§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ SIR J. BLUNDELL MAPLE (Camberwell, Dulwich),
in moving the Secoud Reading of the Bill, said that any one acquainted with the East End of London, and saw the poverty and the number of little children in the crowded thoroughfares, must agree that anything that would assist the working men to get out into the country after they had done their work, and to return to work in the morning, must be a great advantage to the working classes. This Bill was a very small Bill, but he maintained that it was a very important one. In 1883 the Cheap Trains Act was passed, and that Act gave to the President of the Board of Trade the power of arranging at what time workmen's trains should run between 6 in the evening and 8 in the morning, and also gave over to the President of the Board of Trade the power of deciding at what fares. There had been since that time an enormous quantity of workmen's trains started, but they still found large districts without any workmen's trains whatever, and the reason was that people would not build workmen's cottages in the suburbs unless they knew the fare that would be charged by the railway companies, because the cost of the fare had to be added to the rent. The statutory fare was 1d. per mile, and consequently any one residing 12 miles from London would have to pay 2s. per day or 12s. per week. In consequence of this, by the wisdom of Parliament, working-class trains were started, and they had evidence before them that they were most successful wherever these trains were started, and that in the districts in which they were started the poor workmen went to reside and formed large communities. On the Great Eastern Railway there were many trains going backwards and forwards conveying these poor workers, but on the Midland Railway there was but one coming to London, and that at 5 o'clock in the morning, consequently workmen's houses were not built in that direction. On the Great Western main line not a single workmen's train came to London, and they all knew there was a large district there that could be easily 136 developed. The Bill he was now moving the Second Reading of did not in any way interfere with the power of the President of the Board of Trade, nor were the railway companies interfered with by the Bill. The Bill simply fixed a rate, and that rate was this: For all distances not exceeding five miles the fare should be 2d., including the return; five miles and not exceeding 10 miles the fare should be 4d.; 10 miles but not exceeding 15 the fare to be 6d.; and 15 miles but not exceeding 20 miles the fare should be 8d. That arrangement he believed was one that would pay and would be satisfactory, and it was an arrangement which he hoped would eventually be the basis under which all railway companies would be able to work. Last year the Metropolitan Railway Company agreed to give similar rates to these, and he informed the House on the 12th May last that he had a letter, signed by J. Bell, the Manager, on behalf of the Metropolitan Railway Company, running as follows:—We will undertake, as from the 1st proximo, to adopt the following scale of fares—namely, for five miles and under, twopence; for five miles and under 10 miles, fourpence; for 10 miles and under 15 miles, sixpence; including return in each case. Daily and weekly tickets on that basis.And, furthermore, the Manchester, Sheffield, and Lincolnshire Railway Company introduced a clause in their Bill that they would carry passengers at the same rate as the Metropolitan. That, therefore, was most satisfactory. The Metropolitan proceeded to run those trains at that price, but it would be a great advantage to the working classes if we could establish, so to speak, a similar zone on all the other Metropolitan railways. Houses would be built in different localities, and every workman would know, if he was a certain distance from the terminus, what fare be would have to pay. In Hungary the zone system had been a very great success, and they had all read how the zone system worked there. In Hungary the distance of the first zone is 15 miles, and there they were carried for sixpence. The second zone went to 25 miles, which was one shilling for third-class passengers. The third zone was 34 miles, which was one-and-sixpence. Those charges were considerably less than the charges he was proposing to be adopted by the Bill. 137 In 1891 he brought forward a similar Bill, and was met by the right hon. Baronet the late President of the Board of Trade (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) with the reply that he thought the London County Council should deal with this subject. Well, the London County Council had dealt with the subject to a certain extent; they had issued a very voluminous Report, making a comparison of the last year, and it had been calculated, no doubt, with a deal of trouble. They had also set forth in this Report what they would advise the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Mundella) to do. He knew the right hon. Gentleman to be a very industrious, hard-working man, and he was perfectly certain he had the interest of the working classes at heart, and no doubt in due course he would do his best to further the interests of the workers of this great Metropolis, for he well knew what a large and important body they were. When dealing with the working classes it would be well for him to state, and for the House to remember, that in the Metropolis they had not only thousands, but tens of thousands, nay, hundreds of thousands, of working men who were not employed in the building trades. They had very large factories in London, and the principal portion of the working classes of London did not go to their work until nearly 8 o'clock in the morning. The Bill did not propose to alter the present