HL Deb 07 May 1888 vol 325 cc1427-30

(The Earl of Onslow.)


House in Committee (according to Order).

Clause 1 (Duty to carry boats and other appliances for saving life).

On the Motion of the Earl of ONSLOW,

Amendment made, in page 1, line 10, by leaving out from ("all persons") to to the end of the clause and inserting ("her crew and passengers"). Moved, at end of clause add ("ships surveyed by the Board of Trade as passenger steamers, or passenger ships in the foreign trade, being always considered a distinct class requiring special provision of boats, rafts, or other ap- pliances for saving life in case of danger, in accordance with rules from time to time, without which no certificate shall be granted them.")—(Lord Norton.)


said, he sympathized with the desire of the noble Lord that ships carrying passengers should be better provided with boats than those engaged in the ordinary carrying trade. The whole object of the Bill was to see that means were provided for saving life at sea according to the nature of the service in which the ship was employed. He could not consent to an Amendment making but two classes of ships. The noble Lord might safely leave it to the Board of Trade and the Committee to see that the different classes of ships were properly provided with life-saving apparatus, and carried in accordance with the nature of the service to be performed.

Amendment negatived.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 2 (Appointment of consultative committee for framing rules) agreed to.

Clause 3 (Power to make rules as to life-saving appliances).


in proposing an Amendment providing that the Board of Trade, "on the advice of the Committee aforesaid," might from time to time make, rescind, and vary rules with respect to all or any of the matters mentioned in the second schedule of the Act, said it appeared to him to be a most extraordinary thing that the Board of Trade should take the trouble to form a Consultative Committee to advise it in the framing of rules having the force of "law," and at the same time take the power of making, rescinding, and varying rules, without giving any reason whatever. It might be urged that his Amendment ought to be rejected because it interfered with the responsibility of the Department. In this connexion he drew attention to what he described as a curious circular recently issued by the Board of Trade referring to his Amendment. He thought the circular was illustrative of the system which was carried on at the Board of Trade. He did not wish to make any attack on the Department, but merely to show what the system was and to what extent the responsibility was borne. The circular was dated May 2, and was signed by Mr. Gray. It asked the various shipping bodies throughout the country whether they had any observations to offer upon the Amendment which he had just moved, and that, if so, the Department would be glad to receive them. When he read that circular, it occurred to him to ask the question, "Where is the responsibility of the Board of Trade?" Did it rest with the distinguished statesman in "another place," or did it rest with the permanent public servants who sat in Whitehall? He thought it was clear on the face of the Bill that the Board of Trade felt the weight of the responsibility which rested upon it. Let their Lordships consider what the Board of Trade was called upon to do. It now regulated the mightiest interests in this country, and necessarily from day to day it found itself in the discharge of its duty face to face with the ablest men in the country—the managers of great industries. Those men, knowing their own business infinitely better than any President of the Board of Trade and all his staff put together, might naturally feel that friction was being created when they were interfered with by frivolous regulations. The noble Lord concluded by moving the Amendment of which he had given Notice.

Moved, in page 1, line 23, after ("Trade") insert ("on the advice of the committee aforesaid.")—(The Earl of Ravensworth.)


said, he regretted very much that it was quite out of his power to accept the Amendment of the noble Earl, which was not merely a small Amendment in a small Bill, but involved a departure from established Constitutional practice and proposed alterations in Parliamentary procedure which the Government could not agree to. The effect of the Amendment would be to shield the President of the Board of Trade from all responsibility to Parliament and the country for these rules. The noble Lord had thought fit to make a rather severe onslaught upon the officials of the Board of Trade in respect of a circular which had been issued on behalf of the Board. In issuing that circular the officials of the Board of Trade were anxious that those who were interested in this question should give an opinion upon the Amendment of the noble Earl. As far as responsibility was concerned, that circular had been sent out on his own suggestion, and with the full approbation of the President of the Board of Trade. If the Amendment of the noble Earl were adopted, the power of the President of the Board of Trade to rescind or to vary the rules would be taken away, and it would, therefore, be impossible to make any alterations in them. He therefore hoped that the House would not adopt the Amendment of the noble Earl.


said, he hoped that it would be thoroughly understood that he had no desire whatever to make an attack upon the Board of Trade officials.

Amendment negatived.


said, he wished to enter his protest against the rules, which would have to lie upon the Table for a certain time, being laid upon the Table in a dummy form.


said, that, as no time would be gained by laying the rules upon the Table in such a form, it was not likely that such a course would be taken.


said, that the laying of dummy rules upon the Table was clearly not a compliance with the requirements of the Act.


said, he coincided with the view taken by the Lord Chancellor on the matter.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 4 (Penalty for breach of rules).

On the Motion of The Earl of ONSLOW, Amendment made, in page 2, line 7, by leaving out ("to sea") and inserting ("on any voyage or excursion").

Clause (as amended) agreed to.

Clause 5 (Provisions for enforcing rules) agreed to.

On the Motion of The Earl of ONSLOW, the following new Clause was inserted, after Clause 5:— (Saving as to sea-fishing boats.) The rules made under this Act shall not apply to any sea-fishing boat which is for the time being registered in pursuance of the Sea Fisheries Act, 1868. Clauses 6, 7, and 8 agreed to.

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