OIL IN NAVIGABLE WATERS BILL [Lords].

– in the House of Commons on 5th July 1922.

Alert me about debates like this

Order for Second Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."

Photo of Mr Donald Maclean Mr Donald Maclean , Peebles and Southern

I beg to move, "That the Debate be now adjourned."

I do so for a very sound reason. The Government have now got seven quite important Orders, and it is twenty minutes past Eleven o'clock. The suspension of the Eleven o'clock rule was asked for, I presume, in the expectation that the first Order, which was of a highly controversial nature, might perhaps run to 9 o'clock or 10 o'clock. The Government, quite naturally, desired to obtain some other Orders. The first Bill, however, went through without a Division, and the other Orders were proceeded with without any more discussion. We have now arrived at No. 8 on the Order Paper. The Government have had six Second Readings and one Committee.

The Order upon which we have entered is not one to which I personally take objection, but, however desirable the object, I am quite certain that it is a bad practice on this House to pass Bills without adequate discussion. Take the last Order. It seemed a short one, but hon. Members rose—I listened very carefully—and in the discussion at least three very useful points were brought out. I do not think that in the Measure before the House there will be any opposition, but there may be some Members desirous of making a better Measure of it; and therefore I do not think we should be asked to take it at twenty-five minutes past eleven o'clock, especially after such a record of work. The other night we got no less than nine Orders—Second and Third Readings. I suggest that this is another evidence of the desire of the Department to rush a large number of Bills through the House without their receiving adequate discussion. There is no desire to unduly prolong the proceedings in reference to this or any other Order on the Paper and we do not want to keep the House sitting late into August because that would benefit nobody. I ask the Colonial Secretary to meet the wishes of a large number of hon. Members who have been here all day. I wish to see that fair and adequate discussion is given to all these Orders, and I urge the right hon. Gentleman to accept my Motion and allow us to go home after a very good day's work.

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

I hope my right hon. Friend will not deny us the next two Orders, namely the Second Heading of the Oil in Navigable Waters Bill and the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (Payment of Calls) Bill. Everyone who has studied the question will share the right hon. Gentleman's feeling that the multiplication of Bills at this stage of the Session is a very considerable burden upon the House. This difficulty does not arise simply from the keenness of departments to get these things settled, but it arises from the rapidly growing complication of our public life. In every sphere it is growing in complexity, and this multiplication of departmental Bills is a feature of that ever growing complication. Where are we going to in regard to public business? This has been a Session without a controversial Bill or a controversial Budget, and yet here we are nearing the end of the first week in July. We still have an enormous mass of business to discharge, with the practical certainty that we shall have to come back in October to deal with a great block of Irish business that will have to come before us if the Free State make good. Therefore, we really must have help from the House to get on. I agree that we ought not to attempt this sort of legislation in an underhand fashion. The Order we are now considering is one upon which there is no dispute. The details could be very well examined in Committee upstairs; and I do not think it is asking too much when I request that this and the next Order on the Paper may be taken. On these measures there is no dispute as between the Government and the Opposition, and great public; inconvenience will be caused if they are no; passed. This can only be avoided by the House moving these Orders out of the way at a Sitting like this, devoted entirely to small Bills. For these reasons I hope my right hon. Friend will not persist in his objection to our making further progress. It is perfectly obvious that we cannot go on if the House definitely wishes to resist our progress. I trust my suggestion, which is in the public interest, will be accepted and that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen will bear in mind that there is really no party advantage —no advantage as between the Government and the Opposition—to be gained.

Mr. J. W. WILSON:

The right hon. Gentleman has alluded somewhat airily to the detailed discussion and full investigation which these Bills—read a second time on Monday night and to-night—are going to receive in the Committees upstairs. I hope that the House, and particularly the Ministers responsible for the Bills, will realise the great strain they are putting on the Standing Committees, two of which only exist for the purpose of examining these Bills that are being sent upstairs. As far as I can gather from the programme already arranged for them, and laid before me this afternoon, they have sufficient work to occupy all their ordinary sittings for the next two weeks, and seeing the House is expecting to rise at the end of July or early in August what is the use of sending up more Bills in this way? Some of these Bills will certainly require very careful consideration. Ministers have admitted that experience has shown that the Standing Committee system works with increasing difficulty as the end of the Session approaches, and in the last few weeks it is more and more difficult to induce them to sit. They always resent being asked to sit unduly long hours. There are only a limited number of Members sitting on these two Committees, and I repeat the Government should take into consideration the strain which is being put on them.

