§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE (Mr. C. T. RITCHIE,) Croydon
In moving the Second Reading of this Bill I do not, propose to trouble the House with a long account of the origin of lighthouses or of the management of them. I think, however, in justice I ought to say one or two words in order to show that light dues have always been paid, or rather the lighthouses erected, by the shipping community. I therefore presume that the shipping interest has become accustomed to charge dues on these lighthouses. I say so because I see my hon. Friend the Member for King's Lynn is to move a Resolution antagonistic to the Bill. Prior to 1853 no light dues were charged for any lighthouses, except under special Acts of Parliament or patents. Formerly tolls were collected by the bodies or the private individuals who owned them, and the principle of collection was "use"—so much per ton for every time of passing a light. Subsequently all private interests in English lights were bought up by the community and vested in Trinity House, under Acts of George IV. The Scotch lights were under the charge of the Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses, incorporated in 1798, and the first principle of levying the tolls under the Scotch system was by payment per voyage. Subsequently, this was altered to payment by "use," or payment for each light passed. Irish lights were under the charge of the Commissioners of Irish Lights, constituted in 1867, and the principle of levying has always been that of "use." It will thus be seen that from the earliest times the cost of maintaining lights was met by a charge of one kind or another on passing shipping. In 1853 the Mercantile Marine Fund was established, by an Act which also 130 charged the Board of Trade with the general superintendence of matters relating to the mercantile marine; this Act was repealed in 1854, and its principal provisions were embodied with others in the Act of 1854. That Act charged the Board of Trade with the administration of the lighthouse service, local marine boards, mercantile marine offices, etc. All the lighthouses of the United Kingdom are now under the control, free of charge, of the three lighthouse authorities—Trinity House, the Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses, and the Commissioners of Irish Lights; of these Trinity House has a certain control over Scotch and Irish lights. These dues have not been hitherto wholly applied to the lighthouse service, and it has been one of the standing complaints of the shipping industry that dues collected for the purpose of lighting the coast are applied to the payment of certain establishment charges which have nothing to do with lights. That is the case, but the Act of 1854 charged the fund not only with the expenses of the lighthouse service, but with the expenses of the local marine boards, the mercantile marine offices, the survey of passenger ships, the life-saving service, and the Receiver of Wrecks. On the other hand, the fund was credited not only with the dues collected for the lights, but with the fees for the engagement and discharge of seamen, for the examination of officers, and other matters. In 1876 the survey staff expenses were transferred from the Mercantile Marine Fund to the Exchequer, and in 1882 they were, with some fresh charges, again placed on the Mercantile Marine Fund, and certain other fees credited to the fund. The result to the Mercantile Marine Fund was a further charge of £46,000, and to meet this transfer of charge the Government made a contribution of £40,000, which since that time has appeared upon the Votes. The difference between £40,000 and 131 £46,000 was considered to be an equivalent for certain services rendered to the fund by various Government Departments. The fees payable on the engagement and discharge of seamen were abolished in 1882, and that put a further charge upon the lighthouse dues, because there were no fees in mitigation of that expense. As far as I can gather the reason for the abolition of those fees was that it was thought to be in the interest of the shipowners and seamen. The fact that the fund has a large balance of £296,000 rendered it possible to abolish those fees, and they were abolished. In 1884 the light dues were reduced to the extent of £100,000. The result of that reduction was that in 1886–87 all the investments of the Fund were exhausted and the income was insufficient to maintain the light service. Money was borrowed to the extent of £200,000 between that time and 1888, when the light dues were again raised, with the result that in 1892 there was a surplus and £100,000 of debt was paid off. Again in 1892–93 the expenditure exceeded the revenue and a further sum of £50,000 was borrowed. But since 1894 the revenue has considerably increased, the expenditure has somewhat diminished, the debt has been entirely paid off, and on March 31st, 1897, there was a surplus of something like £140,000. We have heard for a long time past certain complaints of the shipping industry with regard to these light dues and I have spoken about the dissatisfaction already existing amongst shippers at the light dues being used for purposes other than the maintenance of the light system. A Committee was appointed in 1895 to consider these and other complaints which had been advanced time after time against the Mercantile Marine Fund and against the methods of administering the light dues. In their report the Committee, while acknowledging that the mercantile marine offices were of value to the shipowners, as regards the protection and comfort of seamen, yet they also recommended that these charges should not in future be defrayed out of the light revenue. This recommendation is given effect to in the Bill. By the Bill all charges other than those for the maintenance of lights will in future be borne 132 upon the Votes. With regard to the present system of levying light dues, that has been a matter of much and very just complaint. Tolls are levied for lighthouses that are never passed, situated as some are from 20 to 150 miles out of the course of the vessels paying the dues. Complaint has also been made, and I think justly made, by shipowners of the complexity of the various charges and rebates; also of the impediments and great extra cost entailed when a vessel discharges part of her cargo in one port and goes to another port to discharge another portion of her cargo, which adds so much to the expenses of the ship that it often does not pay to take such cargoes. It is evident that there is great complication about such a system and great difficulty in knowing exactly what light is to be paid for. The Committee remarked upon the influence which these complications have in the restraint of the free development of trade, and they recommended the abolition of the present system of "use" and the substitution of a tonnage system. I shall not trouble the House with the details of the scale of payment; they are set out in the Bill, and are recommended by the Committee, who went very carefully into the whole question and took evidence with regard to the various classes of ships, and we have thought that after such a careful investigation had been made by the Committee we might accept the Bill they recommended and ask the House to assent to its recommendations. I may tell the House the result of the system of payment under the Bill as compared with the present dues. In 1893–94 coasting and home trade vessels paid £42,000 out of an income of £524,000, or one-twelfth. In 1894–95 they paid the same, £42,000 out of an income of £539,000, or one-thirteenth. They will pay, it is calculated, under the new system, if they have all sailing vessels, £30,000, or one-fifteenth; of all steamers £45,000, or one-tenth. This averages between one-tenth and one fifteenth, instead of one-twelfth. With regard to the payments for oversea, ships the estimated payments under the new scale are £413,000, as against a payment under the present system of £497,000, a decrease of £84,000. The coasting estimated 133 payments are £37,0000 as against £42,000, a decrease of £5,000. With regard to the complaints of which I have spoken, as to the inconvenience of the payments which have to be made when a cargo is discharged at different ports, we have accepted the recommendation of the Committee, and it wi11 be observed that by the system we are now adopting all those complaints will be disposed of and the difficulties got rid of, much to the advantage and convenience of trade. It follows, of course, that the large expenditure not now borne on the Votes will be transferred to the Votes, and I will state presently what that amount will be; but there are some recommendations made by the Committee as to fees in relief of the charges, which will be thrown on the Estimates. One of these is the charge for the survey of ships, which in 1894–95 amounted to £30,310. There are at present no fees for registrations, transfers, renewals, and mortgages on ships. The Committee think that these are clearly services which, should be paid for by those interested. The estimated revenue from that source amounts to £16,000. The Committee recommended that the charge for the relief and repatriation of foreign seamen should be borne by the shipowning interest. The amount expected from that is £19,000, and, therefore, the total fees in aid will be £35,000. The Committee further recommended, with regard to the colonial light services, that the revenue and expenses of those services should be transferred to the lighthouse fund, and that is being done in the Bill. The estimated financial result to the lighthouse fund will be as follows:—Income, amount of dues £450,000, interest on investments £2,500, making a total of £452,500. In 1896–97 Bass's dues were £10,600, interest on investments in connection with those dues £1,100, making a total of £11,700, thus bringing up the total estimated income to £464,200. The estimated expenditure for maintenance and new works is estimated at £407,126, for lighthouses abroad and electrical communication £29,550, for lighthouses in Ceylon £4,851, making a total expenditure of £441,527, and giving an estimated surplus of £22,673. You will thus perceive that, whereas the amount of dues 134 that had to be raided in 1896–97 was £585,000, the amount to be raised under this Bill will be £450,000, or a difference of £135,000, and the estimated effect on the Votes is £35,000. I will now say a few words as to the estimated result to the estimated result to the Exchequer. The whole cost of the mercantile marine offices, surveyors, life saving, and relief of distressed seamen which will be borne on the Votes amounts to £188,677, less fees received £49,982, leaving the net amount of £138,695. This is further diminished by a grant in aid of £40,000 and by electrical communication and lighthouses abroad £29,550, which deducted from £138,695 leaves £69,145. This amount is further reduced by the cost of relieving distressed seamen £19,000, and by fees for registering of ships £16,000, so that the net addition to the Votes under the Bill is estimated to be £34,145. There will, no doubt, be something said about the exemption of ships of Her Majesty's Navy from dues under this Bill. That exemption exists at the present time, and the Committee recommend that it should continue. The reasons they give, for continuing the exemption are:—Gratuitous services to the mercantile marine rendered by the Navy, the cost of which is a fair equivalent for the unpaid benefits the lighthouse system confers on Her Majesty's ships.—Inasmuch as the light dues paid by merchant shipping are ultimately a tax on the consumers of the commodities carried by the merchant navy—that is to say, on all classes of the kingdom—a contribution by the Admiralty for light services would not be like the relief of particular individuals, but would be a relief of the whole taxpaying community, and therefore as idle as if we required Government departments to make money payments for the postal services rendered them by the Post Office system.
§ *MR. T. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
Is there not a dissent from that on the part of a very high Treasury official?
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE
I am not quite certain as to that. The Committee go on to say—This argument seems to us of the greatest force, and when we consider the difficulties of ascertaining the cost of the services rendered by the Admiralty and of determining what, if any, should be the balance ultimately payable by the Admiralty, we are drawn to the conclusion that the existing immunity of the Admiralty may be left undisturbed.135 That was unanimously agreed to, and we propose to adopt the reasoning and recommendation of the Committee. I would point out that in addition to the reasons given by the Committee for the continuance of the exemption that Her Majesty's Government are making very large contributions to the expenses hitherto borne on the lighthouse fund—a contribution of something like £34,000, plus the £40,000. There is another exemption for yachts, tugs, and fish-carrying vessels, and the recommendation of the Committee is that this exemption should no longer continue, inasmuch as these vessels derive considerable benefit from the lighting of the coast, and the Committee recommended that there should be a small due levied on such vessels of 1s. per ton annually. This had been carried out in the Bill. I do not know that I need add anything more at this moment. My hon. Friend the Member for King's Lynn is going to move an Amendment to the motion for the Second Reading which, if carried, can only result in the defeat of the Bill. It is quite impossible for the Government to accept his proposition, of which he has given notice, for the abolition of all dues. I understand that the shipping community are by no means unanimous in desiring it. I have myself received since the Bill was introduced several representations to the effect that shipowners are by no means unanimous on the subject, and I say the report of the Committee, was concurred in by two out of three of the representatives of the shipping community on the Committee. I would also point out that though it is quite true that the Committee was not charged with the consideration of this problematical point, they undoubtedly disposed in their report of any reason or argument which had been adopted for the abolition of these dues. It is said that the charge is a tax upon the shipping interest, and should not be levied on shipping, but the Committee disposed of that by saying in their report—It is clear the dues are not a tax on shipping; they are ultimately a tax on the consumers of the commodities carried by the merchant navy.My hon. Friend may say, If that is true, why not put it directly on the shoulders of the community by putting it on the 136 Votes? Well, upon the basis of the payment of dues the shipping community has been entirely settled and arranged for years past; they are collected and treated as part of the expenses, just as the lights on board their ships; they have become accustomed to the payment. I think myself it is quite problematical, if now we were to transfer this expenditure to the Votes, the result to the consumers would be the same. It is quite possible that the consumers would have to pay twice over; they would not only pay on the commodities they use, but also in their contribution to the Estimates, and the shipping interest would receive the benefit. I do not for a moment pretend to say that the great national industry I speak of does not deserve consideration from Parliament. I think it does deserve every consideration. But the point I urge is that brought out by the Committee in their report, that these dues are ultimately paid by the community, and I do not believe that the abolition of the dues means that the community would have less to pay for the goods they consume, which were brought in these vessels. I have a lively recollection of something similar that occurred in this House. I have a lively recollection of the abolition of the coal dues. It was stated, and I confess I believed the statement, that consumers would get the benefit of the abolition, but I venture to say it is extremely problematical if it can be shown that that result has followed. However that may be, I can assure the House that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is not at all likely to fall in with the views of the hon. Member, for, in addition to all other arguments, and perhaps the best of all, is that these dues return £500,000 to the Exchequer. I believe the proposals of the Bill have been received with satisfaction by the shipowning community; and for myself I cannot but acknowledge the great care and attention given to the matter by the Committee, and the trouble they took to get to the bottom of all the matters with which they had to deal. While speaking about the Committee generally, I also desire to say for myself that the Board of Trade are especially indebted to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin for his great ability in conducting the proceedings. I beg 137 to move that the Bill be now read a second time.
To leave cut from the word 'that,' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words 'no Measure dealing with Light Dues will be satisfactory to this House which does not provide that the expenses of maintaining lights, buoys, and beacons on the coasts of the United Kingdom shall be defrayed out of the public revenue.'"—(Mr. Gibson Bowles.)
