§ Mr. J. Bright
said, that having given the Report of the Committee on which the Bill was founded the fullest consideration, and having read the Bill, and listened to the debate of the other evening with his best attention, he had been forced to the conclusion that the measure which proposed to give to the Executive such extraordinary powers in respect to all future Railways, was not conducive to the public interest. He had listened with much attention to the speech of the right hon. the President of the Board of Trade, and in that speech, extending as it did over more than two full hours, he could perceive no other purpose than an intention to disguise the real objects of the Bill rather than to explain them to the House. If he (Mr. Bright) had understood the right hon. Gentleman correctly, he stated that it was not intended to give any powers of purchase to the Government, or to include the principle of Government purchase in the measure, and that the Clauses relating to purchase had been introduced rather with the view of leaving the question open and Parliament unfettered, than to subject them to any decision at present upon that point. But the right hon. Gentleman also stated (though that was somewhat inconsistent with the other parts of his speech) that he conceived the question of purchase, or the power of purchase, was one of the most important in the Bill, and that if the House could be induced to come to an agreement upon that point, the remaining Clauses of the Bill were but of minor consequence, so much so, indeed, that the Government had not decided whether or not they should postpone them, or some of them until another Session. He found, then, and the Report of the Committee bore him out in his opinion, that this power of purchase by the Government was, after all, the most important feature of the Bill, and every one who understood the English language, and took the trouble to read the Bill through, could not fail to arrive at the same conclusion. Out of the forty-eight Clauses which the Bill contained, no less than sixteen related to this power of purchase, and of those sixteen, eight distinctly mentioned that power in terms it was impossible 627 to misunderstand. Clause 7, which had been already alluded to, enacted—That whatever may be the rate of divisible profits in any such Railway, it shall be lawful for the Lords of the said Committee, if they shall think fit, at any time after the expiration of the said term of fifteen years, to purchase any such Railway, with all its hereditaments, stock, and appurtenances, in the name and on behalf of Her Majesty, upon giving to the said Company one calendar month's notice in writing of their intention.Clause 8 had this passage—And the Lords of the said Committee shall exercise the option of purchase by this Act provided in regard to the Railway belonging to the said Company, within three years after the time when such revised scale shall have ceased to be in force, the amount of purchase money to be paid for the said Railway, in default of any agreement to the contrary between the Company and the Lords of the said Committee," &c.Now, he could not conceive what meaning could be attached to these words, unless it was to sanction the principle of purchase, and give the Lords of the Committee the power of forcing agreements to purchase under the Act. In clause 9, again he found—And be it enacted that if the said option of purchase shall be exercised by the Lords of the said Committee in respect of any Railway, the Company from whom such Railway shall be purchased shall deliver up the same, with all its lands, tenements, hereditaments, works, and appurtenances, in a good and sufficient tenantable repair, with a good and sufficient stock of carriages, engines, horses, and other working stock, live and dead, for carrying on the ordinary traffic upon the said Railway, to the Lords of the said Committee, upon payment of the purchase-money thereof in manner hereinafter provided.And Clause 12 ran thus—And be it enacted, that when any Railway, in respect of which the Lords of the said Committee shall exercise the said option of purchase, shall be under lease, the annual divisible profits of such Railway shall be estimated according to the provisions hereinbefore contained, in the same manner as if such Railway were not under lease.So also as to Clause 14, he found it proceeded—And be it enacted that in the event of the purchase of any Railway by the Lords of the said Committee, under the provisions in this Act in that behalf contained, the purchase-money, or so much thereof as shall be payable under the provisions herein contained, shall be paid to the Directors of 628 the Company of Proprietors of the said Railway, and shall be distributed by such Directors among the shareholders in the same Company, rateable according to their respective shares and interests therein.In Clause 16 also it was enacted, that after the payment of the purchase money, &c. &c., the railway, with all its appurtenances,Shall belong to and shall by virtue of this Act be absolutely vested in Her Majesty in right of her Crown, and shall be taken to be part of the possessions and land revenues of the Crown within the survey of the Exchequer in England.And so on through not less than eight Clauses of the Bill there was specific mention of the power of purchase; and if it was not intended to give the power, perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would be good enough to explain why so much of the Bill was occupied by enacting and describing that power, which was not to exist or be exercised at all. Let the right hon. Gentleman consider for a moment how Acts of Parliament were generally interpreted, and whether they were to be construed by their own words, or by the explanations given by the Minister of his intention when submitting the Bill to Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman knew very well, that if, fifteen years hence, the question of what was the true interpretation of the Act should come under discussion, it would be held that Parliament had sanctioned the principle of purchase, and that the application was merely a question of degree. This had been the case on other questions. Some years ago Parliament, had sanctioned the principle of legislative interference with the hours of labour in factories. This year it had been proposed to carry that interference still further; and those by whom that greater interference was advocated, contended that the principle having been once sanctioned, the application of it was a question merely of degree, and not, therefore, important. The right hon. Gentleman had argued the other evening, that the Executive could not of itself buy up railways, but that Parliament must be appealed to on the subject, as Parliament would have to vote the money. They all knew Parliament would have to find the money, but they also knew that if this Act were passed, and Government bargained for the purchase of any particular railway, there would be very great difficulty, at a future day, in dissuading Parliament from finding the money to put into force the provisions 629 of an Act deliberately sanctioned by the Legislature. Besides, in Clause 7, the right hon. Gentleman provided that only one month's notice of the purchase should be given, and was it to be supposed that this one month's notice would furnish sufficient time for the Parliament to inquire into the desirableness, and confirm the policy of the purchase of a railway? Would it not amount to this?—that the Executive would decide the question of purchase or no purchase; that having determined on the former, they would give the month's notice, and then come to Parliament for the money, expecting that it would be voted as a matter of course. He would maintain that this Bill did sanction the principle of purchasing railways by the Government. Whatever the intention of the Government was, no man could read the Bill without coming to that conclusion, and that was the conclusion that the Railway Directors and the public had come to. It would have been better, he thought, if the right hon. Gentleman had himself considered the full effect and meaning of those Clauses relating to the power of purchase, instead of asserting that those who had read them were wrong in the construction they had put upon them, and that they were influenced in their opposition to the measure by interested motives. He did not believe that the principle of purchasing these great works by the Government was one that was deemed by the public to be advantageous. It was altogether a new principle in this country. Private enterprise had done much for this country—much more than the Government or the Executive had ever done, and more than private enterprise had perhaps done for any other country. There was a wholesome absence of interference on the part of the Government in this country in all those matters, which experience showed might wisely, safely, and beneficially be left to private individuals, stimulated by the love of gain and the desire to administer to the wants and comforts of their fellow men. If, however, we were now for the first time to depart from this long recognised principle—if this great change proposed by the Bill was to be made, he wished to know upon what principle it was to be made, and why? No case had been made out hitherto for the adoption of the course proposed. The right hon. Gentleman had spoken of the charges exacted by the railways of this country as being larger than those of the Belgian and other foreign railways. And he had also 630 spoken of the high profits and large per centage realised upon the capital invested. But there was no proof whatever, taking the gross amount of capital sunk, that anything like exorbitant profits had been made, perhaps not more than 5 per cent., and he doubted whether it was so much, taking all the railways together. From a statement which had been for some time before the public, and which, as it had not been contradicted, he supposed might be taken as correct, he found that four only out of the seventy railways in this country paid 10 per cent., one pays 7, two pay 6½, four 5, and all the other fifty-nine paid from 4 down to nothing. There was no proof, therefore, that railway proprietors were grossly exacting from the public, as was charged against them, or that the public were suffering from high charges and oppressive conduct on the part of the Railway Companies. The right hon. Gentleman had spoken of third-class trains. Now, no man more than himself wished that the working classes should have every accommodation on railways, and the full enjoyment of the improved means of communication which they afforded, but, in his opinion, to no class did the railways give (even under the present regulations) more facilities of travelling than the working classes. That this was the case in the manufacturing districts he knew, and no one who was acquainted with those districts would be of a different opinion. The right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government had adverted to the monopoly of the Railway Companies. The right hon. Baronet said:—There was an impression now prevailing, that the railway interest was exceedingly strong—that the monopoly was a very powerful one—and that it was extremely difficult to propose any measure for controlling them. He (Sir R. Peel) was inclined to think that they were going too far, and that their monopoly might be very great; but he would advise them to husband their strength.No less than four times in that speech had the right hon. Baronet charged the Railway Companies with being monopolists, and all the odium which attached to that character he had thrown upon them. Now, of all men, he had least expected to hear such a charge from the right hon. Baronet, who had not been usually so strongly opposed to monopolies, nor so courageous in the denunciation of them. The railway monopoly—if it were one—had conferred great benefits on the community; 631 it gave them a cheaper and more safe mode of travelling. Even the Report on which the Bill was founded admitted the great benefits the railways had conferred upon the public; and yet the right hon. Gentleman had taken that Report on which to base a law for interfering, in the most extraordinary, unprecedented, and, as he (Mr. Bright) contended, uncalled for way, in the whole management and regulation of railways and the profits of their proprietors. Now he found from a published statement which had not been disputed, that within the year 1843, 70 railroads constructed at an outlay of 60,000,000l., had conveyed 25,000,000 passengers 330,000,000 of miles, at the average cost of about 1¾d. a mile, and with but one fatal passenger accident. It was most unjust, therefore, to charge against these great establishments the odious term of monopoly. There were no establishments in this country carried on with such admirable management and arrangement as the railroads. There was nothing in the Government establishments which could compare with them in the nicety and admirable propriety of their management. Government ships were not so well arranged. No person who went in Government packets could say but that the conduct and accommodation which he met with on board those packets was not inferior to what was to be met with in packets under the management of public companies. Again, the management of the Post Office was not such as would justify them in placing in the hands of the Government the conveyance of passengers. What a long time had passed before a reduction in the rate of postage was obtained; and how long since had hon. Gentlemen opposite ceased to rail against the penny postage? At that very moment the mails from London to Manchester were sent by a roundabout circuitous way, instead of going by a way which would convey them an hour earlier; and though representations had been made by the Corporation and Chamber of Commerce of Manchester over and over again upon the subject, no remedy had been provided. He was convinced that if under this Bill the management of railways should devolve upon the Government, it would not be long before the public would deeply repent having entrusted them with such a power. But there were other questions besides those of economy connected with this subject. There was the constitutional question whether it were 632 fitting that any Government should be entrusted with the enormous amount of patronage which this Bill, by giving them the control of railways would place in their hands. The London and Birmingham Railway alone employed from 1,500 to 2,000 persons, with salaries varying from 70l. to 1,000l., and they spent more than 200,000l. for wages, stores, tools, and a variety of other expenditure. The Great Western Railway must pay more than this even, and the whole of the railways together paid an amount that was enormous; and if the management of these establishments—the expenditure of these large sums of money, and the patronage of so many appointments, were to be placed in the hands of the Executive Government, would it not give them a great and dangerous influence over the various electoral bodies, and affect the freedom of the constituencies of the country. Would not the power of conferring 1,500 or 2,000 appointments between London and Birmingham, with salaries varying from 70l. to 1,000l. a year, naturally give Government a very powerful influence over the constituencies of those places, and of every borough near which the railway passed. See what was the case already in regard to the Post Office patronage. He (Mr. Bright) was at Kendal on the day of the last election, and was then informed that the guard of the mail coach, on passing through that town, was taken from the coach, and compelled to vote for the Government candidate, to whose political opinions it was known he was opposed. Where, then, would be the independence of the constituencies, if the Executive Government had the railways under their control, and employed the patronage which would thus devolve upon them as they too frequently did in other cases? The same effects which now resulted from their influence in such places as Rochester, Pembroke, Devonport, and elsewhere, would exist in every borough through which a railway passed. And if the system which was found to be so prejudicial to the independence of the constituencies in those towns in which it was now exercised, was to be extended to almost every town in the kingdom. There was nothing in the shape of reduction of fares, that could at all compensate the public for the injury that would be thus inflicted upon the country. He wished to see a powerful Government — powerful in the opinions of the people, but not in the amount of patronage at its disposal, and 633 the number of places it could hold out as rewards to those who supported them at elections. He was prepared to contend—and the experience they had had proved the fact—that the evils attending railways, as now managed, were very small indeed, and the inconveniences