HC Deb 01 June 1877 vol 234 cc1181-224

in rising to call attention to the Harbour Accommodation on the North East Coast; and to move— That, in the opinion of this House, the unprotected condition of the North East Coast, as regards Harbour Accommodation, demands the serious consideration of Her Majesty's Government, said, that there was no apology due from him to the House for bringing this subject before it for the third time, because a great maritime nation like our own must necessarily take a deep interest in the harbour accommodation on its coasts —an interest which was felt not only by hon. Members in that House, but by the general public outside. This question had often been brought before Parliament in the shape of the Reports of Committees and of Commissions; but successive Governments had managed on one excuse or another, mainly on the plea of expense, to evade carrying their recommendations into effect. The part of the coast to which his remarks would be directed was that which lay between Sheerness and the Firth of Forth, ex- tending some 400 miles in length, and bordering some of our richest mineral and industrial districts. It appeared from the Report of the Royal Commission of 1859—and, indeed, it still remained as a matter of fact down to the present day—that, with the exception of the Humber and of Harwich, all the harbours along that coast were bar harbours, which could only be entered with safety at particular times of the tide and in moderate weather. When he brought this subject before the House in 1871, and again in 1873, he laid special stress upon that part of the Report of the Royal Commission of 1859 which pointed to Filey as being the place best situated on that coast for the construction of a national harbour of refuge, which would be of great advantage to our naval and mercantile interest. He had also ventured on previous occasions to lay before the House some of the statistics to which great weight was attached by that Commission, and he trusted that the House would permit him to refer to them again. It was stated in evidence before that Committee that there were five great coal ports on the North-East Coast, the average tonnage clearing outwards from them being 45 per cent of the whole coasting trade, and 32 per cent of the entire coasting and foreign trade together. 25 per cent of the wrecks of the United Kingdom occurred on this portion of the coast, which was only 1–36th of the whole seaboard of the country; and there was lost upon it annually property computed at the value of £1,500,000, and 830 lives. Happily, indeed, these proportions did not hold good now. While other portions of our seaboard were provided with ample harbour accommodation—sometimes from national sources, and sometimes from local sources aided by those of the nation—this large portion of our coast had not a single harbour which was available at all times of the tide and in all weathers for all classes of vessels. The Motions he brought forward on this subject in 1871 and 1873 were supported by many hon. Members in that House, but were opposed by the Government of the day, and especially by the right hon. Member for Greenwich, on the ground that, as the previous Government had passed the Piers and Harbour Acts to enable the local authorities to borrow money at a low rate of interest for the construction and improvement of their harbours, it would not be fair or politic for Parliament to sanction the construction of isolated harbours at the public expense; and the right hon. Gentleman stated that it was contrary to the feelings of his Government to adopt what they felt would be an isolating policy. The right hon. Gentleman was supported in his objections to his proposal by the Representatives of the different ports on the North-East Coast; but the selfishness of such opposition was apparent upon the face of it. The result of that opposition, however, was that he was defeated twice—once by a large, and once by a small majority. Since the Commission of 1859 had reported, and indeed since 1871, the circumstances had to a certain extent changed. It was generally known that steam vessels were largely superseding sailing vessels; that larger vessels were displacing small ones; and that, thanks to the legislation of that House and to the supervision of the Board of Trade, vessels now put to sea in a better condition than they did formerly. Still the change had not been so great as might have been anticipated. Taking the Board of Trade statistics for last year, he found that whereas in 1866 we had 25,248 sailing vessels carrying 4,817,595 tons, in 1876 the number of such vessels was reduced to 20,506, and the tonnage to 4,195,430. On the other hand, we had in 1866 2,824 steamships, carrying 874,415 tons, and in 1876 we had 4,323 steam vessels, carrying 2,002,538 tons. Admitting that these figures showed that there was a decrease in the number of sailing ships, and a large increase in the number of our steam vessels, still could it be contended that this was not a matter that demanded the most earnest consideration in reference to the establishment of a harbour of refuge? It seemed to him undeniable that the still large number of sailing ships ought to have ample harbour accommodation provided. One of the strongest grounds on which the Committee which sat in 1857 urged the establishment of a harbour at Filey was that we had no Naval station on the North-East Coast; and in 1873 Lord Carlingford, speaking as President of the Board of Trade, said ho must oppose his Lord Claud Hamilton's) Motion, but that he believed the day was coming when the authorities of this country would feel it their duty to establish a naval harbour on the North-East Coast, and that it would serve for the purpose of a harbour of refuge as well. Was not the day coming when it was absolutely necessary that we should consider the question of establishing a Naval station on the North-East Coast? When he looked at the supremacy of this country at sea and its maritime interests, he thought he might safely say that the day was not distant when that question must be taken up in earnest by whatever Government held power in this country. From the middle of the last century up to a few years ago the base of our naval operations was always on the South Coast—France a strong naval Power, in close proximity to us, being looked upon as the only source of danger. At that time Portsmouth was our great naval arsenal and a refuge for our Fleet. Since then Plymouth and Portland breakwaters had been constructed, and he hoped that in a short time the new works at Dover would be completed and we should have there a safe harbour of refuge protected by artillery. We had, then, along our South Coast four great harbours which were capable of being entered at all times and by all vessels—and where our ships of war could be fitted with all modern appliances; there was also the shelter of the breakwater at Alderney. But when we left the South Coast thus protected and turned to the North-East Coast, we found that it had not a single harbour along the whole of the vast stretch of coast from Sheerness to the Firth of Forth—400 miles—which could be called a harbour in the real sense of the term, nor a single harbour which could be used by the fleet as a coaling station. On the South Coast we had an agricultural country and villages and country towns; but the North-East Coast comprised some of the richest and most important of our manufacturing towns and districts—yet along this coast we had no naval harbour nor coaling station, no fortifications, no guns. From a Board of Trade Return it appeared that the traffic in the Tyne in 1875 was nearly £100,000,000, of which £20,000,000 was from Germany; and the shipbuilding in the same year was 38,000 tons. In the Humber the traffic was nearly £60,000,000, the traffic at Hartlepool was £42,000,000, and the traffic at Sun- derland £57,000,000; the value of the total trade at these four ports was £250,000,000. The value of the trade at Leith was nearly £14,000,000. We might be sure that an enemy at maritime warfare would attack the foreign trade of a seaport—especially when it was in an unprotected condition. In old days France possessed a Navy sufficient to require vigilance on our part; but no other country in Europe possessed Navies to cause us the slightest anxiety. Of late years, however, two Powers, Russia and Germany had grown up. He would briefly state the present strength of their Navies. The French Navy at the end of 1876 consisted of 391 vessels, including 52 iron-dads, 264 unarmoured screw-steamers, 62 paddle-steamers, and 113 sailing vessels; 94,000 horse-power and 2,973 guns. The German Navy consisted of 11 iron-dads, 20 frigates, 31 gun-beats and torpedoes, 4 sailing vessels—in all, 66 vessels; 70,430 horsepower and 478 guns—besides sailing vessels. Russia had 29 iron-clads; 9,210 horse-power and 184 guns. He did not assume that we were likely to be attacked by either of the two last named Powers, but it was necessary to keep in view what might happen and be prepared for any eventuality. If we had no fortifications on our North-East Coast, the ordinary mode of protecting that seabeard of 400 miles in case of war, would be the cruising about of a large squadron on that coast. In older days it was comparatively easy for England to protect her coasts, for a wooden ship for months, and sometimes for years, was able to cruise about without calling at any port, and at the end of that time was for warfare in as good condition as when she left. But all that was materially changed in the present day. At present, our Fleet consisted of heavy unwieldy iron-dads, with small coaling capacity, and possessing machinery so complicated that the slightest mistake often made it absolutely necessary that before they could be used for defensive or offensive purposes, they should be brought into harbour. Only yesterday a practical instance of that occurred in the accident which happened to the Thunderer. The coal-carrying capacity and consumption of these steamers was an important point which he wished to bring brfore the House. The coal-carrying capacity of these iron-dads was, he believed, from 800 to 900 tons; while the consumption at full speed sometimes reached 200 tons a-day. The Alexandra, one of the most powerful of our iron-clad fleet, carried 750 tons of coal, while her consumption at full speed was 200 tons a-day; that was to say, the Alexandra, on which we had staked so much, could not at full speed go a journey of more than four days, if quite so much. Surely to make a squadron of that class efficient it was necessary that it should have a base of operations at which the vessels could coal, where they could lie in bad weather, and from which they could issue at a moment's notice for defence or attack. Yet, at the present moment, we had not a naval station on the whole of the North-East seaboard, nor a harbour where the Fleet could coal with any degree of safety. Into the Humber a man-of-war could doubtless enter, but he would be a bold admiral who could take a squadron of iron-dads into the Humber, except in the finest weather for the purpose of coaling. He believed no admiral cruising upon the North-East Coast had ever taken a fleet into the Humber, so difficult was the entrance to that river. The result was, that he believed, that for the purpose of coaling when in the centre of that district, you would have either to go the Firth of Forth, or else to Sheerness; in the one case the base of operations would be 180 miles, and in the other 220 miles; and in going and returning to those points they would expend something like 200 tons of coal, and on getting back to the base of operations they would be short 200 tons of their full carrying power. But what would Germany, in the event of a war with us, be able to do ? Germany possessed two harbours —one of them important—near our North-Eastern Coast; one of them at Bremerhafen and the other at Wilhelmshafen. The arsenal at Wilhelmshafen was fitted up with every modern appliance for the building, refitting, and re-victualling of ships. It could be approached in any weather by the largest vessels, and it was protected by the strongest fortifications. Wilhelmshafen was distant from Filey only 320 miles, and from the mouth of the Humber only 300 miles. In the case of war, Germany's centre point would be somewhere over the Dogger Bank, or only 120 miles from Wilhelmshafen. Thus, while the English base of operations would be 200 miles away, the attacking force would have to go only 100 miles further to reach our coasts. With all our annual outlay on our Army and Navy, and with the vast expenditure we had incurred for fortifications, it was an extraordinary thing that we should have allowed that weak point for our defence to remain—especially considering the great wealth comprised within the district—unprotected. What, then, ought to be done in the circumstances ? He maintained in his Resolution that the matter was one which should be taken into consideration by the Government, with a view to the construction of a naval harbour at Filey, as had been recommended both by a Committee of that House and by a Commission in 1859. Filey was admitted by all competent authorities to be the best possible site for a large harbour of refuge for our Mercantile Marine; it possessed the finest holding ground on that coast; and it had a natural breakwater half a mile in length; and for the moderate expenditure of a million sterling it could be converted into a harbour having five times the capacity of Dover, when the works there were finished according to the latest plans sanctioned by the late Government. Sir John Coode, who had given the matter his earnest consideration, was one of the few fortunate engineers who had succeeded in making a harbour—the great Breakwater at Portland—at a cost within his estimate. The works at Filey, originally estimated to cost £800,000, Sir John Coode said could be executed in a manner more suitable to meet the modern requirements of an iron-clad fleet for £1,000,000—a sum that would not be exceeded. Another point, as he had mentioned a few years ago, was that the question of convict labour would soon have to be taken up by the Government. The works at Portland on which convicts had been engaged for many years must now be nearly finished, and the Government would have to consider what was to be done with the large number of convicts — no fewer than 1,600—now employed at Portland. He was aware that civil engineers preferred skilled free labour to convict labour; and, no doubt, in executing great works the engineer might not be able to make the same profit if he had to use the latter. At the same time the convicts were now under the direction of a practical engineer of great ability, Colonel Du Cane, and in the case of a great work like that of Filey, where the stone was near and only wanted cutting, under the practical superintendence of such an engineer they might fairly employ convicts. There was another reason for the utilization of convict labour in such an undertaking. Complaints had been made—and perhaps justly— of the interference with certain trades through the labour of convicts in prison; and the grievance connected with that subject had lately been urged by the Trades Union Council. It would, therefore, remove a fertile source of complaint, if they could employ surplus convict labour in such an enterprize as he was advocating. But in dealing with a work of that great importance, it did not matter whether it was done by convict labour, or at a cost of £100,000 or £200,000 more. All he maintained was, that it should be done; and that if they had a naval station there it would also be a harbour of refuge for merchant shipping and the coasting trade. For many years the question had been before the House and the country, and for many years it had been shelved. He hoped, however, that the time had come when the Government would fairly consider it, and would get rid of the scandal which had arisen through a question of money being allowed to stand in the way of what should be the first duty of the Legislature—namely, the due protection of life and property. The noble Lord concluded by moving his Resolution.


