HC Deb 25 July 1890 vol 347 cc892-3
SIR WILLIAM PLOWDEN (Wolverhampton, W.)

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty whether Commander Pitt, R. N., beyond his Naval experience and training, has had any technical training to qualify him to watch the results of compositions applied to the bottoms of Her Majesty's ships; apart from the Chairman (Admiral Colomb)were two out of the three members of the Admiralty Committee on Compositions experts, and was the third member (Commander Pitt) simply nominated as a Naval Officer; why was this Committee dissolved; are the two experts who were members of the Committee still in the Service, and is the necessary precaution taken to consult them before Commander Pitt's Reports and recommendations are approved; is Commander Pitt on full pay of his rank, what do his travelling and other allowances amount to per annum, and in what Votes in the Navy Estimates do these items respectively appear; is Commander Pitt now employed in a civilian capacity; and, if so, is not Treasury sanction indispensable; does he take the place of the expert officers at the dockyards in reporting upon compositions; and how long will he be retained in his present special employment?


Commander Pitt, from constant study of compositions used afloat, has as wide a knowledge of the results of all known compositions as any man in the country, A chemist and a Naval constructor were on the Admiralty Committee on Compositions, and it was dissolved because it was no longer necessary to continue it. The members of the late Committee are still in the Service, and, if necessary, can be consulted. Commander Pitt is on half-pay, but he receives the difference between his full and half-pay—10s. a day—for the days actually employed, with subsistence allowance to cover the expense of living away from home. The payments, including travelling expenses, average £25 a month, or £300 per annum in all. He is not employed as a civilian. Provision is made under Vote 11 of the Navy Estimates for the expense of Committees and for the employment of officers on special Service connected with the Navy at large. For charges to these heads, so long as the provision is not exhausted, the sanction of the Treasury is not required. Commander Pitt, by his services and labours, has largely increased the efficiency of compositions in use in the Navy by reporting against the more costly and less durable compositions, and has thus incurred the hostility of the agents of the disused compositions.