HC Deb 30 March 1897 vol 48 cc99-100
MR. W. FIELD (Dublin, St. Patrick)

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that some years since two men named Doyle, and a steward, and an officer's servant, of H.M.S. Belleisle, were drowned in crossing from the Victoria Wharf to the Belleisle, which was then guardship in Kingstown Harbour; also the two brothers of the afore mentioned Doyles, together with Ship Surgeon Gibbons, were recently drowned crossing from the same wharf to the ship Jason; whether an inquiry was held by the Naval Authorities regarding those disasters; and whether any precautions have been taken to avoid those preventible accidents by the more effectual supervision of boats plying for hire, especially at night? The hon. Member also asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that at an inquest held at Kingstown some years since on the bodies of the brothers Doyle, boatmen, and two men of H.M.S. Belleisle, who were drowned while crossing from the Victoria Wharf to that ship, the Coroner's jury recommended that one of the harbour constables or an authorised watchman should be on duty at night while boats were plying for hire, and whether such recommendation was carried into effect; and whether arrangements will be made, to have a harbour constable or other watchman on duty until 12.30 at night?


My right hon. Friend has asked me to answer these questions, as the Commissioners of Public Works are also the Harbour Authorities at Kingstown. I understand that the two accidents occurred as stated — the Belleisle, case on the night of the 1st February 1892, and the Jason case on the night of the 13th instant. The question as to inquiries by the Naval Authorities should more properly be addressed to my hon. Friend the Secretary to the Admiralty. I understand, however, that such an inquiry was held on the Jason case, with the result that the accident was ascribed, perhaps in part to the boat being overladen, but mainly to her being unseaworthy. In the Belleisle case the Coroner's jury did not recommend the appointment of a night watchman as stated in the question. They did recommend that there should be life-buoys placed on the east pier, and this was done. In the Jason case they merely brought in a verdict of accidental death. The question was referred to me too late to allow me to obtain a report from the Board of Works, but I see from the Harbour bye-laws that every boat plying for hire must be licensed by the Commissioners to carry a given number of passengers, and must be kept in good condition to the satisfaction of the Harbour-master. I have instructed the Commissioners to report as to the steps taken to enforce these regulations, and also as to the question of having a watchman on night duty.