§ Order for Committee read.
§ House in Committee.
§ Clause 6 (Power to make Works according to deposited Plans).
§ MR. AYRTON
said, that although there had been frequent discussions in the House in connection with the Thames Embankment Bill, they had little or none at all on the merits of the embankment itself. Up to that time the proceedings with regard to the project had been conducted upstairs with closed doors, and the public were apt to suspect, under such circumstances, that everything that was done was 1453 done in an imperfect manner. But the time was come when he hoped they might get rid of all personalities, and arrive at a proper consideration of the intrinsic merits of the project embraced in the Bill. There was great misapprehension both within and without the walls of that House on the subject. The objects of the Bill were four. First, it was proposed that there should be a solid embankment from Westminster Bridge to the east side of the Temple; and from thence a viaduct upon piers in a curve to Chatham Place. A second part of the Bill provided for a street from Charing Cross Bridge to Somerset House. A third, for a street from about the same place to Whitehall Place; and a fourth for a street from the embankment to Whitehall Stairs. That was an enormous undertaking, not merely of embankment, but also of street improvement, which was estimated to cost in the first instance £1,240,000. It was said that some property would be re-sold, and that the net cost would thus be reduced to £969,000. In relation to the project his constituents stood simply in the position of contributors to the fund, for individually they would derive no advantage from the works to be undertaken. They were therefore entitled to scrutinize the project, to ascertain what its character was, and to be satisfied that it was reasonable and moderate. The project was launched under singular and extraordinary circumstances. It was at variance with the recorded opinions of the most eminent persons for a period of upwards of twenty-five years; and though it was promoted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hertford (Mr. Cowper), it was really not launched by him as Chief Commissioner of Works, because his department had nothing to do with it. The persons connected with his office disapproved the scheme, and the right hon. Gentleman was obliged to place himself in the hands of individuals not in the public service, and not, therefore, responsible to the Crown, who became his professional advisers and agents in passing the Bill through Parliament. Here, then, was a great public measure, promoted by professional persons with singular skill and ability, no doubt, but conducted as if it were a private enterprise, unable to stand upon its own intrinsic merits. But what might be done with propriety by a skilful professional adviser to carry a railway Bill through Parliament could not be done 1454 with the same propriety when the project was to be executed at the expense of a large portion of the general public. The fund from which the cost of the embankment was to be defrayed had been intrusted to the Treasury, who had accepted the trust for the benefit of the inhabitants of the metropolis; and they were, therefore, bound to regard the question as a purely public question, which ought not to have been taken out of the hands of responsible public servants and placed in those of private professional men. He would touch but lightly upon one part of the project—namely, the new street from Hungerford Market to Wellington Street, because, as the House had been told, the Committee came in their own minds deliberately to the conclusion that the street in question ought not to be made. He would simply ask, then, why was it in the Bill? It would be remarked, that although the new street remained in the Bill, there was another clause to the effect that it was not to be begun until all the other works were completed. That was, perhaps, the most inconvenient sort of clause which could be inserted in a Bill, because it would hamper owners and occupiers in the enjoyment of their property for an indefinite period. In connection with that point, he could not help saying that the hon. Member for Westminster (Sir John Shelley) was put in a most unfortunate position—one not of his own seeking—when he was placed upon the Committee. His hon. Friend asked him (Mr. Ayrton) to serve in his place, knowing that he was being thrust into an invidious position, and he declared himself ready to do so, but said the matter rested with the Government, who were nominating the Committee. The hon. Baronet thereupon made a representation to the Government, but they preferred placing the hon. Gentleman in an equivocal position, in which he really, as the representative of a locality through which the embankment was to pass, could not discharge the duties which the metropolis expected from him. It was only proper to state, however, that the hon. Baronet proceeded with great ability, fairness, and judgment, paying every possible attention to the interests of the ratepayers at large. While the inquiry was in progress, the hon. Baronet told him that the new street had, by some mystification which he did not understand, been sanctioned in form, although it was against the opinion of the Committee, and 1455 asked him what was to be done. He advised his hon. Friend to use form against form and to propose the postponement of the work, inserting a clause in the Bill to that effect, so as to make it manifest that the Committee disapproved the new street. Accordingly, the hon. Baronet moved the clause to which he had already referred, and thus we had an emphatic declaration of the Committee, that although the new street had been sanctioned in point of form, yet they did not think it was a work which ought to be undertaken. He hoped the Chief Commissioner would now consent to strike out of the Bill everything relating to the new street, in order that the Committee, who were quite innocent in the matter, might not be subjected to reviling on account of what appeared to be an inconsistent and absurd proceeding. But he came to the embankment itself, which started from Blackfriars Bridge, and it was important to remark that the principle which had been so stoutly contended for at the Westminster end had also to be considered at Blackfriars—namely, whether it was a proper way of making the roadway to run it up on a slope at right angles with the slope of the bridge. In the end the Committee came to the deliberate judgment that such was not a proper proceeding, and, in fact, any man of common sense must arrive at the same conclusion. The Committee rightly decided that the roadway should join Chatham Place in a curve, and he hoped the House would not interfere with their decision upon that point. Following the line