HC Deb 11 April 1935 vol 300 cc1448-50

(1) The Governor-General acting in his discretion shall make rules requiring the Authority and any Federated State to give notice in such oases as the rules may prescribe of any proposal for constructing a railway or for altering the alignment or gauge of a railway, and to deposit plans.

(2) The rules so made shall contain pro- visions enabling objections to be lodged by the Authority or by a Federated State on the ground that the carrying out of the proposal will result in unfair or uneconomic competition with a federal railway or a State railway, as the case may be, and, if an objection so lodged is not withdrawn within the prescribed time, the Governor-General shall refer to the Railway Tribunal the question whether the proposal ought to be carried into effect, either without modification or with such as the Tribunal may approve, and the proposal shall not be proceeded with save in accordance with the decision of the Tribunal.

(3) This section shall not apply in any case where the Governor-General in his discretion certifies that for reasons connected with defence effect should or should not be given to a proposal, and the decision so certified of the Governor-General shall be binding upon the Authority and any Federated State.—[The Solicitor-General.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be read a Second time."—[The Solicitor-General.]

9.22 p.m.


In this new Clause it appears that there are one or two new rules required from the rulers of states. I do not know whether the Solicitor-General can tell me whether this Clause has given satisfaction to the Princes or their representatives, because I think I am right in saying that there is a power of interference here which was very rarely suggested under the present regime. Under this new Clause rules will require the authority and any Federated State to give notice in such cases as the rules may prescribe of any proposal for constructing a railway or for altering the alignment or gauge of a railway"; and so on. This is a very big power. It would almost satisfy my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Macmillan) who, with his modern Socialistic vision, desires very largely to control the industries of the country, and it is a very big undertaking that we are now considering. I should like to ask the Solicitor-General whether he has any indication that this very wide power is acceptable to the Princes, because that seems to me to be very important. If it is it will be a great encouragement to the Committee to know that we shall not have to recommit the Bill.

9.24 p.m.


I can reassure my hon. and gallant Friend. The reason for putting in these special Clauses is that the States which own railways necessarily feel that, on the one hand, they have their comparatively small systems, and, on the other hand, there is the great railway system of British India, with all its resources and facilities, and there is the Railway Authority with its great power. I do not want to impute motives to the Railway Authority, but it would be much more likely that the large British India system might, by building a line round the borders of a State or extending its facilities by new construction, compete with a State system and divert traffic at present going through that State system than the converse. Therefore although I quite agree that this Clause does impose certain obligations to give notice in respect of certain matters I assure my hon. and gallant Friend that a Clause of this kind is regarded as a safeguard by the States interested in a railway system. Although it is quite true that if they want to build a new line they have to give notice, yet if the British India system wants to build a line the State is given a locus standi in putting their point of view, before the Railway Tribunal, if they think that there would be unfair competition.

9.26 p.m.


The first Sub-section of this Clause seems to envisage very large work, such perhaps as the tearing up of a permanent way or altering the gauge of a railway. Is that a new power or does that exist in British India at the present time so far as the States are concerned. Does that mean that this authority will have power to tear up a permanent way or lay down a new gauge? I am not suggesting that it would not be perhaps to the advantage of the whole railway system, but this does sug gest interference with the territories of the Princes.


No. All it comes to is this. Suppose that a, railway system in a State is proposing to build or alter the alignment or gauge of a railway, then they have to give notice to the other side. In nine cases out of 10 the other system will not be in the least interested, but you have to have general rules covering all the cases where some alteration which might be material is concerned. For instance, one railway system might have a narrow gauge line such as did not compete in any sense with the other system. If it was converted into a broad guage it might make all the difference. This Clause merely means that where new construction or reconstruction on either side is proposed, notice must be given of any such intention.

Duchess of ATHOLL

Railway policy as I understand it is put under the Minister and not under the railway authority. Is not the matter of construction a matter of railway policy rather than of the actual administration of the railway?


Obviously, if there is a proposal to construct a new railway the railway authority will know all about it. All that this Clause says is that the railway authority have got to give notice of any alteration proposed on a railway system in a Federated State, and they can both go to the Tribunal if either thinks that they have got a complaint. The question as to who is responsible for policy does not arise.

Clause added to the Bill.