§ MR. R. G. WEBSTER (St. Pancras, E.)
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty—(1) whether the total number of men in the Estimates for the Navy are adequate to place in full commission all the ships in the Royal Navy, and, if not, what is the deficit; (2) what is the latest strength of the Naval Reserve; (3) if they are mainly recruited from a few naval ports in the south of England; and, (4) if some short service system could be devised for the personnel of one-third of Her Majesty's Fleet by which a thoroughly competent and strong body of reserved sailors numbering 100,000 might be provided at a very slightly additional cost?
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. G. J. GOSCHEN,) St. George's, Hanover Square
With regard to the first paragraph of the hon. Member's Question, I have nothing to add to the Statement which I made on the Navy Estimates of March 9. In answer to the second question, the latest strength of the Royal Naval Reserve, including officers, is 25,113. The answer to the third question is a decided negative. In reply to the fourth, if the hon. Member will draw up a scheme by which a thoroughly competent reserve numbering over 100,000 might be provided at a very slightly additional cost without impairing the efficiency of the regular Navy, I shall be obliged to him and will look into it.
§ MR. WEBSTER
Do I understand that if a scheme as indicated were drawn up the right hon. Gentleman would consider it favourably?
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY
I said if it did not impair the efficiency of the regular Navy—that is, by diminishing the number of men or putting them under shorter service. If a scheme were drawn up I would 1314 certainly look into it, and I should be very glad if I found the details of a practical nature.
§ *MR. T. C. H. HEDDERWICK (Wick Burghs)
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty—(1) whether he is aware that the number of men in Orkney connected with the Naval Reserve is about 130, and that these men have to proceed either to Wick in Caithness, or to Lerwick, in Shetland, in order to put in their month's drill; and (2) whether, having regard to these facts and to the consideration that greater facilities for drill would tend largely to augment the strength of the Naval Reserve in Orkney, he will cause a separate Naval Reserve station to be established at Kirk wall, or at least consent to station a Naval Reserve vessel at Kirk wall for two or three months in winter?