§ Order for Second Reading read
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir Stafford Cripps)
I have it in Command from His Majesty, to signify to the House that His Majesty, having been informed of the contents of the Bill, has been graciously pleased to place the rights and privileges of the Crown at the disposal of Parliament in connection with the Bill.
§ 11.8 a.m.
§ The Parliamentary and Financial Secretary to the Admiralty (Mr. John Dugdale)
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
1859 Next week all of us, I understand, will be engaged in matters of controversy, and I hope that this Debate may be a quiet prelude to that controversy and that we may have a peaceful time today before preparing ourselves adequately for any contest that may take place then. This is a small Bill, but it affects a very large number of people in a very personal manner. It is also a complicated Bill in that it affects not only this country, but also the Colonies and the Dominions, and even one foreign country-Burma.
I think perhaps the House would like if I gave a very brief historical survey. I can assure the House that it will not be long, but I think such a survey is necessary to show the grounds on which we are asking for the Bill. For many centuries the right of a belligerent to seize, as prize, enemy ships and cargoes found on the high seas, or in the belligerents' territorial waters, has been recognised throughout the world. As long ago as the time of Henry VIII all ports of the Kingdom furnished their quota of ships for the defence of the country and in consideration of this, as a special act of grace, the King made an award to mariners from the proceeds of the prizes of captures. In the reign of Charles II the office of Lord High Admiral was given to the Duke of York, and so that he could maintain his office adequately it was decided that the proceeds of prize taken in certain circumstances should be given to him.
Accordingly, an Order in Council was made which stated that all enemy ships and goods coming into ports in England or Ireland by stress of weather, or accident, or ignorance of the state of war, belonged to the Lord High Admiral, and that all enemy ships seized at sea by non-commissioned vessels should also belong to him. On the other hand, enemy ships, with their cargoes, which were seized on the seas, or driven into port by the King's men-of-war, belonged to His Majesty, and were called Droits the Crown. The Lord High Admiral's rights became known as Droits of Admiralty and when his office was put into commission these Droits reverted to the Crown. At a later date, in the reign of William IV, both Droits were surrendered by the King, not to the Admiralty but to the Exchequer. This is the origin of 1860 the arrangement by which the Treasury takes a certain proportion of the prize money.
After giving this brief historical survey, I turn to the present position. The first task which faces us now is to divide all the prize proceeds up between each member of the Commonwealth in agreed proportions. We have now agreed; on the general principle of the division and the transfer to the Dominions of their share is, as hon. Members will see, provided for in the Bill. I am sure that no other group of free nations could have come to an agreement of such a character as this so remarkably quickly. From time to time hon. Members have asked why a Prize Bill was not already introduced, but when one realises the immense complications involved, the number of countries involved, it is quite remarkable that any agreement should have been reached as quickly as this.
In several of the Commonwealth Prize Courts, and particularly our own, proceedings have not yet been completed and it is not known exactly how much money will be available. An estimate of the total condemned and condemnable proceeds has, therefore, had to be made and it has been decided that they shall be pooled and allocated in proportion to the peak numbers of naval, marine and air forces raised by each Government during the war.
So far as the distribution of grants is concerned, we are concerned, of course, only with the distribution of United Kingdom grants and grants to the Colonial Forces. I have explained how it came about that the Treasury take a certain portion of the proceeds of prize. This Bill, however, differs from past Bills, in that there will be an arbitrary division—purely arbitrary, I may emphasise—of one-third Admiralty, that is Exchequer grant, and two-thirds Crown, that is for distribution. This amount is roughly the same as the proportions in the 1914-18 war. Both the Air Ministry and the Admiralty are satisfied that this division is a fair one and that the Treasury have, in fact, been most reasonable in the matter.
Hon. Members will see that the total sum arrived at as Droits of the Crown is £5¼ million, and I think some people may ask why it is so small. As a matter of fact, before I came into the House 1861 one hon. Member did ask me why. Perhaps I should explain. In addition to the £51¼ million, I may add, the Dominions will receive a further £2 million. The reason why the sum is so small is because in the first war the Germans took very little trouble to see what happened to their ships and, therefore, allowed us to capture a large number. In this war it was different. First of all, they saw that their ships were kept in part as far as possible when war began. Secondly, those ships which were not kept in port had orders to scuttle immediately if it appeared likely that they would be captured. The result was that there were far fewer ships captured in this war than in the first war and, obviously, therefore, there is very much less to divide than there was then.
