§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ LORD WINMARLEIGH
said, he rose to move that the Order made on the 2nd day of March last—That no Private Bill brought from the House of Commons shall be read a second time after Thursday the 21st day of June next,should be dispensed with, in order that the Manchester Ship Canal Bill might be read a second time. The promoters of the Bill were not to blame for the Bill being brought on for a second reading at this period of the Session. The Bill was before the Examiners of Private Bills as far back as January 22; and the subsequent dates showed that there had been no negligent delay in the progress of the measure in the other House, 259 Having given the various dates, he thought he need not do any more than make the Motion of which he had given Notice.
Moved, "That the Order made on the 2nd day of March last That no Private Bill brought from the House of Commons shall be read a second time after Thursday the 21st day of June next' be dispensed with."—(The Lord Winmarleigh.)
§ THE EARL OF REDESDALE (CHAIRMAN of COMMITTEES)
said, that he was surprised at his noble Friend in making this Motion, for which he had given no good reason, and there was really no reason why this Motion should be made. It was altogether contrary to the principles governing Private Bill legislation in that House. He must enter a protest against Bills coming up to their Lordships' House at a period of the Session when it was impossible to constitute good Committees. With respect to this particular Bill, he must frankly say, if their Lordships should decide to proceed with it, that at this period he thought it would be utterly impossible to appoint a Committee to whom it would be proper to refer this Bill. The character of the Bill was very important, the object being to make a Ship Canal between Liverpool and Manchester; but the Bill, as it now stood, contained no power of getting into deep water, and it was a condition that nothing was to be done until a Bill was passed next Session for a different work from that which was contained in the present measure. No such scheme had ever before been proposed in private legislation; and if they adopted such a course he thought they would be introducing a principle in legislation of a most objectionable and dangerous character.
§ LORD WINMARLEIGH
, in reply, said, that the Bill was a very simple one. It was to enable a Ship Canal to be made, in order to afford a cheap mode of transit for the goods of one of the largest manufacturing centres of the United Kingdom. The fact that the Committee of the House of Commons had divided the Bill into the two parts referred to by the noble Earl, postponing one part till next Session, was one of its greatest recommendations, inasmuch as it secured the Port of Liverpool from the possibility of injury. Their Lordships must not suppose that the title of the Bill included the whole of the 260 district affected by it; on the contrary, its operation extended far beyond Manchester, and the population affected by it was enormous. The Bill was of the greatest importance to the vast cotton trade of Lancashire. Meetings in support of it had been held in almost every town in the county; one of these meetings that was held in Manchester being the largest ever known upon a commercial subject. There had been 326 Petitions presented in favour of the Bill, signed by 108,000 persons, besides 31 Petitions from Chambers of Commerce, Town Councils, public Boards, and various Associations. This would give the House some idea of the feeling in favour of the scheme. The enormous value of the interests affected by the Bill was also shown by the fact that it was estimated that £100,000,000 had been invested in the cotton manufacture alone. Having regard to the increased sharpness of competition to which the manufacturers of Lancashire were subjected in all parts of the world, it was not to be wondered at that they regarded with great anxiety any measure affecting their interests, and especially one which would afford relief against the great increase of traffic rates which had taken place in the last few years. This Bill was in strict accordance with the recommendations of a Joint Committee of both Houses of Parliament, and in pursuance of those recommendations it contained among its provisions powers to buy up the undertakings of certain Canal Companies. That was one reason why the Bill should be read a second time, and another reason was that the promoters had already undergone enormous expense in a lengthened investigation before a Committee of the House of Commons extending over 38 days.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
said, that some of his Colleagues had been attacked for speaking in a dual character, and it was possible that the same fate might befal him, because, in the observations which he was about to make, he should not speak on behalf of the Government, but simply as a Member of their Lordships' House who happened to be interested in the locality to which the Bill referred. He sympathized with the noble Earl who spoke so earnestly in support of the regularity of the proceedings of that House; but he would point out that the Rule applying to Standing Orders was 261 not an inflexible Rule. The same Standing Orders had, in fact, just been dispensed with in the case of three Bills on the Notice Paper. There was, therefore, nothing very exceptional in the course now proposed to be taken. It must be remembered that the case under consideration was itself exceptional. It had been shown that the delay in bringing the Bill forward was not a delay for which the promoters of the measure were responsible. The delay arose partly from a difficulty connected with the Standing Orders of their Lordships' House, and partly from the great length and complexity of the inquiry in "another place," where the Committee sat for 38 days. Some of their Lordships might fear that a Committee of their House might be asked to sit for an equally long period at that late period of the Session. He thought, however, there was no ground for any such apprehension, as the question had now been thoroughly sifted. A good many of the details of the Bill had been modified, and various parties, who at one time opposed the Bill, were now satisfied. There was, therefore, no reason to suppose, if an inquiry were held, that it would be of unusual length. Public Business would probably detain their Lordships some weeks in town, and there would be ample time to finish the inquiry before the House would, in the natural course of things, break up for the Recess. If the Bill were passed, a Company would be incorporated, and plans would be prepared to be laid before the House of Commons next year, with a view to obtaining the approval of the Legislature to subsequent proceedings. The noble Earl (the Earl of Redesdale) had objected to the Bill on its merits; but the question of merits, while a fair one to discuss, was one which the Committee were perfectly qualified to deal with. The House was simply asked that that Bill should be placed before that tribunal. He (the Earl of Derby) lead heard that the Mersey Commissioners were now perfectly satisfied with the clauses inserted in the Bill, and that no opposition would come from them; whereas if the Bill were rejected a whole year would be lost, and the enormous expenditure of money, time, and trouble would have to be again incurred. It was hardly possible to exaggerate the strength of popular feeling 262 which the Bill had created in the neighbourhood of Manchester; and it would be extremely hard if what was very little more than a technical objection should be allowed to interfere with the progress of the measure.
