§ Resolutions reported,
- 1. "That a sum, not exceeding £2,500,300, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Expense of Victualling and Clothing for the Navy, including the cost of Victualling Establishments at Home and Abroad, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1911."
- 2. "That a sum, not exceeding £263,900, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Expense of Medical Services, including the cost of Medical Establishments at Home and Abroad, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1911."
- 3. "That a sum, not exceeding £10,900, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Expense of Martial Law, including the cost of Naval Prisons at Home and Abroad, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1911."
§ Resolutions agreed to.
§ Resolution reported,
§ 4. "That a sum, not exceeding £157,400, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the 895 Expense of Educational Services, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1911."
§ Lord CHARLES BERESFORD
I am not quite clear in regard to the answer given yesterday as to whether the officers under the new scheme remain interchangeable. I am aware that the Secretary to the Admiralty stated that this scheme was open to revision, and I believe there has been considerable revision. As to the pamphlet which was referred to yesterday, I wish to ask the hon. Gentleman if it is still in the libraries, or whether it has been withdrawn? May I point out that the pamphlet I referred to yesterday was issued under Admiralty Orders, with an Admiralty seal, and an Admiralty direction that it must go into the men's libraries? The hon. Member (Dr. Macnamara) said this pamphlet was not paid for by the Admiralty. If that is so, then it becomes a more serious question. Yesterday I described this pamphlet as very poisonous literature, and such a pamphlet ought not to be issued by an Admiralty Order if it is a private concern. I really think the whole question ought to be cleared up in the House.
§ Mr. BARNES
I desire to offer a few observations upon the policy covered by this Vote. I find that a Debate took place yesterday on Vote No. 5, and, although certain points were raised, the one to which I wish to direct attention was not discussed. I am against this new scheme for the reasons adduced yesterday, and I am glad to find that the Noble Lord opposite is also opposed to the scheme in regard to specialisation and interchangeability. I endorse what has been said on this point, because in these days, when science is being applied more and more to warfare, and more especially to naval warfare, it seems to me to be more than ever necessary that the men should have special knowledge of the particular branch of the service in which they are going to be employed. I am against this scheme for another reason which was not mentioned yesterday, and upon which I hope to receive the support of the Noble Lord opposite (Lord Charles Beresford) and others. I am against this scheme because of its undemocratic character, and because it narrows the field from which officers can be drawn. At one time it was possible for a man of humble parentage to get into the engineering branch of the Navy. I know it costs a considerable sum of money even 896 to send a boy to Keyham, but there were opportunities for sharp boys, sons of working people, in the dockyard, who exhibited exceptional ability, and who passed certain examinations to reach Keyham without the payment of a very large sum of money. I want to point out to the House that the first effect of this scheme is to wipe out that opportunity and to close the door by means of which there has hitherto been what I might call an infusion of democracy into the engineering branch of the Navy. The cost of sending boys to the places which are used for the purposes of this scheme is altogether prohibitive. Some little time ago I had the honour of being selected by the Admiralty to go and make inquiries upon this and other points. I was accompanied by several Members of this House, including the hon. Gentleman (Dr. Macnamara), and I found the cost per boy per year was about £75 or rather more. When we take into account what the boy has to be provided with in the way of uniform, kit, and so on, probably I shall be within the mark if I say that every boy intended for service in His Majesty's Fleet has to be provided for at the rate of not less than £100 per year.
I agree with the Noble Lord opposite (Lord Charles Beresford) that the new scheme is not likely to be so efficient. It is not necessary that I should know anything about the technicalities of the Navy itself; it is sufficient for me to know that a man is not likely to be so efficient spending his time in cramming theoretical knowledge into his head till he is twenty-one years of age, theoretical knowledge not only concerning the particular branch he has to follow, but all the branches of the naval service, engineering, chemical, and goodness knows what. A man is not likely to be so efficient trained in that way as the man trained, as he used to be, by being sent to sea and put in a responsible position at an early stage in life. I am opposed to the scheme, first because it is not likely to be so efficient, and in the second place because of the immense cost of it, precluding the possibility of anyone with reasonable means getting any chance of serving in the Navy. Before I leave this point, I should like to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty (Mr. McKenna) whether he could not somehow or other lessen this cost. After all the fees paid by the parents, large as they are, do not by any means cover the entire cost of training. I 897 am only speaking from memory, because I have had no time to look the matter up, but I believe I am right in saying that the fees paid by the parents of a boy destined to be an officer in the Navy do not cover more than half the cost of his training. Although the fees are so large and so prohibitive, it is not contended for one moment that they cover the cost of the training of the boy. I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, having already out of public funds provided to the extent of one-third, half, two-thirds, or at any rate a certain proportion of the cost of training, it would not be possible to contribute a little more so as to reduce the cost to the parents of the boys and thus throw the Navy open to a larger number of the citizens of the country?
I want to call attention to another phase, and to what I might call the other end of the engineering establishment. Concurrently with the introduction of this scheme of interchangeability and of what I call the abolition of specialisation at the proper and formative period of life, there has been introduced another scheme whereby stokers are taken from the ranks of the stoker ratings at the age of about twenty-six or twenty-seven, and an effort made, by the expenditure of public money, to cram into those poor men's heads knowledge which can be of no use to them or to anybody. They are trying to make those men mechanics at the age of twenty-six. Speaking as a mechanic, as one who served an apprenticeship to a trade, and as one who worked at that trade for twenty-five years in workshops in England and Scotland, I can say that it is absolutely impossible to do so. There may be one or two who are naturally gifted in that way, but, speaking generally, I should say that it is impossible to make any large number of men mechanics, taking them at twenty-six years of age, and after they have served as stokers. I do not think, therefore, that that particular branch is likely to be efficient. These men are to supplant the artificer class, a body of men who have been drawn from the ordinary workshops of the country, and who are thoroughly efficient. I have never heard a single word said against the efficiency, loyalty, or disciplinary spirit of the artificer class in the Navy. I object to this, because, in the first place, you are not likely to get an efficient mechanic; and because, in the second place, even if you could get an efficient mechanic, you are 898 getting him now and getting him for nothing. I do not know what it costs to train a stoker, but. I believe you have to take him away from his ordinary work for a matter of two years, and you have also to take other men from their work, including the very men whom it is intended to supplant. You have to take engineering officers from their work, and you have to put plant on a number of ships which are now being used for this purpose. Altogether, the country is being run into an expenditure of some hundreds of thousands, and in the long run possibly millions, in order to raise a new class of men when no proof has been given that they are wanted, and when you are already getting the man for nothing to do all the work of the artificer class. The effect of all this is to worsen the position of the artificer. When the Estimates were submitted some two or three months ago I asked the right hon. Gentleman a question as to the chances of promotion of men of the artificer class. If my memory serves me aright, there was a reduction in the number of engineering officers in the year of thirty-five. I asked if there was any possibility of getting promotion for artificer engineers, such as they had been led to expect. I got an answer two or three days ago to the effect that there had been two men promoted out of the 450 eligible for promotion. It is quite obvious, if these men had held out to them on joining some reasonable prospect of promotion, they should not be deprived of it by the inauguration of a new scheme of this character.
