§ Report from Select Committee on Standing Orders in respect of the Petition, for leave to deposit a Petition for leave to bring in the Edinburgh, Dunfermline, and Perth Junction Railway Bill, read.
§ MAJOR CUMMING BRUCE
said, that he wished to move that leave be given to deposit a petition for a Bill upon this subject, pursuant to the prayer of the petition, upon which the Standing Orders Committee of the 14th of March had reported. He made the Motion on the grounds that the works proposed to be authorized would 1954 be of great importance to the counties of Fife and Kinross and the whole North of Scotland, and that a Bill for a partially competing scheme had been already introduced.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That the Railways and Works proposed to be authorized by the Bill to which such Petition relates being of great importance to the counties of Fife and Kinross, and all the North of Scotland, and it being extremely desirable that they should be considered in the present Session, in which a Bill for authorizing a partially competing scheme has been introduced into Parliament, leave be given to deposit a Petition for a Bill, pursuant to the prayer of the said Petition.
§ MR. WEMYSS
seconded the Motion. The line proposed in the Bill of the Edinburgh, Dunfermline, and Perth Junction Railway had the support not only of the district through which it passed, but was of national importance. It was a saving of twenty miles direct to Perth.
§ COLONEL WILSON PATTEN
said, he wished to explain to the House the view which the Standing Orders Committee took of the Bill. The House was well aware that all railway companies were bound to give notice of the powers they asked for, and of the property which they intended to take. The House was particularly cautious with regard to amalgamation Bills in requiring due notice to be given. Now, there was a proposal for an amalgamation in the Bill with the East and West of Fife Line; but of that no notice had been given, and that constituted one ground for the rejection of the Bill by the Standing Orders Committee. But a still more serious breach of the regulations laid down by the House was that they had professed in their notice to take the Queen's Ferry—an important point, well known to all Members who had travelled northwards—under an equitable agreement with the owners, whereas the Bill itself proposed to take compulsory powers. What made the matter worse was that the company had done the very same thing last year, and the only excuse made this year was that the promoters of the Bill were not the same parties. But in truth the clause was precisely the same as that of last year, and the Standing Orders Committee—who could have no possible feeling upon the subject—had no option but to reject the Bill after that double infraction of the orders of the House. He thought the Standing Orders Committee were bound to do what they had done in order to protect private in- 1955 terests, and to ensure respect being paid to the orders laid down by the House. He made these remarks without prejudice to the merits of the line, which was a matter with which the Standing Orders Committee had nothing to do. The decision of the Standing Orders Committee was unanimous.
§ SIR FRANCIS GOLDSMID
said, that as a member of the Committee he joined in its rejection; but believing it to be for the interest of the district that the line should be made, he hoped the House would pass over the error that had been committed by the promoters.
said, he thought there were exceptional circumstances in connection with the Bill which should induce the House to allow it to be resuscitated. He trusted, therefore, that the House would not allow a question of technical detail to override the real justice of the case. The Bill was intended to confer a real benefit on the district over which it was proposed the line should traverse.
§ SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
said, it would not be fair to the proprietors who petitioned against the Bill to expose them to the expense of opposing the line a second time in the same session. The House ought not to dispense with the Standing Orders on light grounds.
§ MR. R. HODGSON
said, he should support the reinstatement of the Bill, on the ground that it would be beneficial to the community, and that there was a competing scheme before Parliament. There were three Bills now before Parliament, and amongst them the East and West of Fife line, seeking for powers of amalgamation, so that the scheme of amalgamation would not be done away with by refusing to reinstate the Bill.
defended the course adopted by the Standing Orders Committee, which he thought under the circumstances was the only one open to them.
§ MR. MASSEY
said, that the promoters of the Bill were entitled to very little consideration, as a similar infraction of rules to that on which the report was founded had been committed by them in reference to a previous measure. The House should, however, consider whether the public interest was involved in the matter to such an extent as to induce them to take the exceptional course proposed. Having listened attentively to the case made, he did not think it sufficient to justify the setting aside of the report.
§ MAJOR CUMMING BRUCE
said, that after the opinions which had been expressed by various Members of the Standing Orders Committee, he did not feel justified in going to a division, and he would therefore withdraw the Motion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.