HC Deb 03 November 1948 vol 457 cc829-31
1. Mr. Edward Evans

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether he has yet received a report on the death of Second-Class Boy Gordon Ernest Lindsey, drowned during a compulsory swimming test at H.M.S. "Ganges" at Shotley on 8th October; whether he is satisfied that the qualifications of the instructor in charge are adequate; and whether, in view of the previous experiences of the boy in regard to swimming exercises, he will cause instructions to be issued modifying the method of training.

The Parliamentary and Financial Secretary to the Admiralty (Mr. John Dugdale)

A report of the Board of Inquiry convened by the Commander-in-Chief, The Nore, to investigate this boy's death has been received in the Admiralty, and while it is under consideration I am afraid I am unable to make any comment.

Mr. Evans

In regretting this deplorable incident which caused distress to so many, could I ask whether it is not quite clear, and will not the Minister so agree, that the officers concerned do not seem to have even the most elementary knowledge of boys' and juvenile psychology; and would he widen the curriculum of the instructors in order to embrace that subject?

Mr. Dugdale

No, Sir. I think it is better, as I have said, that I should not comment until the Board of Inquiry is completed.

Mr. J. P. L. Thomas

In view of the public interest in this case, will the Parliamentary Secretary consider having a copy of the findings of the Board of Inquiry placed in the Library?

Mr. Dugdale

No, Sir, that is not usually done; but I should be perfectly prepared to answer a question in due course, when the report has been received by the Admiralty and considered.

Mr. Dumpleton

Would the Parliamentary Secretary assure the House that he will ascertain, from the report or otherwise, whether when this boy showed an aversion to the water amounting to phobia, a psychiatrist was consulted; and will he assure the House that in future, psychiatrists will be called upon to advise in similar cases?

Mr. Dugdale

I have no doubt that that point will be considered by the Board.

Mr. Sydney Silverman

What facilities, if any, have been afforded to the relatives of this boy to be represented or to attend the inquiry themselves so that they may be satisfied as to what occurred.

Mr. Dugdale

It is not usual for relatives to attend a Board of Inquiry, but I will inquire into what possibilities there are, that they may be able to do so.

Mr. Silverman

Whether it is usual or not, are not the circumstances here sufficient to justify an exception, if necessary, to the usual practice so as to enable the relatives to be represented at the inquiry, and to call evidence if they wish.

Mr. Dugdale

That is why I said that I would consider the matter.

Mr. Tiffany

In view of the fact that this boy is the son of one of my constituents, and in view of the procrastination and unsatisfactory nature of the replies that have been given, I beg to give notice that I intend to raise this matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible moment.

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