§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed. "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ Mr. GEORGE ROBERTS
I do not think I need occupy the time of the House for more than a few minutes. I have an Amendment on the Paper for the rejection of the Bill, and the question which prompted my putting it down has now become the subject of negotiations, between the parties on whose behalf I am acting and the company's representatives. Those negotiations are still proceeding, and therefore, I am anxious that nothing shall be done or said tonight to prejudice those negotiations or to aggravate the feeling between the parties. I am hopeful that the pursuance of the negotiations will result in a satisfactory accommodation being effected. Before resuming my seat, I would pray the indulgence of hon. Members while I make a personal explanation. A statement was issued by the promoters of the Bill which contains the following:—The Member for Norwich is acting on behalf of the 'Daily Citizen.'That would almost make it appear that I am using my Parliamentary position for the purpose, of promoting the interests with which I am politically indentified. I would not like the House to consider that I have intentionally placed myself in that position, because, as a matter of fact, I have been acting, so far as my knowledge goes, on behalf of a large group of newspaper people in Manchester. As I have stated, some little approach has been made on the matter with which I am concerned in connection with the Bill, and I am not without hope that a satisfactory settlement may ultimately be attained. I am fully seised with the responsibility of doing nothing in this House to delay the passage of Bills of this character. I would not like to lay myself open to the charge of having captiously protracted the proceedings of a Bill of this kind in this House, a Bill which contemplates the expenditure of about £600,000, and also implying some considerable developments in different parts of the country, and incidentally, of course, the employment of some additional labour. I thought that I might be permitted to make that state- 467 merit in order to prove that it was not in any light spirit that I put down the Amendment which is on the Paper, and which I do not propose to move.
§ Sir ARTHUR MARKHAM
I am sorry that I shall have to detain the House at some considerable length on a matter of immense importance, arising out of this Bill, to the mining industry of the country, owing to the recent decision given in the House of Lords on a technical point, which has caused the railway companies to serve notices on nearly all the colliery companies of this country to discontinue working in or about or near the railway lines. Under Clause 30 of the Bill of this railway company they prescribe the distance, within which, under the Railways Consolidation Act of 1845, minerals shall be worked, as at from 130 yards to 160 yards in width, instead of forty yards as prescribed under the Act of 1845. I would first briefly state to the House the position which has arisen. In the recent case, decided by the House of Lords, of the London and North Western Railway Company v. the Howley Park Company, the railway company sought to prevent the colliery company from working within a distance of forty yards from the railway line, under the Act of 1845. They were working a mine and approaching within forty yards of the railway, but the colliery company had to give notice to the railway company under the provisions of Sections 78 and 79 of the Act of 1845. Clause 30 of the present Bill refers to Section 78, and I will show to the House the manner in which the railway companies have endeavoured to meet the objections which have been raised on this point, and, have wholly failed to meet them. It is very difficult in a technical matter of this kind to explain it to the House. But if hon. Members take the floor of the House from end to end, and treat it as the railway, then, under the present law, the minerals cannot be worked to within a distance of forty yards on either side of the railway. That width of land is practically left to support the railway. For a period of seventy years the railway companies have always, when it came to working the mines within forty yards, either bought up the minerals or allowed the owners to work them, not only within the forty yards, but under the central portion which constitutes the permanent line. This has 468 been done practically in nearly every case, and, in point of fact, no damage whatever has been done while the minerals were being extracted. I must state that it has been practically invariable for railway companies to allow the owners of minerals to extract those minerals in the manner I have described.
