HL Deb 26 July 1858 vol 151 cc2103-5

, in rising to put a question to the Vice President of the Board of Trade respecting the wreck of the Candace, African steam-packet, and to ask whether it is the intention of the Board of Trade to institute an inquiry, under the provisions of the 432nd section of the Merchant Shipping Act, into the circumstances attending the loss of that vessel, said the Candace at the time the accident happened was on her return voyage from the coast of Africa. In the middle of the night she came into collision with a Dutch ship, whereby the Candace was lost with the whole of her cargo. By this accident, moreover, seven lives were lost. A lieutenant of the Royal Navy and other persons competent to judge were on board, and they were of opinion that there had been great misconduct, or at least negligence, on the part either of the officers of the Candace or the company to which she belonged. It appeared that the vessel at the time of the accident was entrusted to the care of an officer who was not properly certificated; that the master and mate were below, and that the vessel was entrusted entirely to the boatswain. When a question was put in the other House to the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Board of Trade, he replied that legal proceedings would probably be instituted, which would ensure a better inquiry than could be obtained by means of the Board of Trade. It was desirable that an inquiry should be instituted into the loss of all passenger vessels, particularly where lives were sacrificed. Since the passing of the Act empowering these inquiries he did not know a single case in which, where lives had been lost, an inquiry had not been instituted. If ever such an inquiry ought to be prosecuted it was in a case like the present, and as he understood no criminal proceedings had been instituted, he trusted that the Government would yet direct an inquiry to be made into all the circumstances of the case.


said, from inquiry, it appeared that the Candace was on her usual voyage; that she had been inspected before starting, and that it had been reported to the Admiralty that in all respects the vessel was fit and the crew fit. All the requirements of the law had been complied with. On the return voyage, not as had been said, on a bright night, but on rather a dark night and with a heavy sea, the vessel came in collision with a Dutch collier. Both the captain and the first mate had certificates, and the second mate had held a position in the navy; the crew had been shipped at Liverpool, at the best shipping office in the United Kingdom. On the return voyage the second mate was ill and was not able to attend to the ship, and the ship was in charge of the boatswain, but he was a man who had been eighteen years at sea, and had been boatswain on board one of the Cunard steamers. The master was called up the moment the collision happened. The collision was with a Patch collier, and any one who knew anything of the sea knew the careless mode in which those vessels were navigated. He believed that the accident had been entirely caused by the carelessness of the crew of the collier. The Candace had all her lights properly placed. The captain of the Candace had been since drowned, and therefore, as far as he was concerned, an inquiry was useless. Then where were they to get further evidence? How could they get the evidence of the Dutch crew? The only person who had applied for an inquiry was a lieutenant in the navy, and who stated in his communication that it was his intention to take proceedings at law against the company. What was to be got by inquiry? They had satisfied themselves that the owners of the vessel had done everything necessary, and that the captain and the mate were proper persons. He might perhaps have fished out materials for an action against the company, but that was a position in which the Government should not stand.


said, that if grounds such as those alleged by the noble Bari were to be sufficient to justify the Board of Trade in making no inquiry in a case in which a ship had been lost, no such inquiry would in future ever be held, and the valuable provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act would become a dead letter.

House adjourned at Nine o'clock, till To-morrow, half-past Ten o'clock.