§ Mr. HOGGE
On the Adjournment Moton it is usual to take a large variety of subjects, and I have one which has been waiting to be raised for some time, but I can assure the House that I do not propose to stand for more than a few minutes between hon. Members and the 1329 discussion of a large number of other subjects. The points I want to put are concerned with certain grievances in our first Service, the Navy, which have been uppermost in the minds of the men for some time, and to which the First Lord of the Admiralty has not had an opportunity of replying consecutively and in detail. The first of these points is the question of extra pay to the leading seamen and the ratings below that rank. As my right hon. Friend (Dr. Macnamara) knows, there has been an effort by those ranks to secure same increase in their pay, owing to the rise in the cost of living, which is an all-round rise, and which in civil employment has been met by a war bonus. I want to know from my right hon. Friend whether the Admiralty are prepared to meet sympathetically this request of the ratings below leading seamen in the Navy for an increase in their pay to which they are entitled. The second point is a question which is known as deferred pay, and the comparison between men and officers with regard to it. The House will know that the sailor requires to serve twenty-two years before he is entitled to pension. If he dies before the twenty-two years are up he loses the pension, and his widow and children lose the pension. If he has been drawing his pension his widow and children or next of kin get nothing when he dies. If you compare the rating of the officers in the Navy yon will find that, in similar circumstances, the widow and children of the commissioned officers do get a pension, and the point I want to put is, what is the reason for the distinction between the rank and the file and the officers in the Navy. The man's pension is deferred pay. And if a man dies prior to the time when be is entitled to a pension, his widow ought to get one of two things, either a gratuity of the amount of the deferred pay or an annunity in proportion to the pension that the man would have got.
My third point is the question of the men serving in the Navy now who, if the War had not been in process, would have been in receipt of a pension. It takes twenty-two years to get a pension. Men who were recalled to the Navy on the outbreak of the War are in receipt of pension and pay. Men who were in the Navy and whoso twenty-two years have accrued since the outbreak of the War do not get any pension, but instead get a payment of 1s. 2d. a week. If you compare that, say, with the Metropolitan police in London 1330 whose time has expired and who are kept on detained pay because of the War, they are getting 10s. a week detained pay. I want to ask my right hon. Friend whether, in view of the fact that by this payment of 1s. 2d. a week the nation is saving at least £150,000 annually, which is really the pension right of these sailors and concerns 4,000 of them, he is not prepared to make some concession in that respect?
My fourth point deals with hospital stoppages. When a sailor goes into hospital at home, after the first thirty days, if he is earning less than 1s. 7d. a day, 10d. a day is stopped out of his pay unless he is in receipt of a health certificate. If he has been ninety-one days in hospital his pay stops altogether. The result is that his wife and dependents get no further separation allowance. Compare that with officers. No stoppage is made out of an officer's pay, and he gets a full year's leave with full pay in the same circumstances. My right hon. Friend wants to look into the question of hospital stoppages, and see whether he cannot make a concession on that point.
My fifth point is the question of promotion. I will divide that into three subheads in order that my right hon. Friend may deal with it more quickly. First, there is the question of promotion for the men. I am told that since the War broke out not a single petty officer and only seventeen warrant officers have been given commissioned rank for war service. I hope my right hon. Friend will not confuse that with the usual promotion which would come to these ranks. Surely, in view of what the Navy has done, there ought to be some explanation of these figures. Secondly, there is the question of writers, which was to some extent dealt with by question and answer today. In the accountants branch of the Navy no fewer than 1,200 commissions have been given to outsiders, whereas there are 300 writers with from seventeen to thirty years' service who are on the recommended list at the Admiralty who have received no promotion during the War. That requires some explanation, and I hope my right hon. Friend can furnish it. Thirdly, there is the question of the eligibility of men on the lower deck for interpreterships. There are a good many men on the lower deck who can speak many languages, but they are not eligible for promotion, which they ought to be during the period of the War, 1331 to such a post as that. It means a difference of from 1s. 6d. to 2s. 6d. a day in their pay, and I should be glad if my right hon. Friend could give some explanation with regard to that.
