HC Deb 11 November 1936 vol 317 cc847-9

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is aware that under existing Admiralty Regulations naval officers who are accepted for the Navy after a searching medical examination as Al lives, with no adverse family history, and who after years of service subsequently develop tuberculosis, are discharged without compensation and without sanatorium treatment on the ground that it could not be definitely proved that the disease, though contracted during naval service, had been brought about through that employment; and whether such Regulations will be altered so as to enable officers who have contracted tuberculosis during their naval service to receive some sanatorium treatment before their discharge?


Although tuberculosis is a common disease in civilian life as well as in the Navy, 24 out of the 26 naval officers invalided for pulmonary tuberculosis during the last three years have had their disability accepted as attributable to their service. Officers whose disability is accepted as attributable receive retired pay with disability addition, and also as there are no Service facilities for sanatorium treatment, they receive grants for sanatorium treatment outside. It is reasonably certain that in some of these instances the disease would have developed equally in civil life, but the Naval Regulations are widely drawn in order to avoid inflicting hardship in individual cases. The few officers whose pulmonary tuberculosis cannot be accepted as attributable to the naval service receive Service retired pay or gratuity according to their rank and length of service. I regret that it would not be possible to justify differentiation between these officers and those invalided for other non-attributable causes by making grants for special treatment to the former.


Is my Noble Friend not aware of the case of Lieut. Slaney, who was invalided out of the Service, who contracted tuberculosis while serving on a destroyer, who was taken to hospital, and who was dismissed from the Navy while still in bed in hospital, and that his mother had to provide the cost of an ambulance to remove him from that hospital and has also had the charge of providing treatment ever since?


As my hon. Friend knows very well, I have had a long correspondence with him about this case, and unfortunately there was no action which we could take under the existing Regulations. As I said in my answer, the proportion of officers invalided from this disease on non-attributable grounds is very small, but I have the greatest sympathy for them, and anything which we can do to relieve them I shall only be too glad to do.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that that is the object of the question, and that notwithstanding his great personal interest in this case, it was found that the Regulations would not allow of anything being done?


Is retired pay in similar circumstances given to men of the lower deck?


May I ask the Noble Lord whether he is not considering doing something of this sort in precisely similar cases applying to men of the Royal Navy, in which we are told that the Admiralty is helpless to do anything for men who lose their health in the Service?


That is going far beyond the question on the Paper.

Forward to