London County Council (Tramways and Improvements) Bill. — [By Order.]

Private Business. – in the House of Commons on 22nd April 1920.

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Photo of Sir Arthur Benn Sir Arthur Benn , Plymouth Drake

I beg to move, That, this House having considered the Special Report made to them on the 10th March last by the Select Committee on Standing Orders on the London County Council (Tramways and Improvements) Petition for Bill, it be resolved that Standing Order 22 be dispensed with in respect of the Bill with a view to the consideration of the proposals thereof by any Committee of this House to which the Bill may be referred. On 10th March the Select Committee on Standing Orders was given leave to bring up a special Report, which read as follows:— That in the case of the London County Council (Tramways and Improvements) Petition for Bill, the principle embodied in Standing Order 22 is so important that the Committee do not feel justified in this case in exercising their discretion in regard to its suspension under Standing Order 92 without direction from the House. The Special Report was laid upon the Table, and I now have pleasure in moving the Motion in my name. It is unnecessary for me to discuss the merits or demerits of any of the proposals contained in the Bill, for if the House passes the Resolution, the proposals in the Bill will be considered by a Committee of the House, and those that are good will be passed and those that are bad will be thrown out. I desire rather to deal with the principles embodied in Standing Order 22, and to point out why I hope the House will suspend its operation so far as this Bill is concerned, realising that the exigencies of the moment, largely produced by the War, require prompt action, and knowing that the House itself, when dealing with the matter, will safeguard the rights of the minorities. Standing Order 22 is known to most of us who live in London, but it is not known to some of those who reside in the provinces, and I should like to read it to the House: In cases of Bills to authorise the laying down of a tramway, the promoters shall obtain the consent of the local authority of the district or districts through which it is proposed to construct such tramway, and where in any district there is a road authority distinct from the local authority the consent of such road authority shall also be necessary in any case where power is sought to break up any road, subject to the jurisdiction of such road authority. For the purposes of this Order, in England, the local and road authorities shall be the local and road authorities for the purposes of 'The Tramways Act, 1870, except that in the case of a rural district in England the rural district council shall be deemed to be the local authority, and in Ireland the local and road authorities shall be the district council and the county councils respectively. Provided that where it is proposed to lay down a continuous line of tramway in two or more districts, and any local or road authority having jurisdiction in any such districts does not consent thereto, the consents of the local and road authority, or the local and road authorities having jurisdiction over two-thirds of the length of such proposed line of tramway, shall be deemed to be sufficient. The reason for the passing of this Standing Order seems to have been that Part I of the Tramways Act of 1870 provides for the construction of tramways under Provisional Orders made by the Board of Trade, subject to the consent of the local and road authorities. It was anticipated, when the Act was passed, that tramway promotions would generally be by Provisional Order of the Board of Trade, to save expense, but, in the words of a President of the Board of Trade, who introduced the Tramways Act; it was not intended to shut out the access to Parliament to those who might think proper to resort to promotion by Private Bill, but in such cases, if promoters obtained private Acts, they would be subject to the Clauses of the general Bill. There was, however, no provision in the Tramways Act applying the veto of the local and road authorities to promotion by Private Bill, and private promoters, in order to avoid the veto, began to seek powers in this manner. The Standing Order was therefore passed to supplement the Tramways Act by extending the veto of local and road authorities from promotions of tramways by Provisional Order to promotion of tramways by Private Bill. The Standing Order was necessary in those days, so far as London was concerned, for tramways were promoted by individuals and companies, and not, like to-day, by a responsible public authority representing the inhabitants. Since 1900 the majority of the inhabitants of the Administrative County of London, acting through their representatives on the London County Council, have gone upon the principle of owning and working the tramways within their area. To-day the London County Council owns and work 150 miles of tramways, and last year carried 685,000,000 passengers. The local authority in the Administrative County of London, outside the City, is the London County Council, and the road authorities are the twenty eight metropolitan borough councils. The City Corporation is the local and road authority in respect of the City. Thus, two local and twenty-nine road authorities were set up by the Tramways Act, and they all now enjoy the privilege of Standing Order No. 22.

The London County Council, in promoting tramways, requires to obtain the consent of the City Corporation should the tramways enter the city limits, and of each of the 28 road authorities through whose area the tramways run, unless two-thirds or more of the length of the proposed tramway is within the area of the road authority or road authorities who are willing to give their consent. Generally speaking, without the consent of each road authority concerned, no proposal for new tramways from the London County Council can come before Parliament. I would remind the House that the City of London and the 28 metropolitan boroughs have representatives on the London County Council, and that any tramway bill thus put forward by the London County Council is for the benefit of London as a whole.

Photo of Sir Charles Hanson Sir Charles Hanson , Bodmin

May I rise to a point of Order. The City of London has no representative on the London County Council when tramway matters are considered.

Photo of Sir Arthur Benn Sir Arthur Benn , Plymouth Drake

I stand corrected. The veto provided in Standing Order 22 has been condemned by the Royal Commission and by the Select Committee of this House, but its abolition is not now being asked for. We only ask for it to be suspended while the Tramway Bill of this year is before the House. The Royal Commission on London traffic, which sat in 1903–1905, stated in their Report: It is unreasonable that one portion of a district should be in a position to put a stop to the construction of a general system of tramways required for the public benefit without even allowing the case to be presented for the consideration of Parliament. They recommend that the 'veto' provided for by Standing Order 22 should be abolished, and that local and road authorities should have a locus standi to appear before the new Traffic Board proposed by the Commission, and before Parliament in opposition to any tramway scheme within their district. The Select Committee on Motor Traffic in 1912–13, which sat from December to April, under the Chairmanship of Sir George Toulmin, reported: The Corporation of the City of London objects to the construction of tramways in the City on the grounds that the streets in the City, with certain small exceptions, are unsuitable for tramways. All the Metropolitan Borough Councils have the right of veto. Some of these oppose the construction of tramways altogether and so impose a check on the development of through tramway services. Others take advantage of their powers to negotiate with the London County Council for road widenings and other improvements not always, it is claimed, made necessary solely by the tramway scheme. The veto was granted to local authorities to prevent them being harassed with speculative schemes promoted by private interests. It was not at that time contemplated that there would be a central municipal authority which would become the sole tramways promoter in London. Now that the London County Council has entire control of the tramways in the County of London, the same check is no longer necessary to safeguard public interests. But some Measure is required to ensure that local opinion has due weight given to it.…Any reasonable objection to the abolition of the veto should disappear if provision were made for the local authorities to state their views concerning any proposed tramway scheme to an independent and impartial body such as the new traffic branch suggested below as a preliminary to the hearing before Committee (or a Joint Committee) of the Houses of Parliament. The Select Committee on Transport, which sat last year under the chairmanship of the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Kennedy Jones), sated: The London County Council possesses the right to operate tramways, but cannot develop its system without express Parliamentary sanction. It finds that while there is no traffic authority to co-ordinate or direct and few authorities willing to put forth individual energy in the provision of public transport, there are always many to take up a position which might be helpful but which is usually the reverse. First, the City with its right of veto; then the London and the greater London boroughs who have the same rights conferred upon them by Parliamentary Standing Order 22.… While the outer urban bodies have to be considered.… They do not originate but they can veto or exact specific conditions from those who provide transport. There is a foot-note to this paragraph, and in this foot-note the Committee state:

The Bill of the London County Council promoted this Session in Parliament for the linking up of the north and south tramways, which was strongly recommended by the Royal Commission of 1905, was rejected by the Standing Orders Committee of the House of Commons because of the fact that the local authorities concerned had vetoed its promotion under Standing Order 22. The Resolution which I have moved does not ask for the abolition of the veto. It merely asks for its suspension so far as the consideration by the House of the present Tramways Bill is concerned, and asks for it under circumstances which I know are realised by hon. Members. The circumstances are national. We are suffering from a lack of houses. We know that many men and women who work in London have to get houses outside the city. We know that at the present they have got to be brought to their work. We know that cheap transportation and quick is one of the things to be aimed at. Everyone knows that there is congestion at the moment. The people of London, acting through their representatives on the London County Council, are ready to improve and increase the tramway service, and have put forward the Bill for that purpose. It is tied up because certain borough councils object to their streets being used for the benefit of the county as a whole. I cannot believe that this House, realising the difficulties, is unwilling to have the Bill considered by its own Committee and the proposals investigated; those proposals which are, it is considered, desirable to pass, passed; and those which may be considered not useful thrown out. I hope very much that this House will see its way to suspend Standing Order 22, and allow the Bill to be brought before a Committee of the House and fully discussed.

Photo of Mr James Gilbert Mr James Gilbert , Southwark Central

I beg leave to Second the Motion. My reason for so doing is that I am a member of the London County Council, and I have for some considerable years taken a great interest in the question of London traffic. Since I came to this House I have followed with interest this question, and I served on the Committee on London Traffic in 1919. In Seconding this Motion, I appeal to the House to carry it in order that we may put the London County Council, which is the largest municipal authority in the country, and which is the tramway authority for London, in the same position as any other tramway authority in our large provincial towns. The hon. Member who moved this Motion referred to the Standing Order affecting this question. That Standing Order was passed in the year 1872, nearly 48 years ago, and I suggest to the House that a Standing Order passed so long ago, when tramways were in their infancy, and just beginning to be laid down in this country, is not one which should apply in the year 1920. I suggest that the subject of tramways is a very burning question at the present moment.

Everybody who has considered London traffic from any point of view must admit that to-day probably the most urgent question in London, next to housing, is that of travelling, whether you take railways, tubes, tramways or omnibuses. In view of the figures placed before the Committee on London Traffic, which showed the great increase of travelling amongst the population of London and greater London, I suggest that it is very desirable that this House should, in every way it can, allow facilities for travelling in London to be increased, whether in the form of tramways, tubes, railways, or any other method. The London County Council are asking in this Bill that they shall be placed in exactly the same position as the tramways authorities in Manchester, Glasgow, or any other large provincial city. If the representatives of a large provincial city came to this House for permission to lay tramways, you would find that particular authority was its own road authority within the area in which they desired to construct the tram- ways. We in London have never been in that position, and the people who criticise the action of the London County Council in regard to its tramways and the non-development of traffic facilities do not realise, unless they have had practical experience of the difficulties of the County Council in carrying out tramway schemes, what are those difficulties.

