House of Commons Debate

10 March 1834

Lord Granville Somerset moved the second reading of the Western Rail-road Bill.

The Earl of Kerry, having been requested by the Great Western Railway Company to second the Motion for the Second Reading, would take that opportunity of stating the reason which induced him to support the measure. It was well known that Bristol was the great “entrepot” of the imports from Ireland, and in that respect the railway would be one of great national importance, for by it the best and most wholesome food would be obtained by the labouring classes of this great metropolis more cheaply. It would be of great advantage also to all the western counties, allowing their produce to be brought cheaper than at present to the London market. As to the objection that the advocates of the Bill were supporting a measure which had no body, but merely a head and a tail, it was one that had been argued a considerable time before the Committee. He admitted that it was so, but, in explanation of it he would beg to state how the speculation was got up. It only commenced last August; and every Gentleman who was acquainted with the proceedings must know that, before the end of October, notices were served upon all the persons whose property was likely to be affected by it, as it was necessary that the Company should order a survey of the whole line of the proposed Railway. The evil complained of, therefore, would be remedied in time. He considered this a great national undertaking, and he was sure that the grounds of opposition to it which he had heard frequently out of the House would have no weight in it. He regretted that some opposition was made to this Bill by a learned body, the Provost and Fellows of Eton College; but he had learned that the nearest point to the College at which the Railway touched was a mile and a half distant. Now the governors of Harrow and Rugby, within a quarter of a mile of the first of which the Birmingham Rail-road would pass, had not objected to that, nor did they think that the interests of those establishments would be affected by it. If there were any objections to be made to this Bill, he thought the proper time would be when it was in Committee. Out of 1,368 landowners on the proposed line of road, only 135 had expressed their dissent to it. He did not think it was necessary for him to add any more as he hoped that the House would agree to the Second Reading, and they would then have a full opportunity of discussing it in Committee.

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