HC Deb 13 April 1891 vol 352 cc347-8
MR. LENG (Dundee)

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to a statement made before the Collector of Customs at Newport by James Whitelaw, able seaman, Dundee, one of the two survivors of the crew of 24 of the steamer Roxburgh Castle, which was recently sunk in a collision, to the effect that the crew made for the lifeboat, But could not move her from the chocks, and as a last extremity got into her and waited for her to float, with the result that the boat capsized and all but two were drowned; whether the boats on board the Roxburgh Castle were secured in the manner prescribed by the Board of Trade Regulations, under " The Merchant Shipping Life Saving Appliances Act, 1888," that All boats required by the rules to be placed under davits are to be kept fit and ready for use, and when they are swung inboard and resting on chocks, the chocks are to be so constructed that the boat can be at once swung outboard without requiring to be lilted by the tackles, i.e. it should 'not be necessary to do. more than take the weight off the boat"; whether he will explain what is meant by the boat's weight being taken without hauling on the tackles; and whether it is the case that, owing to the ambiguity of this Regulation, the Board of Trade officers can do nothing to secure improvement in the method of lowering boats?


My attention has been called to. the statement referred to, which is to the effect stated in the question, but it is also clear from Whitelaw's deposition that the difficulty in getting the boat into the water did not arise from any deficiency in the means provided for that purpose, but from the boat being fouled by the wreckage caused by the collision. The Board of Trade have received no Report as to the manner in which the boats on board the Roxburgh Castle were secured; but I have no reason to doubt that it was in accordance with the Regulations. The statements in the question do not quite accurately represent the Regulations. There is no ambiguity in the Rule specially referred to, and the Board of Trade officers have no difficulty in securing improvements in the method of lowering boats, if in any case they think them necessary. An official inquiry has been ordered into the loss of the Roxburgh Castle.