The rating of the artificer class has not been altered for about twenty-nine years. I believe it was in the year 1881. I know the chances of promotion are better now than they were in those days, and it might be urged that, though the rating has not been increased, the position has been improved. That may be so. It may be that a larger proportion of men get promotion than was the case thirty years ago. But still the great bulk of the men do not get it and I would therefore urge upon the Admiralty the desirability of the revision of the scale of pay of these men. I believe they start at 5s. 6d. per day. That may have been a reasonable figure thirty years ago. But let me remind the Admiralty that their requirements are ever increasing. During the last thirty years you have had introduced into the engineering industry the application of electricity and the extension of the principles of pneu- 899 matics. The man has necessarily to be a better man than thirty years ago—he has to know a good deal more, and he has to work with greater exactitude, and for that reason I think the time has come when there should be a revision of the scale of pay of the artificer class. Five shillings and sixpence may have been the rate of the ordinary engineer thirty years ago, but it is more now, and I hope the hon. Gentleman twill give serious consideration to the suggestion that in next year's Estimates some provision should be made for an increase in the pay of that class. I wish to ask, also, if the new scheme of training engineering and other officers as well as stokers is to be continued? So far as I know it has never been officially sanctioned—it has only been introduced as a sort of "thin edge of the wedge," and has been spoken of from time to time as being in an experimental stage. For my part, I begin to believe it to be a permanency, and if it is to obtain in the Navy for the future then I ask that some provision be made whereby promotion in the artificer class may be more rapid and more sure than it is at the present time, and also that an increase of wages should be given as speedily as possible.
§ Mr. LEE
I am sorry not to be able to agree with the whole speech delivered by the hon. Member for the Blackfriars Division of Glasgow (Mr. Barnes). He advanced a rather controversial proposition with regard to the merits of the particular scheme under discussion—as to whether it produced good results or not. I do not wish to follow up that point at length. The great bulk of professional opinion is, I believe, favourable to the scheme, and while the hon. Member is certainly an expert in one sense with regard to engineering knowledge, neither he nor I are naval experts, and therefore there is nothing to be gained by crossing swords on that point. I have great sympathy with his second point with regard to the opportunities which should be given for boys of another class to enter the Navy as officers if they have the requisite ability. As I understand it under the scheme under which the boys are selected, recommendations from distinguished people are not supposed to count, and the boy is judged on his merits. But the hon. Member put his finger on the weak point—so far as the boys in whom he takes especial interest are concerned—when he alluded to the subject of finance. 900 It is quite true, as he said, the boy's parents have to find something like £100 a year to maintain the boy at Osborne or Dartmouth, and that that does not recoup the Government for what it expends on him. But that does not alter the fact that £100 a year is beyond the reach of a very large section of the community, and while I do not go so far as to suggest that the Government should make all this education perfectly free, I do think it would not be too much to ask for the institution—as in other public schools—of a system of scholarships by means of which, through open competition, boys could get into the Navy if they have sufficient ability without their parents having to provide so substantial a sum. I think that would not involve the Exchequer in very great expense, and it would meet the real grievance brought forward by the hon. Member—a grievance with which I have very much sympathy. With regard to the question of the stokers, I must join issue rather sharply with the hon. Member. He naturally, as an engineer, looks with some partiality on the class of engineer artificers, and I suggest he takes a somewhat extreme trade union view with regard to the matter. I also have some sympathy with the stokers—a body of men who have or had no avenue of promotion whatsoever to a higher rank.
§ Mr. BARNES
We pointed out in the report we submitted to the Admiralty a year or two ago a possible avenue of promotion for stokers.
§ Mr. LEE
I do not know what those recommendations were, but they were evidently of a character which the Admiralty could not accept. One of the principal objects of that report, as I understand it, was that these 30,000 men who perform vital work in connection with the efficiency of the Fleet, and get very little of the glory and excitement of the sailor's life, should have a chance of being promoted to warrant rank—should have this avenue of promotion given to them. I do not think it is the case that every stoker seeking this promotion has to be put through a course of higher mathematics, but I believe the opportunity is given to exceptional men, and I should be very much surprised if official reports do not show that the men who are getting the promotion are thoroughly competent to discharge the duties to which the hon. Member referred. I thought it only right that both sides of this case should be stated.
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
When the Noble Lord the Member for Portsmouth (Lord Charles Beresford) was speaking last night he referred to the circular of 8th March, 1910, and cited one question which the boys were called upon to answer—a question which he suggested was hardly necessary. The First Lord seemed rather to imagine that it was a question set to officers and not to the boys. I should like to have the point cleared up, and to ask the First Lord whether he considers that the question will in any kind of way help the boys—as the Noble Lord put it yesterday—to lay a gun or fire a shot, or do anything else necessary to fit him for the hard, physical life on a man-of-war. I have no doubt the Financial Secretary to the Admiralty (Dr. Macnamara) has far superior knowledge to that which I have in this respect, but I differ from what he said on this point. I do not know whether it is quite clear that the boys or men who are able to pass these examinations get promotion over boys and other men who are practical in their knowledge and really understand the work. The Noble Lord the Member for Portsmouth (Lord Charles Beresford) put the point very ably yesterday, and I should like to have this question cleared up.
§ The FIRST LORD of the ADMIRALTY (Mr. McKenna)
There are one or two points which I should like to reply to at once, and my hon. Friend the Secretary to the Admiralty will take up other points which are more specifically addressed to him. The Noble Lord the Member for Portsmouth wanted to be assured upon the point as to whether the officers who were engineer specialists might become gunnery specialists, and, having become gunnery specialists, might go back and be engineer specialists.
