§ THE EARL OF REDESDALE (CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES),
in moving—That it is desirable before the Letterkenny Railway and the West Donegal Railway Bills be further proceeded with that the Board of Trade should report to Parliament whether the character of the country through or of the traffic for which these lines are to be made renders it necessary or expedient that either or both of them should be constructed on a three feet gauge, with the reasons on which their Report is founded,said, the existence of two gauges in England had been found so inconvenient that, though sanctioned in certain districts by public legislation, one had been, for the most part, and probably, before long, would be altogether got rid of. A discussion had taken place on the subject of the advisability of allowing narrow-gauge railways to be constructed in certain districts in Ireland, when the general opinion arrived at was that it might be necessary in some cases; but that before Parliament legislated in the matter it would be desirable to have a Report of the necessities of each individual case made by an Inspector of the Board of Trade. These two Bills opened the question of the general introduction of a narrow-gauge in Ireland, whereby a serious interruption would be 997 caused in the uniformity of gauge of Irish railways, as settled by public legislation, which might lead to considerable inconvenience. He therefore had felt it his duty to move the above Resolution, in order that Parliament might have that information in regard to these lines which the Government had declared was desirable before such a change of gauge was sanctioned.
§ Moved to resolve, That it is desirable before the Letterkenny Railway and the West Donegal Railway Bills be further proceeded with that the Board of Trade should report to Parliament whether the character of the country through or of the traffic for which these lines are to be made renders it necessary or expedient that either or both of them should be constructed on a three feet gauge, with the reasons on which their Report is founded.—(The Chairman of Committees.)
THE DUKE OF RICHMOND AND GORDON
said, he could not agree to the Motion of the noble Earl. He could not see that sanctioning these two lines of railway would be equivalent to sanctioning a double line of gauge over all Ireland. It had been decided only the other night not to postpone these two Bills, and the suggestion which he threw out as to having a Report from the Board of Trade referred to future Bills and not present ones. Those Bills had now been referred to a Select Committee, and it would put the promoters to great expense if the Motion was carried, as they had no Notice that any such change was in contemplation.
§ LORD ABERDARE
regretted that the Government had come to the decision they had. The disturbance of the general gauge in a country was a question of national interest. It was the business of the Government to report through the Board of Trade upon the general principle; and he failed to understand why, in the present case, that had not been done. He thought it was desirable that the Select Committee should have all the information which could be obtained put before it before it came to a decision; and the Report of an Inspector of the Board of Trade who had inquired into all the circumstances of the case would be of great assistance to them in coming to a just and proper decision.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
said, he knew nothing about the merits of the particular measures under discussion; but thought it would be unfair to the promoters of the Bills, seeing that they 998 had been read a second time, to suspend the whole proceedings in order that a local investigation might be made, as to which no Notice whatever had been given. He knew of no case in which the progress of a Bill had been suspended after the second reading in order that the Board of Trade might conduct a local inquiry, the result of which was to be laid before Parliament. Such a course of proceeding would cause great loss and inconvenience to the parties interested. In the present case, the promoters were prepared to go on with the Bills, and they had no reason to anticipate that such a Motion would be made. It could not be supposed, as had been said by his noble Friend the Lord President of the Council, that the sanctioning of these two Bills would be sanctioning narrow-gauge railways all over Ireland; and he would point out that the discussion the other day showed the necessity of sanctioning them in these two particular districts. He differed from the policy of his noble Friend (the Earl of Redesdale), who, in his opinion, carried his enthusiasm for a uniform gauge a little too far. In Ireland the only choice in many cases was between a three-feet gauge and nothing.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
said, he thought it would be better to adopt the Motion, so that a full investigation of the special circumstances of the case should take place. The present case was not like a suit in which parties would be debarred from taking action because no notice had been given. All that was now proposed was that the Committee should not be debarred from getting that information which was always desirable in the case of Bills of this kind. There was no idea that a general rule affecting all cases should be laid down.
§ THE EARL OF REDESDALE (CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES),
hoped the Resolution would be carried, as he thought it would be an advantage to Parliament if the information he desired were laid before it. To sanction these Bills without due inquiry might establish an undesirable precedent, and all he wished was to prevent the adoption of a narrow gauge being agreed to without further information being obtained. He had brought the matter forward in the public interest, and should press it to a Division.
§ On Question? Their Lordships divided: —Contents 28; Not-Contents 36: Majority 8.
|Bedford, D.||Aberdare, L.|
|Lansdowne, M.||Carlingford, L.|
|Northampton, M.||Clinton, L.|
|Airlie, E.||Romilly, L.|
|Cowper, E.||Sefton, L. (E. Sefton.) [Teller.]|
|Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.)||Silchester, L. (E. Longford.)|
|Stanley of Alderley, L.|
|Dundonald, E.||Strafford, L. (V. Enfield)|
|Kimberley, E.||Sudeley, L.|
|Lucan, E.||Suffield, L.|
|Redesdale, E. [Teller.]||Thurlow, L.|
|Templetown, V.||Zouche of Haryngworth, L.|
|Cairns, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Ashford, L. (V. Bury)|
|Northumberland, D.||Cottesloe, L.|
|Richmond, D.||De L'Isle and Dudley, L.|
|Salisbury, M.||Elphinstone, L.|
|Amherst, E.||Gerard, L.|
|Bathurst, E.||Harlech, L.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Hartismere, L.(L. Henniker.) [Teller.]|
|Cadogan, E.||Heytesbury, B.|
|Dartrey, E.||Kenlis, L. (M. Headfort.)|
|De La Warr, E.|
|Rosslyn, E.||Norton, L.|
|Stanhope, E.||Saltersford, L. (E. Courtown.)|
|Cranbrook, V.||Skelmersdale, L. [Teller.]|
|Sidmouth, V.||Sondes, L.|
|Abinger, L.||Stewart of Garlies, L (E. Galloway.)|
§ Resolved in the Negative.