§ VISCOUNT ENFIELD
said, he wished to ask the Chairman of Ways and Means, Whether his attention has been called to the extraordinary powers which are sought, and have been sanctioned by Private Bill Committees to Electric Tele- 233 graph Companies and others to lay down telegraphs and erect posts and wires along roads, streets, and footpaths in various parts of the country; and whether he will call the attention of the House to the case on the introduction of the United Kingdom Electric Company Bill into this House, should such a Bill pass the other House of Parliament. He asked this question because he thought Electric Telegraph Companies' Bills ought to be dealt with rather as public measures than Private Bills, in the same way that the Tramways Bill was dealt with last year.
§ MR. MASSEY
said, with regard to the particular Bill to which his noble Friend had referred, it was now before the other House; in the event of its coming down to this House, if it contained anything objectionable it would be his duty to call attention to it. With regard to the more general question, he must say that extra ordinary powers, similar to those now granted to Electric Telegraph Companies were to be found in various Private Bills so far back as 1846. He, however, must agree with his noble Friend that those powers were of an unusual kind, and ought to be watched with very great vigilance. The power to deal upon short notice with streets, highways, and thoroughfares—to take up the roads and lay down posts and wires along places of public resort—was a power which ought not to be lightly granted by that House; and yet Parliament had thought proper in several instances to grant it. With regard to any future attempt that might be made by private speculators to obtain such powers, he agreed so far with his noble Friend as to think that it might be proper for Parliament to consider whether it would not be necessary, by means of Standing Orders or by legislation, to impose some restrictions upon persons seeking to deal with roads and thoroughfares in that way.