§ Order for Third Reading read (Queen's Consent signified).
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."—(Sir Charles Forster.)
§ MR. C. H. WILSON
said, that on Tuesday last, when the Bill was before the House for consideration, he had moved an Amendment, the object of which was to exempt certain river craft upon the Humber which frequented the port of Goole from the toll of ½d. per ton which the Bill proposed to levy upon all vessels navigating the Ouse which were of more than 10 tons burden. If he had gone to a Division on that occasion he should certainly have had a large amount of support; but he did not consider it necessary to press the Amendment to a Division. Since then he had received a letter fully justifying his opposition to the Bill from the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee of the Hull Corporation. The reason assigned for objecting to his Amendment was that the Corporation of Hull had no locus standi to oppose the Bill. Now, the question appeared to him to be one of some public importance. The Corporation of Hull were the natural guardians of the trade of the port; and if they were not allowed a locus standi in cases of this kind, taxes could be proposed to Parliament of an arbitrary and even of an unjust character, and they would be passed by the House of Commons. He was told that, in the first instance, when the Bill was about to go before a Committee of the House of Lords, several witnesses left the town of Hull who were prepared to give evidence against the Bill, and representations were made by the Chamber of Commerce that the interests of owners of river craft, coal merchants, and others would be materially injured by the provisions of the Bill. Their locus standi, however, was refused. When the Bill came before the House of Commons the Parliamentary Committee of Hull again determined, if possible, to obtain a locus standi; and for that purpose the 894 Mayor, certain members of the Town Council, and himself attended the Court of Referees. They were heard by counsel, but were again refused a locus standi, the argument upon which the decision of the Court was based being that they were not the Conservators of the Humber. It was evident that more importance was attached to the interests of Goole than of Hull. The Bill was promoted by the Aire and Calder Navigation Company, who desired to improve the navigation of the Lower Ouse in order that a larger description of vessels might be able to go up to Goole. The improvements which the Aire and Calder Navigation Company proposed to carry out would be of no advantage to Hull, and would really be of no advantage whatever to the river craft which now went from Hull to Goole, and to the system of canal navigation owned by the Aire and Calder Navigation Company. Nevertheless, in spite of that, the present Bill proposed to impose a tax of ½d. a ton on all goods carried by these vessels from Hull to Goole. He was informed that within the last 12 months the Aire and Calder Navigation Company had considerably increased their dues upon vessels from Hull to the interior with goods for Leeds and other towns in the West. The advance of rates from Hull to Leeds since the year 1872 varied from 5 to 18 per cent, and from Leeds to Hull the advance of rates had been as much as 63 per cent within the last 12 years. That had all been done, he understood, by an agreement between the North Eastern Railway Company and the Aire and Calder Canal Navigation Company, and the result in regard to this water communication was that by a combination of the Railway and Canal interests higher rates were charged. A new Bill was now promoted which stood for a third reading that day, and the object of it was to impose additional taxation upon the river craft trading to Goole. Small though the tax was, it was still sufficient to weigh heavily on the owners of the river craft, who would be required, if the Bill passed, to pay ½d. a ton upon all goods they carried between Hull and the interior of the country. Now, it appeared to him that the Corporation of Hull were the natural guardians and protectors of the interests of a port like Hull, and he thought they were fairly entitled to a locus standi 895 to appear before a Committee of the House of Commons to oppose this taxing clause. If they could have been in that position they would have been able to lay a very strong case before the Committee.
§ Message to attend the Lords Commissioners;—
§ The House went; — and being returned;—
§ Mr. SPEAKER reported the Royal Assent to several Bills.