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House seemed like a steam-engine with-of 1839, as to the crews being reduced out a governor. The Bill would entrust to the necessity of existing on the reextraordinary powers to men utterly irre- mains of their comrades, had occurred. sponsible, who would have to some ex. This measure was re-enacted and extent to work in the dark, or on inaccu- tended in 1853, but then came a change rate information-sometimes, perhaps, to which it was necessary to refer. In capriciously. If, however, the Amend- or about 1847 a powerful agitation prements of his hon. Friend were adopted, vailed to break down monopoly in the the officers in question would know interests of the public. A great number exactly what they were doing, and would of persons became so enamoured of Free exercise their enormous powers with Trade and freedom of commerce that in wisdom and discretion. It was very the course they had adopted they disredesirable that the gentlemen for that garded the spirit of those who had orihighly responsible position should be ginated the agitation and clung to the first-class

men, and they should be latter merely, and, under the name of selected with the utmost discrimination, Free Trade, allowed merchants and shipand should exercise their powers with owners to do as they liked-forgetful of the utmost caution. They should be the objects of those who had first advogentlemen of position who would hold cated Free Trade and to the changes their own against the shipowners, and which had since proved so beneficial. It not such persons as many of the present was in no unkind spirit that he referred surveyors, people of no weight in the to the course taken by the right hon. ports, and who had no authority over Gentleman the Member for Birmingthe shipowners, and who were some- ham in opposing the Factory Acts when times carried off to sea and put on a they were first brought before that boat in mid-ocean to find their way home House. The right hon. Gentleman, howas best they could. He was encouraged ever, was a statesman and possessed to hope the proper men would be ap- large sympathies, and was not ashamed pointed by the names which were on the subsequently to avow that he had been back of the Bill, for he noticed with mistaken in adopting that course. But great pleasure that the Premier and the there were other smaller men of shalChancellor of the Exchequer were jointly lower capacity who were not so easily sponsors with the right hon. Gentleman impressed by the circumstances, and one at the head of the Board of Trade for of those unfortunately acquired considerthe measure. It would be necessary able power in one of the administrative that he should, with the leave of the Departments of the Government; and House, make a few remarks as to the in 1862 the legislation, the effects of present position of the Mercantile Marine. which he had described, was swept away It had not always been what it was now. without notice to the public. He had It was in a very bad position in 1839 turned to the debates upon the subject, and the previous years. In the year he and he found, that with the exception had named, however, a Select Commit- of a word or two uttered by the then tee was appointed to inquire, and they President of the Board of Trade in the found the state of things so bad that on House of Commons, on leave to bring their Report a Bill was brought in by in a Bill, no word of reference was made the Government and passed into an Act to such a vital change in the law. Yet the same Session to remedy certain evils he might say, without exaggeration, that connected with the Mercantile Marine. it might be computed that nearly 20,000 That Act was passed for one year, and of Her Majesty's subjects had been was re-enacted in 1840. It was again drowned in consequence of that night's re-enacted in 1843, after inquiry by a work in the House, when a Schedule Royal Commission. In both cases it of the Act passed in silence, and, prowas found that the losses were less than hably, nearly £30,000,000 of property in previous years, more especially as re- had gone to the bottom of the sea. garded timber-laden ships, where the He could not trust himself to speak of number of the losses was reduced from that in any terms whatever at that mo56 to 23, with the saving of 200 lives ment. In the Autumn of 1872, in Monof seamen. In no one instance was it treal, there was a law passed prohibiting found that any of those horrible cases the loading of grain in bulk, but the stated in the Report of the Committee penalty for infringing that was only

