HC Deb 01 August 1853 vol 129 cc1115-35

Order for Third Reading read.

Bill read 3°.


said, he wished to propose a clause to the effect that where cases for salvage services are rendered by any ship belonging to Her Majesty, or by the commander or crew thereof, no claim shall be made or allowed for any loss or risk thereby caused to such ship, or to the stores or furniture thereof, or for the use of any stores or other articles belonging to Her Majesty, supplied in order to effect the salvage service.


said, he regretted that the clause did not go further, and that Her Majesty's ships should not render assistance to vessels in distress without claim of any kind. He thought it was demeaning to the Navy of England that they would not do their duty without being bribed. The United States Navy made no charge, neither did the Navy of France, while the charge made by Sweden was greatly modified; but this country, which ought to set an example of liberality to all the world, proclaimed by this clause that her naval officers and men required to be bribed to do their duty. He would not divide against the clause, but he protested against its insertion.


said, the British Navy had never been backward in the cause of humanity; but it ought to be remembered that the rescue of ships in distress was apart from the usual routine of naval duty; that it was accompanied fre- quently with loss of clothing, always with danger and personal suffering; and he was sure the merchant princes of England would not grudge them consideration. As to the United States Navy and that of France, he (Admiral Walcott) had reason to believe that a fund was provided for the relief of those who suffered in rescuing shipwrecked vessels, which was not the ease in England. He protested against it being said that British seamen required to be bribed to do their duty.


said, he was glad that the Admiralty had resolved to give up their own claims for salvage on the pretence of loss of stores, &c., and said that some gross eases of overcharge on the part of the Admiralty had led to the outcry against any charge whatever being made by the Royal Navy.


said, he had oftened listened with regret to hon. Gentlemen when they condemned naval officers most unjustly and improperly, and without any feeling for a profession which had the real benefit of the country at heart. It had been too much the practice in that House to reprobate the officers of the Navy for acts which were not their own. They were bound by an Act of Parliament to claim salvage for the services they performed, and it was too bad to blame them for obeying the law of the land.


said, the First Lord of the Admiralty had stated, upon a former occasion, that under the new regulations it would be impossible for the officers of the Navy to bring forward an extravagant claim for salvage. Now the case of the Rosaline, which had ocurrred since the new regulations had been issued, and that, too, under the control of the Board of Admiralty, and which was now in a Court of Law, was one of the worst cases which had ever been brought against a merchant vessel by a ship belonging to the Royal Navy.


said, he would be sorry to renew a debate which he thought had been concluded; but the hon. Member for Bridport had referred to a particular case, which it might be as well to notice in a few words. It so happened that he had glanced at the official documents connected with the case of the Rosaline, and he believed that the right to claim was rightly granted in that case. Seeing, however, that the case was now, as the hon. Member had stated, in a Court of Law, he thought it would be highly inex- pedient to pursue the discussion further. The House would hereafter see what was the decision of the Court upon it; and—refusing to go at present into its merits—he was much mistaken if salvage would not be granted.

Clause added.


said, this Bill proposed to renew the provisions of a former Act, by which sailors belonging to the merchant service were permitted to desert their ships in order to take service on board a man of war. Now he had himself presented several petitions against that law from some of the largest seaports in the kingdom, and he thought the House could not but view with great disfavour a provision which was in itself so hostile to the spirit of the time, so utterly subversive of the order and discipline of our merchant service, and so thoroughly opposed to the interests of morality. It had been said before, and would probably be repeated that evening, that the law in question had not been productive of any practical inconvenience. He could only say, in reply, that having himself been associated for many years with a maritime constituency, he hail received the strongest remonstrances against the present law, and had presented innumerable petitions against it. He could appeal to facts. Not many months ago a ship belonging to Mr. French, of Hull, happened to be in the port of Valparaiso at the same time with one of Her Majesty's frigates commanded by Captain Fanshawe. The frigate was in want of hands, and the merchant vessel, having completed her cargo, was about to leave the port when two of her men went off and joined the frigate. Next morning the master was required to appear before Captain Fanshawe, and pay the wages of the men who had left his vessel, and to hand them formally over to Her Majesty's service. He was then obliged, of course, to go in quest of additional hands, and the owner of the vessel had actually to pay 40l. as extra wages, over and above the loss incurred by the detention of his ship at Valparaiso. Would the House sanction the contuance of a law so arbitrary and unjust, so hostile to the welfare of our mercantile marine, and so opposed to the interests of morality? Was it wise to tell seamen that they might break the most solemn engagements with impunity? The very able paper recently issued by the ship-owners of Sunderland, showed how the law operated to the prejudice and damage of the merchant service. He now asked the House to put an end to that state of things by adopting the clause which he proposed to insert in the Bill. He would move the omission of Clauses 33, 34, and 35, relative to seamen volunteering into the Navy, and the substitution in lieu thereof of his clause.

