HC Deb 16 May 1878 vol 240 cc11-21

Order for Second Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."


said, he felt it an imperative, but disagreeable and painful, duty to move that the second reading of the Bill be postponed until that day six months. He was induced to take this course from peculiar circumstances. Most English Members of Parliament had been in Ireland, and the majority of them travelled by way of Holyhead and Kingstown, passing in their way over a short section of railway, about six miles in length, from Kingstown to Dublin. Most of them, therefore, had an opportunity of judging whether that line was well or badly managed. He was of opinion—and he was fortified in that opinion by the declaration of the great majority of the citizens of Dublin—that the line had been mismanaged in a manner that reflected great discredit upon the Directors—most of them respectable, intelligent, and wealthy persons—and so mismanaged that it had materially injured the trade and property of the inhabitants of the district. Such being his opinion, he had felt it his duty, early in the Session, to call the attention of the Board of Trade to the subject, and to request them to institute an inquiry. The Board of Trade, accordingly, sent down Major-General Hutchinson, one of the Railway Inspectors of the Board, to the City of Dublin. That gentleman had made an inquiry, and had presented a Report, a copy of which he (Mr. Brooks) held in his hand, and which he would read in part. It was better, he thought, that he should take the observations of Major-General Hutchinson, rather than offer his own view of the facts. He had, however, found it impossible to devise any means for rectifying the abuses under which the citizens of Dublin suffered, except by an appeal to Parliament, fortified by a Report from the Board of Trade; because no Committee sitting upstairs upon the present Bill could deal with the question, as no one would have any locus standi before it. The Board of Trade had no power to deal with anything affecting simply the comfort of the passengers, and had no power to revise the fares, however excessive they might be. Neither the Board of Trade, nor any other public authority, had any power to compel the Railway Company to improve the railway carriages, no matter how discreditable they were. The Board of Trade had, however, placed in his hands a copy of the Report of Major-General Hutchinson as to the condition of things on the line between Dublin and Kingstown. Major-General Hutchinson held his inquiry on the 30th of March, and he reported that the stations between Dublin and Kingstown—namely, Lansdowne Road, Sidney Parade, Booterstown, and Blackrock—were one and all deficient in that accommodation as regarded waiting-rooms, water-closets, and platform-shelters, which might reasonably be expected upon a railway having a large suburban traffic. Major-General Hutchinson pointed out that at Lansdowne Road the shelter on the down platform consisted of an open shed; at Booterstown there was no ladies' waiting-room, although it was the most important station between Dublin and Kingstown. Not only was there no ladies' waiting-room, but there were no water-closets or urinal, and the platform at all of the stations, with the exception of Lansdowne Road, varied from 19 inches to 22 inches above the rail levels. Most of the carriages had only one step, so that infirm persons experienced considerable difficulty in stepping in and out of the carriages. It was hardly necessary to remind the House that within the last few days one of the oldest and most respected Members of the House came to an untimely death on account of the defective arrangements at one of the London stations. Yet this was one of those defects which was capable of very easy remedy. In addition, there were no bridges or subways for communicating from one platform to the other, and, according to the Report of Major-General Hutchinson, this formed a constant source of danger, particularly at Booterstown, where the up and down trains stopped simultaneously, and very frequently. The complaint he had made to the Board of Trade was under various heads. One related to the accommodation at the different stations, and another to the excessive amount of the fares. Major-General Hutchinson stated that, whilst upon the Dublin and Kingstown Railway—a line six miles in length—the second-class subscription ticket was£l2, the subscription for a similar distance on the London and North-Western Railway was only £7; on the London, Brighton, and South Coast, £6 10s., or 45 per cent less; on the Great Eastern, £7 10s.; the Great Northern, £7; the London, Chat- ham, and Dover, £7 10s.; and upon a line at Belfast, of a somewhat similar suburban character, while the second-class subscription ticket between Dublin and Kingstown was £12, between Belfast and Bangor, for the same distance, it was only £8. The Dublin, Wicklow, and Wexford Company wore established in the year 1848, and in 1856 they obtained a lease of the Dublin and Kingstown line. They obtained it on terms stated in the Preamble of their Bill—that if they obtained the lease, they would work the line more beneficially for the public. They obtained the lease on this understanding, and they immediately raised the fares, one and all, instead of reducing them; and the result was, that whereas the old Dublin and Kingstown Company were able to pay a dividend of 10 per cent upon the low and moderate and reasonable fares which they exacted, while happily for the citizens of Dublin they had the management of the line, the Company promoting the present Bill were able, by raising the fares, to extract from the unfortunate persons who lived on the line such further sums as enabled the two Companies to divide upon their capital the enormous dividend of 17½ per cent. Under the old system there was a return ticket of 6d. issued in the morning to workmen. The new management abolished this return ticket, and increased the second-class return ticket from 1s. to 1s. 2d. Major-General Hutchinson concluded his Report by stating that whereas, under the Act of 1856, by which the present Company leased the Dublin and Kingstown line, they were to make more advantageous arrangements for the public service, they had, in fact, exacted fares which, especially for season tickets, were unreasonably high. Major-General Hutchinson further stated that the complaints with regard to the want of reasonable accommodation of small-sized stations and the height of the platforms were well-founded; and, seeing that the Company were in a prosperous condition, the public had a right to expect accommodation of a superior class and character. The Company were now seeking to extend their powers; and he (Mr. Brooks) asked that Parliament should refer the complaint of Major-General Hutchinson and of the citizens of Dublin either to the Board of Trade, or to some indepen- dent authority, which should decide that, in acceding to the present project, there should be some assurance on the part of the Company that they would mitigate the grievances of which Major-General Hutchinson complained. He begged to move that the Bill be read a second time on that day six months.

