HL Deb 02 May 1865 vol 178 cc1305-8

Commons' Reasons for disagreeing to a certain Amendment made by this House considered (according to Order).

THE EARL OF ST. GERMANS moved that their Lordships should re-consider their determination with regard to their Amendment in the second clause. This Bill had passed the House of Commons without a dissentient voice. Here it had been referred to a Select Committee, on whose recommendation a most important part of the second clause was struck out by a small majority. He hoped their Lordships would now allow the Bill to pass in the shape in which it came up to this House, and he would therefore move that they should not insist on their Amendment.

Moved, not to insist on the Amendment to which the Commons disagree.—(The Lord Steward.)


said, he wished I to enter his protest against the course proposed by his noble Friend. The facts of the case were these—It appeared that in Ireland railway companies could be made bankrupts, whereas in England the law was otherwise. Upon the faith of the law being as he had stated, a certain party entered into a contract with a railway company, under the impression that if the company failed to pay him he could make it bankrupt. Now, the Bill had been introduced to assimilate the law of Ireland, so far as railway companies were concerned, to England. That he (Lord Cranworth) did not object to. The measure, when it left that House, proposed to alter the law as regarded prospective contracts only. The other House had, however, so amended their Lordships' Amendments as to make it have a retrospective action. Now it might be quite right to enact prospectively that railway shareholders should never be liable in this way; but by the recital of the Bill it was stated, and the Bill enacted, that they never had been liable. If their Lordships assented to the Bill as it now stood, he thought they would be acting discreditably as a House of Legislature. They would, in fact, be declaring that though they knew what the law actually was, it should be held to be quite the reverse. He thought that their Lordships would lower themselves in the estimation of the country if they assented to any such proposition. He would therefore move that their Lordships insist on their Amendment.


entirely agreed that it would be contrary to all principle that a retrospective Act should take away the rights of an individual to a certain remedy, and he should support the Motion of his noble and learned Friend.


said, that the existing law left the whole of the railway companies of Ireland completely at the mercy of any of their creditors. That was a monstrous injustice as far as the sister country was concerned The fact was that the Legislature, he believed, never intended to give any such power to creditors over railway companies, and that it was a mere oversight in drawing the Act. He believed that the party to whom his noble and learned Friend had referred had not been deceived. He believed that he had entered into the contract not knowing that he had the power of making the company bankrupt; but afterwards found his mistake and discovered that he could proceed against the company in bankruptcy. He did not admit that there was any mis-statement in the recital. He hoped their Lordships would accept the Bill as it had been returned to them by the Commons.


said, that he had heard no satisfactory answer given to the Reasons assigned by the Commons for ob- jecting to this Amendment. Some hardship was probably to be apprehended on both sides; but it never could have been the intention of the Legislature in 1857 to do that which now seemed to be contemplated by the words of the Act.


said, that the contractor in question alleged that he had obtained various opinions, and thus became aware of the liability of railway companies in Ireland to bankruptcy. That being so, it would not be right to take away from this man the remedy which the law gave him and on the faith of which he had acted.

On Question, Whether to insist? Their Lordships divided;—Contents 33; Not-Contents 43: Majority 10:—Resolved in the Negative.

The rest of the Commons Amendments agreed to.

Westbury, L. (L. Chancellor.) Aveland, L.
Belper, L.
Berners, L.
Exeter, M. Chelmsford, L.
Salisbury, M. Clements, L. (E. Leitrim,)
Airlie, E.
Albemarle, E. Cranworth, L. [Teller.]
Belmore, E. [Teller.] Denman, L.
Brooke and Warwick, E. Egerton, L.
Cadogan, E. Heytesbury, L.
Carnarvon, E. Kingsdown, L.
Derby, E. Northwick, L.
Lonsdale, E. Panmure, L. (E. Dalhousie.)
Malmesbury, E.
Romney, E. Raglan, L.
Redesdale, L.
Hawarden, V. Saint Leonards, L.
Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore.) Walsingham, L.
Wynford, L.
Sidmouth, V.
York, Archp. Sydney, V.
Dublin, Archp. Torrington, V.
Devonshire, D. Abercromby, L.
Camoys, L.
Westmeath, M. Carew, L.
Colville of Culross, L.
Clarendon, E. Dacre, L.
De Grey, E. Dartrey, L. (L. Cremorne.)
Devon, E.
Graham, E. (D. Montrose.) De Tabley, L.
Foley, L. [Teller.]
Granville, E. Harris, L.
Harrowby, E. Houghton, L.
Saint Germans, E. [Teller.] Hunsdon, L. (V. Falkland.)
Shaftesbury, E. Inchiquin, L.
Spencer, E. Llanover, L.
Vane, E. Lyveden, L.
Monson, L.
Eversley, V. Monteagle of Brandon, L.
Stratford de Redcliffe, V.
Mostyn, L. Somerhill, L. (M. Clanricarde.)
Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessborough.)
Stanley of Alderley, L.
Seaton, L. Sundridge, L. (D. Argyll.)
Seymour, L, (E. St. Maur.)
Taunton, L.
Wrottesley, L.
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