HC Deb 10 July 1923 vol 166 cc1140-2
1. Colonel PERKINS

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the statement of the captain of the "Trevessa" that the contents of two of the boxes of biscuits carried on his boat proved on opening to be nearly all bad; and whether there is any systematic examination or renewal of such stores to ensure that boat stores are always in perfect order?

The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE (Sir P. Lloyd-Greame)

I have seen Press statements about the biscuits of the "Trevessa." The owners inform me that these appear to have been extra supplies put into the boats, and that the ordinary supplies are in sealed tanks, air and water tight. The life-saving appliances of passenger steamers are inspected at least once a year, and those of cargo steamers as opportunity offer, the inspection in each case including the examination of the stores in the boats. It is the statutory duty of the owner and master of every ship to see that the lifesaving appliances are kept so as at all times to be fit and ready for use.

7. Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that in the case of the steamship "Trevessa" the pay of the crew ceases from the date of the loss of the vessel, and that the allotment notes to the families of the crew are also stopped: and, in view of the very great hardship that is involved, whether he will consider taking steps by an Amendment to the Merchant Shipping Act or by other legislation to remedy this state of affairs?


asked the President of the Board of Trade what provision is being made for the families of the crew of the steamship "Trevessa" pending their return; and when legislation will be introduced to deal with the matter of the wages of crews of vessels which are wrecked, in order to prevent suffering to the dependants of shipwrecked men in cases such as that of the "Trevessa"?


As I have previously stated, full wages, including allotments, are being paid by the company to the crew up to the date of their arrival in this country. As regards the introduction of legislation, I would refer the hon. Members to the replies given on the 5th of July, of which I am sending them copies.

Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the replies were not definite at all? Is he also aware that in cases where publicity is given and public feeling aroused the men are being paid, but in many other cases, of which nothing is heard, great hardship is caused? Will the Government do something to remedy this state of affairs?


The hon. and gallant Member is quite wrong. The answer given last week was specific, that the Government did intend to introduce legislation, but could not say when it would be possible to do so.

Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY

Could not legislation be passed through the House in one sitting by agreement? Cannot that be done in view of its urgency?


No one knows better than my hon. and gallant Friend what it is that obstructs necessary legislation.

10. Viscount CURZON

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether any inquiry is to take place into the loss of the steamship" Trevessa"; whether such an inquiry will be held under the Board of Trade; when and where it will be held; whether special reference will be made as to whether the installation of wireless receiving and transmitting apparatus in the boats, in which the survivors were rescued, would have contributed in any measure to assist in their rescue or materially have lessened their sufferings, and thereby have saved life; and whether any national mark of appreciation will be accorded to the two officers responsible for such a magnificent landfall after a voyage of upwards of 1,500 miles in open boats under such conditions?


A formal investigation into the circumstances attending the loss of the s.s. "Trevessa" will be ordered by the Board of Trade, the inquiry taking place in this country, and the date and place of the inquiry being announced in due course. All the relevant circumstances will be investigated. I am glad to have this opportunity of expressing the Government's appreciation of the fine seamanship and good discipline displayed in the voyage of the two boats. I have considered carefully the question of granting awards; and in view of the fact that a full inquiry is to be held, I think that I ought to receive the report of the court of inquiry, before deciding finally upon the awards which should be made.


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether the dependants of those who lost their lives in the "Trevessa" come under the provision of the Workmen's Compensation Act; whether the Hain Steamship Company has any private arrangement for compensating the dependants of those who lose their lives whilst in their service; if not, will he suggest the opening of a fund for the support of those unfortunate people; and will he see that wages shall be paid to the above dependants up to the same date as those who landed safely?


The Workmen's Compensation Act applies to seamen, as to other workmen, but a Government, Department has no power to decide whether particular cases come within its provisions or not. I have no information whether the owners have any private compensation arrangement. I understand that a fund has been started by "Lloyd's List" in connection with the loss of the "Trevessa." There is no power to require wages to be paid to the dependants up to the same date as those who landed safely, but the owners are doing this voluntarily.