§ MR. FFRENCH (Wexford, S.)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the Wexford County Council at a recent meeting unanimously passed a resolution expressing the opinion that the system of levying dues on the net registered tonnage of steamships is detrimental to the best interests of the harbours of Ireland; and whether the Government is prepared to alter the law so as to enable Harbour Commissioners to levy dues on the gross tonnage.
§ * THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE (Mr. GERALD BALFOUR,) Leeds, Central
Yes, Sir, I am aware of the resolution to which the hon. Member refers, but as at present advised, I do not propose to take steps to alter the present law of tonnage measurement which is international. It is, of course, open to Harbour Commissioners to endeavour to obtain powers to levy dues on the gross tonnage by means of local Acts. Such powers have, I am informed, been already obtained in several places, notably in Scotland.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
Did I under stand the right hon. Gentleman to say the system now in vogue in this country is international?
§ * MR. GERALD BALFOUR
It is obviously in the public interest there should be as little friction as possible, and with this object it is desirable to consult the parties interested.