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Dover Harbour—Question

Volume 229: debated on Monday 29 May 1876

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asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, If he will lay upon the Table of the House the Report of the Committee recently stated to have been appointed by the former Administration, consisting of the President of the Board of Trade, Chancellor of the Exchequer, First Lord of the Admiralty, and Secretaries of State for War and Foreign Affairs, to investigate and report on the works at Dover Harbour; and, if he will explain the intentions of Government in respect to spending more money on Dover Harbour works, or on Harbour improvements along the dangerous parts of the coasts?

, in reply, said, he was not officially in possession of either the Report or the records to which the hon. and gallant Member referred; indeed, he was not aware whether any Report had been made by the Com- mittee named. He presumed, from the hon. and gallant Member's statement, that there had been a sort of Cabinet Council, consisting of certain Heads of Offices, and that they conferred together on the subject; and no doubt the late Government did agree to the introduction of a Bill with reference to Dover Harbour, but he presumed there was no formal record made by any such Committee. The hon. and gallant Gentleman was perfectly aware that a Bill on the subject of the Harbour was prepared before the last Session, and that last Session a similar Bill was submitted to a Select Committee, of which he believed the hon. and gallant Gentleman was himself a Member. In consequence, however, of the great extension given by the recommendations of that Committee, the Bill was laid aside for consideration; and the Government, in reference to works and other matters of expenditure which they had in view, did not find themselves able to bring forward such a Bill during the present year. With regard to the second part of the Question, there were two different considerations to be borne in mind—namely, harbour works for the preservation of shipping which might apply to other places besides Dover, and works for military and naval defence. In reference to the first of these considerations, the policy of the Government was to encourage loans, through the Public Works Loan Commissioners, for the construction of Harbours of Refuge where the local authorities were unable to carry them out themselves. No doubt, the same course would be open to the Dover local authorities. As to military and naval purposes, the Government were not in a position at present to make any statement, but the subject was one which was under their consideration.