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. Maurice Brooks.)

Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."


as Member for the County of Wexford, thought it was necessary that he should explain the reasons which induced him to oppose the Motion. The objections which had been urged by the hon. Member for Dublin did not touch the principle of the Bill, and were such as could be best dealt with when the Bill came before a Committee upstairs. The hon. Member had not said a word against the second reading of the Bill; and he therefore hoped the House would pursue the course which was usually taken in these cases, and read the Bill a second time, leaving its provisions to be considered by a Select Committee.


could not concur in the views of the hon. Member for Dublin, who had moved the rejection of the Bill, and quite agreed with the hon. Baronet opposite, that most of the questions which had been referred to by his hon. Friend were questions for the consideration of a Committee upstairs rather than for the House. He was sorry to add, however, that it would not be within the province of a Committee upstairs to consider all these questions. While he hoped the Bill would be read a second time, he had no desire that it should be read under the impression that the matters complained of which affected the Dublin and Wicklow traffic could be remedied by a Committee upstairs. The object of the Bill was to enable the Company promoting it to make a continuation of their line from New Ross to Waterford; and he thought it would be altogether a mistake to prevent the only Company which was able to do this from carrying out that work because another complaint, upon an entirely different matter, had been made against them. For his own part, he did not think they ought to stop a public work that would be, on the whole, beneficial to the country, because the Company who were promoting the Bill had been in other respects negligent, and had not considered the interests of the City of Dublin. Although he generally acted with his hon. Friend the Member for Dublin, he could not agree with him on this occasion, but would support the second reading of the Bill.