Statute with respect to workmen's trains arriving at their destination before 8 o'clock in the morning, but these people could not live in the country without houses to live in. The recommendations of the Public Health and Housing Committee of the London County Council are as follows:—Further suggestions indicative of improvements required in the service of Workmen's Trains, being supplemental to those set out at the end of the first Report.1. That in the case of the neighbourhoods or stations to which special attention is called in the above Reports, and which are served by no workmen's trains, pressure should at once be brought to bear upon the railway companies concerned to provide suitable train accommodation.The case of the stations on the Great Western Railway main line between Southall and Paddington, and of the district outside Willesden on the North Western and Great Western lines, are particularly referred to.1382. That all trains leaving stations within the limits of the workmen's train system, and timed to reach the London terminus up to 8 a.m., should be regarded as workmen's trains.3. That more adequate provision should be made for workmen's down trains from the London termini to stations within the limits, above mentioned, to serve workmen living in London but working in the outskirts, and that such trains should start up to 7.30 a.m.4. Referring to the suggestion already made, that in addition to daily tickets monthly or quarterly season tickets should be issued, attention is called to the fact that nearly all of the companies allow quarterly season tickets at half the ordinary charge to issue to pupil teachers, students, and apprentices under 18 years of age learning a trade or profession, and that to extend this advantage to workmen and others practising a vocation which compels them to travel at an early hour, including women and girls, seems but natural.5. That where there is not sufficient 3rd Class accommodation by any workmen's trains, and carriages of a better class form parts of the trains, workmen should be permitted to use the higher class carriages without risk of penalties.6. That on the main point, viz., that of the common basis on which workmen's fares should be fixed, whilst affirming the view already expressed, that the matter is one for the joint consideration of the companies themselves, it is believed that the true solution of the problem lies in the establishment of some zone system, treating each terminal station as the centre, and fixing the cost of tickets accordingly, such tickets to be good for all stations within the particular zone, and regard being had in fixing the zones to the desirability from a public point of view of offering inducements to the working classes to make their homes as far as reasonably practicable from the centre of London. For example, there might be three distances or zones, the first covering 5 miles, the second 10, and third 15 miles and upwards.He was not always in accord with the London County Council, but he thought this recommendation of theirs was very good indeed. In fact, in his previous Bills he thought a halfpenny a mile, including return, would be a right and proper fare, but in view of the recommendation of the London County Council, and after consultation with friends, he had arrived at the conclusion that it would be far better to have the maximum rates fixed, as provided in this Bill, for each of the zones, and when that was established it was anticipated the working classes would go further away to reside, and that the people would greatly improve in health. The Bill did not interfere with the action of the Railway Companies or the action of the President of the Board of Trade, it rather strengthened the hands of the right hon. 139 Gentleman, and enabled him to set forth what should be a good and proper rate. Railway Companies at the present time were receiving, in his opinion, very harsh treatment from some of the public. He knew there were few agencies that had done more for Great Britain than the Railway Companies, but each Railway Company had a different interest, and this question of workmen's trains had not received that kind of consideration it ought to have received; he therefore hoped that the House would adopt the principle of the Bill. He ought to mention he had deviated somewhat from his former proposal, with respect to workmen being allowed to return at five o'clock on week-days and twelve o'clock on Saturdays. He had been making careful inquiries since then, and he found that all railways now running workmen's trains were more lenient still, and allowed workmen to return at four o'clock on week-days, and twelve o'clock on Saturdays. But having regard to the fact that on certain days when it was wet, or from other reasons, workmen were not always able to work when they arrived, he would urge that Railway Companies should divide the return traffic over all their trains so that such workmen should not be compelled to wait until the specified time for returning. He submitted the Bill to the House, and he believed that if it was passed speculative builders and building societies would proceed to build houses for the working classes to live in. It was impossible for the President of the Board of Trade to ask the Railway Companies to run trains until there were passengers to carry, but they could not have these unless houses were provided for their accommodation, and, therefore, if the House would only fix a scale of charges which would be fair both to the Railway Companies and the working classes, he was confident that houses would soon be provided, the result of which would be that London would become less congested, and the health of the poor, and particularly the poor children they now found in the narrow courts and alleys, would be considerably improved.
