§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ Colonel BURN
The scene is changed from the Soudan to our own country. On this Bill we can consider the pay of officers and men in the Army. We all welcomed the statement of the Secretary of State for War that this country has at last realised that the pay of officers has not been changed for over a hundred years. It was more than necessary to make some change when we consider how prices have gone up and the expenses of officers have increased. In these days, when we wish to see commissions given from the ranks to the men most fitted to hold them, they must have adequate pay in order to maintain their position as officers in the Army. There is a certain suggestion which I would like to make, and although it would not increase the pay of officers any further, it might lessen their expenses and thus have the same effect as an increase of pay. Regiments are moved from time to time from one station to another, and there is considerable difficulty in finding out when a regiment is about to be moved. It entails considerable cost, especially on the 1128 married officers, and to a considerable degree on all the officers and men. If some notice were given of these movements it would be——
§ Mr. SPEAKER
That matter does not arise under this Bill. It can be raised upon a separate Vote later on.
§ Colonel BURN
I will not proceed with the suggestion any further, though I may say, if it were adopted it would be equal to an increase in pay.
§ Colonel BURN
I apologise for exceeding the bounds. When an officer joins, I do not believe that he is attracted by the pay that is going to be offered to him. As a general rule he does not consider the amount of pay which he is going to receive when he joins the Army. Most of them join because they are soldiers by heredity and they have a military spirit. Coming to those who join as privates, may say that in these days we hear a great deal of discussion as to a voluntary Army and conscription, but I think that the great majority of the recruits who present themselves for enlistment are soldiers by compulsion—not by the compulsion of the State, but by the compulsion of hunger. We wish that the best type of men should present themselves for enlistment, and without desiring to increase the pay of the private soldier this result would be arrived at if we only offered him sonic inducement in the future. If they felt that during the years they served in the Army they were doing themselves sonic good, and that those years of service were counted towards their future, that would certainly have the result of inducing men to join the Army as a profession, and not because of the want of food and clothing. It is the duty of the State to recognise the service that these men give to the Army, very often for a considerable period in foreign stations which are unhealthy, and also on active service, and it is the duty of the State and the War Office to fight their battles and to see that the greatest possible number of positions is kept open for them at the termination of their Army service. That would do far more than even a slight increase in the pay of the private soldier. What we want is to see that this service is recognised, and that, while the man is soldiering with his 1129 regiment, these years of service are going to count if he is fortunate enough to get a position in the Civil Service when once more he joins the civilian ranks. That, to my mind, and the mind of anyone who knows anything about the Army, would do more good for a British soldier, and the Army in general, than any other proposition which can be made from either side of the House. The best soldier feels himself left out of it at present. He thinks, and he has reason to feel, that his service is not well treated by the country and those in authority, and when we are considering tins question of pay it would be well worth while for the Secretary of State to consider what I have said. I know that if we demand a further increase of nay we shall be told by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that such a thing is impossible, but the scheme which I advocate makes no further demand for pay, but simply asks for a recognition of the service that has been done by the man serving in the ranks of the regiment. I am convinced that if that were carried out it would have the effect generally of producing the best class of men who would desire to make the Army their career, and help the Army and those connected with it. I, for one, should be only too glad to co-operate in any scheme which would bring about this, and make the position of the British soldier more assured and his future more certain.
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
I was not aware until a moment ago that one could not discuss questions which arose on Vote 8, but I gather from the ruling which Mr. Speaker has just made one must postpone any observations on that Vote until another occasion. Under Vote 1, however, we have the very important question of seamen's wages. The wages of the lower deck attracted a great deal of attention recently in this House. The First Lord of the Admiralty in his speech on the Naval Estimates last year, referred to the raising of wages. On that occasion he gave us some hope that he would do something to assist the married men in the Service. I rather gather that he thinks that he has done this by raising the pay of the seamen. May I inform the House that an Order is being issued by the Admiralty to the effect that the price of seamen's clothing and bedding is to be raised. I understand that the Order will be promulgated very shortly, and that from the 1st July a certain rise is to take place in 1130 the men's uniform and in various articles of clothing necessary for the seamen to purchase. I understand that blankets are to be raised front 7s. to 8s. 9d., and "fear nought" trousers are to be raised from 4s. 1d. to 4s. 11d., while the petty officers' gold badge, which hitherto only cost them 1s. 11d., is to be raised to 2s. 3d. Some of us will remember that when the chief petty officers obtained the addition of a halfpenny to their pensions, this concession was promptly met by knocking off £5 from their good conduct medal gratuities. It seems that that precedent is about to be followed by the Admiralty to-day. I am afraid that such gratitude as the men expressed after they had received the rise in pay will be turned into resentment when they find that these articles of clothing have gone up by something like 30 per cent. The First Lord of the Admiralty, taking a leaf out of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's book, is pursuing the policy of robbing Peter to pay Paul. One word about the kit. We were told by the First Lord that in future all men on the lower deck were to receive a free kit. He has not yet seen his way to give any allowance for the replacement of the kit—that is to say, when the kit requires renewing, the seaman is obliged to pay for it himself. I have received a letter-upon this subject from which I will