THE EARL OF MILLTOWN
My Lords, this is an extremely short and simple Act, but it is one of considerable importance to our sea-faring population and to the men who man our lifeboats around our storm beaten coasts. By the Act of 1877, which it is proposed to amend. provision is made for the removal of wrecks from harbours and 1350 fairways, which are an obstruction to navigation. It has been held, however, that the Act does not apply to the removal of such wrecks as are an obstruction to the lifeboats in their progress to save life and property. The proposal in this Bill is shortly to apply the Act to the latter class of cases as well as to the former. To show that the danger is no imaginary one, I will read to your Lordships a short statement of what took place a few years ago:—On the 21st of July, 1886, the crew of the Caistor lifeboat, hearing signals of distress, in order to save time, went out in a yawl. They had proceeded two miles when the yawl struck on a sunken wreck, and out of the crew of 15 men. 8 poor fellows were drowned. It was only the previous winter that these gallant men had saved the crew of the very vessel which thus caused their death.Since the year 1885, this station, with its two lifeboats, has saved 1,143 lives, and another station, Ramsgate, with its outlying sands, saved 898 lives since 1885. It is quite obvious therefore, that this danger should be at once removed from the way of these gallant men. I do not know that I need trouble your Lordships with any further observations on the Bill. It was received in another place with a unanimity which was wonderful, and it has I believe, received the assent of Her Majesty's Government.
Bill read 2a according to order.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I am not quite certain that if those who are interested in the standing Committees were present, there would not be opposition to this proposal, because there seems no reason why the Bill should go to a Committee of the whole House 1351 rather than to one of the standing Committees.
THE EARL OF MILLTOWN
I beg my noble and learned Friend's pardon: there is a reason. Dispatch is urgent in this matter. It is only during the summer months, when the days are long, and the sea is smooth, that these wrecks can be removed; and if the Bill be relegated to one of the Standing Committees, it is very problematical when it would emerge. It is really a very simple Bill, inserting two words in two clauses of the original Act, and I do not think there is any reason for its going to a Standing Committee.
§ LORD KNUTSFORD
Speaking on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, as the Bill is so simple, and the matter has been carefully gone into in the other House, I do not see any reason why it should not be considered your Lordships in Committee of the whole House.
Bill committed to a Committee of the whole House on Thursday next.