§ SIR F. D. DIXON-HARTLAND (Middlesex, Uxbridge)
said, he seconded the Second Reading of the Bill, which he thought was a great improvement upon any Bill yet brought into the House upon this 140 subject. The other Bills to which the hon. Member had referred were of too limited a character, and only allowed workmen residing within a short distance of London to come in to their work. Now, if they only went a short distance out of London, the price of land for building was nearly as high as it was in London itself, and therefore it was only by going further afield that they were able to get better air and cheaper buildings. What was wanted was that the workmen should get purer air and cheap means of living, and he thought if the House passed this Bill these requirements would be met. When the Bill was introduced before the radius was so small, there was really no part of London that was not within its limits, but the Bill now proposed to take in the whole Metropolitan Police area, including Watford, Uxbridge, Staines, Sevenoaks, Epping, and many other places, all of which were brought within the radius of the Bill, and they were all parts where there were great quantities of land available for building purposes, and when workmen's houses were built it would do a great deal towards removing the congestion that existed in London: He believed the Bill would have the effect of increasing the profits of the railway companies, and therefore it would be short-sighted policy on the part of the companies to oppose it. It was well known that the greater part of the profit made by every railway company came from the third-class passenger traffic, and therefore he thought the Bill was one that should commend itself to every one. He had great pleasure in seconding it.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."—(Sir J. Blundell Maple.)
§ SIR J. PEASE (Durham, Barnard Castle)
said he should not divide against the Second Reading of the Bill, but he wanted to call the attention of the House to the actual position of affairs at the present moment. No one respected more than he did the motives of his hon. Friends—namely, to get people out of London into the country. Some of them who lived in the country and resided in London for short periods knew perfectly well that London was 141 not a paradise, and he was very anxious to do all that was reasonable and right to assist the working classes of London in getting into the country, not only for the sake of the people but in order that the railway companies might make a profit for themselves. But what were the powers of the Board of Trade at this moment? The Board of Trade had very large powers indeed; they could regulate within certain limits the times at which workmen's trains should run, and, through the railway companies, the fares to be paid. This Bill went only one step further, as he understood it, than the Board of Trade powers at the present moment, and that, the hon. Member stated, was the establishment of zones, peremptory zones. These zones were to apply to every railway coming into London, regardless of the circumstances under which they had been constructed. The circumstances of railways differed very much, indeed. The Great Eastern charged low prices, for this reason: In making their Shoreditch Station they had to pull down an enormous number of workmen's houses, and the choice was given to them of finding accommodation for the people in the neighbourhood of the station, or affording facilities for their living in the country. But the right hon. Gentleman who brought in the Bill did not propose to put on all the other Railway Companies the low fares of the Great Eastern. Then the Manchester, Sheffield, and Lincoln on their extension to London entered into an arrangement with the Metropolitan Railway Company by which certain charges were fixed. He thought it would be more fair to the Railway Companies if they had an opportunity of appearing before a Committee of the House and stating whether they had any objection to the establishment of zone fares. It appeared to him that if the House agreed to the Second Reading of this Bill—and he, for one, did not quarrel with the principle of the Bill— it should be referred to some tribunal, either a Select or Standing Committee, so that the Railway Companies might appear and make their objections, or offer suggestions as to the scale of fares and such regulations as would suit the character of the traffic. With regard to the return of workmen by any train, he thought it would be most inconvenient. 142 If the Bill were given a Second Reading he would appeal to the President of the Board of Trade to have it sent to a Select Committee, or some other similar tribunal.
