HC Deb 05 July 1897 vol 50 cc1084-90

Order for Third Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."

MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland) moved to leave out the words "now Read the Third time," and to add the words "re-committed to the former Committee." He said he was glad to state that, as the promoters had intimated their willingness to withdraw the clauses to which objection was taken, the Debate on this Motion would be greatly curtailed. The Bill had been petitioned against by the Corporation of Liverpool and by several important bodies whose interests would be affected if it passed into law in its present shape. Last year a Bill was, in spite of the protests of Irish Members, passed, called the Liverpool Cattle Market Act, and one of its conditions was that the Stanley Market should not be closed until two years after the completion of -the new market at Bootle, and of the new landing stage in connection with that market. What he complained of was that the Dock Board did not carry out this proviso in the way indicated by Parliament. He did not wish to cast any blame whatever on the Dock Board, who acted, he was sure, according to their best judgment in the public interests of Liverpool, but he did complain that they adopted a somewhat one-sided attitude in the course of the discussion on the Bill. There was no desire on his part to oppose the Bill, except in so far as it proposed the erecting of the new landing stage, which would inflict serious injury on the Irish cattle trade. In the statement which had been circulated on behalf of the promoters, he thought they did not sufficiently recognise the importance of that trade. Their statement was that they were compelled to take the course they had followed, because it was their business to consider not the interests of any particular trade, but the interests of trades as a whole. As a general statement, that was quite incontestable, but it in this case showed an entirely disproportionate sense of the vast importance of the Irish trade, not only to Ireland, but to the commerce and prosperity of Liverpool. As a matter of fact, of the 200,000 cattle, sheep, and pigs sent to England every year from Ireland, no less than 40 per cent. passed through Liverpool, and the Port of Liverpool was just as deeply interested in the preservation of that Irish cattle trade as were the people engaged in it. He complained that by this Bill the Dock Board not only put the cart before the horse, but put the wrong cart before the wrong horse. The cattle traders maintained that the condition in the Liverpool Cattle Market Act of last year, which had been quoted, meant that the new market should be completed, and not the stage, for two years before the Stanley Market was closed; but what was proposed by this Bill was that the money should be expended on the completion of the landing place before the market was taken in hand. He must say he agreed with the objection to a cattle market such as that at Liverpool was being put in private hands. Everybody knew that a syndicate of influential and wealthy citizens in Liverpool had been formed for the purpose of financing the market. He thought the House would be very unwise to depart from the principle that market accommodation should be in the hands of a community. The whole tendency of opinion in Liverpool was, instead of increasing the hold of private enterprise over market accommodation, to withdraw it from private hands, and to put it in the hands of the municipality; and he held that the Dock Board were taking a retrograde step in recognising a market under private control. Furthermore, he held that if a new market and new landing place were to be erected the very last place to be selected for a landing place was that proposed, as it would involve the Irish steamers landing their cattle at one stage and their passengers and their perishable goods at another, whereas both were now done at the Prince's floating stage much more conveniently and more expeditiously and with less suffering to cattle. He was not concerned to deny that the Third Reading Stage of the Bill was not the most convenient point at which to raise objections, but the Corporation of Liverpool did its best in the House of Lords to get a locus standi, and its claim was denied, while the steamship companies could get a locus only on the question of tolls. He was glad to know that the Dock Board were willing to withdraw the objectionable parts, and as he lied no desire to delay the rest of the Bill he would subsequently move that the Committee have leave to sit and proceed forthwith.

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

seconded the Amendment. His principal reason for opposing the Bill was that he could not understand why the House should allow a private syndicate to introduce a monopolist system—the curse of every country, especially in regard to its food supply—into Liverpool. Had that fact been known to the House the Bill of last year would never have passed its Second Reading. The parties with whom he had acted in this matter had no desire to interfere in any way with the Dock Board's management, but they thought they had a right to interfere when that board interfered with the Irish trade. He thanked the President of the Board of Agriculture for his timely intervention, and he was glad that the Corporation of Liverpool had at the last hour helped them. Had they taken the proper steps in due time, the Bill would never have reached its present stage.


