§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
§ Mr. MILLS
I wish to put one or two points with reference to the rights of certain local authorities who exercise powers in land. The extension of a Bill of this character, giving to the company certain vested running rights over what 809 has hitherto been regarded as the rights of different councils, which I will name, of Haworth, Oakworth, Oxenhope, and Skipton, and the rural district councils of Keighley and Skipton. They are exercised in their minds with regard to the interpretation of the powers conferred upon the London, Midland and Scottish Railway, with regard to the prevention of the acquisition of rights of way over roads and footpaths on the property of the company. The Clause as it stands in the Bill provides that the exhibition of a notice by the company, stating that the way is a private road, shall be sufficient to prevent the public acquiring any right of way by prescription or user, and also to negative any presumption that the way has been dedicated to the public.
If we can get some guarantee that the rights of these councils will be recognised then my hon. Friends associated with me in this protest will refrain from any further opposition. I would like those responsible for this Bill to give us that assurance because great corporations which are in the habit of rushing through this House all the powers they desire are in the habit of treading underfoot the rights of minorities. In this case they happen to be the rights of small Yorkshire villages, and for these reasons I hope the promoters will see their way to meet these councils in this matter.
§ Viscount ELVEDEN
Some time ago the Southend and Tilbury Railway was taken over by the Midland Company under all sorts of solemn pledges which have never yet been dealt with. Although the promoters of this Bill have been in possession of the property, and had no doubt the takings of this railway for the last 12 months, they have not up to the present taken any steps to obtain powers to deal with the promises which they made 12 months ago. I would like to bring to the notice of the House these unpleasant facts because previously I have always spoken as a railway director. But I now associate myself with the position which has been taken up in regard to the neglect in carrying out promises which have been given.
I also know from inside and from the fact that I was associated with several Railway Bills in the Parliament before the last that railway officials have had enormous work to organise their staff, and bring before this House a proper measure 810 for dealing with a very complicated situation. I am aware that that takes a considerable amount of time. I do feel, however, that I am justified now in repeating that again they have pledged themselves on this matter to the position taken up by their predecessors. I have had another letter on this question, and the only thing I need read is the last paragraph, in which they reiterate that they are under obligations, that they have neglected them for many years, but that does not alter the fact that people are still coming up from these places standing in the railway carriages. The letter says:I am, however, authorised to say that the company will at the earliest possible moment, and under any circumstances by the end of the present year, formulate a scheme which may, of course, involve further application to Parliament, for carrying out the obligations of the company in regard to the improvement of the passenger service between London and Southend in the best possible way to the advantage of all concerned.(Signed) H. G. BURGESS.I am sure if they do relieve the difficulties of Southend, they will remedy the difficulties of the other districts which lie between Southend and the Metropolis I know it is a complicated question, and I appreciate that it is not made any simpler by the fact that there are various ways out. Unfortunately we have no power to deal with railway companies who obtain powers by false pretences. This would be serious if it went on for any length of time, and for these reasons I think Parliament should consider this matter very carefully.