Clause— Whereas it is expedient that seamen should no longer be permitted to desert the vessels in which they are engaged for the purpose of entering into Her Majesty's service, Be it Enacted, that the fiftieth and fifty-first Sections of the Act of the eighth year of her present Majesty, chapter one hundred and twelve, shall be repealed; and it shall not be lawful for any officer in Her Majesty's service knowingly to permit or encourage any seaman to leave the vessel in which he is engaged: and every seaman leaving his ship and entering into Her Majesty's service shall be liable to all the penalties of desertion, any law or custom notwithstanding,

Brought up, and read the First Time.


said, he hoped the House would bear in mind that every provision which this Bill contained was intended to benefit the shipowners. The only question which remained between the hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Hutt) and himself, therefore, was, whether the power of receiving volunteers from the mercantile marine should be placed under strict regulations, or should be absolutely and entirely abolished. Let the House consider that the British Navy was spread over the most distant seas for the protection of the merchant service—that it often answered the convenience of the mercantile marine to receive assistance in the shape of additional hands from Her Majesty's vessels—and then let it say whether there should not be a power on the part of the Navy to receive from other quarters the men so given up for the benefit of the merchant service. The Bill did not propose that that power should be exercised arbitrarily and tyrannically; on the contrary, the regulations under which the Admiralty would permit it to be exercised were exceedingly strict. Again, the hon. Member complained that the merchant service had to pay the wages in advance, and that that operated as an inducement for the seamen to leave their vessels. This Bill remedied that evil, and therefore that objection no longer existed. Then the hon. Member complained that the shipowners had additional wages to pay in consequence of losing their hands through desertion into the Queen's ships. Now, as regarded that point, it would not be possible to give an indiscriminate power to the Law Courts to deal with the demands that might arise in such cases; but this the Government had done—they had furnished a machinery for the repayment of all the expenses that might be incurred by a merchant vessel in such circumstances. The House could not go further unless it deprived the Navy altogether of the power of receiving volunteers from the mercantile marine. The hon. Member had referred to a particular case, winch occurred on the west coast of South America a few years ago. Now, it so happened that the commander of the frigate in question, Captain Fanshawe, was a friend of his own, and he had no hesitation in saying that an officer more unwilling to interfere with the mercantile marine in any way did not exist. But he might be permitted to refer to a case on the other side. The House could not have forgotten the services rendered to the British mercantile navy at San Francisco by Captain Shepherd, commander of the Inconstant. A large number of the seamen had deserted their vessels in consequence of the gold mania; but Captain Shepherd immediately set to work, and in a short period the vessels were manned, and enabled to leave the port. The gallant officer parted with forty of his own crew, drafting them into the different merchant vessels; and was it not right and proper that, in such circumstances, power should be given to receive volunteers from other quarters, in order to make up for the assistance thus rendered to the mercantile marine? He did not consider this was a power to be habitually exercised, but to be limited strictly, and to be used with the utmost caution. For these reasons he trusted the House would reject the proposition of the hon. Member for Gateshead.


said, he thought that the right hon. Gentleman had not sufficiently answered the objections against the clauses as they stood in the Bill. He had known instances in which men had been taken from merchant ships to join vessels of war, not because the men of war wanted them, but because they were allowed to volunteer. He would admit that in many cases the vessels of the Royal Navy had assisted merchant vessels; but in the majority of eases the men had left their legitimate employment, and had thus disabled the vessel in which they had engaged. He had himself known a case where a vessel had been deprived of twelve or fourteen of her hands by a man of war, and had afterwards been rescued from consequent shipwreck by another vessel of war, which claimed salvage for the Service. At the same time he was willing also to admit that the Queen's ships had in many instances proved of great service to merchant vessels. What was wanted was, that a man of war should not be allowed to take a man out of a merchant ship without the permission of the captain.


