Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a, Supplementary sum, not exceeding £60,000,000, be granted to His Majesty, on Account, for defraying the Charges for Navy Services, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st clay of March, 1920.
§ 4.0 p.m.
§ The FIRST LORD of the ADMIRALTY (Mr. Long)
In asking the Committee to grant a Vote on account of £60,000,000, I regret very much that it has not been practicable to adopt a course which I had hoped might have been adopted and to submit the Estimates in full detail. The real truth is that the figures we present to Parliament arc not the result of the policy of the Government of the day for the future, but; on this occasion are for the clearing up of war expenditure, and, having regard to all that has been going on and to our present position, it has been found impossible to present the Estimates in their final form. Therefore, all that we can do is to ask for a Vote on Account and to tell the House that it is the intention of the Government later on, I hope in the early autumn, to present detail Estimates which will give full opportunity for discussion of the policy of the Government, the expenditure, and detail questions. The Estimates for 1919–20 are connected with war expenditure and with the aftermath of war far more than they are with the ordinary maintenance of the Navy. For instance, out of the total money which we have to ask Parliament to vote no less a sum than £75,000,000 represents expenditure incurred in connection with the War over commitments which have not matured but which we have to meet, and that, of course, is expenditure over which we have no control. It is, I think, interest on mortgage which has to be paid, and we cannot lessen it. We have only got to meet it and explain what it means. It is, however, expenditure which we hope will never recur, and it is money which has been spent for the achievement of a great 1598 object, in the winning of a great victory, and in securing the peace which I hope we are now going to enjoy.
The Committee, of course, will wish to know what is the position in regard to. the demobilisation of officers and men and also what is the position in regard to ships and construction. The demobilisation of the Navy has gone on without any avoidable delay. At the date of the Armistice the strength was about 407,000; the strength to-day is about 180,000. Demobilisation is going on actually every day. and we have every confidence that by the end of August at least 95 per cent, of the hostilities-only men will have been demobilised. At the date of the Armistice there were under order 302 warships and 806 auxiliaries. There arc now being completed 84 warships and 110 auxiliaries. They are ships which in the opinion of the naval advisers of the Admiralty are either essential in order to replace old ships to help to meet the ravages of the War or ships which were so far advanced in their construction that it would have been very bad economy to have scrapped them. I may mention—I think I have told the House this before in answer to a question—that among the ships which were under order and which were cancelled were the three battle cruisers which were laid down—the "Anson," the "Howe," and the "Rodney."
§ Mr. LONG
The actual number of officers and men pre-war was 151,000. If anyone desires to criticise the Government on the ground that demobilisation has been too slow or that our expenditure is still too heavy, he should remember, after all, the actual facts, upon which we have every reason to congratulate ourselves, namely, that the War did not come to an end gradually by a process of attrition. It will be remembered that when the War was going on there were many who foretold that it would not end suddenly in our full strength, but would come by a process of attrition when the contending forces were being gradually worn out, and when resources in men, money, and material were gradually getting less and less. So 'far as this country, at all events, is con-corned when the War came to an end, as it did, quite suddenly, it found us at the very maximum of our output. Everything was 1599 being produced to the fullest possible extent; every workshop, every factory, every shipyard, everything had reached the highest pitch of perfection, and all of a sudden, as with a clean cut of the knife, there came an end of it all. The Commits tee will realise that it is impossible, there-lore, to effect the same reduction in these circumstances that could have been effected if things had been gradually dwindling down, getting smaller and smaller, and you had had a diminished output to deal with instead of the maximum output.
It is only fair to say that a comparison between the present and the pre-war time for our purposes here is really misleading. The real comparison that we ought to make is between the expenditure during the War and that which we should have been spending after the War had it still been going on and that which we are spending now. We are now really cleaning up the expenditure which remained when the War happily came to an end. There are, of course, incidental expenses which we have to incur in connection with operations. We have not been able to deal with the Navy as if we had Peace. The Navy has had to play a considerable part in many quarters, and for the present it is idle to expect that we can treat our naval expenditure as if war were a thing entirely forgotten, and if we were back in the old halcyon days of peace when we were fearing war but had not yet been called upon to find the expenditure for war. With the exception of two cruisers upon which for the present work has been stopped, the work being done at our dockyards is entirely on the repair of ships. Of course, the Committee will realise that during the War it was impossible to keep all the repair work up-to-date or to do a good deal of it as thoroughly and efficiently as we can now. Our dockyards are engaged entirely in repairing all our warships and in the reconditioning of the ships which were commandeered or hired and used for war purposes. Practically, new construction does not exist. We are not building new ships under a new programme; we are completing those ships which were so far advanced that they could not be stopped, and which were recommended by our naval advisers as being essential for the maintenance of the Navy in future.
§ Mr. LONG
I have net he particulars here, but they can easily be got. I am very glad to say that an additional sum for which we have to ask this year is in respect of the increased pay of officers and men. This increase has been very long delayed, and I rejoice that it has fallen to the lot of the present Board of Admiralty to be able to do this act of justice to officers and men who have so abundantly and so gloriously earned it. I know that in some; quarters there are those who ask for more and say that this is not enough. I would point out to them a fact which I think they ought in fairness to bear in mind, namely, that the additional pay which we ask Parliament to grant amounts this year to the very large sum of £10,000,000 for the permanent Navy. That shows that the recommendations which we have made to Parliament have not been very small in character, and I think I may say from representations which have reached me from very many reliable quarters that, generally speaking, the increases on pay for officers and men which the Admiralty have recommended, and which Parliament has accepted with great willingness, may be regarded as just and satisfactory.
These increases arc the result of inquiries made by two Committees—one presided over by Admiral Jerram and the other by Admiral Halsey. I should like to take this opportunity of expressing the gratitude of the Board of Admiralty, and I hope I may say of this House and of the country also, to those, two gallant admirals and their colleagues on the respective Committees for the most admirable work which they did. There are in the House a certain number of old sailors who know something, although not everything, of the extraordinary complications of our naval pay system. I do not believe even naval officers themselves, who have not examined this question carefully, can realise the immense burden of work thrown on these two Committees in investigating the existing condition of things in order to produce a Report which would bear examination and cover the whole ground. What they set themselves to do, and what we have set ourselves to do in the recommendations which we have made to Parliament, has been to see that there is a real increase given to all grades, and that the increase shall be so divided and so arranged as to offer inducements to get on, so that as they do get on the men will have a better reward for their labours, and 1601 better prospects both as regards retired pay and pension. I hope we have been able by the aid of these Committees to deal in a satisfactory way with the old troublesome and vexed question of the half-pay system.
There are three criticisms on which I wish to say a few words. One is that in the recommendations made to us it was suggested that there should be back pay, and that the new pay should be dated back to the 1st October. We have been criticised because we altered the 1st October to the 1st February. I have only a brief reply to make to that. There is no special merit in the 1st October. There is no reason why it should not have been the 1st January, or working by mere justice it might have gone back to any period you like as representing some recognition of the fact that the Navy has boon labouring under this injustice so long. But I think if the Committee, whether they be naval representatives or not, will look at this question quite dispassionately they will come to the conclusion that the Board of Admiralty and the Cabinet arrived at a very fair and reasonable compromise when they decided that the increased pay should be dated back to the 1st February, so that officers and men who now get it for the first time will receive what is after all a considerable sum as a sort of recognition by Parliament and by the country of the fact that this pay question ought to have been settled some time ago, and, as it was not, we make this acknowledgment of our indebtedness to them.
I would beg the Committee to remember this. We are always being criticised for our expenditure, yet whenever our unwillingness to spend special sums annoys a particular section of this House, the members of that section forget the lectures on extravagance which they have given us in the past, and because we do not think it right in the particular instance to concede their claims it does not please them. They think they are justified in claiming to be the only exception to the general rule. It is a wonderful thing to notice how many special exceptions there are of this kind. Every body of Members which has a particular cause to press in Parliament thinks that theirs is a special case, and that the circumstances are totally different. But the Chancellor of the Exchequer has to consider all these questions together, and I know from conversations I have had with him in connection with this particular proposal that each body of Members, and that 1602 representatives of outside bodies as well, who have waited upon him n order to press their claims upon him, have been able to show to their own complete satisfaction that their case differs so entirely from any other case, that it is such a particularly hard and exceptional case, therefore, although economies in other directions may be justified, the right hon. Gentleman is not justified in economising in their particular direction. That is our universal experience, and I think that if my hon. Friends, however anxious they may be to see these persons treated with the greatest liberality, will look at the matter fairly and squarely, they will agree that on the whole the change made in the pay of officers and men has been sonorous. That is, I know, the opinion of the great majority of the officers and men of the Royal Navy to-day. I say I know it, because representations have reached me, unsought by me and not asked for by me, from those who can speak for various ranks and grades in the Navy to this effect. Therefore I hope that those who would like to see the pay antedated from the 1st October rather than from the 1st February will remember that these claims, however strong they are, have to be considered in conjunction with many other claims, and all we can try to do is what we have tried to do in this case—to secure general fairness all round.
There are other cases, those of the old pensioners and of the widows and orphans. As far as these two cases go nobody disputes the hardness of them. There is no dispute as to the hardship which many of those coming under these two categories, because they are not included in the advances, are called upon to suffer. But the Committee will realise that these two cases are not confined in any way to the Navy. They are of general application to the whole public service, and my answer in advance to our critics, supposing they should raise this question in the course of this Debate, is that we have been unable, and I think it is a reasonable view to take, to demand, or insist, supposing we had the power, that the Navy in this respect should be treated as separate and distinct from the other Services.
So much for our expenditure. As I have said it is impossible to-day to make a forecast for the future. We must wait until we know a little more, but I do hope that in the course of a few months, we shall be in a position to put our proposals in a 1603 definite form, and when the Estimates are presented in the Autumn we shall be able to deal with the whole subject. We have, however, been able to make some progress with a portion of the work which lies before us, in addition to the pay question, which I hope and believe has been satisfactorily dealt with. We have had to rearrange our various naval commands, and to try to make some progress with a question which is of vital importance. This War has taught, both on land and sea, one little lesson. I imagine it is a mere truism to say it, but in this War there have been more lessons learned and more revelations made as to modes of warfare than any other War has ever produced, and it is our business and our duty to see that the lessons which have been learned in this War are not lost or forgotten. Anybody who has followed naval affairs very closely during the last ten or fifteen years knows that one of the pressing questions connected with naval administration has been the creation of an efficient and competent staff—called the War Staff—although we prefer at the Admiralty to call it the Naval Staff. Two things are, I venture to say, essential. One is that the staff should be competent, and should have full opportunity and a sufficiency of men to study all problems which present themselves from time to time, and to make as certain as man can make that the Navy of this country is kept in front and has all the advantages which science and inventions may put at its disposal. It is also essential that the staff side of the Admiralty should be in very close connection and touch with the administrative side, so that there may be community of knowledge as -to what is going on and that the whole Board of Admiralty may have the benefit of the work being done by the staff and be able to keep themselves thoroughly abreast of the times.
The foundations of the Naval Staff were laid when my right hon. Friend the present Minister for War (Mr. Churchill) was First Lord of the Admiralty, and on those foundations gradually the staff has been and will continue to be built up. When the War came upon us the staff at the Admiralty was, as far as I am able to ascertain, not able to do all that was demanded of it if we were to avoid some of the troubles which in fact did overtake us. That is one of the lessons we have learnt and by which I hope we shall profit. 1604 When I came to the Board of Admiralty the other day, the First Sea Lord was-Chief of the Naval Staff, and there were three officers under him, the Deputy-Chief of the Naval Staff (Admiral Sir S. Fremantle), the Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff (Admiral Sir Alexander Duff), and Admiral Hope, the Assistant First Sea Lord. Now the war is over the-Assistant First Sea Lord is no longer required. But at all events for the present, whatever we may find to be necessary when we have had a year's experience, I do not think we can hope to deal with the staff problem without two-high officers in the Admiralty in the position of the two officers I have referred to, the Deputy and the Assistant Chief of the-Naval Staff. We owe a great debt to these distinguished Admirals for the work they did during the War in coping as they did with problems, many of them brand new ones, which arose from time to time, and enabling us to deal successfully with our enemies. Admiral Fremantle is now in command of the Second Battle-Squadron. Admiral Duff has got other China Command, and Admiral Hope, the Assistant First Sea Lord. has now command of the Fleet. In their place we are to have the advantage and the assistance of Sir Frederick Brock, who was Chief of the Staff of Sir David Beatty, and Admiral Fergusson. This is as far as we have got at present in the transition of this Naval Staff. Our desire is that there should be there a competent body of men, whose business it will be to be always studying these great war problems and to be. able to keep the Admiralty abreast of all that is going on in the world; and in addition to that we are profoundly anxious that we shall take advantage also of the wonderful inventions of the War. To a very great extent it seems, further, that in future we shall learn by our ears that which we used to rely upon our eyes to see Inventions of that kind are, of course, of the utmost importance, and we are profoundly anxious that, so far as we are able, we should continue, through the Science Branch, to take advantage of what we know and keep up this scientific development.
I recognise fully that it is the business of the Board of Admiralty, as of every other Government Department, to do everything in its power to avoid the unnecessary expenditure of money. It is sometimes said that heads of Departments seem to forget that there is any other 1605 Department except their own, and are reckless in regard to the expenditure of money. There is one very simple fact in connection with this which always seems to be forgotten, and which I should have thought would be patent to everyone, and that is that heads of Departments, whether they be good, bad, or indifferent, are always taxable, and I am sure in these days every individual has sufficient reminders of our financial position himself to make it very unlikely that he would be reckness if he has the control of any branch of public expenditure. The Board of Admiralty never has out of its mind this need for the most rigorous economy. I know it is sometimes thought that naval members of the Board do not share these views, that they are always driving you on to expenditure and that it is always a civil member, particularly my right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary, who is constantly held up by those who do not know him or his work as being the one person who is trying to cut things down. If anyone could be in a cupboard in which he could hear what is going on in the board room of the Admiralty when our discussions are in progress, I am quite certain he would be unable to discover, by the remarks made, who were civilians and who were Naval Lords on this question of economy. The Naval Lords are just as anxious to see economies effected as we are. Through all these preparations and statements which have to be made the need for avoiding anything that is avoidable has never been lost eight of. I regard either to the existence of a competent staff or to the development of scientific discoveries and inventions it would be the very worst economy not to spend such money as is necessary if they are I be efficiently and properly carried through. If we are really to take advantage of invention we must not hesitate to spend such money as is necessary, and when it comes to invention and scientific development it is obvious that money must not only be spent but it may easily result in the end in immense saving rather than additional expense. In addition to what we have done in connection with the Staff, we have appointed a Committee under Rear-Admiral Phillimore, to whom we have referred certain questions connected with the experiences of the War, and it is sitting constantly at the Admiralty, and I hope from its investigations we shall have very helpful and very valuable recommendations.
§ Captain WEDGWOOD BENN
Could the right hon. Gentleman find an opportunity to speak about the construction of airships and the transfer to the Air Ministry of that Department?
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
Can the right hon. Gentleman now tell us what the eighty-four warships under construction consist of?
§ Mr. LONG
There is one battle-cruiser, the "Hood," which was in a very advanced stage of construction—we cancelled the other three—fourteen light cruisers, four destroyer leaders, thirty-three destroyers, and thirty-two submarines. Some of these were essential. Before the War, when we were threatened with the German menace, it was impossible to have ships for every purpose, and we had to abandon some of the work which our Navy has to do, and which it is essential it should do. I mean, for instance, what is known as showing the Flag in different parts of the waters of the Empire. I have no doubt from all I heard that the advantages which follow from our flag being shown all over the, world are enormous. For this purpose, of course, light cruisers are essential. With regard to the other ships, they are either necessary or they were under construction and so far advanced that it was not possible to take them up.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
Could the right hon. Gentleman distinguish between those which were necessary and those which were too far advanced to make it worth while to discontinue construction?
§ Mr. LONG
Of course during the War, whilst it was possible that the War would still go on, we had to lay down every kind of ship required for any purpose. Ships were in various stages of construction, and as one was finished another was laid down If our naval advisers could have had their choice, they would probably have wished some other form of ship than the eighty-four which were actually laid down. Of course, there were other reasons which had to be borne in mind. The War came to an end very suddenly. 1607 Our productive power was at a maximum, and in the spring of this year it would have been bad policy, even if we had thought it right to do so for other reasons, suddenly to throw on the market a vast amount of labour, a great deal of which is of a specialised character, and unless you could have found room for it it would not have been a legitimate thing to do. But it is no exaggeration to say that all these ships, which we still retain, were so far advanced that it would have been bad economy to take them up. Most of them will come in for completion this year, and the last of them in the early part of next year.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
Before the Debate closes, could the right hon. Gentleman let us have the number of battleships, battle-cruisers and light-cruisers of modern type 1 There may be a number of battleships which are so out-of-date as to be non-effective. Could he tell us how many could be described as effective in a naval sense'? Bach one would can with it certain other warships which are necessarily attendant on it, but the figures with regard to these three classes would be of very considerable use to the Committee.
§ Major Sir B. FALLE
Could my right hon. Friend also tell us what will happen to the dockyards when they no longer build warships?
§ Mr. LONG
I am not sure that I can give the figures the right hon. Gentleman asks for before the Debate closes in any way which would be effective for him or the Commitee. Really we are not in a position at this moment to say what is an effective battleship. No one knows as yet—I hope we shall have more definite information shortly—what is going to be the precise form of naval warfare in the future. It has been suggested, for instance, that the submarine should be forbidden. Assume that it possible to forbid it and secure that there shall be no submarines in the future. Of course, the moment you get rid of the submarine it is obvious that you have to look at other arrangements from a totally different point of view, so that I do not think I can give at the moment the information that is asked for. It is not because I am concealing anything. I think it would be better if the Committee would wait until we can produce this information. It must be given, of course, in the Estimates, but before giving any figures I would rather wait 1608 until our final calculations are made. My hon. Friend (Sir B. Falle) asked about the dockyards. With the exception of two light-cruisers which are in hand, the whole of the work done in the dockyards is repairing and recommissioning. As long as that goes on, and certainly for some time, the question that he raised will not arise, I imagine.
Before I conclude, there is one word more I wish to say. I do not think I should be doing my duty if, having regard to recent events, I did not offer a word of congratulation to the Royal Navy upon what we have recently seen. We had that great, magnificent and touching procession in London on Peace Day—a procession in which the Navy, I venture to say, played a part well worthy of its ancient glories and ancient history. On Tuesday, many Members of this House and of the other House and other people had an opportunity of seeing many of His Majesty's ships in the river. I think all those who saw them will agree that the Navy as presented to them was worthy of the history of this country and of the Navies of this country. It was a most impressive sight. To praise the conduct of the British sailor is, I think, quite unnecessary. I have discussed the question with others who have known the Navy intimately for twenty or thirty years. They assure me that there has been an improvement in this respect. The general conduct of the men of the Navy, scattered all over the area of warfare as they have been, subject as they were to many temptations, was beyond all praise. There is only one word to be used in connection with it, and that is that it was "exemplary." The men never forgot that they were gentlemen; they never forgot that they were wearing the King's uniform; and we must all have felt proud as we saw them, whether on parade or walking about the streets, or in their camps, or wherever they were. They were in every sense a credit to the great Service to which they belonged.
I can only say that, so far as the present Board of Admiralty are concerned, we shall do our best to avoid spending one penny of the country's money which ought not to be spent. At the same time, we shall spend ourselves in doing our utmost to be worthy of the place we have the honour to hold, regarding it as our solemn duty to see that the Navy shall be efficient and sufficient, and that the establishment 1609 shall be maintained with the most complete provision of all kinds. In doing that I am confident we shall be supported by the House of Commons. It is in that belief that I now venture to move that this House grant a Vote of £60,000,000 on account, in order that the Navy may be able to do its duty, I hope not in war, but in peace.
§ The CHAIRMAN
It would be interminable if every right hon. and hon. Member were to put questions to the First Lord in this way.
§ Mr. G. LAMBERT
The First Lord, I think, can rightly claim that his Board has done broad justice, but no more than broad justice, to the officers and men of the Navy. His administration will be memorable from the fact that the Board over which he presides with so much ability has remedied many undoubted grievances that existed amongst the officers and men. I congratulate him, therefore, upon having achieved a long-overdue reform. I can associate him with that, I know; I can associate his colleagues on the Board with that work; and I know also, from my past experience, that in dealing with the grievances of the men of the Navy my right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary (Dr. Macnamara) is always extremely sympathetic. My right hon. Friend the First Lord has stated that there is no praise too high for the Navy. Everyone agrees. I do not think there is a single person who fails to realise that the British Navy has stood between us and German domination during the last five years. Recently a magnificent spectacle was arranged by the Admiralty. I was talking with one of the Admirals, and ho told me a little anecdote which illustrates the spirit of the men. One dark and rough night in. the winter they were ordered to steam from Rosyth into the North Sea. The men did not funk it. Some of them lashed down the piano; they also lashed down the music-stool, and finally they lashed down the musician, who had to play tunes while they sang around. That is the spirit of the British Navy. I am quite certain they never would have surrendered their ships—never! There is just one word more. In view of some rumours in the Press, I hope that if any 1610 acknowledgment is to be made of the Navy's services it will be spread all over the Naval Service, and not limited to one single individual. The personnel has been worthy of the heroic Nelson, yet we have not had a Nelson, unfortunately, in this War.
My right hon. Friend stated that he proposed to continue the Naval Staff that was commenced by the present Secretary of State for War. Of course, one hates to think of war, now this terrible catastrophe is over, but there is no doubt, judging from what I have been able to learn by experience at the Admiralty, and since, that we did lack at the beginning of the War a thinking department—a department that was not over laden with administrative work. But I hope that they will not have to think in terms of war—well, ever again. I hope that war is over, at any rate, in our generation. In reference to the money which we are discussing to-day, we have to recognise that it is not an Estimate at all; it is simply a request for £60,000,000. It is plainly unilluminating to the ordinary Member of Parliament — to myself, at any rate. I am sure it is unavoidable. On 12th March the First Lord said that he proposed to issue Estimates in June and July. I know he would have done it if he could. We shall look for-word to those Estimates. It is only right that Parliament should know how the money is spent, what ships are being built, and what is the naval policy of the Government. The eighty-four ships that are now in course of building, including one battle-cruiser, fourteen light cruisers, four destroyer leaders, thirty-three destroyers, and thirty-two submarines, make a big after-war programme. There is no German Navy now; the menace is gone. In regard to these eighty-four ships 1 hope it will be shown that they could not be scrapped, so to speak, or the contracts for them, without undue inefficiency to the Navy itself. I hope, moreover, that if these new ships are put in commission a sufficient number of older ships will be put out of commission. The right hon. Gentleman has said that it is essential for us to conserve our financial resources. That is a paramount duty. If we continue as we are going on now, we shall have a strong Navy but nothing to protect, because the country will be in a state of unrest, almost of revolution. There is one thing which, 1 trust, will form no part of our naval policy, 1611 and that is, that in future naval construction we shall build against America. I know there is a school which thinks we must build against that great English-speaking people. I do not believe it.