Photo of Mr Stanley Holmes Mr Stanley Holmes , Derbyshire North Eastern

I have listened with admiration for some three years to the speeches of the Colonial Secretary, but I never before heard him make one so much in the nature of an appeal ad misericor-diam, as that to which we have just listened, in which he asks us to facilitate the second reading of these measures. There are one or two points in connexion with this Bill which I should like to have cleared up before the Committee stage is taken. For example, we are told that a record is to be kept on every vessel of its operations.

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

We are not now considering the merits of the Bill. The Question is "That the Debate be now adjourned."

Photo of Mr Stanley Holmes Mr Stanley Holmes , Derbyshire North Eastern

And when that is disposed of, I suppose I shall have an opportunity of discussing on the Motion for the Second Reading the points I desire to raise. I put this to the Colonial Secretary —having regard to the fact that there are a number of points in this Bill which it is desirable to clear up before the measure be sent to a Committee, and having before us our experience in connection with the proceedings on the Trades Union Bill, the debates on which in Committee might have been considerably curtailed had certain questions been cleared up on the motion for Second Reading—would it not be wiser to allow a reasonable amount of the Parliamentary time for a Second Reading debate on this Bill, and thus save the time of the Committee upstairs, and enable the Bill to go through there with the same ease as a vessel is able to secure a smooth passage through navigable waters on to which oil has been poured?

Photo of Mr Neil Maclean Mr Neil Maclean , Glasgow Govan

I want also to appeal to the Colonial Secretary to have these Bills withdrawn for to-night. The Bill which was before the House when this Motion was moved contains sufficient matter to make about 30 offences involving penalties, and it is too much to ask hon. Members to allow a Bill of this character to go through in a merely perfunctory manner. The Colonial Secretary suggests that these Bills can go to Committee upstairs, and that it will only be Committee points that will be brought out here. But it must be borne in mind that certain Members are also Members of the Committee upstairs, and that Committee sits in the morning. To carry on the Debate until the small hours of the morning, and expect Members to come back at eleven to sit on Committees—having tried, perhaps, while they are here in the small hours of the morning, to draft Amendments to the Bills they are going to discuss—is to put far too severe a strain upon them.

The other Bill to which we are asked to give a Third Reading is one which received considerable discussion on the Floor of the House, and Members took up a very determined attitude upon it. The same feeling might arise to-night if the Bill were now brought before the House, and, even with the number of Orders on the Paper, I think it is not too much to ask the Government to defer the discussion of these two Bills until a more suitable opportunity. We have done well for one day, and surely the Government might rest upon their laurels and allow the Debate to be adjourned till to-morrow, when we can go into these matters in more detail, and probably bring out those points which we could suggest.

Photo of Sir Cyril Entwistle Sir Cyril Entwistle , Kingston upon Hull South West

I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not persist in going on with this Bill. I assure him that there are a good many points on which it will meet with considerable opposition, and there is a real, sincere desire to discuss those points. We are not satisfied that the Bill is the innocuous Measure that the right hon. Gentleman tried to make us believe. He said that the amount of legislation which the Government are passing is necessitated by the complexities of our modern civilised life; but I think a great many of us are convinced now that some of these complexities are due to the excessive legislation which the Government passes, and that if we had a little less legislation we should be freed from some of these complexities. If there is one thing of which every business man in this country is convinced, it is that we want a little rest and surcease from this excessive legislation. We are ridden to death by Bills, and we want to be left alone. If the right hon. Gentleman says that six Measures in one evening is only a little bit on account, I think

it is an extraordinary argument to come from him, particularly as we understand that the Government have now, so to speak, repented of their past sins of over-legislation, and have come to the conclusion that it is time to leave the country with less legislation—that their duty now is to try to administer the country in a little better manner. In view of the fact that there are many points in this Bill about which we are not satisfied, and of which we shall want a good deal of explanation, I think the right hon. Gentleman would save the time of the House in the long run by accepting this Motion.

