HC Deb 02 December 1953 vol 521 cc142-3W
102. Captain Orr

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether, in view of the fact that the appeal of the British Transport Commission against the findings of the inquiry into the loss of the "Princess Victoria" has been dismissed, he is now in a position to make a further statement.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Yes. The main findings of the Lord Chief Justice in the High Court of Northern Ireland were that "Princess Victoria" was lost because of the inadequacy of her stern doors and of the arrangements for freeing water from the car space and because of the shifting of cargo. I have arranged for the judgment to be printed and for copies to be made available to hon. Members in the Vote Office in a few days' time. The judgment is being carefully examined by the British Transport Commission. Yesterday the Commission announced that it does not intend to dispute liability or to seek to limit liability under the Merchant Shipping Acts.

The House will remember that in answer to Questions on 22nd June I explained that the Commission had already taken steps to strengthen the stern doors and to fit improved freeing arrangements in four vessels which in these respects were similar to "Princess Victoria."

As a result of the tragic disaster to "Princess Victoria" it is clear that the load line rules which govern the provision of freeing arrangements should be amended, and I hope very shortly to consult the organisations representing the shipping industry as to the necessary revision. Meanwhile a great deal of preparatory work has been done.

The arrangements for search and rescue at sea are also under review, and discussions with other Government Departments are being held in regard to this. The other interested organisations will also be consulted.