HC Deb 27 November 1928 vol 223 cc207-8
14. Mr. HAYES

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he can state how many vessels were within 100 miles of the steamship "Vestris" when she sent out the S O S signals; how many of the vessels carried one wireless operator only who did not receive the S O S; how many had snore than one, operator, but who did not receive the S O S on account of business press, etc., on long waves; how many carried auto-alarms which did not respond; and why the "Vestris" sailed without two motor-boats fitted with wireless?


It is not possible at present to say what vessels were within 100 miles of the "Vestris," or to give particulars of their equipment, lint inquiries are being made. It is undesirable to make any statement as to the equipment of the "Vestris" while the matter is sub judice.


Is it not a fact that wireless officers have again and again complained that there are not enough competent men on ships, and that the practice of putting on men not fully trained instead of fully qualified' men leads to disaster in times of danger?


If the hon. Member wishes to ask a question on that subject, he ought to put it on the Paper.


When representing the point of view of the British mercantile marine, will the right hon. Gentleman's Department take into very careful consideration representations from the Wireless Operators' Association on the matter?


Their representations are always considered.


(by Private Notice) asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the American steamship "Montoso" was so placed that had she been fitted with wireless as she would have been under British regulations she could have reached the scene of the steamship "Vestris" within two hours of the S.O.S. call and have transferred the passengers and crew before it became necessary to launch the lifeboats, and whether having regard to the international importance of this question he will take the necessary steps to have it investigated?


I have seen statements in the Press to the effect referred to by the right hon. Gentleman. As I explained this afternoon to the hon. Member for the Edge Hill Division (Mr. Hayes), inquiries are being made to see what information can be obtained as to the vessels which were within 100 miles of the "Vestris" when she sent out the S.O.S. signals.

Commander WILLIAMS

On a point of Order. May I ask whether a question of this kind might not be considered anti-American propaganda?


Seeing that a very gallant captain is unable to defend himself, is it not the duty of anyone in this country to see that every step that can be taken will be taken to preserve the good name of that captain?