HC Deb 26 March 1886 vol 304 cc33-4
MR. FORWOOD (Lancashire, Ormskirk)

asked the President of the Board of Trade, If it is the fact that the Oregon, in common with all steamers conveying passengers between this Country and the United States, had to obtain not only passenger certificates from the Board of Trade, but had also to undergo a periodical examination in the United States by inspectors appointed by the Government of that Country, and that no such vessel can obtain a clearance unless provided with a certificate from their inspectors that she complies with the American law as to efficiency of hull and engines, and as regards the sufficiency of her boat accommodation, life saving, and fire appliances, and that the same requirements in these respects are imposed on British ships by the United States Law as apply to vessels under their own flag; and, whether he can state if it would be possible to require such a vessel as the Oregon to carry a larger number of boats than she had, with a due regard to the safe navigation of the vessel, to the rapid lowering of the boats when required, and to their safe carriage in bad weather?

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

As I came down to the House to-day I received a telegram from Messrs. Ismay, Imrie, and Co., of Liverpool, who, I believe, are the owners of the Oregon. [Mr. FORWOOD: No!] Well, they are large owners of steamers running between this country and America. The telegram says— Our attention having been directed to Mr. Forwood's Question in The Times of to-day, we beg to state that the facts he assumes are quite correct, and in strict accordance with our actual experience. I am informed that all passenger steamers visiting the United States are subject to the law of that country as regards inspection and certificates. I may, however, state that as regards ships' boats, the United States have adopted a rule that requires no increase to the boat accommodation carried by British passenger ships. I am advised that it is not possible for a steamer like the Oregon to carry a larger number of boats than she had with due regard to the safe navigation of the vessel, the rapid and efficient lowering of the boats in sudden emergency, and their safe carriage in bad weather. By our rule for measuring, the Oregon's boats could only accommodate 365 persons; but, according to the American statutory measurement, the same boats could accommodate 1,216 persons, or 338 more than the actual number of passengers who were on board the Oregon. But, as I stated yesterday, I have appointed a Departmental Committee of practical men to inquire into the whole question, and as to how far boats may be supplemented by rafts and other contrivances, and to report to the Board of Trade and to the Royal Commission on Loss of Life at Sea.