May I give a brief instance? Take the case of the tramways which run along the Embankment outside this House to Woolwich through very populous districts and over a long route. Before the County Council could construct those tramways we had to get the consent of no less than seven road authorities through which those tramways were constructed. We had also to obtain the consent of the Government authorities at Greenwich, where the Observatory is situated, to the electrical equipment. I put this point specially to provincial Members who may be members of provincial county councils or town councils where tramways are running, and where corporations and councils have made a great success of their tramways, to show the enormous difficulties we have had in London in carrying our tramways to a successful issue. This Bill to which the Standing Order applies is one promoted by the London County Council. It contains 16 proposals, and, roughly, the mileage of them all is 38 miles of tramways. I do not propose to deal with any of the particular schemes of this Bill. I do not think it is my duty, and I respectfully suggest that it is not the duty of the House to-night, to criticise particular schemes in this Bill. No doubt many hon. Members have objections to a particular scheme, but all we are asking for by the suspension of this Standing Order is that our Bill may be sent to a Committee upstairs, where those who have objections may be heard, and then the Committee may decide any particular scheme on its merits. If that is not done, the tramway development of London will be turned down, not because you can put up a case against all the schemes, or any particular scheme, but because of a Standing Order passed in 1872, which prevents this Bill going before a Select Committee in order that the case for it may be fairly judged by a Committee of Members of this House.

A Whip has been issued against this Bill, and it is signed by eight of my London colleagues and some others outside. Personally, I very much regret that the London Members, on the tramway question, have not been able to unite as we did on some other London traffic problems. On London traffic questions last year and the Tube Bill this year, hon. Members on both sides, representing London constituencies, have been able to work amicably together, and as one who took part in those meetings, I regret that my London colleagues do not see eye to eye with me on this question, and that in the interests of traffic generally we cannot put up a united case before this House, as we have done on some other questions. May I remind the House of one historical occasion when there was a great fight on a Tramway Bill in this House. Older hon. Members will recollect the fight put up here on the over- bridge tramways, bringing them over Westminster Bridge along the Embankment to Blackfriars Bridge. That question was fought year in and year out in this House, and in 1905 the Division in this House was equal on the particular Bill of that Session, and Mr. Speaker gave his casting vote in favour of the Bill, with the result, that the measure was allowed to go before a Committee upstairs.

Photo of Mr Frederick Banbury Mr Frederick Banbury , City of London

May I point out that Mr. Speaker gave his casting vote, not because he was in favour of the scheme, but simply because it was the custom of the House that when the voting is equal hon. Members should have another opportunity of deciding the question.

Photo of Mr James Gilbert Mr James Gilbert , Southwark Central

I was not in any way suggesting that Mr. Speaker gave a vote for the Bill because he was in favour of it, but I was trying to point out that if the Bill had not been carried in this House we should not have got the measure before a Committee upstairs, and that was the only point which I was trying to make. After a precedent like that, I think if this Bill is allowed to go upstairs to a Committee, the London County Council will make out such a good case for it that we shall be able to pass the Bill, or at any rate the greater part of it. No doubt we shall be told by the opponents of this Bill that tramways are obsolete, and that is one reason why we should not have any more of them. I do not think that is correct. In all the evidence I have been able to obtain—and I have given the question very careful study for some years—if you are going to have road systems of traction, and you have to deal with a huge population where there are great crowds to be moved, I do not know any method that can deal with such a problem better than tramways. As regards the cost of carrying people, the best figures I have been able to obtain show that the tramways are much the best method of carrying passengers. The cost of working London County Council trams per passenger in 1919–20 (to 31st March, 1920) was l.27d., while the cost for buses in the year 1919, up to December of that year, was 1.95d. Buses do not carry any workmen at cheap fares, and in addition to that the figures for the tramway year included three months more of the period when wages were high, so that I think these figures are very much in favour of tramways, because if you add those three months to 1920 it works out an increase in the cost of running the buses. We are faced with this problem in London, that in certain areas you have an immense local traffic to bring into the centre in the morning and to take back at night, and anybody who has studied this question at all must admit that the buses do not deal with that particular phase of the London traffic problem. The trams are better able to deal with the crowded traffic during the crush hours than are the omnibuses, even if they could put sufficient omnibuses on to deal with them. May I say what we run in London on the tramway mileage? We run on the London County Council trams an average of ten cars per mile, which provide seating for 780 persons. The buses only run seven buses per mile, and provide for but 238 passengers. To equal the number provided for by the trams 23 buses would be required. Seven trams provide 546 seats.

I suggest to hon. Members who are interested in this traffic question that if they watched this problem in the morning when the crowds are being brought into the centre and in the evening when they are being taken to the suburbs, they must admit that at the present time the best method of dealing with the traffic is the tramway in preference to the omnibus. We in London suffer very severely from not having a sufficient mileage of traffic, owing to this Standing Order being brought into operation against a great many tramway schemes promoted by the London County Council. The consequence is that the development of tramways in London is very much behind that in provincial cities. The number of miles per one hundred thousand inhabitants is in Leeds 12.2;, Manchester 12.0;, in Newcastle 10.7, in Liverpool 9.3;, in Glasgow 8.6; and in Birmingham 7.7, while in London it is 4.6. It seems to me that in the capital city of the Empire, where, in addition to the local traffic, you have to deal every day in ordinary times with an enormous visitor traffic, we ought to encourage in every way we can any form of vehicular traffic able to help in dealing with this problem. We in London have been extremely badly placed as regards traffic facilities. Hon. Members who represent London constituencies, and especially suburban constituencies, know that in a good many of the suburbs the railway companies during the War shut up a number of stations. Some of those stations have been re-opened since, some have not. On the Transport Committee in 1918 Sir Francis Dent, the then General Manager of the South Eastern and Chatham Railway Company, was asked a question as to the closing of the suburban railway stations, as a result of which a very large amount of suburban traffic was thrown on to the trams and on to the tube railways, where they existed. Sir Francis was then a member of the Railway Executive Committee, and in replying to the question, he said: The difficulty which the South Eastern and Chatham Railway were in was that they at very great expense in the early days of railways constructed a means for bringing suburban people into London. It was not the right means. The right means for bringing people into London short distances was by tramway. You know how long it took for London to realise the necessity for a system of electric trams. Now they have got that system—the paying part—we are left with the unpaying part—that is, the rush in the morning and evening. The real way of carrying traffic is by tramway, and we are now in the unfortunate position that we made that accommodation which is not now wanted. A still further inquiry was put to him as to the possibility after the War of still further improving the local London traffic, and, in reply, he said: My own opinion is that short-distance local traffic should find its proper means of passage by tramway. I think the opinions of a well-known railway manager like Sir Francis Dent are important and well worth the consideration of this House. If that is so, I again respectfully suggest that, in view of an opinion like that, this proposal of the London County Council to extend their tramways should be allowed to be examined into by a Committee upstairs and this Standing Order should be suspended so that that may be done. I have been pressing recently for the re-opening of some of these stations in South London. The other day—on the 29th March—I put a question to the Minister for Transport on the subject and he gave me the following answer:— I am still not in a position to add anything to the reply given on the 1st March. The services in question are non-remunerative and materially restrict and negative the running of other long distance services, and the L.C.C. trams offer an alternative service. Pending a Report by the Advisory Com- mittee on London Traffic, it is not proposed to open these stations.""—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th March, 1920, col. 860, Vol. 127.] Again, I say in view of an opinion like that I think the House might very properly agree to the suspension of the Standing Order and allow this Bill to be sent to a Committee upstairs. There is very little else I want to say. I may mention that three of the London borough councils, three large borough councils, are in favour of our proposal. Wandsworth Borough Council, which covers a very large area, is in favour of it, and passed a resolution on the 15th of October last asking for the removal of this veto. Hammersmith, another large borough council, also covering a big area, passed a similar resolution on the 29th of October, while Islington Borough Council passed one on the 8th January.

Photo of Mr James Gilbert Mr James Gilbert , Southwark Central

I will leave it to the right hon. Baronet himself to deal with that. I am sure he is quite able to take care of the City.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir F. HALL:

How many borough councils concerned are against the proposal?

Photo of Mr James Gilbert Mr James Gilbert , Southwark Central

I will leave it to the hon. Member to deal with that.

Sir F. HALL:

Is it not a fact that fourteen out of seventeen are against it?

Photo of Mr James Gilbert Mr James Gilbert , Southwark Central

I am quite certain the hon. and gallant Member for Dulwich is capable of putting his case before the House. I submit I am entitled to quote the borough councils who are in favour of the suspension of the Standing Order, and I propose to leave it to hon. Members who are opposed to quote the borough councils who have passed resolutions the other way. I think that we in London, with all the difficulties we have had in constructing and running tramways, have done exceedingly well in regard to the tramways we have run. It is only on the fringe of London that we are entitled to run tramways; the centre, which is really the traffic gold-mine, is not touched at all, or only to a small extent, by the tramways of the London County Council. During the time we have operated tramways in London we have spent something like £14,000,000 on them. Of that we have repaid something like £5,000,000 out of the earnings of the tramways, besides interest and maintenance, and besides the cost of maintaining the whole of the centre of the road in the districts where our 150 miles of tramways run. That part of the road is largely used by other road traffic as well. In addition we pay a considerable amount towards local rates, which goes to the benefit of the London ratepayer. As a member of the London County Council for some years, I ask the House to give the Council the same facilities and justice as are given to other tramway authorities in the country, which are their own road authorities, and the same facilities which would be given to a Tube Railway Bill, or a suburban or any other railway Bill dealing with London. The other week the London Tube Fares Bill was sent to a Committee, and we ask the same for this Bill, and shall be prepared to abide by the decision of the Committee. There are something like 5,000,000 Londoners to whom trams are part of their daily life, and for very many of whom they are the only method of getting backwards and forwards to their business. I do not think this question has been before this House of Commons previously, and I ask the House to treat it on broad lines, and let us take the Bill before a Committee upstairs and put our case to the best of our ability.

