HC Deb 06 July 1931 vol 254 cc1803-35

The bridge and other works by this Act authorised shall not be commenced until a local Act has been passed authorising the construction of suitable training walls for the protection of the navigation of the River Humber and containing a provision requiring such training walls to be constructed simultaneously with the construction of the bridge.—[Mr. T. Smith.]

Brought up, and read the First time.


I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

It may be unfortunate that such an important Debate as the Coal Mines Bill should be interrupted by a discussion with regard to this bridge over the River Humber, but I make no apology for the action that I have taken with regard to this Bill, although I want to say quite frankly that I know that a good many hon. Members of this House believe that the Humber Bridge is necessary in order to link up the two coun- ties and to find work for the unemployed. Although I appreciate that they are extremely anxious to get this Bill passed into law, I hope they will at least give me the credit for being equally sincere in stating the point of view of my constituency with regard to it. In order to understand the objection to this Bill by the Port of Goole, one must have some regard to the situation of that port. The Port of Goole is to-day the eleventh port in the country. It has made tremendous progress during the last 50 years. Its population in 1881 was 450, and at the census in 1921 it was approximately 20,000. It handles in the course of a year, according to the returns of the Board of Trade, imports and exports to the value of £30,000,000. It is the nearest port to the South Yorkshire coal field and to the manufacturing district of the West Riding, and therefore it behoves a port like Goole, being 47 miles from the North Sea and 24 miles inland from Hull, to watch very carefully that nothing is done by this House or by anybody else to obstruct or impede the passage of boats from Goole to the North Sea.

Rightly or wrongly, there is a unanimous opinion in Goole against this Bill. It is not merely concerned with Tories and Liberals; it is Labour supporters as well. It is not merely employers; it is employés as well. I have had resolutions from practically every organised body in the Port of Goole against this Bill, and I have not had a single postcard or been approached in any way to support the Bill. A remarkable contrast can be shown so far as the enthusiasm of Goole against the bridge is concerned, in the apathy of the people of Hull when a poll was taken some time ago. Hull, out of an electorate of 140,000, managed to get about 12,000 people to vote in favour of the Bill; Goole, which is sometimes referred to as Sleepy Hollow, was wide enough awake on this occasion to get more than 10,600 signatures against the bridge out of a population of 20,000. Some 81.3 per cent. of the local government electors registered their protest against this bridge, and I mention that in order to show that my action as Member of Parliament for the Pontefract Division has been dictated by the feeling in Goole against this bridge.

Goole's objection can be stated very simply and very shortly. Goole is not opposed to the bridge as a bridge; that is to say, if it was possible to span the river without any piers at all, Goole would not have objected. There are two main objections to the Bill. First of all, the number of piers will make it more dangerous for ships to pass to and fro; the other objection is the effect of these piers on the channels of the river. The first objection has largely been met. The Committee, which sat for 32 days upstairs, and of which the Chairman, the hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Raynes), said it was perhaps unique in the history of Select Committees, laid it down that the two anchor spans should be widened to a distance of 470 feet each and that the headway of the other span should be raised. So far as that objection goes, it has been met to a certain extent by the insistence of the Committee that these spans should be widened. With regard to the other objection, the promoters of the Bill have sent round an ex parte statement, which says this: The Bill was opposed before the Committee of the House of Commons by a number of petitioners, mainly on the ground that the bridge would render navigation of the river more difficult and might, it was suggested, cause silting or other interference with the river and thus have a detrimental effect upon the Port of Goole. The promoters called before the Committee expert evidence of the highest order to satisfy them that these fears were groundless and that no serious interference would take place with the navigation of the river and that the Port of Goole would not be affected, While it is true that expert evidence was called by the promoters on this point, it is also true that the three engineers whom they called, namely, Mr. Ralph Freeman, Sir Alexander Gibb, and Sir Cyril Kirkpatrick, stated that the deep water channel at the side of the bridge was not likely, except from abnormal causes, to shift to the south side of the river. It is perfectly true that these men are eminent civil engineers, but when cross-examined, Mr. Freeman and Sir Alexander Gibb stated that they had absolutely no experience at ail with regard to the estuaries of rivers, and Sir Cyril Kirkpatrick stated that his experience was with regard to the River Thames, which river is not in any sense comparable with the River Humber. It may be good tactics on the part of the promoters to issue an ex parte statement to Members of Parliament stating that three eminent engineers had said there was likely to be no injury to navigation, but it must also be remembered that the petitioners against the Bill called three civil engineers, who have been connected with the river the whole of their lives; and nine eminent engineers, all of whom have had experience of the River Humber, were called, and they stated that, in their opinion, injury would be done to navigation. Therefore, I contend that while you may get three eminent civil engineers with no experience of estuaries or of the difficulties of navigating the Ouse and the Humber, the three-civil engineers and nine engineers called by the petitioners have an equal right to be regarded as experts, and their opinion at least ought to be weighed against the statement made by the engineers called by the promoters.

The Committee presided over by the hon. Member for Derby had under consideration the question as to whether or not the Preamble of this Bill should be approved. As I say, rightly or wrongly, the entire township of Goole is opposed to it, and I must draw the attention of the House to the remarks made by the Chairman of the Committee when the approval of the Preamble of the Bill was given. He says: The view we express is that the construction of training walls, in our opinion, becomes essential; that their construction should go on side by side with the construction of the bridge. Later, at the same sitting of the Committee, the Chairman stated: We realise it will be necessary to reconsider the whole question of training walls in the light of the construction of the bridge, and any construction of training wails so found by the engineers to be necessary should, in our opinion, go along coterminous with the bridge. That brings us down to the wording of the Clause which I am now moving, and which states that the bridge should beheld up until such time as a local Act has been passed instituting training walls, to proceed simultaneously with the building of the bridge. The Urban District Council of Goole, when this Bill passed through Committee, thought it inadvisable to try to get the Bill defeated on its Third Reading. They are anxious for one thing and one thing only, and that is an assurance that navigation will not be injured to the detriment of the Port of Goole. Therefore, they suggested that training walls should be commenced simultaneously with the building of the bridge. I would therefore like to ask the Minister of Transport whether he could give an assurance to the objectors to this Bill that he will use his influence to call the parties together, with the one object of trying to get an agreed Measure, so far as training walls are concerned, and that such scheme will receive financial assistance from the Government, and I believe that if that can be done it will modify considerably the attitude of the objectors to this Bill when it reaches another place in the first week in November.

