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Tramways Bill

Volume 203: debated on Wednesday 3 August 1870

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Lords' Amendments

Lords' Amendments considered.

said, he rose to move an Amendment to the Lords' Amendment to the 5th clause. As the clause had been altered by the other House, it proposed that notice should be given to every occupier and owner of every house in any street of the intention to lay down a tramway; but he proposed that only the same notice should be given in the case of a Provisional Order as in the case of a Private Bill.

Page 3, line 30,

Leave out the words "according to the regulations contained in Part One of the Schedule B to this Act," and insert the words "and they shall, on or before the fifteenth day of the following month of December, serve a copy of such notice upon the owner and occupier of every house, shop, or warehouse abutting upon any road or upon the part of any road along which it is proposed to lay any tramway according to the regulations contained in Part One of the Schedule B to this Act annexed,"

the nest Amendment, read a second time.

Amendment proposed,

To leave out from the word "serve" to the end of the Amendment, in order to add the words "notice of such intention in accordance with the Standing Orders (if any), of both Houses of Parliament for the time being in force with respect to Bills for the construction, of Tramways,"—(Mr. Shaw Lefevre,)

—instead thereof.

said, he would support the Lords' Amendment. It was of great importance that the owners and occupiers of houses and shops in streets should have a voice in the matter, and have an opportunity of stating whether they desired to have tramways laid down before their houses or not.

said, he desired to support the Amendment of the Secretary to the Board of Trade (Mr. Shaw Lefevre). Under that Amendment every necessary protection would be given to owners and occupiers, and unless it were passed very great obstacles would be thrown in the way of the promoters of tramways.

said, that if the Lords' Amendment were maintained it would throw great expense upon the promoters of tramways, who would then proceed by Private Bills instead of by Provisional Orders. If it were found by experience that the notice to be given under his Amendment were insufficient it would be competent for the House to alter the Standing Order on the subject.

Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of The Lords' Amendment," put, and negatived.

Question put, "That the words

'Notice of such intention in accordance with the Standing Orders (if any), of both Houses of Parliament for the time being in force with respect to Bills for the construction of Tramways,'

be added, instead thereof."

The House divided:—Ayes 35; Noes 14: Majority 21.

Lords' Amendment, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 12 (Confirmation of Provisional Order by Act of Parliament).

said, he wished to call attention to an extraordinary provision introduced by the Lords, the effect of which would be that the Bill when passed into law would prescribe the time at which the House of Commons would allow Bills to be introduced. At present the Standing Orders as to the time when Private Bills should be introduced might be suspended, and he submitted that the same liberty of action should be reserved with regard to Provisional Orders. The effect of the Lords' Amendment would in a measure make the time for allowing a Bill to be introduced dependent on the consent of the other House. It appeared to him that was not a position in which the House of Commons should be placed. He would therefore ask the House to disagree to the Lords' Amendment, and he would undertake to move a Standing Order regulating the time when Bills for the confirmation of Provisional Orders should be introduced, and which would meet all the objects of the Upper House.

Amendment disagreed to.

said, he would beg to move the omission of words from Schedule A, Part III. which were inserted by the Lords, and which seemed to him to interfere with local government. If those words were allowed to remain a few persons in a place might contravene the action of the representative body of the whole constituency.

Amendment proposed,

"Schedule A, Part III., to disagree to the last nine paragraphs commencing with the words 'where any such resolution,' page 33."—(Mr. Cawley.)

said, he would support the Motion. The Amendment of the Lords would upset municipal government, and would at the same time prove quite impracticable. The Town Councils fairly represented the various places where they sat, and the matter might fairly rest in their hands whether a tramway should be laid down or not.

said, he concurred in the view which the hon. Gentleman had taken. The effect of the Lords' Amendment would be to deprive the Bill of much of its utility. The essence of the Bill was that the local authorities should, under certain conditions, have the power to agree to the construction of those rails.

said, the House of Lords attached great importance to this Amendment; but if the House was of opinion that it should not be adopted, he would not oppose the Motion.

Amendment disagreed to.

Subsequent Amendments road a second time; several agreed to; several amended, and agreed to; several disagreed to.

