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that a Board would be required to superintend Railways, “ for the purpose of protecting the weak against the strong,
shall begin to act in execution of this examine and report to Her Majesty act, all the powers, rights, and au. and both Houses of Parliament upon thority now vested in or exercised by any subject relating to any railway, the lords of the committee of her or proposed railway, which shall be Majesty's Privy Council for Trade specially referred to them for their and Foreign Plantations, by virtue of opinion by Her Majesty or by either the recited acts, or by any other act House of Parliament; and in the of Parliament, or otherwise howso- case of any application to Parliament ever, with respect to any railway or for any act for making or maintain. intended railway, shall be transferred ing any railway, it shall be their duty, to and vested in and exercised by the if so directed by Her Majesty or by commissioners of railways, as fully as the authority of either House of Par. if they had been named in the said liament, to inquire and report, on several acts of Parliament instead of local inspection or otherwise, the lords of the said committee; and “Firstly, Whether there are any all provisions of the said acts shall be lines or schemes competing with the deemed to apply to the said commis. proposed railway : sioners instead of the lords of the “Secondly, Whether by such bill it said committee ; and all proceedings is proposed to take powers for uniting now pending before the lords of the with such railway, or proposed rail. said committee, or carried on under way, any other railway or canal, or to their authority, shall be continued purchase or lease any railway, canal, and carried on by and before the said dock, road, or other public work, un. commissioners, who shall have and dertaking or easement: exercise the same powers, rights, and Thirdly, Whether by such bill it authority in respect of all such pro- is proposed to constitute any branch ceedings as if they had been originally railway, or any other work in con. commenced before the said commis- nexion with the proposed railway : sioners."
“ Fourthly, Whether any plans, Sect. 9, after reciting that in some maps,and sections of any such proposed cases railway companies have exceed.
which, pursuant to any order ed the powers given to them under of either House of Parliament, shall the acts constituting them, or bave have been deposited in their office, are otherwise acted contrary to the pro- correct, and if not, in what particuvisions of the said acts, or of the lars and how far they are incorrect, general acts for regulating railways, and whether or not, in the opinion enacts, “That it shall be the duty of of the commissioners, such errors as the said commissioners to prevent they shall find are material to the ob. any such unlawful proceedings, by the ject for which such plans and sections exercise of any powers now vested in are required.” the lords of the said committee,” (see Sect. 11 enacts, “That, for the post, 96).
purposes aforesaid, the said commis. Sec. 10 enacts, “That it shall be sioners shall be empowered, by them. the duty of the said commissioners to selves, or by such inspectors as they
and counteracting the evils incident to monopoly (6);” but the Committee did not recommend that the proposed Board should interfere with Railway legislation.
In 1841, another Select Committee was appointed by the House of Commons, "to consider whether it was desirable for the public safety to vest a discretionary power of issuing regulations, for the prevention of accidents upon Railways, in the Board of Trade; and if so, under what conditions and limitations." The Committee, by their Report, negatived this proposition; and recommended that the Board of Trade should exercise their supervision of Railways in the way of suggestion, rather than of positive regulation,
sball appoint for that purpose, to in. in making such survey and inspection, spect and survey any proposed line shall be paid by the provisional comof railway; and for the purposes of any mittee or directors, or other persons such survey, they and their inspectors who shall be the promoters of the said shall have all the powers which, under intended railway; and in case of nonan act passed in the fifth year of the payment of the same in any case, the reign of Her Majesty, intituled • An amount of such allowances, payments, act to authorise and facilitate the and expenses shall be deemed a spe. Completion of a Survey of Great cialty debt due to Her Majesty from Britain, Berwick-upon-Tweed, and such committee-men, directors, and the Isle of Man,' (see this act, 4 & 5 other persons, and each of them seveVict. c. 30, post, App., 226), any rally, and shall be sued for and re. officers or persons appointed by or covered accordingly.” acting under the orders of the Mas. The act further provides, that an ter-General and Board of Ordnance office shall be provided for the use of have for the purpose of making and the commisioners, at or to which all carrying on any survey authorised notices and other documents shall be by the last-recited act; and all the given or sent, which, at the time of provisions of the last-recited act the passing of that act, are by law in anywise relating to any such sur- required to be given or sent at or to vey, shall be deemed to apply, so far
the office of the Lords of the commit. as they are applicable, to any sur- tee of the Board of Trade, (sect. 3); Tey which may be directed by the also for the appointment of officers, said commissioners under this act, and the payment of their salaries, inprovided that all allowances and pay. cluding salaries to the president, and ments made under this act, of the two others of the commissioners (sects. same kind as those which by the last- 5 & 6); and the president and the two recited act are to be paid out of the unpaid commissioners are not disaids granted by Parliament to Her qualified from sitting in Parliament, Majesty on account of the Board of (sects. 7 & 8). Ordnance, and also all other ex• (6) Second Report, 1839. penses incurred by the commissioners
The next Select Committee, appointed Feb. 5th, 1844, presented six Reports to the House of Commons, within the space of as many months, and the extensive statutory powers given to the Board of Trade, had their origin from the recommendations and suggestions made in these Reports. This Committee state, that they entered upon their inquiries with a strong prepossession against any general interference by the Government in the management and working of Railways, and that they had not seen cause to alter their first impressions upon that subject. But with regard to Railway legislation, they were convinced, that it was alike clear, from reasoning and from experience, that it should thenceforward be subjected to an habitual and effective supervision on the part of the Government.
