HC Deb 26 August 1831 vol 6 cc668-9

Lord Althorp moved the Order of the Day for the House to resolve itself into a Committee of the whole House on the Reform of Parliament (England) Bill.

Colonel Sibthorp

wished to take that opportunity to put a question to the hon. Gentleman opposite, the Under Secretary for the Home Department. He was encouraged to do so from the courtesy with which the hon. Gentleman had answered his question on a former evening, with regard to the melancholy subject of the loss of life occasioned by the disasters of steam-vessels. He had that morning received several letters from individuals in Liverpool interested in this distressing catastrophe, and in those letters, a circumstance was mentioned, to which the writers were desirous that the attention of Government should be called. It was stated, in those letters, that the office from which this vessel (the Rothsay Castle) sailed, was an office that had assumed the sanction of his Majesty's name, and that the vessels which sailed from that office, this Rothsay Castle amongst the rest, were described as "his Majesty's War-office Steam-packets." Such a circumstance as that induced strangers to place greater reliance upon such vessels. He wished to know, whether offices of this kind had any right thus to assume the sanction of his Majesty's name. He begged to ask, especially with regard to this office in Liverpool, whether it was a fact, that it assumed the sanction of the name of his Majesty, without the authority of Government? If that were the case, such a practice should at once be put an end to.

Mr. George Lamb

said, that no one was more impressed than he was with the necessity of having the fullest investigation instituted with regard to the melancholy transaction to which the hon. Member had referred. He (Mr. Lamb) had also received several communications from Liverpool on the subject. As to the circumstance to which the hon. Member had called his attention, he believed it was a fact, that the office from which this vessel had sailed, was one of those that had assumed the sanction of his Majesty's name. There was no doubt, that such a practice as that was wrong, and ought to be discontinued. Such a practice was highly objectionable in the steam-packet offices in Liverpool, and in other ports, which offices had no connexion with the Government, for strangers were thereby induced to believe, that the vessels from such offices, being in the service of Government, were of a superior description. The circumstance had arisen from the practice of the War-office contracting with such steam-packet offices for the transport of troops, but it was a thing that should be put a stop to.