HC Deb 04 August 1882 vol 273 cc881-3

Order for Committee read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."


said, there was one point in connection with this subject that he wished to call attention to, and he took that opportunity of doing so because the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, a few nights ago, had unintentionally led him astray by saying that the Bill connected with this subject provided for appeal from decisions in the case of casualties at sea, which appeal, at present, did not exist. The only appeal was in the case of masters, whose certificates had been cancelled; there was no appeal for the owners of ships. Now, his hon. Friend, as he (Mr. Whitley) had before remarked, had certainly stated that that would be provided for in the Bill; but, on examining it, he found it contained no such provision. Then he had to ask the attention of the House and Her Majesty's Government to the fact that the Bill proposed to charge the Mercantile Marine Fund with the costs of surveys in connection with the Boiler Explosions Act of this Session. But he wished to point out that that Act had no connection whatever with the Mercantile Marine Fund, which was made up chiefly from the subscriptions of sailors. It certainly, at first sight, seemed a strange thing to charge the Fund with the surveys of steam boilers, because, in the Explosions Act referred to, explosions of boilers at sea were expressly excluded; and, therefore, it seemed to him unintelligible to say that the Mercantile Marine Fund should be charged with the expenses of surveys in connection with the Boiler Explosions Act recently passed. He thought, therefore, that some good reason should be given why accidents connected with the explosions of boilers on land were charged to the Mercantile Marine Fund. The proposition that £75,000, at present collectable from sailors, should not be charged hereafter, would be very gratifying and a great advantage to the mercantile community. There was no doubt these charges were a very serious tax on seamen; but when he looked at the Bill he found that this remission was not carried out by it; because it was left for the Board of Trade to decide. He thought that was not quite fair, and that in. the Memorandum explaining that this £75,000 would be remitted, it ought to be distinctly stated that the Mercantile Marine Fund should be absolved from paying this amount of money every year. According to the Bill, it would be in the power of the Board of Trade, if they thought fit, to remit these fees, and he was aware that the objects of the Bill had been arranged between the Treasury and the Board of Trade; but he thought it unfair at the end of a Session to introduce a Bill which, on the face of it, by this Memorandum, purported to relieve the shipping community of £75,000 a-year, but then provided that the Board of Trade might refuse to remit the fees. He should like to have a definite expression of opinion upon this, and a distinct assurance that, if the Bill passed, the £75,000 a-year, now levied on seamen, should really be remitted. If he could get that assurance from the President of the Board of Trade, or any other Member of the Government, he should be relieved of much of his difficulty with regard to the Bill.


said, it was intended that the £75,000 should be remitted; but he thought it was rather late to enter upon a discussion of the Bill at that hour of the night. It was only proposed, when the Bill came on, that the Speaker should leave the Chair, and Progress be reported.

Question put, and agreed to.

MATTER considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Resolved, That it is expedient to authorise the payment, out of moneys to he provided by Parliament, of an annual sum of £40,000 to the Mercantile Marine Fund; and of authorising the repayment, out of moneys to be provided by Parliament, of charges paid out of rates in respect of costs incurred in prosecutions for offences committed at sea, and of expenses connected therewith, which may become payable under the provisions of any Act of the present Session to amend the Law with respect to the charges on and payments to the Mercantile Marine Fund, and to expenses of prosecutions for offences committed at sea.

Resolution to be reported To-morrow.