Motion made, and Question proposed,
That there he laid before this House, 'a Return of all Piers and Harbours built under the Board of Works in Ireland since the passing of the Act 9 Tic. c. 3:
§ MR. HEALY
said, he had some reason to complain that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Donegal (Mr. Lea) should put down a Motion to obtain a Return which he (Mr. Healy), after great trouble, was promised by the Treasury last November. After he (Mr. Healy) had gone to the trouble of worry- 1727 ing the Treasury for weeks, in order to get the Return, the hon. Member coolly put down the Return in his own name. He (Mr. Healy) did not know how the Treasury communicated with the hon. Gentleman; perhaps they thought that, as he did not do a great deal in the House, it was as well he should have any little credit which attached to the making of such a Motion as the present. That the Government should have allowed any hon. Member to purloin his (Mr. Healy's) Motion was, to say the least, extraordinary. Only last autumn, Mr. Spring Rice told him in the Lobby that if he would make certain changes in his Return the Treasury would be happy to give it to him. He thereupon communicated with the gentleman in Ireland who was instructing him, to know whether he would accept Mr. Spring Rice's alterations. The hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney) was then Secretary to the Treasury. He (Mr. Healy) was unable to attend Parliament on the day it re-assembled; indeed, not for a week after. When, however, he did return, he found the hon. Member for Donegal (Mr. Lea) was moving for a Return which he, to all intents and purposes, had obtained. He could not help thinking that the hon. Member had made this Motion at the instance of the Treasury.
§ MR. LEA
said, that if the hon. Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy) would refer to the Records of the House, he would see that two or three years ago he put a Question respecting Bunna-troohan Pier, and the other piers to which the Return referred. The gentleman who, he believed, communicated with the hon. Member, also communicated with him last autumn, and desired him to urge on the Government the desirability of giving a Return similar to the one he had put on the Paper. He wrote to the Secretary to the Treasury, desiring that some such Return should be given. When the House resumed after the Winter Recess, he was informed the Return was ready if he would move for it; and consequently he gave Notice of it soon after receiving this intimation.
§ MR. KENNY
said, he asked the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Hibbert) the other day whether he could give him a Return something in the nature of the one now under consideration, but more inclusive 1728 of the piers which had been constructed according to the designs of the Board of Works, but which had given way, or fallen into disuse, owing to their defective construction. The report he obtained from the hon. Gentleman was that the Return of which Notice had been given by the hon. Member for Donegal (Mr. Lea) would cover what he (Mr. Kenny) wished. He was not in a position at the time to say whether it would or not, as he had not read the terms of the Return. He had, however, read them since, and he found that the Return would not cover the case of piers which had fallen into disuse, owing to faulty construction. He now desired to know whether the hon. Gentleman was prepared to give him a Return showing what piers—he believed there were a considerable number of them—had given way, owing to the manner in which the Board of Works had designed them?
§ MR. HIBBERT
said, he should be very glad to consider any proposal the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Kenny) made, either with a view of including the piers he spoke of in this Return, or in a separate Return. Of course, he could not promise off-hand that the Return should be given exactly in the way the hon. Member asked for it; but he should be very glad to consider the question. As to the point raised by the hon. Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy), he believed that what happened was this. Mr. Spring Rice, whom the hon. Gentleman named, was his (Mr. Hibbert's) Private Secretary; and he was so anxious to serve the hon. Member in regard to this Return that he applied to the hon. Member for Donegal (Mr. Lea) to move for it.
§ MR. HIBBERT
said, he was sure that, had the hon. Gentleman been in attendance, he would have been applied to. In the absence of the hon. Member, the hon. Member for Donegal (Mr. Lea), who had taken an interest in the question, was told that if he chose to move for the Return it would be given. There was certainly no desire to take 1729 away from the hon. Member for Monaghan any credit which attached to the moving for the Return.
§ MR. CALLAN
said, he would suggest that the Return should be postponed for the purpose of amendment. He was interested in the piers in his county, and yet this Return would not include the information he required concerning them. He was told that two piers in County Louth had been constructed by the Board of Works in such an imperfect and unworkman like manner that the Surveyor of the county had refused, on behalf of the Grand Jury, to take them over. He was told that another pier had been built with such a total want of scientific skill that the barony in which it was situated had been required to spend a large additional sum upon it. Under the circumstances—especially now that the gilt had been taken off his gingerbread by the facts disclosed by The hon. Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy)—the hon. Member for Donegal (Mr. Lea) would do well to postpone his Motion. It was well that they should have a thorough and complete Return, and, therefore, if the hon. Gentleman persisted in his Motion, he (Mr. Callan) would certainly take a division.
§ MR. HIBBERT
said, he would also suggest that the hon. Member for Done-gal (Mr. Lea) should postpone his Motion for a few days, in order to afford the hon. Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy) an opportunity for introducing in the Return the amendments he thought proper.
§ MR. HEALY
asked the indulgence of the House to say that, when a Government Department entered into an arrangement with a Member, it was not right, because that Member happened to be opposed to the Government, and voted against them constantly, and hoped to do so in the future, or because he happened to be away from the House for a single week, that a Motion of which he had charge should be transferred to another hon. Member. He happened to be obliged, during the first week of the Session, to attend to private business; and therefore the Government went to one of their own supporters and suggested that he should move for the Re- 1730 turn, and have the credit of it. In a letter to him, Mr. Spring Rice said—Mr. Courtney thinks such a Return would he useful and interesting; but some few modifications are desirable in the terms of your Motion, in order that it may be complied with;and then Mr. Spring Rice made a series of suggestions. He (Mr. Healy) was not sorry the Government had given a leg-up to one of their own supporters; but he thought the least thing they could have done was to tell him what they were doing. He did not think that such treatment should be dealt out to him, simply because he happened to be a Parnellite; it was not the kind of treatment that ought to be dealt out by a Member of the Government to a Member of the House. He quite agreed that it would be well to withdraw the Motion. After the suggestions of Mr. Spring Rice, he communicated with his friends in Ireland; and, as a result of his communications, he had a series of proposals to make with regard to the piers. This was a matter in which hundreds and thousands of people were interested, and, therefore, it was desirable that a Return complete in every particular should be granted.
§ MR. LEA
said, he would postpone the Motion; or if the Speaker thought it would be more regular he would withdraw it. He thought, however, he was entitled to say that the gentleman who communicated with him held an official position in the county he represented, and that this Return related more especially to Donegal than to any other portion of Ireland. [Mr. CALLAN: No, no!]
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.