HC Deb 09 February 1882 vol 266 cc234-5

asked the Secretary to the Admiralty, If he will state the nature of the explosion on board H.M.S. "Triumph," and say whether the accident there throws any further light on the loss of H.M.S. "Doterel? "


An inquiry has been held on board H.M.S. Triumph to investigate the circumstances of the explosion, and the Report of that inquiry is expected daily. The evidence of the survivors of the Doterel has been taken by the Naval authorities at Portsmouth, and the Admiralty have referred the question to the highly scientific Committee now inquiring into the effects of coal gas in bunkers—a Committee which was appointed expressly in consequence of the finding of the court martial on the loss of the Doterel. The whole Correspondence on the introduction of the substance of xerotine-siccative into the Navy has been collected, and is now before the Board for decision. In a matter involving the conduct and responsibility of a number of public servants, I should not be justified in making any partial statement. When the Board of Admiralty have formed their conclusions with regard to the explosion on the Triumph, which they cannot, of course, do until the Report arrives, and on the responsibility of officers at home, those conclusions will be promptly laid before Parliament, together with the Correspondence and Reports on which they are founded. It will then be seen that the personal safety of our seamen has obtained the large portion of the attention of the Board of Admiralty which that all-important question ought to obtain. One isolated fact I hope the House will allow me to state, which will correct a rumour and prejudge nothing. On the day and on the hour that the lamentable news arrived by telegraph from Coquimbo, orders were issued to acquaint the friends of the sufferers. I hope, after hearing this answer, the hon. and learned Member for Bridport (Mr. Warton) will not press his Question to-morrow. The part of it which refers to the value of the xerotine-siccative, I can answer at once. Since 1875, the date of its introduction for general use in the Service, about £1,000 has been expended on this compound.


said that he should still consider it to be his duty to put the Question of which he had given Notice.