HC Deb 06 May 1886 vol 305 cc375-7
LORD GEORGE HAMILTON (Middlesex, Ealing)

asked the Secretary to the Admiralty, Whether any information in addition to that which has appeared in the newspapers could be given with regard to the bursting of a gun on board the Collingwood; and what number of rounds were required at the trial test of this gun before it was passed?


asked how many guns of a similar pattern were ordered by the Admiralty; how many were already mounted; to what test they had been subjected; and whether, having regard to the demoralizing effect produced by a doubt as to the life of a gun, the Admiralty would request that all the 43-ton guns, mounted or not, should be subjected to higher tests than had been already used?


, in reply, said, that although no life was lost by the unfortunate accident which occurred on the firing of the gun it was an accident much to be deplored. The gun referred to was one of 11 which had been made at Woolwich for the use of the Admiralty. Of that number 10 were mounted—four upon the Colossus, two on the Conqueror, and four on the Collingwood. One of the guns upon the Collingwood was fired without any bad result previously to the bursting of the gun now being spoken of. The guns of the Colossus had been fired upon many occasions at sea, and also the guns upon the Conqueror. With regard to the testing of the guns before they were mounted, he must refer the noble Lord to the Surveyor General of the Ordnance. Immediately upon the accident being known at the Admiralty Lord Ripon conferred with the Ordnance Department, and it was agreed that steps should be taken at once with a view to the strengthening of all the guns he had alluded to. The Ordnance Committee which sat last year, and which was a very strong Committee, recommended that these guns should remain unaltered, but that the full charge should not be used in firing them. The gun which burst was tested with a charge of 221¼lb., which was only three-fourths of the usual charge. He trusted the House would be satisfied that the Admiralty had at once taken action with a view to prevent the recurrence of a similar accident.

SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT (Sussex, North-West)

asked the Secretary to the Admiralty, whether the 10 guns served by the Ordnance Department to the Admiralty were to be returned to that Department to be strengthened, and, he presumed, to be tested? He should like to ask the Surveyor General of Ordnance what course he intended to take with regard to an important question of this kind?


said, he had very little to add to the reply which had been given. With regard to this particular gun concerned in the accident of Tuesday, he might state that it was one of a class which had been reported upon by a special Ordnance Committee, whose Report was presented to the House in July of last year, and which Committee reported in respect of that particular gun that was to remain unaltered, but that the charge of 295 lb. was not to be exceeded. The House was aware that the charge under which the gun burst was only three-fourths of that amount, whereas the same gun had been fired nine times previously, four of the rounds having exceeded the regulation charge, being as high as 340 lb. He believed that the statements in the newspapers were substantially accurate as to the circumstances. They were also such, however, that the House would see that they called for a minute and particular inquiry, and a special Committee of experts had been appointed to conduct an inquiry. Their Report would be presented as soon as possible.