said, he was also of opinion that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade had not met the case fairly by stating that the Navy had a set-off on the ground of having done service to the mercantile marine. There was, however, a great difference between allowing a vessel of war to accept the men, and enabling her to take them. He believed, however, that the evil was not quite so great as many of the shipowners imagined, for it appeared by the returns recently published that the number of seamen who had been so taken was exceedingly small. The principal evil consisted in the fact of the seaman knowing that as soon as a man of war hove in sight he was at liberty at once to go on board her; and he had it upon the authority of masters of vessels themselves, that this frequently produced a degree of insubordination amongst their crews that hon. Members could have no conception of. He was certain that whenever a merchantman fell in with a man of war in want of hands which she could supply, she would gladly do so at all times; and he believed that there was such a good understanding between the two services that there was no necessity for a law of this sort.


said, he would remind hon. Members of the evidence of Captain Sir James Stirling, given before the Committee in 1848, which was strongly in favour of the views entertained by the hon. Member for Gateshead. He would support the clause, on the ground that the power now given to the Navy to take volunteers who might desert from or abandon the merchant service, tended to legalise breaches of contract on the part of the seamen, and promoted quarrels between masters and servants.


said, that in some cases the existing law was useful, as it enabled the master of a merchant vessel to put any troublesome hands on board a ship of war, He thought it would be better to substitute the words in the clause "to leave," instead of "to desert," without permission of the captain.


said, that it had been admitted that the shipowners had received a great deal of benefit by the pro- posals of the present Government, which the late Government had also contemplated bestowing on them; but there was another question to be considered also, and that was the efficiency of the Navy. It was true that men of war were placed on different stations for the protection of trade, and it was impossible for them to perform that duty if they were not sufficiently manned, and if there were losses among the crew the deficiency must be supplied. If it were necessary to maintain men of war in an efficient state in time of peace, it was doubly so in time of war, when it became their duty to convoy ships, and, in fact, to protect the commerce of the country. The shipowners should remember that a great concession had been made to them, inasmuch as a clause, which he had himself opposed, had received the sanction of the House, empowering them to man their ships entirely with foreign crews. The evidence of Sir James Stirling had been referred to by the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Digby Seymour); but he wished to remind the House that that gallant officer differed altogether in his opinions from every other officer, and he (Captain Scobell) did not feel disposed to place that officer's opinion above that of other persons whom he considered equally competent to judge of the matter. To him the opinion that the Navy could be manned without having recourse to the merchant service, seemed to be complete nonsense, and he should certainly support the clause as it stood.


said, he should support most cordially the proposal of the hon. Member for Gateshead. It seemed to him that the proposal was not only in accordance with the principles of strict justice, but that it would also be beneficial to the Navy itself. He would admit that no very great number of men bad been taken from the merchant service, but he still remained of the opinion which he had just expressed. He wished to call the attention of the House to the fact, that at present there existed no necessity for retaining a privilege based upon an unsound principle. He could conceive that in a time of necessity it might be found advisable, for the time, to violate the rights and privileges of British subjects, for, in point of fact, that was in reality what the operation of the clause really was; but it was not desirable in time of peace to confer a privilege of this kind on the Navy, and he was satisfied that it would be more for its advantage if it were to rely upon the volun- tary efforts of courage, rather than upon an obnoxious principle. A sufficient number of men could always be obtained for the service, and the ships amply manned by a course which would not excite the ill feeling which might otherwise be engendered. To support this privilege was in reality to support a system of pressing which ought never to be resorted to. When the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty brought forward a measure to regulate the enlistment of men in the Navy, he referred to the gallant response which the country had made to the Militia Bill, and stated that he anticipated the same feeling among the seamen of this country; and, if he exerted himself to make the condition of the sailors as good as it could be made, he had no doubt that ships of war would be amply and efficiently manned. By the course of conciliating the merchant service, the Navy would obtain more support than by the retention of an obsolete privilege, on which, he trusted, the House would place its veto.


