HC Deb 17 May 1878 vol 240 cc128-56

Order for Second Reading read.

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


in rising to move that the Bill be read a second time that day six months, said, the Bill related to a railway in the county of Waterford—a county bounded on the south by the sea, and on the north by the Commeragh and Knockmealdown chain of mountains. Attempts had been made, over and over again, to get this railway constructed, but all of them had failed, for the traffic was not looked upon as sufficient to invite private speculators to invest their capital. After the abandonment, in 1871, of an Act which had previously been obtained by a private Company, the local solicitor and engineer of the line which was abandoned got up a subscription of a few hundred pounds from certain individuals in Waterford, and lodged a Bill for consideration in the Session of 1872, which asked, among other things, for a guarantee from four out of the eight baronies in the county of 5 per cent for 20 years on £280,000 required to construct the line. A meeting of the ratepayers of the baronies was called in 1872, and at that meeting a committee was appointed to draw up a resolution for the general meeting outside. He (Mr. Delahunty) happened to be a member of that committee, which also included Lord Waterford, Sir Robert Paul, Mr. Carew, the Hon. Mr. Stuart, Mr. Power, and Mr. Edward Roberts—making seven altogether. At the meeting, Lord Waterford and others said, at once, that they would give no guarantee; and in the discussion which took place, the opinion was adopted that it would be well if the ratepayers themselves would supply the whole of the capital for making the line by pledging the rates of the eight baronies, and also the rates of the city, for a certain period, and raising a sufficient sum to cover both interest and sinking fund, so as to give the county and city the sole property in the railway at the end of 35 years. At that meeting the solicitor of the promoters of the Bill was present, and he suggested that the Bill then before Parliament should be adopted in the same light as a Parliamentary dummy Bill, for the purpose of avoiding the expense that was always incurred in lodging plans for a new measure. The committee agreed with that suggestion, and that the Bill, although at that time considered as merely so much waste paper, should be adopted in that way, as a step towards getting a new Bill in the subsequent Session, in which the wishes of the ratepayers might be inserted and carried out. He could, if necessary, refer to the speeches which were made on the occasion, and particularly his own, to show what the intention at that time was with regard to the Bill. Undoubtedly, there was no intention of giving a guarantee for 20 years. That was distinctly refused; but the conclusion arrived at was to provide 5 per cent on an estimated capital of £280,000 for a period of five years, during the construction of the line, and for 35 years after the opening of the railway for traffic by charging the rates with 3½ per cent upon the capital, which was expected to be got from the Board of Works, and 1½ per cent for a sinking fund. That being so, it was estimated that these two payments of 3½ per cent and 1½ per cent would enable the county and city to acquire the entire property of the railway at the end of 35 years. It was not necessary that he should state all that was said at the meeting. He had brought the newspaper reports with him, and he might read the views expressed as to the intentions of the meeting, if the House thought necessary. The dummy Bill was assented to, and in August, 1872, a meeting of the ratepayers was held, at which both the county and the city agreed in effect to ratify the proceedings of the former meeting. Resolutions were, therefore, passed, one of which he would read, authorizing the construction of the railway, and making provision for raising the necessary capital. Not only were the four baronies of the county included in the liability of the original Bill, but the other four baronies and the city of Waterford were combined with them in carrying into effect the same object. The resolution would show exactly what was understood to be the nature of the liability. It was as follows:— That, inasmuch as the ratepayers of the county and city of Waterford are to guarantee the payment of interest on the whole capital required for the construction of the Waterford, Dungarvan, and Lismore Railway, whether advanced by the Public Works Loan Commissioners or otherwise, it should be enacted, that the directors thereof be appointed and elected by the Grand Juries of the county and city in the proportion of eight for the county and four for the city, and that such directors, as trustees of the ratepayers, have and enjoy full powers to construct and manage such railway. Nothing could be more explicit than that resolution, and no contrary resolution of ratepayers ever passed in regard to this railway. But the professional gentlemen to whom he had already referred, who assisted in getting up the meeting, and had the confidence of the directors, in place of carrying out the wishes of the ratepayers for the construction of the railway as a county and city railway, omitted altogether in the Parliamentary Notice published in November, 1872, any provision to authorize the ratepayer ownership and control, but merely conferred a subsidy—if it might so be called—of £14,000 a-year for 40 years to the parties who were the original promoters of the line, and leaving the county out altogether. It was not until 1873 that the ratepayers found out how they were being treated, and that this fraud, if he might call it so, perpetrated upon them. They petitioned Parliament, but it happened that they were too late, the Bill having passed the Commons, and the time for petitioning in the Lords having expired. Even at the eleventh hour the justice of their case was so strong and so apparent, that they succeeded in getting inserted a Proviso in the 10th clause of the Bill, by which the Grand Juries of the county and city at the next ensuing Assizes were authorized to appoint directors in the manner proposed by the resolution previously passed by the ratepayers. When that power was conferred upon the Grand Juries the city Grand Jury acted upon it, and appointed their four directors. The county Grand Jury, influenced by the promoters, however, did not appoint their number, and the consequence was, that the intentions of Parliament were frustrated. He held in his hand a letter, written at the time by Messrs. Holmes and Co., Parliamentary agents, who acted for the Petitioners, and it showed exactly what occurred in regard to the Proviso inserted in the Bill. The letter was as follows:— 7th July, 1873. DEAR SIR,—I have duly received from you The Waterford News of the 4th inst., containing a letter from Mr. Edmond Power, dated the 1st of July, 1873. [Mr. Edmond Power was solicitor to the Company.] As regards the paragraph in that letter referring to the presentation of the Petition, Mr. Power's statement is entirely erroneous. In the first place, you were not present, although he has stated that you were. Secondly, the object of the meeting with Lord Redesdale, referred to, was for the purpose of asking his Lordship to suspend the Standing Orders, so as to enable the ratepayers to present a Petition against the Bill, and to appear by counsel before a Select Committee of the House. On his Lordship being informed that the Bill had passed through the Commons unopposed, and was to come before his Lordship in Committee in a day or so after, as an unopposed Bill, he very properly, without hearing any argument on the subject, declined to suspend the Standing Order, but informed the promoters, who were represented by their Parliamentary agent, that he would require strict proof of the Preamble. When the Committee met, his Lordship heard your statement, and supported the correctness of it by declining to pass the Bill as it stood. He required the promoters to alter the 10th clause, so as to deal with the Bill in conformity with the resolutions passed by the ratepayers, which was all that you required. The Bill was then amended by Lord Redesdale, although there was no Parliamentary Notice given of any such Amendment, and the Bill went down to the Grand Juries in that shape. The provision was that the Grand Juries at the coming Assizes should appoint all the directors—eight by the county Grand Jury, and four by the city Grand Jury. The city and Grand Jury, as he had already stated, appointed their four; but the county, influenced by the directors of the Company, of whom there were several on the Grand Jury, refused to carry out the law; and the consequence was that the ratepayers found themselves bound to pay the whole price of the railway—£14,000 a-year for 40 years—without having any ownership or control whatever over the concern. It was a scandal that such a thing should have occurred, or that the ratepayers should be mulcted to such an extent by persons acting without their consent and against their wishes. He thought that the ratepayers of the county and city of Waterford, having thus been robbed and plundered, had a right to be heard. It was a scandal and disgrace to find that such a thing could have occurred without a remedy. If a private individual paid the interest upon the purchase money of an estate and provided a sinking fund to pay off the capital, and then an attorney, who had acted for him, stepped in and made the property his own, surely a Court of Equity would make such person give up the property so acquired. The county of Waterford had paid for this railway, and yet they found them- selves without ownership or control. The Bill now before the House was a new Bill brought forward to give further powers to the Company, so that they might dip their hands still further into the pockets of the ratepayers. The ratepayers were almost to a man against it, and thousands of signatures could be obtained to a Petition against the Bill. He would read two letters which he had received from two of the principal landowners of the county. One was from Mr. More Smyth, of Ballinatray, who was very well known all over Ireland. Mr. Smyth wrote— SIR,—I have just seen and read your Circular about the Waterford, Dungarvan, and Lismore Railway, which I most heartily approve of. [That was a