HC Deb 26 October 1909 vol 12 cc830-1

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the supposed suicide at sea on 27th July, 1909, of an Asiatic coal trimmer named Nanoo Ebraim, whilst serving on the steamer "Barotse," of North Shields; whether any inquiry has been held into the matter; whether the seaman was medically examined before joining; how long he had served on the vessel; whether he had had any previous sea service; what was the temperature of the engine room; whether he was on duty at the time; how many tons of coal the engine room hands were required to work each 24 hours; and whether any previous cases of suicide, supposed suicide, or disappearance have occurred on this vessel?

The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. Churchill)

The Lascar coal trimmer referred to in the question disappeared from the "Barotse" four days after leaving Port Said on the voyage from Bombay to Algiers. Inquiry was held into the occurrence by the Consul-General at Antwerp and the Acting Superintendent of the Mercantile Marine Office at Poplar. It is usual for native crews to be medically examined before joining at Bombay, but no specific information has been received in this case. The man had been on board the "Barotse" twenty-four days, and had had previous sea service. He was on duty at the time of the occurrence. The temperature of the engine room was 113 degrees, of the stokehold 116, and of the bunkers 90. The coal consumption was 36 tons per day, and the number of firemen and trimmers was 16. No other case of suicide, supposed suicide or disappearance has occurred in this vessel during the last three years.


May I ask whether the Government, in view of the excessive number of suicides amongst Lascar seamen, especially firemen, will institute an inquiry by officials or others as to the cause?


There is another question on the Paper which, I think, touches that point.


Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that 113 degrees in the engine room and 116 in the stoke hole are really too high?


I cannot say. My opinion on the subject is not of very great value, but if the question is put down I will give the House and the hon. Member the best information I can get.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that actually a higher temperature than that mentioned is experienced on deck in the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea?