§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ SIR COLMAN O'LOGHLEN
, in moving that the Railway Travelling (Ireland) Bill be now read a second time, said, that the Bill was in substance the same as that which he had introduced towards the close of last Session, but which was thrown out on the second reading in a very small House. The object of the Bill was to secure to the public of Ireland the power of travelling on railways on Sundays, and also to give to third-class railway passengers in Ireland the privileges which were enjoyed by the same class in England. The feeling which existed north of the Tweed 52 with respect to Sunday travelling did not prevail in Ireland, and circumstances which had recently occurred justified him in bringing forward this measure. From the introduction of railways into Ireland, some twenty years ago, almost every railway in that country ran one or two Sunday trains; but lately on some of the lines Sunday trains had been discontinued. This was the case on the Limerick and Waterford Railway. This line was the main artery of communication between Dublin and the south and south-west of Ireland. The Sunday traffic on this line had been stopped for the last two years, and the result was great inconvenience. No one, however urgent his business, could leave Clare for Dublin or elsewhere by rail between four o'clock on Saturday afternoon and eight o'clock on Monday morning; and no one could leave Limerick, a town of nearly 50,000 inhabitants, between eleven o'clock on Saturday night and eleven o'clock on Sunday night. He thought that was a state of things which ought not to exist. He took the instance of the Waterford and Limerick line, not because it stood alone, but because it was the principal company that had stopped Sunday trains. A paper had been circulated by the opponents of this Bill, which stated that there were twelve railways in Ireland, which did not run Sunday trains. How they made that out he could not tell, for according to a Return which had been presented to Parliament not very long ago, made up to July of last year, and which showed all the companies in England and Ireland which did not run Sunday trains, it appeared that in England and Wales there were 145 railways, with a mileage of 7,760 miles, which run Sunday trains, while there were only 23, with a mileage of 807 miles, which did not run Sunday trains, and these were chiefly small branch lines of from 5 to 15 miles, and that in Ireland there were 32 railways, with a mileage of 1,453 miles, which ran Sunday trains, and only 3, with a mileage of 293 miles, which did not run Sunday trains. It would, indeed, appear from the Return that the Limerick and Waterford Company did run a Sunday train, but the manner in which that company evaded the Return and made it appear as if they ran Sunday trains was, that they ran a train at eleven o'clock on Sunday night in accordance with the compulsory requirements of the Post Office. The first three clauses of the Bill dealt with the Sunday train 53 question, and the other two clauses with third-class passenger trains. The first clause required that every railway company in Ireland should run one passenger train each way every Sunday, unless they were excused by the Board of Trade. The next clause provided, in order to prevent any evasion of the Act by running a train at eleven o'clock on Sunday night, and calling it a Sunday train, that the time of departure of such trains should be fixed by the Board of Trade. The third clause empowered the Board of Trade to excuse any company from running Sunday trains where it was shown that it would not interfere with the public convenience. This Bill differed from that of last Session by giving this discretionary power to the Board of Trade. The discretionary power of running or not Sunday trains ought not to rest, as it does at present, with the directors of railway companies, who might be actuated by some religious feeling, or who cared nothing for the convenience of the public, or who might believe that Sunday trains did not pay, although it was absolutely necessary for the convenience of the public that they should run on Sundays. By the Bill that discretionary power was taken away from directors and vested in a public Board responsible to that House. With regard to the other part of the Bill, he believed there would be no controversy upon it. At present, third-class passengers from Trade to Dublin, or Ennis to Dublin, a journey of about six hours, had to sleep on the road. Now that was a state of things which did not exist in England, and ought not any longer to be permitted in Ireland. Some of the arguments that had been used against the Bill appeared to be untenable, and could not be