§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clause 16 (Entry of deck cargo in official log.)
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
rose for the purpose of moving the postponement of this clause for the following reasons:—In the course of the discussion that occurred the other night on Clause 15, which related to the same subject as the present clause, that of deck cargoes, much misapprehension appeared to have prevailed among the Members of the Committee as to the purport and object of that clause, and, indeed, as to the general intention and scope of the Bill with regard to the question of deck cargoes and of the lading of vessels. He wished, therefore, before the Committee proceeded, as he hoped they would speedily do, to the consideration of the remaining clauses of the Bill, that they would carefully and candidly consider what the exact scope and intention of the Bill on these points was, and that they would thoroughly understand what the measure proposed to do and what it did not propose to do. He was also desirous of taking that opportunity of giving Notice of his intention to move, on behalf of the Government, the insertion of an additional clause in the Bill. It was necessary, in the first place, to point out that those who imagined that the two clauses having regard to deck loads and to grain cargoes were the only ones in the Bill which dealt with the dangerous stowage of cargoes altogether omitted to consider what the character of the legislation which the Government proposed was. The Government, after very mature consideration of the subject, had come to the conclusion that the proper, and, indeed, the only effective, way of dealing with this question of safe stowage was to throw as much as possible the responsibility upon the shipowner, who, after all, was the only person who could secure with certainty the safe loading of his ship. If that were the case, then what they had to look at was not an isolated clause, regulating the stowage of the cargo, but the general provisions and character of the Bill. Under the provisions of the 1780 Bill the Government took power by their surveyors to stop British ships which were improperly or excessively laden, and this covered the question of our ships going out from this country; and without any special provisions as to grain or deck cargoes, or anything else, he believed that it would be in the power, and that it would be the duty, of the officers of the Government to stop and detain any ship which on any account was improperly laden. There was also machinery provided for an appeal in cases where that power might be exercised improperly. But, in addition to the provisions in this Bill which rendered it highly penal for persons to send unseaworthy ships to sea, there was another measure before the House relating to marine insurances, which would throw upon the owners of the ship very great responsibility if they should send ships to sea in an unseaworthy state or improperly laden, and thus would render it their interest as well as their duty to be very careful in the matter, or their insurance would be void. Taking these two measures together, therefore, he thought that ample provision had been made, as regarded outward-bound British ships, for preventing the evils which had been complained of. There remained, however, to be dealt with two other classes of ships—that of foreign ships outward bound, and that of foreign ships, and in some instances British ships, inward bound. With regard to British ships carrying grain cargoes coming inwards, the Government had made certain definite propositions, which the Committee had approved, and they had now to consider the question of deck loads. The latter question was a more difficult subject and required that any provisions relating to it should be expressed in the most precise and distinct terms; indeed, so difficult had this subject appeared to the House last year that it was altogether passed over in legislating on the general question. The Government, however, had endeavoured in the present Bill to deal with the matter, although he confessed that they had done so in a limited and, as had been truly said, in an imperfect manner. They had, however, endeavoured to deal with the subject, having careful regard to all the difficulties which it involved. The danger arising from deck loads was principally confined to cargoes of one 1781 particular kind, that of timber, which undoubtedly at certain seasons of the year, and on certain voyages, did involve much risk to those engaged in navigating the vessel carrying it, and the Government had to consider whether anything could be done by way of legislation to prevent life being lost through such cargoes being carried. Several hon. Members had assisted the Government in the matter by making suggestions and by proposing clauses. In the few words which he said the other night he took notice of the clause introduced by the hon. Member for Poole (Mr. Evelyn Ashley), which he then said would no doubt be discussed with his customary ability when it was brought on. It was, however, a clause of a character which could not be proposed by a private Member, for it would impose a Customs duty. There were also other objections to the clause which would have rendered it impossible for the Government to accept it as it stood, although it contained the germ of the proposal which the Government intended to adopt. He now begged to give Notice that it was the intention of the Government to propose an additional clause with regard to deck loads, and to state that such clause would apply, not only to British, but also to foreign ships. It was, however, important that any provisions affecting foreign ships should be most precise in their terms; because, although it was possible in dealing with British ships to allow a certain latitude to the Custom House and to the Board of Trade officers in exercising supervision over them, when they came to deal with foreign ships the only chance they had of being able to deal unobjectionably with them was to deal with them upon such certain proposals that the foreign shipowner should know distinctly what was prohibited and what would be the position in which he would stand when he brought his ship into one of the ports of this country. It was a serious and difficult matter how to deal with foreign ships, in consequence of the questions that might arise in connection with International Law from British shipping going into the ports of all the nations in the world, and that the same rules and laws this country might lay down for the treatment of foreign ships in our ports might be applied to British ships in foreign 1782 ports. They must, however, run the risk of having to contend with these difficulties, and not be deterred from attempting to deal satisfactorily with this important subject from fear of the lion that was always in their path. At the same time it was necessary that they should move with care and caution in a matter which vitally affected the shipping interest all over the world. The real difficulty arose in the carriage of timber across the Atlantic in the winter months coming from various ports in North America and from our own possessions. The real safeguard for the protection of life and shipping was to be found at the port of departure, where the most effective means could be taken to prevent overloading. The Dominion of Canada had studied this subject with very great care and attention, and had passed a law which was admitted to be a good and effective law on this subject. He thought it was generally admitted that timber cargoes came straight, on the whole, from Canadian ports. What Her Majesty's Government proposed, therefore, on the question was to adopt that provision of Canadian law and make it the basis of our own legislation by setting forth the substance of that law with regard to the loading of timber, and providing that any ship, British or foreign, coming into our ports with timber on deck during certain months of the year across the Atlantic should be subject to a penalty, unless that timber was laden in accordance with that law. The substance of the clause which it was intended to propose on the subject was that in the case of any ship, British or foreign, arriving at any port of the United Kingdom, and which had sailed from North America between the 1st of October and the 16th of March in any year laden with timber to a height exceeding 3 feet above the deck, the master or owner should be liable to a penalty not exceeding £5 for every 100 cubic feet of timber so carried; the whole penalty, however, not to exceed £100. The penalty might be recovered on summary conviction. There would be a certain exemption to meet the case of ships peculiarly circumstanced by damage which they might have sustained or otherwise. He thought it would be convenient to postpone the deck-load clause, No. 16, until the Committee reached the end of the Bill, when they 1783 could take up also the clause which would adopt the provision of the Canadian law with reference to cargoes of timber. He was, however, unable to place before the Committee the exact words of the clause it was intended to introduce with regard to foreign ships going outwards; but the Government thought they did see their way to make a proposal that would substantially meet the objections that were urged on a former occasion. But as it was a matter of exceeding delicacy and difficulty from its having a considerable bearing on our Treaty relations and of International Law, he would not then mention the terms of the clause which the Government had under consideration upon the subject.
