HC Deb 09 August 1843 vol 71 cc402-6

Order of the Day for a Committee on the Coal Whippers Bill read.

Mr. Gladstone

moved, that it be an instruction to the Committee on the Bill, that they have power to introduce clauses for the relief of coal-fitters by staying actions which might have been or may hereafter be commenced against them for penalties imposed by the 1st and 2d of William IV., or the 1st and 2d of Victotoria, until the Lord Mayor for the time being should give his consent in writing thereto, and for fixing the re-payment of costs out of pocket.

Motion agreed to.

On the motion that the Speaker do leave the chair,

Mr. Hawes

objected to the Bill, on the ground, that the plain construction of the 15th clause would lead to a doubt whether it did not continue a taxation levied by a former Act.

Mr. Gladstone

said, that the taxation of 1d. per ton on coals, as provided by the 15th clause, was to be continued by the direct enactment of another Bill, until all the purposes of the fund created by the 1d. a ton duty should be accomplished, and no longer; but as there were certain words in the clause on which a doubt might be raised as to the continuance of the tax, he was willing that all those words should be struck out, when they came to the clause; but he would first take the opinion of the Speaker on the question of form, as to whether the irregularity referred to, did not vitiate the Bill, and whether it might not be necessary to bring in a new Bill?

The Speaker

said, it was clear that there was an irregularity in the former Bill in the clause referred to, which might, perhaps, render it necessary to withdraw the present Bill, and bring in a new one; but he would suggest, that they should first go on with the Bill, until they came to the 15th clause, and then strike out the words which created the doubt; but if the omission could not wholly cure the defect, then let the Bill be withdrawn, and a new one be introduced.

Mr. Hume

thought several parts of the Bill most pernicious in principle. The House had some years ago past an Act to put down combinations amongst trades or employments, but this. Bill would encourage combination, while it pretended to hold out protection. If it was necessary to protect the coal-whippers, he did not see why they should not have similar Bills for other trades. He moved that the further consideration of the Bill should be postponed to that day three months.

Sir C. Napier

supported the Bill, which was rendered necessary by the frauds, extortions, and impositions of the publicans who employed coal-whippers. He would support this and any measure which would tend to improve the condition of the seamen and workmen in the river.

Lord Seymour

opposed the Bill, as unsound in principle, though he gave full credit to its promoters for their good intentions.

Mr. B. Wood

differed from his hon. Friends who opposed the Bill. The coal-whippers one week with another earned from 26s. to 30s. a week, but of this sum they did not carry home to their families more than 15s. or 16s. This naturally produced great distress and great discontent.

The House divided on the question that the words proposed to be left out, stand part of the question:—Ayes 40; Noes 15: Majority 25.

List of the AYES.
Affix, J. P. Lowther, J. H.
Arundel and Surrey, Earl of Mackenzie, W. F.
Mackenzie, T.
Blackburne, J. I. Marsham, Visct.
Boldero, H. G. Napier, Sir C.
Broadley, H. Neville, R.
Bruce, Lord E. Newport, Visct.
Burrell, Sir C. M. Nicholl, rt. hn. J.
Corry, rt. hon. H. Northland, Visct.
Cripps, W. O'Brien, A. S.
Damer, hon. Col. Peel, J.
Darby, G. Polhill, F.
Estcourt, T. G. B. Pollington, Visct.
Flower, Sir J. Rose, rt. hn. Sir G.
Forman, T. S. Somerset, Lord G.
Fuller, A. E. Sutton, H. H. M.
Gladstone, rt. hn. W.E. Wood, B.
Greene, T. Yorke, H. R.
Hamilton, G. A. Young, J.
Houldsworth, T. TELLERS.
Howard, P. H. Baring, H.
Knatchbull, rt. hn Sir E. Pringle, A.
List of the NOES.
Barclay, D. O'Brien, W. S.
Chapman, A. Pechell, Capt.
Duke, Sir J. Scott, R.
Duncan, G. Seymour, Lord
Ferguson, Sir R. A. Wawn, J. T.
Forster, M. Wyse, F.
Henley, J. W. TELLERS.
Morrison, J. Hume, H.
Norreys., sir D. J. Williams, W.

House in committee. Main question agreed to.

On the first clause—Board of Trade to appoint four proper persons to carry the Act into execution.

Mr. Hume

protested against the appointment of so many Commissioners. The effect of appointing too many persons, would be merely to realize the proverb. "What's everybody's business is nobody's." He would suggest that the commissioner to be appointed should have a proper salary, he would conclude by moving an amendment, that one instead of four commissioners should be appointed.

Sir C. Napier

seconded the amendment, and hoped that the sense of the House would be taken upon the subject.

Mr. C. Buller

said, that the grievances under which the coal-whippers suffered were so great, that he was inclined to give his support to the Bill. He did, however think that the number of commissioners was too great.

