§ Mr. George F. Young,
seeing the President of the Board of Trade in his place, wished to put a question to the right hon. Gentleman respecting a matter which was of very great interest to all who were connected with the shipping of the country. When the Bill for a harbour at Scarborough was brought in, the Government opposed it, and it was thrown out on account of its being proposed to levy under its authority tolls on passing shipping. But here was a Bill which had passed both Houses of Parliament, and was now in force, for the collection of passing tolls to ten times the amount, and in a manner one hundred times more objectionable. And the parties had had the effrontery to put forth in the public newspaper, advertisements inviting people to invest their capital in the speculation, holding out a prospect of dividends of fifteen per cent., in consequence of the extraordinary advantage the Legislature had conferred on them—the advantage of taxing her Majesty's subjects to an enormous amount for their own private interests. What he wished to ask was, whether it were the intention of her Majesty's Government to introduce any measure for the repeal of that most obnoxious impost, and thereby relieve the shipping interest from the most unjust and impolitic tax that ever had been imposed?
§ Mr. Poulett Thomson
was obliged to the hon. Gentleman for affording him an opportunity not only of stating what the facts were with respect to the Bill in question, but also of stating the course he was about to follow, in order that it should go forth to the public, and in order that no claim might be set up by these parties for compensation, on the ground that they had not had sufficient warning. The present was one of the cases of which he had complained, not only last Session, but during the previous Session, as arising from the absence of any check in that House on the introduction of private bills. He trusted that the recommendation of the Select Committee, of which he (Mr. Poulett Thomson) had the honour to be the Chairman, would be carried into effect, and thereby protect the public interests, and prevent the recurrence of similar cases. He hoped the House would introduce such measures as would not only protect the public interests, but inflict punishment upon the parties introducing such bills. The facts were as. stated by the hon. Member for Tynemouth—a private bill had been introduced for making a harbour at Fishguard. It was evident, from 1428 everything that had occurred in that House, and as it had been reported in the public papers, that the strongest feeling was entertained on both sides of the House against the levying of passing tolls, and that no bill containing a clause of that nature would be permitted to pass, the Fishguard Harbour Bill was brought in—and he might observe that it was impossible for any hon. Member to follow private bills through their various stages; they were read at such an hour, and in such a way, that their titles were scarcely heard. And what was the clause which that Bill contained? Would the House believe that in setting forth the limits of Fishguard Harbour on the Welsh coast, the limit was fixed at the bay of Wexford on the one hand, and the Welsh coast on the other; and these passing tolls were inflicted on all the shipping of the country passing up the Irish Channel, and going between Wexford and the Welsh coast? That was the most monstrous clause that he had ever heard of. If the effect of this clause could be done away with by a public bill, he should introduce it; if it could not, he thought that the Government would be justified in stepping out of its way with respect to a private bill, and he should be prepared to introduce on the behalf of the Government, and at its expense, a private bill repealing the clause, repealing all passing tolls, and leaving the parties, if they wished for passing tolls, to come again to Parliament.
§ Mr. George F. Young
expressed himself perfectly satisfied with the course proposed to be pursued by Government.