HC Deb 15 July 1853 vol 129 cc275-91

Order for Committee read. House in Committee.

Clause 38 (Steps to be taken when salvage services have been performed by Her Majesty's ships abroad).


said, he wished to know what principle was to guide the House in dealing with officers of the Navy in cases of salvage? Provision was taken in the estimates for the wear and tear of Her Majesty's ships, and he hoped that the days of high salvage were past. The squabbles which occasionally occurred between the owners of merchant vessels and captains of the Royal Navy on account of salvage, were perfectly scandalous, and he trusted that we should hear no more of them. He had no objection to allow salvage in cases where life had been risked, but there were other cases in which he was strongly of opinion that none should be allowed. He thought assistance ought to be given by Her Majesty's ships without any charge at all. They were ships of the public, and when any services were required by the public, they ought to be gratuitously rendered. There could be no objection to provision by merchants and shipowners making good any damage to the clothing of seamen, who were always ready to risk their lives in aiding the distressed; but that a captain of a merchant vessel should have to sell his cargo to meet the demands of the captain of one of Her Majesty's ships, as had been the case, ought no longer to be tolerated by that House.


said, he had an Amendment to move on this clause, the effect of which would be to release shipowners from any claim for salvage in regard to services rendered by Her Majesty's ships. There was a great distinction between the claim of a private merchant ship to be recompensed for such services, and that of a Queen's ship. He did not mean to undervalue the services rendered in the matter of salvage by Her Majesty's ships, but he considered that such services came within the legitimate range of their duties, and ought to be compensated, not by the merchant whose ship was benefited by their assistance, but rather by tire authorities of the Admiralty. Persons employed in the service of the State owed their labour to the State, and stood in a different position from private shipowners. He contended that while merchant vessels were entitled to salvage for services which they rendered, a similar honorarium should not be awarded to Queen's vessels, because, in the lucid language of Sir John Nichol, persons employed in the public service had a particular duty cast upon them to render aid—they sacrificed no time, because their time was paid for by the public, and they risked no property, because their property was paid for by the public. But this was not only the opinion of Sir John Nichol, for, although the Court had always felt itself bound to decide in accordance with precedent, that opinion had been concurred in by Lord Stowell, Sir Christopher Rawlinson, and Dr. Lushington. He believed that the Amendment which he proposed would be regarded as a great boon by the shipping interest, and that it would be so received by them. The present salvage arrangements had long been the subject of complaint from the shipowners of this country, and were repulsive to the sense of justice of the great trading community of Great Britain. It was worthy of remark that in no other country except England was the principle sanctioned of allowing special remuneration to the Navy of the State for the efforts made in the cause of humanity and benevolence. In this respect there was no analogy between the practice which obtained amongst the land and sea forces. It was notorious that in the case of a fire, or any great public calamity on shore, the Queen's troops were frequently called out to protect order, and even to work the fire-engines; but no attempt had ever been made to found upon their exertions in that respect a claim for additional remuneration. He did not mean to disparage the claims of the Navy, or to deny its services in the cause of humanity, on occasions of public distress and calamity. Neither did he mean to deny that their exertions ought to be compensated; but what he maintained was, that their labours should be remunerated, not by specific pecuniary rewards, granted by the parties benefited, but by honours, pensions, and promotions, to be awarded at the discretion of the Lords of the Admiralty. With these views, he trusted the House would concur in the Amendment of which he had given notice.

Amendment proposed, in p. 15, line 10, to leave out from the word "rendered," to the end of the clause.