In another part of the same Report, the Committee observe, “ that they were strongly of opinion, that the time had come when Parliament must weigh, and within certain limits decide upon, the policy to be pursued;" and they proceed to recommend “ that an efficient supervising power should be constituted on the part of the public, to assist the judgment of the Houses of Legislature, and that general principles should be laid down to guide its proceedings;" and, finally, they recommended that Railway bills should for the future be submitted to the Board of Trade previously to their coming under the notice of Parliament, with regard mainly to the following subjects :
1. All questions of public safety.
2. All departures from the ordinary usage of Railway legislation, on points where usage has been sufficiently established.
3. All provisions of magnitude which may be novel in their principle, or may involve extended considerations of public policy. For
example, amalgamations and agreements between separate companies; extensions of capital ; powers enabling the Railway companies to pursae purposes different in kind from those for which they were incorporated; modifications of the general law.
4. Branch and extension lines, in cases where, upon, the first aspect of the plan, a presumption is raised that the object of the scheme is to throw difficulties in the way of new, and probably legitimate enterprises.
5. New schemes, where the line taken presents a strong appearance of being such as to raise a presumption that it does not afford the best mode of communication between the termini, and of accommodating the local traffic.
6. Cases where a bill of inferior merits may be brought before Parliament, and where a preferable scheme is in bonâ fide contemplation, although not sufficiently forward to come simultaneously under the judgment of Parliament, according to its Standing Orders.
7. Any proposed arrangements with subsisting companies, which may appear as objections to new lines.
But the Committee stated it to be their opinion, that such Reports should on no account be regarded in any other light than as intended to afford to Parliament,-first, additional aid in the elucidation of the facts by the testimony of witnesses, competent by knowledge, habit, and opportunity, and officially responsible ; and, secondly, recommendations founded upon such elucidation :— that their purport should be, not in any case to give the absolute advice that a given Railway should be made, but to state whether or not there were public reasons, which ought, in the opinion of the department, to be decisive against it, or whether it ought to be postponed until its merits could be examined in connexion with those of some other scheme, or which of two or more contending schemes appeared preferable, in the event that only one should appear likely to receive the sanction of Parliament. And for the purpose of carrying these suggestions into effect, the Committee recommended that the Railway department of the Board of Trade should be enlarged, and its organisation improved,—and finally resolved, “ That it was expedient that all Railway Bills should thenceforward be submitted to the Board of Trade, previously to their introduction into Parliament; and that the various documents and other requisite information connected with each project, and, if necessary, copies of the plans and sections of the line, should be lodged at the Office of the Board of Trade."
The House of Commons adopted this resolution of the Committee, and, by various resolutions, subsequently embodied in the Standing Orders of both Houses of Parliament, it was required that the Board of Trade should be furnished with all necessary information to enable them to exercise their then intended supervision over projected Railway schemes. Thus, when a Report was made by the Board of Trade upon a Railway Bill, it was referred by the House to the Committee on the Bill; and the Committee were required to report specially, whether any Report from the Board of Trade had been received, and if so, whether their recommendations had been adopted or rejected. So, a copy of all plans and books of reference, and a copy of every bill, were directed to be deposited with the Board of Trade.
The result of the foregoing recommendations was, that, during the Session of 1845, the Board of Trade were required, or rather expected, to report upon the numerous and very important Railway schemes which came before Parliament in the course of that Session.
The following Treasury minute, bearing date the 6th of August, 1844, will explain, to some extent, the steps which the Board took to carry into effect the duties imposed upon