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Commons Chamber

Volume 229: debated on Monday 22 May 1876

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House Of Commons

Monday, 22nd May, 1876.

Corrupt Practices At Elections Act—Norwich And Boston Election Commissions—Question

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether it is the intention of the Government, in accordance with precedent, to recommend to Parliament legislative action, based upon the Reports of the Royal Commissioners appointed to inquire into the existence of Corrupt Practices in the City of Norwich and the Borough of Boston?

in reply, said, he had not time to communicate with the hon. and learned Attorney General or his Colleagues in reference to the action that ought to be taken upon the Reports of the Norwich and Boston Election Commissions, but he would make a statement on Thursday or Monday.

Ireland—The Upper Shannon—Ballyconnell Canal—Question

asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland, Whether his attention has been called to the dilapidated condition of the Ballyconnell Canal, and of the various works connected with it; and if he can state who is responsible for the due application of the presentment annually raised for maintaining the Canal; and, whether he will cause inquiries to be made as to why the swing bridge at Lanesborough has been allowed to remain for more than 12 months out of repair, and generally as to the bad state of the buoys and beacons on the Upper Shannon, with the view to having them put in proper repair?

All the matters referred to in the hon. Member's Question are under the control of the Board of Works in Ireland, which is a department of the Treasury, and not responsible to the Irish Government. But I am informed by the Board of Works that steps are about to be taken to repair the Ballyconnell embankment; that the trustees who represent the counties of Cavan, Leitrim, and Roscommon are responsible for the due application of the presentment annually raised for maintaining the canal; that the swing-bridge at Lanesborough has been allowed to remain for some time out of repair because the small funds available for the repairs on the Upper Shannon navigation were more required for other works, but that it will be repaired this summer;and that the buoys and beacons on the Upper Shannon were much injured by last winter's floods, but have by this time been replaced.

Elementary Education Act—Attendance At Schools—Question

asked the Vice President of the Council, Whether, in the half-year ending Christmas 1875, the number of children in average attendance at the voluntary schools of the Tower Hamlets and Marylebone Divisions of the London School Board did not show a decrease of 1,082 and 714 respectively, whilst in the same period the increase in the Board Schools amounted only to 716 and 128 respectively; what amount of accommodation has been provided by the London School Board in the Tower Hamlets Division; whether, in the half-year ending at Christmas 1875, there was not accommodation for 412,259 children in "efficient"schools in London, and whether the average attendance for the same period was not 288,497 only; whether, in spite of the compulsory bye-laws and the opening of several large Board Schools during the period above mentioned, the general result has not been a reduction in the average attendance of children in the voluntary schools of 5,310, whilst the increase in the Board Schools has only amounted to 6,774, leaving a nett increase for all the "efficient"schools in London (both voluntary and Board) of 1,464 only; and, how many schools were opened by the Board during the same period, and what was the amount of additional accommodation thus provided?

I have referred my hon. Friend's Question to the London School Board, and will now give him their reply. It is true that in the half-year ending Christmas, 1875, the number of children in average attendance at the voluntary schools in the Tower Hamlets and Marylebone divisions showed a decrease of 1,082 and 715 respectively, and that in the same period the increase in the Board schools in these divisions amounted only to 716, and 128 respectively. The London School Board has provided, accommodation for 19,758 children in the Tower Hamlets division, of which accommodation for 955 children has been added during the half-year above mentioned. It is also true that in the half-year ending Christmas, 1875, there was accommodation for 412,259 children in efficient schools in London, and that the average attendance for the same period was 288,497. During the half-year ending Christmas, 1875, it is true that there has been a reduction in the average attendance of children in voluntary schools of 5,310, the increase in Board schools amounting only to 6,774, leaving a nett increase upon the efficient schools of London of 1,464. I am, however, bound, as a matter of justice to mention to the House that the School Board has informed me that the half-year which ended last Christmas was exceptionally bad, owing to the severity of the weather and the sickness which prevailed; also that the half-year which my hon Friend has taken includes the holidays, and that the winter quarter is, as a rule, the worst for attendance. I must also mention that if you compare the last half-year which my hon. Friend has taken with the corresponding half of the preceding year, instead of comparing it with that ending in June, it will be found that in the Marylebone schools there was an increase in average attendance of 716 in the Board schools and 268 in the voluntary schools, and in the Tower Hamlets of 1,932 in the Board schools and 406 in the voluntary. In fairness, also, it should be added, as the question is a very important one, that the Board informs me that if you compare the average attendance for the whole of the metropolis between 1875 and 1871 the increase in the average attendance in Board schools has been 78,645, and in the voluntary schools 35,551.

The European Assurance Society Arbitration—Question

asked Mr. Attorney General, If his attention has been directed to the judgments delivered on the third instant by the Court of Appeal of the High Court of Judicature, in two cases arising out of the affairs of the European Assurance Company, which had been decided by Lord Westbury, and wherein his judgments had been confirmed by Lord Romilly, but against which decisions appeals had been brought by the Official Liquidators; if any similar appeals are now pending, and if the Official Liquidators still receive the salary of £4,000 per annum;and, if so, whether the same rate of remuneration will be continued during the progress of the present arbitration; and, if any arrangement could be made by which the Arbitrator could sit from day to day, in order to expedite the progress of the business, instead of only occasionally, as at present?

in reply, said, that the appeals referred to had been properly brought under the Act 38 & 39 Vict., c. 157, and that judgment had since been given upon them. He was unable to answer the remaining questions of the hon. and learned Gentleman, having no control over the Arbitration, and it not being part of his duty to ascertain the particulars referred to in the hon. and learned Member's Question.

Petition Of Mr Charles Henwood

Question

asked thehonourable Member for Southwark (regarding previous postponements), Whether he now proposes to withdraw his Motion in reference to Mr. Henwood?

I beg to say, in reply to the Question put to me by the hon. Member for Hythe, that I am not one of those persons who, having "put his hand to the plough looketh back," and emphatically to assure him that from the moment I undertook to present Mr. Henwood's Petition for the consideration of this House, I have never halted nor faltered in my intention to bring the subject-matter of that Petition to a direct issue on the earliest day the Forms of the House will admit of my doing so. In fact, a Notice of Motion for a Select Committee stands in my name for Friday, June 9, and is No. 1 on the list, and I shall be glad if the hon. Member for Hythe will now join with me in an appeal to the hon. Member for Pembroke, who has expressed so much anxiety for the appointment of a Committee, but has taken no steps, that I am aware of, to secure it, to urge upon the Government the desirability of granting this Committee of Inquiry unopposed.

Korea—Proposed Treaty

Question

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, If he will lay upon the Table Copies of the Correspondence received from Sir Harry Parkes, Her Majesty's Minister at Yeddo, on the subject of the Treaty lately concluded between the Japanese and Korean Governments; and, if instructions have been given to negotiate a Treaty on behalf of Great Britain with Korea?

No instructions have as yet been given to negotiate a Treaty with Korea, but Her Majesty's Governmentare in communication with other Governments as to the course which it may be advisable to pursue. There will be no objection to lay on the Table Papers on the subject of the Treaty between Japan and Korea. I need hardly say that Her Majesty's Government would be glad to avail themselves of an opportunity for extending British trade in the East, but we know very little about the Koreans, and from the little we do know, it would appear that there is a strong aversion on their part to hold any communication with foreigners. The case is, therefore, one in which it is desirable to act cautiously, and, if possible, to act in concert with other Powers.

Sierra Leone—The Financial Position—Question

asked the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, Whether it is true that any of the Government officials at Sierra Leone have been informed that, in consequence of the financial condition of the Colony, their salaries cannot be paid in full for the present, but that such sums as may be possible will be paid them on account, until the finances of the Colony improve?

in reply, said, he was not aware that the financial position of Sierra Leone was as sad as the hon. Member represented it to be, though there certainly was a deficit in the colonial revenue. That deficit arose mainly from a decrease in the amount of Customs duties, and this was one of the grievances which it had been proposed to remedy by the cession of territory to France. The latter scheme having been abandoned, it would now be the duty of the Government to look into the matter, with a view of relieving the colony from its financial difficulties.

Navy—Engineer Officers And Engine-Room Artificers

Question

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, When he expects to be able to communicate to the House the scheme for the improvement of the present unsatisfactory position of the Engineer Officers and Engine-room Artificers of the Royal Navy?

in reply, said, he could only repeat what he had stated some time ago, that he could not promise to lay the scheme before the House very speedily, the matter being one of very considerable difficulty.

gave Notice that on the Motion for going into Committee of Supply, he should call attention to the subject, and to the urgent necessity for taking steps to remedy the existing unsatisfactory state of things.

Criminal Law—Release Of Political Prisoners—Question

asked the First Lord of the Treasury, If it is his intention to advise Her Majesty to extend Her Royal mercy to the prisoners still suffering punishment for offences in breach of their allegiance to Her Majesty?

