HC Deb 05 April 1898 vol 56 cc207-8
MR. J. F. X. O'BRIEN (Cork)

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he will state the precise circumstances and the nature of the offence for which Pilkington, seaman gunner, was punished, and all the circumstances of the case, including the cutting of his hair without warrant?

THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. G. J. GOSCHEN,) St. George's, Hanover Square

I have ascertained the following facts:—Three men, one of whom was Pilkington, were wearing the shamrock in their caps. They were individually ordered by the officer of the watch to take it out. Two at once obeyed, and, having removed the emblem, were not punished. Pilkington flatly refused to do so, thus wilfully disobeying the lawful command of the lieutenant who was on duty. The captain investigated the case next day, and ordered a warrant to be made out awarding Pilkington 14 days' cells, which carried with it the deprivation of a badge and reduction to the second class for conduct. The captain ordered his clerk to make out this warrant in pencil, and bring it to him for his signature. When brought to him for signature, he further considered it, and reduced the sentence to seven days' cells, retaining Pilkington in the first class for conduct. He gave orders that when the warrant was read the man should be informed that the punishment was reduced on account of his previous good character. The regulations require that men awarded cells for more than 10 days, and who are in the second class for conduct, are to have their hair cut short, but as Pilkington was not reduced to second class his hair would not be cut. The captain of the ship states he is not aware that it was cut, and owing to the ship having been paid off, it is difficult to ascertain the full facts at short notice.

MR. W. H. K. REDMOND (Clare, E.)

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, in view of the trouble caused by the strong feeling aroused in this matter, the Admiralty cannot see its way to make some arrangement in regard to the wearing of the shamrock, such as the Army authorities have very justly and wisely done?


Certainly, I will give this matter my full consideration. I may add that no one regrets such incidents as this more than the officers themselves.