of embankment from Blackfriars Bridge, he came to the hallowed precincts of the Temple; and here he must say, that when he heard the hon. and learned Member for Southwark (Mr. Locke) talk about the pretensions of the aristocracy, he could not help asking himself whether his hon. and learned Friend was a member of the Temple, and whether he was present when the Benchers, over their after-dinner port-wine, resolved to assert what they believed to be their rights. The embankment went in front of the Temple; and between the roadway and the Temple there was a considerable space—the only space from one end to the other which could be made a pleasant recreation ground for the people. Well, the Benchers demanded that recreation ground of the people to be given up to them for nothing as their private property, and the promoters, knowing the difficulties of defending the 1456 scheme, which was condemned by all the ablest men who ever investigated it, surrendered that public right to the Benchers. As a member of the Temple, he regretted that the Benchers should have made such a claim, instead of leaving the space available as a recreation ground for the people; but it was given as garden ground to the Temple—as building land ["No, no."] He said "Yes," because the Benchers had the right of building on their own garden ground, which they might appropriate as the substitute of the garden given them under the Bill. Such was the way in which the Temple had treated the project. They then passed to a noble Duke—the Duke of Norfolk. How had he been dealt with? There also, was recreation ground; and great rights were given to the Duke. He was allowed to build along the front of that vacant ground, but the ground was kept as recreation ground, although, he did not see the good of it. They would have to pay, in the first place, for everything useful they destroyed; they would have not only to purchase, but to improve the frontage. Passing Somerset House, where nothing was done, they came to another noble Lord. Concessions were made to him. There was a thoroughfare leading to the embankment—he was to have the liberty of shutting it up. Was that reasonable conduct? Then they came to the Adelphi estate where there was a good opportunity of improving the town. They were, however, not to be allowed to carry on the embankment that already existed, nor were they to be permitted to build any erections upon their own embankment, except such as must necessarily be of a trumpery kind. Next they came to Charing Cross Bridge. What did the promoters do in face of a powerful company? They came to a written engagement that they would pay the company £55,000 if any person was allowed to land on the embankment within 250 yards of their pier. The Committee, indeed, rejected that proposition, but the promoters agreed to it. Next they came to the Duke of Northumberland—they paid him the full value of his property, they reclaimed and filled up all the land, and then it was so hampered with conditions that it was not available for recouping the expense. They now came to the Crown estate and the Crown lessees, and the great dispute between Mr. Pennethorne, as the official organ of that department, and the promoters of the Bill. 1457 Here the Committee appeared to have got into great difficulties. In point of fact, they came to the conclusion—to which he should have subscribed himself—that it was better to stop there, and leave for future consideration the relative merits of the two schemes. Why? They had no power; the Metropolitan Board had no power; no individual had any power, to moot the question between the two rival schemes, unless they first got the sanction of the Crown. The scheme of the Chief Commissioner was unanswerable, if they took it as he had placed it before them. It was perfect in itself. It had unity of design; but would they ever consent to a roadway sloping obliquely along the terrace of the House of Commons? But Mr. Pennethorne said they had spent £2,000,000 sterling, and more, upon a distinct intention, always expressed and carried into effect, that there never should be any further embankment in front of the Houses of Parliament. They were told twenty years ago that the thoroughfare was to be improved by a road at the back of the Houses of Parliament; and, what was more curious, the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner had put on the table of the House that Session a Bill which imposed a charge of £500,000 on the Consolidated Fund, if the fee fund was not sufficient, in order to complete the design of Mr. Barry and pull down the courts of law which obstructed the thoroughfare between the Houses of Parliament and the Abbey. What were they paying for sites for public buildings? Mr. Pennethorne, as the architectural adviser in these transactions, said they could save £500,000 by erecting a block of buildings on the other side of Westminster Bridge consistent with the design of the Palace at Westminster. Therefore his scheme was a very complete one, and it was also one which would be most satisfactory to the taxpayer, because he undertook to take the whole matter into his own hands, and pay for it out of resources which would be at his disposal. The result of passing the Bill would be, that the public would get an embankment of a most miserable character, which would not have one redeeming feature of style or beauty about it. Here and there would be a jagged bit of nasty dirty, smutty garden, with trees in it which would not grow, and in which there would be children disporting themselves, not really for healthy recreation, but so, as was the case 1458 in Trafalgar Square now, as to require the continual attention of a policeman, to prevent them being a nuisance to the public. Then there would be a few buildings, then a range of wretched, low houses, that could not be elevated; then narrow streets, and then more buildings with small fronts; so that there would be no sort of beauty at all from Westminster Bridge to the Temple Gardens. He did not want to make any reflections upon parties for whose benefit or protection clauses had been inserted in the Bill, or even upon the Committee for assenting to them, because, as they were dealing with a private promoter, and the clauses were presented as the results of arrangements, they had no alternative; but it was much to be regretted that the desire to get the Bill through the Committee had led the promoters to accept such clauses—clauses which, if once sanctioned by that House, could never be altered, because they would become matters of contract with individuals; and he hoped that the noble Lord would act up to the earnest statement which he had made the other evening, that as the people wore to pay for the embankment, they ought to have an embankment in return for the money which they spent upon it.