Question put, "That the Debate be now adjourned."

The House divided: Ayes. 39: Noes, 113.

Division No. 207.]AYES.[11.40 p.m.
Ammon, Charles GeorgeGrundy, T. W.Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)
Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)Guest, J. (York, W.R., Hemsworth)Rattan, Peter Wilson
Barton, Sir William (Oldham)Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)Rendall, Athelstan
Bromfield. WilliamHayday, ArthurRichardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)Hirst, G. H.Robertson, John
Cape, ThomasHogae, James MylesSitch, Charles H.
Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)Holmes, J. StanleySwan, J. E.
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)John, William (Rhondda, West)Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)Watts-Morgan. Lieut.-Col, D.
Entwistle, Major C. F.Lawson, John JamesWilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)
Foot, IsaacLunn, WilliamWintringham, Margaret
Gillis, WilliamMaclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D. (Midlothian)
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)Myers, ThomasLieut.-Colonel Arthur Murray and Mr. Penry Williams.
NOES.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. WilliamEyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.Moore-Brabazon. Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.
Agg-Gardner, Sir James TynteFildes, HenryMorden, Col. W. Grant
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.Ford, Patrick JohnstonMoreing, Captain Algernon H.
Atkey, A. R.Forest, WalterMurchison. C. K.
Baird, Sir John LawrenceFrance, Gerald AshburnerMurray, John (Leeds, West)
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. StanleyFraser, Major Sir KeithNewman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)
Balfour, George (Hampstead)Frece, Sir Walter deParker, James
Barlow, Sir MontagueFremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry
Barnett, Major Richard W.Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir JohnPease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike
Barnston, Major HarryGould, James C.Perkins, Walter Frank
Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray
Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)Greenwood, William (Stockport)Pratt, John William
Borwick, Major G. O.Greer, Sir HarryRaw, Lieutenant Colonel Dr. N.
Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.Greig, Colonel Sir James WilliamRemer, J. R.
Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.Gritten, W. G. HowardRenwick, Sir George
Breese, Major Charles E.Guthrie, Thomas MauleRichardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)
Brown, Major D. C.Hacking, Captain Douglas H.Roberts, Frederick O. (W. Bromwich)
Brown, Brig.-Gen. Clifton (Newbury)Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)
Bruton, Sir JamesHannon, Patrick Joseph HenryRoberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)
Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs, Stretford)
Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William JamesHerbert, Dennis (Hertford. Watford)Rutherford, Colonel Sir J. (Darwen)
Butcher, Sir John GeorgeHinds, JohnSamuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.Hood, Sir JosephSanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur
Casey, T. W.Hookins, John W. W.Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)
Cobb, Sir CyrilHoufton, John PlowrightSmith, W. R. (Wellingborough)
Curzon, Captain ViscountJephcott, A. R.Stanley. Major Hon. G. (Preston)
Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)Kellaway, Rt. Hon, Fredk. GeorgeStanton, Charles Butt
Dawson, Sir PhilipKing, Captain Henry DouglasStewart, Gershom
Dewhurst, Lieut.-Commander HarryLorden, John WilliamSugden, W. H.
Doyle, N. GrattanLort-Williams, J.Sutherland, Sir William
Edge, Captain Sir WilliamMcLaren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester)Sykes, Sir Charles (Huddersfield)
Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)Mailalieu, Frederick WilliamThomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)
Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)Manville, EdwardThomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)
Evans, ErnestMason, RobertTryon, Major George Clement
Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Waring, Major WalterWindsor, ViscountColonel Leslie Wilson and Lieut.-
Williams. C. (Tavistock)Wise, FrederickColonel Gibbs.
Williams, Lt.-Col. Sir R. (Banbury)Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)

Original Question again proposed.