Photo of Sir Herbert Nield Sir Herbert Nield , Ealing

I beg to move, to leave out from the word "Bill" ["Petition for Bill"] to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the words declines to dispense with compliance with Standing Order 22 requiring the consent of the local or road authority to the laying down of any tramway in the area of such authority on the ground that such dispensation deprives such authority of the control of its roads whilst providing no contribution to the maintenance of such parts thereof as are not occupied by the tramway and at the same time limiting the jurisdiction of such local or road authority in the management and control of their area. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Central Southwark (Mr. Gilbert) on his speech in support of the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth (Sir Shirley Benn). If, however, there is any person liable to make mistakes, it is the enthusiast—the devoted parent that refuses to see the faults of his children. My hon. Friend the Member for Central Southwark has given a number of particulars and statistics, and has made various comparisons, but at the same time he has shut the eye of his mind to the many difficulties which the London County Council themselves have created in their treatment of the boroughs in years gone by in relation to this matter. Those who represent the boroughs here will be able to answer him most completely on the various points to which he has called attention. He has mentioned that certain boroughs have passed resolutions, but I understand that my right hon. Friend the Member for Hammersmith (Sir W. Bull) is instructed to oppose the Bill. That is rather in conflict with the resolution passed by the borough council in support of it, and it calls for further inquiry. Those three councils are presumably not directly interested in the proposals contained in the Bill of the London County Council. No wonder they have passed abstract resolutions in its favour. They have as much tramway as they can very well take, and it is difficult to imagine that any one of them would lay down additional lines. I think, however, that at this moment, when the nation is overburdened with debt, it is the duty of all of us here to do the best we can to check expenditure. If we are blamed for not having an effectual check upon Imperial expenditure by the Government, at least we can say, "Do not sanction first of all the woeful waste of money which must take place upstairs when 80 petitioners, appearing by counsel, will have to be heard against this Bill if it is sent there." It is hardly conceivable that any Select Committee ever got together in this House could pass proposals of such a character as those in this Bill. We are asked to say that because this Standing Order, requiring the consent of the Road Authorities, was passed in 1872, therefore it is obsolete and ought not to have effect in its full meaning. I should have thought the argument was directly the contrary. The Standing Orders of this House have been revised again and again, and presently I am going to call attention to two Orders, Nos. 145a and 150, which have been put in, or, at any rate, amended, within the last few months, to deal with the condition of things which has been brought about by the establishment of the Ministry of Transport. It is obvious. Mr. Speaker, that the Standing Orders of this House are under your eye, or the eye of your permanent officials, and are constantly brought up to date, yet this obsolete Order is continued deliberately and is a living force to-day as it was in 1872.

9.0 P.M. The London County Council always seems to forget that there are other bodies in the government of London besides itself. I am not complaining of that; I am only saying that there does appear to be a lack of sympathy and a want of consideration on the part of the London County Council—ever throwing out its tentacles like an octopus for more and more power—for those other bodies that are working in the same area and dealing with matters which, though certainly different, are cognate matters, such as health, housing, and so forth. It has also lived on very evil terms with its neighbours. If you were to ask, you would find no good opinion of it in the county whose views I am now expressing, namely, Middlesex, of which the greater part of London to-day consists; and that is also the case with Surrey, Kent, Herts and Essex. We are asked to let this Bill go upstairs, and the complaint is made that the Standing Order requires this consent. Why should it not? Although it is well known that the London County Council, and all tramway authorities, are bound to maintain and repair the track and 18 inches on either side, it is not generally remembered that what are known as the "haunches" of the road have to be repaired by the road authority, be it the borough council or the urban council. Most persons fail to realise that the presence of fixed tramway rails in the centre of our great London roads forces the traffic on to the haunches. That has been given in evidence again and again by the surveyors of those authorities who have had to spend money in this way, and the result of that pulling on and off and the driving of the traffic on to the haunches has caused those haunches to be unduly worn, and the result is that very large sums of money have to be spent. That is one of the reasons why these authorities ought still to be permitted to have the right to say whether or not their consent should be vital and the Standing Order should be continued. The hon. Member (Mr. Gilbert) has complained that London by reason of this Standing Order has been cooped up into an area of four miles of tramway workings, whereas Leeds and Manchester have approximately 12 each. The answer is very easily given. London, the more ancient of all, has had its suburbs spring up at a time when road making, and the width of roads were not realised, and the result is that difficulties are met with in London and suburbs to a very much greater extent than you would find in the country round large provincial towns which have only been developed in the course of the last 30 or 35 years. The result is that London widenings have not been able to be made on the ground of expense. It seems that the London County Council has never turned its mind to the over-head trolley system, what is called the trackless trolley system, getting their power from an electric wire and yet having it attached to their vehicles in such a way that a vehicle does not run upon a definite fixed line, but is able to move about the road and accommodate itself to the traffic on the road for the time being.

Photo of Sir Arthur Benn Sir Arthur Benn , Plymouth Drake

That matter came up for consideration, and it was carefully discussed and turned down.

Photo of Sir Herbert Nield Sir Herbert Nield , Ealing

Turned down because the County Council wants what it thinks for the time being is best, regardless of expense. That is the one thing that never concerns the London County Council, or they would not come year after year to this House with their chimerical Bills, spending vast sums of money in Parliamentary expenses which are, for the most part, if not wholly, lost to the ratepayers. I am suggesting that this House should persuade them to a more sober and more frugal vehicle. The motor omnibus has come to stay. It needs no lines to run upon. It needs no extensive construction, it needs no obstruction of the streets, and in conveys a very large number of persons. I am not prepared to go into the comparison of cost at present. It is not a great deal of difference, though I appreciate there is a difference if the information that has come to us is strictly limited to the two classes of vehicles, and on the supposition that the tramways wholly belong to the county of London, because the county of Middlesex has tramways which run through into the county of London, and I can tell the House some very painful things about the difficulties which Middlesex underwent before they could get running powers conceded to them in the county of London. It was not at all a sisterly attitude to help forward this great idea of transporting the people of London. I invite hon. Members who know anything of the North of London to go and see that, notwithstanding the running powers which have been grudgingly conceded to Middlesex by the London County Council, whereby some of their cars are permitted to go through the county of London down to the base of the Hampstead Road, where the Euston Road crosses and Tottenham Court Road begins—notwithstanding that through service, let them go and watch between 6 and 9 o'clock at that portion of the Seven Sisters Road by Finsbury Park, where the fuller system of the Middlesex county trams used to begin, and now, thanks to the attitude of London, are postponed to the Manor House, some quarter of a mile away, so that a man must now change his tram if he wants to go into the Middlesex area and is not on a through tram. If you watch those trams as they come to the terminus, you will see a fight for seats, especially on wet nights, which will equal a football match in any part of the country. That ought not to be permitted, and if London had been willing to do her part in conjunction with her sister county, every tram would be a through tram, and there would be little or no difficulty.

But is it necessary to put the public authorities to all the expense of going upstairs and asking the Committee to hear these 80 petitions against? My hon. Friend (Sir Shirley Benn) referred again and again to what he was using as a condemnation of the Standing Order, or rather the right of veto by various bodies which have sat from time to time. But I think he will admit that everyone of those phrases of condemnation contained at the end a reference to a body to be set up which should hold the scales equally between all parties. That is exactly the position of those of us who oppose this Bill to-day. This veto ought not to be dispensed with and the Standing Order ought not to be relaxed until there is a body, which I hope is now in course of formation and will soon be set up by the Ministry of Transport, which is a far more appropriate body as a public department than we have ever had before. If we have a London Traffic Board I am quite content, and I believe everyone else is, to leave this question to be determined by that independent body.

