§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ MR. J. L. RICARDO
presented several petitions from Stoke-on-Trent and other places in favour of the Bill, and proceeded to move the Second Reading of this Bill. He wished to state the reasons which had induced him to bring this measure before the House. He was chairman of a line the object of which was very much to shorten the distance between London and Manchester, and he found there were means by which another company might prevent that line being used, and the public having the advantage it was calculated to give. Under these circumstances he came to Parliament for a private Bill in reference to that particular case; but, on inquiring, it appeared that the grievance was so general, that he 1067 considered it to be his duty to bring in a public Bill on the subject, applicable to all railways. The subject was one which had been fully considered; no less than six Committees had sat upon it, and fourteen reports had been laid before the House in reference to it, all of which pointed to the necessity of some such measure as he now proposed. The Committee of 1839 in their report stated that it was indispensable for the safety of passengers and the traffic, that the rivalry of competing companies on the same line should be put an end to, and that some general supervision or control should be exercised over all railways. The Committee of 1841 arrived at a similar conclusion, recommending that when such competing companies could not make arrangements for carrying on their traffic in such a manner as should secure to the public those facilities they had a right to look for, and at the same time to secure them from danger, the question should be referred to arbitration. It was clear, then, that that Committee considered that the public should not be left to the tender mercies of the railway companies, but that some legislative control or supervision should be established. But the Committee over which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford presided, went further than this. It recommended the interference of Parliament in regard to the accommodation which should be afforded, by requiring every railway company to run at least one third-class train every day, which recommendation was afterwards embodied in an Act of Parliament, accompanied by regulations far more stringent than any he now proposed. Before, therefore, his proposition was condemned as one that would be injurious to the interest of the railways, it would be well to ascertain how this more stringent interference had operated. From a return he had obtained of the number of passengers carried, and the money earned by the various classes of trains, he found that the receipts of the one Parliamentary train per day in 1849 had been 1,059,785l., and from all the other trains—six or seven in number—running at high rates, and wholly unfettered by any Parliamentary or other interference or control, had been 5,035,000l.; the receipts per mile of the Parliamentary train averaging 6s. 6d., and those of the Other trains only 5s. Such had been the result of the interference under the Bill brought in by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford 1068 when he was President of the Board of Trade. But this was not the only instance of Parliamentary interference in such matters; there was scarcely a Railway Bill passed that did not contain some one or more of the regulations he now proposed to extend to them all. And when he heard of railroad companies talking of coming to Parliament for power to increase their rate of tolls, it was a question whether, as a condition, they ought not to be called upon to give more accommodation to passengers, and greater facilities to the traffic. They had sanctioned the making of 500 miles of railway at a cost of 15,000,000l. merely for the purpose of shortening the distance from point to point; but while the companies were permitted to make arrangements by which the public were debarred from benefiting by those shorter routes, it was clear that the intentions of Parliament when they granted the power for making these lines, were defeated. At present, by the arrangements of these competing lines, parties arriving at the junction where the lines of two competing companies joined, were compelled to change carriages, and generally to cross the line at no slight risk of danger, and with the probability of losing their luggage; and when they arrived at the platform on the other side, it was often to find that the train by which they proposed to continue their journey had already started. For it was one of the many modes by which these competing companies impeded the traffic of each other, and obstructed the convenience of the travelling public, to delay the trains on the trunk line until after the starting of the branch train from the junction. The public were entirely in the power of railway companies. They moment they entered a carriage the power of free agency ceased, and the train went just when, where, and at what rate the railway officials thought fit. He did not blame the administrators of railway affairs, but was rather inclined to attribute the blame to the defective state of the law. He brought forward this measure entirely on public grounds, and he thought, if passed, it would conduce greatly to the public advantage. It was not only the conveyance of passengers, but the goods traffic also, that was impeded by the present state of railway management. In a petition presented to the House of Lords, from a distinguished person, a lord lieutenant of a county, known to many hon. Members, but whom he would not name, simply because he desired to avoid intro- 1069 ducing the name of any one into the discussion, the mode in which the public were deprived of the advantages which railways were intended to confer, with regard to the conveyance of goods, was stated; and it appeared from that statement that certain of the directors of a railway, being interested in quarries and coal mines in the vicinity of their line, not only got their own minerals conveyed at a lower rate of toll then was charged upon minerals forwarded by other parties, but, by delaying these latter, and by refusing to receive them except at particular and distant stations, shut them out of the market. He believed the regulations he proposed would be equally beneficial to the railways and to the public. The provisions of his Bill were shortly these:—In the first place, he proposed that the company might be required to stop for passengers and trucks at every junction; another