Photo of Sir William Mitchell-Thomson Sir William Mitchell-Thomson , Glasgow Maryhill

I am sorry that the vials of my right hon. Friend's wrath should be emptied upon the head of this Bill, because I believe, on examination, that it will be found not to be quite so obnoxious as he is tempted to regard it. I will try to give the House one or two indications of what the Bill does and the reasons why I think it deserves to be passed It is sent to us from another place but, unlike the measure that I had the honour of moving in this House some hours ago, which also was sent from another place, I hope the right hon. Gentleman, and those hon. Members who support him will not be able to discover any imperfections whatever in it. The Bill seeks to deal with a problem which is entirely new and which is brought before us by the development of oil for use as fuel and also as a propulsive force. Both of these uses are very important. While one has to exercise considerable care to make sure that nothing in the proposals of the Bill will stop a development of that useful nature, one roust ensure that it does not take place in such a way as to be a cause of danger or a nuisance to other members of the community. Perhaps those hon. Members who have expressed some anxiety about Bills being rushed, will be relieved to hear that this Bill represents the result of discussions over a period of something like 15 months, between all the interests concerned, shipowners, docks and harbour companies, oil companies, and representatives of various local authorities, all of whom have laid their views before the Board of Trade. One Bill represents the substantial agreement of all these interests. One evil that is taking place through the escape of a certain quantity of fuel oil in territorial waters is already serious, and it is likely to become increasingly serious as the use of oil increases. The escape in harbours is actually a source of danger, because there is considerable danger of fire. The escape in seaways and on beaches is a nuisance of a serious character. There is hardly a seaside resort on the narrow waters round the coast, from which complaints have not been received in increasing volume during the past few years as to the presence of oil on the beaches. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has made the strongest representations to us as to the effect which the oil is having upon bird life. Those interested in the oyster fisheries are finding the escape of oil is a matter of great difficulty, and possibly of menace, to those fisheries, and those interested in fisheries generally are afraid that the presence of oil on the waters at sea is having some effect upon the sea life that moves backwards and forwards in the sea, and the somewhat erratic variations that have taken place in the past few years in the movement of herrings may be due to some extent to the presence of this oil. Therefore, we called those interested, into conference, and this Bill represents agreement amongst all those concerned.

The essence of the Bill is in Clause 1, which makes it a penal offence to discharge oil, or to allow oil to escape into navigable waters within territorial limits, either from a ship, or from a pier or any place on land, or from any apparatus used for the purpose of transferring oil. The remainder of the Bill, including the Clause to which the hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge) drew attention, is merely machinery, I cannot and I do not pretend that this Bill is going to be a complete cure for the nuisance. We can only legislate in this House for those waters which lie within the jurisdiction of His Majesty. We can only legislate for territorial waters, three miles from the shore. A considerable portion of the nuisance, particularly the nuisance which is taking place round the Isle of Thanet and the Essex coast, is undoubtedly due to the oil discharged in the Estuary of the Thames. Of the oil discharged in other estuaries a considerable portion undoubtedly is deposited on neighbouring beaches. A certain amount of oil is discharged at sea, beyond the three-miles limit, and a portion of it washes back to our coasts. For that we cannot be responsible, but we hope to try by some form of international agreement to secure some regulation which will apply to the ships of all nations. We put forward this Bill as representing a substantial measure of agreement, with the object of eradicating an existing and a growing evil.

