HC Deb 04 June 1924 vol 174 cc1228-9
Viscount CURZON

(by Private Notice) asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether it has been decided to detail a division of destroyers for service in the Red Sea; whether he is aware that such vessels are, by reason of their construction, peculiarly unfitted for prolonged service in such waters, especially at this time of year; whether he can give an assurance that it is not intended that these ships should remain indefinitely in these waters without frequent relief, and whether officers and ships' companies will be entitled to hard-lying allowance?


In view of reports received of a considerable increase in slave traffic in the Red Sea, four destroyers were sent to those waters from the Mediterranean in April last, as a temporary measure to assist in the suppression of this traffic. These vessels have now returned to the Mediterranean. The Admiralty are aware of the climatic conditions in the Red Sea, and it has never been the intention to keep such vessels indefinitely in those waters.

Viscount CURZON

Will the hon. Gentleman kindly answer the last part of the question, with reference to hard-lying money?


Will the hon. Gentleman submit to the Foreign Secretary the importance of allowing the country to see the reports which have been received upon this traffic?


I am afraid that that hardly refers to me.


Can the hon. Gentleman give the House any information as to what has led to this increase in slave traffic recently?


That would be for another Minister, and the hon. Member had better put a question on the Paper.


Can the hon. Gentleman say how many destroyers are detailed for this special service this summer, and whether the Italian Navy is co-operating with our ships?


No destroyers are detailed for this work this summer. The destroyers referred to in the Noble Lord's question have done their service, and have now returned to the Mediterranean. With regard to the question of hard-lying money, hard-lying money is not payable in destroyers to either officers or men, but both will be eligible for climate pay and tropical pay under the usual conditions as laid down in the regulations.

Viscount CURZON

Under such very severe conditions as those in the Red Sea, for ships of this class, surely officers and men are entitled to hard-lying money? Is there no special power to grant it?


Before we leave that question, is the hon. Gentleman satisfied that the conditions which led to the destroyers being sent there a few months ago have now disappeared?


We are so far satisfied that we have been able to withdraw our complement of ships which were operating in that part of Africa.