§ Mr. McKENNA
No. I think the confusion that exists on this point is on account of the word "interchangeability" having been introduced into the discussion. There is no such thing as interchangeability as between the different branches in the ordinary sense, and I think the Noble Lord, if he looks back to the discussions which have taken place on this subject, will find that the Admiralty have always disowned the word interchangeability. The real fact is this, that once an officer is a specialist, whether as a gunnery, torpedo, naviga- 902 tion, or engineer specialist, he will be a specialist in that particular class of work. Nothing that he may do hereafter will disqualify him as a specialist, but the engineer specialist will in future, like the gunnery or torpedo specialist, be an executive officer, and just as the gunnery or torpedo specialist is qualified to become a commander, a captain, and an admiral, so the engineer specialist will be equally qualified. The engineer, instead of belonging to a different branch of the officer class—instead of being a non-executive officer—will become an executive officer, with all the rank and all the rights of promotion that any other executive specialist now enjoys. There will not be interchangeability between a gunnery lieutenant and an engineer lieutenant. The officer who is specially qualified as engineer will no doubt be appointed to execute engineer duties, just as the gunnery specialist is appointed to execute gunnery duties. You will never put the engineer specialist into the turret, nor the gunnery specialist into the engine-room, but either one or the other may go on the bridge. But there is no interchangeability, although there may be and there is a specialisation of function of the engineer branch exactly as exists now with regard to the gunnery or torpedo specialist. Of course, the specialisation does not extend beyond the rank of commander; the captain is not a specialist, as the Noble Lord is aware, and I would only remind him of that particular point.
My hon. Friend the Member for the Blackfriars Division (Mr. Barnes) is, I cannot help thinking, under a misapprehension as to the new scheme of training, and I really believe that when I have stated certain facts to him he will at any rate withdraw some of the opposition which he feels to the new scheme. He says, for instance, that under this new scheme theoretical knowledge is crammed into the young officer's head until he is twenty. What are the facts? Under the new scheme the cadet enters Osborne at twelve and a half years of age, and surely at that age a boy ought to have some general education given to him. Nobody will pretend that at twelve and a half a boy should specialise simply and solely in naval work. He must be educated for four years—two years at Osborne and two years at Dartmouth. Up to the age of sixteen and a half or seventeen the cadet receives a general education much superior to the general education which is given in any school in 903 the country, and after that age what happens to him? He goes to sea then continuously for five and a half years until the age of twenty-two. Is it reasonable to describe such a system as that as one in which we are cramming the young officer with theoretical knowledge until the age of twenty-one? They are, as a matter of fact, getting more sea training than they used to have; the only difference is that the officers under the new scheme get a better training than the old officers did. So much for the first point. Then my hon. Friend referred to the undemocratic character of the scheme. Let me at once disown on behalf of the Admiralty any charge that we desire to keep up the cost of educating the officers. If the House of Commons chooses to give the education free the Admiralty will be the last to object. We consider that we have made as great a demand upon the public as we can fairly make when we ask the nation to pay two-thirds of the cost of the education of the officer, and not, as my hon. Friend says, half.
We ask the public to pay two-thirds of the cost of the officer's training, and if the public wish to pay, not two-thirds, but three-thirds, the Admiralty will not object. So far as we are concerned we do not wish to raise any obstacle in regard to that. An hon. Member says that that cannot be done within these Estimates, and I would only remind him that the scheme is one which I have inherited. I do not make this remark at all by way of complaint, but in defending the scheme I must remind the House that I am not responsible, though I will accept full responsibility, and I believe in the scheme as a thoroughly sound one. What the Admiralty have done in this direction is this: We have approached the county councils, and suggested to them that they should establish scholarships so as to enable boys to be sent to Osborne and Dartmouth without regard to means. So far the scheme has not met with any response, but we shall never put any obstacle in the way of boys becoming officers without regard to the means of their parents. [An Hon. Member: "Why county councils?"] Because county councils have established scholarships for various purposes and we hoped they would establish something of the same sort.
Then my hon. Friend says the new scheme has made a change for the worse, and that under the old scheme boys could 904 enter the Navy as engineer officers with a far less charge on their parents than they can now. What are the real facts with regard to that point? Under the old scheme engineer cadets were entered at Keyham at the age of 14. They remained there for five years, and the cost to the parents was £40 a year. The parent had to bear the whole cost of the boy's education up to the age of 14 and then for five years had to find £40 a year. Under the new scheme the boy is entered at 12½, so that the parent is saved the whole cost of the charge of the boy from 12½ to 14. The boy is taken at 12½, and the charge to the parents in general cases is £75 a year. But we are allowed to make a reduction in the case of the sons of officers in the Army, Navy, and Marines, which includes engineers, and, I believe, warrant officers, and take a cadet at £40 a year. These cases come to me constantly. Only yesterday I sanctioned two cases. We always have an investigation into the means of the parent, and when we find that they are insufficient to pay £75, we reduce the fees to £40. In these cases the actual cost to the parent is less than in the old days at Keyham, so that no charge can fairly be brought against the new scheme that in that respect it is less democratic than the old. It is a very much wider question to discuss whether the whole cost should be borne upon the Navy Estimates and no charge be made at all on the parent for the maintenance of the boy. The objection to our instituting scholarships is this: if we did it we should have to give scholarships at 12½ as the result of an examination of boys of whom we have had no previous experience at all, and whom we can only test on their paper work. It has been admitted on all hands that if there is one undesirable thing for boys more than another, it is to submit them to the cramming which is inevitable if you are to make their career dependent on the test of a paper examination at 12½. We thought that if we left the matter to the county councils they could award scholarships on the reports of the teachers in the schools. They would have means to judge which we have not. The cost would be very small. It is not an item that some of our wealthy county councils would make much account of. We should be certainly willing to meet them in any way in our power. I am sure that if there was any general desire that the cost should be borne by the public, by this means the right way would be found.
§ Mr. BARNES
The right hon. Gentleman has missed the point of the abolition of the entry of boys from the dockyards.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I admit that has gone, but I had hoped that the place of those boys might have been taken by county council scholarship boys.