The hon. Member (Mr. Kennedy Jones) has taken an extraordinary and exceptional interest in this question of London traffic. He has been chairman of one Committee and also chairman of the Select Committee of the House. He writes to me under to-day's date: I have, unfortunately, a meeting to-night at West Hornsey which I must attend, and I shall therefore not be present when the discussion arises on Shirley Benn's Motion. I, as you know, would oppose it if I were present, not so much on the ground that I am against the veto of local authorities, but because I am convinced from the study of traffic conditions in London it must remain as it is until the whole subject can be dealt with under the auspices of one single traffic authority. I do hope that this point will be put forward in the course of the Debate. If we look at the evidence which was given before the Commission set up as far back as 1904, in the minutes of evidence you find that some of the most experienced men in the whole of London, public officials of municipalities, were called to give evidence and I challenge my hon. Friend to deny or to maintain that the statement should be qualified that throughout the whole of that expert evidence one view was given, namely, that this veto should be retained until there was a body which could properly arbitrate and settle these matters. I am content to confine my observations to a reply given by a very distinguished gentleman, Mr. Leete, the Town Clerk of Kensington. He was asked Would the Kensington Borough Council be willing to let the question of the expediency of laying down a tramway go before a competent and impartial tribunal, or do they insist on retaining the veto in their hands? The answer, which I think will suffice for all purposes, was: I am bound to say that, while we do not say that there is any necessity for the removal of the veto, if you had a competent and impartial tribunal, certainly a tribunal on which the borough councils would be represented, then I think it is quite possible that the councils would consent to that tribunal being made the authority to say whether a scheme should go forward as far as Parliament or not. I cite that as an illustration, and I say that it is to be found again and again. It is to be found in evidence on other occasions, and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth (Sir Shirley Benn) said, it has always been accompanied by the statement that you should have an independent authority. A similar view is repeated in the Committee's Report published this year, Command Paper 636, under the heading "London Traffic Authority." The Commission report as follows: Nor do the Advisory Committee think that there should be any adverse opinion on the question of powers. These represent mainly the concentration in the hands of one authority of powers already vested in several Departments of State. With minor exceptions, they leave unchanged the powers of local authorities as they exist to-day. If an instance is wanted, the abolition of the veto of local authorities Standing Order No. 22 may be quoted. The veto of local authorities has been condemned by every body set up to investigate traffic conditions, and we recommend that it be abolished so far as the great London area is concerned, since the establishment of a traffic authority with full powers and responsibilities will ensure that all proposals for tramways and tramway extensions are thoroughly investigated and considered from the point of view of the traffic requirements of London as a whole, due regard being paid also to the interests of particular districts. There you have the imprimatur of the last of the Committees in favour of this veto being dispensed with only when there be an authority to take its place, and a determining authority as between the interests of the promoters of the scheme on the one hand and of the local authority on the other. I desire to call attention to two Standing Orders which, it has been suggested, would give protection to those who object to dispensing with the veto. I venture to think that neither the one nor the other has any real application. It is suggested that Standing Order 145A would give all the protection necessary to the local authorities: In the case of any Bill relating to a railway, tramway … seeking powers to levy tolls, rates, or duties in excess of those already authorised for that undertaking, or usually authorised in previous years for like undertakings, the Bill shall not be reported by the Committee until a report from the Ministry of Transport on the powers so sought has been laid before the Committee, and the Committee shall report specially to the House in what manner the recommendations or observations in the report of the Ministry of Transport, and also in what manner the Clauses of the Bill relating to the powers so sought have been dealt with by the Committee. How in the world can that be said to give any power at all over the question of route or method, or whether it is to be a trackless trolley system, motor omni- buses or anything else? It is a mere question of whether the tramway owners can raise the fares and that is to be the subject of a Report to the Committee by the Department. Standing Order 150 simply says: Whenever a recommendation shall have been made in a report on a Private Bill from a Department of the Government referred to, the Committee shall notice such recommendation in their report and shall state their reasons for dissenting, should such recommendations not be agreed to. How can it be said that that controls in the slightest degree the question whether tramways shall run up Park Lane through the Marble Arch and into the bottle-neck at Kilburn at enormous expense and great inconvenience? I venture to think that it has nothing whatever to do with it. I hope, when other Members have made clear to those not so well acquainted with London as we are, the reckless propositions contained in this Bill of going into crowded streets which are already insufficient to accommodate the traffic, that it will be unnecessary to send this Bill any further or to incur the alarming expense of hearing petitions, involving a loss of time of Parliament and of Members of the Select Committee. Let hon. Members go and see what happens at present to the cross traffic at Holborn Town Hall where Gray's Inn Road crosses Theobald's Road, and let them ask themselves, if that condition prevails to-day with all the ability of the police to regulate things, what will happen when they get to Edgware Road, Praed Street, and Chapel Street, if in that narrow thoroughfare fixed tramways are introduced? Imagine the hon. Member for Plymouth, with his luggage, going to Paddington to catch his train and being blocked at the Chapel Street end. It is too ludicrous to think of. Therefore, I ask the House to accept the Amendment and not at the moment, when a Traffic Board is intended and, we may reasonably hope, is actually in course of formation, send this Bill to a Select Committee, but to wait until the triumvirate—the Great Three—are appointed to deal with London traffic. By all means let them have the authority, but let it be an impartial body that has the authority, and do not do away with the veto, which is the only compensation and protection that the local ratepapers and local bodies have at the present moment, until you are able to ensure them the protection afforded by a superior board or tribunal.

Photo of Mr James Remnant Mr James Remnant , Holborn

I beg to second the Amendment. Holborn, which I have the honour to represent, will be affected even more than the City of London if this Standing Order be suspended and these trams are allowed to go through our crowded street. Holborn, fortunately or unfortunately, is surrounded by all the great London termini, and it is very difficult to go from north to south or east to west without having to cross some part of Holborn. My hon. and learned Friend has referred to the Clerkenwell Road crossing near Holborn Town Hall, which is well known. He might have gone a little further west and have referred to the proposal to run the trams down the Tottenham Court Road and across New Oxford Street, where to-day there is almost as much congestion of traffic as there is in front of the Mansion House. I have been on the London County Council and served for some years with my hon. Friend (Mr. Gilbert) who seconded the Motion for suspension. During those years we had this hardy annual of the County Council tramways cropping up. We had various other annuals, such as the taking over of the City of London itself, and proposals for swamping or doing away later with the borough councils. The London County Council is anxious to take everything under its wing. It has acquired the tramways, with what success or want of success is known well to Londoners. If one may judge from the speeches we have heard to-night one would imagine that there is no other means of locomotion in London except the tramways. Tramways are all very well in their way as a means to an end, and that end we all desire, namely, to help in the promotion of easy and cheap locomotion in our great cities, but there comes a point when the tramways can bring people into London and take people out of London, but not across London. If you are going to allow these tramways to go right across London through our congested streets you will not relieve the congestion of traffic, but you well intensify it, and defeat the very object which you are so anxious to achieve.

Is there any great hurry for this London County Council scheme? We are not today under war conditions, when we had to do things which otherwise we would not do. It is a very drastic thing to ask this House to suspend a Standing Order which was deliberately drawn up to confirm and to carry out the Tramways Act of 1872 and as a means of safeguarding the road authorities in London and elsewhere. It is a very drastic step to ask the House to suspend the Standing Order which gives a safeguard to these road authorities, when you have practically a unanimous vote against it. Fourteen out of the seventeen will not give their consent to it. One of the remaining three went so far as to give a doubtful approval to the suspension, and afterwards they passed a resolution and sent it to the right hon. Gentleman who represents them so well here asking him to vote against the suspension. I think I may fairly say that the almost unanimous opinion of the local authorities, the road authorities, who know their districts far better than the London County Council do, is that it is a drastic step to over-ride their views when Parliament has given them this safeguard, especially while we are waiting for a Traffic Board which would have to deal with all these great schemes, but deal with them as a whole. The hon. Member who moved the suspension stated that the Committee had advocated the abolition of the Standing Order, but he did not go on to say that that was provided the whole question was referred to the Traffic Board. That makes a very great difference. The chances are that if the question is referred to this impartial board the Standing Order will be suspended which gives the local veto to the road authorities; but until that Board has been established and has got to work, I do not think the hon. Member was quite fair in not giving the whole facts of the case.

I object very much to this suspension of the Standing Order. There is no hurry for it. The consequences will be great. You cannot suspend the Standing Order in a case like this, when there is such a strong case against it, without doing away with the thing altogether. I doubt very much whether the House of Commons will feel disposed to do away with a Standing Order which it has confirmed many times during recent years, without better grounds than have been urged to-night for the suspension. The question of the trams as a means of locomotion has been referred to by many speakers, and naturally the London County Council are in favour of getting tramways wherever they can get them. They have made a hopeless failure of them so far as they have gone, with a heavy loss to the ratepayers, as anybody who understands ordinary business will appreciate, and I am afraid that by the means now proposed they are hoping to bolster up their non-paying enterprise, instead of confining themselves to their proper business, which is more that of administration than of running these ventures. Fixed tramways through our crowded and congested streets in London are obsolete. On the Thames Embankment quite recently we saw a breakdown which necessitated nearly the whole length of the tramway being blocked with trams. Picture as against that an equal number of motor-omnibuses which the London County Council seek powers to run against this block of tramcars. There can be no question that the motor-omnibus, besides employing more men, which hon. Members opposite ought to advocate, are a far better means for the working of traffic in London than fixed tram-cars running along the centre of the street. The enormous expenditure which is proposed, in view of the suspension of this Standing Order, would be a waste of money. There are other means of locomotion besides tramcars. In Tottenham Court Road we have a splendid service of motor-omnibuses, and we have the tubes and other means of getting about. I do hope the House will hesitate long before it suspends a Standing Order which is the only safeguard which the road authorities have against these sort of enterprises, which I am afraid are doomed to failure.

Photo of Mr Ernest Gray Mr Ernest Gray , Accrington

The debate has disclosed a very remarkable position. My hon. Friend who moved this Amendment (Sir H. Nield) declared, as I understand, that there would be far less objection to the removal of the veto if there existed an independent impartial tribunal before which the County Council and borough councils could each place their case. That means that the Traffic Board, as suggested by the Commission, is an impartial tribunal, and that a Select Committee of this House is not. The suggestion here is not that the County Council, being one of the parties, should decide its own case, or that the borough council, being one of the parties, should decide its own case, but that both should go to a Select Committee of this House. The ground of cost was another string to the bow. That argument was that, if it went to a Traffic Board, there is no objection to the abolition of the veto, but with a Select Committee of the House there is an objection to the abolition of the veto. It has long been said—as far back as 1903—by one of the best authorities on Standing Orders, the best authority, that it was not just that one of the parties to a dispute should be a judge in the case. That is the position. So long as the borough councils maintain this veto they become absolute judge, because they prevent Parliament considering the Bill and coming to a decision upon the Bill on its merits. They judge the case before it comes into court, and if my hon. Friend will forgive me, and will not take it as an offence, his attitude in this matter reminds me of the mediæval criminal who clings to the rusty knocker of a church, and, in order not to be haled before the seat of justice, cries "Sanctuary!" He does not cry "Sanctuary!" but cries "Veto!" He has seized hold of the Standing Order. He hopes to shelter himself behind that rather than go to an independent tribunal where the case could be impartially tried.

Photo of Sir Herbert Nield Sir Herbert Nield , Ealing

I suppose that my hon. Friend knows that the sanctuary only lasted seven days, when you had to clear out.

Photo of Mr Ernest Gray Mr Ernest Gray , Accrington

I hope that this Standing Order will not last seven hours, and that it may be suspended by this House in order that the case may go before the proper tribunal. It is said that enthusiasts are apt to make mistakes; I think that both the Mover and the Seconder of the Amendment must be enthusiasts, for I note that the Amendment objects to the suspension on the ground that it deprives each authority of the control of its roads, and provides no contribution towards the maintenance of these parts thereof that are not occupied by the tramway. But does not the tramway contribute to the local rates? It is assessed for local rates wherever it is within the borough boundary, and I am advised that last year it contributed £100,000 to local rates, which local rates may be used by the borough councils for the maintenance of the roads. The tramway authority, the County Council, have to maintain the road occupied by the tramway and 18 inches each side, but in addition they are a large ratepayer in every one of the boroughs. My Friend (Sir J. Remnant) is an enthusiast. In seconding the Amendment he said that these tramways so far had been run in London at a great loss to the ratepayers.

