§ 1. Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £167,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the expense of Educational Services, which, will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1909."
§ MR. BARNES (Glasgow, Blackfriars)
said he rose to move a Resolution in his name, or rather one of two in his name. He was told he could not move to reduce the salary of the First Lord on this Vote, but to reduce the Vote, which he now did. He hoped he would be able to show that the system of training which had been introduced into the Navy, and was covered by this Vote, was a system which was costly to the nation, and to the parents and guardians of the students, that it was undemocratic, and therefore inefficient. He had no desire to speak about naval ratings generally, or the changes which had been made in the Navy consequent upon the change from 1684 sail to steam, for they were outside the scope of this Motion. Neither did he want to go into the matter which had been alluded to as to troubles in high places in the Navy, although he believed this particular scheme had contributed somewhat to them. He did not suggest for a moment that anything of that kind could justify those troubles, and he cordially echoed the evident sense of the House as shown at Question-time that some steps might be taken or means found whereby that sense of discipline and loyalty which was so necessary in all grades, and most of all at the top, should be somehow reintroduced into the Navy. He regretted that matters of naval administration should be left so much to the experts. He agreed that the expert was a valuable man, and in his own particular sphere they ought to have great respect for his opinion, but this Vote covered a matter which he submitted was of infinitely greater importance; it covered the personnel of the Navy, and however important it might be to have good ships and good guns, and a well-equipped Navy, after all, the men of the Navy were the most important factor; and as to the conditions necessary for the training of a proper staff in the Navy, he submitted that the House was not only quite as competent to form a judgment as the export, but, having regard to the fact that hon. Members had come into contact with all phases of life more or less outside the Navy, they were even more competent to form a judgment than the expert. The scheme to which he took exception was a scheme for what was called the interchangeability of officers, a scheme which they were told had for its object the training of officers to be admirals and engineers, either or both, and also the training of a special class of men called mechanicians for the displacement of another class called artificers, who up to now had been obtained from the workshops of the country, and, so far as he knew, had satisfactorily performed their duties. The scheme covered five ratings in the Navy—the executive officers, the marine officers, the engineer officers, the artificers, and the stokers. They might put the marine and engineer officers together, and reduce the number to four. He wanted to show that the scheme affected all those grades, excepting the executive 1685 officers, in a prejudicial way. The scheme had jockeyed the engineer officer out of the service for all practical purposes; it had reduced the artificer to a mere engineering cobbler, and while leaving the great mass of the stoker class underpaid and scurvily treated, as they always had been, had attempted to bribe a small percentage of stokers to leave their fellows on the chance—the off-chance it was—of getting promotion. It set up immense and costly machinery, colleges, and ships, to train a class of men for the Navy who at present were obtainable from outside, and trained far better than the Navy, in his judgment, could train them. The scheme was first promulgated in December, 1902, at a time when Parliament was not sitting and when no effective criticism could be offered, but criticism was offered very soon afterwards. In March, 1903, on the statement of the Secretary to the Admiralty, a debate took place which was initiated by Mr. Gibson Bowles on a Motion for reconsideration, which was seconded by Sir John Gorst; and on that occasion two distinguished men took part in the debate. One was the late Secretary to the Admiralty, Mr. Edmund Robertson, now translated to another place, who said that the effect of the scheme would be—The complete exclusion of all the unprivileged classes from the Navy, which all paid for and which belonged not to the Admiralty or to naval officers, but to the people of the country at large.The late Prime Minister, the late Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, was no less emphatic in his hostility to the scheme, and said, as regarded positions which had up till then been open to brains and ability—That those positions would be closed in respect of 80 or 90 per cent, of the population of the country.That was just the conclusion he himself had reached as the result of inquiries, and he wanted to submit to the House that the Government in 1903 were not committed to the scheme. The Douglas Committee three years ago reported that the Government were not committed to the scheme, which was only then in an experimental stage. The Secretary to the Admiralty two years ago adopted that report, and therefore up to then, and as far as he knew, right up to now, the Government were not committed to 1686 the scheme except in an experimental manner. He brought the matter forward not in any narrow spirit of trade interest, although he ought to say that those with whom he was associated in trade matters were affected in an adverse way by the scheme. He might also say that he had been led to inquire into the scheme because of that fact, but he had brought it forward not because his particular trade was affected, but as a matter of broad public policy. He hoped he had said enough to show that the scheme was not a thing of antiquity; it had not any deep roots in the social life or habits of thought of the people, but it was contrary to the habits or thought of the people, and up to now it had not been accepted by the Government as a settled policy. He had said that the scheme was costly, and he would like to state, in the first place, that the statement under the Vote was a gross underestimate of the real facts. He did not mean to say that it was wilfully misleading, but it was misleading nevertheless. It did not include all the items that were, as a matter of fact, items of expenditure in connection with the scheme. Nothing appeared in this Estimate or any other Estimate as to the cost of Osborne. He believed Osborne was taken over by the nation as a gift and in contravention of the will of the late Queen. And it had been taken over holus bolus for the purposes of this scheme without a halfpenny being charged for it. Then let them take Dartmouth College; there they had a splendidly equipped college, but he had never seen a halfpenny charged for it. It might be charged to the Public Accounts Fund, but it certainly did not appear in this Vote, or, so far as he knew, in any other Navy Estimates. Then there were three or four ships like the "Indus" at Portsmouth, the "Fisgeard," and the "Tinados," and there might be altogether ten ships at the very least for the purposes of this scheme. They had the cost of the equipment of all these ships, with scientific tools and apparatus, but so far as he knew, not a halfpenny had appeared in the Estimates. But worse still, there were many men engaged now in training—or torturing—stokers and endeavouring to make fitters and machine-men out of them, and a great many men for the purposes of this scheme were removed from their own 1687 duties in the Navy. The cost of them was spread all over the Estimates, from one end to the other—every-where but in the place where they ought to be. The men used for the purposes of this scheme on the "Indus" alone amounted to an annual cost of £3,210, and not a halfpenny of it appeared in the £167,000 they were now discussing. So far as the cost to the nation was concerned, it was almost impossible to say what that cost was, but he did not put that forward as the main consideration at all. He now came to the cost to the parents and guardians of the students, which brought him to the kernel of the system, and he found in the Estimates for last year an item called "Appropriations in Aid," amounting to £56,000. That was in respect to rather less than 800 students, he believed. It came out to about £75 per boy of twelve years of age, in order to equip him as an officer of the Navy. What was the effect of it upon the various classes in the community who desired to send their sons into the Navy? What was the effect of it upon Members of this House? He did not suppose that any of his colleagues of the Labour Party could afford to send their sons into the Navy. He did not know one who could pay £75 a year, plus cost of outfit, pocket-money, and incidental outlays. Every one of the Labour Members was therefore barred from sending his boys into the Navy in the hope of their becoming officers. He supposed the same might be said of the Irish Members, and probably of the bulk of hon. Members opposite. He maintained that beyond a sprinkling here and there, with perhaps those on the front benches, Members of the House were excluded from sending their boys into the Navy, except as fetchers and carriers to the powers that be. If it was the case with Members of the House, it was much more so with those outside. It was quite obvious that the late Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman was quite within the mark when he said that this scheme excluded between 80 and 90 per cent, of the population of this country from sending their boys into the Navy. What was the effect of that? It narrowed the field of selection from which we could draw these men; and therefore, in so far as operative, it was to some extent 1688 the cause, or a contributing cause of the present trouble in the Navy. He knew that brains were not always found with money; nor did he say that brains and money did not sometimes go together. He did not for a moment say that a man might have money and no brains, or that a man might have brains and no money. There was not a great deal of difference in a lot of people gathered together. But there was a great deal of difference between them so far as bringing together all classes and giving everyone something of a fair show of equality of opportunity in reaching these places in the Navy. He suggested that the new system in the Navy went in the direction of taking from those who had little and giving to those who had a surfeit. What was the system that was displaced? He was speaking now of the officer class, and not of engineers and marines. The system, so far back as he could go, was that executive-officer rank was only gained in the Navy at an early age by nomination—by what might be called artificial selection. The boy only entered the Navy by way of place, power, and influence of some kind. He did not allege anything against the rich people or against the poor. The poor would do exactly the same. He meant to say that there had been a certain class in the community in a position of place and monopoly, and that position of place and monopoly had always been used in the interest of their class. It had always been so. Therefore, he pointed out that the system had been that executive-officer rank had only been thus gained in the Navy. On the other hand there had been a system by which officers of the lower deck and engineering officers entered when their education had been more or less completed, when they reached sixteen or seventeen years of age, and therefore when some sort of sensible test could be applied to them. A test could not be applied to a boy twelve years old, he could only be taken by some sort of favour. But a character test could be applied to a lad of sixteen, and that had been applied in the case of engineering officers in the Navy. Moreover, there had been an infusion of young men from the dockyard work shops and schools who had gone to Keyham and into the naval service as the result of scholarships. These young 1689 men had to pass through the dockyard workshop, and many of those who came out with distinction were the sons of men with moderate means, and some of the highest places in the Navy had been reached by sharp lads, sons of working-class parents who had passed out of the dockyard workshops. Some of the makers of our modern Navy had come from that class. The late Chief Constructor in the dockyards, Sir William White, the late Chief Engineer, and the present Director-General were dockyard boys. Now, what had taken place? While retaining the dockyard workshops and schools in the dockyards—for which there were, he believed, some four or five thousand pounds on the Estimates this year—from which good men were obtained, they were closing the avenue by which these could enter the Navy as engineer officers. Why had that been done? No suggestion had been made that the engineer officers had not been efficient so far. Nothing of the sort had been stated, but they had grown up under a system under which all the power had been reserved to the executive officers. He knew that they could not have two executive officers—one on the bridge and the other in the engine-room. But the engineers had grown up under a system not only under which executive power had been reserved to the bridge man, but under which the engineer officer had been made to feel a sense of inferiority, and had been treated—or thought he was treated—as of social as well as financial inferiority. Instead of bridging that over by making the executive rank open to the engineer officer or those of his class, the same barrier which had hitherto been placed against him gaining executive rank had now been raised against him, under the new system, of gaining engineering rank. Competition had been abolished, the entry of engineer boys of comparatively mature age had been abolished, and in place of that they had immaturity, patronage, and class interest, and all that these involved. What was the reason for that? He found that in the Memorandum of 1902 it was stated that the Admiralty wanted—To bring back that homogeneity in the Navy which existed in the time of sails,and that that was to be done by—First, a common training, and common try, and common instruction to all who 1690 were to command the ship; and, second, by inuring the naval officer to the sea from the earliest possible moment.They might as well talk about bringing sails back to the Navy altogether as bringing back the conditions that prevailed under sails. Sails had entirely disappeared from the Navy, and almost completely from the mercantile marine. What had the engineer to do with the command of the ship? He did not want to command the ship, and he could not do it if he wanted. They were told that the new system involved interchangeability and standardisation. It seemed to him that those long words were mere cloaks for reactionary humbug, merely attempts to cover up educational nakedness by long-winded phrases. What had an engineer to do with sea character? As a matter of fact many of the engineers on all the great liners were men who came out of the locomotive departments of engineering works, and who in many cases never caught a glimpse of the sea till they had reached man's estate. The object of the new system was not to give the men a sea character but an Admiralty character, so that they could be relied upon to say "ditto" to anything that Admirals or hon. Gentlemen on the front benches might say. Let the House take this idea of interchangeability. A lad of twelve years of age was drafted from school into the Navy on the understanding that he might become an Admiral or an engineer, or both or neither. They stuffed his head with gunnery, navigation, international law, engineering in all its branches, hydraulics, electricity, and mechanical science generally, up to the age of twenty. At the age of twenty he began to specialise. One went to engineering, more or less by compulsion; he would not go by choice; and another went to the bridge. It seemed to him that it was impossible to get a trained engineer in that way. It was a crazy idea. They could standardise or interchange the different parts of a motor car; they could