Circular which he (Mr. Delahunty) had sent to every elector of the county. A meeting was held in the county, at which the gentleman who wrote the next letter he intended to read acted as chairman, and the meeting was unanimous in passing votes of approval, support, and co-operation with him and those who desired to restrain this attempt at the perpetration of further wrong.] I was on the Grand Jury of the county when this Bill was first introduced. It is as different now as day is from night. I regret much that my time is limited, and that I cannot more fully enter into the matter; but, perhaps, I may have an opportunity of doing so some other time. In the meantime, I will set the wires going, and get as many signatures as possible from the ratepayers. Wishing you every success in your efforts to relieve the ratepayers from an act of injustice and from the burden of ruinous taxation which has been thrust upon them,—I have the honour to be, &c. (Signed) C. U. MORE SMYTH. The second letter was from a gentleman—well known as a large landed proprietor in the county—Mr. R. Maxwell Gumbleton. He wrote— March 27th, 1878. DEAR MR. DELAHUNTY,—Thanks for your letter just received. I beg to say that it is out of my power to leave home just now, or I would have much pleasure in assisting in letting the Parliament know the feeling of the Waterford ratepayers concerning the guaranteed railway. Any way, you have done your duty like a man, and you may he sure all the landholders, and many of the landowners, feel grateful to you for the trouble you have taken in trying to stop more taxation being put on the people, who can hardly hold their heads over water.—Yours sincerely, &c. R. M. GUMBLETON. In 1873, the Press of Waterford all commented upon what occurred. He mentioned the fact, because it had been said that the ratepayers never wanted to have this railway. He would read one short paragraph from one of the papers of that day to show that such was not the case. It was as follows:— Nothing could be more gratifying than the fact—novel in this country—that the new railway will be the property, not of speculators (which it was now), but of the people who will find the money for it—namely, the ratepayers both of the city and county—to be used for their own benefit. It will be made by a loan from Government, to be repaid, both principal and interest, in 35 years, That showed what the general feeling was as to the real intention of the ratepayers. It was fully in accordance with the statements made in the speeches, and showed the construction placed upon such statements by the newspapers. He had read this extract, because he regarded it as short, conclusive, and entirely to the point. It showed at once what was intended. Matters, however, had been so manipulated since, that the people of Waterford now found themselves in the position of having to pay a subsidy, equal, according to population, to that of the French after the German War. Nevertheless, this Company comes before Parliament, asking for further powers to enable them to mulct the people. Parliament fully intended that the ratepayers should have the control of this railway. The Proviso inserted in the Bill, and which was inserted upon the Petition of the ratepayers, was to the effect that the Grand Juries at the Assizes of 1873 should appoint the directors. Unfortunately, it was left optional with them. It was said at the time that it ought to be compulsory; but, unfortunately, the ratepayers had confidence in the Grand Juries that they would do what was right. He saw now that they ought to have made the exercise of the power compulsory; but, unfortunately, they did not, and the result was that the county was sold. The present Bill proposed to raise additional capital, and it said that the new capital was not to be charged upon the ratepayers. Supposing this were really the fact, the Company took powers in the Bill for making working traffic and running arrangements with other Companies, which they could exercise independent of all control by the ratepayers. They would virtually be allowed to do what they pleased, and they could enter into arrangements with other Railway Companies, particularly with a line belonging to the Duke of Devonshire, between Lismore and Fermoy, by which they would be able to sweep away any receipts that ought to go to the relief of the liabilities of the ratepayers, and give the benefit of them to the other lines. In effect, this Bill would hang an additional millstone round the neck of the ratepayers, and any railway man must know that a Railway Board could enter into arrangements with another Company, so that they could lose up to 75 per cent of the expenses incurred in the working of the line. He had himself been Chairman of a Company, which made an arrangement with another Company, by which that Company worked the line at a price which ensured a loss of near 75 per cent on the working. He was in a position to prove the truth of this statement, and in this particular case they were dealing with parties who had an interest in doing what was right. In the case he was acquainted with, the Company paid for their shares without a guarantee; but here was a Company whose dividends were paid by the ratepayers, and who had no interest in keeping down the working expenses. In fact, during the whole time of the construction of the line, the county had paid 5 per cent on all the money raised. They were paying £14,000 a-year now, although the line was not opened; and yet the Company, who had paid nothing towards their dividends, were coming to Parliament and seeking for further powers to enable them to enter into arrangements with some such line as the Fermoy and Lismore Railway, which, now paying nothing to its owners, would, under these arrangements, be sure to increase the working expenses of the guaranteed line, and prevent for ever any hope of lessening liabilities or repaying advances. All he would say, further, was that a contract had been deliberately entered into, which contract had not been fulfilled. Parliament had itself stepped in for the purpose of securing something like the performance of the contract; but from circumstances, over which the ratepayers had no control, unfortunately, the intentions of Parliament had been frustrated and violated. He thought that, under these circumstances, the House of Commons ought not to allow any further powers to be granted to this Company until they had restored the ratepayers to a proper control over the line. That was one position that he took up. Another was, that the ratepayers had already been served with a notice by the Company that they had no locus standi to appear before a Parliamentary Committee against this Bill. If they had no such locus standi before a Select Committee, they would find themselves done. It was, therefore, imperative that they should oppose the second reading of the Bill, unless the promoters consented to restore to the ratepayers, by the insertion of clauses, the power they claimed of appointing the directors. The parties who contributed to the cost of the line were entitled, under the Act, to receive 5 per cent. The county and the city were the only parties who had paid anything, and they should be the only parties who ought to work the line. Unfortunately, the line was in the hands of parties who had no interest to work it cheaply. On the contrary, in the place of making the line for the estimates as they ought to have done, they added £200,000 to the cost. They had not only spent the £280,000, but £193,000 in addition, which had been raised by debenture bonds, and still they were £100,000 short of the means of making the line and providing the rolling stock. At the present moment they had no rolling stock, and to obtain it they wanted to dip their hands further into the pockets of the ratepayers. It was under these circumstances that the ratepayers objected to any further powers being granted to the Company. Let them, finish the line they had contracted for, and if there were to be a new speculation set on foot, let them carry it out independently. There was another speculation they had put forward, not in connection with the present line, but for the construction of another—a line from Fermoy to Cork. They had issued notices for a line between those towns, although they had not a penny, and were unable to find the funds to finish their present contract. Yet Parliament was asked to allow them the further powers asked for in the present Bill. He hoped that Parliament would do jus- tice to the ratepayers; that they would reject the Bill; and that this fresh attempt at extortion would be defeated. Parliament ought to stand by their own declaration to the ratepayers of the county, and concede to them the right of appointing the directors of the Company. It was part of the Bill of 1873 that they were to appoint, through the Grand Juries, all the directors. The income of all landholders was, for Income Tax purposes, reckoned to be £1 per annum for every £3 of their land valuation. They would, therefore, on a 3d. Income Tax, have to pay 1d. on every £1 of their land valuation. This special tax was 1s. 4d. in the £1, so that they had to pay 16 times as much for this tax as they had to pay for the Income Tax. He asked, if that were not a direct scandal? And it must not be forgotten that, although they paid the money, they had no sort of ownership over the line. The Company ought to endeavour to act towards the ratepayers in an equitable spirit. The ratepayers would be perfectly ready to meet them; but they would not rest content to be for ever deprived of their property. If the Bill were not rejected on the second reading, the chances were that the Forms of Parliament would prevent the ratepayers from being heard before a Select Committee; but, whether or not, he did not see why the ratepayers, burdened as they were, should have to spend £700 or £800 to fight a battle before a Select Committee, in which their own money would be employed in fighting against them. That this was so was apparent from the Bill itself, which stated that the cost of the measure was to be paid for by the Company; so that the ratepayers would find their own money was being used for the purpose of cutting their throats. He trusted that the House would unanimously reject the Bill, and he begged now to move that it be read a second time on that day six months.


