§ MR. J. SINCLAIR (Ayr Burghs)
asked the President of the Board of Trade, Whether his attention has been called to the case of three vessels lately posted at Lloyd's as missing—the Cumeria, from the Tyne, with coal for Valparaiso; the Melanesia, also from the Tyne, with coal for Valparaiso; and the Bio Bio, from Shields, with coal for Valparaiso; if he will inquire whether these vessels loaded coal from the same pits which contain much sulphurous or other such matter, which might render the coals peculiarly inflammable; if the coals were shipped wet or dry; whether there was any special ventilation in the holds; and, if the surveyors have special instructions to inquire into these points in the case of such vessels?
§ THE PRESIDENT (Sir MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH) (Bristol, W.)
, in reply, said: Yes, Sir; my attention has been called to the apprehended loss of the vessels named by the hon. Member. In the cases of the Cumeria and the Melanesia formal inquiries have been instituted under the powers contained in the Merchant Shipping Acts. The Bio Bio is a foreign vessel, and therefore cannot be made the subject of an inquiry. I am informed that the Cumeria and Melanesia were loaded with coal from the Cramlington Colliery, and the Bio Bio from the Fairfield Colliery. Whether the coal from the Cramlington Colliery is of the nature mentioned by the hon. Member is a matter which will be investigated by the Court of Inquiry. The Melanesia shipped her cargo dry; but the weather was partly wet when the Cumeria was loaded. The Cumeria and Melanesia appear to have been ventilated in accordance with the recommendations of the Royal Commission of 1876. The Board's Surveyors have instructions to inspect the ventilation of British coal-laden vessels, and every effort is made to direct the attention of those interested to the recommendations of the Royal Commission by the circulation of Cautions, Notices, and Reports of Courts of Inquiry.