Navy Estimates, 1920–21.

Orders of the Day — Supply. [4TH Allotted Day.] – in the House of Commons on 23rd March 1920.

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Resolutions reported, 1. "That 136,000 Officers, Seamen, and Boy", Coast Guard, and Royal Marines be employed for the Sea and Coast Guard Services borne on the books of His Majesty's Ships and at the Royal Marine Divisions for the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1921.2. "That a sum not exceeding £21,459,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Expense of Wages, &c., to Officers, Seamen and Boys, Coast Guard, Royal Marines, and Mercantile Officers and Men, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1921.

Question proposed, "That the House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."

Photo of Sir Thomas Bramsdon Sir Thomas Bramsdon , Portsmouth Central

When this Vote came before the Committee my right hon. Friend, the First Lord of the Admiralty, made a very important statement in regard to the clothing of the petty officers of the Royal Navy. This was the very welcome announcement that the new uniform had been agreed upon, the uniform known in the Navy as the fore and aft uniform; but he made this qualification, that it was only to be worn by petty officers of four years seniority. I have since that announcement been brought into contact with many of those concerned, and I tell my right hon. Friend there is very great disappointment throughout the service that it has been found necessary to restrict the wearing of the uniform. As a matter of fact, petty officers in the Navy were anticipating this concession for a long time, having been led to the belief that it would be granted; indeed, that it was settled except as to the actual pattern of the uniform. There was a question as to the difference between this uniform and the uniform of a chief petty officer. I ask my right hon. Friend if he will be good enough to take this matter again into his consideration. There is great and genuine disappointment that the petty officers throughout the Navy have not had this thing fully conceded. The restriction only applies to seamen petty officers and to stoker petty officers; all other classes of petty officers have this particular new class of uniform. Petty officers having anticipated this concession have ordered the uniform largely throughout the Navy, and this was considered an opportune moment to be ready for the wearing of it. The First Lord will probably be aware that I have put down a question on the subject for to-morrow. It is quite possible he may not be able to give me a definite answer to-day. If he can, well and good. If not, I shall wait. But if he can give me a satisfactory answer I can assure him that the petty officers will be very grateful. If he cannot give me an answer, I feel confident that he will give fuller consideration to the matter in conjunction with his colleagues, and probably be prepared to give me an answer later.

Photo of Mr Thomas Adair Mr Thomas Adair , Glasgow Shettleston

Owing to my ignorance of the procedure followed in this House on Wednesday and Thursday last, I failed, when the Navy Estimates were in Committee, to bring forward several points which I intended to do on Votes A and 1. I should like to call attention in the first place to the extraordinarily small contribution that is made by India and the Union of South Africa towards the naval fund. India—

Photo of Mr James Lowther Mr James Lowther , Penrith and Cockermouth

That is not the question we are now discussing. The question is "That 136,000 officers, seamen and boys, coastguard, and royal marines be employed," and so on. The hon. and gallant Gentleman must limit himself to that.

Photo of Mr Carlyon Bellairs Mr Carlyon Bellairs , Maidstone

It is some atonement for the statement of the First Lord being thrust into the dinner hour the other evening that we get this Vote on its Report stage at the beginning of our proceedings to-day. The only opposition that my right hon. Friend encountered, except from suspicious people in regard to the Air Force, was from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Molton (Mr. Lambert). He said nice things about Lord Fisher, and Lord Fisher is in the habit of saying nice things about the right hon. Gentleman. Just before he made his speech the other evening Lord Fisher wrote one of his regular letters to "The Times." In this letter, on 16th March, dealing with these Estimates, Lord Fisher gave his opinion. He said: Look also at these Estimates just presented to the House of Commons. A downright scandalous waste of money in nearly every line.

Photo of Mr James Lowther Mr James Lowther , Penrith and Cockermouth

We are talking now, I would remind the hon. and gallant Gentleman, about the number of men to be employed.

Photo of Mr Carlyon Bellairs Mr Carlyon Bellairs , Maidstone

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. Will one be able on the next Vote to raise the question of the general line of policy? It has been, I think, the custom on many occasions to deal with policy on the Report stage of Vote A?

Photo of Mr James Lowther Mr James Lowther , Penrith and Cockermouth

It has never been customary on Report to indulge in a general discussion.

4.0 P.M.

Photo of Mr Carlyon Bellairs Mr Carlyon Bellairs , Maidstone

Then I will deal exclusively with the question of the officers and men. I presume that I can deal with the question of the common entry system. The common entry system has been altered to a large extent. It was a great point of controversy at one time in this House. We have abandoned the scheme with regard to officers of the Marines for some time, and we have now also abandoned it for the other officers to some extent, because we are entering boys directly into the Navy from the public schools 15 per annum, as compared with 120 per annum. I would suggest that the proportion of boys entered from the public schools for midshipmen should be increased, say, to one in four instead of one in eight, because when they get afloat they are liable to feel isolated among the others. As my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Battersea (Viscount Curzon) pointed out when the House was in Committee, the public school entries have been a great success, and they are also economical, because they cost next to nothing to educate. The boy goes to sea one year in a training ship and he then becomes a full-blown midshipman. From that point of view, I urge that the proportion of these boys who come from the public schools should be increased. There is one other question in regard to personnel that I wish to raise now, and there are a number of other questions with regard to economy that I should like to submit to my right hon. Friend in writing.

