§ Adjourned debate on Motion for Committal of Bill [5th April] resumed.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That 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."—[Mr. Churchill.]
§ Mr. ERNEST LAMB (Rochester)
I rise for the purpose of moving an Amendment to leave out the word "nine" and insert "fifteen" and to leave out the word "five" and insert "seven." The Motion would then read:—"That the Bill be committed to a Select Committee of 15 Members, eight to be nominated by the House, and seven by the Committee of Selection."
I want to emphasise that the very fact of the President of the Board of Trade putting down a Motion of this kind shows the importance of the matter that will be laid before the Committee for consideration, and emphasises the fact stated last night that this Committee would not only have to consider the actual Bill now before the House but in the words of the President of the Board of Trade:—The whole case for and against amalgamation in the public interest.I submit that the second reading last night was granted by this House on that distinct understanding that the whole case for and against amalgamation would be considered by this Committee I want the House to appreciate the large departure from the traditional policy of Parliament and the Board of Trade consequent upon the decision arrived at by the House last night. I ask, therefore, that the House will, bearing in mind that the reference to this Committee will affect not only the actual three railways concerned, but the entire railway system of the country. I ask, therefore, that the House will appoint a much larger Committee than that suggested by the right hon. Gentleman. I want to ensure when that Committee is considering the withdrawal of the present guarantee that competition gives us that some substitute may be suggested in its place. I was rather struck by a reference made by the hon. Member 997 for Dulwich last night, in which he emphasised the fact that the opposition to these Bills, to this Bill amalgamating three railways, was coming from some districts where there is no competition now. It is because of that fact that it will affect districts where there is no competition now, if this reference is referred to the Committee on the understanding given by the right hon. Gentleman such a reference is so wide it is important the Committee should be larger than suggested.
I want to emphasise the point that districts even where there is now no competition will be affected by the decision come to. I speak as one who is largely concerned with the management of one of the lagrest carrying companies in London. We realise the advantages competition gives to us between the different railways, not only in the actual districts where competition exists. Take an illustration of the way we might suffer from the effect of this Bill. I instance the case of say, Penzance. We may have a difficulty of being served there, and not be able to force their hands, because we had no competition with any other railway. But we have got a hold over them at present. We can go and say we would take the traffic from them at some centre where there was competition. We might say to the Great Western, if they would not be reasonable over the traffic to Penzance we would take the competition traffic from Plymouth, and give it to the Southwestern.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
That has got nothing to do with whether the number of the Committee should be nine or fifteen. We are not concerned with Penzance.
§ Mr. ERNEST LAMB
The point I wish to make is that it affects districts far and away beyond the districts served by the present railways in inquiring into the whole case for and against amalgamation in the public interest. If that is going to be referred I submit that the larger question is raised if the whole safeguard of competition is to be taken away from the public railways. Therefore, I plead for a larger Committee so that all interests concerned may be the better represented.
§ Mr. JOSEPH WALTON
I rise to second, and I hope that my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade may see his way to accept the proposal of my hon. Friend who has just 998 spoken. Last night we were assured by the President of the Board of Trade that not only might we put to one side the question of the details of the Bill, but that the principle of the Bill—the whole question of whether we should reverse the whole policy of the State in regard to the railways in this country—and the question of sanctioning the principle of amalgamation of these three railway companies and the formation by that amalgamation of one gigantic railway trust to which traders and the public in almost half of England would be handed over to the tender mercies of that trust, we were told by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade that, unlike the usual experience, when a private Bill has received a second reading in this House, and is sent to a Committee upstairs, then it is considered that the principle of the particular Bill in question has been sanctioned by the House, but the Vote was taken last night upon the distinct declaration of the President of the Board of Trade that on this occasion that question as to whether this country or Parliament should sanction the principle of the Bill was left an absolutely open question to a degree that is not usual with regard to an ordinary Bill.
This is no ordinary Bill. This is a Bill, I venture to say, perhaps of more supreme importance to the future trade and commerce of this country and of the future well-being of the workers of this country than any measure we have had to consider during the course of this Parliament. And, therefore, in the interests of the traders who have not been consulted by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade and of the workers, who equally have not been consulted, in view of the enormous importance and far-reaching results that may arise if this huge amalgamation, this building up of a railway trust for the first time in the history of this country, is sanctioned by Parliament, then I venture to say that the results are incalculable as affecting the future well-being of the trade and commerce of this country. I am perfectly astounded that the Liberal Government, of all others, should give any encouragement whatever to a proposal of this nature. They tell us that if the Tariff Reformers carry their project that there will be created in this country, to the detriment of the people and the well-being of the whole community, gigantic trusts. Yet they are committing themselves to the creation of a gigantic railway trust, affecting what, 999 after all, is the mainspring of trade and commerce in this country. No one wishes to deny the railway companies fair, just, and reasonable treatment, but with regard to this Bill—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The Bill has passed its second reading. We have passed the stage of making speeches, which should have been made last night. We are on another topic now.
§ Mr. WALTON
I apologise for having been inadvertently carried away. I hope that the President of the Board of Trade will enable the traders of the country and the workers on the railways to realise that he does wish to extend to them all the protection and security that he can, by at any rate strengthening the Committee to consider the Bill upstairs and making it of the most representative character possible.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
The Committee which we are going to charge with the most important labours in connection with this Bill should be the best that the House of Commons can devise. There is no difference of opinion as to that. The question is how are we going to get the best, machinery, most accurately and usefully, to represent the responsibilities and opinions of the House of Commons. If I have to choose between the two Committees, of nine and of 15, I venture to think that nine would be the more practicable and more useful body. I think it is rather putting a tax on the House to ask it to supply 15 hon. Members to make the sacrifice of their time which will inevitably be required by this protracted inquiry. I am quite ready myself to hear arguments to the contrary, but having no other object in view than to make as strong a Committee as possible, I am advised by those who are very competent on these matters that nine would be the best Committee you could get under the circumstances in which we are met together. But I leave the question of the mere number of the Committee, and come to the question of the quorum of the Committee that is necessary to transact business. The advantages are enormously on the side of the Committee of nine, with a quorum of six necessary to transact business as against the Committee of 15 with a quorum of eight. What is most important in these matters is continuity of attention. To have eight out of 15 is little more than 50 per cent. of the whole number, whereas six out of 1000 nine is 66 2-3rds per cent. of the whole number. I put myself entirely in the hands of the House to decide whatever it wishes as to the size of the Committee; I only wish to point out that nine, with a quorum of six—I am advised, taking all the circumstances into consideration—is the most efficient body to examine this question.
§ Mr. COURTENAY WARNER
We all know the old adage that, as far as business is concerned, a Committee of two, with one of them away, is the best. On that principle, of course, the Committee of nine would be the best; but that is not exactly the object which we have in view in asking for the strengthening of this Committee. In the first place, there is the enormous scope of this Bill. It is not merely the amalgamation of these companies, or rather, the pooling of their work, but it is the possibility in the Bill—in clause 17—of extending this very much further to other companies; and we want a committee which will go into the question whether this is the beginning of a great trust. I do not take it for granted—like the hon. Gentleman who seconded—that it is a great trust, but there is the possibility, it looks on paper, that this might be the beginning of a great railway trust, which we in this country look upon as injurious to workmen, to railway employés, and to the public generally. Therefore, it is a question altogether outside what may be called the judge-and-jury trial of the small Committees, such as sit on ordinary railway Bills, or even of a Committee of this sort that is somewhat extended up to nine members. Another important point is that this House, as a general rule, are not experts on this question, but many Members of the House are, no doubt, connected with railway companies or are connected with trades, and there is considerable technical knowledge perhaps on these matters in the House, yet we want a certain proportion of the House to be able to hear the evidence on both sides. For that reason it is necessary to have a larger Committee than we should have to go merely into the rights and wrongs of a particular case. The House wants not merely the report of one or two people who are put there as judges, but it wants as a whole to get into close touch with the great questions that affect such a vast interest as this. Owing to its enormous importance the question is very different from that involved in an ordinary private Bill, and for that reason 1001 I think that the larger the Committee the better knowledge the House will have of the subject when it comes to a third reading, which, according to the right hon. Gentleman and those who supported it last night, will be the decisive point as to whether the House will agree with it or not, even if the Committee has found for the preamble, and I think it so important that the House should be in close touch with the whole of the details and the evidence that is given that the larger the number of Members the better we shall be able to judge of it when it comes on in the House for third reading.
§ Mr. A. C. MORTON
When this matter was first put down I thought that a Committee of seven would be sufficient. This was because I did not think it should go upstairs to an ordinary Private Bill Committee of four; but after what I heard last night I am strongly in favour of this larger number. Bear in mind that we have not had a full opportunity of discussing this Bill yet. I waited throughout both evening sittings, but never had an opportunity of bringing matters before the House that I wished to. I know that the right hon. Gentleman took a great deal too much of the available time, and, moreover, told us that he did not know anything about the matter except what he picked up from a man in the street. Under those circumstances the matter will have to be tried all over again upstairs, because it is in a very different position from other Bills. When it gets upstairs it should certainly be in the hands of a very strong Committee, who will be in a position to consider the matter fully, because we shall be told eventually, whenever it comes back—if ever it does—that the Committee have done so and so, and you must vote for it, because the Committee have agreed upon that course. Another reason for a large Committee is that most Committees are more or less packed. But you cannot pack a big Committee as well as a small one; consequently, you are more likely to have an independent Committee of 15 rather than 9. I trust the right hon. Gentleman will give way, and allow us to have a larger number, so as to get a stronger opinion with regard to this Bill after its discussion.
