HC Deb 27 March 1839 vol 46 cc1220-2
Lord G. Somerset

presented a petition from a great number of ware house men and others connected with the conveyance of goods from London to Birmingham and Manchester and other places. One of the petitioners had carried on the trade of carrier for twenty-six years, and another for forty years. The petition stated, that soon after the opening of the London and Birmingham Railway, applications had been made by several of the petitioners to the company, for the purpose of having their goods conveyed by the railway, but the answer which they received was, that the company had no means upon their line of conveying the goods. The petition went on to state, that other parties, however, also carriers, had their goods carried by the trains, and complained of the great injustice which this unequal exercise of the monopoly possessed by the company had produced. The petitioners stated, that they did not apply to the House without having first attempted to obtain redress by the ordinary course of law; in January last they had applied to the Court of Queen's Bench for a mandamus to compel the railway company to carry their goods, but the mandamus was refused, on the ground that the Act of Incorporation contained no clause affording any compulsory process against the company. The petitioners hoped, therefore, that the House would take into consideration the consequences which had arisen from the monopoly granted to the railway company, and they prayed that some statute should be passed by which the purposes of the Railway Act, as expressed in its preamble, namely, the improvement of the means of conveyance, might be carried into effect. The petition was signed by upwards of 180 persons, representing the great warehouses of London, by a great number in Manchester, by fifteen firms connected with the conveyance of goods between London and Manchester, by the whole of the aldermen and the corporation of the city of Chester, and contained in all 3,500 signatures. He might, perhaps, be allowed to take that opportunity of asking the right hon. President of the Board of Trade whether he intended to take any proceeding for the purpose of bringing the subject of railway conveyance before the House.

Mr. P. Thomson

said, he intended on the first Thursday after the recess, if he had an opportunity, to move for the appointment of a committee upon the subject, not with the intention of taking at present any ulterior measures upon the subject of railroads, but because the state of feeling of the House and of the public generally was such as to render some inquiry upon the subject necessary. Railway companies had, under the acts by which they were incorporated, been invested with very great powers; perhaps those powers might, in some respects, be for the advantage of the public, but they were also capable of being converted into an injurious monopoly.

Lord G. Somerset

then moved for a return of all sums of money raiseable by railway companies, distinguishing the sums to be raised by subscription from those to be raised by loan or mortgage, and a similar return with respect to companies to be formed under bills now before the House.

Return ordered.

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