to the public of rare occurrence. To no one had railways been of greater advantage than to himself. For the last two years he had travelled as much by railways as any man, and for civility, propriety of conduct, safety, convenience, and fairness in every respect, he could say that no establishments in this or any other country could stand a comparison with the railway establishments of England. But even if there were some evils, the remedy proposed by the right hon. the President of the Board of Trade was an inefficient one. It was well known that Government Establishments were worse managed than any others, and less in harmony with the wants and feelings of the people. But beyond that the constitutional principle of the Bill was a dangerous one, and he should oppose it upon that if there were no other ground of objection. There was another point to which he would advert in a few words, viz., the revision of fares. He admitted that when Railway Companies had the power conferred on them by Parliament to pass over everybody's land, and take people's property for the public advantage, they might be properly called on by Government to submit to some regulation; and he was not prepared to say that a revision of the fares charged was not one of them. But unless care were taken the application of the power might be attended with considerable danger. By the Bill seven years was the time within which no revision of fares was to take place; now that, he thought, might be a dangerous provision, as preventing those improvements by which the public would in the end benefit. He knew a case in point. A friend of his (Mr. Bright) had an improvement in railway wheels, by which the great wear and tear which, as now constructed, they were subject to, would be in a great degree avoided, and of course the expense of working them diminished. Suppose any railway, whose profits were at, or approaching to, 10 per cent. should be desirous of taking up that invention, they would not think it prudent to do so, because, if the saving should increase their profits beyond the 10 per cent., the Government would have the power of interfering to compel them at 634 once to diminish their tolls or to surrender their line. If, however, the term were fifteen or twenty-one years, instead of seven, the Company would feel justified in making the experiment. He thought, however, that there would be no difficulty in making arrangements with the Railway Companies as to the revision of tolls, if that were the object desired; he was not authorised to say as much, but from what he knew of these Companies, he was sure there would be no difficulty on that point. But if the right hon. Gentleman was anxious to give the Board of Trade the power of purchase, merely as a threat in terrorem to force the Companies into agreements with the Board of Trade, he would assure the right hon. Gentleman that he altogether mistook the character of those bodies. He knew they would rather meet the Board of Trade now on the subject than after the Bill should have passed. Now, as to the third class passengers, he lived upon a line that had a greater third class passenger traffic than any other—that was the Manchester and Leeds line. No population in any district had derived so much benefit from railway communication as that amongst whom he lived. Some objections had been urged, he believed, against this railway at its first establishment, with regard to the accommodation afforded to third class passengers; but there had been great improvement of late years, and the Directors had become convinced that their best interests were identified with those of the public, and that the greater the inducements they could offer to all classes to travel by their line the greater was the profit to the proprietors. He would suggest to the Government, as there were other means of obtaining all the control that was necessary for the public interest over railways, that the Government should abandon this novel and obnoxious principle of purchase. Under all the circumstances of the case, and considering that the Railway Companies had expressed their willingness to meet the Government fairly and openly, he thought the Government would do well to consent to postpone the measure until next Session. In conclusion he would make one remark on the tone adopted by those who had spoken in favour of the Bill. He must say he did not think it right to cast a slur on railway proprietors with respect to the opposition to this Bill. It was most unfair, and it was not true that the opposition to the measure was based on sordid and mercenary motives, 635 and was confined, as had been stated, to agents and others who transacted railway business in Parliament. The opposition was general, and rose from an apprehension which was increased by the anxiety of the Government to press on the Bill at that late period of the Session, when it had been so short a time before the public and the parties interested. To the Railway Companies he, for one, entertained a feeling of gratitude he was not able to express: if he thought they had done wrong, he would not ascribe it to a tendency to do wrong, but to one of those errors to which all men and all bodies of men were sometimes liable. They were, no doubt, liable to error, but on all occasions they had evinced a laudable anxiety to do right. The charge of monopoly, as against these bodies, was most unfounded; they had none of the vices of monopolies about them; on the contrary, they were amongst the greatest benefitters of mankind. Monopolists never benefitted the public, and he would call upon the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) and his friends around him, when they charged the Railway Companies with being monopolists, to look about them and see if there were not other monopolies of a much worse character which were much more deserving of his attention. He had no wish to go into other questions, but he desired simply to defend those whom he believed to be amongst the most useful and meritorious body of men. These were his views; and, after considering the subject fully, and reading with attention all that appeared in the Report of the Committee, he had come to the conclusion that the power of purchase was bad in itself, and not to be tolerated; and as to the minor parts of the Bill, if those only were necessary, it would be far better to postpone the measure until another Session, when the Railway Companies would be prepared to meet the Government on fair and equitable terms. Under these circumstances, he should vote for the Amendment, that the Bill be read a second time that day six months.
having been a member of the Railway Committee, was anxious to state the grounds on which he should give his vote for the second reading of the Bill. All the Committees that had been appointed to investigate the subject of railways had come to the unanimous opinion, that the interests of the Railway Companies were not so identical with the interests of the public, that the public were to be left entirely at the 636 mercy of the Companies without their being subjected to any control whatever. The whole system of rates and fares which was introduced into every Railway Bill was a proof that Railway Companies could not be left uncontrolled, but that some degree of control was necessary. Then, if control were necessary, he asked, was that control to continue the same in degree for ever,—was it to be permanent, and for all future time, and was there to be no means of revision? He wished to know, as every Railway Company came to that House for powers to interfere with property, to take away the grounds of the rich and the poor, to deprive many parties of land for which no adequate compensation could be given, and interfering in a thousand ways with the private rights and all the associations connected with those rights,—whether it was not just and fair that the public should be guaranteed certain advantages? After suffering their ground to be taken would they let them have no share in the benefit? On that ground he thought there was a right of revision over Railway Companies. He could not, however, conceive that any interference would be just to those Companies, except that which considered the amount of their profits. He thought not only their expenditure, but their profits should be considered, or else they would unjustly deprive men of a return for the outlay of their capital. He admitted it would be possible for some Companies so to adjust their expenditure as to limit their profits to 10 per cent. and thereby prevent the interference of Parliament. He thought the Government should have the option of purchasing the railways in such cases; he knew of no other way in which the power of revision could be secured and rendered effectual. It was said that the interests of the public could always be trusted to the interests of the Companies, that the Companies could always adjust their charges so as to give the greatest amount of accommodation. The contrary had been proved in every case. It had been constantly and repeatedly shown that the profits of Railway Companies were not identical with the accommodation they gave; that it was to their advantage to carry a few passengers at a high rate of charge, instead of a greater number and at a low rate. On that account, he said, revision became necessary, and for that reason Parliament must provide that the public should have a share in the benefits which accrued from railways. With respect to the principle 637 of the Bill, which made a particular provision for the interests of the poor, he was of opinion that all in that House were agreed the moment had arrived at which an attention to their wants and interests was necessary. The main principle of this Bill was to establish future revision by Government; the rest of the Bill consisted of the machinery which was considered necessary to carry out that principle; and if, when they got into Committee, any better means could be found by which that revision could be secured, so that the public might gain the benefit they were entitled to, he should be most willing to give it his cordial assent.
said, this measure was so peculiarly important on many considerations, that he could not refrain from delivering his sentiments upon it. He would have passed by all those attempts at insinuation which had been thrown out, that every Gentleman who had felt it incumbent upon him to express dissatisfaction with the principle of the measure had an interest in some Railway Company; but he thought it a ridiculous principle, that where an hon. Member was disposed to object to any particular measure, his vote, or his speech, or his sentiments, should be challenged as proceeding from personal interest. He thought railway proprietors might well give the results of their experience and state the information they had acquired for the benefit of those Members who had not turned their attention to the subject. He therefore, felt it necessary to apologise, when he declared, that he did not possess, nor ever possessed any share or interest in any Railway Company whatever. This was one of those Bills the principles of which must be considered in its details. There were three principles contained in it: first, the power of revision over particular railways hereafter to be constructed; then, the power to be given to the Government of purchasing any particular line; and, lastly, that which proposed to make it a popular measure, the giving a facility to the poorer orders for travelling in third class railway carriages at a reduced fare. As far as he was acquainted with the sentiments of the House, there seemed to be no one adverse to this popular principle. Though he agreed that accommodation should be provided for the poorer classes of our fellow-subjects, that proper third class carriages should be provided for them, and that the scale of fares should be moderate, still he thought they ought not to declaim all at once against 638 Railway Directors, accusing them of being misers, extortioners, and men grasping for profit. He would ask, how were the humbler ranks provided for previous to the introduction of railway travelling? How were they provided for outside stage coaches? And as to their facilities for travelling, when he recollected the old heavy waggons on the Dorchester road, or the North road, he did not know any class of society who had been more directly benefited by the institution of railway than our poorer brethren. Labourers and persons of small resources, had formerly but very limited means of transport, beyond those afforded by mere walking. Moreover, artizans and others, condemned by their occupations, to the fatigue, confinement, and deteriorated atmosphere of densely-crowded habitations, were now, by the cheap and occasional facilities offered by different Railway Companies, enabled to partake of the advantage and amusement of excursions, which hitherto had been utterly denied to them, as if they had been, as it were, the privileges of only their more opulent fellow-subjects. Now, he would go to the main point of the Bill — namely, the principle of giving any future Board of Trade, or any future Government, the option of purchasing any line of railway; a principle which he termed one of centralization. Now, he asked hon. Gentlemen, when they considered the great improvements that had taken place in this country, all of which were the result of private speculation—when they looked around them and considered the private undertakings, when they looked at the grand result of the whole computed by its details, he asked, whether this principle of centralization which was calculated to stop all private speculation, would limit the enterprize and the prosperity of the country? This principle, it was said, was to be introduced after a lapse of fifteen years; but, he said, they ought to look at the measure as if it was to commence to-morrow. The Board of Trade might come down upon any unfortunate Railway Company, the benefits of which might have been reduced to 5 per cent. Such a power as that he decidedly objected to. When the railway question was first mooted, there might have been a culpable degree of negligence on the part of the Government; they suffered the thing to take its course; but what they now proposed to do was to crush in the bud the rising hopes of the proprietors of those railways which were just commencing. 639 From communications that he had received he understood many Railway Companies had been embarrassed by the sense of coming danger, or by the suspicion of a sense of danger. He asked, then, what was the monopoly so dreaded? Did the Government propose to interfere with the Great Western Railway—or with the South Western Railway — existing monopolies? No; all they proposed by the Bill was to interfere with any present established railway, when any branch line should be constructed—they only wished to catch them in the net they had been making. Now, as to this additional power which the Government would be invested with, onerous as the cares of the Government were at that moment, could they suppose they could conduct ten different lines of railway, with boards, clerkships, and other contingent patronage—were they to imagine that a body of clerks, sub-clerks, agents, and sub-agents, all under the control of the Board of Trade, would not exercise an enormous influence over the elections of the country? With respect to the revision of the railway fares, he was informed that some of the Companies were anxious to have this supervision over their finances established, whilst others were suspicious of the interference of the Government, and refused to admit such a principle as that of subjecting their financial affairs to public inspection, such as that would prove to be. There were, however, weekly returns made at present of the traffic and number of passengers on the different railways, and these were published in the different papers. With a little extension, these returns might be made the means of an harmonious arrangement between the Board of Trade and the Railway Companies for coming to a periodical settlement of the accounts. But the Bill now before the House was not likely to produce those harmonious effects; it had excited suspicion, alarm, and dislike amongst the Railway Companies; it had occasioned a great deal of distrust among the embryo Railway Companies; and many projected lines would be completely checked by its effects. The right hon. Gentleman ought to be aware he had taken a most dangerous step, and it was no excuse for him to allege, as he understood might be alleged, that the origin of the measure did not rest with the Government, but that a measure similar in principle to the present had been found in the department at which he was the head, and which had been sketched out by the predecessors 640 in office of the present Ministers. The Bill in its present shape, was objectionable under every aspect in which it could be viewed, and he therefore would offer it his hearty opposition.
