§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ SIR HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON,
in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, that the Return which was moved for by the hon. Member for Gloucester (Mr. Monk) showed the actual amount of the indebtedness of the trustees of the bridge to the Government. The result of the proposals in the Bill would be to pay the sum of £10,000 to the Government in lieu of all indebtedness on the part of the trustees of the bridge, which indebtedness was being added to at the rate of nearly £1,000 a-year. It was thought a good bargain by the trustees to have transferred to them the future management of the bridge, whilst they paid at the same time, in discharge of all outstanding debts, the sum he had mentioned. The conditions on which the trustees accepted this were that they should reduce the toll, which was very oppressive, at once upon taking the management, and that any surplus receipts which might afterwards be made should be applied in further reduction of the toll. He believed that thus the public would benefit as well as the Government, who would at once get rid of a charge upon the country, and wipe off a debt which at present stood without any prospect of its being discharged.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson.)
§ MR. MONK
said, he should only trespass upon the attention of the House for a very few moments. When this Bill was brought in, it was one nominally to compound a debt of £40,000, with interest, which had accrued since the year 1822 on the Conway Bridge, for a sum of £10,000. It did not appear upon the face of the Bill what was the amount of interest paid, or the cost of maintenance, and he, therefore, moved for a Return, which his hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury at once granted. That Return was now in the hands of hon. Members. The hon. Baronet had explained pretty fairly to the House how 821 the case stood. The whole question which the House had to consider was, whether the bargain that had been made was a good one or not. The sum which had been advanced by the Government, in addition to the £40,000, was £39,068. Therefore, the whole amount of the debt was £79,068. The average amount of the tolls was £535 per annum, and there was besides a sum of £260 paid as a kind of rent-charge by the London and North-Western Railway Company, making altogether £795 a-year. From this had to be deducted the average cost of maintenance—namely, £185, leaving a net sum payable to the Government of £610. Now, what the House had to consider was, whether it was desirable to compound a debt of £79,000 for £10,000, when they were receiving at the present moment a net sum of £610 a-year. No doubt, as his hon. Friend had said, the cost of maintenance might be larger in future years; and he had, in fact, kindly furnished him with particulars, showing that the cost would amount to about £22 a-year more than it did at present. But the Government would still be left in receipt of a net sum of £580 a-year, and he must say that he thought, under these circumstances, they had made a bad bargain in offering to accept the sum of £10,000. These facts were now before the House, being contained in the Return which had been laid on the Table; and if the House thought it desirable that this debt should be compounded for the sum in question, he should certainly not raise any further opposition to the Bill.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time, and committed for Thursday.