Wages, etc., of Officers, Seamen, and Boys, Coast Guard, and Royal Marines.

Orders of the Day — Navy Estimates, 1922–23. – in the House of Commons on 23rd May 1922.

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Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £12,926,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Expense of Wages, etc., of Officers, Seamen, and Boys, Coast Guard, and Royal Marines, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1923, in addition to a sum of £2,930,000 to be allocated for this purpose from the sum of £12,000,000 voted on account of Navy Services generally.

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

This is the. Vote for wages and personnel, and I may say at once that, of course, I am not making any sort of suggestion that the wages of the personnel of the Navy should be reduced. I would here like to put in a caveat to the Geddes Committee's report on economy. I would suggest that to put together the lodging and the fuel allowances and count them as wages of the officers without taking into account the fact that the officers and men of the Navy have got to keep up a home on shore as well as a home on board ship; to compare these wages with those of civil servants is simply absurd and ridiculous. One of the points not remembered in appraising the wages of the officers and men of the Royal Navy is the fact that they have to keep up a home on board ship and to provide for their families, very often miles away from the home base of their ships, and then they have, in addition, travelling expenses. My criticisms, therefore, are not in any way directed towards the very meagre pay, as I still consider it, of the officers and men of the Fleet.

Might I on this Vote ask for some further details of the proposals of the Admiralty for reducing the personnel? That it must be reduced is obvious, owing to the various circumstances with which we are well acquainted. Obviously, too, many proficient and excellent officers and many gallant and trustworthy men will have to be retrenched. We have a right, I think, to say to the Admiralty that the officers who are to go must be treated fairly. I should like to draw the attention of the Committee in connection with this to the proposals of the Admiralty as to retiring officers on the reports made by their captains, and in particular to that extraordinary order about officers who will have to be retired compulsorily owing to peculiarities of temper. [A laugh.] It may be a matter of amusement to many people and to those who do not happen to be among the officers to be picked out. But it must be remembered that these are officers against whom no charge of misconduct has been brought; because, however, of some alleged peculiarity of temper they have to go. I am afraid that in some cases there may be a danger that officers who are a little out of the ordinary, and who are rather blessed with too much initiative, may get at logger-heads with their superiors on perfectly honest differences of opinion—may be picked out while in reality they are very valuable officers indeed. If at any time they get an adverse report they will be compulsorily retired, lose in a pecuniary sense, and get their actual career cut short. This is a right of the Admiralty which should be hedged about by safeguards, which have always in the past existed for naval officers. There has always been the safeguard of a court-martial so that an officer might be tried by his peers. Now that the Admiralty claim absolutely autocratic power to say that this or that man is unsuitable by reason of peculiarities of temper—whatever that may mean—the man should have the right of appeal. This power to clear a mean out of the Service is an autocratic power which no Government Department ought to have. I would ask the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Amery) to explain what is the exact procedure in this matter?

In answer to a question he has stated that the report of one captain will not be sufficient to enable the Admiralty to dispense with an officer. But is there going to be an appeal of any sort? Will the officer concerned have any warning before being cleared out of the Service? Will he be given the opportunity to see the report on which the decision of the Admiralty is based? This is a matter of vital importance. So long as officers have this threat hanging over their heads they will be unsettled and uncertain and will not be able to do their best for the Service. I am reminded that the War Office have this power, but it is no sort of defence to say that the War Office have this power. They have this power to clear a man out on adverse reports, and I believe I am not far wrong in saying there have been many cases in which these powers have been used by the War Office in an unfair manner.

The CHAIRMAN:

I am rather doubtful how far the observations of the hon. and gallant Gentleman are relevant to this Vote. So far as the retirement of officers is concerned, and analogous circumstances, they come, I think, on subsequent Votes if the hon. and gallant Gentleman is dealing with the general policy of the Admiralty. That must come on Vote 12, but must not go further. I am unwilling to stop the hon. and gallant Member, but I am doubtful about him raising that on this Vote.

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

My point is, Mr. Hope, that this is a Vote for wages, the total of which the Admiralty propose to cut down, and there will be many officers and men less by exercising these powers of getting rid of the officers automatically. I am asking for details and not for an explanation of policy at all. However, I have finished my questions which were only to request that some further details might be given that would enable us to see how things lie.

The CHAIRMAN:

That will come on the next Vote.

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

I just want to ask another question as to the number of officers, and I wish particularly to ask how it is that, when we are retrenching officers and men at one end of the scale—when we are cutting down the personnel of the Navy—that actually we have more seamen and boys in training for the Navy this year than we had last year? Last year we had 3,500 seamen and boys in training. This year we had 4,393. Yet we are cutting down personnel! I have always done my best, I hope, to fight for the rights of the men and officers of the Service who are being retrenched, and to see that they get decent treatment, but to bring in these young lads in such excessive numbers seems to me to be an extraordinary policy. Here we are with more men than the Navy needs! They are having to be cut down, yet we have more than 1,000 boys in training than last year. It is very extraordinary. We are getting rid of excellent men against whom nothing is alleged, men who are perfectly efficient and well trained, yet we are training more boys than ever? What is to be their fate in a couple of years' time when they have become ordinary seamen? Will the Admiralty get rid of them in order to cut down the personnel?

What applies to the boys applies also to the cadets. The figures are given on page 13 of the Estimates, where it will he seen that we are training no less than 506 naval cadets at a time when something like 1,400 of these ranks have been got rid of. [An HON. MEMBER: "Eighteen hundred!"] Eighteen hundred executive officers, including young fellows about 23 and 24. A young friend of mine has just got his orders, having just finished his first commission as a lieutenant. He is going, yet we are training 506 naval cadets. Last year we trained, it is true 624. There is a reduction, but I question very much whether this number of cadets is required. When I was in the Britannia 20 years ago we had only 240 cadets. We have now twice as many cadets being trained to-day after the Great War in which our Navy stands supreme, and is paying the penalty of having to be cut down. I am afraid many of these cadets will not get very far in their naval career, for they will have to be cut down because of a swollen personnel. It is exceedingly bad economy. It would be much better to reduce the recruiting of the boys and to cut down the entries of cadets, and live upon the personnel you have now trained, which is efficient, ready, and have had experience in the Great War. You have an excessive body of young fellows. They can go on as lieutenants, lieutenant-commanders and commanders for some years. It is very false economy to get rid of these trained seamen, but that is what is being done! It is a mistake to spend much money on the training of schoolboys and passing them into the service in which promotion will be blocked, and many of them may have to be compulsorily retired. I am afraid that in the whole matter there has not been very much co-ordination—that blessed word. Co-ordination has not been properly exercised. One Department of the Admiralty seems to have taken every sort of means to clear the Navy lists of officers and to get rid of blue-jackets, stokers, and marines, while another Department have been busy entering them in greater numbers than last year. Some explanation of this is required. I do not propose to move a reduction of the Vote, but I would ask the hon. Gentleman opposite for some explanation of this extraordinary state of things.

