HC Deb 07 March 1944 vol 397 cc1957-2016
Mr. Price (Forest of Dean)

I beg to move, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof: in the opinion of this House adequate provision should be made for the systematic development of general and technical education amongst all ranks of His Majesty's Navy, including improvement in the opportunities of promotion available for all men of the Service engaged in teaching. In raising this matter, I feel that I do not need to apologise because the subject may be a little dull after those which have been raised in the Debate hitherto. I think that on reflection Members will see that it is a matter of fundamental importance. The House has before it a great Education Bill, which we hope will become one of the landmarks in the educational history of this country. But it is borne in upon me in these days that, for the last four years—and we do not know how much longer it will continue—young men at the most formative age have had their educational careers interrupted and have had to leave their studies, their workshops and their laboratories to take up the stern task of war I, therefore, suggest that it is incumbent upon the great Services to see that everything is done to fill the gaps in the education of these young men and women, as far as it is possible to do so in time of war.

Scientific and technical training is the lifeblood of a great Service like the Navy. Therefore, one hopes that, at least, young men with ambition can have a chance to study branches of science which are indispensable to such work at the running of a great battleship, or to becoming acquainted with the intricate mechanism necessary for the working of a submarine. There should be no lack of opportunities for education in science, as applied to war at sea. At the same time, one may question whether this is quite so in the Navy. It is no secret that for a long time in this war, the Fleet Air Arm was without the right kind of aeroplanes to combat submarines and to do coastal command work. It would not be in Order for me to go into the reasons for this on the present occasion, but I suggest that one possible cause was that the Navy did not have its own educational and research establishments, for dealing with naval aircraft science, and was, in this respect, dependent on other Departments, particularly the Ministry of Aircraft Production. The Navy has its own educational and research establishments in connection with the construction of surface craft, but has it a corresponding department for naval aircraft? I think not, and I suggest that this is one of the flaws in the technical training of the Navy and the reason why in the early part of the war, the Navy was not at its best, in regard to the type of aircraft available for dealing with submarines and the various strategic and technical problems of the war.

There is the other side of education, what I might term adult or general education. This is a people's war, and just as man cannot live by bread alone, so, I suggest, a sailor cannot live by technical and scientific knowledge alone. It is necessary to inquire, therefore, how far attempts have been made and how successful they have been to carry on in the Navy adult education on general subjects, so that a sailor will know something about what he is fighting for, the country he is defending, its history, constitution and culture. The naval authorties can do much to inspire our fighting men with know ledge and zeal for our cause. I need only give the example of the Red Army in Russia. It has been one of the greatest educational institutions in that great country, and that, in part at least, has been responsible for its marvellous successes in the war. The parallel may not be quite fair, because Russia started with 90 per cent. of illiteracy, whereas we have not such a leeway to make up. I admit the difficulties in regard to adult education in a Service like the Navy. Men are cooped up for long times on ships; opportunities are not easy to get, space is often inadequate, the movements of ships are irregular, and it is difficult to plan a long way ahead. These are difficulties, however, which can be got got over if there is a will. There are, too, long periods of time on shore in which it should not be impossible to organise work of this importance.

I will put a question or two to my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary in connection with what I have said. What steps have been taken to secure for the Navy adequate research and training in the science of naval aircraft construction, so as to prevent the recurrence of what happened in the early part of the war. Secondly, what opportunities has the naval rating for improving his technical qualifications and gaining promotion by efficiency and knowledge in technical subjects? Thirdly, I would ask what is the position as regards the educational staff of the Navy. I have some evidence that all is not well with this branch of the Service. There are two sections of this branch, the instructor officer section and the schoolmaster section. There is a feeling that the rate of promotion is irregular, and that the conditions of service, at least in the schoolmaster branch, are unattractive. Promotion and pay in the instructor officer branch are not, apparently, a subject of complaint. This branch is confined to the higher educational qualifications, to those with university honours degrees. Promotion to the higher ranks of this branch goes forward automatically at intervals of six to eight years.

Matters are different with the schoolmaster branch. There is a percentage limit to promotion from one grade to another. For instance, there is, I understand, a limit of 25 per cent. of possible promotions of all candidates going in for promotion to, say, the senior schoolmaster grade, Only 25 per cent. of applicants can, even if they are qualified, get promotion in a given year, and it sometimes takes 28 years for a schoolmaster to reach lieutenant's rank. The position is entirely different from that which obtains in the instructor officer branch. I know it can be said that the schoolmaster branch has educational qualifications which are very much lower than the instructor officer branch, qualifications which are confined to pass degrees at universities or teachers certificates, but, in actual fact, I am informed, that is not the case to-day, as in recent years a very large number of people have got into the schoolmaster class who are honours graduates of universities like London, Sheffield, Manchester, Liverpool, and other big provincial universities.

In the instructor officer branch is a very large number of Oxford and Cambridge honours graduates. As an old Cambridge graduate myself, I am always glad to hear that Cambridge is to the fore in matters of this kind, but I should resent any feeling that Oxford and Cambridge honours graduates got their position for any reason of privilege, other than that of their qualifications. There is a suspicion, and perhaps my hon. Friend will be able to allay it in his reply, that there is a privileged grade in the teaching profession in the Navy, that the schoolmasters, although often qualified, do not get the same treatment as the others and that, generally, the status of the schoolmasters is lower. They are the lowest paid of all the warrant officers, and they receive no increase of pay upon promotion to commissioned rank. I submit that if the best is to be made of the opportunities of education in the Navy, the status of the schoolmaster branch needs to be placed on a proper level, in order to attract ability and to command respect.

There is a fourth point, relating to adult education. I have referred before to the need to stimulate interest among the sailors in matters outside their more technical training. It is desirable to arouse in them a feeling of citizenship as members of a great Commonwealth and Empire, and attempts should be made to do this, even in war-time. I suggest that it might be well for the Navy to see what the Army is doing in this respect. We were informed last week by the Secretary of State for War that the Army has appointed a General Director of Army Education. The Army has also the Bureau of Current Affairs which publishes most excellent pamphlets. I have been reading some of them in the Library of the House, and they go a long way towards making adult education attractive in the Army. For instance, there is a pamphlet which comes out fortnightly called "War," on the technical lessons of the war. A recent issue dealt with United States Army units in this country; and with questions such as wherein they differed and wherein they were the same as our own; what kind of fighting material the American soldier was going to make, and so on. There is another issue on the lessons of the Sicilian campaign, and another on the use of tanks in war.

There is another extremely important series of pamphlets, about current affairs. These pamphlets come out fortnightly and are excellent for the purpose of stimulating adult education in public affairs, and stimulating discussion among the men. Junior officers are asked to initiate discussions in their units on the basis of these pamphlets. Looking over recent publications, and taking them at random, I found this kind of thing: "How to use the vote," "How to take part in influencing public opinion," "How Parliament works," "What kind of houses ought to be built after the war," "What part women ought to play in the State." That is the kind of thing to make the serving man realise that he is fighting for a nation which is thinking of its future, and trying to make him into a citizen-soldier. The title given to those courses is "The British Way and Purpose." It is an educational purpose in the Army, and the Air Force. What better method is there of achieving this end than the documentary film, which has come to stay as one of the great vehicles of education? I should like to know whether any steps have been taken to apply these methods used by the Army and the Air Force to the Navy as well. The Secretary of State for War told us in the Debate on the Army Estimates that the Navy had imitated them. I do not know whether that is really so. I should rather like to have a little more evidence from the Minister who replies on whether this is so or not.

I know that the Royal Air Force have followed after the Army and are doing a lot of interesting things, including initiating discussions on important subjects. Only the other day a young flying officer who had returned from Russia, where he had been co-operating with a unit of the Red Air Force, was giving lectures to the men of his Service on his experiences in Russia and on what he had seen of the people over there, and of their ways of thinking and outlook on life. All this, I think, goes to show that the Army and Air Force are moving along the right lines in this matter of adult education. They are indeed blazing a trail through the jungle. And what is the Navy doing? I rather suggest it is lumbering along behind like a great elephant along the jungle trail, and I do not think that that is a very dignified position for the Senior Service. I have heard that the Navy has ordered a certain number of copies of "Current Affairs," these pamphlets to which I have referred, but how far they have got, and what is done with them, no one seems to be able to tell. Possibly the Minister will have a little more to tell me, which, I hope, will be of satisfaction to the public.

So I conclude as I began. This is a people's war, and we ought to do all we can to prevent this period of service, during which people are turned away from their former occupations, from being too great a break in their educational careers. In the technical field I believe that the Navy will naturally excel, because that is the very essence of its service. But we must see to it, the Navy must see to it, that those who fight in this war for civilisation, to use the words of Oliver Cromwell, "Know what they fight for, and love what they know."

Rear-Admiral Bcamish (Lewes)

I beg to second the Amendment.

I wish it had fallen to the lot of someone other than myself to do so, though I face the task without any fear. If I may say so, I was delighted to hear the hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) pay his tribute to the great Service, to which we all owe so tremendous a debt. I should like to see people who are experienced in coal, agriculture and in many other of our activities in this country, pay their tribute to the Navy and get to know as much as they possibly can and become as highly educated as they can, about all the Navy means to us.

In listening to the First Lord's speech to-day, I was immensely impressed, because it was so full of interest and of hope. But it did remind me, because of the very interest of it, of the hopelessly wrong attitude which is sometimes adopted by the Services, speaking generally, in preventing serving officers from coming to address committees of Members of Parliament in this House. I do not suggest that that is a particular fault of the Admiralty, but it does exist. The result is that many of us, including myself, are kept in a condition of ignorance, which I do not enjoy. I say, as we are speaking of education, that it would be a very good thing if serving officers were encouraged to come because they, no less than we who legislate and provide, would be enlightened and inspired, and, I think, educated. The prejudice which certainly does exist between the Services and Members of Parliament is, I think, an archaic and obscurantist prejudice, and has barnacles on it; it is time it was removed. I would very much like serving officers to come here and address us under proper regulations and control. Nothing but good would come of it.

I trust that the Government will not hesitate to accept the principle of the Amendment which has been so ably moved by my hon. Friend, and that they will accept it in a broad, generous and progressive spirit, because there is no reason whatever why we should hold up the Government with a Division or anything of that sort on such an admirable and broad question as that of education. No doubt we shall get a good deal of information which will be of value to all of us, and it will not be for us, on this subject, to hold up the Government. After all, the glorious record of the Navy is a mighty response to any critic; it is a devastating proof of grandeur and it is certainly a reaffirmation of sea power and of the absence of the word "impossible" from the naval vocabulary.

My hon. Friend said that sometimes people looked upon education as dull. I think there is nothing dull about education except those who are detractors of it, and perhaps I would add to that, also "dull teachers" and they can be very dull. The mover of this Amendment has stressed, and I was glad he did, his particular aspect of this question. He stressed the war period and the interruption of men's lives and of their education because of the necessities of war. That is very terrible and very bad indeed for those concerned, but it will pass. I want to touch, if I may do so without boring the House, and as shortly as I can, upon the past, and also upon the future of what I would call permanencies. There are certain things which if we do not make them permanent, will get us into trouble again. Hon. Members of this House will not fail to agree with me when I remind them that we all have a certain measure of blame attached to our records—perhaps not those Members who have come into the House since the war began. But certainly the rest of us have some measure of blame, because there were wholly indefensible gaps in material and personnel, which parsimonious Governments and, may I say, a nation which to a great extent was blinded by phrases and sloth created for the Service we are now speaking about—difficulties which were widened in the black years before 1939, to my great distress. As I say, they all concern both the technical and professional education of the Navy. The object of what I want to say to-day is this: Whatever we do for the education of the Navy, the Admiralty, and we as a House of Commons, should do everything possible to close those gaps which brought us to the very verge of immeasurable peril. Those gaps consisted of lack of landing craft, convoy-protecting craft, submarine-hunting craft, and a great many other types of ships which have been found absolutely vital for our survival in this war.