said, he rose to second the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Waterford, and he did so without having any interest whatever in the locality affected by the Bill. Nor did he intend, in the remarks he intended to offer, to say anything at all in regard to the merits or details of the question. It seemed to him that in the Bill now before the House a very great principle was involved. It would be recollected that on former occasions the question of localities guaranteeing a certain dividend on the money invested in railways had been before the House. It would also be remembered that that principle had never been adopted in England. In England the principle had never been assented to of allowing a Company to go down to any part of the country and construct a line with a guaranteed dividend to the shareholders. The principle had, however, been adopted in the case of Ireland, and the abuses which crept in in regard to this guaranteed system in Ireland became so great, that a few years ago it was found necessary to pass a Standing Order which required the approval of the local authorities, before the promoters of such a Bill were heard, or before the Bill was taken into consideration by Parliament. In the year 1874 a Standing Order, upon his Motion and at his suggestion, was passed by the House, to the effect that none of these guarantees should be sanctioned and none of these charges thrown upon the local rates, or even received or entertained by Parliament, unless the proposal was first approved by the Guardians, the Presentment Sessions, and by the Grand Juries. This particular Bill was passed before that Standing Order came into force, and consequently, in this particular case, the preliminary assents were never obtained, and the Bill passed through Parliament without the sanction of the local authorities in this respect having been obtained. But in addition to this fact, there was this circumstance connected with the existing Act, which he believed was quite exceptional—namely, that the whole of the capital had been guaranteed. As the hon. Member for Waterford had explained, the county having guaranteed the interest upon the capital, it was intended that the railway should really belong to the county. It was further intended by Parliament that the county, representing the only parties having an interest in the line, should have full control over it. As the hon. Member for Waterford had pointed out, as a matter of fact that understanding was not carried out. The railway, instead of belonging to the county, had been converted, like all other guaranteed railways, into a shareholders' railway, under directors appointed by the shareholders. It was under these circumstances that the Company came now to ask for a further extension and for the privileges to which his hon. Friend had alluded. He (the O'Conor Don) contended that even if this further extension did not interfere with the guarantee or the charge already placed on the county, the Company would have no right to come to Parliament and ask for a further extension until, in the first instance, they had carried out the intentions of Parliament in passing the original Act—namely, that the line should belong to the county through whose money it was made. Another reason why he had risen to second the Motion of his hon. Friend was this—It seemed to him that in the Bill there was an endeavour to place an additional charge upon the ratepayers indirectly, which, if it were to be placed upon them directly, would come under the Standing Orders, and would consequently require the sanction of the Grand Jury. It would, he thought, be well for the House to consider whether it would allow a Standing Order, passed with the intention of securing the interests of the ratepayers in all these cases, to be evaded, as was done in this case. He asked the particular attention of the Chairman of Committees to this point. By the Bill, as he understood its provisions, certain powers were taken for entering into arrangements with other Railway Companies with regard to running powers and so on. Everyone connected with railway management knew perfectly well that under an arrangement entered into with another Company the running powers and arrangements made for carrying on the traffic might be of such a character as to absorb almost the entire amount of the receipts, or, at any rate, the greater portion of them. Under the existing Act the receipts were to go towards the relief of the burdens of the ratepayers, who were to provide any excess of expenditure and interest upon the capital invested over the receipts. By reducing the receipts, and taking away from the ratepayers anything not contemplated by the original Act, they interfered with the security given to the ratepayers. Therefore, in the present Bill, although there was no proposal to have a new guarantee, there was, in reality, a proposal to interfere with a sum of money which, by the original Act, was to go to the ratepayers. He held that this was as much an attack upon the pockets of the ratepayers, as if the Company proposed in the Bill to have a new guarantee. If they proposed a new guarantee on their new capital, there could not be a question that they would have, under the Standing Order, to go, in the first instance, to the local authorities for their approval; and he was of opinion that Parliament ought not to permit them to do indirectly that which they could not do directly. This, he thought, was a good and sufficient reason for rejecting the Bill on the second reading. As a rule, he was indisposed to reject a Bill on the second reading, believing that it might be much better settled in a Committee upstairs. There was, however, a further reason why the House should go into this question upon the second reading—namely, that by the technical Rules of Parliament it was possible that the ratepayers might not be able to obtain a hearing before a Select Committee. An objection had already been lodged against their being heard; and, consequently, if the House did not discuss the question now, it might be the case that the ratepayers would never obtain a hearing at all, and the promoters of the Bill might technically, in the first place, defeat the Standing Order intended to protect the ratepayers; and, in the second place, might, upon another technical Rule, shut out this important question from the consideration of the Committee. Under these circumstances—having no interest in the Bill, knowing nothing about the country through which it passed, but feeling an interest in the question of taxing the people of Ireland for speculative Railway Companies—he felt he was justified in supporting his hon. Friend the Member for Waterford in the Motion he had made.