said, he was disposed to think that it might save the time of the Committee if he at once stated the views which Her Majesty's Government were inclined to take of this question. He admitted distinctly at the outset of his observations that it was a question of very grave importance, involving a consideration of national policy, since it not only materially affected the interests of sailors serving on board Her Majesty's ships, but, according to the view he took, also materially affected the safety of life and property embarked upon the seas. He would briefly state how the matter stood. The right involved in the law of salvage was the common-law right of every British subject. It was a right which had not originated in Statute, although it had been regulated by Statute and by the judicial decisions of the highest legal tribunals. From the earliest period every British subject who contributed his aid at the risk of his own life to the saving of the lives and property of others exposed to danger on the high seas, had a right, an inherent right, to reward for those services. What the House was now asked to do for the first time was, by means of a restriction, to bar the sailor from his common-law right, which had been enjoyed by him from the earliest time, and had been recognised and regulated by Statute and by the authority of the highest decisions. He contended—and he had stated it upon a former occasion as strongly as he could—that, considering the competition to which the trade and commerce of this country were now ex- posed, every needless incumbrance in the race of competition should be removed from the British shipowner. At the same time, however, they must take care that in so relaxing those restrictions they did not do an act of flagrant injustice to any portion of the seamen employed either in the merchant service or in the Queen's service. Reference had been made by the hon. Member who moved the Amendment to cases and decisions, and the judgment of Sir John Nichol had been quoted, he thought, in the case of the Clifton. But in the very book from which his hon. Friend had quoted, there was a decision by the same Judge in the case of the Lustre, immediately following, where the principle was laid down by Sir John Nichol himself in the clearest possible manner, in these terms:— The public force of the country is not to be employed gratuitously in the salvage of property of private persons to save them from expense. Government steamers are kept for the public service, and the officers in command cannot employ them in the service of individuals, and thus risk the public property, without authority or an indemnity for all expense and damage, nor are they then to hazard their lives or undergo labour without reward, though they are entitled to a lower rate of remuneration than private salvors. That was the principle which had been laid down by the Court of Admiralty from the earliest time; had been sanctioned by the highest authority, and was now strictly enforced. Until lately, the claim for salvage had been twofold in its character. First, there was a claim on the part of the ship for tackle and boats attached to her, or for any loss or wear and tear which they might have sustained in the rescue; and, next, there was a claim on account of the services of the officers and men employed in it. He had given notice of a clause, however, which would bar the right of the Crown to make any claim for salvage or indemnity under the former of these heads. The words of that clause were— In cases where 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, damage, or risk, thereby caused to such ship, or to the stores, tackle, 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, or for any other expense or loss sustained by Her Majesty by reason of such services. With regard to the first branch of the claim, there was, therefore, a bar as extensive and conclusive as the shipowners could possibly desire. There remained, then, only the latter portion, which involved the claim on the part of the seamen for risk incurred in effecting the salvage. He must say that it appeared to him this question was deserving the most serious attention of the House. He did not think that it would be their wish to act with harshness, with injustice, or want of generosity, to a body of men remarkable for their own generosity, gallantry, and fidelity. He remembered that during the war there was an expression used common to both services which conveyed a very wide distinction in its meaning—there were the "come along" officers, and the "go along," officers. The "come along" officers were men of great daring, of great spirit, ruling the hearts of those who served under them, and never scarcely failing in any exploit which they undertook. The "go along" officers were more cold, more prudent, more calculating, but not equally successful. Let the Committee reflect upon the difference between these two characters when a ship was in danger or difficulty. In the one case, the "come along" officer exclaimed, "Now, then, volunteers, let's rescue that ship." Whatever the extent of that danger, however great its imminence, whatever the perils to the lives of the men, wherever that volunteering took place on board a Queen's ship, the chances of a rescue were great. In the other case, the officer who commanded would naturally hesitate long before he gave the order to man a boat, when he knew that the sailors serving in Her Majesty's ship, whatever might be the danger they encountered, and that some might even lose their lives, would receive no reward. That was the "go along" order, and by it undoubtedly the merchant service in the end would suffer. But what would the insurers say to this—what would they say to it at Lloyd's? Was it really in favour of the interests of life and property engaged in the merchant service that this Amendment should be agreed to? He was quite convinced that they could not do a more ungenerous or a more impolitic thing. How did the matter stand? Were these salvage claims lightly raised? Were there no restrictions? If the salvors, being in the Queen's service, went into a Court, the rule was distinctly laid clown that they were not to be deprived of all reward; but that, considering the peculiar circumstances of the sailors serving in Her Majesty's ships, they were to have a somewhat less reward than