§ Order for consideration, as amended, read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill, as amended, be now considered."
§ MR. O'SHEE (Waterford, W.)
, in asking the House to decline to proceed with the Bill on the ground that the companies concerned were seeking to evade the fulfilment of Parliamentary undertakings, said that the companies referred to in the Motion undertook in 1898, and their undertakings were embodied in the Fishguard and Rosslare Railways and Harbours Act of 1898, to construct the very works which it was proposed by this Bill to construct. The position to-day was that these companies were really the chief supporters of the proposals of the Bill, and intended to construct the works which were proposed to be constructed under the Bill. They 1211 intended to become the owners of the railways constructed under the Bill, and they appealed to the Treasury, seeking to get from the public funds of this country a grant of public money for the purpose of constructing works which they were under a statutory obligation to construct under the Act of 1898. The companies were under a series of obligations which were all embodied in the Act, but of which he would mention only two. They were under ten obligations, but the two he wished to refer to were, first—The construction, with the sanction of Parliament, of a line from Fermoy to Dunkettle with running powers over the Great Southern and Western Railway Company's line to the Great Southern and Western Railways terminal station at Cork.and—The construction, with the sanction of Parliament and the co-operation of the local authorities in Cork, and the railway companies west of Cork, of a line to connect the systems of the companies west of Cork with the systems of the Fishguard Company, and the Great Southern and Western Railway Company.That proposal was exactly the same as the proposal of the Bill. The connecting links in Cork City the obligations of which these companies undertook under the Act of 1898 were the connecting links to be made by this Bill. Section 68 of the Act of 1898 read as follows—The company" (the Fishguard Company) "will use their best endeavours to obtain the assent and co-operation of the Cork Commissioners, and the Corporation of Cork, and of the Cork, Bandon and South Coast, and Cork and Macroom Railway Companies, and within a reasonable time of obtaining such assent and co-operation, will apply to Parliament for and use their best endeavours to obtain, and if such powers are contained will construct a direct communication across the River Lee so as to connect the systems of the company and of the Great Southern Company with those of the Cork, Bandon and South Coast, and the Cork and Macroom Railway Companies, which communication, when constructed, shall be part of the undertaking of the company.They were under the further obligation under the Act of 1898 of coming to Parliament in the following year for the purpose of obtaining powers to construct the Fermoy and Dunkettle line. They did come to Parliament and got powers to construct that line, and then began a series of attempts on the part of these two companies to evade those two obligations. 1212 They came to Parliament in 1901, and in order to get rid of the obligation to construct the Fermoy and Dunkettle line, suggested that Parliament should consent to their carrying out their obligation to construct the links in Cork City, and that that should be taken in substitution of their undertaking to construct the Fermoy and Dunkettle line. The Great Western Company were connected with the Bill, and both companies were parties to this Bill, as the evidence given before the Committee would show. When the Bill was submitted by the Company in 1901, the hon. Member for North Louth moved—To leave out from the word 'that 'to the end of the question, and add the words 'that this House is not prepared to consider any Bill relating to the Great Southern and Western Company's system until the Company had given effect to the Parliamentary undertakings for which it is responsible respecting the construction of the Cork and Fermoy line under the Acts of 1898 to 1899.In response to the Amendment Lord Shuttleworth, then Sir U. Kay Shuttle-worth, who was the Chairman of the Committee which passed the Bills of 1898 and 1899, said that—as chairman of the Committee which had considered the original Bill, he trusted that the strongest view would be taken both by the Government and the House of their attempt to evade their obligations on the part of these two great railway companies which were united under the concession granted to them three years ago by a very strong Committee specially appointed by this House, and that they should not be released from the solemn obligations they had then entered into. The concession that was then granted to them was a very large and a very exceptional one. In some respects it was a great monopoly, and the Committee had taken great care in granting the concession to consider all the obligations which they were bound to lay on the company in order that the public interests might be properly secured.Sir U. Kay Shuttleworth went on to refer to the suggestion then made by the company that if they carried out their second obligation they should be thereby entitled to claim a release from their first obligation. He said—But what did they offer? They offered as an alternative to carry out a second obligation, one of many, but a second obligation which they equally solemnly undertook, namely, with the co-operation of the City of Cork to connect this new system with the particular district for the benefit of the fishing and agricultural industries. He hoped the House of Commons and the Government would not for a moment entertain the idea that because the company 1213 offered to carry out one of their obligations, they therefore should be let off carrying out the other. The hon. Gentleman read a paragraph of the Report containing the word 'co-operation,' and it was perfectly true that that word as used there could not have been intended to mean financial co-operation. If they had had financial assistance in view, the Committee would have taken care to have put that in the Report. What was meant was that the company should