§ Where any ship or goods belonging to any of His Majesty's subjects, after being 1639 taken as prize by the enemy, is or are retaken from the enemy by any of His Majesty's ships of war, the same shall be restored by decree of a Prize Court to the owner.
§ Sir J. SIMON
I beg to move to leave out the words "by decree of a Prize Court."
The Grand Committee came to the conclusion that what usually is known as prize salvage, that is to say the special reward which is decreed by a Prize Court to be given to a man-o'-war for the recapture from the enemy of a British merchantman, should cease to be so held. There was a long discussion in which opinion was very equally divided, and not by any means divided on party lines. The Government accept the view which the Committee entertained, that after such recapture the merchantman shall be handed back to the owner without a decree of the Prize Court. This is quite distinct from prize bounty, which is a reward given from the public funds to the officers and men of one of His Majesty's ships who have exerted themselves in capturing or destroying any armed ship of His Majesty's enemies. Of course, it also does not deal with prize money, which is the means by which in ancient times, and it may be to-day, the officers and men of the Navy take some direct interest in the proceeds of a prize, that is to say, a foreign merchantman which happened to be captured in the event of war. This is not a case of foreign merchantmen or foreign men-o'-war, but the recapture of a British merchantman which has, unfortunately, been captured.
I desire to ask whether the point as to whether salvage money should be paid or not is covered by this Amendment, because I have an Amendment subsequently, and if this Amendment raises the whole point perhaps it will be more convenient to take it now.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
If the acceptance of the Amendment would prejudice the Amendment of the hon. Member he ought to say what he has to say now.
Although the Solicitor-General has made a very short speech he is really proposing to make a very great alteration in the law. My Amendment proposes to restore the Clause granting in certain cases this salvage money, and the Clause which was in the original Bill, and in favour of which the Government 1640 made a gallant fight in Committee upstairs. I do not know whether their efforts were exhausted by the gallantry of their fight because apparently they seem to wish to change their mind now and to accept their defeat. I think a Government ought never to accept defeat, and I wish to support the earlier or better mind of the Government which differed from their present position. There are one or two grounds why I am strongly in favour of retaining the old rule about salvage money. The first of those grounds is because of antiquity. Salvage money for recaptures is among the oldest codes of maritime law. You find it in the Consolato del Mare of those trading in the Western Mediterranean as early as the Eleventh Century. Those customs have been followed by Statutes, and one of the earliest Statutes in this country was that in the Commonwealth of 1648 by which one-eighth of the value in lieu of salvage was given on recapture. From that day to this there have been no less than thirteen of those Statutes which terminated with the end of the war for which they were passed. In 1864 a permanent Statute was passed, declaring that under certain circumstances this salvage money should be paid. The Clause I wish to restore to this Bill is the same Clause as was contained in the Bill of 1864.
So much for the antiquity of the custom, and if you wish to go from habit or custom to authority, I challenge hon. Members opposite to point to a single great authority on International law, which does not support the custom. The only difference really is as to the exact mode and standard by which the amount of money should be considered, and whether it should be on the value of the ship or the difficulty encountered by the sailors in trying to recover the ship. Under the Statute law of this country the property of the ship is not invested in the captor until it has been recaptured after it has been condemned in the Court of the other Power, while according to International law the vesting of the vessel in the captor takes place at an earlier period. Is there any reason on principle why this salvage money should not be paid?
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the ADMIRALTY (Dr. Macnamara)
Prize salvage money.
I think there is none. It is argued, of course, on the other side by those who are against it that the Navy, in recapturing these merchant vessels, is 1641 simply doing its duty, and therefore it is not necessary that the men should be paid as they are only doing their duty. I am bound to say I think that argument applies as much to ordinary prize money, and as the Government are going to retain the one I think they ought to retain the other. I am in favour of both, and I think the reasons in favour of the payment of some reward are intensified as the years go on because the service of the Navy is enormously more risky and the dangers and difficulties with submarines, torpedoes, and the like, much greater than they were previously, and as the pay of the Navy, compared with the rise in prices, is not as adequate as it might be it ought, therefore, to be supplemented in other ways. I understand that some of the shipowners are strongly opposed to the payment of this salvage money. They say that as they contribute to the taxes they ought to pay no more if their great vessels are recaptured after they are taken. I think that that is rather a niggardly view, because, after all, in the capture of these vessels the Naval Service may have had a very tough time, the capture may have been effected with great difficulty, men may have lost their lives and others have been wounded, and, whatever view other people may take, I do not think it lies with those who have had their vessels saved and their whole value handed back to them to grudge the payment of money to, it may be, the widows of those who have fallen in the struggle. I hope, therefore, that no shipowner, at any rate, or representative of shipowners, will put forward a single argument against the payment of prize salvage money in these cases.
