§ MR. BRUNNER (Cheshire, Northwich)
who had the following Question on the Paper:—To ask the President of the Board of Trade, Whether he is aware that the Trust of the River Weaver, the largest inland navigation in the Kingdom, is a self-elected body; that its income is derived almost en- 324 tirely from the salt trade; that its surplus funds have for more than 160 years been used to relieve the county rate; that the salt trade has in this way, and during that time, been taxed to the extent of more than £2,000,000 sterling; that the salt trade is, and has long been, in a deplorably depressed condition; that the sources of salt production have of late years been rapidly developed, and bear no corresponding tax for the benefit of any public authority, whilst they have greatly diminished the demand for Cheshire salt; that the salt manufacturers of Cheshire have since 1866 been taxed, in common with other ratepayers of the county, under the Cattle Plague Act; that the cost to the county of this Act is, for instalment of loan and interest, £14,227 15s. per annum; that this loan will be paid off in 1896; that under a recent Act the Trustees of the River Weaver contribute £15,000 a-year to the County Fund; and that the constitution of the Weaver Trust has been repeatedly condemned by the Board of Trade, on the ground that it imposed a tax upon trade; and whether he is prepared to recommend, for the management of the River Weaver, the constitution of a public Trust resembling the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board, and that the payment from the Trust to the County Fund should cease at the date of the last payment on account of the Cattle Plague Loan in 1896, or at an earlier date? said, he wished to postpone it.
THE PRESIDENT (Sir MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH) (Bristol, W.)
in reply, said, that he was prepared to answer it at once.
§ MR. BRUNNER
wished to afford the right hon. Gentleman full time to look into the matter, in order that he might give it his careful consideration.