNT RIDLEY
In that case I personally would wish to offer no objection to the Second Reading of the Bill, but to move an instruction to the Committee after the Second Reading has been agreed to. I understand that this will be in order. [Cries of dissent.] If that is not accepted, then I am afraid I must press my Motion.
§ On Question, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Motion," their Lordships divided:—Contents, 33; Not-Contents, 64.1017
|Norfolk, D. (E. Marshal.)
|Carrington, E. [Teller.]
|Herefrod, L. Bp
|Oxford, L. Bp.
|Stanley of Alderley, L.
|Denman, L. [Teller.]
|Halsbury, E. (L. Chancellor.)
|Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.) L. President.)
|Hay, L. (E. Kinnoul.)
|Hutchinson, V. (E. Donough-more)
|Kilmarnock, L. (E. Errol.)
|Clarendon, E. (L. Chamberlain.)
|Ridley, V. [Teller.]
|Kintore, L. (E. Kintore.).
|Manners of Haddon, L. (M. Granby.)
|Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.)
|Oranmore and Browne, L.
|Balinhard, L. (E. Southesk.)
|Belhaven and Stenton, L.
|Mayo, E. [Teller,]
|Carysfort, L. (E. Carysfort.)
|Mount Edgcumbe, E.
|Wemyss, L. (E. Wemyss.)
On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ Moved, "That the words' this day three months' be there added."—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ Bill to be read 2a this day three months.
§ Caledonian Railway t Bill; Liverpool Corporation Bill; South Barracas (Buenos Ayres) Gas and Coke Company Bill [H.L.) Reported, with Amendments.1018
§ Pier and Harbour Provisional Order (No. 3) Bill. Moved, That the order made on the 16th day of March last, "That no Provisional Order Confirmation Bill brought from the House of Commons shall be read a second time after the 27th day of June next," be dispensed with, and that the Bill be now read 2a; agreed to. Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.
§ Tramways Orders Confirmation (No. 2) Bill [H.L.]. House in Committee (according to order). The Amendments proposed by the Select Committee made. Standing Committee negatived. The Report of Amendments to be received on Thursday next.
§ Local Government Provisional Order (No. 16) Bill; Local Government Provisional Orders (No. 17) Bill. House in Committee (according to order). Bills reported without Amendment. Standing Committee negatived; and Bills to be read 3a on Thursday next.