HC Deb 09 November 1893 vol 18 cc531-2

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether it is the fact that, during the time which elapsed between the ramming of the Victoria and her sinking (stated by Captain Bourke to have been 10 minutes, and by Admiral Markham to have been 13 minutes), there was felt, to be such imminent danger of her sinking that the order was given for everyone to go on deck from the flats; that the order was also given to remove the sick from the sick bay, and to take them on deck; that the order was also given to remove the prisoners from the cells, and to take them on deck; and that accordingly all the sick, all the prisoners, and all the ship's company, except the engine-room party, did go on deck, and were on deck several minutes before the ship sank; whether, under these circumstances, it was the duty of anybody to look out for the engine-room party, and to order them, too, to come on deck, or whether it was nobody's duty; whether the omission so to order them was an oversight or was deliberate, as being dictated by unavoidable necessities of the moment; and whether measures will be taken to ensure that in future some officer is responsible for affording them in grave emergencies such opportunities as may be available for saving their lives?


It is quite true that the sick, the prisoners, and the ship's company, with the exception of the engine-room party, came on deck some minutes before the ship sank. This was not in consequence of the apprehension of imminent danger suggested by the question, nor any such orders as it sets forth, but in accordance with the routine for "collision stations." Hon. Members will find from the Evidence at the Court Martial that the imminent danger of foundering was not realised on board the Victoria. I have twice pointed out to the hon. Gentleman, in answer to questions on August 3 and 24, the reasons why the engineers and stokers were kept at their stations working the engines with the object of saving the ship and all on board. And the Admiralty again, after careful consideration of the Minutes of the Court Martial, are not prepared to impute blame to any person in the sense reiterated by the hon. Member.