said, he should be extremely sorry if the House, in an unhappy hour, were induced to part with the privilege referred to. When his hon. Friend spoke of the privilege as being obsolete, if he meant that it was a right of ancient date, long recognised by that House and the country, he was right in using the expression; but if he meant that it was obsolete in the ordinary sense of the term, he could only say that the privilege had been recognised by statute from the time of George II., and had since that period been in constant use. The abuses attaching to that privilege had been progressively modified, and, he believed, would be finally rectified by the present Bill. Among other remedies for existing evils, this Bill provided that where a seaman should volunteer into a Queen's ship from a merchantman, he should not be able to demand his wages on the day of quitting the ship, as had hitherto been the case, but that he should not be entitled to demand his wages until the ship returned home. The hon. Member spoke of the present question being one of right as well as of policy, and he would first consider it as a matter of right; and he must contend that the system of allowing men to volunteer from a merchantman into a Queen's ship was recognised by law as a right, and for one hundred years seamen had had the right of at once breaking their contract with the shipowner, to enter in a ship of war, and to demand at once their wages. So much for the question of right; he would now consider it as a question of policy. He quite agreed with the hon. and gallant Member fur Bath (Captain Scobell), that it was necessary that there should be a degree of reciprocity in considering this question. Even in time of peace great services were rendered to trade by ships of war; and his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade had illustrated that position by the example of Captain Shepherd, of the Inconstant, while at San Francisco; and there were numerous other similar cases which might be adduced. Now, to render that service to trade effectual, it was necessary that the ships of war should be maintained in the most efficient state possible. In the West India Islands there had been a case in which a shin had been weakened by one-third of its crew in about six weeks; and in the China seas crews rapidly and suddenly became very much weakened; and, unless an opportunity were afforded of recruiting their strength, the Queen's ships in such cases would be compelled to return from their stations, or would be unable to render the services required from them. As a question of policy, then, it was necessary to maintain the power of obtaining volunteers from our merchant service. He wished to ask the House to consider how carefully checks to prevent the abuse of that power had been conceived. By a regulation of the Board of Admiralty, which he held in his hand, it was directed— That in future, whenever the captains, commanders, and commanding officers of Her Majesty's ship enter men from merchant vessels, they shall report the same to the commander in chief or senior officer; which report is to contain the following information, so far as it can be obtained:—1. The name and tonnage of the ship, the name of her owners and master, and the voyage on which she is employed. 2. The regular number of her crew. 3. The number of the men, and their ages, who volunteered for Her Majesty's service, and whether they had previously served in the Navy. 4. The cause of their leaving the ship; whether the master made any objection to their leaving, and, if so, on what grounds; and whether men could be obtained at the place to fill up the crew, 5. Whether the men, on joining Her Majesty's service, received their arrears of pay and clothing; and the amount of their pay per month to be stated. The hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Hors-fall) would perhaps excuse him for saying that he was mistaken in supposing that the captain of a Queen's ship had the power of taking men from a merchant vessel without control. He could not take men without stating in his return whether or not the captain of the merchant ship was a consenting party, and, if not, what were the reasons which had induced hint to consider that the service of the Queen required that the men should be taken without the consent of the captain. All those returns were made quarterly from every ship in Her Majesty's service. In cases of complaint made, the Admiralty looked to these returns, and so judged of the reasonableness of the complaint. He would inform the House to what extent the power of taking volunteers from merchant ships had been exercised. He had a return of the number of volunteers since the 1st of January, 1852, and the whole number throughout all the different stations of men who were received as volunteers from merchant ships was 170. Something had been said about the morality of the principle, and he wished to observe that the power of volunteering into Her Majesty's ships had a great effect in securing good treatment to the seamen on long voyages. He would inform the House of the reasons which had led to those 170 men volunteering into the Navy:—Wish to join the Navy, 61; bad usage, 12; bad provisions, 8; both bad usage and bad provisions, 7; quarrels with master or mates, 13; discontent, 61; ships foundered or wrecked, 6; no cause assigned, 2. With regard to the consent of masters of merchant ships, he found the state of the case to be:—Cases in which masters made no objection to the men leaving, 130; cases in which masters did object, 21; cases not ascertained, 13; ships wrecked, as before, 6. Considering, then, the importance of this privilege on the score of policy, the absence of any injustice in its effects, and the security which it gave to sailors for being treated on long voyages with kindness and consideration by their captains, he felt satisfied that the proposal to abolish the existing privilege ought not to be sanctioned by the House. He was obliged to the hon. Member for Gateshead for the facility which he had afforded for discussing this clause; but he was compelled to give his most strenuous opposition to any attempt to take away from ships of war the right of taking volunteers from merchant ships on foreign stations.


said, he thought that the observation of the right hon. Baronet, that only 170 men had volunteered into the Navy during a period of eighteen months, was a very strong argument in favour of abolishing a principle which had produced so trifling a result towards maintaining the efficiency of the Navy, while, at the same time, it had operated to the injury of the merchant service. He felt bound to give his strenuous support to the Amendment.


said, he should also support the Amendment. He would mention a case which occurred in a foreign port, where a boat's crew, under the command of a lieutenant, took several men from out of a merchantman in a way that was extremely offensive. The ship was consequently greatly crippled for want of hands. As to the assistance said to be rendered by the Royal Navy to merchant vessels, it was not once in a thousand times that it was required. For the most part, the merchant service relied upon themselves, and their vessels were generally extremely well provided. It was only miserable undermanned ships that required assistance, except in extreme circumstances. At all events, if only 170 men had been obtained in eighteen months by this means, he submitted that it was not worth while to retain it.