others. His pre- decessor at the Admiralty, foreseeing that there might be some abuse, notwithstanding that rigid rule in the Court, passed a general order, dated the 30th of January, 1852, which was now in force; and upon this point it said— When such services have been rendered, the commanding officer of the ship is to transmit a full report of the whole circumstances of the case, with a copy of the ship's log, to the commander-in-chief or senior naval officer of the station, whose written approval shall be requisite before any officer under his command can raise a claim for salvage, and such approval is not to be given, unless really important service, or service accompanied with hazard, has been rendered. Was that a vain regulation? Clearly not. Let the House observe the restrictions in the first place. No officer in Her Majesty's ships could raise a claim for salvage until he had presented all the circumstances of the case to the commander-in-chief or senior naval officer of the station. If it were not entertained by that officer, the institution of the claim was not permitted. Then, when investigated and recommended by him, there was a further check, for the case was brought under the review of the Board of Admiralty, and they took into their consideration all the circumstances so sanctioned by the commanding officer, and decided whether they would permit the claim to be instituted in the courts or not. Now, let him show how the Board of Admiralty exercised that discretion thus placed in their hands. Without wishing to trouble the Committee at any length, he would just read the facts of a case which had only occurred last month. The officer commanding a Royal steamer was going from Liverpool on the 10th of June of the present year, and he thus described a case of salvage in which he had been concerned:— I have the honour to report to you, for the information of their Lordships, that yesterday morning, while lying in Douglas Bay, Isle of Man, and being about to sail for Loch Fyne, in compliance with instruction from the Board of Fisheries, I received intelligence of an American ship having gone on shore the previous night, about eleven o'clock, some six or eight miles to the southward of Douglas, and that she was in want of immediate assistance. I took the responsibility on myself, deeming it a case of great moment, to divert my vessel from the duties I was ordered upon, and went to her assistance. The weather was calm, but so thick a fog prevailed that it was attended with some risk my feeling my way by the lead alongshore. I came up to the stranded vessel about 8.50. a.m., and took up a position to heave her off. She proved to be the American ship Squantum, of Boston, which left Liverpool on the 7th of June, 1853, bound for Boston. It was then half flood, her bows were high up on the rocks on the shore, and her passengers, 250 in number, were all safe on shore. At a little before high water I succeeded in heaving her off safely without removing any of the cargo, and, finding that she would float, I towed her into Douglas Bay, and anchored her there in safety at 2. 15. p.m. A consultation was then held in my cabin by the High Bailiff of Douglas, the agent for Lloyd's, and the master of the Squantum, the result of which was the accompanying letter, and, the master having represented to me the extreme urgency of the case, and the great value of his cargo, I immediately decided on complying with the roaster's wish in towing her across channel at once to Liverpool, where she could be docked and repaired. That officer asked the Board of Admiralty to recognise his claim to salvage. The effect of the regulation which he had read, and the value of cargo being considered, it was deemed fitting to act upon the strict rule, and the Admiralty refused permission to that officer to institute any claim whatever. The salvage was effected in the manner that he had detailed to the Committee. The vessel was towed into Liverpool, and no claim whatever from a British ship of war, even to a foreigner, was permitted to be made by the Admiralty. He produced that as an illustration of the spirit in which these cases were dealt with by the Admiralty. He had now stated what the alteration of the law was which he proposed to introduce. He had stated the principle on which the tribunals of justice adjudicated on salvage questions, and the restrictions which they placed upon Queen's vessels, that they should receive somewhat less, than, under similar circumstances, should be given to others. He had shown, that, by the existing regulations, except where there had been danger to life incurred, the Board of Admiralty would not permit a claim to be instituted at all; and he had read a clause which he proposed to introduce barring all claim to salvage on account of boats and tackle belonging to the Queen. The question was, would they allow sailors on board the Queen's ships, when they risked their lives for salvage, that reward to which, according to the common-law right of every British subject, they were entitled? Until the House of Commons came to such a decision, he could not believe, for one moment, that such a proceeding would be adopted. He was sure that a more fatal thing to the feelings of the seamen, when they had gallantly risked their lives for the preservation of others, could not be had recourse to. He was quite sure that it would prove most injurious with regard to the safety of life and property generally; he was equally sure that the service now voluntarily undertaken would not be undertaken in future with the same spirit. They must remember that the feelings of men were of a mixed character, and that seamen who were animated by the utmost daring and generosity, looked not only to their pay, but they also kept an eye upon pecuniary rewards. He was satisfied, if this claim on the part of the Navy were to be disallowed, that officers would be slow—very slow—to give orders for dangerous and hazardous enterprises; which, as the law now stood, they not merely sanctioned, but encouraged, in every way in their power. He would not detain the Committee longer, but, with the strongest desire to concede everything reasonable to the shipping interest which could be demanded, he most earnestly entreated the Committee not to accept the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for South Shields.


