§ Order for Consideration, as amended, read.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That the Bill, as amended, be now considered.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)
Before the House resolves to take this Bill into consideration, I wish, Mr. Speaker, to ask your decision on a point of Order—namely, whether it is in accordance with precedent that when a Vote of the House has been unanimously come to upon a particular point determining that a Bill should not be take a into consideration, it is in Order in consequence of some technicality to evade that decision, and within three days afterwards to re-thresh out the same subject. If that is a course in accordance with precedent it is one 313 which may be repeated over and over again. I therefore ask whether it will be in Order to permit the present Motion to be put in view of the fact that the House practically cams to a unanimous determination upon the matter last Monday?
§ MR. SPEAKER
It is quite true, as the hon. and learned Gentleman has stated, that the question which the House is now asked to consider was virtually decided the other evening; but technically the Motion that the Bill be now considered having been negatived, does not prevent the same Bill being brought on for consideration 24 hours afterwards. It is a technical point upon which I have no power to interfere, whatever I may think of the proceeding now taken to re-open the matter again. As a point of Order, it is not in my power to stop this proceeding.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
Then I will ask the Government to say whether, under these circumstances, they will consent to the time of the House being wasted, as it must necessarily be, in an acrimonious discussion which will probably last for several hours, and which is simply going over the same ground that was gone over on Monday, or whether they will not support a Motion for the adjournment of the consideration of the Bill for three months, or any other Motion that will kill the Bill?
§ LORD CLAUD HAMILTON (Liverpool, West Derby)
In supporting the Motion that Standing Orders 223 and 243 be suspended, and that the Bill be now rend a second time, I wish to call the attention of the House to the facts of the case.
§ MR. SPEAKER
We have not reached that Motion yet. The Question before the House is that the Bill be now considered.
§ MR. P. M'DONALD (Sligo, N.)
I rise for the purpose of moving that this Bill be considered on this day three months. As has already been stated by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for North Longford, the Bill was debated at considerable length on Monday, and virtually and practically the sense of the House was expressed on that occasion in the unanimous rejection of the Bill. By a technicality, however, the promoters of the Bill are enabled, under the Rules of the House, 314 to bring forward the measure again, and to require us to go over the same ground, and I am afraid that considerable time will be occupied unless the Government, in their wisdom, take what I believe would be the proper course for them to take, and cut the matter short by insisting that if we must go to a vote we should do so at once. I consider that it is totally unnecessary for me to travel over the arguments which I used on the last occasion; and, therefore, I shall simply confine myself to one or two observations, one of which is that, notwithstanding the unanimous expression of opinion on the part of the House on Monday evening, the promoters of the Bill have utilized the time which has elapsed since in getting up through the medium of the Lobby an amount of support which, in my opinion, is undeserving of the consideration of the House. I admit that there are some of my Friends sitting on those Benches who differ with me on that point. It is not, however, a Party Question which is now occupying the attention of the House; and, consequently, We are at perfect liberty to take different sides on the question, as no doubt we shall do on all other matters where we are not bound by Party ties. I shall say no more on this subject, but shall simply move that the Bill be taken into consideration on this day three months.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the Word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the Words "upon this day throe months."—[Mr. Peter M'Donald.)
§ Question proposed, '' That the Word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ DR. KENNY (Cork, S.)
I will ask the Government whether, considering the great waste of time which must take place if this Bill, which has already been discussed, is to be again considered, and the very important work delayed in which the House will be engaged in a very short time—whether they "will not use their power to cut short the discussion. If not, we shall feel bound to enter into it at length, and certainly a very considerable waste of time must take place. I think it would be better to put an end to the discussion by taking a Division at once, without wasting further time in debate.
§ LORD CLAUD HAMILTON
I would also make an appeal to the Government, but in a different sense from the appeal that has been made by the hon. Member who has just sat down. This Bill came forward for consideration on Monday last, when there was, from circumstances to which it is not necessary to allude, a very thin House. Many of those who support the Bill were unaware that it was coming on, and through a misconception, my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast (Mr. Ewart), who is in charge of the Bill, failed to challenge a Division on that occasion. Therefore, those who are in favour of the Bill thought that they were justified in bringing it forward again on the earliest possible occasion, and I must apologize for taking a leading part in support of it, seeing that I am not an Irish Member. I do so, however, because I have for years taken a deep interest in the Irish mail contract. Many hon. Members will be aware that I took an active part in bringing about the rescinding of the contract with the London and North-Western Railway Company with regard to the Irish mails, and in procuring it for the Irish Mail Packet Company; and I hold that the measure now before the House is intimately connected with that great mail service. I should like to explain to the House that this is merely an enabling Bill to sanction a step for raising money to carry out the provisions of a Bill that was passed into an Act a few years ago. It is not a Bill to carry out a new scheme, but merely an enabling Bill for raising money to carry out a scheme which has already been sanctioned. As, however, that scheme itself has been challenged by several hon. Members from Ireland, I will, with the leave of the House, make one or two observations in explanation of the original Bill. The Bill of the Dublin, Wicklow, and Wexford Railway Company provides for the construction of a high level line of railway between West-land Row and the Amiens Street Station in Dublin. That Bill places the North of Dublin physically in connection with the railway system in the southern part of the city, and thereby confers an enormous boon upon the inhabitants of Dublin, both as regards the passage of goods and the conveyance of passengers. It places within the reach of the North of Dublin the whole of the well-known 316 seaside district on the South-West, which is now almost inaccessible to them, and it will, if constructed, be in every respect for the benefit of the City of Dublin. It does more than that, however, because it places the Province of Ulster in railway connection with the Port of Kingstown, where the English and Irish mails twice a day are received and exported, and it also places the South of Ireland in direct physical connection with the same port of Kingstown, thereby bringing the whole of Ireland—North, East, West, and South—in connection with Kingstown. I know that it will be said by some hon. Members that another scheme winch has been projected to form a junction running on to the Kingsbridge Station in Dublin will be preferable to this scheme; but I will point out that if that scheme is carried into effect, the Province of Ulster, which is the richest and most prosperous province in Ireland, will be altogether cut off from any physical connection with the Port of Kingstown. It is said that the City of Dublin is opposed to this scheme. Now, what are the true facts of the case? The Chamber of Commerce in Dublin, as nobody will deny, represents the true commercial interests of that City. [Cries of "No, no!" from Irish Members.] Then if the Chamber of Commerce does not represent the commerce of Dublin what does?
