§ THE EARL OF ELLENBOROUGH
, having presented two petitions from Tynemouth and South Shields against this Bill, which stood for third reading to-night, said, 849 he must, in the first place, explain how it happened that he had not presented these petitions earlier, that reason being that he had not seen the Bill put down on the paper. All he could now do was to present the petition and request the attention of the noble Duke (the Duke of Somerset) to them. He regretted to see that there was another Bill to be read the third time that night, by which it was intended to transfer to the Board of Trade all the powers now exercised by the Admiralty over the harbours of this country. Now that he looked on as a most unwise step, believing, as he did, that those powers would be much better exercised by the Admiralty, whose views were, generally speaking, of a higher nature, and whose first duty was towards the seamen. Up to recent times there was a bar on the harbour of the Tyne river, which was now, however, almost entirely removed. While that bar existed, a vessel, whatsoever dangers she might previously have encountered, the moment she passed it found herself in still water; but now that it had been taken away, the great dangers to be overcome were those to be met with in the inmost recesses of the harbour itself. During the last year nineteen vessels had been stranded at the entrance to the harbour, instead of eight or ten which was the usual average, and in the case of three of these vessels, forty-four lives were lost. He feared that so long as the harbour remained as it was, dreadful loss of life must be expected to take place year after year. Under those circumstances he hoped the noble Duke at the head of the Admiralty would allow the third reading of the Bill to be postponed until he had obtained the opinion of a competent officer sent down expressly to report on the present position of the harbour.
§ THE DUKE OF SOMERSET
thought the proposal of the noble Earl was scarcely reasonable in the case of a Private Bill which had passed through the House of Commons and been before a Committee of their Lordships' House. Those who were interested in the navigation had had ample opportunities of being heard before Committees of that and the other House, and it was not fair that they should withhold their opposition until the third reading of the Bill, and then ask that it should be postponed until the Admiralty had instituted an inquiry into the subject. The Admiralty had, in fact, nothing to do with the Tyne Harbour, which, like most other 850 commercial harbours, was a few years ago transferred to the management of the Board of Trade.
§ LORD RAVENSWORTH
said, that the Committee of their Lordships which sat upon this Bill bestowed great attention upon it, and if any one had any complaint to make against its provisions, they ought to have appeared before the Committee and stated their objections.
§ THE EARL OF ELLENBOROUGH
said, that no doubt the petitions were intended to have been presented before the Bill was referred to a Committee. Unfortunately those from whom he received them omitted to inform him when the Bill would pass that stage, and it was only recently that he discovered it in the list of Bills waiting for third reading. He was as anxious as any one that the harbour of the Tyne should be improved, but no one could look at the chart of that harbour without seeing that the proper mode of improving it was to excavate the Black Middens.
§ Bill read 3a.