I come now to the division of that part of the proceeds which belongs to the United Kingdom. I see that we have present in the House an Admiral who has played an active part in one war and perhaps in two—the hon. and gallant Member for South Paddington (Vice-Admiral Taylor). He will know that in past wars, as a rule, ships were captured by other ships. In this war, however, the situation was rather different. In past wars as ships were captured by other ships we thought it was right that all available prize monies should be given to sailors, but in this war the Air Force came to play a considerable part in naval warfare. The advent of air warfare has meant, in fact, that coastal command in particular has had a great deal to do with the capture of ships and is entitled, we think, to some part of the prize money.
The sum that is to be given to the Air Force amounts to a total of £1¼ million. It is not intended that the money should be distributed to individual members of the Air Force. Instead the money will be made available to charitable and welfare organisations serving past or present members of the Air Force including, I may add, officers and airmen from the Colonies. The present intention is that about half the fund is to be used for the welfare of those now serving and the other half to be distributed to organisations such as the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund, the Royal Air Force Association and other bodies and institutions which have among their aims the 1862 welfare of past members of the Service, their families and dependants. A portion, therefore, will go to those now serving and a portion to those who served in the past and to their relatives.
I turn now to the naval portion of the prize money. As in the past, regulations governing the naval distribution will be promulgated by Royal Proclamation and hon. Members will have seen a draft presented as a White Paper. It is the-Government's intention that all naval. officers and ratings, marine officers and. other ranks and also merchant seamen, who served in the Navy under T.124 and similar agreements, by which they became subject to naval discipline, shall be regarded as entitled to prize money if they have rendered six months' service at sea and if they have not, for any reason, such as misconduct, forfeited their entitlement. Service at sea exceeding six months will not, however, attract any greater sum by way of prize, nor, in view of the small amount to be distributed, will it allow proportionate shares for those who have not served for that full qualifying period.
Provision will be made in the Royal Proclamation to include in the distribution both coastal forces and combined operations because, although their service was not strictly in what are regarded as sea-going ships, it was service largely at sea. In other words, although their names were actually borne on the books of depot ships, we consider their duty was essentially a sea duty and they must, therefore, and rightly, count as sea Forces. In view of the border line cases which are sure to arise out of the extremely complicated forms of service rendered during the war, the Admiralty are asking for discretionary power to deal with any particular cases which they may consider ought to be brought in. As soon as the distribution can be prepared, application forms will be made available in post offices and anybody claiming to be qualified can then apply. Application must be made within a period of 12 months from the date on which they are invited to do so by the Admiralty.
The next point is the distribution of the shares. In the 1914–18 war it was made in such a way that an Admiral Commander-in-Chief got 850 shares and an ordinary seaman got three shares—a ratio of 283 to one. We came to the conclusion that while, for obvious 1863 reasons, there should be some distinction between the amount granted for example to an Admiral of the Fleet, a lieutenant, a petty officer and a seaman, the differences in the 1914 war were very much too great. Grants will, therefore, be made of shares varying from ten for an Admiral of the Fleet to one for an ordinary seaman. Hon. Members may ask why this particular figure was picked. I think if they cast their minds back they will remember that this was roughly the scale adopted for war gratuities in all three Services-not exactly, but very roughly.
Until we know exactly how many people will qualify-and this is a point I think which will interest hon. Members and certainly will interest seamen as much as anything else—it is impossible to say how much each man in any rank will get. I have already stated on a number of occasions, and I must repeat once again, that the amount will quite definitely be very small. I have, however, had a rough calculation made. It is a calculation which, I think, by a process of mathematics hon. Members may be able to make for themselves. It looks as though an ordinary seaman will get between £5 and £6, a captain from £20 to £24, and an Admiral of the Fleet between £50 and £60. However, I must stress that this amount is purely provisional. I cannot possibly be more exact because we do not know what the amount will be until we know the total sum available and the total number of claims likely to arise.
§ Commander Maitland (Horncastle)
The hon. Gentleman made it clear at one point in his speech that the applications had to be given by a certain date—about a year ahead, so far as I can see. Will he make it quite clear that there can be no payment of prize money of any sort whatsoever to anybody until the last application is in?