Lastly, there is the question of the rights that extend to the medal which is given for conspicuous gallantry. That comes next to the Victoria Cross as a medal of distinction. It is open to petty officers and seamen and non-commissioned officers and privates of the Royal Marines, but all men of any inferior rank if they get the medal are not eligible for the annuity which is attached to it. Supposing a leading seaman or a stoker wins the medal, although he receives less pay than any other rating, he is not entitled to draw this annuity. These are the six points which I have crowded into ten minutes, which keeps my compact with the House admirably. My right hon. Friend has described himself as one of the little fathers of the Navy. I hope he is going to substantiate that assertion by making some concession with regard to these men. I do not think any of us can express in words what we are indebted to the Navy for in this War. We call it the silent Navy, but the men who man it have not very much opportunity of voicing their grievances, and they certainly have not very many opportunities in this House. I have put six of the grievances to-day in the hope that, by bringing them in that kind of consecutive order before my right hon. Friend, he can do something which will be of interest to these very brave men who man. our ships in every part of the world.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the ADMIRALTY (Dr. Macnamara)
My hon. Friend could not be better employed than in showing solicitude for the well-being of the Fleet and the men of the lower deck, and securing that their conditions of service are fair. I would reply to his six points with this simple preface, that in one or two particulars I do not think he has got his facts quite correctly. The pay of the lower deck was increased in December, 1912, by £342,000 a year on the then numbers, and there was an addition of £8,500 a year on the then numbers in respect of grants for certain articles of kit. As regards the cost of food, while that affects the wives and children it does not affect the men serving, because their rations are 1332 issued free, and as regards the increased cost of clothing, replacement of kit, and so on, we have been very careful by no means to charge proportionately to the increased cost of purchase of clothing for replacement of kit outside. As a matter of fact, quite a number of the articles which the man has to replace out of his pay were furnished to him at considerably less than cost price. Certainly you could not get anything like the value outside. His boots, jersey, serge jumper, serge trousers socks, and flannel vest are all supplied by us at less than cost price throughout, and I think that is quite right. I do not know that I can undertake to meet my hon. Friend's request for additional pay. The men of the Fleet are able to send home to their wives, children, and other relatives, month by month, £750,000 out of their pay. The weekly allotment, on the average, comes to about 12s. 6d. a week all in all. I mention that as a tribute to their faithfulness to those for whom they are responsible—a tribute which I am always only too glad to pay—and not in any sense as suggesting that because they can do that they do not want any more pay.
As regards widows of petty officers and men as compared with widows of officers, my hon. Friend made the suggestion that a pension is deferred pay. I really do not think that is accurate. Pension and pay are not fixed in relation to each other. I do not think it is at all accurate to speak of pensions as deferred pay; and it is the established rule in the Army and Navy that there is no pension to widows of non-commissioned officers and men. Under the new pension warrant disability pensions are granted, and a widow will get half the pension if it was at least 10s. a week. That principle is now introduced for the first time, but there is no pension for the widow of a service pensioner of non-commissioned rank. That is a common feature of both Army and the Navy, and my hon. Friend is not quite correct in saying there is a pension for the widow of a commissioned officer. Neither the widow nor the children of a junior commissioned officer, that is a sub-lieutenant or assistant paymaster with less than four year's service, gets a pension. I am glad to welcome my hon. Friend in the capacity of an advocate of the Navy, but it is very desirable that we should be quite accurate.
As regards deferred pensions, no man has become entitled to a long service 1333 pension since August, 1914. If he became time-expired since the beginning of the War his services are retained under the Royal Proclamation of 3rd August, 1914, which was made in pursuance of the Naval Discipline Act, 1853. There are roughly in our service about 3,000 of them who, but for the War, would now be discharged and enjoying pensions. They have been retained during the period of the War, and for the time being they will not draw their pensions. They will at the close of hostilities, and even non-commissioned officers of Marines, having earned their maximum pension, will now get an addition to their pension in respect of length of service where they have reached the close of their service but it has been extended for the War. In addition to that they get 2d. a day detained pay, and at the end of their service they get a further addition. My hon. Friend said it was unfair to keep these men and hold up the pension they otherwise would have received. Just look at the two sides of it. Supposing a man has earned his pension and got his discharge before the War. He and his wife would receive a pension, which would be less than the pay, and that is all they would receive. Take the case of a man who is retained for service after his time is expired. He will not get his pension now. He will get it at the close of the War, if he lives, and will get an extension in respect of length of service. But what is he getting in the meantime] He is getting his pay, which is more than his pension; he is getting detained pay, an extra 2d. a day. He is allowed to count his additional service for increased pension. His wife is getting her separation allowance, and he is a great deal better off than if discharged to pension.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
My hon. Friend desires that the men whose service is extended should be put in exactly the same position as the men who have been discharged. The answer is that the men who have been discharged on pension have started life in a new way and their arrangements are interfered with. The other man has not got this disturbance. He continues in the position in which he has been for twenty-one or twenty-two years. He gets his pay, with 2d. a day extra and a separation allowance for 1334 his wife and children, and that is a greater consideration, obviously for the moment, than pension alone. For what it is worth that is the answer.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I put it forward as a sound, economic argument, and I am sorry that it does not appeal to the hon. Member. My hon. Friend referred to hospital stoppages, but he was not quite correct in what he said. In the case of a sailor who was wounded in action obviously there is no hospital stoppage. It would be most unjust if there wore. Where the disease is attributable to service which leads to invaliding and the award of disability pension, there is no hospital stoppage. Where a man is injured in an immediate act of duty, or there is insanity due to service, or where the disability is due to immersion, shock, and so on, there is no hospital stoppage. When we come to ordinary sickness, which is not attributable to service, then for thirty days there is no stoppage, and during a subsequent period up to ninety-one days, when pay ceases, he gets 4d. to 10d. a day, according to his rating, with treatment. As regards Marines serving afloat it is exactly the same as for sailors, only that the stoppage is 7d. a day instead of from 4d. to 10d. That is the case with regard to hospital stoppages. The hospital stoppages for 1915–16 amounted to £8,300. It is not a very big figure, but it does not stand by itself. The War Office would be concerned if the principle were extended, and I cannot undertake to wipe out this amount, small as it is, bearing in mind the application of the principle over the larger field of the Army.