standardise a crank-pin; but they could not interchange a crank-pin with a piston rod. It was just as absurd to try to interchange a captain with an engineer as it would be to interchange a captain with a chaplain, or a powder-monkey with a printer. Let the House consider the changes constantly taking place in engineering and in naval science. Some 1691 of those lads specialised at the age of, twenty—one went as captain and the other as engineer, the idea being that in the event of need afterwards, a man might suddenly be converted from an engineer into a captain or from a commander into an engineer. If the captain got killed the engineer was to be called out of the stokehole to go on the bridge or vice versa. The whole thing was preposterous. Engineering was constantly getting more intricate and complicated, so that an engineer on shore only followed part of it. How could a man who had been at sea for ten years, even supposing he had specialised, be expected to make himself acquainted with all the developments of engineering science as well as naval science? A race of giants would be needed to carry out a scheme of that kind; and the methods by which these boys of twelve were selected and trained were not methods which would produce giants. Far from these boys being above the average ability they would be below it. They were taken away from other boys destined for other callings, separated from the life of the nation, and made a class apart, with all the slackness that such separation involved. They would have no idea as to what calling they would follow in life. They would be thrust into a calling, not from the free choice which a boy might make. He had up till now spoken of the scheme as it affected the top of the profession; he wanted now to come a little lower down in the scale to the engine-room artificers. The man at the top would be a jack of all trades and a master of none. Therefore one would have thought that provision would have been made for better men a little lower down so that it would be an engineer who would attend to the practical work that had to be done while the superior person was strutting about in gold lace and sword. They had not got a better man. The Navy had the best engineer operatives to draw from in the whole world. He had been to America and to various continental nations and on board their ships, and he found engineers out of the British workshops in positions of great responsibility and power not only as artificers but as engineer officers in the American Navy. These men were obtained by our Navy at no cost at all. These men had put in their time in the workshops and the technical colleges. Many of them were men of natural 1692 aptitude, and the men who came out of our workshops and technical colleges were the best operatives in the world. These men were got for nothing. They were invited to join, they came freely for the Service. Workpeople had struggled to give their lads this trade at a cost for each which he estimated at from £150 to £200, and they had been placed at the disposal of the country. They joined the Navy at twenty-two years of age and there were now in the Navy some 4,000 of them. He did not know what fault could be found with them. They had been the subject of commendation in high quarters for their ability and loyalty and discipline. The only reason he had heard for making a change was one which was incautiously disclosed by a Member above the gangway last year. "The object of the scheme," he said, "was to get free from the outside pressure of trade unions." Here was the same spirit as was manifested all through; instead of a disposition to rectify grievances, they found simply a bull-headed assertion of class rights and a determination to regard these men as mere dumb inarticulate fetchers and carriers to the powers that be or that this scheme would make them so. The artificers were to be superseded by two classes. The first of these was the boy artificers' class. The Admiralty was to train boys to take the places of the artificers, or some of them. Possibly a boy might be so trained if he were taken young enough, though the chances were against his being made as efficient as some one trained outside, because his experience would not be so wide. These young men who joined at twenty-two years of age bad got their varied experiences, and there was a spirit of comradeship among them that dispersed that experience. The Admiralty, however, had a perfect right to train a boy, but the money spent for this purpose was sheer waste, as the proper material could be had without any such expenditure. As to the new class to be trained as mechanicians, he observed that it was, generally speaking, impossible to make men without previous experience of engineering mechanicians at twenty-six or twenty-eight years of age. In the "Indus" last year 127 men were under training. As far as he could gather, cost, in one way and another, near 1693 £30,000 to train them. For 1,000 mechanicians and 1,000 boy artificers the cost of training would amount to nearly £1,000,000. This money was not only wasted, but involved the Navy in risks which ought not to be run. For efficiency as an engineer and mechanic, not only manual skill, but the intuitive faculties, which only came to development in the formative period of the mind, were required. A man in the mercantile marine before he could go to sea, and do full duty, must serve four years as a mechanic, and, before getting leave to compete in his first examination for competence to take charge of engines, must serve at least a year at sea; and if it was necessary for the mercantile marine, how much the more necessary should it be for the Navy. He was strengthened in his opinion by something that had recently arisen. In the "Irresistible" recently one of these men opened a certain valve-box which admitted water, in ignorance that another valve was open under the water-line, and the result was that the ship narrowly escaped foundering. It had been said that the mechanician class would give opportunities of advancement to the stoker. The statement he believed to be an afterthought. The scheme could not affect more than 10 percent, of the stokers. At the outside only 2,000 or 3,000 men in the stoker rating could be advanced, and this over a number of years. Not more than one-tenth of those could be advanced in any one year, and this was an infinitesimal fraction of 30,000, which was their total number. He was not against stokers' advancement. On the contrary, he was in favour of it, and, in conjunction with others, he had pointed out to the Admiralty positions to which they could be promoted and which did not involve technical knowledge or manual skill. But the stokers wanted more pay, and they were entitled to it, instead of which they were being foisted off with the mere dregs of this wretched class scheme. He was very glad to have had an opportunity of putting this matter before the House, and in conclusion he would express the view that the scheme was one which put place and power into the hands of people with money, and prevented people without money from obtaining those positions to which they had a perfect right if they were properly qualified to 1694 fill them. He believed this had been the cause of a good deal of friction already—friction which was a source of weakness and discredit to the Navy at the present moment. He hoped that hon. Gentlemen opposite would assist hon. Members on the Labour Benches by seeing to it that their public posts were not preserved as they had hitherto been, for people who belonged to the classes who had money and position, and who had the ear of those in authority. He hoped that hon. Members would assist them in seeing that so far as was humanly possible these positions not only in the Navy, but in all the public services, were left open to brain and ability, wherever brain and ability were to be found. He had merely touched the fringe of the subject, had merely peeped into a vast region which would yet have to be explored by those who wanted reform of our administrative departments. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty would give attention to what might be said in this discussion. He could assure him that he himself meant business in this matter. He wanted an inquiry by some independent body of men, and not men in the Navy. He was not going to be palmed off by some report which the right hon. Gentleman had received from the Admiralty, or from any officer connected with the Navy. He wanted an independent inquiry into the actual working out of this scheme by men who had a practical knowledge of these matters. If he did not get that, he should certainly divide the House in order to see how many there were present who would place efficiency before anything else, and who would see to it, so far as it could be done, that everybody had fair play and no favour.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That a sum, not exceeding £166,900, be granted for the said Service."—(Mr. Burnes.)
§ MR. BELLAIRS (Lynn Regis)
said he rose to support the hon. Member for the Blackfriars Division, who had attacked this scheme in a speech of conspicuous ability. The hon. Member and himself were in the same difficulty in appealing to the First Lord of the Admiralty and in 1695 attacking this principle of interchange-ability; for the House well knew the First Lord of the Admiralty himself was a conspicuous example of interchangeability, having accepted three most important posts in the Government in succession. But their very point was this, that they were not all geniuses; that they had to deal with the average officer. They all knew that the right hon. Gentleman had extensive political merits, and that he was equal to almost any task he undertook. In the scheme which the hon. Member had attacked, they had first of all to consider the motives with which it was introduced. They knew that, at the time it was brought forward, by a process of discreditable rigging, nearly every pressman who would write up the scheme was in full possession of all its details.
I think the inception of the scheme is rather ancient history. What we are dealing with is the scheme itself.
But not the past history. The discussion is upon the scheme of education, as applicable to the Estimates of 1908–9.
§ MR. BELLAIRS
said he would confine himself to this year's Estimate, and pass on to the fact that into this scheme there had been no inquiry of any kind. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Croydon, when he was Secretary to the Admiralty, was asked whether any of the admirals at sea had been consulted as to the scheme of education that was being discussed. The right hon. Gentleman's answer on that occasion was that there was no necessity to consult them, and that the Board of Admiralty, by their constitution, were perfectly competent to construct such a scheme without consulting any of the sea officers. It was perfectly true they had that right, because all those officers were gaining experience at sea, and sooner or later would have to administer the scheme on being recruited by the Board of Admiralty. The right 1696 hon. Gentleman the Member for Croydon had only a few months before stated that the Sea Lords of the Admiralty had no time to consider the matter; he had stated that in the House. If they had no time to consider it, surely it was the right thing to have an inquiry before a scheme of such importance was introduced. Lord Esher had stated that the facts had all been adumbrated by the First Sea Lord before even they arrived at the Board of Admiralty. Therefore, the scheme of the Board of Admiralty was the scheme of the First Sea Lord. This was the scheme which was flung at the head of the country, as his hon. friend had pointed out, on Christmas Day, 1902. They had to consider the state of affairs when the scheme was introduced. Was there at that time, anything wrong with the Navy? As the hon. Gentleman had pointed out, the engineers were the best possible engineers, and they had the knowledge that the Navy stood in need of reform. He himself was at that time writing articles in The Times, and in magazines, urging reform; and in reply to those articles, Lord Selborne gave his own impressions about the state of the Navy at that time, and said on the authority of the admirals, captains, and seamen, that they were unanimously of opinion that the training of the officers and men could hardly be improved, except in matters of detail. That was the opinion of the First Lord who had sanctioned these enormous and stupendous changes. In his Memorandum of April, 1902, Lord Selborne reaffirmed that opinion. The reforms which naval officers were advocating at that time were the improvement of gunnery and of seamanship by greater concentration upon those subjects; but he did not see how they were going to improve either gunnery or seamanship by taking away a number of officers to spend 30 per cent, of their time in the engine-room. A lad entered the training ship at thirteen years of age and the Navy at seventeen-and-three-quarter years of age. He spent a large amount of his time in learning engineering, and when he got afloat he had to spend 30 per cent, of his time down in the engine-room. He was thus taken away from gunnery, and he certainly would not be improved either in gunnery o seamanship in that way. The change 1697 were described by Sir John Fisher himself as "stupendous." They were described by Lord Selborne as amounting to a "revolution." They had since heard them described by Lord Tweed-mouth, the former First Lord of the Admiralty in the present Government, as "experimental." In those three words they got the description of these enormous changes—"stupendous," "revolutionary," "experimental." Yet, though the changes were thus described, they had been unable hitherto to get any inquiry. His hon. friend had said he intended to go to a division unless hope was held out that an inquiry of some description would be instituted. They did not wish to tie down the right hon. Gentleman in the least as to what was to be the form of the inquiry. He would be perfectly satisfied if the Government would state that the inquiry was to be an impartial one. He would be quite willing that it should be secret if they would guarantee that it was impartial; but he claimed that in order to avoid all these conceptions which were afloat amongst officers, all those criticisms which they were constantly having, and which spoiled discipline in the Navy, they ought to have an inquiry of some sort. In the service there were three great branches—the engineers, who dealt with the engines; the executive branch, who dealt with the ship; and the marines. Each branch was absolutely distinct and separate. The engineer was down below, and it took four or five minutes to descend to the place where he worked. His whole training was one of the ear, and the acuteness of his hearing was brought to such a pitch that he could at once tell whether anything was wrong with the machinery. The men on deck had external work—sometimes taking observations of the heavenly bodies among their other duties. He had always to use his eyes, while the engineer worked by the ear. In the marines, they had a body of men who had been described by Lord St. Vincent as the "sheet anchor" of England, and whose discipline was even finer than that of the blue-jackets. The upshot of the policy of the Admiralty, with these disputes in regard to the officers, must ultimately and inevitably result in the disbandment of the corps. That was 1698 certainly borne out by the evidence of many witnesses. There was not an Army officer in the House who would not bear him out in saying that, when they came to try the scheme and made the executive officers wear the uniform of the Navy, and go as temporary specialists in charge of the Marines, they would not be real officers of the corps, and the inevitable result would be that a fine body of about 17,000 men would be reduced by about 3,000, and ultimately disbanded altogether. The argument had been used that the same class of men formerly worked the motive power as worked the guns, but when they had men below deck the two classes were separate and distinct. The seamen were on deck and could control the guns as well as the masts and sails, which they had to work according as the wind varied, and in order to bring