§ Commander Maitland
Will the hon. Gentleman make it quite clear that there will not be any payment until then?
§ Mr. Dugdale
Oh, no, that is not the case at all. We make a rough estimate, and there may be a certain amount of 1864 money left over. If there is a very large sum of money left over afterwards, making the calculation entirely false, we can make a new division. If a small sum is left over it can be given to charitable purposes. The money can therefore be given out quite. soon after—practically exactly at the same time as the first applications come in. As hon. Members will realise, it is not a very easy job to deal with all this, and a quite considerable staff at the Admiralty has been engaged in making the calculations, and will be engaged in the actual job of giving out the money, so that there will necessarily be from time to time some delay. Our aim, however, is that the first monies will actually be given out as soon as the applications come in. That will be our aim. We shall not wait for a year.
Now I turn to the details of the Bill. The first Clause lays down the amounts which we shall recommend His Majesty to grant to the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force. I have explained already how these amounts were reached. I hope I have made it quite clear for the benefit of my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) who, having made a protest, has left the House, that it is not the purpose of this Clause to make a grant of prize. Such grants have always been made by His Majesty in the exercise of his Prerogative.
The main purpose of Clause 2, which needs to be read in conjunction with Clause 4, is to define in broad lines the people for whose benefit the grants may be made. The details are filled in, as hon. Members will see, by the Royal Proclamation. The decision whether there will be similar grants to Dominion Forces must rest with the Dominions themselves. I can state now, however, that our own grants will benefit not only the United Kingdom, but also the Colonial Forces. For this particular purpose the Forces of Burma, with the agreement of the Government of Burma themselves, are regarded as Colonial Forces, because it makes for simplification. Clause 2 also provides for the setting aside of certain provisions of the Naval Agency and Distribution Act, 1864, which are no longer appropriate, and it enables the Admiralty to apply forfeited shares and residues of prize money to swell the distributable total, or to charitable purposes.
1865 Clause 3 gives the Air Council discretion to decide on the charitable and welfare funds to which the Royal Air Force Prize Fund shall be allocated. Clause 4, apart from defining Naval and Marine and Royal Air Force crews to which Clause 2 applies, gives the Admiralty discretion, following the precedent of the 1918 Act, to include the crews of ships, though not ships of war, which may have made important contributions towards prize captures. This is a desirable safeguard to meet unforeseen contingencies, and to ensure that no deserving cases are overlooked. Clause 5 places the Funds under the control of the Admiralty and Air Council, and allows for the temporary investment of the monies in any manner approved by the Treasury. It also provides that the Funds shall be audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General who will lay copies of the accounts with his reports thereon before Parliament. I have already explained that under a scheme agreed with the Commonwealth Governments it will be necessary both to receive payments from and to make payments to those Governments. Statutory sanction is required for this, and this sanction is asked for in Clause 6. The payments will be made into and from the Supreme Court Prize Deposit Account. These payments are, by Clause 7, to be the subject of directions given by the President of the Probate Division of the High Court.
We feel that this should be the last occasion on which prize money should be granted. His Majesty has, therefore, consented that his Prerogative right to do so shall not be exercised in respect of any future wars. Clause 8 provides for this, and the opportunity is also taken of abolishing prize bounty at the same time—of course, with His Majesty's consent. Prize bounty, as hon. Members will, no doubt, know, differs from prize money in that it has been granted in the past to the officers and crews of His Majesty's ships actually present at the taking or destroying of any armed ship. Prize bounty was granted in the first world war, but it has been decided that it is entirely anachronistic to grant it in the kind of war we have just experienced.
It may be asked by some hon. Members why, indeed, prize money is to be granted at all. They may say that it, too, is anachronistic, and so, why go to all 1866 this trouble? I think the answer briefly is this. Many men throughout the country have been expecting to get this money. They have been expecting it for some years. They have been rightly expecting to get it and, small though these payments are, they will, I hope, give just a little pleasure to many men who have given a lot of service to their country.
§ 11.27 a.m.
§ Mr. J. P. L. Thomas (Hereford)
We have listened with interest to the speech of the hon. Gentleman. I think that he was right to devote a considerable proportion of his speech to surveying the technical terms in the Bill-because they are very technical-and that he was wise to undertake a historical survey, as his predecessor did when the last Act was discussed in 1918. I hope that that may be an omen that the hon. Gentleman will be as responsive as his predecessor in that year, and will listen to suggestions from this side, and, perhaps, withdraw the scale of awards, for future consideration, as his predecessor did before him.