My hon. Friend referred to promotions from the lower deck. Naturally I was very glad to find that he is interested in that, as we all are. He talked about not a single petty officer and only seventeen warrant officers being promoted to commissioned rank for war service. I think that that statement originated in the earlier part of an answer which Lord Lytton made to Lord Beresford in the House of Lords on the 18th of October, 1916. Lord Beresford said:My Lords, I beg to ask His Majesty's Government how many warrant officers, petty officers and non-commissioned officers and men of the Royal Navy and the Royal Marine Forces have been promoted to commissions for meritorious service in the Jutland and other naval actions during the present War?1335 This is the answer of the Civil Lord of the Admiralty:My Lords, the figures for which the Noble and gallant Lord asks in his question are as follows: seven-teen commissioned warrant officers of the Navy and two warrant officers of the Royal Murines have been promoted to commissioned rank for services in action and other meritorious war service.That is where the statement comes from, but we must not stop at that, because that is nothing like the full story. Indeed, Lord Lytton, in his answer, went on to state all the promotions which have been made—and I shall refer to these myself—but at the end Lord Beresford made this statement—and my hon. Friend must not have read the whole story.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
That makes it worse still. Lord Beresford said at the end:I thank the Noble Earl for his reply, and it is very satisfactory to perceive from what he said that the lower deck had been recognised and are getting those commissions which have been so long their due.My hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh will not pretend to be more solicitous for fair play for the lower deck than Lord Beresford. Here are the facts, and I think that the House will be interested to hear them. Since the War broke out the following promotions from commissioned warrant rank, warrant rank, and from petty officers have been made: From commissioned warrant rank, warrant rank, and petty officers to lieu tenants for long service, seventy-two; for specially good service, during the War, seven: for specific gallantry in action, five. That is eighty-four lieutenants. To engineer-lieutenants for long service, twenty-six; specially good service during the War, twenty-one; specific gallantry in action, one. That is fifty-four to be added to the eighty-four. To carpenter-lieutenants for long service, twenty-two; for specially good service during the War, one. That is twenty-three. And 175 mates have been promoted and eighty-four mates E. have been promoted from warrant rank and from petty officers since the War began. The relative rank is sub-lieutenant, their appointments "acting" for one year, when they are confirmed. There are at present fifty-one lieutenants promoted from mate and seventy acting engineer-lieutenants promoted from mate E., all of whom have reached the rank of lieutenant during the War, and of the 175 mates promoted, 1336 as I have already stated, forty-four were petty officers before promotion. All these men earned their promotion during the War. I think that Lord Beresford, genuine and solicitous friend of the lower deck as he is, was quite entitled to say what he did on the 18th of October last.
I now come to the question of the writers, which has been the subject of a number of questions in this House by my hon. Friend the Member for Devon-port (Sir C. Kinloch-Cooke), my hon. Friend the Member for Chatham (Mr. Holder), my hon. Friend the Member for North Kerry, and my hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge) and others. I may shortly say what has been done recently. In the first place, the writer is sharing in the 1912 increase of wages to the extent of £4,630 per annum. We have already created additional warrant writers. Thirty-seven have been added. We have more recently created the rank of commissioned warrant writer and five commissioned writers have been made, three on 1st October, 1915, and two on 1st April, 1916. The pay of the warrant writer now commences at 7s. 6d. as against 7s. before, and the commissioned warrant writer commences at 11s, a day as against the former maximum of 10s. for warrant writers. My hon. Friend complains that we brought in for the purposes of the War civilians, and that we gave them commissioned rank as assistant paymasters, and selected bank clerks, accountants, and so on. But we could not get them from the writers, and we could not dislocate the work of the writers. They have been secured for the purposes of the War during the continuance of hostilities, and we have given temporary commissions to these young bank clerks and accountants. They have proved very useful. It is true that we have taken 1,002 of them, but all except seventy of those are temporary, and we have taken 100 into the R.N.V.R. assistant paymasters. They are all temporary. Putting aside the argument as to dislocating the work of the writers, it would not be possible to meet the needs, of the Fleet by way of assistant paymasterships from our writers. But even if it was, we should have been in this position: we should have had to give them acting commissioned rank, and then when the War had finished and things went back to the normal, those men would have to go back from 1337 commissioned rank to ordinary noncommissioned rank. That would be a most undesirable proceeding.
