HC Deb 02 July 1913 vol 54 cc1874-5
71. Mr. LEACH

asked the President of the Board of Trade if it is intended to restore the Plimsoll load line on British ships; and will he say why it has been raised, thus increasing the risks to the lives of seamen?


The alteration of the Load-line Regulations made in 1906 was due in the main to the improvements in ship construction which had taken place since the time when the original load line was fixed. Section 438 of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894, empowers the Board of Trade to modify the tables of freeboard, but in approving any modifications the Board of Trade must have regard to any representations made to them by any corporation or association for the survey and registry of shipping appointed by them to approve and certify the position of the load line The authorities so appointed are Lloyd's Register of British and Foreign Shipping, Bureau Veritas, and the British Corporation for the Survey and Registry of Shipping. An inquiry was instituted in 1905, and several conferences were held between the experts of the Board of Trade and the experts of these classification societies, and, finally, on the 9th February, 1906, these experts submitted the revised tables of freeboard to the Board of Trade. The tables were then placed before the societies named by the Board of Trade, and on the advice of these societies, and of their own officers, the Board of Trade adopted them in a Minute dated 1st March, 1906. I have lately appointed a Committee which is investigating the whole question of the load line. The Committee would be very glad to receive evidence, which, if necessary, could be treated as confidential, from any persons who have any information as to the effect of the alteration of the load line on the seaworthiness of ships, etc. I have noticed allegations made by various persons in regard to this matter which I presume are founded on information in their possession, and I trust that they will bring the information to the knowledge of the Committee, so that these matters can be fully investigated.


Can the right hon. Gentleman say when it is likely the Committee will report on that matter, which is urgent?


I am afraid I cannot say.