HC Deb 14 May 1896 vol 40 cc1310-4

On the order for the Second Reading of this Bill,

MR. J. J. CLANCY (Dublin Co., N.)

moved that it be read a Second time that day six months. He said the Bill had been introduced for the purpose of legalising certain deviations from the drainage scheme sanctioned in 1892, and also for the purpose of supplying additional money to continue the works then authorised by Parliament. He was aware that Bills of this kind were frequently passed, but that ought only to be done in connection with cases where ordinary care had been taken to carry out the scheme as originally authorised, and where there had been no reckless action on the part of the promoters. He was afraid that the conduct of those in charge of the works at Blackrock and Kingstown was open to a good deal of criticism, and the House ought to pause before sanctioning any further proceedings until a guarantee had been obtained that the works proposed, as well as the works that had already been executed, were really suitable for the purpose in view. He was aware of the inexpediency of opposing Bills of this kind, because, if it were defeated, the expenditure of £50,000 or £60,000 already incurred would be rendered useless, and if the question to be considered were only the legalisation of the deviations to which he had referred, he should hardly have felt justified in making this Motion. The Bill authorised the raising of additional capital to the extent of £12,000 for the work to be dealt with. If the original estimate had only been exceeded after careful consideration, he would have been willing to assent to the use of any additional capital required to complete the scheme. But from personal knowledge he could say that the works already executed had been done in such an imperfect manner that he thought the House ought not to pass the Bill legalising the deviations, and the raising of additional capital unless some guarantee were given that the works would be satisfactorily carried out. The object of the Bill of 1893 was to clear the foreshore between Blackrock and Kingstown of the pollution caused by sewage in that district. To effect this a large tank had been constructed near Kingstown, but, as anybody could see who had been there, as he had, at ebb-tide, the pollution immediately in front of the tank had been aggravated instead of removed, and nothing effectual had been done to remove the sewage at this particular part of the coast. A gentleman who had accompanied him on his visit to the place had taken some photographs on the spot, and he thought that if the right hon. Gentleman could see these he would be convinced that, if the works were finished, as he was informed they were, the object they were designed to secure had not been attained. If the House passed this Bill, therefore, its effect would simply be to perpetuate a nuisance at this particular part of the coast. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would satisfy himself on this point before he gave his sanction to the passing of the Bill. If the £20,000 to be raised was to be applied to remedy the existing state of things, his objection to the Bill would be to a large extent removed, but he understood that it was not to be expended in removing the pollution on the part of the foreshore of which he had been speaking. He was told on excellent authority, also, that other parts of the coast lower down were in a similarly bad state, for the effect of this Bill would be to leave them just as they were, unless some guarantee were obtained to secure the construction of the works proposed in the Act of 1893. He invited the Solicitor General for Ireland to repeat in that House the language he used when he was counsel in the action brought against the Joint Drainage Board in respect of deviations to which he had referred, for that language was a stronger condemnation of the state of things existing than any which he had himself used. He suggested to the right hon. Gentleman that, in order to secure what he had been arguing for, there should be inserted in the Bill a clause providing that it should not take effect until a certificate had been obtained from some competent authority, like the Chief Engineer of the Board of Works, and the works sanctioned by the Act of 1893 had been completed and were sufficient and suitable for their purpose. The inhabitants of Kingstown were of opinion that unless some course of this kind were taken, the state of things would be worse than they were before the Act, and they desired to obtain some guarantee on the point before the Bill was allowed to go further.

MR. W. FIELD (Dublin, St. Patrick)

said he desired to address a few observations to the House as a resident and large taxpayer in the locality which was affected by this Bill. The hon. Gentleman who had just sat down (Mr. Clancy) had alluded to various details, as to which he thought he must have been misinformed. He had spoken of the interest taken by the ratepayers of Kingstown in preserving the foreshore from pollution. The ratepayers of Kingstown had had it in their power for years to carry out their scheme, and they had neglected to do so. Not only had they done that, but they had refused to co-operate with the Blackrock Commissioners with regard to any scheme. So far from the works being completed, there was an interregnum in the operations, arising from the fact that a harbour was to be built for the use of the poor fishermen, by order of the Board of Works. Great improvement had taken place in the foreshore from the sea point to Blackrock. So far as he was individually and personally concerned he regretted exceedingly the enormous expenditure which the project had involved. He was in favour of the Bill because he thought it was the opinion of the majority of the inhabitants of the district that there should be no further delay in carrying out these works merely because a technical error had been committed.


said, that he should be glad to give any assistance he could to the House in this matter, but he hoped that he should be excused from entering into the mere technical part of the subject. The Bill was a very simple one. The Blackrock and Kingstown Drainage Board, soon after they commenced to carry out the works authorised by the Act, found that they had overstepped the limits of deviation authorised by the Measure, and a suit was consequently entered against them by the Attorney General for Ireland. An agreement was, however, entered into by which the suit was suspended until the Board should have an opportunity of applying to the House for additional powers of deviation. The question involved matters of considerable technical detail—first, as to whether the deviation in question was really illegal; and secondly, whether, if it was illegal, the conduct of the Board had been so ill-advised and reckless as to preclude Parliament from passing this ex post facto Measure for giving them relief and sanction for the deviation already made. It was quite impossible for the House to go into these technical details, in regard to which photographs of sewage tanks would have to be examined, which could be far better done by a Committee than by the House itself. The hon. Gentleman had thrown out one suggestion for his consideration—namely, that if this Bill were sent down to him as unopposed, a clause should be inserted requiring that a certificate should be obtained from a competent authority that the works as finally proposed to be carried out were proper and efficient. That suggestion of the hon. Gentleman would receive his careful attention in the case of no petition being presented against the Bill, and it coming down, to him as an unopposed Bill. He thought he should be acting rightly in these circumstances in asking the House to follow the ordinary course with regard to this Bill, and, after having read the Measure a second time, to send it before a Committee upstairs, which would have an opportunity of carefully considering its proposals.

MR. JAMES O'CONNOR (Wicklow, W.)

said that the Main Drainage Board of Blackrock and Kingstown had had their powers conferred upon them by their Act of 1893, and this Bill had been introduced to protect them from the consequences of their illegal and reckless action. The Board had promoted their Bill in 1892, when, in consequence of their non-compliance with the Standing Orders of the House, the ratepayers had suffered a loss of £1,000 through their incompetency. The passing of the Bill in 1893 cost the ratepayers an additional sum of £10,000, and a further loss of £2,500 was sustained in consequence of the Board issuing a loan at 98 per cent. instead of at par. The Board now came to the House for power to raise £12,000 to make good that loss. He considered that a most atrocious and egregious act of illegality had been perpetrated. Why should the ratepayers of Blackrock be called upon to pay the expenses of promoting this further Bill? to enable their representatives to escape the consequence of illegal proceedings. He said that the House ought, in justice to the ratepayers, to see that the expenses of this Bill should be divided between the Main Drainage Board and the two Townships.


said after the undertaking given he should withdraw his opposition.

Bill read a Second time, and committed.

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