§ Mr. HANNON
With regard to the points raised by the hon. Member for Dartford (Mr. Mills), I would like to say that I understand the representatives of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway have had conferences with the footpaths' association, and other bodies concerned in the social amenities of the districts affected, and that notice will be given to them of any change. An arrangement will be come to which will satisfy the quite reasonable objections which have been raised by the hon. Gentleman opposite. With regard to the observations which have been made by my Noble Friend the Member for Southend-on-Sea (Viscount Elveden), I would like to congratulate him on the energetic way in which he has looked after the interests 811 of his constituents in this matter. He has for a considerable time past taken a very active and wholesome interest, if I may say so, in improving the services to Southend, and, indeed, has been successful in doing something which does not very frequently fall to the lot of Members of this House, namely, in getting definite guarantees from a rail way company that the services shall be improved, and improved substantially, within a reasonable time. He has just read to the House an assurance on the part of the deputy general manager of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway, that, before the close of the present year, the Southend services shall be substantially improved. In this House, when railway Bills are before us, there is not, as a general rule, very much sympathy with the railways, but in this case it is gratifying to notice that every difficulty raised against this Bill in its earlier stages has been surmounted, and that the guarantee given by the railway authorities satisfies my Noble Friend who represents this important constituency. It was, of course, extremely difficult for the Midland Railway Company, which is now a constituent part of the new group, to carry out this scheme of electrification during the past 12 years. Criticisms have been levelled against the Company because they had been dilatory in giving effect to the undertakings which they gave when the Act of 1912 went through; but it must be remembered that Sir Guy Granet, whose position in the railway world is of outstanding importance—
§ Mr. HANNON
My hon. Friend, with his superior Scottish intelligence, will appreciate that. Sir Guy Granet took the opportunity at once to prepare a scheme for the electrification of this line. He appointed competent engineers to prepare a special report for his company, and, indeed, he did more—he went personally to the United States to study the electrification of railways in that country, taking with him his engineers, so that he might have the very latest knowledge of the most efficient systems of electrification as applied to the needs of this line. After this elaborate report had been prepared, and Sir Guy Granet, with his engineers, had returned to 812 England, the War broke out. Of course, the whole of our transport system at once came under the purview of the State, and it was impossible for the Midland or any other railway to carry out obligations of that kind during the War. When the War was over, we were at once confronted with the problem of the amalgamation of railways, which came very prominently before this House, and occupied the attention of two of its Committees for a considerable period during the Session before last. When the amalgamation was carried, through the various railway administrations had to turn their attention to the carrying out of the provisions of the Amalgamation Act. That occupied a considerable time, engaging the strenuous thought of the railway authorities for many months. Therefore, it has been impossible to carry out this scheme of electrification of the Southend Railway up to the present moment. We are told to-night by my Noble Friend, and I entirely endorse every word he has said, that, before the close of the current year, the London Midland and Scottish Rail way is pledged to formulate a scheme for the improvement of the transport facilities on the London, Tilbury and Southend line, and that scheme, I have it on the word of the assistant general manager himself, will be brought into operation without a moment's delay. He also gives me this undertaking, which I convey to the House, namely, that he is prepared himself, with certain prominent members of his staff—
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
May I ask whether the hon. Gentleman is speaking on behalf of the company, and is giving us a definite assurance?
§ Mr. HANNON
Yes, I am one of the promoters of this Bill, and, therefore, I am speaking now on behalf of the London Midland and Scottish Railway.
§ Mr. HANNON
I sit for a Division of Birmingham, and many of my constituents are interested in the London, Midland and Scottish Railway. As I was trying to convey to the House, the deputy general manager, Mr. Burgees—a distinguished railway servant, a man of lifelong experience of railway administration 813 in this country—proposes, with prominent members of the staff of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway, to visit Southend, I hope in company with the noble Lord, at an early date, and to meet the distinguished representatives of that interesting and progressive municipality, to discuss with them how the transport facilities on this line may be improved. I am confident that an assurance of that kind, coming from the responsible head of the London, Midland and Scottish administration, will satisfy the House that this Bill should receive a Second Reading.
I should like to add that the Bill in many of its provisions gives opportunities for the employment of a very large amount of labour in various districts. It gives opportunities of putting into work almost at once men who are now seeking employment, and, on that ground alone, I hope the Bill will commend itself to the House. No question will arise as to the necessity of the State financing or supporting the Bill in any way. The unexpired borrowing and capital powers of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway Company amount to the sum of £25,000,000, so that this great corporation will not have to come to the State or to any private lender to secure finances for this purpose. I hope the House will give a Second Reading to the Bill, firstly, because every single difficulty that has presented itself has been removed; secondly, because it will provide, in many districts of this country, opportunities of employment for people who are now out of work; thirdly, because it will improve in many cases the railway stations, access to the railways, facilities for transport, better accommodation for passengers and goods, and so forth; and, last but not least, because it will afford an opportunity to a great corporation of carrying out the undertakings in regard to improving the whole transport system of this country which were given on its behalf when the amalgamation act was carried into effect two years ago. The London, Midland and Scottish Railway has fulfilled every undertaking which was given during the progress of that Bill through Committee upstairs. The Noble Lord is the only one who can possibly cast doubt upon an assertion of that kind, but he, I think, will agree with me that 814 we can stand upon that statement. Therefore, with great confidence, I commend the Bill to the House for Second Reading.
