§ Bill read 3°.
§ MR. O. GORE moved a clause which, he said, he felt it his duty to propose as chairman of the Shrewsbury and Birmingham line, and still more so as Member for Shropshire—a county which, without it, would be seriously prejudiced by being deprived of due means of communication with the north. Unless Parliament prevented railways from becoming monopolies, they would become the greatest curses to the country. The clause was proposed 385 only to prevent monopoly, and ought to have been acceded to on the part of the promoters of the Bill. If the Bill passed without the clause, the traffic of the Shrewsbury and Birmingham Company might be stopped at Chester, by the promoters of the present Bill, the leviathan of railway companies, the London and North Western Company, which exorcised a huge and unjust monopoly, and lived upon litigation, selfishly and constantly oppressing the smaller companies, as in the present instance. Irish Members were as much interested as he was in resisting such a system, and supporting the proposed clause, which had originally been inserted in the Bill, and had been omitted by mistake.
§ Clause brought up and read 1°.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the said Clause be now read a Second Time."
§ MR. GLYN
entered into a defence of the proceedings of the London and North Western Company. He wished the House to understand that the London and North Western Company were not the promoters of the present Bill. The Bill had originated with the Chester and Holyhead Company, in the full belief that unless the leasing to the London and North Western was sanctioned, or unless Government came forward with assistance, it would be impossible to complete that great undertaking. He could assure the House it was not his desire or wish to see the Bill pass in its present form, for he thought it would be more advantageous to the London and North Western Company to have existing arrangements between the two companies remain in their present state. He objected to the insertion of the clause, as it had been sanctioned by the Committee on ex parte evidence, and would operate injuriously.
§ MR. SLANEY
said, that this clause had been recommended by the Committee. He hoped it would be adopted. As for the stopping of the express trains, he was authorised to say the opposers of the Bill were ready to give up that point.
The ATTORNEY GENERAL
supported the clause. It had been unanimously inserted by the Committee, and had been expunged by an accident: if the House was not disposed to reinsert it, he thought they at least ought not to reject the proposition of the hon. Mover, and refer the question to the Railway Commissioners.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
said, in such a case as this, where one railway ran into another, 386 which formed the continuance and the line of communication of both, there must be conflicting interests, and it was possible that the interests of the public might be prejudiced. The question was one of great difficulty, and which, in 1844, had been considered, and the conclusion arrived at had been that it was impossible to settle it by any general regulation. It was now proposed to leave it to the Railway Commissioners to adjust and regulate the traffic at the point of junction; but he warned the House against deciding, in the case of a particular Bill, what ought to be decided on general principles. The House had, indeed, already declined to sanction a general measure founded on the same principle—the Bill of the hon. Member for Stoke—and he thought they would do well to reject this clause.
§ MR. SHEIL
wished Shrewsbury to be in close communication with Dublin, and apprehended that, if the clause were rejected, and the London and North Western Company were left to its own ideas of self-interest, the communication might be intercepted. The Committee had sanctioned the clause, and he should abide by it.
§ MR. C. VILLIERS
said, the Shrewsbury line had authorised him to agree to a proviso referring to the Railway Commissioners, not, indeed, as erroneously stated by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford, the regulation of the traffic, but the settlement of such points of difference as might arise between the two companies.
§ LORD R. GROSVENOR
said, he had before this had experience of the manner in which the larger companies were prone to oppress the smaller; and the London and North Western Company had actually made it a stipulation of their amalgamation with another company that all facilities should be withdrawn from the Shrewsbury and Birmingham line. The Earl of Dalhousie's scheme for giving the great companies the power of supplying the smaller lines had been rejected, on the ground of its interfering with competition; but if the House desired to retain a rag or shred of competition in this case, it must protect the Shrewsbury Company by inserting this clause.
§ SIR C. DOUGLAS
wished to know whether the Committee who had sanctioned the clause were aware that it was in contravention of other decisions of Committees.
said, between conflicting decisions they had endeavoured 387 to take the course consistent with common sense and justice.
§ MR. ROCHE
said, the right hon. Member for Dungarvon had supported the clause for the sake of communication between Shrewsbury and Dublin. He (Mr. Roche) opposed it for the sake of communication between London and Dublin. The Chester and Holyhead Company were unable to carry on their line without the advance of 500,000l. from the London and North Western Company, who could not advance the money on the terms to be imposed by this clause.
MR. T. EGERTON
said, he believed the Bill of the hon. Member for Stoke had been brought in because the London and North Western Company would not make some fair concessions to the South Staffordshire Company (of which the hon. Member was chairman), and had been withdrawn because, under that compulsion, the London and North Western Company had conceded what they had before refused.
§ MR. G. H. CAVENDISH
proposed, as a compromise, that the clause should be withdrawn, if the Chester and Holyhead Company would give up its leasing powers.
§ MR. JACKSON
acceded to this proposition, and declared that, if the Bill was not passed and acted on (as it could not be if the clause were agreed to), there would be no chance of the Chester and Holyhead Company completing their line.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 118; Noes 137: Majority 19.
§ Bill passed.