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way; and on this account all the vigilance of parliament was called for to guard against an abusive exercise of the power which from the very nature of things must be possessed by the Railway proprietors. Competition on a given Line was out of the question; and competing lines, in all cases a distant remedy, were viewed by me as affording at best, only a distant hope of relief from monopoly.

The history of our Metropolitan Water and Gas Companies had already afforded an instructive lesson on this point; and Mr. Hudson, at a much later period, (1844,) in his evidence before a Committee of the House, distinctly declared that it was out of the power of parliament to prevent a compromise between competing Railways. I was led by considerations such as these to doubt the possibility of remedying the evil, against which I wished to guard, by the concession of competing Lines. "The Railway from London to Liverpool," I observed, "will cost, probably, four or six millions sterling.* Suppose, now, that the speculation should turn out a profitable one, and that the shareholders realize a large dividend: it is plain that, under the circumstances of the case, it would be all but impossible to reduce it, or to lessen their charges upon the public, by bringing a rival establishment into the field for, first, the existing Company is in possession of the best Line; and, secondly, were it seriously intended to

In the infancy of Railways, no one dreamed of the possibility of their construction requiring anything like the amount of capital per mile which has since been expended. This was the very largest sum which it was then supposed could be required for the London and Birmingham Line: it is hardly necessary to remark that more than twice that sum has actually been expended.

form a rival establishment, the original Company would seek to deter them, by reducing their charges; and if, as is probable, they succeeded in this way in getting rid of the threatened competition, they might again raise their charges to the continued injury of the public. But suppose that in spite of all the difficulties opposed to the formation of a new Company, one is formed, obtains an Act, and actually comes into competition with the present Line; would not the obvious interest of both parties, unless prevented by some such precaution as that which I have proposed, inevitably bring about some understanding between them, by which the high charges would be further confirmed, and all chance of competition removed to a greater distance?"

With respect to Gas-works, Water-works, or other associations, the process by which the attempts of the public to bring down the prices charged by existing Companies by means of the erection of works of the same description under new Acts, had always been frustrated, was something like this:-When dissatisfaction with the charges of an old Company led to the formation of another, the dividend paid by the former was expected by the latter. To avoid competition, the old Company never failed to surrender to the new, part of a district; but in order to pay the same dividend, while the number of houses supplied by each was diminished, the per centage of expenditure was necessarily increased; and thus, instead of the public being supplied on lower terms than before, a rise invariably took place. It is now seen that the way to benefit the public, is not to seek to lower charges by competition, but by enforcing low charges, and

reserving the power of revision. The question, in all such cases, must be, without abandoning competition as a general principle,-By what means may the public advantage be best secured?

Besides the doubts which I entertained of the efficacy of competing Lines as a security to the public against an abusive exercise of monopoly, I objected to the construction of two Lines where one was sufficient for the public accommodation, as unnecessarily, and therefore wastefully, employing the capital of the country, and increasing the cost of that accommodation.

From the first the legislature acted with regard to Railways, on the assumption, which is at variance with all experience, that their construction and the mode of working them were susceptible of no improvement; and in fixing the rates of charge, lost sight of the consideration that the sum, which constituted a suitable remuneration one year, might be an extravagant remuneration in another. What I contended for was, that parliament should invariably reserve to itself the power to make periodical revisions of the rates of charge, always taking care to allow the proprietors an adequate return for original outlay and risk. To allow the proprietors of Railways to charge certain rates on all parties using them in all time to come, though the expenses of working might experience a continual diminution, and the traffic might increase a hundred or a thousandfold, was irreconcilable with every sound principle of legislation. According to Mr. Robert Stephenson, the expenses of working trains on the London and Birmingham Line, had fallen, in the course of only five or six years, from 6s. or 6s

and 6d., to from 3s. to 5s. per mile.*

But the reduction of the expense of working did not then cease, but is still going on.

The Americans had set us an example in the management of their public works by which we ought to have profited. The Erie Canal, one of the greatest undertakings in the world, which was completed in 1825, had, notwithstanding a progressive reduction of tolls, (in two years only, as much as 35 per cent,) accumulated a surplus of five millions of dollars, and in twelve years would have paid the whole cost of construction, and become a source of revenue to the state.

Such in substance were the views which, in 1836, I endeavoured to impress on the legislature. The proposition was well received by the House, and instead of moving the Resolution which I had proposed, I was called upon generally to move at once for leave to bring in a bill to effect the proposed object, which I accordingly did. The bill was brought in, and, as usual, was read a first time; but before the time of the second reading arrived, I found that doubts were entertained in high quarters as to the advisableness of interfering with new undertakings, by which capitalists might be deterred from embarking in them; and that I could look for no support where support was absolutely necessary to ensure success. It was objected, too, that the principle of interference with private enterprise was new in our legislation; that too much power would be placed in parliament; and that those who might otherwise be disposed to invest their money in

* Second Report, Railways Acts Enactments, Minutes of Evidence, p. 192.

Railways, would feel a repugnance to be so much in the hands of the House of Commons. Finally, it was said, that the measure I proposed was now of little importance, (an argument not altogether in keeping with the fears that it might place so much power in the hands of parliament,) and that it came too late!-The Liverpool and Manchester Line was already made; bills had passed for Lines to Bristol and Southampton. The Birmingham

Line, it was alleged, was in the course of construction; and it was impossible that any other Lines could pay. Finding that I could not expect that support, without which it would have been hopeless for me, as an independent member, to face the powerful interests which were already beginning to show themselves in favour of Railway speculations, I abandoned the bill. The Duke of Wellington, however, who has always been distinguished for strong good sense, the conscientiousness with which he examines every question that comes before him, and the manly sincerity with which he gives expression to his convictions, having turned his attention to Railways, became strongly impressed with the necessity of subjecting them to proper regulation; and moved and carried a Resolution in the House of Lords, reserving the power during the next session of parliament, to deal as it might seem advisable with the subject. The next session, however, passed without anything having been done towards remedying the evil; and as the Railway interest increased in strength in the sessions that followed, with the new bills that were constantly passed, the Companies began more and more to disclose the most ambitious views; till at length, from the difficulties with

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