Photo of Mr Noel Billing Mr Noel Billing , Hertford

Is it not a fact that the tramways occupy a vast proportion of the road and drive the traffic off that part of the road, and therefore add to the wear on the other part of the road?

Photo of Mr Ernest Gray Mr Ernest Gray , Accrington

I think that the hon. Member might address that question with far greater instruction to himself to anyone of the taxicab drivers of London, or even to the drivers of motor buses, who invariably make for the tram lines, as the best kept part of the road, and keep away from the sides of the road, because they are in such a deplorable condition. The roads are bad in other districts as well as in those where there are tramways. One would imagine that the inferior character of the road was due to the accident of the tramways being there. But I want to get back, if I can, to what is the real issue here. I do not complain of the Standing Order being 50 years of age, but I do desire to point out that when it was adopted the conditions with regard to tramway construction were totally different from those of to-day. The highest authority on this matter has declared that this Standing Order was passed by this House originally to give to the local authority priority of claim in the construction of tramways. The only tramway authorities in those days were private authorities, and they were constructing tramways and running them for private gain, and I can well understand the attitude of Parliament in desiring to protect a local authority against the institution of a private company, and securing by means of the veto the right of the local authority to become the tramway authority and construct and run tramways if it so desired. It was not until some years afterwards that the London County Council became a tramway authority. I deprecate very much the tone of the speeches against this suggestion. The London County Council is not antagonistic to the borough councils.

Photo of Mr Ernest Gray Mr Ernest Gray , Accrington

It probably was in the, days when my hon. Friend was a Member. I have had the privilege of sitting there for thirteen years and I have seen no evidence of it in that time, but I have seen many, many efforts on the part of the Council to work harmoniously with the borough councils. On this matter I do feel that it is not megalomania, as some people say, on the part of the County Council, but a real desire to grapple with part of the problem of the transport of Londoners in a very thickly populated area. We have felt constantly that our efforts in that direction were systematically impeded by the borough councils, who declared the veto often without giving to our proposals anything like thorough consideration. It was remarked a moment ago that fourteen out of seventeen borough councils had expressed disfavour. There are 29 authorities. These objecting councils are the councils who have taken up this dog-in- the-manger attitude ever since the commencement. The other borough councils have taken a larger view of London's needs and have already given their consent. There was no need to consult them. Their consent we have. The borough councils for the South of London and the East of London, where the poor live—

Sir F.HALL:

Dulwich is in South London, and it is against this.

Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South

I am sure the hon. Member does not wish to mislead the House. He must know that the other borough councils, apart from the 17, would have no locus standi, and would not be allowed to oppose the Bill.

Photo of Mr Ernest Gray Mr Ernest Gray , Accrington

That is not the point, I was referring to a figure which was quoted a few moment ago, as though 14 of the borough councils were against and three only were in favour, and I said that 14 councils did not constitute the whole of the borough councils of London, of which there are 29. The fact that they have refrained from expressing an opinion, knowing that this was coming forward to-night, and having regard also to the attitude they have taken on other occasions, surely justifies me in claiming that the majority of those would be in favour. Perhaps I can give force to the suggestion, as it appears to me, by referring to a note which I received from the Tilbury Urban District Council. It is, I know, an authority outside London, but so is Ealing.

Photo of Sir Herbert Nield Sir Herbert Nield , Ealing

My hon. Friend forgets that this Bill travels outside London, comes into Middlesex, and is promptly vetoed by the urban district of Willesden.

Photo of Mr Ernest Gray Mr Ernest Gray , Accrington

I have not forgotten anything of the kind. The Tilbury people write that they were circularised by the Council of Urban Districts and asked to pass a resolution moved by my hon. Friend opposite, that they had considered that circular, that they had unanimously reached the conclusion that they would not support the veto, but would advise their Member to be present to-night to vote against the continuation of the veto; that they were opposed to the Council of their organisation, and that the veto ought to be suspended in order that this Bill might go to a Committee upstairs. That is but one. I know full well the area I represent, and I have had the privilege during 17 or 18 years of representing two boroughs on the L.C.C. Hoxton is one area, and I learned something of the difficulties of transit in Shore-ditch and Brixton in the south. For six years also I was a member of one of the local authorities, and have seen the matter from their point of view, and I have reached the conclusion that the conditions relating to transit in London today are absolutely intolerable and that something must be done to get us out of this quagmire. Whether the solution is to be secured by an extension of the tramways, by motor- 'buses, by tubes, or by all in combination, I suggest that if we fail in this Resolution to-night it has at least brought nearer a settlement of this great question. If we allowed this to go by default, when are we likely to get this traffic authority for London? It has been promised for the last 15 years. Fifteen years ago a Royal Commission recommended the establishment of the authority. If we do nothing more tonight than hasten the advent of the authority, some advantage will have been gained by this Debate.

We have recently undertaken huge responsibilities with regard to the housing of the working classes in the London area. We are obliged by force of circumstances to purchase sites and erect buildings outside the area of London proper. The whole of our housing scheme will be brought to nought unless we have cheap and rapid means of bringing these people to their work from their homes. If the Minister of Health were present, I would venture to claim his support of a proposal which will result in the extension of tramway lines to some of the areas where houses are likely to be built. Take that great scheme at Dagenham, where very shortly we shall be housing no fewer than 150,000 people—something approaching the size of three county boroughs. How are those people to be brought to their work? If, whenever we try to secure facilities for transport, we are met with this veto by some local authority, across whose area we must travel, and are told that we must wait for a Traffic Board, what can we do? We cannot wait. The problem is becoming more acute week by week. Let anyone who doubts it watch the streets of London at such a place as Blackfriars Bridge, or Liverpool Street, or the Elephant and Castle, or Victoria, at what are called the peak-load hours of the day, when the pressure of traffic is heaviest. You must not judge London traffic by what you see between 10 o clock and four. Anyone who witnesses it will realise that it is a problem the solution of which has been too long delayed, and that it requires the earnest attention of this House.

The Select Committee on Standing Orders had the power, had it chosen, to say that Standing Order 22 could not be suspended, and that the petition failed. The Standing Orders Committee did not feel justified in taking up so strong an attitude, but referred the question to this House, and if that be the order of the Standing Orders Committee, we who are supporting the proposal cannot be blamed for seeking the decision of the House on the subject. The highest authorities in this House and in the other place have declared that this Standing Order in the past has led to mischief. I ask the House in this case to suspend its operations in order that further mischief may be avoided, and that something may be done to bring our people cheaply and rapidly to their daily work.

Photo of Mr William Burdett-Coutts Mr William Burdett-Coutts , Westminster Abbey

I do not think very much of the dilemma on the horns of which the hon. Gentleman (Major Gray) attempted to impale my hon. and learned Friend (Sir H. Nield), namely, that because my hon. and learned Friend is willing that a Standing Order should be suspended in favour of a Traffic Board, therefore he was denying that a Committee upstairs would be equally impartial. There is a very great difference between a Traffic Board, as it has been outlined and promised, and the Select Committee upstairs. A Traffic Board would take into account and survey and arrange for the whole question of locomotion, would create, so to speak, a general ground plan for locomotion through London. The Committee upstairs would argue that it had not that task and could not attempt to exercise its functions upon such a basis. Therefore, I do not place great value on the dilemma with which the hon. Gentleman opened his speech. The hon. Member for Plymout (Sir Shirley Benn), in his opening remarks, kept impressing on the House that this was not a Motion to destroy the power of veto possessed by the borough councils. That is exactly my cause of complaint. This effort is only one of many on the part of the London County Council to encroach upon the powers of the borough councils which those bodies have been granted by Act of Parliament. Over and over again the London County Council comes to this House and endeavours to steal a little more and then more and more from the borough councils. I do not think that this House ought to permit that to be done by an ad hoc or partial claim I think the London County Council ought to have the courage of its convictions, and come before this House and say that they thought that the borough councils had too much power for the good of London, and thus face the question of taking that power away from them. When that question comes before the House, I for one, looking at the admirable work which the borough councils have performed since they were constituted, and particularly the representative part that those councils have played during the past six years of great national crisis in comparison with the London County Council, shall have something to say on the general question, and which I do not propose to say on this occasion. The principle attacked in this case of the veto is, I admit, one which the borough councils would be wiling to surrender with regard to transit if there was a satisfactory settled authority of that traffic constituted, and if they certainly, as to through traffic, had ample opportunities of being heard before such a traffic board.

Several questions have been touched upon in this Debate as to which I do not propose to enlarge. Mention has been made of the inopportune nature of this proposal. That is perfectly obvious. The whole question was submitted to a Select Committee on transport last year and that Committee reported in favour of a Traffic Board. That report was confirmed by the Advisory Committee appointed by the Minister of Transport. The whole matter, therefore, of these tramways is pending the decision of the authority constituted by this House, and that is the moment when the London County Council chooses to barge in with these tramways all over the central area of London, and to take the whole matter out of the hands of the constitutional authority I named. With regard to the merits of the case, as to traffic, I would ask the House to allow me to say a few words. As an old Cockney myself who knows the life of London and who in the past drove with horses over all parts of it, I used to go in every direction and, therefore, I feel that I may claim to be competent to express an opinion about the traffic of London, changed as it is, by the introduction of new methods of locomotion. In 1904, I happened to be speaking in this House on this very question, and I expressed a preference, for reasons which I will indicate later, for motor buses over trams. Motor buses had then only practically come in and they appeared in a somewhat primitive and imperfect form. A right hon. friend of mine and a distinguished champion of the London County Council, Mr. John Burns, said on that occasion across the House: "Motor buses, why they are done for already."

Photo of Mr William Burdett-Coutts Mr William Burdett-Coutts , Westminster Abbey

It is in that spirit that the London County Council now comes to propose this obsolete method. Since that time there has been an enormous development of motor 'buses, both in their make and shape and convenience, and also in their number, and since that time also there has been the greater part of the development that has taken place in underground tube railways, and yet you would think from the proposals of the London County Council that they viewed the whole question as dependent entirely upon tramways. On that occasion I ventured to express the opinion that the real solution of this difficult problem of London locomotion would be found to be tube railways for long distances, motor- buses for short ones in the central area, and trams in the less crowded streets of the outer area. 10.0 P.M.

