HC Deb 02 August 1887 vol 318 cc883-910

Order for Third Reading read.

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

DR. KENNY (Cork, S.)

I do not intend to detain the House for any length of time; but I have a Motion on the Paper for the re-committal of this Bill to the former Committee in order to more— That it be an Instruction to the Committee, That they do inquire and report whether it would not be for the benefit and advantage of the citizens of Dublin and the public generally that the line should be made on the eastern side of the Custom House instead of on the western side, as specified in the Act. We are not without a precedent for this course, because the same process of recommitment was resorted to in the case of the Manchester Ship Canal Bill, when the promoters came before the House with a supplementary measure to enable them to alter their financial arrangements and security. We have, therefore, a very remarkable precedent in our favour, and we do not ask for the recommittal of the Bill, except for the reasons we have set down in the Motion. In regard to the question of carrying the undertaking on the eastern side of the Custom House rather than the western side, as is now contemplated by the promoters, the citizens of Dublin believe that the original scheme of the promoters is only persisted in from obstinacy and a false idea of economy. They believe that if they follow the route they have set down in their original Bill, they will be able to save several thousands of pounds in the execution of the works; but in order to do that they will have to carry the line over one of the most valuable open spaces in Dublin—namely, Beresford Place. If they are to carry the line to the westward of the Custom House, they must of necessity obstruct, not only the beautiful view which the people of Dublin now enjoy of the Custom House, which is one of the most handsome buildings in the City, but the general public will have taken away from them one of the most valuable open spaces for purposes of recreation. I have no desire to contend that if the line is constructed carefully, the enjoyment of this open space by the citizens of Dublin will not be seriously interfered with. But I think it is somewhat extraordinary that at a moment when the people of Dubln are promoting a Bill for the preservation of open spaces, the House of Commons should be called upon to sanction a scheme which, if carried out, will destroy the most important open space now existing in Dublin. I trust that the House will take the same view as I do upon this point, and will even, for that reason alone, object to the mode in which it is proposed to carry out this line, or, at any rate, that they will compel the promoters to construct their line to the eastward of the Custom House in the way I have suggested. Leaving that objection I come now to a point on which a large majority of the citizens of Dublin feel very sore, and that is the aesthetic aspect of the question. We all desire the completion of the railway communication between the South and North of Ireland, but we think that it ought to be carried out without involving the destruction of the very few beauties which Dublin possesses. We all know that since the Union most of the beauties of the City of Dublin have been destroyed, and we are strongly of opinion that if this undertaking is carried out in the way the promoters propose the handsomest building now existing in Dublin will be irretrievably destroyed. There is an old saying that it is of no use to shut the stable door when the horse has been stolen. We are likely, however, to have a Home Rule Parliament for Ireland before long, and it would be unfortunate to call upon the new Parliament sitting in Dublin, the very first time they meet, to remedy the evils which this Parliament is now asked to perpetrate. Under the circumstances, it cannot be expected that the Irish Members will be prepared to sit down tamely and accept a wanton attack like this upon the beauty of their capital city. Every man who knows Dublin must be aware that if the line is carried out, as proposed, it will utterly destroy the only view which is now obtainable of the Custom House; and not only will that view be destroyed in one direction, but it will be destroyed from the northern aspect as well as the western aspect. The western aspect is one of great beauty, and everyone who knows the view in that direction will be ready to admit the necessity of preserving it. There is another objection which I desire to urge against the Bill, but I do not know whether I may not be out of Order in referring to it. I believe that in this Bill the promoters take no power whatever to keep alive their compulsory powers in connection with the construction of the line. The powers already conceded to them ex- pired on the 28th of last month, and I believe that one of the steps the promoters ought to have taken in order to keep those powers alive was to have served notices on all the occupiers of the land proposed to be taken, and also to appoint an arbitrator. They have, however, neither done the one nor the other, and I think that objection ought to be fatal to their Bill. I believe it has been held in other cases that the non-compliance with the Standing Orders of this House in a ease like that is fatal to any scheme. In this Bill the promoters take no such power, and I trust the House will not be prepared to give them any latitude whatever in a matter of this kind. If it is a case that they have not served notices on the occupiers, I hope the House will at once decide against the Bill, on the merits of the case in that respect alone. To show that the promoters of the Bill have full power to do what this direction of the Committee asks them to do, any hon. Member has only to look over the list of the names of the Directors of the three Companies promoting the scheme, and they will see at once that they have full power by agreement between themselves to carry out whatever this Bill may call upon them to do. The same gentlemen whose names appear as members of the Dublin, Wicklow, and Wexford Company are also members of the Port and Docks Board and the Great Northern of Ireland Railway Company. It is only the Great Northern Company which will derive any considerable benefit from this undertaking. All the rest of Ireland will be excluded from participating in that benefit. Anyone who looks at the provisions of the Bill, and who knows anything of Ireland, will see at once that the promoters do not accomplish what they profess to do, and that the line will not facilitate the traffic to any considerable extent, especially in regard to the transit of the mails to the South of Ireland. The promoters say that if this Bill is not carried the American mails will be lost to Queenstown. Now, this measure will afford very little relief. There is, however, another scheme before Parliament which will undoubtedly give considerable facilities. It is a Bill promoted by the Great Southern and Western Railway Company, who are the parties who will be principally benefited by any facilities which will be given in connection with the transit of the American mails, and who ought to be empowered to carry out any measure for facilitating the traffic. Their scheme would give an amount of benefit to the South of Ireland quite equal to that which the promoters of the present Bill propose to give to the North. In regard to the Instruction I have put upon the Paper I have shown that the same set of gentlemen form the three Companies who are promoting the Bill. They can, therefore, carry out this Instruction of their own Motion, if they are so minded. They say that there are engineering difficulties of an insuperable nature to the carrying out of my proposal—namely, that the line shall be taken to the east of the Custom House instead of the west. They allege that if they are compelled to do that the trains will run in on the up arrival platform of the Great Northern Railway. I should have thought that engineering ingenuity would have been able to get rid of any difficulty of that kind. If hon. Members will trace the course of this line on the map they must see that there can be no insuperable difficulty whatever in carrying the line to the westward of the Station of the Great Northern Railway. I do not pretend to be an engineer; but I think anyone can see, from a glance at the map, that what I say is the case, and that the facilities for running in the trains on one side of the Custom House are quite equal to those on the other, Certainly, the advantages which will be conferred on the Oily of Dublin will much more than counterbalance any engineering difficulties the promoters may experience. Perhaps one reason which operates in inducing the promoters to persist so obstinately in carrying their line in the way they propose is the fact that a great number of Government officials, high and mighty in their own estimation, who are employed at the Board of Works Office and in the Custom House, have their offices at the eastern end of this building, and they are afraid that this line may come between "the wind and their nobility." In the eyes of Parliament, however, that ought to be a very small matter, and in, conclusion, I will venture to move the Amendment which stands in my name, and I hope that it will receive the support of the House.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the words "now read the third time," in order to insert the word "re-committed."—(Dr. Kenny.)

