HC Deb 05 December 1922 vol 159 cc1584-5

1.—(2) The appointed day for the transfer in relation to Northern Ireland of the powers, which by the principal Act are made powers of the Council of Ireland, shall he such day as may hereafter be fixed by Order in Council not being earlier than the day on which any such identical Acts as aforesaid come into operation or the expiration of the period of five years from the passing of this Act, whichever may first happen.

Lords Amendment:

At the end of paragraph 1 (2) insert: Provided that the appointed day for the purposes of so much of Section ten of the principal Acts as enacts that 'the rates, fares, tolls, dues and other charges directed by the Minister of Transport under the Ministry of Transport Act, 1919, and in force on the appointed day, may be charged until fresh provision shall be made by the Council of Ireland, or the Parliament of the United Kingdom, with regard to the amount of any such rates, fares, tolls, dues and other charges' shall he the date of the passing of this Act; bin until such fresh provision is made, the Railway and Canal Commission shall have the like power of modifying such charges in Northern Ireland as is by Section sixty of the Railways Act, 1921, conferred on the rates tribunal as respects railways in Great Britain.


I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This is an Amendment, in regard to which I must ask for tin indulgence of the House while I make a rather intricate explanation. The position is, that under the Ministry of Transport Act, 1919, power was given to the Ministry of Transport to sanction certain fares and charges on railways. That power extended over a maximum period of 3½ years from the passing of the Act, and that time comes to an end on the 15th February, 1923. By the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, provision was made for continuing these charges until the Parliament of the United Kingdom or the Council of Ireland made any alteration, and the way in which it was done was by enacting that the rates in force at the appointed day should continue in force until the Council or Parliament made an alteration. We have, as the House will remember, altered the date of the appointed day, and the appointed day now is at least five years off, unless Northern and Southern Ireland otherwise agree. The result will be that the appointed day will not come before 1928, and the powers of the Ministry expire in February, 1923. Therefore, what would happen would be that on the 15th February, 1923, all the rates which have been fixed for Irish railways, and under which they are now operating, would automatically come to an end, and they would go back to pre-War rates. However desirable that might be for the people of Ireland, it would spell immediate bankruptcy for all the railways. It is in order to prevent that, that these words are inserted, which keep the rates in existence, and also protect the users of the railways, because, as the House will see, we are giving to the Railway and Canal Commission, the same power to modify the rates until the Parliament of the United Kingdom legislates, as the Rates Tribunal has in this country under similar circumstances. It is really to prevent an unfortunate mistake which crept in through the alteration of the meaning of the words "appointed day," without having worked out what effect that would have under the Act of 1919. I hope that this explanation, which I admit is a complicated one, is intelligible to the House.

Question put, and agreed to.