HC Deb 29 April 1914 vol 61 cc1667-9
4. Mr. F. HALL (Dulwich)

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if his attention has been called to the case of Henry Plant, who entered the Navy as a second class stoker in September, 1911, and who was invalided from Haslar Hospital as suffering from diseased bone and peritonitis; if he is aware that Plant was compulsorily vaccinated in September, after passing satisfactorily a thorough medical examination; that he entered the hospital in October and remained there until invalided in the following February; that after leaving the Service, Plant had to have his left arm amputated; that the disease which necessitated this step has spread to the man's chest and right arm; and that he has become totally unfit for any ordinary occupation; if any medical report has been made to the Admiralty since Plant was invalided; if so, whether such report dealt with the possible connection of the disease from which Plant suffered with his vaccination; if any other persons were treated with the same vaccine; and, if so, whether inquiry has been made as to the results; if any report has been asked for or received from the medical men who treated and operated upon Plant after he left the Service; whether he will explain why the Admiralty has declined to grant any compensation to Plant; and if he will afford access to the medical reports upon which that decision is based?


I would point out that vaccination is compulsory in the sense that vaccination and re-vaccination are conditions of entry into the Service a candidate not being entered if he declines to accept these conditions. Plant signed the usual statement accepting these conditions. I am informed that other persons were treated with the same vaccine, in all cases with satisfactory results. No medical reports have been received from outside practitioners since the date of invaliding, but in the reports made by Service medical officers the aspect of the case alluded to by the hon. Member—namely, the possible connection between the disease from which Plant suffered and vaccination—has been dealt with. As I stated in reply to the Noble Lord the Member for Portsmouth on the 5th March, as the disease was not attributable to the Service, and Plant had served for less than a year, he is not eligible, under the terms of the regulations, for any award by way of pension or gratuity from Naval or Greenwich Hospital funds. As regards the last part of the question, I shall be happy to discuss the case with the hon. Member if he so desires.


May I ask whether this poor man had not passed a very searching examination, and whether he had not signed on for twelve years, and therefore whether under the special circumstances something cannot be done by the Admiralty?


Yes, he passed the usual test and he signed on for twelve years. The loss of the arm has nothing to do with vaccination. I am assured of that by all the medical testimony. Therefore nothing can be done from Greenwich Hospital or Naval Funds. Without raising hopes unduly if means can he found to assist him I shall be glad.


Would it be possible to find him a messengership in one of the Government Departments?


That is a matter I have under consideration—some light work of that kind.