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. Delahunty.)

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


did not propose to follow his hon. Friend through the matters which he had brought forward in a somewhat more impassioned appeal than was generally found provided in the materials of a Private Bill; but, if the House would permit him, he would supplement one or two facts, which he thought would satisfy the House that the proposal made by his hon. Friend was not only somewhat strong, but somewhat questionable. His hon. Friend asked the House, if not in entire ignorance, but with a partial knowledge of the facts, to reverse the decision come to after a three days' inquiry by the House of Lords, where all the facts were investigated, and where his hon. Friend appeared not only as a petitioner, but as a witness. He thought it was hardly expedient—and he spoke from some experience, both there and elsewhere, of these matters—that the House should take upon themselves, without further knowledge, to reverse the decision of the House of Lords. He thought it right that the Bill should be read a second time, and referred to a Committee, equally competent with that which had already considered it, to deal with all the questions which might be submitted to them, and before whom all the facts might be laid. He was satisfied of this—that if the justice of the case demanded it, a Committee of one House would never allow itself to be influenced by the decision of another House; and experience told him, that not unfrequently a decision already arrived at by one House had been reversed by the other, if a proper ground were presented, or if the case had been imperfectly heard by the first tribunal: therefore, he thought his hon. Friend would be perfectly safe in leaving the matter to be dealt with in the ordinary way. The hon. Member for Roscommon opposed the Bill, because it involved a question of principle. But the principle was recognized already in Irish Bills; and, although an attempt had been made to introduce the same principle into England, it had never succeeded. It had, however, prevailed in regard to Irish Bills; and the reason why it was introduced was, because railways had added so much to the wealth and prosperity of Ireland, and because they never would have been made or undertaken if there had not been some guarantee of this nature secured to the promoters of the original undertaking. No one could look at the success which had attended the construction of railways in Ireland, so far as the interests of the people were concerned, without feeling that Parliament was right in giving these facilities. Certainly, without them, many of the railways of Ireland would never have existed. Therefore, if it was proposed to reject the present Bill because it introduced a new principle, he said that the principle was already acted upon. They were now asked to stop a great public work. It was upon public grounds alone that this Bill was introduced. He knew nothing of the parties or of the locality, but he had seen the Bill, and its object was to give additional station accommodation to the persons who would use the railway. He said, then, that there were no facts or circumstances in the case which an ordinary tribunal was not competent to deal with, and he hoped the House would be satisfied to allow it to be so dealt with. If there was one consideration which he might offer, it was this—that when the parties went before a Committee in either House, and their case was fairly heard, and, after having done their best to succeed, had been defeated, they would accept the decision without a murmur, although they might be dissatisfied with it. He did know this—that if a Bill was rejected on the second reading after a short discussion, which involved no new principle, parties would have little faith in Private Bill legislation. They would necessarily be greatly dissatisfied, and would have very little confidence in the judgment of the House. And he thought the general public outside would be of the same opinion. He therefore hoped that the House would not take the extreme course of rejecting a Private Bill on the second reading, unless there was something exceptional in its provisions, which he confessed he was unable to discover in the present case.


