HC Deb 13 July 1871 vol 207 cc1626-7

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, Why no remuneration has been made to Mr. H. P. D. Cunningham for his inventions for working heavy Guns, and for the time and means which he has devoted to the subject, when help was so urgently needed on the introduction of modern heavy armaments for ships and forts; whether it is not the case, that Mr. Cunningham has given up his time, at the request of the Admiralty and the War Office, without any kind of salary or allowance, such as has been made to Captain Moncrieff, Major Palliser, and Captain Scott, all of whom have received salaries irrespective of any money awards for their inventions; whether it is not true, that the plan of running in and out by an endless chain, as imputed to Captain Scott, has been claimed by Mr. Cunningham as his patented invention, and that he has repeatedly protested against the use of it without recognition of his patent right, for which, and his other inventions, private firms pay him royalty; and, whether he will lay upon the Table the Correspondence which has passed between the Board of Admiralty and Mr. Cunningham on this subject, and in regard to the question of remuneration for his inventions; and whether this is still under consideration?


replied, that the Question of the noble Lord read like an interrogatory in a Chancery suit on Patent Rights. It was both historical and argumentative, and involved very intricate and complicated private rights, to which it was impossible for him to do justice within the limits of an ordinary answer, and he would therefore confine himself to a brief statement of fact. Mr. Cunningham submitted certain inventions to the Admiralty, and being asked to specify them, drew up a schedule of eleven inventions, of which seven related to the Navy and four to the Army. The seven relating to the Navy were investigated by a Committee, which recognized one of them as an invention that had been adopted, and for which he ought to be rewarded. They made an award for that invention, which had since been acted upon. He was informed that, as in the case of most inventors, it was at his own request that Mr. Cunningham sacrificed his time. One of these inventions was also claimed by Captain Scott; but he could not then go into the competing claims of those two gentlemen. The Correspondence mentioned was exceedingly voluminous, and would fill several Blue Books. He did not think it desirable to lay it on the Table; but any Member who desired to see the Correspondence could do so.