§ Bill, as amended, considered.
§ MR. BIGGAR
proposed the omission from Schedule 6 of the Athy and Kildare line. He said it would be within the knowledge of some hon. Members present that the other tramways mentioned in the Schedule were in the county of Cork, and that it was by the Members for the county of Cork that the Bill was brought in. To the part of the Bill which related to County Cork he raised no objection, for the simple reason that it was certified by the Members for County Cork that it was desirable that that part of the Schedule should remain unchanged. The case, however, was very different as to the Athy and Kildare line. The proposed line would touch three counties—namely Kildare, Kilkenny, and Queen's County. He was informed that the parts of the country which would be benefited by the proposed tramway would be the two ends of the line, which would be in Kilkenny and Kildare. His hon,. Friend the Member for Kildare (Mr. Meldon) 1998 was anxious that he (Mr. Biggar) should raise no objection, to the part of the scheme which affected Kildare, and personally he had no objection to the scheme. At the same time, he was not disposed to be guided by his own opinion, and therefore he telegraphed to the senior Member for Queen's County (Mr. Lalor), because that county was concerned in three-fifths of the project. His hon. Friend (Mr. Lalor) was born in the county, he knew its requirements thoroughly, and therefore his opinion, upon the scheme was of great value. The hon. Member objected entirely to the guarantee proposed, and replied to his (Mr. Biggar's) telegram—" You are quite right about the tramway. Go against it." He therefore begged to move the omission from, the Schedule of "Tramway No. 6."
§ Amendment proposed, in Schedule 6, to leave out the words "a Tramway and Light Railway from Athy (County Kildare) to Crettyard Bridge (Queen's County)."—(Mr. Biggar.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Schedule."
§ MR. MELDON
said, he would like to understand the question which the hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar) wished to raise on the present occasion. Under the Tramways Act of last Session a certain number of lines passed the Grand Juries, and obtained the Grand Juries' guarantee. When the presentments came before the Privy Council to be confirmed, it was held by the Privy Council that the amount of the capital of the Companies should have been specified, and that in the absence of such specification they had no power to confirm the presentment. A General Bill was then introduced into the House of Commons in order to correct the technical error which had been made, to give power, in fact, to Grand Juries at the next Assizes, if they thought fit to exercise it, to insert in the presentment the words which were accidentally omitted. The Bill would afford relief to all the Companies, who had expended their money and obtained the sanction of the Grand Juries; and he did not know that anyone in the country objected to it but the hon. Member for Cavan, who for some reason or other blocked the Bill, and made it a sine quâ non of taking off the block that the Companies to be relieved should 1999 have their names inserted in the Schedule. That was accordingly done, and when the Bill came on for Committee the hon. Member for Cavan assented to all the names.
§ MR. MELDON
said, that at all events the Schedule appeared on the Notice Paper for several days, the Bill came on for Committee, and in his (Mr. Meldon's) presence the Schedule, which included the name of the Company in question, was passed without comment from the hon. Member for Cavan. Unfortunately for the Company, the hon. Member for Cavan discovered that he (Mr. Meldon) was in some way or other interested in it; and he therefore made up his made to do everything he possibly could to injure the interests of the shareholders, because of his (Mr. Meldon's) personal action.
§ MR. SPEAKER
It would be imputing motives which I am sure the hon. Gentleman would not wish to impute.
§ MR. MELDON
said, he would withdraw the words he had used; but the fact remained that the circumstances of the case of the Company the hon. Member wished to exclude from the Bill were identical with those in the case of the Companies which he was prepared to include in the Bill. Was it to be supposed that relief should be given to four or five Companies, and that a Company exactly similarly circumstanced should be excluded from relief? Certainly no reason had been adduced why the House should make an exception of one Company, The lines traversed some portion of Queen's County and Kildare, they were passed by the Grand Jury unanimously, and he believed they had the support of a great majority of the ratepayers of the two counties. It was perfectly open, to any ratepayer to object before the Grand Jury to the amendment in the presentment being made. The hon. Member for Cavan referred to the action of the senior Member for the Queen's County (Mr. Lalor), who was not very constant in his attendance at the House—he did not see the hon. Gentleman present that night. The 2000 hon. Member for Cavan read a telegram he had received from the hon. Member for Queen's County. When he (Mr. Meldon) heard that the hon. Member for Cavan intended to press his opposition to the Athy and Kildare line, he (Mr. Meldon) had the hon. Member for Queen's County (Mr. Lalor), who was now in Ireland, communicated with. The gentleman who waited upon the hon. Gentleman telegraphed—Saw Lalor. Won't consent. Showed me a telegram from Biggar to oppose, and he replied he would. Said O'Connor would be neutral, but would be guided by him.This telegram was sufficient to show the nature of the opposition raised to the line in question. He (Mr. Moldon) did not think the House would consent to inflict a penalty of several hundred pounds upon the shareholders of a Company simply because the hon. Member for Cavan wished it.
