HC Deb 18 March 1912 vol 35 cc1618-57

I beg to move as an Amendment to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in odrer to add instead thereof the words, "this House is of opinion that a Royal Commission should be appointed to inquire into the system of employment, pay, and pensions in His-Majesty's Dockyards and Navy."

In rising to call attention to certain matters regarding the system of employment, pay, and pensions in the Royal Navy, to move the Amendment, the terms of which, I venture to hope, will meet with support from all sections of the House, I do not think that the House will expect mo to present a full and complete case for a Royal Commission. In the first place, were I to attempt to do so I am afraid I should still be speaking at eleven o'clock; and secondly, there arc, I believe, many speakers who are to follow, and who would, no doubt, fill up some of the many gaps which I am compelled to make. In dealing with the system of employment in the dockyards, I should like to make a few observations as to the recent Admiralty Order requiring all labour to be engaged through the Labour Exchanges. Until this idea sprung up in the fertile brain of the Financial Secretary, it was the custom of the yard officials to keep their own lists, and when they wanted extra labour to select their own men. What happens now? The yard officials naturally objected to the possibility of inefficient workmen being foisted upon them from outside sources, and so, by way of compromise, they are allowed to send their lists to the Labour Exchanges, and when vacancies occur to send to the Exchanges for the men they know and the men they want. Not only then does the selection, but the actual nomination remains where it was. All the Admiralty Order has done is to transfer a small amount of responsibility which the yard officials have always been ready and willing to bear. I was informed, I do not say officially, that one of the results expected from the new system is that labour can be more easily and more promptly supplied. My answer to that is, Can the First Lord of the Admiralty name an occasion when it has been necessary to import Government labour from one dockyard town to another, and would he undertake the responsibility for such an employment, knowing as he does, and as hon. Members opposite know, the extreme uncertainty for this kind of labour in Government yards? Not long ago a special kind of workman was required. The yard official himself supplied the man, and the man, who lived some distance off, when he arrived went straight to the yard and was taken on. Then, and then only as a mere matter of form, did the man register his name on the Labour Exchange. That instance will serve to show the absurdity and the overlapping of the new system. I fully appreciate the anxiety of the Government to find business for an undertaking which cost the country a quarter of a million to set up, as well as to find work for their twelve hundred nondescript officials; but I protest against an Admiralty Order being used for that purpose. The new process entails additional expense to the country, is of no service whatever to the officials, does not make for greater efficiency, and is of no use whatever to the working man.

I pass on to the question of establishment. Prior to the year 1907 the number of established men authorised for the Royal dockyards was 7,000, and the number of men employed in 1906–7 was 25,240, so that of the total number of men employed during that year 28 per cent, were established. This year the total number of men estimated to be employed is 34,000, and the authorised number of established men is cut down to 6,000, or 19 per cent. In six years, therefore, we have seen a reduction in the establishment of 500 men, and on the lowest scale of 9 per cent. I say on the lowest scale, because the right hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary told me, in answer to a question last year, that there were 4,000 more men employed in the dockyards than had been estimated for at the beginning of the financial year; and so I have no doubt it will be likewise this year, and that you will find several thousand more men employed in the yards. Thus the deficiency, instead of being 9 per cent, will, I have no doubt, come up to 12 per cent. As I understand, the object of the establishment is to have ready in the Royal dockyards a sufficient number of skilled workers in all the technicalities of shipbuilding on whose services the Government may call in any emergency. The question that we have to ask ourselves is—have we got that number. I submit that we have not, and I ask the House to agree with me in stating that, instead of cutting down the establishment, the safer policy would be to extend it. You are building more ships; you are increasing the personnel of the Navy, and, on the other hand, you are cutting down the building and repairing reserve. To my way of thinking that is a very shortsighted policy. The greater the number of ships, the greater the personnel, the greater the establishment should be. Apart from the general question, there are individual cases in which the workmen are prejudiced by the cutting down of the establishment. For many years it was the custom to establish the shipwright apprentices two years after they had served their time in the yards. That custom, I regret to say, has fallen into disuse, and an injury is thereby done to a splendid set of workmen; and workmen who entered the yards believing that the custom would be continued. Again, on this point I would specially call the attention of the Financial Secretary, because I believe it is one which has escaped, if not his notice, at any rate the notice of a good many people at the Admiralty. After twelve years' service afloat, I think I am right in saying that naval shipwrights can claim to be established in the yard. I ask the Financial Secretary how can this be done in present conditions without inflicting a further hardship on those dockyard shipwrights who are now waiting for establishment? Let me recall to the memory of the House a speech made in 1882 by the late Sir George Trevelyan, who was then Secretary to the Admiralty. He said:— The shipwrights of the dockyards appreciate being Government workmen, and the Government encourage them in that view, because, to speak quite plainly, it is a matter of life and death to the country to have in the crisis of a war a great body of skilled workmen on whose services the nation may count as it counts on the services of its Bluejackets and Marines. So it is with the shipwrights to-day. They appreciate being Government workmen, bat, alas, the policy of His Majesty's Government does not encourage them to take that view. I know the official argument that in time of war men can be got from the private yards and taken from other jobs in the Royal dockyards; but that does not reassure me. It does not even move me. In time of war all dockyards, private as well as national, would be full of work. The First Lord told us this afternoon that after an engagement many vessels would require repairing, and the Admiralty may not find it quite so easy when the time comes to retain, much less to secure, the services of a sufficient number of properly qualified men. The First Lord also said to-day, "We are asking Parliament to sanction large sums for safety." We are asking Parliament to sanction large sums for safety! Then why cut down the establishment on which that safety depends? That is the question to which I should like some answer from the First Lord before these Estimates are through.

I now turn to the question of pay. On this question I can allude to only a very few matters. In 1907 the rates of pay in the executive class of the Navy were revised, but there still remain many anomalies to adjust. Take, for instance, the case of naval shipwrights. The pay and status of these men are altogether inadequate to the services they render and the position they occupy. The shipwright begins with a disadvantage. Two boys sit for the same examination. Both obtain the same number of marks; both are allowed to choose their own trade. One selects the trade of the shipwright, the other that of engineer. On completing their apprenticeship they both decide to join the Navy. The engineer enters as an engine-room artificer, with the rank of chief petty officer, receiving 5s. 6d. a day. The shipwright enters with the rank of leading seaman, receiving 4s. a day, and has to provide his own tools. I ask is this fair? Is it justice? But mark the sequel. The engine-room artificer passes upward to the rank of warrant officer by stages that bring him in from 5s. 6d. to 8s. 6d. per day. The shipwright proceeds to the rank of carpenter warrant officer by stages that bring him in only from 4s. to 5s. 6d. a day. That is to say, the shipwright ends where the engineer begins. The highest pay the carpenter can get after serving ten years from promotion is 8s., compared with 10s. 6d. obtained by the artificer engineer, and yet not only must the carpenter have a thorough knowledge of the construction of his ship, but he is also a responsible store officer, and is frequently called upon by the captain of his vessel to make sketches and additions to the ship. In fact, many faults in the construction of our great battleships owe their discovery to the carpenter, and yet the carpenter is the worst paid warrant officer in the Navy. It is, I believe, thirty-five years since the shipwright ratings have had a rise of pay. How can the Government expect to get a continuous supply of good shipwrights when all they offer them is 28s. a week of seven days, when outside the average price for 5½ days' labour is £2? On these grounds I would appeal to the Admiralty to place carpenter warrant officers and other shipwright ratings as regards both pay and status on the same footing as the artificer engineer.

Then I come to the pay of the lower deck ratings. I think I am right in saying that the pay of seamen has not been raised since 1853. The ordinary sailor still gets his Is. 3d. a clay, the A.B. Is. 8d., and the leading seaman Is. 10d., rising after three years to 2s. Of course, there are badges and S.G.'s which give the A.B. and the leading seaman another 4d. I readily admit that it is possible for both these ratings to rise and to obtain even as much as 2s. 4d. and 2s. 11d. respectively. But, after all, what we have to deal with is the great majority of the seamen, and the great majority are A.B.'s. It may be said that the cost of living argument does not apply to the lower deck, as the men are supplied with board and lodging. On the other hand, a large number of A.B.'s—I think I am right in saying that the strength is well-nigh 21,000—and leading seamen are married. In the Army a married man on the strength receives an extra allowance, but it is not so in the Navy. Yet I submit that a married sailor has the same responsibilities as a married soldier. He has to keep his wife, and possibly several children, and he has also to pay for their housing. I ask the Financial Secretary how can an A.B. do this properly on £2 a month, or a leading seaman on £2 5s.? Here, I think, the House will agree with me that the cost of living argument comes in with full force. I do not think I need labour that point. Then there is the cost of the men lent to the Australian Navy. They, I think, are to receive the rate of wages current in Australia, a matter which is bound sooner or later to bring the whole question of pay and also of deck ratings to the front. I should like to suggest to the Financial Secretary that the pay of these ratings be at once reconsidered, and that the gift of their kit and replacements be extended to include the first twelve years of a man's service.

