§ LORD DALMENY
moved the Second Reading of the Edinburgh and Glasgow, and Scottish Central Railways Junction Bill.
§ MR. F. MAULE
hoped that his noble Friend would not press the second reading of that Bill at present. He was not opposed to it, but merely wished it to be delayed until the Report of the Committee that had been appointed to inquire into all Amalgamation Lines of Railway should be received.
§ LORD DALMENY
begged to remind his hon. Friend who had intimated that he was not opposed to the second reading of the Bill, that he had given a notice of a 69 Motion to read the Bill a second time that day six months; therefore he had every reason to believe, that it was the intention of his hon. Friend to oppose the Bill in all its stages. He hoped the House would allow the second reading, so that the merits of the Bill might be gone into in Committee, where he would be prepared to meet all the objections that his hon. Friend might there make to it.
§ MR. F. MAULE
said, his opposition to that Bill was purely upon public grounds, and he believed he might with safety state, that it would be opposed to the interests of his own constituents of the city of Perth. He was opposed to it because he did not wish to see the entire communication between the north and south of Scotland bcome a great monopoly by being thrown into the hands of one particular body, which the amalgamation of these two lines of railway was calculated to effect. When he had given his notice of Motion that the Bill should be read that day six months, he was not aware that his hon. Friend the Member for North Lancashire (Mr. W. Patten) had given notice of the Motion for the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into the subject of proposed Amalgamation Bills; and as that was the case, he did not intend to proceed with the Motion for which he had given notice, but merely intended to move in place of it that the Bill should be read that day six weeks, which would allow sufficient time for the Report of the Amalgamation Committee to be received. He would therefore move as an Amendment, that the Bill should be read that day six weeks.
§ MR. W. PATTEN
was of opinion that the Committee had nothing whatever to do with the second reading of that or any other Bill; and he would recommend with regard to the second reading of that Bill, that the discussion should take place upon its merits without waiting for the Report of the Committee, whose duty it was to inquire into a different matter, which the second reading could not possibly interfere with.
was delighted with what had fallen from the hon. Member (Mr. Patten), who was Chairman of the Classification Bill; and he would recommend his hon. Friend to follow his example. He was opposed to postponement. His hon. Friend wished to obtain time to bring down his forces, and oppose the further progress of the Bill.
§ MR. F. BARING
was favourable to the 70 suggestion that the second reading of the Bill should be postponed till the Report of the Amalgamation Committee should be received, as, in case the Bill was then read a second time, and allowed to go into Committee, and afterwards that it should appear that the Report of the Amalgamation Committee was against its further progress, and it should then be thrown out, an unnecessary and useless additional expense would have been incurred; therefore, he was of opinion, as the House had appointed the Committee, that it would be much better to postpone the second reading of the Bill until the Report was received.
§ SIR G. CLERK
said, that the House having appointed a Committee to inquire into all the proposed amalgamations, he thought it would be very inconsistent in them if they did not adopt the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for North Lancashire, for the suspension of all Amalgamation Bills. He would suggest that the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Perth for the postponement of the second reading of the Bill then before the House till that day six weeks should be withdrawn, and that the right hon. Gentleman would allow that Bill to take the same course as the others; and the House should not allow the second reading of that or any other Amalgamation Bill, but that they should all be suspended in their present stages, with the view that no prejudice should be taken against any of them in particular.
§ MR. FOX MAULE
had no objection to withdraw his Motion for the six weeks' suspension, and substitute any other time by which it was thought the Committee would have made their Report.
§ VISCOUNT EBRINGTON
observed that his experience as a Member of the Committee to whom had been referred a group of Caledonian lines enabled him to state that in the great majority of cases the idea of competition between railway companies was altogether illusory. Some general rules ought unquestionably to be laid down applicable to different cases of amalgamation, otherwise great confusion and inconvenience would result in consequence of the 71 Committees coming to all kinds of conflicting decisions. Instead of appointing a Committee to take the question of amalgamation into consideration, the better course by far would have been for the Government to have taken the matter into their own hands, and to have come before the House at an early period of the Session, prepared with general rules and regulations to govern the conduct of the Railway Committees in all cases of proposed amalgamation.
§ MR. STUART WORTLEY
was for placing this Bill in exactly the same position with other Amalgamation Bills, which had been permitted to receive a second reading, and he would accordingly vote against the postponement.
§ MR. P. M. STEWART
was averse to the second reading, for he was of opinion that the wisest course that the House could adopt was to order all Bills of this description, without any exception whatever, to remain in statu quo until the Report of the Select Committee which had been appointed to take the general question of amalgamation into consideration had been laid before the House. If the door were to be opened for the admission of the present Bill, all other Amalgamation Bills would of course be entitled to enter as well.
The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
was under the impression that the moment that they had resolved to appoint the Committee of Amalgamation, the House had substantially laid down the rule, that until the decision of that Committee was known, all further proceedings in the case of Amalgamation Bills were to be suspended. He was for adhering to this course, and thought that the present Bill, and all others of a similar character, should be permitted to fall under the same rule. Much inconvenience would assuredly result if, on the strength of a precedent which had been set last night, all Railway Bills of this description were to receive a second reading, while the question which involved the course to be pursued in reference to amalgamation generally was still pending.
§ MR. F. MAULE
then withdrew his original Motion, and moved—That the Second Reading of this Bill be postponed until the Report of the Committee on Railway Amalgamations should have been laid before the House; and that a similar rule shall apply to all other Bills for the Amalgamation of Railways.
§ MR. HOME DRUMMOND
said, that he should certainly support the second reading of this Bill, as he could see no other definite line to draw between the Amalgamation Bills that were to be advanced, and those that were to be stopped, than the passing of the Motion of the hon. Member for North Lancashire, which had this object specially in view. If the House were to go back to the first expression of the intention to interfere with Amalgamation Bills, they could not apply that rule to the present Bill without manifest injustice; for they had already allowed other Bills to be read a second time since that intention was announced. They could not treat this Bill differently without fixing on it a stigma which would affect it most injuriously in the estimation of the public.
§ The House divided on the Question, that the word "now" stand part of the Question:—Ayes, 40; Noes, 34: Majority, 6.
§ Bill read 2a.