supported. It was urged in the first place that it proposed a peculiar and exceptional legislation for Ireland. That no doubt was so; but one reason for it was that the inconvenience had arisen in Ireland, and did not exist elsewhere. Another reason was, that there is a difference between England or Scotland and Ireland with reference to the observance of the Sabbath—for instance, the National Gallery in Dublin was open after divine service on Sunday, and the privilege was very greatly appreciated. Sunday trains, too, in Ireland, were greatly used, and he believed that if the railway company were to stop the trains at present running on Sundays between Kingstown and Dublin, riots would take place almost equal to those which had recently taken place at 54 Belfast. He was confident not one of the Irish Members who intended to oppose this Bill would or had refused to go down to Kingstown on a Sunday, or would wish to see the Sunday trains on that line stopped. The House would probably bear in mind that though in Scotland the Botanical Gardens were not open on Sundays, they had opened them in Dublin. The National Gallery was not open in England, though the gallery of Hampton Court Palace was open on Sunday, and it certainly was very curious that what was wrong in London was not wrong at Hampton Court Palace. The opening of the National Gallery and the Botanical Gardens in Dublin had been attended with great advantages to the working classes, and he had mentioned it to show that grounds existed for Sunday legislation for Ireland which did not exist in England or Scotland. Another argument used against the Bill was, that the House had no right by ex post facto legislation to compel railway companies to bear burdens which the law did not originally impose upon them. But the Legislature and this House had provided against this argument by the Act of 1844, and the Standing Orders of 1852, It is true that the Limerick and Waterford Company obtained their Bill before 1844; but they had since obtained other Bills in 1845, 1850, 1855, and 1860, and consequently they came under the provisions of the Act of 1844, and the Standing Orders of 1852, which made them liable to the provisions of any general Act relating to railways in force, or that might be passed during any future Session of Parliament, for the regulation and management of railways. Therefore this could not be called an attempt at ex post facto legislation, as against them, or any other company similarly circumstanced. But supposing there was neither Act or Standing Order, would the House assent to the proposition that railway companies were not subject to the jurisdiction of that House? Why, the opponents of this Bill might as well say that any future legislation with reference to communication existing between railway passengers and guards should not affect the present railways. Every company must be made subject to the public convenience, no matter when their Act was obtained. Another argument against the Bill was, that as Sunday trains did not pay, the House ought not to compel railway companies to run them. Those who used this argument appeared to forget that 55 railways existed for the benefit of the public, and not the public for the benefit of the railways. Railways did not stand in the same position as carriers and stage coaches, and they could not refuse to run trains because they did not pay. There was no difference in principle between requiring a railway company to run a train each way on Sunday, whether it paid or not, and requiring them to run a train each way on week days, whether it paid or not, as was required by the Act of 1854. On the broad question of Sunday travelling there was much conscientious difference of opinion. That question had been discussed in and out of the House. But it was monstrous to say that the convenience of a few railway officials, or the scruples of directors, should prevent railway travelling on Sundays. The poor required travelling on Sunday more than the rich. One class could travel any day in the week; the other could not leave their work on the six days. But even the rich often required to travel on Sunday. He knew an instance in which a noble lady, visiting a dying father, was unable to proceed to her destination, because there was no Sunday travelling in Scotland. He knew also an instance in Ireland, in which an eminent physician, who had been telegraphed for from Dublin, could not attend the patient because there was no Sunday train. Altogether, the Bill would remedy a great public inconvenience; it did not go too far, and he asked the House with great confidence to allow it to be read a second time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Sir Colman O'Loghlen.)