I wish to raise the question of engine-room artificers and artificer engineers. I suggest that we develop the apprentice system as much as possible. The appretice system has given us a magnificent body of engine-room artificers, and artificer engineers, and has given to the mercantile marine their entire body of engineer officers, who are really Naval Reserve officers. There is no reason why we should not thoroughly trust the engine-room artificer and the artificer engineer. There was a certain amount of distrust of them arising from a dislike of having men in the service belonging to trade unions, but the engine-room artificers have existed since 1868, and during the 52 years of their existence they have proved themselves a magnificent body of men. They have never given any sort of trouble from the fact that they belong to the trade unions. Undoubtedly, at times they have urged their own men not to join the Navy, because they have been dissatisfied with the conditions, but that is a perfectly legitimate weapon, which has been resorted to by the surgeons of the Army, and I believe also by the surgeons of the Navy, at different times. The Admiralty are entirely satisfied with the engine-room artificers, and the artificer engineers. Yet in 1893 they introduced the mechanician as a sort of rival to the engine-room artificer. I submit that the mechanician was a very expensive man to educate. At the time I went into the figures, and he cost about £240, whereas the artificer cost nothing, because he came direct from trading in the working shops of the country into the Navy. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and the Admiralty are offering 44 per cent. to the mechanicians for their discharge, and only 2 per cent. to the engine-room artificers. That shows which is the body of men that they want to keep.

I understand that the Admiralty do not deny that they want more engine-room officers. They have a redundancy of engine-room commanders. If you had more engine-room officers there would be more officers looking for promotion to commanders, whereas if you promote more artificer engineers they will not to the same extent expect promotion to the higher ranks of commanders. I do not exclude them from promotion to the higher ranks, I think, and I have urged in the past, that you should give promotion to the lower deck, but I have always stated that it is no use doing that unless you promote them young. Those who are promoted old do not expect to go much further. You must also promote them young, so that they can look forward to reaching the highest ranks. The same argument applies to engine-room artificers. You want to promote them young if they are ever to reach the higher ranks. At the present time they are not promoted until they are about thirty-two years of age. There is one other point connected directly with personnel. The nucleus crew system, as my right hon. Friend the Member for South Molton knows, was introduced by Lord Fisher about the year 1904. For its special purposes it was one of the best reforms that he introduced, that is, it was one suited to a condition of maintaining absolute readiness for war against Germany. It had the disadvantage that crews lost in training. The men were put into nucleus crews in ships that were not exercised like ships in full commission, and they could not be sent to training ships. It is no longer necessary to be so ready for mobilising against any country as it was in the old days when the German Navy existed. Therefore, I submit that the time has come to consider whether we should not scrap the nucleus crew system and pass these officers and men through the training ships of the Navy. They would thus get much greater benefit than if they remain in nucleus crew ships stopping in harbour.

Photo of Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy , Kingston upon Hull Central

I want, very respectfully, to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty if he will give us some reply to one or two questions raised with regard to personnel on Tuesday. I know it was not his fault that the hour precluded his replying, but I would like to ask him for just a word on these points. Has it been decided to do away with all fees at Dartmouth? This is an important matter in these days of high taxation, when there are so many middle-class people, officers' widows, and so on, who may have sons and who are precluded from putting those sons into the Navy because of the fees. It would be much more democratic and more in line with public opinion if all classes could go into the Navy through Dartmouth simply on merit and without being held up by the question of fees. At the present time we are not getting quite the class in the Navy that we used to get. I have watched this thing for three years. You used to get a class of almost hereditary Service families. They came from the Indian Civil Service, the professional people, and the small landed proprietors, who provided an excellent seminary Now, with the introduction of Osborne and higher fees you have a different class, richer and without that tradition, and men go into the Navy only to get a cachet. They stay in it a few years and then leave. That is bad for the Service Most naval officers have deplored the introduction of this large element of purely money people, and the only thing is to do away with the fees. It would be a wise economy in the long run, because you would get a better selection from the wider field of choice.

I should also like the right hon. Gentleman to tell us why men are required to man quite obsolete vessels. I will only mention the names of ships that at present appear in the Navy List. There is the "Highflyer," East India 17-knot cruiser of the old protected cruiser class, quite useless for modern warfare. She may be a comfortable flagship, but I am quite certain that any Admiral would willingly change her for a fast modern ship, even if she were not quite so well fitted up. A ship like the "Highflyer" is quite useless under modern war conditions. The others are the "Commonwealth," "Carnarvon," "Cumberland," "Glory," and last and least, the "Hussar," in the Mediterranean. I do think in these days, when we should look at every penny that we should spend purely on naval efficiency, and that these sort of ships are luxuries. I fear that there may be a reaction if the public find these things out, and that we may go to the other extreme, and cut down vital services of the Navy. That is the danger of keeping up these sort of ships, and spending money on them. I make this criticism in the most friendly way. I do hope that we have a sound policy in this matter, and also with regard to these sloops of slow speed that are abroad on all foreign stations. One of these sloops, commanded by a friend of mine, was shot to pieces on the West Coast of Ireland by a submarine on the surface. That shows that these ships for fighting purposes are useless.

