Hon. DAVID TISDALE (South Norfolk).
I presume that the hon. Minister of Railways and Canals (Hon. Mr. Blair) would not object to my stating what the proceedings were in relation to the last consolidation of the railway law in 1888. Sir. Pope was then Minister of Railways, and, if I remember well, Sir John A. Slacdonald was acting Minister of Justice, or, possibly, it may have been Sir John Thompson. The Minister of Railways and Canals and the Minister of Justice met at different times with the counsel of the railway companies; for, after all, while parliament controls all legislation, yet, there are none so largely interested in any proposed changes in railway laws as are the railway companies. A discussion, taken part in by the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Railways arid the representatives of the railway companies, would boil down, to use a common expression, all disputed points. As a matter of fact, the procedure followed in that case expedited the progress of the Bill very materially. This Bill is a great deal broader than that of 1888. That was simply a consolidation with certain amendments-quite numerous-and the introduction of the system of the Railway Committee of the Privy Council. The changes in the present Bill are not only in regard to the establishment of the Railway Commission itself, but that commission is given powers far beyond anything for which we have a precedent in our legislation. So, it seems to me, it would relieve the House a great deal and ensure more rapid progress if the minister would follow out some such plan as a preliminary step. Of course the Bill would have to come again into the Committee of the whole House to be fully considered here. Not only did the procedure in 1888 lessen the labour of dealing with the Bill, but the minister was in a position to give ns information as to any objections which had been raised, and he was able to refer to the Minister of Justice where necessary. It is true that the Bill of 1888 was not referred to a special committee. But it is also true that since that time we have generally sent amendments of the railway law to the Railway Committee. The scope of the present Bill is so large that I would not, for my
part, suggest its being sent to tbe Railway Committee, but I would suggest, that it would be well to consider sending it to a special committee, particularly, if the minister found it was going to take too much of his individual time. A special committee ol' twenty or twenty-five members could best deal with legislation of this sort involving many details and matters of great importance. This Bill is not a consolidation. I find, on reading it that it is not like the Bill presented by the minister last session. That was a consolidation but this is a new law, and, above all, it introduces the system of a railway commission and gives that commission far more extensive powers than the Railway Committee of the Privy Council ever had. I venture to suggest that better progress would be made, if the minister would agree that, in view of the importance of hearing railway authorities on the subject, this Bill should be sent to a special committee to be threshed out there. This would have the effect of lessening the labours of the Committee of the Whole. It was found in the case of the Criminal Code and of some other matters, that the work of a special committee greatly lessened the labours of the House, and when the Bill came into Committee of the Whole, it was found that the work had been much shortened by the labours of the special committee, assisted by the ministers, and reduced the time that the House found it necessary to give to the consideration of the Bill.