HC Deb 24 February 1885 vol 294 cc1163-5

asked the Chairman of Ways and Means, who has reported to the House that the Manchester Ship Canal Bill is to go first before a Committee of the Lords, Whether, since a Bill to connect Manchester with the sea was passed by a Committee of the Commons and thrown out by a Committee of the Lords in the Session of 1883, and a similar Bill was passed by a Committee of the Lords and thrown out by a Committee of the Commons in the Session of 1884, there is any reason to suppose that the present Session will afford time for two inquiries into so large a subject; whether it is a fact that in the two last Sessions the second inquiry took place in the greatest difficulty with regard to time; and, whether, under the special circumstances of this case, having regard both to time and cost, he would support a Motion to refer this Bill to a Joint Committee of the two Houses?


In accordance with the arrangements which exist for the conduct of Private Business in both Houses of Parliament, the Bill to which the Question of my hon. Friend relates has been in due course referred to the House of Lords. Any proposition, therefore, for a Joint Committee of both Houses of Parliament on the Manchester Ship Canal Bill, would have to be originated in that House. I do not understand my hon. Friend to desire me to express any opinion as to the merits of the Bill, and I am anxious to avoid the supposition of doing so. But there can be no doubt that a project to connect Manchester with the sea and to make it a seaport is one of great importance and interest, not only to that great commercial city, but also to Liverpool and the whole of Lancashire. That project has already been considered by both Houses of Parliament on two occasions and with varying fortunes in each. In 1883 it was introduced in this House and examined by a Committee for 39 days, when it was passed. It went to the House of Lords on the 12th of July, and after 10 days' consideration in Committee in that House it was rejected. In 1884 the Bill was introduced in the House of Lords, and was for 41 days under the consideration of a Select Committee there, who passed the Bill. It then came before a Committee here on the 7th of July, and after being under consideration during 20 days it was rejected. Thus there has been a very great expenditure of money involved in these proceedings, amounting, I am told, to between £100,000 and £200,000, and the labours of four Committees have been rendered fruitless. Now, Sir, considering the very exceptional character of this Bill, I am persuaded that it might, with advantage, having regard to several precedents, be referred to a Joint Committee of both Houses. I shall be very glad to co-operate with any arrangement of that character when the proper time comes for so doing.


In reference to the remarks which have just fallen from the hon. Gentleman the Chairman of Ways and Means, may I ask if hon. Members will be allowed to offer an opinion, if there is a proposal to refer this Bill to a Joint Committee of both Houses? It is a matter upon which, Sir, Liverpool would certainly have something to say.


I do not know whether what I said caught the ear of my noble Friend, but I stated that any proposition for submitting the Bill to a Joint Committe must originate with the House of Lords. If such a proposal, after having been originated in the House of Lords, were brought down for the consideration of this House, there would be, unquestionably, an opportunity afforded to every hon. Member for expressing an opinion upon it.