§ DR. COMMINS (Cork Co., S. E.)
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury (1) whether his attention has been called to the position occupied by the Deputy Collector of Customs for the port of Kinsale, who, in addition to his office as Collector of Customs, holds that of Receiver of Port Dues and Local Rates of the same place, in a suit instituted by the Board of Works against the local authorities of that port and town; (2) whether Kinsale is the only port in the United Kingdom where the Collector or Deputy Collector of Customs is permitted to hold an office not subject to the control of the Customs Authorities nor responsible to them; (3) whether he is aware that complaints have been made by merchants of the port of the manner in which the Deputy Collector has discharged his double functions, imposing (as it is alleged) obstructions to the trade of the port, and calculated to cause vessels having cargo either to discharge or receive, to go to Courtmacsherry, or some other neighbouring port; whether it has been specially alleged that the Deputy Collector has subjected the clearing of vessels to new regulations, and withdrawn from local merchants facilities for such clearing which they have hitherto enjoyed; (4) and whether the Government intends to institute an inquiry as to the grounds of these complaints, and to remove them if they be well founded?
§ SIR J. T. HIBBERT
(1) In reply to the first question, I beg to say the Principal Officer of Customs at Kinsale is Receiver of the Harbour Dues but not of the Town Rates. (2) The answer to the second paragraph of the question is in the negative. (3) In order to enforce the proper payment of the Harbour Dues, in which the Exchequer is directly interested, the officer has been authorised to exercise the powers under Section 48 of the Act 10 Vic., chapter 27, of refusing clearance to vessels until harbour dues have been paid. Similar powers are in force elsewhere, and have not been found injurious, and the Board of Works do not anticipate any loss to the harbour revenue in this instance. I am not aware that complaints have been received from local merchants, nor can I imagine that the restriction could be considered a grievance by any honest trader. (4) If the harbour authorities have any grievance it is open to them to bring it before the Court in the Receiver Suit with a view to having the restriction withdrawn.