§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £18.930 be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March. 1905, for maintaining certain Harbours under the Board of Trade, and for Grants in Aid of Harbours."
§ MR. LAMBERT
. continuing his speech, said the building of this harbour of refugee as essentially a national matter. It concerned British seamen and those concerned in British maritime enterprise. He personally had no interest in the matter, representing as he did a purely inland constituency; betook the matter up from a purely humanitarian point of view. It seemed to him that though they had many claims upon the finances of the-country, there could be no greater claim for the expenditure of money than the saving of the lives of "those who go down to the sea in ships." The whole question was. Was this harbour of refuge necessary? Anyone who had listened to the speech of the hon. Mender who had moved the reduction and who had told the Committee that one-sixth of the wrecks that occurred on our shores occurred on the coasts of Devon and Cornwall, must come to the conclusion that there should be some kind of harbour of refuge for the protection of the people who navigated this Channel. In this country we rightly had a great regard on human life. The President of the I Board of Trade was almost continuously engaged in evolving all sorts of regulations to be imposed on railway companies in order to prevent loss of life, and it was a most surprising thing that we could not spend a small sum in making more secure the lives of those engaged in maritime enterprise. A good deal had been said of late about the development 1509 of the Empire, but it was most important in the interests of the Empire that this country should be developed, and it would surely have been better if one-tenth of the sum that had been devoted to the Somaliland campaign had been diverted to the construction of this harbour. It was no doubt a laudable object to devote money to the experiment of growing cotton in West Africa, but it was far more necessary to provide harbours on bleak coasts where they were necessary for the protection of life. In conclusion, he hoped some favourable consideration would be given to this matter.
§ * MR. DUKE (Plymouth)
said it was a curious reflection upon the course of Parliamentary proceedings that for the last half century Royal Commissions and Committees of the House should have over and over again recognised the public duty of providing a harbour of refuge in the Bristol Channel on the plainest ground of humanity, and that now when the Government was invited to take some practical action his hon. friend the Member for King's Lynn with the pedantry of a practised financier should seek to divert attention from the matter by starting a purely academic discussion about grants in aid. He did not propose to describe the geographical characteristics of the Bristol Channel, nor to draw any harrowing pictures of the wrecks that constantly had occurred, constantly did occur, and, unless something was done by the Government of this country, constantly would occur on that coast. Year after year, as long as records and statistics existed, the Bristol Channel and its shores had been marked with enormous loss of life in a manner which had attracted attention, not only among sailors and people connected with commerce, but among public men. One of his hon. friends had suggested that it was quite to be expected we should lose some hundreds of lives every year in the Bristol Channel, because there was a great deal of commerce there. It was true the commerce of the Bristol Channel was probably one-fifth of the commerce of the country, and the wrecks were not more than one-fifth of the wrecks round our coasts; but the coast-line of the Bristol Channel was not one-fifth, it was not one-twentieth, of the coast-line of 1510 the country. It was a comparatively small part of the coast-line upon which wrecks occurred, and in that part of the coastline they would not find a parish which had not evidences of disaster to vessels plying their commerce to and from ports of the Bristol Channel. The Commission of 1857–9 had been referred to. That Commission insisted on the necessity of a harbour of refuge somewhere between St. Ives and Bristol. The public duty had become more urgent since 1857 because the commerce of the Bristol Channel had increased enormously, yet the Board of Trade had done nothing.
It was asked why did not the shipowners or the locality do what was needed? His answer to that was that they could only raise the money by taxation. and. as the greater proportion of men who used the Bristol Channel were foreign ship-owners, how could they tax them? It was not a merely local affair for the towns along the coast. Surely a great commercial country like England could protect the shipping which came to our coasts. In 1884, in the evidence given before a Committee in that year, Admiral Bedford declared that this was one of the most crying cases for additional harbour accommodation in the whole of the British Isles. The Committee reported to that effect, and it specified places where a harbour could be constructed, and even went so far as to estimate the cost. It was a common saying that Parliament never did anything in a hurry, and now again, after twenty years, the demand for a harbour was repeated. In 1886, between October and November, no less than 300 lives were lost through shipwrecks in the Bristol Channel, because no sort of provision had been made for performing a public duty. This loss of life recurred as often as the coast was visited with severe storms. In 1893, just round St. Ives, four steamers went ashore and two steamers were lost at sea, and these losses must have involved at least £100,000. The real question was what was the Board of Trade going to do? Last year when the matter was discussed it was said that if the people of Devon and Cornwall would provide two thirds of the 1511 cost the Board of Trade would provide the balance. He supposed that was the highwater mark of the official idea of a recognition of humanitarian duty. The two counties were among the poorest in the country. He did not think this was a year in which they could go to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for a considerable sum. A good scheme would involve at least £500,000, whether they extended the shelter at Lundy or improved the Roads at Clovelly or Padstow. That £500,000 would no doubt represent the cost of a second-class cruiser, the object of which wag certainly not to save lives. But this coast was a shambles for mariners, and he associated himself most strongly with the demand for official action which should put an end to the disasters which yearly occurred. If it was a public duty to save the lives which were now squandered for want of proper harbour accommodation, he asked his right hon. friend who was responsible in this matter what he was going to do to bring it home to the conscience of the country?
§ SIR FREDERICK BANBURY (Camberwell, Peckham)
said that he would put in a plea for economy. In the afternoon hon. Gentlemen wished more money spent upon a smoking-room, and that evening hon. Gentlemen interested in the southern parts of England wished money spent on harbours of refuge. This was a matter for which he thought the localities or the shipping interest ought to find the necessary money. He hoped the House would reject the scheme, not on the ground that it might not possibly do good, but on the ground that it was a business institution and not a philanthropic institution, and that it could not afford to spend money in every possible way in order to make this era a millennium.