Mr Plimsoll

$40. Several large steamers thus loaded words of the clauses in the old Act, went to sea, and all were lost. In which would give them firm ground the early part of 1873 the Minister of under their feet. Now, as to the survey Marine brought into the House of Com- of unclassed ships. It might be enlarged mons there a Bill, by which the penalty a little, as the Bill was only for 12 was raised to $800, and ships were ab- months, with great advantage, he solutely prohibited from sailing in that thought. In Lloyd's List there were condition, and the consequence had been 15,000 ships, of which 7,000 were unthat in the last two winters not one grain classed, and 2,654 of the unclassed ships laden ship from Montreal had come to had forfeited their class for lack of regrief, and not one either from that port pairs. He would ask the Government laden with timber. Shortly after similar to take power, at any rate, to survey action was taken by Boston and New them during the 12 months. Was there York, and from those two ports not one any reason whatever to suppose that the vessel was reported missing during the hidden history of ships was different winters of 1873 and 1874. What he now from what it was years ago? What would ask the House to do with the Bill was the state of things in former times ? was to restore that salutary law, and to From a Parliamentary Blue Book, which put them back into the position in which could not be called sensational, he found it was shown that legislation saved nearly that in a ship called the Lucy, after 19 two-thirds of the losses which then days' privation, only two of the crew afflicted the country. Before concluding were left alive. In another case the what he had to say upon this point, he crew were left without water or proviwould point out that the extra cost to sions until reduced to the necessity of the shippers from loading grain cargoes sacrificing four of their number by lot in bags instead of in bulk was only 6d. for the preservation of the rest. In the per quarter, subject to a reduction by Earl of Kellie the second mate and two the sale of the bags on arrival. Themen were reported to be starved to Bill which had been introduced by the death ; and in the Caledonia, two who Government was intended to endure for were reported to be near death had their one year only, and he thought, therefore, throats cut for the sake of their blood. that it might be safely supplemented by In another, four bodies were found the Amendments which would be pro- under the maintop all dead, with part of posed by the hon. Member for Pem. one of their comrades hung up, as if in broke, which were necessary to prevent a butcher's shop. In the Anna Maria, overloading, which was recognized as part of the leg of a woman was found, being a serious source of loss. The ex- which had evidently served the crew for perience of the Indian Government on food. Probably, while he was addressthe point was most valuable, as it showed ing the House, similar scenes of horror that where a freeboard of three inches and suffering were occurring. On the for every foot of immersion was re- whole, he thought that he had made quired, out of 200 ships per annum em out his case, and had shown the necesployed, there had been only a loss of sity which existed for fresh legislation two, which had been destroyed by fire. on this subject, and for the adoption of It would be necessary to have a load the additional clauses which would be line introduced into the Bill, for this proposed to be added by the hon. Memreason that though the surveyors ber for Pembroke to the Government might prevent ships from going from Bill in Committee. Before the lapse their own ports in an improper position, of the ensuing year, he was satisfied they could not do so when loading that the House would be in possesabroad. Since so much attention had sion of such evidence on the subject been paid to this matter, the loss of out- as would make them grieve that the ward-bound ships had much decreased, question had not been more effectually whilst the losses of homeward-bound dealt with years and years ago. He vessels had much increased. Many of would repeat that such scenes as he had them came with such a cargo across the alluded to were going on now, probably Bay of Biscay that the wonder was how at that very moment; and he asked the they got home at all. That fact simpli- House to stop them. By doing so, they fied the action of the House very much, would stop an enormous loss of life; and because it could adopt the identical while he would rather appeal on this subject to the love of man in man's done than that any particular person or heart, it was not to be forgotten that it party should have the credit of it. No was a question involving also the safety one could deny that the hon. Member, of millions of property. In conclusion, by the energy and ability with which he he would ask the House to put down had pressed this matter for some years their foot firmly upon any attempt to upon the public, had done much to bring kill the proposals of the Government it into the prominence which it now ocby talking against time. [Ministerial cupied; and whatever might be the Cheers.] The shipowners had known, ultimate legislation on the subject, and more or less, that the state of things by whomsoever the Bill might have been he had attempted to describe had framed, the name of the hon. Gentleall the while existed, but they had man would be inseparably associated never opened their mouths to ask for with that legislation. But it must be any legislation on the subject. No remembered that this was a question sooner, however, was legislation at- upon which there was no real difference tempted-he spoke in general terms-of opinion as to the objects to be atthan they invariably talked the remedial tained, and, moreover, that whatever proposals to death, with the view of ob- had been the exertions and services of structing any reform. [“ No, no !"]the hon. Member for Derby, he had Was not that true? [“No, no!”] He neither been the only one, nor the first said, and maintained, that it was true; who had laboured in the same cause. but he would not enlarge upon the point, The hon. Member had himself recalled for the cheer which had been raised to their memory the course of inquiry satisfied him that the House was in no and legislation on this matter which had temper to tolerate conduct of that kind. distinguished the last 30 or 40 years, He would say no more, but merely thank and while he was referring to the Comthe House for the attention with which mittee of 1843, he (the Chancellor of they had listened to him.

