HC Deb 01 March 1824 vol 10 cc630-2

On the resolution, "That 13,000l. be granted for completing the Works of the Caledonian Canal, for the year 1824,"

Sir M. W. Ridley

hoped the right hon. gentleman would repeat the assurance he gave them last session, that this was the only vote that would be called for on account of the Caledonian canal. It was time that this expense should be put an and to. He certainly would not vote for the proposed grant, unless the right hon. gentleman pledged-himself that no more assistance would be asked for from parliament. According to the letter of the commissioners in 1823, he was led to expect that no more money would be required.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, he had stated last year that he should not feel justified in asking for the sum he then called for, unless he could refer to the limit of expense which was likely to be necessary for the completion of this work. When he was preparing the estimates at that period, he had communicated with the commissioners and the letter which he received in consequence had answered the question he had put. There was only one object to be attained; namely; that of making the depth of the canal uniformly 20 feet throughout its whole extent; and the sum now called for would accomplish that object. All, therefore, that was likely to be required for the work itself, was the vote now before the committee. There was, however, another point which related to the outstanding claims of individuals through whose lands the canal had been cut. It would be an extreme injustice to many parties, if claims of that nature were not considered: it would be most unfair to take their lands, and afford them no remuneration.

Mr. J. Smith

hoped that this was the last vote that would be demanded on account of this canal. Would the right hon. gentleman give them a direct assurance that this was clearly, substantively, and bona fide the last sum of money that would be taken from the public for the completion of this work?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, he had no doubt that the view of the commissioners was correct and that the present vote would be sufficient to complete the work.

Mr. Hume

wished to know whether the income arising from the canal was ever likely to support the current charge?.

Mr. Herries

said, that that question had been asked officially, but the answer bad not yet arrived. The result of his private inquiries had certainly not been very satisfactory.

Mr. Warre

was glad to have at last a confession from the secretary of the Treasury, that the canal was a useless speculation, as he (Mr. W.) had always pronounced it to be. And this was the case even with the aid of steam, an improvement not contemplated when the undertaking had been begun.

Mr. T. Wilson

thought the vote should be suspended until a return could be obtained of all further claims that were likely to accrue from the canal; including claims on the score of compensation.

Mr. W. Smith

, though he found no fault with the original devising of the canal, believed nevertheless that it would never pay its current charges and the interest of the money spent upon it. The present vote was a trifle after so much expense; yet he was inclined to wait for the return, on account of the claims to compensation. If proper arrangements had been made in the commencement of the undertaking, there was scarcely a proprietor who would not have been glad to have had the canal pass through his lands without claiming, or thinking of claiming any compensation at all.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that without the grant now asked for, the canal would be utterly useless. In its present state, a vessel that went in at one end, could not, from the want of depth, get out at the other. The compensation claims could not be so settled as to become the subject of an immediate return, as any demand which seemed unreasonable would have to be assessed by a jury.

Mr. Hume

had understood, ten years ago, that the greater part of the landowners concerned had acquiesced in the canal cutting without compensation. He was afraid that some claims had been set up from the facility with which others had been allowed. His opinion was, that as these were speculating times, the chancellor of the Exchequer should get some company to take the thing off his hands.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that if the hon., gentleman would bid, he should be happy to receive his tender.

The vote was then agreed to.