Sir, it will be convenient to the House, in reference to this Question, which to a certain extent comes forward periodically, that it should have a clear conception of the number of persons who are at present in the situation described by the hon. Gentleman, because I think that without they have that information it would be difficult for the House to comprehend the circumstances under which any Government thus appealed to is to arrive at a conclusion. At present I find that there are only 15 persons who can come under the description of which the hon. Gentleman has availed himself. There are two of those persons in prison for the crime of murder; they were convicted of murder, and the sentence of death was passed upon them, and that sentence was commuted to one of penal servitude for life. I refer to this fact because on a previous occasion, in a discussion in this House, the case was noticed as one in which the individuals in question were guilty of high treason, and it was urged that that being the case, it was not right to allude to the circumstances of murder connected with the particular incident, because the prisoners must be looked upon as political offenders, provided they were found guilty, either of high treason or of treason-felony. I find according to the record they were not found guilty of high treason or of treason-felony, but they were prosecuted for the crime of murder, and found guilty of murder; and, therefore, under these circumstances, I do not think that we should be justified in admitting that they are to be considered as political offenders. It appears, then, that of these 15 persons—omitting the two to whom I have adverted—there are six in prison in England. A case which has excited great attention is the case of Michael Davitt, who was convicted with another man named John Wilson. They were charged with treason-felony, with conspiring to depose the Queen, with levying war against the State, and with supplying arms to the Fenian organization, and they were both found guilty. Wilson was sentenced to seven years' imprisonment, Michael Davitt, his confederate, to 15 years'penal servitude. Now, it so happens that Wilson has worked out his time, whether entirely or with some of those attenuating conditions that attach now to almost every punishment I do not exactly know; but certainly he has served his time; and Davitt, who was sentenced to double the term, is still in prison. It is for the House to remember that the Judge, when he sentenced Davitt, respecting whom so many efforts of interposition are making, to double the period of servitude to the term passed upon the other offender, must have considered that there was in his crime very aggravating circumstances. Now, Wilson has just worked out his seven years, and it becomes necessary for those who are responsible for these matters to consider whether it is politic to permit a man who has been found guilty by a jury of very aggravated conduct to find himself equally free at the termination of half the period of his sentence with the comparatively harmless man whom the same authorities thought deserved a far lighter punishment. I think, however, that this is a question which society should not determine hastily, and which we ought to consider very deeply before we proceed to take action with regard to it. Then there is the case of Daly. Well, I have gone through these cases, and with the exception of these two, I find that the remainder in England are all military. There are three soldiers who are in prison in England for very aggravated cases, of knowledge of intended mutiny—knowledge of a conspiracy against the Queen, and not revealing it, and in their instances even taking an active part in the conspiracy. All the rest of the military convicts have been transported to Western Australia; and with regard to them, before I answered the Question of the hon. Gentleman I should have made myself acquainted with their exact and precise position. It is from no want of pains on my part that I have not succeeded in obtaining that information, for I should much like to know the exact condition of those persons. Two of them have, I understand, worked out their time, and are now free, and I cannot but believe, from something that has reached me at different times in regard to this matter, that those who are not free are in a position very different from that which is generally contemplated in this House as being connected with the condition of convicts in a state of penal servitude; and I would remind hon. Gentlemen that if pardons were offered to any individuals who had connected themselves with those disturbances in Ireland it is not highly improbable that conditions would be insisted upon in those pardons by which those receiving them would be compelled to absent themselves from this country. ["Hear, hear!"] That assent only proves that it may not be impossible that many of these convicts in Western Australia are, in fact, at this moment enjoying a state of existence that their Friends in this House are quite prepared they should accept, and by commencing, and perhaps pursuing, a life of some prosperity and comparatively little restraint, it is a question whether the attainment of the object desired by those Friends and the country would very much avail. I have thought it necessary to put these views on this subject before the House, and I will briefly recapitulate my remarks. There are only six of these Fenian prisoners imprisoned in England, and I doubt whether, except in England, any are enduring any hardship. Two of them are murderers. ["Oh, oh!"] They were convicted of murder, and I do not see the wisdom or charity of regarding them as political offenders. With regard to the case of Davitt, that, it is said, is a hard case, because his companion is free; but I beg to remind the House that in that instance his conduct was considered very aggravated, and that in justice to those who, like Wilson, have behaved with more moderation, though guilty of misdemeanour, it requires considerable hesitation before one interferes with the verdict of a Court of Justice. Then there are the cases of the three soldiers also imprisoned here, whose offences are of too grave a nature to allow them to be passed over. All the rest are military cases, and I would remind the House that since the question was mooted last year, and a Return moved for by an hon. Gentleman, two of these prisoners have become released in the natural course of the regulations, according to the punishment they were called upon to endure. Under these circumstances, the House will see that these are not cases to be decided in an off-hand manner, and, having indicated the principle which I think ought to govern any Minister in a case of this kind, I am bound to say that I am not prepared to advise Her Majesty to release the prisoners referred to in the Question of the hon. Gentleman.

begged to move the Adjournment of the House, in order to record his protest against the decision which the Government had arrived at upon the subject. The announcement just made by the Prime Minister would, he believed, be received in Ireland with mingled feelings of surprise, regret, and indignation. He could not sympathize with the right hon. Gentleman in the hesitation which he had displayed in answering the Question of his hon. Friend. The memorial which they had presented bore the signatures of 138 Members of the House of Commons, who believed that the time had come when those prisoners might be released from their confinement; and he could not but express his condemnation of the policy of perpetuating political animosity by keeping the men in prison. He felt it his duty to protest against the policy pursued by Her Majesty's Government of trampling, as they were in this instance, on fallen foes. It ought to be the policy of that Government to lay aside animosities in that struggle; and now, when Ireland was remarkable for peace and tranquillity, the opportunity might be taken for cementing the friendship which was growing up between the two countries by an act of clemency and generosity. It seemed to him that the appeal made by so many hon. Members ought to have more weight than it seemed to have had with the right hon. Gentleman, and especially at a time when the whole nation was rejoicing at the safe return of a Member of the Royal Family. He could only record his protest against the decision the Government had come to in the matter.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—( Mr. O' Connor Power.)

Lest it should be supposed that all hon. Members sitting below the Gangway on this side of the House entertain the same opinion as that expressed by the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, I beg to say that I rise to record my cordial approbation of the statement which has been made to the House by the First Lord of the Treasury. Regarding the Petition, signed by 138 Members, to which the hon. Member for Mayo has referred, I may observe that very great pressure was put upon hon. Members to sign that requisition. I myself was asked no fewer than six times to sign it; and I know that other hon. Gentlemen were repeatedly asked. Moreover, statements were made to them which were not in accordance with the facts communicated to the House by the Prime Minister this evening. For my part I refused to sign the memorial unless a clause was introduced excepting from it the extension of mercy to those who had been found guilty of murder through being connected with the Fenian affair at Manchester or with the Clerkenwell outrage, and as that was not inserted, I persisted in my refusal Many hon. Members on this side of the House refused in the same way; and I believe that a considerable number of those hon. Members who did sign the memorial signed it in ignorance of the fact that the clemency asked for was to be extended to the prisoners guilty of other crimes than that of breach of military allegiance. ["Name, name!"] I am not provided with names; but I have no doubt there are plenty of hon. Members who can endorse the statement I have made. If the right hon. Gentleman agrees, as I understand him to agree, to remit the sentences of those military men in Australia, under certain conditions of non-return to this country, I think he will do all that the House can expect of him.

said, he thought it right to say a few words in connection with that affair. It was a question which really concerned the honour of England more than that of Ireland. This question of the punishment of a few men might not seem a great matter; but if England were the great and powerful country that it ought to be, these things could not occur. It was generally supposed that the Commander-in-Chief of the Forces was one of those who had great objection to the remission of these sentences. That was not strange in a country which had entrusted the command of the Army to a German Prince not identified with England, and who could have no sympathy with either its interest or honour. It was not strange that this clemency asked for should not be granted by the Prime Minister, a Gentleman who had truckled last year to Prince Bismarck, and who was an alien in race and religion to the people of England. England had been brought so low that on a recent occasion, when the Eastern Question was raised, the three Emperors settled what they would do, and only then asked England whether or not she would agree. [Cries of "Question!"] That was the question; England's honour was involved, and if she was afraid to let some half-dozen poor Irishmen out of prison, it did not speak well for her.