My right hon. Friend talked of getting rid of submarines. Some very distinguished men think that submarines will be used in greater numbers in future. I doubt very much if we shall get rid of the submarine, but still it will be the duty of the Admiralty to study the naval conditions that have been revealed by the War, for undoubtedly they have changed our general position entirely. Another question to which attention will have to be devoted is the war establishment. I notice that the hon. Members for Devon-port and Portsmouth are very anxious as to the future of the dockyards. I do not know what the establishments of the dockyards are to-day—how many men are included. I will simply give a general indication of my view of what the Government should do. They have at present as bases Devonport, Portsmouth, Chatham, and Rosyth. Will it be necessary to maintain all those dockyards in future? That is a grave question for the Admiralty. I am quite certain that, unless they do reduce these establishments, they will not be able to bring down the Naval Estimates to an amount that should pro-ride for the country.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ Mr. LAMBERT
My hon. Friend is adopting a phrase which, I think, he condemned at the election. There are all sorts of establishments. What does the First Lord propose to do with Inver gordon, Portland, and Dover? These establishments mean enormous expenditure. They were necessary for the War. I doubt if they are necessary now, and everyone of these establishments is a great cause of expense. I hope, indeed, that we may see that these establishments are very largely reduced. We must remember that even to maintain a pre-war Navy—I hope that will not be necessary, because during the time that I was at the Admiralty our naval expenditure went from £30,000,000 up to £51,500,000. A prewar Navy of that strength, costing £51,500,000 in 1914, would cost at least £100,000,000 to-day, and therefore, as the great German naval menace has gone, I trust that the Government will bring down 1612 their expenditure in consonance with the removal of that menace. Personally, I think the Germans did the best service they possibly could to us in scrapping their ships in Scapa Flow. Now, at any rate, there will be no desire, I hope, on anybody's part, not even on the part of the greatest fire-eater, to build against the ships that are at the bottom of the sea. May I suggest to the Financial Secretary whether he is not a little unduly secretive in his information? Questions were asked by the hon. and gallant Member for Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) as to the monthly consumption of coal and oil in the Navy. Why should we not know it?
§ Mr. LAMBERT
But the Board of Admiralty is subject to Parliament, and I really cannot understand why, now that Peace is declared, we should not be able to know the monthly expenditure on coal and oil in the Navy. I am putting these points because it is so essential to conserve coal and oil at the present moment. I know full well the Board will issue very strict injunctions that coal should be economically used.
§ Mr. LAMBERT
But those instructions must be carried out, and I think that if the Board had the assistance of the House of Commons and the country they could possibly be carried out with greater efficiency. I hope the Board of Admiralty is really seeing that this order concerning coal is carried out. Officers are away, they burn coal and oil somewhat recklessly, and in ordinary times it would not so much matter, but now it is really essential to conserve coal and also oil. Oil is a foreign product. We were told by the President of the Board of Trade the other day that it was essential to prohibit the imports of boots a id clothes in order to keep up the exchange with America. How much more essential, therefore, is it to restrict, so far as we can, the use of oil, which is a foreign product, in order to keep up the exchange, so that our food may be sold to us at something like a reasonable price. Is it not possible for my right hon. Friend to draw on his great reserves of oil? I know full well—I was partly responsible for it—that we put up enormous tanks holding enormous quantities of oil, and it is surely not necessary now to maintain great reserves of oil fuel in the country, because 1613 after all is said and done there is now no navy for the British Navy to meet. They can get the oil across. We had then to keep up a large reserve of oil, fearing that the supplies might be interrupted, but now, at any rate, I suggest that these stocks might be drawn upon. There is one point which has been alluded to here by my hon. and gallant Friend on my left (Captain W. Benn), and that is the question of the air. Is the Navy to have its own air service, or is it to be placed under the Air Ministry? I think the Air Ministry, if it is under the War Office, will have considerable difficulty in persuading the Admiralty that the air service of the Navy should be under the War Office. Possibly a little later on my right hon. Friend may be able to give us some information.
§ Mr. LAMBERT
I assume it will be settled when the right hon. Gentleman next presents his Estimates to us. There is one point of policy upon which I should like to ask my hon. Friend for information. We are greatly in the dark as to affairs in Russia. The Fleet is operating in the Baltic, and there are, I know, some ships under the control of the Admiralty in the Caspian. My right hon. Friend told us yesterday that the operations in the Caspian will be concluded and that our personnel will be withdrawn before winter. Does that also apply to the ships in the Baltic? I do not want to press the Government, but I do think the country is gravely anxious as to what policy is being pursued in Russia. They do not understand. I read the Prime Minister's speech in this House on 16th April, when he said:To attempt military intervention in Russia would be the greatest act of stupidity that any government could possibly commit." — [OFFICIAL REPORT, I6th April, 1910, col. 2042, Vol. 114.]One wants to know, in view of the action of the Army, whether it is the policy of the Government to go on with military intervention in Russia. I will explain its relevance, Mr. Whitley, because I see your watchful eye upon me. Its relevance is that not a soldier can get away from these shores without being protected by the Navy.
§ The CHAIRMAN
It might be discussed then on a telegraph vote, on the ground that nothing could be done without a telegram being sent
§ Mr. LAMBERT
It will, at any rate, be relevant to ask if it is proposed to bring the ships that are now in the Baltic away. I do not want to press or to embarrass the Government. I want rather to help them, but if they can clear up their policy and give us some information as to what their naval policy in Russia is to be, I shall be very much obliged. I understand that directing this policy there is a kind of Eastern Committee. Is the Admiralty represented on this Eastern Committee of the Cabinet?
§ Mr. LAMBERT
I am very glad to hear it, because I understand the Eastern Committee have a good many grandiose ideas, and I am sure my right hon. Friend will endeavour to keep them well in order. I hope before the Debate closes we may have some information, if it can be given, in regard to the policy of the Government in Russia. I will reserve any criticisms that I have to make in detail on the Naval Estimates until they are produced. Meanwhile, I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his great concessions in the pay of the Navy.
§ Rear-Admiral ADAIR
I beg to move,That the Vote be reduced by £100.In doing this, I should like to say at once that I am not doing it with a view to hampering in any way cither the Admiralty or the Government in the maintenance of this great force, which is perhaps the best asset that the world has towards the maintenance of peace—the British Navy. I should like to congratulate the First Lord on the statement which he has made, and in particular on the last few sentences of it, which ran thus: that with a due regard to economy the Admiralty were going to ensure that the Navy should be sufficient, efficient, and should advance with the times and maintain a proper war staff. That, I think, is all that the House of Commons would expect—a due regard to economy with what is essential. I observe on the Paper to-day a Motion to the effect that in the opinion of this House the Army, Navy, and Air Force should be brought under the supreme direction of one Cabinet Minister, and that there should be one War Staff College. I assume that I should not be in order in referring to this, but it comes rather àpropos of the reference which the First Lord made to an efficient war staff. May I remind the House that in respect to its strategy the Navy stands alone. It is not dependent 1615 in any way on the Army and must be considered toy its own staff on its own bottom and on nothing else, and, therefore, the strength of the Navy and its strategy lie wholly with the Admiralty and nobody else. The Army can do nothing towards the command of the seas, and that is all the strategy that the Navy has to consider. The Army, whether it be horse, foot, artillery, or tanks, can assist in no way in commanding the seas, but, on the other hand, the strategy of the Army does depend entirely on the Navy, because except under the protection of the Navy there could be no overseas expedition at all. Having regard to that, I sincerely trust that the Admiralty will see to it that the Navy is maintained sufficient, efficient, and thoroughly ample for all the work it has to do, with due regard to economy. It may be that in course of time the institution of the League of Nations may enable us to reduce our Navy, as it may also, of course, enable us to reduce the Army, and all our fighting forces, but if any of the Members of this House have been to that charming town, the Hague, they will remember that on the outskirts of it there is a most elaborate palace, built some five or six years ago. for the purpose of housing "Peace." I believe at present that that palace at the Hague is one of the few houses that there are to let. Let us bear that in mind, and let us not depend as yet on any League of Nations. Let us see it first firmly established and competent to prevent national crime, and then we can think about reducing our Navy, which at present is the great police force of the whole world.
I do not wish to make any more general remarks on the Vote, but I wish now to come to that part as to which I have moved the reduction by £100. I refer to the increases in Navy pay, both to officers and men, as set out in the two White Papers that have been recently issued. That which concerns the lower deck, that is, all the ratings of the Navy and the Marines, was published in May, and one has had sufficient time to criticise it and to hear what the Navy really think of it. That referring to officers I was only able myself to obtain yesterday, and therefore it has been quite impossible to investigate it thoroughly. There may be criticisms to make, and I shall refer to that only very briefly after I have dealt with the case of the men. On the whole, the increases that have been made to the 1616 men, I believe, have, as the First Lord has said, given satisfaction. I think they are generous on the whole, but there are one or two decisions of the Admiralty which do not quite agree with the recommendations of the Committee that advised on the subject, and in respect of those I know there is dissatisfaction amongst the men. I quite appreciate that though a Committee may be set up by the Admiralty to inquire into the subject of pay, it does not by any means follow that the recommendations of that Committee should be followed exactly by the Admiralty in their decisions. I am quite sure that where the Admiralty decisions do differ from the recommendations there are weighty reasons for it. The First Lord has only mentioned the matter in a somewhat vague manner, and I hope later on he will tell us definitely whether it is the-decision of the Board itself or whether it is the Treasury that prevented the whole of the recommendations being accepted.
§ Rear-Admiral ADAIR
That clears the air as to the decision, but it is not the reason. We are asking for the reason, and I think we should enforce that request, because, although I think the Admiralty are within their rights in not publishing reasons, and it would be most improper to do so, yet it is desirable in these democratic days that the men if they are not satisfied with the decision, as compared with the recommendation, should really know what the reason for the difference is. There is so much propaganda going on nowadays, and such an enormous number of newspapers, and the better education of the men and easy communications, and all those lead them to be much more critical and particular in their sense of justice and to think far more of themselves than they did in former days. I do think it is most desirable, where the men's welfare and that of their dependants is under consideration or is being decided upon, that the men should know the real reasons for any decision which is contrary to the recommendations which have been made. These men are perfectly loyal, and that has been clearly exemplified during the War. They are ready to submit to the severest discipline without reasoning at all when it is in respect of their duty. They have performed their duties-without reasoning and without question. When. 1617 it comes to their welfare they like to know the reasons, and I think in these days it is most desirable that they should. The whole bottom of discipline is contentment, and if the men think there is any reason for discontent, and if they have any grievance, it is well to disabuse their minds by giving the reasons which, as I hope when we hear them, shall prove thoroughly satisfactory to them. I hope we shall hear them.
The first principle cause of dissatisfaction—though I will not say dissatisfaction, but want of entire satisfaction amongst the men, and, perhaps, disappointment is a good word—is that the new rate of pay is not dated back to the 1st of October, as was recommended in the Report, and so to apply to all men serving on that date. By the decision the new rate dates back to the 1st of February and applies only to men who are serving on the 1st of May. I know exactly what has been done for these men during the War, and, apart from the separation allowance awarded in 1914, and which has been gradually increased, practically nothing has been done in the way of rise of pay and allowances until the 1st of February. 1919. The result is that the men discharged between the 1st of October and the 1st of February have gained very little indeed, while the men discharged between the 1st of February and the 1st of May get appreciably less advantage than those men who remained in the Service and were serving on the 1st of May. This is thought to be unfair, and I am bound to say, on behalf of the men, that any dissatisfaction they feel in connection with this is on account of the men who have been discharged, rather than on their own account. There has been a very large number of men discharged between the 1st of October and the 1st of May. The lower deck do not consider that those men have been treated properly, and that is the cause of the dissatisfaction there is on that particular point.
The second point on which there is some little dissatisfaction is the application of the new scale of pensions The First Lord gave us as the reason for that that it meant bringing in the whole of the Civil Service and the Army and Navy, and that, in fact, all pensioners would have to be considered. That, of course, is a very serious matter, but, after all, the subject is one which requires some little consideration. The right hon. Gen- 1618 tleman the Leader of the House the other day discriminated between those who had risked their lives in the course of the War and those who had not and who are pensioners. There are a great many men who are pensioners, or are shortly going to be, who have been serving during the War in comfortable billets very far from any risk, whereas there are a good many pensioners who volunteered for active service, but were not accepted and, therefore, got no rise. If there is any line to be drawn between those who risked their lives and those who did not, I think it is only due to the pensioners to remember that though they have not risked their lives in this War, they have very probably done so at some previous time, and, at any rate, they have taught the young men who have served during the War how to risk theirs. I am aware that this is opening up a very big question, and I hope the First Lord, if he says any more on the subject, will make it quite clear what the reason is. If it is that it would cost such an enormous sum of money, or any other reason, let the men understand the reason, and let them, if possible, have their minds disabused of any idea that there is cause for dissatisfaction. That is my sole object in pressing for the reason. Disabuse the men's minds of any idea that there is reason for dissatisfaction. They are very strong on this point, and I hope the First Lord will say something more about it. The third point which has been concerning the lower deck is the subject of pensions to widows and orphans and the decision not to award them. As to this I personally uphold the decision. It is an enormous question, and I understand that the whole subject of pensions for all widows is before the Government, and, I think, pending the consideration of that it is really unnecessary to go into that of the widows and orphans of the Army and Navy.
One reason why the lower deck think there should be pensions for men's widows and orphans is that officers' widows get pensions. So they do if their cases are necessitous, but even then they are exceedingly small. For example, if a man retires as an admiral on a pension of £900 per year and dies, his widow if her case is necessitous, is given £120 per year, which is rather less than one-seventh of his pension. I presume that at the bottom of this there is the idea that an officer has been able to save money or insure his life. In most cases officers who have not private 1619 means when they marry do insure their lives, very rightly and properly. That is a very heavy charge on their pay, and that fact perhaps is not realised by the men. Further, I do not know that there is any real reason why officers and men should be treated exactly alike. If they are to be treated exactly alike then every officer may justly at once ask for a free kit and the upkeep of it. That would be of far more value to him, as it would enable Mm to insure his life by a still greater sum to provide for his widow. In this connection with regard to widow's pensions, I should like to draw the attention of the First Lord to Item 34 of the Recommendations, which proposed a gratuity of £20 to be granted on the discharge of men. That was not approved. I dare say the First Lord will remember that in the Tweedie Committee Report there was recommended a system of contribution by the men in order to build up a small sum which should in any circumstances whatever be his to take when he left the Service, or for his widow to take should lie unfortunately die. I think that is really the true line on which the men should work towards providing for their widows; by a contributory system which might or might not be added to by the Admiralty. I suggest most strongly to the First Lord that the Admiralty should, in collaboration with the representatives of the men, take this matter up with a view to its adoption for the joint purpose of providing the man himself with a fund with which to start life after he leaves the Service, or to provide a lump sum for the widow should he unfortunately die. There is one other point which causes a little dissatisfaction. The pension of the chief petty officer is superior to that of the petty officer. Owing to a separate rota of promotion in the three home ports, it is quite possible that a petty officer at Plymouth might get his promotion to be chief petty officer in advance of a man at Portsmouth who is really his senior. This is considered by the lower deck to be unfair find unjust. As it is a very small matter I think it might be dealt with on the lines of the recommendation of the Jerram Committee. It will cost the country practically nothing, but is most desirable as it would be pleasing and fair to the men.
With regard to the officers' new scale, at first sight it looks distinctly generous, and I congratulate the First Lord on his 1620 apparent generosity, but I find that occasionally what is given with one hand is taken away not to the full extent, but to a certain extent, with the other. For instance, there is a certain proposition as to the whole civilian Income Tax being paid in 1920. That would be a most serious diminution of the officers' income, and I trust it may be considered. There are also allowances such as command money, which are reduced, and hard lines money which has been abolished altogether. I do not wish to enter into detail on these questions at present, but prefer to leave them until we hear what the Navy themselves think, but I hope that when the Estimates come on afterwards we shall be able to criticise them properly and ask for reasons. There is one question which I wish to ask the First Lord in connection with the pensions to officers, Will those retired officers who, not being eligible to work in the Navy itself, took commissions in the Royal Naval Reserve or who took commissions in the Army and did good service in France, come under the new scale?
i do not know whether the Committee is aware that there is a number of Admirals who had arrived at an age which would justify them remaining amid the comforts of their home, but who volunteered and took inferior positions as captains and even in positions of lower rank in the Royal Naval Reserve, and did most excellent service, dangerous, arduous, and efficient service, around our coast in small craft, elderly men as they were. No men. deserve this rise in pension more than they, and I shall be glad to hear whether these old officers are to have it or not? I am very glad to have this, opportunity of drawing the attention of their fellow-countrymen to this very noble example of that spirit of self-sacrifice which is so cherished in the Navy.
In conclusion, may 1 remark that a soldier or seaman has no power of enforcing consideration for what he may consider a grievance. He may individually represent it to his commanding officer, but he cannot strike. Mutiny during war is at once death to the offender, and it is penal servitude even in peace time. It is, therefore, the duty of the administrators of the fighting forces who are subject to this discipline to prevent any discontent; and I am sorry to say that in the case of the Navy I fear that there was a slight forgetfulness of the need for increasing their pay in the 1621 course of the War, while at the same time most generous increases were being given to the industrial workers at home.
The fighting forces did at least equally strenuous work as the industrial workers at home, and, moreover, they were in peril of their lives or of mutilation at the hands of the enemy at any time. I think there has been some forgetfulness in dealing with these men, and I regret to say that this House, or rather the last one, is very largely to blame for that. I think that they ought not to have allowed these high increases to the industrial worker without doing something at the same time for the Army and Navy, but thanks to the splendid loyalty of the men and officers, and, in particular, thanks to the forbearance and tact and sympathy of the officers, all serious trouble was averted and discipline survived. But I would ask the First Lord of the Admiralty to bear in mind that discipline is founded on contentment, and that it is our duty to see that our fighting men are contented. If not, discipline is jeopardised. But fortunately it prevailed last year, during which there was some discontent in His Majesty's Navy, and it always will prevail so long as the men have that absolute trust and confidence in their officers, which I am happy to think exists now in His Majesty's Navy.
§ Mr. A. LAW
This is the first time on which I have attempted to take part in a Debate in this House. I preferred rather to listen to others who are much more competent, and also to make myself gradually acquainted with the rules and usages of our Parliamentary Debates. I am quite sure, therefore, that the courtesy and kindness always shown to a new Member who rises to speak for the first time will be extended to me. We are all quite aware that during the War the financial resources of our country were drawn upon very liberally, but there was this characteristic, that we did not complain. Our taxes were raised deliberately, but they were paid ungrudgingly, and our obligations were met without a murmur to provide the means of carrying on the War and supporting our incomparable forces in the field and our splendid men of the Royal Navy. I do not think that we ought to expect all at once that the expenditure which has been incurred' in respect of the Navy should immediately be very greatly lessened, because the First Lord of the Admiralty has shown clearly 1622 this afternoon that a considerable expenditure over and above the expenditure of pre-war times is still necessary. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the ships that were building during the War, but which are now reduced to the number of eighty-four, and the right hon. Gentleman opposite criticised the building of even eighty-four ships, but we all know that if the War was to continue they were necessary, and it would have been false economy to stop building ships.
There were several matters in the speech of the First Lord of the Admiralty which interested me. On 16th April he referred to the tremendous work of the Royal Navy, particularly in its transport during the War. It would be absurd for me to enumerate the details which he gave then by way of showing my admiration for the Navy on which we in Lancashire place great reliance. We know that if it had not been for the Navy we should have suffered more severely in the War than we have suffered. It makes one shudder to think what would have happened during the first months of the Wax, if it had not been for the Royal Navy. We have heard from the Prime Minister to-day that the War would have collapsed in the first six months if it had not been for the Navy. I was glad to notice among the points which the First Lord mentioned was that of economy, which is the chief point to be, aimed at. Notwithstanding the necessity which he says we are under of still keeping our Navy fully equipped, the Admiralty have in their minds at the same time the principle of economy as regards new construction. New construction of ships does not now exist—that is, new construction commenced recently. A third point which I wish to refer to is demobilisation. Many of us receive every day letters from our constituents asking for demobilisation, and we are glad, therefore, to have it from so high an authority as the First Lord that one of the matters which they are attending to is demobilisation. Perhaps still more important is the matter which is being referred to by the hon. Member who spoke last—the increased provision for widows and orphans; and finally there is the question of taking advantage of the wonderful lessons of inventions made during the War. I will not detain the Committee longer on this, my first venture at addressing it. At the same time, I appreciate 1623 very much the kindness the Committee has shown to me while I was making these few observations.
§ Commander Viscount CURZON
I only wish to ask for a few moments' indulgence in order to deal with the question of pay. The First Lord of the Admiralty, in introducing the Vote on Account, took credit for the fact that no less a sum than £10,000,000 additional money has been granted to the Navy as a result of the concessions in the Halsey and Jerram Reports. I think that this shows the measure of injustice from which the Navy has suffered in the past. At the same time I would like to reinforce what other speakers have said as to the generous scale of pay which both these Reports have given. I think that the Navy fully appreciates the rise of pay which it has received, for both officers and men, and whatever remarks I have to make are merely in the nature of criticism, and I hope that they will result, at any rate, in a few reasons being given for some of the decisions which have been taken.