read an extract:—Well, Sir, the point is we have to pay for a portion of kit. whether we like it or not. This week I have had my pay stopped, and when I enquired why, I was told that I had drawn clothing. I have not drawn any of my own free will, but have been supplied with 'Fear-noughts' by the Admiralty, and have had 10s. 5d. placed on the debit side of my account. This means that for one week I have to go without any money. Personally, it does not matter very much, but, Sir, there are others who have to depend on their earnings for a livelihood, and I submit that it is tint fair to stop a man's money when there is already provision made by the stopping of 1s. 8d. every week for extra clothing.The letter goes on to deal with other matters of a similar kind, perhaps it will be possible for the Parliamentary Secretary to give some explanation of the point, for we should all be glad to know, if a free kit was promised by the First Lord of the Admiralty, that the men will receive it. Then there is the question of the men who are hurt in the dockyard, and of the widows and orphans who are supposed to be provided with work, as part of the compensation given by the Admiralty, in the colour loft and in the ropery. The Parliamentary Secretary told us the other day that there was not sufficient work in either of those depart- 1131 ments to provide employment for those widows and orphans. If that be the case, will the Parliamentary Secretary tell me on what ground we are told, after we have applied to the Admiralty for help for these widows and orphans, that work will be found for these women and for these orphans in the colour loft and in the ropery? Again I would appeal to him to give us some explanation—I think he might have taken advantage of the opportunity which presented itself the other day to tell us why work in those departments is decreasing. Why did he not tell us that work in the ropery is gradually drifting away, and that in a very few years' time will probably be stopped altogether? In these circumstances, I do press him to say what other kind of provision he has in his mind for these widows and orphans. Then there is the pension question in connection with widows and orphans of men who have lost their lives while in the service of their country by accidents in submarines. Over and over again I have brought the matter forward by question and answer in this House, and the First Lord of the Admiralty told me last October that he had under consideration the giving of extra pensions to widows, and some extra allowance for the orphans of men who have lost their lives in the service of the country.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty, however, did not give me such a friendly answer. He told me that he could not raise what he called "false hopes." The Parliamentary Secretary nods his head, thereby indicating that they are false hopes. If they are false hopes, I would like to know why the First Lord of the Admiralty told the House only the other day that he had under consideration the giving of an extra allowance to the widows of these men. I now pass on to the question of compensation, the whole subject needs further consideration. Compensation is given for hurts in the Navy and for hurts in the dockyards. Compensation is also given to the widows and orphans and next of kin of men who have lost their lives, either in the dockyards or in the Navy. All these matters require very much further consideration. I believe I am right in saying that the Admiralty have under consideration a new scheme, and that new scheme, we are told, is to come into force at the end of this month, or at any rate this month.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the ADMIRALTY (Dr. Macnamara)
Those are dockyard employés.
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
Yes, the dockyard employés, and that scheme will come into force about the end of the month. I believe that it is questioned in the yards by several of the employés whether the former scheme met the requirements which they had thought it would meet when they acquiesced in it. I should like to know from the Parliamentary Secretary whether or not these matters have been considered with a view to meeting the difficulties which have been from time to time brought to his notice, either by the employés in the dockyards or by persons acting in their behalf. I would especially call the right hon. Gentleman's attention to one section of the scheme which divides the men into those who are slightly hurt, those who are partially impaired, and those who are totally disabled. The division into these three sections has not worked out to the advantage of the men. As to the medical representatives of the Admiralty, I do not in any way imply that they are not altogether sympathetic or that they do not do the best they can, but it is the fact, which cannot be denied, that a very considerable number of the men who are hurt in the dockyards are put down as partially impaired or slightly impaired. It is pointed out that these men can only have very small pensions, and that they must get work in some other way. The Parliamentary Secretary has very nobly and very kindly, I am sure, brought in a regulation by which, I think I am right in saying, the men who are injured, either in the dockyards or in the service of the Navy, are to be allowed to receive such work as they can possibly do in the dockyards, but owing to the number of men who are hurt, both in the Navy and in the dockyards, there are very few vacancies available for them. When a man with a broken arm or a broken leg once gets his appointment he keeps it for life. His injury is not likely to cause his death, and he may live for a very considerable time. Though it is very nice and very kind of the Parliamentary Secretary to introduce this new regulation, it has been of no advantage whatsoever. It has in no way assisted the men to obtain employment in the dockyards. The suggestion has been made that employment might be found outside, but that, of course, is altogether absurd, because no one is likely to 1133 employ a man who is even slightly impaired. The result is that there are often found in dockyard towns men who have very small pensions indeed, which are not sufficient to live upon, trying their best to get work but never succeeding. I do hope that the matter will be considered in the new scheme which the Admiralty are about to bring forward. The Parliamentary Secretary told us the other day, in answer to a supplementary question, that the Admiralty would submit the scheme to each man in the yard before the scheme came into force. The reason I press this point—and I am quite sure the Parliamentary Secretary agrees with me—is that the men never understood what they were signing on previous occasions. If the Admiralty were to circulate in the yards this scheme, the men could take it to their solicitors or their friends and could then themselves come to a conclusion, and probably a very satisfactory conclusion, as to whether they will accept it or whether they will not.