be given power to make this line, and that the commissioners should co-operate with them in the construction of a bridge across the River Lee which would be greatly to the advantage of the South West of Ireland, namely, of all parts of the country beyond Cork.In the course of that discussion the Leader of the Opposition, then First Lord of the Treasury, deprecated any attempt to introduce these subjects into an omnibus Bill. He said—One word before he sat down with regard to the Bill before the House. It had no connection with the Cork and Fermoy line, or with the construction of the bridge over the river Lee, but it was a Bill, the object of which was to improve the conduct of traffic between the South of Ireland and England. It was an omnibus Bill, and in his judgment the House would act very foolishly if it attempted to penalise a railway company by refusing to pass an omnibus Bill, simply because the company had incurred and perhaps justly incurred suspicion in relation to certain matters. Let the House refuse in the future to remit to another Committee what one Committee had already decided; let the House refuse to allow a company to go back on a Parliamentary bargain, but it would be unwise in the interests of the travelling public, leaving out of consideration the shareholders, to penalise this or any other company, because they had incurred the displeasure of the House in connection with an entirely different matter. Therefore, he would suggest that this Bill, having been duly before a Committee, ought to be read a third time; but hereafter if either the House or the Treasury was asked to release the companies from a bargain into which they had solemnly entered for value received, then an entirely different set of considerations came in and probably a different course ought to be taken.A great number of Members spoke upon the subject. The hon. Member for County Cork pointed out that if they did this the construction of the links in Cork City would be very desirable, that the railway would assist the congested districts, develop the fishing industry and assist the transit of agricultural produce. And he went on to say—As to the co-operation of the Cork local bodies, if they acted towards this scheme in a selfish and niggardly spirit, he trusted that that would be remembered by the House when the Cork authorities came for further powers.1214 What had happened? The Cork Corporation was here for the first time supporting this Bill. Last year a similar Bill was before the House, and was rejected by the Committee for doing this, and they had the Cork Corporation, which now for the first time supported the Bill, then lodging a petition against it. They put forward the very ground which he was raising now. Last year as in this year a Bill was put forward and they said—Your petitioners are advised and believe that the scheme sought to be authorised by the present Bill is put forward by or in the interests of the Great Western Railway Company the Fishguard Company, and the Southern Company, who as before stated are by Section 60 authorised with the other companies in the said section mentioned to subscribe to the undertaking and so aid the construction of the proposed railways. Your petitioners submit that this is apparently an attempt on the part of the Fishguard Company supported by the Western and Southern Company to evade their Parliamentary obligations.That was the same case as he was making on the present occasion. It might have been contended with some force that up to this year the Fishguard Company had never obtained the consent of the Cork local authorities which it was suggested they should get in the Act of 1898. This year for the first time all the local authorities of Cork were consenting to the Bill, and that being so for the first time the obligation on the Fishguard Company to construct those links came into operation. He made the same case as the Cork Corporation did last year, which was that it was an attempt on the part of the companies to evade their Parliamentary obligations. Was the House to be asked to help them to evade their obligations? There was no suggestion till this year that they should be helped to fulfil an obligation which they undertook to fulfil without public money. In 1901 they offered to construct the Cork and Fermoy line and the connecting links with the city without any grant, and now because they had been in default till they had allowed their powers to construct to lapse they asked to be helped. The matter had never properly come before the Committee, for they had no moans of knowing the history of the transactions. There was no evidence given before them on that point, and they were not in any way responsible for the position created by the fact that these 1215 companies now appeared as the chief promotors and sponsors of the Bill. The Committee did not know, so far as evidence was before them, that these companies had a Parliamentary obligation to carry out this very work as soon as they got the consent of the corporations concerned. If they had had that evidence before them he was quite sure that they would not have listened to a Bill which proposed to enable them to evade Parliamentary obligations which they undertook in 1898. In consequences of the Acts passed in 1898–9 the companies got an Act in 1900 for the amalgamation of the Great Southern system with two other important railways in the South of Ireland, and the net position was that, having failed to fulfil two important Parliamentary obligations, they now held that they were entitled to benefit by that evasion and to get for the purpose of enabling them to evade another Parliamentary obligation, £25,000 out of the money which had come back into the Treasury. There had never been a more flagrant violation of Parliamentary obligations. It was the most monstrous thing that Parliament could do to give them £25,000 as a reward for evading direct Parliamentary obligations and to help them to evade another obligation. He did not know whether the Railway Trust in Ireland was going to obtain the same power and influence as other trusts in America, but he thought that if ever there was an instance of the introduction of putrefaction into the body politic this was one. He moved.
