MR. T. SHAW (Hawick, &c.)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that John M'Naught, while acting as a marker at the rifle range, Hawick, on Saturday, 23rd May last, was shot dead; whether the marking butt had been condemned by the Military Authorities, and was so imperfectly constructed that a bullet pierced some rotten wood of which the butt was in part composed, and killed M'Naught while he was attending to his duty and within the supposed shelter of the butt; whether his attention has been called to the fact that no public inquiry has taken place, but only a private inquiry, the details of which have not even been furnished to James M'Naught, the father of the deceased, who, however, has been offered a payment of £5; who is responsible for the dangerous condition of the butt and the consequent death of John M'Naught; will he direct a public investigation to be held; and are the Government prepared to accept such Amendments to the Fatal Accidents Inquiry (Scotland) Bill as will widen its scope so as to include casualties of the above description?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN, Stirling, &c.)
Until the hon. Member gave notice of his question no information regarding the accident to John M'Naught on the rifle range at Hawick had reached the War Office, the matter having been dealt with regimentally by means of a Court of Inquiry for the purpose of ascertaining the facts. M'Naught was shot on May 27, inside the marker's butt. He was not acting officially as marker, but was in the butt with the marker. The butt had not been condemned by the Military Authorities. The accident resulted from a bullet piercing the wooden backing of the butt below the iron mantlet. It does not appear that the wood was rotten, but that the earth banked behind the wood 1056 and insuring security had slipped down and left two or three inches of the wood bare. I am informed that ah official inquiry was held by the Fiscal, but I am not aware how it was conducted, and the result was not communicated to the Military Authorities. The range is in charge of the 1st Roxburgh and Selkirk Rifle Volunteers; and the officer commanding is responsible for its condition. The last two questions should be addressed to the Lord Advocate.