HC Deb 06 May 1862 vol 166 cc1303-36

said, he rose for the purpose of submitting to the House a Resolution on the subject of Harbours of Refuge. The Resolution to which his Motion referred was in favour of carrying out the recommendations of a Royal Commission of which he (Mr. Lindsay) had been a Member. In the course of the debate upon a similar Resolution, which he moved two years previously, the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter) objected to the formation of the proposed harbours of refuge, and moved the Previous Question, not that he was opposed to the granting of public money for the purpose of saving life and property, but because, representing a maritime town, he was in favour of grants to existing harbours. The hon. Member and the Provost of Arbroath had both given evidence before the Commissioners, and they stated that an outlay of £10,000 at Arbroath would prove a great public benefit. With respect to Arbroath, however, the Commissioners were of opinion that it was one of the last places at which they would recommend Government money to be laid out. On the former occasion, the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, whilst he opposed the Motion, seemed to agree generally in his (Mr. Lindsay's) views. He admitted that the want of harbours of refuge was a great evil—that it was the duty of the Government to do what they could to remedy that evil, and he repudiated the idea that the Government had any intention of evading the question or of shuffling out of the Resolution at which the House had arrived in a previous Session. The noble Lord at the head of the Government on that occasion also said that it was impossible for any one who had gone through the Reports of the Committee and the Commission, and had seen the vast amount of life and property lost by shipwreck on the coast, not to be convinced of the absolute necessity of providing harbours of refuge; and he assured the House that it was most unjust to the Government to state that this matter had not occupied their serious attention; that they were not fully alive to the importance of the subject, or that it was not their intention to deal with it, as it undoubtedly would be their duty next Session to bring the matter before the House in some practical shape. The same pledge had been made by various Governments for ten years, and yet nothing had been done. Two years ago he divided the House, and carried his Resolution by a majority of seventeen, and yet in the face of that Resolution and those pledges on the part of Her Majesty's Ministers nothing, he might say, had been done, It was true that last session a Bill was introduced for the purpose of giving facilities for loans for Harbour Works, but upon the main question of constructing harbours of refuge nothing had been done; and, consequently, he had felt bound, though reluctantly, to bring the subject again under the consideration of the House. It had, in fact, been under consideration for the last ten years; and a Committee, of which the late Mr. James Wilson was Chairman, and which sat for two Sessions, reported that they earnestly pressed upon the House their strong conviction of the necessity of these works being undertaken at as early a period as possible, and upon a system that would secure their steady and speedy progress. Since that time there had been an enormous and rapid increase in the amount of shipping. In the eleven months ending the 31st of December, 1851, there entered and cleared from our ports, vessels employed in the foreign and colonial trade, to the amount of 12.500,000 tons. But in the eleven months ending in December, 1861, there were entered and cleared no: less than 23,560,000 tons—showing an increase of nearly double in ten years. In the eleven months ending with December, 1851, there were entered and cleared of vessels engaged in the home trade 20,500,000; tons; whilst in the same period in 1861 there were 32,000,000 tons of such vessels; so that the increase in the amount of shipping employed in our coasting, foreign, and colonial trade in ten years was no less than 23,000,000 of tons. Now if the measure were necessary in 1851, if it were necessary in 1857, how much more was it needed in 1862, when the number of vessels entering and clearing out of our ports was nearly double! The Committee were unanimous in recommending the construction of harbours of refuge, and they also recommended that a Royal Commission should be appointed to visit the coasts and report as to the proper sites for these harbours. Of that Commission he (Mr. Lindsay) had the honour to be a Member. They visited the whole coast of Great Britain and Ireland, and examined all the proper spots which might be selected for harbours. Commencing at Wick, they found that from Pentland Frith to Cromarty, a distance of eighty miles, an ironbound and dangerous coast, there was not a single harbour which a boat could enter at low water. They also found that no less than 1,700 boats and 8,000 fishermen were engaged in the herring-fishing trade on that coast. It was given in evidence before the Commissioners that in one gale alone thirty-seven of these brave and hardy men were lost in the space of four hours in sight of the inhabitants of Wick, who were powerless to assist them; and it was clearly shown that if a harbour had existed there, they would not have been lost. From the north-east of Scotland they proceeded to the north-east coast of England. They found that for a distance of 105 miles northwards from Flamborough Head there were none but tidal harbours. In fact, there were no harbours into which even small vessels could enter at low water. It was no unfrequent thing to see as many as 500 vessels at a time from Flamborough Head. It often happened that as many as 1,000 vessels left the ports on the north-east coast at one tide. Now, let hon. Members imagine an easterly gale coming on. What would the effect be? In two gales of wind between the years 1854 and 1857 as many as 138 ships and 109 lives were lost on that coast alone; and during the years 1860 and 1861, since he had last addressed the House on the subject, within seven miles of Hartlepool no less than 101 vessels of 109,000 tons, had been stranded or wrecked, and 115 lives lost. The Commissioners then went to the Land's End. They found that from the Land's End to Hartland Point, a distance of sixty miles, there was no harbour of refuge. St. Ives was the point at which they thought it would be most desirable to construct one, as it was in their opinion "contiguous to the great highway of all ships entering or leaving either the English or Irish, as well as the Bristol Channel." They then visited the coast of Ireland, where they inspected the magnificent natural bays of Carlingford and Waterford. They considered it most desirable that the natural advantages of those bays should be turned to account, and they recommended that the channels of entrance should be improved so as to make them six hundred feet wide and thirty feet deep at spring tides. A sum of £50,000 was all that was necessary to be expended in widening and deepening each of these bays, and that sum would make them excellent harbours of refuge. Proceeding next to the Isle of Man, they found that there was a total absence of deep-water harbours in the island, and that its shores were generally of a rocky nature. A harbour of refuge at Douglas would be of great value to ships navigating the Irish Channel, as well as to vessels trading to and from the Mersey and the Clyde. The Commissioners, therefore, recommended an outlay of £50,000 there, subject, however, to the condition that the inhabitants of the Isle of Man should raise £50,000 more, so that £100,000 in all should be expended. They further recommended the expenditure of £800,000 in the construction of a harbour at Filey—a larger sum than at any other place; but they considered that to be the most favourable point along the whole north-eastern coast of England. They also made recommendations in favour of an outlay of £40,000 at Padstow; of £100,000 at Wick, provided the inhabitants raised another £100,000; of £100,000 at Peterhead, provided the inhabitants contributed £200,000 and of £50,000, as he had already said, at Douglas. At Hartlepool, on the northeast coast, they recommended the Government to lay out £500,000, provided the inhabitants raised £500,000 more; and at the mouth of the Tyne to give a grant for a harbour to the extent of £250,000, on the condition that £750,000 was expended by the local authorities. On the whole they advised the outlay by Government of a sum of £1,340,000, provided £1,600,000 more were raised by local rates. His hon. and gallant Friend opposite(Sir F. Smith)would, perhaps, favour the House with his opinion as to whether the works proposed could be completed for these sums, as the Commissioners believed they might. Now, it was ascertained that during the last ten years eight hundred lives were lost upon the average upon the coast every year, exclusive of those lost at sea, and £1,500,000 of property. So that during the last ten years, while they had been discussing the matter, whilst Committee after Committee had recommended that something should be done, 8,000 of their best and bravest men, and £15,000,000 of property had been sacrificed. Allowing for the increase of trade, it was perhaps not too much to say that in the course of the next ten years the loss of life would exceed 10,000 men, and the loss of property would be upwards of £20,000,000. Then let the question be looked at as a matter of account. He did not say, nor did he wish the Committee to be led away by supposing, that the construction of harbours of refuge would necessarily save even half the number of these lives and of that amount of property. But from an examination he had made of the loss of life which had taken place near Filey, he believed that one-sixth of this loss of life would be prevented, and one-sixth of this amount of property saved. The total amount to be expended was £2,500,000, which, capitalized at four per cent, was about £100,000 a year. That sum in the space of ten years would amount to £1,000,000; and if only one-sixth of the property now lost would be saved by the proposed harbours, the amount saved would be £3,500,000, showing a clear gain over the outlay of £2,500,000. The construction of the harbours he had referred to would also save thousands of human lives, upon which no price could be set—the lives of men most valuable to the country and deserving of its gratitude for the noble manner in which they had recently come forward to man our ships. It had been said, that if these harbours were constructed, ships would not enter them, but the best answer to that was to refer to the number of ships which availed themselves of the existing harbours, imperfect as they were. In 1859, 633 vessels entered Kingston harbour for refuge, 815 availed themselves of Portland, and 2,913 entered Holyhead harbour. The construction of a harbour at Filey would not only be a great boon to the mercantile marine, but it would be a means of national defence. He would only add that, as we had adopted the principle of free trade, and invited all nations to send their vessels to our shores, it was our bounden duty not to leave our dangerous coasts unprotected, with no harbour in which vessels could seek refuge in stormy weather. He would therefore conclude by proposing his Motion.


