HC Deb 26 March 1877 vol 233 cc494-5

asked the President of the Board of Trade, What steps, if any, have been taken to prevent the owner's load-line of ships from being submerged. in Foreign ports, contrary to the Act 39 and 40 Vic. c. 80, s. 28; whether any steps have been taken to ascertain what vessels arrive in English ports with the load-line so submerged; and, whether in the latter case any steps are being taken to enforce the penalties provided by the Act, seeing that vessels are frequently arriving from Spanish ports laden with ore with the load-line under water?


also asked, Whether there had been any inquiries in recent cases where vessels had foundered with all hands?


Sir, I will endeavour, in a very few words, to answer these Questions. As to the first, there are no means of preventing a load-line being submerged in a foreign port, unless in a case coming within the powers of a Naval Court, as on the complaint of a crow of unseaworthiness or by shipowners interested. Consuls have occasionally reported a case, on which the Board of Trade makes inquiry and takes steps accordingly. On surveyors or anyone reporting the arrival of a ship with the load-line submerged, the Board of Trade immediately proceed to investigate the case. No prosecutions have yet been thought advisable, but cautions have been given in two cases reported. With regard to the Question of the hon. Member for Birkenhead, three official inquiries have been ordered about vessels reported missing during this winter—1, the Halley, which left Malta for Falmouth, was spoken off Gibraltar on the 3rd of December, and has not been since heard of. Inquiry was abandoned, because there was no evidence of suspicious circumstances. 2, The Colombo, of Hull, which left in December, was spoken on voyage and not since heard of; and 3, the Great Queensland, emigrant ship. There is a trial going on at Cardiff for misdemeanour on a charge of sending an unseaworthy ship to sea.