said, the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister had spoken of two of the prisoners as being murderers, meaning those who had been convicted at Manchester. He had also spoken of soldiers subject to imprisonment in Western Australia. He had also spoken of those military prisoners who were in prison in England, and whose military crime he was disposed to consider a greater one than that of those in Western Australia. He (Mr. Parnell) was speaking of Davitt and Wilson, found guilty of selling arms. With regard to the Manchester affair, he held in his hand a book called The Rights of American Citizens, which could be seen by any Member, as it was ordered by the United States Congress as a Return. It gave a report of the trial of Condon and Maloney at Manchester. If any hon. Member would take the trouble to read the evidence—if the right hon. Gentleman himself would take the trouble to read the book, he would see that the evidence against Condon was given in full, and he would find that there was not a particle of evidence to connect him with that murder. At the very outside his name was mentioned by three or four witnesses as having been in the crowd around the van. He was not mentioned as being near the van, except by one man who said a stone fell on Condon's head from the van; but he was attended by a surgeon who said the wound was not caused by a stone, but more likely by a policeman's bludgeon. As regarded Maloney, he was apprehended in London after the three men in Manchester were hanged. He was convicted upon his own statement to a fellow-workmen that he had been present at the attack on the van; but there were many men who knew that Maloney was no more at Manchester on the day of that business than he (Mr. Parnell) was. He was put on his trial and found guilty of murder, and sentenced to be hanged, but the sentence was afterwards commuted to penal servitude for life. There were many men who believed in their own hearts that neither Condon nor Maloney was guilty of that affair. He was sorry that the hon. Gentleman the junior Member for Tipperary (Mr. Stephen Moore) was not in his place that evening to stand up and say he believed that Condon was perfectly innocent of the crime of killing Sergeant Brett at Manchester. With regard to the military prisoners who were confined in Australia, he thought the right hon. Gentleman was under a misapprehension when he represented to the House that they were in a better position in Australia than they would be in this country. He (Mr. Parnell) remembered that the late Mr. Ronayne, before he left London to go to Cork—and he was a man with special information on the subject—told him it was supposed that the convict establishments in Western Australia were about to be given up, and, as a consequence, the prisoners, if not released, would be sent to penal servitude in England, so that it would be additionally hard to those men, who had been enjoying some absence from penal restraints, should they be brought back and put in such convict prisons as Chatham or Dartmoor, and subjected to the rigour of English penal servitude. He threw out those hints in order that the right hon. Gentleman might inquire into the matter. With regard to the three prisoners who were now in prison in England, M'Carthy, Chambers, and another, M'Carthy was a brave soldier, who had fought, and fought well, for England in many parts of the world. Was it fair, after that man had had 10 years in penal servitude—10 years of discipline, which was given in order to effect reformation in the minds of thieves, murderers, and the worst of criminals—was it fair to keep the man in imprisonment any longer? With regard to Davitt, who was sentenced to 15 years'penal servitude by a Judge, he might say that the man who only got seven years was an Englishman; and he did not know how much effect Davitt's being an Irishman might have had with the Judge. ["No, no!"] Hon. Gentlemen might say "no, no,"but it was very hard to be superior to prejudices on all occasions; and he had little doubt that when this man was sentenced to 15 years' penal servitude, the fact of his being an Irishman, and the fact of this occurring just after the Clerkenwell Explosion, and after the murder of Sergeant Brett, which created a great deal of feeling in the minds of the middle and upper classes of this country, had some influence in determining the sentence passed on him.

regretted that the Prime Minister—he had no doubt unwillingly—had felt himself compelled to refuse the prayer of the Petition in favour of the political prisoners. He gathered some hope, however, from the subdued cheers with which that announcement was greeted, so different in tone and intensity from the vindictive cheers which greeted a similar announcement two years ago, that the time would soon arrive when the appeal for mercy would be yielded to. He rose to repudiate, in his own name and the names of the hon. Members for Limerick and Mayo, and the noble Lord the Member for Clare, the statement of the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Anderson), that they had obtained signatures to the declaration laid before the Prime Minister on false pretences. He repudiated with the most thorough contempt which the usages of Parliament allowed the statement of the hon. Member for Glasgow. The language of the hon. Member was insolent to the House and unbecoming the position of a Member of Parliament. There were attached to that Petition the names of 138 Members. When the hon. Member made the charge of false pretences he should have proved it, and he (Mr. Callan) called upon the hon. Member either to give the names of the Members who had obtained signatures to the Petition under false pretences, or to withdraw the charge.

I took down the words of the hon. Member at the time they were used, and they were "false pretences." ["Order"!]

:I must remind the hon. Gentleman that the hon. Member for Glasgow has disavowed the use of those words.

accepted the disavowal. He himself went to Members of Parliament whose signatures he was anxious to obtain. He went to the noble Lord the Member for Northumberland and the noble Lord the Member for Calne and took them to the Library and directed their attention to the offences for which those men were detained.

desired to express his extreme regret that he had asked the Question that day; in the first place, because it had provoked a reply which would keep alive a sore in Ireland which her well-wishers would desire to see healed; and secondly, because it had provoked a scene and language from hon. Gentlemen which he was sorry to have any part in bringing about. He disavowed any sympathy with the words of the hon. Member behind him (Mr. Biggar), and he (Mr. Brooks) believed that he would speedily regret that he had been led to make use of them. He would on an occasion which would not be remote give the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister an opportunity of replying to that part of the question which concerned the Royal mercy. In Ireland it was believed that justice had been vindicated by the long imprisonment that had been endured by these men, and that the time had come when the Prime Minister could no longer say that mercy could fairly or with justice be withheld from them.

as one of the Members who signed the Petition, desired to repudiate, as far as in him lay, that he could for a moment have solicited pardon for those who had been concerned in murder. He perfectly recollected asking the hon. Member for Mayo (Mr. O'Connor Power), who asked him to sign the Petition, whether it included those men who were concerned in the affair at Manchester or in the affair at Clerkenwell. The hon. Member replied that it was solely intended for the purpose of obtaining the release of those who were concerned in purely political offences.

appealed to the Prime Minister to give a favourable consideration to the Memorial which had been signed by so many hon. Members. He believed that an amnesty for the political prisoners would do much good by calming the feeling of irritation which still prevailed in Ireland.

said, he rose with great regret and some feeling of shame to say that he also was one of those hon. Members who signed the Petition. He could give his support to the statements of the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Anderson), and the hon. Member behind him (Mr. Briggs). When an application was made to him to sign the Petition, he put the question twice distinctly whether it was intended to include and did include men who had shed blood. He was distinctly told that it did not include those who had been convicted of shedding blood at all, and had that assurance not been given his name would never have been put to that Petition. Having heard that day what had been stated by the First Lord of the Treasury, he (Mr. Waddy) was perfectly and entirely satisfied with the statement which had been made. Moreover, considering the temper and language of some hon. Members who had spoken upon the subject, he felt very strongly that it would be dangerous to let forth from their confinement men who were likely to be worked upon by persons in a superior position, but with so little command over their own temper and judgment as to use such language as had been unfortunately heard that evening.

said, he rose on a point of Order, and he desired to explain that the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Briggs) had not accurately represented the scope of his reply in regard to the declaration which he was asked to sign. He (Mr. Power) stated that it did not necessarily call for the release of those who were engaged in the Manchester outrage, and it left upon the Government the responsibility of drawing a line between the different classes of prisoners. ["Oh, oh"!] He recollected very well what he said. The declaration left to the Government the responsibility of drawing a line between those prisoners who had been convicted for offences that were political and those that were non-political. It appeared from the tone of the Prime Minister's observations that he desired to convey the impression that the prisoners still confined were not suffering very severe treatment. He would give the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary an opportunity of bringing the question to the test of examination by calling attention to the subject in the House. As his only object in moving the adjournment of the House was to get an expression of opinion, he was ready to withdraw the Motion.

said, that after the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Disraeli) he could not but think that his hon. Friend the Member for Mayo acted perfectly right in raising the discussion, although there was some inconvenience in discussing how these prisoners should be treated upon a mere question of adjournment. He could not quite concur in the statement that had been made with respect to the Manchester prisoners. He believed there had been no subject in England which had been more misunderstood than the case of those prisoners. Technically, it was undoubtedly a conviction for murder. [Laughter] Hon. Gentlemen who laughed would not do so, if they had the slightest conception of the nature of the English law on that subject. They were convicted without the slightest proof that they went there for the purpose of bloodshed. They were convicted on the well-known principle of English law that if a number of men were engaged in a common illegal enterprize, and that one of them shed blood in the course of that enterprize, even those who never contemplated it were guilty of murder, though they never struck a blow. He said more than that. He might say it was an established rule in a criminal case that a verdict must stand altogether or must fall. What took place here? Why, prisoners who, upon the same verdict, were convicted of capital offences were released two or three days after, because it was clearly proved that the verdict was wrong. The verdict, which was manifestly mistaken, was the same verdict upon which these men were kept in prison. If their offence had had nothing to do with political crime, he believed that they would have been released long ago. They might remember that they were dealing with a remnant—and a small one—of a treasonable conspiracy. The leaders of that conspiracy were released long ago, and the Government were now called upon to consider whether, having released the men who were the leaders, the men who led these soldiers into their crime, the latter should not also receive the benefit of clemency. They must consider whether that would be wise at that time. He believed the releases already made had had a most beneficent effect in Ireland, but that was marred every day by retaining the men who still remained in prison. He did hope they might have an opportunity by-and-bye of fully putting the question before the House, and when they did refer to the case of the soldiers, or that of Davitt, he would appeal with confidence to the justice and generosity of the House to say that the time had now come when they would allow their Sovereign to boast that there was not a single political prisoner confined in any gaol in her dominions.

said, that his name was on the Petition, but no pressure was resorted to to induce him to sign. He found mercy staring him in the face, and he would remind the House that they would all want mercy some day.

said, he had refused to sign the petition for the release of the fenian prisoners as he did not think that they could ask the Government to release prisoners who had been guilty of murder; but he thought the Royal mercy might be extended to the other prisoners convicted of treason only.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Criminal Law—Arrests Under The Vaccination Act—Question

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether it is true that two tradesmen of Leicester (Palmer and Eagle) have been sent to prison for breach of the Vaccination Act, they having ample goods to distrain on; whether they were handcuffed, although they made no resistance whatever; and, whether this is in accordance with law?

in reply, said, he believed the statements in the Question were substantially accurate. He believed the magistrates had the power to commit persons to prison without first issuing a distress. It must be remembered, with regard to that part of the case, that the discretion rested with the magistrates, and also that these persons had only to put their hands in their pockets and pay the money to put an end to the matter. They had plenty of money, and they might have paid if they chose to do so. With regard to the latter part of the Question, he was sorry to say it was true that the men were handcuffed. He could not, however, imagine why a man, because he did not pay a small fine, should be treated in the same way as a man who had committed a criminal offence. It seemed to him an abuse of a petty power which he should do his best to put down in the future.