§ MR. W. AMBROSE (Middlesex, Harrow)
quite agreed with the hon. Member who had just sat down (Sir J. Pease) that there was a tribunal—namely, the Board of Trade—that had proved itself capable of dealing with the question, at all events to some extent; but it must be apparent to anyone, who had any kind of recollection of what had taken place in the only cases that had come before the Board of Trade, that there was a great difficulty in putting the Board of Trade in motion, because it involved, or might involve, considerable cost. Supposing there was an absence of workmen's trains, who was there to take the matter up on behalf of the working men? There was no one, because what was everyone's business was the business of no one. What he should like to see was something more definite than was laid down in the Cheap Trains Act of 1883, referred to by the hon. Gentleman, and which was a provision enabling the Board of Trade to call upon a Railway Company, if sufficient workmen's trains were not provided, to provide such workmen's trains as appeared to the Board to be reasonable. The House would observe that in the Act there were two sets of trains; but there was nothing to tell what was a workmen's train, and he need hardly say that if the fares were not properly adjusted the trains would be altogether useless for workmen. What they were doing was, they were insisting on the right of the workmen to their trains; and not only that, but showing that it was in the interests of the companies themselves that they should provide these trains. He would endeavour to sustain his proposition on those points if the House would follow him for a moment or two. The 5th and 6th Vic, chap. 73, Section 2, imposed a railway passenger duty on Railway Companies. That was at 5 per cent. The 7th and 8th Vic, Section 6, provided that the companies should run cheap trains at Id. per mile, and, in consideration of their running these trains, they were exempted from duty in regard to them. He next came to the Act of 1883, dealing with the 143 provision in regard to cheap trains. It made provision for cheap trains at 1d. per mile, but it also provided for workmen's trains, and showed that, in consideration of their running those trains, they could have the duty reduced to 2 per cent. That was provided for by one section, which he need not, however, trouble the House by reading. He would like the House, however, to see how that state of things affected the companies. He found, by the Returns of the Board of Trade, that there was a very considerable difference between the amount paid by the Metropolitan Railway Company in duty in the year 1884 and the amount paid in 1882. The figures had been quoted before the Railway Commissioners, in the presence of the traffic managers, and they remained unchallenged. The traffic managers declared in evidence that they had had ordinary passenger trains between 5 o'clock and 8 a.m., and none of them paid; on the contrary, each of them meant an absolute loss. But they put on workmen's trains, and that portion of the traffic paid them. It was greatly to their advantage—as it was to the credit of this company—that they had put on the trains ordered by the Commissioners, at the fares fixed by that body, and that they had also arranged a service running a larger number of trains from Baker Street to Neasden than they were required to do. There could be no doubt that the workmen's trains would be very remunerative, and they would be of great value to workmen who wished to get fresh air, and whose families were bound to be happier and more content if living in the suburban districts. It was perfectly obvious that the regular passengers did not go in or out of London before 8 or 9 o'clock in the morning. The regular traffic might be said to commence at 8.30. It was very difficult for the ordinary man—the working man—to proceed by deputation to the Board of Trade. The House could assist in securing what they ought to have—a good supply of cheap trains for workmen, and he hoped it would do so. He had pleasure in supporting the measure.
