Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [22nd July],
That, in the case of the Dublin, Wicklow, and Wexford Railway (City of Dublin Junction Railways) Bill, Standing Orders 84. 214, 215, and 239 be suspended, and that the Bill be now taken into consideration, provided amended prints shall have been previously deposited.
§ Question again proposed.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now considered.
§ MR. P. McDONALD (Sligo, N.)
I rise for the purpose of opposing this Bill. My first ground of opposition is that the usual course has been departed from in this instance, inasmuch as we have had no opportunity of blocking the progress of the Bill, owing to the manner in which it has been brought before the House. It has not appeared on the Orders of the Day or on the Notices, in the usual form, and hence it was only when the present stage was reached that we were afforded an opportunity of placing our views before the House. The short history of the Bill is this. In 1884, three years ago, a Bill was passed in both Houses of Parliament authorizing the construction of this so-called loop line. It was most strenuously opposed in its several stages by the Corporation of Dublin, on the ground that the promoters of the Bill, instead of taking the most convenient mode of connecting the Westland Row Station with the terminius of the Great Northern Railway, took a different course altogether, which, if carried out, would probably lead to the disfigurement of the city. In fact, an act of perfect vandalism would have been perpetrated if the Bill had been carried into effect. The provisions of the Bill, however, have not been carried into effect, because the money has not been forth- 1849 coming for the construction of the line, and the Act of Parliament has consequently become a dead letter. The Act has now remained a dead letter for three years; but, in the meantime, as we in Ireland are anxious to see an extension of the railway system from Westland Bow, we have supported another Bill for connecting that station with the Great Southern and Western Railway Company's line at Kingsbridge. That Company introduced their Bill into this House this year, and now that a practical scheme of connection has been legalized, I think it is somewhat too late for the Dublin, Wicklow, and Wexford Company to come in and say—"We will now make our connection; we will try to raise the money, and by that means we may deprive the Great Southern and Western Company of the value of the privileges they have obtained for themselves in securing the authorization of a connection between Kingstown and Cork by railway." Now, Sir, this scheme for the construction of a so-called loop line, which we maintain will lead to the disfigurement of the City of Dublin, is to cost £300,000, and I can assure our Northern friends by whom it is promoted that, in all probability, if the money is raised, they will never receive one penny in the shape of dividends upon this enormous outlay. That, I believe, is one reason why the Act has been allowed to remain a dead letter. The promoters have now, however, secured some influential friends in the North who are coming forward to support them. But it is not so much upon that ground that I oppose the Bill. I oppose this stage most strenuously on account of the manner in which the measure has been rushed through the House, and for the departure the promoters have made from the ordinary usages of the House. I certainly think the House ought to express its opinion upon that matter, and that it should stop the further progress of the Bill. I therefore oppose the Motion, and I believe that a great number of my Friends who are sitting on this side of the House will go into the Lobby with me if the Bill is persisted in.
§ MR. EWART (Belfast, N.)
The hon. Gentleman speaks of this line as if it were one that really affected the North of Ireland only. I, on the other hand, am here to assert that it would be 1850 equally advantageous to the whole of Ireland, and especially to the Queens-town route for the American mails. The hon. Gentleman complains that the Forms of the House have not been complied with. To that statement I also take exception. The Forms of the House, in every instance, have been complied with.
§ MR. EWART
The object of the Bill is to enable the promoters to make certain financial arrangements in order to secure that the scheme of 1884 should be carried out, and I am entirely opposed to any Motion for postponing the consideration of the Bill. Perhaps it would be for the convenience of the House that I should make a short statement. The Bill is promoted by the Dublin, Wicklow, and Wexford Railway Company, to enable them to carry out the loop-line they were authorized by Parliament to make three years ago. This delay has been rendered necessary in consequence of the indisposition of two of the Companies who were interested in the Bill, and, notably, the Great Southern and Western Railway Company, to carry out the solemn undertaking they entered into under the Act of 1884. As to the merits of the Bill, it is not necessary that I should say much. They were thoroughly investigated by both Houses of Parliament, and the Corporation of Dublin were fully represented there in opposition to the scheme. Nevertheless, it was passed by both Houses. I will only say that this loop-line was supported by the four great Railway Companies in Ireland, and the principal Steamboat Company in the country. It was shown, when the Bill was before Parliament, that it was the only possible way of connecting the different railway termini in Dublin, and of supplying a want that has very long been felt. The Railway Companies invoked the aid of the Postmaster General of that day, Mr. Fawcett, who warmly supported the scheme, and sent an Inspector of Mails to give evidence in its favour, and to express the opinion of the Government that the construction of the line would be a very great advantage to Ireland and to the Queenstown route. So far as passengers are concerned, if this line is made, instead of having to drive through Dublin, as they do at present 1851 from one station to another, they will be able to go on without change of carriage; and, as regards the mails, facilities will be afforded for improving the interchange of mails between the whole of Ireland. It will further quicken the communication to Cork and all the provinces by half an hour to an hour, and it will expedite the American mail service to the same extent, both inwards and outwards. There will be a provincial despatch to Dublin of from half-an-hour to an hour later than at present. At this moment, the mails are not delivered in Belfast before noon, and Cork, of course, at a later hour; and the acceleration which will take place under this scheme will confer a great boon upon the town, and, indeed, on the whole of the provinces; while it would give an advantage of from half-an-hour to an. hour in the despatch of the American mails viâ Queenstown. Therefore, upon every ground, there are strong motives for constructing this line, and I think it is hard that an endeavour should be made to stop the promoters at this stage.
§ MR. EWART
If there were really any possible alternative scheme, or any reason for this opposition, the objection which has been raised to the progress of the Bill would have more claim upon the consideration of the House. The hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. P. McDonald) says that another Bill, which will give all the public accommodation that is required, has passed this House during the present Session. Now, that Bill has not passed this House at all, although it has passed certain stages, and it is very well known that if the Bill itself passed, it will be impossible for the money ever to be raised for the construction, of the line.
