HL Deb 21 July 1931 vol 81 cc947-54

Order of the Day read for resuming the debate on the Motion for the Third Reading, moved by the Earl of Onslow on Monday, July 13.


My Lords, in moving that the adjourned debate on this Bill he resumed, I would venture to ask your Lordships' permission to say a few words in explanation of that which has occurred since we adjourned the debate on Monday of last week. Perhaps I might in the first instance say that it was suggested before we undertook that debate that it should be put off at the last moment, in view of the fact that certain noble Lords had observations to offer. It was suggested that it would possibly have been more convenient to put off the debate for a short time in order that the matter might be considered by the promoters. It seemed to me, however, that, as the Motion was down on the Paper and noble Lords had come to your Lordships' House to give their views, it would be better to continue. It is always undesirable to put off a debate at the last moment, and very inconvenient to noble Lords who have come down to speak. Then, if necessary, of course, it can be adjourned, as it was in this case, or the Bill re-committed, as was suggested and the matter considered in private and then brought up again before your Lordships.

As your Lordships will remember, the debate was adjourned, and it was suggested that possibly a, re-commitment of the Bill might be necessary, but I do not think that as things stand this will be necessary, because a meeting of the promoters, those of your Lordships who are opposed to the Bill and other persons was arranged by me, and I think an agreement has been reached which is embodied in the Amendments which have been put down and will, I gather, be moved by Lord Newton. I would like, if I may, to make a short statement as to what exactly occurred. In our Standing Orders a railway company acquires power over the whole of the area over which it proposes to lay line. In the case of a Tube railway, such as this, the company need not pay for more than the easement—in this case underground—unless they occupy for buildings or other purposes any part of the surface. A proposal was put forward to use the Camberwell Green site for a Tube station. Camberwell Green, under an Act of Parliament of 1856, is the property of the Camberwell Borough Council, and the Camberwell Borough Council were willing to raise no objection to the building of a Tube station, in consideration of the railway company undertaking to spend £6,000 upon the improvement of St. Giles Churchyard, which was mentioned by Lord Crawford in the last debate. Neither the Borough Council nor the company acted ultra vires in this matter, and so far as they were required by the Standing Orders of this House, and by the law, they made the necessary notifications to the authorities concerned. I do not think, therefore, that any blame can be attached to any of the parties concerned, and, I would like to make this perfectly clear, they acted entirely within their rights.

It is true that the surface of Camberwell Green was shown on the deposited plans as liable to be acquired for works under this Bill, but it is not wholly correct to suggest that provision is not already made in the Standing Orders to protect the interest of the public in such cases. Under Standing Order No. XXVIII, where the work or any part thereof will be situate in London, or where powers are sought to take or use any lands compulsorily in London, copies of the plans are required to be deposited at the office of the London County Council; and this Standing Order was complied with in this case. The London County Council may be considered, in a sense, to be the protectors of the interests of the public, and this may be assumed to be the purpose of the Standing Order. In addition to this, personal notices were served on all the owners of properties which were liable to be acquired, including the Camberwell Borough Council. It does appear, however, that under the Standing Orders as at present drafted proposals as to Camberwell Green were not brought directly to the notice of the public at large, except in so far as a notice was published in the newspapers stating that it was proposed to construct a railway from one point in London to another, which would pass through certain boroughs, and that plans might be inspected and copies of the Bill purchased at a reasonable price at certain offices in the County of London.

Where, however, any common or commonable land is intended to be taken or used compulsorily, it is necessary in the newspaper notices to state specifically the name of such commonable land with other particulars. Camberwell Green, and most of the open spaces in London, are not technically commonable land, and, therefore, no such specific notice is at present required in respect of them. It is suggested that the requirement of specific notice as regards commonable land should be extended to all the open spaces scheduled to the London Squares Preservation Bill of the present Session, and the Standing Order amended accordingly. This would mean that any person or society which is interested would be able to see in The Times, or other newspaper in which notices of the objects of a Bill are published, that some particular open space was liable to be interfered with, and would then be in a position to oppose the Bill in its passage through Parliament.

