HC Deb 12 February 1845 vol 77 cc337-9
Captain Harris

hoped he should be excused if he noticed some injurious rumours which had been spread relative to the part taken by a noble Relative, and by himself, with reference to the Dorchester and Southampton Railway. The insinuation that he and his noble Relative influenced the decisions of the Board of Trade appeared, no doubt, very ridiculous to Members of that House, but it might have some influence with the vulgar. The statement made by an hon. Member last night tended to strengthen these rumours; he hoped, therefore, he should be allowed to refute them by a plain recital of facts. About a year since the undertaking was commenced. The proposal for such a line was communicated to his noble Relative and himself, and both saw its great importance, not only in a local, but in a national point of view. As an Officer in Her Majesty's Service, he was anxious for such a line, not only as regarded the town which he represented, but also as a means of placing the defence of the country in a more efficient state. By having a line of railway along the coast, troops of cavalry might be easily brought from the baaracks at Christchurch to act in defence of Lymington, Poole, and Southampton. On such public grounds, he entered warmly into the support of this line. There was a preliminary meeting at Southampton in May. At that meeting, his noble Relative and himself attended. The second meeting was held in July, in Dorchester; and there was passed a resolution appointing a committee, and declaring that every member of it should hold 500l. worth of shares. His noble Relative was exempted from this regulation, on the ground of his having charge of the line in the House of Lords. He himself had declined taking any shares. In the course of last autumn, several meetings were held at Christchurch, Lymington, and in other places. There was some objection to the line passing through the New Forest. He saw no more objection to a railroad than to a turnpike-road. On the Members for South Hants declining to promote the undertaking, his noble Relative undertook to hold the usual intercourse with the Board of Trade. He saw his noble Relative immediately after his interview with Lord Dalhousie, whom his noble Relative represented to have said, that he could not yet decide which line was the best, but that he should be guided only by what the public interest required. It was said in the debate last night that some time before the decision of the Board as to this line was announced, it was well known what it would be. Now, he must say, no such certainty was felt in the part of the country wheae he he lived; on the eontrary, the prevailing rumour of the day was unfavourable to the Southampton and Dorchester line. He thanked the House for the attention and indulgence with which they had received this explanation.

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