§ (The Lord Redesdale.)
§ (NO. 180.) SECOND READING.
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ LORD REDESDALE,
in moving that the Bill be now read the second time, said, that under the present law it was not impossible that the traffic on the most important lines might be brought to a standstill in consequence of the engines and carriages or other plant being seized in execution. As it was most desirable that the railway communication of the country should be kept open the present Bill had been introduced. The Bill provided that no person should seize any engines or other property upon which railway traffic depended. Their Lordships would bear in mind that the effect of a seizure of the engines was to destroy the income of the line, and for one individual who recovered his money every other creditor, whether a debenture holder or otherwise interested, would be obliged to go without. The owners of rentcharges for the possession of land taken by railway companies were also very injuriously affected. The principle which he wished to lay down was, that the passenger and goods traffic of a railway should not be liable to stoppage upon the demands of creditors. The Bill did not, however, propose to interfere with the rights of existing creditors. He hoped their Lordships would sanction the principle of the measure by reading it a second time, leaving the details for future consideration.
§ Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a." —(The Lord Redesdale.)
§ LORD CRANWORTH
objected to taking away the only security which creditors possessed without providing a substitute.
§ LORD REDESDALE
said, he did not necessarily insist upon enforcing the principle he sought to lay down in the manner proposed by this Bill. Some other security against the interruption of the 772 traffic might be devised. It should be remembered that the persons most likely to take the extreme step of seizing the plant of a railway, and so stopping the traffic, were those who had lent money to the railway recklessly, knowing that that would be a very effectual way of forcing the company to settle their claims. If this mode of enforcing their claims were taken away, such persons would be more careful in their inquiries as to the solvency of the company. Great inconvenience would be caused to the public by the stoppage of traffic, and the question was, whether the public or the creditors ought to have the greatest consideration. He thought the public should have the preference in the sight of the Legislature.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
said, he desired to know what view the Government took of the Bill. It seemed to him a very strong step to deprive creditors of their only security, and one which induced a company to make every exertion to meet its obligations. He was willing to agree to the second reading on the understanding that the details would be carefully considered hereafter.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
said, the Bill was not a Government measure, but, for his own part, he thought there was fair ground for the adoption of the principle that the public should not be deprived of the only means of traffic which in many cases they possessed. The consequences of a seizure by a creditor of the plant of a company would not fall so heavily upon the company as upon the public generally. He thought sufficient had been shown for the adoption of the principle of the measure, and probably modifications might be introduced into the Bill in Committee to meet the objections of noble Lords opposite.
§ Motion agreed to.