There is an even worse argument than that. They do not say so much, "We do not want to pay something," as "We do not want to pay so much." Vessels have enormously increased in size and their cargoes in value in the last twenty years; therefore it is suggested that one-eighth is too much. If a big vessel like the "Lusitania" or the "Mauretania" were captured, the idea of one-eighth of its value in prize-money would make one's mouth water. Still, you could put the argument on the other side just as forcibly. If a shipowner has been secured from the total loss of one of these great vessels he ought not to grudge paying a share of that which he has been saved by the efforts of His Majesty's Navy. I have retained in my proposal the precise wording of the Act of 1864, which also was approved by 1642 the Government. Moreover, the proportion happens to be the same as obtains in the laws of the United States, and no one will contend that the United States have not vessels as large as those which we possess. Therefore, as regards the amount of payment, I do not think the objection ought strongly to apply—more especially as under the Clause agreements for any less amount, if entered into, may be sanctioned by the Court. I need say nothing on the provisos of the Clause; they are perfectly clear and simple. Therefore, to sum up my argument, I ask the Government to restore this Clause on these general grounds: first, on the ground of immemorial custom; secondly, that authority is in favour of it; thirdly, that it obtains in the codes of all the great maritime Powers; and, fourthly, that it is fair and right, if you are going to maintain prize money, and in the interest of general policy, that some reward in these cases of recapture should be given to the men who, in order to effect the recapture, may have gone through very serious danger. Cases might be mentioned where prizes have been very easily recaptured. In such cases you have the Court, and you must assume ordinary common sense in the Court. Grants of money will not be allowed by the Court unless there has been a real struggle for the recapture or the vessel has been recaptured under serious circumstances.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
This Amendment raises the whole question of whether we shall continue prize salvage. Clause 30, as it went to the Grand Committee, contained provisions for prize salvage in the case of the recapture of a merchant ship by a British ship of war. It was really a re-enactment for consolidation purposes of Section 40 of the Act of 1864. When my hon. Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Holt) moved to take out prize salvage, in which Motion he was successful, it was not a party matter, because he was supported by two Members whom I see opposite—the hon. Member for Brighton (Captain Tryon) and the hon. Member for Andover (Captain Faber). On that occasion I took the view that this was a domestic matter, entirely extraneous or certainly incidental to the main purpose of the Bill. We were bringing up this Clause, together with the Clauses dealing with prize money and prize bounty for consolidation purposes. There was no need to re-enact them. We could have left them in the Act of 1864, and gone on with 1643 this Bill apart from them, but, as a matter of public convenience they were put into this particular measure. Therefore I took the position that it was scarcely an occasion on which the Amendment should be made, and I urged that the Clause should be allowed to stand. The matter having been raised, the Committee proceeded, as they were entitled to do, to consider the whole policy of prize salvage. Under the Act of 1864 the position is that, if a merchant ship is captured and subsequently re-captured by a British ship of war, prize salvage is to be awarded. The position taken upstairs was that we all pay our taxes to provide the British Navy, part of whose duty it is—and it has always done it admirably—to protect British commerce; and the suggestion was that it was not fair to shipowners that they should be asked to pay over again, because all that the Navy has done is no more and no less than its duty. After a full discussion on the merits of the case from that point of view, my hon. Friend's Amendment was carried by fifteen to eleven, and he was supported, as I have said, by the hon. Member for Brighton and the hon. Member for Andover, who certainly cannot be suspected of doing anything to the detriment of the Navy or to injure the safety or prosperity of British commerce. I immediately placed the matter before the then First Lord, who is now Home Secretary, and the two questions of prize salvage and prize money were discussed at a meeting of the Board. It would not be true to say that the views on the question of the retention of prize salvage were absolutely identical, but I can say that the general view was that prize salvage in or prize salvage out really did not matter very much. There was no feeling strong enough, as far as they were concerned, to suggest that we should reinsert the proposal to award prize salvage.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I am relating what happened at the Board. It is some time ago. There was not a sufficiently strong feeling either way to justify us in asking for the reinsertion of the provision as to prize salvage. That is a perfectly fair description of what happened at the Board. The question of prize money is a different question altogether, and I shall have something to say about that later on.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I defended it on the ground that we ought not to deal with a purely domestic matter in a Bill of this sort, when we were merely consolidating. A suggestion was made upstairs, I think rather humorously than otherwise, that you might have a naval officer so lost to a sense of duty that he might conceivably let a British ship be captured in order that he might recapture it.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I agree. I remember that it was laughed at, and perhaps it was not a serious suggestion. Having, as I say, ascertained to the best of our ability the general feeling of the Board of Admiralty on the question of prize salvage, we feel that on the whole it is a case where the verdict of the Committee, which was not arrived at by a party vote at all, might very well be allowed to stand.
