HC Deb 27 June 1845 vol 81 cc1315-6
Captain Berkeley

, pursuant to the Notice he had given, begged to call the attention of the House to the great hardship and injustice to which parties opposing railways which were to cross or interfere with any tidal rivers, arms of the sea, or creeks, over which the Board of Admiralty had control, were exposed in appearing before Committees of the House on Private Bills, without the Bills having first obtained the sanction of that Board, according to the provisions of the Act 8th of Victoria, cap. 20. An instance of this kind occurred in the case of the South Wales Railway, the opponents of which had been put to great expense by not knowing in the early stage of the Bill, that the Admiralty had refused its assent to carrying a line of railway across a bridge to be built over the Severn. Had the parties been informed of this intention of the Admiralty at an earlier stage, it would, he repeated, have put a stop to much needless expenditure. He hoped that the House would take some steps to remedy the evil; and with that view he would now move that the question be referred to the Committee Orders.

Mr. Hume

, in seconding the Motion, said, that the question was one of great importance to all who had embarked capital in railways. In the case to which his hon. Friend had called the attention of the House, certain parties had not come up to defend their interests, for they had no idea that a refusal would be given by the Admiralty to erect a bridge over the Severn. Now, as no bridge could be erected after this refusal, the only way of carrying the line across, would be by a tunnel under the river; but here a new difficulty presented itself, for it was well known that the navigation of the Severn could be much improved by cutting the bed of the river twenty feet below low watermark; but if this were done, it would require to go to a depth of fifty feet to make a tunnel; and this would cause a total change in the plans, sections, and levels.

Sir G. Grey

concurred in thinking that it would be very desirable that as early a notice as possible should be given by the Admiralty Board of any objections which it had to make to lines crossing rivers or arms of the sea over which they had control.

Mr. Fitzroy

said, that the changes of levels and sections made in consequence of the refusal of the Admiralty to allow the erection of a bridge over the Severn, had brought the question within the cognizance of the Committee on Standing Orders, and it was they who retarded the Bill, and not the Admiralty.

Mr. H. F. Berkeley

said, the case was one of great hardship on the parties, and he hoped that some means would be taken to remove the evil.

Mr. Warburton

said, that in proportion as the power of the Admiralty was great in stopping great undertakings, so ought to be its prudence and caution in the use of it. Due notice should be given of every objection made by it.

Sir G. Clerk

said, that no doubt the Admiralty possessed the power of pulling down any erections made without their permission; but the parties connected with any railway or other undertaking should apply to the Admiralty in the first instance, and then they would be made acquainted with the alterations to be proposed, and would thus be saved much time and expense. But the Standing Orders' Committee had nothing to do with the case, if the parties neglected what was an obvious duty.

Captain Berkeley

said, that he would withdraw his Motion, and give notice of another Motion on the subject on Monday next.

Motion withdrawn.

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