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Portsmouth Dockyard (W J Whitaker)

Volume 148: debated on Wednesday 9 November 1921

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asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty if he is aware that W. J. Whitaker joined the Royal Dockyard, Portsmouth, as skilled labourer in 1905, and remained on till early in 1917; that he joined the Royal Marines and fought in France, was invalided and discharged the service, rejoining the dockyard at once; that this man has now been discharged from the dockyard and his bonus refused him; and, if this refusal is due to his having joined the forces, will he investigate the case and remedy the apparent unfairness of the rule?

Inquiries have been made and the following are the facts of the case: Whitaker entered the dockyard in March, 1907, and was discharged in February, 1917, for being absent without leave. In April, 1917, Whitaker joined the Royal Marine Labour Corps and served until the following September; he was re-entered in the dockyard in December, 1917, and was recently discharged owing to reduction of hands. Under the Regulations Whitaker's service, prior to February, 1917, which was terminated by discharge on account of absence without leave, cannot be reckoned for gratuity, and his subsequent service is not sufficient to render him eligible for any such award.

Would not this man be in a worse position than if he had been a conscientious objector?

Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman not aware that in other Government establishments representations were made in similar cases, and the prior service was granted in those cases?

I am dealing in the most sympathetic way possible with these cases, but it does not appear to me that this is a case of the kind indicated. Whitaker did not join up until two months after he left the dockyard. He then joined the Labour Corps and served in that only until September.