HC Deb 26 April 1898 vol 56 cc1094-145

Order for second reading read.

Motion made and Question proposed— That the Bill be now read a second time.'

Amendment proposed— To leave out the word 'now,' and at the end of the Question to add the words, 'upon this day six months.'"—(Mr. Burdett-Coutts.)

MR. BURDETT-COUTTS (Westminster)

Mr. Speaker, in rising to oppose this Measure, I feel I must ask for the indulgence and patience of the House, which I think will be readily granted to one representing the constituency affected. But I do not look on this as a local matter; this Bill involves interests and considerations very close to this House itself, and which might easily claim a more able and experienced defender. And, Sir, I am conscious that we who are opposed to this Bill are under a special disadvantage. This Bill has gained some, perhaps many, friends in the House by means of a system of private and personal advancement and exhortation, which we have not had at our hand to anything like the same extent, partly because we did not see fit to employ it, and partly because we have not the motive power possessed by the promoters of the Bill. We are not financially interested in its defeat as they are financially interested in its success. And I would ask the House to bear in mind, from first to last, that whatever its aspects of "public improvement," as it is called, whatever facilities it may appear to afford for carrying out a long-delayed and much-wanted public improvement, whatever names have been attracted to its support by those considerations, the genesis and ultimate object of this Bill is a financial speculation, and that once we pass the Bill, the authority to which the promoters of the scheme will be responsible for the conduct of the enterprise is not the public, whose interests they assume to serve; not the local governing authorities, whose functions they are usurping; not this House, whose compulsory powers they will have obtained, but a body of shareholders, who, like all people in that capacity, will be clamouring for dividends by whatever means they can be obtained. I beg the House to bear this cardinal fact in mind, and to weigh all the arguments adduced in favour of the Bill by the light of it. Sir, the Bill proposes to deal with a site which, from an architectural and historic point of view, is the most valuable and interesting that remains to be dealt with in London; a site which affords the only opportunity to meet the future national requirements for public offices; a site peculiarly precious to this House, because it abuts on and partly surrounds it, and because it stands in the same relation to the most venerable monument in England—the great Abbey over the way. I will endeavour to show how a Bill conceived in a commercial spirit and having a commercial purpose in view, promoted in this House by gentlemen who have financial reasons for its passing, does not come to us on a basis calculated to preserve, and cannot be trusted to preserve, those great public and national interests which are involved in the site, and which this House is bound to safeguard. Sir, I do not want to push this argument one inch further than is justified by the facts of the present case. I wish to illustrate it by those facts. I am far from wishing to impede private enterprise in improving and beautifying London, or in any other branch of commercial activity. It will, perhaps, be said in the course of the Debate that the Cadogan estate owes its improvement to a syndicate or company such as this. I shall have two other instances to give, which have happened here in Westminster, of exactly similar private enterprises endowed with compulsory powers by this House, which ended, the one in a hopeless failure and the other in a historic disaster. They are far closer to the present case than the example of the Cadogan estate. For, Sir, in that case a large portion of the estate was unoccupied ground—Prince's cricket ground; and comparatively few people had to be turned out. Moreover—and I quote the Cadogan case for the purpose of making this point—the public improvements necessary in that case were exactly the improvements which suited the views and interests of the promoters—namely, fairly wide and well-arranged streets to add to the value of their houses. There was no great public improvement required, apart from the private interest of the syndicate, as is the case when we come and look at this great river site, adjacent to the House of Commons, needing an Embankment, and needing one wide and convenient thoroughfare, all constructed on a plan having the public interest and solely the public interest in view. Now, my point is: that in this case, where the public interest comes into conflict with the private interest of the syndicate, the public interest goes to the wall, and that, therefore, it is wrong for this House to commit a site involving great public and national interests to a private or financial syndicate. That is a question of principle which I think this House ought to decide, and not leave to a Committee. I do not think the House has hitherto looked on such propositions with favour. It was a curious coincidence that on the day on which this Bill was first set down, and immediately after its postponement, another private Bill came up for Second Reading, which involved exactly the same principles as those in this Bill. It was called the Wymondham Waterworks Bill. A private syndicate asked the House for compulsory powers to enable them to supply the population of a small town in Norfolk with pure water; a laudable enterprise one would, at first sight, have thought. But this was a function appertaining to the local authority—one which, apparently, they had not yet performed. It was shown in the Debate, which I listened to with great interest, that the local authorities were against the Bill, and the inhabitants were against it. Speaker after speaker got up and objected to the Bill on this account. It was characterised as— An attempt by a body of outside speculators to capture an area against the wishes and remonstrances of all the local authorities of the district. It was said that— For four gentlemen to come and ask for power over the heads of the local authority and of the population was a proposition to be scouted by this House. In fact, on questions of principle, the Debate might have stood for a Debate on this Bill; the principles were identical. And, Sir, when once they were made clear the House did not hesitate as to what line it ought to take. The Bill, in spite of the strong support of a high authority, was actually rejected without a Division. Now, Sir, what are the so-called public benefits which this scheme proposes to confer, and how does it propose to carry them out? Sir, the public benefits possible to the scheme practically consist of two things only, and these are inseparable the one from the other—the making of the Embankment and the making of a main thoroughfare, i.e., the continuation of the noble river-road which now stretches from Blackfriars Bridge to one end of this House, and which begins at a point beyond Lambeth Bridge, and is continued in a somewhat less spacious form, but still as a fairly adequate river-road for that part of the town, the whole way along the river to Battersea Bridge. This leaves a section still uncompleted which extends from the Victoria Tower Gardens past Lambeth Bridge down to the point I have just mentioned. The completion of that section of the Embankment in a manner worthy of the site has long been the ambition and hope of all London. But the promoters say: "This is what we are going to do." Are they? Why, Sir, this scheme sacrifices such a hope for ever. It does not even need a plan to explain this, but a suggested plan is in the hands of honourable Members. The great road which faces the House of Commons and the House of Lords and which itself, when Parliament Street is widened, will be a continuation of Whitehall, ought, of course, to be carried straight to Lambeth Bridge to form a junction with the rest of the Embankment beyond Lambeth Bridge. Such a road, between this House and Lambeth Bridge, ought to be left open on its river side, and the space between it and the river left as an open space for the continuation of the Victoria Tower Garden gradually narrowing down to the Bridge. Then that great avenue and the masses of people who will use it as a thoroughfare, and the public and the poor to whom those gardens will be an unending source of delight and fresh air, will have a clear view of the river and the picturesque Lambeth side; then, too, the multitudinous passenger traffic that comes down the river and by the Embankment from the south will have a clear and uninterrupted view of the Victoria Tower, and of this fine Palace of Westminster, not crowded up on one side by a block of houses of a paying height, and dominated and shut in by a new Chicago, but standing out alone on the river in its singular architectural beauty and its majestic popular significance. Well, Sir, I don't want to use big words, but I ask for what purpose were millions spent on this structure when we are going to throw away the only chance of rendering that expenditure effective as to its surroundings? I do claim that a dignified and beautiful treatment of those surroundings will find a responsive echo in the minds of all Englishmen who look on it, and who are conscious of a common pride and sense of property in the palace and home of that form of government in which the humblest of them has some share and authority. Sir, this is the only plan worthy of the dignity and beauty of the site; and it is the plan for which the site affords the most obvious and natural facilities so long as it is treated in a public and not a money-making spirit. What does the scheme offer us in place of this? They are going to put a great block of buildings right up against the Victoria Gardens between their main road and the river. They say they are going to do the Embankment. Of course they must embank the river to build their houses; but what they call an Embankment is or was a little narrow road, which they now say they are going to make a little wider, approached by a still narrower street at right angles to their main avenue and leading out of it down to the river. As is shown on their plan the use of this Embankment road of theirs as a thoroughfare by the general traffic that now uses the Embankment necessitates, in passing from the south side of Lambeth Bridge to the front of this House, the turning of four right angles. What becomes of their main road it is almost ludicrous to consider. In order to make this great river block of buildings as deep and valuable as possible the Avenue is pushed back from the river and made to debouch into the narrow Horseferry Road, which runs at right angles to it at a point 70 yards distant from Lambeth Bridge, where Horseferry Road is mot 40 feet wide, and where it will form a dead end to this precious avenue. The traffic using that line as a thoroughfare will have to turn two right angles in a short length, and for 70 yards will be hopelessly congested in a narrow street only 40 feet wide. There are a hundred other faults in the scheme; but I want to fix the attention of the House on this great one—this great block of buildings which will dominate and shut in the small Victoria Tower Garden, which will impose itself for a great length over the river, and which will smile with lofty condescension upon the Palace of Westminster itself. The promoters have propounded a modified plan. To conciliate one set of objections they say they are not going to touch the little 18th century quarter that lies up against the Abbey; to conciliate another, they say they are going to leave the side of Abingdon Street which faces the House of Lords alone; and to conciliate, I had almost said to hoodwink, a third, they have set their river block a few feet further back, to add to the width of their Embankment road. But this great river block of buildings remains. In a recent paper of a somewhat extraordinary kind the promoters say that "nothing has been decided with regard to this river block." Do they mean us to infer that they are willing to give it up? No, Sir, from the first it has been a glaring objection to the scheme. They have modified their plans in this direction, and that; but this still remains. Why? Because, no matter how incompatible with the public interest, it is necessary to the commercial character of the scheme. I claim, Sir, that I have made good my first principle, that it is not right for this House to set up this conflict between the interest of the public and the private interest of the shareholders, or to grant to a private syndicate compulsory powers which are bound to be exercised to the prejudice of the public good. Sir, out of this there arises a second principle, which, so far as it applies in this case to the London County Council, will no doubt be more zealously guarded by some other Members of the House than by me. I may not be over fond of the London County Council, but I do recognise that by Act of Parliament the House of Commons has expressly committed to the hands of a public authority the functions of executing public works, which the promoters of this Bill ask the House to place in their hands. It is no valid answer to say that in a particular case those functions have been postponed or delayed, and therefore they should be committed to other hands. The principle of who is to do these things has been settled, and it was so settled because those public functions could only be safe in the hands of a representative body, directly responsible to the electors, and would not be safe in the hands of private promoters who, once they have obtained their powers, are responsible only to their shareholders. Sir, in my opinion, the treatment of this great national site, so far as the immediate vicinity of this House is concerned, ought to be a national affair. But, if a narrower view be held, it is worth while to remind the House that the next authority, the London County Council, is strongly opposed to this scheme, and that the next below that, the only local representative authority of the district affected, the Westminster Vestry, is strongly opposed to it. And, Sir, the Westminster Vestry are the most enlightened body of men to be found anywhere. Sir, my third point involves a principle on which I think this House is never appealed to in vain. I protest, Sir, against the great act of injustice which this House is asked to commit against a population numbering 6,000 souls, by turning them out of their homes, and sending them to live somewhere, anywhere but where they have always lived; by destroying the only means of livelihood possessed by a great number of them; by casting them out on the world, not only to find new homes, but to start new industries, amongst new people, and to begin anew life's work under disadvantages which they have done nothing to merit at the hands of this House. This hinterland—where all these people dwell—has nothing whatever to do with the public benefits involved in the scheme, the Embankment and the main thoroughfare. For what purpose is this House asked to inflict this great wrong on a populous community? In order to transform a poor district into a rich one—for the sake of putting money into the pockets of a number of shareholders, not one of whom should be of any more importance in the eye of the House than the humblest of these 6,000 people you are going to drive out. Why should this House charge itself with such a duty? Since when was it considered a public benefit to change the character of a district from a poor quarter into a rich one? Which party in this House is it that desires to employ the compulsory powers of this House for such a purpose? I would ask the House not to be deluded by what are called "protective clauses for the re-housing of the working classes." We have seen those clauses over and over again, and we know how they work, and we know the facility with which they can be evaded. At best they can only supply accommodation for a particular section of the poor, generally at high rentals in great caravanserais called "model lodging-houses"; and when you have stowed these people away in a big barrack you think you have done everything. Do you deny the place of sentiment amongst those classes? Are there not many amongst them who hate that sort of housing just as much as people in other classes hate living in a great building of flats, many who feel that it destroys that sense of the integrity of home life which, however poor and humble the house may be, is a peculiar instinct of many of the English working classes? And what of all the little trades and industries which cannot be carried on in a model lodging-house, and which will be destroyed and cannot be started again? What of all the people who do not come within the narrow and rigid definition of "working classes" contained in the re-housing clauses of this Bill? I trust that some other speaker will deal at length with this subject. I would only submit that it is an act of wanton injustice to turn all these people out of their homes for the sake of making a rich quarter. Let me show this House by a small but significant instance how this intention is kept in view by the plans. There is a street running through a poor part of Westminster called Great Peter Street, which it is proposed to continue through this site in a broader form. On the deposited plan, at the point of junction between the old and new portions of this street, there is a bend made which throws the continuation out of the true line. For what purpose? Why, simply in order to shut out from the view of the wealthy inhabitants of the new street the poor, perhaps the squalid, characteristics of the old one. I do not see this bend on the small reproductions of the plan that have been circulated by the promoters; but it is there all the same, and it is significant of the spirit in which the scheme has been conceived and the future policy that will be adopted by its directors. I do not blame them. They have got to make dividends. But I do ask this House whether this is a spirit and a policy for which the compulsory powers of this House should be granted, and whether those powers ought to be given to commit a great act of expropriation and injustice for the benefit of a private syndicate? Now, Sir, as to the financial question. It is proposed that the capital of the company should be £1,000,000, with borrowing powers up to another £500,000. Sir, it does not need an expert opinion to tell us that such a sum is altogether inadequate for the purpose, and that it would require at least three times that sum to place the scheme on a sound financial footing, if, as no doubt the House assumes, the promoters intend to carry out this scheme themselves. I would remark that the Vestry of Westminster alone, in their capacity as guardians of the public interests of the district, will require a sum of from £50,000 to £70,000 as security for the disturbance of rates during construction, and a further sum of £110,000 as security for roads, sewers, and footways. But are we to see a million and a half, are we to see even a million, before we give over the powers? No, Sir. By Clause 19 of the Bill the syndicate are empowered to put their compulsory powers in force when they have got £250,000 of capital, and that £250,000 not paid up but only subscribed. So, without any paid-up capital at all, they can gain their compulsory powers over the whole of this site, and they will be in a position to go full swing ahead with the system of land-jobbing and site-jobbing by which alone this promotion can thrive. Sir, if this is not sufficient warning, Westminster itself supplies another, peculiarly significant and appropriate to these proposals. Does the House know anything about the history of the building of Victoria Street? At least it will be within the recollection of many of those whom I am addressing that for a very great number of years that thoroughfare with its valuable property on either side remained in a hopeless state of incompletion. For the most part it was a thoroughfare of vacant sites and hideous stretches of hoarding. Year after year these remained to the amazement of the public, to the disgrace of the district, and to the despair of the local authorities. And how did that come about? By placing that site in exactly the same position and under the same conditions as we are now asked to assign to this more important property. As far back as the year 1845 a private syndicate, composed, I venture to say, of men quite as responsible, to all appearances, as the promoters of this Bill, and calling themselves by the not altogether dissimilar title of the Westminster Improvement Commissioners, obtained from this House an Act of Parliament to construct that street, which gave them compulsory powers over the property. Sir, I can't think of wearying the House with the tortuous history of that miserable undertaking—how again and again they came to this House for new powers and successive extensions of time; how they got hold of what they called "improved rates," which did not exist, and borrowed a great sum of money on the prospects and saddled the Vestry with a heavy debt; how, when they had got a million, the capital of this company, they had to go back to their shareholders and bondholders over and over again for more capital, without getting it; how they sold and leased and mortgaged their property in big bits and little bits to hundreds of different speculators; and how, discredited and incompetent, with their £500 bonds going a-begging in the market at £5, they fell into bankruptcy and so disappeared. But they left a bitter legacy behind them for Westminster, in this alienation of the property which was left untenanted and un-built on, and could not be recovered; so that for 50 years Victoria Street remained an eyesore and a disgrace to London. And this was a direct consequence of committing this site into the hands of a private syndicate. Could the imagination conceive a more apt and ominous precedent for what we are asked to do to-day? The obstruction and disfigurement of this part of London for over 50 years was not the only result of putting that property into the hands of a syndicate. Look at Victoria Street now. It ought to be one of the finest streets in London. But because the site was given over to just such a syndicate as this Victoria Street is now, in spite of its width, a gloomy and apparently narrow lane enclosed within two sides of vast residential flats which I daresay, are profitable to the owners, but which are prison walls to the thoroughfare. And this is exactly what will be repeated on this far more important site we are asked to hand over now. Then the second case is that of the Parliament Street Improvement Scheme. In 1887 that property was placed in the hands of a private syndicate similar to this. They came to Parliament four times for successive extensions of time. They could do nothing with it. The whole scheme was an abject failure, and at last, in 1895, the Government wisely took the property into their own hands. I should like to ask the promoters of this Bill whether there is any connection between the personnel of this scheme and the personnel of that failure. Sir, it may be urged that both the plans and the financial provisions are matters for a Committee upstairs; but I submit that there are principles and matters in this Bill which this House ought to decide, and not leave to a Committee; there are principles at stake which this House ought not to shirk; and there are results which are inevitable and which no Committee can permanently avoid. There is the principle of the fundamental and inevitable conflict between the interest of the public and the interest of the shareholders; the principle of depriving public representative bodies of the functions this House has conferred on them; the principle involved in the great act of injustice to the poor population. There is the spirit and policy of the undertaking made clear in the financial provisions, and the absence of all security for the undertaking being carried out, and of all safeguards against the property being alienated to persons who cannot be reached or controlled. And, lastly, there is the impolicy of handing over to a private and self-interested syndicate a property of public and national importance, and a site which forms the very threshold to this home of the Imperial Government. All these points this House, I submit, and not a Committee, ought to decide, and upon them I ask the House to reject the Bill.