§ MR. POWER (Waterford, E.)
, in seconding, said that no one who attended the deliberations of the Committee which considered this Bill could deny that they gave the greatest care to the intricate evidence, or that their proceedings were prolonged and anxious. The Committee were at a serious disadvantage, however, in not having an opportunity of considering the Cork and Waterford Bill. Had they taken evidence with regard to the merits of that Bill he believed that they would have hesitated long before they even indirectly sanctioned a measure which was in the interests of two great companies 1216 which had evaded their statutory obligations in the most flagrant way. On behalf of the ratepayers in the county of Waterford, they regretted very sincerely that that Bill was withdrawn, for although they could not support all the details of the Cork and Waterford Railway Bill, at all events it did provide an alternative route, and had it come before the Committee they would have been able on behalf of the ratepayers of Waterford to have placed before the Committee facts which must have influenced their views in coming to a decision. The capital of this railway company was £280,000 and up to June, 1898, the ratepayers had paid £292,062, or, in other words, they had paid up to that time £12,062 over and above the capital of the company. For a year after that period the ratepayers were liable to £14,000, and they were liable to £7,000 a year at the present time minus some reduction under the Local Government Act. The capital of the company was not sufficient to construct the line, and so they applied to the Board of Works for a loan of £93,000. He might mention that in some districts the guarantee amounted to 1s. 4d. in the £ per annum. In 1898 the Great Western Railway Company brought forward a Bill to take up this county line. They offered to wipe out the entire guarantee if the Treasury would provide £93,000. The hybrid committee said they would not consent to this, but they agreed to half of the rate being wiped out, which left it at £7,000. It was agreed that for the other £7,000 a competitive route should be established which would compete with the Holyhead route and connect Waterford and Cork, and indirectly Cork and Dublin. From the moment they got these powers they commenced intriguing to get out of their obligations, and by the lapse of time they had managed to get out of them. He only wished that the Great Western Railway Company and their allies would come forward themselves and not put forward private promoters. The Great Western Railway Company had broken their pledges to Parliament in the most scandalous way, and they would be the parties who would gain most by this measure. The late Duke of Devonshire, in a most generous 1217 way, constructed a line from Formoy to Lismore at his own expense and this, together with the line which the ratepayers of Waterford constructed themselves, was the only competitive route. This company asked to be relieved from their obligations to construct the Cork and Fermoy line, and in place thereof to be allowed to substitute a scheme for connecting the lines in Cork, but that application was refused. If that application was refused, was it not equally their duty to refuse a similar application now. He thought it would be acknowledged that those who had paid for so many years these enormous sums had a claim for consideration with regard to this£93,000. It might be said that a portion of this £93,000 had been allotted to Waterford for a bridge, but the citizens of Waterford in twenty years had paid the sum of £20,000 towards the guarantee. He did not know whether he had made a good case or not, but he knew he had a good and an unanswerable case. If anyone had a claim to this money it was the poor ratepayers who had been paying through the nose in the county of Waterford. By the terms of the Bill they would be handing over a considerable portion of this money to enable the railway company to evade their statutory obligations. He wished to read a passage with reference to the proposal that the company should be allowed to evade its obligations of constructing this line between Cork and Fermoy. On this subject the present Leader of the Opposition had said—As to the Question on the Paper, there is no doubt that the company are obliged to construct the line from Cork to Fermoy, and the Treasury neither have the power, nor would they exercise it if they did possess it, of sanctioning any escape from their Parliamentary obligations.His hon. friend had read some extracts used by the right hon. Gentleman on a subsequent occasion, and he had also referred to the language used by the Gentleman who was then the Chairman of the Hybrid Committee. The then First Lord of the Treasury on July 21st, 1901, said—His opinion was that once a railway came before a Committee in that House and got a Bill for value received it ought to carry out its obligations. It might be that the obligations ought not in the interests of Ireland to have been entered into. It might be that the money to be spent, on this line had much better be 1218 Spent in carrying out other railway works in the south or west of Ireland—on that point he did not offer an opinion, although he was inclined to the opinion that the money might be better spent. But that did not alter the fact that a bargain had been made before two Committees and that it was in consequence of that bargain that the railway company obtained from the House the privileges which it now enjoyed. They must distinguish that from the question of expediency, and he thought the railway company were bound to carry out the bargain into which they had entered.''If this Bill were passed in its present form they would be rewarding the company for having broken their pledges to Parliament. He begged to second the Motion of his hon. friend.