said, he had very great pleasure in seconding the Motion. When he remembered the perseverance and the ability with which the noble Lord opposite (Lord Claud Hamilton) had advocated that cause, he felt surprised that a proposal so deserving of acceptance had hitherto failed to obtain the support of the majority of the House. He believed the reason was that hon. Members who represented the principal ports and the shipping interest of this country had not been disposed to give much assistance to the noble Lord. Now, in all that related to the commercial aspects of shipping questions, he would readily defer to the advice of hon. Gentlemen representing the shipping interests. But when they came to deal with matters affecting the safety of life at sea, he did not know that the advice of those directly connected with any particular industry should command such an unreserved deference on the part of hon. Members. The House certainly had not followed the advice of hon. Members connected with the mineral property of the country when it passed the Mines Regulation Act, neither had it followed that of the manufacturers when it passed the Acts establishing the half-time system. Yet they knew that both of those measures had been wise measures. The majority of the Representatives of the shipping interests in that House were owners of vessels of a class for the security of which it was not pretended that the proposed harbour at Filey was essential. He preferred to present the case to the House rather as a poor man's question. It was for the protection of the class of small sailing vessels that such a harbour was necessary; and although the pecuniary value of that class of vessels engaged in the Home trade was small as compared with the large capital invested in steamships, yet the trade carried on in the smaller sailing vessels was by no means inconsiderable or unimportant. There were engaged in our Home trade no fewer than 10,000 sailing vessels under 200 tons register—the class which would be protected in case of storms by the proposed harbour—manned by 35,000 seamen; while of vessels exceeding 200 tons register there were only 176, manned by 1,300 seamen. As a nursery for seamen, the sailing vessels which traded on the East Coast rendered great service to the country; and it might be good policy to afford them more protection from the severe North-easterly gales, so prevalent in the winter months. The Board of Trade had a great respect for political economy, as he himself had; but it was a hard, harsh, and somewhat horny-handed science, and no Government could legislate in strict conformity with its rules without provoking serious discontent. That works of the kind now proposed should be left to private enter-prize was an argument that might be pushed too far, for many of the most beneficial undertakings in connection with our harbour accommodation—such as the Breakwater at Plymouth and the Pier at Dover —would never have been accomplished but for the Government. Certainly the Government enjoyed re- sources which no private company could command for the carrying out of the present scheme. It could employ, for instance, a large amount of convict labour, and he hoped the noble Lord's suggestion on the point would receive due consideration. Huts similar to those in use at Aldershot would afford sufficient accommodation for men during the summer season, and he ventured to think, therefore, that no objection on the ground of expense, to the employment of convicts in the construction of the proposed harbour works would be urged by the Government. The providing of a coaling depôt for our iron-clads readily accessible from the stations in the North Sea in which they would cruise in the event of war was another important consideration. On a careful consideration of the many arguments that could be urged in support of the proposal of the noble Lord he was convinced that a harbour such as that proposed would be valued by the people of this country as an essential element of their national greatness.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word " That " to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, the unprotected condition of the North East Coast, as regards Harbour Accommodation, demands the serious consideration of Her Majesty's Government,"—(Lord Claud Hamilton,) —instead thereof.


said, that he had no wish or intention to say a word in derogation of the case which the noble Lord (Lord Claude Hamilton) had so ably advanced in favour of the construction of a harbour at Filey. He was not himself officially connected with the East Coast of England, and had no sufficient information to enable him to form a judgment, still less one unfavourable to that which had been expressed by the noble Lord; but he could not listen to a discussion on the subject of constructing a naval harbour on the East Coast without reminding the House that there was an undertaking of that nature, preeminent in its importance to the interests of the country, which was still incomplete and unfinished. He need not say he referred to the harbour and works at Dover. Many years ago the Government of the day had deemed it necessary to construct a harbour in that locality, and had undertaken the execu- tion of the pier called the Admiralty Pier at Dover, which was completed about 1873, and which had been found of so great advantage to the Channel traffic. That work, however, was but a portion of the whole undertaking originally designed by the Government, and it was found comparatively ineffective without the execution of the corresponding pier on the east side necessary to form the closed area of still water which was the principle of the work. The late Government took the subject into consideration, and were so impressed with the necessity of completing this work, that in 1873 they applied to the House and obtained a grant of money for the purpose. In 1874—the first Session of the present Parliament, a Bill was brought in by the Harbour Board of Dover, the local authority in communication with the present Government for the carrying out of these works; but the Government were so much impressed with the importance of having that work in their own hands, that by arrangement with the Harbour Board, their Bill was withdrawn on the understanding that the Government would take up the measure themselves in the next Session. Accordingly, in 1875, the Government brought in their Bill, which was submitted to a Select Committee of eminent Members of that House, by whom evidence of the highest authority was taken. The Committee reported in favour of the measure, but with a suggestion for an increase in the expenditure, which would give a much larger area of enclosed water at a comparatively small cost. In consequence of this suggestion the Bill was not proceeded with that Session; but it was understood that it was to be brought in the next year. In the year 1876, however, the measure was not renewed. The reason assigned for this delay was that the Government had too much in hand to enable them to undertake to bring in a Bill that Session; but it was fully understood that it would be recurred to in the next. This Session, however, the expectations in this respect were again disappointed, and the measure was now indefinitely postponed. He had heard no sufficient reason for this proceeding on the part of the Government; but he collected that there was a difference of opinion in the Government upon the subject. He did not wish to enter into any contrast between the scheme of the noble Lord and that he had referred to; but he could not help reminding the House that the undertaking, the policy of which the House had been called upon to affirm, was one which had not been discussed—that of the construction of the harbour at Dover had long since been settled and partly executed. He did not wish here to enter into a discussion of its merits, because the stage of inquiry on these points had long passed, but he must say that the existence of an enclosed harbour at Dover had long since been deter, mined to be an absolute necessity to the defence of the country in case of war, and that all the considerations which had been urged upon the House by the noble Lord in favour of a harbour at Filey existed in a ten-fold degree in the case of the harbour at Dover. The noble Lord had referred to the fact that there was no naval harbour between Sheerness and Filey along the whole Eastern Coast; but he (Mr. Freshfield) would remind the House that there was no harbour between Sheerness and Portsmouth, and that the South Coast was the point at which England was most assailable. All our apprehensions had centred on the site of Dover, which was the narrowest point in the Straits of the Channel. Through those Straits a very large portion of the Commercial Navy had to sail. For their protection, as well as for our security against invasion, it was necessary that our Fleet should be constantly in that neighbourhood. The noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Claud Hamilton) had shown that the armour-clads which constituted our naval defences could not hold the seas without steam power, and that they were unable to carry coals for more than five days. It was, therefore, vital that there should be at Dover a defended harbour into which our ships should be able to enter for the purpose of coaling and refitting, and in which they might lie in ambush and issue forth as occasion required. But he would not pursue his argument further, it was unnecessary to do so. He repeated that he had no wish to disparage the scheme of the noble Lord. The object for which he rose was to point out to the House and to the Government that the works at Dover were not only a subject of national interest, but also a matter of Parliamentary obligation, and he would conclude his observations by urging upon the Government the duty that they were under to complete these works at the earliest possible moment, and the responsibility which they were incurring every day, especially in the condition of Europe, in delaying them.