repudiated, on the part of the shipowners of the country, the imputations thrown out by the hon. and gallant Member for Brighton (Sir G. Pechell), that they wished to obtain the assistance of the officers of Her Majesty's Navy without any remuneration. He was sure he was speaking the sentiments of his constituents when he said they were most anxious that Her Majesty's officers should be placed upon precisely the same footing as any other party claiming salvage; that they should not be debarred the right of salvage which the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) had said they might claim under the common law. He dissented altogether from the observations which had fallen from the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ingham), that ships had a right to claim the assistance of Her Majesty's officers in rescuing property, without being bound to tender remuneration. They had a right to claim their assistance in the protection of life and property from a foreign enemy, because they paid their share of the public taxes for that purpose; but they had no right and no wish to claim the services of the Navy without returning fit and proper remuneration. Were it otherwise the system would be unjust and contrary to sound policy.


said, that until he heard the observations of the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Horsfall) he could not have deemed it possible that any body of shipowners in the kingdom could have refused their assent to the Amendment of the hon. Member for South Shields. No hon. Member, he believed, was prepared to contend that the services of the seamen in the Navy for salvage should not be rewarded; but the question was not whether they were to be rewarded or not, but who were to pay them? The mercantile navy had a claim upon the country in this respect. As to the officers, he submitted that their reward should be either by promotion or by increased pay.


said, he had heard but one opinion among the shipowners of London on this subject, and their opinion was that the claims for salvage on the part of the Royal Navy ought to be entirely abandoned. It was, therefore, with some surprise that he had heard the observations of the hon. Member for Liverpool. The instructions to which the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty had referred were prepared by the right hon. Member for Portsmouth (Sir F. Baring) when First Lord of the Admiralty, in consequence of the strong opinion of the shipowners of London that the claims, as then made by the Royal Navy, were unjust and exorbitant. But since these instructions had been issued, a case had occurred which deserved the serious notice of the House. He alluded to the salvage of the barque Rosalie, by Her Majesty's steamer, Locust, in the River Plate. [The hon. Member read a narrative of this case, dated Liverpool, October 6, 1852, from which it appears that a fire broke out in the hold of the Rosalie. The captain procured the assistance of the captain of the Locust; but the Locust towed the Rosalie upon rocks from which they were got off by Admiral Grenfell of the Brazilian navy. For this service Admiral Grenfell made no claim upon the Rosalie; but when she got to Monte Video the commander of the Locust took possession of her, and would not release her until the captain had given a bond for 3,000l.; but after this the captain was served with an Admiralty writ for 6,000l.] He considered this case a disgrace to the Royal Navy. He could not conceive why Her Majesty's officers wanted salvage for having merely done their duty to a vessel in distress. The proper recompense for the officers should be increased pay or promotion, and the seamen might have a moderate sum allowed in case of absolute risk of life, or injury of person or property. On this ground he entreated the House to sanction the principle assorted by the hon. Member for South Shields. He might add that the last Government were so perfectly satisfied of the justice of the claim, that the late Chancellor of the Exchequer intended to propose its entire abolition.


