§ MR. VINCENT KENNEDY
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he will state if the Zeeland Steam Navigation Company, whose steamers ply between Flushing and Queen borough, have been negotiating with the British Government with a view to supplying their vessels with submarine bell signals; will he say when the Government were first approached in this matter; at whose expense the necessary apparatus was to have been installed; and whether this system of signalling is now in operation at the ports mentioned with or without the approval of the Government.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO THE BOARD OF TRADE (Mr. KEARLEY,) Devonport
There have been 100 no negotiations on this subject between the Zeeland Steamship Company and the Board of Trade, but I am informed by the Trinity House that in a letter, dated 2nd September, 1905, the Company asked them to fit submarine bell signals on certain lightships, and that, in August, 1906, the company offered to instal the apparatus on board the Tongue Lightship free of cost, and to bear all expenses for managing the apparatus until the Trinity House decided either to take it over or to remove it. The Elder Brethren did not feel able to accept the offer, pending a decision as to the funds out of which the cost of maintenance of such apparatus should be defrayed. They are, however, favourably impressed with the results of their own experiments and the question of expense has been under consideration by the Board of Trade, the Advisory Committee, and the Treasury. The Treasury hold that any such expenditure must fall on the General Lighthouse Fund, and in view of the large number of communications which the Board of Trade has received from ship owners and others in favour of the system since the meeting of the Advisory Committee it is proposed again to consult them on the matter. I am informed that the North Hinder Lightvessel has been fitted with a submarine bell, but I have no information of the establishment of such signals either at Queenborough or at Flushing.