remarked, that the hon. and learned Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Rodwell) had addressed the House on general principles, and was unacquainted with the special facts of this particular case. [Mr. RODWELL said, he had already stated that he had seen the Bill.] He did not mean to say that the hon. and learned Member had not seen the Bill; but he thought if the hon. and learned Member had read the Bill carefully, he would have seen much on the face of it which would have induced him to sug- gest to the House considerable caution before they allowed the measure to be read a second time. He would not trouble the House by again going over the ground which had been so well covered by his hon. Friend the Member for the county of Waterford (Mr. Delahunty). His (Sir Joseph M'Kenna's) own locus standi was simply that of a proprietor and ratepayer in the county, and therefore he did know something about the matter. A railway had already been constructed, called the Waterford, Dungarvan, and Lismore Railway, and it had a capital of £280,000, with borrowing powers to the extent of £93,000. The mode in which the original Act had been carried out had already been described, and it was unnecessary that he should dwell upon it further. He would confine his remarks, therefore, to the present Bill. What was this supplementary Bill to do? He admitted, that on the face of it, it did not charge the county with any subsidy for the purpose of paying interest or dividend; but it authorized the Waterford, Dungarvan, and Lismore Railway Company to extend their line from their present terminus into a new terminal station at Waterford, and to carry out other objects. That was to say, that it was a Bill to constitute a new Company and a new set of proprietors, who would take possession of the terminus of the line which had already been carried out by the money of the ratepayers of the county, and without which the new stations, and other things proposed by the Bill, would be of little value. He regarded it as one of the cleverest feats of railway legislation that had ever been suggested. The Bill had already passed the Upper House; but he doubted whether the House of Lords or the Committee had heard the reasons which had been adduced that day for objecting to the Bill. It was virtually a Bill to create another and a separate and hostile interest to the general interest of the ratepayers of the county. It was, indeed, a Bill to give possession of the line to a new set of proprietors, and to give them rights with respect to charges over a particular portion of the line, no matter how far the general traffic. They could put on such terminus charges as would strangle all possibilities of the recovery of the main line. Such a principle as this had never been recog- nized by he House. What would have been said to any projector who, having already got the money for the purpose of making a main line from one part of the Kingdom to another, who afterwards constituted a new Company to own the terminus, and which was under no terms whatever to the old Company, or which would have the command of a bridge like the Victoria Bridge, and which could strangle the traffic if it thought fit to do so? Never had there been brought forward a Bill which had so much upon the face of it to warn the House against granting these rights to the directors. They had constructed a great line, and had asked for a security and guarantee for the capital; but now, when they had to deal with a portion of the line which could scarcely pay a farthing if it stood alone, they said they did not want any security. No! what they wanted was power over the whole line. They wanted to possess the power to strangle and to mulct the traffic if necessary. This was a measure which ought to be rejected without a division. In conclusion, he might state that, as a ratepayer and proprietor, he had a perfect knowledge of the circumstances of the county, having devoted a great deal of attention to the subject.


entirely agreed with the hon. Gentlemen who thought that Ireland derived great benefits from the system of guarantees. He was one of those who had always advocated the principle; but it was a long time before they succeeded in passing a measure which enabled many parts of Ireland to obtain railways, which otherwise would not have been constructed. But the present was a very different question. It appeared to him that the ratepayers of the county of Waterford—with which, by-the-bye, he had no connection—had been deceived. Faith had not been kept by the promoters of the Bill; and, consequently, this House had now a right to interfere in order to insist that they should fulfil their contract with the ratepayers before the House would enable them to get further powers. He thought the statement made by his hon. Friend the Member for the county of Waterford (Mr. Delahunty) was true; and really some person who was interested in this question, and who knew something of the facts, ought to get up and give some explanation of the conduct of the Grand Jury of the county of Waterford. In the case of a railway in which he was formerly concerned, the baronies through which the line ran took the precaution to have the directors' names inserted in the Act of Parliament, with a view to protecting the ratepayers against unnecessary expenditure. It was to be regretted, he thought, that a similar step had not been taken in the present instance. In order to protect the ratepayers, a provision was inserted in the original Act of Parliament, to the effect that the city Grand Jury should appoint four directors of the Company, and that the county Grand Jury should appoint eight. The city Grand Jury appointed directors; but the county Grand Jury refused to do so. The ratepayers of the county had entered into the most foolish arrangement he ever heard of. The county was to pay the capital of the railway and the interest on it, while the makers of the railway were to become the owners of the railway. The capital being £280,000, they were allowed to raise £93,000 by debentures; and the county of Waterford agreed to pay £14,000 a-year for five years under the Act of Parliament. He never heard of such a thing before. He never heard of a guarantee line coming into operation before it was open to traffic. If the ratepayers of the county of Waterford had no locus standi before the Select Committee, there was no tribunal to which they could appeal except the House of Commons; and, in his judgment, it was the duty of that House to protect the ratepayers, who had not been able to protect themselves. They had done a most foolish thing in mortgaging the property of the county to the promoters of the railway, who might be mere speculators; and the House ought to protect the ratepayers against anything like a further mortgage of their property. If an arrangement were entered into for the working of the line by another Company, that other Company would be able to do what it liked; because there were manipulations of these matters among Railway Companies that most hon. Members did not understand. The question had been brought before that House because the Select Committee, perhaps, did not clearly see the bearing of what was now de- manded and how the ratepayers had suffered. If ever there was a case in which the House ought to intervene between the act of a Select Committee and the parties interested, it was the present case.


