HC Deb 20 February 1896 vol 37 cc780-2

This is a small local Bill, and one entirely of a non-contentious character. At any rate it is one of no Party character, as a similar one was brought in by my predecessor, Sir John Hibbert, last year. It is a Bill which I feel bound to bring in early in the Session, because it is to give effect to an agreement which was entered into by the late Government so far back as September, 1894. They were not able to carry the Bill through last year on account of the early Dissolution. Put very briefly, the facts of the case are these. Up to within a short time ago the navigation of the Boyne was divided into two parts and in the hands of two separate bodies. The upper portion, which is about five miles long, was in the hands of the River Boyne Company, and the lower portion, about 12 miles long, was in the hands of the Irish Board of Works. Neither of those halves pay. The upper part incurred only a small annual loss. The other portion shows a deficit of about £115 a year in addition to the expenses incurred in the superintendence of the work by the officials of the Board of Works. The River Boyne Company would have had to incur a considerable amount of expense in order to keep their portion in repair, and, if something had not been done to meet them, the probability, the almost certainty, would have been that that portion of the navigation would have been closed. The Government was unable to increase its responsibilities and take over a further portion of a line of canal which was not paying, and we were faced with the difficulty that possibly the navigation would be closed altogether, with, of course, serious detriment to the people of the locality. Seeing the possibility of the closing of the canal, some of the merchants of Drogheda and Navan, and the Drogheda Steamship Company, have formed a new company called the Boyne River Navigation Company, which was to buy both the share of the Government and of the Boyne Company. But a condition of the arrangement was—they having a capital of £5,000 themselves—that the Government should contribute the sum of £3,000. An agreement to that effect was entered into by the late Government nearly 18 months ago, and I have introduced the Bill now in the hope of getting it through before the end of the financial year in order that the agreement may be given effect to, and that the money provided in the Estimates this year may be fairly paid over in order to meet the expenses which have already been incurred by the Company to which both of these portions of the old Navigation have been handed over. I believe it is a Bill which is for the good of the public pocket, for I think we shall effect a distinct saving on this arrangement, and it is certainly for the benefit of the people of the locality. It is incumbent upon us to bring in this Bill because it gives effect to an agreement which has been formally entered into by the Treasury. I hope under these circumstances, that, at this stage of the Bill, there will be no opposition to it.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Hanbury and Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer; presented accordingly, and read 1a; to be read 2a upon Thursday 5th March, and to be printed.—[Bill 96.]