The grounds on which I oppose the Motion are briefly stated in an Amendment of which I have given Notice, but which the Rules of the House prevent me from moving. These grounds are that— The harbour accommodation of the North East Coast of England has been and is being greatly improved by the operations of the various local harbour authorities, and that such further improvements as are required can be best effected through the instrumentality of such authorities, assisted by loans made under the authority of the Harbours and Passing Tolls Act and the Public Works Loans Acts, with such Amendments as experience has proved to be necessary. In 1871 the noble Lord proposed that the recommendations of the Harbour Commission of 1858 should be carried into effect with regard to the harbour of Filey; in 1873 he limited his requirements to an inquiry into saving life; in 1875 he placed on the Paper a similar Notice to that which now appears; and he has come to the somewhat indefinite proposal involved in the phrase " the unprotected condition of the North East coast "—which may mean the unprotected state of that coast in case of war with foreign Powers, or its unprotected state with reference to a heavy north-east wind. Still, in each case the noble Lord is very consistent in his affections for Filey as being the great position for a national harbour. For my own part. I contend that there is no ground for putting forward Filey as having exceptional claims, whether as a harbour of refuge or a naval station, and that the expenditure which the noble Lord's proposal involves will simply be useless. The cost is put down in 1858 at £800,000; but it is more likely, from the present cost of labour and materials, to amount to £1,000,000 or £1,500,000. I aver that the money cannot be advantageously laid out on Filey Harbour, and there is no necessity for it. The position of existing harbours on that coast has of late altered very much for the better, and not for the worse, as the noble Lord would have us believe. Many of them have been greatly improved in regard to their area and depth of water, as shown by the larger class of ships which they admit and the protection which they afford to those ships. In these respects some of them are undoubtedly superior to Filey or Dover. If there is to be a great national harbour on the North East coast, it ought not to be at Filey or Dover. The best position for such a harbour is in the Tees Bay, between Hartlepool Heugh and the Tees mouth, as the most westerly point of the East Coast. But I will argue the question on all the grounds that have been mentioned: as a commercial harbour, as a refuge harbour, as a naval harbour; and I would ask, can this money be advantageously spent at Filey for any one of these purposes? As commercial harbours, the change which has taken place on the Tyne and Tees has been wonderful, and the same class of works has been also going forward at Hartlepool and Sunderland. I will trouble the House for a few moments with the actual figures of that which. has been accomplished at those places. The River Tyne Commissioners have spent lately not £1,000,000, but upwards of £2,000,000 in these successful works. They commenced with 3 to 6 feet of water on their bar at low water spring tides; they now have 20 feet, with 15 to 16 feet rise of tide. In 1854, the ships frequenting the river averaged 149½ tons; in 1864, 190½ tons; in 1871, 16,737 ships, averaging 284½ tons. The tonnage of the Tyne was in 1854, 2,849,680 tons; in 1864, 3,491,948 tons; in 1874, 4,762,379 tons. In 1861 the Tyne had 246 ships between 500 amid 1,000 tons, and 8 above 1,000 tons; in 1871 there were 4,542 between 500 and 1,000 tons, and 239 above 1,000 tons. To the end of 1850, in 13 years, the Commission had dredged 493,426 tons of soil from the bed of the river; during the next 24 years they had dredged no less than 51,214,300 tons in widening and deepening the Tyne. As a harbour of refuge the river is now undoubted. In 1866, 194 vessels took refuge, and did not pay commercial dues; in 1867, 255; in 1868, 322; in 1869, 902; in 1870, 402; in 1873, 558; in 1874, upwards of 1,000, and this continues. The North Pier of the Tyne is already advanced 2,250 feet, the pier on the south side of the mouth 4,000 feet, when these are completed, there will be 30 feet of water at low tide with an entrance of 1,200 feet in width. There will be 1,100 feet of tidal wharf, with 18 feet of water at low water, and at Cobble Dene 900 feet of wharf, with 20 feet at low water. This will give a harbour of about 200 acres, with 5 fathoms of water at low water spring tides. The House may ask, how will this compare with our national habours? —most favourably at this depth of water: Alderney has about 80 acres; Dover, 122 acres; Holyhead, about 200 acres; Filey, as laid down by the Commission on Harbours of Refuge, about 170 acres—at this depth. But now, Sir, as regards the Tees, the same class of work, to a somewhat smaller extent, has been going on there. In 1854 the present Commission found a depth of about 3½ feet on the Tees bar. In 1875 that had become 10 feet. In 1877 it is 14 to 14½ feet. This has been accomplished by training walls on each bank of the river, of which there are about 20 miles, and by the removal of a large reef of rocks crossing the bed of the river, about 1¾ acres in extent, and which has been removed by the diamond boring machine of my hon. and gallant Colleague (Major F. B. Beaumont), one of the most successful engineering works of our time. In 1876, the ships that went in and out of the Tees were as follows:—Under 150 tons, 2,323 sail; under 300 tons, 1,010 sail; under 600 tons, 437 sail; under 1,000 tons, 78 sail; under 1,500 tons, 11 sail. Between 1854 and 1874, 5,014,671 tons of material were dredged out of the bed of the Tees. The southern breakwater has been run out 10,321 feet, in this 2,534,250 tons of material have been used. The Commission has spent on this work £128,675—of this £33,576 has been received from the ironmasters for depositing their slag. The revenue of the Tees Commission was, in 1853, £8,109; in 1876 it was £24,443. The Tees Commission have spent in their graving docks £25,000; they have sold land which bears interest for about £23,000; they have land to sell worth about £20,000; they will reclaim about £85,000 worth more. At Hartlepool the Public Works Loan Commission advanced the Port and Pier Commission £36,000 to carry out works there. I think, Sir, I have said enough to show that Filey would be no use as a com- mercial harbour, and that harbours of refuge are rapidly being provided without any charge on the public Revenue. And now, Sir, we will look at Filey as a harbour of refuge if made. In 1874, Lord Carlingford, then Mr. Chichester Fortes-cue, stated that in 10 years, ending 1871, from Flamberough Head to the Fern Islands 285 lives had been lost; and from Flamborough Head to the North Foreland. 930 lives had been lost during the same period, and between the North Foreland and the Land's End, with Portland, Southampton, Falmouth, and Plymouth, as great harbours of refuge, 734 lives had been lost. In a previous debate, Mr. Milner Gibson stated that he had submitted this question to three most competent advisers, and they reported that a harbour of refuge at Filey in 10 years might have saved 15 lives and £28,000 worth of property, each case of wreck having been carefully examined. Then, Sir, this great harbour of refuge, to cost above £1,000,000 of money, would have saved 3 shipwrecks between 1862 and 1872. Well, Sir, I have examined the Wreck Returns since that day, and they show results still more damaging to this harbour of refuge. Along the whole of that coast, from the Fern Islands to Flamborough Head, the wrecks were as follows:-1870, 3 ships, 15 men; 1871, 8 ships, 54 men; 1872, 10 ships, 73 men; 1873, 1 ship, 6 men. But it is equally plain that this long length of coast is not so disastrous a one as the noble Lord would have us suppose. I have taken out the last year's Return that is in the Library ending July 1875: Fern to Flamborough, ships, 12 men; Flamborough to North Foreland, 8 ships, 44 men; Foreland to St. Catharine's, 3 ships, 19 men; St. Catharine's to Start, 1 ship, 4 men; Start to Land's End, 2 ships, 13 men; Land's End to Hartland, 1 ship, 20 men; Hartland to St. David's, 7 ships, 53 men; St. David's to Skerries, 2 ships, 9 men; Skerries to Cantire, 15 ships, 20 men. Now, Sir, I think I have proved that as a commercial or refuge harbour this harbour at Filey would save nothing and nobody. But we are told to-day that it is wanted for a naval and strategic harbour. I must ask the old question, who are we going to fight? We never hear now of our old natural enemy France. It is France the hon. Member for Dover has already called at- tention to, and the manner in which Dover Harbour has been used, and the difficulties that environ those who trust in national harbours. I give my opinion with great diffidence—as these questions would be settled with difficulty by men of much greater experience than myself in these matters. But if this is to be a naval harbour, £1,000,000 of money will not do—a naval harbour requires the protection of such lines of forts as we have at Plymouth and Portsmouth, and which before they are armed cost some millions more—they must have barracks for soldiers and buildings for stores. But, Sir, I doubt whether this would be the place for such an establishment—as regards coals, the Tyne or the Tees would coal your largest man-of-war in a few hours. I have known a merchantman take 800 tons on board and go out of the Tyne on the same tide in which she came in—and, again, if it is a German war we have to provide for, I believe that Heligoland is within a hour or two's steaming—as near the North Foreland and the Thames as it is to Filey. In short, Sir, to sum up, there there are two policies before us—the noble Lord's policy, to spend the money of the country with a most doubtful result as to any good to life and property; and the policy which I think successive Governments and successive Parliaments have rightly arrived at, to spend no public money except such is advanced under the powers of the Public Works Loan Commission and the Act of 1861, and to make these harbours a national as well as commercial success. But, Sir, I fully admit with the noble Lord that the necessity for these harbours exists, though we may not agree as to where and how they are to be provided. I think that the terms of the Act of 1861, and of the Public Works Loan Commissioners also, are too confined and too stringent. I think that the old debts of these harbours should have some attention—on the Tees we have a new debt, which we are paying off principal and interest costing us 5 per cent per annum; and we have an old debt, borrowed from private parties, which costs us 4 to 4½ per cent, without any redemption being provided; it would cost the country nothing to take the old debt, so far as it applies to works which can be certified as needful and useful works, on the same terms as the more recent debt, the money both for the old debt and the new debt having been applied to identically the same works. Then, with regard to the Loan Commissioners. In the case of the Tees, in a recent case of application for further grants, they looked at the annual income as the only standard by which they were to settle the question of a further advance. They ignored the fact that the Commission of the Tees had a graving dock yielding revenue—had surplus lands —the extent of which I described—these they counted as no actual security for further advance. I would suggest that the Executive Government should have some discretion vested in them, as to the risk that the Public Works Loan Commissioners should run, in the case of these really national works. In conclusion, Sir, I think I must have said sufficient to prove that the noble Lord's Motion ought not to be supported by the House, and that it is much better to adopt that commercial and practical policy, which, has for so long been received by Parliament, of paying for these works by the trade of the country, instead of taking money out of the pockets of the taxpayers for the purpose of establishing what after all can only be considered a doubtful good.


