§ Considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ [Mr. J. W. LOWTHER, (Cumberland, Penrith) in the Chair.]
§ Clauses 1 to 6 agreed to.
§ MR. FLYNN (Cork, N.)
said that the only Act under which the Treasury Commissioners could advance money for public works in Ireland was an Act of William, dated 1831, and that Act limited the power of the Commissioners to advancing at 4 percent. for twenty-five years. Quite recently the Treasury had accepted only 2½ per cent. for certain loans in England, and he desired to move the clause of which he had given notice in order that the example of more recent times might be followed in regard to Ireland.
Notwithstanding anything in The Public Works (Ireland) Act, 1831, or any Act amending the same to the contrary, any advance by the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland, under such Acts for the extension and promotion of public works in Ireland, including railways, may be made at such rate of interest not less than three per centum and for such period and upon such terms and conditions as subject to the approval of the Commissioners of His Majesty's Treasury may be determined by the said Commissioners of Public Works."—(Mr. Flynn.)
§ Brought up, and read the first time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed. "That the clause be read a second time."850
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
said that on behalf of the Treasury he could not accept the responsibility the hon. Member proposed to place upon them. The loans at less than 4 per cent. were almost exclusively loans on the guarantee of local rates, and even those, in the present state of the money market, and with the conditions under which the money was raised, had to be, at the very lowest, at 3¼ per cent., and for longer terms of years 3½ or 3¾ per cent. The cases the hon. Member had in mind were certain Irish railways, made primarily as business concerns for profit, and not at all for similar purposes to those for which loans were granted on the guarantee of local rates. The one exception was in regard to the Light Railways Act. The amount set aside for light railways in this country was a limited sum, and it was for the purpose of developing agricultural districts which had been in great difficulties, and in whose development there was a national interest. The case the hon. Member had privately brought under his notice was receiving consideration, but it was on an entirely different footing. It was the case of a railway built rather for excursion traffic than anything else, and its difficulties were not altogether foreign to bad or unsuccessful management in the past. He hoped the Amendment would not be pressed.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
said that, although in one afternoon they voted £23,000,000 for the Navy and £20,000,000 for the Army, the Treasury would not agree to this proposal, which had for its object the enabling of a small railway in the South of Ireland to obtain cheap borrowing terms. He would be loyal to Singapore or Hong Kong, but he had great difficulty in being loyal to an Irish money lender, even though he came from London. £2,000,000 were to be lent at 3 per cent. to people living in places discovered yesterday in order that they might send their telegrams cheaply by the Pacific cable, but to a paying country like Ireland, discovered 3,000 years ago and from which England obtained £10,000,000 a year in taxes, not a penny 851 would be given, or if any money was lent interest at the rate of 4 or 5 per cent. was insisted on. Only countries the natives of which word waist-bands appealed to the Government. It seemed to him that a waist-band was the sole link which bound the colonies to the mother country. He thought that, seeing that money was now so cheap, when the policy of the Colonial Secretary had brought Consols down from 113 to about 92, it was only reasonable to expect that the small and humble proposal of the hon. Member should have been accepted.
§ SIR JAMES HASLETT
said that many Members would be glad if the Financial Secretary could see his way to reconsider his decision in this case. He was afraid that in times past loans had been made to Ireland and had had to be written off, but he hoped the credit of that country was now in a more satisfactory condition.
§ made to him, but he wished it to be distinctly understood that he made no bargain that the terms already offered in regard to repayment or interest should be reduced.
§ Motion and clause, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Bill reported without amendment; to be read the third time to-morrow.