§ LORD JAMES OF HEREFORD
My Lords, I have to appeal to the House generally, and to the noble Earl the Chairman of Committees especially, to consent to the suspension of the Sessional Order in order to permit the Pier and Harbour Provisional Order (No. 4) Bill to be read a second time. The Bill is of considerable importance locally and nationally. It gives power to build a pier and other harbour works at Berehaven, in the south-west of Ireland, with the object of establishing and running from thence a line of fast steamers between this country and America, which I am told should accomplish the voyage in four and a half days. The vessels will, I believe, be built in this country. I admit that considerable delay has taken place in advancing the Bill, but the explanation is that the Admiralty had to consider very carefully whether they could give their consent to the proposed scheme, having regard to the fact that they had powers for the construction of naval works for national purposes at Berehaven. The final assent of the Admiralty to the scheme was obtained only a few days ago, and since then Mr. Gerald Balfour, on behalf of the Board of Trade, has moved a similar motion to this in the House of Commons. That has been agreed to, and the Bill, having passed through the House of Commons, now comes up to this House. There, was not a whisper of opposition to the measure, and although I admit that there is no precedent for suspending the Sessional Order at so late a period of the session, I hope that in the circumstances the motion will be agreed to. The promoters are not in fault in any way, and the Government acquiesce in the view of the promoters, and agree that in the public interests the Sessional Order should be suspended and the Bill allowed to go forward.
§ Moved, That the Order made on the 21st March last, "That no Provisional Order Confirmation Bill brought from the House of Commons shall be read a second time after the 27th day of June next," be dispensed with, and that the Bill be now read 2a (The Lord James (for the Earl of Denbigh)).
THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (The Earl of MORLEY)
My Lords, I would point out that the motion to suspend the Sessional Order is not all that my noble and learned friend asks for; what is more important is that if this Bill goes through this session it will be impossible to carry into effect the important Standing Order which allows opponents of any measure seeking power to take land for the purpose of constructing works a week for lodging petitions. There is no precedent whatever for any relaxation of that Order. The House ought to be extremely jealous in allowing any such relaxation, for it is impossible to say, in that event, what injustice may be done. In this case, however, the Bill does not take land compulsorily; it takes land on the foreshore, which is under the control of the Admiralty, and therefore it is impossible that any private individual can be injured by the passing of the Bill. Under these conditions I must satisfy myself with the strongest possible protest that a course of this kind should not be repeated. It is not fair of Government offices to place the Houses of Parliament in the position in which the Admiralty have placed this House in the present case, and I protest in the strongest possible way against the action of the Admiralty in delaying the Bill. I repeat that this must not be regarded as a precedent for the future but after the appeal made to me by the noble and learned Lord, backed as it is by the Board of Trade and the Irish Office, I feel that it is impossible for me to offer any opposition to the motion.
§ LORD JAMES OF HEREFORD
thanked the noble Earl the Chairman of Committees, and explained that the delay had arisen solely out of the abundance of caution taken by the Admiralty in a matter of national importance.
§ On Question, agreed to; Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House to-morrow.