Photo of Mr Donald Maclean Mr Donald Maclean , Peebles and Southern

Perhaps it would be convenient to my hon. Friend opposite if I put one or two questions. What I specially wish to draw the attention of the Committee to is the recommendation of the Geddes Committee in regard to the home commands, and to acknowledge the partial application by the Government of that recommendation. It might interest the Committee if I very briefly indicate what the Committee recommended. The Committee says: We are by no means satisfied that for all practical purposes the whole command ashore in this country could not be exercised by one Commander-in-Chief, and we suggest that there should be a special investigation upon this point, especially having regard to the reductions in personnel recommended. Then they go on to say: We do recognise"— as we all do— that the popularity of a Service requires a few positions of dignity"— in the way of persons in attendance on them. But they point out at the end of this particular paragraph: Roughly a staff of about 20 officers costing £17,000 per annum has a retinue costing slightly more to wait upon it. We suggest that an economy in such a matter 'at the top of the Service'"— and I would direct especially the attention of the Committee to this— would set an example for similar economies elsewhere Then if hon. Members will turn to the Appendix (F. 1)—page 45—they will see what the authorised retinues are. The list is an amazing one. It starts with the Chief of Staff and goes down through the maintenance captain, war-staff officer, and so on, to the chief or first writer, second writer, and petty officer (coxswain)—a total staff of 123. What I should like to ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman particularly is this, that while he has abolished the Scottish command and also the Western approaches command there are three left. Naturally he has begun at, the bottom and abolished the two smaller commands. What I want to know is whether in the retinues of the commands which are left he has made many cuts and what reductions, if any, are made in the commands which are left in the way of numbers or of pay. I should imagine that what might be necessary or indeed useful in war time, or when there is a danger of war, is not a necessary retinue in times of peace. To what extent have these retinues been reduced since the War, and what reductions, if any, have been made since the recommendations of the Geddes Committee? I should also like to know what reductions the hon. and gallant Gentleman proposes to make in the immediate future.

Photo of Mr Bertram Falle Mr Bertram Falle , Portsmouth North

I beg to move, that Item II (Marriage Allowance) be reduced by £100.

I do so in order to call attention to the failure of the Admiralty to make any allowance for married officers. The officers of the Army, the non-commissioned officers of the Army, and the officers of the Air Force all receive a marriage allowance. All the men of the Fleet receive a marriage allowance, and the only officers in the three great forces who do not receive a marriage allowance are the officers of the senior Service. It is on these officers that the prosperity of the Navy and the safety and security of this country is based, and I do not think it requires more than a mere statement of the fact to show this injustice.

I believe it is a fact that the Admiralty did propose to put into the Vote an amount necessary to provide a marriage allowance in the Navy, but more powerful people were at work, and the Treasury cut down the scheme. I want to emphasise and make it clear to the Admiralty that, although this House does not wish to increase in any possible way expenditure on unnecessary subjects, it realises that when the officers of all other Services are receiving this allowance, it is unfair to the officers of the senior rank to be the only officers not in receipt of this allowance.

Photo of Mr Thomas Adair Mr Thomas Adair , Glasgow Shettleston

I wish to say that this phrase, "Retinue of the Commander-in-Chief," is exceedingly misleading.

The CHAIRMAN:

As this Amendment has been moved, the particular point of the marriage allowance must be disposed of before we begin to discuss the Vote as a whole. The hon. and gallant Admiral must confine his speech now to the question of the marriage allowance.

Photo of Mr Thomas Adair Mr Thomas Adair , Glasgow Shettleston

I have been an advocate of this marriage allowance for the last three years, and I have strenuously endeavoured to obtain it for the married officers of the Navy, who, in my opinion, are most unfairly treated as compared with any other branches of the Service. I believe this provision was actually included in this year's Estimates, but that it was afterwards struck out. I think that was a gross piece of injustice, and I must tell the Parliamentary Secretary that I am going to press this matter in the hope of getting this provision put into next year's Estimate.

Photo of Viscount  Curzon Viscount Curzon , Battersea South

I wish to support what the hon. and gallant Member for Plymouth (Sir B. Falle) has said on the subject of the marriage allowance for officers. There are few questions which have really rankled amongst the officers of the Navy so much as this question of the marriage allowance. It is not understood by the officers of the Navy why an officer in the Army and the Air Force should have a marriage allowance while the same is denied to the officers of the Navy. The naval officer has to pay his mess hills on board, and he has also to keep up his home on shore. It is quite true that their pay was raised, but I think the Admiralty realise that their position is very difficult to-day. I feel sure, from such information as I have, that the Admiralty are entirely on the side of these officers, and this proposal has only been turned down in the interests of national economy.

It is true that under the present scheme the scale of pay must be revised in 1924, and it may be that in the present financial state of the country it will not be possible for the Admiralty to grant this long-needed reform, but when 1924 does come, I hope the whole question of naval pay will be gone into, and I can assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman in charge of the Vote that there is no question which presses more upon married officers than this. There are many cases which I could bring to the notice of the Admiralty of the wives of naval officers who are in most difficult and almost desperate circumstances. I do not believe that the Members of this Committee have any idea how difficult it is, owing to the high cost of living, for some of the wives of the naval officers to keep their homes going and provide an education for their children on the pay which their husbands are receiving. I hope we shall receive some explanation from the hon. and gallant Gentleman as to why the recommendations of the Grand Fleet Committee have not been adopted. We want an assurance that at the earliest possible moment this subject will be re-opened, and I hope it is not to be regarded as a book closed definitely and for ever against the naval officers.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery , Birmingham Sparkbrook

I think I might as well answer at once on this question. I can assure the hon. and gallant Admiral and the Noble Lord, who has just spoken, that this is certainly not a closed book, and that we hope as soon as conditions permit to raise again the particular position of the Navy as a whole, and the general question of principle, which underlies the Amendment which has been moved by my hon. Friend, I should like, however, to draw a distinction between the principle of granting a marriage allowance at all, and the question whether officers in the Senior Service are at this moment at a disadvantage as compared with the officers in the other Services which have been referred to. I would remind the Committee that the principle of marriage allowance, of payment to a man not in accordance with the value of his work to the State but in accordance with his domestic needs is a very new one, and new since the War. It was quite strange to the Naval Service before the War.

I must remind the Committee that when this question came up at the end of the War, the Grand Fleet Committee were in favour, as the other Services were, of a marriage allowance. But on this question of giving the marriage allowance, the Halsey Committee, a committee of serving sailors, came to the opposite conclusion, and, supported by the Admiralty of that day, they definitely decided that it was not in the interests of the Naval Service to have pay with a separate marriage allowance, but that the pay should be such as to enable any officer, when he came to the ordinary age for assuming domestic responsibility, to be able on his pay to keep a family, and from that point of view the rates of pay were steepened up very sharply.

Photo of Viscount  Curzon Viscount Curzon , Battersea South

Is the Admiralty still of that opinion?