§ *MR. GIBSON BOWLES
The right hon. Gentleman seems to me to have answered part of his argument in regard to the light dues, when he said they were of such a nature that they must eventually filter down to the consumers who have used the imported goods. If that be true I cannot conceive an argument which is so good to prove that the burden of light dues is a public burden, and which is not equally good to prove the other proposition, that the expenditure should be borne by the public revenue. That Committee which has been spoken of win not a Select Committee of this House, it was a Departmental Committee of the Board of Trade, and, although some of its members were eminent, others were officials. But it was not anything like a Select Committee of this House, and the Committee did not even agree. I have been surprised at the two arguments which have been used by the right hon. Gentleman: firstly, that the lighthouse expenditure had always been supported out of the lighthouse dues, which I think I shall be able to show is not correct; and second, that the shipping community have always paid them, and have become accustomed to pay them; but that is about as true as saving that because it is usual to skin eels they haves been reconciled to the practice. He expects to get £450,000 out of the new lighthouse dues, but so far as I can see there is not a rag of evidence or figure or calculation which affords any support to the expectations he has formed, and which I much doubt being realised. The other argument he uses is that if my Amendment is passed it will ruin the Bill. That would be no misfortune. When I first saw the Bill and came to peruse it, I did so 138 in the hope that it was an earnest attempt to deal with a matter which has been a scandal for the last 70 years, and that there would be a reasonable and coherent attempt to settle it. I have looked into this Bill, and a more jejune, undigested, unsatisfactory, and unpromising attempt to deal with this matter I have never seen. Sir, this Bill stereotypes and crystallises every defect in the system, and introduces some new defects which do little credit to the invention of the right hon. Member for Bodmin, the Chairman of the Committee, or rather, I should say, to the official, Lord Welby, who prompted him, and his figures and his report. It introduces new charges which it proposes to lay upon the shipping interest without any kind of defence. It introduces charges always hitherto accounted to be charges which should be made upon public revenue. Instead of removing inequalities it will increase the inequalities for light dues. I trust the House will pardon me for a short digression which the right hon. Gentleman has almost forced upon me. We know that the erection of lighthouses and beacons is part of the Royal Prerogative, and that the King alone had power to erect them; but for many centuries, in this, as in other matters, the Kings seem to have neglected their duties, and I believe it is an historical fact that the first of all the important lights, such as they were, were originally built by the monks and kept going as a charity to those engaged on the sea. When the monasteries were dissolved, and their property confiscated, it then became necessary to provide in some other way for the lights, and it occurred to some, enterprising private individuals, who must have been Presidents of the Board of Trade at the time, or future Presidents of the Board of Trade in another stage of existence—I think I see one of them sitting on the Bench in front of me—that if they could erect these lighthouses, and get a charter to charge dues, they would be doing a good bit of business. The King granted charters to erect lighthouses and to levy dues; and as, upon the dissolution of the monasteries, the confiscation of their property and the consequent stoppage, of the charitable donations which these monasteries made to the poor, first endowed 139 us with poor rates, so also that confiscation has endowed us with these light dues, which the right hon. Gentleman seems to think such an unmixed blessing to the community. The lighthouses and beacons continued to be for many years the property of private individuals, and even so late as the year 1822 a Committee of this House on Foreign Trade reported that some of the most important lights were still in the hands of private individuals—such as Dungeness, Orford, Winterton, Hunstanton, and Harwich; also the Smalls, the Longship, Tinmouth, and the Skerries. These were really in the hands of private lessees, who made a profit out of them. In 1836 Parliament, by an Act, transferred all the property in the lighthouses—lights, buoys, and beacons—to the Trinity Corporation. But this was not done for nothing. In that particular Bill, and by that particular Act, it was positively the fact that the Crown obtained £300,000 charged upon the shipping—almost a year's income of the Woods and Forests—which was paid to the Land Revenues of the Crown in compensation for Crown rights in lighthouses. I think, Sir, that is a singular instance of the way in which the Crown has regarded the light dues and lighthouses, and shipping generally, and almost every President of the Board of Trade has followed that example, and has oppressed the shipping industry instead of relieving it. Then came the Acts of 1853, 1854, 1876, and 1882, to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred, each one putting fresh charges on the light dues. Now, Sir, that Act of 1882 did in some measure, no doubt, overhaul and recast the Mercantile Marine Fund, which had been originally created by the Act of 1853—the Merchant Shipping Act—and it appropriated to the Mercantile Marine Fund an annual grant-in-aid of £40,000, but it was coupled with the condition that the arrangement should be reconsidered in five years. The arrangement was never reconsidered. What did happen was that the fund proved inadequate to the charges upon it, that it got into a state of bankruptcy, and that the Board of Trade borrowed £200,000 upon it, and upon the light dues, and went its way rejoicing that it had put another charge upon the shipping interest of this country. What is now the state of 140 the light dues? By the last completed accounts for 1896–97, the fund stands thus: Light dues levied in the United Kingdom, £587,889; and there was spent on lights, and on the maintenance of lights in that year, £406,781; so that there was a balance of £181,108 taken from the shipowner under pretence of light dues, applied, not to light dues, but to totally different purposes—and that is only for one year. I shall show the House what has been the total amount that has been exacted from the shipowners and misapplied to an entirely different purpose. The Departmental Committee has shown that from 1883–84, 1894–95, the light dues amounted to £5,486,585; and there was spent upon the maintenance of lights in the same period, £4,811,579, so that during those years there was £675,006 taken from the shipowner under the guise of light dues more than was expended upon the lights. Following on, from 1894–95 to 1895–96, £179,058 was collected more than was spent; and in 1896–97 there was £181,108. For 1897–98 we have not got the figures which would enable us to judge, but I put it down at £180,000. If, now, these three years are added to the total already made up by the Committee of which the right hon. Gentleman is so proud, since 1882 there has been taken from the shipowner under the guise of light dues, and there has been applied to other purposes than lights no less a sum than £1,215,172—a sound million and a-quarter filched from the shipowner in 13 years—taken from him on the ground that you were going to apply it to the lights. As to the faults and inequalities involved in the levying of these dues up to this time I really am not called upon to say much, because various Committees have insisted upon them—have always insisted upon them. There have been many Committees, but there has been no two opinions as regards the enormous inequalities of these light dues. Nobody knows what the light dues are. They are, I believe, contained in two volumes, which comprise thousands of dues, and these two volumes are like the Sybilline books, kept in some secret and solemn chamber. No mortal man is allowed to see them; no shipowner is to know whether he is paying the correct dues or not. Neither love nor money will induce the Board of Trade 141 to allow the shipowner to have even a glimpse of these books. All we know is that the books are enormous, and that the rates are numbered by the thousand. This very last Departmental Committee, amazed, to quote its words, at—the complexity of the present system, and the influence it must exercise in the restraint of the free development of the trade,says that these things are obvious, and goes on further to say—They make it impossible to accept consignments, to be distributed, it may be, occasionally in small quantities at different ports of call.The right hon. Gentleman says that the present Bill furnishes a remedy for this state of things. It may possibly furnish a remedy in regard to vessels calling first at a home port, and then going to another home port, but it furnishes me remedy with regard to a vessel which calls first at a home port and then at a foreign port. I now come to the exemptions under the present system. The Queen's ships, yachts, fishermen, tugs, vessels entering a port through stress of weather, steamboats entering ports for no other purpose than for bunker coals, and above all—and this the crowning triumph of the Board of Trade—Belgian mail steamers, all are exempt. What, then, becomes of the argument of the right hon. Gentleman that those should pay for the lights who use them? Does the Navy use the lights? Do tugs use them? Do fishermen use them? Does the sacred Belgian mail steamer use them? Is it not manifest that you have not followed the system of milking those pay for the lights that use them? On the contrary, your own exposition shows that you have gone on some entirely different principle, or want of principle. And now a new system is suggested, a new scale is proposed, and the estimate is made of the income to be gained from the new scale. I expected the right hon. Gentleman to tell us upon what sort of calculations this estimate is based. He tells us nothing of the kind. He refers us to the Committee, and that tells us nothing of the kind. There is no basis whatever given upon which to calculate the expected £450,000 a year from the new seale. That scale increases, as I submit, the inequalities of the charges. It favours, as I believe, very 142 greatly the ocean trade at the expense of the home trade and coasting trade, and when the right hon. Gentleman, talks about the shipowner who was on the Committee, I think he must have been an ocean shipowner. Was there a counter on the Committee? [The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE: Yes.] There was one coaster, and he dissented. This new system, moreover, maintains the exemptions. It maintains the exemption of the Queen's ships which use the lights, the foreign men-of-war, vessels in ballast, vessels coming in for bunker coals—all these are exempt, though all use the lights—and it gives a special treatment to tugs, yachts, and fish carriers. But the new system departs still further from the system of making the ships that use the lights pay for them. Under the present system, with all the volumes and thousands of rates, an attempt is made, at any rate, to charge a ship only for such lights as were of assistance to her in her voyage. You took her voyage, and you said this vessel would have used such and such lights, and consequently we charge the accumulated dues upon those lights and no others. But under the new system there is no attempt to ascertain the lights used. It is all to be charged upon a, rough and ready system of so much per ton, and per voyage, and so many voyages in the year. This is an absolute and final departure from the principle that those should pay, and those alone, for the lights who use them. The right hon. Gentleman also proposes to put another burden upon the shipowner in matters which are admittedly public. Take the colonial lights. Year after year this House has been asked for and has granted £15,000 a year for the maintenance of lighthouses—not lighthouses oven in this kingdom, but lighthouses in the colonies and lighthouses abroad—for instance, at Spartel and the Bahamas. But surely if it is right that the public revenue should pay for the lights in the Bahamas, it is equally right and more right that the country should pay for the lights at Dungeness and the North Foreland. If the British public pays for the lighthouse at Spartel, in Morocco, surely it is right that it should also pay for the lights on the coast of Norfolk, Suffolk, and Northumberland. The right hon. Gentleman not only calls 143 upon us to pay out of the public revenue the charges for those foreign lights, but he calls upon us to pay for all kinds of incidental expenses for the maintenance of those lights. I remember protesting the other day against a charge of some thousands of pounds the right hon. Gentleman pressed the House to agree to for the repairs of an old steamboat for the Bahamas. I again protested against another charge for the making of a bridge in Morocco for Cape Spartel. Nothing can exceed the generosity of the right hon. Gentleman with the public money when, it is to be expended abroad—it is only when it is wanted at home that he objects. If you want a lighthouse in Spain, in Morocco, in the Bahamas, or in the Falkland Islands, then he says, "I'm your man; I will find you public money for it." But if a light is wanted at Dungeness, the North Foreland, or the Lizard, he says, "The shipowners must find the money, and not only that, but they must find £180,000 besides, to spend upon something else." That is his view, and I seek in it in vain for the principle that those who use the lights should pay for them. The principle in this Bill is not the principle of making those pay for the lights that use them: it is not the principle of saying that no public money should be expended for lights, because he is charging for these lights at Spartel and the Bahamas: it is no principle at all. Now, I say broadly, and therein I agree with the Committees of this House, which I shall shortly quote, that it is a great Imperial duty to light the coasts of our Kingdom, and that if there ever was, or can be, a national duty, this is one of the first that should be assumed by a nation with a civilised reputation. If we are to go on making the shipowners pay I shall begin to think that our reputation for civilisation is scarcely warranted. Now, is it not manifest that one of the first duties of Government is to light the coast? Landsmen who have never been to sea, and some landsmen who have been to sea, fancy that there are no dangers in the sea. But the danger in the sea is the land. What landsmen never can be made to understand is that the danger arises, not from the sea itself, but from a large amount of land having been carelessly 144 left lying about in awkward places. Every seaman knows that; every seaman knows that he is always having to get round some point, or to weather some rock or another. Hence the necessity arises which imposes on a Government as the first of its duties the duty of lighting its shores. Every Government agrees that a town ought to light its streets. That principle is in force in the most complete manner in this country, and I seriously say, that if you are going to leave anything unlit in an island country like this, it should rather be your towns than your coasts. The inhabitants of the towns are made responsible for the charge; you do not compel the people who walk through the streets to pay the cost of lighting them. So it, should be with the lighting of the coasts; it should naturally be a charge on the total revenues. There is not a civilised country on the face of the earth at this moment that does not act upon the principle that I am endeavouring to get this House to adopt. I see the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade preparing to make a note. I hope he is not going to mention Turkey, because the Turkish system was imposed upon her by England. The United States, France, and Germany all consider the lighting of their coasts to be a matter of Imperial concern, and a matter which, should be carried out, and is carried out, at the national cost. England, which should have been the first to recognise this, is the last, and does not recognise it to this day. And yet there is no other country which gains anything like the same advantages as this country does from seaboard trade. Why, it is the very foundation of all our prosperity. Is it not strange that countries which gain fewer advantages from seaborne trade should recognise the necessity of paying for the lighting of their coasts, and that we who gain so many advantages from that trade should still be endeavouring, through the persuasive accents of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, to induce this House to agree to continue this most unjust and injurious system of making one class alone pay for the lighting of our coasts? To return for a moment to the argument that those should pay for the lights who use them, the passing ships which profit by our coast lights do not pay for those lights; 145 it is only those of them who come into our ports and increase our prosperity that are compelled to pay. Observe the effect! We light our Channel and our eastern crisis not alone for ourselves, but for the whole of Europe. The largest proportion of the trade of the whole world comes into our Channel and pusses along our south coast. Some of those ships come into our ports, and these are made to pay for the lights. But it seems to me that if any ships should be excused from paying light dues it should be those which use our ports, bring us their custom and add to our trade, and not those which benefit by our coast lights and pass on. Even if it be right to tax the shipping, it cannot be right to tax it for other than lighting expenses; and shipowners have been taxed, as I have already shown, to the extent of a million and a quarter in 13 years for purposes other than the lighting of our coasts. I cannot conceive anything more outrageous or monstrous than to take this tax from shipping and to expend it for other and public objects. We know that in the wilds of Africa a chief levies a tax on every traveller who passes, and spends it on his own fetish worship and Ju-ju sacrifices. That is exactly what the right hon. Gentleman has been doing, and wants to continue to do.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE
The hon. Member must be aware, from the statements which I made, that, whatever may be the case at present, one of the main objects of this Bill is to prevent the expenditure of light dues on anything else than the provision of the light service.
§ *MR. GIBSON BOWLES
I really must differ from the right hon. Gentleman. He proposes to take £450,000 a year from shipping. The lights at present cost £409,000. What is the right hon. Gentleman going to do with the balance? He is going to spend the balance of the money on admittedly public objects, on the communications between lightships and the shore—which I do not think will ever be established—on the repatriation of distressed seamen, and on other objects, and therefore I say that the right hon. Gentleman is spending it on 146 his fetishes. I say that to take £50,000, £60,000, or even £5,000 more than is required for the maintenance of lights out of the pockets of the shipowners, and to charge them with the repatriation of distressed seamen—which does not belong to the shipowners at all, which has long been recognised, and properly recognised, as a public charge and was conducted by the Admiralty until the beginning of this merciless dynasty of the Board of Trade—I say, Sir, that to do that is to absolutely plunder the shipowners for objects which are properly payable out of the public revenue. I do not wonder that the right hon. Gentleman, when he goes up into the Temple, prays for those who travel by land and water. Now, Sir, my proposal is a very definite, one. I propose that all the expenses of the lights should be put upon the public revenues. Those expenses amount to about £400,000; it has been sometimes considerably less. In the last year for which I have the account it was more, but I have no doubt at all that, under one management, our coasts would be adequately, completely, and handsomely lit—as handsomely lit as those of France—for £400,000 a year. I might be asked what the Chancellor of the Exchequer might say to this proposal. Why, Sir, there never was in this world such a generous Chancellor of the Exchequer. You can get anything from him for the asking; the right hon. Gentleman's hand is ever open. This very evening we have voted two and a half millions for some new brick and mortar buildings. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has also come to the assistance of distressed agriculturists in England, and distressed planters in the West Indies. [Mr. DAVITT: And voted £700,000 a year to the Irish landlords.] I thought that was for the Irish tenants. In fact, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been so generous for a Chancellor of the Exchequer that he has been called a spendthrift. But if he is a spendthrift in some ways, that is no reason why he should be an extortioner in others. I am convinced that if a proper appeal was made to the generous instincts of the Chancellor of the Exchequer—made with proper force by the President of the Board of Trade—he could be induced to take as generous an interest in the shipping trade as he does in West Indian 147 planters, English agriculturists, and Irish landlords or tenants. The resources of civilisation are not exhausted. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is not at the end of his devices for obtaining money. I am sure that if once the right hon. Gentleman is convinced that this £400,000 ought to be charged to the public revenue there will be no difficulty, so far as the Chancellor of the Exchequer is concerned, in finding it. But even if there is, it is not our business. We are not Chancellors of the Exchequer. If we were we might make suggestions for economising on the one side so as to allow of proper expenses on the other. Meanwhile we have to settle the right policy to adopt, and if the House decides that the cost of the lights shall be borne by the Exchequer, it will be the duty of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to carry out that policy. I have hitherto used argument; I now propose to use more cogent authority. Three Committees of this House have sat upon this question of lights. In 1834 there was appointed a Select Committee of this House—a Committee which could not have been surpassed in ability, and which consisted of 43 Members, a number rarely reached in a Select Committee. Mr. Joseph Hume was chairman of that Committee, which took a vast amount of evidence, and reported first of all that—France and the United States support their lights from the public Treasury.They then went on to say that—The lights are equally of use to Her Majesty's ships of war as to the merchant service; and the public might be called upon to contribute a portion of the expenses for maintaining them.I now come to a much more important recommendation by a Committee which went very fully into the question—the Committee of 1845. That Committee was also presided over by Mr. Hume, a man not likely to recommend the frittering away of public money, or its application to any other than strictly proper purposes. That Committee recommended—That all the expenses for the erection and maintenance of lighthouses, floating lights, buoys, and beacons on the coast of the United Kingdom be henceforth defrayed out of the public revenue, and that as the Trinity House 148 has incurred a debt under authority of 6 and 7 William IV., c. 79, in purchasing the rights of private individuals for their leases and possessions of lighthouses, the Government ought to take upon it that debt.Thus the Committee of 1815 strongly and distinctly recommended that the expense should be made a charge on the public revenue. They went a step further, and advised that even the then existing debt should olso be paid out of public revenues by the Government. [The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE: Four voted against that recommendation.] Yes, and I am sure the four who voted against the recommendation regret it. Amongst those who voted for it was no less a person than Lord Palmerston, and I am very sorry to say that among the four who voted against it was no less at person than Admiral Bowles. That was a long time ago, and the Bowles family have reformed since then. At any rate, the Report from which I have quoted is the Report of the Committee, and as such I claim that it is a document of first importance, containing as it does a distinct recommendation in the very words of the Resolution I am now submitting to the House. Then, Sir, there was the Committee of 1860. That was also a very strong Committee—not so numerous as that of 1834, but very strong—and these are a few passages from its Report—The expense of the light dues, now paid by the shipowners of the Empire, in many instances operates as a serious burden upon merchant shipping.Then the Committee continues—The evidence taken before your Committee upon the question of lights considered as a burden on shipping, shows that whilst the tax for the maintenance of lights is easily borne by shipowners whose vessels are engaged in the long voyage trade, the owners of small vessels, on the other hand, suffer very severely from the very onerous character of the charge, and steamship proprietors whose vessels make repeated voyages complain that the dues bear most unequally upon their property. In the United States, however, Congress appropriates an annual vote for lights throughout their whole territory.I claim the attention of the House to this because we may be told that the United States and France make charges for lights under a different name, and therefore I beg special attention to these 149 passages of the Report of the Select Committee of this House of I860. The Report continues—And though stated to the contrary by one of the witnesses, your Committee believe that the harbour dues levied in the ports of the various States comprising the Union have no relation whatever to the general charge for lights.No, they have not. Neither have the French. One more word from this Committee of 1860—The official correspondence between Lord Palmerston, at I hat time Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and Mr. Lawrence, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the United States of America in 1851, upon the subject of lights, expressed the opinion of the Queen's Government as to the wisdom and liberality of freeing commerce from any burden of this kind by adopting a similar course to that pursued by the American Government. This opinion has been repeated at various periods by eminent statesmen in Parliament"—confirming in every point of view the Resolution passed by the Committee on Lighthouses in 1845. Is the right hon. Gentleman going to differ from the wisdom and liberality of Lord Palmerston, and the wisdom and liberality of other eminent statesmen in Parliament, or why should we not follow that wisdom and liberality now? This is a Bill attempting to deal with a matter which has been loudly calling for redress during the last 70 years, and, surely, when we are applying a remedy we should apply it in accordance with the recommendations of these solemn Committees. This then is the recommendation of the Committee of 1860—Your Committee, for reasons recapitulated at great length in the above Report, and with the feeling that the lighting of our shores is a high Imperial duty which we owe, not simply to ourselves, but to the strangers whom we invite to trade with us, recommend the adoption of the sound and liberal policy therein indicated, that the nation generally should pay the cost of the maintenance of the lights, subject to the conditions indicated in the preceding paragraph.Why, I could have written that Report myself. Now I come to the Committee—no doubt a more recent Committee and one of far less authority—of 150 1896. It was only a Departmental Committee—I will not say it was a packed Committee—but it was a nominated Committee nominated by the Board of Trade, and, I think, with the distinct view to the adoption of the Board of Trade opinion. This Committee says—The question of the propriety of allowing the surplus of lighting dues over light expenditure to be applied to purposes charged on the Mercantile Marine Fund depends on the propriety of requiring those for whom the merchant fleet exists, and who are, benefited by its services, to contribute to the cost of securing that that fleet should be well ordered, well found, and well manned. We cannot see that there is any iniquity in this arrangement, although consideration of its cost, of its interference, with the freedom of trade, and its lack of guarantee of economical administration and other considerations may require its modification or abandonment.So you see that even this Departmental Committee, this Committee nominated by the present Government, admit that the present system is such as may require modification or abandonment. As to the question of the transfer of the cost of the lighting to the Consolidated Fund,, which I now advocate, the Committee expressly says it is beyond the terms of reference to it, and expresses no opinion whatever. Therefore, so far as the proposition goes which I am laying before the House, the Committee must be held to be neutral. This is the passage—Some of the witnesses argued in favour of the transfer of the cost of the lighting service to the Consolidated Fund, but we have not entered upon this question, which we consider to be outside the terms of our reference.Well, now, Sir, I do submit to this House that I have made out a strong case. My arguments may have been poor, for they have been my own, but my authorities are so weighty as I think to be quite conclusive, for those authorities are the able Committees appointed by this House for the special consideration of this subject. I would make an appeal for some feeling on the part of the right hon. Gentleman and the Government for the shipping trade of this country. In my opinion it is the very backbone of the country. It is the trade for which we are absolutely marked out and destined by Nature herself, which has so placed these islands that the rational horizon of 151 London includes all the four quarters of the earth, and all the habitable portions of the world except Australia. That situation marks us out above all other nations to be the carriers and shippers of the world; and, Sir, carriers and shippers we have been with splendid success. We have had competitors in the shape of the Dutch, and in the shape of the Americans, but we have overcome the competition, and the British shipping trade has marched steadily on—not brilliantly, perhaps, but always with steady strides—through the ability and energy with which it has been conducted. This has been not by the help of, but rather in spite of the Government, which has had nothing but oppression and mischievous interference for the shipping trade. No British Government has ever given British shipowners or shipbuilders that 25 per cent. bounty which the French Government gives, or the even greater bounty which the German Government gives. [Mr. JOHN BURNS: That is why it is so good.] It has had no such doles as have been given to agriculture, but of that I do not complain. Yet, although I do not complain of that, I do complain that one Government after another has run the risk of strangling the trade by oppressive dues and nefarious exactions, and by absurd and mischievous interference with the trade of the shipowner, as though they knew, forsooth, his trade better than he knew it himself. But in spite of all, the shipping trade has gone on. No bad seasons have been able to deter it, and no misfortune has stopped it. Day by day, and year by year, it has pursued its beneficent purpose of bringing together the nations of the earth through their common highway the sea—The Sea, which is our mother (that embracethBoth the rich Indies in her outstretched arms),Yields every day a crop, if we dare reap it.It is for the men who dare to reap that crop—and God knows it requires plenty of courage—in every corner of the richest harvests in the world, that I now appeal. I ask for no doles and no charity. I merely ask for justice. I wish the country now to recognise that it should take 152 upon itself the natural duty of lighting its coasts in the future. Sir, it would involve a ridiculously small charge compared with some others we have seen, but the charge would repay itself tenfold, while it would be some assistance and afford some relief to the shipping industry, which has suffered so much from the exactions of Governments in the past, and enable it in future to go on in that career of usefulness which I believe will be enormously developed if only the Government are prepared to act, and which in its development will bring nothing but benefit and advantage to the people of this country.