said, he entirely agreed that it was necessary that the harbours should be constructed, though he was bound to admit that the present moment was not the most opportune at which to ask for an increase of expenditure, as their financial arrangements left no large margin. At the same time, they ought to bear in mind that the demand now put forth could not involve any very great outlay at the outset, and whatever was spent would be usefully employed, which could not be said of expenditure upon forts at Spithead and Plymouth. Besides, the harbours of refuge would also be a means of defence. His hon. Friend had referred to the loss of life on the north-east coast of England and Scotland. It was a melancholy reflection that it should take place; that annually the lives of so many brave men should be lost. It was time that steps should be taken to save these lives, and also the property which was sacrificed in ships frequenting these coasts. He thought that loans should be made in the case of the smaller harbours to enable the local authorities to carry out their designs. However, there were difficulties in advancing money. Take the case of the Tees; if a breakwater were formed, there it would make a very large roadstead, and the amount required for that purpose was £100,000. The Commissioners would not advance that sum; the security could not be given in the form they required; it therefore seemed that the Act of Parliament required alteration to facilitate assistance of this kind being given. The larger harbours of refuge would be useful not only for the safety of our merchantmen, but for the repair of our men-of-war; and if they were to have those black, insignificant-looking vessels creeping over the sea in order to carry on the present system of warfare, there must be harbours for them to enter in the case of an emergency. In every point of view it seemed to him that those harbours should be made, and he had therefore much pleasure in seconding the Motion.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That, in the opinion of this House, it is the duty of Her Majesty's Government to adopt measures to carry into effect the Resolution of tin: House, of the 19th day of June, 1860, in regard to Harbours of Refuge.


said, he rose to express a hope that neither the Government nor the House would lightly give their sanction to the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland. It was quite true that a Resolution was passed by that House two years previously to the effect that the recommendations of the Royal Commission ought to be carried out. But under what circumstances was that Resolution passed? It was one of those instances—many of which must be within the recollection of the House—of a Resolution passed per incuriam, when a division was not expected, and he maintained that it ought not to be taken as a deliberate expression of opinion on the part of that House. It was quite true that both a Select Committee of that House and a Royal Com mission had recommended a very large expenditure on harbours of refuge, but he must say he entertained the very strongest objection to the mode in which both these investigations were conducted. Instead of the Select Committee being composed, as it ought mainly, and indeed entirely to have been, of gentlemen whose constituents: were not in the least degreee interested in any of those ports where the expenditure would most likely take place, it consisted to a very large extent of the representatives of those very places where it was proposed to expend the public money. But not content with that, the Chairman of the Committee, after the evidence in favour of a particular locality had been finished, obtained leave from time to time for the representative of that locality to retire from the Committee, in order to make way for the Member representing the seaport the case of which was to come next. He spoke with knowledge on this subject, because he was himself asked by the Chairman to serve for a limited time on the Committee, but he most positively declined. With regard to the Commission, it was directed to visit and report upon the special localities where this money should be expended, but he (Mr. Baxter) did not conceive that it was any part of their duty to report either upon the general subject of harbours of refuge or the financial; aspect of the question. His hon. Friend had that night laid great stress upon the recommendations of the Select Committee; and Royal Commission, but had carefully; kept out of view the fact that they most materially differed. The Select Committee proposed that the larger portion of the expenditure which would be necessary to incur if its views were to be carried out, should be defrayed by a passing toll; but the Commission was much more bold, and reported, that inasmuch as the general interests of the country were concerned, the greater portion of the expenditure should be paid by the public at large. They also differed as to the amount of expenditure; for, whilst the Committee recommended an expenditure of £2,000,000 for all purposes, the Royal Commission recommended an expenditure of £4,000,000. Again, the Committee recommended that; £400,000 of the expenditure should be defrayed from the Consolidated Fund, whilst the Commission recommended that £2,390,000 should fall upon that fund. The hon. Member must not assume that he was the only advocate in that House of the claims of humanity, for no Gentleman present would hesitate to promote any mea- sure which would save the lives or even increase the comforts of the British seaman. But in his opinion the Royal Commissioners had taken a sanguine view of the effect of their recommendations, if carried out. They advised that £125,000 should be expended on the harbour of Wick if the inhabitants expended an equal sum; but the late representative of Wick told them they might as well ask his constituents to pay off the national debt. They also recommended that £300,000 should be spent on the harbour of Peter-head, of which £100,000 was to be defrayed by the country. Now these recommendations were made in face of the unanimous and clear testimony of all the captains that no harbours of refuge were necessary in that quarter. It was held, indeed, by persons of experience that more vessels were lost in running for harbours of refuge than in putting out to sea or in keeping at sea. The real fact was, that these casualties were caused, not by the want of harbours of refuge, but by sending out ill-found ships and incompetent or drunken captains. It was a vulgar proverb that no one ever saw a dead donkey, and in the northern coal ports there was a saying that no one ever saw a collier unfit for service. What, then, became of the worn-out colliers? According to a credible and competent authority, a large proportion of the old colliers were bought by shareholders out of earnings derived from a business which gave them no knowledge of the sea, then covered by high insurances, and sent to sea, many of them to perish with their crews, while the owners lived upon the insurances. When ships were well found, and properly manned and commanded, they did not in stress of weather run to harbours of refuge, but went to sea. Screw steamers, moreover, were rapidly superseding on all our coasts that very class of small vessels for which the hon. Member for Sunderland wished to provide harbours of refuge, and even in the case of those small ill-found brigs and schooners none of them would be benefited by harbours of refuge unless they happened to be close to them when the gale came on. In 1859, out of 1,645 lives lost 926 were lost in three fine ships, the Royal Charter, the Pomona, and the Blervie Castle. The Royal Charter was wrecked just after passing the harbour of Holyhead, and where the other two were lost nobody had ever proposed to construct harbours of refuge. It was true that a large, propor- tion of wrecks took place on the northeast coast, where there was no harbour of refuge; but it was also true that an equally large number of wrecks in proportion to the number of vessels occurred at the mouth of the Frith of Forth, which the Select Committee had described as one of the best harbours of refuge in the country. In the storm of February, 1857, the second greatest loss of life took place at Kingston, where there was an excellent harbour of refuge. When the harbours of Dover, Alderney, and Portland were proposed, it was said that the effect would be to diminish the premium of insurance upon vessels passing them. Nothing of the kind had taken place, and until now the want of harbours of refuge had never been mentioned among the grievances of the shipowners. He believed that the construction of harbours of refuge would cost far more than the Royal Commissioners had been led to expect. The expense of existing harbours had amounted to double the original cost. The original Estimate for Portland was £548,000, but the actual expenditure already amounted to £973,000. There was a difference of something like 75 per cent between the Estimates of the Select Committee and those of the Royal Commissioners. Such a fact ought to induce the House to pause before commencing an expenditure which was not justified by the present financial condition of the country, and of which no man could say where it would end.