§ MR. EWART
I would appeal to hon. Members who represent the City of Dublin to support the Bill. The hon. Member for Sligo has used some hard words about vandalism. This line does, certainly, cross the River Liffey, and passes through Beresford Place. But my own opinion is that if the line be nicely formed and elegant in its structure, 1852 instead of being injurious to Beresford Place and the Custom House, will be an improvement to it. Beresford Place is one of the most dreary, deserted looking spots in Europe, and a railway such as I have described crossing there would give animation to it, and show unmistakable signs that Dublin is advancing in material prosperity. I hope, in this matter, to have the support of the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton) for the construction of this line. It will certainly do Belfast and the Province of Ulster a great deal of good, while, with regard to Dublin, it will at once lead to an expenditure of £300,000, which, I think, is no small matter. Personally, I look upon this as a national question, and I sincerely hope that the House will agree to suspend the Standing Orders and allow the Bill to be passed to-day.
§ MR. PENROSE-FITZGERALD (Cambridge)
I cannot see that the hon. Member who has just spoken has removed any of the objections which the hon. Member for Sligo has raised to this Bill. Although the hon. Member for North Belfast (Mr. Ewart) has said that no sane man would put his money in a scheme for a connecting line between the Kingstown and Dublin Railway and the Great Southern and Western system, I, for one, in a very small way, have done so. I consider that such a railway is most needed under the existing circumstances, and that it will directly facilitate the transit of the mails from London to Cork. This Bill has been before the House for some time. What the technical points may be on which it has been delayed I am not aware, but that it has been delayed I am aware, and owing to that delay the Great Southern and Western Railway have formed a project which is now before this House for connecting Kingstown with their line to Cork, by means of a link from Rooterstown to Inchicore. Therefore, I think it is hard that we should have it thrown in our face that a Railway Company proposing to carry a line through the streets of Dublin should have power to prevent the Great Southern and Western Railway from going on with their project. The Northern Railways are already connected with the Great Southern and Western line at Kingsbridge; and the Great Southern and Western Railway runs the mails to 1853 Cork direct. The proposition of that Company to construct a small loop-line from Rooterstown to Inchicore will connect all the great main lines with Holyhead, Dublin, and Cork. This line will place Kingstown, where the English and American mails arrive, in direct communication with Cork, and that is most important in view of the competing claims of Southampton, Milford, Falmouth, and other towns for carrying the American mails. If Cork is not prepared, as it ought to be, with a complete through transit from Kingstown it will inevitably go to the wall, and my pole object is to endeavour to induce this House, as quickly as possible, to pass such necessary measures as will enable the Great Southern and Western Railway Company at Queenstown to connect their line with the Kingstown boats. It is no fault of ours that the line authorized by the Act passed three years ago has not been made, and, no doubt, the Company had some reason for the delay. On their heads then the consequences must fall if their line is rejected. All that I ask of the House is not to allow our Bill to be crushed, because, for some reason of their own, the Dublin, Wicklow, and Wexford Company have chosen to delay the construction of their line.
§ THE POSTMASTER GENERAL (Mr. RAIKES) (Cambridge University)
This is a question which closely affects the transit of the mails, and therefore has a certain amount of public interest, apart from the interest it has in connection with Ireland. Therefore, I desire to say one or two words upon the subject as to the great difficulty at present experienced in regard to the transit of the mails, to which reference has already been made. I am aware that this is one of two Bills which are promoted by rival Companies, both of which measures, I understand, have, among other objects, that of facilitating the transmission of the mails through and from Dublin. I have nothing whatever to say to that part of the present scheme, which proposes a communication between the Westland Row Station and the Northern railway lines. As to the means by which that communication is to be effected that is a matter with which I have nothing to do. I should be glad if I thought there were any reasonable prospect in the course of the present year, or in any 1854 short time, of seeing the scheme to which the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Penrose-Fitzgerald) has referred carried out. The matter, however, is really urgent, and the carrying out of that scheme must necessarily be delayed for some time. When the question was under consideration before the Committee in 1884, the great point urged was the fact that the mails, on their arrival from England, at Kingstown, had to be conveyed to Westland Row, then transferred to cars, then taken to another railway station, the Great Southern and Western Station at Kingsbridge. A deputation waited upon me on this subject last autumn, and I felt bound to tell them that if that arrangement continued to be carried out in regard to the transport of the American mails the inconvenience it entails is of such an extreme character that it would almost certainly be necessary to send the mails by some other route. No doubt, Plymouth, Southampton, and other places are competing for the conveyance of the American mails, although I draw from that fact a different moral from that which my hon. Friend draws. My hon. friend asks the House to throw out this Bill, which would have the effect of securing the conveyance of the mails through the City of Dublin, because he thinks another scheme might be better if the promoters of a certain Bill now before Parliament were to carry the provisions of that Bill out. Now, although that scheme may be a good one, and I should be happy to support it in respect of the Office I hold as Postmaster General whenever it comes before the House in a practical manner, I do not think the House ought to throw away the opportunity now afforded to it of completing a through communication by passing the present Bill. Something has been stated in regard to an irregularity committed by the promoters in bringing forward the Bill, and reference has been made to some special and exceptional proceedings. Now, let me point out that it is perfectly competent for the promoters to ask the House to dispense with certain Standing Orders, with a view of facilitating any measure which it is seriously intended to pass into law in the course of the present Session. The House, in many instances, has acceded to such an application, and has sent a Bill forward to the 1855 House of Lords with greater speed than the ordinary Forms of the House would allow, in order that it might become law before the end of the Session. This Bill is one which was not opposed in its Committee stage, and I do not think it lies very well in the mouth of those who oppose it in its present stage to complain that there has been any irregularity in the proceedings of the promoters. The Bill passed before the Chairman of Ways and Means as an unopposed Bill, and now that it has come down here for consideration, the