( Sir Charles Adderley, Mr. Edward Stanhope).
Committee Progress 28Th April
Bill considered in Committee.
(In the Committee.)
Clause 24 (Contribution from Mercantile Marine Fund to Training Ships).
said, that as several hon. Members were of opinion that this clause dealt very partially with the question of training ships, he should prefer to withdraw it rather than occupy any time in discussing it.
withdrew an Amendment which he had on the Paper respecting the clause.
thought that the right hon. Gentleman had exercised a wise discretion in withdrawing the clause, and, as Clause 25 had some affinity with it, he would suggest that the next clause should also be withdrawn, so that the Bill might be confined to the subject of the material of ships only. He would express a hope that, with a view to dealing by a separate measure with training ships, a small Royal Commission would be appointed to inquire during the interim into the subject of the training of seamen.
supported the suggestion for an inquiry during the ensuing Recess, and withdrew an Amendment which he had placed on the Paper with reference to the clause which, he was glad to hear, was to be withdrawn.
also withdrew an Amendment he had on the Paper, expressing his satisfaction that the clause was to be withdrawn, and a hope that the President of the Board of Trade would give an assurance that he would deal with training ships separately.
said, he had been disappointed as to the way in which the shipowners met a proposal which he made on this subject in a Circular that was sent round to them some time ago, and that it was that which had induced him to propose the clause. He hoped to meet with more encouragement another year. The question should have his attention.
Clause, by leave, withdrawn.
Certificates of Health.
Clause 25 (Expenses incurred for seamen left abroad who have been engaged without certificates of health), by leave, withdrawn.
Clause 26 (Enforcing detention of ship).
SIR CHARLES ADDERLEY moved, as an Amendment, in page 13, line 36, to leave out from "authority" to "shall," in line 37, and insert "the master of the ship and also the owner and any person who sends the ship to sea if party or privy to the offence."
thought that the words "if party or privy to the offence" had better be omitted. Such words would afford a large loophole for escape.
said, he could not accept the proposal, as he believed that the words were necessary. The penalty should not attach if there was no privity to the offence, as was possible.
Amendment agreed to.
On the Motion of Mr. T. BRASSEY, Amendment made in page 13, line 38, after "misdemeanour" by inserting "and the owner shall forfeit and pay to Her Majesty a penalty not exceeding one hundred pounds."
Other Amendments made.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 27 (Ship's managing owner or manager to be registered).
On the Motion of Sir HENRY HOLLAND, Amendment made in page 14, line 18, by leaving out from begining of line to "the ship's," in line 19, and inserting—
"the managing owner whose name is so registered shall be resident in the United Kingdom, and be either the sole owner of the ship, or, if there are two or more owners, one of those owners; and where there is no such managing owner as aforesaid there shall he so registered the name of some one person resident in the United Kingdom, who is."
SIR HENRY HOLLAND moved, as an Amendment, in page 14, line 21, to leave out from beginning of line to end of clause, and insert—
"The person whose name is for the time being so registered in pursuance of this section shall be deemed to he the managing owner within the meaning of this and any other Act relating to Merchant Shipping.
"If at the time at which the ship leaves any port in the United Kingdom the name and address of the managing owner at that time are not registered in accordance with this section, the owner of the ship, or, if there are two or more owners, each owner shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding one hundred pounds."
approved the Amendment on the ground that it enabled magistrates to inflict the penalties which might be incurred proportionately upon the several owners of ships.
hoped that the Amendment would not be accepted as it stood, because it would press hardly where there was distributed ownership. It would be very hard to make persons who were merely nominal owners liable to a penalty of £100, and it would have the effect of preventing people investing their money in ships.
considered that the Amendment was in favour of latent owners of ships. As the clause now stood, the ships might be detained and all the owners would suffer equally thereby; but the Amendment proposed the alternative of a maximum penalty of £100, and the tribunal before which the case was brought could be trusted to use common sense, and would no doubt apportion the penalty according to the real responsibility of the parties, so as to meet the justice of the case.
objected to the proposal as harsh, and observed that there were often so many joint owners that the gross penalties might in some cases exceed the value of the ship.
accepted the Amendment, as it left a discretion not exceeding a maximum.
suggested that the object would be attained by making the penalty fall upon the principal owners, but not upon the small owners as well.
said, that the difficulty would be to find out who was the principal owner; besides, there would be full power to mitigate the penalty.
observed that the Government had explained that their object was to do nothing in restraint of trade; but surely a person who had only a small interest in a ship would, when he found himself exposed to a penalty of £100, be inclined to part with such interest.
said, the effect of the Amendment would be to inflict serious damage upon small shipowners.
said, the Amendment would prove beneficial rather than otherwise to shipowners. The loss by detention would be much greater than the infliction of penalties, in many instances, of a nominal character.
said, the Government proposition, which the Committee had rejected, was far more preferable than the clause or the Amendment.
proposed to amend the Amendment by striking out the words "each owner," and inserting "any one of such owners" should be liable to a penalty not exceeding £100.
said, he would rather take the original proposition of the Government, and with that view he would move the omission of the second part of the Amendment in order to insert the following words, which were originally part of the clause, namely—"If default is made in compliance with this section the ship shall be detained until complied with."
said, he would withdraw his Amendment.
Amendment ( Mr. Wilson), by leave, withdrawn.
said, he had some doubt whether it was competent for the Committee to re-introduce a portion of a clause which the Committee had already struck out. It was not a practicable or convenient course to pursue. The hon. Member for Derby could move the omission of the latter part of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Midhurst and then propose other words.
preferred the Amendment of the hon. Baronet the Member for Midhurst as it stood to the alteration of it proposed by the hon. Member for Derby. The clause was taken from the temporary Bill of last Session; but instead of making an aggregate, pro rata, penalty of £500, it was thought better after six months' experience to leave the penalty on each owner in the discretion of the Court.
suggested that the clause should be postponed, and that on the Report the Government should reinstate the words that had been struck out.
said, he could not see that the Amendment was not in favour of the shipowner, although he had listened attentively to the arguments which had been adduced by hon. Gentlemen opposite.
thought it would be a great mistake to omit the latter portion of the Amendment. He hoped his hon. Friend opposite (Sir Henry Holland) would stick to his Amendment, and that the Government would support him.
said, the wording of the original clause of the Government was much more intelligible than the proposed Amendment.
suggested that the Amendment and the clause should both be withdrawn and another clause brought up by the Government on the Report.
expressed himself in favour of that mode of proceeding.
thought they would only get into confusion if they went to a division on some of those cross Amendments, and he frankly owned that he did not know what they were going to divide about. It seemed to him that the real point was, in what form should the penalty appear? As far as he understood, the Committee had decided against the principle of detention, and the question now was, were they to insist upon the principle of penalty? According to the existing Act, the principle was that each owner, if there were more than one, should be liable to the extent of his interest in the ship; but whether that was the best way of settling the difficulty, or whether the way proposed by the hon. Member who had moved an Amendment on the subject, was preferable, would be a question for further consideration. What he would suggest was, that the Committee should accept the Amendment, as it then stood, of the hon. Member for Midhurst, which embodied the principle of penalty, and then they could subject its terms to such revision as might be necessary, in regard to the mode of imposing the penalty, on the Report.
expressed his willingness, after the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to withdraw his Amendment to the proposed Amendment.
thought they ought not to pass a clause which they thought was wrong.
suggested that the whole clause should be postponed.
pointed out that if the Amendment of the hon. Member for Derby was withdrawn the hon. Member for Hull might then move his Amendment.
considered the clause a very good one as it stood.