remarked, that in the course of this discussion a great deal had been said, which was very well worthy of consideration, as bearing upon the general question of Grand Jury guarantees in relation to Irish railways. No doubt that was a policy which called at all times for careful examination, and which was open to much question. The hon. Member for Roscommon (the O'Conor Don), in seconding the Motion for the rejection of the Bill, called attention to the share he had taken in dealing with this matter by the Standing Order which was enacted in 1874, and which required a popular assent in addition to the authority of the Grand Jury, before any subvention could be granted to any particular railway. But although there was, doubtless, a great deal to be said upon that subject which would always receive from the House the most respectful consideration, he wished to point out that that was rather a question beside that raised by the present Bill. The arguments advanced by the hon. Member for the county of Cork (Mr. M'Carthy Downing), and the hon. Member for Youghal (Sir Joseph M'Kenna), would have been more appropriate if they had been delivered in the year 1872, when the original Bill was before the House. He agreed with the hon. Member for the county of Cork, that for the county and city of Waterford to mortgage their rates to so large an amount was a somewhat extraordinary proceeding on their part; but, still, that was a matter which might have been more fitly debated when the House had before it the original Bill relating to the guarantees. The history of the legislation in regard to this railway was practically as follows:—In 1872 an Act of Parliament was passed, by which the railway was, in the first instance authorized, and this guarantee called into existence. The hon. Member for the county of Waterford (Mr. Delahunty) alleged that the consent of the Grand Juries of the city and county of Waterford to that measure was obtained by representations made to them that they would have a powerful voice in the administration of the railway, and that those representations were not embodied in the Act of 1872. Well, in 1873, a further Bill was introduced into the House, and it also became law. Owing to the action of the Chairman of Committees in the other House of Parliament, this second measure contained a Proviso to the effect, that at the Assizes next after the passing of the Act, it should be lawful for the Grand Juries of the city and county of Waterford respectively to nominate, if they thought proper so to do, 12 persons to be duly qualified directors of the Company in the place of the then existing directors. Of these 12 new directors, eight were to be nominated by the county and four by the city of Waterford. The House would perceive that this Proviso made it lawful, but not obligatory, for the Grand Juries of the county and city to appoint these directors; and it also provided that they should only take that step if they thought proper to do so. It was, therefore, a doubly optional course on the part of each Grand Jury. Immediately after the Royal Assent had been given to the Bill, the Grand Jury of the city of Waterford nominated four directors. They likewise invited the co-operation of the county; but the county decided not to exercise their optional power, and not to nominate the eight directors whom they were entitled to appoint. The four directors nominated by the Grand Jury of the city were Mr. Bennett, Mr. White, Mr. Garth, and the hon. Gentleman who was now one of the Members for the county of Waterford. Three of them were still directors of the Company, and the only new director whom the city of Waterford proposed to appoint was the gentleman who now opposed this Bill. As he had already observed, the county Grand Jury refused to co-operate with that of the city. He thought, however, it would be clearly seen by the House that at the present moment the result was nearly arrived at which would have been attained if the Proviso had been acted upon. Seven members of the County Grand Jury were also directors of the Company; and almost the only difference would have been that the hon. Member for the county of Waterford would have been a director, whereas he was not one at the present time. The hon. Member was doubtless very popular in the county, and any matter he might bring before it was sure to be warmly taken up. In- deed, he thought the representation of the ratepayers had been made, in a great measure, in consequence of the hon. Gentleman's popularity in the county. Well, the county having refused to nominate directors the Company still remained in the hands of the directors, who were orginally appointed by the shareholders. What was the share of the contribution to this railway as between the city and the county? Yesterday he was enabled to see the valuation rolls of the baronies affected by this Bill and by the Act of 1872, and also the valuation roll of the city of Waterford; and he found that the city would only be liable to some ninth or tenth part of the amount for which the Grand Jury of the county would be liable. The Grand Jury of the county of Waterford consisted of landowners, whose interests were bound up with those, he supposed, of the ratepayers.


said, everyone who knew anything about Ireland was aware that the Grand Jurors, as Grand Jurors, did not pay a shilling of the rates.


said, he wished to disentangle from the arguments which had been used in this discussion the point about the guarantees. The House would be carried away by a false impression if they thought that by passing this Bill they were dealing with the rights of the Company as regarded the guarantee. If the House should refuse to pass the present Bill the county would have to pay the subsidy of £14,000 just the same. The guarantee really had nothing to do with the matter. The directors asked for running powers, because they believed they would thus improve the value of the property. Never since he held his present position had he known an opposition which was more beside the mark in dealing with a particular question. He would now say a few words in regard to the locus standi. Of course, he could not anticipate the judgment of the Court of Referees in this matter; but it should be borne in mind that the question had been already argued before the Committee of the House of Lords. Each Committee of the House of Lords was its own authority as regarded locus standi. They had no Court of Referees; but the reports of the decisions of the Referees were constantly quoted before Committees of the House of Lords, and he believed it was on the report of a case which occurred in the Commons that they decided to admit the locus standi of the parties in this particular case. It was fair to assume, therefore, that the Committee of the House of Commons would pay the same regard to the precedent. In conclusion, he expressed his opinion that this House would make a great mistake if it rejected the second reading of the Bill.