There is another gap, which is purely connected with education. The standard of competition for the entry of executive officers of the Navy was deplorably low, because the Service was so very unattractive to boys. That was the fault not only of the House, but of the whole country, and the Admiralty had to suffer. "Systematic development"—to use the words of the Amendment—was discouraged in this country. Things are so much better now that it is almost unbelievable what a change has come over our circumstances. Of the three Services, the Navy is unquestionably the most difficult in which to perfect in what I might describe as day-to-day education. I speak from experience of small ships, on which men live in cramped conditions, in impossible weather, doing service on the seven seas. In war-time at sea there is no moment of the day or night when you dare relax your vigilance, or your readiness for instant action. I want to be as constructive as I can. There are great opportunities for improving the education of the personnel. In Fleets certainly, in big ships certainly, in depots certainly, in parent ships of submarines and destroyers certainly, for mosquito craft, as they may be called, the same, and in big training camps, much has been achieved, and more can be done. Ships have libraries. I remember them now for 40 years. They have been gradually improving in quality, and I see no reason why there should not be a much greater measure of improvement. The deliberations of this House, and even the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes, might interest the personnel in distant seas; therefore, I urge the Admiralty to do what they can to popularise and circulate HANSARD.

I come to the question which I think is of perhaps the highest importance in regard to naval education. I refer to special university courses for officers—and may I say, and stress it, that I include petty officers? I will not go below petty officers for the moment, but I know that they would all gain immeasurably by a higher standard of education—although I left the Service many years ago, and I know that their standards have vastly improved since then. Contacts with the civilian population's outlook would be educative for officers and men. They are subject to the grinding processes of the sea continuously with only very short intervals. That is not good. The Admiralty exacts, and is expected to exact, from the personnel close and continuous service, and would advocate for educational purposes something to broaden the outlook I believe that the Admiralty occasionally have permitted intervals of at least up to a year in the service of an officer or a man. Opportunities for travel and education would broaden their minds and infuse new zest into them. I know that the results would be admirable. In 34 years' service, the longest continuous period of leave on full pay that I ever had was just short of six weeks: that was after three years and five months' service in China. Civil life was all but a closed book to me, to my great detriment; and I have had to make up as best I could for that after leaving the Service.

I hope that the Minister who replies will speak about the Royal Naval University—perhaps the name by which it is, and should be best known, is Greenwich University. After the last war a great attempt was made to make use of Oxford, Cambridge, and perhaps other universities, to make up for the gaps in education which officers, particularly, had suffered by reason of the war. It was my experience, and my friends all tell me the same, that, although the attempt was well meant, the scheme was not suitable for a great profession like the Royal Navy. I advocate, therefore, that it should not be repeated. In 1922 the Greenwich University, placed as it is in magnificent buildings, with quite unrivalled historical associations, was established, and up to 1939 it prospered, and was extended. I plead for still further encouragement for if from the Admiralty. I believe that there is a large number of W.R.N.S. there at present. Everybody likes them, and they do magnificent service, but it was suggested to me by a friend of mine that if we were not careful the "Wrens" might grow into cuckoos, and remain there, to the detriment of the university. We all wish the W.R.N.S. well, but we must have that university back as soon as circumstances allow. Let us expand it for the education of the Navy. Literature, history, and civics were taught at that university. I think I am in Order in saying—because it comes into the question of education, not only for the Navy but about the Navy—that I should like to see short courses, of a week or less, set up at Greenwich University for Members of Parliament, civil servants, local authorities, university professors, trade union officials, coalminers, the Foreign Service, chambers of commerce, and schoolmasters. No doubt there are certain other proper categories and I feel sure that any proposals made by Members to the First Lord will receive genuine sympathy.

I wish to be very serious indeed. I am confident that something of the kind would have a very great effect upon the maritime outlook of the people of this country We have been too prone—and many people have told me so—to keep the sea Service lights obscured, and it is time that a little more was done to make them better known. I want to go right away from the university down to the Sea Cadet Corps and make an appeal, which I know will not fall upon deaf ears, to the First Lord to do everything he can to put that great movement upon a permanent basis. It is already doing a magnificent work. It was designed and created originally, I believe, by private enterprise and the Navy League, and it is nothing more or less than a school for the maritime service of the Empire. Could we have a greater or finer object than that? Not only the Royal Navy but all services of the Royal Navy, and the Mercantile Marine are catered for. It has one special object, one great asset, which I wish to impress upon the House. The boys who belong to the Sea Cadet Corps have a definite object which will be carried into effect when they join the Service which they have set out to adorn for their future. I want specially to advocate that this great Corps should be put upon a permanent basis and that the Navy League should be encouraged to do its best, as it will do, to support the Admiralty.

I want to support what my hon. Friend said about the status of schoolmasters. My own ship's company got a great deal out of schoolmasters in the last war. Education was extremely popular as long as we had the right schoolmaster and the right atmosphere. Therefore, the teaching procession in the Navy should be raised in status. I see no reason why, gradually and not too slowly, members of the schoolmaster branch should not enter as commissioned officers and ultimately be merged with naval instructors. When I was a cadet we were called young gentlemen and out of the 1s. 9d. a day which the Admiralty gave me so generously for my services, they took away 3d. to give to the naval instructor. That sort of thing has been brought to an end, I am glad to say. The growth of education and the high standards of all the personnel in the Navy, of petty officers, and officers and men alike admits of a higher and a better standard of teaching. For all these reasons I join with the mover and say to the officers and men of our incomparable Navy that the education of the Navy is a thing which we here must never forget, and so I say: Let us not blunt so fine a will nor daunt with ignorance.

Mr. Kenneth Lindsay (Kilmarnock)

I rise to support the Amendment. The speech to which we have just listened from the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes (Rear-Admiral Beamish) has been so broad-minded that I hesitate, as a landlubber, to make any further comment. I wish that the spirit that he has shown in his remarks was widespread throughout the Navy. I have had the privilege, in the last year or two, of seeing, here and there, something of the amazing story of naval training, and I wish to speak in support of the great work which is being done during the war and to hope that something of it may be continued in the post-war years. I wonder if hon. Members realise—though they may have from the speech of the First Lord to-day—that hundreds—nay thousands—of ordinary land-lubbers are now in command of very considerable ships of war and yet how little training that they have had in order to make them qualified for this tremendous job. The work which is being done by H.M.S. "King Alfred" is, not only an amazing tribute to the Navy but it has shown us some new techniques in education.

I rose to put one or two questions to the right hon. Gentleman and to the Financial Secretary. If you take the Sea Cadets, the "Y" scheme and H.M.S. "King Alfred," and the six months' course at the universities, it is true to say that the Navy, for the first time, has become part of the nation. Before, naval training was a thing apart. There is force in the remarks which have been made by my hon. Friend the Member for the Forest of Dean (Mr. Price). But I do not believe that you can reproduce A.B.C.A. in quite the same way as you do in the Army. A ship is a different proposition from a regiment, which has more opportunities available. I was going to intervene in a question which the hon. Member for the Combined English Universities (Miss Rath-bone) put to the Prime Minister to-day, as to whether A.B.C.A. and "The British Way and Purpose" could not be more utilised in other Services. I do not think they ought to be. I would like to see a greater variety, and the Navy develop its own scheme on original lines. The conception of a nation in training which we see before us to-day in the Services is something which, I hope, can be taken over into peacetime. How is this to be done? I remember that when I was Civil Lord a great deal of criticism that you could not extend this to secondary schools. It was said that there was something peculiar about the naval officer and he ought to come through a particular channel. Obviously that was not true. Dartmouth has been democratised. Could the hon. Member tell us something of the secondary schools from which boys have come and is the Admiralty keeping a record of their after careers?

Obviously that was never true, and I should like to know, if it is not published already, the names of the secondary schools from which these boys would come. Boys are dying to get into the Navy and into the Merchant Service, and at Aberdovey there is one of the most interesting experiments in this country where boys are going through 28 days' training. They have some boat work and some simple navigation, obviously not very much in 28 days—but many have been discovered to be born seamen although they have come in most cases from London and from the inland towns.

As to the university course, if there is any conception after this war of some form of national service are there not the elements of a new technique present there? These two or three days combined with ordinary education have been a complete eye-opener; I have been to the universities and seen these courses in operation. There again is something which might be developed. I remember the time eight years ago when we tried to get some knowledge of naval training into the schools—Admiral Dunbar-Nasmith was then Second Sea Lord—and we could not get the local authorities in this country to take any interest. Fortunately that is all changed now, but how long is it going to last?

There is also the dockyard school which has just achieved its centenary which my right hon. Friend went down to celebrate last year. That has anticipated young peoples' colleges by 100 years. I think we may look to much of the education work in the Navy as a guide as well as to the somewhat dull work that is going on outside. In other words the schools of this country tend to get too much out of touch, not only with life but with the elements, the sea, the mountains and the countryside. As far as the sea is concerned, it has been borne on me more and more during the last three or four years that the average boy between the ages of 14 and 18, if given a chance, would join the Sea Cadets or some similar body. You could quadruple the sea cadets to-morrow if you had the officers. Instead of 50,000 you would have 200,000. In the Sea Cadet camp in Scotland this summer we had practically no equipment, unfortunately, and if it had not been for two Cadet officers, one of whom had yachting experience, 1,000 boys who gave up a week of their holiday would not have had this chance of learning the elements of seamanship, and we were only able to "scrounge" equipment at the last moment.

My remarks are only made because I am immensely glad to see this new development right through from the age of adolescence up to the university, and in this I believe there are lessons to be applied both to ordinary education and to some form of national service after the war. I hope that, in replying, the Minister may be able to tell us (a) a little more of what has been happening at Dartmouth and (b), whether adult education, which has taken this quite extraordinary development in the Army, could not also be developed by some more novel method, apart from the libraries and the grand work which has been done by Dr. Albert Mansbridge in the past, through some closer relation of adult education to the actual technical life of the sailor. I do not believe you can teach civics in a vacuum. It ought to be connected with the actual life the man is living. And there is so much in the life of the sea from which, if you have the right people to develop it, you could develop a first class curriculum of studies. There is a change for experiment and I think the Admiralty is just a little wooden on this point. I have had to address two or three courses to officers—American, British and Dominion—at Oxford and I have noticed that only lately are there any sailors there. There are all ranks of the other Services but not the Navy. Why? Is it still impossible to have all ranks on a course like that at Balliol or at this House? I do not see why it should be, and I therefore support what my hon. Friend said about broadening the general approach to adult education in the Navy, but I also congratulate my right hon. Friend on the excellent work which has been done in the last few years.

Mr. Hugh Lawson (Skipton)

It is with a little diffidence that I rise to support this Amendment because I am neither a professional educationist nor am I in the Navy, but I have seen something of education in all three Services, particularly in the Army when stationed at Gibraltar, where it was possible to have very close contact between the three Services. I feel that there are some general principles which apply not only to the Navy but to education in the Services generally, and it is on those one or two points that I want to speak in support of this Amendment. I am particularly interested in general education, the sort of education for citizenship that the hon. Member for the Forest of Dean (Mr. Price) talked about. There seem to me to be three reasons why we should have this type of education in the Services and, in this case, in the Navy. In the first place I think it was introduced to combat boredom. I am not going to suggest that in the Navy, when ships are a[...] sea, there is any large amount of boredom in the same way that you can get bored in the Army, but I imagine that in shore stations you have exactly the same problem in the Navy as in the other Services.

Secondly, general education of this nature is necessary so that we may consciously build up morale in the way Cromwell did in his Army of Ironsides, so, that when people realise what the war is about, and the issues involved, they will be all the keener and more determined fighting men. That is a thing which must lie at the root of our approach to this subject. Thirdly, we must realise that the war is not really an end in itself but is only justified if it is leading to something better in the peace. Even during a war we must link victory with the tasks of peace, and so have this constant training for citizenship to see if it is not possible to keep the values of civic virtue in being during the war and that they do not get lost in our concentration on matters of destruction. It is, therefore, on those three points that I think we should try to base our education.

