§ 81. Major HORE-BELISHA
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, with reference to the collision between the "Bacchus" arid a motor barge in the Medway in which six lives were lost, whether he can make a statement upon the circumstances of this disaster?
The facts are that the motor boat of the Roy-al Fleet Auxiliary "Bacchus," proceeding up the Medway late on the night of Easter Monday, attempted to pass a barge under sail. She was 'hardly clear of the sailing barge when she was run into and sunk by a motor barge proceeding down stream, which the sails of the sailing barge had obscured from view. The Admiralty have not taken their decision as to responsibility for the accident; but the coroner's inquest on one of the victims recorded a decision of accidental collision, exonerating all parties from blame. I regret that six members of the crew of the "Bacchus" were unfortunately lost, notwithstanding the fact that the two other vessels concerned used every effort to recover the crew and passengers of the sunk vessel.
§ 82. Major HORE-BELISHA
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, with reference to the collision between His Majesty's ship "Bacchus" and a motor barge in the Medway in which six lives were lost, whether he can state how many of the men who were killed had dependants, to whom they were making allotments; if he can explain why these allotments were stopped within 48 hours of the disaster; and whether he will undertake that in future arrangements are made to pay pensions to similar dependants?
Four out of the six men lost had dependants to whom they were allotting. These men were employed by the Admiralty on an ordinary mercantile basis, i.e., they were civilians, and it was consequently necessary, under the Regulations, to stop payment of the allotments from the date of the disaster. As the men were civilians, their depend ants are not entitled to pensions, but statutory provision is made under the Workmen's Compensation Act in such cases, and any claims will be dealt with under the Act accordingly.
§ Major HORE-BELISHA
Would the hon. and gallant Gentleman undertake to look into the Regulations with a view to stopping this harsh practice of ceasing the allowance within 48 hours of the death of the breadwinner of a family?
Major H 0 RE-BELISHA
That does not matter. Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman look into the Regulations, as they are very hard?