§ MR. BRYCE
, in rising to move—That it be an Instruction to the Committee to inquire and report to the House, whether the proposed Railway will interfere with the enjoyment of the public who annually visit the Lake district, by injuriously affecting the scenery or otherwise, and that they have power to call witnesses and receive evidence upon the subject,said, he wished the House to know that this Instruction was moved last year by his hon. Friend the Member for East Cumberland (Mr. S. Howard) and carried by a large majority. The Instruction which he (Mr. Bryce) now moved was exactly the same in every respect, and was based on the precedent of the Manchester Corporation Water Bill, in which a similar Instruction was given to the Select Committee to which the Bill was referred. The House had, therefore, on two previous occasions affirmed the principle of such an Instruction. With regard to the Instruction itself, the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck), who supported the Bill, ought hardly to oppose it, because it was his own contention in the debate on Thursday last, on the second reading of the Bill, that the scenery would be in no way injuriously affected by the construction of this railway. The opponents of the Bill said that it would, and surely, therefore, this was a matter proper for the decision of a Select Committee. In the debate upon the second reading it was strongly urged by the supporters of the Bill that the matter should go before a Select Committee, so that the whole question might be gone into. The op- 1824 ponents of the Bill were quite ready to accept that offer. They contended that a picturesque valley like this would very materially suffer from the construction of a railway; while, on the other side, it was urged that there would be no injury to the scenery at all. Therefore, as the House had decided to send the Bill to a Select Committee, the Committee ought to have information before them upon this point as well as upon others, and it must be borne in mind that without this Instruction the public would have no technical locus standi, although they had quite sufficient interest in the question of the preservation or destruction of the scenery to make it desirable that they should be heard. He saw that a Notice had been issued, addressed to the Members of the House on behalf of the promoters of the Bill, objecting to this Instruction, in which it was alleged that no resident in the district had expressed himself otherwise than in favour of the Bill. Now, he was informed that there was a strong feeling of opposition to it. [Mr. CAVENDISH BENTINCK: No.] The right hon. and learned Gentleman might say "No;" but he (Mr. Bryce) said "Yes." He was informed that there was a very strong feeling of opposition indeed to the Bill. It was further stated in these reasons that the Instruction, if carried out, would entail upon the promoters of the Bill a considerable additional expense. He failed to see what additional expense it would throw upon them. The expense would have to be incurred by those who sought to prove that the construction of the railway would be injurious to the scenery. The Bill, however, was not one which was promoted in any public interest. It was a Bill promoted entirely by certain private speculators in the interests of two or three landowners, and in total disregard of the interests of the public. That being so, he thought the interests of the general public should be represented before the Committee, and that the Committee should receive an Instruction from the House to inquire into the effect which the formation of this railway would have upon a piece of scenery unique in the character of its beauty. He hoped the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Whitehaven would himself admit the propriety of passing this Instruction, so that the Committee might have the 1825 matter fully and fairly before them begged to move the Instruction which he had read.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That it be an Instruction to the Committee to inquire and report to the House whether the proposed Railway will interfere with the enjoyment of the public who annually visit the Lake district, by injuriously affecting the scenery or otherwise, and that they have power to call witnesses and receive evidence upon the subject."—(Mr. Bryce.)
§ MR. CAVENDISH BENTINCK
said, he rose for the purpose of opposing this Instruction, because it appeared to him, if those who really had at heart the interests of the district, as in the case of the promoters of this railway, were to have all these difficulties imposed upon them at every stage, there was no telling when a successful result would be arrived at. It appeared to him to be a perfectly monstrous thing that a set of people who had nothing whatever to do with the district, who were un acquainted with the locality, and many of whom, including the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Bryce) himself, had never been at the place at all——
§ MR. CAVENDISH BENTINCK
said, the hon. Member said he had been there; but perhaps the exception proved the rule. Certainly, a great many who joined in opposing the Bill had never seen the place. They lived at a distance, and they had organized an opposition, which it was most undesirable for the House of Commons to countenance if they were anxious to see any improvements carried out at all. He complained that the hon. Member and those with whom he acted were making persistent misrepresentations in regard to himself (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) and his right hon. Friend the Member for North Lincolnshire (Mr. J. Lowther), and others who thought it their duty to take the course they had adopted in regard to this Bill, on Friday last in a newspaper called The Echo.