said, he did not feel at all sanguine as to the success of the Motion of the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn. Unfortunately, for many years past, the subject now under discussion had been treated with considerable indifference by successive Governments, and the best proof which he could offer of the correctness of that view was that a considerable portion of last Session was employed in discussing a measure, the professed object of which was to save life at sea, in the course of which almost every possible cause of that loss was eliminated from the inquiry. The motion of the noble Lord was based on two grounds; the saving of life and property at sea by means of the construction of harbours of refuge on the East Coast, where no good harbour at present existed. There could be no doubt as to the value of such harbours, and that their construction would tend to the saving of life and property. Those who were most competent to deal with the subject had pointed out Filey as the best part of the coast for that purpose, but he looked upon that as a minor part of the question. The second object of the Motion was to provide a coaling harbour for the North Sea Fleet, and that was a point deserving of the most careful consideration. Reference had been made to the recent formation of new naval Powers. It was possible that we might find ourselves in collision with those Powers. Supposing such a contingency to occur as war between this country and either Russia or Germany, the whole of our Eastern seabeard, so far as regarded the coaling of ships and the repairing of our iron-clads, was unprovided for in the North Sea; and the whole of the coast, from Sheerness to the Frith of Forth, was without any efficient harbour for that purpose. That was a condition in which the country ought not to remain. Reference had been made to Dover Harbour; but those who were sanguine as to the completion of that harbour could not look forward to the completion for many years to come. It was not adapted to the purpose for which it was intended, and besides the site being objectionable, the cost would be so enormous that he doubted that it would ever be completed and placed in an efficient state for maritime warfare. The question under consideration was one of a very grave character, and one which ought to occupy the careful attention of the House and of the Government; and he thought they would act unwisely if they[...] rejected the terms of the Motion which had been submitted to their consideration by the noble Lord.


said, he could not be expected to accept the imputation that had been thrown out by the hon. Member for Norfolk (Mr. Ben-tin ck) that there was no hope of carrying the Motion because the Government were indifferent about the saving of life at sea. His impression was quite the reverse. There was, in fact, no subject which the present Government had so much taken under their own care as the saving of life at sea. The Motion itself had been introduced by his noble Friend the Member for Kings Lynn with his usual ability, and in a manner which had commanded the attention and sympathy of the House. His speech had, however, somewhat surprised him, because the noble Lord had taken a different line from that which he had adopted in former years, and for which he (Sir Charles Adderley) had hardly been pre- pared from the language of his Resolution. The hon. Member for Hastings (Mr. Brassey) had ably seconded the Motion, but in a totally different sense, The hon. Member must be regarded as perfectly conversant with the resources of private enterprize in maritime affairs, and he had just returned from circumnavigating the globe in his own ship, navigated by himself, who bore the highest certificates for seamanship; and he had accomplished his enterprize in a manner which not long ago would have placed his name upon our national history, and even now it reflected honour upon the spirit of this maritime country. The argument of the hon. Member for Hastings was that with which the Motion had always been introduced by the noble Lord for the last 10 years—namely, that the interests of the country demanded the establishment of a harbour of refuge on our North East Coast. The noble Lord first brought the subject of a harbour of refuge on the East Coast before the House in 1871, and again in 1873. The subject had, however, been before the House for 20 years, and had not only formed the topic of frequent debates, but had been referred to Select Committees and Royal Commissions. The House had, however, invariably declined to accept the proposition now before it. He believed, indeed, that Lord Palmerston's Government was once defeated on this question; but the result was, not that the Motion was carried into effect, but that an Act was passed by Lord Palmerston's Government which was accepted by the country and acted upon—namely, that the construction of harbours of refuge should never be undertaken by the Government, but that they could be made and maintained much more usefully and effectually by the mercantile interests themselves. In consequence, the Piers and Harbours Loans Act was passed, which offered loans in aid to mercantile bodies to improve, enlarge, and create new harbours on the coast. The House had heard something of the enormous success of that Act; and one of the very harbours recommended by the Royal Commission of 1867 had since been made by the mercantile interests concerned. Harbours at other important points on the East Coast had also been constructed by the mercantile interests in the same way, and very large sums had been expended with signal success under this Act. Did the House wish to reverse a policy so successful, and which had been adopted after so much debate? The Government had done something in this direction, but had it been so successful that the House could desire to see its operations extended? He was afraid not. He had himself seen the works at Alderney, which were begun at a time of panic and alarm. They were to be a check upon the works at Cherbourg; but they were a laughing-stock to the French nation, and all that could be done was to leave them to be gradually washed away, although they would remain a permanent record during the present generation against the principles of this Motion. He might go through other cases. He sympathized with the hon. Member for Dover (Mr. Freshfield) in the remarks he had made, but he was afraid the experience of Dover was not very encouraging. No doubt harbours of refuge were valuable—he only argued that it was much better to leave them to be made by mercantile bodies by the aid of Government loans. Suppose the Government made them, who was to maintain them ? It was far more easy to make than to repair and sustain them. What was the object of harbours of refuge ? It was two-fold—the protection of property and the saving of life. As far as the protection of property was concerned, no request had conic from the mercantile community for the protection of their property. If harbours of refuge were to be made for the saving of life, then they must be made all round the coast. If one were made at Filey at a cost of £1,000,000, would not every other place on the coast make a similar demand ? He did not know how many millions would be expended round the coast before every place was satisfied; nor did he see how the Government could decently get out of such undertakings if they ever embarked in them. When the noble Lord talked of the wealth along the East Coast he (Sir Charles Adderley) did not know that he had fortified his position, because that very wealth was able to do what was wanted so much better than the Government, and the interests concerned were certain moreover to do it if left to themselves. The hon. Member for Hastings had, indeed, spoken of the slack support given to the proposals of the noble Lord by the merchants on that coast; and that he (Sir Charles Adderley) looked upon as an additional reason why the Government should not take the work in hand. The proposition for making a harbour of refuge at Filey in particular could not be maintained, because Member after Member would get up to say that places in which they were interested had a prior claim. It was, however, a dangerous thing when the representatives of private interests came forward in that House to ask for grants of public money for local claims. The Reports of the Select Committees and Royal Commissions maintained that it was impossible to meet the claims for increased harbour accommodation by constructing works in any particular locality—they must be made all round the coast, and the difficulty was to settle where to begin. The noble Lord's Motion referred to the want of harbour accommodation, while his argument was this year directed to the want of a naval station. He (Sir Charles Adderley) was ready to admit that such a station might be valuable to the country; but, as the hon. Member for South Durham (Mr. Pease) had stated, it was not a question merely of building a harbour, but also of providing other necessaries to make the station sufficient for the purpose. If the station was wanted only in order that a squadron might run to it in case of stormy weather, then, perhaps, the million of money might be well spent. But he doubted whether it would be wise to spend so much. The Downs were not so very far off; and even supposing that they were not so available as Filey, it was a great question whether the House would sanction the outlay on Filey. The only other object would be for coaling. That, no doubt, was a most important part of naval warfare, and for that purpose the station might, perhaps, be most useful; but if it was also to be made available for stores, a very much larger outlay would be necessary. If the word " station " were taken in its fullest sense, he thought that the money might be much more wisely spent elsewhere; but so far as the proposal was a repetition of one made for several years past simply for a harbour of refuge, he thought he had shown sufficient reasons against the Motion.