While I am talking about pensions, I would like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary whether he cannot see his way, in !some way or other, to press forward a reform which is needed, namely, that money should be voted, or more money than is now voted, from the Naval Fund towards the pensions for widows of men who die in the Service. As it is now, the greater part of this money comes out of the funds which are known as the Greenwich Hospital Funds, that are intended mainly for the purpose of assisting old men in the Navy who have obtained certain emoluments to live more comfortably in their old age than would otherwise be possible. Therefore, so long as those funds are drawn upon to the present extent for widows pensions to that extent they are depleted, and these poor old men are in consequence deprived of what they ought to receive. That is a matter which I wish very much to press upon the Parliamentary Secretary. I should like him also to make some further explanation of the extra money which he said would be available this year, beginning on 1st April last, for the 5d. per day, and the 4d. extra for the old men who come under the Hospital Fund. There is an idea among these men that something extra is coining to them, because the Parliamentary Secretary made a statement to the House, and I believe a great number more pensions have been given than have been granted for a considerable time past. I received a letter this 1134 morning saying that two increased old age pensions had been given, such a thing has not occurred during the time I have been in Parliament. In conclusion, I should like to say that if the Government had accepted the suggestion which I made on the Estimates last year, that a Royal Commission should be appointed to inquire into all labour and pension matters connected with the dockyards and the Navy, and if those matters had come before such a Commission, the country would then have got some understanding of what the real grievances are in the Navy and in the dockyards. I would still press upon the right hon. Gentleman the granting of a Royal Commission. I should have got it had it not been for the abstention from voting of hon. Members below the Gangway opposite. The hon. Member for the Blackfriars Division (Mr. Barnes) who was prepared, I believe, to second my suggestion—I do not know that he voted against me—certainly he did not vote for me. In fact, hon. Members who sit below the Gangway opposite somehow or other continually oppose the Naval Votes. They say they would like to see the men of the dockyards receive higher wages, yet without in any way qualifying or restricting their observations, they vote against these Naval Votes on every possible occasion. They also voted against my suggestion for a Royal Commission. I think that was a very unfortunate matter, and I do not think that the men in the dockyards consider that the hon. Members who sit below the Gangway opposite are assisting them in any way, when they do not vote for suggestions which come from this side, and which are so manifestly proposed in the interests of the men, whom they are supposed to represent. I remember that only a week or two ago the hon. Member for Blackfriars and the hon. Member for Barrow (Mr. C. Duncan), two very energetic Members who often address the House on subjects connected with dockyards, went down to the West, and said that they cared nothing whatever about the Liberal Government, that the Government had no concern for them. The hon. Member for Barrow went so far as to say to the dockyard men, did they, think that the Labour Members were deaf and dumb, did they think that forty Labour Members were in the House of Commons for nothing——
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
I bow to your ruling. There are one or two other matters which, however, I am unable to bring forward on this occasion. I would ask the Financial Secretary in his reply to give me a specific answer to each of the questions I have put to him.
§ Lord CHARLES BERESFORD
I desire to ask the right hon. Gentleman a few questions on the Votes under discussion. Is the recruiting satisfactory at present? I notice you are joining 21,000 men this year, in order to make up for wastage and increases. I may be wrong, but the right hon. Gentleman I hope will tell us how many he is joining, and also whether the Admiralty are joining the men necessary, not only for our own Fleet, but also for the Australian and Canadian Fleets. That is a very important question. The First Lord of the Admiralty said on the 21st January last, that all our manning resources are strained to the utmost limits. I was bold enough then to tell the House exactly the state of affairs with regard to the manning necessary for the Fleet. The First Lord made what was hardly a civil reply. He said that what I said was not true. The number of men he is now joining shows that what I said was true, and it will be proved in the next year and the year after that we were very short of men. I do not blame the First. Lord himself, but his predecessor, because he did not look ahead. The First Lord was perfectly justified in saying that officers and skilled professional ratings cannot be improvised, but that they require years of skilful training. By joining the enormous number of men this year not to man the fleet which is being built, but to man and fill up vacancies that have occurred, the thing is perfectly apparent. I congratulate the Admiralty on the great improvement of putting down the maximum number of those wanted instead of the average. That is a sound principle, and enables us to see exactly how we stand with regard to the men voted and the men that are joining. I have often said here you may get your ships, boilers, engines, guns, and the like, but the personnel is what is going to win, and unless you join men and give them the training which is necessary, which is five years for the men and nine for the officer, it does not matter how good your ships are, you cannot expect to do justice to the Service unless the personnel is properly trained. There is a good deal of irritation and unrest now owing to the shortage of 1136 men. The right hon. Gentleman knows it, and if he does not know it, he ought to know it. A few years ago the men were two years in harbour and one year at sea. Now they are two years at sea, and one year in harbour, while the training is many times more strenuous than it used to be. I would like the right hon. Gentleman to reply more particularly with regard to the question I ask as to whether the recruiting is satisfactory. I would also like to know how much he has reduced the standard for bluejackets, stokers, and marines, in order to get this enormous number of increased men which the Admiralty now find necessary to fill up, the complements.
Is the new scheme for joining officers satisfactory? We were told we had plenty of officers, and when I said that was not the fact, I was severely hauled over the coals about the statement. The proof of the matter is that the education scheme with regard to the supply of officers failed. If it did not fail, why are you suddenly promoting from the lower deck and getting recruits from the public school and a large number of men from the mercantile marine, which you want in order to fill up vacancies. On Vote 1, I am glad to see there is at last an increase in the Marine officers' pay. I again call the attention of the Admiralty to the fact that those who study the question can only regard the increased pay of the lower deck as an instalment. I am hopeful that the Admiralty next year will see their way to pay the men in the Fleet according to the work that they do. I am rather inclined to think that the Admiralty may do that, because the First Lord said the other day that the idea that the increase of pay was an ending of the benefits the men were to get was not a sound idea, or words to that effect. At any rate, he encouraged the House to think that he would in the future take into consideration the pay of the men with regard to increases. Will the right hon. Gentleman or the Admiralty give us any hope that the pay of the coast guards is to be increased. Their pay should be increased. They are the very best reserve we have got. They are men who have served for some time in the Service, and they would be most valuable men in war. They are, I think, the only branch of the lower deck that have been left out in the increase of pay. If the right hon. Gentleman does not see his way to increase the pay of these valuable men, I hope he will tell the House why. On Vote 2, I 1137 desire to refer to the question of the upkeep of the kit. It is an immense improvement to give a free kit to a large number of men on the lower deck, who did not get it before, but the upkeep of the kit ought to be given by the Government in exactly the same way as is done in the Army and to the Marines. The cost of the upkeep would not amount to a great deal on the Government, while it costs the men a very great deal. They feel very keenly on the question, because of their position in this respect. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to answer my few questions.
§ Mr. WHELER
I desire to ask a question about the kit. Are we to understand that from the 1st July the petty officers and men of the Navy will be called on to pay an increased price for the kit. The matter is causing considerable dissatisfaction and disappointment amongst the men, for the reason that they feel, if they are going to be called on to pay an increased price, the addition that has been given to the wages they earn in the Navy, will, of course, be largely discounted, and as much as 30 per cent. in some cases will disappear as a result of that increase. The subject is the cause of considerable discontent. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will seriously consider the matter, because if there is any intention of making the increase, I am certain it would be doing a great injustice and will nullify the additions connected with the increased pay.
