§ MR. AGLIONBY moved the Second Reading of the East Indian Railway Company (for making one or more Railways in the East Indies) Incorporation Bill. He thought it right to observe, that he moved the second reading of this Bill with the consent of the Board of Control, under circumstances which he would briefly state to the House. The Bill would be necessary only in the event of the Company's continuing to exercise their functions—a contingency which would altogether depend on the issue, whether successful or otherwise, of the negotiations now going on with the Executive Government of India. Should the Company continue, the Bill contained provisions by which they would be enabled to regulate and reduce their shares, and for the regulation of some other matters; but if the Company ceased to exist, then, of course, the Bill would be of no use whatever. What he proposed was, that the House should agree to the second reading, and when it went into Committee he would alter or strike out any of the clauses that might be objected to by the Indian Government, or introduce any new provisions, so as to bring it in accordance with their views. The understanding was, that so far as regarded India, the Company would receive a charter; but such was altogether unnecessary in England, where the proper course was to proceed by Bill in Parliament. For the reasons he had now stated, he hoped the House would consent to the second reading, and he was ready, on going into Committee, to make such alterations in the measure as the Indian Government might think necessary.
§ SIR J. C. HOBHOUSE
, under the circumstances mentioned by his hon. Friend, had no intention to object to the second reading of the Bill. He understood from his hon. Friend that what he intended was just this—that if the Bill should proceed at all, he would strike out all those parts that ought to be arranged by charter, and 1041 not by Act of Parliament. If the Bill had remained in the state in which it was originally presented to the House, it would most certainly have been his duty to state that it would not be entertained without the consent of the Indian Government, and for this reason, that all the land was vested in the East India Company, and that these railroads could only pass through the Government lands on the supposition that the East India Company were willing to make a grant in their favour. As to the negotiations to which the hon. Gentleman had referred, he could only at present express the hope that the result would be satisfactory to all parties.
§ Bill read a second time, and committed, and referred to the Committee of Selection.