HC Deb 25 March 1835 vol 27 cc246-63
Mr. Hume

, in pursuance of his notice, called the attention of the House to the Report of the Select Committee on Light-houses, with a view to their consolidation under one management. This Committee was appointed in the last Session of Parliament, for the purpose of taking into consideration the state of the Light-houses in the United Kingdom, the expense of maintaining them, &c. Highly important as the subject was, it had never before undergone a sufficient parliamentary investigation. It was perfectly clear, from the evidence taken before that Committee, that not a year passed without the loss of many lives, and the sacrifice of considerable property, for want of adequate lighthouses on the coasts of Great Britain and Ireland. The evidence also proved the existence of the greatest abuses in the management of the existing light-houses; and it appeared that, in England, those abuses prevailed in a tenfold degree as compared with the abuses in Scotland or Ireland. The greater part of the lighthouses were placed, by charter, from the Crown, under the management of the Trinity-house; but many of them were the property of private individuals; and the latter constituted one system of jobbing and plunder. He would read some extracts from the Report to show the number of public and private light-houses, and their comparative charge on the public; but, before he gave the particulars, he would remark, that it was surprising that while the shipping interests in the country were complaining of the distress which they stated they suffered from the competition with foreign ships, no steps should have been taken by the Government of the country to relieve them from the exactions to which they were so long exposed by the tolls collected from those lighthouses. The hon. Gentleman then read the following summary of light-houses in the United Kingdom:—