§ Mr. STUART-WORTLEY
This is a private Bill, promoted by private parties, who seek privileges from this House, and such a Bill is ordinarily committed to one of the smallest Committees that the House ever appoints. Why? It is because it is not 1002 only a right, but a duty on the part of that Committee to inquire whether the principle of the Bill, as expressed in its preamble, is capable of being proved by the evidence. For that purpose they call witnesses, and counsel is permitted to appear before them. Counsel, representing all manner of conflicting interests, are allowed to examine and cross-examine witnesses. Over and above that there is the right of every individual member of the Committee—and I hope they will always exercise it—to follow up that examination and cross-examination by an examination and cross-examination of their own. All this is at the expense of the parties concerned. Exactly in proportion as you increase the numbers of the Committee you increase the possibilities of indefinitely multiplying all these expenses. I admit we have no right to say that we shall not be put to expense in submitting proposals to the House, but I think I may respectfully remind the House that in appointing a Committee of nine Members the House is departing very far indeed from its ordinary and normal procedure. It is possible, if you appoint a Committee of 15, that every one of those 15 Members may exercise his right of examination and cross-examination, and also his right of submitting further witnesses. If this is done the proceedings may go to a great length, and the Committee may find that there is no conclusion to them at all. Then, if the expenses are so increased, who will say that the promoters will be able to bear such charges? I think it is only right, though I do not vote upon this Bill, being interested—I think the House will accord me the right of making these observations on this proposal to extend the numbers of the Committee.
§ Mr. A. MOND
The speech of the right hon. Gentleman is very moderate and very sensible indeed, and I agree with a great deal of it. The difficulty in which we find ourselves is that the President of the Board of Trade has insisted upon this House fixing upon a general inquiry into a private Bill. The difficulty which the right hon. Gentleman raises is one which I had foreseen all along, and is the reason why I wanted this House to reject the Bill on the second reading rather than inflict, to my mind, the unnecessary burden on the promoters of the Bill, of first spending a large amount of money on the Committee, and then not getting their Bill read a third time. The President of the Board of Trade persuaded the House not to adopt that course. This Bill is one of 1003 the most gigantic and important Bills of the Session; indeed of railway Bills in Parliamentary times. The President of the Board of Trade cannot now bring this Bill back to the scope of an ordinary private Bill. The very instruction the right hon. Gentleman is going to move takes the Bill outside the scope of an ordinary private Bill, yet the House of Commons last night would not have given a second reading to this Bill except on the clear understanding, and under great pressure by both front Benches, that this is the best opportunity of investigating the important question of railway amalgamation. Taking that into consideration, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to give us our Committee of 15 in his own interest and in the interests of the railway companies, as well as of everybody else.
The Bill has passed its second reading, and I offer no practical opposition to the progress of the Bill. I am quite ready to accept the decision of the House, but then we must get to the point where we can get something definitely settled. We must get this question of the principle of amalgamation laid down in such an authoritative manner by this House that the railway companies and the country will know exactly where they stand. If you have a large Committee it will undoubtedly carry more weight, because it will represent more interests than a small one. A good many people are interested in this question in the House, and the larger you make the Committee the more interests will be represented, and the more authority the recommendation of the Committee will have. Take the question of the Railway Conference. It has not had the effect it ought to have, and this is largely due to the fact that the Constitution of the Committee was not so influential, or so representative, or so authoritative, as it might have been. The same difficulties will arise if this Committee is too small. All the people who disagree with the conclusions of the Committee, whatever they may be, will say: "After all, they were just a small number of gentlemen; so and so was not on, and so and so ought to have been on." The larger you make the Committee the more authoritative the conclusion will be. I am perfectly certain there are more than 15 hon. Members of this House—more than double that number—who will be quite willing to give all the time necessary to arrive at a conclusion to this question. This is not a 1004 small matter. It is a revolution in our railway system. It may be necessary to make a revolution. But it ought to be made with as much authority as possible. The question of a few thousand pounds, more or less, should not count. Besides, I understand the Treasury are ready to bear a portion of the cost. We cannot stop the promoters from withdrawing this Bill whenever they like, though if they withdrew the Bill, what is to become of the Committee that is inquiring into the amalgamation so as to give an authoritative opinion to the country? [An HON. MEMBER: "GO on with it."] You cannot go on with it if there is nothing to go on with. I ask the hon. Gentleman to follow out what I think is the general feeling of the House, and to permit a Committee of 15 to be appointed, and a quorum of nine is none to large to consider a matter of this importance.
§ Mr. WALTER HUDSON
I rise to support the Amendment. When we consider the importance of this great question that is to be brought before the Committee, who have to consider it in all its important principles and phases, and to report to this House recommending what is to be the future respecting combines of railways in this country, we cannot have a too representative Committee of this House. There is no comparison between this Committee which is to be appointed and the ordinary private Bill Committee which we usually have for private Bills. There are many sections of this House of Commons, and we claim that the Committee which is to sit for such an important purpose should at least be thoroughly representative of the House, and be able to voice all the interests that ought to be safeguarded, and that would be injured as a result of a large combine being let loose in the country. There is a great and important question of control, and I think, according to the Press, even to-day the people are beginning to realise, what they did not see yesterday, that there is a grave principle now at stake, and that there should be a controlling power, with initiative, if the ordinary method of competition is removed. I do not support this Amendment in any factious spirit, but merely on the ground of having a thoroughly representative Committee' which will be able to do justice to such an important question. There is no analogy betwixt this and any other question that has ever come before a private Bill Committee of the House. Therefore, I support the Amendment.
§ Mr. REES
Notwithstanding what the hon. Member for Chester has said, I submit to the House that the Instruction of the President of the Board of Trade does not make this a general inquiry into broad principles, but is confined to the four corners of the- Bill. I have the Instruction before me, which says the Committee "are to make a special report to the House as to the advantages or disadvantages which would result to the interests of the public or of the passengers and traders using the railways of the three companies promoting the Bill," and so on. Of course, it may be urged that, in considering this matter, great principles will be decided, but in the speeches of hon. Members who have spoken too much has been made, it seems to me, of some remarks of the right hon. Gentleman indicating that, in addition to this inquiry, which will have to be taken, there will be a general inquiry as to the desirability of railway amalgamation in England. I submit with great respect that that is not the case, that the sole subject of this inquiry is in relation to these three railways, and that this case, like all others that come before these Committees, will have to be decided on its merits.
§ Mr. ERNEST LAMB
I have the words of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade. They are these: "In general to consider the Bill, and the whole case for and against amalgamation in the public interest."
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Everything I said referred to the issues raised by this Bill. Still, they are very wide issues.
§ Mr. REES
The right hon. Gentleman entirely confirms what I have said. I do not disguise from myself or from the House that great principles are involved in this case, although the principle of amalgamation has already been conceded, the only difference being that this is a somewhat larger amalgamation than those which have previously taken place. It is not the case that the principle of amalgamation now comes before Parliament for the first time—at least, I think not. The hon. Baronet the Member for Northamptonshire went so far as to say that the decision with regard to this case would be the model on 1006 which all future workings and agreement or amalgamations would depend. I submit that this is entirely going beyond the actual facts of the case. The view I venture to hold on this matter has been confirmed by the right hon. Gentleman himself.
§ Mr. REES
I am only submitting to the House what appears to me as one who lives on one of the three railways to be the issue; consequently, I have a good deal of interest in the question, though I have no pecuniary interest whatever in the matter. With regard to the size of the Committee, I venture to submit that a smaller Committee is more likely to deal fairly and properly with this case. The hon. Member for Sutherlandshire said that if we got more Members we should get more views, and that it is more difficult to pack a large Committee than a small one. That is true. But if you get a larger Committee it also provides room for some individual member with some impracticable cause like that for third-class sleepers, or anything else. You may take away from the Committee that aspect of seriousness which so important a subject requires, and which would be so desirable in the body which has to deal with it. That is the danger of appointing a larger Committee. The hon. Member for Newcastle said a larger Committee would be more representative. That is not a sound proposition. Of course we do not want all the members of a Committee like this to be directors of railways I agree; but it is desirable that the members of it should have that degree of experience of business which would bring them more or less closely into connection with the subject to be investigated, and if you had a larger Committee very likely you would have extra members who would not be likely to possess that experience, and who would be likely to introduce extraneous matters to the prolongation of the business and to the very great expense of the companies concerned in the promotion of the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman opposite has been accused of representing that this is not a very important Bill. I do not think he said that at all. I think he said that it was of vital importance to the company which he himself represented, and the criticism cannot fairly-be passed on what he said. Nobody in any quarter of the House will deny that the President of the Board of Trade, in dealing with this matter, has taken the utmost care to safeguard the interests of 1007 labour, which are represented on the other side of the House, or more immediately represented on the other side of the House. I cannot but deprecate very much the observation of my hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley that there will be anything in the nature of Liberal or Conservative treatment of a Bill of this character. Surely the treatment of this Bill is a matter of business.
§ Mr. JOSEPH WALTON
I made no such statement in regard to the introduction of Liberal and Conservative principles. I merely stated that it was a surprise to me that a Liberal Government should have given any sort of backing to the creation of a huge railway trust in this country.