said, that having had the honour of being a Member of the two Committees on this subject, and also of the Commission appointed by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droit-wich to carry the inquiries of those Committees, he further wished to take some part in this discussion. The hon. Member for Montrose had found great fault with the Commissioners because they had increased the estimates of the Committees. The hon. Gentleman did not seem to be aware that there was any great difference between estimates on such a subject as that under consideration framed by a Committee of that House and the estimates framed by the members of a Commission, with the aid of celebrated engineers and the advantage of a personal inspection of the harbours to which the estimates referred. The Commissioners had investigated the matter with the greatest possible care; and he would venture to assert that the estimate which they had made would carry out the whole cost of the works in question, be cause a large margin had been left for contingencies. Estimates framed without care were undoubtedly not to be relied on; but when Gentlemen pledged themselves to their accuracy they were bound to be on the safe side. And such was the course taken by the Commissioners. Mr. Coode. the celebrated engineer of Portland, was one of them; Captain Veitch, a very old officer of Engineers, and now employed by the Admiralty, was another. He (Sir F. Smith) was a third; and during the fifty years of his professional life he had never made an estimate which did not cover the cost of the work. The hon. Gentleman opposite admitted that a certain number of lives might be saved by these harbours of refuge. At what price did the hon. Gentleman value those lives? Why, the men whose lives were lost owing to the non-existence of harbours of refuge on the dangerous parts of our coast formed the nursery of the Royal Navy. If the men employed in their merchant vessels were lost to us, whence where they to supply the Royal Navy? The Commission found that 700 or 800 vessels were not unfre-quently driven away from Flamborough Head by strong gales, and were obliged to go before the wind, holding on as long as they could, and many of them eventually getting swamped. That showed that a harbour of refuge was wanted on this coast. The hon. Member for Montrose had alluded to the port of Wick. If ever any people had reason to complain of the conduct of their Government, they were the people of Wick. For several years they had expressed an anxiety to construct a harbour of refuge upon their coast, and they were willing to undertake the construction of one; but the Government constantly stopped them by Baying, that as the Government intended to construct one, any harbour that the people of Wick might construct would interfere with that proposed by the Government. It would require; £250,000 to construct a harbour at Wick, and the inhabitants were willing to advance; one half of that amount. Every yard of I the harbour that might be constructed there would tend to save the lives of many men. It had been said that the Committee of which Mr. Wilson was Chairman was a packed Committee. He never knew any Committee that was more anxious to bring out the truth. On the Report of that Committee the Commission was appointed. He denied that it went about the country as a roving Commission, as stated by the hon. Member for Montrose. They endeavoured to ascertain how the greatest amount of protection could be secured at the least cost. They tried to discover what was actually necessary; and that was all they recommended. The whole of the north-east coast was dangerous. It was an ironbound coast without shelter. In rough weather Whit by could not be approached, except at or near high water, but Peter head and Filey could be made secure ports. A harbour at Redcar would, no doubt, be highly desirable; but it would cost £4,000,000, and therefore the Commissioners abstained from proposing an expenditure of that amount, and confined themselves to the recommendation of such harbours as were absolutely necessary. With regard to Ireland, the Commissioners proposed that £50,000 should be expended at Carling ford and a like sum at Water-ford. Those sums would make harbours which, if not first-rate, would give safety to vessels. He thought the Government ought not to hesitate to give these pitiful sums even if they should be the means of saving the life of only one man. At Padstow, on the Cornish coast, there was no protection whatever from the west winds, but he believed that a small cost would make that a perfectly safe harbour. In the case of St. Ives the Commission had recommended that £400,000 should be given. That was a point of vast importance both in a commercial and a military point of view. No doubt it was a considerable sum, but the object justified it. When they were lavishing money in the construction of fortifications over all parts of the country, why should they begrudge the expenditure of small sums in the construction of harbours of refuge? What was the use of the House having voted two years ago that harbours of refuge should be constructed, if that Vote was not to he acted upon? He hoped to hear the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, say he regretted that he had not; already commenced operations, but would I do so next year. If the hon. Member for Sunderland received that promise, it would I be the beginning of a work which would require ten years for accomplishment. Let the House consider the melancholy loss of life on the coast during the last eleven years; the returns of the Board of Trade stated it at 6,836 souls. All these might not have been saved by harbours of refuge, but the loss of life would have been much less. The wrecks were chiefly caused by gales from the N. N. E. and the E. If there were proper harbours of refuge on the north-east coast of England, the losses would not be so great. He was free to admit that the colliers were old vessels, badly found and indifferently manned; but the poor sailors must either go to sea or starve. If the colliers were not fit to go to sea, the right hon. Gentleman should stop them. But while they were allowed to run, the Government ought to provide harbours of refuge. With the present competition in carriage, they were generally laden to the deck; and when a gale came, they were in jeopardy. The owners of first-rate ships in Glasgow and Liverpool said, they did not want harbours of refuge, for they told captains to go to their port and not to let them hear of them until they arrived; but the coasting trade did want protection, and the Government was bound to do something to save the lives of men whose services they might some day require. He had no local views to serve, but he felt strongly that this great work, which could be done at a small cost, ought at once to be commenced.


