MR. BRYN ROBERTS (Carnarvonshire, Eifion)
On behalf of the honourable Member for Merthyr Tydfil I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether it is the intention of the Board of Trade to remove the wreck inquiries relating to Cardiff-owned vessels to Newport (Mon.); and, if so, what are the reasons, and why the Cardiff Shipowners' Association has not been made acquainted with the change?
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE (for Mr. RITCHIE)
The Board of Trade have not come to any decision to remove the whole of the wreck inquiries relating to Cardiff-owned vessels to Newport. In the case of one Cardiff-owned vessel, they, how ever, recently directed the inquiry to be held at Newport in the following circumstances: they have for some time had their attention drawn to the exceptional number of days occupied in hearing inquiries at Cardiff, and to the uncertainty of the sittings, owing to the large demands necessarily made upon the time of the stipendiary magistrate in the performance of his ordinary magisterial duties—for example, in a recent case, an inquiry occupying only 43 hours extended over 13days,during the whole 642 of which time the assessors and sever it of the witnesses were detained at considerable daily cost, while the shipowners, professional men, and others connected with the case were put to great inconvenience. Another inquiry occupying only 12 hours extended over six days. It being contrary to the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act to hold inquiries before the ordinary justices in any place where the stipendiary magistrate is a member of the Local Marine Board, as at Cardiff, the Board of Trade deemed it their duty to hold the recent inquiry, by way of experiment, at Newport. The magistrates sat for five hours, and concluded the inquiry in one day, judgment being delivered on the following morning. The Board of Trade will, of course, be happy to consider any representations which may be made to them on the subject by or on behalf of the Cardiff shipowners.