To leave out from the word 'That,' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words 'this House, in view of the fact that by The Fishguard and Rosslare Railways and Harbours Act, 1898, the Great Western Company and the Great Southern and Western Company undertook the obligation to construct similar works to those proposed by this Bill, declines to proceed with the Bill, on the ground that these companies are seeking by it to evade compliance with their said undertaking to Parliament and are also in default as regards the further obligation to construct a line from Fermoy to Dunkettle which they accepted under the said Act of 1898."— (Mr. O'Shee)—intead thereof—
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ *MR. HUGH LAW (Donegal, W.)
said that as a Member of the Committee that considered this Bill he desired to say a few words upon it. He had very great sympathy with some of the remarks which had fallen from his hon. friends. He had thought all along that failure to fulfil the obligations placed upon them by Committees of this House, and of the House of Lords, on the part of the great railway companies, was a very serious matter indeed. His hon. friend had said that if they were to pass this Bill in its present form they should be enabling these companies to evade their obligations. He wished to point out that with respect to the £25,000 which was to be given as a Treasury grant, there was nothing about it in the Bill. The Committee had not to consider 1219 that condition at all. What they had to consider was this. It had long been felt and generally recognised that some linking up of the railways running into Cork was in the interest of the whole of the south of Ireland. Parliament itself, at the very time that it imposed the obligation which had been spoken of, viz., the construction of the Fermoy line, laid upon the railway companies a second obligation also, namely, that, as soon as they could secure the support of the local bodies, they should bridge the Lee. This Parliament had already declared that, subject to a satisfactory scheme being produced, this work should be carried out. The question the Committee had to consider was whether the scheme placed before them was a proper scheme. Proposals of one kind or another had been brought up year after year for a number of years, but for the first time the scheme had obtained what was contemplated by Parliament—the concurrence, sanction, and approval of all the local bodies. In view of that fact the Committee had felt that they could not refuse to pass the Bill. As to the outstanding question as to the allocation of the £93,000, he had never expressed, and he did not desire to express, any opinion, because the matter, important as it was, was one for the Treasury. He had no doubt that his hon. friend the Secretary of the Treasury would not have given his consent to any such grant of public money without a very good case being made out, but as he was quite capable of defending himself, he did not wish to say anything more on that aspect of the question. He had confined himself to what the Committee conceived to be the proper course to take in the interest of the whole of the south of Ireland. The financial question as between the different companies and the Treasury was not within their purview at all.
§ MR. WILLIAM O'BRIEN (Cork)
said that after the statement to which the House had listened from the hon. Member for West Donegal, who was an active Member of the Committee, he hoped the hon. Gentlemen who had brought forward the Motion would not consider it 1220 their duty to continue their opposition to the Bill. When the three Bills—all of which proposed to bridge the river Lee—came before the House for Second Reading he thought it was agreed on all sides that they should go on the same footing before the Committee upstairs, and that the Bill which stood the test of the Committee's investigation, should be accepted. That investigation had taken place, and the promoters of the measures had been heard by the Committee. It was no fault of the supporters of this Bill that a portion of the scheme was withdrawn. It was no fault of theirs that the full history of the transaction was not placed before the Committee. What he repeated was that it was perfectly certain that the true history of the scheme for bridging the river Lee was before the Committee. As his hon. friend had mentioned, that was an essential portion of the scheme, and with a full knowledge of the facts before them the Committee came to their decision, and he would really put it to hon. Members whether they seriously proposed to reject the decision of the Committee after a casual conversation in this House, and by the votes of Gentlemen who could not be expected to have any knowledge of the merits of this transaction. The hon. Member for West Waterford had said that the Bill was presented to the House by private promoters. He had himself acknowledged that this Bill had the united consent and concurrence of every great representative body in the south of Ireland and in the City of Cork. These bodies represented fully 500,000 people. It was supported by the Corporation of Cork, as the hon. Member said, for the first time, Why? Because it was the first scheme which would satisfy them. It was in the interests of the harbour of Cork, and it was supported by the Harbour Commissioners, who had made a contribution of £10,000 towards the expense of the project. It was supported in addition by the County Council of Cork. All the large bodies were absolutely agreed with the representatives of the city that this matter was of vast importance to the interests of the south of Ireland. The project this year was wholly different 1221 from previous proposals. This year a local contribution of £25,000 was to be subscribed for the project which would cost just half the money or less. How was it possible, if they were to have any respect for Irish public opinion and the decisions of the representatives of the Irish people, for hon. Members who were opposing this Bill to reconcile their action with that position and to ask this House, consisting of people who could not be acquainted with the merits of the transaction, to come in and by their votes over-ride the unanimous decision of the three great local representative bodies, and thereby put the promoters to all the heavy expense which the loss of this Bill would involve? He hoped that on reconsideration hon. Members would not think it their duty to carry their opposition to the Bill any further. He hoped they would not consider it disrespectful if he did not think it worth while to go over again the old story stated by the hon. Member. The hon. Member for West Donegal had pointed out that the opposition of the hon. Member for West Waterford, based on the £25,000 grant, was from beginning to end irrelevant and out of order.