§ MR. CAVENDISH BENTINCK
said, he had not said that the hon. Member 1826 had; but the hon. Member might have taken stops to prevent such misrepresentations appearing in the newspapers. The Echo, which was formerly under the control of the hon. Member for Salisbury (Mr. Passmore Edwards), and was now said to be under the control of another hon. Member of the House, accused him and his right hon. Friend the Member for North Lincolnshire (Mr. J. Lowther) of coming to the House with a shameful and selfish proposal for the purpose of putting money into the pocket of the Lowther family. He hoped hon. Members would not support the statement, but would repudiate it as strongly as he (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) did himself. In another newspaper of the same date, lately under the control of the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley)—[Mr. JOHN MORLEY dissented.] He referred to The Pall Mall Gazette. In that paper his right hon. Friend and himself and the Conservatives generally were accused of having endeavoured to carry the Bill upon the second reading, and the article went on to say that the House had lost the opportunity of asserting itself, on behalf of the public interest, against private greed. Now he wished to deny, in the strongest Parliamentary language he was able to use, the truth of that accusation, and to reiterate that he supported this railway, not on account of private greed, but on account of the public interests, and especially in the interests of the people of the country through which it would pass. Hon. Members below the Gangway were always pretending to be the friends of the people. If that were so, why did they refuse to support the Bill, which would afford the only means by which the public could have an opportunity of visiting Ennerdale Lake? At the present moment there was no access to the Lake, except by very bad roads which could only be traversed by a carriage and pair of horses. It was consequently impossible for the people of the country generally to reach Ennerdale Lake, or to enjoy the great beauty of the scenery at all. What he blamed hon. Members opposite—these pretended and so-called friends of the people—for was the spirit of exclusiveness which animated them. That was very remarkably shown in the observations made the other day by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for 1827 Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster). When asked why he did not apply to the au-thorities in Italy, Switzerland, and Savoy to pitch all their railways into the lakes or over the precipices, the right hon. Gentleman said that it did: not matter, because there was so much beauty there. Nevertheless, in this instance, the right hon. Gentleman objected to a railway, although it was intended to carry it through a deep cutting. What was really the case was that when the right hon. Gentleman and his friends went to Italy, Switzerland, and Savoy, and other far-off places, they were obliged to avail themselves of the means of communication offered by railways; but when they came to England, and could pay for carriages and horses and drive to these remote districts, they liked to exclude all other persons. Now he (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) was in favour of the public enjoying any site they could property obtain access to, and for that reason, among others, he supported the present Bill. If hon. Members opposite, who were trying to defeat the Bill, would read the newspapers of both political Parties published in Whitehaven last Thursday, they would soon arrive at a clear idea of what the opinion of the district in regard to this railway was. He had not brought the newspaper articles with him, and if he had done so they were too long to read to the House. The purport of the principal article was to ask why hon. Members opposite had not objected to the railway in Eskdale. He dare say that the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Bryce) did not know where Eskdale was. He would tell the hon. Member that Eskdale was a valley leading up to the highest mountain in the Lake District—Scawfell Pikes, and it was one of the most beautiful valleys in the district; but when the Eskdale Bill was before the House the hon. Gentleman opposite was silent. How was it that he did not come forward then?