thought the question before the House was one of considerable difficulty. They had to select their course between the necessity of reading the Bill a second time, and relieving the ratepayers of the county of Waterford. If anything unpleasant had occurred it had been the result of the conduct of the Grand Jury of the county which, like all Grand Juries in Ireland, was not a representative body. Its members did not pay the rates on this guarantee; and when the opportunity was offered to them they would not even accept the proposal that they should become directors of the railway in order to protect the ratepayers. It had been stated that the profits arising from the extension line would be applied for the Company solely, and without any reference to the guarantee or any protection of the ratepayers of the county of Waterford. Even the promoters had denied the locus standi of the ratepayers before the Committee, although they wanted to get possession of the railway made by their money. If protection could not be afforded to the ratepayers, he thought, in the circumstances, that the second reading of the Bill ought not to pass, and that time ought to be given for the purpose of enabling the promoters to introduce such clauses as would protect the ratepayers under the guarantee formerly given, or that the locus standi of the ratepayers should be admitted for the purpose of introducing such clauses.


maintained that the ratepayers were by this Bill fully protected. The 8th clause provided that no further demand was to be made on the ratepayers of the county of Waterford. The original capital of the old Company was £280,000. A guarantee was given for the payment of interest and dividend upon that sum at the rate of 5 per cent. More money was required for the purpose of finishing the railway to Waterford. How was that money obtained? He could inform the House that it was obtained by the munificence of the Duke of Devonshire, who had advanced no less a sum than £80,000 to complete the railway. But the sum of £35,000 was required in order to finish the new extension. This £35,000 could be obtained in the usual manner; and he had the most perfect authority for stating that not a shilling should be demanded from the ratepayers any more. They would, of course, be liable to the 5 per cent on the £280,000, but not on the £35,000 which was now to be raised. He wished to draw the attention of the House to the argument which had been made use of in regard to guarantees on railways. It was true there were no guarantees on railways in England, but there were guarantees on tramways. There were no less than 20 miles of tramways in the City of Manchester, and if they did not pay the ratepayers would be saddled with the interest on them. Consequently, it was hardly competent for the hon. Member for Roscommon (the O'Conor Don) to say that there were no guarantees in England upon railways, for, after all, a tramway was neither more nor less than a railway. Again, he was in favour of this railway because it would open the resources of the country. They ought to take a broad view of the question, and he sincerely hoped this House would allow the Bill to be read a second time.


was disposed to think that a guarantee might, under certain conditions, be proper; but, at the same time, it should be carefully guarded, and the ratepayers ought to have an opportunity of expressing their opinion on the subject. In this particular case no expression of opinion had been given in favour of the scheme of 1873. Meetings were held, and the ratepayers were led to believe that they would have the full ownership of the railway if they guaranteed the expense of making it; but the promoters of the Acts of 1872 and 1873 manipulated the Bills so, that any surplus profits which might arise beyond the amount of the guarantee would go into their own pockets. The promoters did not, in the slightest degree, represent the ratepayers either of the city or the county of Waterford. They now made an application for fresh powers, which amounted to a power to manipulate the total income of the present railway in such a manner, that it would find its way into their own pockets. In spite of what had been said, he maintained that this new project did amount to a guarantee. He thought the ratepayers of the county of Waterford ought to have an opportunity of expressing their opinion before the Bill was passed through this House. It was, he believed, an established rule, that no guarantee was ever given in a case where any material number of the ratepayers were opposed to it. In this case, however, there was the strongest evidence that the ratepayers did object to it. The hon. Member for the county of Waterford (Mr. Delahunty) had told the House distinctly that his constituents were strongly opposed to the present Bill. For this reason, he thought the House would do well to put a stop to this attempt to saddle the ratepayers with a further liability. They had been told that the Grand Jury represented the ratepayers of a county. This was not the fact. They really represented the sub-Sheriff of the county, who appointed whom he pleased. The hon. Member for the county of Waterford, and not the gentlemen who were gathered together as the nominees of the sub-Sheriff, really represented the feelings of the ratepayers. The Grand Jury did not even represent the largest ratepayers of the county, for many of its members, he was informed, were very small ratepayers. It had been urged that the persons who opposed this Bill might go before a Select Committee of this House, and state their objections there. This was equivalent to saying that these gentlemen ought to incur a heavy expense out of their own pockets in fighting persons who were spending, not their own money, but the money of the ratepayers.


had a proposal to make to the Government. He did not wish to go into the general question as to the desirability of allowing Grand Juries or other local authorities to burden the ratepayers with charges as they had done in the present case, although it would necessarily have some influence on the House, when they saw that this charge of £280,000 was placed on the four baronies in the county of Waterford under what, practically, amounted to false pretences. He wished to show, very briefly, that the ratepayers of the county of Waterford were really entitled to every consideration from that House, entirely apart from the question as to whether the Grand Jury Laws were beneficial or the reverse. The hon. Gentleman the Chairman of Committees had argued as if this was not a question which in any way affected the ratepayers. It had been pointed out by the hon. Gentleman that the ratepayers were liable for this guarantee of £280,000 and the interest upon it at 5 per cent; and he argued from that, that the ratepayers had no further interest in the proceedings of the Company, and in the matter of the proposed extension, because no further guarantee was to be placed upon them. This line, 43 miles in length, from Dungarvan to Waterford, had been constructed with the money of the ratepayers, who would continue to pay interest on the money which was borrowed in the first instance. The line was still in an unfinished condition, and it was proposed by this Bill to add to it a short connecting link. The House would, therefore, see that the interest of the ratepayers remained unimpaired and undiminished as regarded the Bill. What had been the course adopted by the promoters? Foreseeing what would be the consequence if they gave the ratepayers any opportunity of obtaining a locus standi before a Select Committee of this House, they adopted the very unusual course of framing the Bill in such a way as to endeavour to prevent the ratepayers from having any locus standi in the proceedings before the Committee. Now, entirely apart from the question of the Grand Jury laws, he asked whether it was right or wrong originally to put a charge of £280,000 on these four baronies? And, apart from the consideration as to whether the ratepayers had obtained a benefit from the imposition of this charge, he would ask the House whether it was reasonable or just that the persons whose money had made this line should be shut out by technical objections from all the proceedings before the Committee appointed to consider the question of its extension? He submitted that no reasonable person could help saying that facilities ought to be given to the ratepayers, so as to enable them to appear before the Committee and state their objections to the scheme. The promoters, however, in- stead of seeking to give to the ratepayers, whose property they had wrongfully taken away, an opportunity of appearing before the Committee, had taken advantage of technical objections, so as to exclude the ratepayers from a locus standi. In these circumstances, it would be very fair if the House were, by assenting to adjourn the debate, to signify its desire that this opposition to the locus standi of the ratepayers should cease. With that object he had risen, not to prolong the debate, but to move its adjournment, until the promoters of this extension could consider whether they would not agree to withdraw their technical objection to the locus standi of the ratepayers, who had spent £280,000 in making this line. In conclusion, the hon. Member begged to move the adjournment of the debate.