opponents are trying to raise questions which they were unwilling to raise before the proper tribunal. [Cries of "Oh!"] Hon. Members deny that; but this House has always looked with great suspicion upon an opposition got up at the last moment in order to prevent a Bill from being read a third time, when no opposition has been offered to it in its earlier stages. I hope it will be a long time before this House consents to endorse any such course of action, unless some better ground is shown for it than has been shown in this case. I have only one word more to add, and it has reference to the actual character of the Bill itself. This Bill does not propose for the first time to make this railway. It merely proposes to facilitate the completion of an authorized railway, by giving greater financial advantages than are at present possessed. The Corporation of Dublin opposed the original Bill when it was before the House in 1884, and they agreed to the insertion of clauses in the House of Lords—certain saving clauses in regard to their rights—with a view of meeting and obviating the objections which they had urged. Then I do not think that the Corporation of Dublin are justified in opposing the Bill on the present occasion, especially as it relates only to financial arrangements by which it is intended to give effect to what is already the law of the land. I do not think I am called upon to refer to any other scheme which is not at this moment before us. I shall be glad, in my official capacity, to welcome either, or both, of these Bills. I should be tolerably happy with either; but I think that this Bill stands a better chance of being passed than the other, and I hope the House will not throw away the opportunity it now has of making the connection with the Westland Row Station, and I trust 1856 that hon. Members from Ireland will scruple to take any course which may make it necessary to reconsider the whole question of the carriage of the American mails viâ Ireland.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I have listened with positive amazement to the statement of the Postmaster General. How, in the name of goodness, does this Bill affect the American mails! If the right hon. Gentleman knows Dublin as well as we do, he must know that this Bill affects the conveyance of the American mails no more than if we were to put another bridge across the river here at Westminster. The American mails go from Westland Row at the present moment down to Queenstown. This is a proposal to build a bridge and to take trains across the Liffey, so as to connect West-land Row with the line to Belfast; and it has no more to do with the American mails than Tenterden Steeple has to do with the Goodwin Sands. The right hon. Gentleman has made what almost amounts to a threat against the Irish Members if they oppose this Bill; and he has suggested that the Corporation of Dublin are, for some purposes of their own, encouraging this opposition. As to the merits of the financial proposal, I know nothing. I do not care a snap of the fingers which Company makes the connection, or which does not; I should be glad to see both succeed, so long as they succeed in a proper manner; but we are told by the right hon. Gentleman that the opposition has been got up at the last moment by the Corporation of Dublin, and that, therefore, we ought to be suspicious of it. That is an insinuation which I utterly repel. Three years ago I gave to this Bill the utmost opposition in my power. I looked upon it as a Bill introduced by Goths and Vandals, and I recollect that at that time an unworthy attack was made upon the Lord Mayor of Dublin, who was then a Member of this House, for the purpose of prejudicing the Committee which was appointed to consider the Bill against the opposition raised to it. What is the Motion now before the House? The Postmaster General says that the House has always been in the habit of assenting to proposals of this kind, and especially in view of the fact that the opposition has been got up at the last moment. Now, what was the first moment at which the opposition could have been got up? 1857 The right hon. Gentleman having himself been Chairman of Committees, ought to understand the Forms of the House, and I certainly expect to hear from the present Chairman of Ways and Means some justification of the proposal contained in this Motion to suspend the Standing Orders when I ask how we could have got up an opposition against the Bill. As a matter of fact, the measure has been smuggled through the House at this late period of the Session with the connivance of the authorities—I do not say in any improper way, but the authorities of the House have certainly favoured this proposal in some manner which I do not understand. We have heard from the hon. Member for North Belfast (Mr. Ewart) a good deal about the merits of the Bill; but will he tell us what justification there is for suspending the Standing Orders? I presume that the Rules of this House have been laid down for valuable reasons. We hear a great deal nowadays about the Forms of the House. Every Form of the House has been established, I suppose, by the wisdom of our predecessors for a particular and specific purpose, and if those Forms should be adhered to for anything at all, certainly they should not be departed from on questions affecting the raising of capital. We have not heard a single word from the hon. Gentleman who is apparently engineering the Bill as to why the Standing Orders should be suspended. The first proposal contained in this Motion is to suspend Standing Order 84. Let me turn to that Standing Order. The Postmaster General says that the opposition has been got up at the last moment. Standing Order 84 says—Three clear days at least before the consideration of any private Bill ordered to lie upon the Table a copy of every such Bill, as amended in Committee, shall be laid by the agent before the Chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means and the counsel to Mr. Speaker, and deposited at the office of the Board of Trade; and in the case of every Bill required by the Standing Orders to be deposited at the office of the Local Government Board on or before the 21st day of December, shall also be deposited at the office of the Local Government Board.Why, then, was that not done? Why do the promoters not do it? Why should there be this amazing hurry? Certainly I did not know that there was a rival scheme before the House until 1858 the hon. Member for Cambridge got up to say that he had put his money in it. I am very glad that he has, because I say that the proposal to spend £300.000 by a Railway Company which is practically bankrupt—namely, the Dublin, Wicklow, and Wexford Railway Company—which has only paid 1 per cent for a number of years, and whose chief Director, the moment this Bill was passed, resigned his seat on the board, and said that he would no longer be responsible for the affairs of the Company, is preposterous. This is a Bill which is backed up by persons who have not one penny of interest in the Dublin, Wicklow, and Wexford Line, and who want to spend £300,000 in building a bridge across the Liffey, in order to save 10 minutes in the transit through the City of Dublin. I have pointed out that the Bill has no more to do with the conveyance of the American mails than Westminster Bridge; and what protection are we to have if we are to permit promoters of Bills to violate one of the fundamental provisions of our Standing Orders, requiring Notice and warning to be given to Members of this House and other parties concerned? Yet it is proposed in regard to a Bill for which not a single stiver has