HC Deb 30 March 1900 vol 81 cc809-11

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether the Board of Trade have recently handed over to Lord Midleton a portion of the foreshore of the Midleton River at Ballinacurra, County Cork, and whether any communication was made to the Cork Harbour Board before this was done; whether it is the practice of the Board of Trade before alienating foreshore to first offer it to the harbour authority or to communicate with that authority, and why this practice was departed from in the present case; whether, as regards the portion of foreshore now given up to Lord Midleton, the Cork Harbour Board had, in or about the year 1884, come to an arrangement with Lord Midleton (who then claimed it) to take a lease of it from him, but were prevented from doing so by the Board of Trade refusing its consent to the lease; whether the Board of Trade are aware that this foreshore has been commonly used by the public for many years, and that any value which it now has arises from the fact that it has been reclaimed by the Harbour Board by depositing rubbish on it; and why, in these circumstances, they handed over the foreshore to Lord Midleton.


The Board of Trade have recently sold to Lord Midleton the Crown right in a piece of land which was formerly foreshore of the Midleton River at Ballinacurra. No communication was addressed to or received from the Cork Harbour Commissioners in this matter prior to an offer to sell having been made to Lord Midleton. It is the usual practice of the Board to consult harbour authorities before dealing with land below high water mark within their jurisdiction, but in the present case the land was above the limit of tidal influence. In 1884 the Board declined to consent to the Harbour Commissioners taking a lease of certain foreshore in the vicinity from Lord Midleton, as it was prima facie the property of the Crown. The Board are aware that the land recently sold to Lord Midleton was formerly open to the public, but they have no information as to its having been reclaimed by the Harbour Commissioners, and the Board gave no permission to the Commissioners to deposit rubbish thereon. As Lord Midleton claimed the ownership of the land in question, and wished to utilise it for developing local trade, the Board of Trade decided to convey to him the rights of the Crown, thereby avoiding the risk of expensive litigation.


Did not the interference of the Board of Trade in this matter deprive the authorities of land which they would otherwise have acquired?


I can only say we took what we believed to be the most beneficial course.


Why did not the Board of Trade communicate with the local authorities in the usual manner?


The practice of the Board of Trade is invariably to communicate with the local authorities when it is a question of land below high water mark. But this was above high water mark.


So is all land that is any good.


Is it not the fact that the Cork Harbour Commissioners protested against the sale more than twelve months ago? Did they not say that attempts to improve the land would be in vain while it was in private ownership?

MR. FLYNN (Cork, N.)

Why was this preference given to Lord Midleton? Does the right hon. Gentleman know?


Aye, does he know?


Yes, I do know. Lord Midleton claimed that this land was his and not the Crown's; and after taking legal advice we came to the conclusion that, in order to prevent long, expensive, and probably fruitless litigation, we would give way.

MR. HAYDEN (Roscommon, S.)

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the land is claimed by the Cork Harbour Board——


Order, order! It is impossible to follow this matter further in question and answer.


This is a flagrant job; and we shall call attention to the matter on the Estimates.


Is it intended to take any steps to protect the public interest?


Order, order!