7.0 P.M.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery , Birmingham Sparkbrook

I will develop that argument later. They then took the view that an inclusive pay was the right one, and the Admiralty of that day agreed on that basis. The Cabinet had to arrive at a fair allotment as between the different services, and they fixed the pay accordingly. Corresponding ages in matters of domestic responsibility are the main test, and when the case of the married naval officer was taken into account he was better off than the corresponding married officer in the military service, and the bachelor naval officers were very much better off. Certain considerations altered that situation within the next few years. One was the increase in the cost of living, in consequence of which the allowance granted to married Army officers went up, but the pay of the Navy did not go up. There was a fresh consideration which, I think, was overlooked at the time at which the Cabinet fixed the pay for the different Services. It was that while the marriage allowance was not subject to Income Tax, the consolidated rate of pay was subject to Income Tax, and in view of the rate of Income Tax the naval officer therefore was some what worse off. When I dealt with this matter last summer I made it clear to the Committee that, on the general question of principle, the Admiralty had definitely come round to the opinion held by the Noble Lord the Member for South Battersea (Viscount Curzon) and the hon. and gallant Member for Shettleston (Rear-Admiral Adair). We now hold the view that the principle of the marriage allowance is a sound one, and I would say myself that it applies more and is more needed in the Naval Service than in any other. I also had to make it clear that to adopt the principle wholeheartedly would involve a complete recasting of the terms of naval pay which, in fairness to the unmarried officers now in the Service, we could not undertake until 1924. We also felt that the changes that had come about in respect of the increased allowances to married officers in the Army, and the very heavy burden of Income Tax, created a situation which justified the consideration whether an interim and smaller marriage allowance might not be given to the married officers in the Navy pending the consideration of the whole question of the principle.

It is quite true, as the Noble Lord said, that in our proposals in July last we did include a sum of £400,000 for such an interim and modified small marriage allowance, but the Geddes Committee and the Government, in view of the very serious financial situation of the country, felt it was not possible to add this extra addition to the cost of the Navy at this moment, when right through the country so many other classes of people were being asked to make heavy sacrifices. There is, at any rate, this consideration relevant to the issue. The cost of living has fallen appreciably in the last few months, and the Income Tax, which was one of the reasons which caused the Navy to be relatively worse off than the Army as compared with the situation when these rates of pay were fixed, has been reduced somewhat, and makes a difference as between 2s. 9d. and 2s. 4d. a day to the officers. The Army rates of allowance have also gone down somewhat. In view of all these considerations, although we put this case forward believing it to be desirable and equitable to do something for the married officers pending a revision, I do not believe it will be possible, in view of the national position, to press this year for this particular concession. We certainly do not regard this question of the marriage allowance, however, as a door which is closed for all time.

Photo of Mr Thomas Adair Mr Thomas Adair , Glasgow Shettleston

I am exceedingly glad to hear that this is not a closed matter, and I certainly should not have allowed it to remain closed. There are two or three points which ought to be mentioned in connection with the consolidated pay referred to by the Parliamentary Secretary which he has omitted to mention. The rates of pay were bedrock sums fixed by the Committee, and agreed to by the Admiralty on several conditions. The first was that the Service rate of Income Tax only was charged, that is about one-half of the ordinary rate. The second condition was that the children's allowance should be continued pending further consideration; that meant a considerable allowance for married men. The third condition was that the passages of all wives going abroad should be paid. I only mention these considerations because they have been omitted this evening, and they ought to be remembered. I am not going to vote for this Amendment, but I shall raise the question of the marriage allowance later on when next year's Estimates are approaching.

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

I listened with great interest to the statement of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty. I think perhaps he would have been a little more courteous had he waited until one had had an opportunity of speaking before making his statement. Seeing that I have had other duties to attend to this afternoon I have not been able to speak earlier. I cannot say that I was impressed with the hon. Gentleman's statement. We have heard it made on many occasions, because this question of the marriage allowance is no new one, either to the Committee or to the House. It has been before the Committee and the House not only on the Naval Estimates but throughout the last few years. The hon. Gentleman has always made the same speech and said the same thing, only to-night he has said it a little bit better than he has done before. The question of the marriage allowance is a very important one for the officers in the Royal Navy. As hon. Members have said, there is clearly one law for the Army and another for the Navy. Why should a man in the Army be allowed to be married while apparently a man in the Navy is not allowed to be married? That is what it comes to. This matter was very fully discussed so far as the Army was concerned about two years ago by the present Secretary of State for War, when he laid it down that the Government recognised marriage amongst officers in the Army, they wished the officers to be married, and would do what they could to assist them when they were married by giving them an allowance and permitting their children also to have an allowance. If that is done for the Army why should it be denied to the Navy?

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty has tried to make out a case, but I fail altogether to see any reason in what he said. He has not at all disturbed my speech, because I fully recognise that if the army man is married the naval man should be also. If one is married there are children, and the question of the children's allowance is very important, and is so regarded by the men in the Navy. What has happened? Not only has the marriage allowance been reduced, but the children's allowance has been taken away. That is most unfair. In addition to its being taken away, a recommendation of a very important Committee has been set aside. That Committee recommended that the children's allowance should be continued if the marriage allowance were taken away. The Government have taken away both allowances, and the result is that the married naval officer has got nothing, whereas the married army officer has got everything.

Only in August of last year we had a Debate on this subject, and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty then stated that he would give a temporary marriage allowance. We had been looking forward to the temporary marriage allowance, but not only has that not been given, but the whole allowance has been wiped out because of the recommendations of the Geddes Committee. There were many recommendations in regard to the Admiralty by the Geddes Committee; have they all been recognised? Why, then, should this one be recognised? It is a very small economy, and ought never to have been agreed to. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty, in trying to put this decision on to the Geddes Committee, is, in my opinion, endeavouring to get rid of a difficulty which he ought himself to face. I regret very much that this sum of money has been struck out of the Naval Estimates, and I sincerely hope that it will be restored without delay.

Photo of Mr George Lambert Mr George Lambert , South Molton

I am perfectly certain that the Committee would not wish the naval officer to be treated worse than the army officer or the air officer. I do not think the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty gave us figures to show whether the charges made with some emphasis by the Noble Lord the Member for South Battersea (Viscount Curzon) and the hon. and gallant Member for Shettleston (Rear-Admiral Adair) were true in fact. If they were true in fact, there must be something wrong about the fixing of the salary of the naval officer. He is certainly entitled to as good treatment as the air officer or the army officer; there can be no question about that. So long as there is inequality in pay there is bound to be a grievance. I would ask my hon. Friend whether it would not be possible, under these circumstances, to have a meeting of the Admiralty, the War Office and the Air Ministry to endeavour to co-ordinate the allowances and the salaries, so that there could be no question of grievance? I am quite certain that the House and the country would not wish the naval officer, who served us gallantly in the War and on whom we have to rely as our first line of defence, to be placed in a worse position than the army officer.

