§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
stated, that the object of this measure was to release the Treasury from an undertaking entered into by them in 1856, to establish a short sea service between the West of Scotland and the North of Ireland, the railway companies being at the same time bound under penalties to construct lines to the ports of Portpatrick and Donaghadee. Those lines had been completed, and nearly £50,000 had been spent on Portpatrick harbour; but it had already begun to silt up, and was found to be unfit for a night, and consequently for a punctual mail service, while the postal accommodation could be provided far more cheaply and equally well by accelerating the mails viâ Dublin. If the service were established moreover, the sum it would be worth paying would not satisfy the companies, and there would be the liability to spend large sums on the harbours. Under these circumstances a compromise had seemed to him expedient, and he had effected on arrangement with the County Down Railway Company that it should waive its claim for the establishment of the service in consideration of a loan of £166,000, the amount of its debenture debt, at 3½ per cent for a term of years. The claims of the Portpatrick Company were greater, there being seven miles of line which would be rendered useless; but after nearly two years' negotiations that company had agreed to accept a loan of £153,000 on the same terms and a free grant of £20,000. The companies would have to show that their security was good, and the loan would yield a small profit, which would, he believed, recoup the Treasury the £20,000. The arrangement would, on the whole, be an economical one. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by moving that the Bill be read a second time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(The Chancellor of the Exchequer.)
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, he believed the arrangement to be a judicious one, and the best escape from an impolitic undertaking. When he was at the Treasury, the obstacle to the settlement of the question was a claim set up by the companies, not merely to a short sea service, but to a second express mail communication between London and the North of Ireland by that route. The latter would have been enormously expensive, and he resisted the claim, which had turned out to be unfounded. He thought his right hon. Friend had now very fairly met the legitimate claims of the companies.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time, and committed for Wednesday.