§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
, in rising to move that a Select Committee be appointed to join with a Committee of the Lords to inquire into the subject of the Amalgamation of Railway Companies, with special reference to the Bills for that purpose now before Parliament, and to consider whether any and what Regulations should be imposed by Parliament in the event of such Amalgamations being sanctioned, said, that proposals of amalgamation among railway companies of a most important and unusual kind had been made in the present Session. Twenty years ago a Committee had reported against the system of amalgamation; but since that Committee reported amalgamation had gone on as merrily as before—the fact being that 5,000milesof railway had been added to the greater railways since that time. Applications had been made by a great many towns in the North of England—and from Liverpool in particular—against committing these Bills to the ordinary course of Parliamentary procedure, and in favour of such a Parliamentary Inquiry as was now proposed. He thought that great advantage would result from an inquiry into this subject by a limited number of distinguished Members of both Houses of Parliament. It must not be supposed that in proposing this course the Go- 944 vernment in the slightest degree wished to avoid responsibility in this matter. The proposed inquiry would bring Parliament and the public face to face with the difficulties of the question. The result might have an important bearing on the relations between the State and the railway companies.
§ MR. SCLATER-BOOTH
said, he thought the Government had taken a very wise course, though some hon. Members of high authority distrusted the prudence of the course. He hoped the proposed number of the Members of the Committee would be stated.
§ MR. NORWOOD
rejoiced that the Government had taken this step, but added that the amalgamation of canal, harbour, and dock companies should also be considered.
supported the Motion, and said that the railway companies would concur in this—that there should be no direct representation of their interest upon the Committee; but, at the same time, he thought that the representation of all antagonistic interests should be also excluded. He concurred that canal companies amalgamation should be considered, and thought that "trucking" arrangements should be likewise taken into consideration. He hoped that the Committee would succeed in laying down definite rules for their future guidance.
assured the House that the Government would enter into the inquiry without any bias whatever; but when these great bodies came to Parliament for an enlargement of their powers, it was but fair that Parliament should affix to the arrangement such conditions as they should see fit. With regard to representation, he admitted that it was desirable to exclude from the Committee, as far as possible, direct and positive sympathies of a professional kind; but it was absolutely impossible to exclude what might be a perfectly real and very important interest in railways, in the shape of shareholders.
§ MR. WHITWELL
said, he hoped that canals, docks, and harbours would be in terms the subject of reference to the Committee.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, he could not consent to alter the terms of reference; but the interests 945 referred to would naturally come before the Committee.
Motion agreed to.
Select Committee appointed, "to join with a Committee of the Lords to inquire into the subject of the Amalgamation of Railway Companies, with special reference to the Bills for that purpose now before Parliament, and to consider whether any and what Regulations should be imposed by Parliament in the event of such Amalgamations being sanctioned."—(Mr. Chichester Fortescue.)
And, on February 26, Committee nominated as follows:—Mr. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE, Mr. HUNT, Mr. CHILDERS, Mr. STEPHEN CAVE, Mr. DODSON, and Mr. CROSS:—Power to send for persons, papers, and records; Three to be the quorum.