HL Deb 27 August 1907 vol 182 cc332-6

Commons reason for disagreeing to one of the Lords' Amendments considered (on Motion).


I understand that this Amendment, which relates to what are called privileged cabs, is a substantive Amendment, and that Lord Stalbridge is about to move an Amendment to which His Majesty's Government offer no opposition.


, in moving to leave out Subsection (2), page 2, line 4, said that the railway companies could not move from their original position, which he had stated frankly to the House, namely, that they believed that the privilege system was the one best suited to serve the true interests of the travelling public, and they did not believe that the scheme proposed by His Majesty's Government would effect that purpose. If it did not, the responsibility would not lie upon the railway companies but upon His Majesty's Government. The railway companies would certainly do nothing aggressive, but would do what they could to carry out the intentions of the Bill. The subsection which he proposed to omit might interfere with the omnibuses of railway companies which now plied for passengers at the stations, and he did not believe that it was at all intended by the Government to effect that object. He understood that His Majesty's Government did not object to the omission of the subsection, and he therefore begged to move.

Amendment moved— In page 2, line 4, to leave out Subsection (2)."—(Lord Stalbridge.)


said that before the Amendment was agreed to be wanted to have some slightly more definite assurance from His Majesty's Government with regard to the matter. If he might say so without offence, he thought the noble Lord who represented the Home Office was somewhat less than fair to the railway companies last night upon the matter of the monetary arrangements that were made. He seemed distinctly to imply—and his words, as reported, gave a distinct colour to the suggestion—that the railway companies were arguing this privilege cab system because it was supposed to put money into their pockets. He had done his best to disabuse the noble Lord's mind of that idea last night, and he wished to repeat in the most emphatic way that the question of the money concerned was an extremely small affair, and, indeed, on balance the railway companies lost money by the system. It was really not a money question with them at all, but entirely a question of what system was best calculated to serve the interests of the customers of the railway companies—the travelling public. Beyond all question, the railway companies were very anxious as to the effect of this proposed change upon the convenience of the public. They believed that they would have very much greater difficulty in the future in serving the public than they had had in the past, and he was particularly anxious that in the event of any disturbance in the cab trade such as had happened before, the freedom of the railway companies should not be interfered with in doing their very best to serve the public. He thought the omission of the sub-section proposed by the noble Lord (Lord Stalbridge) might well go some way toward securing that object, but he hoped that it was distinctly understood that in the event of disturbances of that kind, the Home Office meant that the next sub-section might be brought into operation, and that any restriction which might hamper the railway companies in getting away their passengers from the stations would be suspended. He had every reason to believe that he would get that assurance, and he was most anxious not to deal with the matter controversially, but he hoped it would be distinctly stated on the authority of His Majesty's Government that they did not intend to hamper the railway companies in such a set of circumstances as he had indicated.


I am glad to be able to give the noble Lord the assurance which he requires. The omission of this sub-section would neither enable the railway companies to organise a system of their own nor prevent them from doing so in the event of such a disturbance arising as the noble Lord has suggested. The position of the companies would be the same as at the present moment. The companies, of course, would not be able to grant preference in the admission of their own cabs, but since the very basis of the noble Lord's question is the suggestion that the other cabs would refuse to enter, the question of preference does not arise. I think that meets the noble Lord's question.


Exactly; but I wanted to know whether the next sub-section would be so used as not to stand in the way of our operations.


I beg your pardon. I ought to have mentioned that, but I am sure I may say that the Secretary of State would be quite ready, if the need for it is shown, to suspend the clause, as he reserves to himself the power to do under Sub-section (2).

On Question, "That this House do not insist upon their Amendment to leave out Clause 2, to which the Commons disagreed," Motion agreed to.

On Question, "That Sub-section (2) stand part of the Bill," Motion negatived.


next moved in page 2, line 17, to leave out all words after "affect" to the end of the subsection, and to insert certain words. He said that this Amendment met the point to which he had drawn the attention of His Majesty's Government last night. He thought the words proposed would enable the railway companies to a certain extent to deal with the difficulties which might arise under the future regulations. He begged to move.

Amendment moved— In page 2, line 17, to leave out all words after the word 'affect' to the end of the subsection, and to insert the words 'liability of cabs or the drivers thereof to comply with any regulations or conditions which may be made by the company having control of the railway station for the purpose of maintaining order or dealing with the traffic at such station, including regulations as to: (1) the number of cabs to be admitted at any one time; (2) the rejection of cabs and drivers unfit for admission; and (3) the expulsion of any cabman who has been guilty of any misconduct or of a breach of the company's by-laws or regulations.'"—(Lord Stalbridge.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


next moved to insert in page 2, line 25, the words, "and shall remain in force up to the first day of January, 1910." He said this would give two years for the experiment. He would have preferred one year, but in deference to the wishes of the Home Office, the companies had accepted two years, and he thought that in that time they would be able to show, as had been shown in a former experiment, what the value of the Home Office suggestion was. He begged to move.

Amendment moved— In page 2, line 25, at the end, to add the words, 'And shall remain in force up to the first day of January, 1910.'"—(Lord Stalbridge.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Bill returned to the Commons.