I think it is fair to the promoters and to those who, in the past, have been responsible for compiling the present Standing Orders, to say that, in the case of Camberwell Green, the London County Council were fully aware of the proposals as to building a railway station. It is understood that the County Council thought it more convenient to take no action in the first House—your Lordships' House—as an arrangement can often be arrived at by negotiation without the expense of a Petition. When, however, the debate on the Third Reading of the Bill took place a few days ago a Petition was actually in draft, which had been pre- pared before the point was raised by Lord Dickinson, the Petitioners praying that Parliament would not approve the proposal. It was intended to present this Petition in the second House. Your Lordships may have observed that I have put down on the Paper, for consideration on Thursday, certain proposed. Amendments in the Standing Orders. Those are the result of a. Committee of your Lordships' House appointed in the time of my predecessor to go into the whole matter. I have taken this opportunity to put down an Amendment of the Standing Order—or at least I am putting it down to-day and it will be on the Paper to-morrow—in the sense of the suggestions that I have made to your Lordships this afternoon. I hope that that will quite clear up any difficulty or misunderstanding which may arise, or any ambiguity in the future. Your Lordships will see it on the Paper, and I hope it will give satisfaction to those noble Lords who have been interested in the matter.

Moved, That the debate we now resumed.—(The Earl of Onslow.)


My Lords, on behalf of the promoters I desire to move certain Amendments, and I should like to observe that the first five Amendments are purely drafting Amendments which are governed entirely by the new Clause 20A which I propose to move subsequently.

On Question, Motion agreed to.


My Lords, I shall not detain you more than a moment or two, but I should like to comment on the procedure which has been adopted, and to which my noble friend the Chairman of Committees has referred. He says that on behalf of the promoters copies of the plans were deposited duly with the persons concerned and with the London County Council. That is the case, of course, but nobody knew—not the parties concerned nor the London County Council—that it was proposed that the railway station should be placed on the open space of Camberwell Green. Neighbouring occupiers of premises on the far side of the road from the Green had received notices, and had actually petitioned in their favour, and it was only at the last moment that your Lordships learned that the station was to emerge, to erupt, in the middle of the Green, or rather at the south end of the Green. And when the noble Earl said that notices were duly deposited, that is true, but the agreement with the Borough Council in whom the Green is vested only took place three or four weeks ago. That is to say, although it is months since the notices were given, it was only a few weeks ago that this arrangement was made.

That really cannot continue, and I hope that the Amendment of the Standing Order, which I am very glad to hear is going to be made, will make it clear that under the ordinary lines of deviation granted to a railway company there is some limit to the freedom of the places at which they may emerge for their stations. As the Bill stands, under the limits of deviation allowed—the vertical limits, not the lateral limits—there was nothing to prevent the railway company from opening up the whole of Camberwell Green in an open cutting. I rejoice that the Standing Orders are going to be amended, and I hope that then it will not occur again that only by chance an agreement made after a Bill has been deposited in Parliament will be revealed, by which a company in this way takes rights over what is a public open space.


My Lords, before the Question whether the Bill be read a third time is put, I should like to say something in corroboration of what the noble Earl, Lord Crawford, has said. I recollect the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, and the Leader of the Liberal Party and myself met last year in order to make it more certain that this House should know what is going on when any question arises upon the Third Reading, and we then made it quite clear that under Standing Order No. XXXVII no new proposal could be entertained unless full Notice of it was on the Paper before the Motion was made. In this case no doubt quite the right procedure was taken, because, as it was not possible to introduce the Amendment on the Third Reading, because no Notice had been given, the only other alternative, apart from throwing out the Bill, was to adjourn the consideration. Now, as the noble Lord, Lord Newton, points out, the Amendments to be proposed are on the Paper itself, and therefore we are in order. On the other matter referred to by Lord Crawford I am not so sure. There were many questions in old days as to where stations could or could not be placed under the form in which the powers were conferred upon a railway company. I should not like to go into those matters now, because they are very long and detailed, but, if the Standing Order is amended as suggested, I think it would be a valuable addition to our Standing Orders.