said, that the shipowner would derive but little advantage from the liberty now granted to him of manning his ship with foreigners, because the loss which the merchant ship sustained generally occurred at sea, where the master could obtain no recruits. The cases in which men usually volunteered from merchant vessels into the Royal Navy were when they had been twelve or fourteen months at sea, and when they had large arrears of pay to receive. They then hoisted the red shirt, their usual signal to a man of war, received their wages, and left the ship to shift for itself. He had good reason to remember an instance of this kind. A merchant vessel, called the Anna Robinson, bound from Calcutta to England, had been twelve months at sea, When off the Mauritius, her hands signalled to a man of war, which sent a boat on board, and took off twelve of her best men. A gale suddenly came on, and the vessel being crippled for want of hands, had her sails blown out of the bolt ropes. The next day there was a dead calm. A man of war steamer hove in sight, and a signal was hoisted. The captain came on board, and the master of the merchant vessel asked him if he would have the goodness to lend him ten or twelve hands to take him to the Cape? "Oh, we will do better than that for you; I'll tow you there," was the reg. He did so, and when they reached the Cape he immediately clapped the ship into the Admiralty. The amount of salvage awarded, with the costs, was between 2,000l. and 3,000l. Upwards of 5,000l. worth of goods had to be sold to raise 2,300l., and the vessel was moreover delayed six months. Surely if the Admiralty had only required 170 men in the time specified by the right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Graham), they might safely afford to give up a privilege which led to such disastrous consequences to the mercantile marine.


said, that hon. Gentlemen had entertained the House with instances of bad treatment which had been experienced by individual merchant ships; nit it would be perfectly easy to retort by adducing as numerous instances of cases in which seamen had been driven to volunteer by the harsh and cruel conduct of the masers of merchantmen. For example, he knew of an instance where the men of a Merchant vessel had hoisted the usual signal; but the captain of Her Majesty's ship finding that she was badly manned, instead if accepting the volunteers, endeavoured to make up the quarrel which he found existed between the master and his hands. What was the result? Why, another man of war round the ship soon afterwards, and the men, jumping overboard, swam to it and begged to be taken in. The House voted 14,000l. a year for bringing home Englishmen who were in distress in foreign countries; but if they analysed that sum, they would find that it was made up for the most part of the expenses incurred by Her Majesty's Consuls in sending home British seamen who had deserted on account of the bad treatment they had received on board merchant ships. So lately as 1851, it had been ascertained that the masters of British hips were in the habit of applying to the Peruvian Government to punish their men; and that one of those punishments consisted in exposing them on a rock. If they assented to the proposition of the hon. Member, they would place a power in the lands of the masters of merchant vessels, with which he certainly considered it would not be safe to entrust them.


said, he thought that in a case of so much difficulty they ought to endeavour to steer a middle coarse; and he should, therefore, support the proposition of Her Majesty's Government. He was sure they would all be anxious to remedy what was really a seri- ous inconvenience to the mercantile navy; but if it came to the alternative of depriving Her Majesty's Navy of the exercise of its ancient privileges upon all occasions, however great and pressing the emergency might be, he thought that tin public service ought not to suffer. The Government proposed to introduce for the first time regulations which would interpose a safeguard against the improper use of the power which had always been possessed by the Royal Navy. Would it not, for in stance, be a great check upon the use of that power that a resort to it would involve the expenditure of the public money? He thought it would be far better to give the plan a fair trial, than to risk the efficiency of so important a branch of the public service.


proposed to qualify his clause by introducing for "desert," the words "leave the ship," and after "leave the vessel in which he was engaged," to introduce "without the consent of his captain."

Motion made, and Question put, "That the said Clause be now read a Second Time."

