HC Deb 29 August 1848 vol 101 cc628-30

On the House going into Committee,


called the attention of the House to the case of assistant surgeons in the Navy, who were required by the Admiralty regulations to be very highly educated, but who were compelled to pass their whole period of service as assistant surgeons in the-midshipmen's berth, and mess with the naval cadets. They, therefore, had no opportunities of prosecuting the study of their profession. The assistant surgeon in the Navy ought to be treated in the same manner as the assistant surgeon in the Army; but their relative positions were as different as could be conceived. He ought to be allowed to mess in the ward room with the lieutenants. The consequence of the treatment received by this class of gentlemen was that it was difficult to obtain competent candidates for the office. A cabin was appropriated to the admiral's butler, but none to the assistant surgeon. Cabins had been found also for the first engineer, and for the gentleman who was formerly called "schoolmaster," but who was now dignified with the title of naval instructor. He expected that the assistant surgeons would obtain justice from the present Board of Admiralty.


denied that the assistant surgeons in the Navy were unfairly treated. The subject had been fully considered by former Boards of the Admiralty, and by a Commission appointed for the purpose, and they had decided that there were practical difficulties in the way of permitting assistant surgeons to moss in the ward room. A cabin was, on the recommendation of the Commission, appropriated, in some instances, as a place for study; but, instead of being devoted to that purpose, it was used by the assistant surgeons as a withdrawing room, where they used to drink more wine than was allowed to be drunk at the mess. With regard to the difficulty of obtaining candidates, he could only state that since the report of the Commission in 1840 no less than 261 assistant surgeons had entered the Navy. This was a matter which had better be left to the direction of those who had the practical management of the affairs of the Navy, and when they found that assistant surgeons were not to be procured it would be time enough for the Admiralty to inquire into the reason of it.