§ Ordered, That, in the case of the Great Southern and Western and Waterford, Limerick, and Western Railway Com- 302 panies Amalgamation Bill [Lords], Standing Order 235 be suspended, and that the Bill be now read a second time.—(Mr. Caldwell.)
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
MR. LONSDALE (Armagh, Mid)
, in moving that the Bill be read a second time upon that day three months, claimed the indulgence the House always extended to a Member addressing it for the first time. He did so only because of the importance of the Bill, which, however, he feared, at that late period of the session, might not receive the attention to which it was entitled. Not only was the measure before the House important in itself and in its direct effects, but if passed into law it would also have a serious effect, and, in his opinion, a most injurious effect upon the future of railways in Ireland. As the House was aware, there was in the south-east and west of Ireland a practical railway monopoly by the Great Southern and Western Railway Company, who were the promoters of this Bill. What little competition did exist was due to the existence of the Water-ford and Central Company, and the only hope that there might be of more effective competition in the future lay in the separate existence of the latter company, which it was proposed to extinguish. As he understood, it had been the policy of the House to refuse to sanction amalgamation of competing companies, or at least to insist, if there was amalgamation, upon substantial reductions of rates over all the systems amalgamated; and ho submitted that the House should not in this case depart from its settled policy and assent to the absorption of one competing line by the other. The Great Southern and Western Railway had 604 miles of railway, the Water-ford and Limerick had 342 miles, and the Dublin, Wicklow and Wexford Company 144 miles. The Great Southern and Western and the Waterford and Limerick would, in his opinion, form a combination so strong as completely to dwarf all other lines and destroy any chance there might be of useful competition in the south and west of Ireland. The Dublin, Wicklow and Wexford Railway was not at present a competing line, but an amalgamation 303 between it and the Waterford and Limerick Railway, which was quite feasible, would provide an alternative route to Cork and the south of Ireland, and thus create keen and healthy competition. The measure before the House would destroy all hope of any such amalgamation, and intensify the present railway monopoly in the south of Ireland. Most undoubtedly such monopoly did exist, and the dangers resulting from it had often been recognised by the House. One of the greatest evils with which this monopoly was charged was the excessive rates beth for passengers and goods. The injury inflicted by these excessive rates on small farmers and traders in Ireland could not be exaggerated. They were seriously handicapped and crippled in their efforts to compote with their more fortunate rivals abroad. The iron collar of railway monopoly had too long strangled the efforts of traders and farmers in Ireland to meet foreign competition. The Allport Commission of 1888 stated that the rates and charges in Ireland for heavy goods, such as coal and building materials, were generally higher than in England, and that larger facilities were given for third-class passenger traffic in Great Britain than in Ireland. The rate from Limerick to London was 35s. per ton, while from Chicago to London it was only about 50s. to 55s., altheugh Chicago was nearly 1,000 miles from the port of shipment. [The hon. Member gave other instances of excessive rates.] Time after time various remedies had been suggested for the evils resulting from the railway monopoly in Ireland. That recommended by the Allport Commission was the setting up of a separate Railway Commission in Ireland, which should be administrative in its nature, and have full power to remedy grievances and protect in every way the interests of the public against the dangers arising from monopoly caused by partial or complete amalgamation of different companies. It also recommended that a general scale of rates and tolls applicable to all Ireland should be prescribed by Statute, to come into force as each amalgamation took place. He held that, until that Commission was set up, the House should not sanction an amalgamation which would make future control more difficult, and that no amalgamation stifling competition should be permitted. In 1898, when the Rosslare and 304 Fishguard Railway Bill was before the House, the right hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary to the Treasury gave the assurance that the Government were anxious that that route should be a competitive one and provide an alternative route to the Great Southern and Western line to Dublin; but if this Bill was passed it would prevent that alternative route being completed, and give the Great Southern and Western absolute command of both routes. Again, the House last year condemned the proposed absorption of the Waterford and Limerick and the Waterford and Central Ireland lines by the Great Southern and Western, and the Committee which considered the Bill were unanimous against the absorption. In the face of that announcement of the Secretary to the Treasury and the decision of a former Committee, he hoped the House would not sanction this amalgamation, which was moreover, opposed by the Irish people and a large number of Irish representatives. Again, this Bill did not provide, as it ought to do, for substantial reductions in the rates and charges as some compensation to the public for the injury which they would undoubtedly suffer through this monopoly. Such provision had been the policy of the House in cases of amalgamation by the London and North Western Railway, the Great Western Railway, and the Caledonian Railway. These companies, when they formed amalgamations, were compelled to lower their rates as much as one-half. It was said that there was an appeal to the Railway and Canal Commission if the rates were excessive. That, to his mind, was practically a useless remedy, because of the enormous, trouble and expense of approaching that body by people in Ireland. In fact, during the whole of the years that body had been in existence there was only one. Irish appeal to it, and that by Guinness and Company, the brewers. All that was fully recognised by the Allport Commission, which thought that the Railway and Canal Commission was not suited to the needs of Ireland, as the legal expenses involved made it of little practical utility in a country where the interests involved were comparatively small compared with the costs of procedure. Besides, the present Railway and. Canal Commission had only judicial, powers, whereas the Allport Commission strongly recommended, the creation, of an 305 administrative Railway Beard for Ireland as a remedy for the large amount of railway monopoly in Ireland. If this Bill was passed it would be going in the teeth of the recommendations of the Allport Commission and of all public opinion in Ireland.