said, he had nothing to regret in the course which he had taken in the Committee. He went into that Committee perfectly unbiassed, as representing the public, and that duty he had endeavoured to discharge to the best of his ability. When he found himself in a minority upon the question of stopping the roadway at Whitehall Stairs, he came to the conclusion that the decision of the Committee must be fatal to the embankment as a great national object, because it was impossible to ask the public for money to make an embankment two miles long when of 200 yards of that distance they were not to have the use. He would say nothing about persons who were proprietors of houses along the line of the embankment, and he regretted that one of the leading journals of the country should have cast imputations upon the noble Duke who was one of these proprietors, because he was of opinion that no man could have behaved more fairly and more straightforwardly than did the noble Duke when he was before the Committee. That noble Duke said, "Let me remain as I am; but if it can be shown to me the necessity of this roadway being continued as a metropolitan improvement, I have nothing 1459 more to say." He could not, however, so easily leave the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman), who was also an interested party. The right hon. Gentleman had declared on the previous evening, with his usual eloquence and ability, and in a most ingenious and disinterested manner, that he had nothing whatever to do with this matter, and would not act upon the Committee. But that right hon. Gentleman was in the committee-room every day; not being a member of the Committee, he had the advantage of being called as a witness, and his evidence had some weight with the Committee. When he so strongly protested that he had no interest whatever in the matter, and that if it had been necessary for the public convenience, he would have allowed this roadway to go through his drawing-room, he must say that he was very sceptical on that point. He thought that it would have been better if the right hon. Gentleman had been on the Committee, and had, as he might then have done, fully and openly expressed his views upon the subject. The question turned entirely on the traffic. The great object of the embankment was undoubtedly to relieve certain thoroughfares from a portion of the traffic which now choked them up. Without casting any disparagement on the character of the witnesses who opposed the scheme, he must say that he would not give a farthing for the opinion of some of them. They were not in the habit of driving in a carriage through the crowded streets, and had not sufficient actual experience of the matter to enable them judge. On the other hand, Sir Richard Mayne, whose business it was to regulate the traffic of the metropolis, must, both from his own observation and from the information which he officially received, be the most competent and reliable authority on the question. The allegation that the prolongation of the embankment from Whitehall to Westminster Bridge would impede the flow of traffic, was one of the greatest bugbears ever put forward. He desired the attention of the Committee to the following passages from Sir Richard's evidence:—Do you think, then, that it would be of great public convenience to find an alternative road to Westminster which should relieve the streets that you have mentioned and a portion of their traffic?—It would be very.Would that roadway embankment tend to relieve all the streets, by taking the traffic that wishes to go between the City and Westminster 1460 that is, commencing at Westminster Bridge?— Yes, I think it would be very great relief.If it did not commence there, but adopted the course which is suggested, of terminating in Whitehall Yard, there would be no relief to Parliament Street? — None whatever, or Bridge Street.Whereas, if it commenced at the foot of the bridge, the traffic of Bridge Street would be relieved by the City traffic being taken off at once, and so the concourse of traffic at the corner of Parliament Street greatly diminished?—It would relieve not only that traffic; but if there was an opening about Charing Cross, it would be likewise the means of a great deal of the traffic that would go to the north, to St. Martin's Lane; a great part might go, and it ought to go—it might be compelled to go that way.Persons might, by a slight detour, avail themselves of the street in front of the Horse Guards, and so avail themselves of the embankment?—Yes; that in front of the Horse Guards would not relieve Charing Cross.It would probably bring a larger amount of traffic to Whitehall and Charing Cross?—I think it would be very likely to aggravate the evil at Charing Cross.You would hear, I presume, with very great regret, that such a decision should be come to that this Committee should determine to stop the line short at Whitehall Yard?—It would make a very inadequate relief to the difficulties that I have alluded to.Those were the views of a witness who was much better qualified to form a judgment on the matter than Mr. Pennethorne, the architect. The fact was, that there was scarcely any street which was not intersected at right angles by some other street. That was the case where Fleet Street, Ludgate Hill, Bridge Street, and Farringdon Street met, and where, perhaps, the greatest traffic in London was to be found. When one side of Bridge Street was taken down, as it would be in time, there would be no difficulty in regulating the traffic. The hon. Member for Westminster on the previous night made a grand flourish about the care he took of the interests of his constituency, and declared that to the peer and the wharfinger he would servo out even-handed justice. But did any of the wharfingers between Richmond Terrace and Westminster Bridge appear before the Committee against the Bill? None did so. The truth was, that they were perfectly satisfied with the compensation which they were to receive, and were by no means obliged to the hon. Gentleman for interfering. If the constituency of Westminster were polled, he believed, that nine out of ten would support the scheme, and reject the view of the hon. Member. The hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Ayrton) complained that 1461 his constituents would derive no benefit from the embankment, but he believed that they would get as much advantage from it as any other body of citizens if they went that way. Those who lived in the smoky regions of the Tower Hamlets would be very glad to walk westward and enjoy the open embankment. One of the main obstacles to the project was the want of harmony which prevailed between the Commission of Public Works and the Board of Woods and Forests. It was most painful to see the heads of those two branches diametrically opposed to each other on the subject, as they were at present. No great metropolitan improvement would ever be effected until the noble Lord at the head of the Government was able to make them agree.