expressed a hope that his hon. Friend the Member for Dublin would withdraw his opposition to the Bill. He had never in his life heard a weaker argument than the one which his hon. Friend had brought forward. The Bill was promoted by the Dublin, Wicklow, and Wexford Railway Company. It was originated in the House of Lords, and it had gone through every stage required by the Standing Orders of both Houses of Parliament. It had been twice referred to the Examiners of Private Bills, and had been passed by them, notwithstanding opposition and the complaint that the Standing Orders had not been complied with. It had been referred by the House of Lords to a Select Committee, by whom it had been carefully considered before it was passed and reported. His hon. Friend appeared to have completely lost sight of the main object of the Bill, which was to construct a new line. His hon. Friend, he hoped unintentionally, had endeavoured to throw dust in the eyes of the House. The object of the Bill was to construct a line, which was urgently required in the public interests, extending from the town of New Ross to the Waterford and Dungarvan Railway terminus in the City of Waterford. If the opposition to the measure were successful, no railway could be made between these two important towns. And, in regard to that opposition, so far as the inconveniences now sustained in connection with the Dublin and Kingstown line were concerned, he was authorized to say that a contract had already been entered into for the building of a new station at Westland Row, which would cost £75,000. He was free to confess that the present station at Westland Row was disgraceful; but after the £75,000 had been spent upon it, it would not be so. The Company were also about to enter into contracts for taking land, which would enable them to improve the condition of all the stations on the line. Under these circumstances, the objections urged by his hon. Friend fell to the ground at once. He hoped the House would not assent to the Amendment, which, if carried, would prevent an important railway communication being made between the town of New Ross and the City of Waterford.


suggested, as an Amendment to the Motion of the hon. Member for Dublin, that in place of postponing the second reading of the Bill for six months, it should be postponed for three or four weeks. The object of his hon. Friend would be fully attained by taking that course, and time would be given to enable the Report of Major-General Hutchinson to be circulated and made known among the Members of the House. Although differing from the hon. Member for Dublin to a certain extent, he wished to remind the House that if Westland Row station was going to be improved in any way it would be because of the action taken on the floor of that House by his hon. Friend. The improvement of that station was certainly necessary in order to wipe out a great scandal from the railway management of Ireland. The only reason why the present Bill was opposed was that it was promoted by a Company who had the management of the Dublin and Kingstown line. That had been execrably mismanaged. It was the filthiest line in the whole Empire, and Irishmen felt keenly that it would be a bad line even for the wilds of Connemara. Unfortunately for the character of the country, it was the line which English tourists first encountered when they crossed the Channel from Holy-head, and they naturally turned up their noses at what they considered a very dirty way of doing business. As to the grand Westland Row terminus that was to be built, he could only say that one of the humorous traditions of Dublin, in reference to the management of the Dublin and Kingstown line, was that the most remarkable event in the history of the line occurred within the last 10 years when, on the occasion of a member of the Royal Family going over, a porter was actually seen brushing out the railway carriages with a broom.


hoped the hon. Member for Dublin (Mr. M. Brooks) would not put the House to the trouble of dividing on the second reading of the Bill. The hon. and learned Member who had just spoken had expressed himself in terms certainly very strong; but he dare say not at all stronger than were deserved, of the management of the railway between Dublin and Kingstown; but, at the same time, he thought the suggestion made by the hon. and learned Member for Louth was one that would hardly recommend itself to the House on further consideration. The hon. and learned Member suggested that the Bill should be delayed for three weeks or a month, in order that the Report of Major-General Hutchinson should be studied by the House. He did not question that that Report might be studied with advantage; but he did not see what contribution its consideration would bring to the final conclusion to be arrived at with regard to this particular spur of the Dublin, Wicklow, and Wexford Railway. The object of the Bill was to make a small extension of the main system of the Dublin, Wicklow, and Wexford Railway—namely, from the town of New Ross to Waterford, and it did not apply to the Dublin and Kingstown line at all. He believed that the proposition embodied in the measure met with the approval of the landowners in the locality. It was supported by one of the Members for the City of Waterford (Major O'Gorman), and also by the hon. Members for Wexford and Youghal (Sir George Bowyer and Sir Joseph M'Kenna), who were supposed to represent the views of that part of the country. Under these circumstances, he did not think the City of Waterford and the town of New Ross ought to be deprived of the substantial benefit which they would derive from the construction of this railway. He agreed with the hon. Member for Youghal (Sir Joseph M'Kenna), that the objections to the Bill were not in the nature of objections which could be raised before a Committee on the measure, because the hon. Member for Dublin would have no locus standi before a Committee, and the Corporation of Dublin, who had been allowed a locus standi with regard to certain matters, had not raised the objections urged by the hon. Member. He (Mr. Raikes) thought that, upon, the whole, it would be a pity to punish the people of Waterford on account of the defects of a railway between Dublin and Kingstown; and it might be taken for granted, that now the attention of the Board of Trade had been called to the condition of the latter line, matters would not be allowed to rest where they did, but that something would be done with a view of insuring improvement. On this occasion he supported the second reading of the Bill, and he saw no reason why the House should refuse to send it to a Select Committee.


