HC Deb 29 July 1879 vol 248 cc1525-6

asked the President of the Board of Trade, Whether his attention has been called to a relation in the "Times" of July 24th of an accident resulting in the loss of life of a stoker named Weeks, of the passenger steamer "Albert Edward," plying between Folkestone and Boulogne, in the attempt to save a suicide; whether the means of rescue by boats are, in his opinion, adequate as regards the number of passengers licensed to be conveyed in the steamers crossing the Channel; and, whether he is satisfied that the condition of and means of lowering the boats in case of collision or other accident are such as they should be?


Sir, our attention has been drawn to the subject of the hon. Baronet's Question. An inquiry has been ordered by the Board of Trade into the circumstances of the melancholy loss of life on the occasion to which he refers, and until a Report has been received of that inquiry I should not like to pronounce an opinion upon the condition of the boats in the Channel steamers. With regard to the number of boats carried in each steamer, I think I answered a Question earlier in the Session, and I can only repeat what I then said—namely, that the Merchant Shipping Acts do not compel passenger ships to carry boats and rafts sufficient to accommodate the whole of their crews and passengers; that such a number of boats would seriously interfere with the management of the ship and even if they could be provided for on board ship it would be almost impossible to lower them in case of emergency. I may add that, as regards boats, their number and contents are settled by Statute according to the tonnage of the vessel.