HL Deb 07 July 1871 vol 207 cc1286-7

, on rising to move for certain Returns on the subject of Irish Railways, said, that respectable people of all classes in Ireland were unanimously of opinion that the Irish railway system should be placed on a different fooling. The men of business in Ireland felt every day, and, he thought, wisely felt, that on the question of Irish railways they had been very much misgoverned. Since 1865 there had been meetings annually in Dublin, attended by the Members for the City, by members of Chambers of Commerce, by merchants and other men of business, to urge the placing of the system of Irish railways on a different footing. Similar meetings had been held in Belfast, Londonderry, Waterford, Cork, Limerick, Galway, and other towns that were equally anxious on this subject. The counties also had taken part in the movement. The landlords felt that the Irish railway system was not suited to the country, and that great improvements might be made in it without any loss to the National Exchequer. The wish of the people was not to get public money—all they desired was that the policy of 1844 should be put into practice with regard to Irish railways. The Government had more than once listened to representations from Irish railway companies, and considerable sums had been granted, which had gone in a wrong direction, because it had gone to prop up a bad system. Nothing was more likely to induce the Irish people to join what was called the National party, and to advance the views of the Home Rule Association, than to lead them to think that the material interests of their nation were neglected, and it was impossible to say that the material interests of Ireland were properly attended to, when the question of the Irish railways was treated in the way in which it was at present.

Moved that there be laid before this House, Return of the various corporations, boards, and other public bodies in Ireland, including meetings of counties and towns convened by lawful authority, which have expressed to the Irish Government or to the Treasury their desire for an alteration of the present system of management of the Railways of that country since the first of January 1866: Also, Copy of a Memorial on the same subject, signed by many Peers and Members of the House of Commons, and presented to the Treasury,—(The Marquess of Clanricarde.)


expressed the satisfaction he felt at the noble Marquess having brought forward this subject, which he regarded as being of the greatest importance to Ireland, and one which had attracted considerable attention in that country of late years. It was one of those questions—unfortunately so rare—from which all party and political feelings were excluded. It had been conclusively shown that it would be of the greatest advantage to Ireland if a comprehensive scheme with respect to the railways of that country were taken in hand by the Government, and he hoped it would be taken into their serious consideration.


said, he did not suppose that the noble Marquess expected him to enter on this occasion into a statement of the views of the Government on the whole question; and he was sorry to say that it was impossible to comply with the first part of the Motion, because as the various Memorials and papers of that kind, presented from time to time to successive Lords Lieutenant of Ireland, had not been regarded as of an official character, but had been dealt with as other less official correspondence, the documents moved for were not in the hands of the Irish Office. As to the second part of the Motion, relating to the Memorial presented to the Treasury, he was instructed to state that the Department had considerable objection to the practice on a Motion in either House of Parliament of directing the printing of Memorials of this description. That document was a very lengthy one, and the printing would, of course, involve considerable expense. For these reasons, he regretted that the Government could not consent to the Motion.


replied, and the Motion

On Question? Resolved in the Negative.

House adjourned at a quarter before Seven o'clock, to Monday next, a quarter before Five o'clock.