HL Deb 14 July 1937 vol 106 cc381-426

Order of the Day for the Third Reading read.


My Lords, in moving the Third Reading of the London Passenger Transport Board Bill, I assume it is unnecessary to remind your Lordships of my close personal interest in this Bill, but the Amendments which are down in the name of my noble friend Lord Brocket would, if given effect to, so seriously affect the transport facilities in a very considerable area of London that I feel it my duty to afford your Lordships an explanation of what is involved in these Amendments. I think first of all I might remind your Lordships of the position which existed in London when the London Passenger Transport Board was first established in 1933, and of the clamant demand which existed in many districts in London for some improvement to their system of passenger transport. In fact, I think it would be true to say that it w as because of this very widespread demand for improved facilities that the London Passenger Transport Board was established.

Under the Act of 1933 a Joint Committee was set up, a Committee which was composed of representatives of the London Passenger Transport Board and of each of the four main line railways, and one of the first tasks to which the Committee directed their attention was this demand for improved facilities. After a long and exhaustive examination into the whole matter they prepared a programme, a very expensive programme, of improvements, which involved an expenditure of some £40,000,000. The programme did not attempt to deal with all the demands which were before the Board for improved facilities. It only sought to deal with those which were of long standing, which were very imminent and in respect of which some improvement was most urgent. This programme, as your Lordships may perhaps remember, provided for extensions to the Underground system in the form of physical junctions with some of the suburban lines of the main line railways, for the electrification of some of the branch lines of the main line railways, for widening where necessary the suburban lines, for removing all the tramlines from the streets of London and the substitution of the more efficient and certainly less noisy vehicle, the trolley-bus, for the tramcar, and improvements for some of the Underground stations in the centre of London.

Altogether, as I have said, this scheme of improvements was estimated to cost some £40,000,000, and was the subject of an agreement between the Transport Board, the two main lines companies concerned (the London and North-Eastern Railway and the Great Western Railway) and His Majesty's Treasury. Under that agreement the Government guaranteed over a period of years the principal and interest upon this large sum of money, the purpose of that arrangement being to afford the companies and the Board an opportunity of raising this large sum on the most favourable terms at a lower rate of interest than would have been possible for the Board and the companies themselves had they had to undertake that task. It was not, of course, suggested that any burden would fall upon the Government as a result of that arrangement. It was only for the purpose, as I have said, of affording facilities for raising this very large sum of money.

The part of the programme to which I have referred, and to which I should desire to draw your Lordships' attention this afternoon and which is affected by the Amendments that I have mentioned, embraces, first of all, an extension of the Underground Railway which now terminates at Highgate to a point where it forms a physical junction with one of the suburban lines of the London and North-Eastern Railway, and an extension of the Underground which now terminates at Finsbury Park also to form a junction with the suburban lines of the London and North-Eastern Railway. It provides also for the electrification of those branch lines—that is, of the Edgware, the High Barnet and the Alexandra Palace lines—and for the widening of the Edgware line, which is now a single-track line and where a service of only one steam train an hour is being worked at the present time. The purpose, of course, of these improvements is to afford facilities for a through service of electric trains from stations on the suburban lines to stations in the West End and also in the City of London. This will of course afford an immense addition to the facilities which are now in operation in that area. The scheme also provides for extending the Bakerloo line from Baker Street to Finchley where it forms a junction with the Metropolitan Railway. By this arrangement it will be possible to operate the Bakerloo trains on the Metropolitan Railway Stanmore branch line, and this again will afford a through service of trains from that line to the West End and to the City.

The scheme also provides for the purchase of a considerable amount of new rolling stock of a more modem type to be operated in substitution for the rolling stock which is now being worked on the Edgware-Morden line. This new rolling stock has an advantage over the present rolling stock, because with the present rolling stock part of the space on the floor of the motor cars is used for the electrical equipment. In the new rolling stock this electrical equipment will be placed beneath the floor of the car and thus more space will be made available for passengers. The motor equipment, too, will be of a more powerful type so as to provide for more rapid acceleration, and brakes will be of the very latest type so that trains can be decelerated more quickly without any inconvenience to the passengers. This new rolling stock, providing as it will additional seating accommodation, as well as being able to accelerate and decelerate more rapidly, will afford opportunities for a better service upon the Edgware-Morden line. That line is now under some criticism, as perhaps your Lordships know, especially in reference to the service during the rush hours when it must be admitted that there is a fair amount of congestion. Traffic on the line has grown certainly beyond any estimate the Board had formed in the past, and there is, we confess, a real urgency for affording some relief to the traffic on this line.

This new rolling stock will afford some relief. It will afford relief up to an increase of perhaps 40 per cent. in seating capacity. That is a very considerable contribution towards improving conditions on this line. With the completion of this scheme it is anticipated that some of the passengers who now use the Edgware-Morden line will transfer their patronage to the Stanmore line. As I have explained, the Stanmore line will have a through service to the West End and to the City, and with this improved service it is anticipated that a number of passengers who now use the Edgware, Morden line will, because of the greater facilities, transfer to the Stanmore line. The electrification and double tracking of the Edgware branch of the London and North-Eastern line in this area will afford a further line into the West End and the City. In addition to the 40 per cent. advantage gained by the improvement of rolling stock there will be another through line brought into service under this programme.

It will be observed that the Standing Joint Committee and the Board and the London and North Eastern Railway Company in dealing with this problem have tried to deal with it on a comprehensive basis. We have not adopted a piecemeal method of dealing with it. We have tried to deal with it on a very broad basis, and we are satisfied that, with the completion of these schemes, there will be considerable relief in this area. In carrying out these schemes, it is necessary that an extension line from Edgware north to Aldenham should be built, and that the Board should be able to acquire a site for the purpose of building a depot at the terminus of this new line. Those of your Lordships who, in your business activities, have had to seek in recent times for a site in the outer areas of London, will appreciate the difficulties which confronted the Board in their efforts to find a site for this purpose. The Board are not free to roam all about the area seeking a site. They must have a site immediately adjacent to the railway and a site of a size sufficient to meet their requirements. The officers of the Board have searched this area, and I myself have been over it more than once. I can give your Lordships an assurance that there is no other site adjacent to the railway which would meet the requirements of the Board as we know them to exist.

This new type of depot which we are proposing to build will be what we call a double-ended depot. When a large amount of rolling stock is concentrated at one point, should anything happen—a derailment, if you will—to a train going into service from the depot, if the depot is only single-ended the whole service is interrupted until that obstruction is removed. Our experience tells us that that is too big a risk to take, and that in the design of depots for this purpose it should be arranged that trains can be taken out at either end so that in the event of trouble we can work at either end. We must have considerable space for the work of keeping these trains in repair, and that becomes a more difficult problem as time goes on, because there are greater refinements attached to the cars. It is desirable that that work should be done during the daytime. It is necessary to have ample room for doing that work, and for the necessary equipment. One of our railways is now equipped with depots of this type, while others have the older depots with the single end. On the railway where we have this new type of depot, the records show a very considerable improvement in the efficiency of the rolling stock working on that line. There is considerably less interruption to the service through any failures of the equipment of the cars working on that line when compared with the others.

I desire to emphasise to your Lordships the importance of having a site which is adequate to provide the Board with the facilities needed. I understand that my noble friend objects to this extension railway and to the construction of this depot at Aldenham on the ground of amenities, because this area is of a rural character, and that there is, in the neighbourhood, a reservoir which is described as a sanctuary for wild birds. If I remember rightly, when evidence was being given before the Select Committee of your Lordships' House, of which the noble Lord, Lord Cozens-Hardy, was the Chairman, it was stated that already a very considerable number of people were visiting this reservoir at the week-end for the purpose of bathing and boating; in fact, I think it was referred to by one of the witnesses as a sort of "Lido." There is certain information in connection with this area to which I desire to draw your Lordships' attention. fn the first place Aldenham is only distant between twelve and thirteen miles from the centre of London, and certainly those who are responsible for the provision of transport in the London Transport area and whose duty it is to observe the trend of movement in that area are bound to ask themselves the question whether the characteristics of this area can continue indefinitely, especially when one bears in mind the pressure that is coming from slum clearance for housing in the outer areas, and also for the provision of housing accommodation for those who are working in the factories which are allocated and are continuing to be allocated to the outer areas of London.

Another matter to which I desire to draw your Lordships' attention is this. My noble friend Lord Brocket is, as you know, the Chairman of the Hertfordshire Society, a society which is interested in maintaining the traditions and amenities of that County. This railway will extend into the County of Hertford a distance of only about 470 yards. The railway extends a distance of two-and-three-quarter miles, and for two-and-a-half miles it is in the County of Middlesex. Nearly the whole of the depot is also in that County. Middlesex is raising no objection to this extension nor yet to the depot. Furthermore, the only district which is affected by this arrangement, the urban district of Bushey, not only does not raise any objection to these proposals, but its Council in fact gave them their support before the Select Committee of your Lordships' House. As regards the Council of the County of Hertford, may I remind your Lordships that when this Bill appeared in another place that Council, although they had petitioned against the Bill, did not proceed with their Petition? They gave no evidence before the Select Committee of the other place, but, on the contrary, entered into negotiations with the Board with a view to coming to some arrangement with them in respect of the extension contemplated in this Bill.