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ Sir R. FINLAY
I entirely agree with the reason put forward by the Secretary to the Admiralty when defending in the Committee the retention of prize salvage. Apart from the question of the International Court, this is a consolidation Bill, and it is not an occasion on which a great change of this kind should be introduced. With regard to the suggestion that some members of the Navy might allow ships to be captured in order that they might have the honour of recapturing them, I cannot regard that except as a joke, and, I may say, a very bad one. I think prize salvage should be retained because it is just in itself. When such a conspicuous service has been rendered by one of His Majesty's ships as the recapture of a vessel, and he has got back that which otherwise would have been totally lost to him, the instinct of the British shipowner would be that some reward was due to those who had been engaged at the risk of their lives in rendering that conspicuous service. It is 1645 true it is their duty to do it, and they discharge their duty. Let me just put this case to the House, and ask them whether the shipowner would not feel rather small if, under the circumstances, salvage was not paid. A captain of one of His Majesty's ships cannot be doing two things at once. He has the opportunity of capturing a most valuable merchantman belonging to the enemy, or the opportunity of rescuing a British ship which has been captured by the enemy. With that sense of duty which has always animated the Navy before everything else, the captain of the British cruiser, doing that which seems to be most in discharge of his duty and in the interests of the country, saves the British ship, whilst the enemy's merchantman escapes. Thereby he loses for himself, and for his crew, a share of the prize money or bounty which they would have got. He has sacrificed the prize bounty in order to rescue the British ship. I do think, under those circumstances, that it would be a very mean thing indeed if the shipowner objected to the payment of prize salvage. I regard prize salvage as just in itself, I think to take it away would be a great mistake in the interests of shipowners and others, and I further most strongly agree with the Secretary of the Admiralty that a Consolidation Bill of this kind is not the occasion for the change.
§ Mr. HOLT
It is all very well to say that a change in the law ought not to be made in a Consolidation Bill, but how on earth is a private Member to get any change in the law if he does not take the opportunities open to him? It must be perfectly obvious to everyone that if those private Members who object to prize salvage had waited till they had got an opportunity of bringing in a Bill and carrying it, that they might have waited 150 years. Therefore it is necessary to take the opportunity when we get it. I am very glad, too, that the Government have decided to support the decision of the Grand Committee. It would be an unfortunate thing for Grand Committee work if it was taken as a matter of course that the decisions of Grand Committee were going to be over ruled whenever some section of the House did not happen to like those decisions. It is quite clear you would not get hon. Members to give serious thought to the work of Grand Committee. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Taunton almost suggested that if the Government is defeated——
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
Oh, no, no! We should oppose the reinsertion of prize salvage. We propose to leave the Clause as it came down from Grand Committee.
§ Mr. HOLT
Another argument of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Taunton really strikes me as rather thin. He said he intended to support the original law on the ground of antiquity. That is an argument by which you can defend almost every conceivable abuse that ever existed on the face of the earth. That was the argument used to defend the old penal laws, when a man was hanged for stealing 5s. I object to the whole system of prize salvage. I object plainly and openly as a shipowner. It is not only a question for the shipowner. It is just as much a question for the merchant whose goods are carried on board. We, that is the shipowners and merchants, say that we pay our taxes in precisely the same manner as any other taxpayer in this country, and we are entitled, as having paid for them, to the use of His Majesty's armed forces to defend and rescue our property in precisely the same way as the property of other people is defended and rescued That is our case put on broad and general, and, as we conceive, grounds of justice.
No other class is asked to pay prize salvage. Supposing a hostile cruiser landed a force on a British island and took possession of that British island. Supposing the armed forces of the Crown subsequently drove the invaders off the island. Does anyone for a moment suggest that the owners of property on that island would be asked to pay a special contribution towards recovering the property that belonged to them? What is the difference between that position and the position of the shipowner? I cannot conceive any possible reason for making a difference between the owners of landed property, which is invaded by a hostile force and the owner of a ship which is also invaded by a hostile force. I remember very well, when the South African war was going on, some person suggested that the inhabitants of Kimberley ought to pay salvage. The Government of the day treated that 1647 proposal with very scant consideration. Yet that was precisely the same suggestion as is now being put forward. I would like to call the attention of the House to another point in this connection. If you put this obligation to pay prize salvage on the ship and the cargo, you increase the cost of carriage during a time of war. You are therefore necessarily, by increasing the premium of insurance, adding to the cost of using British ships to bring merchandise to this country in time of war, and that is the very thing that everybody is so anxious about. We are all anxious that British ships should be used as much as possible to feed this country in time of war. It seems to me an exceptionally foolish step to take under the circumstances to put unnecessary burdens on shipping and sea-borne commerce. We ought instead to keep as many off as we possibly can.
