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Ought the State to Buy the Railways?

Ought the State to Buy the Railways?

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Excerpt from Ought the State to Buy the Railways?: A Question for Cherybody

The advocates of a Government purchase of railways are numerous and influential. They boldly affirm that the policy initiated by Charles I., when ho made the carrying of letters a State monopoly, - a policy which has lately been developed in the purchase of the plant and powers of the telegraph companies, ought to be carried to its completion by the placing of our entire railway system in the hands of the Crown.

A Joint Committee of both Houses of Parliament has pointed to conditions under which 'the acquisition of the railways 'by the Government' might by desirable. Public meetings, and the organs of a great political party, have given in their adhesion to the same policy; an honourable member intends shortly to ask the House of Commons to declare that it is desirable that 'the railways of the United Kingdom 'should become the property and be under the control and 'management of the State;- and we are assured that 'Free Railways' may even become a battle-cry at a general election.

The time, therefore, has arrived when the nation at large should begin to concern itself with the position and prospects of a matter of such grave national concern. For this is not a subject for statesmen. or shareholders or speculators only - not one of merely theoretical interest or party politics. Every man who travels or who trades, every one who deals in or consumes the product of the manufactory or the soil or the sea, will be immediately affected, in every transaction of life, by the wise or the unwise solution of this problem.

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