HC Deb 11 May 1860 vol 158 cc1090-2

asked the President of the Board of Trade when Her Majesty's Government intend to introduce measures to carry into effect the recommendations of the Harbours of Refuge Commission? He would trouble the House with only a few words in explanation. Three years ago the question of shipwrecks absorbed considerable attention, and it was proved that on an average, a million and a half of property and 780 lives were annually sacrificed by shipwreck. Last year, indeed, the loss of property and life greatly exceeded the losses of any former years, as many as 1545 lives having been lost. This annual sacrifice of property and life had at length startled Parliament, and in 1858 a Committee was appointed to see if any remedy could be devised. In the following Session the Committee was reappoint- ed, and they came to the unanimous conclusion that it was necessary to establish harbours of refuge all along the coast, and they further recommended that a Royal Commission should be appointed to determine on the sites of those harbours. He had the honour to be appointed one of the Royal Commissioners, lie only accepted the office on the understanding that the Government would do all in their power to carry out the recommendations of the Commissioners; and it was duo to the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir John Pakington) to say that he had shown the greatest anxiety and interest on this subject, and that he had omitted no opportunity to press on the House the recommendations of the Committee and Commission. The Commissioners recommended the erection of certain harbours on the coast of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and the sum of money which they estimated would be necessary for the purpose was £2,360,000. That might appear a large sum; but both the House knew when they appointed a Committee, and the Government when they appointed the Commission, that the harbours could not be erected for a smaller sum than that which he had named. He feared, however, that his question would now be met with the answer that that they; had no funds. It was known from the beginning that those funds would be wanted; I and if there was no intention to carry out the recommendations of the Commissioners, then it was a waste of the public money and of their own time to appoint them. The Commissioners recommended that the expense should be extended over a period of ten years, and that a vote of £250,000 should be taken for the purpose annually, Considering the importance of the object in view they thought this was not a large Bum for the House to vote; and even in the present state of the finances—though he must say those finances had got into a state which even to him, who had generally supported the Government, was really alarming—and the expenses of the country were growing at such a rate as to be still more alarming—still he thought the Chancellor of the Exchequer might he able to spare £250,000 for the important object of saving life, and the large amount of property annually sacrificed. If that could not he done then he hoped facilities would he afforded for the local authorities to raise the money by loan. It was not probable that such a system would result in loss to the country. He found that from 1817 to 1850 the advances of the Exchequer Loan Commissioners to public works had resulted in again to the Government of £1,400,000, being the difference between the interest at which the money was borrowed and the interest at which it was lent. He hoped, therefore, he should receive a satisfactory answer to this question from the Government.