the Exchequer) could not help rememTHE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHE- bering that his first official work had QUER observed that whatever might been to prepare an analysis of Reports of already have been the merits of the hon. the evidence placed before that comMember for Derby (Mr. Plimsoll) in the mittee, for the use of his right hon. eyes of his countrymen, it might fairly Friend the Member for Greenwich, who be said that he had added to his claims was at the time Vice President of the upon their gratitude by the manner in Board of Trade. He could well rewhich he had conducted himself, not member also the interest which the Reonly in his speech on the present occa- port of that Committee excited. The sion, but throughout the whole of the hon. Gentleman was quite right in saydiscussions in the course of the Session ing that the evidence brought forward on the subject of Merchant Shipping. on that occasion produced a great imInstead of striving to thrust himself or pression, and that it led to legislation. his own measure before the notice of the It led to a valuable Report, and it led to House and occupying time unnecessarily legislation founded on that Report. by an exposition of his views, he had | Indeed, almost, if not quite, every reever been ready, when he could, to give commendation of that Committee was way to the proposals of others, so that, ultimately adopted, and now formed whether it was by one hand or by an- part of the legislation of this country. other, the great object to which he had Examinations of masters and mates, a devoted himself might be forwarded. new system of inquiry into losses by The hon. Member was deserving of wreck, the establishment of sailors' gratitude, not only for the services he homes—these and a large number of had rendered in connection with the other matters which were then brought proposals before the House, but also for for the first time under the notice of the example he had set of the spirit in Parliament had been carried into effect. which they ought all to proceed, and of From time to time since then there had the truth which he (the Chancellor of been improvements made by legislation the Exchequer) thought ought to be im- in the means of preserving life at sea, pressed upon the minds of all public and in the condition of the Merchant men—that they should all be more Shipping generally. The question of anxious that the right thing should be overloading, which so very much inte

Mr. Plimsoll

rested the hon. Member for Derby, had surveyed, which were in a sound condibeen frequently under consideration, tion, and which either were classed or and his noble Friend (Lord Hampton), stood so high that if classed they would then a Member of that House, took a rank among

the
very

best. There was, very deep interest in it. If he mistook he repeated, a very large proportion of not, the hon. Member for Derby and human life which was necessarily exLord Hampton had been in communica- posed to danger at sea, and much loss of tion on this subject at a very early date. life unfortunately occurred from causes The subject was, as he had said, one on with which, as he had said, legislation which they were all agreed, and their was powerless to deal. But, neverthedesire was to provide proper remedies. less, there were matters with which They also admitted that there did exist legislation had dealt, and might deal, --in spite of all that had been done-in and no doubt the actual condition spite of all their exertions, Royal Com- of ships, (the soundness of their mamissions, and Acts of Parliament-in terials, the correctness of their conspite also of all the efforts of the admi- struction, and the circumstances in which nistrative Departments-he said they they were allowed to put to sea in regard admitted that there did exist many evils to equipment, loading, &c., were points which it was most desirable they should which Parliament might very properly attempt to remedy. He would not go take up. But deal with them how they into questions of statistics. He had might-deal with them by any system heard statements—which, perhaps, were of rules which might be embodied in an somewhat exaggerated-as to the loss of Act of Parliament, or by any powers life which occurred. Very wide figures which might be entrusted to a Departhad been mentioned, and it might be ment—they might depend upon it that possible to show that they were not at something more was necessary in order all accurate. But the fact was he had to meet the difficulties of each and every lived too long among statistics to attach case. If they relied upon the words of the value to them which some people an Act of Parliament, they would leave were disposed to do, and whether the themselves open to very great mischiefs figure was 5,000 or 6,000, or whether it which they might think they had prewas 2,000—which was, perhaps, the vented, but which they would not be more accurate calculation-if there was able to prevent. The only way in which any considerable number of our fellow- they could really hope to deal effectually subjects who lost their lives from causes with these matters was by evoking the which it was in the power of Parliament aid of the owners of ships and those to prevent, it was their duty to exert | who had the management and control of themselves to find a remedy to save them. No doubt, they must be watched those lives, no matter what the numbers by a proper Department, and whaterer might be, and not to relax their efforts Parliament could advantageously do by till they had done whatever it was pos- means of legislation they ought to do; sible for them to do. They had to con- but whatever they did, they must take sider, of course, how far the causes care not to weaken the responsibility of which undoubtedly did conduce to this the persons to whom he had referred. melancholy state of things were re- Now, the object of the Government in movable, and how far, especially, they the Bill which was introduced at the were removable by legislation. A very beginning of the present Session was to large proportion of the loss of life at improve the provisions of the law for sea arose, as they were well aware, from the purpose of enforcing the responsicauses which could not be touched by bility of the shipowners, and for the any legislation of the character proposed purpose of aiding in the work which by the hon. Member or by any of the they did. But when they came to deal Amendments which had been put on the with a question of this sort it was found Paper with reference to the present