§ Mr. HARDIE
I should like to make a few remarks on this Bill from personal experience, which, in itself, is always of first-rate value. Travelling about as I have been doing, and having experience of railways, I want to speak of the conditions of travelling between Crewe and Glasgow. When you get to Crewe at any time, you always find, when you leave a train coming from Wales, or one coming from London and going to Wales, that you have to wait until the officials about the station are able to pinch a carriage from one passenger train and a carriage from another in order to make up a train to go somewhere. All this, we have been told, has been due to a shortage of workmen, but here we have a shortage of rolling stock. On one occasion, as is well known to hon. Members of this House, it happened that I myself, when travelling from Crewe to Glasgow, had to stand in a corridor all the way, and, when I wrote drawing attention to this to their majesties the railway company's representatives, I got back letters that made one feel that, while it may be possible to approach the highest in this land, one could not presume to do so with the management of the L.M.S.
They have not been short of capital for carrying out the re-stocking that was necessary owing to the war. They got from the country's pocket all that they asked to go on with the replacement of the rolling stock that ought to be there. Crewe is a miserable place, to begin with, as a station, and it is much more miserable when it comes to the question of rolling stock. Five times within the last year I have had to travel from Crewe to Glasgow, and every time under difficulties, never once getting a seat at Crewe itself, but always having to wait till we were further down the line before I was able to obtain a seat. In the first instance, when I stood from Crewe to Glasgow, there were 64 persons standing in the corridor, breaking all the regulations we have in this country in regard to railways. When I tried to get this thing properly attended to, what happened? The men at the head of affairs made it plain to me that if I pressed the case, one of the under-paid ticket 815 collectors was going to get into trouble. I did not want to get a man into trouble, and I quitted from that point until to-night knowing that I should get an opportunity, and my opposition is not being withdrawn from the Bill.
I am going to go on with it. It is no use for the railway companies to put up a member of the F.B.I., or B.I.F., to tell us what the companies are going to do. We are not taking it at second hand. We are going to have it first hand. Then when you come to Glasgow it is here where you have the hard-headed sons of toil, the workers down the Clyde or at Bridgeton, who get into the underground trains in which there are no lamps, each carrying a ½d. candle in order to read the latest news in the papers. I hope that the representatives of the magnificent L.M.S. who are listening to-night will get some of this right down into their shoes that they may walk upon it and spread it out. When you ride to London from Glasgow, as we have to do, third class, there is never the slightest suggestion of doing the same as they do in other countries that we regard as not so highly civilised as we are. In other countries I have always been able to travel in a third class sleeper. We do not get that in the enlightened country called Britain. Why should that be? It is not a question in this case of saying the railways do not pay. Your railways have always paid handsomely on the active capital in them, but when the railways have obtained power from this House to water their stocks and bring 30 per cent. down to 15, 15 to 7½, and 7½ to 3¾ it is not a fair method. It is not a sportman's method. It is the method of swindle, first and last—nothing but a pure swindle.
§ Mr. HANNON
On a point of Order. Is the hon. Member entitled to describe railway companies as swindlers?
§ Mr. HARDIE
When an ordinary man puts a bob on a horse and loses, he does not expect the public to make it up. But here, these common swindlers, because it is on the Stock Exchange, men with frock coats and tile hats, who are supposed to be respectable and good, get 816 someone to pay £3 for a £1 share, and someone else to pay £5, and so on, and then the railway people say, "This is the actual capital of our company."
§ Mr. HARDIE
No, you cannot ask me a question. I want to give other objectors time to get their objections out, and I conclude with this, that the London, Midland and Scottish, so far as the Scottish side is concerned, has been taken advantage of by the English side, because I know that when the Scottish companies in the group have asked for their quota of rolling stock, they have been denied it, and not only have they been denied it, but the organisation, which has taken the place on the English side, is always working to the detriment of the Scottish, side, and till these things are put right, not through a Federation of British Industries but direct through the House, I will oppose the Bill.
