HC Deb 26 July 1869 vol 198 cc725-7

said, his object in pressing the Question, of which he had given notice to the President of the Board of Trade, was to bring before the House and the public in a prominent manner the names of those railway companies who had treated with indifference or contempt the circular recently issued by the Board of Trade, in consequence: of the large number of accidents which had occurred. The history of a period of four months during the present year, covered by the last Report from the Board of Trade, would alone justify very stringent measures. That Report showed that 10 out of 15 accidents had arisen from collisions. The Government Inspector, Colonel Yolland, had reported that the managers of railway companies were perfectly aware that the public were subjected under the present system to risks which were capable of being very greatly reduced; yet, lacking either the will or the power to adopt the necessary precautions, they allowed matters to continue in the same way. Since the official Report was issued a collision occurred on the the of June, which it was distinctly shown would not have occurred had the line been worked on the telegraph and block system. In other cases railway companies were shown to have abandoned the attempt to enforce an interval of time between trains, and had not substituted any interval of distance. The collision at New Cross, where 100 persons were injured, and one death happened, had occurred since the official Report was issued, as had also the collision with an excursion train near Castle Howard, and a further collision on the 6th of July, only four miles from the scene of the awful Abergele accident. In the hope that Government would persevere in the effort to enforce upon railway companies a due regard of human life, he would beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade, If he has taken any further steps with regard to his Circular to the Railway Companies upon the block system, in consequence of the accidents which have occurred within the last few weeks; if any Answers have been received from the different Railway Companies to that Circular; and whether, if he has received such Answers, he will lay them upon the Table of the House?


said, that with the permission of the House, he would answer the Question. To the circular sent out by the Board of Trade replies had been received from about three-fifths of the railway companies. These detailed the various systems in use upon their lines, and in cases where the block and telegraph system was not used the reasons for adopting a different course were stated. About two-fifths of the railway companies, however, had not complied with the circular at all, and to these, in consequence of recent reports which had reached that Department, he had felt it Ms duty to issue another circular, calling attention to the circular previously forwarded, and begging that the information required might at once be supplied. He hoped to receive answers from these different companies before the end of the Session, and in that case he should lay upon the table of the House a selection from those answers, so that hon. Members and the public might be able to judge of the validity of the reasons which were advanced.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.