§ MR. BLAKE
regretted, from esteem he had for the hon. Baronet who introduced the Bill, that he was again obliged to endeavour to frustrate what he seemed so anxious to carry; but his proposal would inflict so much injustice and injury on the proprietors of the railway lines, on whose behalf he spoke, that he felt it his duty to do so. Before entering on the real question before them, he would only remark that the portion of the Bill which provided for giving third class passengers increased facilities for reaching their destination at the same time as second class, were to a great extent unobjectionable, and if he embodied that part in another Bill he would, with certain modifications, be disposed to support instead of opposing him. The section, 56 however, which made it compulsory on all Irish railways to travel on Sundays was very different indeed, and he would confine his objections altogether to endeavouring to induce the House not to pass the Bill on the ground of the highly objectionable nature of the clauses relating to Sunday travelling. As he regretted he could not lay claim to such highly religious scruples as others regarding travelling on Sunday, he would waive the use of the strong argument which he might use against the Bill in relation to Sabbath observance, and would simply lay before the House the business aspect of the matter. The hon. Baronet and the other hon. Members whose names appeared on the back of the Bill, admitted that their efforts had for their object the compelling of the railways in the counties of Clare and Limerick to run on Sundays. He was alluded to as representing the Waterford and Limerick Railway, but he spoke on behalf of the proprietary of four other companies in that district as well. Notwithstanding the assertion of the hon. Baronet to the contrary, the House could not fail to see that the legislation he proposed was ex post facto in its character, and would impose on railways obligations which they neither undertook or contemplated when they obtained their Bills and constructed their lines on the faith that they would not have to do more than carry out the provisions contained in the former. It would be a great blow to railway enterprize if shareholders, after subscribing their capital, would be liable to have obligations, by which they would be certain to lose, imposed on them after their lines were in operation. The hon. Baronet said that the Bill now before them differed materially from that of last Session, inasmuch as it would be left to the Board of Trade to decide whether, taking certain things into consideration, trains should run on Sundays. But it would be a monstrous invasion of the rights of railway companies to take the power out of the hands of those directors to decide regarding the working of their lines for a seventh part of the whole year. The House could easily imagine how a few Members of Parliament, living in a particular district, could bring such a pressure to bear on the President of the Board of Trade as would influence him to direct that trains should run even to the injury of the proprietors. Why should such power be given to a Minister of the Crown 57 as to decide what line should have a Sunday train, and what line should not? How would he ascertain the necessities of a distant district in Ireland? Was he to issue a Commission of Inquiry? Was he to turn the Board of Trade into a railway committee room and to hear evidence from both sides? He would confine his illustration of the monstrous injustice that would be perpetrated to that particular district which he represented. The Waterford and Limerick was 77 miles long; the Foynes 25; Ennis 26; Castleconnell 13; and Limerick and Birdhill 18. Sunday running, under the Bill, would involve keeping 880 officials of all descriptions at work. Calculating the extra sum they should be paid at an average of 2s. 6d. the company, independent of the wear and tear of carriages, fuel, &c, would incur a cost of £110 a day, or £5,720 a year. Calculating the receipts from passengers, say twenty-five at ten shillings, which was far beyond what would be likely to travel in the winter months, the proceeds would be £12 10s. a week, or £650 a year; so that the proprietors on these lines would lose upwards of a thousand a year. Now, this was no theory; the experiment had been tried for a long time on all these lines of running Sunday trains, and the result was a terrific loss. On the Ennis and Limerick line an average of only three through tickets were issued; on some of the smaller lines not so many; and on the Waterford and Limerick it was equally bad. The directors, acting for the interest of the shareholders, wisely resolved to stop such a ruinous business. The promoters of the Bill contended if the companies ran on Sundays that traffic would be developed, and that they would be compensated at last, but the experiment had been fairly tried for a long period, and was only given up when it was found that the Sunday traffic was getting from bad to worse. The lion. Baronet had already endeavoured to enforce railway travelling in Ireland on Sunday in the courts of law, and had been defeated. [Sir COLMAN O'LOGHLEN remarked that the ease was abandoned.] The ease was no doubt abandoned, but only at that critical period when to have proceeded further with it would have ensured defeat. But having been virtually defeated in the courts of law, it was unfair for the hon. Baronet to come forward with a Bill in Parliament for securing the same object, which if applied to England or Scotland would not for a moment be entertained by Parliament. 