§ MR. T. H. BOLTON (St. Pancras, N.)
said, they had heard from the hon. Gentleman who had just addressed the House that he supported the Bill because it provided for cheap trains. He 144 wished to say that while he supported it for that reason, too, he also supported it because he was glad to see that there was a desire on the part of the promoters to introduce the zone system on railways into England. This system had hardly been considered by the companies at the present time, but he thought it ought to be applied to the railways that served London. The powers of the Board of Trade were much too limited in connection with this matter. There was no power on the part of the Board of Trade to enforce the running of cheap trains. All the power that Board had was to report an insufficient number of cheap trains, and ask the Commissioners of Inland Revenue to see that the companies paid the passenger duty in full. That was hardly a sufficient basis upon which to place the right of the Board of Trade to interfere, and he hoped the hands of the Board of Trade would be strengthened, so that the companies might be compelled to discharge their duty to the public. Some of the larger Railway Companies were under no direct statutory obligation, however, to run any cheap trains—such companies as the Great Northern, the Great Western, and the London and North Western. These companies, not being under statutory obligation, did very little towards cheapening trains on behalf of the workmen. The Great Eastern was under some statutory obligation, but that company supplied a large number of trains—a number far beyond that included in the obligation. They had, indeed, a better service than any other company, and they got their reward in a heavy and most remunerative traffic. The other lines, as he had said, were not affected by Statute Law. These companies served important districts, and he thought the Board of Trade could not do better than consider whether they could not be compelled to run workmen's trains in accordance with the requirements of the people. The great monopoly which these companies enjoyed was subject to one primary condition—and that was, that the requirements of the public should be met, and it was only just that increased obligations should be imposed with the increase of the population of London and the consequent necessity for a larger number of trains. 145 He did not rise for the purpose of going into detail. He wished to express his strong desire to help as far as he could in carrying this very useful Bill. There was no use in their talking about the urgency of relieving the congestion among the population of London, and about providing better homes for the workmen of the City unless they dealt with the matter in a practical spirit. The cost of reaching the outer suburbs was at present prohibitive to workmen; and unless they afforded facilities for the workman to get from his house to his work and from his work to his house, they were only wasting time talking about the enormous advantage to the workman of having better and more comfortable homes outside the Metropolis. The practical way was to enable the workman to get in and out of London by cheap trains. He hoped this Bill would do much in that direction, and he gave it a most cordial support.
§ MR. W. SAUNDERS (Newington, Walworth)
said, he would like to add just a word or two to the discussion. One matter to which he would direct attention was the passenger traffic in the middle of the day and the advantage that would be gained by an increase in the traffic for pleasure. For hours in each day there were running in and out of London a large number of passenger trains that were nearly empty. If the fares were reduced these trains would be crowded by poor people anxious for a little of the country air. He had brought this aspect of the case before Railway Companies, and it was admitted that there would be no practical difficulty in taking thousands of children into the country in the afternoon and bringing them back in the evening; but they could not grant reductions as they were bound to act together, one company could not do what another would not do, and it would be a very difficult matter to get general consent. They should have cheap trains running in the direction that people wanted to go—especially poor people and children. The County Council had urged the question of giving these facilities for mid-day pleasure traffic, and he was sure the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade would do something towards carrying out the objects of the Council in this matter.
§ MR. D. R. PLUNKET (Dublin University)
I desire to say a very few words on this question. I do so as one who has connection with the London and North Western Railway, to which reference has been made in the course of the debate. In the first place, I would like to express my entire sympathy—and I think I may say the sympathy of the Directors—with the object of the Bill before the House. At the same time, I would say that if the Bill should pass in its present form it would create considerable injustice to these great companies, and it would certainly create very great inconvenience, because the Bill—whatever its intentions are or those of its promoters—is admittedly an attempt by one sweeping provision to draw a hard and fast line as to what is a fair charge for those using the railways. The matter of fares is one that necessarily involves a good many considerations relating to railway management. It is a matter involving complicated considerations. I do not wish to say one word in opposition to the Second Reading of the Bill, nor shall I enter into any controversial point or anything that I might for a time be prepared to dispute. The discussion has been conducted in a spirit of fairness, and that is the best spirit in which these discussions can be conducted. I only desire to say this: that I agree with the suggestion that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade should refer the Bill to a Select Commit lee of the House to be dealt with in a practical way. That is the most careful and practical way in which it can be disposed of, for there are many points which the right hon. Gentleman will understand could not be dealt with in the House itself. If the right hon. Gentleman is willing to refer the Bill to a Select Committee, the companies, I am satisfied, will be quite willing to go before the Committee, and place before it any information that may help towards a conclusion satisfactory to both them and the public.