Lighthouses. Floating.
Trinity-house 42 13
Under management of do 1 1
Private hands On lease from do 3 0
———Crown 7 0
Patent, Act of Parliament 4 0
57 14
Local, or Habour do. 51 4
108 18
Northern Light 25 0
Local, or Harbour do 28 0
53 0
Ballast Board 23 3
Ballast Harbour 9 0
Ballast Harbour. Without revenue 5 0
37 3
Public Light-houses. Floating. Local. Total.
No. 1.—England. 57 18 51 126
2.—Scotland. 25 0 28 53
3.—Ireland. 23 3 14 40
Total of each. 105 21 93 219
The whole north-west coast of Scotland was in such a state, for want of lighthouses, that it was not surprising that so many shipwrecks occurred upon it. He could say, also, that on the west coast of England, there was a great annual loss of vessels and lives from a want of lights. The next question was, as to supporting these lights. Now, it appeared, that the fifty-five public land-lights were kept up at an expense to our shipping of 83,000l. a-year; the expense of collecting cost 6,6001., and the maintenance, 35,500l., leaving a surplus of 4,885l. in the hands of the Trinity House. What was the ground of charging this large surplus on our shipping? This was no doubt an extravagant demand, but what was it compared to the charge for the private light-houses? The cost to the shipping for fourteen private lighthouses, was 79,676l. a-year. The expense of collection was 10,000l. a year, an immense sum for that amount, and what did the House think was the charge for maintenance? The sum was 9,100l.; so that deducting the charge for maintenance of 9,100l., there was taken from the pockets of the shipping interest the sum of 70,000l. a-year for no advantage whatever to them, but to enrich individuals. But even allowing for the enormous and extravagant charge of collection, the public paid 60,000l. a-year, which went into the pockets of private individuals, and for what?—for the trouble of laying out 9,100l. for the maintenance of those lights. Was this to be borne? But was it not more intolerable, when it was known that with all this enormous outlay, our coasts were notoriously defective in lighthouses? In Scotland, the nett surplus, after deducting the expenses of maintenance and collection, was 20,051l., but this surplus was not wasted, but was applied to the erection of new light-houses, and other harbour improvements in that country. In Ireland, though the expense of maintenance was 18,805l., there was still a nett surplus of 21,595l., which was also applied to the same purposes as in Scotland. But if the surplus receipts in Ireland and Scotland were not improperly disposed of, was that the case with those of England? He answered no. The Trinity House had already an accumulated fund of upwards of 150,000l., and were still in the receipt of a surplus annual revenue of 32,000l. and upwards. That surplus amount, it was true, they expended annually in pensions to sailors, masters' mates, and their widows. With that Administration he was not inclined to find fault, but his objection was, that alterations which had been recommended by two Committees which had been appointed by the House, had not been effected. Besides the light-houses under the control of the Trinity Houses, there were fourteen lights held by private individuals. Of these there were three classes—first, three lights, which levied annually about 23,000l., while the cost of maintenance was only about 2,700l.; by the second class, consisting of seven light-houses, 24,800l. was levied, though their expense of maintenance was only about 2,700l.; and by the third class, comprising four light-houses, a sum exceeding 31,000l. annually was levied, the charge of maintaining which four light-houses did not exceed 3,216l.; thus showing that 79,376l. was levied for these fourteen lights from the public, while the expenses for their maintenance was only about 9,000l. He was sure that it was only necessary for him to mention this fact to induce the House to concur with him in the opinion, that this state of things ought not longer to be allowed to exist. He contended, however, further, that the Trinity House should never have been permitted at any period to lease out their powers, because by doing so they had lost their control, and while they had made considerable reductions in the charges for their lights, the public were saddled with the higher scale of charge by individual leaseholders. It was but right, however, to state the aggregate amount of the receipts and expenditure of some of the light-houses so leased. He had already stated, they comprised three classes; he would take one of the second class comprising seven light-houses, held by individuals under leases under the Crown for a period of years. In Harwich, for instance, leased to General Rebow, the gross receipts for the year 1834 were 9,270l., the expenses of collection 1,196l., and the maintenance 420l., leaving a nett surplus of 7,654l., of which 4,594l. Was paid to the Crown, and 3,060l. to the lessee. It was worthy of remark, that though his Majesty had been advised to renew these leases in 1817, their renewal was in direct defiance of Committees of the House, and of the opinions deliberately given by the then Law Officers of the Crown. Next came the case of the Dungeness light-house, the lease of which had also been renewed to Mr. Thomas William Coke, contrary to the recommendation of the Committee of that House, and after a pledge from the late Mr. Huskisson and the present Secretary-at-War, then a Minister of the Crown, to give the subject a proper consideration; yet notwithstanding this, and further in contravention of the Treasury correspondence annexed to the Report, from which it appeared that the lease was not to be renewed, it was renewed in 1827 or 1828, upon a letter directing such a course. Returning, however, to the receipts, &c, of the Dungeness light-house, it appeared that even on a reduced scale, the amount levied in 1832 was 5,484l., the collection of which cost 720l., and the expense of maintaining it was 628l., leaving a nett surplus of 4,136l., which was divided in the proportions of 2,068l. to the Crown, and 2,068l. to the lessee, Mr. Coke. In the case of Wintertonness, leased to Lord Braybrooke, the receipts levied, had at the