HC Deb 14 July 1890 vol 346 cc1595-7
DR. CAMERON (Glasgow, College)

I beg to ask the President of the Board of. Trade whether his attention has been called to a statement adopted by a meeting of steamship owners, held1 in Glasgow on the 8th instant, setting forth the unsuitability for the cases of coasting, river, and short sea excursion steamers of the "Rules made by the Board of Trade under The Merchant Shipping (Life Saving Appliances) Act, 1888,'" presented to Parliament on the 10th ultimo; whether similar representations have been made from other ports,; and whether he will consider the propriety of modifying the rules, with a view of meeting the objections raised?


I beg also to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether it is the intention of the Government to enforce the Life Saving Appliances' Rules in respect to the coastings Continental, and short over-sea trades, in spite of the objections raised by the shipowners interested, these objections being fully explained in a statement transmitted to Members of Parliament from a meeting held at Glasgow on the 8th July; and whether he will receive a deputation to consider the objections of the shipowners interested?


My attention has been called to the statement referred to by the hon. Members and also to others of a similar nature, and I have carefully considered the representations made. It must be remembered that the Rules in question have been prepared by a Statutory Committee appointed under the provisions of the Merchant Shipping (Life Saving Appliances) Act of 1888. That Committee consisted of three shipowners selected by the Council of the Chamber of Shipping; one shipowner selected by the Shipowners' Associations of Glasgow, and one shipowner selected by the Liverpool Steamship Owners' Association and the Liverpool Shipowners' Association conjointly; two shipbuilders selected by the Council of the Institution of Naval Architects; three persons practically acquainted with the navigation of vessels selected by recognised Shipmasters' Societies; three persons being or having been able-bodied seamen selected by recognised Seamen's Societies; two persons selected conjointly by the Committee of Lloyd's, the Committee of Lloyd's Register Society, and the Committee of the Institute of London Underwriters, Mr. T. H. Ismay acting as Chairman. The Act of 1888 was the result of the recommendations of a Select Committee of this House presided over by Lord Charles Beresford, and the special representations which have been made from Glasgow and other places are in opposition to the Report of that Committee, which recommended that in one form or other, life saving provision should be made for all persons on board a vessel. The Statutory Committee, to the composition of which I have referred, in the first instance recommended rules of rather greater stringency than those now before the House. But at the instance of the gentlemen from Glasgow and others whose representations have now been received, I called Mr. Ismay's Committee together a second time, in order that they might consider the very points now raised, and after an exhaustive reconsideration of the case, they came to the conclusion that the rules now before House were practicable and necessary in the interests of public safety.; In these circumstances, I do not think it would be right for me to disregard the advice of a Statutory Committee, so composed as I have stated of representative men eminently capable of forming an Opinion on these matters. I am, therefore, not prepared to alter or modify the rules until practical experience has shown that it is necessary.