To leave out the word 'now,' and at the end of the question to add the words 'upon this day three months.'" —(Mr. Lonsdale.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the question."
§ MR. PIERPOINT (Warrington)
said he was bound to say a little as to why this Bill should proceed, seeing that he sat on the Joint Committee of Lords and Commons which considered the measure. That Committee sat no fewer than twenty-seven days, and he ventured to say gave the Bill the fullest possible consideration; and they were distinctly of opinion that its passing would be a benefit not only to the South, but to the whole of Ireland. The hon. Member had asserted that it would kill competition in the South of Ireland between the Great Southern and Western line and the Waterford and Limerick line. Ample evidence, however, had been brought before the Joint Committee that the competition between these two lines was almost nothing. The evidence was overwhelming that the Waterford and Limerick line had been practically unable to compote with such a strong line as the Great Southern and Western. The Committee thought that the weak line should be handed over to the strong line, rather than that an inefficient and totally ineffective competition should go on. The Committee thought very strongly that it would be for the benefit of Ireland that the new route from the South of England by the Great Western Railway and the Fishguard and Rosslare Railway should be made as strong as possible, in order that there should be keen competition between the London and North Western Railway and the Great Western Railway for passengers and goods between England and Ireland. The hon. Member in speaking of the competition that would be done away with had omitted to mention the very 306 salient fact that the Committee had given the Dublin and Wexford Railway running powers over the Waterford and Limerick line, which would strengthen such competition as previously existed. He trusted the House would support the decision at which the Committee had arrived.
§ MR. POWER (Waterford, E.)
thought that whatever might be the advantages of Joint Committees they must all acknowledge that they had further complicated the already sufficently complicated system of procedure. It should not be forgotten, when the hon. Member who had just spoken asked the House to endorse the opinion of his Committee, that the Committee of last year had declined to recommend the proposals of the promoters. So far as he was personally concerned his views on the subject were absolutely unchanged. He was against the creation of a monopoly, even if that monopoly were more generous than the Great Southern and Western Company were known to be. He believed that very few Members conversant with Ireland would be prepared to support the Great Southern and Western Company in the policy which in the past had always actuated it. It was a fact that in his own constituency the county council were in favour of the Bill, and for that reason he would not vote against it, but at the same time he could not help, in stating his refusal to vote for it, saying that he believed the view favourable to the Bill would be found to be a mistake. When the idea that underlay this amalgamation scheme was first proposed, amongst the promises held out by the Great Western Railway was one that even if a measure of the kind was agreed to they would still continue their daily services of steamers between Milford Haven and Waterford. It was owing to that promise that the Member for Waterford had supported the Rosslare scheme; but the company had now made application before the Committee and obtained from it its consent that for the future all through bookages must be over the system of the Great Western and their steamers, thus shutting out the steamers that run from Waterford to various ports —there being at present some seven or eight sailings weekly. If that was carried out the Great Southern and Western Railway would have a monopoly of that 307 traffic, and there could be no healthy competition. In the interests of Water-ford that should not be allowed. The effect of the Bill would be to establish a bad monopoly, and place the country in the hands of a railway company which hardly anyone in Ireland could be got to speak a word in favour of. Members for the west of Ireland, who desired to get increased competition, might be satisfied, but he himself was convinced that the Bill was opposed to the true interests of Munster and that part of Leinster affected by it.
