§ 36. Mr. PETO
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether any further progress has been made in respect to the adoption of a standard official uniform for the captains and officers of the merchant service; and whether, before any details are decided upon, these captains and officers, as the persons principally concerned, will be given the opportunity of due representation?
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
The Admiralty have been in communication with a number of the principal shipping companies, and certain general conclusions arrived at are under their final consideration. The question has turned not so much upon the adoption of a standard official uniform for officers of the mercantile marine as upon the elimination of characteristics likely to cause confusion between the uniform work in the merchant service and the Royal Navy. As regards the last part of the question, if the officers of the mercantile marine desire to submit representations upon the matter, of course due consideration will be given to the same.
§ Mr. PETO
Has the right hon. Gentleman taken any steps to ascertain the views of the leading representative officers in the merchant service.; and, in considering the question of a uniform, has he borne in mind the desirability of arranging for a uniform which will be a pride to wear and not a disgrace?
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
The Admiralty are prepared to receive representations. I have said that if the officers of the mercantile marine desire to submit representations upon the matter, of course due consideration will be given to the same.
§ 37. Mr. BUTCHER
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether, in view of the fact that silver War badges are being granted to those who have served in His Majesty's naval forces since 4th August, 1914, and whose service has been terminated on account of wounds or on account of physical infirmity for which they are not themselves directly responsible, there is any similar provision for officers and others of the merchant service who may be permanently incapacitated from following their employment owing to wounds or injury sustained in engagements with the enemy or other causes directly attributable to the War; and, if not, whether steps will now be taken to issue a silver or other badge in cases of this kind?
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
Officers and men of the mercantile marine serving under special engagements in His Majesty's commissioned ships are eligible for the award of these badges. As regards officers and men of the mercantile marine other than the above the matter falls to be dealt with by the Board of Trade.
§ 41. Mr. PETO
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether distress exists amongst the wives and families in this country of our merchant captains, officers, and seamen interned in Germany and Turkey; whether, in view of the profits which continue to be made by shipowners and to the fact that the purchasing power of a sovereign is only equivalent to 12s. comparative with the economic position before the War, he will take steps to see that the Government scheme providing for a weekly allowance, £1 being the maximum, which is granted to the dependants of the interned captains, officers, and 724 seamen is substantially increased; and whether he will consider the desirability of doing this by making a small increase in the present premiums on the insurance of merchant ships under the Government scheme?
As I have on previous occasions explained to the hon. Gentleman, the allowance to which he refers is an entirely gratuitous one, and I regret that I cannot undertake to increase the amount of it.