§ House in committee.
Mr. Hodgson Hinde moved the following clause:—
That it may be lawful for any railway company to affix a printed list of rates and tolls in a conspicuous situation within every station-house or other building where such rates or tolls are collected, instead of affixing a table of rates and tolls painted on boards to the toll-house or building; and that such rates or tolls shall be payable, and may be demanded and taken during the time in which such printed lists are affixed as aforesaid, in the same manner as they are authorised to be demanded and taken during the time that such boards shall remain so affixed.
§ Dr. Bowring
thought that the existing practice afforded the greatest security against imposition; and that the present 174 mode of affording information in the several toll or station-houses on railways as to the rates and charges made by the railway company was more conducive to the public advantage and convenience than that proposed by the hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Wallace
opposed the clause, as it was calculated to open the door to the perpetration of fraud and imposition.
after a few words from Mr. Russell, Dr. Bowring, and Mr. Wallace, opposed the motion. The object of the bill before the House was to make provision for the public safety. The preamble of the bill showed it to have that object, and that alone; and, not wishing to alter the character and nature of the measure, he was desirous of not seeing introduced into it provisions which were not immediately applicable to the object professed. He had no particular objection to the proposal of the hon. Gentleman in other respects, but he thought that the consideration of such provisions and of those minute details would be better left to a committee up stairs. He trusted, therefore, that this clause would not be passed.
§ The committee divided, on the question that the clause be brought up.—Ayes 5; Noes 107: Majority 102.
|List of the AYES.|
|Berkeley, hon. C.||Layard, Capt.|
|Hodgson, R.||Grosvenor, Lord R.|
|Lawson, A.||Hinde, J. H.|
§ Mr. R. Palmer
then proposed the following clause:—And be it enacted, that whenever it shall appear to the Lords of the said committee, that the line of any railway is carried so nearly parallel to, or at so short a distance from, any turnpike or public carriage or bridle road, as; seriously to endanger the public safety, it shall; be lawful for the Lords of the said committee to call on the directors of any such railway to erect and maintain a sufficient fence between the line of railway and any such turnpike, carriage, or Bridle road, as the nature of the case may require.
admitted that the clause was within the scope of the bill, but he thought he should be able to persuade his hon. Friend not to press it. In the Great 175 Western Railway Act, and, indeed, in most other railway acts, provision was made to enable surveyors of roads to summon the proprietors, in cases of this kind, before two justices, and such two justices were empowered to adjudicate in the matter, so that, in point of fact, the power his hon. Friend wished to give to the Lords of the committee of trade was already possessed by the justices, who, from local knowledge, must be much more competent to decide such questions than the Board of Trade, who could only act on the representation of third persons. Although the Board of Trade possessed no compulsory power in cases of this sort, they were in the habit of making suggestions to the railway companies, and as those suggestions had always been attended to, he thought it better to leave the law as it stood.
§ Mr. Hindley
did not conceive the adoption of the clause would be attended with any benefit, as provision was already made on the subject.
§ Mr. C. Russell
could confirm the statement of the right hon. the Vice-President of the Board of Trade, as to the readiness of the directors of the several railway companies to attend to, and comply with the suggestions made to them by the Board of Trade. He thought that the danger arising from the causes adverted to by this clause, was much exaggerated.
§ Clause withdrawn.
Mr. Stafford O'Brien moved
That it shall not be lawful to lock the door of any railway carriages on the side nearest to those stations at which the trains shall stop, to which such carriages belong.
He trusted that he should not be opposed in moving this clause. He was decidedly opposed to being locked in under any circumstances whatever. He thought that any Member who voted against this resolution deserved to be locked up in a railway carriage himself. Although he would not say that he wished to see the Government locked up if they opposed his motion, still he thought that they would deserve to experience the evil. If, however, the right hon. Gentleman, the Vice-President of the Board of Trade, would say that the department to which he belonged could compel every railway company to cease locking their carnage doors at any time it pleased, without the insertion of this or a similar clause, he Would consent to withdraw his motion;
but unless that could be accomplished, he thought it to be his duty, for the protection and safety of the immense mass of people who travelled by railway, to press this motion to a division. He need not refer to particular cases in proof of the necessity of such a clause; the recent Paris and Versailles case must live in the recollection of all; but even without that example of the destructive consequences, he thought it must be evident to every one that it was a most dangerous thing, and unattended with any good consequence, to lock the doors of the carriages. He thought the safety of the public was concerned, and that this matter required the particular attention of the House.