§ LORD CLAUD HAMILTON
It is always supposed that a Chamber of Commerce represents the commercial interests of the town in which it exists, but if the Chamber of Commerce does not represent the material commercial interests of Dublin, does the Press of Dublin afford any representation of the real feeling of the inhabitants of that City, because I find that the three leading morning papers in Dublin—The Dublin Express, The Irish Times, and The Freeman's Journal, as well as the two evening papers—The Evening Mail and The Evening News—all contain articles in favour of this scheme, and all of them condemn the action taken, no doubt in perfect good faith, by hon. Members the other night in opposing the scheme? Now, I want to point out to hon. Members who come from Ireland that this is not the 317 time of day when We can afford to show any division of front in regard to this great mail service, which has been of such marked benefit, not only to Dublin, but to Ireland. Many hon. Members who now represent Irish constituencies have not long been in this House, and therefore may be unaware of what took place a few years ago in regard to this mail question. It was proposed by the Government of the day to give the conveyance of the Irish mails to the London and North-Western Railway Company, at any rate with regard to the passage across the Irish Channel. Well, what happened? In the first time in my experience—I wish the occasions were less rare—every person in Ireland, every Irish Representative in this House banded together in favour of the retention of the Irish mails in the hands of an Irish Company, having offices in Dublin and working from Dublin. When they presented such a unanimous front to the Imperial Parliament, the Imperial Parliament at once gave way and handed over to the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company, the Mail Packet Service. Do hon. Members suppose that if the people of Ireland ceased to show their interest in this subject, that when the contract comes up for revision, Parliament will again consent to act in this way? Do hon. Members suppose that if the Province of Ulster is to be excluded, and you persist in giving her no physical connection with Kingstown, you will induce the Representatives of Ulster to co-operate with the other Irish Representatives in securing the mail service for Dublin, or that you are likely to get a renewal of the contract? It is because I am desirous of doing all I can in favour of the continuance of the present mail service that I support the present Bill. If we pass this Bill, and enable the scheme which was passed three years ago to be carried out, the mails will be distributed from the capital of Ireland to every part of the country, and we shall have an unbroken front, and be able to act together in future as We have in the past. I am sorry to trespass so long upon the time of the House, but the matter is one of the highest importance to Ireland. Let me ask what is the opinion of Her Majesty's Government on the subject, as represented by the Post Office? The Postmaster General, speaking for the Govern- 318 ment on the ground of utility and also of economy, has already expressed himself strongly in favour of the scheme. To anybody who knows Ireland, the reasons of the right hon. Gentleman are obvious. It is evident that if yon make Amiens Street the Central Railway Station in Ireland for the distribution of the mails, there will be but one service from the post office, which is situated only half a-mile from Amiens Street, and from Amiens Street the American mails can be delivered without a break, and will reach all parts of Ireland much more quickly than they do now.
§ LORD CLAUD HAMILTON
If the hon. and learned Member will allow me, I "will explain. Connecting lines will be made between Westland Row and Amiens Street, and the train will proceed direct with the English passengers and mails from Kingstown to Amiens Street. From Amiens Street the mails and passengers will proceed direct by the Great Northern line to Ulster, while the mails intended for the Midland Great Western Railway will go down by a loop line, the other mails being conveyed to the Great Southern and Western Railway direct to the City of Cork and Queenstown. In that way there will be no loss of time whatever. The physical connection will be perfect, and all parts of Ireland will be united in one great mail system. I would ask hon. Members to look at this question from a broad point of view, and let us pass this enabling measure, which is no new measure, but only a Bill to give effect to an Act of Parliament which has already been passed, and in regard to which I have shown the House that the results would be of a most satisfactory nature.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)
Having been appealed to by the hon. Gentleman opposite, I wish to say that any assistance I can give to bring this discussion to a close I shall be exceedingly glad to give.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
The hon. Gentleman must be well aware that the Government have no control over Private Bill legislation; that it is in the 319 power of hon. Members to discuss all questions relating to Private Bill legislation, and that there is no power on the part of the Government to prevent them from doing so; but I trust that under the peculiar circumstances of the case, the House will be content with one speech in reply to the speech of the noble Lord behind me, and then will consent to divide. [Cries of "No, no!"] Hon. Gentlemen say "No, no!"
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
My only anxiety is to arrive at the consideration of the much more important measure which stands on the Paper with as little delay as possible, and I appeal to hon. Members in perfect good faith to assist the House in doing so. I know the importance of this particular measure, and I desire that the opinion of the House should be expressed upon it; but after the debate which took place on Monday last, I think the House is in possession of sufficient information to enable it to arrive at a decision at once. It seems to me that the speech of the noble Lord ought to be replied to; but that there is no necessity for a prolongation of the debate, either in the interests of hon. Gentlemen opposite, or of the whole House.
§ SIR JOSEPH M'KENNA (Monaghan, S.)
The noble Lord the Member for Liverpool (Lord Claud Hamilton), in support of the Motion that the Bill should be now considered, referred to his own experience as a Member of this House. Now, not only in regard to length, of service, but also in respect of knowledge of Ireland, I think I have as strong a claim as the noble Lord to be heard. As to the motives of hon. Members who support the Bill, I have no doubt that they are of the highest order, and I will say nothing in regard to the assertion that the newspapers of Dublin are in favour of this arrangement. I will say nothing, except that it would be an unfortunate thing if we were to discuss the questions that come before us mainly upon the ground that they are supported by such and such newspapers, instead of inquiring into the merits of the case ourselves. This Bill relates to an Act of Parliament which has already been passed, and that has been assigned us a reason why we 320 should pass the present Bill. What I would now ask is, why is this Bill before the House? Is it because those in charge have thought so little about the measure, knowing that it is strongly opposed by the inhabitants of Dublin, that they have not thought it worth their while to go on with the Bill already passed, but have allowed the powers which they obtained some three years ago to lapse? Although the question has come upon me somewhat by surprise, I do not think that I am in the slightest degree misstating the facts of the case. If, however, the Act has lapsed in respect of its most important powers, what is the reason which induces the promoters to come forward again now? They are coining forward, as a matter of fact, simply for the purpose of killing another Bill. [Cries of "Oh!"] Well, I go no further than to say that that is my opinion, and I would appeal to my experience in Ireland, my experiences in this House, and the experience of hon. Members opposite in regard to the course I have taken upon any public question which has been brought before Parliament, to say whether I have ever attempted to censure the conduct of individuals lightly. I may add that I have no interest, even to the extent of one shilling, in this Bill, nor in the other competing Bill which has already passed all but its last stages in both House of Parliament; but I do maintain that that Bill is a much preferable measure to this by which the Dublin, Wicklow, and Wexford Company are now attempting to revive the discarded Act. In the first place, the Act which they are attempting to revive I assert would create a great eyesore in the City of Dublin. It proposes to carry a railway by means of bridges across the River Liffey, between Carlisle Bridge and the Custom House of Dublin, a building of which we are very proud. Moreover, I challenge any engineering authority acquainted with the subject to show that the line which has already been sanctioned by Parliament, and by means of which it is proposed to unite the Great Northern Railway System of Ireland with the Kingstown and Dublin Line, will lessen the journey within half-an-hour so much as the time I that will be saved by another line also before this House, which proposes to connect the Great Southern and 321 Western System with the Kingstown and Dublin Line. That Bill creates no eyesore, but it provides a new service, which, will be of extreme value to the people of Dublin and to the people of the surrounding district, and it will extend for about five or six miles, from Booterstown to Inchicore. I would ask hon. Members who can know very little about the merits of the case to place some confidence in the opinion of Members from Ireland who really do know something about it. I have travelled, at one time or another, in all 100,000 miles over the Great Southern and Western and the Dublin and Kings town Railways, and therefore I know every inch of the ground, and the direction it is proposed to take from West-land Row by Booterstown; and, as a man of the world, it appears to me that the connections it is intended to form by means of the Great Southern and Western Bill is infinitely the better one, and would be more economical, and more for the interests of the people of Dublin, than that which is now attempted to be carried out.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON (Armagh, N.)
