§ Bill read 3a (according to order) with the Amendments.
§ LORD LYNDHURST
said, he had suggested the introduction of a clause into this Bill, the object of which was to limit the liabilities of railway companies, so that they should not be dealt with precisely as common carriers, but he saw no chance of enforcing his views in this respect against the large majority hostile to railway companies in that House. He had, however, ventured to suggest an amendment of the second clause to the noble Lord, who had charge of the Bill. This clause prohibited railway companies from limiting their liability as carriers by any forms or conditions which they might set forth upon tickets issued by them. It occurred to him that great inconvenience and injustice would arise from making this invariable rule applicable to all circumstances, and he had suggested that the Board of Trade should have power to allow a railway company to introduce such conditions as the Board might think proper under the circumstances. The noble Lord who had charge of the Bill had prepared a proviso to the clause, which imposed upon railway companies in the first instance the burden of declaring the conditions, and then required the Court of Common Pleas to pronounce an opinion as to whether those conditions were reasonable. This arrangement was objectionable, because it rendered litigation and expense inevitable, and also because there might not be an uniformity of decision between the Courts of Dublin, Edinburgh, and London.
§ Amendment moved.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
complained of a proviso being introduced into a clause by private arrangement; the House knew nothing about it.
§ LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY
said, that in his opinion the Court of Common Pleas was the best tribunal to decide upon the point raised by the noble and learned Lord.
§ The EARL OF HARROWBY
wished the clause to be postponed in order that it might be considered by their Lordships.
§ LORD REDESDALE
said, the object of the railway companies was to introduce matter into the Bill which should limit their liabilities. Now he (Lord Redesdale) would allow railway companies no power to impose conditions upon travellers. The clause would be of no avail if the proviso should be added to it, for it would only afford a loophole to the companies to escape from their liabilities.
§ LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY
said, that this was not his clause. He believed it was proposed by the noble and learned Lord opposite, and if he wished to amend his own clause there could be no objection. Indeed, he should prefer the omission of the clause altogether, for he considered the Bill to be much better in its original shape. If, however, the noble Lord (the Earl of Derby) felt himself taken by surprise at the introduction of the proviso which had been inserted in it, he (Lord Stanley) had no objection to postpone the passing of the Bill till to-morrow, and in the meantime have the proviso printed for further consideration.
§ The EARL OF DERBY
thought the proviso should not appear in the second clause, but should be introduced in another part of the Bill.
§ Further debate adjourned till To-morrow.
§ House adjourned till To-morrow.