the guns to bear. Therefore, there was then every reason for an interchange between the guns' crews and the men working the motive power, but now there was no necessity for the slightest interchange. The men down in the engine room were not exposed to shot and shell at all. The whole history of modern warfare proved that they were completely protected by the protective deck. The only casuality that could come to them was if the ship sank, and then the question did not arise whether they wanted to reinforce the motive power. He passed to some of the arguments which were used last year, and the year before, by advocates of the scheme on the front benches, both of which he regretted to say were more or less responsible. The argument was used that the executive class of deck officer absorbed the navigation branch. They did. There was every reason for absorbing the navigation branch. They had to navigate and handle the ship in precisely the same way as the executive branch did their work on the bridge and on deck. They were subject to be shot in action, and they wanted other men to relieve them. The work was seamanship, and was exactly similar work to that which the executive officers were always performing, and they had sooner or later to absorb them. There was no parallel whatever between the executive deck officers absorbing the navigation branch and the deck officers 1699 absorbing the engineer branch and becoming engineers. Then it was also said that they had gunnery and torpedo specialists, and there was no reason why they should not have executive officers, not only for gunnery and torpedo work, but for engineering work, in the same way. But did his hon. friends who used that argument realise what gunnery and torpedo work was? To be a torpedo specialist was as a drop in the ocean, compared with being a first class engineer. The first class engineer had the training of a lifetime. All executive officers had to know gunnery and torpedo. The only difference was that gunnery and torpedo specialists went through a more advanced course. Not only that, but the gunnery and torpedo specialist remained a seaman, and did watch-keeping duties, so that the case of the engineer was totally different. They would not be able to bring the engineer on deck to take watch-keeping duties because he would be attending to his engine room duties. Then, finally, it was said to be extremely hard lines that under the old scheme an engineer commander could not command a ship. His hon. friend had dealt with that point pretty fully. The engineer was an engineer. The command of a ship was a totally distinct thing. He did not feel any grievance that he could not be King of England, and he did not think naval officers had felt it a grievance that their warlike training and their knowledge of armaments prevented them from becoming Archbishop of Canterbury. The profession of engineering and the profession of commanding a ship were as distinct as the profession of armaments and the duties of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The hon. Member for Fareham said last year that if an officer did not show an aptitude for commanding a ship at any time it was obvious that he would not get a command. But how were they going to find out? In answer to a Question the Admiralty stated that the temporary engineer specialist for the executive branch remained an engineer for about fourteen years and would then revert as commander, to command a ship if necessary. How were they going to find out whether such a man after fourteen years work in the engine room was fit to command a ship? Pre- 1700 sumably the hon. Member for Fareham would put him in charge of a "Dreadnought" and find out by experience, and if his boat was lost would put up to his memory a tablet with the inscription: "He was found unfit to command a ship at a cost of £4,000,000 to the taxpayer." The Secretary to the Admiralty in 1906 said the sole reason for the introduction of the scheme was that there was a want of unity between the three branches of the service. He absolutely denied that statement. He had never heard of want of unity between the marines and the executive branch, and as regarded the engineers it was enormously exaggerated. It had never interfered with the relations in the ward room mess or the gun room mess. They had grievances, but that was not a reason for doing away with them altogether, but for patiently inquiring into the grievances and remedying them. It was not a reason for revolutionising a great service by what had officially been described as a stupendous revolutionary experiment. As a matter of fact he knew it was the intention in connection with this scheme to dish the engineering agitation which was subscribed to by about sixty Members of Parliament. Many of the points which they contended for were legitimate grievances. There were the questions of pay and promotion, and these could have been met without any revolutionary experiment. He had heard that by this scheme they made 500 marine officers available for watch-keeping duties. But they did not do it by this scheme, though it was perfectly simple to do, and it was being done now. The Admiralty were wisely making much more use of marine officers and giving them executive duties to do in their spare time. In regard to artificers, they were making three classes. They would have the boy artificers, the skilled recruits, and the stoker mechanicians. These three classes were to do one job. Yet they had introduced a scheme for the sake of unity of the service by which they suppressed three totally distinct branches and had one class to do three distinct jobs, viz., handling the ships, handling the engines, and handling the troops. For these they created one class, and under the very same scheme they did away 1701 with the system of doing the engine-room watch-keeping duties by the artificer and introduced two other classes—stoker mechanics and boy artificers. Were they going to increase the unity of the service by that method? They dissatisfied the artificers who were satisfied before the scheme was introduced, and they introduced an inefficient class of stoker mechanicians who would before the scheme was very much older be responsible, he was confident, for many other disasters besides that of the "Irresistible." His hon. friend had referred to the system of entry, and, as he had pointed out, there was a system of nomination for the executive branch, but for the other classes, marines and engineers, they had open competition. All that open competition was swept away. The Navy was divorced from the schools of the country. Only those who educated boys under thirteen would now supply officers. They cut them off from the technological schools, the public schools, and the grammar schools of the country by this scheme. Then they gave an education in the colleges, which his hon. friend very much understated, because he merely gave them the fees for education. The amount which the parent had to pay was from £550 to £600 for four years, and he had to provide the uniform at the end of the four years. When the scheme was introduced The Times described it as a democratic scheme under which either the cook's son or the duke's son could present himself at the common avenue of entry. There were some millionaires in that House, but he did not believe they paid their cooks enough to enable them to put their sons into the Navy at that cost. They did not make the scheme democratic by giving a common avenue of entry. They had a common avenue of entry into Heaven, but St. Peter was at the gate exercising the power of selection. They had been told it was more difficult for a rich man to enter Heaven than to pass through the eye of a needle. It was harder now for a poor man to get his son into the Navy for any one of the three branches than for a "Dreadnought" to pass through the eye of a needle. St. Vincent, one of the greatest Admirals we had ever had, who was so poor that he had to mend is own boots, and the parson's son, 1702 Nelson, had to present themselves at the common avenue of entry, but they could not possibly get up this avenue. That was what was given to the country as a democratic scheme, but there was nothing democratic about it from beginning to end. Lord Tweedmouth, when First Lord of the Admiralty, said that what the Navy needed was a period of rest. That was so; but periods of rest were also periods of inquiry. They were not asking the right hon. Gentleman to change the scheme, but they were asking for an impartial inquiry into the scheme itself. It was not a scheme which affected the present, and they were asking the right hon. Gentleman to inquire into the scope and effect of the scheme so that they might know the position some years hence. No nation had copied us in this matter, and the only other Navy which had such a scheme was the American, in which it had been a failure. The Minister responsible said the artificers would be the future engineers. The very Admiral who was responsible, Admiral Evans, had issued a Report commenting in the strongest terms on the inefficiency of this department of the Navy. ["No."] If any hon. Member questioned that he could give the actual quotation from Admiral Evans' Report. At the bottom of the scheme was the idea of early entry and early training in responsibility. To show how absolutely they had gone away from the ideas of Sir John Fisher and his colleagues he would read to the House what they said as to the merits of early training in responsibility. He had in his hand a document labelled "Private and Confidential," issued by the Admiralty, containing portions of articles on entry and training of officers, men and boys in the Navy, but there was nothing confidential in it. It stated—It is a known and conclusive fact that never in the history of the Navy were better officers produced than when the midshipman on entry into the service went straight to sea at twelve or thirteen years of age. They became men instead of remaining boys, as is the case at present when herded together as a mass of boys in a training-ship or college. When thus distributed throughout the Fleet on entry they received far more individual attention and training from their captains and officers, and from the moment they stepped on board they became officers habituated to command, and ceased to be schoolboys ordered about by inferiors.1703Shore-going people cannot realise the immense advantage (permeating the whole afterlife) of the system of a lad of twelve or thirteen years of age being thrust at once into a position of command, and having to accept responsibility, and thus acquiring, almost with his mother's milk, the alertness and resource which gave us Nelson.The same document went on to say:—The most frightful error ever committed was raising the age of entry of midshipmen, when, with all the teachings of history before us, and the magnificent traditions of hundreds of years of our great service, we aped continental systems of naval education and pandered to the headmasters of public schools by departing from the magnificent practical custom of our forefathers, which gave us our Nelsons and made boys of twelve and thirteen take the responsibilities of command, with the result of imbibing those habits of nerve, decision, and command which gave us our great sea victories.And what had they done? The Admiralty had adoped a scheme which sent a boy to sea after he was seventeen and a half years of age and gave him responsibility for the first time at that age. As a matter of fact they had travelled right away from where the Admiralty first intended to travel. They now entered the boys young, and in order to give them some sort of apology for mechanical knowledge as engineers they kept them in the training college up to the age of seventeen, and then they were given six months in a training ship, where no responsibility was incurred. In conclusion he appealed to hon. Members to support them in their very moderate demand for an inquiry into this scheme. It might take a thousand years to form a State, and only one hour might lay it in the dust, and what was true of a State was equally true of the Navy.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRRALITY (Mr. MCKENNA,) Monmouthshire, ALTY N.
said the hon. Member for King's Lynn had stated the case against the present scheme with very considerable ability. But before he went into the details of the scheme he desired to deal with the charge of the hon. Member for the Blackfriars division that only persons with money and able to reach the ear of those in authority could get their sons into the Navy. What was exactly the system under the new scheme? The son of any person, no matter what his rank or position in the world, had a 1704 right to be examined by the Interview Committee. There was no distinction of class among the candidates. He attended at an interview and heard the kind of questions put to the candidates, and he could say that these questions were entirely directed to discovering the boy's suitability for the Navy, his general intelligence, and how far he had assimilated his education at school. After the interview the committee divided the candidates into various classes, and laid their report before the First Lord of the Admiralty. He did not say it was binding upon the First Lord in every case to select only the boys who were in the top class, for there might be an exceptional boy, here and there, who ought to be taken out of the lower classes into which he was put as the result of the interview. But he did say that almost without exception the boys were taken in accordance with their position in the classes. There was no such thing as having the ear of persons in authority as a means of entering the Navy at the present moment. As a matter of fact entrance into the Navy was far easier and more-democratic—if he might use the word—than ever it had been before. He admitted that the parents of boys intended for the Navy must have some means. Perhaps he might say that the means should be fairly ample. It was the fact that the training at Osborne and Dartmouth cost £75 a year for four years, though the fees might be reduced to £40 a year for the sons of officers of the Army and Navy. But was the training of the naval officer ever free? Was its cost ever so low as it was at the Present moment?
§ MR. BELLAIRS
said the training was much longer now. Formerly it ranged from fifteen months to two years. Now it lasted for four years.
§ MR. MCKENNA
said his hon. friend must know that that did not cover the whole case, and the cost of the training of the boy under the old system was not the only expense to the parents. There was the preliminary two years private tuition the cost of which far exceeded £75 a year
§ MR. BARNES
said he had not referred to the training of the executive officer. His point was that the present system was more costly than the old in regard to the engineer officer.
§ MR. MCKENNA
said he felt bound to make it clear that poor parents could send their sons into the Navy more easily than ever before. With regard to the training for engineer officers, if the difference between the time at which the training began at Osborne and at Keyham were considered, it would be found that the financial burden was not such as to justify the charge that the door was now closed to whole classes of parents who wished to send their sons into the Navy. His hon. friend the Member for the Blackfriars division found himself in considerable difficulty in dealing with the question of engineer officers. The hon. Member had admitted that there was a grievance among engineer officers and said that the remedy which the Admiralty had adopted was to exclude all persons except those who would in the ordinary course become executive officers. His remedy was to open the rank of executive officer to the engineer.
§ MR. MCKENNA
said he understood the hon. Member to suggest that the engineers were to be trained and then admitted as executive officers.
§ MR. BARNES
Possibly I may have used wrong words and I wish to correct myself now. I meant simply this, that the executive rank should be open to the same class from which hitherto the engineer class have come.
§ MR. MCKENNA
said he understood the hon. Member to say that once a man had become an engineer the fact was to be taken as a mark that he was fit to take executive rank.