Photo of Mr James Lowther Mr James Lowther , Penrith and Cockermouth

We are not talking about ships, but men.

Photo of Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy , Kingston upon Hull Central

I suggest, with the greatest respect, that these ships are taking on men. Some of us wished to reduce the figures when the Estimates were discussed in Committee, and the right hon. Gentleman expressed himself puzzled as to what we were dividing on. I am trying to show him now, I hope in a helpful spirit, that men could be saved by paying off these useless ships, and perhaps in some cases employing them in more modern ships.

Photo of Viscount  Curzon Viscount Curzon , Battersea South

The first point I should like to touch on is that of the nucleus crew system. I heard the hon. and gallant member for Maidstone (Commander Bellairs) just now say that possibly the nucleus crew system was one of the best reforms ever instituted Possibly I am the only Member who has actually served in a nucleus crew ship. I do not know about the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy). Perhaps he has served in one, too. I know what is a nucleus crew ship, and I hope, whatever may be our lines of naval policy in the future, that we shall on no account revert to that system. It is bad from the point of view of both officers and men. They get stale, and lose all interest in their work, and in the Service in many cases.

Photo of Mr Carlyon Bellairs Mr Carlyon Bellairs , Maidstone

I proposed its abolition. I merely said that it was suited to the special contingency when the German Navy was in existence.

Photo of Viscount  Curzon Viscount Curzon , Battersea South

I merely wanted, if I could, to reinforce what the hon. and gallant Gentleman has said, and to express the hope that on no account whatever shall we revert to the system of nucleus crew ships. I did address a question to the First Lord with reference to the scrapping policy. I hope that I shall be in order in referring to it here, because it distinctly concerns the number of men to be voted for the Navy. I want to find out what their scrapping policy really is, and what ships will be dispensed with, particularly those of the Dreadnought type. I have seen it stated in the papers that it is proposed to do away with several very important units of the all big gun type while ships of a more inferior class are in commission. I wish to ask the First Lord whether he can give up any definite information on this point because none can be gleaned from the Navy Estimates.

The next subject I wish to raise is that of the number of flag officers flying their flags. I have studied the Navy List and the reserve fleets and I find that we have no less than six admirals flying their flags. Of course they have their staffs, and all that means extra expense. I want to know if, since those admirals were appointed, any of their ships have been to sea, or is it intended that they should go to sea and can they go to sea with the number of men they have on board. I think it is very important to see that there should be no suspicion of jobs being found for senior highly-placed officers in the Navy. I am in favour of those officers being employed, but I would rather see them occupied in real training for war than flying flags in battleships which probably never go outside the dockyard basin. In the February list I see that we have an Egyptian squadron flag officer. I should like to know whether this squadron is still in existence. I also notice that on the Yang-tse we have a commodore. I do not know what ships he has under his command, but I would like to know whether this is a new command or whether it existed before the War, and if not, what are the reasons for such a command at the present moment.

The only other point I wish to raise is the question of the special entry cadets. This is a question of great importance, and it was referred to by the hon. Member for Maidstone (Commander Bellairs). I quite realise that the Admiralty have tried to be very generous to the public schoolboys in giving them fifteen vacancies per annum, but is the First Lord sure that with this programme of fifteen vacancies for special entry cadets it will be sufficient to enable such schools as Harrow, Eton, and so on, to lay down a definite programme. So far as my experience goes, the special entry cadets are drawn from what would be called second-class public schools, and it would not be possible for the greater public schools, such as Harrow, Eton and Winchester, to compete in this direction. Therefore, I hope the First Lord, so far from confining himself to fifteen entries, will increase the number of vacancies offered to special entry cadets, because they are a class who are animated by a love of the service. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to give me an answer to these questions.

Photo of Sir Clement Kinloch-Cooke Sir Clement Kinloch-Cooke , Plymouth, Devonport

I only wish to raise two or three points. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in the home ports in certain naval establishments the ratings employed get a food allowance? Hitherto the same food allowance has been given to officers as well.

Photo of Mr James Lowther Mr James Lowther , Penrith and Cockermouth

I would remind the hon. and gallant Gentleman that we are now dealing with the number of men. Questions affecting pay and allowances come on the next Vote.

Photo of Mr George Lambert Mr George Lambert , South Molton

Before my right hon. Friend replies to the questions which have been asked, I would like to put a question. I do not propose to repeat the criticisms which I made last week, but I would like to ask a question affecting the number of men necessary for the upkeep of the Royal Navy. It was reported quite recently that Canada proposes to cut adrift from the naval defence of the Empire. Lord Jellicoe has gone round to various sister nations and has prepared a very valuable Report for the common defence of the Empire, and anything from him would be entitled to the very respectful consideration of this House and the country. For these reasons I would like to know whether the First Lord can give the Information I ask for as to whether it is true that Canada has decided to close down two dockyards, and whether she has refused the offer of two warships which the British Admiralty propose to offer to Canada, If my right hon. Friend will answer those questions it will afford satisfaction to the House.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel John Moore-Brabazon Lieut-Colonel John Moore-Brabazon , Rochester Chatham

