§ MR. CRILLY (Mayo, N.)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland if he will explain why tenders were not invited for the contract for boat attendance on the Fastnet Rock Lighthouse, which lapsed on the 6th of January last; when will tenders be invited, and what reason is there for the delay; when the late boat Halcyon was suspended from attendance, were any steps taken to ascertain the truth or otherwise of the allegations made by the crew of this boat that their lives and the lives of the light-keepers of the Fastnet Lighthouse were seriously endangered on more than one occasion through the boat's unseaworthy state; whether the Board of Trade were warned a few years ago that the boat was in a dangerous state; whether there is any intention to re-instate this alleged unseaworthy boat in attendance on the lighthouse; at what weekly cost has the steamship Alert been for weeks doing the work, and would he inquire whether the attendance could be carried on more cheaplyand as efficiently by a local boat; how long is it intended to continue the Alert at this work; and is it a fact that a seaworthy boat has been offered to attend on the lighthouse at the old contract price?
§ *THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE (Sir MICHAEL HICKS BEACH,) Bristol, W.
I have communicated with the Commissioners of Irish Lights, who inform me that tenders were not advertised for as usual on the expiration of the late contract, inasmuch as the question of revision has been for some time past under consideration, but that tenders will be immediately invited by public advertisement, for temporarily carrying on the attendance on Fastnet. In January last, the contractor reported that some of his crew complained that the Halcyon was not seaworthy; but on a subsequent examination made by order of the Commissioners by the commander of their steamship Alert, assisted by his ship's carpenter, the vessel was reported to be "perfectly sound" and well found in gear, &c. Should the former contractor tender again, and his tender be accepted, the Commissioners will not object to the employment of the Halcyon. No additional expense has been incurred through the steamship Alert being sent to Crookhaven to carry out the service, beyond the cost of the coal and stores expended, and she will continue the work until such time as a new contract for the temporary service has been arranged. The former crew of the Halcyon stated they had a boat, and would attend the Fastnet at the old contract rate per trip; but the Commissioners know nothing of the boat in question. With regard to the fourth paragraph of the question, I have to say that three years ago, when tenders were being invited, the Board of Trade were told by an intending tenderer that the boat. of the existing contractor was unseaworthy and the complaint was forwarded to the Commissioners of Irish Lights, who are the Executive Authority in the matter.