§ Clause brought up and read. On the question that it be read a second time,
§ Mr. C. Russell
said, that in the Paris and Versailles case, which had created so much consternation in the minds of the public, the whole of the carriages were second-class carriages, where the whole top sides were open; and the persons inside, if they had contemplated danger, might have got out with as much chance of safety by those openings as by the doors, if they had been unlocked. He was opposed in principle to a clause compelling railway directors to allow the doors of railway carriages to remain unlocked, on the ground that persons travelling by railroad with the doors unlocked would, on the slightest alarm, be attempting to jump out, and thus expose themselves to imminent danger. He held in his hand a paper containing a list of the accidents which had occurred on the Great Western Railway, and these ran "jumping out of carriage whilst train in motion," attempting to get into carriage whilst train in motion," &c, whilst not one accident had yet occurred on that railway whilst the doors were locked, which would not have occurred if the doors had been unlocked. Had the plan of locking the doors of railway carriages been adopted from the first, they might even at that day have had the late lamented Mr. Huskisson assisting them with his splendid talents. He was satisfied, after the most mature consideration which he could give to the subject, that it was far safer to lock railway carriage doors than to leave them open.
felt called upon to oppose the clause, on the ground that on the present limits of their information on so difficult a subject, it would not be judicious to 177 make a legislative enactment on the subject. After what had fallen from both the hon. Gentlemen on this subject, he felt that there were two sides to the question—indeed it might be said that there were four sides to the question. He admitted that he thought that the practice of leaving one door unlocked having been adopted, that it ought not to be abandoned. His hon. Friend who moved the clause and a majority of the House had a strong opinion as to the propriety of a particular arrangement, but the question before the House was not as to the expediency of the arrangement which the clause would provide for, but whether it would be advisable to make a legal enactment to that effect. The general subject was very fully discussed during the last Session of Parliament whether it would be proper to make special prohibitions by legislative enactment in order to prevent a recurrence of circumstances which might be found to have produced injurious consequences, and it was not thought advisable to enforce such prohibitions by legal enactment. It was thought if, instead of the power of suggesting alterations which the Board of Trade now possesses, they were to give a compulsory power to the Board of Trade, it would have the effect of relieving the directors of the railways of too much responsibility. It was therefore better merely to allow the power of suggesting alterations in the arrangements of the railways to the Board of Trade, and he should say that scarcely a single instance had occurred in which such a suggestion had failed on the very first intimation to be perfectly successful in procuring the attention required. In this instance of not locking both doors the very first suggestion of the Board of Trade was instantly complied with, and he did not believe that any railway directors could think of continuing the former system unless the opinion which the public and the Parliament now hold on the subject of locking those doors experienced a change. He did not ask the committee to come to a decision on the abstract merits of the argument, but on the expediency of declining to entertain the present clause. Now there was railways at the present moment in which he understood that both doors were locked. The case he alluded to was that of the Greenwich railway, and he believed that some regulation of nearly a similar kind existed on the Blackwall railway. He had heard no complaint of 178 the practise on the Greenwich railway; on the contrary, the inspector of the Board of Trade reported rather in favour of the practice as a balance of evils. On this railway there was not in many parts sufficient space for persons to get out between the railway and the parapets, which were so high over the surrounding ground that it would be impossible for persons to escape over them. Persons, therefore, getting out would be obliged to get out upon the track of the other rail, which, in many cases, would be certain death to a great number of persons. He merely mentioned this to show that there were many particular cases which Parliament ought to have in its view when proceeding to pass a bill of this kind. He thought that the conclusion to which the House came last year with respect to the inexpediency of a prohibitory enactment, was a wise conclusion, and it appeared to him that nothing had since arisen to induce Parliament to depart from its former determination, with respect to this part of the question.
§ Captain Layard
thought, that it had been satisfactorily shown, that the lament-able extent of the accident that had occurred on the Paris and Versailles railway was not attributable to locking the carriage doors, as it appeared that the persons might have escaped as readily from the openings of the second-class carriages as from the doors, supposing that they had been unlocked. He was in favour of locking the door of carriages on railways, inasmuch as he thought that it contributed on the whole to the greater safety of the public. He had lately been travelling on the line to Liverpool, and an accident having occurred, the passengers, finding the doors of the carriages open, leaped out. Now, if a train had been passing at the time, the most serious consequences might have resulted.
§ Mr. H. Baillie Cochrane
recommended the hon. Member for Northamptonshire to amend his motion, so as to ensure both doors of a railway carriage being left open.
§ Mr. M. Milnes
did not think that the best course that could be adopted was to have a distinct legislative enactment on a subject of this kind, in which there are so many technical considerations involved. As public opinion, however, was so strong and decided on the matter, it was clear that something must be effected, He 179 believed, that it was necessary that a compulsory power should be given to the Board of Trade to act in a matter of this kind on its own responsibility. He was aware, that it might be long before public opinion got to the ears of the Government of the Board of Trade, and in the mean time the greatest abuses might be perpetrated. This, however, was a difficulty that they could hardly avoid. His own opinion was, that his right hon. Friend had too much faith in railway companies. He should vote for the motion, but still he would much rather have left a discretionary power with the Board of Trade.