§ MR. MCKENNA
said he had had to make himself acquainted with the facts and he could state that the engineer did so at the present moment. He would be surprised if he did not hear something of that in the course of the present debate. The hon. Member went on to ask what the engineer had to do with the manning of a ship. If an engineer had I been exclusively trained from boyhood I as an engineer, it was difficult, though not so impossible as the hon. Member thought, to say that he should have to do with the manning of the ship. The hon. Member had made considerable fun of what he regarded as the preposterous idea that there could be interchange-ability between executive officers and engineers. The word was not used at the Admiralty. Common entry and common training with subsequent specialisation were by no means interchange-ability. But it did so happen that the I American system to which reference had been made in the course of the debate was a system to which the word "inter-changeability" might be better applied than to our system. The latest expert evidence as to the success of the American system showed that men who had been at one time engineers had been made captains, and executive officers had been made engineers. The evidence at the Admiralty led to an entirely different conclusion from that of the hon. Member for King's Lynn, that the American system had been a disastrous failure. Captain Hood, our Naval Attaché at Washington, whose business it was to inquire into the working of this very system, had inquired, and this was what he said—In the first instance, it must be definitely and distinctly stated that the amalgamation of line and engineer branches is now regarded as a great success by all classes in the United States Navy; minor criticisms are still directed to the method in which it was carried out, but no competent person can be found, who either considers the amalgamation a failure, or wishes it had not taken place. … Opinions have been asked of all classes of naval officers, of Heads of Bureaux and Admirals, of old engineer officers now amalgamated, of old line officers, and of the young and rising generation. All are united in the opinon that the scheme has been a success, that in general principle it was correct, and that any alteration of the general 1707 principle of amalgamation would be a regret-able and dangerous set-back. … The rules as originally laid down have been kept to and preserved with a strong hand; at first there was much criticism and much opposition, but this has all passed away. … It must, again, be positively stated that there is no difference of opinion about the fact that the new education has produced engineer officers able to take care of, manipulate and repair with perfect efficiency the engines of modern men-of-war; out of nineteen battleships in commission at the end of 1907, on board of eleven the senior engineer officer had not belonged to the old class of engineers; and it is now the opinion of the service, young and old, that these officers, for duty on board ship in charge of machinery are superior to the class of men that they are rapidly supplanting.That was the only positive evidence which the Committee could have in regard to what had happened in America in the actual working of the scheme, and what had happened there was a complete justification of the change which was introduced in 1903, as to the system of common entry in the Navy. The Committee would probably be interested to know that our own system had reached the stage at which the first batch of cadets had become midshipmen. These cadets went for their first cruise on the "Cumberland"; their final examination took place in April last, and the report of the examiners was generally extremely favourable. With regard to seamanship, for instance, the examiners said—The opinion of the Board in general was that they were exceptionally well up in all the subjects in which they examined them. Two of the officers had had experience of cadets' examination, and they both expressed the opinion that the general knowledge shown this year is a decided improvement on last year. Personally, I was surprised at the practical knowledge they had gathered in so short a time as six months.The examiners in practical navigation reported—Practical Navigation.—The paper was of the same standard as that set for acting sub-lieutenants, but somewhat shorter. There are three principal features that call for special comment in the worked papers sent in: (1) The consistency of the work done, there being not more than one paper which can be called poor; (2) the extraordinary accuracy with which each part of the paper was worked. There was hardly an instance of a course being wrongly corrected, or of a bearing being incorrectly plotted on the chart, or of corrections to declinations, etc., being applied the wrong way; (3) the commendable neatness and methodical arrangement of the work in almost every paper sent in. As far as is possible to 1708 judge, the methods employed appeared to be intelligently understood, and gave evidence of having been learnt from practical observations. I can only add that I consider the standard reached is higher than that of the average class of acting sub-lieutenants, in the same work, when passing for the rank of lieutenant.He thought he had given sufficient ground for support of the Government in refusing to admit an inquiry into the system. An inquiry could only mean a vote of want of confidence in the Board of Admiralty. [An HON. MEMBER: Why?] He would tell them why. The Board of Admiralty consisted, in addition to the First Lord, of four Sea Lords, who were selected from admirals with great sea experience—the best men whom the Government of the day could choose for the work of giving scientific, expert advice on all questions connected with the Navy. The Sea Lords advised a certain course on a subject directly within their province. They were responsible for the education of the officers. Having given their advice, and Parliament having acted on their advice, it surely implied a vote of censure if their expert opinion was disregarded and an inquiry now asked for to go into the working of the system. The Board of Admiralty were making from day to day, close investigation into the whole of the system. The Board alone were the proper authority to inquire, so long as the House had confidence in the Board, and if there was not that confidence the right method to follow was not to inquire into the working of any particular point, but to overthrow the Board. So long as the present Board remained the Admiralty, they were not willing to accept inquiry into their work.
§ MR. MCKENNA
said the Board of Admiralty were constantly instituting inquiries into the working of the system. Although the present proposal took a specious form, he hoped the Committee would understand that it meant an expression of want of confidence in the Board of Admiralty. [Cries of "No, no."] The present Board could not accept the proposal as being anything but an expression of want of confidence in 1709 them. As the late Prime Minister had been quoted as an authority in support of the Motion of the hon. Member, he would remind the Committee that the late Prime Minister, after experience, accepted the system, and when asked the specific question declined to grant an inquiry; therefore, his name could not be used as that of an authority in support of the Motion for inquiry. He passed from that specific point to the question of the engine-room artificers. It had been assumed that the reason for the introduction of mechanician rating was to get rid of the influence of trade unions, but he assured his hon. friend that there was no idea of the kind at the Admiralty.
§ MR. BARNES
said he had made no such imputation; he quoted an opinion expressed last year in the House by a Member who was now serving in His Majesty's Navy.
§ MR. MCKENNA
said he knew that his hon. friend quoted the dictum of a former Member, but he understood him in quoting to indicate that that was probably the case. If so, he could assure his hon. friend that there was no ground for such a suspicion. The introduction of boy artificers was to meet a difficulty found in enlisting fully-trained engine-room artificers, to secure a certainty of supply. A constant supply was an imperative necessity, there must be no risk of running short in time of need. This was the sole reason for training boy artificers as they did. Engine-room artificers were still enlisted from outside, because only two-thirds of the supply could be obtained by training the boys. Both his hon. friends had been led into serious misapprehension as to the new rating of mechanicians. The mechanician was not a mechanic, nor was he trained as a mechanic; it was not necessary he should be.
§ MR. MCKENNA
said that no doubt his hon. friend was familiar with the subject. The engine-room artificer was enlisted primarily for repairs of the engines on the ship, and he had the artisan's qualification for the work, and when he got on 1710 board he began to learn a new trade, engine-driving and watching. What was now proposed was to confine the engine-room artificer to those duties for which he was engaged, to keep him to the duty of repairs for which he was trained and qualified. It was in pursuance of a policy of efficiency and economy the Admiralty conceived that they should get a greater portion of the repairs done at sea, but if the engine-room artificer was taken off to work at engine-driving and watch-keeping he was taken away from his proper work. So the new rating of mechanicians was started; it did not supplant the engine-room artificer, and when his hon. friend talked about three classes of artificers to do the same job he was using language without meaning. Boy artificers were trained on board ship to become engine-room artificers, and were taken from the same social class as engine-room artificers. The mechanician did not do the same work, he started his career as a stoker. There were 30,000 stokers in the service, and until the new system was introduced the stoker had no prospect of improvement. During previous debates on the subject there was shown a unanimity of opinion that something should be done for the stokers. [An HON. MEMBER on the LABOUR Benches: Increase their wages.] Whatever had been proposed, a reason had been found against it. What the Admiralty had done was this. They had taken the most promising stokers between the ages of twenty-eight and thirty-two—probably the ages ultimately would be between twenty-five and thirty—and had given them slight training—not that of a skilled artisan—in mechanical work to enable them to understand the general run of an engine they would be called upon to drive, also some additional education in the elements of general knowledge, in the hope that hereafter they would rise to the rank of warrant officers, a position in which it was desirable a man should have some smattering of general education. After two years' training, which would not cost the enormous sum suggested, but £27 a year, £54 in all, the mechanician or stoker selected to become mechanician, if he passed a qualifying examination, would act as a mechanician, and carry on engine-driving and watch-keeping. He would not supplant the 1711 engine-room artificer in any of the duties the latter was trained to perform, he would only undertake, duties the engine-room artificer himself learned only since he entered the Navy. The Admiralty were not bringing trained men at the public expense to supplant engine-room artificers specially qualified for the work for which they were enlisted; they were offering to stokers the opportunity for advancing to the rank of warrant officers. Every engine-room artificer in the Navy would continue to have exactly the same opportunity for advancement as heretofore, and 30,000 stokers would have the opportunity of rising and finding a remedy for their grievances. He had not the total number of mechanicians with him, but it would be between 5 per cent, and 10 per cent. It would not be more than 10 per cent. That had been the reason for this change, and he hoped the Committee would agree with him that much of the criticism that had been directed against it had been founded on a mistake as to what the system was found to be. Both his hon. friends had instanced the accident on board the "Irresistible" as an example of the calamities that would occur if men who had been trained as stokers, now in the new mechanician rating, were to be allowed to touch the engines. The Committee would be surprised to hear that that accident was not due to the mechanician. It was the officer in charge who was in fault. There had been an inquiry into the accident and the mechanician had been freed from all blame. It was not fair that whenever an accident occurred hon. Members should immediately turn all the evidence that arose out of the inquiry into an argument against a particular system when the system had nothing to do with the accident. He had now dealt with all the points that had been raised. His hon. friend the Financial Secretary would deal with any others that might arise later in the debate, but he thought it desirable to get up when he did in order to put right the serious misconception in the minds of the Committee as to the extent and purposes of this scheme. He hoped now the Committee would be prepared to endorse the policy of the Admiralty on the scheme.
§ MR. C. DUNCAN (Barrow-in-Furness)
pointed out that although it was quite true that the stokers desired advancement they did not ask for that kind of advancement which the Admiralty had given them. What the stokers asked for was more pay, and if the Admiralty would consider the matter as they should do, in the same way as an ordinary employer considered the grievances put before him by his employees, he thought the situation might be eased very considerably. It was with great delight that he had listened to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, who was a most able man, but what had been evidenced to him in the discussion, and always was evidenced on these occasions when naval questions were being discussed in that Assembly, was that the right hon. Gentleman and his predecessors in office knew very little about the business, and failed to notice the niceties of the question. Hon. and right hon. Members who took part in the discussion seemed to forget that there was such a thing as the mercantile marine. The right hon. Gentleman had dealt very skilfully with, the question of the promotion of the stokers and had told the Committee that the engine-room artificers were not to be interfered with at all. That statement only indicated that the right hon. Gentleman did not understand the matter at all, because so soon as the stoker was promoted to mechanician rank and took over watch-keeping duty, directly he started out on his first watch he became the superior officer to the artificer engineer.
§ MR. MCKENNA
No, we shall keep the proportion of officers. As many men will become officers under the new system as there were before.