Something has already been said about what is being done in the Army, and I am not going to elaborate on the business of the Army Bureau of Current Affairs, which is well known to all hon. Members. I would, however, like to say what has been my experience of the advantages and disadvantages of this particular method, so that when we come to the consideration of the application of these principles to the Navy it may be helpful. I think A.B.C.A. is good because it is widespread. The material, on the whole, has been good, and it is put out not as a basis for a lecture to be delivered, but as a basis for discussion, and A.B.C.A, without discussion is not carrying out the spirit of the thing. The disadvantages I find are these: that it is compulsory, and education of this nature which is compulsory tends to detract from it. I am not suggesting that we should debar people from the opportunity of having this sort of instruction in normal training times, but if your audience is not voluntary it is not quite so easy to get the stuff over. That has been my experience, anyway. I have asked one or two naval officers of my acquaintance if they have met these pamphlets in the Navy and one said, "Yes, the A.B.C.A. pamphlets are circulated with the Intelligence Summary every week, which is only seen by certain high officers, and it is just minuted from one officer to another." This may be only an isolated example at a shore station, but it seems to one that we are not doing much good with these pamphlets it that is all that is happening to them in the Navy.

The second aspect of education we have in the Army and, it has been suggested, it is applicable to the Navy, is the "British Way and Purpose." Although we cannot quarrel with the truth of the facts set out in the "British Way and Purpose" it seems to me that they are in the form of a lecture which has to be delivered with the inference that no questions shall be asked. Every topic is approached in a non-controversial manner and that lacks something if we are to try to develop awareness of the issues which are at stake in this war. Therefore, it is rather on the style of A.B.C.A., rather than the "British Way and Purpose," that we should concentrate in the Navy.

There is a third matter on which I can speak from my own personal experience, namely, voluntary education. When conditions in Gibraltar were static, and when people were thrown more or less on their own resources for recreation, it was easy for societies and groups of all sorts to spring up. There was much spontaneous cultural activity at the station which, according to the persons who have left there recently, is still going on and increasing. At the back of this voluntary effort there were people like the sergeants in the Army Educational Corps. I do not know much about naval schoolmasters but I have gathered that most of them are regulars. I found in the Army Educational Corps that those who had come in from civil life to teach for the period of the war were the mainsprings of discussion groups in units, debating societies and suchlike. They were the people who were making the best approach to the question of general education for citizenship.

There were two kinds of groups. One was held on a unit basis one night a week, when anything from a dozen to 100 men would gather in their own time and arrange their own programme, and the other was run on a wider basis, such as groups, in which members of the three Services could meet—an excellent thing. We managed at that station to go even further and to arrange broadcasts over the local radio diffusion system. That could be done on large ships where there is public address equipment. We also had a troops' magazine which not only had the usual amusing cartoons and stories which one expects in such magazines but also articles on controversial matters such as politics. The basis of this education, which was going on primarily in the Army and also in the R.A.F., and to a smaller extent in the Navy, was that it was linked with present day problems, especially the problems of post-war reconstruction. It tried to give a driving force to those who were endeavouring to encourage controversy. Such things as the Beveridge Report, medical services and town planning were discussed to good purpose and at great length. That is the sort of education which will make people more aware of the things for which we are fighting and will make them better citizens. It will also counteract boredom, if there be any boredom. It is almost impossible for one to get up and talk on town planning or the Beveridge Report without somebody asking, at question time, whether all this will be possible unless we have some changes in the economic system. This is not the time or place to enlarge on that theme, but I want to say that you cannot discuss to-day's problems intelligently without getting on to politics.

Perhaps the reason why the Navy lags behind in this aspect of education is because its traditions and regulations are more stringent as regards political activity than are the regulations of the Army or Air Force. Paragraph 17 of King's Regulations and Admiralty Instructions states, among other things, of persons belonging to the Fleet: They are further forbidden, without first obtaining Admiralty permission, to deliver publicly, or broadcast, or read any paper on such subjects or in any public speech dealing with such subjects, to express opinions which are likely to give rise to controversy. Such subjects include "matters of public policy." Paragraph 18 states: Any form of political activity on His Majesty's ships, or in Naval Establishments, is prohibited. If a Service is putting a strong clamp on the expression of opinion on matters of public interest which may be controversial you cannot, in that atmosphere expect any great development of general education for citizenship or awareness of what the war is all about. I would like the First Lord to apply his mind to that problem. This is not the time to ask for an alteration of the Regulations, but I think that we might ask for a different spirit, so that education could be developed on more liberal lines. As a result of these activities, which we see in the Army at Gibraltar and which could take place in the Navy, we should get a better understanding of present day issues. We should get better fighting men and boredom, if such exists, would be relieved. We are looking to the future, and I think we should get more people consciously to develop their citizenship.

This House has gone to some pains to prepare schemes whereby those in the Services shall be able to record their votes. If people have a right to do that, surely they may have the right to educate themselves so that they can do it in a reasonable and fitting way. Quite recently the Prime Minister expressed the view that it was a very good thing that members of the Services should be represented in the House. If we are going to expect after the war, and after a General Election, large numbers of candidates who have seen service, we shall also expect that during the war there should be a large amount of political activity in the three Services. To some extent that is possible in the Army and the Air Force, but I do not think it is very possible in the Navy. If the First Lord is looking for an increase in education in the Navy I think he should start looking at the Regulations.

Commander King-Hall (Ormskirk)

I think the hon. Member who has just spoken is mistaken in supposing it is impossible to have boredom in ships at sea. Unless the Navy has very greatly changed since the four years of the last war I spent at sea, one's life might be described as long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of intense fear. Although I admit that the air meance has probably added somewhat to the general state of alertness, I can assure the hon. Member that there are very long periods of boredom. In a general way I wish to support the arguments of the mover of the Amendment, though there were one or two details on which I cannot go all the way with him. When he spoke of the Navy being a kind of elephant following the other two Services through the jungle, it sounded as if he wanted to put the Navy on wheels or caterpillar tracks, a difficult and dangerous operation. I must confess, though, that when I see some of the latest landing craft it is hard to know where the Navy ends and the Army begins. Perhaps the Navy should be described as a maid of all work. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Lewes (Rear-Admiral Beamish) made one suggestion which I should like to support very strongly. It was that arrangements should be made whereby serving officers should come to the House and, presumably, give short talks on various technical aspects of modern war. Very soon after I came to to the House I put up a suggestion of that kind. The reason I made the suggestion was that I was standing by the tape machine and an hon. Member turned round to me and said: "How do they sweep these mines up? With a kind of shovel?" I then began to realise how necessary it was for hon. Members to have instruction in the modern aspects of modern war. There is a vast range of subjects in which no question of security is involved, such as the number of ships needed to move a division. I have a very high opinion of the staff officers of the Services, who are perfectly competent to come here and answer questions, and hon. Members need not imagine that the Services could not put up people who could evade any question not properly put such as matters regarding their plans and preparations. I feel that the Minister of Defence will not support the proposal, nevertheless I make it, because I believe it is important that Members should understand facts which are well known to the German General Staff.

I am glad of an opportunity of speaking to the Amendment, because I want to pay a tribute to the work of the naval education authorities and, by implication, to the great educational movement that is taking place throughout the Forces. War is, of course, an evil thing and, viewed objectively, it is a terrible indictment of our civilisation that hundreds of thousands of the best of our young men and women are having to spend these years of their lives and devote their energies to destructive purposes. Therefore, it is a consoling thought that, to an extent which I am sure is unparalleled in our history, we are combining military operations for the defence of our liberties with what I may call intellectual operations calculated to make our soldiers, sailors and airmen better fitted to make use of their liberties when they are finally freed from Nazi aggression. We are engaged in the consideration of an Education Bill part of which consists of provision for adult education. It must be many years before those provisions can possibly come into force, whatever they may be, but I am very thankful that many hundreds of thousands of our people in the Services are now enjoying this adult education and some good, at any rate, is coming out of the war in that respect.

The educational activities of the Services are really one single problem and should be discussed as such. We still have the mid-Victorian custom by which the Service Estimates are presented one by one, as if the three Services lived in watertight compartments. One must confine oneself to-day to the naval side of the subject, but I hope that one of the educative results of the war will be a realisation that one Debate should be devoted to Service problems as a whole—a much-needed reform.

The mover of the Amendment stressed the difficulties that are particularly attendant on education afloat. That is a second point on which I differ from him. The naval authorities, as a matter of fact, have a very great advantage over the other Services as far as the Navy afloat is concerned. The personnel is ready at hand in the extremely confined space of a ship. They have not to stagger out across a wind-swept barrack square. They are there right under the hand of the commanding officer and the education authority. The counter-attractions of a town often do not exist even if the ship is at a place which I will not specify for security reasons but which naval officers will recognise as having been described as miles and miles of water surrounded by miles and miles of—I will leave the rest of the sentence to the imagination of the House. But it will be recognised by naval officers. With an exceedingly high percentage of the Navy—as the First Lord pointed out to-day, hostilities only mean people who were civilians four years ago—the Navy, of course, has a great responsibility for doing all it can to make its men good citizens as well as good sailors, and I am sure the House will support their Lordships in anything required to carry out that task.

I have three suggestions to make, and there is one assurance that I wish to ask for. The first suggestion is that courses should be started for young men who may desire to take up the teaching profession after the war. I want the President of the Board of Education to go to H.M.S. "President," that is the Admiralty, and pay a call on the First Lord and discuss the subject. We all know the difficulties which the President of the Board of Education will be up against in the provision of teachers. I want the House to imagine the effect on a village school of a schoolmaster who has sailed the seven seas under the White Ensign, who has been to the Far East and has served all over the world. When he is doing a geography lesson and talks about the Suez Canal, he can say that he has been there and knows what it looks like, and what happened to him at Port Said if he was unlucky. I appreciate that the Board of Education will say that teachers must have proper qualifications but nowadays it is not impossible to have examination papers sent out, and if a young man has had three or four years' experience in the Navy and is of the right type, I would swallow him as a village schoolmaster even if his academic qualifications were not quite up to standard.

The second suggestion is concerned with what will happen when the European war is over. The First Lord indicated something of that problem to-day. It is probably certain that the Navy will be operating in a very big way, and for quite a long time, in the Far East. That war will be an oceanic war over vast spaces, which one cannot imagine unless he has seen them. Ships will be at sea for days and days, and the conditions will be almost like those of the Napoleonic war—something such as we had at the beginning of this war—but greatly magnified. The First Lord must be making plans now for the naval operations that will take place out there, and I ask him to make special plans for the educational operations which should accompany the Far Eastern war. I hope he will be able to have a really good education service. The strain on our resources will be relieved by the fact of the European war being over, and he should be able to draw on resources for the use of the Fleet which are possibly not now at his disposal.

The third suggestion is that the Navy should take a leaf out of the Army's book in one small respect. It is one that should be of special interest to this House. The Army Council, by arrangement with the Empire Parliamentary Union, has been arranging for military officers from every Command to come to the House of Commons for a short three days' course on Parliamentary affairs. I can assure the House that it has been a great success and has been much appreciated by these officers. I would like the First Lord to consider whether some naval officers could come from the home ports on this course. It is a great mistake to imagine that everybody in naval uniform is floating about on the ocean all the time. There are large numbers in the home ports. There is a staff college which, I was glad to hear, has been revived. It is a serious matter that it ever had to be closed, and I am delighted that it has been opened up again. I had the privilege of talking to some of the officers there a few nights ago, and I can assure the House that they are thoroughly on the top line with every sort of modern problem. I am convinced that these officers would greatly appreciate being allowed to come up to the Parliamentary courses which are being organised by the Army Council and the Empire Parliamentary Union, and I hope that the First Lord will give favourable consideration to the idea. The Secretary of State for War said in his speech on the Army Estimates that other Services had followed the lead of the Army in education. It used to be usual for the Navy to lead the way in combined operations; it may be that now we must admit that the Air Force has to lead the way, but certainly the Navy must not be behind the Army—

Mr. Alexander

The Navy at Salerno had to take the Fleet Air Arm carriers.

Commander King-Hall

We are not in disagreement on the part the Navy has played in actual operations. All kinds of naval services had the most intolerable strain on them in the early days of the war. Things are not so bad now. It may be true that, in respect of education, the Navy has been a little astern of station, but I hope that it will ring down for some more knots and get up to where I expect it to be, right in front. I do not see any reason why the officers of the staff college should not attend the Parliamentary courses and similar courses.