§ Sir R. Peel
hoped, that hon. Gentlemen would not, under the influence of fear in consequence of the late lament-able accident that took place on the Paris and Versailles railroad, press for legislative enactments as to the mode on which railways should be conducted and managed. If the principle were adopted of defining by legislation what the regulations should be according to which railroads should be conducted, then, on the next railroad accident occurring, some Gentleman would come forward with a new clause, with the view to prevent the recurrence of such an accident, and so it would be that a new remedy would be proposed on the occasion of any accident. His hon. Friend, the Member for Reading, indirectly went on the principle, that persons travelling by railroad would not lake care of themselves, and, therefore, it was necessary to lock them in the carriages. Now, he believed, that persons who travelled by railroads, as persons who walked on turnpike roads, were the best guardians of their own safety; and he thought that there was no more necessity for locking the passengers up on the Great Western than on the Birmingham railway where the practice had never existed, and of the absence of which he had never heard any complaints. He thought that the public might be trusted to take care of themselves. In the course of the evidence given before the committee of railways last year, Mr. Brunei the eminent engineer, showed that it would be impossible to make the same legislative enactments applicable to ail railroads. For instance, with regard to the speed of travelling, it was proposed that a regulation should be made to prevent travelling on railroads at more than twenty-five miles an hour. The distinguished gentleman to whom he had allu- 180 ded, clearly showed that in many parts of the Great Western Railway a train could safely go at the rate of forty miles an hour. The committee, after a most careful and deliberate examination of the subject, came to the unanimous determination that security to the public would be best insured by giving to the Board of Trade a power enabling them to make suggestions, so as in fact to aggravate the responsibility of railway companies in case their recommendations were not attended to. He confessed he could not understand the principle of locking up one side and leaving the other open. Suppose the carriages were overturned on the side in which the doors were unlocked, how was it possible for the persons within to get out? He repeated, however, that he did not think that it would be expedient to legislate on the subject, but that by far the best course to pursue was, to let public opinion, which generally acted in the right direction, operate on the railway companies, and he had little doubt but that would soon set the matter right. If there should happen to be any old ladies or ecclesiastics who were so excessively timid as to be afraid to be locked up in a carriage, he had no doubt that after a short time the railway directors and those persons would settle the matter between them. He believed that with the greatest security the nature of the suggestions or recommendations to be made to the railway companies would be best left to the discretion of the Board of Trade, assisted as their opinions would be by the advice of such distinguished officers as Sir Frederick Smith and Colonel Pasley.
§ Mr. Mark Philips
admitted that there were many objections to minute legislation on subjects of this nature, but he objected from the very first to the practice of locking up passengers in railroad carriages. The hon. Member for Reading, in justification of the practice, stated that the accident which deprived this country of one of its most able and distinguished statesman, was entirely attributable to the not locking the doors of railroad carriages. The hon. Member should remember that this lamentable accident occurred at the opening of the first railroad that was formed in this country, and that it arose from accidental circumstances, having reference to the position of the carriages. As for persons jumping out of the railroad carriages, on the slightest alarm, he did not believe that there was any more risk of that than of 181 their jumping overboard from steamers on occasions of slight alarm. As a test of public opinion on the subject, he would recommend the directors of the Great Western Railway to have for the next fortnight in each train a certain number of carriages which it was announced were to be locked up, an equal number of carriages with one door locked, and a like number with unlocked doors; and within that time they would discover what was public opinion on the subject, and he had little doubt but that they would act accordingly, and decide in favour of freedom.
§ Mr. Escott
did not think that the hon. Gentleman who spoke last was a fair or impartial witness on the subject, for if by chance a railroad carriage in which the hon. Member was travelling had its doors locked, and it was overturned, he would be utterly unable to get out of the window. He should vote in that way which would give the most unlimited discretionary power to the directors of the railroad companies to make such regulations as they might deem essential for the safety and convenience of the public; and he should do so because he knew that they had the strongest interest to give way to public opinion, and to promote the public security and accommodation.
§ Mr. Mark Philips
admitted that he was not like the boy Jones, able to get in and out of windows with facility. He had rode in a common stage coach, and had been placed in the unfortunate position alluded to by the hon. Gentleman. In the coach in which he was overturned there were besides himself two gentlemen of about the same size as the hon. Member, and such was their anxiety to get out of the window at the same moment, that they became for some minutes fixed in it. On their extricating themselves, he proposed that they should toss up for choice as to who should get out first.
Mr. Stafford O'Brien
had not been induced to propose this clause in consequence of the accident on the Versailles railway. Public attention had been drawn to the subject long before that accident had occurred. He felt it necessary to say this to vindicate himself from the charge of having proposed this measure hastily and without sufficient grounds.
§ Mr. C. Russell
observed, that the stations of the Great Western Railway company had been constructed with the view to the locking up the carriages on both 182 sides. He could assure the House that this company would most willingly attend to any suggestions emanating from the Board of Trade on the subject, and would always be ready to carry into effect the wishes of that House.
§ The committee divided on the question that the clause be read a second time—Ayes 69; Noes 92: Majority 23.