§ MR. ELLIS GRIFFITH (Anglesey)
said he proposed to address himself to another matter which was specifically mentioned in this Vote—that of Holyhead Harbour, concerning which he had troubled the Presiden of the Board of Trade and his predecessors on various occasions during the last ten years. That harbour seemed to be dominated entirely by the Board of Trade on one 1512 side and the railway company on the other. Between them there was nothing left for the poor people who lived there. As a matter of fact, the Urban District Council of Holyhead did not possess a single inch of foreshore in that place. The matter had been before the right hon. Gentleman and his predecessors, and from time to time they had given what was technically called a sympathetic answer. By that means a division was averted, and the whole controversy then assumed its old position and nothing was done. He felt that if the President of the Board of Trade realised the hardship which existed at Holyhead he would do something in the matter. At present there was no pier there at which to land passengers. They had to be landed by boats, and the result was that passenger steamers did not touch at Holyhead. The railway company was assuming a monopoly of the traffic of the place. There were several matters which might be done in Holyhead at very little cost. In the first place the water at Pelham Quay might be deepened. At present it had only a depth of eight or ten feet at springtides, and it was dry at low water. A wharf might very well be built at Salt Island within the limits of the harbour of refuge, and the harbour of refuge itself was not complete until some such facilities had been provided. If the President of the Board of Trade did not agree with that, there was what was now called the Mackenzie Pier, which might be extended for a considerable distance to give some facilities to the town for the landing of passengers and goods. He did not say anything about the length of the period for which the right hon. Gentleman might preside over the Department. Promises had been made by some of his predecessors, and he did ask him to seize the time while it was still his, or to do something in a matter which he could assure the right hon. Gentleman would bring great facilities and advantages to the town of Holyhead.
§ * MR. WEIR
said the hon. Member for Plymouth had spoken sympathetically of the necessity for harbours of refuge but he had confined his attention to one particular part of the country. It should be remembered that there were many other places around our coasts where 1513 there was danger. The hon. Member for Peckham suggested that the cost should be borne by the localities and the shipping interest, but that was not a practicable way of obtaining the accommodation required. In the Highlands and Islands of Scotland how could poor crofters, cotters, and fishermen, the majority of whom paid rentals of from £1 to £4 a year, provide two-thirds of the cost of a harbour of refuge? It was the greatest nonsense to talk in that way. It was impossible for these poor people to provide the money, but the Treasury went on cast-iron rules and insisted on what was an utter impossibility. It was the duty of the Government to see that the lives of fishermen and seamen were protected. An enormous sum was spent on the Navy, and he for one did not grudge it. It was, and always would be, a costly Department. The Government could afford to go to war in Somaliland and Tibet, and carry out the road-making fads of the Colonial Secretary in the West Indies for the benefit of lazy, idle planters who would not work, but money was not provided for necessary improvements a home for the benefit of our own people. In I890 a Commission reported in favour of the construction of a harbour of refuge at Portnagurin, Broad Bay. Island of Lewis, and since then he had repeatedly brought the matter under the notice of the Board of Trade, but nothing had been done. He asked himself whether anything would ever be done by this warlike and extravagant Government. That would cost £30,000, and the Board of Trade said that the shipping interest should provide the whole or the greater part of the money. The great shipowners were not interested in providing this harbour but the fishermen and the owners of fishing boats. who were unable to provide the money. He wished also to urge the claims of Avoch, Ross-shire. That matter had already been brought before the Board of Trade, and an application had been made for financial aid to construct a harbour. He had that day received a letter from a clergyman stating that nearly £1,800 had been raised in the locality, and requesting him to support the application to the Treasury for the further sum required to carry out the work.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE (Mr. GERALD BALFOUR,) Leeds, Central
As a matter of fact the application has not yet been made.
§ * MR. WEIR
said he was informed by the people who had the matter in hand that the application had been made. By the screwing down process of the Board of Trade they were told that they must provide more money. Two years ago a dozen fishing boats were destroyed at the place in one night. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would look into the matter and see that the Treasury provided the necessary funds. Only a few bundled pounds more were required to carry out the work. Let economy be practised in the right quarters and especially in connection with warlike matters and wild-cat schemes, but not in connection with works required for the saving of valuable lives. This was one of the most important fishing stations in the North of Scotland, and the sum proposed to be devoted to that harbour was insufficient. Then there was the case of the harbour at Pwllheli. in Wales, for which there was £14,000 on the Estimates. He would like to know whether the people in the locality had been asked to provide two-thirds of the cost of the harbour.
§ * MR. WEIR
said there had been some doubt certainly about it. It was utterly impossible for these poor districts to provide two-thirds of the cost of a harbour. As the saying was, "How can you take the breeks off a Highlandman?" It was simply playing with the question and with the lives of the fishing population. He was patriotic, and supported a strong Navy. He wanted to see our Navy well manned by hardy men who knew something of sea life; and he regretted that the Government Department miserably neglected to look after the welfare of that important section of the community.