I pass on to dockyard pay. Here the inequalities are very many. I can only mention one or two. I have to admit that the Financial Secretary has done a great deal for the benefit of the men in the Royal dockyards. He has met every suggestion "with sympathy, and has done his best to see if he could not agree "with it. In spite of all, I can assure him that there are still many inequalities outstanding in the dockyards, that there are many men who are paid far lower than they ought to be paid, that many men who are giving the best part of their years for their country's service cannot get anywhere near the wages paid toy outside firms. I am not going into that matter to-night. I shall probably have another opportunity, as the Estimates are going through the House, to call the attention of the Financial Secretary to many cases which I have already had an opportunity of discussing with him. But I do think that the case of the ordinary labourer in the Royal dockyards requires immediate attention. When you remember the rise in the price of food and lodgings of recent years, especially in dockyard towns, it is idle to say that a weekly wage of 21s. is sufficient to meet the daily requirements of a married man with a family. I know I shall be told, as I have been told over and over again, that all men are not married, and that the Admiralty cannot take into consideration the fact whether or not a man is married, or whether or not he has a family to keep.

Human nature, however, being what it is, you must look at the case in that light and must consider the question of the married men when you are considering the question of the wages in the dockyards. I have here a copy of the weekly expenditure of a family of three, drawn up by a dockyard man whose wages are 22s. a week. It was not drawn up for the purposes of this Debate, and it was not sent to me; but I have had an opportunity of perusing the document. I find, after paying 5s. 9d. for rent, and for the bare necessities of living, that only Is. 3½d. remains to cover the cost of clothing and other incidental expenses. I have no doubt that I shall be told by the Financial Secretary that if the pay is not good it at any rate compares favourably with the wages paid to unskilled labour in the same localities. That does not tally with my information. I am told, and told on most reliable authority, that many municipal authorities in dockyard towns pay their labourers as much as 24s. per week. Ay, and give them more holidays than are given to the men in the Royal dockyards, even with the four hours' additional work which is demanded sometimes from the municipal labourer. The average wage for labour paid in many local undertakings exceeds that paid to the ordinary labourer in the dockyard. The argument of hours of work is not permissible to the Financial Secretary, because it was not the men who demanded the eight hours' day; it was the Government who compelled them to accept it.

An important petition is now, I believe, before the Lords of the Admiralty from the skilled labourers in the Royal dockyards. I do not think it is necessary for me to do more than to urge upon His Majesty's Ministry to give their urgent and very careful consideration to the points raised by those skilled labourers. I now come to the question of pensions, a large and intricate subject, but one which I must only touch upon very briefly. Closely allied to the question of pensions is the question of compensation. This, I think, I may safely leave in the hands of the hon. Member for Chatham who will Second this Resolution. He has made a special study of compensation cases, and from what he said in the Debate on the Estimates, last year, I think that he will be able to-night to give the House some further instances of the way in which the Admiralty deal with the question of compensation with regard to the men in the dockyards. I would appeal to the Government to remove the very just grievances of the hired workmen in the dockyards by formulating and guaranteeing a pension fund in which these men can participate. The Financial Secretary once said to me in this House when impressing upon him the hard case of the hired men in regard to establishment, that some must be disappointed; all could not be established, seeing that the establishment numbers are limited. That is so. Can he tell me—and this is very important—on what equitable ground the Admiralty continually refuse to recognise the claims for pensions for one set of workmen in the yards, while granting pensions to another set of workmen, both doing the same work and both equally qualified? To say some men must be disappointed is merely playing with the question. The national shipbuilding work of this country should not be carried on on lines of hazard; that is how it is carried out. Of two sets of men, equally liable for pension, one set is taken over and the other set is not. We know that all hired men on leaving a yard are entitled to what are called gratuities equal to one week's pay for every year of service, together with some other small concession. Why should not the Government propose to the hired men to forego this concession of one week's pay and allow them to enter into a scheme, formulated and guaranteed by the Admiralty, giving them the same privileges as are allowed to established men, that is, to count half their hired time and to make it a condition that any extra money required to work a scheme should be found by the men themselves. In order to entitle a man to unemployment benefit under the Insurance Act, a hired workman is required to make contributions of 2½d. per week to the common fund—not a large sum I admit, but still something—the Admiralty making a similar contribution, and I believe certain other moneys are to be voted by Parliament. I do not think the Secretary to the Admiralty will disagree with me on this point, that some 80 per cent, of the hired men in the Royal dockyard, excluding the ordinary labourers, remain in the yard all their lives. They are, therefore, never unemployed.


Roughly, about 75 per cent, are fairly certain of work.

9.0 P.M.


Well, 75 per cent. are never unemployed. I would suggest that these contributions should be used in assisting in financing the scheme I venture to propose. Of course, it would be necessary to stipulate that no man should come in unless he served, say, five years, and that a proportionate return of his contribution should be made if he happened to be dismissed on reduction. That could easily be arranged by giving him a bonus when he is dismissed, and requiring him to return it upon re-engagement if he wished to have his past time counted for pension. I admit there will be difficulty in meeting the case of the men now in the yards who have been working there, some for more than five years, and some for perhaps twenty years. But if the Government could, as apparently they have done, overcome that difficulty in the case of insurance against sickness, I submit they could if they chose overcome it in the case of pensions for hired men. There is another matter which I should like to mention, and that is that apprentice time should be reckoned for pensions or gratuities. This grievance is a very genuine one; it involves the loss of two years' service to the ex-apprentice and the privilege has always been allowed to those men entering as yard boys and afterwards becoming established. I believe the Lords of the Admiralty have had this matter under consideration for two years. Perhaps it would not be too much to ask the Parliamentary Secretary to ask the First Lord to give some answer to this question before the discussion on the Navy Estimates has concluded.

A word or two as to the Admiralty Regulations governing pensions for men injured in the dockyards. If the Admiralty doctor certify a man's health to be partly impaired, but that he is able to contribute in some measure to his support, his pension is accordingly reduced. I find no fault with this, but surely the Regulation as it stands is an anomaly, for while the injured man may be able to contribute in some way to his own support, no one will employ him because he cannot be insured against the provision of the Workmen's Compensation Act. Probably a man earning good wages suddenly finds himself, through no fault of his own, in the same condition as a man who is temporarily disabled, and he has to maintain a wife and family on a pension which, taking the most favourable view, does not amount to more than 4s. a week. If this Regulation is to be continued, I hold it to be the duty of the Admiralty to find a man, so situated, some light work in the dockyards, and to pay him not only such a weekly wage as he could earn, but to allow him to continue to draw his pension. In conclusion, I should like to offer a few remarks in regard to what I have no hesitation in describing as a national scandal. I allude to the position of the Greenwich Age Pensions. These pensions amount to 5d. a day at the age of fifty-five, and an additional 4d. at the age of sixty-five—9d. in all. When the Greenwich Hospital Act was passed in 1865, it was thought that 5,000 pensions costing £48,000 a year would be sufficient provision, but in 1892 the men eligible had become so numerous that the Government of that day, I think it was a Conservative Government, appointed a Select Committee of this House to consider whether steps could not be taken to provide for a larger number of pensions. Following on the suggestions made by that Committee the rent of the hospital buildings was raised, and the contribution from the Consolidated Fund, which had fallen from £20,000 to £4,000, was re-voted. In all, an additional Grant of £22,400 was made from naval and Greenwich Hospital funds, bringing the actual total available for age pensions up to £100,900, at which figure it stands to-day. There are some 8,500 pensioners in receipt of age pensions, and 3,500 eligible for the 5d., but they cannot get it owing to the insufficiency of funds. To meet this extra liability so far as the 5d. is concerned, an additional Grant of £30,000 to naval funds will be required, while to meet the 4d. probably £40,000, or even more, would be necessary. Moreover, with the growth of the personnel of the Navy this liability of the Government must be an accruing rather than a vanishing quantity. The Govern are aware that all is not well, and this is shown by the following paragraph in the First Lord's statement for the current year:— Prior to April, 1910. the cost of the naval age pensions of men of the Seamen Pensioner Reserve was, on their attaining fifty-five years of age, automatically transferred from naval to Greenwich Hospital funds. This transfer is now deferred until the men would obtain an award of the Greenwich Age Pension in the ordinary course of selection, with the result that a substantial sum is set free each year for distribution among older and more necessitous men. I notice that the Financial Secretary nods his head approvingly, and so say I. But curiously enough a similar paragraph appeared in the First Lord's statement last year, and evidently the Admiralty are most anxious to persuade the pensioners that something is being done for them. The fact, however, that the concession referred to came into force two years ago takes away from it any idea of novelty. In order to understand the real nature of this highly prized paragraph we must go back a little. In 1870 the Seamen Pen- sioner Reserve was started, and as an inducement for the men to take their drills in the Reserve the Government of the day promised them age pensions at fifty, instead of fifty-five. This arrangement continued till 1892, when a change was introduced, and, while the Reserve man was still to obtain his pension at fifty, the years intervening between fifty and fifty-five were henceforth to come out of the Naval Fund; but on the man reaching fifty-five the liability was again transferred to Greenwich funds. It was not until 1st April, 1910, that this transfer was made. It will, therefore, be seen, and I challenge the Financial Secretary to deny it, that from 1870 to 1892 the Admiralty financed the Reserve pensions for five years between the ages of fifty and fifty-five out of Greenwich funds, and that for the whole period between 1870 and 1910, when occasion required, Greenwich funds had also to bear the cost of the years between fifty-five and the time when the pensioner obtained his reward in the ordinary course of selection, which, I think, the Financial Secretary will agree may be taken at the present time between sixty-two and sixty-three.

