I wish to congratulate my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary on the way in which he presented the Navy Estimates, and on making such clear announcements on very complicated matters. I wish to follow other hon. Members in thanking the Admiralty for granting at last these marriage allowances. I assure my hon. Friend that the allowances will enable petty officers wishing to be promoted, to get promotion without feeling that they will lose their marriage allowance. I think we may be very grateful that at last the Admiralty have removed the injustice that was done to naval officers, who were the only officers in the three Services who did not receive a marriage allowance. These marriage allowances will be received with great gratitude.
However, I do not like the way in which the allowances have been given. To give them to married officers at the expense of their brother officers is rather like giving a dog a bit of its own tail. It seems to me that it will cause embarrassment to the naval officers, and that the officers who are having a deduction from their pay will feel that they have been badly let down. Such a reduction in pay would be justified only if there were a financial crisis, and as we are not faced with a financial crisis, I think it is a great pity that the Government were not a little bit more liberal and that they did not give the allowances without making any deductions from the pay of the officers. However, I sincerely thank the Admiralty for at last granting to naval officers this allowance, which has been merited for so many years.