HL Deb 04 August 1882 vol 273 cc738-40

, in rising to ask Her Majesty's Government, What steps the Board of Trade have taken on account of representations made to them as to the defective arrangements for the separation of the sexes in the ships of the Dominion Line? said, their Lordships were aware that among the emigrants going out to Canada were a number of unmarried women. Means were provided on the other side of the Atlantic for their reception on their arrival; but it did not appear that sufficient protection was provided for them during the passage. He thought that a proper female officer should be appointed to each steamer to see that the regulations for the separation of the sexes were properly carried out. He would be glad to hear from his noble Friend who represented the Board of Trade (Lord Sudeley) what arrangements would be made to remedy the present unsatisfactory state of things.


, in reply, said, that, in the first place, he should explain that the Board of Trade had never taken the extreme view-that was sometimes entertained that, in all cases, the sexes, married and single, should be kept separate on board emigrant ships proceeding across the Atlantic. The Board rather held to the view that it was better, in the interests of order and morality, that husbands and wives proceeding in the same ship should proceed together, rather than suffer a temporary divorce. It had been made clear to them that a husband and wife could look after and assist each other and their young child- ren by being together, much better than they could be looked after and helped if strict separation were the rule. What the Board of Trade had done was this —They had endeavoured to get the Companies to adopt a strict rule whereby the single men's quarters should be in the fore part of the ship, and the single women's quarters in the after part of the ship, with permanent bulkheads, and the married people's quarters between, so that there should be no connection between these several parts of the ship; and that separate and distinct ladder-ways should be provided for each of the three descriptions of passengers. Among the suggestions by the Board of Trade that had been made and were being carried out was that in every emigrant ship, there should be a matron, as the noble Lord wished. The duties of the matron were that she should be present at meal times; should receive complaints, if any were made, that any single female passenger or young person did not get due allowance of food or proper attention; that she should play the part of an ever-present domestic inspector, her special office being to encourage decency and order, and suppress any indecorum among the single females. He was very glad to be able to say that in the Companies doing the best trade in emigrant passengers, these suggestions, or nearly all of them, had been or were being carried out most effectively and loyally, with great benefits to all concerned; and it was only fair that he should, as was their due, congratulate those Companies on the way in which they had received the Board's suggestions and had acted on them. With regard to the particular Line referred to, he had not had sufficient time to ascertain particulars; but he was able to say that the last of the Dominion Line ships which left England had carried out all the suggestions of the Board of Trade, and it was hoped from this that the Company intended to carry them out in all their ships.


said, he wished to call the attention of the noble Lord (Lord Sudeley) to the fact that no condition was required by the Board of Trade as to the existence of watertight compartments in emigrants ships, these being, he believed, necessary for the safety of the passengers in the event of an accident.


said, he was unable to give the noble Earl any information; but the subject was one which, no doubt, deserved attention, and he would take care it should be brought before the Board.