Committee appointed, "to draw up Reasons to be assigned to The Lords for disagreeing to the Amendments to which this House hath disagreed:"—Mr. SHAW LEFEVRE, Mr. Secretary BRUCE, Mr. DODSON, Mr. SOLICITOR GENERAL for IRELAND, Lord JOHN HAY, Mr. JAMES LOWTHER, Mr. GRAVES, Mr. GLYN, and Mr. CAWLBY:—To withdraw immediately; Three to be the quorum.

Reasons for disagreeing to Lords Amendments reported, and agreed to.

To be communicated to The Lords.

Sunday Trading Bill—Bill 68 (Lords) Committee

Order for Committee read.

, in moving the Order of the Day for going into Committee on this Bill, said, that it had come down from the other House, and was in charge of the hon. Member for Frome (Mr. Thomas Hughes), who having gone on a lengthened tour to the United States, had requested him to take charge of it. It was a very different Bill from that of the hon. Member for Warrington (Mr. Rylands); it had been read a second time by a large majority, had repeatedly received the sanction of the House, and had passed the other branch of the Legislature; and it was supported by the Members of the present and of the late Governments, and almost all the prominent Members of the House In order as far as possible to meet the views of some hon. Members who had hitherto opposed the measure, he was prepared to limit its application to the metropolis. If found to work well in London, it might afterwards be extended to other large towns.

said, it would be quite impossible for him to allow that stage to pass without entering another protest against this measure, which would do nothing but mischief. The Bill professed to be framed in the interests of the trading classes, but it would prove most injurious to the humbler portions of those classes. It was founded on no principle; unsettled everything and settled nothing. It had been gravely said that the present war upon the Continent was a judgment upon the nations engaged in it for their non-observance of the Sabbath, and that similar judgments might be expected to fall on this country in the event of its refusing to adopt the principle of this Bill—a little piece of blasphemy in which only the very religious would permit themselves to indulge The Hyde Park meeting on the subject had been sneered at, and the hon. Member for Frome (Mr. Thomas Hughes) said that the attendance consisted mainly of roughs, and that not thirty of those present had any idea of what was going on. But The Times, not usually very favourable to meetings in Hyde Park, had given a much more reliable account of the proceedings, and the chairman who presided at one of the many platforms on that occasion had written to him to say that all the speakers were representative men, and were attended by large personal followings. Since then, another large open-air meeting had been held in Whitechapel, which had also been described in The Times, with a suggestion that those who took part in promoting legislation of the character proposed would do well to make themselves acquainted with the sentiments of those whom such legislation would primarily affect. The magistrates of London, who knew far better the social requirements of the working classes than the hon. Member, were generally opposed to such measures. The Bill was essentially a class Bill, and a wanton attempt to oppress the poorer classes. It was said, indeed, that it would prevent the streets from being turned into menageries and flower gardens on Sundays; but let those who held such language go and look at the thousands of well-dressed persons in the Zoological Gardens. He held that it would be dangerous for the House of Commons to pass such a Bill; and that if they did pass it, they would soon afterwards have to repeal it. Were such a measure held to be necessary, it should be introduced by the Government, and not left to a private Member. He hoped the Government would interfere and stop the measure.

said, he hoped his hon. Friend (Mr. J. G. Talbot) would not press the Bill, which must give rise to lengthened discussion; and it was of great importance that the Foreign Enlistment Bill should be considered that day. He was very far from joining in the unmeasured denunciations heaped upon the Bill by the hon. Member who had just sat down. It was no objection to the Bill that it was not founded, upon a more clearly defined principle. There could be no principle except on the one hand that of absolute observance of the day—which would be opposed to the practice of the country, to the provisions of existing Acts of Parliament, by which trading, to a certain extent, was legalized—or, on the other hand, that of total non-observance; and he ventured to think that the identification of Sunday with every other day in the week would give a shock to the moral and religious sense of the country. The only possible legislation on the subject, therefore, was some Bill resembling that introduced by the hon. Member, and if the measure really excited that deep feeling of indignation described by the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. P. A. Taylor), was it not remarkable that no metropolitan Member had come forward to express it? The general feeling of the metropolis, judging from the numerous deputations he had received, was that reasonable facilities should be given for such traffic as was absolutely necessary for the accommodation of the poor, but that securities at the same time should exist for the decent observance of the Sabbath. With respect to the public meetings mentioned by the hon. Member, he thought the truth lay midway between the conflicting statements. An official Report, on which he could rely, informed him that in Hyde Park about 1,000 persons attended the meeting specially, and about 2,000 of the ordinary occupiers of the Park on Sunday afternoons stood by to listen from motives of curiosity. Such a meeting could not be said, in any sense, to represent the feelings of the working classes of the metropolis. At the same time, as a vote of the House at this period of the Session would hardly carry that weight which was desirable, it would be judicious, he thought, in his hon. Friend (Mr. J. G. Talbot) not to press the Motion.

