§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
hoped that the House would allow the second reading of this Bill to be taken, as the effect of it, if passed, would be to save a very considerable amount of money to the Government of India. His hon. Friend the Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) had proposed certain Amendments with reference to this Bill, and he hoped that they would be able to meet his views when they went into Committee. He should take an opportunity of informing the hon. Member of the Amendments which he desired to propose. The object of the Bill was to enable the Governor General of India to hand over any State Railways to be worked by the Guaranteed Railway Companies, and also to make arrangements as to telegraphs. As was well known, some of the State Railways of India had been constructed as feeders, and were an advantage not only to the State, but to the 1545 Guaranteed Companies, of which they formed small branches. It was now found that there would be a great saving of expense if these small branch railways were worked by the Guaranteed Companies in connection with their larger systems. This could only be done by the means proposed by this Bill.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Edward Stanhope.)
§ MR. FAWCETT
wished to explain to the House the reasons for his withdrawal of his Amendment to this Bill. It was his feeling that this Bill, which was one of very great importance, ought to be brought forward at a time when it could be properly discussed, and, under the circumstances, he had thought it desirable to raise a debate upon the second reading. This was an illustration of the unusual difficulties in which they had been placed that Session in the conduct of Public Business; and such a state of things not only called upon the Government, but upon every private Member, not to deprive Parliament of its legislative rights. He did not blame the Government for the position of this Bill —it had been before the House for some time, and the Under Secretary had made every endeavour to bring it forward, but without success. He felt himself therefore, in this position—that if he continued his opposition to the Bill there was, practically, no chance of the Bill passing that Session. He felt that the Bill was one which required careful consideration, and, at the same time, was one which he did not like to incur the responsibility of stopping altogether. The Bill had come down to them from the House of Lords, and they were told that the House of Lords had not so much time as they had—yet there were men in the House of Lords who had peculiar experience in Indian matters; but still that Bill had passed through all its stages in the House of Lords without a single syllable of discussion taking place upon it or a single Amendment being introduced. The Under Secretary had told them what the object of the Bill was; but the words of the Bill went far beyond what the Under Secretary had admitted to be the object of the Bill. The hon. Gentleman had promised, however, to introduce Amendments into the 1546 Bill in its passage through Committee; and he felt, therefore, that it was important that those Amendments should be placed on the Paper in order that hon. Members might judge in what way they would meet the objections that had been made. Ho had, therefore, agreed to adopt the course suggested by the hon. Gentleman the Tinder Secretary, and consented to withdraw his opposition to the second reading—although lie felt that it was an inconvenient course not to have a discussion upon the second reading; yet if he persisted in his objection the Bill could not pass that Session. In consenting to the second reading, he hoped that the Under Secretary would understand that he reserved to himself the absolute right of opposing the Bill at the next stage if the Amendments which were to be proposed by the Government were not, in his opinion, sufficient to meet what he considered to be the reasonable objections that might be urged against the Bill. Ho trusted that the House would think that, in acting as he had done, he had adopted a fair and a reasonable course. He should offer no opposition to the second reading of the Bill, on the understanding that the Committee was not fixed at an earlier date than Monday.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time, and committed for Monday next.