Amendment ( Mr. Plimsoll) negatived.
Amendment ( Sir Henry Holland) agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 28 (Fees, salaries, and costs.)
MR. GOURLEY moved, as an Amendment, in page 14, line 32, to leave out the word "continue."
supported the Amendment, which would have the effect of keeping the fees, salaries, and costs under the supervision of Parliament.
thought it better to adhere to the clause as it stood.
On Question, That the Clause be agreed to?
said, that the Board of Trade appeared to him to be acting greatly in error in the appointment of its special officers. It seemed to be presumed by the heads of the Board that a man whose business it was to navigate or work a ship was of necessity the proper man to inspect her hull and boilers. No greater mistake could be made, and it had proved a costly one in some instances; for he remembered an action being brought against the Board of Trade in consequence of a wrong opinion given by one of its officers respecting a ship's boiler, and it was only then his incompetence was discovered. Why should they not appoint for the inspection of a ship's hull a man who understood ship-building, and for the inspection of her boilers a man who understood boilers? At present the consequence was that the most incompetent men were in places where they obtained the highest salaries, and really efficient ones were inadequately remunerated.
said, it was not the duty of the officers in question generally to inspect hulls and boilers, but to see that properly-qualified persons made the various inspections efficiently. The object had been to get the most efficient officers to represent the Board of Trade locally in different districts, and their business was to superintend everything done in their districts, and to maintain order. He had 10 such appointments to make, and had received more than 1,000 applications for them. He went very carefully through the applications, and the men he had chosen had, he believed, given general satisfaction.
said, he could assure the right hon. Gentleman that some of the Inspectors did not reflect credit on the Department; for when a man who was inspecting a ship betrayed his ignorance of the principles of construction, he became a laughing-stock.
said, the clause contemplated the appointment of a large staff of officials, many of whom would hereafter be found to be inefficient, and the whole of whom would be unnecessary if the President of the Board of Trade would recognize two or three great companies, as the hon. Member for Derby wished to do.
Question put, and agreed to.
Clause 29 (Legal proceedings in cases of offences) agreed to.
Clause 30 (Application of Act to Scotland).
THE LORD ADVOCATE moved, as an Amendment, in page 15, at end
of line 16, to insert as a separate paragraph—
"The provision with respect to a prosecution not being instituted except by or with the consent of the Board of Trade, shall not apply."
He stated that his object was to make the Bill applicable to the law of Scotland. In this country the consent of the Board of Trade would be required for a prosecution; but in Scotland the consent of the Lord Advocate would be required.
inquired whether a private individual would be able to institute a prosecution in Scotland? because if so, the Scotch shipowners would be placed in a worse position than the English shipowners.
said, his consent must be first obtained.
Amendment agreed to; words inserted.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 31 (Application of Act to Ireland) agreed to.
Clause 32 (Repeal of Acts).
On the Motion of Sir CHARLES ADDERLEY, Amendment made in page 15, line 32, by leaving out "passing," and inserting "commencement."
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Postponed clause 16 (Entry of deck cargo in official log).
said, that the clause, which had been postponed, was not of great importance, and he proposed to withdraw it.
On the Motion of Sir CHARLES ADDERLEY, the following new clauses were agreed to, and added to the Bill:—
Page 1, after Clause 2, insert the following Clause:—
"This Act shall come into operation on the first day of October 1876 (which day is in this Act referred to as the commencement of this Act)."
After Clause 23, insert the following Clause:—
(Place of investigation.)
"A formal investigation into a shipping casualty may be held at any place appointed in that behalf by the Board of Trade, and all enactments relating to the authority holding the investigation shall, for the purpose of the investigation, have effect as if the place so appointed were a place appointed for the exercise of the ordinary jurisdiction of that authority."
After Clause 31, insert the following Clause:—
(Application of Act to Isle of Man.)
"In the application of this Act to the Isle of Man,—
'Judge of a county court' shall mean the water bailiff; 'Stipendiary magistrate' shall mean a high bailiff; 'Registrar of a county court' shall mean a clerk to a deemster or a clerk to justices of the peace; 'A master of the Supreme Court of Judicature' shall mean the clerk of the rolls.'"
said, he would point out that the Merchant Shipping Act of 1854, which was referred to in the 12th clause, applied to the Channel Islands; but that in those Islands there were no County Courts, or Registrars of County Courts; and that, consequently, if the Bill was to be carried out, some special provision was necessary for the case of the Channel Islands.
promised that the point should receive attention.
SIR CHARLES ADDERLEY moved the addition to the Bill of a new clause dealing with the deck loading of timber. It provided that during the winter months a ship, British or foreign, arriving at any port in the United Kingdom should not, while subject to British jurisdiction, carry upon or above any part of the upper deck any heavy timber as cargo or any light timber to a height exceeding three feet above the deck, under a penalty of £5 for every cubic foot of timber so carried; the penalties not to exceed £100 and to be recovered on summary jurisdiction, the clause not to apply to any ship putting into port through stress of weather or for repairs. It was, he said, a clause of great gravity and entire novelty. It had never been proposed before to impose a penalty on a foreign ship for a particular mode of carrying cargo into our ports; and in this case it was professed to be done solely in the interest of the preservation of life and to check a dangerous loading. He had adopted for imposts, as far as he could, the exact terms of the Canadian Law prohibiting the export of deck-loaded timber. There was export of heavy machinery on deck sometimes from the East Coast of England, but the Merchant Shipping Law was sufficient to deal with that kind of deck-loading, and the general powers of the Board of Trade surveyors were ample for checking every kind of improper loading from our own shores. The provision against winter deck-loading of timber was not limited to the Atlantic trade, and he hoped that the penalty being general would not prejudice the trade of any particular nation. There were provisoes by which the new regulations would not press unfairly upon home or foreign ships, and as it was not proposed that the clauses should come into operation before the 1st of January, he had no doubt that foreign Governments would make arrangements to meet the change.
(Penalty on ships carrying deck loads of timber in winter.)
("From and after the day of, a ship, British or foreign, arriving at any port in the United Kingdom, which has sailed from any port beyond the limits of the United Kingdom after the first day of October or before the sixteenth day of March in any year, shall not, while subject to British jurisdiction, carry upon or above any part of the upper deck of the ship not included within the limits of any permanently closed in space which is available for cargo, and included in the registered tonnage of such ship:
"Any pitch pine, mahogany, or other heavy wood, nor any timber of any other description to a height exceeding three feet above the deck.
"If any timber is carried by any ship, in contravention of this section, the master of the ship and also the owner, if he is privy to the offence, shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding five pounds for every hundred cubic feet of timber so carried, and such penalty to an amount not exceeding one hundred pounds (whatever may be the maximum penalty recoverable) may be recovered on summary conviction.