Photo of Hon. Esmond Harmsworth Hon. Esmond Harmsworth , Isle of Thanet

The Debate so far has been carried on by naval experts or by hon. Members who represent naval constituencies. I am the last person who would wish to do any harm to the naval officer or rating or to be unfair to him. I think it rather strange, however, that at the present moment hon. Member after hon. Member should suggest that we should add what I understand to amount to £400,000 to this year's Estimates. The disclosures of the fact that the Admiralty in July last had set down £400,000 for a scheme of this kind shows that it was about time that the Geddes Committee was appointed to go into the Estimates. I do not suggest that the arguments which have been used are not perfectly fair, but I think the present moment, when the cost of living is going down and taxation is so high, is not the time to right such a grievance and to lay large sums on the Exchequer. I should be the last to say that on any future occasion the Navy should never have this grievance righted, but whilst taxation is as it is to-day there can be no prospect of putting the matter before the House of Commons. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty suggested that one of the grievances of the naval officer and the naval rating was that he had to pay such heavy taxation. Is it any wonder, with the schemes originated by the Admiralty and by other Departments, and with the waste going on in the other Departments that we have to pay such heavy taxation? If you are going to provide schemes of this sort, however laudable they may be, I see no prospect of reducing taxation. If you are going to give increased pay you will increase taxation. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary one day to right this grievance, but I do hope he will not do it while the taxpayers have much worse grievances which remain to be righted.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery , Birmingham Sparkbrook

I will just answer in a few words the question put by my right hon. Friend opposite. He asked me for the position in actual figures. I will give it in a sentence. Taking 30 as the average age at which a man marries, between the ages of 30 and 38, and over the whole of those nine years with the present marriage allowance for the Army and the Income Tax, the married naval officer is £290 worse off than the married Army officer. For the rest of his service the position is about level. On the other hand, over the whole of his career the unmarried naval officer is better off than the unmarried Army officer by a sum of £3,400. We should be only too ready to come to an agreement with the other Services at once to equalise that situation by putting a married naval officer on a marriage allowance comparable with that of the Army officer, but we could only do that by some reduction in the case of the unmarried naval officer. We are under a definite pledge to those who have been in the Navy since the scheme of 1919 was introduced not to alter their rates of pay until 1924. I am afraid I could not ask the unmarried naval officers to forego their rights in order to make things easier for their married colleagues. There might be a temporary concession in the way of a small increased marriage allowance if the exigencies of the financial situation permitted, and, at the first possible moment, we shall enter into con- sultation between the two Departments with a view to bringing about a more satisfactory arrangement.

Photo of Mr Bertram Falle Mr Bertram Falle , Portsmouth North

After the statement of the hon. Gentleman, I beg to ask leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Original Question again proposed.

Photo of Mr Godfrey Collins Mr Godfrey Collins , Greenock

My right hon. Friend the Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean) asked a few questions on this Vote, and I simply rise to invite the Parliamentary Secretary to give an answer to those questions.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery , Birmingham Sparkbrook

Certainly, I propose to do so presently.

Photo of Viscount  Curzon Viscount Curzon , Battersea South

I want to return to one or two other questions which I imagine are covered by this Vote. I would like to ask whether I may refer, in the course of my few remarks, to the special treatment of officers under the head of "Peculiarities of Temperament," which was referred to by the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy). I am not sure whether I shall be in order in speaking about it now.

Photo of Sir Edwin Cornwall Sir Edwin Cornwall , Bethnal Green North East

It is not among these items, I believe.

Photo of Viscount  Curzon Viscount Curzon , Battersea South

The item is presumably regulated by the number of officers and men trained in the Navy. It is apparently intended to get rid of certain naval officers on certain grounds stated in the Admiralty Fleet Order, and that might affect some of the items mentioned here.

Photo of Sir Edwin Cornwall Sir Edwin Cornwall , Bethnal Green North East

It does not seem to me to come under this Vote.

Photo of Viscount  Curzon Viscount Curzon , Battersea South

I will not discuss it, then. But may I say that I think it is a most dangerous Order, capable of infinite abuse. The naval officer will have no appeal whatever. The Fleet Order is differently worded from the Army Order. Perhaps the hon. and gallant Gentleman will bear that in mind. The Order really is not understood in the Navy. Why are the words "Peculiarity of temperament" used? However, I should like to refer to the question of special retirements in the Navy. The Navy has had this sword of Damocles hanging over its head for a very considerable time. They have been anxiously waiting, and so, too, have the men of the lower deck, to know what is going to happen to them. I should like to ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman with what success the Order has met so far. I gather that, possibly except in the captain's rank, very few officers are putting in for the special retirement. No fewer than 1,835 have to go before the 31st March next year. Here we have an appalling problem of selection, and it will be an infinitely difficult one for the Admiralty. I hope when the Admiralty come to consider it they will have regard principally to the needs of the Service and not solely to the personal advantage or disadvantage of the officers concerned. I think it is considered generally by naval officers that, on the whole, the proposal is a fair one, but I want to direct the attention of my hon. and gallant Friend to the case of the young commander, the man with four or five years' seniority. His position may be very difficult under that scheme.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery , Birmingham Sparkbrook

That question comes up on Vote 13.

Photo of Viscount  Curzon Viscount Curzon , Battersea South

Then I will not discuss it now. May I refer to the number of flag officers. Am I entitled to do so? I mean the number of flag officers now in commission. I should like to ask my hon. and gallant Friend what steps the Admiralty are taking to effect a real economy in the senior ranks of the Navy. We have seen, as a result of the Geddes Report, that the Admiralty action will affect the Commander-in-Chief on the coast of Scotland who is to disappear and also the Commander-in-Chief at the Western Approaches. The Commander-in-Chief on the coast of Scotland is still shown on the Navy List. Is he still there or not? The same observations apply to the Commander-in-Chief on the Western Approaches. The latter appointment is now apparently held by a Vice-Admiral. Why a Vice-Admiral? Why not an officer of more junior rank? Now I come to the other squadrons. Take the China Squadron. There you have a squadron of four cruisers and that squadron has as senior officer no less than a full Admiral. That is shown on the May Navy List. I believe another appointment has been made and that the officer relieving him is a Vice-Admiral.

I ask the hon. Gentleman to remember this, that in all probability there will be very little opportunity in the future for the officers of the Vice-Admiral rank. They will have little opportunity to take part in any future war in which the Navy may be concerned. In another ten years all these Vice-Admirals will be out of it. The officers in the Vice-Admirals rank had their fling in the late War and they played a splendid part in it. I hope the Admiralty are doing everything possible to avoid stagnation of promotion. They can only do it by beginning at the top and by getting the younger officers on. They must give them the high commands. I should like to ask the hon. and gallant Member with particular reference to the China Squadron, was it not possible, instead of a Vice-Admiral being sent out for the appointment to have been given to a Rear-Admiral. I know what the answer will be. It will be of course that as the French or the Japanese or the Americans have a Vice-Admiral there we must also have an officer of the same rank. But I think that argument is entirely wrong. It is always possible for the Admiralty to give an officer acting rank with the necessary seniority. At any rate they should do every thing they can to get the junior officers on.

I now come to the question of the Royal yachts I believe they are to be reduced in number. Apparently there is to be only one and I should like to ask if it is still intended to keep a Rear-Admiral for one Royal yacht? These are appointments where the Admiralty could realise certain economies—economies which at the same time would benefit the Service. I am most anxious to see the junior officers have an opportunity for advancement. Here I should like to refer to the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Central Hull. I took down what he said for the sake of greater accuracy. He asked, "Why not live on your personnel?" I cannot imagine a. thing which would be worse for the Navy than that. You have got to try to get back to the naval point of view of naval training. You have to get back to pre-War conditions as soon as you can, both in the interests of national economy and of the Navy itself, and you will never do that until you get the normal flow of promotion. You will have to face this special position. It will be faced by the officers concerned with courage, resignation and fortitude. They fully realise the national emergency which exists. I did not at all like the remarks made just now by the hon. Member for Thanet (Mr. E. Harmsworth). They were almost an insult to the Navy. Naval officers fully realise the position of the country. The naval officer does not want to go, but he is ready to accept the reduction which must undoubtedly be made and I hope that this reduction will have the effect of stimulating the flow of promotion. I hope, too, we shall not see again what occurred in January this year when there was no less than four months' delay before any officer of the temporary commander's rank was promoted. It is true that the promotions when made were dated back, but such delays undoubtedly have a very depressing and enervating effect on the minds of the naval officers affected, and may also have a very serious effect on the Navy. T hope when the Admiralty come to consider the flow of promotion that sort of thing will not occur again.

