HC Deb 05 March 1813 vol 24 cc1128-31
Mr. Wood

moved the second reading of a Bill for amending a clause in the Brecknock and Abergavenny Canal Act He stated, that in 1793, an Act passed, authorising the excavation of a Canal, from the town of Brecknock, to Pontypool, in Monmouthshire. By that Act, persons possessed of coal or lime pits, within eight miles of the Canal, were permitted to form rail ways, in any direction, an either side of it, without the consent of the proprietors of those lands over which they might pass. Certain individuals were now anxious that this clause might be amended, and the powers granted by it, altered. Although several land owners petitioned against the clause, as it now stood, yet it was but just to observe, that many others had also petitioned for its continuance; and, indeed, the general impression of the county of Brecknock, which he had the honour to represent, seemed to be in favour of it, as it now stood; and in Radnorshire and Herefordshire, a similar feeling seemed to exist. However unpopular the Bill was, he thought it his duty to bring it forward, that its merits might be properly discussed, which alone could be done in the committee. He did not pledge himself either to support or oppose the Bill, but he thought it should go to the committee, where it could be properly considered. The Canal proprietors said, if the clause were suffered to remain, it would be injurious to their interests and the interests of the public. On the other hand, the landowners denied the allegation, and contended, that the greater the number of rail roads the more traffic would be carried on through the medium of the Canal. It was, therefore, a matter of calculation, and more particularly called for a committee. Each of the parties accused the other of wishing to preserve a monopoly. For, his own part, he declared, if the Bill went to a committee, and either party made out a case of monopoly against the other, he should conceive it his duty to vote for that party who made good the accusation.

Sir C. Morgan

opposed the altering a clause in an act which had been passed twelve years ago, and which was not objected to till very recently. He should, therefore, move as an amendment, "That the Bill be read this day six months."

Lord Robert Seymour

supported the motion. If the Bill were not sent to a committee, he did not know how he and other hon. members would be able to decide on the merits of a measure, on which such contradictory allegations had been made. If the Bill went to a committee, perhaps the clause might be so altered, as to meet the wishes of all parties.

Mr. Protheroe

opposed the Bill. He observed, that the value of estates in the neighbourhood of the Canal, chiefly depended on the continuance of the clause now about to be interfered with.

Mr. Harvey

was of opinion that the clause ought to be amended. As it at present stood, a rail-way might be carried through any gentleman's garden, in spite of his representations against such a proceeding. The House, he hoped, would not consider this a proper liberty to be invested in any persons, without some proper controul.

Mr. Lewis

contended, that no parliamentary grounds had been shewn for bringing in this Bill, and, therefore, it must be opposed on its principle. It was said that this Bill was necessary for the protection of the land-owners in the immediate vicinity of the Canal; but the fact was, they were not the persons who introduced this measure. On the contrary, he had presented a Petition from 100 land-owners, whose estates were likely to be affected by the clause. If therefore, the maxim, 'volenti non fit injuria,' was a just one, the Bill ought not to be permitted to proceed farther. The persons supposed to be injured did not complain; but those, who might be considered the oppressor's, were the persons who appeared to be dissatisfied; for the Canal Company, and not the land owners, were the supporters of the Bill.

Mr. J. P. Grant

stated, that a Petition from 500 land-owners had been presented in favour of the Bill, and another from 100 land-owners, against it. Where there were such strong allegations on both sides, he thought the Bill ought to go to a committee.

Mr. T. Foley

expatiated, at some length, on the benefits which would be derived from the act, as it at present stood: 45,000l. had been subscribed for making the canal from Brecknock; and those by whom this large sum had been laid down, had no idea of making an advantageous percentage on it, but were influenced solely with the desire of benefiting the county, by bringing lime and coal articles which were much wanted) into it, at a cheap rate. By the provisions of the act, they would be enabled to supply the town of Brecknock with coal and lime, from pits within eight miles of it; instead of going, as they must otherwise do, to the distance of to miles; the consequence must be, that coal, instead of 12s. would be sold at 15s. per ton; and lime, at 14s. instead of 10s. per waggon load. The persons who wished the alteration to be made, called on parliament to strike a clause out of an act they had themselves procured, and desired gentlemen not to open the pits of lime and coal on their own estates. They had, in the first instance, availed themselves of the clause, as far as it could be serviceable to them in their monopoly, and now they would fain interpose to prevent others from receiving any benefit from it. He could very easily explain how so many landowners were induced to sign petitions in favour of the Bill. The persons who were interested under this eight mile clause, were those who had property on that side of the Canal, where the lime and coal-pits were. They wished the clause to remain as it was; but those land-owners who petitioned for its alteration, possessed property on the opposite side, where there were no pits, and consequently, they were not at all affected by the measure.

The House then divided, when there appeared—for the original motion, "That the Bill be now read a second time, 93; for the Amendment, "That it be read this day six months" 160; majority against the Bill 67.