same period been 9,545l., though the expenses of collection were only 1,153l., and of maintenance, 864l., so there was a nett surplus of 7,527l., and which surplus was divided thus—3,763l. to the Crown, and the same amount to the noble lessee. He would not trouble the House with the details of the smaller light-houses of this same class, suffice it to say, that the receipts of these seven light-houses in one year amounted to 24,862l., from which deducting 2,072l. for the expense of maintenance, and 3,139l.for collections nett surplus remained of about 19,650l., divided in the proportion of 10,425l. to the Crown, and 9,224l. to the lessees. Another class of light-houses were the three which had been leased to individuals by the Corporation of the Trinity House (leases which he contended that body had no power to grant). These cases were those of the Longships, the Smalls, and the Mumbles light-houses. The Smalls had since, however, been very advantageously placed in the hands of Local Commissioners. But the Longships light-house had realized in the gross in the year 1831.1832 7,393l., whilst the per centage on collection was only about 1,074l. and the expense of maintaining it about 1,100l., and thereby leaving to the leasehold proprietor Mr. Smith) a surplus of 5,036l. The receipts of the other light-house were 16,265l., for which the charge for collecting, was 2,359l., and the expense of maintaining them, about 2,471l., so that in this case a surplus sum of upwards of 11,400l. went into the hands of the lessees, and on the whole the House would see that out of 23,678l. levied, no less a sum went to the lessees than 16,496l. He would next refer to the four light-houses granted by patents and sanctioned by Acts of Parliament, to individuals who now have the management of the lights, and receive the light duties for them. He would read to the House the return which had been laid before the Committee. The hon. Member accordingly read the following statement:—
Light-house. Gross Collection. Per Centage or Commission. Rent and Land-tax. Expenses for Maintenance. Nett Surpuls to Proprietors. Propriestors.
£. £. £. £. £.
Spurn High Light-house. 12,813 1,626 242 1,987 8,958 Benedict John Angel, Esq. and G. L. Thomson, Esq.
Tyne-mouth Castle, in fee. 3,844 462 689 2,693 Wm. Fowke, Esq.
Skerries, Co. Anglesey (in fee). 14,479 1,604 350 12,525 Sutton Morgan, Esq.
Total. 31,136 3,692 242 3,026 24,176
It appeared then by this Return, that 31,136l. was collected from the shipping of the country to give an income of upwards of 24,000l. to four individuals. On the whole, it appeared that the amount received for England alone, was, in round numbers, 162,000l., of which 101,000l. was not required to maintain the lights. If he took the whole account of the expenses of the United Kingdom for lighthouses, it stood thus in round numbers:—The amount collected, 242,000l., and deducting the costs of maintenance and collection, about 99,000l., a surplus remained of 143,794l. It then could not be denied that this was a great waste of the public resources, and there existed just grounds of complaint. If there were any responsibility in the Ministers, he should say, they ought to be impeached for this wasteful expenditure of the public money. What, however, had been the state of the case with respect to the Wintertonness light-house? When the lease was renewed, it was so in the face of the recommendation of that House, a renewal which he (Mr. Hume) contended, was little short of high treason. The lease was, however, so renewed, and in nine years up to the 1st of December, 1831, the gross collection amounted to 124,505l., of which, on the average, Lord Braybrooke received 1,000l. monthly. In spite of the recommendations of two Committees of the House, and in defiance of the opinions of the Law Officers of the Crown, that on their interpretation there was no power in the Crown to grant by any means to an individual the right of levying duties from his fellow-subjects—an opinion which had been since corroborated by numerous lawyers, the lease to Lord Braybrooke, was on the 1st of June, 1828, renewed for twenty-one years. If ever there was a case calling for the impeachment of the Ministry, this was such a case. Since these renewals, 96,843l. had been paid to the Crown, or, in other words, to the Commissioners of Woods and Forests, while 78,941l. had been distributed amongst three leaseholders. Now, whilst the Legislature was labouring to reduce trifling amounts of expenditure, by reductions of the number of workmen in the dock-yards, how was it possible to justify such a wasteful extravagance? Those who advised this, had not acted faithfully to the King or the country. They had betrayed both. And should the House of Commons hesitate to consent before long to an amendment of the system, he should think that the commercial interests, so long suffering from distress and difficulties—sufferings endured with great patience—would not long submit to the plunder which the system entailed upon them. He thought the House ought at least to consent to an Address to the Crown to cancel these leases, and to put an end to a system so unjustly brought about. The point, however, to which he was anxious particularly to call the attention of the House was, the recommendation of the Committee which had already reported to the House; with many points embraced in that Report, he unfortunately differed. He thought that the expenses of the light-houses of the country, ought to be placed on the same footing as the Consular charges, and those expenses ought to be defrayed as part of the public burthens, out of the public purse; and he was the more induced to that opinion, because his Majesty's ships, deriving equal advantages from the lighthouses, as the commercial traders, were excluded from the charges. The Committee appointed by the House, had obtained, through the intervention of the noble Lord, then at the head of the Foreign Department (Lord Palmerston), the ordinances of France, and the regulations of other countries; and with respect to the information contained in the appendix to the Report, he must say, that the example of France should be followed by levying a