I, therefore, appeal to the Minister of Transport to use his good offices. I am the last in the world to try to prevent constructive work taking place. I want to see some work found for the unemployed, but in trying to initiate schemes of work for the unemployed, one must have some regard to its consequences. If it be that the fears of my constituency are well founded and that this bridge will injure navigation, it may be that while it would find work for a number of men for a limited time, it would ultimately throw more men out of work, and if that were done, it would be another example of cutting off your nose to spite your face. I want to see training walls, because I believe that they are necessary. I want to see this bridge built if it can be built without injury to the port of Goole. Goole has done its best to try and get schemes of work for the unemployed. It has initiated and put into operation eight different schemes since this Government came into office, and that is not a bad effort for an urban district with a small rateable value. I hope that my hon. Friends on this side of the House who are backing the Humber Bridge Bill, anxious though they may be to see it pass, will allow me the same sincerity in putting forward my constituents' point of view as they expect for themselves. I hope that the Minister of Transport will be able to make a declaration that will allow the Goole Urban District Council and the other objectors to modify their attitude when this Bill goes to another place. If that can be done, it will be a very happy way out of a very serious difficulty.


I beg to second the Motion.

My hon. Friend has put the case as submitted to him by his Goole constituents so well that it would be a waste of time for me to repeat any of his arguments. Moreover, the appeal to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport was such that I can scarcely imagine him failing to respond as far as it is humanly possible. I would, however, in a few sentences supplement the appeal of my hon. Friend by calling the attention of the Minister of Transport to this important fact. The port of Goole is quite near to the south and west Yorkshire coalfields, and as the new South Yorkshire coalfield develops, the port of Goole will be called upon to a far greater extent than is the case at this moment. I would remind my right hon. Friend and those who are supporting the Bill merely from the point of view of attempting to find work for the unfortunate men who are unemployed at this moment, that one of the newer South Yorkshire quarries is spending £20,000 erecting a new railway cutting to the canal, and the canal company are spending £16,000 in widening a lock, so that in future many hundreds of thousands of tons of coal, which must now be transported by rail, will take the easier journey to the Continent by the port of Goole.

A good deal of work is being found in the extensions that are taking place. I suggest therefore that, apart altogether from the very real fear which is ever-present in the minds of the business people and the workpeople of Goole from the economic point of view as to the effect on the new collieries in South Yorkshire, it would be disastrous for us to fail to provide training walls if by the mere provision of those walls navigation will in any way be affected, and the Fort of Goole able to continue to develop its business and become a real asset to the development of the coalfields in the south part of Yorkshire. For these reasons, and because I know that my right hon. Friend is a reasonably minded man who is always willing to do his best for reasonably minded people, I hope that he will respond as nobly as he can to the appeal made by my hon. Friend.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. LAMBERT WARD

The real intention of this proposed new Clause is to ask the House to disagree with the decision which was arrived at by a Select Committee of this House after very nearly three months of the most painstaking investigation. When I hear the question of training walls raised, I am reminded of the well-known proverb that there are more ways of killing a cat than by choking it with cream. The decision that a bridge across the Humber was in the interests of the locality, and furthermore that it would not in any way prejudice the navigation of the river, was only taken by the Committee after they had sat for 32 days and had listened to evidence which covers more than 800 closely printed pages. For many years the problem of providing some communication across the river Humber, other than by an obsolete ferry, has become more and more urgent. Of all the rivers that pour their waters into the North Sea, the only one that is still unbridged is the Humber. The Thames, the Tees, the Tyne, the Tweed, the Firth of Forth and the Firth of Tay—all have their bridges or tunnels at or adjacent to the mouth. Only at the Humber have we to go 70 or 80 miles inland before a crossing can be found. A direct line of communication exists up the eastern side of this country from the English Channel to the Pentland Firth, and only at the Humber is that line of communication broken.

An opportunity has occurred for remedying this truly lamentable state of affairs. The unparalleled unemployment of the last few years has rendered possible the undertaking of a work which is absolutely necessary. The well-filled coffers of the Road Fund are at hand to provide, or at any rate to subsidise, the sinews of war; after all, what could be fairer and juster than that the Road Fund, which is contributed by motorists and the motoring interests, should in its turn provide for the motorists a direct line of communication from north to south along the line of the old Roman road which for centuries has been called Ermine Street? In the old Roman days the river was crossed by a ferry which, as far as I can gather, was pretty much the same as regards efficiency as the ferry which is in use to-day. Although it is true that steam ferry boats are used, the access to the landing stages is so primitive that it is almost impossible to get on board the ferry boat a vehicle any larger than a perambulator, and when fog comes along, the ferry boats either run aground or lose themselves altogether.

The bridge which we are asking the House for power to construct will in every way be worthy of the magnitude of the stream which it is designed to span. From one end to the other it will be something over three miles in length; the actual bridge will be just over a mile and a quarter, and to avoid interfering in any way with the navigation of the river, the main navigable channel will be crossed by one large span. To avoid interfering in any way with the tidal ebb and flow of the river, that area of the river, approximately 2,000 feet in width, where the ebb and flow is the strongest, will have only two piers of the bridge in it. Therefore the obstruction which can be caused to the tidal flow is practically negligible. The central span, which is designed to cross the main navigable channel of the river, will be 900 feet in length—larger than any other bridge in the country. To many people 900 feet is a somewhat nebulous distance. May I give a simple illustration of what it means? The great central span of this proposed bridge will be wider than the entire length of Westminster Bridge. If you can imagine one end of the span where Mr. Speaker's Chair is, the other end would be at St. Thomas's Hospital in Surrey. The hon. Gentleman who moved this new Clause made a great point that this bridge would interfere with shipping and the Port of Goole. Most of the shipping that is registered for the Port of Goole could pass under that great central span at the same time.

The proposed new Clause deals largely with the question of training walls, and I may say at once that the promoters agree that training walls would greatly improve the navigability of the river. As far back as 1913, three eminent engineering experts reported that a system of training walls was necessary to maintain the navigability of the river at its best. That was before this bridge was even dreamed of. It is quite true that training walls are necessary, and that they were necessary before the bridge was con- templated, and whether the bridge is built or not does not affect one iota the necessity of those walls. In fact, many people think that it would be better to leave the training walls question until the bridge is built, because they will then be able to see whether the bridge does actually cause any divergence or any silting, which can then be remedied by the alignment of the training Walls. So confident are the promoters in this Measure that no damage will be caused to the navigation of the river in any way, that they have given a guarantee to maintain the status quo of the river. Should the channel show any sign of shifting, it is the business of the Bridge Board to maintain the channel in its existing position. Should any silt show signs of forming, it is the business of the Bridge Board to deal with it. They have implemented that guarantee in the Bill.

