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New Bills

Volume 92: debated on Monday 1 April 1901

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Light Railways

I beg to ask for leave to bring in a Bill to continue and amend the Light Railways Act, 1896. The present Act will lapse on December 31st of the present year, and the Bill proposes that the powers of the Commissioners should be prolonged for a further period of five years, namely, until 31st December, 1906. The Bill also proposes sundry Amendments in the Act of 1896. Under that Act there is power to raise the salary of one of the Commissioners only. It provides that a salary not exceeding £1,000 a year might be paid to another Commissioner, who must be a barrister of not less than seven years' standing. It is the intention that the salary of the Secretary to the Commission should be increased, and that he should devote his entire time to the work. Changes are also made in regard to advances of money under the principal Act. The Treasury had power to advance money either by way of ordinary loan or by way of a special advance for the purpose of benefiting agriculture, fishing, or some other definite industry. The total amount which might be advanced under the Act of 1896 was £1,000,000, and of this the amount available for special advances was limited to £250,000. The Bill does not propose to alter the total amount available for advances, but to increase the sum available for special advances to £750,000. Up to the present time no money has been applied for by way of ordinary loan, but by way of special advances promises have been made to the extent of about £200,000. The Bill is quite short, but it is very desirable that it should be passed, otherwise the operations of the Light Railways Act of 1896, which has been extremely beneficial, will necessarily be brought to a close. I beg to move.

As the right hon. Gentleman has said, a Bill of this kind is absolutely necessary, and therefore I have no objection to offer to its being introduced. The points to which he has called attention will be discussed on the Second Reading, and it is hardly necessary that I should go fully into them now. But I take the opportunity of saying that it would be convenient, at the Second Reading, or as soon after as possible, if the right hon. Gentleman could give us a Return of all the moneys that have already been advanced.

As to the question of special grants as distinct from ordinary loans, I think experience has shown that the course the right hon. Gentleman proposes to take is called for. I would like to suggest, further, that, as the Bill will include a great many points of detail not mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman, some of which are subjects of difficulty, judging from what I know of the difficulty of working the present Act, I think it is desirable that a considerable interval should be allowed to elapse between the printing of the Bill and the taking of the Second Beading. As we will not be back till the 18th, I do not think the right hon. Gentleman should take the Second Reading within a fortnight or three weeks from that date, because it is desirable that the provisions should become thoroughly known. Subject to that, and perfect freedom when details are considered, I have no objection to offer to the introduction of the Bill.

Bill to continue and amend the Light Railways Act, 1896, ordered to be brought in by Mr. Gerald Balfour, Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Hanbury, and The Lord Advocate.

Light Railways Bill

"To continue and amend The Light Railways Act, 1896," presented, and read the first time; to be read a second time upon Thursday, 18th April, and to be printed. [Bill 137.]

Fisherles (Ireland)

I beg to ask for leave to introduce a Bill to amend the Steam Trawling (Ireland) Act, 1889.

I do not want to detain the right hon. Gentleman or to discuss this Bill, because I have had the opportunity of learning the right hon. Gentleman's views on the subject. I have risen for the purpose of expressing the hope that he will give the House some assurance that on some stage of the Bill, by preference the Committee stage, we will have some moderate opportunity of discussion. The principle of the Bill we are all in favour of, and we are anxious to see it passed; but we are not quite so unanimous in favour of all its details. I do not think that a long period will be required, but we cannot take the responsibility of allowing it to pass without any discussion.

I am well aware that the hon. Gentleman is in favour of the Bill, and also that amendments are desired on two or three subsidiary points. Although I cannot promise Government time, I think it would be reasonable that half an hour or three-quarters of an hour should be obtained at the Committee stage, and I should join the hon. Member in the request that there should be a limited discussion upon the details in Committee.

On that understanding I do not make any objec- tion; but if the understanding falls through, I must reserve my right to oppose the Bill at the Second Reading stage.

Bill to amend the Steam Trawling (Ireland) Act, 1889, ordered to be brought in by Mr. Wyndham and Mr. Attorney General for Ireland.

Fisheries (Ireland) Bill

"To amend the Steam Trawling (Ireland) Act, 1889," presented, and read the first time; to be read a second time upon Thursday, 18th April, and to be printed. [Bill 138.]

Dublin Corporation

Bill to amend sections twenty-three and twenty-six of the Dublin Corporation Act, 1900, ordered to be brought in by Mr. Wyndham and Mr. Attorney General for Ireland.

Dublin Corporation Bill

"To amend sections twenty-three and twenty-six of the Dublin Corporation Act, 1900," presented, and read the first time; to be road a second time upon Thursday, 18th April, and to be printed [Bill 139.]