Again, in the Naval Estimates for the current year there appears a sum of £2,500 allocated for augmentation of Greenwich Hospital Pensions to seamen and marines through deaths attributable to the Service, but not in warlike operations. That is the only money paid out of the naval funds for this purpose. The remainder of the sum required to meet the widows' pensions, amounting to £6,000 a year, is drawn from Greenwich funds. If these men were available for age pensions it would enable 780 men to get their 5d., and 600 men to get their 4d. This is not the only drain on Greenwich funds for widows' pensions. Where a ship goes down in time of peace the pensions for the widows of seamen come in like proportion from Greenwich naval funds, as also do the pensions awarded to widows of men of the Royal Naval Reserve killed or drowned in the service of the State. Equity demands that all moneys taken from Greenwich funds to enable the Admiralty to meet their obligations to the Reserve pensions should be replaced from naval funds, and if to this be added the sum now paid out of Greenwich Funds towards defraying the cost of pensions to widows of seamen and Marines, a considerable addition would be made to the fund available for age pensions. Even if all the men now on the waiting list could not be satisfied, the Government would have done something towards putting an end to a national scandal and ridding themselves of the stigma of remaining quiescent while many of Britain's best sons are passing away, if not in actual want, at any rate in circumstances of unnecessary privation.


I beg leave to second the Amendment. I do so because I think if this Commission were appointed some method would be devised, and should be devised, more properly to deal with these questions of pay both in his Majesty's Navy and in the dockyard, and that might once for all, or nearly once for all, remove those questions from the purview of this House. It is regrettable, but it is beyond question, that these matters raise but little interest amongst hon. Members of this House. I find in my dealings with the Admiralty and other Government Departments that, however willing the particular Department may be to grant the justice of the request I make or to improve the condition of the men, one is invariably met with the difficulty of getting the sanction of the Treasury. The Financial Secretary to the Admiralty will bear me out that constantly, in cases I have presented on behalf of the men he has been with me in the view I have taken, but the difficulty has rested with the Treasury in refusing to sanction what has been proposed. I am quite satisfied in my own mind that until we can obtain the appointment of some independent body on whose recommendation the Treasury will be bound to act we shall do nothing really to improve the conditions of labour in His Majesty's Dockyards and Navy.

I do not propose to go at any great length into particular cases, but I do propose to refer to a few matters which illustrate the argument I am presenting. I am satisfied that the whole system of petitions is out of date—they are wholly unsatisfactory. In the first place, the men have little opportunity of lodging their petitions after the date at which the answers to their earlier petitions are received. Further than this, these answers are never given until the Estimates are over, so that we can never call into question the conduct of the Admiralty as to whether or not it was proper to grant or to refuse the request. Lastly, almost the universal answer one finds to these petitions is: "This request cannot be acceded to." This happens year after year. I will give one point in regard to the conditions in the dockyards. Take the question of equality of pay in the Trades Department. There you have about 10 per cent, who get 1s. 6d., and the rest of the men so employed get only 1s. For years questions, have been put in this House, and hon. Members who put them have been told that the matter is under consideration. It is under consideration now. You have not advanced one jot or iota in that respect. There is no justice in what is being done. I speak with knowledge when I say that when the request has been put forward by the men that they should be paid at the rate of 1s. 6d. it has been forwarded with a strong commendation of the head of the Department in favour of granting this equality among the men employed. The responsibilities are the same, and the only result of refusing what is just is that it tends to lead to favouritism, which is the-last thing that is desirable. I am quite satisfied if these matters could be dealt with by an independent Advisory Board on whose decision the Treasury were-bound to act, there would be no difficulty at all. One other point that has struck me is in regard to the men principally worst paid in His Majesty's service in the dockyards, and in considering this one must bear in mind that these men are all discharged at sixty. I ask myself what reasonable chance is there of these men getting employment with a third party at the age of sixty. Speaking of the old dockyard town I have the honour to represent, it is perfectly lamentable the distress there is by virtue of that condition. Something ought to be done in order that this service under the Crown may be rendered tolerable. I defy the wit of man to suggest how a labourer in receipt of 21s. per week can put by sufficient to provide for himself and his wife at old age. That is a condition of things that ought to be remedied. I have protested, as I do protest emphatically, that the wages of those employed in the Ordnance depôt at Chatham ought to be increased. They have been increased in other towns, and yet nothing has been done in dockyard towns. I protest that in view of the increased cost of living and the rents these men pay, five and six shillings a week, their wages of 21s. per week are too low, and something ought to be done at once to improve their condition. All the labourers should receive some reasonable increase in their wages. The corporation of Gillingham, which is part of the-borough of Chatham for Parliamentary purposes, has increased the wages of their men to 24s. with a forty-eight hour week, and the wages of the men employed by the corporation of Chatham have also been increased to 26s. per week, though they do not limit the hours to forty-eight. These matters should be dealt with by some independent body; but so long as we can only deal with the Admiralty, and deal with it in an empty House, because these matters do not interest other hon. Members, these men get jockeyed and do not get justice in regard to their employment or the service they render.

There is another point I want to make in regard to employment in the dockyard naval hospital. Those men have for years asked that their hours of employment should be the same as those in the dockyard. They are only employed as the labourers and painters in the yard are employed, and yet their simple request cannot be granted. I have investigated their case, and I have wholly failed to find anything which warrants the present state of affairs. I am not in a position to say what has happened since last year, "but no doubt the Parliamentary Secretary will be able to inform us if any improvement has been made. I will give a case which illustrates the way the Treasury deal with these claims. Some few years ago the naval writers on the Civil side used to have an allowance of £100 if they were transferred from the dockyard to London.


No, no.


I venture, with great respect, to think I am right. It was originally £100. In 1899 it was reduced to £50, and then it was further reduced to £40, with the result that it was found volunteers for employment in London did not come forward. Last year an inquiry was being made in regard to improving conditions of pay. What I have said previously applied to draftsmen; the inquiry last year was into the conditions and pay of the writers. They recommended that the pay should be increased, but that the London allowance should be reduced to £25. The recommendation also suggested that the draftsmen's salaries should be reduced. The recommendation went before the Treasury, which promptly agreed that the proposal to reduce the London allowance was excellent, but they referred back the question of increase of pay to the Admiralty, so that these unfor- tunate fellows got their London allowance reduced to £25 and received no increase of pay. Whether they have since got it I have not heard. Perhaps the Secretary to the Admiralty will tell us when he replies on this Debate. But this case illustrates the point that the Treasury are not fitted to deal out justice as beween man and man. They think it their duty to keep all the money they can get without regard to a man's just rights.

It is an illustration of the grievous injustice done to these men. Of course, the Admiralty could go behind the Treasury; they could not get draftsmen to volunteer to go to London, on the £25 allowance, because it was not sufficient to pay the extra expense of living in London. But in order to ensure a supply of draftsmen for London an Admiralty Order was passed, making it a condition precedent to obtaining promotion that these men should, if called upon, go to London, notwithstanding the fact that the £25 they were compelled to accept was wholly inadequate to meet the difference in the cost of living. If that is not shabby conduct on the part of the Treasury I am at a loss to understand what it is. I hope the Financial Secretary will tell us exactly what has been done in regard to these men. I sincerely trust the Treasury have seen better of their conduct and will have made good to these men, from the date of alteration, the sums they ought to have received in regard to this matter. This is a sound illustration of the manner in which these things are dealt with, and, in my opinion, until we get an Advisory Board to go into these matters, we shall never have satisfaction If we can get what I am asking for we shall relieve these Debates of much detail. We want some Advisory Board set up whose directions would be equivalent to law in regard to many of these grievances.