said, that though it might have been the intention of the late Government to go the whole length of proposing the abolition of salvage, he should by no means have despaired of shaking their resolution if they had submitted their proposition to the House. He must say, however, that he could find no record at the Admiralty of any such intention. By the common-law right the ship salved, became, as it were, the property of the salvor. What was the proposition which the Government now made? It implied a very great abridgment of that power. They proposed that bonds should be taken, and that all right of lien should be suspended on receipt of that bond. All these clauses which they were now discussing had been framed by his right hon. Friend the Judge of the Admiralty Court, and that, he thought, might be taken as a strong guarantee for their practical efficiency. His hon. Friend the Member for Bridport (Mr. Mitchell) had referred to the case of time Rosalie. He would take that case in illustration of the mode of action adopted by the Admiralty. The late Board of Admiralty did not allow the claim against the Rosalie without a reference to the admiral commanding at the station; and the report of the admiral—Admiral Henderson—had been received since he (Sir J. Graham) had been at the Board. According to the statement of the hon. Member himself, it appeared that a man-of-war in attempting to save the Rosalie had placed herself in imminent danger, and had been for some time stranded, together with the ship which she salved—


No. The Locust got upon the rocks in a clear night, entering the harbour. If she chose to do that, it was the fault of her commander.


At all events, had not the Locust been engaged in this service, she could not have been placed in that hazardous position. His hon. Friend stated that Queen's ships were the property of the public. He admitted that; but there was something that was not the property of the public, and that was the lives of the officers and men on board those ships, when exposed in matters which did not form a portion of their duty. It was not a portion of their duty, and it never had been to risk their lives in a service of the nature involved in salvage, without a just expectation of that reward which, as he had before said, was the common and inherent right of every British subject. With respect to the Rosalie, however, he would read to the Committee the precise correspondence in that case, and then they would see what there really was in it which had been so much relied upon by his hon. Friend the Member for Bridport. It was by the merest chance that he had these documents with him. Writing from Buenos Ayres to the Admiralty, Admiral Henderson said— Lieutenant George F. Day, commanding Her Majesty's steam-vessel Locust, having represented to me that the salvage claim made for assistance rendered by that vessel to the British bark Rosalie in March, 1852, is in abeyance until the receipt of my written approval as the commander-in-chief, I beg to state for their Lordships' information that when I reported the particulars of the case in my letter, No. 36, of the 12th of April, 1852, I considered it unnecessary, for the reasons therein stated, to do more than forward a full report of the circumstances, together with a copy of the ship's log, because Lieutenant Day, in ignorance of the Admiralty circular, which had not then reached this station, had already raised his claim for salvage, and received a bond for 3,500l. as security. I refer to this circumstance as a reason for recording my approval after the lapse of twelve months; but I believe it to be due to Lieutenant Day, the officers, and ship's company of the Locust, to state my opinion that the services rendered to the bark Rosalie were not only really important, but accompanied with hazard to the persons employed, as may be seen from the enclosed copy of a letter from the assistant surgeon in charge. The services rendered did not cease upon their towing the vessel to Montevideo, as relays of men were employed for many days to remove the cargo, which was in a burning state. In acknowledging the receipt of Lieutenant Day's report, I approved his proceedings at the time, and I have no hesitation in stating now that as both officers and men sustained much loss in clothes, &c., while rendering the said service, I consider the claim raised is deserving of consideration. The nature of the services rendered was verified by Mr. Clarke, the assistant surgeon in charge, who thus wrote to Lieutenant Day:— Bajada, Parana, Her Majesty's steam-vessel Locust, March 23, 1853. Sir—In reply to your letter of this day, I beg leave to state that, on reference to my journal, I find that Mr. Whitehouse, second-master in charge, and William Mason, able seaman, were of necessity placed on the sick list, suffering with illness produced, in my opinion, from over exposure in the hold of the bark Rosalie. I also recollect that, when the crew were employed clearing her for the first two days, I had to be on board of her in frequent attendance on several of the men brought up from the holds in a state of asphyxia, produced by the inhalation of carbonic acid, phosphuretted hydrogen, and ammoniacal vapour abundantly generated in the hold from the combustion of the hides, hair, bones and tallow therein stowed, and, the combustion still existing, I considered (as at that time I informed you) the duty imposed on the men to be attended with imminent peril from that cause, That was the case to which the hon. Gentleman had referred as an illustration of his charge of the exorbitant anti unjustifiable claims for salvage which were made by vessels in the service of the Crown. A weaker case, he ventured to say, never had been submitted to Parliament.