Question proposed, "That the words 'now read the third time,' stand part of the Question."

MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)

I do not think that a stronger illustration can be given of the inconvenient way in which Irish measures are dealt with in this House than the history of the proceedings which have taken place in regard to this Bill. What is the history of this Bill? The Bill itself is only a Continuance Bill, or, rather, a Bill to give facilities for the borrowing of money. It was discussed some days ago at considerable length, and would then have been unanimously rejected by the House, if it had not been for a mistake on the part of the hon. Member who opposed it. Owing to a technicality the Bill was revived on a subsequent day, and two hours were taken up in the discussion of the measure. I watched with extreme interest the position which was taken, by English Members on that occasion, and it was certainly a most ludicrous sight. English Members did not know in which way they were to vote; they listened with bewilderment to the debate, which was almost confined to Irish Members; and until they heard the able speech of the hon. Member for the St. Stephen's Green Division of Dublin (Mr. Dwyer Gray) they were in a state of absolute uncertainty as to how they were to vote in the matter. Can a more preposterous way of conducting Private Bill legislation for the Irish people be conceived than that? I hold in my hands the Division List which decided the fate of the Bill the other day, and what do I find from that list? The consideration of the Bill was carried through this House by no less a majority than 102. But if hon. Members will turn to an analysis of the Irish votes, they will see that the Irish Members, including. Representatives of every Party in Ireland—Conservatives, Liberals, Unionists, and Nationalists—who voted against the Bill, numbered 34, while those who were in favour of it were 31. The English Members who swelled the Division List, and who manifestly could not have understood the merits of the case, carried the Bill by about 100 votes, Now, I maintain that that is a mode of conducting Private Business which, must lead to a great waste of time, and must destroy that control which the Irish Members ought to have over their own local affairs. I have looked into the proceedings which have taken place in regard to the Bill, and I find that on every occasion since the year 1884—when the scheme was first brought before Parliament—there has been a majority of Irish votes against the measure. In no single instance, when the Bill has been before the House, has there been a majority of Irish votes in favour of it. On the last occasion the figures gave a full and clear indication of the nature of the case. While it is true that on the whole votes of the Irish Representatives the majority against the Bill was only 34 to 31, there was a much larger minority of Nationalist votes, seeing that the numbers were 32 Nationalists against the Bill as compared with 22 in its favour. Among the votes in favour of the Bill which went to make up the minority of 31 will be found the names of. nine Conservative Members, including the Members for the University of Dublin, who can hardly be called Irish Members at all. That is the past history of the Bill as regards the Irish Representatives; and I take leave to say, without wishing to be in the least degree disrespectful or uncivil to an hon. Member for whom I have the highest respect—namely, the Chairman of Committees—that the course adopted by him on the last occasion was utterly unprecedented and most unfair. What did the hon. Member do? He actually made a strong speech in support of the Bill, and wound up by moving the closure, so that nobody should answer him. I never heard that done before. The principle has hitherto been for some Member of the Government to move the closure; but if the principle is to be introduced of some influential and important Member of the House first of all making a strong speech in favour of a Bill, and then moving the closure in order, to prevent anyone from answering him, the proceedings of this House will be reduced to an extraordinary position. I am of opinion that this debate would, in all probability, have been saved if the Chairman of Committees had abstained from moving the closure on the occasion to which I refer, and had allowed some Member to answer his speech. I will now say a few words on the general question of the merits of the Bill. I am opposed to the Bill for two or three strong reasons. In the first place, I object to the claim of the citizens of Belfast, or of any other part of Ireland, to come down to Dublin and utterly spoil the appearance of the city, unless very strong reasons can be shown for doing so. What right have the people of the North of Ireland to say that, in order to suit their convenience, they are to run a bridge across the River Liffey, in such a position as will shockingly disfigure the city, with the sole object of accommodating the traffic of Belfast and the North of Ireland, altogether ignoring the wishes and feelings of the citizens of Dublin in the matter? If it were true that this scheme is calculated to benefit the North of Ireland, I should be the last man in the world to oppose it; but I should even then claim at the hands of hon. Members from the North of Ireland that they should, in carrying out the scheme, consult, to some extent at least, the feelings of the citizens of Dublin, and not proceed ruthlessly, in a fashion worthy only of Goths and Vandals, to disfigure the city without the slightest necessity, for I believe I shall be able to convince the House in a few minutes that there is no necessity whatever for carrying out this line in the way proposed. That is my first proposition. In the next place, I maintain that no case whatever has been made out for this line. It is claimed on behalf of the promoters that it will shorten the transit of the mails, and in. that way facilitate the conveyance of the American mails between Kingstown and Cork. A more preposterous idea cannot be conceived; and I would undertake, by driving the mails along the ordinary route, to enable them to reach Cork sooner than by the proposed route. I am satisfied that the employment of fast horses would secure the conveyance of the mails quicker than this loop line. Therefore, this allegation on the part of the promoters as to affording facilities for the conveyance of the American mails has really nothing to do with the merits of the case. What, then, are the real objects to be served? This loop line is to cost £300,000, and, when made, not a single pound weight of goods or merchandize will over pass over it. There is no goods traffic whatever along the line; but what will go over it will be, on the average, during the summer months, some 30 or 40 tourists every day. Now, is it to be contended—for this is the contention of hon. Members who support the Bill—that in order to save 30 or 40 tourists, American or otherwise, the trouble of taking a cab, or of sleeping in a Dublin hotel, £300,000 are to be expended, and the beauty of the City of Dublin is to be ruthlessly destroyed? The line itself will never pay a dividend. I doubt if it will ever pay one shilling on the capital expended in constructing it, if, indeed, people can be found who are foolish and idiotic