HC Deb 23 July 1900 vol 86 cc966-9


Order for Second Reading read.

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

who, in moving the Second Reading of this Bill, was very indistinctly heard, was understood to explain that the object of the Bill was to attract to the new division of the Naval Reserve men of twelve years service who hitherto had not been induced to join the Royal Naval Reserve. The Admiralty attached great value to this additional reserve, as it was hoped to obtain men of higher position, who would be able to fill the posts of chief petty officers and petty officers in the Royal Naval Reserve, and so release a number of Regular officers at present occupied with those duties. These men would get sixpence per day as a retainer. It was also proposed to reorganise the present Seamen Pensioner Reserve. This was a simple Bill, but it was believed it would provide a large additional, force.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Goschen.)


There are one or two points which occur to me. I gather that this new Reserve will not be amalgamated with the Royal Naval Reserve.




It will be left separate?




There is one other question I wish to ask. Is there any limit of ago or limit of service proposed? The words are "who have served." Is any standard of service required?


said there would be none over fifty years of age. There were many officers filling the position of chief petty officers who would be set free for active service, and it was hoped that greater efficiency of the Reserve would be secured.


But is there any limit to the time which may have elapsed since their service in the Navy? Obviously a man who served when a boy would at the age of fifty-five have very little trace of the Navy left in him.


Three years.


I trust the House will notice the significant language in the Memorandum to this Bill, and also the statement of the First Lord himself. I was greatly surprised to hear that experience has shown that few men who have served in the Navy join the present Naval Reserve, which now consists mainly of seamen of the mercantile marine and fishermen. The First Lord seems to be under the impression that he can get over this condition of things by offering to men who do not now join 6d. per day to join the Naval Reserve. Such a scheme will not overcome the prejudice of time-expired men against joining the Reserve. The First Lord in some respects is a man of sanguine temperament, but I do not believe he will get 15,000 men in the Naval Reserve for a retainer of 6d. per day. It is indeed significant that we should be told that the Royal Naval Reserve is so unpopular that the men will not join it. Is it due to the fact that when a sailor has done his twelve years in the Navy he has had enough of it, that he is disgusted with it to such an extent that he does not want to have anything more to do with it for the rest of his life? If that be so, it indicates that the conditions of employment in the Navy are so unattractive that the sailor views with, pleasure the opportunity of ceasing all connection with the Navy at the expiration of his twelve years. I would suggest that instead of offering this retainer of 6d. per day for 15,000 men the right hon. Gentleman should consider the advisability of making the Navy during, the twelve years service more popular by adding the sixpence per day to the pay of the sailor, thus increasing the interest of the men in the service while they are members of it, and perhaps stimulating among them a greater love for the Reserve when they leave the active ranks. I shall be glad to hear that there is some, reason other than those I have suggested for the men not joining the Reserve, but I shall be agreeably surprised if at the end of twelve months, as a result of this sixpence per day retainer, the First Lord, has more than 300 or 400 additional men, in the Reserve. It appears to me that the condition of things is getting so unsatisfactory and intolerable, that where once a man has left the active ranks he is. only too glad to have nothing to do with the Reserve.


speaking by the indulgence of the House, said that the fact that the great majority of men continued from their twelve years service to the twenty-two years service proved that the service was not unpopular. The reason they did not join the Royal Naval Reserve was that they knew all the work of the Reserve, they knew all the drill, and there was a reluctance on their part to go through drills and so on, which were intended rather for recruits and men who had not been through the training that sailors of the Navy had. Inquiries had been made as to the probable success of the proposal, and it was understood that this offer would be an attraction to men who had left the service. It was not expected that the 15,000 men would be obtained at once. The 15,000 was the limit, and it was hoped that it would be reached in a certain number of years.


: We have never yet made any efforts to secure the twelve years service men. Several times it has been suggested in Committee that something might be done to get these men back to the Reserve, but this is the first Bill ever placed before the House with that object. That my hon. friend is mistaken in his view about the popularity of the Navy is, I think, proved by the fact that such a very large proportion of the men, when their twelve years service expires, are only too anxious to serve the remaining term for a pension.