said, the question of harbours of refuge was in a most unsatisfactory condition. Five years ago the Committee appointed to inquire into the subject first assembled. They assiduously prosecuted their inquiries for two Sessions, and received the acknowledgments of the House for their attention. A Commission was then appointed, for which they were indebted to the late Government, and the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Droitwich. Two able Members of that Commission had addressed them to-night, and he should not repeat their arguments. But he must be allowed to impress upon the House, that from St. Abbs to Flamborough Head, a distance of nearly one hundred miles, there was no really safe harbour. Along the eastern coast 48 per cent of the coasting trade and 35 per cent of the whole trade of England passed; and, out of 5,580 vessels, 2,104 were lost there. If only 30 per cent of the property lost by wrecks on the coast of England could be saved, the whole expense of these proposed harbours of refuge would be recouped in four years. Millions had been spent upon the Bouth coast, and something ought to be done for the east coast. The opponents of the Motion said that there was a difference of opinion between the Commission and the Committee, but that was not so. The late Mr. Wilson proposed a passing toll, and upon a division in the Committee it was carried, but it was accompanied with a recommendation that a large proportion of the expense should be defrayed out of the Exchequer; and he could assure them that Mr. Wilson made his proposal with the view to place the case favourably before the House of Commons, and to prevent the Report of the Committee being a dead letter. The Committee were unanimous the Commission were unanimous; the House had passed a Resolution by a large majority; the late Government took an interest in the subject, and the only portion of the country which seemed to regard it with apathy were the present occupants of the Treasury bench.


observed, that the hon. Member for Montrose went too far when he said that the former Resolution in favour of harbours of refuge was carried only by the votes of those whose constituencies were likely to profit by it. It was impossible that all the three hundred Members who were present on the occasion could be interested in the matter. The question was of a national character, and was not a mere shipowners' question. The want of proper shelter for shipping on our coasts placed an additional charge on our exports and imports, and that injured our commerce, and infringed the comfort of every one. He held that the plan recommended by the Commissioners was just and reasonable. The Government ought to do something to protect a mercantile marine, which was of such importance to the country.


said, the hon. Member for Montrose had most unjustly left the House to infer that the Committee were influenced in their commendation of certain localities as harbours of refuge, by the circumstance of being connected with them. The best proof that they had decided on the best places was the fact, that the Royal Commission, subsequently appointed, concurred in their decision. The members of the latter, soon after their appointment, met in London and determined on the elements necessary in a good harbour. "The first object being to save life; next, property, to facilitate commerce; and lastly, our defences, and in connection with them to secure a rendezvous for our ships of war." The places they adopted fulfilled these requirements, and were the same as those recommended by the Committee, and so far the latter were fully vindicated Against the insinuations of the hon. Gentleman. Another objection urged by him was, that in the instance of Waterford and Carling ford the Committee deemed £20,000 sufficient in each case, but the Commissioners suggested £50,000. The reason was very easily explained. The former deemed the sum they named would improve these harbours considerably, and make them valuable as refuges; but when the Commissioners came round, they were so impressed with their many advantages, both as regarded commerce and also with regard to State purposes, that they were unanimous in recommending an additional sum of £30,000 in each case in order to make them perfect. He (Mr. Blake) felt as great a desire for the construction of harbours on the English coast, and it was no want of sympathy for the disasters that occurred there prevented him from pointing out their necessity; but as that had been done so ably by other Members, he would confine the few observations he intended to make to the locality with which he was connected; and he felt he was in an independent position to do so, because it would derive little or no benefit from being made a harbour of refuge so far as its own shipping was concerned, as the entrance was quite deep enough for the vessels trading to the port; but the benefit it would prove to English and foreign shipping would be incalculable, if once the shoals near the entrance of the harbour were removed. Waterford was situated at the south-east angle of Ireland, and commanded the entrance to St. George's and the Bristol Channel. The greater portion of the trade of the east and west coasts of England had to pass close to it. The commanders of the American ocean steamers had strict orders in winter to take the southern passage, so that nine-tenths of English commerce to America, at the most perilous period of the year, had to pass Waterford; and should any of the valuable vessels engaged in that trade encounter a southerly gale on entering the Channel, their position would be very difficult, as they would find it hard to reach the English coast, and there was no harbour for them to run to between Kingstown and Cork; there was no harbour for them to shelter in if they could not enter Waterford. He would not trouble the House by recapitulating the number of disasters which had occurred off Waterford for some years past, which might have been averted if a small sum were expended in the manner he ad- vocated, but would confine himself to the wrecks of the last winter. Within four miles on either side of the harbour eight vessels were totally wreeked, and, as usually occurred, none were bound for the port. They were all going to or returning to English ports. He would just name two of them which would doubtless have been saved if the recommendation of the Royal Commission had been carried out. On the 22nd of January last the Tiger, a splendid vessel, from Liverpool to New York, entered the harbour in a storm; but the master was afraid to face the shoals, as southerly wind was prevailing at the time. She was unable to clear off, and got to sea, and struck at Templetown, a mile below the harbour; and thus a vessel worth £13,000, her cargo worth £11,000, and two valuable lives were lost, which would have been saved had a refuge been formed. It was the same sad story with the Anglia, a Genoese vessel, worth £2,000, her cargo £6,000 to £8,000. She could not get in cither, and became a total wreck, striking at the southern end of the shoals. She was going from New York to Sunderland. He would not trespass on the House with the more terrible details of casualties, which more than probably would never have occurred if the Government had acted with becoming promptitude regarding harbours of refuge. Since the last debate on the subject a new feature had presented itself, showing still more forcibly the great necessity for their construction. He alluded to iron-clad ships. Whatever their other merits might be, they were admittedly deficient in seagoing qualities; and if caught in a storm on a lee shore, their destruction would be inevitable. They would often, probably, require to pass up and down the Bristol and St. George's Channel, and with an adverse wind and unable to make either Kingstown or Cork, unless Waterford were deep enough for their reception, these costly vessels would be destroyed. As this point was worthy of consideration, especially at the present moment, when such a vast revolution in maritime matters, was taking place by the reconstruction of the navy, the Government had not given Ireland any coast defences. If they were to be defended by a Merrimac or a Monitor, surely there should be a harbour into which in bad weather the vessel could run. If such a vessel as the Warrior were overtaken in a storm in the Channel, with its bad sear going qualities it would certainly be lost for want of a harbour of refuge, and thus a vast amount of property and great loss of life would be entailed. There was the greatest want of a harbour of refuge felt along the whole eastern and southern coast from Dublin and Kingstown round to Waterford and Cork, off which coast is St. George's Channel, the great highway between England and Ireland, as well as the Channel by which American vessels arrive and depart. He would observe also, that for all local purposes the harbour of Waterford was quite sufficient as it was. It was sufficiently deep for the local trade, and therefore he spoke in the interests of the country generally, when he advocated the carrying-out in Waterford of a harbour of the importance suggested by the Commissioners in their Report, and not merely of local interest. When the subject was brought forward last session, the noble Lord at the head of the Government said, that in regard to the loss of property owners of ships might protect themselves by insurance; but he could assure the noble Lord that the charges on shipping had already become so severe, and the freights so low, that it would not pay shipowners to effect insurances to such an amount as would cover risks of the kind alluded to. On that occasion one remark was made by the noble Lord, for which he thought he was entitled to the greatest credit—namely, that whatever might be done in the way of insurance, there was no means of insurance to afford protection to human life. On that ground they had the promise of the noble Lord that something should be done with respect to the harbours of refuge during the then coming session to prevent such disasters. Now, the only thing that had been done was the bringing in of a Bill by the right hon. Gentleman, the President of the Board of Trade, to enable Harbour Commissioners to borrow money for the purpose of improvements. He was not, however, aware that any thing effectual has been accomplished under that Bill. Before sitting down he should say that Ireland, as well as England, should feel greatly indebted to the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Lindsay) for his repeated efforts in this important matter—efforts made in the interests of humanity. And he ventured to express a hope that the hon. Gentleman would press his Motion to a division, and that the result will be of such a character as to convince the noble Lord, the First Minister of the Crown, and the Government, that the time had arrived, in the opinion of Parliament, when practical effect should be given to the recommendations of the Commissioners, who had with such zeal inquired into this most important subject. There never perhaps was an instance where the interests of commerce, the requirements of the State, and the claims of humanity more forcibly appealed to the House to carry out an undertaking than on the present occasion.