On Question, Bill read 3a.

Clause 11 [Breaking up surface of streets and permanent openings therein]:


My Lords, the first five Amendments are drafting Amendments.

Amendments moved—

Clause 11, page 13, line 5, after ("roadways") insert ("and")

Clause 11, page 13, line 5, after ("footways") leave out ("and places")

Clause 11, page 13, line 9, after the first ("Camberwell") insert ("at")

Clause 11, page 13, line 15, leave out ("the roadways footways and places of")

Clause 11, page 13, line 16, after ("mentioned") insert ("roadways and footways at").—(Lord Newton.)

On Question, Amendments agreed to.

LORD NEWTON moved, after Clause 20, to insert the following new Clause 20A:

As to Camberwell Green.

Nothing in this Act shall authorise the London Company to erect any building or structure on the surface of the garden enclosure known as Camberwell Green or to take any part of the surface of that garden enclosure or to construct any station thereunder.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is an Amendment introduced by the promoters in order to meet the objections which were raised in the debate last week. I understand that it is an agreed clause and that no exception is likely to be taken to it. With regard to what was said by the noble Earl, Lord Crawford, I cannot help thinking that he has rather exaggerated the case, and there is more to be said for this proposal than one would gather either from his speech or from the speeches which were made a week ago, when I was not present. This proposal, which is not a proposal to take the whole of the Green, but to take less than half an acre of it, did not emanate from the promoters but from the Borough Council; and, after all, who is the proper representative of the inhabitants if it is not the Borough Council? And I may say that Camberwell Green happens to be a particularly congested district, as anybody must realise who has taken the trouble to look at it. I am informed that it is practically a certainty that widening of the streets will have to take place within the next year or two, and that, in those circumstances, it is almost inevitable that part of the Green should be sacrificed.

I do not wish to say much about this, but I repeat that the section of the Green which it was proposed to take was only a small one, and that the Borough Council were going to derive very substantial advantages from the railway company had the proposals come into effect. The fact is that if the station had been erected on this particular spot it would have had considerable advantages from the transport and commercial point of view, and this is a case in which, rightly or wrongly, commercial advantages and transport advantages have been subordinated to the question of amenities. I am not making any complaint upon the subject, but after the speech made by my noble friend the Chairman of Committees I do not think it necessary to say anything further in defence of the promoters. Everything was perfectly clear and above board, the authorities of this House were conversant with everything that had taken place, and I think that we part from the Bill with a clear conscience as far as I am concerned.

Amendment moved— After Clause 20, page 18, insert the said new clause.—(Lord Newton.)


My Lords, as I raised this question last week I would like to say with regard to the action of the company that they have met both Lord Crawford and myself and others interested in this matter perfectly openly and freely, and the Amendment which is now suggested meets entirely what we wished for at that moment. With regard to the other question to which the Lord Chairman has referred, I am glad that he proposes to bring in some Amendment of Standing Orders which will prevent any company encroaching upon a square or open space in London, which has now been protected after a great deal of litigation, without due notice to the public. What happened in this case is that the plans of the railway showed a station that was not under the Green. The public could have had no inkling whatever that there was any proposal to put a station either on or under the Green. It was only after the Bill reached its present stage in your Lordships' House that these proposals were made and I am very glad to learn, and I think your Lordships will agree, that in future whenever there is any menace of an encroachment in any way whatever on these open spaces the public at any rate shall be made aware of it.


My Lords, I wish to ask leave to add one word on this new question. My noble friend beside me [Lord Newton] says that this proposal was justified because the district is congested. It is precisely because the district is congested that the value of the open space is so great.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move that this Bill do now pass.

Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(The Earl of Onslow.)

On Question, Bill passed, and sent to the Commons.

Back to