remarked that it was very satisfactory for the harbour authorities on the North East Coast to hear the approval of the President of the Board of Trade of the services they had rendered in providing refuge accommodation. While the Government in these debates successfully resisted the expenditure of public money on a single refuge harbour on the ground that the true policy was that of aiding existing harbours by public loans at a low rate of interest, their good intentions were defeated by the stringent way in which the Public Works Loan Commissioners carried out the Harbour Loans Act of 1861. Government loans were always granted on the recommendation of some public Department; thus a loan for sanitary improvements required the recommendation of the Local Government Board; one for school buildings that of the Education Department; and, in like manner, harbour loans must be recommended by the Board of Trade. But the Commissioners entirely disregarded such recommendations when they thought proper, and thus the good intentions of Parliament and the Government were defeated. In their Tyne works, for instance, their piers and harbour improvements had cost upwards of £2,000,000, aided by Government loans to the extent of only £356,000, and last year's Report of the Commission showed that they only granted £70,000 on loan to two harbours, one in Scotland and the other in the Isle of Man. Under the Public Works Loans Act of 1875 the former appeal to the Treasury was taken away, and the harbour authorities were now in a worse condition in this respect than before. He did not question the right of the Commission to decide on questions of security for their loans; but he complained of their policy of refusing harbour loans in cases which were clearly intended by Parliament to be thus aided.


said, that as a serious attack had been made by the hon. Member for South Shields on the Public Works Loan Commissioners, and their judgment had been called in question in a very decided manner, he begged to be allowed, as one of their body, to offer a short defence of their proceedings. He had been much alarmed by the speech of the hon. Member for South Durham (Mr. Pease), because he had proposed to throw upon the Commissioners a greater responsibility than they could undertake. The hon. Member said that the Commissioners took too stringent a view of their powers under the Act; but that was a groundless assertion. Certainly they had to guard the public interests, and to see that money lent was not lost; their powers did not enable them to make advances to mercantile undertakings as such, but to facilitate the making of harbours throughout the country; and it was quite clear that Parliament never intended to favour any particular class of mercantile undertakings. It was the duty of the Commissioners, when applications were made to them, to exercise their discretion; and it was because they had exercised that discretion that the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Stevenson) complained of them. If the Commissioners were to make advances to harbour authorities, simply as commercial undertakings, they might as well make them to railway companies and similar undertakings, which were equally for the benefit of the public. The Commissioners had to guard the interests of the public purse by seeing that the advances they made were likely to be repaid. [Mr. PEASE said, he had not wished to throw any responsibility on the Public Works Loan Commissioners, but on the Executive Government.] If the Commissioners were to be ordered by the Executive Government to make advances it would be less trouble for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to draw a cheque upon the Bank of England at once. If it was in the power of the Commissioners to make advances, and it could be shown that the security was sufficient, they would always make them; but their view of the value of a security might be wholly different from that of applicants, who could not be taken at their own valuation. As to making advances on the security of tolls, the Commissioners could not take into account the prospective value of a port not created, which might not rise with the rapidity anticipated. The applications which the Commissioners rejected were for grants in favour of speculative undertakings, for the benefit of the trade of particular districts which could not offer sufficiently good security. Where the security was good money could always be obtained even in the open market, though perhaps at higher rates. He (Mr. Vivian), like the hon. Member for South Durham, was a trustee of one of the most important harbours in this country, and had carried out very large works indeed. They had borrowed £500,000 for that purpose, and were now borrowing £300,000 more; but they had never found any difficulty in the matter. So long as harbour authorities had substantial property to offer as security they could borrow money in the ordinary money markets at commercial rates of interest if their securities were good, or from the Commissioners if their case was good. No advances had given the Commissioners more anxiety than those they had made to harbour authorities, and Parliament must be careful before it cast upon them further responsibility in this direction. The Public Works Loan Commissioners had discharged the duties cast upon them by Parliament honestly, to the best of their ability, and with a proper and wise discretion; and he was certain that whenever they felt competent to advance money they had done so, to the extent they thought themselves warranted in going; but when they were asked to take prospective profits and returns as security, they felt that their duty to the public required them to reject such proposals.


thought his hon. Friend the Member for Hastings (Mr. Brassey) was a little too hard upon shipowners. No shipowner had yet had the opportunity of taking part in the debate; but he (Mr. Mac Iver) had from the first been wishful to support the Motion, precisely on the grounds so well urged by the hon. Member for Hastings. He did not regard it as a commercial question at all. It was the case, rather, of poor men against richer men; of small coasting vessels against railways and steamships, and against the powerful interests represented by the last speaker. Any increase in the number of harbours of refuge on the East Coast, or elsewhere, would, no doubt, affect prejudicially certain commercial harbours; and that partly explained some of the opposition to this Motion. The argument of his hon. Friend the Member for South Durham (Mr. Pease) was an extraordinary one. That hon. Member pleaded that private enterprize was already doing most valuable work in improving existing harbours, and in providing harbours of refuge, with which it would be wrong to interfere; and the next minute he (Mr. Pease) produced figures intended to show that, after all, there was very little loss of life which harbours of refuge could prevent. That kind of argument was inconsistent with itself, and he would not attempt to reconcile the hon. Member's figures with those given by the noble Lord who moved the Resolution; but he (Mr. Mac Iver) remembered perfectly well certain official records published by the Board of Trade —the Wreck Charts — and that those showed an enormous number of casualties on the North-East Coasts. He (Mr. Mac Iver) thought those casualties were mostly to small coasters, and that they did not arise from unseaworthiness, as many people supposed, but that they were due rather to the inherent dangers of the trade; and that those were dangers which harbours of refuge would do a great deal to remove. At present—not merely at Filey but on other parts of the coast—there was no place where small vessels caught in a sudden gale could run to, and there were many sad disasters in consequence. He had listened to the speech of the President of the Board of Trade with much regret, because he knew how sincerely that right hon. Gentleman desired to do what was right in everything; but he felt that the right hon. Gentleman was still following the mistaken path of his Predecessors in office. He (Mr. Mac Iver) thought that Lord Carling-ford and Mr. Milner Gibson were neither of them safe guides to follow in matters relating to shipping. The Board of Trade view of the position was quite untenable. Harbours of refuge would never be provided by the commercial interests, simply because the interests of the great and influential traders lay in the contrary direction; but the nation had an interest in the question, and it was he (Mr. Mac Iver) thought of national importance that the small coasters should be encouraged. They were almost the only vessels which really trained seamen, and trained seamen were every day becoming scarcer as compared with the number of people calling themselves sailors. In conclusion, he desired to say a word on the naval part of the question. The noble Lord was, he (Mr. Mac Iver) believed, quite accurate in stating that the fast ships in the Navy were, many of them, unable to carry coal for more than a few days' burning at full speed. But at a moderate speed the same coal would last much longer, and as regarded. the Alexandra—the particular vessel instanced by the noble Lord—she, he (Mr. Mac Iver) thought, was furnished with what all the fast ships of war ought to have —namely, auxiliary engines—" turning engines," as they were called—which would propel the vessel at moderate speed for cruising purposes on comparatively trifling fuel consumption. But even with arrangements of this kind in all the ships, a harbour of refuge at Filey would not be without advantage as a naval coaling station; and, therefore, on every ground he desired cordially to support the Motion.


