HL Deb 15 June 1891 vol 354 cc388-9

Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.


My Lords, this is a Bill which has been before Parliament for some time. It is introduced in consequence of certain negotiations which have taken place with France and Belgium. The former Treaty with reference to mail ships was concluded entirely with the view to the Channel passage, and I think as far back as 1856, very little thought was given, at all events, to other countries. But as communication with other coun- tries grew more rapid the immunities claimed under the existing' Treaties became very burdensome to the Colonies. The Crown Colonies resisted the immunities very strongly. They were immunities almost as great as those afforded to ships of war, and the self-governing colonies would only pass temporary Acts, giving fair notice that they would not be content unless we came to some different arrangements. There was nothing, therefore, left but to denounce the Treaties, and they have accordingly been denounced. We have concluded the Treaty which is before your Lordships' House, and is of much more modest dimensions. The only privilege now reserved to mail ships in ports to which they do not belong are the privileges which are necessary to despatch. The effect of them is that the ship itself shall not be detained on account of any question; with regard to any person charged on board of her she may be detained for one hour in order that the Consul may be sent for, and a joint bond is to be entered into by her owners which will enable any damages properly recoverable against her to be recovered without detaining her in port. But with those two exceptions, the former privileges are not renewed, it having been found impossible to obtain the consent of the Colonies to any such renewal. I beg to move that the Bill be read a second time.

Bill read 2a (according to order), and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Monday next.

House adjourned at ten minutes past Five o'clock, till To-morrow, a quarter past Ten o'clock.