§ Mr. Bethell moved the second reading of the Bridlington Harbour Bill. It was to be considered simply as a continuation of one which had been granted from time to time, and its object was for the continuation of works already in progress. Though it appeared in the character of a private Bill, it was in reality a public one, as its object was to afford protection to the lives and property of all engaged in shipping. When the first Bill was granted, the parties considered that they had made a contract with the public, by which they engaged to provide a harbour of refuge on a dangerous coast, with the understanding that the public would support them in acquiring from the House any further powers that might be necessary for the completion of their object; but, above all, they considered they were engaged in the cause of humanity, and therefore entitled to support. The harbour having been undertaken with these objects, and a great part of the works having been completed, he trusted the House would grant the parties power to complete their undertaking, and thus afford additional security to life and property. He was not 676 in favour of the general principle of passing tolls, and he stood up for the exception, not for the rule; but when the nature of the coast and the number of vessels daily passing along were taken into consideration, he was convinced the House would see the necessity of establishing a harbour of refuge to which vessels could run in case of danger. The promontory of Flambarough, which stretched five miles into the sea, formed, with another headland, a deep bay, in which Bridlington was situated, and in that bay not fewer than 300 vessels were at times collected for safety from the storms prevalent on the coast. But in case of distress there was no other harbour to which those vessels could run except Bridlington, and the average number which entered that port from distress was very great. He would particularly refer to the case of a large vessel, of upwards of 300 tons burden, which must have gone to the bottom if she had not been brought into Bridlington. Vessels in distress would have no other place of refuge on the coast except the mouth of the Humber, and, as every seaman knew, that was difficult to take, except when the wind blew in certain directions; and at all events, it was fifty miles distant from Flam-borough-head, where the greatest danger was to be feared. If this Bill were disallowed by the House all that had been previously done would be rendered comparatively useless, and there was but too much reason to fear that, in its unfinished state, a storm would sweep away all that had been done. In regard to the toll, he would say, that it was the interest of the parties to make it the smallest in amount which the necessary operations would allow, as, if they were to impose a heavy toll, the harbour would in every possible case be avoided. The amount proposed was only 1d. on every ten chaldrons of coals passing to the London market. Under these circumstances, he hoped those Gentlemen who were interested for the shipping interest would withdraw their opposition, and that the House, taking into consideration the safety which would be given by the undertaking to life and property, would allow the Bill to go to a Committee.
§ Mr. George F. Young
protested against passing tolls, and he was glad that that House and the Government had taken a similar view of the matter. The duty to be imposed by the present Bill was of a twofold character. There was to be a duty levied on tonnage, and another on coals, and to both of them there were many ob- 677 jections. As, however, the Committee on harbours of refuge had spoken favourably of the present undertaking, he would withdraw all opposition to the Bill, provided he distinctly understood from the hon. Member for Yorkshire (Mr. Bethell) that the clause imposing a duty on tonnage would be withdrawn, and that the duty on coals would not be continued after the present undertaking was finished for the purpose of constructing any new works.
Sir G. Strickland
The present was not a Bill for objects of speculation, nor for any new undertaking, but merely for the purpose of completing a harbour on which a large sum had already been expended, and which, if not completed, was in danger of being washed away.
§ Mr. Pease
opposed the second reading, as the shipping interest were all hostile to the undertaking. Considering the injustice of the toll proposed to be levied, he was astonished that the hon. Member for Tyne mouth should have consented to sacrifice the interests of the poorest class of persons concerned in shipping. It had been said that it was to be a harbour of refuge, but its situation rendered such an object impossible; for, not long ago, thirty vessels went to take the harbour and all grounded for want of water before they could reach the port The duty, too, would be heaviest on those vessels which from their size could derive no advantage whatever from the undertaking. He objected to the precedent which would be established, and would move as an amendment, that the Bill be read that day six months.
trusted the House would treat the Bill as it had done the one for the Scarborough harbour, and throw it out.
§ Mr. A. Chapman
thought the Bill should pass, as it was for the interests of the public and of humanity that a harbour of refuge should be established on such a dangerous line of coast.
Mr. B. Thompson
supported the motion. A person well acquainted with the coast had been asked where, if only one harbour of refuge were to be established, he considered the most eligible site was? His answer was Bridlington, and the number of vessels daily passing along the coast and the vast annual sacrifice of life and property showed the necessity for the construction of a harbour to which vessels might run when overtaken by storms.
§ Sir R. Peel
wished to view this Bill solely in connexion with the public good. It had 678 been observed, that though in form a private, it was in point of fact a public, Bill; and certainly, if it tended to increase the security of navigation, and to prevent the loss of life, as such it must be regarded. At the same time, when private parties, however desirable or important the object might be, asked the House to impose a duty on coals for the purpose of supporting a private harbour, it became very difficult for those who reflected on the important public consequences that might follow the sanctioning of such a principle by the Legislature to give a satisfactory vote upon the question. He had no hesitation whatever in consenting to the second reading of the Bill: but he thought it would be a great advantage to have, from some high and disinterested professional authority, a comprehensive view of the state of the harbours on the eastern coast. If, upon a survey instituted by the Admiralty, and conducted by engineers of eminence, it should be found that this harbour was either the best, upon the whole, for the commercial interests of the country, or at least likely to be productive of much good, and if more advantage were promised by imposing this toll than by forbearing to levy it, then he should be entirely reconciled to the measure; but for private individuals to select one point of the coast, upon a general allegation that the public interests would be promoted by forming a harbour there, was a ground of proceeding so vague and indefinite, that at present he could not form an opinion on it. They might be in error; they might be recommending Bridlington as the most suitable point, when on subsequent consideration another might appear superior. If Bridlington harbour were proved to be the best, he should acquiesce in the imposition of the toll; but if a different situation should eventually be found preferable, they might have to impose another toll for the construction of another harbour. He might appeal to all who had been engaged in inquiries relative to the comparative advantages of various proposed railways, whether great advantage had not arisen from consulting engineers of high professional skill, unbiassed by any connexion with the undertakings. Instances had occurred in which such persons had, by their able and disinterested reports, carried to the minds of all concerned a conviction of the truth of the views which they supported. He advised them to act on this principle in the present case. Let them agree to the second reading if they would, but let them 679 have the opinion of eminent professional men, procured by the Board of Admiralty, without reference to any locality, before they imposed a toll for the benefit of a particular place.
§ Sir Charles Adam
approved of the views of the right hon. Baronet. He should like to see such a report as that suggested by the right hon. Gentleman laid before the House. A survey had been for some time going on in the North of England, which he hoped might partly answer the end proposed. The hon. Member for South Durham (Mr. Pease) considered that a harbour formed at Redcar would better answer the purpose contemplated by the present Bill; and he (Sir C. Adam) certainly thought that if a toll were to be imposed on the shipping of the country, it ought to be to further a great undertaking like that, not a small harbour like Bridlington.
§ Sir E. Codrington
said, that Bridlington was the only point on that part of the coast which had a good roadstead, though Red-car was undoubtedly a situation superior to all others for a harbour of refuge for vessels of all classes. He thought it most material that the House should give all the assistance in their power to the improvement of Bridlington.
§ Mr. Hume
hoped that the suggestions made by the right hon. Member for Tam-worth would be attended to by Government, and that an inquiry would be immediately instituted, with the view of ascertaining the situations best adapted for harbours of refuge. He should vote against the second reading of this Bill.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 157; Noes 86: Majority 71.