§ MR. AKERS-DOUGLAS (Kent, St. Augustine's)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the catastrophe which has befallen the town of Sandgate by a serious landslip, resulting in the destruction of some 200 houses, and whether he is aware that this disaster has been attributed by a public meeting of the inhabitants to the use of dynamite in connection with the blowing-up of the wrecks of the Calypso and the Benvenue; whether he is also aware that in September last, prior to the destruction of the latter vessel, a public meeting was held at which, in view of the damage done to property by the explosives employed in the destruction of the Calypso, the authorities were urged to abandon their determination to blow up the Benvenue, and whether a resolution protesting against the proposed explosions was passed by this meeting and forwarded to every member of the Trinity Board; and whether, under these circumstances, Her Majesty's Government are prepared to give compensation for the damage which has been done?
§ MR. MUNDELLA
My attention has been called to the sad calamity which has befallen the town of Saudgate, and to the public meeting which has been subsequently held there on the subject. In June last, I understand, the Sandgate Local Board called the attention of the Board of Trade to the rumoured intention of dispersing the wreck of the Benvenue by explosives, but the Board of Trade had no power to interfere with the statutory discretion vested in the Trinity House by the Removal of Wrecks Act. There is no evidence that the recent subsidence has been caused by the dispersion of the wreck; indeed, I have seen it attributed to a more probable cause. But in no case can Her Majesty's Government be held to be liable to pay compensation.
MR. JAMES LOWTHER (Kent, Thanet)
Do I understand that the Trinity Board is an irresponsible body, not subject to the control of Parliament?
§ MR. MUNDELLA
The Trinity Board is subject to the control of Parliament. They act under statutory powers in the removal of wrecks. It is not believed that what the Trinity Board did in this case had anything to do with the recent unfortunate occurrence.