The House divided:—Ayes 49; Noes 129: Majority 80.


said, be had now a clause to propose, the object of which was to prevent ships from being inefficiently manned. He considered that some such enactment was necessary for the safety of the vessels and their crews, and for the security of the marine insurers. The Government had already adopted the principle of his clause with respect to transport and emigrant vessels, and he contender that the vessels for which he proposed to legislate were in still greater need of such a protection. In 1851, there were between 700 and 800 shipwrecks; in 1852, between 1,000 and 1,100; so that they were evidently on the increase. Owing to the change in the law as regarded apprentices, their numbers had diminished from 34,000 in 1849, to 14,000 at the present time. It was most essential to keep up the supply of young hands on board ships. Emigrant vessels were allowed to sail without apprentices; and the consequence was that many went without entirely, and there was only one apprentice, on an average, to between 500 and 600 tons of shipping. It might be said that they took boys without apprenticing them; but there were not more than 2,000 of that class. The clause he now proposed would tend to remedy the evil that had been caused by the Act of 1849. It was said that our commerce had spread immensely, and that our seamen had increased; but that was no reason why the existing law should not be improved. It had been stated in evidence before the Committee of that House that a due supply of apprentices was essential, not only for the mercantile marine, but for the Navy. His main object in proposing the clause was for the security of the country.

Clause brought up, and read a First Time.


said, he fully concurred with the hon. and gallant Member with regard to the necessity of encouraging, in every possible way, the aprenticeship system. So much importance did he attach to this point, that he thought the Government would be amply justified in offering a bounty to shipowners for the purpose of securing it. He recollected the time when the British Navy was principally manned from that source. He was well persuaded, also, that much of the melancholy loss of life accruing from shipwrecks and disasters at sea, arose from the insufficient manning of merchant ships. He must say that he had viewed with considerable dismay the introduction of a Bill into that House which took from the Royal Navy the advantages which it formerly enjoyed of looking to the merchant service as the nursery of her seamen, and which had enabled our fleet for two centuries to maintain our national honour and independence.


said, he did not think it necessary to trouble the House at any length in reply to the hon. and gallant Member (Captain Scobell), for he was sure the House would think it right that he should confine himself to the point immediately before them, instead of going over again the same ground as they went over in the recent discussion on the manning of the Navy. The House was not now discussing the manning clause; but another clause, which had been proposed by his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bath, who seemed to think that the British shipowners were not likely to care for the security of their own ships, and who, therefore, for the purpose of benefiting the shipowners and insurers, thought it desirable that the Legislature should step in with a clause describing the number of men and apprentices that should be carried by each. The hon. and gallant Member had said very emphatically on a former occasion that there could be no better argument for letting a law alone than that it had worked well. The hon. and gallant Member had made that remark when speaking against the repeal of the law regulating the proportion of British and foreign seamen on board ship. He (Mr. Cardwell) would take time liberty of applying the same remark to the present case, for he contended it was not a sound principle to prescribe the precise number of men and apprentices to be carried on board ship. The Legislature had repealed the law which told the British shipowner how many men he ought to have on board of each of his ships. Had the new law worked well? It had worked so well that since the repeal of the provision to which he had referred, they had added 9,000 seamen to the whole number of the British mercantile marine within three years. His hon. and gallant Friend had told them of the absence of apprentices on board the emigrant ships. To his (Mr. Cardwell's) mind this would seem to argue how great a burden the shipowners would consider this clause as imposing on them. The hon. and gallant Gentleman also spoke of the falling-off in the number of apprentices. He (Mr. Cardwell) admitted that the total number of apprentices was at the present moment smaller than at the time when the navigation laws were repealed; but hon. Members ought not to exclude this circumstance from their minds, that whereas there was at first a falling-off in the number of apprentices immediately after the repeal of the navigation laws, there had since that period been a continuous increase; and the number was now increasing more rapidly than at any former period. He believed that if the House were to adopt the clause now proposed, the result would be that the shipowners would evade the law—that instead of taking the best men at the best wages, they would take the cheapest landsman they could find. In short, they would merely comply with the letter of the law. He thought, therefore, that it would be better to leave the shipowners and insurers to those regulations with regard to the number of seamen and apprentices which it was their own interest to provide. The clause now proposed was not at all in conformity with the spirit which now guided the legislation of the House on this subject. He did not think it was at all likely either to promote the interest of trade or the safety of the shipping, and therefore he must respectfully ask the House to reject it.


said, he must most earnestly entreat the Government not to sanction the reimposition of those restrictions against which the shipowners had so long and so manfully fought, but rather to allow them every facility for the carrying on of the mercantile marine; and if they did so, he had no fear that they would be able to compete with any nation in the world.


said, he entirely agreed with the hon. Member who had just spoken with regard to the importance of removing every possible restriction from the mercantile marine, and he considered the Government perfectly right in resisting the present clause.

Motion made, and Question put, "That the said Clause be now read a Second Time."

