HC Deb 18 February 1864 vol 173 cc710-2

Order for Second Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."


said, he should move that the Bill be read a second time that day six months. He objected to it on two grounds. The first was that the company was started in direct opposition to an existing railway company—the Great Northern Company, which was fully equal to satisfy all the requirements of the district. The second ground of objection was, that a great part of its capital was supplied by a banking company, called the General Credit and Finance Company. The last was a point of great importance, because it proposed to introduce a mode of proceeding novel in its character, and one which he thought the House would scarcely be prepared to sanction.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—(Colonel Packe.)

Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."


urged that the Bill ought to be sent before a Committee, in order that its merits might be considered. The General Credit Finance Company had nothing to do with finding the capital. They merely acted as brokers, and the whole of the money would have to be subscribed by the public.


said, that as one of the directors of the Great Northern Railway Company, he was induced to take the unusual course of asking the House to reject the Bill, not on the ground of competition, but in consequence of the novel principle introduced for the first time, that of raising the capital by the means of a large banking firm, and a body which had nothing to do with the country through which the line was intended to pass.


said, that as one who was connected with the General Credit Company, he was in a position to state that their conduct with respect to the proposed railway was above all animadversion. All that they did was to guarantee a certain amount of capital, leaving the shares open to the public, to whose notice they simply wished to introduce the railway, believing the scheme to be one deserving of attention.


said, he was unconnected with either of the companies. He opposed the Bill as unnecessary, and as likely to lead to unnecessary competition from the fact, that the two lines would run within half-a-dozen miles of each other for a considerable distance; besides which the new line would be sixteen miles longer than the present. It was unnecessary to authorize the outlay of a million of money for the doubtful possibility of bringing coals to London cheaper by the proposed line. He looked with apprehension on the management of such a line being given to the Great Eastern Company, who had not managed their present line with any marked success, while the Great Nothern had served the public with exemplary fidelity.


said, that he had nothing to do with either party, or the district through which the line would pass. The House would take an extraordinary course if they decided upon the Bill without knowing its merits. The expediency of authorizing a competing line or not, was a point which would more properly be determined by a Committee upstairs than by the House itself. As to the objection that half the money for the proposed line was to be found by a banking company, he must confess that he did not think it very material. The requirements of the district, and the accommodation to the public, was what they had to consider.


said, he thought the argument in opposition to the Bill, founded on the question of competition, was one to which the House ought not to attach much weight. It was too late in the day for Parliament to reject a Bill on the second reading, with a view of maintaining any company in the undisturbed possession of a district. The promoters of the Bill had, he might add, complied with the Standing Orders, and that House was not exactly in a position to inquire further into their financial affairs. If it should appear to a Committee that they had obtained money to construct their line by improper means, that might be made a ground for the rejection of the Bill.


said, he could not help thinking that it was not the duty of the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken, occupying as he did the position of Chairman of Ways and Means, to pronounce, as he constantly did, an opinion upon the merits of private Bills, but rather to inform hon. Members on points relating to the Orders of the House.


said, he must protest against the attack which the hon. Baronet had made on his hon. Friend. He, for one, felt deeply indebted to his hon. Friend the Chairman of Ways and Means, for the valuable assistance which he received from him in dealing with private Bills, bringing to bear on their discussion, as he did, an independent opinion. In that view he believed hon. Members generally concurred.


said, that in deference to the opinion of the hon. Chairman of Ways and Means, he would withdraw his Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read 2°, and committed.