enough—although that is the case very often in all parts of the world—to advance the money. It will never pay a single shilling of interest upon the capital expended in making the line. If, under these circumstances, the promoters wish to construct a railway let them do so; but they ought to be prevented from doing so in a way that will be offensive to the citizens of Dublin, and destructive to the beauty of the locality through which it will pass. Let me add that, in addition to the destruction of a handsome building which is highly valued by the citizens of Dublin, the line will monopolize one of the finest open spaces which are now available for the recreation of the citizens. Their real reason for taking this open space is that, under their Act of Parliament, they are able to obtain possession of the land a great deal cheaper than if they were called upon to pay compensation for taking possession of private property. Then, I say that this line is not required for the purposes of trade. It cannot be of any use at all from a trade point of view; and I further contend that it can be of no use in facilitating the transit of the American mails. The only case that can be made for it is that it will be convenient for a limited number of tourists, and will save them the trouble of paying a Dublin cabman for taking them across the city. I say it is most monstrous that, for the convenience of a few traders in Belfast and a limited number of American tourists, the people of Dublin should be compelled to submit to have their city grossly disfigured. Let me admit that the line is to be made, although it would never be made or tolerated for a moment by the people of Dublin, if they were in a position to control their own local affairs. But suppose that the line is to he made in spite of the opposition of a majority of the Irish Representatives, what reasons are there for permitting it to be made in a way the people of Dublin and the Irish Members protest against? We have been told by my hon. Friend the Member for the St. Stephen's Green Division of Dublin that the Great Northern Company are so much interested in their own traffic, that they will not allow another line to be made which is to join their system on the off side. Now, that assertion shows how it is possible to deal with important matters without having sufficient information in regard to them. What are the facts in relation to this junction line? I would ask hon. Members to inquire how the North Wall Junction is effected with the London and North Western and the Midland and Southern systems. They will find out that it joins those systems on the offside. It is notorious that the Liffey Junction at North Wall and the Northern Junction there will come in on the off side. If, then, these Railway Companies are willing to run the risk of colliding with the London and North Western trains, how is it that they are unwilling to incur a similar risk of colliding with trains which may pass over this new line when it is made? In truth, that is not the real reason why the construction of the line to the east of the Custom House is objected to. The real reason is that the promoters want to take Beresford Place from the citizens of Dublin; and, in order to save the expenditure of a few thousand pounds, they are willing to rob the citizens of Dublin of one of their most valuable places of recreation. The ease put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for the St. Stephen's Green Division the other day, and a case which may probably have had some influence in inducing English Members to vote in favour of the Bill, was that we propose to sacrifice the trade of Ireland to æsthetical ideas. Now, I wish it to be distinctly known—and everybody who knows anything of Ireland is acquainted with the fact—that the trade of Ireland is amply provided for by the railroad connections which at present exist. There is not a railway coming into Dublin, with the solitary exception of the Dublin, Wicklow, and Wexford Line, which probably has very little trade at all, that has not ample accommodation already; and if this loop line is constructed, no traffic will over pass over it up to the Day of Judgment; no goods will over be sent over it from Kingstown; no goods will ever be shipped there; and, therefore, this contention that the line is to serve the trade of Ireland is an utterly bogus contention. Beyond what may go by the Parcels Post there will never be any trade at all. In conclusion, I hope I may be allowed to refer to the remarks which were made by my hon. Friend the Member for the St. Stephen's Green Division. He asked us if we propose to prevent the expenditure of something like £150,000 in wages in Dublin? Now, I have shown that this loop line can be made, and made with perfect safety, without disfiguring Beresford Place or destroying the beauty of the Custom House. But my hon. Friend, in his anxiety to make out his case, rather overlooked the statement which had been made on behalf of the promoters of the Bill. Now, what is their statement? They say that they propose to spend £150,000 in wages in the City of Dublin; but I am informed that the greater part of the money which will be expended by the Company will go in the shape of compensation to the owners of property and in the purchase of railway material, and that the wages paid, although they maybe considerable, will be trifling in comparison with the sum mentioned by my hon. Friend. I am told that they will amount to something like £30,000. My contention is that this loop line ought not to be made, but that the connection between Kings-bridge and Kingstown ought to be made as proposed by the other Bill. Our strong point is this—that you may, by passing this Bill, Bill the Kings-bridge and Kingstown Line altogether, and then there is also the possibility that this loop line will never be made at all. It is utterly out of the question that two lines can be made. Hon. Members know perfectly well that it is a question whether one will be made, and if one is made there cannot be a shadow of doubt that the other Bill will fall to the ground. No doubt, there is a greater financial guarantee in connection with the project for the loop line. The pro- moters have obtained the help of Sir Edward. Guinness, who is universally known to be a very wealthy man. He has agreed, I understand, to subscribe a sum of £50,000. Sir Edward Guinness is a gentleman who is probably worth £8,000,000 or £9,000,000; and the promoters having Sir Edward Guinness at their back, together with the Great Northern of Ireland Railway Company and the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company, will, if this line is sanctioned, undoubtedly crush out of existence the project of the Great Southern and Western Company, which is the one that it is most desirable in the interests of Ireland generally to pass. For all these reasons, I trust that the House will reject the Bill. I think that it is particularly hard that the voice of the majority of the Irish Representatives should be overruled. I think it is most unfortunate that in a question of this kind, which affects the interests, and, if you please, the local prejudices of the citizens of the capital of Ireland, English Members, who have no real knowledge of the merits of the question, should be prepared to vote against the voice of the Irish Representatives.