§ MR. SPEAR (Devonshire, Tavistock)
said he wished to support all that had been said by the hon. Members for Devon and Plymouth in regard to the necessity 1515 of a harbour of refuge in the Bristol Channel. He had lived for a long time on that coast, and knew it was one of the most dangerous coasts in the British Islands, and in the event of a severe storm it was almost impossible for vessels to escape shipwreck. He ventured to urge upon the Government the necessity of doing something to prevent the serious loss of life which frequently took place, simply because there was no harbour of refuge there. He was confident that the President of the Board of Trade was anxious to save life, and he did not forget the sympathetic speech which the right hon. Gentleman, had made when this matter was last discussed. The right hon. Gentleman however, seemed to be under the impression that a large share of the cost of the harbour of refuge should be raised locally. That he considered to be both impossible and unfair, because While it might afford some protection to the local fishermen the chief advantage of a harbour of refuge would be for vessels going up the Channel. He hoped the Presidenr of the Board of Trade would make inquiries as to the place where this harbour of refuge should be constructed. Something had been said about economy, but it seemed to him that the economy of human life was of far more importance than mere economy of expenditure.
§ MR. MOULTON (Cornwall, Launceston)
said he wished to join in earnestly appealing for notice by the Board of Trade of the great need of a harbour of refuge on the coast of Cornwall and North Devon. It was not only a most important but also a very practical question. They contended that of all the coasts of England there was not one so iron-bound, so dangerous to life and property, and so ill-provided with refuge, and he claimed that the case should be treated first and promptly. For the past fifty years there had been a. consistent responsible admission by the Board of Trade that the need of a harbour of refuge on that coast was great. Although he felt the difficulty of appealing for the expenditure of large sums out of the national purse, the Board of Trade's consistent admissions proved the justice of their claim. On 28th December. 1900, the ship "Capri-cornia," went down at Bude, and twelve 1516 lives were lost, and at the inquiry an official gave evidence as to the number of strandings. The chart of strandings between Trevose and Tintagel was a most appalling one. The report of the inquiry was that if a harbour of refuge could be erected there would be a great saving of life and property. This was a case in which the Board of Trade had admitted a great public duty, and it was for the House to put pressure upon the President of the Board of Trade to take up the duty promptly. Another question was, were the localities prepared to pay a part of the expense? He contended that this was a case which from its nature excluded such a demand. An iron-bound coast like this was not likely to be a rich one. In fact great tracts of it were desolate. The danger was chiefly to the ships that passed, and not, to the ships that visited the coast. He had fifty miles of it in his own constituency, and there was not a single port which even a small vessel could make, except in the smoothest weather. When the north and north-west winds blew no vessels except steamers had sufficient room to get round the headlands but came to grief in the small bays. They had no right to come upon the poor agriculturists of Cornwall to contribute to the protection of the shipping. As to the particular place which should be selected he admitted there was a natural conflict of opinion upon the subject. In a matter like this the Board of Trade ought to appoint an impartial authority to investigate the circumstances of the case and report as to the best place suitable for the harbour. If it was taken up promptly the people in the different localities would be satisfied.
§ SIR JOHN KENNAWAY (Devonshire, Honiton)
said he just wished to add a few words in support of the practical suggestion made by the hon. and learned Member for Launceston. It might bring this matter within the range of practical affairs. He had no connection with that particular part of the county, because he resided on the southern coast of Devonshire, where they had not the same severe storms as on the north coast. The important trade route round the Southwest of the island had claims on the Treasury second to none. He and his 1517 friends wished to remove the stain which rested on Parliament through their neglect of the lives of those who contributed so greatly to the prosperity of the country. He hoped that something practical would come of this discussion.
§ MR. WILLIAM McARTHUR (Cornwall, St. Austell)
said he protested against the doctrine laid down that these harbours of refuge were, in any sense, a local matter not concerning the country as a whole. It seemed to him that the credit of the country was involved in setting right a state of things so appalling. Surely where, as had here been most clearly shown, they had got one of the most dangerous coasts in England, where they had wreck after wreck and the most serious loss of life possible, they were not going to neglect to prevent that loss of life simply because the locality was not rich. The argument that the locality should bear its share of the expense of establishing works for the purpose of Riving life seemed to him one which should not have been advanced. Moreover, they had in this case a particular and pressing claim on the Board of Trade because it was one which had been recognised for years, one which had been proved by the Commission and the officials of the Board of Trade. and one which had been proved also by the loss of life which regularly took place on the coast. It was not, he admitted, fair to ask the President of the Board of Trade to tell them what money he was going to spend and where he was going to establish the harbour; but seeing that there was a unanimous consensus of opinion in the whole of the west country as to the absolute necessity of something being done, he did feel justified in pressing him to tell them that, at all events, his Department was really taking the matter up in earnest. The situation of the harbour was, after all, a matter for experts to decide.
§ MR. WILLIAM JONES (Carnarvonshire, Arfon)
said that in connection with the Holyhead Harbour the matter had been engaging attention for quite ten or twelve years, but the reply that was given was always unsatisfactory. All that they wanted was that the harbour should be rendered capable of 1518 accommodating vessels. Already £2,000,000 sterling had been spent on the harbour, but the result achieved was by no means commensurate with the expense incurred. A very narrow channel led into the inner harbour, and when a south-westerly gale was blowing no sailing vessel could pass through it. Consequently a number of vessels were always in the outer harbour and there was danger of their dragging anchor and being driven on the shore. The question of making Holyhead Harbour a harbour of refuge for the shipping of the whole world had been raised again and again in the House yet nothing had been accomplished. They asked now for an undertaking that something tangible would be the result of the present discussion; if so, a great boon would be conferred on the shipping community at large.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
said that the hon. Member for Barnstaple had truly said that the topic he introduced had been before the House again and again. It had certainly been discussed in every one of the three or four years that he had been at the Board of Trade. He did not complain of that, but the repetition of the same arguments could only be met by a repetition of the same replies. The proposal of the hon. Member for Barnstaple was that public money should be spent on a harbour in the locality in which he was interested, and that without the special provisions which the Treasury had advised in analogous cases. He had raised that claim mainly on the Report of the Select Committee appointed in 1884. There appeared to be a considerable confusion of ideas among those who supported the hon. Member's proposal. The Select Committee made two recommendations, and the first was that it would be desirable to establish a great national harbour at some point between Land's End and the coast of South Wales. That was the proposal that the hon. Member for South Molton appeared to have in his mind. The hon. Member said that it was essentially a commercial proposal, and that while the agriculturists of Devonshire should not be expected to pay money for this expenditure, it would be 1519 reproductive because it would enable goods to be carried at lower rates than at present. What he had in his mind, therefore, was a great harbour of refuge for the extensive commerce running up the Bristol Channel. That. he ventured to say. was not the proposal which the hon. Member for Barnstaple had in his mind. What he had in his mind was the second recommendation of the Select Committee. which was that a small harbour of refuge should be established between Hartland Point and Land's End.