I do not want it to be understood for a moment that I suggest that any of us begrudge proper payment for the officers of the Navy. They ought to be properly paid for the work they do. But what on earth that has to do with the value of the prizes which they may recapture I cannot for the life of me conceive. Why a naval officer should receive a large sum for recapturing a vessel that has had on a prize crew for half an hour, when he gets nothing for a sanguinary engagement that perhaps has happened a little while before for saving the same vessel from capture, I cannot see. Let naval officers be paid the sum that Parliament thinks proper for services rendered during a time of war. I am quite sure that Parliament will meet such an application in no grudging spirit. But I strongly object to the pay of naval officers being made dependent on the haphazard as to whether or not they have been lucky in capturing or recapturing valuable merchantmen. I am very glad that the Government are standing by the Committee, and I shall certainly support them to the best of my ability.
§ Captain TRYON
I am one who supports the principle of prize money, and who has done his best in Grand Committee to retain prize money for the Navy. Furthermore, I am quite prepared to say that those officers and men who successfully take part in the recapture of British ships should be rewarded. I am not, however, able to see why the reward of those officers and men should fall upon the shipping industry, and not upon the whole 1648 community. The shipping industry is the one industry which, above all others, will deserve the support of the country in time of war. We want to do all we can to get our ships to go out to sea and to embark in trade in time of war, and to impose the task of rewarding the Navy on the shipping industry, and not on the whole country, is to my mind discouraging our merchantmen in time of war. I believe that this is a national interest. If rewards are to be given they should be given in the form of rewards from the nation, and not rewards from the particular industry concerned. After all, the shipping industry pay their taxes towards the upkeep of the Navy, and I do not see why this heavy burden should be put on them. I stand absolutely by what I said in Committee, and I am glad to see that the Government are now taking that view. I have only risen because I feel that as I took that line in Committee I am bound to get up and say so now.
§ Mr. J. WARD
This has been a very interesting discussion. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Taunton who moved the Amendment suggested that one of the reasons, the special reason, why he urged his Amendment, and that the suggestion of the Government should not be entertained, was that this particular form of prize money in naval engagements bad great antiquity. The mere age of it is sufficient to enable the hon. Member to justify its continued existence! I suggest that the conditions that prevail so far as the Navy and the mercantile marine are concerned in a naval war are entirety changed from the time when this principle was first instituted. There is another situation. I understand that naval strategy to-day is not a question of ships being in an equally good position for purposes of capture or recapture of the vessels of the enemy or our own. The protection of our commerce is a special class of work. The consequence is that the whole of the men who may be engaged in defending this country in our battleships will face the enemy in the battle line, and give their lives in defence of their country without any possible chance under present arrangements of getting any prize money. It is extremely doubtful whether they will get a pension for the widows and children that are left behind. Fast cruisers specially built will, I understand, be detailed for the class of work which we have under discussion. I am not distinguishing between prize bounty and I prize salvage. I am against either policy. 1649 Even if we are to take into account the suggestion of the hon. Member who defends prize salvage, it is only a certain class of ships as a rule that will enable them to take prizes of this description.
Therefore, it is merely enforcing an assumption that is so antiquated and ridiculous and so unfair that it should no longer continue. In Naval Debates in this House, when demands are made upon the British taxpayer for more money for the building of "Dreadnoughts" and other ships and for the upkeep of the personnel of the Navy, we are told that it is for the purpose of insurance for our oversea trade. Figures are sometimes quoted to show that it is only so much per cent. insurance on tonnage and merchandise. If this is a system of insurance which we establish, the shipowners have to pay with the rest of the citizens of the country for this insurance for their property, and to ask them to pay a particular duty under the circumstances suggested here seems to me to be one of the most ridiculous propositions that can be imagined. Take another state of things, where, for instance, military operations are being conducted. If soldiers capture a town and perhaps lose hundreds and thousands of lives, we do not dream of giving them prizes, neither do we in the case where a town has been captured by the enemy and recaptured by our soldiers do we dream of levying a special poundage rate upon the town and distributing it amongst the officers and soldiers engaged in the recapture. What justice is there in saying we are not prepared to protect the property of British citizens unless they specially pay for that protection?