MR. T. H. ROBERTSON (Hackney, S.)

I beg to second the rejection of this Bill, and I need not occupy the House very long, inasmuch as my real objection is that principle which has been stated by the hon. Member for Westminster, namely, that powers such as these should not be committed to any private Company whatsoever. It appears to me that there are permanently constituted public bodies which have already shown their desire to carry out such improvements as these, and I venture to say there is not a single instance of similar powers having been granted to any private body before by this House. The hon. Member for Westminster has mentioned the Cadogan and Hans Pavement Improvement, but he has shown that that was a different scheme to this. There was a very remarkable difference. The person who was the promoter was the owner of the whole estate, and it was a blot upon London that roads could not be carried through that estate, and therefore he came to this House to ask that he might be empowered to make these roads, and there were clauses in that Bill dealing with other property which was necessary to be dealt with for the purpose of making these roads. There were also clauses in that Bill protecting almost everybody who objected to the scheme, and there were clauses giving protection, not to the freeholders only, but to the ordinary occupiers. The hon. Member has mentioned the Parliament Street scheme, which failed. He also mentioned the Victoria Street scheme, which has certainly not carried out the views of Parliament. Further, there is the Searle Street Improvement scheme, and there is another scheme which will probably be mentioned. That was the case of a company which had previously acquired three-fourths of the land which was proposed to be dealt with, and it was hold desirable to come to the House in order that they might obtain the remaining quarter. That, the House will see, has no kind of connection with the present scheme. Then I am told, but I shall not be able to verify it, that there was one other scheme sanctioned by this House, namely, the Whitehall scheme, of which Whitehall Mansions are completed. I do not know very much about that, but it is, I believe, very closely associated with a gentleman, a former Member of this House, who was known hero as Mr. Spencer Balfour, but was known later on as Mr. Jabez Balfour; but I do not know that that particular scheme will afford an instance which will be very much of an inducement to this House to adopt the one we are now discussing. Personally, I am very much in favour of private enterprise, but I understand private enterprise to be doing a thing yourself, and that is being done at the present moment in many parts of the Kingdom. In London itself there is at the present moment a company which is effecting a very large improvement in the neighbourhood of Victoria Street. But how are they doing it? They have not come to Parliament to ask for power to pay out people. They are paying them out themselves, and then, having paid them out, they will execute their improvement. Then, again, there is the Arcade which is being built in Birmingham. In that case they have made arrangements with all the owners of the various lands which they wish to take over, and the scheme is going forward, and the Chairman tells me it will be a very profitable investment. If this syndicate think they can make a profit by buying this land, let them buy it by all means; but they have no right to come to this House and ask it to give them compulsory powers to buy these lands, when, as the honourable Member for Westminster has shown, at least on three-quarters of the land which they seek compulsory powers to purchase they do not even pretend to make any improvement whatsoever. On the frontage they pretend to make an improvement, but I think the honourable Member has shown that no improvement will be made there; but, so far as the back land is concerned, there is not the slightest pretence of doing anything which will be of the least use to the general public. Now, Sir, the promoters of this Bill held an interview some time ago with the Chairman of Ways and Means; and to that interview the secretary to the Chairman of Ways and Means invited me as a known opponent of this scheme, so that everything which passed at that interview is perfectly public. During that interview the promoters admitted frankly that this great block of buildings between the main road—the road which they call The Avenue—and the river, was an absolutely essential part of their scheme; and, therefore, I say that these criticisms of the honourable Member for Westminster are not criticisms as to detail, but they are criticisms which go to the merits of the Bill. The promoters of the Bill at that interview went on to say that, as regards the back land behind this avenue, they had no particular views at all. They were willing to do almost anything that the Committee might think fit; but I venture to say that that is not the spirit in which to come to this House for a Bill. People who come to this House for compulsory powers ought to show that they have some means of improving the public thoroughfares or other public conveniences of the district, and they ought not to come and ask this House to supply a scheme for them. The real gist of the scheme is to acquire that great block of buildings between a main inland thoroughfare and the small Embankment road. That is really the essence of the Bill, and at the Same time the promoters propose to acquire what we call the "Hinterland"—that is, the back land. It has been said that a large part of the land which they propose to take consists of slums. Now, I venture to say that anyone who calls this back land "slums," has a very slight knowledge of what are really slums, because they would be confusing the idea of slums with the idea of small tenements or small houses. I have some knowledge of what slums really are, and I can assure the House that slums, in almost every case, exist in large dwellings. It is the large dwellings, more or less out of repair, which turn gradually into slums, and usually a slum is a cul de sac—a place of no thoroughfare. In the whole of this district—and I think I know every passage in it—there is no such thing as a place where there is no thoroughfare. The whole district is open to the public traffic. The part that has been abandoned by the promoters is inhabited to a large extent by persons of the working class or small shopkeepers. This part does not consist of slums. If you want slums you have to go a little further off. This Bill seems purposely to avoid the very worst part of that district. There are parts of the district, and I admit it frankly, which might be called slums, but they are not within the scope of this Bill. The honourable Member for Westminster has mentioned that the working classes dislike these very large buildings. Now, I live in the midst of a working-class district, and I am quite prepared to support that view. I know perfectly well that the working classes do very much dislike these large buildings, and I say that it is not the duty of this House to hasten the time when the working classes are driven from their small houses into this larger class of house which they dislike. It may be, of course, an absolute necessity that in process of time they will be driven from the small houses into the large ones. I know a great deal of this district. I have no species of pecuniary interest of any sort, kind, or description in the passing or non-passing of this Bill, but I have been approached by a vast number of small shopkeepers in this district. It must be remembered that, in addition to the working classes, there are shopkeepers who have built up a business in the neighbourhood, and no compensation that could be given to them under the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act will compensate them for being turned out of this district, where it is not proposed to make any alteration whatsoever for the convenience of the public. There is one matter connected with this Bill which I should not have referred to but for the fact of the Whip which has been send out. As the House knows, there are four gentlemen, Members of this House, who are named as members of the Company. They are the very gentlemen who are asking to be incorporated as persons entitled to buy up this property, and two of these gentlemen will, if the Bill passes, be entitled to be directors of the Company when it is formed. Therefore it is clear that those four gentlemen have a direct interest in the passing of this Bill. One of the gentlemen, who has already indicated his intention of not voting upon the Bill, has not signed it, but inasmuch as the Whip has been signed by three of them. I think it only right to say that I hope they will not vote when the Division is taken on this Bill; and, of course, they would not think of acting as Tellers. There is also one other gentleman, a Member of this House, who is a member of this syndicate, and I have no doubt that he will not think of voting in favour of this Bill. I urge that such powers as those ought not to be granted to any private company, but ought to be left to some public body, and I therefore call upon the House to reject this Bill.

SIR JOHN LUBBOCK (London University)

The honourable Member for Westminster, who moved the rejection of this Bill, commenced his speech by characterising the improvement which this Bill seeks to make as much-needed. I think that no one acquainted with the district can doubt that that is the fact. He spoke in very eloquent terms of the neighbourhood, and then he proceeded for a considerable time to pour great scorn upon those who are supporting this Bill, without giving the slightest reason for so doing. He has specified them as speculators—as land-jobbers—


I did not use the word "speculator" with regard to the promoters of this Bill or anybody connected with it. I carefully avoided doing so. I quoted a speech made in this House with regard to another Bill—that is all—and I did not use the word "land-jobbers." What I said was "land-jobbing."


That seems rather a fine distinction. The honourable Member who has just sat down was good enough to compare the promoters of this Bill to Jabez Balfour.


I must protest against that. I said I knew nothing about the Whitehall Bill. As a master of fact, that was the work of Jabez Balfour, as everybody knows, but I never made the slightest comparison.


I am very glad to hear these admissions, but I must confess I am at a loss to understand what relevancy the observation of the honourable Member had. The honourable Member for Westminster dwelt for some time upon the case of a water company in Norfolk. What that has got to do with this particular Bill I fail to see. He spoke in very eloquent terms, with which I most cordially agree, as to the importance of the site, close as it is to this House and to that great Abbey to which we all look with so much veneration. I do not yield either to him or to the honourable Member who seconded him in that respect, but it was on that very account that I supported this Measure, because I believed that it would promote the improvement of London. These buildings, which are so near the House and the Abbey, are absolutely unworthy of the grand situation they occupy. The honourable Member who has moved the rejection of this Bill and the honourable Member who has seconded it have said very little indeed with reference to the improvement itself. They have admitted that the improvement is necessary—they have made some few trifling and minor criticisms, such as that one street is to take a turn, and the honourable Member for Westminster seemed to know why the promoters proposed that that turn should be taken. But the fundamental ground of their objections to this Bill is clearly stated—that in their opinion no improvement of this kind should be undertaken by private enterprise; surely, however, it is most desirable that, under whatever auspices a Bill of this kind may be proposed, a Committee upstairs should carefully investigate all the circumstances and the facts. The First Commissioner of Works when he comes to speak will confirm me in saying that the promoters of this Bill have been most anxious to adopt all the suggestions which have been made on behalf of the Government, and will, if the House pleases to send the Bill upstairs, carefully adopt anything in reason which is suggested by the Committee, and which will be of an improving character. Their desire is to make the buildings in this district worthy of their surroundings, and they will accept any suggestions which have that object in view. Her Majesty's Government have made suggestions, all of which have been adopted by the promoters of this Bill, and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have also made certain suggestions which have been willingly accepted by the promoters. We have heard a good deal of talk about the Jewel Tower. There never was any intention of interfering with the Jewel Tower, and if this Bill is passed it will become more visible than it is at the present moment. Then, Sir, we are told that this Bill will dispossess a certain number of the working classes. A great part of the district itself was built long ago, when the conditions and requirements as to light and air were very different to what they are at the present time. Putting aside the question of the architectural condition of the neighbourhood, the condition of the houses of the working classes is in a most unsatisfactory state. The honourable Member who has just sat down has given a somewhat peculiar description of the word "slum." If honourable Members would pay a visit to these close alleys and see the actual condition in which they are, they would be more in favour of this Bill—more influenced on its behalf than by any speeches made by those who are asking for it. The conditions as to light and air are most unsatisfactory. There are a great many houses which have no open space at the back, and there are cases in which the conveniences are common to several houses and sometimes to a whole court, and if we should unfortunately have an outbreak of infectious disease, I tremble to think of what would happen in that part of the district. Fully one-half of the houses in this district which are occupied by the working classes are of a character which the law would not now allow to be put up. Surely that is a very serious state of things, and one which this House will, if it rejects the Second Reading, indefinitely prolong. Then we are told that the matter ought to be left to the local authorities. We have had the views of the Westminster Vestry. I will not question the very laudatory account given of them by the honourable Member who moved the rejection of this Bill. They have drawn up a long document which they have sent to Members of Parliament, and I think those who have read it will agree that they have not succeeded in stating their views so clearly as they might have done. The Vestry strongly opposes the Bill as an act of injustice to six thousand inhabitants of Westminster, whom it is proposed to turn out of their homes. That would be an objection to any scheme of this kind. Then they go and say— The Vestry are by no means averse to the carrying out of improvements in the public interest, as is recently endorsed by the fact that they have expended £23,000 upon such works, and are committed to an outlay of £33,000 on similar operations during the current financial year. Moreover, they have on numerous occasions urged the County Council to carry out such improvements, both in connection with the opening up of the Millbank Prison site, and elsewhere, and the Vestry have welcomed the recent resolution of the Council, which contemplates the embanking of the river at Millbank, by that body. Therefore they admit that this matter must be dealt with very shortly, and I need hardly point out that the longer this improvement is put off the more expensive it will necessarily be. Having admitted that some improvement of this kind is really necessary, the Vestry of Westminster goes on to say that the working classes are going to be dispossessed, and that sufficient provision is not being made for their accommodation. As I understand, five acres of land in the same parish have been secured for the purpose of re-housing the working classes, but in any case I submit that that is a question which might fairly be left to the Committee upstairs, and if that is done I have no doubt that that Committee will say that proper provision has been made in this respect. It is said by the opponents of this scheme that it is too large a measure to be dealt with by private enterprise. Well, really, when we have before us what has been done by Peabody, Guinness, Waterlow, and Lord Rowton, it does seem to me to be somewhat absurd to say that this matter is too large to be carried out by private enterprise. I do not think I should be acting in accordance with the wishes of the House if I were to follow the honourable Member for Westminster into the details which he has given to the financial side of the question. I believe it can be shown that ample provision will be made. When I put my name on the back of this Bill I made no inquiries about the financial conditions, because I supported it on the grounds that it was a great public improvement. As the financial question, however, has been raised, I have made inquiries, and am satisfied myself that, there are no sufficient grounds for that, allegation. Coming to the question of the London County Council, we have been told that the past and the present County Council are unanimously opposed to these buildings. That is not an accurate description of what actually took place. There was no division upon the Bill, and it is impossible to say whether the London County Council are prepared to carry out the improvement themselves. As far as the late County Council is concerned, the Improvement Committee proposed no plan. The Parliamentary Committee, however, issued a Report, a copy of which I hold in my hand. The Committee did not condemn the scheme on its merits at all. They did not say that it would not be an improvement. What they did say was— The essentially important question for the consideration of the Council is whether or not it is desirable that the large powers which are sought and the execution of such considerable works should be entrusted to a private Company. This Bill would, of course, only be promoted in the expectation of its proving remunerative to the promoters. We do not think that a scheme of this kind, involving large works of a public character, and large compulsory purchase of property, should be promoted as a private undertaking, and we are of opinion that steps should be taken to obtain the rejection of the Bill on Second Reading. That, Sir, was the ground upon which they thought the Bill should be passed, and it was most important that the London County Council should be heard before a Committee upstairs, and unless the Council petitioned against the Bill they would have no opportunity of doing so. What has happened in the present County Council? The Improvement Committee brought up a recommendation which said— That it is desirable that the Embankment, from the Victoria Tower Gardens to Lambeth Bridge, should be undertaken by the Council. That is the first expression of their opinion upon the subject, and I do not think that there can be any question about it; but that part of the recommendation was not adopted, and what the Council did adopt was simply a recommendation that the Improvement Committee should draw up a plan. The Council is in no way committed. I am correct in saying that although this improvement is admitted to be necessary, it is only now that either the Council or the Westminster Vestry have taken any steps in this direction. Private persons have come forward; they propose, at their own risk, to make this improvement, and then the Westminster Vestry and the London County Council, who have never done anything with regard to the matter before, intervene. Even, now the London County Council is not committed to take the matter up, and unless the House allows this Bill to go upstairs, as far as I can see, we may wait for years before anything is done, and when, it is done it will be done at a far larger expense than it will be now. I hope the House will not be induced to throw out this Bill on a mere ex parte statement. The House is justly proud of its Committees, which examine all questions submitted to them with the greatest possible care and judgment. The promoters are ready and willing, nay, they are anxious to meet with any suggestions which would make these suggested improvements worthy of the site with which it is proposed to deal. If the House accepts the Amendment of the honourable Member for Westminster, then nothing will be done for some time. For the present, at any rate, this district will be left in its miserable, wretched, and unhealthy condition. On the other hand, if the House sends the Bill before a Committee, that Committee will, doubtless, inquire into the whole of the circumstances, with every desire to make the improvement one which is really worthy of London; and if that course is adopted the House will have done something to improve this district and to render it more worthy of the magnificent site which it occupies. I began my speech by saying that I yield neither to the honourable Member for Westminster, nor to the honourable Member who seconded him, in my admiration of these Houses of Parliament and of the grand old Abbey opposite, and it is on that very account that I support this Bill, which I believe would tend in the direction of bringing the neighbourhood into greater harmony with the magnificent buildings of which at present it is so unworthy.