I should like, in conclusion, to make a reference to the Report of the Geddes Committee which was referred to by the right hon. Member for Peebles (Sir D Maclean). The Geddes Committee, on the subject of personnel recommended great reductions by takingpro rata figures. They divided up the Navy into four groups: Group 1, fighting ships; Group 2, depot ships; Group 3, minelayers, and Group 4, minesweepers. It was said, because the Admiralty could make a certain reduction in Group 1 it could also makepro rata reductions in all the other groups. I cannot imagine a more fallacious way of arriving at the actually required strength of the personnel of the Navy. If there is one lesson which, among a great many, the Navy learned as a result of the recent War, it was this. Before the War there were practically no minelayers and no minefields. There were no sloops or gunboats. How possibly can you go back to the figures of 1914? You will have to revise the figures of 1914, but you cannot say that because it is possible in a particular branch of the Service to make a reduction on the figures for 1914, therefore you must make a proportionate reduction on the 1914 figures for the larger ships. I believe the Admiralty maintain, and I think they are right in maintaining, that the Geddes Committee did not fully appreciate the position when they made that recommendation. It is true that they say that they took the Admiralty figures, but I think they did not consider them with a full understanding of what was involved. I consider that their recommendations with respect to reductions in the personnel of the Navy were fallacious, and that, if carried out, they would be dangerous. I hope the Admiralty will stick to their guns in this matter, and, while not shutting the door to further possible economies, will not economise on the lines recommended by the Geddes Committee.

Photo of Sir Thomas Bramsdon Sir Thomas Bramsdon , Portsmouth Central

I agree with a good deal that has fallen from the Noble Lord the Member for South Battersea. (Viscount Curzon). With regard to the inducements offered to officers to retire from the Service, I agree that they are generally regarded as being favourable, and one hopes that they will be largely adopted, and that there will be a good number of retirements from the Service in consequence of the very excellent system which has been instituted. It is necessary, in the interests of the Service, and especially in the interests of the junior officers, that there should be that reduction which I am sure it is the desire and intention of the Admiralty to bring about. While, however, commissioned officers are induced to leave, officers who have been promoted from the lower deck are compelled to go on reaching the age, I think, of 50. Previously the age was 55, and these officers do feel it to be a little unfair that they should not be placed on the same basis as the commissioned officers. They think that if inducement is to be held out in the one case, it should be held out in the other; or if, on the other hand, there is compulsion to go in the one instance, the same thing should be applied in the other. What they fear is that, while the commissioned officers will be able to leave at their own will and pleasure—consistently, of course, with their having attained a certain age—so far as the others are concerned, notwithstanding that they may have gone through all their examinations, and are prepared to attain the promotion they have sought all their lives, they will be compelled to leave. My hon. Friend may remember that on previous occasions I have done all I could to induce the Admiralty to bring forward some scheme by which these officers might be induced to go, and, therefore, I am glad that that has been done; but what they do not want is different treatment as between commissioned officers and those who have been promoted from the lower deck.

There is another matter about which I want to speak, namely, a new Order which has been issued by the Admiralty with reference to men who are on outlying stations, like the Cape of Good Hope, and so on. These men have had their period of service extended to 2½ or 3 years, and they feel it to be very unjust that they should be compelled to serve for these long periods abroad, seeing that the old period of service was two years. They ask me to represent their case to the Admiralty with a view to their being put on a different basis. They suggest that all those who are now-abroad on these far-distant stations should remain for the period which was in force when they were suit there; that, if any other alteration is made, it should be made on a new basis, such as that of volunteering; and that, if men are to be sent abroad for these long periods, they should at least understand before they go that they will be remaining for so long. I think these are very reasonable suggestions, and I hope that my hon. Friend will be able to bring about some alteration. There is one other point, and that is the old grievance which the men of the lower deck have in connection with railway allowance. The Admiralty have sent men from Portsmouth, Devonport and Chatham to take up their career at far-away stations like Port Edgar, and it is suggested that when men are sent to such far-distant places, and when they come home from there on leave, facilities for travelling should be afforded them. I know that my hon. Friend has done his best to induce the railway people to alter the present state of affairs, but the suggestion has been made to me from the lower deck, and I should be glad if the Admiralty could see their way to adopt it, that these men should be able to travel to and from places like Port Edgar by ship. Some shipping transport could probably be arranged, and, if so, it would be a welcome arrangement to many men who are serving on these far-distant stations.

Mr. L. MALONE:

I am one of those Members who believe that drastic economies can still be effected at the Admiralty. I believe that the Geddes Committee pursued their deliberations in too hurried a manner when they investigated the expenditure at the Admiralty, and were too easily led aside by the experts and the Staff at the Admiralty. At the Admiralty to-day there are too many vested interests. There are too many highly-paid civil servants who have built up big, money-spending jobs which we have to tackle. I speak without any disrespect to the Parliamentary Secretary, who, I know, does his best, but I should like to sec the present Secretary of State for the Colonies back again at the Admiralty as First Lord, because I feel that he is the one man who is able to deal with these obstructionists in high and exalted places at the Admiralty. I should, however, be out of order if I pursued that now, and I will deal with it in greater detail on Vote 12.

I want, on this Vote, to ask one or two questions of the Parliamentary Secretary. If he will turn to the manning Table which is given in the Geddes Report, and which I assume is more or less up to date and accurate, he will find that an enormous proportion of officers and men are employed on shore and harbour work. I know that it is very difficult for the Admiralty to deal with the discharge of officers and men, and I do not wish to see officers and men put on the beach without adequate remuneration. It is not our business here to provide the policy for dealing with these people, but we have made suggestions from time to time that the Air Service should be developed, and so forth. What I want to criticise to-day is the employment of so large a number of officers and men on shore and harbour work. What are they? I find from this Table that 1,550 officers and 11,050 men are employed on harbour ships. What are those harbour ships? Are they training ships, or what are they? Then I find that 450 officers and 2,650 men are employed on coastguard service. Is it not time that we packed up this obsolete coastguard service? On what are these officers and men employed to-day? Are they employed on wireless duties, or on some other duties which cause them to be included in the table as coastguards; or are they still wandering from one station to another two or three times a day, doing work of a kind that is already done by other Departments? Are they counting crab pots and lobster pots on the Hamble River, and performing the other duties which are performed by naval coastguards? Before the War a very good beginning was made in replacing the work of the coastguards by that of the Air Service, and I should like to see that further increased. It is obvious to-day that, if smuggling is done at all, it cannot be tackled by the coastguards. The man who wants to smuggle a few hundred pounds of tobacco into the country does not bring it in in a lugger on a dark night and land it off Plymouth; he brings it in on one of the biggest liners, disguised as luggage in a double bottom, or, still more likely, he brings it in by aeroplane. To-day, in 1922, to have these 450 officers and 2,650 men is an extravagance which is really not justified.

