Motion made, and Question proposed,
That in the case of the Kingstown and Kingsbridge Junction Railway Bill [Lords], Standing Orders 82, 211,236, and 237 be suspended, and that the Committee of Selection have leave to appoint the Committee on the Bill, to sit and proceed forthwith."—(Mr. Caldwell.)
§ (12.35.) MR. MACARTNEY (Antrim, S.)
I regret that under the peculiar position in which the opponents to the Bill will be placed I must object to this Motion. The effect of the Motion if carried will be to practically make this an unopposed Bill. The opposition to the Bill arises entirely in Ireland, and it would be absolutely impossible for the opponents of the Bill to bring up their witnesses in time to make good their case before the Committee, because the result of passing the Motion will be that the Committee will meet and proceed forthwith. Now, I observe that with regard to every other Motion which stands on the Paper having reference to Private Bills there is a difference, that it is not proposed to suspend Standing Order No. 236.
§ THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS (Mr. COURTNEY,) Cornwall, Bodmin
If the hon. Member will turn to page 9 of the Orders of the Day he will see that he is mistaken.
§ MR. MACARTNEY
I had not looked at that page. But, at all events, I desire to press my objection to the Motion in this case. The Bill is seriously opposed; but it would be quite impossible for the people who oppose the Bill to make their case before the Committee if the Motion were carried in its present form. I do not 1154 know whether it is usual, in the case of a Bill to which strong opposition is given, to make a Motion such as this; but, in any case, I desire to amend the Motion by leaving out the reference to Standing' Order 236. That, at all events, would allow the opponents of the Bill time to prepare their evidence, and bring their witnesses from Ireland. Under the Motion in its present form this would be absolutely impossible. The witnesses are scattered all over the country, and the Bill touches interests over a large area, extending to the western coast. Under the peculiar circumstances of the Session, and the well-known difficulty of getting together another Committee and Chairman to sit on a Railway Bill, the opponents did not anticipate such a Motion as this.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out "236."—(Mr. Macartney.)
§ Question proposed, "That '236' stand part of the Question."
§ (12.36.) MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)
This is an attempt, in the interest of the Dublin, Wicklow, and Wexford Railway, the sole opponents of this Bill, to kill it by delay without regard to its merits and after it has passed the House of Lords. The sole opponents of the Bill—the Dublin, Wicklow, and Wexford Company, gave evidence against it in the other House, and even secured its re-committal — and had a second opportunity of putting forward their evidence. There is no force in the plea that witnesses must have time to be brought from Ireland. Everybody knows who they are, and that every one of them is within twenty-four hours' call of the House of Commons. The hon. Member says time is required to prepare evidence, but the evidence has been given, and it has failed to convince the Committee of the House of Lords that it affords valid reasons for rejecting the Bill. The promoters of the Bill have prepared and presented such evidence as has convinced the House of Lords of the expediency of proceeding with the undertaking; and now the hon. Gentleman, in the interest of one Railway Company, has the hardi- 1155 hood to attempt to take advantage of the peculiar circumstances of the Session to kill the Bill by denying the promoters the opportunity of establishing their case before a Committee of this House. This, as I have said, is in the interest of one company. There was another Petition against the Bill from the Great Southern and Western Railway Company; but so satisfied are the company that the project is a good one that they have not only withdrawn all opposition, but are prepared to subscribe £100,000 towards the undertaking. All the Public Bodies having local interest affected by the proposed line are in its favour. The Corporations of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, and, in all, twenty-four Public Bodies have declared in its favour. Seeing that the opponents of the Bill will be at no disadvantage, that their evidence is ready, and that the Committee can make arrangements for the attendance of witnesses without any difficulty, that the Bill has the support of public opinion and is sustained by the evidence of experts, I urge the House to accept this proposal without amendment.
§ (12.40.) COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
I join with the hon. Member for West Belfast in urging the House to accept this proposal and allow the Bill to proceed. In the position in which the Bill stands it would be a denial of justice to the promoters to throw the Bill over to another Session. All that has been urged by the hon. Member for South Antrim (Mr. Macartney) can be submitted to the Committee. If witnesses cannot attend in time—though I do not believe there need be any difficulty on that point, for if they are telegraphed for now they can be in London before the Committee can sit—that can be stated to the Committee. It would be cruel to subject the promoters to the increased expense which would be entailed by the Bill falling through now. Those who travel by way of Westland Row Station must acknowledge the inconvenience that now exists. I more often go West, but travellers to the South, American passengers, and others will have the greatest advantage from this junction, and the Bill, I think, meets an absolute necessity.
§ (12.41.) MR. COURTNEY
Of course, it is a grave proceeding to suspend the Standing Orders of the House which govern the proceedings on Private Bills, and under ordinary circumstances a Motion of this kind should not be proceeded with against opposition. But the peculiar circumstances of the present Session drive the promoters into such a position that unless something is done to relieve them their efforts to get their case heard will be abortive. The opponents of the Bill have, as the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton) has said, had an opportunity of putting their case elsewhere, but I am disposed to think that some little grace might be allowed to them. We are now at Wednesday, and if the Committee were appointed I do not suppose it would sit to-morrow; still, if the proposal were amended so that the Committee were instructed to proceed on "Friday" instead of "forthwith," then I think a sufficient margin would be allowed to secure the attendance of witnesses without extreme inconvenience. Perhaps the hon. Member for South Antrim would be satisfied with that?
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Amendment made, by leaving out the word "forthwith," and adding the words "on Friday."
Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
Ordered, That, in the case of the Kingstown and Kingsbridge Junction Railway Bill [Lords], Standing Orders 82, 211, 236, and 237 be suspended, and that the Committee of Selection have leave to appoint the Committee on the Bill, to sit and proceed on Friday.