I would like to deal first, if I may, with the question of officers. In doing so, I would like to draw attention to the great delay which took place in producing the Report on officers' pay. The men's pay was dealt with very promptly. We had the Report on the men's pay, and the Admiralty's decision upon it in May. It was only last week that we heard of the Admiralty decision with regard to officers, and it has not given either the House of Commons or the Navy sufficient time to go into the question of officers' pay and to consider what it all means. But I have taken the trouble to try to ascertain, so far as lies in the power of any Member of this House the views of officers in regard to the Report, and so far as I have been able to ascertain, the criticism of the Report mainly centres on the subject of Income Tax. Paragraph 3 of Admiral Halsey's Report says that the new rates of pay are based on the Service rate of Income Tax and should be raised if the civilian rate of tax is charged. The Admiralty decision upon that as that the new rates are to be taxed at the Service rate up to 31st March, 1920, and thereafter at civilian rates. I do not know whether it is realised that that may possibly lead to grave anomalies in certain cases. I will give one particular instance of an anomaly arising out of it. Take the case of a lieu- 1624 tenant on the junior staff. His pay goes up by two shillings a day as a result of the Halsey Report. On the other hand, a reduction has been made in the gunnery allowance amounting to not less than 1s. 6d., and the net result is a gain of 6d., or £9 a year. Supposing he is paid on the civilian rate of pay for Income Tax he will actually lose on what he has been receiving up to now at the rate of £29 a year. The only proviso that I can find in the Report to cover this case is Clause 40, which says:In any cases in which officers may be in receipt of a higher rate of pay and allowances than that for which they would be eligible under the new scales, they shall continue to draw their present rates of pay and allowances during the period of their appointments, or until their new rates, either on account of increments or promotion, equal or exceed the old rates of pay or allowances.I should like to know if the right hon. Gentleman can tell us whether that Clause would cover the case of officers who suffer positive diminution in. their income owing to their being paid on the Service rate of Income Tax. Until this Report has been studied a little more carefully, it is difficult for any hon. Member to produce really good instances of what the effect actually will be. Now I come to Clause 27 of the Halsey Report. The recommendation of Admiral Halsey was thatofficers going abroad to take up stationary appointments, or to non-seagoing ships abroad, should have pas-ages provided for their wives and families and a reasonable allowance for effects.This was also included in the Jerram recommendation as regards the men. In both cases it has not been approved. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether some better reason could not be given than a blank refusal? The other day there was published in the Press the new rates of pay for the Air Force, and I see there is a clause which relates to the conveyance of families. Apparently the Air Force are to have the cost of conveying wives, families, and baggage charged to the public in respect of changes to stations. Will it be possible for the Board of Admiralty to extend the same provision to the Navy It is also done in the Army where men are on the strength, and I believe it is the practice in the Indian Civil Service. The men have strongly urged this, and I hope it will be possible to grant this concession. Clause 36 of the Halsey Report recommends that an allowance should be made to officers serving in London, which is to 1625 be called "London Allowance.'' The Report does not say what the London allowance should be. Presumably it is to provide for the extra cost of living in London as compared with the living at the naval ports. The Admiralty decision on that is that the additional allowance shall be paid to officers serving at the Admiralty only, according to the responsibility of their posts. I submit that that draws a somewhat invidious distinction. I do not see what extraordinary responsibility devolves upon a post-captain serving in an office at the Admiralty compared with a post-captain serving with his ship at sea. The decision also appears to include all officers who are serving in London but not employed at the Admiralty, and there are a good many in other branches of the Service. I do hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to give us some reason for the Admiralty having arrived at that decision.
Clause 44 of the Halsey Report recommends that the children's allowance should continue for the present and that the whole question should be reviewed about the end of 1919. All I have to say about that, and the Admiralty decision that the children's allowance is to be abolished at the end of 1919, and that it will press particularly hard upon some classes of officers. Take the case of a mate just promoted to lieutenant. He will draw, under the new scheme apparently, 18s. a day, but he may be a man of forty, with a large family. I should like to quote the recommendations of Committee A in regard to children's allowances which was included in the evidence considered by Admiral Halsey:Those passed over have probably increasing expenses due to education of children, and we therefore propose to continue the progressive increases of pay up to ten years seniority, as in the case of the other branches.I hope, if possible, that the Halsey recommendation will be allowed to stand, and, if so, it would be valued as a great concession.
Clause 46 deals with Income Tax uniform allowance, and recommends that it should be doubled. The Admiralty have not approved of this. The present Income Tax allowance for uniform is £35. I have some figures of the expenditure of officers upon their uniform. Roughly, the cost to a ward-room officer for the upkeep of his uniform is £50 a year, and that does not allow for the increase in the price which has taken place this year. I hope that in 1626 view of the fact that officers are to be placed upon the civilian rate of Income Tax in the coming year that it will be possible for the Admiralty to make a further concession in that regard. There are two other points in regard to officers' pay. On page 21 of the Halsey Report, part C, Clause 3, amongst the allowances approved to be abolished is the specialist allowance to commanders, except for commanders actively employed on navigating duties and surgeon-commanders qualified as specialists. That seems rather an extraordinary decision, and I know that it is not in the least understood in the Navy. Why the navigating officers should have been singled out to retain their specialist allowance, while the gunnery, torpedo, wireless and various other commanders should have to lose their allowances, I cannot understand. It should be remembered that a navigating officer is able to draw pilotage allowance, and he is also to be allowed to retain his specialist allowance. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to give us some explanation as to why the navigating allowance only is to be retained. Then in regard to the hard-line men. The Admiralty have abolished hard-line money incertain classes of ships, notably destroyers. There is no class of ship which did greater or harder service than the destroyer. I should like to point out in this connection that the military officer the moment he goes under canvas starts to draw field allowance. The hard-line money earned in destroyers is, I think:, clearly analogous to field allowance drawn by the Army officer, and I urge that the reservation which the Admiralty attach at the end of that paragraph, namely, the discretionary power to pay the allowance at any time when special circumstances render it advisable, will be exercised as liberally as possible.
I should like to make a few remarks about the pay of the men. I have had many opportunities of getting in touch with men on the lower deck on this question and I know exactly what they feel about it. They are very pleased with the rise in their pay, but there are three really main points in regard to which they ask further reasons should be given. There is the question of ante-dating. In May this year a, large meeting was held at a certain place in London of members of the lower deck which I had the opportunity of attending, and I was able to gather at that meeting 1627 the opinions of the lower deck upon the new scales of pay. The lower deck attach great importance to their pay being antedated if possible to the 1st October, 1918. The hon. Member for Glasgow (Admiral Adair) pointed out that it was only the men who remained in the Service on the 1st of May who actually would benefit by the scale recommended by the, Jerram Committee. The First Lord took credit for having raised their pay from the 1st February, but it really only applies to the men who were actually in service on the 1st May, and between these two dates I have reason to believe that a very large number of men were demobilised. I do urge that, if possible, the recommendations of Admiral Jerram should be allowed to stand. With regard to the widows' pensions and the compassionate allowances for children, Clauses 54 and 55 of the Jerram Report make certain recommendations which are not approved. I strongly urge the First Lord of the Admiralty to give better and further reasons for the Admiralty's decision in these cases. Ho has told us that this is part of a great general policy, but I would point out that widows pensions and compassionate allowances for children are granted by the Metropolitan Police, and I believe also by the London Metropolitan Fire Brigade, and those are analogous cases. I know that this matter is part of a large policy, but I do hope that the First Lord will be able to give us a better reason than we have already had. I do not know whether hon. Members realise the strait in which a man may leave his wife and family as a result of this decision. I can give the case of a stoker who, having served on the China station for, roughly, two years, came home and unfortunately went mad. He had a wife and three children A sufficient sum was deducted out of his pension in order to keep him in an asylum, and that left his wife and three children with 7s. 6d. a week. That is the sort of state of affairs which may arise under the present scheme. If possible, I hope that this question will be considered in the future. The only other point I wish to make is one I have also made in regard to Clause 59—men appointed to harbour billets at home and abroad, free conveyance for furniture and family to be provided. The Admiralty were not able to agree to that. In view of the fact that this concession has been 1628 made to branches in other Services, I hope it will be possible for the Admiralty to reconsider their decision in this case.
With regard to the question of secrecy at the Admiralty, the country is longing to know a good deal more than it has been told already about the naval war. Various actions have taken place during the War about which nothing was said at the time. Probably for very good reasons nothing could be said. But now the War is over I urge that the Admiralty should tell us a little more about them. Large numbers of men lost their lives in two conspicuous instances, and the country has been told nothing about them. The first engagement I refer to was that at Coronel. Admiral Craddock was sent with a force which was inadequate and had no chance whatever of facing the best shooting ships, the very cream of the German Navy. Those ships were known to be inadequate before they left. I know the figure of value which the War Staff attached at the time to those ships which Admiral Craddock had under his command, and I know the War Staff figure attached to the German ships. I most earnestly hope that the First Lord will be able to give us a little more information than we have had up to now about the Battle of Coronel. The other case I refer to is that of the ships "Aboukir," "Cressy," and "Hogue." It should be recognised that about 1,500 officers and men lost their lives on that occasion. Very little has been said about it, and very little is known by the country. No one quite knows what those ships were doing, what the operations were on which they were employed, and whether, indeed, those ships were lost owing to a mistake of the Higher Command, and, if so, who was responsible? The country wants to know who was responsible for these things. I hope the First Lord will be able to tell us.
There is another question in connection with the policy of secrecy pursued by the Admiralty. I do not know whether it is generally known by hon. Members, but there is a society called the Naval Society composed entirely of naval officers. They have a "Review," which is produced for private circulation only. Early this year, as soon as the censorship was removed, the first number of this "Review" came out. Apparently as a result of that first number, which contained an excellent account of the Battle of Jutland and some other engagements I cannot recall for 1629 the moment, the circulation of this "Review" was suppressed.
§ Mr. LONG
The Noble Lord really must forgive me. What happened was that in a particular article there was a publication of confidential matter which ought not to have been given, the effect of which was immediately to create a very strong controversy, and it was in respect of the publication of (that confidential matter that action was taken by the Board of Admiralty.
§ Viscount CURZON
I accept the correction of the right hon. Gentleman. I hope it will be possible for the Admiralty to put an end to all instances of this nature by telling us as much as they can—
§ Viscount CURZON
—in order to stop all uninformed criticism and not with any idea of hampering the Admiralty or getting at anything which should not be known.
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
I was amazed when I heard the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Molton (Mr. G. Lambert) deal with the question of warships in the manner he did. One would have supposed that we were back in the old days of the Little Navy party. It was refreshing to hear the gallant Admiral the Member for the Shettleston Division (Rear-Admiral Adair) reply to that speech, and I believe that every Member of the Committee will thoroughly endorse what the gallant Admiral said on that point. He referred to the League of Nations and gave us some very good advice to the effect that we should not begin cutting down the Navy until we knew what the League of Nations was going to be, or, at any rate, until it was in being. We heard the other day the Prime Minister and the Noble Lord the Member for Hitchin (Lord R. Cecil) say that the League of Nations was by way of an experiment. We cannot afford experiments where the safety and security of the British Empire are concerned. Let me tell my right hon. Friend the Member for South Molton—whom I do not see in his place now—that America is not relying on experiments. There is no change in the Monroe Doctrine, and there is a decided increase in the Navy. America, at any rate, does not regard the experiment of the League 1630 of Nations as sufficient for the safety and security of the people of America or of the interests of America, and I do not think the First Lord of the Admiralty will regard that experiment as sufficient to rely upon for the security and safety of the British Empire. I do not propose, however, to follow the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Molton any further, nor do I propose to discuss the question of programme. I will, however, ask the-First Lord of the Admiralty to assure us that at any rate the pre-war standard of employment in the Royal dockyards will be maintained for some considerable time to come. The right hon. Gentleman did say something about building in the dockyards, but I do not think he went quite far enough. A great number of men are employed in the yards. What we, who represent ports where there are Royal dockyards, want to be assured about is that there will be sufficient work in those dockyards for the men who are employed there, and that that work shall be on the same basis as before the War.
I pass on to the two White Papers which have recently been issued containing statements showing the recommendations of the Committees which have been sitting on naval pay, pensions and allowances. First, I would make a few observations on the Report concerning officers' pay. I agree with the Noble Lord the Member for Battersea (Viscount Curzon) in regard to the Income Tax. There is no doubt that the decision of the Government has been received with a considerable amount of misgiving. The recommendation said:The new rates of pay are based on the service rate of Income Tax and should be raised' if the civilian rate of tax is charged.The Government decided thatThe new rates to be taxed at the service rate up to 31st March, 1920, and thereafter as civilian rate.As the Noble Lord pointed out, this must-affect materially the junior officers of the Navy. One word in regard to naval engineer officers—No. 8 of the Halsey Report. I am glad to see that the distinctions with regard to pay between the engineering officers of the old and the new schemes have been abolished. That is a matter of great satisfaction, and will be favourably received by all ranks of the Navy, whether officers or men. At the same time, dissatisfaction exists with regard to the recognition of war service of 1631 naval engineer officers. They do not think they have been sufficiently recognised, particularly as to promotion from engineer lieutenant-commander to engineer-commander. During the War it was provided that engineer lieutenant-commanders should do five years and three months before promotion. On 1st July last a batch of promotions was 'due but did not appear. When it was asked why that batch of promotions had not appeared the answer given was, "We have reverted to peace-time routine in this matter." I would ask the First Lord to make some further inquiry into that matter and see if he cannot meet the point raised as to engineer officers. Paragraph 31 deals with the rates of subsistence. These rates have been increased, and very properly so, but they are still inadequate to meet the present cost of living. Why should there not be a flat rate? It costs the flag officer who gets 30s. a day, or a captain who gets 25s. a day, or a lieutenant who gets 18s. 3d. a day, or the lower ranks with their 15s. a day, the same to live. The man who is a captain does not spend less money on living than a flag officer. I therefore suggest that, if possible, a fiat rate should be substituted for these different rates. I congratulate the First Lord very heartily on the treatment of kept-on officers. This has been a matter which a great number of us in this House have brought up over and over again, and we are glad to see that the Committee have recognised the facts, and that all these officers are now placed upon a proper footing. There is one point I should like to make with regard to retired officers. So far as I can make out from the decisions of the Government on the findings of the Halsey-Jerram Committees, they limit the new scales of retired pay to officers who have retired and to those who retire in future, or to those who have served during the War. To all officers who retired before the War this concession is not to be given. That is not quite fair. Again, I ask the First Lord to consider that point. Then I very much regret to see that the Government refuse to accept the Committee's recommendation for the increased rates set out in Appendix iv. of the Report with regard to widows and children. I do not, however, propose to discuss that matter; I merely wish to point it out.
I now pass on to the Jerram Committee's recommendations with regard to the 1632 lower deck and the decisions of the Government thereon. Let me say at the outset that these rates of pay have, on the whole, given satisfaction to the lower deck, but there are certain matters which require reconsideration. I am not going to ennumerate these now. I do not want to take up the time of the Committee, but they are obvious to anyone who looks through the scales of pay. There are certain scales of pay which must be, and no doubt will be, reconsidered. But there are three points on which I wish to lay special emphasis in regard to the decisions of the Government on the findings of the Jerram Committee with regard to the lower deck—
The First Lord said the date did not make much difference.
- (1)The changes made by the Government in the recommendation of the Jerram Committee that the scales of pay be antedated to 1st October, 1918.
- (2)The changes made by the Government with regard to the Jerram Committee's recommendation that the revised scale of pensions should apply to all pensioners now on the rolls.
- (3)The non-acceptance by the Government of the recommendation made by the Jerram Committee with regard to grant-(a) widows' pensions in certain conditions, and (b) compassionate allowances to the orphans of naval ratings.
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
I apologise for the error into which I seem to have fallen. At the same time, I would point out to the Government that their decision makes a great deal of difference to 200,000 men. If the Government decision is allowed to stand, 200,000 men demobilised since 1st October, 1918, will be deprived of advantages which, I think, it may be reasonably supposed the Government intended to give them.
§ Mr. LONG
I did not say that this did not matter, or that it made no difference. Obviously it makes six months' difference. I have been criticised for not giving sufficient reason. What I suggested was that those who advocated 1st October should give a reason for that. It is not enough to say that a Committee recommended the 1st October, but what makes the 1st October a more legitimate date than the 1st February. What I did say was that any fair-minded man must realise that, in. giving six months' recognition, we are doing that which is just and fair.
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his explanation. He asks me why this particular date was chosen. I cannot tell him that, but I can toll him that the men of the lower deck, who were selected to go before the Jerram Committee, asked for this date to be given, and they brought forward certain evidence that so satisfied the Jerram Committee that the Committee recommended that date.
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
Let me make one other point on this matter. There was an Admiralty Order issued when the bonus was brought up. That Order stated that it was only to be a temporary measure.
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
From this statement the lower dock gathered, as any ordinary person would gather, that all men then serving would be included when the new scales of pay were announced. That was the ordinary deduction that would be drawn, and that was the deduction they did draw, and they are very much perturbed, not to say vexed, that the ordinary deduction which men would draw has not been taken into consideration by the Government. It is suggested that it is because the Accountant-General has no machinery available for the additional clerical work. If that is the case, let the Admiralty inform the post offices of the amount due to each man, and let the men take their protection and identity certificates to the nearest post office and receive the amount due, and any adjustments can easily be made at the Naval depots. I do not say that is the reason. One word on the question of pensions. Not only did the Jerram Committee recommend the revised scale to apply to "all pensioners now on the rolls," but they added "in consideration of the increase of living and the higher standard of comfort normally aimed at," this should be carried out. No words are needed to show that this consideration at any rate applies with equal force to all pensioners, whether they are under or over fifty-five years. Therefore, why limit it to fifty-five years? How many are affected? What is the number of pensioners over, fifty- 1634 five? What is the cost to the Government? I venture to suggest that the cost to the Government is a bagatelle; it is a mere few thousand pounds. What is the answer of the Government? The First Lord has given it to-day. He has told us that he cannot carry out this decision of the Jerram Committee, because, it affects all the public services and he cannot legislate for the Naval Service only. I think that is the effect of the words he used. My reply to that is, that British legislation is always framed on the principle of equity, and I suggest it is hardly the time to make a change in that respect. I do not want to weary the Committee with any letters, but I should like to quote a few words from a letter I received this morning from an old pensioner's daughter:May I write a few words with regard to the poor, obsolete old pensioners so cruelly left out in the cold, of whom my father is one. He is now 78 years of age, and his pension was 15s. 3d. a week, but has now been increased to 17s. 2½d. I have looked after him for 32 years, but am not able to do much now as I am suffering from rheumatism and neuritis. I have been compelled to seek parish relief—a bitter blow to me.With regard to widows' pensions and compassionate allowances, these have been refused altogether, and yet they were cardinal issues in the programme of reforms laid before the Jerram Committee by the lower deck. The men who went before the Jerram Committee pressed that the men's dependants should be treated in these respects on the same principle as the dependants of officers. I do really think the Government might consider some scheme; by which they could give pensions to widows and make compassionate allowances to children. It might possibly be met by an insurance scheme—not an altogether abstract suggestion. Such schemes have been introduced in other eases, and why should it not be done with regard to pensions for widows and compassionate allowances for children? I must say a word in regard to the mechanicians. The mechanicians are not dealt with on a very equitable basis by the decision of the Government. The Government decided that E.R.A.'s were to receive 1s. a day extra for watch-keeping, but no extra money is to be given to the mechanicians for their trade work. The mechanicians claim a right to the 1s. a day given for their trade qualification, and Is. a day on becoming second-class mechanicians, and being in possession 1635 of a Charge and Maintenance certificate. The only difference between an E.R.A. and a mechanician Royal Navy is that the one is trained for his trade work before joining up, and learns his watch-keeping in the Service, whereas the other gains his knowledge of both while at sea. Yet one is to receive a 1s. and the other 2s. I do not think that is quite fair, and I beg the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider that point.
There is one class of men left out altogether in the consideration of this Committee, and that is the Royal Fleet Reserve, Class B. Although the Royal Fleet Reserve men have left the Navy, they are really still in the Service, and they are given 6d. a day as a retainer, and are liable to be called up for active service at any time. All have to serve twelve years in the Navy, when they have the option of continuing to serve for pension or join the Royal Fleet Reserve. If they remain there until forty years of age, they receive a gratuity of £50, and if they remain till fifty-five they get a pension of £12 a year. What they claim is a retainer of 1s. 6d. a day, that the gratuity be increased to £150 and the pension be granted at the age of fifty, and made £36 instead of £12. I submit that that is a very small request, and is one to which I beg the right hon. Gentleman will give his serious consideration.
With regard to the dockyards, not very long ago, as chairman of the Dockyard Members and Navy Committee, I received an application from the established men in all yards, and, with the consent of my fellow members, I asked them all to come up to the House of Commons and discuss the matter with us. They came, and they asked for five concessions. The first was that all intermittent overtime worked during the War be counted for pension. That is not a very large item when you consider that these men have performed, during the War, work of a very strenuous nature. The Parliamentary Secretary has often spoken in this House of the strenuous nature of the work which these men have performed. Again there have been a greater number of injuries during the War and a greater proportion of ill-health and disease arising out of this strenuous work. Surely it is not very much to expect; in fact, I think it is a very reasonable request, and I trust the First Lord will see his way to accept it. The second concession they 1636 asked was, that an option be granted of retiring to pension at the age of fifty-five. This concession would not involve any extra demand on the Treasury, and would enable the younger men to become established. The third concession put forward was that both apprentice time from fifteen years of age, and all hired time, be counted for pension. At present, only half hired time is allowed to count for pension, and apprentice time does not count at all. Again, a man who enters as a yard boy counts his service from seventeen years of age, but an apprentice does not begin to count until he is twenty-one, and that is obviously an anomaly which ought to be set aside. The fourth concession asked was that pensions be based on gross wages, and not on the amount received after deductions for pension purposes. That is an obvious reform. The fifth concession was that in place of ten years established time counting for one day's pay pensionable, eight years be conceded. This, I think, is met to a great extent by the recent concession to Civil servants, but unfortunately that concession does not apply to men already pensioned. The concession, in my opinion, should be made retrospective. I have already brought this matter up in this House, and the Leader of the House has told us that the Government cannot consider the question. I have put the matter to the test and asked Members of the House of Commons to sign a memorial to the Prime Minister, and the number of Members who have signed that-memorial is 325, which indicates the view that is taken by the people's representatives on this point.
I do not wish to say any more except to point out that I have been the recipient from old pensioners. Civil servants, and dockyard pensioners, of letters which are of a most distressing character, from men whose pensions are only about 10s. 6d., 15s., and 19s. per week. How is it possible for men to live upon that money I do not know. Certainly, as the Leader of the House told us, these men did not fight in the War. But then other men did not fight who have got pensions. Neither did men fight in the War who have got the concession. But all belong to the same class of workers. They have been employed in the same class of work and they should receive the same recognition. Let me, in conclusion, repeat what has been said by other speakers: that without the British Navy we could not have won the 1637 War. We should now have been under the heel of Germany, Yet these are the men—and men of whom I have just spoken, who are not to receive any concession whatever—these are the men who built the ships which not only brought victory to our arms, but have enabled us as a nation to hand on unimpaired that pride of race, that unity of sentiment and purpose, which knit together and can alone maintain the integrity of the Empire.
§ Sir T. BRAMSDON
I would join with all those who have extended their thanks to the Admiralty for the generosity and liberality with which these reforms have been introduced. I congratulate the Committee upon the exceedingly excellent way in which they conducted their investigations. If this Committee's recommendations had been carried out to the full there would not have been the slightest objection or dissatisfaction existing in the Navy at the present time. But it is, unfortunately, because certain items of those reforms have not been carried out and have been stated to be ''not approved,' or, as the sailor man would say, have been "turned down,'' that we here in this House, representing the naval ports, are appealing to the Admiralty still to give to the matter further consideration. The First Lord has said this afternoon in effect that these complaints, of which so much has been made this afternoon, practically do not exist. I am sorry that he put it that way, because I was in hopes that where possible the way in which the various Members of this House have and may put these matters before him, the arguments they may use, and the explanations they may offer, might induce my right hon. Friend to alter his views. I am, however, inclined to think that had the Admiralty themselves had the decision in this matter I think possibly the full recommendations of the Report would have been granted, but we all know that there is an institution known as the Treasury. I am inclined to think, as I shall endeavour to show to the Committee in a moment, that the present position is very possibly due to the Treasury.
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the ADMIRALTY (Dr. Macnamara)
was understood to dissent.
