§ MR. PENN (Lewisham)
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty whether, as reported in the Times newspaper of 6th April, it is true that the engine-room complements are being reduced at the rate of 30 per cent.; whether it is intended to deprive the whole of the cruisers of the Pallas class of the services of an assistant engineer; whether the artificers in the Bellona and Barham have been reduced from six to three, the difference being made good by chief stokers; whether in the Phœbe the number of engineer officers has been decreased from four to two, 1243 and the artificers from nine to seven; whether the number of artificers in the Royal Sovereign has been reduced from 18 to 12; and whether these reductions are made by reason of the dearth of officers and artificers?
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (Lord G. HAMILTON,) Middlesex, Ealing
The statement that engine-room complements have been generally reduced by 30 per cent. is wholly untrue. A recent investigation of the requirements of this branch of the Service has resulted in a net reduction over the whole Fleet of 4 per cent.; but this reduction has been generally confined to the older ships, there being an increase in the complements of the modern ships. The reduction proposed in certain grades are approximately as stated, it being the intention to substitute chief stokers for engine-room artificers where experience shows that the alteration can be beneficially effected. The general scheme of engine-room complements has not been thoroughly revised for some time. The present suggestions are entirely based on their own intrinsic merit and the most recent experience, and have been in no way influenced by the supposed deficiency or redundancy of any of the existing lists of officers, artificers, or stokers.