HC Deb 27 March 1882 vol 268 cc27-8

asked the Secretary to the Admiralty, If his attention has been drawn to the misery and discomfort attendant on the recent sea voyage of the 1st battalion Scots Guards from Dublin, lasting from 4 p.m. on the 18th instant to 3 p.m. on the 22nd instant; if it is correct that out of a total of 628 non-commissioned officers and men, 680 men were packed on the troop deck, and 48 compelled to find space where they could; if it is true that, during the whole of the voyage, not a single hammock was served out to these men; if it is also true that the washing accommodation for these 628 men was ten basins, to which access was only allowed for one hour and a-half in the morning; and, if, in addition to the above, 42 women and 95 children were packed in a space, in another part of the vessel, totally inadequate to receive them, and were subject, with the rest, to a condition of things during two days' rough weather which was neither decent nor humane?


In 1875 the usual Committee of Naval and Military officers, including an officer of the Quartermaster General's Department and of the Army Medical Department, surveyed Her Majesty's ship Assistance, and fixed her capacity at 810 men and 142 women and children. On the occasion to which the noble Lord refers she carried 683 men and 127 women and children. It is a regulation that there should always be a guard on deck, and probably the 48 men referred to were the guard in question. Hammocks were available, and would have been issued if they had been asked for. The Quartermaster was offered to have blankets served out, but declined the offer. There were 15 basins in the troops' wash-places, which were open eight hours in the day. No complaint has ever before been received of the insufficiency of the accommodation on the Assistance for such numbers as were embarked on this occasion. The captain of the vessel reports, by telegraph, with reference to the voyage under consideration, that— The colonel, on leaving, took the opportunity of thanking me for all the comfort on board the ship; and, being asked by me if he had any complaint, said, 'No; only regretted passage was so short.'