Mr. Gladstone

intimated his willingness to abide by the sense of the House. The patronage of the proposed board would not be in the hands of Government. The Bill provided, that the power of appointing officers should be in the hands of the Commissioners, subject however, to the Board of Trade, which would have the power of dismissing these officers upon proper cause. The registrar would be the person upon whom the principal share of the business, under the Bill, would devolve; but there would be very many by-laws, in the construction of which the advice and co-operation of the board of Commissioners would be necessary. He thought that the Corporation of London would dicharge the duties of appointing these commissioners honesty and efficiently.

After some conversation, the Committee divided on the question that the words four fit and proper persons stand part of the clause:—Ayes 49; Noes 12: Majority 37.

On clause 2, "Corporation of London to appoint four other fit and proper persons, &c."

Mr. Forster

moved "to strike out the word 'four' and insert the word 'two' instead.

The Committee divided, on the question that the word "four" stand part of the clause: Ayes 49; Noes 11; Majority 38.

Clause agreed to.

On clause 10, "coalwhippers to be registered, and all men above twenty years of age, desirous of following the employment, to be registered."

Mr. Forster

moved to omit the words "above twenty years of age."

After a short discussion, the committee divided, on the question that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause: Ayes 54; Noes 11; Majority 43.—Words omitted.

Clause agreed to.

On clause 15, "money may be raised on the credit of the duty of one penny per ton on coals, under Act 1 and 2 Will. 4th, c 76."

Mr. Hawes

objected, that it was a fresh tax on coal. The Speaker had the other day overruled his objection, and stated that it was insufficient at that time to stop the progress of the bill. In order to meet the Solicitor-general's opinion, the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) had been obliged to omit certain words, and to add a proviso against raising the 1,000l., if the purposes for which the fund was granted by the 1st and 2nd of William 4th had been already satisfied. He had a right to assume that the bill was informal, if he could show that there was the possibility of imposing a new tax. The clause prevented a farthing being taken from the fund, and if this were so, it was clearly an addition. [Mr. Gladstone: The 1,000l. is to be borrowed on the credit of the fund.] To borrow on the credit of the fund was the same as to borrow from the fund itself, as in both cases the fund was liable. The House had always been exceedingly jealous of any irregularities of this kind. Under these circumstances the hon. Gentleman would do well to omit the clause, and leave the corporation of London to find the 1,000l. itself.

Mr. Gladstone

said, that nothing was more fallacious than to confound the loan of money on the credit of a fund with a loan from the fund itself. He moved that certain words in the clause objected to by the Solicitor-general be omitted.

Clause amended accordingly.

The committee divided on the question that the clause stand part of the bill: Ayes 56; Noes 22; Majority 34.

List of the AYES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Irving, J.
Acton, Col. Lefroy, A.
Boldero, H. G. Lincoln, Earl of
Boyd, J. London, Lord Mayor
Brooke, Sir A. B. Lygon, hon. Gen.
Bruce, Lord E. Mackenzie, T.
Bunbury, T. Mackenzie, W. F.
Corry, rt. hon. H. Manners, Lord J.
Cripps, W. Marsham, Visct.
Darby, G. Maxwell, hon. J. P.
Dickinson, F. H. Milnes, R. M.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Newdegate, C. N.
Douglas, Sir H. Nicholl, rt. hon. J.
Eliot, Lord Palmer, G.
Flower, Sir J. Peel, J.
Gladstone, rt. hn. W.E. Pollock, Sir F.
Gordon, hon. Capt. Rendlesham, Lord
Gore, W. R. O. Roche, E. B.
Goring, C. Rushbrooke, Col.
Goulburn, rt. hon. H. Sanderson, R.
Hardinge, rt. hn. Sir H. Sandon, Visct.
Hardy, J. Smith, rt. hn. T. B. C.
Henley, J. W. Somerset, Lord G.
Hope, hon. C. Sutton, hon. H. M.
Howard, P. H. Taylor, E.
Hutt, W. Trotter, J.
Inglis, Sir R. H. Wellesley, Lord C.
Wood, B. Freemantle, Sir T
Young, J. Pringle, A.
List of the NOES.*
Baring, rt. hon. F. T. Gibson, T. M.
Barnard, E. G Mitchell, T. A.
Bowring, Dr. Morris, D.
Brotherton, J. O'Ferrall, R. M.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Pechell, Capt.
Corbally, M. E. Plumridge, Capt.
Crawford, W. S. Scott, R.
Duncan, G. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Duncombe, T. Wawn, J. T.
Ebrington, Visct.
Ferguson, Sir R. A. TELLERS.
Fitzroy, Lord C. Hume, J.
Forster, M. Hawes, B.

*This and the lists above comprise nearly all the Members who took part in the several discussions, and voted in the different divisions.

On the 22nd clause, "penalty on shipmasters employing non-registered persons, or coalwhippers, not being part of the crew of his vessel, or other vessels engaged in the coal trade."

Amendment moved to leave out the words "engaged in the coal trade."

The committee divided on the question that the words stand part of the clause; Ayes 15; Noes 68; Majority 53.

Remaining clauses agreed to.

The House resumed.

Bill to be reported.

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