It is true that when the Bill appeared before your Lordships' House the County Council presented a Petition and gave evidence on the Bill. The Select Committee, however, to which it was referred, after listening most carefully and giving considerable time to all the evidence relevant to the matters at issue, gave their approval to these proposals, and required an undertaking from the Transport Board—an undertaking which the Board have accepted. I will not read the whole of the undertaking, only the relevant parts, so that your Lordships may be familiar with it: If in connection with the construction of the railway Work No. 1"— that is the extension railway— authorised by the intended Act the Board make a station in the urban district of Bushey at or near the junction of Elstree Road with the Watford By-pass, the Board shall at their own expense provide and maintain a subway across the Elstree Road and a subway across the Watford By-pass for the safety of passengers using the said station and such subways shall be constructed in accordance with such plans sections and specifications as shall be agreed or in default of agreement settled by arbitration … The Board shall provide and maintain in connection with the said station reasonable accommodation for taking up and setting down passengers in connection with public service vehicles of the Board and for the parking of private vehicles. If in connection with the construction of the said railway Work No. 1 the Board make sidings and sheds for the accommodation of rolling stock in the vicinity of the said station they shall plant and maintain a belt of suitable trees to the reasonable satisfaction of the County Council and take such other steps as may be reasonable with a view to minimising the injury to the amenities of the district. As I said, that was an undertaking which the Select Committee put upon the Transport Board and which the Board accepted.

The Board, however, have done more than that: they have offered to transfer to the County Council any of the land in the possession of the Board which the Board do not require for their own purposes, and to sell that land to the Council for the purpose of the Green Belt at the same price that the Board paid for it. In other words, it is to be transferred to the County Council without any profit to the Board, although the land is more valuable to-day than it was at the time the Board bought it.

Another matter to which I desire to draw your Lordships' attention, and which seems to support the suggestion that I made a few minutes ago, is that an area situated so close to London as this one cannot hope in these days to maintain indefinitely its rural characteristics, desirable though they may be. I would remind your Lordships that practically the whole of the land in this area is under a town-planning scheme. Hendon, Bushey, Watford, Barnet, Harrow—all of them have prepared town-planning schemes. The Hendon scheme has been approved already by the Ministry of Health and the other schemes now await that approval. These town-planning schemes provide for housing on the basis of as many as twelve houses to the acre. Therefore it seems to me that it can only be a matter of a little time before this area will have been occupied by houses as are other parts just outside London. This, my Lords, is an instance where town planning and transport are being kept in step. Time and again it has been suggested that there is a lack of co-ordination, a lack of co-operation between the authorities responsible for housing and those responsible for transport. Here, however, is an instance where we are in complete step the one with the other, and as this area is developed, so an adequate and an efficient system of transport will be provided.

Suppose there is delay in dealing with this matter; suppose this housing development to which I have referred goes on. The opportunity of acquiring land for the purpose of this depot and the railway has gone. There will be a demand for improved transport facilities. Those who are living in this area will not be content with a road service; they will want something much more rapid and much more efficient. And then there will be the question of building an extension to this railway and building it underground at twice the cost for which it could be built to-day. Furthermore, there will still be the problem of finding a site for the depot, be- cause, although you can build railways underground, as I said, at twice the cost for which you can build them on the surface, you must bring the trains to the surface for the purpose of being overhauled and kept in repair. And so at some point the Underground Railways must come to the surface for the purpose of dealing with rolling stock.

I have said to your Lordships that this scheme to which I have referred will afford some very considerable relief to the area affected by it, but I should not wish your Lordships, and certainly a wider audience outside, to be under the impression that these improvements are going entirely to relieve the congestion upon the Morden and Edgware line. That is a problem of immense difficulty—a problem which is engaging the attention of the Board and the Board's main line railways constantly. But while it will not entirely relieve congestion, it will make a considerable contribution towards relieving what to-day is a very serious state of affairs. I do not wish to occupy your Lordships' time with this question of congestion just now, but I shall point out how serious a problem it is when I say that for every ten passengers carried on the Underground lines during the non-rush hours the Board is required to carry a hundred passengers during the rush hours. That will, perhaps, give your Lordships some indication of the immense peaks and valleys which exist in the passenger traffic on these Underground lines.

I ask myself the question, if these proposals which are before your Lordships' House are not accepted, what is the alternative? Is the present situation to go on as it is? Is no relief to be afforded to those who are using the railways day by day? Are we to go on as before with the knowledge that there is no means of affording relief? I have given your Lordships the assurance that I know of no other way in which relief can come to this area except as we have it provided for in this Bill. We have been faced with problems not unlike this in other districts and I think the Transport Board may fairly say that they have established a high standard both in design and construction of their buildings. They have established, I think, a high standard with regard to the whole of their rolling stock, and, just as we have been able to satisfy other districts that we have not unduly disturbed their amenities and have acted reasonably and fairly in carrying out our work, so I am satisfied that we can do it in this particular case.

There is one other matter that I should desire just to mention for a few moments. I have been asked by the noble Viscount, Lord Bertie of Thame, to say a word about fares on the Stanmore line. The position is this. The fares on the Morden and Edgware line are on a lower scale than those on the Stanmore branch, and the reason is that the former was originally under the Underground Company and the Stanmore line under the Metropolitan. The Metropolitan followed one policy and the Underground Company another with the result that the fares on the Morden-Edgware line are lower than fares on the Stanmore line, so that passengers who can with equal convenience use the Stan-more line drift over to the Morden and Edgware line because of the advantage of lower fares and perhaps a better service. The Board quite recognise—and I am sure I can speak for the main line companies concerned—that something must be done to narrow this difference between the fares on those two lines, and when this full scheme of improvements is brought into effect it will, I think, be necessary that some adjustment should be made between the fares on the Edgware line and the Stanmore line, in order that the traffic may be made more fluid, and flow more freely on these different lines. It would not be to the advantage of the companies concerned if, after the improvements, the anomalies of the fares continued, to the disadvantage of the service as a whole. Therefore I would like to give the noble Viscount the assurance that this matter has not been lost sight of, and I am very hopeful that we shall be able to come to some arrangement whereby the difficulty will be overcome. My Lords, there is the position, and I venture to hope that the Bill, as reported to your Lordships' House by the Select Committee, will be passed without Amendments. I therefore beg to move that the Bill be now read a third time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a.—(Lord Ashfield.)

On Question, Bill read 3a, with the Amendments.

Clause 14:

Description of new works.

14. The new works hereinbefore referred to and authorised by this Part of this Act are—

In the Administrative Counties of Middlesex and Hertford:— Work No. 1.—A railway 2 miles 6 furlongs 9 chains or thereabouts in length situate in the Borough of Hendon the Urban District of Harrow the Parish of Elstree in the Rural District of Barnet and the Urban District of Bushey commencing in the Borough of Hendon by a junction with Work No. 37 authorised by the Act of 1936 and terminating in the Urban District of Bushey at or near the junction of Elstree Road with the Watford By-pass.

LORD BROCKET, who had given Notice of Amendments to leave out the paragraph in Clause 14 relating to the proposed new railway in "Work No. 1" and the paragraph in Clause 30 relating to certain lands in the Administrative County of Hertford proposed to be used for works in connection with Work No.1, said: My Lords, after the very able putting forward of the case for the Bill by the noble Lord, Lord Ashfield; it may almost seem that it is wrong for me to get up and say anything against that case, especially as, being a humble shareholder in the Transport Board, I feel so glad that the affairs of the company are in such able hands. A little later I may try to show that if this Bill goes forward with the Amendments in it, the affairs of the Transport Board may in the course of time be improved. Speaking more seriously, and from a more national point of view, these little things cannot be brought into account, and I think before I start to answer some of the noble Lord's points, and also put my own, I ought to say that I am really speaking on behalf of the Hertford branch of the Society for the Preservation of Rural England, and also, perhaps, as a backbench member of the Hertford County Council.

When the Bill was before the House of Commons the Hertford County Council hoped that it might be able to get satisfactory terms. I am not going into lots of small details, because that would require a great deal of time and necessitate the use of maps and other sorts of papers. Suffice it to say that after the Bill went through the other House, the Hertford County Council decided that they would oppose this Bill in Committee in the House of Lords. Your Lordships may ask me why, at this rather late hour, I should propose these Amendments, when I did not oppose the Second Reading or move an instruction to the Committee. Like most such Bills the Second Reading slipped through when I was away, and therefore the Bill was before the Select Committee before I had any chance of doing anything about it. In another place, where I was for a short time, it is quite impossible to move Amendments on Third Reading. I do not mean to quote from the Bible, but perhaps in this House all things are possible. Therefore, after the Bill has passed Third Reading I shall have the temerity to move these Amendments to delete this tube station from the Bill.

As regards the traffic arguments, I cannot, like the noble Lord who has just spoken, claim to have inside knowledge. Quite obviously I am not in such a position as he is. Therefore I will say at once that, from his point of view, and from the point of view of his Board, I think he has a very good case, and he has put it very well. There are two grounds on which I am moving these Amendments. The first is what I call technical and local, and the second is what I call national. To take the technical and local ground first, I am told that in the Select Committee various alternative sites were put forward, and the surveyor was asked if these sites had been surveyed. The answer was that they had not been surveyed. But there surely must be alternative sites nearer the next station on the Underground Railway. That really is not a very good answer to a question, if I may say so, and I would not be here opposing the noble Lord this afternoon if I had not taken the trouble to find an alternative site and have it surveyed. I am afraid this has been done in such a hurry that I have not had the opportunity of consulting with the noble Lord about the site. And without a map I cannot explain to him exactly where it is, except to say that it is nearer the next station.