§ Moved to postpone Clause 16.—(Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer.)
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, he had heard with satisfaction that, in spite of the solemn assurance given the other night by the President of the Board of Trade, enforced by the Attorney General, after all, the Government had found it possible to deal with this question of deck loading, and by a clause almost precisely in the same terms of that which was proposed two days ago by the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Stevenson). It was the simplest course, and the one which he had thought would have been obvious to the Government before now as the proper one, to adopt the Canadian law on the subject. There was another matter, however, on which he must ask for some further information from the Government. He had not quite gathered what was the view they had taken of the question of dealing with foreign ships generally. He should like to know whether the Government had made up their mind definitely on the policy of dealing with foreign ships on the same footing as British ships, because he ventured to say that the whole question whether this Bill was to be efficient or not depended on the decision upon that point. If they were not going to deal with foreign ships as they dealt with British ships they would drive the whole trade out of British ships into foreign ships. He had had sufficient communication with shipowners in the House to know that they would be the first to support stringent regulations in these matters, if they 1784 were assured that foreign ships were to be dealt with on the same terms, and it was the feeling that they were to be handicapped in the race which made them timid in respect of this legislation. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had said that the Government had only partly made up their minds on that subject. How they could think of introducing and passing such a Bill without having settled that which must be the capital and fundamental portion of the measure he could not understand. What had they been doing for the last 12 months that they were still considering this question, upon which everybody must see that the whole importance of the measure depended? He was astonished that the Papers which were delivered to the House yesterday with reference to this Bill had not been presented before. Those Papers showed that there was open war between the Board of Trade and the Colonial Office with reference to the vital principles and framework of this Bill. A despatch of the Minister of Marine and Fisheries of Canada expressed an opinion—he might almost say a determination—wholly inconsistent with what had been hitherto done in the Bill and what the Government proposed to do. This despatch referred to the discontent which tad been caused among Canadian ship owners by recent Imperial legislation upon merchant shipping, which included Canadian ships. What Canada required was that Canadianships, while competing in the carrying trade, should be placed in as favourable a position in British ports as foreign ships; Canadian vessels carrying grain cargoes were now liable to penalties from which foreign vessels were free, and Canadian ship owners asked that in any future Imperial legislation either Canadian ships should be treated as foreign ships, so as to be free from such restrictions, or that foreign vessels, when in ports of the United Kingdom, should be subject to the same restrictions and penalties as British ships. The latter principle had been in full operation for some time in Canada in respect of vessels loaded with grain or carrying deck cargoes. The Canadians argued that, Tinder existing legislation, a discriminating difference was made in favour of foreign ships as against Canadian ships; and they mentioned cases in which merchants had 1785 chosen foreign in preference to British or Colonial ships for freight, on account of the certainty that no detention would arise through alleged unseaworthiness or overloading. The preference thus given to foreign ships was as unsatisfactory to Canadian as it was to British shipowners; and the Minister of Marine said that some solution of this difficulty must be found before Canadian ship owners would cease from agitation. This despatch was sent on February 8, and Lord Carnarvon forwarded it to the Board of Trade on February 26, calling attention to the very important question raised by the Canadian Government, and stating that it might become a matter for serious consideration how far Her Majesty's Government might be in a position to maintain the principle of subjecting Canadian vessels to restrictive measures from which the United States and others were to be exempted by the 15th clause. What Canada asked, in effect, was this—"Either exempt us from your Merchant Shipping Bill, or place all foreign ships on the same footing as British vessels. We shall be satisfied with either course." On the 1st of March, the Board of Trade, that great non possumus Department, replied in a letter signed "Edward Stanhope," showing how impossible it was to exempt Canada from the Bill, and pointing out that to do so would be practically to hoist a separate flag for Canada, and would be a first and disastrous step towards separating the interests of Canada from those of Great Britian. He quite agreed with this reasoning, and thought, with the Board of Trade, that Canadian shipowners must stand or fall with British shipowners in this matter. The Colonial Office returned to the charge in a letter to the Board of Trade of the 4th of March, saying that there was another aspect of the case which the Canadian Government appeared to have more directly in view—namely, that they would assent to whatever restrictions the Imperial Parliament might think fit to place on shipping in English ports, but they would ask that the same restrictions should be imposed on French and German vessels lying in an English dock as were placed on English and Canadian ships. A more just and reasonable proposal never was made, and it seemed that Lord Carnarvon entirely approved of it. The 1786 Board of Trade took 12 days to consider this letter, and then wrote a long reply rejecting the second alternative of the Dominion Government. When the hon. Member for Tynemouth (Mr. T. E. Smith) proposed an Amendment to this very effect, demanding on behalf of the British shipowners the same thing which the Canadian shipowners had demanded, the President of the Board of Trade got up and quoted this letter against the Amendment and defeated the proposal. They had received no intimation, however, that this was a matter in which the Government were not vitally at issue with the Canadian Government. On March 22, after many clauses of this Bill had been passed, the Board of Trade received another letter from the Colonial Office, enclosing a Resolution proposed in the Dominion Legislature. The Resolution was as follows:—Mr. Palmer.—On Monday next, in Committee of the whole House, to move, 'That, in the opinion of this House, the right of legislation to affect Canadian ships and the rights and liabilities of the owners thereof, belongs exclusively to the Parliament of Canada, and that any legislation on these subjects by the Imperial Parliament, except so far as it may equally affect Canadian ships with the ships of all other countries in the ports of Great Britain, would be inconsistent with the exclusive rights of the Canadian Parliament.Therefore, the position the Canadian Parliament took was this. They said—"We are perfectly willing that you should legislate for us and for the rest of the world. Make your own rules; but if you claim to legislate for us as British subjects, we say we have a Parliament of our own; and you must not interfere with us as British subjects, apart from legislation affecting foreign subjects also." On the 24th of March the Colonial Office, adhering to their text, as the Board of Trade did to theirs, said—"We cannot exempt Canadian ships, and we cannot include foreign ships." On the very last day on which the Government and the Board of Trade invited the House of Commons to reject the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth, there came enclosed to the Foreign Office the following extract from the Votes and Proceedings of the Dominion House of Parliament—Resolved, as the opinion of this House, that any legislation affecting British merchant shipping which may be adopted by the Imperial 1787 Parliament should not include in its operation Canadian tonnage, or if such legislation were applied to Canadian tonnage it should also include foreign tonnage, in order that no advantage should be given to the latter over the former by the effect of such Imperial legislation.The debate to which this Resolution gave rise was adjourned on the Motion of Mr. Mackenzie. What answer, he should like to know, had been sent to Lord Dufferin, who had