The question of the abolition of the submarine has already been referred to. I know we cannot actually discuss that subject, but we can discuss the number of men who consequently would be released if the submarine could go. The submarine service in peace time has no merit at all. It is no use, and even in war time it requires an enormous personnel. It is one of the most difficult of all weapons to defeat, and the high skill required renders it one of the most expensive of our Ser- vices. In the Notes on Naval Policy issued by the Admiralty they say that during the War, on the British side, the enemy submarines in no way interfered with the movement of capital ships in carrying out naval operations and tactical movements. We are employing a large number of men to deal with the, submarine, and I would like to ask the First Lord whether he can see his way to getting this question put before some high authority, like the League of Nations, to see if we cannot do away altogether with this weapon of war. I can quite understand that no recommendation could come from one Department of the Admiralty to do away with itself, but I am sure from the point of view of economy and humanity the less we see of the submarine the better.

Photo of Mr Walter Long Mr Walter Long , Westminster St George's

The hon. Member for Central Portsmouth (Sir T. Bramsdon) asked a question about the fore and aft new uniform for the petty officers of the Navy. The only answer I can give is that we have to put to the Treasury a great many questions involving expenditure, and all we can expect to do, with due regard to economy, is to get such concessions as apply generally to the whole Service, and we cannot get all we want in any particular direction. I have great sympathy with the views expressed by the hon. Member, and as he tells me that he has received a very general expression of opinion from the men of the Navy that they would like this concession to go further, I will consider it; but I hope he will realise that I always have the financial difficulty before me. It is no use telling me one day that I must cut down expenses and be economical and the next day urge upon me all sorts of different suggestions which mean the expenditure of more money. All we can do is to recommend to the Government what we believe to be wise reform. This is all we can get, and I say that, in my opinion, I have no right to complain of the action of the Treasury, because, on the whole, they have treated us with great liberality, and they realise that what is being done is in the general interests of the Service.

Photo of Sir Thomas Bramsdon Sir Thomas Bramsdon , Portsmouth Central

Will the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to inquire what the expense has been in this connection?

Photo of Mr Walter Long Mr Walter Long , Westminster St George's

It is a very old story, but I will inquire into it. The hon. Member for Maidstone (Commander Bellairs) referred to common entry, and he advocates that the number of 15 public schoolboys should be increased. My hon. Friend may rest assured that he can have no warmer advocate of that system than myself, because I am an old public schoolboy. Probably the best officers we have were taught in the public schools, and I believe they send us recruits of the greatest value to any service that is willing to receive them. At the present time we are very limited in the number of entries we can offer each year. We have Osborne and Dartmouth, which we are now going to combine into one naval college, and it is to this institution that the sons of old service men and the sons of ex-naval men mainly go. It has been urged that we should abolish special entries at Dartmouth altogether and so make the opportunities equal for all. I think my hon. and gallant Friend has overlooked one elementary fact. Dartmouth and Osborne are not elementary schools. Boys who come there have had to go through their groundwork of education for several years before, and the real difficulty in equalising the chances for all to enter the Navy, a thing we all desire, consists not in their entry at Dartmouth, but in their opportunities for preliminary education before they come up for examination for cadetships.

Photo of Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy , Kingston upon Hull Central

I understand the age of entry is going to remain at 13½.

Photo of Mr Walter Long Mr Walter Long , Westminster St George's

For Osborne and Dartmouth, yes.

Photo of Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy , Kingston upon Hull Central

Our Education Act when it is in working order will provide a very good education up to the age of 14, and so the best boys will get the best chance

Photo of Mr Walter Long Mr Walter Long , Westminster St George's

It is a question as between 13½ and 14. There is only six months difference between my hon. and gallant Friend and myself. But the real difficulty is not in the education given at 13½ It is in the education given between the ages of 5 and 13½ and it is not only in the school alone. It has to do with the home surroundings of the boy during his earlier years. Those surroundings will help him to be a better competitor for entry at Dartmouth if he has also the advantage of a good elementary school. My hon. and gallant Friend further suggested that fees should be abolished. But would that be fair to the rest of the community? At present, I believe, there is not in the world a better or cheaper education than the boys get now at Osborne and Dartmouth, and as it will be in the future at the combined college at Dartmouth. The cost is extraordinarily low. You are asking the Treasury to pay the difference. May I point out that at present the difficulty is not in getting cadets, but in finding openings for those who want to be cadets. I have every sympathy with the case put forward by my hon. and gallant Friend. A man must indeed have a stony heart if he has no sympathy with those who have served their country, who have died in the service of their country, and have left behind widows and children for whoso future but very slender provision has been made. If anything can be done to improve their position I certainly will most gladly do all in my power. But I am afraid I cannot hold out any prospect of abolishing the fees in this case, nor do I think it would be fair to the community as a whole. Neither is it called for by existing conditions. If we want to attain the object which my hon. and gallant Friend has in view, namely, the equalisation of chances for all boys of every class coming into the Navy, we must look in another direction. We must look to scholarships or to some other way to make it easier for them to get into the Naval College. That subject in all its branches is being carefully examined by the Admiralty. There is no body more anxious or more industrious in labouring at the question than the Lords of the Admiralty, who are representative of the service and who are the outcome of the existing system. They are as anxious as any civilians are that some solution should be found.

