HL Deb 07 May 1888 vol 325 cc1431-7

Constitution of the Committee.


said, he moved to amend the constitution of the Committee. According to the Bill, it was provided that the Committee should be composed of:— (1) Three shipowners selected by the President of the Board of Trade out of a list of nine names submitted by the Council of the Chamber of Shipping of the United Kingdom; (2) three shipbuilders selected by the President of the Board of Trade out of a list of nine names submitted by the shipbuilders of the United Kingdom; (3) three persons practically acquainted with the navigation of vessels selected by the President of the Board of Trade out of a list of nine names submitted by the Local Marine Boards of the United Kingdom; (4) three persons being or having been able-bodied seamen selected by the President of the Board of Trade out of a list of nine names submitted by seamen's societies recognized by the President of the Board of Trade for this purpose; (5) three persons selected by the President of the Board of Trade out of a list of nine names to be submitted conjointly by the committee of Lloyd's and the committee of Lloyd's Register Society. He objected to the list of names of shipowners having to be submitted to the Board of Trade by the Chamber of Shipping of the United Kingdom. Although a very influential and valuable body, the Chamber of Shipping was by no means representative of all the ship-owning interests in the country. The chief objection he took to the present form of the Schedule was that the shipowners were to be selected by the Board of Trade out of a list submitted. Surely they were competent to elect their own representatives. He did not pretend that there was any novelty about the Schedule he proposed, but he claimed that it possessed the high authority of the Board itself, its leading features having already been submitted to the country in the form of a Circular issued by the Board in January, 1882.

Moved, That the constitution of the Committee be as follows:—

  1. 1. "Ten shipowners to be nominated as follows: one by the Council of the 'Chamber of Shipping,' two by the Steam and Sailing Shipowners' Associations of Liverpool, and one each by the Shipowners' Associations of London, Glasgow, Leith, North-East Coast of England, Hull, Bristol, Channel Ports, and Ireland.
  2. 2. Three members to be nominated by the Councils of the 'Institute of Naval Architects,' the 'Institution of Shipbuilders and Engineers,' Glasgow, and the Institution of Shipbuilders and Engineers,' Newcastle-on-Tyne, respectively.
  3. 1432
  4. 3. Three persons to be nominated by the 'Local Marine Boards' of the United Kingdom practically acquainted with the navigation of merchant vessels.
  5. 4. Three persons to be nominated by 'Seamen's Societies' recognized by the President of the Board of Trade for this purpose, being or having been able-bodied seamen.
  6. 5. Two persons to be nominated by the 'Committee of Lloyd's Register' and the Committee of the Institute of London Underwriters.'"—(The Earl of Ravensworth.)


said, that neither the Schedule in the Bill nor that which the noble Earl proposed to substitute for it would fully meet the views of all the shipowners in the Three Kingdoms. For instance, he had received adverse remarks on the noble Earl's Amendment from Belfast, which port claimed to have representation, inasmuch as it contributed 50 per cent more than Glasgow or Bristol. Of the 27 members of the Consultative Council formed under the proposal of the noble Earl, 19 would be representative of shipowners only, and he asked their Lordships to consider how the master mariners, under writers, seamen, and other important interests were likely to fare with such a majority against them. This Bill was really a very small one, and the objects at which it aimed were not very large. In fact, it would only seriously affect 1,165 out of the 37,552 vessels on the British register. He was afraid, therefore, that the noble Earl was forging a Nasmyth hammer to crack a nut. The Government honestly desired to meet the views of the shipowners, and as far as they could to accept the principle that those who understood the subject should advise the Board of Trade in reference to the saving of life at sea. He would ask their Lordships to adhere to the Schedule in the Bill, though he was willing to accept any six names to represent the shipowners and builders, upon which all the interests affected could agree.


thought that if neither the system of election proposed in the Bill nor that in the Amendment would give satisfaction to the shipowners, it would be better to have no advising council at all, but to leave the Board of Trade free to obtain the best opinions it could in each case. Nothing justified the establishment of a Consultative Committee, at all but the hope of making it a representative body, which shipowners generally would recognize; otherwise it was only mischievous, as dividing responsibility.


said, the ships chiefly affected by the Bill included the magnificent vessels belonging to the great lines of passenger steamers. The noble Earl had met him to a certain extent, and, indeed, to such an extent that he should hardly be justified in putting their Lordships to the trouble of a Division. At the same time he could not help thinking that the plan for appointing the Council laid down in the Bill was a very halting and unsatisfactory one.