§ MR. CAVENDISH BENTINCK
The hon. Member had been returned since. But the hon. Member had Friends in the House who could have taken up his views. The Bill, how-over, was allowed to pass, and he wanted to know why the hon. Member, and those far-away people who were 1828 always interfering with other people's business, did not come forward then and try to prevent the Eskdale Railway from being made? The object of the newspaper article to which he had referred was to show the benefit which the Eskdale Railway conferred upon the people of the district. It not only enabled the Dalesmen, at the cost of a few pence, to got to Whitehaven and other markets, but it enabled persons, who were desirous of organizing excursions in connection with public societies, and to give treats to school children, to obtain access to the district. But that was precisely the thing which hon. Members opposite, in their dog-in-the-manger spirit, were anxious to prevent. He wished for a moment to call attention to the reasons against the Instruction which had been printed and circulated by the promoters of this railway. In the first place, it was said that no Petition had been presented against the Bill except one from the hon. Member for West Cumberland (Mr. Ainsworth), and that Petition was only presented on Saturday last. The hon. Member for West Cumberland kept it back until the last moment, waiting to see whether the Bill would be thrown out on the second reading, in which case it would not have been worth while to incur the expense of presenting a Petition. The hon. Member now thought better of it, and had presented a Petition, although the only part of his property affected was a small turnip field. The reasons went on to say that not a single resident in the district other than the hon. Member for West Cumberland had expressed himself otherwise than in favour of the line. The hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Bryce) said that was not the fact; but if any other resident of the district or owner of property had expressed himself as opposed to the Bill, he should feel obliged if the hon. Member would say who he was. The reasons went on to say that in order to remove any cause of objection the line for the last three miles had been entirely altered, and instead of being carried close to the Lake and running upon an embankment, it was now proposed to carry it further away through a cutting 25 feet deep, which would not be visible to the eye of any person in the district. He would ask hon. Members who objected to railways running through the Lake dis- 1829 trict why they did not stop the steamboat traffic on the Lakes themselves? Surely hon. Members ought to object to steamboats openly plying upon the Lakes, rather that to railway trains which were outside, and yet bon. Members had not a word to say against the steamboats. He presumed that if the steamboats were stopped it would interfere with their personal comfort. It was somewhat remarkable that hon. Members who had this extraordinary mania on the subject of Lake scenery thought nothing of other objects, and although they passed St. Margaret's Church day after day they failed to notice the extraordinary spectacle presented in connection with Westminster Abbey, the destruction of which was partly commenced by the late Dean of Westminster. The same thing was going on with many other fine old cathedrals in the country, but all the sympathies of hon. Members were reserved for these out-of-the-way Lakes, and in that case they pursued a course which, if successful, would entirely prevent the people from enjoying the scenery. Under these circumstances he thought the House ought not to grant this Instruction, which really could not accomplish any good purpose, but would only obstruct a useful public work, and put the promoters of the Ennerdale Railway to unnecessary expense.
§ MR. BUSZARD
said, he trusted the House would allow him to make a very few remarks in answer to the observations of the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck). He thought that, with all duo respect to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, he had unintentionally misled the House as to what the nature of this proposed railway was. In point of fact the right hon. and learned Gentleman had rather turned the House away from the issue raised by the Instruction. He ought to inform the House that he (Mr. Buszard) bad no interest whatever in the matter; but he was probably as well acquainted with the district as the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, seeing that he had for many years taken great interest in it. His sole connection, however, with the matter was, that for years past, in company with thousands of other people who sought relief from town life, he had visited this neighbourhood, and he believed the works of the 1830 proposed railway would very seriously affect the enjoyment of the thousands and tens of thousands who went there, He was connected with no society for the protection of the Lakes or any other part of the Kingdom, and he was prepared to admit that where great public interests were involved, questions of scenery must inevitably give way. But where great public interests were not involved, but merely private speculations such as he believed this Bill to be, then he submitted to the House very respectfully that small private interests ought to give way to the preservation of that scenery which was for the enjoyment of all. [Mr. CAVENDISH BENTINCK: There is no scenery there.] The right hon. and learned Gentleman said there was no scenery there. That confirmed the truth of the complaint he made, that the right hon. and learned Gentleman was unintentionally misleading the House in the matter. He (Mr. Buszard) knew that persons might differ in their notions of scenery; but, for his own part, he regarded this district as one of the most beautiful valleys in the country, for wild, rugged, solitary scenery. He did not think that the House fully comprehended what this scheme was, or what sort of valley the proposed line would run through. He fancied the House supposed that Ennerdale Valley was a district teeming with mineral wealth, and that it merely wanted a railway to bring that wealth into the market, and make the people happy and prosperous. Now, Ennerdale Valley was a valley 10 or 12 miles