wished to explain, in reference to a statement he had made some nights ago, that he now understood the directors of the Oxford and Birmingham Railway had not parted with their shares, and afterwards voted as the owners of these shares. Having this on an authority on which he could rely, he now withdrew the observations which only referred to a state of things, such as he then described.
The EARL of DEVON moved—
That the Petition of the Chairman of the Birmingham and Oxford Junction, and the Birmingham and Wolverhampton and Dudley Railway Companies (presented to this House on the 17th instant), be referred to the Select Committee on Standing Orders, with Instructions to the said Committee to report their Opinion whether, in the Case of the Birmingham and Oxford, and Birmingham, Wolverhampton, and Dudley Railways Amalgamation Bills, it might not be expedient, under the peculiar Circumstances of the Case, to dispense with the Proof of the Standing Order, No. 220, sect. 6, which requires that the said Bill shall be submitted to a special meeting of the Proprietors of the Birmingham and Oxford Junction Railway; and that the said Committee do proceed, at their Meeting on Tuesday next, to ascertain whether the other Standing Orders, applicable to the said Bill, have
been complied with, and to report their Decision thereon forthwith to the House.
§ LORD REDESDALE
hoped the House would resist the Motion of his noble Friend, and that the House would support their Lordships' Standing Orders, which had been framed for the special purpose of protecting proprietors against any improper proceedings of their directors. Every noble Lord who respected the purity of the proceedings of the House, would discountenance the Motion, inasmuch as no case whatever had been made out for a relaxation of the Standing Orders.
§ LORD ASHBURTON
had never been interested in any railroad whatever in a pecuniary way; but he took a deep interest in the case which was under their Lordships' notice, upon public grounds. So far as he understood the matter, the proceedings of some parties appeared to be the greatest juggle to defeat the intentions of the Legislature, which had ever come under his cognizance. The Parliament clearly and bonâ fide intended to give the great manufacturing districts in Staffordshire the benefit of rival lines of railway; and how had that object been defeated? Why, after the line had been notoriously sold to the Great Western Company, according to the intentions of Parliament, the other body went into the market and purchased 35,000 shares, for, he express and avowed purpose of repudiating that agreement. It was all very well to say that it was not the act of the North Western Company. If Mr. Glynn, the chairman of that company, would state before a Committee, on his honour as a gentleman, that those shares had not been bought by certain parties for the express purpose of upsetting that agreement, he would at once believe him; but he could not do so. He thought the reference to the Committee ought to be made, in order to see whether a great public object had not been defeated by a juggle.
§ LORD WHARNCLIFFE
Had the question before the House been one involving only the interests of the two great companies, he would not have troubled their Lordships with one word upon the subject; but he thought a great public question was involved in the question before the House. He did not think that it would be of much use to refer the matter to the Standing Orders' Committee again; he thought the Committee which had been lately appointed upon the subject ought to be revived.
§ LORD PORTMAN
again denied that 907 the North Western Company had anything to do with the transaction. It was true that certain parties connected with the company had managed the transaction; but the company had nothing to do with it.
The EARL of SHAFTESBURY
could assure their Lordships that the case had been most maturely considered before the Committee came to a determination upon it.
§ House divided:—Contents 37: Not-contents 45; Majority 8.
§ LORD REDESDALE
then moved—That the Railway Commissioners be directed to inquire into the Accommodation afforded by the several Lines of Railway now open, or in course of Construction, or projected, between London and Birmingham; and to report to this House, early in the ensuing Session of Parliament, in what Manner they are of Opinion that the Interests of the Public may be most effectually secured in regard to such Lines, and whether it is expedient that the Broad Gauge should be extended to Birmingham; and if so, in what Manner such an Arrangement can be carried into effect with the least interference with existing Interests, and with the System of Railway Communication as settled by the Act for regulating the Gauge of Railways, and what Conditions it would be desirable to annex to any Permission granted to the Great Western, or other Railway Companies to lay down a Broad Gauge contrary to the Provisions of the said Act.The noble Lord said, that such an inquiry was absolutely necessary, because at present it appeared as if there were no means of bringing the broad gauge to Birmingham; and he thought that any inquiry on the subject ought to be entrusted to the Railway Commissioners, as more confidence would be placed in their report than in the report of any body appointed specially for the purpose.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ House adjourned.