§ Mr. TURNER
I cannot follow my hon. Friend in his assertion that England gets the advantage over Scotland, because England is very badly served in many respects by the famous London, Midland and Scottish. It has been my privilege at times to go to the most notable seaside resort in the world, namely, Blackpool, and I hope to go on many occasions still. The last time I was there, nearly a year ago, on a journey of over three hours, there was not a lavatory upon the train for the ordinary passengers. It seems to me that in journeys of that character they have to learn a bit more than they have learned in the days gone by. It seems to me that express trains running from Bradford to Liverpool, but staying at Manchester—I know it is only a short distance of 36 miles or thereabouts—ought to have corridors and not single compartments with no convenience or safety for the travelling public. The London, Midland and Scottish have absorbed a most notable railway called the Languid and Yawning. In my travelling throughout Yorkshire and Lancashire I have to use that notorious railway, and if you go to Skelmanthorpe or Penistoneor Holmfirth, or places round the Barnsley area, you will find that some of that stock is at least 50 years out of date. I remember the old Lancashire 817 and Yorkshire many years ago, when we had the uncushioned seats. I thought they had improved them a little bit when they had the rough cushions they have now, and when the great London, Midland and Scottish took it over, I thought we should see a vast improvement. I am hoping that they will promise an improvement and that those agencies just outside the House will convince my hon. Friends inside the House that something may be done in the direction of improving the rolling stock for the ordinary, patient, third-class travelling public. Of course, I can see vast numbers of first-class compartments nearly empty, and I can see in the early morning crowds of people—12, 13 or 14 folks—in room only suitable for eight or 10. Then I want to claim for women who travel in trains that there should be a few more compartments labelled "for ladies only." I know it will be said ladies will go into smoking compartments, and they do. It is the bad training of the men that has caused the women to get into the first coach they come to. But still there are now more enlightened women whom I see looking for "ladies only," and I trust there will be more than there are at present. I came from Manchester to Bradford the other day. There were some children, and there was no possibility of any comfort for them, because there was no corridor and no convenience. I think the company should be ashamed to delay it beyond the year 1924. Then I want to appeal to hon. Gentlemen opposite to insert a proviso making it secure that footpaths will be preserved where they are of prime importance to local people. I will take the hon. Member's pledge that they mean to do it, but I am a Yorkshire-man, and I want to see it in black and white, and I hope it will be put through.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I want to raise two serious objections to this Bill. In the first place, I wish to draw attention to what I regard as a serious flaw, and I desire the ruling of Mr. Speaker upon it. This is a Bill promoted by a railway company for definite purposes concerned with the running and the development of railways, and it contains a provision for the establishment by this private company of a savings bank. [Laughter.] Hon. Members laugh, but I am quite serious. I regard this as a great 818 departure, and one to which Mr. Speaker's attention ought to be called. It is remarkable that a railway company in a Bill for railway purposes should come to this House and ask for powers in connection with a savings bank. I have never known anything of the sort outside this House or in this House. I do not wish to place a railway company in a position more advantageous or less advantageous than that of any public authority, but I maintain that if a public authority came here with a Provisional Order for the development of tramways or gas and electricity undertakings, and dared to introduce Clauses for the establishment of municipal banks, this House would not allow the Bill to go through. I protest, and I shall carry the matter to a Division. In the first place, I wish to ask for Mr. Speaker's ruling whether it is in order, in a Bill for the development of railways, to insert a Clause for the establishment of a savings bank, which is not part of the running of the concern?
§ Mr. HANNON
Before you give your ruling upon the point of Order, Mr. Speaker, may I ask whether it is not a very proper function of a railway company or any other similar corporation to make provision in its statutes for the safeguarding of the savings of its employés and the encouragement of thrift?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Dealing with the point of Order, it is within the competence of the promoters of the Bill to make this proposal. It will be for the Committee on the Bill upstairs to say whether or not it should be passed.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I accept your ruling, Mr. Speaker, but at the same time I contend that no publicly-elected body would do this sort of thing. Can any hon. Member who has had experience of the work of a public authority say that such authority would come to this House with a Provisional Order dealing with the development of electricity, trams, or any other municipal undertaking, and, by a side-wind, try to get powers to establish a municipal bank?
