HL Deb 19 February 1850 vol 108 cc1024-5

moved the, Second Reading of the Railways Abandonment Bill. The Bill was nearly similar to the measure that had been introduced last Session. The object of it was to give the Railway Commissioners power to authorise the abandonment of the whole or part of the works of any railway company on the application of at least three-fifths of the shareholders, and thus to save the companies the expense of applying for separate Acts of Parliament in each case.


said, there could be no difference of opinion as to the importance of facilitating the abandonment of the whole works of particular companies; but from cases that had come before him in his judicial capacity, he could not but feel that acts of injustice might be: done if railway companies were allowed to shrink from performing their original under takings. Many persons might subscribe to the original undertaking with a view of bringing a railway to a particular town, and these persons ought, he thought, to hare their money returned should they require it before allowing the original contract to be departed from.


said that there were hundreds of cases similarly circumstanced with those to which the noble and learned Lord had alluded, where companies, in their eagerness to keep other parties out of the field, promised everything that was asked of them without being able or willing to carry out their engagements afterwards.


recommended that the Bill should be referred to a Select Committee, and that the Law Lords should be requested to turn their attention to its provisions. He would trust the Railway Commissioners if they had to act upon some definite plan, or if the principle upon which they were to act were laid down by law; but to entrust to a body which was not judicial, functions of the nicest judicial character, without giving that body chart or compass to guide them, was not a course their Lordships would act wisely in adopting.


said, if it was the pleasure of the House that the Bill should be referred to a Select Committee, he should not offer any opposition to it. He would consider the suggestions of the noble Lord.

Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the whole House.

House adjourned to Thursday next.

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