HC Deb 01 May 1882 vol 268 c1815

asked the President of the Board of Trade, What number of passengers the "Albert Edward" is licensed to carry in her trips across the Channel, and what number of these could her boats accommodate in case of an accident; whether he is aware that in the United States of America a Law exists compelling all passenger ships to be provided with such numbers of boats, rafts, life-preservers,&c, as shall best secure the safety of all persons on board such vessel in case of disaster; and, whether it would be possible for the Board of Trade to issue an order by which the establishment of boats, rafts,&c. in passenger vessels should bear some relation to the number of passengers carried, instead of having reference solely to the size of the ship, as at present is the case?


The passenger certificate issued by the Board of Trade in the case of the Albert Edward authorized that vessel to carry 364 passengers. She was provided with boats in accordance with the Merchant Shipping Act of 1854; and these boats would, in accordance with the American rule, be deemed sufficient for 83 persons. I am aware that the law of the United States requires life-jackets,&c. to be on board, sufficient, together with the boats, to float all the passengers; and it is not an uncommon thing for English steamers to be provided with life-jackets for all on board. The owners of the Albert Edward have complied with the letter of the law, and I have no power to compel them to do more than they have done in the matter of boats. But I am advised that there are many methods by which seats and deck fittings may be made buoyant and capable of keeping persons afloat; and I hope that the attention which this Question has called to the subject will lead the Companies whose steamers cross the Channel to adopt some such method.