MR. JAMES STUART (Shoreditch, Hoxton)

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of London has not said very much in favour of the Bill which is brought forward. His plea is that it ought to be sent for the consideration of a Committee upstairs. Well, I think that is a really sound plea for an improvement scheme brought forward by a representative authority which is entrusted generally with the improvements of a town; but I must say that I do not think that that plea can be brought forward equally in favour of a Bill promoted by a private company for private profit. The House, as a general rule, gives the benefit of the doubt, but to assume that benefit of the doubt the House must know that the Bill is promoted on behalf of the benefit of the inhabitants who have to pay for it, and it is right that this House should endeavour very jealously to inquire into the circumstances of a Bill of this character before it is allowed to go upstairs. There are two points of view in which to regard this matter, and on which I shall speak very briefly. The first is from the point of view of one who has had considerable experience in Private Bill legislation in this House, and the second is from the point of view of representing in this House the London County Council in this matter, which, of course, is the authority which ought to undertake and might well undertake this business. Now, Sir, in the first place, I think that we ought to assume from the point of view of Private Bill legislation that it would be an unsound principle to contend or to admit that such a Bill as this ought to go upstairs without consider- able examination by this House, and the question that one naturally puts to the promoters is: What are you going to give to the public by your Bill—what do you propose to do? Now I have listened very carefully to what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of London had to say as to what were the improvements that this Bill effected, because the principal reason—the main reason—for which I opposed this Bill, as a Member of this House, is that it does not effect the improvement which ought to be effected. There are two great improvements required: the first is a broad, straight street from here and continuing to The Avenue, and the second is the opening up to the public generally of that bank of the river so that there might be an open space for the public. But these two great improvements are not effected by this Bill. On the contrary, both are indefinitely postponed if this Bill be passed into law, because you are going to make a broad street, or a fairly broad street, further away from the river than the present Millbank Street, and you are going to bring it up to the Horseferry Road, and there you have to turn a right angle to bring it to the present Embankment. That is to be a permanency, and if you are going to fill up by permanent buildings the space between that road and the river you will be unable ever to continue that road on. And the only way of continuing it on in a straight line would be to acquire two of the most expensive properties in London. In point of fact I do not see how this Bill carries out in any way a public improvement which we would desire to see carried out. That is the first matter. Then we come to a further question. This Bill asks power for recoupment and for the removal of a number of the population, requests which have, I will venture to say, never been granted to any local authority under similar circumstances before. I will show what I mean. The area which is proposed to be dealt with by this Bill, and which is to be compulsorily purchased by this syndicate, goes far beyond the area which is affected or touched by the improvement. It is no answer to say that it is an improvement, nor is it necessarily improved by the improvement, and I say, therefore, that you are being asked to give to this private body powers of a character which you would not give, and have not yet given, to any public body connected with London, nor, so far as I know, to any other public body anywhere else. Under these circumstances, with the experience that we have had in London—the unfortunate experience, the failure, the loss to the public, the loss to the roads, the loss to individuals concerned, in all cases where there have been public improvements undertaken by private individuals, is there anything—any advantage to the public—in this Bill, which would tempt us to have anything to do with it? I say none whatever. Now, as to the position of the London County Council, because the right honourable Gentleman has referred to that. The last London County Council most undoubtedly did declare their opposition to the principle of this Bill. Here are their words on the 17th of February last— We do not think that a scheme of this kind, involving large works of a public character, and large compulsory purchase of property, should be promoted as a private undertaking. That is quite true, as the right honourable Gentleman said. But it does not mean to say that we should pledge ourselves to carry out this undertaking. We refused to pledge ourselves to carry out this undertaking, and I think the right honourable Gentleman can very well approve of that position. We have in London a very large number of undertakings to consider. This one I think will have, and ought to have, its due consideration, but there are a great many things which might stand before it, and there are questions upon which we might differ as to any particular scheme. For instance, let me put this to the House. If you were to carry out the widening of Millbank Street by a street put along there just now, and if that is too large an undertaking to carry out at present, then I say better that that be done as a step towards the end than carry out this scheme, and prevent anything else being done for many a long year. Now there is another point to which I wish to direct the attention of the House. It is said that this scheme will effect an improvement by clearing away an insanitary property. If this property is insanitary, it is the duty of the London County Council or of the vestry, or both together, to take action. If the local bodies are neglecting their duty let this House say so, and then that will be an argument for passing this Bill on its Second Reading, and sending it upstairs to a Committee. But there can be no such argument. There is no shadow of it, no such statement has been advanced, nor can be advanced, by which it can be said that the public bodies are neglecting their duties. We admit fully that the widening of Millbank Street is a necessity, that it is desirable that there should be this clearing away of the river bank, and that nothing should be done which would have the object of preventing that. I hope that before this Debate is concluded, we shall see the Government taking up some position as to dealing with this great improvement in conjunction with the London County Council. It has a national element in it. It is close to these Houses of Parliament. Without detaining the House another minute, I think I have said enough to ask the House to abstain from giving this Bill a Second Reading until it is shown that the public authorities are derelicting the duties which they ought to exercise. I ask the House to reject the Second Reading of this Bill, and not to be led away by the argument that in its nature it ought to go before one of our Committees.

MR. W. F. D. SMITH (Strand)

I was quite aware that there was a great deal of difference of opinion upon this question. One of the previous speakers has referred to the fact that a certain Member interested in this Bill had not signed the Whip which was sent out in support of this Bill. I suppose he referred to me. I may say that I did not do so because I thought it might be possible that some honourable Gentlemen might think that by so doing I was acting on behalf of the majority of my honourable Friends who generally act with me. I was most especially anxious that no mistake of that kind should exist. Those who have spoken in opposition to this Bill have divided their objections into those of principle and those of detail, and, although they have laid great weight upon the question of principle, they have, I think, devoted the largest part of their speeches to the objections in detail. I agree with my right honourable Friend the Member for the University of London that some schemes generally may be properly left to private enterprise, and I was rather surprised to hear from my honourable Friend, the Member for Westminster, that no scheme for the public improvement of London should be carried out by any other body than the London County Council.


I never gave utterance to any such sentiment; what I said was that a scheme which involved necessarily a conflict between the interests of the public and the private interest of shareholders ought to be carefully looked into by the House.


I thought the honourable Member said that any such scheme should be referred only to the London County Council. I recognise that the element of profit must enter into the consideration of a question of this kind. It would be absurd for any private body to attempt to promote a scheme of this sort and to get money from the public without holding out the inducement of the element of profit. But, at the same time, I do say, with some confidence, that, at any rate in this particular Bill, so many safeguards have been already introduced, and so many conditions have to be satisfied both for the Government, the London County Council, and the Vestry, that the danger of the work being badly done or scamped, or being done for profit and for profit alone, is reduced to a mimimum, in fact to a vanishing point; and I cannot myself see why, if such precautions effect what I am sure we all have in view, the great improvement in the vicinity of the Houses of Parliament, this question as to the element of profit should not be allowed to be brought into consideration. Honourable Members who are opposed to this Bill have mentioned other schemes which have been brought about in the Metropolis. The scheme which I am now about to mention is not such a large scheme as this present one, but, at any rate, it took place in my own constituency during the present Parliament, and is one which, although it is not exactly the same thing, involves the principle which is involved in this particular Measure. It was, I think, in the Session of 1896 that a Bill was introduced into this House called "The Strand Improvement Bill." That was nothing more or less than a Bill promoted by the Hotel Cecil for obtaining compulsory powers to purchase the houses running along the front of the Hotel Cecil in order that the Hotel might have a proper frontage to the Strand. That Bill was passed by this House, and was supported by the London County Council. I admit that in the case of a scheme of this magnitude, if there was any chance of its being carried out by a public body, then a public body on the whole is the best body for that purpose. And if any public body does carry out an improvement scheme for this portion of the Embankment, the Government of the country should be that body, and I say that for this particular reason. Great stress has been laid upon the fact that in the plans which have been submitted to honourable Members, the plot in front of the river between what is known as the Victoria Tower Gardens and the Lambeth Bridge is to be covered to a certain extent by a block of buildings. Of course, everybody in this House must admit, and fully realise, that it would be infinitely better if that space were to consist of gardens and gardens alone; but, on the other hand, we must remember what the cost of leaving that space vacant would be. We have consulted the best experts, and I may say that those experts are perfectly willing to back up the opinion that they have given before the Committee, if this Bill should go to a Committee. They say that, at the very least, the expense of leaving that space unoccupied would amount to £500,000, and in all probability to £750,000. I think that shows at once that if this work is to be undertaken by anybody it had far better be undertaken by the Government. So far as I am concerned, and I believe I am speaking for all interested in this Bill, we should be perfectly ready to retire at once from any advocacy of this Measure if the Government would come forward and say that there was the slightest chance of their carrying out that improvement. I may as well say that already arrangements have been made for buying one quarter of the land required, a quarter more is in negotiation, so that it is not at all unlikely that by the time the Bill reaches Committee more than half of the land required will have been acquired by private treaty and not by compulsion. I do not desire to occupy the time of the House by going through the Bill in detail, but there is one point to which I should like to refer which was mentioned by my right honourable Friend the Member for the University of London as to the housing of the poor. The provisions which the promoters of this Bill have made are infinitely wider than are demanded by law. Within a quarter of a mile from the centre of the district, five acres of land have already been obtained, and that is a great deal more than is required to house the whole of the working class population affected by the Bill, and I can say now that the promoters are perfectly ready to accept the Instruction which the honourable Member for Islington has down on the Paper, and are ready to house, not the number which they are bound to house by law, but the whole of the working classes disturbed by this Bill. One word as to the insanitary state of the district. I have no doubt that the eulogiums which the honourable Member for Westminster has passed upon the Westminster Vestry are very well deserved, and I have no doubt that the work of the district is carried out as well as if can be carried out; but there is no gainsaying the fact that, as my right honourable Friend has said, there are in this district over 100 houses which have neither light nor air at the back, but which have only access to light and air from the front; and there are several courts which are not only cul de sacs, but have only one convenience for all the houses in the court. That itself shows that if there has been no serious outbreak in this locality, it is not due to the sanitary state of the houses. It is perfectly obvious that when the district is cleared and built up the sanitary state must be better than it is now. After all, the majority of these details which have been mentioned are questions for Committee, and not questions for discussion in this House. The question of laying out the streets is a matter for expert evidence, which cannot be given here, but which can be given to a Committee upstairs. No doubt some alterations would be made in Committee, and previous speakers have said that we are ready to do the very best we can, and to accept any suggestions which may be made for the improvement of our scheme. We are ready to submit to the Government, and we have already promised to submit, plans of the elevations to a very considerable extent. We are ready to offer the very best expert evidence on all questions that can be raised upon this matter. I hope the House will agree to the Second Reading of this Bill. I have not heard anything since I came down here, nor have I seen anything in the considerable amount of literature which has been circulated among Members, to alter the opinion I formed when first I promised to support this Bill. It may be rejected. If it is rejected, I cannot help thinking that the matter may be postponed indefinitely. But, in any case, whether rejected or not, the promoters of this Bill will at least have the satisfaction of feeling that through all the discussion and all the agitation which has taken place, they have brought nearer to realisation a great metropolitan improvement which ought to have been carried out years ago.