LORD CLAUD HAMILTON (Liverpool, West Derby)

I am bound to assume that the hon. Member who has just delivered a speech against the Bill has never taken the trouble to read the provisions of the measure which he has so eloquently discussed. This Bill is not a Continuance Bill, as the hon. Member has represented. It is nothing of the kind; it is merely a Money Bill to enable the promoters of this new line to carry out the intentions of Parliament already expressed in the Bill which was passed in the year 1884. That Bill was before a Committee of this House and also a Committee of the House of Lords as an opposed measure. All the matters involved, both for and against, were fully argued before those Committees, who, nevertheless, representing as they did both Houses, considered it right to pass the Bill. The present Bill is merely to provide the means for carrying out the scheme which was sanctioned by that measure; and we are now simply discussing a money question. The old story has been introduced about the disfigurement of the Custom House. I quite admit that if it had been possible to have made this line on the other side of the Custom House it would have been a preferable course to have taken; but the whole of that matter was fully discussed and settled when the Bill was before Parliament. I myself gave evidence on the subject. Although I am not a perpetual resident in Dublin, I know Dublin as well as anybody, and I should have been very sorry to make this line where it is proposed to make it, if any alternative scheme could have been suggested. Parliament, however, came to the conclusion, after full consideration and after hearing evidence, that the line could only be made as it is proposed to be made by this Bill, The hon. Member talks as though sacrifices should never be made in order to secure the material interests of a community. Although I admit that the Custom House in Dublin is a building of great beauty, it cannot be said to rival St. Paul's Cathedral here; and when it was proposed to connect the North and South of London by carrying a bridge right in front of St. Paul's Cathedral, the material argument so much outweighed that which was put forward by æsthetics that Parliament decided that it was necessary to carry a bridge across Ludgate Bill. Then, again, let me instance the bridge across the Thames at Charing Cross. Probably there could not have been found a finer river scene in the world than that which the construction of that bridge to a great extent interfered with; but Parliament felt that æsthetics ought not to stand in the way, and they allowed the bridge to be made. I may also mention that, according to the plans for the construction of the bridge across the Liffey which were submitted to the Committee, there will not be anything like the disfigurement which was involved in the construction of the bridge across the Thames or that across Ludgate Hill. In fact, the interference with the view will scarcely be noticed, and one witness who gave evidence before the Committee declared that the construction of this line would be rather an advantage than otherwise. The hon. Member for East Mayo knows very well, when he talks of the open space at the Custom House being used as a recreation ground, that it is not employed for any such purpose. I have gone over it hundreds of times, and I never saw a man, woman, or child, who could be said to be visiting it for the benefit of the air. There is no provision there for people who desire to sit out-of-doors for the benefit of the open air. It is simply a large open space, and whatever purpose it may serve in enabling the citizens of Dublin to obtain the benefit of fresh air will be in no way interfered with by the construction of this bridge. The hon. Member for East Mayo has said that if this loop line is made no goods traffic will be carried over it. Now, I can assure the hon. Member that all railway men take a very different view from that which he has expressed. The hon. Member says that if a physical connection with Belfast, Drogheda, and the North of Ireland is established, there will be no goods traffic created; but the experience of every railway man is that if you will give the facilities traffic will afterwards be created. My own opinion is that there will be a very large goods traffic indeed, although it may take a certain time to develop it. But, as I have said, this Bill is purely a Money Bill, which it has been found necessary to introduce into this House, in order that some difficulties which have been experienced by the promoters of the measure in regard to the guarantee of their capital shall be removed. There is an ordinary share capital of £300,000, with borrowing powers to the extent of £100,000 more; and when the Midland and the Southern and Western Companies seceded from the contract which they originally entered into, it was found that the guarantee could not be sustained. What followed? The Dublin, Wicklow, and Wexford Railway Company reduced the amount of their guarantee, while the City of Dublin Company increased theirs. That brought up the guarantee of the share capital to £225,000 at 4 per cent, the City of Dublin Company provide a guarantee of £250,000, and then there simply remains a sum of £50,000 to be found or guaranteed. What are the names of the gentlemen who have undertaken to supply that sum? I will mention the names of these gentlemen, in order that there may be no misconception on the part of those who are opposing the third reading of the Bill. Sir Edward Guinness has subscribed £20,000, Sir Richard Martin £5,000, Mr. Cairns (the Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ireland) £5,000, Mr. E. H. Kinahan £5,000, Mr. John Jamieson £5,000, Mr. Murphy £5,000, and then there are five other gentlemen who have guaranteed to subscribe £1,000 each, making a total of £50,000. I think that fact affords proof that the Company is in a perfectly sound financial position. I now come to the notices which, under some singular misapprehension, the hon. Member for East Mayo has referred to. He alleges that the Company have not given the necessary notices; but I may inform him that plans and schedules have been already deposited at the Board of Works in Ireland, which is equivalent to giving notices to occupiers in England, and that the Board of Works have already appointed an arbitrator to decide any disputed matter in reference to those notices. I may add that the Company, in taking that course, have rendered themselves liable for no less a sum than £ 100,000. I think that shows the bona fides of the promoters. The only other point I have to notice is the statement of the hon. Member in reference to the rival scheme quoted by the hon. Member for Banff (Mr. Duff) the other evening. The hon. Member stated that if this Bill is passed it will be impossible for the other project to be carried out. Now, I contend that the public are the best judges as to which is the best and the most useful line. All that Parliament has to do is to give the public an opportunity of deciding; and if they do that, I have very little doubt as to what the public verdict will be. Subsequent to the debate which occurred the other night, the promoters of the Bill received overtures from the promoters of the Booterstown and Inchicore Railway. This is their letter— Kingstown and Kingsbridge Junction Railway Solicitors' Office, 10 New Square, Lincoln's Inn, E.C., 29th July, 1887. DEAR SIRS,— After the strong expression of opinion shown by last night's Division we do not desire to offer any farther impediment in the way of your Bill; and, provided that no opposition is offered you to the third reading of our Bill, we will use our influence to prevent the opposition of our friends, you, of course, doing the same by us. Yours faithfully, LAKE & Go. To that letter the following reply was sent:— 18, Abingdon Street, S.W., "29th July, 1887. DEAR SIRS,— We are in receipt of your letter of to-day's date. With reference to the Dublin, Wicklow, and Wexford (City of Dublin Junction Railways) Bill, and the Kingstown and Kingsbridge Junction Railway Bill of this Session, we bog, on behalf of the promoters of the Dublin, Wicklow, and Wexford (City of Dublin Junction Railways) Bill, to agree to the terms therein contained.—We are, yours faithfully, "HOLMES, GREIG, & GREIG. Under these circumstances, let me make a further appeal to that section of hon. Members below the Gangway who are opposing this measure. Let all of us, whether we sit on this side of the House or the other, who represent Ireland in any way, come to a decision as to what the material interests of the country demand. Do not let us make ourselves the laughing-stock of England and Scotland by showing that on a measure like this, which is purely non-political, we cannot come to an agreement. Let us, at any rate, go before the public and say that we are able to pass measures for the general advantage of Ireland without the necessity of dividing one against the other.