forwarded this extract? He thought the Committee ought to know what was the position of Canada on this matter; and what were the relations of the Imperial Government with the Government of Canada in respect to it. The Government had known for months that Canada took this view of the matter, and yet they were now going to postpone until their Report was received their determination on the vital question as to whether foreign vessels should be placed on the same footing as British shipping. They had had 12 months to consult Canada on the subject and to communicate with foreign States. He wished further to ask whether the Board of Trade had consulted the Foreign Office on the subject? They ought to have decided at first to have treated foreign ships on the same footing as English ships. Canada had done so, and no harm had come of it. The success of any Bill of such magnitude as the present must depend on its promoters having a clear view of the principles on which they intended to act. The Government talked of "retaliation," and the Board of Trade were frightened, as they always were; but he supposed Canada had a different kind of Board of Trade. The policy of Canada was a complete answer to this bugbear of retaliation, because no one had retaliated upon her for what she had done. The Government could not carry out anything, unless they had a little more boldness and pluck than they had shown on this measure. Relying on the justice of their policy, they might be sure they would only set an example which other nations would carefully follow. They had already legislated in the case of foreign emigrant ships. Every hour expended on this Bill without dealing with foreign ships was simply wasted, because there was no clause of any importance which, if it were to be applied to foreign ships, would not require to be entirely re- 1788 modelled. The Government must, he ventured to say, change very much the details of this Bill if they wished to apply it to foreign ships, and it was absurd of the right hon. Gentleman opposite to suppose that it could have passed through Committee on Monday, seeing that the Government had not made up their minds on some of its most vital principles. The best thing, in his opinion, which they could do would be to re-commit the Bill to-morrow with the view of making its provisions applicable to foreign as well as to English vessels. The moment the shipping interest felt that they had been placed on a fair footing with their foreign competitors they would be found to be the strongest supporters of the measure. We had at the present moment the command of the carrying trade of the world to an extent which we had not after the battle of Trafalgar, and that House, while it was anxious to protect the seamen, had no wish to ruin the shipowner. But if restrictions were imposed on English ships, from which foreign vessels were relieved, the result would be that the English trade would be destroyed, unduly handicapped as it would be in the race. He was anxious, therefore, to hear from the Government what was the course they proposed to take in the matter, and whether they were prepared to yield to the arguments of Lord Carnarvon.
§ SIR CHARLES ADDERLEY
retorted upon the hon. and learned Gentleman that every moment spent in arguments to induce the Government to make up their minds upon the two great questions of dealing with deck cargoes and foreign vessels, after it had been announced to the House that they had done so, was positive waste of time. Some Gentlemen were anxious to promote objects in view, and there were others who were more anxious to make speeches about them. It was clear that the hon. and learned Gentleman had prepared a speech, which was anticipated by the announcement made by the Government of their intentions; but he was nevertheless not to be deprived of the speech, though it had become absolutely unnecessary. The hon. and learned Member had said the whole Bill would have to be re-modelled if foreign ships were dealt with. He begged leave to tell the hon. and learned Member that not one single word in it 1789 need be altered in consequence of the introduction of the two clauses, which his right hon. Friend near him had promised an hour ago to bring forward, and which would only cause a further extension and application of the Bill. The hon. and learned Member had also alleged that the Government, in legislating on this subject, without dealing with foreign ships, had shown the greatest possible incapacity. The fact was that the Bill now before the Committee had been drawn exactly on the principles of measures drawn by the hon. and learned Member's own Colleagues—measures which, for three successive years, up to the advent of the present Government, they had endeavoured in vain to pass through Parliament. The difference in incapacity was that they had failed in the same undertaking. The hon. and learned Member had complained that he had been kept in the dark as to the intentions of the Government on this question. The reason why the hon. and learned Member had been kept in the dark was that last Monday was the first time he had taken any part in these debates, or begun to express any opinion on this subject. On that occasion he certainly did make a speech five times over, and almost in the same words, and after all that speech was based on a mistake as to the intention of the 15th clause, which it was meant to criticize. The hon. and learned Member took it for granted, by reference to the marginal heading simply, that that clause was prohibitory of deck loading, and his speeches proceeded on that assumption, notwithstanding that he (Sir Charles Adderley) repeatedly assured him that the clause had really no such intention. The Amendment which the hon. and learned Gentleman now undertook to move would have made absolute nonsense of this clause. He had again omitted to read the clause in hand, and as he would have amended it, it would have enacted that foreigners should report to our Customs, and in Colonies to Colonial authorities, and in foreign ports to English Consuls. One word with regard to the Correspondence quoted by the hon. and learned Member, and on which he had based a great attack upon the Government. The hon. and learned Member alleged that there was an internecine controversy between two De- 1790 partments on this question. There was, in fact, no such controversy. Following the usual practice, the Colonial Office, on receiving communications from Canada about this Bill, had forwarded them to the Board of Trade, as they related to matters which came within the province of the Department, and on which their opinion was desired. The Correspondence had been produced as soon as ever it was sufficiently concluded to admit of its being presented to the House; and he had omitted no opportunity of stating to the House that such a Correspondence was going on, and that the Canadian Government resented our legislative over-interference with private mercantile shipping interests involving theirs. It was pointed out by the Canadian Legislature that there were only two ways out of the difficulty; either that the Canadians should be treated as foreigners, or that foreigners should be treated as British. The answers from the Board of Trade were, he considered, very good answers. On the first point, the hon. and learned Member had himself admitted that the letter of the Board of Trade was unanswerable; as to the second, he had not ventured to cope with the argument, and he would find it difficult to do so. It was perfectly true that the Government, when they first drafted the Bill, did not see their way to deal with foreign ships; but when the hon. and learned Member for Taunton (Sir Henry James) raised the question, they had declared their intention of adopting the evident wish of the Committee, so far as they thought they fairly and safely could. He could not bind the Government yet as to the exact form which this proposed Amendment would take; but the Committee ought, he thought, to be satisfied with the assurance given on the subject by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The interests of our shipowners demanded that something should be done, but it would be a fatal step to do anything of the sort in a hasty or inconsiderate way. If definite proposals and mutually satisfactory arrangements could be carried out by Treaties, that would be the best way, and that he himself suggested to adopt from the proposal of the hon. Member for Liverpool at the outset. But if we were at once to assert a general jurisdiction it would not do to adopt an arbitrary, indefinite, interference with foreign ship- 1791 ping, or to rush into any careless and loose legislation. He implored the Committee not to proceed with a discussion which had now no point whatever, and which would be a mere waste of time. The great speech was happily delivered, and he hoped the Committee would proceed to business.
