HC Deb 01 December 1920 vol 135 cc1217-9

asked the Secretary to the Admiralty if his attention has been drawn to a definite statement in the local Press to the effect that there are five Admiralty Departments still housed in the Royal Liver Buildings in Liverpool and that the rentals of these offices and the staffs employed are large; and will he make a full statement on the matter, giving the names and purposes of the Departments, the rents paid for offices, and the number and total salaries of the staffs?


As the answer is rather a long one I will, with the hon. Gentle man's permission, have it published in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

The answer is as follows:

My attention has been drawn to the statement in question. Although some of the facts of the matter have already been stated in answer to recent questions, the following statement covers the whole of the present question: The Departments occupying offices in the Royal Liver Buildings are: the Defensive Equipment of Merchant Ships Department, the Director of Naval Construction, the Admiral Superintendent (Reconditioning), the Civil Engineer-in-Chief. The Defensive Equipment of Merchant Ships Department is engaged in the reconditioning of merchant vessels equipped during the War with gun armament (of which there were 4,300 at the time of the Armistice), and with paravanes (of which there were 2,964). Two rooms are occupied by a staff of 15, drawing a total annual salary of £5,106. As regards the Director of Naval Construction Department, Liverpool is the headquarters of a very large district. The Warship Production Superintendent at Liverpool and his staff are in charge of all vessels, warships and auxiliaries, trawlers and drifters, building in the whole of North-West district of England, including Barrow and Ireland. They are also overseers for all shipbuilding material purchased for the Naval Service throughout the same area, which for this purpose includes Birmingham, Manchester, and surrounding districts. They further deal with all questions involved in the settlement of the contracts for all ships built in the district during the War, whether completed, cancelled, or transferred in an incomplete condition to the Royal Dockyards, including the financial questions involved. The disposal of surplus material resulting from the cancellation of Admiralty vessels which were building in many yards, small and large, throughout the districts, also the settlement of claims resulting from an enormous number of broken sub-contracts, involves a great volume of work, more particularly as this Department is settling up all the remainder of the ship constructive and material questions left by the various Departments—now disbanded—set up by the Controller of the Navy during the War to provide the enormous Fleet required. When the temporary work is done there will remain a permanent staff to deal with the ordinary overseering work for Naval Supplies. This staff will be less than that engaged on this work for many years before the War.

The staff at Liverpool itself numbers nine officers, drawing a total annual salary of about £4,000. They occupy two offices (converted into three rooms). Other offices have now been found for this Department at a rent of £60 a year, and it is hoped that they will be ready for occupation in February next. The Admiral Superintendent (Reconditioning) with his staff (16 in all) is engaged in closing accounts in connection with armed merchant cruisers reconditioned. The Belfast district is included. He occupies six rooms. Three of these will be vacated in a few days' time, and the remainder, it is hoped, in March, when the Liverpool office will be closed. The total salaries amount to £4,800 a year.

For the Liverpool district, the civil engineer-in-chief has an officer in charge of works (with a foreman of works and a typist) occupying one room. His duties are now connected with the surrender and reconditioning of property taken over for war purposes. This work is nearing an end, and the office will be closed in March next. The salaries amount to £777 a year. As regards the general question of rent, the total amount cannot be given. The offices were requisitioned, and, with the exception of three rooms, for which a payment of £12 10s. a month is made, the rental value is still under discussion.

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