§ *SIR JOHN LENG (Dundee)
I second the Amendment of the hon. Member for King's Lynn, and I wish to emphasise the point which he has clearly brought before the House, that, in one sense, if we agree to the Measure now before us we shall be adopting a retrograde and reactionary course. He has shown us that on three occasions between the years 1834 and 1860 large and impartially constituted Select Committees of this House have condemned the imposition of the light dues upon shipping. He has not adverted to one fact which is of some importance. He has mentioned that this country is the greatest maritime country in the world, with the largest mercantile marine, having a vast pecuniary interest and connected with the entire commercial enterprise of the country. He has shown that this country is the only maritime country in Europe, the only great civilised Power which does not regard the lighting of its coasts as an Imperial duty. Now, that peculiarity affects one very important branch of shipping. We all know how keen is the competition in the American shipping trade. Well, Germany some years ago, pursuing a wise and enlightened course, resolved that its lighting system should be an Imperial system. The same policy was held in the United States, and the result of that is that the United States do not charge their tonnage dues upon the German steamers which cross the Atlantic. In this way we have those large and rapid steamers now calling at Southampton free from the very heavy dues which are charged upon our own steamers from the 153 United Kingdom. In addition to the bounties to which the hon. Gentleman has referred, this acts as another and very important bounty to these German steamers in competition with our own trade. The hon. Gentleman has referred to the system of doles. I for one regret that, when the Departmental Committee was appointed in the year 1894 by the right hon. Gentleman below me, he did not give that Committee a free hand. I think there are indications in the numerous questions put by the able Chairman of the Committee to the witnesses, and also in important passages in the Report, that he felt considerably galled and hampered by the limited reference which that Committee had made in it. Now, I think that if that Committee had had a free hand, we should have had from them a Report concurring with, confirming, and repeating the recommendations of the previous Select Committees of his House. I regret that the right hon. Gentleman below me did not give them that free hand, and I think that he himself missed a great opportunity, because what was the sole effect of tying the hands of this Committee? if they had recommended as to this £400,000, or call it £500,000, that the shipping interest should have been free from that charge, and that that charge should go upon the revenue of the country, it would simply have diminished the fund which was transferred to the distressed agriculturists. Now, we have not heard any strong complaint of the distress of the shipowners, but there are many who know that a very considerable proportion of ship-owners were for some years suffering quite as much as were the agriculturists in this country. The Tyne and the Wear were crowded with steamers at anchor and laid up, for which there was no profitable employment. These steamers were held very largely in shares by industrious tradesmen, who had put their money into these vessels through limited companies, and I know that many of these limited small owners did suffer very severely, and that relatively their case for assistance was quite as strong as that of the distressed agriculturist. Well, Sir, I am not prepared wholly to condemn this Bill. I think that so far as it breaks up the Mercantile Marine Fund into its 154 component parts, and especially so far as it limits the charge on shipowners for lighthouse purposes—although I think, as has been said, that it creates new anomalies in the place of those which it removes, and that it will especially bear hard upon the owners of small river and coasting craft—yet I think that to the extent to which it goes it is well. The misfortune is that it does not go far enough. I will not call it even a half-and-half Measure. I think it is more a quarter-and-quarter Measure than a half-and-half Measure. It leaves so much undone when there is so much to do that it is of very small account indeed. It is a fault of almost all these Departmental Bills that are suggested by Departmental Committees that they lack boldness and grasp. They are altogether too limited in their scope. This Bill is a mere pottering with, and tinkering with, an old and antiquated system. Now, we are approaching close upon a new century, and I think it would have distinguished the President of the Board of Trade and the Board over which he presides had he resolved boldly to bring our lighthouse system up-to-date. I have made these remarks in support of the hon. Gentleman. The particular point to which I wish to refer, and I do it at the instance of my own Chamber of Commerce, and echoing and re-echoing the resolutions of the Associated Chambers, is that the Bill in no way provides what those Chambers of Commerce have repeatedly represented as most desirable, and that is the direct representation of the shipping interest upon our Lighthouse Boards. The Report of the Departmental Committee set forth very clearly, and with some detail, that the Trinity House is composed almost entirely of shipmasters. It has 11 honorary brethren, all of distinguished political and social position, and we all know the advantage to any Board like that of having these nun, who generally are the heads of successive Governments, in this House. Well, it is a very anomalous constitution—as I shall show the constitution of each of our lighthouse Boards to be—but I will say this for the Trinity House, that the elder brethren and the younger brethren, from their experience as shipmasters, do know from their own observation and experience what lights are required, where they 155 should be placed, and the character of the lights that they should place there. Although the constitution of the Board is anomalous—it has not a shipowner upon it—practically there is less to be said against it than against any one of the other two Boards. Mr. Speaker, as frequently as I can I go up and down the east coast, and in doing so I spend as much of my time as I can with the master and mate on the bridge. In that way I have become conversant with our system of lighting, and I am not going to make any attack upon the brethren of Trinity House. The east coast, from the Thames, certainly, to Berwick, is, I should say, on the whole, as well lighted as any coast in the world. Therefore I am not bringing any accusation against it. But, now that we have the representative system applied to every method of administration, it certainly is in a backward position so far as the Trinity House is concerned. Coming to the Northern Lights Commission, they were established a century ago. At that time the Government of Scotland was in the hands of the Lord Advocate, who was a lawyer, and as such went on the principle that there is nothing like leather. His idea was that the best mode to constitute the Northern Lights Commission was to fill it with lawyers, the result being that there are 20 sheriffs upon it, who correspond, as nearly as possible, to the county court judges in England. I have a great respect for Scotch sheriffs: they are gentlemen learned in the law; they carry out their legal duties with great fairness and ability, and are esteemed for the work they do; but what would be thought if it were proposed that a like number of shipowners and nautical men were set up to preside in the law courts of Scotland? I am not speaking of them disrespectfully in any way in their professional capacity. I know many of them, and I respect them, but it is said that a sea lawyer is not a very reputable personage on board ship. What I do complain of is that lawyers are not precisely the men who are best qualified to deal with such questions as the lighting of our coasts. In addition to these 20 sheriffs, there are 10 lord provosts and bailies upon the Commission; but, while that is so nominally, a table of attendances which appears as an Appendix to the Report of the Departmental Committee shows that, with the 156 exception of the Lord Provost of Edin burgh, the First Bailie of Edinburgh, and the Provost of Leith, there is only one of the remainder of these gentlemen who has attended more than once during the year. Now, Sir, with regard to the sheriffs sitting on the Northern Lights Commission, I think it will at once be obvious that they must be almost entirely in the hands of the officials and the experts of the Board. I know from experience that this is the case. On two occasions I have made written representations to the Commissioners on points which were represented to me by nautical men who were constantly passing up and down the coasts. One was with regard to the North Carr Light—a floating light on the coast near the entrance to the Forth—and I put it before the Commissioners that the light was very—
§ *SIR JOHN LENG
I will follow what you say, Mr. Speaker. I must point out that in one respect—I will merely allude to it—its administration is very inferior to that of the Trinity House, because the Trinity House has laid down the principle that lighthouses all along the coast shall be lit at sunset, but the Northern Lights Commissioners have a table of their own, and the frequent complaint is that vessels approach the coasts after sunset, when the lights are not lighted, and very serious danger may be apprehended from that. Well, Mr. Speaker, that was pointed out, but a most unsatisfactory answer was given. The Shipmasters' Association in Scotland, representing 2,000 shipmasters and officers, have sent in a very strong memorial on this point. I am not going further than to say that this Bill is very unsatisfactory, inasmuch as it does not provide that the commercial, and more particularly the shipping, interests should be represented on the Boards, and there is the less excuse for this omission because now you have Chambers of Commerce, who would be glad to send representatives to such Boards. Passing now to the Irish Lights, they are still worse, as the Irish Board is co-optative, and it is merely by accident if anyone connected with the shipping 157 interest is upon it. Complaints have been made over and over again with regard to the Irish Board. There are, I think, five representatives, if not more, connected with the City of Dublin. We know how important are the interests of Londonderry, Queenstown, and other ports, and yet these have no direct representation on the Irish Lights Board. Well, Sir, I think that the time has arrived when all these matters should be set right, and that attention should be given in this House to the feeling of those who are connected in any way with the shipping interest; that, until your lighthouse system is placed under the administration of representative Boards, it will be most unsatisfactory. I admit that, so far as they go, the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman are good, but now is the opportunity for doing much more for the shipping interest than has been attempted. I should be glad if even now the right hon. Gentleman could see his way to introduce into this Bill clauses which would give effect to what I know is the general desire, and which has been expressed over and over again by the resolutions of our Chambers of Commerce, and also which I know to be the feeling in the mercantile marine, that there should be direct representation of their interests on the Lighthouse Boards.
§ *MR. CHARLES MCARTHUR (Liverpool, Exchange)
Sir, although I think this Bill is inadequate and defective in some respects, I nevertheless contend that it is a Measure of real, genuine good to the shipping industry, and an honest attempt to carry into effect the recommendations of the Committee of 1896. This is the first occasion within my recollection upon which a Bill has been brought forward by the Government of the day with the object of granting relief to shipping. On that ground, I hope that it will be a precursor of a more considerate course of treatment towards the industry which has been described this evening as the second most important, and which is without doubt the most characteristic industry of our country. We have done very little hitherto to uphold the supremacy of our mercantile marine. The great maritime nations of the Continent have sought, by 158 means of bounties, subsidies, and the like, to strengthen their merchant navies, while we seem to have pursued a policy of imposing fresh burdens and restrictions on the shipping industry and making its conditions from year to year more difficult. What has been the result of all this? It is that, although we have a preponderance of the world's tonnage, other nations are beginning to outstrip us in the size and speed of their vessels, and our shipowners, being so overburdened, have been obliged to get their labour in the cheapest market, so that the British seamen have, to a great extent, been displaced by foreigners. One of the burdens of which shipowners complain is that during the last 13 years more than a million of money has been taken from them in excess of the requirements of light dues, and applied to other purposes, and this has been wrung from them in a time of severe depression, when their ships have to a large extent been laid up for want of remunerative employment. I do not think that this anomaly is being left by the Government unrectified under this Bill, but that in taking the course they are now pursuing they are doing an act of justice which has been too long delayed. Upon this point I join issue with the hon. Member for King's Lynn, whose contention is that the anomaly is not redressed. With regard to the second great anomaly which the Bill is intended to remove, the hon. Member for King's Lynn has also reminded us of the fact that the charges for lights are distributed over shipping in a most unequal and irregular way. I would remind the House that this question of lights has already been tested to some extent by shipowners in a recent case, in which they were charged for 29 lights when they only used seven or eight. In that case the shipowners declined to pay the excess, and Trinity House took proceedings to recover the balance. But they eventually withdrew the summons, and left the shipowners masters of the field. There is no doubt that if this Bill had not boon introduced the legality of these charges would have been tested on a more extensive scale. There, again, I think we are entitled to say that you are not making a concession to the shipowners, but only doing an act of justice. 159 But may I just turn for a few moments to the substitute proposed by the Bill? It is proposed that a uniform rate shall be charged, irrespective of the number of lights passed. Now, I quite agree with the hon. Member for King's Lynn that that is supported by no principle and rests entirely upon convenience, although it may to a large extent be justified by convenience. I must say that I regret with him that the Government have not seen their way to place the charge upon an Imperial footing. I quite agree with him that it is our duty as a civilised country, in common with all nations, to have our coasts properly lighted, not only for the benefit of shipowners, but for the benefit of the whole community. Therefore, it seems only reasonable that the cost should be borne by the whole community. Now, I find that this change is spoken of by the Departmental Committee as a "radical revolution." I was very much struck by the exact words used in the Report, because they seem to go beyond the proposal. Then they go on to say that there is a still greater change in view. Well, I do not know what greater change there can be than a radical revolution short of complete abolition. I am afraid that the change does not even amount to a radical revolution, because a radical revolution would have gone to the root of the matter, with a view of bringing the system into harmony with first principles. A radical revolution which stops halfway satisfies nobody. It is a matter for regret that the Government do not see their way on this occasion to nationalise the lighthouse system. It has been suggested, in connection with this matter, that another Committee should be appointed. For my part I do not see the use of multiplying special committees if their recommendations are not followed. If the Government had not been persuaded by four Committees, are they likely to be persuaded by a fifth? May I remind the House that commercial opinion has been expressed emphatically in favour of the adoption of the course suggested in the Amendment, and resolutions have been passed by the Associated Chambers of Commerce advocating its adoption. The year before last this resolution was 160 passed by the Congress of Chambers of Commerce of the Empire:—That the levying of light dues on shipping should be abolished, and the cost of maintaining the lighthouses, beacons, buoys, etc., on the coasts of the United Kingdom should in future be a charge on the Consolidated Fund;and a resolution, almost in the same terms, was discussed only yesterday by the Associated Chambers of Commerce in London. At the same time, whilst I feel very strongly upon the matter, if the Government firmly decline to accede to the course suggested, the Bill offers so much that is valuable to those interested in the prosperity of the shipping industry that I think it would be a mistake to press the Amendment, Now, I agree with the remark made by the hon. Member for Dundee as to the anomalies that are perpetuated by the Bill, and I fail to see, for instance, why the anomaly has not been removed under which practically the whole of the dues are charged when only part of the cargo is carried. Another great anomaly, of course, is the exemption of the Navy I cannot at all see why the mercantile marine should bear the whole cost of lighting the coasts of the United Kingdom, especially when the tonnage system introduced by the Bill would afford the means of arriving at what would be a reasonable contribution by the Navy. In commenting upon this question in this Report, I think the Departmental Committee have ignored what has been so well called by the hon. Member for Islington, "the element of economic friction," and unless some of the provisions of the Bill are carefully readjusted in Committee, I am very much afraid they may lead to the creation of fresh anomalies. I agree with the hon. Member for King's Lynn, that the Bill does not carry out the principle that those who use the lights pay for them. The principle upon which I understand the Bill to be framed is that vessels ought to be taxed according to their earning capacity. If that be so, very great care will have to be taken to ensure that this principle is carried out. So far as I am acquainted with, shipping opinion, it is that the Bill should be accepted in part, though not in its entirety, and on the understanding 161 that the details will be subject to revision, and, with regard to the Bill generally, that certain modifications will be asked for in Committee. I heartily concur in the suggestion that shipowners should have a direct voice in the management of the lights. This would have a double advantage, because, in the first place, those who pay the money will have representation, and, in the next place, it will be satisfactory to the shipowners to know how this money has been spent, while, on the other hand, it will be a great advantage to have represented on the Lighthouse Board those who know most about the shipping trade. Now, in conclusion, I would reiterate my conviction that the Bill is a great improvement on the existing system, in that it will tend, to some extent, to relieve merchant shipping, and to remove anomalies. The Bill, however, will not remove all the anomalies. It will not do so, because the greatest anomaly of all remains, and that is, that the system which benefits the whole of the community will be left chargeable to a section. That is a fundamental anomaly, which cannot be removed without the nationalisation of the lighthouse system. At the same time, it is, as I have said, a measure of reform, and as such it should be accepted, though not as a final and complete settlement of the question.
