HL Deb 14 July 1842 vol 65 cc99-100

House in committee on the Railways Bill.

Lord Campbell

brought up a clause to the effect that no railway carriages should be locked up without the consent of the passengers.

On the motion that it be read a second time,

The Earl of Ripon

opposed the clause. No person could be more convinced than he was of the futility of the reasons assigned in favour of the practice. At the same time, he did not think it desirable that any department of the Executive Government should assume more control over the railways than was absolutely necessary, the effect of which would be to diminish the responsibility of the directors. He felt bound to say, in justice to the railway companies, that in every instance in which the Board of Trade had felt it necessary to point out anything for the convenience or safety of the public they had shown themselves most ready to adopt it, whatever might be the opinion of the directors as to its propriety.

The Marquess of Clanricarde

would support the clause. If the railway directors did not lock the carriages the clause would remain a dead letter, and could not be vexatious to them; whereas, if they did lock the carriages, the clause would then be a protection to the public.

The Earl of Wicklow

said, that the railway companies knew their own interests as well as any other body of men, and if they found that the public disapproved of locking the carriages, they would abandon the practice.

Lord Cottenham

supported the clause. The argument made use of against it would go the length of showing that the railway directors ought not to be interfered with at all—that they ought to be left to themselves, and to do as they liked. But the object of the bill was to regulate their practices, and he thought it was absurd to leave it to the discretion of the directors whether or not they should return to so dangerous and unnecessary a practice.

The Earl of Mount Cashel

supported the clause, which he thought calculated to ensure the public safety.

The Earl of Radnor

would oppose the clause, because he thought the locking of the carriages was not dangerous, and he did not know but it might under some circumstances be necessary. He was rather in favour of the practice than otherwise.

The Earl of Ripon

ridiculed the clause on account of the provision which it contained, that all the persons inside a carriage should be asked whether they would be locked in or not, so that if the majority thought that precaution necessary to their safety, one passenger, like the one juror, might overrule the judgment of all the rest.

Bill passed through committee. To be reported.

Their Lordships divided on the question, that the clause be read a second time: Not-content 35; Content 31: Majority 4.

Bill passed through committee. To be reported.

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