§ MR. LEVY (Leicestershire, Loughboro')
To ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether his attention has been called to the circumstances attending the death of Seaman Cosham, which occurred during the firing of a Royal salute at Portsmouth in August last; whether there was. a commissioned officer in charge of the men engaged in firing the salute when the accident occurred; and, if so, will he state why he was not required to give evidence at the inquest which was subsequently held; was the position occupied by Cosham at the time of the accident, viz., astride the muzzle of the gun, in accordance with the regulations laid down by the Admiralty for such occasions; whether there were sufficient warrant officers present to keep all the men engaged under observation; if he can state how many accidents have occurred during the last ten years to men engaged in firing salutes; and what steps the Admiralty have taken, or intend to take, to ensure the observance of regulations on such occasions in future.
(Answered by Mr. Arnold-Forster.) A Court of Inquiry has investigated the 1384 circumstances attending the accident referred to. There was no commissioned officer in charge of the saluting party, which was placed in charge of a gunner, in accordance with the regulations laid down by the Admiralty for firing salutes. As the men composing a saluting party have always had previous training in their duties, it is not considered that the presence of other warrant officers is necessary. The position astride the muzzle of the gun occupied by Able Seaman Cosham was not in accordance with the regulations, which require that the gun shall be run in for sponging, and orders have been given for the strict observance of this rule in future. I am unable without longer notice to state what accidents have occurred during the last ten years to men engaged in firing salutes; but if the hon. Member will repeat this inquiry next week I will endeavour to give him the information.