58 One of the arguments in favour of the Bill was that the lines were in the hands of a millionaire and a monopolist, and that the battle was fought not for the benefit of a large body of shareholders but in the interest of a single individual. It was quite true that Mr. Malcolmson was the chief owner of the lines in question; and it was very fortunate that there was an individual with the capital and spirit to take up lines that had broken down in other hands and make them a success. And, even supposing Mr. Malcolmson was the sole proprietor, was he on that account to be mulcted in heavy loss for doing what no one else, with the condition the country was in, would venture to do. He begged to call the attention of the Chief Secretary for Ireland and the few occupants who were on the Treasury Benches to one fact which should, he thought, influence them in not supporting the Bill before them. Nearly all the lines in question had, owing to the depression which prevailed in Ireland, been obliged to obtain advances from the Treasury, and lately had to apply to the Government for an extension of time for payment, in consequence of their receipts not doing much more than meeting their expenses. The Treasury were, therefore, creditors of these lines, and interested in their being able to meet their liabilities; but if Government imposed obligations on them which would still further depress them they would not be in a position to meet those engagements, and should lay on Government the onus of having rendered them so to a great extent by sanctioning the Bill then before the House. The hon. Baronet had urged strongly that Parliament ought to consult the convenience of the large number of inhabitants through which the railways ran, and yet, singular enough, not even a solitary petition had come from these people in support of his Bill; and if the interest of the public was to be consulted, and that railway officials and servants were to be considered as part of the public, surely giving a day of rest to 880 hard worked men, could be well weighed against the travelling on Sunday of twenty-five individuals, who in most instances it could be shown could quite as well have travelled on Saturday or Monday. In conclusion, he earnestly hoped the House would, by as decisive a majority as occurred last year, reject the Bill, He admitted, before it would be stated by others, that he spoke on behalf of a public spirited individual quite as much as on behalf of the other proprietors, He was em- 59 ploying his vast resources and great abilities in an endeavour to resuscitate that country, and on his part he asked them not to mar his useful efforts by imposing obligations of so unjust and exceptional a character as that contemplated by the Bill.
§ MR. LEFROY
, in seconding the Amendment, said, he objected to the Bill both upon religious and financial grounds. The Legislature had declared that all acts, except those of necessity and piety, were unlawful on the Sabbath day; and yet the proposal involved in the present Bill was that 880 railway officials should be employed in unnecessary labour on Sunday and; prevented from attendance to their religious duties and separated from their families. And when the House considered that this was done for the convenience of perhaps five-and-twenty persons, he thought they would refuse to sanction the measure. Upon financial grounds the Bill was also objectionable, inasmuch as it would entail an annual expenditure of £5,000 upon certain railway companies which were not in a position to make such an outlay. Not a single petition had been presented in favour of the running of such trains, and so inadequate a case had been made out that he hoped his hon. and learned Friend would withdraw the Bill, and not put the House to the trouble of dividing.
§ 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. Blake.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
wished to know whether the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. Blake) stood there as a shareholder in the lines of railway to which he referred, or as a partizan of the proprietors of the great lines? He was, unfortunately, largely interested in two of these lines, and he stood there to protest against any interference with their interests. Of Mr. Malcolmson he desired to speak with all respect. Now Mr. Malcolmson happened to be Chairman of the Waterford and Limerick line, which owing to gross mismanagement had not been prosperous; but he hoped the exertions of Mr. Malcolm-son would restore prosperity to it. He should not enter into the religious view of the question; but when hon. Members talked of the immorality of travelling on Sunday he would ask them—Did they never go to Greenwich to dine on a 60 Sunday? Did they never employ their servants on Sunday? Railways had, of course superseded every other means of travelling, and there was no reason why they should not ask for the removal of the inconveniences at present felt. He protested against those small lines being sacrificed to the great ones. The falling off in the receipts on the small lines was not to be attributed to Sunday travelling, but to the very injudicious way in which their affairs had been arranged. A report had prevailed in the autumn that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had a scheme for purchasing the railways of the kingdom, and as far as regarded the railways of Ireland he wished that the right hon. Gentleman had carried out his scheme. He thought that some steps should be taken to remove the smaller lines from the influence of the great lines, and that the time had come for some legislation on the question.
