HL Deb 03 June 1836 vol 34 cc1-4
The Marquess of Clanricarde

wished to move the third reading of the Birmingham, Bristol, and Thames Junction Railway Bills, if the proposition were not to be opposed by the noble Duke opposite, who, he understood, was anxious to move a resolution on the subject of Railway Bills generally. He did not believe that the noble Duke would object to the third reading of the Bill.

The Duke of Wellington

sincerely wished that all these railway projects might prove successful, but in proportion as they were successful, in the same proportion was it desirable that there should not be a perpetual monopoly established in the country. Under these circumstances, he had a strong feeling that it was desirable to insert in all these Bills some clause to enable the Government or the Parliament to revise the enactments contained in them, at some future period. He conceived that, by carrying these measures into execution, a very great injustice was often done to many proprietors in the country, and they were forced to submit to great inconvenience, or to contend against that inconvenience, by means of incurring a very large expense, both in that and in the other House of Parliament. If some measure of the description to which he alluded were not adopted, and if these railroads were to become monopolies in the hands of the present or of future proprietors, they would hereafter be only enabled to get the better of such monopolies by forming fresh lines of road, to the detriment of the interests of the landed proprietors, and to the great increase of expense and inconvenience. These circumstances had most forcibly struck his mind. He had had the subject under consideration for some days; he had conversed with others respecting it, and it appeared to him, that some plan ought to be devised, in order to bring these railroads under the supervision of Parliament at some future period. He, therefore, was anxious that the further proceedings in all these Bills should be suspended for a short time, that he might propose some clause, or introduce some measure, to meet the object to which he had referred. He thought it was a subject, the consideration of which ought not to fall on any individual, but which the Government ought to take in hand. He was, however, perfectly ready to take the responsibility with the Government in proposing such a measure for the consideration of their Lord-ships; but he did think that some thing ought to be done, in order that the Legislature might be invested with the power of revising these enactments after a certain time.

Lord Wharncliffe

approved of the suggestion which had been thrown out by the noble Duke. He conceived that the adoption of some measure of the kind would be nothing more than an act of justice to the landed proprietors.

The Marquess of Clanricarde

did not mean to discuss the point adverted to by the noble Duke; but he felt it necessary to point out the state of the Bill, which he wished to have read a third time. That Bill had passed unopposed through both Houses of Parliament (but with amendments in their Lordships' House), and it was desirable that it should be read a third time as soon as possible. If it were passed to-night, it would probably be the law of the land on Monday next; but if it were not passed now, it would most likely be a very long time before it became law. He understood that the measure contemplated by the noble Duke would have reference to those Bills which had passed, as well as to those which were to be considered in future. If that were so, the object of the noble Duke would not be affected by allowing the Bill to be now read a third time.

The Duke of Wellington

denied that the measure which he contemplated was intended to have a retrospective effect. He wished a clause of the nature to which he had alluded to be inserted in these Bills before they became the law of the land. He conceived that this ought to be done on the first opportunity that offered, and he believed that the present was that first opportunity. He was anxious that such a provision as he had described should be inserted as a clause in the Bill; at the same time, he should be very sorry to interfere with the private interests of individuals by any unnecessary delay.

The Marquess of Clanricarde

found that he had misunderstood the noble Duke, and he would not press the third reading then. When the noble Duke spoke of seizing the first opportunity for the introduction of such a clause, he was in error if he supposed that the present was the first Railway Bill that had arrived at such an advanced stage. He believed, on the contrary, that several Railway Bills had already received the royal assent.

Viscount Melbourne

said, this was a subject well worthy the consideration of the House. He agreed in the general principle laid down by the noble Duke. Something ought to be clone to accomplish the object to which the noble Duke had directed their attention; and he should be happy to co-operate with the noble Duke in the formation of such a measure.

The Marquess of Lansdowne

wished to know what course the noble Duke meant to pursue?

The Duke of Wellington

said, that in the course of a few days he should be able to bring forward this subject; and in the mean time it would be necessary to stop the further progress of the Bills now before the House.

The conversation terminated.

Back to