§ Mr. Colquhoun
said, that he was prepared to defend the vote which he had given on a previous occasion with respect to this Bill. He objected to the tone which had been assumed by his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade. He did not complain of the allusion made to himself by his right hon. Friend, but he complained of the allusion which he had made to an independent set of Gentlemen in that House, whom he had described as being the unconscious instruments of crafty designing persons out of doors. Surely his right hon. Friend could not think that such men as the hon. Member for Reading and those hon. Members who acted with him—that such men as Mr. Saunders and Mr. Hudson, whom his right hon. Friend praised so much—surely he could not think that when such men as these—men of ability and capacity—met to express their strong opinions against this Bill that they were the unconscious instruments of crafty and designing agents out of doors. His right hon. Friend had said that after the course that had been pursued—after the manner in which the opposition to this Bill had been got up, he would not consent to postpone the Bill, and his right hon. Friend had turned to him (Mr. Colquhoun), and asked him if he had read the third Report of the Committee, and his right hon. Friend had said that the third Report was a short Report, and had been laid before the House months ago. Now, he had read the third Report so far back as April last, and if he were to show to his right hon. Friend the marginal notes which he had made on it, he was sure that his right hon. Friend would consider them to be rather plain than complimentary. There were parts of the third Report to which he had not the least objection, but there were two principles mentioned in that Report which called for that strong expression of opinion which they appear to have elicited. His right hon. Friend had asked him why, if there was anything in that Report to excite alarm—why had there been no stir—why had there been no move until now? The answer to that was plain, they all knew that there were many Reports—many of them very bold Reports indeed,—which slumbered in the Library, and lay there entombed in perfect 641 silence, stirred by nobody. Now, he believed, until this Bill was brought forward that nobody thought that any measure would be founded on that Report. His right hon. Friend had said, was it not surprising that if this measure was so objectionable, that persons connected with railways had, until now, made no stir in the matter. Now, nothing could be more unwarrantable than for his right hon. Friend to come to that House, and with imperfect information on this point, to mislead the mind of the public. As early as the 29th of June the railway press had protested against the principles embodied in the measure. Week after week, long before the appearance of the fifth Report, the Railway Chronicle had been circulating warnings with respect to the recommendations of the Report. [The hon. Member read an extract from a number of this paper of the 29th of June, which contained a warning with respect to this intended measure, and referred to similar warnings which had been previously given by the same paper.] Yet, notwithstanding these repeated warnings, his right hon. Friend seemed to tell them that nothing had been sounded into the ears of the Government with respect to this Bill but the harmonious sounds of public approbation. His right hon. Friend said, that, were he to postpone this measure, twelve months hence, there would be a still stronger opposition to it than at present. Why, what did this prove? If the fears and doubts of those who opposed the measure were groundless or exaggerated, a year's time would have the effect of dissipating or allaying them; but if they would not be so dissipated and allayed, would not that be an additional proof that they were neither exaggerated nor groundless. Surely, if misrepresentations had been circulated respecting this Bill, these misrepresentations would be put down by free discussions. If his right hon. Friend was satisfied that in a year hence the opposition to this Bill would be stronger, was it not a proof that there was something in the principle of this measure calculated justly to excite disapprobation? He had been informed that the hon. Member for Manchester had intended to bring forward a Motion on this subject with the concurrence of the railway proprietors, but he understood that the hon. Member for Nottingham, on his own responsibility, and without communication with the railway proprietors, was to make a Motion, Therefore, so far as the railway 642 proprietors were concerned, they would not be responsible, and he was sure that the hon. Member for Nottingham would see that on himself alone would rest the responsibility of his Motion. His right hon. Friend had stated that it was a farce to say that this measure had given a shock to railway property, and he said that he would be able to show that since this measure had been brought forward railway shares had risen; and his right hon. Friend, with his usual ingenuity, had cited in proof of his assertion that the Great Western shares had risen in value some hours or days after the railway deputation had had an interview with the Government, and had ascertained its intention to proceed with the Bill. This was a very inconclusive mode of arguing, for suppose he were to take the converse side, and to assert, that the measure had operated most injuriously on the railway community, for the Caledonian Railway shares, which had been at a premium of several pounds per cent., before its promulgation, had sunk to a discount after the Government's intentions had become public, whilst the Lancaster and Carlisle Railway shares had been rapidly falling from the same cause,—this mode of argument would be manifestly unfair, for neither in the latter any more than in the former case, had the Bill produced any effect, the rise in the value of the Great Western Railway shares having been produced by the failure in another place of a Railway Bill, calculated to oppose the traffic of that line of road. Besides this, the state of the share-market could not be fairly adduced as systematic of public feeling with respect to a Bill under consideration, for that market was governed more by the exigencies and contingencies of capital and by the state of the money-market than by any other cause, and he might, with just as much reason, tell the right hon. Gentleman that he ought to withdraw his measure, because a broker had informed him the share-market was dull, as the right hon. Gentleman could tell him that the Bill ought to pass because Great Western shares had risen in value. He would now read what the Spectator newspaper said upon this subject, and he thought that the opinions of a calm, disinterested and enlightened observer was entitled to attention, [The hon. Member proceeded to read an extract from the Spectator newspaper, in which the writer stated that 56,000,000l. of railway property would be subject to the operation of this Bill, and said that if the 643 projectors of those railways could have anticipated that regulations of this sort would be adopted, few, perhaps, of the present railways would have been executed.] The Bill before the House had two great objects,—one to give the Government a right of revision, and the other to invest it with a right to purchase. [Mr. Gladstone: The Bill gives the Parliament, and not the Government, the right to purchase.] The remark of the right hon. Gentleman was wide of the argument which he was about to sustain. He would put a case, and suppose that in the year 1834 the Government of that day had brought forward the Poor Law Amendment Bill, with all its machinery complete, with the exception of giving a power to levy money for the poor-rates, and had called upon the House to pass that Bill, which would, to all intents and purposes, be wholly inoperative and dormant; but suppose that, in the following year, the Government had come down to the House, and by one vote obtained the power of levying a poor-rate, in that case the whole of the dormant machinery of the Poor Law Bill would have been at once called into action. When the Government, therefore, brought forward the present Bill, he contended that a most important step towards an act of legislation of the nature he had pointed out had been taken. Whether that step was for good or bad, if the Bill were passed, the country would be upon the threshold of the experiment to which he had referred. All that would then be necessary to complete it would be, for the Minister to come down on a supply night with an estimate ready prepared for the purchase of a railway, and to tell his supporters that the question was one upon which the Government staked its existence. He made these observations without any reference to recent events; he spoke from a conviction that he was only anticipating the course that would be followed, and he asserted, that in the contingency to which he had referred, the Government would have the unlimited power of purchase, and that it would, moreover, always, in its supporters there, secure an advantage in dealing with every particular case which no individual Railway Company could ever hope to have. In many cases it was obvious that they would have a very large majority, and that an important decision would be placed at the peril of a single vote of that House, proposed in Committee by the Government, upon an estimate, and only opposed by a slender and divided opposition 644 on the part of individual Members not immediately personally concerned. If once, under such circumstances, they let the Board of Trade open the door to all the power and patronage which would follow, there would be no knowing where the Government would stop. No doubt they were fully alive to their interest. It was remarkable that not only the present President of the Board of Trade, but also the ex-President, influenced no doubt by old official feeling, were both the most strenuous advocates of the measure. He said that under such circumstances it would be most dangerous to pass any measure of this sort upon which they had not at least many months to deliberate. They talked of "monopoly." It was obvious that all Companies with a large amount of capital were difficult to compete with; and it was also obvious, that with respect to any sort of competition with them there was always a tendency to compromise on the part of the rival interests. The Water Companies of the metropolis were an instance of this. They always began by quarrelling with each other, and, as a shareholder had remarked to him the other day, they invariably terminated their squabbles by some arrangement injurious to the public; but still competition was the clear remedy of all such grievances. Why were the charges, for instance, of the London Dock Company so reasonable? Because they knew that if their charges were excessive, there was a certain margin of profit which would induce other Companies to embark in rival speculations. If Parliament found that in the case of a railway—the Grand Junction, for instance—a Company was charging inordinate fares, it was competent for Parliament and the Government to interfere with a view to favour by its sanction some competing line. What would be the consequence? Long before the new line was completed, the old one, most probably, would adopt an equitable scale of charges. The argument of monopoly, therefore, was a bugbear, and afforded no reason for the introduction of such a Bill as this. But, further—he thought parts of the Bill likely to operate injuriously. Let it be recollected that a Government might, under this Bill, take a railway into its own hands, reduce its charges until it became unprofitable, and then throw it back, a ruined property, upon the hands of its former managers. Again, a railway at its outset might perhaps be so restricted that it would only pay a dividend of 2 per cent., but 645 at the expiration of a certain time, in consequence of a confluence of branch lines, and from other causes, it might become profitable. Nevertheless, the Government, under this Bill, might take the line into their own hands at the original value, and, perhaps, in a time of great and general depreciation in the securities might throw a number of its shares upon the money-market, to the injury of numerous individual interests. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, said he would sooner hear the Gracchi talk of sedition than railway proprietors talk of competition; but he (Mr. Colquhoun) would sooner hear the homilies which Robespierre used to deliver on religion than the Government proposing schemes to take mercantile enterprises into their own hands. The experiment had been tried over and over again; and, from the King of Holland, who turned sugar dealer, to our own Government, it had only proved this, that Governments had no business to interfere in mercantile concerns. Mr. Laing, in his examination before the Committee, stated his opinion that where railways were profitable concerns, the Government might purchase them; and from that the House was left to infer how very sanguine an opinion of profit the Board of Trade entertained upon this subject. But Captain Lawes proposed that the Government should buy up all the railways in the country, saying there would be great economy in the management and great saving of expense, and he calculated that saving at 25 per cent., but afterwards reduced it to 10 per cent. Then the same Gentleman seemed to be afraid that some parts of the country would have no railway communication at all unless the Government took it in hand; but that was in the face of the most notorious fact, that in Belgium they were obliged to travel immense circuits because the Government ran their lines only through those parts of the country that were profitable, and left the other parts untouched, but which private enterprise would enter and be satisfied with a moderate profit. Captain Lawes also proposed, that private Companies should construct the railways, and then the Government should step in and purchase them. In answer to a question from the right hon. Gentleman the late President of the Board of Trade, whether he thought that ultimately all railways would come into the hands of Government, his answer was—"Quite so." And when the 646 right hon. Gentleman further asked him whether he thought there would be a sufficient inducement for private parties to make these railways if they were allowed to keep them for a continuance in their hands, his answer was to the same effect. Such was the theory of that hon. Gentleman. It must be remembered that Railway Companies started at a time when all landed proprietors were strongly opposed to them—when all had a perfect dread of railways being near their property; and then let them consider the expense of railways in this country as compared with those of Belgium and France. In those countries, if they wished to run a line of railway across the kingdom, they could do it with no other expense than that of construction; but, in this country, they were obliged to go backwards and forwards and take the most extensive lines to avoid various estates. It was quite obvious that Railway Companies were put to great expense by that process, and they must remember likewise that, fourteen or fifteen years ago, they had not the same things which they now have in their favour. Why, the Eastern Counties Railway cost us much as 10,000l. a-mile for the purchase of land, in consequence of the enormous sacrifices they were obliged to make to the proprietors of land through which the railroad ran. Parliament had entailed great expenses upon these Companies, and yet they would now turn round upon them, and say, "You have incurred a vast expense of 32,000l. a-mile on the average (the cost in Belgium being only 7,000l. a-mile), and now we will take them into out own management." To say that, was to forget the elements of expense which they themselves had occasioned by their own Parliamentary arrangements. Let them remember, too, that in the United States railways did not cost more than 4,000l. a-mile, and yet with our enormous expense of construction, our fares on goods and passengers were lower than those which were charged in the United States. It was the same in the case of the French and Belgian railways; and yet they proposed to substitute for the present system a Government system, which they said was wise and cheap. The hon. Members for Finsbury and Coventry said, by this measure they would obtain public economy find public advantage. But had those hon. Members looked into the state of things in Belgium? In that country the capital for making the railroads was borrowed at 4 per cent. and 647 they received only a dividend of 2½ per cent.; the other 1½ per cent being made up by public taxation. If their railways had cost the same as ours, then they would have received only 1½ per cent., and the other 2½ per cent. must have been made up by a tax upon the public. Suppose that system had been followed here when railways were first made, the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have had to ask of the House a vote of 2,000,000l. to make up the deficit in the railway communications of England, and the public would have been taxed to that amount, in order to obtain that economy of fares which some hon. Gentlemen so anxiously sought for. Upon those grounds he objected to this Bill; and, if it were carried, he could only anticipate that which they had all condemned—a competition between the Government and private companies so unfair, so intolerable, so ruinous, to railways, so unjust to the public in the long run, so unfair to all classes, so full of patronage, corruption, jobbing, and mischief, that he could not consent to give any other vote than the most direct negative to the second reading of this Bill.
