HC Deb 23 February 1875 vol 222 cc751-2

asked the President of the Board of Trade, Whether Board of Trade inquiries have been held to ascertain the cause of loss of the following steamers:—Alice 975 tons, Bride 1,341 tons, King Leopold 867 tons, Scorpio 885 tons, Stad Brugge 1,128 tons, Viceroy 1,139 tons, George Batters 1,116 tons, Berar 1,033 tons, Kathleen Mary 1,268 tons, Thornaby 1,472 tons, reported as missing, and supposed to have foundered, with all hands, in the months of October, November, and December 1874, and January, 1875, and the reasons for holding or not holding inquiries in each case; similar information as to the following steamers:—La Plata 1,218 tons, Clifton 543 tons, Precursor 791 tons, Violet 1,281 tons, Alpha 1,292 tons, Emma David 1,733 tons, Cortes 1,517 tons, abandoned and, in some cases, with loss of life during the same period of time; and, whether the Board of Trade propose to compensate Captain Robson, of the steamer "Alpha," of Hull, for the injury done him by the cancelling of his certificate for twelve months, which has since been returned to him?


, in reply, said, the first 10 steamers had been reported by their owners as missing, and all that could be supposed was that the steamers, with their crews, had all gone down, and therefore, in the absence of any kind of evidence, there had been no inquiries made, except in the case of the Viceroy. In that case, the Board of Trade tried if they could in any way investigate the cause of her loss, and sent to the port from which she started for evidence. They were, however, unable to obtain any. He must, however, ask the House to listen to what Mr. Travis, before whom the inquiry was held, said on that occasion. He expressed his deep regret that so much valuable time had been wasted by calling witnesses who practically had been of no use whatever, and said that his regret was increased by his opinion and that of the assessors that the liberality of the Board in granting unusual facilities for the production of evidence had been abused in a manner utterly indefensible. The George Batters was surveyed before she went to sea, and pronounced seaworthy. If reported otherwise, the Board of Trade would have instituted inquiry about her. Of the list of seven steamers, six had been inquired into, but not the Emma David, she being a foreign ship, and lost out of British jurisdiction. In the case of Captain Robson, of the Alpha, the Court suspended his certificate for two years. The Board of Trade had no power to pass sentence, but it had to remit it when passed, and on reviewing the circumstances the Board restored his certificate. There was no power under any Act of Parliament to compensate Captain Robson for his loss of time.