said, that he had been in communication with many chambers of commerce in Lancashire and Yorkshire, who had entreated himself and his Colleague to do all that they could to advance this cause. He trusted that the Government would see that both humanity and the public interest demanded that the work of making these harbours should be commenced without delay.


said, that many general statements had been made in the course of the debate in which they must all concur. They must all regret, for instance, the lamentable losses which were annually caused by shipwrecks, and admit that a country which had good harbours had an advantage over a country which had no harbours, or only bad ones. They might also admit the gallantry and daring of our sailors, and the existence of some amount of indifference to their welfare on the part of those who sent ships to sea in an unseaworthy condition. But the question the House had to consider was, how far these things threw light upon the proposition of his hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, or would enable hon. Members to form an opinion as to whether or not they ought to pledge themselves to the carrying-out, at a large expense, of certain works at particular points on the coasts of the United Kingdom. It had been said that since the adoption, in the year 1860, of his hon. Friend's Resolution, recommending that the Commissioners' Report should be carried out, the Government had done nothing in the matter. He could not admit that that had been the case. On the contrary, they had done a part, and a very important part of what the Commissioners recommended should be done, The Commissioners recommended that "large sums should be devoted to the improvement of trading harbours through the medium of the Public Works Loan Commissioners; that those loans should be made at 3 per cent interest, and should be repaid by means of a sinking fund in the space of fifty years." The Government introduced a Bill embodying that identical proposition. It was passed and was being acted upon. Advances of money bad been agreed to be made under it during the present year, and several applications for loans were now under the consideration of the Loan Commissioners; and he submitted that time ought to be given to allow that scheme to work, in order to see how far it would mitigate the evils which were complained of. With reference to the saving of life, nothing was, in his opinion, so important as the improvement of the access to existing trading harbours. It was at the entrances of such harbours that vessels congregated; and if they were prevented from entering them by want of water or other causes, they were often detained during the long winter nights upon a lee shore, and ended by being stranded or suffering damage from collisions. A glance at the wreck chart would show that a great proportion of losses, both of lives and vessels, happened off harbours which were much frequented by shipping, but which were not accessible at all times of tide. Therefore the Government had done something which would in the course of time tend to diminish the loss of life which was complained of; and he believed that the plan which had been adopted would produce much benefit. His hon. Friend would, no doubt, tell him that loans at interest were not the same things as grants, and he quite admitted the soundness of that position. His hon. Friend now asked them to adopt a Resolution pledging them selves to carry out all the recommendations of the Commissioners, and to give large grants of money to particular localities mentioned in their Report. In the absence of his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer he felt rather embarrassed in discussing the question; because, before pledging the House to so large an expenditure, he should like to know whether it would be necessary to resort to an increase of taxation in order to provide for it. They could not honestly pledge themselves to a largo expenditure without at the same time saying that they were willing to impose upon the public any additional taxation which it might render necessary; and he was afraid that they could not carry out this plan without making some addition to the ways and means of the country. Engineers always said, that in constructing works of this description, exposed to injury by sudden storms, you could not adopt a more expensive course than that of proceeding by slow degrees; and that the most eco- nomical plan was to carry such works out with all possible vigour and despatch. He believed that that was a sound view, and therefore if the House pledged itself to the adoption of the scheme, steps ought to be taken to provide the means which would be necessary for carrying it out with energy and without unnecessary delay. The Commissioners proposed that £4,000,000 should be spent upon these harbours of refuge. Speaking on behalf of the Government, he should be sorry to be responsible for the statement that they would be completed for £6,000,000. He must tell the House deliberately, that if the works recommended by the Commissioners were fully and completely carried out, he had been assured they could not be executed under £8,000,000. That even the working estimate of an engineer should be exceeded was nothing extraordinary. For the harbours referred to by the hon. Member for Montrose, most elaborate working estimates had been prepared by the engineers about to undertake the work; they set down the probable cost at £2,500,000, yet £5,000,000 were spent. What reliance, therefore, could be placed on estimates of a conjectural character, furnished by Commissioners appointed merely to determine the fittest sites for harbours of refuge, into the scope of whose inquiry the expense did not properly enter? How were these £4,000,000, which the Commissioners spoke of, to be procured? For it was not sufficient to plead the general question of humanity— they must look at the matter from a business point of view. According to the plan suggested, £1,600,000 of that amount was to be raised from local aids, which he ventured to say would not be forthcoming; that portion of the Commissioners speeulations—for after all they were nothing more—was perfectly illusory. Of that £1,600,000 Wick was to contribute £100,000; but the House had been reminded of a statement by the former representative of that borough, who was then discharging important financial duties in India, to the effect that his constituents could as soon think of paying off the national debt as of contributing any such amount. Peter head was to give £200,000, but what chance existed of its being able to do so? Its entries annually amounted to only 47,000 tons; the fishing boats at Peter head were some 400 in number, and communications which he had received disclosed that there was no evidence either of the ability or willingness of that port to contribute anything towards harbours of refuge. The Tyne was relied upon for no less than £250,000. It was true the Tyne Commissioners had power to raise money for certain purposes; but not for the construction of harbours of refuge. In the same way Hartlepool was to give £500,000, notwithstanding the fact, that after having obtained a Harbour Bill, it had failed in two attempts to procure loans, one for £50,000, and the other for £100,000. The House, he thought, would be entirely deceiving itself if it relied upon obtaining £1,600,000 from these various localities. There was no use in disguising the fact that reliance could not be placed upon these local subscriptions; but that if the House determined on the construction of these harbours of refuge, they must provide the ways and means by a Parliamentary grant. Before mating up their minds that these were indispensable for the saving of life, hon. Members ought to look into the Returns, and see how many of the lives actually lost would have been saved had the proposed harbours of refuge been in existence. Nobody, for instance, would say that lives lost on the West coast of Ireland could in any degree have been affected by a safety harbour on the coast of Yorkshire. When those whose fate was thus unaffected by the existence of harbours of refuge were eliminated from the total returns, it was surprising to what an extent the area was narrowed. For the eleven years ending in 1860 it appeared that 6,924 lives had been lost on the coasts of the United Kingdom from stress of weather and similar causes, collisions being excluded from the Return. Of that number less than one-sixth were lost on the coasts specially selected for harbours of refuge. Reference had been made to particular losses of large ships, in which hundreds perished at one time. Wrecks of that character swelled the returns greatly; but on examination it would be found that during those eleven years in not a single case coming under this head would a harbour of refuge been of any use. No less than 3,412 lives, or one half of the entire number, were lost in great casualties, such as that of the Royal Charter. In the year 1860 the Royal Adelaide was said to have been destroyed by the bursting of a boiler, and 206 persons were drowned. In 1852 the Amazon, a large steamer, was burnt at sea, and 100 lives were lost. The loss of the Mobile caused the death of 72 persons; that of the Queen Victoria, 83 persons; that of the Annie Jane, 360 persons. In the Tayhun 290 lives were lost; in the Havannah, 190. Besides these there were the Pomona, the Royal Charter, and the Blervie. As far, therefore, as harbours of refuge were concerned, half the number of lives lost might be left out of the calculation. If they went into a calculation as to the number of lives which could have been saved by those harbours of refuge which it was proposed to erect, they would find it very small indeed. It was a mistake to suppose that the greatest loss occurred on the north-east coast. By tables which had been laid before the House it would be found that during a period of eleven years the number of lives lost annually by shipwreck between the Fern Islands and Flam borough Head was 47, and that for the same time the number of lives lost annually between Start Point and Land's End was upwards of 40. Between Start Point and Land's End there were five harbours—some of them magnificent harbours, which could be taken day or night; and yet the loss of life, exclusive of that caused by collisions, was as great on that short line of coast as on the coast between the Fern Islands and Flam borough Head. The greatest loss of life was between a line from Lambay to the Skerries and the Mull of Cantyre, on the west coast of Scotland. Between those two points 130 lives were lost annually, or three times as many as were lost between the Fern Islands and Flam borough Head. The subject now under discussion was, no doubt, one which appealed to the feelings and sympathies of hon. Members; but when, with the view of saving human life, they were called on to undertake certain works—to enter on a large expenditure—it became their duty, without being the less humane, to look narrowly into the proposed scheme, and see whether it would have the desired effect. Why was it that there was no application from the shipowners in favour of the plan now before the House? That body had evinced no desire to take on themselves any share of the expense of those harbours of refuge. If they felt that those harbours would be the means of saving life to the extent alleged, it was natural to suppose that they would express their willingness to contribute a certain portion of the expense by the payment of passing tolls on ships. The House had never heard that the shipowners would be willing that the lights should be put out rather than that they should pay for them. They had heard them ask to have the lights paid for out of the Consolidated Fund, but they had never heard men say, "Put out the lights rather than call on us to pay for them." That, however, was what had been said in the case of the harbours of refuge. The shipowners had said, "We would rather not have them if they are to impose upon us the payment of those charges." That being so, he hoped the House would pause before they would take upon themselves the scheme of his hon. Friend. If his hon. Friend had brought forward a plan for one single harbour in the first instance, he would have found himself involved in no small amount of difficulty arising from rival schemes, but he had avoided the difficulty by allowing himself a large margin, and making his Resolution apply to several places. The Resolution of his hon. Friend was, no doubt, a taking one, coupled as it was with an appeal to our feelings of humanity. He (Mr. M. Gibson), however, bettered that they would be taking a most unwise course if they adopted it. If the House looked into the matter, they would find that more was being done by lifeboats, rockets, and the mortar apparatus than could possibly be effected by erecting at an enormous expense three harbours of refuge along the line of coast indicated for their erection. During six years there had been saved, by a small expenditure in lifeboats, rockets, and mortar apparatus, no less than 365 lives a year. That had been done at a total cost of some £2,000 a year. If they were to give effect to the whole of those recommendations, he would prefer himself to be guided by a Committee of their own House, to whom the matter bad been referred, rather than by the recommendations of the Commission to whom it was not referred. The Commission never was authorized to give any recommendation whatever as to grants of public money. The Committee of that House had properly given advice as to how the funds should be supplied, and recommended that the shipping interest should constitute three-fourths of the cost of construction, and three-fourths of the cost of maintenance. There was no evidence that they were willing to accept that proposal. For himself, he confessed he preferred to be advised on financial matters by a Committee of the House of Commons rather than by a Royal Commission, which was never authorized to recommend any expenditure of the public money.


