§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill he now read a second time."
§ (2.20.) MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)
This Bill contains a provision which I have not the smallest doubt will by and bye be thrown in our faces as a great evidence of the generosity of England towards Ireland I refer to the remission of loans in respect to the Ulster Canal. £120,000 has been advanced at various times to the Ulster Canal Company, and now yon propose to remit the debt. £120,000 is a large sum, and I object very strongly to its being written off. What have the Government done to recover the amount? Have they put anybody in gaol? Have they tried to make anybody bankrupt? There are many remedies that might have been tried. Surely the resources of civilisation are not exhausted. The Government are very sparing in their dealings with bog tenants, but when they come to deal with a Canal Company they are suddenly animated by the most generous feelings. My mind travels back to the time when you lent £2,250,000 sterling to the Irish parsons, a loan which you also wiped off. A Bill of this kind ought certainly not to be passed sub silentio. Then there is a clause in the Bill with regard to the Arklow Harbour. As I understand, the people of Arklow have charged themselves by resolution with liability in respect to the loan for deepening the harbour. You propose by this Bill to validify that resolution. It appears to me that the proper way would be to provide that the resolution should be repassed, and that thereupon the resolution should be valid with regard to the future.
§ (2.25.) THE SECRETARY TO THETREASURY (Mr. JACKSON, Leeds, N.)
With regard to the writing off of the Ulster Canal Debt, I may point out that when the Chancellor of the Exchequer commenced the Local Loans Fund this debt was not taken as an asset. The hon. and learned Gentleman wants to know what steps have been taken to recover the amount. I believe previous Governments took 640 every step they could in order to recover the amount. They even went the length of taking possession of the property, and I am afraid that led to expenditure enlarging their loss, rather than the recovering part of the original loan. Inasmuch as this is an asset which cannot be realised, I think it is desirable the debt should be written off and disposed of. As to the Arklow Harbour, I have to say that one portion of the main pier had been constructed. The works had been, in a technical sense, completed, and handed over by the Board of Works to the Local Commissioners. The Arklow Harbour Act gave power to the Town Commissioners to charge the town in respect of harbour works, but it has been thought desirable to make a notification in this Bill of the steps taken.
(2.30.) COLONEL NOLAN
I do not think the Government could do anything else but write off the debt of £120,000 owing by the Ulster Canal Company. The Commissioners, of whom I was one, pointed out that the canal was absolutely useless.
§ *MR. MORTON (Peterborough)
I think I have a right to claim that this Bill ought not to be proceeded with to-night. We have received solemn promises from the First Lord of the Treasury and the Chancellor of the Exchequer that contentious business would not be taken at such times as the present. This Bill was highly contentious. Moreover, I charge the Government with attempting to deceive us. The title of the Bill is Public Works Loans Bill, and one reading that title would have thought it was a Bill to authorise the granting of loans. But by one of its provisions, as shown by the hon. and learned Member for North Longford, it remits a loan. Inasmuch as we have had no explanation of the Bill, and that there is an attempt to force it through the House at an unseemly hour, I beg to move that it be read a second time this day three months.
§ No hon. Member rising to second the Amendment,
§ The Question was put, and agreed to
§ Bill read a second time, and committed for to-morrow.