§ * MR. SOARES
said he was quite prepared to leave the kind of harbour and the site to any committee of experts that the Board of Trade might appoint.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
said that even if a large harbour of refuge were constructed somewhere on the coast of South Wales that would be, of exceedingly little advantage to the hon. Member's constituents. He would deal with the proposal which appeared to commend itself to the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Molton. What the Committee said was that it was not expedient to make grants of public money for harbour construction, but to give the necessary aid at a low rate of interest. There was one class of harbour which it was evident should be constructed at the public expense, namely, those great national harbours, the site, extent, and mode of construction of which should be determined, not by considerations of the mercantile marine of the country, or of the Navy, but by considerations of strategic defence and Imperial policy. It was evident that what the Committee had in their mind was a great harbour such as the Admiralty were now constructing at Dover. A harbour of that class, however, could not be discussed on the present Vote. The other proposal of the Committee was that grants of public money might, to a limited extent, be given in aid of work to provide a harbour of refuge chiefly for fishermen on certain portions of the coast: and the Committee added in another paragraph that it fell entirely within the province of the Government to provide this needed reform in those districts. it being absolutely impossible that the 1520 fishermen themselves could raise sufficient funds or find security to borrow money. The Committee then enumerated six places where such works were most needed. The Committee, it would be observed, made those recommendations in the interests of the fishing industry, not in the interests of commerce. and among numerous proposals of the same kind was a harbour of refuge on the north coast of Cornwall, which was sixth on the list. Anyone listening to the discussion would come to the con conclusion that the one proposal which the Committee made was in connection with this harbour of refuge on the coast of Cornwall, and that successive Governments had been very remiss in not giving effect to that recommendation. He would add, however, that not one of the proposals of the Committee for harbours of refuge had been carried out. The hon. Gentleman and his friends seemed to think that whenever a Committee made a Report in favour of expenditure on a particular harbour that that recommendation should finally decide the question. He was afraid he was unable to accept that view. He could not regard the recommendation of any Committee as necessarily inspired; and the fact that the Committee referred to had reported twenty years ago, and that successive Governments had had the matter repeatedly under consideration and had done nothing, was not necessarily a proof that they had been remiss, but rather indicated that in their opinion the recommendations of the Committee went beyond the real necessities of the ease.
He did not wish to prejudge the question whether a harbour of refuge should or should not be made on the north coast of Cornwall. He admitted that it was a dangerous coast. The hon. Member for South Molton said that no amount of money value could be placed upon human life, and he seemed to argue that, if a single life could be saved by the construction of a harbour of refuge at whatever cost, such expenditure would be economical; but while he had great sympathy with the views of the hon. Member, it must be admitted that this was a counsel of perfection. If they were to proceed on this principle it was clear that they would have to dot the 1521 coast of the United Kingdom with harbours of refuge. But when they came to consider whether such harbours should or should not be constructed in particular instances, it was clear that they were bound to take other matters into consideration. After all, the seafaring calling was necessarily dangerous, and all that could be done was to diminish the dangers, not remove them altogether. The hon. Member for Barnstaple gave certain figures which he quoted from the official wreck Returns for 1903, giving the total number of casualties on this part of the coast as 371–68 being from Hartland Point to Land's End, and 303 to the north of Hartland Point. But the hon. Member seemed to have forgotten that if the harbour of refuge was to be made between Hartland Point and Land's End the proper number of casualties to quote was sixty-eight.
§ * MR. SOARES
said he did not say that a harbour of refuge ought to be constructed between Hartland Point and Land's End, but somewhere between Land's End and the Severn.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
said that in that case the hon. Member no longer had support for his proposal from the recommendation of the Select Committee, which was that a fishing harbour should be constructed on this coast. If it was to be a great national harbour as distinguished from a harbour of refuge for fishermen it did not come within the scope of this Vote; if it was to be a harbour for the benefit of fishermen the statistics quoted by the hon. Member were hardly relevant. He had asked the expert adviser to the Board of Trade to analyse very carefully the wrecks that had taken place on this coast, in order to ascertain what proportion might have been avoided if there had been a harbour of refuge, or two harbours north and south of Trevose Head respectively. Casualties occurred repeatedly from causes which the existence of a harbour of refuge could not possibly prevent. Captain Fresericks had gone most carefully into the figures for the last twenty years, with the result that he had discovered that the total number of casualties which might be attributed to the absence of harbours of refuge was forty-eight. and that the number of lives lost was 118. So it worked out in this 1522 way, that on this rock-bound coast of between seventy and eighty miles in length the number of casualties which might have been prevented had there been harbours of refuge amounted on the average to 2½ a year and the number of lives lost to six a year. Captain Fredericks told him also that he was himself astonished at the smallness of the numbers, but the reason was no doubt clear; the coast was known to be dangerous; it was known that in heavy weather vessels would be in a position of great peril and they consequently avoided it. Another interesting point was that although the amount of traffic had enormously increased the actual number of casualties and of lives lost had not shown a proportionate increase, and probably the lesser total of small coasting vessels wrecked was due to the fact that more of them were now worked by steam. Although he did not wish for one minute to minimise the seriousness of these figures, still he thought the state of things they revealed was not nearly so serious as the hon. Member had indicated. He had not quoted Captain Fredericks in order to show that it would not be desirable to construct a harbour of refuge on this coast, but he thought he showed that it was very doubtful whether it would be worth the enormous expenditure for original construction and maintenance that would be involved. The character of the coast was such that if they were really to deal with the problem they would have to construct not one harbour, but two. The force of the seas on this coast was terrific, and consequently the original cost of construction would be heavy as well as the cost of maintenance. These reasons made him doubt whether it would really be worth while to spend public money on the construction of the harbour which was asked for.