In the Howley Park case the question of a tunnel arose, and no doubt it would have been dangerous to have worked the mine in that case, because the extraction of the coal underneath the tunnel might have caused subsidences or cracks which would have been dangerous, not only to the mineral traffic, but to the general traffic passing over the railway. The case came before the House of Lords, and that tribunal arrived at the decision that not only were the company entitled to the support of their railway but they were entitled to support outside the forty yards; that they were entitled, in fact, in common law, to support, inasmuch as if the mines had been extended 300 yards on either side, if the workings of the mine lowered the surface, and the surface of the line at all, notwithstanding the railway company could claim support—and this claim was upheld in the House of Lords. No compensation was offered to be paid to the owners of mines or the owner of the minerals. In fact it means in future that the railway company buys the land necessary for the making of their railway. They acquire a distance of 20 yards wide on which the permanent way and fences are erected. The railway company have for that line paid certain sums of money, and this House knows that is the market value of the land plus 10 per cent. In Railway Bill No. 4, the value of the land can be put down at £20 an acre. The owners of that land would be entitled to £20 plus 10 per cent. and also for severance damages, and the House will hardly believe me when I say that in respect of that acre of land for which the railway company has paid, it may be £25 or £50, they claim that thirty acres shall be left for the support of that acre, and for which the railway company has not paid a single penny. The intention of Parliament in 1845 was to protect the owners of property and those persons working mines from damage caused to their property by the railway company making a line. Parliament was generous to the railway companies in this sense, that no sum was to be paid in respect of the purchase of the minerals at the time 469 the land was acquired, but that when the working of the mine approached at or near the railway, then the railway company, and then only, paid for the mines if it was found necessary for them to do so. The railway companies claimed not only that they should be free from paying for the minerals underlying their own line, but in the forty yards limit as well, and now they are claiming that 500 yards of coal, or 250 yards on each side of the line, shall be left to support the line without any compensation being paid in respect of that. It may, and probably will, be argued that the coal under the line comes within the provisions of the Act of 1845. It being impracticable to work the coal under the line and leave the rest, I think it follows that the companies are using a technical finding of the House of Lords to levy what is nothing more or less than legal blackmail on the whole of the district. For years past, whenever the workings of the mine approached within forty yards, they have not only given notice to the colliery companies to leave the coal outside of the forty yards, but they have paid compensation outside the forty yards for such coal as has been left. Section 77 of the Act, relating to the acquisition of minerals by railway companies, provides with respect to mines lying in or near a railway as follows:—
"The company shall not be entitled to any mines of coal, ironstone, slate, or other minerals under any land purchased by them, except only such parts thereof as shall be necessary to be dug or carried away or used in the construction of the works, unless the same shall have been expressly purchased; and all such mines, excepting as aforesaid, shall be deemed to be excepted out of the conveyance of such lands, unless they shall have been expressly named therein and conveyed thereby."
That Clause means that where a railway company purchases land, unless the minerals are actually conveyed to them the minerals remain vested in the owners of the land adjoining. Section 78 of the Act of 1845, which is the Section in dispute in this Bill, reads in the marginal note as follows:—
"Mines lying near the railway not to be worked if the company willing to purchase them."
The Section continues:—
"If the owner, lessee, or occupier of any mines or minerals lying under the railway or any of the works connected 470 therewith, or within, prescribed distance, or, where no distance shall be presented; forty yards therefrom, be desirous of working the same, such owner, lessee, or occupier shall give to the company notice in writing of his intention so to do, thirty days before the commencement of working; and upon the receipt of such notice it shall be lawful for the company to cause such mines to be inspected by any person appointed by them for the purpose; and if it appear to the company that the working of such mines or minerals is likely to damage the works of the railway, and if the company be willing to make compensation for such mines or any part thereof to such owner, lessee, or occupier, do not agree as to the amount of such compensation, the same shall be settled as in other cases of disputed compensation."
The marginal note of Section 79 reads:—
"If company unwilling to purchase owner may work the mines."
The Section continues:—
"If before the expiration of such thirty days the company do not state their willingness to treat with such owner, lessee, or occupier for the payment of such compensation, it shall be lawful for him to work the said mines or any part thereof for which the company shall not have agreed to pay compensation, so that the same be done in a manner proper and necessary for the beneficial working thereof, and according to the usual manner of working such mines in the district where the same shall be situate; and if any damage or obstruction be occasioned to the railway or works by improper working of such mines, the same shall be forthwith repaired or removed, as the case may require, and such damage made good by the owner, lessee, or occupier of such mines or minerals, and at his own expense; and if such repair or removal be not forthwith done, or, if the company shall so think fit, without waiting for the same to be done, by such owner, lessee, or occupier, it shall be lawful for the company to execute the same, and recover from such owner, lessee, or occupier the expense occasioned thereby, by action in any of the Superior Courts."
Section 81 provides: "The company shall from time to time pay to the owner, lessee, or occupier of any such mines extending so as to lie on both sides of 471 the railway all such additional expenses and losses as shall be incurred by such owner, lessee, or occupier by reason of the severance of lands lying over such mines by the railway, or of the continuous working of such mines being interrupted as aforesaid, or by reason of the same being worked in such manner and under such restrictions as not to prejudice or injure the railway, and for any minerals not purchased by the company which cannot be obtained by reason of making and maintaining the railway; and if any dispute or question shall arise between the company and such owner, lessee, or occupier as aforesaid, touching the amount of such losses or expenses, the same shall be settled by arbitration."
