THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE (Mr. MUNDELLA, Sheffield, Brightside) moved—
That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the manner in which the Railway Companies have exercised the powers conferred upon them by the Railway Rates and Charges Order Confirmation Acts, 1891 and 1892, and to consider whether it is desirable to adopt any other means of settling difficulties arising between the Companies and the public with respect to the rates and conditions of charge for the conveyance of goods, and to report what means they recommend:
That the Committee do consist of nineteen Members:
That Sir Michael Hicks-Beach, Mr. Burnie, Mr. John Ellis, Mr. Field, Sir Julian Goldsmid, Mr. Hanbury, Mr. Hiekman, Mr. Hunter. Mr. Jacks, Mr. Jackson, Mr. Patrick M'Hugh, Mr. Mitford, Mr. Mount, Sir Joseph Pease, Mr. David Plunket. Sir Albert Rollit, Sir Bernhard Samuelson, Mr. Shaw Lefevre, and Sir James Whitehead be Members of the Committee:
That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers, and records:
That Five be the quorum.
Several hon. Members objected to the Motion.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
hoped the objection would not be persisted in. If any objection was taken to the names they should be put down as a first Order on Thursday; but he trusted the Houses would agree to the Reference to the Committee, at any rate.
§ SIR M. HICKS-BEACH (Bristol, W.)
considered that the sooner this Committee was agreed to the better: but he certainly should object to a, Reference being taken without the names.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
should be very happy if they could proceed with the 1006 names that night. ["No, no!"] He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman that the sooner the Committee was appointed and got to work the better. They had arranged the names with both sides of the House.
§ MR. W. JOHNSTON
said, the constitution of the Committee seemed to be a studied insult to Ulster, as there was not a single Member on it from Ulster. He objected to it on that account.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
could only say that Members sitting on both sides of the House had nominated their full share of Members.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
considered it rather an extraordinary thing that the part of Ireland most interested in railway rates had been totally excluded from representation on the Committee, and he should object to it until such a condition of things was remedied.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Louth, N.)
desired to know whether the names of the Conservative Members had not been nominated by the Conservative Whips?
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. MARJORIBANKS,) Berwickshire
said, the Committee had been nominated in the usual manner, and had been the subject of a good deal of discussion of a friendly character.
§ COLONEL HOWARD VINCENT (Sheffield, Central)
considered that the President of the Board of Trade ought certainly to serve on the Committee.
§ SIR JAMES WHITEHEAD (Leicester)
expressed the hope that the Reference to the Committee would be agreed to, and then the names could be taken on Thursday.
§ MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)
remarked that if hon. Members objected to this Reference they must be prepared to stand before the constituencies of this country as doing their utmost to prevent traders getting that justice which the House had declared they were entitled to.
§ MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
said, what he and other Members felt was this—that the whole legislation of the United Kingdom was being neglected for Ireland. The Government had got the whole time of the House, and yet they would not agree to giant them an hour for the discussion of 1007 this important subject. It was a matter which ought to he considered at a reasonable hour, and the interests of the whole country ought not to be sacrificed for the Irish Question.
§ SIR A. ROLLIT (Islington, S.)
reminded the House that he withdrew his Motion on the subject on the distinct understanding that after Easter the Committee should be nominated. The usual course had been pursued in regard to the Committee, and he appealed to the House to allow the Motion to be passed. This was a matter affecting the vital interests of the country. There was apparently little time for dealing with it, and he hoped the Motion would not be objected to.
§ MR. COHEN (Islington, E.)
considered that the right hon. Gentleman ought not to be surprised that objection was raised against the proposal to pass this Motion after 12 o'clock at night. If on another night the Government would consent to adopt the suggestion of the hon. Member for North Islington (Mr. Bartley) and report Progress on the Home Rule Bill at 11 or a quarter past, the question of the appointment of this Committee could easily be disposed of before 12 o'clock.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
could not promise to accede to the suggestion of the hon. Member. A course such as he recommended had been tried the other night, in order to facilitate the progress of the North Sea Fisheries Bill, and the only result was that the Bill was talked out. As the Motion before the House was objected to, he would put it down again for next day. The responsibility for this and any subsequent delay must rest with hon. Members who continued to object.
THE MARQUESS OF CARMARTHEN (Lambeth, Brixton)
wished emphatically to deny that any arrangement was made publicly in any way with regard to the North Sea Fisheries Bill. If there was any arrangement at all it was some private arrangement.
§ Objection being taken, the consideration was deferred.