HC Deb 21 March 1842 vol 61 cc931-4
Mr. Pakington

moved the further consideration of the report (with amendments) of the Severn Navigation Bill.

Mr. Muntz

said, that in his opinion, if the committee had looked to the statements made by the surveyors, they would not have agreed to the bill in its present shape. Many of his constituents who were connected with the Birmingham and Worcester Canal would be injured by this measure, if it were passed as it now stood. They would have, under the provisions of this bill, to pay heavier tolls than those who would derive considerable benefit from it. The hon. Member concluded by moving, "That this bill be recommitted."

Mr. Pakington

said, this was a measure which, as it was intimately connected with the improvement of the river Severn, must be considered as one of great national, as well as of great local importance. By the system which at present prevailed, the navigation connected with the Severn was sometimes obstructed and impeded for three or four months at a time, and it was to prevent that evil in future that this measure was to be introduced. The subject had been thoroughly considered in committee, and he could see no good grounds for acceding to the proposition of the hon. Member. The opposition appeared to be raised by a particular party against a great national improvement, because, from their situation, they could not participate in all the advantages which it was calculated to produce.

Mr. M. Philips

said, that in the course he was about to pursue, he was influenced by no motive but that of doing justice to all parties. Now, though he was fully impressed with the importance of improving the navigation of the Severn, still he thought that it was highly inexpedient that the navigation of the Birmingham and Worcester Canal should have any obstacle thrown in its way by the provisions of the bill then under consideration. The hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Muntz) was, he believed, most anxious for the improvement of the Severn navigation; but he wished that improvement to be so effected that others would not be injured by the plan. It was very proper that the navigation of the Severn should be improved, but in effecting that improvement some regard ought to be paid to the interests of another navigation, and care should be taken not to impede it. By reconsidering the bill in committee means might be found to obviate the objections that had been raised.

Mr. Labouchere

said, that though this subject came before them in the shape of a private bill, it involved public interests of the greatest possible importance, especially as connected with the great mining districts. He had, therefore, watched the progress of the measure with considerable anxiety, and he was very glad to see it in a situation to receive the sanction of that House. Those who opposed the measure in this stage did not object to the principle, but to the details of the bill. Now, those details, he submitted, could not be satisfactorily discussed in the House—they could alone be satisfactorily discussed in committee. And what was the fact? Why, they had been discussed in committee for seven weeks during the last Session. That committee took great pains in investigating the matters that were now adverted to. In the present Session another committee was appointed, and all the five selected Members (who were perfectly free from any interest in the bill) on that committee were unanimous in recommending the course which had been adopted. Now, he thought that he was taking the safest course in placing his confidence in the decision of those five gentlemen, who could not be supposed to be actuated by any of the feelings which might be alleged as likely to influence them in a case where the interests of their own constituents were concerned. He, therefore, in accordance with their opinion, was against interposing any further delay to the progress of this bill.

Sir W. Rae

said, this measure was not brought forward in order to benefit any individual or any company. The bill was intended to benefit the public. The objections now raised ought to have been made long before this time. The bill had been before a committee, in the last Session, for discussion and decision, during seven weeks, and that committee unanimously concurred in recommending that it should be carried into effect. It was, however, too late in the last Session to proceed. The bill had again been considered by a committee in the present Session, and not one of these objections had been advanced. The measure was discussed fully and fairly, and he could see no sufficient reason for not proceeding with it.

Mr. R. Scott,

after a careful consideration of the provisions of the bill, thought that it ought to be recommitted because, in committee, suggestions might be adopted by which proper accommodation would be provided for that traffic which would otherwise be injuriously affected by the measure. He admitted the great importance of the navigation of the river; but, in his opinion, it might be improved without interfering with the interests of those who were likely to be injured by the plan laid down.

Sir C. Douglas

was favourable to the principle of the bill, but he did not approve of some of its details.

Lord G. Somerset

thought that the motion of the hon. Member for Birmingham did not rest on any reasonable grounds. Unless the hon. Member could clearly show that injustice was likely to be done by the measure he could not consent to his amendment. He conceived that it would be most injurious if the House, on light grounds, did away with the laborious work of a committee.

Sir T. Wilde

said the motion of the hon. Member for Birmingham was calculated to do away with the bill altogether. It was not suggested that those parties whose interests were espoused by the hon. Member had not had an opportunity to be heard before the committee. If a period of seven weeks were not sufficient to enable them satisfactorily to make out their case, then, he feared, that any further time that might be allowed for the investigation would not produce a more satisfactory result. As the case had been fully heard, would, in fact, be throwing out this bill, f, after being placed in the stage at which it had now arrived, they consented to its recommittal. The object of the bill was the general benefit of the public—even of those parties themselves who were connected with the Birmingham and Worcester Canal. Considering that the bill had had the advantage of a very long and minute investigation, when those who were opposed to the weir were fully heard, he trusted that the House would not accede to the motion of the hon. Member for Birmingham.

Mr. O Gore

saw no grounds on which the House should allow the bill to be re committed.

Viscount Ingestre

said, that looking to the great expense to which all parties would be put by a recommittal of the bill, he should vote against it.

Mr. Muntz

would not trouble the House with a division.

Amendment withdrawn. Report agreed to.

Bill to be read a third time.