MR. FLYNN (Cork, N.)

I think the course which the discussions on this Bill have taken affords one of the strongest arguments in favour of a measure of Home Rule for Ireland. Referring to the concluding remarks of the noble Lord the Member for the West Derby Division of Liverpool (Lord Claud Hamilton), I would point out that the difference which exists between Irish Members sitting on both sides of the House in reference to this measure, instead of being an argument against Home Rule, is a strong argument in its favour; because it shows that when we come to consider purely commercial and material considerations outside the line of politics we all take an independent view. I do not desire to follow the remarks of the noble Lord in the speech he has made in favour of the Bill, or to occupy the House at any considerable length; but representing, as I do, a Southern constituency, there are a few points in regard to this measure which I wish to refer to. The hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), speaking in the interests of the citizens of Dublin, seems to imply that if this project is carried out, there may be danger of the American mails being taken away from Queenstown. We dispute that argument altogether, and we from the South of Ireland are very largely interested, not in the carriage of the American mails alone, but also in the traffic that must inevitably follow. We have had in this House during the present year, and in former years, a strong expression of opinion from successive Postmasters General that if this line or the other line—the Booterstown and Inchicore Railway—is not made, there is great probability of the carriage of the American mails being lost to Ireland altogether. That is a result which we should look forward to with considerable apprehension. We believe that the making of this line, or of the Booterstown and Inchicore line, is an absolute necessity if we are to retain the carriage of the American mails, and the passenger traffic that follows. My hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo appeared, to some extent, to depreeate the value of the American mail traffic in Ireland.


Ob, no; the hon. Member has mistaken the purport of my remarks.