similar tonnage duty for the maintenance of the light-houses. By such a course, he believed that in this country all objects in this respect would be accomplished for 40,000l., instead of 250,000l., as was now collected. The expenditure might also be considerably lessened by an alteration in the mode of keeping the accounts, and in the manner of their collection. The House would be surprised to learn that in this country there were no less than 938 places of collection, which might easily be reduced to each port. He would read what the Committee said on this subject. To revert to the recommendations of the Committee, he would remind the House that they first recommended (and in it he concurred) that the light-houses of England, Scotland, and Ireland, should be placed under the direction of a Board resident in London, and should be regulated under one system. Another recommendation of the Committee was, that all the Northern lights should be placed under the superintendence of the Trinity House. Now, in that recommendation, he, for one, did not agree. He thought that another Board might be established, independent of the Trinity House, which would conduct this department of the public service with greater efficacy. The. Committee also came to another recommendation, which he had no doubt that the House would adopt, and that was, that the light-duties should be reduced to the lowest sum that was consistent with the due maintenance of those lights. Another recommendation was, that the light-dues should be levied on one plan throughout the United Kingdom, and the Committee preferred the plan adopted in Ireland, that a fixed sum should be paid to each light which a vessel passed. The Committee hoped that by the plan which they recommended, the expense of management would be much reduced, and that the funds which would be placed at their disposal by such reduction, would enable them to support new lights, when new lights were required. They also recommended that all lights which were in the hands of private individuals, should in future be transferred to those of the Central Board. There could not be any doubt as to the propriety of this recommendation. They also recommended that the profits arising from lights in the hands of private individuals, should be valued and allowed for. The hon. Member read the Resolution of the Committee with respect to the renewal by the Crown of the leases of light-houses now in the hands of private individuals. "The gross amount of light-dues collected for thirty-three lights, with 446 burners, in the year 1820, was 91,039l.; the charge for its collection, 10,859l.; the expenses of maintaining these lights, repairs, &c. 28,300l., leaving a net surplus of 51,880l. applicable to general purposes. In the year 1832, the sum collected for the same thirty-three lights was 64,364l.; the commission for collection was 4,996l., and the charge for repairs and maintenance, 27,658l., leaving a net surplus of 31,710l. for general purposes, and showing a reduction in the tolls, to the amount of 26,675l., or nearly one-third, and a reduction of more than half the expense of collection. The gross collection of duties for fifty-five lights in 1832, was 83,041l.; the charges of collection, 6,670l., and the expense of maintenance, 35,904l. leaving a net surplus of 48,667l. for general purposes; or, that the toll for fifty-five lights, is 7,998l. less in 1832, for fifty-five lights, than in 1820, for thirty-three lights, a reduction creditable to the Trinity Board, and beneficial to the shipping. The sum levied in 1832, more than was requisite to maintain the lights, was 40,467l., subject to the proportional share of the expenses of the office on Tower-hill, and the contingent expenses, amounting to 16,725l., being an increase in that branch of 4,576l. more in 1832, than in 1820, The rate per cent for collection of light-dues in England, varied from two and a- half to twenty per cent. In Scotland, ten per cent was allowed to all collectors, except 7l. 10s. at Leith; and in Ireland, by a Treasury order, the collectors of customs in Great Britain, retain five per cent., and the agent in London has two per cent, for receiving the money from the collectors. In recommending that all light-houses belonging to private individuals, whether by lease or patent from the Crown, should be transferred without delay to the Central Board of Management in London; and that after due inquiry, the profits of each of the lights so belonging to private individuals should be valued and paid for. Of the propriety of this recommendation he thought it impossible for any reasonable man to entertain a doubt. He was also decidedly of opinion that the 32,0002. allowed at present for pensions out of the revenue derived from light-house dues should be abolished, or at all events that they should be accounted for under a separate head, and paid out of a separate fund. But when he recollected that the 24,000l. a-year hitherto deducted from seamen's wages, were, by a Bill of last Session, taken from the hospital at Greenwich, and made available to the support of aged and decayed sailors in every port in the kingdom, he thought that the 32,000l. paid out of the light-house dues for pensions could no longer be required. He had but one other remark to make. He thought, in common with the hon. Member for Hull (Mr. Hutt), that the people of England should be freed from the expense of maintaining the Heligoland light-house. He hoped that he had now said enough to point out to the House the actual situation of the light-houses on the coasts of the United Kingdom; to make it acquainted with the different systems and the different boards under, and by which they were managed; and to convince it that that diversity of system and of boards occasioned a great increase of trouble and expense, both to those who paid and to those who collected the light-dues. If the House thought the recommendations of the Committee worthy of adoption, they would give him leave to bring in a Bill to carry those recommendations into effect, and to facilitate the consolidation of light-houses under one management. The hon. Member concluded by moving for leave to bring in such a Bill.