|List of the AYES.|
|Allix, J. P.||Maclean, D.|
|Baskerville, T. B. M.||M'Geachy, F. A.|
|Blackburne, J. I.||Marshall, W.|
|Broadley, H.||Milnes, R. M.|
|Browne, hon. W.||Mitcalfe, H.|
|Busfeild, W.||Morris, D.|
|Campbell, A.||Morrison, J.|
|Clements, Visct.||Murphy, F. S.|
|Drax, J. S. W. S. E.||O'Brien, W. S.|
|Dugdale, W. S.||Ord, W.|
|East, J. B.||Pechell, Capt.|
|Ellice, E.||Plumridge, Capt.|
|Farnham, E. B.||Plumptre, J. P.|
|Ffolliott, J.||Repton, G. W. J.|
|Forbes, W.||Rushbrooke, Col.|
|Gore, W. R. O,||Smith, rt hon. R. V.|
|Granger, T. C.||Somerton, Visct.|
|Grogan, E.||Stanley, hon. W. O.|
|Hall, Sir B.||Stuart, W. V.|
|Hanmer, Sir J.||Strutt, E.|
|Hardy, J.||Sturt, H. C.|
|Hindley, C.||Taylor, T. E.|
|Hodgson, R.||Thornhill, G.|
|Holmes, hn. W. A'Ct.||Trotter, J.|
|Hughes, W. B.||Turner, E.|
|Inglis, Sir R. H.||Vere, Sir C. B.|
|James, W.||Vesey, hon. T.|
|Johnstone, H.||Vivian, hon. Capt.|
|Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.||Waddington, H. S.|
|Knight, H. G.||Wall, C. B.|
|Langston, J. H.||Wallace, R.|
|Lawson, A.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Lockhart, W.||Wilbraham, hn. R. B.|
|Macaulay, rt. hn. T. B.||O'Brien, S.|
|Mackenzie, W. F.||Philips, M.|
|List of the NOES.|
|A'Court, Capt.||Brodie, W. B.|
|Antrobus, E.||Brotherton, J.|
|Bailey, J.||Burrell, Sir C. M.|
|Bailey, J. jun.||Chapman, A.|
|Baillie, Col.||Colvile, C. R.|
|Baldwin, B.||Courtenay, Lord|
|Baring, H. B.||Craig, W. G.|
|Barrington, Visct.||Crawford, W. S.|
|Berkeley, hon. C.||Cripps, W.|
|Berkeley, hon. Capt.||Damer, hon. Col.|
|Berkeley, hn. H. F.||Darby, G|
|Berkeley, hn. G. F.||Dickinson, F. H.|
|Bernard, Visct.||Douglas, Sir H.|
|Blackstone, W. S.||Douglas, Sir C. E.|
|Boldero, H. G.||Duncan, Visct.|
|Botfield, B.||Duncombe, hon. A.|
|Bowring, Dr.||Duncombe, hon. O.|
|Egerton, Sir P.||Munday, E. M.|
|Escott, B.||Neville, R.|
|Estcourt, T. G. B.||Norreys, Lord|
|Fuller, A. E.||O'Brien, J.|
|Gibson, T. M.||Oswald, J.|
|Gill, T.||Palmer, R.|
|Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.||Parker, J.|
|Gordon, hon. Capt.||Patten, J. W.|
|Gore, M.||Pendarves, E. W. W.|
|Grimsditch, T.||Praed, W. T.|
|Grosvenor, Lord R.||Pringle, A.|
|Hamilton, W. J.||Pusey, P.|
|Hampden, R.||Rashleigh, W.|
|Hawes, B.||Rice, E. R.|
|Hayes, Sir E.||Rose, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Henley, J. W.||Round, C. G.|
|Hollond, R.||Rundle, J.|
|Howard, hon. J. K.||Russell, C.|
|Howard, hon. H.||Sandon, Visct.|
|Hussey, T.||Seymour, Sir H. B.|
|Hutt, W.||Somerville, Sir W. M.|
|Jermyn, Earl||Sotheron, T. E.|
|Lambton, H.||Stanton, W. H.|
|Lascelles, hon. W. S.||Stewart, P. M.|
|Legh, G. C.||Stock, Serj.|
|Liddell, hn. H. T.||Trollope, Sir J.|
|Lowther, J. H.||Yorke, hn. E. T.|
|Marsland, H.||Layard, Capt.|
|Mitchell, T. A.||Sutton, hon. H. M.|
§ Mr. Plumptre
proposed the following clauses:—And be it enacted, that no railway shall be used on any part of the Lord's Day; pro-vided always, and be it further enacted, that nothing in this act contained shall extend to prohibit the use of any railway on the Lord's Day in cases of charity or necessity.The consequences of allowing trains to run on Sunday were, the hon. Member said, very mischievous to the public, and led to all kinds of profanation. It should also be remembered that the servants of the different railway companies were compelled to work seven days a-week instead of six, thereby breaking the commandment, and at the same time depriving them of all moral and religious instruction. He had been induced to bring forward this subject only from moral and religious motives; and although he was aware that some might be induced to ridicule him, he was satisfied that those who feared God would support him. The hon. Gentleman concluded with proposing his motion.
