HC Deb 23 February 1915 vol 70 cc220-3

Resolution reported,

1."That 250,000 officers, seamen, and boys, Coastguard, and Royal Marines be employed for the Sea and Coastguard Services for the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1916."

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."

Colonel YATE

I wish to express my regret that the Secretary for the Admiralty has not been able to give us any information regarding the intention of the Admiralty in furtherance of the construction of the proposed Forth and Clyde Ship Canal—


This is a Motion that 250,000 officers, seamen, and boys be employed for the year ending the 31st day of March, 1916. The point which the hon. and gallant Member desires to raise is not relevant to that.

Colonel YATE

The point was raised on a former occasion when I asked a question to which the right hon. Gentleman was not able to give an answer, and I had hoped he would give me one now.


The hon. Member cannot raise the point now. This is a different Motion.


If the point I desire to raise is in order, it will take but a very short time to explain it. A question was addressed to the Secretary of the Admiralty the other day with regard to the methods of recruiting for the Navy, and I suggested that in Edinburgh—which is now the heart of naval activity and enterprise—the recruiting station is situated in a street which is not accessible to the general public, and where the advantages of joining the Navy cannot be adequately displayed to the public. I am perfectly certain, in view of the fact that there is great activity in the city, it would pay the Admiralty to make further efforts to advertise the Navy in a better manner. It has been suggested that Princes Street would be a better place for the recruiting office, and I hope the Government will be able to fall in with the local desires in that respect.


I want to refer to a matter also affecting recruiting for the Navy, and that is the uncertainty that exists in the minds of some men whether their life policies will carry, without any extra premium, when they join the Regular Forces. I think this opportunity should be taken by the Admiralty to point out the concession made under that head. I find in an answer which the Secretary to the Admiralty gave to the hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Peto) he seemed to be under the impression that there had not been as many concessions on this point as is really the case. I should like to read to the House a short letter which was sent to the right hon. Gentleman on this point on the 5th October. It is as follows:—


High Holborn, W.C.,

October 5th, 1914.

Dear Sir,—Your letter of the 2nd instant addressed to the Secretary of the Pearl Assurance Company regarding the case of Corporal C. C. Morgan has been handed to me.

In reply to your letter generally I should like to say that at the meeting of this Association (of which you will observe the Pearl Assurance Company are members) held on the 16th ultimo, as to the result of a report submitted by the actuaries of several of the offices in the Association, who had been giving the subject their consideration for the previous two or three weeks, it was decided that for the present all claims—ordinary and industrial—in respect of the Regular Forces be honoured in full without any abatement or without any surcharge in respect of an extra premium; and further, that no extra premium be imposed or any abatement made in the sum assured in respect of Territorials, new levies, etc., for this War only. These recommendations apply only to policies effected up to and including the 4th August, 1914. With regard to new contracts, the tariffs recommended by the Life Offices Association were adopted.

I have no doubt you will be interested to learn the foregoing decision of this Association, which I trust will afford you considerable pleasure and satisfaction.

Yours truly,

F. D. BOWLES, F.S., Hon. Sec."

That letter was sent to the Admiralty as well as to the War Office. It elicited only a formal acknowledgment from the Admiralty. I am afraid they did not give that attention to it which the document deserved, and which the War Office gave to it. I do not know whether I am in order in referring to the answer from the War Office—I am only doing it by way of contrast—but the War Office concluded their acknowledgment by saying:— The Council propose to make known this decision to the Army generally, and are sure that it will be received with the greatest satisfaction by all concerned I suggest that the Admiralty might have taken the same course. I do not know that they have not, and I should like some assurance from the Secretary to the Admiralty, if he takes the same favourable view, that pains will be taken to circulate the information among the men generally.

6.0 P.M.


With regard to the point raised by the hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge) that the recruiting station at Edinburgh is not in a suitable place, I have to say that the present office has been used for a good many years for the purposes of recruiting, and we are quite satisfied with the recruiting which has been carried on. We are of opinion, if we desire to spend more money in this matter, our best policy would be to devote it to newspaper advertisements and posters rather than paying increased rental. With regard to the point raised by the hon. Member for Pontefract, I am familiar with the facts, as I was a party, with officials from the War Office, to the negotiations which ultimately led to these concessions. I have paid, I hope, a tribute to the assurance companies for what they have done. When I replied to my hon. Friend the other day there was an unexplored part of the matter still remaining to be dealt with. It was a question whether something could not also be done for the mercantile marine. That point had been put to me by the hon.

Member for Devizes, and it had not been taken up in the communications between the companies and ourselves. I thought it was a point which we might consider, and I still think so. But I am very mindful of what the assurance companies have done, and if the hon. Member thinks that the tribute I have paid to them is not sufficient, I hope he will now accept my assurance that we fully appreciate the concession.

Question put, and agreed to.

Resolution, reported,

2. "That a sum, not exceeding £1,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Expense of Wages, etc., to Officers, Seamen, and Boys, Coastguard, and Royal Marines, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1916."

Resolution agreed to.