§ Mr. REES
In describing this Bill as creating a great trust the hon. Member begs the whole question. The one main aspect—and it is really the determining factor—has been entirely left out of account by almost every speaker, and it is that railway companies are not altruistic associations. I think by calling this a trust the hon. Member is giving this amalgamation a name which it does not deserve. This kind of treatment must inevitably tend to discourage railways when they find it necessary to apply for fresh powers to enable them to raise fresh capital, and it will not encourage them to come openly to Parliament, but will drive them to those subterranean methods of procedure which are represented during the debate as so much less desirable for the settlement of such questions.
§ Sir ROBERT PERKS
I think the real point we have to consider is whether as sound a judgment will be arrived at by a Committee of nine as by a Committee of fifteen, and whether the presumed long inquiry and additional cost will be such as to outweigh other advantages. The old custom, when I had the honour of doing work in the Committee rooms, was to only have a very small Committee, and the great amalgamation, which was not a success, of the South-Eastern and the Chatham companies was undertaken by a much smaller Committee. I venture to think that the right hon. Gentleman opposite has somewhat exaggerated the cost of inquiry by a Committee of 15. It is perfectly evident that the larger Committee you get the more representative it -will be, and the less judicial it is the more it is supposed to be representative of the interests concerned. The old rule of this House, which I believe in later years has 1008 been departed from, was that nobody who voted on the second reading, either for or against a measure, was permitted to serve on those Committees. If you are going to have a Committee of 15, and you are going to exclude everybody who has given a Vote for or against, you are going to reduce your Committee to a condition of ineptitude. If I were interested in the promotion of this Bill, I should not stand in the way of what I venture to think is the general feeling that a larger Committee would, under the circumstances, be better, and I think a Bill coming forward from such a Committee would come to this House with greater authority than it would coming from a smaller Committee. I do not think the larger Committee would add to the cost or the prolongation of the proceedings. I do not think there is anything very serious to object to in the suggestion to increase the number from nine to 15.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The hon. Baronet has had some experience of Committees, and I think he will agree with me that in the first place it is more difficult to get 15 capable men than nine; and in the second place, when you have got them, it is harder to make 15 attend than nine. The hon. Baronet will agree also that in a Committee of this sort, where there is no compulsory attendance, the result will be that a large number of the Members of the Committee will not attend because it is-only human nature for some of them to say, "Oh, there will be a quorum without me, and therefore I shall not attend." This Committee will sit for a considerable time, and consequently it will be a great strain upon the Members. That strain will be far greater if you have 15 men who have other vocations and whose time is occupied than if you take nine men who may be inclined to sacrifice themselves for the good of the House. It has been said that you would be more in touch with the House if you had a Committee of 15 instead of nine. Now there are 670 Members of this House, therefore in that respect it cannot make any earthly difference whether there are nine or 15. I should have thought the extension from nine to 15 could not in the least place the Committee in any greater touch with the feelings of the House. It has been argued that it is unnecessary to increase this Committee because there is to be an extended inquiry into all sorts of questions and as to whether the general future of railways will be amalgamation. This is a private Bill, the second reading of which has been passed by the House- 1009 When the Bill goes to the Committee, will it be in order for that Committee to hold a roving inquiry into all sorts of matters which are not within the scope of the Bill? The title of the Bill is the Amalgamation or Combination of the Great Northern, the Great Central, and the Great Eastern Railways. Will it be in order for that Committee to engage in a roving commission of inquiry as to whether or not the London and North-Western and the Midland Railways, or some other railways in England, should amalgamate? It seems to me that the Committee cannot go beyond the scope of the Bill, 'and in the interests of the railway companies and of the time of this House I should be glad if you, Mr. Speaker, would kindly give a ruling on the point, so that we might know where we are before a considerable sum of money and a large amount of time are wasted upstairs.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The only answer I can give to the question put to me by the hon. Baronet is this: After the Bill has been sent to a Committee, it will be for the House to decide the terms of the Instruction. Everything will depend on the terms of the Instruction in the first place, and secondly upon how the chairman of the Committee interprets that Instruction. I am not inclined at this moment to give any interpretation of an Instruction not yet passed. If the chairman found himself in any difficulty in interpreting the Instruction of the House, he would probably refer to me; at all events, I am there for the purpose of giving such advice as I can, and I should give the best advice I could in interpreting the Instruction settled by the House. I cannot give the hon. Baronet or the House any further information than that at present.
§ Mr. LOUGH
The weighty words which have just fallen from you, Sir, might, I think, induce the right hon. Gentleman to yield to the Motion which has been made. It is evident that the arguments put forward against enlarging the Committee are based entirely on the supposition that this is an ordinary private Bill, and that it should be treated as such by the Committee. That was the argument put forward by the right hon. Gentleman on the Front Opposition Bench.
§ Mr. STUART-WORTLEY
Quite the contrary. My argument was that a very wide departure had been made from the normal procedure.
§ Mr. LOUGH
I think perhaps the right hon. Gentleman did qualify the words afterwards, but certainly the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London and. the hon. Member for Montgomery Boroughs, who appeared as an able assistant on this side, maintained that the matter should be treated somewhat as an ordinary private Bill. But the ruling, if I may so term it, which you have just given indicates that the whole inquiry of the Committee turns on the nature of the Instruction. That is a matter which ought to> count when we are arguing for the enlargement of the Committee. If even those who are opposed to the enlargement will look at the Instruction, I think they will be converted to the views of my hon. Friend who has made the Motion. There are no less than nine different duties, all more or less removed from the immediate subject of the Bill, embodied in the instruction. The Committee is told to examine all the proposals of the Bill in relation to the public interest; then in relation to the various private interests; to hear the Board of Trade and all other Government Departments; and, above all, to make a special report to the House of Commons, stating whether any advantages or disadvantages will arise from the adoption of the policy; and to consider the Bill from the standpoint first of the public, then of the passengers, then of the traders, and then of the servants of the companies. That is as weighty a reference to a Committee as any Member now present has ever heard given in this House. I do not think my right hon. Friend is really very hostile to the proposal which has been so largely supported in all parts of the House. The hon. Baronet representing the City of London said that 15 members would no> more represent this House than nine Members. The House is divided into at least four parties, perhaps more, and it is very hard to get those four parties fairly represented on a Committee consisting of a smaller number than 15. Fifteen will not really give any too great facilities for having fairly represented on the Committee all the great interests represented in this House. My right hon. Friend has taken an independent view with regard to this matter. He leaves it to the House, and I would make an appeal to those in charge of the Bill. We have discussed the matter for an hour, and there is a preponderance of opinion in favour of the enlargement of the Committee. The duties of the Committee are large, and I would ask the right hon. Gentleman who 1011 represents the promoters to consider whether he would not be consulting the interests of the Bill by agreeing to the Motion which he has made.
§ Mr. MADDISON
I think the supporters of the Amendment have not been well advised in constantly using the word "trust" in connection with this Bill. Some of us who voted for the second reading take just as strong exception as they do to the formation of anything like a trust. The whole question is what is the best machinery to report upon this Bill? I do not agree with my right hon. Friend when he talks about parties. I understand that in regard to private business the selection of Members is not on a party basis at all.
§ Mr. MADDISON
As far as party representation is concerned, it is to me a very minor point, and ought not, I think, to be the governing factor. My experience generally has been that to examine a very important matter a small Committee is the best, but I would say to the right hon. Gentleman that I think he would be well advised to support the larger Committee in this case, simply in the interests of a really impartial consideration of this Bill—a very important and far-reaching Bill, and one which has given some of us a good deal of trouble in deciding to support the second reading—trouble which, in my case, was got over by carefully listening to the arguments when almost for the first time in my life the two Front Benches converted me and sent me into the Lobby in support of the Bill. It is very desirable that the promoters should waive their objections to a Committee a little larger than the one they want, so that at the very start they may smooth matters over, and enable the Committee to settle down to present a carefully considered report—a proceeding which will be in the interests of the Bill, in the interests of the public, and in the interests of private concerns as well.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
By the indulgence of the House may I say that I adhere to my original opinion that nine is the more workable number, and that you could get through all the business you have to do 1012 with a Committee of nine. But much more strongly than I hold that opinion, I hold the opinion, after what has been said, that this is essentially a matter for the House to decide. I am not going to stand against the House in the matter at all. I want the House to appoint the Committee which it thinks best—not the Committee which I or the right hon. Gentleman opposite thinks the best. I want the House to entrust this important matter to a body in which it has entire confidence. That being so, I shall certainly not resist at all the proposal which has been made to increase the size of the Committee. The House has decided that this Bill should have a second reading and be examined by a Committee. Let us try to find the best Committee and to give the Bill the most thorough and at the same time perfectly fair examination. I think it would be for the convenience of the House that we should now come to a decision.
§ Mr. STUART-WORTLEY
The argument which I put forward on the ground of expense is one which I cannot abandon. The House must see that we are hopeless at present, in the face of the desire to increase the number of the Committee. We have to submit to the decision which the House may arrive at. What the promoters may do hereafter, I am not in a position to say. We do not agree to the proposal for 15. We think it is an injustice and hardship, and it must not be said that we are agreeing to the enlargement of the Committee.