§ *MR. J. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
I am glad that the hon. Member who has just sat down, and to whom I am sure the House has listened with great pleasure on this the first occasion on which he has addressed it, did not, in his fair and candid speech, commit himself to that general condemnation of the Bill which fell from the hon. Member for King's Lynn, who moved the Amendment, nor did he even so much condemn it as my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee. The hon. Member for Liverpool recognised that the Bill was a fair attempt to deal with a conspicuous grievance, which the shipowners have complained of in times past, and he also called the attention of the House to the fact that, if the shipowners, who enjoy a great deal of influence, are to get their grievances redressed, they should not run the risk of losing this Bill, which, after all, is a valuable instalment. Now, Sir, I should like to say, in the very few remarks with 162 which I propose to trouble the House, that I think we are very much indebted to the Committee for the manner in which they have ventilated this matter, and for the very lucid and careful Report which they have presented—a Report which is all the better for being so concise. They have had to deal with what is really an extremely complicated question. Only those who remember how complicated this question was before it was cleared up by the Report of the Committee can fully realise the obligations under which we ought to feel to them for what they have done in the preparation of this Report. I should like to make special acknowledgment of our indebtedness to my right hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin for the extreme care and skill with which the Report has been drawn. Now, Mr. Speaker, the Bill I think is a, valuable Bill, because it remedies the considerable grievances of which the shipowners have to complain. In the first place, it devotes all the proceeds of light dues entirely to the lighting of the coasts. The shipowners had reason to complain before that a large part of the money raised by light dues went to defray expenses. These expenses are all connected with our mercantile marine, and the expenditure of the money was justified on the ground that it was connected with a branch of industry. In the next place, the Bill in its schedule very much simplifies the system upon which charges for light dues have hitherto been made; and, in the third place, the Bill removes exemptions. Now I suppose nobody has argued that these exemptions ought not to be removed. The only question really has been whether or no the exemption ought to be removed from the Royal Navy. On that point I confess that the arguments used by the Committee carry weight in my mind. To impose a portion of the light dues on Her Majesty's Navy will not only have the effect of more or less hampering their movements, and exposing them to troublesome calculations, but it will be equivalent to a grant from the Imperial funds in aid of light dues. The question can really be argued as if it were a question of whether there ought not to be an annual grant from the Exchequer as a subsidy for light dues. It would come to that, and all the arguments that might apply to 163 that might apply to the removal of these exemptions. I confess that the two arguments which were used on page 17 of the Committee's Report—which I will not recapitulate—are perfectly sound arguments. That brings me, Sir, to the two points upon which the Bill is attacked. One of them is embodied in the Amendment of the hon. Member for King's Lynn, and the other has been raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee and the hon. Member for Liverpool. These two questions are whether or no the whole light dues should be taken off the shipowners and the expense of maintaining our lighthouses be thrown upon the national revenue, and whether this Bill ought to be extended to reconstruct the three lighthouse authorities over the United Kingdom. Upon the first question, which is an important question—that of throwing the lighthouse maintenance upon the general revenue of the country—I would observe that it is not especially a question for any Departmental Committee or for any Committee of this House. It is a question of general policy; it is as much a question of general policy as any question arising on I confess that the Departmental Committee were perfectly well advised in not considering this question, even to show the Committee that there would have been little use in considering a question which did not depend upon any special knowledge, but was simply one of principle. Now, we are driven to ask what are the general arguments on the basis of which shipowners seek to be relieved from this charge? I listened with attention to the speech of the hon. Member for King's Lynn. I confess I do not like any of his arguments bearing upon this question, and I failed to find in them very much that threw any light upon the question. Foreign ships have passed from Hamburg and Antwerp to this country, and they have had the benefit of our lights, but English ships have derived great benefits from the lights on the coasts of Germany and France; and if we confer certain benefits on foreign ships foreign countries confer certain benefits upon us. The hon. Member argued that, in the view of the Committee, the charge—and I think it was a sound view—for maintaining our lighthouses and the light 164 dues was, in the long run, paid by the consumer. I understand the hon. Member for King's Lynn agrees that they are a charge upon the consumer. [Mr. GIBSON BOWLES: I neither agree nor disagree.] Then you have omitted to settle one of the most difficult parts of the question upon which the subject ought to be approached. The Committee think—and I believe almost all financial authorities believe—that under the present state of things these lighthouse dues are really paid by the whole of the articles carried in our ships. That would not be the case if we were allowed to impose these dues de novo. It would not be denied that, if the shipping community did not pay these lighthouse dues, they would be a charge, probably for some years to come, paid by the shipowners in the same way. If we were suddenly to remove these dues, the remission would not at once benefit the general community; it would benefit the shipowners. We should be practically putting a sum of money into the pockets of shipowners if we were suddenly to remit these dues, which are at present a charge which they reckon in conducting their business, and which in that way are paid, not by them, but by the whole of the community, whose goods they carry. I believe that will be admitted; and in the meantime the shipowners will have the benefit, and we shall distribute these dues by a system which will largely benefit the shipowner. The argument seems to be, "Let things stand as they are," and, although. I desire—as I have no doubt everyone else does—to keep a perfectly open mind on this important question, still I do not think that so far we have had any reasons given why we should disturb the present system and impose a charge of nearly £500,000 upon the general revenue of the country, or why we should benefit an industry which has been benefited very largely already. The hon. Member for King's Lynn said that we have persecuted the shipping industry. Why, there is not one of our industries more flourishing, and which bears a higher proportion to the total capital of the country, or in which we have shown more conspicuous superiority to other countries, than in our shipping industries. The enterprise, the skill, 165 and the boldness of our shipowners and the general commercial prosperity of this country have enabled us to secure a mercantile marine which I believe comprises half the whole mercantile marine of the world. The hon. Member for Liverpool said that there had been some distress amongst shippers—a fact which we are well aware of; but he admitted also that that distress had passed away, and that at present the shipping industry is in a better state. I say, therefore, that, so far as I can see at present, while desiring to approach the question with all fairness, no argument has been given on behalf of the shipowners why we should make this very large grant. The other question which has been raised, not in the words of the Amendment, but in the speeches by which it has been supported, is the question of the constitution of the light house Boards. In the present Bill—which has not dealt with that subject, although I think that it might well be said that it might have done—the Departmental Committee did not exclude that question in the same decided way in which they excluded the question of the relief of these dues from the National Exchequer. On the contrary, they admitted subjects upon which they have taken some very interesting evidence, and on page 18 of that Report they deal with it, although, no doubt, in the same imperfect way. It is a very important question, and I am sorry that it is not definitely settled. At the same time I must say I should be sorry to lose this Bill for the sake of raising this particular question. How, Sir, does the matter stand? Of course, I shall not go into details, bearing in mind your ruling. I shall only call the attention of the House to this fact: there are three light-house authorities in the United Kingdom, two of them minor ones for Scotland and Ireland, and under the supervision of the special authority for England, but all three are, for financial purposes, under the control of the Board of Trade. The English Board is Trinity House, for Scotland it is the Northern Lights Commission, and the Irish authority is a Board constituted on the principle of co-optation, in which no one is chosen on the principle of direct representation. Trinity House is a Board consisting entirely 166 of ex-officio persons, and the Irish Board is a purely co-optive Board. I think the argument is really more forcible that the shipowners are entitled to have some knowledge of how the money is spent, and that they should have some share in the responsibility. It must also be remembered that there are many institutions which work a great deal better in practice than the theory would lead you to expect, and I think this is true of these Boards. It is true of more important things than these Boards. It it true of the British Constitution itself. Many criticisms have been made of that Constitution, which, in theory, are strong, but which fail altogether in practice. So these three Boards have done much better than their abstract critics would have expected them to do. The Trinity House Board is not only a body of great, antiquity, of great prestige, and of considerable social influence, but it is composed of high scientific experts. There are no ornamental members on that Board, but they are all men of the highest experience and knowledge, and among them are contained the flower of our naval and mercantile marine, and in? men are more competent to deal with this question than they are; therefore I think there will be a general feeling that, if any change were made, it would not be to exclude the scientific element on that Board. I should like to pay them this acknowledgment of the manner in which the members of the Trinity House Board have devoted themselves to their very important duties. The House will feel that in this matter great scientific knowledge is absolutely necessary. Our lighthouse administration has become a more important matter, in which scientific knowledge and accomplishments are absolutely essential. Anyone who has followed the discussion on lighthouse administration, who has studied the different kinds of illuminants which ought to be used in lights, who has made himself acquainted with the different kinds of instruments by which sound can be made to travel—because these sound signals are of the greatest importance—must, feel that you cannot have too many first-rate scientific experts to deal with the duties of these Boards. Therefore, when the question of constituting these Boards is considered, every means should be taken for providing a thoroughly 167 competent scientific body. I come now to the Northern Lights Commission. It is a body which does not contain especially scientific men, nor does it contain, except accidentally, the representatives of the shipping interests. Of course, the provosts of cities and towns are all of them concerned in mercantile affairs, and they often happen to be shipowners themselves, but they are not necessarily so; and, on the other hand, the sheriffs of the maritime counties are not necessarily men of special knowledge. I will only say this, although these Boards are in theory not very sound, they are in practice a very effective body. Anyone who has any experience in the Board of Trade will bear me out in saying that no body could have been more energetic and active than the Northern Lights Commission. They are constantly pressing the Board of Trade to spend a great deal more money, and they are always putting forward strong and valuable arguments in support of these dues, and it they are to be reconstituted I think, at any rate, they ought to die with glory, and it ought to be known that they have discharged very important functions and have discharged them in a very satisfactory way. The Irish Lights Board is a Board which has, on the whole, done well, but I am bound to say it has given much less satisfaction than the other two Boards, and I do not think anybody can come forward here and defend the constitution of the Irish Board. I think that was generally felt in this House when, in the Session of the year 1894, a Bill was brought forward which received the assent of the House in principle, although the particular details did not secure the passing of the Second Reading of the Bill. The Irish Lights Board does, no doubt, need to be reformed, and, as was said by the Member for Dundee, tee great commercial community of Belfast has not necessarily any representative on that Board, although it possesses more than half of the mercantile marine of Ireland. I think, therefore, we may fairly say that this is a question which requires immediate attention. I will not press the hon. Gentleman to introduce into the Bill provision for the reconstituting of these Boards. I should not, in any case, do so with regard to Trinity House, but I will not even press for the reconstitution of the Irish Board, because it 168 is a very difficult question, and although it is easy to criticise the present Boards, it is not easy to suggest how the new Boards shall be constituted. I think a great deal of time will be required to be spent upon the subject before such a suggestion can be made, and probably there will not be time for that this Session. I hope the Board of Trade will bear in mind that these two Boards—the Irish and the Scotch Boards—do not give unqualified satisfaction in their own country, and that there is a very strong cause for dealing with them, and particularly for putting the Irish Board on an entirely new basis. That being so, Sir, I should like to end by saying that I hope the House will not disapprove of the Second Reading of this Bill, which would be the result of adopting this Amendment, for there is a good deal which desires to be carefully considered in this Bill. I know we must give every attention to any case which can be made out for the shipowners. Of course, you cannot have a scheme for imposing these dues which will not give offence to somebody, and, so far as I can see at present, the Committee have done their very best to hold an even balance, and to sail upon an even keel, as between coasters and the home trade generally and foreign ships. That is a matter which we ought to consider fairly in Committee, looking at the fact that these dues confer considerable benefit on the shipowners, that they remedy long-standing grievances, that its does not prejudge the case upon the other two points brought forward, and that attempts to largely extend the Measure might probably involve its hiss during the present Session. I hope the-Amendment will not be carried, and that we shall have the satisfaction at the end of the Session of feeling that these grievances have been reduced, and that an earnest of our good intentions to shipowners will be given by the House in the adoption of this Measure.
§ *SIR THOMAS SUTHERLAND (Greenock)
I am sorry that I was not here earlier to hear my right hon. Friend's remarks in support of the Bill. I am bound to say that, with regard to Trinity House, I can hardly conceive that the work could be carried out in a more efficient manner than it is being 169 done at present. Nor, Sir, do I attach quite so much importance as my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee to the representation of shipowners in respect to these bodies which are responsible for the lighting of our coast. My experience of shipowners—and I speak as one directly in touch with them—is that they are far too occupied in their own business to give that attention to the work, which is really a scientific matter and requires most serious attention in order to do it properly. Well, Sir, with regard to the main questions, I rise to say that I intend to support the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Kind's Lynn, and I do so because I regard that Amendment as in the nature of a demonstration towards an end which, I think, will certainly be accomplished at some time or other. I am only sorry that the Government—for their sake and for the sake of the popularity which they would have obtained in every shipping port of the United Kingdom—did not think fit to adopt the recommendation of the influential Committees of the House that the lighthouse costs should be borne by the community at large. The hon. Member for King's Lynn has no completely and thoroughly argued in favour of the shipowners that I feel we are under considerable obligation to him in the matter which he has brought forward, and I find it difficult to add very much to the very lucid explanations with which his statement was accompanied. But I have one or two observations to make. In the first place, I supposed the raison dêtre of this Bill was a large reduction of dues in favour of the shipping interest. My hon. Friend the Member for King's Lynn has pointed out with absolute accuracy that during the last few years the shipping industry has paid upwards of £1,000,000 more than they ought to have done for the purpose of bearing the burden of lighting our coasts. Yet all the Bill professes to do is to reduce this by something like £100,000, and nearly 50 per cent. of that is at once cut off by charges which are superimposed on the new Lighthouse Fund. I do say that we might have expected the absolute reduction of a very much larger amount than that which we are likely to receive. The next observation I have to make is as 170 regards the principle on which these, new dues are to be imposed. So far as I can perceive from a close examination of the text of the Bill, and a comparison with figures actual and figures projected by the character of the Bill, I believe this Measure will not be equitable or fair. I find that to those ships which trade to the remoter ports of the East there will be no reduction, but under a certain interpretation of the Bill I believe there will be a considerable addition made to the charges for light to ships proceeding to Australia, China, and even to Calcutta. Now, Sir, we know that the theory on which these charges is based is that the shipowners recover them from their customers. I must say that that being so I am surprised that it did not occur to the Committee over which my right hon. Friend presided that if that theory was absolute it would be right and proper to have a fixed rate applicable to vessels of every description. I am sure my right hon. Friend, with all his experience, is not prepared to say that the American trade is in a worse position in point of profit than the Australian trade; yet the facts of the case, so far as I can judge, is that they actually put a burden on the ships in the Australian trade, and in the China trade and the Calcutta trade, while they remove a burden from the ships in the Atlantic trade. I hoped that my right hon. Friend and those who served with him on that Committee would do even-handed justice all round in this matter; but I am not surprised they have failed, because I am quite certain it passes the wit of man to devise any scheme for imposing those lighthouse dues winch shall be absolutely equitable. It has never been done, and it never will be done. On the broad principles of justice the burden ought to be imposed where it can be fairly, justly, and equitably borne. I have really hardly time and patience to notice the argument in my right hon. Friend's Report, and repeated in the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade's speech, with regard to the exemption of the Navy. In the course of this discussion mention has been made of the manner in which these dues are indirectly imposed by certain other countries, and I think reference has been made, principally to France in this connection. I am glad 171 to be able to tell the House that not only are the ships exempted from light dues in France, but that France recently made a large and generous reduction in those port dues which it is to be supposed are more or less in substitution for the light dues. I am speaking within the facts of the case when I say that I believe the reduction in dues in such a port as Marseilles has been not less than 33 per cent. very recently, and I venture to say that under this Bill it will be a long time before the shipowners obtain a reduction of 33 per cent. on the light dues. No doubt I may have repeated some of the arguments made by my hon. Friend who spoke before; but I end my remarks by saying that I consider the hon. Member who introduced this Amendment has done a great service to the shipping interest. I hope he will persevere, and I certainly shall support him by my vote. If he is defeated—which I hope he will not be—I trust at some future time he will bring the matter forward; because I am convinced that, whether the time be shorter or longer, eventually this burden will be transferred to the quarter in which it ought to lie.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)
The hon. Member for Dundee and the right hon. Member for Aberdeen have severely criticised what I consider a bad blot on the Bill. I can remember in this House frequent occasions on which the conduct of the Northern Lights Commissioners has been brought before the House and overhauled by it; but I am bound to say that a more disgraceful exhibition than that presented by these accounts I have never heard in the course of my membership. The Irish Board is admittedly even worse than the Scotch. There is this great difference—that whereas the Northern Lights Commissioners are well advised by competent scientific officers, the Irish Board are not even in that position. The administration of the Irish Board is a disgrace to the United Kingdom. I will say at once that it is not possible to entirely separate the principle laid down by the hon. Member for King's Lynn from other subjects that lie outside it. The shipowners are of the same mind in objecting to pay light dues; but I go further, and say that many of the fees 172 levied upon them are in the nature of a payment for services, which in the case of all other industries are borne by the State. We are behind other countries not only with regard to light dues, but with regard to other matters. It would I not be possible for us to adopt the principle of my hon. Friend the Member for King's Lynn and free shipowners from, these dues without at the same time asking them to come under certain other obligations to the country. They would have to come under a system of employers' liability. They would probably have to carry out the provisions recommended by Sir Edward Reed's Committee last year with regard to undermanning, and some attempt would have to be made by the Government to meet the terrible evil of which the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty spoke last year—I mean the decline of the number of British seamen in the British Merchant Navy. He said last year, and he used the same words this year—If the shipowners cannot, or wiil not, employ British seamen, what is to become of the maritime greatness of this country?The policy for this House to contemplate is to free the shipping industry from the hampering restrictions which do not exist in other trades, and which are unwise and unjust. While I think that the trade is hampered by these restrictions, I think it would have to come under some form of legislation with regard to employers' liability. The shipowners would have to adopt the provisions with regard to undermanning which were recommended by the majority of Sir Edward Reed's Committee. They would also have to train boys.
On the return of Mr. SPEAKER after the usual interval,
§ *MR. G. DRAGE (Derby)
This is a question in which the constituents of the Midland towns take a great interest when once it is brought before them that a burden of about half a million sterling is yearly laid upon the shipping industry, and when they consider the serious decline of the British mercantile marine. I desire to lay before the Board of Trade a few figures as to that decline. In the first place there is the labour question, to which the right hon. Member for the 173 Forest of Dean slightly alluded, the decrease of young seamen, largely duo, no doubt, to the fact that, owing to the burdens laid on the shipowners, they are compelled to employ fewer hands, Little attention has been called to the last returns, in which a comparison is made between 1891 and 1896, which showed a total decrease of 6,570 seamen, and of these the decrease of seamen under 30 was 5,221. The figures are more remarkable when taken for individual years. We have, on the other side, to compare the action taken by foreign Governments with regard to this matter, and particularly the action taken by the Russian Government for promoting seamanship—
§ *MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! The hon. Gentleman must confine himself to the subject-mutter of the Bill.
§ *MR. DRAGE
I am coming more particularly to the labour interest in the Bill, and that is the employment of fishermen, which will be greatly affected by this Bill which brings them for the first time under the light dues.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE
My hon. Friend will understand that the Bill only refers to the fish-carriers, not to the fishermen themselves.
§ *MR. DRAGE
Then they are to that extent affected. There is a clause in the Bill which brings the fishermen and those connected with the trade under a burden which we think they ought not to bear. I may point out in passing that while German fisheries have increased 12.4 per cent. in recent years, ours have decreased. The decrease of fishermen, if this Bill is passed in its present form, will be more marked than it has hitherto been.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! The hon. Gentleman is not entitled to discuss the decrease of fishermen.