§ MR. DENMAN
said, that the perusal of the evidence led him to the conclusion that in this instance argument was all on the one side and evidence on the other, and that the majority of the Committee for once were wrong and the minority right. No Member of the House supposed for a moment that the influence of the Duke of Buccleuch or any other man could prevent the Committee from doing what they honestly deemed to be for the best. But, at the same time, it was idle to say that private interests were entirely disregarded. In his opinion they had been allowed to overweigh public interests. No doubt, the right hon. Member for Stroud was perfectly sincere in declaring that all private interests should yield to those of a public character; but he was not exactly a witness on whose evidence entire reliance should be placed, because he had a natural bias on the question whether or not the amenity of his residence was destroyed. The Duke of Buccleuch also said in his evidence that he did not think that the advantage to the public was sufficient to warrant the injury which would be done by the scheme to himself and his neighbours. The great desire to protect private interests was the reason of the counter scheme being proposed. But the question was whether those private interests were not inferior to the public convenience. Sir Richard Mayne, who was the best authority upon the subject, said in his evidence that he was obliged to place additional policemen at the corner of Bridge Street and Parliament Street, where the great confluence of traffic occurred, to protect Members coming to the House; and that, notwithstanding every precaution at 1462 that point, accidents constantly happened. It was the strongest case of public inconvenience which had ever been made out; for it was not mere inconvenience, but absolute danger to life and limb. Sir Richard Mayne told them that it was essential to the correction of the evil that there should be a second way of getting from Westminster Bridge to the City. The object was to prevent the traffic running along Bridge Street and sharp round the corner by way of Parliament Street to Charing Cross. The counter scheme did not effect that object, and it would entail an additional expenditure of £300,000. The scheme of the promoters of the Bill would achieve the desired result, and the only objection to it was its interference with one or two private residences. There was private inconvenience on the one hand, and public convenience on the other. In his opinion, the case on the part of the public was made out, and the decision of the minority of four was right, while the decision of the majority of seven was wrong. It was just the case in which the House ought to adopt its own view. He disclaimed any imputation upon any person who had opposed the scheme. He gave credit to the majority of the Committee for believing that the counter scheme was the better scheme. He gave the Duke of Buccleuch credit for believing that he had a better case than the public. But he could not admit the Duke or any other man to be judge in his own cause; and having read the blue-book, he had come to the conclusion that they ought to reject the counter scheme, which did not meet the main difficulty pointed out by Sir Richard Mayne, and for the removal of which legislation was most required.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, that having been a member of the Committee which sat nine years ago upon the embankment of the Clyde, he wished to say a few words upon the subject at present under discussion. He had long formed a strong opinion in favour of the embankment of the Thames, but he thought the embankment and the carrying a roadway from Whitehall Place to the foot of Westminster Bridge two distinct proposals. In the case of Glasgow it was necessary to provide for the traffic of a commercial district, and the Committee authorized a roadway and a railway along the quays. The case of London was different. The Committee had wisely rejected the proposal to pass a railway, even from Whitehall Place 1463 to Blackfriars, but they had proposed a roadway, because the internal communications to the City were obstructed: the Strand was insufficient for the traffic. They had also wisely rejected the roadway from Whitehall Place to the foot of Westminster Bridge; because, if it were carried to that point, the inevitable inference would be that it must be carried on between the Houses of Parliament and the river. In 1848 he had been employed as a justice of the peace for the Liberties of Westminster to swear in as special constables a number of the workmen employed in the House: some of them had been tampered with, and refused to serve. It then occurred to his mind, and to the mind of the magistrate who was acting with him on that occasion, that the terrace on the bank of the river might, in the event of any popular excitement, if a roadway had been caried along it, be made the point from which the Houses of Parliament would be assailed. It was his belief that Parliament had wisely decided that no thoroughfare should pass between the House and the river; and he trusted that the House would continue to adhere to that determination. The scheme of Mr. Pennethorne for making a new street from Whitehall Stairs, widening Parliament Street and the streets to the south of that House, reaching the riverside beyond the precincts of the House, was not a new one, for it had received the sanction of a Commission in 1844, consisting of men of the highest character and of the highest qualifications both of taste and judgment, and was in his (Mr. Newdegate's) opinion infinitely preferable to the footway or any roadway along the embankment from Whitehall Stairs to Westminster Bridge; while, if a street were carried from the foot of Westminster Bridge past the old Board of Control Office to the Whitehall end of Parliament Street, the traffic which at present crowded the crossing of Bridge Street and Parliament Street would be divided, and all danger or inconvenience to hon. Members in passing to and from the House would be avoided. This was part of an extensive scheme for the improvement of that part of the metropolis, and it was probably because no Chancellor of the Exchequer had found it agreeable to find the money for carrying it out that the scheme had not been undertaken sooner, and did not appear on the present plan. He believed that the decision of the Committee was perfectly right, ex- 1464 cept as to the footway along the embankment: they felt that very material facts had been withheld from them, and they found that if they recommended the House to limit themselves to this narrow scheme, they would virtually be delaying greater metropolitan improvements, which had been kept back from temporary considerations of expenditure, but which must be carried out at some future time.
§ LORD ROBERT CECIL
said, he thought the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets deserved the thanks of the House for bringing back the discussion to the intrinsic merits of the subject. He could not understand why, on a hybrid Bill like that before them, the House should forget all the considerations on which such measures were usually discussed, and should allow all the debate to turn on the name of the Duke of Buccleuch. He was quite tired of hearing the duke's name brought up in the discussion. In other Private Bills great landowners had appeared before committees by their counsel, and had had their interests considered; and if there had been any discussion afterwards on the decision of the Committee, the House, as far as he could remember, had not routed out the name of any single individual affected, and degraded itself by debating the question with reference to his interests solely. If only for the sake of its dignity, he hoped the House would decide the question on public grounds solely, and would leave the Duke of Buccleuch to take his chance with any other subject of the realm to have the road come before his house, and to take his compensation like anybody else if it were for the public advantage, or to have the road diverted in another direction if that were a greater advantage. But, at all events, let not the House of Commons present the unseemly spectacle of debating a great metropolitan improvement on the interests of a single individual. The right hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman), who had been attacked by the hon. and gallant Member for Marlow (Colonel Knox), was perfectly well able to take care of himself; and with regard to the hon. Member for Westminster (Sir John Shelley), whom he had also attacked, probably the hon. Baronet knew his constituents best; but if the gallant Member at the next general election would contest Westminster on that question as a party man, no one