Post Office—The Telegraph System—Question

asked the Postmaster General, If he will lay on the Table of the House Copy of an Official Report sent by the Postmaster of Glasgow to the Post Office in London, proposing that there should be a Controller of the Telegraph system in the east, west, and north of Scotland, and certain other things?

No official report of the nature indicated in the Question of the hon. Gentleman has been received at the Post Office. I am, therefore, unable to lay it upon the Table of the House.

Turkey—The Berlin Conference

Question

:I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury the following Question, of which I have given him Private Notice:—If it is true, as stated in the public journals, that Her Majesty's Government has declined to join in the new proposals made to the Porte by the Northern Powers at the recent Conference at Berlin?

Yes, Sir; it is true that Her Majesty's Government have been unable to concur in the proposals which have been drawn up by the Governments of Russia, Austria, and Germany, and addressed to the Porte, and which since have been acquiesced in by the Governments of France and Italy; but we have no information at present that those proposals have been formally communicated to the Porte, and until we have that information I think it would not be fair to the Powers concerned if we placed the proposals on the Table.

Parliament—Business Of The House—Questions

wished to know, Whether the right hon. Gentleman could state the commencement and duration of the Whitsuntide Recess?

said, before the Question were answered, he should like to ask whether it was the intention of the right hon. Gentleman to proceed with the Customs and Inland Revenue Bill that evening, and after what hour it would not be taken? Also, whether it was his intention to proceed with the Valuation Bill and the Motion relating to the exclusion of strangers?

Sir, we do not intend to proceed with the Committee on the Customs and Inland Revenue Bill after half-past 10;but in case the Merchant Shipping Bill does not occupy much time, we propose to go on with it. Under these circumstances I do not think I need say anything about the Valuation Bill. With regard to the Notice which I have given respecting the Business of the House and the Exclusion of Strangers, I think it would be inconvenient to bring that subject forward at a late period, and I will see what arrangements can be made that will least interfere with Public Business. I will then communicate with the noble Lord and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Londonderry (Mr. Charles Lewis) who has taken an interest in the matter. With respect to the holidays, I intend to propose that the House should sit on Thursday, the 1st of June, and rise that evening, and meet again on the following Thursday.

Merchant Shipping Bill—Bill 49

( Sir Charles Adderley, Mr. Edward Stanhope.)

Consideration

Bill, as amended, considered.

On the Motion of Sir CHARLES ADDERKEY, the following new clauses were brought up, read a first and second time, amended, and added to the Bill.

After Clause 17, insert the following clause:—

(Provisions of signals of distress, inextinguishable lights, and life buoys in passenger steamers and emigrant ships.—36 & 37 Vic. c. 85, s. 18.—See 17 & 18 Vic. c. 104, s. 301.)
"Every sea-going steamship and every emigrant ship shall be provided to the satisfaction of the Board of Trade—
  • "(1.) With means for making the signals of distress at night specified in the First Schedule to 'The Merchant Shipping Act, 1873,'or in any rules substituted therefor, including means of making flames on the ship which are inextinguishable in water, or such other means of making signals of distress as the Board of Trade may previously approve; and
  • "(2.) With a proper supply of lights inextinguishable in water and fitted for attachment to life buoys.
  • "If any such ship goes to sea from any port of the United Kingdom without being so provided as required by this section, for each default in any of the above requisites the owner shall, if he appears to be in fault, incur a penalty not exceeding one hundred pounds, and the master shall, if he appears to be in fault, incur a penalty not exceeding fifty pounds."

    Page 16, after Clause 32, insert the following clause:—

    "Nothing in this Act shall apply to any ship whilst on the inland waters of Canada."

    moved, after Clause 3, to insert a new clause providing that all masters in command of British merchant ships should orderly perform, or cause to be performed, Divine service in their respective ships on the Lord's Day, and should, as far as possible, cause Sunday to be observed as a day of rest for the crew.

    Clause (Observance of the Sabbath,)—( Captain Pim,)— brought up, and read the first time.

    Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be now read a second time."

    said, that the Government could not, as he had said in Committee—interfere with merchant ships in this particular any more than they could enforce such an observance in a private household. He must therefore oppose the clause.

    Question put, and negatived.

    proposed a new clause providing that all applicants for examination as masters, mates, and engineers, if of foreign birth, should produce papers of naturalization, showing that the applicant had been for three years previously in the exercise of the rights of a British subject.

    Clause (Foreign masters and officers,)—( Captain Pim,)— brought up, and read the first time.

    Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be now read a second time,"

    objected to the clause, on the ground that it would interfere with the right of owners to contract with whatever captains they might select to command their vessels. He could see no reason why owners, being British subjects, should not employ Norwegians or any other foreigners for that purpose.

    Question put, and negatived.

    proposed a new clause, providing that any captain or person in command of a vessel under the British flag who neglected to take soundings, thereby causing the loss of such vessel, should be deemed guilty of a misdemeanour.

    Clause (Neglect of taking soundings,)—( Captain Pim,)— brought up, and read the first time.

    Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be now read a second time."

    objected to the clause, on the ground that a special regulation with regard to neglect of soundings might imply that other kinds of neglect were less important. There were general provisions against all neglect of duty.

    Question put, and negatived.

    proposed a new clause, containing provisions whereby the justices of the peace for a county might establish training ships for the purpose of training boys for the sea service.

    Clause (Training schools and ships,)—( Captain Pim,)— brought up, and read the first time.

    Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be now read a second time."

    objected to the clause as not coming within the scope of the Bill. He declined to enter on the merits of the proposition.

    Question put, and negatived.

    moved, after Clause 5, to insert a clause providing that an action for damages might be brought against the owner of a vessel in case of death by default of the owner.

    Clause (Action for damages against owner in case of death from default of owner,)—( Captain Pim,)— brought up, and read the first time.

    Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be now read a second time."

    objected to the clause, on the ground that it was superfluous. The first part was provided by the 5th clause of this Bill, and the rest was a repetition verbatim of Lord Campbell's Act.

    Question put, and negatived.

    moved, after Clause 5, to insert the following clause:—

    "If a managing owner, ship's husband, or agent of any vessel, deems it necessary to ask for a survey of seaworthiness in hull, machinery, equipments, stowage, or stores for the conveyance of cargo, the Board of Trade shall, through a Board of Trade surveyor, order the vessel to be surveyed on payment of the survey fees, and in the same manner as if called upon to survey by one-fourth of the crew."
    This privilege did exist until a short time ago, when the Board of Trade issued an order to their surveyors not to make such surveys.

    Clause (Managing owners may require survey of vessel,)—( Mr. Gourley,) brought up, and read the first time.

    Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be now read a second time."

    said, that the adoption of the clause would place on the Government a responsibility—namely, that of a general Government survey of all ships—which was especially excluded by the Bill before the House and in every Act previously passed upon the subject. It was incompatible with the objects of the Bill and antagonistic to its principles, and he must ask the House to resist the Motion. The only ground upon which the Government undertook the survey of passenger ships was the safety of passengers, and the same ground did not apply to all ships carrying cargo, with seafaring crews who knew what they were about.

    said, the Board of Trade had formerly taken a more reasonable view of this question of survey. The present proposals of the Government were most objectionable, for to encourage surveys on complaint of the crew was practically to encourage insubordination, and led directly towards such cases as those of the Lennie and the Caswell. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House were quite mistaken in supposing that the legislation of 1873 and of last Session had worked satisfactorily in relation to survey, and nobody seemed to understand the incidence of their own legislation less than the various statesmen who had from time to time directed the operations of the Board of Trade. So far from being advantageous to British shipowners, the actual result of recent legislation was simply the depreciation of British shipping. Good second-class ships were now unsaleable almost at any price, and the only buyers were foreigners who would not give half their value. The hon. Gentleman then read a telegram from Messrs. C. W. Kellock and Co. in confirmation of these statements, and concluded by supporting the clause moved by the hon. Member for Sunderland.

    would not follow the hon. Member who had just spoken into a discussion of the Act of 1873. The question before the House was, whether any shipowner having a doubtful ship should be permitted to obtain a survey from the Board of Trade? It appeared to him that a dishonest shipowner might avail himself of the proposal, and by hoodwinking the surveyors as to the real nature of the vessel, get a certificate of seaworthiness. This was the most dangerous form of Government survey ever proposed to the House, and he was glad the right hon. Gentleman would not listen to it.

    said, that the object of his hon. Friend was good, but the clause was a bad one. If it were carried, a shipowner had only to get a seaman to write a letter to the Board of Trade and send a sensational telegraph to the hon. Member for Derby, and he would get his vessel surveyed and compensation besides for detention.

