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subject to the love of man in man's done than that any particular person or heart, it was not to be forgotten thas 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

Jr. 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 whatever 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

was convinced, though the Government able to do a great deal of good work. might be exposed to taunts and criti. They could say that the men employed cisms, that, upon the whole, under the under that Act had made comparatively circumstances in which they found them- few mistakes, for his right hon. Friend selves, they exercised a wise discretion the President of the Board of Trade had -at all events an honest discretion—in stated that out of 558 merchant ships endeavouring to put off this delicate, which were stopped, 515 were found to difficult, and important legislation to the be stopped rightly, while there were next Session with the firm determination others which were still in question, and to take it up in the proper spirit at the with regard to some 50 or 60 stopped very beginning of the Session. But the for being improperly loaded, not one immediate question was with reference had been shown to have been stopped to the Bill before the House, and on improperly. Therefore, the Government that subject he could only say it was a did say with some confidence that they Bill which proposed to meet what might would entrust such men as they could be called an exigency, and as far as pos- find to carry on this business with such sible to provide for objects which had to instructions and superintendence as the be provided for at the present moment. Government could afford.

But it was It was, after all, a Bill which did not go not only to the staff of the Board of further in principle than the Acts which Trade at present that they would look ; Parliament passed a year or two ago, they would also look to others for aid. especially the Act of 1873. It followed And here he might state that they had the lines of the Act of 1873 which hon. received from Lloyd's assurances of the Gentlemen opposite had the credit of most encouraging character; that they passing, and which he believed to be a were ready to place their services at the most valuable Act. It had been shown disposal of the Government, and give by the experience of the last year or what assistance they could in carrying two to be most effective in stopping some the Act into effect. When the House kinds of mischief, and it might be more got into Committee it might be necesso as time went on, should it be taken sary to consider whether any provisions as the basis of legislation for giving should be made in order to guard against greater powers to the officers of the possible abuses of the power proposed Board of Trade. It might be said that to be given to the crew of objecting in this was entrusting great powers to irre- certain cases to go to sea. Nobody sponsible and untried men. His right wished to encourage anything in the hon. Friend when he announced that he nature of vexatious or frivolous comwould bring in this Bill made an apology plaints. Under the present law, that to the House for asking for so much was a difficulty which would have to be power.

He said his reason for asking met; and if it was thought necessary to for a temporary measure only was that introduce any words to meet the case of they were going to ask for powers which frivolous and vexatious complaints, the Parliament might have refused to grant Government would be ready to deal with to them in perpetuity. The Government the matter. With regard to other points, admitted that they were assuming a he felt quite sure that the spirit which very great responsibility, and that the had animated the House in the discusPresident of the Board of Trade and sion which had been held would still his staff were taking on themselves a prevail. There was another subject on most difficult and important duty. But which he wished to make a remark. The they trusted to the indulgence of Par- Bill of the Government was confined to liament and of the country and to the an important, but very narrow object. assistance of those who were able to aid It related only to the power to stop unthem in this task which they had thought seaworthy ships going out of this counit right to undertake. If the Govern- try. Still

, that went a good way, bement were asked how far those who cause by the term "unseaworthy ships” might be employed would be competent they did not mean ships only which had for the duty to be entrusted to them, leaks or were of very bad materials ; they might, at all events, point to the the words would apply to cases of oversuccess which had so far attended the loading or improper loading. Thereworking of the Act of 1873, and to the fore, in respect to deck cargoes, as fact that the men employed had been regarded ships going out from this

a

he not been Secretary to the Board of | remind the House that that hon. MemTrade when the Acts of 1871, 1872, and ber had, at a trades union meeting in 1873 were passed, which the right hon. the country, stated that he felt satisfied Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exche- with the action of the Board of Trade quer now proposed to supplement by in stopping vessels which had been overthis temporary measure. He agreed loaded. The hon. Member claimed that with almost everything which had been there had been a wonderful decrease in said by the right hon. Gentleman, and, overloading since he had taken the indeed, he should have found it difficult matter in hand, and he certainly was to disagree, because the speech of the entitled to make that observation. He right hon. Gentleman was couched in (Mr. A. Peel) hoped the Bill would be such general terms that he did not see read a second time; but he also thought the immediate application of it to the some of the Amendments upon the question now before the House. It was Notice Paper might be usefully introtrue that the right hon. Gentleman said duced. The mere duration of the Act the root of the evil was insurance; but for a year was in itself no answer to they had agreed to defer that question the complaints of the shipping interest : until next Session, and they had now to but the evils were admitted, and he deal with a specific remedy for a specific thought the Government might even evil. He regretted that they were driven go further than they had ventured to into a corner by the action of the Go- do. In regard to deck cargoes and vernment, and had not sufficient elbow- the Act of 1839, the Chancellor of the room to go into the question fairly, as Exchequer had not stated that it was they might have done if the original only passed for a year, and that it was Bill of the Government had been pro- made permanent in 1840.

This Bill ceeded with, for they might have intro- was to meet an emergency. They would duced Amendments which would have not probably come together again till made it a satisfactory measure, and the winter was well through, and withshould not have run the risk which out harassing the shipping interest, he they had since incurred by dealing with thought it would be possible, following a vital and important question in a the course taken in 1839, to pass a state of excitement which was not con- stringent measure which would have the ducive to its proper settlement. He effect of preventing during the winter wished to remind the House that the the acknowledged evils at present arising Act of 1873, which repealed former Acts in the North Atlantic, especially from and provisions, was an important one, as deck cargoes. He did not wish to speak it comprised provisions dealing with without book on the question ; but, in nearly everything which could be found the Appendix to the Report of the Royal wrong in a ship, and amongst other Commission the evidence of Mr. Fry, things it enabled seamen on a charge of whose experience of the North Atlantic desertion to obtain compensation for any trade extended over 30 years, was unnecessary detention, and it gave the quoted, to the effect that during the Board of Trade power to stop ships for season of 1872, 62 large vessels sailing a variety of reasons, amongst them being between the St. Lawrence and Great over or improper loading. A weak point, Britain were totally lost, and he said he however, was found in that Act. The was convinced that fully three-fourths Board of Trade had to act through the re- of the losses of wood-laden ships in the port of a surveyor, who was not competent North Atlantic trade were owing, directly to stop a ship, and the consequence was or indirectly, to the practice of carrying that it frequently incurred odium, if not deck cargoes. He did not wish to shut ridicule, because in the interval between his eyes to the difficulties of legislating a report being sent by the surveyor and for deck loads, and there was much force an order being made to stop the vessel in the inquiry of the right hon. Gentleto which it referred, the ship had sailed. man as to how they could punish a man The Government in proposing to remedy whose ship had arrived in safety. But, that defect had done a very good work. knowing that great loss of life did result He was much gratified at the tone of the from the practice, it would be right to speech of the hon. Member for Derby insist upon proper precautions. He (Mr. Plimsoll) towards the Bill, but he thought, therefore, they could legislate expected nothing else, for he would now to prevent deck loading, if they

Mr. A. Peel

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