HC Deb 03 April 1845 vol 79 cc10-6
Mr. Dodd

rose to bring forward (at the time of Private Business) the Motion of which he had given notice—viz., That the Report of the Board of Trade against the Bill intended to be brought in by the Croydon Railway Company, to authorize the construction of a Railway to Ashford be referred back to the Board of Trade for reconsideration. The hon. Member was proceeding to address the House on his Motion, when—

The Speaker

observed, that before the hon. Member went on it might be necessary for the House to consider whether the Motion were one which should be brought on in the time of private business. It was a question relating to a certain matter which had come before the Board of Trade, and the Motion was that the decision of that Board against a particular railway line should be referred back to it for reconsideration. It would be for the House to decide whether that came under the head of Public usiness, and if it did, it would be a question whether it ought to take precedence of all the other business of the day. In his opinion it ought not to be considered as Private Business. The question was a novel one, such as had not yet come under the consideration of the House, relating to certain public acts of a Public Department, and it would be for the House to decide whether it ought not to come under the head of Public Business, and, if it came under that head, it was clearly not entitled to have precedence of all other business.

Mr. Hawes

said, that with all deference to what seemed to be the opinion of the Chair, he must submit that the matter to which the Motion referred was wholly Private Business, and that the hon. Member for Maidstone ought to be allowed to go on with his Motion. If the decision of the Board of Trade was to be final in the case of every railway line against which it decided, there would be an end of a vast number of railway projects; but he had never understood that that was to be the rule; and as a proof that it was not so intended, it was only necessary to remind the House that the Reports of the Board of Trade, containing the grounds on which it had decided for or against any railway line, were laid before the House, as information to guide the Committees which were finally to decide on them. The decision of the Board of Trade with respect to the railway referred to in the Motion was most objectionable, and was not entitled to the attention of the House, and the parties ought to be allowed to proceed with their Bill.

Lord G. Somerset

disclaimed, on the part of Government, any idea of making the decision of the Board of Trade final with respect to any railway. The parties in every case might proceed with their Bill, notwithstanding a decision of the Board against them. It was not his intention to say anything as to the merits of the case referred to in the Motion of the hon. Member for Maidstone, as the only question now before the House was, whether that Motion should be brought on in the time of Private Business. In his opinion it was a matter which ought to be brought on in the time of Private Business.

Viscount Howick

said, before the House disposed of that question, they ought to consider the position in which the case rested. On the 19th of July last, the House came to a Resolution requiring that all such Bills or projects should be referred to a particular department of the Board of Trade, before being brought under the notice of that House; and in the present Session they went still farther, as on the 4th of March they determined that all railway Bills and projects should be classified in groups by a single Committee of the House, and they were afterwards, along with the Reports of the Board of Trade upon them, to come before the Committes appointed to consider them. He begged to remind the House that these regulations were adopted by the House on the Motion of the noble Lord (Lord Granville Somerset) at the time of Private Business. The House should, besides, reflect on the injustice which they would do if they refused to consider the present Motion at once; for the hon. Member might be obliged to wait for a considerable time before he could get another opportunity of bringing it forward, and in the interim the Private Committee might be appointed, and might proceed with the consideration of the Report of the Board of Trade. If the Report were to be referred back to the Board of Trade, it should be done directly. He did not, however, see that much good was likely to arise from that course, for after the very slovenly manner in which they were told the Board of Trade performed their business—he said "slovenly," because the right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Clerk) had told them the other night that the decisions to which they were in the habit of coming were not decisions after all—he did not expect any very satisfactory report from them.

Sir G. Clerk

said, it was not his intention to comment on the remarks of the noble Lord. The question simply was, whether this matter ought to be brought forward at the time of Public Business. He would not go into details; but he should say, that the uniform practice of the House was, that railway matters should be disposed of with the Private Business. But this question did not fall within that rule. As it touched the character of a Public Board, he did not conceive that it should be heard with the Private Business.

Mr. Labouchere

confessed that he was inclined to take the view of the right hon. Baronet opposite, in preference to the opinion of the noble Lord who sat beside him. He could not help thinking that this Resolution differed in its nature from any that he recollected, and was sure that it would take the House some considerable time to discuss it. It could not be considered or disposed of during the Private Business of the House, as i affected the conduct of a Public Board, and would open the door to other, and perhaps more serious petitions. If it were true the Board of Trade had hastily and negligently reported on this Bill, he thought that a discussion on the matter in this House, in this mode, would be perfectly unsatisfactory. He did not wish to pronounce any opinion on the merits of the Bill; but he thought the House would do well to adhere to the rules which they had hitherto acted upon in relation to Private Bills.