But there was another objection. If the proposal were acceded to it would have the effect of giving the go-by to the rules laid down by the Treasury with respect to the construction of harbours of refuge. So much pressure had been brought to bear on respective Governments for the construction of these harbours that the Treasury were obliged—quiterecently, within, he believed, the last five years—to lay 1523 down the conditions that the application for a harbour of refuge should come from the local authority, and that it should be accompanied by an undertaking to contribute to the original cost and to provide for the maintenance of the harbour. No application had come from a local authority in the present case. He had offered before, and he repeated the offer now, that if such an application came from the local authority, and it it were favourably viewed by the Harbour Grants Committee, to whom it would be referred, he would press the Treasury to forego the contribution which under their rules they would require from the local authority.
§ * MR. SOARES
Do I understand that the right hon. Gentleman requires an application from the county councils of Devon and Cornwall?
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
said an application from any local authority would be sufficient to initiate the matter but it was necessary it should be accompanied by an offer to contribute part of the expense.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
said clearly there was some such power because under the Treasury regulation sums had actually been subscribed. He rather thought the county council had the power.
§ * MR. SOARES
This is most important. Does the right hon. Gentleman require an application from the county councils of Devon and Cornwall.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
said he had already stated that an application from some local authority with an offer to pay part of the estimated expense would be sufficient to initiate the movement. No such application had been made and hon. Members had instead come to the House and asked it to adopt a procedure in direct contradiction of the rules laid down by the Treasury. The hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty had put forward certain proposals affecting the 1524 North of Scotland, and he could only promise that if proper representations were made to the Board of Trade they would he duly considered. With regard to Holyhead Harbour, very considerable sums of money had been spent on its improvement during the last five years, but if any special additional expenditure were required the matter would be carefully considered by the Board of Trade. Not long ago a rather extensive scheme was brought forward and actually received the assent of the Treasury but further investigation showed that the cost would considerably exceed the estimate and it had consequently to be dropped.
SIR WALTER FOSTER (Derbyshire, Ilkeston)
suggested that the non possumus attitude of the right hon. Gentleman was more applicable to a coast line where there were mercantile ports capable of making representation. But here they had a long coast line, known to be one of the most dangerous around the country, and there was no mercantile port along it. to make the application which the right hon. Gentleman had said was essential; and it was scarcely a matter for the county council, or for any smaller local authority. The position of this coast line was unique, and. being unique, the reply of the President of the Board of Trade might have been more sympathetic. What were the facts? Every Committee of inquiry which had considered this matter had reported in favour of providing harbours of refuge. It had been proved that there had been a lamentable and unnecessary loss of life on the iron-bound coast of Cornwall, and it would have been more to his credit if the right hon. Gentleman had been more sympathetic in his reply. It was not the duty of a Minister to be bound by rules and regulations, it was for him, if necessary, to break the rules in the interests of the people at large; and in this case, if there was no precedent for the present demand, the right hon. Gentleman might make a precedent where the saving of life at sea was concerned. If the right hon. Gentleman chose to put it on economical grounds, surely if they had to spend £50,000 or £60,000 on harbours of refuge they would get a good return for their money in the shape of the saving of life and the protection of property. There could be no better investment of public money.
§ MR. FFRENCH (Wexford, S.)
proposed to discuss matters connected with Wexford Harbour, but was ruled out of order by the Chairman.
§ * SIR JOHN BRUNNER (Cheshire, Northwich)
said that no doubt it was well the Treasury should lay down strict rules with regard to the expenditure of public money, but, when the right hon. Gentleman suggested it was desirable that some application should be made from the district where this harbour of refuge was required, he would like to ask whether similar applications were insisted on before the grants were made for the relief of the West Indies. Again, did the local authorities in Uganda guarantee interest on the £6,000,000 required for the construction of the railway? Nobody accused the President of the Board of Trade of extravagance; but they asked the Government to observe a certain proportion in their expenditure, and have some regard to the relative importance of these islands as compared with, say, the West Indies or Uganda, on which so much was so freely spent. The Committee appointed in 1884 reputed two years later that a certain number of harbours was required in the public interest, yet not one of them had been made! He would like to be able to convince the right hon. Gentleman, or his successor, whoever he might be, that there were better ways of spending public money than scattering it in all parts of the world except at home, even if they only applied it to the saving of life. Now he was well acquainted with the coast of France and there he found that they studied the interests of the coasting trade and provided harbours of refuge for its benefit instead of limiting their expenditure to military harbours. He had come to the conclusion that they ought to follow the example of France, and instead of spending money almost exclusively on military harbours, the Treasury should do something for harbours of refuge in poor but important districts on the coast. It was just in the most poverty-stricken districts where the greatest danger existed, and as long as the Treasury maintained its present rule, it was those very districts which would suffer most If they could not convince the right hon. Gentleman, then it was to be hoped the right hon. Gentleman would soon have a 1526 successor who would prove more approachable to reason in this matter.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
replied that if the county councils made an application, accompanied by a statement as to where they thought such a harbour was desirable, an estimate of the cost, and an expression of their readiness to bear a proportion of the expenditure, the matter would go before the Harbours Committee and an inquiry Would be made.
