HC Deb 27 November 1890 vol 349 cc121-2
MR. GOURLEY (Sunderland)

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty if he will inform the House the number, description, and position of compasses on board the Serpent when she left Plymouth, and where last adjusted; whether any or all of Her Majesty's ships are fitted with Sir William Thomson's compass; and to inquire, if it is the intention of the Admiralty to supplement (and to what extent) the private subscriptions now being made on behalf of the widows and orphans of the crew of the Serpent?


There were four compasses on board the Serpent, including two of Sir William Thomson's, and they were adjusted and inspected on July 6 and November 8 this year. The compasses were inspected after the manœuvres by the Superintendent of Compasses, and found in excellent order. On the occasion of a subsequent visit to the ship by the Assistant Superintendent of Compasses, the commander expressed his own and the navigating officer's great satisfaction with the behaviour of the compasses during heavy weather in the manœuvres of 1890. Sir W. Thomson's compasses were introduced into the Navy in 1884, and there are now very few of Her Majesty's sea-going ships that have not at least one. Pensions from the funds of Greenwich Hospital will be given to all the widows, and allowances to the children, according to the rating of the husband. In cases in which the men have not left widows or children, but parents or other relatives dependent on them, gratuities will be given not exceeding a year's full wages, exclusive of any extra or additional pay. The payment of these gratuities will either be extended over a period until the whole amount has been paid, or a lump sum will be given at the discretion of the Admiralty if recommended. If the ages of the children are given, some of them could be placed in homes at the expense of Greenwich Hospital, and, if sons, could be subsequently educated at Greenwich Hospital School.