HC Deb 01 February 1956 vol 548 cc914-5
31. Mr. Awbery

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he is aware that the safety of many coastal vessels depends on the strength of the canvas which covers the hatches; that when this is torn by the sea the hatch covers become loose and liable to be washed away; and if he will make a regulation for a locked bar to be placed across every row of hatch covers in order to retain the firmness of the hatches even when the canvas is broken.

Mr. Watkinson

Load-line rules which govern these matters already require hatch covers to be provided with steel bars or other equivalent means for efficiently and independently securing each section of hatchway covers after the tarpaulins are battened down.

Mr. Awbery

Is the Minister aware that at the inquest on the men who were lost on the motor vessel "Citrine" off Falmouth a few weeks ago, a representative person said that it was a mockery that the safety of a vessel should depend upon the canvas cover on the hatches? Surely something should be done to make hatch covers safe, apart from the wedging of the canvas?

Mr. Watkinson

I have looked at the report of the loss which the hon. Gentleman has mentioned. I do not think he knows that I have already ordered a preliminary inquiry. I do not think I ought to comment further on the matter.

Mr. G. R. Howard

In view of the disquiet in West Cornwall at the rather unfortunate remarks at that inquest by somebody who was really in no position to make them, would my right hon. Friend bear in mind that there is a real need for giving information so as to allay suspicion of and unfairness to the people who constructed and manned that vessel, and that it should be quite definitely stated whether the remarks are true or not? There has been considerable anxiety not only in West Cornwall but in Glasgow as well.

Mr. Watkinson

This is a very important point, and that is why I have asked for a preliminary inquiry.

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