HL Deb 16 July 1869 vol 198 cc1-3

Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.


, in moving that the Bill be now read the second time, said, its object was to extend the principle of the Act of 1865, the policy of which, originated by the noble Duke behind him (the Duke of Somerset), was deliberately approved by Parliament. That Act admitted to the benefits of the Hospital all seamen and marines as long as they were infirm and helpless, and it established a system of out-patients, giving the inmates the option of returning home, and offering to all seamen fifty-five years of age, who had been for five years naval pensioners, a pension of 5d., and to all seamen seventy years of age, who had been ten years naval pensioners, 9d. a day. Within the last three or four months this great boon, which applied to seamen whether they had been in the Hospital or not, had been carried out. The present Bill was to be read by that Act. It proposed no alteration in the terms of admission, but it went a Little further with regard to out-patients, offering resident inmates, if they chose to return to their homes, the retention of their naval pension of 5d. or 9d. a day, and also such further special pension as, if they had been inmates before the 1st of January last, would make up the sum to £36 10s. a year, and if admitted since to £27 10s. a year. The 4th clause allowed invalids who had been admitted to the benefits of the Greenwich. Hospital infirmary the same advantages; but the pension would be granted only as long as they were infirm and helpless. The system of out-patients was recommended in 1860, by the Commission presided over by Sir William Hutt, and in 1864 the noble Duke behind him (the Duke of Somerset) wrote a celebrated Memorandum upon it, which resulted in the Act of 1865. In October of that year, when it came into force, 987 out of 1,382 in-pensioners at once left, of whom only thirty-one had returned; and their health had much improved, the death-rate being now only 6.4 per cent, as compared with an average for twenty years of 12.3 per cent. The income of the Hospital was now between £137,000 and £138,000, and in the present year it was proposed to expend £13,000 on the infirmary, it being calculated that 200 men would remain there, though he believed the number would really be much less. With reference to the "Greenwich sixpence"—a monthly contribution which every merchant seaman up to 1834 was obliged to make—the Admiralty had felt that the men who had thus contributed had an equitable claim, though not a legal right, and they, therefore, proposed to pay over £4,000 per annum to the Board of Trade, for the benefit of men who had contributed for ten years prior to 1834, and who were at that time eighteen years of age. The recipients would, therefore, be upwards of sixty years of age; and as the pensions allotted lapsed the funds would be applied to out-pensions for the seamen of the Royal Navy. The buildings it was intended to utilize for purposes connected with the naval service, by assigning them to some department of the Government or to any charitable society. Even if no rent were received, a sum of £5,000, now expended in keeping up the Hospital, would thus be saved; the right, however, of resuming possession at a month's notice would be reserved to the Admiralty. The noble Earl concluded by moving that the Bill be now read a second time.

Motion agreed to.

Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Monday next.