proposition was, that efficient passenger trains should be provided at every junction, to carry on the traffic, and that the company having command of the junction should be bound to attach carriages of other lines when they contained a certain number of passengers; but he did not think it would be reasonable, if there were only one or two passengers in a carriage, that it should be attached to the proceeding train in that case. He also proposed that when a train arrived after its time at the junction, it should be forwarded at the expense of the company which had been the cause of the irregularity. He also proposed that railways acting as carriers should carry goods from every junction, and that all goods' waggons and trucks arriving at the junction should be forwarded, if required; and that all minerals should be forwarded within twelve hours after notice. He now came to the most important clause of the Bill, and which he believed had been the occasion of all the opposition with which he was threatened from the railway interest—that was the equal rating clause. But, in reality, there was but little of novelty in that clause, for in effect the same provision was contained in the Railway Clauses Consolidation Act, the only difference being that he omitted in the present Bill the words "under like circumstances," the introduction of which in the Bill he referred to had led to much inconvenience. These were the general provisions of the Bill; and though he was not altogether surprised, seeing the depreciation which railway property had undergone, that every 1070 interference with that property should be regarded with suspicion, he believed that those hon. Gentlemen who were connected with railways would best consult the interests they represented by giving it a fair consideration. It was not by high tolls, expensive litigation, or parliamentary contests that railway property was to be restored to its proper value, but by a large view of the requirements of the traffic of the country as a whole, by encouraging it in every way, and by giving the fullest facilities for its full development.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."
§ MR. GLYN
hoped the House would indulge him with their attention for a few minutes, while he stated the reasons that would induce him to vote against the second reading of this Bill. He did not appear there as the representative of any particular company, because it so happened that the particular line with which he was more immediately connected would be placed by this Bill in a better position than at present. But this Bill was so filled with details and intricate questions of traffic and interchange of traffic, of working the lines, and of accommodating the public, that it was impossible the House could pass it without much more information than was at present placed in their hands. Now, for instance, the first clause gave adjoining companies power, on serving notice to that effect, to compel any trains they pleased to stop at the junction stations. Now, the favourite trains with the public were the express trains; and there could be no doubt that, immediately on the passing of this Bill, notice would be given for the stoppage of all the express trains. What would the consequence be? Between Carlisle and London there were eleven junctions or more; and he would ask hon. Members in what case they would be if they found that, in travelling from Carlisle to London, they were compelled to make eleven unnecessary stoppages? It was plain that such a system would vitiate and destroy the whole system of express trains. The next clause would compel the trunk lines to put on trains to meet passengers coming by the trains of junction lines. He would call upon the House to consider the increase of danger that would thus be occasioned on the trunk lines if the powers of arranging and despatching their trains were, to that extent, taken out of their hands, and causing trains to be run, not 1071 at their own pleasure, but according to the will of another and a rival company. There was also a clause regarding the regulation of fares, which, if carried into effect, would prohibit the using of season tickets, or the running of special trains for the accommodation of benefit societies, or other parties on pleasure excursions, all of which were issued on a reduced scale of fares, and which had been found so beneficial, particularly in large towns. All these excursion trains would be put an end to if the hon. Gentleman's Bill were to become law. He mentioned these things to show how inefficiently the Bill had been drawn; and he begged to say he did not blame his hon. Friend for that, who had as much information on the subject of railways as any one; but matters of detail could only be dealt with by the officials on the lines. Clause 11 required that all railway passengers be booked by the shortest route. Now, the principle laid down by Committees of that House, and by the Railway Commissioners, was, that the only way of permanently keeping up effectual competition between railways was by circuitous competition, each line having its distinct district to go through, though both came to the same terminus: this clause would destroy that chance. Another reason why he objected to the Bill was, that it would have the effect of giving the Railway Commissioners a complete control over the traffic and internal arrangements of the railways. If his hon. Friend thought that a good thing, he had better say so at once; but if that was not his intention, the Bill ought to be withdrawn. He agreed that there were points connected with railway traffic that called for deliberate and prudent inquiry; but this was not the mode of proceeding. He should be glad to see such an inquiry into the general subject, as took place in 1839 and subsequent years; the Committees which sat then left their inquiry unfinished upon many points, such as the rating of railways, with an understood pledge that it was to be again taken up. He would further add, that this was scarcely the time to interfere with railways when they were in such a depressed state. He did not wish to disguise the fact that for this the railways themselves were much to blame; but he must also say that Parliament was as much to blame, and, therefore, he had a right to appeal to the House that they should pause before they passed a measure that would deeply affect an interest which was seriously suffering already. He beg- 1072 ged to move that the Bill be read a second time that day six months.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."
