HC Deb 18 March 1870 vol 200 cc212-3

took occasion to call the attention of the House to a question of alleged bribery in connection with railway matters. In 1864 a Bill was before Parliament for the construction of a railway, which came within four or five miles of his property. With that railway he had nothing to do beyond giving evidence before a Committee. The Bill passed, and he thought he had nothing more to do with it. About twelve months afterwards, however, he received a letter from an engineer who had, he believed, been very active in promoting the line, asking him what money he had received in connection with the Devon and Somerset Railway. His answer was that he had received no money; that he had had no dealings with the railway company, and that he never had a share in it. He further begged to be informed why so extraordinary a question had been put to him. The reply was, that his name appeared in the books, and that it would seem that he had received a sum of £24 for his evidence. He immediately sent the whole correspondence to the papers published at Taunton on the one hand and Barnstaple on the other, and he soon afterwards learnt that a considerable sum of money had been drawn out of the railway funds in the names of different persons, in which he figured to the amount he had mentioned. A quarrel between certain persons concerned in the undertaking had, however, brought the whole circumstance to light. He might just as well have been put down for ten times the amount; and he thought it right to mention the matter because, as in the instance which had been alluded to by Lord Romilly, the whole thing might be raked up, perhaps fifteen years afterwards, when there would be no opportunity of replying to the charge.

His own case only served to show that in the hands of dishonest persons it was not safe for an hon. Member to come before a Committee of that House to give evidence.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn; Committee deferred till Monday next.

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