The next suggestion from the Member for Maidstone was that we should develop the apprenticeship system in connection with our engineers, and that there should be more promotion from the lower grades. As regards the apprenticeship system, I cannot say much. This is the first time it has been suggested to me, and my hon. and gallant Friend will realise at once that in this, as in many other instances, the laws and conditions which govern the labour world have a very close bearing on it. It will be necessary for me to consult with those specially responsible for this branch of Admiralty work before I say anything either for or against the suggestion. I will, however, promise to look into it. With regard to nucleus crews, as far as they go, we have to some extent no doubt abandoned the system. I should not like to speak very definitely on the subject, for my experience has been very short. But I think the chief difficulty arises from the fact that the modern ship is a much more complicated machine than the old ship, and so it is practically impossible to keep her clean and in order with a nucleus crew. The crews that we have now got are reduced crews—three-fifths crews—and we hope with these it may be possible—and indeed officers in command have told me that it is—to keep the vessels efficient. My Noble Friend, the Member for Battersea (Viscount Curzon), asked as to the position of these ships and whether they could go to sea. Of course, they can go to sea if we can man them by placing men on board for the purpose from other ships. The plan is being considered by the Commander-in-Chief of the Reserve. On the other hand, it must be realised that the object of the Board of Admiralty has been to provide for the country a fleet which is sufficient for our needs and efficient as well. In order to do that, we cannot have more than a certain number of ships in full commission. Between those in full commission and those that are scrapped there must be some system analogous to that of the nucleus cruiser. We have improved on that by the three-fifths crew and also by the system of smaller commands. The Admiral Commanding-in-Chief can co-ordinate the commands in the various home ports and can arrange at times to man special ships and send them to sea.

Photo of Viscount  Curzon Viscount Curzon , Battersea South

Are we to understand that all the ships in the Reserve have three-fifths crews?

Photo of Mr Walter Long Mr Walter Long , Westminster St George's

My Noble Friend expects me to be encyclopædic. It is, of course, impossible for me to answer such a question offhand, but I can ascertain the facts if he desires. As far as I know, every ship in the Reserve has such a crew. My Noble Friend went on to talk about flag officers. I want to say at once that I heard with regret—with profound regret— his remarks on that subject. He is a young Member of the House, and I hope he will not take what I am going to say in bad part. He talked about the desirability of leaving no suspicion of a job. There is no suspicion of that kind except it may be in the Noble Lord's own mind. He is the only person who has ever suggested, either in or out of the House, that the appointment and selection of nags in the fleet is in any way the matter of a job. It is nothing of the kind. We have our Reserve Fleet scattered among the home ports. We have a Commander-in-Chief. The appointment of flag officers to-day has nothing on earth to do with any question of a job. It has been most carefully considered by my naval adviser, and flag officers have been appointed because it is believed they are essential for the proper control and training of the Reserve, and because the principle on which we have tried to proceed in regard to the fleet, in regard to the dockyards, in regard to building, in regard to provisions and stores, and general equipment, has been to cut everything down to what is the absolute point of safety for the present, but bearing in mind so to make our arrangements that rapid expansion will be possible at any time. My Noble Friend will see that the appointment of flag officers is essential to this policy of expansion. If my Noble Friend suggested that these flag officers should be superseded, I would be prepared to come down here and defend their retention in their present appointment, even if I could not justify it on higher grounds. But I do say to this House that the Fleet for five years has done magnificent service, and without it this War could not have been won. The work done by many of these flag officers, of whose appointment my hon. Friend complains, has been work of a strenuous and most laborious kind, and I think they are entitled to have their case considered before they are got rid of. There is no alternative between the policy advocated by the Noble Lord and the Admiralty policy. There is no half-way. You must either get rid of them altogether or keep them in the appointments they now fill. If they are superfluous they should not be kept there. But I can assure my Noble Friend that every one of these appointments has been most carefully considered by the Board of Admiralty, and we have now a Navy as, we believe, well arranged, so that we have got our post-War Fleet—the numbers of it are stated in the White Paper—and our Reserve, I do not think to-day we have one Admiral down to his junior Rear-Admiral in the whole Fleet more than we require, if we are to keep our Navy properly trained and to have it ready, as it should be, for expansion to war strength. Then there is the question of the command in Egypt. I believe that has just been terminated. There is the Yentze command. That, of course, is a question of river and small craft entirely. At present I think it is under a Commodore, but I believe in future it is to be under a Rear-Admiral. I am not quite sure, however, if a definite decision has been come to on that point.

