HC Deb 13 July 1936 vol 314 cc1665-6
62. Mr. THORNE

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he can give the House any information in connection with the accident to four men when the staging alongside the "Iron Duke" in Portsmouth Dockyard collapsed and threw them 40 feet to the dock below; whether he can state the cause of the accident; and whether the staging in question was properly erected and tested before the men stood on it?

The CIVIL LORD of the ADMIRALTY (Mr. Kenneth Lindsay)

I regret to state that the Admiral Superintendent, Portsmouth, reports that on Wednesday, 8th July, owing to the breaking of a spar supporting some staging on the side of His Majesty's Ship "Iron Duke" in dock at Portsmouth Dockyard, four men fell to the bottom of the dock—a distance of 20 feet 6 inches. One of these men, F. H. Martin, skilled labourer, died at the Royal Naval Hospital, Haslar, on the same day. The other men were also removed for treatment to Haslar Hospital suffering from multiple injuries. The staging spar referred to was recently drawn from store and had not been previously used. It had been subjected to the usual practical tests and the stage had been erected by experienced stagemakers under the supervision of a chargeman of 30 years' experience of this class of work. It is reported that the fault in the spar was of an unusual character and that no inspection or practicable test would have revealed the defect; also that a spar of the dimensions used would normally be of considerably more than ample strength for its purpose. An inquest was held on Friday, 10th July, on the body of Martin and a verdict of accidental death was returned, the jury expressing an opinion that no one was to blame for the accident. The Board of Admiralty have expressed their sympathy with the relatives of the deceased man, and the question of paying compensation to his dependants is under consideration.