HC Deb 23 June 1854 vol 134 cc614-5

I wish, Sir, to ask the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty whether the Europa sailed from England on her voyage alone, or in company with any other ship or transport; and if no such regulation is established, has the Board of Admiralty considered the propriety of arranging, when practicable, and as a precaution, that hereafter no transport with troops on board shall commence her voyage to a foreign station without a consort?


Mr. Speaker, the loss of the Europa has certainly deeply afflicted me, and has given rise to most serious considerations, some of them of a professional character; and in consequence of the loss of that vessel, strict injunctions have been issued by the Board of Admiralty that all smoking, on the part of either soldiers or sailors, in the lower deck, which was before prohibited, shall, under the strictest regulations, be henceforth entirely put down; because the House will be aware that on the day preceding the fatal loss of the Europa, a fire did take place upon the lower deck, which was clearly traced to smoking. That fire, however, appears to have been soon extinguished. I may further state that fresh instructions have been issued with respect to the stowage of cargo on board transports; and that additional precautions have been taken, in reference to such articles as oil and coals, which might be liable to spontaneous combustion, in order to guard against that danger. These are some of the professional considerations which have occurred to me. There are also moral considerations, to which I will not now advert, but which cannot fail to present themselves to the minds of hon. Members of this House, in connection with the heroic conduct of the lamented Colonel Moore, and with the conduct of both soldiers and sailors in the extremity of danger. But I must say, that until I read the notice of my hon. and gallant Friend, the consideration which he has suggested did not occur to my mind. I do not think that, whatever accidents may have occurred, the time has arrived when it should be held out to our soldiers and to our sailors, that the danger of crossing the sea in a single ship is such as to make it necessary that precautions should be taken that ships shall sail in company. Those who are least inured to hardships, and least accustomed to danger—our emigrants—proceed across the sea in single ships. The mails and the passengers by our mail packets are conveyed across the sea in single ships. Even gentlemen in pleasure yachts proceed across the sea in single ships. It was only last year that a noble Friend of mine made a voyage to Australia in a vessel of only 300 tons; and that men inured to hardships like our soldiers and our sailors should no longer proceed across the sea in single ships is, I confess, a consideration which did not occur to my mind.