HC Deb 02 July 1930 vol 240 cc1940-1
13. Mr. T. LEWIS

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty the reasons why a naval rating when commissioned is given the separate rank and distinctive title of mate, a practice which does not exist in the Army or Royal Air Force, and why mates are messed in the ward room with the senior officers instead of in the gun room with their contemporaries, the sub-lieutenants?


It has always been the intention that promoted naval ratings should have equal status with ex-cadet officers, but they would be gravely hampered if, during the period immediately following selection, they were not distinguished from the ex-cadet sub-lieutenants, whose preliminary qualifications would be quite different. When therefore the scheme was inaugurated in 1912 it was decided, after careful consideration, to give them the title of "mate," which is the old name of the sub-lieutenant. The reason for including them in the ward room instead of in the gun room mess was that the mates under the 1912 scheme were expected to be always three to six years older than the sub-lieutenants. It was considered, therefore, more suitable to include them in the ward room. This matter will form part of the inquiry I am having made into the whole question.


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether, in view of the inquiry into the matter of lower-deck promotion, any of the lieutenant-commanders (ex-mate) will be enabled to give their views on the defects of the mate scheme?


Yes, Sir.


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether the departmental inquiry into the working of the mate scheme is now in operation; and when it is anticipated that he will be able to make a statement?


The answer to the first part of the question is contained in the reply which I gave to the hon. Member on 7th May last [OFFICIAL REPORT, column 981]. With regard to the second part of the question, the inquiry has not yet reached a sufficiently advanced stage for a statement to be made.

Captain HALL

Will it be possible to include a representative of the mate class when the right hon. Gentleman is making these inquiries into the whole question?


I intended making an announcement to-day, but as the question has been asked, I may say that we have had a preliminary survey in the Admiralty, and I have now decided to appoint a small departmental committee to continue the inquiries on the basis already made, and to include on the committee an officer of as superior a rank as possible who is an ex-mate, so that the position may be adequately safeguarded.