HC Deb 13 October 1943 vol 392 cc867-8
40. Captain P. Macdonald

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty how far there is a shortage of chaplains; and what steps are being taken to obtain more?

Mr. Alexander

During the past year a shortage of Church of England chaplains has been experienced, but measures recently taken by the Bishops' War Committee have remedied the situation and it is expected that the supply of naval chaplains will be satisfactory. There has been no shortage of chaplains in denominations other than the Church of England.

Mr. Sorensen

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether there is any great demand for these chaplains among the rank and file, and whether there is any likelihood of there being any conscription of men for this service?

Mr. Alexander

As to the first part of the Question, I would say that I have found on my visits to the Fleet that there is very great appreciation of the services of the chaplains. The second point is not a matter for me; that Question should be addressed to the Minister of National Service.

Mr. Rhys Davies

Does the right hon. Gentleman's reply indicate that Nonconformist chaplains are very much more brave than the others?

Mr. Alexander

No, that is not so; and I should say that the larger number of chaplains employed are Church of England.

Mr. McKinlay

Would it ease the situation if the ban against Church of Scotland chaplains going to sea were raised?

Mr. Alexander

I am not aware of any such ban. If my hon. Friend will give me particulars of any such cases, I will look into the position.

Captain P. Macdonald

Is it not a fact that in addition to their religious duties naval chaplains carry out other important duties, such as Welfare Officers to the Ships, and will the right hon. Gentleman see that their numbers are kept up to establishment strength?

Mr. Alexander

I agree with my hon. and gallant Friend, and I ought to say that there have been many examples of their gallantry during action.