HC Deb 08 June 1920 vol 130 cc242-4W

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Shipping Controller whether the transport "Hunts-green," formerly the Norddeutscher Lloyd S.S. "Derfflinger," which sailed from this country on or about 19th March last for Bombay, Singapore, and Hong Kong, em- barked a large number of troops, families, ladies, and repatriated officers and men; whether he is aware that, whilst no complaint was made in connection with the first-class accommodation, the allocation of same and the arrangements in connection with the embarkation of the passengers were deplorable; that a large portion of the second-class accommodation was used for officers and their wives and families entitled to first-class accommodation, and that to gain access to this second-class accommodation the occupants, including the ladies, required to pass along the after well deck occupied by troops, latrines, and washhouses, often in a filthy condition; that as these second-class cabins, occupied by first-class passengers, were aft of the second-class saloon, it was necessary for the ladies frequently to pass through the saloon whilst the warrant and non-commissioned officers were at their meals; that, while the ladies were subjected to this inconvenience, a number of unmarried subalterns were quartered in the first-class state rooms; that no intimation of having to accept second-class accommodation, under the circumstances was given to anyone until actually on board; that a captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps, his wife, and four daughters aged 22, 20, 14, and 12 were allotted to and expected to occupy one four-berth cabin in the second-class accommodation; and that for 13 days during the voyage no fresh water was obtainable in the second-class cabins; which Government Department was responsible for the unsatisfactory conditions attending the embarkation of the passengers and the allocation of cabins and berths; and can he give any assurance that further passengers proceeding to the East shall receive better consideration and conditions?

Colonel WILSON

I am afraid I cannot undertake to give detailed answers to all the numerous points raised in this long question, and I had not previously heard that complaints had been made as to the character of the accommodation provided on this vessel. I have gone very carefully into each of the points mentioned in the question, and am satisfied that, though owing to extreme pressure on passenger accommodation to the Far East, it was not possible to give precisely the same character of accommodation as under normal conditions, every effort was made by the officers of the Ministry of Shipping and War Office to secure that the ship would be in every respect fit for the carriage of the passengers.