§ Mr. Macaulay
was strongly opposed to any further legislation with respect to Sunday travelling. Why, he would ask, should one mode of travelling be prohibited and Others allowed, when that mode caused 184 the least exertion and required the least portion of human labour. Were they to legislate in this way because an unfortunate accident bad taken place on a Sunday on a railroad? Such an attempt at argument to reconcile them to such a proceeding was more extravagant than any schoolboy argument that he had ever heard. But what was the mode of procedure the hon. Gentleman wished to resort to enforce his proposed clause? He found that at present there were many prohibitions against performing certain acts on the Sunday. But how were these enforced? Why by penalties in each case. In the present case the hon. Member, if he wished to make his clause operative in this respect, might have proposed that a fine of 51. should be levied; for it was obvious that all laws of this kind must be perfectly nugatory without the enforcing the payment of some penalty on one party or the other. This clause, however, not only contained no penalty, but it did not mention any party who was to be responsible for a breach of the law. He would defy the hon. Member or any one else, by such a motion or clause, to put a stop to railway travelling on Sunday. There might be a penalty of 1,000l. for each offence imposed in such a clause as the hon. Member had proposed, but how was it possible to enforce it? But the clause, however, was open to objections of another nature. The hon. Member proposed as an exception, that nothing in this act contained shall extend to prohibit the use of any railway on the Lord's Day in cases of charity or necessity. Now, he should like to know who was to be the judge of these cases of necessity or charity. Was it for the committee seriously to entertain so futile and childish a proposition? And were they not to know what court the hon. Member proposed should try these questions of charity and necessity. Again, were the travellers to be made answerable, or were the proprietors of the railroad. Suppose the hon. Member went to the Birmingham Railway station, and said that he wanted to leave by a train on a matter of urgent necessity; how were the railway people to determine upon a case of the kind. He would venture to say, that the people of this country would not bear the operation of such a monstrous and absurd piece of legislation for a single day. Now what test was there to be for a work of charity or necessity? Every man would 185 put a different interpretation on a matter of this kind. Suppose, for instance, a man heard on a Sunday that his daughter had just eloped from a boarding-school at Bath, might he not say that this was a case of necessity to look after his family on a Sunday, while others might tell him that he might wait till the Monday? A case of rather an extraordinary kind, having reference to this subject, came under his cognizance a few years ago. He recollected that in December, 1825, having seen a gentleman of the greatest piety, and who entertained the strictest notions as to the observance of the Sunday, getting out of a stage-coach, from a distant part of the country in which he resided, on a Sunday evening; on immediately expressing his surprise at seeing him, knowing, as he did, the strictly conscientious opinion that he entertained as to travelling on a Sunday, this gentleman, who, by the by, was a country banker, told him that he was compelled to travel as a work of necessity, namely, to get a supply of money to meet the panic. Now who was to determine whether that was a case of necessity or not, within the meaning of the clause? What tribunal was to decide the question? In such cases it would not be possible to lay a penalty on the travellers, and still more absurd was it to propose to lay a penalty on the railroads, for the agents or the servants of the railway company could only judge of the travelling being a work of charity or necessity by what the travellers told them. Or, would the hon. Gentleman propose that a committee of directors of each railway should sit in each stationhouse, to determine, in the case of each traveller, as to whether it was a case of necessity or charity. Such a clause could only be regarded as a monstrous waste of words, and it never would attain the object the hon. Member had in view. If there was any proposition made to restrain further Sunday travelling, he should oppose it to the utmost; but he objected to the adoption of this clause, because he thought that the House would be placed in a most ludicrous situation by adopting so extravagant and monstrous a proposition.
§ Viscount Sandon
wished earnestly to ask his hon. Friend, not further to debate this subject at present. He was not unfavourable to the object his hon. Friend had in view; but after what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman he thought that it would be unwise to proceed further 186 with this matter. He knew that the motives by which his hon. Friend were actuated were of the purest character; but he hoped his hon. Friend would not persist in pressing the discussion.
§ Mr. Plumptre
had a perfect right, as an independent Member of that House, to make any motion he pleased; and he did not think that either the right hon. Member or any one else was justified in applying the term childish to his conduct. He did not believe that the difficulties in the adoption of these clauses were so great as had been stated by the right hon. Gentleman. He should leave the subject to the committee to treat the motion as it thought fit.
would request the hon. Member for Kent to withdraw his motion even with regard to the object he had in view, and if he wished at any future period to have the subject calmly discussed. If his hon. Friend wished to have a law against Sunday travelling, he would obviously defeat his object, by endeavouring to enforce it in this shape, against only one description of travelling. He agreed with his right hon. Friend that it would be hardly possible to make such a clause as that proposed by his hon. Friend operative. He also objected to the clause, because the object of it did not agree with the title and preamble of the bill—namely, for the safety and security of the public.
Mr. Vernon Smith
agreed with the right hon. Gentleman that this clause never could be made applicable to the object which the hon. Member had in view. The hon. Member had complained that his right hon. Friend, the Member for Edinburgh, had characterised the proceeding of the hon. Member in proposing this clause as extremely childish. His right hon. Friend had disavowed his intention of making any personal attack; but he did not think that the hon. Member was entitled to any peculiar consideration after the arrogant assumption which he had adopted in addressing the House. The hon. Member for Kent had said that all those who feared and honoured God would support his proposition. What right had the hon. Member to adopt such an extraordinary tone, and to claim such preeminent merit for proposing this most absurd resolution?
§ Sir R. Inglis
expressed his anxious hope that his hon. Friend would at once withdraw his motion, with a view to put a stop to further discussion on it.
§ Mr. Milner Gibson
deprecated the practice of hon. Members bringing forward motions in that House, and after discussion, not pressing them to a division. The hon. Baronet should have persuaded the hon. Member for East Kent not to have brought forward his resolution.
§ Mr. Grantley Berkeley
hoped that the hon. Member would be compelled to press his motion to a division. He strongly objected to this kind of puritanical legislation. The effect of such legislation on another subject might be seen in causing the assassin's knife to be used as a substitute for fair and manly boxing.
