§ Order for Third Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."—(Mr. Chichester Fortescue.)
§ SIR HERBERT CROFT
moved that the Bill be re-committed for the purpose of inserting clauses, giving to the Commissioners all the powers now exercised by the Board of Trade and the Court of Common Pleas with reference to railways; and enabling them, in addition, to compel Railway Companies to alter and improve a railway station, or level crossing reported to be dangerous; to properly and efficiently light carriages in their passage through tunnels; and to order inconvenient and unreasonable running of trains to be remedied.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE,
in seconding the Amendment, said, that it was well-known in the House that he was not inclined to grant exaggerated powers to the Commissioners appointed under the Bill; but there were two points contemplated in one of the clauses which the hon. Baronet the Member for Herefordshire (Sir Herbert Croft) had now moved that he wished to commend to the attention of the President of the Board of Trade and to the House. The first was, the clause which related to stations and level crossings and their dangerous character. He had three or four times brought before the House the danger of the station at Nuneaton and the level crossing there, now removed; but it took 10 years, six years after the Report of the Inspector, and cost four lives, before that danger was remedied. He had laid these facts before the House, and the pressure of the House had induced the North-Western Company to undertake the remedy of the evil; but why should six years have been wasted after the Inspector reported that the station and level crossing were dangerous, and why should four lives have been sacrificed before the danger was removed? He thought that the powers granted generally to the Commissioners were ample in other respects; and so he was unable to go entirely with the hon. Baronet the Member for Herefordshire; 1106 but he must say this, that he thought the Bill was deficient in not granting the Commissioners power to command the removal of an obvious cause of danger, after it had been reported by their own officers; and he agreed with the hon. Member on another point. He was of opinion that the inhabitants of a locality, who found themselves injured by the manner in which the trains were run at a particular station, ought to have a locus standi before the Commissioners; and he knew that they had not now a proper locus standi before the Board of Trade, or before the House, because he had been obliged to resort to every possible contrivance in order to obtain a due representation from the inhabitants of his own neighbourhood. With reference to two points, therefore, speaking from personal experience, he recommended these clauses to the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade.
§ Amendment proposed,
§ To leave out from the words "Bill be" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "recommitted in respect of certain new Clauses:—
§ (Powers of Commissioners.)
§ From and after the day of, one thousand eight hundred and, the Commissioners under this Act shall, with reference to all matters whereunto their jurisdiction under this Act extends, stand in the same place of and exercise all powers whatever now exercised by the President of the Board of Trade, and also by the Court of Common Pleas with reference to Railways.
§ (Railway station or level crossing reported dangerous.)
§ If and whenever any Inspector of Railways appointed under any Act shall report to the Commissioners with respect to any Railway station or any level crossing that the same is dangerous to the safety of the public, it shall be lawful for the said Commissioners, at their discretion, to give notice thereof in writing to the Railway Company owning such Railway station or such level crossing as aforesaid; and in case such Railway Company shall not within twelve calendar months from the date of such notice alter and improve such Railway station or level crossing in such manner as such Inspector shall certify in writing to be sufficient for the safety of the public, then and in every such case such Railway Company shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding pounds for every day from the expiration of such twelve calendar months, until such Inspector shall so certify as aforesaid; and such penalty shall be enforced by distress in the same manner as in the case of rent in arrear upon the property of such Railway Company at such time and in such manner as to the said Commissioners shall seem good.1107
§ (Carriages to be properly and efficiently lighted.)
§ From and after the day of, one thousand eight hundred and, all Railway carriages conveying passengers in the day time or by night, on any line of Railway passing through a tunnel or tunnels, shall be properly and efficiently lighted, under the same penalty, in respect to each carriage as is in the last clause of this Act contained.
§ (Commissioners may order inconvenient and unreasonable running of trains to be remedied.)
§ Be it also Enacted, That it shall be competent for the said Commissioners on receiving any memorial in writing from the inhabitants of any town, district, or locality, or in the case of a joint and several Railway station, that the trains of the Company are not run in due and reasonable conjunction with the trains of any other Company so jointly and severally using such Railway station as aforesaid, or that by inconvenient or unreasonable running of trains the interests of the public or the locality are prejudiced, then, and in such case or cases the said Commissioners shall have full power to investigate, and shall investigate the allegations in such memorial set forth, and make such report and order thereon and afford such relief as to them shall seem reasonable and just, and shall name such reasonable time within which such order shall be carried into effect as to the said Commissioners shall seem fit, and in every such case such Railway Company shall be liable to a penalty of pounds per day for every day from the expiration of the time within which such order shall have been directed to be done and carried out; and such penalty shall be enforceable by distress on the property of such Railway Company at such time and in such manner as to the said Commissioners shall seem fit,"—(Sir Herbert Croft,)
§ —instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. ASSHETON CROSS,
while far from saying that the recommendations of the hon. Baronet the Member for Herefordshire (Sir Herbert Croft) were not worthy of consideration, objected to "breaking the backs" of the Commissioners by imposing upon them work for which they were not appointed. He would remind the House that the Commissioners were appointed for a totally different purpose for that provided for in the proposed clauses—namely, to carry into effect the provisions of the Railway and Canal Traffic Act as amended. The matters brought under the attention of the House were, however, of great importance, and he hoped the Board of Trade would not lose sight of them.
§ SIR CHARLES ADDERLEY
supported the Amendment. The powers in 1108 question would not be acquired or exercised by the Board of Trade, and ought to be committed to the Commissioners appointed by the Bill. If they were to have a costly Commission, at all events let them have duties performed which if not undertaken by them, would not be performed at all.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
resisted the proposal to recommit the Bill, upon the ground that it was a measure which dealt only with questions of traffic and not with questions of the public safety. He was very much surprised at the view taken of the Bill by the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, who was utterly mistaken as to the effect of the Bill. The powers transferred to the Commissioners by the Bill came not from the Board of Trade but from the Court of Common Pleas. However, his principal argument against the proposition now made was, that this was the third reading of the Bill, and there had been ample opportunity at previous stages to propose any such Amendments as those now brought forward. The Bill was from first to last a traffic Bill, and care was taken in it that no confusion should arise between the powers of the Commissioners and those of the Board of Trade.
was satisfied with the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, and would not move the Amendment of which he had given Notice.
§ MR. WHALLEY
expressed his disaproval of the creation of the tribunal with such powers as the Bill proposed.
§ MR. HINDE PALMER
supported the Amendment on the ground that an increase of powers to the proposed tribunal was necessary.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read the third time, and passed.