§ Mr. J. WARD
I say so, and we are the best judges and not the men who are going to pocket the money. I think it would be an outrageous proposition that, in the case of ships belonging to the mercantile marine, lost perhaps because of the want of vigilance or culpable negligence and captured by the enemy, should be paid for in prize money if they are recaptured again, and that there should be demanded from our citizens a special toll because men had simply done their duty. I am glad to find that some Members on the other side of the House who have the welfare of the Navy at heart objected to such a proposition as well as Members upon this side. In the Committee upstairs, two Service Members of the Opposition voted against this proposition, believing it to be 1650 unfair and unjust. The most peculiar argument advanced in favour of it, was that put forward by the right hon. Gentleman (Sir B. Finlay) on the Front Bench opposite. He referred to a suggestion that an officer might through culpable negligence neglect to save a ship until an enemy's prize crew was put aboard, and might wait until then before capturing it in order to get the prize-money. He repudiated that, but he suggested where there was a chance of capturing an enemy's merchant ship, unless you had prize money for defending your own ship, an officer might let your ship go and take one of the enemy's instead, because he would get a prize for doing so. I was never taught logic, but I imagined the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion of what might happen in that case was even worse than the suggestion he was trying to repudiate in the other case.
§ Sir R. FINLAY
The hon. Gentleman will forgive me. What I said was, that if the captain of a cruiser sacrificed a valuable merchantman belonging to the enemy and thereby gave up his chance of poundage in order to save the British ship, it was a right and proper thing that he should get a prize having sacrificed a good chance of making a lot of money in order to stand by a British ship.
§ Mr. J. WARD
I am not sure that that is not even worse than the other cases put by the right hon. Gentleman. I never heard it suggested if something was stolen and the police proceeded at the risk of their lives to recapture the property and did recapture it, that the man who owned the property was to have a levy imposed upon him to pay the policeman who had risked his life in getting it back. The fact is, I quite see, that the Government and the Admiralty when they came to consider this matter, being reasonable and straightforward men, saw that there was no possible justification for this suggestion.
§ Mr. BUTCHER
I listened with some interest to the views of the shipowners as expressed by the hon. Member (Mr. Holt), and I am bound to say he entirely failed to convince me that when a shipowner loses his ship owing to its capture by an enemy, he is entitled, as a matter of right, to get back his valuable property without paying a penny for the recovery of it. That seems to me not consonant with the principle of justice. I should have thought that the shipowner himself would be only too happy to pay for such valuable 1651 service. Why should a British shipowner not do something of the kind for the men who at great exertion, and it may be at the risk of their lives, recover his property for him? I do not see why the shipowner should get off without paying anything at all. The hon. Member (Mr. Holt) said he did not like to disturb the decisions of the Committee. But there were only twenty-six Members in the Committee, of whom eleven voted one way and fifteen the other, and I entirely repudiate the idea that that decision is in any way binding upon the rest of the 670 Members of this House who were not present.
§ Sir J. SIMON
The hon. and learned Gentleman was a member of that Committee, but he did not take the trouble to attend.
§ Mr. BUTCHER
I think that is a somewhat ungenerous suggestion of the hon. and learned Gentleman. I attended the Committee as often as I could, but on that particular occasion I was unfortunately unable to attend owing to professional duties. However, I will not go into that matter now. The hon. Member (Mr. Holt) seems to think he should pay nothing for getting back his ship because he says he pays taxes and is entitled to protection. So he is. We are all entitled to protection, but what the hon. Gentleman wants is to have some special benefit in the case of his particular trade and to get it for nothing. He does not want to pay anything special to the Navy any more than the rest of us, yet he expects to get this special protection without paying anything for it. The hon. Gentleman who spoke last (Mr. J. Ward) seemed to think there was something degrading in this kind of thing. I can only say it is the first time for some hundreds of years that that view was put forward by maritime representatives in this or even in any other country. I stand up for the interests of the British sailor. Hon. Gentlemen opposite stand up for the interests of the British shipowner. Where these interests conflict I shall always support the interests of the British sailor, and I hope the House will do the same. Let the House remember that this is not a new theory initiated by the House in the course of the last few years. It was advocated by every leader of maritime importance for the last 300 years, and it is part of the legislation of almost every maritime country in the world. The United States, France, Spain, Holland, and so on have had it, and only differ as to how much is to 1652 be paid for salvage. In some cases where a ship is captured by an enemy and remains for a certain time in possession of the enemy, the right of the owner is absolutely forfeited; and if that ship is recovered or recaptured, so far from the owner having any right to get it back, he has no right to it at all, and it becomes the right of the Navy. My hon. Friend the Solicitor-General will not deny that in some cases a ship is absolutely forfeited in many countries, but the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Holt) says, "No matter whether my ship is forfeited or not, I want to get it back for nothing." Let me say a word about the facts of our own country.
