HL Deb 09 July 1867 vol 188 cc1257-61

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


, on moving that the Bill be now read the second time, said, it was beyond question that if the railway companies would provide means of communication between passengers and the guards of trains many disastrous accidents would be prevented. The want of such communication had been universally recognized as an evil; but, whenever it had been proposed that the railways should be required to provide the proper means of communication, the objection invariably raised was that the various companies would not agree to adopt a uniform system. Now, it certainly was extremely difficult to prescribe any particular mode of communication which would be considered efficient by all the railway companies, and, therefore, the present Bill provided that every railway company should adopt such mode of communication as was in their opinion the best. In every case where no machinery of communication had been provided a fine of £5 could be inflicted. Two of our great railway companies—the South Western and the South Eastern — had adopted a means of communication which had proved efficacious; and abroad, all over the Continent, the railways had means of communication between the passengers and guards, which worked very successfully. The only objection to the measure was, that it was unfair to call upon the companies to adopt certain means without specifying the precise means which were to be adopted. He thought, however, that, in regard to this matter, the onus lay upon the railway companies, who ought to be compelled to take some steps, in order to prevent the recurrence of accidents.

Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a."—(The Lord Stanley of Alderley.)


entirely agreed with all that the noble Lord had said, and agreed with him that the measure was a very useful and satisfactory one. As the noble Lord had remarked, means of communication between passengers and guards had been provided by two railroads in this country, and by a great many on the Continent. There was, however, a proviso in the Bill that it should not take effect wherever the distance to be traversed by each train without stopping did not exceed fifteen miles. He presumed the meaning of that was, that where the stations were less than fifteen miles apart from one another, there would be no necessity to provide for communication between the passengers and the guards. If that were so, the North London Railroad would not come under the operation of the Bill, although, if he were not mistaken, public opinion had been first directed to this subject by a horrible murder committed on that very line. It seemed to him that the necessity for having a mode of communication was quite as great when the stations were within a mile or half a mile of one another as it was who they were upwards of fifteen miles apart. Unless a satisfactory reason was given for the introduction of this provision, he should move, when they went into Committee that it be expunged.


, while agreeing with most of the remarks of the noble Lord who had moved the second reading, suggested that the Bill should be referred to a Select Committee, in order that the parties interested might have an opportunity of showing what difficulties would arise if the Bill were curried in its present state. He had been informed that the means of communication at present in use were not satisfactory. That on the South Western had been tried on the short journeys of the local traffic only, and should not be taken as a guide for the effectiveness of the same communication on long journeys. The 3rd clause required that some communication should be made between each carriage, horse-box, and truck, and the guard and engine-driver, and failing this the proprietors of the railway would be subjected to the severe penalties set forth in the 4th clause. In a journey from Euston Square to Inverness, no less than ten different systems of railway would be passed over, and possibly ten different systems of communication would have to be provided for by that train. To carry out the 3rd clause would be practically impossible, and, therefore, it would be most improper to pass the 4th imposing penalties. He accordingly repeated his recommendation to refer the Bill to a Select Committee in the hope of securing an altogether unobjectionable Act to secure the object so much desired by all.


feared that if the Bill were referred to a Select Committee at that period of the Session, and if that Committee were to take evidence, that legislation on the subject this Session would be impossible. A measure of the kind proposed had been long required; and it would be a subject for regret if it were postponed after having passed the Commons, where it had been subjected to the scrutiny of many interested in studying the interests of railway companies. It was certain that nothing had contributed more to railway accidents than the absence of communication required by the Bill. The fact that the measure insisted on no particular means of communication, but left it to the railway companies to choose the best suited for the purpose, was, in his opinion, a merit. The Bill simply laid down the principle, and imposed penalties for non-observance; that was the fullest extent to which legislation should go. Railway companies were well represented in the other House, and that House having passed the Bill, he hoped their Lordships would also agree to it.


thought the Bill would prove very useful, and hoped it would pass.


said, that the third reading of the Bill in the House of Commons was carried by 43 against 5. He objected to sending it to a Select Committee, as it was not a question of detail, but of principle; and if sent before a Committee, all the railway officials in the kingdom would be prepared to give evidence against it and obstruct its passage. To refer the Bill to a Select Committee would he simply incurring expense and trouble for no good purpose.


believed the principle of the Bill was a right one, but contended that it contained matters of detail which could be better settled by a Committee than in the House. The expenditure of two or three days in Committee might produce a satisfactory measure, and he was sure that result would be better than the hasty enactment of an imperfect one. No railway company, he was sure, would feel it to be its interest to oppose the principle of the Bill; but information could be given by railway officials touching the existence of stock not owned by companies, but rented by them, and which under the Bill would have to be filled up by the companies at their cost, with the means of communication. The principle of the Bill was to throw on railway companies the duty and the expense of providing sufficient means of communication between passengers and guards and guards and drivers and he could not believe that companies would oppose such a Bill provided that it contained provisions which would enable them to carry it out. The company which had to work the train would be compelled by the Bill to provide means of communication; but there was no provision to compel private owners of rolling stock to adapt their carriages to the improvements which the company might find it necessary to make.


was willing to refer the Bill to a Select Committee on the condition that no evidence would be called. He could understand that Amendments might be better arranged in Committee.


said, he did not mean that no evidence whatever should be called; he admitted that if all who asked were examined the Committee might sit for the next seven years; but he wished that the Committee should sit and take only such evidence as its Members thought necessary to elucidate the points he and the noble Duke beside him had mentioned.


thought it desirable that the Bill should be referred to ft Select Committee, in order that it might be made as useful a measure as their Lordships desired it to be—a result which could only be attained by hearing evidence as to the success of the experiments to which the noble Lord had alluded, and as to the possibility of carrying out the system in every case.


said, he had no objection to the Bill being referred to a Select Committee upon the understanding that such a course, was only to be adopted for the purpose of putting the Bill into a better shape, and that the different plans invented were not to be discussed or evidence taken; because if either of the latter courses were to be pursued the delay would be endless. The Bill as it at present stood allowed the railway companies to adopt whatever plan they pleased.

Motion agreed to.

Bill read 2a accordingly: Then it was moved that the Bill be referred to a Select Committee; objected to; and, on Question, Resolved in the Affirmative, and Bill referred to a Select Committee accordingly.

And, on July 11, the Lords following were named of the Committee:—

D. Richmond E. Kimberley
D. Sutherland V. Sydney
E. Carnarvon L. Stanley of Alderley

And, on July 12, The Lord Steward, E. Lucan and Lord Ponsonby added.

House adjourned at a quarter past Six o'clock, to Thursday next, half past Ten o'clock.