§ *MR. DRAGE
I was only going to say the best school for practical seamanship has been shown to be the sailing ship. My desire, with regard to this Bill, is to see the light dues abolished, and to 174 ask if Her Majesty's Government will take into consideration the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for King's Lynn and modify the Bill in that direction, on this ground, among others. In late years the sailing ships and steamers of the mercantile marine have diminished in a most remarkable degree. Facts have been brought to my notice which I do not think have been laid before the Board of Trade, to which I wish to draw their attention. The decrease of sailing ships is twofold. In the first place, with regard to construction, the sailing ships in 1892 were 24 per cent. of the whole, whilst in 1897 it was only three per cent. of a much smaller output. We find that in France, in October, 1896, there were 16,139 tons of sailing shipping on the stocks, while in the United Kingdom there were only 6,949 tons. In France five ships were building over 2,900 tons; in England only two ships over 2,400 tons. But it is a still more remarkable state of affairs it we consult the register. According to some figures cited in the merchant shipping papers, and particularly in the Marine Review, there has been a remarkable and enormous disappearance of shipping from the register of the United Kingdom in the last few years. There has been a disappearance of 506,000 tons in the course of the last 12 months; that is to say, of more than twice the net decrease of the whole world—a fact which indicates a corresponding increase elsewhere. If we consider the contrast for the last 20 years—and I may remind the House that it is in the last 20 years that the burden of the light dues has been most bitterly felt by the shipping industry—we find that in 1876 the number of ships was 20,635, with a tonnage of 5,829,000 tons; in 1897,8,545 ships, with a tonnage of 3,098,000 tons; that is to say, in the years in which these dues have pressed most heavily on the shipping industry, we have a 50 per cent. decrease in tons and a 60 per cent. decrease in the number of ships. If we look at Germany, we find that there is a decrease in sailing whips of 20 per cent. in the number of ships and of only three per cent. in the number of tons. But the evil that has been inflicted by the burdens which shipowners have to bear is not confined to sailing ships. If we take all 175 the steamship lines, the net increase of tonnage last year was only 8,627 tons. But a decrease is observable not only in the smaller and less important lines of steamships, but also in the great lines. Ten years ago there went from Liverpool to New York a regular service of five great lines: the Cunard, the White Star, the Guion, the Inman, and the National. Now there are only two left. If we take the recent dispatch of Sir Arthur Hardinge, who had considered this question of the burden borne by our ships in British East Africa, we find that Germany pays large subsidies, amounting to £45,000 a year, whereas our Government, not only levies these light dues, but pays a much smaller subsidy of £8,000. The result is that direct service to London has disappeared. There is a further and important point in connection with the big lines. Out of the 12 largest passenger ships in the world—each over 10,000 tons—eight are German, two American, and only two are English. Again, if we take the speed of these ships, and that is a most important point, out of 24 big liners with an ocean speed of over 19 knots only six are English, seven German, five Russian, four belong to the United States and one to France. These are all countries which have not to bear the burden which is imposed upon the shipping interest in our own country, while the United States even levies retaliatory tonnage dues on our shipping. If we look back, we find that it is a curious fact that in the years in which this burden has become most burdensome upon the shipping industry the transformation has taken place. In 1880 we owned all the fastest steamers, in 1885 two-thirds, in 1889 half, and now we only own a quarter. At this rate, if no real help is rendered to the shipping industry, it would appear that in the next few years all the fastest ships will be foreign, and, if we consider the question of coal endurance, radius of action, and superior speed over war vessels and transports, it will appear that in the time of war, when we have to employ our fastest ships as merchant cruisers, this country will be under a serious disadvantage. But it is not only so with regard to the great liners. The same facts are borne out when we come to look at the smaller vessels—the tramps—which go round the coast, and 176 which are peculiarly hit by the light dues. In their case we find that, owing to the burdens of our system, our shipowners are compelled to transfer their ships to foreign flags. In 1897 the tonnage of ships sold to foreigners amounted to 387,794 tons; 28,657 more than in 1895, and 48,519 more than in 1896. The result is that owing to the dues and taxes imposed we find our ships being transferred from our flag to other flags, to compete with our own ships at a greatly reduced expenditure, and naturally a greatly increased earning power. Now, our rivals are, first and foremost, Germany in the near future, and Russia later. When we come to consider the chances of victory of our own ships in this struggle, it must be clear to the House, if the House will consider the advantages which German shipowners have, that we should endeavour to re move any obstacles in the way of our own. Legislation in Germany is used freely to benefit her shipowners, and vast subsidies are granted in aid. The total State and local expenditure for harbours, etc., up to last year amounted to £37,500,000, and wherever we compare the policy of our own Government with the policy of those Towers which must in the near future be our most dangerous rivals we find that our shipowners and our sailors are placed at a most grievous disadvantage. The recent answer of the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in this House has clearly shown that Russia and Germany intend to push—
§ *MR. SPEAKER
I must again remind the hon. Member that this is a Bill relating to light dues, and he must treat it accordingly.
§ *MR. DRAGE
Of course, Mr. Speaker, I will bow to your ruling, and confine myself more particularly to the question of light dues. My only object was to show that it is the general opinion that light dues which have been imposed in times past upon the shipping industry have been attended with prejudicial results, and should be removed, and that no half measure will be of any per- 177 manent value. Reference has been made by the Member for Aberdeen to the question of the different authorities under which the light dues are managed in this country. I am sorry that he made no suggestion, and no suggestion has been brought to the notice of the President of the Board of Trade, for the concentration of those different authorities under one central board, whether it be the Board of Trade or some board specially constituted for that purpose. Those hon. Members interested in shipping questions are well aware that at every point, if a question arises as to the lights between Liverpool and America, we are met with a multiplicity of authorities. We apply, first of all, to the Irish Light Commissioners, and are perhaps sent to the Board of Trade, and then, perhaps, we have to stop and inquire at the Post Office on the way. I should like to suggest to the President of the Board of Trade whether it would not be possible for him, perhaps in a later Bill, if not in this Bill, to bring in some provision which would do away with the immense loss of time and energy which arises from this confusion of authorities, and bring about at the same time some similarity of action between the different boards which manage the lights which our ships are obliged to pass on their voyages from England to America. The total abolition of the light dues has been advocated by the hon. Member for King's Lynn on many grounds, and particularly on the ground that the Navy, yachts, and foreign traders passing up and down Channel between foreign ports are exempt. Other arguments have been used in opposition to the present Bill, for instance, that the sum exacted will exceed previous dues, but I do not press these now upon the House. I will, however, venture to remind the House that one of the largest associations in this country—the Liverpool Association of Steam Shipowners—which has already been represented by my hon. Friend the Member for the Exchange Division of Liverpool, here to-night—an association 40 years old, with 19 per cent. of all British steamship owners enrolled among its members, 25 per cent. of British ships over 3,000 tons, and 23 per cent. of ships over 12 knots—have, in their report this year, advocated the total abolition of 178 these dues as the only step we can take to solve all existing difficulties completely. Reference has been made this evening to the fact that, as the discussion goes on, it is likely that difference of opinion will be shown by hon. Members, who represent different constituencies connected with the shipping trade. I would venture humbly to make an appeal to all those representing the shipping interest to act together on this question. I am not in any sense a Russophobe or a Germanophobe, if I may use the term; but one cannot but admire the consistency and the intelligence with which these foreign countries have supported their mercantile marine, and the sacrifices they have made, especially in the case of Germany, to bring their trade up to a level with our own. In 1896, for the first time in the history of merchant shipping, the German shipping outstripped our own in the port of Hamburg. It is certain that, sooner or later, unless everything is done by this House which is possible, with the advantages which Continental ports have in the great gathering ground behind them, they must outstrip our own mercantile marine. I do earnestly press upon this House that here, at any rate, is a grievance, and a real grievance, which can be removed. Shipowners do not ask for bounties, or even large subsidies, they ask for justice, and the barest justice—the removal of a burden which, as the greatest authority on shipping this evening has informed us, the shipping of no other country but Turkey has to bear. I do suggest to the President of the Board of Trade that, if this is all he can do for shipping, he will give us some hope that before the close of this Parliament something more will be done to remove what is a great and unjust burden on our most important industry.
§ SIR J. AUSTIN (Yorkshire, W.R., Osgoldcross)
was understood to say that he could not enter into the technicalities which had been so much discussed. He must venture to say that it was contrary to the principles of that House that local charges and local expenditure should fall upon the Imperial Exchequer.
§ *SIR A. K. ROLLIT (Islington, S.)
My hon. Friend behind me expressed regret that the President 179 of the Board of Trade had not dealt with the lighthouse authorities in this Bill. For my own part, as I think the Bill promises something for the benefit of the shipping industry, I am glad that he has avoided that controversial subject, and one which would have added considerably to the difficulty of carrying the Bill through the House. I desire to express the great obligation which we owe to the elder brethren of the Trinity House, who have lent great assistance to the maritime industry of this country, both on our coasts and in our Courts of Justice. With reference to the point suggested by the hon. Member for Dundee, that the Scotch Board was a board of lawyers—the constellation of the "Northern Lights"—I won't venture to follow him in his criticism, but I have more than once heard an argument in favour of reform of the Irish Board, which exists by co-option, and which should have in it an elective element, and for this I have voted. But though there may be room for an elective character in all these boards, and room for more publicity of their proceedings, I do not think that the opportunity would be a good one, when an endeavour is being made to carry out some reforms suggested by the Committee which sat upon the subject dealt with in this Bill. I do not think that much can be said against the need for some measure of relief of the shipping industry in relation to light dues. The confession made by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, in introducing the Bill, to the effect that contributions for lighthouse purposes have been long and systematically collected by the Department, and have not been expended for those purposes, but simply appropriated to other purposes, the money being taken out of the pockets of the shipowners is in itself a complete vindication of this Measure, and I noticed a remark made by the late President of the Board of Trade that he defended this system, and suggested that shipowners did very well under this system of persecution. But nothing can extenuate the system under which these light dues have existed. The remedy has been called for for a very long period, both by Chambers of Shipping and Chambers of Commerce, and I think my hon. Friend who spoke last but one was 180 perfectly correct in saying that they have been a great embargo on the mercantile marine of this country as compared with that of competing nations; and, therefore, I thank the right hon. Gentleman for having at last been willing to do something fee the relief of an industry which has had much persecution, much interference, but which, owing to the enterprise of the shipowning community, has done so much for the mercantile business of the nation. A large sum of money has been abstracted from one class of the community to be devoted to purposes alien to those for which it was provided and that, I think, shows the existence of a grievance and the necessity for a remedy. At present the contributions will be in excess of those that are required for lighting purposes, but there will be this advantage: we shall only have one lighting fund and one lighting expenditure, and if the expenditure should not be so great as has been anticipated, then the contributions under this Measure will be proportionately decreased. [The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE: Certainly.] Thank you. That is in itself, I think, of very great importance. One other merit of the Bill is that it puts an end for ever to that Mercantile Marine Fund, which has been a most complicated fund—one which it was difficult to check, and one which my hon. Friend the Member for King's Lynn has, with great assiduity, continually called attention to; and I congratulate him on behalf of the shipowners for persistently dealing with this subject whenever the Estimates comprising this fund have been before the House. The fund has been like a marine store—composed of a vast number of odds and ends—devoted to a large series of different items of expenditure. It is one which we shall be glad to get rid of, and one which I hope this Bill will bring to a conclusion, in fact, I think I may speak of it as a hulk moored in the stream, and serving only to show the strength of the current of public opinion which was passing it. Now, at least, the shipowners will be relieved of it, and if the expenditure of their money is not in accordance with the Act of Parliament, then a speedy remedy can be brought to bear upon it. Now, I also acknowledge that the scale in this Bill will be an improvement upon the past, even if the pecuniary 181 advantage is not quite what we should wish; and, at any rate, it will save delay and considerable inconvenience in collecting and paying the light dues. But I must say that I think the scale will require some revision. I am not going into the question of the Atlantic or Mediterranean trades, but I hope the House will be careful not to allow Peter to be robbed to pay Paul, and that Hull and the other ports on the North-East coast, to which attention must be directed, will not be placed at a disadvantage with regard to the Baltic trade. I hope that, at any rate, the injustice of the amount of the light dues and their incidence in the past will not be accentuated in the case of these routes by adding to, rather than diminishing, the burden. But, I agree with the hon. Member for King's Lynn in thinking that the Government have missed an opportunity of dealing on principle with this question of the light dues, and placing it directly on the proper fooling which it ought to occupy. There is another point to which I would refer. The idea that the user should bear the burden is as old as the turnpike trusts, but tolls were all abolished in the interest of the general community. The system of light dues is, as it were, a system of tolls upon the sea, but I hope the time is not far distant when that precedent will cease to be followed, and light dues will follow the turnpike tolls into ancient history. I think the duty of seeing to these lights is a national obligation. It is an obligation fulfilled at present by a class for the national benefit, and even for international benefit, and why should one class of shipowners have to contribute for the sake of saving the pockets of foreigners as against their own ships? The late President of the Board of Trade said, "Simply because you cannot get payment from them." But if you cannot do that you ought to be more particularly careful that you place the burden on the right shoulders. If it be right, as it is, that the State should not be taxed for the benefit of a particular class, so I think it is even more just that no class should be taxed for the benefit of the Stale. The Stale is better able, on the whole, because of its large numbers, to bear the burden ban any particular class, whereas the system under this Bill will be to tax 182 those who are only a portion of the State for the benefit of the whole nation. My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade said the ultimate incidence of the tax was on the consumer, but I do not think the House will accept any such general assertion, for nothing is more difficult to prove than where the ultimate incidence of a tax may fall. But supposing the tax does indirectly fall upon the consumer, he asks, why should it be placed there directly? I answer at once the question of my right hon. Friend—because, the inconveniences of collection and the hampering of trade would be avoided, and if the nation paid it now, why should it not take the form of direct incidence? The effect of that, he says, would be that while the burden fell through the ship owner to the consumer, the reverse action would not take place, at any rate for a time. My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade seemed to think relief of the burden would take place in one direction and not in another, while the late President of the Board of Trade also said it would enure for a time at least, for the benefit of the shipowner. All I can say is, that the nation have got a million and a half already collected from the shipowners which has not been applied to the purposes for which the collection was made, so that if there were a temporary burden on the nation it would only recoup what the nation has already got from the shipowners. Mr. Speaker, I desire now to say only one or two words with regard to some exemptions of the Bill, and I think this is a part of the Measure to winch the most careful attention of the House should be given, I, of course, approve of what the shipping interest has long demanded—this is a mailer of detail to some extent—but, of course, I approve that vessels putting in for bunker coal or provisions or stores should be exempt, but I gather from the Bill that while steamers are exempted in this case, when going in for bunker coal or provisions or stores, sailing ships—which are already under considerable disability, which will be comparatively increased by this Bill in consequence of the methods of measuring steamers and sailing vessels respectively—are not exempted even when putting in for provisions or stores. 183 I think this is an omission in the Bill which, in justice to owners of sailing ships, ought to be remedied. They, of course, do not require coal, but as to putting in for provisions or stores they are exactly in the same position as steamers, and ought to have the same advantage. There is a provision with regard to fish carriers to which I would also refer. I think, with my hon. Friends who has spoken, that we ought never to overlook the national importance of the fishing industry of this country. It is composed of hardy men, and is a source of supply for our Naval Reserves, as well as a source of wholesome food supply of no ordinary character. Well, I fail to see the distinction between the fish carrier and the fishing vessel. Both are used alike. The fishing vessel makes her catch, and frequently brings it home into port, either under sail or steam. The fish carrier simply receives the fish from the sailing vessel and takes it as a trawler would do, going under steam into port. Where is the distinction in point of principle between the two cases? And if, as I think, there is no ground for exemption, this looks like the thin end of the wedge towards removing the exemption of fishing vessels, which I hope we shall endeavour to protest against. The other exemption is one which is of great importance to the shipowning class, and against which they are going, I hope, to make the strongest protest in Committee—I mean the exemption of Her Majesty's ships. These are really the ships of the State, the ships of the community, and I ask why should one class, the shipping interest, directly or indirectly, bear this burden while the whole community which owns our ships of war is to be entirely exempt? It seems to me that it is a clear case of one class bearing the burden of the State, whereas the State, rather than a small class should boar its own burden. Now, I will refer with great respect to one or two of the reasons discussed before the Departmental Committee by which this exemption was made. The first is that the Crown is not bound by a Statute unless it is expressly mentioned. We have heard before of the wrong which exists in relation to preference in the case of Crown debts until justice was done by an Act of Parliament. Again, in regard 184 to collisions, there is in the Merchant Shipping Act no limitation of liability whatever on this technical ground, and I desire most emphatically to protest against the ground upon which this distinction has been based. Another ground on which the exemption is based was referred to in the course of the discussion by my right hon. Friend when he said—It is as broad as long. The Crown does not pay rates, for if it comes out of one pocket it goes into the other.But a reform has recently been effected in this House by the conversion of the Government to the justice of paying contributions to local authorities in lieu of rates on Government property. Witnesses before the Committee based the exemption on the ground that the Crown are not paying rates, which is, after all, another form of exemption under the Statute; but surely, if we can say, as we can, that gradually the Crown is coming to pay rates practically in full, that is the strongest argument in favour of saying that in this case Her Majesty's ships should bear their proper burden. And now I come to the argument which, even if not accepted by the Committee, was one put on behalf of the Admiralty before the Committee; Admiral Wharton said that the movements of Her Majesty's ships would be impeded by the collection and payment of these light dues. That argument wholly ceases to have any force under this Bill. Now it is to be by a tonnage rate, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will see the necessity for making some contribution at least to the fund on behalf of Her Majesty's ships, or of inducing the Chancellor of the Exchequer to do so, and thus relieve the burden on the shipowners. With regard to these matters we shall have some controversy in Committee, but I acknowledge that while the Bill does not do all that many would think it ought justly to accomplish, it nevertheless proceeds honestly upon the lines of the report of the Committee, which investigated the subject very fully, and over which my right hon. Friend presided with the greatest ability. It thus also follows some of the chief recommendations, which, at any rate, have been made on behalf of the shipping interest; and that being so, while approving of the principles ably expressed by 185 the hon. Member for King's Lynn, I feel that the shipping community ought to acknowledge a sincere effort to do them some justice, and accept this as an instalment of equitable treatment which has been long desired.