The House divided:—Ayes 7; Noes 154: Majority 147.


said, he begged, in the absence of his hon. Friend (Mr. Collier), to move the following Clause:— That where any seaman or apprentice, who shall have committed any offence punishable under the Mercantile Marine Act, 1850, by summary proceeding before a justice of the peace, shall arrive or be found on shipboard within two miles of any borough in which there is a justice of the peace capable of exercising summary jurisdiction under the said Act, such offence shall, for the purpose of giving jurisdiction to such justice under the same Act, be deemed to have been committed within the limits of such borough. He considered the clause was necessary, in consequence of the recent decision of one of the Liverpool magistrates.


would suggest that the question should be postponed till they could consider the different circumstances of different ports. He knew that the state of Plymouth was very much the same as that of Liverpool, and he thought that at some future period the subject was well deserving of consideration.

Clause negatived.


said, he wished to propose to amend Clause 4, so that from line 31, it should stand as follows:— And such aggregate fund shall be applicable to the purpose of the services in respect of which the said tolls, rates, fees, and payments are levied, and to the execution of works necessary or expedient for permanently reducing the expenses of such services; and save, as hereinafter specially mentioned, to no other purposes whatever. The Ballast Board at Dublin had a balance of 100,000l. in hand, which it was proposed should be withdrawn from its control and placed along with the aggregate fund, to which arrangement he did not object, because the objects to which these funds were applicable were not local but national. At the same time the Trinity House possessed a large sum in the shape of investments in the public funds, namely, between 120,000l. and 130,000l., which sum it was not proposed to bring into the amalgamated fund; and therefore he wished to know why there was to be this exception with regard to the funds in the hands of the Trinity House? He now came more particularly to the object of his Amendment. The clause as it now stood proposed to form an amalgamated fund to be applicable, under the superintendence of the Board of Trade, simply and exclusively to those services for which the separate funds were collected by the different existing bodies; and the effect of this would be that the hands of the Board of Trade and of the different other bodies would be tied up, to the application of the money strictly and solely to the building and repairing of lighthouses, and of what were called "marks of the sea." Now it had been the practice to build lighthouses on rocks in the middle of the sea, and yet it was sometimes the fact that one half of the expense of building and maintaining these lighthouses would suffice to pay for the blowing up altogether of the rocks upon which they were situated. He would illustrate this by reference to a case within his own knowledge. For example, there was a rock on the track from Ireland to England that was under water, and was indicated by a buoy which cost 100l. a year; in tempestuous weather the buoy broke adrift, and when most wanting was not there at all; it was his belief that it would not cost 1,000l. to remove that rock altogether.


said, this was a question which peculiarly belonged to the representatives of the shipping interest to decide. It was proposed by a Gentleman representing one of the first ports in the kingdom, and who also conducted the business in which he took part in that House with such conspicuous ability as to render him an efficient representative of the shipping interest. To expend a stun of 100l. a year on a rock which would be entirely destroyed for 1,000l. was a very wasteful act, and the more especially because the buoy, according to the hon. Member's representations, on which it was expended, was a truant buoy. As the law then stood, it would be impossible for the Board of Trade so to apply the money, and he should leave the clause in the hands of the House. With regard to the question which the hon. and learned Gentleman had asked him, he begged to say that the sum which was invested on behalf of the Ballast Board was invested under statute, and could be dealt with, therefore, by statute, without any question. He (Mr. Cardwell) had already referred to the figures to show that the Irish would be by no means losers on this imperial transaction; but as the hon. Gentleman had not expressed any doubt as to the accuracy of his statement, he need not again go over that part of the case. With regard to the sum invested by the Trinity House, it consisted of double dues levied under an ancient Act of Parliament on foreign shipping. Those investments were made by them more than twenty-five years ago under their charter, and in strict conformity with it. When, on the requisition of the Government, they agreed to surrender all rights of taxation, except for the purposes of this Bill, they entered into no engagement, nor were they asked by Government to enter into it, nor would they think it reasonable to enter into a negotiation for the surrender of a sum not levied on British shipping, and which was invested by them more than twenty-five years ago.


said, he wished to know if the right hon. Gentleman, by adopting the Amendment, meant to blow up the rocks of the north coast? That, he thought, should come under a different clause.

