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Harbours, Piers And Ferries (Scotland) Remission Of Debt

Volume 320: debated on Monday 22 February 1937

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Considered in Committee under Standing Order No. 69.

[Sir DENNIS HERBERT in the Chair.]

Motion made, and Question proposed,

"That, for the purposes of any Act of the present Session to make provision for the acquisition and construction by local authorities of harbours, piers, ferries and boatslips in Scotland, for the construction of new works connected therewith, and for the fixing and revision of dues thereat and at certain inland navigation undertakings, and for other purposes relating to the matters aforesaid, it is expedient to authorise the Secretary of State, by order, to make such provision as seems to him necessary with regard to any liabilities in respect of loans granted or deemed under the provisions of the aforesaid Act to have been granted to local or harbour authorities out of moneys provided by Parliament for the purposes of marine works the maintenance of which such authorities have resolved to discontinue under the provisions of the said Act."—(King's Recommendation signified)—[Mr. Wedderburn.]

11.56 p.m.

It cannot be right that the Financial Resolution of a Bill so far-reaching as this should be allowed to pass through Committee without any explanation. I am not aware of what arrangements have been made through the usual channels, but I am certain it was not agreed that the first mention of a Bill of this kind should pass through Committee without any explanation. The Bill contains 40 Clauses, it empowers local authorities in Scotland to acquire a large number of works, it exempts the largest of the modern works, and I should like to know for what reason this Measure is being brought in, on what grounds the Government justify the exemption of certain of the larger harbours, and to have a general statement on the provisions of the Bill.

When I moved the Second Reading of the Bill I explained as fully as I could the extent of the financial part, which is very limited, and is concerned with the provisions of Clause 19. It only concerns the discontinuance of certain works, and has nothing to do with any grants that may be given for construction, improvement, or maintenance. The Committee will see from the Financial Memorandum attached to the Bill that there is no direct charge on the Exchequer, but where a harbour is discontinued the Secretary of State may make provision for outstanding liabilities affecting the harbour, including liabilities in respect of loans granted out of money provided by Parliament. It is added that it is not possible to form an estimate of the amount of loans that will require to be written off, because it is not known what piers and harbours will be discontinued. It is an exceedingly small point in relation to the whole Bill. The Financial Resolution is simply concerned with the piers and harbours that may be discontinued under the Bill.

Question put, and agreed to.

Resolution to be reported To-morrow.