HC Deb 05 May 1920 vol 128 cc2047-9

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether his atten- tion has been directed to Paragraph 3, Clause B, of the Admiralty Weekly Order, No. 1,230a, of the 21st April, 1920, which states that examination and boom-defence service and service in transports, hospital ships, and auxiliary and other vessels armed for defence only does not qualify for participation in the Naval Prize Fund; was the original Order to the effect that all prize money should be pooled and distributed amongst the whole of the Navy, no mention being made of qualifying periods at sea or specified vessels; is he aware that by excluding certain ratings who were doing their duties in the vessels mentioned above as well as those who, through no fault of their own, were serving in certain shore establishments, viz., home and foreign hospitals, etc., great discontent is prevailing; and will he cause the qualifying period at sea to be cancelled to enable all officers and men of the Navy to participate, the shares to be estimated on a similar basis to the gratuity?


The Order in Council issued at the beginning of the War (28th August, 1914) announced an intention of substituting for the former practice, by which the actual captors alone had any interest in prizes, a scheme for the more general distribution of proceeds, to be made under regulations and conditions to be announced later. In the discussion on the Naval Prize Bill on 23rd July, 1918, it was stated that Prize Money was earned in the old wars by service at sea, and it had been considered desirable to adopt the same principle in making the more general distribution, and further that this condition of sea service was the fundamental principle to qualify for the award. The draft scheme of distribution, indicating quite clearly that only service in sea-going ships of war armed for offensive purposes would qualify, was at the same time laid before the House. It was promulgated on the 10th February, 1919 (Prize Proclamation), and circulated in Fleet Orders the following month.

The effect of the scheme is to extend the area of distribution to all those serving in circumstances which, under former practice, might have yielded prize captures, while those serving on shore, or on harbour duties, or in vessels armed defensively or not at all, remain excluded. There is no ground for the suggestion that the scheme does not correspond with the original Order on the subject.


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is aware that in the case of the "Robella," lost during the early part of the War, most of the sick-berth staff on board were drowned; and whether, notwithstanding anything contained in Admiralty Order No. 1230a of 21st April, 1920, he will consider the possibility of members of the sick-berth staff who served in hospital ships, and were subject at all times to the menace of mines and submarines, participating in the Naval Prize Fund?

29. Colonel BURN

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if he will consider the claim of the sick-berth stewards in the Royal Navy to participate in the division of the prize money?


I presume that the ship mentioned by my hon. Friend in Question 26 refers to the hospital ship "Rohilla." The qualification for participation in prize money is service in a seagoing offensively armed ship of war. In these circumstances only sick-berth staff serving in such ships are entitled to share, and it is not, therefore, possible to admit claims based on Hospital Ship Service.

Colonel BURN

Does the hon. Gentleman not consider that these men had as hard a time as men on other ships, and had to serve in all sorts of climates and were exposed to the same dangers as ether men taking part in the War?


No, Sir; not quite. I think if the hon. Gentleman cares to study the whole question, he will see that a differentiation must be made somewhere and that the widest possible latitude has been given.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

Is it not the fact that men on hospital ships got a special War gratuity for service which is not granted to ordinary naval ratings?


I cannot say off-hand.