HC Deb 19 June 1884 vol 289 cc818-9

asked the President of the Board of Trade, Whether his attention has been called to the case of the ship Egmont, recently sold in a Salvage Court in Wexford under the provisions of the existing Merchant Shipping Acts; whether the following facts in connection with this case have been brought under his notice:— On the arrival of the Egmont in Wexford South Bay the crew refused to work the pumps, a slight leak having been discovered, and practically mutinied; The captain, who was also the owner, was consequently obliged to hoist signals of distress; The Rosslare Coastguards took possession of the ship, and compelled the captain to leave her; Finally, the ship and cargo having been secured, two magistrates, viz., Mr. E. S. Flood, J.P. and Mr. Kennedy, R.M. wore appointed nautical assessors to adjudicate upon the various salvage claims. Their assessments were so high that, on the ship and cargo being sold, the proceeds barely satisfied the claims and expenses of the Court, and the owner, Captain Lynch, for no fault of his, but owing to the misconduct of his crew, finds himself now stript of the whole of his property, and east adrift on the world; whether there are frequent cases of the appointment as nautical assessors of magistrates unacquainted with nautical pursuits; and, whether this is a case in which the Board of Trade can take any action with the view of mitigating the apparent injustice done to Captain Lynch, and securing more suitable assessors in future cases of a like character?


The information which has reached the Board of Trade officially with regard to the Egmont is as follows:—On February 15 the Egmont was handed over to the receiver of wreck at Wexford by the salvors, nine fishermen, the vessel having been deserted. The crew obtained a decree against the master for £20 on account of wages due, and seized and sold some of the sails to meet the amount. The salvage case was brought before the local magistrates, who awarded the salvors the sum of £65 5s 9d. against the ship. The owner was unable to pay, and his vessel was consequently sold, realizing £101, the balance, after payment of the award and expenses, being claimed by the mortgagees of the vessel. I have no information which would tend to confirm the allegation of the hon. Member that the Coastguard at Rosslare took possession of the ship and compelled the captain to leave her. The question of salvage was heard by the local magistrates under the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act, which enacts that disputes with respect to salvage where the claim is under £200 shall be referred to two Justices. It is erroneous to say that the magistrates were appointed nautical assessors. They acted under statutory authority; and the Board of Trade have no power either to review their decisions or to express any opinion as to their efficiency.