supported the Amendment. He said that in doing so he did not in the smallest degree fail to realise the undesirability-, as a general rule, on the part of the House as a whole offering opposition to Measures that had fome from the Committees; but he had celt, whether he had approached that question from an Imperial point of view as President of the Board of Agriculture, or from the local point of view as one of the Members for Liverpool, that this was a Bill distinct altogether from the general cases. The previous speakers had omitted to refer to one fact which he thought was of sufficient importance to be brought under the notice of the House—viz., that when the Bill was brought before the Committee of the House of Lords applications were made for a locus standi in order that evidence in opposition to the proposal might be heard, but these applications were declined. When the Bill came down to this House the opponents thought it would be waste of time to repeat the application. He confessed he regretted that they did not try their fortunes a second time—["hear, hear!]—for he could not help thinking that they would have had an opportunity of stating their views in opposition to the proposal. It was quite true that the powers possessed by the Liverpool New Cattle Market Company were conferred upon them by the Act of 1896, and that by this Bill the Board proposed to carry out an obligation which the board believed that Act of 1896 created on their part, on which they were not consulted. Circumstances bad materially altered since the Act of 1896. There was no doubt that the proviso about two years, to which reference had been made, was inserted to secure protection of the interests of the cattle trade of Ireland by preventing the old market being closed until not only the new market had been opened, but proper access provided in the form of a convenient landing place. No steps, however, had been taken since then to create the new market, though application was made by this Bill to provide the new landing place, and it was urged by the opponents that this proposal would give the proprietors of the new market an unfair advantage. The Corporation of Liverpool—whether they ought or ought not to have moved earlier in the matter—now offered a strenuous opposition to the Bill. He hoped they would make it their business to provide a suitable market, both from the trading and the humanitarian points of view, in the city of Liverpool. ["Hear, hear!"] Certainly the House had times without number affirmed the cardinal principle that such institutions should be vested in municipal authorities, who were responsible for the prosperity of the community. Therefore if the Corporation were prepared, as he hoped they were, themselves to make proper provision—although he admitted that this might involve some hardship to those connected with the original Act—in the interests of the whole community he hoped the House would accept the amendment, which had been accepted by the promoters.


thought there ought to be some assurance given by some representatives of the city of Liverpool—or by Sir Arthur Forwood, who he understood, was connected with the syndicate in question—that the syndicate was willing to accept the arrangement which had been arrived at between the opponents of the Bill and the Dock Board.

SIR A. FORWOOD (Lancashire, Ormskirk)

, assured the House that he had no interest, directly or indirectly, in the syndicate referred to. He would like to assure the House that the Corporation of Liverpool and the Dock Board had given proper consideration to the subject now before the House. There were very good reasons for the Dock Board endeavouring to carry out the proposal in the Bill. It was true that there was one convenient landing stage for the purpose of ocean traffic, but it was also true that that stage was now largely used for landing steamers from Atlantic and other ocean-going steamers, and he could conceive nothing more objectionable than three or four hundred passengers landing from an Atlantic steamer in conjunction with pigs, sheep, and cattle from Ireland. It was particularly to avoid that that the Dock Board proposed this new landing place. Then the House also should know that the new market would have been only half the distance from the landing stage that the present market was. As to another point which had been raised—that of monopoly—the existing market was a monopoly in private hands, and had never been in the hands of the Corporation.

*MR. WARR (Liverpool, E. Toxteth)

, on behalf of the promoters, said that they were willing to accept the Amendment. The Dock Board, in seeking by this Bill to obtain powers for the construction of the landing stage at Bootle, thought that they were merely carrying out a condition which had been imposed by Parliament in passing the Bill of the preceding Session. They thought that Parliament then sanctioned the principle of the establishment of the cattle market tit Bootle after having made full inquiries by Committee of both Houses, without, so far as he knew, an expression of disapproval by the Corporation of Liverpool, and after the trailers, who now raised objections to this Bill, had been heard; in fact, the Dock Board thought they would have been open to sonic censure if they had not taken measures to carry out what they believed Parliament had in principle approved. However, now that it appeared that the Corporation of Liverpool, the traders, and particularly the Board of Agriculture were opposed to the Bill, the Dock Board thought that their proper course was to withdraw the clauses objected to. In carrying out what they thought was the intention of Parliament, they were only actuated by one consideration, and that was what was best for the commerce of the country and the port of Liverpool. ["Hear, hear!"] He was quite satisfied that if an opportunity had been given to the Corporation of Liverpool and to the Irish traders to appear before the Committee they would have had no doubt whatever on the subject, and would have been convinced that the Dock Board had no idea of interfering with the Irish Cattle Trade.

MR. J. M. PAULTON (Durham, Bishop Auckland)

said that he wished it to be clearly understood that the Corporation of Liverpool had made no application whatever for a locus standi in the House of Commons. The only petition before the Court of Referees was from the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company. The Corporation of Liverpool therefore were not refused a hearing on the Bill, because they did not apply for one. They could not claim that they were unjustly treated in being refused a hearing for which they never applied.

Motion agreed to.

MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland) moved: That it be an Instruction to the Committee that they do strike out of the Bill all powers in relation to the proposed pier or jetty and other works described in Clause 3. Subsection (c), of the Bill, awl to the passage or runway described in Clause 5 of the Bill, and to the taking of lands and the raising of money for those purposes.

Motion agreed to.

Further ordered, That the Committee have leave to sit and proceed forthwith.—(Mr. T. P. O'Connor.)