HC Deb 30 May 1837 vol 38 cc1101-3
Captain Alsager

said, that the Committee to whom the several Railway Bills between London and Brighton had been referred, had, in obedience to the orders of the House, made a special Report upon the engineering merits of those lines, in favour of the direct line (Sir J. Ronnie's). He moved, that the Report be adopted; that this Bill be sent back to the Committee; that the Committee be directed to have the landholders heard, and the clauses settled; and that the Committee do meet on Thursday next.

Lord George Lennox

observed, that on the 9th of this month, an instruction was given by the House to the London and Brighton Railway Committee to this effect: —that the Committee was to examine the engineering merits of the competing lines, to enable the House to determine which to send back to the Committee. Now, he maintained that the Committee had not sent to the House the information which was required by the instruction. He objected to the constitution of the Committee which had decided in favour of Sir John Rennie's line. The investigation had lasted twenty-seven days, and the average attendance of Members each day was twenty, but on the twenty-eighth day they were honoured with the attendance of forty-five Members, six of whom voted for Sir John Rennie's line, having been there only one day, and without having heard one word of the engineering evidence. He should move, as an amendment upon the motion of the hon. Member for East Surrey, that an humble address be presented to his Majesty, praying that he would be graciously pleased to furnish some military engineer to survey the several lines of Brighton Railway now under the consideration of the House, together with the several plans and sections thereof, and to report thereon.

Mr. Warburton

wished to direct the attention of the House to some facts which had come out in evidence relative to the subscription-list for Rennie's line. It certainly appeared, that the framing of the subscription-list of last Session was conducted in the most unexceptionable manner; but that line having been rejected, the persons into whose hands the shares had come by sale and purchase, were the persons whose names appeared on the list for the present Bill.

Mr. Curteis

considered, that the proposition of the noble Lord would be most unfair to the majority of the Committee, and it would be setting a monstrous and most unjust precedent.

Mr. W. Crawford

asserted, that the feeling against Rennie's line was all but universal, from Wandsworth-common to Horsham, and that the consent of every individual land-owner on the line who was in favour of it, had been purchased at a most enormous cost.

Mr. P. Thomson

expressed his intention of supporting, after a little amendment which he would suggest, the proposition of the noble Lord. He thought, that the amendment should be altered so as to direct the Committee to apply for a military engineer, who should give in a report on the three different lines; and that then the Committee should be ordered to report on the engineering evidence altogether.

Mr. Hume

complained of the conduct of Government in throwing its weight into the scale of one of these parties. The Government had formerly refused to interfere between the parties, and he did not know what influence had been used to cause the right hon. Gentleman to interfere now.

Mr. P. Thomson

said, that it was in consequence of his having read the evidence taken by the Committee—evidence which he suspected that the hon. Member for Middlesex had not yet read—that he had ventured to offer his opinion to the House and to make the suggestion which he had submitted to its consideration.

Mr. Wakley

agreed with his hon. Friend the Member for Middlesex, that the Government ought not to interfere in private contests of this kind. On other private Bills, the Members of Government trotted off to the library, when a division was ex- pected, as fast as their legs could carry them; on the present occasion, for reasons best known to themselves, they were stationary in their places, and their recommendation was to supersede every thing else.

The House divided on the original motion:—Ayes 157; Noes 164: Majority 7.

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