§ Sir GEORGE DOUGHTY
It seems to me that it would be advisable to have a small Committee, which would be more likely to carefully examine this Bill in all its details, but if it is understood that it is the Bill, and nothing but the Bill, that is to be considered, it does not appear to me that it matters very much whether the number is nine or 15. The hon. Member for Chester has told us that this Bill involves a revolution, and there are some persons who think that there is involved in it a principle of legislation. I submit that it is not a revolution, and that there is no new principle involved. The House has for many years considered questions of amalgamation. Amalgamations have been made ever since 1840. The Great Western Railway and the London and North Western are probably two of the most influential and powerful in the country. They are the most useful, and give the best facilities to traders of any of the railway companies in England.
§ Sir G. DOUGHTY
I can hardly agree with my hon. Friend. These two railways are made up very largely of smaller companies which have been amalgamated. Therefore, since the House has for a great many years exercised the principle of amalgamation, I cannot see that there is any new proposal involved in this particular amalgamation. I am rather inclined to think from some of the speeches which have been made that there is a desire on the part of certain hon. Members who were defeated last night to kill the Bill tonight. It is with great reluctance I say so, but I am afraid I must come to that conclusion. The President of the Board of Trade in what he has stated has done his duty as representing the Board of Trade, and the hon. Member for Barnsley has gone one better, for he has lauded the Liberal party for doing their duty. If it is the intention of the House that the Committee to be appointed should faithfully and impartially examine this Bill, and not deal with amalgamations generally at the expense of the railway companies concerned in this Bill, I do not see myself that there is very great objection to the extension of this particular Committee, but I think it should be distinctly understood that these railway companies are not going to take this Bill into Committee to be shot at by everybody, and for the purpose of enabling an inquiry to be held and principles laid down for all kinds of amalgamations in the future. Someone has referred to the public interest, but on that question I submit that the Instruction which the right hon. Gentleman is going to move in regard to the public interest in respect of this particular Bill and nothing else should meet the requirements of the case. Therefore, if it is the understanding that the decision of the Committee is to be in regard to this Bill and not on general principles, I do not see why the number should not be increased to 15.
§ Mr. R. W. ESSEX
It seems to me that the other side of the House are a little bit ungenerous. They are setting many who have not made up their minds unnecessarily by the ears. How do the companies propose to deal with the public generally? We were told by the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London last night that the maximum of concession has already been given. Therefore the companies are going before the Committee, 1014 having from their point of view said their last word. I wish to see this House represented very fully on the Committee, so that all interests may be carefully guarded from every possible standpoint. It does seem to me that the powers given to these companies will be so enormous if the Bill passes that £1,000 more or less, so gigantic is the capital involved, ought not to weigh with them. I am not here to take any part in criticising the attitude of the President of the Board of Trade. He says that the railways of this country are in a parlous condition. Up and down the country everybody is dissatisfied. There is inelasticity in the development of rolling stock, and the right hon. Gentleman has thrown himself into this controversy to see whether at this time he cannot do something to help them. But I cannot get myself away from the fact that the right hon. Gentleman said the other night that this Bill must be seen to be one of a kind which will be followed by similar Bills. If this Bill obtains the ear of the House, does the House not see that it is the precursor of others? If this amalgamation takes place future amalgamations will take place, and although we may not be able to put searching questions which have relation to the aspect of affairs in future, yet this consideration must inevitably be at the back of the mind of every member of the Committee sitting from day to day. I sincerely hope that at this stage the promoters will deal with the House generously and frankly. When it is stated for the railway companies before going into the Committee that they have given away the last concession possible, it seems to me bad business to say so when setting out in an undertaking of this kind. I do not wait to say what this Bill proposes. My hon. Friend says that it is not a Trust, but it covers one half of the country.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is not speaking at all to the Motion before the House, but to the Bill as a whole.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Resolved: To leave out the word "five" and insert "eight" as the number of Members of the Committee to be nominated by the House, to leave out the word "four," and to insert "seven" as the number to be nominated by the Committee of Selection.
§ Ordered: "That the Bill be committed to a Select Committee of 15, eight to be nominated by the House and seven by the Committee of selection."1015
§ Ordered: "That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers, and records.
§ Lord BALCARRES
I have sat on many Committees—on one for six weeks—which have dealt with railway Bills, and I have always understood that every member is expected to attend regularly. Now it is proposed that no less than six members of this Committee may be absent without leave, although we are dealing with a Bill of immense importance.
§ Mr. COURTENAY WARNER
I do not see why the same rule should not apply to a Hybrid Committee as to a small Committee. The consideration of this Bill may last for a long time, and therefore it would be impossible for every member of the Committee to attend, say for two or three months.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Nine is a suspicious number. The question is whether nine or some larger number should be a proper quorum. The hon. Member says that you cannot expect anything like 15 members to attend.
§ Mr. WARNER
The Noble Lord said that every member was supposed to attend. Such a suggestion in the case of 15 members is an impossible condition.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The question is whether nine should be a quorum or a larger number, say 12. I will not deal with the hon. Member because he does not appear to understand the question before the House. The right hon. Gentleman asked a Member below the gangway what the number was to be, and the hon. Member said "nine."
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I must really protest against the statement of the hon. Baronet. [Cries of "Order, order."]
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The right hon. Gentleman mentioned the number nine, and an hon. Gentleman below the Gangway said it was a suspicious nine.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
The hon. Baronet in his uncalled-for discourtesy has made an incorrect statement. My hon. Friend below the Gangway suggested eight, and I suggested nine, and the reference of the hon. Baronet is quite uncalled for.
§ Mr. ERNEST LAMB
May I rise for a personal explanation? I mentioned "eight" when the right hon. Gentleman rose to move "nine," as I thought "eight" was sufficient for a quorum. [Cries of "Withdraw."]
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Because an hon. Gentleman uses an expression which some hon. Gentlemen do not like it is no reason why he should withdraw. If there is anything to withdraw, I will call upon the hon. Member to do so, otherwise an hon. Member might have to withdraw half his speech.
§ Sir G. DOUGHTY
I think that it will be very difficult to get nine Members to attend regularly on the Committee. Nine out of 15 on exceptional occasions seems to me to be a fair and reasonable number, and I hope the House will agree to the suggestion.
§ Ordered, "That nine be a quorum."
§ Mr. CHURCHILL moved: "That it be an Instruction to the Committee to consider the proposals of the Bill in relation to the public interest as well as to the various interests directly affected; to hear the Board of Trade and any other Government Department by counsel and witnesses, and to make a special Report to the House stating whether any and what advantages and disadvantages would result to the interests of the public or of the passengers and traders using the railways of the three companies promoting the Bill, or of the persons employed by those companies, if the powers sought by the Bill were granted; whether any, and what, safeguards are necessary for the protection of these special and general interests, and (in the event of the Committee finding the Preamble of the Bill proved) what provisions, if any, have been inserted for this purpose."
Mr. MOND moved as an Amendment to the proposed Instruction to the Committee after "Committee," in line 1, to insert "to receive all petitions to be heard against the Bill in Committee which may be deposited not later than five days before the first sitting of the Committee, and to hear
the petitioners thereon." He said: The right hon. Gentleman has only formally moved his Instruction without giving to the House any information as to its interpretation. I think he places both sides of the House in an extremely difficult position by his action, a difficulty referred to both by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Sheffield and by the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London. I think we are entitled to know, and the House wants to know, what this Instruction implies. I should like to go through the Instruction, if I may, in detail. The Instruction reads:—" That it be an Instruction to the Committee to consider the proposals of the Bill in relation to the public interest as well as to the various interests directly affected; to hear the Board of Trade and any other Government Department by counsel and witnesses." I would like to remind the House of what the right hon. Gentleman said in last night's debate as to what he intended to do, and on that this House gave a second reading to this Bill. He was arguing Against the contention of myself and others and he pointed out that:—
To compare such an inquiry as I am now asked to initiate, such an abstract and vapoury discussion with the kind of inquiry which will follow if the Instruction of the Board of Trade be adopted, is really to compare a sort of debating society discussion upon, we will say, murder and suicide, with a coroner's inquest upon the body of a man.
I might say he anticipated a funeral of some kind, whatever kind of an inquiry he is going to hold. He went on to say:—
There is as great a distinction between theory and reality as there would be in these cases. I suggest to the House that instead of an unreal and visionary inquiry a full examination of real and concrete proposals, with the actual interests represented and with the real facts brought by those concerned before the Committee, is infinitely of greater value to those who wish to see public interests protected and public opinion guided into larger combinations of railway enterprise and more perfect and more satisfactory methods of public and State control. Under the Instruction of the Board of Trade, we should have an opportunity of making before the Committee the whole case of amalgamations in the public interest.
That is the whole question so far as this Bill is concerned, that the Committee would examine "the whole case of amalgamation in the public interest." That, I understood, and a great many Members who voted for the Bill understood, to mean that the whole question of amalgamation of railways would be brought before the Committee by the Board of Trade, and I really am surprised to find that the right hon. Gentleman seems to repudiate the interpretation of his words. If he does, I think he will find a large number of Members who voted with him last night
were under another impression when they gave their votes. He went on to say:—
And we should make that case with all the information which we have acquired during these conferences, which have been held for the last year.
Is he going to make before this Committee the whole case of amalgamations? He cannot mean that retrospective inquiry by a Committee relating to these three companies' Bill. Anybody taking these words would imagine that the right hon. Gentleman means that we are going to have an inquiry into the principle of amalgamation, and that this railway Bill is going to be a body which will be vivisected, and its body will be operated upon. It is not a dead corpse, however, which you are going to have a post mortem upon, and you may have all your railway counsel and their experts to explain to you the beauties and the advantages and disadvantages of amalgamation. I thought it was very unfair to the railway companies, and I said so on the second reading, but the right hon. Gentleman would not listen to that. He said:—
Let us go on and consider the whole question.
but he does not tell us to-night if he sticks to what he said last night, when he said:—
You require definite and concrete proposals before you can achieve any further results. All we have learnt by these conferences we shall be able to put forward before the Committee in the public interest. I propose to secure that these thoroughly able and competent persons should help us and call witnesses who would unfold before the whole nation the essence and the main features of the great question of railway amalgamation.