§ Sir T. BRAMSDON
My right hon. Friend I note shakes his head, and I am glad to have his confirmation. If, then, what I suggest is the fact we may still live in hopes that we may be able to convince 1638 those concerned of the justice of the case we have presented. I am bound to a certain extent to go over some of the ground again, but I shall endeavour to give further arguments in support of the case to those we have heard. The House will, doubtless, appreciate the fact that I represent one of the Divisions of a naval port, Portsmouth, and they will also appreciate the fact that the men of the Fleet come to me in great numbers. I have attended a great number of their meetings, and am, therefore, able to speak with something like authority as to what are the views of the Fleet.
Let us come to the first point mentioned, the question of the date of the commencement of this pay. The actual date is the 1st of February. My right hon. Friends have, in their own answer on Report, said it applies to all men who are in the Navy and have not, in effect, been demobilised before 1st May. I should like to ask why is it necessary to take 1st May because it makes such a very considerable difference in the result? May 1st was put in by the then Admiralty, not on purpose perhaps, but as a matter of fact they demobilised a very large number of the men of the Navy and tills has caused them to be ineligible for this pay at the present time. I cannot imagine why the Admiralty did this. It seems to be indefensible. In the absence of any explanation which the right hon. Gentleman may make I hope the matter will be reconsidered. My right hon. Friend asked: "What are the reasons why the amount should not date from the 1st October?" I can give him three or four reasons. The first reason, and a strong one, is that it is recommended by the Jerram Committee in their Report. The Jerram Committee took evidence and went into the whole matter. They judged it like a judicial tribunal, and, having heard the whole of the evidence, they came to the conclusion that this pay should be dated from 1st October. Surely, so far as it goes, that is an excellent reason to begin with?
The men of the Fleet say that that is the commencement of the quarter. It will be recollected the Armistice came in November, and it should be antedated to the quarter preceding the Armistice. But I think a stronger reason than all that is that the men in the Navy are loyal and devoted—as we have heard over and over again from our Friends on the Treasury Bench. It was not up to them to make any complaint or to show any grievances, 1639 or opposition, or unpatriotic action before the Armistice was granted. Even then they showed no unpatriotic action, but considered that the time had arrived when the miserable pay which they had had for so many years should be represented to the Admiralty, and to remind them of the altered circumstances. That is an extremely good reason why the pay should commence in the quarter preceding the Armistice. Had the men been unpatriotic enough to strike, as someone said—but the Navy cannot strike—it is out of the question—but had they been partially unpatriotic and tried to convince the Government in dubious ways that they should have more pay than they had, the 1st of October would probably have been the date. After these arguments, I trust my right hon. Friend will consider what we have put before him, and particularly whether this pay might not very well be antedated.
Pensions have been referred to. This is a great grievance, not only with the old pensioners themselves, but with a lot of the other ratings in the Navy. The men who are in the Navy, and who were in it, have in the past defended our shores. They have made the Navy what it is. They have conduced to the affection in which the Navy is held. They have preserved our shores inviolate for many years, and, as my right hon. Friend has made a point of it, let me also point out that only those who have been in the present War are participating in this increase granted to pensioners. Yet I need scarcely remind the House that the old pensioners themselves have been in previous wars, and have fought for our country. It will be agreed that they did extremely well defending this country against all comers. Let us see how this would affect them. What is the pensioner? The pensioner is a man who has been in the Navy some twenty-two years. He gets ½d. a day for twenty years of service. But let me speak first of the pension which he gets. He gets a pension, provided for twenty years he has been in the Navy, of 10d. He gets 2d. per day for three good-conduct medals; 1d. per day for all "very goods" during the period of his career, and 1d. for long-service and good-conduct medals. Think how this is made up. For the twenty years the men are in the Service they get l0d. That is not a very handsome pension. They get 2d. if they 1640 have got three good-conduct medals—and I can assure the House that a man must be an extremely good man if he can get three good-conduct medals in the Service—and 1d. pension if during the whole of the time they have been there they get their reports all "very good" during each year. Men in the Navy will appreciate the fact that a man must be extremely good to achieve all this, and how hard-earned the money is. The man altogether gets 8s. 2d. per week. This does not apply to all men. I am speaking, of course, of the able seaman who has managed to get 8s. 2d. a week as a pension. They may get the supplemental items to which I refer, but if they do not then their pension becomes correspondingly reduced. There is a difference, as we have heard, in the purchasing power of money now to pre war times, and a pension of 8s. 2d. a week now cannot he worth more than half the money.
This brings me to the pay which existed in the Navy before this particular point arose. The pay of the able seamen in the Navy was 19s. 3d. a week, which included 5s. 10d. for food rations. What can you expect a man to-day to save out of that money? He gets a halfpenny a day for each year of service. "A pensioner who is called up on 4th August, 1914, who is under fifty-five on that day, or is employed at the time in civil Government employment, and continues in this employment, gets the increased pension. If he is under fifty-five years, but is incapacitated through injury outside the Service, and therefore unable to be employed afloat, he gets nothing extra. If he its over fifty-live he gets nothing extra unless he volunteered and was accepted." I have spoken about the pay of the men of the Navy. That reminds me of an advertisement which has been issued by the Admiralty for a very long time, and is meant to encourage men to enter the Navy. That advertisement runs: ''Royal Navy, men and boys wanted: good pay and prospects." Well, I fail to see where the good pay is given. An able seaman gets 19s. 3d. a week. I am inclined to think that it is all prospect. How can we expect to attract people into the Navy if this is all that is given to encourage them in the way of pay and pensions? Its broad effect from time to time in the Navy has been to encourage the men to think that they would get pensions payable to them of an encouraging nature, and this has 1641 enabled the authorities to attract so many men. Look at the pay—19s. 2d. a week. Of course, I know it is higher with men in higher positions in the Navy. I do, however, suggest that the increase should now be given not only to those men who have served in the War, but also to the men who have built up the Navy, and who are now old pensioners. They, I suggest, are worthy of consideration.
The same remark surely applies to widows' pensions and allowances. What can a man expect to save out of 19s. 3d. a week? and that is the old rate of pay. How can he expect to set up for himself and provide for his wife and children? It is fair to say that an able seaman is skilled and trained. Fancy anyone out of the Navy being paid wages like that when they belong to a skilled trade! Every man in the Navy is skilled and trained, and we are proud of them. It is right that ho should be trained in every capacity, but. in return for that qualification, lot us hope that the pay will be commensurate. In connection with the widows of these men, what is asked is that they shall be placed on the same basis as officers. I sun delighted to find that officers do get a pension, and we are all glad that their children will get a compassionate allowance, but is it too much to say that the men should also be put on the same basis? What is the result if you do not give this allowance? It is that many of the widows of sailors and their children will have to accept Poor Law relief, and no hon. Member in this House wishes that to be the ease. Our sailors and marines who have, worked so well and fought so bravely are the pride of our country, and they ought nut to be required to appeal to the Poor Law. We must do one of two things. They must either have an increased amount or go on the rates. I know there has been a 50 per cent. increase in connection with old ago pensions, and surely our sailors arc entitled to the same consideration as our old age pensioners.
Reference has been made to the position of our chief petty officers. There was a regulation made during the War that petty officers who had served over eight years should eventually reach petty officers' ratings. This was a condition made during the War. The Secretary for the Admiralty stated that this was done be-cause there was no acceleration, and that they were in a different position now. Look at the position. I have got my information from the lower deck ratings, 1642 and I understand that, as a matter of fact, it was quicker during the War than before the War. It took from ten to eleven years for a petty officer to get a chief petty officer, whereas before the War it was twelve or thirteen years. I do not know what it will be after the War, but I. have no reason to suppose it will be less.
I want to appeal to my right hon. Friend to consider the question of promotion of the higher ratings in the lower deck. It is only to be expected they should hope that they will get better promotion, or as good as they have done in the past. I have been in communication with the Admiralty in regard to the sick-berth staff. He gave me an answer which has been very much controverted, and the same applies to the chief petty officer, and it is said the promotion is different. I am not asking too much when I request the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider the question, so that the promotions in the different ratings may be fairly rapid and do justice to the men. When it is understood that the men have to gain their positions by skill, energy, ability, and tact, thon there should be some form of encouragement to the men to attain these higher positions. That can only be done by making their position a little better than at the present time.
Another point is the recommendation of the Jerram Committee Report. that twenty years should be allowed for a man to complete his first period of service. When a man completes his first period of service he gets no pension. He is placed very often on the Fleet Reserve, and ho gets no pension unless he serves the second period of service. It is contended that if the men want to leave at the expiration of their first term the Admiralty should give them a sum of money to enable them to go into business or follow some pursuit, and not be troubled as to their future position. If they should afterwards be reengaged that £20 which is paid to them should be returned in some way or another, and I do not think that is unreasonable. It was a recommendation made by the Jerram Committee. The lower deck think that in this respect the recommendation of the Jerram Committee was very modest, for they recommended that the £20 should be £30. This is a matter that 1 feel the right hon. Gentleman will give full consideration to, and if it can be accorded to the men they will very much appreciate it.
1643 I should like to mention the subject of the interpreters. There was a recommendation in the Jerram Committee's Report that these men should get 1s. an hour whilst performing the duly of interpreting if they had qualified, but it should not be paid unless they were actually performing the duties, and there was a maximum of 5s a day for pay. There is a goad deal of skill wanted for a man to become an interpreter, and if he qualifies it is only fair that he should be able to have a reasonable amount of remuneration. In this respect there is a difference between the officers of the Navy. When they get a qualification they get paid, but in the case of the men they do not get it unless they are called upon to do certain things. The hardship is that they may never be called upon at all, and therefore they may qualify as interpreters and they may get nothing out of it. The men of the Navy are grateful to the Admiralty for the excellent Report and its recommendations, but they think they are certain members of the lower deck that have not been treated so well as the circumstances warrant.
I wish to refer to the junior ratings. Let me say what has been the result of the increases in these new recommendations. The ordinary seaman has got an increase of 1s. 6d., an able seaman 2s. 2d., a leading seaman 2s. 2d., a petty officer 3s. 7d., a chief petty officer (seaman branch) 4s. 3d. What they hope for, if not immediately later on, is that there should be a flat rate of 4s. increase. That is lower than the lower deck themselves originally represented to the Admiralty that they should have. They are extremely grateful for the increase, which, after all, only makes up for the difference in the cost of living now to what it was before the War. There are some improvements in the compassionate allowances during the War, but they will cease by and by. What they hope is that these allowances will be brought more into consonance with the pay and position of the men in civil life. Every man in the Navy is skilled and trained. They are subject to discipline, and they are splendid fellows who have done good work. Their training goes on from day to day and they are perfect in it, and the Navy would not occupy the high position it does but for all that training, and I think they should not be paid less than the civilians outside.
1644 My hon. Friend referred to the mechanicians. I do not want to say anything more than to express the hope that their lordships will reconsider the mechanicians. My right hon. Friend knows as well as I do that there is a good leal of bitterness existing in this direction because one rating has been granted of which another does not get the equivalent. What they ask for is very small, and I think it-would conduce to satisfaction and to a large amount of pleasing results if my hon. Friend can see his way clear to grant it. My hon. Friend spoke about the Royal Fleet Reserve. I only want to say that I agree with all he has said, and it would be an advantage if we could conciliate the men of the Royal Fleet Reserve, which constitutes a very sure shield to the Admiralty in regard to men required for war purposes. They cost very little, and they are always at hand in case of difficulties, and right well they have served the country during the War. They have been called up; they are trained men who have undergone periodical training; they are retained for a very small figure and have to answer their country's call as soon as the nation demands it. Surely they are entitled to some consideration. I regret that they were not sufficiently or properly represented at the inquiry before the Jerram Committee. They want to be considered as active-service ratings, and what 1 suggest is that, irrespective of the recommendation to give them consideration in connection with this necessary increase in consequence of the advance in the cost of living and other matters, they should be permitted to attend the autumnal conferences and make representations as to then own case.
I should like to refer no the terms of reference of the Jerram Committee. One of those terms wasTo hold an inquiry into the present rates of pay and allowances, and retired pay and pensions of all ranks and ratings of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines.There is no limit as to what they should inquire into, and they went fully into the whole question. They took evidence and made a Report, and three of the points were those we have been debating this afternoon. It is not too much to say that, inasmuch as these points were really included in the terms of reference, they were quite in order in considering the question, and, having done so, and taken all the evidence, and having made recommendations, and presumably the Treasury 1645 being fully aware of the terms of reference, I do not think it is too much to say that those recommendations should be carried out. My right hon. Friend knows that I put some questions to him upon the subject of acting rank in the Navy so far as it affects executive officers who were passed over for promotion before the War. In the Navy promotion among executive officers is by selection. During the War acting rank was granted to certain executive officers, but not to all or by seniority. They were gazetted as promoted to acting rank. They were promoted in consequence of the War and bore the strain of war conditions. The shortage of experienced officers was acute, and even retired officers of an advanced age were called up. The retired officers were automatically promoted and they retained their rank, but it was not so with the acting officers. The retired officers ranked above the acting officers, many of whom were senior originally. The acting officers did their work well and no fault was found with them. When the Armistice came the Admiralty reverted these officers as a class, though they made some special promotions. The acting officers feel humiliated, and consider that inbeing reverted back they have been practically disrated. There is no class in the Service which has received similar treatment. There is no analogy between the Navy and the Army in the acting ranks nor with the temporary or auxiliary officers. The officers in the Army are still open for promotion, but acting officers in the Navy get nothing but reversion and retirement. I am going to make a suggestion, because the acting officers are very disappointed that they were not mentioned in the Report and that no attempt was made to give satisfaction to them. After all, they did participate in the War, and they did their best. I suggest that as a class they should either be permitted to count double the time of service in the acting-rank towards pension, or that on retirement they should be granted a step in rank above the acting rank that they held. I believe I am right in saying that it affects some forty-nine men only. If this point were conceded to them it would be only an act of justice and some recognition for the service that they rendered during the War. A number of executive officers were passed over as being unfit for promotion, but some of them have been called up during the War and have done their 1646 work so well that they have been specially promoted. That shows, although they were passed over, that they were not so bad as they were painted. If, therefore, some concession could be granted to these men, I am sure that they would be grateful.
I wanted also to ask whether this question of Income Tax affects the retired officers, the pensioned officers, and the widows' pay and allowances for children? I am putting this question at the request of some of the officers. Very likely it does not affect them. If there is one thing more than another which has pleased me in connection with these reports, and particularly the Jerram Report, it is that the Admiralty have conceded the right of representation to the men. I have been intimately associated with the men of the lower deck for a period of nineteen years, and it was one of the original points of their grievances. Over and over again they said, "If they would only let us put our own case, but the Admiralty always turn it down; they always seem to think that it is a step towards mutiny." We all know that the only mutiny that occurred in the British Navy was the mutiny of the Nore. and it was because the Admiralty would not listen to the men. The Admiralty were wrong on that occasion and the men were right. If they had listened to the men the mutiny would not have taken place. There is going to be no mutiny and never will be in the British Navy as long as you treat the men well and properly. You have given them the right of representation and you have established autumnal conferences, the finest and best bit of work ever done by the Admiralty, and I congratulate you warmly upon it. As long us you listen to the men and pay attention to their requirements, you will always have to deal with Common-sense and reasonable men.
I had given notice to move to reduce the Vote by £100. I do so in order to call attention to one or two items of the Jerram Committee's Report which requires further explanation and indeed modification. First of all, I would like to join with my right hon. Friend in the tribute which he paid to the men of the Royal Navy. As one who has served in the Navy for a great many years, I am proud to take this opportunity of paying my tribute to the men of that Service. Last Saturday we carried out in this city the final stage of what has been the 1647 most bloody, the most complex, and the most gigantic war in the whole world. I consider that the victory was due in no small part to the work of the British Navy. There is not a man or a woman or a child in this country who does not think that we owe a very great debt of gratitude to the officers and men of the Navy, and it is up to us in the House of Commons to sec that we are not at all niggardly in according them the recompense to which they are entitled. I would also join in the tribute to those who organised the trip to South end last Saturday, a trip which was so well organised that a great many Members hardly had time to notice the Fleet.
The first point to which I wish to draw attention concerns the antedating of the increases. The First Lord of the Admiralty has simplified our case, because he has not given us any arguments or reasons at all why these legitimate recommendations should not be adopted, and I take hope from that fact. I feel sure that he will be able to listen to our arguments and reasons, and, perhaps, to some extent "be able to modify the decisions. He says that he has not heard any arguments why the date should be the 1st of October. It seems to me that shows a lamentable lack of staff organisation inside the Admiralty. That date is chosen after careful consideration, because it is the first quarter pay-day preceding the Armistice. If any date after the Armistice is taken a large number of men will be disfranchised from the benefits. I think I am right in saying that between the 1st of October, 1918, and the 1st May, 1919, at least 230,000 men were demobilised. That means that no less than 230,000 men have been disfranchised from receiving the benefits under this Report. That alone is sufficient argument to justify dating back the new rates of pay to the 1st October. What are the arguments against dating them back? We are told that there are very great clerical difficulties. I am fully aware that there are clerical difficulties, but if they are so great that they prevent this antedating it would be quite possible to arrive at an average, not necessarily an accurate amount, and grant the men a bonus for the interval between 1st October and 1st May. I hope that the matter will be very seriously considered by the Admiralty and the War Cabinet. I look upon it as a most necessary and vital clause in the Jerram Report. It 1648 affects so many men who otherwise will not receive the benefits to which they are entitled.
The next point is that of the widows' pensions. I was in some doubt when this question was first raised whether one should press it, but I am now quite determined that it is a point to which the men of the lower deck art legitimately entitled. There were two clauses in the Jerram Report: First, the increases of pay, and, secondly, the widows' pensions. The increases of pay have not been conceded in toto, and the widows' pensions have not been granted. There is a strong case for the reconsideration of the matter, and all the more because I see from the Appendix that a very generous rate is to be granted to the widows of officers. If there is one thing we want to avoid more than another it is any differentiation between officers and men. Everybody agrees, and especially those who have had an opportunity of serving in the Navy, that there is no ill-feeling between the officers and the men of the lower deck. Fur from that, there is a great bond of sympathy between the two. Therefore, I do appeal to the Admiralty to see that there is no differentiation between the officers and the men in carrying out the recommendations of this Report.
The next point relates to old pensions. I have discussed this matter with some of the men who were responsible for the recommendation. The recommendation was that the revised scale of pensions should apply to all pensioners now on the register in consideration of the increased cost of living. The scales, as approved by the Cabinet, were to apply, as from 1st April, 1919, to future pensioners, pensioners now-serving, and to all pensioners who have served during the War, but not to other pensioners. The new rates of pay were based on economic grounds, and had no regard to the War. They were based solely on the increased cost of living and the increased cost of maintaining the same standard of comfort. I see no argument whatever to justify this discrimination between one set of pensioners and another. They have to live in the same world, in the same district, and under the same conditions. There is no reason at all why an old pensioner, who has served in past wars and helped to bring the Navy up to the state it is now in—who has performed loyal service, in fact—should be compelled to live on a sum which is totally inadequate to meet the cost of living. There are 1649 men in Portland and other towns to-day living on 5s. and 7s. per week. Why, a Member of this House can hardly live on that amount for one day! What does it mean? It means that these old men— sixty-five, seventy, or more years of age—have to go on working for a living at a time when they ought to be resting on a sufficient pension granted by a grateful country.
Another point which I wish to draw attention to is that of gratuities, dealt with in Section 34. The proposal was that a gratuity of £20 should be granted on discharge on completion of the first period of service, and that in the case of re-engagement it should be refunded in three years. I understand the motive underlying the granting of the gratuity was to give the man a small sum to tide over the period between the date of his discharge and the date of his re-engagement. I would like to bring this point to the notice of the right hon. Gentleman. The principle of granting gratuities already exists in certain branches of the Service. It obtains, I believe, in the Chaplain's branch, in the Medical Officers' branch, and in one or two other branches where there is a gratuity granted on termination of the period of service. These are the most important points in the Jerram Report. There are a great many others, not, perhaps, quite so important, but equally necessary to be dealt with, although I do not propose this evening to detain the Committee by going into them. They all require, however, very careful and very deliberate consideration. The Jerram Committee was appointed to inquire into the grievances of the lower deck. and after long, earnest, and careful consideration they presented their Report. What has happened? The Government has modified it. I know myself what happens when Reports like these are sent to the War Cabinet. That body has very little time to deal with them. Everybody on the staff of the War Cabinet is overworked. Rut the Minister has to show his authority by using the blue pencil. Everyone who has worked in a Government Department must be aware of that fact.
We have had no real arguments from the Government why all the recommendations contained in this Report should not be given effect to. What happened the other day? We had an important Coal Commission. It was composed of carefully-selected men. It spent months on its inquiry, and then the Government found 1650 itself unable to accept, the Commission's recommendations. The same thing applies in the case of the Jerram Report, and if no arguments are put forward to justify the refusal of the Government to put the recommendations into effect, or if the arguments advanced do not satisfy the men, then it will cause a great deal of unrest. I am proud to say there is absolutely no sign of Bolshevism in the Fleet. I do not think there is likely to be any, but we do not know what may arise if unsatisfactory conditions are not removed. I would like to point out there is hardly a class or rating on the lower deck that has not got a great charter of points which require to be dealt with. There is, for instance, the question of the promotion of stewards, and there are a number of other matters, and what I really want to suggest is the setting up of some machinery whereby these innumerable grievances can be adequately dealt with. The time has come to realise that, while a man must be subject to discipline and to the Regulations of the Service, he has at the same time a legitimate right to express his opinion on conditions which affect his own life.
Those who have served in this great Service know only too well that in the past the men's conditions have been too dependent on the idiosyncrasies of individual officers, and in this connection I welcome the institution of welfare committees. In welcoming them I would like to ask that before we pass this Vote we may have a more explicit definition of their constitution. It is now six months since the Admiralty issued the Order under which the constitution of these committees was explained in scanty form, and yet I understand that not a single welfare committee has so far been elected. It may be that I am ignorant, or that the men are ignorant, but surely it shows that the fact that these committees may be elected has not been conveyed to many men in the force. I am rather afraid that absolutely nothing has been done in the matter of the institution of these welfare committees. It means just the same thing in the Navy as is being applied in the industrial world; it is the application to the Navy of that principle which is associated with the name of the Chairman of this Committee (Mr. Whitley) in the industrial world. It is the application of the principles of democracy to the lower deck without in any way whatever taking away from the rights of discipline or the authority of the officers.
1651 One could give a great many examples of the work which these welfare committees would be able to do, and I hope myself there will be a real organisation of the men of the lower deck in their classes and grades—one that will cover the whole Navy. Lower-deck organisation is very incomplete. It certainly does not cover the Navy as a whole. I do not go so far as to advocate the institution of complete trade unionism in the Navy. But there should be some organisation by which the men can express their opinions, and do so collectively, if they so desire it. What happens if a man has a grievance—well, I will not say a grievance, for that word does not exactly express what I mean—but what happens if a man has a suggestion to make for the betterment of his conditions? He sends it forward to the Master-at-Arms. Thence it goes to the Officer of the Watch, thence to the Senior Captain, thence to the Rear-Admiral, and so on, right up to the Commander-in-Chief and the Admiralty. I do not see how by that means it is possible for the Admiralty to get the real opinions of any lower-deck rating. How would it be possible for the Admiralty to get the opinion of the shipwrights as to a new form of tool, or that of a naval seaman with regard to a new form of uniform? I venture to suggest that the introduction of democratic institutions will go a long way indeed to preserve those conditions of prosperity and happiness which at present exist in the Navy.
