HC Deb 31 July 1834 vol 25 cc793-5

On the Motion of Mr. W. Whitmore, the House went into a Committee on the South Australian Colonization Bill.

On Clause 16,

Mr. Barnard

rose to express an earnest hope, that new ships would be selected for the purpose of conveying the emigrants to Australia, and that proper officers would be appointed to survey them before they were suffered to leave our ports. He was desirous to draw the particular attention of the right hon. Secretary for the Colonies, whom he regretted he did not see in his place on the present occasion, to this most important subject, conceiving that of all cargoes, a cargo of human life was the most valuable, and that too great care could not be taken that they were embark- ed with everything they possessed in vessels that were perfectly secure. He thought this protection ought peculiarly to be thrown round emigrants from Ireland, as he regretted to say, that two instances had recently occurred, in which the lives of no less than 447 emigrants from the port of Limerick had been sacrificed from the unsound state of the vessels in which they were conveyed. He alluded to the instances of the Thames and the Astrea. He could not help observing, that considerable blame rested somewhere, and that the wrecks which took place were to be attributed in a great measure to the age of the vessels employed. He found, on reference to Lloyd's list, that in the last year, of the seven vessels lost, only one was under the age of twenty years, and when he informed the House that one-third of the whole tonnage of England, amounting to upwards of 330,000 tons, was reported to be upwards of twenty years old, he considered it of the greatest consequence that the serious attention of the Government should be directed to the state of the vessels employed.

Mr. Whitmore

concurred with the hon. Member in thinking it of the utmost importance that vessels containing so many human lives should be proved sea-worthy before they were suffered to leave the country, and he should take the opportunity of drawing the most serious attention to the subject. He wished also to observe, that the colony possessed the advantages of two of the finest harbours in the world, one of them being of a capacity to hold the whole navy of the country.

Sir Henry Willoughby

was desirous of knowing in what situation the emigrants would be placed if they fell sick, or in case the scheme should fail.

Mr. Whitmore

said, 160 settlers were anxious immediately to proceed to the colony with ample means, and as no labourers were to be sent out until there was a demand for labour, he thought, having no passage-money to pay, they would, with the assistance of those who were settled there, be adequately provided for.

Mr. Thomas Attwood

suggested, that it was of the very greatest importance to make some provision for the emigrants, in the event of a possibility of the failure of the scheme. No one would regret the failure of the scheme more than he should; but all that was in the power of the Legislature to do in such a case was, to take care that those persons who had embarked all their gleanings in such an undertaking upon the security and faith of an Act of Parliament, should not be left to perish in a foreign land. As the scheme was commenced by borrowing, and incurred further debt by creating capital, it was natural to suppose the principal movers of the project would not have a great abundance of means to protect the emigrants in the event of the scheme being wholly unsuccessful.

The House resumed: the Committee to sit again.