§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
Sir, before addressing to the Secretary of the Board of Trade the Question which stands in my name on the Paper, I wish, in consequence of communications which I received this morning from Liverpool, to preface that Question by another, of which I have given the hon. Gentleman private notice. I wish to ask, whether all casualties at sea are reported to the Board of Trade; and, whether the hon. Gentleman is aware that since the 1st of January last nine steamships have been lost, seven of which foundered at sea with, great loss of life, and that most of these casualties are attributed to the want of proper bulkheads and of a proper check upon overloading? If my hon. Friend is not prepared at once to answer this Question, which he will see relates to a subject of great importance, I shall be happy to furnish him with the names of the ships and other particulars which have been supplied to me. I wish now to ask the Question which stands on the Paper—namely, Whether any confirmation has been received of a statement in a letter in a recent number of "The Times," that when the "City of Boston" 69 left Halifax "she was deeply laden with wheat in bags, being eighteen or twenty inches deeper than the insurance allows," thus showing the too great probability that the ship, with all on board her, have been lost from the same cause of deep lading that led to the loss of the "London;" whether any action has been taken by the Board of Trade on this subject in consequence of the Report presented to them by the Institute of Naval Architects, as the result of a protracted investigation by scientific men, after the loss of the "London," of this question of overlading; and, whether it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to take any steps, either by legislation or by the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry, for the protection of Her Majesty's subjects from this great source of danger in packet ships?
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
said, in reply to that part of the Question of the right hon. Baronet having reference to the City of Boston, he had to inform the House that the Board of Trade had received no confirmation of the statement contained in an anonymous letter, to the effect that the City of Boston was overladen when she loft Halifax. He thought it but fair to the owners of that vessel to state that he had received from Mr. Inman the most emphatic contradiction of this statement. He said that his agent at Halifax had reported to him that the actual draught of water of the vessel when she left that port was twenty-one feet seven inches, which was from seven to nine inches less than on any of her previous voyages. He also enclosed a statement of the cargo actually on board. This had been submitted to the professional officers at the Board of Trade, who reported that it was quite impossible that with a cargo of such a nature and with the great accommodation which, in a vessel like the City of Boston, was set apart for passengers, she could have been overladen, or that her loss, if she were unfortunately lost, could be due to that cause. Mr. Inman, in his letter, added—We are uninsured for more than £50,000 on the vessel, her stores, and freight, under which circumstances we are the last persons likely to overload our vessels. It is not for us to appear before the public to buoy up hopes which may be disappointed, but we believe the vessel to be afloat.With reference to the other Question, he must ask the right hon. Baronet to let 70 him postpone his answer until he was furnished, as promised, with the names of the vessels to which the right hon. Gentleman alluded. He was unable to say whether nine vessels had foundered at sea since the beginning of the year from want of proper bulkheads. The Report of the Society of Naval Architects, to which the right hon. Gentleman alluded, was presented four years ago; but successive Governments had thought it inexpedient to adopt its recommendations, and in the new Merchant Shipping Bill it was not proposed to legislate in that direction.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, his hon. Friend had not answered his Question whether the Government proposed to remove the source of danger to which he had alluded either by legislation or a Royal Commission?
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
said, he had stated already that it was not intended to legislate upon the subject in the new Merchant Shipping Bill, nor did he intend to propose a Royal Commission on the subject.