    Question put, and negatived.

    moved, after Clause 15, to insert a clause providing that all British passenger ships making long voyages should take one man from the Royal Marines for every 500 tons, for the purpose of instructing the crew in fire drill, &c., except in time of war; contending that such a provision would prove beneficial both for the naval and merchant service.

    Clause (British passenger ships making long voyages to take disciplined men to teach fire drill, &c.,)—( Captain Pim,)— brought up, and read the first time.

    Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be now read a second time."

    Question put, and negatived.

    in proposing a clause, in lieu of Clause 22, relating to the load-line and the displacement of a ship, said, it was the last he should offer to the House. What he had proposed had been from a sense of duty, because he knew of the present horrible state of the Mercantile Marine, on which we depended for the food we ate, and which, if a war broke out, would leave us to be blockaded as completely as Metz or Paris. He, however, would not proceed unless the Government gave him some hopes of their support.

    Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

    moved the insertion of a clause, after Clause 37, to provide that under certain circumstances power should be given to local authorities to reduce local light dues, subject to the approval of the Privy Council.

    Clause (Power to reduce local light dues,)—( Mr. Sykes,)— brought up, and read the first time.

    Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be now read a second time."

    wanted to know, in the event of the proposal being adopted, whether any charge would be thrown on the Consolidated Fund to make good the amount of light dues asked to be remitted?

    maintained that the clause was out of place, as the Bill had nothing whatever to do with light dues.

    admitted it was foreign to the general scope of the Bill, but it would prove a convenient measure, as it would enable such bodies as the Hull Trinity House to take the action they desired in the way of reducing tolls, without being put to the expense of promoting a private Bill. General lighthouse authorities had the power, and it was desirable that local authorities should by Order in Council be able to do the same.

    contended that that was not a sufficient argument for the introduction of the clause.

    held that any proposal with respect to light dues ought to be brought forward as a separate measure.

    took a similar view, and reminded the House that he had only very recently presented to the Prime Minister a memorial on the subject of lights.

    objected to its introduction into the Shipping Bill. The subject ought to be dealt with on its own merits.

    said, that after the expression of feeling which had taken place, it would be more convenient to withdraw the Amendment, which in his opinion went beyond the immediate scope of the Bill.

    Motion and clause, by leave, withdrawn.

    moved a clause to the effect that in all vessels with a passenger certificate from the Board of Trade when the passengers are in excess of the number which can be carried in the ordinary boats in the event of disaster at sea, such vessels should, in addition to such boats, be required to provide means for saving life by rafts or other appliances in such proportion as the Board of Trade might deem sufficient, and it should be in the discretion of the Board of Trade to allow shipowners to substitute rafts for a portion of the boats, such rafts to be approved by the Board, of Trade.

    Clause (Provision for rafts and other appliances for safety of life,)—( Colonel Beresford,)— brought up, and read the first time.

    Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be now read a second time."

    thought the law as it stood was far better than the clause which the hon. and gallant Gentleman had proposed. His clause would require the deck to be crowded with a number of boats, two-thirds of which probably would become rotten and unusable, and certainly all of them could not be lowered or manned in case of emergency. The law provided for an ample number, and gave the Board of Trade power to alter the scale when desirable.

    said, the President of the Board of Trade was not aware of the progress of invention in life-saving appliances. The Admiralty had ordered 28 Berthon canvas boats to be stowed away conveniently in transport ships, and each ship could carry a sufficient quantity to receive every one on board in case of shipwreck. A boat of 30 feet long could be folded up into 2½ feet of space, like a cocked hat. This indifference and ignorance of the Board of Trade would continue the wasteful loss of life which might be easily prevented.

    suggested that life belts should be added to the proposal of the hon. and gallant Member, so that some second chance of safety should be provided for all. As to what had been called cocked hat boats, he feared they would have the same tendency to go below as the captain of a man-of-war in a fog.

    thought encouragement should be given to the carrying of large life rafts on board ship, and that ships should be allowed to carry no more than a certain number of passengers.

    thought the proposed clause would not be the means of saving life, but might have the reverse effect.

    believed that the Board of Trade already had sufficient powers in reference to that subject, and that no new enactments were necessary.

    said, the difficulty with regard to boats was to get them launched safely. If rafts were substituted for one or two boats, he believed it would tend to save life.

    Question put.

    The House divided:—Ayes 85; Noes 178: Majority 93.

    in moving the following clause:—

    "That from and after the first day of January, 1877, every British ship exceeding 100 tons register shall be provided with a certificate of classification or of survey from Lloyd's Register of British and Foreign Shipping, or the Liverpool Underwriters' Registry, or the Bureau Veritas,or from such other association or associations as the Board of Trade may from time to time sanction for the purpose; or a certificate of survey from the surveyor or surveyors appointed by the local marine board of the district, such surveyors to be taken from a list approved of by the Board of Trade from time to time. Such certificate shall state the fitness of the vessel for the trade in which she is employed, and the period for which such certificate is granted. Provided always, That this shall not apply to vessels having passenger or other certificates from the Board of Trade, or to any vessel or vessels which the Board of Trade may from time to time exempt,"
    said, he had placed the conditions of survey on the broadest basis. He did not confine shipowners to any one association, and all he required was a test of mere seaworthiness. The clause did not require ships to be certified A 1, or according to any letter. The surveyors could not be appointed by a better qualified body than the Local Marine Board. He proposed to exempt vessels under 100 tons from the operation of the clause, in order not to harass the owners of small coasting vessels. The effect of the clause would be to lessen interference on the part of the Board of Trade with the Mercantile Marine, and to get rid of the Courts of Survey Appeals, which would entail a large and unnecessary expenditure. What he asked for was additional security against loss of life at sea.

    Clause (Certificates of classification of British ships,)—( Mr. David Jenkins,)— brought up, and read the first time.

    Motion made, and Question, proposed, "That the Clause be now read a second time."

    supported the clause, and hoped the Board of Trade would display its wisdom in accepting it. It was one of three or four points, the discussion upon which would determine whether the Bill was to be an efficient one for its purpose, or whether it would be such an illusory measure that those who had been engaged in the movement for the protection of life at sea would have to renew and continue it. The hon. Member for Falmouth who proposed the clause had for many years been a captain of merchant seamen, he was now an extensive shipowner, and in both capacities had much experience. The clause met all the objections which had been urged against somewhat similar attempts. It did not throw upon the Board of Trade the duty of detaining and surveying all unclassed ships, nor incurring the risk of damages and compensation if they were improperly delayed. It would not relieve the shipowner in the slightest degree from the responsibility which attached to him as to sending his ship to sea in a seaworthy state; while at the same time it secured such a satisfactory and complete certificate of seaworthiness that within a twelvemonth every ship that did not meet the proper requirements would be swept from the seas. He implored the Government, for their own sakes, to accept the clause and the House to pass it.

    supported the clause, and thought it would lessen the work of the Board of Trade. Much as he objected to compulsory classification in certain forms, he felt the Government proposals with respect to survey were so bad, that something must be done to improve them, both in the interest of the shipowners and the public. The clause of the hon. Member for Falmouth seemed to him to provide all the security which could be required with, the minimum of interferences.

    said, he objected to the proposed clause, because it presented in slightly altered terms, but essentially the same in substance, a principle which had been already discussed at great length on three separate occasions, and upon each de- cided by a large adverse majority. The Board of Trade would not be justified in detaining any ship which they had not reason to believe was unseaworthy, compensation was secured for unreasonable detention, and any person lodging a complaint in reference to a ship except one-fourth of a crew would be obliged to give security for costs. No injustice could, therefore, in the end result from the detention of a vessel, even though, she were found on survey to be seaworthy. He would not farther enter into the question of detail. The simple fact was, that the clause was identical in principle with that moved by the hon. Member for Derby when in Committee, and was antagonistic to the principle on which the Bill was founded, which threw the responsibility as to the safe condition of ships on the shipowners themselves. The objection that had been taken to previous similar suggestions, as to their throwing private societies into partnership with the Government, applied also to this. Butthere was a more objectionable point in this suggestion. There could not be a worse body to elect surveyors than the Local Marine Boards, because they consisted of the shipowners of the district, or of those immediately connected with them. The proposal of the hon. Member for Falmouth, therefore, amounted to allowing shipowners to certify the seaworthiness of their own ships. The effect of the clause would not be to relieve the Board of Trade from the duty of interfering with the Mercantile Marine, but the opposite. It would first offer to secure for the shipowner a guarantee of safety from a private society, or else from the Government; but as the Government certificate would be the easiest to procure, being necessarily of a minimum standard, in time the Government would supersede the private societies, and have the task of certifying all, or the risk of an implied certificate when its power failed of reaching all in reality. If the House should adopt the new principle proposed by the hon. Member, it would undo all they had done, and the Bill might as well, in fact, fall to the ground. He therefore confidently appealed to the House to reject the clause.

    observed, that if surveyors were wanted, and it was deemed necessary to appoint persons to control this branch of the trade of the country, those persons ought to be appointed by the Government, and ought not to consist of men appointed by a voluntary society like that of Lloyd's, who elected themselves and were not responsible to any one.