said, he thought the hon. Gentleman the Member for Glamorganshire (Mr. Hussey Vivian) had entirely misapprehended the purport of the observations made by his hon. Friends the Members for South Durham (Mr. Pease) and South Shields (Mr. Stevenson), with reference to the operations of the Public Works Loan Commissioners, and the mariner in which they had discharged their highly important and responsible duties. There was a general opinion amongst those acquainted with the subject that the Commissioners took a somewhat narrow and contracted view of the powers conferred upon them by Parliament. His hon. Friend the Member for Glamorganshire had spoken of the Harbours and Passing Tolls Act, 1861, as if it had reference solely and exclusively to works of refuge, but he (Mr. Dodds) took the liberty of saying that that was an entire misapprehension, as his hon. Friend would admit if he would carefully read and consider the Act itself. The fact was that the words " harbours of refuge " did not occur in the Act at all, and that what the Commissioners might make advances for were constructing, improving, maintaining, or lighting any public harbour, or for carrying into effect any other shipping purpose. Now, those words, as the House would observe, were of a very general and comprehensive character, and he (Mr. Dodds) thought admitted of a much wider interpretation than the Public Works Loan Commissioners in many cases had put upon them. It was clearly laid down, however, by the Act that loans could only be made for a public harbour, and the contemplated. works must be works of a public character. His hon. Friend, therefore, could not properly compare harbour authorities desiring to obtain loans with railway companies or canal companies. No doubt in these cases, as in the case of public harbours, the works contemplated might be of public utility and general convenience; but the primary object of the railway companies and canal companies was to benefit the shareholders, and their undertakings consequently stood upon a very different footing from public harbours, where no personal interests were involved in promoting their construction or improvement. He might illustrate the views of his hon. Friends near him as to the course taken by the Public Works Loan Commissioners by what had occurred in the case of the Tees Conservancy Commissioners with reference to their graving dock. These gentlemen had been urged to construct a graving dock, which was much required for the purposes of the trade, and, not least, for vessels that had. suffered damage and sought refuge in the Tees, and they resolved to construct such a dock; and they applied to the Public Works Loan Commissioners to lend them the needful amount—about £30,000. To their astonishment, however, the Commissioners held that a loan for the construction of a graving dock—which he confessed seemed clearly to be a shipping purpose within the very words of the Act—could not be entertained, and was not within the powers conferred upon them by Parliament. Cases somewhat similar had occurred elsewhere. He (Mr. Dodds) had no doubt the Public Works Loan Commissioners had been advised, and had given their careful consideration to the subject, and had bonâ fide arrived at the conclusion they had expressed; but he Mr. Dodds) and other Gentlemen interested had also considered the Act, and thought the Commissioners did possess power to make advances for such purposes, and hence the remarks of his hon. Friends near him. Then, again, the Public Works Loan Commissioners appeared to act upon the principle that they must only accept a security based upon actual surplus income, disregarding altogether other assets and property of the borrowers. Acting upon this principle, they appeared in the case of the Tees to disregard altogether valuable land actually reclaimed, and dredgers and other plant of great value, simply because these did not yield annual revenue. This, again, he and his hon. Friends near him thought, was a contracted and erroneous view; but in expressing these opinions they must not be understood as reflecting in the smallest degree upon the integrity of the Public Works Loan Commissioners, simply because they (the harbour authorities) thought they would have been justified in taking a more liberal view of the situation, and of the powers with which they had been clothed by Parliament. Then the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for South Durham concluded by a suggestion that amendments were required in the Harbours and Passing Tolls Acts, and he would, with the permission of the House, beg to refer to these before discussing the more immediate object of the Motion of the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn. The Act at present only authorized loans for future expenditure; but he (Mr. Dodds) was decidedly of opinion that where works of a public and useful character had been constructed, and debts had been contracted in respect thereof, power should be given to re-borrow such moneys from the Public Works Loan Commissioners at a moderate rate of interest. He entirely approved of the policy of the Act that no advances should be made except for public harbours and for works of public utility. The requirement of the approval of the Board of Trade was also very reasonable and proper, and one in which harbour authorities very readily acquiesced. Then the Act provided that in respect of advances not exceeding £100,000 the rate of interest should be 3¼ per cent, but for sums in excess of £100,000 such higher rate of interest not exceeding 5 per cent as the Commissioners might determine. Now, seeing that the money was required for public harbours of public utility, he could not understand why the State should be placed in the position of making a profit out of loans for such purposes, and one of the Amendments he would suggest in the Bill was to limit the rate of interest to such an amount as would recoup to the State the sum advanced with interest without any loss. Then the Act required that all moneys borrowed should be repaid within the period of 50 years, and usually the repayment commenced at the expiration of six months from the date of the advance. The consequence of this was, that in many cases repayment began long before the work was completed, and before any possible advantage could be derived from it; and in cases where money was being expended on a breakwater, as at the entrance of the Tees, a work that would last for centuries, it was a little hard that repayment should commence at the end of six months, and that the whole should be repaid in 50 years. He would, therefore, suggest that money expended upon works of that kind, and others of a very permanent character, should be repaid over an extended period, and that repayment should not commence until the works were completely executed and benefit derived from them. These were some of the most important Amendments which he would suggest for the consideration of Her Majesty's Government whom he knew were giving the subject attention. With regard to the noble Lord's Motion, he (Mr. Dodds) expressed the general feeling of hon. Gentlemen connected with the North East Coast of England when he said that they all most heartily sympathized. with him in his most praiseworthy object, that of saving life and property at sea, and they only differed with him because they believed that the establishment of a large harbour of refuge at Filey, at a cost to the nation of upwards of £1,000,000, would not in any effectual degree promote that object. The noble Lord had brought the subject forward again with his accustomed ability; but in common with other speakers, he (Mr. Dodds) must be permitted to express his astonishment at the line of argument the noble Lord had on that occasion adopted, and which differed so materially from the course he had pursued on former occasions when he had brought this subject under the consideration of that House. He had on this occasion argued the question in connection, first, with a great naval harbour, and next with reference to the saving of life and property at sea; and it was with reference mainly to this aspect of the case that the Motion was seconded and supported by his (Mr. Dodd's) hon. Friend the Member for Hastings (Mr. Brassey). Now, he would trouble the House but very briefly with reference to the first of the objects of the noble Lord—namely, the establishment of a great naval harbour. Whenever that subject was really brought seriously under the consideration of that House, and the House was asked to express an opinion upon it, the noble Lord would find that even for such a purpose Filey Bay did not afford the most suitable site. The noble Lord had urged as reasons for establishing such a naval harbour, the unprotected condition of the great commercial towns and ports of the North East Coast of England, embracing those within the Tees, Wear, and Tyne, and the Hartlepools; and he had quoted statistics showing the magnitude and importance of their trade and commerce, which must have greatly astonished those who heard them and who were not already well acquainted with the facts of the case. But surely, if these most important districts and great commercial emporiums required to be protected by a great naval harbour, it would be a most unwise proceeding to construct such a harbour at such a distance as would render it practically valueless for such a purpose, and the House must remember that Filey Bay was 60 miles from the nearest (the ports of the Tees), and about 100 miles from the ports of the Tyne, which were the most distant of the places to which it was argued protection ought to be afforded. And now he would beg to refer, as briefly as possible, to the other and principal object of the noble Lord, and that upon which he had on previous occasions mainly insisted—namely, the saving of life and property at sea. He (Mr. Dodds) did not often address the House, and should not do so at any length on the present occasion; but he was thoroughly conversant with the subject, and must ask the indulgence of the House whilst he made the few observations he desired. He was, perhaps, the only Member of the House who, in 1858, attended several of the sittings of the Royal Commissioners at Tynemouth, Hartlepool, Redcar, and elsewhere, and who gave evidence before them, and he had been, and was, thoroughly conversant with all that had since transpired on the subject. He was by these means enabled to speak on the subject from his own recollection and experience, and without the necessity for troubling the House by quoting extracts from Blue Books. Now, with regard to Filey, it was an undoubted fact that the recommendation of Filey was one that was not only not generally acquiesced in at the time, but, on the contrary, was very generally condemned and disapproved of by the leading shipping authorities of the ports principally interested—namely, the ports of Tees, Wear and Tyne, and the Hartle-pools. And he took leave to say, notwithstanding what fell from one hon. Member in the debate, that these gentlemen not merely understood their own interests and the requirements of their district, but that they were fully sensible of their duty to those in their employment, and by no means slow to discharge it. But had the case of Filey been a strong one in 1858, instead of the weak and shadowy one it then, in the opinion of most competent persons, was, he submitted that the circumstances had in the meantime totally changed in many most important particulars, and that, had there been any necessity for such a harbour in 1858, such necessity no longer existed. In the first place, during the period that had since elapsed a complete revolution had been effected in the carrying shipping trade of the United Kingdom. In 1858 the greater part of the trade was conducted by sailing vessels alone, and there were comparatively few steamers. Since that time there had been a gradual and progressive increase of screw steamers, and those principally of a large class. The screw colliers from the northern ports were constantly increasing in number, whilst the old tub colliers were gradually, but surely, disappearing from the face of the ocean. In their Report of 1859 the Royal Commissioners stated that they frequently heard of 700 vessels being at anchor in Bridlington Bay at one time, and that many hundreds of vessels were not unfrequently seen together from Flamberough Head. The evidence of 1858 clearly showed that Bridlington Bay was one of the largest and best anchorage grounds on the shores of Great Britain, and that nearly 1,000 sail of coasting vessels could ride there at one time. But that state of things was now entirely changed. They might stand for a day on the summit of the lighthouse at Flamberough Head, or on Speeton Cliffs, and never see half the number of wind-bound ships that used to be seen in, and prior to, 1858. The old colliers to which he had referred, when caught in a gale, sought such shelter as Bridlington Bay or Filey Bay afforded; but the screw steamers of the present day, when overtaken by a gale, rarely sought shelter, being almost independent of wind, and able to reach their ports in safety in a few hours. That fact—namely, the gradual and pro- gressive supersession of wooden colliers by screw steamers—formed, independently of other considerations, a substantial and, he thought, conclusive and sufficient reason why the recommendation of 1859 as to Filey should not be acted upon. The noble Lord, in his very able speech, had himself admitted that a considerable change had taken place in the carrying shipping trade of the country, and he had given statistics from the Board of Trade Returns, but those referred to the United Kingdom, and not to England alone. He (Mr. Dodds) begged to quote from the annual statement of Trade and Navigation for England a few figures for the years 1859 and 1875. He did not propose to trouble the House with any elaborate detail, but merely with the aggregate results. In 1859 the number of sailing vessels under 50 tons was 7,004, of the aggregate tonnage of 218,543 tons, whilst in 1875 the number had diminished to 6,505, and the tonnage to 208,987; a total decrease of 469 in ships, and in tonnage of 9,586. above 50 tons the number of sailing vessels in 1859 was 12,814, and the tonnage 3,153,777, whilst in 1875 the number had diminished to 10,144, and the tonnage to 3,005,914 tons, being a decrease in number of 2,370 and in tonnage of 147,763. The aggregate number of sailing vessels in 1859 was 19,078, and the tonnage 3,372,320, whilst in 1875 the number was 166,491, and the tonnage 3,214,871, the aggregate decrease in number being 2,929, and in tonnage 187,499 tons. With regard to steam vessels, there were in 1859 654 under 50 tons, with a tonnage of 1,469, whilst in 1875 they had increased to 971, with a tonnage of 20,247, an increase in number of over 50 per cent, and an increase in tonnage of nearly 40 per cent. The most marked increase was, however, on the larger class of steam vessels, the number above 50 tons in 1859 being 800, with an aggregate tonnage of 307,286 tons, whilst in 1875 the number had increased to 2,174, and the tonnage to 1,457,134. The total tonnage of steam vessels had thus increased from 321,479 tons in 1859 to 147,381 in 1875, something like between 400 and 500 per cent. These figures, in his (Mr. Dodd's) opinion, were entirely conclusive. The Returns for 1876 were not yet published, but they would show a progressive increase in steam and decrease in sailing vessels; and everyone practically conversant with the subject must confess that the tendency was more and more in that direction day by day. But the strongest and most powerful argument against constructing a harbour of refuge at Filey at the present time was afforded by what had been done by the various harbour authorities. His hon. Friend the Member for South Durham had already spoken fully and truly of the successful efforts of the Tyne Conservancy Commissioners, and he had likewise referred to what had been done at the Hartlepools and the Tees. He (Mr. Dodds) could fully endorse all his hon. Friends (Mr. Peaso and Mr. Stevenson) had said with reference to those matters, and he would add that the Wear had also been very greatly improved; but he should like to trouble the House for a few moments with some further details respecting the condition of the River Tees, with which, from his official connection with it and its governing body, he was necessarily best acquainted —when, before the Commissioners in 1858, the local harbour authorities of the North—the Tyne, Wear, Tees, &c.—opposed the construction of a large harbour of refuge at Filey, and declared themselves in favour of the improvement of existing harbours. For the reasons he had already given, he did not trouble the House by quotations from the evidence, the general effect of which was what he had just stated. At that time the harbour authorities of the North indicated the course they intended to pursue, and since 1858 they had not been idle; and they were now able to point, and point with legitimate pride, to the result of their prognostications and of their labours, and from the past to augur hopefully of what would be eventually realized from their further operations. Much had already been done by these several harbour authorities; but very much yet remained to be done, and in their efforts they had strong claims upon Her Majesty's Government. With regard to the capability of the Tees as a harbour of refuge, his hon. Friend (Mr. Pease) had already spoken. When the Royal Commissioners presented their Report, the minimum depth of water upon the bar was between three and four feet, and the consequence was that at certain times of the tide no vessel whatever could enter the Tees, either for refuge or otherwise. In addition to this, the estuary at this time was nearly four miles wide, and consisted mainly of broken water spread over the sand banks called North and South Gares. Now, by the construction of the breakwater, already considerably advanced, that width had been greatly reduced, and eventually the four miles of shoal water, which could only be approached with an almost certainty of loss of life and property, would become a fixed channel half a mile wide, with a minimum depth of water at the present time of nearly 15 feet at dead low water. They never had less than about 15 feet of water now, and that only for four hours out of the 24; whilst for other four hours there was a depth of 20 feet, for other four hours at least 25 feet, and for the remainder of the 24 hours from 25 to 30 feet. His hon. Friend the Member for Hastings (Mr. Brassey), in seconding the Motion of the noble Lord, had said that he supported it for the protection of the small class of sailing vessels, and he quoted figures which he (Mr. Dodds) confessed somewhat surprised him. Knowing how accurate his hon. Friend was, and how great was his authority on every matter connected with shipping, he readily, however, accepted the figures lie had quoted. His statement was that the number of sailing vessels in the United Kingdom under 200 tons burden was 10,000, employing 35,000 men; whilst the number above 200 tons was only 176, employing 1,300 men. He accepted these figures as given by his hon. Friend, who had since privately admitted to him that the 10,000 vessels under 200 tons burden would have a draught of water averaging about 10 feet. What, then, was the result ? Why, that everyone of these small vessels to which his hon. Friend had referred, and for the protection of which his hon. Friend supported the noble Lord's Motion, could enter the Tees on every day in the year, and at all times of the tide, even at dead low water. [Mr. BRASSEY: But what would be the result in the case of an on-shore gale ?] Why, that even in an on-shore gale, unless, indeed, in very exceptional circumstances, everyone of the vessels in question could run into the Tees, and anchor in the most perfect safety ! He had no doubt whatever that nearly all the larger vessels to which his hon. Friend referred could also, during the greater part of the 24 hours, enter and leave the Tees in perfect safety. He (Mr. Dodds) could not help feeling that had his hon. Friend been aware of the facts, he would have felt that the case of the noble Lord for a harbour of refuge at Filey had been anticipated by operations such as those of the Tees Conservancy Commissioners. With all these changes that had taken place, and seeing that everything possible was being done by the local harbour authorities for the protection of shipping on the North East Coast, he thought the noble Lord must feel that the time had come when, so far as the saving of life and property connected with sailing vessels was concerned, the advocacy of a general harbour of refuge at Filey Bay had become unnecessary; and if the question of a great naval harbour were brought forward, it must be advocated on different grounds from those which had ever been put forward by the noble Lord and his supporters. He thought, with the facts he and others had given before it, the House would be slow to adopt the Motion of the noble Lord; and whilst sympathizing with him entirely in the objects sought to be accomplished, he dissented entirely from his proposed mode of dealing with them, and trusted that the House would reject the Motion by a decisive majority.


