§ Order for consideration, as amended, read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed—"That the Bill be now taken into consideration."
§ MR. SPOONER
said, he rose to move that the consideration of the Report be postponed for a week. The Report had formerly been brought up, and his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade objected to portions of it, when it was postponed to meet his views. At the same time it was proposed that the evidence should be printed, but the printer had informed them that copies of the evidence could not be furnished before Friday. 1607 He rose to request, therefore, that the House would postpone their decision till they had the evidence before them. He would rest his Motion on that ground alone, and would not go into the merits of the case; but he might state that the Committee had taken upon them to decide a question now pending in the courts of equity. The London and North-Western and the Manchester and Sheffield had an engagement which was not terminable without a seven years' notice. By that arrangement, also, the Manchester Company enjoyed certain privileges at the London and North-Western Company's station at Manchester. But now the Manchester and Sheffield Company had broken the agreement, and entered into another with the Great Northern Company. The Committee had taken upon themselves to decide that the agreement between the London and North-Western and the Manchester and Sheffield Companies was ultra vires. Now, as this was a question before the Court of Chancery, he thought the Committee had done wrong in deciding it. The Committee had, however, negatived the charge of a breach of faith on the part of the London and North-Western. If the Bill, as it stood, was carried out, it would completely destroy all competition between the west and the east coast of England. He confined his opposition at present, however, to the fact that the evidence which the House had ordered to be printed could not be in the hands of hon. Members before Friday next, and, therefore, he moved that the consideration of the Bill should be postponed to that day week.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon Monday next."
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
said, he must object to any further postponement of the Bill, and wished to know upon what grounds the further adjournment was asked? There had already been one adjournment for the purpose of introducing certain provisions which were necessary for the protection of the public interests; those provisions were agreed to, and now they were asked to adjourn a second time, till the evidence taken in the course of twenty-one days' sitting should be presented and laid before them. Unless the House was prepared to go through the whole of that evidence and 1608 review the decision of the Committee, he contended that no case had been made out. It was to be remembered that the Committee were unanimous in their decision. The only argument ever urged against the Bill was with reference to some supposed agreement, which was, or was supposed to be, contrary to public policy. He hoped that in this case the House would support their Committee. The Bill was now made entirely conformable to the principles established by the Committee of the right hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Cardwell), and an Act of Parliament had been framed entirely upon the Report of that Committee. He trusted the House would show a confidence in their Committee, which had gone very deliberately through the evidence, and he hoped the hon. Gentleman would not press his Amendment.
SIR JOHN HANMER
observed, that, as the Chairman of the Committee, he was bound to say that its Members were unanimous with regard to the point to which the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Henley) had adverted last week. He, for one, adhered to that opinion, but now his hon. Friend opposite said that they had decided a question respecting which there was a lis pendens in the Court of Chancery. But it must be remembered that the Committee itself to which the Bill was referred was possessed of legislative powers, and he was not prepared to say that they were bound to wait for a decision of the Court of Chancery. The facts were that the London and North-Western and the Manchester and Sheffield Railway Companies entered into an agreement. That agreement was broken about a year ago, and in the course of the present Session, after the day was named for the Committee to sit, the London and North-Western Railway, on the 27th March, he believed, filed a bill in Chancery for the purpose of compelling performance of the agreement. Now, it was obvious that if there had been a real intention on the part of the London and North-Western Railway to vindicate their rights they would have done so long low, before. In truth, the proceedings in Chancery were commenced in order to defeat or delay the progress of the Bill. The Committee entered very narrowly into the question whether this agreement was within the powers of the company or not—whether rightly or wrongly, the Committee were unanimously of opinion that the agreement was one which was not capable of being supported. 1609 There was another very important question with regard to which there was a lis pendens respecting the Manchester station, and, so far from interfering with that question, pending the decision of the Court of Chancery, where a question of the right to property was involved, the Committee refused to consider the question, but mediated between the parties, the result of their mediation being that the public interests would be protected until the question was decided by the Court. He must say he knew no reason why the Bill should be postponed; but at the same time he had not the least objection to its being postponed if the House thought proper.
§ MR. YOUNG
said, that he would explain how the interests of his constituency (Yarmouth), were affected by the Bill. They were largely engaged in the fishing trade, and upwards of 50,000 tons of fish were landed every year in Yarmouth. Before tills arrangement there was no facility for bringing fresh fish from Yarmouth to Manchester and the manufacturing districts before eight o'clock in the evening, but, since this arrangement, fish taken over night, arrived there at one o'clock in the day. He hoped the House would pass the Bill.
§ MR. HENLEY
said, the promoters of the Bill had agreed to all the suggestions he had made, and he had nothing more to object. But his hon. Friend had objected on other grounds; and as it appeared that the evidence was not yet printed, he would suggest to his hon. Friend to allow the Report to be received now, on the understanding that the third reading should be postponed till Monday next. By that time the evidence would be in the hands of hon. Members, and his hon. Friend could object to the third reading if there was anything in the Report to justify that course.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Main Question put and agreed to.
§ Bill considered;—Amendments made; Bill to be read 3°.