§ MR. PLIMSOLL
said, he did not consider the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Oxford was a waste of time. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had already stated the decision of the Government on the point at issue. What was that decision? According to it, the clause was the most impudent forgery ever offered to the House. ["Oh!"] It was a perfect counterfeit. What was wanted was to stop the practice of deck loading. The Canadian Government had already stopped it from Canada; but all that the clause proposed was, that they should stop it from Canada, where it was already stopped. No reference was made to any other places, such as Sweden, America, or the Baltic. The clause was an insult to the intelligence of the House.
I think the hon. Member is expressing his views in a manner not customary in this House.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
explained that what he had said had been misunderstood. The proposed clause would not be confined to Canada, but would apply to the whole of the Atlantic.
§ MR. PLIMSOLL
said, no doubt; but there the principle was operating already in a satisfactory manner. Why did it not apply to the Baltic and to Sweden? He would rather go to the shipowners than to the Board of Trade for justice in this matter. The proposal seemed to give something when it gave nothing whatever. When the President of the Board of Trade taunted the Members of the late Goverement with having proposed Bills similar to this Bill, he seemed to forget that the Bills were all taken from the same Mint. They would never get a good coin from that Mint. Both parties went to the permanent officials of the Board of Trade, and the Bills produced, of course, bore a family likeness. He should like to tell the 1792 Committee the result of the Canadian legislation in 1873. In that year the British ships posted as missing numbered 32, with a loss of 504 lives. In 1874, when the Act came into operation, 16 ships were missing, with a loss of 228 lives, and in 1875, when England dealt with the matter partially, the ships missing were reduced to 7, and the number of lives lost was reduced to 123. These were grain-laden British ships, and he had the satisfaction of stating that it was his firm conviction that they might wipe out this source of loss altogether by proper legislation. Canada had done so.
§ LORD ESLINGTON
said, when they were talking about Canadian legislation and thought of following it they ought to be careful in describing it. The hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Sir William Harcourt) had fallen into an error about the Canadian Act. The provisions of that Act, now in full operation, regulating the timber cargoes to this country did not apply to the timber trade to the South American ports. And why? Because they saw that there would be a very severe competition, if they did so, between the American ships trading from Boston and New York with Cuba, Demerara, and the River Plate, and that the effect of imposing those restrictions upon their own ships would lead to the handing over of the trade to their foreign competitors.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
contended that the Canadian Act did not apply merely between Canada and this country, but between Canada and Europe generally. He earnestly hoped the Government would reconsider the propriety of dealing with the Baltic as well as the Atlantic trade; for, unless it could clearly be shown that the Baltic trade was free from danger, the clause proposed would place the Atlantic trade at a most unfair disadvantage. He did not share the opinion of the President of the Board of Trade that no further information on the subject was necessary. The Committee had not yet been told the words of the clause in which foreign shipping was to be dealt with; and until they were enlightened on that most important point it would be impossible for them to discuss the details of the Bill satisfacto- 1793 rily. As it was, they had been very improperly kept in the dark with regard to the Canadian Correspondence.
§ MR. RITCHIE
also hoped that the clause would apply to the Baltic. Unless that were done the Committee would have very little satisfaction in their work. While not agreeing with all that had been said as to the conduct of this Bill, he thought the Canadian Correspondence ought to have been in the hands of Members sooner, and that for the great waste of time that had taken place in discussing the Bill no one was more responsible than the Government themselves. They had committed the mistake of introducing the Bill before they had made up their minds on the subject. Every concession had been wrung out of them bit by bit, and not a little of the blame which the Ministry had incurred was due to the permanent officials of the Board of Trade, who refused to look at things in the light of common sense.
§ MR. NORWOOD
said, the shipping interest had serious grounds for complaint as to the delay which had taken place in pushing forward the Bill, in consequence of the indecision of the Government. He thought it very desirable that the Committee should know the exact terms of the clause which the Government proposed to apply to foreign ships. For his own part, he felt that this was a subject which ought to be approached with considerable caution. He recollected that in 1871 and 1873 that question was not taken up by the Government of the day because they felt the extreme difficulty of it. He did not say that the time had not now come for dealing with it; but both sides of the House ought to discuss it with great caution and a large sense of responsibility. He would remind his right hon. Friend below him (Mr. Forster), that he was a Member of a former Cabinet which introduced a Bill drawn on the very lines adopted in the present measure. As to interference with foreign ships, he maintained that our interference ought to be confined to foreign ships in our ports and loading in our ports. We might legitimately adopt certain municipal regulations for the safety of life and property, and enforce them against all vessels using our ports for the purpose of loading; but he did not go so far as to lay down the doctrine that we were to interfere with the way 1794 in which cargoes were brought into British ports by foreign vessels. That would be attempting what they had no right to do, and it would be dangerous. If we did that, we might find by-and-by that British ships which had cleared out of our ports under our regulations might not be admitted into foreign ports, because some petty States wished to annoy us, or said they took a different view of these matters from ours. He, therefore, protested against any hasty decision as to interference with cargoes brought into this country in foreign bottoms. He did not think the Canadians themselves—who had been so often alluded to—took the extreme ground which some hon. Gentlemen held on that point, for their regulations only applied to cargoes loaded outwards. On the other hand, it was a crying injustice that a foreign vessel loading in our docks and competing with a British vessel lying side by side with her might load as she pleased, whereas the British vessel must be subject to those very severe regulations. That debate had been an instructive one, and he hoped it would result in a clear and definite policy on the part of the Government. Such a policy from them the shipowners of this country had a right to demand, because the Bill passed last year was only a stopgap Bill; and the Prime Minister had promised that a well-considered and comprehensive measure, which the Government had since had eight months to prepare, would be brought in this Session.
