HC Deb 18 July 1840 vol 55 cc813-4
Sir J. Graham

said, he would take that opportunity of making a few remarks on the subject of a bill which he found had been read a third time and passed since the sitting of the House that day—he alluded to the Caledonian Canal. It would be in the recollection of hon. Members opposite, that when the Order of the Day for the third reading of that bill was called on on a former evening, he and his right hon. Friend, the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Goulburn) objected, on account of the lateness of the hour, and at the same time he intimated his intention of objecting to parts of the bill, and of moving an amendment. It was therefore postponed to this day; but he was not a little surprised, on coming down to the House at half-past twelve o'clock, to find that the bill had been already read a third time and passed. It was well known that the Caledonian Canal had already cost the country a very large outlay, and certainly far beyond the benefit which the country derived from it, and it still required a considerable outlay and great care and attention to prevent it from overflowing or breaking down some of the embankments, by which parts of the adjoining country would be flooded and very serious damage ensue. Formerly all the sums applied to keeping up this canal were by estimate, which was laid on the table of that House, and thus the House had a proper control over the whole expenditure. But by the bill which had that morning been hurried through its last stage, the whole of this control had been taken away, and by the third clause of the bill the whole management of the canal was placed in the Commissioners of Woods and Forests, under the control of the Treasury, so that any sum which the Commissioners might think necessary, and which might be sanctioned by the Treasury, would be voted, and Parliament have no control over rt. It was his intention, if he had arrived before the bill was passed, to have proposed a proviso to the third clause, to the effect, that no sum should be expended by the Commissioners on the canal until an estimate of the amount, and of its intended application, had been laid before the House. That, however, he regretted to find, was now out of his power, as the bill had passed.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

was happy to be able to give his right hon. Friend an answer which he hoped would be considered satisfactory; but let him first remark, that the tone of the right hon. Baronet in his remarks was as if he considered that the bill had been smuggled through the House. Nothing of the kind, however, was intended, and as to the proviso which the right hon. Baronet had intended to move, he would find on looking at the bill that he had been spared the trouble, for a clause precisely to the same effect had been introduced into the bill. [Sir J. Graham: When?] In the Committee. So that the control of Parliament over the expenditure, which the right hon. Baronet was anxious to secure, had been already provided for.

Sir J. Graham

said, he had wished that the bill should be postponed for the purpose of moving the amendment he had named. He was not aware of the introduction of the proviso, and was glad to find that it had been added.

Subject at an end.