§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
said, there was a principle of public policy involved in this Bill, and he wished to direct the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade to it. Commissioners had been appointed last year to inquire into the local charges on shipping in all parts of the United Kingdom, and they had reported that all charges upon shipping levied in docks and harbours, and not expended for purely maritime purposes, should be abolished. In consequence of that Report, the Government, he conceived, would feel it their duty to legislate on that subject; but if in the meantime that House passed private Bills of the kind now before them, which mortgaged the Liverpool harbour dues and pledged them for moneys to be raised for town improvement, they would entirely defeat the Government's intention. The improvement of the town of Liverpool should be effected by means of a borough rate; and he hoped the House would at least insert in the present Bill a clause to prevent those dues from being taken out of the future consideration of the Government.
§ MR. HADFIELD
said, the Liverpool dock and harbour dues amounted to 1632 125 000l. exacted mostly from the manufacturers of Yorkshire and Lancashire, who had thus to pay not only their own borough rates, but those of the town of Liverpool also. Further, it appeared that the freemen of Liverpool were entirely exempted from the payment of those dues. As there was no assurance from the Government with respect to this matter he must move the second reading that day six months.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, that early in 1852 the question of tolls and other dues levied on ships, from which the parties paying those dues derived no benefit, came under the consideration of that House; and the Government issued a Crown Commission for the purpose of collecting a mass of information upon which future legislation might be founded. At the same time Parliament enacted a clause in the Merchant Shipping Bill for the purpose of effecting the object the two hon. Gentlemen who had addressed the House had in view—namely, to prevent Parliamentary legislation being prejudiced in the meantime by pledges and mortgages. That clause was now in operation, and it would be his duty to take especial care that no Bill passed the House exempting any fund from the provision of that clause. He had had an interview that morning with the Chairman of the Liverpool Docks and of the Liverpool Finance Committee, who had placed in his hands a paper containing what he considered to be a stipulation that the present Bill should not pass through Parliament without a careful reservation of the clause in question. It would, therefore, be impossible to pledge the Liverpool dock and harbour dues without the consent of the Lords of the Treasury and of the department over which he (Mr. Cardwell) had the honour to preside, and he for his part should take care to prevent the objects of Parliament being forestalled in any way. This was a question of very great importance and of very great difficulty. It ought in any case to be viewed dispassionately, and not to be prejudiced by hills passed in the meantime. The present Bill was one for the improvement of the town of Liverpool, and he did not think it would be at all just to 1633 stop it on the second reading, more especially when the clause to which he had referred was not at all to be prejudiced.
MR. H. T. LIDDELL
said, that after the assurance of the right hon. Gentleman to the House that an understanding had been arrived at not in any way to prejudice a free and full consideration of the ulterior question, he trusted the House would have no hesitation in permitting the Bill to go through a second reading.
§ MR. HADFIELD
said, he had been intrusted with petitions against the Bill, but, solicited as he was, he should not stand in the way of the second reading if the right hon. Gentleman would give him an assurance that the Bill should contain a clause providing that no prejudice should arise to future Parliamentary legislation.
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, that no prejudice to ulterior legislation should arise from the passing of the Bill.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read 2o.