§ MR. L. H. COURTNEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)
The members of the Departmental Committee which considered this important subject cannot complain of the way in which their recommendations have been received, and it would be very ungracious on any part if I did not acknowledge fully the very handsome manner in which our work has been spoken of by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade and my right hon. Friend his predecessor. We had, no doubt, a difficult and intricate task to undertake, but we applied ourselves as well as we could to it, and the Bill now before the House is almost an exact embodiment of our recommendations. As to the question raised by the Amendment of the hon. Member for King's Lynn, that, as we said in our report, was not a question with which we were concerned. We really had nothing to do with the argument as to whether the light dues should be cast on the national Exchequer or not. Our task was to examine the working of the principle of raising light dues and raising the necessary funds to discharge the service of lighting by means of a tax levied on shipping, and we had to consider how it was done and in what way it might be dealt with. We did not consider the fundamental question whether it would be better to throw on the national Exchequer the whole cost of maintaining the lighting service. In the course of this Debate it has been contended that the service of lights on our coast ought to be made a national service, and should be made a charge on the national Exchequer, and should be administered by some national Board. I find no difficulty whatever in assenting to all those propositions, and, at the same time, dissenting from the deductions which have been drawn from them. The service is at this moment a national service. It is under the control of the Board of Trade. If the local branches are seeking to do anything substantial they have to come to the Board of Trade for approval. The Board of Trade is the supreme master over Trinity House, the 186 Northern Lights Commissioners at Edinburgh, and the Irish Board of Lights in Dublin. The whole service, as it now stands, is a national service, and might be called a Board of Trade Department. These dues have been over and over again called in the Debate a burden thrown upon the shipowners, but I would venture to suggest that they are even now met by a national charge. My hon. Friend who has just spoken repeatedly talked of this as a burden thrown upon the shipowners, who were taxed in order to defray what concerned the whole nation. My hon. and learned Friend said the same thing, and other hon. Members have spoken in the same sense. Now, I venture to think that, if properly explained, these propositions will be found to be unsupported. No doubt the tax laid for the purpose of defraying the charge of the light service is raised through the shipowners, but it is an incident of their trade, just as much as the maintenance of lights in their own ships or the cost of materials, and is a matter to be taken into account in the conduct of their business. It has been said by the hon. Member for King's Lynn and others: "In that case why not throw the charge direct upon the national Exchequer?" But there is one substantial argument in favour of our maintaining the service as it is, and that is that there is an impression among shipowners—and it is a very useful one—that they have to bear the burden, and they are extremely jealous of the expenditure, and they would claim hereafter, if not now, a share in the administration; that is to say, that they being the people called upon to pay in the first instance, scrutinise the expenditure in which they are interested, and jealously guard it. This is a great advantage, and I conceive that by it economy and efficiency in the coast light service are obtained, and I think that to change a system which secures a frugal and yet sufficient administration of the service would be most inexpedient. The shipowners are jealously watching the whole of the administration, and they claim, I think justly, to have a voice in the matter conceded them. If the cost of lighting the coasts were thrown directly upon the Votes every year, there would not be the same check as is now existing upon unbounded 187 demands, which might be made in those ebullitions of feeling to which the nation is always exposed after some great maritime calamity. Personally, I say that there are great reasons in favour of maintaining the system as it is. It will, I think, be abundantly conceded that the reform in the method of assessment provided by the Bill is an enormous advantage. Everyone must admit that in this, at least, you have done a great deal of good. The present system is exceedingly onerous and inconvenient, and it has an injurious effect upon trade; consequently, it is one that no shipowner can desire to see retained. For instance, if a ship coming from abroad lands the greater part of its cargo in London and then goes round to Liverpool to discharge the rest, under the present system the ship is charged as if it had been making a foreign voyage, and had carried a full cargo in respect of every light passed between London and Liverpool. The consequence is that it is now actually cheaper to take out the small remnant of cargo and send it to Liverpool by another vessel, as it would then be charged a much smaller tariff. My hon. Friends who have just spoken, have argued very strongly that the exemption in favour of Her Majesty's ships ought to be removed. These arguments were all very carefully considered by the Committee, which, however, could not see its way to agree with this proposition. Apart from the services which the Admiralty renders, and which may fairly be set off as an equivalent for the light dues, there is this to be taken into consideration—that, as the dues are ultimately paid through the shipowners by the community at large, to make the Admiralty contribute to them would be very much like taking money out of one pocket of the community and putting it into the other. For that reason, the Committee thought that the present system of exemption in favour of the Admiralty should stand, as in point of fact the change suggested would only amount to charging an extra tax upon the community through the Naval service. Then, Sir, there is another question. My Friend has argued very strongly that the three local Boards who now administer the fund are very lacking in qualities which can recommend them. I 188 think that it is unlikely that the Trinity House, the Northern Lights Commissioners, or the Irish Board would be organised as they now are, if they were now starting for the first time. There is, however, a very great convenience in having three Boards which can carry through the administration of the separate parts of the country, provided they are brought together in conference once every year at least. I understand my right hon. Friend intends that this shall be done, and if so, it will be of the greatest assistance in securing a proper combination. The Departmental Committee had only to consider the Boards with respect to the quality of their administration, and we had no reason to believe, from the evidence brought before us, that they had failed in any degree whatever, either in economy or efficiency. The Scotch Board is the most remarkable of all in its constitution, but it has done its work extremely well, and those who make light of sea lawyers and think that sheriffs do not know much about lightships, or dues service on coasts, may, perhaps, remember after all that the very greatest of all those who have ever written upon the technical subject of Naval tactics is a Scotch Lord of Session. At the same time, there is no doubt that the Northern Lights Commission must be reconstituted, and there will be, I hope, some representatives of shipowners, and also of shipmasters—who, after all, are the people who have most experience—on the new Board. In the same way, the English and Irish Boards also must admit of change, but I must submit that you will not be acting very judiciously if you attempt to carry that through under this Bill. I have only, in conclusion, to thank the President of the Board of Trade and the other hon. Members for the manner in which they have spoken of the labours of the Departmental Committee.
MR. M. V. DAVIES (Cardiganshire)
It is not my intention to detain the House at any great length, but there are one or two observations I desire to make. I am satisfied that this Bill promoted by the Government will not be beneficial either to English sailors or English enterprise; but I wish to come nearer home, representing as I do a large seaport constituency with 60 miles 189 of seaboard. An hon. Member has touched upon the question of the coasters, or small shipowners, as distinct from the steamers owned by companies. Representatives of great companies, with their thousands, and tens of thousands at the bank, can look upon this subject in a very different light from what the small toasters can, and if this Bill is passed I believe it will be a great restriction on them, because they are dependent upon every halfpenny they earn for their livelihood. The captains of these coasters are generally the owners of their own vessels, the crews comprise the nephews or the relations of the captain, and their very existence depends upon their vessel. I therefore venture to appeal to the right hon. Gentleman in charge of this Bill to see his way to allow these small coasters, of from 80 to 100 tons—and there are a great number of them on the coast—to be included in the schedule of exemptions. I am not appealing to him for the sake of taking up the time of the House, but on behalf of a people who live hard and work hard to get a livelihood. I am sure it would help this Bill through if the right hon. Gentleman would take them into consideration. These people who live on the coast have no other work; they are brought up to a seafaring life, and they have nothing else to depend upon for an existence. I therefore beg most earnestly to make this appeal to the right hon. Gentleman on their behalf.
§ *SIR W. CAMERON GULL (Devonshire, Barnstaple)
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aberdeen spoke about the shipping trade being in an exceedingly flourishing condition, but I think anybody who knows the coast will agree with me in saying that during the last few years the coasting trade has been going from bad to worse. The foreigner can come in and compete with our own men, the foreigner being free from all those Acts which restrict the action of our own people, and make it very difficult for them to compete on the same terms with those from outside. Now, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman under this Bill proposes to put new charges on the mercantile industry as regards transfer and registration. I believe that in the Estimates it is calculated that the new charge will produce something like £16,000, but the right hon. Gentleman has shown that as things 190 stand now there will be a surplus of £22,000 under the fund as now constituted. I do not think he shows any reason why this new charge for registration and transfer should be imposed on the shipping industry. On this point I would point out to the right hon. Gentle man that, at any rate, fishermen and fishing vessels are included. I take it that they are British vessels, and, there fore, for the first time, these small vessels, owned, most of them, so far as I know, by the men themselves, will have to pay for this registration. In considering these smaller interests I am not talking of the large fishing industry, but, in the part of the country which I represent, the boats are owned almost entirely by the men themselves, every pound is of the greatest importance to them, and I do appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to exempt, at any rate, these fishing vessels; and I hope he will extend the exemption from these charges to the smaller coasting vessels. And then, Sir, coming to the question of the new scale, I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will, before the Committee stage, see what the effect would be as regards the coasting trade. Take, for instance, the coal trade, of which I know something, on the coast of Devonshire. At this moment the duos raised in the principle of user must be very small indeed, for they simply run across the Bristol Channel and back again. But under the scale of payment proposed by this Bill they will be charged a penny a ton for 10 voyages, and I hope, as I venture to suggest, he will see how this compares with the existing dues, and that, at any rate, he will, as this is supposed to be a Measure for relief, allow some clause to be inserted that such vessels shall pay no higher dues under this Bill than they have before. The right hon. Gentleman may smile, but we have heard a great deal to-night from those who represent large industries; but, as this Bill affects every British ship, he ought to consider very carefully how it affects those small industries and those people who have very few people to represent them, and very few people to speak for them in this House. Now, Sir, I only want to say one thing further as regards the exemptions in the Bill. The hon. Member for Islington mentioned the question of the omission—possibly the accidental 191 omission—of sailing vessels which put in for provisions. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will see that that is corrected when the Bill goes into Committee. And then, also, as regards vessels employed in carrying fish, I hope he will make it perfectly clear that no vessel which accidentally or casually collects fish and runs to port, shall be included in the charge. Now, Sir, with reference to the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for King's Lynn, I very much wish that the Government could see their way to accept it; it seems really only to be a matter of justice to the shipping industry. We are told that there are no adequate reasons given, but if these dues are paid by the Imperial Exchequer, we should, at any rate, have very full and complete control of these matters in this House. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin said that at the present moment this House has absolute control of all questions affecting lights. Well, I have had a small experience myself of those questions, and it seems to me that it is rather a question of battledore and shuttlecock between the President of the Board of Trade and the Trinity House. We are referred first to one and then to the other. Apparently, under this Bill, we shall be worse off than we were before, for, as I understand it, no money will come for these dues from Imperial taxation, and that being so, it will be difficult to discuss any matter affecting the lights or the adequacy of the lights themselves in this House. It will not be on the Estimates, and if the question is raised in this House it will be ruled out of order. It seems to me that, with a matter of this importance, to have it removed altogether from the jurisdiction of this House, will be a very considerable inconvenience. If I am wrong I hope the right hon. Gentleman will correct me, but I hope he will say that if he cannot put the whole of the lights on the Estimates, he will, at any rate, put some charge down which will enable us to discuss the question of the lights in this House. The hon. Gentleman seems to think it is impossible at the present moment, but, at any rate, we can discuss the lighthouses in the Bahamas, and it seems to me we ought to have an opportunity to discuss the whole of the lights on the Estimates. I 192 cannot see why a matter of this grave importance should be removed, as it will be now for the first time, wholly from the control of this House. [The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE: There is no difference.] The right hon. Gentleman says there is no difference. Then are we perfectly free to discuss all questions of lights? But, Sir, unless the right hon. Gentleman can give some adequate assurance that he will see that due care is taken to safeguard the interests of the smaller coasting industries, and of the fishing vessels, I shall have only one course open to me, and that is to vote against the Second Reading of this Bill. It seems to me, from what I can gather, that this Measure will be the final deathblow to our coasting industry, and unless it is made perfectly plain that this is not the case I shall have to vote against the Second Reading of this Bill.
§ MR. J. HAVELOCK WILSON: (Middlesbrough)
I shall have to differ from the statement made on behalf of the shipowners on the other side of the House. They complain that the burden of the light dues ought to be removed from their shoulders, and that they are a class of the community very much hampered, and have a number of burdens imposed upon them that other employers and other parts of the community have not got. I think the shipowners are the last people in this country who ought to come to this House with that plea. I do not think there is any class of employers who have been more free from legislation, during the past seven years than shipowners. During the last seven years, when every other class of employers have had imposed upon them burdens, the shipowners have been left entirely free. They have not been saddled with the Employers' Liability Acts, Factory Acts, and yet the whole plea that has been put before the House to-night on behalf of the shipowners is that this is an unjust tax and that it ought to be paid by the Imperial taxpayers. There is one tax that the shipowners are clear of, and which is placed upon other persons. I refer now to the poor rates that are paid in the ports, and I know of no class of people who cause the poor rates to be higher in these ports then the shipping community. Whenever there is a calamity 193 on board a ship, or the wreck of a vessel, or a seaman killed, if the man who loses his life is a married man, and has a family, that family is thrown upon the poor rates of that town in which he may happen to reside, and yet the shipowner belonging to that particular ship has not got to pay a single farthing to the rates of that town, while a small shopkeeper will have to pay rates for his shop, and he will have also to pay the poor rates. That vessel may be worth. £20,000—
§ MR. HAVELOCK WILSON
I bow to your ruling, Mr. Speaker, but as there has been so much complaint on the other side about the burdens imposed upon shipowners, I thought I should not be transgressing if I called attention to the fact that they were free in other directions. I want to make one appeal to the shipowners on this Bill. I do not object to their being relieved of these light dues. If they are removed, I do not object, but whilst they are putting in that plea I want to put in a plea on behalf of the seamen. Now I want to ask, Sir, the President of the Board of Trade if he would be prepared to accept an Amendment when this Pill gets into Committee which will have the effect of providing that, whenever a seaman is left in the hospital, particularly through sickness, that the shipowner shall be compelled to pay the medical expenses, and also pay for the conveyance of that man home to the port in which he was engaged in the United Kingdom. The reason I make that appeal is that very often a man is engaged in a ship, and, perhaps, whilst away in Santos, where the yellow fever is raging, he may be stricken with that fever and detained in the hospital. Now, whatever wages are due to that man at the time he leaves the vessel, that money is taken to pay the hospital expenses and the expenses of conveying that sailor to his home. The result is that very often these men are larded in any port of the United Kingdom, after being away five or six months from their home, entirely destitute. I think that as shipowners are appealing to us to be relieved of the light dues it would only be a matter of justice if the President of the Board of Trade would accept 194 an Amendment so as to relieve all seamen of paying the hospital expenses when they are left in foreign parts. I understand that some of the shipowners in this House are in favour of that, and it will only be on that understanding, that, is, that they are prepared to give some relief to the seamen, that I can support this Bill. If they are prepared to give that relief which will only be a matter of justice to these men, then I will be prepared to support any Motion which, while doing justice to shipowners, would also be doing justice to the seamen, and I hope some of the hon. Gentlemen who represent the shipowners will have something to say with regard to that point. It is one that tells very heavily against the seamen, and I think the shipowners ought to be prepared to say what they are prepared to do for the seamen, as they are asking now for relief for themselves.
§ *SIR GEORGE S. BADEN-POWELL (Liverpool, Kirkdale)
As one who can speak with a knowledge of the shipping interests, and also of the opinions of seamen and pilots, I should like to address the House on a few points which have not yet been touched upon. I do not propose to follow the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken into any class animosities, but I wish to say to him and to the House that there is no Member of this assembly who is more in sympathy with the men who constitute the Mercantile Marine than I am myself. This Bill is intended to remove burdens which shipowners ought not to bear. Mr. Speaker, the Debate so far, and I do not know how much longer it will last, has certainly run through the whole gamut of grievances. I do not doubt, that before this Debate closes, it will become evident that, possibly, the Government, would have welcomed the discussion of my Motion, because I think if it had come before the introduction of this Bill it would have somewhat cleared the ground. Now, I am not a shipowner myself, nor do I represent shipowners, but I speak with some knowledge of the shipping community, and especially of the seamen and the pilots, and, I would say the whole of the class of the shipping interest welcomed the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman for this reason, that his Bill does introduce into legislation 195 three new and welcome principles. In the first place it advocates the principle of throwing shipping charges on the Consolidated Revenue, in the second place it absolutely condemns the system of light dues at present prevailing, and, in the third place, the right hon. Gentleman's statement—although I do not see it in the Bill—is that, whatever money is raised by light dues, shall be strictly appropriated to the lighting service. But, Sir, what I should complain of is this, that this Bill is founded on the report of a Departmental Committee, which was from the first precluded from reporting upon two main divisions to the question—namely, whether the expense of the lighting service shall be thrown on the Consolidated Revenue, and whether any improvement was necessary in the administration of that service. Now, Sir, I say that this Bill is cordially welcomed by the shipping interests by asserting three principles, but when I proceed to examine this Bill, I find that, at least, considerable explanation is needed on the remaining matters of principle in the Bill, and I will very briefly refer to these matters of principle in three aspects. With regard to the international question nothing has been said. This Bill re-imposes light dues, and I do not know whether the Government have taken into consideration that in this respect it will cause serious difficulties in regard to our foreign and colonial trade. Now, I would merely mention this, that our Canadian Dominion, to take an instance, has, to my mind, very wisely placed the whole of the expense of her admirable lighting service on the Consolidated Revenue. Out of a total revenue of under £7,000,000 Canada has spent pretty well £100,000 on this service. One of the results of our abiding by the old world system of lighting is this: a Canadian vessel flying the British flag, when she visits American ports, is charged extra tonnage dues, because, under the British flag, light dues are levied. Those of us who are in favour of drawing closer together our mercantile relations with our Colonies should watch this matter, because it causes friction. Again, take the case of a Canadian vessel from the St. Lawrence coming to Liverpool, it is charged light dues, whereas a Liverpool vessel visiting St. Lawrence is not charged anything. 196 It seems to me rather remarkable that we should endeavour to tax vessels visiting Great Britain for the maintenance of lights in the Indian seas or Morocco or the West Indies. I do not grasp where the principle of this tax comes in. I moved last year, anticipating legislation of the kind, by asking the Government to give us a return of the manner in which foreign nations provided money for their lighting service, but the President of the Board of Trade explained to me that they had no information at the Board of Trade, at all events not of a sufficient fulness for such a return, and one had to take what means one could to find out the facts. If that return had been presented, giving that information, I do not think that the British Government would have been so anxious to abide by the principle of levying light dues. I have heard it stated that as much as £100,000 a year is derived from foreign vessels. This reminds one of some of those countries who look upon travellers not in the light of friends bringing them a profitable trade, but in the light of persons to be plundered. I would point out that while we tax some foreigners we do not tax all who use our lights; thus the whole of the shipping trade of Western Europe, voyaging between Bergen and Brest, greatly use the British lights, in fact depend upon them, and yet pay nothing for their maintenance. While speaking on this subject of international treatment, I would like to add that, in the case of vessels which cross the Atlantic from Great Britain, in addition to the light dues which are levied upon them in British ports, they are also charged in the United States something like £40,000 per annum in extra tonnage dues levied there, because we in Great Britain are so backward as to charge light dues. One word more on this side of the question. As I have said, I cannot find in the Bill the principle of confining the light dues to the light service. I hope the President of the Board of Trade, in Committee, will see that some words are inserted to carry out the pledges he has given. It is a very important matter, and one on which I think the shipping interest is alone willing to support this Bill. I would not touch on the question of refunding the money which some hon. Members have not 197 scrupled to say has been misappropriated in past years. That may be left to the Public Accounts Committee. I will now go to my second point. This Bill provides that the present system of administering the lighthouses shall continue. I think myself that very excellent work is done by the lighthouse authorities. To that I do not suppose anybody will take exception. But there are also grave complaints, very well founded on actual loss of life and property, resulting from the present system of administration. Many of us are aware of the details, and I need not allude here to more than two cases. For some time a fog signal has been demanded for the Mizen Head, and already, owing to its absence, no less than five large steamers have been lost. I am aware that the Board of Trade explained that they could not put fog signals on the Mizen Head because the Irish Lighthouse Board was against anything of the kind being done. I believe that on the Irish Board there is not one single person acquainted with navigation, or the management of ships. The other case I would remind you of is that terrible loss of life occasioned by the wreck of the Channel Queen. We know of the rider to the jury verdict, and the whole story of the numerous applications made for a light and a fog signal, which would have saved those who perished in the great disaster. One hon. Member has already alluded to the fact that the Board of Trade throws the responsibility on Trinity House, or the Northern Lights Commissioners, who, on the other hand, throw the responsibility on the Board of Trade, on the ground of not allowing sufficient funds. I would mention a case in which, the Board of Trade deliberately refused a Scotch request for more lights on the plea that other cases were more urgent. The main recommendations in the report of the Committee are what the right hon. Gentleman endeavours to carry out in the Bill. One of these touches the very point of administration, and yet I see nothing of it in this Bill. The Committee, I know, said they did not feel they could report, specifically on the question of administration, but they do say, in Paragraph 71, that from the evidence before them they recommend the 198 formation of a small committee of representatives, possessing, as far as possible, nautical knowledge, of the Trinity House, the Scotch Board and the Irish Board, who should be summoned once a year to advise the Board of Trade of the desirability of all new work, whether in respect of lighthouses or lightships, buoys or signals, together with all renewals, alterations, and important repairs. I trust that, in carrying out the main recommendations of the Report of the Committee, the right hon. Gentleman will see that the recommendations contained in paragraph 71 are brought into this Bill. I have a few remarks to make on a third subject—namely, the incidence of this tax. I know very well that these light dues are defended on the plea of user, and that the shipping industry of this country is not only accustomed to pay light dues, but that it has flourished exceedingly under the burden. But when I look at the schedule which really contains the principle upon which the new system is to be based, I think the right hon. Gentleman would do well if he could give us any explanation of the principles on which it is based. Now it cannot be a principle based on freight-bearing capacity; it cannot be a principle based upon, the fact that foreign vessels pay, because he includes in the tax vessels that do not carry freight. One word is here necessary as to shipowners being collectors of taxes. It is impossible under the circumstances of the shipping trade that the shipowners can charge light dues to the consumer. Freights are not arranged by the shipowners, but arranged by prices of goods in distant markets, and merchants wishing to send goods from one part of the world to another will only quote, or agree to quote, those freights they find will pay in that particular trade. The shipowner himself cannot, regulate in any way the amount he is going to charge for light dues. He can only take the freight at the rate which the merchant is ready to pay. I wish also particularly to refer to a class of vessels which ply round our shores—to tugs. For the first time light dues are levied on tugs. I would not enlarge on the point, but it must be remembered that tugs in a great many instances save life and property, and, therefore, are deserving of 199 better consideration. I would point out to the right hon. Gentleman what has not probably entered his mind, and that is that tugs are employed by ships, and form part of the expenses of the ships, and to place light dues upon them is simply, as it were, to duplicate the light dues on those vessels which use tugs. Again, I would like for one moment to speak of the inclusion of yachts in the light dues. Now, Sir, I know something about yachts and yacht owners, and I am convinced that there is not a single yacht owner in this country who would for one moment object to pay light dues, or any other charges, or taxes; but what I wish to know in introducing this subject is upon what principle this new system is based; because yachts, as I know, are certainly not run for profit: there is no cargo carried, and they therefore differ entirely from cargo vessels. I would also mention this fact, that yachts are supposed to be, under the privileges accorded to them by the Admiralty, of considerable service in keeping up the reserve supply of 20,000 picked seamen who would be, and have been before, of great use in time of war. To explain the reason why I incidentally mention tugs and yachts, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman definitely to state in his Bill whether he intends to put light dues on them or not, because I find they are included in one page and exempted in another. All vessels are exempted which call in a port only for coal or provisions, and tugs and yachts do not call at ports for any other purposes. I think the right hon. Gentleman rather hastily drafted his Bill. Shipowners, I believe, take the Bill as it stands, and they accept its second reading, giving due notice of material and serious amendments to it when it comes to the Committee stage. But, as I have said, I have no right to speak for shipowners, and I certainly do not speak as a shipowner. I believe that is the general view of the shipping industry, and I feel confident that the Debate on this Bill has shown that the Government has made a very bold attempt to deal with a very complex question. In conclusion, I shall again record my opinion that if the Government had encouraged a full discussion on this subject, especially by means of a 200 Select Committee of this House, they would have been enabled to bring in a thorough-going Bill, and not one which, like this Bill, lacks the essential element of finality.