Photo of Sir Cyril Entwistle Sir Cyril Entwistle , Kingston upon Hull South West

The speech of the Parliamentary Secretary showed the importance of the Motion for the Adjournment, and the necessity of discussing this Bill. The object of the Bill as explained by the hon. Baronet is very laudable. The protection of our fisheries is a matter of great importance, and if I were convinced that the Bill would have that result it would have my most cordial support. I was glad to hear that that was one of the reasons for which the Bill is introduced. But there is a number of clauses which will operate in a very restrictive way on shippers and other people. For instance, the last clause pro- vides that every shipper should keep a record which shall be at all times liable to inspection by harbour masters, and people on behalf of the Board of Trade, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, the Fishery Board of Scotland, and the Ministry of Commerce for Northern Ireland, and they cannot do any pumping without giving a certain amount of notice, and every vessel shall be open to inspection on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture and other Ministries. These are measures which are somewhat oppressive, and should not be adopted unless the cause is very urgent. I think that the hon. Member has made out a very good case for the Bill, but that it would have been better to deal with it at greater length, in order to explain why this Clause which in other respects is oppressive to another industry should have come about. In any event I am glad that, owing to the protest which we made, we have had a comparatively full explanation from the Member.

12 M.

Photo of Mr James Hogge Mr James Hogge , Edinburgh East

I think that we have not really got to the centre of the explanation of the Bill. It sets up another penal offence, and we have not been told how the Parliamentary Secretary proposes to detect the perpetrators of this particular offence. He has told us, for instance, that round the coast of Thanet, or in what he describes as closed waters, there is any amount of this oil floating on the surface, and that it comes in to the shore where it becomes a nuisance and detrimental to bird life around the cost. Everybody who has gone to any watering place will have observed oil floating on the water. But how can we detect the perpetrators of that offence? We have not jurisdiction out of the three mile limit. After all, the three mile limit round the coast of these islands is an enormous territory to police, and who is going to do it? I do net know whether the hon. Gentleman can tell us whether the Board of Trade have ever thought of that at all, but obviously if you are going to have a proper system of detection, if this is—an offence—and something that ought really to be put down by penalties, you ought to have a proper system of detection. To begin with, I do not see how-it is going to be done. How are you going to distinguish between oil discharged three-and-a-half miles from the coast and within the three-mile limit; how, if it is discharged by some fast steamer outside the three-mile limit are you going to arrest that steamer and bring the perpetrators to justice?

There are a number)' of other iniquitous proposals in this Bill which have not been explained. What is the meaning for the extraordinary Sub-section (1)— It shall not be lawful between the hours of sunset and sunrise to transfer any oil to or from any vessel lying in any harbour unless notice of intention so to do has been given in accordance with the Section. … I am not experienced in shipping. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear"] That is why I am expecting all those who agree to that proposition, and who by that agreement admit that they are experienced to join in this discussion and explain to us—

Photo of Mr Dennis Herbert Mr Dennis Herbert , Watford

You expect too much!

Photo of Mr James Hogge Mr James Hogge , Edinburgh East

You cannot expect too much from the Coalition Government. We hope they will be able intelligently to explain what their Bill means, and that those Members who have experience of shipping will meet the point I propose now to make, despite my inexperience. Boats come in and out of harbours largely on account of the tide. It is a question of high water in the particular port as to whether boats come in or leave. Suppose, as is often the case, that it is necessary for a boat to turn round and get away as soon as possible, here is a further restriction on the movement of many large vessels which says that between sunset and sunrise they dare not load up their vessels with the only article that would take them out of the harbour unless notice is given of intention so to do. Of course! But, as a matter of fact, it is not always easy to give notice of the day on which you are going to sail.

Photo of Sir William Mitchell-Thomson Sir William Mitchell-Thomson , Glasgow Maryhill

Only three hours' notice is required.

Photo of Mr James Hogge Mr James Hogge , Edinburgh East

It does not say so here.

HON. MEMBERS:

Subsection (3).

Photo of Mr James Hogge Mr James Hogge , Edinburgh East

I am dealing with Subsection (2). When I have reached Subsection (3) I will deal with it. That just shows how premature and inexperienced certain Members are in the discussion of a Bill brought before the House at this time of the night. Here is a restriction imposing another deterrent on all people engaged in industry. I will leave Subsection (2), and come to Subsection (3), which I understand deals with this question of the three hours. Which paragraph?