§ MAJOR JAMESON (Clare, W.)
said he was sorry that his hon friend the Member for Waterford's personal views were against this amalgamation, but he was pleased to hear that the county council of Waterford was in favour of it. He had not the smallest interest in either of the railways, and had taken no part whatever either for or against the amalgamation hitherto. But he had watched with keen interest the labeurs of the Joint Committee, which sat for twenty-seven clays, and he could say that they deserved the greatest praise for the pains they took, and for examining carefully into everything connected with the amalgamation. The constituency he represented was one of the most interested in the amalgamation. That constituency was possibly one of the poorest in the country, and he felt certain that the English Member who seconded the throwing out of the Bill did not desire to keep the west of Ireland in the state it was in at present. He was surprised that a Member for the north of Ireland, who had less to do with the west of Ireland than with India, should have been chosen to move that the Bill should be thrown out. And the hon. Member for Norwich probably knew as much of the west of Ireland as he did of Kamtschatka. The hon. Member for Mid Armagh stated that not sufficient time had been given to the consideration of the Bill. A more ridiculous statement never was made. The Committee sat for twenty-seven days, and it was trifling with the patience of hon. Members for the south and west of Ireland to make such statements. He would endeavour to point out why he was personally in favour, and why the county council of Clare and the majority of his constituents were absolutely in favour of the Bill. In the first place, when they were told 308 that this amalgamation would make a monopoly, the fact was lost sight of that a far greater competition would spring out of the amalgamation. They would have the Great Western Railway of England at the back of one line in Ireland, and the London and North Western Railway at the back of another, and they were bound to compete for the Irish traffic, and so render a great public service. That alone should induce hon. Members not to hesitate in conferring a great boon on the south and west of Ireland. One of the counsel engaged to oppose the Bill in Committee said that nearly all the county councils wore absolutely in favour of the amalgamation, subject to certain concessions being given—which had been done, or he would have opposed the Bill; but, said this counsel, the county councils of Ireland did not represent the feelings of the people ! He would tell the House, however, that the county councils did represent the mind and feelings of the people of Ireland. The farmers in his district had presented a petition to have their produce carried at lower rates, but that counsel answered that the farmers knew nothing about railways. He thought the farmers knew what they wanted just as much as the hon. Member for Norwich or the hon. Member for Mid Armagh, and he believed they would have what they wanted. He had not heard a single reason against the Bill which would hold water. The House would do a gross injustice to the industries of Ireland and to the agricultural and fishing population of the west of Ireland if they refused to pass the Bill. They had not asked the House for much money, but they did ask that the railway might be allowed to give them a chance by sending cheaper the produce of the west. He hoped hon. Members of this House would do their best to pass the Second Reading.
§ *MR. HAZELL (Leicester)
said the Committee which sat to consider this question inquired very closely into the matter for some twenty-seven days. The hon. Member for Mid Armagh based his opposition to the Bill upon the ground that it created a monopoly. He did not go on to show that the railways in Ireland were dependent more upon cross-Channel traffic than local traffic, and while this Bill would tend to competition in this 309 direction it would no doubt create a certain amount of monopoly in the local trattic. The Committee were forewarned as to the danger and difficulty which might come of an unregulated competition, and they had been careful as far as possible to regulate it. The county councils concerned wore practically unanimously in favour of the scheme. Although they might not represent the large trading concerns they represented the small traders and farmers in Ireland, and whether they were railway experts or not, they knew on which side their bread was buttered, and they knew that this scheme would develop their interests. One of the difficulties which affected the tourist traffic was the slowness of the trains. Evidence had been given of tourists who travelled from the west to the north of Ireland having sacrificed the tickets which they had taken on one line of railway and gone by another, because the trains on the one line were so slow. In some parts it was impossible to make a return journey of forty miles in one day. Throughout the whole of the evidence given before the Committee the opinion was expressed that the amalgamation if carried out would tend to the advantage of the community. The Committee was aware of the dangers of creating a monopoly, and a great number of witnesses expressed their hopes and fears in that respect. The evidence was not, in fact, strictly evidence, but rather expression of opinion as to what the result of the amalgamation would be and the fear that it would place the people in the power of a monopoly. That being so, great care had been taken to safeguard the community against an unregulated monopoly. Railway rates were not to be altered without the sanction of the Railway Commissioners; the present rates were to be considered the maximum, and the companies could not raise them unless they received the sanction of the Railway Commissioners. The fullest running powers were given to the Midland Great Western and the Dublin Wicklow and Wexford over the Water-ford Limerick line. In his opinion this Bill would greatly improve the condition of Ireland, and that being so, ho hoped it would receive the sanction of the House.