I ask the Government to consider whether or not something cannot really be done to take into serious consideration the matter of pensions. I know it is a matter requiring careful investigation. I have it from the men concerned that they will be only too willing to contribute towards the scheme for pensions at the age of sixty, and when you have got your men desirous of contributing surely it is time to approach them with a view to improving their condition. You have, further, a fund, and I fully appreciate its value, but what I want to point out is if the fund which is available for the purpose when a man has served in the dockyard for fifteen years of giving him a gratuity representing one week's pay for each year's service, that fund would be a material contribution, and I am given to understand that the men would be quite willing to surrender the gratuity and to make a contribution out of their weekly wage if, in the end, the Government would confer upon them a reasonable pension from the age of sixty until the end of their days. I assure the Secretary to the Admiralty that there is great distress among these men. I constantly have them coming to me at the age of sixty years and over in a position of practical starvation or having to face the workhouse, and seeing that many of these men have served the Government in the dockyards from thirty to forty years I do submit that they are entitled to some consideration. In regard to this matter there is another point to be borne in mind, and that is the contribution they are making towards the unemployment fund. It is quite clear that 75 per cent, of these men will be called upon to contribute towards that fund, while they will never receive any benefit from it, because they are steadily employed, and there is little or no chance of their discharge. Could not their contribution in this respect go towards their pensions?

I would further call the attention of the Secretary to the Admiralty to the fact that under the Insurance Act no longer will the Government be called upon to pay both compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Act and also benefit under the Insurance Act, so you will have another fund set free, and I suggest you can by careful consideration obtain a scheme which would not only give these men the benefit of continuous employment in the dockyard, but will afford an example to other employers of labour. I believe there are no fewer than 34,000 men in this position, and you can make their lives infinitely happier and better if you take this step. I have one or two other words to say. I do not propose to touch on the question of the naval shipwrights. I believe this matter is now before the Admiralty which, I trust, will see its way to remedy the grievance—a serious one. At any rate T intend to raise it on one of the Estimates. It is a very short-sighted policy to refuse to pay the artisan ratings a sum which is approximately equivalent to that which they could obtain outside. I think you are bound to mate the pay something approaching that given in similar outside employment. The men do not lose sight, of course, of the advantage of pensions, but I do suggest that here you have a good illustration of the difficulty you have to face. You have refused for thirty-five years consistently to regard the case of the carpenters, and, of course, all the ratings below them. What has been the result? I think it is under Lord Goschen's scheme that you train shipwrights in the dockyard, because shipwrights from the general trade will not come in because the inducements are not sufficient. That is the condition of things to-day. What does that cost this country? You train them at the Government's expense, whereas the shipwright outside is trained at his own expense. Nobody can deny that this is not an expensive matter. Further than that, you have this position of things, to which I desire to draw particular attention, that every one of the naval shipwrights trained in the dockyard at the Admiralty's expense was trained upon the express terms—and it is a Government agreement which they cannot get away from—that they are bound to take them back into the dockyard at the expiration of their period of engagement if they do not like to continue on, and they are not only to take them back, but to establish them. I suggest that if you do not do something to improve the conditions not only of all the shipwright ratings, but also of the other ratings, such as carpenters' crews, you will have these shipwrights coming back on your hands. I am not putting the matter in a hostile sense. I want to remove these matters from any such arena, and I only want right done as between man and man.

I will give one other illustration of the way in which the petitions forwarded by the men in the Navy are dealt with. I select a case which, in my judgment, is a very grievous case indeed. In my view the sick-berth attendants are abominably paid. After three years' service they get 2s., and after five years' service they get 2s. 3d. They petitioned for the improvement of their condition. What have you done? You have ingeniously done nothing. You have purported to do something which amounts to nothing at all. If a man is an attendant upon certain zymotic diseases in the laboratory, or at work in the operating room, you give him 6d. a day extra. Apart from that all that you give him is 2d. a day, which is an allowance for dispensing duty to the sick-berth staff employed at the dispensing hospitals. I am credibly informed that this will not average out at the rate of £1 a head. I call the particular attention of the Financial Secretary to this. The sick-berth attendant is under this further disability, that you have altered the regulations, and you now require the examinations to be held at certain recognised centres. A sick-berth attendant may be hundreds of miles away from any of the hospitals or home centres, and he cannot undergo his examination at all. He could undergo a provisional examination, but instead of getting his pay as from the date on which he passes it, he does not get it until he returns and passes his final examination at the home hospital. If the man who has passed his preliminary examination is abroad, and he is invalided or disrated, he loses his pay. You have put this class of men under a greater disability than they were before. I submit these are strong cases which show the unsatisfactory manner in which the Admiralty deal with the questions that come before them, and I therefore have great pleasure in seconding the Amendment.


Although I think there are a great many matters with regard to the workers in the dockyards that require attention, I am not quite sure that the lion. Member who moved this Amendment is going the best way to get what he desires. Personally, I do not think that the Admiralty are the least bit unsympathetic to the cases of the men who are their workers in the yards, and if representation is made to them there is every belief that the cases will be carefully considered, and that where redress is possible it will be given to them. The last speaker touched on one of the most important points that affect the workers, that is the question of the hired men who are working in the dockyards. At the present moment there is a category of men who are established and of men who are taken on on a hired footing, and the inequality which exists in the status of these two classes is very marked and is very much felt by those men who have not the good fortune to be taken on the establishment. It is with a view to some provision being made for the hired men on leaving the Government service, which they do at the age of sixty or on compulsory reduction, that I intervene in this Debate. There are many cases of men of long service—of thirty to thirty-three years' service—who have been established for a considerable portion of their time, and, having been established, they have the right to a bonus and pension on leaving the service. The hired man, however, only comes in for the bonus, and a bonus which is not so much as the annual pension of the man who is established in the yards. The hired man throughout the dockyards generally, and not only in the dockyard that I have the honour to represent have presented their case to the Admiralty and to the Members who represent them, and they have shown that, although the gratuity is of considerable advantage to them, the gratuity of itself is not what the hired men wish. They are willing to resign that gratuity if the Government will use the money which is thereby resigned as a nucleus for a pension fund. This seems to be a very reasonable contention. I shall be glad to know what view the Admiralty take of this suggestion on the part of the men. The men are willing to contribute to a considerable extent, and some have said they would be willing to give up the additional sum they receive over what the established man receives as his average weekly pay. This, combined with the gratuity, must-be able to start a fund, and there are at present over 30,000 hired workers who are working in the dockyards under the Crown. Those men are drawing annually over £2,000,000 of money, and with that large number of men employed and the amount of money they receive it surely cannot be impossible for the Government to devise some scheme whereby the pension might be given to these men on attaining the age of sixty, or, if discharged, on reduction. They realise perfectly that it is impossible for them to be under the same treatment as the men who have the good fortune to be established, and they are willing that there should be a difference in treatment and that the established men should gain by the fact of their establishment, possibly an increase of pension over the hired man. I believe the Government actuaries could find a scheme which would give the men a possible pension, even though it was considerably below that which was paid to the established men. I sincerely hope the Government will take this matter carefully in hand. I believe the men are in hopes that it is under the consideration of the Admiralty and that their grievances will receive attention as soon as possible. This question is getting more and more important every day. Every year the desire of these men, who are most excellent workers, to insure themselves for the future is increasing, I think laudably increasing, and when the Government inaugurates a great national insurance scheme for the whole country it should certainly try and inaugurate some pension scheme for its own workers.

The ordinary labourers in the Government dockyards receive 21s. a week. The system of the establishment hits them very hard in this way, that they are the least well-paid of all the workers in the dockyard, and they have the smallest percentage of men who come on the establishment. I know the Government has a difficulty in increasing the number of men on the establishment. I wish it could be increased for the sake of the future of the men when they retire, but I believe something could be done to meet their case by extending or equalising the gift of establishment to some of these ordinary labourers. There is another category—the men who have been promoted from the ordinary labourers to skilled labourers. They start with a wage of 22s. a week, and they get augmented up to 28s. with a special maximum of 30s., but this maximum is just what is causing the trouble throughout the yards. At present men are selected for the maximum wage without being able to understand in the least why any particular individual is being selected. They ask, provided a man is a good worker and a man of good conduct, why he should not have the possibility of coming on to the national rate of wage irrespective of the fact that he may or may not be selected by the authorities of the dockyard. There are two classes in the yard which I represent, the hammermen and the iron-caulkers. In no case in Pembroke Dock has any man in these particular classes been raised to the higher or special rate of pay. This must, and does, cause discontent throughout the yard, and when the men cannot understand the system under which selection is made for these higher rates they natuarally feel that one man gets it either by chance or by favour.

