HC Deb 21 February 1902 vol 103 cc732-3

I do not want to dwell too long on this or any other subject, but there is one more word necessary with regard to personnel. I said that I would not refer to any controversial subjects, and I do not intend now to discuss at any length the question of the engineering branch of the Navy, because it will be raised later. But it will be of interest to hon. Members to know that a change has been made which, I believe, will be, as far as it goes, acceptable to and approved by the engineers of the Royal Navy. There is a complaint that promotion in the engineering branch is not sufficiently rapid, and that the prospect of advancement is not such as ought to attract ambitious men to that branch of the service. We are now taking one step—if only a step—to remove that disability. Three more of the highest posts open to engineers are to be created, chief inspectors of machinery. These officers will retire with the rank of rear admiral. Seven other additional posts of inspectors of machinery will be created. These ten new appointments, which will come into operation at an early date, will give some advantage in the way of accelerating promotion for this exceedingly important branch of the Navy. Questions have been asked in this House with regard to another change which has been sanctioned, and that is the transference of the control of certain parts of the mechanical department of the ship to the gunnery and torpedo lieutenants. Those who are acquainted with the interior economy of a ship will know that it is the business of those lieutenants to take charge of certain machinery above deck—electric lighting machinery, and hydraulic machinery in connection with the guns. Hitherto, the arrangement has been that they should share the control of this machinery with the engineering branch. Now, I may state, without discussing the merits or consequences of the change, that it has been decided that from the terminals of the electrical machinery and from the point where, in the hydraulic machinery, the water is delivered at high pressure, the torpedo and gunnery lieutenants shall take charge of the machinery and shall receive adequate mechanical training to qualify them to undertake the work.

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