§ 11. Mr. MIDDLEMORE
asked whether the period allowed for the annual refit of armoured ships has been reduced to one month; whether this has been found to involve the working of day and night shifts, as well as overtime, in the dockyards; and whether the Admiralty have found that this conduces to good workmanship and economical administration?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Sir; the importance of reducing the length of time for which vessels were absent from the fleet and the consequent weakening of the squadrons led me earlier in the year to appoint a Committee to make proposals for remedying this serious evil. The new system which has been thoroughly worked out is now in full and satisfactory operation. The programme of refits has been arranged on a four weeks' basis. In certain circumstances night shifts and overtime may have to be resorted to in order to secure the punctual return to the fleet of every vessel according to its date. The quality of the workmanship is not expected to suffer, and it is anticipated that the general effect of the new arrangement will result in an increase in the average strength of the fighting squadrons at a comparatively small additional cost.