HC Deb 27 May 1867 vol 187 cc1130-1

said, he wished to ask the Vice President of the Board of Trade, What steps have been taken by the Board of Trade in consequence of the increased number of cases of sea scurvy admitted on board the Dreadnought from British ships, and of the representation made by the Committee of the Seamen's Hospital Society as to this disease being now almost exclusively confined to the Mercantile Marine of the United Kingdom?


, in reply, said, scurvy was caused, as the House knew, by want of vegetable acids, and had formerly prevailed on land, especially in garrison towns. It was not only unknown at the present day in the Royal Navy, but also in the French Navy and Mercantile Marine, owing, no doubt, to the use of light wine and vegetables. By the Merchant Seamen's Act, 7 & 8 Vict., and the Merchant Shipping Act 17 & 18 Vict., captains of merchant ships were compelled to carry limejuice, which was by far the best remedy yet known; and masters of ships were bound to serve it out after the crews had been living for ten days on salt provisions. During the passage of these Acts through Parliament the appointment of Inspectors was transferred from the Board of Trade to Local Marine Boards, and it appeared from printed correspondence laid before Parliament last Session, that they declined to appoint Inspectors. There were two evils at work—the adulteration of the limejuice, and its stowage in improper vessels, where it was spoilt. The Acts of Parliament gave no power to inspect the stores where the limejuice was deposited, nor was there any provision to ensure the limejuice being carried in proper vessels. There was a penalty in the Act for selling adulterated limejuice, but it was necessary to prove that it was sold to a particular ship. For two years past the Board of Trade had inquired into every bad case of scurvy, and in many cases both accommodation and provisions had been excellent. A Bill would shortly be introduced by the President of the Board of Trade to remedy these defects in the law; and a consultation was going on with the Customs on the subject of mixing spirits and limejuice in bond, in order that it might be taken on board mixed, together with the other bonded stores. Hon. Members would find the fullest information on this important subject in Papers laid before Parliament during the last and present Session.