This is a very important measure, and I am sorry to interpose between the House and the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Maurice Healy) and the hon. and learned Member for North Longford (Mr. T. M. Healy).
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
Probably the hon. and learned Member will have the opportunity of making 40 or 50 speeches later on in the evening, and my rising now will afford him a little breathing time.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
As a point of Order, may I ask, Mr. Speaker, whether, upon an occasion when I did not rise at all in any way to attract the attention of the House, it is regular for the hon. and gallant Gentleman to taunt me, as a reason why he should be allowed to speak, with intentions to make 40 or 50 speeches later on in the evening?
§ MR. SPEAKER
I hope the hon. and gallant Gentleman will not insist upon any imputation of that kind.
§ MR. MAURICE HEALY (Cork)
The hon. and gallant Gentleman also referred to me. I also say that I did not rise at all, nor have I any intention of speaking on the Bill.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
I did not intend to cast any taunt or imputation upon the hon. and learned Member for North Longford. Perhaps the two hon. Gentlemen only intend to make 30 speeches between them. [Cries of "Order!" and "Withdraw!"] This Bill is of great importance to the locality from which I come, as it is sought to connect Kingstown and Belfast with it by means of the Great Northern Line, and to connect Belfast with Cork by the Great Southern and Western Line. That would be of immense advantage to the whole of Ireland; and I trust that the House will not treat such a proposal lightly. I was happy to hear that the Press of Ireland is strongly supporting the measure. The line which this Company proposes to make is only some two miles longer than that which is proposed to be made by the Great Southern and Western Company; and it would have this great advantage, that it would connect the whole of Ireland. I therefore hope that in any decision at which the House may arrive they will take into account the fact that all parts of Ireland should receive justice. I know that there are many inhabitants of Dublin and many Nationalist Members who oppose the Bill on æsthetic grounds. They believe that it will quite spoil the look of the Liffey.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
Well, at any rate, the Boyne is a better river than the Liffey. The Liffey, at the present moment, is a standing reproach to the resources of modern civilization. It is the main sewer of the town, and nobody who has any respect for himself would ever think of remaining on Carlisle Bridge in order to see what view he could get of the Custom House, he would be likely to be too much occupied, during the time he was on the bridge, with holding his nose to be able to make much use of his eyes. There is one matter which I wish to point out, and that is that the Company are bound by one of the clauses of the Bill to erect a bridge of a most handsome and ornamental description; and I have no doubt that before the final plans for this bridge are decided upon they will be submitted to the Corporation of Dublin, and as the taste of the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton), who will be Lord 323 Mayor, is well known, I have no doubt he will be able to see that the bridge, when erected, will remain a standing-testimony of the æsthetic capabilities of Irish Nationality. I do ask the House to pass the Bill, which I believe will confer the greatest possible advantage upon the whole of Ireland. In regard to the money, all that is wanted to complete the subscription, is a sum of £50,000. Promises have already been received to the extent of £50,000; and if the Bill is passed, there is every guarantee that the Company will at once proceed to carry out the scheme authorized by it. That scheme would have been carried out long ago if it had not been for the fact that the Great Midland Company and the Great Southern Company withdrew from their share of the guarantee. If this Bill is passed, I believe that the line will be completed in the course of a year and a-half.
§ MR. DWYER GRAY (Dublin, St. Stephen's Green)
I do not propose to occupy the time of the House at any length; but after listening to the speech of the hon. and gallant Gentleman I think the promoters of the Bill will be ready to exclaim—"Save us from our friends!" Probably, if the physique of the hon. and gallant Member would allow him, he would be quite ready to make 40 or 50 speeches on any occasion; but it is quite certain that he would not make one of thorn without endeavouring to cram them with little jokes, and say something that was likely to be offensive to someone. Notwithstanding the irritating remarks of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, I must ask the House to allow this Bill to pass. I fully acknowledge the inconvenience of discussing a question twice over. I was not present when the Bill was discussed on the previous occasion, and it appears to me that those who were interested in supporting it by argument were by some accident or other not in the House at the time. I would submit that the opposition to the Bill is not only unfair, but unwise. It is unfair because this Bill is merely a financial measure. The merits of the question whether this loop line should or should not be sanctioned by Parliament was decided three years ago. It was only because two of the Railway Companies who originally gave in their adhesion to the scheme, and were willing to join in the guarantee for the carrying out of the scheme which. 324 was necessary for the purpose of raising the funds, have since receded from the undertaking they entered into at that time, the remaining Company who desire to carry on the scheme are obliged to come to Parliament for further financial powers. I think, therefore, it is unfair to get tip an opposition to the principle of the scheme itself upon this Bill, which simply deals with finance. Indeed, I think that if we follow the spirit of our Standing Orders, it is only the question of finance which should be discussed upon a Financial Bill. As, however, the merits of the scheme have been gone into, I submit that the arguments in favour of allowing the Bill to pass are irresistible. I altogether deny that the Bill has been brought forward now because it is desired to kill a competing Bill which is also on the Notice Paper. I know, as a matter of fact, that this Bill is the result of lone negotiations extending at least over 12 months, entered into between three or four public bodies, for the purpose of endeavouring to get over the difficulties occasioned by two of the Railway Companies originally concerned receding from their guarantee I also deny that this is to be treated as a competing scheme. One of the promoters of the Great Western and Southern Bill said to me, no longer ago than yesterday, that whether the present Bill was passed or not they intended to go on with their Bill. There is nothing whatever to prevent both of the lines connecting the Kingstown Railway with the Southern Railway on the South, and the loop line connecting all the Railways of Dublin with the North, being carried out. It has been urged against this Bill that it would disfigure one of the great buildings of the City of Dublin. Now, I fully acknowledge that that is an objection, and if it could have been possible by defeating this Bill to secure a railway connection between the different railways having termini in Dublin without that objection I should only have been too delighted; but that is utterly impracticable. It is not a fact that there is no obstacle to running the line on the other side of the Custom House, -whore there would be no disfigurement so far as the view from the O'Connell Bridge is concerned, nor is it the fact that the only objection is the opposition of the Port and Docks Board, although, no doubt, the opposition of the Port and Docks Board would probably be fatal to any such 325 scheme. But that is not the sole or the main objection to the running of the line on the other side. If the line were constructed on the other ride it would come on the wrong side of the Great Northern Railway. The Great Northern Railway Company have said all through that they will not permit a connection with their line on that side, because it would involve the coming in of two sets of trains from opposite directions. They maintain that the line must be a continuous one, and that there shall be no risk either of stopping traffic or of bringing about a serious accident. That is an insuperable difficulty to the proposal for carrying the railway by means of a bridge on the other side of the Custom House, because that would necessitate the line itself being brought in on the wrong side of the Great Northern Railway. I am, therefore, in favour of