§ MR. C. DUNCAN
said that that did not get rid of the difficulty that as soon as the mechanician took up his first watch, so soon he became the superior officer of the watch. The artificers were properly qualified men, as was admitted on all sides, but if the stoker was keeping watch, if something went wrong with the engines, it was then the business of the stoker to direct the properly qualified artificer to go and do the repairs that might be 1713 necessary. If that was the position, what was done was to take a man from a lower rank, give him special training, and put him above a man who was himself specially trained in the business, and that seemed to him to be the wrong way to go about the matter. The fact that there was a mercantile marine had been forgotten. If it was reasonable to compare the position of those who drove the engines of the ships of the mercantile marine and those who drove the engines of the ships in the Navy, one would assume that in the Navy men with higher capacity and ability would be required because of the need of them there. But in the mercantile marine the men who drove the engines from those of the smallest to those of the largest ships were men who had to qualify at the Board of Trade to obtain their certificates as first, second, or third class engineers. Those men were all drawn from those who served their time in the engineering shops. They were exactly the same kind of men who went into the Navy as artificers. But to-day the man who joined the mercantile marine from the engineering ranks had an excellent opening given to him. There were thousands driving engines to-day, the engines of the largest vessels afloat, and if those men were qualified to take high positions with large powers of control over large bodies of men, why were the same class of men going to be degraded in the Navy? He had no objection to the stokers being advanced, but he certainly objected to the men turned out of the engineering shops of the country into the Navy being degraded. However clever the argument might be, there was no getting away from the fact that the same kind of men in the mercantile marine had splendid positions open to them, whilst in the Navy they were faced with the fact that as soon as the stoker was advanced to the rank of mechanician, he was the superior officer and took charge of the artificer. The right hon. Gentleman had said that for the accident on board the "Irresistible" the mechanician was not to blame, but his information was that the cause of the accident was that a mechanician was put in charge of some machinery; that he opened some valve under the water line, the water came in and flooded the ship, which had to be 1714 towed into dock. That was a magnificent start. For the first time they had been told there was a scarcity of men to take artificers' positions. That was certainly news to them. They knew, at any rate, that the test imposed on artificers joining the Navy was a very high and severe one considering the young age these men were required to join. Nothing like reasonable inducements were offered to these men. If there were, the Government would be able to command a larger number of men for the naval service than the mercantile marine commanded. But if all the advantages were with the mercantile marine, and all the disadvantages with the Navy, the Navy would not get the men. A good deal had been said as to the cost of training a mechanician; his information was to be taught for two years and that the average cost would be £140 per annum. One of the arguments used against them was that watch-keeping and the use of tools could not be performed concurrently. There was a very obvious answer, that they could not repair an engine while it was running. That the use of tools and the working of the engine-room could not be done concurrently was obvious; but the man who had been trained in the building of engines and who had varied experience of all classes of work, was surely the likeliest man to know, when the engine was working, whether anything was wrong. Not an engineer of experience, not a single individual who had followed the engineering trade, and had experience of the making, fitting, and driving of these engines, but was familiar not only with the outside of the engine but the inside as well. He was the man of all men who could tell at a glance what part of the engine was going wrong by the slightest indication, or by the slightest unusual sound. Therefore, the artificer engineers surely had a better claim to consideration than they seemed to be receiving under this scheme. It seemed to them that these men, instead of being degraded, should be given a chance of promotion. They had been told by a speaker last year—it was blurted out perhaps in an unconscious fashion—that the idea was to punish these men because they were in contact with trade unions. But that ought to be received as one of first evidences of some small degree of 1715 common sense. These men were engaged in a trade where at any time they might sustain injuries and be incapacitated for work, and it was some evidence of their judgment and common sense that they made provision for themselves by joining a trade union. At any rate, they had heard a good deal of talk in that House about the value of thrift. He hoped that the inquiry they were asking for would be granted. They had been told by the First Lord that it would be practically a vote of censure on those who had control of the Navy. They had no desire to censure anybody, whatever the position might be. But the Lords of the Admiralty were not almighty and infallible, and they should not be above advice when they realised that the whole of the new system complained of had been brought into existence after an inquiry in which only five persons were witnesses. He had read the whole of their evidence, and he had gone into the case carefully. One of the five who gave evidence was diametrically opposed to the scheme as it stood. Therefore, it seemed to him that the whole scheme was based on the flimsiest ground imaginable. It was against all engineering practice, and it was fair and reasonable to say that before the scheme was allowed to go any further, there was substantial ground for some inquiry being made into the subject with a view to minimising any difficulties that might exist. With regard to the stokers, they were not averse to helping them; indeed, they were desirous of helping them to the best of their ability. They had endeavoured to ascertain what the stokers wanted. They had been told that the stoker desired an increase of pay and a position which would in no way interfere with the work done by the engine-room artificers. Therefore, they asked that there should be an inquiry before this scheme was pressed forward to its ultimate conclusion, and before the engine-room artificers were wiped out of the Navy, because whatever civil answers in eloquent and pleasing language were given, there was no doubt among the engine-room artificers themselves that this scheme was brought in to displace them—he meant those men who had been trained in the workshop life of the country. Those 1716 who were conversant with engineering matters knew that all the inventions and improvements which had taken place were the result of civilian effort; and it seemed to him that to block out absolutely from the Navy the men who had workshop experience, and were familiar with various kinds of mechanical appliances and different descriptions of engines, was taking a step in the wrong direction. He submitted that there was at least a case for inquiry. There was no complaint against these men as to the way in which they discharged their duties, and it was very hard that, having under the system which came into operation in 1868, gained promotion step by step to higher positions, they were now to see the whole thing go by the board. It was unfair and unjust, and so far as he was concerned, if his hon. friend went to a division he should certainly go into the lobby with him.
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER (Croydon)
said that he could not, like the hon. Member who had just sat down, speak with an intimate knowledge of the engineering trade, but he thought the hon. Gentleman had rather too readily ruled the First Lord and civilians like himself out of court by saying that they were wholly unacquainted with the technicalities of that trade.
§ MR. C. DUNCAN
said he had read the whole of the speeches on this question delivered in 1903, and that was the thing which had struck him more than anything.
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
said he was not disputing the hon. Member's view that he was personally better acquainted with his own trade. But, after all, there were other large spheres of operation with which people might be familiar, even though not engaged in the special industry such as the hon. Gentleman spoke of. Among them, he thought, was this great instrument of the Navy. He had had a great deal to do with it in his day. He had been in the stoke-hold of nearly every class of ship in the Navy; he had been in the engine-room; and he had been in communication with officers and men of every rank and class in the Navy for twenty-five years; and perhaps the hon 1717 Gentleman would do him the same courtesy as he had extended to him and would not say, when he spoke of the Navy, that he was ruled out because he had no acquaintance with, the Navy. He had made it his special study. He could not help feeling that there had been too much tendency in this very important discussion to treat the Navy as if it were an institution created and sustained merely for the purpose of giving employment to certain classes of persons. That was not so. The Navy, primarily and above all, was an instrument for conducting war effectively when this country was engaged in hostilities. He did not differ by one jot from what the hon. Member for Blackfriars had said about getting the sympathy and cooperation of every class in working that great instrument. He had done what he could to familiarise people with the idea, both in regard to the Army and the Navy, that we might draw on wider classes than we had done hitherto, in order to bring them into this fascinating circle of the services. He believed that that was for the good of the country, but it should not be carried too far. In order to give a particular application to that principle, they must not forget the purposes for which the Navy was intended, and that was a principle which the hon. Member who had just spoken had certainly forgotten. Might he point out that the Board of Admiralty of which he was a member was certainly responsible for a great deal that had been under discussion that night. He could assure the hon. Member who had criticised them, that these conclusions were not arrived at without very grave consideration. He had certainly watched with the greatest possible care, both afloat and on shore, the development of these changes, and his own opinion, if it was of any value at all, had been expressed by the First Lord of the Admiralty that night, namely, that these changes so far had been very beneficial to the Navy as a fighting machine. He believed that the First Lord of the Admiralty was absolutely correct in saying that they were now opening more widely the entrance to the Navy than they had ever done before. He did not believe that it was possible to realise he whole desire of the hon. Member for 1718 Blackfriars. There must be certain qualifications for officers either of the Army or Navy, and unless the candidates possessed those qualifications, the mere fact of their belonging to a particular class ought not to be cited in their favour. This very difficulty had occurred in the United States, a democratic country where the entrance of cadets into the Navy was made by senatorial nomination. Was it suggested as a really good democratic plan that the cadets of the Royal Navy should be nominated by Members of that House? He did not think so. He thought they would find a recurrence of evils which had long since vanished, and that they would do no good to the Navy. He did not say that it was not possible to modify the present system, but he thought it was working exceedingly well, and was generally admitted to be a great success. Let it not be supposed for one moment that the question of cost was one operating in the matter at all. He knew the estimated cost was a very great exaggeration to the extent of some 50 per cent. But if the House of Commons desired the whole question of the cost could be eliminated altogether. The payment that fell on the parent was an almost insignificant fraction of the whole cost to the State of the education, and he did not think the question of cost stood in the way at all. The education that was given was very different from that suggested by the hon. Member for King's Lynn. He said they were depriving the country of the enormous advantage of getting boys from the public schools.
§ MR. BELLAIRS
I merely said that under this scheme as regards the executive, engineers and marines you are divorcing the Navy altogether from the technological schools, the public schools and the grammar schools.
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
said he accepted the alteration, but if they were doing that they were doing a great service, because he was certain the education these boys were getting was incomparably better and cheaper than anything they could get in the institutions of which the hon. Member had spoken. Then there was another misrepresentation. It had been said 1719 that there was to be Intelchangeability, but he did not think so. There was to be common entry, common training, and specialisation, but that was a very different thing from interchange. He was surprised when the hon. Member for Blackfriars told them that by introducing this system and effecting common entry they were inflicting injustice upon some section of the community whose spokesman he constituted himself, and he was more surprised when the hon. Member told them that there was no demand on the part of engineer officers for executive rank. That seemed to him to be very far from what was common knowledge. He remembered very well indeed the genesis of this change and the state of things with which they were then confronted. It was the fact that engineer officers could not enter into the fruition of their position of officers in the Navy, and that the privileges, and rewards, and distinction which ought to be open to every commissioned officer, were closed to the engineer officer, and it was quite easy to see how they were closed. There were some 400 ships in commission, in every one of which there was a captain or commander, lieutenants and engineer officers, and the engineer officers used to number five or six. As long as they remained in the rank of lieutenant, or even commander, promotion was comparatively proportionate to the number of entries, but the moment they reached the neck of the bottle, as it were, and got to the important position of post-captain, promotion was to all intents and purposes closed to the whole of the engineering branch of the Navy. As a proof of it they found there was only one single engineer officer holding the rank of rear admiral in the whole Navy. That was the grievance. What happened was that all over the country great engineering institutions were becoming the centre of attraction for these engineer officers. He blamed nobody. It was the natural outcome of the situation. But the claims of the engineer officers were being taken up by associations which were not part of the Navy, because their natural ambitions were closed to them, and they could not look to the Navy for their rewards. It was to change that situa- 1720 tion to give that avenue of promotion' and that legitimate outlet to a man's ambitions, that common entry, which he believed at that time was universally approved by the House of Commons, was introduced into the Navy. He believed it would be a positive misfortune if for any reason they were to go back on that arrangement now. The hon. Member for Blackfriars was mistaken if he supposed that the duty of the engineer officer was limited to engine-room watch-keeping. It was part of the new scheme, and a very important part, that the number of commissioned engineers borne on the ship should be reduced and their watch-keeping duties reduced at the same time. Let the Committee remember what the engineering officer had to do. On a ship like the "Dreadnought" there were fifty or sixty high-pressure steam-engines, there were electric engines, and compressed-air engines, besides all the mechanism of the ship, which had to be under the control of highly-trained engineers. That gave an enormous scope for men of the very highest qualifications, and unless they allowed the engineer officers to pass on to positions in which they could effectively control those services they were not only doing them an injustice, but injuring the welfare of the Navy and the safety of the ships. He sympathised a good deal with what had been said by the hon. Member for Blackfriars, but he was surprised at the hon. Member for Barrow, who had said they were degrading one class of men by making them serve under men of superior rank in another trade. That was an absolutely new theory to him. The carpenter, for instance, went into a training ship at twelve or fifteen, got promoted to the carpenter's crew, and when he got warrant rank no man thought of disputing his authority over those of less rank than himself. It was the same story with the gunner, and nobody asked him whether the profession of carpenter was superior in the social scale to that of gunner; they asked what was the warrant he held under the King in the Navy. That was one of the most flagrant claims for social privilege he had ever heard put forward.
§ MR. C. DUNCAN
said that what he was trying to point out was that if they specially trained a stoker, they did not degrade the artificer engineer by putting this man over him, but they did degrade the artificer engineer, because he had no hope of promotion.
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
said he accepted the explanation though he did not agree with it; but he must point out that the actual words of the hon. Member, however, were that the artificer would be degraded by receiving orders from a man drawn from the lowest ranks of life. The lower rank of life had nothing to do with it. The question was whether he was fit to do his duty on the ship. The hon. Member had said it was degrading the artificer because he was not receiving the promotion he would otherwise receive. That was a mistake. He had not had the time nor the opportunity of ascertaining what was going to happen. The First Lord had said more than once that there was no question of diminishing the proportion of warrants allotted to engine-room artificers. The hon. Member had said it would be a great injury to them because they were skilled in every kind of trade and had gone through the engineering shop. But that was not how things happened at all. These were young men of twenty-two and twenty-three many of whom had been gas engineers, bicycle engineers, and the like. They were not examined in engineering generally and applied science as was suggested, but only to see whether they were competent in their own trade. A man came from London who had been engaged in brazing bicycles. He was given a certain examination as to brazing, fitting, and working to gauge, and so on, and showed that he was in the opinion of the examiners competent in those trades. It did not necessarily follow that he was a competent engineer on board a complicated box of machines like a ship in the Royal Navy. From the day he went on board he was a learner—learning the whole trade of repairing and running marine engines and the immensely complicated machinery on board a ship of war. He could not help smiling at some of the statements 1722 to which the hon. Member, despite his engineering knowledge, had committed himself.