§ Mr. HANNON
Surely the hon. Member would not compare the London, Midland and Scottish railway with a small corporation asking for powers?
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
With all due respect to the company for which the hon. Member 819 is speaking, I say that the Glasgow City Council is more efficiently managed and its undertakings are a greater credit to it than could be said of the undertakings of the London, Midland and Scottish railway. I am not going to say that a public body, democratically elected, should have less importance than a company of this kind. I have not come into this matter in any jocular fashion to-night. I take a serious view of this Bill, and I shall press my protest.
There is another point to which I take serious objection, and that is the part of the Bill which deals with constables and offences. In that part of the Bill, it is the intention of the company that any two justices shall have the power to swear in any particular man to be a constable. That is a grave departure, and hon. Members below the Gangway, who claim to be as keen as ourselves in defence of the rights and the liberty of the subject, ought to have noticed this. It is a terrible thing that it should be left to a Socialist from Glasgow to notice it. I protest against this infringement of the rights of the individual citizen in this Bill. I protest against any railway company having the right to get any two justices in a particular county—those two justices may be railway directors, and probably would be—to swear in men, who are to have the same standing, and the same rights as an ordinary constable serving under a municipality or under the Government. This Bill asks that the constables appointed by the railway company shall have the power to search, to arrest and to convey to a police station any person whom they suspect. Here is a business concern coming along and asking that two of their directors shall be able to swear in a constable who shall have the right to arrest and to search any other employé of the company or any other person on the premises of the railway, whom they may suspect.
I understood that this Bill was an agreed Bill, according to inquiries I made. I warn those who agree to a Measure of this kind against infringing the rights of citizens. This is one of the gravest infringements which I have known in any Bill. I protest in the most serious and emphatic fashion that any two men shall have the power, because they happen to be justices, and possibly directors of the 820 company, to appoint any man to be a constable, and that man shall have the power to search, arrest and convey to prison any person whom he may suspect. This Bill is an outrage on liberty. [Laughter.] Some hon. Members laugh. My constituents will be the people who will sufler, because it will not be the well-to-do who will be arrested. Under the guise of a railway Bill, this company are asking for powers of which they have never shown themselves to be worthy. I have yet to learn that this House has so far gone from democracy that it is prepared to give to any private company more rights and powers than they give to the local authorities. We never appoint constables in the fashion that is proposed in this Bill.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
Before we make any man a constable he has to serve a probationary period. He has to equip himself, and show himself fit, not to railway directors, but to a public body, after keen and careful scrutiny. I am not going to hand over to any Tom, Dick or Harry the right to arrest and search any constituent of mine. In asking for this power this Bill is one of the most serious attacks on the right of the individual citizen. I hope that Members on the Front bench who belong to my party will insist that this Clause be taken from the Bill. We heard a Member on the Front bench to-day telling us that a man must serve a probationary period before he becomes a constable, and if the Chief Constable thought he was not well enough equipped for the work he had the right to dismiss him at the end of the period of probation. Is the same Government going to give a contrary answer on this point now? This Clause must be dropped or else I will oppose the Bill.
The company is not worth the trust we are asked to repose in it. Some of us unfortunately have to leave Glasgow occasionally to come to London. It is said by some hon. Member behind me that we trust the railway company to take us. We do not trust the company; we trust its servants. Even in this respect the railway company has never given the service which it should give. The lack of accommodation in the trains going from Glasgow to London is a disgrace. There 821 is a minimum of 30 persons in a whole railway carriage, and the company provides two towels and a small piece of soap for 30 people who are going to make the journey from Glasgow to London. An ample supply of drinking water should be an essential on every passenger train, but the supply which is given is meagre, and the quality of the water supplied is a disgrace to any company of standing. Then the carriages are ill-ventilated. This Bill, apart from the condemnation which I have made regarding the Savings Bank and the policemen—
§ Mr. HANNON
May I interrupt my hon. Friend to point out that for over 20 years past this power of appointing constables, to safeguard the property and lives of the public, has been in existence, and that this is only a model clause to bring this Bill into conformity with existing Acts?