§ Mr. Wallace
said, that when he looked to the railway map and saw how England was networked over, and that the same thing was fast extending in Scotland, he thought the time was come when Parliament ought to interfere, and he gave the Government every praise for having boldly interfered by introducing this measure. He would refer to statements, which would show at what expense third class passengers were conveyed, and he believed the House would then see how necessary it was that some changes in the present system should be made in respect of that class of passengers. He found the following remarks on this subject, in that influential journal, The Times. [The hon. Member read several extracts from the article to which he alluded, and which were to this effect:—That communications had been received from several correspondents, imploring the conductors of The Times to advocate the cause of the poorer class of railway travellers; that it appeared that the directors of all the great lines of railway were as parsimonious as they could be in providing accommodation for the passengers by third class trains; and that this parsimoniousness was manifested in a greater degree on the Great Western Railway than on any other line. After referring to several statements as to the time occupied in performing 648 journeys by third class trains, the article stated, that unless those facts were satisfactorily explained, the result must be to bring such undertakings within the managerial scope of the Board of Trade.] Much had been said of the influence exercised by public opinion in bringing Railway Companies to their senses; but, although these remarks appeared in The Times in the early part of last winter, no change had taken place. He found from Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper, that on the Birmingham and Gloucester Railway third class passengers were not provided with seats, nor was luggage allowed to be placed in the third class carriages, lest it should be used for seats; while the Manchester and Leeds Railway Company thrust goods of every description into the third class carriages, leaving the passengers to shift for themselves. He could show the House that there was a systematic plan of conveying second and third class passengers for a certain distance on railways, and then of "dropping" them, in order to induce them to proceed by first class carriages. [An hon. Member moved, that the House be counted, but it being found that more than forty Members were present, the business proceeded.] He would now state to the House the rate of fares for 100 miles, charged by several Railway Companies for third class passengers. On the Liverpool and Manchester Railway the fares were 16s. 8d. per 100 miles; on the London and Birmingham Railway, 12s. 8d,; on the Great Western, 10s. 4d.; on the Dublin and Kingstown, 5s. 6d.; on the Manchester and Leeds, 8s. 4d.; and on the Glasgow and Greenock, 2s. 3d. The rate per mile by the third class carriages, was, on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, eight farthings; on the North Union, seven farthings; on the Newcastle and Carlisle, seven farthings; on the Grand Junction, seven farthings; on the London and Birmingham, six farthings; on the Eastern Counties, six farthings; on the North Midland, six farthings; on the Lancaster and Preston, six farthings; on the London and Blackwall, four farthings; London and Greenwich, four farthings; Midland Counties, four farthings; South Eastern, three farthings; Edinburgh and Glasgow, three farthings; and the Glasgow and Greenock, one farthing. He hoped that the working men of this country would not cease to petition Parliament until they obtained safe, and comfortable, and cheap conveyance by railways, and were allowed 649 to take with them a reasonable quantity of luggage. Hon. Gentlemen would see, from the list he had read, that on the Glasgow and Greenock Railway third class passengers were conveyed at the rate of one farthing per mile; and that Company found that their conveyance was attended with so little expense that they expressed their pleasure that it was in their power to do a great amount of good, while they were obtaining a return for their capital; and intimated that they would be glad to convey a much larger number of passengers at the rate of a farthing per head per mile. He wished to call the attention of the House to the course which had been; adopted by the Liverpool and Manchester Railway Company. That line of railway was opened in 1830, and its extent was thirty miles. In the first instance the first class fare was 5s.; it was then raised to 6s.; and at the present time it was 7s. The second class fare, when the railway was opened, was 3s. 6d.; it was afterwards raised to 4s. 6d., and now it was 5s. Such was the liberality of the Directors of that Company that there was not a third class train running between Liverpool and Manchester. The working classes might travel between Glasgow and Greenock at the rate of a farthing a mile, while between Liverpool and Manchester, they were compelled to pay 2d. a mile. He found that two of the witnesses who gave evidence before the Committee on whose Report this Bill was founded—Mr. Baxendale and Captain Lawes—had recommended the conveyance of large numbers at low fares in preference to the conveyance of small numbers at high prices. He (Mr. Wallace) fully coincided in that opinion; and it was with a view to promote competition that he gave his support to this Bill. He was decidedly in favour of competing lines; and he could not conceive how any objection could be entertained to such competition. He thought the fair remunerating return that might be expected by railway proprietors for their capital was 6 or 7 per cent. The proprietors of the Liverpool line, however, received 12 per cent, and they had laid out large sums on the erection of expensive hotels, which were of no service whatever to the poorer classes of passengers, and for the support of which they ought not to be called upon to pay. He thought no reason could be shown why they should not have a competing line of railway to Liverpool. He believed that in many cases it was so contrived that trains 650 on the connecting lines between different railways should not meet at the stations; and the consequence frequently was, that unless the second and third class passengers chose to pay first class fares, they were subjected to considerable delay. He understood that this practice prevailed on the Dover and Folkstone line. He believed, also, that a systematic opposition had been adopted to the conveyance of the mails at the cheapest rate, and in the most expeditious manner. In 1837, a Committee sat on this subject. He, and if he was not mistaken, the noble Lord opposite (Lord G. Somerset), sat upon that Committee. The Committee to which he referred came to the conclusion that it was expedient that power should be given to the Post Office authorities to run their own engines on any railway, with a train carrying a limited number of passengers, without being subject to the payment of tolls. He was always an advocate of that system. He considered it necessary, in order to prevent any abuse, that thy profits derived to railways with respect to the mails should to subject to proper control. If he had any complaint to find with the Bill, it arose from the circumstance of the measure not going half far enough. He would wish the Bill to deal immediately with existing railways. He should be glad to see the Bill extended, taking by valuation any line of railway, as they did other species of property. He should like to see the experiment tried on the railway between London and Liverpool, or between London and Dover. He had no particular predilection as to which. He should have no objection if the Government made a line for themselves, in order to facilitate the communication between England and Ireland. He would support any one of these plans, if brought forward immediately. He believed that the matter had been brought under consideration in a manner calculated to excite the notice of the country. He did not care whether the railways were placed under the control of the Board of Trade, or any other Board, he did not care by what name they called it. He trusted soon to see the present system altered for one more consonant with the feelings of the country. He should give his cordial support to the present Bill.
§ Mr. C. Buller
wished to state the grounds upon which he should give his decisive opposition to the Bill. Having formerly expressed sin opinion that railways might become subject to general management, and the altered state of circumstances 651 having induced him to come to a different conclusion, it would not become him to speak with asperity of those who still entertained that opinion. Still he must remark upon the extraordinary tone of imputation towards others, and of self-laudation as regarded the Government, which had been assumed by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, in his last address to the House. It would appear from that speech as if the opposition to the Bill had been got up with the most basely interested motives by a considerable number of Railway Proprietors in that House, and by their parliamentary agents, whom the right hon. Gentleman appeared to regard as his most formidable opponents, and that the only virtuous and patriotic body concerned was the Government, who were solely actuated by that which the right hon. Baronet sometimes told the House was the only consideration that entered into his mind—"a sense of duty"—and that they stepped forward now only to protect the public against a mass of interested parties leagued against them. He (Mr. C. Buller) had heard a good deal of this tone of self-laudation on the part of Her Majesty's Ministers, and he was sick of it. Even if the present Government were right in stating themselves to be in opposition to private interests against the public good, still he could not help contrasting their present conduct with that during their ten years of opposition. He could not share in those feelings of animosity and suspicion towards Railway Proprietors which were so readily avowed by some hon. Gentlemen. He could not view them as public enemies, as the right hon. Gentleman assumed them to be. Whenever he (Mr. C. Buller) travelled by a railway in by far the most comfortable public carriage he had ever travelled in, at three times the rate of speed that had ever been attained on a common road, and at the same rate of expense that used to be changed in a stage couch, he could not but think that Railway Companies had done good service to the country, and deserved respect and thanks. It would not be well rashly to interfere with so great a benefit as the railway system. It was undoubtedly the greatest addition to the comfort and convenience of the people that had ever taken place in our times. It was very easy for the hon. Member for Greenock to retail stories against Railway Directors, or particular shareholders. No doubt there were evils in the management of the present 652 system, but were there no evils in the system that was proposed to be substituted? He regarded those evils as so great, that it behoved the House to consider the subject attentively, before they sanctioned any interference. But his great objection was, the being called upon to legislate upon such a subject in such a hurry. Were they to throw aside all considerations of the necessity for mature deliberation and full information before deciding upon interfering with a very important interest? Were they to throw aside these considerations, and adopt any plan which, at this period of the Session, the Government might choose to put forth? There had been, he admitted, other important subjects sufficient to occupy the attention of Parliament; but it had never entered his head that the Government would bring forward such a Bill for the first time in July, founded upon five Committee reports, and call upon the House to give their assent to it. When the provisions of the Bill were considered, it would be found they went the entire length of countervailing one of the great systems upon which commercial affairs had been conducted, by substituting Government for private management; and it established interference with private property to an extent unprecedented in legislation. Now, it might be possible that this was required, but he advised that they should not enter upon the subject hastily. Let the question be placed fully and fairly before the public. Let public discussion be observed, and the opinions of practical men taken, and if Government changes were necessary, let them be made after due deliberation. At the first sight, he had a great objection to the Bill, because it appeared to him to be contrary to all our habits and institutions, and not generally in accordance with the spirit of an usage, that undertakings hitherto carried on by private enterprise should be taken up by the Government. The right hon. Gentleman had talked of the inoperative nature of the Bill, but it could not be supposed that the Bill had been so drawn as to be clogged with inoperative Clauses. The first Clause rendered the tolls of future railways liable to revision. Then there was the 16th, which is a most remarkable Clause, inasmuch as it not only allowed a general notice to be given that railways might be purchased at the end of fifteen years, but it stated in whom the property was to vest—it was to vest in the Crown. But above all, there was the 38th 653 Clause, which was exceedingly stringent, and by which the Government was to get the control over all existing railroads as well as those hereafter to be made. The public were quite right in the interpretation that had been put upon this Bill, that it laid the foundation of a system by which Government were to take a great portion of the railways into their own hands, and not only that, but the 38th Clause gave the Government the power to make contracts with existing railroads, for it enacted that itShall be lawful for any Railway Company to enter into contracts or agreements on behalf of the Company with the Lords of the said Committee, binding the Company to such terms as may be agreed upon with the Lords of the said Committee, either in regard to subjecting the Company to all or any of the provisions of this Act, or to lowering fares, or affording additional accommodation, or to giving security for the completion of future undertakings, or to any other thing whatever agreed upon between the said Company, and the Lords of the said Committee.Couple that Clause with the power of revision, and with the fact, that whenever an existing Railway Company had to apply to Parliament for an increase of power, or for extension of their line, they were subject to the revision of Parliament. Now what was this Clause, but a power to the Company to enter into agreements with the Lords of the Treasury, and place the power in the Board of Trade, instead of in Parliament? The hon. and learned Gentleman then proceeded to contend that a Government interference with these matters was contrary to our habits, and adverse to that system under which this country had prospered beyond all the world. It was truly extraordinary that at this day it should be necessary for any one to stand up in the House of Commons to vindicate the advantage of private enterprise in public works over Government management of them. It now seemed, however, that that maxim was contrary to the opinion of Her Majesty's Government, and he was bound to say, that they had shown a great itch for meddling in such matters. He did not wonder that his right hon. Friend, the ex-President of the Board of Trade, agreed with the right hon. Gentleman who now filled that post, for it seemed necessarily inherent in that office to believe that no affairs could be properly conducted, except under the official red-tape system. What public undertaking was there which had not been better carried out by private enterprise than by a Government? 