§ MR. LAMBERT
said that that was practically no offer at all. It was impossible for the county councils to submit estimates of the cost; they had not the necessary officers and machinery for the work. He understood that the Treasury required two-thirds of the cost to be borne by the locality.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
said that that was the rule of the Treasury, but if it could be shown that this harbour was really desirable he would be prepared to urge that the severity of that regulation should be relaxed.
§ MR. LAMBERT
pointed out that a penny rate in his county would produce only £8,000, and they could hardly expect inland ratepayers to bear a sixpenny rate for this purpose. Moreover, it was not a local affair at all; it was a matter of national concern, and should be dealt with by the Board of Trade. Would the right hon. Gentleman meet the demand which had been made so far as to send an inspector or engineer to make inquiries?
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
said he was not prepared to take the initiative by sending down an inspector, because, in his opinion, that would be begging the principal question at issue, viz., whether such a harbour should be made or not.
§ MR. LAMBERT
contended that the Board of Trade were just the body who 1527 should decide that question. The county councils certainly could not do it. The right hon. Gentleman had really not made a fair offer at all. If the Board of Trade were to do their duty, it was necessary that they should send down an inspector or engineer to ascertain whether or not such a harbour was a pressing necessity.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
said that if such an argument were admitted, it could, and immediately would, be used in reference to many other districts in the country.
§ * MR. SOARES
said that unless the right hon. Gentleman consented to the appointment of a committee to examine into the matter he would be obliged to take a division. The Board of Trade had all the necessary machinery at its command, and that machinery was paid for by the State. The county councils had not the necessary machinery. Why. then, could not the right hon. Gentleman allow it to be used? The right hon. Gentleman had referred to a private Report; but hon. Members were in entire ignorance of the contents of that Report and of the evidence upon which it was based. What they wanted was that the evidence should be taken locally, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would grant the committee for which he had been asked.
§ SIR ROBERT ROPNER (Stockton)
said that if this harbour of refuge was intended simply for fishing boats and small coasting vessels he could understand the demand being made, but if it was meant to benefit the mercantile marine it would be an absolute waste of money. Sailing vessels were rapidly becoming obsolete: the mercantile marine was now mainly composed of steam vessels, which, in case of necessity, could always leave the coast and get out of danger.
§ MR. RUNCIMAN (Dewsbury)
said that this particular part of the coast was that where sailing vessels most abounded. In the Bristol Channel ports last year 3.000 sailing vessels arrived and only 11,000 steamers. The right hon. Gentleman had referred to the Report of 1886, and had said that none of its recommen- 1528 dations had been carried out. Two of those recommendations referred to the coast between Duncansby Head and Aberdeen, and between the North Foreland and Beachy Head. He would call the attention of the President of the Board of Trade to the fact that the refuge harbour of Peterhead, between Duncansby Head and Aberdeen, was built out of public money. As to the coast between the North Foreland and Beaehy Head, was not the new harbour at Dover a refuge harbour? Whether it was an Admiralty harbour or not, it was a refuge harbour on one of the most dangerous coasts, and would be very largely built out of funds that would have to be guaranteed by the Exchequer. Therefore the statement of the right hon. Gentleman on that point was inaccurate. The opinion of the county councils as to a suitable site for a refuge harbour on the coast of North Devon or North Cornwall would not be worth the paper it was printed on; they were not harbour authorities. The Board of Trade would compromise neither their dignity nor independence by sending a man down to inquire into-the feasibility of the proposal. But he feared the only way to persuade the President of the Board of Trade to alter his mind would be to take him down the Bristol Channel when there was a strong nor wester blowing and leave him under the lee of Lundy Island for a couple of tides, with the wind blowing first with the tide and then against it. He was convinced the first act of the right hon. Gentleman on his return to terra firma would be to grant the prayer which had been made.
§ * MB. AINSWORTH (Argyllshire)
remarked that the country had no more valuable asset than its fishing population. The fact that sailing vessels were becoming obsolete in the mercantile marine was an additional proof of the value of the fishing fleets. because it was only on sailing vessels that sailors could be properly educated His constituency had a coast line of over 100 miles, but a penny rate in Argyllshire would probably produce only £800, so that it was just in those places where the need for protection was greatest that the power of local assistance was smallest. It was high time that the-officials of the Board of Trade should be 1529 aroused to a sense of the responsibility resting upon them, and immediate steps ought to be taken for the encouragement of one of the most important interests of the British Empire. It was much easier to build ironclads than to get sailors to work them, and without sailors of what value were the ironclads? He hoped the interests of the fishing industry would no longer be neglected in the manner they had been.
§ * MR. HUMPHREYS-OWEN (Montgomeryshire)
pointed out that the long stretch of Cardigan Bay, although it possessed several places well adapted for the purpose, was entirely destitute of small harbours of refuge for fishing boats. The Welsh people had been taunted with not being good sailors, but the reason was that their coast was altogether wanting in harbours. Their kinsmen in Brittany provided the French navy with many of its most illustrious seamen. He pressed opon the Board of Trade the desirability of an amendment of their policy in this respect. A very small percentage of the scandalous waste on the Army might well be applied to the provision of harbours on the coast of Wales.