yet been subscribed, that this Standing Order should be suspended. Then, what is the next Standing Order, because I observe that there are a quartette of them which this Motion proposes to suspend? The next is Standing Order 214. What does that Standing Order say? It says—Every Private Bill, as amended in Committee, shall be printed at the expense of the parties applying for the same; and delivered to the Vote Office for the use of the Members, three clear days at least before the consideration of such Bill.That is a most important provision, and in this case it does not appear to have been complied with. Standing Order Number 215 provides that—In the case of Private Bills ordered to lie upon the Table, three clear days shall intervene between the Report and the consideration of the Bill, and no consideration of any such Bill shall take place, unless the Chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means shall have informed the House or signified in writing to Mr. Speaker, whether the Bill contain the several provisions required by the Standing Orders,This Standing Order provides that the Chairman of Ways and Means shall certify certain things to the Speaker and 1859 his counsel. The promoters, in this case, have not done so, and yet, forsooth, we are asked to occupy the time of the House by considering the advisability of suspending our Standing Orders when we have plenty of other work before us, and have certainly no desire to occupy ourselves with the consideration of Private Bill Legislation. The Postmaster General tells us that the opposition to the Bill has been got up in a suspicious manner at the last moment, when absolutely, as far as I can gather, no copy of the Bill has been printed in the ordinary way for the use of Members. But these voracious Gentlemen want to have another Standing Order suspended. Why not abolish the House of Commons altogether, and get rid of all the precautions which have been taken in reference to Private Bill Legislation. Standing Order 239 says—One clear day's notice, in writing, shall be given by the agent for the Bill, to the clerks in the Private Bills Office, of the day proposed for the consideration of every Private Bill ordered to lie upon the Table.So that when charged by the Postmaster General with having got up at the last moment a suspicious opposition to the Bill, we find that if the right hon. Gentleman had examined the Standing Orders, and he ought to be acquainted with them, seeing that he occupied for some time, in a useful and dignified manner, the position of Chairman of Ways and Means, he would have known that no opportunity has been given to us to state our opposition to the Bill. I think, under all the circumstances of the case, it would be an act of great folly for capitalists to put their money into this scheme. I know that if we had Home Rule passed for Ireland, one of the first things the Irish Government would be required to do would be to build a bridge over the Liffey in a proper manner. They would not consent to be overruled by three Gentlemen in the House of Commons, who probably never saw Dublin or even Ireland, who care nothing for the country, and who simply support the view originally put forward by the counsel for the promoters of the Bill to the prejudice of the Lord Mayor and Corporation of Dublin. If that had not been done, the Bill would never have been passed. The only valid argument offered to the Committee was that gentleman connected with the Mili- 1860 tary Service were called, who stated that when soldiers were marched across Dublin from one station to the other, the streets of Dublin were very dirty, and the soldiers found it necessary to have their boots blacked. Can any hon. Member conceive a similar instance in which an attempt could be made to override the opinion of the people whose interests are most at stake, in this extraordinary way? If it had been proposed to build a bridge to the East of the Custom House, we should have been prepared to welcome both the Bill and the bridge. There is no reason why that course should not have been taken, except the opposition of a miserable body—tho Dublin Docks Board—a close corporation representing nobody. It was decided to carry the bridge to the west of the Custom House, simply because if it were constructed on the other side, it might interfere with the berthage of a few ships. That was the only argument in favour of building the bridge in the place it is intended to occupy—namely, that it would interfere, if erected elsewhere, with the berthage of one or two ships. Upon this trivial ground it was decided to shut out the citizens of Dublin from a full view of one of the most beautiful structures in the City, and to destroy Beresford Place as a rendezvous for the people of Dublin. [A laugh.] I see that the hon. Member for South Belfast (Mr. Johnston) laughs. I presume he does so because no Orange Lodge has ever been allowed to march in procession there. The Corporation of Dublin gave a vigorous opposition to the Bill; but the opposition was not confined to the Corporation. On the contrary, Baron Dowse, Mr. Justice Harrison, a member of the Conservative Party, and the Provost of Trinity College, whom Lord Carnarvon knighted when he was in Ireland, gave the strongest opposition to the Bill. We do not oppose the Bill itself, but only the proposal to build a bridge in this particular way, and at the present moment the House has not heard a single reason why the bridge should be built east instead of west of the Custom House. I would ask the English Members, in a matter of this kind, to have some regard to the opinion of the citizens of Dublin who, by their Corporation, oppose, in the strongest manner, the erection of this bridge, which violates 1861 every canon of decency and taste, and for the building of which no reason exists except that a larger amount of compensation would have to be given if it were erected elsewhere. Certainly, the construction of this line will not benefit the transmission of the American mails by one hair's breadth. In Dublin popular feeling is strongly against the proposal, and I do not think, to use the words of the hon. Member for North Belfast (Mr. Ewart) that any sane man would put his money into it. If he did, I am satisfied he would never get it back again; and it is quite certain that the Dublin, Wicklow, and Woxford Railway Company, who for years have only been paying 1 per cent, can never afford to find the money. I maintain that no reason has been assigned to justify the suspension of the Standing Orders. No doubt the slumbering energies of the Gentlemen who promote the Bill have been awakened, because some other well-considered project of a practical nature is now before the House. They want now to euchre the supporters of this rival project by running their own scheme, and evading the regulations of this House, which require full and adequate notice to be given of their intention. I am glad the hon. Member for Cambridge is with us in opposing the Bill; and I would ask you, Mr. Speaker, as a point of Order, whether it is in Order for any hon. Member to make an omnibus Motion of this kind for the suspension of the Standing Orders en bloc?
§ MR. SPEAKER
A Motion for the suspension of more than one Standing Order has frequently been made. The Motion, however, now before the House is not for the suspension of the Standing Orders, that Motion having been rendered unnecessary by the lapse of time. The Motion now is "that the Bill be now considered."
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
If the Motion that the Bill be now considered is agreed to, will the Standing Orders be suspended?
§ THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (Mr. COURTNEY) (Cornwall, Bodmin)
I was unwilling to interrupt the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for North Longford (Mr. T. M. Healy), although I was quite aware that 1862 a greater part of his speech was based on a misconception, seeing that there is no Motion, at the present moment, before the House for the suspension of the Standing Orders. If the consideration of the Bill had been moved last week, such a Motion would have been necessary; but the three days referred to have now lapsed, and therefore the objection which has been taken to the Motion by the hon. and learned Member for North Longford on Parliamentary grounds entirely fails. I did not interrupt the hon. and learned Member, because I am bound to say that, although the present Motion involves no suspension of the Standing Orders, still if the House approves of it, it will be necessary to move the Suspension, afterwards, of the Standing Orders. I may point out that only this Session, Motions of this kind involving the suspension of the Standing Orders have repeatedly been made and agreed to. It has been found necessary, constantly, towards the end of the Session to suspend the Standing Orders in order to facilitate the passing of a Bill to which there has been no opposition; and, up to this time, there has been no opposition to this Bill. In respect of the measure itself, the hon. and learned Member has said that he has really no objection to the Bill except on the ground of the bridge it is proposed to construct over the Liffey. He adds that if the bridge were built somewhere else the Bill might be allowed to pass. Now, this is a Bill which was brought in and passed in the year 1884, when the whole question of the construction of this railway and its effect upon the City of Dublin were argued before a Committee of this House, and again before a Committee of the House of Lords. In order to meet the objections of the Corporation of Dublin, a clause—Clause 11—was put in for the protection of that city in reference to the mode in which the line was to be carried across Beresford Place.
§ MR. COURTNEY
Quite true; but that question was fully considered in 1884, and this clause was put in for the protection of the City of Dublin, as far as the Committee thought it ought to be protected. The present Bill proceeds on 1863 the basis of that Act. That Act contains certain financial arrangements for carrying on the works, and the Bill now introduced is simply a modification of the financial arrangements contained in the Act of 1884. It is, then, on all fours with the Manchester Ship Canal Bill of the present year, which simply qualified the financial arrangements which were considered and authorized in a former Bill. It was held upon that Bill that it would be quite irrelevant and improper to re-open the question of the Manchester Ship Canal except in relation to the financial arrangements. In the case of the present Bill, the whole question re-opened is the reconstruction of the financial arrangements sanctioned by Parliament in the Act of 1884. By Clause 3 it is provided that—The guarantees authorised to he granted under the Act of 1884 as amended by this Act and by this Act by the throe Companies respectively or any of them may by the said Companies or any of them from time to time granting such guarantee attached to any portion of the share or stock capital specified in such guarantee or guaranteees to the exclusion of any mortgages or of the debenture stock or of any other portion or portions of the said share or stock capital. And the guarantees granted by the said Companies or any of them in respect of any shares or stock shall attach to such specific shares or stock, and the holders thereof shall be entitled to all the benefits of such guarantees to the exclusion of all persons or Corporations whether proprietors in or creditors of the Company or of the separate undertaking of the City of Dublin Junction Railways or otherwise howsoever.The present Bill is to give the promoters an opportunity of carrying out this new financial scheme, to which no objection is raised by anybody. It is quite true that the Bill has been proceeded with hurriedly. I understand that the Corporation of Dublin applied for copies of the Bill, and that they were supplied with them on the 29th of June, so that they had an ample opportunity for framing their opposition. The Bill itself came before me, and it was after it was disposed of in Committee that this opposition was got up. It has over and over again been permitted by promoters, by the favour of the House, towards the end of the Session, to suspend the Standing Orders, and the whole point which the House can now consider is this, not whether the Act of 1884 was or was not a perfect Bill, nor whether the rival scheme—which I now hear of for the first time—should or should not be sanc- 1864 tioned. It is not a rival scheme, as a matter of fact, because, as I understand, it is a scheme for connecting the Great Southern and Western Railway with Westland Row, whereas the present scheme is to connect the Great Northern Railway with Westland Row. The whole matter is whether the House will alter the financial arrangements which actually concern the right of the guarantors in a way that will not affect the character of the former undertaking. I think the House will be acting strictly in accordance with every precedent if it consents to consider the Bill, and orders it to be read a third time.
§ THE LORD MAYOR OF DUBLIN (Mr. T. D. SULLIVAN) (Dublin, College Green)
In reply to some of the observations which have been made by the hon. Gentleman the Chairman of Ways and Means, who has just sat down, I wish to say that the view which we take of the matter is this, that although this Bill is not a Bill for the construction of a railway line, it is a Bill to enable the promoters to construct a line. Now the Corporation of Dublin and a large number of the influential and the respectable citizens of that city have given from the outset a steady and persistent opposition to this scheme. When this loop-line was before Parliament some years ago it was advocated mainly on the allegation that it would greatly facilitate the transfer of the mails between Holyhead and Queenstown. That argument seems now to be dropped by the promoters of the scheme, and, as a matter of fact, this loop-line would not expedite the transmission of the mails by more than a very few minutes, because the route is most circuitous and complicated. Between that time and this, however, another scheme has been proposed, which, although it has not as yet been passed into law, would really facilitate the transmission of the mails between England and Ireland, by way of Holyhead and Queenstown. That is the junction line between Kingsbridge and a point a little below Westland Row. The adoption of that scheme would entirely supersede all necessity for this loop-line so far as the transfer of the mails is concerned, or, as we heard on a former occasion, the transmission of troops from England to Ireland. That junction line has already passed through Committee, and if we are asked whether any 1865 delay is likely to take place in passing it into law, I do not thick it lies in the mouth of the supporters of this Bill to complain, seeing that they have delayed the construction of the loop-line they have been authorized to make for at least three or four years. And let me point out that the line of the Dublin, Wicklow and Wexford Company will cross on the level no less than 16 streets in the City of Dublin, and will sweep around the finest building in that city on arches or on iron tressels, forming one of the most hideous objects it is possible to conceive. It has been stated that we must put up with this vandalism on account of the facilities the line will afford for the transmission of the American mails. That consideration is now removed, because another and a better means of facilitating the transit of the mails is now being passed into law. It has, I believe, passed Committees of both Houses of Parliament, and what I would say to English Members in reference to the matter is that as it is the English Parliament which has made Dublin poor, let this Parliament leave the citizens of Dublin, at any rate, what little remains of the beauty of our city. Some day or other we believe that Dublin may be made a great and prosperous city; in the meantime, in this stage of the relations between England and Ireland, I ask the House not to destroy the finest prospect we have in Dublin. In every civilized city in the world respect has been paid and value attached to objects of architectural beauty. The Corporation of Dublin have opposed this Bill from the beginning. A meeting was recently held in the Mansion House by the citizens of Dublin in opposition to the measure, and at that meeting speeches were delivered of a strong and highly persuasive character by some of the leading and most eminent men in Dublin. What has been represented to be the great reason for making this line is now removed, and I venture to say that the scheme should not be pushed forward against the will of the Representatives of the people of Dublin. A vast majority of the people of that city are opposed to the scheme, and I appeal to the House of Commons not to endorse it. The difficulty, in regard to the conveyance of the mails, which has been referred to by 1866 the Postmaster General, will be otherwise provided for, and the Bill, which has already passed through most of its stages, in both Houses of Parliament can be passed into law in a very brief interval. I think it would be a most unnecessary act of vandalism and barbarism to do anything to sanction the construction of this most objectionable line.