§ The right hon. Gentleman, on a speech I made on the introduction, suggested the other day that he would call me as a witness. I have no desire to be called as a witness, but certainly I should not be a very relevant witness merely on the question involved in this Bill. If he suggests that he should call me as a witness it would only be to give my views as to railway amalgamation. I think hon. Members are entitled to be informed to-night whether or not this Instruction has this meaning, so that they can consider with their friends whether they will go on with this Bill or not. I gathered from them that they had not the slightest intention to land themselves in this experimental method, and being practical men of business I do not understand why they should spend thousands of pounds for the purpose of assisting a Committee on the general question of amalgamation. I suppose they will withdraw this Bill, and if that is so it is of 1019 extremely small use appointing a Committee of 15 Members of this House to consider a Bill which will not exist. That is the position in which we come to be placed. I am not opposing this Instruction; I should like to see it widely extended; but I should like to have a definite explanation of it which would guide the Chairman of the Committee upstairs in deciding what was and what was not within the scope of the Bill. On a point of order, need I move the Amendment standing in my name now?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
It was for that purpose that I called on the hon. Member, but he is not bound to move the Amendment if he does not wish to.
§ Mr. MOND
Under those circumstances I think I must move the Amendment. I do not imagine that my right hon. Friend will raise any serious objection to it. The Amendment has for its object to enable a petition which has not been filed on 12th February this year, under the Standing Orders, to be heard by the Committee not less than five days later than the first sitting of the Committee. This question is not a new one, and what I propose is simply following a well-known precedent. On the South-Eastern and Chatham and Dover amalgamation second reading debate a similar Amendment was moved, and Mr. Ritchie, who was then at the Board of Trade, accepted it with the consent of Mr. Cosmo Bonsor, the chairman of the company. I know there are some very large interests which wish to petition and have not petitioned yet, among them the Port of London, and there are several others which would be excluded if the Amendment was not made. Among them, I understand, is a very important representation of the Labour interests, which would be entirely excluded. The Instruction has widened the scope of the Bill from what it would have been without any Instruction, and it naturally follows that petitioners may now want to lodge petitions who would have had no locus standi whatever at the earlier date, and therefore the Amendment would only put them in the position in which he would wish them to be. I do not imagine that railway companies desire in the least that anyone should not be represented before the Com- 1020 mittee who wishes to be. I hope they will follow the example that Mr. Cosmo Bonsor gave, and will give assent to what is a very moderate and formal proposition.
§ Mr. G. J. WARDLE
I second the Amendment on the same grounds largely as the hon. Member. I, too, should have liked some explanation from the President of the Board of Trade with regard to this Instruction as to whether, in his opinion, employés would be brought within the scope of it either as witnesses or in any other way. Failing that, and in order to make sure that the employés get before the Committee in some shape or form, I second the Amendment. Otherwise the employés, it appears to me, would have no locus standi at all. There are at least 83,000 employés on these three companies, and the new clause which the President of the Board of Trade has moved does not seem, in our opinion, to cover the whole ground or to safeguard the interests of the employés which are at stake. It is in no factious mood at all that we deal with this Instruction. Personally, I am in favour of it, and the party with which I am associated intend to vote for it, because we feel that this is, at any rate, an advance upon any previous method of dealing with a Bill of this character. There is all the more reason why we should press for the Amendment and for the interests of the employés to get before the Committee in some way, as, although the various chairmen of the railway companies have stated that no dismissals shall take place, and they have given their pledged word for it, yet we find that dismissals are already taking place, and the interests of the employés are not being safeguarded.
A large number of the permanent men at Leicester belonging to the Great Northern Railway have been discharged as permanent and restarted as temporary men at a reduction of one shilling per week. That is stated to have taken place only so recently as last week. There are other grounds upon which the interests of the employés should be looked after. I have heard again at Leicester there are men being employed from 4.30 o'clock in the morning to 8.30 o'clock at night with an hour or two for meals, simply in consequence of new arrangements which have been made with the Great Central Railway under this agreement, which, by the way, has been in force for many, many months. There 1021 is every necessity, therefore, why the interests of the employés should in some form or another under this particular Bill be brought before the Committee.
I am aware that this is a new departure, and that during the past years when private railway bills have been brought before this House, the only way, and that a very rare way, in which they could be looked after at all was by blocking the Bill. There was no chance at all to get before the Committee either by counsel or witnesses, or in any other shape or form. I am glad there is to be a departure in that line. I do hope the President of the Board of Trade will accept this Amendment, and so give the employés the opportunity, if they desire, by counsel or witnesses, of getting before the Committee. There are other interests in which the employés are very much interested under this Bill. There are quite a number of clauses, apart from the question of dismissal, which deal with superannuation funds and pension funds, and things of that kind, and all of which are of immense interest to the men.
Three superannuation funds are to be wound up, and there is no definite provision that a new fund is to be started. I should like to say a word as to the dismissals. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman is not aware that a much more drastic clause with regard to this question of dismissals of railway servants was inserted in a Railway Bill in 1900, which prevented, which absolutely denied to the company the right of dismissing any of their men in consequence of the amalgamation. That was when the Great Southern and Western (Ireland) took over the Waterford and Limerick Railway. The clerical staffs upon these railways feel that there is great danger of there being dismissals. There are upon these railways 14 district superintendents with four assistants. All of them have those various departments with district superintendents, many of which will evidently be unnecessary if the companies are worked as a joint concern.
It seems to me that the interests of the employés require that witnesses in some shape or another should go before this Committee and that their interests should be safeguarded in the utmost possible way. The clause, in our opinion, is not sufficiently drastic. We have all of us examined that clause and we are convinced that it does not meet the necessities of the case. Therefore we want either that clause strengthened or want some power 1022 with the Board of Trade to prevent the interests of the employés suffering, and should be glad if the right hon. Gentleman could meet us in some manner.
§ Mr. STUART-WORTLEY
It ought hardly be necessary to pass this Amendment to the Instruction for reasons that I shall show presently, but in any case it seems to me to be one that must work great hardship. Its effect is to confer a locus standi upon a lot of people who have no locus standi at all. The precedent is relied on of the South-Eastern and Chatham Railways in 1899. Assuming that the form of words was in that case identical with those now proposed—of which I am not at all sure—the form accepted by Mr. Cosmo Bonsor was accepted by him at the time for some reason or another, probably that, the public not realising the full significance of the Bill, no more than nine petitions were presented against the Bill. We have actually got 69 petitions against the present Bill. On this question of petitions I may refer to the case of the railway servants. When this Bill was: introduced their case was raised by specific provisions in this Bill. They had a full locus standi, and the right to enter petitions. They were even more interested at that stage than they are now, because the provisions at that stage were much worse against them than they are now on account of the clause which the right hon. Gentleman has announced his intention to insert. Yet notwithstanding that, the railway servants have not petitioned against the Bill.
§ Mr. STUART-WORTLEY
There are a great many railway servants in this country, and I suspect that a very large number of them indeed knew perfectly well what the provisions of this Bill pro posed to effect, and what the effect would be upon their own destinies and interests. Similarly with regard to the traders throughout the country, they could not have been taken by surprise. In any case when this Bill was introduced it was worse with regard to trades than it is now, because the modifying and mitigating clauses containing restrictions and safeguards had not been proposed. The proposal now made is one which must increase the length of the inquiry without adding anything to the substantial securities which Parliament rightly and properly seeks to provide in the case of all proposals of this kind. I hope, therefore, 1023 that the House will not allow this Amendment to the Instruction without very serious consideration, and without taking into consideration the very marked restriction which exists between this case and that of the South-Eastern and Chatham. The hon. Gentleman who last spoke said something about a complaint in reference to the action of the Great Northern Railway Company last week. I am bound to say I think that in the case of specific facts concerning the conduct of a promoter of a Bill in this House, relied on for the purpose of debate, notice should be given to the persons themselves so that it would be possible for them to make every answer that can be. made. It is part of the elementary customs and habits of this House not to bring forward statements of the kind under circumstances in which no answer is possible.
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD OF TRADE (Mr. Winston Churchill)
Last night I was much criticised for taking my instructions from the promoters of this Bill, and to-night I am criticised by the hon. Baronet opposite for taking my instructions from those who are opposed to this Bill. The House will, I hope, realise the very limited sphere in which the Board of Trade, and I am speaking for it, can move in dealing with this matter. I am anxious that this Bill shall be fairly considered, and I am very anxious that private business should be examined in a scientific and cool manner. At the same time I cannot control those who are in charge of this Bill. It is open to them at any stage of the proceedings to say that they are not willing to go any further with their project. Therefore, bearing in mind these two considerations, it is quite clear that even the representative of the general interest, which I have to look after here—that I should not represent those general interests in any practical way if I put forward demands which the value of the Bill, to the promoters, will not bear. I want the House to see the limits to any effective bargain which I can make under the authority placed in me by Parliament.
