§ MR. STANFORD
begged to ask the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, whether there was any intention on the part of Government to introduce a Bill for the audit of railway accounts this Session?
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, that another hon. Member had given him notice of asking a similar question to-morrow, but he had no objection to give an answer at once. The House would recollect that when he had expressed an opinion as to the necessity of such a measure last Session, certain hon. Gentlemen, who were directors of railway companies, deprecated any intervention in the audit of railway accounts by the Government, but at the same time they undertook to consider the course that they might think necessary to pursue during the recess. He had stated at the time that it was extremely desirable an efficient system of audit should emanate from that body rather than from the Government, but that he should not consider the Government precluded from doing what they thought necessary on the subject hereafter, should the directors fail in agreeing to an efficient measure among themselves. Until very recently he had been in hopes that a Bill would be brought forward on the part of the railway directors on this subject, though he had had no source of information on the question except the usual channels open to the public; but he believed it was now generally known that the directors had failed in bringing the matter to that form in which it could be brought before the House. At the same time he believed that a considerable body of shareholders were desirous to bring an Audit Bill before the House. He begged again to say, what he had stated last Session, that he thought it extremely desirable a measure should be brought forward by the proprietors of railway companies, if possible, and that it should be submitted without delay to the House. It was desirable that they should be put in possession of the views of the shareholders themselves, before any proceeding was taken; and if a Bill were introduced by them, he should be ready to give it the best consideration in his power; but, in the meantime, if no Bill were brought in by those connected with railways, he would not hold himself precluded from taking up the question.