Motion made, and Question proposed,
That Standing Orders 84, 214, 215, and 239 be suspended, and that the Bill be now taken into consideration, provided amended prints shall have been previously deposited."—(Mr. Caldwell.)
§ (3.15.) MR. PICTON (Leicester)
I desire to say a word or two upon this Bill and the long suspension of the undertaking of the works sanctioned. I happen to have personal knowledge of the injury that has been done, and I may say at once that though I am a resident in the neighbourhood of Regent's Park, and on the line of the proposed railway, I have personally no interest in the matter. I am but a temporary dweller there, and can leave the district at any time without any pecuniary loss, and no personal considerations influence me. But I do know, from personal observation and inquiry, that the land in the 1719 district has been broken up into small ownerships, and the owners are not able or willing to incur the very heavy expenses that attend representation before a Parliamentary Committee. I know that our Select Committees do their work in a thoroughly judicial manner, and endeavour to administer justice all round; but there are cases that do not, and cannot, come before them, and I think such cases of hardships may very fairly, in relation to a Bill of this kind, be brought before the House. In 1882 this Bill was first obtained—ten years ago—and the time wherein to construct the line has been lengthened from period to period, and now it is still proposed to extend the time for another year. If we were quite certain that work would be begun in 1893, I should have little to say on the subject; but, so far as I can learn, there is no reason to suppose that work will actually be carried on when this Bill is passed. Meantime, houses remain unoccupied owing to the uncertainty as to what is going to be done, and owners are put to great loss, and, of course, when the property is taken, only the present value or compulsory purchase terms will be awarded. It is a hardship upon these owners, and I earnestly hope that if this Bill goes forward the promoters will favourably consider the claims of these owners. This is only one case out of many enterprises continually undertaken and remaining suspended from year to year, to the detriment of property in the neighbourhood. Surely it is not too much to expect that when promoters undertake a railway scheme such as this, they should count the cost beforehand and estimate the probabilities of raising their capital, not rushing hastily into a project to the great injury of property that may be affected. If completed I have no doubt this railway would be a beneficent work, though I am sorry to say it will greatly interfere with the pleasant aspect of one of our most agreeable parks on the north side of London, Regent's Park. But no doubt it will be a useful line, and will be of great public convenience; I allow all that. Still, I think we ought to have some explanation of this very long delay in undertaking the work, and some 1720 assurance that if we suspend the Standing Orders to facilitate the progress of this Bill we shall not be met with a similar demand next year.
§ (3.19.) MR. MORTON (Peterborough)
I will not detain the House, and only interpose to correct a statement which appeared in one of the morning papers to the effect that I yesterday opposed this Bill and caused this Motion to be deferred to to-day. That is absolutely incorrect. I had no intention of opposing the Bill, and could not have done so, for I was not in the House when the Motion was made. Personally I am inclined to support the Bill, and the Commissioners of Sewers for the City of London, of which body I am a member, are supporters of the Bill.
§ (3.20.) MR. DIXON-HARTLAND (Middlesex, Uxbridge)
In reference to what has been said by the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Picton), I may say that of the ten thousand small owners who are more or less interested in this railway, and who have all had the opportunity of petitioning against it, not one has done so, and this, I think, shows that the feeling of owners of property is in favour of the proposal. As to the prospect of the undertaking being carried through, I am informed that directly the capital is obtained work will commence.
§ (3.21.) MR. HOWELL (Bethnal Green, N.E.)
I took some interest in the Bill when it was before the House on previous occasions, and I take an interest in it still. My hon. Friend the Member for Leicester has not apparently been informed as to the chief causes of the delay which has occurred, and the abandonment of a portion of the scheme, which was to have been undertaken by the Great Northern Company and another Railway Company. This has necessitated the Bill coming again before a Committee, and the Committee were satisfied with the explanations given; and I am assured that the promoters have every belief that the line will soon be completed, the great difficulty being removed by the subsidiary lines, the construction of which would have been very costly, having been abandoned with the object of bringing 1721 the capital of the company down to a manageable amount. The length of the line will be thirteen miles, and I hope this will be completed; for, judging of the Bill as it is, with arrangements for cheap trains, there can be no question it would be a great boon to our working class population in London.
§ (3.24.) THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (Mr. COURTNEY,) Cornwall, Bodmin
No doubt it is an inconvenient thing to have a great project like this hanging up for ten years, as the hon. Member for Leicester has said. I hope, however, without being too sanguine, that the difficulties may soon be removed. In its original conception the project was a vast one, and required a very large amount of capital to carry out. Hence it was that from time to time the promoters had to come to Parliament for a renewal of their powers. They are now in a position to say that with the abandonment of two railways, and a portion of a railway authorised by the Act of 1882, a very costly part of the scheme, the release of so much of the capital as these portions of the scheme involved, the reduction of the capital to be raised, and the payment of interest at the rate of three instead of four per cent., there is every prospect of the work going forward. The financial proposals have been examined and approved, and the Board of Trade make no objection to the abandonment of the subsidiary lines.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Bill considered.
§ To be read the third time.