HC Deb 21 February 1848 vol 96 cc1035-6

called the attention of the House to the numerous shipwrecks, with the extensive loss of life, which occasionally occurred off the Shetland Islands, and to the great deficiency of coast lights on those islands. By an extract from Lloyd's books it appeared that no less than fourteen shipwrecks occurred from between the end of December to the 12th of February on those islands, the crews of seven or eight of which perished altogether. There was only one light on the islands; at least two other lights were required. Why were they not erected? It could not be for want of funds, for the Board of Northern Lights in Scotland levied a heavy charge on the shipping of the country for the purpose of maintaining lights on the coast, and they had a balance of upwards of 39,000l. in hand. The hon. Member expressed a hope that the Government would turn their attention to this subject, and concluded by moving for an abstract account of the amount of money levied by the Trinity-house and the Board of Northern Lights, Scotland, for the year 1847.


did not wonder the hon. Member should have thought it his duty to bring the subject before the House. It was one which deserved the attention of the Government. The construction of the Board at Trinity-house, and of the Commissioners of Northern Lights in Scotland, was most objectionable. The members were tradesmen, lawyers, or civilians of some other description, with hardly a sailor amongst them. But the whole system of lighting on our coasts, and of light dues levied on English and foreign ships, was objectionable. The United States never made any charge on account of lights, while we levied a charge on the ships of all nations. He hoped soon to see the mercantile navy of this country placed upon as respectable a footing as the navy of America or any other country. There ought to be a national board in England as in every other country, and one uniform system of lights established in England, Scotland, and Ireland.


would not on the present occasion say anything as to the manner in which the lights on the coasts of this country ought to be managed; neither did he intend to offer any opposition to the production of the accounts asked for by the hon. Gentleman. He was quite sure that the Board of Northern Lights would stand the test of any inquiry which the House might think proper to institute. They had just finished a lighthouse on the highway between England and America, at an expense of nearly 100,000l., and they had expended every sixpence which they had in their possession. He did not mean to say that if they had funds, they should not build lighthouses; but at this moment all their funds were absorbed. The deficiency in their funds might be accounted for by the reduction which they had made in the dues receivable from shipping.

Motion withdrawn.

House adjourned at a quarter before Twelve o'clock.