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Lifeboats (Improved Devices)

Volume 389: debated on Tuesday 18 May 1943

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asked the First Lord of the Admiralty the latest improve- ments in life-saving apparatus and equipment in lifeboats; and whether these include at least partial protection against exposure to seas and weather?

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport
(Mr. Noel-Baker)

I have been asked to reply. In the comprehensive answer on the subject of lifeboats which I gave to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Hertford (Sir M. Sueter) on 16th December last, I explained that protection against sea and weather had been provided by fitting canvas hoods and weather cloths to the boats, and by giving protective suits for crews and passengers. Since I made that answer, the new devices adopted include the following: Luminous compasses, apparatus for converting sea water into drinking water, a fabric rain catcher, modifications in the life-saving waistcoat to render the wearer more conspicuous in the water and to facilitate rescue, lifeboat ladders and lifeboat seat extensions to enable the occupants to lie down. Further improvements are in preparation.

Will the hon. Gentleman consider extending these improvements as soon as possible to the smaller minelaying craft, many of which have no equipment whatever in their lifeboats?

Did my hon. Friend some years ago see a demonstration in the river here in connection with a life-saving jacket? Are any of these packets in operation now?

I should like notice of that Question. We have many very recent improvements in life jackets.

Yes, Sir. It is simply a question of perfecting ideas on which we have been working for some time.