HC Deb 30 April 1900 vol 82 cc278-80

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade, will he explain † See page 15 of this volume. why the steamship "Chebine," belonging to the English Khedivial Company, which left Suez on 8th March with 300 deck passengers, pilgrims bound for Jiddah, besides the mails and cabin passengers, was not subject to the general regulations for the safety of passenger ships issued by the Board of Trade, although the vessel flew the British flag, belonged to an English company, and was commanded by a British officer; whether the attention of the Board of Trade has been drawn to the finding of the Naval Court held at Suez, that the "Chebine," though registered a British vessel, had left Suez not properly found nor in good seaworthy condition, and besides other defects stated, that in the judgment of the Court no survey had been held after her repairs, nor any certificate of seaworthiness given; and whether, if the "Chebine" was not subject to Board of Trade regulations, it will be possible to prohibit vessels exempted from those regulations from flying the British flag in future.


The "Chebine" was not subject to the specific regulations referred to in the question, because trading as she was between ports abroad she was neither a passenger steamer nor an emigrant ship within the meaning of the Merchant Shipping Act. My attention has been directed to the finding of the Naval Court at Suez with regard to the condition of the vessel, and I shall consider whether it is right for me to take any, and, if so, what steps in the matter, but I am certainly not prepared to assent to the proposition that British vessels trading abroad which are exempt from any of the requirements of the Merchant Shipping Act should not be allowed to fly the British flag.

COLONEL PRYCE-JONES (Montgomery Boroughs)

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the wreck last month in the Red Sea of the ship "Chebine," conveying pilgrims to Mecca, and of the circumstances appertaining to the same; and whether, if it be practicable, he proposes to amend the Merchant Shipping Act of 1894 to meet such cases; if not, whether he will take action through the Foreign Office or otherwise for an international reform to bring about the same result. I may say that as the right hon. Gentleman has already answered the first paragraph I will confine my question to the second.


I will inquire into the matter.