HC Deb 26 June 1896 vol 42 cc139-41
SIR HOWARD VINCENT (Sheffield, Central)

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade, if, having regard to the increasing suddenness of maritime disaster by the speed of impact in collision under steam, the Inspectors of the Board of Trade are repeatedly warned to be vigilant in seeing that the lifebelts required, under the Merchant Shipping (Life Saving Appliances) Act of 1888, to be provided for the total licensed complement of passengers, are not only on board but are also so placed as to be immediately available to the passengers without assistance from the crew or stewards; and, particularly, if he will enjoin especial vigilance in this matter during the cross-Channel excursion season?


Every care is taken to secure that the lifebelts and other life-saving appliances required to be carried by British ships, are not only provided, but that they are in good condition and readily available. The statutory rules made under the Act to which my hon. Friend refers require that:— All lifebuoys and lifebelts shall be so placed as to be readily accessible to all persons on board, and so that their position may be known to those for whom they are intended. The Board of Trade Inspectors are in constant communication with the Department, and the necessity for vigilance in this important matter is impressed upon them in every possible way. [Cheers.]


I beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty, if, bearing in mind the disaster to H.M.S. Victoria, and that nearly all the saved owed their lives to having secured a lifebelt, and having in view the determination of authorities on naval warfare to ram hostile ships whenever possible, the life-saving gear on Her Majesty's vessels of war has been increased and placed in accessible places, on the same lines as provided by Parliament in the Merchant Shipping (Life Saving Appliances) Act of 1888, and in the light of the evidence produced before the antecedent Select Committee presided over by Lord Charles Beresford?

THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. G. J. GOSCHEN, St. George's,) Hanover Square

I can only refer the hon. and gallant Member to the answer given to him in the House on 28th July, 1893. The Merchant Shipping Act of 1888 does not apply to Her Majesty's ships. Their established allowance of lifebelts is one for every ten men of the total complement, but in no case less than sufficient for one cutter's crew. The life-saving gear in Her Majesty's ships has not been increased, being considered sufficient The disposal of it is left to the discretion of commanding officers.