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
said the hon. Member said they were not as wise as they ought to be, because they did not remember that they could not repair engines while they were running. He thought he was taking a little advantage of the Committee. The "Dreadnought" the other day came round from Plymouth to Portland running under the exhaust steam from her auxiliary engines only. There was plenty of work for these artificers when the main engines of the ship were not running at all, and there was always very important work to be done by the engine-room artificer whether the main engines were running or not. Let him say a word on behalf of a class whom the hon. Member treated rather cavalierly. He hoped the Committee really understood what the problem was about the stokers. They were a most admirably conducted class. They went in at an early age and went through a very onerous course of stoking. They were first trained on shore and then at sea. There were 32,000 in the Navy and the whole avenue of promotion was shut to them. The hon. Member for Barrow said they wanted more wages. He did not dispute that. He only wished that more hon. Members had seen the class of work which the stokers did, because it was very onerous indeed. Three or four years ago it was proposed to give a certain proportion of those men an opportunity of acquiring further knowledge which would enable them to take charge of engines at sea. The right hon. Gentleman had said that these men were going to be taken out of the stoke-hole and made artificers. It should not be overlooked that the qualified stoker mechanicians had to serve five years before they could attain warrant officer rank. He thought the man who had served first as stoker, then as mechanician, and, with the approval of all his superior officers, had qualified for warrant rank, was entitled to the full reward of his 1723 labours. He could not see what injustice that would be to any other person on board ship. He hoped the Committee would not allow themselves to be misled by what had been said by some hon. Members on this subject. He agreed with the First Lord of the Admiralty when he said that if they were going to upset the new system it was no use doing it in the way which had been suggested. They had a tremendous weapon in their hands which had served them well in the past, and those who were acquainted with the past history of the Board of the Admiralty knew what difficulties and dangers of this kind had brought to the country. He thought every hon. Member would admit that, if they wished to take any action in regard to the policy of the Board of the Admiralty, it was neither in the interests of the country or the Navy itself, nor was it consistent with the dignity of this House, that it should be done by what was in effect a vote of censure upon the Admiralty. The remedy was in their own hands. If they had not got the Board of the Admiralty that they ought to have, let them have one which would more accurately represent the opinions of hon. Members. But let not the House of Commons try to do the work of the Board of Admiralty, because so surely as Members of that House attempted to do that so surely would they fail, so surely would they exaggerate existing evils, so surely would they bring the House into contempt, and so surely would they injure the great service which stood between the country and disaster.
§ MR. BEAUCHAMP (Suffolk, Lowestoft)
said that nobody would gainsay the statement that the training of officers was one of the most important questions of naval administration. In time of war they would have to rely upon the personnel as well as the material. They might have the best ships which the ingenuity of the naval architect could produce. They might be armed with guns of the greatest power and precision, they might even be outrivalled by their enemy in these things, but there remained the human element which must always be one of the determining factors in war. A high state of efficiency in the personnel 1724 was of even greater importance than the perfection of the material. It was this consideration which led to the introduction of the new scheme. The change from sail to steam, from muzzle-loaders to breech-loaders and quick-firing guns, changes which had converted a modern warship into a huge engine room, full of complicated machinery and mechanical contrivances of all kinds, necessitated an improved and advanced education and for this the scheme provided. It was no hastily formed plan, but a matured scheme which recognised that every naval officer should have a complete knowledge of the motive powers of the ship he was called upon to handle in time of peace and would have to fight in time of war. The scheme was in its infancy and some years must elapse before they could judge whether it fulfilled all that was expected of it by its authors. Its essential principle was that all were to be taken from the same stock, and at the same age all to enter through the same door, and all to share the same training in the initial stages of their naval life. Lord Tweedmouth had said it was the intention of the present Board to give the new policy a fair trial and to wait and watch its operations and to make any changes therein that time and experience showed to be necessary. The hon. Member for King's Lynn had described the scheme in 1903 that so far from being a sudden revolution it was a gradual change which could be arrested, hastened, or altered at any point. What could a Committee of inquiry do? They would have no fresh data to go upon and they would lack the materials upon which to form a definite opinion on the merits or demerits of the scheme as a whole, and he was glad the First Lord had decided not to grant an inquiry.
§ SIR IVOR HERBERT (Monmouthshire, S.)
expressed his extreme regret that the First Lord of the Admiralty had opposed an absolute non-possumus to the request for an inquiry into certain matters which had been very ably placed before the Committee. He was surprised at such an attitude from the right hon. Gentleman when he remembered the valuable service which he had rendered to the Army by calling for an inquiry at a time when he was not in a position of 1725 Ministerial responsibility. He could not believe that in so short a period he had altogether changed the views he then held. No one could have listened to the very able speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Croydon without realising that there were possibly points of misunderstanding which might by a little inquiry be very easily cleared up. He, therefore, hoped that before the debate terminated a wiser tone might be adopted than was to be found in the absolute refusal of inquiry with which his hon. friend's request had been met. His object in rising was to draw attention to the feeling of grievance and uneasiness which existed in a part of the Naval force of which he was able to speak from personal knowledge, having been associated with it on active service on two occasions and having had several years' association with it in time of peace—he alluded to the Royal Marines. They were seriously affected by the changes introduced into the Navy in recent years, and at the present moment they seemed to be threatened, if not with extinction, at least with that process of gradual elimination which caused very great uneasiness to all who admired efficiency. There had been many inquiries directed to the question of the way in which the Royal Marines had been affected by those changes. The hon. Member for King's Lynn last year pressed that the Minority Report of the Committee which had inquired into the working of the scheme should be laid before the House. Admiral Douglas' Committee consisted of eight Naval officers and one Marine officer. It might have been expected that the result of that Commission's inquiry would not be an unanimous Report. The Marine officer finding himself in a minority had to make a Report of his own. That Report had never been published. In his opinion and in that of persons of far greater experience than himself in regard to the Naval service it was desirable that the views of the Marine branch should be made known. When the Secretary to the Admiralty was asked a Question on this subject by the hon. Member for Dulwich on 23rd May last year, the reply was that the Board had not decided whether the Minority Report 1726 should be published or not. He did not know whether the Committee would be informed by the present Secretary to the Admiralty that the condition of cogitation was still going on. It was highly desirable that a definite answer should be given as to whether the views of the Marine officer who sat on that important Committee would be made known or not. Reference had been made by the hon. Member for the Blackfriars Division to the Memorandum published in November, 1905, which dealt at some length with the changes affecting the Royal Marines. He had read the Memorandum with great care, and could only characterise it as being of the most astounding and misleading nature he had ever read in any Bluebook. A precedent was sought for placing the Royal Marines under naval executive officers, and it was found in the eighteenth century in the appointment of two distinguished admirals to honorary positions in the corps. That could hardly form a precedent for that which was now being done. But if there was any doubt whether that precedent was a good one or not the records of the House would dispose of it, for it was in obedience to a Resolution of the House that the Lords-Commissioners of the Admiralty took into consideration a recommendation of the House of Commons in 1833 to appropriate to other purposes the sinecures which were given to the naval officers appointed to those honorary positions. It was a bad thing to quote a precedent which would not bear examination. They were told it might be necessary to make slight alterations in detail in order to adapt the naval lieutenant to the position of captain in the Royal Marines. It was considered that subaltern officers of Marines could be dispensed with, and that the duties of such officers might be carried out by warrant officers. Anybody who had had experience in military duty would deny that the duties which were legitimately placed on commissioned officers could be efficiently carried out by warrant officers. If it were otherwise, what would be the sense of promoting men from warrant rank to commission rank unless by giving that promotion they could get 1727 something from which the service could derive some benefit? They were informed that the naval officer qualified for military duties would be thoroughly able to undertake the duties of captain in the Royal Marines. It was not mere qualification in certain duties that was necessary in order to produce efficiency in a special arm. A high standard of efficiency depended upon the spirit and the tradition of a whole corps, and that could only exist where it was maintained by an efficient body of officers animated by the spirit and tradition. If they took away from the Royal Marines, or any other of His Majesty's armed forces, their own officers, it Would be found that there would be a sensible deterioration in the whole efficiency of the corps. They were told also that this distinguished corps, which for 200 years had been employed wherever the British flag had been seen, and which bore the most honourable record and the proudest motto in His Majesty's service, had in the past been divided up and had served in ships where there were no Marine officers. If it were Parliamentary to express his view on that statement he would like to do it, but he could not. He would only state that out of 8,500 Marines who were annually embarked on ships, one-third only were employed in ships without their own officers. Special and most stringent conditions were laid down as to the selection of these men. No man in the second class of character and conduct could be included, and if a man by some mischance fell into the second class of conduct while so employed he had to be immediately removed into a ship where there was a Marine officer. Could anything be more conclusive of the fact that the Admiralty had regarded it as one of the secrets of efficiency in the Marine Corps that there were those officers who could bring them up when the men, unfortunately, fell away from the high standard? They were told that no regimental system had existed in the Marines at all. He was proud to be able to contradict that from his own knowledge. For a whole year on active service he served side by side in the same corps with officers and men of the Royal Marines, and he had never known any corps which possessed such a 1728 thorough regimental system as the Royal Marines. The fact that there was uneasiness at present not only among the officers of this distinguished corps, but also in some part of the country which had for generations furnished recruits for the corps, was enough in his opinion to induce the First Lord of the Admiralty to modify the attitude which he had taken up in refusing all inquiry into this grievance. He would conclude by quoting the memorable words used by the greatest of all naval administrators, Lord St. Vincent, regarding this famous corps—I never knew an appeal to them for honour, courage, or loyalty that they did not more than realise my highest expectation. If ever any hour of real danger should come to England, the Royal Marines will be found the country's sheet anchor.He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would consent to some inquiry, at any rate, with regard to the effect of recent changes upon this important branch of His Majesty's Service.
