§ MR. TOLLEMACHE
said, he wished to ask the President of the Board of Trade, Whether his attention has been called to a Bill introduced by the Mersey Docks and 1337 Harbour Board for raising a further sum of £1,100,000 for new works, the entire bonded debt of the Mersey Board already amounting to nearly £14,000,000, and the Birkenhead docks and works being still unfinished, and particularly to Clause 3, authorizing the raising of the sum of £334,000, to replace money expended on unauthorized works at Liverpool, in contravention of Clause 5 in the Mersey Dock Act of 1864, which provided that no part of the money to be raised under that Act should be expended on any works at Liverpool until the northern entrances of the Birkenhead Docks "shall have been completed, to the reasonable satisfaction of an officer to be appointed by the Board of Trade," and which certificate has not yet been obtained; whether his attention has been called to Clause 12 in the same Bill, authorizing the payment of local rates out of the sinking fund specially directed to be maintained by the Act of 1859, instead of paying such rates out of revenue; and whether any Report from the Board of Trade upon this Bill will be presented to the House?
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
said, in reply, that the Question was one which had excited a good deal of interest on account of the magnitude of the points at issue. The attention of the Board of Trade had been directed to this Bill, both by its promoters and by those who opposed it. But his hon. Friend would see that it would be very inconvenient to attempt answering the Question when there could be no discussion, or to give any intimation of au opinion upon the merits of the case. If it had been the will of the opponents of the measure to challenge its merits upon the second reading, there would have been an opportunity of discussion, and no doubt statements would have been made on both sides adequate to the occasion. But that course had not been taken, and he felt that it would be undesirable that he should now express any opinion upon matters which would be much better left to the Committee upon the Bill. The Board of Trade had now given up the practice of reporting, as a matter of course, upon Bills of this description, and there was no intention of making a Report upon this subject. He understood that at one time there was some hope of an arrangement between the parties on either side, and thus avoiding the necessity of sending this measure before a Committee. He would have been very glad if that course had 1338 been adopted, or if in any way the Board of Trade could have brought about a settlement between the parties. He did not see, however, any probability of such a course being taken.