HC Deb 24 February 1899 vol 67 cc436-8

On the Motion for the Second Reading of this Bill,

ADMIRAL FIELD (Sussex, Eastbourne)

I am sorry I feel it to be my bounden duty to offer public opposition to the Second Reading of this Bill. I stand in a fiduciary position, acting simply on behalf of others for whom I am trustee—shareholders and debenture holders who are greatly interested in this matter of opposing this Bill, their interest amounting in the aggregate to close on £700,000 capital. But I do not desire to waste the time of the House by asking the House to divide against the Bill. I quite appreciate the fact that the various questions which surround this particular Bill will be fully considered in Committee, but, small as the line is by itself, being only a mile and a quarter in length, yet it is of great importance as a matter of public principle, and we are bound in duty to oppose the Bill strongly. I feel, however, that this is not the place to offer any real reason for opposing the Bill; therefore I propose not to divide, but to allow the Bill to go through and be discussed in the Committee Room upstairs. But perhaps I may be allowed to say, for the information of the House, that our opposition is not merely a pretext, but that it is substantial, and that it is our right and bounden duty to oppose it. The Bill is to promote a railway for passengers mainly, to which we do not propose to offer any opposition, but the land over which the line is to be made is land belonging entirely to the company which I represent, and runs parallel to a tram line which has been in existence over 40 years, and which is worked by the North Western Railway Company, and carries all the mineral traffic of that estate and that district. And this proposed line, small as it is, carrying passengers, can only be made to pay by the transfer to it of all that mineral traffic which is now carried over our line by the London and North Western Company, who now work it under a lease. It goes without saying, without using any strong language, that in its very initiation such a proposal is in itself unjust, and ought not to be permitted, I venture to say, with all respect, by the House of Commons. I desire to say no more at this stage, and, as I have said, I do not propose to ask the House to divide upon it.

MR. C. MORLEY (Brecknock)

In answer to what has been said with reference to this Bill by the honourable and gallant Gentleman, I should like to say that the proposed line is intended to meet an emergency and to provide for a long-felt want. It forms a connection between two great and important systems of railway—the Great Western at Nantyglo, in the county of Monmouth, and the London and North Western system at the very important and increasing town of Brynmawr, in the county of Brecknock. It is quite true there is a tramroad over this short piece of road, but I understand that it has no Parliamentary powers. It has been used for a long time past for mineral traffic, but it is not available for passengers, and I am assured, on what is good authority, that under no circumstances could it be Tendered suitable for passenger traffic. I appear chiefly on behalf of a very large number—many hundreds—of colliers, who, living at Brynmawr, have to pass over this route twice a day in order to gain the railroad at Nantyglo to proceed to their daily work, and also on behalf of a very large working class population who work at the collieries in the district, and who use Brynmawr as their market town. The Bill is promoted by the landowners, and is actively supported by the working classes. I hold in my hand a copy of a resolution which was passed at a meeting representing 9,500 colliers working in that district, who most cordially approve of the Bill. I will only further detain the House by saying that a very large number of public local authorities are supporting the Bill, including the county council of Brecon, the county council of Monmouth, the urban district councils of Brynmawr, Aberdare, Nantyglo and Blaina, Ebbw Vale, and many other important local bodies.


I think the gallant Admiral has taken a very wise course, and I am sure that the interests he represents will not suffer by it. The Committee upstairs will give all the weight which is due to the objections he has urged, and to any further objection which may be urged before that Committee. It is clear that the only case here is a question of competition, and that is one which is not usually discussed in this House, but is very fully gone into upstairs. I am sure the shareholders whom he represents here to-day will be very fully satisfied with the action he has taken.

The Bill was then read a second time.

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