HC Deb 08 December 1920 vol 135 cc2078-9

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty if he is aware that, in order to obtain recruits for the sick-berth staff, the physical standard has been considerably reduced, the educational standard has been reduced to that of seamen boys on entry, and that the term of engagement has been reduced to seven years; will he consider the advisability of improving the conditions of this branch, particularly as regards promotion, as a means of accelerating the rate of entry, especially in view of the fact that at present there are a number of ratings with eight years' seniority still awaiting their first advancement, that the younger petty officers can never hope to attain the rating of chief petty officer, and that many of these ratings are married; and is he aware that this continual waiting for promotion, coupled with the insufficient rates of pay throughout the service, is causing the members of the staff in question considerable financial hardship?


As the answer is rather long, perhaps the hon. Member will not mind if I have it printed in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

The following is the answer prepared:

The standards required on entry naturally vary from time to time according to the state of recruiting. As stated in the question, the physical standard for this branch has been temporarily reduced and the educational standard is now the same as for the seaman class. The term of engagement has not been reduced, but candidates who wish to join for seven years only are now permitted to do so. As regards advancement of sick-berth ratings, there is at the present moment a small surplus of sick-berth chief petty officers and petty officers, and a small shortage of leading sick-berth attendants on the numbers required for the whole service. Promotions of sick-berth attendants on 1st January next will mostly meet the latter shortage, while the surpluses must inevitably retard promotion temporarily. With regard to the statement that the younger petty officers can never hope to attain the rating of chief petty officer, I think the hon. Member takes an unnecessarily gloomy view. I must not be taken to agree with the suggestion in the last part of the question that the rates of pay throughout the Service are insufficient, but, as stated in my reply to the hon. and gallant Member for South Battersea on the 24th November, the question will not be lost sight of.