§ VISCOUNT SIDMOUTH
asked Her Majesty's Government, "Whether it is their intention to adopt any measures for improving and extending harbour accommodation on the coasts of the United Kingdom, with a view to the increased protection of human life and of commerce from shipwreck? From the evidence recently laid before the public it appeared that there were but very few harbours on the Eastern Coast. When the Royal Commission reported in 1859 the loss of property by wrecks amounted to £1,500,000 annually, but it now amounted to £2,000,000. He hoped the Government would look at the question from a financial point of view. He introduced a deputation upon this subject to the late President of the Board of Trade, who spoke in a most discouraging manner, and said that he did not believe that the loss of life and property would be very much lessened by the establishment of harbours of refuge. That statement, he might say, was received with murmurs of disapprobation, followed by something like laughter, by the 30 or 40 gentlemen connected with naval affairs who were present. Such was his opinion of the importance of the subject that, whatever Government might be in Office next year, he should bring it under the notice of the House,
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE (The Duke of RICHMOND)
said, there was no Member of that House, and certainly no Member of the Government, who did not admit most fully the great importance of harbour accommodation throughout the country, and everyone must deplore very much the loss of life among our sailors at sea. But, on the part of the Government, he was bound to say that they had no intention of departing from the policy of successive Governments for, he thought, 25 years past, by which they had always declined to make grants to public authorities for harbour construction except in cases of Imperial and national necessity. With regard to the subject of loans to harbour authorities, that matter was now under the consideration of the Board of Trade and of the Treasury, and he hoped that at no great distance of time some arrangement would be made. These loans were granted to assist authorities in making harbours. But the noble Lord, he took it, had an idea that the Government should undertake to construct harbours all round the coast. He was afraid he could not give his noble Friend a more distinct answer.
§ VISCOUNT SIDMOUTH
said, that £24,000,000 had already been expended by private bodies upon harbour works, and what he wished was that the Government should give every encouragement and assistance in its power to those who would in the future undertake the construction of harbours.
§ House adjourned at a quarter past Seven o'clock, till To-morrow, a quarter past Ten o'clock.