The Bill proposes an extra length of railway and two stations. The first station I take no exception to whatever. I think it is very good in every way, and it has a good many people round about it. It is the far station or terminal to which I object. I have had the new proposed site surveyed by Mr. Davidge, who is the Town Planning Consultant of Hertfordshire and an eminent surveyor. It is a little further on from the first station, the station nearer London, and it would bear to the right and go near the existing Midland Railway, and on the north of that site is the large area of land on the west side of the railway which is already part of the Green Belt of London.

I do not want to read a lot of documents to your Lordships, but I think I must try to explain Mr. Davidge's views on that site. The site is up against the Midland Railway. On the other side of the Midland Railway there is a part of the country which I think is shortly to be developed, and therefore new passengers can be brought from there. If necessary, the London Passenger Transport Board could loop round to the right the railway we are discussing, and join up with the Midland Railway. I was there yesterday morning walking round. Although I have not the technical knowledge it looks to me to be a flatter site than the site proposed, and, unlike the site proposed, it is neither in the orbit of the Green Belt nor on the side of a bypass road. My surveyor's report says: 1. The minimum radius on both routes equals 3 furlongs. 2. The suggested alternative makes a saving in the total length of the extension of three-quarters of a mile That, I should say, would be to the advantage of the Transport Board. The report goes on: This will effect a considerable saving in the initial cost of construction. 3. The gradients on the alternative route are considerably easier, the maximum gradient being one in 51.6 for Aldenham and 1 in 100 for the alternative route. 4. The length of level track at the end of the line is one and a half furlongs in both cases.

Works necessary. The Aldenham Extension involves twin tunnels, each thirty-one yards long and a cutting of 1½ furlongs at the terminal and a bridge under the Elstree Hill Road. The alternative route only requires two embankments of a minimum height of 15 feet. The works necessary will therefore be considerably less heavy.

General description of alternative route at site for Depot and Terminal Station.

The alternative scheme leaves the Board's route at the site of their proposed Edgware Bury Station at the junction of Edgware Way with the Spur Road. The projected station at Edgware Bury will not therefore be interfered with. The route takes a curve up the valley towards Edgware Bury and terminates in a level site immediately adjacent to the L.M.S. (Midland Railway) line.

I will not go into that further, except to say that, from the point of view of a survey which has been made, this site appears to be an alternative site. It appears also to be nearer the station, which we admit is necessary, and it seems that a depot could be put there at considerably less cost to the Board.

I think the London Passenger Transport Board very likely want a station as well as a depot—I believe that is so. But surely if you have a line which is very congested, you would normally, so to speak, uncongest that line by putting more trains on and more carriages on each train. You would, therefore want a depot to house these carriages. But if you can get that depot on the alternative site, or even on the site which is proposed without a station, surely you will get your extra carriages without congesting the line still more. On that point Mr. Pick, of the London Passenger Transport Board, was asked at the proceedings of the Select Committee how many people a year he expected to get on this new line. His answer was 3,795,000. He was asked the size of the town which he expected would grow up on the line, and he said he expected a town to grow up of up to 34,000 inhabitants in the next few years. If you are going to have nearly 4,000,000 passengers a year on this line from the new stations, and a town of 34,000 inhabitants not only in the middle of the Green Belt, but on the Watford by-pass road, it seems to me as a layman that you are going to congest the existing Underground line even more probably than it is congested at present by bringing all these extra passengers on to it, and you are not going to serve the purpose for which this extension is asked—namely, to relieve congestion. It may be that the Transport Board would say that they have to pay for the line out of the extra traffic they get from the new station, and that may be so, but, on the other hand, the Transport Board, which have been granted a monopoly of the transport of London, are really intended to serve the interests of the nation, and not, if I may say so, only to provide dividends for the shareholders.

If I may come to the other local points, this station is to be put on a cross-road of the Watford By-pass, and I believe the reason why the Transport Board have this land is that in 1903 another company, which they have since taken over, had a good deal of this land to put through a railway in that part of the country, a project which eventually was dropped and became obsolete. Since then, this by-pass road has been built. By-pass roads, one imagines, are built to by-pass existing towns. One also imagines that a road like the Watford By-pass is built to be an exit to the North and to the Midlands from London. Although it may be rather early to mention this, it is hoped at some future time to by-pass St. Albans. There has been a lot of consideration given to the question of a by-pass round St. Albans. It is still, to the detriment of some of the people who live in St. Albans, in rather an initial stage, and it is perhaps not right for me to give a lot of detail about it but I think your Lordships can take it from me that a by-pass round St. Albans has been suggested, and we hope it will go forward. It is also hoped that this by-pass will go round Harpenden, and eventually supply a traffic route to Luton, and also a traffic route to the whole of the Midlands—Birmingham, Coventry and other industrial centres of the Midlands.

I believe it is also suggested that another road should be taken off this bypass to bring traffic on to this very Watford By-pass which we are now considering. At present that traffic goes through St. Albans. If the by-pass round St. Albans is built, it will go along the road to London Colney and through Barnet to the East End of London. The majority of that traffic, if the long view is taken, will go along the Watford Bypass which I and I know other noble Lords agree is too narrow and twisty already. That wants improvement. But the whole of this traffic will go along the Watford By-pass, at any rate in the geographical position it now occupies, and in a few years' time—perhaps eight years, according to the London Transport Board —that should become the High Street of a new town of 35,000 inhabitants. That seems to me, on national road transport grounds, to be against the interests of road transport and of the nation itself.

The noble Lord said I was opposing this Bill on the grounds of amenity. There are other noble Lords here this afternoon who will be able to deal with the matter from that point of view, so I shall rather skip over that. This place where this tube station is to be put is one of the prettiest places in the near vicinity of London. It is near a reservoir where a sanctuary exists for birds. I am very keen on birds myself, but that does not weigh half as strongly with me as the other arguments. One argument which does weigh very strongly with me, and which was to have been put forward by a noble Lord who could have been here last week but is not here this afternoon, is that the Green Belt is a national conception put forward by the London County Council for the good of London and of the nation. Hertfordshire County Council, in conjunction with other authorities, are trying to purchase land for the Green Belt. It is a fact, and in evidence before the Committee it was stated, that land becomes ten times more valuable when a railway or tube comes into the district. It is really impossible to proceed with the Green Belt round that part of London if this tube station goes to this site. The land at present is purely agricultural. I was there yesterday, and I only wish some of my own agricultural land was worth £700 an acre. There is land there which is being negotiated for and it is, as I say, fetching up to £700 an acre. It is quite impossible, in my contention, to proceed with the Green Belt scheme for that part of the Green Belt if this railway goes to that spot as a railway. If it goes to that spot as a depot for carriages, that is a different matter, but no doubt we would in that case have another Bill to convert the depot into a station, so that we should be no better off.

There are one or two other points of view that I feel I should put forward. From the point of view of the whole nation a letter which I had from the Hertfordshire County Council about three clays ago really sums up the position: The Hertfordshire County Council view with deep concern the continual growth of Greater London due to the electrification of railways in undeveloped country. It appears to the County Council that this is now becoming a national question, and that the time has now arrived for Parliament to consider whether the area occupied by Greater London is not already too large and developments in future should be restricted to existing towns. It is not only a question for the Transport Board. It is not only the question of the Green Belt, or the question of Watford By-pass. This question of the growth of London is, in my opinion, most important to the whole country both in time of war and in time of peace. It is also most important from the point of view of employment in the distressed areas.

It may seem to your Lordships that I am going very far away from one individual proposed tube station, but I feel that the House of Lords is a place where matters like this should be raised. When we have a prospect of a new town of 35,000 inhabitants in what is now an undeveloped part of the country, when we have the prospect of a by-pass road which has been built at very great public expense being completely unfitted for the purpose for which it was built, and when we have also the prospect of the Green Belt, which is costing the ratepayers of Hertfordshire, Middlesex and London many thousands, indeed millions of pounds, being interfered with, I feel I would not be doing my duty if I did not raise this question at this time. I do not intend to speak any longer at present. I believe I have the opportunity of replying at the end of the debate, if necessary, but I do hope your Lordships will realise that while from the point of view of the London Passenger Transport Board I agree with everything which the noble Lord has said, I think this is such an important and such a national question that it should be debated fully in this place. I also feel that in due course, before it is too late, the Government of this country will have to express their views on the whole question of the town planning of the nation and particularly of the London district.

Amendment moved— Clause 14, page 42, leave out lines 22 to 33 inclusive.—(Lord Brocket.)


My Lords, as Chairman of the Select Committee to which this Bill was sent, I had an opportunity of listening for several clays to the discussion of its advantages and disadvantages. I am still confident that the Committee took the right course in allowing the Bill to proceed in its present form. If I may say so, the remarks of the noble Lord who has put down this Amendment show very clearly the disadvantages of the unusual procedure he has seen fit to adopt on this occasion. The floor of the House is hardly a convenient or proper place to discuss the technical details of this Bill or to bring forward alternative sites which have not been put before the Committee appointed to go into all these details. It is quite impossible to discuss properly on the floor of this House details of that nature. I can assure the noble Lord that the amenities of the district concerned were very present to the minds of the Committee in reaching their decision. However much we may all regret the continual encroachments of London on the country, we cannot ignore the traffic necessities of the population who want to get to their homes and to the Green Belt. Green Belts are useless unless there are easy means of getting to them.

