HC Deb 04 November 1918 vol 110 cc1756-7

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is prepared to lay upon the Table of the House the correspondence which took place between the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company or any of the directors or officials of that company and his Department regarding the question of convoy or escort of the mail steamers "Leinster" and "Ulster"; can he say whether a letter from the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company to his Department on this subject was written in July, and that no answer was given to the same until the 9th October, the day before the "Leinster" was torpedoed; and whether the effect of that answer was that nothing could be done?


I shall be pleased to furnish the hon. Member with a copy of correspondence with the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company, but I do not think any advantage would be gained by publishing it. The City of Dublin Steam Packet Company wrote on on the 15th July requesting the Board to support with the Admiralty their request that the mail steamers should be provided with an escort. On the 24th July the Board wrote to the Admiralty on the subject, informing the company on the same day that they were doing so. As the question of protection was one solely for the Admiralty, no further action was taken at the time, but subsequently, on the 7th October, the Board took the opportunity, when addressing a communication to the company on Board of Trade requirements, of stating the substance of the letter received from the Admiralty on the subject of protection of the mail steamers.


Am I to understand that the Board of Trade was in no way responsible for the protection of these cross-Channel steamers, and that the responsibility lies solely with the Admiralty?


As far as protection of the steamers is concerned, certainly.