§ SIR HUGH CAIRNS
said, that he knew nothing of the squabbles referred to between different railway companies, and he thought it would be better for the House to leave them to manage their affairs their own way. But the Bill before them was not of a local and personal nature—it raised a question of very great importance, and he could not help expressing his surprise that, on a question affecting the trade of the country, the House had not the advantage of the presence of the President of the Board of Trade. With regard to the Sunday question he had his opinions; but the present Bill had nothing to do with that subject. This was a proposition to interfere in a manner never dreamt of for years past with the mode in which persons might carry on their trade. A railway was, no doubt, a public highway. It must be open every day in the week, like any other public highway, and any person who liked had a right to run a carriage upon it, on paying the tolls prescribed by the Act of Parliament. He was aware that that right was not practically exercised. But let the House remember the position of a railway company. Being the proprietors of the highway, they might or might not, as they pleased, become public carriers; they might, if they pleased, run trains on a part only of their line, or they might run trains on certain days only in the week. As regards the law, they were just as free as any other carriers to carry when and how they pleased. If the House were to require railway companies to run trains on Sundays for the public convenience, why should it not for the same reason 61 require them to run trains more than once a day, or at different times from what they did if some of the public chose to think it for their convenience that they should do so? But he thought the House was hardly prepared to say to the railway companies "You are public carriers, and in that capacity we will make you run trains when we think it convenient." The hon. and learned Baronet (Sir Colman O'Loghlen) who introduced this Bill, said that the principle of legislative interference with railway companies was affirmed by the Act of 1854, requiring companies to run what were called Parliamentary trains. But that measure was to be confined to railways which were thenceforward to be constructed, and it did not extend to railways which had already been completed. But besides, the principle on which that Act was passed was, that the poorer classes ought not to be deprived of an accommodation which was afforded to therich, and it was not sanctioned by Parliament merely in order that the public at large should be accommodated. The hon. and learned Baronet further said that at the end of every Railway Bill there was inserted a clause declaring that the company should be subject to the provisions of any future Act for the regulation of railway traffic. The object of that clause, however, was merely to subject railway companies to subsequent legislation, having for its object the safety of the public. But was it meant that it should authorize the House to legislate in the way of fixing the amount of fares? [Sir COLMAN O'LOGHLEN: Hear, hear!] He was aware that Parliament had laid down a maximum of railway fares which railway companies could not exceed; but that was a very different thing from declaring what was the particular charge to be made to each class of passengers. Parliament never meant by that Act to confiscate the property of railway shareholders. He would ask, if the principle of the Bill was a sound one, why should it not be extended to England and to Scotland? for it was well known that, in some parts of England and throughout Scotland generally, no trains were run on Sundays. Let the hon. and learned Baronet bring in a general measure upon the subject, and the House would, after due deliberation, know how to deal with such a proposal; but as he conceived that this Bill was fraught with danger in regard to the true principle of legislation, he trusted that the 62 House would not consent to the second reading.
§ LORD JOHN BROWNE
said, he knew an instance in which the life of a gentleman in Ireland had been greatly endangered because it was found impossible to send for a surgeon by railway on Sunday after he had met with a serious accident. The House had already interfered in various ways with railway companies, and had in particular insisted on their providing accommodation for the working classes. He believed that the general feeling in Ireland was decidedly in favour of the measure.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
said, they had heard a very ingenious technical argument from the hon. and learned Member for Belfast (Sir Hugh Cairns), but the hon. and learned Gentleman had carefully kept out of view the real character of railway companies. They were not private traders in the ordinary sense of the words. Their character was a distinct and peculiar one. First of all, they asked the House for peculiar powers; and the House in granting those powers had a right to require from them in return the performance of certain duties. Besides, the House by granting those powers drove from the same line of traffic every other person whatever. Parliament was, therefore, bound in that case to take care of the public interests. The hon. and learned Member for Belfast had talked of "confiscating" the rights of those companies. There was no word more displeasing to English ears. But there was no confiscation in the matter. In 1844 Parliament told the railway companies that when they obtained Bills they must take them with the understanding that the House would, if it so thought fit, interfere with them; and did not the House interfere with the whole of railway transactions? The House laid down no maximum fare in the case of a common stagecoach, but it did in the case of a railway. The hon. and learned Member for Belfast (Sir Hugh Cairns) said that when a railway company constructed a line they became common carriers. Did they? Were they not very uncommon carriers? Did they not drive everybody else from competition? And when the hon. Gentleman talked in the way lie did, was it not a farce, and was not the hon. and learned Member endeavouring to impose upon them, and was he not trifling with the common sense of: the House? He had not touched upon the religious part of the question, for the 63 hon. and learned Baronet (Sir Colman O'Loghlen) said he would not raise that question; and the hon. Member for Dublin University (Mr. Lefroy) had touched the question in a very gingerly manner. The attempt to introduce the Sabbatical question into this discussion deserved to be scouted by the House. Then he came to the question whether there was any harm in transferring the decision in such cases from the railway directors to the Board of Trade. And here he could not help saying that the Government were not represented as they ought to be on that occasion. He would pay the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for Ireland every respect, but he ought to have been aided on that occasion by the President of the Board of Trade or the Chancellor of the Exchequer. They knew that there were looming in the distance things with respect to railways in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer was greatly interested; they knew that railways in Ireland were now engaging his attention; and they should have liked very much to have heard his opinion on this matter. This question might touch the financial arrangements of the Irish railways. But the interests of the public had been represented in an extraordinary manner on that occasion. He could not think that the interests of the public were of such a character that they would justify the Irish railway authorities in exclaiming, "We shall be ruined and destroyed by such a proposal;" not could he think that by acceding to this proposition and putting the matter in the hands of the Board of Trade they would be doing any great injury to the financial interests of the Irish railway companies.