MR. H. J. GLADSTONE (Leeds, W.)

I wish to say a few words in support of the Second Reading of this Bill. I listened with great attention to the speech of my honourable Friend the Member for Shoreditch. This Bill is promoted by a private syndicate. I, personally, have no interest whatever in the matter, and I am absolutely unprejudiced and impartial. There is no objection to giving powers to a private syndicate working, and professedly working, for profit, provided you are satisfied that the public gets some good out of their operations, and provided you are satisfied that there are no authorities ready, and more competent, to undertake the work. That is the principle on which Parliament has acted in the past. Parliament sanctioned the Second Reading of the Parliament Street Bill, promoted by a private syndicate, on, I think, three occasions, and the conditions under which these Bills were brought forward were not nearly so favourable nor satisfactory as the conditions under which the present Bill is brought forward. The financial condition of that Parliament Street Syndicate was less sound than, apparently, the position of this syndicate is, but, inasmuch as neither Government nor County Council would deal with that side, Parliament referred those Bills to Committee, and eventually they became law, the Committee being satisfied that some good for the public would be got out of them. My honourable Friend asks of the promoters of this Bill, "What are you going to do for the public?" and he then went on to criticise certain details as to plans, the laying out of streets, and so forth. For myself, I do not agree with everything that has been put in the plans by the promoters, and I think it is capable of a great deal of improvement. Probably a great number of honourable Members have not troubled themselves very much about the scheme at all; but does any one honourable Gentleman who has formed a clear idea of any one of the leading details of the scheme think that this Debate had advanced our knowledge of the details by one inch. Here is a great and involved scheme, full of technicalities and full of matters of opinion. The honourable Member says it is very simple; at any rate, it is not simple to me if it is to him, and such details as these cannot be settled in the course of discussion of two or three hours in this House; they can only be settled in the ordinary way by reference to a Committee upstairs. I say this, that if the House refers this Bill to a Committee, it will lose no power over this Bill. We do not say that if it goes to a Committee it necessarily will become law; we only send it there so that the expert evidence on these technical details may be given. I understand that the promoters of this Bill are perfectly willing to insert a clause giving power to the First Commissioner of Works or Her Majesty's Government to interfere with their plans, and, in fact, to get power to sanction both the elevation of the buildings and the general laying out of the plans over the whole area. If that is done. I do not see how we can suffer. Then the question arises, what is the position of the London County Council in the matter? I quite agree that if the County Council comes forward and says this is a duty belonging to us, we must undertake it at once; then, by all means, theirs is the first claim, and let them do it. But they have not done that. They have not come forward until the whole scheme has been formulated by private enterprise and placed before Parliament, and now they have given no distinct pledge on the subject. They have referred the matter to one of their Committees, and we do not know what they are going to do. If the House rejects the Bill on a Second Reading, and the London County Council declines to move, or only to a very small extent, it seems to me that the public may be deprived for a great number of years of a very considerable and useful public improvement. Undoubtedly, in a matter of this sort, reference to a Committee is the best method of action, even assuming that the London County Council means to take the matter up. If you refer it to a Committee, the Committee will be able to take the evidence of the London County Council, and to ascertain exactly what its opinions are, and what it wishes to do, and whether it can do this work better than this private syndicate. It seems to me that there is an alternative course, it may be that the London County Council may come to some arrangement with the syndicate to take advantage of the money which the syndicate is prepared to risk in the matter, and by so doing to give the public additional advantages. For these reasons I hope the House will pass the Second Reading, because, as I said before, if the Bill is rejected this greatly needed and important public improvement will be postponed indefinitely. I would point out that the House of Commons is primarily interested in the matter. The House of Commons and the Government are really responsible for Westminster and the Houses of Parliament. They are responsible for this part of London—you can, of course, use the argument either way, but that being so, if the House rejects this Bill now, a great hold will be lost over the question to a certain extent. If the Second Reading is passed, and is referred to a Committee, the House will retain full control over that Committee when it reports upon the Measure. If you put the Bill aside altogether, you will have to deal alone with the County Council, and you will have to take anything that the County Council may be pleased to give you. For these reasons, I say that it would be wise for the House of Commons to keep a firm hold over these questions, to strengthen its position, and do the best thing possible to safeguard the whole of this historic neighbourhood. I do not know whether the right honourable Gentleman the Chairman of Ways and Means is going to give up the benefit of his advice. We are rather in want of light and leading from the Front Bench opposite, and perhaps, the First Commissioner is going to intervene. If he does, I hope, at any rate, that it will be in the direction of supporting the Second Reading of this Bill, and send it, if not to a Committee in the ordinary way, at any rate to adopt the precedent set in 1887, and refer it to a hybrid committee.

MR. J. E. ELLIS (Nottinghamshire, Rushcliffe)

I think the House will see that the Bill which is now before us is no ordinary private Bill, but we are discussing a matter of the very greatest importance, both as regards ordinary Private Bill Procedure and the policy which we shall adopt respecting an area which has great national and historical associations. What is the question before us? It is briefly this: that a commercial company shall have power of a very wide character over 28 acres of land in immediate proximity to this building. Like every other Member of this House, I have received piles of literature on the subject, and I have been appealed to from all quarters. There has grown up in this House, as everybody knows, by precedent, by carefully-devised Standing Orders, and by various arrangements of machinery a state of things whereby this House of Commons and the public in general are safeguarded from being mulcted in any way by the private speculator. A private Bill cannot be introduced in the same way as a public Bill. It has to pass through various gates of a narrow character before it can get to a Second Reading here. The intention of that is that the request for power made under a Private Bill must be formed upon some distinct public advantage—that the public element and the public advantage shall be the paramount consideration, and that the private element must only be incidental. Take the case of our great railways, which have perhaps led to more changes and developments of Private Bill Procedure than any other. It has always been laid down that there must be a public advantage proved to be the paramount consideration. What is the case this afternoon? I have listened with great attention to what fell from the right honourable Gentleman the Member for the University of London, and particularly to the honourable Member for the Strand Division, who spoke with great frankness and candour. He admitted that it was much better that this scheme should be carried out by a public authority. I think it should be done by the London County Council. But nothing that fell from the right honourable Gentleman, or from others who have addressed the House, has proved to us that the public advantage to be derived was such as to lead us to give these great powers to a private company. I venture to say that now is not the time for the House of Commons, in this day of syndicates and private adventures, to relax that principle that public advantage must be proved to be predominant and paramount. We all feel that we are dealing with precincts of no ordinary character. I am one of those who have welcomed the Measures that have been passed successfully for the spending of the surplus of £2,500,000 on beautifying and adorning this part of the Metropolis for its great public buildings, and also making proper provision for the great public Departments. I was a warm supporter of that scheme. That is an indication of what will go on in the future, but I appeal to the House not to block the way by giving these powers over a very large area of land to this private company, and thus stopping future improvement of that kind. The right honourable Gentleman and the honourable Member passed very lightly over the question of the great pile of buildings, which is the essence and vital feature of this scheme. With reference to that, I may say that we cannot regard statements as to what may take place before the Committee upstairs. Our duty is to look at the thing as it comes before us. Having approached this matter without the slightest prejudice, and having gone through these slums more than once, I have no hesitation as to what I feel it my duty to do this afternoon, and I shall give my vote against the Second Reading of this Bill.

SIR W. HART DYKE (Kent, Dartford)

I think that this question has been pretty well discussed as regards detail, and I think that all Members are pretty well acquainted with the details of the scheme. I am a strong advocate for sending a scheme of this nature upstairs, and I think it is only on very rare occasions that the House should depart from a time-honoured practice. But now and again there are occasions when we ought to take into consideration, not only the essence of a scheme such as this, but the surrounding circumstances under which it is brought forward. I must give my vote against the Second Reading of this Bill, not for the reason that it is brought forward by a private syndicate or a public company and not by public enterprise, and I will not waste time by speaking about any body of gentlemen of whom I know absolutely nothing, but who may be quite sincere in their efforts for metropolitan improvement. I take, for the moment, this scheme on its merits, as it comes before us to-day, and I should not attempt to say a word in this Debate were it not for the speech of my honourable Friend the Member for the Strand Division. We have just placed in the hands of the First Commissioner of Works a very large sum indeed for carrying out works, in order that we shall at length make the approaches and the precincts of our House of Commons and our old Abbey more worthy of the nation. That we have readily done, although many of us unfortunate landowners and others might have hoped for a reduction of the income tax, which would have been a luxury to us, if only to see what such a thing would be like, and yet we have willingly and cheerfully handed over a sum which would have amounted to a reduction of something like 1s. 3d. in the £ towards this great object. However excellent a body of gentlemen may be who are concerned in bringing forward this scheme, and however willing they may be to meet the views of a Committee upstairs, those of us who have made a sacrifice in this matter feel that that sacrifice would be thrown away if one side of these splendid national monuments is to be beautified and adorned by the Government and the other side left to the mercies of a private syndicate. There I give what is the kernel of the whole matter, and it is the one point alone on which I ask honourable Gentlemen to give their decision. I had an hour to spare this afternoon, and I went around this site, inspecting the streets, and also took the opportunity of standing in the very centre of Lambeth Bridge, and from that exalted position, with the plan in my hand, I had a very fair idea of what the result of passing this Bill would be. I say that no honourable Member who takes that plan in his hand, and looks at it from that point of view, not even if this particular scheme were brought forward by the Government of the day through the right honourable Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works, could honestly vote for the Second Reading of this Bill without feeling that he was destroying, once and for all, the possibility of the improvement of the Thames Embankment. I never heard a long Debate upon a private Bill but it was urged that criticism upon details was not for this House, but was a matter for Committee upstairs. The Papers which I have had from the advocates of this Bill, show, however, that the clauses of the Bill are exceptional in their character. The matter is now in our hands, and it is for us, by our votes, to say whether we will allow this Measure to pass into a Second Reading. The promoters of the Measure could not give way about this great block of buildings, which would overshadow the Thames and destroy the whole outlook from Lambeth Bridge. The honourable Member for the Strand Division said that that must be done, otherwise the capital subscribed would prove a disastrous failure. This House has voted two and a half millions of money for public improvements. We have heard the whole story; it has all been unfolded before us. Let us give a vote, at all events, which will protect these splendid monuments and the Thames Embankment, and secure a proper continuity of plan. I will not detain the House any longer, but I could not give a silent vote upon such a question as this. There is only one possible vote that I can give, and that is a vote against sending this Bill upstairs.

