HC Deb 16 July 1863 vol 172 cc866-8

Bill, as amended, considered.


said, the third Bill—the Morayshire Railway Bill—stood on a somewhat different footing. In the first place, the Committee had complied with the Standing Orders, and assigned reasons to warrant a departure from them, and they proposed an Amendment in the Bill. But it appeared to him that this Bill had been framed with the express purpose of evading another Standing Order, the 147th, which also referred to railway companies taking steamboat powers. That Standing Order provided that no railway company promoting a Bill for any other object should, in the same Bill, propose to take steamboat powers—the object of the Standing Order being that no application for steamboat power should escape the attention of the House. This Bill proposed to raise £100,000 for the general purposes of the railway, and in a subsequent clause it proposed to appropriate £600 per annum for the purpose of maintaining direct communication by sea. It might be said this was not asking steamboat powers. In order, therefore, to test the quality of the Bill, he gave notice of an Amendment which should exclude the company from the employment of steam vessels by the insertion after "communication by sea" of the words "otherwise than by steamboats." As soon as that was promulgated, a printed paper was handed round to Members, in which it was stated, that the object of the Bill would, by the adoption of the Amendment, be entirely defeated, the object being to establish steam communication. A practice had sprung up of late years of placing printed papers in the hands of Members having reference to private business. The practice of canvassing had for some years been discouraged; but he must say it was an abuse of that power, and was running counter to the intention of the House, to have such documents as he had referred to delivered at the residences of Members, signed by the agents of the Bill, who were recognised as officers of the House. These were ex parte statements, and often contained very impertinent remarks on the motives and conduct of Gentlemen in promoting or opposing any scheme of private legislation. As Chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means, it was his special duty, under the Standing Orders, to call the attention of the House to anything of this sort, and he must say the circular to which he had referred was most improper. It stated, that "Mr. Massey had been induced" to give notice of his intention to insert words which would render the Bill altogether inoperative. He thought it would be well if the House were to discourage the issuing of such documents as he had referred to, and therefore he had felt it to be his duty to bring the subject before them. In conclusion, he shook move, as an Amendment, the introduction of the words "otherwise than by steam vessels."

Amendment proposed, in page 10, line 8 after the word "sea," to insert the words "otherwise than by steam vessels."—(Mr. Massey.)


said, his objection to this Bill was the same as he entertained in respect of the last Bill they had considered; but as the Amendment of the Chairman of Ways and Means would, if carried, effect the object he had in view, he should not press the Amendment of which he had given.


admitted the impropriety and inexpediency of such documents as the Chairman of Ways and Means had referred to. With respect to the Bill itself, the Amendment would render it nugatory. The Standing Order had been considered by the Committee, who thought the Bill did not infringe its terms, and they had come to a unanimous conclusion to report in favour of the powers being given, on the ground of the great benefit that the proposed packet service would confer upon a large district of country.


observed, that on the Committee he had taken the same view of the Standing Order as the Chairman of Ways and Means had taken.


thought any objection on the ground of Standing Orders should have been taken at an earlier stage. There was an examiner, who had passed the Bill, as had also a Select Committee, and he could not but consider it was too late now to object.


remarked that the Bill did not seek for powers to purchase steam vessels, but merely to contribute £600 a year to another company.


said, the objections to this Bill were less strong than those which applied to the other Bills. The Standing Order 147 provided that no power for purchasing, hiring, or providing steam vessels should be introduced into any Bill by which other powers were sought to be obtained by railway companies. This Bill, therefore, clearly was a violation of the Standing Order, as it contained powers for the railway company to contribute £600 a year towards the establishment of "a direct and speedy communication by sea," which, of course, could only be by means of steam vessels. Upon that ground, therefore, he should be disposed to acquiesce in the Amendment of the Chairman of Ways and Means. With respect to the circulation of statements connected with private Bills, he must say he thought the House ought to be careful how it interfered with the right of any person to address the House or individual Members. If on ex parte statements anything was said imputing motives to Members of the Committee or of the House, then the House could deal with the person offending; but as long as those statements were confined to arguments or facts, even although they questioned the decision of a Committee, he thought the House ought not to interfere.


thought that although the Bill was not so dangerous as the last, yet it involved the same principle. Almost all the commercial interests of the Clyde were opposed to this Bill, and the Town Council of Glasgow had pronounced against it. If the principle involved in the Bill were once admitted, it would be widely extended.


said, this line of communication was very much wanted, and there was not the slightest probability of its being established unless a railway company or some other body should contribute funds for the purpose.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

The House divided:—Ayes 85; Noes 58: Majority 27.