I come to the assurance that I want to receive from the First Lord, and I will not take "No" as an answer from him. When I was on the Naval Staff I spent a good deal of my time drafting documents to persuade their Lordships to spend more money on the Navy, and we never found the Treasury easy to overcome in argument. I have no doubt that my right hon. Friend finds it much easier now, in war time, to get what he wants, but even so I venture to surmise that it is not just a case of "Ask and ye shall receive." I want to draw his particular attention to one fact. If he turns to column 1544, of HANSARD of 1st March, 1944, he will find that I succeeded in getting him something for nothing for naval education. In order to satisfy his curiosity without further delay, I will tell him that he will see in that column that the Treasury has undertaken to supply extra copies of the HANSARD of both Houses to the educational centres of the Navy. I asked for 100 copies, and that is worth £550 a year. It may not sound much, but I venture to say that it is perhaps the first time a back bench Member has obtained money for the Naval Estimates, and it is an interesting precedent of which I hope their Lordships will take due note. I would like the House to take note of the fact that this is probably the only time in their lives when, in the course of the year, some of my naval friends, their Lordships, are in fact politicians. That is not always known to their Lordships. They are not paid on the Naval Vote, they are not on full pay, they are on half-pay, and they put their names, although they are naval officers, on the bottom of the Estimates. I therefore submit that I am really in order in addressing their Lordships as if they were politicians; in fact, in the last century they changed every time the Government changed. Technically they are not subject to naval discipline, they cannot be court-martialled, and they have a legal right to resign. I hope I shall receive an assurance that the Admiralty will reap where I have sown, and that—and I am going to mix my metaphors—they will not look these gift HANSARDS in the mouth, but will see that this bread is cast upon the waters.

The Financial Secretary to the Admiralty (Mr. J. P. L. Thomas)

I am sure the House will agree that the hon. Member for the Forest of Dean (Mr. Price) was justified in saying at the beginning of his able and helpful speech that he would make no apology for the subject of his Amendment. He feared that the subject might seem to be a dull one, but in a Session when the whole future of education is before the House it is very necessary that we in the Admiralty should be able to show that the Navy is doing its share. The hon. and gallant Member for Lewes (Rear-Admiral Beamish) and the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay) spoke from their personal experience of the Navy and the Admiralty, and we welcome their wise advice and suggestions. I can answer straight away the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes that, as far as the Royal Naval College at Greenwich is concerned, we intend to increase our relations with the civil universities. I can assure him also that the general obligations of the college will be extended in peace time, though I cannot go so far as to say that it will be able to take in all the candidates whom he said were in need of a course at Greenwich. We were also glad to have the personal experience of the hon. Member for Skipton (Mr. H. Lawson). I can assure the hon. and gallant Member for Ormskirk (Commander King-Hall) that educational plans in the Japanese war are very much in our minds and that the foundations are being laid for them. With regard to HANSARD I am certainly not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. The moment after the great triumph achieved on Wednesday by the hon. and gallant Member, the Admiralty put in their application at once to get this charitable gift, won for us, after a very gallant fight, by the hon. and gallant Member.

The hon. Member for the Forest of Dean rightly reminded the House in moving his Amendment that, in the last four years, men, in the crucial period of their lives, have run grave risk of interruption in their educational career, and suggested that it might be the task of the Admiralty not only to reduce that risk but to go on to develop the whole system of education in the Navy. I will do my best to reassure him on this question. As he asked me to give the House a general picture of naval education I propose to accept the suggestion, and to answer the specific questions raised by him and other hon. Members as I go along. The activities of the educational branch of the Navy may seem less spectacular than those of the other Services, but I think we can claim in the main that the reason is that those activities have been established as part of the Navy for a great number of years. The public have since long ago taken their existence, and I think I may also add, their efficiency, for granted. Really, the public have a very good reason for doing so. If hon. Members will consider what the achievements of the Royal Navy have been, I believe they will agree with me. My right hon. Friend the First Lord gave, in the speech with which he opened the Debate, a long record of successes during the last 12 months. If hon. Members remember, at the same time, how enormously complex the day-to-day work is on even the smallest ship, they will realise how effective the educational branch of the Navy has been.

Behind all these achievements of the Royal Navy there are, as hon. Members will see for themselves, the results of a very thorough technical education. A lot of this educational work which is bearing fruit now was done by the educational branch of the Navy before the war. It is a matter of great pride to the Admiralty, and of great congratulation to the branch concerned, that the peace-time structure has stood up so admirably to the stresses and strains of war. I do not think there is any need for me to explain at length to hon. Members the difficulties of education of the Navy in war-time. Ships at sea during war obviously cannot devote as much time to education as they can in peace-time but, time and again, studies, and examinations—I must ask hon. Members to realise that the Navy manage to tackle even examinations, under the most extraordinary difficult circumstances—are not only carried out, but are liable to be rudely cut short by the approach of the enemy. Still, somehow, these men seem to be able to carry on their educational studies and their examinations at action stations. All these tasks take place in every kind of atmosphere and very often under some very difficult physical conditions.

An example was suggested to me by the hon. Member for the Forest of Dean by something he said in his speech of what I mean by these very difficult conditions. If I have his words down correctly, he spoke of the educational forces behind the Red Army, on the frontier which he must of course have known very well. They are a very great source of pride to the U.S.S.R. I think that we also have reason for great pride in the knowledge that our seamen can take credit for carrying enormous supplies of armaments to help our Russian Allies in their gallant victories, and while doing so have carried on their own education and examinations in the Arctic Circle, even in the depths of winter. I am very glad that my hon. Friend reminded me of that point, by his illustration of the Red Army.

Now, if I may, I will turn to the professional and technical aspect of the educational work of the Navy, which is mentioned in the Amendment. It takes pride of place, as the hon. Member himself said. It is the foundation of the Navy's existence and is the mainstay of all our efforts. It is carried on ceaselessly at colleges and establishments, at all naval bases, on board ship and while in dock, and it varies from the simplest principles of navigation to the intricacies of modern wireless. Instructors and schoolmasters are used both for the theoretical and practical side of this technical work. We have learned by experience that the trained teacher has an advantage every time even over the most experienced practitioner. The House will see the need for carrying the schoolmaster in the battleship, the cruiser and the destroyer—this partly answers the right hon. Member for South West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris)—as well as on shore establishments. I know the House will realise that it is not possible to carry educational officers in some of the smaller ships, so special arrangements are made at the bases from which these smaller ships operate, so that there will be no break in the link between the men on the smaller ships and the shore establishments. Everything is done to keep the technical and professional ability of the officers up to the highest possible pitch.

A question was put to me by the hon. Member for the Forest of Dean on the need for a separate naval institution—if I have his words down aright—for research and education in the science of naval aircraft production. The hon. Member is perfectly correct in saying that the Navy has no separate institution for learning about the science of naval aircraft construction. Both the Navy and the Royal Air Force entrust this work to the Ministry of Aircraft Production. We have in those establishments of the Ministry a great number of naval officers who have contributed of their knowledge, and have gained further experience. More than that I do not think I can usefully say at the moment. Quite frankly, the hon. Member has raised a question of basic principle involving more than one Government Department and I really am afraid that, if I go on any further, I shall be well outside the scope of the Amendment.

Mr. Price

May I have the assurance that this matter is being considered?

Mr. Thomas

Yes, Sir, certainly. I am glad to give the hon. Member that assurance, but I do not think I can go more into detail at the present moment on this present Amendment. There is much more I can say about technical training and that must be obvious to the House, but I have other forms of education to tackle, in answer to the questions of hon. Members. I think I can leave technical education by saying that the House and the country have seen, during the last four years, the practical achievements of technical education in the face of the enemy, and I, for one, am prepared to leave the matter there and to let those achievements speak for themselves.

The hon. Member who moved the Amendment said quite rightly that the sailor cannot live by technical and scientific knowledge alone. Of course, he cannot, and that brings me at once to general education. I use the expression "general education" in the most specific sense. I propose to deal separately with adult education. General education is not compulsory for ratings, except in the communications branch, either during their preliminary training or during their subsequent service, but the Navy provides three education tests, for those who wish to do them. The first is elementary, the second is on secondary school lines, and the third approximates to matriculation standard.

The House will be relieved to know that, in spite of the four last strenuous years of war, the results of these examinations are extremely satisfactory, and the figures of candidates who pass the higher educational tests is on the increase. I think also I should point out to the House that these tests are worth whole noting, as one of the ways in which the Navy, while filling its own immediate needs, is giving these men the kind of help which will remain with them and help them when peace comes. I ought to add that "hostility only" ratings who wish to improve their educational standard, either before or after selection as candidates for a commission, receive every help and encouragement from the educational officers. My hon. Friend has drawn attention to the importance of that help, and I am grateful to him for having done so to-day.

I have tried to show how the Navy, while meeting its own needs at the present time is also attempting to minimise the break which the war has caused in civilian lives, especially in those of the younger men who would in peace time have been receiving education in one form or other. We have a duty to them and an even more important duty to the boys who enter for continuous service. Their welfare is the very special care of the education branch. They receive compulsory education as a regular thing up to the age of 18, which fulfils the same object as does the scheme of young people's colleges under the Education Bill which is before the House at the moment.

If I add only a sentence or two about the W.R.N.S. I hope the House will not think me discourteous or unappreciative of all that they do. The fact remains that the W.R.N.S. had one of these Amendments all to themselves in the Debate on the Navy Estimates last year and, after all the same principles and the same ideals, and to a very large extent the same machinery, apply. Of course it has to be adapted to suit the particular Service. It applies to them as I have described it as applying to other branches of the Navy in an earlier part of my speech. I have looked up last year's Debate and I see that my hon. Friend the Member for East Islington (Mrs. Cazalet Keir) drew special attention on that occasion to the need to increase the educational work in the W.R.N.S. A great deal has been achieved, and as my hon. and gallant Friend the Civil Lord promised, the educational organisation has been strengthened and is going on being strengthened still at the present time.

The hon. Member for the Forest of Dean came in his Amendment and in his speech to the question of adult education. I would remind the House that adult education is a war-time development to meet the needs of a war-time service. The Admiralty realises its full importance, but it is quite impossible to organise it in the same way for the Navy as for the other Services. I assure hon. Members that we have made several attempts, but the more attempts we make the more we are confirmed in our opinion of the difficulty of setting up compulsory classes in current affairs and the responsibilities of citizenship.

I think this perhaps is one of the reasons, and I hope that the House will not misunderstand me in what I am going to say—I think I can claim that there is in the Navy less waiting for strategic employment. The Navy, after all, is always in the front line. At sea watch-keeping is continuous, and every man is potentially on duty all the time. Even when a ship is in port the Service duties of a sailor are, as I feel that the House will realise, pretty continuous. In training establishments there is always the overrriding consideration of intensive training in the art of war. At drafting depots there is always a shifting population and more intensive training, and there is the reasonable demand by sailors for as much time off as possible before going on the next draft. Throughout the Navy, and especially at those home bases where a proportion of men are standing by for lengthy periods, lectures and lecture courses are in full swing. They cover a very wide range. Our ideal throughout adult education is to build up a balanced understanding of the war and current events and problems, and full appreciation of a man's responsibilities as a citizen.

Perhaps I can best illustrate what I mean and also the whole range of activities, by giving the House two specific examples which have come to me. I should like first to quote a paragraph of a letter from a schoolmaster in a ship off Italy. It came to the Admiralty a few months ago. He says: Sicily, then Italy, and finally Salerno gave us plenty to cope with. Since then we have had a lot of fun with debates and discussions. Last Sunday I gave the men some idea of the educational system of England as a preliminary to the White Paper when we eventually see it. I assure the House they have by now. Over 120 men attended and the discussion went on for two hours till pipe down and the men are still asking questions about it. There is a real wave of enthusiasm among a lot of men to be doing something. The other example I should like to give to the House is this: I have taken for their information the present month's programme, that is mid-February to late March, at one very important naval base. The subjects include a pretty wide range, to begin with "Modern America." They go on to "The U.S.S.R.," "How native races are governed," "Farming in its possible post-war developments," "The Far East," "South-Eastern Europe," "Our sea tradition" and "The French naval disaster." I call that a pretty mixed bag, and a pretty useful bag. Also the House might like to know that officers and ratings help us with lecturing. We take care to see that first-hand information is given to the men about actions with the enemy and about those spheres of war in which those men to whom the lecture is being given have not yet played a part. That meets to a certain extent the point made by the hon. and gallant Member for Ormskirk about developments in the Japanese war.