Lord Granville Somerset

did not rise to oppose the motion, but be could not agree to the proposition of the hon. Member for Middlesex, that individuals had no legal right to levy dues for lights. Those lighthouses were as much private property as any other species of property; and if they were to be taken out of the hands of the private individuals who now held them, suitable compensation ought to be made to them for the loss which they would sustain. He likewise maintained, that the hon. Member had no right to take 100,000l. from the land revenues of the Crown to buy up private lighthouses. Indeed, there would be no saving to the public in taking that amount out of the land revenues of the Crown, as it must be supplied from some other quarter. In point of fact, there would be no saving to the public in taking the expense out of the land revenues. With respect to the Heligoland lighthouse, he would only say that two-thirds of the expense of that light were not paid by the British public. The noble Lord defended the pensions allowed out of the fund derived from the dues imposed for the maintenance of lighthouses; but he would abstain, upon that occasion, from entering into the whole of the details brought forward by the hon. Member for Middlesex. He had no objection to the introduction of a Bill founded upon the Report of the Committee, to provide for the better management of light-houses, but he confessed he should be sorry to see any central board established entirely independent of the Trinity House.

Mr. Cutlar Fergusson

was favourable to the establishment of a central board for the management of all the lighthouses in the kingdom. The inhabitants of that part of Scotland with which he was connected, were not at all satisfied with the administration of the Board of Northern Lights. He believed that the gentlemen of whom that Board was composed were men of the highest honour; but, in point of fact, they were entirely ignorant of nautical affairs, and, in consequence, left the whole management of the lights to their engineer, who had often a personal interest in erecting them in places where they were not so much required as in others. The hon. Gentleman proceeded to complain of the want of proper lights in the Solway Frith, which, with the exception of the Red Sea, (and he would scarcely even make that an exception) was acknowledged to be the most dangerous navigation in the world. He had for many years endeavoured to induce the Board of Northern Lights to establish a proper light in the Frith, but his exertions had hitherto been unsuccessful; and many shipwrecks, accompanied with great loss of life and property, had in consequence occurred almost in sight of the town (Kirkcudbright) which he had the honour to represent. In a maritime country like England, no expense should be spared in the erection of proper lights on every part of the coast. He thought that the whole of the light-house establishment should be a national establishment, and that no dues should be imposed upon vessels for the particular lights they might be compelled to pass. The establishment should be national, the expense national. If the title of private individuals to particular lights could be proved to be good, they ought undoubtedly to receive compensation; but if their titles were not good, they should no longer be allowed to continue so great an abuse.

Colonel Parry

concurred in the opinions expressed by the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Kirkcudbright. The question ought not to be one of pounds, shillings, and pence, but one of which the object was national. He complained that there was much loss of property on the coast of North Wales. He could mention a circumstance which strongly marked the necessity of some improvement in the system regarding lighthouses. Within the last week a vessel of the value of 12,000l. including the cargo, belonging to Sir John Tobin, went to the bottom, and was entirely lost, on the coast of North Wales, in consequence of the want of proper lights on that part of the coast. He trusted, however, that whatever alterations might be made by the proposed measure, the poor and industrious mariner, who had led a life of fatigue in the service, might not be injured.

Mr. Aaron Chapman

would not anticipate any objections to the Bill intended to be brought in by the hon. Member for Middlesex. For his part, he could have no feelings of regret at anything said by the hon. Member for Middlesex about the Trinity House, when he saw, that it was recommended that all the light-houses of England, Scotland and Ireland, should be put under the management of that Board. It was not correct to state, that the amount of expenses of collecting was so large as 20 percent. If the hon. Member looked to the scale of collection, he would find that the poor collectors at the seaports got only 7s. 2d. per cent. As for the Bill moved for, he would give no opinion on it. But he begged to premise, that, whatever the House did, clue regard should be had not to diminish the pension fund. The amount of that fund at the disposal of the Trinity House was considerably less than the calculation of the hon. Member. The right to that fund was laid down as clear as noonday by the Lord Chancellor, by Sir Fletcher Norton, and several other eminent lawyers, and not one jot of those pensions could be withdrawn from the persons to whom they were given. He did not envy the feelings of those Members who wished to stop the pensions allowed to old sailors, their widows, and children. The money was raised by the prerogative of the Crown, and by the willing consent of those who paid it. No complaint, no memorial, had been received from any part of the country, calling for a reduction of the rates that went to those pensioners. Out of the number of pensioners now receiving allowances, when one dropped off, there were 3,000 ready to apply for the vacancy.

Mr. Ewart

was sorry to hear the noble Lord at the head of the Woods and Forests, resort to such a justification of the charges imposed upon the public by the owners of private light-houses, as that of their having made a considerable reduction in the charges originally exacted. He did not conceive that the gratitude of the public should be measured by the reduction of a charge which was originally unwarranted, and still remained extravagant. With respect to the measure now proposed to be introduced, he thought that the interests not only of the merchant but of the consumer, would be greatly benefited by it.

