April 11, 1916 (12th Parliament, 6th Session)


George Perry Graham



Though it may be in the public interest to leave details to a board of that character, it is not in the public interest to allow the board to decide what shall be our policy with regard to the construction of a line of railway, and that is what is wrong with this clause. It gives the board more power than the minister ever had, and the minister is a member of the Government, and of the Railway Committee, which is guided by him to a large extent, more particularly oh matters of policy. The minister's powers have been limited to the location of the line, but this clause goes further and says that the board may refuse to allow the road to be built at all if it does not approve of the whole or of any portion. In other words, it is giving them power to say that Parliament did not know what it was talking about when it' granted charters. If these charters were perpetual, and Parliament had no power of revising them, there might be some reason for this clause; but under the Railway Act charters last only two years, at the end of which time, if construction has not begun, the company has to come to Parliament for an extension. It is a serious thing to empower a board to over-ride an Act of Parliament which has been deliberately passed by both Houses, and has undergone the careful scrutiny of a body such as the Railway Committee is. My view is that details as to the construction of a railway should be left to the Board of Railway Commissioners,

but the policy should be left where it is to-day-in the hands of Parliament.

Topic:   II, 1916
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