HC Deb 03 July 1884 vol 289 cc1889-91

asked the First Lord of the Treasury, If he will now fix a day for the resumption of the Debate on the Merchant Shipping Bill?


I may remind the hon. Gentleman opposite that in moving the second reading of the Bill, I stated that in view of the circumstances, and especially having regard to the pressure oil the time of the House and on the Government, it would be impossible for me to make any progress with this measure unless I have the hearty and general assent, not only of all Parties in the House, but also of persons interested in the matters dealt with in the Bill. Since then I have been in communication with a good many representative people, both in the House and out of it, and I am informed that some of the representative organizations which were most strongly hostile to the Bill when it was introduced are now desirous that it should be proceeded with in order that the Amendments which have been suggested should be introduced; and in that form, with such further slight modifications as might be carried in Committee, they would be glad to see it passed. Notably I have had communications from Liverpool, and from some of the largest shipowners engaged in trade in London and other ports. Unfortunately, on the other hand, I have received intimation that shipowners, especially in the North-Eastern ports, and on the Clyde, maintain their opposition to the Bill, even in its amended form. I am afraid, therefore, that I could not hope to proceed with the matter unless I were able to give a considerable time to its further discussion. There are two stages which the Bill would have to undergo. First, there is the second reading, and then the Motion for reference to a Grand Committee. I cannot, therefore, anticipate in the circumstances, that it would be possible for the Government to give the time which would be necessary to promote these two stages. Even if we did get so far, the Bill would go to the Grand Committee so late that I am afraid, considering the complexity of the measure, and the time that must be given to the consideration of its details, it would be impossible to return it to the House by the 1st of August, when the Reports from Grand Committees must be before the House. In these circumstances I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that the Bill must be withdrawn, and when on Monday it comes on I shall move that the Order be discharged.


asked whether the right hon. Gentleman and the Government were still of opinion that the present state of the law occasioned an amount of preventible loss of human life at sea?


Certainly; that is my opinion.


asked whether the right hon. Gentleman would have any proposals to make to the House in regard to the appointment of a Royal Commission on the subject?


That is a matter which will have the immediate attention of the Government, and at a later stage I hope to be able to state the intentions of the Government.


asked the Home Secretary, whether he was of opinion, that any Bill which had considerable opposition out-of-doors, and also in that House, and which was, moreover, of a very complex character, was one which it was possible to pass this Session?


Perhaps the hon. Member will allow me to reserve my answer for a few moments.