concurred in the remarks which had been made in regard to the disgraceful state of the Dublin and Kingstown Railway. It had been spoken of repeatedly, and he hoped there was at length some chance of obtaining some improvement of the line. The Report of Major-General Hutchinson concerned not only the Members of that House, but the whole of the public. The condition of the Dublin and Kingstown line was disgraceful, not only to the people of Ireland, but to the public at large. In journeying between London and Dublin the traveller, on his arrival at Kingstown, had to get ashore as he best could. Not unfrequently he was obliged to wait for half or three-quarters of an hour until the mails were got on shore. All the Company cared about was the mails, and they did not care a straw about the comfort or convenience of the passengers or men of business. He thought it would be disgraceful to allow this state of things to be continued.


said, he had been authorized, by the Railway Company who were promoting the present Bill, to state that the Report of Major-General Hutchinson would receive its fullest and most liberal consideration, and that many of the suggestions contained in the Report were in the course of being carried out. He had no doubt that the present condition of the Dublin and Kingstown Railway was, in many respects, very unsatisfactory; but he believed there was every desire to effect an improvement, and he trusted the hon. Member for Dublin, under the circumstances, would withdraw the Motion he had made.


agreed with the hon. Member for Dublin that all the arrangements affecting the Dublin and Kingstown Railway were of a most dis- graceful character, and that it was perfectly legitimate to place pressure upon the Company, in order to compel it to reform its system of management, even by postponing the consideration of a Bill for another and independent line until some sort of security was obtained that the necessary reforms would be carried out. The general assurance given on the part of the Railway Company by the hon. Baronet the Member for Dublin (Sir Arthur Guinness) was by no means satisfactory or sufficient. All the Company promised was that they would take the Report of Major-General Hutchinson into favourable consideration. They knew perfectly well in that House what "favourable consideration" meant. It meant, in most cases, that there would be no more consideration on the subject, but that it would be quietly shelved. If the Bill were postponed for three or four weeks, the Company would probably be induced, in the meantime, to give a bonâ fide undertaking, in the form of a clause to be introduced into the Bill in its passage through Committee, binding themselves to carry out the reforms which were necessary, and which were asked for. One very strong argument for the adoption of this course had been supplied by the hon. Member for Chester (Mr. Raikes), when he stated that the hon. Member for Dublin (Mr. Brooks) had no locus standi to appear before the Committee in opposition to the Bill, and, further, that the Corporation of Dublin, as a Corporation, had no power to appear for the purpose of obtaining the improvement of any railway station beyond the scope of the present Bill. He thought the suggestion of the hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan) ought to be agreed to. At the same time, the arguments of the hon. and gallant Member for Waterford (Major O'Gorman) were entitled to great weight; but, unfortunately, the promoters of the Bill, if they obtained their Act, could snap their fingers at the passengers, and the result might be that the reforms that were asked for would never be carried out. For these reasons, he hoped that the further consideration of the project would be postponed, and that an opportunity would be afforded to the House of forming an opinion as to the value of the reforms which were required by the public, and the promises made by the Company to carry them out.


said, he felt that there was considerable force in the observations which had been made by his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Waterford—that the residents in one district ought not to be punished, by retarding the construction of a line, in consequence of the mismanagement of the Directors in regard to another part of their system. Therefore, with the leave of the House, he would withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read a second time, and committed.