MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether, by the regulations and custom of the Navy, it was nobody's duty, when it appeared that there was imminent danger of the Victoria foundering, to order the engineers and stokers to be called up from the engine room and stoke hold?
THE SECRETARY TO THE ADMIRALTY (Sir U. KAY-SHUTTLEWORTH,) Lancashire, Clitheroe
The circumstances attending the loss of the Victoria are well-known. At the moment of the final catastrophe the ship was being turned towards the land with the object of reaching shallow water, and the engineers and stokers on watch were at their stations carrying out their duties in obedience to the last orders received for 950 working the engines. It is doubtful whether, as the hon. Member implies, the imminent danger of the ship foundering was fully realised on board the Victoria, and the Admiralty are not prepared to impute blame to anyone as suggested by the terms of the question. If the case had been totally different, and all hope of saving the ship and the whole of her crew by means of her engines had been abandoned, the officer in command would undoubtedly have done all in his power to prevent a single man remaining below in the engine room or elsewhere.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
The right hon. Gentleman has not touched my question. He implies that I was making an imputation when I asked if it was anybody's duty to warn the engineers and stokers to come on deck.