HC Deb 24 April 1882 vol 268 cc1253-4

asked the President of the Board of Trade, Whether his attention has been called to the numerous collisions which take place between steamships, and the great loss of life and property arising therefrom; and, whether he would consider the expediency of amending the Merchant Shipping Act so as to make it compulsory for all vessels carrying passengers to be fitted with longitudinal bulkheads so as to subdivide their water-tight compartments?


I am fully aware of the number of collisions between steamships. It is, however, satisfactory to know that the number of lives lost by collisions at sea has decreased considerably during the past two years, notwithstanding the great increase in the number and size of seagoing steamships. For the greater security of life and property, I look rather to the strict observance of the Rule of the Road than to any attempt to regulate the details of construction of ships by Act of Parliament. This view is supported by experience. At one time the Merchant Shipping Acts contained an enactment on the subject of bulkheads; but the minimum required by a Statute is apt to become the maximum in practice; and since the Compulsory Clause was repealed the number of bulkheads has greatly increased, and they have also become more efficient.