The position is this. The conditions which applied to mining seventy years ago are wholly different from those which apply to-day. Seventy years ago the mines in this country were worked at a very shallow depth, when Parliament enacted that forty yards should be left. Instead of a depth of 50 or 100 yards which then prevailed we now have depths of from 800 to 1,000 yards. The railway companies having obtained that decision in the Howley Park case, to the consternation of the mining community, not only in England but in Wales and elsewhere, served notice on hundreds of colliery companies, threatening them with injunctions unless they forthwith discontinue working at or near railways, and claiming in effect support from their lines for which they are not going to pay one farthing to the owner, occupier or working lessee from the land and minerals so acquired. It was never the intention of Parliament, as I have shown by the Railway Clauses Consolidation Act of 1845, that the company should buy 1 acre of land, and should acquire 30 acres to support that acre, or that for a distance of 242 yards by 20 yards wide, 600 yards of minerals should be left intact to support that 20 yards of width, without the railway company paying a farthing to the owners for interrupting the working of that portion. On the strength of a mere technical point of law the railway companies are calling upon working lessees and owners of mines to agree to a form of blackmail, inasmuch as the owners of mines are practically to withdraw any claims they may have against the railway companies in 472 respect of other matters wholly irrelevant to this question. The railway companies are using this lever to blackmail the largest industry in the country. "Blackmail" is a strong word, but I consider that it is none too strong for the facts of the case. Here are railway companies who know perfectly well the law under which Parliament granted them permission to make railways, although the conditions have changed, have taken no single step to bring themselves into general conformity with the law as it has always been held to be for the last seventy years, but base themselves purely on a technical case decided in the House of Lords. To show how extraordinary the position is in respect to this great industry of mining, I may point out that there has been no law passed in respect to the mining industry for many years. There have been many Acts of Parliament in regard to labour questions, but the recommendations of Royal Commissions in regard to the conditions under which the leases of mines are held have always been ignored by Parliament. Parliament has not had time to deal with cases of this kind, which no doubt it would have dealt with if they had been brought before its notice. The House of Lords threw the whole question of mining into the melting pot by another decision not long ago. They held in the case of Bishop Auckland v. Butterknowle that no lessee or owner of a mine was entitled to let down the surface unless there was an express provision permitting them so to do.
§ Sir A. MARKHAM
The House of Lords held in effect that unless there was an actual clause giving the right, or—accepting the hon. Baronet's correction—unless the right were implied, a person working a mine had no right to let down the surface at all. It is impossible to work a mine without letting down the surface. If you extract five feet of coal the surface subsides about three feet. As a general rule the surface subsides about two-thirds of the depth of the coal extracted. The hon. Baronet (Sir W. P. Beale) says that where there is an implied right the Courts have held that the House of Lords decision does not apply. I have been very intimately associated with this particular case. Though large sums of money had been paid in advance for 473 coal, after the decision of the House of Lords the owner of the property said, "Under the decision of the House of Lords, although you have paid for all the coal, you are not entitled to let down the surface. Therefore, you must pay over again." When the matter was taken into Court the judge said that it was such a monstrous case that if he could find any loophole to put the claimant out of Court he would do so. Having regard to the fact that a pillar had been left for support, the learned judge stretched the law and gave a decision in favour of my company. I quote that case because the decision of the House of Lords there makes every mining agreement in the whole of the United Kingdom absolutely worthless. Unless this right is implied, all the leases are worthless, and the people have to pay over again for what they have already paid. That is not honest dealing, nor is it what the Legislature intended. In Railway No. 4 the minerals have been acquired by a German syndicate who are shortly to work the mines in the parish of Styrrup. In the Bill a distance of 150 yards is prescribed, owing, I suppose, to the solicitor of the landlord having put pressure on the railway company. But in point of fact that prescribed distance of 150 yards is absolutely worthless, because I have from the same railway company an intimation that they require not 150 yards, but 600 yards to be left for the support of their line. I ask the House whether it is reasonable, when railway companies are coming to Parliament, as they have to do, year by year to obtain sanction for the building of railways, that they should use a technical point which is outside all questions of common honesty in order to evade their obligations and defeat the intention of Parliament? The intention of Parliament is perfectly clear, and the railway companies by taking this action are placing themselves in a position which no honourable body of men ought to occupy. They have their legal rights just as all other people have, but they have no right to be paid twice over for minerals.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER(Mr. Maclean)
The hon. Baronet seems to be urging grounds for the amendment of the general law. His remarks do not seem to be relevant to the particular railway company whose Bill is now before the House.