said, he protested against the Bill, and would give the Bill his most strenuous opposition. In his opinion it was a class measure which would fall with unfair severity upon the poorer classes, and for that reason he would object to its passing.

said, he was surprised to hear from the Secretary of State for the Home Department that, in consequence of many Members being absent from the House, he would not regard a decision upon the Bill as registering the true opinion of the House of Commons. He would remind the right hon. Gentleman that the Government had, only on the previous night, pressed forward a measure which was objected to by a large number 6f Gentlemen on both sides. The Bill had been pressed through by the determination of the Government, and he (Mr. Candlish) might under the circumstances say with equal truth that, having been forced through in that way in a thin House, it did not record the proper opinion of the House of Commons. He hoped that if the Government did not undertake to bring in a Bill upon the subject of Sunday trading, the hon. Gentleman opposite would take the opinion of the House upon his measure.

Motion made, and Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and negatived.

Supply—Report

Resolutions [August 2] reported.

Navy Increase—Question

said, in the absence of his hon. Friend (Sir James Elphinstone) he wished to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty, seeing that the Secretary of State for War has defined the amount of force by which the Army is to be increased, to state what increase he intends to propose to the Naval armament of the Country?

said, there was no intention whatever of adding to the number of men in the Navy, as had been proposed in the case of the Army, as we already possessed an abundant supply of seamen and Marines. As to what increase it was intended to propose to the naval armament of the country, that was a question which, under present circumstances, he thought it would be prudent not to ask, but to place confidence in the Government. Certain changes would, no doubt, be made in the dockyards and elsewhere; but he was quite satisfied, from all that had transpired, that the House felt full confidence in the naval administration of the country; and, indeed, this confidence had been expressed on more than one occasion. He wished to take that opportunity of correcting a statement which had been made by the hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for Stamford (Sir John Hay), which had given rise to some misapprehension, and there was reason to believe, had also excited some degree of apprehension in the country. In the early part of this Session, there was laid on the Table of the House a statement of the coals at the various depôts at home and abroad. It so happened that the statement was dated the 31st of January. Hon. Gentlemen would recollect that the months of November, December, and January were exceedingly stormy, and the consequence was that the vessels which had been sent with coals to two of the ports, Malta and Gibraltar, were detained an unusually long time on the voyage. But the Admiralty were not singular in this misfortune. The same thing happened to the great steam companies and to merchants in the Mediterranean. But the consequence was that the depôts at Malta and Gibraltar were left for a few weeks with only some hundreds instead of some thousands of tons of coal. The hon. and gallant Baronet, in quoting the note appended to that Return, took good care to read only part of it; it certainly was his duty to have read the note in full, which stated that all these coals arrived the first week in February. At the present moment there were at Gibraltar 5,411 tons of coal, and 4,000 tons more were shipped, and in process of conveyance thither. At Malta there were 2,419 tons of coal, and there had been shipped 11,148. At Halifax there were on hand 2,347 tons of coal, and 7,787 had been shipped. At Bermuda there were on hand only 289 tons, but on their way out there were 3,902 tons. So that either on hand or on their way out to the foreign depôts referred to by the hon. Baronet there was actually a larger supply of coals than was ever provided for the fleet in the palmy days when the hon. and gallant Baronet himself was in Office. He had the authority of his right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty for the further statement he was about to make. His right hon. Friend had called on the Controller of the Navy and himself to report as to the state of supplies in the Dockyards, and as to the quantity of articles supplied under Vote 10, sec. 1, and he had the satisfaction of stating that every article taken in the Estimates this year had been bought, and the greater proportion of them brought into store. We had at this moment 15 or 18 months' supply of everything required for the British Navy. Under these circumstances, the Controller and he had advised the First Lord not to purchase a single article. With regard to victualling, they had a similar report to make. With one or two comparatively unimportant exceptions, all the articles taken in the Estimate for the supply of the Navy had been already bought, and he was happy to inform the House that, upon their own figures, there was at this moment a saving of £35,000.

