HL Deb 06 March 1885 vol 295 cc225-6

said, that as he saw the noble Lord (Lord Henniker) in his place he wished to ask him whether he would consent to postpone until Monday week his Motion on the subject of railway rates, which stood upon the Paper in his name for Monday next? The Board of Trade were negotiating with the traders on the one side and with the Railway Companies on the otehr, and it was hoped that a settlement would be arrived at satisfactory to both parties. If the subject came on for so early a day as Monday, it was feared that the proposed arrangement might be placed in jeopardy. In any case it would be impossible for him, pending those negotiations, to state the views of the Board of Trade, or to take any part in the discussion.


said, that he always thought it a bad plan to postpone a Motion without very strong reasons, as it seemed as if the case to be brought forward was a weak one; and on this occasion he could assure their Lordships that the contrary was the fact. However, if he had been acting quite independently he might have listened to the appeal of the noble Lord. He took on himself the entire responsibility of any action he might take; but he was Chairman of an important Committee on Railway Rates composed of Members of their Lordships' House, Members of the House of Commons, and representatives of Chambers of Commerce, Chambers of Agriculture, and Trading Societies all over the country. Under these circumstances, he could not retire from the position he had taken up without a very strong reason for doing so. He did not believe that anything he would say, or that would be raised by the debate, would prejudice the negotiations going on with the Railway Companies; and he had every reason to believe that a discussion in that House might forward the views, even in the negotiations, of the Committee over which he presided. Of course, the Committee had their views as to various details; but that was not the time to state those views. Suffice it to say that one main point was, that the very great changes in railway legislation proposed by certain Bills in that House and in the other House of Parliament should not be made in such measures, but in a Bill brought in by the Government. If the noble Lord would say that the negotiations going on were based strictly on this principle well and good—he would put off his Motion for a week; but if not, he must proceed with it, for he could not tell what direction the negotiations might take, and he might not only-prejudice his case by postponement, but be helping those who took a different view from the Committee over which he had the honour to preside.


said, he was afraid he could not give the information required as to the nature of the negotiations; and he presumed, therefore, that the noble Lord would go on with his Motion.