§ 2.36 p.m.
THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (THE EARL OF DROGHEDA)
My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be read a second time.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(The Earl of Drogheda.)
§ LORD MATHERS
My Lords, I am taking the unusual course of saying a word or two on Bill before it goes to a Committee for full examination. I do not feel in a position to move its rejection here and to ask that it should be dismissed out of hand, but I want it to be widely known how great is the perturbation felt about the action that is proposed by this Bill to end the service of the Liverpool Overheat: Railway. The rail, way is at the present time, and has been for many years, a great convenience, and to do away with it is looked upon by those who know the position intimately—and I have been in touch with them—as a great calamity. The fact that this railway will pass cut of use will cause the traffic that is now carried on it to come down on to the level of the street, where the congestion is already serious The great hope of those who are interested in this Bill, and who realise the 882 difficulties that its passing would cause, is that the Bill may not be proceeded with to its logical conclusion but that the interests concerned will get together to make arrangements for the continuance of the railway in operation. That is my point with regard to the Bill, as a whole, and the proposal to take this overhead railway out of service.
The other point I wish to make I can put quite briefly. Clause 8 of the Bill provides for compensation for loss of office. The complaint that is made in that reward—and I am sure that those who have lodged Petitions against the Bill will see that this point is fully argued—is that the compensation provisions are quite inequitable and, to be quite blunt about it, unfair. For example, in the case of the general manager, who has twelve years' service with tie railway, the suggested figure of £7,500 compensation works out at £625 for each year of service; and for the assistant manager, who has thirty-eight years' service, the suggested figure of £7,000 represents £184 for each year of service. In contrast, the compensation proposed for the staff is two weeks' salary or wages for each year of service, which cannot compare favourably with the basis proposed for the two chief officers or, indeed, with that provided under the Transport Acts of 1947 and 1949. I draw attention to these compensation clauses as a flaw in the Bill. If it is sent to a Select Committee of your Lordships' House I feel sure that the points I have made will be given full and proper consideration.
THE EARL OF DROGHEDA
My Lords, the House will understand that the duty of the Chairman of Committees is to ask that the Bill be read a second time; he is not in a position to deal with points such as the noble Lord, Lord Mathers, has raised, and there is no one here on behalf of the Promoters to de so. The matters to which the noble Lord has referred, which are of great substance, are already, as he said, the subject of Petitions against the Bill, and they will be heard by the Select Committee in due course. I think it is desirable that they should be left to the Committee and not be debated now on the Floor of the House.
§ LORD MATHERS
My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Earl for his reply. My purpose has been served, and I look 883 forward with interest to seeing what the Committee make of the Bill.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a and committed: the Committee to be proposed by the Committee of Selection.