§ Lord Colchester
said, that he rose, in pursuance of the notice which he had given, to move for an humble Address to Her Majesty to lay before the House a Copy of the Report of the Commissioners appointed in April last to inquire into the subject of Harbours of Refuge. As he understood that Her Majesty's Government would offer no opposition to the production of this Report, he should not occupy much of their Lordships' time in stating why the subject should be laid before their Lordships. It must be well known to such of their Lordships as had turned their attention to the state of the southern coast, that there was not from the South Foreland to Portsmouth, a distance of more than 100 miles, a single harbour capable of providing shelter for vessels of any size, or for men-of-war to lie in, so that they might be able to give protection to any vessels that might be passing by there. Great inconvenience had been felt in time of war, and there had been a great loss of life and property, from the want of harbours of refuge, when ships with Government troops and stores were making their passage from the river. No great work had been attempted to remedy this evil, with the exception of the Plymouth breakwater. A Committee of the House of Commons sat last Session on the subject, and recommended that some measure should be adopted; but said also, that a Commission to inquire into the details of the subject should be appointed by Her Majesty. A Commission was accordingly appointed, and directed to consider the necessity of constructing one or more harbours of refuge in the channel; and to fix on the site that should be chosen. It 368 was required, first, that it should be easy of access at all times of the tide; secondly, that it should serve as a station for armed vessels of war, for the purposes of defence and offence; and thirdly, that it should possess facilities of defence in case of an attack by an enemy. The Commissioners visited all the principal stations on the coast, and collected a great deal of valuable evidence. Their Report recommended large works to be constructed at a very great expense, and the concluding paragraph stated that the Commissioners could not conclude their Report without expressing in the strongest terms their unanimous conviction that measures were indispensably necessary to give to the south-eastern parts of this kingdom harbours to act as a refuge and a powerful naval protection. He entirely concurred in that opinion, and trusted that before the end of the Session Government would take some steps in compliance with the recommendation of the Commissioners. Great inconvenience had been and would still be continued to be felt, if the coast were left unprotected.
§ Agreed to.