§ Sir A. MARKHAM
With great respect, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I was at that particular moment referring to Railway Bill 474 No. 4, where the prescribed distance is given as 150 yards, and I was showing to the House that this Clause was absolutely valueless to protect the interests of the people with whose property the railway is going to deal. Surely I am in order, in the provision of powers in a Bill submitted to Parliament, where there is a prescribed distance placed within the Bill, in pointing out that it is wholly insufficient to meet the exigencies of the case, and that in point of fact this 150 yards—
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I am afraid I did not quite recognise the point because of the somewhat long introduction which the hon. Baronet had given to the House.
§ Sir A. MARKHAM
I must apologise for the very long introduction, but the matter is a very difficult and complicated one, and it is somewhat difficult to make it plain to the House. It is only because of the enormous importance attaching to the matter to those like myself who are connected with one of the largest industries in this country, that I have thought it right to deal at some length with a point which has become acute, inasmuch as the railway companies have only started to send out these notices within the last week or ten days. I believe in Lancashire the railway companies served the notices some few weeks ago; but these notices that I refer to have only in shoals tumbled into my office last week or the week before. I say that the North-Eastern Railway Company and the others concerned are not entitled to come to Parliament and ask that 150 yards should be left in support of these lines, when the North-Eastern engineers are asking that where the mine is 300, 400, 500, or up to 1,000 yards deep, that a similar number of yards should be left for the support of the railway on each side, I should not say on either side, but for the double width. The owners of property have misconceived what the real facts are in regard to the 150 yards. If the railway companies are entitled to say, by a decision of the House of Lords, that the natural support outside of the 40 yards should be left, I fail to see why under Clause 30 they cannot say the same thing for the 150 yards. The owners of property, therefore, are in no better position. I am rather glad that the hon. Member near to me seems to share that opinion. I believe that as one of the solicitors, or a member of the firm that is connected with—
§ Sir A. MARKHAM
This, then, is the case briefly stated. The President of the Board of Trade has a very grave responsibility in this matter. Never on any previous occasion have I blocked a railway Bill. I have always thought that it was wrong to dispute small matters on the Second Reading of railway Bills, and that it was the duty of Parliament where large sums of money were being spent to provide labour, and facilities for more railways, that every facility should be given by Parliament for these Bills to go through. But here is a question of principle involved. Here you have a case where the railway companies are availing themselves of a technical advantage, and are seeking to destroy the real intention of Parliament expressed in the Railway Clauses Act 1845. I ask the hon. Member if he is going to follow me, to justify this fact, that a railway company which buys an acre of land for which the directors pay £50, shall be entitled to claim thirty acres in support of that one acre, and that 360,000 tons of coal should be left in that thirty acres, and not a penny paid to the owner or the lessees of these minerals; that the railway company should in fact have land representing thousands of tons of coal, for which in fact they have paid only a few pounds. My contention is, as I have already stated to the House, that this position of the railway companies is not a proper one. If the railway companies had had the good sense to approach this question from the standpoint of common honour and justice, I should not be attacking them here to-night. It is the first time since I have been a Member of this House that I have ever attacked a railway company or any other person in the interests of employers of labour. But here is a case which will not only cause immense loss to the owners and lessees of property, but also will cause great dislocation in the working of the mines, thus displacing labour. That point cannot be contradicted, because I already know cases where it has been necessary to stop men working in certain districts.
§ Sir A. MARKHAM
The Noble Lord seems to overlook the fact of the prescribed distance in the Act. Some of 476 those concerned in this matter do not know what they are talking about. I do. I tell the House that the engineers of the railway company are asking that where the mine is 600 yards deep, 600 yards shall be left to support the line. That is what the engineers of these railway companies are asking from the owners of these properties. The Act of 1845 authorises 40 yards, and I suppose the same conditions will apply to the 150 yards. If the House of Lords' decision is to be taken, and if the railway company is entitled to the support suggested, they will be entitled equally to the larger as to the smaller number of the yards. One of the most eminent mining solicitors in the country told me that this protection, if put in for the owners of property in Clause 30, will be wholly fallacious, and in no way will help owners of property or their lessees to overcome the difficulties in which they have been placed by the action of the railway company.