MR. MAC IVER
said, he would be sorry if the views just expressed by the hon. Member for Hull (Mr. Norwood) were accepted by the Committee as those of the general body of ship owners of this country. They were all naturally influenced by their associations, and the hon. Member for Hull was, no doubt, in friendly association with foreign houses which imported timber from the Baltic. He (Mr. Mac Iver) was in similar friendly association with British houses which imported timber from British North America, and saw the other side of the picture; and he confessed that the course of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the President of the Board of Trade left these important questions in a most unsatisfactory state. As far as the Chancellor of the Exchequer was concerned he ap- 1795 peared to be in favour of the proposal of the hon. Member for Poole (Mr. Evelyn Ashley) so far as it could be practically carried out, but he (Mr. Mac Iver) could not understand the traditional policy of the Board of Trade. The President, no doubt, meant well; and every blunder he had been led into was by copying the mistakes of his Predecessors. Instead of fairly facing the difficulties and dealing with them, the Government were seeking a way which had not "a Lion in the path." There was no such way; but if they would cast aside the old policy of the Board of Trade, and come forward with a reasonable scheme for dealing equally with British ships and their foreign competitors in British ports, they would have the support of shipowners in all the great seaports in regard to any conditions necessary to attain the objects of the Bill.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, the Committee ought to have the clause before them as soon as possible. It would be impossible to discuss the question fully until they had the clause on the Paper. He thought the President of the Board of Trade had hardly dealt fairly with the House in not laying the important Correspondence from Canada sooner upon the Table. He joined with the hon. Member for Hull (Mr. Norwood) in urging prudence on the Government in dealing with foreign ships. It might be strictly within the limits of International Law to place foreign vessels loading in our ports under the same regulations as British vessels; but it would be very difficult to apply penalties to foreign ships coming to our ports for loading in foreign ports contrary to our regulations. He did not think that such a course could be sustained according to the law and practice of nations. He could not join in the censure passed upon the Board of Trade for their reluctance to apply our regulations to foreign vessels. The Board of Trade had for many years past impressed upon foreign Governments the policy of not applying their regulations to British ships, and had maintained that every country should deal with its own ships, and it was very questionable whether it was wise in the interest of our commerce to change their policy and to apply our regulations to foreign vessels. In doing so we should no longer be able to protest against foreign countries ap- 1796 plying their regulations to our ships. The Government would have acted wisely in avoiding the question, which was one, not of saving life, but of competition. It was because the shipowners in the House had urged their views with regard to competition on the Government that they had found it necessary to deal with the question.
§ MR. STEVENSON
desired to impress upon Her Majesty's Government the necessity for extending their new clause to the timber trade of North Europe in the winter months, for it should not be forgotten that Canada had to compete in that trade with the Baltic. Of the three proposals on the Paper for the prevention of timber deck loads—namely, the imposition of a heavy pecuniary penalty, as proposed by the hon. Member for Poole; heavy duties, as proposed by the Government; or absolute prohibition and liability to seizure by the Customs authorities, as suggested by himself, he thought the last far the most effectual.
§ MR. CHILDERS
rose for two purposes, the first was to add his request to that of other hon. Members that the Government would, with as little delay as possible, lay the clause with respect to foreign ships on the Table; and the second was to state the view of the Canadian Government as to the policy of putting foreign and colonial ships on the same footing. There was an exceedingly able debate on the subject in the Canadian Parliament on the 13th of last month, while he (Mr. Childers) was at Ottawa; Members of the present Government as well as ex-Ministers, especially Mr. Smith and Mr. Mitchell, both of whom probably knew as much about the question as anyone on either side of the Atlantic, took part in it, and the feeling was absolutely unanimous of the necessity of putting colonial and foreign ships on the same footing, although there was a difference of opinion whether it would be better to except Canadian registered ships, or to apply the Act to foreign ships. The majority at Ottawa, and he was strongly of the same opinion, took the latter view; and he could only say that unless it should be adopted he looked forward with grave alarm to the consequences.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he should be happy to promise that the clause relating to foreign 1797 ships would be laid upon the Table as soon as possible. He was anxious to explain what the Government had undertaken to do; because when they were told that every clause in the Bill would be affected by the decision which the Government might announce with regard to foreign ships, hon. Members were probably expecting something different from what the Government had promised or meant to undertake. The point really arose in the discussion on the 5th clause, when the question was raised whether the power of detention ought not to be extended to foreign ships. It was pressed on them, especially by the hon. and learned Member for Taunton (Sir Henry James), that they must, at all events, deal with the question of applying the rule of detention to foreign ships proceeding to sea after taking in cargo in British ports. He thought that was a reasonable contention; he promised that the subject should be considered, and that a clause would be brought up on the Report. It seemed at the time the promise was given that it was a reasonable and fair one. The question was, to a certain extent, new; because they had hitherto dealt with British ships only. The question that arose as to foreign ships was of a very nice and difficult character. Now, after further consideration on the subject, they had been enabled to see their way to bring forward a clause having generally the effect he had indicated—to give power to stop foreign ships having loaded in a British port and being about to proceed to sea. Then the question arose as to the precise mode in which an appeal should be given in cases of detention. [Mr. SAMUDA asked if the power of detention would affect deck loading.] He considered deck loading improper loading. [Mr. SAMUDA: Certainly not.] It was with regard to the loading of ships that they proposed to interfere; and with reference to the appeal to be given if a ship were detained, it might be right to provide that the Consul of the State to which the vessel belonged should have a locus standi on the question. They wanted carefully to draw the clause. The subject involved foreign relations and International Law, and they were not ready to put the clause on the Table at once. They were not going to propose any general assimilation of the law applicable to British and foreign ships. He did not say it might 1798 not be in future an object they should aim at—to bring foreign countries into an understanding with us on this subject, and it might be found possible to induce foreign nations to go much further than was at present indicated. At the same time, they must keep their primary object in view. He hoped, after the discussion, valuable but desultory, which had taken place they would now be able to make some progress with this Bill. This was not a matter in which the Government took any exclusive interest. The measure was desired by the House and the country, and it was not an object to gain Party triumph upon it. He would say it ought to be approached very much in the spirit in which the right hon. Member for Bradford's (Mr. Forster's) Education Bill of 1870 had been treated by those who were politically opposed to him.
