Navy Estimates, 1942.

Part of Orders of the Day — Supply. – in the House of Commons on 26th February 1942.

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Photo of Mr Charles Ammon Mr Charles Ammon , Camberwell North

We get statements, but they are never implemented. The First Lord himself has said, over this Table, that he wholly agreed about rationing and all the other suggestions I have made, but it was only yesterday that we got the announcement. It is no good Ministers saying that they quite agree if nothing is done, and if in twelve months' time we are in the same position. I have had handed to me a statement about the re- vised subsistence allowances to certain naval officers. A request was made that the allowance of 18s. 9d. a day for lieutenant-commanders, when they go away on official duties, should be increased. They have gained the magnificient increase of 1s. 3d. a day, bringing the allowance up to £1. I understand that that allowance, in view of their position as officers, is far from adequate to meet their expenses. They have to do more travelling than commanders, but the commanders get 25s. a day. The First Lord might see whether they could be placed on an equality. The First Lord was subject to interruptions, but we have been too long associated for it to be suggested that there was anything personal intended. We have a duty, however, to bring forward our criticisms forcefully and plainly. It is no reflection on the personnel. We simply desire to ease the burden on the very gallant officers and men who are engaged on this dangerous work on the high seas, and to provide them with better ships.

I came up the other day from Liverpool in a railway carriage full of naval ratings. To hear what they said about the Government was most astonishing. I was the only civilian there, and they did not concern themselves about me. What they said about this Government would have been an education to the First Lord had he heard it; and that is the best test of what the men think. They have a feeling that they have not had proper consideration, and that the Government have not done the necessary planning. I bring these matters to the notice of the House in the hope that something will be done. Above all, I ask that the results of the inquiries now going on may be communicated to the House. It is no good fobbing hon. Members off with the statement that there is to be an inquiry, in the hope that as time passes the matter will drop. We want to know whether the same people who have been responsible for the undoubted blunders are still there to commit more. After all, a serious situation has been created by the appointment of the new Secretary of State for War. The First Lord does not know now how far he may be let down by the man immediately under him, in the hope of succeeding him. If only for that reason, the First Lord might have a good look round, to see if all is well in his Department.