The hon. Member for Stockport has asked definitely what will be the position of the men—the railway servants—before the Committee? He asks whether they will have access to the Committee. Well, they have not yet petitioned against the Bill, and unless the Amendment of the 1024 hon. Member for Chester is carried, I should say they would not have access to the Committee except through the medium of the Board of Trade. Under my instructions the Board of Trade can call any evidence they think necessary and proper. That is a matter which rests with them entirely, but I should certainly not consider any discussion complete unless the railway servants, who are immediately and vitally interested with this decision, have full access to the Committee in a reasonable way. But if the Amendment of the hon. Member is accepted, then it would be open to the railway servants, not only to make private representations to me, which would result certainly in some of their representatives being heard before a committee—I can give an undertaking on that point—but it will be open to them to make a petition against the Bill, and secure themselves a locus standi in the regular manner. The hon. Gentleman opposite has urged the House not to accept this Amendment. I do not think really it makes very much difference whether the Amendment is accepted or not. Because if there were any parties who were objecting to the hardship, through not having up to the present petitioned against the Bill, the discretionary power which I ask the House to give me under the Instruction, would enable me to put them right.
The companies who are promoting the Bill have not shown any disposition to contest the petitions against it on the ground of locus standi. There are no fewer than 68 petitions against the Bill, not 9, but 68, and none of these petitions have been challenged on the ground of locus standi, therefore I think it is quite clear that the company have not attempted to deal with the object entertained to this Bill in any narrow or pedantic spirit, and the fact that there are 68 petitions against the Bill seems to me to be an argument which should prevent them from taking up. the position that they would be greatly injured if there were 69 or 70 petitions. Therefore I submit to the right hon. Gentlemen opposite that there will be no material increase of the labours of the Committee or of the expense to the companies by the acceptance of the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Chester. On the other hand, it is well that the promoters should try to reassure all parties of the House and all parties in this country, railway servants, passengers and others, that they are earnestly anxious to 1025 make their Bill something not only to conduce to their advantage, but also to conduce to the advantage of all classes. If by agreeing to this Amendment of my hon. Friend they are able to satisfy a few more classes who are disturbed by their proposal, and are able to have it more thoroughly and fairly discussed, then I think that any inconvenience that might be caused will be repaid by the fact that they are placing it on a broad and surer foundation. This matter, in the first instance, rests with me, because I am moving the Instruction, and it rests with me whether I personally accept the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Chester. I say I will accept the Amendment, which I am advised does not make any very great difference, but will probably have the effect of removing some of the cases of hardship, or what are alleged to be hardships. I am asked to say a word on the subject of the Instruction generally. I have been animated by a desire to have a fair examination of this important proposal. I want it examined in all its bearings, and to do that will carry you a very long way; but I do not want to make this Bill a vehicle for discussion of railway nationalisation generally, or the amalgamation of railways not at all concerned with those now seeking powers from us, and between these two there is a very wide field. In my judgment the promoters of this Bill would have a right to complain, and I think it would be contrary to the whole practice of this House, if upon a measure for the amalgamation of these railways an Instruction were passed which would have the effect of enabling a general discussion to be opened on amalgamation without reference to these particular railways.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I do not withdraw what I said last night. It is perfectly consistent with what I have always said. I said that this Bill which has been brought forward does raise the question of amalgamation, and, in considering this Bill, in relation to every point, it will be open, under the Instruction of the Board of Trade, to bring forward a case, whether for or against amalgamation. I hope I have made that clear. It is my intention, so far as I can, to have the subject thoroughly examined in relation to this Bill, and go as far as I can without adopting a procedure which would place an 1026 unfair burden upon the parties concerned, and without adopting a procedure which would extend beyond the subjects properly raised in relation to this Bill. Of course I cannot be answerable for the intentions of the promoters. It is open to them if they are dissatisfied with the scope of the inquiry to withdraw their Bill. I have no control over that. It would be open to us to decide even after they had, withdrawn the Bill whether the Committee should not continue to discuss the general question apart from the issue raised by this Bill. I think the House will do well to take the Instruction as it stands with the amendment, which I accept, of the hon. Member for Chester. We ought to try and act reasonably and fairly over this Instruction and this matter. I am anxious to persuade the promoters to concede, and the opponents of the Bill to forbear. I am anxious to make this Instruction the means of a thorough discussion of the great issues raised, and at the same time not to go beyond what is fair and proper on a private Bill. It is not a matter that can be described in a precise definition, because naturally it must depend upon the give and take which exists when such a subject is being discussed and debated. The limit on the one hand is that, subject to fair play for the parties interested, these questions shall be examined in all their bearings, and that will involve the great issue raised by railway amalgamation. If the companies are dissatisfied with the course the discussion takes it is open to them, as it is open to all private parties bringing measures before this House, to withdraw their Bill if they think it is in their interest to do so. Between these limits I think we can have a most useful and valuable inquiry into this Bill, and I hope the House will arm me with the powers asked for by this Instruction to state the case in the national interest. I hope the promoters who have asked for privileges at the hands of the House, which cause great apprehension in many parts of the country, will be desirous of meeting us in a fair spirit, and, subject to the right to withdraw their Bill if they think they are treated with too much severity, I hope they will endeavour to do justice to the wish and desire of the House that this matter shall be fully examined.
§ Lord BALCARRES
I should like to say a word or two on the technical aspect of the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Chester. Is it a fact that the hon. Member for Chester's Amendment will extend notice to parties who at present have 1027 not got notice? The President of the Board of Trade says it does not really matter, because, under the discretionary powers he takes, he could even call the Members of the Amalgamated Society to give evidence and state their case. I wish to ask the President of the Board of Trade if the discretionary power which he takes under his new clause gives him the right to put into the witness-box persons who, under the Standing Orders of the House, have no locus standi before the Committee?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I cannot answer the question without consulting legal opinion, but my information is, after carefully consulting authorities on the subject, that under this clause the Board of Trade would have power to call what witnesses it chooses. The words are "To hear the Board of Trade by counsel and by witnesses," and that is completely in the discretion of the Board of Trade.
§ Lord BALCARRES
That confirms what I imagine is the general reading of the clause. I think we are laying down some rather far-reaching precedents in this matter and I am not sure that this is a desirable precedent. We have a most elaborate code of law—perhaps too elaborate; that might be discussed on another occasion—which prevents persons coming before these Committees who cannot satisfy the Standing Orders Committee that their locus standi is good. The President of the Board of Trade, I fully appreciate, has been hard pressed in this particular case. It is the duty of the Board of Trade to help forward railway companies in what they consider to be their interests as much as it can, and that view has been followed by the right hon. Gentleman, whose attitude has commended itself to many Members of the House. He has produced certain new clauses, of which this is one, and I want to point out how far this new attitude is going to take us. The President of the Board of Trade, with all his Parliamentary powers, now comes to the House, saying, "I ask to be given powers which the Standing Orders Committee under the rules of this House do not possess. I ask the right to call witnesses who the Standing Orders Committee would say are out of order before this Committee." Moreover, he is asking powers at the Government expense to place, say, the Amalgamated Society's views before this Committee of 15 Members, while the railway companies concerned would have to pay their side of the bill. I ask the House to 1028 bear in mind that in the case of many railways the Parliamentary capital cost has amounted to £50,000 or £60,000 or £70,000 per mile. Is it right that a Government Department should be empowered to call all sorts of evidence, to pay for that evidence, and have it given by persons who are not entitled to give it on their own account, and to place upon railway companies or corporations, gasworks or any of these great interests, the cost of rebutting that evidence? Personally I doubt it. Let us go one step further. The hon. Member for Chester made a speech in which he asked for an explanation. Although he has been a very frank opponent of this measure, he questioned, I 'think I am right in saying, the fairness of making this trio of railway companies pay the expense of defending railways in general against amalgamation or against what is called nationalisation. There, I think, he was reasonable. I am glad that the President of the Board of Trade has stated that this Committee is not to be made a vehicle for general discussion. I should like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary if it is not to be a vehicle for general discussion, what is the explanation of the terms of this Instruction? The Instruction tells the Committee that they are to consider "what advantages and disadvantages would result to the interests of the public or of the passengers and traders using the railways of the three companies promoting the Bill." It is difficult to think of any person who would not be allowed to have a locus standi before the Committee in view of these terms. What is the meaning of these words'? They have to consider the proposal in relation to the public interest as well as the various interests directly affected. Those directly affected include residents in the various districts and employés as well as traders and passengers. What is the public interest? I conceive that the public interest to a person very much interested in amalgamation in the West Country might be the chance of the bringing forward of a proposal to amalgamate the Great Western and the London and North Western Railways. If that be so, the right hon. Gentleman is going back upon his declaration that this Bill is not to be made the vehicle for general discussion. The President of the Board of Trade, the other night, almost invited the hon. Member for Chester to become a witness before the Committee. If that was really meant to be a serious indication, it might mean that the hon. Member himself was in a 1029 position to give evidence as a trader or that he was considered one who would be justified in speaking on the proposed amalgamation. The right hon. Gentleman has not fully explained the meaning of the words. I wish to know what is the public interest apart from passengers, traders, residents, and employés. Would the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce be entitled to give evidence before the Committee or not? I think these are all points which really ought to be cleared up. The President of the Board of Trade said that if the companies found that the witnesses brought before them were too onerous for them to reply to, they could drop their Bill, and that there was no occasion, if that happened, for the Committee to stop their labours. That must be a misapprehension.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
No, no; that is not what I said. What I said was that the Bill could be withdrawn, and that in that event I might be ready to recommend the House to consider by means of a further Committee the question which has been brought into the arena of discussion by the introduction of this Bill.
