§ 8. Captain Viscount CURZON
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether the Admiralty have given orders for the Admiralty yacht 1219 "Enchantress" to be temporarily commissioned; whether he is aware that this ship has been out of commission for a very considerable period for reasons of economy; what expenditure will be incurred in recommissioning the ship and in providing crew, stores and fuel; under what Vote the expenditure will be borne; and whether, before any expenditure is incurred, the decision to recommission this ship may be reconsidered?
9 and 10. Lieut.-Commander KEN-WORTHY
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty (1) what will be the total cost of commissioning the Admiralty steam yacht "Enchantress" for the use of the Board of Admiralty at the forthcoming naval review, including pay of officers and ratings, cost of refitting, victualling, fuel, stores and all other incidental expenses; how many days will she be in commission; and for how many days will the members of the Board of Admiralty be on board;
(2)how many persons will use the yacht "Enchantress" at the forthcoming review apart from the officers and crew: who those persons will be; and whether any persons not members of the Board of Admiralty or in the naval services will be on board during the time the yacht is in commission?
§ 11. Mr. J. HARRIS
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty what number of officers and personnel will be required for the "Enchantress, "for what period will they be employed on this service, and at what cost to the taxpayers?
§ 13. Mr. FOOT
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty the number of the members of the Board of Admiralty who will be accommodated on the Admiralty yacht "Enchantress"; whether the proposed expenditure was specifically provided for in the Estimates for the current year; and what alternative means would be available to enable the Board to carry out their inspection if the proposed recommissioning is net proceeded with?
§ 14. Major HORE-BELISHA
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty where it is proposed to recondition the "Enchantress"; whether a Supplementary Estimate will be necessary for 1220 the purpose; and whether, seeing that the expenditure involved will be taken from moneys that would otherwise be available for the repairing of ships of war in the national yards, he will undertake that the necessary work on the yacht shall not be done by a private firm?
§ 15. Mr. LOVERSEED
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether the recommissioning of the "Enchantress" will involve regilding the external parts of the ship; and, if so, what the regilding will cost?
§ 16. Lady TERRINGTON
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether the "Enchantress" will be used on the occasion of the Naval Review purely for official purposes; and whether there will be any charge on public funds for the entertainment of guests?
§ 21. Mr. LINFIELD
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty, seeing that the Geddes Committee recommended that the "Enchantress" should be disposed of, why this was not done?
§ 24. Mr. SCRYMGEOUR
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether, in addition to the estimated outlay of £1,100, through recommissioning of the Admiralty yacht "Enchantress," after having been out of commission for 18 months, it is proposed to incur further public expenditure on convivial entertainment in connection with the review of the Fleet?
§ Sir HENRY CRAIK
Before the hon. Gentleman answers these questions, may I ask if it is not confirmed by long experience that this yacht has bean very useful to the Admiralty, and is there any reason for discontinuing its use? [HON. MEMBERS: "Order!"]
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the ADMIRALTY (Mr.Ammon)
The right hon. Gentleman is putting a preceding supplementary question. Orders have been given for H.M.S. "Enchantress" to be prepared for a short commission of 10 days in July. The total cost of the extra work required, together with the cost of fuel and other stores, is estimated at £1,100 out of Vote 8. This includes £143 for opening out, cleaning and testing the boilers. The expenditure involved was not specifically provided for in the Estimates. No Supplementary Estimate will be necessary, money being available through a slight delay in other work at that yard. The officers and ratings will be drafted temporarily from other services, and the only extra cost of personnel will be £20, being the difference between half-pay and full pay and allowances of the captain. Members of the Board of Admiralty will be on board for as many of these days as their duties require. A certain number of official guests, whose names have not yet been settled, will be on board the ship during the review. During the time the yacht is in commission such persons will be admitted on board for various purposes as the captain may permit, in accordance with the custom of the Service. The complement of the ship during the temporary commission will be 10 officers and 190 ratings. All the members of the Board of Admiralty whose duties permit will be accommodated in the ship. No suitable alternative means are available for the Board to carry out their duty on this occasion. A less suitable vessel could be hired, but would cost much more. The dockyard work on the ship will be carried out at His Majesty's Dockyard, Portsmouth. There will be no re-gilding of the external parts of the ship. The Government of the day in 1922, in reviewing the recommendations of the Geddes Committee, decided that the "Enchantress" should be put out of permanent commission and laid up in Portsmouth harbour. Four other vessels belonging to the Royal Navy will be employed for the conveyance to the review of those official guests from the Dominions overseas and from both Houses of Parliament for whom the "Enchantress" will not provide sufficient room. The total amount estimated to be spent on the entertainment of all the official guests 1222 invited to attend the naval review is £1,500.
§ Viscount CURZON
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that on a similar occasion last year the mine layer "Princess Margaret" was used for exactly the same duties; and does he not think that at a time when the Navy is being cut down to the bone it is very undesirable to spend even £1,100 on a service which cannot be described as a fighting service?
§ Mr. AMMON
The noble Lord is wrong in stating there was a similar occasion last year. There has been no review of the Fleet since the War. There was an inspection last year of a small number of vessels but we have to remember that on this occasion there will be a number of visitors from our Dominion Parliaments who have to be accommodated. If we could find other means of doing so, they would he much more expensive than this arrangement and less open to misrepresentation.
§ Commander BELLAIRS
As the "Enchantress" is being commissioned for 10 days, are we to understand that the Board of Admiralty will be on board for those 10 days and that the 150 officers and men will be withdrawn from the schools for the whole of that period?
§ Sir H. CRAIK
Has the discretion left in previous Boards of the Admiralty with regard to this useful vessel ever been 1223 passed under review; and is there any reason to think that this discretion will be abused by the present Board of Admiralty?
§ Mr. LINFIELD
Will the bon. Gentleman answer my question in reference to the recommendation by the Geddes Committee?
§ Mr. AMMON
I am afraid the hon. Member was not paying attention to my reply, because special reference was made in it to his question, as to each of the other questions on the Paper on this subject, and it was pointed out that the Government of the day in 1922, in reviewing the recommendations of the Geddes Committee, decided that the "Enchantress" should be put out of permanent commission and laid up in Portsmouth Harbour. In reference to the question by the Noble Lord the Member for South Battersea (Viscount Curzon), I agree with him, but it is a question of the larger expense, and the expense connected with the "Enchantress" will be much less than under alternative methods. With regard to the question by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir H. Craik), so far as I know the Board's discretion has never been challenged, and there is no question of abuse. It is for actual work in connection with the review and the duties of the Board of Admiralty.
§ Mr. J. HARRIS
Will the official guests also include an adequate representation from the Press? The hon. Gentleman did not mention the Press.
§ Major Sir ARCHIBALD SINCLAIR
Is it in consonance with the dignity of the Lords of the Admiralty that they should proceed to sea in a yacht, on the reconditioning of which only £1,100 has been spent, and the gilding of which has not been attended to?
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
Arising out of the hon. Gentleman's answer that this yacht is only going to be employed for 10 days, and is requiring to be reconditioned and the boilers and engines to be overhauled, when the 10 days are over, will the hon. Gentleman use his influence, as a Labour man and a Socialist, so that the poor women and children of the East End of London be allowed to get the use of this yacht afterwards?