§ CAPTAIN COLOMB (Tower Hamlets, Bow, &c.)
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, What are the conditions, as regards speed and coal-carrying capacity, laid down by the Admiralty as necessary to qualify a merchant steamer for annual subvention for purposes of war; and, whether the arrangements for an annual subvention to be paid to the Peninsular and Oriental Company for the Victoria, Britannia, and Oceana include any stipulations as to crews and stokers; and, if so, what is the nature of such stipulations?
§ THE SECRETARY (Mr. FORWOOD) (Lancashire, Ormskirk)
(who replied) said: It is impossible, within the reasonable limit of an answer to a Question, to give my hon. and gallant Friend full particulars of the relative importance attached to the many points that have to be considered in determining the comparative value of merchant steamers for cruising purposes. Speed is, however, of primary consideration, and no vessel with lees than 16 knots sea-going speed has been entertained. Four of the steamers retained from the Peninsular and Oriental Company exceed this rate of speed—namely, 384 knots per day, and can carry sufficient coal to maintain it for 26 days, during which they could traverse 10,300 knots. For an ordinary cruising speed of 10 knots their coal capacity is equal to 50 days' consumption. In addition to this quantity of coal they have room for from 1,800 to 2,000 troops. Allowing for hospital, issuing rooms, and the other requirements of Transport Regulations, this is all she could do; and then she could not take coal in all the holds, as we should require baggage room and stowage for provisions. I am assured that with a slight change in the form of screw, their speed would exceed 17 knots. In reply to the second part of the Question, the agreement stipulates for the Company, if required, to find the crew according to the usual Transport 1799 Regulations. The Company are also under an obligation to arrange, as far as possible, that the European portion of their complement shall be members of the Royal Naval Reserve, and for their services being at the disposition of the Admiralty.