HC Deb 05 July 1897 vol 50 cc1091-3

MR. J. W. LOWTHER (CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS) moved:— That all petitions against the Pilotage Provisional Order Bill presented three clear days before the meeting of the Committee on the Bill be referred to the Committee; that the petitioners praying to be heard by themselves, their counsel or agents, be heard against the Bill, and counsel heard in support of the Bill.

MR. T. M. HEALY (Louth, N.)

said the Motion imposed upon the Board of Trade the duty of reconsidering their position in regard to the Bill. This Bill appeared with the name of the President of the Board of Trade, and that of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury upon it, and they consented to the Bill on the understanding that it was practically unopposed. Now it appeared, and very properly so, as an opposed Bill, by the action of the Chairman of Ways and Means himself. He would therefore put it to the President of the Board of Trade whether they would persist in going on with the Bill, which proposed to enable another body to enter the Port of Rosslare without paying the pilotage fees they had always paid, and thus take away from the Wexford pilots the rights to pilotage duties for vessels entering Rosslare Harbour, which they had established to them by the Act of 1874. No doubt when the Board of Trade made this Provisional Order they thought it was practically unopposed. Now it turned out there was keen opposition, and he thought it was really too bad that the Provisional Order system should be prostituted to take away the rights which had never previously been taken away except by a public or private Bill. The Chairman of Ways and Means had put down a Motion to enable these pilots to be heard by counsel; but he contended that the procedure was an entire change of the system of Provisional Orders to put these poor men to that enormous expense, and set them to oppose the wealthy people who owned the Rosslare Harbour, who, he believed, were the London and North-Western Railway Company. It was against the very principle of a Provisional Order, which was that it should be practically unopposed. If it had been brought in as a Private Bill, notices would have had to be issued, and the Committee would, as a matter of course, have had to bear the opposition of the pilots, who were having the bread taken out of their mouths by a powerful syndicate. He thought the time had conic when the House should consider as a whole the means by which wealthy syndicates were able to prevail to bear down important interests that were only precariously protected by the action of individual private representatives in that House, and that the Board of Trade should never have allowed this Bill. It was a scandal, and an illustration once more of the way in which Irish private business was dealt with on this side. Yet they wondered why Irishmen wanted Home Rule! He wished the President of the Board of Trade to withdraw this Bill, and not to give his sanction to the action of his Department in regard to it.


said the hon. Member, in language by no means moderate, characterised the action of the Board of Trade in regard to this matter as being altogether upprecedented, and he had given them an entirely novel version of the system of Provisional Orders. He seemed to think that system was intended solely for Bills which were practically agreed; but in that he was entirely wrong. If it was not common that these Bills should have to go before a Committee, it was not an infrequent thing, and it was not to be held that because separate interests could not be reconciled—


Will the right hon. Gentleman quote an example?


said the examples were not comparatively numerous.


Will the right hon. Gentleman name a single one?


repeated that the hon. Member showed great ignorance of the Provisional Order system. It was not intended solely for agreed Bills, but to make it easier to get passed through the House Measures of general utility where there was no great matter of public interest concerned. In this case there was no compensation proposed for the pilots, and he (Mr. Ritchie) agreed to an Instruction proposed by the hon. Member for Mayo (Mr. Dillon) that the question of compensation should be considered. The Chairman of Committees endeavoured to reconcile the two parties, but he could not do so, mid the Bill had therefore to go before his Select Committee, where the objections could be considered. he saw no reason Why in regard to this Bill any but the usual course should be taken, and why the Motion should not pass.

Motion agreed to.