The provisions in this Bill in the Committee upstairs were the same provisions that appear in the 43 and 45 cap. George III. more than a hundred years ago, and they had remained unquestioned on the Statute Book ever since; and there were Acts of a similar nature a hundred or two hundred years previously to that. So far as I know, this right of prize salvage for the British Navy was never questioned or attacked until it was attacked in the Committee upstairs. No responsible British statesman was ever heard to object to British sailors having their salvage prize money. It has been reserved for the hon. Member for Hexham—who, in a Committee upstairs, consisting of twenty-six Members, brought forward this Amendment, which was carried by a majority of four—to ask this House to confirm that decision. I listened with some interest to the speech of the Secretary to the Admiralty, and I thought he was going to explain why the Committee had used all their energies to oppose the hon. Member for Hexham's proposal, whereas now they are using all their eloquence to support him. What is the reason alleged for this extraordinary change of front? The only reason the right hon. Gentleman gave for supporting the proposal was that it is the duty of the Navy to protect British commerce, and that therefore you must abolish prize salvage.
§ Mr. BUTCHER
It is contended that in protecting British commerce and recapturing British ships, that the Navy is only doing its duty. It is the duty of Foreign countries to protect their commerce, and is every legislator in a Foreign country to be told that he has done something degrading because he has supported the view that the sailors who recapture ships should get prize money? I regret extremely that 1653 the Government should have changed their front for no reason which has been alleged or can be alleged, and I hope the House, on this occasion will refuse to reaffirm the decision come to by a small Committee by a majority of four, and reaffirm by its vote those principles which have animated every writer and statesman of eminence with regard to salvage money since time immemorial.
§ Mr. CHARLES DUNCAN
It is obvious that after all what is required in a matter of this kind is only a little common sense. I can suppose a case of this kind arising. We hear a good deal in this House occasionally about the shortages of the Navy. There might be a shipowner on the same side as the hon. Member opposite, and he might complain very strongly about the shortage in the Navy. War might take place and the hon. Member might have agitated for increasing the size of the Navy, and it might be because the Navy had not been kept up to the proper pitch that his ships were captured. If they are recaptured, then the shipowner is to be asked to pay extra because the Navy has not been kept up to the strength which he advocated. I think that is a position which nobody could get up and defend in this House, because you would be imposing a burden upon a man for the reason that the nation had not kept up the Navy to its proper strength. The hon. Member for Stoke seems to have aroused the wrath of the hon. Member for York (Mr. Butcher). It seems to me that you are proposing to treat the naval hero in the spirit of a flunkey. The men in the Navy should be paid a proper remuneration for carrying out their duties. I think every man in this House recognises that the men in the Navy are prepared and willing to carry their lives in their hands in defence of their country. I think we all recognise that. It may be that the men in the Navy deserve better wages and conditions, and I should be willing to vote in the same Lobby as any hon. Member opposite as soon as ever he desires to effect some improvement in the wages and conditions of the men engaged in the Navy.
This kind of vicarious reward is not the kind of thing the man in the Navy desires. What he wants is to have a permanency in his wages and his position, and he expects, and rightly expects, that, by the pay he receives he will be able to lead a reasonable life, and not depend upon any such reward as this, which he can only receive in time of war. 1654 The hon. Member for Stoke has referred to the case of the police, and he mentioned the great scene in the East-end of London in the Sydney Street affair. Here was a case where the men in the Metropolitan Police not only carried their lives in their hands, but a number of them lost their lives in the performance of their duties. If those men had recaptured what had been stolen, or if any policeman or detective succeeds in recovering stolen property, why should they be entitled to some special reward for having recovered that property? This seems quite a new doctrine to me. It is argued that this proposal should be adopted because it has been the custom with regard to the Navy, and has been in operation for hundreds of years. It does not appear to matter how foolish it may be, but because it has been carried on for hundreds of years, despite all reason and common sense and arguments, it is to be retained, although it has got by this time completely out of date. As the hon. Member for Hexham pointed out with very great force and strength, if ever there is a naval war it should be the business of this country to endeavour to allow the merchant seamen of this country and the ships to travel with the least conceivable risk. We hear a good deal about the importation of foodstuffs into this country in time of war, and we are told by some people, almost in a breathless state of excitement, that we might be starved into submission. By this proposal you are going to help the enemy to starve us into submission by putting an extra risk on those who endeavour to run the mercantile of this country. Such a proposal will not stand argument, and it is against all modern, up-to-date common sense. For this reason I support the Government.