§ Mr. FALLE
I wish to support, as strongly as I can, every remark that fell from the Noble Lord (Lord C. Beresford), and particularly the question of the upkeep of the kit and as to the pay of the Coastguards. Both matters are of the greatest importance. The next point he raised was as to the seamen of the Navy, and there was the question of the re-engagement of those who are termed in their first period. There is little temptation for those men to re-engage. They have been taught their work and are worth their weight in gold to the Navy. There is the question of the paymasters and assistant clerks in the Navy. I do not think the higher grade are sufficiently paid, but they are in a position to look after themselves, but as to the others they are not. They have a difficult examination to pass, and they are paid 2s. 6d. a day. I consider that an iniquity. I think their parents are in many cases led to believe that the promotion 1138 is quicker than it is, while it is slow and for years they are absolutely unable, to keep themselves. I think that should be brought more clearly before the public, and that the pay in this case should be increased, so that at any rate they would not have to come down on their parents every year for a very large sum for maintenance. The pay of these youngsters, just as the pay of the second lieutenants in the Army, should be a sum which would enable them to live according to the class of life from which they are taken, and of that to which they are going.
§ 7.0 P.M.
There is one point of very considerable importance raised by the hon. Member for Devoriport (Sir C. Kinloch-Cooke) in the earlier part of his speech, and that is with reference to the workmen's compensation scheme in the dockyards. I hope very much that when the Financial Secretary replies he will be able to tell us more or less in detail what the terms of that scheme are, because the old scheme expires on the 30th of this month, and very few days are left for this new scheme to be introduced. Personally, I think the Admiralty ought to have given a little longer warning to the men as to what the new scheme is to be. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will deal specially with the question of the tribunal for settling disputed eases, particularly arbitration matters. At present there is no doubt that the decision rests more with the Admiralty than with anybody else.
§ Mr. PETO
I should like a little information as to how many officers the Admiralty have actually got from the mercantile marine, and whether they are really getting officers from the great liners—men who have been accustomed to navigating vessels travelling at very high speeds. If the deficiency in officers in the Navy is to be made good by officers from the merchant service, the Admiralty ought to offer terms which will ensure their getting the absolute pick of the officers in that service. I am told by officers who are personal friends of mine that the terms offered by the Admiralty are not such as. to attract officers of the highest class. That being so, I should like the right hon. Gentleman to state how many of these officers they have actually got, whether they are of the very highest class, and whether the terms are such that a career is offered equal to that which these officers are asked to give up in order to take, 1139 service in the Navy. I should also like to know how many officers the Admiralty have got under the new scheme for taking officers from the public schools. That is a new departure, and the House ought to know how it is going on. I understand that there has not been any large response on the part of boys who have gone through the full public school course.
§ Colonel YATE
I should like to congratulate the War Office on the new scheme which has been issued for giving soldiers a technical training to fit them for employment after they leave the Service. I hope, however, that the authorities will not be too hard in the matter of fees, but that they will give a Grant-in-Aid for that purpose. The War Office has cast upon it a great responsibility for finding employment for the men after they leave the Army. We hear a great deal about blind-alley employment for boys, but it is much worse in the case of men. Boys employed from thirteen to eighteen years of age have a much better chance of making a subsequent career than men who are enlisted at eighteen, kept until they are twenty-five, and then turned out unfitted for any civil employment. It is a bad employer that does that, and as the Government is the employer in this case there rests upon the War Office the responsibility of finding life employment for the men. I think that we ought to find employment for a great many more in the Government service than we do, and I trust that the Under-Secretary will take that matter into consideration. Take the, ease of the telegraph boy. He serves the Post Office from thirteen to eighteen years of age. He ought then to enlist for seven years, afterwards returning to the Post Office as a life career, and those seven years in the Army should count towards pension. No boy ought to be enlisted even as a telegraph messenger unless he states his willingness to serve his time in the Army and then continue his career in the Post Office. That is the way to find a life career for these men. Service with the Colours ought always to count towards civil pension. That is a very great point which I trust will be considered.
In regard to officers, the Secretary of State told us the other day that he was going to give an increase of pay. That increase has been postponed and postponed. It was promised in March; we have not got it yet. The Financial Secretary expressed the hope that under the 1140 new scheme no officers would be worse off than at present. That is not very encouraging for those who are looking for an increase in their pay. There ought to be a real increase, and it should be given promptly. I cannot imagine what is the object of postponing the pay until next year, unless it is that the Secretary of State has to cut down something else to find the money. I hope the Under-Secretary will be able to give an assurance that this increase of pay will really be given. Another point to which I wish to refer concerns officers' allowances. These allowances are absolutely insufficient to cover the cost that they are intended to make good. Travelling allowances, too, are absolutely insufficient. I have before asked the hon. Member to appoint a committee of regimental officers, and really thrash out this question. I ask not for a committee of staff officers, but for a committee of regimental officers who have served their life with their regiments and know where these things hit. If the hon. Gentleman appointed such a committee, and asked them to work out proper allowances, he would do a great deal to put a stop to the irritation which all officers feel at the shabby and mean way in which they are now treated in this respect.