I know that Members who are opposed to this scheme have somewhat deprecated the value of the American traffic to Ireland, and I am prepared to join issue with them on that point. It is not only that the carriage of the mails is valuable, although that is an important consideration, but also the vast amount of passenger traffic that follows. A large number of American tourists land at Queenstown, who spend a great deal of money in Ireland, but who, if the carriage of the American mails was diverted in another direction, would not have an opportunity of visiting Ireland at all, but would go direct to Liverpool or some other English port. Therefore the people of the South, of Ireland, generally, are greatly interested in this question. I may say that my own personal interest is in the other line—I will not call it a rival line. Until the promoters of the present scheme announced their intention of persevering with their Bill we looked on the matter in this light—that unless the alternative line was made we might have no line at all. I should be sorry to say a word against the alternative line. In the discharge of my duty at home, I have done all I could to stir up a healthy public support in favour of that line; but I cannot conceal from myself that if the line which this Bill proposes to carry out is not made, the chances of having any realrail way connec- tion are very remote indeed. [Cries of "No:"] Hon. Members say "No;" but I want to know whore the capital for the alternative line is to come from? The scheme has already been six months before the public, and out of the £200,000 they required to raise only £20,000, at the outside, have been subscribed, with a guarantee of £80,000 from the Cork Harbour Board, which, of course, is a conditional guarantee. I am not disposed to find fault with the aesthetic views of some of my hon. Colleagues in regard to the shutting out of the view of the Custom House; but I think there is great force in what the noble Lord the Member for the West Derby Division of Liverpool stated in regard to what has been done in London on a very much larger scale, in shutting out the view of a Cathedral of most noble proportions, and in shutting out, also, a view of some of the finest buildings in the Metropolis. A poor country like Ireland cannot afford to take a purely æsthetical view when there are so many artizans out of work. The object of Irishmen should be to furnish facilities for the development of the traffic of the country. I altogether protest against the proposition that the construction of this bridge across the Liffey will seriously affect the æsthetical susceptibilities of the citizens of Dublin. I believe that undue importance has been attached to that point, which was so eloquently expressed by the hon. Member for South Cork (Dr. J. E. Kenny). In my opinion, we Irish Members have to make a selection between the two lines. It must be borne in mind that after the decision we came to the other day in regard to this Bill, on the following day the Bill authorizing the junction between Kings-bridge and Booterstown and Inchicore was read a third time. In my opinion, there is ample room for both lines in connection with the Kingstown communication. There is another point I desire to impress upon the House. I believe that this loop line is absolutely necessary, not only for the purpose of carrying the American mails and passengers, but for the general transit of the traffic from the North to the South of Ireland through the Metropolis of the country. Of course, I am unable to speak with any authority as to the engineering difficulties of the question, or whether it will be possible to construct this line east of the Custom House; but I will assume that, in deference to the strongly expressed opinion from Dublin, if it had been possible to carry this line east of the Custom House the promoters would have done so, and would not, from sheer wantonness and from a contemptuous disregard of that opinion, have carried the line to the west. I have been informed by one of the highest possible authorities that it would be extremely difficult, if not altogether impossible, to make a satisfactory junction if the line had been carried to the east of the Custom House. I think that my hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo, to some extent, strained a point in regard to the attitude of the Irish Members. As he read out the Division List, 34 Irish Members were against the Bill and 31 in favour of it. Now, I do not think that on reading over the numbers they give such a result as would afford a strong argument against the scheme in the direction of saying that public opinion in Ireland and the opinion of the Irish representatives are decidedly against the Bill. On the contrary, I think that the opposition to the Bill, apart from æsthetical ideas, shows that there is a largo amount of public opinion in Dublin in favour of the measure. It will be in the recollection of the House that of the Representatives of Dublin itself in this House two are in favour of the measure out of four, and one, I believe-, will not vote upon the question, although he is in favour of the Bill. Only one Dublin Representative votes against it. I think, therefore, these are very strong reasons against the contention of my hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo, that there is a strong preponderance of opinion in Ireland against this measure. We have now to make up our minds. I very much regret that on the last occasion when this Bill was before the House it was brought to a premature close. I do not believe there is any precedent for the course which was then taken by the hon. Gentleman the Chairman of Committees. I do not think that the Motion which was made by the hon. Gentleman was, under the circumstances, justifiable or wise. I do not believe that many more Members intended to speak, although there may have been two or three; and I think it would have been better to have threshed out that evening, once and for ail, the whole question. Hon. Members had made up their minds which way they intended to vote; and there would have been no further opposition to the Bill. I intend myself to vote in favour of the Bill, because I believe that the scheme involved in it is the only practical measure which can come before the House for the acceleration of the mail and passenger traffic. Therefore, in voting for it, I believe that I am consulting the best interests, not only of the North of Ireland, but of the South as well, and the traffic of the country generally.

MR. SINCLAIR (Falkirk, &c.)

In addressing a few remarks to the House with regard to this measure, I trust the fact that I am a Scotch Member will not be considered as debarring me from expressing an opinion upon the merits of a question of such importance to my native country. From my personal knowledge of Dublin, I am satisfied that both of these lines ought to be made; and if both railways are constructed, I think there can be very little doubt that the American mails will be carried by the Southern line. The line now under discussion will serve as an alternative route until the other line can be made and the American mails transferred to a more natural route. The line proposed in this Bill to be made will serve as an important means of communication between Westland Row and the North of Ireland. I therefore hope that hon. Members who voted in favour of the Bill on a former occasion will do so again. We have had an interesting speech from the hon. Member for East Mayo, in which he analyzed the Division List, and referred to the votes of the Irish Members. He seemed to forget, however, that there are many Irishmen in this House besides those who represent Irish constituencies; and if he had gone a little further and examined the votes of those hon. Members, he would have found that a large majority of such Members voted in favour of the Bill. I think the House did right in voting for the Bill on a formor occasion; and I trust that on this occasion, in the same way, the Bill will receive the sanction and approval of the House.


