HC Deb 14 June 1888 vol 327 cc126-7

MATTER—considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Motion made, and Question proposed, That it is expedient to authorize the payment, out of moneys to be provided by Parliament, of remuneration to Railway Companies for receiving and forwarding traffic under the authority of a Secretary of State or the Admiralty, and of compensation to any person suffering loss for anything done under such authority, in pursuance of any Act of the present Session to make better provision respecting National Defence."—(Mr. Secretary Stanhope.)

MR. PICTON (Leicester)

said, there had been no explanation of the necessity for this Resolution. There was nothing to justify such a Resolution, except some expectation of invasion that appeared to him to be a most improbable thing. Such a Resolution was calculated to excite a great deal of alarm. If such a monstrously improbable contingency were to arise, he supposed that any Government would seize the railways in case of necessity, and ask for a Bill of Indemnity afterwards. He presumed it would be impossible that there would be any invasion of this country without some amount of previous rumour or expectation. If such a difficulty were to arise, Bills could be passed through the two Houses within 24 hours, or even less, in case of necessity. He could not see that any good ground had been shown for the Resolution, and he hoped the Secretary of State would give some information to the House upon the subject.

THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. E. STANHOPE) (Lincolnshire, Horncastle)

This is only a formal Resoulation on which a Bill would be founded. When the clause comes on in Committee, the hon. Member will have an opportunity for raising the question. Although we certainly do not anticipate an invasion, we believe that the best way to prevent the possibility of such a thing is to be prepared. We are only asking for such powers as we deem reasonable and necessary, and which we might have to use in the case of emergency.

Question put, and agreed to.

Resolution to be reported To-morrow, at Two of the clock.