MR. USBERNE (Essex, Chelmsford)
said he believed that he was right in saving 310 that the Committee passed this Bill nemine dissentiente. Altheugh the local traffic was small compared with the amount of cross Channel traffic, still there was some, and it was very desirable that there should be effective competition between the railways of Ireland, which at present was not the case. Had there been effective competition he would have been the last man in the world to support this Bill. During the twenty-seven days upon which the Committee sat a very large number of witnesses were examined, and the only opposition to the measure came from these who expected to get something out of their opposition. Ho hoped, for the sake of the west of Ireland, that the House would allow the Second Reading of this Bill, and that time and money would not be wasted by its rejection.
§ SIR R. PENROSE-FITZGERALD (Cambridge)
said that, after sitting on the Committee for twenty-seven days, he formed an opinion which he had seen no reason since to alter. The question which the Committee had to decide was whether it would be better, in the interests of Ireland, to hand over to one company the absolute monopoly of the traffic of the south and south-west of Ireland, which undoubtedly would be the case if the Great Southern and Western and Waterford and Limerick Bill was passed. Although the Committee did not come to a unanimous conclusion, nothing had been said since, nor had any evidence been given, to cause him to differ from the decision which the Committee had arrived at. What was required was a Railway Commission to deal specially with Irish railways. The Railway and Canal Commission was not suitable to the needs of that country, and had there been such a Commission before this Amalgamation Bill was brought before the Committee, in all probability ho would have formed a different opinion to that which he now held.
§ SIR HARRY BULLARD
desired to explain the reasons which led him to second the rejection of the Bill. The hon. Member for East Clare had said that he (Sir H. Bullard) knew no more about Ireland than he did about Kamtschatka. He had been to Ireland, and he had never been to Kamtschatka. He had studied the question in Ireland, and saw no reason to alter the opinion which he had formed.
*MR. PATRICK O'BRIEN
supported the motion of the hon. Member for Mid Armagh for the rejection of this Bill, and expressed his entire concurrence in the statements of the right hon. Baronet who seconded it. The Committee which had inquired into this matter was composed entirely of English Members, who had not the opportunity of knowing the real feeling of Ireland upon the subject. All the Irish Members who sat upon the two Committees which sat in 1898 and 1899, and dealt with this question of amalgamation, declared that the amalgamation of these lines would result in a very dangerous monopoly for which there were no compensating advantages. That was the decision of gentlemen representing different parts of Ireland, who heard all the evidence brought before the Committee and all the assurances which were given by the railway companies— that if the people would open their mouths and shut their eyes they would see what they could do by-and-by. Everybody knew what a sham all these promises by railway companies to consider the interests of the public were. They never did and never would consider any interests but their own in regard to the running powers over other lines provided for by the Bill. It was well known that running powers between two companies were only useful in order that the companies could make a deal between themselves. Experience showed that the public always suffered. He did not suggest that the Committee was not actuated by the best motives and the desire to benefit Ireland, but he was surprised that the Government in such an important matter did not take care to have some Irish Members on the Committee. What would be said if in a similar matter with regard to English railways extending over three-fourths of the island, the whole of the Committee had been Irishmen? He complained that the procedure adopted on the occasion of this Bill had deprived the Irish Members of an opportunity of expressing their opinions upon it. It had the effect of muzzling
§ them and preventing their discussing it as it ought to have been discussed. He could not conceive anything more against the principle of Home Rule than the fact that the country was to be handed over to a monopoly of this description. The hon. Member for East Clare had attacked the hon. Member for Norwich for his want of knowledge of Ireland, but he ventured to say that after his month of labour on the Committee that dealt with and rejected this amalgamation scheme last year, the hon. Gentleman had a bettor knowledge of that country than the hon. Member for East Clare himself. With regard to the relief of railway rates, when this Bill was passed through Parliament if the companies reduce the rates in one district they would only increase them elsewhere. He hoped the House under all the circumstances would reject the Bill. If it was necessary that something of this kind should be done, the Government should come forward and purchase the railways, or as an alternative guarantee the dividends they are making and take the control into their own hands. The worst managed concern in the world was the Waterford and Limerick Railway. The manager lived in Limerick, the secretary at Waterford, the gentleman who presided over the company elsewhere, and the meetings were held in Dublin. They were carrying the mails for the post office at £10,000 a year less than the amount the other railway companies received for the same amount of work. The reason for that was that the company had been trying for years to fail in order that they might be bought up. The people for Ireland were now going to be placed under a monopoly of one company, and he hoped the House would prevent that by accepting the Amendment of the hon. Member for Mid Armagh.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 117; Noes, 38. (Division List No. 259.)313