Clause 57, Sub-section (2) of the Measure says: If at any time after the commencement of any of the works by this Act authorised and within fifteen years after the completion of the bridge it is shown that by reason of the execution or maintenance of those works or any of them or any part thereof respectively any silting of or other interference with the river has occurred or is occurring within one mile from the bridge on the easterly side thereof or within two and a-half miles from the bridge on the westerly side thereof to such extent as to interfere or be likely to interfere materially with the proper exercise and discharge by a protected authority of their rights powers and duties it shall be the duty of the board to execute such dredging or other works as are reasonably necessary in consequence thereof.

In Clause 58 we find that the guarantee is again implemented. The words are: If at any time as a consequence of the construction of the bridge any alteration takes place in the main channel of the river to such an extent that the navigation of the river is materially prejudiced thereby the board shall take such steps for the protection of such navigation as may be agreed between the board and the Conservancy Board or as failing agreement may be deter-mined by arbitration. … If after the completion of the bridge any alteration takes place by natural causes in the situation of the main channel of the river where it is crossed by the bridge. … so that such main channel no longer passes under the main span of the bridge the board shall take such steps as may be agreed between the board and the Conservancy Board or as failing agreement may be deter- mined by arbitration for the purpose of ensuring that such main channel shall pass under the main span of the bridge.

8.0 p.m.

That is the guarantee given by the Bridge Board which, to all intents and purposes, is the great City of Hull and the county of Lincolnshire. We have the word of the City of Hull that this bridge shall not be allowed to interfere in any way with the navigation of the river Humber, and in these circumstances it seems to me that this Amendment is absolutely unnecessary. In addition, there is this great difficulty, that at present we have neither the powers nor the money to construct these training walls, and to wait until the powers were obtained and the money was forthcoming might mean waiting for many years. With unemployment so severe as it is in the northern counties, to defer this work would be not only unnecessary but actually cruel. As to what the hon. Member has said with regard to the possibility of the channel shifting, the channel at the bridge site has been stabilised for more than a century. As far as we know, and as far as any charts show, the channel has never been in any other place. The risk of the channel shifting is almost negligible, and if it did there is the guarantee of the greaty City of Hull that it will be kept in place. In conclusion, I would say that I have represented a constituency in Hull for more than 12 years, I am thoroughly acquainted with the needs of the locality, and I unhesitatingly beg the House to give a Third Beading to this Bill.


I speak on behalf of the Select Committee which for 32 strenuous Parliamentary days considered this scheme. The Committee endeavoured to examine completely and to understand thoroughly every feature of the scheme. I have heard it said that the road to Hull is paved with good intentions. There is no doubt that the promoters of this road to Hull had many difficulties to compete with in promoting this scheme. The hon. Member for North-West Hull (Sir A. Lambert Ward) has graphically described the dimensions of the central span of this bridge, and I would like to give one or two other figures. The proposed bridge will cross the Humber at a point where the water is one and a quarter miles wide. With its approaches the bridge will have a total length of three and a quarter miles. In addition to the main span of 900 feet there are two anchor spans, on either side of the main span, of 475 feet each, and there are 13 subsidiary spans of 315 to 350 feet each. The site of the bridge is just about two miles from the inland extremity of the Hull Docks. Its approximate cost is estimated at £1,790,000. It will take about three years to build. It could be begun in three months after the powers are obtained, would employ 900 men in its construction and 1,200 men in preparing materials. One has only to glance at a map of England to realise the necessity for a bridge across the Humber, provided it can be built without any real hindrance or difficulty to navigation. From the sea to Booth Ferry, which is between 50 and 60 miles inland, there is no bridge of any kind. The City of Hull has a population of more than 300,000, the East Riding of Yorkshire has 168,000 people and the county of Lincoln 613,000.

The chief criticism centring about this proposal concerns possible interference with the navigation of the river. It is argued that the piers of the bridge might cause scouring and silting in the river, and so alter the channels as to make navigation more difficult or, possibly, altogether impossible. Evidence was taken from eminent experts in engineering, experts in the control of navigable channels and estuaries and from a considerable number of ship masters and pilots. Certain amendments to the first proposals were made by the Committee, and in the end the Committee approved the preamble unanimously, with a recommendation to which I will refer in a few moments. At the site of the proposed bridge the channel is fairly permanent. Since 1828 there has been practically no change in the channel at that part of the river. The three centre spans of the bridge will extend over a total length, with two piers intervening, of 1,850 feet, and that will cover any variation of the channel which has occurred at any time during the past century or is likely to occur at any future time. From the site of the bridge, travelling up river, the channel is winding and changeable, always difficult and uncertain, dangerous in fog or storm. The navigable channel above the site of the bridge, travelling towards the port of Goole, is, in places, no more than 800 feet in width, whereas the main span of the bridge alone is 900 feet in width.

The Committee expressed the opinion that training walls are desirable and that the construction of training walls should proceed at the same time as the construction of the bridge. I have heard the question "What are training walls?" asked from this side of the House. Proposals for training walls are no new thing as regards the Humber. In 1913 eminent engineers reported upon training walls for the Humber. In the upper reaches of the river, at the confluence of the Ouse and Trent, training walls have been constructed. We believe they are answering their purpose perfectly well. Training walls are walls or banks built in the bed of the river for the purpose of forming and maintaining a navigable channel. I understand that training walls do not always show themselves at all states of the tide, but often are totally immersed at high tide. They are marked out with buoys and lights throughout the whole of their length. If the training walls as proposed or planned in 1913 were constructed in the Humber they would form a deep-water, safe, navigable channel, and that certainly does not exist to-day.

If the new Clause proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract (Mr. T. Smith) were carried it would not, in my opinion, have the effect that its sponsors desire. The building of both bridge and training walls would be deferred indefinitely. The Humber Conservancy Board are the people in control of this river from the point where it enters the sea to the point of the confluence of the Ouse and the Trent. The Humber Conservancy Board are the only people who can construct the training walls. They are the people who had plans prepared, and who have actually carried out the provision of some training walls in the upper reaches of the river. The Committee feel very strongly that the building of the bridge should not ho hindered because those training walls, already planned, have not been carried out be completion. It is the opinion of the Committee that whether there is a bridge or not training walls are desirable, even essential, to the safe maintenance of navigation up to the Port of Goole. What the Mover of the Amendment wants is exactly what the Committee feel it is desirable to obtain, but the effect of the new Clause would be to stop the building of the bridge, and therefore, in effect, stop the building of these training walls for an indefinite period. The Committee are satisfied that the bridge will not have a prejudicial effect on the navigation of the Humber. We hold the opinion that whether the bridge is built or not the construction of training walls will be a benefit to navigation. We believe that the bridge would be a help rather than a hindrance to navigation when training walls are built. It would guide shipping into the right channel. Finally, in the general interests of trade and commerce, which depend so largely on adequate means of road transport in these days, we feel that a case is made out for this bridge across the Humber, and I hope that a Third Reading will be given to this Bill.

