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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 act, all the powers, rights, and au thority now vested in or exercised by the lords of the committee of her Majesty's Privy Council for Trade and Foreign Plantations, by virtue of the recited acts, or by any other act of Parliament, or otherwise howsoever, with respect to any railway or intended railway, shall be transferred to and vested in and exercised by the commissioners of railways, as fully as if they had been named in the said several acts of Parliament instead of the lords of the said committee; and all provisions of the said acts shall be deemed to apply to the said commissioners instead of the lords of the said committee; and all proceedings now pending before the lords of the said committee, or carried on under their authority, shall be continued and carried on by and before the said commissioners, who shall have and exercise the same powers, rights, and authority in respect of all such proceedings as if they had been originally commenced before the said commissioners."
Sect. 9, after reciting that in some cases railway companies have exceeded the powers given to them under the acts constituting them, or have otherwise acted contrary to the provisions of the said acts, or of the general acts for regulating railways, enacts, "That it shall be the duty of the said commissioners to prevent any such unlawful proceedings, by the exercise of any powers now vested in the lords of the said committee," (see post, 96).
Sec. 10 enacts, "That it shall be the duty of the said commissioners to
examine and report to Her Majesty and both Houses of Parliament upon any subject relating to any railway, or proposed railway, which shall be specially referred to them for their opinion by Her Majesty or by either House of Parliament; and in the case of any application to Parliament for any act for making or maintaining any railway, it shall be their duty, if so directed by Her Majesty or by the authority of either House of Parliament, to inquire and report, on local inspection or otherwise,
"Firstly, Whether there are any lines or schemes competing with the proposed railway:
"Secondly, Whether by such bill it is proposed to take powers for uniting with such railway, or proposed railway, any other railway or canal, or to purchase or lease any railway, canal, dock, road, or other public work, undertaking or easement :
"Thirdly, Whether by such bill it is proposed to constitute any branch railway, or any other work in connexion with the proposed railway:
Fourthly, Whether any plans, maps, and sections of any such proposed railway, which, pursuant to any order of either House of Parliament, shall have been deposited in their office, are correct, and if not, in what particulars and how far they are incorrect, and whether or not, in the opinion of the commissioners, such errors as they shall find are material to the object for which such plans and sections are required."
Sect. 11 enacts, "That, for the purposes aforesaid, the said commissioners shall be empowered, by themselves, or by such inspectors as they
and counteracting the evils incident to monopoly (b);” 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, nega
shall appoint for that purpose, to inspect and survey any proposed line of railway; and for the purposes of any such survey, they and their inspectors shall have all the powers which, under an act passed in the fifth year of the reign of Her Majesty, intituled An act to authorise and facilitate the Completion of a Survey of Great Britain, Berwick-upon-Tweed, and the Isle of Man,' (see this act, 4 & 5 Vict. c. 30, post, App., 226), any officers or persons appointed by or acting under the orders of the Master-General and Board of Ordnance have for the purpose of making and carrying on any survey authorised by the last-recited act; and all the provisions of the last-recited act in anywise relating to any such survey, shall be deemed to apply, so far as they are applicable, to any survey which may be directed by the said commissioners under this act, provided that all allowances and payments made under this act, of the same kind as those which by the lastrecited act are to be paid out of the aids granted by Parliament to Her Majesty on account of the Board of Ordnance, and also all other expenses incurred by the commissioners
in making such survey and inspection, shall be paid by the provisional committee or directors, or other persons who shall be the promoters of the said intended railway; and in case of nonpayment of the same in any case, the amount of such allowances, payments, and expenses shall be deemed a specialty debt due to Her Majesty from such committee-men, directors, and other persons, and each of them severally, and shall be sued for and recovered accordingly."
The act further provides, that an office shall be provided for the use of the commisioners, at or to which all notices and other documents shall be given or sent, which, at the time of the passing of that act, are by law required to be given or sent at or to the office of the Lords of the committee of the Board of Trade, (sect. 3); also for the appointment of officers, and the payment of their salaries, including salaries to the president, and two others of the commissioners (sects. 5 & 6); and the president and the two unpaid commissioners are not disqualified from sitting in Parliament, (sects. 7 & 8).
(b) Second Report, 1839.
tived 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.
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 pursue 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 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 them :