HC Deb 24 July 1868 vol 193 cc1733-7

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 13 (Liability of Company during Sea Transit).

MR. DIXON moved to omit the clause. Its object was to relieve the railway companies from the sea risk which they at present incurred by booking and conveying parcels over a route a portion of which was by sea. He contended that it was undesirable to relieve these companies from a responsibility for which they were to a great extent compensated by the magnitude of the transactions which they undertook.


thought it unjust that the railway companies should be subjected to a risk to which ordinary shipowners were not liable. Steamship companies, which are sometimes competitors with railways, were protected by their bills of lading, and the wording of this clause was really taken from one of those bills of lading. The clause was simply to leave an absolute freedom of contract between all parties. Everyone must admit the great advantage to the public of through booking. The railway companies said they could not continue this, if they were to be subject to greater liability than shipowners, during the transit in vessels over which they had frequently no control. For the public convenience, and more particularly in the case of the conveyance of cattle from Ireland to this country, it was desirable that this clause should be passed, especially as it would by no means exempt the railway companies from any responsibility they might incur through negligence.


said, he thought it unjust that the railway companies should incur this risk without receiving any compensation in the way of increased rates. For the public convenience, however, it was, he thought, unadvisable that this clause should be adopted, inasmuch as the real remedy, in his opinion, lay in an increased charge upon the parcels.


said, he believed that this was just one of those cases where the railway company could insure and no one else could. As the clause stood it would practically bar insurance.


said, that the system of insurance hitherto in vogue had not been profitable to the railway companies, and that it was easy for merchants and others to have a running policy if they chose.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 14 to 16, inclusive, agreed to.

Clause 17 (Communication between Passengers and the Company's Servants).


said, he objected to limiting the provisions enforcing means of communication between passengers and guards to trains running longer distances than twenty miles.


said, that though a great number of inventions for securing a communication between the passengers and the guard had been submitted to the Board of Trade, he did not believe that any plan yet tried had been found altogether satisfactory. Neither the system at work on the Continent nor that which had been tried at home was quite perfect. That very day a letter had been received from the Commissioner of Railways in Ohio, giving a description of a communication by the simple method of a cord which seemed to work well even round the sharp curves of American railways. Under these circumstances he thought it would not be well to force the companies to a large expenditure without giving some time for further trial; but as to the exact date that ought to be inserted in the clause, he was in the hands of the Committee.


said, that on the Continent, when the communication was made by a passenger, the guard went to the carriage from which it had proceeded. The construction of the permanent way on the lines in this country did not permit of that being done on our railways; and as any plan yet tried in England consisted of a single signal, the guard could not know what was meant unless he stopped the train. To do that would in many cases be attended with the greatest danger to the lives of the whole of the passengers.


said, that the principle of having a communication between passengers and guard had already been approved by that House. A means of such communication had been supplied in the express trains of the South-Eastern Railway for a very considerable time, and he believed that no passenger had been found mischievous enough to make use of it for any idle purpose.

The word "April "substituted for "January."

Clause agreed to.

Remaining clauses agreed to.

On Motion of Mr. STEPHEN CAVE, the following new clauses were agreed to and added to the Bill:— After Clause 19—"V. Light Railways.—(Order for construction and working of Railway as a light Railway); (Conditions and regulations for light Railway); (Publication of regulations). Before Clause 23—"(Printed copies of shareholders address book); (Extension of scope of 'Railway Companies Powers Act, 1864,' 27 and 28 Vic. c. 20).' After Clause 28—"(Extension of time).

MR. BAZLEY moved, after Clause 12 to insert the following clauses:— II. Management.—Company may appoint or authorize appointment of executive committee; Power to separate the capital and revenue management; Capital expenditure to be voted at general meetings; Company in general meeting may remove directors; Preference holders on certain questions to have a right to vote; Questions may be decided by voting papers; Report of question and voting papers to be sent to shareholders; Secretary to receive proxies and voting papers.