Colonel ASHLEY

I intervene only for one moment to ask one or two questions of the Minister of Transport. We have heard a good deal about the great advantages this scheme would have for Hull, about the terrible catastrophies which are to happen to Goole if the bridge is built, and a good deal about training walls, but as regards finance which, after all, is a very important matter, the only enlightenment has been the statement of the hon. Member who was chairman of this important committee, that the total cost will be round about £1,750,000. I want the Minister of Transport to enlighten us in regard to the finance of this Measure. I believe I am right in saying—the right hon. Gentleman will correct me if I am wrong—that the money for this bridge is to be found as to three-quarters of it from the Road Fund, as to one-eighth from the local authorities, and as to one-eighth from tolls. I think that substantially represents the financing of this enterprise. I want to know for how many years it is proposed to levy these tolls? I am sure that we all hate the idea of tolls, and want to see them abolished. I share the hatred of toll bridges, although I admit that when I was Minister of Transport on two occasions I sanctioned tolls, one in the case of the Mersey Tunnel and another in order that the necessary finances might be found. Can the right hon. Gentleman assure me that the term for which these tolls will be imposed will be a short period? If the right hon. Gentleman cannot raise the money in some other way, I hope he will limit the number of years for which the tolls have to be paid.

I would like to know how the money is to be found out of the Road Fund. We know that in the Finance Bill permission was given to borrow £9,000,000 from the Treasury during the present year to finance certain works for unemployment. We also know that that £9,000,000 is only part of £49,500,000 which it is proposed to spend on road and bridge works, financed, as to two-thirds, by the Road Fund, and, as to one-third, by the local authorities. I want to know whether any part of the three-quarters of the £1,750,000, which has to be found for this bridge, is included in the figures which I have quoted, or is entirely a new burden upon the motorists who find the money for the Road Fund. I am not arguing whether the bridge is a good or a bad scheme, but I want to know the exact amount which the right hon. Gentleman is to find, and whether it is included in the sum of £49,500,000 which is to be spent within the next five years for the relief of unemployment.

The MINISTER of TRANSPORT (Mr. Herbert Morrison)

The right hon. and gallant Member for Christchurch (Colonel Ashley) is quite right when he says that the estimated cost of this proposal is £1,750,000, 75 per cent. of which will be contributed from the Road Fund. The corporation of Kingston-upon-Hull will contribute £200,000; the county council of Lindsey, Lincolnshire, £30,000; the Barton Urban District Council, £10,000; the corporation of Beverley, £3,000; the Hessle Urban District Council £2,000, and the Cottingham Urban District Council, £1,000. The East Riding of Yorkshire County Council at first refused to contribute to the cost of the bridge, but during the Committee stage of the Bill they have undertaken to contribute £600 a year towards the maintenance of the bridge. It has been provided that the balance will be met by the capitalisation of a revenue from tolls for a limited period, so as to relieve the burden upon the local authorities who took the view that it was quite legitimate that those who will directly benefit by the bridge should contribute tolls for a limited period to ease that part of the financial burden which the local authorities would be called upon to bear. That is the reason why tolls for a limited period have been allowed. It will be found, on reference to Clause 71 of the Bill, that powers are given for the tolls to be imposed, and it is provided that: (4) The power to demand, take and recover tolls conferred by this Act shall cease and determine—

  1. (a) On the thirty-first day of March immediately following the date upon which the whole of the excess sum has been paid off, and the contingency fund has reached the maximum determined as aforesaid; or
  2. (b) on the expiration of 10 years from the completion of the bridge;
whichever shall be the earlier. The tolls must finish at the end of 10 years, but it is also provided that the Minister may from time to time after consultation with the Board of Trade and the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries on the application of the Board, by order allow tolls to be demanded taken and recovered for such longer period than that prescribed by paragraph (b) of this sub-section as may be specified in such order in order to secure not only the repayment of the excess sum hut also the formation of the contingency fund up to the maximum to be determined as aforesaid, I think that will meet the points which have been raised by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman. The contribution to this scheme is included in the £50,000,000 in connection with the Road Fund which has been indicated from time to time as the broad commitment of that fund. This scheme has been approved in principle by the Minister of Transport, and is a commitment upon the Road Fund. It is not a new liability incurred since the discussion took place on the Road Find in regard to the Finance Bill. I make no complaint that the hon. Member for Pontefract and the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) have raised the questions which they have raised during the discussion to-night. It is inevitable that the hon. Member, who has the Port of Goole in his constituency, has to consider the effect of the erection of this bridge, and it is the duty of the hon. Member to voice the views and fears of his constituents, and take whatever steps he thinks are necessary in order to protect the interests of that area. I would remind the House that the new Clause which my hon. Friend has moved reads as follows: The bridge and other works by this Act authorised shall not be commenced until a local Act has been passed authorising the construction of suitable training walls for the protection of the navigation of the River Humber and containing a provision requiring such training walls to be constructed simultaneously with the construction of the bridge. That really means, and the House must be clear about this, that, if the Humber Conservancy does not come to a decision to construct training walls, or promote legislation for that purpose, it is absolutely in the power of the Conservancy, under that Clause, to determine if and when this bridge scheme shall be proceeded with. In fact, it gives them a complete veto as to whether the bridge shall be proceeded with or not. I do not wish to revive controversy which is past, and which was very difficult at the time, but this is analogous to the Catholic Amendment which, as the House will remember, was incorporated by a majority in the Education (School Leaving Age) Bill, and which rendered it impossible for that Bill to be proceeded with unless certain things were done. It undoubtedly gives complete power to the Conservancy to say whether or not the bridge shall be constructed. It is perfectly true that the Hull Corporation desires this Bill to be proceeded with and the bridge to be constructed, firstly, because Hull is somewhat cut off, and it desires improved navigation. Many take the view that the construction of this bridge will lead to important industrial developments in Lincolnshire, and that is probably why the Lindsey County Council is contributing to the cost and is anxious that it shall be proceeded with.


Does the right hon. Gentleman mean improved communication, or navigation?


I am talking of road navigation at the moment.


I did not understand the term "road navigation."