Photo of Mr James Hogge Mr James Hogge , Edinburgh East

Sub-section (3) of Clause 2 says notice must be given to the harbour master of the harbour in which the vessel is lying, and shall be of no effect unless given at least three hours and not more than ninety-six hours before the time at which the operation of transferring the oil commences. That means that the owner of the vessel or whoever is in charge of it must find the harbour master or some competent official acting for the harbour master, and obtain permission before transferring the oil. Why should it be necessary to get the harbour master' permission to transfer oil? Is it necessary to get the harbour master's permission to transfer coal from one vessel to another? If there is anything in this development of oil fuel for ships; if we are building ships for oil fuel—as we are largely doing in the Navy—and if these vessels are to be of the same utility as other vessels which sail the seas, these vessels must have the same facilities for working.

Photo of Mr Austin Hopkinson Mr Austin Hopkinson , Mossley

Coal-fired vessels do not throw the coal overboard.

Photo of Mr James Hogge Mr James Hogge , Edinburgh East

Only a foolish captain would dream of throwing oil overboard but oil escapes in many mysterious ways. Everybody who has had any experience of machinery, from a motor car to any form of engine knows the difficulty of retaining oil. We are discussing a Bill to prevent oil being strewn around the shores of the country. What about the oil strewn in the streets of this city? It is found impossible in many parts of London for anything but motor-driven vehicles to go along the streets because of the amount of oil emitted from engines and strewn on the roadway. You cannot interfere with a big industry like this and say that a man who owns or controls a vessel burning oil fuel must get this permission before being able to take in fuel. If that is done then no progress will be made in that industry. I also ask the Parliamentary Secretary what is the object of keeping records as provided in Clause 3. I believe I could find a reason. It might be necessary to consult a harbour master inside a limited period, but why in the name of common sense keep these records? There is only one object in keeping a record, namely, that it may be examined. If these records are going to be examined, that means a fresh body of officials and fresh Departmental work. If it is suspected that the s.s. so-and-so on a certain date emitted oil within the three-mile limit, I suppose the news will be telegraphed or wirelessed to her port of destination, and the records will be looked up and she will be dealt with. That means a great number, of new officials. There is a Clause dealing with power to inspect premises and vessels. We do not do that with coal. If oil fuel is all that is claimed for it, why impose these conditions upon it. These are some of the reasons which induce one to believe that it is a mistake to enter upon a discussion at this time of the morning, when one might be enjoying rest instead of trying to pour oil on the troubled waters of those who regret that they have been kept up to support the Government in doing that which it ought not to do at this time of the morning.

Photo of Mr George Renwick Mr George Renwick , Newcastle upon Tyne Central

I think hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite are not aware that this is a Bill that has been carefully considered by the Chamber of Shipping, representing the ship-owning interests, by practically all the port and harbour authorities, and by ail the oil interests, the dealers in oil and the storers and carriers of oil. The hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hoģģe) seems to think we ought to deal with oil in the same way as that in which we deal with coal, and be able to discharge it at night freely and without interference. He evidently has little knowledge of the danger there is in connection with the loading and discharging of oil. Is he aware that in narrow waters oil floats on the water? I myself have known in very recent times of a case where a ship has been lying in a waterway, and somebody has thrown a match over or possibly dropped a bit of hot cinder, and immediately there has been a flame and the ship has become involved in flames. I have known also a case where a ship has been in dry dock, and there has been oil in the bottom of the dry dock, and a boy dropped a cinder, and the whole place was in flames at once. In view of such facts, surely it is not unreasonable that a Bill should be brought in to deal with the situation. I would remind the hon. Members opposite that we are not dealing with oil discharged outside the territorial limit of three miles, but with oil that is discharged in narrow waters, such as harbours, navigable rivers, and canals.