§ Major M'CALMONT
I wish to raise a question with reference to quartermasters, and more especially quartermasters who are specially promoted. Under the Regulations at present, a quartermaster specially promoted, if he happens to be promoted two or three three days before his promotion is due, although it may be for gallantry in the field or for special services, gets no benefit whatsoever. But if he is promoted four or five years before his promotion is due, he gets a great deal of benefit. Cases have occurred and will go on occurring in which quartermasters are promoted on exactly the same grounds—for valour in the field, or for good work during peace time—and whereas one man benefits very largely, another does not benefit at all. The Financial Secretary on one occasion when replying to me, said that the same thing applies to brevets. They are not the same thing, because an officer who obtains brevet promotion obtains it as an honour and not necessarily for financial benefit, whereas a quartermaster, who is entirely dependent upon his pay, if he gets any promotion hopes to get something with it. If one man makes only a few shillings by his 1141 promotion, while his neighbour in the next regiment makes a great many pounds, it leads to a great deal of controversy and ill-feeling, and is bad for discipline, for the Service generally, and particularly for the officers promoted from the ranks.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for WAR (Mr. Tennant)
One or two questions have been asked with regard to the position of the soldier, and more particularly with regard to the employment of old soldiers. I rise for the purpose of giving a sympathetic reply. If any scheme could be promulgated providing a certainty of employment for men who had served their country, it would not only be received sympathetically by the War Office, but it would receive our best support. The Permanent Under-Secretary (Sir Edward Ward) interests himself very much in these matters, and is always trying to devise some new machinery by which to make the old machinery more fruitful and more serviceable, or to find some new means by which we can employ our old soldiers. I have before stated that we are in constant communication with the public Departments in the endeavour to get them to appoint old soldiers to any suitable vacancies that may arise. I have on previous occasions given the numbers of Government employés who have served in the ranks, and the House has noted with gratification that men who have served in His Majesty's Forces have been given posts in an increasing ratio. A question was asked with regard to pensions, but as the hon. Member is not in his place I need not go into that point. It is really a matter not for the War Office to deal with, but rather for the Treasury. The question of allowances has been gone into by a Committee. I am not able to give any assurance that the present allowances will be increased. It has been suggested in connection with certain deductions made from officers' pay and allowances the War Office make a profit. I can assure the hon. Member that that is not the case at all. We charge exactly the cost to the War Office. With regard to the question of quartermasters, I believe the Secretary of State has the matter in hand. It has not been brought to my notice, and I can only say that it is engaging the attention of the War Office.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
A number of questions have been put to me with regard to the Navy, and especially with reference to 1142 the compensation to Civil employés of the Admiralty. In regard to the scheme under the Workmen's Compensation Act, I explained in Committee that when the first Workmen's Compensation Act came into operation in 1898 we already had provision for the Civil employés in the dockyards by way of hurt pay and compensation in the case of death or permanent injury. On the whole, that provision was more favourable than the provision under the Workmen's Compensation Act, particularly as regards hurt pay, because under the first Workmen's Compensation Act there could be no hurt pay unless the absence consequent upon it extended to a fortnight, and in the second Compensation Act to a week. From the beginning our scheme provided that a man would get his hurt pay even though he was only away one day as the result of an accident. We took the view that our scheme was more favourable; therefore it was proposed that our men should be given the opportunity of contracting out of the Workmen's Compensation Act of 1898. They have been contracted out ever since. But, of course, under Section 3 of the Act it is necessary for the Chief Registrar to be satisfied that our scheme, as an alternative to the Act, was at least as favourable to the workmen engaged as the Act. The first scheme we offered was accepted with practical unanimity. The second scheme was also accepted with practical unanimity. The present scheme, as my hon. Friend behind me says, expires on the 30th of this month—that is next Monday. It must be submitted again for the decision of the men.
During the hearing of the Petitions a number of points were put to me by the men, and suggestions were made as to where the new scheme could be arranged more favourably on most of the points. Further, I called to London representatives of the body of workmen and in conference with them I gathered what their views were about the matter. All these representations have had considerable care devoted to them. I have forwarded a number of them to the Treasury, and the Treasury thereafter forwarded them to the Chief Registrar. I desire to say that I am very well satisfied indeed with the way my representations have been received. The new scheme is now on its way to the men. Some of them possibly have received it to-day. They will all have received it to-morrow, or perhaps at latest by the next day. I have arranged that every man shall have a copy put into his hands. We 1143 are not following the procedure of the past when the men had to go and read the poster to tell them all about it. They will be allowed a fortnight during which they will make up their minds whether to accept or refuse the scheme. There will be no compulsion. The men can please themselves entirely. Any man who says: "I do not want the scheme, I prefer the Workmen's Compensation Act," will not be prejudiced in any way. Further, even if in the first instance, a man comes under this scheme, he can at any time, by giving notice, withdraw from it, and come under the Workmen's Compensation Act. Each man will receive a ballot paper, a copy of which I have in my hand. I will read it to the House, if I may. It says:—Government scheme of Compensation for Injury. Ballot paper. "Are you in favour of the proposed scheme under the Workmen's Compensation Act of 1906?'The man places "yes" or "no" opposite to that question. The men will exercise their own discretion, and will not be prejudiced in any way whatever, if they say "no" to the scheme and say that they prefer to come under the Workmen's Compensation Act. Let me deal with the main criticisms to the expiring scheme. There was a point raised by my hon. and gallant Friend, and others have been raised from time to time by hon. Members opposite, including the hon. Member for Chatham. So far as the main criticisms go, I gather they are three. Let me put them to the House. The first is this: Under the old scheme, if a man was hurt soon after the expiration of his apprenticeship to assess the hurt pay he would get it was necessary to go back for twelve months, which might include a long or a short period of time during which he was an apprentice. On this method of calculation the hurt pay was unquestionably reduced, and perhaps reduced substantially. If a man shortly after the expiration of his apprenticeship was fatally injured, under the old scheme the procedure was to go back for three years, and assess the basis of compensation in that way. In that man's case it would again very substantially affect the compensation, because of the small wage of the apprenticeship period. We have under this scheme, which is to be submitted to the men, altered the compensation both in the matter of hurt pay and when a man is fatally injured. After he becomes a workman the award will be based upon the average of his wage as an adult workman. We are not taking into 1144 consideration nor carrying the survey back to the period that we did before. The workmen put it to us that it was not fair to go back during the time we had been going back, and we have forwarded to the chief registrar a recommendation that the award should be based upon the average as an adult workman as I have stated.
