§ Captain HOTCHKIN
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Shipping, with reference to the last voyage of the ss. "Patricia" from Bombay to Liverpool, whether he is aware that medical officers state that there was insufficient air space in the cabins, that many of the first-class passengers were put in third-class accommodation on E deck, that many passengers were unable to obtain fresh water to wash in, that there was no fresh water to wash clothes in, that very little notice appears to have been taken of a report submitted on the defects in sanitation, with some suggestions for improvement, that the ship continued in a most insanitary condition, especially on the troop decks, and that no ice was obtainable throughout the Red Sea, there being only a little on board for very serious cases, so that the ordinary sick could have none?
An exhaustive inquiry has been held in regard to the question of the homeward voyage of the "Patricia." It is not correct that there was insufficient air space in the cabins. The accommodation in "E" deck is not third-class accommodation, but second-class; it is true that many of the first-class passengers were berthed on "E" deck, owing to the fact that the Government authorities at Bombay decided that no women of any class should be berthed in "E" deck, and consequently a number of officers had to be berthed there. It is true that no ice was obtainable through the Red Sea, except for hospital purposes. The supply taken at Bombay was considered ample to supply all needs as far 1921W as Egypt, but owing to the length of the voyage, and the fact that the refrigerator was out of order, the supply put on board at Bombay was not sufficient, and consequently the five tons remaining when the ship arrived at Aden had to be reserved entirely for medical purposes. With regard to the other points, I would refer to my reply of the 8th November to the hon. and gallant Member for Clackmannan.