"Provided, That a master shall not be liable to any penalty, under this section, in respect of any timber or spars which he has considered it necessary to place or keep on deck during the voyage on account of the springing of any leak or of any other damage to the ship received or apprehended.
"Provided also, That nothing in this Clause shall affect any foreign ship coming into any port of the United Kingdom under stress of weather, or for repairs, or for any other purpose than the delivery of her cargo,")—(Sir Charles Adderley,)
— brought up, and read the first time.
On Question, "That the Clause be now read a second time?"
said, when they recollected what occurred the other night they might congratulate themselves on the progress which had been made in the meantime. What the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade and the hon. and learned Attorney General had declared could not be done last Monday night the Government had now come to the conclusion could be done. Time might have been saved if the Government had then given their assent to the course which happily they were now proposing. It was impossible to give an opinion upon all the details of these clauses at once; but they dealt, as it appeared to him, in a fair way with an important question. The only objection which at that stage he felt inclined to make was, that the penalties would have to be levied by the magistrates for any infraction of the law. It would be better if the duty were left to the Customs officers in the case of foreign ships. They were accustomed to deal with foreigners, while our own seamen could be dealt with by the magistrates. He also thought it would be better if, with reference to foreigners, a more indirect method of enforcing what they desired could be adopted, such as by providing for forfeiture in certain cases instead of the infliction of penalty, or by prohibition of entry. He further wished to point out that, while they were dealing with deck-loading and overloading, they were leaving grain-loading undealt with as regarded foreign ships. They must alter the grain-loading provisions, because regulations which might do very well for vessels coming from North America or the Baltic would not apply to vessels coming round the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn, and appointed to arrive in this country in summer.
begged to point out to the hon. and learned Member that deck loads were to be continued to the height of three feet with the exception of special cases, which were excluded, of ships carrying heavy sorts of timber. If they were to deal effectively with deck loads, however, he thought they must abolish them altogether in the winter without regard to whether the woods were light or heavy. With regard to ships coming from the Antipodes, there was no timber trade developed there with this country. When the proper time came he should divide the House on the question of deck loads.
said, he would refer to the efforts which had been made in the countries in the North of Europe to deal with the question of overloading. A conference had been held at Copenhagen last year with the special object of considering this question of deck loads, and a resolution had been agreed to at that conference embodying the spirit of this legislation as far as Danish vessels were concerned, and expressing a hope that similar measures would be adopted by all the maritime nations. He had also received letters from two influential associations of Norwegian underwriters at Christiana and from a large merchant in Canada in favour of the total prohibition of timber deck loads.
wished to add to what had fallen from the noble Lord opposite (Lord Eslington) that the House was not under the same compulsion as the Canadian Assembly in this matter. They were merely dealing with the ports of the United Kingdom, and they would make a great mistake if they enacted the restriction upon the principle of deck loading which Canada had reluctantly, and under peculiar circumstances, been obliged to admit. He would again urge the right hon. Gentlemen the President of the Board of Trade to prohibit deck loads of timber or wood goods altogether in winter, in which case he ventured to think that there would be such a diminution in the loss of life as would fully justify the prohibition. He thought it would be better to fix the prohibition from the 15th of September than from the 1st of October in each year, the former date being that fixed upon by the insurance companies as the beginning of the dangerous season.
thought that the Government ought to be congratulated upon having produced a clause, the principle of which was so generally acceptable to the Committee; but still there was the question whether that clause would be an effective one. The foreign owner would be generally out of our jurisdiction; and, practically, the only person upon whom the penalty would be imposed would be the captain, who would probably be unable to pay it. He (Mr. Gorst) thought, therefore, something should be done so as to attach a penalty to the ship itself. A foreign ship making for a British port in stress of weather would, of course, by the law of nations, be exempt from this penalty, but he (Mr. Gorst) would ask why should the penalty only apply to a ship which came into port to land her cargo, and not to those which came there for orders, to land passengers, and for many other purposes.
thought that the Government had acted boldly and courageously in endeavouring to carry out the views of the hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Plimsoll); but the clause was a very serious one, affecting not only deck loading, but also our international relations with foreign countries. For the first time, we were setting the example of legislating for offences committed out of our jurisdiction; because the offence would be committed when the cargo was placed on deck, and by persons who were not subject to our law, and who were ignorant of it. Had not shipowners reason to fear that this principle might be acted upon by other Governments, so that other countries might impose their own municipal law upon our merchants? In this way ship or cargo might be confiscated: for when once that principle was admitted, we could not object to the amount of penalty which foreign States chose to impose. Again, the penalty of the clause upon the foreigner would substantially mean imprisonment. The master of the ship would really be the person who would be liable; and he might reasonably say that he would not pay, because he had not loaded the vessel, or perhaps he would have no money and therefore he would have to go to prison. Foreigners in that way would learn that they would be sent to prison, though what they had done was no breach of their own law, and, simply, because they had broken a law of our own of which they never heard.
said, that the restrictions which the hon. and learned Gentleman feared were already in operation against us; and in the Russian ports, a considerable portion of the Revenue was derived from vexatious regulations framed for the purpose of involving British vessels in liabilities to fines. The evils, therefore, which it was predicted would be created by this clause were in point of fact already in existence. The clause would be known everywhere 24 hours after it was adopted in the House, and there would be no difficulty in dealing with the matter as proposed by the Government. Every owner of a ship which was coming to this country would know from his agent here what our laws were; and it would really be just as easy to legislate for foreign as for British ships when they came into our own ports. Beyond that we should not supply any motive for retaliatory legislation, because we should only deal with foreign ships just as we dealt with our own.
said, allusion had been made in the course of the debate to the regulations imposed by Russia in regard to deck loading. He thought he was entitled to speak with authority on the subject. There were no regulations in Russia which affected the loading of ships in the slightest degree. There were regulations with regard to the hours of loading and certain Customs regulations, but there was no regulation which enabled the Russian Courts to take cognizance of the loading of ships. As a shipowner, he ought to be in favour of the clause, yet he felt it was his duty to stand up in his place and say that he thought a more dangerous, and a more high-handed clause had never been submitted to the House of Commons. The clause meant that a vessel belonging, for instance, to the United States might load her cargo in accordance with the special regulations of her country, but on her safe arrival at a British port she was to be told—"You know so little about your business that we will not permit your vessel to come into our ports loaded in a certain manner, however suitable you you may consider it to be, without penalty." A deck cargo might be dangerous to a ship of one kind of build, which would be an element of safety to a vessel of another build. In a deep ship it might be dangerous, while in another it might have the effect of raising the centre of gravity and giving additional security to the vessel. He thought they were entering upon rash legislation, and the Government were taking upon themselves a deep responsibility without sufficient consideration. He maintained that they had no right to interfere with the manner in which foreign nations brought their cargoes into British ports. He knew of no parallel instance in any part of the world. Canada did not attempt to dictate as to how other countries should bring their cargoes, but simply said—"You shall load cargoes here under certain conditions." That he thought was the only limit to which we in this country could safely go. We could compel ships to load cargoes in our ports in accordance with our municipal arrangements; but after a ship had loaded in accordance with its own nation's regulations, and proved by its arrival that it had done so with perfect safety, to tell the captain of that ship that he was not to discharge the cargo in a port of the United Kingdom without a penalty was, he thought, the most offensive way to other nations in which a clause could be put. The clause as it now stood was entirely unprecedented, and would establish a most dangerous precedent. Norway and Sweden would be the countries chiefly affected by the clause, and we might find ourselves retaliated upon by a regulation not to allow our threshing machines or any deck cargoes whatever to be discharged in their ports. It was unwise and absurd to place timber cargoes from the other side of the Atlantic on the same footing as cargoes from Sweden and Norway. The one case involved a long and tedious voyage which might occupy months, while with a favourable easterly wind a little Norwegian ship would run across in a few days. They were treating all vessels with the same iron rule, and although it might be contrary to the interests of his shipowning constituents, he must be allowed to say that such interference with foreign shipping was wrong in principle—dangerous in practice—and that the Government would be the first to feel the error of their ways.