Then, again, with regard to the skilled and the ordinary men, when slackness of work comes on for some particular skilled work, men are reduced from skilled labourers to ordinary labourers, and up to the present there seems to be no scheme whereby these men are selected for reduction. The contention of the skilled labourers, and I think it is a just contention, is that if reduction is necessary, men who have only recently been appointed from the ordinary labourers scale to the skilled labourers rating should be the first to be reduced. The reduction should be by juniority and not necessarily by selection. The whole system of selection through the yard is causing, and I think will continue to cause, great discontent, very largely because the men cannot see any rhyme or reason why that selection takes place. Then there is another point with regard to the skilled labourers. On compulsory reduction they are discharged and given a discharge paper on which is simply stated the fact that they are skilled labourers. When they want to get back to employment in civil life under a private firm they have got no specialised trade which they can quote to an employer as being that which they are most suited to perform. This affects them very seriously when they are hunting about the world to get employment. If a man has been for seven years in a particular trade he has a much better opportunity of getting back into employment than if he has been simply a skilled worker at any particular trade. If a man could show that he had been an iron-caulker for seven years of his service in the Government dockyard he would be entitled to enter as a member of the Boilermakers' Society, and the effect of being a member of the Boilermakers' Society is enormously to help his chance of getting employment in civil life.

These cases I have put forward are seriously affecting the men in the Government dockyards, and, though they have a chance every year, when the Lords of the Admiralty come down to state their case, and I know it is most carefully listened to, still they cannot and do not say what they would like to before their official chief. I believe there is considerable discontent which may not entirely be apparent to the Admiralty itself, and it is for that reason I have brought forward these few examples in support of their contention. Then there is the point that I brought forward last year, on which I hoped some change might have been made, and that is the case of men who enter the dockyard at the age of fourteen. Some join as apprentices and some, having failed to pass the competitive examination, enter the yard as what are called hired boys. Both enter at the age of fourteen, and both go through their service until they attain a man's age and a man's rate of pay at the age of twenty, and they may both become established in due course. When the end of the service comes the apprentice can only count his time for pension from the age of twenty while the hired boy can count his pension from the age of sixteen, although he failed to pass the examination which the apprentice passes.


I admit at once that this Motion raises a first-class issue—how the Admiralty treats its employés. That is a very proper question to raise. I suppose, apart from the Post Office, the Admiralty is, if not the largest, one of the largest employers of labour in this country. Leaving for the present the men of the Fleet who are involved in this proposal of the Royal Commission and dealing first with the civil side—the dockyard men—let me direct the attention of the Committee to their case. In the home establishment of various kinds we are employing at this time about 50,000 hands, and of these something like 7,000 are established. I am sure it would be the wish of the House of Commons, as certainly it is mine and that of the taxpayers whom we here represent, that as employers the Admiralty should stand creditably in the ranks of good employers. I have had four years' very close and intimate association with the conditions of labour in the dockyards, and, if I may say so, it is part of my particular prejudice that I take considerable pride in the circumstance that I come from the class to which these men belong. Therefore my judgment is irresistably directed by sympathy with the pleas they put before us. I say deliberately—and I hope I shall carry the House with me—that, broadly speaking, we have nothing to be ashamed of as employers of labour in our treatment of the dockyard hands. No doubt it is the fact that time and experience and changing conditions will call for revision and reconsideration, but in point of fact the Royal Commission, which is now asked for in effect, sits face to face with the men in every yard every year. Every year we go down to the yards, and the representatives of the Board of Admiralty sit on one side of the table and the representatives of the men sit on the other side.


They cannot state their case under these conditions.


I can assure you that they state their case with great ability, and it has given me great pleasure to notice the good temper with which these interviews have been conducted.


They complain that they get no redress.

10.0 P.M.


We shall see what sort of redress they get. We do not confine the representation to our own employés. Each class can be represented by two members of its own body or by one member of its own body and one trade union representative. I repeat that I am glad to have had the opportunity of being present at these interviews. I have spent a great deal of time on them, and I have taken a large part in the discussions. My hon. Friend says then; are no results. I will deal with the results presently. I say again that our record as employers is thoroughly creditable. I do not expect to be able fully to satisfy the dockyard Member. Not at all. He is the most incorrigible political Oliver Twist I have met. Let us see what are the conditions of labour in the yards. First of all, the men work forty-eight hours weekly, and they get—I do not think the Admiralty are unique: in this—the four public holidays with pay. I do not make much of that. If they are established they get permanent employment. At sixty years of age, or, if the period be extended, at sixty-five, they get, a pension, to which, I at once admit, they have largely contributed themselves. Under the Treasury scheme the modification of the old Pensions Act, which most of them have accepted, instead of sixtieths, they now get eightieths, for each year of service. But they get very important alternatives. They get pensions ranging from £20 to £60 a year. If they accept, as the great bulk of them have done, the new scheme at the moment of retirement, they get a bonus of £50 to £150, and if they die before the pensionable age and have been five years established, then their legal representatives are entitled to one year's pay. I am dealing now with the case of men who are entitled to pensions. That is what their representatives get if these men die before the date at which they would otherwise be pensioned.

Let me take the case, as regards the conditions of labour, of hired men—non-established men. They are on a different footing, I agree. But even here, of the 42,000 hired men it is perfectly true that the great bulk of them—I put it at 75 per cent.—are fairly sure of continuous occupation, although they are only hired men. These men, if stood off on a reduction after seven years' service, get a gratuity, as the hon. Member for Devonport pointed out, of a week's wages for every year's service. If stood off in the ordinary course after fifteen years' service, they get a gratuity of a week's pay for every year's service. In the last five complete years we have paid to hired non-established men in gratuities a sum equal to £63,000, and recently in order to extend the hired man's chance of becoming established we have raised the maximum age for becoming established from forty-five to fifty years. A curious sidelight is thrown on the attitude of the hon. Member (Sir C. Kinloch-Cooke) towards Labour Exchanges. We last year, in the Autumn Session, decided that dockyard labour should be secured through the Labour Exchanges, and I say perfectly frankly that the reason was we were asking employers to use the Labour Exchange, and certainly the Government itself should set the example. The hon. Gentleman plied me with questions at the time, and I believe that his anxiety was lest the Labour Exchange, having open to it the whole field of industrial work, should be the means of securing that men from other parts of the country should be sent down to Devonport to the possible prejudice of Devonport men. I hope I quote the hon. Gentleman fairly.


I think it is a special case.


If that is so, it shows that the conditions of the labour in the dockyard are not quite so gloomy as the hon. Gentleman tries to represent. The hon. Gentleman was anxious lest the Labour Exchanges should be the means of sending men from, I think, Portsmouth he mentioned.


You are referring to my question.


I am indeed.


If you are referring to my question—


If the hon. Gentleman has anything to say he might do the House the courtesy of rising.


Without pressing the hon. Gentleman too far, I think I can throw another interesting sidelight on the matter of the conditions of employment in the yard. He wrote me, as Financial Secretary, last August and called my attention to the fact that whilst in Devonport the unskilled labourer got 21s a week, which is a fact, the Devonport Corporation street sweepers got 24s. What happens is that the street sweepers begin at 19s. and go to a maximum of 24s. for a fifty-two hours' week, as compared with 21s. in the dockyards for a forty-eight hours' week. The hon. Gentleman went on to say that in several cases he had been informed that men in the dockyards were receiving about 30 per cent, less wages than were paid by outside firms.


I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman is in order in referring to a correspondence on various questions which I have addressed to him for a considerable time. What I should have liked to have heard from him is a reply to what I have addressed to him to-night.


The hon. Member is replying.


That was my idea. The point was that the hon. Gentleman had been informed that in several cases men in the dockyard were paid 30 per cent, less wages than were paid by outside firms. With regard to the unskilled labour in our yard, the total number of men is 3,800, while there are 10,200 skilled labourers. The skilled labourer can go up in ordinary circumstances to 28s. a week, and my hon. and gallant Friend says in certain special cases to 30s. a week, and 90 per cent., I am sure, of the skilled labourers are recruited from time to time from the unskilled labourers, so that when the hon. Member (Sir C. Kinloch-Cooke) refers to men in the dockyard at 21s. a week he must remember that they have a reasonable prospect of going on certainly to 28s. a week, and possibly to 30s. The hon. Gentleman stated that he had been informed that in several cases men in the dockyard received 30 per cent, less wages than were paid by outside trades. I wrote:— If yon will quote to me any specific cases where men in the dockyard receive 30 per cent, less wages than is paid by outside firms for the same class of work, I shall be happy to go further into the matter. Anxious as the hon. Member may be to improve the condition of these men's wages, he has not replied to that invitation. As to the retiring allowance of the hired men, what happened? At a recent hearing of the petition, the hired men—I think Pembroke was firet—came to us and said that they would be glad if something could be done to help them to build up a retiring allowance which would be something more than the old age pension. I said that I would be glad to see if some figures could be got to show what sort of premium payments they would have to make, and I said that possibly they might be prepared to put their gratuities or their Values into a pool. I understand from the hon. Member for Chatham (Mr. Hohler) that they are in favour of that. I was not aware of that. I said also that possibly without giving direct financial assistance we might collect the premium payments with the machinery at our disposal as a great organisation, and the figures are being looked into with a view to ascertaining what it will cost. But now the hon. Gentleman and his Seconder go a stage further. They say, "So far so good. The men are prepared to pool the gratuities and build up this self-supporting old age pension scheme; but divert the 2½d. per week, which they would pay under Part II. of the Insurance Act, into the pool to help to build up the old age pensions, and thus reduce the charge made upon their wages." And they justify that because 75 per cent.—I admit that is a fair estimate—of the hired men are practically sure of continuous occupation. But what would become of the unemployed benefit of the other 25 per cent, if you take away from Part II. of the Act the contributions of those who are not certain of employment? Under Part II. of the Act, at sixty years of age, any man who has made 500 payments or more can have returned to him the total value of his contributions, minus any unemployment benefit which he may have received, and that amount estimated at compound interest at 2½ per cent. These men, 75 per cent, according to the Mover and Seconder, are not going to get any unemployed benefit at all.