Amendment negatived; First Schedule agreed to.


Matters for which the Rules are to provide.


in moving an Amendment in the 2nd clause of the Second Schedule, said, the Schedule dealt with "matters for which the rules are to provide," and the 2nd clause was— The number and description of the boats, life-boats, life-rafts, life-jackets, and life buoys to be carried by British ships, according to the class in which they are arranged, and the methods to be provided to get the boats and other life-saving appliances into the water. The Amendment was to insert, after the word "arranged," the words— And the mode of their construction, also the equipments to be carried by the boats and rafts. The best method of saving lives was to prevent ships from sinking, and when shipowners made proper provision in the way of construction, water-tight compartments and bulkheads, he proposed that the Consultative Committee should have power to take this into consideration in mitigation of the obligations which they would otherwise apply. The second part of the Amendment was intended to meet the views of the noble Lord who had an Amendment to allow regulations to be made as to what should be carried in boats in the way of life-saving apparatus.

Amendment moved, In Second Schedule, page 5, line 1, after ("arranged") insert ("and the mode of their construction, also the equipments to be carried by the boats and rafts.")—(The Earl of Onslow.)


said, this was a good Amendment, because it did justice to the immense improvements which were constantly being made in shipbuilding. The Amendment would only affect a certain class, but that the very best class of ships.

Amendment agreed to.


in moving to add at the end after the word "buoys" the words— And also a sufficient quantity of oil for use in stormy weather, according to the size and tonnage of ships or boats, said, that he felt deeply interested in the welfare of the British seaman, although he was not personally connected with either the Navy or the Mercantile Service. With the Mercantile Service he had never in any way been connected, but he had always had personal interests in the Royal Navy, and for three generations members of his family had flown their flags as Admirals in that Service. Their Lordships would remember that in 1882 this subject was brought before the House. A Return had, at his instance, been kindly produced by his noble Friend the Vice President of the Board of Trade, of the experiments which had been made and which appeared to have met with a considerable measure of success. The use of oil had in many instances been instrumental in saving life in tempestuous weather, and he thought that no ship should go to sea without carrying a certain quantity as part of her equipment. The subject had been taken up by the National Lifeboat Institution, and the result of their inquiries had recently been published in their journal. Reports were given in that journal by captains of ships who had succeeded in many instances in saving their vessels from shipwreck by the use of oil. Mr. T. A. Cregan wrote to The Glasgow Herald an account of a most effectual experiment during a heavy gale in the Bay of Biscay. A quart of oil in two canvas bags punctured with small holes proved so efficacious that scarcely a sea came on board, each wave as it reached the oil ceasing to lash and undulating past the ship without a break. Captain James Forman, of the ship Airlie, of Dundee, described the effect of the oil as "magical," and stated that but for its application he should certainly have lost all his boats. Captain Lashbrooke, master of the ketch Elizabeth, of Bade, gave similar testimony of his experience of this remedy during a storm on December 13, 1882, and the captain of the steamship Stanmore, which arrived at New York on September 21, 1882, ascribed his safety during terrible weather to his having towed a bag of oil, which slightly escaped, when the ship was running before the wind. Having shown the advantage of the use of oil as a life-saving appliance in stormy weather, he urged that no ship should put to sea without a supply of that article, and that oil should be included in the Schedule to that Bill. He ought to refer to an interesting Report on that subject made by Captain Chetwynd, R.N., who was specially engaged by the Life Boat Society to investigate and report on the use of oil in stormy weather, in which he said that the result of the experiments made had been to show that there was little difference in the effect produced by the various oils of ordinary everyday use, such as colza, linseed, fish or seal oil. In some cases paraffin was used with the same effect. Very small quantities of oil had been found sufficient to cover a considerable space with the smooth, glassy surface characteristic of oil on water. He therefore asked that it should be made compulsory on all shipowners to supply their vessels with oil as with other life-saving appliances. He hoped that none of their Lordships would ever experience the hazards and terrors of shipwreck; but were such a misfortune to happen to any of them, and they should be exposed to a tempest threatening the existence of the ship, he thought they would then be happy to avail themselves of the use of oil if any could be found on board. And if the master of the ship were in the emergency to offer them a boat which could not live in the sea while the passengers were getting on board of it, or a life-raft which would expose the occupants to the danger of being washed overboard, or a life-jacket to put on, or a life-buoy to cling to, he thought that a passenger would much prefer that the master should provide an oil bag or two to calm the surface of the water so as to enable boats to be safely launched and used for saving the passengers. Yet he regretted to say his noble Friend who had charge of that Bill hesitated to require that oil should be enumerated among the necessary life-saving appliances in the Schedule to the measure. The noble Lord moved the Amendment standing in his name. Moved, in Schedule 2, page 5, line 6, after ("boats, life-boats, life-rafts, life-jackets, and life-buoys") add ("and also a sufficient quantity of oil for use in stormy weather, according to the size and tonnage of ships or boats.")—(The Lord Cottesloe.)