§ Viscount MORPETH
The question of the cost of education is rather more difficult than it is assumed by some hon. Members to be. It is not only a question of paying for the boys, but of finding money while at Osborne and Dartmouth, and according to the regulations of the Service, the parent has to find a certain amount of money later on when the boy is on a ship, and guarantee that amount of private income when he is already, to a certain extent, an officer. If he finds, after getting a scholarship, that he cannot maintain himself without further assistance, it seems to be very cruel kindness. Without going into the question whether the country should be made to pay for the whole cost of the training at Osborne and Dartmouth, I say to the right hon. Gentleman that if he is going to count on any material assistance from the county councils he will find himself profoundly mistaken. The county councils will hold, I think, quite rightly, that this is a national matter, and that it is for the nation, if they think officers should be trained at the cost of the nation, to pay for them out of Imperial taxes, as part of the upkeep of the Navy, and it is not for the Admiralty, which has control of enormous sums of money derived from the taxpayers, to go to the hard-pressed county councils, who find it difficult enough to make both educational ends meet as it is, to undertake the extra charge of paying part of the cost of training officers. Even if that were not so, I fail entirely to see how, if they were really to undertake it, it would be possible to fit in a system of county councils with the present system of entry into Osborne. I presume a boy in an elementary school would not receive a sufficiently high standard of education, and the boys would be taken from secondary or grammar schools, and I think the right hon. Gentleman has rightly ruled out competitive examinations as bad from the point of view of the Service and of the boy. But if a boy is chosen on the report of a headmaster, and the county council is to say, "On the recommendation of such a headmaster we think certain boys are likely candidates for the Navy," are those boys thereupon to be entitled to go straight in, or would they be subject to 906 rejection by the committee of Admirals and other gentlemen who pass the boys into the Navy at present? No county council would be willing to pay a scholarship to a boy who was liable to be rejected by the committee of selection. For these reasons I think if the right hon. Gentleman seriously desires to meet the problem in regard to popularising entry into the Service and allowing boys whose parents have not large means to enter, the proper way would be for the First Lord to exercise very freely the powers, which he tells the House he has, to admit boys into the Service at a lower age than at present. That seems to be the straightforward and reasonable way of doing it. It seems to me very proper that officers already in the Navy who cannot pay, or perhaps may not be able to afford the full charge, should receive that assistance and be enabled to enter their sons in the Service in which they themselves have already served.
§ Mr. GIBSON BOWLES
The suggestion of the Noble Lord (Lord Morpeth) does not, I think, meet the case made by the hon. Member for the Blackfriars Division (Mr. Barnes). No doubt there are cases in which remissions from the charges are made for the ordinary Navy training. These are deductions which necessarily ought to be specified. We could not allow the First Lord of the Admiralty to go absolutely loose—not even the right hon. Gentleman who occupies that position at present—and decide what boy should be admitted to one grade and what boy to another. That would be quite impossible. It is absolutely necessary in regard to remissions of fees and the admission of some boys at a less charge than others that the matter should be dealt with by regulations. One of the great difficulties I saw in this new scheme when it was first introduced in 1902 was that it would enormously increase the power of nomination on the part of the First Lord of the Admiralty. I think it gave him the power to make 1,500 more nominations than before. I for one could never consent that the right hon. Gentleman should enjoy the power of making all these nominations and that he should also enjoy the power of fixing the sum which a boy should have for helping his education. The point raised by the hon. Member for the Blackfriars Division is a very serious one, and it shows that you have in fact done several injuries by this new scheme of education, for which hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite are largely responsible. In the first place 907 you are depriving a most meritorious set of men of the opportunity of going into the engineering branch of the Navy. Under the old conditions they had less difficulty in entering. But you are doing something which is very much worse than that. The grievance of the hon. Member is a very serious one, because you are depriving the engineering branch of the Navy of a class of men who introduce the best engineers into the Mercantile Marine. You are depriving them of the only possible avenue to the engineering branch they formerly had—that was through Keyham. The charges were small, and there were many opportunities for the sons of dockyard men and of old naval officers to take up the engineering branch. Let me impress upon the House that the faculty of mechanical engineering is one which runs largely in families. I believe there is great transmission of mechanical aptitude. Take the engineers in the Mercantile Marine. They almost all come from that excellent stubbly-bearded engineering class of Glasgow, who seem born for the purpose of running engines, and there are no better engineers in the wide world. That is the sort of man you want to get into the Navy, and you did get him when you had Keyham open. Now you have substituted for him another sort of young man—"young gentleman" as he is called—who is not apt for engineering, and who will not take to it kindly. He has none of the aptitudes and the traditions of the mechanical engineer. You do this by excluding the very class you ought to get in. The hon. Member for the Blackfriars Division said that the cost of a boy sent to the "Britannia" in the ordinary way is £100 a year. I have had two sons sent into the Navy, and I know that they cost me a very great deal more than £100 a year. The cost of the uniform and the different charges which have to be met are not inconsiderable. Do you mean to say that I could get another son, or a few more sons, into the Navy under the present system at less than £75 a year which I had to pay before?
§ Mr. McKENNA
My hon. Friend says that his two sons cost him more than £100 a year. I have reminded him that his sons were entered under the old scheme. The new scheme is cheaper.
§ Mr. GIBSON BOWLES
I do not see how it is cheaper. When they join they have to get the same uniform and they have to be provided with a sum for pocket- 908 money. I do not see, at any rate, that it will be greatly cheaper. You are inflicting an injury not only on the engineering class, but on the very best class you should have in the engineering department. While you are inflicting injury upon them, you are conferring no benefit on the set of gentlemen who come in under the new conditions. I want to say a word in reply to the Noble Lord, who seems to be still under the impression that the system of interchangeability did not arise under the 1902 scheme. May I quote what Lord Selborne, then First Lord of the Admiralty, said on 25th February, 1902? He said he had no doubt "that the scheme will work out so that all these branches of the naval service will throughout the career of the officer be interchangeable." I venture to say that interchangeability was intended, and was embodied in the scheme of 1902. One of the most disastrous features of the scheme is the effect it will have on the engineering branch of the Service, for you keep out the right men and put the wrong men in the stokehold.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
I think I can throw a little light on one point raised by the hon. Member for King's Lynn (Mr. Gibson Bowles). He regretted that those stubbly-bearded men who come from Scotland are not coming to-day into the Navy. My own experience in regard to that is rather different from that of the hon. Member. At the time when the new scheme was being introduced in 1902 I happened, as head of the Scottish Education Department, to be in correspondence with the Admiralty upon the very point that the stubbly-bearded Glasgow men did not enter the engineering branch of the Navy. Almost every engineer in the mercantile marine is a Scotchman. There is scarcely an engineer in the Navy who is a Scotchman. On inquiry we found that they were excluded for a reason that was perfectly plain, but it was not the reason which was suggested by the hon. Member opposite. The reason was that a Scottish parent would not send his son even to Keyham. A Scotchman who is ambitious for his son's welfare will not take him away from the ordinary school at so early an age as that which was demanded for entry at Keyham and still less for entry at Osborne. I regret it, but that is the fact. Those who are training for engineers in Scotland wish to go to a factory or to some general engineering works. They do not leave the ordinary school at so early an age as is required 909 to specialise for the engineering branch of the Navy. That evil, I regret, existed at Keyham, and it is only to a slight extent exaggerated under the present system. Whatever may be the merits of the present system in other respects, I am afraid it does not get you out of the difficulty that parents who intend that their sons should become engineers wish that they should remain a little longer at general education before they are earmarked for a particular calling.
