MR. MAC NEILL(for Mr. CONYBEARE) (Cornwall, Camborne)
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, Whether it is the fact that Mr. William Roper, who lately lost his life while working in the Government Dockyard at Devonport, was a skilled artizan whose character stood very high in the estimation of the Dockyard authorities; whether it is the fact that he lost his life under the following circumstances—namely, that after serving under the Government for some 30 years he was disentitled to any pension, because, through the difference of a few days in his age, he had never been put on the establishment; that at the age of 60 he might have retired and received a gratuity of about £60 which was then due to him; that he had the option of remaining on, if he passed the doctor, till he was 65; that he did so stay on, and left his gratuity of £60 to be taken up when he should have completed his extra five years; but that he met with his death a few weeks after while working overtime in December last; whether the 516 authorities have refused to pay over to the widow the gratuity to which her husband was entitled before his death, and why; and, whether he will, taking into account the deceased's long service and high character, and the fact that his widow is left with a family of six children, consider whether the above decision of the authorities should not be reversed?
§ THE FIRST LORD (Lord GEORGE HAMILTON) (Middlesex, Ealing)
It is true that William Roper was injured in the Devonport Yard when at his work; but his death was not attributed to such injury. He was 60 years of age, and was allowed to remain for his own benefit, and was entitled to a gratuity only as a hired man on completion of his service Such gratuity has hitherto only been paid to the man himself upon his discharge from the Service. Compensation is only given to the widows of civil employés when their husbands' death is directly attributable to the service in which they are engaged. My hon. Friend the Member for Devonport has already spoken to me concerning this man's case; and we are in correspondence with the Treasury on the subject.