said, he wished to remind the right hon. Gentleman, that although it was true the Trading Harbours Bill of last Session, which would, doubtless, in due time bear good fruit, was recommended by the Merchant Shipping Committee, yet that it was but a secondary recommendation, while their chief proposition—the construction of harbours of refuge—had been disputed and over-ruled by the Government. With regard to the arguments of the President of the Board of Trade against the Motion, he was answered and refuted by his own officer, Captain Sullivan; for it was on his evidence and that of Captain Washington, and the facts they adduced, that the calculations and recommendations of the Commission were mainly founded. The right hon. Gentleman had met the statements of gentlemen of professional experience and local knowledge by a plain negative. Of course, it was easy when a statement was made to dispose of it by saying, "I don't believe it;" but the evidence in favour of these harbours of refuge was not to be got rid of in this manner. The right hon. Gentleman had alarmed the House by the financial difficulty which he raised, and which, in the absence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, could not be solved. He (Mr. Liddell) confessed he was not sorry at the absence of that right hon. Gentleman, because he very well knew that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had made up his mind that the proposed expenditure of the public money would be inexpedient. The right hon. Gentleman asked the House whether they were prepared to vote an addition to the taxation of the country for the construction of those harbours. Now, such a contingency was not absolutely necessary. There were two ways of meeting an additional expense—the one was by an increase of taxation, the other by a reduction of our ordinary expenditure. Why should not the latter course be adopted instead of the former? He also thought be had a right to complain that the Government, after resisting the entreaties of the maritime population of this country, and the recommendations of a Committee and a Commission, were sanctioning the outlay of sums the utility of which was exceedingly doubtful. The Government, for example, were going to ask for £90,000 in a few days for Alderuey harbour, which was useless as a harbour of refuge, and which many regarded as an enormous sink of the public money. It was the duty of the Government to protect the lives and property of Her Majesty's subjects, and they took measures to defend our shores against invasion on this principle. But, while this danger was doubtful and problematical, the Government were now asked to protect life and property against dangers which, on the other hand, were as certain of recurrence as the winds of March or the fogs of November. Even in a warlike point of view, it was not very satisfactory to know that for 150 miles of the most rugged portion of our shores there was not a single harbour where a man-of-war could coal in the event of a war. Upon the Government would rest the responsibility of rejecting this Resolution. Depend upon it, the time was coming when the country would take up the question, and insist on the construction of harbours of refuge where they were required. At present, England, which owed so much to her maritime population, was the country of all others in the world that had done the least for them in return.


said, the right hon. Gentleman had asked the House to consider the matter in a business spirit. He (Sir M. Peto) would ask what the House had already done. Who was it that had appointed the Committee and the Commission to report on the subject? On the other hand, what had been done by the Government? What the Government should have done was to endeavour to give effect to the recommendations of the Committee and of the Commission, supported as those recommendations were by the deliberate decisions of the House. The Government ought to have obtained estimates based on those recommendations, and there was no difficulty in defining the cost of works of the kind. The fault of the Government hitherto had been that they had not been sufficiently careful in the first instance in ascertaining the cost. What the Government should do should be to come down to the House and say the cost of these various works would be so much money. Then, with regard to the manner in which the money might be raised, they had had an instance lately with regard to the fortifications, for erecting which £11,000,000 was to be raised by terminable annuities. Let a similar course be pursued with respect to harbours of refuge, and the sum to be raised for a period of thirty years upon terminable annuities would be inconsiderable as compared with the good that would be done; it would be probably about £200,000 a year. A great many questionable Votes had been passed by that House; that for Alderney was an instance; but if that Vote were to be again proposed, he believed hon. Members would scarcely grant a single shilling. He trusted the right hon. Gentleman, having duly weighed the question of harbours of refuge, would come down and ask the House to consider it in a proper spirit.


