Mr. Beckett Denison
said, that as many rumours were in circulation respecting the proceedings of the Railway Department of the Board of Trade, and that arrangements had been made between contending railroad companies, under the cognizance, and at the suggestion, of that Department, he wished to put two or three questions on the subject to his right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Board of Trade. The first question was, whether the Railway Department of the 1155 Board of Trade, or some of its officers, have not, with a view to a favourable Report, negotiated between various companies projecting railroads between London and York, for the purpose of inducing them to make mutual concessions to, and arrangements with each other, but without any invitation or even intimation being made to the London and York Railway Company to take any part in such negotiations? Secondly, whether the Cambridge and Lincoln, and Direct Northern Companies, were not invited, and did not attend at the Board of Trade in the week previously to the publication of the Gazette of Tuesday the 11th of March, with reference to a coalition, as a condition to their being favourably reported upon? Thirdly, whether the Board of Trade has not negotiated, or is now negotiating, with the Newark and Sheffield Company, with a view to receiving its pledge that in next year it will apply to Parliament for leave to make a railroad from Newark to Sleaford, to join the Cambridge and Lincoln line? And, lastly, whether such a course of proceeding on the part of the Railway Department of the Board of Trade is not, in the opinion of the Vice President, exceeding the power recommended to be delegated to that Department by the Select Committee on Railroads as set forth in their Report of 1844?
§ Sir G. Clerk
said, he had no hesitation in giving an answer to the questions of his hon. Friend respecting the Railway Department of the Board of Trade. In answer to the first question, he could state most distinctly that no suggestion as to any negotiations between contending lines, or inducements for the Direct Northern and the Cambridge and Lincoln to unite, had been made; and no facilities were given to these railroad companies which were not given to his hon. Friend and the other promoters of the London and York Company; and with respect to the second question, as to whether the Cambridge and Lincoln and Direct Northern Companies were not invited to attend the Board of Trade, some days before the 11th of March, and that a coalition was suggested as a condition of being favourably reported on, he (Sir G. Clerk) could state that no such invitation had been given at any time. The facts of the case were simply these:—On the Saturday before the day on which these railroads were reported on in the Gazette, some person called at the Board of Trade, and said that a negotiation for a 1156 union was being carried on, and was nearly completed, between the direct Northern and the Lincoln and Cambridge lines; and on the Monday an official communication was made to the Board to that effect. Until this communication was given, the Board of Trade had no knowledge of the existence of such intention to unite on the part of the two companies. With regard to the third question, as to whether any communications from the Board of Trade had not been made with a view to negotiations for a union between the Newark and Sheffield Company and the Cambridge and Lincoln Company, he could state that no such communications had, or were going on, sanctioned by the Board of Trade. Under these circumstances it was almost unnecessary for him to answer the last question. Nothing had been done by his noble Friend who devoted so much of his time and so much ability to this matter, which was not perfectly in conformity with the intentions of Parliament when it referred to the Board of Trade to carry into effect the intentions of the House as expressed in the Resolutions agreed to last July.
§ Viscount Howick
only wished to ask further, as they had not got an answer to an important part of the questions, as to whether the negotiations for a union had not been suggested by the Board of Trade.
§ Sir G. Clerk
replied, that he had intended to have communicated to the House that his noble Friend at the head of the Board of Trade had assured him that no suggestions for a union had been made on the part of that Department to the two companies. The first time that he had heard of the circumstance was only on the Saturday previous to the publication of the Tuesday's Gazette, containing the report of the rival lines.
§ Viscount Howick
said, that was no answer to his question. He had asked whether the suggestion of the propriety of such union had, not, in the first place, been made by the Board of Trade?
§ Mr. Ricardo
asked whether an intimation had not been made to one or both of these companies that such a coalition would make a difference in the Report of the Board of Trade?
§ Sir G. Clerk
could state that no such intimation had ever been made. The Report, in detail, on these rival lines 1157 would be laid on the Table to-morrow, when it would be seen that the Board of Trade came to its decision on grounds which had not been adverted to.