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r||Burt, Thomas|
|Anstruther, H. T.||Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W(Leeds||Buxton, Sydney Charles|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Caldwell, James|
|Asher, Alexander||Beach, Rt. Hn Sir M. H. (Bristol)||Carson, Bt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Bethell, Commander||Causton, Bichard Knight|
|Austin, M. (Limerick, W.)||Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Lynn)||Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbys.)|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Brodrick, Bt. Hon. St. John||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J (Birm.|
|Chamberlain, J Austen (Worc'r||Hutton, John (Yorks, N.R.)||Pierpoint, Robert|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Jameson, Major J. Eustace||Pilkington, R. (Lanes. Newton)|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Joicey, Sir James||Purvis, Robert|
|Collings, lit. Hon. Jesse||Lafone, Alfred||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Cooke, C. W. Radcliffe (Heref'd)||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)||Richards, Henry Charles|
|Gorbett, A. Cameron(Glasgow)||Lea, Sir Thomas (Londonderry)||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Cornwallis, Fiennes Stanley W.||Leese, Sir J. F. (Accrington)||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Courtney, Rt. Hn. Leonard H.||Llewellyn, Evan H. (Somerset)||Sidebottom, William (Derbysh.|
|Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton)||Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn-(Sw'ns'a||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Curran, Thomas B. (Donegal)||Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham||Spencer, Ernest|
|Curzon, Viscount||Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller||Stanley, Edward J. (Somerset)|
|Dewar, Arthur||Lowther, Ru Hn J W (Cumb'l'nd||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier|
|Doogan, P. C.||Macaleese, Daniel||Talbot, Rt. Hn J G (Oxf'd Univ.|
|Douglas, lit. Hon. A. Akers-||Macartney, W. G Ellison||Thomas, David A. (Merthyr)|
|Fellowes, Hn. Ailwyn Edward||Macdona, John Cumming||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith)||MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. M.|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||MacNeill, John Cordon Swift||Usborne, Thomas|
|Fisher, William Hayes||M'Hugh, Patrick A. (Leitrim)||Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)|
|Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Mappin, Sir Frederick Thorpe||Walrond, Rt Hon Sir William H|
|Garfit, William||Maxwell, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert E||Welby, Lt.-Col. ACE (Taunton|
|Gedge, Sydney||Middlemore, John T.||Whiteley, H. (Ashton-under-L.|
|Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick||Monk, Charles James||Willough by de Eresby, Lord|
|Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon||More, Robert J. (Shropshire)||Wills, Sir William Henry|
|Green, Walford D(Weduesbury||Morton, Arthur H. A (Deptford)||Wodehouse Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath|
|Greene, H. D. (Shrewsbury)||Murray, Rt. Hon. A. G (Bute||Wrightson, Thomas|
|Grey, Sir Edward (Berwick)||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Wylie, Alexander|
|Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill||O'Dowd, John||Wyndham, George|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Sir W.||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens||Wyvil, Marmaduke D'Arcy|
|Hazell, Walter||Paulton, James Mellor||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Horniman, Frederick John||Peel, Hon. W. Robert Wellesley||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Howard, Joseph||Perks, Robert William||Mr. Maurice Healy and Mr. Malcolm.|
|Hudson, George Bickersteth||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur|
|Baker, Sir John||Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Richardson, Sir Thos (Hartlep'l)|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Flower, Ernest||Runciman, Walter|
|Billson, Alfred||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale-||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Holland, William Henry||Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarshire)|
|Brigg, John||Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.||Strachey, Edward|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Labouchere, Henry||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Bullard, Sir Harry||Lloyd-George, David||Ure, Alexander|
|Cameron, Robert (Durham)||Lucas-Shadwell, William||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Channing, Francis Allston||MacDonnell, Dr. M. A. (Qn's. C.||Whiteley, George (Stockport)|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||M'Kenna, Reginald||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W.R.)|
|Duck worth, James||Marks, Henry Hananel|
|Emmott, Alfred||Molloy, Bernard Charles||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Fenwick, Charles||Piekersgill, Edward Hare||Mr. Lonsdale and Mr. Patrick O'Brien.|
|FitzGerald, Sir Rbt. Penrose-||Reid, Sir Robert Threshie|
§ Main Question put, and agreed to. Bill read a second time, and committed.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Standing Orders relative to the Committal and Report stages of Private Bills, and Standing Orders 223 and 243 be suspended, and that the Bill be now read the third time." —(The Chairman of Ways and Means.)
