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of and decisions on private bills, will, in all probability, remain unchanged. If such prove the fact, some service will have been rendered by the attempt here made to develope and describe the motives and doctrines which weigh with Parliament in its dealings with the railway and other private bills that come before it.

One thing, however, may be considered as certain and established beyond all doubt, viz. that the high court of Parliament, more than any other court, looks to the equity of the case in each particular instance. The judge abides by the letter of the law and by precedents. The committees, however, of both Houses, from the desire to do substantial justice, look more to the circumstances. Hence there never can be so established a code of Parliamentary ractice as of the practice of the courts of common law. This fact will serve as explanation of any difference that may arise, or has arisen respecting the decisions of the two Houses. It cannot be hoped to make all those decisions uniform and consistent. The leaning and tendency must be looked to more than the express judgment in each individual case. The ever-varying judges of the committees of both Houses of Parliament,

with their ever-varying sympathies, opinions, and feelings of high honour and attention to those who address them, must leave anything like specific declaration of the law and practice of private bills impossible. So far as they can be arrived at, careful description thereof has been attempted in these pages, and the volume is offered with these reservations to all persons connected with railway bills, or interested in their progress through the legislature.

To solicitors, who generally must be limitedly, if not wholly unacquainted with the practice of Parliament,-a subject which forms no part of their duty to study, for obtaining admission into the profession,-it is offered in the expectation that they may find in it all requisite information respecting conducting railway and other private bills through both Houses. The knowledge of law, and of those great elementary principles which govern the Courts of Equity, as well as those of common law, enables solicitors generally to form just conclusions on most questions that are submitted to them or come under their consideration. In a vast majority of cases, perhaps, they would, with no such work as this, not go far wrong. Still, if even a small proportion may be uncertain as to the law and practice of Parliament, it may be some use to that minority.

The resolutions adopted by both Houses, this session, for effecting changes in the mode of dealing with railway bills in Parliament,-changes rendered necessary by the unparalleled pressure of railway business this year, are included in this work; and their effect upon the practice pointed out. As those changes are, however, only of a temporary nature, to meet a temporary emergency (the resolutions being strictly limited to railway bills“ during the present session,") they have been stated and arranged in a separate chapter, as it was considered advisable not to embody the details of this temporary departure from accustomed practice in the description of the usual course of procedure in passing private bills through Parliament.

Before closing these preliminary remarks, the author has a pleasing duty to perform in acknowledging advice given him while preparing the following pages. W. S. Northhouse, Esq. (who, as a Parliamentary agent acquired great practical information upon such subjects) has rendered valuable aid by suggestions respecting important minutiæ of practice in both Houses. To J. A. Walmisley, Esq., also, like acknowledgments are due, for the promptitude with which he applied the results of many years' acquaintance with the forms of procedure in Parliament upon private bills, to secure accuracy in the details of the work.

Some explanation is requisite with regard to the second (and amended) plan inserted in this volume. The diagram that accompanies the official copies of the Standing Orders of both Houses was prepared in 1837, and has not since been altered, although numerous additional Standing Orders relative to the preparation of railway plans and sections have been adopted, almost every session. The official diagram, therefore, is no longer sufficient to show compliance with all the orders; and it was therefore deemed desirable by the author that an amended plan should be prepared. Diagram No. 2 is consequently added. It has been corrected and arranged for the work by a near relative, who besides being an engineer upon one of Mr. Brunel's lines in the west of England, has had considerable experience in the examination of deposited plans, and in the detection of non-compliances with the Standing Orders therein. It is presumed, therefore, that it will prove a valuable addition. The official plan is likewise given, for the satisfaction of those who desire to see the diagram as issued by authority of both Houses, with the latest edition of their Standing Orders.


With these observations, the present volume is committed to the press, in the hope that it may be found really practical and useful; not as a rival to other works that are already published on the subject, but to occupy (in many important particulars) ground not previously taken.

JAMES J. Scott.

The Cloisters, Temple.

March, 1846.

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