would be more delighted with his success than he should. The 1465 case was a very simple one, and lay in a nutshell. The question was really this—what were they to pay, and what were they to pay it for? If he were possessed of unlimited funds, as a metropolitan improver he would embank not only the Thames, but every other river which flowed through a great city; but, not being in possession of unlimited funds, the question was, whether the advantages offered were equal to the price to be paid for them. A great deal of doubt had been thrown over that part of the question, but still the facts were clear. If the road were carried over the embankment in front of the houses of the lessees, the metropolis would have to pay for it; but if the road were not carried over it, the lessees would pay for the embankment. That was £90,000 saved; and if Lord Carrington's house were not taken, another £10,000 would be saved. Then came the question of compensation to the Crown lessees. The right hon. Member for Stroud had put that at from £45,000 to £90,000, but no man was a good judge in his own case; and, taking the lowest of these two sums, that would make £145,000 which would have to be paid for the luxury of carrying the road along the embankment to Westminster Bridge. If the embankment was upon a level, it might relieve the traffic; but, owing to the want of provision which marred all metropolitan improvements, a railway had been allowed to take such a level that that relief could not be afforded. Therefore the traffic would have to climb a hill to get to Westminster Bridge. The hon. and gallant Member for Marlow had, with great felicity, compared it with Ludgate Hill. [Colonel KNOX: I did not.] He regretted that his senses had deceived him; but the fact remained that there would be a hill, and they had it in evidence that heavy traffic would not mount a hill if it could be avoided. The heavy traffic would make the small detour by Parliament Street. Then, as to omnibuses, they went where they could pick up fares, and those fares they picked up where people lived. Nobody would live upon the embankment, and therefore the omnibuses would not go there. Then there were the private broughams and Hansom cabs. He hoped to hear no more about a conflict between aristocratic convenience and popular rights, for there could not be a more aristocratic measure than to make a road solely for broughams 1466 and Hansom cabs. But the point was not whether broughams and Hansom cabs should have a short cut, but whether it was worth while to spend £100,000 for the luxury. The House had been led upon a false scent—the red-herring had been dragged across their path—and they had been drawn away from, the financial considerations, which would not have been the case if they had had to find the money. If the outlay was to come from the Exchequer, the scheme would have gone the way of the British Museum job, the South Kensington job, and other brick-and-mortar jobs which had come forth so plentifully from the same source. But the funds were to be provided from a tax which was almost a solitary instance of a tax upon an article of first necessity. Persons living fifteen or sixteen miles from the river, who had no interest in the embankment, were to be taxed to pay for that prodigal, extravagant, job. He could not help thinking that the real object of the scheme was not before the House, and the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works had given them a hint of the ulterior design to which this was the introduction. They were, it appeared, to have a terrace carried along the river front of that House to Chelsea, in order to make a grand boulevard for the ornamentation of the City. He repeated, that if he had unlimited means, nothing would give him more pleasure than to expend those means in ornamenting London; but he feared that in those matters they were getting into the hands of the "men of taste," who were the most incorrigible depredators upon the public purse that ever cursed an economical House of Commons. They seemed to consider that the House of Commons possessed Fortunatus' purse, and that if a thing had been done at Dresden or Paris, therefore it should be done in London. He sincerly wished that in any future scheme of reform means could be found for rating "men of taste," and that they could be provided with a single pocket which could be laid under contribution to provide funds for the tremendous extravagances which they urged upon the country. But, at least, working men who lived fifteen miles from the river, who cared nothing for the ornamentation of the City, ought not to have the burden imposed upon them. It might suit hon. Gentlemen opposite, having a Duke in full cry, to chase him merrily, and to ignore the simple question of pay- 1467 ment. He only hoped hon. Members, when next they met their constituents, would explain their conduct with regard to the coal duty. He repeated that the mere demands of the traffic were not sufficient to justify the expenditure to which they were invited, and the grander scheme for the ornamentation of the City was too extravagant to be entertained. Therefore, upon those grounds, putting aside all questions of private rights, he thought the Committee ought not to proceed with the plan of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. CRAWFORD
said, the hon. and learned Member behind him (Mr Denman) seemed to think that the members of the Committee had been unconsciously led to a certain conclusion out of deference to certain influences. As a member of the Committee, he could say for himself, and he believed he spoke the sentiments of those with whom he voted, that on arriving at a conclusion he was governed by no other consideration than the traffic. The objections to bringing a large amount of traffic suddenly upon Westminster Bridge had been already stated, and he believed there would be a great and increasing traffic upon what would be the great highway between the eastern and the south-western portions of the metropolis. There was also the inconvenience of bringing that traffic upon the point where it would cross the stream of traffic passing over Westminster Bridge. He thought the Committee were justified in their conclusion, notwithstanding the evidence of Sir Richard Mayne. When Sir Richard Mayne was before them, the Committee were not aware that they could cross-examine him upon points connected with the alternative scheme. The hon. Member for Marlow (Colonel Knox) had referred to the block of traffic at the bottom of Ludgate Hill, where the traffic along Fleet Street and Ludgate Hill was struck by the traffic along Farringdon Street and Bridge Street; and it was because the Committee believed that there would be a worse block at the foot of Westminster Bridge, that they came to the conclusion at which they arrived. He repeated that the question of traffic was the sole consideration that had guided the Committee, and it was not fair for hon. Members to impute that they were governed by other motives; and if such an imputation should be again made, he begged to say that the hon. Gentleman making it was stating what was not the fact.
§ MR. DENMAN
said, that he had not stated that the Committee were not governed by the consideration of the traffic. He believed that they were governed by public considerations, and the traffic was one of those considerations. All he had said was, that from the evidence he himself had come to the conclusion that the four were right and the seven were wrong.
§ SIR JOHN SHELLEY
said, as so much had been made of Sir Richard Mayne's evidence, and the Committee had been taunted with not having cross-examined him, he begged to say he could not admit that gentleman's authority as decisive. Any one who travelled through London could judge of the traffic as well as the Chief Commissioner of Police. He would answer Sir Richard Mayne by Sir Richard Mayne. Here was Sir Richard Mayne's evidence before the Royal Commission. He was asked by Sir Joshua Jebb whether, putting aside the question of public or private interests, he would advise getting on to the embankment near Westminster Bridge, or getting on to it near Whitehall Place; and his answer was—"I think it would be very important that there should be an approach to it at Westminster Bridge, but I think (alluding to Mr. Pennethorne's plan) the other would, perhaps, be as good in effecting the whole object." [An hon. MEMBER: Read the next question.] He would do so. Mr. Hunt asked Sir Richard Mayne—"You mean in addition?" and his answer was—"Yes; both are of the greatest importance." The remainder of the same answer was this—" If persons were required to go the whole line from Bridge Street to Blackfriars, very few indeed would use it." How those last words were to be explained he did not know.
