HC Deb 14 July 1857 vol 146 cc1508-10

Order for Second Reading read.


said, he rose to move the second reading of this Bill, the object of which was to facilitate the means of ob- taining justice in cases of dispute between private individuals and the railway companies, in connection with the traffic on existing railways. The measure dealt with a very large interest, and he presumed that the Ministry even could not disregard the claims of railway proprietors. He was himself a railway proprietor. He was desirous to know what authority it was the House recognized in such matters. In introducing this Bill, he was supported by the authority of the Committee—an authority which must be of the highest weight with the House. Under the former Act, a private individual who was injured by the traffic arrangements had no remedy against a railway company, except through the Court of Common Pleas, the expense of which was ruinous. He proposed to give the party injured a right of making a complaint to the Board of Trade, who would call on the company for an explanation, and if that was not satisfactory, they would then put the law in Motion, as provided by the former Act.

Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."


said, that as the law now stood, any private person to whom a railway company denied proper facilities might appeal to the Court of Common Pleas to compel the company to afford him such facilities, or the Board of Trade might direct the Attorney General to commence a prosecution, against the company for the same purpose. The Bill of the hon. Gentleman sought to retain to the private individual the power which he had at present of going to the Court of Common Pleas, and it gave him, in addition, the power of going to the Board of Trade, and of compelling them to investigate the complaint. He (Mr. Lowe) objected to the Bill as unfair to the railway companies, because it exposed them to the grievance of being twice vexed on the same matter. They would be first liable to be tried by the Board of Trade, and if the Board of Trade decided against them they might be tried again before the Court of Common Pleas; or, if the Board of Trade decided in their favour and dismissed the complaint, it would be open to the person to go to the Court of Common Pleas himself. He objected to the Bill also, because it was unfair to the public, by burdening the Treasury with the expense of prosecuting every man's private grievances. He objected to it also on account of the Attorney General, who had quite enough to do at present without being compelled to prosecute all the railway companies in the kingdom; and, finally, he objected to it on behalf of the Board of Trade, which, if it were fit for anything, was fit to exercise a discretion in matters of this sort, and ought not to be forced to enter into investigations and to institute prosecutions in cases where such proceedings were not necessary, and which had no judicial power, no machinery, and no aptitude to enable it to carry out such a duty satisfactorily. For these reasons he objected to the hon. Gentleman's Bill. The hon. Gentleman had made some reflections on the conduct of the Court of Common Pleas. He (Mr. Lowe) had read the decisions of the Court of Common Pleas, and he thought that court had decided with great wisdom and fairness. Undoubtedly, that court had not very easy machinery for the purpose; but it was the machinery which Parliament had devised, and the learned Judges seemed to have got it into working order with great fairness, and he was certain it would not be improved by burdening the court with the business which would be imposed on it by the present Bill. He moved that the Bill be read a second time that day three months.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months."

MR. KNATCHBULL-HUGESSEN moved, that the House do now adjourn.

Motion made, and Question, "That this House do now adjourn," put, and agreed to.

House adjourned at a quarter before One o'clock.