this scheme as the only scheme which will bring that railway system into proper connection with the other lines running from Dublin. I cannot comprehend how my hon. Friends, who are to deeply interested in the welfare of Ireland, fail to recognize the danger which faces them if they decide upon the rejection of this scheme. I think, if there is any doubt on the subject, the remarks which were made by the Postmaster General on Monday ought to have satisfied them. Speaking in his official capacity, he put it with perfect plainness that there is imminent danger of the existing mail service being discontinued, if a connection between the railways having their termini in Dublin is not established. And here, I think, we are able to find the real secret of the reluctance of the Great Southern and Western Railway Company to accept this scheme, and the intrigues in which they have been made the tool in order to defeat any scheme for the complete connection of the railway systems in Dublin. Two or three years ago a proposal was defeated which, would have handed over the Irish Mail Service from the Dublin Steam Packet Company to the London and North-Western Railway Company. The contract which was afterwards entered into has now only six years to run, arid I need not remind hon. Members that the Chairman of the London and North-Western Railway Company has a long sight, and is able to look over a long distance. Now, if it was stated two years ago that Dublin and all the other railway systems 326 would soon be connected, and if it is the fact that the assurance then given has not been carried out, that fact alone may be converted into a strong argument in favour of entering into a new contract in favour of the London and North-Western Railway Company, and their intention to carry the mails direct to Dublin, instead of to Kingstown, would be simply irresistible. There can be no doubt that the Directors of the Great Southern and Western Railway Company are enormously influenced by the London and North-Western Company of England. Why that should be so I do not know, and, without intending to say anything offensive, I must say that I believe the Great Southern and Western Railway Company are the more "cat's-paws" of the London and North-Western Company. If this Bill is defeated, there will be an almost irresistible argument in favour of the London and North-Western Railway Company, and it will be used as a strong weapon in favour of the scheme which was defeated a year or two ago. There would also be the danger of diverting a portion of the mails from Dublin to Stranraer and Larne; and there can be no question that, except in regard to the connection with Kingsbridge and the South, this loop line is the only practical line for the regular conveyance of the mails. No doubt, the other scheme would make the line two miles shorter between Cork and Kingstown than the proposal now before the House; but it would shut out the North altogether. There is a strong feeling in the North of Ireland in favour of this Bill; and if it is defeated through the exertions of the Irish Members, whether rightly or wrongly, an impression will be created that the Irish Members generally have no interest in the prosperity of that part of the country. My opinion is, that whatever connection the House is inclined to adopt, it should be a comprehensive scheme for the advantage of the North of Ireland as well as of the South. That, I think, is the proper position for every Irish Member to take. The idea that the Irish Members, as a body, are antagonistic to the interests of the North of Ireland, is an idea which I take the liberty of repudiating, although there are a great many persons beside the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson) who make that suggestion, and a 327 good many persons in the North, who believe it with regard to the question of convenience. The difference between the two Bills is this. There is now a practical certainty that the money for this scheme will he found. Three responsible Railway Companies have entered into a combination by which they have bound themselves to guarantee £9,000 a-year each, representing, at 4 per cent, a capital of £22,5,000. A citizen of Dublin, Sir Edward Guinness, has undertaken to subscribe £50,000, and there is a guarantee from the Steamship Company to subscribe another £50,000. If the other Bill is carried to a Division I shall vote in favour of it; but it is, at any rate, doubtful whether the money for that scheme will ever be found; We have no kind of assurance, and the prospectus which has been issued by the Company simply states that under certain conditions the Great Southern and Western Railway will provide £100,000. I challenge any supporter of that scheme to say that there is a certainty of the money being subscribed. I have been told, on good authority, that the Great Southern and Western Railway Company have written to the promoters of the Bill, stating that the representations contained in the prospectus are untrue and repudiating them. What they say is that their guarantee goes to this extent only—that if a certain sum of money is subscribed they will also subscribe; but that is a very different thing from giving a guarantee for the subscription of the whole of the capital; and the difficulty of raising the money may be found to be very great. We are, therefore, placed in this position. There is a scheme before Parliament which was passed three years ago, the only opposition to which is an æsthetic one against the disfigurement of an important public building. If, however, the scheme is carried out, all the railway services from Dublin will be provided for in the North as well as in the South, and the money which is necessary to carry it out, to the extent of £300,000, will be available at once. If we are going now to defeat that scheme, and to endanger the carrying out of those Works, the carriage of the American mails to Queenstown, now contracted for by the Mail Packet Company, for which we fought so hard two years ago, will be endangered, and solely because 328 there is another Bill before the House which may or may not be curried out, and which will only do one-third of the work which the present Bill proposes to do. I would entreat all my hon. Friends who have not made up their minds to think once or twice before they record their votes against this Bill. I firmly believe that if they do vote against it they may discover, when it is too late, how great an injury they have done to the interests of Ireland.
§ MR. R. W. DUFF (Banffshire)
As I was Chairman of the Committee which considered the alternative scheme promoted by the Kingstown and Kingsbridge Railway Company, I hope I may be allowed to say a few Words. The point which has been raised here was brought before that Committee, and there can be no doubt that, if the Bill now before the House is accepted, it will practically kill the Bill which has been passed, and upset the decision of the Committee. I am not going to enter into all the points which have been mentioned by the noble Lord the Member for Liverpool (Lord Claud Hamilton); but I may mention one of them, in regard to the Post Office. We had evidence in reference to the Post Office arrangements, and that evidence went to show that the proposed Kingstown and Kingsbridge line would afford a saving of half-an-hour in point of time. At present the mails have to be driven across Dublin, and the alternative scheme will afford a much more rapid means of communication.
§ LORD CLAUD HAMILTON
What are the mails which the hon. Gentleman refers to? There are also the Canadian mails to Londonderry.
§ MR. R. W. DUFF
I refer to the mails to America. The great bulk of the mails from London are carried by the London and North-Western Railway Company. They arrive at Kingstown, and on reaching Dublin have, by previous arrangement, to be taken in cars across Dublin. If this line is constructed they will be taken straight on to Cork. The line which it is proposed to construct under this Bill had more than three years to comply with the provisions of the Act of Parliament; but the Company have never been able to raise the capital to enable them to construct their line. What I say is that if you pass this Bill you will practically upset the decision of the Committee on the Kingstown and Kingsbridge line, and 329 that you will kill a project which this House has already sanctioned. The hon. Member for the St. Stephen's Green Division of Dublin (Mr. Gray; says that this is only to substitute one Company for another; but I maintain that, under the provisions of this Bill, Parliament is called upon to give entirely new financial powers, and powers which ought not to be granted without going into all the points which have been raised. I maintain that if the House consents to pass this Bill, they will practically upset the decision arrived at by a Committee after six days' careful investigation.
