Mr. FRED HALL (Dulwlch)
asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will state why the inquiry into the loss of the Peninsular and Oriental liner "Oceana" on 16th March was not held more promptly after the disaster?
I have already stated to the House that in shipping casualties when loss of life occurs and an inquest is held in the United Kingdom it is not customary to hold the formal investigation into the casualty until after the Coroner's verdict is given. In this case three inquests were held, and the report of the proceedings at the last and most important one was received by the Board on 5th April (Good Friday). A considerable volume of evidence has had to be obtained (between thirty and forty witnesses are being called by the Board of Trade) and a careful preparation of the brief, and questions for the Court has necessarily occupied some time. On 22nd April notices were served on the parties to the Inquiry who were in England and whose conduct is called in question, that the investigation would be held on 30th April—a certain amount of notice being necessarily given to enable such parties to prepare their defences.370W Taking all these circumstances into account, I do not consider that it can be said that there has been any avoidable delay in this case.