§ MR. WILLIAM ALLEN (Newcastle-under-Lyme)
This Bill asks the House to sanction a very large expenditure of money, to be paid by the community in relief of the charge now paid by the shipowners, and, for my part, I should be quite willing to see the larger amount which the hon. Member for King's Lynn asks for Voted by this House, provided we insisted that a quid pro quo should be given by the shipowners for the consideration that they receive. The hon. Member for Middlesbrough has pointed out that the shipowners of this country have not been put under a great deal of the restrictive legislation that has been passed in regard to other industries of this country, and he mentioned the Compensation Bill as an instance of this shipping, which has been one of the most dangerous, if not the most dangerous, industry in the country, is excluded from any charge under the Compensation Bill, which applies to so many industries of this country. The hon. Member for Liverpool, who introduced a Bill the other day to abolish common employment, excluded the shipping interest from that Bill; and the whole tendency of legislation with regard to labour during the past few years has been to put the shipping industry on a more favoured footing. I cannot, therefore, agree with the hon. Member for the Exchange Division of Liverpool, when he says that the tendency of recent legislation has been to put full restrictions and additional burdens on shipping. The only Measure I can remember that has really put any additional burden on shipping was when Mr. Plimsoll passed through this House the Bill which everybody now admits has been a great benefit to seamen and to the shipping industry. But, Mr. Speaker, if we Vote this large sum of money to relieve one of the greatest industries of the country, we should insist on getting something in return. I think we might fairly insist on what all foreign nations insist upon—that is, that a 201 certain proportion of the crew of every British vessel should be British subjects. In Norway two-thirds of the crew of every ship must be Norwegian; in Russia, four-fifths must be Russian; in Spain, four-fifths Spaniards; in England alone, I believe, amongst the great mercantile nations of the world, the law is that any number of foreigners may be employed to man a vessel, and there need not be more than one or two Englishmen; and it seems to me, Sir, that if the House moans to give this very large concession to owners, it would undoubtedly be fair to insist that they should man their vessels with a certain proportion of English seamen. This would not only to some extent relieve the congestion in the labour market, but the men would form a reserve to fall back upon in time of war. The Manning Committee's Report, presented last year, showed that the tendency at the present time is for British seamen to decrease. Forty-eight per cent. of the crews of British ships are either foreigners or Lascars.
§ MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! The hon. Member is discussing a point which does not arise under the Amendment.
§ MR. ALLEN
I only wish to point out that the shipowners ought to do something in return for what the House is going to give them. I do think we should have some assurance from the Government that they will deal at an early date with these matters, and that everything that can possibly be done will be done to preserve this great industry of the sea as a national industry.
§ *COLONEL SIR E. S. HILL (Bristol, S.)
said he had bad the honour of serving on the Committee which had considered the question of light dues. The Committee was unanimous, and there had been no dissension amongst the Members as to the terms of the Report. Successive Presidents of the Board of Trade under various Administrations had been asked to give the shipowners relief from charges, which the owners thought ought not to be laid upon them. The Committee had found themselves face to face with a very difficult problem. The Mercantile Marine Fund was in a state which could not but 202 be condemned by any business man; it was, in fact, in a terrible tangle, and there was great difficulty in getting it put in order. Various Departments of the State were concerned in it, and compromises with one and the other were absolutely necessary in order to secure harmony. Chambers of Shipping and Chambers of Commerce had both, passed Resolutions in favour of this Bill, but another Resolution was also passed reserving to shipowners the right to agitate again whenever desirable for the entire remission of the light dues. He hoped the Bill would receive, if not a unanimous Second Reading, at any rate a Second Reading by a majority of the House. He believed it embodied an attempt on the part of the Government to relieve the shipping interest of serious anomalies, and it would be of very great benefit to shipowners and to the shipping community in general.
§ COLONEL J. M. DENNY (Kilmarnock Burghs)
They had heard a great deal about the expediency of the shipping interest paying the light dues, but never a word about the justice of such a course. He was afraid, from the speeches they had heard, that a compromise was going to be made by the shipowners. So far as he was concerned he adhered to first principles. Neither of the two previous speakers had brought forward one single argument in favour of placing the light dues on shipowners. It appeared to him that this Bill would totally remove from the House of Commons the control of these lights. It had been suggested by Mr. Courtney that there was final control by the shipowners, but he did not think there was any possible chance that in the future the contributors to the fund could have any control over it whatever. There was only one other point he wished to raise. He entirely failed to see why the Navy should be exempted from the payment of light dues. It was simply putting another tax upon shipowners for the upkeep of the Navy, and he would vote for the Amendment, because he regarded it as an inherent injustice to charge these dues upon shipowners.
§ *SIR J. COLOMB (Great Yarmouth)
I desire to associate myself with the remarks of my Friend the hon. Member for North Devon. It appears to me that the effect of this Bill will be to increase the charges on the coast-going vessels, and the small vessels of this country which employ British seamen and not foreigners. I therefore view with much apprehension the operation of this Bill, and would ask the President of the Board of Trade to make it clear whether these apprehensions have any foundation. In my judgment, the lighting of the coasts is a national question, a question in which all parts of the country are concerned, and not only those who carry on actual sea trading. I trust, however, that the President of the Board of Trade will clear up a certain doubt in my mind that the operation of this Bill will be adverse to the interests of the small fishing and coasting vessels, which I regard as the real nursery of our seamen.
§ MR. F. MADDISON (Sheffield, Brightside)
I have listened, Sir, to a large portion of this discussion. We have had gentleman after gentleman rising in their places, all of them connected with the shipping industry.
§ MR. GIBSON BOWLES
May I explain that I hold no shares in any shipping company, and have not the smallest pecuniary interest in shipping of any kind?
§ SIR G. BADEN-POWELL
I should also like to explain that I have no share in any shipping company whatever.
§ MR. MADDISON
I was going on to modify my statement by saying, all of them connected with the shipping industry indirectly, although not pecuniarily interested. The two hon. Gentlemen who have just risen are, at all events, both of them enthusiastic yachtsmen. I was not imputing any wrong motive to the hon. Gentlemen, but I was pointing out that their sympathies, if not their pecuniary interests, were connected with the shipping business. Now, I have listened with 204 considerable interest to several propositions in political economy to-night, and it was with a great deal of pleasure that I listened to some sound propositions advanced by the hon. Member for Bodmin, but some other Gentlemen have told us some strange things. One hon. Member said there was some doubt as to where the light dues would ultimately fall, and he seemed to dispute very strongly that the consumer would have to pay them. Well, I do not think there can be much doubt about that. Then we have had the extraordinary statement that prices do not depend on the number of ships that may be available. I think that that cannot be sustained. But what I want to say is this, to-night we have heard a great deal about distressed shipowners, and if one had not some knowledge of shipping one might come to the conclusion that that industry was just about derelict—all but in the Bankruptcy Court. But I have spent some part of my life in a shipping port, and the lasting impression on my mind is the wealth of shipowners and the poverty of their seamen. For my part, I cannot as a workman, I cannot as an ordinary citizen, be any party to relieving one class of the community of a charge which rightly falls upon them, and which, I venture to submit, is as much a part of the ship's sailing gear, if I may put it so, as the very masts and sails in the ship. What are these lights for? They are for the protection of the property of one class of the community, the shipowners, and I venture to say that they consider that charge, as a matter of fact, a very profitable one to them. They would not like to be without the lights. Therefore, I am compelled to support the Second Reading of this Bill, and to oppose the Amendment, which attempts to make a national charge of something which is for the profit, and the profit alone, of one class of the community.
ADMIRAL FIELD (Sussex, Eastbourne)
I will only intrude on the House for a few moments, but the hon. Member who has just sat down has made some observations which call for a reply. His remarks, I think, are not quite worthy of the position which the hon. Member 205 holds as the representative of a very important constituency. He says that the wealth of the shipowners is a matter for his consideration before he will undertake to give by vote or speech any relief to the shipping industry. [Mr. MADDISON: May I explain? I used no such expression.] Then, I misunderstood the hon. Gentleman. As I understood him, he said that he could not vote for the Amendment because the shipowners were wealthy and the seamen poor, and he argued from that that the shipowners should not be relieved of this charge, forgetting that if the shipowners paid less in dues they would be able to pay their seamen better wages. However, I will not waste time in pursuing that, but I want in a few words to explain that, whilst I have every sympathy with the shipowners in this matter, I am afraid that I cannot votes for this Amendment, because of the practical difficulties in the way. I agree with what fell from the hon. Member for South Bristol when he said that the Navy pays nothing, and ought to pay something. I cordially support that view. With a great Imperial force guarding the commerce of this Empire, I feel that a grant-in-aid ought to be made out of the Consolidated Fund to meet these charges; but there are difficulties in the way. I gather that the charges amount to £500,000, of which foreigners pay £100,000, and I am not prepared to relieve foreigners of that £100,000. Therefore, I cannot support this Amendment, because, if it were carried, foreigners would escape the charge altogether. It would be out of order for me to address myself to the observations of the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme, though my sympathies are with him when he said that British subjects ought to form, at any rate, some portion of the crews of British vessels. The hon. Member for the Brightside Division said that this charge fell, and rightly fell, on the shipowners. But the shipowners are only the rain-water stack-pipe, so to speak, through which the money passes; the money ultimately comes from the consumer. I would like to relieve the shipowners from this burden if I could do so without, at the same time, relieving foreigners from the payment they 206 now make of £100,000. But I do not see my way to this, and, therefore, I must vote against the Amendment.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE
The House has listened to a very interesting and instructive Debate on a matter of very considerable importance, and although there has been a good deal of adverse criticism directed to details of the Bill, and its omissions particularly, I do not think that the general principle of the Bill has been greatly objected to by tiny hon. Member who has spoken. My hon. Friend the Member for King's Lynn, who moved the Amendment, really made the best speech in favour of the Bill, because the greater part of that speech was taken up by an eloquent denunciation of the evils of the existing system of levying the light dues. He drew a glowing picture of the injustice to which shipowners are subjected by the existing system of levying the dues, the enormous complications, the vast number of dues, which, he said, filled two gigantic volumes in the Custom House, and which he appears to be extremely anxious to see. He seemed to think there is some difficulty in getting access to these volumes, but I can assure him that, if he desires an investigation of the contents of those volumes, I shall be very happy to afford him free access to them. But, as I say, his whole argument was in favour of the Bill. He cannot deny that, whatever may be the demerits of the Bill, if certainly has the merit of abolishing the present system which my hon. Friend denounced, and of setting up a reasonable logical method of levying the dues. I quite understand his object in wishing to abolish the dues altogether. He and many other hon. Members have urged this abolition, and have spoken of the injustice of levying those dues on the shipowners, but I do not myself recognise any injustice at all. There may be some difference of opinion, and a legitimate difference of opinion, as to who is to blame in the matter, and if we were to-night imposing the charge for the first time shipowners would be right in complaining and saying it was unjust 207 to put the burden on their shoulders; but the whole shipping industry of the country has been carried on from, time immemorial subject to these dues, which the shipowners pay, as they pay all other taxation. We are, therefore, committing no injustice on shipowners by not interfering with the existing order of things. There have been many criticisms on the Bill in matters of detail. Several hon. Gentlemen have objected to the scale in the schedule of the Bill, and mainly as it applies to small vessels. As the House knows, we have adopted the scale recommended by a Committee, and I do not say at all that when we come to discuss the scale in Committee of the House good and adequate reasons may not be given for making some modifications. All I can say is that I shall be very pleased to listen impartially to any argument on that point, and my sympathies will certainly be in the direction of doing the best we can for the smaller class of vessels, which I quite admit are deserving of the most liberal treatment we can give them. Then an appeal has been made to omit fish-carrying vessels, and fish-carriers have been spoken of as if they were the same thing as small fishing boats, and a great deal was made of the hard life and severe nature of the work of the fishermen. I entirely agree with that; but it must be remembered that the fishing industry employs a very large capital, and is, in fact, as much carried on by capital as any other industry of the country. These fish-carriers do not employ the class of persons referred to by my hon. Friends. It is asked, why should these fish-carriers have to pay these dues? The reply is, because they have the benefit of the lights for navigation.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE
Sir, I have to thank the hon. Member for the Exchange Division of Liverpool for the manner in which he has spoken with regard to this Bill. I know there is some difference of opinion in Liverpool as to whether the Bill will be advantageous or not, and I am very glad to hear from the hon. Member that, generally speaking, he approves of the principle of the Bill. He asked me two questions, the first being whether all Colonial dues are covered by the Bill. The only Colonial lights with regard to which dues are levied at present are the Bassets, and they will continue to be levied. He also asked me a question with reference to levying dues on vessels which go from one foreign port to another without touching at any port of ours. I am afraid, under those circumstances, we should have great difficulty in collecting the dues. I should be glad if we could collect them, but it would be, at any rate, very difficult. Then my hon. Friend the Member for the Kirkdale Division of Liverpool raised three or four very important questions. One was the important question, which I have heard raised before, as to the position of our ships and Canadian ships when they go to America. It is perfectly true that in the United States dues are only levied upon ships coming from nations which levy dues in their own ports, and consequently dues are levied in the United States upon British and Canadian ships. But he will understand that, so far as this Bill is concerned, it makes no change whatever in the existing order of things. The Bill is for the purpose of removing certain grievances which have been complained of, and we do not profess to remedy such a condition of things as that suggested by my hon. Friend. My hon. Friend also asked what was the principle upon which tugs and yachts are going to be made liable for dues. It is upon the very understandable principle that these tugs and yachts frequently make use of the lights, and it seems to me that if we continue to exclude them from the payment of dues we shall have very little claim for continuing to charge for any lights. I do not know how they came to be 209 exempted before, but I am quite sure that the recommendation of the Committee regarding these vessels is certainly in the right direction, and I am glad to hear that, so far as yachtsmen are concerned, there will be no difficulty, but that they will feel rather glad, indeed, to contribute towards a fund for the maintenance of the lights of which they make so much use. Then my hon. Friend asked me why we have not in the Bill adopted the recommendation of the Committee and introduced some provision for the formation of a Committee to meet once a year in order to advise the Board of Trade. The reason is that it is not necessary. The Board of Trade can, without any legal enactment, call together a Committee of that kind at any time, and, as far as I am concerned, I have, since I have been at the Board of Trade, with regard to more than one interest, summoned a Committee connected with various industries, and consulted with them upon matters affecting their particular trades. I could not consent to delegate the responsibility which rests upon me as President of the Board of Trade to any Committee. I am very glad to hear what they have got to say, and if the advice they give me accords with my own views then I accept that advice. But, as I am the responsible Minister, I must, after all act upon my own responsibility in matters of that kind.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE
The funds for the administration of the lighthouses will be in the Lighthouse Fund, which is not voted by Parliament, so that I presume it will not be on the Votes.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE
Oh, yes! The hon. Gentleman will have the satisfaction of moving to reduce my salary. Whether the whole question of the light dues could be raised on that Vote is a question of order, which I am really not able to decide.