With regard to the question put by my hon. and gallant Friend with regard to the "Highflyer" and certain other ships which he described as obsolete, I may say at once that the "Highflyer" is to be replaced as soon as we can conveniently do it by a modern ship. Our object is, of course, to make the best use of the material at our disposal so long as we can usefully employ it, and replace it when required by more modem ships as soon as we have them available. I quite agree with the Noble Lord's criticism on that point. Then my right hon. Friend, the Member for South Molton (Mr. Lambert), asked about certain rumours relevant to Canada. We have no information at all. They have not certainly declined our offer. On the contrary, I was under the impression that they had practically accepted it, although the arrangements had not been completed. We know nothing of the policy of putting down two dockyards, which has been mentioned in the newspapers, but of course we shall ask through the usual channels for such information as we can get. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the work done by Lord Jellicoe. I cordially re-echo his statement as to the immense value of Lord Jellicoe's services in this particular connection and during his most distinguished career, and I hope that out of his most laborious cruise great good will come to the Empire. I firmly believe—and I rest now more on my experience at the Colonial Office than at the Admiralty—that those matters depend rather upon conferences here than upon any attempt at their solution by correspondence between the Admiralty and the Colonial Office. I hope myself that the time will come, and will come very soon, when there will be co-operation in those matters between the Dominions and the United Kingdom.

My hon. and gallant Friend, the Member for Rochester (Lieut.-Colonel Moore Brabazon), asked about submarines, and he showed by his remarks that he shared the view that the Admiralty is a very conservative place, and indicated that he thought we should not suggest that the submarine ought to be abandoned. In this instance he is really doing the Admiralty an injustice. We have never concealed our views that the submarine is a horrible form of naval warfare, and, as far as we are concerned, nothing would give us greater pleasure than that it should be turned down, if that is practically possible. Personally I have grave doubts whether that is possible. It is a subject which was fully discussed at the Peace Conference, and we twice put our views before the Conference. Of course, it must be remembered that it is much easier for small and poor countries to protect themselves by having submarines than by having big battleships or cruisers, or even light cruisers. Therefore, the submarine is a very attractive form of naval protection for countries that cannot afford large and expensive fleets. It really is a question for the small countries rather than for the big, but, beyond that, the question of practical politics comes in. It was urged in the early days, when this was being discussed, that, while a country might build a submarine, that would not matter, because she could not possibly train a crew, and a submarine without a trained crew would be of little use. I am afraid, however, that that is not altogether confirmed. The House will remember that there was a stage in the War when people at the Admiralty, and elsewhere, believed that the vehemence of the German submarine attack would rapidly peter out, because they would not be able to get crows to man the vessels. That did not turn out to be justified by events. They were able to got the men, and, by putting double crews on board, were able to train them quickly. I do not believe it would be practicable to prevent a country from having submarines, if they meant to do so, without the cognisance of those who are responsible for maintaining the conditions under the League of Nations or the Treaty of Peace. No blame, however, attaches to the Admiralty in the matter. We have put our cards on the table, and should rejoice if it were possible to abolish this form of warfare. As I have said, it raises the question of the position of the smaller countries, who are entitled to be considered, and it also raises the practical question whether it could be enforced. I think I have answered all the questions that have been put to me, and I should like now to take the opportunity of expressing to the House my warm thanks for the generous and friendly way in which, on the previous occasion and to-day, in all quarters, the proposals of the Admiralty for the Navy of the future have been received by the House of Commons.

Photo of Captain William Benn Captain William Benn , Leith

I venture to make one comment on that part of the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman relating to the entry of naval officers. I think some of us heard with some disappointment of the difficulties with which the Admiralty found themselves confronted. One of the things which pleased so many people about the Selborne scheme was that it appeared to make it possible for boys of all means and of all classes to enter and train as officers for the Navy. The right hon. Gentleman said that the boys would have to be trained before they arrived at the point of admission, and he held out no hope of its being possible to remit the fees when they were being trained. I venture to say that that really closes the door on a perfectly free democratic entry for training as officers in the Navy. As the right hon. Gentleman said, when a candidate presents himself for entry into the new College, he is met, first of all, by the difficulty that his training in a public elementary school, if he has been trained there, and his surroundings have not fitted him in the peculiar way which is considered to be necessary. In addition to that, he is met by the difficulty that his parents cannot afford to pay the sum required for his training at Dartmouth, and so you have a double bar against a perfectly free choice from all classes of the community. Of course, I know there are some remissions, but I think many of us feel that it is very disappointing for two reasons. The first is that we believe that the Navy should be on a democratic basis in the interests of all the people. If the officers are drawn from all classes of the people, it is a great safeguard for the Navy itself, because it means that every class has a direct interest in its affairs, which are so essential for our safety. The second reason is really the more important. Unless you have a perfectly free choice among all classes, you will not get the advantage of the best brains of the country among the officers of the Navy. Many distinguished ornaments of the Navy have come from the most unexpected quarters, and have often been trained at very great sacrifice on the part of their parents. I urge that the inquiries to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, as to the means by which it may be ensured that the choice of officers to be trained for the Navy shall be of the widest possible kind, should be prosecuted with vigour and, we hope, in the end, with success.

Question proposed, "That the House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."

Photo of Sir Clement Kinloch-Cooke Sir Clement Kinloch-Cooke , Plymouth, Devonport

There is only one point to which I want to refer, and I do not want to press the First Lord for an answer now, because I am guilty of not giving him sufficient notice. I should like to bring forward again the point which I raised the other night, namely, the question of the food allowance. For a long time the same allowance has been given to officers as to men, but, I think in April last, a difference was made, and the officers' allowance was raised to 5s., but the men's allowance remained at something like 2s. 6d. I think the House will agree that the same is necessary to feed a man as to feed an officer, and, therefore, I would ask the First Lord if he will take into consideration the view which I have ventured to put forward, and see if some amendment cannot be made in this regulation, so that, as far as the food allowance goes, officers and men may be placed on the same footing.

