HC Deb 29 July 1844 vol 76 cc1510-1

On the Question that the Speaker leave the Chair, for the House to go into a Committee on the Merchant Seamen's Bill.

Mr. Forster

objected to the Motion. The Bill was, in his opinion, improperly pressed forward at that period of the Session. It was an attempt to navigate ships by Act of Parliament—and an improper interference between masters and men. He hoped the Bill would not be persevered in during the present Session.

Mr. H. Hinde

said, he did not feel such strong objections to the Bill as the hon. Gentleman opposite, but he must say he regretted, with him, that it was brought forward at so late a period.

Mr. S. Herbert

said, he had had many communications with shipowners in reference to this Bill; and out of three alterations, which were all that had been suggested, two had been adopted. He believed the measure was a most useful one, and would confer great benefit both on masters and seamen. Most of the provisions had been suggested by his right hon. Friend (Sir J. Graham) at a former period: but they were not proposed because at that time the greatest prejudice existed against any interference. The Government felt it their duty to proceed with the Bill this Session.

Mr. Hutt

certainly wished that the Bill had been brought forward at an earlier period of the Session, but he would rather it was proceeded with this Session than postponed until the next.

Sir C. Napier

said, that the Bill was a most important measure, both for masters and seamen, and he thought the country at large was greatly indebted to the Government for bringing it forward. He believed this Bill would do much to put an end to the impositions which were practised by crimps upon sailors.

Mr. Hume

said, the Government had no doubt full power to pass any measure they pleased, but the question was, whether it was prudent to interfere in this manner at the present time? In his opinion it was not.

Sir J. Graham

said, there was nothing new in the provisions of this Bill. All its leading provisions had formed the subject of discussion for months between the Admiralty and the shipowners, and he believed the latter were generally in favour of the measure before the House.

Sir M. O'Ferrall

supported the Bill. He described the beneficial effects of the sailors' homes, and recommended their establishment in all seaport towns, and threw it out for the consideration of the Government whether they could not establish a system between the masters of vessels and sailors' homes for the supply of the sailors with good clothing, in order to prevent their being robbed and defrauded by the persons called crimps.

Motion agreed to. Bill passed through the Committee. Bill to be reported.

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