§ Clause agreed to; as was also Clause 7.
§ Clause 8 (Works authorized).
§ MR. LOCKE
said, he wished to move the omission, in line 33, of the words "subject to the limitations hereinafter contained." The first part of the clause provided for the making of an embankment and viaduct on the left bank of the Thames, and described the parishes through which the works would pass. The second part of the clause—in which it was he desired to make his Amendment—provided that, "subject to the limitations herein after contained," a public roadway should be made upon the embankment and viaduct 100 feet wide up to the eastern boundary 1469 of the Inner Temple, and not less than seventy feet wide thence to Chatham Place, with all necessary approaches. The limitations there referred to were contained in Clauses 9 and 78, the first of which was to the effect that a footway only should be made between Whitehall Stairs and Westminster Bridge. The slight alteration he proposed in the 8th clause would therefore raise the question whether the carriage-way should or should not be continued up to Westminster Bridge. He would not enter into the question of traffic, for that had already been fully discussed. The hon. Member for Westminster (Sir J. Shelley) had travelled into another blue-book besides the Report before the House, and had found another of his mare's nests. Desiring to quote Sir R. Mayne in favour of one access only, he found that he was really in favour of two. The hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Ayrton) had touched upon every conceivable subject save the one before the House. He had made no Motion, but everybody who lived along the line between Blackfriars and Westminster came under the lash. He did not even spare those who inhabited his own nest. There was a proverb about a dirty bird, to which he would not further allude. The hon. Member attacked the Benchers of the Inner Temple—the very nest in which he "lived, moved, and had his being." He complained that the Benchers were to have the ground that would be reclaimed between their gardens and the proposed roadway. The Duke of Buccleuch would have precisely the same advantage; and if the Duke had acted in the same manner, a great deal of unpleasant discussion would have been avoided. His hon. Friend found fault with the Benchers, and was delighted with the Duke. ["No."] With whom then was he satisfied? Nobody could tell what he aimed at, what he desired, or with whom he was content. With regard to the whole line from Blackfriars Bridge to Westminster, there was not one dissentient till they reached Whitehall. His hon. Friend the Member for Westminster (Sir John Shelley) claimed credit for a desire to advocate the interests of his constituents. But what had the hon. and gallant Member for Marlow (Colonel Knox) told them? That not one of his hon. Friend's constituents raised a voice in the Committee. What did his hon. Friend say to that? Why, that they were "settled with," or "squared with," or 1470 something of that sort. [Sir JOHN SHELLEY: No.] Well, that they had been "settled with." That was the term his hon. Friend would use when he interfered with a public improvement. They were a perfectly happy family along the whole line from Blackfriars to Westminster, with the exception of those persons living along Whitehall. For his own part, he did not believe that the Duke of Buccleuch himself was dissatisfied. He believed that any dissatisfaction in the committee-room arose from the cross-examination conducted by his hon. Friend the Member for Westminster. If any hon. Member read the evidence, including the questions put to the Duke of Buccleuch to make him dissatisfied, he would find that the dissatisfaction arose more from his hon. Friend the Member for Westminster than from the Duke. The question before them was, whether they would or would not strike out of the clause the words which had been so much objected to. If they did so, that would be an expression of opinion on the part of that House against any alteration in the roadway—against the substitution of a pathway for a roadway at Whitehall. What was the argument which throughout those proceedings had been adduced against making a roadway there? The noble Lord (Lord Robert Cecil) thought he was reducing the argument to a reductio ad absurdum when he put the case of their making the road for the purpose of enabling persons in broughams and other carriages to go down to the City quicker than they otherwise could. If they were proposing to make the embankment for that purpose, there was something in the noble Lord's point; but they must remember that the embankment was to be made whether there was to be a roadway or not. They were to make it eighty feet wide; but then stepped in the provision that opposite Whitehall no one was to use it except he went on foot. With great respect for the Members who voted in the majority that carried that stipulation, he must say that never had such a conclusion been come to by any other Committee in the world. When the noble Lord (Lord R. Cecil) said that the Duke of Buccleuch offered to pay for the embankment in front of his house, he must say that his Grace was not going to do anything of the kind. The Duke had made an offer, he believed; but it was on condition that he was to have the whole 1471 road to himself. That was his proposition; but, as there was to be a footpath, the public were to pay for it. His hon. Friend the Member for Westminster cheered the noble Lord when he talked of the coal duties being put on; but his Friend did not hesitate to sanction the taking of money from the pockets of the ratepayers to make a roadway, and then to vote that the ratepayers should not ride along the road they had paid for. He should like to ask his hon. Friend and the other six members who composed the majority on the Committee, how they would explain to their constituents that they would not only impose the coal duties, but, in addition to doing so, would throw away the money when they had raised it. ["Oh, oh!"] Yes; for they would expend it in making an embankment along which they would not allow any one who did not go on foot. Such a proposition was enough to surprise any one, and it was equally surprising to find that his hon. Friend the Member for Westminster cheered with all his heart and soul everything that was said against the interests of his constituents. The noble Lord said that the Duke was entitled to compensation. [Lord ROBERT CECIL: That the lessees were entitled to it.] Well, that the lessees were entitled to compensation. What other kind of compensation were they entitled to than that which had been given to all other persons living along the line of the embankment. The Crown would not build houses before the premises of those persons. His hon. Friend the Member for the Tower Hamlets, asked why should not they utilize the ground; and then went on to accuse them of a design to make the embankment a place where little boys would play as they did in Trafalgar Square. In fact, his hon. Friend described the most frightful state of things that it would be possible to see on the face of the earth; and said they ought to make the place beautiful. They could not build on the embankment. They could not block out the light of the persons living along the line. The arrangement that had been made with the Societies of both the Temples, and with other proprietors along the river was that the ground between their houses and the embankment should be appropriated to them, and that they were not to build on it, but to preserve it as ornamental ground. That was the arrangement made with the two learned societies. His hon. Friend said that they 1472 could not be prevented from building on their own property; but did not his hon. Friend know that the buildings in King's Bench Walk and other portions of the Temple were already down to the water's edge. They could not be carried further. The arguments of hon. Gentlemen really destroyed one another. One said, "Nothing will go along the embankment;" but if no carriages used it, there would be no interference with the amenity of private mansions, while, if the embankment were so used, a great public benefit would result. The instruction to the Committee having been to make a roadway along the whole embankment, he contended, that as they had deviated from that plan, the House might properly take the subject into consideration, and the Committee should not suppose that any disrespect was thereby intended towards them.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 7, line 33, to leave out the words "subject to the limitations hereinafter contained."