Mr. T. Duncombe

did not coincide with the reasons offered by the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, for resisting the Motion. The right hon. Gentleman's complaint was, that if the House laid it down as a rule that this Motion should be entertained at the time of Private Business, they might have many such petitions brought before them. But his reply to that argument was, that even if they had many such petitions presented, it was the duty of the House to hear them. He could very well understand why any person connected with the Board of Trade should be unwilling to have such a Motion as the present brought forward, as he considered the Railway Department of that Board had been hastily, crudely, and unwittingly created by the House at the close of the last Session. That Department had created great public dissatisfaction; and he would go farther, and say that the Reports which had emanated from it would be found to be an actual nuisance in that House. The right hon. Gentleman opposite said, "Let the Committee decide upon this question;" but surely the Committee had quite enough to do already without imposing that additional duty upon them — but if it should be referred to them, see the loss of time that would follow. The counsel who go before them had quite enough to do in supporting the cases of their respective clients, without being obliged, in addition, to occupy the time of the Committee in supporting the decision of the Board of Trade on one side, and in opposing it on the other. The House, having already allowed the hon. Member for Maidstone to present a petition on this subject, and afterwards to move that it be printed at the time of Private Business, he thought it was but just that the consideration of the Committee should also come forward at the time of Private Business. That petition contained very serious allegations against the Railway Department of the Board of Trade, and he believed those allegations could be substantiated. The Board were charged with not having done their duty, and with injuring private interests, and these were charges that in his opinion ought to be investigated. In order to bring the matter to an issue, he begged to move— That Mr. Dodd, the Member for Maidstone, be now heard in support of the Motion intended to be made by him, and that the Question be proposed to the House.

Mr. Gisborne

conceived that the House had got into a very awkward position by the manner in which they had conducted this proceeding. The present was only one of a great many cases of this kind, and they were all owing to parties having a duty entrusted to them which they were incompetent to deal with. By referring these complaints to a Select Committee who had already twenty-three independent railways to deal with, it would be found that this addition to their labours could not be satisfactorily performed by them. His opinion was, that the case ought to be heard. The hon. Gentleman ought to be allowed to make his statement, and they would then have an opportunity of deciding whether the Report of the Board of Trade was well founded or otherwise.

Colonel Sibthorp

said, the experience of every day confirmed more and more the opinion which he had formerly given of that Department of the Board of Trade, namely, that it was foreign to the Constitution, and odious to the public. There were honourable and talented men connected with it; but if they were angels come down from heaven, and gifted with the power of infallibility, it was impossible that they could get satisfactorily through the mass of business which was heaped upon them.

Sir G. Grey

expressed his great deference for the opinion which, he understood, the Speaker entertained on the question before them. Whatever errors the Board of Trade might have fallen into, he certainly believed that their opinions had been honestly adopted; but when gross errors of the facts in this particular case were alleged against them, he thought an opportunity ought to be given to the parties to enter into some explanation of their case. He did not agree in the censure expressed by the hon. and gallant Member who had just sat down against the Board of Trade. In order to get rid of the difficulty in which the House was ploced, he would be glad to see the right hon. Baronet the Vice-President of the Board of Trade get up in his place and declare his willingness to take back the Report in question to the Board for their reconsideration.

Mr. Dodd

said, he did not understand the Speaker to give any decided opinion with respect to the question before the House. All that he had said was, that the present was the proper time for deciding whether the Motion should come on at the time of Private Business or not. The hon. Gentleman was proceeding to observe, that the portion of the public who would be affected by this measure resided fifty-seven miles from London, and that the question of the construction of the railway was, therefore, one of the greatest importance to them, when—

The Speaker

begged to remind the hon. Member that he could not enter into the merits of the case until the preliminary question was first disposed of.

Mr. Borthwick

suggested that the general rule, if adverse to the Motion of the hon. Member for Maidstone, should be waved in the present instance.

Mr. Hawes

thought that the House should have heard what the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir George Clerk) had to say in reply to the proposition of his right hon. Friend (Sir George Grey). If he considered that the Speaker had pronounced an opinion upon the matter, he would not say a word on the subject; but he understood that the Speaker had left the matter in the hands of the House. He thought that an early day should be fixed for bringing on this subject.

Mr. Mangles

said, that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Lambeth had suggested that an early day should be appointedfor discussing this subject; but he thought a Committee could very much better investigate the matter than the whole House. In his opinion it ought not to be heard by the House either in the light of Private or Public Business. An objection had been raised by an hon. Gentleman near him about the difficulty which a Committee, having twenty-three Bills before it, would find in investigating such a question as the present; but surely it would be much better for a Committee of five Members to be left to get through all these measures, than that such an accumulated mass of business should be thrown on the entire House. The present was not a solitary case, and if it were entertained by the House they would have hundreds of dissatisfied parties crowding forward with petitions of a similar kind.

Mr. Ricardo

asked whether it was to be laid down that there was to be no appeal to the House in cases where acts of injustice had been perpetrated by the Board of Trade? Such would be the case in the present instance, if the House did not proceed with the matter.

Sir G. Clerk

said, that he had not objected on the point of form on the part of the Board of Trade, for he was ready then, or at any other period, to go into the case. After the observations of the Speaker, he felt that they could not that night go on with the subject. For his own part, as the matter involved a serious charge against the Board of Trade, he was anxious to meet it.