All this kind of traffic that has to cross the crowded streets of the central area, from one point on one side to another point on another side, ought to go by tube underground or by motorbuses with their flexible line of progression and their power of give and take, which is essential to the circulation of traffic in crowded streets. It is this rigid line of progression which makes the tramway utterly unsuitable to the central area of London, where the streets are crowded with all sorts of traffic and are often very narrow. In order to justify the introduction of tramlines into that area of London, I say the London County Council ought to make a new ground plan altogether and widen the whole of the streets in the central area. The blocks that take place at present in streets without trams are such as seriously to impede the whole business of London. Take first the blocks at crossings, where two lines of traffic cross. If you are in a motor bus you have to wait a minute, or two minutes, or three minutes, at each of these crossings. Now you add to that block a line of tramways going down one of those roads—a tram is an enormously long vehicle, which generally stops a tremendous lot of traffic behind it which cannot go round it—and you will make matters much worse. Then, again, take cases where you have two lines of tramways crossing each other, such as the case which has been mentioned, and with which I am familiar, the junction of Gray's Inn Road and Theobald's Road. I do not know if any hon. Member here is familiar with that place, but the block there sometimes takes ten minutes to relieve. If you are going to add trams to these blocks at crossings, I say you will make London traffic intolerable to people whose time is of value. Then take the blocks that are caused along the whole route of the trams. The distance between the tramline and the kerb is not in most cases sufficient for motor buses to pass on the left; they have to go round; they meet another line of traffic, and then you have a block on both lines, which is a very serious matter and which is constantly occurring all along the route of the trams. I will give this further difficulty that occurs. The lateral regulation of traffic by the police, that is to say, their turning the heavy, slow traffic on to one side or the other, so as to allow the faster traffic to pass, has been a great relief to many streets in London. Of course, that is impossible now, and will be rendered still more impossible if you lay down trams with their rigid line of progression in any more streets than at present. You will find that Police Regulations sending slow and heavy traffic on one side is not possible in any streets where there are trams at present. To increase that inconvenience would be a serious injury to London traffic.

I wish to say one word about the allegation or suggestion that is sometimes made that the opposition to this Motion to-night is in any sense a "class" matter. I do not look upon it as such. I do not view it from that point of view at all. I remember that in the days of the Bridges that allegation was often made. They said that people who drove their own horses would not want to be bothered with traffic. I do not drive horses any more and I do not drive a motor. I do not like motors. I only go in a motor for the purpose of getting anywhere, and it is not my desire to say anything on a subject of this sort which would facilitate the owner of a private motor enjoying Better travelling. Nor do I speak for those who do not want the residential quarters in which they live and the fashionable shopping streets to be invaded by the tram. I look upon this question from the broad view of the general interests of the traffic in London—London, which is not only the capital of the Empire and of the Nation, but is the entrepôt of all the business and commerce of the world to which, in the matter of locomotion, time is of the essence of the contract between all men and their affairs, and I say that, unless this House look upon this question from that broader point of view, unless they dismiss from their minds the idea that any particular section of the community ought to be considered before the rest, they will never arrive at a just and proper solution of this question. I would only point out—and it seems to me to illustrate the anachronism insisted upon by the London County Council in these trams—that more or less the same class of people travel in trams and in motor 'buses. Trams are the greatest possible obstruction to the easy and quick passage of motor 'buses. Now I ask why everything should be given to those people who go in trams, and this material injury should be done to the people who go in motor 'buses? To my mind, there is no reason at all, except that the London County Council have got a bee in their bonnet on the subject.

Photo of Mr Arthur Neal Mr Arthur Neal , Sheffield, Hillsborough

It will probably meet the general convenience of the House if at this stage I make such observations as the Minister of Transport desires to put before the House before coming to a conclusion.

Photo of Mr Arthur Neal Mr Arthur Neal , Sheffield, Hillsborough

It has not been an easy matter to determining what our advice should be. I think it will be abundantly clear to hon. Members who have followed this very interesting Debate from the beginning, that the Standing Orders Committee adopted a wise course in leaving this question to the decision of the House itself. May I say at once that, although before I sit down I shall give definite advice to the House, it is not the intention of the Government to interfere with a perfectly free vote upon this matter.

In order to follow this question from its inception it is necessary to go back to the Tramways Act of 1870, at a time when tramway undertakings were in their infancy, and when practically there were no tramways being run or measures promoted by local authorities; when there were a certain number of private adventure companies applying to Parliament for Bills. In the year 1870 an Act was passed empowering the Board of Trade to issue Provisional Orders for the establishment of tramways. It is quite true that that Act did provide for the possibility of local authorities establishing their own tramways. But the problem certainly at that time was much more a question of private companies seeking Parliamentary power for the purpose of putting tramways upon public roads. I think anyone who reads the Act carefully will come to the conclusion that the main object of that Statute was to safeguard the interests of road authorities in the matter of the upkeep of their roads, to prevent them being unduly interfered with and broken up, and to provide for their proper maintenance. With that view, in Sections (4) and (5) of that Act, there were provisions whereby the local authorities whose roads had been interfered with had a power of veto vested in them. That is to say, they could paralyse the action of the Board of Trade in granting Provisional Orders, the only difference being that where two-thirds of the local authorities through which the tramways pass consent, the Board of Trade may proceed with their inquiry and issue their Provisional Order. At that time the authorities for London were named in the Schedule of the Bill as the City of London, the Corporation, which was the local authority, and had power given to it both of making its own tramway, if that had been possible—it is practically impossible owing to the traffic position in the city—and also for the City of London, the Corporation was the authority who had the right of veto in so far as that district was concerned.

Photo of Mr Frederick Banbury Mr Frederick Banbury , City of London

May I point out that the London County Council desire to do what the hon. Gentleman had just said is impossible—take tramways into the city?

Photo of Mr Arthur Neal Mr Arthur Neal , Sheffield, Hillsborough

I will deal with that later. I have in mind the proposed tramways in this Bill which at one point come into the jurisdiction of the City. For the Greater Metropolis the Metropolitan Board of Works was named the authority. The effect of subsequent legislation is that the tramway authority for Greater London is the County Council, and the vetoing authorities are the London borough councils. That creates an anomalous position, because the giving to a public body of certain duties or certain rights which in themselves connote certain duties, and at the same time provide that some other body may have an arbitrary veto on their exercise of those duties, is to create a position which is not quite a reasonable proposition, and put both sets of authorities in the greatest difficulties. So far as the tramway authority themselves, in this case the County Council, are concerned, when they are considering how they shall exercise the powers given to them, we have to, remember that they are the authority whose duty it is to take a survey of the tramway situation of the whole metropolis. It is true they can exercise powers before they get them from Parliament and they are in the difficulty of the veto which is set up by Act of Parliament, and by the Standing Orders.

The point I was endeavouring to make is that it puts the County Council in a very peculiar position. They are the local body which has the duty placed upon it of surveying the position and making proposals, and at the same time the other local authorities are given the right of vetoing those proposals. That being the legal position, what is the history of the recommendations that have been made by the public bodies who have considered this matter? There has been already more than once the recommendation of the Royal Commission of 1905, and I do not propose to read it again. I hope I do not unfairly summarise it when I say that it was not only a definite recommendation against the continuance of the veto, but also a definite recommendation that the local authorities themselves should have a preferential right to make their own tramways within their own district, if that course were convenient and commended itself to Parliament. The Select Committee on London Traffic in 1913 reported as follows: An extreme use of the veto in this way goes beyond the purpose for which it was intended. The veto was granted to local authorities to prevent them being harassed with speculative schemes promoted by private interests, and it was not then contemplated that there would be a central municipal authority which would become the sole tramway promoters in London. The Standing Order was made to secure that the local authorities should be consulted before private tramway schemes were submitted to Parliament. Now the London County Council has entire control in the County of London, and the same is no longer necessary to safeguard public interests, but some measure is required to ensure that local opinion has duo weight given to it. I hope we shall be able to find some way of meeting both sides. The Report of the Committee published a few weeks ago—a Committee which was presided over by the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Kennedy Jones) approved of the abolition of the absolute veto, and suggested in its place the setting up of a central London authority without the power to veto, but whose business it should be to give a preliminary investigation to Bills affecting traffic, and to report to Parliament upon those lines. That has teen made abundantly clear by the speech of the hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. Burdett-Coutts). The Report says that, Borough councils would be willing to be relieved of this veto if a Central Board were set up, and they had a full opportunity of being heard by that Board. What is the position then with reference to a Central Traffic Board? The Report has only been presented a very short time. It has already been made the subject of a memorandum by the Minister of Transport to the Cabinet. It is hoped that the Cabinet may be able to come to an early conclusion upon that matter. When that conclusion is arrived at, it will be necessary that there should be Statutory Powers obtained before that Central Traffic Board can be established. It would be somewhat a sanguine thing to hope that Parliament would have time in the present Session to deal with the necessary Bill. I should be very glad if it were found possible for that to be done, but after the Bill had become an Act there still would be the setting up of the Board and its staff and there would be a substantial period in which that Board must take not a view only of the tramway situation, but must consider with great care the cogent arguments put forward to-night by many hon. Members as to the class of traffic which is desirable in the Metropolis. They would have to consider how far and in what direction it was desirable to extend the underground system, and then would arise the question whether that could be done by means of existing private companies, or whether there would have to be some public enterprise, and, in any case, where there would have to be an expenditure of public money. They would have to consider the motor bus system. They would have to take into their purview the point thrown by the hon. Member for Ealing, as to how far it was possible to adapt the existing system to any part of London, and I venture to say that, before the Board could come to a conclusion which it could recommend to Parliament for Statutory Powers, and before the necessary arrangements could be made for promoting and financing a scheme, a number of years might very well pass by.

Photo of Mr James Remnant Mr James Remnant , Holborn

Apparently the question is so difficult, according to what the hon Gentleman says, to settle, that I must ask: Why rush it now?