said, he thought it was only consistent with common justice that, in cases where the British sailors exposed their lives to imminent danger in their attempts to rescue vessels in distress, a reward should be granted to them in proportion to the risk they had encountered, and the value of the property saved. It was said that the French navy performed salvage services without remuneration; but the fact was that there was a fund in that country to support the widows and orphans of men who periled their lives, not in the strict performance of their duty. A pecuniary consideration would probably never either deter or incite the British sailor to do that which, from the generosity of his nature, he was ever ready to do, bravely to risk his own life in an effort to save that of his fellow-creature; but to rescue a crew from shipwreck was one thing, and to save mere merchandise from destruction was another, and the last of these services ought most undoubtedly to be compensated.


said, the Bill was a Shipowners' Bill. The operation of the 29th clause would be to increase the risk of merchant vessels; therefore, the sailor of the Royal Navy had an additional claim upon the mercantile interest in the nature of salvage. He had no doubt if all right to remuneration were withdrawn to-morrow, that the sailors would perform their duty as honestly and courageously as they did at present. But it should be remembered that it was not for saving lives but for saving property that these claims were made. There was in the breast of every man an inherent love of gain, otherwise what was it that made the merchant send his ship to sea, and what made the Parliament sanction the payment of prize money?


said, he fully concurred in the observations of the right hon. Baro- net (Sir J. Graham). In a letter from the Secretary of the Shipowners' Society in Liverpool, there was a paragraph in favour of the clause, on the ground that it would be detrimental to the merchants' interests if the right of the British sailor to salvage were called in question.


said, that unless additional inducement in the shape of salvage was given to the British seamen, no such risks would be incurred as were incurred by them for that purpose. He trusted, however, that the proportion of the property saved to go to the salvor would be determined by the Bill. At present this was entirely at the mercy of the commander.


said, he approved of the clause, and was convinced if the principles which had been laid down by the right hon. Baronet were adhered to by the Admiralty, there would be no fear of exorbitant overcharges. For his own part, speaking as a shipowner, he was perfectly ready to acquiesce in these salvage clauses.


said, he doubted the view which the right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Graham) had taken of the common-law right to salvage inherent in the British sailor. The seaman could not go to render these salvage services except under the command of his officer; but directly a man suspended his own free action and acted under the command of another, it appeared to him that his common-law right was gone, and that he ceased to be a free agent. This matter had undergone very great consideration at various times, and the proof of it was, that the persons whose rights they were discussing had been treated upon a different principle from the ordinary class of the Queen's subjects. The right hon. Baronet, in his happy way, had introduced the subject of the "go along" and the "come along" officer; but that anecdote was as applicable to other services of honour and danger which Her Majesty's Navy were in the habit of rendering to the country as to salvage. It appeared to him, however, that the view of the Government, to use an illustration as common as that of the right hon. Gentleman was, that "money made the mare to go." If he understood the nature of the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Ingrain), it was not that officers and seamen performing these services, in which danger or the risk of life was concerned, should not be rewarded, but that that reward ought to be of a dif- ferent class from that received by other portions of Her Majesty's subjects. The hon. Member did not say, nor should he (Mr. Henley), say, that persons performing such services should do so without reward. He regarded these salvage services as extra duty, and thought, therefore, that the seamen of the Royal Navy should not be called upon to perform them without an adequate reward, in the shape either of an honorary or pecuniary reward, as the case might be. Then, the only question was, what that reward ought to be? So far as he had had an opportunity of forming an opinion upon the matter, he believed that the complaint upon the part of the shipping interest had always been directed to the oppressive and arbitrary manner in which it was endeavoured to enforce these claims. They had to contest their claims in a Court which was not highly popular, owing to the expensive nature of its proceedings; and then, if they chose to appeal, the case was carried to the Committee of Privy Council, where, even if successful, the appeal cost more, perhaps, than the whole amount of the original sum claimed. The shipping interest, he believed, were quite prepared to pay something for services actually rendered, if they could only see some way of obtaining a settlement of the case which would be less environed with difficulties than that at present in existence. No doubt, some steps had been taken by the Government in the direction in which this Amendment tended. There used to be paid some time ago what was called head-money in cases of piracy and the like; but that had been done away with. He considered this to be a case strongly analogous to that. This was a public service rendered by persons in the service of the public, and they ought to receive their reward, whether pecuniary or honorary, at the hands of the public. He admitted that these clauses contained an amelioration, to a certain extent, of the present law; but they did not go far, and he did not know that the clause about to be introduced by the right hon. Baronet would make any very great difference in the charge which parties had to pay for salvage. The regulations proposed might prevent fictitious and unfounded charges being made, but would not secure a more speedy and inexpensive means of bringing cases to trial. It certainly was an aggravation to men who had just suffered a loss to find heavy charges made by Her Majesty's ships, when the ships of other countries rendered those services gratuitously. The long peace had brought that anomaly more clearly to light, and the general feeling seemed to be that the reward, whether pecuniary or honorary, should be received at the hands of the public. The great evil which the shipping interest had to complain of, was the mode in which the claims against them were enforced. He did not think that that subject would be much mended by the present Bill, and he doubted, even, whether they would not lay the foundation for a more aggravated state of things than at present existed.