Therefore there is no injustice done to these men. They are going to get the whole of their payments back again at sixty years of age with compound interest at 2½ per cent. I do not think the suggestion can be put forward that their position will be made worse by the operation of the unemployment part of the Insurance Act. I now come to the boys. There are two classes of boys in the dockyards—the apprentices, of whom there are 1,626; and the yard boys, of whom there are 1,343. The apprentices are very nice lads indeed—very thoughtful, very earnest, very industrious, and very anxious to succeed. I do not know that I have ever met a nicer set of lads than the apprentices in our dockyards. They attend the dockyard school in the evening. It is quite remarkable the number of men of great distinction who began life as dockyard apprentices. I am quite sure the House will join with me in the pride with which I mention their names. The late Sir Edward Reed, who was a Member of this House and chief constructor of the Royal Navy, was a dockyard lad; the late Sir William Pearce, a former Member of this House, was a dockyard lad; Sir Nathaniel Barnaby, late director of naval construction; Dr. Elgar, first director of dockyards; Sir William White, late director of naval construction; Sir John Durston, late engineer-in-ehief; Sir Philip Watts, director of naval construction; Sir James Williamson, late director of dockyards; Sir Henry Oram, the present engineer-in-chief; and Sir James Marshall, the present director of dockyard works—all these men were dockyard lads. Every single ship in the British Navy to-day which is fit to take her place in the first line owes her design to dockyard apprentices.

The House may take it from me that these boys are very well looked after. I pass from those who are apprentices to the yard boys, of whom there are 1,343. When I came across those boys first I saw that if a helping hand were not given to them it was extremely probable that they would never have anything before them but becoming adult unskilled labourers. I had been associated with education for a good many years, and I said that those yard boys ought to go to an evening school. We offered to place them in the dockyard school, and if there was not room in the dockyard school then to pay the fees for them at some school outside the dockyard. Before I leave the question of the dockyards I must refer to the petitions. It is said that it is all very well; you hear these petitions, but nothing ever comes of them. Take the result since 1906 of hearing these petitions. I will take some of the principal concessions made. The labourers got a rise of a shilling per week in 1906, and on the present numbers that concession costs £9,800 per year. The skilled labourers got a shilling per week in 1906, and on present numbers that means £26,000 per year. They received other advances in 1910–11, which means £11,700 per year on present numbers. The shipwrights got a shilling per week in 1906, equal to an increased payment on the present numbers of £19,000 per year.


They got a shilling in 1006 and even then they were below the rate of outside shipwrights. To-day there have been three advances in some places and two in others, so that there are four shillings beneath them now.


I shall be very glad to enter into the figures. What I am saying is in reply to the hon. Gentleman when he states that petitions are merely a farce.


The poor navvy never got anything.


The smiths got their scale of pay improved in 1908, and the concession on the present numbers amounts to £2,600 a year. The joiners received a shilling per week in 1908, which cost £2,700 per year on present numbers. The riggers received a shilling per week in 1909, and on the present numbers that amounts to £1,000 per year. The total cost of the concessions since 1906 on the present numbers means £80,000 per year increase in wages. Therefore the hon. Gentleman is not entitled to say that the petitions yield no fruit. Further than that, recently, in deference to the public opinion of the yards, we have entirely suspended the premium bonus system in the forking of the yards. We have increased the establishment at Greenock, and the hon. Member who moved the Amendment will be glad to hear this, as he is very keen on increasing the establishment from 200 men in the torpedo factory to 250 men. With regard to the unskilled labourers at the victualling yard at Deptford, their minimum was 23s. per week, with certain privileges, which are estimated and moderately estimated, as worth 6d. per week. We have raised the minimum to 24s., which, with the privileges, totals 24 s. 6d. per week. We are now considering a certain allowance additional in any case where the work gives anything in the nature of responsibility, so that we may carry out fully the recommendation of the Advisory Committee in regard to the London unskilled labourer, that the average should be 25s. 6d. per week. With regard to the petitions for this year and last year, I promised last year to the hon. Member for Devonport, that we would get the replies out early this year. We got them out last year in July, and I was very hopeful that we might have got them out in time for this Debate, but that was quite impossible. It would be a very, very early date to arrive at our conclusions, but I will undertake, or rather express the hope with which I think the First Lord of the Admiralty will agree, that they shall be published and be in the hands of Members before Easter, and certainly Members shall have those replies before we take Vote 8, which deals with dockyard men. I repeat with confidence to the House that those men are treated well as a whole. I do not deny that outside increases have to be taken in account, so that we may be able to say that our men are as equitably treated, taking one thing with another, as men in similar work in the locality outside. We have long claimed that, and that is our intention.


Where they do similar work?


I think that is the bed rock. That is what the hearing of petitions is for. We are there to do the best we can, and to see that those men shall be treated as equitably, taking the value of the privileges and all other things into consideration, as those who work outside in the district in which the dockyard is situated. Certainly, for revision and consideration, wherever it seems desirable, machinery does exist for giving proper consideration to those matters. Now for that part of the Motion that refers to the men of the Fleet. Again I admit that the issue raised, the treatment of the men in the Fleet, is of the first importance. It is of vital importance. Certainly the British House of Commons could not be better employed than by seeing whether the British sailor is fairly and considerately treated. The First Lord of the Admiralty earlier in the Debate spoke of these men as "the pride of our race." I agree with that description, and it is laid upon us to sec that our treatment accords with that description. I can give the House, with complete confidence, an assurance that, on the whole, these men are well treated. If it were not so, I should say so. That is my deliberate and impartial judgment. Here, again, I admit that from time to time there will be revision and reconsideration, as circumstances make such necessary. That revision, in which naval opinion at the Admiralty plays a leading part, as it is bound to do, we have been and shall be ready to give on all occasions. I do not think that any hon. Member that listened to the speech of my right hon. Friend has any doubt as to what are the sentiments that inspire us in respect to our treatment of the men in the Navy.

The Noble Lord the Member for Portsmouth said—and I am sorry he is not now here—for what he said is contrary to fact—that there had been no increase of pay for the sailor for sixty years. That is one of those charming generalisations that is not correct, but it is constantly repeated. Let me detail some of the charges which have been made affecting the pay and promotion of seamen, and the conditions of victualling in particular of the men of the Fleet. Take the last ten years. I claim no party advantage for this. Some of them were under way, some have been accomplished since hon. Members opposite left power. Take the seamen: the statement is that there has been no increase of pay for many years. The substantive pay of the petty officer has been increased from 2s. 2d. to 2s. 8d. per day; the substantive pay of the chief petty officer from 2s. 8d. to 3s. 4d. per day, and they represent 21 per cent, of the seamen class. I would not quote these figures if they represented a very small percentage, but they represent 21 per cent. Then take that very deserving class, the stokers. We have improved the rates of the stoker petty officer, and chief stoker, and for the clever young stoker, anxious to rise, we have opened the mechanician training, which gives him the possibility of rising to warrant rank and also to commissioned warrant rank. Take the engine-room artificer. Commissioned warrant rank has been introduced. The chief artificer engineer is eligible for the rank of lieutenant; and he is entitled to the rank of lieutenant when he is pensioned if he has had three years in his rank. For electricians we have opened the prospect of warrant rank and commissioned warrant rank. For the armourers we have introduced warrant, rank, and we are now considering the question of their pay. Plumbers and painters have had their pay increased in 1910, ships' cooks in 1907, and in 1909 we created warrant rank for instructors in cookery. We have done something for sick-berth attendants. As to naval schoolmasters, we have gone into their case very fully. We have given a general increase of pay in 1910, and the relative rank of lieutenant to chief schoolmasters after three years' service. I am sure the announcement of the First Lord that announcement of the First Sea Lord that he intended to select every year—twenty-five up to one hundred—of the younger warrant officers for commissioned warrant rank. So much for pay and promotion.


Both the hon. Member for Portsmouth and I referred to the A.B.'s, the leading seamen, and the ordinary seamen, but the right hon. Gentleman has not mentioned them.