§ Mr. STEWART
As one who sat upstairs upon the Committee, and as one who took part in the gallant fight for this prize salvage, I regret that the Government has seen their way to run away from the proposition which they put before us upstairs. The discussion on the Committee was going on fairly well until somebody mentioned the "Lusitania," and it was stated that the reward in the case of such a vessel as one-eighth would be a very large sum of money indeed. I admit that in such a case it would represent a very large sum, but to withdraw the whole prize salvage and give nothing on that account seems to me to be a very strong step to take. The Court which would decide such matters is 1655 well able to take into consideration the risks attending the act of saving a ship, and I think it would be a mistake to lay down any definite percentage in regard to the prize money. It will not be denied that prize salvage tends to prevent the destruction of property. We are now dealing with young men who may be called upon to enter into all sorts of desperate enterprises, and to some extent a reward of this kind would encourage recruiting. I was very much struck with the ungenerous attitude which the hon. Member for Stoke took up towards the British seaman. He said a sailor was a sort of man who has a life of chance. In my opinion, to rob him of this little bit of luck is a most ungenerous thing. Hon. Members opposite are adopting a sort of highly moral tone in regard to salvage, but why do they not object to salvage in time of peace? The principle of reward for salvage at sea in time of peace is accepted, and why salvage in time of war should be struck out altogether in this way I fail to see.
The Secretary to the Admiralty said he submitted this case to the Board of Admiralty, but now the Government have got a new Board, and would it not be advisable to submit such a serious change to them? This shows what a very poor substitute a Standing Committee upstairs is to the House of Commons. At one moment the decision of the Committee is brushed on one side, and on another occasion it is accepted. I cannot see how the Government can justify their attitude in slating on one occasion that the decision of a Committee upstairs is final, and on another occasion that such a decision has no weight at all. I disagree with what the hon. Member for Hexham and the hon. Member for Barrow said. Underwriters, in making their return, will take into consideration all risks, and if our sailors in time of war are given prize salvage the rates of underwriting will be reduced. This proposal will establish a sporting chance, and the underwriters will consider that chance and accept lower premiums. I consider it a very regrettable thing that an Ancient right of the Navy should be cut out at a moment's notice owing to a snap Division upstairs, when the Government did all they could to get the Committee to come to an adverse decision to that which they arrived at. I still hope that with a new Board of Admiralty the Parliamentary Secretary may see his way not quite finally to accept 1656 this Clause. He does not look very happy about it. The Navy does not like its privileges encroached upon. I hope, therefore, he will see his way to give a Court some right of awarding salvage in time of war if ships are recovered by the efforts of our own Navy.
§ Mr. HODGE
The hon. Member who has just sat down endeavoured to draw a distinction between salvage in time of peace and what he described as salvage in time of war, but he forgot that salvage in time of peace means payment for services rendered, and that what he described as salvage in time of war means that the State is doing something for the protection of the property of its citizens.
§ Mr. STEWART
No; what I said was the fact that seamen get something for salving a ship increases their efforts to do it.
§ Mr. HODGE
I do not think the hon. Gentleman has disproved the contrast I have drawn with respect to what he himself said. He also talked of desperate undertakings in naval warfare. Have not the Army desperate undertakings? You do not give any extra prize money to them. I cannot profess to be a naval expert, and I was rather surprised at the logic of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for York (Mr. Butcher). Suppose his house was burglariously entered and a great deal of valuable property was taken away, he would not be compelled to pay any prize money if his property was recovered by the police and restored to him. It appears to me that so far as capture at sea is concerned it ought to be in exactly the same category. We have a better case even than the police. There is the fire brigade who in this great city day in and day out and week in and week out are saving property. You never hear of them being paid for their services so far as the property is concerned. It does not appear to me because this question of prize money is an ancient thing that is any sound reason why it should be continued. The whole of the men in the Navy do not participate so far as prize money is concerned. If they all participated, there might be something to be said in its favour, but, as only certain sections receive it, it does not appear to me to be a right thing. If any proposal were made for making the Navy more attractive to seamen than it is to-day, no one would give 1657 such a proposal more hearty support than I would. If I might throw out a suggestion, I would say, let British vessels which have been captured by any enemy and recaptured by our Navy, if manned by foreigners, be the sole property so far as prize money is concerned of the Navy. That would cause a great many of our so-
§ patriotic shipowners to engage Britishers for the maiming of their ships.