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
That is why my constituents beat the representatives of your party, because they want to change that. I cannot imagine any colleague of mine in the Labour party handing over to two justices of a county the right to swear in as a constable a man, appointed by the directors of a company, who is to have the right to search and convey to the police station on mere suspicion any person whom he thinks fit to arrest. I will divide the House before I let such an infringement of liberty be incorporated in a Bill which, at its best, is not worth the support of the House.
§ Colonel VAUGHAN-MORGAN
In regard to the remarks of the hon. Member who has just sat down, I think it has been pointed out already that the Clauses in this Bill dealing with the appointment of constables are no novelty in railway Bills, and that the purpose is simply to protect the public and their property while they are travelling over any system under the railway company. In making proper provision for a service of this kind the railway company are only discharging a duty to the public, and if they did not discharge it the hon. Member who has just sat down would be one of the first to criticise the directors, or those responsible for such important public institutions as a railway, and endeavour to bring them to book. In reference to the reasonable observations of the hon. Member for Batley (Mr. Turner) we must 822 all agree that the railway rolling stock at the present moment is neither adequate nor exists in the condition which we shall all desire. I would remind him, when he alluded to the railway which he described as the "languid and yawning," that there was another name applied to another railway which shows the result, if I may say so, of the investment of the money of private individuals in providing transport for the benefit of the public. I allude to the line which used to bear the nickname of the "Money Sunk and Lost Line."
One of the constituent elements of the London, Midland and Scottish system is the Midland Railway, and the Midland Railway, if my information is correct, was the pioneer in providing cushioned seats for third class passengers, which was regarded as a revolutionary movement at that time. But nowadays the quality of the cushions provided no longer satisfies the reasonable expectations of the public, and I think that the companies themselves, given the opportunity, will not fail to meet the requirements of the public and to improve their rolling stock both in quality and in quantity in accordance with the justifiable needs of the public, and, in regard to that, and in allusion particularly to the remarks of the hon Member for Springburn (Mr. Hardie), he will no doubt bear in mind that during the long years of the War, and a certain period afterwards, the railway companies were not only in no position to renew their rolling stock, but such stock as they had available was heavily drawn upon for the services of the armed forces. Enormous quantities were taken over to France. Consequently, the companies did play their part towards winning the War.
§ Mr. HARDIE
I quite acknowledge all that. I am talking of the period since the War, when men who could have built the carriages have been kept idle.
§ Colonel VAUGHAN-MORGAN
I accept that statement, but I was leading up to the situation of to-day, the difficulties of which were so largely contributed to by the period to which I have alluded. One of the companies has voted the expenditure of no less than £14,000,000 on the provision of rolling stock, locomotives and so forth. That is sufficient to show that they recognise the need for them. There is a need for this extra 823 rolling stock, and as opportunity serves the work will be carried out. Reference has been made by you, Sir, to the adage describing a characteristic disadvantage which applies to all corporate bodies, companies in particular. As the company cannot be directly represented in this House, I have endeavoured to put before hon. Members a few observations dictated by such knowledge as in mine in reference to eriticisms of the provisions of this Bill.
§ Mr. RHYS
As the representative of a constituency which is served by the Southend Branch of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway, I wish to associate myself with the Noble Lord the Member for Southend (Viscount Elveden). My constituency goes about half-way down the line, and includes Barking, which is a very crowded spot, with railway facilities that are totally inadequate. I was very glad to have the assurance of my hon. Friend that he is taking steps to get the railway company to carry out promises which have been made. The conditions under which the public travel on that line to-day are a danger to life and limb. I realise the great difficulty to be overcome on the regrouping of the railways, electrification, and so forth. I hope, however, that when the representatives of the company travel to Southend, they will travel on a train some time about six o'clock in the evening. I add my request to others that the railway company should do everything possible to mitigate the appalling conditions at the present time.
