HC Deb 11 April 1893 vol 11 cc1-4

Order for Third Reading read.

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

MR. A. C. MORTON (Peterborough)

said, that when he gave notice of opposition to this Bill he intended to move to insert a clause to prevent the Tramway Company from increasing their fares on public holidays. He found, however, that he would be out of Order in moving to insert a clause on the Third Reading of the Bill. But if he had an opportunity of getting it done in another place he would avail himself of it. [Laughter.] Hon. Members need not laugh; he did not see any objection to making use of another place in the matter of a Private Bill. Before the Third Reading of the Bill was taken, he wished to say that he thought the Bill and all Bills of the same kind should have a clause preventing Tramway Companies from increasing their fares on public holidays. Tramways were worthy of support when they were promoted by really bonâ fide companies, and not by mere speculators and adventurers, because he believed they were for the good of the community. But when tramways were laid down, the omnibuses as a rule were driven out of the district, and there was practically no competition, so that the Tramway Company could do pretty much as they liked with the public. Tram fares had been reduced to a halfpenny, a penny, and three halfpence, for which he was glad, but the companies did that not to oblige the public, but simply as a means of making money and driving away the competition of the busses altogether. But on public holidays, such as Easter Monday, these halfpenny, penny, and three halfpenny fares were increased to 2d. and 3d. The companies merely put up a notice on the trams, where nobody could see it except attention was called to it by the conductor, announcing that the halfpenny, penny, and three halfpenny fares were suspended for that day. Tramway Companies might be within their right in doing so, but seeing that they were allowed a monopoly—for these Tramway Companies were really monopolists—something should be done by the House to protect the public against these excessive fares, especially on those days when they should be anxious to assist the industrial classes to get out into the suburbs rather than to spend their holiday in the public-house. From personal observations of his own on last Easter Monday he found that cases had happened where a working man and his wife, having six or eight children, had got into a tram for the purpose of spending a pleasant day on one of the commons in the suburbs, and instead of being called upon to pay, say, 1s., the usual fare, they were obliged to pay 2s., to get out to the common. He had no doubt that to the President of the Board of Trade and other wealthy aristocrats on the Treasury Bench it made no difference whatever whether the charge was 1s. or 2s., but to the working man, with £1 or less a week, it was a matter of considerable importance. In some cases, when a working man found he could not bring his family out to one of these commons except at a cost of about 2s., he did not go at all, and probably spent the day in the public-house. He was sorry the President of the Board of Trade was not in his place. He did not mean to make a charge against the right hon. Gentleman or against his Predecessor in Office, but he said it was the duty of the President of the Board of Trade to see that clauses were put into all these Bills for the purpose of protecting the industrial classes against this extraordinary increase of fares, especially on public holidays. He was sorry to say, however, that the officials of the Board of Trade had never troubled themselves about seeing that such clauses were inserted in those Bills at the proper time, though they were paid large salaries for the purpose of examining those Bills, and seeing that the interests of the public were protected. He was glad to say that Local Authorities, whose consent for the laying down of the tramways must now first be obtained by the Tramway Companies, were endeavouring to do what the Board of Trade had neglected to do; but he wanted the Board of Trade in future to go carefully through all these Bills and to see that proper clauses were inserted for the protection of the public, both in regard to fares and in every other matter affecting the public interest. He would make it his business to carefully watch all Tramway Bills, and to watch them in time, and if the President of the Board of Trade and the other officials could not be got to do the duty they were paid for, he should endeavour to do it as an unpaid Member of the House.

MR. R. WALLACE (Edinburgh, E.)

said, he sympathised with the general strain of the hon. Member for Peterborough, and if the hon. Member had made a Motion to prevent a company from increasing the fares on public holidays he would be found supporting it. But that was out of the question at the present stage of the Bill. He was glad, however, to say that, though other Tramway Companies might have been guilty of the offence with which the hon. Member for Peterborough had charged them, he had been told that the Edinburgh Tramway Companies had never increased their fares on public holidays.


said, he believed that statement was correct, but it did not do away with his intention to get a clause introduced into the Bill to prevent the Edinburgh Tramway Company getting bad in future.

Motion agreed to.

Bill read the third time, and passed.