HC Deb 17 June 1878 vol 240 cc1608-9

asked the President of the Board of Trade, If he would state why the Petition of the British Seamen's Society referred to the Select Committee on the Merchant Shipping Bill by this House has not been printed with the Minutes of Evidence taken before that Committee, and why the evidence of one seaman only representing the interests of that class has been taken before that Committee?


Sir, I was not a Member of the Select Committee on the Merchant Seamen Bill, and the arrangements respecting the evidence, I believe, were made by the Chairman of the Committee, my noble Friend the former President of the Board of Trade, and in conjunction with the Members of the Committee. I regret, therefore, that I am unable to give him the information he desires.


asked, If it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to proceed this Session with the Amended Merchant Seamen Bill?


Sir, I have read carefully the volume of evidence taken by the Select Committee on the Merchant Seamen Bill, of which I was not a Member, and which was just concluding taking evidence when I became responsible for the Board of Trade. The evidence is of a very important character, both in its bearing upon the Bill, and also as raising very large questions connected with the Mercantile Marine Service; and it was, I find, only circulated on Saturday. It is obvious that, before we proceed further to legislate on the subject, these who are connected with the Mercantile Marine, both in Parliament and in the country, should have an opportunity of fully considering not only the Bill as it has left the Committee, but also the important evidence. And, as regards myself, I must frankly say that I am not prepared either to reject or to adopt many of the important suggestions made in it, without having had ample time to confer with others of large knowledge and experience respecting these matters, and to form my own independent judgment on the questions at issue. For these reasons alone, I think the House will agree with me that it is desirable to postpone the Bill to another Session. But, be this as it may, the Public Business on which Parliament is already engaged, and the short time left for the transaction of it, would make it impossible for me to hope to pass a measure of this importance at this late period of the Session.