HC Deb 09 September 1887 vol 321 cc32-6

Resolutions [8th September] reported.

First Five Resolutions agreed to.

Sixth Resolution read a second time.

MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)

said, he hoped the noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty (Lord George Hamilton) would reconsider the case of the widow of a seaman of the Royal Navy named Patrick Cooper, to which his attention had been already called. The man had died in consequence of injuries received in the service of the Queen, and his widow, who had seven children depending on her, was now in great need in Belfast. A vote of £22,500 had been taken for compassionate allowances for the widows of officers; but the noble Lord told the House that he had no power to give a penny by way of compassionate allowance to the widows and orphans of the men. He begged to move the reduction of the Vote by £1,000.

Amendment proposed, to leave out "£906,800," and insert "£905,800."—(Mr. Sexton.)

Question proposed, "That '£906,800' stand part of the Resolution."


said, that the hon. Member appeared to receive with some incredulity his statement that he had no option whatever in the matter. He would read the Regulations on the subject. The noble Lord then read the Regulations, from which it appeared that in every case it was necessary to show that the illness of which the man had died was directly traceable to injuries received while in the Service, and he also read medical certificates to the effect that Cooper's death was not the result of such injuries. The widow and her children, therefore, were not entitled to pension or gratuity. But there was a provision made for the children of such poor persons, and Mrs. Cooper having made application that two of her daughters should be educated out of the naval funds, her request was acceded to. Her third son was also eligible for Greenwich School, and if he passed the examination, he would take care that the boy should be admitted.

Amendment, by leave withdrawn.

Resolution agreed to.

Resolutions Seven, Eight, Nine, and Ten agreed to.

Eleventh Resolution read a second time.

MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne),

in moving to reduce the Vote by £100, said, he desired to call attention to the dismissal of a man from the Hallamshire Volunteer Battalion. The ton. Member, in a lengthy and disjointed speech, read a number of letters, newspaper extracts, &c, placing the case of the ex-volunteer before the House. Prom these it appeared that on the occasion of a Jubilee demonstration in Sheffield, the man did not remove his helmet when "God save the Queen" was being played, as the rest of the regiment did, and when asked to do so by the colour-sergeant, replied that he was a Republican. According to the man's version the colour-sergeant's request was accompanied by an oath, but this the latter denied. The matter was brought to the notice of the commanding officer, who dismissed the man from the battalion for insubordination, and afterwards caused him to be summoned for 30s., the amount of the capitation grant. After looking into the circumstances of the dismissal the magistrates decided in favour of the regiment, and made an order for the payment of the money, He (Mr. Conybeare) contended that this man had been dismissed and treated in this fashion entirely because of his political opinions, and asked the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War (Mr. E. Stanhope) whether, if he (Mr. Conybeare) professed himself a Republican, the right hon. Gentleman would assent to his removal from the corps to which he belonged? If a man was to be turned out of a Volunteer Corps for such paltry reasons it would have a very bad effect upon the Volunteer movement. Feelings of loyalty were not likely to be inspired in the minds of the people of this country if Republicans were prosecuted and made martyrs of.

Amendment proposed to leave out "£655,000," and insert "£654,900."—(Mr. Conybeare.)

Question proposed, "That '£655,000' stand part of the Resolution."

THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. E. STANHOPE) (Lincolnshire, Horncastle)

said, he thought the Volunteer was singularly unfortunate in his advocate in the House of Commons. This man was dismissed for insubordination and using improper language, and for nothing else. He (Mr. E. Stanhope) had before him the report of the commanding officer, and the joint statement of two sergeants. One of the latter, whilst "God save the Queen" was being played, requested the man to uncover, as a member of Her Majesty's Forces. The man declined, saying he did not believe in anyone being his superior—that he was a Republican and a Socialist. When he was brought before the commanding officer, he at first denied that the occurrence had taken place, and then admitted that the evidence of the sergeant was true. That being so, the commanding officer rightly-considered it a gross case of insubordination. This decision was come to and the man was punished, not because he was a Republican, but because he committed an act of insubordination and refused to obey the orders of his superior, an offence for which any member of Her Majesty's Forces was liable to be dismissed, and for which he deserved to be punished.

Question put, and agreed to.

Resolution agreed to.

Subsequent Resolutions agreed to.