HC Deb 19 March 1925 vol 181 cc2514-5

I come now to Vote A, in which we have an increase of 2,175 men. That, again, is a very good instance of what I inherited from the hon. Gentleman opposite. When he spoke in the House on this Motion last year, he said: For reasons of economy, it has been left until the latest possible moment com- patible with having crews available when the ships are ready. That is, the provision under Vote A, Not only so, but instead of entering the full number of 3,200, we had decided to recruit only 1,400, and to obtain the remaining 1,800 by pruning them from the complements of other ships."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th March, 1924: cols. 275-6, Vol. 171.] I do not ask him to apologise, I am only glad to see that he thinks I have quoted him faithfully from the OFFICIAL REPORT. He stated they were pruning 1,800 from other ships instead of taking them on for training, and therefore it is obvious he left it for me to provide those 1,800 men. and that adds to the cost which I have to put before the House. I have also got to add a few more, 375, a very modest number, to help to provide the men to train for the ships which will be completed later. I should like to say, on the subject of Vote A, that here again I have cut the figures to a dangerously low margin. I do not wish to draw any comparison about armaments between ourselves and other countries, but, to show what other countries think necessary for the manning of their fleet, I should like to say that whereas we require 102,675 men the United States require 115,319. Therefore, I think it will be hard to say we are not economical in the manning of our Fleet.

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