HC Deb 28 February 1912 vol 34 c1346

asked whether the First Lord of the Admiralty's attention has been drawn to the proceedings at the inquest on the body of the captain of the Breton steamer "Perim," killed by the fall of a mast when his vessel was wrecked off Atherfield, Isle of Wight; whether he is aware of the statement made by a Coastguard officer to the effect that the position of the ship was not noticed owing to the insufficiency of the staff patrolling the cliffs; whether he has official information showing that the scheme of abolishing the Coastguards and replacing them by Customs officers is working well; and whether he will take such steps as may be necessary to secure the proper and efficient patrolling of our coasts?


I have not seen a report of the inquest, but a full report on all the circumstances attending this wreck has been called for, and will be carefully considered when received. No such scheme as that referred to is at present in operation for abolishing the Coastguard and replacing them by Customs officers. The Board of Trade is the Department responsible for the general arrangements made for watching the coast for life-saving purposes, but every possible step is taken by the Admiralty to comply with requests for the assistance of the Coastguard in this service, so far as the organisation of a force raised for other purposes permits.


Is the House to understand that there is no scheme by which Customs officers are replaced in the Coastguard?


The reduction of the Coastguard, which has been going on for some time, was wholly suspended during last year, but I am by no means-certain that the matter is not one which requires careful consideration in view of making the Reserve of the British Navy as available as they ought to be.