said, that as several hon. Members had referred to him as having appointed the Commission which sat upon this subject, he felt bound to remind the House that it was not the late Government who originated that Commission, though it devolved upon them to appoint the Members of which it was composed. The appointment of a Commission was recommended by a Committee which sat under the previous Government, and of which the late Mr. Wilson was Chairman, and it was in consequence of their Report that the Commission was appointed. He (Sir J. Pakington) acted on that occasion upon the same principles which influenced him two years ago when the hon. Member for Sunderland brought forward the question, and upon the same principles he was prepared to act that night, because the question was one which involved the commercial interests of this country. He confessed that he had heard the speech of the right hon. Gentleman with considerable disappointment. The right hon. Gentleman, had said that the Government had carried out the recommendations of the Commission. [Mr. MILNER GIBSON: To some extent.] To a very limited extent. The right hon. Gentleman had told them that the Bill enabling certain localities to raise money to improve their harbours had been acted upon, but he did not say what places had availed themselves of it. [Mr. MILNER GIBSON: I mentioned the Tyne.] He begged the right hon. Gentleman's pardon, but he did not hear him specify any particular locality. It had been well said that the question was a national question, and it was not to be expected that limited localities would raise from their own funds a sufficient sum to carry out what the national interests required. Then, the right hon. Gentleman, setting aside the authority and disregarding the Reports of the Commission, had given his own loose and unsupported conjectures as to the cost of carrying out that great national work, stating that the expense would be four times as much as bad been set down in the Report.


I said it would be £8,000,000 instead of £4,000,000.


I speak from recollection, but I believe the real estimate is £2,500,000.


The Commission says £4,000,000.


The public grant, however, would be only £2,500,000. It was only in the latter part of his speech that the right hon. Gentleman endeavoured to grapple with the merits of the question, and he did it by informing the House, that if they had those harbours of refuge tomorrow, they would not save all the lives that might be in danger. They all knew that perfectly well. And then the right hon. Gentleman used the extraordinary argument that they had the lifeboats to trust to. The debate had lasted four hours, and not a single Gentleman, except the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter), had taken the view advocated by the right hon. Gentleman. The hon. Member for Montrose had endeavoured to show that the opinions of the Committee and of the Commission did not agree, but he passed by the important fact that both Committee and Commission concurred in thinking that the national interests would be promoted by the construction of harbours of refuge, and that that opinion had been confirmed by the deliberate decision of the House taken a few years ago. But they were wasting time in deliberating upon what had been decided over and over again. The Royal Commission and the Committee of that House declared their opinion that the establishment of harbours of refuge would tend in a great degree to diminish the loss of life and property experienced every year. Another fact of importance was, that they had only two harbours of refuge in this country, Holy head and Portland; and whenever heavy weather came on, those harbours were filled with hundreds of vessels, which otherwise would have to face the dangers of the open sea during the terrible storms of winter. And what was the reason of the right hon. Gentleman for opposing the present Motion? It was one founded on finance; and having exaggerated the cost, the right hon. Gentleman asked where he was to find the ways and means. He would listen to any fair argument on the question, but one argument to which he would not listen as coming from the present Government was that of finance; for in 1860 they knew what was the Report of the Commission, and what was the opinion of the; House of Commons on the subject, and yet; in 1861, in order to court popularity, they recklessly wasted the resources of the country, which now might have been applied to the useful object contemplated by the present Motion. Therefore he could not hesitate to repeat the vote he bad given on a former occasion, and should support the Motion, as it involved the well-being of great commercial interests, and was well worthy of the consideration of the House.


said, it was in vain to attempt to represent the question as one in which the Government alone were interested, or to think that the matter could be decided by a mere argu-mentum ad hominem. It necessarily involved a large expenditure of money, which the Government could only provide by additional taxation, or by proposing a loan. Such measures, if adopted, must be carried by the consent of the House, and the question was one ultimately for the responsibility and decision of the House of Commons. Night after night proposals were brought forward by lion. Gentlemen, some of a very attractive character, and some of a very philanthropic nature, but necessitating a large outlay of public money. Only last week a comprehensive plan was suggested for building offices; and no doubt they would all be gratified if they could see a pile of public buildings erected at an expense of £2,000,000 or £3,000,000. But the House, as he thought, very wisely rejected that proposal. Again, a Motion was made on the previous night, the object of which was, that there should be a grant of money or a loan for the relief of distress in Ireland. There was also a notice on the books for a Motion to consider some mode of meeting the distress in the cotton districts; and that night they had, not proceeding from the Government, but pressed upon them, a Motion for a large expenditure of money for constructing harbours of refuge. His right hon. Friend, who felt it his duty to resist the Motion, admitted that if he could have what he wished, he would have harbours of refuge; but, not only what was desirable, but what was practicable, must be regarded. The estimate of cost which his right hon. Friend had given, according to the calculation of the Commissioners, was perfectly correct, though impugned by the hon. Member for Sunderland and the right hon. Baronet. The total charge was stated at £4,000,000, and the amount to be obtained from local sources was put at £1,600,000; but his right hon. Friend had shown that the supposition that £1,600,000 was to be obtained from local sources was perfectly illusory. Nobody could suppose that Hartlepool would provide £500,000 or the Tyne £750,000, though that Was the extravagant and absurd supposition of the Commissioners. His right hon. Friend had shown, that if these works were undertaken, £4,000,000 would, according to the calculation of the Commissioners, have to be spent, and that the whole of that sum must necessarily come out of the Consolidated Fund. That was the simple and undeniable statement of the case, and he believed, with his right hon. Friend, that the Estimate, like most engineering Estimates, would be exceeded, and that probably the works would not be executed for £6,000,000. Was the House prepared to assent to such a proposition? or, if £4,000,000 only were required, would the House assent to the imposition of additional taxes, or sanction a loan for the purpose of raising the money? That was the sole question which the House had to decide. It was not a mere question of the saving of life, or what might be wished to be done if the money was ready in the Exchequer, but whether the House was prepared to provide the ways and means to meet that large expenditure. It appeared to him that the House would take a most rash and precipitate step, one quite inconsistent with the present financial position of the country, if it affirmed the Motion. Reference had been made to Alderney harbour, and it was said that a large sum of money had been wasted on that harbour of refuge. He was not personally responsible for originating that harbour, which, it was well known, was advocated by the authority of men of illustrious names, and had been repeatedly considered in that House. It was, however, a mistake to represent it as merely a harbour of refuge; for, undoubtedly, its main object was connected with the defence of the country.


said, that one of the difficulties connected with the matter arose from local rivalries, and the question was, how far different localities could be made to meet the Government half-way in reference to the necessary expenditure. The right hon. Baronet had referred to another difficulty, the expense of the works at Alderney. A more wasteful expenditure, he believed, had never been incurred in the annals of any other country. It was no harbour of refuge at all, for no captain would ever think of running for it, except he had the finest possible weather and everything in his favour to execute so dangerous an operation; and although the right hon. Baronet called it a work of defence, he would undertake to show that, so far as defence was concerned, the most sensible thing they could do with it would be to blow it up on the following morning. His hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland had referred to the pledges which successive Governments had given on this subject, none of which had been redeemed; but when did any Government redeem a pledge unless forced to do it by the House of Commons? What was the use of abstract Motions? They amounted, in fact, to nothing at all. His hon. Friend had given them an able and touching account of the losses which the absence of proper harbours annually entailed; but considerations of mere humanity had long ago ceased to be of any weight in that House—they had all been sacrificed to what were called "great political and financial principles." Confining himself, then, to the financial question, he would remind the hon. Gentleman that since he had last brought the subject forward, the whole position of the question had changed. They had now increasing demands with decreasing means; and what had led to that state of things? A large sum of money—£1,200,000— easily and securely raised to the revenue, had been thrown overboard without rhyme or reason in the abolition of the paper duty; and, as he found the name of his hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland among the majority on that occasion, he could not help asking with what face could he now come forward and seek the adoption of a scheme he thought desirable after having aided and abetted in abstracting that large sum from the Treasury? They were contending as to the comparative merits of forts and plated ships for coast defence, because they could not afford both; but if they could not afford what was essential to the protection of the country, how could they afford what was merely recommended by motives of humanity? Without agreeing with all the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, there was undoubtedly a great deal of truth in what he said. The question was, should they raise the money necessary for the construction of these harbours of refuge by a fresh imposition of taxes? Now, if there was a man in England more than another who was responsible for that extravagant piece of financial folly, the remission of the paper duty, it was the right hon. Gentleman. That was the price they had to pay for his continuing to sit on that; bench, and, with the sincerest admiration; for his talents, that sacrifice of revenue was a full price to pay. The real fact was the House was at cross purposes— one day hon. Members voted away large sums from the financial resources of the country, and the next they came clamouring for objects, the cost of which might have been defrayed from the money wasted. On that ground his hon. Friend had put himself out of Court. He agreed in his object; but after the line he had taken on the paper duty he recommended him to withdraw his Motion, for he was sure he would not carry it if he went to a division.


said, he could not see that the question of the paper duty was at all relevant to that under discussion. He denied that the country was less able to make harbours of refuge because the paper duty had been removed. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman opposite thought a tax of 5s. per quarter on foreign corn would be a good means of raising money for the construction of harbours of refuge. He, at least, did not think so. They were all the better able to make harbours of refuge because there was no duty on foreign corn and no paper duty. Harbours of refuge were not all that was wanted. He thought shipowners ought to be more careful that the vessels they sent to sea were seaworthy. The insurance companies had officers, no doubt, who examined them, but the Government did not interfere except in the case of passenger vessels. He thought the Government should interfere to see that even colliers were seaworthy. If the object of the Motion, which he approved of, were good, it ought to be affirmed, leaving the question of ways and means to future arrangement. The money might easily be raised by means of terminable annuities. At least, he thought the Government would find it their unavoidable duty to submit to a vote of the House, if it should be adverse to them.


said, he could not but express his deep regret at the language used by several hon. Members as to the mode in which money was to be obtained for purposes like that contemplated by this Motion. He owned that he had listened with alarm at the complacency with which hon. Gentlemen talked of raising loans in time of peace. That was, no doubt, a very inviting and pleasant expedient, but the moment they entered upon such a downhill course for any object, however valuable, they would find it no easy matter to halt in it. Every Member or body of Members who were anxious for the carrying out of any particular project would suggest that the financial difficulty in its way could readily be got over by borrowing, and leaving their successors to pay. Recollecting as lie did the early transactions connected with Alderney and other harbours of refuge, he thought that those precedents, instead of being examples for present imitation, should serve as warnings as to what the House ought now to shun. He had had to oppose the first steps towards the adoption of those schemes. They were not pressed upon Parliament by the Government of the day; on the contrary, the Government had to give way to the House on the subject, and consent to the appointment of a Committee to inquire into it. Sir Robert Peel also appointed a Commission, embracing some of the ablest civil and military engineers, for the same purpose; but the cost of the works they recommended so much exceeded the original estimate, and their utility, when completed, was so questionable in the opinion of many Members, that nothing now provoked more derisive cheers than the bare mention of Alderney and the other existing harbours of refuge. Before the House, therefore, forced on the Government a further expenditure of the same kind, it surely ought to reflect whether the proposed harbours of refuge might not hereafter become as great monuments of folly as they said previous ones were. He was surprised at the somewhat irrelevant allusion made by the right hon. Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington) to the repeal of the paper duties. Why, the Government of which that right hon. Gentleman himself had formed a part assented to that vote, and now, at no very distant day, he was found bitterly condemning it.


said, that though he would admit that the question of the paper duty was somewhat irrelevant to that before the House, he could not allow the taunt directed at his right hon. Friend the Member for Droitwich to pass unnoticed. To say that his right hon. Friend had no right to animadvert upon what he regarded as a sacrifice of revenue made at a time when the country could not hear it, merely because some years before the Government of which he was a Member assented to the proposition that that sacrifice should be made when the national finances could afford it, was a most unfair and illogical inference. Having listened attentively to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, he thought it would be exceedingly rash at that moment to pass the Resolution. Much as might be said in favour of the hon. Member for Sunderland's views, the country, whether through the fault of the Government or of the House, was not in a position to incur a very large expenditure; and he must confess it terrified him to hear the way in which a recourse to loans for such a purpose had been referred to.


said, that as hon. Members on both sides were agreed in regard to the desirability of having harbours of refuge, the only question was how to provide the means. He thought he could complain with justice of the want of clearness in the statements of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade and the Secretary of State for War on the score of expense. The unconditional outlay which the Commissioners had recommended amounted to £1,340,000, and was to be confined to Filey, St. Ives, Water-ford, Carlingford, and Padstow; while the sum that they suggested should be raised conditionally was £1,025,000, provided a sum of £1,625,000 was raised from local sources. The total sum amounted to £2,365,000, but all the House was then asked to vote unconditionally was £1,340,000. If the recommendations of the Commissioners were neglected, he estimated that the loss to the commerce of the country in the next ten years would be £20,000,000. If the interest on a loan secured by terminable annuities was £100,000, that would amount in ten years to £1,000,000. Again, if they assumed that one-sixth of the property would be saved by the construction of harbours of refuge which would otherwise be lost, that would amount to £3,500,000. Let them deduct from that the £1,000,000 paid for interest, and there would be a balance of two and a half millions to the public credit. On the ground he had mentioned he appealed to the House with confidence to confirm its own Resolution, feeling assured that the harbours of refuge would be a gain, and not a loss, to the country.


explained, that the works sanctioned by the Commissioners were estimated to cost £4,000,000, and his argument was, that their assumption that a portion of the £4,000,000 would be obtained from local sources would prove illusory.


contended, that, on the contrary, if the local amounts were not forthcoming, then the only sum that Government could be asked for would be £1,340,000, a sum which, as he had explained, it would be most prudent and economical to expend.

Motion made, and Question put, That, in the opinion of this House, it is the duty of Her Majesty's Government to adopt measures to carry into effect the Resolution of the House, of the 19th day of June 1860, in regard to Harbours of Refuge.

The House divided:—Ayes 77; Noes 115: Majority 38.