§ COLONEL SANDYS (Lancashire, Bootle)
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty, whether it is a fact that the seamen of the Royal Naval Reserve are not kept in practice at sea in shooting with the big guns, owing to the want of a vessel in which they can be sent afloat in batches for this purpose during the suitable months of the year; and whether he will consider the question of forthwith affording facilities for this essential part of the training of Naval Reserves.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. G. J. GOSCHEN,) St. George's, Hanover Square
The first part of the hon. and gallant Member's question assumes that the difficulty of keeping seamen of the Royal Naval Reserve in practice at sea in shooting with big guns is simply due to the want of a vessel in which they can be sent afloat during certain months of the year. The hon. and gallant Gentleman should bear in mind that Naval Reserve men are allowed to select their own times of the year for drill, and avail themselves of this permission to come without prefixing 1318 the dates, while the fishermen, who form a large portion of the Reserve, come to drill mostly in the winter. Nor is shooting with big guns the only or chief duty which would fall upon the Reserve in time of war. As I have before stated, we are making progress in substituting modern guns for the more obsolete guns in the batteries, and are giving practice at sea to an increasing extent; and we hope to move forward as far as possible in that direction.