§ [SECOND READING.]
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
My Lords, in asking your Lordships to give a Second Reading to this Bill I would point out that a Bill of a similar character was introduced and passed through your Lordships' House last session, but owing to various reasons, into which I need not now enter, it did not make progress in another place. I have slightly amended the Bill since last year. In the Bill as it is now before the House I do not propose to include municipal authorities. It refers to county councils and to county councils alone, and I think your Lordships will admit that it is the 309 duty of county councils to keep the communications through the county and between one county and another open in perfect order. County councils perform the duty of keeping their roads in good condition, but, in the case of a recognised ferry, if the ferry boat goes down to the bottom of the river there is no power to allow a county council or to compel any person to place another ferry boat on the river in order to keep the communication open. I know a case in which a county council maintains an excellent road down to an old ferry, but the ferry boat is at the bottom of the river and there is no power to compel any one to put another boat on the river. The county council are anxious to do so, but there is no power to enable them to acquire the ferry. The County Councils Associations support this Bill as a matter of public utility, and I sincerely hope your Lordships will give it a Second Reading.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Viscount Galway.)
§ VISCOUNT ALLENDALE
My Lords, the noble Viscount, as he has reminded you, introduced a similar Bill last year, and I can only repeat what I then said on behalf of His Majesty's Government, that they do not offer any objection to the Bill and are, in fact, prepared to support it. Although the Bill is likely, as I think the noble Viscount admitted, to have only a limited application, there seems to be a prima facie case for it, and if it passes it should prove of utility in certain places such as those to which the noble Viscount referred. I had observed that, as he has pointed out, the scope of the present Bill is limited to county councils and does not extend to municipal boroughs and district councils. I need not say anything as to the desirability or otherwise of this limitation, but it may in consequence be necessary to amend the Bill in some points of detail. As ferries are usually of local utility rather than of service to a whole county, with the, possible exception of cases where the ferry serves to link up two main roads, the borough or district council or a combination of two or 310 more such authorities would seem the more suitable body to maintain it than the county council. It does not appear quite clear whether it would be right to charge upon the whole area of the county expenses incurred in respect of a ferry which was only of local benefit, and it is a question whether powers should not be given to county councils to charge the expenses incurred in respect of any particular ferry as special expenses on the parishes benefited by the maintenance of the ferry. One or two drafting Amendments will also, I think, be found necessary when we come to Committee. For instance, the first part of sub-clause (5) does not seem to be required, and the paragraph might begin with the words "The power" in line nine. The second paragraph of sub-clause (5) does not seem to be exactly a proviso, and the words "Provided that" might be omitted. But, as I have said, the Government have no intention of offering any opposition to the Bill; on the contrary; they support it.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.