The Bill is imposing great obligations and great penalties upon shipowners and harbour authorities, but they recognise the danger of the thing, and they are prepared in consequence to shoulder these responsibilities. To-morrow one of our great harbour authorities is opening a special dock that has been made to take the ships that are discharging oil, and it is specially fitted up for the purpose. I am invited to go to-morrow to accompany the harbour authorities to open this dock, the construction of which shows the responsibility entailed upon all harbour authorities in dealing with this great danger. Therefore, I hope hon. Members opposite who oppose the Bill will at least not oppose it in the trivial way in which the hon. Member for East Edinburgh opposed it. All these small matters can be dealt with in Committee, but here is a menace and a danger with which we have been threatened for some years, and it is becoming more and more dangerous as the traffic in oil increases. Here is an effort to deal with the matter, and I hope the House will give this Bill a Second Reading and send it to Committee upstairs, where any of these small points can be properly dealt with.

Photo of Mr Donald Maclean Mr Donald Maclean , Peebles and Southern

The hon. Member for Central Newcastle (Sir G. Renwick) has made a case for the Bill, and has shown how right is our position in this matter, namely, that a beneficial Measure of this kind should be explained to the House and to the country at a time when the Press—for that is what it comes to—will give publicity to it. The speech of the hon. Member for Central Newcastle is one which, had it been delivered at a normal hour, would have received the publicity which it deserves, and that is the case we are making. It is exactly the point which we are insisting upon, quite as much to our own inconvenience as to that of any other hon. Member of the House. It is a point which we, within the limits of what we ought to do as House of Commons men, are determined to insist upon, and that is that these Measures, however desirable they may be, should be debated. I hope any other hon. Member who can give a valuable contribution to the Debate in a concise form will do so.

Photo of Mr Stanley Holmes Mr Stanley Holmes , Derbyshire North Eastern

The hon. Member for Central Newcastle (Sir G. Renwick) has made a very fair defence of the Bill, but surely it would be better to settle various points which are before the House than to defer them to the Committee stage. There is one Clause in the Bill in regard to which I should like to have an explanation, and that is the Cause which says: The expression master of a vessel means the person named as the master in the agreement with the crew. When I first read that it appeared to me to be pure Bolshevism. Surely the master of a vessel should be a person in the employment of the owner, and not a person in agreement with the. crew. If the Colonial Secretary, who has now left us, were here, he might have explained what that Sub-section (3) of Clause 4 means, especially in view of the fact that in Clause 8 it says: The expression 'muster' when used in relation to any vessel means the person having the command or charge of the vessel for the time being— Yet in Clause 4 it says the master must be in agreement with the crew.

Photo of Mr Stanley Holmes Mr Stanley Holmes , Derbyshire North Eastern

I will. It says: The expression 'muster of a vessel' means the person named as the master in the agreement with the crew.

Photo of Mr George Renwick Mr George Renwick , Newcastle upon Tyne Central

"In the agreement"—not in agreement.

Photo of Mr Stanley Holmes Mr Stanley Holmes , Derbyshire North Eastern

Yes, I see. [Laughter.] I am delighted to have provoked laughter at 12.19 a.m. from the Coalition Benches. What happens if the master "for the time being," mentioned in Clause 8, is not the master "in the agreement with the crew," mentioned in Clause 4? That is the point which I am sorry the Colonial Secretary is not now here to explain to the House, because surely the master who is in the agreement with the crew must be a Bolshevist master, and if he is not, there is no one better fitted in this House to explain it, if the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade will pardon me for Haying so, than the Colonial Secretary, because we regard him as an expert so far as anti-Bolshevism is concerned. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade will perhaps be able to explain if the Colonial Secretary does not come, for we regard him also as an expert.

Lieut.-Colonel A. MURRAY:

I dissent entirely from the view of the Parliamentary Secretary that there should be no Second Beading discussion and that we should leave these maters to be dealt with in Committee. If so they might not be dealt with at all. I have been able to-night to hand in at the Table a couple of Amendments to previous Bills both of which have been accepted by the Government, and if a Second Reading had not taken place these points would not have been noticed and these valuable Amend ments to the Bill would not have been made. I wish to emphasise two points of importance in (his Bill. The first is that the Bill may be very nearly a dead letter