Then I should like to know what the item "Miscellaneous," under which there are 600 officers and 2,600 men, includes? Upon what duties are these men employed? If we add up all these figures, we find that, of 7,300 officers in the Navy, 3,900 are employed on shore and harbour duties, and that, of 78,150 men, 25,150 are employed on shore and harbour duties. That means that more than half the officers, and very much more than one-third of the men of the Navy are employed on services which are not warlike services. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary, when he replies, will be able to explain this. In this same Table also, I find that, while we are economising in ships, the complements of the ships have been considerably increased. I want to draw attention in particular to the complements of battle ships, battle cruisers, and light cruisers. In 1915, we had 25 battleships, with an average- complement of 51 officers. Now, although we have cut down the number of ships, we find that the complement of officers, instead of being 51, is 68, and that the number of men, instead of being 725, is 1,190. Similarly, in the case of battle cruisers, the complement has risen from 50 officers to 67, and from 840 men to 1,320—nearly half as much again; while in the light cruiser, instead of 18 officers, there are now 29—very nearly double—and instead of 304 men there are now 440. I should like to know whether these complements are those which were found during the War to be necessary owing to the increased number of officers and men required for fire control and so-called staff work, or whether they are the result of recent Admiralty decisions in order to justify—perhaps I might even say conceal—a certain number of the officers who are supernumerary. In conclusion, I should like to have the assurance that the decisions of the Geddes Report are not in any way restricting the flow of men from the lower deck into the ranks of officers. I believe, and I think it is widely felt throughout certain sections of the Navy, that the proportion of men who were to have been recruited in order to supplement the supply of officers in the Navy would have been much greater had the scheme of which we have heard been put forward. I believe that the Admiralty deliberately checked this advance of the men, and I need hardly point out what a bad effect that will have on the men in the Navy. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to look into this matter and see whether the channels which used to be looked forward to with such great expectation and hope can be reopened to the men of the lower deck.

Photo of Mr Thomas Adair Mr Thomas Adair , Glasgow Shettleston

I want to refer to a point which was raised by the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy), namely, the number of cadets. This year's Estimate provides for 506 cadets. Is it likely that all these young officers will be absorbed and will get on in the Service? It there are too many of them, for Heaven's sake let us get rid of them while they are young and can be educated for some other profession.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery , Birmingham Sparkbrook

I should like to deal with the points which have been raised, and in begin with, as suggested by the right, hon. Gentleman the Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean), indicate the main lines on which our reduction shall proceed. The main economy on this Vote of £3,200,000 is, of course, only an instalment of the total economy we shall effect by our reductions. The Estimate for this year is naturally based on the average strength of the Navy during the year, and that average strength will be about 110,000 officers and men, as compared with 121,000 to-day. The figure to which we are coming down as early as possible in the year is 98,000, and next year Vote 1, and to a certain extent all the other Votes, will reflect the total economy of that reduction. My right hon. Friend also dealt with the question of the coastguard. That service, which costs £700,000 a year, is only to a very small extent a service required for naval purposes only. The Admiralty have made it quite clear that of the 2,800 officers and men of the coastguard only about 345 are actually required in peace time for strictly naval purposes. The others are required in the main for the purposes of the Customs and the Board of Trade, and we are now having a conference with the Customs and the Board of Trade in order to see, first of all, how it shall be made clear that this expenditure is not really naval expenditure but expenditure of other Departments, and, secondly, to find out how far, when that expenditure is being treated and regarded from the point of view of the other Departments, it is possible to economise considerably in the actual numbers of this force. The Committee is already sitting, and I hope it will not be long before we get a general decision which will both secure considerable economy on this Vote and also make it quite clear, whether the item continues to stand on the Naval Votes or not, that it represents expenditure which for the purposes of discipline may be put under the Navy, but which is really expenditure on other Departments.

To come to the method of reduction. We have reduced, in the first instance, two commands, which were necessary during the War but are not necessary in view of the present general situation—the Western Approaches and the Scottish Commands. While it is quite true that in the May Navy List, which was printed some time before, those officers are still shown as holding their positions, both appointments have now been terminated and they are not in existence at this moment. The right hon. Gentleman asked whether it was possible to carry out still further the recommendations of the Geddes Committee and reduce the commands or unify them under a single command. That would be quite impossible. It is not for the sake of honorific positions, but owing to the fact that we have certain great Naval bases and establishments we must have one senior officer, with general control locally, at each of these bases. A central command would be a mere addition. The Admiralty already fulfil that function. Innumerable questions would arise. We find, as the Army and other organisations find, that a great aggregation like Portsmouth or Devonport wants a Commander-in-Chief on the spot.

Photo of Mr Donald Maclean Mr Donald Maclean , Peebles and Southern

How many were there before the War?

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery , Birmingham Sparkbrook

Four, and they have now been reduced to four again. The right hon. Gentleman also raised the question of what are known in the Navy as retinues, which would probably not have attracted nearly as much attention from the Geddes Committee or the public if they had been called by any other name. The old historic word "retinue" includes all the officers and the ratings which, for one reason or another, are attached to the headquarter's staff of an admiral. Take the senior medical officer of a great base like Portsmouth. Whether there was an admiral in command or not, his function would necessarily continue, but he and all the junior officers attached to him—writers and all categories of people depending on him, right down to the whole of his staff, clerks, orderlies, and everything else—are included in the admiral's retinue. They are an essential element in the ordinary administrative naval work of the district. It would he perfectly easy to describe them as not attached to the admiral's staff, and in that case they would no longer appear in the figure of the retinue. Ever since last August we have been pressing the Commanders-in-Chief to see whether they can cut down any officers. Certain reductions have already been made, and we shall certainly keep close watch, and in any case where a staff of three can do the work of four, we shall certainly press that only three shall do it.

Photo of Mr Donald Maclean Mr Donald Maclean , Peebles and Southern

Are these staffs down to the pre-War standard?

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery , Birmingham Sparkbrook

No, I could not give the detailed figure. In certain respects they are necessarily larger than they were before the War. Certain technical aspects have enormously increased. There is the multiplication of wireless and questions like paravanes, depth charges, anti-submarine work—all these different aspects have increased. But I think I can say that in any Department that existed before the War there is not an increased staff for the same work which was done before. As to the scheme of reduction generally, the Noble Lord the Member for South Battersea (Viscount Curzon) quite rightly said that what is essential is that we should so frame our reductions right through as not to interfere with the flow of promotion in future, so as to enable the Navy to be as efficient after these reductions as it is to-day, and it is from that point of view that the whole basis of surpluses in each category of officers and ratings has been worked out. My Noble Friend referred to the Flag List. The position as regards the Flag List is this: Before the War there were 95 officers on the Flag List, of whom three were supernumerary. During the War that number was considerably increased. Since then we have brought the figures down to 95, as before the War, but six of these are supernumerary, three being admirals of the Fleet—Jellicoc, Beatty and Wemyss—whose places will not be filled again, and we are now further reducing the total number to 83. Of those in active employment, we had 54 in March, 1914. That number is now reduced to 43, and we hope to reduce it by three more before the end of the calendar year.

