§ Queen's Consent signified.
§ Order for Third Reading read.
§ LORD CLARENCE PAGET
said, he felt obliged to oppose the third reading of this Bill. The history of the Bill was shortly this: In the year 1851 some gentlemen proposed to embank a portion of Chichester Harbour and a neighbouring creek, called Bonham Creek. The promoters at that time obtained the sanction of the then Board of Admiralty. No Bill was asked for, but an arrangement was come to that with certain guarantees they should be allowed to carry out this measure, the object of which was to enclose some 1,800 acres of land from the sea. That company fell to the ground, and nothing more was heard of the matter until the present company sprang up, and brought this Bill before Parliament. As the House was aware, the Admiralty had jurisdiction in all matters relating to navigable rivers, and the late Board having given full consideration to this subject, came to the conclusion that, notwithstanding their predecessors had consented to the measure, that sanction ought not to be carried out. Chichester Harbour was in the immediate vicinity of Portsmouth, and it might yet be turned to good account both for the naval and the mercantile service. The promoters, instead of withdrawing the Bill, brought it before a Select Committee of the House, who, instead of supporting the decision of the Board of Admiralty, reported in favour of the Bill. The present Board however felt it their duty to support the decision of their predecessors. The piece of land lay within range of the fortifications of Portsmouth, and the promoters proposed to make a patch of dry land, on which a position might be formed and batteries erected, very prejudicial to the fortifications of Portsmouth. He also held in his hand a petition from the Mayor of Chichester, expressing the alarm of the inhabitants at the proposal to fill up one of the tributaries of Chichester Harbour, and stating that if the embankment were made it would fill up one of the creeks that performed the office of scouring the harbour. Under these circumstances, he felt it incumbent on him to propose that the Bill be read again that day three months.
§ Amendment proposed to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the question to add the words "upon this day three months."
§ MR. BUCHANAN
said, that he should 1380 support the decision of the Committee, of which he was the only Member in the House. That Committee had been presided over by the late Chief Commissioner of the Board of Works, the present Lord Llanover; and they came to the conclusion that a former Board of Admiralty having solemnly sanctioned this contract, it ought to be carried out in its integrity, notwithstanding that a subsequent board might not see fit to continue it. In short they were of opinion that the Admiralty had put themselves out of court by the covenants they had made under the agreement of 1851. There would be no confidence in public departments if it were open to one board to frame new conditions and to stop works of great public advantage which had been agreed to by their predecessors. The Admiralty had an opportunity of urging any military objections to the Bill, but as Portsmouth was eight miles distant the Committee did not think these considerations deserving of much attention. They were also satisfied that the embankment would be a great public advantage, and under all the circumstances he trusted the House would support the decision come to by their Committee, and agree to the third reading.
MR. H. BERKELEY
said, he thought the opposition of the present Board of Admiralty a gross interference with the principles of justice and good faith. The consent of the Crown had been already given to the project; and three surveyors sent down by the Board of Admiralty had reported favourably of it. The only reason for presenting this Bill to Parliament was to get rid of certain manorial rights and usages which stood in the way of these works. He trusted, therefore, the House would not be persuaded by the noble Lord to commit so great an injustice as to reject the Bill.
§ MR. KER SEYMER
considered it was the duty of the noble Lord to come forward on the present occasion, as the question involved was not merely a question of Chichester Harbour, but also one affecting the defences of Portsmouth. A great deal more was known then about the effects of long range artillery than in 1854, and he should therefore support the Amendment.
§ MR. E. P. BOUVERIE
said, that the Admiralty had appeared before the Committee and had a full opportunity of making objections to the Bill. He believed that the military question referred to by the noble Lord had never been brought 1381 before the Committee by the Admiralty. He had seen something of the action of these public boards, and was very distrustful of their interference. They frequently came to one-sided opinions, which, when sifted before a Committee, proved to be worthless. He recommended the House to support the decision of its Committee.
§ MR. WHITBREAD
said, the usual practice of the House was not followed in regard to the present Bill. It was customary for the promoters of such Bills to call on the Board of Admiralty to make their objections to the contemplated measures, if they had any.
§ Question "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question," put and agreed to.
§ Main Question put and agreed to.
§ Bill read 3° and passed.