The hon. Member for Devonport raised another point, which has been the subject of considerable criticism. Under the old scheme of compensation the rates of compensation were: If the earning capacity were totally destroyed, twenty-four-sixtieths of the average weekly earnings was given; if materially impaired, eighteen-sixtieths; if impaired, twelve-sixtieths; if slightly impaired, six-sixtieths. Under the new scheme the corresponding rates will be raised. If the earning capacity of a man is totally destroyed he will be given one-half of his average weekly earnings; if his earning capacity is materially impaired, three-eights; if impaired, one-fourth; and if slightly impaired, one-eighth. In other words, the scale of compensation allowance has been increased by 25 per cent. for each of the several degrees of impairment. The maximum rate of compensation is the same as that authorised under the Workmen's Compensation Act of 1906. As to the very important point of arbitration. The men claim that there should be independent arbitration in case of dispute. They say that the Admiralty ought not to be the judges in its own behalf. We are not. The cases in dispute are few, and relate almost exclusively to conflict in medical testimony. This is the procedure which has been followed under the existing scheme, and will be followed under the new scheme if the scheme is accepted. If there is any criticism of the certificate of our surgeon, any divergence of view, the Treasury Medical Referee would have the whole matter put before him. Anybody on behalf of the man concerned who have counter testimony can give it, and the Treasury Medical Referee will weigh that testimony. He can call in other assistance. He can call any testimony he likes; and this is all quite outside our control. He is not under the Medical Director-General at all.
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
The right hon. Gentleman says he can call in any testimony. Will he receive any testimony offered to him from outside the Admiralty?
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
Certainly. It is open to anyone to send up another medical certificate if they think fit, or desirable, or just, or equitable, and he will examine it. I will say this on behalf of the Medical Referee: he does give these cases most careful and sympathetic consideration. I have watched the matter closely for some years, and I must say on behalf of the Medical Referee that his decisions are invariably marked by sympathy to the workmen. Let me state how the matter will stand under the new scheme:—All questions, whether as to the right of compensation under this scheme, or as to the amount thereof, or as to the period during which it is payable, or as to the person or persons to whom it is payable, or otherwise, arising upon the scheme, shall be decided by the Treasury. For purposes of arriving at a decision the Treasury may make such inquiries, and take such statements and medical or other opinions as they think fit, and shall consider any representations made by or on behalf of the workman or his dependants.Provided that the Treasury shall appoint a Medical Referee to whom on the application of the workman or Ins dependants any medical question which arises shall be referred. Further the Treasury may in the absence of any such application——and this is a case not contemplated by the hon. Member—refer to the Medical Referee any question on which an independent medical opinion may seem to them to be desirable.That is how we stand under this new scheme. That is not the arbitration, which, no doubt, my hon. Friend would wish. I do not say it is. But my experience is that the man gets sympathetic treatment.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I have gone into this very carefully. In the light of my experience, and having spent a very great deal of time over the matter, I think it is a perfectly satisfactory solution, while it does fall short of the arbitration which the hon. Member desires. The Noble Lord put a question a moment ago as to whether the difficulty which arose in the Horne case would arise again. No, it has not been possible ever since the Horne case, because what happened immediately after that case was this: In the Home case the certificate said death was due to natural causes. Upon that we could not give compensation. The matter was brought forward, 1146 and those concerned were helped no doubt by the Noble Lord as by others to get counter testimony. That was put forward, and ultimately compensation was given. I saw the weak link in the then existing chain. We determined to stop the thing arising again. Since that the Treasury have had all the papers sent them at once in case of dispute. The Medical Referee, of whose administration I have spoken in the terms I have, and I think quite justly——
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
Does the hon. Gentleman mean in cases where compensation has been refused that as the result of this new scheme someone may come to us and say, "Now, then, we must have some compensation. "No, certainly.
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
The right hon. Gentleman misunderstands me. He will have the cases I refer to in his memory, because in one of these he decided in my favour and the other he is now considering. Both of these cases have been going on for some years. Will these cases come under the new scheme?
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
The case the hon. Gentleman refers to is not a Compensation Act case at all. The painter in the case referred to contracted lead poisoning, and died. We were not able to pay any compensation, but we could and did avail ourselves of a phrase in our regulations to the effect that help can be given if death was caused by "extraordinary exposure or exertion on duty." What we did was to read into that phrase, "extraordinary exposure or exertion on duty," a death from certified industrial diseases. We thus gave a more generous and more sympathetic interpretation to the case than otherwise we could have done. Our new scheme is more expensive to the Crown than the Workmen's Compensation Act would be. I am quite sure the hon. Member, who knows the problem, will agree with me that it is more favourable than the old scheme. I shall not give the men advice: I would not presume to do so, though I think my relations with the men are such that I am perfectly certain they would not resent it if I did. There the matter ends. This is a new scheme and every facility will be given to them to take advantage of it. The Noble Lord raised another question as to numbers. Last year we voted an average bearing of 137,500 men, and we are estimated to have 1147 had at the end of the financial year 139,770, which gives us not the precise number, but very nearly. We are going to work up this year to a maximum of 146,000 up to the 31st March, 1914. We have altered our estimate from the average to the maximum. We have to work up to 146,000. The estimated number at 31st March, 1913 is 139,770. We are to work up to 146,000 to the end of the financial year, so there will be an actual addition of 6,230.