Photo of Viscount  Curzon Viscount Curzon , Battersea South

Are you still keeping an admiral in the Royal yacht?

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery , Birmingham Sparkbrook

The appointment of the commander of the Royal yacht is one that is entirely personal to His Majesty, and the officer now in that command enjoys the full confidence of His Majesty and gives him satisfaction. I do not think the House of Commons should press that he should be removed from his position, even though a small saving might be effected. Generally speaking, we are pressing forward the reduction of the Flag List.

At the other end of the scale the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) raised the question of the number of boys in training and the cadets whom we are taking into the Navy. He took a figure as the number of boys in training which represents the maximum authorised figure of over 4,000. As a matter of fact, we have drastically reduced the numbers by not taking in more boys, and with the flow out the number now in training is 2,400. The normal number which would be required in training to supply the normal needs of the Navy in future will be about 3,000, and as soon as the clearance has been effected we shall begin again to take in boys in order to meet the normal waste of the Service. The same is the position with regard to cadets. The total number of cadets in the training ship and at Dartmouth is 612, but by the end of the year, in consequence of the smaller number we are now taking in—an average of 50 a term at Dartmouth—the total number at Dartmouth will be down to 470, and the total number of those in the training ship will be down to 85, making a total of 555. Those numbers are rather less than will be required for normal entry into the Navy in future, allowing for the needs, not only of the executive branch, but of the engineering branch, and we shall undoubtedly have to ask for a rather larger number of the special entry cadets in favour of whom the hon. and gallant Gentleman has more than once spoken. My Noble Friend referred to the employment of an admiral in China. A very serious international crisis might arise at any moment there, as in the Near East, and it is important that the admiral there should carry the weight of a senior position. Also our admirals in those positions to-day are very much junior men to those who held the same positions before the War, and the distinguished admiral who is now going to take over the China Command is in every respect anything but an old gentleman. I think men who have risen to distinction in active service during the War are among the most effective for teaching young officers their work during the years immediately ahead.

The hon. Member for Central Portsmouth (Sir T. Bramsdon) suggested that we were making retirements in the case of officers promoted from the ranks compulsory and making it voluntary in the case of others. The position is this. Our scheme is one under which we are bound to reduce the excess in different categories. Wherever possible, whether in the case of officers promoted from the ranks or officers who come in as cadets, we are leaving it open for the time being for them to retire voluntarily in order to meet the very varied needs of individuals. The terms of retirement from the point of view of one officer may be very favourable—in fact, he may have been hesitating about leaving the Service, anyhow. But the scheme is compulsory, all the same. If within the next few weeks officers do not take advantage of the opportunity of voluntary retirement, we shall inevitably be compelled to make selection, entirely from the point of view of the needs of the Service, from amongst officers whom we should, with the greatest regret, ask to leave, because, in the main, with very few exceptions, they will be officers of promise. There are very few in the Navy to-day whom we should like to lose.

Photo of Sir Thomas Bramsdon Sir Thomas Bramsdon , Portsmouth Central

Why does the hon. Gentleman discriminate between the two classes?

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery , Birmingham Sparkbrook

I was just coming to that point. I wish to make it quite clear that the Order dealing with the retirement of officers who, without having actually committed misconduct, are considered unfit for their position is certainly not going to be used in any way in order to bring about any of the reductions which we are considering at this moment. I do not suppose the number of officers who will be affected will be other than very small. To come back to the suggestion of the hon. Member for Portsmouth. In no case is the scheme other than compulsory, providing that voluntary retirements are not made, both in the cases of officers promoted from the ranks and of officers promoted from cadets. There are one or two categories of very deserving officers who have risen through distinguished service during the War but who, from age and other reasons, are surplus to the requirements of a very drastically reduced Navy, and it is only for that reason that we have had to notify them that, as a matter of fact, it will be necessary to retire them in any case.

Photo of Sir Thomas Bramsdon Sir Thomas Bramsdon , Portsmouth Central

Surely the numbers of Flag and other officers who are surplus to the establishment are even more than those promoted from the lower deck.

8.0 P.M.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery , Birmingham Sparkbrook

I have dealt with the question of Flag officers. We do not wish in any way to inflict hardship, but from the point of view of the needs of the Service we cannot keep a large number of officers, either of flag rank or of lower ranks, for whom we cannot find any work. It is only from that point of view that we have dealt with the question. The hon. Member for East Leyton (Mr. L. Malone) raised another question. Undoubtedly the experience of the War showed us that on these great battleships there was need for a large number of additional officers and men to man the additional equipment. Great ships carried nine wireless sets compared with two before the War. The anti-aircraft equipment was a very small matter before the War, but it is now a very big thing, absorbing a large number of officers and men. There is the paravane service and so on. We had increased the complements very considerably at the end of the War on account of war experience; but since the Washington Conference, in view of the general relaxation of the position in the world, we have been carrying out a 16 per cent. reduction in all these complements, bringing us back to some thing like the pre-War complements. That is the peace reduction. If mobilisation was declared we should bring these men back from the schools and the training establishments in order to meet the active needs of the Service. I think I have covered the points raised in the discussion, and I hope the Committee will now let us have this Vote.

Photo of Mr Godfrey Collins Mr Godfrey Collins , Greenock

I beg to move to reduce the Vote by £100.

The Parliamentary Secretary has informed the Committee that to-day there are 83 Flag officers in comparison with a total of 95 before the War. On page 34 of the Geddes Report the number of battleships and battle cruisers in 1914 is given as 68, and in 1922–23 only 29. If these figures are at all accurate, the reduction in the number of Flag officers has not kept pace with the reduction in the number of battleships and battle cruisers at sea. Several hon. Members have pointed out that through a large number of Flag officers to-day holding these appointments, promotion from the lower ranks is blocked. Hon. Members in all quarters of the Committee realise that to secure an efficient Navy you must give the lower ranks reasonable opportunity of securing Flag rank, if their efficiency entitles them to that position. If the Geddes figures are accurate, the Admiralty have not taken sufficient steps to induce the Flag officers, by one method or another, to retire, because the reduction is only 12, although the battleships and battle cruisers at sea have been reduced from 68 to 29. The Parliamentary Secretary informed us that the two commands which the Geddes Committee recommended should be abolished have been discontinued.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery , Birmingham Sparkbrook

One was discontinued some little time ago, and the other a few days ago.

Photo of Mr Godfrey Collins Mr Godfrey Collins , Greenock

As to the retinue or staff associated with these commands, will they automatically disappear?

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery , Birmingham Sparkbrook

They have diminished very considerably. Of course, whatever junior appointment remains it will have some staff, but there is undoubtedly very considerable reduction.

Photo of Mr Godfrey Collins Mr Godfrey Collins , Greenock

I understand that the numbers quoted on Page 45 of the Geddes Report as the retinue of the Commanders-in-Chief will not be completely reduced.

Photo of Mr Godfrey Collins Mr Godfrey Collins , Greenock

We take exception to these staffs not being more radically reduced. The right hon. Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean) read from the Geddes Report the judgment of the Committee on that point. It is quite clear that, although two commands have been abolished, the total staff in these two commands will not automatically disappear.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery , Birmingham Sparkbrook

In the case of the Western Approaches Command (Ireland) practically the whole has disappeared. In Scotland there is a reduced establishment at Rosyth, and a reduction of staff.

