HC Deb 19 May 1887 vol 315 cc491-3

Order for Third Reading road.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."—(Mr. Dodds.)

MR. COX (Clare, E.)

I wish to ask for the indulgence of the House while I call attention to a matter of Privilege in connection with this Bill. At any rate, if it is not actually a question of Privilege, it is, at least, a matter which ought to be brought under the notice of the House as something which may be considered gross misconduct. This Bill, about a fortnight ago, was before a Committee of this House, of which the hon. Baronet the Member for South St. Pancras (Sir Julian Goldsmid) was Chairman. The other Members of the Committee were the hon. Member for the Totnes Division of Devon (Mr. Mildmay), the hon. Baronet the Member for the Lewes Division of Sussex (Sir Henry Fletcher), and my hon. Friend the Member for Dublin. The Bill was promoted by the Midland Great Western Railway Company of Ireland, and among the opponents of it were the Waterford and Limerick Railway Company, of which Mr. Spaight is Chairman. At a meeting of the Limerick Harbour Board, of which Mr. Spaight is also Chairman, he is reported to have made some observations attacking the conduct of the Chairman of the Committee and the Committee itself, which I wish to bring under your notice, Sir, and that of the House, because I believe that the remarks made by Mr. Spaight, as Chairman of a meeting of shareholders, really amount to a Breach of the Privileges of this House. The remarks Mr. Spaight is reported to have made were to the following effect:— Mr. Grierson, the Manager of the Great Western Railway, gave important evidence, but he was not listened to. The Chairman (Sir Julian Goldsmid) absolutely turned aside, put his arms over the back of his chair, and affected to go to sleep. From the very commencement of the inquiry the Chairman seemed to have made up his mind on the question. He knew from the start that they had no chance, owing to the apparent bias of the Chairman. The following statement is contained in a letter which has been published:— We complain that the Chairman of the Committee held and expressed such a strong feeling in favour of the promoters and against the petitioners, from the opening of the case, that everyone who listened to the proceedings was quite satisfied from the first day what the decision would be. Our opponents will, I think, admit that such was the general impression.


Order, order! The hon. Member is not entitled, in discussing a Private Bill of this character, to bring forward a matter of Privilege. A question of Privilege must be raised separately after this Bill has been disposed of, and not at the time of Private Business. I would ask, however, when the statements were made or published?


The speech was delivered on Monday, and the letter was published on the 9th of May. It was only last night that the paragraph in the newspaper article was brought under my notice, and therefore I have had no opportunity of consulting with you, Sir, as to the proper course of action to be taken. When the Order for the Third Reading of the Bill was read, I thought that would be the proper time for bringing the conduct of this gentleman under the notice of the House.


I should have been happy, if I had not been otherwise engaged at the moment, to give the hon. Member any advice on the subject. Perhaps the hon. Member will consult me after the Bill has been disposed of. The remarks of the hon. Member relate to a question of Privilege, and have no connection with the Question before the House, which is the Third Reading of this Bill; nor do they affect the passing of the Bill.


No, Sir; they do not affect the passing of the Bill. On the contrary, I am anxious that the Bill should pass.

MR. CHANCE (Kilkenny, S.)

I beg to move that the debate be adjourned until to-morrow. Hon. Members will then be able to have the Bill before them, and the question can be properly discussed. I think that would be the1 most convenient course to take.


As a point of Order, I have stated that it is not proper to debate a question of Privilege upon a Private Bill. Nor is it necessary to move the adjournment of the debate, because, if the hon. Member objects to the Bill, the matter must, in accordance with the Standing Orders, stand over.


Then I do object.

MR. M. J. KENNY (Tyrone, Mid)

And I also.

MR. DODDS (Stockton)

Then the Motion must stand over until tomorrow.

Bill to be read the third time Tomorrow.