Photo of Mr Arthur Neal Mr Arthur Neal , Sheffield, Hillsborough

Because the problem is with us to-day, and it is a problem of the greatest importance. It is a problem which is affecting not only the country and the convenience of the inhabitants of the great Metropolis—

Photo of Mr Noel Billing Mr Noel Billing , Hertford

Are we to understand that the Government are in favour of this?

Photo of Mr James Lowther Mr James Lowther , Penrith and Cockermouth

If the hon. Member will listen to the speech he will be able to form an opinion.

Photo of Mr Arthur Neal Mr Arthur Neal , Sheffield, Hillsborough

I hope to make it abundantly clear to my hon. Friend, before I finish, exactly what the view of the Government is, but I am trying, if I may, to deal with this matter on lines of settled policy, and not partially, and to deal with the views that have been taken by both sides. If time were not pressing, one would very much welcome the opportunity of waiting for the setting up of a Central Traffic Board and the careful development of a complete scheme for London transport; but the question is pressing. As I was saying, it is not simply a matter of the convenience of the population, but it is ultimately a question of the housing of the population. The London County Council and other bodies are desirous of pressing forward their housing schemes, and an essential of housing schemes is that there shall be transport facilities for the people. It may be that some of those facilities may come from the railways, or it may be that the railways are already so congested that they can do little more than they are doing at present. It may be that tubes are the solution in some places. But the London County Council, which is the body set up by Parliament with the responsibility of looking at one aspect of this matter—the tramway aspect—does come to this House and say, on its responsibility, that it is making a proposal to solve this particular problem. That is the position, and in these circumstances, what is the duty of the Minister of Transport? [An HON. MEMBER: "To be here."] Ought the Minister of Transport to ask this House to refuse so much as a Second Beading to a Bill which is put forward with the authority of the London County Council? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] That is not the view which he takes. It is that this matter is too serious, that the problem is so urgent.

Photo of Mr Noel Billing Mr Noel Billing , Hertford

That it is not worth his while to come down to the House.

Photo of Mr James Lowther Mr James Lowther , Penrith and Cockermouth

I must ask the hon. Member for Hertford not to keep interrupting. A constant fire of interruptions makes it impossible for speakers to continue their arguments. The hon. Gentleman complains about being interrupted himself, and he should allow others to proceed without interruption.

Photo of Mr Noel Billing Mr Noel Billing , Hertford

I desire to express my regret, Mr. Speaker, at having allowed myself to interrupt the hon. Gentleman.

Photo of Mr Arthur Neal Mr Arthur Neal , Sheffield, Hillsborough

The Minister of Transport does not think he ought to advise the House to refuse so much as a Second Reading to a Bill brought forward on the authority of the statutory tramway authority for Greater London, but that he ought to endeavour, if he can, in some way to meet the views of the Metropolitan Boroughs as expressed by hon. Members to-night. Is there any way in which that can be done? This Bill deals with some sixteen major tramway schemes and one or two subsidiary tramway schemes and one or two subsidiary tramway schemes. The Minister of Transport would propose, if the Standing Order were suspended and the House later gave a Second Reading to this Bill, to make a special Report to the Select Committee which will be set up to deal with the matter. He would propose to deal specially in that Report with any of the matters which were put before him by the boroughs concerned, and it would be open to the Committee which was charged with the inquiry into the Bill to ask for the advice and assistance of the Ministry of Transport upon any part of that Bill. If we were here discussing the merits of some of these schemes, they are not schemes which commend themselves, as at present advised, to the Ministry of Transport. May I deal with the case where it is proposed that a tramway should run into the boundaries of the City and, I think, across Ludgate Circus? That is not a case which would commend itself to the judgment of the Minister, and he would not be likely to advise favourably to it. There are other schemes in this long list of tramway undertakings which the Minister of Transport, as at present advised, would not see his way to submit favourably to the consideration of a Committee. But there are some which seem to him to have within them possibilities of helping to a solution of this difficult and urgent problem. If the House to-night declines to give sanction to the raising of the Standing Orders all the tramway powers of this Bill disappear, the good with the bad. It would be very much better if to-day we had an authority, either the one suggested by the hon. Member (Mr. Kennedy Jones) or some other form of authority which should take a preliminary view of the matter and so save expense, but there is so much authority, and I therefore invite the House not wholly to reject the Bill, but to suspend the Standing Orders for the purpose. Against that it may be said it involves a substantial expenditure of public money. That is not without its weight. One appreciates that it is a misfortune that there should be so large an expenditure of public money upon dealing with schemes of this description, if it could be avoided, but really the traffic of London presents a problem of such vast importance that the consideration of the amount which may be expended in promoting and passing this Bill is not sufficient, in the judgment of the Minister, to justify him in asking the House to refuse consideration.

Photo of Mr Frederick Banbury Mr Frederick Banbury , City of London

The hon. Gentleman has told us what happened in 1872, and he said at that time, tramways being in their infancy and there being no county or borough council in existence, local authorities, who were the road authorities, were given certain powers of veto. In 1888, when the London County Council and the borough councils were constituted, no alteration was made in the Standing Order, but these county and borough councils were left in exactly the same position as they were before, and, therefore, it is evident that when the London County Council was constituted it was intended that the borough councils should preserve that right which had been granted to road authorities in 1872. The hon. Member (Mr. Gilbert) suggested that every road authority in the country towns had this authority, but London is not a country town, but a conglomeration of different towns with different interests and different authorities. You cannot compare London with Bristol or any other country town. It is a different thing altogether. After all, the Corporation of London is an older authority than the London County Council, and the City of London, whose streets are going to be, or may be, infringed if this Standing Order be suspended, are unanimously opposed to its suspension.

The hon. Gentleman says that the London County Council are such a great authority that you cannot with safety oppose any recommendations which they may make. Are the London County Council such a great authority on traffic matters? Those of us who have been for some time in this House remember that the London County Council said that the one thing to prevent congestion in the streets of London was to establish a service on the river to be continued all the year round. When some of us ventured to say that the steamboats established by private people had failed, we were told that they were going to do something quite different. They were going to have nice warm steamers during the winter. I opposed that proposal on the ground that it was only a waste of money. Who was right? After the London County Council had wasted £300,000 or £500,000 of the ratepayers' money on their precious fad, they had to abandon it. The London County Council started tramways at a time when I admit they were a mode of locomotion which apparently was going to be successful, but matters have changed, and now we have motor omnibuses which are far superior to tramways in every way. If you want to cause congestion in a street, whether broad or narrow, put down two lines of tramways. Everyone who has driven himself knows what happens. On the near side you find a cart delivering goods. A tram pulls up in front of you. You cannot go to the near side, and you cannot go to the off side, because there is another tram coming. There is plenty of room on the off side, but the tram cannot move out of the way, and the whole street is blocked. That is a fact which nobody can get over.

The conclusion we draw, and I venture to say the right conclusion, is that municipal enterprise has failed in a direction in which it will always fail. They have taken up a certain thing, and probably at the time they were right in taking it up, but it has been improved upon, and it ought to be scrapped. If it had been in the hands of private people, it would have been scrapped. The hon. Member would have come down and said: "Are we to protect the interests of shareholders who have invested their money in something which is now obsolete. The interests of the public must be preserved, and we must have motor omnibuses, which are far better than tramways." But because it is the London County Council who have made a mistake and have invested their money in a bad enterprise, or one that has become obsolete, and because they have foolishly tried to bolster up a decaying enterprise by spending not their own money but the ratepayers' money, thus throwing good money after bad, we are asked to suspend the Standing Orders. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport will make recommendations to the Committee. I believe a Standing Order has been quoted. The Standing Order says that the Minister may make a recommendation to the Committee, that the Committee may consider it and, having considered it, the Committee shall make a report to the House stating what they have done. The Committee have always to report to the House. When a private Bill has had a Second Reading in this House it goes upstairs, and when the Committee have made up their mind the Bill comes to this House on report, and the only difference is that there is a special report saying what the Committee has done. What earthly protection will that be? Money will be wasted. It is not a certainty that the Committee will carry out the recommendations of the Minister of Transport. There is no obligation on them to do so. Committees upstairs attach great importance to any recommendation made to them by a Minister, but they are not bound to carry it out. After hearing the weight of evidence they may come to the conclusion that the Minister is wrong. With all due deference to the Ministry of Transport, I am not sure that sometimes they do not make mistakes, and if by any misfortune the Ministry of Transport make a mistake in giving the wrong recommendation to the Committee and the Committee carry it out, where are we? There has been reference to congested traffic. It seems to me that the suspension of this Standing Order will further congest the traffic. If there is any scheme which is necessary in connection with the building of houses, the proper thing for the London County Council to do is to bring forward a proposal dealing with that particular object. If they have so many houses in a particular district and they want to bring people to London, let them see whether they can get by tube, or motor omnibus. There is no necessity to put a tramway route across London to do that. In view of the fact that the vast majority of these local authorities, who were constituted by Parliament long after the Standing Order of 1872, are opposed to this suspension, I hope the House will insist upon the Standing Orders being maintained.

Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South

The statement of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport that it is no longer reasonable for the borough councils of London to retain the power of veto which has been given them by Parliament has been dealt with by my right hon. Friend (Sir F. Banbury). There is one further reason which entitles these borough councils to have had this veto placed in their hands. The London County Council, when constituted as the tramway authority by Act of Parliament, was not constituted as the traffic authority of London for the reason that they had an interest as an undertaker of tramways. The borough councils were given the road veto because they had no interests as undertakers, and are only concerned with the interests of the inhabitants who dwell within their borders. Therefore it was the judicial and proper thing to give people who had no interest as undertakers the power of veto. It is not right to make people the traffic authority and invest them with the power of saying what means of traffic there shall be undertaken in any area if they have a direct monetary interest in the success of one particular form of traffic.

The statement that only 14 of the 29 boroughs of London have petitioned against this Bill is apt to mislead the House. Only 17 borough councils are affected by this Bill and would have any right to petition against it, and of these 17 the enormous majority of 14 have petitioned against it. I trust, therefore, that the House will not be prepared to suspend its Standing Orders in order to allow this very ambitious scheme of the London County Council to proceed. I think that Standing Order 22 was set up by this House for good reason, and should not be suspended unless the House is fully convinced that the public interest is likely to be prejudiced by not doing so. It is not only Kensington and Westminster and the City—rich boroughs—which are oppos ing this Bill, but, for example, Southwark, the borough which my hon. Friend in this case inadequately represents is petitioning against the Bill. So also are East Ham, West Ham, Enfield, Leyton. There are no fewer than 80 petitions against this Bill.