There have been many lecturers from among hon. Members of this House. They have travelled to the very far corners of this country—I see some of them in their places at this moment—at great discomfort to themselves, and I would like to say how grateful the Board of Admiralty is to them for their kindness and help to all of us on all occasions in this matter of lecturing.

The hon. Member for the Forest of Dean praised the adult educational work of the Army. We share his opinion. We have already got adult educational work of our own but not to the extent which I know the hon. Member for Kilmarnock would wish. We supplement this work and we are indeed grateful to the Army for making it possible for us to do so, with the A.B.C.A. pamphlets, and "The British Way and Purpose." I have gone very carefully into this matter raised by the hon. Member for the Forest of Dean. I can assure him that these circulars really do no vanishing trick as I think he suggested in his speech. Very frequently we get letters to the Admiralty telling us how much they are appreciated and how very grateful the recipients are.

I must pay this tribute to the Central Advisory Committee for Adult Education in His Majesty's Forces, and to similar bodies for lectures and discussions, and to the various other organisations, too many for me to mention to the House now. Before I leave the subject of adult education, I wish to mention one link between civilian life and the Services which must not be forgotten, the vocational and scholastic correspondence courses. They range very widely, from religion and history to Esperanto and Zoology. These courses cater for every possible field of ambition. Also, adult education; as hon. Members have said, is vastly helped by films. From the very early days the Navy have been careful to develop the use of the film industry throughout the Fleet, both for training and for entertainment.

I have left to the end my reply to the hon. Member for the Forest of Dean about the men of the educational branch. He devoted considerable time to that question. I now propose to give the answer. The main work of education is done by instructors and schoolmaster officers. These men are trained teachers: perhaps hon. Members do not realise to what extent they are also members of the fighting organisation of the Fleet. They have their action stations. They occupy positions which need scientific qualifications, and instructor officers carry out much of the meteorological work of the Navy. Officers of the educational branch have their share of honours and distinctions for gallantry. Shells and bombs are very much, in these days, a civilian possession, as well as the possession of Service people; but I was told only the other day a very strictly authenticated story of a shell which passed straight through the legs of an educational officer. It brought home vividly to me the conditions under which many of these men of the educational branch are serving in action to-day. The House will probably think it a wise decision that instructors and schoolmaster officers serve both at sea and ashore. Therefore, they can gain experience alternately of work both at sea and ashore Schoolmasters are graduates or certificated teachers.

I was also asked whether there were not among them a large number of honours graduates of other universities than Oxford and Cambridge who should be moved up to the instructor branch. The only ones with the academic qualifications of instructors serving in the schoolmaster branch are a few who chose to do so when they were not selected for the instructor branch, and a few who did so some years ago in the absence of instructor vacancies. The question of whether they come from provincial universities does not enter into the matter. I am authorised by my right hon. Friend the First Lord to say that he was very much impressed by what the hon. Member for the Forest of Dean and other Members said about the status of the schoolmaster branch, and that he intends, on going back from this Debate, to give that question his own personal inquiry and supervision. My hon. Friend was kind enough to warn me in advance that he felt that perhaps in the instructor branch Oxford and Cambridge were favoured at the expense of other universities. I have gone into the figures which he gave me. He is torn, as I know, between his love for his old University of Cambridge, and the desire that Oxford and Cambridge should not overwhelm the others. Having gone into the figures, I can give the perfect diplomatic answer. Counting all the instructor officers serving on the active and retired lists, Cambridge is first, but only equal first with London University. Oxford, for some reason which I cannot understand, is well down the course, with only 15 per cent., and other universities have 25 per cent. There has been a great influx from London since the last war and it may well be that when the Estimates come before the House next year Cambridge no longer will hold the lead.

We propose to accept the Amendment in principle—and I am very careful in the use of the words "in principle." If I did not use those words I am afraid that, you, Sir, would be confined to your Chair for some time. As we are accepting the Amendment in principle, I hope that the hon. Member will not forget to withdraw it, when I have finished, if he approves of my speech. Already I have asked a lot of the patience of the House to-day, but I have tried to show that the work of the educational branch of the Navy, to which I pay once more a final tribute, is not only wide, but, in the fullest sense of the word, systematic. My hon. Friend, if I understood him aright, wishes the Navy to emulate the ideals of the Minister of Education, which this House at the moment is passing into legislation. The Navy's first object in war is to seek out the enemy and destroy him; but I think I can assure my hon. Friend that we are not behind the Minister of Education and his ideals. If ever there is a gap between the needs of the Service for education and the machinery which provides it, it will be a very sad day for the Service and for this country; but I do not believe that such a day will ever come.

Earl Winterton (Horsham and Worthing)

Before my hon. Friend withdraws the Amendment, I think it might be appropriate if I said with what great interest we listened to the admirable speech of Financial Secretary, and the great felicity with which he dealt with the subject on his first appearance at the Box. My only excuse for saying that—it is probably egoistic, but not egotistic of me—is that I was a Parliamentary Private Secretary at the Admiralty nearly 40 years ago, thus having been connected with a Ministry before any other Member now in the House, including the Prime Minister.

Mr. Price

I would like to thank my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary for his most able and interesting speech, and to say, as that as this was his first time of speaking at that Box, that I hope he will have many other successes of a similar kind. I appreciate the spirit in which he replied to my Amendment. I accept what he says, that the Government, in their turn, accept the principle of my Amendment. I do not want to keep you, Sir, sitting in that Chair indefinitely—though I believe it is historically recorded that a Speaker in the days of Queen Elizabeth had to sit in that Chair for three days and three nights. Also, I do not wish to deprive my right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Vote, which he will not get unless you leave the Chair, and therefore being satisfied that the principle of the Amendment is accepted, I beg to ask leave to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," again proposed.

Rear-Admiral Sir Murray Sueter (Hertford)

I should like to join other Members in congratulating the First Lord on the fine survey which he has given of the work of the Navy during the past year. As an old torpedoist, I was very glad to hear the tributes he paid to my old colleague, Admiral Sir Dudley Pound. Sir Dudley Pound was a great servant of the State. He worked long hours, and grappled with the problems before him in the most able manner, and I am certain that the hard work he put in contributed to his early end. I am certain that the Alexander-Pound administration will go down to history as one of fine record and of very great achievement. I congratulate the First Lord upon the success of his administration. The Navy ended last year in a fine way by the sinking of the battleship "Scharnhorst." That was an operation which was very well carried out and was in the highest traditions not only of the British Navy, but also of the fighting Frasers, and all Scotsmen will agree with that. The hon. Member for South Edinburgh (Sir S. Chapman) will agree that no happier man existed than Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser when he sank the "Scharnhorst" with the guns and torpedoes of his Fleet. The First Lord mentioned the midget submarines. As an old submarine officer, I admire the wonderful work of these small submarines. When we first introduced submarines into the Service, I commanded most of the early Holland submarines when putting them through their acceptance tests, and I can assure my colleagues that to take a submarine across the North Sea, and dodge all the nets and mines and so on, demanded courage of a very high order indeed. We were delighted when we saw that the gallant captains of the submarines and their crews had been decorated by His Majesty the King for damaging the German battleship "Tirpitz."

The First Lord devoted a good deal of attention in his speech to the work of the Fleet Air Arm, and there was a very fine booklet issued the other day about the achievements of the Fleet Air Arm right from the day of the reconnaissance work, when the "Graf Spee" was shadowed before the River Plate Battle and included the Battle of Bomba Bay, which was a great achievement for the Fleet Air Arm. There, the Swordfishes hit four enemy ships with three shots. In the last war the Admiralty sent one of our aircraft carriers to the Dardanelles in command of an old colleague of ours, Lieut.-Commander L'Estrange Malone, who, I believe was Member for Northampton. He was a great officer. He took his ship to the Dardanelles, sent a flight of three seaplanes armed with torpedoes and got three hits on three enemy ships. We thought that a great achievement—100 per cent. of hits—but now the Fleet Air Arm has knocked that record out. We have read of the Battle of Taranto and that great victory was planned by Admiral Lister and Captain Boyd in command of the "Industrious." He secured, with his pilots, a great achievement by knocking out half the Italian battleships, many cruisers and supply ships. There was Sardinia and the Matapan, where Admiral Cunningham had a very great victory and, following that, there was the sinking of the "Bismarck." All that was done through the co-operation of the Fleet Air Arm and the Navy. I am certain that the Admirals concerned will pay tribute to the Fleet Air arm for their devotion to duty and their assistance in these victories.

The only criticism that I have heard about the Fleet Air Arm is that they are very short of spares. If we are to have operations in the Far East, as we certainly shall have when Germany is defeated, it will be very awkward indeed if the carriers have not a sufficient supply of spares for their aircraft. I ask the First Lord to have that matter looked into to see that the position is put right. Many officers come over from America. They are told that when they get over to England there will be plenty of spares for aircraft, and when the pilots get here they find it is not so. I want my right hon. Friend to give an assurance to the House that the Fifth Sea Lord has proper technical advice. People often say to me, "It is all very fine talking. You are the Admiral who built up a very efficient technical section when in charge of the Royal Naval Air Service, but that does not now exist in the Admiralty." The position of the Fifth Lord would be strengthened if he had a really high-class technical expert to advise him. Surely, there must be some big men, who perhaps are not in the right place now and who could take charge of the technical section of the Admiralty with a few assistants. It need only be a small section. Aircraft are altering almost every day and technical questions often arise, and it would help the First Sea Lord to have a really first-class technical expert at his elbow.

I want to touch upon another point. The question of sea time of sea officers will, I hope, be settled. It is not fair to the naval airmen who are kept in appointments for long periods by the necessity of their service to be told that they cannot get promotion because they have not got in their proper sea time. On the last Navy Estimates I raised the question of a very distinguished flag officer not having received adequate recognition, and I was going to do so to-day, but, unfortunately, he has passed on, and I need not pursue that any more, except to say that it is very regrettable that that distinguished officer did not receive proper recognition for his air work, etc., from the Admiralty. I received a letter from another naval air officer complaining that the Order in Council had been altered and that had prevented him from reaching flag rank. I asked the First Lord a Question about this, and he gave a long reply and admitted that the Order in Council had been altered. I want to tell the First Lord that the original Order in Council, of 16th July, 1914, was carefully drawn up by the present Prime Minister and myself. We went through all its clauses and did everything we could to protect the air officer.

The reason we did this was because we could not get enough naval captains to join the Naval Air Service. They would not come. I remember that I tried to leave the Naval Air Service before the last war. I asked nine different officers to come and relieve me, and not one would agree to do so. Unfortunately, the war broke out, and I had to continue at the Department. These regulations were drawn up to protect the naval air officer. Service in the Royal Naval Air Service should count in all respects as service in ships of war at sea. Now the First Lord says that he cannot be promoted to flag rank because he has not had actual service in command of one of His Majesty's ships. When that Order in Council was altered, Captain Briggs was never told. I was not told. At that time I was Superintendent of Aircraft Construction at the Admiralty and I knew nothing about it until I received the letter from Captain Briggs. I and all my colleagues here represent the people of this country, and it is our duty to see that these men do not get a bad deal.

Here is a case of an officer getting a bad deal from the Admiralty, and I ask the First Lord to refer this matter to the Law Officers of the Crown for their opinion, and also to the Sea Lords. The Sea Lords now have had great victories to their credit, largely due to the torpedo aircraft of the Fleet, but they did not sow the seed; they are reaping what other men sowed. Therefore I ask the First Lord to look into this question again, and give justice to this officer who has been deprived of flag rank.

Mr. Gallacher (Fife, West)

I have been very anxious to say a few words in this Debate because there is a matter to which I want to direct attention, which has not been dealt with to any extent and which I consider to be of the very first importance. I have been the more concerned, in view of the fact that it must be admitted I let down my party very badly by not being present at the battle on Thursday, but that is by the way.

