§ The Order of the Day was read on the notice given by the Marquess of Lansdowne, "To move an Address to his Majesty to appoint proper persons to inquire and report upon the most advantageous lines of railways in Ireland." The noble Marquess then said, he was about to propose to their Lordships a brief statement upon which he founded his motion, which was, that competent persons 687 should be appointed to report generally what were the principal lines with respect to the carrying on of railroads in Ireland, as to the greatest facility of execution. This was the first object of the motion; and the second was, that after such report had been made by the competent parties so appointed to investigate, that his Majesty should be authorised to direct the Board of Works in that country to make a general survey of those railways, so that this would give an additional security as to the facility of execution. It would have been very desirable if such a step had been taken with respect to England; inasmuch as it would have spared much expense to parties and much time to both branches of the Legislature, as well as much imperfect legislation. It was, perhaps, too late to apply any such investigation as regarded England. Having said this, he would add he was ready to admit that the utility of such an inquiry was much less, as far as England was concerned, than it would be in Ireland. In England railroads were chiefly taken up in their original form in commercial towns, among great manufacturing interests, and where there were large masses of population. Those lines were carried from one large town to another, and other lines branched from them to neighbouring towns of less importance, through the districts in which the longer or continuous lines ran. These partial or local communications had also their great advantages. But in Ireland matters were quite different; for such interests did not exist to the same extent, and the virgin soil was still untouched by any great line of railroad. He was, therefore, clearly of opinion that such a motion as that which he had the honour of submitting was desirable. But although this aid was afforded, he must protest against its being considered as pledging the Government to any thing further, or inducing persons to engage in any speculations; for although, as he had stated, it would be very useful to have persons well qualified to execute the task of investigating into the best lines of railroads, still individuals themselves living upon the spot, in the exercise of prudence, must have the best means of knowing whether the supply and demand, would render it probable that such undertakings were likely to prove beneficial or otherwise. Before parties took shares in such projects it behoved them to exercise a deliberate judgment. He was anxious to guard himself against being 688 understood as throwing out any expectation whatever of aid on the part of Government, the more especially as in that part of the kingdom, any recommendation having the sanction of the Government, was too often interpreted in a different sense than the one intended, and he begged to be understood as stating, that beyond this, the Government would not go, and the railroad undertakings must depend upon the public assistance. The assistance given by the Government would stop there. All that was proposed was, to give the public the benefit of the investigation of the Commissioners, and Government and Parliament were to remain unpledged. He believed, that the inquiry would be attended with this beneficial effect—it would be the means of preventing the conflicting lines and opposition to others adopted, which had taken place to so large an extent in this country. In that point of view, therefore, a great object would be accomplished. It was unnecessary for him to detain their Lordships any longer on the present occasion, as he apprehended no opposition whatever would be made to the motion. The noble Marquess then concluded with moving, that "A humble Address be presented to his Majesty, praying that his Majesty will be graciously pleased to appoint competent persons to inquire and report upon the practicability of communications in Ireland with reference to the commercial advantages as to the connection of railroads; and, with a view to ascertain the best lines, that his Majesty be graciously pleased to direct the Board of Works to render such assistance as may be necessary, in the survey of such lines."
The Duke of Leinster
expressed his sincere thanks for the motion of his noble Friend; and he trusted that their Lordships would at once accede to the motion.
§ Lord Fitzgerald
believed, that the proposition would be received in Ireland with great satisfaction, and it was to be regretted that a similar investigation had not been adopted in England.
§ Motion agreed to.