HC Deb 05 March 1885 vol 295 cc116-7

asked the Chairman of Ways and Means, Whether he has had under his consideration the Bills promoted by nine of the principal Railway Companies, proposing important changes in the incidence of Railway Bates, which are exciting public attention throughout the Country; and, whether he will, in concert with the promoters and opponents of these Bills, fix a day, as soon as practicable, when these important Bills may be fully discussed on Second Reading?


The Bills to which the hon. Gentleman refers have been brought to my notice here, and I have received several communications relating to them which show the great interest and importance attached to them elsewhere. The practice of the House with regard to such Bills is as follows:—When Bills promoted by a Company already constituted by Act of Parliament have been read a first time they are referred to the Examiners, under Standing Order 62, who report to the House that the requirements of the Standing Order relating to the Wharncliffe meeting have been complied with or otherwise. In the event of non-compliance, the question is referred to the Committee on Standing Orders. Under Standing Order 204, the Bill must be read a second time not later than seven clear days after the Report of the Examiner or of the Committee on Standing Orders, as the case may be. There is, however, no rule fixing the time for the Examiner to hold his inquiry, and, in fact, it depends entirely on the notice he receives from the promoters requesting him to hold it. Under these circumstances, it is not in my power to suggest any day for the second reading of these Bills; but I am of opinion that it is very desirable they should all be discussed together, in order to save the time of the House. The same principle, practically, is involved, and the judgment of the House would, I apprehend, govern the others. There is no doubt that the importance of these Bills requires that ample Notice should be given of the time fixed or their discussion, and I will communicate with the agents for the Bills with a view to insure this being done.