Photo of Mr Thomas Adair Mr Thomas Adair , Glasgow Shettleston

The contribution towards the crews kept in Indian waters by India is £28,000, and that of the Union of South Africa only £18,000. The whole of the contribution of that vast and rich territory of India is only £100,000, and the Navy are supposed to find all that is necessary in men and in ships for maintaining and guarding the interests of India, which extend from Suez to Osaka. The Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean, are all full of Indian trade, and the interests of India are absolutely bound up with the Navy and the men belonging to it. The same is true of the Union of South Africa; their interests are bound up with the Navy and the men in it. In both cases what they contribute towards every item in the Navy is, I think, absolutely inadequate, and compares most unfavourably with what that other great Dominion, Australia, pays for her part in the Navy.

I mention this with a particular object, namely, to suggest to the First Lord a means of raising a little more money for adding to the salaries of officers and men serving in the Navy. There is the question of Income Tax deducted from the salaries of officers. This point was raised the other night by the Noble Lord the Member for Battersea (Viscount Curzon), and I am bound to say I think the Admiralty are not treating the naval officers quite fairly in this respect. In both the Jerram and the Halsey Reports emphasis was laid on the fact that, if the civil rate of Income Tax was to be deducted from their new rates of pay, those rates of pay were inadequate. That was a year ago or more. The cost of living has gone up considerably since then, and if it was necessary to raise the salaries of officers to meet the full rate of Income Tax a year ago, much more is it necessary now. I beg the First Lord to give this matter his further consideration, with a view to improving the salaries to the extent of the difference between the civil rate and the Service rate. I do not think it would require a very large sum, and I have suggested to him how he may find the necessary money for it.

5.0 P.M.

In the memorandum which accompanied the First Lord's statement, stress was laid on the fact that the whole efficiency of the Service depends on its personnel, and upon the contentment of that personnel. There is much cause for want of contentment—I will not say discontent, but want of contentment—on the part of the younger officers, and especially those who are married. I would far sooner see a contented few naval officers than a discontented large number, and if there is any occasion to reduce numbers in what I am about to suggest I suggest that they should be reduced. I referred the other night to the giving of separation allow- ances to young married officers who are 30 years of age up to the time when their service salary reached £1,000, that is to say up to Lieut.-Commander, and I suggested certain sums, 3s. 6d., 2s. 6d., 1s. ed., and so on, increasing the pay to a total of 8s. 6d., which is exactly the same as is given to the naval officer's brother in the Army of equal rank. The whole basis of pay is responsibility. If it went by age we might have the Parliamentary Secretary making more than the First Lord, and I do not think that would be right. Age is not the standard to go by when salaries are fixed. Therefore a major in the Army, who gets approximately £580, is rightly paid the same as a Lieut.-Commander in the Navy of equal rank and therefore equal responsibility. But the poor naval officer does not get the £155 a year in addition when he marries as does his brother in the Army. This is rather an injustice. I am quite aware of the arguments against it as to economy, but I have suggested two methods of obtaining the money. The first is a bigger contribution from those huge Dominions, which are paying most inadequately for what they get, and, secondly, by reducing numbers rather than have a not wholly contented personnel. I am not introducing any new form of payment in this because every man on the lower deck who is married gets a separation allowance. Why, then, should not the officer do the same? A married petty officer in a submarine is actually getting more daily wage than a warrant officer in the same ship. The gunner in a submarine is getting 19s. a day, whereas the next subordinate chief petty officer is getting 19s. 7d. or thereabouts. That is not quite a proper state of affairs, I would ask the First Lord to give this his most serious consideration, and not to compare the naval officer with the civil servant, as he did the other night. Service in the Navy is very different from the civil service, though I quite agree that is most ardous, and has been during the War, but it is totally different from the case of the naval officer, who is always on a war footing and sees very little of his wife and family.

Photo of Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy , Kingston upon Hull Central

I wish to reinforce what my hon. and gallant Friend has said. Unless something is done for the married officer in the Navy on the lines of what has been done for the married officer in the Army, you are going to get some of your best petty officers refusing to take commissions when they are married, because it will mean such hardship for their wives. I am talking of young warrant officers and petty officers. I know actual cases of men I have served with and have seen recently. They are better off as married petty officers. They are the cream of the Navy and they will not take commissioned rank because they will be so badly off. It is all right for the bachelor. As long as he remains unmarried he is all right. When I and my hon. and gallant Friend went to sea we were told that the naval officer had no business to get married, and a great many captains would not take a married commander, and certainly would not take a married first lieutenant. Thanks to the submarine and destroyer services coming in and younger officers being in command, and there being therefore more openings for a married man through going into submarine and destroyer service, that rule gradually got broken down, and in the last ten years a number of young naval officers have been getting married out of all proportion to what they did a few years ago. That is a not undesirable state of affairs, especially when we are faced, as we are at present, with a tremendous surplus of girls, who have a very small chance of getting married, and here are men who have to pass a very severe physical test and who belong to a very honourable service, and as things are they are simply precluded from marrying, not by this old service rule that obtained a few years ago, but simply by the impossibility of marrying on their low pay.