I rise to support the proposed Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for South Durham (Mr. Pease). The noble Lord opposite (Lord Claud Hamilton) stated that there was not a single piece of modern ordnance mounted on the East Coast of England between Harwich and the Firth of Forth; but you have on that coast what is far more effective for its defence—namely, a coast which is almost inaccessible to ships of war of large tonnage, protected as it is by numerous sandbanks, which fringe the coast for almost the entire distance between the Firth of Forth and the mouth of the Thames—so that a few torpedoes put down here and there would make it unassailable by any enemy. I do not, therefore, think that any Government would entertain the idea of having a naval station on that coast. As regards a harbour of refuge, it has been shown by the hon. Member for Stockton (Mr. Dodds)—and I endorse his statement—that the coasting trade of this country is rapidly changing; and instead of its being carried on by vessels of small tonnage, screw steam-vessels are taking their place, and will ultimately supersede them altogether, and this description of vessel does not require the protection of harbours of refuge. For the reasons I have given, I cordially support the Amendment which the hon. Member for South Durham has placed on the Paper.


said, that he accepted the challenge of his hon. Friend the Member for Falmouth (Mr. D. Jenkins). He (Captain Pim) had had exceptional experience on our North-East coast; having been stationed in the Tyne as senior naval officer he thought he knew the coast pretty well, and of this he was certain—that from the Firth of Forth to the Humber there was not a single harbour where an iron-clad could coal. Now, it was well-known that our iron-dads could not sail in company with safety, and could not beat off a lee shore, much less blockade an enemy's coast; our very best naval officers agreed that they could not be relied upon at all under sail; it was clear, therefore, that they were of use only under steam, and if that were so they must have coal. Some of these useless vessels required eight or nine tons of coal an hour, and in the event of war would have to be filled up with coal very frequently. Now, he repeated that there was not a single place where an iron-clad could coal from the Firth of Forth to the Humber, and if our iron-dads had to cruise in the North Sea such a port would be absolutely necessary. He was surprised to hear the Downs spoken of for such a purpose, for an active enemy in the absence of our ships from the North Sea could with ease destroy millions worth of property in 24 hours. Surely such a state of affairs deserved serious consideration, and he should therefore cordially support the Motion of the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Claud Hamilton).


