HC Deb 04 April 1889 vol 334 cc1564-5
MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether his consideration had been given to the circumstances attending the embezzlement by W. W. Brad-don, late Assistant Paymaster of H.M.S. Helicon, of £3,818, which sum had since been written off as a dead loss to the Crown; whether his attention had been drawn, in particular, to the following passage in a communication, dated 14th December, 1887, from the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury to the Admiralty:— But whether there was laxity or not in the examination of Mr. Braddon's accounts, it is acknowledged that he was enabled to perpetrate his frauds through the persistent neglect by the Commander of the Helicon to obey Article 523 (c) of the Queen's Regulations: who were in succession commanders of the Helicon from Midsummer 1884 to January, 1886, the period of the frauds; what punishment had been imposed upon those officers for their neglect; and, had they been called upon to make good any portion of the public loss?


The facts are as stated. My attention has been drawn to the Treasury letter referred to. The case was fully investigated, and it was considered that there was no laxity in the examination of accounts. In regard to what the Treasury described as "persistent neglect" on the part of the commander it may be as well to explain exactly of what this neglect consisted. The paymaster of a ship has from time to time to prepare a statement showing the "balance of cash." These statements are submitted to the commander, who, after satisfying himself of their correctness, signs them before their transmission to the Admiralty. All this was done by the commander of the Helicon. His remissness consisted of his handing the statements after signature back to the paymaster for despatch to the Admiralty, instead of despatching them with his own hand, as directed by the regulations, and the frauds were perpetrated by the paymaster falsifying the figures of the statements after the commander had signed them, and before dispatching them to the Admiralty. The commander was reprimanded, and cautioned to be more careful in future, but as the neglect in effect consisted of his failure to recognize in one of his officers (and one who had hitherto borne the highest character) a possible rogue, it was not considered that this neglect was deserving of a more serious punishment than the censure which he received. I may add that the regulations have since this occurrence been made more stringent. The lieutenants commanding were Lieutenants Winsloe and Tisdall.


IS the noble Lord aware that in the Navy Appropriation Account, this year, there is an entry on page 61, that in the case of a receipt which was given in error, half the value is charged against the officer who gave it. I wish to know why this rule should not be applied also in the case of the more highly paid officers?


If the hon. Member wants to know why the regulation has not been carried out in this case, he had better put a question upon the Paper.