That might be a right or a wrong opinion, but it is prevalent very widely in Scotland. One other point was raised with regard to those scholarships gained from educational colleges both in England and in Scotland. I would like to see the correspondence, if there has been any on the point, with any of the educational authorities. There is an immense number of scholarships granted by educational authorities all over the country which are perfectly general in the conditions of their tenure. They may be held at a university or they might be held at a technical institution, or at an institution for special training. I would wish to know if any of those eligible for such scholarships have asked whether they would be allowed to go to Osborne, and if that request has been refused by any educational officers. I very much doubt it. I contend, and I speak with a very large experience, that they are perfectly justified and perfectly entitled under the conditions on which they grant these scholarships to permit the holder to go to Osborne if he wishes. I would wish to know whether the First Lord has been told that any of those educational authorities have been approached and requested by the particular candidate to be allowed to take his scholarship to Osborne, and if the candidate has been refused by the educational authorities. That, of course, would solve the difficulty if it were so, and I believe that they have the power.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the ADMIRALTY (Dr. Macnamara)
The hon. Member has, I think, forgotten that the boys enter at twelve and a half. I am not aware of any such scholarships that can be held at the age of twelve and a half.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
There are scholarships granted by many educational authorities which can be held at twelve years of age. I can speak with perfect certainty with regard to Scotland, where they are granted by almost all the educational authorities.
§ Mr. EYRES-MONSELL
After the attendance on yesterday and to-day it can no longer be said that very little interest is taken in the Naval Estimates, and this is a fact that will be very much appreciated in the Navy. The hon. Member for King's Lynn (Mr. Gibson Bowles) does not like the new scheme. A lot of people do not like the new scheme, but it is too late now to talk about likes and dislikes. It is the only one we have got, and we have got to work it. The officers in the Navy, some of whom intensely dislike this scheme, are working loyally to carry it out. The training at Osborne, I think, is most excellent, and is better than any training which the boys have had in this country before; but there is this point, that when they go to sea in some ships they are naturally keener on education than on others, and take it up more strongly. I think it rather unfair on the boys who have been out in a slack ship that when they come to be examined they are at a great disadvantage as compared with the other boys. I hope this matter will be taken into account. Another point I may mention is that we are getting a new order of midshipmen altogether. It may be a good thing, but I think it is losing a great deal of the old tradition. I am a Conservative, and perhaps because of that I value tradition very much, especially with regard to our Service. Now I understand that a great many of the same seniority go to sea in these ships. There is no senior midshipman with them. They are being isolated altogether from this class of midshipmen. They may have been a very bad lot. I do not think they were, having been one of them myself. I think the new midshipmen are better educated, but I think it is a mistake that there is no mixing up. I think also that there should be better standardisation of training when they get to sea. I believe that is being done. I understand that a syllabus is being issued.
§ Mr. EYRES-MONSELL
I am very glad to hear it, but I think they ought to be mixed up a little more so as to learn the old traditions of the Service.
§ Mr. HARWOOD
I wish to draw attention to an impression which prevails very largely in my part of the country, and that is that people have not a fair chance of getting their sons into the Service. I am not referring to the question of cost, but I am speaking of the people who are 911 quite prepared to pay the cost. They do not think they have a fair chance of putting their sons into this career. I have had to do with a number of cases, and I have been told that the practice is that when you say your grandfather was an admiral at once you go forward. That is quite so; I can give the names. I say quite frankly that I do not think it is fair. The Navy is not the traditional preserve of any class. I do not want to put it on vulgar grounds. We are always supposed in my county to take a vulgar view of things; I mean the money view. I have heard that Lancashire and Yorkshire together pay two-fifths of the cost of the Navy. Whatever it is, they pay a very large sum, and the numbers of their sons in the Service is ridiculously out of proportion to what they pay towards the cost of the Navy. Again and again I have in my fifteen years' experience in this House come across the same difficulty. The feeling has got so widespread that no one thinks of bringing up for this Service young fellows who would be very suitable because they are blocked at the nomination gate. They do not get over it unless a Member of Parliament puts on some very improper pressure, or something of that kind is done, otherwise they have not the remotest chance of getting in. The love of the sea beats in the blood of Englishmen, whether their fathers were admirals or not, and people do object to this Service being regarded as a family preserve for people who have been in it before. Because the fathers had a good pull out of it, the sons are to have a good pull, and we poor people who are paying the piper are not to have a look in at all. I may be wrong, but I tell the First Lord that this is a very wide and general impression, and I find it exists when parents ask me what they should do with their boys, and that they are boys with fine spirit and engineering ability There is a kind of tradition of engineering capacity in my country. We are nearly all engineers. We have got that in the blood. A ship-of-war nowadays is really a big factory, and we are accustomed to factories. I am quite certain that there is a very strong feeling among the working classes that they have not got this career open to them. It is never thought of. I wish you could take a "Dreadnought" through Lancashire and Yorkshire. The Fleet is not known there, and the career is never thought of by people who are the most capable in the country.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I wish to explain to my hon. Friend, the Member for Bolton (Mr. Harwood) that he is under a misapprehension in thinking that there is any question of a family preserve. He is quite wrong in that idea, because anybody can enter his son—theoretically. I use that word advisedly, because I want to deal with what is a real point in a moment, and that is the question as to the incidence of the cost which was raised by other hon. Members, and which involves a problem which calls for very serious consideration. But on this question of family preserve, theoretically, anybody can enter his son. A confidential report is furnished by the boy's schoolmaster. Then he comes before the interview committee, which I sufficiently described yesterday.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
No, he does not. Anybody can come before the interview committee, I say theoretically, and I must repeat that. We will suppose that there are a couple of hundred applicants, and we want a much smaller number. The interview committee examine the boys with great skill and in a very searching manner, and somewhere or other, if I may so put it, draw a line. It is only after the interview that any question of nomination comes in.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
Certainly. As a Member of the Board of Admiralty I have a nomination, and if I have already nominated a boy, and that boy is below the standard, he does not come in at all. The nomination does him no good whatever. If he is above the line, my nomination, no doubt, will secure him.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
The record of the boy shows the occupation of the father to the interview committee. As to the nominations, the Secretary of the Colonies has a certain number, and the Colonies send in certain boys, but such nominations as there are do not take effect until after the interview, except in the case of Colonial nominees residing in the Colony.