§ SIR JOHN HAY
complained that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had omitted to touch on the question raised by the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Stevenson) in respect to dealing with all timber-laden vessels in the same way, whether they came from Norway or from America.
said, he did not think that English shipowners would be prejudiced by the overloading of foreign vessels, because excessive loading meant increased wear and tear and increased risk, and he thought we should do well to leave foreign vessels alone. Our legislation was being watched closely by Sweden and Norway; and if it commended itself to the judgment of the shipowners of those countries, there was no doubt they would readily adapt themselves to it.
§ MR. ASSHETON CROSS made an appeal to hon. Members on the Opposition side to let the Committee proceed to the next clause. If the discussion was not confined to the particular clause, it was most difficult to make perceptible progress with the Bill.
§ MR. WATKIN WILLIAMS
believed that in the end it would economize time if the Government were at once made aware of the opinions of those who had studied this particular question. He sympathized with the President of the Board of Trade on his being compelled to see the Bill progress so slowly; but, at the same time, he looked on this proposal as deficient and unsatisfactory. 1799 No measure of this sort could be satisfactory unless it proceeded on the fundamental principle of putting foreign shipping on the same footing as British shipping. He would throw all sorts of difficulties and impediments in the way of foreign ships, and thus compel them, in their own interests, to adopt the principle we adopted. He believed, however, that that would be unnecessary, and that foreigners would adopt with readiness any rules for saving life which we might lay down. He would suggest that the Bill should be reprinted with the fresh clauses and adopted alterations in it, and that it should be re-committed, in order that they might consider it from this new stand-point. As a lawyer, he must confess he did not understand where they were. They had got into such a state of inextricable confusion that he did not think the House would be able to pass the Bill at all.
§ MR. GOURLEY
saw no difficulty in making the provisions of the Bill applicable to foreign as well as to British ships. At the present moment foreign ships in our ports were subject not only to our Imperial, but to our municipal laws. They paid our pilotage dues, light dues, and other charges; and in some ports there were municipal byelaws to which they were subject. For instance, in some ports they were not allowed to heat pitch and tar on board; and if they broke the law they were, equally with British ships, liable to be brought before the magistrates and dealt with accordingly. Foreigners dealt with us in their ports exactly as they dealt with their own ships. If they did not wish to see the whole of the trade thrown into foreign ships instead of British, they must enact the same laws for the one as for the other.
§ MR. RYLANDS
complained that the loss of time over this Bill was the result of the Government not knowing its own mind, and that the way it was conducted was a public scandal. Outside it was said without hesitation that the conduct of this Bill was a perfect muddle, and that was also the opinion inside the House. To-night it had been admitted that the Government had had information in their possession which ought at once to have been laid on the Table. The President of the Board of Trade told them now that on a former occasion he had mentioned to the Committee 1800 something about it; but the right hon. Gentleman must have expressed himself so badly as to be unintelligible, or he had an audience so stupid, that it was not able to understand his meaning. The fact was that the right hon. Gentleman did not tell the House anything of a material character about this important Correspondence, and for this reason, that he had not made up his mind as to the course to be pursued respecting it. Loss of time had been referred to, but he contended that that discussion was not a loss of time. If the Government came down to the House having first made up their own minds, no loss of time would be occasioned. The Bill ought not to be pressed until it was before them in the shape in which the Government desired to have it passed. He highly approved of the suggestion of the hon. and learned Member for Denbigh (Mr. Watkin Williams), that the Bill should be re-committed and re-printed.
§ SIR CHARLES ADDERLEY
said, that the Bill was not a muddle, for it had been fully accepted by the House. There had been scarcely any alteration yet made, but all the discussion had been engaged in rejecting Amendments, or postponing them, to be probably again rejected on Report.
§ MR. PALMER
strongly objected to the Bill being re-committed and re-printed. They had made considerable progress with the Bill, and might have made more if it were not for the obstructive speeches of some hon. and learned Members. He was delighted to hear from the Government the nature of the two clauses they proposed to introduce, and he hoped they would confine their legislation to the deck loading of ships crossing the Atlantic, as Nature had limited the trade in the northern seas, and the danger there was reduced to a minimum. He denied that the propositions of this Bill could be described as "muddling." They were dealing with a difficult, delicate, and intricate question, and the points raised by the legal Members had done more than anything, to "muddle" the discussion. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would persevere with a good heart in carrying the Bill through the House.
§ MR. E. JENKINS
contended that both the House and the Government were in a muddle with the Bill, and he 1801 thought it better that Progress should be reported and the Bill reprinted. He moved that Progress should be reported.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. E. Jenkins.)
said, it was obvious enough that hon. Gentlemen opposite did not know where they were; and perhaps he should render them a service by reminding them that the Question now before the Committee was the proposal to postpone the clause which stood next in order and proceed with the following clauses, which dealt with the load line, a point on which the question between British and foreign shipping did not arise. He was as much opposed as hon. Gentlemen opposite to any distinction being made between foreign and British ships, and when the proper time came he would enforce his opinions with the best arguments at his command, whether they were acceptable to the Government or not. At the present moment, however, considering the period of the Session, the importance of the question, and the anxiety of the public that the measure should pass, that hon. Member incurred a grave responsibility who threw obstacles in its way by moving to report Progress at 9 o'clock.
§ MR. E. J. REED
supported the Motion to report Progress. He should be sorry to oppose any unnecessary obstacle to the progress of the Bill; but the Government had made a very great change of policy, involving a recantation of many of their declarations on the subject, and as they were unable even to name a day when they would produce the promised clause in reference to foreign ships further discussion of the measure at this stage would be only a farce.