Mr. T. Duncombe

wished to know on what ground the right hon. Gentleman would not fix a day to discuss this subject; for as it was the Bill might pass through Committee before the matter could be brought under consideration. He denied that the Speaker had laid it down that the hon. Member was out of order; but he left it to the House to determine whether or not it would proceed with the Motion, as the subject was entirely new. He should take the sense of the House, if he stood alone.

The House divided, on Mr. Duncombe's Motion:—Ayes 78; Noes 123: Majority 45.

List of the AYES.
Adderley, C. B. Denison, W. J.
Baldwin, B. Dennistoun, J.
Banks, G. Disraeli, B.
Barnard, E. G. Dodd, G.
Bernal, R. Douglas, J. D. S.
Borthwick, P. Duncan, Visct.
Bouverie, hon. E. P. Duncan, G.
Bowes, J. Duncombe, hon. A.
Bright, J. Duncombe, hon. O.
Browne, hon. W. Dundas, Admiral
Buck, L. W. Ellis, W.
Christie, W. D. Elphinstone, H.
Cobden, R. Filmer, Sir E.
Craig, W. G. Forster, M.
Dashwood, G. H. Gisborne, T.
Gore, M. Paget, Col.
Granger, T. C. Pechell, Capt.
Gregory, W. H. Plumridge, Capt.
Hallyburton, Lord J. Polhill, F.
Hastie, A. Protheroe, E.
Hill, Lord M. Ricardo, J. L.
Hindley, C. Rous, hon. Capt.
Hodgson, F. Scott, R.
Howard, hon. H. Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.
Howard, Sir R. Sibthorp, Col.
Howick, Visct. Spooner, R.
Irving, J. Standish, C.
Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H. Stuart, Lord J.
Kemble, H. Stuart, W. V.
Leader, J. T. Tancred, H. W.
Lindsay, H. H. Tuffnell, H.
Lygon, hon. Gen. Turner, E.
Mackinnon, W. A. Villiers, hon. C.
McGeachy, F. A. Waddington, H. S.
Mitchell, T. A. Warburton, H.
Morris, D. Wawn, J. T.
Morrison, J. Yorke, H. R.
Murray, A. TELLERS.
O'Brien, A. S. Hawes, B.
Osborne, R. Duncombe, T.
List of the NOES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Entwisle, W.
Acton, Col. Esmonde, Sir T.
Adare, Visct. Estcourt, T. G. B.
Ainsworth, P. Ewart, W.
Allix, J. P. Feilden, W.
Arkwright, G. Fitzmaurice, hon. W.
Arundel and Surrey, Earl of Flower, Sir J.
Fremantle, rt. hn. Sir T.
Baillie, J. French, F.
Baring, rt. hon. F. T. Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.
Baring, rt. hn. W. B. Gordon, hon. Capt.
Barrington, Visct. Goring, C.
Blackstone, W. S. Greenall, P.
Bowles, Admiral Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.
Bowring, Dr. Grimston, Visct.
Bradshaw, J. Hamilton, G. A.
Brisco, M. Hanmer, Sir J.
Broadley, H. Harris, hon. Capt.
Brotherton, J. Heathcoat, J.
Bruce, Lord E. Heneage, G. H. W.
Bruges, W. H. L. Henley, J. W.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Hepburn, Sir T. B.
Carew, W. H. P. Houldsworth, T.
Cartwright, W. R. Hume, J.
Chapman, A. Hutt, W.
Chelsea, Visct. Inglis, Sir R. H.
Chetwode, Sir J. Labouchere, rt. hn. H.
Childers, J. W. Lascelles, hon. W. S.
Clay, Sir W. Law, hon. C. E.
Clayton, R. R. Listowel, Earl of
Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G. Loch, J.
Clifton, J. T. Lockhart, W.
Codrington, Sir W. Long, W.
Colquhoun, J. C. Lowther, Sir J. H.
Currie, R. Lyall, G.
Darby, G. McTaggart, Sir J.
Divett, E. Mahon, Visct.
Du Pre, C. G. Mainwaring, T.
Ellice, E. Mangles, R. D.
Emlyn, Visct. Marjoribanks, S.
Martin, C. W. Russell, J. D. W.
Marton, G. Sheppard, T.
Milnes, R. M. Shirley, E. P.
Mundy, E. M. Smith, A.
Newdegate, C. N. Smith, rt. hon. T. B. C.
Newry, Visct. Smyth, Sir H.
Norreys, Lord Somerset, Lord G.
O'Conor Don Somes, J.
Ord, W. Sotheron, T. H. S.
Packe, C. W. Strutt, E.
Pakington, J. S. Thompson, Ald.
Palmer, R. Townley, J.
Palmer, G. Trotter, J.
Patten, J. W. Turnor, C.
Pattison, J. Tyrell, Sir J. T.
Peel, J. Vane, Lord H.
Plumptre, J. P. Vyvyan, Sir R.
Pollington, Visct. Wall, C. B.
Pusey, P. Ward, H. G.
Reid, Sir J. R. Wellesley, Lord C.
Repton, G. W. J.
Richards, R. TELLERS.
Round, C. G. Lennox, Lord A.
Round, J. Young, J.
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