§ Mr. MARCH
I wish to say a few words that will bring hon. Members towards London a little nearer than Southend. There are such places as Canning Town, Custom House and Albert Docks, and I would like to invite any of the directors or supporters of this railway company to take a trip in the cattle trucks in which workmen travel to their work to earn the money for the company, and to put a little on one side in order to go to that salubrious spot known as Southend. I would also call the attention of the company to the fact that there is a roadway which runs down the Victoria Dock Road to the Victoria Docks. During the War D.O.R.A. stepped in and said that the railway companies could keep the gates 824 on that road closed for about 20 minutes at a time. The vehicular traffic is held up during that time for the convenience of the trains. Before the War it was no unusual thing to find the gates closed backwards and forwards in about five minutes, but now the vehicular traffic hat to be held up for the convenience of the trains of the railway company. When persons connected with the vehicular traffic communicated with the railway company, it was said that the arrangements would be altered. Up to the present that has not been done. I do not see any reason why the railway company, with the money available, should not build a bridge there for the traffic or trains to go over or under, so as to leave the roadway free for vehicular traffic, because, as the docks are extended, the vehicular traffic becomes greater weekly. Owing to the opening of the King George the Fifth Dock alongside the Albert Dock, the vehicular traffic is more congested than ever it was before. I hope the company will see that some better arrangement is made in the meantime, so that the gates referred to are opened and closed more promptly. Further, is there not a possibility of extending the line from Blackwall round Canning Town, picking up passengers there, takig them round the docks and the waterside, and linking them up with Barking. It would be a boon to the district, and might prove profiable to the company.
§ Mr. AUSTIN HOPKINSON
An hon. Member opposite objected very strongly to the savings bank Clause in the Bill. He was under a misapprehension in his objection. It is perfectly competent for myself, or any other employer of labour, to run a savings bank for the people we employ. This Clause had to be included in this Bill because it is not competent for a railway company to run a savings bank unless it gets direct Parliamentary sanction. If the hon. Member himself wishes to run a savings bank, he can do so. The only persons debarred are represented by the public company in the position of a railway company. But for this Clause railway company's employés would lose the advantage of having the savings bank which they desire.
§ The MINISTER of TRANSPORT (Mr. Gosling)
I am sorry that I was not in the House when this discussion arose, 825 but I understood there was not going to be any opposition to the Bill.
§ Mr. GOSLING
I am stating what I understood to be the case. I think a Bill of this magnitude ought not to be prevented from taking its Second Reading. I shall have to report on this Bill and I will undertake that the three points which have been particularly raised shall have my very serious consideration and attention.
§ Mr. GOSLING
I will do whatever I can in the best interests of all parties concerned, and I cannot say more than that. I hope the House will agree to the Second Reading.
Mr. T. WILLIAMS
I wish to mention one particular Clause which seems to require careful consideration before it is embodied in an Act of Parliament. I refer to Clause 42, which states:The company shall have power, and shall be deemed always to have had power to build houses, shops, chambers, flats, offices and other similar buildings on any land which has already been, or which may hereafter be acquired by the company, or over any station, railway, canal, etc.This is an extraordinary power to confer upon a railway company, since one of the previous Clauses permits them to erect as many houses for their workpeople as they may require. It appears that great possibilities may be opened up by this Clause, which may work out to the disadvantage of the travelling public. One can imagine a rapidly developing district in which a new branch line becomes necessary, and the railway company, instead of taking the branch line to where the people are resident, may deliberately divert it half a mile or a mile away and commence to erect buildings and shops themselves, and thereby create a value upon their particular line to the detriment of the public. Having regard to that possibility and to the possibility of the extension of this particular Clause so as to enable the company to become a competitor with municipal undertakings in such matters, for instance, as the supply of electricity, I think it requires very serious attention.
Mr. T. WILLIAMS
Like another hon. Member who has spoken and who is a Yorkshireman, I like to see these matters put into black and white, and I hope consideration will be given to this point.
§ Mr. GRAY
I desire to direct the Minister's attention to Clause 45. The hon. and gallant Member for Fulham (Colonel Vaughan-Morgan) rather overstated his case when he described this provision as being for the protection of the public. Clause 45, as I understand it, is for the protection of the railway company and not of the public. Any damages resulting from accident to life or limb or property represent a loss which falls, in substantially all cases, on the railway company and not on the public. Sub-section (2) of Clause 45 may follow a model form and may be in existing Acts, but it is an extremely dangerous one and the time has now arrived when it should receive careful attention from the Government. Although it is for the protection of the company, it is contrary to the general law of the land and it relieves people who are making a criminal allegation from the obligation which has existed from time immemorial of proving that allegation, while it throws upon the man against whom the allegation is made, and who is an employé, too, the very severe obligation of proving his own innocence.
