Page:The House of Lords and the nation.djvu/38

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Railway LegislationTestimony of M. Clémenceau.

opposition from Mr. Bright, who, in reference to them, posed, not as the friend of the people, but as the selfish master-manufacturer. And yet Mr. Bright dares to stigmatise the legislative action of the House of Lords as presenting a picture of class selfishness and obstinate resistance to what is liberal and just! What does he say to the Law reforms which have been initiated in the House of Lords during recent years? What to the Land reforms effected by Lord Cairns' Conveyancing and Settled Land Acts, which he introduced into the House of Lords and passed through Parliament without any very hearty support from the Radical Ministry? What does he say to the following three instances, out of many which might be cited, of the watchful solicitude displayed by the Peers for the true interests of the people?

Railway Legislation, &c.(i.) In 1864 the House of Lords resolved, on the motion of the late Lord Derby, then leader of the Conservative Party, that it be an instruction to the Committee on every Railway Bill providing for the construction of any new Railway within the Metropolis, to insert in the Bill provisions for the purpose of securing to the labouring classes a cheap transit to and from their labour by a morning and evening train, (ii.) In February, 1879, the Lords appointed a Select Committee of members of their House to inquire into the prevalence of habits of intemperance, and into the manner in which those habits have been affected by recent legislation and other causes. This Committee made careful researches into the subject, and the report which they presented to the House gave a decided impetus to the movement in favour of temperance, which has happily been making such progress amongst us during the last few years, (iii.) In July of the present year, on the motion of Lord Salisbury (who had previously in other ways shewn the interest which he takes in the dwellings of the poorer classes), the House of Lords adopted a standing order that every Bill for the construction of a railway through the Metropolis should be required to contain clauses providing not only that compensation should be given to the members of the working classes who were evicted, but also that, so far as possible, the amount of house accommodation which was suitable for persons of that class, should not be diminished by the works of the railway.

Testimony of M. Clémenceau.We will close our remarks on this subject by quoting, as against Mr. Bright's calumny, the testimony of M. Cleménceau, who