HC Deb 06 May 1886 vol 305 cc365-7

asked the President of the Board of Trade, If his attention has been called to the following extract from the Minutes of a meeting of the Town Council of Dover, held on the 20th of April, relating to the recent appointment of Mr. Lowndes as the Board of Trade representative at the Dover Harbour Board:— The Mayor having announced that Councillor William Henry Crundall has received an intimation from the President of the Board of Trade that he has appointed Mr. Lowndes to act in his place as the representative of the Board of Trade on the Dover Harbour Board, this Council desires to point out to the President of the Board of Trade that the office has hitherto been considered to be one made for life; that the appointment of Mr. Crundall gave the utmost satisfaction to the inhabitants of the borough generally; that it received the unanimous approval of the local press; and that Mr. Crundall, from his mercantile and other interests in the borough and his great business abilities, is, in the opinion of the Council, a most fit and proper representative of the Board of Trade; the Council earnestly hopes that the President will not deprive the Department or the Harbour of such an excellent representative, nor inflict such a grievous personal insult upon a member of the Council; and it is ordered that copies of this Resolution be sent to the President of the Board of Trade, the Lord Warden, and the members of the Harbour Board; if he will explain to the House why he adopted the unprecedented course of cancelling an appointment made by his immediate predecessor in office; and, whether he will lay upon the Table of the House Copies of all Correspondence which has taken place between himself (or the Board of Trade) and Earl Granville (President of the Dover Harbour Board) and the Treasury or others upon this subject?

THE PRESIDENT (Mr. MUNDELLA) (Sheffield, Brightside)

Yes, Sir; my attention has been called to the extract in question. The Dover Harbour Board is a Board representing a variety of interests—the Government, the Town Council, and the two Railway Companies—and is presided over, ex officio, by the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. Under the Act constituting the Board, it is the duty of the Dover Town Council to appoint two gentlemen to represent the interests of their own body; but they are in no way concerned in the appointment of the representatives nominated by the Government. The Railway Companies also appoint their own representatives, whom they change from time to time. Under these circumstances, it is important that the representative of the Government should be perfectly independent, more especially considering the large expenditure of public money which is now contemplated at Dover. No personal affront has been intended or offered to Mr. Crundall; but as he is a gentleman who is engaged in negotiating large contracts with the local Railway Companies, I felt that he did not fulfil the conditions that I have named. No correspondence has passed between the Board of Trade and the Treasury, and I have only received one letter from Earl Granville in the matter, which the hon. and gallant Member can have if he likes to move for it. I may add that the gentleman we have appointed meets all the requirements of the post. He is a resident proprietor at Dover, with independent means and leisure. He has always devoted himself to public business. He was for many years the Chairman of Quarter Sessions and of the Highway Board in Salop; and in politics, I am told, he is a staunch Conservative.


asked whether the right hon. Gentleman was aware that the other representative was interested in Railway Companies; and whether the Government intended to remove him also?


I am not aware of that fact; but he is not appointed by the Board of Trade. I am only responsible for the appointments made in my own Department.


gave Notice that on the earliest day possible he should call attention to this matter, and move a Resolution.


asked on what authority the right hon. Gentleman made the statement that Mr. Crundall had negotiated large contracts with Railway Companies?


was understood to say, in reply, that it had been set forth in a printed document, issued by Mr. Crundall himself, that he bad from time to time negotiated large railway contracts.