HL Deb 10 July 1840 vol 55 cc589-90

On the motion of Viscount Duncannon, the House resolved itself into Committee on the Timber Ships Bill.

On the first clause,

Lord Colchester

rose for the purpose of moving the omission of certain words in order that its operation might be more extensive. The object of the bill was to prevent the great loss of vessels employed in the transportation of timber from North America. In the last session a committee of the House of Commons had been appointed to inquire into the subject, and from the evidence adduced before that committee it appeared that the loss of vessels employed in this trade had for a series of years been lamentably great. The committee, in their report, state— In 1838, eighteen ships are reported as wrecked on the shore, and forty-eight at sea; of twenty-seven of which there had been no accounts of the crews; of the remaining twenty-one the sufferings of the crews of two had been extreme; in one, the Earl Moira, four bodies only having been found under the maintop, all dead, with part of one of their comrades hung up like butcher's meat in a stall; and in the other, the Anna Maria, five bodies were found dead, with part of the leg of a woman by the side of one of them, who had evidently been feeding upon it; and one more, the Frederick, of St. John's, fallen in with by the Hope, with her crew lashed to the maintop, without the power of assisting them. The noble Lord quoted other passages from the report to show that no less than 73 ships, with crews amounting to 949 men, were lost in three years. The committee having thus stated their opinion that the carrying of deck loads of timber was the cause of such a fearful loss of life and property, an act was passed, in conformity with their recommendation, confining to the summer months the liberty of loading the decks with timber, and excluding the winter months. That measure, however, only applied to vessels crossing the Atlantic to the ports of the United Kingdom, and he wished to extend it to vessels proceeding to the West India colonies. He should, therefore, propose to strike out the word "any ports of the United Kingdom," for the purpose of rendering the provisions of the bill more extensively efficient.

Viscount Duncannon

believed, that the noble Lord had not exaggerated the extent of the losses sustained in this particular trade; and he also was of opinion that those losses were occasioned by piling up large quantities of timber on the decks of these vessels. He was anxious to adopt any measure that appeared likely to check such an evil; but many difficulties presented themselves against adopting the proposition of the noble Lord. Last year, when the subject was under consideration, the strongest possible representations were made to the Government from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, all of them setting forth, that if the bill was attempted to be applied to the colonial passages of timber ships, it would, in fact, put an end to that part of the trade between North America and the West Indies, which was one of the most important portions of their traffic. He could not, therefore, agree to the amendment.

Lord Ashburton

concurred in the observations of the noble Viscount: if the restriction, with respect to deck-loading, were extended to timber ships bound to the West-India colonies, it would immediately put an end to the trade in lumber.

Amendment withdrawn, bill went through Committee.

House resumed.

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