§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ MR. BUCHANAN
said, that the House had on various occasions established the principle of free competition, while this Bill attempted to establish a monopoly of the railway traffic between the east and west of Scotland. This Bill was now before the House for the seventh time, six Bills with the same object having been already rejected or withdrawn by the promoters. It was said that the opposition to the Bill was now much less strong, but that was because the lines favouring it had made bargains with some of its opponents. The companies now again asked Parliament to sanction their scheme, but public feeling was still against them. In the case of so powerful a Company the public would have little opportunity of obtaining redress for any grievances they might suffer. The projectors had immense Parliamentary influence, and having a capital of £15,000,000 or £16,000,000, to back them, who was to contend with them? Parliament had already declared that the scheme was tainted with monopoly, and ought not to receive the sanction of the House. He begged to move that the Bill 641 be read a second time this day six months.
§ MR. BLACK
seconded the Amendment, for which there was a fortunate precedent in the Bill that had just been rejected, the House having declared that since they had rejected the Bill once before they would not now sanction it when proposed a second time. But the projectors of this Bill had come before the House with a similar scheme no less than seven times, and every time it had been either rejected or withdrawn. The Bill had been before all the municipal bodies and Chambers of Commerce connected with the railways in question, and there was one unanimous opinion that it ought to be opposed.
Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—(Mr. Buchanan.)
SIR, JAMES FERGUSSON
supported the Bill, which he maintained was substantially different from the propositions previously made in regard to this matter. All the existing facilities enjoyed by the public were preserved by the Bill, which also reduced the rates, thus conferring an important benefit on the community. Sunning powers were given to other companies over the amalgamated lines, so that the public obtained thereby the advantages of competition.
§ MR. MASSEY
said, that in various forms the sanction of the House had been asked for the measure on six different occasions. In 1860 a Bill substantially similar to the present was rejected by the Committee, and in the following year was brought forward again and again rejected. Considering, then, that this plan had been twice dealt with by Select Committees, both of which concurred in rejecting the scheme, he did not think that there had been such a change of circumstances in the interval as would warrant its reconsideration at present. He did not adhere to the principle that all amalgamation was necessarily objectionable. It was quite possible that at some future time the opposition to such a measure might be conciliated, and that it might be presented to Parliament under more favourable circumstances. Taking all things, however, into account, and considering that Parliament was this year overburdened by an enormous pressure of private business, he thought it was not desirable to task the energies of Members by asking them to 642 investigate a Bill which they would be almost certain to reject, as they had done on former occasions.
§ MR. BLACKBURN
apprehended that the last argument of the hon. Gentleman, the Chairman of Committees, would have so much weight with the House that it would not be necessary to press the question to a division. At the same time, he protested against the injustice done to the promoters. How long a time was to elapse before they would become entitled to a new trial? There were really considerable alterations in the scheme, which fully justified its being again submitted to Parliament.
§ MR. DALGLISH
said, there was nothing to hinder the promoters from at once giving the reduced rates which they promised in their Bill, and then when they next came forward they might find the public not ungrateful.
§ Question, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question," put, and negatived.
§ Words added.
§ Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
§ Bill put off for six months.