    Question put.

    The House divided:—Ayes 60; Noes 98: Majority 38.

    Clause 4 (Sending unseaworthy ships to sea a misdemeanour).

    moved, as an Amendment, in page 1, line 16, to leave out "British." Wherever their cases were parallel all vessels should be treated alike. We had a perfect right to prescribe the conditions under which cargo was to be shipped. We already did so in regard to passengers, and we had an equal right to prescribe the conditions under which either cargo or passengers were to be received; and in each case without distinction of nationality, and certainly without affording any ground for fears of retaliation on the part of foreign States so long as our regulations were reasonable. The practical question was the reasonableness of the regulations. If it was the intention of the Board of Trade to continue to interfere unreasonably with British shipping, he at once admitted the necessity of very great caution in extending such regulations to foreign vessels in our ports; but he hoped it was not yet too late for the Government to re-consider some of the provisions of this Bill. No foreign State would long tolerate the extended system of Board of Trade espionage provided for British shipping under Clause 6, and the criminal liabilities under Clause 4 were equally objectionable and likely to be equally useless. But whatever these criminal liabilities were, whether they were intended to be real or only intended to be a kind of "scarecrow,"he felt that they ought not to be confined to British shipping. They ought, if they were such as should be applied at all, to be applied equally—as regards persons residents in British ports—in the case of all vessels despatched from British ports. The crime surely did not depend upon the flag. He thought he had left the Board of Trade in a dilemma. If they meant to legislate reasonably, his Amendment could not be resisted, but the acceptance of his Amendment clearly involved others. Surely the Government would not disregard the views of every seaport in the Kingdom on such a matter. It was the undisputed fact that respectable ship-owning opinion everywhere was opposed to this clause.

    Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 16, to leave out the word "British."—( Mr. Mac Iver.)

    said, that the hon. Member appeared to know the intentions of the Government on the subject better than they did themselves, and the opinion of the seaports better than their Representatives in that House. The Government could not accept the Amendment, which would be absolutely impracticable. If carried, it would affect to make every shipowner, of whatever nationality, at whatever port in the world, who sent a ship to sea in an unseaworthy state, guilty of a misdemeanour in England. He need hardly say it was not competent for them to do that.

    as one of those who were anxious to extend the operation of this measure to foreign shipowners, felt that it was perfectly impossible to adopt the rough-and-ready plan of the hon. Member for Birkenhead.

    said, he was sorry he was not able to support the Amendment, because the hon. Member for Birkenhead had given great attention to the subject, and had made many remarks in these discussions which had been listened to with great pleasure by the House.

    Question, "That the word 'British' stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.

    in moving, as an Amendment, in page 1, line 20, to leave out from "misdemeanour" to the end of the clause, said, he did so for the purpose of raising discussion on that portion of the clause which allowed a shipowner to give evidence in his own defence. This was regarded as a privilege, but it was in reality an obligation and a hardship. Evidence would be expected from people who had none to give, and innocent men might find. themselves in real difficulty if "allowed," or in other words "expected," to prove their innocence.

    Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 20, to leave out after the word "misdemeanor," to the word "conviction," in page 2, line 8.—( Mr. Mac Iver.)

    protested against the provision in this clause which allowed a shipowner charged with misdemeanour to be examined as a witness in his own favour.

    Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.

    Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 24, to leave out from the word "Where" to the words "as follows," in line 30, inclusive.—( Mr. Mac Iver.)

    Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.

    Clause 6 (Power to detain unsafe ships and procedure for such detention).

    On the Motion of Sir CHARLES ADDERLEY, the following Amendments were made:—

    In page 2, line 35, after "detained," insert "there shall be forthwith served on the master, agent, or owner of the ship a written statement of the grounds of her detention, and."
    In page 3, line 12, after "overloading," insert "and with the consent of the Board of Trade where a ship has been provisionally detained on any other ground."

    In sub-section (9), page 3, line 36, after "Trade," insert "with the consent of the Treasury."

    Clause, as amended, agreed to.

    Clause 10 (Liability of Board of Trade and shipowner for costs and damages).

    On the Motion of Sir COLMAN O'LOGHLEN, Amendment made, in page 6, line 5, after the word "sole," by inserting—

    "And if the cause of action arises in Ireland, and the party aggrieved resides there, he may bring his action in any of the Superior Courts of Common Law in Ireland, and a copy of the summons or writ left at the office of the Queen's Proctor in Dublin, shall be sufficient service of the same on the Secretary of the Board of Trade."

    Clause, as amended, agreed to.

    Clause 11 (Power to require from complainant security for costs).

    moved, as an Amendment, to omit the second paragraph of the clause, which provided that where a complaint was made by one-fourth of the seamen, and was not frivolous or vexatious, security from the complainant should not be required. The clause, as it stood in the Bill, would tend greatly to increase insubordination.

    Amendment proposed, in page 6, line 10, to leave out after the word "mentioned" to the word "Where," in line 18.—( Mr. Mac Iver.)

    thought the clause required modification, but he could not support the proposal of the hon. Member.

    hoped that the House would not re-open this discussion or alter the existing law and the Bill by striking out this portion of the clause.

    thought this part of the clause mischievous, and challenged the President of the Board of Trade to get up in his place and say it would work. The want of discipline on board ship was caused in a great measure by the knowledge among the seamen that this provision existed.

    said, that as the House had now agreed not to have a general survey, but merely to institute one in special cases, he thought the clause should stand in its present shape.

    opposed the Amendment. He thought there was a good deal of merit in the clause as it stood. He would remind the House that the clause provided against frivolous and vexatious complaints by the men, but would suggest that the word "seamen" should be limited by the introduction of "able" or "able and ordinary"so as to exclude stewards, cooks, cabin-boys, and other persons who in some cases outnumbered the seamen.

    said, it would be necessary, in a case of law to define the term "able seamen,"and that he thought would be a difficult matter.

    said, the words "able seamen" would exclude engineers and stokers, who might really know much more of the state of the ship than the deck hands.

    Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.

    moved, as an Amendment, in page 6, lines 19 and 20, to leave out the words "the complaint was made without reasonable and probable cause," in order to insert the words, "she was not at the time of such complaint unsafe within the meaning of this Act."

    Amendment proposed,

    In page 6, line 19, to leave out after the word "That" to the word "cause," in line 20, inclusive, in order to insert the words "she was not at the time of such complaint unsafe within the meaning of this Act."—(Sir Charles Adderley.)

    Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."

    said, if the Amendment were made, the Board of Trade would get very little information about unseaworthy ships, for however reasonable complaints might be, this alteration would make those who raised them liable for the costs if the vessel afterwards turned out to be safe.

    urged that no objection had been raised by the hon. Member when the Bill was in Committee. The proposal was to make the same provision when the detention was caused by the seamen as when it occurred by the interference of the Board of Trade.

    said he was in favour of retaining the clause as it stood. The Amendment, if adopted, would render the clause nugatory.

    said, the Amendment was not consistent with the general provisions of the Bill. The Board of Trade might very well be made liable for costs which a private person was quite unable to bear, and that therefore a different rule might obtain in the latter case.

    said, there was no reason for making Clauses 10 and 11 in exact harmony. The clauses had better remain as they were.

    said, that different considerations arose on Clauses 10 and 11, and he objected to the proposed Amendment.

    said, he would withdraw his Amendment, and have both clauses re-considered in "another place."

    also objected to the course proposed by the right hon. Gentleman. He could not consent to the Bill leaving the House in an imperfect state and the whole thing changed in "another place."They were bound to make the Bill as complete as they could before it left that House, and he saw no reason why the Amendment should be withdrawn.

    said, the course proposed by the Government was a most inconvenient one. The Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman was a very proper one, and ought to be dealt with by the House. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would adhere to it.

    Question put.

    The House divided:—Ayes 68; Noes 122: Majority 54.

    thought the House had every reason to complain of the conduct of the Government in this instance, and said he should divide the House on the Amendment. The President of the Board of Trade having accepted an Amendment, went into the Lobby against it.

    I beg leave to say that I did not accept any Amendment. I was willing, with the permission of the House, to withdraw mine in order that the matter might be considered in "another place."

    also complained of the course pursued by the Government. The Amendment proposed by the right hon. Gentleman seemed to diminish the chief security in the Bill for life—namely, the power of detention.

    maintained that there was no justification for the complaint that had been made with regard to the course pursued by the Government. The House having declined to let the matter stand over for consideration in "another place," the Government could not have done anything else than support their own Amendment.

    Question, "That the words 'she was not at the time of such complaint unsafe within the meaning of this Act,' be there inserted," put, and agreed to.

    proposed to amend the clause by providing that in cases of urgency the owner of a passenger ship might, instead of appealing, require a Board of Trade surveyor to again make a survey, accompanied by such persons as he might select from the list of assessors, when, if they agreed, their decision would be regarded as if rendered by the Board of Trade itself; and if they differed the matter should be referred to the decision of the Board of Trade in the same manner as if the requisition had not been made.

    who supported it, said it would enable the owner of a passenger steamer, instead of going to a Court of Inquiry, to ask the Board of Trade surveyor to survey the vessel in company with an assessor. If the two agreed it would not be necessary to go to a Court of Inquiry; but if they disagreed, that course would be necessary.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Clause, as amended, agreed to.