I am not sure what the object of the Admiralty is with regard to the institution of welfare committees, and I hope my right hon. Friend will give us some indication of what is going to be ultimately the organisation. I have no objection at all to the setting up of a Department with a very close connection with the Admiralty. It might be inside the Admiralty, with an additional member of the Board of Admiralty to be solely responsible for the welfare and condition of the men of the lower deck. Preferably, that member of the Board should be a civilian, rather than a Sea Lord. There are Sea Lords and Sea Lords, and a distinguished admiral of great, powerful personality would be inclined to overrule the men on his staff. Therefore, I think a civilian member of the Board would be more suitable. Or it might be better to have a. Department outside the Admiralty, 1652 meeting at Whitenall once a month or once a quarter, to discuss these matters. I do not think, however, by chat means it would be possible to get such close touch with the men of the lower deck as is essential.
Let me enumerate some of the matters which could be dealt with by such a welfare committee. Take the case of new construction. The programme of the Admiralty I am glad to hear is not a very extensive one this year. But imagine the value which could be. obtained from having the Director of Naval Construction in a position to confer directly with representative delegates from the lower deck to discuss the question of their accommodation—bath rooms and drying rooms, for instance, and all those innumerable problems of domestic economy which go to make up the comfort of the 700 or 800 inert who have to live on board these large ships. At present these points are very inadequately dealt with. Say a man on the lower deck puts forward a suggestion for an improved type of bath room. By the time such a suggestion, if ever it is sent forward, has passed through the various channels I have discribed—by the time it has reached the particular Department concerned, probably a period of five years will have elapsed before it can be incorporated in the new designs for ships. But if we had a Department of the Admiralty presided over by an additional member of the Board and having on his staff representatives from all classes of the lower deck, you could at once and without delay get the advice of the men mostly concerned on matters relasing to new construction. That is a very important point indeed. At present many points, such as questions of uniform, are not decided after any adequate consultation with men of the lower deck. Everyone will probably agree that there is a very great deal of antiquated clothing issued to the seamen. and no machinery exists to-day for obtaining opinions of the lower deck on the question of necessary changes. If you have a Department of the Admiralty constituted on these lines, before bringing out a new type of uniform the Admiralty can consult this Department and get an opinion which is really representative of the whole of the lower deck and bring out a regulation which will be acceptable to the men. Regulations are very often framed without any real regard or without any touch of sympathy with the men who have to carry them out. They are, I am 1653 afraid, too often framed by men, possibly in civil Departments, who must, by the very position they hold, be out of touch with the men for whom they are framing the regulations, and in a great many instances it would be very simple to refer a list of regulations to a welfare department before issuing them in the form of an Admiralty Order. There is a very real need for granting to both officers and men of the lower deck greater facilities for increased education, and I think such matters as these could be dealt with much better in consultation with the men of the lower deck than by leaving it to chance, as it were, to mature at the odd suggestion of someone in the Admiralty. None of these points would in any way abrogate from discipline. On the contrary, they would engender a better feeling between all classes, and I hope the Admiralty will carry out this Weekly Order 737 in that spirit. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will accept the full principles of democracy which are prevailing in the industrial world and in every part of the world. When I read that Weekly Order I had some hope, but seven months have elapsed since it was put into force and hardly anything has been done at all. I cannot help thinking the Admiralty arc frightened of putting it into force. The mere fact that the elections are to be carried out under the Commander-in-chief at a home port seems to me to indicate that it will be carried out on undemocratic conditions. It will be a very great mistake if these elections are carried out under Admiralty jurisdiction. You have to accept facts as they arc. You have to face realities. The men of the lower deck are organised in every branch and in every rating, from E.R.A. s down to able seamen. There is no question that every branch, from the top to the bottom, is absolutely loyal. Therefore make use of this organisation. That is the appeal I make to the right hon. Gentleman. I feel very strongly on this matter because from my own past experience of the Admiralty I have grown to believe that it is the home of conservatism. Whatever has happened during the War, and no one will deny the work done by the Navy, the Admiralty missed great opportunities. This is not the time or the place to pursue recriminations, but the right hon. Gentleman and his advisors know some of the difficulties which we encountered at the beginning of the War and some of the mistakes which were 1654 made by the Admiralty. It is for these reasons that I have learned to my cost that the Admiralty is inclined to be too conservative. I therefore hope, in spite of the magnificent opportunities which they missed during the War, in spite of the lack of provision and of initiative which was shown repeatedly in carrying out new operations, and new stunts, they will now turn over a new leaf and show more initiative in carrying out their reconstruction of domestic organisation.
I feel, as we shall not have another opportunity of discussing Admiralty organisation, this question ought to be dealt with to-night. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Long) mentioned that he thought the present Admiralty Staff arrangements should be allowed to continue on trial for another twelve months.
I am glad to hear it. It makes it all the more possible for our suggestions to have effect in the new organisation which will take place very soon. It seems to me that this question of the reorganisation of the Naval Staff must be approached not from the naval point of view, not merely from the British point of view, but from the imperial point of view. We had before the War the Committee of Imperial Defence, which undoubtedly did good work. It was only empowered to make recommendations to the Admiralty, the War Office and the Air Ministry.
§ The CHAIRMAN
This is really going beyond the scope of the Vote. It is a subject that belongs to the Resolution which will come on later. The question of organisation must be confined to the Naval Staff.
The question of the reorganisation of the Staff comprises the complete organisation and amalgamation of all three Staff's under the Imperial Staff and I do not sec any better Vote on which the matter can be discussed, because the Admiralty section of the Staff is the, most important.
§ The CHAIRMAN
It certainly cannot be discussed on this Vote. There used to be a Vote for Imperial Defence for the very purpose of discussing the joint 1655 action of the various Services. Now it can only be discussed on the War Cabinet Vote.
We might have some indication from the right hon. Gentleman as to the future development on Naval Staff policy, and I would ask that we may be assured that the whole question of Imperial Defence will receive consideration, with the possible formation of a Ministry of Defence, which, I understand, is being considered, and an Imperial Naval Staff with a view to coordinating the naval forces of all our Colonies and Dominions. If we can have some indication of the lines on which the Admiralty is working in that respect, it will satisfy in a small degree the Motion which we have put down. The right hon. Gentleman has not given us any reason why this should be turned down. The men of the lower deck deserve to have these arguments presented before us. I ask him to give the men of the lower dock some arguments which, if he cannot see his way to modify these decisions, will at least be acceptable till they can be reconsidered.
§ Commander BELLAIRS
I think the Admiralty must now see that they would have been wise to adopt the suggestion I made about a fortnight ago, that the First Lord should issue an official printed statement of policy. It always was the practice in peace time.
§ Commander BELLAIRS
We have to deal with a practical proposition. The only occasion on which we can debate Navy Estimates is on Votes on Account, and the conditions of war secrecy have passed away.
§ Commander BELLAIRS
Anyhow, we have had no discussion on general policy during the whole of this Debate, though we are dealing with £60,000,000. My right hon. Friend issued a statement in regard to the pay of officers and men, and we have had a general discussion on the whole question of the pay of officers and men ranging even round small Committee points. The result is that we have had a very valuable discussion, in which we have had very informing speeches deal- 1656 ing with grievances which, I hope, will be looked into. The hon. and gallant Admiral opposite rightly said the main object we have in view is to get the men contented. From that point of view I will not say anything myself which will in anyway tend towards creating discontent. When this question of the pay of officers and men was before the House, or rather when the Navy Estimates were under discussion, I ventured to say that I had complete confidence in my right hon. Friend and the Board of Admiralty to deal with it. I have not withdrawn that confidence in any way. I think that on the whole they have dealt with the main grievances. I would ask my Friends in this House who deal with the smaller points to remember this: The Committee that was appointed was a purely Naval Committee, and the House has shown its generosity in allowing a purely Naval Committee to deal with the whole of this question of pay. The second point I will ask naval representatives to remember is that it is very unlikely indeed that this House will ever consent to differentiation with regard to Income Tax for the Navy and the rest of the country. We did it during the War, but we are never likely to do it during peace. I think the Committee would have been better advised if they had ruled that question out altogether. Anything, therefore, in the way of grievances in regard to Income Tax ought to be redressed by increased pay. I think that the ground has been so fully covered in regard to pay that anything I might have to say is better deferred to the Vote which deals with the pay of officers and men, and that is the course I propose to take.
In dealing with general policy, if we are ever to get our naval affairs straight, we must not allow my right hon. Friend the First Lord to use exaggerated language in regard to the past history of this War. He implied that at the beginning of the War the Navy did not run any risks.
§ Commander BELLAIRS
I would like to get the matter straight. I inferred from what he said that the provision in regard to the Navy was so adequate that no risks were run.
§ Mr. LONG
I do not know from what the hon. and gallant Member is quoting, but I have never said anything of the kind. On the contrary, I said only a short time ago that, although the foundations of 1657 the Naval Staff were laid, the Naval Stall had not been sufficient for the purpose, and that had it been sufficient at the outset of the War we would not have run the risk to which we were undoubtedly exposed.
§ Commander BELLAIRS
I understood it was something entirely different. I am pleased to hear from my right hon. Friend now that great risks were taken. We have had it from a previous First Lord that this country was without any defended bases on the East Coast, and without any provision for the defence of trade. All that was the outcome of inadequate war staff work. There was no war staff at all. We had a thing called a war staff, but it was an apology for a war staff. Personally, I do not think we have nearly got the right war staff now, though the right hon. Gentleman appears to be perfectly satisfied.
§ Commander BELLAIRS
I am very glad that the First Lord is not satisfied with the War Stall as it exists at this moment, because there are many of us why are completely dissatisfied with the War Staff. I have no desire to attack my right hon. Friend, and have said already that I have the most complete confidence in him in regard to the settlement of the pay questions of the Navy. If I had had any desire to attack him I would not have expressed my confidence in that way. A war staff proper should not advise, but should decide matters. Apart altogether from the staffing of this War Staff, we want a, staff which will decide the policy of the Navy. We have not got that. Supposing the War Staff comes to any decision on any great matter of policy and advises the Board of Admiralty. Who sit in judgment on it? It is true the First Sea Lord, who is on the War Staff, is there, but the Board of Admiralty consist of other Lords, purely administrative Lords, the Second Sea Lord and the Third Sea Lord, who deal with purely administrative questions. They will sit in judgment on a decision which has given the War Staff days find flays of hard work. My right hon. Friend has not yet reformed 1658 the Board or Admiralty. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge did make some effort in that direction, but was met with such conservative prejudice, using "conservative" in the worst sense of the word, that he was unable to achieve his object. My right hon. Friend—again I hope I am not misquoting him—strained my imagination very much when he said that the sailors were just as keen on economy as the civilians. Possibly that object can be achieved some day. It is not the case to-day. While we have a system of Treasury checks and no trusting of naval officers they cannot be blamed if they look upon the Treasury as the enemy I think it is possible throughout the whole Navy and Army so to educate officers and to trust them that they will become not only keen on efficiency but also keen on economy. I would point out that there was nothing that Nelson's captains were prouder of than their economy in spars and sails, so that they could keep out of dockyard hands. I believe the same spirit can be got in the Navy and Army. It you get rid of Treasury checks and trust the naval and military officers, and make it part of their education to work for economy as well as efficiency, you will reap a rich reward in economy.
The next question to which I wish to draw my right hon. Friend's attention is the question of promotion. There is a great deal of anxiety in the Navy in regard to promotion. There have been several cases of officers retiring from the Admirals' list and nobody being promoted in their places. There have been no promotions by selection in the Navy during the whole of the War. In the Army there have been numbers of promotions from colonels to the Generals' list by selection. The only case which came, after considerable pressure in this House and elsewhere, was the promotion to acting-rear-admiral, but not to a real vacancy, of Sir Reginald Tyrwhitt. Now we are getting to a new position. Admiral Sir Lewis Bailey has retired from the Admirals' list. Admiral Christian was promoted from vice-admiral to admiral, but no rear-admiral was promoted in his place and no captain promoted. Rear-Admiral Bartoloméhas gone to assist the Member for Cambridge on the Transport Board. He has retired from the Navy. No captain has been promoted in his place. I recognise that the list may have to be cut down, but what I suggest to my right hon. Friend is this. The Admirals' lists are fixed by Orders in 1659 Council, and, if he is going to vary those lists, it is his duty to take the House and the Navy into his confidence, and to tell us what he is going to fix the lists at. I could give him the names of over a dozen admirals who either have not hoisted their flags during this War or who have never gone to sea during this War, having served in shore appointments. It is only fitting that if the lists are going to be cut down those officers should quit the Admiral's list and make room for younger men who have done well and borne the burden and heat of this War. There is the other question of promotion from the lower deck, to which the men attach a great deal of importance. There is the mate system, which the Financial Secretary is constantly trotting out. The mate, system gives no opportunity to a boy on the lower deck to feel that he can reach the rank that Sir David Beatty has reached, the rank of Admiral of the Fleet. Napoleon had the idea that every soldier in his Army should have the encouragement of the thought that his knapsack might contain a field-marshal's baton. We ought to have the same sort of feeling in regard to the Navy. Unless a boy has the opportunity of passing to sub-lieutenant at the age. of eighteen and a half, I very much fear that there is no chance of his reaching the higher ranks of the Navy. If the direct entry system for midshipmen is done away with the probability is that the chance of promotion from the lower deck will be done away with too, because if you revert to the Osborne system you will have such an entirely different system of education for officers and for men that it will not be possible for a boy from the lower deck to compete. While you have the direct entry system for midshipmen and a more advanced age for the Osborne boys it is possible for the boys from the lower deck to go in for the same examinations as the boys from the public schools. It is rumoured that the Admiralty contemplate doing away with the direct entry system for midshipmen. The Service holds the very highest opinion of this system; it is very economical. The products of it show more initiative than the Osborne boys. In striving for economy the right hon. Gentleman ought not to permit any prejudice by officers who are in favour of the old Osborne system to blind him to the advantages of this direct system of entry.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Commander BELLAIRS
I am very glad to hear it. I want to say a word or two about the Osborne system. It was brought forward by Lord Fisher. I attacked it from the first. Almost the whole Press of the country was in favour of it. In 1905 the ''Daily Graphic" opened its columns to me to attack the system. I think I can claim that nearly every forecast of mine about that system has turned out correct. It was to produce one system of entry for executive, marine, and engineer officers. In part you had to revert back to the old system. You have several classes of engineer officers now instead of having one. The wheel has turned full cycle, and the artificer engineers are now demanding that they should be recognised as the engineers of the Service. I do not see how you can refuse that recognition, because they can show you how efficient they are. The engine-room artificer branch has had charge of the engine-rooms of ships, it has had charge of ships. They can show they are much better practical engineers than ever you will get from Osborne, and you have nothing whatever against: thorn except sometimes it is alleged in the Service that it is against them that they belong to a trade union. I respect them for belonging to a trade union. I think they are right, and this particular union, the Amalgamated Society of Engineers, has this record behind it that it has never on a single occasion interfered in any way with the discipline of the Service. It has done what it has a right to do, namely, it has represented to engineers on shore that it is undesirable to enter the Navy while the conditions of service in the Navy were not good. That is simply what the trade union of doctors has done in regard to the Army and Navy, and when you talk of trade unions I know there is a complaint in the Navy that the trade union of admirals is the strongest in the world. I know it is the admirals who prevented my right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge (Sir E. Geddes) from introducing promotion by selection from the captain's rank to the admiral's rank. No man can say that if a captain has distinguished himself and shown himself to be a thoroughly efficient officer he is not entitled to what was done for Hawke and Howe, and numbers of other admirals in 1661 the past, and that is to be promoted by selection over the heads of senior captains, and yet the admirals of the Navy prevented that being done.
My hon. and gallant Friend (Rear-Admiral Adair) spoke about the Staff. I am not going to go against the Rules of Order in any way, but the hon. and gallant Admiral misrepresented the terms of the Motion I had on the Paper. He said I wanted to amalgamate all the Staff colleges, but that is not the case. To assemble the Staff colleges is not to merge them. I want to have the naval men who have been trained for the Staff at Camberley training side by side with the military men and with the airmen, so that we got interchange of ideas and interchange of lectures and the Services are coordinated, as they should undoubtedly be, and pull together better than they have done in the past. The hon. and gallant Admiral spoke of the strategy of the Navy as being something apart altogether from the strategy of the Army, but that is not true. I will take one single instance in this War when that disaster took place to General Gough's Army. A large part of the Army in England was sent to reinforce the men at the front. They had been kept in England all the time on the idea that this country was open to invasion. That is largely a combined naval and military question, and if it had been flogged out properly, as it should have been, I think we could have prevented that disaster to General Gough's Army ever having occurred. In regard to my Motion on the Paper, if we want representation of the Navy in the new Cabinet, it will be impossible to put into the new Cabinet all the heads of the great spending services. Therefore if the Navy is to be represented in the War Cabinet it will stand a better chance if we have one Minister of Defence in charge of all three fighting Services. It is not a new recommendation. It is a recommendation which is not my own. It was made by Lord "Randolph Churchill.
The hon. and gallant Member for Battersea (Viscount Curzon) made a strong plea to the First Lord that he should get rid of the secrecy which has characterised the Navy in this War, and he pointed especially to two cases—the Battle of Coronel and the loss of the three "Cressys." It is necessary that we should know why the War Staff and the Admiralty failed in those cases. After all, in the case of the three "Cressys," every midshipman in 1662 the Fleet was talking about the live-bait squadron. It was known to every midshipman in the Fleet that those ships were almost doomed to torpedoed, and yet they were kept in that position, where they wore exposed to submarines, without any destroyer defence to screen them from the attacks of submarines. It is not merely those incidents, but in regard to nearly every naval incident in this War we have had secrecy. It is impossible for the Navy to learn about this War, or for the public to learn about this War, because we have not had revealed to us what actually took place. They have been dealt with by Courts of Inquiry whose proceedings and whose decisions are never published Had they been dealt with by Courts-martial, minutes would have boon kept, and this House would have been able to call for them and to have them published. This is a democratic country, and the democracy docs not like secrecy, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby (Mr. J. H. Thomas), whose illness every Member of this Committee regrets, hoping his eyesight will be fully restored, made a most informing speech in the course of this War, in which he attributed much of the discontent and so-called Bolshevism to the fact that the public had never had revealed to them what was taking place in this War, and also to the fact that the people who failed were not punished. I think those charges arc perfectly true, but the result of all this secrecy, and of the Board of Admiralty discouraging officers from taking part in discussions and from writing papers, is that we never had such an absence of discussion. There is an entire absence of informing articles and papers, such as took place in the French Army before the War and this state of affairs has gone on for years, both before and during the War. I am myself a member of the Council of the Royal United Service Institution, and I can say that, so far as the active service Navy is concerned, we might just as well be the Deaf and Dumb Institute, because officers hardly ever come forward to write papers or to take part in the discussions.
§ Commander BELLAIRS
My hon. and gallant Friend says "They are not allowed to," but they are not allowed to unless they submit their papers to the Admiralty or unless they ask permission of the Admiralty to take part in a discussion, and 1663 there is a feeling throughout the Service that an officer who asks if he may contribute such-and-such a paper or take part in such-and-such a discussion will have a black mark put against his name, and his promotion imperilled, as I think it would be. I do not think that state of affairs can go on much longer. I would recall to the Committee what Pitt said on 18th July, 1803, about secrecy. He said:It is quite impossible that a people will make adequate efforts to resist a danger of the nature and extent of which they are studiously kept in ignorance.What is the attitude of the Government to the public whenever the Government fails? Lord Haldane recently blamed the public for the mistakes that had been made in this War. My right hon. Friend, after the South African War, when he addressed the bankers at their dinner in Bristol, said much the same thing and said that if mistakes had been made it was the public that were to blame for not insisting that adequate provision should be made. How can a public, which is kept in the dark in regard to everything, give an instructed public opinion on any question of naval strength or military strength or naval or military preparation? You have got to take them into your confidence. The same kind of reckless charge is made by the sailors themselves. Lord Jellicoe, in his book, blames the politicians for the want of preparation which he reveals in that book. I can only say, in regard to this House, that that charge is wholly untrue. There has never been in the history of this House a single case where a demand made for the Navy by the responsible men on Government Benches has been refused. It would be equally untrue of the Army if we except the case where it was proposed to quarter Dutch troops in London. It was first refused by the House of Commons and was afterwards assented to. The House of Commons will always back up the naval demands, because it recognises how dependent this country, and this House itself, are on the Navy. We owe all our liberties to the Navy, and the only cases that I know of where the responsible admirals have resigned because their demands were not granted by the Treasury are the cases of Admiral Berkeley in 1845 and Admirals Seymour and Hay in 1867. But the moment they revealed the reasons why they resigned, the pressure of the House of Commons was so great that the Government gave in. Admiral Berkeley resumed his 1664 seat on the Board of Admiralty in 1845 and won his points, and in 1867 Admirals Hay and Seymour resumed their seats on the Board of Admiralty, at Lord Derby's request, and the whole of their points were conceded with regard to provision for the strength of the Navy. May I say that my right hon. Friend is entirely mistaken in thinking I want to attack him. I want to get certain things achieved. I want to see the Navy run by a properly trained war staff, so that the advice which this House gets is good naval advice, which is not always the case now. I say, Trust the House, trust the country, get rid of secrecy, and in the discussion and the invention that you stimulate you will reap a rich reward in progress
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I would ask the First Lord to listen to one or two criticisms which I make to him and which, I hope, will be as constructive as those to which he has just listened from the hon. and gallant Member for Maidstone. I ask him to do this because, a few short weeks ago, I was commanding a group of armoured cruisers. I now stand on the floor of this House, and therefore, I think, I am in a position to speak a little on this subject. I say, in the first place, that unless the First Lord, in his reply to this Debate, makes some very substantial concession as regards the findings of the Jerram Committee and the Admiralty action thereupon, my hon. and gallant Friend (Bear-Admiral Adair) will press his reduction to a Division, because I think the First Lord will agree that from all parts of the House have come very strong condemnations of certain defects in what would otherwise be a matter for congratulation for the Admiralty. The Admiralty are to be congratulated on the rises in pay and the humane view they have taken of the whole matter, both as regards pay and pensions of officers and men, but there are those three blots, three principal weak points. which I make no apology for mentioning again only by name—first of all, the antedating of the pay. There is another reason for the date of 1st October, and that is that in October there was very wide-felt discontent in the Fleet, and this was very properly brought to the notice of Admiral Sir David Beatty, who did a most admirable thing. He called together some committees of officers and of petty officers and blue-jackets and requested them fully to discuss the whole matter, and to put to him the recommendations that they suggested 1665 as the minimum demands for pay and pensions in the future. He gave them to understand that if they continued to carry on their work in the loyal and splendid way they had been doing it, he would assure them that the Admiralty would see they did not lose by it and that any concessions given would be antedated. Therefore there is a feeling in the Navy that the fact that these concessions have not been antedated to October, but only to February, is in the nature of a breach of faith. We do not want that sort of thing to prevail in the Navy at the present moment. Therefore I do appeal most earnestly to the First Lord to reconsider this matter and, if possible, give some assurance and some hope this evening. The other two points are these: First of all, in regard to widows' pensions, there is a strong feeling among all ranks throughout the Navy that this should not be a matter of compassion, but rather a matter of right. The third point is the matter of the old naval pensioner—the old seamen, the fathers of the present Navy, the men whose traditions and code of honour have contributed so much to the results we have recently achieved. It is felt very strongly that they should not suffer. We know what a large subject this is, and that whatever is done by the Admiralty will have a reaction on other Departments in the State, but, nevertheless, the feeling is so strong, and I am sure the country would not grudge the money to these men, but rather that they would insist on this payment being made to these old men so that they shall not be obliged to die in penury. Might I, as regards the question of pensions, once more point out another reason why these should be granted to widows? This is because I think it will be agreed by everybody who knows the Navy that it is most desirable to encourage marriage, and early marriage, among the blue-jackets. They are men who pass a very severe medical test, they lead a healthy life and are well looked after, and I think I am not wrong in saying that the men of the lower deck are the flower of our race. Therefore it is most desirable that marriage among these men should be encouraged, and I think that is perhaps a reason why their Lordships might consider that this claim should be conceded. The only other thing I want to say about the subject of pay is that the pay of the junior ranks does not seem to me to have been sufficiently raised. If my right hon. Friend will turn 1666 to page 10 of the Officers' Paper he will find that the pay of sub-lieutenants and the junior ranks is indeed very low.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
There are two ways of looking at it. The one is that a young officer in the Navy is not usually married, therefore it is considered he does not require the same amount of pay as the older officer who may be married. There is a lot to be said for that, but nevertheless there is another side to it. There is the question of the future. I hope we are going to see many more men promoted from the ranks in the Navy, and if that is the case they do need adequate money with which to support their position with dignity and honour. These men will not have private means, as so many officers of the Navy have, and for that reason I think it is a pity that the pay of the lower ranks of officers has not been increased. It was low before the War, and was admitted to be low. But to-day the cost of living has doubled. We hope it is going down, but it has at least doubled. That being so, in sheer equity the pay should have been doubled too. Therefore, while congratulating the Admiralty on the bold step it has taken, I desire to call attention to these two points. Furthermore, I hope that no attempt will be made in the future to cut out the separation allowances, otherwise the men who are married on the lower deck would be very hard hit. May I remind my right hon. Friend that the man before the mast in the Merchant Service is at present earning £14 10s. a month, and that pay is not likely to go down. I think the bluejacket in the Navy, with his high training, should be equally paid, and the men feel this too. Now, with the separation allowance, a married man in the Navy, taking into consideration his other advantages, compares favourably with the seaman in the Merchant Service. I am allowing for his free doctoring, and the fact that when he is not working he is paid, whereas the other is not. But if the separation allowance is cut out in the future, the man in the Navy will compare badly with the man before the mast in the Merchant Service, and next time there is a Board meeting perhaps my right hon. Friend will put that view, if he has not already done so, before his colleagues.