654 Our turnpike roads were formed by private enterprise, while those of France were made by the Government, and the consequence was that ours were far superior. The posting system in France was in the hands of Government—was it equal to ours? The lighting of towns in England was done by private associations, and was the lighting of any towns comparable to ours? Then there was that great system of canals with which this country was intersected; those were not formed by the Government, but by private individuals. Even the buoying and lighting our coasts was not left to the Government, but was done by the Corporation of the Trinity House. That great work the Bedford Level was a work of private enterprise, and not of a Government. Then how had the Empire itself been extended by private exertion? The United States were not planted by the efforts of a Government, but of private individuals. If those things were done in the old times by our ancestors, it was not now that we were going to put ourselves in leading-strings under a Government, and throw aside all those principles under which the country had so greatly flourished. [Lord Stanley, we believe, here suggested voluntary emigration.] The noble Lord boasted of this wonderful voluntary emigration as carried on under the auspices of the Government, but it was to be questioned whether it would produce effects like the settlement of America. [Lord Stanley had alluded to private enterprise.] He hoped the noble Lord would apply that principle to railways. He could not but feel surprised at the conduct of the hon. Member for Grcenock—that he, who had all his life attacked that one public department which pretended to be the carrier for the public—he who had attacked one Postmaster General after another, only diversifying his censure by representing their various shades of incompetency—that he should come forward and desire to place Railway Companies under the management of a public officer similar to the Postmaster General, was indeed astonishing. Now, if this Post Office, for example, had been a matter of private competition, or managed by private individuals, could it be believed that it could have been conducted so inefficiently as it had been? But there were worse departments than the Post Office. Look at the Admiralty, the last, body to adopt any marine improvements, who retained their prejudices against steamers after they had been adopted by everybody 655 else, and persisted in retaining their 0-gun brigs, that were called coffins, not only from their external appearance, but from their carrying their passengers sooner or later to an untimely grave. Why the packets established by private enterprise crossed the Atlantic in a third of the time occupied by the vessels the Admiralty persisted in employing. But it was thought by some that if this Government interference with railways was established, the public interest would be taken care of; and the hon. Member for Greenock seemed to imagine that all the poor people would be carried at the rate of a farthing a mile. But with the experience we had had of Government, did it appear that there was that disposition to cheapness on their part? Look at the old mail-coaches, for example. For a long time, even when they were the worst coaches on the road, they were the highest priced. He would take another instance; you have Government packets from Calais to Dover, where the passage was the shortest across the Channel, the passage from Dover to Boulogne being three or four miles farther; but the packets going to Boulogne were cheaper than those going to Calais. Private steamers from London to Boulogne charged a less price than the Government packets from Calais to Dover. He was not accustomed to stand up in that House and recklessly, and without reason, applaud the wisdom of our ancestors. He did not say that everything they did was right, but neither did he foolishly say that everything they did was wrong; but if they could discover that the principles upon which this country had hitherto acted were sound and consonant with reason and justice, they should not lightly throw them aside for the sake of a system which had been as yet untried. Whenever they put a great branch of the public business into the hands of the Government there was ever found an apathy and a resistance to improvement, and, above all, great political jobbing. He conceived, that past experience was by no means calculated to incline them to transfer the management of these great undertakings from private enterprise to Governmental management. He, however, acknowledged that this was not the chief reason why he objected to the present measure. His main reason for opposing the system of centralization was, because he considered it to be inconsistent with the best characteristics of our national character. The English were a self-relying, a self-acting people. They were not accustomed 656 to look to the Government for their bread, or to turn to them in every emergency. The system of centralization tended to make men machines instead of making them powers; it made them slaves instead of freemen. It was alleged as a powerful argument in favour of this Bill, that it was a great measure of interference on behalf of the poor of this country. They were told that by the 25th Clause a step was, for the first time, taken to secure a cheap conveyance for the poor. Now, he was exceedingly delighted to see such a course taken as this. It was perfectly in accordance with his own principles that the Government should in such matters as this interfere for the benefit of the poor, and to secure to them some of the benefits arising from the civilization and improvement of modern times; but he must own that he was not prepared for any Government proposing to provide a benefit for the poor in such a manner as this. If the House came forward and said that the Government should provide a conveyance for the poor man, he could understand it, because he should suppose that it would be at the expense of the public; but what did this generous Bill do? It provided for the poor man at the expense of the railway proprietors. A railway might be productive, or it might be wholly unproductive, and, indeed, might be carried on at a great loss, but still the proprietors were always to be taxed for the benefit of a poor man. This was not a system worthy of the legislation of this country. If it was intended to provide for the benefit of the poor, the country ought to do it at their own expense, and not at the expense of private individuals. But, in truth, he did not understand how this Clause in the Bill was to work. How was this distinction between the rich and the poor to be drawn? Whenever the present railways made the third class at all comfortable, what was the consequence? Why, a great many Gentlemen travelled in that class. There could be no provision made which could secure exclusively a benefit of this kind to poor men. He should like to ask a question, which might be considered as rather having a personal relation to himself, and Gentlemen might suppose that he was thinking more of himself than of the great object of this debate, by asking it; but still he should like to ask the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department, who was the "Jack Cade" now? It was not proposed in the Factory Bill that the master 657 manufacturers should pay the same rate of wages for ten hours labour as had been paid before for twelve. Those who advocated that measure, did not say that their benevolence should be at the expense of the masters; but that it should be borne either by the poor themselves, or by the public, by a proportionate increase in the price of goods. He must say that the proposition contained in this Clause, came with an ill-grace from the men who charged the advocates of the Factories Bill with being the Jack Cades of the present time. He (Mr. C. Buller) always thought that the charge against Jack Cade was, that he endeavoured to settle the price of all commodities, and that he determined to cheapen the quartern loaf and the barrel of beer. But what did the Government of this day do—they who raised the cry of Jack Cade against the supporters of the Factory Bill? Why, they came forward and proposed to cheapen the cost of conveyance of the poor man, not at the expense of the public, but at the cost of private individuals. He would admit that it was an exceedingly right thing that the Government should provide for the cheap conveyance of the poorer classes of the people; but those who proposed to limit the hours of labour ought not to be met with the cry of "Jack Cade," by the Government who brought forward such an extreme proposition as that contained in the 25th Clause of this Bill. The tendency of the Bill would be rather to encourage than suppress the present railway monopoly, for what must be its effect? For some time to come, it must uphold the monopolies of the existing railways. Take the railway in which he himself was most interested, the Great Western Railway. It had at the present moment a perfect monopoly, as far as it could have it, into the county of Devon; it had a monopoly of conveyance to Exeter. Now, what was the security which the country possessed against that monopoly becoming oppressive? It was this, that the South Western Railway ran down to Southampton, and then there was a good coast line from Southampton to Exeter. Now, it the Great Western should abuse the powers it possessed, and should attempt to extort enormous profits from the public, that would immediately lead to the construction of a competing line, and thereby bring down the charges to a level with the ordinary profits on capital. Nothing could be effected by the Bill in the way of preventing the existing monopoly, but, on the 658 contrary, it would tend to uphold that monopoly by preventing the formation of competing lines. There was another very important reason why the House should not interfere, with the management of railways at this particular moment, and that was, that there was a great prospect of a material change being made in the system of working railways. By a very able Report of some of the most eminent engineers, it was admitted that atmospheric railways were perfectly practicable. The plan advocated by them had received the sanction of the highest practical and philosophical authority in Europe—M. Arago. Now, if that plan should be adopted, and should succeed, the whole system of railways would be altered, and henceforth, where-ever you could get a turnpike road, you might have a railway. Was the House then prepared, while having before them the prospect of such a contingent and possible change, on the pretence of protecting the public, to impose such restrictions on the future improvement of railways, as should prevent so great a benefit resulting to the country? The whole object of the Bill seemed to be to prevent improvements on existing railways, and to prevent the formation of new ones. The existing railways would not like to be brought under this Act. They would not be able to ask for new powers or make a new branch line without bringing themselves under this Act. He trusted he had not occupied too much of the time of the House in bringing these views under their notice. He thought he had addressed to the House arguments of sufficient weight to induce them to feel that they ought, at least, to pause before they adopted a Bill which would irrevocably abolish the present system of railway management. He believed that the mischiefs stated to result from the monopoly of railways were exceedingly hypothetical. The present system was very different from what it was five or six years ago. Then there existed only certain main lines of railway, but now the phrase was, that the whole country was covered with a net-work of these railways. That of itself was a safeguard against any of the evils of monopoly. What he contended for, therefore, was, that the House ought not by the adoption of this Bill, to deprive the public of that safeguard until they were assured upon the best authority, and from the fullest information and discussion, that they had hit upon some definitive plan that should secure to the country 659 the good management, the further improvement, and the cheapness of railways and railway travelling. He begged at the same time to be understood that he perfectly adopted the principle that railways should be under the control of the Legislature. Certainly subject to that control which was imposed by law. He never heard that trade of any kind was to be free from law altogether. But his great difference from the advocates of this measure was this—adopt, if you please, regulations, but do so by legislation, and not by transferring the power of the Legislature to the Executive Government. Bring forward your plan. Surely legislation on such a subject as this deserved the consideration of one recess—the discussion of one Session. Let there be a Bill brought forward next Session, in which should be given in a legislative form the alterations and restrictions it was the wish of the Government to put on railways. To any such measure as that he (Mr. C. Buller) would give his most serious consideration, and should be prepared to adopt whatever might appear necessary to protect the public. But what he asked the House not to do was, not in a hurry to press such a Bill as this, which relieved the House from the trouble of legislation altogether, and handed over the entire control and management of railways to the Executive Government.
Mr. S. Wortley
wished to guard himself, at the outset, from being supposed to acquiesce in the assumptions of hon. Gentlemen who opposed the Bill as to the likelihood of any injury to private enterprise of the value of which he was thoroughly sensible. They were not, however, called upon to decide whether these undertakings should be carried on by the Government or by private parties. All that was asked was that Parliament should reserve the option of dealing with such undertakings in future; and this seemed as just as it was prudent: but, then, it was said, if this were all, why have a whole machinery of Clauses? To this the right hon. the President of the Board of Trade had truly answered, that if any words could be devised by which the immediate operation of the measure should be excluded, and a mere reservation alone secured, he would adopt them. To affirm merely, that Parliament should have the power hereafter of dealing with the matter would be nugatory; as Parliamentary 660 powers could not be limited by the words of particular statutes. The object of the Clauses in this Bill was not to enact any plan, but to pledge Parliament to the railways that such should be the utmost extent to which they would be dealt with. If he thought that this Bill implied one-half or one-tenth part of the assumptions made by Gentlemen who opposed it this evening, he should have been one of the foremost to obstruct its progress; but because he believed there had been a total misconstruction of the purport of the Bill, and because he thought the proposal was one which he could vote for without any injustice to these parties, he gave his assent to the second reading. Amongst other assumptions, gentlemen took it for granted that, supposing this plan to be sanctioned by Parliament at a future time, it must not only be used to protect the public in individual cases, but must necessarily be part of a great and extensive system by which the whole management of railways would be undertaken by the Government. He admitted no such consequence; and if he did, he must say, as far as the management of railways was concerned, that, as at present advised, if he should have the honour of a seat in the House fifteen years hence, when this subject should come to be discussed, he should heartily join in opposing any proposal to place the management of railways in the hands of the Government. But it was not necessary to go that length; it was by no means necessary that the powers given by this Bill should be brought into general operation, and, indeed, they could not be brought into general operation. Under extreme circumstances of mismanagement it might perhaps be possible to make such an arrangement as was made in France—viz., Government to have the power of purchasing the line, and allowing private enterprize to manage it; but he pronounced no opinion as to the merits of such a proceeding. He did not think it unjust that Parliament should reserve the right of considering such questions without being fettered by the imputation of having entered into pledges with the railways. It was far from his wish to do anything which might seem like ill-will to railways. He entertained a strong sense of the benefits conferred by railways, and said it was the bounden duty of the House to consider the advantages which had been derived from them for a long series 661 of years. He said, moreover, that considering the extensive responsibility under which railways were carried on, it seemed wonderful how little cause there had been for complaints. We had, however, arrived at a time at which a great portion of the necessary communication by railway had already been constructed; the House was so situated as to railways, which had been a length of time in operation, that it was compelled to admit the injustice of proceeding to interfere with them; they were left out of consideration, and that being the case, when so much activity was exhibited in the multiplication of these enterprizes, some steps ought to be taken to prevent the House being fettered in like manner at future periods. Notwithstanding his intention to support the Bill, he could not say that he had looked at it altogether without apprehension. There were one or two Clauses of doubtful import, which would require some discussion, but he did not hold that to be a reason for refusing to assent to the second reading. He had the greatest doubts of the policy of that part relating to the guarantees. It was impossible to deny that you were bound to give the railways some security if you undertook to interfere with them for the public benefit. Suppose a case in which a guarantee was given by a railway, and the profits fell below the point at which the guarantee was given, what security would the public have for the due management of the railway? You entirely took away all motive for good management. The second Clause also appeared to be involved in some difficulty. With the best disposition to the measure, with no wish to commit anything approaching to injustice, without any desire definitively to sanction such a system of putting railways into the hands of Government, he thought himself fully justified in voting for the second reading of this Bill.
