§ Order for Second Beading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Lord John Manners.)1489
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, the House ought to have full explanation of the purposes for which the £500,000 proposed to he raised was required. It was desirable they should know whether the money was to he exclusively applied in payment of the purchase of railway lines of telegraph, or for the amount agreed upon some time ago, together with the interest since accrued?
said, he wanted to ask three questions—namely, 1. What the total capital expenditure on the telegraphs, up to the present time had been; 2, how much it was thought would still have to be paid to close the capital account as far as the agreements of 1868–70 were concerned; 3, with how many railway companies the price of the purchase of their interest in the lines of telegraph was not yet settled, and what companies those were?
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
said, his right hon. Friend (Mr. Goschen) was well aware that the late Government undertook the duty of purchasing the telegraphs, and that the Act of 1873 provided for £1,250,000 for various charges arising under the earlier Acts. Certain arbitrations had been concluded this year to meet the awards on which no fund existed. They amounted to about £200,000, of which £169,000 or so had been awarded to the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company. There still remained the claims of several other railway companies, and he hoped that £300,000 would be sufficient to meet those claims, which were inherited by the present from preceding Governments, and accrued under the Act of 1868 and 1869. The awards in each case included interest. It would be hard at this time to charge upon revenue more than the actual cost of the service and the interest on the capital sum which represented the charge for acquiring it. Under the Act of 1873 provision was made for the commutation of pensions to the extent of £230,000. He regretted being the organ to ask for a large sum which possibly did not represent the total claims for completing the acquisition of the telegraphs; but he trusted they would soon arrive at the end of the account, and no exertion would be spared on the part of the Treasury to bring about that result. The total of the capital account to the present time, so far as was ascertained, was £9,250,000, of which there was a ba- 1490 lance left of £87,000, which, however, was due to the fund set apart under the Act of 1873 for the commutation of pensions.
§ LORD FREDERICK CAVENDISH
doubted whether the House had heard a more discreditable statement in connection with the purchase of the telegraphs than that just made. He could not but say that it was desirable that the hon. Gentleman should give the House more information on the subject, and that it should know the entire amount to be taken for the railway companies: £700,000 had been granted lately, and now £500,000 was asked for. Perhaps the noble Lord the Postmaster General would inform the House how it was that money had been paid for some of those telegraphs twice over?
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
said, he had not the Papers at hand showing the total amount, but in the case of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company, which claimed £1,129,814, with interest amounting to £137,460, and £1 per mile per wire annually for way leave, the amount awarded was £169,197, and 1s. per mile per wire annually for way leave; and in the case of the Great Eastern Company, whose claim was £412,680, and £200 per annum for way leave, with £22,349 as interest, and £1 per mile per wire annually for way leave, only £73,315 was awarded. The claims of the railway companies were increased by the passing of the monopoly clauses, and he contended that the Government were simply carrying out the intentions of the Legislature in meeting the claims which were preferred by the railway companies under the Act of Parliament and settled by arbitration.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time, and committed for Thursday.