§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ COLONEL HUGHES (Woolwich)
, in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, that in 1878, in the well-known case of the Princess Alice, a very sad accident had occurred on the river off Woolwich, by which 600 people lost their lives, with the result that the parish had to sustain the whole of the cost of paying the amount of the rewards for the discovery of the dead bodies and of their interment—some £1,200—it having been decided that it could not recover any part of the sum from the county, as would have been the case had the river been the sea. It was therefore proposed by the Bill that in the case of all drowned bodies discovered in tidal rivers, or in running streams, notice should be given to the Local Authorities, and the amount of the reward for the discovery of the bodies and of the cost of the interment should be re-imbursed to the Local Authorities by the county. Since the parish of Woolwich had refused to offer pecuniary inducements for the recovery of corpses, a great scandal had originated, 1773 several coroners having made representations that bodies were allowed to float up and down rivers, and that watermen had no inducement to lose their time by picking them up. He hoped the House would allow the Bill to pass, and he would be happy to consider any Amendments in Committee which might be thought desirable.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Colonel Hughes.)
§ MR. AKERS-DOUGLAS (Kent, St. Augustine's)
said, that he knew the hon. Member for Oxford University (Mr. J. G. Talbot) was opposed to the Bill on behalf of the county of Kent, on which it might throw a great additional charge. But the Bill was not such a bad one as the one which had been introduced on a former occasion; and, on the understanding that Amendments would be considered in Committee, he was prepared to allow the second reading without a division, and to leave his hon. Friend the Member for Oxford University to deal with it on a future occasion.
THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. CHILDERS) (Edinburgh, S.)
said, he would not object to the Bill, which, in principle, proposed to effect a sound change. He would support the second reading; but the measure would require a great deal of consideration in Committee. He did not think, for example, it should apply to brooks.
§ SIR JOHN SWINBURNE (Staffordshire, Lichfield)
said, he wished to know whether it was intended to extend the Bill to Ireland? When he was in the Navy, he remembered seeing bodies of seamen floating in the River Lee and Queenstown Harbour. But officers were instructed not to interfere with them, as the Local Authorities were unwilling to bear the expense of providing decent burial. Such a state of things was not creditable to a Christian country.
§ COLONEL HUGHES
, in reply, said, he should have been happy to have done as the hon. Baronet wished; but he believed that as the original Act of George III. did not extend to Ireland, he could not extend the present Amendment Bill to Ireland.
§ Motion agreed to.1774
§ Bill read a second time, and committed for Wednesday 7th April.
§ House adjourned at a quarter after Five o'clock.