HC Deb 23 February 1914 vol 58 cc1393-4

asked the Postmaster-General whether Mr. A. W. Booth, chairman of the Cunard Company, in his letter to the Post Office, dated 19th June, 1913, putting forward two reasons for breaking his contract with the Department, alleged that one of them was that the "Lusitania" touched ground in Queenstown Harbour on the 29th December, 1907, despite the precautions which were exercised by the pilot and captain; whether he is aware that this incident was investigated by the Cork Harbour Board at the time and shown to have been due to a serious error of judgment on the part of the company's pilot on board the vessel; whether this decision was reported to the Cunard Company, who replied to the Board saying that it seemed clear that the pilot had committed an error of judgment and that he would be severely reprimanded; and whether the chairman of the company has since apologised for or explained the gross inaccuracy which misled the Postmaster-General in reference to the contract with the company?


The hon. Member has quoted correctly the part of the letter of the 19th of June, 1913, sent to the Post Office by the chairman of the Cunard Company which is given in his question. I understand that the result of the investigation into the circumstances of the grounding of the "Lusitania," on 29th December, 1907, which was undertaken by the Cork Harbour Board, was substantially as stated in the question, but I am informed that the pilot of the "Lusitania" on that occasion was employed under the local pilotage authority, who had assigned his services to the Cunard Company, and that he was reprimanded, not by the company, but by the Cork Harbour Commissioners. The reply to the last part of the question is in the negative. I should like to take this opportunity of correcting a statement made by me, without having any papers by me on Thursday night, regarding the omission of the call at Queenstown by the outward bound Cunard packets. I find that the times of posting for these packets under the new arrangements will be advanced: in Dublin, from 1.30 a.m. on Sunday to 8 p.m. on Friday; and in Belfast, from 4.55 p.m. on Saturday to 8.30 p.m. on Friday. I hope, however, to be able to arrange for a supplementary mail to be despatched by the Anchor Line steamers, which call at Moville on Saturday evenings. This would, of course, afford a later opportunity of posting, especially in the North of Ireland.


Will this arrangement cost any additional sum, and, if so, how will it be provided?


I should like notice of that question.


asked the Postmaster-General whether he knows anything about, or has any statement to make to the House about, the failure of the Hamburg-Amerika line to make Queenstown a port of call on the voyages between Europe and the United States?


I have no information whatever on this matter.