§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
rose to ask leave to introduce a Bill to facilitate the construction of railways and the establishment of other means of communication in Ireland, and for other purposes incidental thereto. He said the Bill would follow the general lines of the Act of 1889, with some modifications, suggested partly by experience of the working of the Act, and partly by the Bill dealing with the question of light railways in England and Scotland introduced by the President of the Board of Trade. The Act of 1880 constituted an important point of departure in legislation dealing with railways in Ireland. The prior Act of 1883 applied to every part of Ireland; but the lines to be aided under the Act of 1889 were required to be situated in a district where light railways for the development of fisheries and other industries were desirable, but where, from the circumstances of the district, special assistance from the State was required for their construction. Under the Act of 1889, State aid was to be given in capital sums by way of free grant, instead of, as had been the case in the Act of 1883, contributions made by the Treasury in pursuance of guarantee and dependent on the profits made by the line. Further, under the Act of 1889, in certain cases the entire cost of construction had been given, whereas, under previous Acts, the amount contributed by the Government was never to exceed one-half the cost of construction. In the Act of 1889 there was a clause to the effect that any promoters, not being an Irish railway company with a line opened for traffic, must enter into an agreement 1120 with such a railway company, or must have obtained a guarantee from a Grand Jury, before entering into agreement with the Treasury; and on these points the Bill followed the general policy of the Act of 1889. Under the Bill the Lord Lieutenant must certify to the Treasury that a railway was necessary to develop the resources of a district, and that, owing to exceptional circumstances, the railway could not be constructed without special assistance from the State. Under the Act of 1889 it was necessary that the Lord Lieutenant in Council should certify that the line was necessary for the development of fisheries or other industries. Now wider terms were used, and it was required that the Lord Lieutenant should certify that the line was necessary for the development of the resources of a district. The amount which would be available under the Bill was £500,000, and that amount might be advanced either by way of free grant or of loan; but, as the whole might be advanced by way of grant, he should imagine it was more likely the money would be utilised in this way than by way of loan. All, or nearly all the railways made under the Act of 1889 were made in congested districts. By this Bill it was proposed that the whole cost of construction and equipment might be advanced by the State if a district were scheduled as a congested district; but, if a railway were proposed to be made outside such a district, then not more than one-half the cost of construction and equipment was to be advanced by the Treasury. The Act of 1889 made it necessary that the promoters of a line should be either an existing railway company, or a company that had made an agreement with one; this Bill practically dispensed with promoters altogether, and it provided that if a line was to be made under the Act there must be a preliminary agreement that it shall be constructed, maintained, and worked by an existing railway company. The only exceptions to the rule would be eases in a congested district in which an existing company was willing to maintain and work the line, but not to construct it. The Bill empowered the Lord Lieutenant to substitute a simple and inexpensive procedure for the cumbrous and costly one 1121 of obtaining an Order in Council. It was also provided that lands could be entered on for the purposes of construction without having to go to the expense of lodging money in Court under the 17th Section of the Transfer of Railways (Ireland) Act, the Board of Works being responsible for payment when the amount had been fixed or agreed on. There were some new features in the Bill. No advance would be made unless the Treasury were satisfied that the parties locally interested had given all reasonable facilities in their power for the construction. In a non-congested county district not more than one-half the total amount required would be given. Where the Lord Lieutenant so ordered, a pier, quay, or jetty to be used in connection with the railway might be constructed. Where a free grant was made, the railway, for ten years or such further period as the Lord Lieutenant might authorise, was not to be rated for local rates at a higher value than the land had before the railway was made. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by moving for leave to bring in the Bill, which, he said, would be printed and delivered at once.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND (Clare, E.)
said that there would be some disappointment that the amount to be provided by the Bill was not considerably larger. ["Hear, hear!"] The whole sum provided could be well spent in the county of Clare.
Bill to facilitate the construction of railways and the establishment of other means of communication in Ireland, and for other purposes incidental thereto, ordered to be brought in by Mr. Gerald Balfour, Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Mr. Attorney General for Ireland; presented accordingly, and read the First time; to be read a Second time upon Monday next, and to be printed.—[Bill 308.]