§ On the House being cleared for a division.1530
§ * MR. SOARES
, seated and with his hat on, said that he had moved an Amendment, whereas the Chairman had put the Main Question.
* THE CHAIRMAN
explained that the Amendment had been moved before the dinner-hour, and that all Motions for reductions dropped when Progress was reported.
§ * MR. SOARES
pointed out that at the time of the adjournment for dinner an hon. Member was in the middle of a speech on the Amendment, which speech he resumed at nine o'clock. Under those circumstances was it necessary that the Amendment should be again moved, and, if so, by whom?
* THE CHAIRMAN
said it was certainly necessary that the Amendment should be again moved. It was a well-known Rule of the House that on Progress being reported all Motions for reduction dropped. The Amendment could have been moved by any hon. Member.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes. 164; Noes, 105. (Division List No. 100.)1531
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Compton, Lord Alwyne||Gardner, Ernest|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Cook, Sir Frederick Lucas||Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin & Nairn)|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Gordon, Maj Evans-(T'r Hmlets|
|Arnold-Forster, Rt. Hn. Hugh O.||Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge||Gore, Hn. G. R. C. Ormsby-(Salop|
|Asher, Alexander||Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.||Goulding, Edward Alfred|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury)|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Crossley, Rt. Hon. Sir Savile||Gretton, John|
|Balcarres, Lord||Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Hamilton, Marq. of (L'nd'ndery)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r)||Davenport, William Bromley||Hardy, Laurenes (Kent, Ashford|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. Gerald W. (Leeds||Dickson, Charles Scott||Hare, Thomas Leigh|
|Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christch.||Digby, John K. D. Wingfield-||Heath, Arthur Howard (Hanley|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||Heath, James (Staffords, N.W.|
|Bignold, Arthur||Dorington, Rt. Hon. Sir John E.||Heaton, John Henniker|
|Bigwood, James||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers||Helder, Augustus|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Henderson, Sir A. (Stafford, W.)|
|Brassey, Albert||Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin||Hickman, Sir Alfred|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir William Hart||Hogg, Lindsay|
|Brotherton, Edward Allen||Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Hope, J. F. (Sheffield, Brightside|
|Campbell, J. H. M. (Dublin Univ.||Faber, Edmund B. (Hants, W.||Houston, Robert Paterson|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Faber, George Denison (York)||Hunt, Rowland|
|Cavendish V. C. W. (Derbyshire||Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Manc'r||Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Jeffreys, Rt. Hon. Arthur Fred.|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Worc.||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir John H.|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W. (Salop|
|Clive, Captain Percy A.||Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Low, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow)|
|Coates, Edward Feetham||Forster, Henry William||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E||Foster, Philip S. (Warwick, S. W.||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks, N. R|
|Colomb, Rt. Hon. Sir John C.R.||Fyler, John Arthur||Lee, Arthur H. (Hants., Farehair,|
|Legge, Col. Hon- Heneage||Pretyman, Ernest George||Stewart, Sir Mark J. M' Taggart|
|Leveson-Gower, Frederick N. S.||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward||Strutt, Hon- Charles Hedley|
|Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham||Rankin, Sir James||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Long, Rt. Hon. Walter (Bristol. S||Rasch, Sir Frederic Carne||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf'd Univ.|
|Lucas Col. Francis (Lowestoft)||Reid, James (Greenock)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth)||Remnant, James Farquharson||Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M.|
|Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Renwick, George||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Macdona, John Gumming||Ridley, S. Forde (Bethnal Green)||Tuff, Charles|
|M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|M'Calmont, Colonel James||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)||Valentia, Viscount|
|M'Iver, Sir Lewis (Edinburgh W.||Rolleston, Sir John F. L.||Walrond, Rt. Hn. Sir William H.|
|Martin, Richard Biddulph||Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert||Warde, Colonel C. E.|
|Maxwell, W. J. H. (Dumfriesshire||Round, Rt. Hon. James||Webb, Colonel William George|
|Milner, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Rutherford. John (Lancashire)||Welby, Sir Charles G. E. (Notts.)|
|Milvain, Thomas||Sackville, Col. S. G.||Whiteley, H. (Ashton and. Lyne|
|Montagu, Hon. J. Scott (Hants.)||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Morrison, James Archibald||Saunderson Rt. Hn. Col. Edw. J.||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Murray, Rt. Hon A Graham (Bute||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Seely, Maj. J. E. B. (Isle of Wight||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R.(Bath)|
|Nicholson, William Graham||Seton-Karr, Sir Henry||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Peel, Hn. Wm. Robert Wellesley||Sharpe, William Edward T.||Wyndham-Quin, Col. W. H.|
|Percy, Earl||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)||Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong|
|Pierpoint, Robert||Skewes-Cox, Thomas||Younger, William|
|Pilkington, Colonel Richard||Smith, H. C. (North'mb. Tyneside|
|Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir Alexander Acland-Hood and Mr. Ailwyn Fellowes.|
|Plummer, Walter R.||Spear, John Ward|
|Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Lancs.)|
|Abraham, William (Cork. N. E.)||Harmsworth, R. Leicester||O' Dowd, John|
|Ainsworth, Jonn Stirling||Hayden, John Patrick||O' Malley, William|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Helme, Norval Watson||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Partington, Oswald|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Hobhouse, C. E. H. (Bristol, E.)||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Waiden)|
|Black, Alexander William||Horniman, Frederick John||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Boland, John||Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Broadhurst, Henry||J ones, William (Carnarvonshire||Redmond, John E. (Waterford|
|Brown, George M. (Edinburgh)||Joyce, Michael||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Kearley, Hudson E.||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs)|
