HL Deb 15 June 1848 vol 99 cc673-5

said, there were two or three Railway Bills before their Lordships, in which there were clauses empowering railway companies to become steamboat proprietors. Now, he thought that if such powers were granted to railway companies, the principle of competi- tion would be destroyed. In these cases where such powers were sought, it was represented that certain accommodation and advantages would be given to the public, which they did not at present possess; but their Lordships must recollect that that accommodation would not be derived from the profits of the steamships proposed to be employed, but from the profits obtained upon the railway. Competition, therefore, under such circumstances, would be impossible; and their Lordships had wisely established a Standing Order that no railway company should be empowered to become steamboat proprietors unless a special case were made out. The case to which he now more particularly alluded, was that of the Chester and Holyhead Railway Company. That company had a Bill before Parliament for the purpose of establishing steamboats between Holyhead and Dublin; and he begged to ask the noble Earl the First Lord of the Admiralty, whether Her Majesty's Government were not already fully prepared with steamers of the best quality to carry the mails between Dublin and this country?


said, that, in reply to the question of the noble Lord, he had to state that the Admiralty certainly had provided steam-packets to ply between Holy head and Dublin for the purpose of carrying the mails; and that unless some arrangements could be made by which that service could be performed as quickly and as surely, he saw very great inconvenience in transferring it to any company. At the same time, he thought that the Board of Admiralty could be relieved from the duty of carrying the Post Office mails; and if they could ensure that the service would be performed as well and as cheaply by contract, the better it would be for the naval service, already hindered by many duties, and the better it would be for the finances of the country, and for the Post Office itself. He thought the question should be approached with very great care and caution, and he would refer his noble Friend to certain papers which would be laid on the table of the House, when he might be enabled to form some opinion on the subject.


observed, that the Railway Commission had made a report to the House of Commons, in which they called attention to the necessity of having clauses inserted in certain Bills, giving the companies power of investing a definite amount of their capital in steam vessels in connexion with, their lines. The report was referred to the Railway Board, and the result was, that a joint report was presented to the House, stating the reasons for and against the project, and recommending that the clauses should he allowed and inserted with certain limitations; and this report it was intended to act upon.


said, he agreed with the noble Earl that great caution should be exercised before the Legislature came to any decision on the subject of Post-office communication. He could bear full testimony to the exertions of the Admiralty to do the best that could be done for this service. It was a matter of the greatest importance that the two capitals should be brought as near to each other as it was possible to do. At present, a great step had been made to accomplish that object; and in proof of it, he could state that he left Dublin the other morning at half-past seven o'clock, and was in London at half-past ten o'clock that night.

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