DR. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire, W.) moved—
That it be an Instruction to the Committee on the North British Railway Bill that they may provide, if they think fit, notwithstanding Standing Order 163 of this House, that the respective undertakings of the Kirkcaldy District Railway Company and of the East Fife Railway Company may be vested in the North British Railway Company.
§ *MR. J. H. DALZIEL (Kirkcaldy Burghs)
said that this instruction involved questions of great importance, and he must express his suprise that no reason had been given for it. The Standing Order it was sought to suspend provided that before a Committee of the House could have power to amalgamate two Companies, those Companies should be called upon by the Board of Trade to prove that half of the capital of the different Companies had been subscribed. If the power which this instruction proposed to give to the Committee were given, it would be a very serious matter indeed to the town of Kirkcaldy and the neighbouring burghs. Therefore he thought he was entitled to ask for the reasons why the instruction was moved. So far as his constituency was concerned, he could say that all business men were 786 opposed to any further powers being conferred on the North British Railway Company, and certainly, if the Bill reached a third reading, he should take the opinion of the House upon it.
§ MR. JOHN ELLIS (Nottingham, Rushcliffe)
agreed that the House was entitled to ask for and to get some reasons for the suspension of this Standing Order. If the President of the Board of Trade concurred in the Motion, he submitted that he ought to give his reasons for so doing.
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
said he did not know whether his hon. Friend the Member for West Aberdeenshire, who was responsible for the Motion, had any reasons to give for it. Certainly if those in charge of Private Business came to the House and asked for the suspension of a Standing Order they ought to give some reason for it. As no reason had been given he begged to move that "this Debate be now adjourned."
MR. PARKER SMITH (Glasgow, Partick)
said he was very unwilling to trouble the House with what was an absolutely technical point, but as one of the directors of the North British Railway he would like to say a few words.
§ MR. J. CALDWELL (Mid Lanark)
The question before the House is that the Debate be now adjourned. I ask you, Sir, whether the hon. Gentleman is in Order in what he is now saying?
§ *MR. SPEAKER
I understand that the right hon. Gentleman, is desirous of giving the explanations that have been asked for. Probably in that case the hon. Member for Caithness will withdraw his Motion.
§ Motion for adjournment of the Debate withdrawn.
MR. PARKER SMITH,
continuing, said, that this Standing Order was frequently suspended without a single word being said in the House. It was a question upon which both the authorities of the Board of Trade and the officials of the House were obliged to satisfy themselves, that there was good reason for allowing to a company the special facilities asked for. These authorities had looked into this matter very carefully and had satisfied themselves on that 787 point, otherwise the business would not have been allowed to go through. He did not know whether the House wished him to enter into details with regard to both these railways, and as to the reasons which had induced the Board of Trade and the Speaker's Counsel to assent to the course that was now proposed. The position was this: the whole of the money which had been spent on one of these railways was North British money, and the Standing Order could be avoided altogether by issuing share certificates. The other railway was not yet constructed, and in that case it was rather a matter of transfer of powers than amalgamation. But there was another and wider point raised, which had not been brought forward on this occasion, because the Speaker's ruling in regard to the provious Bill had kept it out. Grave charges of breach of faith were brought against the North British Company, both towards the House and towards the people of the district which his hon. Friend below him represented.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member must not proceed to refute charges which have not been raised in Debate.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
Order, order. The hon. Member is now proposing to deny charges that have not been made in Debate. In that he is out of order.
§ MR. J. BRYCE
observed that this Standing Order, though a very useful one, was frequently dispensed with in special circumstances. This case was carefully considered by Mr. Speaker's Counsel and by the Board of Trade, and they were of opinion that it was a case in which the Standing Order might be dispensed with. It only gave the Committee power to consider whether it ought to be done.
§ MR. A. C. MORTON (Peterborough)
hoped the right hon. Gentleman would give the reasons, otherwise hon. Member would be voting in the dark. One of the reasons why the Board of Trade was kept up was that its officers should look into these questions and tell the House all about them. What the House wanted was that they should give all the assistance they required. Surely his hon. Friend was right in asking what the reasons were.
§ MR. BRYCE
If it is in order for me to speak again, I may say that the reasons were stated concisely but clearly by the right hon. Member for Partick. On the grounds he has stated it seemed to be very desirable that the Committee should have power to consider whether the Standing Order should be suspended.
§ Motion agreed to.