HL Deb 04 June 1867 vol 187 cc1552-5

called the attention of the House to the inconvenience which had arisen from the discrepancy in the Standing Orders of the two Houses of Parliament in regard to the provision made in the last Session of Parliament for securing the completion of railways. The object of the deposit was to give security for the proper completion of railways; but the present state of matters relating to the Standing Orders was extremely inconvenient, inasmuch as it required the parties to comply with two sets of Standing Orders, which were wholly different. He thought what was requisite as to the required proceedings of railway companies should be comprised in the provisions of a Bill and submitted to the consideration of both Houses of Parliament. He would suggest to the noble Lord the Chairman of Committees that he should enter into communication with the Chairman of Committees in the other House, in order to see if some arrangements could not be made to form a Joint Committee of Standing Orders, or at all events to issue a combined set of Standing Orders in reference to proceedings of Railway Companies which introduced Bills into Parliament, so that when the companies promoting such Bills had complied with their Lordships' Standing Orders, they should have no further trouble with respect to those of the House of Commons. He wished to know what course the noble Lord was prepared to take in the matter.


said, he was much obliged to the noble Lord for bringing forward this subject, because he wished to explain to the House, and to all others whom it concerned elsewhere, how the matter in question stood. He had last Session communicated with the Chairman of the Standing Orders Committee of the House of Commons with the view of obtaining his concurrence and approval of the Standing Order adopted by their Lordships' House; but Colonel Wilson Patten thought it then too late to propose any change in the Commons Orders, but advised him to proceed in the Lords, engaging to bring the subject before the Standing Order Committee in the Commons at the commencement of the ensuing Session. This Session he had again applied to the Chairman to have some arrangement come to; but one excuse was made after another with regard to it; the matter was put off till just before Easter, and the Chairman of Ways and Means, and the Chairman of the Standing Orders Committee, came to him and requested that he should withdraw their Lordships' Standing Order. He said he would consider the subject, and let them know the conclusion he came to. He had considered the subject fully, and seen what the effect of the Standing Order had been. He confessed he was not prepared to come to the conclusion that the Standing Order of that House should be given up. The intention of Parliament undoubtedly was that the deposit should be applicable to the construction of the railway, and that it should be deposited by the subscribers to the railway; but the usual course was to borrow the money from some bank at considerable expense, and the Act allowed the withdrawal of the deposit after the Bill had passed, by giving a bond; and although the Act provided that the money should be forfeited if the railway should not be completed within the time specified, there was no single instance in which that had been enforced. The Resolution of the House of Commons admitted that their Standing Order was defective, and he was satisfied great advantage would result from carrying out their Lordships' Standing Order. Everything that had occurred since the adoption of the Standing Order tended to show its importance. In the case of the Brighton line a great exposure had taken place in reference to engagements entered into by the Directors for the adoption of certain lines, and he expressed his belief that the complaints made on that subject had arisen in consequence of the want of security afforded by the Standing Order adopted by their Lordships, which, he maintained, was more in accordance with the Act of Parliament than the Standing Order of the House of Commons, because it insured a deposit by subscribers for the sake of the contemplated undertaking. A short time ago he had a conversation on the subject of the Standing Order with the Chairman of the Standing Orders Committee of the House of Commons and with the Chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means, who were not prepared to condemn their own Standing Order. He, on the other hand, was not prepared to condemn the Standing Order adopted by their Lordships, which, he thought, might without any inconvenience be tried for a short time by way of experiment. What he proposed as a fair compromise was, when their Lordships sent clown Bills containing the clause in conformity with their Standing Order to the other House, and when the other House sent them back amended according to the Standing Order of the Commons, that their Lordships should accept the Bill so amended, and that, in like manner,' Bills originating in the other House, when sent back amended according to their Lordships' Standing Order, should be accepted by the Commons.


suggested the expediency of appointing a Committee composed of Members of both Houses to consider the point. The consequence of the position in which matters now stood would be that legislation with respect to railway subjects would be stopped for the present if their Lordships persisted in maintaining their Standing Order.


thought that, if a Joint Committee of the two Houses were appointed to examine into the Standing Orders, a satisfactory solution of the difficulty might easily be arrived at.


was of opinion that the Government ought to take upon themselves the responsibility of recommending to Parliament the course which they deemed desirable to be taken in the matter.


looked upon the suggestion for the appointment of a Joint Committee as one which it would be well to adopt.


admitted that the present state of things was attended with great inconvenience, and undertook to confer with the Members of the Government in the other House with the view of seeing whether some more satisfactory arrangement could not be devised.


thought it would be well if the arrangement should embrace not only the particular point at issue, but the general conduct of the private business which came before both Houses.