Several hon. Members have spoken about the necessity of drawing lessons from the past. I would touch on only one of these which I hope will be taken serious note of by the Members of the Government. One of the worst things that happened from the point of view of the situation with which this country has been faced during the war was the Anglo-German Naval Treaty. The right hon. Gentleman, who is now Ambassador to Madrid, defended that Treaty and said that it would never be used against this country or against the Empire. The outstanding feature of that Treaty was the right of Germany to build U-boats. The right hon. Gentleman told the House in effect—it is in the records—that these U-boats would never be used against this country or the Empire. Unfortunately for the people of this country and the Empire he was wrong. But fortunately for the people of this country and the Empire, the Navy and the merchant seamen were found capable of standing up to the U-boats, and the U-boat packs, and they have been able to keep the life-lines running all the time.

The First Lord had a story to tell, brilliant in its character, massive in its achievements. It would be trite to say that the present members of the Naval Forces have maintained the tradition of the past; they have not only maintained them but have brilliantly embellished the traditions of the past. It is not a question nowadays of the Nelson touch. There are operations now, such as were never dreamed of before, and all these operations call for initiative, courage and resolution and these have been given in a manner that could not possibly be surpassed. But at what a price to the Navy; at what a price, in like measure to the Merchant Service. Time and again, in the worst days of the U-boat packs and the bombing planes, as I have travelled up and down the country, and have spoken to those lads who were going to join the convoys, I have marvelled at their courage, their unbreakable courage. I often wondered how they could face it, trip after trip. And as we think of them, we think of the mothers and the relatives at home.

I know the mother of one of those lads who served in the convoys, such a fine, big, handsome lad. Time and again he went with the convoys and then, on one occasion, the message is sent to the mother that the lad is missing. How she waited and waited, day after day, night after night, hoping against hope that he might be picked up. Where in history, where in fiction, have there ever been suffering and endurance to equal those of many of our merchant seamen, day after day, week after week, under the harshest conditions, drifting about in the wild water of the oceans. It was a remarkable part of the story that the Minister had to relate about the convoys getting through to Russia, and the success which attended them, but when we think of the convoys getting through, it is not enough to think in terms of ships. We should think of the men who made it possible for the ships to get there, the men who sailed the convoys and the men who protected the convoys. Always there exists this human element, which must be remembered; it is not just a matter of tonnage.

There is something else. In addition to the naval forces, and the merchant seamen, there are the men and women of the shipyards who have toiled and sweated day and night, who have given of their best, so that the men who sail the convoys should have the best ships, and so that these ships should have the best protection. They, also, are worthy of the highest tribute, these men and women in the shipyards.

The point I want to make is this. You have the Navy men, you have the merchant seamen, you have the men and women in the shipyards. They are all complementary. They all fit into a pattern. They are giving service to this country, making it possible to maintain the population of this country, and to maintain the country from invasion and defeat. You cannot think of one without the other. What is the prospect for the future for these men and women in the Forces, in the Merchant Service, in the shipyard, who are serving the country at the present time? I, in common with many Members of this House, have relatives in every branch of the Services, in the Navy as well as in the others. What is the prospect for them in the future? The First Lord can say that so far as the Navy men are concerned, they will be retained in employment, there is no question about that. They will be guaranteed employment. The men who are serving in the Navy are guaranteed employment, but the men who are serving in the Merchant Navy will not be guaranteed employment. The whole position would have been hopeless without these brave men, the lads of the Merchant Navy. Are they not to be guaranteed employment in the future? The men and women in the shipyards—are they to be guaranteed employment after they have toiled and sweated to save this country? No.

There is no guarantee for the Merchant Navy men, no guarantee for the men and women in the shipyards.

Why is this? The First Lord could tell us if he wanted to, but he is very backward on these matters, although I can understand why that is so. The reason is that the State owns and controls the Navy and can guarantee employment to the men who are serving in it but it does not own the merchant ships and when the war is over shipowners, concerned only with profits, will heave them out by the hundreds and thousands. The First Lord must remember those bad years of depression. Maybe he sailed down the Clyde and saw the empty stocks. It was like going through a cemetery; it was ghastly and terrible. That can happen again. If the State owned and controlled the shipping of the country, it could guarantee employment for our Merchant Navy. Some of the old hard-baked Tories who are all for the Navy being in the hands of the State, shake their heads when you talk about the Merchant Service being in the hands of the State. If the shipowners are so clever at running the Merchant Navy, why not hand over the Royal Navy to them? The First Lord has responsibility for men who are in the shipyards, many of whom are Admiralty employees. So long as other yards are left in the hands of private owners, there cannot be guaranteed employment for his own people. If the Government want to do the fair thing by our merchant seamen, and by the men and women who have given so much to the saving of this country, there must be guarantees for the future. The First Lord cannot depend upon the Tories to support him in that.

Mr. Kirkwood (Dumbarton Burghs)

Certainly not.

Mr. Gallacher

If those Tories get the chance, they will destroy this country as they tried to destroy it in the period between the two wars. As regards pay and allowances, I agree that the discussions which are to take place should involve all three Services. It is not enough to pay high tributes to the officers and men of the Navy, however desirable and however much they deserve it. I am pleased that those tributes have been paid, but along with them I want to see proper recognition of those who are serving and proper care and consideration for their dependants at home. I object to philanthropic organisations existing to look after men or women who have been associated with any branch of the three Services. The Admiralty should take the necessary measures and, if necessary, fight the Treasury to see that everything possible is done to provide the highest standard for those who are serving in the Navy and to put an end to such anomalies as that referred to by the hon. and gallant Member for South Paddington (Vice-Admiral Taylor)—the anomaly in connection with officers and marriage deductions. When the Prime Minister said to-day that there would be discussions on Service pay and allowances through the usual channels, I drew attention to my lone and neglected situation and, as a result, I have hopes and expectations that when their discussions—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Charles Williams)

We shall be very near to getting out of Order, if we discuss the hon. Member's loneliness.

Mr. Gallacher

I will not labour that point. I only wanted to suggest that there was no need for me to deal fully with this matter now, because of the high hopes I have of dealing with it elsewhere with the Ministers concerned. I ask the First Lord and the Government to take these matters into account, to give the highest possible standard to the men in the Navy and see that there are the greatest care and attention for their dependants. I ask also that there should be a guarantee for the future, not only for those in the Navy but also for their companions in danger, our merchant seamen, and the men and women in our shipyards who make it possible for them to carry on.

Mr. Guy

I think it is only fair to point out to the hon. Member that merchant seamen have a better guarantee than they had in the last war, as a result of the passing through this House of the Reinstatement in Civil Employment Measure.

Lieut.-Commander Gurney Braithwaite (Holderness)

Perhaps the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) may derive some comfort from a reply, given to me during our discussions on the Reinstatement in Civil Employment Bill, to a question about the future of the Merchant Navy.

Mr. Gallacher

The Bill introduced by the Minister of Labour was admitted by him to be very limited in scope and was criticised by hon. Members opposite on that ground.

Lieut.-Commander Gurney Braithwaite

At the same time the Minister of Labour gave a definite pledge about the future employment of men of the Merchant Navy, but it would be out of Order to develop that on this Debate. The First Lord has had a long day and my only excuse for detaining him a little longer is that I happen to be the first serving officer of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I rise to make three points on the subject of man-power, to which the right hon. Gentleman referred in his excellent speech in introducing the Estimates to-day, followed by one more of general application. I wish to call attention to the machinery by which officers are appointed by the Admiralty. One appreciates that with the tremendous number of junior officers now passing through H.M.S. "King Alfred" and elsewhere there is bound to be a considerable time lag in the appointments being made, owing to pressure of work in the Department. There is also a long delay, in many cases, in drafting officers of the rank of Commander R.N.R. from one appointment to another, which deprives the Service of most valuable man-power at a time when the country can least afford it. I wish to give the House one example.

A commodore, whose name I have supplied to the First Lord, developed signs of strain last May and, after two years' continuous sea service, was given 28 days' sick leave and then allocated to three months' shore service. He was applied for by the convoy base from which he had been sailing and served there for some three months. After that time he came up for re-survey, in November, and was found unfit for further sea service, but fit for shore duties in the United Kingdom only. Immediately after that re-survey he was relieved of his appointment and removed in 48 hours. It is not for me to question that decision. It was made much higher up. It caused considerable surprise to his fellow commodores, who knew he had carried out his duties with great diligence and efficiency. It is not the decision that I would question but the sequel, which was a very curious one This senior officer reported to the Admiralty and was informed that they had no appointment in view and were unlikely to place him for several weeks.

He is not the type of officer to appreciate enforced idleness so I took it upon myself to put him in touch with the Admiralty Press division, where they were in sore need of such as he to give talks in shipyards and factories employed on Admiralty contracts. He left his previous appointment on 3rd December and, owing to this quite fortuitous circumstance, was employed by the Press division during January and was eventually appointed to another base as from 1st February. Had events taken their normal course the Navy would have been without the services of this valuable officer for almost exactly two months. This is by no means an isolated case, for an officer of his rank joining the base where I served had been on leave for 11 weeks, another for eight weeks and another for seven. I quite appreciate the difficulties in the Department where appointments are made. They work at very high pressure, but I wonder whether the explanation does not lie in the slow circulation of the necessary papers. In these matters one is continually encountering a superfluity of the Nelson tradition with nothing of the Nelson touch. Could not such matters be arranged by telephone or signal, leaving routine service documents to pursue their dignified and leisurely course?

I believe the Navy is better from this point of view than the other two Fighting Services but there is, nonetheless, plenty of room for improvement and acceleration. There is a similar point affecting ratings, though this refers to movement in bulk rather than individual cases. Some 300 ratings have changed their category three times in six months. Commencing as ordinary seamen, they have been converted into convoy signalmen, hastily trained and turned over to another specialised branch which it would probably not be in the interests of security to mention. Of course, their disciplinary signal training has not been entirely wasted, and one must realise that requirements alter with the war situation, but I feel that such changes could be much more smoothly effected if the Admiralty had more direct contact with the training establishments themselves. It came to my personal knowledge that a base only 40 miles from London has not during the whole war been visited by representatives of the Department which controls the allocation of lower deck man-power. Cannot this be put right, as so much can be done by direct contact?

I should like to ask the Minister if it is not possible for young officers who have come up from the lower deck and who show outstanding gifts of leadership to be put in touch with the Ministry of Labour Appointments Department with a view to placing them in post-war jobs worthy of their abilities. It would be a tonic to the whole Service if there could be a Fleet order establishing procedure by which men of this type could go through courses of post-war training for executive posts. Many, I am sure, would do well in the Civil Service and many others in the great public utility companies. It may sound premature to raise the matter now, but the Estimates will not be before us again until next year.

I should like to end on a personal note and to make an appeal to the First Lord on another matter. It happens that the right hon. Gentleman and I have twice been engaged in election contests. Naturally the one more enjoyable to me was the one in which I was successful, and no doubt he feels the same about the one in which he won the seat back. I have never been in any doubt as to where his sympathies lie in the matter that I am going to raise. I feel that last Thursday the Army were a little unfortunate in their spokesman and that the Secretary of State for War, when he replied to the Debate on Service pay and allowances, forgot that he was the champion of the soldier and reverted to type as a Treasury official for the time being.

I do not think there is anything of that kind about the First Lord. He will be taking part in the forthcoming discussions and I look to him to advocate what I am sure he knows to be justice in this matter of Service pay. I should like to read a sentence from a letter that I have received from a serving colleague in the Navy, who saw that I had taken part in the Division and given a vote which I should repeat in similar circumstances. However, despite all our groans and grumbles, ours is still the finest country and the finest Navy in the world, I believe there speaks the Fleet, but surely those words place a greater obligation still upon us who have their future and their remuneration in our hands.