§ SIR WILLIAM JOLLIFFE
said, it was a mistake to put aside the traffic question, and to set up the Duke of Buccleuch instead. The Duke of Buccleuch had nothing to do with the matter; and the traffic question was the whole question. The point to be considered was, "How are you to free the traffic along Bridge Street?" If they had a road which branched off at the foot of Westminster Bridge, to accommodate the traffic between east and west, a great deal more traffic must necessarily be carried into Bridge Street than was there already, and they would therefore only aggravate the evil which they desired to cure. That was the point upon, which the Committee had to decide, and which the Committee did decide by refusing to bring that traffic into an already overcrowded street, where the lives of Members of Parliament were so much risked. There was another question of great importance. One of the disadvantages of the low embankment was that it would stop all the conveyance of heavy goods to the wharves on that side of the river, so that the road traffic would be increased considerably. Mr. M'Neil, the manager of a wharf near Blackfriars Bridge, said that by thus putting a stop to the conveyance of goods by barges his firm would have to make arrangements for the carriage of all their goods by cars, instead of by the river, and the street traffic would thus be enormously increased. Such would be the case with coals, and that was one 1473 of the considerations which guided the Committee, and which would, he hoped, be well weighed by the House.
§ SIR JOSEPH PAXTON
said, that as the originator of the scheme and as one of the Committee who strongly advocated the embankment from Blackfriars to Westminster, he should give his cordial support to the proposal of the hon. and learned Gentleman. With regard to the remarks made by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Horsman) upon the constitution of the Committee of 1860, he had endeavoured, with the assistance of the First Commissioner, to make it as impartial a Committee as possible, and one that should fully represent all the interests concerned; and, remembering the character and position of men like the noble Lord (Lord J. Manners) and the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Pakington), he thought these criticisms might have been spared. He was very sorry that it was not possible to carry the high-level embankment which had been suggested; but he was astonished that the hon. Baronet (Sir J. Shelley) and his hon. Friend (Mr. Tite) and those who before never raised an objection about delivering the traffic at right angles on to the bridges, should now have such great objections to the present proposal. All the principal plans submitted to the Committee of 1860 contemplated the crossing of all the bridges by the embankment at right angles, and that was also the case with the bridges and thoroughfares of every capital in Europe. He thought the Committee on the Bill had acted with precipitation, for as soon as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stroud had given his evidence, a Resolution was moved by the right hon. Gentleman (Sir W. Jolliffe), that the embankment ought to stop at Whitehall Stairs. [Sir W. JOILIFFE: Not the embankment.] No, the roadway. The Committee affirmed that Resolution, because they were satisfied by an alternative plan of Mr. Pennethorne's. He (Sir J. Paxton), however, moved an Amendment, that as the promoters of the Bill had had no opportunity of giving evidence on Mr. Pennethorne's plan, it would be premature to conclude that the roadway ought to stop at Whitehall Stairs. That Amendment was negatived; but he believed that if Mr. Pennethorne's scheme were carried out, the embankment would be the laughing-stock of Europe. He could hardly have conceived that Mr. Pennethorne could have proposed to bring a road at so ob- 1474 jectionable an angle into Parliament Street. What ought to be done was this—to take down the block of houses in King Street as far as the new Government offices, to widen King Street, and then by means of the embankment and a road from the Horse Guards, which would convey the traffic from Victoria Street and relieve Parliament Street, they would improve the crossing at the corner of Bridge Street, which was intolerable.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Sir, having given notice of an Amendment on this subject, and as my hon. and learned Friend has stated that the present Amendment, although it relates to another clause, really involves a decision on the 9th clause, I am anxious to state the considerations by which my vote will be governed. Sir, my natural desire in dealing with the 9th clause has been to make the same Motion as that of which my hon. and learned Friend has given notice, and to move that that clause be wholly expunged. I entirely agree, that if the arrangement which this clause professed to establish were carried out, it would, in the words of my hon. Friend (Sir Joseph Paxton), really make our legislation the laughing-stock of Europe. The first objection, which was urged and debated at great length last night, was the injury that it was proposed to do to the Crown lessees. That objection is now abandoned. [An hon. MEMBER: No.] Then, if that objection is still maintained, and if the question is one between the interests of private individuals and those of the public, I shall be against sacrificing the interests of the public. But the great argument that has been used to night is, that this road is not wanted for the sake of traffic, and that it would be an injury to the traffic to have two roads instead of one. What is desired is, that in the embankment there should be a roadway eighty feet wide to Westminster Bridge; but when you come to Whitehall Stairs, your driver is to be stopped and told, "This is a very fine road, and free from obstacles, but you cannot go any further. You must stop, because we mean to spend £300,000 or £400,000 in addition; we mean to pull down a number of houses, and make another road to deliver you into the small and inconvenient crossing through Bridge Street, which is already insufficient for the traffic." That appears to me to be the most absurd reasoning, and my first impulse was to move the 1475 omission of that clause; but when I saw the great struggle made by private interests before