HC Deb 18 May 1904 vol 135 cc169-70

To ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that at the International Conference at Nantes a resolution was passed recommending that all vessels should carry a rocket and line apparatus to enable them to make communication with the shore when in I danger of being wrecked; and whether he will order all shipowners to carry such an apparatus on their vessels.

(Answered by Mr. Gerald Balfour.) I am aware that a Congress was held at Nantes in 1902 to consider among other matters life-saving at sea. No representative of the Board of Trade or of the British Government attended its meetings, and the resolutions passed have not come under my notice. The suggestion referred to by my hon. friend in his Question has from time to time been considered by the Board of Trade, but practical difficulties would arise in giving effect to it. Rules for life-saving appliances have been made under Section 427 of The Merchant Shipping Act, 1894, and were revised two years ago; the requirements of these rules are considered adequate. A rocket apparatus exists at various points round the coast of the United Kingdom, and does useful work in enabling communication to be made with ships in distress. It is, of course, open to shipowners to put a rocket and line apparatus on board ship; I do not at present propose to take any action with a view to compelling them to do so.