§ The committee divided on the that the clause be brought up:—Noes 105:—Majority 97.
|List of the AYES.|
|Bernard, Visct.||Morris, D.|
|Campbell, A.||Round, C. G.|
|Grogan, E.||Hardy, J.|
|Hayes, Sir E.||Plumptre, J. P.|
§ Lord Robert Grosvenor
proposed the following clause:—And be it enacted that when two or more railway companies, whose railways have a common terminus, or a portion of the same line of rails in common, or which form separate portions of one continued line of railway communication, shall not be able to agree upon arrangements for conducting their joint traffic with convenience to the public, so far as the same relates to the booking of passengers, the running of carriages, or the removal of luggage and passengers, it shall be lawful for the lords of the said committee, upon the application of any of the parties, to take cognizance of the questions in dispute; and if they shall find that any one of the said companies has granted to any other of the companies any accommodation in regard to the booking of passengers, the running of carriages, or the removal of luggage and passengers, and has refused to permit the same accommodation on the same terms, as nearly as circumstances will permit, to any other such company, it shall be lawful for the lords of the said committee to order the same to be granted to the company complaining of such refusal, and to order and determine whether the whole or what proportion of the expense's attending on such arrangement shall he home by either of the parties respectively, and if any railway company shall refuse or wilfully neglect to obey any such order made upon or against such company by the 188 lords of the said committee pursuant to this provision, such company shall forfeit to her Majesty the sum of 20l. per day for every day during which such refusal or neglect shall continue; and every such penalty may be recovered in any of her Majesty's Courts of Record.The noble Lord said:—This clause is one of considerable importance both to railway proprietors and the public. It is known to hon. Members that a select committee was appointed last year to consider the propriety of legislative interference in the management of railways; that committee took a good deal of evidence, and presented to the House a report dated May 27th 1841 founded upon it, which amongst other things contains the following recommendation:—Your committee are of opinion that one great source of danger to the public may arise from a want of harmonious proceeding on the part of the managers of connecting railways, in reference to their regulations and arrangements at the junctions, and your committee with a view to remove the difficulties which are likely to exist in this matter, consider it expedient—that whenever the directors of connecting lines of railway shall not be able to agree upon arrangements for conducting with safety and convenience to the public their joint traffic it shall be lawful for the directors of either of such railways to appeal to the Board of Trade to settle the matters in dispute between them, so far as the same relate to the safe and convenient transfer of passengers and goods from one connecting railway to the other, &c. &c.In accordance with this recommendation a bill was drawn and introduced to the House by the Vice-President of the Board of Trade, giving to the Board a power to decide in cases of disagreement, between two companies in matters touching the safety or convenience of the pub-lie. When however, the directors of the great lines of railway perceived this provision, they requested an interview with the right hon. Gentleman, and in the course of it stated, that although they had no objection to the interference of Government in cases where the safety of the public was concerned, yet that they thought themselves the best judges of what was conducive to the convenience of the public; that the word was one of large acceptation, not easy to define, and that if such a word were introduced into the bill, it would in point of fact, place all their arrangements at the mercy of the Government officer, a course of proceed- 189 ing to which they were not at all inclined to submit. The right hon. Gentleman admitted the validity of the plea and struck out the word; but I cannot help thinking, that considering the grievances complained of, and the manner in which it was demonstrated to him that the great lines might avail themselves of their monopoly to the prejudice of connecting lines and the detriment of the public, the right hon. Gentleman was in duty bound to have introduced some more definite expressions to protect the public and the connecting lines from the occurrence of such contingencies. It is to attempt to remedy this omision that I now move for leave to add this clause, 1 wish first to call the attention of the House to the evidence of one of our most experienced practical engineers before the committee to which I have already alluded:—Q. 1417.—What are the general points upon which you would think it desirable that the Board of Trade should exercise a discretionary power?—I think there is one very important point, that large railways should not crush little ones; I can imagine a case of two collateral lines coming into a main line, which might be nearly in (he same condition as to competing' with each other, but that it happened that some of the directors of the general line were interested in one of those lines, and they might make their arrangements in such a manner as to make the one rich and to break the other up altogether.What that gentleman imagined might take place has actually since happened upon one of our most important lines of railway communication, namely that between London and Dublin. The case is so well known, the inconvenience has been practically experienced by not a few Members of this House, and it is so fully detailed in the Post-office correspondence for which I moved and which is now printed and circulated, that 1 will not take up the time of the House by doing more than giving an outline of it. There is a point on the Grand Junction Railway called Crewe, from whence two lines lead to the Irish Packet Station on the Mersey, The one a shorter line with admirable gradients, approaching that bank of the Mersey, near which on account of the deep water the packet, lies, moored. The other a longer line with bad gradients, aproaching that bank most, distant from the pack et's moorings. The first portion of these of the two lines is in the hands of the Grand junction, but the last fourteen or fifteen 190 miles of each belong to different companies, and such have been the arrangements made by the Grand Junction authorities, that unless they choose to undergo great personal inconvenience, passengers are compelled to go the longer line with bad gradients falling into another line en cumbered with all the traffic from the north of England to Liverpool, instead of the shorter line with unexceptionable gradients, falling into another line comparatively speaking unencumbered with any