§ Question put, "That the words 'by decree of a Prize Court' stand part of the Clause."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 87; Noes, 160.1659
|Division No. 433.]||AYES.||[7.50 p.m.|
|Aitken, Sir William Max||Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Pole-Carew, Sir R.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major William||Fell, Arthur||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Archer-Shee, Major Martin||Finlay, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert||Pryce-Jones, Col. E. (M'tgom'y B'ghs)|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Ashley, W. W.||Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead)||Rawson, Colonel R. H.|
|Baird, J. L.||Gardner, Ernest||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Balcarres, Lord||Gibbs, G. A.||Rolleston, Sir John|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Gilmour, Captain J.||Rutherford, W. (Liverpool, W. Derby)|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Gordon, John (Londonderry, South)||Sanders, Robert A.|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Gretton, John||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Guinness, Hon. W. E.||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish-||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington)||Staveley-Hill, Henry|
|Bigland, Alfred||Harris, Henry Percy||Stewart, Gershom|
|Boyle, W. L. (Norfolk, Mid.)||Hill, Sir Clement||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Horner, Andrew Long||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Houston, Robert Paterson||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Jackson, Sir John||Valentia, Viscount|
|Cassel, Felix||Jardine, E. (Somerset, E.)||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Kerry, Earl of||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin)||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Kirkwood, J. H. M.||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Cooper, Richard Ashmole||Kyffin-Taylor, G.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Croft, Henry Page||Macmaster, Donald||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Denniss, E. R. B.||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine)||Yate, Col. C. E.|
|Dixon, C. H.||Mason, James F. (Windsor)|
|Doughty, Sir George||Parkes, Ebenezer||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Peel and Mr. Butcher,|
|Du Cross, Arthur Philip||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Johnson, W.|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)|
|Adamson, William||Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Jones, W. S. Glyn- (Stepney)|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Elibank, Rt. Hon. Master of||Jowett, F. W.|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Ffrench, Peter||Keating, M.|
|Alden, Percy||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Kellaway, Frederick George|
|Allen, Charles Peter (Stroud)||Furness, Stephen||Kelly, Edward|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||Lambert, George (Devon, S. Molton)|
|Barton, W.||Gibson, Sir James Puckering||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Gill, A. H.||Levy, Sir Maurice|
|Benn, W. (T. Hamlets, S. George)||Gladstone, W. G. C.||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Bentham, G. J.||Glanville, H. J.||Lundon, T.|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Goldston, Frank||Lynch, A. A.|
|Boland, John Pius||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Gulland, John William||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Hackett, J.||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Hancock, J. G.||M'Callum, John M.|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds.)||M'Laren, Hon. F. W. S. (Lincs., Spalding)|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||Marks, Sir George Croydon|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar)||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.)||Mason, David M. (Coventry)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Menzies, Sir Walter|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Mond, Sir Alfred M.|
|Chancellor, H. G.||Hayden, John Patrick||Morrell, Philip|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Hayward, Evan||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Clough, William||Helme, Norval Watson||Munro, R.|
|Clynes, J. R.||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Murray, Capt. Hon. A. C.|
|Collins, G. P. (Greenock)||Henry, Sir Charles||Nannetti, Joseph P.|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Higham, John Sharp||Neilson, Francis|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Hills, John Waller||Nolan, Joseph|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Hinds, John||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Crumley, Patrick||Hodge, John||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Holt, Richard Durning||O'Doherty, Philip|
|Devlin, Joseph||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||O'Dowd, John|
|Dillon, John||Hudson, Walter||O'Grady, James|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Hughes, S. L.||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)|
|Doris, William||John, Edward Thomas||O'Shee, James John|
|O'Sullivan, Timothy||Roche, Augustine (Louth)||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Palmer, Godfrey||Roe, Sir Thomas||Wadsworth, John|
|Parker, James (Halifax)||Rowlands, James||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Rowntree, Arnold||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||Wardle, George J.|
|Pirie, Duncan V.||Seely, Col. Rt. Hon. J. E. B.||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Pollard, Sir George H.||Sheeny, David||White, J. (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Power, Patrick Joseph||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)||Wiles, Thomas|
|Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Smyth, Thomas F.||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Raffan, Peter Wilson||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Sutton, John E.||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|Reddy, M.||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Thomas, James Henry (Derby)||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)||Toulmin, Sir George||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Dudley Ward.|
|Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Tryon, Captain George Clement|