§ MR. LEAHY
regretted that the hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar) had seen fit to oppose the inclusion of the Athy and Kildare line in the Bill. When the line was before the Grand Jury the ratepayers of Queen's County and Kildare petitioned in favour of it; in point of fact, there was not one opponent of the scheme to be found amongst the people of the district it affected. It would be a misfortune to the district if the tramway did not proceed, because the line would unquestionably be a means of developing the coal trade of Queen's County. He trusted his hon. Friend would withdraw his opposition.
§ MR. HEALY
pointed out to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Kildare (Mr. Meldon), who made reference to the fact that the hon. Member for Queen's County (Mr. Lalor) was not a regular attendant of the House, that he (Mr. Meldon) himself was not a diligent attendant. Had he been so he would have known that the hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar) took off his block to all the previous stages of the Bill simply because there was an agreement between the hon. and gallant Member for Cork County (Colonel Colthurst) and himself (Mr. Biggar) that the Bill was to be confined to Cork County. Of course, a Bill of this kind had no chance of passing unless it was assented to by hon. Members generally. The hon. Member for Cavan was, totally opposed, as, indeed, he (Mr. Healy) was, to the Tramways Act, and as it had turned out 2001 he was perfectly right. It had been found that a more absurd Act was never passed. The Privy Council could not understand it, and it never could be worked. The hon. and gallant Member for Cork County (Colonel Colthurst) obtained the assent of the two hon. Members for the City of Cork (Messrs. Parnell and Deasy) to the Bill; in fact, their names appeared on the back of it. He (Mr. Healy) was asked by the Skibbereen Board of Guardians to oppose the Bill; but he did not oppose it, as he was inclined to do, because he felt that the promoters of the Bill were ratepayers in the district, and knew the requirements of the district. It was very easy to fling motives across the House. He might ask the hon. Member for Kildare (Mr. Meldon) if he was a Director of 14 Tramway Companies; he might ask him what fees he got for the promotion of tramways? It must be remembered that if the hon. Member for Cavan had not withdrawn his block, the Bill would never have reached its present stage. When the block was removed, the hon. Member for Kildare saw his chance to spring on his Amendment, and he rushed over from Dublin, where he spent most of his time. He was sure that if his hon. Friend (Mr. Biggar) had ever supposed the Bill would have a general application, he would never have consented to withdraw his block. The hon. Member for Cavan and the hon. and gallant Member for Cork County met one another in the fairest possible way, the latter promising that he would never consent to the insertion of an Amendment which was contrary to the agreement the two had arrived at. He (Mr. Healy) held that the faith of the agreement had been broken by the inclusion of the Athy and Kildare line; and therefore he begged to move that the debate be now adjourned.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned." —(Mr. Healy.)
§ COLONEL COLTHURST
asked the indulgence of the House while he made a few remarks in the way of personal explanation. When the Bill was intro- 2002 duced by his hon. Friend and Colleague (Mr. Shaw) and himself, the hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar) objected to it as a General Bill. His hon. Friend and Colleague showed him the Schedule in which there were only mentioned five tramways in County Cork. At that time the promoters of the Bill were not aware of the existence of the Athy and Kildare line; but he was bound to say that his understanding—it might be an erroneous one—of the arrangement between his hon. Friend and Colleague and the hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar) was that they were at liberty to add such tramways as were similarly circumstanced to those already inserted, provided that the names of them were mentioned in the Schedule and submitted to the hon. Member for Cavan. When, therefore, his hon. Friend the Member for Kildare (Mr. Meldon) wrote to him. (Colonel Colthurst) acquainting him with the circumstances of the Athy and Kildare line, he considered himself justified in putting it in the Schedule. It remained in the Schedule for four or five days without any Notice of opposition being given; but on the day the Bill was down for Committee, he found it was blocked. The hon. Member for Cavan told him he would not remove the block, unless the Athy and Kildare tramway were omitted. He (Colonel Colthurst) was obliged to say that if, on Report, the objection remained the same, he would not object, nor did he now object, to hold himself bound by the agreement, however unreasonable he might consider it. He did not object to the omission of the tramway in question.
§ MR. BIGGAR
, said, he did not wish to kill the Bill; but he should support the Motion for Adjournment.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 9; Noes 37: Majority 28. —(Div. List, No. 152.)
§ Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members not being present,
§ House adjourned at half after Two o'clock.