913 A point was raised in regard to the working-man not being able to enter his son for the career of a naval officer. As a matter of fact, the question of cost is a restriction upon what I have called the theoretical opportunity for everybody to enter this career. I myself during the time I have been at the Admiralty have given a great deal of attention to the question of cost and its restrictive character in narrowing the area of selection. The extent of the cost has been variously stated this afternoon. The parent pays for four years £75 a year—£75 for two years at Osborne and £75 for two years at Dartmouth—£75 in each of the four years. In addition there are other expenses, such as railway fares, school outfit, school expenses of various kinds, and subscriptions in support of different funds. Besides the £75 for each of the four years, there is £50 a year during three years as midshipman for the boy's maintenance, and these sums, with the additional expenses to which I have referred, bring the total to an average of £600 or £650. I think I am certainly well inside the mark when I say £600.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
The parents pay £75 a year for four years; then there are the additional charges covering the school period and then there is £50 a year for three years as midshipman. The additional charges to which I have referred would be, of course, inseparable from any ordinary public school, and the average cost is from £600 to £650. As has already been stated, the Admiralty have the power to reduce the £75 to £40 in certain cases, namely, the sons of Navy and Army officers, the sons of officers of Marines, and the sons of Civil officers of the Admiralty up to 10 per cent, of the total number of entries the reduction of £40 can be made. The system is not more expensive that the old system, because, under it, when a boy was entered a couple of years later, his parents had to meet the heavier cost of maintaining the boy often at a crammer's. My hon. Friend the Member for the Blackfriars Division referred to dockyard apprentices who, under the old system at Keyham, might become constructors.
§ Mr. BARNES
Is there to be no reduction of fees in the case of a smart apprentice who can qualify for the Navy; is he to get no advantage when others only pay a fee of £40?
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
As far as naval construction is concerned I think the Admiralty say that the fee is to be reduced to £40 in certain cases, and the boys pay no more than that now. I do not think the present system is more expensive on the whole than the old one, but I think that hon. Members are undoubtedly right in calling attention to the restrictive character of the cost. Personally, I have always felt that this scheme is so admirable in many respects that, as far as I am concerned, I have done nothing to raise this question in an administrative form but I recognise that this matter of cost is the weak place, and that undoubtedly the expenses are of a restrictive character. You could, of course, abolish fees altogether, or you could reduce them, or you could offer scholarships for which everybody could compete. All these are ways of attaining the end in view, but the system is so good, and it has turned out to be so excellent, that I personally should hesitate from interfering with it, although I am a man from the ranks myself, and have most keen sympathy with anybody who wishes to enter this great Service. I am very glad indeed that we have had this discussion, and in regard to propositions which have not occurred to me before in the form in which they have been put, I am quite sure I can say, on behalf of my colleagues, that we will give them every consideration, and if we can possibly widen the basis without injuring in any way what is undoubtedy a first-class piece of work, I am sure that careful consideration of the matter will not be wanting. Leaving that subject, I turn to the question raised by the hon. Member for Blackfriars in regard to engine-room artificers and mechanicians. This is, of course, an old story. My hon. Friend has gone over it before. It is said that the mechanician class is ousting or trying to oust the skilled engine-room artificers because we are making skilled workmen of stokers. Lord Selborne started a mechanician class in such a way as to turn out men who would become more or less inefficient engine-room artificers. That was given up; but, with a proper desire to do something, an opportunity was opened to the first-class stokers to reach warrant rank, and also to let the engine- 915 room artificers go to the work for which they are most qualified. An endeavour was made, I think with great success, to train the very best class of stokers to join the mechanician class. I do not think my hon. Friend is quite aware of the working of this system. Under it we select the best men from the stoker class, and they are put under systematic training in respect of every class of auxiliary machinery. The best of these first-class stokers, when the ship is paid off, are put at work for three months to show if they are good enough men to join the mechanician class, and, if they succeed, they are at once noted for the mechanician course. No man over twenty-eight years of age is selected to go through this course, which continues for two years, which is of a very exhaustive character, and which is such as to give a thorough knowledge of the working of the engines. At the end of that time they are put through a theoretical examination. I remember the occasion on which the hon. Members for Wansbeek and Launceston and my hon. Friend and I visited the "Indus" where these mechanicians were under training, and I thought they were greatly pleased with the system of training. They remember how each responded to the telegraph and how admirably they carried out the work of driving the engine on that occasion. The idea that the operation of this system is to oust the skilled mechanic is altogether a wrong one. These mechanicians are not unskilled men, very far from it; and the engine-room artificers are being withdrawn from these particular functions in order that they may be applied to the purposes for which they were originally appointed. Moreover, we have opened up, as the hon. Gentleman, the Member for Fareham (Mr. Lee), said, warrant rank to a very large and deserving class. I hope I have satisfied my hon. Friend on the question of the mechanicians. Only one word as to the new scheme of common entries—a question raised by the Noble Lord the Member for Portsmouth and another hon. Member. I stated yesterday that on 1st May, 1908, a general circular was issued in the course of which this phrase occurred:—The details of the scheme will be subject to revision as experience may show to be necessary.That, of course, has been a matter of discussion to-day and yesterday. The scheme will continue in its main principles, subject to consideration of its details, and we shall, of course, give consideration to, 916 and avail ourselves of, any profitable advice received from any part of the House. There is only one thing more, namely, the question of the pamphlet— "The Truth about the Navy." I am not concerned to make too much of that, and I am sure the Noble Lord is not.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
The pamphlet was published by a private firm in 1906. It was never added to our catalogue; it was never officially issued as an Admiralty circular might be, or an Admiralty Regulation; it was distributed as a pamphlet for ship libraries, just like other unofficial books, or literature, or periodicals might be issued. The cost was not borne by the Admiralty. I have gone into the matter very carefully, and, as I said yesterday, no money was voted for it on this Vote. The money came from the Stationery Office. With great respect we are dealing now with Vote 5 of the Navy Estimates, and the point I am raising is that there was no money in those Estimates for that. The money came from the Stationery Office Vote, but I imagine Vote 12 of the Navy Estimates covers the whole ground of our administration. The total expenditure, I think, was between £19 and £20 for the distribution of those pamphlets by the Stationery Office for the purpose of ships' libraries, like any other periodical that might be circulated in that way. The Noble Lord will be glad to hear that it is no longer included in the ship's library or supplied to the ships. It is possible some of the copies may still be in the ships' libraries. I cannot say, but it is rather doubtful. It was issued in paper covers, as the Noble Lord knows, four years ago, like a good deal of ephemeral literature, to be read and thrown aside. It was not bound as we bind the permanent books for the library. It was issued in the way I have described, and I hope the matter will now be allowed to drop. I am quite sure the Noble Lord, having been assured that it is not now, and never has been, on any catalogue, and is not issued, may foe prepared to let the matter drop, because I can see no good purpose in further reviving a somewhat ancient and until yesterday entirely forgotten incident.