I am going to make an appeal to the President of the Board of Trade. I do not want to divide the House. I have always believed that the right hon. Gentleman is a gentleman with very good common sense. I am perfectly prepared, having stated my case, to leave the matter in his hands and those of his advisers. I am perfectly prepared, if he will give me his assurance that he will give the matter his careful attention, having regard to the enormous importance of the interests involved—for I do not think the House has any idea of the immensity of the issues to the whole mining community—that I shall be satisfied to leave the matter for the moment. I know it will be said "You are a well-to-do coalowner, and you can very well take care of yourself." That is always the natural inclination of the House against any employer of labour who brings forwards matters of this sort in the House. But here you have a complicated technical matter, and I thought it my duty, having a knowledge of these facts, and being a mining engineer myself, to speak from my own knowledge of what the action of the railway companies has been. When the Bill gets into Committee I would like the President of the Board of Trade, if he will, to make a report to the Committee dealing with the points that I have raised, and if he thinks I have made out a good case which requires looking into, that the father of the Board of Trade should protect the industry from the attacks made by the railway companies, who in this case 477 have no regard whatsoever for the intentions of Parliament. If he does this I shall be satisfied. If, on the other hand, the railway companies are going to persist in the conduct which they have pursued during the last week and during the last month in Lancashire and in South Wales, though I do not wish to threaten anyone, they will find that in this House there is an overwhelming majority in favour of bringing the railway companies to their proper position, and seeing that they will pay some regard, at all events, to the expressed wish and intention of Parliament.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
That is a general question, and I would ask the hon. Baronet to abstain from pursuing it further.
§ Sir A. MARKHAM
I am sorry for having gone outside your ruling, and, in conclusion, I only say I earnestly trust that the President of the Board of Trade will not regard this matter lightly. It is a matter which to the mining industry is of immense importance, and I hope he will give careful consideration to the whole question. He will have an opportunity, I believe next week, of receiving a deputation from different parts of the country on the question, and I am sure he will study this matter, and that he will feel it his duty to send to the Committee a report upon this matter on the basis which Parliament originally decreed.
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. Burns)
The hon. Gentleman who has just addressed the House is a distinguished mining engineer, and has technical and commercial knowledge of the subject upon which he has addressed the House this evening. Beyond that he is seised of great local knowledge of the district through which this particular railway happens to run, and both from his own knowledge and his technical experience, he has used this particular opportunity, quite properly in my judgment, to point a moral and adorn a tale, which is that in his view Clauses 71 to 78 of the Act of 1845 are in the light of modern mining engineering somewhat archaic. Their application is in his judgment absurd, and as mining has changed to a considerable extent in the intervenng period from 1845 to the present day, he thinks this is the opportunity for the general law being revised and brought up to date in its application as to the number of yards within where a mining company shall, or shall 478 not, be allowed to work its mines, and that there should be reconsideration of the reasons in the Act of 1845 for a railway company either insisting on the original 40 yards, or justifying still further than they have done the increase in that yardage from 40 to 130 or 150 and in some cases to 200 yards. He is perfectly within his right. Although he has not presented a Petition against this Bill in this House, nor have the mining association on whose behalf he properly claims to speak, still, as a Member of Parliament, he is properly within his right in bringing this subject before the House of Commons. He referred to Clause 30 of this particular Bill, and he referred to certain property through which the railway company run. He forgot to mention—and I supply the deficiency—that the distance of 130 and 150 yards, respectively, in Clause 30, as against the old distance of 40 and 45 yards generally adopted seventy years ago, is an agreed Clause with the owners of the land through which this, railway runs. In so far as this particular Bill and Clause are concerned, his criticisms and objections do not have the same force, if he will allow me to say so, that his argument in favour of a general reconsideration applicable to all railways and mining properties ought to have for a common rule applicable to all railways and mines. But he knows the district. He has laid his case before the House, and he appeals to me to give this subject, as I have a right to, that serious consideration in its general aspects that so important a subject deserves. I can promise him that as he has asked my consideration it is my duty to respond and to say that this matter shall receive in its general aspect general consideration. May I say this to the hon. Member: I cannot conceive that railway companies would light-heartedly and capriciously do anything to damnify the mining interests within the curtilage of their railways, because the extent to which the railways capriciously or foolishly limit the mining property and prevent coal from being worked as near the railway as it can safely be worked, having regard to life and property to the extent to which they capriciously prevent mining from being carried on, is the measure of the damage they inflict upon themselves as carriers of coal. But there are times when vested interests and large companies and great individuals are so obsessed with 479 their own importance that they often do things that an enlightened self-interest would prevent them from doing. I have only this to say, that I do not think the railway companies are so foolishly regardless of their own interests as to capriciously prevent mining property being developed as close up to the railway as is consistent with life and property.