§ Mr. Gisborne
The right hon. Gentlemen opposite must feel themselves thankful to those hon. Members who persisted in moving the adjournment of the debate, inasmuch as had the debate concluded on Tuesday night, the House would not have been favoured with the clear and satisfactory statement which the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Colquhoun) had favoured them with. He was only sorry that most of it had been delivered in the absence of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of 662 Trade. That speech clearly proved that the subject had not been exhausted. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman, in moving the second reading of the Bill, he must say, was the most singular he had ever heard delivered by a Cabinet Minister in introducing to the House a purely commercial subject. The right hon. Gentleman had not made it a mere matter of detail, as one might have expected. He introduced the measure in a slashing speech, hitting right and left. He attacked every side from which he expected opposition. He said some of the opponents of the measure were incapable of understanding it, while, on the other hand, he imputed illegitimate and improper motives to others. The speech, although no doubt a brilliant and punishing one, was one altogether unexpected by him from such a quarter, and unless his senses had convinced him to the contrary, he would have thought that the speech came from the Colonial Office, although the measure belonged to that of the Board of Trade. The Motion which he had made previous to entering upon that debate must have been a god-send to the right hon. Baronet, because it afforded him room for much declamation. He had to complain of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, as well as of the right hon. Baronet at the head of Her Majesty's Government, inasmuch as that although he had taken an opportunity of denying that he made that Motion on the suggestion of anyone but that of his own mind, still in their declamatory speeches they talked of it as an attempt to stifle all discussion on the part of persons connected with railways. Indeed, Her Majesty's Government were in the habit of throwing out imputations upon the motives of their opponents—even on the Bank Charter Bill the right hon. Baronet charged the hon. Member for Lambeth and himself; indeed he charged every one who differed from him in any degree with entertaining views favourable to nonconvertibility; whatever they said, however strongly they denied it, still the right hon. Baronet insisted that they had an eye to nonconvertibility. The fact seemed to be, that the Government had taken to the manufacture of quack medicines, in the shape of Bank Charter and Railway Bills, and it was a well-established fact, that a person could not give greater offence to a quack than by a refusal to swallow his medicine. So 663 it seemed to be with the right hon. Baronet. The House was as yet completely in the dark in respect of the proceedings before the Railway Committee, and as an humble Member of it, he should feel it his duty to lay before them a short account of its secret history. Before entering upon the subject, he begged it to be distinctly understood that he made no charge against the manner in which the right hon. Gentleman conducted the proceedings before it; but the right hon. Gentleman went into the Committee, pregnant, as he thought, with a great scheme. The right hon. Gentleman there found that he laboured under a mistake; but being determined to do something, not at all to his surprise, the right hon. Gentleman came forward with the little abortion on the Table. The right hon. Gentleman entered the Committee full of what he called a "hypothetical outline," which he fully intended to cram down their throats. The whole of the evidence given during the first fourteen days of the sittings of the Committee related to nothing but the hypothetical arrangement. The right hon. Gentleman dressed his fly very skilfully, and first of all drew it before the eyes of Mr. Glyn, the Chairman of the London and Birmingham Railway Company, and he was indeed surprised to see Mr. Glyn snap at such clumsy bait. He next tried his gaudy fly upon Mr. Swift and Mr. Saunders; but they were very cautious, and refused to take it. It was then found to be no more than an Indian-rubber body with gauze wings. But when Mr. Hudson came the right hon. Gentleman found out that he was labouring under a sad mistake. That Gentleman rebelled strongly against the offer of the right hon. Gentleman, and would not be caught at any price. The result of all was, that the hypothetical outline was quite blown, and the right hon. Gentleman was obliged to abandon it; still he was not willing to come out of so laborious a Committee without some result, and, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman had adopted that small measure which he wished to force the House to accept. Undoubtedly the opponents of the measure had much to contend against, inasmuch as it was supported by the late as well as the present President of the Board of Trade; but it was remarkable that one of those right hon. Gentlemen said the power of purchase was the main and most important provision of the Bill, 664 and he looked on the power of revision as secondary to the other. While on the other hand the other right hon. Gentleman said the revision was the most important matter, and he did not attach much importance to the power of purchase. He would apply a test, and he thought a very fair one. Suppose that some fifteen years ago there had happened to have existed a President of the Board of Trade who was gifted with the intelligence and ability of both of these right hon. Gentlemen. Suppose that he had then got such a Bill as they were discussing enacted, and that its provisions were then coming into operation, what use could they possibly make of them? The first Clause gave power to revise the fares upon railways. Now how would they proceed to apply it to existing railways. The power did not apply until the Company were dividing clear profits to the amount of 10 per cent. Now take the London and Birmingham line—they were too cautious ever to divide more than 9l. 19s., and they would not keep the profits down by reducing the fares. No, they would refuse that traffic which was most inconvenient to them. In fact the Clause was in operation at that moment—all coal and minerals were refused on the Birmingham line. The midland consolidated lines carried coal at ¾d. per ton per mile. They carried large quantities even up to Rugby, where they joined the Birmingham, but there it stopped so far as railway was concerned—it had then to be put on canals because the Birmingham Company by a prohibitory tariff, prevented it going further. And acting as the Directors of a commercial company, they acted perfectly right. They would divide their 10 per cent. without the traffic, and it would be indiscreet to do more; why then should they dirty their hands with carrying coals. But suppose the Clause to be in force, how would they deal with them? [An hon. Member: Buy them up.] He would come up to that soon. He was then considering the revision Clause. They could not compel the Company to start in the coal trade. An hon. Member said purchase the railway. Was there one man in the kingdom who was fit to be allowed to walk about, who could believe that the Government could purchase even a single one of the numerous railways in existence? To use a homely phrase which fell from one of the witnesses, the power 665 of purchasing was all gammon. He said that no Member could give a satisfactory vote upon that Bill, unless he had read through the whole of the evidence which related to the extent to which the Government would interfere. Revision, to be good for anything, must mean the taking of the whole management of the railways into the bands of the Government. He did not doubt the propriety of the course on the point of patronage, nor did he doubt their power of management; his objection was that as under the present system we had in every part of the country parties making all kinds of improvements under the stimulus of private interest, he feared that under the Government those improvements would not only cease, but they might retrograde, which he should consider one of the worst calamities which could befal the country. He repudiated one saying of the right hon. Gentleman, that competition would afford no protection to the public. That was a dangerous doctrine to lay down. Look at the Manchester and Liverpool Railway. They had always refused to run any third-class carriages. A competing line there, would have made them much more accommodating to the public. Parliament ought to say they were willing to grant any line wherever a necessity was shown for it. He felt confident that no great good would result to the public from that part of the Bill which related to competition. The Bill was supported by the hon. and gallant Member for Lincoln, who was the decided enemy of all railways; and there were other hon. Gentlemen who said that Railway Companies were very overbearing bodies. But he asked hon. Members to look to the dimensions of that Bill. What did it do? Why, as regarded all existing railways, it did nothing whatever with respect to purchase or supervision. And what was it to do with respect to future railways? Why, for the next fifteen years, it would leave them in exactly the same condition in which they would be placed if no such measure were ever to be enacted. Our grand-children, or our grand-nephews, might derive benefit from that Bill; but for fifteen years after the 1st of January next it would be totally inoperative. It was said that the Bill would confer great benefits on the lower orders, inasmuch as it would enable them to travel at reduced charges. But it should be remembered that all the Bill would require under that 666 head would be, that one train each day should be started, carrying the lower orders or any other persons who might choose to travel by it at the rate of not more than 1d. a mile in a covered carriage, and at a speed of not less than twelve miles an hour. But what was the case now? Why he found that the average charge in all the third-class railway carriages throughout the kingdom was only 1d. and the fifteen hundredth of a penny per mile. There were, in fact, a great many railways in which less than 1d. a mile was at present charged. He found that the South-Eastern Railway carried third-class passengers at the rate of ¾d. per mile; the Newcastle and North Midland Railway carried them at the rate of ½d. per mile; the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway carried them at the rate of ½d. per mile; and the Midland Counties Railway had, for many years, carried third-class passengers twice a-day, between Derby and Nottingham, at the rate of ¾d. per mile. He also found that none of those railways carried passengers at a speed of thirty miles an hour. The poor would, however, undoubtedly receive this advantage from the passing of the measure, that they would be carried in covered carriages. But that was the only benefit which the measure would confer upon the poorer classes of travellers. And he would ask the House whether they would consent to pass all the objectionable Clauses of the Bill for the sake of that small benefit to the lower orders? He should also state in fairness that there were at present four or five railways which did not carry third-class passengers, and as all railways would be compelled to carry those passengers, that small additional benefit would be conferred by the Bill. He would, however, ask those who were in favour of some regulations with respect to railways whether they would accept so very inefficient a regulation as that? He certainly was not one of those who complained of the Bill on the ground that it would be very effective for mischief. His objection to it was, that it was too contractive in its dimensions. He did not stand there as the advocate of Railway Companies, but he stood there to prevent the right hon. Baronet from giving away what he believed to be a clear protection to the public for a sham protection. It might be right to do something with respect to railways, but let them proceed 667 upon a comprehensive principle in dealing with the subject. He believed that those Gentlemen who fully considered the question would agree with him in wishing that the Bill should be smothered at its birth.
§ Sir R. Peel
Sir, I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman should have misunderstood the reflections which I made, not upon him, but upon the Motion of which he was the author the other night. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that when he disclaimed any improper intention in bringing forward that Motion, I gave him credit for all that innocence and simplicity to which he lays claim, and to which, in my opinion, he is so much entitled. But when I saw parties connected with railways ready to support the Motion, I thought they were going to take advantage of the ingenuousness of the hon. Gentleman, and were about to make him the unconscious instrument for preventing all discussion upon this subject. The hon. Gentleman is, no doubt,Ingenui vultus puer ingenuique pudoris,But when I saw railway directors and proprietors giving their support to the Motion, it appeared to me that it might not be of so harmless a character as the hon. Gentleman seemed to imagine. The hon. Gentleman, however, says that Her Majesty's Government are in the habit of attacking hon. Members. Now I must say that great sensitiveness has been betrayed by the hon. Gentleman. He said that on the Bank Charter Bill I absolutely stated that certain Members had an eye—to what? I thought that he was going to state some very criminal offence; but he said that they had, as I alleged, an eye to nonconvertibility. Now it must be very difficult to conduct a discussion in this House if that is to be considered as a gross personal reflection on an hon. Member. What I said upon the occasion in question was, that if the argument of the hon. Gentleman meant anything, it meant that he must be favourable to the principle of nonconvertibility. Now I do not think that that was going beyond the freedom and latitude of Parliamentary discussion; and I must say, that after having heard night after night in this House the reflections cast upon Her Majesty's Government, but of which I never complained, I was surprised to find myself charged with a gross violation of Parliamentary decorum because I had stated that the hon. Gentleman 668 and the hon. Member for Lambeth, in conducting the discussion on the Bank Charter Bill, had an eye to nonconvertibility. You, Sir, ought, perhaps, in the opinion of the hon. Gentleman, to have called me to order on that occasion. [Mr. Hawes had never made any charge against the right hon. Baronet.] I must confess that I never heard the hon. Member for Lambeth charge me with exceeding the bounds of Parliamentary decorum on the occasion in question. But this simple and ingenuous youth considers that a personal attack had been made upon him because he had been told that he denied the principle of convertibility. The hon. Gentleman also complains of my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, for having made a "brilliant and comprehensive speech." He says that the Board of Trade presides over figures and arithmetical details, and that statistical statements would come from the President of the Board of Trade with a better grace than a "brilliant and comprehensive speech." Now, really, when the hon. Gentleman himself indulges so much in fancy, and introduces into his speech so many metaphors—pills, quack medicines, and the amusement of fly-fishing—I am surprised that he should claim for himself only the right to make witty and brilliant speeches, and that he should tie down my right hon. Friend to statistical details. The hon. Gentleman ought surely to allow other parties to compete with him. This Bill has been discussed at considerable length; and yet I think that the considerations by which hon. Members ought to be influenced in assenting to its second reading may be very shortly stated. I should not wish to have it supposed that in supporting the measure I mean to cast the slightest reflection upon those who have formed railway companies, or who have devoted their capital to the construction of railways. I think the country is under the greatest obligation to those gentlemen. I think it is a circumstance of which this country has reason to be proud, that our railways should, without any pecuniary aid or assistance from the Government, have been constructed by private enterprise, and by means of private capital. I must say, also, speaking generally, that so far as regards the practical superintendence of our railways, it has been conducted in a manner which reflects the highest credit on the managers. I think 669 they deserve the greatest credit for the uniform civility which they display, and for having shown the people of this country that all their subordinate agents, without any views of pecuniary gain, are attentive and kind, even beyond the limits of their duty, to rich and to poor, to a degree which scarcely exists in any other branch of the public service. I do hope that the practice which they have introduced, of showing every attention to individuals, at the same time that the receipt of all pecuniary fees is prohibited, will be maintained, and that the public will assist them in carrying out such a system. It is impossible to overrate the comfort and the convenience which arise from that system. And therefore in voting for this Bill, as I said before, I give, as I have always given, the utmost credit to our Railway Companies. I consider them to be among our most valuable bodies, and I shall always continue to entertain for them the greatest respect. But the question is, whether we are now arrived at a period in which it is advisable that Parliament should take some precaution for ensuring the public interest in respect to railways. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Nottingham objects to this Bill that it does not go far enough. But until the speech of the hon. Gentleman the opponents of the measure had said that at that late period of the Session the Government ought not to press a measure which was not limited to interference with future Companies, but which had spread fear and anxiety among existing Companies, and which would render it impossible for these Companies to conduct their affairs with satisfaction or security. The objection to the measure used to be that it was a measure too large and too comprehensive to be introduced at that late period of the Session; but the hon. Member for Nottingham wishes that it should extend to existing Companies. [Mr. Gisborne: No.] The hon. Gentleman wishes that we should introduce some comprehensive measure which would apply to all Companies; but I doubt whether if we had done so the hon. Gentleman would have voted for the measure. [Mr. Gisborne: He would not.] Then we should have been unsupported by the hon. Gentleman, and we should have been opposed by all those parties who are connected with existing railways; and in the end Her Majesty's Government would have been compelled 670 to abandon all legislstion upon the subject. The hon. Gentleman wishes to see another railroad established between Manchester and Liverpool; but is the hon. Gentleman sure that there would be no objection to that? Is he sure that he could guarantee to the public any advantage from that, competition? And does he not know that an application to Parliament for permission to construct such a railway would meet with the most formidable opposition? True it is proposed to make a new railway through the Trent Vale, with the perfect goodwill of the Grand Junction and of the London and Birmingham Railways. But I remember that I firmly advocated a Bill for such a railway in two successive Sessions, although I had done so ineffectually while the two companies in question opposed this measure; that Bill was sixty-six days in Committee; and I have been informed, that the expences of attempting to establish that competing line of forty miles only, had cost no less than about 146,000l. That expense was the consequence of the opposition of the two Railway Companies, who have now agreed to sanction the railway. The hon. Gentleman says, that the great security for cheap fares and proper service is competition. But I am afraid that in these matters there is a power which may overrule the deliberate sense of the House of Commons, and that a formidable combination of interests may exist, which would render it impossible for competition always to be successful. The hon. Member for Durham complained that I applied the term "monopoly" to these Railway Companies. I did not use that term in any invidious sense; but speaking, for instance, of the London and Birmingham railway, than which none can be better conducted, yet speaking generally, it has a complete monopoly. It has, as it appears to me, a perfect monopoly against posting and against stage-coach conveyance, and a decided monopoly against steam conveyance. A person who sets up machinery for manufactures is subject to rivalry from any other person who can command capital; but so far is this from being the case with respect to the railway monopoly, that no one can enter into competition without coming to Parliament. It is necessary in every instance to obtain new powers against the grant of which existing monopolies will exercise their influence in Parliament, and 671 often exercise it with success. In what position then is the country with respect to placing restrictions upon railways? It appeared that there are applications in the present Session of Parliament, and there will probably be in the next, for 1,000 additional miles of railroad. Let them observe the advantages which the constructors of new railroads possess. In the first place, they have the benefit of the experience of all the railways which had been already made; and, in the second place, those unjust prejudices which formerly existed against railways have in a great measure abated, and so far from Gentlemen dreading the approach of a railway within eight or ten miles of their estates, that approach is now sought, and, except in those cases where there is an injurious interference with property, landowners are willing to give their land on more fair terms. The constructors of new railways can avail themselves of the experience of those who sunk their money on the first passing of these plans; they can avail themselves of that experience in the construction of tunnels and in the expense of engines; but there is no corresponding limit to the profits on the new railways—there is no interference, except as to the price of 3d. a mile. The existing circumstances of the railways, therefore, rendered it an advantageous time for Parliament to take the subject into its consideration, and it appears to me to be a decided advantage to the public, to give notice to the railways that they may be dealt with hereafter. I am not prepared to say that there ought to be an immediate purchase of railways. I do not wish to see the Government, or any department of the Government, becoming directors of railway concerns. That is not the object of the Bill; but the object of the Bill and of the Government is, that as a number of railway projects are now about to receive the sanction of Parliament, it should, after the lapse of a certain time, be competent for the Legislature to deal with those undertakings, and to determine whether or not it would be advisable in any way to alter the powers given to those companies. That is the principle upon which we deal with the Bank of England and with the East India Company, when we give certain powers for a limited period, leaving it to Parliament to take the subject again into its consideration after the lapse of that period. The question is, whether we 672 are to give the new companies a permanent and unqualified monopoly, or whether we shall reserve to ourselves the right to reconsider the powers which we may confer upon them. In what other way can you do it, except by such a Bill as this? To say that the Bill for railways should last only for fifteen years would be an effectual extinguisher on all improvement; to say that we give them the power for a limited time, would prevent Railway Companies from being established in the meantime; and to say that we reserve to Parliament the absolute right to reconsider the terms on which railways shall have been constructed, would prevent all enterprise. My right hon. Friend, therefore proposes no such course with respect to new companies, but he says this—I will reserve to Government, provided Parliament should then sanction it—I will reserve to Government and to Parliament the power of purchasing these establishments, taking as the amount of the purchase the divisible profits of twenty-five years, to be calculated in point of time on the average of the three years next preceding the purchase. But there is another alternative; if these terms should not be accepted, or should not be offered—if your profits shall exceed 10 per cent., we shall have a right to demand of you a reduction of your tolls.Now if you admit the principle of eventual contingent interference, in what more equitable manner can you provide for it? What do you do? You take a double alternative, because, if you were to claim the single right to purchase, there might be a temptation on the part of the Railway Companies to swell the amount of the divisible profits. The alternative is, therefore, left to the Government, to take the power of revision, and thus to correct the tendency to swell the amount of the divisible profits. If you were to take the power of purchase, or the power of revision alone, your object would not be gained. But I do not want to enter now into a discussion on the details of the Bill; I want you merely to consider whether you ought to permit future railways to be established throughout the country, possessing not only the present amount of monopoly, but a still greater amount, without taking any power for securing the interests of the public; and giving notice to those who are embarking their capital, that you intend to reserve to Parliament the power of keeping some check on them. It has been said, that this measure has been brought 673 forward in the month of July, without notice. The hon. Member for Newcastle has said, that the reason why the Railway Companies slept on without alarm after the fifth Report, was because they did not think the Government would introduce such a measure as this. How could they have thought so, after the distinct notice given in the third report? The Committee there say—It appears, therefore, to your Committee, that the present moment, while Parliament still retains in its own hands an entire and unimpaired discretion with regard both to the incorporation of new companies and to the enlargement of the powers of old ones, affords an opportunity more favourable than any that can be expected hereafter to recur, for attaching beforehand to the legislative sanction, which is sought by these parties on their own behalf, the conditions which may be deemed necessary for the public good, and which may realise and apply such conclusions as our experience of the railway system up to the present time may be deemed to have sufficiently established.This Report was ordered to be printed on the 1st of April, 1844. The whole Report assumed that the present was the favourable moment to give the notice now given in this Bill. This Bill does not go beyond the Report, and the substance of it is in exact conformity with the Report. That Report was lauded in extravagant terms by the majority of the newspapers in connection with the railway interest, and no opposition appeared till after the appearance of the filth Report, yet that Report (the third) indicated that you should not let that opportunity pass of making some provision on the subject. So much, therefore, as to that part of the Bill which relates to the power of the Government to purchase or revise. I must say that I should deprecate the frequent use of that power, but I conceive the insertion of it in this Bill as a check on abuse and a security for the public interest. The Bill takes several precautions for the public interest, which must be admitted to be only reasonable and just. I think we should take security for the conveyance of letters on certain prescribed terms. So again as to the conveyance of soldiers and stores. I think it right when you are giving those unlimited powers to take and use for their purposes any private property, that you should inquire that those Railway Companies should confer on the public some 674 benefit in return, the amount of which shall be determined before those companies are established. Without expressing any extreme interest as to the conveyance of the lower classes, I must say that it is a proper subject for the consideration of Parliament. I do not believe that the conveyance of the lower classes is a source of profit to railways; at least I believe that they do not consider it a source of profit at present. The fear is, that when we attempt to secure a better conveyance for the lower classes persons of a better condition of life may avail themselves of it. Still this cannot be a conclusive reason why we should not make some provision with respect to the conveyance of those classes. The attention of foreign countries has been for sometime directed to this subject. I hold in my hand a Report of the French Chambers, showing that they did not think it unbecoming their attention to make provision for the conveyance of the humbler classes. This is a translation of their report:—We have more than once protested against the use of open carriages, which expose the health of the passengers. It appears to us that the interests of salubrity, and, we may add, those of humanity, enjoin us not to condemn the less opulent classes of society to the inconvenience and danger of such a mode of transport. In fact, in open carriages the passengers are not only exposed to the assaults of the weather and rapid current of air, but also to the risk of fire, from the particles of burning coke thrown out by the engine.Accordingly, the Committee insist, as an indispensable condition, on covered third-class carriages being attached to, by the ordinary trains, at fares not exceeding ¾d. per mile. The French Government has adopted this recommendation, and one article in this mooted project of concession to Railway Companies, published by the administration, is—The Companies shall in no case make use of open carriages for the conveyance of passengers.Another—That every regular passenger train shall contain carriages of all the different classes. The second class carriages being covered and provided with glass window, and the third class covered and closed by curtains.The Governments of Germany have equally prohibited open carriages, and the treaties between the different states for the extension of a common system of railway 675 communication always stipulate for the conveyance of third-class passengers, in covered carriages, at fares from ½d. to ¾d. per mile. This is the course which the French legislature have thought it right to pursue. They require that in every train there shall be third class carriages protected from the weather. Now, when you are establishing new railroads, and when you know how other means of conveyance are all superseded is it not right that you should take security for the comfort and convenience of the humblest classes? The hon. Gentleman opposite takes a high tone, and says that railways have an unlimited right to deal with the public as they shall think fit. It may possibly he right for the London and Birmingham Railway to say, "We will not soil our fingers with the conveyance of coals," but the question is here—"when we are giving powers for the establishment of new lines, may we not take some moderate and rational precautions against abuse? If I thought that this Bill would tend to destroy competition in the establishment of railways I would never consent to its passing, but I do not believe that the precautions taken by it will have the effect of impeding or preventing the application of private capital to the construction of railways. I have the satisfaction of knowing since the appearance of the third Report, which announced that these securities would be taken, that thirty railroads have been projected, entailing an expenditure of 24,220,000l. I hope that the necessity will never arise for the Government to take the management of any railway into its hands; but whether a case may not arise in which it may be necessary to construct a short line of road for the purpose of ascertaining the expense, or for the purpose of establishing an example as to the mode of management, it is impossible at present to anticipate; but I should deprecate the transfer to the Government of the amount of patronage which would follow the exercise of the power of interference secured by this Bill. I trust that the Government, or any part of the Government, will never be employed as Directors of Railways; but I trust that they will have the right of controlling them, and preventing abuses. I trust that Parliament will give this dormant power of purchase and interference, which will operate as a check on extravagant demands. If you approve of interference 676 with respect to future companies, I cannot see a moment when you are less likely to interfere with the investment of private capital. Seeing the stimulus given to the application of capital by the many new projects now afloat, if you interfere at all you should interfere now. I believe that interference to be prudent and just towards the public interest. Upon these grounds, retaining my respect for those public Companies, knowing that the country is under the deepest obligations to them, and deprecating any measure which would prevent a similar application of capital, I still think it right to take security for the public interest against exaction and abuse, and therefore I give a cordial support to the measure of my right hon. Friend.
§ Mr. Ward
said, that the speech of the right hon. Baronet would go far to allay the alarm which had prevailed amongst, the parties interested in railways. If it was merely intended to ask for a dormant power of revision and purchase after the lapse of a certain number of years, and to give notice that such fresh conditions might be imposed as experience should show to be necessary for the public good, then those companies that were now applying for powers to Parliament could not but think this notice well-timed. He admitted that the Government had undoubtedly a right to demand from new Railway Companies such securities for the conveyance of troops and letters as were necessary for the public good. He thought the Clause with respect to third-class carriages unexceptionable. The only objection made to it was, that at first, it was feared that third-class carriages would be required with every train. The Bill was complained of because it was not what it professed to be. It asked for great and formidable powers; but, from the speech of the right hon. Baronet, it appeared that those powers were not to be enforced. Why, then, ask for them? The whole of the Clauses, from the 1st to the 17th, traced out a complete system of Government interference. It seemed however, that it was not the intention of the Government to take measures for buying the existing railways, but as the Bill comprised such a provision it had excited the greatest alarm. He found an universal feeling abroad against it, and though the Great Western shares had risen, it had been in consequence of the decision of the 677 other House of Parliament, which was looked upon as favourable to the proprietors. He confessed that he hardly knew what line to take after the olive branch had been held out, as it had been that night, by the right hon. Gentleman. He had confined his use of the term "monopoly" to what was not an invidious or objectionable sense, and had declared that he had no wish to see the power transferred to the hands of the Government. He objected, however, to many of the powers which had been taken, as unnecessarily calculated to create alarm; but if a mere notice to future railways was all that was required by the Government, and if the right hon. Gentleman was willing to take that as the basis of his Bill, he would be inclined to ask the Gentlemen who, like him, had been opposed to the Bill, not to press the Amendment, to a division now.
begged to state his entire adhesion to the views contained in the speech of his right hon Friend, which, in point of fact, was an exposition of the principle and spirit of the Bill. The hon. Gentleman opposite asked whether he were willing to make the Bill conform to that speech, and he could not hesitate answering the hon. Gentleman in the affirmative. He must, however, remind the hon. Gentleman that the Bill was founded on the recommendations contained in the Report, and that the Report had excited no alarm whatever. In consequence of this the provisions of the Bill had been framed without the least idea that any such alarm was likely to arise; and now that apprehensions had been raised, it was perfectly possible that there were particular enactments in the Bill which might be dispensed with without injury to the objects proposed by the Bill. He had no objection to the introduction of such words as would show that the principles declared by his right hon. Friend at the head of the Government with respect to the management of railways were to be adhered to, unless strong reasons could be shown to the contrary. In the Report of the Committee it was expressly declared, that there was no intention to prejudge any question, but to many the Bill when it came out, appeared to contradict the Report of the Committee, and to foreclose questions which the Committee had left open. But what had been the course pursued? There had been no 678 invitation to modify the Bill, but a demand was made on his right hon. Friend that the Bill should be dropped. Such was the unusual course pursued. For his own part, he referred to the speech of his right hon. Friend as an unexceptionable text-book of the views contained in the Report of the Committee, and expressing the spirit and intention of the Bill, and he hoped any Amendments made would be consistent with that Report and that speech.