Another point that has not been touched upon in the House is the question of the 1667 warrant officer. Now, the right hon. Gentleman will agree with me, I am sure, that the warrant officers of the Navy are the backbone of the Service. That is a truism in the Navy, and I think it will be agreed to by everyone in this House. The warrant officers deserve very well from the State, and at the present time they have to go too long a period before they are promoted. Now, too long a time in one rank is a bad thing. At the present time it is possible for a warrant officer to be twenty-five years in the same rank. Well, that sort of thing kills ambition; it makes a man discontented, and he gets into a rut. It is no good for the Service, because it does not encourage smart youngsters to enter the Navy. I think that all warrant officers ought to get a stop in rank and should be made chief warrant officers after a period of, say, eight years, if there has been no misconduct, and I think that if a warrant officer has put in fifteen years' service—and personally I should prefer to make it twelve—he should be promoted to lieutenant. If a man has taken eight years to reach the rank of warrant officer, and if he has done twelve years in that capacity I think myself he deserves a commission.
Now may I have the First Lord's attention for a moment to touch on a matter that has not been dealt with as yet in this Debate, and I would want to deal with it very briefly, because it affects the City of Hull, which I have the honour to represent. That is the future of the trawlers and drifters which have been built for the Admiralty. As my right hon. Friend is aware, over 300 magnificent trawlers and 150 drifters are available for service. These are being reconditioned and they will be presently returned to the fishing industry in one way or another. Now the Admiralty Reconstruction Department have the admirable notion that the skippers and the crews of our mine-sweeping trawlers and anti-submarine trawlers during the War should have the first choice of these ships—that they should have the chance of acquiring them. I think everyone will agree that that is an admirable thing. Let me point out the the fishing industry of this country is in a very healthy state. A great many of the ships are running on a profit-sharing basis and have been so for many years, the skipper and the crew having a share in the takings. They are hard-working men, men 1668 of desperate courage and high honour, as this War has proved. They have been a godsend to this country, and without them we could not have beaten the submarine. The fishing industry should not be unfairly competed with. I think the First Lord will admit that. Therefore any suggestion of forming a subsidised company with a Government subsidy, which will be practically controlled from the Admiralty, means that there will be a danger of that unfair competition. I say that competing with the fishing industry in this way would be a national danger, and I hope that it will not come about. But the suggestion has been made. If skippers can get credits, and I think most decent men can, and money can be advanced on easy terms, they can purchase their boats and possibly form themselves into little companies to carry on the industry. Well, that is a thoroughly healthy thing. But if you are going to try and run an Admiralty fishing industry from the Admiralty, although you may give a number of very interesting jobs to a certain number of retired or not retired officers who would otherwise have to go out to sea, I do not think it would be a good thing for the country, and there is also a feeling among many of the skippers themselves that they have had enough naval discipline during the War and do not want it in peace time. They are men of initiative. But there is this idea that there may be some unfair competition from Government subsidised fishing companies.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
At the same time, we all agree, I think, that these men should be given the chance of acquiring these vessels on fair and just terms, and I hope it will be possible for my right hon. Friend to make a short declaration on this matter, because it will relieve the minds of very many excellent citizens of the town of Hull, and will be highly satisfactory to people in other parts of the country.
Before I leave the question of personnel, may I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to see that some nucleus, a very small nucleus is all that is required, is maintained of the women's organisation in the Navy? This War has given birth in its later stages to the Women's Royal Naval Service. The members of that organisation are now being demobilised, and quite rightly too. They were only enrolled to fill a temporary emergency, to save man- 1669 power. But still there is a tremendous lot in tradition, and it will seem a pity it all connection is severed between the Women's Royal Naval Service of to-day and what it may be in the future, if we are ever so unfortunate as to be launched into another war. In that case I think it will be found that we will have again to call on the women to do the clerical and some of the shore-going jobs in the Navy, and if so it will be a. healthy thing if they have some traditions to look back upon, and if they can be told of what was done by their forbears in the Great War 1914–1918.
I entirely agree with what my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for East Leyton has said about the Welfare bodies. I particularly congratulate my right hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary on this real stroke of statesmanship by the Admiralty. It is the finest thing, I think, that the Government has done since the Armistice—the recognition of the men of the lower deck and the taking them into consultation about matters concerning their welfare and seeing into their grievances. It is a splendid thing, and I do hope it is not going to die out. It is thoroughly healthy and real democracy. It helps to preserve discipline, and the men deserve it. Most advanced captains of the Dreadnoughts at The present time have a regular committee of their men, whom they consult on all subjects affecting such things as recreation and the welfare generally of the lower deck. I did it myself for years with excellent results, and I am glad it is being carried on. The same thing should be done in the ports also. Now let me come to the point about the Welfare Committee at the Admiralty. I hope that the Second Sea Lord, who is responsible for the personnel, will add to his Staff as soon as possible a few representative men of the lower deck in an advisory capacity. This is a suggestion which I put forward when I myself was on the Admiralty War Staff for a few weeks in 1917. I do not propose to suggest how these men should be selected, as long as they are in touch with the lower deck and have lived there themselves, and if they are changed once a year or once every two years; men who can advise the Second Sea Lord, and who will be able to see the dockets and write the minutes if required to do so—having a separate sheet if necessary—in order to give the Second Sea Lord, whoever he may be, the lower-deck point of view. If 1670 you get that, the men at sea and the men in the dockyard ports will feel contented; they will know that some of their own fellows are at the Admiralty.
I will now, if I may, say a few words about the distribution of the Fleet. My information here is taken from the "Times" of 5th June, in which the new post-war distribution of the Fleet was given, and I am going to make two criticisms. I believe that this distribution was worked out in a great hurry. It is an unfortunate fact that the matter was not considered before the Armistice. I am sorry to say that one hears as common knowledge afloat—I was in the Fleet at the time, and heard it—that the principle they went on was, What did we do before the War? They looked up the old Navy Lists, saw where the ships were, and made their recommendations on that. I am afraid that is only too true. In the first place, I am going to criticise our reversion to the nucleus crew system. The nucleus crew system was originated by Lord Fisher to meet an emergency, namely, the challenge to our far-flung sea power by the concentrated German Fleet in 1906. The disadvantages of that system were admitted by Lord Fisher and by the Naval Staff. With any nucleus crew system there is a falling off in the efficiency of the personnel and in the efficiency of the Fleet, and it should not be reverted to except in case of emergency. It is better to have the ships in the dockyard reserve, where they can be well looked after, or else in full commission. It is better to have fewer ships in full commission than to have many of these nucleus crew ships. In the nucleus crew ships the men are overworked, and they are not really efficient. Altogether it is a bad system, and I am sorry the Admiralty have gone back to it, and I believe the Navy also is sorry. I tell the First Lord what the officers and men say at sea, that the reason for the inclusion of nucleus crew ships in the Home Fleet is that you have two admirals' billets, and that is why the system commends itself, namely, because there are two more jobs for flag officers afloat.
§ Mr. LONG
I am very sorry to interrupt the hon. and gallant Gentleman, but I do not think that is correct. I can assure him that the redistribution of the Fleet was not based on hard and fast rules arrived at before the War. I am speaking now from my own personal knowledge, which is the result of most exhaustive inquiries. Nobody would have nucleus crews 1671 if they could help it. But if you are limited as to the number of men, which governs everything in the Fleet, the advice given to me certainly is not in concurrence with the view that it. would be better to have a smaller number of ships in full commission and no nucleus crews than to have the present system, which, whatever its drawbacks may be, does give what is required, namely, in peace time a Fleet which can be easily expanded in war time, and the crews made up to their full complement.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman, and I assure him that I did not make that statement in any spirit of banter. It is the common talk of the Fleet that the system was introduced again because it means more jobs for admirals. I hope that that is really not even a sub-conscious reason, but I must repeat that it is the opinion afloat, though possibly it may not be known to the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. LONG
The hon. and gallant Member really must not say these things. The First Lord of the Admiralty is not dependent upon the advice given by the Naval Lords. I have the privilege of seeing the commanders-in-chief, all flag officers, and every captain when he comes to London. They all pay visits to the Admiralty. I see every flag officer, all the senior officers and many of the junior officers. The opinions which I express here on behalf of the Navy are not derived from my advisers at the Admiralty, but are the result of constant interviews and discussions between myself and flag officers of all grades, and officers below flag rank.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
The right hon. Gentleman did not allow me to finish. I was saying that when men and money are limited it is better in every way for efficiency, and I think in the long run for economy, to have more ships in full commission, and do away with nucleus crew ships. It is better for efficiency and for saving money and wear and tear of ships. That is a widely held view. I know that the First Lord does consult with everyone with whom he comes in contact, and is very open to listen to views, and for that reason I ask him to listen to this view of mine, which is very widely held at sea, that it is better to have fewer of these nucleus crew ships, or none at all when normal conditions return.
1672 The next point about the redistribution of the Fleet is the question of the Mediterranean Fleet. Before the War the position, as we all know, was that we were faced with a possible hostile combination of Austria, Italy, and Germany, which we might have to be prepared to tackle. Under those circumstances, with possibly hostile Italian and Austrian fleets in the Mediterranean, our interests in the Mediterranean were guarded by a battle-cruiser squadron and an armoured-cruiser squadron. We had, I think, three battle-cruisers and four armoured-cruisers, together with supplementary ships. The position now is that the Austrian fleet has disappeared, and the Italian fleet is our Ally, while never have two nations been so closely bound together as the British Empire and the French Republic, and the French fleet is in all its glory, practically untouched in the Mediterranean. Yet at this moment, we are sending to the Mediterranean, according to the newspaper reports which I have, six battleships, six light-cruisers, and a destroyer flotilla.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
We have several battleships in the Mediterranean now. There is the Mediterranean battle squadron. At the present moment the Turkish fleet has disappeared, and the Russian Black Sea fleet is negligible. Therefore the only reason is to guard British interests, and the subsidiary reason that the Mediterranean is an excellent training ground for the Fleet. British interests in the Mediterranean, as things are at present, with friendly Italian and French fleets and no other fleets at all, could be adequately guarded by a cruiser squadron. As regards training the officers and men of the Fleet, it would be much better to send the squadrons of the Home Fleet in turn to the Mediterranean for a cruise in the winter They could then do their gunnery practices in the good weather out there, and do their training by turns. You would not have the added expense of a battle fleet in the Mediterranean, with all the expense of sending stores out and keeping up large dockyard establishments at Malta and Gibraltar, and you would avoid keeping four or five thousand men separated from their families for two or three years. I consider that that Mediterranean fleet is unduly "large. It is not strategically correct to have it there, because the strategic 1673 danger-points now are in the Pacific and the Atlantic, and that is where the Fleet ought to be. Our flag would be shown with dignity and honour in the Mediterranean by a cruiser squadron, and you would gain the advantage of an excellent training ground in Southern waters by sending one battle squadron in turn each winter, while you would get the educational advantages for the men as well. I commend that in the most friendly way to my right hon. Friend. It is a constructive criticism; it would save money, afford a better strategic distribution of the Fleet, and be more just and more pleasing to the men, and I think also that it would foe better for the whole efficiency of the Navy.
With regard to Staff organisation, I am sure my right hon. Friend is fully alive to the need for an improved Naval Staff in the future, and I think he understands that our Staff organisation was not what it should have been before the War, or in fact during the War. May I remind him of the fact that the essence of efficient Staff organisation is the separation of operations from administration, of the planning part from the executive. That is borne out by the great German writers, Shellemdorf and Moltke, and I would also recommend to my right hon. Friend Marshal Foch's work on "Staff and Command," in which the necessity of completely separating administration from operations is pointed out. The people who are engaged in the executive details of administration must be separated from the people who are thinking out policy and the plans ahead. That is the essence of the whole thing. This is well understood by a large school in the Navy, but, unfortunately, it is not so well understood by the senior people in the Navy who carry the greatest number of guns, if I may use that expression, at the present moment. I entirely support the view of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Maidstone as. regards the necessity of having the Naval Staff work in close co-operation with the Army and the Air Force General Staffs. That particularly applies to the college where the young idea is taught its Staff work. It is in the work done by the young officers when they first become Staff officers or first go through a Staff course in their early days that the foundations of future policy, and, let us hope, of future victories, are laid. The position has been taken up that the Staff College, which is 1674 the most important thing in the Navy, will in future be at Greenwich. That is a mistake. Greenwich is not a suitable place for the War Staff College. For one thing it is too far from Camberley; for another thing it is too near London. It has all the disadvantages of being near London and none of the advantages of being right in London. If you are right in London, you want to get away from it; if you are near, you want to go to it; and I am afraid that one of the arguments was that the senior officers might like to be near London, and Camberley was too far away. That is a blunder which I hope will be corrected. The Naval Staff College should beat Camberley, and in easy and close touch with the Army and Air Force colleges, because you want exchange of ideas between the young officers of the three branches. They should be together, know each other, talk together. It is the clash of minds which is so useful in the early days of these young men's careers. In connection with the Staff training, I want to commend to the right hon. Gentleman the suggestion that every officer who does a course of Naval War Staff training should do three weeks or a month of it in a class in one of our big industrial cities like Manchester or Liverpool, studying the exchange and finance part, which should be part of the training of everyone who is going to do Staff work for the Higher Command. That will have the advantage that officers will get into touch with a very important class of, citizens, namely, the English business men of the North and the Midlands, with whom, unfortunately, the naval officers of the past, before this War, have not been sufficiently in contact.
The question of airships concerns the Admiralty, and I should like to ask the First Lord to give pause before he proceeds to relate the programme of airship building. These airships cost £350,000 each, and there are great sheds which will be of doubtful value in the future. The reason is that aeroplanes and seaplanes arc advancing in efficiency so rapidly that an airship will have about as much chance with the aeroplane as a sailing ship has to-day with a cruiser. The analogy is this—that the sailing ship was useful for a certain time, and then it became obsolete, and this is the same as the airship, which, I believe, will be dead in spite of a non-inflammable gas or any other improvements. Therefore I do beg the right hon. Gentleman not to spend too much money on airship building programmes. The 1675 money should be spent rather on aeroplanes. There is little enough money, and it should be laid out to the best advantage. I do not think of the airships from the military point of view. People on airships are naturally keen on their weapons, but unfortunately the Admiralty is responsible for airships, and the Air Minister for aeroplanes, and therefore the airship schools have an unfair pull in the councils of war at the Admiralty. The First Lord should weigh up these points and consult with all the branches of the sea service—particularly the Navy—with regard to which is the best investment for the country's money. I throw this out as a helpful suggestion.
The Navy in the past has had great traditions. It has been an instrument for ensuring the freedom of the seas. Its exploits against Spain, Napoleon, and the freeing of the slaves, will live in history. It is also a Service in which discipline and moral are particularly fine. The discipline of the Navy is good through all the ranks from the highest to the lowest, for they all do their best to work for the safety and the honour of the Realm. Because of that, those at the head of the Navy should be particularly careful of the use made of it. I am not going into too great details. My right hon. Friend will know what I mean. There is a not over-strong fleet in danger i in the Eastern Baltic at the present moment, and I wish with all the earnestness I can to give this public warning to my right hon. Friend. The Navy there has to be in more than one place at once. They were in the unfortunate position in the War with Germany of never knowing when the fleet was coming out, and I assure the right hon. Gentleman that the shooting of the enemy fleet is as good as the German fleet was in the War. Officers who fought the Germans in the Bight assure me that the gunnery we are up against now is every bit as good as was that of the German shooting. That squadron must be sufficient. It must not be overworked, and above all, I hope the policy which sent it there, and which is keeping it there, is a policy which will bear investigation, and a policy which squares with the great and high traditions of the Royal Navy, which has proved such a sure shield in the past.
§ Sir A. WILLIAMSON
I should like to join with the previous speakers in the praise of the service of the Navy. But I 1676 think it would be a pity if this Debate were to pass without reference to the service to the country by the fishermen. I suppose that until this War neither the country nor the Admiralty fully realised the dependence of the nation on the service of our fishermen for our defence. Their seamanship, their bravery in facing risks—all the more terrible because they were unseen—is beyond praise, and I only regret that in that great procession the other day when, amongst those who passed along, none receiving more cheers and applause than the merchant seamen, there was not a distinct and definite section of our fishermen.
I should like to call the attention of those who represent the Admiralty to one or two points in connection with the fisherman branch—as it may be called—of our naval administration. There are several complaints made by our fishermen which, I think, largely arose from misunderstanding, and it would be as well if I, who am one of the members representing a fishing constituency, were to state in this House some of the comments and, shall I say, complaints, or, at any rate, want of information, which exists amongst the fishermen as to the attitude of the Admiralty on various points. The first thing to which I direct the attention of the representative of the Navy is the question of the repair of the fishing boats and the return of those fishing boats to the fishermen. There are on various parts of the coast, and particularly at Lochness, a considerable number of steam drifters lying up with only a caretaker in charge, while there are at the same time fishermen in the fishing ports anxious to get the boats whereby to follow their calling and to supply the country with food. I understand that the Admiralty is returning these boats to the fishermen after having put them in a state fit for service, but that the Admiralty find difficulty in overtaking the work of repairing these boats, and rapidly conditioning them again for trade and returning them to the fishermen with that promptitude we would all desire. I should be glad if we could have an explanation as to the course, procedure and means to expedite the conditioning and return of the boats to their usual service, because disquieting rumours exist that as much as a year will elapse before all these boats will be returned. It is said that all available means are not being taken to hurry on the reconditioning. We 1677 will be told, I hope, that inquiries will be made and steps taken more rapidly, and on a greater scale, to recondition them. It seems to me a misfortune that we should have these boats lying idle and the fishermen idle while the country would only be too willing to have the produce of the sea.
The allocation of the boats by the Government during the War were to serve as drifters and patrol boats, and I should like to ask the Government, in regard to the allocation of new boats to fishermen, to consider all classes of fishermen, and especially those who, in their loyalty and haste to serve their country, did not wait to join the Royal Naval Reserve, but hastened into regiments of Infantry. Now they come back and may find that as they have not been acting as sailors during the War they are not equally qualified for joining with others in the purchasing of some of these boats. I hope I may receive a reply to the effect that their claims will be considered equally with the fishermen who served in the Navy. I hope the Government will go as far as possible to make the conditions such as the fishermen can accept in regard to the payment for these boats. It is quite clear we cannot treat this as an ordinary case of selling off salvage. These fishermen deserve consideration beyond that, perhaps, due to any other class in the community. They are comparatively poor men, although many of them have some means, and their honesty is known, and I think their ability to pay has been proven by the scores and hundreds of times they have built boats on advances and have paid off all advances to those who lent the money. Consequently, the Government will, I hope, go as far as they possibly can towards making these conditions easy.
Another point I should like to bring to the attention of the right hon. Gentleman is one connected with demobilisation. I have heard the complaint made that some of the fishermen have been demobilised, and that their pay from the Government has ceased, while their boats are still held up by the Government either in service or waiting for reconditioning. Now, it is a very hard position for a fisherman to be demobilised—a fisherman with a wife and family to support—without having the means of carrying on because his boat is held up. It may be said it is impossible for the Government to deliver the boats 1678 because they cannot get through the work with sufficient rapidity. I think, in that case, means should be taken for the fisherman to have some remuneration to keep going until his boat is returned. Questions have been raised as to the delay in settling claims—especially claims to gratuities. But the complaint has been made and questions have been put to me frequently as to why there should be such difficulty and so much delay in obtaining a settlement of the financial matters in which the fisherman who has been demobilised is interested.
