§ Lord G. Somerset
moved the following Resolution:—That every Committee on a Railway Bill shall fix the Tolls, and shall determine the maximum rates of charge for the conveyance of passengers (with a due amount of luggage) and of goods on such Railway; and such rates of charge shall include the Tolls, and the costs of locomotive power and every other expense connected with the conveyance of passengers (with a due amount of luggage) and of goods upon such Railway; but if the Committee shall not deem it expedient to determine such maximum rates of charge, a special Report, explanatory of the grounds of their omitting so to do, shall be made to the House, which special Report shall accompany the Report of the Bill.
§ Mr. Labouchere
said, that seeing the course which railway proceedings were perhaps necessarily taking, and that the public were day by day getting more and more into the hands of a few powerful companies, it was absolutely necessary that some means should be devised of placing a check upon their power of monopoly, and he was very glad that this Resolution had been proposed for the purpose.
§ Mr. Hawes
expressed a wish that if Committees were to be required to conform to this Resolution, the House should instruct them by what means they were to accomplish that task, for all the elements upon which the Committees were to calculate the maximum of charge must be furnished by the companies themselves, and Committees would have no other means of estimating what ought to be the maximum. He held this notice to be utterly useless, and, because useless, unwise. So strongly did he hold that opinion, that if he had the least chance of success, he should take the sense of the House upon the question.
§ Sir G. Clerk
tought the Resolution would be beneficial, and that it would meet with a ready acquiescence from railway companies themselves, as in fact some companies had voluntarily inserted clauses in their Bills fixing a maximum of charge.
§ Mr. Gisborne
thought that unless the House of Commons were prepared to abandon all attempts at placing a limit on the charges of railway companies, they must adopt some course such as that now proposed; but at the same time he trusted much more to the principle of competition 1242 than to the efficacy of this or any similar Resolution; and, although he would not oppose the noble Lord's Motion, he hoped the House would not adopt any measure which could have the effect of discouraging that spirit of competition which was the best security for justice to the public.
Mr. S. Wortley
thought the Resolution would be a more effectual protection to the public if words were introduced to establish not only a maximum of charge, but also a proper proportion between the rates of passenger and goods traffic. He moved an amendment to insert the words, "Such railway, and the proportion to be observed between such rules of charge respectively."
§ Mr. Aglionby
said he should give his cordial support to the present and every other proposition calculated to guard the public against what he considered the extreme powers of railway companies. He hoped some measure would be introduced to check the injustice which was committed by some companies, who, while they consulted the convenience and the pockets of long and wealthy passengers, utterly neglected the wants of the intermediate and poorer travellers.
§ Lord G. Somerset
hoped the House would not agree with the Amendment, but adopt the original Resolution.
§ Sir George Grey
said, that however important the Amendment might be, as it was brought forward without due notice, it should be postponed for some future occasion.
§ Amendment withdrawn. Original Resolution agreed to.