I beg pardon. It is a term which in certain circumstances it is permissible to use, but I mean road communication. That is probably the reason why the Lindsey County Council is contributing. If one looks at the geographical position of Kingston-upon-Hull, undoubtedly its position is somewhat awkward, and the journey that people have to make in order to get to the other side of the river is a very serious one. Therefore, provided that the bridge does not damage the proper and legitimate interests of navigation, I think that everyone in the House would agree that prima facie it is a legitimate bridge to consider, and ought to receive favourable consideration from the House of Commons. The second point is that the Hull Corporation desire it to be done, other authorities desire it to be done, and the Government desire it to be done in order that it may stimulate employment and provide work for a considerable number of people; though I entirely agree with my hon. Friend that, if that employment cannot be secured without damaging very important interests concerned with the navigation of the river and the Port of Goole, that is a perfectly legitimate point to put against the employment aspect of the scheme.

Before the Bill was introduced, there was a long series of discussions with the local authorities, concerned partly on the merits of the scheme, and also, as is always the case, on the question as to who was to pay for it, and particularly who was not to pay for it. In these discussions, after we had agreed on the form of the financial partnership between the State and the local authorities, I took steps to bring together the local authorities and the navigation interests, including their technical advisers, with a view to getting agreement so far as we could, and extending to the navigation interests all the legitimate protection that could be given in a Bill.


By the navigation interests, does the right hon. Gentleman mean the Humber Conservancy?


There are the Rivers Aire and Calder, and the Port of Goole. We brought them all together to see whether they could not arrive at agreement. It is not always easy to get bridge builders and navigation people to agree, and very great difficulties were found to begin with. Unfortunately, we did not succeed in getting full agreement between the two interests, but I was advised that on balance the scheme was a sound scheme, and that there was no need to be apprehensive about the navigation being seriously damaged, or about the navigation interests being seriously damaged; and, therefore, I indicated that there would be a grant from the Road Fund, and gave support to the Bill. There can be no doubt that the Bill has had adequate consideration from the Commitee upstairs, and I can only hope that everyone has had value for the money which has been spent there. There have been 32 days' consideration by a House of Commons Committee, and there will be some more days in a Committee of the House of Lords. It has cost the promoters about £28,000; I do not know what it has cost the opponents. Of that sum, about £21,000 will be paid from the Road Fund.

Undoubtedly, the Committee upstairs, under the Chairmanship of my hon. Friend the Member for Derby (Mr. Raynes), gave the Bill very serious detailed consideration. A series of points were raised by the navigation interests. The first was as to the danger of shifting of the main channel consequent upon the building of the bridge. The second was the possible effect that the construction of the piers might have in producing scour, and consequent silting; and the third was as to the danger to navigation. I will not say that these various points have been met to the entire satisfaction of the petitioners, but an endeavour has been made to meet them by various Amendments which have been incorporated in the Bill and have been accepted by the promoters. It is affirmed by the promoters, with the support of a good deal of engineering opinion, though I quite agree that this has been contested by other able engineers, that the general effect of the bridge is to stabilise the channel rather than to endanger it, but provision has been made in the Bill that, if at any time, as a consequence of the construction of the bridge, any alteration takes place in the main channel of the river to such an extent that the navigation of the river is materially prejudiced thereby, the Board—that is to say, the Bridge Board, shall take such steps for the protection of the navigation as may be agreed between the Board and the Conservancy Board, or, failing agreement, as may be determined by arbitration.

Colonel ASHLEY

Where do the Bridge Board get the money from with which to do these necessary works?


That would be the responsibility of the local authorities. It would be competent for them to apply for State assistance, if any State assistance was eligible, but the responsibility is accepted by the Bridge Board, which represents the local authorities who are contributing to the cost of the bridge. If the right hon. Gentleman is thinking that the Road Fund is committed, I may say that I understand that that is not the case. No doubt arguments will ensue, but that is not the position at the present moment under the Bill. Under the Bill the Bridge Board is held responsible. There was a second apprehension that, from natural causes consequent upon the building of the bridge, there might be danger, and a very similar provision is made if as a result of natural causes the navigation should be damaged in that way. The third point is that, if the training walls were constructed, and their position proved wrong as a consequence of the building of the bridge, then again, if that is proved to be the case, or is agreed to be the case, some liability is accepted by the promoters of the Bill. Finally, on the point as to any prejudicial results due to silting, again there is provision in the Bill that, if that is proved to be the case or is agreed to be the case, the Board undertake to execute such dredging or other works as are reasonably necessary in consequence thereof. Therefore I suggest that on the points of objection which have been raised the promoters have gone a long way to meet the opponents of the Bill, and it only remains to see whether it is possible for them to go any further.

It has been argued before the Committee, and it has been impressed upon me, that the training walls are an essential part of the construction of the bridge. I am not advised that the bridge will involve or create the necessity for training walls. The evidence is, and the fact is not disputed, that as long ago as 1913 the Humber Conservancy instructed engineers to investigate and report upon the necessity for training walls. The engineers did report, and they recommended that training walls should be constructed; and it is not my fault, nor the fault of the Corporation of Kingston-upon-Hull, that the Conservancy has not constructed training walls to the extent recommended by the engineers. Something has been done, but it is relatively small. I must beware of the danger that, because a Bill for the construction of a road bridge across the river comes along, the opportunity may be taken by the Conservancy Board to get a job done at the expense of the Road Fund and of the local authorities which was admitted to be desirable on grounds of navigation and the conservation of the river as long ago as 1913.

The right hon. and gallant Gentleman will, no doubt, have had the experience that I have had. When schemes come along, someone in the surrounding areas says, "Here is a chance for us to get something out of the Road Fund," and it is my duty, as guardian of the Road Fund, not to allow it to be used for a purpose for which it is not contributed. I had the same trouble with the Charing Cross Bridge. Someone said it meant that I must improve the roads from the north of the bridge to goodness knows where, and, if I had not been careful, I should have been landed with 75 per cent. grants all the Way to Tottenham. I said, "We are not rebuilding London and this contribution has to stop somewhere." I do not blame the Conservancy at all if someone says, "Here is someone who badly wants a bridge. We ought to have done it in 1913. Let us see what we can do to get a substantial contribution out of the Road Fund." They did not know that I had not any Road Fund at the moment. The Chancellor is not raiding the Road Fund at the moment. I am raiding him. It would be a wrong purpose to put the Road Fund to.