§ MR. CHANCE (Kilkenny, S.)
I do not know whether the House fully understands what the question is that is now before it. A number of hon. Gentlemen have addressed the House in favour of the Bill, but not one of them has made any reference, in detail, to the provisions of the measure. Therefore, I will tell the House, shortly, what that Bill is. As far as I can gather from the Act which was passed in 1884, the Dublin, Wicklow, and Wexford Railway Company obtained power to make this wretched loop-line which passes over 16 streets in Dublin, and disfigures the Custom House, not only did the House give that power, but although this loop-line will naturally form part of the Dublin, Wicklow, and Wexford Railway system, it will give power to the Company to treat the undertaking as a separate undertaking, with a separate capital. That is to say, that the Company was so doubtful of the success of the undertaking that they induced the House to make it a separate undertaking, so as not to inflict upon the general system the consequences of any failure of the project. I believe it is a fact that the shareholders of the Dublin, Wicklow, and Wexford Line only get a dividend of 1 per cent. It is now complained that in spite of all the exceptional facilities which Parliament gave, no fraction of the capital has been raised—not a single individual has been found who has been foolish enough to put one penny into the undertaking. In addition, certain guarantees are given by the Dublin, Wicklow, and Wexford Railway Company, the Great Northern of Ireland Railway Company, and the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company, and power was given to pay interest preferentially, and to grant guarantees and enter into agreements. It may be asked what this Company will do if the Bill passes? The Company will proceed to cross the City of Dublin in order to bring the American 1867 mails, not only to Dublin, but through Dublin to the north of the city, and then along the north side of Dublin by a circuit of nine or ten miles, to the Kingsbridge terminus; the line extending along nearly three sides of a triangle. Now the city of Belfast is alone interested in this question, and I ask the House to consider this point; that so far as Belfast is concerned she does not at the present moment send her North of England and Scotch mail traffic to Dublin at all; she sends it in another direction; but, nevertheless, the people of Belfast ask for these exceptional powers for their own benefit. It is from the South of Ireland that the American mails are most satisfactorily carried, and this Bill will prevent the American mails from being carried direct to Queenstown. The Bill is altogether for the benefit of Belfast; and those who send the Scotch mails through Belfast send them without their touching Dublin at all. A very few passengers indeed will be sent over this route, and it is for the benefit of those few passengers that this new route is to be devised to the absolute disfigurement of Dublin, and the injury of the city of Cork. I trust the House will pause before it assents to the Bill. It is a Bill which gives extraordinary and exceptional powers to a Railway Company to create a new Company in which they have no actual interest themselves. I hope that the House will decline to deal with the matter in its present shape.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I wish to submit to you, Mr. Speaker, a point of Order in regard to this matter. You will observe, Sir, that the Motion stands on the Paper as an adjourned debate, and as an adjourned debate on a proposal to suspend certain Standing Orders, after which it is proposed to move "that the Bill be now taken into consideration." The Motion on the Paper was that which hon. Members have come down to this House to discuss; but, subsequently, I understood you to rule from the Chair that that Motion had been withdrawn—that is to say, that the debate on the Question upon which the debate was adjourned last week would not be taken, and that the Motion for resuming the adjourned debate was withdrawn. That being so, a new question has been started, and started, as I submit, without Notice. What I 1868 wish to put to you, Sir, is this—Whether, in regard to a Bill which hon. Gentlemen could have had no previous opportunity of discussing a new question without Notice, ought to be raised by an hon. Member simply taking off his hat at the Table when the Motion is one of which we have had no Notice whatever? What I submit is that the greatest inconvenience will arise if promoters are allowed to start in this House fresh questions without Notice, and to withdraw without Notice a Motion for the adjournment of the debate, thus taking the original question out of the purview of Members of this House. Having regard to the period of the Session at which this Motion is made, I respectfully submit that the Rules of the House, instead of being relaxed, ought to be maintained with the greatest stringency; and, therefore, I think the Motion ought now to drop as if it had never been made, and that the promoters should be left to their own devices hereafter. I maintain that a new precedent is now being made with regard to Private Bills, which will be keenly watched by learned counsel and by promoters generally with regard to the pushing forward, at late periods of the Session, Bills against which objection may be taken. I think, Sir, that your ruling, in a case of this kind, will be of great importance, and that some result in one way or another will necessarily follow your decision.