said, that the Question which he had asked had reference merely to the additional money taken. And he really thought there ought to be, as far as the Navy was concerned, some explanation of what was going to be done with the £2,000,000 voted last night for naval and military purposes.

said, he wished to obtain from the Secretary of State for War an answer to the Question which he had put on the previous day as to the exportation of horses from the United Kingdom. It was evident the right hon. Gentleman could have no knowledge of the fact of which he (Mr. Lowther) was informed, upon authority to which he felt bound to attach importance, though, of course, he could not speak from personal knowledge, that this was now proceeding at the rate of 1,000 horses a day. Authorities which the right hon. Gentleman himself would admit were likely to be well informed apprised him that from the port of Southampton alone about 100 horses were daily exported. His principal object was to draw the attention of the Government to the bearing of this state of matters upon the urgent question of remounts for our own cavalry and other branches of the service. The customary regulation price in the British Army for troopers was £30; but since the war began foreign agents were at liberty to go to £40, and if the war lasted for any time how could the right hon. Gentleman expect any longer to get for £30 what foreigners were prepared to buy at £40 and upwards? The way in which regiments were ordinarily supplied with horses was this—some one dealer was specially retained for a regiment, and he entered into engagements with breeders of horses and with other dealers in different parts of the country to supply him with horses at a certain rate; and of their studs the choice was given to him for the regiment—that was to say, horses of three years old might be selected by this dealer before they were exposed in open market. If it were not for this system he believed that very great difficulty would be experienced by the Government in obtaining the horses which they wanted in the face of the circumstances he had mentioned. He know one case in which a dealer, while buying horses for the Government, was offered £10 above the regulation price, to hand over the horses to a foreign agent for exportation to the Continent. It was on the ground not only of economy, but of public policy that he alluded to the formidable rivalry in the purchase of horses which was thus being sot up between ourselves and foreign Governments. There was a provision in the Act of 1853 which enabled the Government in time of danger—not necessarily of war—to prohibit by an Order in Council the export of any articles which might be deemed likely to be required for our own service, and this power had been more than once acted upon. During the American War, for instance, the commodity of saltpetre was subjected to this prohibition. The supply of horses suited for military purposes was not unlimited, and how long was it supposed that the country could stand the drain of 1,000 horses a day? There were plenty of small, under-sized horses and harness horses not fit for cavalry or artillery, but he spoke of horses such as were needed for Her Majesty's service. There were some 22 cavalry regiments at home, and in each of these there had been a reduction of their strength by one-fourth. In one regiment that he knew of there had been a reduction of over 100. But latterly he understood that instructions had been forwarded to commanders of regiments not to cast any horses which could be made in any way available for service. Something had been said in a former debate as to our neutrality, and as to the export of horses being equally divided between the belligerents. But where one belligerent had undisputed command of the sea, it was a very one-sided argument to say that the market was open to both. In proof of this, he might mention that a large dealer in London had a contract for supplying the Prussian Government. He at once placed himself in communication with the representatives of Prussia in this country, and inquired whether he would be protected, as regards contraband of war, in his shipments of horses. He was told that he must land his horses on Prussian territory, and take upon himself the risk of their transmission. But this dealer would have been far less shrewd than his class were popularly supposed to be, if he submitted to these terms. He abandoned the Teutons to their fate, and placed himself in direct communication with the Gauls, who said to him—"Hand your horses over in your own yard, we will take all the risks, pay money down, and there is an end of this transaction." He confessed that he entertained objections to the principle of placing restrictions upon exports, though he should not have any great difficulty in reconciling himself to a prohibition upon imports. Looking, however, to the serious drain of horses to which this country was being subjected, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would take the matter into his serious consideration.