in seconding the Motion for adjournment, said, the difficulty in this case arose from the circumstance that the ratepayers of the county of Waterford felt themselves aggrieved by the conduct of these very men in dealing with another portion of the line now in existence. They sought to be heard before the Committee of this House, and to state their objections to the proposed extension; but they were met by a technical objection which was raised by the promoters. If the House would only remove those technical objections, this Bill would not be further opposed.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Parnell.)


supported the Motion for the adjournment of the debate, and took this opportunity of protesting against a statement made by the hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar), who said that the Grand Juries were summoned by the sub-Sheriff. Now, this was certainly not always the case. In his own county, for example, the High Sheriff was very jealous of the privilege, and always summoned the Grand Jury himself.


thought the proposal of the hon. Member for Meath (Mr. Parnell) was the real way of meeting this difficulty. He could say now, with responsibility, that if the hon. Member for the county of Waterford (Mr. Delahunty) withdrew his Motion, all objection to the locus standi of those whom he represented would be withdrawn by the promoters of the Bill. The opponents of the measure would have a full opportunity of being heard before the Committee of the House of Commons, as they had been heard already before the Committee of the House of Lords.


considered that the debate had been thoroughly thrashed out. The arguments used by the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. M'Carthy Downing) showed clearly what the popular feeling was. For his part, he objected strongly to the Bill; indeed, good reason had been shown why the Bill should not be passed. It had been said that the money was to be raised in the way of guarantee, and that was what the ratepayers were objecting to.


explained, that in moving the Motion for the adjournment of the debate he had done so merely that the promoters of the Bill might have an opportunity of saying whether they would give the ratepayers a locus standi. He had been informed that the promoters would give them the locus standi; and, therefore, he should withdraw his Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.


wished to say but one word. A strong appeal had been made on the ground that the question of guarantee would not be affected. He wished to point out that the guarantee question was affected; because the Bill, as introduced, proposed to give to the Company power to enter into an arrangement with other Companies for working the extension. Every director of a railway knew perfectly well that, under such powers, the receipts of a line under such an arrangement would go to the credit of the Company, and not to the relief of taxation. They might be, in fact, absorbed in the payment of the Company. That affected the guarantee in a substantial way; and if the Bill was passed, the ratepayers would be seriously injured.


was extremely sorry to stand in the way of a division. He wished to say that he had something to do with the Bill in 1872, and he considered it was not merely an Irish question after all. When the Bill was first mooted it was brought in by a Company who had obtained the consent of the Grand Jury, virtually a self-appointed body. The Bill was really one of speculation. It was a question of—"Heads I win, tails you lose." What would be said if a Railway Company offered to make a line through any county in England, and then got the consent of a Grand Jury to guarantee 5 per cent, to be paid by the ratepayers? Why, the idea would be scouted; and he wanted to know why Parliament should force upon the Irish people a taxation which they would not think of imposing upon the people of this country?


thought the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Muntz) had spoken under some misapprehension. The objection he had urged might be all very well against a system of guarantee, and against the Bill as it passed in 1873. Under the present Bill, it was expressly provided that no additional liability should fall upon the ratepayers. The locus standi of the ratepayers was accordingly opposed, and it was feared the ratepayers might be injured. He understood, however, that the promoters of the Bill had agreed to withdraw that opposition. Some of the opponents of the Bill were satisfied with the assurance thus given to the ratepayers, who would have an opportunity of offering any further objections they might have in Committee.


said, the objection urged was that there would be no locus standi for the ratepayers before the Committee. That, however, was not the only objection. He was by no means certain that, even if a locus standi were given, all the objections would be removed. The Bill was to enable the directors of a railway, who had broken their trust with the ratepayers of the county of Waterford, to get possession, by an outlay of £35,000, of the terminus of a railway which they had deluded the ratepayers to guarantee. They were trusting to the Bill to give them powers to enter into a new arrangement for the working of both lines; and everybody knew very well that would be the means of throwing over the main interest in favour of the terminal stock, and leaving in the cold those proprietors and ratepayers of the county who had guaranteed the dividends on the main line. He hoped his hon. Friend would divide the House.


said, he could not understand why the ratepayers of Waterford should have this Bill thrust upon them, and he would, therefore, divide the House on his Motion. One thing he would say, and it was this—that the hon. and gallant Member for the city of Waterford (Major O'Gorman) was thoroughly mistaken in saying that the Bill would merely affect the paying of 5 per cent upon £35,000. That would be nothing to the injury which the ratepayers would sustain in the Company obtaining working traffic and running powers with other Companies, so as to make arrangements through which the net earnings of the line would be sure to be diverted from benefiting the ratepayers. It must be remembered that the Company were getting 5 per cent from the ratepayers on the estimated cost of construction, and it was the fault of the promoters that it required £100,000 to finish the line. The hon. and gallant Gentleman knew nothing about it. He (Mr. Delahunty) would fight the Bill stage by stage, and take a division whenever it was necessary.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 222; Noes 76: Majority 146.—(Div. List, No. 140.)

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read a second time, and committed.