SIR H. H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)

I have waited to see whether the House is to have any guidance from the two responsible Ministers who are primarily interested in this question—the First Commissioner of Works and the President of the Local Government Board. The First Commissioner of Works has proved himself to be a very careful guardian, not only of the interests of this House and of its approaches, but also a very careful guardian of the beauty of London—and I think he is emphatically the ædile of London. The Government of this country has always had a peculiar power over any improvements in London, and I think we are entitled to have a statement this afternoon as to his views upon what my honourable Friend behind me described as one of the most important Measures ever submitted to this House. Then, Sir, I see seated upon the Treasury Bench the President of the Local Government Board. He is the official organ and representative of the local government of this country, and I think we are entitled to hear from him what view he takes in his capacity as the defender and representative of local government of the scheme which is now before the House. If either of these two right honourable Gentlemen intend to favour the House with their view, I venture to put before them one consideration, and it shall be only one. I am not going to follow my right honourable Friend with reference to the details of this scheme. My own uninformed opinion inclines to coincide with his view as to the nature and extent of this so-called improvement, but what I want to put to the House is this: Is this House prepared to surrender not only the power of local government, but to invest private individuals, no matter what their respectability, no matter what their responsibility may be, with compulsory powers over other people's property, to take that property for the benefit of a private speculation? That, in my opinion, is the whole crux of the situation. I appreciate to the full the argument of the honourable Member for the Strand Division, although I thought he surrendered his case in admitting that if the County Council was ready to take up the scheme they were the body who ought to do it, although the honourable Member for the Strand suggested as an alternative that it might be done by the Government of the day. With respect to that suggestion I agree with my honourable Friend the Member for Nottinghamshire that this is not so much a question for the Government as the county council. There is no attempt to disguise that whatever other merits the county council may have possessed—and I am not going to belittle their very many desirable enterprises and achievements—they have not done what I venture to think they ought to have done for the improvement of London. During the last few years metropolitan improvement has been entirely in abeyance. There was an exceedingly unwise attempt on the part of the county council to endeavour to compel the Legislature to adopt a certain course of legislation, and to do that under a threat of not proceeding with metropolitan improvements. I hope that that era has passed away. But the mere neglect on the part of the London County Council to deal with some crying scandals in regard to the present condition of metropolitan street improvements will not, I think, justify us in stamping with the sanction of the House the introduction of a most dangerous principle with reference to the local administration of this country. Where are you going to draw the line? If the local authority is to abnegate its power, and Parliament is to delegate the extraordinary power of compulsion to private individuals, where are you going to stop? My honourable Friend mentioned the case of railways, but there was no body in existence who had the power to make a railway, no local authority. It was necessary that railways should be made in the public convenience, and Parliament empowered companies to perform that necessary work. Parliament, by its own legislation, has not only given the power to, but has imposed the duty on all local authorities of remedying all insanitary areas and of dealing with necessary improvements, because those local authorities represented the community by whose taxation those improvements are defrayed. The honourable Member for the Strand said, with perfect candour, that, of course, the element of profit must be introduced into these undertakings, or else nobody would embark upon them. That is quite true, and that is an admission that there is a profit upon them. There is a profit in every well-devised and well-designed improvement, but that profit, in my opinion, ought to go into the public pocket, and not into the hands of the private individual. The proposal and carrying out of great municipal improvements deserve the best consideration of the most capable men, and it is to be regretted, in the interests of the Metropolis, that the County Council of London does not possess a leader possessing the municipal patriotism, the statesmanship, and the capacity of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, who by his great powers made Birmingham what it is, and also made it an example which has been followed to a great extent by many of the municipalities of this country. You cannot have public improvements without putting your hands into somebody's pocket, and if the public are to pay for these improvements the public should reap the benefit of them. These are the grounds on which I intend to vote against this Bill. I will not go into the details of the Bill. The scheme may be as objectionable as my honourable Friend has pointed out, and that it may be safeguarded by the First Commissioner of Works and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners; but however much you may approve this scheme, you do not get rid of the elementary unanswerable objection that you are delegating public powers to private people, the profit of which is to go into private pockets, and not into the public pocket. Upon these grounds, and upon the ground of defending the integrity and the power of the local authority, I shall cast my vote against this Bill.

MR. LEES KNOWLES (Salford, W.)

It has been pointed out that the whole of this property will not necessarily be taken compulsorily, and that part of it is being taken voluntarily. I may state that the portion of the area which belongs to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners is to be acquired voluntarily, the terms having been practically arranged. There is another small matter to which I should like to refer. A printed memorial has been circulated, the original of which has not reached the Commissioners, containing a request from tenants and occupants for protection as regards some supposed injury to the Abbey. I may say that the Commissioners have had the protection of the architectural and archæological features of the Abbey and its surroundings in their minds, and several amendments to the scheme have been made in consequence of their suggestions. At the same time I wish to state to the House that the position of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners is one of neutrality: their wish is that the House should give a Second Reading to the Bill, and then let it be referred with regard to details to a Committee.

MR. JOHN BURNS (Battersea)

A number of Members, with great ability, and with much experience and authority in this House, have asked for the rejection of this Bill. I venture to say something with regard to it from the point of view of the local authority that, properly speaking, should be looked to to carry out the improvement which this Bill seeks to effect, and before I do so I must express my sincere regret that the late First Commissioner of Works should have blessed this Bill in the way he did. But I have one consolation, and that is that the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton most effectually undid that blessing and counteracted all that the Member for Leeds said. But I do ask the late First Commissioner of Works to call his mind back to this fact—that he and myself and the present Chief Commissioner, with a number of other Members of this House, have been on two Site Committees for the last two years to provide new sites for Government buildings, and by virtue of the report of our proceedings the House of Commons has practically voted two and a half millions of money for improving the approaches to this House. The late Chief Commissioner of Works subscribed to that report. But that two and a half millions is to be spent for improving the east side of the Houses of Parliament, and here we are asked practically to give for next to nothing on the west side of the Houses of Parliament what I venture to say is the finest site in the whole Metropolis. My opinion is that if it is to be occupied by any building at all, then let it be occupied by the new War Office, the new Education Department, or some other Government building that has a right to be in close proximity to the Parliament buildings. We are told by the late Chief Commissioner of Works that the plans proposed by this Bill are to be safeguarded by the present Chief Commissioner of Works as to elevation and so on. Does the late Chief Commissioner of Works know what he is really talking about? He ought really to know this: that it is impossible for this syndicate to make a profit out of the block of buildings that they purpose erecting parallel with the House of Commons at an elevation of less than 82 feet, or 35 feet, on an average, higher than the general elevation of this House itself. Consequently, if the present Chief Commissioner lays down 45 or 50 feet as the height of the elevation the scheme must be unprofitable, and will have to be abandoned. Then the late Commissioner of Works asked, Is the London County Council genuine in its desire to make this Embankment worthy of the precincts of Parliament, and to continue the Embankment from Blackfriars up to Chelsea Bridge? I can throw a little light upon that, and it is for that purpose that I have risen. Is the Council genuine in its desire to improve the Embankment of the River Thames? Well, we must ask the House to judge by what has been done. Poplar Gardens is an Embankment space that the Council has secured for ever. Wandsworth Embankment on the south side is an instance of our desire in another direction. The Council assisted in the acquisition of Fulham Palace Grounds, and helped the Local Authority to secure an Embankment space there, and the only occasion on which the County Council has come to the House of Commons for continuing the Thames Embankment was when they proposed to do so from Battersea. Bridge in the direction of Wandsworth Bridge, with the final idea of carrying it right up to Hammersmith. That proposition was thrown out by the House of Commons, and against the Council's own wish. If this Bill is rejected, as I believe it will be rejected, after the weighty speeches which have been directed against it, the Council is pledged to go on with an Embankment scheme in this immediate neighbourhood; but we object, and rightly object, to be dictated to as to what form this scheme should take, and for this very practical reason: the Council has spent half a million of money on a new bridge for Vauxhall and the approaches on the north and south sides. Immediately that bridge is completed the old one is to be demolished. The Council has decided that that shall be followed by a new bridge to take the place of the unsightly one at Lambeth, and our view, or at any rate our officers' view, as to the sequence in which the work should be done is to complete Vauxhall, then to do the Lambeth Improvement, and so on, till we get down to this site now under discussion. The fact that we have done what we have done—the fact that we have carried out Vauxhall and intend and are pledged to carry out Lambeth—necessarily, in my opinion, commits us to carry the Embankment from Lambeth up to Vauxhall and up to Westminster—not at the expense suggested by the hon. Member for the Strand Division, but at an expense for the vacant piece of land necessary to make a garden of no more than £200,000. The late Chief Commissioner of Works said that if any public body is to carry out this important improvement Parliament ought to be that body; but when doctors differ, who is to decide? But I see no reason why, considering the peculiar relationship of this House to any Embankment scheme practically within the precincts of the House and the Abbey, Parliament, together with the London County Council and the Local Authorities, should not agree as to plans and designs, and the extent to which all three of them should contribute towards the expense. But even supposing that Parliament were indisposed to contribute a penny towards the expense, I pledge my word to this House that when Vauxhall and Lambeth are completed, then, as a necessary and consequential improvement, the London County Council must carry the Embankment right up to Westminster Bridge. Now the late First Commissioner of Works said it sometimes happens that private enterprise can be advanced and public interests also served. I want to put this point to the House of Commons: can he put into money value the case from every point of view of having a block of buildings on the suggested site next to the House of Commons? The right hon. baronet the Member for the University of London mentioned that he had stood on Lambeth Bridge—at daytime, I suppose, not at midnight—but I would ask any member of this House to come to Vauxhall Bridge now. From Vauxhall Bridge you can see Westminster Abbey—two-thirds of it is exposed. You can see the Chapter House that has recently been revealed, and you will be able to see two-thirds of the river frontage of the Parliament buildings. Come to Lambeth, and, as the right honourable Baronet says, you can see one of the finest views of one of the finest blocks of buildings in Europe, and certainly at one end of it the finest tower that exists in any country in the world—the Victoria Tower. What does this Bill propose? Look at the plan, and you will find that a block of buildings longer than the frontage of the Parliament buildings will be put up at the end of these Parliamentary buildings—at the end of the garden—equal in width to the Parliamentary buildings themselves, minus the terrace. Now, we will take the height of the buildings. As I said, to be profitable they must be 82 feet—the highest height, that is, that the London Buildings Act allows. That is the height at which these buildings positively must be put if this site is to pay, and the result will be that you will have a red brick building; a cheap and nasty blocks of flats, or, worse still, an Hotel Continental, full of derelict millionaires from South Africa and America. You will provide accommodation for these people, at what cost? At the cost of vandalising the approaches to Parliament, turning out merchants, traders, and wharfingers, for the benefit of gentlemen who have made their fortunes in other countries, and left their country for their country's good. Six thousand people to be turned out of their homes in order to accommodate Barney Barnatos, whom we do not certainly want in such close proximity to us as would be the case if this plan were carried into effect; or, worse still, we should get a number of American statesmen, who have given up log-rolling in their own country and come over here to instruct us how to push private enterprise schemes through the British House of Commons. I trust that from the architectural and archæological points of view, and also from the point of view of the relationship of the Council to this scheme, pledged, as I think it must be, to carry the Embankment up to Westminster, this Bill will be rejected. Then there is the very serious question as to the dishousing of 6,000 people. We are told that it is a very slummy district. I want to point out that the worst slums in Westminster are untouched by this Bill, and I am glad to see present to-day the honourable Member for Islington, who knows this district very well. I served my apprenticeship at Millbank, outside, not inside, the prison, and I say that the worst slums of Westminster are untouched by this Bill. Blue Anchor Lane is a slum that ought to be pulled down. Take Chadwick Street, Peter Street, Pye Street; all of these are unpleasant areas which ought to come down, and which are untouched by this Bill. Then we are told that this district is insanitary, but it must be remembered that these poor people are driven to greater overcrowding in this district than they ought to be, but by adopting this scheme you are not going to improve their condition, because you will be turning 6,000 people out, and you will be increasing the rack rent prices for competitive accommodation in close proximity to the dishoused area. If these places are insanitary, if the people suffer from diseases, then it is for the vestry and the council to be indicted by the President of the Local Government Board for neglecting their duties. What are the positions of the men that will occupy the houses that we are told will be built? Look at the conditions of the clauses in this Bill. Parliament does not allow a railway company to put in restrictions with regard to an improvement if it is to turn out people for a railway station, and why should a private syndicate impose such terms? One of the restrictions is that no man earning over 30s. a week shall come within the scope of this Bill as to rehousing. That will mean that every postman, every policeman, waiter, cabdriver, and busman, whose work necessarily loads hem to wish to live as close to the House of Commons as possible, will be exempted from the provisions of this Bill with regard to rehousing. Then I want, if I may be allowed, to give one or two instances in which the House of Commons has neglected its public buildings in the past, to the detriment of buildings that have remained. For instance, lock at Somerset House, one of the finest buildings we have in England. Yet some one has allowed an enterprising builder to erect a yellow terra-cotta building jammed up to the side of Somerset House, and which is many feet in front of the building line. I am not disposed to take the opinion of a First Commissioner of Works upon this subject who allows that sort of thing to be done. St. Paul's Cathedral cannot be seen, simply because Sir Christopher Wren's view has not been adopted as to keeping a space clear around it. Some one has allowed buildings to come too close. The best example I can give is that of Greenwich Hospital. Sir Christopher Wren said with regard to that, and it has been adhered to by the Admiralty, that no building should approach within a given number of yards of that hospital. He went further. On the north side of the river, opposite to the frontage of Greenwich Hospital, he said there should be a narrow strip of land equal in length to the front of Greenwich Hospital from which it can be for ever seen. I am glad to say that the Council has got hold of that piece of land which Sir Christopher Wren earmarked, and it is now a splendid open space from which Greenwich Hospital can be seen. Architects in those days were able to do these things because the "syndicate" was unknown. Log-rolling was not in existence, and the stomach had not been taken out of Members of Parliament by the system of worrying and wearying them in the Lobby by persons interested in the carrying out of certain proposals, which has characterised some of our modern experiences. I venture to say that this Embankment Bill is not an Embankment Bill at all. It diverts Abingdon Street to the north from following the natural line of the river right into the centre of Horseferry Road, and if a Member of Parliament wants to go to Vauxhall Bridge he has either to bend to the north and then go to the south and then go to the west, or else go to the south, go straight along raid bend to the north and get into the Grosvenor Road. It is a scheme for avoiding an embankment altogether. The Vestry does not want it, the London County Council is opposed to it, the Dean and Chapter of Westminster are strongly against it, and I have not yet received from any of the men who live and who work in the neighbourhood of this House a single request that this Bill should be supported. The honourable Member for the Strand Division did more to damage this Bill than anyone who has spoken against it. What did he say was the reason that the House should pass it? That the House of Commons some time ago passed the Hotel Cecil Bill. That is true, but that was a case in which private enterprise did not conflict with public profit and advantage. The Hotel Cecil Bill added to the space in the neighbourhood in which the building was erected, it did not turn any artisans out, and it certainly did not go beyond the frontage line; so that the very case which the honourable Member quoted was more against his Bill than in support of it. Now we have heard to-day a mention of Jabez Balfour. But let us admit the fact, which is undoubted, that, artistically and architecturally, Jabez Balfour was infinitely better than the promoters of this Bill. Go to Whitehall Court, and there, with all its financial disgrace and with all its criminal associations, you will say that it is probably one of the finest blocks of buildings we have on the north side of the river. But Jabez Balfour had got a good architect, and he was kept in check by the building line in the rear of Montague House, by the National Liberal Club, and the local authorities would not allow him to obtrude himself on his buildings beyond the natural and well-established building line. But in the case of the Westminster Improvement Bill, so called, you will allow this block of red buildings, full of derelict millionaires, to obtrude right in front of the north side of Abingdon Street, diverting the traffic to the north, and inconveniencing Members of Parliament and all who have business in this particular locality. I trust that as a protest against the way in which this Bill has been log-rolled and lobbied, and in view of the artistic abominations and architectural defects that it contains, it will be rejected by a large majority; and then I trust that the House of Commons will co-operate with the County Council and the Vestry for taking over the precincts of this House and bringing to an issue as speedily as possible a really good and sound Embankment scheme worthy of the dignity of the Abbey and of this great House of which we have the honour to be Members.

