§ 29. Major HORE-BELISHA
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether, seeing that it was the intention that H.M.S. "Curlew" should return home in April for recommissioning, and that-there are other ships on the North American and West Indies Stations capable of navigating the River Plata., he can state the reason why H.M.S. "Curlew" has had her period of foreign service extended, thus causing great discontent to the personnel, who have been disappointed in their prospect of seeing their families, and giving rise in many cases to serious inconvenience to their relatives, who have made arrangements to receive them; and whether it is still possible to revise the arrangements?
The hon. and gallant Member is under a misapprehension in thinking that His Majesty's Ship "Curlew" was originally clue to return home in April. It must be remembered that there is only a limited number of ships on the North America and West Indies Station suitable for this service, and the Admiralty are bound to consider the most economical method of carrying it out. For this reason, it was decided that the vessel detailed for the duty should be one due to return to England in the normal course, i.e., His Majesty's Ship "Curlew." Although this will mean that the ship's return will be deferred beyond the date originally contemplated, she will be back in England well within the maximum period of absence, namely, three years. I have no reason to think that this arrangement, which was made only after all the considerations had been taken into account, will lead to any discontent among the personnel on board, and I hope that the fact that the "Curlew" has been selected 2203 for this important service, will go some way in mitigation of any inconvenience which may be caused to relatives of the crew by the inevitable extension of her period of commission.
§ 30. Major HORE-BELISHA
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether, seeing that it was decided by the Admiralty that the length of commission for foreign service was to be two years in all, and that it is now apparently the practice to keep men away for three years, he can state when this Order was promulgated and the reason why the shorter period no longer obtains?
The normal length of commissions of His Majesty's ships on foreign stations was increased, in April, 1922, to a period of not less than 2½ years, exclusive of the time spent by the crews on passage or waiting for suitable opportunity for passage with a maximum time away from home ports of three years. The object of this change was to effect economy in the case of carrying out foreign reliefs, and to reduce the number of men duplicated by "crossing reliefs." I may add that in unhealthy climates the period of commission of ships is less than the normal.
§ Major HORE-BELISHA
Will the hon. Gentleman consider reverting to the old practice, in view of the feeling amongst married men and their wives?
§ Mr. B. SMITH
Is it not a fact also that when the two years came in as against the four, that arose after careful consideration?