§ MR. O'SHEE
said his case against the Bill was not based on the contribution. He objected to it because of the treatment given to the Great Western Railway Company of England and the Great Southern and Western Railway Company.
§ MR. WILLIAM O'BRIEN
pointed out that this Bill did not contain a word from begining to end with reference to the grant of £25,000. That was a matter dependent wholly on the Treasury themselves in their dealings with the promoters of the Bill. The Secretary of the Treasury had merely, so far as he understood, confirmed the agreement that was come to last year by the late Government with the universal assent of all parties, and on the strength of which £33,000 had been already allocated to the perfectly proper purpose of the bridge. If that arrangement was to be challenged, let it be done at the right time on the Estimates, when the salary of the Secretary of the Treasury was under consideration. He was quite sure that the hon. Gentleman was perfectly able to give his own view of the matter, but let it not be done on a chance occasion of this kind. By re- 1222 jecting this Bill they would not be punishing the Great Western Railway Company of England, but they would be punishing 500,000 people in the south of Ireland.
§ MR. WILLIAM O'BRIEN
said he fancied that the hon. Member by his wild interruptions was supporting his arguments considerably better than he was in a position to do himself. If the hon. Member impugned the decision of the Secretary of the Treasury, let him raise the question on the hon. Gentleman's salary, and let it be discussed then. Let the House not attempt to make itself the instrument of what would be a most wanton and cruel wrong to the community in the south of Ireland. It was not too late to appeal to hon. Members. It was perfectly fair that within certain limits they should state their views. If next year or the year after the promoters of the other proposals produced a scheme of their own giving the promise of an alternative route to England, the people of Cork would be most happy to back them up, because they were sufferers from the want of an alternative route. Under these circumstances he hoped that not many Irish Members would be found to push their opposition to the Bill. He respectfully appealed to British Members of the House to respect the decisiont he Committee had come to and not to allow themselves to fly in the face of the decision of all local authorities.
§ THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY (Mr. MCKENNA,) Monmouthshire, N.
said he did not complain of a single utterance of the hon. Member for West Waterford, nor did he fail to appreciate that he was labouring under a sense of injustice. He felt that the undertaking by the railway company should have been carried out. Its obligations had not been implemented and he felt very strongly upon the subject.
§ MR. WILLIAM O'BRIEN
What I said was that Cork did not press the railway company to carry out its obligations.
§ MR. MCKENNA
said that when the railway company in 1898 entered into certain obligations it was a condition 1223 that the Treasury should give to the railway company £93,000, and upon the railway company failing to carry out its obligations the Treasury should receive the money back. The hon. Member for East Cork took a somewhat different line. He objected to the advance of that money not merely because the railway companies were under an obligation to build that or some other similar railway, but because he considered the £93,000 was allocated to the county of Waterford. It had not been alleged that the present scheme was not a good one; no one disputed that it was in the interests of the whole of Ireland. He was sure any Member would agree that it was most desirable that the railway should be built. Whilst he quite understood the feelings which prompted the remarks of the hon. Member for West Waterford, he hoped he would not press the question to a division. In defending the action of the Treasury in proposing to give the £25,000 he was afraid he would have to take up a ground which to hon. Members for England, Scotland, and Wales would hardly seem to be justified. In 1872 and 1873 the Acts for the building of the Waterford, Dungarven and Lismore Railway were granted to the company, which had a capital of £180,000. It was a Waterford county scheme. The Waterford county proposed to find the capital and they made a bad bargain. In 1878 the railway was built, but it did not pay. The Waterford county wished to exercise its borrowing powers and asked the Treasury to advance £93,000 upon mortgage. This was done, but not one shilling of principal or interest did the Treasury get back for 20 years. In 1898, however, a now Act was granted to the Fishguard and Rosslare Railway Company, and under that Act the company agreed to repay to the Treasury the £93,000 and to take over the Waterford, Dungarven and Lismore Railway. This was done, and on strictly accurate and justifiable lines the money should have come back into the British Treasury for use in any 1224 part of the country. The Treasury, however, did not do that; they looked upon the repayment of the money in the light of a windfall, and decided to allocate it for the development of communication in the south of Ireland. This was the view the Treasury took upon the matter, and the view they intended to go upon. Waterford, however, claimed that the money should be wholly used for the benefit of their own county. It had been represented to the Treasury that two urgently desirable objects for the spending of that money were a bridge in the city of Waterford and the linking up of the means of communication with the city of Cork, Accordingly, the sum of £33,000 was earmarked for the former purpose, and £63,000 for the latter. These schemes were now under consideration, and it would not be reasonable for the Treasury to go back upon its undertaking. He would ask the hon. Member for West Waterford, therefore, to look at the question in the broad light of the interests of the south of Ireland. It was their only chance of carrying out the two schemes for Waterford and Cork. He asked the House to allow the Bill to go through without further opposition.
