§ CAPTAIN PRICE (Devonport)
asked the Surveyor General of Ordnance, Whether he has been made aware of a warning, stated by Colonel Hope, V.C. to have been given by him to the First Lord of the Admiralty, as to the probable result of firing the 43-ton guns on board the Collingwood; and, whether, considering the accurate knowledge which Colonel Hope appears to have with regard to the nature of these guns, he will consider the advisability of placing him on the promised Committee of Inquiry as to the causes of the recent failure?
MR. CARBUTT&c.) (Monmouth,
asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether it is a fact that the Committee of Inquiry into the cause of the bursting of the 43-ton gun, which is one of our newest designs, is entirely and only composed of the Ordnance Committee and the Ordnance Select Committee; whether the Ordnance Committee is responsible for the design of this gun, which was intended to fire 400 lbs. of powder, but has burst with a charge of only 221½ lbs; and, whether he will consider the propriety of appointing an independent instead of a Departmental Committee, or at least add one member who is connected neither with the Department nor a gun manufacturer?
§ THE SURVEYOR GENERAL OF ORDNANCE (Mr. WOODALL) (Hanley)
Yes, Sir. The letters addressed by Colonel Hope to the Admiralty referred to by the hon. and gallant Member have been forwarded to the War Office. The House has been already informed by the Secretary of State for War that the inquiry into the causes of the accident on board the Collingwood has been intrusted to the Ordnance Committee with associated members as specially constituted last year. Colonel Hope has expressed his willingness to serve upon the Committee of Inquiry; but it has not been thought expedient to reconstruct the Committee for the purpose of including Colonel Hope, though he will be invited to place his views in evidence before it, and they will have careful consideration. In reply to the Question of my hon. Friend the Member for the Monmouth District, I have to say that the names of the members and associated members of the Committee were stated on the 17th instant, in answer to the hon. Member for Great Yarmouth (Sir Henry Tyler). It is not, as I have explained, considered desirable to add to the Committee; but the evidence of any competent witness who can throw light on the gun's failure will be readily accepted. As to the responsibility of the Ordnance Committee for the design of the gun, the gun was designed before the present Ordnance Committee was appointed.
§ MR. CARBUTT
wanted to know, not the names of the Committee, but whether the Committee was the Ordnance Committee and the Ordnance Select Committee; in other words, whether the same gentlemen who designed this gun were to sit in judgment?
§ MR. WOODALL
No. The members of the Ordnance Committee are not responsible for the designing of the gun; but it is practically the same Committee as reported on these particular guns last year. It is felt to be respectful to that Committee and expedient to ask them to reconsider the whole subject in the light of the accident. The Secretary of State will then consider what course it is expedient to take on that Report.
§ MR. WOODALL
replied, that the responsibility for the designs, no doubt, rested with a former Committee on 1652 Ordnance; but they were subsequently approved by the Ordnance Committee last year, assisted by specially associated members for the purpose of giving additional force and weight to their recommendations.