§ MR. J. ROWLANDS (Finsbury, E.)
said, there was a distinction to be drawn between workmen's trains and other trains, and he would direct the attention of the House to the charges set forth in maximum in the Bill—charges of which there might be a tendency on the part of the companies to take advantage.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE (Mr. MUNDELLA,) Sheffield, Brightside
Yes; they might do that.
§ MR. J. ROWLANDS
said, he agreed with what had been stated with regard to the system of workmen's trains on the Great Eastern. That company ran trains for over 10 miles at a fare of 2d.
§ MR. J. ROWLANDS
said in this way the company went beyond the requirements of the Statute, and, also, they went far beyond any other line having termini in the Metropolis, by running such a number of trains per day. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman the late Commissioner of Works (Mr. Plunket) would urge upon the London and North Western Company the desirability of following the example of the Great Eastern. The London and North Western, the Midland, and the Great Northern, stood out in London as absolutely making no effort to deal with this question. He thought it only right that attention should be drawn to the generosity of one company where the public interests were concerned. If the Bill went to a Committee he had hopes that action of the Great Eastern would be considered, so that the facilities on other lines might be increased.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
I need scarcely say that I have listened with satisfaction to the desire expressed by hon. Gentlemen on all sides of the House to strengthen the hands of the Board of Trade in dealing with these matters. I will only detain the House for a very short time in relation to this. Every Member of the House must desire to give increased facilities to workmen to get away into the country for the advantages of fresh air and cheap house rent — fresh air, especially for the children—should induce us to combine in the effort to afford these facilities to workmen to live outside the crowded districts of Loudon. Everything the House can do I am sure it will be prepared to do. But I do not see why this Bill should not extend to other great cities. Why should not Glasgow and Manchester, and Birmingham and Sheffield have the same facilities offered them as London? The hon. Gentleman opposite seemed to have some doubt whether the Board of Trade is moving 148 sufficiently quick in this matter; but I can inform the House that the question has received the close attention of the Board for a considerable time past. In April last the London County Council made a Report on the question of workmen's trains, which was a most able and comprehensive document. This Report was sent to the Board of Trade, and the Board of Trade at once communicated with all railways having termini in the Metropolis, asking what answer they had to make to the demands of the Council. The answers came in during the autumn and winter, and they were sent forward to the County Council on the 21st of January last. We now await the reply of the Council. We propose that there should be got together a conference of the County Council and the companies and the Board of Trade to discuss the question, and bring about some arrangement that would meet the views of all parties. The Bill that is before us would, in my opinion, do a great deal of harm as well as a little good. In many respects it is unworkable, and I need scarcely point out that it tends to increase the congestion and overcrowding of trains, and its provisions generally would have the effect, if adopted by the House, of taking over the management of the railways into the hands of the House. I am not disposed to ask the House to take a complicated question like this under its control. One effect of the Bill would be to raise the maximum considerably beyond the fares which some of the companies now charge. It is most desirable that workmen's trains should be kept as cheap as possible. They cannot be useful to those whom they are intended to serve unless they are as cheap as possible. The hon. Member spoke of the Bill as likely to stimulate building operations. Well, I do not agree with that. Down to the time the Act of 1883 was passed there were only 12 trains—workmen's trains— out of London in a day. In 1890 there were 88 trains, and since then there has been a further increase. Some of the companies have acted very generously. There are others that do not act generously, whether the question be one of rates or not. These latter companies are obstacles to progress, and it is desirable to bring them into line with those who do not act in that way. 149 What I propose to do is this: That you should allow this Bill to have a Second Reading in order to show that we approve of the principle of the Bill, and that it then be referred to a Select Committee in order that evidence may be taken not only in the interest of the Railway Companies, but on behalf of the London County Council, which can place the evidence in its possession before the Commitee; and then, I trust, all parties being fairly heard, we will be able to arrive at a conclusion generally satisfactory to the workmen, to the railways, to the County Council, and to the Board of Trade. I believe that the Railway Companies do not suffer from granting adequate facilities. It is the companies that are most unwilling to grant facilities to workmen that have returned the best dividends, and I am certain that there must be great benefit to those companies that supply the workmen with an ample train service. It has been suggested that workmen's fares should extend to all trains. I do not think that would be desirable, for it would tend to over-crowding. If we say the Scotch Express from London— would it not be most unreasonable to apply such fares in that case? That is not what the workmen desire. They desire trains for their own convenience— to take them to and from their work. They do not seek to interfere with long-distance travelling, or to crowd the carriages of those trains. I believe the House is most anxious to accomplish what the workmen require. I give my assent to the Second Reading on the condition which I have stated—that the Bill be at once referred to a Select Committee.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH (Bristol, W.)