unless some agreement is come to with the countries adjacent to us, France, Germany, the Scandinavian countries and so on, and I would ask those in charge of the Bill to attend to this matter at the earliest possible moment. There is one other matter. I have the honour to represent a fishing constituency in Scotland. I have had considerable experience of the difficulties entailed by prosecutions even without the three-mile limit. My hon. Friend knows well it is extremely difficult to prove whether or not a trawler has been trawling within the three-mile limit. In many cases prosecutions have been entered upon, convictions obtained, and penalties imposed which afterwards have been found not to be justified by the facts. How is it proposed to carry out the inspection in English waters, harbours, and the sea? How is it proposed to prove that in a particular instance of a mile or two in the outer seas a ship, particularly a large ship, was discharging oil? In the case of a large merchantman the fine of £50 might not affect the captain or owner one way or another, but that fine, if imposed upon the master of a trawler—for trawlers are using oil—and where it was not justified by the facts it would be a very serious matter indeed. I hope the hon. Gentleman will be able to give us some information.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

Motion made, and Question put, "That the Bill be committed to a Committee of the Whole House."—[Mr. Holmes.]

The House divided: Ayes, 16; Noes, 98.

Division No. 208.]AYES.[12.26 a.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. WilliamJohn, William (Rhondda, West)Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)Maclean, Rt. Hn, Sir D. (Midlothian)Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D.
Entwistle, Major C. F.Murray, Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough, E.)
Foot, IsaacO'Grady, Captain James
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)Rendall, AthelstanMr. Hogge and Mr. Holmes.
Hayday, Arthur
NOES.
Agg-Gardner, Sir James TynteBorwick, Major G. O.Curzon, Captain Viscount
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M.S.Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.Davidson, J. C. C.(Hemel Hempstead)
Atkey, A. R.Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.Dewhurst, Lieut.-Commander Harry
Baird, Sir John LawrenceBreese, Major Charles E.Doyle, N. Grattan
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. StanleyBrown, Major D. C.Edge, Captain Sir William
Balfour, George (Hampstead)Brown, Brig.-Gen. Clifton (Newbury)Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)
Barlow, Sir MontagueBruton, Sir JamesEdwards, Major J. (Aberavon)
Barnett, Major Richard W.Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)
Barnston, Major HarryCampion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.Evans, Ernest
Barrle, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)Casey, T. W.Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.
Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.Fildes, Henry
Ford, Patrick JohnstonKellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. GeorgeRoberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)
Forrest, WalterKing, Captain Henry DouglasRoberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford).
France, Gerald AshburnerLort-Williams, J.Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)
Fraser, Major Sir KeithManville, EdwardSanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur
Frece, Sir Walter deMason, RobertShortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)
Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.Mond, Rt, Hon. Sir Alfred MoritzSmith, Sir Harold (Warrington)
Gibbs, Colonel George AbrahamMoore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col J. T. C.Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)
Gilmour, Lieut-Colonel Sir JohnMorden, Col. W. GrantStanton, Charles Butt
Goff, Sir R. ParkMoreing, Captain Algernon H.Sugden, W. H.
Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)Murchison, C. K.Sutherland, Sir William
Greenwood, William (Stockport)Murray, John (Leeds, West)Sykes, Sir Charles (Huddersfield)
Greer, Sir HarryNewman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)
Greig, Colonel Sir James WilliamNicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)Tryon, Major George Clement
Guthrie, Thomas MauleParker, JamesWaring, Major Walter
Hacking, Captain Douglas H.Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas HenryWilliams, C. (Tavistock)
Hannon, Patrick Joseph HenryPease, Rt. Hon. Herbert PikeWilliams, Lt.-Col. Sir R. (Banbury)
Harmsworth, C, B. (Bedford, Luton)Perkins, Walter FrankWindsor, Viscount
Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest MurrayWise, Frederick
Hinds, JohnRaw, Lieutenant-Colonel Dr. N.Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)
Hood, Sir JosephRemer, J. R.
Hopkins, John W. W.Renwick, Sir GeorgeTELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Moseley)Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr.
Houfton, John PlowrightRoberts, Frederick O. (W. Bromwich)Dudley Ward.

Bill read the Third time, and passed.