§ *MR. JOHN O'CONNOR (Kildare, N.)
protested against the language of his hon. friend the Member for Cork who said that the opponents of the Bill desired to do wanton injustice to 500,000 people. They had, no intention of inflicting injustice upon anybody, still less upon their own countrymen. They were only doing what they conceived to be their duty. He was strongly in favour of the linking up of railways on the south and north sides of the river Dee, and had done his best to promote that object. The Financial Secretary of the Treasury had omitted to state that there was a first charge on the debt of the railway on the part of the county and city of Waterford to the extent of £294,000. He also omitted to allude to the £93,000 which his predecessor, the 1225 late Mr. Hanbury, had earmarked for certain purposes in the event of two conditions being fulfilled. One was the object which was sought to be carried out by this Bill, viz., that these lines should be linked up. They had no objection to that linking up, but the second condition was that a line should be made between Cork and Fermoy, and that condition was being violated. Both conditions should, however, be carried out. The linking up would connect the most picturesque parts of Ireland, and also put those parts in connection with London, but that linking up was not all that was required. His hon. friend had said that this line was being made with the consent and at the request of the local bodies. But the corporation of Cork did not propose to spend one penny upon it, and neither did the Cork County Council. A permissive clause had boon inserted enabling the Harbour Board to subscribe £10,000, but according to a Resolution which that Board had unanimously agreed to they had said that they would not subscribe a penny towards the Cork City Railway and Works Bill. It was said that £25,000 was going to be subscribed locally, and this appeared to consist of the £10,000 he had already alluded to, and £15,000 it was said would be provided by the Cork and Bandon Railway. The hon. and learned Member having quoted from the Cork Examiner of August 10th, 1905, and February 15th, 1906, to show that it was impossible for the Cork and Bandon Railway to raise the £15,000 which they were relied upon to raise said the chairman of the Committee, who knew a great deal about these railway matters in the south of Ireland, served upon the committee which rejected the original scheme which put the railway system of the south of Ireland into the dead hand of these united companies. It was a case of mortmain. These companies could do as they pleased, and all the evils pointed out by those who were opposed to the amalgamation had since been realised by the unfortunate south of Ireland. He opposed this scheme because it was rotten in it- 1226 self, and while he opposed it he knew very well the duty would devolve upon him for suggesting some alternative, and he sincerely hoped he should be able to suggest an alternative which would be agreeable to the House. With regard to the Bill which would connect Cork and Waterford, and Cork and Dublin, the Committee held that the preamble was not proved. That was the Bill which would have connected Cork and Waterford, and would have given the people of Cork and Waterford a straight route to London and an alternative route to Dublin, and the people of America a direct route to London. Having dealt with the question of local bodies and the question of finance he thought that there were two questions of a vital character so far as this Bill was concerned, having regard to the nature of the support given by the local authorities. That was not such a whole-hearted support, unbacked as it was by any contribution on their part. It was not such a support as could be relied upon. He had dealt with the finances which must, he thought, also be regarded as unsatisfactory by the Secretary to the Treasury himself, because the hon. Gentleman did not know the things which he had revealed to the House. The Chairman of the Committee did not know the things he had revealed to the House. He had not read the Resolution and the Minutes of the Harbour Board, and therefore he was justified in asking this House to go back on the decision of the Committee. There was no one in that House who respected the decisions of Committees more than he did. They were decisions arrived at after discussion, and the best conclusions were come to that could be obtained. But there were cases when a Committee did not have before them all the information necessary to arrive at a correct conclusion, and he suggested that this was one of those cases. He did not wish to impeach the decisions of the Committee. He had sat on Committees and he respected them as highly as any man in this House. As he 1227 began so he would conclude, by saying that they were not inimical to the carrying out of some such scheme as this. He had endeavoured to show that there were two conditions attached to the giving of this money, namely, a linking up of these lines and the making of a direct route to Cork connecting it with the Fishguard and Rosslare line. As between Fermoy and Cork itself, the people now had to go right round two sides of a triangle. The object of the Committee was to make a line on the third side of the triangle and by that connect the two points together. That would bring them into direct communication with a line between Cork and Rosslare. He asked the House to reject this project. He asked them to think of it not from a local but from a universal point of view. He was aware that there were people considering at the present moment rapid transit between North America and the South of