§ Lord C. BERESFORD
That is not quite my point. What I wanted to get at was the number you would join for wastage and increase.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I was coming to that. Having got that number, having to work up to a maximum on the 31st March, 1914, it is clear we must have an addition of 6,230. The Noble Lord says to get them and to provide for wastage you would have to get another 21,000 men. That is not so; 17,500 men is about the figure, and so far as I know it is proceeding satisfactorily. The Noble Lord referred to a question of the recruitment of officers. Generally, I would say that the system of common entry and training still holds the field, but of course the very large increase of the personnel of the Fleet which has recently taken place has compelled us to take exceptional steps to provide for emergencies which will arise, some time shortly, say, in two or three years' time, and therefore, in addition to that which I say holds the field, we have taken one or two emergency steps. We have provided for entries from the Royal Naval Reserve, in the merchant service, and I would like to say that that is quite satisfactory. The First Lord of the Admiralty, in his statement, said:—We propose first to take 100 to 120 lieutenants from the Royal Naval Reserve following the precedent employed in 1895 and 1898. But we propose to select them with very great care, not in one batch, but gradually over a period of two years.That was the proposal, and it was quite satisfactory, and this particular means when the emergency arises in regard to the increase in the personnel of the Fleet, is quite satisfactory.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I do not like to enter upon that at the moment, but if the hon. Gentleman would put a question down, I will give him precise figures in 1148 regard to it. With regard to the other emergency procedure, the direct entry, the First Lord said:—The third method by which we shall increase the lieutenants' list is by offering from thirty to forty cadetships a year to competition, after selection, by young men of between seventeen and a-half and eighteen and a-half years of age, taken probably mainly though by no means exclusively, from the public schools."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th March. 1913, col. 1781, Vol. L.]That is now in progress, and although I cannot give the number of applicants, I will do so if the question is put down, but we have no reason to suppose that this particular expedient to meet this particular emergency will not succeed.
§ Lord C. BERESFORD
Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us quite clearly is the emergency caused by increases in the Fleet or by lack of looking ahead in the last five years, and joining the proper number of men?
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I have stated already that the rapid increases of the personnel in the last year or two wilt create a situation three or four years hence to meet which we must adopt expedients. The Noble Lord referred to promotion from the lower deck. I do not think I could include promotions in the lower deck as an emergency expedient. The Noble Lord then referred to the coastguards' pay. I cannot, I am afraid, hold out any hopes upon that. The coastguards work is not very arduous when compared with that of men in the Fleet. The coastguard is at home with his wife and children and has a nice little house and garden, and all that has to be taken into consideration. I should be the last man to raise hopes that will not be realised.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I know that, but compared with the men in the Fleet, the coastguard is at home with his wife and family, and therefore, I cannot hold out any hopes. The hon. Member for Faversham raised the point that we recently agreed to give a free kit all round on entry, and that now we were going to take it out of the men by charging them higher prices for particular items which they have to buy. I am not aware of that. Let me explain the procedure. I do not want any misunderstanding upon it. I am very sorry indeed that the idea should get out that the £8,500 which it would cost us to give every man a free kit on entry, that 1149 that amount is going to be taken back by us with a profit upon the non-compulsory articles which they have got to buy. Nothing of the kind. It would be very unfortunate if such a thing should get about.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
There may be some increase of price as the result of new contracts entered into, but we do not propose to make a profit on those things that the men have got to buy. We sell them at bedrock prices at a very small percentage for administration and establishment. I do not say there is no increased price, but that is an increased price to the contractor. Do not let it be supposed, and it would be very unfortunate if it were to be supposed, that when we give a free kit on entry that we are going to take it back in an underhand way by making a profit on things a man is compelled to buy.
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
That is not what I said. I did not say that the Admiralty was going to make a profit. I read out two or three articles which showed there was going to be a rise of something like 30 per cent.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I do not say that the prices may not have to be revised; they may be as the result of the new contract; they vary from time to time, but it is not a question of our making a profit. The procedure will go on the same, selling the things at cost price with a very small percentage—I do not think it will be more than 5 per cent., but I do not commit myself to the figure—for the cost of administration and establishment.
With regard to the suggestion, which is not a new one, that the men should get a free kit from time to time, and that we should do for them what is done for the soldier and for the Marine, providing a kit free continually right through the Service; what we have done is this: Up to the present time certain allowances are made for kits in certain cases. Everyone in future will get a free kit on entry, and the cost of that is £8,500, but the Noble Lord says that the soldier and the Marine get free kits right through, and why not the sailor? The Noble Lord, I think, must remember that when comparison of that kind is made there are other considerations to be taken account of also. You must remember that the sailor does 1150 better than the soldier on non-substantive pay, and the proportion of promotions for the total number of able seamen, as compared with the total number of promotions for soldiers, is greater—that is, the promotion of seamen to petty officers and so on, as compared to promotions of soldiers to the rank of corporal, sergeant, and so on, is much greater in the Navy than in the Army. The Noble Lord said it would cost very little to transfer the payment for the upkeep of kits to the Crown. As a matter of fact, it would cost £370,000 a year. It is a matter for the House of Commons, but I am bound to say that I certainly cannot now recommend it. There are only two, other points. The hon. Member for Devonport mentioned the list of women that were kept in the yards in the hope or getting employment in the colour lofts. If the husbands of these women were sailors who died or were killed in the service of the Crown these poor women have a small pension, and their children of tender years have a small allowance. If a woman is the widow of a dockyard man who died in circumstances that come under the compensation scheme, she, too, would have consideration. Therefore, these poor women are not entirely penniless. What happens in cases of that sort is we open a list and, if we can find places in the colour loft, we give those poor women those places.
As to the Greenwich Hospital pensions, I explained in Committee that the annual sum of £100,900 provided since 1907–8 for Greenwich Hospital age pensions of 5d. and 9d. a day will this year be increased by a sum of £6,100, bringing the total amount provided for this purpose up to £107,000. That will enable us to give about 800 additional pensions to be granted as from 1st April, making 3,837 pensions in all this year at 5d. a day and 5,691 at 9d. a day. I must remind the House that every recipient is a naval life pensioner. The hon. Member for Devonport has mentioned the case of a man who had a substantial life pension.