, while admitting the advantage of the objects aimed at by the hon. Member, objected to these clauses, some of which would effect a revolution in railway administration. Many of them no doubt were useful, and be had given, under the clause extending the Railway Companies Powers Act, increased facility for adopting them. Of others he might say with all respect that they were suggested during the railway panic, and would over-ride Acts of Parliament under which the railways had been constructed. They went, in his opinion, much too far to admit of their being accepted.


said, that it should be recollected that directors had the power to carry out the provisions of those clauses without any Act of Parliament.

Clauses negatived seriatim.

MR. H. B. SHERIDAN moved in Part III., after Clause 17, to insert the following clause:— (Smoking compartments for all classes.) And all Railway Companies shall, from and after the passing of this Act, in every passenger train, provide smoking compartments for each class of passengers.


said, that some trains had so few carriages that two sets could not be provided.


said, he was chairman of a company whose trains sometimes consisted only of one compartment.


suggested that the provision should be made to apply only to trains of a certain length. The abuse of smoking had become so great, and the violation of the companies' by-laws so frequent, that the smoking in trains had become a positive nuisance. Scarcely a railway carriage could be entered in which smoking was not going on, or which was not tainted with stale tobacco.


said, he was in i favour of smoking compartments. Journeying on the Charing Cross and Cannon Street line the other day he found a youth in one of the carriages with a great deal more hair on his face than brains in his head smoking vigorously; a lady was in the carriage, and presuming she objected to the smoking, he asked her to go into another compartment with him. He conducted the lady to another compartment and returned to the contest with the young man. But smokers always had their own way.


said, he thought the matter had better be left to supply and demand; several railway companies had already provided smoking carriages, because they found it was to their interest to do so.


sympathized with the supporters of the clause. As a non-smoker he had often suffered severely from the violation of the by-laws against smoking; but, while admitting that railway companies had been rather slow to respond to the wants of travellers in this respect, he thought it better to leave the question to be settled by public opinion.


said, public opinion in this instance was swayed by a majority of smokers. It was a case of oppression by a majority of a minority.


said, he would support the clause. Anyone, no matter under what circumstances, asking a smoker to desist was generally abused like a pickpocket.


said, he would propose to withdraw the clause and bring up an amended one at the next stage of the Bill to meet the objection raised.

Clause withdrawn.

MR. KENDALL moved a new clause—Carriages to be provided exclusively for women.

Clause negatived.


said, he had a series of clauses to propose, but as it was now so near the hour at which the Sitting must be suspended, he would bring them up on the Report.


proposed the following clause:— (Railway Companies to be liable to penalties in case they shall provide Trains for Prize fights.) Any Railway Company that shall knowingly hire or otherwise provide any Special Train for the purpose of conveying parties to or to be present at any Prize fight, or who shall stop any Ordinary Train to convenience or accommodate any parties attending a Prize fight, at any place not an ordinary station on their line, shall be liable to a penalty, to be recovered in a summary way before two Justices of the county in which such Prize fight shall be held or shall be attempted to be held, of such sum, not exceeding £500 and not less than £200, as such Justices shall determine, one-half of such penalty to be paid to the party at whose suit the summons shall be issued, and the other half to be paid to the Treasurer of the county in which such Prize fight shall be held or shall be attempted to be held, in aid of the county rate; and service of the summons under which the penalty is sought to be enforced on the Secretary of the Company, at his office ten days before the day of hearing, shall be suficient to give the Justices before whom the case shall come jurisdiction to hear and determine the case.


said, he thought there was a considerable amount of false philanthropy in this matter. If time permitted, he had a great deal to say against this clause. A prize fight might be a very disgusting exhibition, and those who thought it was were not obliged to go to it. He did not go to prize fights; but he was of opinion that when we got rid of prize fighting the knife would appear.

Clause agreed to.

House resumed.

Committee report Progress; to sit again this day.