I do not propose to detain the House long, but I wish to refer to some of the arguments which were adduced on a former occasion in regard to the attitudes of Dublin. It was said that the Corporation are not so much, the representatives of the people of Dublin as the Members for Dublin. I altogether deny-that assertion. The Corporation of Dublin are elected to take charge of the local interests of the City, and I venture to say that the Corporation are as ten to one against the Bill now before the House—that out of every 10 members of the Corporation returned to look after the local interests of the City, nine, at least, are against this Bill. With respect to the alternative scheme, I wish to make one observation in reference to the principle enunciated by the noble Lord the Member for the West Derby Division of Liverpool (Lord Claud Hamilton) who spoke a short time ago. The noble Lord said that the policy of Parliament was one of fair play in these matters, and that these two Bills, according to the principle of fair play and the policy of Parliament, ought to be before the country at the same time, so that the public may take their choice against them. Now, I venture to say to those hon. Members near me, who are familiar with the history of the policy of Parliament in such matters, that the doctrine of the noble Lord is precisely the opposite of the policy of Parliament. The policy of Parliament has invariably been in the case of two opposing projects, when one has been passed, to view with great jealousy any proposal for another line which is likely to interfere with it unduly, or to compete with it. The Booterstown and Inehicore line was not projected before the one now before the House had fallen into abeyance, and had lost its powers. But as soon as the Booterstown and Inehicore line was projected, and carried to the eve of a prosperous conclusion, the promoters of this line, who had suffered their Act to fall into abeyance, and had lost their Parliamentary status, came before the House, and invited the House to take a step which would resuscitate their Bill, in order that they might defeat a bonâ fide scheme which would have been carried into successful completion. I know very well, if we could bring the two lines direct before the public, which scheme the people of Ireland would be prepared to accept. It would seem that the promoters of the measure attach very little value to æsthetical considerations: but I believe that a greater disfigurement of Dublin could not fake place than that which is involved in the construction of this line under its present conditions. No doubt, in certain circumstances that consideration might be overlooked, and we should be prepared rather than have no connecting line to let the matter stand as it does. But what is it that we have before us? We have another Bill, on the eve of being passed through Parliament, and of receiving the Royal Assent, which was not projected until years after the Bill now before the House had fallen into abeyance, and the promoters had completely lost their powers and their status. They come now to this House to ask Parliament to help them by carrying a Money Bill, which is to enable them to resuscitate and to make new financial arrangements. I think that this House ought to be most jealous, under such circumstances, of passing a measure to enable a Company which has failed to fulfil its obligations to defeat a rival scheme, which is not in default.


I will not detain the House for more than two or three minutes. The hon. Member for East Mayo has arraigned the course I took on the last occasion, and I do not propose to enter into any justification of what was done then. The House will remember that when I rose on that occasion I intimated that I would move the closure, and I was interrupted by an appeal on the part of the hon. and learned Member for North Longford (Mr. T. M. Healy) on a point of Order. With reference to the Motion now made for the third reading of the Bill, I will only point out that a Bill was brought into this House three years ago to authorize the making of this junction railway. The whole question was then referred to a Select Committee the Corporation of Dublin petitioned against the Bill, witnesses were examined, and everything that could be adduced against the Bill was hoard before a Select Committee of this House. The opponents were also heard before a Committee of the House of Lords, and clauses were inserted in the Bill to protect Dublin from being disfigured. Those clauses remain in the Bill now, and I submit that, as far as Parliament could settle the question, the matter was settled then. That Bill proposed to raise the capital for carrying out the scheme, under the guarantee of five existing Companies—four Railway Companies and the Dublin Steam Packet Company, two of those Companies afterwards retired, and gave up their guarantee. It has, therefore, been found necessary to alter the guarantee of the remaining three Companies, and that has been done, the remaining capital being subscribed by the gentlemen whose names have already been read. The whole question at issue in the Bill is a financial arrangement winch involves a subscription from, certain gentlemen, and the guarantee of three Companies who were among the original subscribers to the scheme. The present guarantee is quite as good as the original one, and upon the guarantee now offered the money to make the line is being subscribed. There is no precedent, as far as I am aware, upon a Bill for a financial re-arrangement, for taking into consideration the whole policy of the construction of a line which, has already been sanctioned by Parliament. The hon. Member for East Mayo has stated that the Manchester Ship Canal Bill affords a precedent; but the Manchester Ship Canal Bill is a precedent dead against himself. On the Motion to re-open the whole policy of constructing that canal, the House came to the conclusion that there was no justification for the course proposed to be taken, and refused altogether to adopt the suggestion. The Reference to the Committee in that case was simply this—that the substitution of one financial arrangement for another must be taken upon its merits, without re-opening the policy of the construction of the line. The reference to the Committee in the case of the Manchester Ship Canal was confined entirely to the substitution of one financial arrangement for another. That is the simple question hero. It has nothing whatever to do with the beauty or disfigurement of the City of Dublin, and the question of the adequacy of the financial arrangement has already been investigated as far as I was able to investigate it with the assistance, Sir, of your able counsel when the Bill came before me as an unopposed Bill. The guarantee is quite as good as the original guarantee—in fact, I am inclined to think it is better, and the money has been subscribed. The whole question is whether this House will sanction the substitution of one financial arrangement for another. Every question in regard to the disfigurement of Dublin was settled three years ago. I would, therefore, impress upon the House that if they reject the Bill they will establish a precedent of an extremely awkward andinconvenientnature. Under all the circumstances, I hope the House will not waste more of the public time by prolonging the discussion.

MR. CLANCY (Dublin Co., N.)

