§ 30. Sir Robert Young
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is aware that natives signed on as seamen 3076 and stokers in His Majesty's Navy at Seletar base, near Singapore, are paid, approximately, 2s. 1½d. per day, while a British seaman receives 2s., an able-bodied seaman 3s., and an engine-room artificer 3s. 9d. per day; and whether, if 2S. 1½d. a day is a fair wage to meet the expenses of the natives' made of life and their low cost of living, he will take steps to increase the rates of pay to British ratings which are at present inequitable and insufficient to meet their cost of living while on active service in that part of the world?
The lowest rate of pay for an engine-room artificer is the 5s. 7d. a day paid to an engine-room artificer, 5th Class. But the basic rate of pay for naval ratings and the rates of pay received by native ratings are not fairly comparable, for the native rating provides his own food and his rate of pay is an inclusive rate; while the naval rating is victualled at the public expense and may receive various allowances and additions to his pay. I am not satisfied on my present information that the rates of pay paid to naval ratings, with these allowances, are insufficient to meet their cost of living.
§ 31. Sir R. Young
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is aware that at Seletar base the engine-room artificers are compelled to live under very unhealthy conditions; that the messes are beneath the dock wall, infested by mosquitoes, the ventilation bad, practically no ventilation is allowed in the non-living ships and, as a consequence, the men of the engine-room department have to work below under abnormal conditions, with stale air; and whether, if these conditions are temporarily necessary, he can arrange that hard-lying money be paid while these conditions exist?
I am causing special inquiries to be made into conditions at Seletar and I will inform the hon. Member of the result as soon as possible.
§ Sir R. Young
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that extra pay is now being given to the crews of motor torpedo boats now on their way to Singapore, and why should it not be given in this case?
§ 33. Sir R. Young
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what is the nature of the 3077 expenses which entails an allowance of £160 a year in the case of warrant officers living in ships stationed at the Singapore base and why, if that allowance is necessary, engine-room artificers and other ratings are allowed only 5¾d. a day to cope with the extra expenses of living imposed on them; and, if this sum per day is considered adequate, whether he will state what additional expenses this allowance is meant to meet?
The allowance to officers is regarded as a grant towards the additional expenses which they have to meet in taking their place on the life of the Colony, where normal living expenses are considerably higher than at home. This is particularly true with regard to recreation and all forms of entertainment and hospitality. Ratings are not faced with the same problem, their additional expenses being mainly confined to transport when seeking recreation, and in order to meet this need an allowance of 3s. 4d. a week is granted to them.
§ Sir R. Young
Will the right hon. Gentleman kindly explain what actually are the expenses of a warrant officer that entitle him to £160 a year while such small allowances are granted to other ratings?
I could not give a detailed list of the expenses a warrant officer is put to, but all recreational expenses he would have to find himself, whereas a rating gets his recreation free. The rating also gets a canteen, of which the warrant officer cannot avail himself, and he has to get his supplies locally.
§ Sir R. Young
Will the right hon. Gentleman look into the matter again and satisfy himself that 5¾d. a day is not too small an amount for the expenses of these ratings?