HC Deb 12 March 1830 vol 23 cc228-9

Mr. Charles Dundas moved the second reading of the Bill.

Mr. Hart Davis

opposed the Motion, on the ground that it had been brought into Parliament by the Kennet and Avon Canal Company, in direct contravention of an agreement which that Company had entered into with the Bristol and Gloucestershire Rail-Road proprietors. He trusted that the House of Commons would not sanction such a violation of a private agreement, that ought to have been binding on both parties. The hon. Member concluded by moving that the Bill be read a second time that day six months.

Mr. Dundas

supported the Bill, on the ground that the undertaking would be beneficial to the public, and he denied that any such engagement had been entered into as the hon. Member supposed.

Mr. Bright

opposed the Bill on the same ground as Mr. H. Davis. He said that it was a breach of a solemn engagement.

Mr. Protheroe

supported the Amendment of his hon. friend, the Member for Bristol. The question was one which affected the private business of the House, and the private rights of individuals. If the Bill were to pass, it would give the Avon and Gloucester Rail-Road Company the monopoly of the Coal markets of Bristol, which, instead of being a benefit to the town, would be an injury to all its inhabitants.

Mr. R. Gordon

supported the Bill. The violation of the engagement, he said, which was made the objection to it, was nothing more than a misunderstanding between parties who had different interests. The object contemplated by the Bill was, to supply Bristol with cheap Coals, which, being a public benefit, he should vote for the Bill.

Sir Thomas Lethbridge

denied that the dispute was a mere squabble between Rail-Road Companies. It was, on the contrary, the breach of a most solemn engagement, and thinking that it was his duty, as a Member of that House, to en- force the observance of such an engagement, he should certainly vote against the Bill. He would do so, however, without any feeling of hostility towards the hon. Member who supported it (Mr. C. Dundas) and with whom he had generally great pleasure in co-operating.

Sir William Guise

said, he had heard enough to be convinced that the two parties had entered into an engagement up stairs, of which the Bill was a violation. To that he thought the House ought not to give its sanction.

Mr. Estcourt

said, that he would be the last man in that House to give his sanction to a violation of a solemn engagement; but from the conversation he had had with the parties, he did not think that the Bill was any such violation. There were statements and counter-statements which a committee might examine, and to examine such conflicting statements was the very business of a committee. It was unheard of to oppose the second reading of a bill on such grounds. He would say, let the parties go before a committee, which would ascertain the justice or injustice of the opposition. The House heard a great deal, almost every day, against monopolies, and as far as he saw, the Bill was not intended to give one company, as was said, a monopoly of the Bristol market for Coals, but to throw open that market, which was now monopolized, to competition. The imputation against the Bill was, that it would enable one Company to under-sell another. He should certainly vote against the Amendment.

Mr. Monck

thought, that the engagements between individuals ought not to bind that House. He should vote for the Motion, because a committee was the only place to settle rival claims.

The House then divided—For the second reading 37: Against it 44:—Majority 7.

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