in length. This railway proposed to occupy something like seven miles of that valley, and to get out of the valley by any other way than that in which the railway proposed to enter it, it would be necessary to climb over a range of hills from 2,000 to 2,500 feet high. The line must stop where the Bill proposed that it should stop. Was there any population to be served in the valley? He believed there were only 75 people living between Ennerdale Bridge and the place where this line proposed to stop. [Mr. CAVENDISH BENTINCK: Four miles.] Well, in a district extending four miles 75 people resided, and there were, perhaps, 12 or, possibly, 15 houses in it. The right hon. and learned Gentleman had referred to the Eskdale Railway, and had asked why the hon. Gentleman 1831 the Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Bryce) had not stopped the Eskdale Railway Bill. The illustration given by the right hon. and learned Gentleman was a most unfortunate one, because the Eskdale Railway had destroyed, without the slightest advantage to the public, a very beautiful piece of country. And in what condition was the Eskdale Railway on that day? The Eskdale Railway had been made with a mine at the terminus, and both the mine and the railway were at this moment bankrupt. The working of the mine, after disfiguring the hill-side, had been stopped, and the railway practically conveyed no one to the district at all. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said that the railway was intended to convey passengers to the locality who now found themselves unable to get there. Now, the neighbourhood was essentially a pedestrian neighbourhood, and it would be of no use for anyone to go into Ennerdale Valley who had not the full use of his legs. There was already a railway within a mile and a-half of Ennerdale Bridge, which was the only village in the valley, and people went there in large numbers. Only last year, when he was there, at the end of August or the beginning of September, he found from 300 to 400 school children from Egremont enjoying the scenery in that valley. It was, therefore, idle to say that people could not get there, and if the proposed railway were made, he ventured to say that no one would travel by it, because it could only be approached by a long journey around the coast-line, which nobody would undertake, seeing that the carriage route was so much shorter. Under those circumstances, he earnestly appealed to the House to allow this Instruction to be passed, in order that the Committee might have a fair issue before them, whether the scenery of this valley was to be destroyed or not. If the Instruction were not given to the Committee, it seemed to him that they would be powerless in the matter.
§ MR. PEMBERTON
said, he wished to say, before the House went to a Division, that the case seemed to him to be one of serious importance. As far as the opposition embodied in the Resolution was concerned, it amounted to this—that the inhabitants of a district of singular beauty, and the owners of land 1832 presenting grand features of scenery, were to be deprived of the ordinary right of improving their property and developing the resources of the district because someone else admired it. It seemed to him that the opposition amounted to nothing more nor less than the confiscation of property. Every other question except that which affected the scenery could be urged in the Committee upstairs, and were simply questions for the Committee to decide. If there were only 75 inhabitants in the district which the railway would serve, the Bill, no doubt, would be thrown out by the Committee. Then, again, if there was no traffic, and nothing for the railway to carry—if the funds were insufficient for making the railway, those questions would simply and solely, according to the custom of the House, have to be decided by the Committee, and he thought it would be a grave invasion of the practice of the House if a Bill of this nature was to be rejected because somebody else happened to admire the scenery through which the line would pass. He trusted that the Bill, in the ordinary course, would be sent to a Select Committee.
§ MR. ROBERTSON
said, he strongly objected to a general Resolution of this kind being sent as an Instruction to a Select Committee. Such a Resolution would impose upon the persons who appeared as suitors before the Committee very heavy responsibilities. The Resolution gave power to the Committee to inquire and report to the House whether the proposed railway would interfere with the enjoyment of the public who annually visited the Lake District, by injuriously affecting the scenery or otherwise; and it gave them power to call witnesses and to receive evidence upon the subject. Consequently, no end of persons might be called before the Committee. Allegations contained in a Petition came regularly before a Committee, but the passing of a Resolution of this nature would render it impossible for the promoters of the Bill to know whore the investigation would end. If the Association calling themselves "The Lake Defence Association" was to be allowed to interfere in every question affecting the Lake District, there would be no knowing where its operations would end. Take the case of North Wales, 1833 with which he was familiar. Suppose there had been a Defence Association in North Wales to prevent a railway from going down the Vale of Llangollen, or to approach the Bala Lake, or the Estuary of Barmouth, or Llanrwst or Llanberis, how would those districts have been developed, and what would have happened in regard to the employment of labour? It was impossible to see the Lake District of Merionethshire without going through the most lovely valleys; and was the Defence Association to be allowed to interfere, and, by opposing the introduction of railways, to render the scenery altogether inaccessible to the public? He trusted that Parliament would pay no attention whatever to the sentimental views of those persons. The objects of the Lake Association were most Quixotic, and ought to receive no encouragement from the House of Commons. He trusted that the Bill would be referred to a Committee, and that it would be inquired into solely upon its own merits.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 121; Noes 101: Majority 20.—(Div. List, No. 21.)