I will say this to my hon. Friend. It is as far as I can go. If it is not as far as he wishes, I shall not complain if he does not accept it. I cannot promise grants out of the Road Fund for training walls for rivers. That is a long cry from motor traffic. But if the officers of the bodies concerned with navigation—not necessarily the Hull Corporation, because they are not a navigation authority—come together and get an agreed scheme for training walls, and if it is submitted to the appropriate committee, which, I presume, would be the Unemployment Grants Committee, for State assistance in a way that would be proper under the Development Act, the President of the Board of Trade and I will give the matter fair and proper consideration with a view to seeing whether it would be possible to make a grant from the appropriate fund as an unemployment scheme. I cannot promise a grant. I cannot go as far as that. I do not think it would be right to press me as far as that, but, if a sound scheme is put up by the appropriate conservancy people, and if it is agreed by the technical people, we will give it fair and not unfriendly consideration before reporting to the Unemployment Grants Committee upon it as a scheme which should receive assistance under the Development Act, 1929.

For these reasons, I suggest that this Clause, which really puts the question of the bridge at the mercy of the Conservancy, ought not to be carried. The Hull Corporation and the county council have gone a long way to meet the objections that have been raised and in the circumstances, in view of the great importance of this from the point of view of transport, and in view of its unemployment aspects, the Bill, which has had a long and serious consideration upstairs, might be allowed to amble its way up the corridors to their Lordships' House and have proper consideration there.


While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for his offer, may I ask if he will use his influence to get these bodies together. Could he say anything on that point?


I cannot admit that training walls are an essential part of the scheme, otherwise I should be on the slippery slope. But, if the training wall people put up proposals and desire consultation with the other people, and there is any difficulty about it, and the Ministry of Transport can lend its offices to bring the appropriate people together, whoever they are, I shall be glad to do so.


I do not see any use in persisting with the Motion.

Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That Standing Orders 240 and 262 be suspended, and that the Bill be now read the Third time."—[The Deputy Chairman.]


I was going to register strong opposition to the Bill but, in view of all that the Minister has said, I shall not continue my opposition. My objection is on behalf of the shipping industry, which has not been mentioned yet. If the training wall scheme is decided upon, it is going to add an enormous burden to shipping, for it would have to be paid for by the Conservancy by raising dues on shipping using the ports of the Humber.

Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Sir Robert Young)

There is no provision, as far as I know, for training walls in the Bill. The hon. Gentleman must confine himself to what is in the Bill.


Surely the Minister has just expressed willingness——


We are now on the Third Reading. The right hon. Gentleman himself indicated quite clearly that a training wall was not included in the construction of the bridge.


Is not the construction of these training walls an essential part of the scheme?


Whether they are an essential part of the scheme or not, they are not in the Bill, and we are on the Third Heading, and we are confined to what is in the Bill.


Surely the Minister himself dwelt on the importance that the walls play in the scheme.


That was on a new Clause which the House did not accept on the Report stage.


I represent the Port of Grimsby, which is also on the Humber, and which will undoubtedly be affected by the passing of this Bill. I was going to support it for this reason, that, if the river channel will be altered by the construction of the bridge and the ports of Hull and Goole will be silted up and, therefore, ships will not be able to enter those ports, as the representative of Grimsby, which is further to the East and, therefore, will not be affected by this moving of the channel, I ought to welcome the Bill and the building of the bridge because then we should indeed be able to say that Grimsby and Immingham would become the Liverpool of the East coast. But I also represent in my constituency part of the County of Lindsey, and so really I am representing two authorities in the matter. The county council of Lindsey certainly desire that the Bill should receive a Third Reading, so I am in the very happy position that I can really say that, if a Third Reading is accorded to it, it will be satisfactory to both parts of my constituency.

But there is a question that I am satisfied that we can raise on the Third Reading, and that is the question whether there will be further expense to the ports along the Humber bank. If such a thing happens as we are told may happen, there is liable to be an expenditure of something like £500,000 on putting right what some people think this bridge will make wrong. Other ports than Goole and Hull will have to pay their quota towards any measures that have to be taken to remedy any trouble that is caused by the building of the bridge.

I do not think that the charging of tolls in respect of the use of the bridge will meet with the general approval of the people on the Lincolnshire side at any rate. I recognise that the Government have given, by way of grant, a substantial sum, but the City of Kingston-upon-Hull ought to contribute far more than£200,000. If any one is going to get any real benefit from the bridge, it will be Kingston-upon-Hull. That is why the hon. and gallant Member for North-West Hull (Sir A. Lambert Ward) and the hon. Member for East Hull (Mr. Muff) have been such strong advocates of the bridge. I have been wondering how on earth we really can give the Third Beading to the Bill in the absence of the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy), for to deal with such a momentous question as this in his absence is almost inconceivable. I am satisfied, after hearing what the Minister of Transport has said as to his intentions in the matter, that it is wise and proper to give the Bill the Third Reading.

Those who represent the districts further up the Humber from where the bridge will be constructed will be satisfied with the promise that has been given. But I would warn the Minister of Transport that it is not wise to take too much notice of experts, I listened to some of the evidence given before the Committee and I have heard that evidence commented upon by men who have navigated the river for 40 or 50 years. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Transport that the bulk of the old navigators of the river are satisfied that it Will be a question of spending a considerable sum of money in keeping the channel of the river as it ought to be kept. I noticed in the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman that he said that at this particular part of the Humber there had been no alteration in the channel for something like 80 years. That may be so. But it is a fact—and he knows that it was given in evidence—that the mere sinking of a vessel in another part of the Humber a little further up caused a considerable difference in the channel. Those who know the estuary realise that in spite of what experts may say there are difficulties with which you do not meet in any other estuary throughout the united Kingdom. I welcome the promise the right hon. Gentleman has given to try and get the people together who are interested in this matter, although I think that it will be more a question for his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade.


It may well be more a question for the Board of Trade, but my right hon. Friend authorises me to say that the promise I made will equally apply to him.


I am glad to hear that, because the people in my constituency are deeply interested. If it comes to a question of payment we shall have to find our quota. If there should be a charge upon shipping, it will affect Goole, Hull, Immingham, and any other port upon the river, and that is why I am delighted that the right hon. Gentleman is to try and get the people together. We realise that something ought to have been done before, but something certainly will have to be done after the bridge has been constructed, and if the President of the Board of Trade and the Minister of Transport will use their good offices immediately to get together the people who are interested, I am satisfied that their action will cause the utmost satisfaction to the people who have to carry on their business and earn their living at the ports on the Humber. I am glad to see that the President of the Board of Trade has just come into the Chamber. I would tell him that we have been discussing as to whether we could get together the local authorities and others concerned from both sides of the Humber so as to discuss the question of the future of the channel of the river and what should be done. We have received a promise from the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Transport that he will, in consultation with the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, do something in the matter of getting people together. I was urging that it ought to be done as quickly as possible. One does not know how long the fund will last from which grants may be made towards schemes for relieving unemployment, and if anything is going to be done, the sooner the better. Speaking on behalf of my constituency, I intend to support the Third Reading of the Bill.


May I refer to a matter upon which you called me to order just now, Mr. Deputy-Speaker? I was speaking of the training walls that may have to be put into the river, and on looking at Clause 46 of the Bill I find the words: Subject to the provisions of this Act the board may make on or in the banks, bed, soil and foreshore of the river. Therefore, I submit that the Minister has a responsibility in respect of any training walls that may have to be made in the future, and it was merely on that ground and because he had consented to make representations, should an occasion arise, to the proper authorities in the hope of getting assistance. It was in regard to that that I was withdrawing my opposition and expressing my appreciation, because I realised the very serious effect upon shipping interests of the country of having even a penny added to their expenses at the present time.


I wish to emphasise what has just been said by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wallasey (Sir B. Chadwick). There has been nothing said in the course of the Debate upon the question of what charges, if any, would fall upon the shipping trade which uses the port of Hull and other ports on the Humber. The margin available under the present system of charges in the Humber only amounts to £1,000 a year, and even if the maximum charges were put upon shipping the total surplus above the present cost would only amount to £14,000. I need hardly say that shipping could not contemplate a rise in charges to that extent, although a figure of that sort is infinitesimal when dealing with great contracts.

I wish to impress upon the Minister the fact that the position of the shipping interests should be met, just as the other position has been met, by some undertaking that there is not going to be an increased charge upon shipping as a result of the construction of the bridge or the works connected with it. I have had some experience of reading estimates of what may happen when bridges and other river works are carried out and changes in the course of a river follow. I should be very chary of giving undertakings such as were given by the hon. Member on behalf of the city of Hull. I hope that the city of Hull will never be called upon to meet any of the immense charges which will be necessary if the bed of the river is really in any way seriously altered by the construction of the bridge. I am not going to oppose the Third Reading of the Bill, but I wish to make it clear that the shipping interests using the port of Hull and other ports of the Humber cannot afford to pay extra charges which may become necessary unless some undertaking to the contrary is given with regard to an immense work which may be necessary as a result of the building of the bridge.

It has been stated that possibly it is far better to build the bridge first and then see through what channel the river would run. That is a very dangerous procedure. It would be very much safer to build training walls first and be sure that your bridge was going to span the river. It might very well be that your deep water channel might not be where you expected it when the training walls eventually had to be constructed. However that may be, the Minister of Transport has given an undertaking to do his utmost to come to an agreement regarding the training walls which the Committee themselves have announced are absolutely necessary and must be carried out and ought to be carried out at the same time. Can he give us a further undertaking that, whatever the movement by which these training walls or other works are carried out, whatever the authority, there will not be extra charges placed upon the shipping using the Humber? If he can give us that undertaking, there will be no opposition from shipping interests, although there are other things which affect shipping, in addition to that liability. There is, of course, the danger that may be caused to shipping through the building of the bridge in that position. I realise, however, that there are a great many advantages in having the bridge. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman, however, whether he can give us any undertaking that there will not be an unreasonable claim made upon the shipping using the port of Hull and other ports on the Humber as a result of the building of the bridge.

Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE

I want to raise one small but important point, and that is the question of the silting of the Ancholme drainage. I understand that under the Bill there is no power to dredge except for two miles above the bridge. If so, that is a very dangerous situation. In the Bill certain new Clauses have been added, and although the Ancholme Commissioners think that the Minister has done his best, they realise that, on account of the way that the Preamble has been drafted, it is impossible to meet them. I would like to know what the Minister is going to do. If the outfall is choked and they cannot go high up to deal with the matter, who is going to do the work? The result will be that the land will be waterlogged. I am not quite satisfied who is going to do the work. The wording of the Bill is doubtful. Moreover, the liability of the promoters is limited, and the result may be that if the land becomes waterlogged, the farmers will have to pay. I should like to know from the Minister of Transport what will happen in that case. I presume that the Government are going to pay. The Bill is to be opposed in the House of Lords by the Ancholme Drainage Board. I should like to know whether the outfall can be kept clear. If so, all will be well. If not, I would ask the Minister of Transport to insert words in the Bill which will enable the outfall to be kept clear. If the Title of the Bill is not sufficiently wide to enable that to be done, I hope that the Minister of Transport will promote a Bill to give him sufficient power.

9.0 p.m.


The proposed bridge will be in my constituency and a large part of the under-banking and the Ancholme drainage is in my constituency. Therefore, I feel that I can speak on behalf of the people I represent. So far as the bridge is concerned, the whole of North Lincolnshire, the Lindsey County Council and the urban districts are in favour of it, and not the least enthusiastic in support of it is Scunthorpe, a town of 40,000 population. We are very anxious that the bridge should be constructed, because we have no outlet except by proceeding west by Booth Ferry Bridge, and then going on to Hull. We think that this link between Lincolnshire and Yorkshire, two great agricultural counties, should be provided. Hull provides a fine market for agricultural produce. Therefore, so far as North Lincolnshire is concerned the new bridge will be of very considerable benefit. The hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. T. Smith) put down his Amendment in order that he might receive some assurances.


That has been disposed of.


I wonder if hon. Members have had any great personal experience in crossing the Humber?


We all have.


I have been anchored in it. I have been held up at New Holland Pier from 10 o'clock in the morning until 3.30 in the afternoon, before I could get across. If my hon. Friends had had as many experiences as I have had in being held up in crossing the Humber from New Holland to Hull, I fancy that we should not have heard some of the statements that have been made in connection with this Bill. So far as that ferry is concerned, it is precisely the same ferry that it was 45 years ago. It gives no more convenience. The only thing that has altered has been the structure of the bridge. I am very delighted to think that the Bill has been received so favourably, and my desire is to say a few words in its support, as a representative of North Lincolnshire.

So far as the Ancholme Commissioners are concerned, the Ancholme runs through my constituency, and it is no rare thing now, without the bridge, for the land of that area to be flooded. Last year, a farmer wrote to me and asked me to send a representative from the Ministry of Agriculture to look at bulls swimming in his sugar beet fields. It is a tall order for the Ancholme Commissioners to be opposing this Bill on the ground that it will affect the drainage of their area, when pictures of that sort can be seen after there has been wet weather. It seems to me to be an absolute crime that the Ancholme Commissioners should spend money in opposing this Measure when money is so badly needed for carrying out effectively the drainage of the Ancholme area. I gather that the promoters of the Bill have endeavoured to meet the Ancholme Commissioners. They have also endeavoured to meet the Humber Conservancy Board and every other point of view. It has been very difficult to satisfy everybody concerned. I think the Clause which deals with the Ancholme Commissioners meets their point of view. I am not quite satisfied in my own mind that the Hull Commissioners care very much about Goole. I fancy they are of the same mind as the hon. Member for Grimsby, who is more concerned about Grimsby than he is about Hull. Probably Goole has been putting its money on the wrong horse. They ought to have been supporting the Bill——


I am quite sure that the hon. Member does not wish to misrepresent the Hull Conservancy Board, and I would ask him to correct that statement, because they have looked after the interests of all the ports on the Humber equally with those of Hull and Grimsby, and it is not fair to say that they have favoured one port more than another.


All I can say is that if they had been concerned about the River Humber they would have made a serious attempt to put a scheme into operation before now. I am pleased that the Bill has been received so favourably and I hope it will receive a unanimous passage through the House and favourable consideration elsewhere.


I think we ought to have some information as to how the toll charges have been arrived at, they are out of all reason to charges for crossing other bridges. A brougham or cab will have to pay 28., a cart 2s., a float 2s.—and those are vehicles which may be engaged in the transport of agricultural commodities—a lorry or wagon 2s. 6d.


May I ask whether the port of Birmingham is affected by this Bill at all?


It does not matter whether Birmingham is affected or not. The hon. Member is exercising his right as a Member of Parliament.


I am really astonished that the hon. Member should interrupt in that way. He has always been a protagonist of fair play for every industry in the country. In my judgment these are abnormal charges. My right hon. and gallant Friend the ex-Minister of Transport deprecated the continuance of tolls at all.

Colonel ASHLEY

In any remarks that I have made I have always deprecated the imposition of tolls.


That is what I have just said. My right hon. and gallant Friend could not have been listening. The difficulty of our Front Bench is that they do not listen to the back benchers, and I respectfully suggest that if they would listen more wisdom would sometimes display itself on the Front Bench. There is to be a toll of 3s. 6d. for a hearse. Some poor person who is being laid to his last resting place will have to pay 3s. 6d. for being taken across this bridge. An ambulance will have to pay 2s., and a bicycle and sidecar, one of those vehicles which convey so many people to the countryside on Saturday afternoons and Sundays, conveying the man's best girl, will have to pay 9d. toll. The House should be informed of the reasons for these abnormal charges. A public service vehicle carrying 14 people pays 5s. In Waterford in the south of Ireland one of the most useful bridges across the River Suir carries everything for a toll of ½d., and only 3d. for an Irish sidecar, yet here in this enlightened country these abnormal charges are to be imposed on the travelling community. This is the most disgraceful part of the whole Bill. I am not going to divide the House, but I think we ought to have more information as to the reason for these charges.


I should not have taken part in this Debate except for the interesting speech of the hon. Member for Moseley (Mr. Hannon), which does deserve an answer from the Government, in which he called attention to the Second Schedule of the Bill. I should like to know why the charge should be 4d. for a perambulator mail-cart, go-cart or bath-chair, and 2s. 6d. for a street organ. It may be that as the man with a street organ might utilise it on the way across for making up his fee this extra charge is imposed. But these charges are excessive. Why should it be 8d. for a horse or donkey; and why should it be the same charge, 1½d., for a sheep as for a pig. Pigs are much more likely to create difficulties than sheep. Sheep are easily led, like members of the Socialist party opposite are led by the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George). They can be sent any way you like if you know the right way to deal with them. I would also like the Minister of Transport to answer the question put by the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Wardlaw-Milne) about the training walls. It is a most vital question.


I do not think the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) was in the House when an Amendment dealing with that matter was disposed of.


I was in the House——


Training walls do not come under the Bill.


Of course, I accept that position absolutely and entirely. Therefore, in spite of Clause 36, we have a Bill in which it is proposed to build a bridge which has nothing to do with training walls. That makes the position very much worse, and if we had known earlier many of us might have opposed the Bill from the beginning.


There was a discussion on training walls, and the hon. Member had an opportunity of understanding the position.


I admit quite frankly' that I was not in the House at the time. I will leave training walls alone for the time being and will not press the Minister for an answer on the subject. I will pass to the question which was asked by the hon. and gallant Member for Louth (Lieut.-Colonel Heneage). That is a question which can be answered. I understand that the hon. and gallant Member has had some conversation with the Minister since. Has the Minister of Transport gone into this matter with the Minister of Agriculture, and is the latter equally satisfied that the farmers above the bridge, or those in any way affected by the scheme, have their position adequately protected? We ought to be assured that there is no danger of the great agricultural districts in that neighbourhood becoming waterlogged. The hon. Member for Brigg (Mr. Quibell) talked about bulls swimming in sugar-beet fields. There is the danger of flooding, and I ask the Minister to answer the question put to him on the subject.


I do not follow the point of the hon. Member who has just sat down. I have no doubt there was some point in his speech, but I am afraid that I did not follow it clearly enough to be able to answer it. There was a question as to whether I would give a guarantee that shipping charges would not be increased. At any rate the Bill does nothing to increase them. I cannot give a guarantee as to the policy of the conservators on that point. There was the point raised by the hon. and gallant Member for Louth (Lieut.-Colonel Heneage), The Ancholme Commissioners are specifically mentioned in the Bill. The hon. Member for Moseley (Mr. Hannon) raised a point as to cars going over the bridge being charged 2s. A car goes over a ferry of some sort now and has to pay anything between 8s. and 10s. This bridge will save nearly two hours on the journey, and if that is not worth 2s. I do not know what is. I suggest that the hon. Gentleman has been so infected by the municipal Socialism of Birmingham, in common with other Conservative Members of that city, that he has got into the habit of wanting everything for nothing. We shall have to be careful about these revolutionary tendencies on the part of hon. Members opposite. I suggest that when a scheme saves anything between 6s. and 10s, in money or saves 22 miles on a journey, even the hon. Member for Moseley, who has witnessed the great advantages of municipal Socialism in Birmingham, ought not to begrudge the 2s.; and even if the hon. Member is buried ultimately in the region of Hull I suggest that he ought not to begrudge 3s. 6d. for a hearse.


Do I understand that 6s. to 8s. is paid to cross by the ferry now?



Ordered, That Standing Orders 240 and 263 be suspended, and that the Bill be now read the Third time."—[King's Consent signified.]

Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.