§ MR. RATHBONE
deprecated the course which hon. Members were taking in seeking to report Progress now, and suggested whether such a mode of procedure was calculated to raise the character of the House in the estimation of the country. Let the Bill be proceeded with in a business-like manner.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
observed that the course which hon. Members opposite were taking was not calculated to encourage the Govern- 1802 ment to meet their views. The Government had prepared the Bill as carefully as they could, and in the course of the discussions a question had been raised which was fully debated. He had since stated what the effect of the clause which the Government intended to propose would be; and it was impossible for the hon. Member, if he accepted the explanation he had given of that clause, to plead that the Committee could not discuss the clauses which related to the load line, with which the Government clause to which he had referred had nothing whatever to do, until the terms of that clause were laid before them.
§ MR. E. J. REED
observed, that the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman made it more desirable than ever that the Committee should have the terms of the proposed clause before them previous to their discussing the question of the load line.
§ SIR ANDREW LUSK
opposed the Motion to report Progress. He did not wish to see this difficult subject turned into a mere Party question, and he hoped that the Committee would satisfy the expectations of the country by attempting to improve the Bill in a reasonable way, and would not content themselves by mere fault-finding.
§ MR. MACDONALD
supported the Motion to report Progress. He trusted the Government would consent to place the Committee in possession of what their intentions really were. He must protest against the remarks of the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Rathbone) that the matters under discussion should be left to hon. Gentlemen connected with the shipping interest.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, it was evident that the Government, while prepared to legislate for foreign vessels as regarded overloading, improper loading, and deck loading, were not prepared to legislate for them on the subject of the load line; and therefore he hoped that the Committee, whether it approved or disapproved the Government action, would, at all events, proceed at once to discuss the substantial question of the load line, and not waste any more time in fighting shadows.
§ MR. WATKIN WILLIAMS
said, he thought the observations of the Chancellor of the Exchequer were most convincing in favour of reporting Progress. The very first Amendment on the Paper 1803 was one to the effect that the provision as to a compulsory load line should be extended to foreign ships; and therefore it was absolutely necessary that the Government clause should be laid before the Committee previous to their discussing the question of the load line.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
repeated that the Government clause did not touch the question of the load line, and therefore there was no reason why the Committee should not proceed to discuss the latter subject without further delay.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
said, that with respect to foreign vessels the right hon. Gentleman had not shown the way in which he proposed to deal with them. The most important clauses of the Bill remained for discussion on the Report, and he thought more progress would be made if the Government would consent to re-commit the Bill, and on some futute night recommence the discussion de novo.
§ MR. RATHBONE
disclaimed the imputation of acting solely in the interest of the shipowners. A very large portion of the remainder of the Bill might be proceeded with without regard to the question of foreign ships, and the ship owners generally were most anxious that the details of the measure should be proceeded with.
§ MR. PLIMSOLL
was under great apprehension as to the propriety of proceeding further with the Bill in the present excited state of the Committee. He desired to call the attention of the Government to the fact that almost every important part of the subject had been left for consideration on the Report, the clauses relating to grain cargoes and deck loading having been postponed.
§ SIR CHARLES ADDERLEY
observed that not one single clause of the Bill had been postponed for consideration on the Report. It was only the consideration of certain Amendments which had been postponed.
§ MR. E. J. REED
thought that after the explanation given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer the Motion for reporting Progress should not be pressed.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 16 postponed.1804
§ Deck and Load lines.
§ Clause 17 (Marking of deck lines).
MR. PLIMSOLL moved, in page 10, line 2, after "ships," to insert "under eighty tons register." The object of the Amendment was to extend the operation of the clause to the coasting trade as well as foreign-going ships. The Board of Trade had a Wreck Register, and year after year, in referring to the wrecks on our coasts, these remarkable words were used—
About half of this loss is occasioned through the unseaworthy, ill-found, and over laden state of the vessels employed in the coasting trade of Great Britain.
Since he called attention to that sentence it had been dropped out of the annual record of wrecks. During the last three years the average loss of life in the coasting trade was more than half the losses of life at sea from all other causes.
§ SIR CHARLES ADDERLEY
said, his only doubt was whether he would not go further than the Amendment proposed, and make it 100 tons.
§ SIR HENRY JAMES
said, the second Amendment would not go so far as the Amendment of the hon. Member for Derby.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 18 (Marking of load line).
§ MR. PLIMSOLL moved, in page 10, line 15, after "ships," to insert "under eighty tons register."
§ MR. NORWOOD
opposed the clause on the ground that, if adopted, it would be impossible to apply the provisions to many vessels in the Humber which were built like Dutch galliots, with high ends, but little or no freeboard amidships.
§ MR. MACGREGOR
said, the vessels alluded to by the hon. Member for Hull were also used in Scotland, being known there as "billibhoys." The Amendment, if carried, would abolish one of the most useful species of vessels we possessed. A special exemption ought to be made in regard to that kind of craft.
§ MR. PLIMSOLL
said, that if it were necessary to make an exception in the case of billibhoys, there could be no objection to such a course, but he thought the case was fully met by subsequent words in the clause. The Amendment was mainly intended to deal with the 1805 coasting vessels coming up from the North to London, and which were frequently overloaded.
§ MR. BENTINCK
said, that unless there were special provisions for billyboys the clause would entail a grievous hardship upon that useful and valuable class of coasting traders.
§ MR. E. J. REED
pointed out that the objection to the Amendment was met by the requirements of the clause that the load line should be marked where it was practicable. It would be highly objectionable to exempt billibhoys from the clause.
§ LORD ESLINGTON
thought that on national grounds the Committee should not consent hastily to accept Amendments which would place under this enactment a class of vessels which was now the only nursery for our seamen, which, being for the most part in the hands of small owners, would be seriously affected by these restrictions, which, moreover, it was unnecessary to apply to them.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ MR. T. E. SMITH moved an Amendment for the purpose of exempting billibhoys from the necessity of having a disc painted on them.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 10, line 16, after the words "fishing and," to insert the words "billibhoys or."—(Mr. Eustace Smith.)
§ MR. D. JENKINS
opposed the Amendment, as he did not think they ought to be omitted from the operation of the clause.
§ SIR ANDREW LUSK
said, there was a point where billibhoys might be overloaded as well as any other ship. They wished to prevent that.
§ SIR CHARLES ADDERLEY
objected to the Amendment, because it was impossible to define what "billibhoys" were. He did not believe they were ships strictly, as they were sometimes propelled by oars.
§ MR. E. J. REED
considered that the words of the clause were perfect as they stood, and sufficiently provided for every contingency. He hoped, therefore, the Committee would resist the Amendment.