I may go further and say that if the hon. Member thinks he has a grievance against the general law, and I think he has some complaint, and if he uses this opportunity for giving a particular instance and illustration of the absurd character of the general law as applied by this Bill, may I point out that it is within the competence of the Committee before whom this Bill comes not to accept the prescribed distance of 130, 150, or 160 yards, even though they have been agreed to by the railway company and the owners of the land in which there is coal to be worked. The hon. Baronet, in my judgment, has been very reasonable. He has said, and I think he is right, that no one should use the House of Commons as a means of preventing railway companies in the exercise of public rights getting the full exercise of their franchise which they get through the agency of private Bills. He has said he has never opposed—and it is perfectly true—a railway company for any local, and certainly not for any personal consideration, and he only raises this point on broad, public, and general grounds in the interests of equity and just treatment of all concerned. He has asked me to give an undertaking. I readily reply to his request, and the undertaking I will give him is that I will transmit to the Chairman of the Committee, and through him to the Committee that deals with this particular Bill, the observations and representations he has made, and his representations shall be communicated to them as I now undertake to do. There is nothing which prevents the Committee from either accepting the distances or rejecting them entirely or varying the distances of the yardage in Clause 30 of this particular Bill. Beyond that I think that the hon. Baronet is perfectly within his right to direct my attention to the point as to whether the time has not arrived when the 1845 Act should be adapted to modern mining conditions, and made more in consonance with the practical considerations of modern mining than the old laws enabled that to be done. I may also point out 480 that not only mining conditions, but railway conditions have also enormously changed. The conditions that satisfied light locomotives of ten, fifteen, and twenty tons, with trucks which did not carry more than two or three tons seventy or eighty years ago, are not suitable now. The conditions have changed not only for mining, but also for railways with their tremendous locomotives, many of them 100 tons, with trucks carrying from ten to twenty tons, with greater vibration and solidity of work, requiring broader and deeper embankments, with bigger slopes, and with greater reasons for stability than the old circumstances. Whilst bearing in mind the changed conditions of mining, we ought also to bear in mind the changed condition of railway construction, working, and administration, and above all, we must also realise, and I am glad that public opinion is very properly insisting, that railway companies should make their railways wider, their foundations deeper, and their lines safer than previously they were constructed. If it be true that mining has changed, it is only fair to remember that railways have also changed. The hon. Member has asked me quite fairly to give an undertaking and an assurance, which I now do. I note the criticism which he has applied to this particular Bill, and I notice that he does not intend to oppose it. On the contrary, he thinks that the £600,000 worth of work, which this Railway Bill will enable the company to expend during the forthcoming year in the interests not only of the railway, but the public in general and the mining industry, ought not to be delayed. The hon. Baronet does not intend to put this criticism on the general subject of Clause 30 to a Division; he wants the Bill to pass, and with the assurance I have given him, I trust he will allow this Bill to go to its Second Reading.
The President of the Board of Trade seems inclined to give pledges to-night, and I should like from him a further pledge in connection with the North-Eastern Railway and the North-western Railway in regard to the connection between certain trains.
I said the North-Eastern and the North-Western and these two companies are supposed to make connections between their trains at certain stations. As a member of the business 481 public in Manchester and district, I have found very great inconvenience in this respect. In Whit week I missed a train at Leeds which is shown in both companies' time-tables as having a connection at that station. The North-Eastern train did not wait for the North-Western, with the result that I had to travel by another line, and I landed in Manchester three hours late. I hope the President of the Board of Trade will just communicate the fact that we do want trains to make connections if they are shown as making connections in the time tables. It is only a question of the North-Eastern Company approaching the Northwestern Company in a friendly spirit, and arranging for their trains to work in the interests of the travelling public. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to say that he will do something in this matter.
§ Mr. BURNS
May I say that it is not necessary to give that assurance. The agents of the companies are under the Gallery, and no doubt they have noted the point, for I notice that they smiled at it. Whether the complaint is serious or not I do not know, but I am sure they will give the matter their consideration.