I was rather surprised that my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for South Paddington (Vice-Admiral Taylor) did not raise another little matter which has caused soreness for some time past. The officer's pay is based on the fact that he normally serves afloat. When he comes to a shore appointment he receives what is known as lodging and provision allowance, to make good the difference in the cost of his living between being at sea and being ashore. If he is so indiscreet as to have his wife with him, away goes the lodging and provision allowance. It is far better for him either not to have his wife down at all, or, as I have heard it suggested by a facetious colleague, for him to go through the procedure of divorcing his wife for the war and remarrying her afterwards. In such case he would draw the provision allowance, which is of more value than the marriage allowance. This has been a bone of contention for some time and this is the time when the whole thing might be reconsidered. As soon as the marriage allowance was brought in the married officer living with his wife was no longer allowed to receive lodging allowance, which in the case of a captain meant as much as £100 per annum, and a commander £80. There is, whatever the Admiralty, or, as I suspect in this case, the Treasury, may say, no connection between lodging allowance due to an officer because no service accommodation is provided for him, and marriage allowance to which he is entitled because he is married and towards which he is contributing 2S. per day. These are two separate allowances. This is another example of the kind of cheeseparing which the Treasury seems to delight in.

I would like to ask the First Lord plump and plain—are the Ministers who represent the Admiralty on the Front Bench satisfied that the rates of pay and allowances in the Navy, from top to bottom, are satisfactory? I make no comparison with the wages of civilians or the pay in the Dominion Services, but are they satisfied that the fighting men of the Navy are receiving adequate remuneration for the services they render? No time-saving devices such as inquiries and commissions can dodge this issue much longer. It has been raised on three or four different occasions. The Government had a tight Division last Thursday. I missed what I hoped to see, the familiar features of the hon. Gentleman the Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher). I thought he would have been with us in that little contest. However, his absence may have been unavoidable. This issue cannot be much longer delayed. The War Office gave its answer on Thursday, an answer which caused ridicule in the Army and throughout the country. I have greater hopes of the Admiralty to-day.

Mr. Granville (Eye)

I agree with most of what the hon. and gallant Gentleman has said and hope that the representatives of the Admiralty on the Front Bench will recognise that this is the voice of the Navy and that they will give sympathetic consideration to the demands for increased pay for naval ratings which he put forward in his interesting speech. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) that there is no tribute that can be too high for the work and the gallantry of the Merchant Navy in what they have done towards helping to achieve victory. I remember listening some months ago to a broadcast by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport when several members of the Merchant Navy took part. The Parliamentary Secretary made something of a pledge that the status of these men would be looked after in the post-war world. I join my hon. Friend in reminding the Government of that broadcast speech and of the other undertakings that have been made by the Government from time to time, that justice shall be done after the war to these men on whom during the war the life of the nation has depended.

I would like to refer back to the speech of the First Lord. I have listened to all his speeches on the Naval Estimates, and I thought his speech to-day was the best he has made. I would like to join in the tributes that have been paid to him and in the high tribute which he himself paid to the work of the Royal Navy and the Merchant Navy. I am glad that he devoted a considerable amount of his speech to the future operations in the Far East. I would like to ask for an assurance that sufficient attention is being given to the all important question of the development of naval air power, particularly in regard to future operations in the Far East. The First Lord said that long distances would have to be flown and sailed in that warfare from various bases, and suggested that even greater duties would have to be undertaken by the gallant Fleet Air Arm. If this means anything, it means that when that aspect of the war develops we shall see something in the nature of an entirely new technique requiring a new co-operation between ships and aircraft in which distances may entirely dictate strategy. I wonder if the Admiralty is sufficiently aware of the tremendous revolution that is taking place in the increased range of aircraft for naval purposes. I have not the slightest doubt that the lessons of Singapore and the present amphibious attacks in the Far East are being closely studied by the naval chiefs. We have, of course, in recent years developed the newer types of aircraft carrier. We have greatly developed the naval fighter, the Seafire, which is playing a tremendous part to-day, and will play an even greater part, in the Far East warfare. Then there is the development of the American helicopter, and I hope that this type of aircraft will be taken up by the Admiralty in a big way.

We have had tremendous developments in the long-range naval bombers, but I would put it to the Civil Lord that the Navy may bomb Japan before they bombard it. This means that range in naval bomber aircraft will be a vital factor in the development of warfare in the Pacific. I would remind my hon. Friend that naval aircraft design takes many years to develop. Previous Debates we have had on Navy Estimates have been made the occasion of contributions from hon. Members who have served with the Fleet Air Arm and they have reminded the Government that the Fleet Air Arm has had to fly with obsolete types of machine in the past. I would ask the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is satisfied with the technical development that is being made under the present arrangements in the design and production of long distance naval fighters and bombers, with an eye to future operations in the Far East.

That question brings me to the other question of co-operation. The United States of America are producing a magnificent range of bombers and fighters for their fleet. Her naval and air Departments are integrated and they work as one Department. Have we that kind of integration here now, or is it working upon some other basis? We have had many Debates on this matter. At the present time the Admiralty and the Air Ministry—or perhaps the Ministry of Aircraft Production—share responsibility for the production of naval types of aircraft. I would like to ask whether this arrangement, which has been going on now for several years, is proving satisfactory. Can the Minister assure us now that, irrespective of what is being done elsewhere by our Allies, after these years of development and experiment, the Fleet will have available to it the most up-to-date and efficient long-range fighters and bombers.

I do not apologise, even at this late hour, for raising these questions, because recently we have been listening to statements by the Prime Minister about what is to happen after European war is over. I believe that the length of the war in the Far East may depend, more than anything else, upon the plans that the American naval and air Departments, and the Admiralty in this country, make about the development of the new type of naval co-operational aircraft. I hope that the Navy will not come here later on and tell us that they were too preoccupied with the European situation to begin these developments. On this all-important question of long range naval fighters and bombers, experiments ought to be made in India and the Mediterranean. In this respect it surely must 'be right that he Admiralty should now be given full charge of their sea air-power development.

I do not wish to repeat that question again at this late stage of the Debate. All I ask is that, remembering what has happened in the past—at Singapore, in Crete and in the Mediterranean—and the occasions when representatives of the Admiralty have come down to that Box and told us that they simply had not got certain types of machine as they could not get priorities for production, the Admiralty can give us an assurance to the effect that the present arrangements with the Ministry of Aircraft Production or the Air Ministry are working satisfactorily, and that, as with the United States of America, the Navy of this country will be completely equipped with the latest aircraft types available when we have largely to extend our operations in the Far East war. Feeling, as I do, that the Admiralty should be given that control of their own sea air-power development, I hope that at least a special development section for the Far East will be set up, even as early or as late as this. Upon those lines I hope that the Civil Lord can tell us that though the Admiralty may be preoccupied with the European war they are making these far-reaching plans now, in conjunction with the United States of America, so that in the Pacific war we shall have these new types sufficiently developed to be able to give a good account of ourselves.

Wing-Commander James (Wellingborough)

When my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Hertford (Sir M. Sueter) was speaking, I thought that he was going to save me the trouble—and save the time of the House—of intervening, by following through his remarks when he had expressed regret that airtime did not count as sea-time for promotion in the Navy. Rather an illuminating point was brought out in a recent answer in this House on that topic, and it carried the matter rather further. In reply to a Question on 16th February, by the hon. and gallant Member for Preston (Captain Cobb), the point emerged that not only did flying time not count as sea-time, in the promotion of naval officers—the First Lord was quite categorical in that reply—but also that officers for promotion must be qualified for naval duties and that, for this purpose, sea-time was essential. I have cut down rather a long answer in order to bring out the main point.

In parenthesis, the First Lord went on to observe that officers were not handicapped as a result of flying duties. What he did bring out was that, quite rightly, properly and naturally, sea-time is required for the command of ships, but airtime is not required to command an aircraft. That is a very important point, and I hope that the point will be looked into. It could not possibly happen in the Royal Air Force and it could not have happened in the old R.F.C. that anybody who commands an aircraft in operation had not been qualified by experience as a pilot. Yet, in 1944, in the Navy, command of operational aircraft is exercised by naval officers who cannot fly. It is part of a tendency—naturally, and one can see the reason—to regard seniority as a virtue which is sacrosanct.

One reason why the Royal Air Force has had the success which it has had in two wars is that it has not been frightened to give youth command and responsibility. It is a grievance in the Fleet Air Arm now, that aeroplanes are sent out on operations by the direct order of people who have never flown. Somebody said: "Well, after all, in the Army a general might give command to artillery who has never been a gunner," but that is not a parallel. I cannot conceive of a formation in which a general officer in command would give his orders direct to the artillery and would not do it through the C.R.A. He would not do it direct. I urge this point on the First Sea Lord. I do not expect a reply now, as I did not give notice of the question and I have given him too short a time; but I ask that the point should be looked into and if possible corrected.

The Civil Lord of the Admiralty (Captain Pilkington)

The House has paid many tributes to the Navy, and it is very fitting that such messages of encouragement and good cheer should go out to all the gallant officers and men who are serving on all the seven seas. We have had many helpful suggestions and criticisms, and I should like to say what the Admiralty is doing, in regard to as many of them as is possible, or, in those cases, in which it may happen the Admiralty is doing nothing, to say why. The hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), who spoke after my right hon. Friend, urged the importance of the nation as a whole realising, and indeed making it clear to the world, that this country was 100 per cent. determined to switch over across the seas, and to carry on the war with Japan with every force at our disposal, the moment that Germany was defeated. I think that the speeches which have been made to-day and what my right hon. Friend has said have made that very clear, that we are 100 per cent. determined, after the war in the West is concluded, to switch over all our power to defeat Japan as quickly as we can. The hon. Member for Eye {Mr. Granville), who sat down a few minutes ago, particularly asked whether or not we were engaged in developing air power for that war. I can give him the assurance that experiment is going on continually to develop the best type of weapons for the war in the Far East. My hon. Friend also referred to the future of the shipbuilding industry. I can tell him that we are fully alive to the importance of the shipbuilding industry from the Admiralty point of view, and the position is being considered now with a view to determining what are the best methods to render the shipbuilding industry as efficient in peace time as it has shown itself in war when it has been put to the test.

My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith) raised a number of questions, some of which were rather technical, and I do not think I can answer them all in very great detail to-day. He began by asking whether he could be told to-day what my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War meant when he said that an increase in pay in the Services would cause inflation, and he asked why should that occur in the case of the Services and not so far as industrial wages are concerned. I feel that is hardly a question which the Admiralty can answer to-day, but I would suggest to him that the extent to which it was suggested in the Debate that Service wages should be raised so that they would correspond to wages in industry overlooks the fact that in the Services you do get board and keep. That I think is at any rate a partial answer to the case which he made. He also raised the question of what an officer got on promotion in order to get the necessary uniform and kit. He quoted a figure of £55 which, as he pointed out, was an increase from £40 at the beginning of the war. He said this was inadequate. It is realised that under present circumstances this allowance does not cover the whole expenditure which falls upon the shoulders of the officer concerned, and that is being looked into already.

Then he referred at the end of his speech to what he said was the too low level of rank of some officers who are commanding ships, and I think he specifically referred to destroyers. I think I should make it clear that, although there are appointments which carry a higher rank with them, generally speaking the promotion is not higher because a man has got a job in a ship compared to another man of a similar standing who has got a job ashore. If, of course, the appointment is of a particular type which does necessitate rather higher rank, then he is given the acting rank. But we are very anxious that at the end of the war the Navy should not find itself with a very large number of officers of substantive rank who would then form a sort of bottleneck at the top.

My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for South Paddington (Vice-Admiral Taylor) raised a number of points. He referred first of all to Coastal Command which, as he knows, is now under the operational control of the Admiralty. I think, as he would probably agree, that this is not the time to consider what will be the eventual arrangements about this Command, but his arguments will certainly be borne in mind. Turning to the Japanese war he said that Japan's heel of Achilles was 'her lines of communication. If I remember aright, the heel of Achilles was ultimately pierced by an arrow, and I can assure him that the arrows in our quiver are continually increasing in number and quality.

His final point was the question of marriage allowance in the Service, and I must say I have great sympathy with him, because a great deal of his argument was founded upon the three questions he put down at Question Time to-day and he has perhaps not had a very long time to digest the answer which was given. I would point out again to him that it is not true to say that naval officers have had 2s. deducted from their pay in order, as it were, to pay for their marriage allowance. If he will forgive me for one moment I will complete my argument. When the pay of the three Services was put more or less in alignment just after the last war, the pay of the naval officers was slightly higher than that in the other two Services because at that time they did not get marriage allowance. When in 1938 marriage allowance was instituted for the Navy it was surely only fair that that extra sum which had been allowed in the original alignment should be deducted.