Bill. to be very complicated and difficult. It They talked of the classification of ships, required to be approached with ample of the survey of ships, of overloading, knowledge-it required to be approached of grain cargoes in bulk, and so forth; with temper, with time, and with patience. but a very large proportion of the lives In this, above all other questions, time that were lost were the lives of passengers must be given for a full development of conveyed in ships which had been well the views of all persons concerned, and for a fair representation of the conse-| long as we attempted to deal with this quences which must result from the pro- matter provisionally, and only by legisposed legislation. No doubt, it had lation, we were trying to regulate a been a great advantage to the Govern- great business by discussions in this ment in framing the Bill to have the House conducted by persons, a very small assistance of the valuable Report of the minority of whom alone had a practical Royal Commission by which this subject acquaintance with the subject-persons had been considered. But no Report of who could not avoid being influenced by a Royal Commission could take the place feelings most honourable, most humane, of discussions in Parliament. A Report and most creditable, but which interof a Royal Commission could not be fered with calmness of judgment, and challenged in the same way as the clauses who might be disposed to look with susof a Bill, which put the recommenda- picion upon objections taken by those tions into a practical shape, which were who understood the subject, as if they examined by all the persons whom they were prompted by interested motives in affected, and in discussing which it raising them, but who, at the same might appear that unexpected conse- time, might be perfectly incapable of quences would flow from the legislation, doing anything wrong. It was exceedand that difficulties not before appre- ingly probable that in such a case Parciated had to be overcome. He was liament might be betrayed into laying bound to say-speaking entirely from down regulations not only of an insuffithe impression made upon his own mind cient character, but the very insufficiency

—that the difficulties of the task had of which might lead to mischief in grown on him as the discussion of the another direction. It should be rememsubject proceeded in the House. And bered that this was a business carried on not only was that so, but also the neces- in keen competition with foreigners; a sity was brought home to him of going business of the highest national interest a little further in one particular direc- and importance; and a business in tion than the Bill of the Government which, if a man knew he was stopped proposed to do. That particular direc- from doing something which he believed tion in which he saw that discussion he might safely have done, he would be showed they would have to proceed in under a great temptation to do somethe future was in the direction of deal- thing else which he knew to be daning with the great question of insurance. gerous, but which Parliament had not yet We might do what we would in the way found out, so as by law to prohibit. If, for of enforcing penalties, but by legisla- instance, Parliament said, “Such shall be tion, depend upon it, we should not get the mode of loading,” but had omitted to at the motives of the shipowners—at the notice something else which it could not be motives of those who were sometimes expected to find out, would not the shipexposed to temptations, though some-owner naturally say—“Oh, if Parliatimes they might have acted from care- ment has not found out this, there is lessness. The aim of Parliament, there- less objection to my doing it; for I am fore, should be in every possible way to free to do what I know to be for my own strengthen the interest of shipowners in interest ?" Therefore, the real object taking care of their ships and their sea- of Parliament should be, if possible, to men. Of course, the shipowners of Eng-get at the motive of the shipowner, land were like the rest of their country- endeavouring to reach him through that, men, men of high feeling and generous and supplementing it by such regulaimpulses, and as a body were as anxious tions as might seem fit. But that was a as men could be for the welfare and task of the greatest delicacy and diffisafety of the crews whom it was their culty, and it was one which ought not to pride to have at their command. But, be undertaken at the fag-end of a Sesat the same time, we knew they were sion with a jaded House. The more exposed to great temptations in times of ready people were to make sacrifices of pressure, and it was only too possible their time--and the House would always from time to time there might be found be anxious to make such sacrifices—the among them “black sheep," as they had more fear there was of being betrayed been called the other day-men who into something dangerous from the very brought disgrace on their occupation. anxiety and precipitancy by which they But it should be borne in inind that as were actuated. He would say, then, he

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

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