§ Lord BALCARRES
The same Committee. That is the point. You cannot have the same Committee. No man will be able to serve on this Committee if it reflects on or promotes the interests of his Constituents. The House ought to be warned that if this Bill does break down it will be impossible for it to work out the question of railway amalgamation.
§ Sir R. W. PERKS
When the Chatham Bill was before this House, in 1898, it is quite true that Mr. Bryce agreed to a similar amendment.
§ Sir R. W. PERKS
I have had a great deal more to do with railways than my right hon. Friend. My recollection is fully accurate, but I agree that this instruction does add enormously to the cost of this Bill, far more than my right hon. Friend seems to appreciate. The hon. Member for Chester said that anybody could be represented; but it is perfectly clear that the clause is almost identical with the Amendment moved in 1898. It is undertaking novel duties in connection with this amalgamation; and the very fact that the Board of Trade has undertaken these duties and has undertaken costs and preparation of evidence which 1030 otherwise would have fallen upon the petitioners is a strong reason for considering-this matter. It has been assumed that the case of a general locus has been covered by the inquiry which the Board of Trade is about to institute, with all the authority of the Board of Trade, and with the resources of the Government at their back, in a way which an ordinary petitioner could not contemplate.
Now I take the case put by my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford in the interests of the railway employés. We all know as practical men it is a very difficult position, for groups of railway employés, be they clerks, or drivers, or workers in the shops, or ordinary men on the road, to get themselves organised to present a petition, and to present their case to the House even under such a case as this. In the first place, it is very costly, and it is not always a pleasant position for the railway employés. The Board of Trade has assumed that task in this case. The railway employés must have their case presented under this Instruction by the Board of Trade, and I venture to think they will have it presented far more effectively in the interest of the railway employés than if they came there under any kind of organisation and said, "We are going to avail ourselves of this clause, and we come to present a petition against the Bill by counsel." In the first place, the Board of Trade would not then assume the same responsibility that the railway employés and the different interests concerned in that direction impose upon them. There is no doubt whatever some of us are very familiar with what is called the general locus, and nothing will contribute more to the overlaying and weighting of this Bill than the adoption of an Amendment such as this. It is especially unnecessary because the Board of Trade have undertaken the task, as I have indicated before. May I say one word as to how far the Committee will be justified in looking into the question of amalgamation. I very well remember when the Chatham and South-Eastern amalgamation was before the House. Evidence was brought forward and admitted by the Committee as to the effect of such amalgamations in this country, and I think no reasonable man, looking at this instruction, can for one moment deny that the Committee would have perfect power, not to inquire into the question of the amalgamation of these railways with the Northwestern or the Midland, or other companies not contemplated in the amalgama- 1031 tion in this Bill, but they will have the right to inquire whether the amalgamation of these southern lines, both of which are closely connected with the Great Northern and the Great Central, would be in the public interest. Seeing that this Amendment is, by virtue of the first Instruction, unnecessary, and would be very costly, and would place the employés of the railway in a somewhat awkward position, and would add very greatly indeed to the cost of this Bill, I venture to think it is an Amendment which the promoters of the Bill could not reasonably be asked to accept.
Mr. ERNEST LAMB moved to amend the proposed Amendment by adding at the end the words, "If the Committee thinks fit." He said: I confess I find myself in a difficulty from this Amendment to the Instruction. I will be very frank with the House, and say I am interested in the carrying trade. I feel what the House was led to do last night has created some concern, and I am not sure that the House realised what we were doing. When I come to this Instruction in its official form, and having regard to what was agreed to last night, I feel with the Noble Lord that the Press dent of the Board of Trade has placed us in a somewhat difficult position. His words were the reference should include
The whole case for and against amalgamation in the public interest.
That was generally accepted in the country. One of the leading evening papers, "The Westminster Gazette," has a leading article on the subject. Now his words are in reference to a private Bill, and that that cannot be made the vehicle of general discussion on amalgamation. I submit that that varies the discussion of last night. The right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill has emphasised the fact that if the Amendment is accepted it will not give a locus standi to people who have not at present that locus standi. When I moved to enlarge the Committee I wanted to ensure representatives of all parties interested. I want to assure the right hon. Gentleman that it is not in any spirit of factious opposition I moved. Therefore, with his permission, I would like to move an Amendment to the Amendment moved by the hon. Member, and that is to add at the end of his Amendment the words "if the Committee thinks fit." That would save any farcical or unreal petitions being deposited, and
would prevent any factitious opposition being used, by petitions being deposited by people who have no locus standi. But I do think that the Instruction, as moved by the Board of Trade, raises a very large consideration affecting the thousand and one questions which will arise in the case of traders generally, if this amalgamation takes place. I support the Amendment to the Instruction with the addition of these words, and I move accordingly.
§ Mr. JOSEPH WALTON
I rise to second the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend below the Gangway. I think the whole House will give the credit to a Committee of 15 who are to consider this most important Bill, that they will consider it in a thoroughly impartial fashion and examine the whole question fairly, as regards the just interests of the companies on the one hand, the interests of the public traders and of the employés on the other hand, and I do not think that any Member of the House would for a moment believe that any of their colleagues would unduly prolong the proceedings of the Committee, or increase the expenditure to be paid by the railway companies beyond what might be reasonable for them to have to hear. My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, in my opinion, has not withdrawn from the position which he took up either last night or in the previous debate. It is a question as regards the extent and scope of the inquiry which this Committee has to conduct.
§ Sir FREDERICK BANBURY
On a point or order, Sir, may I ask your ruling as to whether the Amendment to the Amendment is in order? The Amendment runs, "to receive all petitions to be heard against the Bill in Committee which may be deposited not later than five days before the first sitting of the Committee, and to hear the petitioners thereon." The Amendment is to add at the end, "if the Committee thinks fit." How can the Committee think fit after we have said that the petitions are to be deposited five days before the meeting of the Committee?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
These words apply with the verb "to hear." The petitioners will have an opportunity of appearing before the Committee, and the Committee has then to decide whether or not they will hear them. That. I think, is perfectly clear.
§ Mr. JOSEPH WALTON
I was saying that the President of the Board of Trade had stated that the Committee would have to consider the principle of railway amalgamation, and surely if they have to consider the principle of railway amalgamation between the Great Northern Rail-way, the Great Eastern Railway, and the Great Central Railway Companies, in considering the principle of amalgamation in connection with those three companies the Committee has also to consider the question of amalgamation for the country as a whole. What was done in this particular case would, the President of the Board of Trade said, constitute a model for any future amalgamation which may be proposed, I hope the House will come to a decision on this question, but I have confidence in the Committee of 15 which will be appointed to deal fairly with it, to make a thoroughly exhaustive inquiry within the scope of inquiry given to them, which will be a guidance to the House of an authoritative character when the Bill comes down for third reading, and which will also afford considerable guidance to them as a precedent in any future proposals of the same nature which may come before them.
§ Lord BALCARRES
Is it not rather wrong to let the Committee of 15 Members settle the matter? First it is the ordinary Committee of the House that settles these things, then the President of the Board of Trade undertook to do it. That I do not very much appreciate, but we can always attack him, as he is here responsible to the House. Now it is proposed that the Committee upstairs shall settle it—not whether a petitioner shall have the right to place his petition, but whether the petitioner shall be entitled to be heard. If it is taken out of the hands of the Board of Trade it ought to be placed in the hands of the Standing Orders Committee. That is the proper authority. That is the body that this House sets up at the beginning of every Session to deal with these things. We have taken it out of their hands and offered it to the Board of Trade. The right hon. Gentleman does not like it very much, but he accepts it. Now the hon. Member moves to take it out of their hands and put it in the hands of the Committee upstairs.
§ The CHAIRMAN of WAYS and MEANS (Mr. Emmott)
The words of the 1034 Amendment of the hon. Member for Chester are rather wide, and probably the best way to deal with that matter is to accept the Amendment which has been suggested, and to add "if the Committee think fit." Probably on the whole it would be better for the Committee to have the matter in their own hands, owing to the familiar circumstances which are raised by the Instruction and by the Amendment which has been accepted by the President of the Board of Trade.
May I make an appeal to the House, if possible, to come to a decision about this Instruction to-night. I admit the enormous importance of the Bill, and that it may very rightly take up a good deal of the time of the House, but already in regard to the second reading of the Bill and the Instruction there will have been occupied before we reach eleven o'clock tonight somewhere between eight and nine hours. The ordinary amount of time given by the House to the discussion of the stages of private Bills in the House is something like 24 to 28 hours, so that on the second reading and on the Instruction to this Bill we shall already have taken one-third of the average time given to the discussion of private Bills. It is difficult at times to find convenient time for the discussion of private Bills which does not unduly prevent hon. Members from discussing other subjects. After Easter there are a good many opposed Bills which may take the time of the House, and it would be extremely desirable if we could come to a decision on the Instruction.