Mr. Shaw

said, that in that stage of the proceedings he should trouble the House but very shortly. He must, however, say a word on the part of the hon. Gentleman's (Mr. Hume's) statement, which related to Ireland, and that was of complaint against the hon. Gentleman; for, as had just been observed by the hon. Member(Mr.Chapman) who had addressed the House, that the hon. Member (Mr. Hume) had summed up his censure of the Trinity Board by recommending the entire management of the light-houses of the United Kingdom to be centered in that Board—so he had concluded his praise of the Ballast Board in Dublin by recommending its abolition. The lion. Member himself applauded the management, the economy, the whole system pursued in Ireland—yet he desired to merge the Board who conducted it in one of which he entirely disapproved. The hon. Member omitted to state a further difference between the two Boards; that the Members of the Ballast Board were acting gratuitously, while those of the Trinity were paid. He would not oppose the introduction of the Bill, but he reserved to himself the fullest liberty to object to the consolidation of the Irish with the English management on these three grounds—the excellent conduct of the Ballast Board,—the declared opinion of the shipping and trading interests of Ireland in favour of the present system so far as regarded Ireland—and the principle, which he felt strongly, that public boards or establishments should not be unnecessarily removed from Ireland to this country.

Mr. Wyse

concurred in the praises which had been bestowed upon the hon. Member for Middlesex, for the very distinct manner in which he had brought the motion before the House; and if any confirmation were necessary of the merit which was thus attached to that hon. Member, he (Mr. Wyse) should appeal for that confirmation to the speech of the noble Lord on the other side of the House (Lord G. Somerset), for a weaker defence against the charges which had been brought forward by the hon. Member for Middlesex, he (Mr. Wyse) had never yet heard, than that which had been made by that noble Lord. They had heard that night, what they had not of late been in the habit of hearing in that House—they had heard a well-deserved eulogium passed upon Irish economy, which, at the same time that it was highly creditable to that country, reflected the greatest disgrace, not so much upon the English nation, as upon the English administration. He would ask the noble Lord, how it came to pass, that the administration of one department in this country was not conducted with an equal degree of credit to that of the same department in Ireland? How it came to pass, that the same skill and integrity which he admitted to exist in the administration of that department in Ireland, was not to be met with in England? Also, what there was so peculiar in the administration of this department in Ire- land which might not be transferred to England? In every particular in which an administration ought to be good, they found in England it failed; it failed, inasmuch as there was a large expenditure in the collection—it failed, inasmuch as the mode in which the business was done was laborious, complicated, and expensive—it failed, inasmuch as there was a large accumulation of money, which was not applied to the specific object for which it was intended—and it failed, inasmuch as the whole manner in which it was carried on operated injuriously upon the interests of trade. Not one word had been said on the other side, by way of defence, against such charges as these. How came it that the noble Lord did not explain why the several leases which had been alluded to were granted by the Crown, upon the advice of the Privy Council, in defiance of the repeated recommendations of that House. An hon. Member on the other side of the House had talked about the prerogative of the Crown. What! was the prerogative of the Crown to be exercised in taxing the people? What! was the prerogative of the Crown to be exercised, not for the benefit of the people at large, but for the exclusive benefit of a certain noble Lord, who, by means of political or other influence, had obtained beneficial leases with the consent and approbation of certain influential persons? If that was the prerogative of the Crown, he would say, that such a prerogative ought to be diminished; and whatever measure might be introduced into that House for that purpose, he trusted it would always find, in the reformed part of it, a steady and determined support. Several means for remedying the evils existing in that department had been pointed out by the hon. Member for Middlesex, particularly with regard to the diminution of the expense attendant upon the collection; and, above all, the nationalising of the business, in bringing it under one uniform system. He so much approved of centralisation in the departments of Government; that he should like to see it more extensively adopted than it would be, if merely confined to the one now under the consideration of the House; but, as an Irish representative, he could not consent to see any centralisation take place, by which these departments in England and Ireland would be combined, until some better evidence had been given of the good conduct of the English Boards; for in that instance Ireland happened to be the reformed portion, and England that which was to be reformed. When they had sufficient experience that that reform had taken place in England, he should have no objection to a general centralisation, of which Ireland was to form a party, but until then he should hesitate to see an establishment which had been recognised as excellent, perhaps tainted and corrupted, by being put under the administration of a Board here. There has been a charge made by an hon. Member on the other side, that his hon. Friend, the Member for Middlesex, proposed, by his reform, to destroy the funds which had been applied to the support of orphans, and aged and afflicted persons belonging to the British service; but if he bad paid sufficient attention to the words of his hon. Friend, it would be found, that so far from diminishing, he wished to increase, the funds applicable for those purposes; he proposed merely that that fund should be more extensively applicable than it was at present.