|Caldwell, James||Kilbride, Denis||Roche, John|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Lambert, George||Runciman, Walter|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Law, Hugh Alex. (Donegal, W.||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Leigh, Sir Joseph||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)|
|Crean, Eugene||Leng, Sir John||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Cremer, William Randal||Levy, Maurice||Sheehy, David|
|Cullinan, J.||Lough, Thomas||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Dalziel, James Henry||London, W.||Slack, John Bamford|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Lyell, Charles Henry||Sullivan, Donal|
|Delany, William||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe|
|Devlin, Chararles Ramsay (Galway||M'Arthur, William (Cornwall)||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr)|
|Devlin, Joseph (Kilkenny, N.)||M'Hugh, Patrick A.||Thomas, J. A. (Glamorgan, Gower|
|Doogan, P. C.||M'Kean, John||Tomkinson, James|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North)||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Elibank, Master of||Markham, Arthur Basil||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Moss, Samuel||Weir, James Galloway|
|Fenwick, Charles||Murnaghan, George||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Ffrench, Peter||Murphy, John||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Field, William||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Nohn, Joseph (Louth, South)||Woodhouse, Sir J T. (Huddersf'd|
|Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Young, Samuel|
|Freeman-Thomas, Captain F.||O'Brien, K. (Tipperary, Mid.)|
|Gilhooly, James||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Soares and Mr. Fletcher Moulton.|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.)|
|Grant, Corrie||O'Doherty, William|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed. "That a sum, not exceeding £35,500, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge 1532 which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1905. for Expenditure in respect of Royal Palaces."1533
§ MR. WHITLEY (Halifax)
thought that this Vote needed some further explanation, for he would be able to show that the promises made by the Government in regard to this expenditure had not been carried out. This Vote was for £61,500, and it had increased during the past four years by no less than 60 per cent. Two years ago the reason given for this increase was on account of alterations carried out in consequence of His Majesty's accession to the Throne, and it was then stated that this was purely a temporary increase. Now they discovered that this excessive sum was being maintained permanently. On the 15th May. 1902. when the present Home Secretary was First Commissioner of Works, he stated that although this Vote was larger than the normal Vote it was accounted for by the extra expenditure rendered necessary by a change in the occupancy of the Throne and the accession of His Majesty, and the right hon. Gentleman also stated that this extra expenditure would disappear from the Estimates in future years. He wished to know where the disappearance was, because the Vote had shown no signs of any reduction, and he felt sure it was much higher than it ought to be. The two items which were excessive were those for new works, alterations and additions, and for maintenance and repairs. They all recognised that substantial alterations went required to bring the Royal Palaces up to date, but they did not anticipate that temporary additions to the expenditure would remain as permanent increases. If this kind of thing was allowed to go on economy would never be attained by the Committee. Last year they complained of the large sums of money spent upon new works, and they were then told that those works had brought the Royal Palaces up to date. He did not see why they should continue spending £40,000per annum upon maintenance and repairs and in order to elicit an explanation and to get to know why the promise of the Home Secretary had not been carried out, he begged to move a reduction of this Vote by £5,000.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed. "That a sum, not exceeding £30,500, be granted for the said service."—(. Mr Whitley.)1534
§ MR. DALZIEL (Kirkcaldy Burghs)
said they were accustomed to extraordinary precedents in connection with the business of the House, but he looked with surprise at the reluctance of the noble Lord to reply upon this point. If the noble Lord was ready to reply he would give way at once. He associated himself entirely with the protest which had been made by the hon. Member for Halifax. This Estimate was on a par with several other Estimates which had been before the Committee during the last week, in which temporary expenditure in previous years had now appeared as permanent expenditure. He did not care whether it was for Royal Palaces or for any other building, but he thought£40,000a year put on the Estimates year after year for maintenance and repairs was a great deal too much: more especially when they remembered that upon the last occasion when this Estimate was before the Committee the Home Secretary distinctly stated that this expenditure was purely consequent upon the lamented death of the late Queen, and that it was only a temporary matter. It had not been suggested that any new or expensive building had been put up. He hoped the noble Lord would be able to give them more information in regard to this Vote. There was another matter he wished o raise. He would like to know if the noble Lord got estimates for all this expenditure. There seemed to be a general feeling amongst contractors that if they only got a Government job once for a Royal Palace they would keep it for all time, and if they got the original contract they could have as many additions as they liked. It was the habit in some Government offices where contracts were invited, to leave the whole thing to one particular official, and no matter whether thirty or forty large contractors spent thou ands of pounds in preparing estimates, the work invariably went to some particular contractor. He hoped that was not the case with the Department for which the noble Lord was responsible. but he wished to know who had the giving out of those contracts and who was responsible for seeing that the work was properly carried out. These items now appeared to be permanently charged on the Estimates, and 1535 he would like to know if the noble Lord had any suggestions to make that, in regard to this Vote, it was not a permanent charge and that his predecessor was not mistaken in regard to the statement he had made.
§ LORD BALCARRES (Lancashire, Chorley)
said he meant no discourtesy to the hon. Member in not rising when he was invited to do so. for he was fully prepared to deal with the Question which had been put to him. The hon. Member opposite had asked a Question in regard to a pledge given by the Home Secretary that the expenditure upon new works was of a temporary character. He wished to point out that when the Home Secretary made that statement he was not dealing with item E but item D.
And, it being Midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Resolution to be reported upon Monday next: Committee also report Progress: to sit again upon Monday next.