§ Mr. Hawes
wished to offer only a few observations in reference to the aspersions which the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade had cast upon professional Gentlemen interested in this Bill, and also in reference to the speech of the right hon. Baronet opposite. Though he was inclined to place the most unlimited confidence in the assurances of Government with respect to any Bill which they proposed, yet he was bound to look at the Bill itself, and not to trust merely to the professions of Government. If hon. Gentlemen were not inclined to allow him to proceed he would be under the necessity of moving the adjournment of the debate, but as it was only a few minutes past eleven he thought he had a right to be heard. If he looked to the Bill he found its provisions directly at variance with the speech of the right hon. Baronet. If the Bill was merely what the right hon. Gentleman said it was—namely, a Bill to give notice to Railway Companies that at certain periods their fares might be altered and their charters revised, modified, or revoked—then such an object was totally inconsistent with the provisions contained in it. The first Clause provided that any future branch of any railway would be placed within the operation of the Bill, so that if such a branch should be made to the terminus of a railway, the whole of it will come under the direction of the Board of Trade. He said this on authority. Take any case. There was a Bill in the House for constructing a railway from Chester to Holyhead. That was a most important line, as it would be the means of communication between Ireland and the metropolis; and yet that Bill must come under the operation of the Bill. The Manchester and Carlisle Railway Bill would also come under the operation of the Bill; so that, in fact, the Board of Trade would have the master key to all 679 the other railways. If, for instance, either the Great Western or South Western Companies should carry the terminus two or three miles further into London, they would come under this Bill, and the whole traffic on the line would be put under the control of the Government. This was not, as the right hon. Gentleman said, a dormant, but it was an active power. If the right hon. Gentleman would give him an assurance that the provisions of this Bill would not have that effect he would join his hon. Friend, the Member for Sheffield, in supporting the Bill. They ought, however, fairly to consider whether they would place the management of railways in the hands of the Government. They were told that such was not the intention of the Bill. If so, why not purge the Bill of all those Clauses? With respect to the aspersions cast by the right hon. Gentleman opposite on the professional men who had opposed the Bill, he must say that he thought that these aspersions were most unfair and unjust. He believed the right hon. Gentleman had said, that when the third Report of the Railway Committee was published in April it excited no attention. [Mr. Gladstone: No opposition.] That the opposition only arose when the Report was published. That was not the fact; and the right hon. Gentleman was misinformed regarding it. The third Report excited great attention, but not opposition. When the fifth Report was published, the circular alluded to by the right hon. Gentleman was issued by Mr. Hunt, calling the attention of railway proprietors to the subject, but no meeting took place in consequence of it. When the Bill was in the hands of the public, another circular was issued by Mr. Burke, and he had with him two letters which would bear him out in denying the assertion of the right hon. Gentleman. He could not accept the interpretation put upon the measure by the right hon. Baronet, and he felt himself compelled to give it his decided opposition.
§ Mr. Muntz
could not allow himself to vote without expressing his disapprobation of the Bill altogether. He had not the slightest interest, directly or indirectly, in railways, but he sometimes travelled by them, and he never did so without blessing the time when railroads were first constructed. He thought the Bill would have the effect of preventing the extension 680 of railroads, and on that account he was opposed to it. He had never taken part in any railway; and if the Bill should pass, he doubted whether he would ever take a part. It was in contemplation, he believed, to make an addition to the Liverpool and Birmingham line; but he certainly should not take part in it, and he did not think other people would, if this Bill were passed. The power given by the Bill was not a dormant power. He always felt jealous of the interference of Government; and he was afraid that they would some day find the whole of their business put under the management of the Board of Trade. As he felt desirous to see railroads carried out to their full extent, he must give his opposition to this Bill.
§ Mr. S. Crawford
rose amid cries of "oh," and "divide." He would not detain the House two moments. He so very seldom supported the Government, that he could not give a silent vote on the present occasion. As he considered the Bill would give protection to the working classes against what might be called the most dangerous monopoly of the moneyed classes, he would vote in favour of the second reading of the Bill.
§ The House divided on the question that the word "now" stand part of the question:—Ayes 186; Noes 98: Majority 88.
|List of the AYES.|
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Buck, L. W.|
|A'Court, Capt.||Bunbury, T.|
|Adderley, C. B.||Burroughes, H. N.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Campbell, J. H.|
|Aldam, W.||Cavendish, hn. C. C.|
|Alford, Visct.||Cavendish, hon. G. H.|
|Allix, J. P.||Chelsea, Visct.|
|Archdall, Capt. M.||Childers, J. W.|
|Arkwright, G.||Cholmondeley, hn. H.|
|Baillie, Col.||Clay, Sir W.|
|Balfour, J. M.||Clayton, R. R.|
|Baring, hon. W. B.||Clerk, Sir G.|
|Barneby, J.||Clive, Visct.|
|Bateson, T.||Clive, hon. R. H.|
|Beckett, W.||Cockburn, rt. hn. Sir G.|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Codrington, Sir W.|
|Blackburne, J. I.||Colborne, hn. W. N. R.|
|Bodkin, W. H.||Cole, hn. H. A.|
|Boldero, H. G.||Collett, J.|
|Botfield, B.||Corry, rt. hon. H.|
|Bowles, Adm.||Cowper, hon. W. F.|
|Bowring, Dr.||Craig, W. G.|
|Bramston, T. W.||Crawford, W. S.|
|Brisco, M.||Cripps, W.|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Curteis, H. B.|
|Brooke, Sir A. B.||Damer, hon. Col.|
|Brotherton, J.||Darby, G.|
|Browne, hon. W.||Denison, J. E.|
|Denison, E. B.||Martin, C. W.|
|Dickinson, F. H.||Meynell, Capt.|
|Douglas, Sir H.||Milnes, R. M.|
|Douglas, Sir C. E.||Morison, Geu.|
|Dowdeswell, W.||Morison, J.|
|Dugdale, W. S.||Neville, R.|
|Duncombe, hn. A.||Newry, Visct.|
|Eastnor, Visct.||Nicholl, rt. hn. J.|
|Egerton, W. T.||Paget, Col.|
|Eliot, Lord||Palmer, R.|
|Escott, B.||Patten, J. W.|
|Estcourt, T. G. B.||Pechell, Capt.|
|Fellowes, E.||Peel, rt. hn. Sir R.|
|Fitzroy, hon. H.||Peel, J.|
|Flower, Sir J.||Plumptre, J. P.|
|Forbes, W.||Praed, W. T.|
|Fox, S. L.||Pringle, A.|
|Fremantle, rt. hn. Sir T.||Pusey, P.|
|Gaskell, J. Milnes||Rawdon, Col.|
|Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.||Reid, Sir. J. R.|
|Gladstone, Capt.||Repton, G. W. J.|
|Gordon, hon. Capt.||Rice, E. R.|
|Goring, C.||Rolleston, Col.|
|Goulburn, rt. hn. H.||Round, J.|
|Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.||Rumbold, C. E.|
|Greene, T.||Rushbrooke, Col.|
|Grimston, Visct.||Russell, Lord E.|
|Grogan, E.||Sanderson, R.|
|Hale, R. B.||Seymour, Lord|
|Hamilton, Lord C.||Seymour, Sir H. B.|
|Hayes, Sir E.||Sheppard, T.|
|Heathcoat, J.||Shirley, E. P.|
|Henley, J. W.||Sibthorp, Col.|
|Hepburn, Sir T. B.||Smith, A.|
|Herbert, hn. S.||Smith, rt. hon. R. V.|
|Hodgson, F.||Smith, rt. hn. T. B. C.|
|Hope, hon. C.||Smyth, Sir H.|
|Horsman, E.||Somerset, Lord G.|
|Howard, Lord||Sotheron, T. H. S.|
|Howard, hn. E. G. G.||Stanley, Lord|
|Howick, Visct.||Stuart, W. V.|
|Hussey, A.||Stuart, H.|
|Hutt, W.||Stock, Mr. Serj.|
|Ingestre, Visct.||Strutt, E.|
|James, Sir W. C.||Sutton, hon. H. M.|
|Jermyn, Earl||Tennent, J. E.|
|Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.||Thesiger, Sir F.|
|Jones, Capt.||Thornely, T.|
|Knatchbull, rt. hn. Sir E.||Trotter, J.|
|Knight, H. G.||Verner, Col.|
|Knight, F. W.||Vesey, hon. T.|
|Labouchere, rt. hn. H.||Vivian, J. E.|
|Lascelles, hon. W. S.||Waddington, H. S.|
|Law, hn. C. E.||Wall, C. B.|
|Lefroy, A.||Wallace, R.|
|Liddell, hn. H. T.||Warburton, H.|
|Lockhart, W.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Lygon, hon. Gen.||Wemyss, Capt.|
|McGeachy, F. A.||Williams, W.|
|Maclean, D.||Wodehouse, E.|
|Macnamara, Major||Wortley, hon. J. S.|
|McNeill, D.||Wrightson, W. B.|
|Mahon, Visct.||Yorke, hon. E. T.|
|Manners, Lord C. S.|
|Manners, Lord J.||TELLERS.|
|Marshall, W.||Young, J.|
|Marsham, Visct.||Lennox, Lord A.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Ackers, J.||Howard, hn. C. W. G.|
|Ainsworth, P.||Hughes, W. B.|
|Bailey, J., jun.||Johnstone, Sir J.|
|Bannerman, A.||Langston, J. H.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Langton, W. G.|
|Barrington, Visct.||Lemon, Sir C.|
|Berkeley, hon. Capt.||Long, W.|
|Berkeley, hon. H. F.||Lowther, Sir J. H.|
|Bernal, R.||Lowther, hon. Col.|
|Borthwick, P.||Macaulay, rt. hn. T. B.|
|Bouverie, hon. E. P.||McTaggart, Sir J.|
|Bowes, J.||Mangles, R. D.|
|Bright, J.||Martin, J.|
|Broadley, H.||Mitcalfe, H.|
|Buller, C.||Mitchell, T. A.|
|Chapman, A.||Morris, D.|
|Chapman, B.||Mundy, E. M.|
|Charteris, hon. F.||Muntz, G. F.|
|Christie, W. D.||Napier, Sir C.|
|Christopher, R. A.||Ogle, S. C. H.|
|Clive, E. B.||Ord, W.|
|Cobden, R.||Packe, C. W.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Parker, J.|
|Colquhoun, J. C.||Philips, G. R.|
|Dalmeny, Lord||Plumridge, Capt.|
|Dalrymple, Capt.||Ponsonby, hn. C. F. C.|
|D'Eyncourt, rt. hn. C. T.||Power, J.|
|Duncan, Visct.||Protheroe, E.|
|Duncan, G.||Pulsford, R.|
|Dundas, hon. J. C.||Rashleigh, W.|
|Easthope, Sir J.||Ricardo, J. L.|
|Elphinstone, H.||Richards, R.|
|Feilden, W.||Russell, C.|
|Forster, M.||Scott, R.|
|Forman, T. S.||Seale, Sir J. H.|
|Gardner, J. D.||Smith, J. A.|
|Gibson, T. M.||Somerville, Sir W. M.|
|Gill, T.||Stewart, P. M.|
|Gisborne, T.||Talbot, C. R. M.|
|Gore, W. O.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Greenall, P.||Thompson, Ald.|
|Grosvenor, Lord R.||Tuffnell, H.|
|Hallyburton, Lord J. G.||Turner, E.|
|Hawes, B.||Villiers, hon. C.|
|Hayter, W. G.||Vivian, J. H.|
|Hill, Lord M.||Wakley, T.|
|Hinde, J. H.||Walker, R.|
|Hindley, C.||Yorke, H. R.|
|Hollond, R.||Ward, H. G.|
|Hornby, J.||Entwisle, W.|
§ [To the Division the following addition is found in the Votes of the House of Commons.
§ Objection taken (by Mr. Wallace) to the vole of Mr. Russell, the Member for Reading, who voted with the Noes, on account of his having a private pecuniary interest as a proprietor of Railroad Shares and Chairman of the Great Western Railway Company:—Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the vote of Mr. Russell be disallowed:"—Motion, by leave, 683 withdrawn:—Mr. Speaker declared, Ayes 186, Noes 98.]
§ Bill read a second time.
§ On the question that the Bill be committed,
had not had the opportunity of consulting with the opponents of the Bill, and could not say what alterations he might propose. All he could say was, that he was perfectly ready to consider, and desirous to accede to any modification which should tend to bring it into strict conformity with the third Report of the Committee, and the speech of his right hon. Friend.
Mr. H. Hinde
considered that the House were entitled to see the Bill modified, so far as the Government themselves proposed to modify it.
§ Sir R. Peel
had read with great attention the third Report of the Committee, and it was his intention to make alterations in strict accordance with it. In referring to what he had said, the hon. Gentleman had omitted the power of purchase. What he said upon that point was, that he thought the power on the part of the Government and the Parliament conjointly to purchase, should be reserved, not to be exercised indiscriminately, but as a check against abuse. If the measure was not found to be in accordance with the third Report of the Committee, it was the wish of the Government to make it so.
§ Mr. Hawes
believed the third Report did not extend to existing Railways, but the very first Clause of the Bill would bring existing railways under the control of the Government, and within the operations of the Act, for by that Clause, every joint or branch line would be brought within the powers of the Bill, and to that extent, existing railways would be affected.
said the Bill had been drawn with the bonâ fide intention of carrying out the views expressed in the Reports of the Railway Committee and nothing more. It was, however, alleged by some hon. Gentlemen that the Bill did more. He was anxious to discuss and consider any application of that nature in 684 detail, and in any case in which it could be shown that the Bill really went beyond the recommendations of the Committee to alter, so as to bring it in strict conformity with that Report.
§ Bill to be committed.