§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
THE CIVIL LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (THE EARL OF LYTTON)
My Lords, very few words will be needed to explain the objects of this Bill. This measure has the same aim, and is dictated by the same necessity, as the Tramways (Temporary Increase of Charges) Bill which your Lordships passed a few weeks ago. This 903 Bill applies to ports and harbours in the same way as that did to tramways. The immediate necessity for it is the Report of a Committee of Inquiry, presided over by Lord Shaw, into the wages of transport workers. The Committee reported last March and recommended an increase of wages up to 16s. a day, and they added a clause to their Report as follows—The powers of many of the port and harbour authorities concerned to impose tolls and charges are regulated by Statute. If effect is given to the recommendations contained in this Report these authorities may find it necessary to have their powers amplified. The Court accordingly recommends that the Government should give immediate for the enactment of the alterations found necessary in the statutory powers of such authorities.It is in pursuance of that recommendation that the Government is introducing this Bill. On April 19 a deputation of dock employers and transport workers waited on the Ministry and urged the introduction of legislation on these lines. Both the employers and the workmen agreed that the increased wages should be paid from May 10, but the employers insisted that this payment should be dependent on obtaining powers to levy increased charges and so pass on to the public the new financial burden.
It is difficult to estimate the full extent of this concession, but it is calculated that the port of London alone will have its expenses increased to the extent of £35,000 a week, or £1,820,000 a year. If, therefore, some measure of this kind is not passed it would be impossible for these statutory companies to continue their business. The Bill follows the same lines as the Tramways Bill. Clause 1 enacts that the increased charges shall not be more than is sufficient to allow an undertaking to be carried on, if the undertakers are a public body not trading for profit, without loss, and, if the undertakers are private owners, to provide for interest on loaned capital and a reasonable return on share capital. The second subsection arranges, in order that all interests may be properly safeguarded, that questions of increase of rates and charges shall be referred to the Rates Advisory Committee of the Ministry of Transport. That is the purpose of the Bill, whose Second Reading I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(The Earl of Lytton.)
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.