§ MR. SPEAKER
In reply to the hon. and learned Gentleman, I may say that I do not think there has been any deviation from the ordinary practice. I hold in my hand the Notice deposited in the Private Bill Office, which states that the Bill would be taken into consideration on Friday July 22nd, and a Motion was accordingly placed on the Paper for the suspension of certain Standing Orders. But when the Motion was called on in the usual course, objection was taken to it, and the debate was adjourned. Part of the Notice given was that the Bill be now taken into consideration, which means "that the Bill be now considered." That was sufficient Notice. The reason why the suspension of the Standing Orders is not pressed was that the suspension of the Standing Orders has been rendered unnecessary by the mere lapse of time. If the Motion had been taken before the three days had expired, the Standing Orders would 1869 necessarily have been applicable, but i owing to the lapse of time the necessity of suspension no longer exists. I think there has been ample Notice of the Question "that the Bill be now taken into consideration."
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
I speak both as a Northern Representative and as a citizen of Dublin. I quite agree that the construction of this bridge may cause some disfigurement to the city; but, on the other hand, there can be no doubt that the North of Ireland would benefit very greatly, inasmuch as it would mean the continuance of the American Mail Service viâ Dublin and Queenstown. There ought to have been a central station in Dublin years ago, and it cannot be denied that in consequence of the absence of proper facilities for through communication, a great fear now exists lest the American Mail Service may be lost. I waited, as one of the deputation, upon the Postmaster General last year upon that subject, and we were distinctly warned that unless a connection were made between Kingsbridge and Westland Row, it would be impossible to continue the existing service of the American mails. The hon. and learned Member for North Longford says that this Bill has nothing to do with the American mails, but the hon. and learned Member knows perfectly well that when the mails are now run to Westland Row, they have to be transferred and driven across the city to Kingsbridge, whereas if this line were constructed, they would be taken by rail to Kingsbridge, and time would be saved.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
I know that there is a danger of disfiguring the city if the line is constructed as proposed; and if hon. Members could assure me that the rival line has any chance of being made, and that the capital for its construction is guaranteed, I might be induced to alter my vote; but, seeing the absolute certainty of the American Mail Service being lost to Ireland, unless something is done speedily, I prefer to pay regard to the prosperity of the country, and I shall vote for the Motion.
§ MR. MAURICE HEALY (Cork)
The hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) has said that he will vote for this Bill because there is a danger 1870 that, if it does not pass, Dublin may lose the American mails. He further believes that if the Bill were passed to enable the American mails to be conveyed direct to Kingsbridge, and then on to Queenstown, he should prefer that route; but he thinks there is no probabilty of that line being made now. Although we must remember that that Bill has not yet been passed into law, and will not come into operation for, perhaps, a month or two, the line which the present Bill relates to was passed some years ago. I therefore cannot agree that the House has anything before it to induce it to arrive at the conclusion that the line in connection with which the present Bill has been introduced has had a better chance of being more speedily made than the line which is dealt with by the Bill now before the House. One great objection we take to the Motion has reference to the question of Notice. We say that it comes before the House by surprise. We say that hon. Members generally have not had a full and adequate opportunity of considering the important questions which are dealt with by the Bill. We say that the Bill has been sprung upon this House, and sprung upon the public of Ireland, in a manner for which we were altogether unprepared. I do not allege that there has been any wilful attempt to mislead the House and the public; but I say that the proceedings of the promoters of the Bill have been of a character to produce that impression. Therefore, I beg to move the adjournment of the debate.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Maurice Healy.)
§ THE FIRST LORD (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)
Seeing that the question has been discussed now for an hour and a half, I think a decision may be taken without a further adjournment.
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
I rise to support the Motion for the adjournment of the debate, and I do so for this reason—because I think some further time should be given to Members of this House to consider the question, and look more fully into it. In my opinion, it is a question which ought really to be left to the decision of the Irish people. Probably there may be a few Irish 1871 Members who are in favour of the scheme; but there is not the slightest doubt that the majority of the Irish Members against the scheme is at least five to one. There is no division among the Irish Party as to the merits of the Bill; and their opinion is not shared by one Party alone, for one of the first hon. Members to speak against the Bill was a Member of the Conservative Party opposite—the hon. Member for Cambridge. The chief ground on which I oppose the Bill is that not a single reason has yet been given in favour of the scheme.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I must remind the hon. Member that the question before the House is the adjournment of the debate.
§ MR. DILLON
I do not propose to go into the merits of the Bill; but I rose to support the Motion for Adjournment, in order to afford the English Members an opportunity of considering the question, and talking it over privately with the Irish Members before they come to a final decision. The question to us who live in the City of Dublin, and who take an interest in everything which concerns the welfare of that city, is a very important question. There cannot be the slightest doubt that the construction of this line will disfigure the City of Dublin; and as that is a matter of the highest importance to Dublin, I think it is a desirable thing that the debate should be adjourned, in order that the English Members should have an opportunity of considering the matter, instead of prolonging the discussion, as it must be prolonged if a final decision is to be taken now.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I hope the Government will consent to the adjournment of the debate. The Motion has now assumed an entirely different aspect from that which it had upon the Notice Paper, in which it is stated that it was a Motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders. A very strong feeling has been expressed upon the question by three of the Irish Judges—including Mr. Justice Harrison and Baron Dowse. I therefore submit that the Government ought to accept the proposal now made, taking into consideration the manner in which the Bill has been dealt with, and attempted to be smuggled through the House. I should certainly like to hear what the Parlia- 1872 mentary Under Secretary for Ireland has to say in regard to the matter.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDER SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Colonel KING-HARMAN) (Kent, Isle of Thanet)
In the first place, I would ask the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. M. Healy), who has moved the adjournment of the debate, to withdraw the Motion. The question has been very fully discussed already, and I believe that if the House goes to a Division on the Main Question the measure will in all probability be thrown out. It has been opposed strongly by my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge, and objections have been urged against the disfigurement of the city. I may say that although. I supported the Motion on a previous occasion, I only did so because I was of opinion that some communication should be made between Westland Row and Kings-bridge. If any other scheme could be proposed by which the same object could be carried out in a less objectionable manner, I should have been prepared to support it.