MR. R. J. PRICE (Norfolk, E.)

My honourable Friend the Member for Battersea has arrogated to himself a certain amount of knowledge. He assumed to know what the promoters of this Bill were going to do with a piece of land which I may say he does not know in the least, and he also assumed to know precisely what the County Council was going to do. As a matter of fact, he is not in a position to pledge the County Council to any method of procedure. The County Council are undoubtedly going to make a bridge at Lambeth, and when they do so they will have to make proper approaches to it, and it is owing to that fact that the County Council are bound to make the Lambeth Bridge that some of the plans of the promoters have been objected to. The reason why the avenue does not follow the line of Millbank Street to the corner of the bridge is precisely because the syndicate have looked a little further ahead, and have realised that when this new approach is built, and the bridge is built and complete, there will be a necessity for a gradual and easy gradient over the bridge, and it will be absolutely necessay for this avenue not to hit this road several feet below the surface, but to come across the road at a proper level. So much for the detail. Now let me say a word or two about the housing that has been referred to. I am sorry that there should be any question of dishousing, but whether this Bill is carried or not, whether this scheme is carried or abandoned, there is no question whatever that the owners of the property in which these poor people are now housed must begin to take some action. They have allowed a very valuable property to remain non-rent paying, or nearly so, and this Bill would undoubtedly have the effect of making these landowners look to themselves and begin to improve their property, and when they do so the poor people will be dishoused, whether it is done by this Bill or whether it is done, in the way I have mentioned, but it will not be as well done as would be the case if it were done under this Bill. Every precaution and every protection that could be given we have given under this Bill, and if my honourable Friend has an opportunity of moving his instruction that we shall provide for the rehousing of the working classes—and his instruction places us under no restriction whatever—we shall be ready to accept it. But if this work is undertaken by the landowners themselves, the poor will have no provision whatever made for them, and they will be driven entirely out of the neighbourhood. As a matter of fact, there are several charities connected with this parish, the benefits of which are not receivable by people who are not living in the parish, and that fact this syndicate has perfectly well known and has provided for, and arrangements have been made by which the people who have been dishoused will be rehoused and so not deprived of the benefits of those charities. And now let me deal very shortly indeed with the general question. The ground taken by my honourable Friend the Member for Shoreditch was practically this: that he did not deny that private individuals or private companies might very legitimately undertake large public improvements and ask Parliament for compulsory powers, but he denied that in the present instance the consideration was sufficient to allow the Bill to go to a Committee. Now I cannot help thinking that he has come to this conclusion without full knowledge of the facts. The roadway will be magnificent; the Embankment which has been sneered at will not be such a paltry thing as people have endeavoured to make it out; it will be 70 feet wide, and would connect with the Grosvenor Road. This is the only logical Embankment, and the Embankment will be of precisely the same width as Grosvenor Road itself, and, therefore, I think that my Friend has not really been fair to this scheme when he said that no consideration had been given. If he works it out in £ s. d. he will find that we have given it very great consideration indeed. As to the avenue, honourable Members are entirely mistaken in thinking that the way for the avenue to go is along the Embankment. The true line is from the Houses of Parliament, and if this is done you come right upon the Tate Gallery, and then you have an avenue second to none in Europe. I know that it is the duty of the Committee upstairs to take the greatest care that not only should a proper consideration be given for the powers asked for, but that the public interests Should be safeguarded in every way. My honourable Friend seemed to think that no private body ought to undertake any such scheme. He seemed to think that municipal bodies should undertake work of this kind. All I have to say is that we have no evidence whatsoever that the County Council of London or any other public body could undertake this scheme in anything like its

present condition. It is possible, no doubt, that sooner or later the Embankment will be made to the river, but the delay before it is made will be very considerable indeed. In the meantime you throw out this Bill, and what will be the result? The area will be dealt with piecemeal by the different private occupiers, who will build each of them according to his own private and personal fancy. The poor will be dishoused, and they will not be exceedingly thankful to the working men's Member who has raised his voice against this Bill. I do hope that before this Debate closes we shall hear from the Government, or from the Chairman of Committees, the views that they take. My own view is strongly—and, of course, I speak as an interested party—that this is a Bill in which a primâ facie public advantage is shown, and that it should go upstairs and be threshed out by one of our Committees.

House divided:—Ayes 84; Noes 336.