said, that the clause had been brought up in deference to the almost unanimous expression of opinion on Monday evening; and it was therefore somewhat hard that opposition should now be raised against it. [Mr. NORWOOD said he had protested against the clause at that time.] He was sorry that it had been found necessary to impose the same restrictions upon deck cargoes of timber coming from Norway as upon similar cargoes that might be brought across the Atlantic. A deck cargo of timber might be a source of danger in an Atlantic voyage, and yet be carried with perfect safety in the summer across the North Sea. It must, however, be obvious that the restriction now proposed would impose a very slight burden upon the consumer, while he was confident it would have the effect of saving many lives and preventing much suffering among seamen.
said, the principle embodied in the clause was a perfectly new one, and it was for Her Majesty's Government to say whether they were prepared to accept the full responsibility of it. Speaking personally, he had serious fears on the subject. He believed it would be found that the attempt to put penalties upon ships entering our ports which had loaded according to the laws of their own country, and which had safely crossed the sea, could not be sustained. It was, in his opinion, contrary to the principles of International Law and to the stipulations for equal treatment in all treaties with other Powers. In the first instance, it was proposed only to apply the principle to deck cargoes coming to this country from across the Atlantic or from Asia, but now it had since been found necessary on account of our treaties, not in the interest of safety of life, to extend its operation to vessels bringing timber from ports no further distant than the North of Europe. The trade with Norway for timber was, he believed, carried on almost wholly by Norwegian vessels. We were thus involved in legislating for Norwegian vessels rather than for our own. He could not see where the line was to be drawn if it was attempted to extend the operation of the clause beyond British ships—a limitation he thought the Government would have acted wisely in adopting. The Government clause introduced, the new and dangerous principle of interfering with foreign vessels in our ports, and might involve us in most serious difficulties with foreign nations.
said, he was grateful to the Government for having in the clause adopted, in a loyal and manly manner, a principle for which he and others had been pertinaciously struggling for a long, and he thought that hon. Members, instead of raising querulous objections to the clause should with equal loyalty endeavour to assist the Government in overcoming the difficulty in the way of carrying that principle into effect. The objection that it would be unwise to subject the captains of foreign ships to penalties might be met by Customs' regulations prohibiting deck cargoes and rendering them liable to seizure. It was the business of persons trading with foreign nations to ascertain its laws and regulations.
also thanked the Government for the manner in which they had dealt with the subject, and thought that they had been subjected to very unjust attacks for having introduced the clause in compliance with pressure brought to bear upon them from all parts of the House. He did not for a moment believe that the clause would raise any difficulty with foreign nations when it was considered that its object was humane, and was to save the lives of foreigners as well as English sailors. From a Return of the number and nationality of the ships engaged in the timber trade, it appeared that in 1874 2,813 were so engaged, of which 800 were British, 1,647 Swedish and Norwegian, 109 Russian, 50 Danish, 121 German, Dutch 7, Italian 5, Austrian 7, and Belgian 4. Inasmuch as Sweden and Norway, Russia, Denmark, Germany, and other countries had expressed a strong approval of the principle of the present legislation, and Spain, as appeared by a recent Return, was the only country which had not cordially met proposals made by the Board of Trade, that before the transfer of any British ship to a foreign flag the foreign Consul should inform the English authorities for the purpose of having a preliminary survey of the vessel to make sure of her seaworthiness, we need be under no fear that foreign nations would take offence or would retaliate upon us for interfering with their vessels. At the same time, the word "penalty" had an ugly look, and he believed that a prohibitive Customs' duty such as was shadowed forth in the clause he (Mr. Ashley) had placed upon the Paper would have been better than the proposal of the Government.
said, the intention of the Government was admirable, and deserved the support of the Committee. He would, however, have preferred a prohibitory duty to the imposition of a penalty.
said, that having been one of those who pressed on the Government a change in the Bill in that direction, it would not be fair not to thank them for the way in which they had effected that change. The Government had yielded to the feeling of the majority of the Committee, and also to the facts as brought before them. Coming to the conclusion to which those facts pointed—that in dealing with deck cargoes at all, it was necessary to put foreign ships in the same position as British ships—the Government could not be blamed for the course they proposed in the first instance, as the case seemed at first sight to be against dealing with foreign ships; but they had had the facts brought before them, and it came out quite clearly in the discussion that, if the dangers of the timber trade were to be fairly met, foreign ships must be included. Without it, Canada would have had a right to complain that her trade was subjected to regulations that did not apply to foreign ships. He should have regretted anything happening that would have caused a separation in that respect between this country and Canada. He was therefore pleased that the proposed legislation would not clash with that of Canada, and that they were not called on to differ from the Legislative Assembly of that great American colony. She certainly would have had a right to complain if the Baltic trade had been handicapped against her; and as to the danger of retaliating they would have a right to complain, unless the regulations made by any foreign Power were similar to their own and had the same object, the saving of life, and unless those regulations affected its own ships as well as theirs.