§ MR. MURPHY (Dublin, St Patrick's)
The hon. Gentleman who has just spoken says that if we pass the present Bill we shall be upsetting the decision of his Committee. He forgets that if we reject that Bill we should, be upsetting the decision of a previous Committee, who passed the Bill giving powers for the construction of this line. The Bill now before the House does not propose, as far as I can see, to extend the time for the purchase of land, or for the execution of the Works contained in that Bill; and, therefore, so far as the Company are concerned, they are not at present seeking to extend their powers for the purchase of land, or for the construction of this railway in any respect. Personally, I am quite satisfied of the bona fides of the promoters of this undertaking; and anybody who has followed the negotiations which took place for some time after the passing of the original Bill for making this loop line will know that the failure of the Great Southern and Western Company to adhere to their portion of the guarantee, and the difficulty of substituting any other guarantee for that of the Great Southern and Western Company, has been the cause of all the difficulty, and has caused the necessity for the present Bill. I have no doubt of the bona fides of the promoters of the Bill, and I am convinced that if they obtain the present measure their scheme will be carried out. The only tangible opposition I have heard to this scheme is the disfigurement which it may occasion to a particular portion of the City of Dublin. I fully admit that it will be, to a certain extent, a disfigurement to the city. But, although I have given all possible weight to that argument, I do think that the anticipated disfigurement is a good deal exaggerated in people's minds. 330 The Corporation themselves, when they were opposing the Loop Line Bill, erected a structure made of wood in the position in which this railway bridge will be placed. It was put up in order to enable the citizens of Dublin to judge what the effect would be in regard to the architectural beauty of the Custom House and Beresford Place. Now, I saw that wooden structure, and I must say that the effect it produced on my mind was altogether contrary to that which the Corporation of Dublin intended or expected it to produce. It is solely in consequence of the failure of one or two of the proposed guaranteeing Companies to carry out the promises they originally made that this Bill has been rendered necessary for the purpose of recasting the capital powers of the first Act. I think the House ought to allow the Bill to proceed. I do not say this in any spirit of opposition to the other scheme; on the contrary, I should like to see both of them passed, and I do not think that if the House consents to the present Bill there will be any great danger of defeating the scheme of the Kingstown and Kingsbridge Company. I have no doubt that that Company will carry the American mails, and there can be nothing else for the two lines to compete for except the conveyance of the mails.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
the First Lord of the Treasury has made an appeal to this side of the House, and I venture to make an appeal to him in return. We have heard a good deal about the dignity of the House of Commons and the desirability of carrying on its Business in an orderly manner. On Monday last the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Parliamentary Under Secretary for Ireland stated that the opposition to this Bill would have the support of the Government.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
No. What my right hon. and gallant Friend said was that he spoke in his individual capacity. In regard to Private Bills the present Government follow the invariable rule of being neutral in their attitude. [Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE: Hear, hear!]
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I regret that I said the right hon. Gentleman expressed the views of the Government. I should have said that he expressed his own views. The point, however, which I desire to put to the First Lord of the Treasury is this—whether, in view of the orderly and decent character of the 331 proceedings of the House of Commons, he will permit a precedent to be established which will be absolutely fatal to the orderly conduct of Private Business in future? If the promoters of a Bill, which has been practically rejected by the House on Monday, come back on Thursday and re-entangle the House of Commons in a fresh series of discussions, I am afraid we shall have invented a machinery of obstruction which has never hitherto been adopted by the most extreme Obstructionists. It is from that point of view I desire to address the Government, and to ask them whether, being Conservators of the dignity of the House, when the House has come to a unanimous decision on Monday, and Members have not even ventured to challenge that decision, such having been the effect produced by the speech of the Parliamentary Under Secretary for Ireland—whether we are now to be allowed, owing to a system of canvassing which has been conducted in the Lobby, together with private pressure and secret understanding, or, to use the word mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for the St. Stephen's Green Division of Dublin (Mr. Gray) of intrigue—to induce the House to reverse a decision which was unanimously come to on Monday? If such a course is taken, what will be the position of the Government, and what will be thought of them outside this House? We hear a great deal about Irish obstruction, and now we have this spectacle—that a Member of the Government in opposition to the Bill induces the House by the force of his eloquence and his arguments to reject a particular scheme on Monday; and yet the promoters of Private Bill legislation are able to take advantage of a technical point to involve the House in a further discussion on Thursday. If that is to be the course which is to be pursued in future, then good-bye to your orderly conduct of the Private Business of the [House of Commons, seeing that it will hand over the future procedure of the House in regard to Private Bill legislation to a course of canvassing in the Lobby. I will ask the Chairman of Ways and Means if there is any precedent whatever for the present proceeding? I challenge any hon. Member to show a precedent. It is an attempt to focus the House of Commons by a system of private pressure brought to bear upon hon. Members in the Lobby. 332 I have listened with great attention to the speeches which have been delivered in the course of this debate, and I quite agree with the view expressed by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Banff (Mr. R. W. Duff) when he said that if this Bill is adopted it will wreck the other scheme, which has practically received the sanction of Parliament this Session. Why did not my hon. Friend the Member for the St. Patrick's Division of Dublin (Mr. Murphy), whose name is on the back of the Bill, come forward directly as one of its promoters?
§ MR. MURPHY
I hope my hon. and learned Friend will allow me to explain that although my name appears on the back of the Bill I have no personal interest in it, either directly or indirectly.
§ MR. MURPHY
That is quite true, as I approve of the Bill; but I am not a promoter in the sense of having any pecuniary interest in it whatever, or in the sense in which the Word "promoter" is generally understood.