Photo of Mr Godfrey Collins Mr Godfrey Collins , Greenock

There is a complete reduction in Ireland, and a very large reduction in Scotland. That leads me to ask what steps the Admiralty propose to take to reduce the size of the staffs in the other commands. We think them excessive, but as we cannot give a fair opinion in this respect, we can only rely upon those who have had experience of the Admiralty, and upon Lord Inchcape and others who have been closely associated with sea affairs, and when the members of the Geddes Committee report to the Government that in their opinion the size of these staffs is excessive, I hope the House will take note of that fact. This Vote raises also a very large question, and that is the numbers given in the Navy Estimates compared with the figures recommended by the Geddes Committee. If the recommendations of that Committee had been accepted, this Vote would have been reduced by over £2,000,000 this year. The Geddes Committee recommended that the number of men should be reduced to 86,000, and the Parliamentary Secretary has informed us that the Admiralty are taking steps to reduce the total personnel to 98,000. The difference in numbers between 98,000 and 86,000 will cost the country this year over £2,000,000. I have

said enough to show that the advice of the Geddes Committee has been rejected by the Admiralty, that the staffs are excessive, that the number of flag officers does not correspond with the numbers of battleships and battle cruisers in commission, and as a protest against this I move to reduce the Vote by £100.

Question put, "That a sum, not exceeding £12,925,900, be granted for the said Service."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 72; Noes, 163.

Division No. 118.]AYES.[8.12 p.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. WilliamHallas, EldredPoison, Sir Thomas A.
Ammon, Charles GeorgeHarmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)Raffan, Peter Wilson
Banton, GeorgeHartshorn, VernonRichardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)Hayday, ArthurRoberts, Frederick O. (W. Bromwich)
Barnes, Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals)Hayward, EvanRobertson, John
Barton, Sir William (Oldham)Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)Royce, William Stapleton
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.Hirst, G. H.Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)
Bromfield, WilliamHogge, James MylesSpoor, B. G.
Cairns, JohnIrving, DanSutton, John Edward
Cape, ThomasJohn, William (Rhondda, West)Swan, J. E.
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.Johnstone, JosephThomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)
Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)Thomas, Brig.-Gen. sir O. (Anglesey)
Davies, A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe)Kennedy, ThomasThorns, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)Kenyon, BarnetWalsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)
Entwistle, Major C. F.Lawson, John JamesWaterson, A. E.
Finney, SamuelLyle-Samuel, AlexanderWatts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D.
Galbraith, SamuelMaclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.
Gillis, WilliamMaclean, Rt. Hon. sir D. (Midlothian)Wignall, James
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)Malone, C. L. (Leyton, E.)Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)
Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)Murray, Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)Wilson, James (Dudley)
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Grundy, T. W.Myers, Thomas
Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)Newbould, Alfred ErnestTELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)Major Barnes and Major McKenzie
Wood.
NOES.
Agg-Gardner, Sir James TynteConway, Sir W. MartinHacking, Captain Douglas H.
Amery, Leopold C. M. S.Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)Hailwood, Augustine
Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick W.Craik, Rt. Hon. sir HenryHamilton, Major C. G. C.
Balfour, George (Hampstead)Curzon, Captain ViscountHarmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)
Barnston, Major HarryDavies, Thomas (Cirencester)Hills, Major John Waller
Barrand, A. R.Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S)Hinds, John
Bartley-Denniss, Sir Edmund RobertDawson, Sir PhilipHood, Sir Joseph
Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C H. (Devizes)Dewhurst, Lieut.-Commander HarryHope, Sir H. (Stirling & Cl'ckm'nn'n, W.)
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.Doyle, N. GrattanHope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)
Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)Edge, Captain Sir WilliamHopkins, John W. W.
Bird, Sir William B. M. (Chichester)Edwards, Hugh (Glam., Neath)Hudson, R. M.
Blades, Sir George RowlandElliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)Hurd, Percy A.
Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-Erskine, James Malcolm MonteithJephcott, A. R.
Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.Evans, ErnestJones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)
Bramsdon, Sir ThomasEyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George
Breese, Major Charles E.Falle, Major Sir Bertram GodfrayKidd, James
Briggs, HaroldFell, Sir ArthurKing, Captain Henry Douglas
Broad, Thomas TuckerFlannery, Sir James FortescueKinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement
Brown, Major D. C.Ford, Patrick JohnstonLarmor, Sir Joseph
Bruton, Sir JamesForrest, WalterLewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)
Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.Foxcroft, Captain Charles TalbotLister, Sir R. Ashton
Butcher, Sir John GeorgeFraser, Major Sir KeithLloyd-Greame, Sir P.
Carew, Charles Robert S.Frece, Sir Walter deLort-Williams, J.
Carr, W. TheodoreFremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.Lowe, Sir Francis William
Carter, R. A. D. (Man., Withington)Gibbs, Colonel George AbrahamLoyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)
Casey, T. W.Gilbert, James DanielLyle, C. E. Leonard
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Bim., W.)Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir JohnM'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.
Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)Goff, Sir R. ParkManville, Edward
Cheyne, Sir William WatsonGreen, Albert (Derby)Martin, A. E.
Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. SpenderGreen, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)Middlebrook, Sir William
Clough, Sir RobertGreenwood, Rt. Hon. Sir HamarMolson, Major John Elsdale
Cobb, Sir CyrilGreenwood, William (Stockport)Morden, Col. W. Grant
Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.Grenfell, E. C.Moreing, Captain Algernon H.
Nall, Major JosephRoberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)
Neal, ArthurRobinson, Sir T. (Lanes., Stretford)Thorpe, Captain John Henry
Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)Rodger, A. K.Tickler, Thomas George
Newson, Sir Percy WilsonRoundell, Colonel R. F.Townley, Maximilian G.
Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)Tryon, Major George Clement
Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir JohnScott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)Waddington, R.
Ormsby-Gore, Hon. WilliamSeddon, J. A.Wallace, J.
Pain, Brig.-Gen. Sir W. HacketShaw, William T. (Forfar)Walton, J. (York, W. R., Don Valley)
Parker, JamesShortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)
Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert PikeSmith, Sir Malcolm (Orkney)Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)
Perkins, Walter FrankSmithers, Sir Alfred W.White, Col. G. D. (Southport)
Perring, William GeorgeStanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)Wild, Sir Ernest Edward
Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)Stanton, Charles ButtWilliams, C. (Tavistock)
Pickering, Colonel Emil W.Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.Williams, Lt.-Col. Sir R. (Banbury)
Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest MurrayStewart, GershomWise, Frederick
Pratt, John WilliamSturrock, J. LengYeo, Sir Alfred William
Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.Sugden, W. H.Young, E. H. (Norwich)
Purchase, H. G.Sykes, Colonel Sir A. J. (Knutsford)Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)
Raeburn, Sir William H.Sykes, Sir Charles (Huddersfield)
Remer, J. R.Taylor, J.TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Renwick, Sir GeorgeTerrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr.
Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)Thomas, sir Robert J. (Wrexham)McCurdy.
Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)

Original Question put, and agreed to.

It being a Quarter past Bight of the Clock, and there being Private Business set down by direction of the Chairman of Ways and Means under Standing Order No. 8, further Proceeding was postponed without Question put.