HC Deb 17 February 1915 vol 69 cc1108-9
8. Mr. FELL

asked if the steamship "Apolda," 4,930 tons, the steamship "Hamm," 4,598 tons, and the steamship "Birkenfels," 5,639 tons, were captured by British cruisers as prizes of war in August and taken to Cape Town; if these prizes with their cargoes are still at Cape Town; if steps will be taken to at once utilise the cargoes and use the ships; and what is the reason for the delay which has taken place in the matter?


The vessels referred to are still at the Cape. I understand that the Overseas Prize Disposal Committee have been using every endeavour to send the cargoes on to Australia, but that many serious difficulties have been encountered. As regards the "Birkenfels," I am informed that an agreement for the navigation of the ship to Australia is on the point of conclusion. In the case of the "Hamm" and "Apolda," which are not prizes but detained ships, it is hoped that it will be possible to make an arrangement at no distant date. There are difficulties in their case which were not present in the case of the "Birkenfels." It was necessary to get into touch with a very large number of consignees before any steps could be taken to make any arrangements for completing the journey. I may say that the proportion of enemy cargoes in these vessels is small.


Cannot the Government do something to expedite cases like these? There are three very valuable ships and their cargoes which have been for more than three months absolutely wasted?


I have endeavoured to show the serious difficulties that have been encountered.