    Clause 18 (Stowage of cargo of grain &c.).

    moved as an Amendment, an addition to the clause, dealing with grain cargoes, which would secure that in the case of vessels loading at the ports which were reached through the Straits of Gibraltar and those which were in the Baltic Sea the grain on the starboard side of the ship should at the least be entirely separated from that on the port side, and that not less than one-third of the grain cargo should be in sacks, bags, or barrels. The hon. Member assured the House that the Amendment he proposed was the minimum provision they could make consistently with the safety of vessels carrying grain cargoes across the Bay of Biscay as a means of preventing the shifting of the cargo from side to side.

    Amendment proposed,

    In page 10, line 16, after the word "otherwise," to insert the words "in such a manner in the case of vessels loading at the ports which are reached through the Straits of Gibraltar and those which are in the Baltic Sea as that the grain on the right or starboard side of the ship shall at the least be securely and entirely separated from that on the left or port side, and that not less than one-third of the grain cargo shall be in sacks, bags, or barrels."—(Mr. Plimsoll.)

    thought the Amendment much too minute, and that a better security for the purpose in view was given by the general penalty on insecure stowage. Besides the only officers boarding all ships arriving did not stay long enough to ascertain such minute particulars even if it were desirable to enact them.

    hoped the hon. Member for Derby would withdraw the Amendment, concurring in the objections taken to it by the President of the Board of Trade.

    expressed his opinion that the clause as it stood would be inoperative for the purposes it contemplated, and said he thought the Motion of the hon. Member for Derby should be accepted.

    suggested that the Board of Trade should in each case send a surveyor on board to see that grain cargoes were properly stowed.

    thought it impossible the provision just proposed could be carried out. The Custom House officers went on board in search of contraband tobacco and spirits, and having made the search turned off to board the next vessel, but were they to remain on board until the goods were taken out of the hold in order to ascertain how the cargo had been stowed, it would become necessary to employ a far greater number of them than at present, and that would necessitate a Supplementary Vote.

    Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and negatived.

    in moving, as an Amendment, in page 10, line 17, to leave out the word "British," said he did so in order to bring before the House a point of great importance—namely, that as the clause stood it would place the owner of a British ship carrying a grain cargo under a most stringent regulation, while it would place the foreign shipowner under no such restrictions whatever. If the Bill passed in that form, it would tend very much to drive British ships out of the trade.

    Amendment proposed, in page 10, line 17, to leave out the word "British." ( Sir W. Vernon Harcourt.)

    Question proposed, "That the word 'British' stand part of the Bill."

    thought that, under any circumstances, the Amendment would only apply to foreign ships arriving in our ports laden with grain.

    said, experience showed that foreigners were more careful of themselves and of their stowage of grain cargoes than the English, and he hoped the Government would let the clause stand as it was. The foreigner would either have to conform or he would lose his share of the carrying trade.

    supported the Amendment, remarking that he was glad to hear that foreigners were more careful than the English showed themselves to be in the matter of grain cargoes. At the present moment we were importing grain in large quantities from the Black Sea in a very unprotected manner.

    said, the Government showed their sense of the gravity of dealing with foreigners in such penal enactments by shrinking from putting clauses with this object into the Bill in the first instance. It was a step which no Government before had attempted to take, and it was only after a strong expression of opinion from the House that they decided to adopt such an extended application in the most cautious, careful, and limited manner, not, as the hon. and learned Member for Oxford seemed to think, in an unlimited and reckless way. He now proposed to them to impose a penalty on a foreign shipowner, agent, or master which would be difficult, if not impossible to carry out. We certainly could not punish foreigners for acts not committed within our jurisdiction. He must oppose the Amendment.

    wished to know whether the Government had not re- ceived a very strong representation from Canada with reference to the clause, and whether they had not asked either that all foreign vessels should be placed on the same footing with British, or else that Canadian shipping should be excluded from the operation of the Bill?

    said, that this was a repetition of the clause which appeared in the Bill of last year.

    said, there were two distinct questions raised, one was as to the general question of the fairness of the clause as it stood, and its relation to other clauses of the Bill; the other question arose with reference to Canada. The Canadian Government had been watching with considerable interest, and some uneasiness, the course of legislation on this subject. A very intelligent gentleman was over here from Canada who was well acquainted with the subject, and since he had seen the provisions made, he had felt that great part of the discontent of Canada would be modified by the alterations made. The Canadian Government did suggest either that Canadian ships should, be excluded altogether from the operation of the Bill, or that British and foreign vessels should be treated on the same footing. As to the idea of putting Canadian ships on a different footing from British ships, he did not think the Canadian Government would, on deliberation, be inclined to favour it. It would be most unfortunate to establish such a distinction between Canadian and British vessels. The object was to place foreign ships as far as could be done in the position not only of Canadian but of all British ships. The Government were not neglecting the matter and would give it their careful consideration. With regard to grain cargoes the clause was practically the clause which had been in operation for the last twelve months, and he did not think that Canadian ships would be subject to any inconvenience from it. It was necessary that some discretion should be allowed with respect to grain cargoes, particularly so far as respected foreign ships.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    moved, as an Amendment, in page 10, line 21, the insertion of the words—

    "And it shall be the duty of the officer of customs placed on board any ship carrying grain cargo into any port of the United Kingdom to report to the Board of Trade what proportion of the said grain cargo were in bags or sacks, and whether the shifting boards were carried down to the keelson or screw-tunnel of the vessel, and if not, to what depth they were carried down."

    Amendment proposed,

    In page 10, line 21, after the word "conviction," to insert the words "and it shall be the duty of the officer of Customs placed on board any ship carrying grain cargo into any port in the United Kingdom to report to the Board of Trade what proportion of the said grain cargo was in bags or sacks, and whether the shifting boards were carried down to the keelson or screw tunnel of the vessel, and if not to what depth they were carried down."—(Mr. Plimsoll.)

    opposed the Amendment, believing that it would be impracticable to carry out the proposals of the hon. Member.

    considered it desirable that somebody should go on board every grain ship and report whether the cargo was properly stowed, and he trusted the President of the Board of Trade would assent to a provision of that kind. The other day they were all shocked by the Return which had been laid on the Table of the House respecting the loss of life in these grain ships, one of the most appalling documents that had ever been laid before the country. He considered that the hon. Member for Derby was right in proposing the Amendment, and would suggest to him the propriety of his making his provision more general, and directing the Custom House officer to make a Report to the Board of Trade on the subject.

    Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and negatived.

    moved to add to the clause a Proviso, that nothing contained in the section should affect Canadian vessels not sailing or discharging at ports of the United Kingdom. The Canadian Government were fully alive to their duties, and had already taken the initiative in this matter, but they were the fourth maritime nation in the world, and they had very important interests at stake, which it was desirable to protect.

    Amendment proposed,

    In page 10, line 21, after the word "conviction," to insert the words "Provided, That nothing in this section contained shall apply to or affect Canadian vessels not sailing to or discharging at ports of the United Kingdom."—(Mr. Edward Jenkins.)

    was afraid it would require special legislation in order to define what a Canadian vessel was. He objected to the Amendment principally, however, because it would be injudicious to legislate in this Bill exceptionally for Canada and to draw invidious distinctions in her favour.

    Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and negatived.

    Clause 19 (Space occupied by certain deck cargo to be liable to dues).

    On the Motion of SIR CHARLES ADDERLEY, Amendment made in page 10, line 31, by inserting after "goods," the words "at the time at which such dues become payable."

    moved the omission of the clause, on the ground that it was useless and unworkable. He believed it had been passed under a misapprehension, and that there had been no intention of exempting vessels engaged in the home trade from the operation of the Bill.

    supported the Amendment. The House was really not aware how it had committed itself by adopting a system of exemption which extended to nine-tenths of the deck cargoes of the home trade.

    did not believe the Committee had passed the clause in such a total misapprehension. The clause had been well considered in Committee, and he hoped the House would not now re-open the question with which it had dealt so decisively.

    Motion made, and Question, "That Clause 19, as amended, stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.

    Clause 20 (Penalty on ships carrying deck loads of timber in winter).

    on this clause, which provided that no ship, British or foreign, arriving at any port in the United Kingdom, which had sailed from any port after the 1st of October, &c., should carry deck cargo, moved to substitute the 1st of September, as many of the heaviest gales took place in October.

    Amendment proposed, in page 11, line 5, to leave out the word "October," in order to insert the word "September."—( Mr. Macgregor.)

