§ Considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clause 1.
§ COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY (Shropshire, Newport)
said, before the Bill passed he would like a word of explanation. He understood that at present the National Exchequer was at the back of certain tramway arrangements in Ireland, and it was proposed to get rid of the guarantee and give a lump sum. They had, during the evening, been discussing the injustice of refusing to give to English railways that which they were now asked to give to Irish tramways. He thought the proposal under the circumstances, came with an exceeding ill grace from the Government.
*MR. T. H. BOLTON
asked whether these tramways were made for the purpose of saving the people from starvation or to relieve agricultural depression.
§ *SIR JOHN HIBBERT
said, the Bill was really introduced at the request of the cesspayers of Ireland, who found that the payment of the guarantee bore very hardly upon them year by year. It was desired that there should be a commutation, so as to relieve them of that necessity. It would be an advantage to the Treasury that these guarantees should be commuted, and for this the consent of the Treasury, the Company, and the Grand Jury was necessary. This Bill was asked for by the representatives of every section of Ireland, including the Ulster Conservative Members, and he hoped the hon. Member for Shropshire would not persist in his objection. The Bill had nothing to do with the one which they had been previously discussing.
§ COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY
said, the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman was adequate so far as it went; it enabled them to understand that it was introduced for the convenience of Ireland and of the Treasury. If he did not stop it that night it would be because 1727 he was certain that it would be against the feelings of many of them who were only too anxious that something should be done, but he would again point out that it came with an exceeding ill grace from the Government to ask for the boon for one country which they had denied to the other
*MR. T. H. BOLTON
remarked, that the Secretary to the Treasury had stated the Bill was desired by the Irish cesspayers. These were the Irish ratepayers, and the Bill was, therefore, to vote money from the Imperial Treasury, it was true, but to relieve Irish ratepayers.
§ SIR JOHN HIBBERT
It relieves Irish ratepayers, but does not impose any additional burden on the taxpayers. It does two good things, and is, therefore, twice blessed.
§ MR. W. L. JACKSON (Leeds, N.)
said, he understood the terms of commutation were to be left to the future. No terms had been settled as to what the Imperial contribution was to be.
§ MR. JACKSON
asked when that was to be taken? It might be taken at the very time when the condition of the tramway from which the contribution was being commuted was at its worst point. He took exception to the statement that an additional burden would not be imposed on the British taxpayer, and said it was a strong order at 12 o'clock at night to ask the House to pass a Bill of that contentious kind through the Committee stage.
§ *SIR JOHN HIBBERT
said, that no arrangement could be carried out without the consent of the Treasury, and they would not sanction any arrangement which was not perfectly safe for the taxpayers. This security was fully provided by the Bill. As the Treasury was to be an assenting party to every case of commutation, the objection that had been taken did not hold good.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN (Worcestershire, E.)
said, the right hon. Gentleman had a confidence in the Treasury which he could not expect to be shared by unofficial Members. He 1728 hoped the President of the Board of Trade had given attention to this discussion, and in particular to the remarks made by the hon. Member for Shropshire. As he understood the contention of the right hon. Gentleman and his colleague, it was that the cesspayers in Ireland had found these tramways to impose an intolerable burden upon themselves; and he trusted the President of the Board of Trade would bear in mind that piece of information in the discussion of his own Light Railways Bill, and would not impose an equally intolerable burden upon the ratepayers in the English constituencies.
§ MR. BROMLEY DAVENPORT (Cheshire, Macclesfield)
said, he hoped that no redemption of the Government guarantee would take place except with the consent of a large majority—say two-thirds—of shareholders.
§ Progress reported.