HC Deb 24 June 1895 vol 34 cc1749-52

Considered in Committee.


in the Chair.

(In the Committee.)


asked the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs if, in order to expedite the discussion of the clauses of this Bill, he would state, first, what were the terms of the existing agreement, if any, with Russia upon this subject; secondly, what were the terms of the complaints which had been made by the Canadian Government; and, thirdly, what were the terms of the agreement, if any, between the United States and Russia. He had an Amendment upon the Paper, but if the hon. Baronet's answer was satisfactory he should not move it.

MR. R. W. HANBURY (Preston)

said, that he also had several Amendments to propose, which, however, he would not press if they obtained an answer to the points mentioned by his hon. Friend.

SIR EDWARD GREY (Northumberland, Berwick)

said, he would leave his hon. Friend, Mr. Buxton, to answer the question with regard to Canada. The agreement with Russia had simply been renewed by an exchange of notes between the two Governments. The agreement entered into between the United States and Russia was exactly similar in character, and it would be embodied in the Blue-book, which would be issued with the least possible delay. He hoped those two points would be regarded as satisfactory.

MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)

said, there had been a great deal of correspondence between the Colonial Office and the Canadian Government with the view of coming to an agreement, arid he thought he might say that on the whole the objections made by Canada had been satisfactorily met. There were three points raised with regard to the Bill. The first objection was that the old Bill did not make the owner as well as the master liable where a ship was properly condemned, and it seemed to the Colonial Office that in many cases it would be idle for any damage that might accrue to make only the master liable, for in not a few instances the master would have no interest in the ship, and might be only a man of straw. He did not know, however, that the Canadians wished to press this point very strongly. On the two other points they had been able to meet the objections raised. The Canadian Government objected, and rightly so, to the power of searching vessels wholly on suspicion and without reasonable means of knowing that they had evaded the law. By the new Bill, as it now stood, it would be seen that no vessel could be seined unless the officer of the naval service had reasonable cause to believe that she had committed some illegality, and this fully covered the objection. The third point to which Canada objected was the clause in the old Bill, which threw on the owner and master the onus of proof that a ship found in the prohibited area with sealing implements on board, was not there for an illegal purpose. That clause had been struck out and was not inserted in the present Bill, and the onus of proof would henceforth rest, not on the owner or master, but on those who seized the vessel. ["Hear, hear!"] Those objections having been met, he believed the Bill would have the substantial support of the Canadian Government. ["Hear, hear!"]


said, he thought the points with regard to the agreements with Russia and the United States had been thoroughly met. If the Government would accept his last Amendment and consent to set forth in the Schedule of the Bill, as was done with the Bills of 1893 and 1894, the sections of the Merchant Shipping Act which were made applicable to this measure, he should be prepared, under the exceptional circumstances in which they were then placed, to withdraw all the Amendments to the Bill of which he had given notice. In order that those who would be affected by the Bill might clearly understand it, it was necessary that the sections referred to should be fully set out in the Schedule. It would relieve the Bill of the charge that otherwise it was legislation by allusion.


said, the point was fully considered by the Government when the Bill was drawn up, and they came to the conclusion that the object which the hon. Member had in view would be best met if, instead of adding the schedule to the Bill, the captain of the sealer, when he was supplied with a copy of the Act, should have added to it a short statement of the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act (1894).


said he would advise his hon. Friend to accept the statement of the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, though he approved of the sections of the Merchant Shipping Act applying to the Bill being scheduled in it. The question was a practical one, and, perhaps, on reconsidering the matter, the Govern- ment might consent to the schedule being inserted by the Lords.

DR. TANNER (Cork, Mid)

Mr. Chairman, I rise to move that you do now report Progress, and ask leave to sit again. [Laughter and cries of "Order."] Seeing that the Irish Land Bill is not to be proceeded with, I do not see why the Seal Fisheries Bill should be taken. [Loud cries of "Order."]


I cannot put that motion. [Cheers.]

MR. BUXTON (in reply to Mr. GIBSON BOWLES)

said, that before the Bill went up to the House of Lords, the Government would reconsider the joint whether it would be advisable to insert a schedule of the sections of the Merchant Shipping Act, though he doubted that it would be done.


said, he still thought the schedule ought to form part of the Bill. But in view of the crisis that had arisen in the business of the country, he should not, under the circumstances, move the Amendments of which he had given notice.

Bill passed through Committee, and Reported without Amendment.

Bill read 3°, and passed.

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