HC Deb 31 May 1842 vol 63 cc1048-56
Sir C. Napier

moved, that the petition of Captain Manby, respecting his plan for saving lives from shipwreck, be referred to a select committee.

Sir R. Peel

was afraid, the attention of the House had not been sufficiently attracted to this petition, probably under the impression, that the debate on the third reading of the Property-tax Bill would have occupied more time. It would have been better, he thought, that this petition should have been referred to the Board of Admiralty, before submitting it to a committee of the House of Commons. A public department would, in his opinion, investigate a subject of this nature better and more satisfactorily than a committee could do. The motion ought not to be acceded to with out consideration, because there were various other inventors preferring claims—Mr. Warmer among others—who might desire a similar indulgence; if this were permitted, and demands to a great extent might thus be made on the public money. Then the secrecy which was described to be necessary by some of these inventors, perhaps, might run some risk before a committee of the House. He did not wish to establish such a precedent in matters of this nature, and he thought, that at any rate it would be better under all the circumstances to postpone the consideration of the motion until another day, but he was inclined to think, that the still better course would be to submit the matter to the Board of Admiralty in the first instance.

Sir G. Cockburn

recommended the withdrawal of the petition.

Mr. Hume

wished to know, whether the matter had already been under the consideration of the Admiralty? He did not recollect any instance of a committee having been appointed until the proper department had considered the matter.

Captain Pechell

thought, the motion ought not to be postponed unless the right hon. Baronet gave an assurance that the matter should be submitted to the Admiralty.

Sir R. Peel

said, he wanted time to read the petition, and if it should appear to him, on reading it, that any public advantage would result from an investigation of the plan, he should recommend the Board of Admiralty to try the experiment. But he must say, that if the House of Commons was to sanction the principle that experiments of inventions of this kind should be made at the public expense, he hardly knew how far they might involve themselves in expense. Any one who had ever been in a public situation could testify that almost every day three or four letters came to them by the post from inventors stating that they were too poor to institute the necessary experiments, and asking that they might be undertaken at the public charge, a request involving, in many instances, an expenditure of 300l. or 400l.

Sir C. Napier

said, that if the right hon. Baronet would give him an assurance that the plan should be submitted to the proper authorities, he would consent to withdraw the petition.

Sir R. Peel

said, on looking to the petition, he found, from a paragraph near the commencement, that a part of Captain Manby's plan embraced the improve- ment of the harbours on the eastern coast by the removal of sand bars, &c. Now, he knew what the improvement of sand bars was, and he really thought that it was necessary that he should go through the petition before they agreed to a motion of this kind. He hoped the hon. and gallant Gentleman would consent to a postponement, that he might see whether the matter was one which he could refer to the Board of Admiralty.

Sir C. Napier


Debate adjourned to Thursday.

House adjourned.