HC Deb 07 March 1853 vol 124 cc1224-5

Sir, I have a question to put to the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, to which it is probable he can give me an answer without notice. I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether his attention has been directed to the sacrifice of human life and the frightful extent of suffering and mutilation that has been caused by railway accidents during the last few months, and more especially during the last few days? I have further to ask if the attention of Her Majesty's Government has been directed to the matter with the hope and expectation of being able to devise a remedy, and to obtain information on the subject?


Sir, the right hon. Gentleman does me no more than justice when he says that his question is one which I am capable of answering without notice. It so happens that before I had the honour of entering the Board of Trade for the fulfilment of my duties, it was my misfortune to be a witness of one of those railway catastrophes. On the very first day I entered the. Board of Trade I had an opportunity of communicating privately with some of the railway authorities, and I requested of them to give their particular attention at once to a question so much raised after the melancholy accident in the vicinity of Oxford, namely, the establishment of a means of communication between the guard and driver. I believe that by the railway companies generally, and especially by Mr. Cubitt, the engineer of the Great Northern Railway Company, that subject is undergoing the most careful consideration. Afterwards I sent Captain Simmonds to France and Belgium to investigate the means of communication that have been adopted on their lines. The subject is undergoing the most careful consideration from the Board of Trade weekly, and I may almost say daily. The right hon. Gentleman is aware that the Committee is now sitting not merely on amalgamations, but on all subjects connected with railway communication; and it is my intention to bring Captain Simmonds before that Committee, and to lay before that Committee all the information I can procure.