additional traffic. I am aware that the defence set up by the directors of the Grand Junction Railway is this, that the pecuniary interests of the proprietors being affected by these arrangements they have a right to do what they will with their own property. I am aware that this doctrine is held to be a sound one by some Members who have no interest in the matter, and if I considered that such was the prevailing opinion of the House I should at once abandon my proposition. When however, I look at what has taken place in the House on previous occasions, when the matter has been under discussion, I do not find such to have been the case, and the prevailing sentiment I find so happily expressed by the right hon. Member for Tamworth (on June 30th, 1840), that with the permission of the House I will read it;—It is our duty to see, that, by those who are in possession of the monopoly, the public rights are not interfered with. I think it would be unwise to go beyond that point by introducing: minute regulations, but it is not unwise to guard the general interests of the public.Certainly, I cannot conceive anything more absurd or mischievous than an attempt to impose upon railway companies minute regulations of our own devising, and it is a course of legislation to which for one I would not consent; but this clause which I now bring forward will impose no regulation of our own devising upon any railway company. It avoids all interference with locomotive power, it simply enacts that the accomodation afforded to one connecting line, shall not be arbitrarily withheld from another, but that the public shall be at liberty without let or hindrance to adopt which ever line shall most suit their convenience. It is very irksome to me to have to bring before the House the conduct of the directors of the grand Junction: more especially, as I have received great personal courtesy from 191 that body, who I feel sure are actuated solely by a desire to discharge faithfully the responsible trust delegated to them by the shareholders. It was however, impossible for me to do justice to my case without alluding to these circumstances, and I trust the House will appreciate the importance of the question which they are now called upon to decide; namely, to use the words of the witness I have already quoted, "whether the proprietors of the great trunk lines shall be permitted to make use of their monopoly to the detriment of the public in such a manner, as to make one connecting line a flourishing concern, and to consign the other to bankruptcy and ruin."
§ Clause read a first time.
§ On the question that the clause be read a second time,
did not deny that there might be cases of the kind to which the clause referred, in which difficulty and inconvenience might result to the public; but he thought the remedy proposed was one which the country would not bear. This subject involved very serious questions of interference with proprietary rights, and he did not think that the Board of Trade was at all a suitable tribunal to adjudicate on such rights. It was not, and had never been, a part of the duty of the executive government to go into nice calculations of money-matters, or arrangements of this kind. He felt that the adoption of such a proceeding was against the spirit of the Constitution, and would be giving the Government important duties of a judicial character. However, he did not say that it was not desirable that the House should take into its consideration the propriety of constituting some tribunal for the purpose. He hoped the noble Lord would not press the clause on the committee, because the power was one that could not be exercised by the Board of Trade with satisfaction to the country. With respect to the particular case mentioned by the noble Lord, he could not help observing that the clause proposed by the noble Lord could not be made to apply to it. His noble Friend had alluded to a case where only two railways existed, but his clause applied only to a case where there were three; for it directly stated, that if any one of the said companies had granted to any other of the said companies accomodation as regarded the booking of passengers, the running of carriages, or 192 the removal of luggage, and refused to grant the same accomodation, on the same terms, to any other such company—it shall be lawful for the Lords of the said committee to order the same to be granted to the company complaining of such refusal. The clause, therefore, would be perfectly inoperative in this ease.
did not think that the right hon. Gentleman looked at the clause in its proper light. The right hon. Gentleman admitted the importance of the clause, but objected to have such power given to the Board of Trade, as, he said, it was an unfit tribunal to decide on such matters. By the 12th clause of the bill, he adopted that Board as a competent tribunal in a similar case, for by it, it was enacted that disputes between connecting railways were to be decided by the Board of Trade. If the objection of the right hon. Gentleman was good in the present case, surely it was equally valid against the former clause. The objection of the right hon. Gentleman to the applicability of the clause of the noble Lord to the case stated by him could be obviated by the introduction of a very few words into it. He should give the clause his warm and cordial support.
§ Viscount Sandon
said, that this clause would only apply to three railways in the kingdom, and he did not think that under such circumstances they should have a general enactment which might seriously affect many other railroads. He thought too, that the clause was unnecessary, and having prevented the Board of Trade from interfering generally with railway management, it would be inconsistent to place the power on its hands of interfering in this particular case.
said, that by adopting the clause, the House would throw on the Board of Trade the onus of performing duties which it was utterly impossible it could perform in a satisfactory manner.
§ Mr. Grimsditch
supported the clause, considering it to be absolutely necessary that the Board of Trade should have power to interfere in this instance, such interference being absolutely necessary for the public convenience.
observed, that by the former act as well as by the bill before the House, the Board of Trade had the power of interfering in cases in which the public safety was involved; but the Legislature had never yet given that Board the power of interfering in cases only involving 193 public convenience, and he trusted never would.
§ Mr. Wallace
thought, that the noble Lord had made out a most excellent case, and that not one word had yet been said in answer to it. When the right hon. Gentleman said—"Don't let us legislate on these small points, the Board of Trade can do every thing so well, and will have only to suggest to the railway companies what is right," would the right hon. Gentleman say, that the Board of Trade would make suggestions as regarded the case stated by the noble Lord?