§ MR. E. B. DENISON
thought some comprehensive measure was necessary to remedy the grievance resulting from competing lines, which would increase as regarded the public the more those lines came into operation. He did not, however, consider the present Bill calculated to meet one hundredth part of the evil, and he would advise the hon. Gentleman to withdraw it, and take his chance of a better measure being brought in at some future time. As an instance of the inconvenience arising from these competing lines, he might mention a case which had occurred on the Lincoln and Grimsby line. On one occasion a clergyman and his wife wanted to go as far as Retford, and they were obliged to wait until 10 o'clock at night at the junction, waiting for the Grimsby train. Similar instances of delay had occurred in other parts of the country. He was quite convinced that the public would continue to be put to great inconvenience unless some controlling power were exercised over all the railways in the kingdom. Considerable inconvenience was experienced by the passengers on the Leeds and Thirsk line, in consequence of the nonstoppage of the trains on the Newcastle and Berwick line to take them to their destination. There was, therefore, an absolute necessity for some controlling power to be exercised in order that the convenience of the public might be consulted. He was sorry to think that the Railway Commissioners were unpopular in the country, because he believed they were most anxious to discharge their duty. If they (the Commissioners) did not take up the subject in a large and comprehensive view, he was convinced the public would be put to increased inconvenience by the ill-feeling and various little tricks and contrivances of railway management. He hoped the Bill would be withdrawn, because its details were very objectionable.
§ MR. AGLIONBY
believed the object of the Bill was to afford increased accommodation and protection to the public, and would therefore support it, if the hon. Member refused to withdraw it. Having long entertained an opinion that the public required protection from the acts of commission and omission of railway directors, 1073 he would support any Bill the principle of which was to afford such protection, and was ready to consider the details in Committee. He could not agree with the hon. Member for Kendal, that the system of express trains would be stopped by the Bill, for there could be no objection to place them on the same footing with mail trains, which were especially exempted. Hon. Gentlemen connected with railways, who were, he was sorry to say, rather numerous in the House, said that the Railway Commissioners had too much control. Now, he thought they had not control enough. The interests of the public ought not to be left to any railway directors whatever; and whatever might be the feelings of the House, the feelings of the passengers were decidedly in favour of alterations in the present system. If they were to trust the newspapers, good grounds of complaint against railway companies were but too often afforded to the public. He respected many railway directors as individuals, but would not trust them as directors, particularly when they had a pecuniary interest at stake; and it should not be forgotten that narrowminded and shortsighted persons were often on railway boards, who could neither see what was for their own benefit, or for that of the public. He trusted to see some change take place in the present state of the law affecting railways, and in the regulation of railway traffic.
MR. V. SMITH
said, the hon. Member for the West Biding had asked his hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-upon-Trent to withdraw this Bill, in the hope of something better being done; but he should like to know what probability was there of such a hope being realised. If a Bill was introduced by his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, hundreds of hon. Members would get up and say they were opposed to the system of centralisation, and could not bear to have great trading interests interfered with; and these principles, excellent no doubt in themselves, would destroy any chance of such a Bill being carried. The Railway Commissioners had never been popular, and, though they had been more unpopular than they were at present, they were not at all likely to carry any measure for the management of railways. All things considered, let them see if something might not be made out of the present Bill. There was a squabble among the directors at last. Let the House make the most of 1074 it. It was the best chance they had of arriving at some result favourable to the public. The railway interest was a very powerful interest in the House, and it was for the public to see if they could not avail themselves of this opportunity, and do something for themselves. The hon. Member for Kendal had not gone into the principle of the Bill at all, but had argued against the clauses. The principle was, that better accommodation was required by the public, and should be enforced, and, the House having affirmed that principle, might consider the objections to the clauses in Committee. The inconvenience under the present system was great. At Peter-borough, for instance, there was a junction of three railways, and, by a lucky difference between the three boards of directors, it so happened that no matter where you wished to go—north, east, or west, for two hours you must stay at Peterborough. There was a fine cathedral there, and the place was worth seeing once, but he had been obliged to stay there so frequently, that he confessed he was rather tired of the view. Notwithstanding all his efforts, that inconvenience still remained in full force.
