HC Deb 20 October 1899 vol 77 cc373-5

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty whether his attention has been given to the large amount of time expended in the Navy over trifling details of uniform, and to the punishments inflicted on the men for failure in exact uniformity in their dress; whether, at inspections of the men by admirals and captains, the officers find it necessary to have with them a tape measure in order to measure the tops of caps, the height of tapes, the position of badges, and other details, to within the eighth of an inch; whether clothes supplied to the men by Admiralty depôts, out of those made for and supplied to the Admiralty by contractors, are repeatedly found on the inspection of the men clothed therein not to be uniform with the regulation pattern; if so, why were these clothes not rejected by the officials appointed to inspect them on their delivery by the contractors; whether there is one sealed pattern of the men's clothes, or more than one; whether, if more than one, these patterns are uniform with each other, or whether they vary; whether there are at Portsmouth three sealed patterns of the same clothes, each varying from the other two; whether a first-class petty officer, who is moved from a ship, where one pattern is followed, to Whale Island, and is then moved back again to another ship, has to alter the position on his arm of his petty officer's badge, on each change, so as to satisfy his new officers; whether the Admiralty orders frequent changes in the men's uniform of at rifling character, each entailing alterations; and how many in number such alterations have been during the year ending 30th September last; and whether he will consider the propriety of abstaining from making changes at short intervals by order of the Admiralty, of taking steps to secure that clothes issued to the men from Admiralty depôts are sufficiently uniform to pass inspection by admirals and captains, of seeing that all sealed patterns of the same clothing exactly agree with each other, and of adopting such measures as may diminish the annoyance, punishment, and expenditure of time now arising from differing standards, and from very precise insistence on exactitude in small details.

THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. G. J. GOSCHEN,) St. George's, Hanover Square

(1) No. (2) The regulations are precise, and if it is desired to ascertain whether they are strictly complied with a measure of some kind must be used. (3) When deliveries are made not strictly in accord with the uniform regulations they are rejected. (4) There are about forty sets of sealed patterns of seamen's clothing. They were all examined by one board of officers, and there is no reason to suppose that they are not identical. (5) There are three sets of sealed patterns at Portsmouth as stated, but there is no reason to suppose that they are not identical. (6) The uniform regulations, which define the position of badges, apply to men wherever serving. (7) No. There have been only five alterations in the regulations for the period mentioned. They were of a trifling character, capable of being done by the men themselves. (8) In all cases where alterations are made, the immediate adoption of which would necessitate any expense to the men, directions are given for them to be allowed to come into force gradually.