But I was very glad indeed to be able to announce to-day, in answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Chatham and my hon. Friend the Member for North Kerry (Mr. Flavin), that we propose to grant at once five commissions as assistant paymaster in the Royal Navy, with relative rank of lieutenant—two stripes—to the writer class, and then one each year until a total of ten is reached. That opens up the commissioned ranks to them. We also propose to grant three commissions at once, as assistant paymaster in the Royal Navy, to ships' stewards with the relative rank of lieutenant with two stripes, and one each year until the total of six is reached. That is a step which I am quite sure will be greatly appreciated by the writer class and the ship's stewards class. On the question of interpreters, my hon. Friend is wrong again. He says that in the case of men who know languages, why not use them as interpreters, and give them extra pay. We have made inquiries about that and I think that in the case of about fifty men who have not passed examinations, but who have a knowledge of some foreign languages, they are acting as interpreters and getting additional duty pay at the rate of a shilling a day. because they are able to act as interpreters. That is the same rate as is paid to an officer acting as an interpreter who has not passed an examination.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
They would not get less, whatever their rank, for the work they do. At any rate, it is not correct to say that there is not some little addition to the men's pay.
§ Mr. HOGGE
I admit that my right hon. Friend is right when he says that these fifty men are being used as interpreters, but he is unfair to me in regard to what I said. I said that those men ought to be eligible for interpreterships, which would enable them to undergo certain training, and that they would get from £25. to £200, and in pay from 1s. 6d. to 2s. 6d. a day.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I do not think they can get that until they have passed the examination. They cannot get the 2s. 6d. a day, the full pay, unless they have a certificate to satisfy the authorities that they 1338 have undergone the examination. There is really no desire to draw a distinction between them. I appreciate, of course, my hon. Friend's interest in this matter, and I have replied to the points he has raised. In regard to the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal, this was awarded by Order in Council on the 7th July, 1874, to petty officers and seamen of the Royal Navy and non-commissioned officers and privates of the Royal Marines; and it was recommended that:In the case of chief and first-class petty officers of Your Majesty's Navy, and sergeants of Tour Majesty's Corps of Royal Marines, an annuity (not exceeding £20 to each) may be awarded with such medal at our discretion, and provided that the amount authorised from time to time for such awards by the Lords Commissioners of Your Majesty's Treasury is not exceeded.The amount fixed at that time was £300 a year, and, in 1895, the Treasury agreed to £400 a year as the limit. In March, 1016, the Treasury agreed to £800, but with the proviso that on the cessation of awards in respect of the present War every alternate annuity, as it lapses, shall count as a reduction in the total amount, until the total amount payable in annuity is reduced to the former amount of £400 a year. The restriction of the award of the annuity to petty officers of the Royal Navy and to sergeants in the Royal Marines seems probably to have been based on the conditions for the Army Meritorious Service Medal, which "may be awarded to a soldier above the rank of corporal." This modal is given to a man who has been selected to receive an annuity for meritorious service, the amount of such annuity not to exceed £20 within a limit of £7,500 a year. The restriction of the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal annuity to the higher ranks appears at any rate to have followed Army precedent, but it is now looked upon as corresponding rather to the Distinguished Conduct Medal. To bring it into line with that distinction an Order in Council was obtained in 1903 for the payment of a gratuity of £20 to seamen and Marines holding the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal, unaccompanied by an annuity, on discharge or promotion to a commission. The gratuity has been invariably awarded and would always be awarded, in spite of any limit set up before the War. But in the Army the possession of the Distinguished Conduct Medal does not carry with it an annuity. The holder receives a gratuity—£20—only if given a commission, or on discharge to Reserve, or discharge without pension. The holder 1339 of the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal is therefore in a better position, and if he is a petty officer, or a sergeant in the Marines, he enjoys the benefit of the old Older in Council. He can, if the amount authorised is not exceeded, immediately be awarded an annuity not exceeding £20, and, if of lower rating, he becomes eligible for a similar annuity on becoming petty officer or sergeant. As regards giving the annuity to all ranks, my hon. Friend will see that it is a matter that affects not only the Admiralty, but two other Departments—the War Office and the Treasury.
§ Colonel YATE
On what grounds does the right hon. Gentleman say the service pension is not deferred pay?
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I have already explained that pensions are fixed without regard to pay. Neither pay nor pension is fixed one with regard to the other.