I said that we had improved the pay in the seamen class, of the petty officer, and the chief petty officer, and that they represented 21 per cent, of that class. That is something—one in five. Then take victualling. Undoubtedly we have made very considerable reforms in the feeding of the sailor in recent years. Standard rations and a daily messing allowance of 4d. have taken the place of the old victualling and savings system, and the canteen system has been drastically reformed. Every step has been taken to secure that the sailor shall get good value for his money. We have put the cooking arrangements on a much more efficient basis. Amongst other things, bakeries have been established in all the large ships, so that the sailors may get fresh bread at sea as well as when in port. With regard to the sailor's kit it was not referred to by the Mover, but another hon. Member mentioned it.


I referred to the kit, I asked a distinct question about it.


I should be very sorry indeed to take away anything from the very full and complete statement made by the hon. Member. I did not know that he mentioned it, but I put the kit to his credit at once. We have simplified the sailors kit and reduced it by striking out certain items in such a way that the upkeep of the kit is estimated to cost the sailors £40,000 a year less than before these changes. The policy of issuing free kits, which cost between £8 and £9, to new entrants, has instead of merely giving them a gratuity of £2 10s., has been extended to the sinkers, the cooks, the sick berth attendants, ships stewards boys, and the boy writers. I quite admit that there is a feeling, as was pointed out by the Noble Lord the Member for Portsmouth, and by the Mover of the Amendment, that the men ought to have reissues of kits free, like soldiers and Marines. You really cannot fully estimate the treatment of the two respective Services by taking one item only. You cannot say a sailor has to replace his kit and a soldier has not, and therefore, on the whole, the sailor is not so well treated as the soldier. You must take all the conditions of Service into account; you must take the number of opportunities for promotion which the sailor has as compared with the soldier, and if you do you will find a considerably larger proportion of opportunities for non-commissioned and warrant ranks for sailors. You must take into account the pay of the sailor including the non-substintive pay which shows an advantage as compared with that of the soldier. I agree there is a feeling that the men should have a free kit, but it would mean a very considerable item of expense, representing something like £300,000 more. As Financial Secretary to the Admiralty, I am bound to tell the House of Commons what the cost would be. Let me repeat, you cannot take a single item in the treatment of the sailor and compare that with a corresponding item in the treatment of the soldier and then say the treatment of the one is better than that of the other. You must take a complete conspectus of the whole Service, and of the whole question of the conditions of the Service. I should like to add this. There is a very excellent agency called the Navy Employment Agency—I have no hesitation in advertising it here to-night—and it does its best to secure employment for time-expired men when they return to civil life. We have granted £l,000 a year for that society from public funds. In the year 1907–8 that agency found places for 739, and in 1910–11 they placed 1,537 men when they left the Service. I ought to add this: that when I am asked for a Royal Commission I have to state there are Committees sitting at the present time, one examining into the carpenter's branch, which includes the shipwrights of the Navy, and the House has already heard that a Committee is sitting upon the very important question of naval pensions and also on the question of boys' training ships. After that statement of what we are endeavouring to do, and are doing, for the dockyard men and the men in the Fleet, I hope the hon. Gentleman will not find it necessary to go to a Division. If he does, I ask the House with complete confidence to reject his Amendment, and I respectfully suggest, whether the Amendment is pressed or not, I confess I hope the hon. Member will withdraw it, that after that we should be allowed to move that Mr. Speaker do leave the Chair, and then, in accordance with general practice, to-morrow night we can resume the general Debate. I assure the House that at the Admiralty we are only too ready to listen to, and to take up, any point or plan that seems a practical scheme of betterment, no matter from what quarter, inside this House or outside it, it comes, and to give the closest consideration to any practical proposal for the betterment of the great Service with which we have the great honour to be associated.


I am going to support the Amendment which has been moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Devonport. Almost every point of interest has been thoroughly threshed out, so much so that I have very few words to say. I want to say a few words about the facilities for bringing forward grievances. Even at the best the present system is not a good one, because the men have to wait a whole year for an answer.


We only finished the petitions in January.


When were they sent in?


They had to be Bent in last August, but the hearing of them was quite recently.


It is bad enough for them to have to wait six months for an answer. I might say that all dockyards are almost honeycombed with grievances, and I do not say that specially of Portsmouth, where we have an excellent chief. Where can the men go with their grievances? As the right hon. Gentleman knows, although he replies most courteously to our grievances, we have still to go to the Treasury, and the hon. Member for Devonport and the hon. Member for Chatham know how little satisfaction we get from that Department. There are very few departments in the dockyards where you find the men are satisfied, whether on the establishment or among the skilled or unskilled labourers. My hon. Friend gave instances where outside labour was more highly paid than in the dockyard, and mentioned one case where a private firm paid 3s. a week more than in the dockyard. No hon. Member will be ready to state that 21s. a week is a living wage for any man. In addition to that low rate of pay, many of these men are forced to give up their work if it rains, and often they lose half a day's work, and they cannot afford it. For these reasons we press for the appointment of a Commission or an Advisory Board, and I should suggest a small number, say two for each dockyard, to meet at the end of a short period and then advise the Government.

I will not speak of carpenters, shipwrights, coppersmiths, and iron and brass-founders, because my hon. Friends have gone into them, nor shall I say anything about the Greenwich Pensions. I should like, however, to urge that the allowance for hazardous employment in the dockyards should be extended. In some cases the allowance is not given unless the man is working at a height of 50 ft., although all over the dockyard the limit is 20 ft., and naturally those in the former case do not Bee that their necks are less valuable than the other men in the yard. The drivers of steam and electric cranes are paid a very small rate of wages. I can tell him the reason privately if he wants to know, but I have no doubt it will engage his attention and possibly be remedied. There is no reason why these men who drive these cranes should not be supplied with suits of overhauls. There are only thirty of them in number. Then there is the pensions to the higher workmen. He says this is the first time he has heard they are willing to give money towards their pensions. Naturally, they are all willing. After thirty-five and sometimes forty years' service, these men are given at the age of sixty a gratuity, sometimes amounting to £80. With care such a gratuity will last three years, but at the end of that time there is nothing for them, although they are self-respecting and respectable men, but the workhouse. In many cases, these men have had small injuries, such as the loss of a finger or the stiffening of a finger, and they have been kept on at the dockyard, but when they are dismissed at the age of sixty there is no possibility of their obtaining work outside, and unless they can live—and they cannot—on the gratuity given them, their home is the workhouse. It is a disgraceful thing if a man who has given forty years to work in the dockyard should, in his old age, be obliged to go to the workhouse. They have, in fact, no option but to go into the workhouse. It is a burning question in the dockyard, and I can assure the right hon. Gentleman the members of the dockyard committee are in earnest in pushing for these pensions to the skilled men of the dockyard, and the skilled men are extremely keen on it. I can understand there are difficulties in the way, but I do not think those difficulties are insuperable. Again, all these men who receive gratuities, and who receive pensions, ask that they should be allowed to receive them at the nearest post office, especially if they are invalids or cripples, and should not be obliged to go down to the dockyard. There is no particular reason why these men, if they are invalided, should go to the dockyard to receive their pensions or gratuities, but they do at the, present time, and you can see quite old and feeble men going down in trams and cabs to get the small gratuity which they have earned. I turn now to the able seamen of the Fleet A statement was made that there their pay has not been materially increased, at any rate during the last sixty years.


The statement was that it has not been increased at all.


The right hon. Gentleman may pride himself on the fact that their pay has not been increased for sixty years, but they are not well paid, in my opinion, they are not well fed, they have to clothe themselves, and, whenever possible, it appears to me their vote is taken from them. If during the period of their service when they are qualifying for their pensions, they are thrown out as invalids, they are thrown out without any compensation whatever. If they are getting pensions for wounds or for injuries, and they have the fortune to get outside work, their pensions are immediately cut. It seems, to me that is a very disgraceful piece of cheeseparing on the part of the Treasury. These men who have not had their wages raised for sixty years see men, some certainly their equals, but a large number physically and mentally not their equals, striking for higher pay. They see these men earning what is to them an enormous wage: they see them striking for higher pay and obtaining it. They see one of the ornaments on the Front Bench saying, "You have the power why do you not use it." Surely it is trying these men very highly indeed to tell them that although the pay of their class has not been increased for sixty years, and although they see these things going on all round and they know they cannot, because they are under discipline, bring their case forward, yet you mean to do nothing for them. They are loyal and true and it is our duty to see that they are properly paid. We have confidence in them: they have confidence in us, and it is for us to show that that confidence is deserved.