§ MR. CROYDON MARKS (Cornwall, Launceston)
said that engineers who wished to enter His Majesty's Naval Service only desired that they should be allowed to continue to train themselves at their own expense, instead of being trained in the dockyards and on board men-of-war at the public expense. Engineers who had trained themselves to a high state of efficiency felt that they were being ignored and superseded ay others of less knowledge than themselves, who were placed in authority over them. He contended that an engineer joining the Royal Navy should not find that he had joined a branch of the Service which was regarded as inferior. Out of every eight officers in the British Navy three must be engineers. At Dartmouth not one in ten cadets desired to become an engineer. That being the case, it was absurd to attempt to make specialists by compulsion rather than by choice. They could not get men to do their duty properly and efficiently simply because it was the work of their life. Naturally, an engineer did not want to be anything but an engineer, and all he objected to was having another officer, of whom I knew nothing, placed over his men. Under the present entry men who had 1729 specialised at the age of twenty-one would be placed in charge of the engine room over men who had a highly finished training and great practical experience as engineers. Under the existing system engineers outside the Service felt that the door of entry to the Royal Navy was absolutely closed against them, that the expense of training was too great, and that the Admiralty drew their engineers from a different class of society than formerly for this important branch of the Service. It was all very well to speak of £75 a year as being a paltry sum; but that meant all the difference between comfort and discomfort in the homes from which the best engineers in the past had been drawn. Then, it must not be forgotten that engineering was not a stationary science. A few years ago there was nothing but the long cylinder boilers. These had given place to tubular boilers, and high pressure expansion engines had given place to turbines. He believed that the time was coming when gas would be the motive power, and the man who had specialised ten years before by compulsion would be out of it. They must have engineers who would appreciate the future as well as the past, and not those who would be continually looking forward to the time when they would get on deck for promotion. In regard to the mechanicians, he did not believe that the stokers desired to be drawn into that particular class. He knew that complaints were made from both branches of the Service in regard to that. Stokers up to twenty-six and a half years of age were put to work they knew nothing about, and after three months filing, drilling, and chipping they were supposed to have learned a trade, which otherwise would have required a training for a period of six and three-quarter years, in order that they might subsequently take charge of the engine-room in place of men who had come into the Service from the outside, and who had been trained at their own cost and not at the expense of the country. A man who had been taken out of the stoke-hole and put into the engine-room as a mechanician had not had the fundamental training which would give him an aptitude for engineering 1730 work. The best engineer in the merchant service was not the man who was alleged to be capable of repairing engines, but the man who would take care that repairs were not necessary. He knew what to do to avoid the trouble of repairs; and a similar class of men in the Royal Navy would save the country large sums of money. If any hon. Member desired that an inquiry should be made it ought not to be held that he wished to be a censor of the Board of Admiralty. He took it that the Board of Admiralty were the servants of the country. He spoke on this subject as knowing the opinion of the whole engineering profession; and they were absolutely opposed to what had been done. If he were to decline to ask for an inquiry lest it should be said that he was disloyal to the Government, then, he contended, he would rather be disloyal to the Government than to his convictions as an engineer. He hoped his hon. friend would press for an inquiry without any fear as to whether they were going to offend anyone in high position at the Admiralty. He hoped that the First Lord would see his way, through the Financial Secretary to the Admiralty, to make some suggestion which would go some way towards a recognition that there was a great grievance at the present time in the engine-room. It must be remembered that the engine-room was the vital part of the ship and that there were 32,000 men in the stoke-holes of the Navy who were seeking promotion. They had been told that a good many had got it; but all that that amounted to was that 100 per annum were made into mechanicians. That was not the kind of promotion they desired, because there were other duties which they could well perform without being taught a new trade. He therefore suggested that the First Lord should give way or speak in a more conciliatory tone than he had adopted at the beginning of the debate.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO THE ADMIRALTY (Dr. MACNAMARA,) Camberwell, N.
said he must congratulate the mover and seconder of the reduction on the great good temper and moderation displayed in their speeches. Further, he was 1731 quite sure that the whole desire of the Committee in these discussions was to protect the great Service upon which, in the main, the safety and well-being of these realms depended. The problem of the entry and training of the naval officer had been a matter of the closest consideration for many years past, and it would not be fair to say that any change had been sudden, although it might in its nature be revolutionary. A Committee under Admiral Shadwell sat in 1870; another, of which Admiral Rice was Chairman, sat in 1875; a third, of which Mr. Gordon was Chairman, sat in 1877; and a fourth, under Admiral Luard, sat in 1886. Anyone who read the Reports of these Committees must be struck by the extent to which all these Committees had foreshadowed in general terms the scheme which was now, as the result of Lord Selborne's Committee's Report in 1902, the scheme in being. Admiral Luard's Committee raised the age of entry from between twelve and thirteen and a half years of age, to between thirteen and fourteen and a half. Then came the changes introduced by Lord Goschen in 1896–97. He made a very considerable change in the age of training, probably not from any scientific or academic reason, but Largely because of the shortage of the men on the lieutenants' list which war; inadequate for the necessities of the rapidly increasing fleet. Something had to be done to shorten up the time from entry as cadet to sub-lieutenant. The changes made were—the age of entry was raised to between fourteen and fifteen and a half; the "Britannia" course was shortened from two years to one year and four months; the period of service afloat as cadet was reduced from twelve months to eight months, and the period of service afloat as midshipman was reduced from three and a half years to three years. Then came Lord Selborne's great scheme which was launched in December, 1902. The genius of Lord Selborne's scheme was the principle of common early entry and common early training for all naval officers. Prior to that three classes of Executives, Engineers, and Marines had entered on totally different conditions and at different ages, and had been 1732 trained on wholly different lines. From 1903 onwards all were taken from the same stock, at the same age, and all entered through the same door and received the same training in the initial stages of their naval life. In his celebrated memorandum of December, 1902, Lord Selborne, said—In the old days it sufficed if a naval officer was a seaman. Mow, he must be a seaman, a gunner, a soldier and a man of science as well. It is not only that machinery driven by electric, hydraulic, or steam power is every year becoming more complicated in character and multiplying in form, and that therefore a more extensive education in applied science is necessary for specialised officers, but in various ways the need of a more general scientific training has become apparent.The right hon. Gentleman the first Lord had told the Committee what happened. Entries took place three times a year, anybody could apply, the boys went before the Interview Committee armed with reports from school, and after passing a qualifying educational and medical examination the first Lord selected the number needed from a list of those who had been most successful. Perhaps he ought to add that thirteen nominations annually were placed at the disposal of the Secretary of State for the Colonies. The Interview Committee consisted of a flag officer, an experienced schoolmaster, a second naval officer either of flag rank or a post-captain with some experience of training work, and a representative of the first Lord. He would like to quote just two extracts from many eulogistic reports of civil members whose opinions would have weight with the Committee. There was boundless testimony from several members as to the adequacy of this system for getting at the natural capacity of the boy. Canon Lyttelton said—I have no doubt that for estimating the all-round powers of a boy this informal conversation, coupled with the paper test after-wards and the time at Osborne, affords the best method of examination yet devised in England; it is greatly to be desired that the entrance to the Army should be regulated on similar lines.Mr. Arthur Acland, Vice-President of the Council of Education in 1892–95 said—The plan that has been adopted at the Admiralty with regard to those boys who wob/ to become naval cadets appears to me, after having taken my share in interviewing boys, to be a complete success for the purposes that you have in view.1733 He was a most profound believer in this system of selection. It killed the crammer and they got at the real native capacity of the boy by this system far better than by a month of written examinations. He saw the system at work on 15th June, and as an old schoolmaster with thirty years teaching experience behind him he was very greatly impressed. He most cordially endorsed this system of selecting the boys if it was desired to get at the truth of their real native capacity.
§ MR. BELLAIRS
asked how long these boys were before the Committee, was it about twenty minutes, and what was the percentage of the rejections. Was it about 60 per cent.?
§ DR. MACNAMARA
said that while he was there the boys were before the Interview Committee fifteen or twenty minutes. What the percentage of rejections was he did not know. The boys selected then went to Osborne for two years, and then they went down to Dartmouth for two years. During this time the weeding-out process was continued, so that only the very best were taken for the Navy. He might shortly say that 30 per cent. of the time was devoted to engineering, 50 per cent, to mathematics and general subjects, and 20 per cent, to executive seamanship. For the last eight months of that time they went on a training cruiser, where their education in applied science, engineering, navigation, and seamanship, was continued under conditions that made it more directly professional; they also learned something of gunnery and torpedo, and of the general duties of a Naval officer. The system was now in full working order, there were 900 cadets in two colleges, and two training cruisers, the "Cumberland" and the "Cornwall." At the end of the cruise a final passing out examination was held which determined the place of the cadet on the Navy list. They were then rated midshipmen and distributed to sea-going ships for three years sea service. The first batch of cadets trained in this way passed into the fleet in May of this year as midshipmen. It would be observed that he cadets passed into the Navy at seventeen and a half years of age. With regard 1734 to the cost to the parents, it would probably be of interest to hon. Members who had raised this question if he now compared the cost of the new system with that of the old. Under the new system a boy entered between the ages of twelve years and eight months and thirteen. He served four years at the college, two-thirds of a year in the training cruiser, and slightly over three years as a midshipman. The fees payable were £75 for the first four years and £50 for the remainder. If he added to the fees of the four years at the colleges £35 or £40 a year on account of railway expenses, outfit, holiday expenses, subscriptions to sports fund, payments for washing, etc., they would be fairly within the mark. Therefore, up to the close of the midshipman's career the parent would get oft with an aggregate of from £600 to £650. But the Admiralty reserved the power of selecting from the cadets seeking entry a limited number of boys who were admitted at £40 a year, they being the sons of officers of the Navy, Army, or Marines, or of civil officers under the Admiralty. But he had looked into that matter and he found that out of each entry of sixty-five to seventy boys the number who entered at £40 a year were only three or four. Under the old system, the old executive officer entered at the age of from fourteen and a half to fifteen and a half years. The training consisted of one year on the "Britannia" one-third of a year on the training cruiser, and three and one-third years as a midshipman, four years and eight months in all. The fees payable were £75 for the first year and one-third, and £50 a year for the remainder. If he made the same kind of calculation here as he made in the other case, he found that the parent got off, under the old system with a payment of about £300, but hon. Members would observe that he had to maintain the boy himself for something like two years, which would represent the period which he would now spend at Osborne, and he would pay a considerable fee for the boy to be crammed. So that after all, the present system was probably no dearer than the old, so far as that class of officer was concerned. With regard to the engineer officers under the old system, the engineer cadets entered 1735 between fourteen and a half and sixteen and a half years of a They spent five years at Keyham at an annual fee of £40 a year, that gave an aggregate fee of £200. If he applied the same method of calculation, and added £25 a year for other charges, the parent had to pay between £325 and £350; but here again he had to maintain the boy for two years, a time which he would now, under this system, spend at Osborne. Then there was the case of the Marine officer.
§ DR. MACNAMARA
said he had not forgotten, but he proposed to deal with that point a little later on. Coming next to the question of the Marine officers, the Royal Marine Artillery officer under the old system entered for that service between sixteen and eighteen years of age and spent two years at Greenwich, no fees being payable on his account. The Royal Marine Light Infantry officer came into the service at from seventeen to nineteen years of age, spending one year at Greenwich where no fees were payable. His hon. and gallant friend the Member for Monmouthshire was under a misapprehension as to the Minority Report of the Admiral Douglas Committee's not being published. That Report was published three years ago. He was very keen that this fine force of which he and everybody else was very proud should not be abolished, and he certainly hoped that they would not with their fine record behind them, a record which included gallant services in the tribal wars, the Crimea, the Indian Mutiny, Graspan, and the Modder River. The total cost to the State, taking out the parents' contributions, and the pay and naval rating of those who were liable to mobilisation, was £126 for the boy at Osborne, and £115 per boy at Dartmouth. The total cost to the State was £95,000, to the parents, £56,000, and to naval rating and pay, £25,000, making a total of £175,000 or £225 per boy while they were at these colleges. He had seen the scheme at work at Osborne and at Dartmouth, and was enthusiastic admirer of it, but he 1736 did not deny that it had a weak place. It was weak in one point, and that was whether the area of selection was not restricted unnecessarily. But that was no new feature, it had always been characteristic of the system. Theoretically, anybody could apply; in practice the applications were severely restricted by the fairly heavy financial obligations. It was no new feature, so far as this scheme was concerned. The Navy had been called in the past the poor man's service. There was nothing in that service corresponding to the "crack" regiments in the Army, and he hoped there never would be. It was, no doubt, the fact that Lord Nelson was the son of a Norfolk parson, and was one of eleven children, so that in these days, and under this system, he probably could never have become a cadet at Osborne. It was a serious question for consideration whether or not the net might be cast wider, and it would ill become him, who had himself risen from the ranks, if he were not anxious to see something done in a matter of this sort. This splendid part of the service, however, was so well trained and so well equipped for the work it had to do that he did not mind admitting that, though he had the most pronounced democratic tendencies, he would not touch it except with the profoundest possible care, lest he might do something to injure it. At any rate, he thought it was a matter for consideration whether they might not be able to widen the entry by a reduction of fees, or by some scholarship scheme, or whether they might not sweep away the school fees altogether in order to put the thing on a broad and general basis. That was no doubt a matter for serious consideration. There was a feature of this scheme which he admitted could only be tested as the result of actual experience. It had been mentioned again that afternoon by several hon. Gentlemen. The question was whether a system of common training did not sacrifice high specialisation, particularly as far as the engineers were concerned, Some confusion of thought, he believed, lad arisen from the use of that blessed word "interchangeability." There was here no interchangeability of particular 1737 functions. There was a high specialisation with a faculty to assume executive control such as he thought we must have in these days of complicated machinery. He did not think his hon. friend the Member for Blackfriars was right when he said the Naval officer of the future would be a jack-of-all-trades and master of none. What he himself thought about the Naval officer of the future was that he would know something about everything and everything about something. But in any case, whatever might be the future of this great scheme, to which so much interest was attached, and which was watched with so much anxiety, the Admiralty on 1st May issued a general circular, in which they stated that—The details of the scheme would be subject to revision as experience might show to be necessary.He need not deal with the subject of the boy mechanician or the boy artificer The First Lord had fully gone into them. There was one point with regard to the mechanicians, and that was the case put forward by the hon. Member for Barrow in regard to the unfortunate occurrence on board the "Irresistible." The hon. Gentleman's contention was that a mechanician had been put to open a valve which ought to have been opened by an engine-room artificer, with the result that the place was flooded. The hon. Member put the case as evidence of the Admiralty's desire to elbow out the engine-room artificer and put in the mechanician. The mechanician was specially trained to watch and to drive engines, and that set the artificer free for his highly-skilled tool work. In the particular case of the "Irresistible" it was not true to say that nobody but an engine-room artificer should have opened the valve. Anybody who had any association with that work, either a first or second class stoker, might have been put to do it, subject to proper supervision, and to its being seen that the other valves were properly closed. The difficulty arose, not because of the particular man put on to open the valve, but because they were slack in their organisation, and because there was not efficient care in regard to the operations, which required that other valves under the surface of the water should be kept 1738 closed. That was no evidence of the truth of the contention that the artificer was being supplanted by the mechanician. The report of the inquiry set forth that those responsible for the operations had shown carelessness, that there was not the right organisation, that there was slackness, and those responsible would be dealt with accordingly. He thought he had now made it quite clear that they were not putting the mechanician to do the engine-room artificer's work, as his hon. friend seemed to put it. That was not the case at all. He hoped that after these explanations, and having covered the points which had arisen since the First Lord had addressed the Committee, they would now proceed to give them Vote 5.
