HC Deb 04 October 1944 vol 403 cc915-6
25. Mr. Huǵh Lawson

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty on how many occasions Members of Parliament have addressed naval units during the recess; how many Members from each party gave these addresses; and if any of these addresses were given at places outside Great Britain.

Mr. Alexander

As part of the education of naval personnel in current affairs, visits by three Members of Parliament to naval units in the Orkneys and Shetlands were arranged during the Recess. The hon. and gallant Member for Hornsey (Captain Gammans) gave 13 lectures, the hon. Member for Maidstone (Mr. Bossom) gave 11, and the hon. and gallant Member for Ormskirk (Commander King-Hall) 16. The hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Bartlett) gave one lecture at H.M.S. "Collingwood." The answer to the second part of the Question is, therefore, two Conservatives, one Independent National and one Independent. So far as I am aware, no meetings were arranged outside Great Britain, though I cannot exclude the possibility that less formal occasions may have been arranged by local Naval authorities.

Mr. Lawson

While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for his reply, may I ask him whether it is his intention to extend in the future this very desirable practice of Members of all parties addressing naval personnel?

Mr. Alexander

I confess that I do not want to butt in on this question of educational leaders in the Navy finding people whom they consider would be suitable to address personnel on particular subjects. I would much rather they had freedom and no political guidance from me.

Mr. Shinwell

When did the Minister reach the conclusion that no Labour Member was capable of lecturing to men under his control? Are we to understand that the hon. and gallant Member for Hornsey (Captain Gammans) was entitled to lecture 13 times—I do not know why it should have been 13—while no Member on this side was considered fit and proper to undertake that task?

Mr. Alexander

My hon. Friend on this occasion is rather too previous. Labour Members have lectured to the Navy. During the Easter and Whitsun Recesses lectures were given by my hon. Friend the Member for Keighley (Mr. Thomas).

Mr. Thorne

Are any of these lecturers in favour of democracy?