HC Deb 10 February 1859 vol 152 cc220-1

said, he wished to ask the Secretary of State for India the name of the owner or owners of the troop- ship General Simpson, which left England for Calcutta on the 8th of August last with draughts of Her Majesty's 80th and other regiments on board, amounting to upwards of 400 men, and which reached Calcutta on the 22nd of December; whether it is true, that, although the contractor is bound to have provisions and water for 140 days on board, officers, soldiers, and crew were placed for several weeks on short allowance of both food and water, the lower tier of water tanks having been found empty; and, whether any explanation of the unusually long voyage of the General Simpson (137 days from England to Calcutta), and of the circumstances alluded to, has been given to the Indian Department?


—The owners of the troopship General Simpson are Messrs. Fernie, Brothers, of Liverpool. The General Simpson was engaged for the transport, from Gravesend to Calcutta of 10 officers and 402 men, being draughts for fourteen different regiments. She sailed on the 8th of August, and arrived at Calcutta on the 22nd of the following December, having been 137 days out. The owners were bound to take out provisions, stores, and water for the soldiers, as well as for the crew, for 140 days. Previous to starting the vessel was visited by the embarking officer, and he verified that the proper quantity of provisions was on board. No papers have been received at the Indian Office from Calcutta, where the final settlement of the freight is made, on the subject of this ship, and I am therefore unable to explain the reasons of this unusually long voyage. On the 7th inst. a letter was received at the India Office from the Deputy Quarter Master General containing the following report from the officer who commanded the troops on board the General Simpson:—"The troops were without porter for the last six weeks of the voyage. The provisions very good except porter. Troops placed on short rations of water—an unusually wet passage." It appears that neither the owners nor brokers of the ship have yet received intelligence beyond the following by the last homeward mail. "Simpson was just towing up the Hooghly, and had been spoken a few days before, short of water." No further explanation can be given, but under the circumstances I have thought it right to institute an inquiry.