§ SIR FORTESCUE FLANNERY (Yorkshire, W.E., Shipley)
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty if he can state how many engine-room artificers and stokers have been induced during the current financial year to join the Navy; whether only 55 per cent, of the engine-room artificers, and only 59 per cent, of the number of the stokers, authorised by Parliament have been obtained; and whether, in view of the difficulty of obtaining proper supplies of men for these branches of the service, the conditions of employment will be revised and improved; whether the Admiralty advertised in December last for applications for assistant engineers for the Navy, distributing such advertisements throughout the various seaports for the purpose of ensuring applications; whether more than three applications were received; how many engineers were passed into the service in consequence of such advertisements; and whether any improvement in the conditions of service of engineers is contemplated.
§ THE CIVIL LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. PRETYMAN,) Suffolk, Woodbridge
Two hundred and fifty engine-room artificers and 1,566 stokers were entered between 1st April, 1900, and 16th February, 1901. On the 1st instant 97 per cent, of the engine-room artificers voted by Parliament, and 98 per cent, of the stokers, were borne. There is not any difficulty experienced in obtaining sufficient men of both these ratings on existing terms. During a great part of the year restrictions have been placed on recruiting in order to keep within the numbers voted and to ensure the entry of only specially desirable men. The Admiralty caused advertisements to be inserted in two papers only—namely, The Engineer and Engineering—in December last for candidates for assistant engineers for temporary service in the Navy. Several applications were received, but only three were accepted as suitable. These three passed the required examination and were entered in the service. No alteration of a special nature is at present contemplated in the condition of service of engineers, but with a view to any improvement which is desirable in the best interests of the Navy, these officers, in common with all others, have their conditions of service always under consideration at the Admiralty.
§ Mr. WILLIAM ALLAN (Gateshead)
I should like to ask if the failure of engine-room artificers to join is due to the nature of the test applied in the dockyards, it being gauge-making rather than practised engineering?
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
Probably the candidates are better able than the Admiralty to say what has prevented them from joining.