Vice-Admiral Taylor

There is a point with regard to this marriage allowance, that is the lodging allowance, and it is of some importance. Lodging allowance was an allowance, as the hon. and gallant Gentleman knows, to make up to an officer who was not provided by the Service with service quarters, lighting and heating, and therefore when he had to provide his own lodgings he was entitled to, and did receive, lodging allowance in lieu. But when the marriage allowance was brought in then the lodging allowance was no longer given to a married officer living with his wife, when he was not provided with service quarters, and there is no connection whatever between lodging allowance which is given to an officer because the Service could not provide him with service quarters—

Mr. Speaker

I must point out to the hon. and gallant Member that the Civil Lord was dealing with this point, and that the hon. and gallant Member's intervention is becoming a second speech, which is not allowed.

Vice-Admiral Taylor

The point is that the officer not provided with official quarters, but providing his own, is entitled to receive lodging allowance, and if he is married, he is also entitled to receive marriage allowance, but he does not get both these allowances as he ought to do.

Captain Pilkington

I did my best to answer my hon. and gallant Friend's point, and he has returned to the attack by making a slightly different point. We will look into that. I will now try to answer the point which he made in his speech, about the actual marriage allowance.

Vice-Admiral Taylor

I would like an answer about the rise in pay. It was not brought up in the Debate on marriage allowances.

Captain Pilkington

I have made it as clear as I can. Perhaps my hon. and gallant Friend will again look at the answer which has been given him, and then, if it is not clear, to his satisfaction, perhaps he will get into touch with us again, and we will look into it.

Commander Galbraith

In the case of two officers of the same rank, one married and the other single, does the married officer, on obtaining his 4s. 6d. marriage allowance, drop 2s. below the pay of the single officer? Have I made myself clear?

Captain Pilkington

The hon. and gallant Member has made himself clear, but I cannot answer that rather technical question offhand in Debate. But I will give him an answer. The hon. Member for South Poplar (Mr. Guy) raised two points. First, he referred to the necessity of having proper protection for our convoys. Everybody would be in full agreement with him there. I will recall what the First Lord said in his speech about what we were doing to attack the enemy up and down their coastline. In this respect, I think that offence is the best defence. The hon. Member also raised the question of commissions from the lower deck. My right hon. Friend gave actual figures of what had been done recently, and I think the hon. Member will probably agree that the position is a pretty healthy one. People are promoted entirely on character and ability, and in the last few years the number of people who have come up from the lower deck has been increasing.

The right hon. Baronet the Member for South West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) complained that there was not enough publicity for the Fleet. He said that he rather agreed with that in one way, but that in war as it is to-day there should be considerably more publicity. I was rather reminded of the American saying that the English boast that they do not boast. At any rate, that matter has received a good deal of attention in the last year or so. As hon. Members know, an hon. and gallant Member of this House helps a good deal in that matter at the Admiralty. The right hon. Baronet also raised the question whether the Fleet Air Arm were now getting their fair share of planes, and that matter was also raised by the hon. Member for Eye (Mr. Granville). Although, obviously, we are never satisfied, the position is far more satisfactory than it was 12 months ago, and we believe that the trend will continue that way. He also said that we ought to merge the Royal Navy and the "Wavy Navy." He said, quite properly, I thought, that we had a rather conservative attitude to this problem, but I assure him that we have no closed minds about it. I doubt though, from what knowledge I have of the subject, whether such a change would be altogether popular among the people concerned.

One or two hon. Members, and particularly the hon. Member for Burton (Mr. Gretton), raised the question of the postwar Fleet. As will be obvious, we are at present concentrating all our effort on winning the war, but we are making what preparations we can for the sort of post-war world which we think will emerge. A great deal of hard thought is now being given to this question of the post-war Fleet.

My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for West Edinburgh (Lieut.-Commander Hutchison) said that he feared the truth of a rumour that the Naval Ordnance Inspection Department might be merged into bigger organisations of the two other Services. So far as we know, there is no such suggestion at present. Indeed, there are very weighty arguments to which he gave expression, as to why that should not be done. Those arguments would be most certainly taken into account if any such suggestion were made in future. He said that the dockyard regulations were very much out of date. He referred to the Regulations as a mysterious book, which he had not yet succeeded in seeing. I can tell him that the book is rather a voluminous one, and that, with paper as scarce as it is to-day, it is not so common as it used to be. But the need for a revision of these Regulations is realised. Amendments come out from time to time, but there will be no question of a general revision at present: that has to wait until after the war.

Lieut.-Commander Hutchison

Will my hon. and gallant Friend look into the question, particularly, of the outlying departments and of the staffs who are moving about? That is the chief difficulty under the present Regulations.

Captain Pilkington

Certainly we will look into that matter, and see whether the application of the rules needs revision, to secure uniformity. The hon. Member for West Willesden (Mr. Viant), whom I do not see here at the moment, raised the question of the Selection Board for commissions in the W.R.N.S., and asked whether or not certain questions were put to the W.R.N.S. at the interview. He said he had been told that the questions were: "What was your father?" "Who are your bankers?" "What was your school?" and "Who recommended you?" He said that he had received several letters rather substantiating the suggestion that these question were put. I can assure the House that at any rate the questions: "What was your father?" and "Who are your bankers?" are not put in that form. The first is not put at all. As my right hon. Friend has already explained, some people prefer to be paid direct, and some to be paid through a bank. If people want their pay to go into their banking accounts, you must have the name of their bankers—that is all there is to that. It is also desirable to know the schooling a person has had. I want to make quite clear—and I take the words out of the mouth of the hon. Member who made the speech—that the things which count are character, ability and personality, and any other suggestions to the contrary are completely and utterly unfounded. I read the letter which probably led to this question and, believe me, it gives a completely untrue picture of the situation.

Mr. Guy

Can the hon. and gallant Gentleman say whether there has been any change in the method of the selection of candidates since 1924?

Captain Pilkington

I cannot speak as to 1924. All I know is that the method used to-day is to try and find people who will make good leaders, and that is quite irrespective of any other questions such as is suggested in the speech of the hon. Member. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Cambridge (Lieut.-Commander Tufnell) also raised the question, to which I have already referred, as to what rank an officer should have when he is commanding a destroyer. I hope that I have made it plain that, if the position warrants a higher rank, the officer is given it in an acting capacity, but we do not want to permit too many substantive ranks in order to cause a bottleneck later on. His second point rather dealt with the future of the Navy and the role the battleship should play in the organisation of the Fleet in the future. Our aim is to have the best balanced fleet we can, and that fleet will be composed of all those different types of warship which can, in the opinion of the experts at the Admiralty, most efficiently fulfil its function.

One or two Members raised the question of Sea Cadets, to which the Financial Secretary did not refer, because it is a matter which concerns me more, and, there again, we have given a good deal of thought to that for the future. I realise, as was pointed out in the Debate, that there probably is at present a shortage of equipment for training, and indeed a shortage of officers. I regret that at the present time that is probably inevitable, but it is a thing which we hope will get better as more and more equipment can be made available, and we are most keen that the organisation of the cadets shall be the best we can secure not only for war-time, but also afterwards in peace.

My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Hertford (Sir M. Sueter) said that the air side at the Admiralty probably, in his opinion, had inadequate technical advice. I can tell him the position. Here, again, I do not pretend that we have all the people we should like or that all the people who are there have had all the experience we should like. The position is rather better perhaps than one might have gathered from what he said. The position is that the Fifth Sea Lord, who is Chief of Naval Air Equipment, is assisted by the Deputy-Chief of Naval Air Equipment, who has had a long and wide experience bath in the R.A.F. and in the Royal Navy. In addition, the Fifth Sea Lord has on his personal staff a naval officer as technical assistant and a civilian expert as statistical adviser. Expert technical advice is also available for him in the Air Material Department under his immediate supervision. Responsibility for the design, development and production of naval aircraft and air equipment rests with the Ministry of Aircraft Production. The Admiralty is represented in the Ministry by the chief naval representative, who is an ex-naval pilot and a first class commodore, and a staff of navy technical experts. I think that is a fairly satisfactory organisation.

Sir M. Sueter

But my hon. and gallant Friend talks about pilots and commodores and so on. Of course I know they have great capabilities, but I want to ask him if it would not be right to have a real technical expert of high standing to advise the Fifth Sea Lord on these technical matters that come up from day to day. I speak from practical experience at the Admiralty in charge of the Royal Naval Air Force, where I had a very good technical man indeed at the head—he was not a commodore or a pilot, he was a technical man.

Captain Pilkington

I would suggest that the men who are there at the moment comply with the description of what my hon. and gallant Friend called "an expert of high standing." I think the knowledge which is there is considerable but, as I said, I do not pretend it could not be better. We are not satisfied, but I do think that perhaps my hon. and gallant Friend does not quite give sufficient weight to the people who are there at present. I see I have not convinced him, but I would like to deal with another question he raised. He referred to the question of flying time and said that, when the change in the Regulations was made, it was not sufficiently promulgates. Well, as I think he was told in answer to a Question some time ago, the information was issued as a General Order of the Naval Service Admiralty Monthly Order Number 3105 of the 15th November, 1916—a long time ago. In spite of the fact that at the time of the officer's retirement, the officer to whom he was referring had had insufficient time in command of a ship of war at sea, which was then a necessary qualification for promotion to flag rank, there was a Committee at the Admiralty who considered his case, and others, but they did not come to the conclusion that an exception should be made.

Sir M. Sueter

But surely—

The Speaker

This is not the Committee stage. The hon. and gallant Member must not argue as if it were.

Captain Pilkington

Those are the facts. Now as regards the question of flying time generally, this was also referred to by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wellingborough (Wing-Commander James) and I would like to answer these two points together. The argument was that flying time should count for promotion as much as sea time. It is surely reasonable that the officers who are general executive officers and who, at a later stage in their career, may have to command aircraft carriers and ships of war, should put in a certain minimum period of sea time. It is not a great deal, and we are anxious to have officers of high rank with large commands with both sea experience and air experience.

My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Holderness (Lieut.-Commander Braithwaite) raised three points about which he was good enough to write to my right hon. Friend. He referred first to what he described as a time lag in drafting officers from job to jab and said it might to some extent be due to pressure of work, which he could understand. But he said that another reason might be too slow circulation of papers. I can assure him that there is another and deliberate reason, namely, the necessity for keeping a margin of officers for sudden appointments or for making a choice when a particular appointment comes along. My hon. and gallant Friend quoted a case which would serve no purpose to go into now, but the facts which he put forward are not entirely illustrative of the general cases which we get. His second point concerned the change of training for different bodies of men which, he said, was done too suddenly and was, in effect, a waste of time. He also said that a depot that he mentioned had not been visited by any members of the branch of the Admiralty responsible for it. He informed my right hon. Friend about this and the case was looked into. My hon. and gallant Friend made a mistake about the department which is responsible for these men. They come under another department, which has paid many visits to these people and is in almost daily telephonic communication with the depot—

Lieut.-Commander Braithwaite

Are not the actual decisions made by the department to which I have referred and decentralised further down?

Captain Pilkington

No, the decisions are made by another department. My hon. and gallant Friend's third point will be kept in mind. A good deal of work is being done in preparing the way for younger officers to get jobs in the postwar world.

I have covered, cursorily, most of the points which have been raised during the Debate and as the hour is getting late I do not want to detain the House very much longer. My right hon. Friend, in his full and very vivid speech, has shown something of what the Navy has succeeded in doing so far in this war. We hope that the time is shortly coming when the final transport of our assaulting Armies will be made on to the Continent and that by that blow—the strongest which we and our Allies can possibly deliver—we shall win victory in the West. I need hardly assure the House that when that time comes the Navy will most certainly do its bit.

Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.

Supply accordingly considered in Committee.

[Mr. CHARLES WILLIAMS in the Chair]

  1. NUMBERS 48 words
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