*MR. PATRICK O'BRIEN
said he objected to the Third Reading being taken, upon the ground that it was irregular to do so, and there was no justification for the motion. He thought the Third Reading should lie postponed until Monday.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
I think the motion is in order. Such motions at this period of the session are very frequent, and when a Bill is put down by order of the House it cannot be postponed by mere objection on the part of an hon. Member. In this case the motion is peculiarly appropriate, because, as there is no Committee stage, exactly the same questions must arise on the Third Reading as on the Second Reading.
*Mr. PATRICK O'BRIEN
I still contend that the procedure followed in the case of these Bills is contrary to practice. We were prevented from altering a comma in the Bill. We could not submit a new Clause or an Amendment. I do say that it is sharp practice to insist now on the 315 Third Reading. I venture to suggest that the Third Heading should stand over till to-morrow. I do say that it is too much to rush such Bills as this through the House, and the House must protect itself against such practices. I have been thirteen years in this House, and I have no recollection of anything of the kind ever being done before.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
I can give the hon. Member one example of two stages of a Bill being taken on the same day by two motions both set down "by Order." Since the hon. Member spoke I have made inquiries, and I find that on 9th July, 1896, there were motions down in the case of the New River Bill, (1) that that Bill should be taken into consideration and (2) "that the Bill be now read a third time," neither "by Order." On 10th July they both appeared on the Paper as "by Order," and they were taken.
*MR. PATRICK O'BRIEN
I ask, Sir, whether in that case the House was deprived of all opportunity of discussing it in the same way as on this particular Bill?
§ *MR. SPEAKER
That is another point altogether. The hon. Member has the right still to ask the House not to suspend the Standing Orders and not to read the Bill a third time. The only question is whether they should take the motion now or on a future day. I have pointed out that there are precedents for doing it now.
§ *THE SPEAKER
Of course hon. Members can defeat this motion, which would practically defeat the Bill, because it would necessitate the Bill going to Committee after the Second Reading. The motion is that the Committee and Report stage be dispensed with, and that the Bill be read a third time. If the hon. Member defeats that motion, of course the Bill will go to Committee.
MR. PATRICK O'BRIEN
May I appeal to the Chairman of Ways and Means not to press the motion? I can understand that the right hon. Gentleman may have taken it for granted that 316 it would be for the general convenience of the House to proceed in the way proposed. He might at all events consider our views and allow the Bill to lie over till to-morrow. I would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman not to rush this Bill unnecessarily.
§ MR. MAURICE HEALY (Cork)
In justice to the right hon. Gentleman and the other officials of the House I think it is right to state that the procedure in this case, whether it be correct or not, is procedure that was adopted after consulting the Irish Members in the fullest and fairest manner. It is very important that these Bills should be disposed of. That was fully considered, and it was because of that that this special procedure was adopted. I do not think there was a single dissentient voice in the party to which I belong when that was proposed, and it cannot be said that any advantage has been taken of the Irish Members or that the officials of the House have acted unfairly towards them. On the other point, as to whether this Bill is to be taken to-day or to-morrow, I say that while the motion of the right hon. Gentleman may not be pleasing to some of the Irish Members, on the other hand I think he is consulting, so far as I have been able to ascertain the views of my colleagues, the general desire that this matter should be finally dealt with to-day, and that some Members who at considerable inconvenience waited over to have this Bill disposed of should not be further kept. The discussion on the Third Reading cannot be anything more than what has taken place on the Second Reading, and I cannot see that any advantage whatever would be gained by letting the matter stand over. It was somewhat as a matter of grace and favour that we got this debate to-day, because it is notorious that important public business is coming on, and it was the desire of these representing the Government that this debate should not take place at all. To put it over from to-day would be inconvenient to the Irish Members. The Government very fairly offered to sacrifice its own convenience, and that being so, I say that the matter should now be disposed of.
*THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (Mr. J. W. LOWTHER,) Cumberland, Pen-
If I thought that the position of the hon. Member for Kilkenny would be in any way prejudiced by taking the Third Reading now, I should certainly be inclined to do what I could to postpone it, but I cannot see that the position of the hon. Member would be any better for that. The Bill to-morrow would be in
§ Bill accordingly read the third time, and passed, with Amendments.