HC Deb 25 March 1886 vol 303 cc1790-1

asked the President of the Board of Trade, If he can state what was the net registered tonnage of the Oregon; what proportion the registered tonnage bears to the number of passengers a vessel may carry; what number of persons were on board the Oregon; and, what number could have been accommodated in her ton boats?

THE PRESIDENT (Mr. MUNDELLA) (Sheffield, Brightside)

The net registered tonnage of the Oregon was 3,529. The number of passengers a vessel may carry does not depend upon her registered tonnage, but on the extent of her passenger accommodation as to light, ventilation, space, and other circumstances. The number of persons on board the Oregon was 878, and her boats were capable of accommodating 365.


asked, whether the House was to understand that if the vessel had foundered in mid-ocean only 300 out of 800 passengers would have found accommodation in the boats? He wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether in the case of two vessels of identical registered tonnage, one carrying 500 passengers and the other 1,300, they were both obliged to have the same number of boats?

MR. FORWOOD (Lancashire, Ormskirk)

I should like to ask, at the same time, whether it is possible for large steamers carrying passengers to carry as many boats as they carry passengers?


I have answered all the Questions which have been put to me on the subject of the Oregon. Now I am asked whether, if she had gone done down in mid-ocean, her boats would have been sufficient. Certainly not; and every man who goes to sea knows that passenger vessels do not have sufficient boats for all their passengers. The Channel steamers, for instance, probably accommodate 300 or 400 passengers; but the boats they carry would only be sufficient for 40 or 50 passengers. But the Oregon had boat accommodation largely in excess of the statutory requirements. I may add that the Board of Trade are not at all satisfied with the present statutory requirements. When the loss of the Oregon was reported I ordered an inquiry to be made by practical men as to how far it would be possible to enlarge the boat accommodation of such vessels; but I do not want the House to suppose that any large sea-going ship can carry as many boats as will accommodate all her passengers. The effect of that would be either to render the vessel unseaworthy or to quadruple the charge to passengers.


asked, whether the right hon. Gentleman was aware that in the United States there was a law which required that all passenger ships should carry boats or lifebelts sufficient to accommodate all their passengers?


said, he was not aware of any such law, and much doubted whether any such law existed. If there were such a law he would have no faith in its being carried out.


asked, whether the President of the Board of Trade would lay on the Table of the House a copy of section 4,488 of the Revised Statutes of the United States, which required that every ship should carry a sufficient number of boats and life-saving apparatus?


ruled that Notice of the Question must be put on the Paper in the usual way.