The married military officer gets a very substantial allowance, totally 8s. 6d. a day for lodging, food and furniture, which comes to £155 a year. That is a great help to him. Why is the naval officer not treated equally? His case is worse than that of his brother in the Army, who is usually settled in one place, lives in married quarters, and is often not even a dining member of the mess. But a naval officer has to keep up his ship and to have a second establishment at home, where he spends precious little time. He may be doing his three or four years abroad. If a military officer is considered worthy of this allowance, I certainly think the naval officer is even more so, and I hope the First Lord will give us some satisfaction on this point, because many cases are simply tragic. Young married officers in the Navy are in debt and do not know what to do. The First Sea Lord has taken the matter up, and it is recognised throughout the Service that the case of these young married officers is extremely serious, and the case of the man who is promoted from the ranks for excellent service deserves special consideration. It is not very much to ask. The cry is for economy, but if you are going to economise at the cost of the wives and families of these men, on whom so much depends, that is a very false economy. It can be saved in many other directions which are not so worthy.

I hope we read aright what the Financial Secretary to the Admiralty said in the last Debate with reference to the pay of naval schoolmasters, which gave a great deal of satisfaction to those who have interested themselves in the matter. He said: We have pressed for the grant to the schoolmaster branch of pay proposed by the Jerram and Halsey Committees. We have modified them slightly but not seriously and they have now been agreed. I am very glad indeed to be able to say so. I hope the modifications are not serious, because an extraordinarily bad impression has been created afloat at the long delay in granting the increase of pay to the schoolmasters. I hope it will be made soon and will be retrospective and generous, and that we may take literally what the Financial Secretary said. I must mention again the extraordinarily hard case of the old naval pensioner. I hope the door is not finally closed. I am sure I have the support of everyone who knows the case of these old men, and I am sorry I cannot elaborate the real injustice which is now being done.

Photo of Mr Walter Long Mr Walter Long , Westminster St George's

The hon. and gallant Gentleman (Rear-Admiral Adair) rebuked me for having drawn a comparison between the Civil Service and the Navy. I assure him I did nothing of the kind. I have always maintained that service in the Navy stands quite by itself. A sailor who goes for a cruise is exposed to work and to risks which the ordinary civil servant or soldier is not exposed to. In deciding upon the new rate of pay this was really taken into consideration. I was not comparing the civil servant with the sailor. What I said was that the hardship of these conditions is due to the increased cost of living. If the rates of pay had been brought up to what they are now under normal conditions of cost of living they would generally be recognised as satisfactory and would have enabled everyone to provide satisfactorily for his ordinary mode of living. Of course, we are faced with abnormal conditions. We know that a sense of gratitude is much more a sense of favours to come than of favours received, but we really thought we had done well for the Navy. When you pay an officer partly by pay and partly by allowances, the allowances are open to revision and abolition, whereas we have no case on record, and I do not think we are ever likely to come across one, where the pay of a rank, once raised, is going to be reduced. Allowances are only temporary, whereas the pay is permanent. My hon. and gallant Friend said we had no right to take age as the criterion. We have not done that. We took age and rank. I have got a long list of officers in the two services, and if you take age and rank, not either alone, the position of the naval officer has been materially improved more than that of the Army officer. What I pointed out the other day is not that there is any comparison to be made, but we have this extraordinary position in existence at present, that you have among all ranks with fixed incomes a tremendous battle to live. The same thing applies to pensioners. There is no comparison between the Navy pensioner and any other pensioner in respect of the services rendered, but you cannot consider these questions by themselves.

If we were to undertake to approach the Treasury for reconsideration of the question of naval pensions, you would have the whole question raised as regards the Army and all other services. Therefore, there is no good in asking the Navy to deal with this by itself. I appreciate fully the hardships which many gallant officers are suffering, but honestly I do not think that in the present state of things there is any prospect of dealing with this question. It would mean opening up, not merely the Navy, but all the services concerned, both civilian and military, and it would mean an enormous addition to our expenditure. My hon. and gallant Friend has suggested to me that by getting the Dominions, especially India, to gives larger contributions, much good might be done. That is a very valuable suggestion. It does not rest with us, but it is a question for discussion at the Imperial Conference. I hope that at the next Imperial Conference, when we are considering the relations between the Overseas Dominions, including India and the Mother Country, the amount of contribution cither in kind or in cash, will form the most important subject for discussion. I am sure that it will be approached in a most friendly way. My hon. Friend behind asked about the officer's expenses compared with the men's allowances. Of course, the officers' expenses are much heavier than the men's, and this was considered when the money was allotted, but whether the money paid to the men is adequate or not is under consideration. At present I cannot say more. I think I have answered all the points that have been raised. I am sorry that my answers are not more satisfactory, but the situation is very difficult, and is rendered more difficult by the present condition of things, but I can honestly assure my hon. and gallant Friend that the Board of Admiralty are profoundly desirous of doing what they regard as their simple duty.