§ MR. COURTNEY
I would remind the House that in the case of the Bankruptcy Department of the Board of Trade we have a Token Vote, on which any question as to the administration of that Department can be discussed. In the same way we might have a Token Vote upon which questions of administration and so forth connected with the light dues could be discussed.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE
My right hon. Friend, as we all know, is in favour of the principle of Token Votes. I confess that I am not. I certainly do not think it is a good system, and I cannot make any promise in regard to that. Now, Sir, as I have said, the Bill has, I think, been generally approved, although there have been several objections on matters of detail. I have dealt with some of the minor objections. The main objections are, first, that the light dues are continued, but although the light dues are not abolished by this Bill, of course, the question is not finally disposed of; it can be raised by any hon. Gentleman at some future time with a view to convincing the House that it is desirable that they should be abolished. There is nothing done in this Bill that in any way prejudices that, and, therefore, I cannot understand any hon. Member voting against the Bill if he approves of the principles embodied in the Bill. If this Amendment were carried it would be impossible to proceed further with the Bill, and anyone who votes in favour of the Amendment votes in favour of the continuance of the anomalies and the grievances of which everybody complains. Another objection is that no attempt has been made to reorganise all the lighthouse authorities. But some of my hon. Friends who have spoken have shown, I think with great force, that to introduce into this Bill such a complication as that of rearranging the constitution of all three Lighthouse Boards, and probably their relation also to the Board of Trade and their relations the one to the other, would be enormously to overweight the Bill and practically to prevent the possibility of 211 carrying it into law. I think that what my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen said amounted to this, that although on the question of principle he was bound to say that the constitution of the Trinity House Brethren was not one that could be defended, yet they did their work in a most admirable manner, and that is a proposition which has been received with approbation in every part of the House. For my part I bear willing testimony to the fact that nothing can exceed the care and attention and the technical knowledge which is brought to bear on all matters dealt with by the Trinity House Brethren, and I do not believe any body you could put in their place, or any reform of that body which you could imagine, would improve the efficiency of the body for the work they have got to do. My right hon. Friend proceeded to speak of the very great zeal and efficiency of the Commissioners of Northern Lights, and he said that even the Irish Commissioners of Lights had done well. Why, then, should we complicate this Bill by the introduction of reforms in three bodies, whose organisation and constitution, it is true, is not an ideal one, but every one of which has done, and is doing, its work remarkably well? Anyone voting for this Bill does not in any way express approbation of the manner in which these bodies are constituted, and leaves himself at perfect liberty to find an opportunity of convincing the House that reforms are necessary. I feel certain it would have been an enormous mistake for us to have attempted in any way to deal with the constitution of these bodies in this Bill, which is purely a Bill to remove certain anomalies with regard to finance. Now, my hon. Friend the Member for Derby made some remarks, into which I do not propose to follow him, as to the effects of light dues upon merchant seamen. I do not think it would be quite in order that such a question should be discussed on such a Bill as this, but there was one statement he made which I must allude to. He said that the Liverpool Steam Shipping Association were opposed to this Bill.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE
I understood the hon. Member to say that the Association held that the only proper step to be taken with regard to this matter was to abolish the dues. I was going to say that I have had from the Liverpool Chamber of Shipping, which is a very representative body, a letter warmly urging upon me the desirability of pressing on this Bill. They do say that they would prefer the abolition of the dues—[Mr. DRAGS: "Hear, hear!"] But that is not the line I understand the hon. Member for King's Lynn to take. He says, "I want the abolition of these dues, and if I cannot get that, I will not have any reform at all." That is the effect of this Amendment, "Unless the dues can be abolished altogether we will have a perpetuation of the evils of which we complain." That is not the position which the Chambers of Shipping, and other bodies interested in the matter, have taken up. They say, "We would like the abolition of these dues, and regret that the Bill does not abolish them; but we like your Bill, by which you are removing very many difficulties, and we shall support it."
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE
I fail to see how that observation is germane to what I was saving. I was speaking about the abolition of the dues, and I say that all these who vote for the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend the Member for King's Lynn vote for the maintenance of the existing order of things, which we all condemn. Of course, we can by Order in Council reduce the dues, but one of the merits of the Bill, and one which makes the Bill so acceptable to the shipping community, is this: at present the money contributed being all lumped together, it is impossible to say how much of the light dues is spent on one particular branch of the service and how much on another. Under this Bill, by the cutting up of the fund, you see at once the money you have to deal with 213 for the various purposes, and it will be much easier for the Board of Trade, if the fund is separated in that way, to say, "The light dues are in excess of the amount we actually require for that particular service; we will take off 10 per cent. That will be the attitude of the Board of Trade at once. If it is found that the Lights Fund is in excess of the amount required, we shall be glad to take the opportunity of at once reducing the dues; and that could be done much more simply under this Bill than it could be done now. Sir, I have, I hope, answered all the various points which have been raised, and I trust the House will now come to a Division, and will affirm what I believe to be the general opinion of the House, that, although the Bill is not everything that is wanted by some, it is a, very long step in the direction of what is wanted by all.
§ *SIR A. K. ROLLIT (Islington, S.)
I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether sailing vessels that are simply putting in for stores and provisions will be liable to the dues. I suggested they ought not to be, but the Bill leaves them liable.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE
I beg my hon. Friend's pardon for not dealing with that point. That is certainly an omission in the Bill, and I will take care that an Amendment is inserted in Committee providing tint sailing vessels may put in for stores and provisions without charge.
§ SIR G. BADEN-POWELL
Another important point is this: that there is no provision in the Bill to ensure that the money which is contributed for the lights service shall be applied to that service.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE
It is in the Bill. If the hon. Member can show me in Committee that it is not in the Bill. I will promise to insert it.
§ MR. HAVELOCK WILSON
Will the right hon. Gentleman give me an answer to the question I put as to provision being made for the maintenance of British seamen left in homes and hospitals abroad through sickness?
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE
I can only say that all we propose to do is set out in the Schedules to the Bill.
That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 184; Noes 35.215
|Aird, John||Birrell, Augustine||Colston, Chas. Ed. H. Athole|
|Arnold, Alfred||Blundell, Colonel Henry||Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth)|
|Arrol, Sir William||Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glsgw.)|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Brassey, Albert||Courtney, Rt. Hn. Leonard H.|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbt. Hy.||Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Cross, Alexander ((Glasgow)|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Cubitt, Hon. Henry|
|Austin, Sir John (Yorkshire)||Carlile, William Walter||Curzon, Rt. Hn. G. N. (Lanc S. W.)|
|Baden-Powell, Sir Geo. Smyth||Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs)||Curzon, Viscount (Bucks.)|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh.)||Dalrymple, Sir Charles|
|Balcarres, Lord||Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Dalziel, James Henry|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r)||Chaloner, Captain R. G. W.||Davenport, W. Bromley-|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. Grld W. (Leeds)||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.)||Davitt, Michael|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc.)||Douglas, Rt. Hn. A. Akers-|
|Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Charrington, Spencer||Doxford, William Theodore|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Brist'l)||Clare, Octavias Leigh||Duckworth, James|
|Bemrose, Sir Henry Howe||Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Dunn, Sir William|
|Beresford, Lord Charles||Coghill, Douglas Harry||Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir Wm. Hart|
|Bethell, Commander||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw.|
|Bill, Charles||Colomb, Sir Jno. Chas. Ready||Field, Admiral (Eastbourne)|
|Finch, George H.||Kemp, George||Robertson, Herbt. (Hackney)|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Kimber, Henry||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Knowles, Lees||Round, James|
|Fison, Frederick William||Lafone, Alfred||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Flannery, Fortescue||Lawrence, Wm. F. (L'pool.)||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Flower, Ernest||Lawson, Jno. Grant (Yorks.)||Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire)|
|Forster, Henry William||Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)||Sidebottom, T. Harrop (Stalyb.)|
|Forwood, Rt. Hn. Sir Arth. B.||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Galloway, William Johnson||Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller||Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)|
|Gedge, Sydney||Lorne, Marquess of||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Giles, Charles Tyrrell||Lowe, Francis William||Stanhope, Hon. Philip J.|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Lucas-Shadwell, William||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Godson, Augustus Frederick||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred||Stanley, Henry M. (Lambeth)|
|Gouldsworthy, Major-General||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier|
|Gordon, Hon. Jno. Edward||Macdona, John Cumming||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon||Maclure, Sir John William||Thorburn, Walter|
|Goschen, Rt. Hn. G. J. (St. Geo's)||M'Arthur, Charles (L'pool.)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Goschen, George J. (Sussex)||Maddison, Fred.||Tomlinson, Wm. Ed. Murray|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Martin, Richard Biddulph||Valentia, Viscount|
|Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Milward, Colonel Victor||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Greene, Hy D. (Shrewsbury)||Monckton, Edward Philip||Warner, Thos. Courtenay T.|
|Greene, W. Raymond-(Cambs.)||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|Gretton, John||More, Robert Jasper||Webster, Sir R. E. (I. of W.)|
|Greville, Captain||Morrell, George Herbert||Whiteley, H. (Ashton-under-L.)|
|Grey, Sir Edw. (Berwick)||Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptf'rd)||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Gull, Sir Cameron||Murdoch, Chas. Townshend||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Hardy, Laurence||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. Grhm (Bute)||Williams, Josh. Powell- (Birm.)|
|Hamilton, Rt. Hn. Lord Geo.||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robert Wm.||Myers, William Henry||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Hanson, Sir Reginald||Newdigate, Francis Alex.||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Hardy, Laurence||Nicholson, William Graham||Wilson, John (Govan)|
|Hayne, Rt. Hon. Chas. Seale-||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Wilson, J. W. (Worc. N.)|
|Heath, James||Parkes, Ebenezer||Wilson, Jos. H. (Middl'sbrough)|
|Helder, Augustus||Pirie, Capt. Duncan||Wodehouse, Edm. R. (Bath)|
|Hill, Rt. Hn. Lord Arth. (Down)||Platt-Higgins, Ferderick||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Hill, Sir Ed. Stock (Bristol)||Pollock, Harry Frederick||Woodhouse, Sir J. T. (Huddrsfid)|
|Hoare, Ed. Brodie (Hampst'd)||Provand, Andrew Dryburgh||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Holden, Angus||Purvis, Robert||Wylie, Alexander|
|Hubbard, Hon. Evelyn||Renshaw, Charles Bine||Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.|
|Jebb, Richard Claverhouse||Rentoul, James Alexander||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Johnston, William (Belfast)||Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir Matth'w W.||Sir William Walrond and|
|Kearley, Hudson, E.||Ritchie, Rt. Hon. Chas. Thoms'n||Mr. Anstruther.|
|Allen, Wm. (Newc-under-L.)||Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V.||Philipps, John Wynford|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, Sir Ellis||Foster, Harry S. (Suffolk)||Price, Robert John|
|Baker, Sir John||Gourley, Sir Ed. Temperley||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne|
|Bayley, Thos. (Derbyshire)||Holland, Hon. Lionel Raleigh||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Joicey, Sir James||Strachey, Edward|
|Caldwell, James||Kinloch, Sir Jno. Geo. Smyth||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Cameron, Sir Chas. (Glasgow)||Lambert, George||Sutherland, Sir Thomas|
|Clark, Dr. G. B. (Caithness-sh.)||MacAleese, Daniel||Thomas, David Alf. (Merthyr)|
|Clough, Walter Owen||M'Arthur, Wm. (Cornwall)||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||M'Kenna, Reginald|
|Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)||Moss, Samuel||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Denny, Colonel||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Mr. Gibson Bowles and Sir|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||O'Connor, Arthur (Donegal)||John Leng.|
Bill read a second time.
Motion made and Question proposed—
That the Bill be committed to the Standing Committee on Trade, etc."—(Mr. Ritchie.)
§ MR. J. SAMUEL (Stockton)
I think this is a Bill that ought to be discussed in Committee of the whole House. There are a large number of Members who have not had an opportunity of taking part in the Debate to-night who feel deeply interested in the Measure, and who are not members of the Standing Committee.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE
Sir, I think if there is any Bill that more than another should be referred to a Standing Committee, this is essentially that Bill. With regard to the argument that there are a number of Members interested in the Bill who are not members of the Standing Committee, that would apply, I suppose, to every Bill referred to the Committee. My opinion is that we shall enormously reduce the value of these Committees in relieving the work of the House if a Bill like the present is not to be sent to them.
§ MR. GIBSON BOWLES
I most strongly protest against this attempt to shirk the discussion of this Bill in this House—by those Members who are interested in it, and who are competent to discuss it—and to refer it to hon. Gentlemen
§ composing the Committee upstairs. I think the discussion to-night has shown,, first of all, that the right hon. Gentleman himself has not the smallest possible acquaintance with his own Bill, and, secondly, that there are a large number of Members in this House whose intimate knowledge of the details have enabled them to make suggestions to the right hon. Gentleman which were new to him, and which he would be glad to adopt. It is quite certain that a Bill of this sort, involving as it does the imposition upon the shipping industry of charges which, ought to be a public burden, is one which ought to be exhaustively considered by the House itself. If I can find a teller, I shall certainly divide against the proposal to refer it to a Grand Committee.
§ SIR G. BADEN-POWELL
If the Bill is referred to the Standing Committee, will it not be possible to add to the Committee, for the consideration of this Bill, hon. Members who take a special interest in it?
§ The House divided:—Ayes 157; Noes 45.219
|Aird, John||Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh.)||Denny, Colonel|
|Arnold, Alfred||Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles|
|Arrol, Sir William||Chaloner, Captain R. G. W.||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, Sir Ellis||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.)||Doxford, William Theodore|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbt. Hy.||Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc.)||Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir Wm. Hart|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw.|
|Baden-Powell, Sir Geo. Smyth||Charrington, Spencer||Field, Admiral (Eastbourne)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Clare, Octavius Leigh||Finch, George H.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r.)||Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Finday, Sir Robert Bannatyne|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. Grld W. (Leeds)||Coghill, Douglas Harry||Fisher, William Hayes|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Flannery, Fortescue|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Brist'l)||Colomb, Sir Jno. Chas. Ready||Flower, Ernest|
|Bemrose, Sir Henry Howe||Colston, Chas, Ed. H. Athole||Forster, Henry William|
|Beresford, Lord Charles||Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth)||Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)|
|Bethell, Commander||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Gedge, Sydney|
|Bill, Charles||Courtney, Rt. Hon. Leonard H.||Giles, Charles Tyrrell|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Godson, Augustus Frederick|
|Brassey, Albert||Curzon, Rt. Hn. G. N. (Lanc S. W.)||Goldsworthy, Major-General|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Curzon, Viscount (Bucks)||Gordon, Hon. John Edward|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Dalkeith, Earl of||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon|
|Carlile, William Walter||Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Goschen, Rt. Hn. G. J. (St. Geo's)|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.)||Davenport, W. Bromley-||Goschen, George J. (Sussex)|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Lowe, Francis William||Sidebottom, T. Harrop (Stalyb.)|
|Gourley, Sir Edw. Temperley||Lucas-Shadwell, William||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Greene, Hy. D. (Shrewsbury)||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)|
|Greene, W. Raymond- (Cambs.)||Maclure, Sir John William||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Greville, Captain||Malcolm, Ian||Stanhope, Hon. Philip J.|
|Grey, Sir Edward (Berwick)||Martin, Richard Biddulph||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Gull, Sir Cameron||Milward, Colonel Victor||Stanley Henry M. (Lambeth)|
|Haldane, Richard Burdon||Monckton, Edward Philip||Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier|
|Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord G.||More, Robert Jasper||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robt. Wm.||Morrell, George Herbert||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Hanson, Sir Reginald||Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptf'rd)||Tomlinson, Wm. Ed. Murray|
|Hardy, Laurence||Murdoch, Chas. Townshend||Valentia, Viscount|
|Heath, James||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. Grhm (Bute)||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|Helder, Augustus||Myers, William Henry||Webster, Sir R. E. (I. of W.)|
|Hermon-Hodge, Robt. Trotter||Newdigate, Francis Alexander||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-|
|Hill, Rt. Hn. Lord Arth. (Down)||Nicholson, William Graham||Whiteley, H. (Ashton-under-L.)|
|Hill, Sir Edw. Stock (Bristol)||Nicol, Donal Ninian||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Hoare, Ed. Brodie (Hampst'd)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Williams, Josh. Powell- (Birm.)|
|Holland, Hon. Lionel Raleigh||Parkes, Ebenezer||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Hubbard, Hon. Evelyn||Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Jebb, Richard Claverhouse||Pollock, Harry Frederick||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Johnston, William (Belfast)||Provand, Andrew Dryburgh|
|Kemp, George||Purvis, Robert||Wilson, J. W. (Worc. N.)|
|Kimber, Henry||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne||Wodehouse, Edm. R. Bath)|
|Knowles, Lees||Renshaw, Charles Bine||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Lafone, Alfred||Rentoul, James Alexander||Wylie, Alexander|
|Lawson, Jno. Grant (Yorks.)||Ridley, Rt. Hn. Sir Matthew W.||Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.|
|Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson|
|Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.||Round, James||Sir William Walrond and|
|Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller||Sharpe, Wm. Edward T.||Mr. Anstruther.|
|Allen, Wm. (Newc.-under-L.)||Galloway, William Johnson||Price, Robert John|
|Baker, Sir John||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Robertson, Herbt. (Hackney)|
|Birrell, Augustine||Gretton, John||Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire)|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Hayne, Rt. Hn. Chas. Seale-||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Brunner, Sir Jno. Tomlinson||Joicey, Sir James||Strachey, Edward|
|Caldwell, James||Lambert, George||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Cameron, Sir Chas. (Glasgow)||Lawrence, Wm. F. (L'pool.)||Thomas, David Alf. (Merthyr)|
|Clark, Dr. G. B. (Caithness-sh.)||Leng, Sir John||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Clough, Walter Owen||MacAleese, Daniel||Warner, Thos. Courtenay T.|
|Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||M'Arthur, Charles (L'pool.)||Wilson, John (Govan)|
|Davitt, Michael||M'Arthur, Wm. (Cornwall)||Wilson, Jos. H. (Middl'sbrough)|
|Duckworth, James||M'Kenna, Reginald||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V.||Moss, Samuel||Woodhouse, Sir J. T. (Huddrsfld)|
|Dunn, Sir William||O'Connor, Arthur (Donegal)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Ellis, Thos. Ed. (Merionethsh.)||Philipps, John Wynford||Mr. Jonathan Samuel and|
|Forwood, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur B.||Pirie, Captain Duncan||Mr. Gibson Bowles.|
Question agreed to.