    Question proposed, "That the word 'October' stand part of the Bill."

    explained that the date was fixed to meet the Canadian law. The proposed alteration would in fact impose a penalty on the Canadian timber trade, in the very enactment meant to meet it, and he could not assent to it.

    said, he would withdraw his proposal; but in doing so would express a hope that an effort would be made to induce the Canadians to alter their law so as to prohibit deck cargoes in the month of October.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    On the Motion of Sir CHARLES ADDERLEY, Amendment made in page 11, line 6, by leaving out from "carry," to "any timber," in line 9, and inserting "as deck cargo, that is to say, in any uncovered space upon deck, or in any covered space not included in the cubical contents forming the ship's registered tonnage."

    moved the omission of certain words in the clause with the view of the insertion of the words "deals and battens as deck cargo" after the word "timber;" the object being to prohibit the carrying of such cargo as dangerous, and thus practically the carrying of all deck loads of timber in winter. Between the 1st October last year and the 31st January of the present year as many as 45 vessels sailing from ports in the North of Europe alone were lost in consequence of the practice of carrying deck cargo.

    Amendment proposed, in page 11, line 9, after the word "timber," to leave out all the words to the word "deck," in line 11, inclusive, in order to insert the words "deals or battens."—( Mr. Plimsoll.)

    Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."

    opposed the Amendment, on the ground that it would be unwise to impose a penalty upon the regulations of Canada and increase irritation between the two countries in the very act of assimilating the laws of both. At all events, if it were wise to make this further alteration, we had better make the Amendment together, after having first got ourselves on common ground.

    maintained that the Canadians had made no objections on the subject, but the right hon. Gentleman had made the position. The correspondence proved distinctly that the Canadian Parliament had expressed their willingness to concur in any law we might pass provided foreigners were placed on the same footing as themselves.

    declared that some of the leading "Mutual Insurance"associations in the North had for some time past refused to insure vessels carrying deck loads. Deals were one of the most dangerous cargoes that could be carried in the winter months, and therefore he should vote for the Amendment.

    said, this was the most important clause of the Bill, and ought not to be disposed of without the fullest consideration. To allow a ship to be piled up on deck with battens and timber would materially interfere with her free working.

    reminded the House that the clause dealt with a very delicate question, in that it would refer not only to the condition in which ships reached this country, but that in which they sailed from the ports at which they loaded. In framing the clause an attempt had been made to adopt the Canadian law, so as to have precisely similar regulations at the ports of departure and arrival. The House was now asked to go beyond that law, and he confessed that he had heard no arguments to induce him to believe that it was desirable to pass a law more stringent than the Canadians had done. The representative of the Canadian Government, who was at present in this country, was desirous that the clause should be left as it now stood.

    did not think it followed that because Canada, when tying her own hands, had legislated in a particular manner she would object to a measure in the same direction which only extended to her the provision which it was deemed necessary to apply to other countries.

    Question put.

    The House divided:—Ayes 143; Noes 162: Majority 19.

    Question, "That the words 'deals or battens' be there inserted," put, and agreed to.

    Amendment proposed, in page 11, line 12, to leave out the word "is," in order to insert the words "deals or battens be."—( Sir Charles Adderley.)

    Question proposed, "That the word 'is' stand part of the Bill."

    moved, on account of the lateness of the hour, that the debate should be adjourned.

    expressed a hope that as the remaining Amendments were mostly of a formal character the Bill might be proceeded with.

    Motion made, and Question, "That the Debate be now adjourned,"—( Mr. Parnell,)—put, and negatived.

    Question, "That the word 'is' stand part of the Bill," put, and negatived.

    Other Amendments made.

    Clause, as amended, agreed to.

    Clause 22 (Marking of load line).

    moved an Amendment on the clause, with the object of securing that the loading of a ship should be in conformity with the principle of a sufficiency of surplus buoyancy, as customary for the description of the vessel and the circumstances of the voyage.

    Amendment proposed,

    In page 12, line 8, after the word "mark," to insert the words "in conformity with the principle of a sufficiency of surplus buoyancy as customary for the description of vessel and the circumstances of the voyage."—(Mr. Charles Wilson.)

    said, that an owner might fix an improper load-line, no doubt; but still he did not think that the Amendment now proposed would work well. The object of the hon. Member would be better attained by inserting in the 2nd sub-section words to the effect that the disc line should be placed at such a draught of water as to the best of his judgment was a safe and proper immersion. That would require the owner to fix an honest load-line.

    agreed with the hon. Member who had just spoken. He considered the Amendment proposed had no meaning whatever. That a ship should be loaded sufficiently and as was customary was no definition at all.

    Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and negatived.

    then proposed the insertion in the clause, after the word "centre," of the words—

    "In a position approved as reasonable either by the builder of the ship or some other independent and competent authority."
    He made the proposal, he said, by way of Amendment on the owner's line pure and simple, which was admitted by every one who was practically acquainted with the matter to be a delusion and a snare.

    Amendment proposed,

    In page 12, line 13, after the word "centre," to insert the words "in a position approved as reasonable either by the builder of the ship or some other independent and competent authority."—(Mr. Plimsoll.)

    took an entirely different view from that of the hon. Member of the clause as it stood, and said experience had shown, and the Chief Surveyors had reported, that at all the principal ports in the country the disc had been placed in a bonâ fide way in almost every case. Besides, the opinion of the builder was not likely to be an independent one; it would probably be given so as to please his employer, the owner.

    believed the clause had worked very well on the whole, and put the responsibility on the right shoulders.

    Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and negatived.

    Clause 24 (Application to foreign ships of provision as to detention).

    On the Motion of Sir Charles Adderley, the following Amendments were made in the clause:—

    Page 13, line 13, leave out "five," and insert "six;"

    Page 13, lines 13 and 14, leave out subsection 1;

    Page 13, lines 19 to 25, leave out subsection 3, and insert—

  • "(2.) Where a ship has been provisionally detained, the consular officer, on the request of the owner or master of the ship, may require that the person appointed by the Board of Trade to survey the ship shall be accompanied by such person as the consular officer may select, and in such case if the surveyor and such person agree, the Board of Trade shall cause the ship to be detained or released accordingly, but if they differ, the Board of Trade may act as if the requisition had not been made, and the owner and master shall have the appeal to the court of survey touching the report of the surveyor which is before provided by this Act; and
  • "(3.) Where the owner or master of the ship appeals to the court of survey the consular officer, on the request of such owner or master, may appoint any competent person who shall be assessor in such case in lieu of the assessor who, if the ship were a British ship, would be appointed otherwise than by the Board of Trade.
  • "In this section the expression 'consular officer'means any consul general, vice consul, consular agent, or other officer recognized by a Secretary of State as a consular officer of a foreign State."

    Clause, as amended, agreed to.

    Clause 25 (Appointment, duties, and powers of wreck commissioners for investigating shipping casualties).

    On Motion of Sir COLMAN O'LOGHLEN, Amendment made in page 13, line 32, after "Commissioners," insert—

    "And in case it shall become necessary to appoint a Wreck Commissioner in Ireland, the Lord Chancellor of Ireland shall have the appointment and the power of removal of such "Wreck Commissioner."

    Clause, as amended, agreed to.

    Clause 26 (Assessors and rule of procedure on formal investigations into shipping casualties).

    Amendment proposed, in page 14, line 10, to leave out the words "one of."—( Mr. Mac Iver.)

    Question, "That the words 'one of' stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.

    Clause 31 (Ships'managing owner or manager to be registered).

    On the Motion of Mr. Norwood, Amendment made in page 16, line 4, leave out all after "registry," and insert—

    "Where there is not a managing owner there shall be so registered the name of the ship's husband or other person to whom the management of the ship is entrusted by or on behalf of the owner; and any person whose name is so registered shall, for the purposes of the Merchant Shipping Acts, 1854 to 1876, be under the same obligations, and subject to the same liabilities, as if he were the managing owner.
    "If default is made in complying with this section the ship may be detained until compliance."

    Clause, as amended, agreed to.

    Other Amendments made.

    Bill to be read the third time upon Thursday.

    Ways And Means—Committee

    WAYS AND MEANS— considered in Committee.

    (In the Committee.)

    Motion made, and Question proposed,

    "That, towards making good the Supply granted to Her Majesty for the service of the year ending the 31st day of March 1877, the sum of £11,000,000 be granted out of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom."

    objected to pass a Vote of such magnitude at a quarter past 1 in the morning, and moved to report Progress.

    Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—( Mr. O'Sullivan.)

    explained that the Vote was merely a formal one, and did not ask the House to vote any money beyond what had been sanctioned in Committee of Supply.

    Question put.

    The Committee divided:—Ayes 15; Noes 87: Majority 72.

    Original Question again proposed.

    Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do now leave the Chair."—( Mr. Parnell.)

    Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

    Original Question put, and agreed to.

    Resolved, That, towards making good the Supply granted to Her Majesty for the service of the year ending the 31st day of March 1877, the sum of £11,000,000 be granted out of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom.

    Resolution to be reported To-morrow;

    Committee to sit again upon Wednesday.

    Elver Fishing Bill

    On Motion of Mr. Monk, Bill to amend the Law relating to Elver Fishing, ordered to be brought in by Mr. Monk and Mr. Price.

    Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 162.]

    Smithfield Prison (Dublin) Bill

    On Motion of Mr. WILLIAM HENRY SMITH, Bill to authorise the sale of Smithfield Penitentiary Convict Prison, Dublin, ordered to be brought in by Mr. WILLIAM HENRY SMITH and Sir Michael Hicks-Beach.

    Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 163.]

    House adjourned at a quarter before Two o'clock.