Mr. Speaker, every hon. Member of this House, interested in harbour improvements, may vote for the Motion of the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Claud Hamilton)— That, in the opinion of this House, the unprotected condition of the North East Coast, as regards Harbour Accommodation, demands the serious consideration of Her Majesty's Government. To this I cordially assent, extending it to the whole coasts of the United Kingdom. But the noble Lord's speech restricts the proposition to harbour operations at Filey, as a station for a great naval harbour. No doubt its intended capacity and its proposed depth of water admit of its being used as a refuge; but the conditions involved in a military harbour are very wide. Moreover, the unfavourable results of the inquiry, as to the suitableness of Dover as a naval harbour, render it necessary to pause before accepting the assertion that Filey is suitable for a central harbour. No doubt, the Select Committee of this House (of 1857 and 1858) on Harbours, did recommend Filey, stating that "it merits further investigation." It is, however, admitted to be suitable for a fishery station, a good fishing ground extends on each side, 30 miles north and south. The Dogger Bank is from 30 to 35 miles distant from the coast, and still affords a good supply of fish. Between this bank and the coast, shoals of herrings pass. If a harbour could be constructed at Filey, at a moderate outlay, to allow of fishing beats running to it for refuge, the money might be advantageously laid out. It is also known that the Royal Commission on Harbours also named Filey as a suitable site for a refuge harbour, and advised an expenditure on its construction of £800,000, as a Government grant. But further inquiries are necessary before incurring any liabilities for this larger work. The North Sea Pilot states that— Filey flay has often been spoken of as a site for a harbour of refuge, it having in the 'brig' a breakwater half formed, but the bay is too shallow for any but small vessels," and "that no vessels should remain in it with the wind to eastward of north-north-east. The harbour suitable for that site is, therefore, one that would be adapted for the largest of our fishing vessels. The President of the Board of Trade states that the raising of funds for harbour constructions should be left to private enterprize, supplemented by Government loans. But he forgets that the Acts of Parliament limit the powers of the Public Works Loan Commissioners to loans on good securities, and these powers are further narrowed by their interpretation. Even this limited aid would not, however, be available for Filey; which, like many other sites has, at present, no securities to pledge for the loan. We have listened this evening with great interest to the glowing, but truthful description of the vast improvements carried out and still in progress in the Rivers Tyne and Tees. Great approval has also been expressed by the President of the Board of Trade, of the spirit of intelligent enterprize, and the self-reliance shown by these communities, in providing the funds necessary for executing these great works. But these improvements have largely developed extensive resources of wealth, and enlarged our manufacturing industries connected with coal and iron. Without these aids, the money that has so wisely been spent, could never have been furnished. It is for poor localities that the aid of Government is mainly needed. Moreover, these river improvements are very different from the works so much required on our exposed coasts. The kind of skill and knowledge needed for improving tidal harbours differs very considerably from that needed for coast harbours. Also, whilst river improvements may on the whole be said to have been successful, the attempts to form harbours on our exposed coasts have either been complete failures, or have fallen short of expected results. In a few days hon. Members will receive a Return of all moneys expended on coast harbours since the first year of this century. Out of about £10,000,000 of public money spent by Government, there are but few coast harbours either made, or usefully improved. I urge Government, before deciding on Filey, or on any other sites, to obtain reliable information, not only as to the suitableness of the localities, but also as to the best designs for harbours, and as to the details of construction—these last two inquiries being extended not only to the United Kingdom, but to foreign countries—and to include not only successful, but also unsuccessful works, of which there are so many examples on our own coasts. The great North Sea Harbour of Holland is an example of success that merits the special attention of our statesmen and merchants. This harbour, with its inland canal of 15 miles, converts the inland town of Amsterdam, already a great and wealthy financial centre, into a great sea-port, and a vast commercial emporium, not only for Holland, but for the Rhenish provinces of Germany, and as soon as the St. Gothard Railway is completed, even for Italy. This harbour is formed on the Dutch sandy shore, exposed to the full force of the winds and the waves of the German Ocean. There are few localities on our own coast more unpromising; and yet the harbour has been successfully completed, at the cost of about £1,500,000—less than has been wasted on several of our failures. The designs for the harbour, prepared by the Dutch engineers, were modified skilfully by Sir John Hawkshaw; to this modification, aided by the skill of Mr. Gregory Hutton, the executive engineer under the contractors, Messrs. Lee and Sons, the successful results are mainly attributable. The harbour design is simple; it has an area of about 300 acres, with a possible depth of water of nearly 27 feet throughout. The piers extend from the sandy shore into the sea, to a distance of 1,500 yards; are nearly parallel for a length of 1,200 yards, gradually closing in, until the mouth is only 280 yards wide, but terminating in the open sea, in a depth of 28 feet of water. Through this narrowed entrance the ocean waves roll in unbroken, and lose force so entirely by expansions within the wide area of the harbour that the water at the mouth of the canal which joins the harbour is perfectly smooth. Through this canal channel the largest vessels proceed to Amsterdam, where further changes are in progress, to meet the requirements of the expected extension of shipping and trade. We have nothing on our coasts to compare with this grand Dutch enter-prize, and yet our shipping interests have greatly extended since the inquiry into our harbour wants by the Select Committee of 1857. In that year, the tonnage of vessels cleared and entered amounted to 23,000,000 tons, and in 1875 to 46,000,000. The tonnage of the coasting trade was in the former period, 27,000,000 tons; in 1875 it had increased to 39,000,000. The tonnage of vessels, steam and sailing, built and first registered in 1857, was 250,472 tons, and in 1875 as much as 420,551 tons. The men employed in 1857, exclusive of masters, were 176,387 in number, and 199,667 in 1875. It was mainly on the ground of the large increase in tonnage and sailors in 1857, as compared with those of 15 years previously, that the Select Committee of 1857 based their recommendation for the improvement of harbours, and for the Government to make a free grant of £2,000,000 to aid in their construction. The Royal Commission in 1859 advised this grant to be increased to £2,363,000, for some harbours as entire contributions, and for others, in aid of local contributions to be raised to the extent of £1,625,000. Nearly 20 years have passed since then, but not a fraction has yet been given. The powers of the Loan Commissioners were, consequent on these recommendations, specially enlarged, under the Harbour and Passing Tolls Act of 1861, to aid by loans the construction and improvement of harbours. But in the course of 16 years the Commissioners have actually lent less than the grant—that is, only a little above £2,000,000. Even of this capital a portion has already been repaid, with interest in full, for the entire loan. Not a fraction has been struck off as lost. The Government have, however, benefited, having received interest at higher rates than paid for the money so lent. The hon. Members for Stockton and South Shields have pointed out the strict views taken by the Loan Commissioners as to the securities for loans. The expenditure on these rivers, the Tyne and Tees, for all shipping purposes, may be rated at nearly £4,000,000. But the loans of public money at high interest, granted for these useful improvements, have only formed a small fraction of this outlay. With such limitations of loans to river works in these great centres of industry, there can be but little hope of loans for the poorer districts, of which there are so many in Scotland and Ireland. These are destitute of all the wealthy resources which are found in the neighbourhood of the Tyne, the Tees, and the Wear. There are many suitable sites for coast harbours, where aid from Government is needed. For instance, in the county I have the honour to represent, there is the Stonehaven Bay admirably adapted for a great national harbour. A large sum of money would, however, be required for its construction. But this part of the coast is urgently in need of a refuge, and a harbour suited for our largest vessels of war. The site is also admirably adapted for a large fishery harbour. At a distance from the coast, of 30 to 90 miles from Stonehaven, there are the well-stocked Mar Bank and shoals, on which the fishing is certain, and the supplies are abundant. Between the coasts and these banks, shoals of herrings invariably pass. If the fishing vessels could remain at sea, or risk exposure for a few hours—indeed with certainty of finding a refuge on the lee shore against the easterly gales, which come on suddenly—the profitable results of the fishery would be great. The full development of these fisheries would open up a vast source of wealth thereby increasing our supplies of food, and raising up a number of the hardiest class of fishermen — one of our greatest wants. The funds for providing this harbour and for many other harbours, can at present only be obtained by making the locality contribute, or by public grants or by the loan of money by Government. The localities might aid in supplying funds, if the recommendations of the Royal Commissioners were carried out. That Commission advised the Government to secure for the public the increased value given to the land in the immediate vicinity, by the construction of harbours. In some localities, where harbours have been a success, the owners of land have greatly benefited by their land being in request for business purposes, and the profits are still on the increase. This is a form of national wealth which may as justly be directly taxed, as the coal and iron now exported from the Tyne and Tees are now indirectly taxed, for the improvement of these rivers. Aided by this as yet neglected resource, and with some degree of certainty—which a Government inquiry could alone ensure—that the engineering designs, and the details of construction, can be better relied on in the future than in the past, there peed be no hesitation in laying out many millions for those harbour works, which this country so urgently needs, in order to enable it to sustain the dangerous competition which our commerce has now to dread from foreign countries.


said, he thought that while the House would share his opinion that the noble Lord (Lord Claud Hamilton) had most ably discharged the duty he had for some time made peculiarly his own, and had done good service in calling attention to this very important subject, at the same time many hon. Members would feel, notwithstanding the able discussion to which they had listened, that there was scarcely any clear issue presented to them on this occasion. Undoubtedly various questions of an important character had been raised; but it was difficult to say, if the Government were to support the Motion of the noble Lord, what the precise effect of their vote would be. It had been very justly remarked that the noble Lord had on this occasion somewhat changed the issue which he had raised on former occasions, and which the Government from the terms of his Motion, and recollecting what had previously taken place, expected he would have raised again this evening. But the noble Lord on this occasion had said very little on the importance of Filey at a harbour of refuge, but had raised the wide and important question of a harbour for the purposes of defence. The latter subject was one which was of so large a character and involved so many important questions that it was hardly reasonable to expect that the House or the Government should express an opinion with regard to it without further time for consideration. The hon. Member for Dover (Mr. Fresh-field) had very properly pointed out that another question of a naval harbour had been for some time before the country, and that if the relative importance of a naval station was raised, the claims of other places, such as that of Dover, to be selected for that purpose would have to be taken into consideration before it was determined to create it at Filey. There was a great deal to be said in preference of Dover, if it came to a comparison of the two cases, on account of its fortified position, its proximity to the great channel of commerce, and other claims to consideration; but pressure upon the Government for the defence of the country and the maintenance of our military and naval strength was so great that they had felt themselves compelled reluctantly to prefer other objects at the present time to the promotion of the harbour of Dover. Well, then, in connection with this subject they had had the question raised by the hon. Member for South Durham—whether more was not to be done by going on with those works which had been carried on with such very great success in the Tyne, the Tees, and other ports in the North of England, and connected with that was the further question—whether the Public Works Commissioners were already giving all the assistance they should give to the promotion of those works. These questions were under the consideration of the Government, but he was not prepared to pronounce an opinion without further inquiry. In these circumstances, the Government felt they should hardly know in what position they stood if they were to go into the questions raised by the noble Lord on the one side and by hon. Gentlemen on the other; and perhaps the best and simplest course for the House was to leave aside these questions and accept the Motion for going into Committee of Supply. He could assure the House that the matter was one which had not at all escaped the attention of the Government, but, on the contrary, was at all times under their consideration.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes 99; Noes 28: Majority 71.—(Div. List, No. 146.)

Main Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."