§ MR T. M. HEALY
Of course, I accept the disclaimer of my hon. Friend that he has no connection with the Bill except that his name is on the back of it. If he had been in a different position I should have asked him to explain why, during the three years the Company were promoting this Bill and had power to make the line, they permitted that power to lie dormant, and why they waited until a rival scheme had passed unanimously through this House before they took any steps to carry out their own project? The conduct of the promoters reminds me of a certain animal which, having been hybernated for a certain period, suddenly springs into life in order to cut the throat of something else. It is quite evident that only one of these two schemes can succeed. No goods traffic will pass along this line, and therefore the success of the scheme must rest on the passenger traffic; and I would ask what persons would be likely to put their money into the scheme? I fully admit that the noble Lord the Member for Liverpool did us good service on the question of the Irish packets two years ago, and I am grateful to him for his powerful intervention on that occasion. I did not know, until the hon. and gallant Gentleman 333 the Member for North Armagh rose to make his speech, that it was possible to; introduce politics into this matter. I found out, however, that it was quite possible to do so. But I would ask if it is not the fact that if this scheme is carried into effect, so steep and precipitous would be the incline that would be necessary to connect the line with: the Great Southern and Western Railway and the South of Ireland that the Great Southern and Western Railway had good reason for hesitating before joining in a project that would be practically useless to them? What would be the case if we were to have English gentlemen taking advantage of this line—presuming it to be ever made—as tourists? [A laugh.] Certainly, there would be tourists who would be anxious to go South; but if they found they had a dangerous line to travel over it is not impossible that they might be deterred. One single railway accident to a tourist would be disastrous to the entire passenger traffic that goes to the South of Ireland. Hon. Gentlemen opposite profess to be greatly interested in the mail question; but I cannot see how the question can affect the mail traffic in any way. The American mails will not go to the North of Ireland, but they will go South, in order to reach Queens-town, and I cannot conceive how it can be supposed that the American mail traffic wants to go over the Liffey. If the promoters of the Bill wished to make their scheme of three years ago acceptable to the public, they would have laid it out so that a bridge would have gone east instead of west of the Custom House. The citizens of Dublin would have welcomed a bridge in that direction; but the promoters of this line seem determined to force this scheme down the throats of the people of Dublin, whether they like it or not. I would appeal to English Members to come to a decision upon the matter without reference to Party considerations. I would ask them to remember that a Select Committee upstairs have passed a rival scheme on the distinct understanding that the present scheme was dead. This scheme has only got fresh vigour because a rival scheme has been projected. It was practically dead, and it is now presented to the House in a dog-in-the-manger sense, because it wants to kill another Bill. In my judgment the 334 Bill now before the House is an attempt to kill an honest endeavour on the part of those who have been doing their best to promote the carriage of the American mails to Queenstown, and to keep up the service to Dublin.
§ THE LORD MAYOR OF DUBLIN (Mr. T. D. SULLIVAN) (Dublin, College Green)
I feel bound to say a word or two upon this question as representing the Corporation of Dublin, and also as representing the citizens of Dublin in a double capacity, being one of the Members of Parliament for that city. My hon. Friend the Member for the St. Stephen's Green Division has quoted in his speech some remarks which were made by the Postmaster General on Monday, as if they told in favour of the loop line, and as if they did not tell in favour of the other scheme. Now, what the Postmaster General was anxious to secure was not this particular scheme, but some connection between the Great Southern and Western line and the Kingstown line; and, inasmuch as the Kingsbridge Junction would fulfil that purpose, then I maintain that the quotation of the hon. Member from the Postmaster General is of no account whatever. When the question of the Kings-bridge Junction was before the Select Committee certain Government officials were examined. They distinctly gave their preference to the Kingsbridge line as more convenient for their purposes from a military point of view. If I recollect rightly a military gentleman was examined, who favoured very strongly the Kingsbridge Junction. The Postmaster General has also expressed himself satisfied with the alternative Bill, which has passed through all its stages except the third reading in the House of Lords, which is little more than a formality. Therefore, I contend that the arrangement, so far as the carriage of the American mails is concerned, may be put out of the question. The hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh has also sneered at aesthetics; but I would ask how hon. Members would receive a proposition to carry a railway 20 feet high, either on arches or upon tressels, around Westminster Abbey? Every consideration of that kind is to the advantage of the Bill we desire to see carried out, as against the one which is involved in the present scheme. At present the Custom House has the finest view which 335 can be obtained in the City of Dublin, and it is our desire to preserve it, if we can. I ask why this House should endeavour to destroy it? The beauty of Dublin was made by the Irish Parliament. The Custom House of Dublin was built by the Irish Parliament, and it is the finest pre-Union building in that city. Is this what the English Parliament are going to do for us—namely, to destroy the beauty of the City of Dublin, created as it has been by the Irish House of Commons, and paid for by the Irish people? If there was any great purpose to be attained by the making of a loop line; if it would develop the trade and commerce of that city, I would not oppose the Bill, but I utterly deny that it will have any such effect. It will really do nothing to promote the trade and commerce of the country. When the question was before the House on a former occasion, I believe that the House of Commons at that time, and the Parliament altogether, would not have sanctioned this loop line if there had been a rival scheme put forward at that time. When this Bill was originally promoted, it was a question of that measure or nothing; and, of course, there was a natural desire that some arrangement should be made to expedite the transfer of the mails. We have now another scheme before us, and, therefore, the whole conditions which led Parliament to consent to the construction of this loop line are entirely changed. I hope that the House of Commons will not consent to impose this monstrous deformity upon the capital city of Ireland. It was only yesterday that the Prime Minister of England spoke of the desirability of establishing local government in all parts of the Kingdom for purely local affairs. Well, Sir, let the House of Commons make a beginning. Let them allow this question, as being purely a local one, to be settled by the Irish Members among themselves. There is very little difference of opinion among us. We are quite willing to take the vote of the majority of the Irish Members; but we ask the House of Commons not to impose on Dublin a monstrosity in opposition to the will of the people of that city, the Corporation of Dublin, the Local Authorities, and the majority of the Irish Members. This House has cursed Dublin with poverty; let it not curse 336 Dublin with ugliness in addition. I will only say that if any great national advantage could be derived from this Bill I should be ashamed and sorry to I oppose it; but there is nothing of the kind to be obtained. No doubt it will suit the convenience of a few persons—railway directors and railway shareholders; and, of course, such people I have no mercy when any question of æsthetics is considered. There is nothing that is sacred to a railway engineer, who merely desires to carry out his scheme in the best way he can. The people of Dublin, however, are entitled to have their feelings and opinions in this matter, and there is no reason why this deformity should be inflicted upon their city. I hope that the House of Commons will not, by virtue of its power and strength, impose upon Dublin and upon Ireland a scheme which is not required, but which is opposed, not only by the Local Authorities of Dublin and by a vast majority of the people of that city, but by the majority of the Irish Members.
§ MR. DEASY (Mayo, W.)