Mr. Secretary Goulburn

denied, that there was a shadow of foundation for the charge of any peculation, or the appropriation of the light-houses' funds to favour persons professing certain political opinions. The right hon. Gentleman briefly adverted to the difficulties experienced by the Government in making the arrangements with the lessees of the light-houses; but he deferred entering more fully into the subject until the intended Bill should be introduced.

Mr. Murray

approved of the proposed measure, and earnestly trusted to see the commerce of the country relieved by the Bill of the hon. Member for Middlesex, from many of its present incumbrances. He thought the labour and care of the hon. Member deserved the approbation of the House and the country.

Mr. Fitzsimon

could not give a silent vote on a question of such interest to his constituents, in the county Dublin in particular, as well as to his country in general. He fully concurred in the well-merited eulogium passed by the hon. Member who had preceded him, on the vast labour and watchful care which his hon. Friend, the Member for Middlesex, bestowed upon this, as upon all other subjects connected with the welfare of these kingdoms—agreeing with that hon. Member generally in his political views, he the more regretted being on this occasion obliged to dissent from part of the proposed Bill—he meant the merging of the Ballast Office of Ireland in the Trinity-house of London. Already had Dublin to complain, that almost all her public boards and institutions had been taken from her. It was now proposed to take from her a board, that even in the speech of the hon. Mover, was admitted to have worked well—to have been, as far as regarded the management of the lights, almost beyond fault and to unite it, or rather merge it, in a London corporation, which the report proved had acted most improperly. He was a declared enemy to another union, which it was not now necessary to canvass, but here was proposed one of the most extraordinary legislative unions he had heard of—and which certainly was not likely to lessen his hostility to the other one—while he thought it would tend to make many of his countrymen converts to his opinions on that subject. Here it was proposed to unite an admittedly well-conducted Irish Board, against which no charge was made, with a most faulty London Board, against which great and expensive mis-management was proved—on the part of his country he must protest against such an injustice being done. Let his hon. Friend propose to abolish all the boards, free the shipping from the tolls and dues now paid by them, and support the lights economically and efficiently out of the general revenues of the country, in the same way as the consuls abroad are paid—both one and the other service being for the protection of commerce, and commerce being for the general benefit of all. Let his hon. Friend propose this, and he should have all the support in his power to give. But to the proposal now made, as far as related to Ireland, he must object; in doing so he looked but to the good of his country. He believed most of the gentlemen connected with the Ballast-office of Dublin were politically opposed to him; political difference, however, should never prevent him from asserting the rights of every portion of his countrymen. On the hustings he might have his political opponents, but once leaving the hustings he felt he was the servant of all, and to use his best exertions to promote the good of every portion of his constituents, while he sat in that House, should be his proudest boast.

The Lord Advocate

would have no objection to see the whole light-house system of the United Kingdom placed under the Board of Admiralty, but he did object to having it under the control of the Trinity Board. It should be recollected how the Trinity Board was constituted. It was formed by about twenty-two masters of ships, and from it the officers of the King's service were altogether excluded. In short, it was a self-constituted body, and he therefore, on the part of the people of Scotland, must say that it would be most imprudent to place such enormous sums of money in the power of any merely self-elected body, who would be likely to apply three-fourths of them in the way of pensions. He did not think that the lights already under the superintendance of the Board were so well attended to as to justify such a measure, but although he had many other objections to it he would not at that hour detain the House by entering into them.

Mr. Pease

said, that while he admitted the high character and honour of the Trinity Board, he considered some alteration was necessary, its constitution being of too restricted a character. He hoped that in any settlement of this question the expenses which had been incurred by the builders of private light-houses would not be forgotten.

Mr. Ingham

expressed his decided opinion that the great mass of people in the north of England, who were interested in the question, were perfectly satisfied with the management of the Trinity Board. The whole amount received for lights was 83,000l., of this sum only 23,000l. was expended in pensions, which afforded support to no less than 8,000 people.

Leave given to bring in the Bill.