Amendment agreed to.


then moved— That in Clause 5, line 12, after the words 'and the produce thereof' the words 'shall in the first instance be applied for the purpose of finishing any works commenced by those bodies respectively, or for the purpose of forming any Harbour of Refuge on the eastern coast of Ireland, and the residue of such monies, after such application aforesaid,' should be inserted. He considered that the amount in the hands of the Irish Ballast Board and of the Trinity House might be applied with great advantage to the construction of a harbour of refuge at Carlingford, on the eastern coast of Ireland, and nearly opposite the important commercial port of Liverpool. He had ascertained that during the last five years 447 vessels had been wrecked on the eastern coast of Ireland, being at the rate of about ninety annually. Besides the lives which had been lost in consequence of these disasters, very valuable cargoes had also been destroyed. Now, he believed that, accord- ing to the estimate of an experienced engineer, the expense of removing the bar at the entrance to Carlingford Lough would not exceed from 40,000l. to 50,000l., and as by that expenditure a very efficient harbour of refuge would be provided, he therefore thought that a portion of the monies in the hands of the bodies to which he had referred might very properly be applied to such a purpose. If this project should be carried out, vessels, which of bad weather were unable to make the port of Liverpool would at all times be enabled to run to a harbour where they could remain in perfect safety.


said, he hoped the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Newry would receive the favourable consideration of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, and of the House. He must protest against any charge being brought against the Irish fund of 91,000l., on account of any debt incurred in the formation of Kingstown harbour.


said, he thought the arrangement proposed a very bad bargain for Ireland. He had heard nothing which could induce him to believe that that country would derive any benefit from it.


said, he thought, whatever gain might arise from the transaction contemplated, he might venture to assure his hon. Friend that Ireland would come its for her fair share of it. It did so happen that there was in Ireland a balance in hand of 100,000l., but against that must be set the fact that the balance was subject to a debt of 171,000l. Again, the Commissioners had already contracted for new works to be executed in Ireland, which would require an expenditure of 20,000l. In addition to that, Ireland had hitherto maintained her own harbour lights, the expense of which it was now proposed to throw upon the general fund.


said, he wanted hon. Gentlemen to explain how the Irish Board could have get possession of such a sum. He thought the Government should proceed immediately to reduce the Irish light dues.


wished to call attention to a particular grievance affecting the harbour of Kingstown. At present foreign vessels bound to Dublin, whether they entered the harbour or not, had to pay large dues for the maintenance of that harbour, whereas if they were bound to Liverpool, and took refuge there, they had nothing to pay, nor had coasters anything to pay. He thought it extremely hard that foreign vessels bound to Dublin should be liable to this exaction, and hoped the right hon. Gentleman would redress the grievance before the termination of the present Session.


wished to know how the debt of 171,000l. was made out, as he did not think keeping up the lights could fairly be charged against them.

Amendment negatived.


moved the following addition to Clause 29:— Excepting as to ships employed in a coasting voyage from one part of the United Kingdom to another, or in a voyage between the United Kingdom and the islands of Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney, Sark, or Man, or from one of the said islands to another of them, or from one part of either of them to another of the same, or employed in fishing on the coasts of the United Kingdom, or of any of the said islands, in which cases, and every of them, the whole of the crew shall be British seamen. The only arguments which he had heard against this Amendment were two. In the first place, that the clause would only extend to the shipowners the same freedom to employ whom they pleased that was already employed of labour on land; and in the next place, that his Amendment was one inconsistent with the principles of free trade. Now, with respect to the first point, he would ask whether any one would maintain that the temptation to foreigners to enter an employment on land was equal to that which might lead them to accept employment as sailors in British ships? With respect to the second point, he admitted that it would be best to abolish protection altogether as regarded the coasting trade, and to admit foreign as well as British ships. But while the restriction upon foreign ships was kept up for the benefit of the shipowners, he thought they should not abolish the restriction as to sailors. The effect of this clause would be to introduce foreign seamen into the coasting trade; and believing that this would be most repugnant to the feelings of British seamen, he hoped that the House would assent to his Amendment.


seconded the Amendment. He said, that the admission of foreign seamen to the coasting trade was contrary to the recommendation of the Select Committee on the Manning of the Navy.


said, there had been already so long a debate, and so decided a division on the question of the admission of foreign seamen to the coasting trade, that he should believe the opinion of the House upon this point was finally settled. He could conceive no good reason why, if foreigners were admitted to the foreign, they should be excluded from the coasting trade. He did not think that the British shipowners would object to the coasting trade being thrown open to foreign ships. He believed that the restriction which at present excluded them was based upon grounds very different from those to which the hon. Member seemed to ascribe it. The subject was now under the consideration of those who were responsible for the collection of the revenue; nor did he (Mr. Cardwell) pretend to vindicate protection in this any more than in any other instance.

Question put, "That those words be there added."

The House divided:—Ayes 35; Noes 104: Majority 69.

Bill passed.