We are sometimes told that boroughs like Kensington and Westminster, for their own selfish ends, to protect their aristocratic residents, or high-class shop-keepers, will not permit the noise and' inconvenience of having tramways passing through their confines, and are thereby hindering the suburbs from getting into and out of the centre of London. But it is not only these boroughs which I have indicated which have petitioned against the Bill, but places like Twickenham, Richmond, the Maidens, Acton, Teddington, Croydon, Kingston, Chiswick, Ealing, Hanwell, Harrow, Wimbledon, Tottenham, Penge, Beckenham, and many other places, the outlying parts, are all petitioning against this Bill. In addition, we have the great county councils of the outlying counties, Hertfordshire, Surrey, Essex, Kent and Middlesex petitioning against the Bill. If any ground has been disclosed to show that the Standing Orders are against the interests of all these varieties of residents in these great areas I am at a loss to understand what it is. Imagine tramways in Farringdon Street, in Edgware Road, in Charing Cross Road, in Shaftesbury Avenue and in Notting Hill Gate. I go through Notting Hill Gate several times a day, and often have very nearly been killed owing to the congestion of traffic. It has been said that if this Order is not suspended housing schemes in the outer parts of London will be held up. What nonsense that is! All these outside authorities have housing schemes. Would they petition against the Bill if they thought such a petition would interfere with their schemes? The Bill would block the whole traffic of London getting out to the suburbs except those who can go by tubes. It would be a case of confusion worse confounded.

I associate myself entirely with the statement that the tram is an obsolete vehicle. It is all very well in country districts, but in towns, where large numbers of people have to get rapidly to and fro, it is an obstruction which should no longer be tolerated. The Highways. Committee of the London County Council estimates that in the coming year, 1920–21, the tramways will involve London in a loss of no less than £450,000. Are you going to continue and add to the loss? You have seen in to-day's papers that the London County Council has appealed to the people of London for a loan of £7,000,000 for housing. They were able to get only £1,000,000. Yet you are now asked to allow the London County Council to apply for a further loan of £5,000,000 for tramways. Is it not very much better to concentrate on getting money for houses? Kensington and other places are prevented from proceeding with their housing schemes because they cannot get the money. The London County Council, as has been said, has an octopus hand. It is always trying to seize hold of powers. As originally proposed, the Bill authorised local authorities to obtain money for housing in London, but the London County Council interfered and said they must be the authority for raising money. They cannot get the money and the boroughs are being held up with their housing schemes. You make that far worse if you authorise the London County Council to get this absurd extension of tramways and to borrow another £5,000,000 of money for the purpose. We cannot afford it.

Photo of Mr Charles Bowerman Mr Charles Bowerman , Deptford

When the citizens of London to-morrow read the Report of this Debate, they will readily appreciate the fact that the opposition in the main comes from those who favour private enterprise as against municipal enterprise, and that some of the opponents of the suspension of the Standing Order are the same hon. Members who opposed the bringing of the tramcars over the bridges a few years ago. No measure has given more delight, shall I say, to thousands and thousands of our working people than the fact that that opposition was eventually broken down and that they were enabled to travel across the bridges in comfort. I am personally delighted that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport is in favour of the suspension of this Order. When Members of the House say that the tramway system is derelict they are saying that which they cannot substantiate. They are attacking a form of progression in London which is more popular year after year; certainly so far as the working people are concerned. The working people of London want to see their municipal tramway system extended. I am very sorry to find opposition coming from those—I must not say they are interested in private enterprise, but on any and every occasion the same hon. Members rise in order to defend private enterprise as against public enterprise. [HON. MEMBERS: No, No!] I do hope that the House will follow the advice given to them by the Parliamentary Secretary and vote for the suspension of this Order.

Photo of Mr Noel Billing Mr Noel Billing , Hertford

I think some hon. Members misunderstand the position of the Parliamentary Secretary, which is to support the policy of the tramways in London. That is supported by the policy of the Budget which is to tax motor 'buses practically out of existence. I do not see any increase in the burdens put on the tramways and we can, I think, assume that the tramway is the pet child of the present Ministry. Anyone who has used the London streets, as I have for the last fifteen years as a driver myself, must know the respective value of the two means of locomotion. That has been dealt with at great length. The greater portion of the speech made by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport was to elaborate the intense importance of this matter and in that he was right. Without desiring to be offensive, may I say that that was the only thing he said in his speech which had the full support of the House?

Photo of Mr Frederick Banbury Mr Frederick Banbury , City of London

rose in his place and claimed to move "That the Question be now put," but MR. SPEAKER withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.

Photo of Mr Noel Billing Mr Noel Billing , Hertford

If that is the case why is not the Minister of Transport here? Surely if the matter is so important it was his business to be here.

Photo of Sir Arthur Benn Sir Arthur Benn , Plymouth Drake

rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."

Question, "That the Question be now put," put, and agreed to.

Question put accordingly, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question"

The House divided: Ayes, 69; Noes, 129.

Division No. 90.]AYES.[11.2 p.m.
Bell, James (Lancaster, Ormskirk)Hayday, ArthurSanders, Colonel Sir Robert A.
Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)Hirst, G. H.Sexton, James
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.Hope, J. D. (Berwick & Haddington)Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Brace, Rt. Hon. WilliamHurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.Simm, M. T.
Bromfield, WilliamIrving, DanSitch, Charles H.
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)
Cape, ThomasKenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. G. F.
Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)Kiley, James D.Stanton, Charles B.
Davies, A. (Lancaster, Clithnroe)Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)Sturrock, J. Leng
Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)Sutherland, Sir William
Dawes, James ArthurMaclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)Swan, J. E.
Edge, Captain WilliamMacVeagh, JeremiahSykes, Sir Charles (Huddersfield)
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)Mitchell, William LaneTalbot, Rt. Hon. Lord E. (Chich'st'r)
Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M.Moreing, Captain Algernon H.Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir 0. (Anglesey)
Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.Morgan, Major D. WattsThorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)
Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness and Ross)Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)
Galbraith, SamuelMurray, John (Leeds, West)Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)
Glanville, Harold JamesMyers, ThomasWilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)
Gray, Major Ernest (Accrington)Nail, Major JosephYeo, Sir Alfred William
Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)Neal, ArthurYoung, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Greenwood, William (Stockport)Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)O'Grady, Captain JamesTELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Grundy, T. W.Parker, JamesSir Shirley Benn and Mr. Gilbert.
Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)
Hancock, John GeorgeRoyce, William Stapleton
NOES.
Agg-Gardner, Sir James TynteForeman, HenryPennefather, De Fonblanque
Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel MartinForestier-Walker, L.Pollock, Sir Ernest M.
Balfour, George (Hampstead)Forrest, WalterPownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton
Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.Fraser, Major Sir KeithPretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.
Barnett, Major R. W.Gwynne, Rupert S.Pulley, Charles Thornton
Barnston, Major HarryHacking, Captain Douglas H.Rankin, Captain James S.
Beauchamp, Sir EdwardHall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N.
Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)Hanson, Sir Charles AugustinReid. D. D.
Bennett, Thomas JewellHarris, Sir Henry PercyRemer, J. R.
Billing, Noel Pemberton-Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)Renwick, George
Bird, Sir A. (Wolverhampton, West)Hickman, Brig.-Gen. Thomas E.Richardson, Alexander (Gravesend)
Blair, Major ReginaldHoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-Holbrook, Sir Arthur RichardRobinson, Sir T. (Lanes., Stretford)
Bottomley, Horatio W.Hood, JosephRogers, Sir Hallewell
Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)Rutherford, Colonel Sir J. (Darwen)
Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.Hotchkin, Captain Stafford VereSamuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Bruton, Sir JamesHunter-Weston, Lieut.-Gen. Sir A. G.Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William JamesHurd, Percy A.Scott, Sir Samuel (St. Marylebone)
Burdett-Coutts, WilliamJameson, J. GordonSteel Major S. Strang
Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel A. H.
Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)Jesson, C.Stewart, Gershom
Campbell, J. D. G.Jodrell, Neville PaulSugden, W. H.
Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.Johnson, L. S.Surtees, Brigadier-General H. C.
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Birm., Aston)Joynson-Hicks Sir WilliamTalbot, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)
Coates, Major Sir Edward F.Kino Commander Henry DouglasTerrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)
Coats, Sir Stuart Cockerill,Lloyd, George ButlerThorpe, Captain John Henry
Brigadier-General G. K.Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)Vickers, Douglas
Colvin, Brig.-GeneralLynn, R. J.Waddington, R.
Cope, Major Wm.Macmaster, DonaldWard, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)
Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc.)Macquistcn, F. A.Warren, Lieut.-Col. Sir Alfred H.
Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)Malone, Lieut.-Col. C. L. (Leyton, E.)Wheler, Major Granville C. H.
Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir HenryMalone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)White, Lieut.-Col. G. D. (Southport)
Curzon, Commander ViscountMarriott, John Arthur RansomeWigan, Brig.-Gen. John Tyson
Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)Molson, Major John ElsdaleWild, Sir Ernest Edward
Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)
Doyle, N. GrattanMorrison-Bell, Major A. C.Wills, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Gilbert
Edgar, Clifford B.Newbould, Alfred ErnestWilson, Colonel Leslie O. (Reading)
Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)Nicholi, Commander Sir EdwardWorsfold, Dr. T. Cato
Entwistle, Major C. F.Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.Younger, Sir George
Falcon, Captain MichaelPalmer, Charles Frederick (Wrekin)
Fell, Sir ArthurPease, Rt. Hon. Herbert PikeTELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Fildes, HenryPeel, Col. Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)Sir H. Neild and Sir J. Remnant.

Question proposed, "That those words be there added."

It being after Eleven of the Clock, and objection being taken to further Proceeding, the Debate stood adjourned.