I agree with the observations which the right hon. Gentleman has addressed to the House. The course he has decided upon appears to be the best and safest for the public and for the companies. I do not wish to object to that course; but I would venture to point out in a very few words how it is that, in my humble opinion, the Bill as it stands would do more harm than good. The first point is the question of the amount of the fares to be charged; and under the Bill I find that there would be a distinct tendency to make 150 the statutory fare in excess of the fares charged by the companies who give the best workmen's trains at the present moment—the Great Eastern, for example, which, as has been very properly said, does its duty in this respect much better than any other company. Then workmen's fares are proposed to be charged on any train leaving London after 5 o'clock on five days of the week and after 12 o'clock on Saturdays. But it is to be remembered that 5 o'clock is the very hour at which the greatest volume of the ordinary afternoon main line traffic to the country from London begins; while on Saturdays it is considerably earlier. If you inquire into this matter, you will find that there is a very sertous risk of over-crowding the great lines if you adopt the hours proposed in this Bill. The Bill limits the fares to be charged on workmen's trains, without rendering it necessary to run these trains at all. The companies might walk through the Bill if they liked to do so. The right hon. Gentleman has very fairly represented my action at the Board of Trade. When, speaking in the House two years ago, I pointed out that it was the intention of the Legislature in the Cheap Trains Act that the Board of Trade should be moved to action in this matter through some Local Body. The London County Council then took that action, and deserves very great credit for the admirable Report, a copy of which the Board of Trade sent last summer to each of the companies. Before the County Council drew up that Report the companies were asked by the Board of Trade to meet a Committee of the London County Council, but, I regret to say, they declined to do so. Well, the Report was sent to them, and their answers were of a dilatory character. The Great Western, which does not run one single workmen's train on the main line, sent an answer deprecating the necessity for trains of this class at all, and entirely putting off the consideration of the matter. Cannot the right hon. Gentleman do something to compel action by the Railway Companies under the existing powers of the law? The Cheap Trains Act (1883) provides—If at any time the Board of Trade has reason to belive that, upon any railway carrying passengers, proper trains are not provided for 151 workmen at reasonable hours and fares, then the Board of Trade may order such provision.Cannot the right hon. Gentleman enforce that? He might at least, I think, insist on the companies which are most in fault adopting some of the recommendations contained in the Report of the County Council Committee. I take it that this is not the place to go into the matter, but some of these companies require to be brought to a sense of their duty. They would be more practically dealt with in the manner I suggest than they would be by the application of the clauses of this Bill. I am very far from desiring to stop the progress of the Bill. If it is the will of the House that it be read a second time, this will probably be taken as an assertion that the present state of things is unsatisfactory, and that something must be done, and then I hope my right hon. Friend will do his best to put into force the powers of the existing law.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
One word of explanation. My reason for asking that the Bill should be read a second time is to give expression to the opinion of the House on the lines suggested by the right hon. Baronet.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time, and committed to a Select Committee.