§ MR. T. E. SMITH
said, he attached great importance to the Amendment, and must therefore press it to a division.
Question put, "That the words 'billibhoy or' be there inserted."1806
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 66; Noes 237: Majority 171.
§ MR. NORWOOD moved, in page 10, line 26, to leave out "intends," and insert "claims to be entitled with safety," in reference to the owner's maximum load line.
§ SIR CHARLES ADDERLEY
preferred the word "intends," as indicating a real intention, that was the owner's extreme intention of loading.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ MR. PLIMSOLL moved, in page 10, line 33, after "centre," to insert, "and shall transmit a copy of such statement to the Board of Trade." His design was to check the overloading of ships, whether for long or short voyages. To take a practical instance—it was known that many vessels, laden in Spain, had to cross the Bay of Biscay heavily over-laden, exposing the crew and cargo to imminent peril. According to the present regulation the owners might place the load line where they liked, and no one was entitled to alter it, though this load line was scoffed at by practical men. The load line was sometimes placed level with the deck, in derision of its being left to the owner. Practically, however, it was a system which would lead to a larger amount of overloading than before. Many shipowners who now never dreamt of overloading would mark the line as high as possible to give themselves greater freedom of action; but those ships when reloading in foreign ports would be loaded to the utmost capacity of the marked line, because the captains and agents would think they were throwing something away if the vessel was not put down to the line. An official sanction, on the contrary, would be beneficial alike to the shipowner and to the public. The latter would know that overloading was no longer practised; and the shipowner would not run any risk of being stopped at a moment when delay was most disadvantageous. It was said that no two persons could agree as to a load line; but when an officer of the Board of Trade ordered a certain amount of cargo to be taken out of a vessel which he thought overloaded he practically settled the question; and he (Mr. Plimsoll) did not think, therefore, that the course indicated by the Amendment was impracticable.1807
§ Amendment proposed,
§ In page 10, line 33, after the word "centre," to insert the words "and shall transmit a copy of such statement to the Board of Trade."—(Mr. Plimsott.)
§ SIR CHARLES ADDERLEY
said, there were in the Bill certain penalties imposed for such tricks as those the hon. Member for Derby said he had seen attempted. It was true that some shipowners took that jocular view of the subject when the Act of last year was passed; but when the effect of the voluntary load line was pointed out they altered their views. The voluntary record was a part of the agreement with the crew, and a serious matter of evidence in the underwriters behalf in case of loss. The hon. Member for Derby said he had seen the load line fixed in ridiculous places; but he (Sir Charles Adderley), in a visit paid last autumn to many ports, saw none. He had, besides, a Report from the officers of the Board of Trade, stationed at all the ports of England, to the effect that the load line was generally marked in a bonâ fide manner. He placed those Reports and his own experience against the statement of the hon. Member for Derby; and he would also add that in the opinion of the highest authorities of the Board of Trade it had led to lighter loading, and had been found practically useful. If the hon. Member's proposal were adopted the Board of Trade would be called upon to express an opinion on the part of Government upon the load line of every vessel. If they did not disapprove, they would be supposed to approve; and it being impossible for them to survey for this purpose the thousands of vessels that cleared out of our ports at all hours of the day and night, it would be difficult to exaggerate the danger of such implied approvals of all ships not actually disapproved. Besides, if the surveyors told the owner they did not like his load line, he might say he was not going to load up to it. A load line was, in fact, no test of a proper, or even a moderate loading. The hon. Member himself admitted that no two people could agree as to what in any case the load line ought to be. He had told the Associations of Lloyd's and of Liverpool that he wished to reduce the judgment of the Government surveyor to as small a margin of uncertainty as possible, and he had conferred with them as to the 1808 possibility of any rules by publishing which it would be possible to reduce that uncertainty. He found it, however, impossible to get them to agree as to any rules. Most people had a theory about a load line. Very likely the hon. Member had one. [Mr. PLIMSOLL dissented.] Well, the hon. Member was probably the only man who had given any attention to the subject who had none. Lloyd's surveyors had one, the Liverpool surveyors had another, and no doubt the Board of Trade had a third; but the three theories, when put together, did not enable any argument to be arrived at. The general principle of the Bill, and of all previous Acts on the subject, was to keep the Government out of the business of the shipowner, and to throw the responsibility of safe conduct upon the shipowner himself, the Government only interfering where they saw reason to believe that life would be endangered by any vessel going to sea. He admitted that there were great difficulties in the way of any interference at all. There were two things it was desirable that the Board of Trade should have—efficient surveyors, and rules which would make their action as uniform and as little arbitrary as possible. They had in this Bill also provided an easy appeal against the judgment of their surveyors. In certain cases a Court must decide; but in cases of mere overloading there would be an easier reference free of expense or delay. The whole of the principle of the Bill was involved in the proposal to make the Government express my opinion upon the load line, and experience had shown that the existing load line which the Bill would make permanent was practically useful and effectual.
§ MR. T. E. SMITH
supported the Amendment, which he said was not only satisfactory to the shipowners, but would render the clause acceptable even to the hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Plimsoll). There could be no doubt that the Board of Trade had to go into these matters, and even to stop ships in order to ascertain if they were loaded above their proper load line, and all that was now asked was that the Board of Trade should state what the result of their investigations were.
§ LORD ESLINGTON
was astonished at the discrepancy which existed between 1809 the views expressed by the hon. Member for Derby and his line of action. He expressed distrust of the Department, and yet continually proposed to throw new duties upon it. He trusted that in regard to the present clause the Board of Trade would, at any rate, remain firm to their own proposition.
§ MR. NORWOOD
said, that his object in the proposition which he had made with respect to the load line was not simply in the interest of the owner, but in the interests of the seaman, who ought to be placed in a position to judge of the safety of the proposed immersion, and to be able to protect himself. He entirely objected to the Amendment, which would relieve the shipowners from the responsibility which ought to attach to them.
§ MR. WATKIN WILLIAMS
agreed with the hon. Member for Hull, and expressed a hope that the Government would not assent to the Amendment.
§ MR. MACGREGOR
observed, that there had not been any difference between the opinion of the Board of Trade surveyor and that of the shipowners of Leith on the subject of the load line.
§ MR. D. JENKINS
said, there was no doubt that in certain trades there had been cases of overloading; but he believed that to be almost a thing of the past.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 64; Noes 197: Majority 133.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.