§ MR. MARJORIBANKS
asked the President of the Board of Trade, Whether he can now state the means Government have resolved on as the best way of assisting harbour works by a judicious system of loans; whether the grant of such loans is intended to be dependent on the security which localities applying for them are able to offer rather than on the special suitability with regard to site and other considerations which any given locality may present; whether it is intended to leave to the decision of the Public Works Loan Commissioners the policy of the construction of a harbour at any given place, as well as the adequacy of the security which is offered for a loan; and, whether he will not recommend the appointment of a small Royal Commission, consisting of experts (for instance, a distinguished naval officer and two engineers of eminence), to complete the work of the Select Committee on Harbour Accommodation by reporting, after thorough local inquiry: (1) as to the correctness of the conclusions arrived at by the Select Committee as to the districts in which additional harbour accommodation is most urgently needed; (2) what are the places within such districts where the grant of public money by way of loan for harbour works would be productive of the greatest amount of public advantage?
§ MR. CHAMBERLAIN
The Government proposed to assist harbour works 126 as follows:—By reducing the rate of interest on loans. The Treasury have agreed to the following rates—namely, for a loan of thirty years with collateral security, three and a-quarter per cent; for a loan for forty years, three and a-half per cent; and for a loan for fifty years, three and three-quarters per cent. That is in every case a half per cent less than the present rate of interest. Secondly, by enabling Local Authorities, including the Governing Bodies of neighbouring counties or districts, to guarantee the security. The Government are of opinion that the repayment should be a fixed annuity, instead of a varying sum, consisting of instalments of principal with interest on the sum remaining due. The effect of that will be to lessen the charge in the earlier years of the loan. The Government are also of opinion that the decision on the policy of making a loan for constructing harbours should rest with the Board of Trade, leaving the consideration of the adequacy of the security to the Public Works Loan Commissioners. The Government do not propose to make any absolute grants of public money for harbours; but neither do they propose to limit the advance of public money in the shape of loans by selecting only a few special sites as suitable for the purpose. It will not, therefore, be necessary to appoint a Committee to perform this duty. Any place which fulfils the requisite conditions will be able to apply, and an inquiry would then take place as to such application.