§ Dr. Bowring
doubted whether the noble Lord would gain the object he had in view by pressing the clause to a division. For his own part, he doubted whether the Board of Trade was the best tribunal to determine disputes of this kind. It was allowed, however, that the present system, as regarded such cases as had been mentioned by the noble Lord, was defective, and he trusted something would be done in the shape of a remedy. He thought that it would be better that the House should not come to a division on the point that night; he would suggest, therefore, that the matter should be left for consideration.
said, that he could not consent to the proposal of the noble Lord. The subject was one which included various considerations; and he deprecated a hasty decision on the subject. He believed that the clause of the noble Lord was one which could not be carried into effect.
§ Lord R. Grosvenor
knew, from personal communications, that a great many extensive proprietors of railways were anxious that in cases of clashing duties the matter should be referred to the jurisdiction of the Board of Trade. He should certainly press the clause to a division, unless he had a pledge from his right hon. Friend that the Government and Board of Trade would take up the case.
§ The committee divided on the question that the clause be read a second time:— Ayes 40; Noes 41: Majority, 1.
|List of the AYES.|
|Adare, Visct.||Drax, J. S. W. S. E.|
|Berkeley, hon. C.||Egerton, Sir P.|
|Blackstone, W. S.||Ffolliott, J.|
|Brodie, W. B.||Forbes, W.|
|Brotherton, J.||Gore, W. R O.|
|Busfeild, W.||Grimsditch, T.|
|Clements, Visct.||Hayes, Sir E.|
|Hindley, C.||Parker, J.|
|Howick, Visct.||Patten, J. W.|
|Hughes, W. B.||Philips, M.|
|James, W.||Plumridge, Capt.|
|Jervis, J.||Somerville, Sir W. M.|
|Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H||Stanley, hon. W. O.|
|Langston, J. H.||Stuart, W. V.|
|Layard, Capt.||Taylor T. E.|
|Legh, G. C.||Vesey, hon. T.|
|Lowther, J. H.||Wallace, R.|
|Mackenzie, W. F.||Watson, W. H.|
|M'Geachy, F. A.|
|Mitcalfe, H.||Egerton, W. T.|
|Mitchell, T. A.||Grosvenor, Lord R.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Allix, J. P.||Hodgson, R.|
|Bailey, J. jun.||Hollond, R.|
|Barrington, Visct.||Howard, hon. J. K.|
|Baskerville, T. B. M.||Howard, hon. H|
|Boldero, H. G.||Hutt, W.|
|Botfield, B.||Jermyn, Earl|
|Bowring, Dr.||Lincoln, Earl of|
|Broadley, H.||Mackenzie, T.|
|Buller, Sir J. Y.||Norreys, Lord|
|Burrell, Sir C. M.||Pusey, P.|
|Colvile, C. R.||Rundle, J.|
|Cripps, W.||Russell, C.|
|Dickinson, F. H.||Sandon, Visct.|
|Farnham, E. B.||Seymour, Sir H. B.|
|Fuller, A. E.||Smith, rt. hon. R. V.|
|Gaskell, J. Milnes||Stanton, W. H.|
|Gill, T.||Sutton, hon. H. M.|
|Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.||Thornhill, G.|
|Gordon, hon. Capt.||Young, J.|
|Hamilton, W. J.||Darby, G.|
|Hawes, B.||Fremantle, Sir T.|
having proposed that the clauses 15 and 16 should be expunged, and other clauses be substituted in their places—
§ Viscount Howick
said, he thought that the House should give proprietors of land adjoining the lines of railways the ready means of recovering compensation for any loss they might sustain by the negligence of the servants of the railway companies. By the present law, if a fire was occasioned in a plantation, or a corn-field, or on land adjoining the lines of railway, by sparks from the steam-engine, the companies were not liable. He understood that this was the decision of a court of law, in a recent case involving the partial destruction of a plantation by this means. He thought that by proper precautions the railway companies could avoid all this danger. While they were giving such extensive powers to railway proprietors, it was only common justice that they should give a corresponding protection to the 195 proprietors of land through which they passed.
admitted, that the subject was one deserving of consideration. He believed, however, that in the case alluded to by the noble Lord, the injury had been done to a hay-stack raised immediately by the line of the railway.
§ Mr. R. Palmer
knew a case in which the Great Western railway company made compensation where a portion of a field of barley was burnt by sparks falling in it from one of their engines. If the judges, however, had decided in the way stated by the noble Lord, it was fully time to consider the matter with a view to a legislative remedy.
§ Lord R. Grosvenor
wished to ask, after the division of that night on the clause which he had proposed, whether the right hon. Gentleman was prepared, on the part of the Board of Trade, to promise to exert himself to put an end to the public inconvenience which was occasioned by the disputes existing between the Grand Junction and the Chester and Birkenhead railway? If his right hon. Friend would not give such a pledge on the subject, he should feel it to be his duty to bring forward the clause again in a future stage of the bill.
had already said, that the Board of Trade would do everything, in the way of suggestion, to effect an arrangement in cases of dispute between railroads, if the matter were brought before it by the parties interested. The Board, however, had not the power of doing more than making suggestions, and he should strongly deprecate any larger power being entrusted to it.
§ Clauses agreed to. The House resumed.