HC Deb 02 May 1879 vol 245 cc1581-3

, who had a Question on the Paper asking the President of the Board of Trade, If it is true that the certificate of Mr. George Chaddock, Into master of the schooner "Gipsy Queen," lost on Kimmeridge Ledges, near St. Alban's Head, on 2nd December last, was, at a Court of Inquiry held in Glasgow before two borough justices, suspended for six months upon the evidence of part of the crew; whether he is aware that the principal witnesses have since the trial admitted their statements made in court to have been untrue; whether there is now any practical appeal from such a decision, and if it is the case that Mr. Chaddock still remains without his certificate, and that the Board of Trade are withholding its return in order to avoid rendering the department liable to an action for damages; and, whether it is the fact that Mr. Chaddock is a person of undoubted good character, and that certain allegations have been made in regard to insurance which would seem to indicate that the Board of Trade has prosecuted the wrong man, and that there should in consequence be some further inquiry? said that, with the permission of the House, he would withdraw that portion of his Question which referred to allegations in regard to insurance; but that, in justice to the owners of the vessel, he could hardly do so without a word of explanation. This vessel, he found, belonged to respectable people, and there was not the smallest reason to suppose that the mishap was otherwise than accidental.


It is impossible for me to go into this long case within the limits of the answer to a Question. I shall be happy to show my hon. Friend a letter which I addressed lately to the gentlemen who brought Mr. Chaddock's case before me, which fully explains the whole matter. I shall probably think it desirable to lay the Papers on the Table of the House, as considerable interest has been felt in many quarters on the subject. I must, however, so far answer the general part of the Question as to say that there is an appeal in these cases to the Board of Trade, who have the power of returning the certificate; but that, as we have no power to examine witnesses or to try the case over again, we do not consider ourselves justified in interfering with the decision of a duly-constituted Court except under very special circumstances. I am somewhat surprised at my hon. Friend's other Questions. I think it hardly necessary for me to say that if I believed the wrong man, as his Question suggests, had been prosecuted, I should not hesitate to avow our mistake and to act accordingly; and that I should never think of declining, as he suggests, to return a certificate, if the justice of the case demanded it, in order to avoid rendering the Department for which I am responsible liable to an action for damages.