, on the part of the Government, thanked the right hon. Gentleman for the spirit in which he had spoken, and the Committee generally for the manner in which they had received the clause proposed by the Government. The Government felt with the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. Shaw Lefevre), and others who had spoken, that the steps which they were inviting the Committee to take were very serious. The Government had weighed the difficulties over and over again, and it had not been without considerable hesitation that, after giving due weight to the facts that were before them, and seeing that the time had come when they must make their choice in the direction of the clause, they had at last made up their minds and determined to face cer- tain difficulties in order to attain the object they had in view. Although it was perfectly true that they would be able to say to foreign countries—"You must only adopt regulations which are similar to those which we adopt," he doubted very much whether they could by any process of reasoning really confine them strictly to the observance of the regulations which they themselves adopted. A foreign country might enforce severe regulations on British ships nominally for the purpose of saving life, but that might be prejudicial to the interests of British shipping, although they might profess to apply the same treatment to ships of foreign countries and to their own. Possibly, in some countries, but not in any of the great civilized countries, the nominal law might be applied in a manner anything but fair to a British shipowner. They had heard much about applying Customs' laws and prohibitions instead of stringent penalties. It was straining the point to say that the penalties imposed by the clause were of an unprecedented character, because many breaches of their Customs' laws were subject to penalties and forfeiture of contraband articles which were only a little less than those now proposed. The Government, however, had not treated the matter in that way, because it was against the spirit of the Customs' duties to use them for any other purpose than that of Revenue, and it would be letting in a dangerous principle to begin to impose Customs' duties not for the sake of Revenue, but to secure some other object. If they attempted to impose such a duty on deck cargoes they would, moreover, lose one of the great restraints they placed on the practice they wished to stop by the system of penalties. He believed that if ships imported goods which were subjected to a penalty, the persons bringing them in would vitiate their policy of insurance—a result which would operate much more severely than a Customs duty. It might be said that by their system of penalties they might be brought into collision with foreign countries; but would not that objection hold equally good against the imposition of duties amounting to forfeiture or prohibition? It had been asked how these penalties were to be enforced, and it had been suggested that they ought to be enforced against the shipowner, but that was al- ready provided for by the 523rd clause of the Merchant Shipping Act, under which the proposed penalties might be levied, if necessary, by distress on the ship. On the whole, therefore, he thought the infliction of a penalty would be the most simple and convenient mode of proceeding. They did not wish to mix that question up with their Customs' laws if they could help it, or to give foreign countries any excuse for introducing, under any kind of sanction from our practice, any duty not having a purely fiscal object. Nor did he think that there was anything in the objection that foreigners might be taken by surprise, or that, if sufficient time was allowed for giving them notice, any serious difficulty would be experienced in that respect. The whole thing resolved itself into this—that if they were determined to do what they could by way of legislation to check deck loading they could only do it by imposing restrictions which it was scarcely possible to impose on British ships without imposing them also on foreign ships. Although at first sight it did appear that any attempt to deal with foreign ships might carry them to a dangerous extent, the more he had considered the subject the more he felt that with care and caution, by giving foreign countries reasonable notice of their proceedings, and by exercising reasonable fairness in the execution of the law, the danger was not one that need be attended with very serious consequences. The hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Rathbone) had on the Paper a clause of a very excellent character, dealing with the possible case of arranging by Treaty with foreign countries for the acceptance by them of our Merchant Shipping Acts; and at one time the Government were disposed to think that all the objects in view might be met in that way; but while they would endeavour by negotiation, by persuasion, and by a proper use of their legitimate influence as the first great maritime Power in the world to induce foreign countries to come into arrangements with them, the Government felt that in bringing forward the clause, which they did with considerable anxiety, they were doing what was best for the promotion of the great objects of the Bill and for the interests of the country.
said, he was glad that the Government had attempted to deal with the question, though he still thought the clause was open to some objections, and that the end in view might be effected through the medium of a Customs duty or a Customs regulation, for which there existed precedents. He would suggest that if the clause proposed the heavy penalty of vitiating the insurance in case of non-compliance with the enactment it required most serious consideration, for the penalty would be inflicted on shippers of cargo—men innocent of, and unable to prevent the act by which they were thus seriously injured.
said, as regarded the penalty, all the responsibility must be laid on the Government, for they were the persons who would have to face foreign Governments on the subject. He was extremely glad that the Government had taken the course they had done on this matter, and his object now was merely to present an argument which he thought would remove the doubts which his hon. Friends the Member for Hull (Mr. Norwood) and Taunton (Sir Henry James) had expressed. The hon. Member for Hull said it would be a harsh proceeding to confiscate the goods of foreigners, or visit them with penalties. But how could it be harsh to visit with a penalty a man who knew perfectly well when he started what the law was, and deliberately violated it? No doubt it would be a harsh and high-handed proceeding if arbitrarily and vexatiously they seized on a man, who had no reason to expect that he would be seized on; but if they proclaimed openly to all the world that they had made such and such a rule for the regulation of shipping, a man who came into a British port and knowingly violated that rule would have no right to complain if he were subjected to the penalty provided by the Act. It was from no vexatious motive, but from a good motive, of which all the world approved, that they made this regulation, and he did not think his hon. Friend the Member for Hull on reflection would insist on calling it a high-handed proceeding. Then it had been argued that the rule was an exceptional one, because it applied to imported goods. It was not alleged that as regarded lading a ship outward-bound there were not plenty of precedents. He was himself unable to see any difference in principle between the two cases. The general argument was that we ought not to interfere with foreign ships, because the foreigner was dealing with his own goods and his own people. But that argument applied to ships sailing outward as well as to ships coming in; and the only grounds on which we could deal with the matter in either case was that we were dealing with something in our own ports. He believed that many of the fears expressed by his hon. Friend had no foundation, and he hoped the clause would do credit to the English nation by having set an example to other nations of the world which they would not regard as a matter of retaliation, but of imitation.
said, he did not object to the principle of the clause; but he could not agree with the hon. and learned Member for Oxford when he said there was no difference between a foreign vessel loading in our own ports and vessels coming from foreign ports to ours. In the former case, we had a perfect right to make what rules we liked for the safety of human life; in the latter case, we were really attempting to apply a penal law to a foreigner for doing something which might be lawful in his own country. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had expressed a sanguine hope that foreign nations would in time adopt our system—meaning our penal law. But suppose they refused to do so, how were we to compel them? Either trade would be put an end to, or we should be brought into conflict, perhaps, with a great Power, such as Prussia for example. Suppose the foreign owner or captain had not £100 with which to pay the penalty, or refused to pay it, was he to be imprisoned? If so, he could foresee many complications that would bring us into unpleasant antagonism with other powers. If we attached liabilities of one kind and another to legal acts done by the foreigner in foreign ports, foreign countries might retaliate by measures which we should find extremely embarrassing. The principle of the clause was sound; but the right way was to treat the over cargo, as had been suggested by the hon. and learned Member for Denbigh (Mr. Watkin Williams), as prohibited goods. This rule would be analogous to the rule imposed by the United States in the case of immigrants arriving there. It was also known to international usage. The clause proposed by the Government, as he had said, might lead to retaliations by other Powers and to serious complications and embarrassments, whereas the rule which he had suggested would give no just cause of offence to any foreign nation.
objected to the line of three feet being drawn, as it was well known that some ships were safer with four feet of timber above the deck than others were with three feet. Again, large logs of timber were safer on deck than deals, as they would not be so likely to shift in heavy weather. He strongly advocated the total abolition of deck loads in ships crossing the Atlantic between October and April; but he thought there was not the same necessity for prohibiting deck loads in the case of ships coming from the Baltic to the East Coast of England.
said, in his opinion, deck loads were in all cases cargo in the wrong place, and that they were dangerous to navigation. Therefore, under all circumstances, they ought to be avoided. He regretted that the prohibition was limited by the Bill to certain trades and to a particular season. If the right hon. Gentleman had prohibited the system altogether he should have supported the Government.
said, he did not think the Government had taken the right way of meeting the difficulty. Ships were not built for the purpose of carrying deck loads; and, in his opinion, the only way of settling the difficulty was to put a duty on all goods carried on deck so high that it would not be an inducement to any one to carry deck loads.