§ MAJOR GAVIN
said, that in matters of legislation the interests of the greatest number ought to be considered. Now, it had been stated that if the trains in Ireland ran on a Sunday 800 railway officials would be inconvenienced; but he would put against that number the 50,000 people in Limerick who were inconvenienced by the want of a Sunday train. No one could regret more than himself that any Irish railway should not pay; but he believed that in some districts Sunday would eventually be the best paying day, if trains ran on that day. But whether that were so or no, he believed that the ordinary traffic paid well, and the railway directors should be satisfied though they might lose in one particular if the traffic paid generally. Foynes, one of the best and safest har- 64 bours in Ireland, was likely to become a great station for America, and he believed that if many steamers started from that I port four trains, instead of one, would be needed to run on a Sunday. He hoped that the House would pass the Bill, which would operate to the great convenience of all in the south of Ireland.
§ MR. LONGFIELD
said, he would not dwell on the Sabbatical view of the question. Under the Jewish law a man was restricted to a Sabbath-day's journey, which he supposed was about two furlongs; but he read of nothing of the sort under the Christian dispensation, and he saw no impropriety in people enjoying the treat of an excursion on Sunday. He agreed that railways were the creatures of legislation, and that the House had the right to resume what it had conferred; and though retrospective legislation was not liked in the House or in the country, that did not apply to all times and all circumstances, and he thought it was competent to the House to interfere if a fair case were made out. They had heard "the public" very much spoken of in the course of the debate; they had also heard of the three tailors of Tooley Street speaking in the name of the people of England; and the complaint in the present case seemed to originate with some twenty-five persons, one-fourth of whom were Members of that House. The hon. and gallant Member for Limerick (Major Gavin) complained that the people of that city had no means of getting from that place on Sundays. He (Mr. Longfield) had certainly found it one of the saddest places he was ever in on a Sunday; but he thought the people there might find opportunities if they chose to avail themselves of them; but by some unaccountable stupidity the people of Limerick, when they had the opportunity, did not like to pay for it. They might talk about "the public" if they pleased; but there was no substantial grievance here to be redressed. He bad no sympathy with Scotch legislation. A man might as innocently go to Greenock or Dumbarton on a Sunday as stay at home and get drunk there; and a man might as innocently go to Kingstown on a Sunday as stay in Dublin and get drunk. That was the alternative. In the same way he had no objection to the people of Limerick going to Foynes on Sunday if they pleased. But had the promoters of this Bill made out any case for this exceptional legislation for the ruin of these companies? One 65 railway in Ireland had already become bankrupt, and if they passed this Bill every shareholder in the half-paying and non-paying lines of Ireland would, by the peculiarity of the law of that country, be subject to the bankrupt laws on the company becoming insolvent. This Bill had been introduced to accommodate a few Members of that House and an enormous district of twenty-five persons. There were no compunctious visitings of conscience on the part of proprietors of the Limerick and Waterford Company which induced them to forego the profits of Sunday trading. They had no strict Sabbatarian notions, if Sunday was a good paying day, not to avail themselves of the profits. And the most cogent and convincing evidence that Sunday trains in Ireland did not pay was to be found in the fact that the existing railways did not pay. Yet that House was called upon to compel them to become insolvent. The question was, whether the public were likely to be benefited by this compulsory legislation. He had as great a regard for the public as the hon. and learned Baronet who introduced this Bill and those who supported it; but confessed that, although the word public was a generic term, he had very little regard for it when it represented twenty-five gentlemen on one side and the solvency of the Irish railways on the other. He should oppose the Bill because he thought that the public would be more injured than benefited it by in the end.