said, with regard to an experiment at Folkestone, by which oil was forced through a pipe from below to the surface of the water, it was found that the experiment was not so successful as some persons had been at first inclined to imagine. Oil forced up from below was not so efficacious as when poured on the surface of the water. An interesting experiment was tried in 1886 on the Royal Yacht Osborne, anchored at Carrickfergus. The Prince and Princess of Wales were on board and were anxious to land. A heavy sea was rolling at the time, and great anxiety was felt as to how the Princess could be conveyed ashore, because there was not enough water for the yacht to cross the Bar. The chief engineer then suggested that oil should be made use of for the purpose of smoothing the water alongside the yacht. A preliminary experiment was made, and the effect of the oil in breaking the waves was found to be so great that it was decided to carry the experiment further. When the Princess of Wales left the yacht a steam cutter was sent ahead to distribute the contents of bags of oil from the small holes in each bag. The desired effect was attained. No broken water and no sea came into the boat. It was announced as the conviction at that time that the development of oil pouring on water could not fail to be of immense advantage, especially in the case of lifeboats. So satisfied were the Admiralty of the importance of using oil in certain circumstances that they had issued a Memorandum for the information of officers in general on the use of oil at sea, and for modifying and breaking the effect of the waves. The manner in which the oil could be used was pointed out, and the cases in which it could be employed with advantage were also referred to. There could be no doubt that under certain conditions the use of oil at sea was of the greatest possible advantage. He did not know what the decision of the Board of Trade might be, but the Admiralty did not propose to issue any instructions to commanders on the subject. They felt satisfied, after calling the attention of officers to the use of oil by the Memorandum previously referred to, that it would be better to leave officers to exercise their own judgment according to the circumstances.


said, he thought their Lordships must be indebted to the noble Lord for having brought this interesting subject before the House. He should have been glad to meet the views of the noble Lord and to advise their Lordships to accept the Amendment in its entirety were it not for the difficulty of mentioning one article alone and excluding others. Since this Bill had been brought forward he had received models and inventions of a great many useful appliances; in fact, his room was more like a section of the Inventions Exhibition than a gentleman's study. Those persons would feel aggrieved if any particular article was mentioned specifically in the Schedule. He was quite prepared to bring up words on Report and to leave it to the Committee which would have to decide as to the equipments to be carried by boats, and also the appliances to be carried by ships, to say whether they would include oil. He hoped that when the noble Lord saw the words on Report they would meet his views.

Amendment negatived; Schedule agreed to.

The Report of Amendments to be received on Friday next; and Bill to be printed as amended. (No. 96.)