§ MR. HENLEY
, as one who had no connexion, direct or indirect, with any railway, wished to state the reasons why he could not support the Bill. It was argued that greater control was required on the part of Government over those railway companies; but an important element of consideration was, whether the means proposed were likely to attain that end; and, next, whether they should affirm the principle of a Bill, every detail of which was stated to be objectionable. When it was considered that some 5,000 miles of railway were worked all over the country, the marvel was not that some few cases of inconvenience arose here and there, but that the public were carried with so little inconvenience. If they brought the Government in to meddle with the matter, the public would have less convenience than before. With these feelings, he could not vote for a Bill which had been brought forward, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton gave them to understand, in consequence of some squabble among the railway directors. The interests of the railway companies were the same as those of the public; and while they were in such a state of depression, they would consult the interests of their customers, and would regulate their affairs 1075 much better than Parliament or Government.
§ SIR H. VERNEY
advised the House to abstain from interfering with railways more than was absolutely necessary. He did not object to all Government interference, for fourteen years ago be had proposed the appointment of a commission to determine on an uniform gauge for all railways, and to subject them to a general supervision. The present Bill was full of details so objectionable in every way that even those in-lined to subject railways to Government supervision could not support it. No indisposition to such supervision existed on the part of the railway directors, but they objected to a vexatious interference which would defeat the object the Bill had in view. He would be sorry for the public, and still more for the railway interest, if it was carried.
§ MR. BANKES
said, that while he agreed with much that had fallen from hon. Members as to the necessity of some control over railways, he thought, at the same time, that if a supervision was established over railways and directors, it should be efficient, and entitled to the respect and confidence of the public, and it was because, with all deference and respect to the individuals who held the office of Railway Commissioners, he did not think they were a board of that description, that he could not consent to give them the great and extraordinary additional powers the Bill would confer on them. It was proposed that they should decide not only on the impropriety of any application from one railway company with respect to another, but were to award damages in case they deem it unwarranted or injudicious. He trusted the Government would remodel the present board, if it was to be constituted with such powers and erected into such a tribunal. At the end of last Session the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, in reply to a question he (Mr. Bankes) put as to the continuance of the expense of the present board to the public, stated a Bill had been prepared on the subject, and that further duties would be imposed on the commissioners; but that measure had never passed the other House of Parliament. The duty they now performed was not such as entitled them to their present high remuneration. He did not object to high remuneration to persons discharging onerous duties, but the present board had nothing to do of that description. If they were to have a 1076 tribunal at all, let it be of such a character as would inspire confidence in the public, and give satisfaction to the railway companies. It would be a waste of time to go into Committee on the present Bill, when so many arguments had been urged against it.
§ MR. J. WILLIAMS
complained that the owners of certain collieries in Denbigh had found great injury was being done them in endeavouring to compete with railways in the carriage of their coal, and asked whether the hon. Mover of the Bill was willing to assent to a clause of which he had given him notice?
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he wished to advert to what had fallen from the hon. Member for Dorsetshire, who placed his main objection to the Bill on his continued dislike to the present constitution of the Railway Commission. His observations, however, were not very consistent with each other, for he implied that he would not object to pass such a Bill, provided the Commissioners were a higher or more important body, and then went on to say he complained of the expense of the Commission, and desired it to be reduced to a mere department of the Board of Trade, leaving the President of the board to be advised on questions involving property to an enormous amount, and an extent of confidence not to be overrated, by a mere subordinate officer holding the situation of law clerk on a salary of a few hundreds a year. He asserted with the utmost confidence that care should be taken, the character and station of officers with such trusts should offer a fair guarantee to the public, not only for ability, but for unsuspected integrity. If they were to have a railway department for the sake of the public, let them command the services of such a man as Sir Edward Ryan, who, after fulfilling the highest functions in British India, had most honourably placed his abilities at the disposal of the Government in a situation which many persons who had filled such high offices would have declined to accept. The main object of the Bill was, he apprehended, to facilitate the thorough traffic over the whole system of railways. That was a subject of equal difficulty and importance, and it was obvious that the relations of those railways to each other and to the public were of the most complicated description. He was not surprised that difficulties should have arisen in conducting so vast and intricate a system; and he believed it to 1077 be a matter of no small importance, but, at the same time, of very great difficulty, to regulate it so as to reconcile the convenience of the public with justice to the railway companies. Not only were the questions between railways and the public becoming frequent and difficult, but numerous and intricate questions were arising between railways themselves. Some hon. Gentlemen had stated their belief that a Bill on this subject would have been most advantageously brought forward by Government. He had given his best attention to the subject, and would frankly state the reasons why he had not thought himself justified in proposing any measure to Parliament. He was not ashamed, then, to own that he had weighed the jealousy and suspicion with which any demand for interference on behalf of the Railway Commission would be viewed by Parliament, and he must have been blind to all experience if he was not aware that such were the feelings he would have had to encounter in bringing forward such a measure. When the hon. Member for Dorsetshire said the present Railway Commission was not popular, he begged to ask if there ever had been any persons in that office who had not been unpopular? Any additional powers would only accumulate on them a vast load of unpopularity. Their duties were not of a pleasant nature; and he could assure hon. Gentlemen, as far as he was concerned, duties of a more disagreeable character could not be discharged. The Commission was called on to bring actions against great railway bodies fully represented in the House, for what appeared to be infringements of Acts of Parliament, and there were several actions of that kind pending at this moment. Unpopularity, therefore, was inherent in the very nature of the Railway Commission; but there was no one better qualified than his right hon. Friend, Mr. Strutt, for the situation which he filled, nor any one less likely to incur any degree of unpopularity. Now, with respect to any measure to be brought forward by the Government upon this subject, he must be permitted to say, in explanation of his not having taken any step towards the accomplishment of such an object, that he should not have felt himself justified in attempting it unless he were supported by the general concurrence of the House and the country, and unless the amount of grievance proved to exist was such that he felt it to be sufficient to require and justify the introduction 1078 of a measure of the sort. In the first place, it appeared to him that in dealing with such a question there were many difficulties to be solved, without the solution of which they could not proceed to advantageous legislation. It was true that, from time to time, they heard of occasional squabbles amongst railway companies, but sooner or later those differences were arranged—they were always made up at last. They were of rare occurrence, and till an obvious necessity arose, he thought that Parliamentary interference ought to be avoided. Interference was in many respects objectionable; it ought to be the exception, not the rule. Experience had shown that in most cases like those, the parties had much better be left to themselves. Such considerations as those led him not to propose any Bill on the subject of railway traffic. He was also unwilling to do so in the present state of railway property. In the state that that property was now in, he felt unwilling to introduce any fresh element of disturbance, anything calculated to stimulate speculation, and possibly to bring on a panic. His hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-upon-Trent might not take such views of that question; but, as he (Mr. Labouchere) entertained them, he could not do otherwise than refrain from introducing any legislative measure. Of this be was quite sure, that no such measure ought to be persevered in without the aid to be derived from a previous investigation by a Select Committee of that House. Committees of that House dealing with matters of that description had hitherto taken much out of the hands of the Executive Government, and the House had always shown a stronger disposition to be governed by the advice of those Committees than by the recommendations of Her Majesty's Ministers; he therefore had no doubt that, whatever Bill might be introduced, it would eventually be sent to a Committee upstairs. Before such a Committee the Bill would be fully and carefully considered; they would have on that Committee the assistance of the ablest and most distinguished Members in that House, and, backed by the report of such a body, the Railway Department of the Government might perhaps advantageously bring forward a measure on the subject which now engaged the attention of the House, But as matters stood, he could not do otherwise than join in the recommendation which had been addressed to his hon. Friend the 1079 Member for Stoke-upon-Trent, and urge the withdrawal of the measure for the present. He should also recommend his hon. Friend not to press for the appointment