said, he regretted that, in the multiplicity of Questions addressed to him yesterday, he had omitted to answer this particular inquiry; but he believed he had already made a very full statement with regard to the cavalry regiments. He was quite aware that the price of horses had been raised by the war between the two belligerent countries, and he was afraid that the price of oats, of hay, and of all articles consumed in great quantities by both belligerents would be increased in like manner; but he was not, on that account, prepared to bring in a Bill to stop the exportation of those articles, or to proceed with that object by Order in Council. According to the hon. Gentleman (Mr. J. Lowther) a prohibition upon exports was objectionable, while a prohibition upon imports was not. A country, therefore, which exported everything and got nothing in return would be at the height of prosperity. Such certainly was not his idea of free trade. A good many stories about horses had been told in the course of these discussions, but his belief was that some "mares' nests" had been discovered, no certainly had never given any instructions, nor had he heard of any instructions being given to those responsible for the purchase of horses that they should take all the "screws" offered them, and make no selection at all. The real truth was that the Government were not prepared to prohibit those exports merely because, like other purchasers, they would have to pay a higher price for what they wanted. The trade of the country would have great reason to complain of the conduct of the Government if a prohibition were imposed, and this class of property were thereby depreciated in value, merely that the Government might obtain the limited supplies which they required at a more moderate price.

said, he did not propose to get up any discussion upon naval affairs; but he hoped that before the House separated for the Recess his right hon. Friend (Mr. Childers) would afford that explanation to which the House was entitled, and which it was scarcely respectful to withhold, as to the manner in which the sum of money that the House so liberally voted yesterday was proposed to be applied. He thought it necessary to make that remark, because he had observed, not only in that House, but in the public papers, a disposition to imagine that there were scarcely any preparations necessary to be made in the Navy. That opinion certainly was not shared by naval persons. He therefore hoped Her Majesty's Government would take an opportunity of informing the House what they proposed to do with the money voted for the increase of the Navy.

said, he had been gratified at the explanation given by the Secretary to the Admiralty as to the supplies of coal at the different foreign depôts; but, tinder present circumstances, he thought it would be of great advantage if each of those depôts had two or three years' stocks of coal. If the store accommodation were not sufficient for that purpose it should be immediately enlarged. It had been said that full confidence should be given to the arrangements of the present Government, both as regarded the efficiency and economy of the service He felt that confidence fully. But he hoped they would not_ allow considerations of economy in the slightest degree to interfere with efficiency. He hoped they would feel that the country trusted them to the fullest extent, and that they had only to ask and they should have whatever was necessary for the maintenance of the interests and the honour of the country, and the protection of our Colonies.

said, he was glad to hear that more workmen were likely to be employed in the dockyards, and he would suggest that those men who, having been on the establishment, had been discharged with smaller super-annuation allowances than they had been led to expect should be re-engaged. At present the men in the dockyards, and particularly those in the factories, were exceedingly discontented, because for some incomprehensible reason their wages had suddenly been reduced. If dissatisfaction were allowed to increase, the men would avoid the public service, and the country would be unable to employ any but the worst and lowest class of mechanics and labourers. It was false economy to be illiberal and ungenerous. At Keyham, the wages of the men in the factories had been reduced from 32s. or 33s. to 26s. or 27s. a week. What they wanted was that the rate of wages should be fixed and certain, in the same way as the salaries of men who had clerks' work to do. Those who managed the dockyards, but who resided in London, were not well-informed as to what went on, and the men complained of many capricious annoyances to which they were subject. For instance, at Keyham there were two classes of workmen, the dockyard men proper and the factory men. There were two gates which led from the dockyard, and suddenly there came out an order that the factory men should go out at the small gate, and the dockyard men at the large one. The consequence was that many of the factory men were obliged to walk a mile or a mile and a-half further than they had to do before in order to go home to their dinners, and if they had not time to go over the extra distance they were prevented, by what he must call a petty piece of pipe-clay, from enjoying the society of their families at meal times. The unsatisfactory reply given to the remonstrance of those who thus suffered was that they might change their residences, or cook their meals in a left, where there were a copper and a furnace; but it was obvious that this would occasion increased expense and great discomfort. Another curious and almost incredible explanation of this vexatious order was that a similar arrangement existed at Chatham, where the factory men lived close to the gate they were allowed to use, and of course experienced no inconvenience from such a regulation. If the Lords of the Admiralty were to look into these apparently small matters, but real evils, and pay good wages, they would secure the best and steadiest workmen, and make them contented and happy in the public service.

Resolutions agreed to.