HC Deb 31 March 1892 vol 3 cc336-7

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether reports have been brought under his notice of the wreck in December last of the Benvenue, off Sandgate, with the drowning of the master and four of the crew; and also of the wreck of the Enterkin, on the Galloper Sands, when 30 out of 31 of her crew were drowned, only an apprentice boy being saved; whether he is aware, in the case of the Benvenue, of three rockets that passed over the vessel, only one had any cord attached, and the crew discovered, to their dismay, that the other end was not secured to the shore; whether the Board of Trade has power to order that all sea-going vessels shall have amongst their life-saving appliances line-throwing guns, seeing that, firing with the wind, it is much easier to throw a line on shore, than firing against a gale, to throw it on board a vessel; and whether the Board of Trade has ordered, or will order, inquiries to be made into the losses of both the vessels named; and, if so, will, in accordance with the official notice issued by the Marine Department in April, 1884, direct attention to the question whether they were sufficiently manned?


I have received reports with regard to the wrecks of the Benvenue and the Enterkin to which the hon. Member refers. In the case of the latter vessel 28, and not 30, lives were lost. I ordered a special inquiry into the failure of the rocket apparatus to save life from the Benvenue, and it is reported to me that the vessel was too distant from the shore for communication to be effected by its means. I believe that the extra strain on the lines due to the endeavour to reach the vessel caused them to break as they did. The Board of Trade have no power to order all sea-going vessels to carry line-throwing guns among their life-saving appliances. No formal inquiry has been held in either the case of the Benvenue or in that of the Enter kin, because the loss of life that occurred has rendered it impossible to obtain sufficient evidence to afford any hope of a useful result.


Will the right hon. Gentleman say if the Department have made any inquiry into these line-throwing guns, and are they prepared to make any recommendation respecting them?


They have been continually before the Department, but we are not prepared to make any recommendation regarding them.