HC Deb 17 March 1887 vol 312 cc575-7

The reports of the efficiency of officers and men are satisfactory. The number of Courts-martial has diminished, whilst the amounts deposited and number of depositors in savings-banks have increased. The health and physique *A further sum of £100,000 for this service has been taken in the Supplementary Army-Estimates, 1886 –87. of the men have improved. By the Return of the wastage of men (blue-jackets, 19,000 in number), we find during the last four years a continuous decrease in the annual waste:—

1882–83 2,146
l883–84 2,368
1884–85 2,062
l885–86 1,942

This diminished waste has upset the previously-accepted calculation?, by which provision, through the entry of a certain number of boys, in the training-ships, is made to keep the number of seamen up to the authorized strength. There is a certain excess over that number, but steps have been taken to reduce the number of boys entered for training.

The Navy now seems to be a very popular Service. A high standard and restrictions on number of entries have been imposed to prevent an undue influx of boys, but the competition is, notwithstanding, considerable. It is worthy of note that, simultaneously with the growing popularity of the Navy with parents as a career for their sons, there is a dread of dismissal from the Service which previously did not exist. Mutilations and misconduct not unfrequently in the past wore deliberately adopted for the purpose of insuring dismissal, whereas the present tendency is in the opposite direction.

During the last ton years, owing to the multiplication of engines and machinery in ships, a large increase has taken place in the artificer, engine-room, and stoker complements. Comparing the year 187G with 1886, it will be found that the combatant class has decreased, so that the proportion of non-combatants to combatants is much larger than before:—

1876. 1886. Difference.
Officers, executive 2,300 2,120 -180
Officers, non-executive 1,955 1,718 -237
Warrant officers 903 952 + 49
Blue-jackets 19,586 18,667 -919
Artificers* 2,420 2,509 + 149
Engine-room staff 4,279 6,983 + 2,704
Others† 4,474 5,209 + 795

Steps have, therefore, been taken to have all stokers trained to the use of arms, the same reward being held out to them to become trained men as had been given to seamen and marines; arrangements have also been made to substitute marines for the civilian butchers, barbers, and lamp-trimmers now afloat; this will entail an increase of marines corresponding to the number of men they replace