Allhusen, Augustus Henry E. Foster, Sir W. (Derby Co.) Monk, Charles James
Allsopp, Hon. George Gibbs, Hn. A. G. H. (C. of Lond.) More, Robert Jasper
Anstruther, H. T. Gladstone, Rt. Hon. H. John Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)
Arnold-Forster, Hugh O. Gordon, Hon. John Edward Murray, Chas. J. (Coventry)
Arrol, Sir William Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Eldon Northcote, Hon. Sir H. S.
Atherley-Jones, L. Gourley, Sir Edw. Temperley O'Malley, William
Baden-Powell, Sir G. Smyth Green, W. D. (Wednesbury) O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens
Bailey, James (Walworth) Griffith, Ellis J. Parkes, Ebenezer
Baird, Jno. Geo. Alexander Hatch, Ernest Frederick Geo Pollock, Harry Frederick
Balfour, Rt. Hn. J. B. (Clackm.) Heath, James Pryce-Jones, Edward
Barry, Rt. HnAHSmith- (Hunts) Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C. Rentoul, James Alexander
Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Brist'l) Jenkins, Sir John Jones Ritchie, Rt. Hon. C. T.
Billson, Alfred Johnstone, J. H. (Sussex) Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)
Boscawen, Arthur Griffith- Jones, David B. (Swansea) Samuel, H. S. (Limehouse)
Bowles, Capt. H. F. (Mdsx) Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William Spencer, Sir Ernest
Cameron, Sir C. (Glasgow) Knowles, Lees Stone, Sir Benjamin
Campbell, J. H. M. (Dublin) Lawrence, Sir Ed. (Cornwall) Thorburn, Walter
Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh) Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.) Whiteley, George (Stockport)
Clare, Octavius Leigh Llewellyn, E. H. (Smerset) Willox, Sir John Archibald
Corbett, A. C. (Glasgow) Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R. Wilson, John (Falkirk)
Cornwallis, Fiennes S. W. Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine Wilson-Todd, W. H. (Yorks.)
Cox, Robert Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller Wodehouse, Edm. R. (Bath)
Denny, Colonel Lowe, Francis William Wylie, Alexander
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Lowles, John Young, Comm. (Berks, E.)
Drucker, A. Maclean, James Mackenzie
Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V. M'Killop, James TELLERS FOR THE AYES—
Edwards, Gen. Sir J. Bevan Marks, Henry Hananel Sir Barrington Simeon and
Farquharson, Dr. Robert Martin, Richard Bidduloh Sir Robert Penrose-Fitz-
Forster, Henry William Milner, Sir Fredk. George gerald.
Forwood, Rt. Hon. Sir A. B. Molloy, Bernard Charles
Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir A. F. Ascroft, Robert Banbury, Frederick George
Aird, John Ashton, Thomas Gair Barlow, John Emmott
Allan, Wm. (Gateshead) Austin, Sir John (Yorkshire) Barnes, Frederic Gorell
Allen, Wm. (Newc.-under-L.) Austin, M. (Limerick, W.) Barry, E. (Cork, S.)
Ambrose, Robert (Mayo, W.) Balcarres, Lord Barry, F. T. (Windsor)
Arnold, Alfred Baldwin, Alfred Bartley, George C. T.
Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire) Engledew, Charles John Jebb, Richard Claverhouse
Beach, W. W. B. (Hants.) Esmonde, Sir Thomas Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick
Bemrose, Sir Henry Howe Evans, S. T. (Glamorgan) Jessel, Capt. Herbt. M.
Bethell, Commander Evans, Sir F. H. (S'th'mp'tn) Johnston, William (Belfast)
Biddulph, Michael Evershed, Sydney Joicey, Sir James
Bigwood, James Fardell, Sir T. George Jolliffe, Hon. H. George
Birrell, Augustine Farrell, J. P. (Cavan, W.) Jordan, Jeremiah
Blake, Edward Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw. Kay-Shuttleworth, Rt. Hn. Sir U.
Blundell, Colonel Henry Ferguson, R. C. M. (Leith) Kearley, Hudson E.
Boulnois, Edmund Ffrench, Peter Kemp, George
Bowles, Capt. H. F. (Mdsx.) Field, Admiral (Eastbourne) Kenrick, William
Broadhurst, Henry Field, William (Dublin) Kenyon, James
Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne Kilbride, Denis
Brookfield, A. Montagu Firbank, Joseph Thomas Kinloch, Sir J. G. Smyth
Brown, Alexander H. Fisher, William Hayes Kitson, Sir James
Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson Fison, Frederick William Knox, Edmund Francis Vesey
Bryce, Rt. Hon. James Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmund Lafone, Alfred
Brymer, William Ernest Flannery, Fortescue Lambert, George
Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn Flynn, James Christopher Laurie, Lieut.-General
Bucknill, Thomas Townsend Folkestone, Viscount Lawrence, W. F. (Liverp'l)
Bullard, Sir Harry Fowler, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (Wol'tn) Lecky, Rt. Hon. W. E. H.
Burns, John Fowler, Matthew (Durham) Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)
Butcher, John George Galloway, William Johnson Leng, Sir John
Caldwell, James Garfit, William Lewis, John Herbert
Carew, James Laurence Gibbons, J. Lloyd Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn (Sw'ns'a)
Carlile, William Walter Gibbs, Hon. V. (St. Albans) Lloyd-George, David
Carmichael, Sir T. D. Gibson- Giles, Charles Tyrrell Logan, John William
Carson, Rt. Hon. Edward Gilliat, John Saunders Lorg, Col. C. W. (Evesham)
Carvill, Patrick G. Hamilton Goddard, Daniel Ford Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Liverp'l)
Causton, Richard Knight Godson, Augustus Frederick Lorre, Marquess of
Cayzer, Sir Charles William Gold, Charles Lough, Thomas
Chaloner, Captain R. G. W. Goldsworthy, Major-General Loyd, Archie Kirkman
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.) Goschen, George J. (Sussex) Lucas-Shadwell, William
Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc.) Goulding, Edward Alfred Lyell, Sir Leonard
Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry Graham, Henry Robert Macaleese, Daniel
Charrington, Spencer Gray, Ernest (West Ham) Macdona, John Cumming
Clancy, John Joseph Gretton, John McDonnell, Dr. M. A.
Clough, Walter Owen Greville, Captain Maclure, Sir John William
Cochrane, Hon. T. H. A. E. Grey, Sir Edward (Berwick) MacNeill, John Gordon Swift
Coghill, Douglas Harry Hall, Sir Charles McArthur, Chas. (Liverpool)
Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Halsey, Thomas Frederick McCalmont, Col. J. (Ant'm, E.)
Colomb, Sir J. Chas. Ready Hammond, John (Carlow) McCartan, Michael
Colston, Chas. Edw. H. A. Hanson, Sir Reginald McDermott, Patrick
Colville, John Hardy, Laurence McEwan, William
Compton, Lord Alwyne Haslett, Sir James Horner M'Ghee, Richard
Cooke, C. W. R. (Hereford) Hayden, John Patrick M'Hugh, E. (Armagh, S.)
Cotton-Jodrell, Col. E. T. D. Hayne, Rt. Hon. Chas. Seale- McIver, Sir Lewis
Courtney, Rt. Hon. L. H. Hazell, Walter McKenna, Reginald
Crean, Eugene Healy, Maurice (Cork) McLeod, John
Cripps, Charles Alfred Healy, Thomas J. (Wexford) Malcolm, Ian
Cruddas, William Donaldson Healy, T. M. (N. Louth) Mandeville, J. Francis
Curran, Thos. (Sligo, S.) Heaton, John Henniker Messey-Mainwaring, Hn. W. F.
Curzon, Viscount (Bucks.) Hedderwick, T. C. H. Mellor, Rt. Hn. J. W. (Yorks.)
Dalbiac, Colonel Philip Hugh Hemphill, Rt. Hon. C. H. Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand
Dalkeith, Earl of Hermon-Hodge, R. Trotter Milward, Colonel Victor
Dalrymple, Sir Charles Hickman, Sir Alfred Minch, Matthew
Daly, James Hill, Rt. Hn. Lord A. (Down) Moon, Edward Robert Pacy
Davenport, W. Bromley- Hill, Sir Edw. Stock (Brist'l) Morley, Rt. Hn. J. (Montr'se)
Davitt, Michael Hoare, E. B. (Hampstead) Morris, Samuel
Dickson-Poynder, Sir J. P. Hobhouse, Henry Morton, E. J. C. (Devenport)
Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Hogan, James Francis Moss, Samuel
Dillon, John Hornby, William Henry Mowbray, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry Muntz, Philip A.
Doogan, P. C. Howard, Joseph Murdoch, Charles Townshend
Dorington, Sir John Edward Howell, William Tudor Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)
Doughty, George Howorth, Sir Henry Hoyle Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)
Doxford, William Theodore Hubbard, Hon. Evelyn Myers, William Henry
Drage, Geoffrey Hudson, George Bickersteth Newdigate, Francis Alex.
Duckworth, James Hughes, Colonel Edwin Nicholson, Wm. Graham
Dunn, Sir William Hutchinson, Capt. G. W. Grice- Nicol, Donald Ninian
Ellis, John Edw. (Notts.) Jackson, Rt. Hon. Wm. L. Norton, Capt. Cecil William
Eills, T. E. (Merionethshire) Jacoby, James Alfred Nussey, Thomas Willans
O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Rothschild, Baren F. J. de Tomlinson, Wm. E. Murray
O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary) Round, James Tritton, Charles Ernest
O'Connor, James (Wicklow) Royds, Clement Molyneux Tully, Jasper
O'Kelly, James Russell, Gen. F. S. (Chelt.) Valentia, Viscount
Paulton, James Mellor Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees) Wallace, Robt. (Edinburgh)
Pease, Alf. E. (Cleveland) Sandys, Lieut.-Col. T. Myles Wallace, Robert (Perth)
Pease, Arthur (Darlington) Saunderson, Col. E. James Walrond, Sir William Hood
Pease, J. A. (Northumb.) Savory, Sir Joseph Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)
Pease, Sir J. W. (Durham) Scoble, Sir Andrew Richard Warde, Lt.-Col. C. E. (Kent)
Pender, James Seely, Charles Hilton Waring, Col. Thomas
Penn, John Sharpe, William Edward T. Warkworth, Lord
Philipps, John Wynford Shee, James John Warr, Augustus Frederick
Phillpotts, Captain Arthur Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire) Webster, R. G. (St. Pancras)
Pickersgill, Edward Hare Smith, A. H. (Christchurch) Webster, Sir R. E. (I. of Wight)
Pierpoint, Robert Souttar, Robinson Weir, James Galloway
Pirie, Duncan V. Spicer, Albert Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E.
Platt-Higgins, Frederick Stanhope, Hon. Philip J. Wharton, Rt. Hon. John L.
Powell, Sir Francis Sharp Stanley, Lord (Lancs.) Whittaker, Thomas Palmer
Purvis, Robert Stanley, E. J. (Somerset)
Pym, C. Guy Stanley, H. M. (Lambeth) Williams, J. Carvell (Notts).
Randell, David Steadman, William Charles Williams, J. Powell- (Birm.)
Rasch, Major Frederic Carne Stevenson, Francis S. Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Redmond, William (Clare) Stewart, Sir Mark J. M. T. Wills, Sir William Henry
Reid, Sir Robert T. Stirling-Maxwell, Sir J. M. Wilson, F. W. (Norfolk)
Renshaw, Charles Bine Strachey, Edward Wilson, H. J. (York, W. R.)
Richardson, J. (Durham) Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley Wilson, John (Govan)
Rickett, J. Compton Stuart, Jas. (Shoreditch) Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbro')
Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir M. W. Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath) Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm
Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion) Sullivan, T. D. (Donegal, W.) Woods, Samuel
Roberts, J. H. (Denbighshire) Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester) Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong
Robertson, E. (Dundee) Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf'd Univ.) Young, Samuel (Cavan, E.)
Robertson, H. (Hackney) Tennant, Harold John
Robinson, Brooke Thomas, A. (Carmarthen, E.) TELLERS FOR THE NOES—
Robson, Willam Snowdon Thomas, Alf. (Glamorgan, E.) Mr. Burdett-Coutts and Sir
Roche, Hon. J. (E. Kerry) Thornton, Percy M. William Hart Dyke.
Roche John (E. Galway) Tollemache, Henry James