HC Deb 09 July 1919 vol 117 cc1790-1

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if ho can now say what is the exact claim of Chief Engineer-Room Artificer Isaac Gibson, of submarine A 10, to the invention of the device by which this craft when she accidentally sank below the control of her pumps was raised from thirty-two fathoms of water shortly after the outbreak of War in 1914; whether he can account for the conflicting statements made by the Admiralty on the matter by which he is admitted as co-inventor with his commanding officer in one case and in another as only applying a device which at the time was known to the Admiralty; whether he can state an instance in which it was applied prior to that time and, if so, the name of the submarine, the date, and the depth from which she was raised; whether also Mr. Burgess, the inspector of inventions under the Admiralty, was ordered to report with respect to the device; whether under his superintendence the same craft was taken to forty fathoms and deliberately sunk as a test of the efficacy of the invention and raised as before; and whether, having regard to all the circumstances of the case, the Admiralty will consider a revision of the monetary allotment made to the widow and children of this man, who perished in the service of his country when his submarine was sunk by His Majesty's Ship "Fearless" on the night of 31st January, 1918?


As the answer to this question is somewhat lengthy, I will, with my hon. Friend's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

The following is the answer prepared:

I am advised that the device referred to was well known, and was, in fact, patented in 1905. I am further advised that the suggestion which Chief Engine-room Artificer Gibson made to his commanding officer cannot be regarded as an invention, and was in fact simply an adaptation of existing and available gear to enable it to perform the work of gear already installed in all later classes of submarines. I am assured that Mr. Gibson has never been described as "co-inventor with his commanding officer."

I understand that Mr. Burgess, who is referred to in the latter part of the question, is a draughtsman, and was at no time appointed as or had authority to describe himself as an Inspector of Inventions. He attended the trials of submarine A 10 in connection with fittings intended to replace the existing diving rudders of submarines. He received no instructions as to taking the boat to a depth of forty fathoms to test the device referred to in the question. There is no record in the OFFICIAL REPORTS of the trials mentioned of any such action having been taken, and it is highly improbable that any such directions would be issued, as submarine A 10 was an obsolete type of boat whose tanks were not designed for such a depth of submergence. The last part of the question is for the consideration of the Ministry of Pensions.