§ MR. HENNIKER HEATON (Canterbury)
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, What is the total amount of money to be paid this year for the mail steamers to America and Australia for the call on their services as armed cruisers; the number of vessels so under call; what steps, if any, are being taken 872 to train the officers and men of these steamers in naval warfare; and, have the Government taken into consideration, and with what result, the condition of the Mercantile Marine, with a view to its more complete utilization as a Reserve for the Royal Navy?
§ THE FIRST LORD (Lord GEORGE HAMILTON) (Middlesex, Ealing)
the anticipated payment in subventions for 1888–9 is £22,380. This payment is on six ships; but by an arrangement with the owners nine others are at the disposition of the Admiralty for purchase or hire when required. Unless they happen to belong to the Royal Naval Reserve no steps are taken for the training of the officers and men of these ships in naval warfare; but it has been arranged that at least half of the crews should belong to the Royal Naval Reserve in the steamers to America, and another arrangement has been made for the remaining steamers. The pick of the Mercantile Fleet is already on the Admiralty list, and can be requisitioned when required; and by means of the Royal Naval Reserve the services of such portion of its personnel as may be willing to serve in the Navy in the event of war are already at the disposal of the Admiralty. No further development of this principle is at present contemplated.