thanked the President of the Board of Trade for the bold manner in which he had dealt with the subject-matter of the clause. He did not think there was anything to be feared from retaliatory measures on the part of foreign Governments. With regard to the conveyance of cattle on deck, nothing could be more dangerous, and provision should be made in reference to it.
said, the clause as it stood dealt only with the master, because there was no penalty attached to the ship or cargo either by implication, or otherwise. By the 52nd section of the Act of 1854 penalties might be recovered as against the ship and cargo, whereas, in the clause now under consideration, there was a distinct declaration that the master was the only party liable, and the ship and cargo were excluded. He trusted the right hon. Gentleman would consider this discrepancy, and endeavour to make some Amendment on the Report. He would suggest whether it might not be desirable to apply the machinery which had been applied by the Admiralty in cases of collision at sea, and to attach both ship and cargo. The clause would act unjustly in cases where the master was entirely under the control of the owner.
preferred the Bill as it originally stood in respect of deck loading to the clause under consideration. He considered that the Government, in dealing with the 15th clause, had made a radical mistake, and had in fact encouraged the carrying of deck cargoes, inasmuch as shipowners, by paying 1s. per ton, would be at liberty to carry them. The question they had to decide virtually was this—whether life was endangered by the carrying of deck cargoes. He believed that such was the case, and further that life would be endangered by the carrying such cargoes to the extent of 3 feet in depth. Three feet ought not to be allowed at all in winter, and in legislating on the subject of deck cargoes they ought not to confine the prohibition to timber alone. He believed the Government were making a grievous error in supposing that a ship could carry 3 feet deck load of timber across the Atlantic with anything like a due regard to the safety of life in severe weather, and therefore he objected to the clause altogether.
said, he doubted whether they could enforce a penalty against a foreign ship by the sale of the ship. The Act of 1854dealt with offences exclusively committed by the owners or masters of British ships, and he questioned whether by reading that Act in connection with that one they would be entitled to sell a foreign ship. It would be far better not to leave the matter in doubt, and to insert a clause similar to that contained in the Canadian Act, and to say that, where a penalty had been incurred, if the master did not pay the penalty it should be recoverable by sale of the ship.
said, he had no doubt that according to International Law they had power, after fair notice, to impose any conditions they thought proper on foreign ships entering British ports, and to refuse them admission unless they consented to the existing conditions; but at the same time, they might use this right in such a way as to lead to remonstrances. He thought the existing precedents should be acted upon, and in cases of violation of the law he would much rather see the penalty imposed upon the ship, with power to sell it should the penalty not be paid. He disapproved of punishing the master; and as to the foreign owner, he would avoid coming into a British port when he knew that a penalty was hanging over him for violating the law in relation to deck loading.
said, that when it was proposed in a former stage of the Bill to exempt foreign vessels from penalties, he and many other hon. Members voted with the Government; but the Government had since changed their mind, and they now proposed to impose penalties on foreign vessels. They could not remedy the difficulty by forcing their law upon foreign nations, and the result might be that foreign nations might relaliate and pass laws against English shipping. If the real danger of deck loading arose in the Canadian timber trade, it would be better to allow the Canadian Government to deal with the matter.
Question put, and agreed to.
On the Motion of SIR CHARLES ADDERLEY, Clause amended by adding the word "first" after "the," and the words "January one thousand eight hundred and seventy-seven" after "of" in the first line.
MR. T. E. SMITH moved, as an Amendment, in line 9 of the new Clause, to omit the words "any pitch pine, mahogany, or other heavy wood, nor" the object of the Amendment being to prohibit the carrying of timber cargoes on deck during the winter months.
accepted the Amendment.
remarked that if the right hon. Gentleman had made that concession early in the evening, the House might have been saved the whole of the discussion.
Amendment agreed to; words struck out accordingly.
MR. T. E. SMITH , moved, as an Amendment, in line 11, to leave out the word "other," and after "description," to insert "nor shall she carry any deals or battens to a height exceeding three feet above the deck." He rather objected to the deck load of three feet, but still he felt that difficulties might arise which the Amendment would avoid.
Amendment agreed to; words inserted accordingly.
MR. PLIMSOLL moved, as an Amendment, to omit the words "to a height exceeding three feet above the deck," in order to insert "on deck," his object being entirely to prohibit the carrying of deals and battens on deck in the winter months.
In line 10, to leave out the words "to a height exceeding three feet above the," in order to insert the word "on,"—( Mr. Plimsoll,)
said, he could not accept the Amendment, which would be a departure from the Canadian law; the object of the clause being to assimilate the law to that of Canada, and to avoid imposing penalties on those who imported timber from Canada according to Canadian law. Any change might best be made hereafter simultaneously on both sides.
supported the Amendment. It was all very well to talk of kindness and generosity to Canada; but he believed the general feeling of the community in Canada would be favourable to the proposal of the hon. Member for Derby.
supported the Amendment.
believed the exception had been introduced in the Canadian law only for a local and temporary purpose. When the British Parliament was legislating on the subject, having gone so far, the question was whether the Committee would not do better in deciding to sweep away deck loads altogether. He hoped the hon. Member for Derby would press his Amendment to a division.
defended the clause. He would remind the Committee that they were now dealing with an Act which had relation to the Dominion of Canada. It might be that there were reasons which induced the Legislature of Canada to make this exception. The qustion was, whether, if the Canadian Legislature had to reconsider the question, it would strike out the provision. In this legislation they were interfering with an important trade, and one which would not bear an indefinite amount of restriction. He did not say that the Committee might not go further and exclude all deck loads, but they must take care that they did not carry stringency to an extreme; and unless a very strong case were made out, they ought not to interfere with the ordinary operations of commerce.
supported the Amendment, remarking that the Government had a few minutes ago gone in direct opposition to what had been done by Canada. The Committee were not bound to follow the course of Canadian legislation; but their duty was to act on the convictions which they believed to be founded on right, and his opinion was, that vessels should not be allowed to carry such cargoes during the winter months. Three feet of timber on deck in a heavy sea involved at least the risk of broken limbs to seamen. He trusted the hon. Member for Derby would press the matter, in order that an opportunity might be afforded hon. Members of recording their votes against a scandalous clause which was calculated to add to the danger of deck loading.
supported the Amendment, as he considered deck loading, especially in winter, very objectionable, and three feet of timber much too heavy a load. He could understand the delicacy with which the Government had been inclined to treat Canada; but he would also remind them that the clause also affected all foreign countries.
, who had been engaged many years in the timber trade, thought the Amendment would prove injurious, and had not found that limbs were broken by these deck loads. He wished to remind the Committee that deck loading now was very different from what it was some years ago.
said, he could confirm what had been said by his noble Friend (Lord Eslington) from the evidence given by Mr. Fry before the Commission on Unseaworthy Ships. Mr. Fry had been, for four years, President of the Chamber of Commerce of Quebec; and he gave the following account of the recent legislation in Canada with reference to deck loads of timber:—
"The carrying of square timber of all kinds is absolutely prohibited between the 1st of October and the 16th of March. Some St. John shipowners urgently represented that deals should be allowed to be carried to a certain extent. The Minister of Marine, who happened to represent a New Brunswick constituency, listened to them, and now three feet of deals are allowed. I was strongly opposed to allow deals to be carried, and experience has proved that a large proportion of those deals has been either washed overboard or thrown overboard during the last season from ships sailing from the St. Lawrence."
Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
The Committee divided:—Ayes 142; Noes 134: Majority 8.
wished the President of the Board of Trade to take it into his consideration whether the clause should not be altered so as to make it a fiscal instead of a pecuniary penalty?
said, he must decline to make such an alteration in the clause. He thought a penalty better than indirect prohibition by duties.
MR. PLIMSOLL moved, as an Amendment, inline 12, to omit the words "if he is privy to the offence." The owner would never know what it would be known he did not wish to know. The Board of Trade would never get a conviction, and the penalty would be only illusory. The owner would alone benefit by the carrying of timber in the improper way which the clause punished, and could always make himself acquainted with the acts of his agent, therefore he should be liable for the penalty, without the necessity of proof by the prosecution that he was privy to the offence.tion SIR CHARLES ADDERLEY took exception to the proposed Amendment, thinking it would be hard on the shipowner that he should be held equally responsible, whether privy to the offence or not, and that the case requiring remedy was sufficiently met by the clause as it stood.
was of opinion that the clause should be so amended that it would be placed beyond doubt that the ship would be liable to the penalty in the last resort. In that way the owner could in every case be reached.
said, they had been assured that no doubt existed in the matter, for that under the Act of 1854 the ship could be made liable. The question would, however, be for consideration, and, if necessary, an Amendment of the clause would be proposed.
wished to know from the hon. and learned Attorney General whether the clause would charge the masters of foreign ships with penalties?
, in reply, said, it would. The Merchant Shipping Act of 1854 contained provisions for enforcing penalties, and the present Bill, when it became law, would be incorporated with that Act.
said, if the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General was certain on the point, they could not dispute the question of law with him. On the point of principle, however, he should say that when they were making foreigners subject to British law, care should be taken to tell them plainly what the law was. Now, the effect of what they were doing was to tell the foreigner that he must look to the Act of 1854 to see what his liabilities were. They ought not, in dealing with foreign countries, to follow the vicious practice of drafting Bills by which one Act was made to be read in connection with another, but should state plainly what was to be the penalty imposed.
considered the hon. and learned Attorney General right in his law, as the Act of 1854 was not confined to British shipping, but also embraced cases in which foreign ships were concerned.
thought the simplest way of dealing with the matter was to make the master only liable to the penalty.
suggested that the object of the hon. Member for Derby would be better attained by the insertion of the words "unless such owner can show he was not privy to the offence," than by those he had proposed.
said, he would adopt the suggestion, and withdraw his own Amendment in favour of the one just mentioned.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Mr. RUSSELL GURNEY moved, as an Amendment, the insertion in line 12 of the words "unless the owner shall show that he was not privy to the offence," in substitution of the words "if he is privy to the offence."
In line 12, to leave out the words "if he is privy to the offence," in order to insert the words "unless the owner shall show that he was not privy to the offence."—(Mr. Russell Gurney,)
opposed the Amendment, upon the ground that it was undesirable, unless in very exceptional cases, to throw upon a person accused of an offence the onus of proof that he was not guilty.
said, he would remind the hon. and learned Attorney General that this was a case of principal and agent, and that the first principle of law was that the principal was responsible for the acts of his agent. Qui facit per alium, facit per se. [Ironical cheers and laughter.] That was a maxim which he was very glad to find hon. Gentlemen opposite understood. The master being the agent of the owner, the primâ facie presumption was, that the offence was according to the owner's instructions. It was, therefore, for the owner to rebut that assumption. He contended that the Amendment of the right hon. and learned Recorder was in accordance with the law, and he hoped it would be adopted.
was astonished at the dictum of the hon. and learned Gentleman, for he always understood that a principal was responsible for the acts of his agent in civil proceedings only. He thought the clause ought to stand for the reason stated by the hon. and learned Attorney General, and hoped that the Government would, in this instance, stand to their guns.
said the owner was the only person who derived a profit from the committal of the offence. He should press his Amendment.
Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
The Committee divided:—Ayes 199; Noes 104: Majority 95.
proposed, as an Amendment, in line 12, to leave out after "shall" in the case of British ships. The object of the Amendment was to exempt foreigners from a penalty, because he contended they had no right to punish a man for doing what was lawful in his own country. He should like to know what Germany and other influential foreign Powers would care about their legislation.
pointed out to the hon. and learned Gentleman that the clause was intended to place British and foreign ships on a par; but his Amendment would prevent that which the Committee had expressly agreed to. He could not therefore agree to the Amendment.
expressed his repugnance to the punishment of the offence being by penalty, and moved the alteration of certain words in the clause to change that portion of it.
reminded the hon. Member that at an early period of the evening he had explained the reason why the Government had preferred imposing penalties to dealing with the offence by means of Customs duties.
Clause, as amended, read the third time, and added to the Bill.
Foreign Ships, Overloading.
, in moving the following new clause:—
said, that like that which had just been agreed to, it involved the novelty of dealing generally with foreigners, though in a less degree, inasmuch as overloading in our own ports was clearly an offence committed within British jurisdiction. The proposal in the clause was to submit foreign ships to the provisions of the 5th clause as to detention for overloading. That was a proposal such as had never been made before, for hitherto it had generally been considered that it was no business of ours to protect foreigners, nor even British crews enlisting in foreign service, if they so chose to put themselves under foreign laws. In introducing the Bill he felt inclined rather to accept the suggestion of the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Rathbone), and thinking that the safest way of dealing with foreign nations would be by Treaty, he preferred that the Bill should give Her Majesty power by Orders in Council to apply the Act to those countries which might be inclined or induced to enter into Treaties on the subject with us. He was perfectly satisfied that the principal maritime countries would be willing to enter into such Treaties, and that this course would be safer for British shipowners, because there would be less vagueness about such mutual arrangements than for countervailing restrictions imposed by foreigners to meet our independent enactments. But it was quite clear that the feeling of the Committee was strongly in favour of acting directly. Shipowners were most ably represented in the House of Commons, and they had pressed that course of action through their Representatives on the Government. Whenever we interfered with foreign ships hitherto it was through the Consuls of the nations to which the ships belonged. In accordance with that practice, this clause proposed that as soon as the provisional order for detention of a foreign ship was made notice was to be given to the Consul of the nation to which the ship belonged; and if the foreigner disputed the order, then the Consul would name a competent surveyor to decide between the master and the Board of Trade."Where a foreign ship has taken on board all or any part of her cargo at a port in the United Kingdom, and is, whilst at that port, unsafe by reason of overloading or improper loading the provisions of this Act with respect to the detention of ships shall apply to that foreign ship as if she were a British ship, with the following modifications: (1.) Sub-sections (4), (5), (6), and (7) of Section five of this Act shall not apply. (2.) A copy of order for the provisional detention of the ship shall be forthwith served on the consular officer of the State to which the ship belongs at or nearest to the place where the ship is detained. (3.)If the owner or master of the ship is dissatisfied with the order for provisional detention, the consular officer may, on his request, and at any time within 24 hours after the service of the order on the master, appoint some competent person to survey the ship; and if on survey that person decides that the ship ought to be released, she shall be released accordingly."
