HL Deb 09 July 1867 vol 188 cc1255-7

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.


moved that their Lordships should go into Committee on this Bill, the general object of which, he said, was to enable the Treasury to compound a debt now amounting to about £20,000 for a sum of £10,000, and also enabling the Commissioners of Works to advance a certain sum for the construction of a graving-dock and the improvement of Galway Harbour. The Bill came recommended not only by the authority of the Treasury; but after having passed the ordeal of a Select Committee of the other House, who had carefully investigated the measure and unanimously approved its provisions.


said, the Bill was one of so singular a character that he thought it ought not to be allowed to pass without a close scrutiny of its provisions. He did not object to the proposed composition, for he presumed that the Treasury could not get the money, and the proverb applicable to his own countrymen no doubt was good also in Ireland—that you could not take from a man a nether garment which he did not possess. But he found in the Report of the Irish Board of Works that they said they did not feel called upon to express an opinion upon the construction of a graving-dock; and that statement, coming from an Irish Board upon a proposal to spend English money in Ireland, struck him as a very significant one. Large sums had already been expended in the improvement of the Harbour of Galway, and the present scheme looked like the suggestion of some engineer who expected to have something to do with the carrying on of the new works. The Report of the Select Committee of the other House in favour of the Bill had been referred to, but it had not been laid before their Lordships.


said, he was surprised at some of the recommendations which came from the other House. It seemed to him most extraordinary that, at the time they were compounding a debt, they should be advancing more money to be expended, with the probability that part of the new debt would have to be forgiven at some future time. It was said last evening in support of the Limerick Harbour Bill that it was of immense importance that there should be a graving-dock on the west coast of Ireland. Now, it was proposed that there should be another graving-dock at Galway. These were matters which required careful consideration. Indeed, he did not know why the public money was to be advanced for these works in Ireland without further consideration than appeared to be generally given to the matter. Other places were obliged to find money on their own credit. When a debt due to Government was redeemed, it might fairly be expected that the next money to be expended would come from another source, and not from the source that it had been found so convenient to draw upon.


said, he was surprised at the fault found with this Bill, which he understood was last night spoken of as a just Bill. ["No, no!"] The Limerick Harbour was charged with a bridge. In this case, so far from there being such a charge, there was to be very good security for the money advanced; the Grand Jury had agreed to assess a rate upon the comity of the town for a considerable portion of the interest, provided it should not be available from the Harbour funds. Another circumstance not mentioned was the high rate of interest upon which the money was originally advanced by the Government. Had it been lent at the present low rate of interest, the amount due to the Government would have been much less than it was. The question involved was not merely one of compounding a debt, but also of giving some chance of recovering the money which had already been spent. With regard to the graving-dock to be constructed at Galway, that was urgently needed; and it was a fact that ships had ceased going to Galway simply because they were placed under the disadvantage of having no graving-dock for repairs there. It was true, it was said last night, it was important to provide a graving-dock at Limerick; but that was no reason why there should be only one graving-dock on the west coast of Ireland.


, on the question of interest, quoted the Report of the Irish Board of Works, to the effect that there was considerable misconception as to the length of time and the amounts for which the higher rates of interest have been paid.

Bill considered in Committee; and reported without Amendment; and to be read 3a on Thursday next.