HC Deb 14 October 1942 vol 383 cc1618-9
29. Mr. Walter Edwards

asked the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport the methods at present in use for the mitigation of frostbite injuries to which all wrecked seamen, particularly those sailing in Arctic waters, are liable?

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport (Mr. Noel-Baker)

Full instructions for the prevention and treatment of frostbite are given in a notice issued by the Ministry of which I am sending my hon. Friend a copy. Each man is provided with a rubberised protective suit to guard against exposure in lifeboat or raft, in addition to the means provided in the lifeboats and rafts themselves for protecting the occupants against exposure. Specially designed protective clothing is issued to crews of ships employed in Arctic waters. Oil is also provided for further protection and for massage, but I am not yet satisfied that the importance of using this oil is properly understood by seamen, and I am indebted to my hon. Friend for this opportunity of saying that this and other aspects; of the matter are now under active consideration.

Mr. Edwards

As I have witnessed some of the cases where people have been affected with frostbite, I appreciate the answer given, but I do wish the Ministry of War Transport to watch this matter very carefully, not only from the aspect of merchant seamen, but also from the aspect of those serving in the Royal Navy.

Mr. Noel-Baker

I fully share the hon. Member's anxiety about the number of limbs lost through frostbite and foot immersion, and I hope our measures will be even better than in the past.

Captain Poole

Are we to understand that there is rubberised protective clothing for every seaman sailing in Arctic waters in British ships?

Mr. Noel-Baker

Yes, Sir.