My hon. and learned Friend the Member for North Longford (Mr. T. M. Healy) has said that the support which this Bill is now receiving has been got up by agitation in the Lobby. Now, I should have expressed my views in regard to the measure if I had not been perfectly certain that the question would come up again, and if my hon. Friend (Mr. P. M'Donald) had made a Motion that the Bill should be considered on that day three months, I and my hon. Friends would have been prepared to have advocated as strongly as possible the acceptance of this scheme. If there has been any monopoly of intrigue in the matter, it has been entirely on the other side. Let me say for myself that I have been approached for, at least, a score of times by the opponents of the present Bill, while not a single Gentleman who has been promoting the Bill has addressed a single Word to me about it. Until at a late hour yesterday, the hon. Member for Tipperary asked me if I would see the promoters. It is only this moment that an hon. Friend behind me has passed on to me a note from the resident engineer of the promoters, canvassing me for my vote. But while there has been, an absence of approach from those who are interested in carrying out the 337 scheme, I have been approached at least 20 times by Gentlemen on the other side. We are asked why the promoters did not go on with their scheme three years ago, when they succeeded in getting their Bill passed. I do not think it lies in the mouths of the opponents to taunt the promoters with not having proceeded with it when the Great Southern and Western Railway Company, who were originally parties to the promotion, were the very gentlemen who killed the further progress of the scheme themselves by withdrawing from the guarantee they originally gave, and going over to the other side. Why did they do so? It was because, in my opinion, they did not think there was the slightest possibility of otherwise preventing the connection authorized by the Act from being made; and they wanted to avoid the odium which they imagined would be cast on them, and which, to some extent, has already been cast on them, by the people of the South of Ireland, of doing what in them lay towards completing the communication between Kingstown and Queenstown. The Postmaster General has now not only warned the people of Dublin of the danger, but almost of the certainty of their losing the carriage of the American mails if there is further delay, and he has gone the length of supporting the present Bill, and of saying that he believes it is one which ought to be passed by the House. The Lord Mayor of Dublin has told us that the people of that city are against the Bill; but how are we to know that when we have two of the Representatives of Dublin on one side and two on the other? [An hon. MEMBER: Only one against.] I am reminded by my hon. Friend that there are two Members for Dublin in our favour and only one against, the other Member not having recorded his opinion either one way or the other. A good deal has been said about the feeling of the Corporation of Dublin, but they do not represent the people of Dublin—at any rate as well as its Parliamentary Representatives, being elected upon a much more narrow franchise. I have only a few words more to say. I have no personal predilection for one line as against the other. If I had a choice. I think I should be in favour of the Southern line as a connecting link between Queenstown and Inchicore; but an 338 hon. Member has told us—and lie is a man of great experience in railway work—that he does not believe that the two lines will materially interfere with each other, and that if the Northern link is made, there is nothing to prevent the Southern link from being made also. My position in the matter is this. I desire to have some kind of direct communication between Kingstown and Queenstown. I do not care how the communication is brought about, but I do believe that this is the only feasible and possible scheme, and I do not see for a moment how the promoters of the Booterstown and Inchicore line can raise the enormous sum that will be necessary to carry out the alternative scheme in addition to the guarantee that is to be given by the Great Southern and Western Company; whereas the promoters of the scheme now before the House only require the present Bill to be passed in order to secure that their line will be carried out at once, and to insure that the works will be commenced early in October next. It is, therefore, in the interest of the Irish people that I appear here to support the Bill. I am not in favour of the one scheme more than the other, and if I have any leaning at all it is in favour of the Southern connection. In the vote I am prepared to give, I shall not vote for one Line or one Company against the other; but I shall vote for the question whether we are to have a communication established or not.
§ MR. PENROSE FITZGERALD (Cambridge)
I will not detain the House for more than a few minutes; but after the course I took on the last occasion when this Bill was discussed, and after the support which I then gave to the Southern line of communication, it is necessary that I should say a word. In my opinion, it is quite clear that one of these Bills must kill the other. I, like the hon. Member for Mayo (Mr. Deasy), do not care one straw which Bill survives, provided that a direct mail passenger communication is established with Cork; but after full consideration I find no reason to change the opinion which I expressed last Monday. In the tremendous pinch of competition which is likely to arise for the conveyance of the American mails there is an absolute necessity on the part of Cork to maintain its supremacy. A burnt child dreads 339 the fire, and I cannot ignore the fact that three years have elapsed since the present Company obtained their; Bill, and that nothing has yet been done to give effect to it. Therefore, I feel bound to use my influence and give my vote in favour of the more direct communication between Booterstown and Kingstown. I do not propose to enter into the question in detail. I have had some doubt, and I have thought over the matter carefully, especially as to whether the promoters of the alternative scheme will be able to find the money or not; but I prefer to risk all that in view of the fact that the other Company has already been caught napping. If this Bill is rejected, I think there will be a fair claim on the part of the Great Southern and Western Company to claim the assistance of hon. Members who may take part in the rejection in raising the necessary capital to make the Southern communication which, in my opinion, is the best means by which the carriage of the American mails can be conducted.
§ MR. O'KELLY (Roscommon, N.)
My hon. Friend the Member for West Mayo (Mr. Deasy) has appealed to the House to support the present Bill on the ground that the majority of the Representatives of Dublin are in favour of it. In reply to that remark, I say that the Parliamentary Representatives of Dublin are not so much entitled to represent the citizens of Dublin as the Corporation. In all matters that affect the interests of that city I hold that the Corporation of Dublin are much better representatives than the Members for Dublin. The Members for Dublin are a political accident. They are represented by a wider and perhaps a more popular suffrage than the Corporation; but they have been returned to this House upon a national issue which has nothing to do with this question, and I am perfectly convinced that if the question were submitted to a vote in the City of Dublin, 90 per cent of the population would vote against this Bill. From a practical point of view the construction of this line will be a waste of money, and the line when constructed will save little or no time. It can certainly never be a paying concern. The line which is proposed to be constructed to Booterstown must inevitably be made some time or other, and it will not only 340 develop the material interests of Dublin and Cork, but those of a large district outside Dublin. It is a line that ought to be made, and I believe that it will bring about financial results in the future of a most satisfactory kind. Under these circumstances, I hope that English Members will take into consideration the feeling of the people of Dublin, and the fact that the scheme now before the House, while it may be of advantage to a portion of Dublin, will contribute nothing to the business and wealth of that city, whereas the rival line will be of the greatest utility, not only in the present, but in the future. It will not only enable the mails to be carried cheaper and quicker, but it will help to develop property that is now locked up. With regard to facilitating the carriage of the mails, I hope my hon. Friends will not lay too much stress on that issue. The time may come when the mails will not go from Cork at all, and I, for one, certainly hope to see the day when they will go from Galway, from which port they certainly ought to go. [A laugh.] Hon. Members laugh; but we are Representatives of the whole of Ireland and not of Cork alone, and it is our business to have regard for the interests of the whole of Ireland and not of one spot alone. English Members must see plainly that there is no Party issue involved in the matter, and I think they ought to see that the interests of Dublin will be better served by the construction of the proposed line from Booterstown to Kingsbridge. I therefore trust that they will vote in favour of that scheme.
§ MR. LANE (Cork, Co., E.)
