50. Captain BALFOUR
asked the Minister of Transport if he is aware that for many years past the local authority at Ramsgate have in the interest of the 958 public safety issued licences in respect to boats carrying less than 12 passengers and also to boatmen under Section 94 of the Public Health Acts (Amendment) Act, 1907; and for what reason the Ministry of Transport, through the harbour master at Ramsgate, allow boats, including speed boats, carrying less than 12 passengers, to ply for hire from Ramsgate Harbour without a licence from the local authority and at the same time impose a charge of 2d. for each passenger carried, and also allow unlicensed boatmen to navigate such craft?
§ The MINISTER of TRANSPORT (Mr. Herbert Morrison)
I am aware of the powers of local authorities to license pleasure boats and boatmen under the Act referred to, but I have no special information with regard to the action taken by the Ramsgate Corporation in this direction. As regards the latter part of the question, under Section 33 of the Harbours, Docks and Piers Clauses Act, 1847, the harbour must be kept open to all persons for the embarking and landing of passengers subject to payment of the authorised rates and to the other provisions of the Act. In the circumstances I do not appear to have power to prevent boats and boatmen which comply with these conditions from using the harbour, and it would appear to be for the corporation themselves to use such powers as they may possess for enforcing the provisions of Section 94 of the Act of 1907.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that his employé, the harbour master of Ramsgate, definitely flouts the right of the local authority to license or to grant permits to any boats plying for hire in the harbour?
§ Mr. MORRISON
I cannot say whether that is so or not. It will partly depend on whether the officer in question has a right to exercise a certain amount of independent jurisdiction, irrespective of the local authority; but if the hon. and gallant Member has any points of detail and communicates them to me. I shall look into them.