§ MR. COURTNEY
Upon the question which ha3 been raised by the hon. and learned Member for North Longford, that this is a new Motion, I must point out that I have already explained that the Motion, as it stands on the Paper, consists of three things—First, that certain Standing Orders should be suspended; secondly, that the Bill be now taken into consideration; and, thirdly, there is a provision that amended prints should have been previously deposited. The time has now elapsed for the suspension of the Standing Orders, and copies of the Bill have been actually deposited, so that the only remaining Motion is, "That the Bill be now considered." The hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) says that further time is required for the discussion of the matter; but I may remind him that the real point under discussion now is not the construction of the bridge across the Liffey, or the making of this railway. Those points were settled by the Act of 1834, and the question now before the House is simply the propriety of altering the financial arrangements as they were originally made. The only question to be considered is the financial question, and I submit that no sufficient reason has been given why the Bill should not be considered.
§ MR. CHANCE
I trust the House will pause before they allow the Bill to be considered now. I do not believe there are a dozen English Members in the House who have taken the trouble to look at the Bill, and I think that if there was an adjournment, and they did look at the Bill, they would assuredly vote against it. I think it is a monstrous thing that English Members, who are very imperfectly acquainted with the nature of the question raised by the measure, should be prepared to go into the Lobby against the unanimous wish of the Irish Members, without taking the trouble of studying the provisions of the Bill.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. DILLON
I now rise for the purpose of asking hon. Members on the other side of the House to declare themselves on this question. The reason why I supported the adjournment of the debate was that, while we had had an overwhelming declaration from the Members who represent Ireland, we had heard no declaration from hon. Members opposite as to what their view is. We are, therefore, in darkness as to the course about to be adopted by the Government or by hon. Members opposite. The only person who gave us any indication of the views of the Government was the Postmaster General, and his statement, as far as we could understand it, was that the Government were strongly in favour of the Bill. So far as he was concerned, he was in favour of it for one reason, and one reason only—namely, that it would facilitate the transmission of the American mails. But that argument has been shown to be altogether erroneous, because there is a better scheme already before the House. The present scheme, in relation to the transmission of the American mails, is an extremely bad one, and makes a most ineffectual provision for the conveyance of the mails. It is not questioned that if this line were constructed it would only accelerate the transmission of the mails by about 10 minutes. The point really before the House is whether this line should be constructed or not, because, as I understand, the promoters 1874 cannot construct it without the passing of this Bill. That is the reason they have brought the Bill forward. We all know that it is an expensive matter to bring in a Private Bill, and I want to know why the line has not been constructed long ago? I think we ought to have some slight indication of what the opinion of the Government is before we consent to go to a Division. I was stopped just now by you, Sir, in discussing the merits of the Bill, because the question before the House was simply a Motion for the adjournment of the debate. I do not profess to understand the whole merits of the question; but what I do say is this—it is a proposal which is intensely obnoxious to the citizens of Dublin, a proposal deliberately to destroy one of the finest views in the whole City of Dublin, and utterly to destroy the appearance of the most beautiful building in it. Anybody who will cross the O'Connell Bridge, and look down towards the Custom House, will agree with what I say. It must further be borne in mind that no single reason has been given to the House in favour of the Bill. I am at a loss to know on what grounds the persons who are interested in the measure propose to invest their money in it, because I am convinced that they will never see a single shilling of it back. Not a single ton of goods will pass over the line in the course of a day, and there will be very few passengers, except those who prefer to rush through Dublin without putting up at some hotel for a single half-hour. The line, when constructed, may pay its expenses; but I am satisfied it can never pay interest on the capital invested in it. I am, therefore, at a loss to know what reason has actuated the persons who propose to find the money, I think I am entitled to ask, before such a Bill is passed, that the promoters and others who are interested in it should stand up and give us some special reason in favour of the scheme. No reason whatever has, as yet, been given, and until I hear some satisfactory reason I shall strongly oppose the Bill. In point of fact, what will this Bill do if the line is constructed? It will simply relieve some 20 or 30 passengers in the City of Dublin, for it will enable them to dispense with the necessity of hiring a cab. Surely it cannot be contended 1875 seriously that it is worth while to disfigure the City of Dublin, and spend £300,000, in order to relieve some 20 people daily from the expense of hiring a cab. No goods will go by the line, and no passengers, except those who are in a violent hurry, and the only saving of time will be about 10 minutes. It certainly seems, on the face of it, preposterous that such a Bill should be thrust down the throats of the House of Commons. Therefore, I challenge the promoters of the Bill to stand up and declare what their ideas are in making this proposal.
§ MR. H. S. WRIGHT (Nottingham, S.)
As a Member of the Committee which sat on the Bill promoted by the Great Western and Southern Railway Company I may say that we were strongly impressed by the fact that although the promoters of the present Bill had had three or four years for making their line they had neglected to do so; and there was a great risk of the American mail traffic being lost to Ireland altogether if something was not done without further delay. I believe that in making this statement I am expressing the opinion of the Members of the Committee.
§ COLONEL KING-HARMAN
The hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) has asked me to express my opinion on the matter. All I have to say is that four years ago I was examined before the Committee which passed the present Bill, and, to the best of my recollection, the evidence I gave was to the effect that the bridge proposed to be constructed would certainly disfigure the city, and I think I was supported in that view by almost every gentleman whose opinion was worth having. At the same time, there was a certain extent of feeling in favour of the line being made, because there appeared to be no prospect of any alternative scheme being carried out. There seems now to be every chance of an alternative line being made, by means of which not only will the financial difficulty be got over, but a shorter line will be constructed. I think that will get rid of the difficulties which have hitherto stood in the way of effecting a satisfactory communication between Westland Row and Kingsbridge.
§ Question put, and negatived.