§ MR. ARTHUR LEE (Hampshire, Fareham)
said that that was one of the occasions when the Members of both front benches were agreed, although the hon. Member for King's Lynn thought that that was necessarily a nefarious state of affairs. There was only one point in connection with what the hon. Member had said on which he would like to make an observation. He thought that the most serious criticism made at all that clay with reference to the scheme was that the area from which selection was made was somewhat narrow, and that the sons of the working classes were in many cases shut out. Therefore, he welcomed the hope which the hon. Gentleman had thrown out that by some system of reducing the expenses it might be possible for a limited number of entries to be made where the financial qualifications would not be a serious hindrance. He hoped that the First Lord might be able to persuade the Chancellor of the Exchequer to do what was necessary in the matter, and if he did he was sure that he would get some support from that side of the House. In answer to the hon. Member who had moved the reduction, it had been stated that it could be told from the reports that this scheme was working admirably, and he did not think that it was too much to ask that they should not tear it up by the roots after it had been only five years in operation. He hoped that it was not intended o thrust the demand too far for an alteration of the scheme, which was 1739 approved of by almost every authority that he had consulted. If the hon. Gentleman forced this reduction to a division, he should feel it his duty to support the Government.
§ MR. R. DUNCAN (Lanarkshire, Govan)
said he desired to support the Motion for reduction, but not without some words of explanation of his reasons. Anyone who would weaken the system of discipline in the Navy, our first line of defence, would deserve the censure of that House, and of the whole nation, but in this matter he confessed to a prejudice in favour of his own trade. Once an engineer, always an engineer. Where he believed there was a real and legitimate root of discontent in regard to the present system of promotion, was the feeling of the engineers that the stokers, who were in fact a lower grade of their own profession, were being promoted over the heads of their superiors. The case did not at all resemble the promotion
§ of members of another and a distinct skilled trade, such as the carpenters. All on that side of the House, and also the most respected occupants of the front Government bench, were working steadily for the decasualising of labour. That process, the organising of labour, necessarily involved a certain amount of discipline and recognition of ranks in the trades concerned. The naval authorities should not, without strong reasons, do anything to destroy that sense and system. For this reason he supported the hon. Member for Black-friars, but at the same time he must repeat the caution against any weakening of the absolutely necessary discipline of the Navy. There should, in his opinion, be an engineer member of the selecting or interviewing committee.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 90; Noes, 205. (Division List No. 180.)1741
|Abraham, William (Cork, N.E.)||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Rawlinson, John FrederickPeel|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Hodge, John||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Hogan, Michael||Richards, T F. (Wolverh'mpt'n|
|Barnes, G. N.||Houston, Robert Paterson||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Hudson, Walter||Roche, John (Galway, East)|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Jenkins, J.||Rowlands, J.|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)|
|Benn, Sir J Williams (Devonp'rt)||Jowett, F. W.||Seddon, J.|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Joyce, Michael||Shackleton, David James|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Kilbride, Denis||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester||Snowden, P.|
|Bramsdon, T. A.||Lea, Hugh Cecil (St. Pancras,E.||Stanier, Beville|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Luttrell, Hugh Fownes||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)|
|Burnyeat, W. J. D.||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Steadman, W. C.|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Macpherson, J. T.||Summerbell, T.|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Mac Veagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Courthope, G. Loyd||Mac Veigh, Charles(Donegal, E.)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Crean, Eugene||M'Kean, John||Walters, John Tudor|
|Crooks, William||Marks, G Croydon (Launceston)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Curran, Peter Francis||Marnham, F. J.||Wiles, Thomas|
|Dillon, John||Middlemore, John Throgmorton||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Duncan, Robt. (Lanark, Govan)||Murphy, John (Kerry, East)||Williams, Col. R.(Dorset, W.)|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Nannetti, Joseph P||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Fell, Arthur||Napier, T. B.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton|
|Fenwick, Charles||Nolan, Joseph|
|Fullerton, Hugh||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||TELLEKS TOR THE AYES—Mr.|
|Gill, A. H.||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||George Roberts and Mr.|
|Glover, Thomas||O'Doherty, Philip||Charles Duncan.|
|Hall, Frederick||O'Grady, J|
|Halpin, J.||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)|
|Acland-Hood, Rt Hn. Sir Alex F.||Armitage, R.||Balfour, Robert (Lanark)|
|Ainsworth John Stirling||Asquith, Rt Hn. Herbert Henry||Banbury, Sir Frederick Geo|
|Allen Charles P. (Stroud)||Balcarres, Lord||Baring, Godfrey(Isle of Wig|
|Barlow, Sir John E. (Somerset)||Helme, Norval Watson||Priestley, W.E.B. (Bradford, E.)|
|Barnard, E. B.||Henderson, J.M. (Aberdeen, W)||Radford, G. H.|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Henry, Charles S.||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone,N.)||Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon.,S)||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradf'rd|
|Beale, W. P.||Higham, John Sharp||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Beauchamp, E.||Hill, Sir Clement||Robinson, S.|
|Bell, Richard||Hobart, Sir Robert||Robson, Sir William Snowdon|
|Benn, W (T'w'r Hamlets, S. Geo.)||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Rogers, F. E. Newman|
|Bennett, E. N.||Horniman, Emslie John||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Russell, T. W.|
|Boulton, A. C. F.||Hutton, Alfred Eddison||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Brigg, John||Hyde, Clarendon||Samuel, Herbert L (Cleveland)|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Isaacs, Rufus Daniel||Sandys, Lieut.-Col. Thos. Myles|
|Brodie, H. C.||Jackson, R. S.||Scarisbrick, T. T. L.|
|Brunner, J. F. L. (Lanes., Leigh)||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Schwann, C. Duncan (Hyde)|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Kavanagh, Walter M.||Scott, A. H(Ashton-under-Lyne|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Kincaid-Smith, Captain||Seely, Colonel|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)|
|Byles, William Pollard||Laidlaw, Robert||Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick B)|
|Cameron, Robert||Lamont, Norman||Sheffield, Sir Berekley George D.|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. M. H.||Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Lee, Arthur H.(Hants, Fareham||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Lever. A. Levy (Essex, Harwich)||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick||Levy, Sir Maurice||Stanley, Hn. A. Lyulph (Chesh.)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Lewis, John Herbert||Stavelay-Hill, Henry(Staff'sh.)|
|Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Lundon, W.||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Lyell, Charles Henry||Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)|
|Cleland, J. W.||Macdonald, J M.((FalkirkBg'hs||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Coates, Major E. F. (Lewisham)||Maclean, Donald||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Collins, Sir Wm. J (S. Pancras, W.||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||M'Callum, John M.||Stuart, James (Sunderland)|
|Corbett, C H (Sussex, E. Grinst'd||M'Crae, Sir George||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Cotton. Sir H. J. S.||M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Cox, Harold||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Tennant, Sir Edward (Salisbury|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||M'Micking, Major G.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Maddison, Frederick||Tomkinson, James|
|Cremer, Sir William Randal||Magnus, Sir Philip||Torrance, Sir A. M.|
|Crossley, William J.||Manfield, Harry (Northants)||Toulmin, George|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||Markham, Arthur Basil||Valentia, Viscount|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Massie, J.||Vivian, Henry|
|Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan)||Meehan, Francis E (Leitrim, N.||Wadsworth, J.|
|Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Menzies, Walter||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|Duckworth, James||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.||Waring, Walter|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Micklem, Nathaniel||Warner, Thomas Courtenay, T.|
|Erskine, David C.||Middlebrook, William||Wason, Rt Hn. E (Clackmannan|
|Essex, R. W.||Molteno, Percy Allport||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Evans, Sir Samuel T.||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Everett, R. Lacey||Morpeth, Viscount||Weir, James Galloway|
|Ferens, T. R.||Morse, L. L.||Whitbread, Howard|
|Fiennes, Hon. Eustace||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|Findlay, Alexander||Murray, Capt. Hn. A. C. (Kincard||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)|
|Freeman-Thomas, Freeman||Myer, Horatio||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Fuller, John Michael F.||Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw)||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Glendinning, R. G.||Nicholson, Charles N (Doncast'r||Whittaker, Rt. Hn. Sir Thomas P.|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Norman, Sir Percy||Williamson, A.|
|Gooch, George Peabody (Bath)||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Wills, Arthur Walters|
|Gooch, Henry Cubitt (Peckham)||Nuttall, Harry||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Gordon, J.||Partington, Oswald||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Greenwood, Hamar (York)||Paulton, James Mellor||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh., N.)|
|Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||Philipps, Col Ivor (S'thampton||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|Gulland, John W.||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Hamilton, Marquess of||Pirie, Duncan V||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr.|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose||Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central)||Joseph Pease and Master of|
|Harmsworth, R. L (Caithn' ss-sh||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk,. E)||Elibank.|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Priestley, Arthur (Grantham)|
Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ 2.£1,334,600, Naval and Marine Pensions, Gratuities, and Compassionate Allowances.1742
§ Mr. BRAMSDON (Portsmouth)
said he wanted to raise question of the Greenwich age pensioners, but there were only about six minutes left and that 1743 was nothing like adequate for so important a subject in which so many Members were interested. He did not want to prevent the Vote being obtained, so he suggested that if his right hon. friend would receive a deputation of those Members who were interested in the subject they might have a fuller opportunity of discussing it, and he hoped they would be able to arrive at a conclusion which would be satisfactory to all parties interested.
§ MR. MCKENNA
said the Scottish Members had been promised half the evening, and he did not think it would be possible to do justice to this very important question. If hon. Members who were particularly interested would be good enough to make representations to him on a day suitable to themselves at the Admiralty he thought on the whole, on a technical subject, of this kind, they would get better results than by debating it now, and he hoped the Committee would agree to the suggestion.
§ MR. BRAMSDON
said that a great many persons throughout the country were interested in the subject, and it would be inadvisable, perhaps, to have a meeting with the First Lord unless they could do so in a public manner. Perhaps he would agree to reporters being present.
§ MR. MCKENNA
said that that also at first sight would appear to be reasonable. Perhaps his hon. friend, however, would not ask a pledge from him on that point.
§ MR. JENKINS (Chatham)
said that no reference whatever had been made to questions affecting petty officers, seamen or stokers. If the right hon. Gentleman would receive a deputation he would withhold his remarks.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 3. £ 868,800, Half-Pay and Retired Pay.
§ 4. £ 377,400, Civil Pensions and Gratuities.
§ Resolutions to be reported.