§ Mr. CAUTLEY
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that, on the occasion of the sinking of the Peninsular and Oriental steamer "Oceana" after collision with the "Pisagua" on 16th March last, the second boat which left the "Oceana" was in such a leaky condition that in spite of constant bailing it was only just kept afloat, and was on the point of sinking when its occupants were rescued by the Eastbourne lifeboat; and, seeing that these facts were established in evidence given in the Admiralty Court on the hearing of the action between the Peninsular and Oriental Company and the owners of the "Pisagua," whether he will take immediate steps to see that no passenger steamer leaves port without having had its boats previously inspected by an officer of the Board of Trade and certified by him to be seaworthy?
So far as I am aware the evidence in the Admiralty Court did not deal with this matter. I presume therefore that the hon. Member is referring to the proceedings of the Court of Inquiry into the circumstances attending the collision. When I receive the report of this Court of Inquiry I will consider what action, if any, it will be necessary for the Board of Trade to take with regard to the question raised. As I have already stated, the boats of passenger steamers are inspected before a passenger certificate is granted.
§ Mr. CAUTLEY
asked the President of the Board of Trade, whether he is aware that the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company insert conditions on their passenger tickets exempting the company from all liability to passengers for loss caused by reason of negligence of their officers or servants or improper navigation of their vessels; whether he is aware that such exemption of liability causes serious hardship to passengers, and particularly so in such cases as the sinking of the "Oceana," which the Admiralty Court has 1886W recently held to be due entirely to the careless navigation of that vessel and the negligent conduct and improper seamanship of its officers; and whether he will take steps to have the law altered and contracts with passengers containing such exemptions made illegal?
I will consider the question raised by the hon. Member, but I would point out that very large issues are involved in any proposal to restrict the insertion of conditions in contracts for sea carriage.