§ Mr. STUART-WORTLEY
Of course, the Amendment puts us in the position of being saved by the common-sense of the Committee from anything like vexatious or pettifogging consumption of time by persons who have really no moral right to be listened to. I am entitled to draw attention to a still more important fact. The House have been led to believe that this Amendment of the Member for Chester is nothing more or less than a repetition of the Amendment which the House accepted in the Chatham and Dover Rill. That is not so. The proposal of the hon. Member for Chester was submitted by Mr. Bryce and the House did not accept it. Mr. Ritchie moved as a preamble to those words proposed by Mr. Bryce these words:—Subject to the rules, orders and proceedings of this House.Those are words of the utmost importance, Mr. Bryce's proposed Instruction not 1035 having the effect of giving a locus standi to anybody who otherwise would not have it. That is not the case here. The House has not been asked to accept the same safeguard. We are thrown out into the open and at the mercy of persons who under the ordinary practice would not be given a locus standi. This Amendment to the Amendment is a mitigation, and leaves a discretion to the Committee which is the only safeguard which stands between us against this most dangerous and indefensible extension of our liabilities under the procedure.
§ Mr. ARTHUR MARKHAM
I cannot agree that although we have been discussing this Bill eight hours it is sufficient. My Constituency is largely interested in the Bill. I am personally one of the largest traders in the House, and I have not had a single opportunity of saying a single word on this measure. Therefore I think my Constituency, being chiefly interested in this matter, has a right to be represented. I speak as a plain business man, and I want to get some explanation from the President of the Board of Trade, whose attitude I have not been able to understand. He has been riding two horses, and I want to know which horse he is going to ride on now. The President of the Board of Trade said last night:—Under the instruction of the Board of Trade, we should have an opportunity of making before the Committee the whole case of amalgamations in the public interest, and we should make that case with all the information which we have acquired during these conferences which have been held for the last year, which have been somewhat disrespectfully referred to to-night, which were instituted by my right hon. Friend, and which were abandoned for this very reason—that you could not get any further by mere words.That is a distinct, clear statement that the whole system of amalgamation would be opened if this Bill goes to a Committee. I asked him whether he withdrew that, and he said he did not withdraw. That is simple to any business man. Does the right hon. Gentleman withdraw that statement or not: Are you going to send this Bill with a clear and definite statement from the right hon. Gentleman, which he said he would not withdraw, and which is perfectly clear to every business man, that this Bill is going to bear the whole burden of the cause occasioned by the whole question of amalgamation. Does the right hon. Gentleman withdraw that or not? Does he mean to stand by the statement he made yesterday, or does he withdraw it, and if he withdraws it will he make a 1036 clear and definite statement that no question of amalgamation can be entered on which does not affect the parties interested in this particular Bill]
§ Sir GEORGE DOUGHTY
I hope the House will not accept this Amendment or the Amendment to the Amendment. It seems to me that both put the whole case into confusion. I am very sorry the President of the Board of Trade seems to have thrown himself into the arms of the Opposition—I mean those Gentlemen who have been opposed to this Bill from the very first. If this instruction is to be established it seems to me it gives a roving commission to any persons who choose to lodge petitions, and any persons who may desire to prevent it becoming law may brief counsel and appear before the Committee and occupy any reasonable amount of time that they may desire to occupy. I submit that that is not the intention of the Bill. It is not the intention of the Instruction of the right hon. Gentleman. For my part I would really like to know, as the hon. Member for Mansfield has suggested, what is in the mind of the President of the Board of Trade? Are we to understand his Instruction means that in the public interest, so far as the Bill is concerned, there shall be an inquiry? If that is the position, then I do not think that any one need contest it very much further. If the Board of Trade are to call witnesses, if they are to call gentlemen representing labour and gentlemen representing trade, as I think they should do, if it is limited to what obtains in this particular Bill, then I think it is quite right and in order. But if the President of the Board of Trade means that he is to call witnesses for the purpose of rebutting or establishing the case for amalgamation generally, then I submit we shall soon be in such a state as regards this question that the House will not know where they are. From the many speeches of the President of the Board of Trade and the statements made from time to time I really do not know what is meant by what he asks in this Instruction. It says that in the public interest the Board of Trade shall call witnesses, and it refers to this Bill, and this Bill only; but when the President of the Board of Trade gets up from time to time, in answer to questions and speeches, he leads the House to believe that the general case for amalgamation is to be made in this Bill. We want to know whether that is so or not because if that is the position 1037 I venture to suggest that those who are promoting this Bill will reconsider their position. It stands to common-sense they must do that. It may cost them £100,000 to contest this particular Bill before a Committee such as it is proposed to appoint, and then they may come to this House for a third reading and have the Bill thrown out. I appeal to the judgment of everybody here whether we ought not to be told frankly and plainly whether the President of the Board of Trade intends his Instruction, even if the Amendment of the hon. Member for Chester is accepted, to apply simply to this Bill or whether it is to contain powers for a roving commission on all general principles of amalgamation so far as railways are concerned. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will give the House plain, distinct, definite words on that aspect of the question.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I certainly withdraw nothing that I said on the subject of this Bill. The Instruction was entirely in accordance with the regular practice in regard to private Bills. In my judgment that
|Division No. 55.]||AYES.||[10.59 P.m.|
|Abraham, W. (Cork, N.E.)||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Murray, Capt. Hon. A. C. (Kincard.)|
|Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Nicholls, George|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Harvey, A. G. C (Rochdale)||Nolan, Joseph|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Barnes, G. N.||Haworth, Arthur A.||O'Grady, J.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, St. Geo.)||Hazel, Dr. A. E. W.||Partington, Oswald|
|Bennett, E. N.||Hedges, A. Paget||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Black, Arthur W.||Henderson, J. McD. (Aberdeen, W.)||Pease, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Saff. Wald.)|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Henry, Charles S.||Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)|
|Brace, William||Higham, John Sharp||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Brigg, John||Hills, J. W.||Radford, G. H.|
|Brodie, H. C.||Hobhouse, Charles E. H.||Rainy, A. Rolland|
|Brooke, Stopford||Hodge, John||Renwick, George|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Horniman, Emslie John||Richards, Thomas (W. Monmouth)|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Hudson, Walter||Richards, T. F. (Wolverhampton, W.)|
|Byles, William Pollard||Illingworth, Percy H.||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Isaacs, Rufus Daniel||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs.)|
|Causton, Rt. Hon. Richard Knight||Jardine, Sir J.||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Jenkins, J.||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Clough, William||Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Robinson, S.|
|Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead)||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Rogers, F. E. Newman|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Jowett, F. W.||Rose, Charles Day|
|Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Kearley, Sir Hudson E.||Rowlands, J.|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Kilbride, Denis||Schwann, Sir C. E. (Manchester)|
|Crooks, William||Lea, Hugh Cecil (St. Pancras, E.)||Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne)|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich)||Seddon, J.|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Levy, Sir Maurice||Seely, Colonel|
|Duckworth, Sir James||Lewis, John Herbert||Shackleton, David James|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Silcock, Thomas Ball|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Stanley, Albert (Staffs., N.W.)|
|Elibank, Master of||Macpherson, J. T.||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Essex, R. W.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|Evans, Sir Samuel T.||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Summerbell, T.|
|Everett, R. Lacey||M'Micking, Major G.||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Fenwick, Charles||Maddison, Frederick||Tennant, Sir Edward (Salisbury)|
|Ferens, T. R.||Marnham, F. J.||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Fuller, John Michael F.||Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E.)|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hon. Herbert John||Mooney, J. J||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Glover, Thomas||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Verney, F. W.|
§ Instruction will enable the Board of Trade to call witnesses and make the whole case for and against amalgamation in reference to this particular Bill. [An HON. MEMBER: "You did not say so."] I say so now. The whole case in reference to this particular Bill. I do not think I can find any words which more accurately describe my intention, and, I think, the general intention of the House.
§ Amendment to the proposed Amendment put and agreed to.
§ Question put, After the word "Committee" to insert the words "to receive all petitions to be heard against the Bill in Committee, if the Committee thinks fit, which may be deposited not later than five days before the first sitting of the Committee, and to hear the petitioners thereon."
§ Question put, "That those words, as amended, be there inserted."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 161; Noes, 27.
|Walton, Joseph||Wiles, Thomas||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)||Wilkie, Alexander||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|Wardle, George J.||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.||Williams, W. Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Watt, Henry A.||Williamson, A.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Mond and Mr. Ernest Lamb.|
|Wedgwood, Josiah C.||Wills, Arthur Walters|
|Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Duncan, Robert (Lanark, Govan)||Newdegate, F. N.|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Fell, Arthur||Perks, Sir Robert William|
|Banner, John S. Harmood||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Rees, J. D.|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Guinness, Hon. R. (Haggerston)||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Houston, Robert Paterson||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley George D.|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Kerry, Earl of||Stanier, Beville|
|Cave, George||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Thomson, W. Mitchell (Lanark)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir G. Doughty and Mr. Remnant.|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Markham, Arthur Basil|
§ Main question, as amended, put and agreed to.
§ That it be an Instruction to the Committee to receive all petitions to be heard against the Bill in Committee which may be deposited not later than five days before the first sitting of the Committee, and to hear the petitioners thereon if the Committee thinks fit; to consider the proposals of the Bill in relation to the public interest as well as to the various interests directly affected; to hear the Board of Trade and any other Government Department by counsel and witnesses, and to make a special Report to the House stating whether any and what advantages and disadvantages would result to the interests of the public or of the passengers and traders using the railways of the three companies promoting the Bill, or of the persons employed by those companies, if the powers sought by the Bill were granted; whether any, and what, safeguards are necessary for the protection of these special and general interests, and (in the event of the Committee finding the Preamble of the Bill proved) what provisions, if any, have been inserted for this purpose.