9 FEBRUARY 1867, Page 2

Sir Stafford Northcote on Thursday introduced his Bill for the

management of insolvent railways. It is difficult to decide until the Bill has been printed, but judging from Sir Stafford's very in- volved and cumbrous speech, the proposal is a weak one. No general law is to be passed or general principle laid down, but whenever a company is in difficulties it will call in the Board of Trade. The Board of Trade will hear all parties, draw up a Bill embodying the measure it deems most satisfactory to all, and pass that, if it can, as a public Act through Parliament. In short, Sir Stafford Northcote is created General Railway Arbitrator—an office for which a member of a Cabinet is decidedly unfit. If there is to be such an officer, he ought to be a judge, but we confess we do not like the principle of the scheme. What is required is an Act defining the order in which claims shall stand, and giving power to the Court of Chancery to order the sale of the line by auction 1 to the highest bidder. Sir Stafford Northcote, we perceive, did not see the expediency of the State taking over only the insolvent lines, and declined to discuss the broader scheme for the present altogether. The question will probably end, like everything else nowadays, in a Committee of Inquiry.