HC Deb 30 April 1903 vol 121 cc1030-1

said he had two Motions down on the Order Paper, one of which was: "That the Order [21st April] that the Midland and Belfast and Northern Counties Railways Bill be committed, be read and discharged, and the Bill be committed to a Select Committee of nine Members, five to be nominated by the House, and four by the Committee of Selection. That, subject to the Rules, Orders, and Proceedings of this House, all Petitions against the Bill be referred to the Committee, and that the Petitioners who pray to be heard by themselves, their Counsel, Agents, or Witnesses, be heard on their Petitions against the Bill, if they think fit, and Counsel heard in support of the Bill against such Petitions. That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers, and records. That Five be the quorum." And the second: 'That it be an Instruction to the Committee on the Midland and Belfast and Northern Counties Railways Bill to insert in the Bill a Schedule or Schedules setting forth the local and through rates to be charged on the Belfast and Northern Counties Railway and on the Midland Railway, for the conveyance in and from Ireland of agricultural produce, minerals, and general merchandise, including special charges for small consignments of agricultural produce." When the Bill came up for Second Reading, he had moved its rejection in order that the House might consider the question of the management of Irish railways by English railway companies. At that time he was more concerned with the general principle than with this particular Bill, but he indicated at the time that unless satisfactory assurances were forthcoming the Bill would be strenuously opposed at every stage. Yesterday he received from the promoters a letter setting forth that they had neither the intention nor the desire to raise any rate now prevailing on the Belfast and Northern Counties Railway, and that was a very satisfactory assurance in view of the gross breach of faith of which the wealthy Great Southern and Western Railway was guilty after they had secured amalgamation with the poverty-stricken Waterford and Limerick Line. They stated in the second place their readiness to closely examine and Report upon any demand for better facilities, either in rates or otherwise, where any expectation was held out that development of traffic would result. Thirdly, the promoters offered to give to the Department of Agriculture the fullest information as to all rates, and to concur in discussing before that Department any question as to alleged unreasonable rates on their system. It was obvious, therefore, that this would be an enormous improvement in the present cumbrous, costly and almost useless system, but it was, of course, only an experiment, and was conditional on the Department not exercising their powers as prosecutors under Section 17 of their Act of 1899. Under these circumstances he did not propose to proceed with either of the Motions of which he had given notice.

Motions, by leave, withdrawn.