HC Deb 22 November 1917 vol 99 cc1335-7

asked the Chief Secretary what steps are being taken for recovering for the use of the Crown the valuable wreckage which is now frequently washed ashore on the West Coast of Ireland; whether the duties of recovering this wreckage are, in the absence of the Coast Guard men, thrown upon the Royal Irish Constabulary; whether they are given any increase of pay or other remuneration for the discharge of these duties; whether there is reason to believe that portions of this wreckage are seized by private persons living on the western seaboard of Ireland and are sold by them for considerable sums; and whether the Government will take steps to put an end to these practices and secure this wreckage for the use of the Crown?


In places where there are no coast guards the police perform the duty of looking after wrecked property, and they report each case to the Receiver of Wrecks. In localities where there are coast guards the police work in co-operation with them. On the police devolves the duty of ascertaining whether any non-reported wreckage has been salved, and of making reports to the Receiver with a view to prosecutions. The police do not receive an increase of pay for this work, but they are entitled to rewards in cases where they bring persons to justice for illicit dealing with wrecked property and when they are actually employed in protecting wrecks they are entitled to certain rates of extra pay varying with the period for which they are so employed. In remote places wrecked property is, no doubt, subject to misappropriation, but the Inspector-General of the Royal Irish Constabulary does not think that this occurs on an extensive scale at the present time. It is being recognised in most places that it is better to report the salving of such property and so secure the reward for salvage.


Has there been a. substantial amount of wreckage recovered for the use of the Crown in this way?


That is a large question. I think my hon. and learned Friend had better put a question down.

Colonel YATE

Is there any truth in the statement that the coastguards are provided with special screws for opening tins of petrol which have been washed ashore and running them into the sea?


If my hon. and gallant Friend will ask me a question with notice, I may be able to answer.