HC Deb 14 March 1853 vol 125 cc148-51

On the Order of the Day for the consideration of this Bill as amended,


moved that the Bill be re-committed. This Bill was one to enable the Crystal Palace Company to divert certain roads and make certain purchases of land, and also for other purposes connected with the company. He did not now intend to go at all into the question of the opening of the palace on Sunday, which was far too important to be discussed incidentally on a Motion of this kind, but should confine himself to two points. The House was asked by that Bill to confirm an agreement between the Crystal Palace Company and the Brighton Railway Company, without having the agreement before them, or knowing one word about it. Now, he thought this in itself was highly objectionable. He had, however, obtained a copy of the agreement from the agent for the Bill, and he found that it bound the railway company to run trains to and from the Crystal Palace when it was opened, and to issue tickets entitling the holder to be carried there and back, and to admission into the palace and grounds. From the price received for such tickets the railway company were to deduct 9d. for the fare, and to pay over the remainder to the Crystal Palace Company. This constituted the Brighton Company agents to receive and pay over money to the Crystal Palace Company. Now, the charter obtained by the Crystal Palace Company from the late Government specified distinctly that they should not receive money for admission into the building on Sundays without the authority of an Act of Parliament; but if the power he had mentioned were given, there would be nothing to prevent the Crystal Palace Company from indirectly doing so through the hands of the Brighton Railway. He did not impute any such intention to the directors of the Crystal Palace Company, but he thought that the House ought not give any company the power to evade the obligations of their charter by a side wind.

Motion made, and Question proposed— That the Bill be re-committed, for the purpose of inserting the object, nature, and terms of the agreement entered into on the 22nd day of June 1852, between the Crystal Palace and the London and Brighton Railway Companies, referred to in the said Bill; and that it be an Instruction to the Committee, that they have power to make provision accordingly.


said, he could assure the House that the Directors of the Crystal Palace Company had no desire by indirect means to avoid the obligation contained in their charter, which prevented them from opening the building on Sunday without the authority of Parliament. This, however, was a Bill for the purpose of diverting a road, and it was of very great importance that there should not be one day's delay in procuring the power for making that diversion. With a view to meet the objection which had been raised, if the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Spooner) would allow the Report on the Bill to be considered, he would undertake that the clause with reference to the Brighton Railway Company should be struck out of the Bill on the third reading, so that there could be no pretence at all for supposing that the Bill would be made the means of opening the Crystal Palace on the Sunday in violation of the charter. He hoped, therefore the hon. Gentleman would allow the Bill to be now considered.


said, that he was ready to withdraw his opposition to the Bill, on the understanding that the clause in question were withdrawn on the third reading; but he wished to draw the attention of the House to the very objectionable principle of a company's getting by a side wind the recognition of an agreement which was not in substance before the public or the House, and by means of which the very contrary of that which was the wish of the Legislature might be done.


said, that his hon. Friend was in error in stating that this agreement had not been before the Committee. When he (Mr. Patten) saw the Bill, he took the same objection as the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Spooner), and suggested to the Committee that such a clause should not be admitted. He then found, however, that they had carefully examined it, and had found it unobjectionable, before passing the clause. He himself also examined the agreement, and was in a position to state that there was nothing in it which could, either directly or indirectly, enable the Crystal Palace Company to open their grounds on Sunday. He thought, indeed, that no agreement should be confirmed by that House unless it was set forth in the Bill. However, as the hon. Member for Coventry (Mr. Geach) proposed to strike out the clause on the third reading, he should recommend his hon. Friend the Member for North Warwickshire not to press his Motion.


said, he also thought the proposal of the hon. Member (Mr. Geach) would meet the objection.


said, that as Chairman of the Crystal Palace Company, he could assure the House that they, as promoters of this Bill, had no idea that the agree- ment which had been alluded to could in no way affect the question of Sunday opening; and he wished distinctly to disclaim, on the part of the Directors, any intention to introduce a clause into this Bill which should affect that question. He did not believe it would do so; but, if there was any doubt upon the matter, he was quite willing that it should be struck out.


said, he considered that the offer to withdraw the clause relating to the agreement, quite exonerated the Directors of the Crystal Palace Company from the imputation of desiring, by means of that agreement, to avoid the obligation which the charter imposed upon them.


said, that upon the understanding that the clause in question would be struck out of the Bill at the third reading, he would withdraw his Amendment.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Bill to be read 3°.

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