HC Deb 14 March 1882 vol 267 cc886-8

asked the Secretary of State for India, Whether he can now answer the question, put to him in August last, as to Captain Chatterton, viz.:—Whether, after the holding of the court of inquiry on the state of Captain Chatterton, as mentioned by him last Thursday, there were general, brigade, and divisional orders issued in reference to his case, dated respectively 15th, 16th, and 17th March 1869; and whether, in consequence of such orders, Presidency Surgeons Baillie and Brougham, and Garrison Surgeon Powell, placed Captain Chatterton in the Officers' Hospital at Fort William, Calcutta, for urgent surgical treatment, as the operation, however simple it might have been if performed in the September previous, had become a serious one, owing to delay; whether Garrison Surgeon Powell has certified that, after full examination, he found Captain Chatterton suffering from a contracted limb, for which he considered the division of the left tendon achilles necessary; that he attended him daily, prepared his papers, and proposed to take him before the Medical Board in Calcutta on the 28th April, with a recommendation that he be granted twelve months' leave of absence to visit England, in order that the operation might be performed under favourable circumstances, but that he was unable to take him before such Court in consequence of an Order from the India Council being served on him on the 26th April, requiring him to dismiss Captain Chatterton from the hospital; whether that India Council Order was founded on the previous Despatch of January, and in ignorance of the opinions subsequently formed by the highest medical authorities in Calcutta; whether, in consequence of Captain Chatterton being so hastily turned out of the hospital, he was left to find his way back to England to undergo the operation the best way he could; whether he will allow this officer to be examined by the Medical Board at the India Office to report to the House whether Captain Chatterton is now a cripple for life, notwithstanding five operations, performed in England, in consequence of the delay in attending to his case in India, owing to the differences of opinion existing among the medical authorities in India; and, whether he can recommend some compensation to Captain Chatterton for the injury he has sustained, and the great expense to which he has been put, in consequence of the numerous operations he has been obliged to undergo?


In May last I informed the hon. Member that I would have the matter carefully looked into, in order to ascertain whether it was requisite to make further inquiry in India. Subsequently, I privately informed the hon. Member, in reply to a private inquiry made by him, that the replies I had already given in the case of Captain Chatterton were based on the information which had been laid before previous Secretaries of State, and that the more detailed inquiries subsequently made in India only confirmed more precisely the accuracy of that information. I have now satisfied myself that further inquiry in India would throw no more light on the case than we already have. It has been officially reported that under no general, divisional, or brigade order was Captain Chatterton placed as a patient for surgical treatment in the Officers' Hospital at Fort William. These orders simply communicated to him the fact that, pending the orders of Government in his case, he might consider himself on leave in Calcutta, and consult any medical officer he pleased. He, therefore, voluntarily availed himself of the privilege of admission to the Officers' Hospital, according to the then prevailing custom of all officers when sick and on leave in Calcutta. He was admitted into the hospital on the 7th of April, 1869. The case-book shows that he came in for stiffness of ankle-joint due to the contraction of the ten do achilles and heart disease. The existence of the former was unquestioned; of the latter it was more doubtful. The case-book adds that "no treatment was considered necessary or adopted," and that he, having been placed on half-pay, left the hospital on the 23rd of April, 1869; but he apparently did not leave until the 28th. The surgeon in charge of that hospital, now retired, has, I believe, certified that he intended to bring Captain Chatterton before a Medical Board with a recommendation that he should receive 12 months' leave to enable him to undergo a division of his tendo achilles under favourable circumstances. Before the Board met Captain Chatterton had been placed on half-pay, and was at liberty to proceed to England without further permission or the formality of a Board, a liberty of which he availed himself. I am not prepared to call for a Report on Captain Chatter-ton's state by the Medical Board of the India Office; nor can I admit that there is any ground for recommending Captain Chatterton for any pecuniary aid in addition to the retired half-pay he already receives.