New Clause (Application to foreign ships of provisions as to detention),—(Sir Charles Adderley),— brought up and read a first time.
On Question, "That the Clause be now read a second time?"
said, he thought it was most illogical and in- consistent that when a ship loaded abroad came into one of our ports with a deck load violating our law, and was subjected to a penalty, that very ship might go out with the same deck load with impunity. The Government must adhere to one rule, and either enforce their laws against foreigners or not. They had determined to do so as to cargoes, and a fortiori it was desirable they should adopt the same rule in the present case.
said, that with regard to grain cargoes it was not proposed to make any special provision. Deck cargoes stood on a somewhat different footing, and there was a very great distinction between the case of the imported deck load and the improperly loaded ship going outwards. The main distinction was, that in the case of a deck load it was possible to lay down as a definite rule that any ship carrying certain loads of timber or deals was acting in contravention of our law, and there would be no difficulty in enforcing that law; but when the question arose of an improperly loaded ship going outward, no general rule was laid down, but a certain discretionary power was given to certain Government officers to detain that ship. A certain arbitrary power was given and the question was whether the officer was to be allowed to do in the case of a foreign ship that which he was allowed to do in the case of a British ship. It must be borne in mind that if this were done, foreigners would claim the right to deal in the same manner with British ships in their ports, and serious difficulties would arise if such a course were adopted. Unless we adopted the principle of the protection of the Consuls, he confessed that he should tremble for the consequences. The objection was not an unnatural one, but there was no real foundation for it. He hoped the hon. and learned Gentleman would see that there was no parity between the two cases.
said, that the right hon. Gentleman had not replied to the argument that the particular provision here embodied would fail in its object. His hon. and learned Friend had pointed out that the question would rest entirely in the hands of the Consul; but what security would they have that the Consul would deal impartially with the matter? In his (Mr. Goschen's) opinion the Go- vernment would do well to omit the clause altogether, for they had no security that the Consul, to whom the matter would be referred, would be a competent person under the 3rd sub-section to examine the ship. If the clause was left in its present shape it would give the appearance of dealing with foreign vessels, but without the real effect of such a provision.
still did not think this clause would be found insufficient. If the master of a ship were shown that it was overloaded, it was probable he would remedy what was complained of, as he would be anxious to go to sea and to go safely; and the Consul would naturally be anxious to induce the master to do what was necessary. The Committee would commit a great mistake if they did not give the Consul the power of interfering and seeing that justice was done.
said, they should deal with the foreigner as they would with the owner of a British ship, and not allow a foreign ship any more than a British to go to sea in an unseaworthy condition. He thought the justice of the case would be met by having one surveyor appointed by the foreign Consul and the other by the British authorities.
thought this a clause of too great importance to be properly discussed at that late hour. The clause introduced for the first time the principle that foreign and British ships should not be treated equally before the law. It gave no power to detain a ship which was improperly loaded, and it invested in the hands of a Consul or vice Consul the whole powers possessed by the Board of Trade for the detention of foreign ships. He agreed with the hon. Member for Tynemouth (Mr. T. E. Smith) that the only way in which they could deal with the question of overloading ships would be to deal in the same way with the foreign ship as they would deal with a British vessel, and not allow a foreign ship to leave a British port in an overloaded and unseaworthy state, dangerous to the lives of those on board. He could not help agreeing with the principle laid down by the hon. and learned Member for the City of Oxford (Sir William Harcourt), that British and foreign ships should be treated in exactly the same manner when they were in our ports. That was the way in which our ships were treated in foreign ports, and therefore there were no privileges to forfeit in foreign ports. There was only one plain straightforward course to pursue, and that was to treat all vessels alike in our own ports.
thought that when it was known by foreign Governments that certain regulations would affect their vessels in our ports, they would make corresponding arrangements; but the clause gave certain arbitrary powers to the Board of Trade which were objectionable.
was in favour of treating all vessels alike when in our ports.
Question put, and agreed to.
On Question, "That the clause be now read a third time?"
MR. WILSON moved, as an Amendment in line 1, after the word "ship," to insert the words "except ships belonging to such States as may from time to time signify their objection to come under this law."
said, he would move that the Chairman report Progress.
said, that no doubt there had been a very long discussion on the clause, and it was most desirable that it should be disposed of. He trusted the Motion would not be pressed.
Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman report Progress, and ask leave to sit again,"—( Mr. Dillwyn,)—put, and agreed to.
Committee report Progress.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House will again, To-morrow, at Two of the clock, resolve itself into the said Committee."—( Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer.)
said, he would move, as an Amendment, that the Committee on the Bill be adjourned till the usual hour to-morrow. He did not think it was fair to ask independent Members to forego their private Business. He had never known such heavy work continuously kept up as during the present Session. The House had sat a greater number of hours that Session than he remembered since he was in Parliament. Instead of rising by 9 or 10 o'clock, as had been the case before Easter, the House had sat till 2, 3, and even 4 o'clock. He did not think the House gained much by Morning Sittings, for hon. Members got annoyed, and refused to facilitate the plans of the Government, and perhaps there was a "count-out" afterwards. If they once began this work so early it would be continued. He hoped the Motion would not be pressed.
Amendment proposed, to leave out the words "at Two of the clock."—( Mr. Dillwyn.)
Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
hoped the Government would assent to the Amendment; a Bill of that kind ought not to be discussed at a Morning Sitting. He entirely disapproved of the Committee resuming its labours at 2 o'clock, and would support the Motion of the hon. Member for Swansea.
also protested against a resort to Morning Sittings at so early a period of the Session. The result of such a proceeding would be that important business would have to be disposed of without discussion. If that attempt proved successful there would be speedy demands for other Morning Sittings. He was sure his hon. Friend the Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) was not in his place, for he was their usual protector on such occasions.
joined in the protests against the early resumption of Morning Sittings, which tended to waste time. The system was one which he deprecated.
pointed out that many hon. Members had to attend Committees, and could not be present at a Morning Sitting. He would appeal to the Government to yield, if they felt they could do so, on a matter where the personal convenience of private Members was concerned.
, on the part of the legal Members, appealed to the Government to withdaw the proposal. They had not received any Notice of it, and had made their arrangements in ignorance of it. The same plea might be urged on behalf of the shipowners, who had their mercantile business to attend to.
said, the reason the Government wished to take the course proposed was in consequence of the responsibility that rested upon them of passing such an important measure as the one under consideration; they would not, however, think of pressing the proposal against the wish of the House. At the same time, he must demur a little to the insinuation that there was a scramble between the Government and private Members as to which should get the larger portion of the public time. All other Government Business must be laid aside until the Bill was disposed of, and it must be taken on Thursday in lieu of the Business set down for that day.
Amendment and Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Committee to sit again upon Thursday.
House adjourned at a quarter after One o'clock.