HC Deb 05 May 1854 vol 132 cc1389-92

Order for Committee read; House in Committee.

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2.


said he wished to move the following Amendments:—in line 5, after "advantage," insert "with respect to rates of charges, or in any other respect." Line 5, after "in favour of," insert "themselves or." Line 23, after "may be," insert "by the arrangement of the trains run by them upon such railways, and the regulations of the hours of arriving and starting of such trains at the points of junction of such railways, or the points where transit is intended to be made from such lines of railway or canal to the other." In respect to one of these Amendments, he wished to guard as much as possible against the evil arising from the exercise of undue influence by railway companies; and, in respect to the last Amendment, his object was to guard against the sudden stoppage of the public traffic.


said, that the clause was most carefully drawn with a view of providing against such evils as the hon. Member apprehended.


said, he should oppose the Amendments. He thought that, by mentioning one kind of obstruction, they would be giving ground for a legal argument that other kinds of obstruction were not declared to be offences under the Act. As the clause was drawn, it would be much more comprehensive than if the Amendments of the hon. Gentleman were assented to.

Amendments negatived; Clause agreed to.

Clause 3.


said, that, although an injunction might be obtained against a railway company for an act of oppression towards another, such company might adopt other modes of annoyance which would require another injunction to put a stop to. And even then the company might adopt several other modes of oppression, which it would be difficult to stop, save by repeated injunctions. He would, therefore, propose the insertion of words, by which the past as well as the future misdeeds of a railway company would be liable to a penalty every day such acts of oppression were carried on.


said, he hoped that the clause, as it stood, would be found effective in preventing the repetition of such oppression without the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, more especially as he (Mr. Cardwell) would propose to insert "200l." as the penalty for the offence. He did not think that they ought to adopt a new plan by establishing daily penalties for past misdeeds. With regard to a remedy for damage, nothing in this Bill would take away from any individual the right of appealing to a court of common law.


said, as he read the I Bill, it was no part of the general scope of it to punish for past misdeeds. The complaining party would, however, still have his right to appeal to the ordinary legal tribunals of the country.


said, he thought there was a great deal of force in what the hon. Gentleman had said. Everybody knew that when there is a disposition to annoy, a variety of annoyances might be adopted. If they merely made the penalty prospective, they would never succeed effectually in putting a stop to such inconveniences as had been alluded to.


said, he wished to call the attention of the right hon. President of the Board of Trade to this clause, the effect of which was to give to any court of common law, or a single judge of it, power to decide in granting in what could be only obtained in a court of equity—an injunction. There had been great difficulty and expense in this proceeding. A very important question would arise as to whether the judge should hear evidence, and inquire judicially. If not, he could not dispose of it satisfactorily. Even at present, there was not in the courts of common law, the proper machinery for granting an injunction, and yet they were now about to give all this power to a Judge at chambers—a power only exercised by the Lord Chancellor after hearing all the arguments and reading all the affidavits. They were instituting a means of I obtaining these grave decisions without establishing any competent tribunal. It was stated, that if a certain offence was repeated, a certain penalty would attach—a large and a severe penalty, 200l. Yet, after the injunction was obtained, the company might, perhaps, give the go-by to it, and still proceed without taking notice of it. He hoped the Government would not pass this clause, which certainly contained a most startling proposition. He thought the Amendments ought to be all printed, and fully considered.


said, the Motion had been fully considered by legal men of the greatest eminence, who had assented to the clause in its present shape.


said, he wished to know if there would be any appeal.


replied in the negative.

Amendment withdrawn.

Clause agreed to; as were the remaining. clauses.

House resumed. Bill reported.

Forward to