I do not propose to trespass long upon the time of the House; but I think, as one of the Representatives of the County of Dublin, that I have as much right to express my views as the hon. Member for the Bodmin Division of Cornwall (Mr. Courtney), the hon. Member for a Scotch borough (Mr. Sinclair), or the noble Lord the Member for the West Derby Division of Liverpool (Lord Claud Hamilton), and what I am anxious to do is to protest against the Vandalism which the carrying out of this scheme will involve The hon. Gentleman who has just spoken says that this is only a Money Bill, and that the question whether this line was to be constructed or not was settled three years ago, and, therefore, that there is no precedent for reopening the question. If that is so, I contend that it is high time to establish a precedent. I think that no more useful precedent could be established when we know that the real meaning of this Bill is to bolster up a useless scheme destined to failure. The Bill is intended to revive a scheme which, although originally sanctioned, could not be carried out. As a matter of fact, the public had no confidence in it, and they would not invest their money in it. The promoters now come here to modify their financial arrangements, and it is perfectly right that we should continue our opposition to the original scheme in order to show that it is a scheme which. Parliament ought not to sanction. The noble Lord the Member for the West Derby Division of Liverpool and the hon. Gentleman the Chairman of Committees say that all these questions were decided by a Committee of the House of Commons, and both speakers appear to assume that, because a Committee of this House decided in a particular way, therefore the whole question is settled. But, Sir, the decision of a Committee of this House has not necessarily the slightest weight with the people of Ire- land. The whole surface of Ireland is strewed with monuments of the in competency of Committees of this House, in the shape of works finished and unfinished which have been sanctioned by this House, but which have turned out to be perfectly useless for their original purpose; and, therefore, to tell me that because a Committee of this House has sanctioned a measure of this sort I ought to be bound by that decision is a thing I cannot accept in the face of my ordinary experience of every day life. Allow me to make an appeal to the Liberal Unionists especially, and to all the English Members now present. I believe I am correct in saying that the Liberal Unionists and the Tory Members of this House are prepared, and have expressed their reaediness, to give to Ireland the management of a certain amount of its local affairs. I believe that even the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) is still prepared to give us control over our Railway Bills, and the management of such things as our water and gas supply, Thon I would ask him and his followers, and those who sit on the other side of the House, to act on this occasion upon that principle, and leave the decision of this question to the Irish Members alone. The whole matter is merely a local matter concerning the City of Dublin. It does not touch, I will not say the Empire, but a single English interest of any sort. It is, therefore, a matter which ought to be decided by Irish Members alone; and if it is so decided, I, for one, shall be perfectly satisfied, no matter what the decision may be.

MR. DWYER GRAY (Dublin, St. Stephen's Green)

I rather imagine that the challenge of the hon. Member for North Dublin (Mr. Clancy) is based on the figures which were given by my hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) when he spoke of the votes of a majority of the Irish Members being against the Bill. That statement, however, although I have no doubt it was made with the utmost bonâ fides, took me by surprise, and I have had the figures carefully checked since by one of the Members for the City of Dublin who is in favour of the Bill, and by the hon. Member who moved the Amendment against the Bill, and I now invite the attention of my hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo to the result of their investigation. I find that the majority of Irish Members who, in fact, voted in favour of the Bill was 37, as against 33 who opposed it. This matter was fought out three years ago, whoa an Amendment was moved by an hon. Member for one of the Divisions of Tipporary to refer the question back exactly on the same ground as that which has been moved to-day. The Motion was defeated by 126 to 26; certainly an enormous majority. Although I thoroughly recognize the rights of minorities, I think that when a decision has been deliberately come to, after full discussion, again and again, there ought to be some finality. It has been clearly pointed out by the Chairman of Committees that the question whether this line should run, or whether any disfigurement of the City of Dublin should be allowed, and all other questions connected with the construction of the railway, have been settled, and ought to be deemed to be settled, not four days ago, but three years ago, and that to re-open such questions is absurd. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo for the complimentary references he made to myself; but, in his warm and impassioned speech, he put into my mouth two or three statements which I did not make, and which I must disclaim. I did not say that the Great Northern Railway are so solicitous for the protection of human life that they will not consent to any junction with an up line. What I said was that in this instance they refused to do so, and that their refusal was fatal to the Bill. It is quite true that some of the communications of the Liffey branch are seldom used but for stone goods traffic with the up trains; but a junction of that kind on a comparatively unused branch line is a very different thing from running trains into a main terminus, whore trains are running in and out every few minutes. I believe that the opposition of the great Northern Railway to any junction which would permit this line to be carried on the eastern side of the Custom House is fatal. Then my hon. Friend stated that, as one argument in favour of the Bill, I alleged that a sum of £150,000 would be spent in Dublin in the shape of wages. I never said a word about it, and where my hon. Friend got his information from I am at a loss to conceive, unless he got it from some stray paragraph in a newspaper not very remarkable for its general accuracy. I am not astonished that the House at last is weary of this discussion; but I would ask hon. Members to consider what the effect would be if the Amendment which has been moved ware accepted. The promoters of this scheme have already served the necessary notices to enable them to take possession of the land required, and they are bound to purchase the ground, because every occupier can now go into Court and compel them to do so. You are asked to recommit this Bill to the former Committee, not merely for the purpose of examining into questions of finance, but in reality to Bill the Bill. What would be the position of the promoters? These gentlemen, on the faith of universal precedents, have introduced a measure to enable them to reconstruct their financial arrangements, a matter which Parliament has never hitherto refused. They have entered into arrangements which render them liable to pay £100,000 for the purchase of land, and yet it is proposed that we should re-open matters which were fully considered and decided three years ago. I cannot believe that the House will come to such a preposterous conclusion, and I believe that the object of the discussion which has taken place has been to secure the votes of hon. Members who are not thoroughly versed in the question. Hon. Members who have listened to the discussion know now that what is asked is this—that the promoters of the Bill, who have committed themselves to the scheme, and served notices which compel them to purchase the ground, are now to have their project practically Billed, notwithstanding the fact that every provision of the original Bill was fully argued, considered, and decided three years ago. I cannot conceive that this House will consent to stultify itself in the manner which has been suggested by those who support the Amendment.


I only rise for the purpose of saying that, after the appeal which has been made to me by the hon. Member for North Dublin (Mr. Clancy), I quite agree that this is entirely a matter for the Irish Members, and I have no intention of taking any part in the Division which is about to take place.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 192; Noes 55: Majority 137.—(Div. List, No. 341.)

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read the third time, and passed.

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