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
I would like to add that the man I mentioned and who had a substantial pension was of very advanced years.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
If we had an old man getting £18 pension, clearly he ought to have the first chance as against the man' getting £50, and as long as I am concerned with the Admiralty he will have it. We have got this money. We take the 1151 oldest men, the men with the lowest life pensions, and men in the most necessitous circumstances, and deal with them until the money is gone. With regard to clerks and assistant clerks, I am afraid I have nothing to add to the answer which I gave the other day.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I do not admit that, but if the hon. Member will put down a question, I will give him all the information at my disposal.
§ Mr. CHARLES BATHURST
I desire to put a question to the hon. Member for St. George's-in-the-East (Mr. Wedgwood Benn), as representing the Office of Works, in reference to the ventilation and heating of the premises in which we carry on our work. It is admitted on all sides that the heating and ventilation of this House are very much neglected. It will be possible during the four or five months' holiday we expect to enjoy this year to carry out the necessary alterations in order to make the conditions more tolerable for us to carry on our work. This is a grand opportunity which may not occur again for several years, if we have a succession of Autumn Sessions, and therefore I desire to ask the hon. Gentleman whether there is any prospect of anything being done during the coming autumn in order to improve these conditions. If the hon. Member is not sufficiently acquainted with the requirements, I would like to know if he will set up a Select Committee, which can sit and report before the end of this Session, upon the strength of whose Report the necessary alterations can be made. It is common knowledge that when the House begins to be artificially heated we suffer very great inconvenience. We live in a somewhat enervating atmosphere which affects our health, and as we sit or stand in this House, the upper part of our bodies, from our knees upwards, is in a state of considerable overheat, while a cold draught circulates along in the region of our legs, causing indispositions, if not illnesses of a most serious nature. It is not hard work that causes the death of Members of Parliament, but the villainous atmospheric conditions in which we are asked to carry on our work.
§ Mr. SWIFT MacNEILL
My hon. Friend has described the close imminence of 1152 death to anyone who sits in this House on account of the draughts. Let me ask another question. I know that the First Commissioner of Works is a peer, but at the same time, I hope the hon. Member will make an appeal to him that, at all events in the Library, our lives should be in a certain modified state of security. Although I am not accustomed to the palaces of the great, I ask that the carpets of the Library should not be threadbare, and there should not be such gaps in them as fit into our feet like a trap. Not long ago, I was running out of the Library to meet a gentleman. I rushed off, and I had just got to the door of the Library, when my foot was caught in a loose carpet, which is a regular trap for anyone. I fell to the ground, and I was thankful I was not killed, because my head came within an inch of the door upon which there is a considerable amount of brass fittings. I hope the hon. Member will be able to give me an answer that is original, and say that he is prepared to protect our lives from carpets, which are more like the tattered colours of an old regiment. Perhaps, if he cannot get us new carpets, he will get some substance to mend them.
§ Mr. BARNES
I wish to refer to the statement which has been made by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty. I have often raised the matter. The right hon. Gentleman made a statement in regard to which I do not want him to think that silence means consent. His statement is quite inadequate. I have raised the question of the shortage of officers many times, and I have often pointed out the cause. This shortage has been accentuated owing to the large and apparently unexpected increase in the Navy during the last few years. I gather that that shortage is going to be partly made up in two ways. You are going to draw from the Naval Reserve, and you intend to get a limited number from the public schools. In regard to the first method, I do not think you have the men to draw from, because the conditions of the Naval Reserve are so unsatisfactory that you cannot get officers into it. In regard to the public schools, I admit that to some extent that is a better arrangement, and you may fill up your vacancies in that way. I do not, however, think that that, is satisfactory, because you will get two classes of officers in the Navy, one class trained at Osborne and Dartmouth, and the other coming in at a later time in 1153 life. My limited knowledge convinces me that these two classes are not likely to work well together. I think the right hon. Gentleman ought to have redeemed the promise he made long ago in regard to making some general and comprehensive arrangement whereby he could have more men trained for positions in the Navy by lowering the fees so as to draw upon a larger number of the community.
I enter my protest once more against this system. Instead of taking a democratic method, which is the proper one, and the only one by which you are likely to get efficient and sufficient men, you are resorting to these temporary expedients and they will not get you out of your difficulty. At present, every officer trained for the Navy in the ordinary way at Osborne or Dartmouth enters at thirteen years of age, and £75 a year have to be paid in fees for tuition. You must add to that another £50 at the very least, and this means that every boy in order to be trained as an officer in the Navy has to pay about £125 a year for four years, and £50 a year for two years. Under this system, only the sons of those people who have got lots of money can become officers in the Navy. I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman has simply repeated this promise, which is the same promise which was made by his predecessor in office. Seven years ago, the predecessor of the right hon. Gentleman said the fees would be reduced, and a suggestion was made that the hat was to be sent round by the Navy to those people who were willing to pay the fees of boys whose parents were too poor to provide the money. That was a paltry suggestion, but even that was not done. We are not getting into the Navy the sons of shopkeepers, engineers, and other people in positions of responsibility, as we did in the days of Nelson, and absolutely nothing has been done during the last seven years to alter this state of things, except to talk about it. Absolutely nothing has been done to translate that talk into action. I rise simply now to say that it is about time something was done to translate it into action. I would suggest, pending that, he might adopt even some better suggestion for a temporary expedient than he has done and facilitate the promotion of those men who, in the lower ranks, have given the Navy the best years of their lives. He could get many men who, after spending ten or twelve years in a subordinate position, would be quite 1154 qualified to fulfil the position of lieutenant and give efficient service for years.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD BENN (Lord of the Treasury)
I am sorry my hon. Friend should have met with an accident owing to the defective state of the carpet in the Library. We will have it attended to at once. It has already been promised that a Select Committee should be appointed to inquire into the question of ventilation, and, although the Office of Works do not share all the views expressed by the hon. Member, steps are now being taken for the appointment of the Committee, and the names will shortly appear on the Order Paper in the usual way.