I should have been contented to give a silent vote if the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Penrose Fitzgerald) had not stated that he was influenced in the decision he has arrived at by the consideration that the question deeply affects the interests of Queenstown and Cork. Now, as one of the Representatives of Queenstown and the County of Cork, I feel that it is impossible for me to give the vote I intended to give without explaining the reason which induces me to do so. The hon. Member for Cambridge, from the moment the opposition to this Bill was started, has done all in his power to further the rival scheme. He has given evidence in support of it both in this House and in the House of Lords, and 341 he has done everything to forward its interests in the South of Ireland. Under these circumstances, I wish to explain why it is that I give a vote which, having regard to the remarks of several previous speakers, may be supposed to be antagonistic to the line which the hon. Member favours. I certainly intend to vote for the third reading of this Bill. When the alternative Bill was introduced, I certainly, at the request of my constituents, supported it in every way I could, because at the time I believed the loop line to be dead, and because I also believed that the alternative scheme was a better one. I have seen no reason whatever to change my mind on that subject. I still believe that the Southern Line is by far the best scheme for the South of Ireland, and certainly for the carriage of the American mails. But for the last few months I have done my utmost to ascertain from the promoters of the Southern Line what the prospect is of their being able to raise the large sum of money that will be necessary to enable them to construct their line if their Bill is passed by the House; and I must say—and I say it with the utmost regret—that I have not been able to satisfy myself that there is even a remote contingency of the promoters being able to raise the necessary capital in such a manner as to enable them to go forward with the construction of their line. They have substantially the guarantee of the Great Southern and Western Railway Company to subscribe £100,000 towards the capital of the Southern Junction Line; but that guarantee has been given solely and expressly on the condition that the remaining £200,000 required as a guarantee for the construction of the line must be bonâ fide subscribed capital. That is the most serious point in connection with the whole of the question. The £200,000 must be bonâ fide subscribed capital, and up to this afternoon the Southern Junction Company Have not been able to give an assurance that that sum will be raised. I have endeavoured in every way to support and forward the scheme; but I cannot find that promises towards the direct guarantee to a greater extent than £20,000 out of the £200,000 have been given, and that leaves £180,000 to be subscribed within a limited time. Now, having regard to the fact that the very strong and 342 active canvass which to my knowledge has been made during the last six months has only resulted in a subscription of £20,000, I fail to see where the rest of the capital is to come from. That is a point which has weighed very seriously upon my mind, and has induced me to take no step which may prevent the other line from being proceeded with, although lam not in favour of the loop line, and the alternative scheme has all my sympathies. I believe that all my hon. Friends who will vote with me feel for the citizens of Dublin in the prospect they have of seeing the view from the O'Connell Bridge interfered with by the erection of a bridge between it and the Custom House. We have a strong objection to any measure that is likely to disfigure that city; but against that objection they have to take into consideration the prosperity of Dublin, which is interwoven with that of the whole of Ireland. We have the assurance of the Postmaster General that unless one or other of the two lines is constructed the continuance of the American mails is very problematical. On the other hand, there is only a very remote prospect of the Southern Junction being made; and, under these circumstances, it seems to me that at the present moment we, who are so deeply interested in the South of Ireland, and in the continuance of the American mails by the Queenstown route, are bound to vote in such a way as will prevent us from being deprived of both of the lines which have been projected to connect Cork with Kingstown. My hon. Friend who has just spoken says that he supports the Southern line because he hopes that in a short time the mails will go byway of Galway. If the hon. Member is consistent in that view he is bound to vote for the loop line as the only means by which his idea can be carried out. But that is only a bye question in the main issue. The real issue which the House has to decide is, whether we are to have any or no connection between Kingstown and Queenstown as the port of embarkation for the American mails. I believe that, by giving my vote for the Bill now under consideration, I shall not in any way prejudice the progress of the other Bill, and I trust that in the interests of the country both Bills may proceed.
§ THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (Mr. COURTNEY) (Cornwall, Bodmin)
I 343 understand that during my absence from the House an appeal has been made to me for an expression of opinion on the matter; and it is partly in response to that appeal, and partly in the hope that by taking a stop which I think will be in accordance with the desire of the majority, the question may, at least, be brought to a decision. The hon. and learned Member for North Longford (Mr. T. M. Healy) has asked if there is any precedent for re-opening a question of this kind after it has once been decided that a Bill should not be reconsidered. I am not aware of any. I can, however, recollect one instance in which a Bill of public interest was some years ago rejected, and subsequently revived and passed through all its stages. I refer to the Bill for the abolition of Purchase. It is, therefore, impossible to say that there may not be some kind of warrant for what has been done to-day. At all events, we are face to face with the fact that the Bill is here, and we cannot get rid of that fact except by a vote. I therefore hope that the House will proceed to take a vote at once. Now the real question is—Shall the vote of the House be influenced by the decision which was come to on Monday last? As far as I understand that decision, it was taken under a double error. In the first place, the opponents of the Bill ought to have secured their purpose by requiring that the Motion should be put that the Bill be considered on that day three months. They had power to do that, but by some inadvertence a grievous error was committed. On the other hand, it was by no means clear, if a vote had been pressed on that occasion by the demand of the hon. Member for Belfast (Mr. Ewart), which way the decision would have gone, because the voice of the House is very different from the voice of the Lobby. The hon. Member for Belfast committed an error, and perhaps, under these circumstances, it would now be as well to proceed on the assumption that a double error was committed, and to vote as if nothing at all had happened. We have now had an expression of opinion from all parties, and from different sections of the Irish Members. It appears that even in Dublin itself there is a difference of opinion. As I. understand, the hon. Member for the St. Stephen's Green Division of Dublin (Mr. Gray) has spoken strongly in favour of the Bill, while another 344 Member for Dublin—the Lord Mayor—has spoken as strongly against it. Having had an expression of opinion from all parties, I would venture to suggest that the debate may now be brought to a close. I hope that hon. Members will agree that the first step in order to take a Division is to close the debate, and in order to secure that end I claim to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put accordingly, "That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 247; Noes 85: Majority 162.—(Div. List, No. 328.)
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 216; Noes 114: Majority 102.—(Div. List, No. 329.)
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I wish to ask you, Sir, a question upon a point of Order. If the Main Question is put, will not that prevent any hon. Gentleman who has objections to the details of the Bill moving Amendments?
§ MR. SPEAKER
The action taken by the House will not prevent the course being taken which the hon. and learned Gentleman suggests; but Notice must be given of Amendments,
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
Then may I ask you, Sir, as we have had no opportunity of putting down Amendments, whether there would be any objection to the adjournment of the debate being moved? It must be borne in mind that this Bill was brought in very hurriedly. Would there be any objection to an Amendment providing that the Company might be obliged to find its money within three months?
§ MR. SPEAKER
The Question which is now to be decided is that the Bill be now considered; therefore the course suggested by the hon. and learned Gentleman would not be in Order.
§ MR. SPEAKER
It is impossible for the hon. and learned Gentleman to make such a Motion. If the hon. and learned Gentleman had not risen to a point of Order, I should have at once proceeded, 345 to put the further Motion, in order to complete the Motion already carried.
§ Main Question, "That the Bill, as amended, be now considered." put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes234; Noes 83: Majority 151.—(Div. List, No. 330.) Bill considered.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The Bill now stands for third reading on some future day, and the hon. and learned Gentleman will be able to put down whatever Amendments he thinks proper.
MR, T. M. HEALY
I understood the noble Lord moved not the Question "That the Bill be now considered," but "That the Question be now put."
§ MR. SPEAKER
No; nothing of that sort was done. It was moved "That the Question be now put;" and after a Division upon that the noble Lord claimed to move the further Question necessary to bring to a decision the Question already put from the Chair.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I beg to give Notice that on the Motion for the third reading of this Bill I shall move that the Bill be re-committed, with a view to certain Amendments, and I may add that such a course was adopted in the case of the Manchester Ship Canal Bill.
§ Ordered to be read the third time.