HC Deb 06 April 1826 vol 15 cc89-94
General Gascoyne

rose for the purpose of moving the third reading of this bill. He observed, that though he had been a member of that House for many years, he had rarely found it necessary to make any observation on a local measure of this nature; but, as he saw an unusual muster of those who objected to the bill, he felt it to be his duty to offer a few remarks in support of it. His constituents were decidedly in favour of the measure, as was evident from the number of petitions which had been presented, showing the benefit that would be derived from it. It was true, that last session a similar measure had been defeated, but even then the justice of its principle had been admitted and, since that time, those who most strenuously objected to the formation of the road, had given up their opposition. It could not be denied, that the trade of Liverpool and Manchester had increased very much of late years; and therefore this new communication between the two places had become necessary. It was said, that individuals, who had property on the intended line of road, would be injured. This, however, was an argument that would militate against every species of improvement. The population on the thirty-one miles which intervened between Liverpool and Manchester was nearer in amount to 1,000,000, than 800,000 persons; and, therefore, it was impossible that some inconvenience must not be suffered. But, assuredly, inconvenience ought not to prevent a great public improvement. This was a measure that did not originate in the spirit of speculation. Local circumstances, and the clear necessity of having an additional accommodation for the transit of goods between the two towns, had given rise to it. The plan would be extremely beneficial to Ireland; for he considered the adoption of every project which rendered the communication between the two counties more rapid and easy as a point gained for Ireland.

Mr. William Peel

seconded the motion. From the evidence given before the committee, with whose recommenda- tion the bill came before the House, it was, he said, made manifest that there was an absolute necessity for a more rapid and cheaper communication between Liverpool and Manchester than prevailed at present; and it was also made clear, to the satisfaction of the committee, that that communication would be best established by the proposed rail-road. The necessity of that rapid and cheap communication was apparent from the increase which had taken place in the trade of Liverpool. The trade of that port generally had been calculated to have doubled every twenty years since 1760, and the trade in cotton to have doubled every ten years. There might be some landed proprietors who might feel inconvenience from this rail-road; they were, however, by far the smaller number; the majority were either neuter, or satisfied that their property would be served by the projected rail-road. It was intended to make liberal compensation to all those whose property might sustain any injury. The principal opposition to the bill arose from the proprietors of canal shares; but, much as individuals interests ought to be respected, they ought not to prevent a great public improvement.