denied that this measure could properly be called exceptional, seeing that it was intended to extend the legislation of 1844. As to the allegation that only twenty-five persons travelled upon the particular line which had been alluded to, there could be no doubt that if an opportunity were only afforded them of doing so, a very large number of persons would travel upon it. As Ireland was a Roman Catholic country he would not offer any observations on the religious part of the question; hut would pass to the financial. The hon. and learned Member for Belfast had compared railway companies to ordinary carriers on the highway; but there was no fair analogy between the two. If an ordinary carrier refused to convey on a Sunday that did not prevent the highway from being available to the public; but, if a railway company would not run its trains the line obviously could not be used by the public. The advocates of the Bill did not 66 wish to make the companies work at a loss, but they desired that the different districts which they were bound to accommodate should not be practically cut off from the means of locomotion. The measure contained this safeguard for the interest of the companies, that it made it competent for the Board of Trade to enable them to cease running trains at a heavy sacrifice. It was asked why the Bill did not include England and Scotland as well as Ireland in its scope. The answer was, that England already enjoyed the accommodation which was wanting in Ireland; and as for Scotland its case was peculiar, but if the Scotch Members thought it expedient to bring in a Bill of the same kind for their country they would receive every support from the promoters of the present measure. The general feeling of the people of Ireland was in favour of such a Bill as that being at least tried for a time; and its adoption would afford some relief to those parts of the country, particularly the south and west, which were now entirely at the mercy of two great railway companies.
said, that the hon. Member for Mayo (Lord John Browne) had mentioned a case in which a gentleman could not get medical assistance from Dublin in consequence of there being no railway traffic on Sunday. But he was happy to inform the House that there was sitting opposite to him a Gentleman who had that day expressed the opinions of his constituents, and was enabled to make his very lucid statement in consequence of there being no Sunday railway traffic in Ireland. His hon. and gallant Friend telegraphed when he was very ill for the doctor to go down to Limerick and see him; and the answer was that there was no railway travelling on Sunday, consequently the doctor could not go to Limerick, and his hon. and gallant Friend recovered and was in the House to make his lucid statement that day. Therefore, putting Limerick against Mayo, they had an even question as between Sunday railway travelling in Ireland and the absence of it. The objection of the people of Scotland to that Bill was that it might cause compulsory Sunday labour to be forced on railway officials in Ireland; and they were afraid that if it were now passed for Ireland it might, in a future Session, be held good for Scotland also.
§ MR. H. ROBERTSON
said, the House was called upon by this Bill to say that 67 trains should be run on Sundays on every line in Ireland; and that the President of the Board of Trade should fix the times of starting. He thought that nothing more vicious than such a Bill as applied to railway management could be conceived. If there was to be a Board external to the railway companies themselves which was to determine what trains were to be run, and to fix their times of running, let the House understand that that would very much involve the whole management of railways. It was proposed that it should first be decided that there was to be a particular train and then that an inquiry should be made to see whether it was wanted. That was inverting the natural order of things. The inquiry should go first and the decision come afterwards; and he maintained that when the passengers on a line amounted only to twenty-five no case was there made out for special legislation. It was sometimes said, and said truly, that Ireland was deficient in capital; but how were Englishmen, Scotchmen, or even Irishmen to be induced to invest their money in railways there if Parliament was to insist on the companies running one, two, or three trains on a particular day whether the traffic was remunerative or not? He trusted that such a mischievous Bill would be rejected.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 39; Noes 42: Majority 3.
§ Words added. Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
§ Second Reading put off for six months.
§ House adjourned at a quarter before Three o'clock.