HL Deb 23 May 1928 vol 71 cc293-6

LORD MONK BRETTON had given Notice to call attention to the powers to re-build Lambeth Bridge conferred on the London County Council by the London County Council (Lambeth Bridge) Act, 1924, and to the proposals of the Council to adopt a design differing in certain respects from that placed before the Select Committee which considered the Bill for that Act. The noble Lord said: My Lords, the matter to which I have to call your Lordships' attention is the London County Council (Lambeth Bridge) Act, 1924, which passed through the procedure that applies to Private Bill legislation in both Houses of Parliament. It may be said that the policy of a new bridge at Lambeth was fully considered and approved at that time. Moreover, in the Private Bill no restrictions were placed on the architectural features of the bridge. It is the case, nevertheless, that, when that Bill was before the Select Committee of your Lordships' House, the design of the bridge was shown. It was a design that had been made in collaboration with Sir Reginald Blomfield, and it showed a bridge of five steel arches, faced with granite and taking an elliptical form.

The Bill passed through all its stages in both Houses and became law, and it was only when the engineer had to provide the detailed drawings for the actual construction that it was found that the granite facings were unsuitable to modern traffic conditions in connection with these elliptical arches. There were also other disadvantages concerning the navigation of the river and, as a result, a bridge with a new design was worked out which gave more satisfaction as regards its suitability both for navigation and for the traffic that had to be carried and as to its wearing capacity. The new design provides unlaced steel arches, the spans are wider, and its weight is diminished, which is a very important consideration to engineers who have to deal with the difficult tidal waters of the Thames. What I want to say to your Lordships particularly is this, that there is nothing in this Act which does not allow the London County Council to proceed with its building operations, but it has been and is felt by them that as the Select Committee presided over by Lord Bath had a different design before it—and the London County Council being anxious to act with all conscientiousness—it was desirable that this matter should be called attention to in Parliament, in order that it should be realised that the design which the Council proposed to build on was not the design laid before the Committee.

That being so, I welcome the Motion that has been put down by the Lord Chairman, that this matter should be the subject of consideration by a Select Committee. I hope that the noble Earl will carry that Motion. The London County Council are satisfied that this new design, on the grounds of traffic, of navigation and of outward appearance, is a better design, and I hope that the Committee appointed will ask Sir Reginald Blomfield and the engineer whether this is not a better design than that passed by Parliament. I hope that the noble Earl will give effect to his proposal as soon as possible, because the County Council are anxious to get on with the building, and have already engaged in considerable financial commitments in connection with improvements and street widenings. We hope by these means to make very much easier the traffic which passes from the West End to the City, and I think it is a matter which brooks no delay.

THE EARL OF DONOUGHMORE had on the Paper the following Resolution:—That a Select Committee be appointed to consider the proposals of the London County Council to adopt a design for rebuilding Lambeth Bridge which differs in certain respects from that placed before a Select Committee of this House in 1924, and to report to the House thereon; and that the said Committee be proposed by the Committee of Selection.

The noble Earl said: My Lords, I think we are very much indebted to the noble Lord for the action he has taken. He has been good enough to keep me informed of his intentions, and I only want to emphasise this, that the work done in 1924 is not wasted. There is no question of altering the conditions which were put upon the London County Council—conditions which affected the Petitioners against the Bill and were put in for their protection. The only question is that the London County Council want to alter the appearance of the bridge to the eye. All the other conditions laid upon them by Parliament will be obeyed. It is quite true that they could have done all they now want to do without coming to Parliament at all, but being particularly anxious to play straight with Parliament, my noble friend has put down the subject for mention to-day. Having consulted with him I think obviously the most convenient course will be that the first picture of the bridge, together with the new picture, should be submitted to the Committee, so that they will have the two pictures alongside each other and they can then make what report they think right. I do not think I need detain your Lordships further, except to state that I propose to leave out the last line of my Motion. The Committee of Selection has to appoint five Peers to consider Private Bills. This is not a Bill, and in view of the importance of the question I suggest seven Peers. I will hand in the names now, and if you think fit to pass my Motion now the appointment of the seven Peers can be taken at eleven o'clock to-morrow. I understand that there is a date in the middle or end of June on which the Committee could meet, and I should think that one meeting of the Committee would be sufficient to finish the whole thing.

Moved to resolve, That a Select Committee be appointed to consider the proposals of the London County Council to adopt a design for rebuilding Lambeth Bridge which differs in certain respects from that placed before a Select Committee of this House in 1924, and to report to the House thereon.—(The Earl of Donoughmore.)


My Lords, in the absence of Viscount Peel, I am asked to state the view of the Ministry of Transport on this matter. The position is exactly as stated by the two noble Lords, and it is only necessary for me to add that the new proposals meet the views of the Ministry of Transport, so far as traffic considerations are concerned, and they raise no objection whatever to the proposal before the House.