Ireland. There were schemes in contemplation which would bring the two nearest points of the Eastern and Western hemispheres together. There were means contemplated by a service of rapid vessels between the nearest points of Canada and Ireland to bring them closer together. He believed it would be possible to make the voyage across the Atlantic by means of large turbine boats in three or four days. There was in the south of Ireland a safe and good harbour capable of holding the defensive as well as the offensive fleets of the manœuvres. Even at low water there was a depth of fifty feet. It was the nearest point to America, and a passenger leaving America could travel as the crow flies straight to London if the proposed connection at Cork with the Rosslare and Fishguard route were made. But it was also necessary that a connection should be made between Cork and Waterford in 1228 the manner he had described; therefore he asked his friends to drop this Bill and make way for the promotion of a scheme that would connect the counties of Cork and Waterford. He was empowered to say that if the promoters of this Bill were not willing to introduce next year a measure comprehending the two conditions he had alluded to, he knew those who had the capacity, the ability, and the willingness to put up a sufficient amount of capital, with the aid and assistance of the Treasury, who would be asked to give them, not the £25,000, but the whole £60,000, to carry out the entire scheme of linking up the railways that it was now sought to link up, and to make the connection he had suggested. It was no empty proposal on his part. He believed that those who promoted the Bill that was thrown out by the Committee this year were capable of carrying out such a scheme. He had, therefore, authority for saying that if the Treasury would give them the whole £60,000, they would link up the railways so as to make a connection between Cork and Waterford that would satisfy the Waterford people and meet the requirements of the whole case. It would develop the tourist traffic of the south of Ireland, and give an alternative route to Dublin for which the people of the south of Ireland had been long anxious, and of which these petty schemes prevented the accomplishment.
§ MR. ASHTON (Bedfordshire, Luton)
, as Chairman of the Committee which dealt with the Bill, desired to say a few words. A great deal of the opposition was on the ground of the Treasury making a grant of £25,000 instead of applying it in other ways. He thought it had been sufficiently shown that the money would be very wisely given by the 1229 Treasury to this purpose. It was strongly put before the Committee that unless that money was furnished, at least so far as the Great Western Bill was concerned, this railway would certainly not be made at the present time. The evidence before the Committee went to show that for the benefit of the south and west of Ireland the railway should be made immediately, and that weighed very largely with the Committee in the conclusions to which they came. They came to the conclusion to pass this Bill absolutely unanimously and he hoped the House would take note of that fact. He was bound to say one or two words as to the speech that had just been made by the hon. Member for North Kildare. It dealt mainly with the financial aspect of the Bill. He had some little knowledge of finance and he had also some little knowledge of the finance of Bills that had come before this House, and in his experience he did not think he had ever seen a Bill passed that shewed better finance than the measure under discussion. The hon. Member had sought to throw doubt upon those who had made promises of money for carrying out their bargain. There were such things upstairs as Parliamentary bargains and they knew that railways were very much averse to going outside those Parliamentary bargains, and he thought at the present moment,
§ knowing the feeling of hon. Members below the gangway opposite, the Great Western Railway, at any rate, would be very careful in carrying out its Parliamentary bargain. They had so far as they could have the assurance that the money would be found, and if the money were found by the two railways and by the Treasury the thing would be seen through. He had never met with sounder finance. But supposing these two railways did not carry out their bargain as the hon. Member suggested, what was the worst that could happen? That the Treasury would not find the £25,000 and the scheme would come to an end; but from the evidence given to the Committee he felt morally certain that that scheme would be carried out. In the interests of all concerned, all he could say to the House was that they gave a very long and very careful consideration to all the evidence for and against this Bill, and the Cork Link Bill, and they were unanimous in their conclusion. They believed that the scheme was a good one and could be carried out and that its finance was sound. Therefore he asked the House to support the Committee.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 196 Noes, 29. (Division List No. 122.)1231
|Abraham, William (Cork. N.E.)||Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Brace, William|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Beale, W. P.||Bramsdon, T. A.|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Beauchamp, E.||Brigg, John|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major||Beaumont, W. C. B. (Hexham)||Brodie, H. C.|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Beck, A. Cecil||Brunner, J.F.L.(Lancs., Leigh)|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Bell, Richard||Burns, Rt. Hon. John|
