§ Order of the Day for the Third Reading, read.
§ Moved, "That the Bill be now read 3a"—(The Duke of Buckingham and Chandos.)
§ EARL DE LA WARR
said, he begged to move that the third reading be postponed until Friday next, as the Report had only just been received and they had had no time to consider it. The Bill was one of very great public importance, as it allowed two great Dock Companies who had hitherto been rivals to work together in harmony, giving them power to raise their rates from 6d. to 1s. 6d. per ton without reference being necessary to any authority.
§ Amendment moved to leave out ("now") and add at the end of the Motion ("on Friday next.")—(The Earl De La Warr.)
§ LORD FITZGERALD
observed that although it was true this question had been considered by a Select Committee, the Committee had not been unanimous, and he agreed with the noble Earl in thinking that the Bill should be post- 1354 poned so as to enable them to have an opportunity of putting down Amendments.
§ LORD ADDINGTON
said, that the consequence of the competition between the two Dock Companies had been the almost absolute ruin of both Companies. It was greatly to the interest of the City of London that they should be kept up, and, therefore, he hoped that this Bill would be passed without delay.
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
, as Chairman of the Committee which had considered this Bill, said, that it had been fully considered and the whole question fully argued before them by learned counsel on both sides, and it was extremely inconvenient that the matter should now be raised in this way before their Lordships. The decision of the Committee on the Bill had been arrived at on Wednesday, July 4; the clauses were considered on Friday, the 6th, and from that time there had been a full opportunity of considering the decision of the Committee. The Bill was not reported until last Thursday, but the opponents could not say that they had not full knowledge of the matter. He protested against the statement that a clause in the Bill enabled the Companies to raise their rates. During the last two years the Companies had been charging under special circumstances rates which he could only characterize as ludicrously small. The dock accommodation in London could not be maintained in a state of efficiency if the charges which prevailed of late were continued; and the Bill provided that no charge made should exceed the lowest maximum now permitted to either company by law, which maximum prior to 1885 had never been enforced, and would probably not be enforced under this Bill. The Bill in no way sanctioned preferential rates, and it was misrepresented when it was described as a measure to raise rates or to sanction preferential agreements.
§ THE EARL OF ABERDEEN
said, he trusted, after the clear statement of the noble Earl, the Bill would be allowed to proceed. With regard to the question of the opportunity which the Opposition had of presenting their case, he would say that they were not only fully heard, but protective clauses were inserted. As the Port of London was largely affected, it would be a serious matter to interfere 1355 with the progress of the Bill. He failed to see what would be gained by postponement.
THE SECRETARY TO THE BOARD OF TRADE (The Earl of ONSLOW)
said, that shipowners interested in the matter desired that their Lordships should be asked to postpone the third reading. But it was not the province of the Board of Trade to interfere after the matter had been decided by a Select Committee. This Bill had been under the consideration of the other House for five days and of their Lordships' House for six days, all the points were fully brought forward, and the decision was arrived at after hearing all that was to be said on both sides. Therefore, if their Lordships went to a Division, he would support the Chairman of the Committee.
§ THE CHAIRMAN of COMMITTEES (The Duke of BUCKINGHAM and CHANDOS)
said, that the opponents of the Bill came to him before the meeting of the House and wished that he should recommend the House to postpone the Bill. When he asked their reasons they stated they desired to get in Amendments, but he told them that no Amendments had been delivered according to the Standing Orders. It appeared, however, that the Amendments in question had been submitted to the Committee and the Committee had not accepted them. In these circumstances, he could not think it consistent with his duty to recommend the postponement of the Bill, which was of great financial importance to the promoters, and which had gone through the ordinary course of inquiry by Select Committees of both Houses.
§ On Question, that ("now") stand part of the Motion, resolved in the affirmative: Bill read 3a accordingly, with the Amendments, and passed, and sent to the Commons.