The Secretary of the Admiralty always gives us a very fair reply but I want to refer to his statements with regard to the shipwrights. We have got no advance since 1906, and even then the shipwrights in the dockyards were less than the amount paid to men outside. He claims that the Government is a model employer, but is it? It compels the contractors to pay higher rates. The Admiralty should lead the way in these matters. Then there is the case of the labourers. If skilled labourers are doing skilled mechanics' work they ought to have skilled mechanics' pay while doing such work, and no reason has been put forward why that should not be done. I have complained repeatedly in this House of the treatment

of the lower deck men, likewise the carpenter's crews. We have had no reply to our requests. I want to know what methods we are to adopt in order to secure redress of our grievances. We know there is a Departmental Committee sitting, and we should like some outside evidence to be given before it. I should like to learn from the occupants of the Front Bench what we are to do to-get the Admiralty to move in the matter? Am I to come down and try to do what Plimsoll did, or would they have a coal strike or the transport workers on the road again. Why cannot they, when we are trying peaceful measures, meet the fair requests that we are putting forward. I ask nothing from the Admiralty that the men outside are not getting, and I trust that the respectful requests of the men in the dockyards will meet with some response.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided: Ayes, 202; Noes, 156.

Division No. 47.] AYES. [10.55 p.m.
Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour) Dawes, J. A. Hughes, Spencer Leigh
Adamson, William De Forest, Baron Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus
Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R. Denman, Hon. R. D. Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)
Agnew, Sir George William Dickinson, W. H. Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)
Ainsworth, John Stirling Donelan, Captain A. Joyce, Michael
Alden, Percy Doris, William Keating, Matthew
Allen, A. A. (Dumbartonshire) Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor) Kellaway, Frederick George
Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud) Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid) King, Joseph (Somerset, North)
Armitage, Robert Esslemont, George Birnie Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molton)
Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)
Atherley-Jones, Llewellyn A. Ffrench, Peter Levy, Sir Maurice
Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.) Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward Lewis, John Herbert
Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark) Flavin, Michael Joseph Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Furness, Stephen W. Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)
Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple) Gill, A. H. Lundon, Thomas
Barran, Sir J. N. (Hawick) Gladstone, W. G. C. Lyell, Charles Henry
Beauchamp, Sir Edward Glanville, H. J. Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)
Beck, Arthur Goldstone, Frank Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)
Benn, W. W. (T. H'mts., St. George) Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland) Maclean, Donald
Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine Griffith, Ellis J. Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.
Boland, John Plus Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke) Macpherson, James Ian
Booth, Frederick Handel Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.) MacVeagh, Jeremiah
Bowerman, C. W. Hackett, J. M'Callum, John M.
Brace, William Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose) McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald
Brady, Patrick Joseph Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds) Manfield, Harry
Brunner, John F. L. Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire) Markham, Sir Arthur Basil
Bryce, J, Annan Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale) Marks, Sir George Croydon
Buckmaster, Stanley O. Harvey, T. E, (Leeds, W.) Marshall, Arthur Harold
Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, N.) Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.) Martin, Joseph
Buxton, Rt. Hon. S. C. (Poplar) Harwood, George Mason, David M. (Coventry)
Byles, Sir William Pollard Haslam, James (Derbyshire) Masterman, C. F. G.
Carr-Gomm, H. W. Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry Meagher, Michael
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S. Hayden, John Patrick Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)
Clancy, John Joseph Hay ward, Evan Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's Co.)
Clough, William Henry, Sir Charles S. Menzies, Sir Walter
Collins, Stephen (Lambeth) Higham, John Sharp Millar, James Duncan
Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Hinds, John Mond, Sir Alfred Moritz
Cotton, William Francis Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H. Montagu, Hon. E. S.
Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth) Hodge, John Mooney, John J.
Crumley, Patrick Holmes, Daniel Turner Morgan, George Hay
Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy) Holt, Richard Durning Morrell, Philip
Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth) Horne, C. Silvester (Ipswich) Morton, Alpheus Cleophas
Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, s.) Howard, Hon. Geoffrey Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)
Nuttall, Harry Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside) Wadsworth, John
O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke) Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)
O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.) Roche, Augustine (Louth) Walters, Sir John Tudor
O'Doherty, Philip Rose, Sir Charles Day Wardle, George J.
O'Malley, William Rowntree, Arnold Waring, Walter
O'Sullivan, Timothy Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W. Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay
Palmer, Godfrey Mark Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland) Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)
Parker, James (Halifax) Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees) Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)
Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek) Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E. Watt, Henry A.
Pearson, Hon. Weetman H. M. Seely, Colonel Rt. Hon. J. E. B. Webb, H.
Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham) Sheehy, David Wedgwood, Josiah C.
Phillips, John (Longford, S.) Sherwell, Arthur James White, Sir Luke (York, E.R.)
Pointer, Joseph Simon, Sir John Allsebrook Whitehouse, John Howard
Priestley, Sir Arthur (Grantham) Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe) Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.
Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.) Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton) Whyte, A. F.
Pringle, William M. R. Snowden, Philip Wiles, Thomas
Radford, George Heynes Spicer, Sir Albert Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)
Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (S. Shields) Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West) Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough) Sutton, John E. Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)
Richards, Thomas Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe) Young, William (Perth, East)
Richardson, Albion (Peckham) Tennant, Harold John Yoxall, Sir James Henry
Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven) Thomas, J. H. (Derby)
Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln) Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)
Roberts, George H. (Norwich) Toulmin, Sir George TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.
Roberts, Sir J H. (Denbighs.) Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford) Verney, Sir Harry
Agg-Gardner, James Tynte Glazebrook, Capt. Philip K. Nield, Herbert
Aitken, Sir William Max Goldman, C. S. Norton-Griffiths, J.
Archer-Shee, Major Martin Goldsmith, Frank Orde-Powlett, Hon. William
Ashley, Wilfrid W. Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton) Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William
Baird, John Laurence Grant, J. A Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)
Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.) Greene, Walter Raymond Parkes, Ebenezer
Baicarres, Lord Gretton, John Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)
Baldwin, Stanley Guinness, Rt. Hon. R. Peel, Captain R. F. (Woodbridge)
Barlow, Montague (Salford, South) Guinness, Hon. Walter Edward Peel, Hon. W. R. W. (Taunton)
Bathurst, Hon. Allen B. (Glouc., E.) Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne) Perkins, Walter Frank
Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton) Hall, Fred (Dulwich) Pole-Carew, Sir R.
Beckett, Hon. Gervase Hall, Marshall (E. Toxteth) Pollock, Ernest Murray
Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth) Hamersley, Alfred St. George Pryce-Jones, Col. E.
Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich) Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.) Quliter, Sir William Eley C.
Bennett-Goldney, Francis Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil) Ratcliff, R. F.
Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith- Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence Rawson, Colonel Richard H.
Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid) Harris, Henry Percy Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
Boyton, James Harrison-Broadley, H. B. Ronaldshay, Earl of
Brassey, H. Leonard Campbell Henderson, Major H. (Berkshire) Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)
Bridgeman, W. Clive Hewins, William Albert Samuel Salter, Arthur Clavell
Burdett-Coutts, William Hill, Sir Clement L. Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)
Burn, Colonel C. R. Hills, John Waller Sanders, Robert A.
Butcher, John George Hoare, Samuel John Gurney Sanderson, Lancelot
Campbell, Capt. Duncan F. (Ayr, N.) Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield) Sandys, G. J. (Somerset, Wells)
Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. (Dublin Univ.) Horne, Wm. E. (Surrey, Guildford) Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)
Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred Hunt, Rowland Starkey, John Ralph
Cassel, Felix Ingleby, Holcombe Steel-Maitland, A. D.
Castlereagh, Viscount Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, E.) Stewart, Gershom
Cator, John Jessel, Captain H. M. Swift, Rigby
Cautley, Henry Strother Joynson-Hicks, William Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)
Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W. Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)
Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock) Kerry, Earl of Talbot, Lord Edmund
Courthope, George Loyd Kimber, Sir Henry Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)
Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.) Knight, Captain Eric Ayshford Tobln, Alfred Aspinall
Craig, Captain James (Down, E.) Lamb, Ernest Henry Touche, George Alexander
Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet) Larmor, Sir J. Tryon, Captain George Clement
Craik, Sir Henry Lee, Arthur Hamilton Walker, Colonel William Hall
Croft, Henry Page Lewisham, Viscount Ward, Arnold (Herts, Watford)
Dalrymple, Viscount Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey) Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)
Dixon, Charles Harvey Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury) Wheler, Granville C. H.
Doughty, Sir George Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R. White, Major G. D. (Lancs, Southport)
Duke, Henry Edward MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh Wilkie, Alexander
Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness) Mackinder, Halford J. Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)
Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M. Macmaster, Donald Willoughby, Major Hon. Claude
Faber, Captain W. V. (Hants, W.) McNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine) Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)
Falle, Bertram Godfray Mason, James F. (Windsor) Worthington-Evans, L.
Fell, Arthur Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-
Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton) Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead) Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honlton) Yate, Col. C. E.
Forster, Henry William Mount, William Arthur Younger, Sir George
Foster, Philip Staveley Neville, Reginald J. N. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir C. Kinloch-Cooke and Mr. Hobler.
Gibbs, George Abraham Newdegate, F. A.
Gilmour, Captain John Newton, Harry Kottingham

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Estimates considered in Committee,

[Mr. MACLEAN in the Chair.]