§ MR. FENWICK
said, he would beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade, If Her Majesty's Government are prepared to bring in a Bill to give effect to the repeated recommendations that have been made for the Abolition of Passing Tolls? The payment of passing tolls by shipowners had long been felt as a great grievance, since it was a payment in exchange for which they obtained no benefit whatever. It was, therefore, by no means a nominal grievance. Twenty years ago the matter was referred to a Select Committee, who made a report condemnatory of the impost, and recommending that it should be done away with. Nothing, however, was done. In 1852 the subject came under discussion in the House, and a general opinion was expressed, in which the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Disraeli) concurred, in favour of abolishing passing tolls. A Royal Commission was then appointed to consider generally the local charges on shipping. The Commissioners visited the various ports and made a strong report in favour of doing away with passing tolls. A Bill was afterwards in- 1210 troduced by the then Vice-President of the Board of Trade of a somewhat comprehensive character, which did not obtain the support of the House. No one, however, spoke in favour of passing tolls, and a general opinion prevailed that if the Bill had been confined to that subject it would have passed the House. In 1857 a Bill, introduced by the same right hon. Gentleman, was read a second time and referred to a Select Committee, but nothing came of it. Looking then to those various recommendations he would beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether the Government were prepared to bring in a Bill to give effect to them?
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
said, that some evenings ago the hon. Member for Sunderland asked whether it was the intention of the Government to introduce any measure to give effect to the recommendations of the Merchant Shipping Committee that sat last Session. He (Mr. Gibson) bad stated in reply that the Government had prepared two Bills, one of which would deal with many of the recommendations of that Committee, and the other would deal, amongst other subjects, with the question to which the hon. Gentleman now especially referred. That was not a fitting occasion to discuss either the justice or policy of passing tolls, or to explain to the House the provisions of the measure about to be introduced on the subject. Therefore, he would simply say that in the course of the next week he would give notice of the day on which it was his intention to ask leave to introduce a Bill for the purpose of dealing with the question of passing tolls.