§ Mr. CHARLES DUNCAN
I think this is the second occasion on which the question of engine-room artificers has been 917 raised in the House. I have listened to the reply given to the hon. Member for Blackfriars (Mr. Barnes) with some interest, and I might also say with some amusement. The point, as it occurs to me, is this, that the class of men who compose the engine-room artificers are drawn from the ranks of the working engineers in all parts of the country, and those men have joined the Navy under a certain scheme with some hope of real promotion. Those men are all trained in the working and construction of the various machines; they are men who, when they joined the Navy, have gone through the mill, and understand all the points both about the working, the construction, and the driving of machinery. Therefore I suggest that they are just exactly the best type of men you could have in the Navy to perform work of that kind. The point that strikes me as being amusing is that I cannot quite understand why it is necessary to go to all the expense of choosing certain men in the stoker rank and giving them a certain training when you already have in the Navy men who have all this training to their hand. Not only is that so, but one would imagine from the replies that such a thing as the mercantile marine did not exist at all. That is where the defence of this system breaks down in my judgment. You have the same class of men as those who are in the Navy as engine-room artificers joining the mercantile marine. There is a reason why the Navy does not get perhaps the best kind of man, or as many men as they would like to join the engine-room artificers. The reason is exceedingly simple, and it is this, that in the mercantile marine, if a young man makes up his mind to serve his time to be an engineer and to join the mercantile marine, he has at any rate a splendid career open to him. He can go away to sea for twelve months and serve four years in the construction of engines and boilers, and then he has got to go another year to sea before he is entitled to be examined for a third engineer's ticket. The man who so joined the mercantile marine has the prospect and can become the chief engineer on the largest steamship there is afloat in the mercantile marine of this country, and with a really large salary. There are shipowners in this House now and they know quite as well as I do that there are plenty of men in the engineers' shops just the same as the engine-room artificers who have a really magnificent prospect, and who earn very large salaries indeed.
918 With regard to the Navy, I think those who are responsible for the answer that has been given do not realise that as soon as ever you supersede the artificer and give the stoker the watch-keeping duty then you put the trained stoker in the position of chief engineer in the mercantile marine, and you bar the artificer from ever hoping to arrive at the position in the Navy similar to that of the men in the mercantile marine. That is the real point at issue, and I would like an answer to be given on it, because after all what we have heard so far from those on the Treasury Bench with regard to this matter carries no weight, and no conviction to our minds. We know perfectly well that the artificers in the Navy realise that there is a stone wall in front of them, and that there is no hope of the advance they were led to expect when they joined. We know quite well that so far as prospects go with regard to the engineering class they are infinitely higher in the mercantile marine than in the Navy. We want to know the reason why, and we would ask that you should frankly let us know. We were told by a gentleman who was on the Opposition side in the course of the last Debate in 1908, that the desire was to eliminate all trace of any trades unionism in the Navy. I do not say that that is true, but still, it was given here by one who has been in the Navy and who has since been transferred to another place. I think we are entitled to some explanation on this question. I know that there is a good deal of dissatisfaction amongst the men in the engine room in the Navy. Those men believe that they are gradually being superseded. I venture to say, as one who has gone through the mill in the engineering trade, and from my own experience, that those men are fit to occupy high positions in the mercantile marine, and that they should be quite fit to occupy high positions in the Navy. I cannot see any reason why that should not be so. I know that the men are all of the same type, with a great interest in their work, and in the developments which are taking place and all the mechanical improvements of the age. I realise as well as any man in this House that the Navy is, and will be, and must be dependent to a tremendous extent upon the engineers to keep the machinery right. After all, if you engage in a naval war, it does not matter if you have a thousand "Dreadnoughts" if the engines will not revolve. Therefore, it is of the greatest importance, 919 and I think that those who are interested in the machinery department of the Navy will, as time goes on, occupy, and must necessarily occupy, a higher and more important position than they do to-day.
I think that the present scheme in operation is against all mechanical development. I took the trouble to read the details of the inquiry that took place before the scheme was brought into operation. I was very much surprised to find that only five witnesses appeared before the Committee that reported on this question. It seems to me that there should have been more in a matter of this magnitude, where you have between 3,000 and 4,000 men who have been induced to join with the hope and prospect of improvement in their position, and where you have men of from twenty-six to twenty-eight, and I have heard even from thirty to thirty-two advocated, where you have those men who join the Navy as stokers given a mechanical training, while at the same time you have men in the Navy competent for the work, and who have all this training at their hands. The great point has been made, and it appears that this is the explanation that is sought to be given to us, namely, that the artificers are in the Navy to repair the machinery. That is very frank, almost brutally frank, if the hon. Member will forgive me for saying so. But it seems to me that there is scarcely any fairness to those men in putting them down to that particular position. It is assumed that the engine-room artificer is only skilled in the making of engines. Every man who has served his time in an engineering shop has driven machinery, understands the construction of all kinds of machines, engines, and boilers, and, therefore, you are not getting the best out of a man when you simply put him down to the job of acting as repairer of engines, and when you do not give him the higher and better prospect of driving the engines as well. That is not all, bad as it is, and it is bad in my judgment, because such a thing has so far never been dreamt of in the mercantile marine.
