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Lamson 2-4-41



THE present state of Railway Bills and railway matters the uncertainty that prevails as to the law and practice thereon-the conflicting opinions among the leading counsel and chief journalsand the immense sums that are dependent upon sound legal and practical knowledge of the Standing Orders, principles and procedure of both Houses of Parliament, and of the decisions and usual course in committees on private bills, have elicited this work. It is impossible to overrate the anxiety that uncertainty upon these subjects occasions. Parliament itself being in nearly as much uncertainty, on various points, as the various persons who look to it as a guide and protector, an infallible standard can hardly yet be presented.


The last session produced many, and great and important alterations to meet, if possible, the changing phases which railway matters displayed. Some of those alterations are obviously wise and practical; others doubtful, until experience shall have tested their utility and appropriateness.

The House of Lords appears to have acted differently from the House of Commons, with regard to the great question of deposits; but the difference is more nominal than real, though in effect it will tend to much public convenience It has always been the practice of the formerthe peculiar conservators of the rights of property—to demand more ample and stringent proof of the means to meet the claims which

may be created by new works sought to be made, than was required by the Commons' House. Long before schemes appeared for the formation of railways their lordships had called for a larger proportion of the capital to be subscribed to the contracts for fulfilling the works proposed to be carried out under bills included in the second class, than the Commons demanded by their Standing Orders. Nor can this be deemed unwise or undesirable. Some months necessarily elapse before such bills arrive in the House of Lords; and, while it would be inexpedient to the general welfare to prevent great improvements taking place by insisting upon too large an amount in the first instance, it is just, before such works are absolutely engaged in or commenced, that protection should be given to those persons whose property may be taken in order to allow the scheme being carried out. Thus the Lords are the peculiar protectors by practice, if not principle, of existing interests.

Immense speculation, from the accumulation of wealth, resulting from good harvests, extended commerce, and national successes in China, and elsewhere, has taken place during the last year in railway projects. The monetary world is deeply involved. The sound and legitimate railways are as secure investments as either the funds or the land. Those who heretofore opposed them from a contrary opinion, have not only abated their hostility, but have become ardent advocates. The history of the Liverpool and Manchester line, with the opposition of powerful noblemen (referred to in another part of this work) testifies to the fact. This conviction has led to greater impulse for railways than was the previous resistance to them. Over


speculation has been the natural result. Much evil may exist in consequence; and, perhaps, a better remedy cannot be found than to make clear the Law and Practice of Parliament, so far as it can be known, concerning this new, immense, and permanent Power which has so recently sprung into existence.

It is with the view of in some degree clearing away the doubts and difficulties which might arise from a misconception of the Law and Practice of Parliament, that must govern this new power, the author has been induced to enter into this important subject. He does not presume-in fact he cannot expect—to meet every case which may arise. Circumstances have placed him professionally in the midst of many of those doubts and difficulties ; and, having been so positioned, he has felt that he should at least do no injury to the great mass of railway speculators, and those persons who may be interested in railways, by offering to them the result of his long-continued study upon, and attention to, the subject. In such a volume little can be the result of original thinking. If there be any merit, it is that of having marshalled the facts and the decisions.

The practice, as it at present obtains in Parlia


ment with respect to private bills, in cases not specifically provided for by the Standing Orders, is uncertain, irregular and perhaps to be created more by the talent of counsel, the partiality of the judges, the energy of the claimants, and the special facts, than by any great leading principles of law. If it be objected to the author that he has not met all the multifarious cases which are now arising, it may be answered that no decisions have hitherto been arrived at upon many of those cases.

It may, indeed, be asserted that the Law and Practice of Parliament, as to railways are not only in gloom and uncertainty, but in a transition state. All thai can be hoped is, that this work may be (in limited degree, and in a humble sense, indeed, is the comparison intended,) like Montesquieu's Esprit des Loix, an indication of the great leading principles of the subject upon which it treats, namely, the continually varying Law and Practice of Parliament. The details will be constantly altering, to meet new circumstances and to carry out the objects in the manner extended experience may seem to declare the best. Still the foundation, the fundamental principles which have hitherto guided and influenced both Houses in their treatment

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