§ On Question? Their Lordships divided:—Contents 87; Not-Contents 24: Majority 63.263
|Selborne, E. (L. Chancellor.)||Ashford, L. (V. Bury.)|
|Bedford, D.||Beaumont, L.|
|Somerset, D.||Brabourne, L.|
|Westminster, D.||Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.)|
|Bath, M.||Carlingford, L.|
|Exeter, M.||Carrington, L.|
|Lansdowne, M.||Clermont, L.|
|Winchester, M.||Cottesloe, L|
|Amherst, E.||Dorchester, L.|
|Bradford, E. [Teller.]||Emly, L.|
|Cadogan, E.||Fitzgerald, L.|
|Camperdown, E.||Gerard, L.|
|Cawdor, E.||Haldon, L.|
|Chichester, E.||Harlech, L.|
|De La Warr, E.||Harris, L.|
|Derby, E.||Hatherton, L.|
|Devon, E.||Hopetoun, L. (E. Hopetoun.)|
|Feversham, E.||Kenry, L. (E. Dunraven and MountEarl)|
|Granville, E.||Lamington, L.|
|Kimberley, E.||Lawrence, L.|
|Manvers, E.||Monson, L.|
|Minto, E.||Norton, L.|
|Morley, E.||Penryhn, L.|
|Northbrook, E.||Ribblesdale, L.|
|Pembroke and Montgomery, E.||Robartes, L.|
|Shaftesbury, E.||Saltoun, L.|
|Spencer, E.||Sandhurst, L.|
|Strange, E. (D. Athol.)||Shute, L. (V. Barrington.)|
|Wilton, E.||Skene, L. (E. Fife.)|
|Stanley of Alderley, L.|
|Cranbrook, V.||Strafford, L.(V. Enfield.)|
|Eversley, V.||Stratheden and Campbell, L.|
|Gordon, V. (E. Aberdeen.)||Sundridge, L. (D. Argyll.)|
|Sherbrooke, V.||Thurlow, L.|
|Strathallan, V||Tweedmouth, L.|
|Tyrone, L. (H. Waterford.)|
|Gloucester and Bristol, L. Bp.||Waveney, L.|
|Rochester, L. Bp.||Winmarleigh, L. [Teller.]|
|Abercromby, L.||Wrottesley, L.|
|Aberdare, L.||Wynford, L.|
|Grafton, D.||Carnarvon, E.|
|Abercorn, M. (D. Abercorn.)||Lathom, E.|
|Powis, E.||Foxford, L. (E. Limerick.)|
|Redesdale, E. [Teller.]|
|Hartismere, L. (L. Henniker.)|
|Balfour of Burleigh, L.||Lyveden, L.|
|Blantyre, L.||Silchester, L. (E. Longford.) [Teller.]|
|Colchester, L.||Strathspey, L. (E. Seafield.)|
|Colville of Cuirass, L.|
|Crofton, L.||Tollemache, L.|
|Ellenborough, L.||Ventry, L.|
§ Resolved in the affirmative.
THE EARL OF LIMERICK
said, that before the Bill was read a second time, he wished to call the attention of their Lordships to a matter of considerable importance. He never remembered the merits of a Bill of this kind being discussed upon the second reading; and he did not think that any of their Lordships who, by voting in the Division which had taken place, and thereby expressing an opinion with respect to the Bill, ought to sit on the Committee to which it would be referred.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
said, he must express surprise at the view taken by the noble Earl (the Earl of Limerick). It appeared to him that noble Lords who had. voted on either side had not expressed any opinion whatever as to the merits of the Bill. They had simply removed the impediment in the way of its consideration; and, therefore, they would be perfectly justified in sitting on the Select Committee.
§ LORD WINMARLEIGH
suggested that the labours of the Committee had been shortened by the Estuary Clauses being dealt with separately.
§ Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed: The Committee to be proposed by the Committee of Selection.