said, he did not think that the remark of his right hon. Friend (Sir James Graham) with regard to the common-law right of the sailor had been properly understood. No doubt, sailors in the Navy were bound to obey the orders of their officers; but when they were exposed to dangers not in the discharge of their regular duties, though under orders, the common law secured them the right to compensation for the risk incurred. Would they say, therefore, that his object was reward, not glory, and that "money made the mare to go?" No such thing. The appeal was to glory, and to feeling rather than reward; and now, for the first time, they proposed, by the carrying of this Amendment, not only to injure the sailor in his pocket, but to hurt him in his feelings. It had been said that he should be paid out of the public money voted by Parliament; but how much more just and true had been the language of the hon. Member for Aberdeen (Mr. G. Thompson)., one of the largest shipowners in the country, who had drawn a distinction between general services due to the country, and special services rendered to individual ship-owners! It had also been said that the inconvenience of the present process was not mitigated by this measure. Not mitigated! Why, what was the present process? The fact was, they had an absolute lien—a positive transfer of the ship to the salvor, and the necessity of selling her, perhaps, to liquidate his claim. Such a right was now entirely abandoned, and the lien was destroyed. For the risk and danger which the Queen's ship had encountered, the shipowner had to pay nothing whatever. There was no demand except for personal service rendered. The Board of Admiralty, exercising their control over the servants of the Crown, would not allow an extravagant claim even to go into the Court; or, if they were so forgetful of their duty as to permit it, the Court of Admiralty could repudiate that demand. How could it be said, then, the defective process had not been remedied, when the lien was absolutely and entirely abolished, the claim for damages to the Queen's ship also entirely abolished, and nothing remained but the reasonable reward for hazardous personal services, which, to their honour, the shipowners of this country had always been ready to recognise? He was glad that the hon. Members for Liverpool had spoken upon this question, and he rejoiced that the Members for Glasgow, for Belfast, and for Aberdeen had honoured the Committee with their opinions. Seeing that the feelings of the representatives of the shipping ports were what they were, and considering that the underwriters had the deepest interest to make it the desire of the British Navy to do their utmost, both from a spirit of glory and of reward, to save every vessel in distress, he trusted, if they should divide, the Committee would affirm by a large majority the principle of the clause which they were discussing.


said, he must deny that the Bill did away with all lien on the ship. The salvor had the power of holding the ship in pledge until a bond to the amount fixed by the consular officer was given—a bond which bound the shipowner and his heirs for ever, even if the ship should never get home; and that was what was termed doing away with the lien.


said, a lien signified security by the possession of a thing. Now, as it was proposed that salvors should give up the possession of the ship and take only personal security, he did call that doing away with the lien.


said, he should support the Bill, being convinced that it was a great improvement upon the existing state of things. Although the shipowners, as a body, would, of course, be glad to be relieved by the State from any charge upon them, they would much prefer to pay for salvage services than to run the risk of not having them rendered.


in reply, said that the shipowners of the port which he represented were unanimous in their support of the Amendment which he had proposed.

Question put, "That the words 'and the salvor shall add to his statement,' stand part of the clause."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 131; Noes 20: Majority 111.

House resumed. Bill reported as amended.