of a Committee just at this moment, though he might think it desirable that the Bill should be referred to one; and he (Mr. Labouchere) thought that not only that Bill, but that the whole subject of railway traffic ought to be investigated by a Select Committee; considering, however, that there were a great many Committees at present sitting, and that they therefore could not hope to have the assistance of the more eminent Members of the House, he thought it doubtful whether a Committee could at that period of the Session be advantageously appointed. If, however, his hon. Friend were more sanguine than he, and hoped that they could in the present Session institute a useful examination into the subject by means of the labours of a Committee, then he should, rather than consent to any declaration by Parliament against the principle of the Bill, agree to its second reading, on the clear understanding that before the Bill proceeded any further, the whole subject was to undergo investigation by a Select Committee. If, then, his hon. Friend pressed for a division, he should, upon that understanding, not refuse to vote for the second reading of the Bill. But in saying so, he wished to guard himself further, by observing, that though the object of the Bill had his concurrence, it nevertheless contained some most objectionable clauses. As to the shortest route clause, it only embodied a principle on which the House had always acted.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
said, that the right hon. Gentleman who last spoke had addressed the House with his usual frankness, and he must admit without any appearance of reserve; but he (Mr. Gladstone) wished that the right hon. Gentleman had indicated more decidedly the view which he took of the question before the House. The right hon. Gentleman, in effect, told the House that his vote should be suspended at the will and pleasure of the hon. Member for Stoke-upon-Trent, and that if the hon. Member would only consent to move for a Select Committee, to which the whole question, not merely the Bill, but all matters relating to railway traffic, were to be referred, he would vote for the second reading of the Bill. Now, it certainly was quite opposed to the practice of Parliament for the House first to agree to the second 1080 reading of a Bill, and then to appoint a Select Committee to investigate the whole subject to which the Bill had reference. It was certainly not the practice of that House to affirm a principle by giving a Bill its second reading, and then appoint a Committee of Inquiry to investigate the whole subject, not alone details, but principles, which Committee might ultimately advise the House not to pass any Bill at all. He was sorry that the right hon. Gentleman had entered into the old question of the constitution of the Railway Commission in a manner which must carry with it an idea of disparagement of the character of a gentleman then attached to the Railway Department of the Board of Trade, and whom the right hon. Gentleman had referred to as a "law clerk at a few hundreds a year;" while the fact was that this gentleman was fully as successful in the discharge of his duties on "a few hundreds a year," as were the more magnificently endowed establishments which Parliament had seen fit to found at a later period. The right hon. Gentleman might have recollected that this mere "law clerk," upon being transferred to the management of the Brighton Company, added by hundreds of thousands, if not millions, to the value of their stock. With respect to the Bill, he retained the opinions which he had always held upon the subject. He agreed in much that had fallen from his hon. Friend the Member for Dorsetshire, and he paid a willing tribute to all who had acted upon the commission; but the point to which he more particularly wished to direct the attention of the House, was that which indicated the state of mind of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade. As those were the opinions of Government, he did think it utter waste of time to proceed to the second reading of the Bill, for he felt assured that, under such circumstances; it could not survive the Committee; and even if it should reach the House of Lords, and become law, it must of necessity break down. Amongst the reasons which the right hon. Gentleman had given for not proceeding with the Bill was this, that complaints of through traffic were rare; but he admitted that there was a considerable amount of public inconvenience. Then the right hon. Gentleman indicated the course which he wished the hon. Member for Stoke-upon-Trent to pursue. For that hon. Member's abilities he entertained the highest respect; but if a Committee were to be appointed, 1081 it must be conducted by the right hon. Gentleman himself. Some time ago, when he (Mr. Gladstone) was connected with the Board of Trade, and when the affairs of railways were much less complex than they had recently become, he felt the difficulty of this subject; and he entertained a strong opinion that there would be difficulties insuperable so long as the companies remained independent of each other. There would always, he thought, be great difficulty in working any measure having reference to the transfer of trains from the domain of one company to that of another. If they should arrive at that point when a Committee of Investigation would enter upon its labours, they must be prepared for the enormous question of purchase or leasing to companies taking the full and absolute direction. Upon these points he should not then express any opinion; but he hoped that the House now, and at any future time, considering the subject, would begin by bringing before their minds a sense of its extreme difficulty.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, with reference to the expressions he had used regarding Mr. Laing, in speaking of whom he certainly had mentioned the words "a law clerk," he wished to observe that Mr. Laing was a friend of his own; he was known to many Members of that House; there could be no mistake about the respect due to his character; nothing was further from his mind than to treat that gentleman with the least appearance of disrespect, and he wished to take that opportunity of saying that he thought gentlemen like him ought not to be so situated in the public service as that other parties should be able to hold out to them prospects sufficient to induce them to quit the employment of the State.
§ MR. RICARDO
, though consenting to give up the Bill, was resolved to keep attention alive on the subject. He regretted that the views of the Government had not been more clearly indicated.
§ Question, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question," put, and negatived.
§ Words added.
§ Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
§ Second Reading put off for six months.