HC Deb 29 July 1898 vol 63 cc430-1
MR. DAVITT (Mayo, S.)

On behalf of the honourable Member for Middles-brough, I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been directed to the outbreak of plague on board the P. and O. Company's steamship Carthage, which affected members of the native crew; whether he can state the number of seamen there was accommodation for in the forecastle set apart for able seamen; whether he can also state the number of firemen and trimmers there were accommodated in the forecastle set apart for such ratings; whether he can state the number of men that each forecastle is certified to accommodate according to the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894; and whether each seaman was provided with 72 cubic feet of space, according to the said Act; and, if not, whether he will order a prosecution of the owners of the steamship Carthage for a breach of the Merchant Shipping Act?


My attention has not been called (except by the honourable Member himself) to an outbreak of plague on the P. and O. steamship Carthage. From inquiries I have made I learn that one case did occur on the recent voyage from India, but that the patient was convalescent before the vessel arrived in the Thames. The man and his two attendants are now under observation by the port sanitary authority, by whom the vessel has been disinfected. I understand that the forecastle is virtually one space, and is occupied by seamen on one side and by firemen and trimmers on the other. The number carried in the space was 107, namely, 39 seamen and 68 firemen and trimmers, natives of India. The forecastle is not a certified space according to the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894, and is therefore not allowed as a deduction from the tonnage of the ship. It has been disallowed since March 1896. The crew were engaged under Indian articles, which, allow of a less space than is required by the Imperial Act; but I understand that it is very largely in excess of that required by the Indian Act.