In the mercantile marine the ordinary engineer can rise to the highest position that there is in the engineering department, but he cannot do that in the Navy. Not only is that so, but there is another point in this connection which so far seems to have escaped attention, and that is that as soon as you train your stoker to 920 watch-keeping duties then he becomes a superior officer of the man who has been specially trained in the making and construction and driving of engines. That is to me an amazing thing indeed. One might carry the parallel into other classes of life. For instance, suppose a barrister or solicitor were compelled only to follow his own trade and not to be allowed to enter the House of Commons, then the Treasury Bench would lose a good deal of its occupants. The limitation there is in my judgment exactly on the same lines as the limitation which exists with regard to engine-room artificers in the Navy. I suppose those who sit on the Treasury Bench would object to such a limitation, and I think it might be very easily understood why the artificers object, and very strongly object, to being superseded by men who have not had the same training and who were not as highly skilled in the construction and driving of machinery. Not only are they to suffer in their prospect of promotion in the Navy, but they are at the same time degraded in the sense of having less skilled men put in authority over them. That is a position which has never been answered from the Treasury Bench. I should be very much interested to listen to an explanation. I quite understand the limitations of those who are sitting on the Treasury Bench and the difficulty they have in getting hold of the points in cases similar to this. I can still further understand that those who have served their time to the engineering trade and who understand the business both inside and out have a better grip of the position even than those who gave us the explanation. Therefore I shall not be surprised if the answer is not as good as it might be. I should, however, like to have some explanation of this difficulty other than the one already given. These men feel that they are labouring under a great injustice, and they resent it very strongly. If the Navy is to be conducted as it ought to be, if it is to be the success that everybody desires it should be, if it is to be as strong, effective, and useful as we all think it ought to be, it can only be by having in the engine-room the men who have been the best trained for these positions.
§ Sir CHARLES DILKE
I wish to ask your direction, Sir, with regard to the conduct of the Debate on this Vote. The Committee made an attempt yesterday to discuss on the Vote the position of the engine-room artificers, but the Chairman 921 ruled the discussion out of order. The numbers of the engine-room artificers are on Vote A, and their pay on Vote 1, and hitherto we have had to deal with them on that Vote. The question is, how far they may be dealt with on this Vote. My hon. Friend's argument is perfectly sound, as the whole question is affected by the engineering education of the other men.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The matter involves technical questions which I do not profess to understand; but as the hon. Member for Barrow was permitted to go on without any objection being taken, I do not think it would be right for me now to rule out further discussion on the subject.
§ Sir FORTESCUE FLANNERY
I desire to offer a few observations, not on behalf of the engine-room artificers, but in the interests of the engine-room of His Majesty's Navy. It is true that I had some responsibility in agitating for the new scheme and in giving evidence before the Committee; but it seems to me that that scheme in its modern developments may lead to a considerable danger which the Admiralty may easily regret if they do not stop it in time. So far as I can judge by this Debate, the management of the machinery in the Fleet is, or will be in the near future, in the hands of two different types or classes of individuals. You have, first, the specialised engineer officers who have never been occupied in the workshop manufacture of machinery, in the sense referred to by the hon. Member for Barrow; and, secondly, the engine-room artificers, who have been so occupied and have had a training of the most practical character in the manufacture of engines. Then you have the promoted stokers, whose training has been so clearly and lucidly described by the Secretary for the Admiralty. If the engine-room artificer is to be in a state of dissatisfaction, as I know he is at the present time, if he is not to have the opportunities for promotion which were formerly open to him, but which are about to be closed against him—
§ Sir FORTESCUE FLANNERY
That is the general feeling, at all events. If that is so, you will not have the large entry of 922 the best men in the branch of engine-room artificers that you formerly had from the marine workshops throughout the country. Supposing the engine-room artificers were driven out or seriously reduced in number, what would your condition be? You would have, for the management of the engine-room, your engineer specialised officers, who have not had the thorough practical training of at least four years, and in most cases five or six years, in the workshop, available for dealing with serious or even the small repairs in time of emergency. Your engineer specialised officer, however valuable he may be, however necessary to discipline, however superior to the former class of engineer officers, would not be so useful in the case of serious breakdowns, in time of peace or war, as the practical mechanic who has had a prolonged training in the workshop. Whom would you fall back upon? Your stoker mechanician? I do not wish to say a word against the system which has been established of opening out a career of promotion for 30,000 men who are so important as the stokers. You will get a better and more contented class of men, and you will get better work out of them if they have that opportunity of promotion. I admit at once that it was an excellent move in the promotion of the prosperity of the personnel of the Navy. But are you not carrying it too far? Are your stoker mechanicians men upon whom you can rely for dealing with the heavy repairs or with emergency repairs in the same manner that you could upon the engine-room artificer? Speaking as a practical man, I say absolutely "No."
§ Sir FORTESCUE FLANNERY
I was asking whether you did, and you say "No." Then you must make such arrangements as will continue a proportionately large number of engine-room artificers in the Fleet. That is what I am urging upon the attention of the Admiralty. At present your stoker mechanician who has had, first of all, experience as a stoker, and has been promoted, is performing duties which in a mercantile navy are know as "donkey" duties—looking after the auxiliary machinery. He has had a special training as a coppersmith, a fitter, or a turner for a short time. However useful that man may be as a "donkey man" and to assist in repairs, he is of no real value in comparison with a trained mechanic for heavy or light 923 repairs in time of emergency. The danger I see in the more recent development of this excellent reform in the engine-room branch of the Fleet is that you may be squeezing out the engine-room artificer. You have stopped the possibility of promotion to the higher rank, and you are bringing underneath him a class of man who may, to some extent, by promotion take his place. The Secretary to the Admiralty expressed his anxiety to be told of any weak points in the scheme which he said was working so well. I speak with much the same experience as the hon. Member for Barrow when I refer to the career open to the practical engineer in the mercantile marine. Most, in fact all, of the superintending engineers in the great lines are men who have begun in this way. They have had a long workshop experience, served their apprenticeship, and passed into the higher rank. The Board of Trade will not permit a mercantile ship to go to sea without a number, proportionate to the size of the vessel, of men who have had this practical workshop experience, and served their apprenticeship. No man in the mercantile marine can get his certificate for competency as an engineer unless he has served his apprenticeship. With many years' experience in matters connected with breakdowns at sea and repairs on shore, I warn the Admiralty against what seems to me to be the rising danger of so limiting the opportunities of advance to the practical working engineer, called the engine-room artificer, that his numbers in the Navy may be seriously reduced, because in that case the work of repairs would be in the hands of those who have not had the prolonged training that is absolutely necessary for the performance of that duty.
§ Question put, and agreed to.