HC Deb 29 May 1891 vol 353 cc1300-4


Order for Third Reading read.

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

(2.10.) MR. JORDAN (Clare, W.)

I regret that I should find myself compelled to oppose the Third Reading of this Bill, but I do so because those I represent feel that, before obtaining further powers, the company should make some effort to provide for the convenience and requirements of the public. Numerous re-monstrances and petitions have been forwarded to them, and deputations have waited upon them at their offices in Dublin to ask for reforms. They have not denied that reforms are necessary; all they say is that if we will wait, the reforms will come in due course; but that until the Postal Service has been facilitated they find it impossible to comply with the demands of the public. They seek now for power to raise £60,000 additional capital, and to increase their borrowing powers, but such an application to Parliament would have been unnecessary if the cheese-paring policy of the company had not led, some time ago, to the very serious Armagh catastrophe. I do not think that at the present moment they accommodate the public to such an extent as to justify Parliament in granting these additional powers. They ought not to be encouraged to come to this House either to borrow money or to buy land for additional purposes until they can show that they have used the powers they already enjoy for the advantage of the public. The populous and industrious community from Dundalk to Londonderry have long been knocking at the doors of the company without obtaining admittance. They say that the train service now given is wholly inadequate to the wants of the public, and that there has been a persistent refusal to give morning and evening trains from Clones to Enniskillen, and from Enniskillen to Clones, and Sunday trains from Dundalk to Derry, and from Derry to Dundalk. No matter in what part of the North of Ireland you may land you cannot get into the interior on a Sunday, and you have to wait until Monday morning or drive on car. There is also a loud complaint of the absence of sanitary arrangements and waiting rooms at several stations; the third-class carriages are most uncomfortable, and the roadways and approaches are maintained in a slovenly condition. Upon these grounds I ask the House not to give this Railway Company the powers they are now asking. At any rate, they should be required to wait until next year in order that in the meantime they may have an opportunity of considering the demands and improving their existing arrangements. The only answer the company give to the appeals which are made to them is that reforms will not pay. I do not see why they should not pay, seeing that there are seven towns from Enniskillen to Clones interested in this matter with large local traffic to schools, fairs, and markets, and for other local purposes, which ought to be remunerative if the railway were only properly managed. I beg to move that the Bill be read a third time on this day six months.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question, to add the words "upon this day three months."—(Mr. Jordan.)

Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."

(2.20.) SIR E. HARLAND (Belfast,N.)

I rise for the purpose of supporting the Third Reading of the Bill. Irish railways of late years have made marvellous strides, not only in speed but also in regard to the provision made for the general comfort and convenience of passengers. This opposition is directed against the station at Enniskillen, and I think I am able to say, without fear of contradiction, that if there is a railway station which has been improved more than any other in Ireland it is the station at Enniskillen. The sanitary arrangements there are equal to those of any other station in the Kingdom, although it is true that the accommodation on one side of the station is not equal to what it is on the other. The Railway Company fully recognise the deficiency in this respect, but it has been owing to financial considerations that the full development of the entire station has not taken place. There is, however, an excellent means of communication between one side of the station and the other by a bridge over the line. Unfortunately, the line is a single one, and there are difficulties in the working of a great variety of trains at different hours of the day. It must be borne in mind that Enniskillen and Clones are only junctions, so that the interests of other Railway Companies have to be consulted. If the matters complained of by the hon. Gentleman require correction, they ought to be brought before the Railway Commission, and the time of the House ought not to be taken up in discussing them. The provisions of the Bill have already been examined and passed by a Committee upstairs, and I think it is monstrous to bring such frivolous objections now against a Bill of such great importance. This is simply an omnibus Bill for the readjustment of certain powers, and I think we ought to trust to the company to develop the line for their own interests. Nothing has been adduced by the hon. Gentleman which ought to justify the House in throwing out the Bill upon its final stage.

(2.26.) MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)

I wish to make a suggestion which I think may have the effect of shortening the Debate. The hon. Baronet opposite will, I think, on reflection, admit that he has not met the case which has been raised by my hon. Friend. The fact that there are junctions at Enniskillen and Clones is no answer to the allegation that the existing arrangements are inconvenient, and there is no reason why the convenience of the public should not be consulted by all the companies concerned. The people who go to one side of the station at Enniskillen are just as much in want of accommodation as those who go to the other, and in applying to Parliament for borrowing powers, there is no reason why the company should not be required to use some of them in making good their present defects. I am afraid the case affords an illustration of the truth of the old axiom, that what is everybody's business is nobody's business. All the company say in the document they have issued against the opposition to the Bill is that the discussion of these matters in the House is inconvenient. Now, there is nothing irregular in such a discussion, and I think the company would have been better advised if they had dealt with the specific allegations which are made against them. As they have refrained from doing so they have practically allowed judgment to go against them by default. The suggestion I wish to make is that my hon. Friend should not persevere with his Motion upon a promise by the Board of Trade that they will use their influence to induce the company to improve their present arrangements.

(2.30.) MR. COURTNEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)

I presume that the Railway Company in the statement they have issued refrained from entering into details, because upon a previous occasion it was ruled out of order to discuss them. The Railway Company in declining to go into them have only been following the direction of this House. I have no doubt, however, although I have no authority to speak on their behalf, that if representations are made to the Board of Trade they will see that proper sanitary arrangements are carried out. But it is obvious that this House cannot enter into a detailed examination of questions with which the Bill itself has nothing to do. It would be altogether contrary to the practice of the House to reject the Bill upon the grounds which have been alleged.

MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)

I do not intend to vote against the Third Reading of the Bill, but, speaking from personal knowledge, I am bound to admit that the sanitary arrangements at the Enniskillen Station are most defective, and that it is almost disgraceful that the Great Northern Railway Company should force the House to discuss them. The line is neither well nor liberally managed, and I think the company will do well to note the discussion which has taken place.


After the remarks which have been made by the Chairman of Committees, I think the Board of Trade may be induced to use its influence with the Railway Company, and, therefore, I will not press the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read the third time, and passed [New Title.]