|Baker, Joseph A.(Finsbury, E.)||Benn, John Williams (Devonp'rt||Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Balcarres, Lord||Bignold, Sir Arthur||Buxton, Rt. Hn. Sydney Charles|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Billson, Alfred||Cairns, Thomas|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Black, Alexander Wm. (Banff)||Carlile, E. Hildred|
|Baring, Hon. Guy (Winchester)||Boland, John||Cave, George|
|Barlow, John Emmott (Somerset||Bolton, T.D.(Derbyshire, N.E.)||Cavendish, Rt. Hon. Victor C.W.|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Bottomley, Horatio||Cheetham, John Frederick|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Boyle, Sir Edward||Clarke, C. Goddard|
|Cleland, J. W.||Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|Clough, W.||Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.)||Rowlands, J.|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Kearley, Hudson E.||Runciman, Walter|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Kekewich, Sir George||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Kennaway, Rt.Hon.Sir JohnH.||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Courthope, G. Loyd||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Scott, A.H.(Ashton-under-Lyne|
|Cowan, W. H.||Laidlew, Robert||Sears, J. E.|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Lamont, Norman||Seddon, J.|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Shackleton, David James|
|Cremer, William Randal||Lewis, John Herbert||Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick B.)|
|Crombie, John. William||Lough, Thomas||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Cross, Alexander||Lupton, Arnold||Simon, John Allsebrook|
|Dairymple, Viscount||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John|
|Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Macdonald, J.M.(Falkrik B'ghs||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Davies, W. (Howell Bristol, S.||Maclver, David (Liverpool)||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Mackarness, Frederic C.||Spicer, Albert|
|Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.)||Macpherson, J. T.||Stewart, Halley (Grecnock)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||M'Callum, John M.||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Duckworth, James||M'Crae, George||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||M'Kenna, Reginald||Sullivan, Donal|
|Duncan, Robert (Lanark, Govan||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||M'Micking, Major G.||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Maddison, Frederick||Thompson, J. W. H.(Somerset, E.|
|Elibank, Master of||Marnham, F. J.||Thomson, W. Mitchell-(Lanark)|
|Erskine, David C.||Massie, J.||Toulmin, George|
|Eve, Harry Trelawney||Menzies, Walter||Ure, Alexander|
|Ferens, T. R.||Molteno, Percy Alport||Valentia, Viscount|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro||Mond, A.||Walton, Sir John L.(Leeds, S.)|
|Fiennes, Hon. Eustace||Morrell, Philip||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent)|
|Fletcher, J. S.||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Murphy, John||Wason, John'Cathcart (Orkney|
|Foster, Rt, Hon. Sir Walt r||Murray, James||Watt, H. Anderson|
|Fullerton, Hugh||Napier, T. B.||Weir, James Galloway|
|Gilhooly, James||Nicholls George||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Gill, A. H.||Nicholson, Charles N.(Doncaster||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)|
|Gulland, John W.||Norman, Henry||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Hall, Frederick||Nuttall, Harry||Whiteley, George (York, W.R.)|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis||O'Brien, William (Cork)||Whitely, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Harmsworth, Cecil B.(Worc'r.)||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)||Wiles, Thomas|
|Harmsworth, R.L.(Caithn'ss-sh||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon.N||Wilkie, Alexandir|
|Hedges, A. Paget||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens||Williamson, A.(Elgin and Nairn|
|Helme, Norval Watson||Pease, HerbertPike(Darlington||Wilson. J. W. (Woruestersh. N.)|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)||Wood, T. M' Kinnon|
|Henderson, J. M.(Aberdeen, W.||Pirie, Duncan V.||Woodhouse, SirJ T(Huddersf'd|
|Higham, John Sharp||Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central)||Wortley, Rt, Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Hills, J. W.||Rainy, A. Rolland||Younger, George|
|Hooper, A. G.||Redmond, John E. (Waterford|
|Horniman, Emslie John||Redmond, William (Clare)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Sheehan and Mr. Essex.|
|Hyde, Clarendon||Rees, J. D.|
|Jardine, Sir J.||Renton, Major Leslie|
|Jenkins, J.||Richardson, A.|
|Corbett, CH.(Sussex, E. Grinst'd||Lundon, W.||O'Doherty, Philip|
|Delany, William||Mac Veagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)||O'Hare, Patrick|
|Dolan, Charles Joseph||MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.)||O'Mara, James|
|Edwards, Clement (Denbigh)||M'Hugh, Patrick A.||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Ginnell, L.||Meagher, Michael||Summerbell, T.|
|Halpin, J.||Mooney, J. J.||Wardle, George J.|
|Hazleton, Richard||Nolan, Joseph||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Hogan, Michael||O'Brien, Kendal(Tipperary Mid|
|Hudson, Walter||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. O'Shee and Mr. Power|
|Kennedy, Vincent Paul||O'Connor, James (Wicklow W.|
|Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill, as amended, considered; to be read the third time.