HC Deb 16 July 1855 vol 139 cc944-7

Order for Third Reading read.


said, he had submitted a clause to the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Board of Trade, to which he now invited his atten- tion and the attention of the House, for the purpose of giving some protection to sailors in cases against being compelled to go to sea in unseaworthy vessels. There were very stringent regulations for punishing sailors who left a vessel they were engaged to navigate before the completion of the voyage, but there was no remedy given to them as against the owners or masters if they found that their lives were in danger by continuing in a vessel that was unfit to go to sea. He would beg to propose that when a certain number of the crew considered the vessel they were engaged to navigate was unseaworthy, and made an affidavit to that effect, they should have an opportunity of proving their allegation, and if found correct, should be allowed to leave the vessel.

Bill read 3°.

On Question, "That the Bill do pass,"


said, he wished to call attention to the case of the ballast-heavers, which had been more than once brought under the notice of the House. Their case was very similar to that of the coal-heavers who had been provided for by special legislation; and, on a former occasion, he had moved an Amendment very similar to that which he was now about to submit. The then President of the Board of Trade had, however, objected to it, on the ground that the clause which ho proposed would be amply sufficient for the object in view, and in consequence of that assurance he (Viscount Goderich) did not press his Amendment. Since then the clause in question had been in operation, and had been found productive of great good in a certain limited circle, but outside that circle it had left standing all the evils which it was intended to meet. Those evils arose from the fact that, in the ballast-heaving trade there had been long established a truck system of a most objectionable nature. The persons engaged were employed by publicans, and were obliged to drink a large amount of liquor. In consequence, an enactment had been introduced by the right hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Cardwell) giving permission to the Trinity House to heave ballast, and employ a certain number of these ballast-heavers for the purpose. Two letters had been addressed to the Trinity House on the subject of the Act of 1853—one stating that it had been successful; and the second showing that the evil complained of still existed to a large extent with respect to the men not employed by the Trinity House. It was with the view of extending the benefits of the enactment that he would beg to propose the following clause— That in addition to the duties hitherto performed in consideration of the ballastage rates, under the local Act of the seventh year of Her present Majesty, chapter fifty-seven, for the regulation of Lastage and Ballastage in the River Thames, the Trinity House shall put the ballast supplied by them to ships on board of the same ships, and shall unload the ballast from ships requiring to unload their ballast into Trinity House lighters, except where these duties shall be performed by the crew of any such ship; and the Trinity House shall be entitled to charge for such additional duties such reasonable additional rate per ton for ballast so placed on board or unladen, as Her Majesty, by Order in Council, from time to time, approves.

Clause brought up, and read 1°.


said, he must object to the clause suggested by the hon. and gallant Member (Captain Scobell), inasmuch as it was extremely difficult satisfactorily to ascertain and determine whether a ship was really worthy to go to sea or not, and because a clause of the kind must put seamen in possession of a power which they could not fail to abuse, a power of raising difficulties and unreasonable objections ad infinitum. As to the clause moved by the noble Lord (Viscount Goderich) he was afraid he must also object to it. If the noble Lord would wait a little time, and observe the operation of the present law, which had not yet had a fair trial, he would find that it effected the greater part of what he wished to accomplish. Besides, the clause moved by the noble Lord must prove incapable of effecting the object for which it was designed.


said, he should support the clause of the noble Lord, on the ground that it was calculated to remove many if not all of the evils that had grown up under I the old system, and which still existed. At the present day men were hired to place ballast on board ships, not because they were good workmen, but because they were hard drinkers. They were expected to drink 6s. or 7s. out of every 25s. in the house of the contractor, or in that of the publican with whom he was in league. The misery that ensued to the families of the wretched men was most harrowing.


said, he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bouverie) would not persevere in his opposition to the clause, which was calculated to operate very beneficially.


said, he thought that the matter could not be dealt with in the summary manner proposed by the clause of the noble Lord, which would create a monopoly in the hands of the Trinity House for the performance of a particular description of work, unaccompanied by some safeguard against abuse in the shape of a provision regulating the prices to be charged.


said, he was anxious to bring in a proviso to meet the objection of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire, but he feared that he could not then do so consistently with the rules of the House.

Motion made, and Question "That the Clause be now read a second time," put, and negatived.

Bill passed.