I would like to call attention to another matter. Many of these fishermen belong to boats which, at the outbreak of the War, were chartered by a Government Department. Most of them so chartered were either used on patrol work or on boom defence. At a later date, as I understand it, these boats and their crews were transferred from the chartered basis and were made part of the Royal Naval Reserve, or at any rate a more formal part of the Navy. Now comes the question of gratuity, and it seems that the position is that the date of their service for gratuity only counts from the time when they were transferred from one department to the other, and that the months and years during which they served on equally dangerous work, equally serving their country, are not to count for gratuity. If that is correct, I do not think it is just. These men were running the same risk, whether they were serving one department of the Government or the other, and their service for gratuity ought to count from the date of the commencement of their service of the Government afloat in any capacity whatever.
I wish to draw the attention of the Admiralty to the question of the recruiting for the Royal Naval Reserve, and to ask whether they are now recruiting for that Reserve, and if so what sort of success they are having. I refer particularly to the fishermen, but also to the merchant seamen. I should be glad if the Government could tell us whether, in view of the great services rendered by the merchant seamen and the fishermen during the War, they are taking any steps to mate the Royal Naval Reserve even a more popular service than it was amongst these men before the War. It does seem to me that we have come to realise now, as we have never realised before, what an immense 1679 service can be rendered to the country in case of danger both by the Merchant Service and the fishermen. If that service is recognised, as I think it is, we ought to take more active steps than we have ever done before to render the service of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve attractive both to the fishermen and merchant seamen. I hope, in his reply, the right hon. Gentleman may be able to say something as to the attitude of the Government towards this very important aid to our naval defences.
§ Mr. HOHLER
I desire to congratulate the Admiralty upon the improved pay and conditions of service in the Navy. I quite admit that there are matters in regard to which some further improvement is asked for, and indeed required, but I confess that in my judgment, and probably it is true to say in the whole history of the Navy, the Admiralty have never acted on any previous occasion as they have done on this. I believe I express the feelings of the men in His Majesty's Navy when I say that they greatly appreciate what has been done. I am not going to follow those speakers who have already dealt with the question as to from what date the new rates of pay should commence. I agree that the 1st October would be preferable, and I think there are good reasons for that, but at the same time I do not think that this is the essential point on which improvement is still asked for. One of the two great points arc the question of the increase of pensions to pensioners now on the roll. A new scale of pensions has been given to pensioners called up to serve during the War, and I think that that scale at once in itself demands that something should have been done for the old pensioners on the roll. I quite agree there is force in the argument which the Admiralty use, namely, that the difficulty is that directly you touch existing pensions you have to consider them from every point of service, not only in the Navy but in the Army and also in the Civil Service. I agree that that is perfectly true, but I do not for one moment admit that it in any wise allows the Admiralty to escape from their obligations to the men who have served them in their Department, and I would point out that the arguments which they should have urged and which are cogent with regard to the old pensioners are these. First of all, under the Old Age Pensions Act, 1680 so far as it was an administrative matter, the Government have granted an increased old age pension. They did so on the ground that the expense of living had gone up to such an extent that it was impossible to suppose that industrious men who had got the old age pension could live on that which they received. Surely, that is equally true of those who have served the Crown in the Navy? But they have not stopped there. Those who went to pension because they received a wound got an increased scale of pension. Why not these pensioners on the roll? The Government have not stopped there. We passed an Act in this House, in 1917, compulsorily compelling all employers who had had servants injured in their employ, and to whom they were paying compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Act, to increase that compensation by a matter of 25 per cent. The Government have done that, and they have, therefore, set up a universal rule. They have recognised in every respect that these pensions were inadequate. They have, by Act of Parliament, compelled civilians to increase the pension in the case of wounds or injuries in industry. They have increased the amount in regard to old age pensions, and also in reference to those wounded in previous wars, yet they refuse to do so in this particular case. One of the great requests on the whole of the body of the men in the Navy is that these pensions should be increased, as they are wholly inadequate, and were intended, when originally granted, to keep them out of poverty and to enable them to get along and lead a decent life. Though I fully recognise what has been done, I do not decry it in the least, and the men appreciate the extension of the Greenwich age pension, which is, at any rate, an advance, yet it does not generally meet the case of these men and provide them with adequate subsistence. I hope the Admiralty will do something on this point; if so it will be a source of the greatest possible pleasure to the Navy. They attach the utmost importance to this, though they will not benefit by it themselves, and think more of it than they do of the question whether the pay is antedated to the 1st October or not.
The only other point is a very important one. It is the question of pensions to the widows of men in the Navy. It should be realised by this Committee—I think I am right in saying this, though I am subject to correction—that the widows of every commissioned and every warrant officer in 1681 the Navy are entitled to a pension. Why is it, when you come to anybody below the rank of a warrant officer in the Navy, that his widow gets no pension at all? It is not right. You will not be introducing any innovation by remedying this, you will merely be extending what already exists, and what you realise is right in regard to the higher ranks of the Navy, in respect to everybody down to a warrant officer. We all know promotion is so slow in the Navy that it is difficult for a man to attain that rank. That is the whole difficulty, and I urge the right hon. Gentleman to see what can be done. I am sure, if he made inquiry among the lower ranks of the Navy as to whether, in order to obtain this great advantage, they would be willing to con-tribute out of their pay towards a scheme which would provide pensions for these widows and orphans in case of their death, he would receive the response, "Yes, we will." I invite him to take this step.
I should like my right hon. Friend to make some statement as to what steps the Admiralty are taking to get back the dockyard apprentices from the Army. I hope he will give some answer to-night as to what he is doing or what he intends to do. Many of these young fellows were kept back because they are considered so important. They were subsequently called up, and I should like to know what is being done to get them back, because the loss of these years of training, where they are well advanced in their apprenticeship, is a matter of very great importance to them and is creating very considerable unrest in the borough I have the honour to represent. Then there is the question which has been agitated for the last fifteen or twenty years, and the Committee may be familiar with it, with regard to the title of the old "carpenter" in the Navy. For something like fifteen or twenty years they have been agitating for a change of the title from the name of "carpenter" to that of "constructive officer." An actual inquiry by vote was made among these men as to whether they would accept the name of "commissioned shipwright." They refused; everyone was against such a change, and they all rejected it. The whole matter came before Admiral Hyde Parker, and, after a careful inquiry, he reported in favour of the change, and that, instead of the name "carpenter," it should be "constructive officer." Everybody would have supposed that, in these circumstances, after a careful inquiry by an Admiral appointed for that purpose, that 1682 name would have been sanctioned, but, notwithstanding, the Admiralty ultimately issued an order giving these men the title of "commissioned shipwright" or "shipwright lieutenant." Not one of them wished for it; they all objected to it; they all object to it now, and yet they cannot get that wrong righted. I have been carefully into it, and I have raised it with my right hon. Friend, and he held out hope 'to me that it would be granted and the matter was not closed. The Admiralty still adhere to their decision to thrust upon these men the title of "commissioned shipwright" and "shipwright-lieutenant," a title which they did not ask for, and they will not grant them the title of "constructive officer" which was reported favourably upon by Admiral Hyde Parker's Commission. Now that the matter has been thoroughly discussed, I find that the wholes thing is held up by the naval constructors, so that you have now in the Admiralty a civil Department, the great Department of architecture, holding up the change of the name of men who are of executive rank and an active service rating in the Navy. That the Report of an admiral appointed to inquire into this subject should be hung up by a purely civilian body seems to me really monstrous, and I do ask my right hon. Friend to see that this is put an end to. The nearest resemblance they can find to the name is that they have got in the dockyards a constructive department. How can that possibly conflict with the constructive officer on one of His Majesty's ships? He is an active service rating. The only other resemblance they have got in name is that there are some people called constructors. Nobody could confuse that with the name of constructive officer, and, as I have pointed out, one is a civilian department and the other an active service rating, recognised and long known in the Navy. Those who pass to naval constructors were trained as shipwrights, and those who pass into the Navy were trained as shipwrights. Why should those who rise in an active service rating not be called constructive officers? They are truly constructive officers. They have rendered magnificent service in the present War. They have been highly commended for saving endless vessels in the sea after being blown up by enemy mines, torpedoes, or guns. I submit that they are most clearly entitled to that which Admiral Hyde Parker reported they should have, and the only reason it has been 1683 turned down by the Admiralty is because this civilian Department says they cannot have it. They ought not to have been asked. What have they got to do with it? I do ask my right hon. Friend to correct this complaint, which has been insistent, and will continue. It is causing unrest among the men. I have urged the change of name for years, yet now, when the change comes, he has thrust upon these men a name for which they never asked and to which they specifically object.
I wish to deal with one or two points with reference to the position of the Royal Naval Reserve. My right hon. Friend the Member for Moray and Nairn (Sir A. Williamson) referred to the particular interests of the fishermen section of the Royal Navy. On the West Coast of Scotland we have a very large number of fishermen in the Royal Naval Reserve. It has always been a very popular service with the young men of the Western Isles, and I hope it will ever remain so. I think it will be admitted that these men did good service during the War in every department of the Navy, and, therefore, I make no apology for saying one or two words on their behalf this evening. So far as I can make out, as regards the Jerram Report, I assume the pay of the men of the Royal Naval Reserve on service will rise automatically with the same ratings in the regular Service, but, so far as I can make out from the Report, nothing is to be done for them in the matter of increasing the retainer or the gratuity. In view of the services these men have rendered, and will render in future, and in order to make this Service more attractive in the future than it has been in the past—because I think it will be, perhaps, a little more difficult to get recruits in the years to come, especially if the conditions are not made more attractive—and from the point of view of justice to these men, I think it would be little enough if the retainer, which is given to members of the Royal Naval Reserve, should have been raised in proportion to the improvements in the pay and other emoluments in the regular Service. It will be necessary to do so in order to encourage recruiting in years to come. So far as I can understand, the Jerram Report does not touch these very important items in the financial reward given to the fishermen and sailors who join the Royal Naval Reserve, and I hope the naval authorities will see that something 1684 is done in that direction to improve the conditions of the men in the Royal Naval Reserve.
I should like to support my right hon. Friend in his plea for the fishermen who have been serving in the Royal Naval Reserve. I saw some time ago that the Admiralty were preparing a scheme for helping fishermen in the Naval Reserve and the trawler section when they went back to civil life. I understood that that scheme was to be published, but I have not seen it appear yet. I hope it will appear before the speech of the Secretary for War is published. I should like to see the scheme published, for, apart from the recognition which it would give of the services these men rendered in the War, it would make the Service much more attractive, and it would make recruiting easier, because if the men are compelled to go into boats, in which they will be employed all the year round, it will not be possible for them to do their drill, whereas if they are-fishermen on their own hook, so to speak, it will be much easier to perform the necessary drill. In any case, I think the Admiralty ought to encourage men who have been serving during the War in every possible way to have boats of their own. I do not think the Admiralty would lose any money by a scheme of this sort, and, if so, I hope they will make a fair allocation of the boats, and that the West Coast will not be forgotten. There is one little matter which I came across to which I wish to draw attention, and that is the case of men discharged as medically unfit within a few days or a week or two of the time when they would have qualified for the gratuity. I have three or four cases in mind which have recently come within my purview. One or two particularly hard, where, if the medical authorities of the Navy had left the men for a few days more in the Navy, they would have attained their twenty years' service and qualified for the gratuity.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
Does my hon. Friend suggest that these cases were discharged because they were getting near the time of the completion of service?
I would not make a charge like that. I do not know. I would not make a charge of that sort against any officer in the Navy. I am simply stating the facts. But I should have thought, although they did not—at least I do not suggest it—positively discharge 1685 the men because they were getting towards the gratuity that they might, at least, have had sufficient imagination and sympathy to remember that if they allowed these men to remain for a few more days in the Navy they would have got their £50—these men who had served just upon the twenty years! It was very remiss on the part of the authorities responsible. I would not for a moment suggest that they did it deliberately. On the other hand I suggest that there was a certain amount of what I may call criminal neglect. If it can be proved that men physically in the condition I have stated have been discharged as medically unfit within a few days or even a few weeks of the time they would have qualified for gratuity, does not the right hon. Gentleman think it would be very mean on the part of the Navy and not in keeping I should say with the spirit and tradition of the Navy—unintentionally, I admit—to rob—I am sorry to use the word—these men of their £50 by this method? If such eases as those are brought to the notice of the right hon. Gentleman, I hope he will deal with them sympathetically.
§ Captain W. BENN
I desire to raise a somewhat large question of policy relating to the construction of airships. Although I recognise the great authority in certain aspects of naval matters of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, it is not he who has charge of shaping the policy of the Admiralty.
§ Captain BENN
As a member of the Board the right hon. Gentleman, of course, has his full weight of influence. Before I conclude my remarks I trust the First Lord himself will be present, especially as notice has been given that this subject will be raised, and seeing also that this is a matter of direct policy concerning the Board of Admiralty. Let me explain what it is. At the present time there is a programme of airships. The right hon. Gentleman opposite has been good enough privately to give me figures. There are six big airships being built at a total cost of over £2,000,000. These are being built by the Admiralty, and under the control of the Board of Admiralty. They are being manned—I am not quite sure of this—by the Air Force personnel, or by the Admiralty personnel. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will tell me?
§ Captain BENN
I wish to make it quite clear that I have received nothing but courtesy from the right hon. Gentleman, but the First Lord of the Admiralty, when I ventured to ask him to make a statement on the subject, brushed the whole matter aside and refused to deal with it; so that the Committee will not lay it to my charge if I had not got all the information that I ought to have for this purpose. There are, I repeat, six airships being built at a cost of £2,000,000, and being manned, my right hon. Friend thinks, by Admiralty personnel.
§ Captain BENN
Well, the right hon. Gentleman thinks so. The contention of those who have had any experience of the Air Service of all parties—for, of course, this is not in the slightest sense a party matter, and they are unanimous in this matter—is that everything that flies in the air should be under one control. The hon. and gallant Gentleman has had the distinction of being Pilot No. 1, and whoso authority in the matter of the air no one-is entitled to question, agrees with me, and so, I think, does every Member of this House who has served in the Air Force. Everyone with experience in air matters is unanimous that everything that goes in the air should be under one control. I make bold to say that in the early days of the War divided control was one of the causes of our failure to secure mastery of the air at the time when we ought to have had it. I am very anxious, and everybody who has experience of the air, is anxious that everything that goes in the air should be under one control. This is a fundamental principle, both as regards construction, manning, and operations. What is the reason? The right hon. Gentleman says that everybody is agreed.
§ Captain BENN
Then the right hon. Gentleman says everybody is not agreed. I shall be very glad to give him my experience, which is only the experience of everybody who has had practical experience of the Air Service. One of the great mistakes made by the first Coalition Government was that they did not unify the Air Service in 1915, or we should have had the Germans beaten in the air much sooner than we did. Why is it absolutely essen- 1687 tial that you should not have two Departments of the Government both constructing air parts? The reason is perfectly obvious. The Department over which the right hon. Gentleman presides, in the olden days, used to go into the market and compete for the same engine with the Department presided over by the Secretary of State for War. I know cases—everybody knows them—where the manufacturer had bids from the War Office and the Admiralty for the same machine. Very wisely he made the beet bargain he could. But is it not ridiculous that you should have two Departments of the same customer competing for one article? Yet the right hon. Gentleman opposite says that everybody is not agreed that they ought not to exist.
§ Captain BENN
Well, if the right hon. Gentleman did not say anything of the kind he interjected a remark to that effect?
§ Captain BENN
The right hon. Gentleman when I put a question this afternoon did not concede to me the right of interpolating while he was speaking. I am very anxious now to have the advantage of his opinion. He is now denying the principle which has been repeatedly affirmed in this House by members of the Government. We know we have no Cabinet. The whole system has broken down. But it is a most extraordinary thing that the Secretary of State for War of this House should assert the principle, which is not questioned for a moment, of an undivided control of air matters, while the right hon. Gentleman opposite tells us that, so far from it being unquestioned, it is a highly debateable point.
§ Captain BENN
Then what does the right hon. Gentleman say. I do not know. The Committee must judge.
§ Captain BENN
I lay it down that the unanimous opinion of all those competent to form an opinion is that everything that flies in the an should be under one control. I understood that that was the policy of the Government. If it is not the policy of the Government perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will say so; then we shall have a Debate to see what the opinion of the House of Commons is on the matter. As to materiel, take an airship and an aeroplane. Is it not absurd that you should have two Departments constructing the same thing. The R 34 had the same make of engine as is used in an aeroplane, except, of course, the gasbag, which is of a totally different material, and there is not much in that point. As regards the war equipment of an airship, it is very similar to the equipment of an aeroplane. You have the machine guns, the bombs, and the releases, a set of photographic apparatus, and the like, and I think it is an uneconomical and thoroughly bad system under which you have the Admiralty and the Air Ministry both constructing the same thing. I understand that that had been abandoned, and that it was one of the four points upon which the second Coalition Government was formed. I should have thought the matter was so clear that it did not need to be elaborated, and you ought to have one Department and not two to control ail things that fly. With regard to the use of these things, even for war, you should have a unified control. There is no difference in many respects between the work done by an airship and an aeroplane. Take some of the things we are most backward in, such as correct bombing and aerial gunnery. Aerial gunnery is in its infancy, and two persons go and fire point-blank at one, and that is the state into which we have got. The airship affords the most direct means of making experiments and progress in aerial gunnery, and yet the airship is under one control and the aeroplane is under another Department.
Take the question of the Davies gun. That has been experimented with in aeroplanes, but the airship is a better platform for it. Now the right hon. Gentleman is going to make those experiments, and the thing is absurd, and this is a very highly reactionary step in the policy of the Government. I do not want to elaborate this point, because anyone who has been in the air agrees that the whole thing should come under one control. Take 1689 photography. The difficulty of working photography in an aeroplane is very great because of the speed, the rush of air, and the quick movement of the machine, and the constrained state in which you work. If it does not work it is very difficult to put right, whilst in an airship you have much more room, and you can walk about, and therefore you can make experiments in photography in an airship which you cannot make in an aeroplane. We get one right hon. Gentleman controlling the aeroplane, and another the airship, and consequently the benefit of united experience is wasted.
With regard to the manufacture and use of airships it is absurd that there should be division of control. I have been speaking of these machines as war weapons. I understand that this kind of aircraft is being arranged entirely to carry as their load war munitions, and they are not being fitted to carry commercial loads, and the whole arrangement is being made so that they can carry munitions for offensive or defensive purposes. I think it is folly to spend these enormous sums on the provision of a war weapon which has been proved a failure. Everybody knows that as a fighting weapon the Zeppelin is a failure because of its gigantic size, and of its lack of power of manœuvre, and, most of all, because any scout which can get near it and put a tracer into it sets it on fire and destroys it. If you are spending £2,000,000 upon airships of this kind for war purposes, I think that is a policy which this Committee should never sanction.
Now I turn to a really much more important side of the question, which is the civilian use of this craft. Everybody knows that the airship possesses certain great advantages over the aeroplane. It possesses much greater endurance and a much greater lifting power. It can stop easily, alter its speed, and all these qualities give it very great advantages. It can be navigated in bad weather, and can grope its way to its moorings, while under similar conditions the aeroplane is in constant danger For these reasons the airship has got a very great commercial future. I hope the right hon. Gentlemen opposite (Mr. Long and Dr. Macnamara) will give me their attention, as it is not much to ask. It is only the courtesy of debate in this House to do so, and this is just as urgent as any of the grievances which have been raised in debate to-day. 1690 There is no doubt that there is a big commercial future for the airships which can contribute very materially to an advance in aviation, although in its capacity as a war weapon it is of no great importance. Nevertheless, as a means of testing the atmosphere and making experiments in the way of aerial navigation, there is no doubt that the airship has got a very great future before it. In an airship you can carry a very much greater load. You have more convenient conditions, and as regards wireless telegraphy at the beginning of the War the Naval Air Service was a long way ahead of the Royal Flying Corps. As regards aerial navigation or atmospheric navigation, it is quite obvious that in an airship, where you have room to lay your charts and to carry your instruments, you will be able to navigate in a way that is impossible in a small cramped machine going at the rate of 90, 100, or 150 miles an hour. We must, therefore, look to the airship to enable us to make advance in the matter of aerial navigation and to learn something about the meteorological conditions which we have to face. If anyone wants to sail a boat, whoever it may be, however experienced, he is able to get charts which show him exactly what currents he has to expect on the course that he intends to take. Of course, information of that kind collected over many years, and carefully and scientifically collated, is of the greatest value, and, in fact, has been the making of the possibilities of sea navigation.
As regards the air, we are very largely without anything of the kind. For example, we have not the observations for the Atlantic flight. I imagine I am right in saying that there is no collated information about the atmospheric conditions which make for the success or otherwise of the Atlantic flight. It is to the airship that we must look for giving us information of that kind, and for giving the necessary data for the Meteorological Department of the Air Ministry. But the airship is under the control of the right hon. Gentleman and has nothing to do with the Ministry. The right hon. Gentleman would be the first to resent the idea that any part of his Department is under the control of the Air Ministry. We thus see a tendency to divide once again the Air Service, and all the experience which The right hon. Gentleman's Department has collected under the guidance of sailors, who are the very people who can contribute most at this 1691 time to aerial advancement, is not in any way correlated to the work of the Air Ministry. What is the real work from the point of view of national defence or of commercial advantage in the air at the present time? It is not to keep up masses of old or obsolete types; it is to keep this country in the van of scientific knowledge of the air. Therefore, to turn it to practical use, what should be done by the Air Ministry with a unified control should be to make experimental flights over the routes which perhaps are destined to become the postal routes of the world. If you have the airships and the aeroplanes under one control, you may hope to make some advance, but if you have them under separate controls you cannot hope to do so.
Supposing you are making experimental flights for the Egyptian mail, and you have an airship which is going to Taranto and Port Said. If the Air Ministry are testing a big machine with multiple engines over the same route, are they to have separate crews doing the same thing? It is absurd. It is perfectly obvious that to secure the necessary experience and the necessary certainty for these aerial routes you must have everything that flies under one control. I speak with some feeling in this matter. I recognise the very great service that the Admiralty have rendered to the cause of aviation. At the beginning of the War, when the present Secretary of State for War (Mr. Churchill) was at the Admiralty, great advances were made in the way of aviation in the Royal Naval Air Service, but that was succeeded by a period of blight, when, instead of encouraging aviation, the Admiralty did the very reverse. I know what I am speaking of, because I served in the Royal Naval Air Service for some part of the War, and I know that the thing was controlled in some cases by people who had no sympathy and no knowledge. I am an enthusiast, and I hope always to remain an enthusiast, for this country, being in the van in matters of aviation, and I should be very sorry to see that same thing happen again. I do hope when the right hon. Gentleman answers that he will be able to give us some assurance both as regards materiel, personnel, and operations that there will be a unified control of everything that flies in the air.