the Committee, I considered that at this period of the Session there might be a risk of losing the Bill this year if we attempted the cure of this great and fundamental defect. It seemed to me, that as this clause was ingeniously prepared by the Committee, under pretence of delaying the decision of Parliament, it affirmed the permanent exclusion of the public, and that by putting in the Amendment which I contemplated, leaving the matter to the future decision of Parliament, the defect might be for the present cured, and that the Bill so passing would leave it open to Parliament to do next year what I trust and hope Parliament will do next year—namely, to throw that part of the road open between Whitehall Stairs and Westminster Bridge as well as the other. That course appeared to me to be the best, because there was no chance or possibility of that part of the road being made before next year; and therefore, if Parliament were next year to rescind the restriction, no inconvenience would be sustained by the public. That being the case, as far as I am concerned, I adhere to my proposal; and as my hon. and learned Friend has fairly stated that his object in striking out these words is to lay the foundation for afterwards striking out the 9th clause, and as my Amendment implies the maintenance of that clause, I could not consistently with my announcement vote for this Amendment, I shall vote, therefore, to retain these words.
§ MR. LOCKE
said, it appeared, if he were to go to a division, the noble Lord on the Treasury bench would not vote with him, and that placed him in an awkward position. He did not think the course which the noble Lord was taking was the right one. What the noble Lord meant by voting for the retention of the words was that at some future time the footway was to be turned into a roadway; but why not determine to turn it into a roadway at once? Why let the Bill go up to the other House saying, "Some day or other, when it is convenient to us, this footway shall become a roadway?" He did not know that the other House would like the Bill any better with such an introduction. After due consideration, therefore, he felt it his duty to divide the House.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."1476
§ The Committee divided: — Ayes 109; Noes 149: Majority 40.
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 9 (Footway only to be made between Whitehall Stairs and Westminster Bridge).
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
After the decision which the Committee has just come to upon the Motion of my hon. and learned Friend, of course I do not intend to propose my Amendment. I shall not, therefore, resist the Motion to omit the clause.
§ Clause put and negatived.
§ Clauses 10 to 20 agreed to.
§ Clause 21 (Certain works to be first approved by the Conservators).
§ MR. GARNETT
said, he would propose the addition of the following proviso, "Provided that, except with the previous consent of the Charing Cross Railway Company in writing under their common seal, no stairs, hard, quay, wharf, pier, or landing-place, shall be made within 200 yards of that company's steamboat pier or landing-place at Hungerford."
said, he agreed with the object of the Amendment; but he thought, as it was framed, that it would interfere with the Thames Conservancy Act.
§ MR. GARNETT
said, that under the circumstances, he would withdraw the Amendment, and renew it in an amended form upon the Report.
§ Clause agreed to; as were also Clauses 22 to 27.
§ Clause 28 (Reclaimed Land to be dedicated to Use of Public).
§ MR. AUGUSTUS SMITH
said, he would propose, as an Amendment, the omission of words, for the purpose of ensuring that all the portions of land reclaimed from the Thames should, without exception, be dedicated to the use of the public as places of recreation or ornamental grounds.
said, that the effect of the Amendment would be to prevent certain portions of the reclaimed land from being employed for building purposes in aid of the Thames Embankment Fund. The Amendment would also interfere with other arrangements made with the view of saving the coal duties from heavy charges for compensation. He thought, however, that the discussion on the subject might 1477 be more conveniently raised on a subsequent clause.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Clause agreed to; as was also Clause 29.
§ Clause 30 (No House to be erected in front of the Gardens of the Inner and Middle Temple).
§ MR. AUGUSTUS SMITH
said, he would move that the Chairman should report progress. The clause involved the question as to the appropriation of the land reclaimed from the river to public purposes, which was too important to be discussed after one in the morning.
said, he hoped the hon. Gentleman would not press his Motion, as the subject matter had been amply discussed in the Committee upstairs.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Chairman do report Progress."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 24; Noes 120: Majority 96.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
observed, that the Motion of the hon. Gentleman, if carried, would have the effect of putting an end to the Bill.
§ SIR WILLIAM JOLLIFFE
said, it was impossible to proceed with the Bill at so late an hour—twenty minutes past one o'clock. He thought, however, that the unopposed clauses might be agreed to.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clause 31 (As to Inner and Middle Temple).
§ MR. AYRTON
complained that the clause gave the garden, which it was provided should be made on the embankment opposite the Temple, exclusively to the Benchers. He thought the public ought to have the use of the garden, as it would be formed at the public expense.
said, that on the Temple waiving their right to compensation the reclaimed ground was to be made over to them, and he thought that was a very fair arrangement. The Temple Gardens were now practically public gardens.
§ MR. HENNESSY
said, his chambers looked upon the Temple Gardens, and he could inform the House that those grounds were crowded every night with children and others. The Benchers, in fact, were the only persons in London who gave free admission to their gardens.
§ Clause agreed to; as were also Clauses 32 and 33.
§ House resumed.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again on Monday next.