HC Deb 07 June 1847 vol 93 cc182-5

, pursuant to notice, rose to propose the Members of the Committee on the Holyhead Harbour Bill.

On the question that Mr. Owen Stanley be one of the Members,


thought that some reason should be given for the appointment of this Committee before the report of the Commission which had lately examined the subject was produced. Sir John Ronnie, and other engineers of equal eminence, would prove that the cost of this harbour would be at least 2,000,000l., and that it would, after all, be inefficient as a harbour of refuge. He hoped the House would not sanction any further proceeding on this Bill, without having the report of the Commission before them. It would be improper to take any step in a matter involving such a vast expenditure of public money without having full information. He most decidedly objected to the appointment of the Committee before they had the report of the Commission before them, and with that view he should move as an Amendment that the debate be adjourned to this day fortnight.


said, the object of appointing the Committee was, that they should investigate most closely all the facts of the case which his hon. Friend had assumed. He did not wish the House to proceed before the report of the Commission was before them. It would be presented on Thursday next, and the House would have ample time to consider it. He had deferred the appointment of the Committee to the last minute, and the names he proposed were those of members of all parties.


thought the observations of the hon. Member for Coventry quite unfounded. He believed it was sufficiently established that Holyhead harbour would make one of the best stations for a harbour of refuge on the coast of Great Britain; and so far from the amount required being so enormous as was represented, the contractor had already engaged to complete the harbour for a sum considerably less than the engineer's estimate.


expressed doubts as to whether Holyhead harbour was the best station that could be found for a harbour of refuge for the shipping of Liverpool and other ports, though it was excellently adapted for a packet station. For the former purpose it was possible that a better harbour might be found on the coast of Carnarvonshire. He thought, therefore, the opposition of the hon. Member a very reasonable one, and that the Committee should not be nominated until the report and evidence taken by the Commission were before the House.


said, the only question was, whether the arrangement made by the preceding Government should be carried out, or whether there were grounds for the House to pause before fulfilling it? If Holyhead did not possess the advantages supposed to belong to it, Government had no wish to press the matter.


observed, that there never was a question more fully considered than this, whether or not Holyhead was entitled to a preference over any neighbouring port in facilitating the intercourse between this country and Ireland. The late Administration had sent two very eminent men, one connected with civil engineering, the other with the Admiralty, for the purpose of making a report on that question. They inquired into the subject most minutely, and made a report decidedly in favour of Holyhead. There was some little imputation, resting upon the slightest grounds, as to their partiality. Two others wore therefore appointed, who made a report to the same effect, decidedly in favour of Holyhead; and he was not sure whether there was not a third inquiry. Here then were three inquiries within the last few years; at least he was quite certain that there were two, which both resulted in favour of that site. He was bound to say that he thought the reasons for selecting Holyhead were quite decisive.


said, the report of the Commissioners first appointed had been very much questioned, as they were supposed to have neglected the duty of per- sonally examining the site. Those interested, therefore, applied for a further investigation, which had lately taken place. He thought it rather premature to nominate a Committee for the purpose of going into the subject previously to the report of the Commission being laid on the Table, particularly when it involved such an enormous outlay as would be required to form a harbour at Holyhead. He had no hesitation in saying that the sum already expended on it was not much more than half of what would be needed. It was questionable whether they could get anchorage in the bay of Holyhead free from impediment for six yards together.


said, the question was not whether Holyhead harbour was the best site for a harbour of refuge or not, but whether the House was in a condition to appoint this Committee or not? His hon. Friend asked for time to enable the House to read the evidence before the Commission. If it were necessary to appoint a Committee, he objected to the manner in which it was proposed to be done. He thought the whole proceeding quite irregular, and should certainly insist that no Member be appointed on the Committee who could not make that declaration which was exacted in the case of Railway Bills—that he had no personal interest in the matter. He was told that there were Members to be named on the Committee who had a direct interest in the report.


had applied to the Speaker for directions how to nominate the Committee. There had been two or three similar Bills already before the House, and the precedents had been strictly followed in this case. He had consulted the Speaker as to the local Members to be put on the Committee, and particularly as to the only point on which anything like a complaint was made, that one might be said to have a personal interest in the decision of the question. The right hon. Gentleman's answer was, "As he is the only representative of Anglesea we have in the House, it would not be proper, according to the regulations followed in such cases, to exclude him."


wished to state, that the appointment of the Committee was strictly in accordance with former precedents. Whenever a Bill had been before the House, which was partly of a public and partly of a private nature, the rule always had been that the Committee appointed to report on it should be composed partly of Members in different public departments, partly of Members who represented local interests, and that the remaining Members should be chosen by the Committee of Selection under the ordinary rules followed in the appointment of Committees.


thought the House should have the evidence taken by the Commission before them, in order to form a correct opinion. The questioa not only regarded a packet station, but a large harbour of refuge; and they must consider whether, when they had spent the money, they would not merely have enclosed a space full of rocks, liable to be shut up, and open to many other objections. He thought, therefore, the hon. Member for Coventry had very fair grounds for asking to see the evidence before he was called upon to say who should be the judges to decide the question.


said, he had no wish whatever himself to serve on the Committee; but he wished to remind hon. Members, that when the Commission was appointed, it was upon a declaration from the Secretary of the Admiralty that it was to be a final settlement of the questian. The report of the first Commission was demurred to; the present Government yielded, and granted the last Commission. The House, therefore, was not to consider whether the Commission had done right in adopting a particular plan. If the whole question were to be re-opened, let it not be done by a sidewind.


said, a distinct engagement had been given by Government that no further steps should be taken with respect to this Bill until the report of the Commission was in the hands of Members. At the same time he should offer no opposition to the appointment of the Committee, on the understanding that they were not to proceed until the House had the reports before them, and time were allowed for examining the evidence.

Motion agreed to.

Committee nominated.