The evidence before the Committee certainly satisfied me that increased facilities for travel between London and the country on the north-west are very necessary; that full advantage of the scheme which has been already sanctioned by Parliament for linking up the various lines and doubling others cannot be got unless there is improved rolling stock, and more of it; that a double-ended depot is essential for the rapid performance of the daily inspection and cleaning of rolling stock which is so essential a part of any good scheme; and that the only site found after careful survey to be suitable was one at Aldenham. In view of those considerations the Committee could not have been justified in refusing the Aldenham extension in the mere hope that refusal might delay for a few months the further encroachment of town upon country.

We had evidence from a town planning consultant to whom the noble Lord, Lord Brocket, has referred, against the Bill, but that gentleman had prepared an elaborate regional planning report for the Hertfordshire County Council in which the following passage occurs: At the present time it is proposed to extend the Edgware line to Bushey, which will then probably be the terminus. Other improvements in railway service and communications will doubtless be made from time to time, particularly in the immediate neighbourhood of London. Local authorities with town-planning powers have the advantage of being able to accept the benefits brought them by new railway developments while, at the same time, they can control and direct the outburst of building activity usually associated with a new suburban railway. We heard a great deal about the Green Belt, but when it came down to details the Aldenham extension was found not to encroach on any land which had been town planned as a green belt, except at the small overflow pond below the main Aldenham reservoir. That pond has an area, when filled, of about six acres, only an acre and a half of which is in Hertfordshire. Only a part of that small pond will be filled in. The main reservoir of nearly sixty acres will not be touched, and that reservoir is separated by a road and a belt of trees from the pond. Anything put up on the pond would be well screened from the large Aldenham reservoir, and could have no effect on the amenities of that pond. As to the pond itself, the plans before the Committee showed the depot taking about two-thirds of its area. Whilst the Bill was before the Committee I had a look at the site and I was agreeably surprised to see how effectively the depot would be screened from the main reservoir. In view of the suggested Amendment I have since made a closer examination of the site and asked the Board's engineers to show me exactly in detail where the line was going, and I was glad to find that it would be possible to site the line in such a way as to take even less of the water area of the small pond than had been shown on the preliminary plans. I am quite sure that we can rely on the noble Lord, Lord Ashfield, to do whatever is possible in that direction.

If that is done what is the position about these amenities? We shall have the large reservoir of sixty acres untouched, then come to a main road bordering the reservoir along which motor-buses now run; then beyond that you have a belt of trees, then you have some 250 feet of water area stretching away in the distance as against 500 feet at present. Beyond that 250 feet you will have a belt of trees which the Board have undertaken to plant. Then you have the line and the depot coming right up to the Watford By-pass. In fact from the Aldenham green belt side the railway and the depot will be fairly well screened, and they will only be prominent from the Watford By-pass. Then, where the depot and the line come out in the open beyond the pond, they adjoin the Watford By-pass and the Elstree main road, and they do so at a point which, on the latest town planning scheme, has been planned for shops. That particular part is in the Bushey Urban District Council area, and was actually transferred by the Hertfordshire County Council because Bushey was considered to be a more suitable authority for it. Building at that point is, to my mind, quite inevitable whether there is a railway or not, and there seems no reason from our experience of the buildings which have been put up by the Board to anticipate that a station and depot carefully designed by the Board will be any more unsightly than houses and shops put up by speculators.

I am quite sure in my own mind that it will not be right to secure possibly some slight delay in the development of this area by refusing this extension at the cost of postponing the urgent improvement of the travelling facilities on the existing lines. I should just like to read one sentence out of one of those amusing and clever third Leaders in The Times which caught my eye a couple of days ago: Any country botanist will tell you that it is close to the railway embankment, that one-time violation of rural peace, that the rare plant is likely to be found. I ask your Lordships to give this Bill a Third Reading in the form in which the Committee have sent it forward after careful investigation. If the extension ought to have been rejected on grounds such as the noble Lord has brought forward, the proper course was to have moved an instruction to the Committee to strike out this provision and not to have allowed the Committee to waste time in dealing in detail with all the pros and cons of the proposal and forming their judgment on the merits of the evidence put before them. I ask your Lordships in due course to reject the Amendment.


My Lords, I apologise to the noble Lord opposite (Lord Cozens-Hardy) for dealing with a matter which was not before the Committee over which he presided, and to a certain extent I sympathise with his reservations about the nature of this Amendment, but I think he does Lord Brocket an injustice in assuming that his Amendment is purely of a local character. Very great points of principle are raised, and this is the only assembly in Europe in which points of principle of this character can be raised at any stage at which this House, as a deliberative Assembly, is able to consider them.

I listened very carefully to what was said by the noble Lord below me, Lord Ashfield. He told us that millions of money were going to be spent; that he had the agreement of the Treasury and the Transport Board, and, I rather think, of the London County Council; and that the scheme was comprehensive and secured upon a broad basis. But what interested me was, what about Hertfordshire? At the time he referred to Hertfordshire I could see that he was thoroughly bored with Hertfordshire and its bucolic inhabitants. No doubt Hertfordshire is a nuisance, and has been a nuisance to the noble Lord below me. But Hertfordshire has presented a Petition to your Lordships' House about this Bill, and I think two or three sentences of that Petition are worth bringing to the notice, not of the noble Lord, Lord Cozens-Hardy, and his Committee, but of your Lordships as a whole. They say: The site of the station and depot … is dumped; no they say: lies in a purely agricultural area … The proposed railway would … terminate in the open country. It will, in effect, they say, in the course of time create a dormitory town. They say that co-ordination in planning this scheme is not adequate, because it ought to have taken into account the preservation of the amenities as well as the travelling facilities of those whom it is the duty of the Board to serve. Therefore, they say, the proposed terminal site is open to strong criticism.

When they deal with the Green Belt they make an observation which I think perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Cozens-Hardy, ought to have brought to your Lordships' attention. They say that it will militate against the expansion of the Green Belt. It will insert a considerable obstacle to preserving its continuity, and moreover, it will put up the price of the land so high that expansion of the Green Belt will, in future at that point, be impossible. So they protest that it will change the character of the district, and they ask that the matter be carefully considered by your Lordships. "Oh," says Lord Ashfield, "this extension only goes a few hundred yards into Hertfordshire. What is all the fuss about?" Will the noble Lord, Lord Ashfield, before this Bill passes, give an undertaking that the railway will stop at the present line of demarcation? Will he give that undertaking? No, my Lords, he will not.

Let me deal with the question of principle in a few words. I am not going to talk about the actual details of this Bill or of railway fares, but of the very big question which is involved by this almost indiscriminate extension of our railway system from the metropolis into the Home Counties, congesting our new traffic roads made a t the cost of millions, bringing in new towns which are going to sterilise much of the so-called Green Belt, thereby stimulating the development of the unoccupied land within the Green Belt all around the Metropolis, and, in the long run, making our problem ten times more serious than it is to-day. The planning of this Bill does show lack of co-ordination, in spite of what the noble Lord, Lord Ashfield, said. It is casual. It is capricious. What is done to-day in Hertfordshire will be done to-morrow in Essex or in Kent or in Surrey, or in any part of the area which we call the Home Counties. London is steadily extending its borders and encroaching upon the open spaces. The country in which London is interested to-day extends for fifty or sixty or seventy miles. It is that which Parliament ought to try to protect.

But, says Lord Ashfield, we cannot hope to maintain the character of these country districts. The noble Lord, Lord Cozens-Hardy, and indeed the noble Lord, Lord Ashfield, used the word "amenity" several times. To Lord Cozens-Hardy the word "amenity" appears to be a belt of trees. That is not amenity. Amenity is the public health of the coming generation. Unless we can preserve open spaces in and around our towns, the public health of the coming generation is going to be dammed. It has nothing to do with the present Passenger Transport Board, and only in a minor degree with Hertfordshire.

I want to come to what the Government are doing about the Greater London Survey. Lord Ashfield quoted half-a- dozen little authorities who have got planning schemes, but they are not planning schemes which deal with the matter in big regional fashion. They are only little local schemes dealing with local problems in their local areas. What is being done with the Greater London regional planning scheme which we have talked about for years and urged in this House and in another place under three or four Governments? Nothing is done. I want to ask the Government, can they give an undertaking to expedite this work, to give those concerned sufficient money and sufficient driving power to ensure that the scheme shall really be brought to fruition? The position to-day is already serious. If it goes on very much longer it will be little short of disastrous.


My Lords, as an ex-Chairman of the Greater London Regional Planning Committee which is not in existence at the moment, but which the Minister of Health, I understand, desires to be revived, I feel bound to follow my noble friend who has just spoken, and to present a few more considerations as to why it is against the interests not only of London, but also of public policy, to allow these provisions to remain in this Bill. If your Lordships take a map of the London Passenger Transport Area and look at each terminus of the Transport Board's lines, you will see a medley of houses, some of them very poor, some of them quite decent, but representing a vast new population spread round each terminus. And what proof have we that this new terminus will not be exactly the same as the others? Look at Edgware, the present terminus of the line. That was virgin country before Morden and Edgware were connected by the extensions at the Hampstead and Clapham ends of the line. The same thing applies to any terminus of the Transport Board's lines, or indeed of main line branch extensions. Therefore, it will be natural, in the ordinary course of events, that this new terminus will destroy the amenities of the country round about.

But there is a further national aspect of this question. Are we going to allow London to sprawl all over the Home Counties? It is high time that there was a stop to the spread of London. The more London spreads the greater are the problems before the London Passenger Transport Board, and I should have thought my noble friend Lord Ashfield had enough problems already without creating new ones by the proposals he has put before your Lordships' House this afternoon. The real trouble, to my mind, is that if we allow this proposal to go forward, there is no reason why other proposals in a Bill introduced next year should not be allowed to go forward It is time that Parliament put a stop to this constant sprawl, and I would appeal to the noble Viscount the Leader of the House, if he is so inclined, to answer the questions put by my noble friend Lord Crawford just now. It is really a question of public policy which we have to decide.

Then as regards the Green Belt. I have been working at the Green Belt ever since 1927, and I regret to say that my efforts have not in the main been very successful. That, however, is all the more reason why, as time goes on, the powers that be should enable that problem to be solved. The longer you wait, the more expensive the land becomes and the greater its distance from Charing Cross. You want a Belt round London to prevent the spoiling of London and to prevent the adjoining towns on the other side of the Belt from coming into London. Does this House realise that between 1921 and 1931 the population between the Administrative County of London and the boundary of the London Traffic Area increased by 1,006,000? Do we want London to hold another 1,000,000 people before the next Census? If we do not put a stop to the growth of London, there will be even more than 1,000,000 extra by the time the next Census is taken. It seems to me that London is quite big enough already for any economic purpose. Surely we ought to try to persuade the population not to come to London but to go to other parts of the country which are at the present time in crying need of work and in which work could be given to them on the principle that work was given in those areas in the past. In other words, we ought to try to encourage the repopulation of the depressed areas with useful employment, rather than to overload London and Greater London with more people and therefore with a risk of greater unemployment in London in the future than in the past.

Then there is a further very important subject which we ought to bear in mind at all times. The greater the mass of people congregated together in the comparatively small area of Greater London, the greater is the difficulty of defence should any nation try to attack us by air. You are making it more difficult for the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence if you put more people into this restricted area. I could mention a great many other points on the national aspect, but I think I have mentioned enough to show that it is time that a halt was called to the unrestricted development of the built-up areas of Greater London, and that for the sake of health and amenities and for many other reasons we should proceed, without any more delay, to put a permanent Green Belt round London. I would take this opportunity of putting it to the Government whether they would not regard this as a national matter and help the County Councils concerned to attain the object at which for so long we have aimed but which we have never attained, because on account of these extensions of railways and the like, up goes the value of land and down goes the amount of land reserved for open space. I would plead with the Government to take this matter into very serious consideration and thus strive to help those local authorities, whom I have served for a good many years, to solve the almost impossible problem of providing open spaces at an economic rate, to the benefit not only of the County Councils concerned but also of the nation, and of the capital of the Empire in particular.


My Lords, may I recall the House's attention to the position in which we are? We have reached the Third Reading of a Bill which, so far as we are concerned with it now, provides for the extension of a line to enable the London Passenger Transport Board to cure great congestion on two lines known as the Edgware line and the Stanmore line, main arteries of traffic by which people may go to the West End, or to the City for their business affairs, from this part of the North of London. By this Amendment you are asked to reject the extension, so that the railway may be laid in some other direction and place. If the extension is rejected, however, it would mean that this terrible congestion about which the newspapers are writing every day remains. If this Bill were sent back for consideration by the Committee, no Parliamentary Notices for the next suggested line have been given, and it could not be put into the Bill and would be altogether out of order. The only authority that I have to address your Lordships is that I was a member of the original Joint Committee of the two Houses which set up the London Passenger Transport Board, and I have been Chairman of the Committees considering every Bill brought into the other place affecting the London Passenger Transport Board until this year. Such knowledge as I have is therefore official knowledge, and I have no other interest in what I am going to say.

But I say without hesitation or fear of contradiction that I have discovered two things. One is that, after the provision of a good water supply and good sanitation, the most vital need of London is cheap transport. The London Passenger Transport Board was set up for the very purpose of obtaining cheap transport, and was set up in its special form as a public utility body so that this object might be attained at the lowest possible expense. Lord Ashfield, as a pioneer of traffic in London, has nobly set himself to work to accomplish that object, and he has brought to his gigantic task every modern appliance, every new invention, every new device that could be thought of or is known of to bring about easy junction between one means of transport and another. All the changes that have been brought about by the various Bills effect economy in junctions, and that kind of thing, to bring about cheap transport. I am not going to refer too long to what has already been said about how the Government came to his help with a loan of £40,000,000 at a low rate of interest, and how this portion of the Bill which we are considering deals with a portion of that loan, £13,000,000, which is to be expended in the improvement of this means of transport in what is called the north part of London.

The essential part with which we are concerned is what is called the Stanmore line. The other line to the East of it comes from Finchley. Those two parts join and they go up to Edgware. When it is thought to put this scheme into operation with the newest appliances and the newest form of carriage, it is discovered that they cannot get a satisfactory place for the renewing and marshalling of this particular form of traffic for these two lines without putting it alongside the extended line. It is of absolute necessity to carry out these schemes for relieving the terrible congestion which such papers as the Evening Standard are full of, and which goes on almost every day and night from Stanmore and East Finchley to and from the City. The scheme which the Transport Board are bringing forward will increase the carrying capacity on one line by 40 per cent., and will get the passenger traffic more evenly divided. It increases the number of trains by something like fourteen or fifteen a day, and brings passenger traffic direct to every part of London. Is this all to be held up? Why should it be held up? Why should this scheme be massacred and, as it were, deformed by cutting off the essential part, because this is the only place they have been able to discover where this ground can be found for marshalling all this new rolling stock. We shall be doing a great injustice to traffic and to locomotion in London if this Bill is rejected.


My Lords, I do not profess to be an expert on this matter, and I shall not venture to detain you for more than a moment, but I have had a large number of representations made to me on the subject, and I have studied it quite impartially. As far as I can judge I think the arguments are almost overwhelmingly against allowing this Bill to pass in its present form. Let me give a couple of reasons why I take that view. The last speaker suggested that those who were opposing the Bill were not aware of, or were not prepared to relieve, the congestion which existed. I have never heard that suggestion at all. Everyone accepts the figures stated by the London Transport Board, which are, I think, that in the rush hours there were only 5,000 seats for 13,000 passengers. No one denies the congestion, or that it ought to be relieved, but I am not sure that the proposal now before this House is going to relieve it.

Lord Crawford pointed out that this is merely the beginning of attracting more people, and not fewer, into the area. It is not only the vicious circle, but it is always increasing the very trouble which you are seeking to cure. It has been argued, I believe, that this matter should not have been raised on the Third Reading, that the Bill has passed the Committee stage, and that the kind of objections which are now being raised ought to have been before the Committee. If I am correctly informed there is an alternative site. One of the greatest town planners in the Empire, who assisted me in India, informs me that there is another site in every way more suitable, which does not destroy the amenity values of the countryside in the way which this proposal does. This particular site of which I am going to speak is just beyond Boreham Wood, in the Elstree district. There are forty acres, and it does not strike at the very heart of the Green Belt. If your Lordships were to look at the map you would see that the proposal of the London Transport Board carries a long lane down an arterial road right into the very heart of the Green Belt. If, on the other hand, the object of the London Transport Board is to find housing for some 550 additional coaches, in order to relieve the congestion, that can be done equally well, and my advisers say very much better, at this other site near Boreham Wood, which will give additional facilities to an area which does want them—namely, in Elstree, where there are studios and so on.

Sometimes we are apt to forget that people want to get out of London as well as come into it, and if you are going to build along all the arterial roads the wretched people in London who want to get out easily cannot do so, except by train. We want them to be in the open air and to be able to get out into the country by means of cars and bicycles. Now you are going to prevent this by building along your arterial roads. This is not merely my fancy, but a series of examples have been prepared which show the appalling effect each time the kind of thing is done which it is now proposed to do. We find great new cities growing up which have no end. And I would add one other social argument of a general character. I had an opportunity of hearing a great deal about the general effects of the rapid urbanisation of areas like Dagenham. There are no churches, no leadership or control, and we are developing this kind of horizontalism of the social strata all round London. I would add my plea to that put forward by Lord Crawford and Lord Brocket that we should call a halt at sometime. This is an opportunity for calling a halt without preventing that relief of the traffic which we all admit is necessary in particular cases. I ask Lord Ashfield whether he will not, even at this eleventh hour, consider the possibility of this other site, which would give him the necessary facilities without interference with the amenities of the countryside and with the Green Belt, which I believe would be a great disaster.


My Lords, it is my privilege to make my first speech in your Lordships' House, and although I have ma de speeches in another place I still claim your indulgence, for no one, I apprehend, can fail to feel some difficulty in addressing for the first time an Assembly which has played so vital a part in the history of the country. And equally nobody, I think, would fail to feel some anxiety to maintain the high level of cool and wise judgment which has always been characteristic of this Assembly. This afternoon we are dealing with a topic which is not one of those points of high policy with which statesmen are constantly confronted to-day, but nevertheless it is a great question of public policy. The noble Earl, Lord Crawford, talked of it as a matter which had to be settled as a policy for the whole country. I think myself that in different circumstances that would be the case, but it is impossible for us to settle a great point of public policy, with which the Government has been asked to deal, on a Private Bill, and a Private Bill which has been presented under the conditions which exist to-clay, and before that great change in public policy has been devised. As I understand, a Commission is about to sit upon a cognate problem, that is to say, a problem as to the distribution of industries in this country. The Government have not, as far as I know, committed to that body the duty of discovering how to control population or to spread the population from a great town. But it may be that, arising out of the discussion to-day, some consideration may be given to that also.

On another ground this is a great point of policy. It is a question of high moment to this great Metropolis, and we have to remember that London, broadly speaking, is the heart and soul of our Empire. It is the centre to which people come from all the ends of the earth, and from every shore of the sea. It is of vast importance that London should be adequately supplied with every facility for the comfort of its people, and also for the comfort of its visitors. As the noble Lord below me said a moment ago, transport is one of the most essential of all the conveniences which the people require, and I am sure that nobody who has any imagination can fail to be startled by the fact that London's millions from day to day come to their work and are taken back home again with an efficiency which is not surpassed in any city in the world. Now that has been achieved, not by idleness, but by careful thought and by prudent foresight. Our arrangements to-day are so smooth because the London Passenger Transport Board, and those who were previously the managers of this great concern, have always anticipated the public demand. Some noble Lords have referred to the spread of railways as if it were a case of creating new populations, but, in order to avoid congestion, one has to foresee where the new populations will settle down, and one of the things for which my noble friend Lord Ash field has been distinguished has been in foreseeing what the needs of the community were.

I sympathise with what was said to-day by the noble Lords, Lord Crawford and Lord Brocket, but it seems to me that, so far as this Bill is concerned, these considerations are brought forward too late. In the first place, let me remind your Lordships that a railway was projected on these lands so far back as 1903, and indeed to-day the London Passenger Transport Board is in possession of some of the land which was granted under those original powers. Those powers lapsed because they were not needed at that time. We come on to 1934. Development in this district was obviously foreseen as early as 1934, because this district of Aldenham was taken out of the hands of the Rural Council of Watford and put into the keeping of the Urban District Council of Bushey. Why was that done? It was done for the reason that the Urban District Council was in possession of resources which would enable it to "town-plan" and provide the necessary roads and sewers in anticipation that a community was going to grow up there. It is idle, it seems to me, now to say that on this Private Bill, and without any declaration of general Government policy in this matter, you are going to stop this movement.

My noble friend Lord Crawford spoke of Hertfordshire objecting to the setting up of some dormitory community in its midst, but if London does not have these dormitories where are you going to put the people who would otherwise be occupying them? You must provide the accommodation for these people, and inasmuch as you have not already got a Government plan you must go on with schemes to meet the conditions which at present exist. I have great sympathy with Hertfordshire. The loveliness of Hertfordshire is known to everybody, but there have been many lovely districts round London which have been mopped up by the City, and I do not think it is quite fair of Hertfordshire to take all the advantages of the proximity of this immense market, and at the same time say: "We refuse to accept your people to sleep among us." I think myself that, so far as this Bill is concerned, to try to stop the outrush of the people of London, who must have accommodation, is like the old illustration of trying to sweep back the sea. What are you going to do with the sea if you keep it back? And that is a problem with which noble Lords will be faced who support this Amendment. What is their constructive policy for dealing with the people who would otherwise be living there—the new homes that would be erected for them under the auspices of this town planning scheme of the Urban District Council of Bushey?

So far as I am concerned, I see no solution at the moment, and I see no solution until the Government deal with this in a very large way, not confined merely to London but as a measure which is going to affect the whole country at large. I am not personally interested in this matter. Although I am Chairman of a great railway, I have no personal interest in this scheme at all, but at the same time I know what the difficulties of railways are, and it is unimaginable that this new scheme can be operated unless land, to the extent which has been found at Aldenham, is put under the control of the London Passenger Transport Board for the purposes of a depot, for doing running repairs, and for generally operating the railway. And everything would be imperilled which the London and North-Eastern Railway is trying to do to-day if such a depot as that is not made available for the London Passenger Transport Board.

And also there would follow another very ill consequence of the rejection of this measure at the present time, and that is a continuance of the congestion in these local trains which already has become a matter of great public difficulty. This is a problem of real gravity. If you had not been able to deal with the transport of London as has been done in the past, if matters had been managed in a more slip-shod way, if less sagacity and foresight had been displayed be those who manage these communications, then I confidently believe that a deep discontent would have arisen from the social upheavals which would have greatly disturbed this community. So far as transport is concerned, I consider that has made for the comfort and contentment of our people in this great Metropolis at the present time.

I finish by saying this. You have the lessons of the past in this district, you have the complete support of the Urban District Council of Bushey and the support of the Middlesex County Council, and you have had a very careful examination by a Committee of your Lordships' House. Lord Cozens-Hardy has shown how carefully the whole of this matter was reviewed by that Committee. In these circumstances, while looking forward, as I am sure most of your Lordships do, to some action by the Government which will envisage the whole question of the distribution of population in the not remote future, nevertheless to-day I give my complete adherence to the passage of this Bill on Third Reading.


My Lords, may I be allowed to say a word from this side of the House? Let me begin by congratulating the noble Viscount on the very forceful speech he has made and telling him he has not disappointed those of us who looked forward to hearing his maiden speech in this House. That does not alter the fact that I entirely disagree with almost every word that he said. In a very few words I propose to put to your Lordships why it is necessary not to take the advice of the noble Viscount, Lord Home, and to accept the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Brocket. I wish to put the matter as concisely as possible. I gather that one of the objections to taking this action is that this Bill has been before a Select Committee of this House. Constitutionally, I think I am right in saving—the Chairman of Committees will no doubt correct me—that does not take away our right to amend the Bill. With all respect to the members of the Select Committee, facts may be brought before your Lordships' House which might not have been presented to the Select Committee quite so well as they might have been, and other reasons may have arisen which made an Amendment necessary. I am not speaking in this matter officially for the Party to which I have the honour to belong, but I have consulted a number of my honourable friends in another place and noble friends here, and we feel there is a strong case for reconsideration of the proposals of the London Passenger Transport Board.

While the case for a depot for extra coaches is admitted, why it should be in this particular place I fail to be convinced. Why is it necessary also to make a passenger station? This is a matter, I submit, which really concerns the Government. Why is it necessary to allow the London Passenger Transport Board to go into the open country and stimulate and encourage a new community to grow up? That, I submit, is the heart of the case. If there were an existent community crying out for transport—yes, by all means they must have their station and these facilities. But here you are going into almost virgin country, and the moment it is known there is going to be a passenger station, not a depot, the land speculators come along like vultures, the jerry-builders get busy, and we have one of those sprawling dormitory towns springing up, which again congests the very line that it is intended to clear. If you extend an already overcrowded line into open country and stimulate a new great town into existence, you make the congestion worse.

With all respect to an old colleague of mine, Lord Home, I must say I do not think even Lord Ashfield would claim that the transport arrangements of London are perfect. He is doing his best, we know, and there is no hostility to him or his work or his Board, but when the noble Viscount talks of the slipshod transport we might have had but for the London Passenger Transport Board, I must reply that in this Metropolis the transport arrangements, taken as a whole, are chaotic and disgraceful. I am sure that if the noble Viscount travelled in the rush hour on the Underground he would agree with me, and he would not be quite so complacent. I had to do it last week when the car which I usually use was laid up. I wish Lord Home had shared my experience. We are both men of some stature physically, and we should have found it extremely difficult both to get into the same coach on that occasion.

My other point is this. Why is this station going to be built on a by-pass? Why is it necessary to put a new passenger station down on a by-pass? The London Transport Board did that on the Great Western Road, quite deliberately, and nobody stopped them. They put a station down there which has led to great congestion already. Now they are proposing to put one on the Watford By-pass. I suppose we shall then have to make another by-pass to by-pass the present by-pass, and get over the congestion which will be deliberately created. This land belonged to the London Transport Board. They got it by accident, so to speak, by taking over another company. That is admitted. Obviously, as it belonged to them, it was the most suitable site in their view. What happens on the road does not keep them awake at nights very much. The London Passenger Transport Board was born out of the brain of a member of my own Party, and his scheme was implemented by his successors. We naturally look forward to its success in the future and have great confidence in it, but there is evidence in this particular case, I submit, that the policy of the London Passenger Transport Board has not been completely co-ordinated with the wider national policy that is still in process of formation and which was advocated by the noble Marquess, Lord Aberdeen, in the speech he gave us a little time ago. For these reasons, I submit, this matter should be reconsidered and the Amendment accepted.


My Lords, I do not wish to trouble your Lordships with any observations on the merits or demerits of this Amendment, but perhaps I may be allowed to say a few words on the practice and procedure in your Lordships' House in regard to Amendments moved on Third Reading of Private Bills. In the first place, may I say just one word in reply to what my noble friend Lord Brocket said about the Second Reading of this Bill? He said that the Second Reading slipped through. Those of your Lordships who are familiar with our practice regarding the Second Reading of Private Bills will hesitate to agree with that statement. Private Bills awaiting Second Reading are always allowed to stand on the Paper for some time. If it is desired by any noble Lord to make any observations on the Second Reading, then it is usual for him to notify me or my Office, because then I do not move the Bill formally. I do not take responsibility for the merits of Bills on Second Reading, and when any noble Lord has any observations to make, and I am informed, the promoters are told that they must find a Peer to defend their Bill. In this case I waited the usual time and then moved the Second Reading, confident that there was no noble Lord who wished to make any observations. That, of course, was the moment when it would have been possible and right to move an instruction to the Committee on the Bill.

My noble friend behind me, Lord Crawford, and the noble Lord opposite, Lord Strabolgi, have said, rightly and truly, that your Lordships' House can at any stage of the Bill make any alteration or amendment that your Lordships wish. Your Lordships are all powerful, and your Lordships can do whatever you choose in regard to Bills at any stage. This, therefore, is a right and proper proposal to put before your Lordships. But in saying that I would like also to say that it is most unusual for your Lordships to override a decision of a Select Committee by introducing an Amendment to a Bill on Third Reading. Indeed I would say this, that it is not only unusual but, as far as I can find out, it is unprecedented. I cannot find a precedent where a Private Bill has been amended on Third Reading after the point has been considered in Committee. I would like, as I see my noble friend Lord Midleton is here and he might think I was not quite accurate, to refer your Lordships to a debate which took place on July 21, 1931. On that occasion a Surrey County Council Bill came before your Lordships on Third Reading. The noble Earl, Lord Midleton, moved an Amendment but that Amendment had not been fought in the Committee stage. My noble friend will corroborate what I say. The Amendment came before your Lordships without having been considered in Committee, and your Lordships adopted the Amendment, but that was not upsetting a decision of a Committee of your Lordships' House.

There is another illustrative point to be drawn from that same Bill. My noble friend Lord Jessel moved an Amendment to the Bill. That Amendment was quite different from the one moved by the noble Earl, Lord Midleton. It had been considered in Committee and was a Committee point. It is curious that the Chairman of that Committee should have been the noble Earl, Lord Wemyss, whose death we have had to deplore within the last few days. The noble Earl, Lord Wemyss, was a familiar figure for many years in your Lordships' House and a very active participant in our proceedings. Perhaps he was best known for his confidence and skill in acting as Chairman of Committees on Private Bills. He also sat on Committees dealing with other Bills. He was a very notable Chairman; in fact in his time the most notable Chairman of your Lordships' House. Therefore I would venture to recommend his opinion to your Lordships on this matter.

On that occasion Lord Wemyss said: I said that it was a very rare and unusual course to try to revise the decision of a Committee of your Lordships' House. Happily, I say it advisedly, it is very rarely done. Your Lordships appoint a Committee knowing that the Committee will hear the evidence and report upon it. Your Lordships know that their decision will be fairly given and your Lordships endorse those decisions without question. In the same debate the noble Viscount, who I regret is not in his place, Lord Ullswater, used these words: … this House as well as the other House sets up Committees to whom it entrusts semi-judicial functions for that particular purpose, and it seems to me extraordinarily undesirable that this House should take upon itself the duties which it has already committed to others. To begin with, we do not hear the evidence, we do not see the witnesses, we are not furnished with affidavits, and we have no sufficient means of judging of the merits of the case. Our decisions must be arrived at upon ex parte statements without cross-examination, and I do feel most strongly that the House ought to support the temporary … Lord Chairman. That was my noble friend Lord Stanmore.

I would like further—I hope I am not wearying your Lordships—to quote the noble Earl, Lord Wemyss, in the same speech from which I have already quoted. He said: The Committees of your Lordships' House enjoy the confidence of your Lordships. I have been continually told outside by those best able to judge that there is no tribunal before whom justice can be better obtained than a House of Lords' Committee. Your Committees have done, and are doing, good work. There is only one thing that can prejudice their credit and destroy the confidence of their members and make them unwilling to serve. That is if, without due cause, their decisions are challenged and reviced in your Lordships' House. I would recommend the statements and the quotations which I have given from two noble Lords who, perhaps I may without exaggeration say, were at the time—and indeed the noble Viscount. Lord Ullswater, is now—the best authorities that could be quoted on this particular question. I therefore would recommend them to your Lordships.

The noble Lord, Lord Cozens-Hardy, who was Chairman of the Committee, has given your Lordships a very careful and reasoned speech detailing the grounds on which his Committee acted. I may say that this Committee, which sat under his Chairmanship, Was a very strong Committee indeed. Therefore I would venture to ask your Lordships to think very carefully indeed before you take the step—I think the unprecedented step —of revising the considered opinion of a Committee which has gone into the point during several days and has had the advantage of counsel, witnesses and affidavits, and has seen the maps and plans. In addition, I think the noble Lord, Lord Cozens-Hardy, said that he had also visited the site and studied the matter with the utmost care. I hope your Lordships will think very carefully before accepting this Amendment.

There is one other point which perhaps I ought to mention to your Lordships because there may be some confusion. My noble friend Lord Brocket, my noble friend Lord Lloyd and, I think, other noble Lords, mentioned the question of an alternative site. I ought to explain to your Lordships—probably your Lordships already know—that it is not the practice of Committees to consider the merits of alternative sites unless they come within the Bill and are brought before the Committee in that way. The reason is obvious. Elaborate notices under your Lordships' Standing Orders have to be given in the newspapers and elsewhere of the proposals contained in every Private Bill so that persons who wish to object can come forward and petition against the proposals. In the case of an alternative site like this, there could have been no such notices, so that no one could object to it; and the arguments against it could not be laid before the Committee. There are no means, therefore, of enabling a Committee to judge as to the merits of such an alternative site. I think I ought to make it clear that it was impossible for such a site to be placed before the Committee, and indeed it could not be placed before a Committee unless the usual steps had been taken of giving the notices required under our Private Bill Procedure. Again, I hope your Lordships will think very carefully before you adopt a course which has not been adopted before—at any rate not for very many years—by your Lordships' House.


My Lords, I may perhaps in a few words make the position of the Government plain. The Minister of Transport is not responsible for the policy and management of the London Transport Board, nor has he any power to require the Board to provide new or improved facilities and services. Such jurisdiction as exists in regard to facilities and services was vested by Parliament in the statutory official tribunal to whom local authorities have a right to apply. Having said that, the Government feel that the Board have been and are doing their utmost to meet these transport problems. As the noble Lord, Lord Ashfield, told your Lordships, in 1935 the Board undertook a scheme of works involving the expenditure of no less than £40,000,000. The Government have agreed to guarantee a loan of that £40,000,000 and have passed the necessary legislation through Parliament.

The Morden-Edgware line is one which has presented problems of special difficulty. The Board have already increased the accommodation of this line during the peak hours to the maximum possible in the present circumstances. By the provision of new and improved rolling stock and by resignalling they will be able to provide forty per cent. additional seating accommodation on this line. The doubling of the London and North-Eastern Railway Company's line to Edgware and the linking of the railway and the Board's tubes and also the linking of the Bakerloo line at Finchley Road with the old Metropolitan line to Stanmore will do very much to relieve congestion. The proposed extension to Aldenham to which exception has been taken is considered by the Board to be essential, in that depot accommodation must be found at or about Edgware for the large quantity of new rolling stock which will be employed. These question were examined very fully and most carefully in Committee, as your Lordships have been told. The finding of the Committee was that the Bill ought to be allowed to proceed subject to clauses being added to it to carry out undertakings given by the promoters. As the noble Earl, the Lord Chairman, said just now, your Lordships would, I suggest, wish to think very carefully before challenging the finding of the Committee. The undertakings given by the Board will confine interference with the amenities within the narrowest possible limits. I may also remind your Lordships that the Bushey Urban District Council are not opposing, but have pressed for this work.

As regard the Watford By-pass, there is no reason to apprehend that the authorities concerned will permit of any form of development which is likely to convert the Watford By-pass into a High Street, as they have power to prevent this under the Town and Country Planning Act and the Restriction of Ribbon Development Act. The view of the Government, holding the position they do, is that the necessity for the proposed extension and depot has been established, and that to refuse the necessary powers would delay and might even jeopardise the whole scheme of urgently needed improvements. In these circumstances the Government venture to hope that your Lordships will uphold the decision of the Select Committee and allow the Bill to pass without Amendment.


My Lords, I hesitate to trespass further on your Lordships' time, but I should like to be permitted to say one or two words on certain matters raised in this debate. As regards the site suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Brocket, I should like to say that I personally saw that site, that I have had it surveyed by the Board's engineers, and that it is wholly inadequate to meet the requirements of the Board. The suggestion made by the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, is of a rather different character. It is that the railway should be sited in a quite different direction and that it should go into the Boreham Wood district, not the Elstree district. I am not suggesting that there is the slightest connection between the two, but it so happens that some little time ago the Transport Board was approached by those interested in land in Boreham Wood with the suggestion that we should build a railway in that district.


I hope it is quite clearly understood that I have no interest of any kind in the matter.


I prefaced what I am now saying by stating that there was no possible connection between the two things, but I can speak of this suggestion with some knowledge, because we were approached—it illustrates the difficulty of dealing with the matter in this way—by people owning land with the suggestion that we should build a railway there. But the Board pointed out that there is already a railway in that district, the London, Midland and Scottish Railway, and that when that railway is electrified the people there will have an adequate service. If the Board built a railway in this district it would be duplicating that service.


I think the noble Lord has missed the point. The point was that if equal facilities for the coaches could be found there, that proposition ought to be examined.


It is not simply a question of providing facilities for rolling stock, but of building a railway in an area where facilities are required as well as where facilities exist for rolling stock. The noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, asked a pertinent question: Why build a station on the Watford By-pass? The answer is that the station is built for the comfort and convenience of the people using the railway. You cannot build a station in an out-of-the-way place where people cannot approach it.


Is it really suggested that all these future new stations are going to be built on by-passes? When steam railways were built, the stations were put away from the main roads and there were approach roads.


My noble friend seems to misunderstand the purpose of the Underground railways. Their function is different from that of the main line railways. We must build stations at points convenient to the public. These railways are to be used by the public in substitution for road services. If the stations are not in convenient positions they will not be used and congestion on the roads will be greatly increased.


If my noble friend the Earl of Onslow will forgive me, I think he went a little beyond his brief in one remark he made regarding the discussion in this House of a Private Bill six years ago. My noble friend said that to make a change in this way would be unprecedented.


I beg my noble friend's pardon. I said it would be unprecedented when a Select Committee had made a decision. In the case of the Bill some years ago, the point was not considered in Committee. That is the difference.


I accept the noble Earl's explanation, but I remember that on that occasion my noble friend told your Lordships' House that it would be unprecedented if a Bill which had passed through Committee were amended in a particular respect by your Lordships. As a matter of fact, the Amendment which was moved was to ensure that landed property should not be seized unreasonably. That word "unreasonably" has helped in a large number of cases before the Courts to prevent matters which might have been very serious for landowners. I only wish to point out that the noble Earl on that occasion took something like the same position, but we were fortunate enough to defeat him on a Division.


I really must correct my noble friend. On that occasion I took no part in the debate. I was connected with Surrey. It was just after the time at which your Lordships did me the honour to appoint me to the position I now hold. I was a Petitioner in Parliament and a supporter of the noble Earl. In those circumstances it was impossible for me to take part in the debate, and my noble friend Lord Stanmore, who had acted as deputy for my predecessor, and does so at present for myself, took my place as Acting Chairman of Committees. The distinction which I ventured to draw between the two Amendments moved on the Surrey County Council Bill was, I am afraid, incorrectly explained by me. The one which my noble friend the Earl of Midleton moved, was not considered in Committee. On that occasion the noble Earl, Lord Wemyss, said: My Committee had nothing whatever to do with this clause, for it was settled before it came to us, or it was an unopposed clause… My noble friend with his usual eloquence persuaded your Lordships, but it was not against the decision of the Committee. The Amendment of my noble friend Lord Jessel was withdrawn. Your Lordships did not support it, and it was strongly opposed by the noble Earl, Lord Wemyss, on the ground that it had been turned down by the Committee.


My Lords, I hope your Lordships will forgive me for intervening, hut, as Bishop of St. Albans, Hertfordshire comes, together with Bedfordshire, under my jurisdiction, and this question of London pouring down into Hertfordshire is one of great concern from every point of view to myself and those who are responsible for supplying the spiritual needs of the people who come in. We have, of course, already had to meet those needs. We were told, I think by the noble Lord who spoke just now, that we must not be selfish. I do not think that Hertfordshire is selfish. We have welcomed the newcomers and have really tried to do everything we can for them. Hertfordshire has put up a very considerable amount of money to look after them. It is not that at all, but we believe that a line must be drawn somewhere. If you are going to allow—and I have no doubt that this is the Government's business, because it is a national affair—people to pour down into Hertfordshire, I suppose they will continue to pour in until they get into Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire and all the other counties round. I do not know where you are going to stop.

It seems to me that the difficulty here is in procedure. The noble Viscount, Lord Onslow, kindly informed us just now about the procedure in the Select Committee. I am very glad this question has been brought forward now, for it was not brought forward before. If I understood him correctly, the noble Viscount said that it was quite impossible to bring this alternative site before the Select Committee, because they had not got it before them and therefore could not consider it. All that they could consider was the site that was suggested to them. I do not yet know how this question could have been brought before the Select Committee, but if it was not brought before the Select Committee, then it seems to me that it ought to be brought before the House subsequently. I am told on good authority that there certainly is another site which might be an alternative site. If the procedure of your Lordships' House is such that a Select Committee on a matter like this, under a Private Bill, cannot consider an alternative site, then a great difficulty arises, and it ought to be considered—as it has been considered. None of us is objecting to the general principle, but we are objecting to this particular site, and we believe that another site can be found, even if it is at the eleventh hour. This is a very important question for a large number of people and, I believe, from a national point of view. If the Government can help in some way, I hope they will help.


My Lords, I intervene only to say that, in spite of the procedure, an alternative site was brought forward before the Committee by the gentleman who, I understand, is now suggesting another alternative site. When, however, that alternative site which was suggested to the Committee was examined by the experts, it was found quite unsuitable and was rejected.


My Lords, so far as I understand, the Committee cannot consider another site unless it is brought before them after due notice has been given to the owners of the property. They cannot consider whether other sites are possible, but only whether they will throw the Bill out, or that part of the Bill which affects the site. There seem to be two alternatives. The first is to delay for eighteen months or two years the consideration of another site. This means that the congestion on the railway, which is already so great, will remain. On the evidence that we have heard, two noble Lords who have spoken this afternoon could not even get into the same compartment at certain times of the day. They do not want to, but they will not be able to for another eighteen months. Meanwhile the population is streaming into London and has to live somewhere. The community has therefore to face saying: "No, you cannot come to London, where we can offer you wages but cannot offer you beds, because we have congested the railways and we cannot build more houses." The alternative—which seems to me the only course you can adopt—is to accept the present proposals, which, after all, have been approved by a number of your Lordships, having been considered adequately, and under the usual procedure, and found to give the proper accommodation. It seems to me that the other problem, that of whether you can stop the growth of London, is quite a different one. It would be a terrible thing to congest the railways for another eighteen months in these circumstances.


My Lords, I do not intend to take more than a few moments in answering one or two statements. I was delighted to hear the noble Lord, Lord Ashfield, say that railways should be put at points convenient to the public, because I was told yesterday that only one house has been built since the War within a mile and a quarter! Therefore I am in entire agreement with Lord Ashfield on that point. To speak once more of congestion, we all agree with the noble Lord that we should have a depot for extra carriages and relieve congestion. Where we do not agree with him is in the statement of Mr. Pick, the General Manager of the Transport Board, that in due course—which he calls four or five years—there will be 3,795,000 extra people a year on this railway from this site. How that is going to relieve congestion on existing railways, I do not know whether any of your Lordships can tell me, but I certainly do not know.

I am only going to put forward one other point, and that is that this site—which seems to be very elusive, because we cannot produce a map here—is the same site as that mentioned by Lord Lloyd and that it had not been surveyed by Mr. Davidge before the Select Committee; in fact, that he had not had instructions to survey it and so it had not been surveyed. It has been surveyed since, and, purely

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.


I beg to move that the Bill do now pass.

Moved, That the. Bill do now pass.—(Lord Ashfield.)

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

as a layman, I should say that its levels and its area are quite as good as those of the other site. I will not say that they are better, or exaggerate in any way, but the acreage is quite enough and the levels are, if anything, more level—if you know what I mean. This site is considerably nearer the station which we agreed should be put down, one station further than Edgware. I do not know whether it would be reasonable for me to ask the mover of the Third Reading of the Bill if his Bill could be postponed for a fortnight to enable his surveyor and Mr. Davidge to go into this subject further. I do not know whether that would be at all possible.

On Question, Whether the words proposed to be left out shall stand part of the clause?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 52; Not-Contents, 24.

Hailsham, V. (L. Chancellor.) Mersey, V. McGowan, L.
Samuel, V. Melchett, L.
Halifax, V. (L. President.) Mottistone, L.
Ailwyn, L. Mount Temple, L.
De La Warr, E. (L. Privy Seal.) Ashfield, L. Newton, L.
Bethell, L. Palmer, L.
Butler of Mount Juliet, L. (E. Carrick.) Phillimore, L.
Albemarle, E. Portal, L.
Bessborough, E Cautley, L. [Teller.] Rea, L.
Clarendon, E. Cozens-Hardy, L. Redesdale, L.
Drogheda, E. Daryngton, L. Southborough, L.
Graham, E. (D. Montrose.) Denman, L. Stanley of Alderley, L.(L. Sheffield.)
Howe, E. [Teller.] Fermanagh, L. (E. Erne.)
Iveagh, E. Gainford, L. Stanmore, L.
Lucan, E. Hare, L. (E. Listowel.) Stonehaven, L.
Onslow, E. Hirst, L. Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.
Radnor, E. Howard of Glossop, L.
Hutchison of Montrose, L. Strickland, L.
FitzAlan of Derwent, V. Jessel, L. Waring, L.
Horne of Slamannan, V. Kemsley, L. Weir, L.
Woodbridge, L.
Aberdeen and Temair, M. St. Albans, L. Bp. Lawrence, L.
Leigh, L.
Hardwicke, E. Brocket, L. [Teller.] Lloyd, L.
Midleton, E. Cranworth, L. Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Minto, E. Darcy (de Knayth), L. Rushcliffe, L.
Wicklow, E. Dickinson, L. Shute, L. (V. Barrington.)
Doverdale, L. Strabolgi, L.
Elton, L. Teynham, L.
Plumer, V. [Teller.] Holden, L. Waleran, L.
Wigan, L. (E Crawford.)