§ The CHAIRMAN of WAYS and MEANS (Mr. Robert Young)
I hope it will be possible for the House to give a Second Reading to this Bill before half-past nine o'clock, otherwise it will be impossible to get the next Order, and, as a result, I shall have to come to the House again and take further Government time for the consideration of that Order.
§ Mr. SHORT
Having regard to the opposition raised to this Bill on several important points, we should have a more satisfactory statement from the Minister, beyond the mere assurance which he has given us. Failing that, we should have some indication of willingness on the part of those speaking for the company to meet at any rate some of the points which have been raised.
§ Mr. SHORT
We have had no expression of that kind upon the points raised by the hon. Member for Springburn (Mr. Buchanan), particularly that in connection with the savings banks. It is perfectly true that statutory powers must be obtained by the railway company in this connection and, personally, I understand that other railway companies make provision for savings banks particularly in connection with superannuation funds. I have no objection to this provision being incorporated in the present Bill, but I observe it is expected that the servants of the company will make deposits at these savings banks and, consequently, I think a provision should also be included in the Bill whereby depositors who are employees of the company should have representation upon the board or committee managing the undertaking. These provisions indicate that certain rules are to be drawn up to regulate the management and control of these banks and the rules will be drawn up by three directors and the secretary of the company, but there is no indication that the workpeople who become depositors are to have any representation in the management of this somewhat communal enterprise—that is communal inside a private undertaking. In connection with the superannuation funds, the railway companies arrange for the representation of the staff on the management body, and this matter ought not to escape the notice of the Minister. A great change has come over the outlook of the people of this country. We are not content to continue to give great powers to these big corporations by which, and through which, they are capable of making profit out of the interests of the community and by serving the needs of the community, unless the people concerned in these great undertakings bear a greater part in the control and in the management of these undertakings. The point I am making—and I venture to think it is an important point—is that there should be some provision made to that effect. There is nothing that will guarantee this representation, which I am seeking, in the Bill at the moment, but I do hope that my hon Friend, who is paying so much interest in the promotion of this Bill, will see to it that the workpeople, or those whose interests are involved in this matter, will secure that representation 828 and that measure of control which I am suggesting.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir J. NALL
The observations which have been made by various hon. Members opposite regarding rail services are very properly made in this House. I have had the opportunity of speaking to the promoters of the Bill since the Debate started, and they asked me to say that if those hon. Gentlemen who have raised these points to-night will be good enough to communicate with the general manager's office, they will be very glad.
§ Sir J. NALL
The general manager's office will be very glad if the hon. Gentlemen concerned will communicate those complaints direct to Euston.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
They take so little notice of a Scottish Member of Parliament that they never spend a ½d stamp on him.
§ Sir J. NALL
I am quite sure the House will sympathise with the hon. Member. All I am endeavouring to say now is this: Since the Debate arose to-night I have asked the promoters how it is that these complaints have to be raised in this House, and why they have not been adjusted otherwise. The answer is that they have no trace of these particular complaints.
§ Sir J. NALL
The hon. Gentleman misunderstands me. All I am endeavouring to say is this: These complaints have been made, and, as one who is interested in the Private Bills that go from this House, I have asked the promoters what they had to say about these complaints. The answer is, that if hon. Members who have personal knowledge of these matters will communicate—
§ Sir J. NALL
If they will do so again, the general manager will be glad to see them and go into these matters with a view to adjusting them. The other point is this, the company's workshops, as I well know, are fully employed. The 829 whole of the workshops' staffs are fully employed. The whole of their resources for renewing and repairing their rolling stock are fully employed, and they have let numerous contracts to rolling stock builders outside their own works. The whole of those facilities are being made full use of. There is no question of holding up work or of delaying work. If hon. Gentlemen will lay these complaints before the management, I am perfectly certain that these matters, ventilated as they very properly have been in this House, will be adjusted, and need not upset the Second Reading of what is really a very important Bill.
§ Question, "That the Bill be now read a Second time," put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a Second time, and referred to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills.