HC Deb 28 February 1910 vol 14 cc569-70

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what was the nature of the illness amongst the naval cadets at Osborne College; how many were affected; were any cases fatal; has any trace of the origin of the illness been discovered; and will he state whether the buildings were hastily erected against the advice of the civil engineering and medical authorities of the Admiralty, who recommended a larger expenditure of money in order to erect more suitable structures?


The nature of the illness was epidemic influenza. Two hundred and forty-four were affected. The disease is epidemic throughout the country and has been introduced into the college in the usual way. One case proved fatal from pneumonia and peritonitis. There is no foundation for any of the suggestions contained in the last part of the Noble Lord's question. In any event, the Board of Admiralty in 1903 took full responsibility for the course pursued, and it would be irregular to refer to the advice of individual officials in the Admiralty.


How many epidemics have broken out since the college was opened, and is it the fact that a large number of cadets are constantly absent from duty owing to illness?


No. I think it would be desirable to give notice of any question involving figures. I could not undertake to carry in my head the precise numbers.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware whether those buildings have been placed on the original foundations of the Royal stables and that some of the boys suffer from an equine disease known as pink-eye?


As the hon. Member is referring to facts which may have occurred in the year 1903, I think he had better address the question privately to the hon. Gentleman opposite.


Even if the right hon. Gentleman is successful in establishing his party point, has he no responsibility for the present state of affairs?


I accept full and complete responsibility for the present state of affairs. The hon. Gentleman asked me whether the buildings established in 1903 were on the site of some stabling, and I invited him then to address the question to the hon. Gentlemen opposite.


Is it not the fact that the buildings of the Royal Naval College at Osborne were erected as temporary buildings, and why is it that more permanent buildings have not been erected to take their place?


If the term temporary was used in the sense that it meant only a period of six or seven years, the hon. Gentleman would be right. Although the term may have been used, it was intended that the buildings should have been used for a much longer period.