HC Deb 06 November 1912 vol 43 cc1237-8

asked whether His Majesty's Ship "Torch" was sent to sea in an unseaworthy condition in 1911; whether, before the ship proceeded to sea, she had been in dockyard hands at Sydney making good defects and the captain had protested against the inadequacy of the repairs; whether, under pressure from the captain, the dockyard increased her estimate from £300 to £1,500; whether the dockyard made an ineffective attempt to repair the upper deck; whether the King's Regulations and the Admiralty instructions enact that before a ship proceeds to sea a certificate is necessary stating that the ship is in all respects complete, efficient, and fit to proceed to sea; whether, in the case of His Majesty's Ship "Torch," this certificate was not given; whether the whole steel bottom of the ship was corroded and that she was really floating on her wooden sheathing; whether His Majesty's Ship "Torch" would have been in a very serious position if she had met with heavy weather; and whether, with regard to the facts of this case, which have now been made public, he will order a full and public inquiry on the same lines as that instituted in the case of the "Megæra" in 1871?


On the 18th June Captain Carver made a series of statements to the Admiralty about the condition of the "Torch" which corresponds almost exactly with those contained in the Noble Lord's question; and he submitted at the same time certain photographs of the vessels which have also, I understand, been circulated among the Members of the House. Thereupon without delay the whole matter was referred to the Commander-in-Chief in Australia, who was directed to inquire most searchingly into the allegations, and to report fully. The Commander-in-Chief has now telegraphed that his report is on the way home, and it is expected to arrive in England by the end of the month. In these circumstances it is necessary, and only fair to those concerned, to wait the receipt of the report before forming any decided opinion upon the facts. I will not fail to inform the, House at the proper time of whatever decision we may think it proper to take.