HC Deb 04 March 1903 vol 118 cc1382-4

, in asking leave to introduce a Bill to amend the Law relating to the Naval Reserve Forces, said: The Bill is the result of the deliberations of the Committee presided over by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Berwick, and its objects are two-fold. First, to introduce a new principle into the practice of the enlistment of men for the Royal Navy proper, and secondly, to create a new reserve of men of which we have not yet had the advantage. The Committee which considered this question and on whose recommendations, the Bill was based, was a. very strong Committee, composed of naval officers, civil officials, and civilians interested in the subject, and the Bill will have the advantage of representing the views of over 100 Members of this House who were the signatories of a memorial in favour of the objects which the Bill is intended to carry out.

The Bill has three parts. The first part extends the power of employing non-continuous rating in the Navy: that is to say, it gives power to enter men in the Navy under an engagement to serve for a period not exceeding twelve years on the condition that after a given period of service in the Royal Navy they shall be liable to serve for the remainder of the term of their engagement in the Royal Fleet Reserve. The second part, with which I am sure ail hon. Members will agree, enables us to remove the limit which at present exists to the numbers of the Royal Naval Reserve and Royal Fleet Reserve. We are now limited to 30,000 in the Royal Naval Reserve, and 15,000 in Class B of the Royal Fleet Reserve. As we have now nearly reached the limit in the case of the Royal Naval Reserve we ask leave to extend the limit. The third part of the Bill enables us to enrol Royal Naval Volunteers to serve as blue-jackets, and also Royal Marine Volunteers in connection with the corps of Royal Marines. The latter will be enrolled under the Volunteer Act of 1863, with this difference, that the Admiralty will, for all the purposes of this Act, take the place of the Secretary of State.

There is only one other matter of principle to which I need refer, but it is a very important one. In pursuance of the unanimous recommendation of the Committee, the Bill proposes that Volunteers enrolled under this Act shall be liable for service in time of war in any part of the world.

If the House permits the First Reading to be taken now, the Bill will, I hope, be printed to-night and circulated immediately. It is important that the Bill should pass through its stages as soon as possible, in view of the fact that there are large Committees throughout the United Kingdom, ready to take advantage of the provisions of the measure and enlist Volunteers, provided the House of Commons think fit to sanction its passage.


asked whether the proposed increase of the limit with regard to the Royal Naval Reserve was indefinite, and whether the Bill would have any financial effect rendering an Estimate necessary.


said the limit in each case would be regulated by the Vote of the House of Commons. It was not proposed to fix an arbitrary limit, but one which could be altered by the House in every annual Vote. An estimate had been made of the financial effect of the Bill, provided the anticipations of the Admiralty as to the number of men they were likely to raise during the year were realised. He would be happy to place the estimate before the House.

"Bill to provide for the Constitution of a Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, and a Force of Royal Marine Volunteers, and otherwise amend the Law relating to His Majesty's Naval Forces; ordered to be brought in by Mr Arnold-Forster and Mr. Pretyman.