§ Order for Third Heading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."
§ *MR. WEIR (ROSS and Cromarty)
said, he could not allow this Bill to pass without a protest against the treatment 442 Scotland had received at the hands of the President of the Board of Trade and his Colleagues, in having arranged for only one Representative for Scotland on the Railway Rates and Charges Committee. He regretted that none of the nine Members who represented Scotland, on the Treasury Bench, were in their places. Those gentlemen were sent to the House to represent Scotch as well as Imperial interests, and he would appeal to them to see that Scotland was fairly treated in this matter.
§ *MR. A. C. MORTON (Peterborough)
said, he agreed with the hon. Member that something ought to be done with regard to this Committee.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
It is irregular to discuss the composition of a Committee which has not vet been struck, on the Third Reading of a Railway Bill. If the hon. Member has any objection to the Committee he should raise it when the question of the nomination of the Members comes on for discussion.
§ *MR. A. C. MORTON
apologised for having been out of Order. He wished to say, however, that he had warned the London and South Western Railway Company that if they did not take steps to give their third-class passengers better accommodation he should have to oppose their Bills on the Third Reading. Great complaints were made of overcrowding through insufficiency in the supply of carriages; and though the Board of Trade was appealed to, they were told that that Department could do nothing in the matter. The Government were able to prevent overcrowding in omnibuses and tramcars; and it was, therefore, strange that they could do nothing to benefit third-class railway passengers in the same direction. The Railway Companies enjoyed a great monopoly; they wore able to drive away all sorts of competition, the people being obliged to use the trains provided as best they could. The balance sheets of the Companies showed that they made their profits out of the third-class passengers—that the third-class really had to pay for the superior accommodation provided for the first and second-class passengers—therefore he thought that these travellers ought to receive more consideration. He had to complain, also, of first-class carriages or compartments being reserved 443 —it was suggested in some cases for gambling purposes; also that the lavatory accommodation (especially for third-class passengers) and the warming of carriages in the winter were deficient. He did not propose to proceed to extremities to-day, as the Manager of the Railway, Mr. Scotter, had written him a letter which showed that the Company were prepared to endeavour to overcome the deficiencies complained of, still the time might come when it would be necessary to set an example by throwing out one of these Railway Bills. He did not say that the London and South Western Railway was the worst. There were others on the south side of the Thames which gave more cause for complaint. The railways on the north side paid a great deal of attention to the accommodation of third-class passengers, and he wished the Southern Companies would follow that example. In his letter Mr. Scotter had expressed himself astonished to hear that the accommodation in the third-class carriages was complained of, as the Company had lately considerably added to their stock of these carriages, all of them being of the latest kind. He added that he was at a loss to understand the complaints, but that if particulars were furnished him he would take care that they should be investigated, and that the matter should be put right. For the present he (Mr. Morton) proposed to rely on that statement, and to trust to the Company to do what was fair and right towards the third-class passengers. In any case, he trusted the House would see that justice was done, especially to the industrial classes of the country and the people who were compelled to use third-class railway carriages.
§ SIR J. KENNAWAY (Devon, Honiton)
thought that the London and South Western Company was endeavouring to do its duty towards its third-class passengers, and he had received the assurance of the Company that attention was being paid to the matter.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Bill read the third time, and passed.