Mr. Stanley

requested the House to bear in mind, that the bill which now came recommended by the committee, was last year rejected by the House. He would undertake to show, that the advantages of cheapness and rapidity which were expected from this bill, would by no means result from it. He would not object to it, if any case of public necessity, or great public improvement required it; and least of all would he object to it if it were proved that it would be serviceable to the trade of Ireland. No bill had ever come before the House with higher pretensions than the present. It was first proposed, that the movement on this railroad should be as rapid as twelve miles an hour; this was then altered to ten, and thus the thirty miles was to be gone over in three hours. But, what was now proposed? Why, the very reverse of this; and, instead of moving at the rate of ten miles an hour, it was intended to move at the rate of three miles an hour, which was the performance of thirty miles in ten hours, instead of thirty miles in three. The conveyance by the canals was twelve hours. There were some who stated it at a higher rate; but the average conveyance was twelve hours, making allowance for stoppages; whereas, in the estimate of the promoters of this bill, it was ten hours without any such allowance. Thus, then, it would appear, that there was very little difference as regarded the speed of conveyance, on the shewing of the projectors themselves. Another point in which the bill had varied from its original projection was, that the labours of that useful animal, the horse, were to be dispensed with, and the whole was to be done by steam: whereas, it now appeared that nearly the whole work was to be done by horse-labour. On the Darlington rail-road, where the experiment had been tried, a fourth or fifth of the whole time that they were on the road was consumed in stoppages; and he begged again to call to the attention of the House, that no allowance was made for this in the provisions of the present bill. He would now proceed to show the House that goods would not be conveyed more cheaply. This would be seen from a comparison of the charges of freight and tonnage made by canal conveyance, and those proposed to be made for conveyance of goods by the rail-road. The average rate of freight by the former was 10s. 5d. per ton, and that by the rail-road 9s. 6d; but, in the former charge was included the expense of warehousing, cartage, &c, which might be stated to be at 1s. 5d. This was not included in the latter, and thus the rate of freight of the canal was 9s. per ton; that of the rail-road 9s. 6d. He next came to the charge of tonnage. The tonnage charged by the canal was 3s. 4d. on all goods, with the exception of coal, on which the tonnage was 1s. 6d.; and manure was carried free. Now, what were the charges proposed for conveyance by the rail-road? On cotton goods 7s. 9d. instead of 3s. 4d.; on timber and grain 6s. 5d. instead of 3s. 4d.; on stone and brick 5s. 2d. instead of 3s. 4d.; on coal at 3s. 10d. instead of 1s. 6d.; and tonnage was to be charged for manure and other matter for agricultural produce, which by canal conveyance was free. He knew it had been stated before the committee, by a coal-broker of Liverpool, that, in consequence of the insufficiency of the communication by the canal, he had been unable to perform a contract into which he had entered for 1,000 ton of coal. This individual had shown clearly enough, that he had not performed his contract, but it was no less clearly shown, that the fault did not rest with the canal. The House, he contended, were bound to interfere and prevent this mad and extravagant speculation from being carried into effect. Many had already suffered by it. When it was first projected, the shares were at 40 per cent premium; but, since the publication of the evidence, they had fallen to 1 per cent discount. The opinion expressed by two engineers as to the expense which would be incurred in carrying this project into effect was very different. Mr. Rennie, the son of a very distinguished individual, had stated, that the hill near Liverpool, the elevation of which was 1 in 49, would require 1–15th, additional horsepower; but Mr. Farmer said, that, instead of 1–15th, the additional horsepower required would be as 57 to 10. The sum which would be required to purchase the land, and to carry the measure completely into effect, would be 435,000l. without making any charge for carrying the bill through parliament; which was a sum greatly beyond Mr. Rennie's estimate. In order to pay, even moderately, it would be necessary that 313,000 tons of goods should be conveyed by the rail-road in the course of the year, or 857 tons a-day; 430 tons must be moving simultaneously in one direction, and 430 in another, or else the shareholders would not receive 1s. interest for their 435,000l. The hon. gentleman contended, from a reference to the goods carried by the canal, that it was impossible such a quantity as he had mentioned would ever be conveyed by the rail-road. Gentlemen might say, "Oh, let us have the rail-road by all means, and the canal also. Let each take its chance for success." In answer to this, he would say, that if, should the experiment fail, they could undo all the mischief which must be perpetrated in making the trial, he would not object to it But if they could not undo that mischief, then it was the duty of parliament to proceed very cautiously. They ought to take care, before the scheme was entered into, that the public should be benefitted by it in a much greater proportion than individuals would be injured by it. The hon. gentleman concluded by moving as an amendment, "That the bill be read a third time that day six months."

Sir Isaac Coffin

seconded the amendment. There had, he said, been a great deal of manœuvering about this bill. It was thrown out last session, and taken up during the present, to meet the views of some noble personages. But he would not consent to see widows' premises invaded, or the premises of any humble person invaded, to promote the views and interests of certain high persons. There was no necessity for this bill. He had never heard of a ship being delayed a day in the port of Liverpool, on account of want of sufficiently rapid conveyance from Manchester. He had known Liverpool for forty-four years, and had never heard of such an occurrence. He would ask, how any person would like to have a rail-road formed under his parlour window? The present was one of the most flagrant impositions ever known.

Mr. Huskisson

said, he did not mean to follow the hon. member who had spoken last but one, into all the details to which he had adverted. The course which the hon. member had pursued was rather unusual. He might have urged all his objections in the committee (which he believed the hon. member had not attended) instead of coming down and discussing all the bearings of the bill on the third reading. His gallant friend had told them, that this measure went to invade private property. But this must always be the case whenever an improvement was contemplated, whether it was the formation of a highway or the excavation of a canal. His gallant friend had stated, that he had known Liverpool for forty-four-years. Now, he would ask his gallant friend whether, during that long period, the towns of Liverpool and Manchester had remained stationary? If they had, as was the fact, increased in size and importance, that circumstance formed a prima facie case in favour of this measure. The argument that this rail-road would charge more to the public than was charged by the canal, was one which he could not understand. If it did charge more, the only effect would be, that the public would not go upon it. But the only ground upon which he supported this rail-road was, that it would be likely to charge a great deal less than was charged by the canal. It was an especial condition that the profits upon the undertaking should be limited always to ten per cent. Would the canals limit their profit to this extent—taking as they were now doing, more than 100? His main reason for assisting this project of the rail-road was to break up the overgrown monopoly which was now enjoyed by the canals.

Mr. Philips

said, that the interests of the public were of paramount importance to those of the canals; but he was persuaded that the rail-roads would be of no general advantage commensurate with the injury they would inflict upon private property. He should therefore oppose the bill.

Sir J. Newport

was in favour of the measure, which he thought would promote the interests both of Liverpool and Ireland.

Captain Bradshaw

said, that this railroad would become a monopoly in the hands of the proprietors.

The House then divided: for the third reading 88; against it 41; majority 47. The bill was then read a third time and passed.