Oral Answers to Questions — Missing Trawler (Search)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 26th April 1950.

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The following Question stood upon the Order Paper in the name of Mr.DONNELLY:

104. To ask the Minister of Transport if he has any statement to make regarding the loss of the trawler, the "Milford Viscount" with all hands during April.

Photo of Mr Alfred Barnes Mr Alfred Barnes , East Ham South

With permission, I desire to answer Question No. 104.

The motor trawler "Milford Viscount," built in 1947, left Castletown, Berehaven, County Cork, on 30th March, with a crew of 13, for the Porcupine fishing grounds about 100 miles off Slyne Head on the west coast of Ireland. She was expected back at Milford Haven on 16th April, but did not arrive. A search has been conducted by sea and air over a wide area without success. Her owners have had no news of her since 1st April, except a report that a lifebuoy belonging to her was washed ashore near Ballybunnion, County Kerry, on 20th April. She has not yet been posted as missing at Lloyd's. If the vessel is not found I will arrange for a preliminary inquiry to be held under the Merchant Shipping Acts.

Photo of Mr Desmond Donnelly Mr Desmond Donnelly , Pembrokeshire

While thanking my right hon. Friend for that answer, may I ask him to pursue his inquiries further, especially as to why the Admiralty were not more co-operative in sending ships to undertake this search, particularly in view of the fact that a volunteer crew from Milford Haven put to sea and 25 other trawlers from other fishing grounds also took part in the search, at considerable personal cost and inconvenience to people in the fishing industry?

Photo of Mr Alfred Barnes Mr Alfred Barnes , East Ham South

I have been assured that the search has been very widespread and very extensive.

Photo of Mr Desmond Donnelly Mr Desmond Donnelly , Pembrokeshire

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the great resentment caused in Milford at the failure of the Navy to participate in the search? Is he also aware of the effect that this may have on recruiting for the Royal Naval Reserve?

Photo of Mr Alfred Barnes Mr Alfred Barnes , East Ham South

I certainly wish to repudiate entirely any suggestion that the Navy would ever be backward in an emergency of this kind.

Photo of Mr Ivor Thomas Mr Ivor Thomas , The Wrekin

Can my right hon. Friend say whether such ships are compulsorily installed with wireless, and, if not, whether steps may be taken to see that such installations are required in future?

Photo of Mr Alfred Barnes Mr Alfred Barnes , East Ham South

Until the investigation takes place, it is not right to assume that there have been any deficiencies anywhere.