HC Deb 07 April 1891 vol 352 cc1-4

Order for Second Reading read.

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

(2.10.) SIR J. SWINBURNE (Staffordshire, Lichfield)

rose to move— That this House declines to consider any Bill to give further powers to the London and North Western Railway Company until the said Railway Company has made arrangements with Her Majesty's Government to open a tele- graph office for the public at each and every one of its passenger stations.


I do not think that the Amendment of the hon. Member is in order. It proposes to introduce a question of general policy as an objection to a particular Private Bill when the Company promoting the Bill are simply asking for further powers The course which the hon. Baronet ought to take is to make a Motion for an alteration of the general policy applicable to all railways. There is nothing in this Bill which can fairly raise the question which he desires to introduce. As a matter of fact the Amendment is altogether irrelevant to any part of the Bill, and it would be impossible for this Railway Company to comply with the conditions that ought to be imposed. The initiation does not rest with them but with the Postmaster General, who can exercise compulsory powers in the direction indicated. Under the circumstances, I do not think the Amendment of the hon. Member is in order.


Shall I be in order in moving that the Bill be read a second time on this day six months?




Then I beg to move, as an Amendment, that the Bill be read a second time on this day six months; and in drawing attention to the matter I wish to bring the subject of these telegraph offices before the House. When we ask for more telegraphic accommodation we are told by the Postmaster General, from the Treasury Bench, that the entire cost of new telegraph offices must be borne by those who require them. The only way, therefore, to meet the requirements of the public is to secure that all the railway stations shall be converted into telegraph offices.

(2.14.) MR. SPEAKER

I am bound to say that the hon. Member is now founding an objection to the Bill upon the point on which I have already ruled him to be out of order. He must confine himself to any other objection he may have to urge against the Bill.


Then I will refer simply to Clause 34 on page 26, and Clause 37 on page 27. The present Bill proposes to put aside the general law of the country and asks for exceptional powers. By the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act if a Railway Company seeks to take a portion of land or of a building they are compelled to take the whole. The company asks to have this general law of the country set aside, and an exceptional law introduced in their favour. They seek in this Bill to be allowed to take a portion of the property interfered with, and not the whole, and I think that in such a case the public have a right to ask that the Telegraphs Act, which will be affected by this Bill, shall be revised. By former Acts of Parliament the company are allowed to send telegrams free over the Post Office wires, and in order to give the House some idea of the enormous extent to which this privilege is made available I may say that in 1870, the year after the Government acquired the telegraph wires, 5,286 messages were sent by the London and North Western Company over the Government wires without payment, while in 1890 the number was increased 48 fold, having been 245,838. I think, at all events, the time has now arrived, when Railway Companies coming to this House for exceptional powers, should have revised the bargain made between them and the Postmaster General in 1868 for the benefit of the public. I submit that, when the Directors of a Railway Company decline o establish a telegraph office at a rail way station—


Order, order! The hon. Gentleman is not now speaking to the Amendment, but is again dealing with the question which I have already ruled to be out of order.


I beg to apologise to you, Sir, if I have said anything that is irregular. Under the circumstances, I will content myself with moving that the Bill be read a second time on this day six months.


Does any hon. Member second the Amendment?

As there was no response the Amendment fell to the ground.

Question, "That the Bill be now read a second time," put, and agreed to.

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