§ MR. BRUNNER (Cheshire, Northwich)
asked 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 entirely 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 1020 £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?
§ THE PRESIDENT (Sir MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH) (Bristol, W.)
The history of the Weaver Trust is contained in a Report presented in 1872 by the Board of Trade on the Weaver Navigation Bill, then before Parliament. The Board of Trade have no power to alter the management of this or any other River in the Kingdom; and any proposal for a reconstitution of the Trust must come from those interested. Any such proposal would receive the best consideration of the Department.