§ Lieut.-Colonel MOORE-BRABAZON
It is not very often that I agree with my hon. and gallant Friend (Captain W. Benn)—we differed the other day on the question of the protection of such things as chicory and saccharine—but we do agree to-night on the protection of the dear old gas-bag. As the Member for Chatham, I am a believer in the Blue Water School, but I am also a believer in the Blue Sky School, if one may pay such a delicate compliment. To night I want, not to attack the Admiralty, but, I suppose, the Navy. The Admiralty in the matter of aviation appear to me to have done very well, but the whole tradition of the Regular Services, not excluding the Army and the Navy, has been always to be behind the spirit of advancement and always to have it forced upon them. I have reminded the House before that it was upon the initiative of the Aero Club that the pilots in the Navy were taught to fly. There is no doubt, however, that aviation relatively to naval matters did come into its own towards the end of the War, but that was forced upon the Navy by the civilian element in this country in the same way that the tanks were forced upon the military.
I want to say a word with regard to airships in general. We have come rather to the parting of the ways. If we had built these aircraft energetically at the beginning of the War, there is no doubt that they would have rendered very useful service from the point of view of scouting, but we clearly saw that the airship was a very vulnerable thing in war, and, as we know, towards the end of the War no airship dare cross into this country, because it knew that even in the dark it would be destroyed. The only possibility of any future for the airship from the military point of view is the substitution of one of the inert gases for the present highly inflammable gas, but that is a very difficult and expensive matter, and it will be long before we shall see one of those invulnerable airships flying in the air. It is a very curious thing that the Admiralty, through the most amazing obstinacy, has gone on, right through this War, building an airship which clearly was of no use during the War, but now turns out to have a certain use from the commercial point of view. We must remember now that aviation is to be found to be of use to this Empire, and I am serving on a Committee which is to see in what way we can help to link up our 1693 various Dominions by air service. We must remember that aircraft in general have certain advantages over other forms of transit. The first and greatest is that of speed. As soon as that is established, you are straight up against the lack of load you can carry. But even over long routes there is no doubt the airship will compare favourably with big aeroplanes in view of the enormous loads they can carry.
§ Notice taken that forty Members were not present; House counted, and forty Members being found present—
§ Lieut.-Colonel MOORE-BRABAZON
I was just about to conclude my remarks. I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman two questions. The first is, whether he has any news as to the allocation to Great Britain of the big Zeppelins made in Ger-many that have been surrendered to the Allies? Some of these are as good as the latest big airships, and we ought to know as soon as possible what share of them will come to this country. My second question is as to the policy to be taken by the Government with regard to airships in future?
§ 10.0. p.m.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
I want to put one or two questions to the right hon. Gentleman before he replies. He has, I know, a very large number of points to deal with, and I am sure the rest of the time of the Committee can be more usefully occupied by him than by very many others. First of all, I am glad to notice—as far as my observations are worthy of any responsibility at all—that there has been a very marked reduction in personnel, which, after all, is one of the surest tests as to whether the establishment is being maintained at its war height or correspondingly reduced to the position in which we find ourselves today. According to the figures I took down at the time of the Armistice, the personnel of the Navy was 407,000 men. That number has now been reduced to 180,000, as compared with the pre-war standard of 151,000, a difference only, apparently, of 29,000. As far as I can see that is a really satisfactory condition of affairs. It was a pleasant surprise to me when I heard the figures. I am sure the whole Committee was very glad to note that the promise given by the First Lord last November as to the cancellation of contracts for three great battle-cruisers—the "Anson," the "Rodney," and the "Howe"—has been fully carried out, and that the only one really great ship-of-war which has been added to the 1694 strength of the Navy since the Armistice was declared is the ''Hood." Then the First Lord of the Admiralty was good enough, in reply to a question from this side of the House, to give us details of the eighty-four warships which are still under construction. As far as I am concerned, I am unable to criticise that. I will only say I am very glad to notice that with one exception no great battleships are under construction, because, after all, great ships always carry with them ancillary craft, which means a great deal of expenditure both in material and men. When you come down to the cruiser you find that it is necessary they should have many other craft with them. We can deduce from these figures, both of men and of ships, that there has been a real reduction in our Navy.
I wish that one could be as satisfied with regard to the Army. I am not nearly so satisfied there, but I do wish to express my gratification at this obvious, definite and clear sign that the Navy is accommodating itself to the new conditions. My right hon. Friend made a remark which I heard—"As long as sufficient strength is kept up." As far as I am concerned, and whatever may be the case with regard to other arms, I hold very strongly that the very last thing we should reduce is our Navy. We are above all things a sea Power, and if our sea power goes all goes with it. I wish to say briefly one or two things with the understanding that that is the basis of my position. I want to urge upon my right hon. Friend, in so far as he can, consistently with what he conceives to be his public duty, to bear in mind what I am sure all thinking people in the country are bearing in mind, that every opportunity should be taken of reducing as far as possible our expenditure on this branch of our defensive forces. What is happening, as has been already pointed out is—and you cannot rub this in too often—that the German sea 6menace has disappeared, for several years to come at any rate, while America, we are told through the voice of her very able naval representative, Mr. Daniels, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at a private dinner and who I am sure was talking as a responsible spokesman when he said it, "has no desire to rival us, at any rate." They desire, of course, to have adequate protection for America, but, as to competitive rivalry and mastery of the seas, America does not wish to challenge us. In the horizon of politics, at any rate, 1695 we need not fear France or Italy, nor, as far as we know at present, Japan, on the sea. The whole competitive factor has been so far minimised that there is a real opportunity now for the Government to cut down any unnecessary expense and accommodate the strength of our Navy to the new position which we hope will continue for many years. I should like to know, in further support of the position, which happily we can now rely upon, how many cancellations of the shipbuilding programme other than what the Frst Lord gave us have taken place.
There was a friendly understanding reached across the floor of the House between the Leader of the House and myself as to the resubmission of Estimates for our fighting forces. We have had Estimates of a sort with regard to the Army. We have had no detailed Estimates whatsoever of the Navy. It is clearly understood, is it not, that the earliest opportunity will be taken when we reassemble after the vacation to submit Estimates on the old pre-war basis. We shall know what are the effectives from the naval point of view, what battleships are contemplated in construction, and the whole area of what I may call the ancillary craft which will be necessary if those ships are laid down. We all appreciate that the right hon. Gentleman's action in the matter will be dictated by the general policy which is laid down by the Government for the time being. We know the right hon. Gentleman's undertaking will not be broken, and that we shall have the particulars which the country is wanting to know. We want to take stock and find out where we are, because the financial position is of the greatest concern to anyone, man or woman, who thinks consecutively for five minutes on the question, and can only be dealt with in so far as this nation can, consistently with its vital defences—and the Navy is the vital defence—see that non-productive expenditure—it is a very heavy rate of insurance, and to that extent it is productive, but essentially, from a purely economic point of view, it is non-productive expenditure—is reduced as far as possible. I say again that, as far as I am concerned, I recognise that there has been a very remarkable diminution in the number of men employed on the declaration of the Armistice and those we now find employed at the declaration of Peace. I am glad to find that the reputation of the Navy, 1696 which has always been a very good one, especially on the business side, is maintained. In regard to the purchase of coal, I have some knowledge of that reputation. Business men have known that in dealing with the Navy, with respect to the buying of coal, they had to deal with some of the smartest and acutest business minds, and I believe that view applies to other Admiralty departments. I hope that that business acumen, which was to some extent set aside during the War, will be once again in full play, so that the nation may have the benefit of those stores of knowledge and experience which we are glad to know the Navy still possesses.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for his tribute to the administrative capacity and efficiency of the Department. I think I could best help this discussion by going back for a moment to the general situation which called for this further Vote on Account. We are in the first financial year after the termination of hostilities, and a quarter of that year had gone before Peace had been signed. We asked on 12th March for a Vote on Account of £50,000,000 to carry us on for three or four months, at the end of which time we hoped to be in a position to lay the detailed Navy Estimates for 1919–1920. That expectation has not been realised. We are, therefore, obliged to come here to ask for a further Vote on Account of £60,000,000 to carry us on again for three or four months, which will bring us to the Autumn. When we asked for the original Vote on Account, we did submit for the information of the House a provisional sketch of the course which naval expenditure might be expected to take so far as we could for see it with the information then at our disposal. My right hon. Friend will probably remember the figure for 1919–20 of £149,200,000. I would warn him that, as far as I can see, the £149,200,000 will be exceeded. Our expectation was that by to-day we should have been in a position to submit full detailed Estimates for the year. We are not in that position. The original Vote lasted as long as we expected it would last—it has been a very good Estimate—but since it is practically exhausted we have to come and ask for another Vote on Account. We give this undertaking: When we meet again we shall submit to the Committee the full Navy Estimates for the year. It will be very late in the year, and 1697 entirely unprecedented. It is unprecedented, as far as I can remember, to suhmit so late in the financial year Navy Votes or any Votes. But the circumstances in which we find ourselves are entirely unprecedented.
But I would warn my right hon. Friend, in regard to the detailed Estimates for 1919–20, when he gets them, that you can-not take those Estimates, which bear so heavily the aftermath of war, and expect to see in them an index of the post-War permanent naval expenditure of this country. There will be non-recurring expenditure due to the War, and you cannot have a clean cut between peace and war, as the First Lord put it earlier in the day, and all our Votes, practically, are charged with expenditures which are the result of war. Therefore, to take the Estimates which we shall submit in the autumn and say they are an index of the permanent post-War peace Navy would be very misleading, and any endeavour to compare them with 1913–14, and from the comparison to say, "This is your view of the policy which shall determine the naval strength of this country," would again be extremely misleading, because there arc very heavy permanent charges which have arisen as a result of war conditions; and prices, again, labour, and material; all our Supply Votes have to be divided, roughly, by two to get back to the 1913–14 basis. As the First Lord said, to take one illustration only, we have added in 1919–20 £10,000,000 permanently in pay and allowances and pensions for the Navy over and above the standard of 1913–14. All these things have to be very carefully considered in any comparison between the two years, because otherwise you would be trying to compare like with unlike.
My right hon. Friend referred to the fact that the construction of eighty-four ships and craft of various sorts has been continued during this year. It has been continued because they had reached such a stage of construction that it would be uneconomical to scrap them, or it would have been, in certain cases, a very unwise policy to cast vast numbers of workmen gathered together for ship construction at any given moment on the labour market. He asks me if I can tell him the other side of that story, namely, if we have gone on with eighty-four ships, how many have we cancelled? I can tell him. We have cancelled since November eleven ships and craft to the total of 326. I will read the 1698 details. First, the three "Hoods"—the three battle-cruisers—and then the three light cruisers, two mine-layers, four flotilla leaders, thirty-three destroyers, twenty-six submarines, two sloops, thirty-five twin-screw mine-sweepers, five paddle mine-sweepers, thirty-one patrol gunboats, 82 trawlers, apart from 133 trawlers which are being completed as fishing vessels; 64 drifters, apart from 108 drifters which are being completed as fishing vessels; 14 seaplane towing lighters, 21 tugs, and one boom defence vessel. The net saving of those ships cancelled in that time is £42,500,000.
My right hon. Friend (Mr. Lambert) asked some questions about airship policy, and these have been asked with very much greater closeness arid in great detail by two hon. and gallant Gentlemen who have taken part in the Debate later. On this question I do not pretend to be able to speak with anything like practical knowledge, but for the moment, at any rate, the responsibility of the Admiralty for aviation is confined to the construction and maintenance, including repairs, of such rigid and non-rigid airships and airship stations as the Naval Staff desire for war services. The Director of Air Division looks after the requirements of the Navy, and maintains the necessary relations with the Grand Fleet, the Senior Naval Officers of Bases, the Air Council, and the Admiralty Departments concerned. That is, for the moment, the shortest possible statement which I can make. If my hon. and gallant Friend had looked at the two answers given—one on the 2nd July to the hon. and gallant Member for Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy), on the other on the 9th July to the same hon. and gallant Member—he would have seen that we are going on with the construction of six rigid airships, at a total estimated cost of about £2,200,000, and further the R 34 cost approximately herself £350,000, the cost of the housing shed, together with extensions and wind screens, feeing about £166,000. The R34, I should say, goes on Naval rates, but I will communicate with my hon. Friend opposite when I get the facts more reliably. My; hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Shettleston Division, in a speech which we all heard with great pleasure, if I may say so, raised three of the recommendations of the Jerram Committee, and three very important recommendations, which, as he said, have not been approved by the Board 1699 and the War Cabinet. Those three are these: The failure of the Government decision to carry out the Jerram recommendations to antedate the increase of pay to the 1st October; secondly, the failure of the Government decision to give the new base rate of pension to all the old pensioners on the roll to-day, over fifty-five years of age; and, thirdly, the failure of the Government decision to make provision, as asked by the men, and as recommended by the Jerram Committee, for the widows and orphans of men dying in the Service, but not from causes attributable to the Service, and, further, for the widows and orphans of pensioners dying.
These are the three points upon which my hon. Friend laid great stress. I am bound to say he was by no means the only one. There were the hon. Members for Devonport, Portsmouth, Chatham, Hull, etc., and in what they said I recognise a very formidable body of comment on the alleged failure to which they referred. Certainly the men of the Fleet may feel that they have here a body of advocates forcible and eloquent. I am afraid that on these points I have no authority to add anything to what the First Lord has said in defence in the speech he made this afternoon at the outset of the Debate. There I must leave it. My hon. and gallant Friend opposite put a question to me about retired flag officers who accepted temporary commissions in the Royal Naval Reserve. He inquired if they will be eligible for the increased rate of retired pay. Yes, they are eligible. Reference was made by the Noble Lord the Member for Battersea South to the change which takes place next financial year from the service rates of Income Tax on salary to civilian rates, and especially upon the point that it would in certain cases mean an imposition which would wipe out part of the increase in salary which had been granted by the Halsey Commission. I shall be very glad if he would look at the documents before me—it is too long to go into now—and consider the statement. I admit that the change in the rates of Income Tax, while different in one or two cases, or in the junior ranks, would wipe out the last increase, not, of course, the whole increase, but the last increase. It will wipe it out in the case of sub-lieutenants, lieutenants, on promotion, and lieutenants after two years; certainly in 1700 the case of sub-lieutenants, who will be paying Income Tax next year for the first time. Assume that such an officer gets those abatements for uniform, etc., as at present, and he has no wife or children, he will pay £3 1s. 10d. I think you have to look at it from the point of view of what his salary was on 31st January of this year compared with what it now is. On 31st January it was £136 17s. 6d., and is now £182 10s. less £3 1s. 10d. That I think is the right way to lake that case. Of the other two cases, take the lieutenant on promotion. The difference between the two methods of assessment of Income Tax means to him £13 2s. 10d. Take his former salary, it was £219 on 31st January; it is £301 2s. 6d. now. The same difficulty is true of the lieutenants after two years' promotion. In no other case will the change in Income Tax leave an adverse balance compared with the last increase in salary. My hon. and gallant Friend referred to other decisions in the White Paper with which he disagreed. I have no authority to vary those decisions or make any comment on them.
I was asked why should the London allowance be allowed only to officers attached to the Admiralty Office. It is payable to all officers in Admiralty establishments in London. There were a recommendation with regard to reduced fares for officers proceeding on leave to be continued, and that is being considered with the War Office and the Air Ministry. Then there was the question of two free passages a year for officers proceeding on leave, and that has been deferred for future consideration in connection with leave arrangements. With regard to officers going abroad to take up stationary appointments in shore stations to have indulgence passages for their wives and families, we had a series of similar proposals for the men. But it is not usual for these ratings to be permanently posted to stations abroad for long periods. It is difficult to draw the line, and if we agree to this suggestion you would certainly accentuate the housing problem which is already acute in certain stations abroad.
Having said this suggestion cannot be approved with regard to the men, we have no alternative but to say that we could not differentiate between officers and men, and therefore these proposals were not approved. My hon. Friend the Member for Leyton referred to the recommendation to increase the pensions of widows and the compassionate allowances for chil- 1701 dren, and he argued that we had in our decision differentiated between the officers and their widows and children, and the way in which we treated the recommendations in regard to the widows and children of the men. Nothing could be further from the truth, and I do not know where he gets his information. What was put to us by the Halsey Committee was this: We were invited to grant increased rates to an existing system of allowances to widows and orphans of officers. The proposal was set out in the Appendix. Our reply was that no change could be made in the present rates. It was a matter that affected the whole of the public service, and we could not legislate for our own service alone. I think I have made it quite clear that it would be untrue to say that we have unfairly discriminated in favour of the officers as compared with the men. I cannot pretend to have covered all the points raised on the Halsey and Jerram Reports, but I have endeavoured to cover the great bulk of them.
Can the right hon. Gentleman give us any indication as to whether the important points will be reconsidered?
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
It is a question for the Board and not for me. I am afraid that I cannot carry the matter beyond the decisions already announced by the Government.
§ Sir T. BRAMSDON
I had hoped that I might hear something from the right hon. Gentleman on some of the points that J have raised, and notably that with regard to acting officers.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I say that I could not cover the whole of the points. My hon. Friend dealt with the case of officers of acting rank, outside the zone of promotion, who have been passed over for promotion, but who got acting rank during the War, and who have made good. He suggested that they ought now to be met either by double time counting for pension or by a step in rank on retirement. That is one of the subjects that I really felt I had not time to cover to-night.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
Yes, certainly; and I will communicate with my hon. Friend. With regard to the trawlers and drifters, we have a scheme, but we are still in negotiation with the Treasury, and it is not settled yet, so that I cannot give my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) the details of it. We are endeavouring in some way to recognise the services that these men have rendered us during the War. I can assure my hon. Friend the Member for Moray and Nairn (Sir A. Williamson) that all expedition is being used in reconditioning the trawlers and drifters so that they can get back to their fishing work. He called my attention by letter this morning to a collection of trawlers and drifters in Loch Ness. I have got a report, and I find that a certain amount of reconditioning is being done at the Inverness yard. Fraserburgh, Buckie, etc., have been taxed to the full with work and, at times, have appealed for no further vessels to be sent owing to the lack of accommodation. It has been pointed out that the ports have also to accommodate other vessels. In addition, to hasten their return to owners, Scottish drifters have been reconditioned at Liverpool. Falmouth, Lame, Southampton, Cowes, Dover, Brightlingsea, and other places and if anything can be done to expedite matters still further, it certainly shall be done.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
We will do all we can to expedite this work. As regards delay in settling the claims of the men, if my hon. Friend can give me any particular cases of hardship I will look into them personally. As regards the future of the Royal Naval Reserve, I should like, if I may, to consult my colleagues on the question, and give a full and considered answer on that point. With regard to the apprentices, the return of them from the Colours is really a matter for the War Office. I do not know that I can make out any special—
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I rather fancy we have made representations already, and. that we cannot ask for special consideration for our apprentices over and above that consideration which is given to other apprentices. I will, however, look into 1703 the matter again, but I repeat it is really a matter for the Secretary of State for War.
§ Sir A. WILLIAMSON
What about the refusal of gratuities to men of the Mercantile Marine for war service?
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
We did not grant them a gratuity because the men were on mercantile rates of pay, and not on naval rates of pay. The mercantile rates were higher than the naval rates, and it was not considered inequitable not to allow their demand for war gratuities. If my hon. Friend will send me any cases in which he thinks there is any hardship, I will have them looked into. Withregard to the title of commissioned shipwrights, I thought that was satisfactorily settled in a way agreeable to the persons concerned, but I find that I am wrong. My hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Hohler) says the decision is the result of opposition on the part of the Royal Corps of Naval Constructors, but that is not the case. It is a decision of the Board of Admiralty and not of the Royal Corps. The Board's decision was taken because the term "constructor" is misleading. These men are not constructors, and they do not do constructive work. They do repair work, and it would not be right to give the title in such cases. I am bound to say I see nothing derogatory in the old English word "shipwright." I do not understand what is derogatory in it, and indeed I believe there is a Worshipful Company of Shipwrights. I do not know whether they think there is anything derogatory in the title.
§ Mr. HOHLER
It was not suggested that it was derogatory, but it was not the title the men asked for, and they object to it.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
The hon. and learned Gentleman thought it was due to a civil body, the Naval Corps of Constructors. It is the decision of the Board of Admiralty. The only other thing I can deal with is the important question of the welfare committees. In order to make permanent arrangements for bringing to notice from time to time matters affecting the well-being of the men the Board issued, in February last, orders that at stated times, and preferably in the autumn, the three home ports should arrange for the election of representatives of the various branches, who would put forward in writing to the president of 1704 the committee of officers appointed by the Admiralty representations which the different classes desire to bring to notice The whole of the lower dock representatives will then sit in an advisory capacity, and the welfare committee which would thus be constituted would be authorised to receive and discuss representations in respect to the following matters Pay and allowances, promotion, messing and canteen arrangements, uniform and clothing arrangements, pensions, retirements, and similar matters affecting the whole of the interests of the men. They would not be authorised to receive or discuss representations on matters of policy, discipline, individual claims, and so on, matters affecting individual ships, etc. The institution of this system of welfare committees was not to be held in any way as conflicting with the principles laid down in Article 11 of the King's Regulations. Furthermore, these conferences will not in any way be regarded as the alternative channel for the representation of individual claims or grievances, nor in any way to diminish the responsibility of the captain for the discipline and well-being of the officers and men serving under his command. My hon. and gallant Friend rather put it that we had not been in earnest about this—that we had not gone on and the committees had not been appointed. No; because the Fleet has been at sea, and the proposal was from the beginning to call them together in the autumn. They will be called together in October. The Board of Admiralty really mean that the representatives of the various branches of the lower deck shall be elected by the ratings in the freest possible manner. Let there be no mistake about that. That is our desire, and that is what will be carried out by the Commanders-in-Chief. When they are called together, it will deal with the men after the freest possible election and not selection. I look forward with very great hopefulness to these new bodies, and I believe they will contribute very much indeed to our knowledge of the day-by-day conditions on the topics which they will be the properly constituted authority to deal with. I hope I may now ask the Committee to give us the Vote.
§ Sir T. BRAMSDON
Will the right hon. Gentleman kindly say what the position is with regard to Income Tax paid by retired officers?
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
Whether they will be on the Service rates or civilian rates? I think after the next financial year the Service rates will go—that is to say, they will be on civilian-earned rates—but I am speaking subject to correction. If the hon. Gentleman will put a question I will give a considered answer.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
With the utmost good will in the world it is impossible in the time to cover the many details which arise in a debate which lasts from half-past four to a quarter-past ten.
§ Rear-Admiral ADAIR
I am sorry the First Lord has not found it possible to answer my questions as to the reasons—that is all I asked—for the difference between the recommendations of the Jerram Committee and the Admiralty decisions upon them. As I am sure no one appreciates more than the First Lord, the Navy likes everything straight and above-board, and I think it would have been reasonable to have let the men know the reasons for the decisions not being in accordance with the recommendations. I assume that the reasons are too weighty even for this 1706 House to know them, though, if this House is not entitled to know them, I should like to be informed who is entitled! I regret, too, that the refusal to reconsider these decisions, which are not in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee, was expressed with some want of sympathy—the terms in which we were notified that there would be no reconsideration were not sympathetic. I think they should have been. I beg to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ Whereupon the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Resolution to be reported To-morrow; Committee to sit again To-morrow.
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.