I cannot promise the hon. Gentleman that there will be no contest today. There are points in this Bill which we on this side of the House will wish to criticise. Any Measure, whether a good or a bad Measure, which concerns the welfare of the Forces, obviously is of interest to all sides of the House of Commons, because men of the Services are traditionally reticent about their own circumstances, and by virtue of their calling have very few opportunities of expressing their points of view or of bringing them to the notice of Parliament or the public. While this Bill concerns the Royal Navy, including the Royal Marines, and the Royal Air Force, and is of the greatest importance to officers and men who served loyally in the last war, and who came through, it is also of interest to the dependants of those who did not return.
It is three years since the end of the war. At intervals during those three years there have been many Questions put down to the Admiralty and to the Minister of Defence about prize money. I know the difficulties. The Parliamentary Secretary touched on them today. I know how great many of those difficulties have been, in the coming to a decision. That is why we on this side 1867 of the House welcome the fact that the Bill is at last presented, and that the draft Royal Proclamation has been laid. We also welcome it because, without this Bill, I think I am right in saying, it appeared doubtful whether the Navy could receive their grant of prize money on this occasion; and, quite definitely, the Royal Air Force could not participate in the distribution of the funds. For this latter reason—and, I wish to make quite clear, for that reason alone—we shall not this afternoon go into the Division Lobby to vote against the Second Reading; but for a number of other reasons-and very important reasons-we on this side of the House feel that this Bill has few redeeming features.
This is, I think, the worst Prize Bill that has ever been brought before this House. We are wholly opposed to the secondary object of the Bill, which is to abolish the Royal Prerogative; we are wholly opposed to any proposal at the present time to abolish for ever—I emphasise, for ever—the traditional expectation of the Navy of grants in respect of prize vessels and cargo taken in time of war; we are wholly opposed to the arbitrary proposal to abolish for ever the grant of money provided by Parliament in respect of enemy warships taken or destroyed in battle—that is, the grant known as prize bounty; and we are also opposed to the proposal that prize bounty shall not be paid in respect of engagements during the last war. We also believe that the provisions for the distribution of that part of the fund allocated to the Royal Air Force are contrary to the best interests of those who served in that Service during the war. Indeed, those Clauses of the Bill which deal with distribution are full of inconsistencies and anomalies, as I shall hope presently to show the House.
I am glad that the Parliamentary Secretary has followed the precedent of 1918, thereby giving us an opportunity of discussing the draft Royal Proclamation. We have known since, I think it was, December, 1945, when the Minister of Defence made a statement in answer to a Parliamentary Question, that it was the intention of the Government to close the steps of the scale of awards and to reduce the difference between the number of shares awarded to the most senior 1868 officer and the number of shares awarded to the most junior rating, as the Parliamentary Secretary has already pointed out.
We for our part raised no objection at that time to this proposal; nor have we raised any objection on subsequent occasions. Just as in 1918 Members of of the Conservative Party spoke in favour of modifying the previous scale, today there is a strong case—and we support it—for the further fining down of these different gradations. But when the Government present in the draft regulations a scale so emaciated that a captain receives no more than twice the amount received by a midshipman, and when the gradations are so fine that it becomes impracticable to make a distinction between the share awarded to an able-seaman and that awarded to a boy, then I say that the Government have passed the bounds of all reason and are capitulating to the old ideological Bolshevist tradition of fair shares for all, irrespective of effort or of responsibility. I have used the rather old-fashioned adjective "Bolshevist", but in fairness to the modern day Russia perhaps I should say that the Russians have very definitely abandoned this principle. I see that in the Russian Navy today a captain receives 14 times the pay of a petty officer. Yet under the proposals of this British Government the share of a British captain of the Royal Navy is to be no more than 2⅔ that of a petty officer.
Let me repeat, for all these reasons we should have voted against the Second Reading of this Bill were it not for the fact that the Bill is needed to give effect to the exercise of the Royal Prerogative, as the Parliamentary Secretary pointed out. But I must warn him that we shall seek in Committee to amend this Bill. Our future attitude depends on what happens in Committee with regard to the abolition of the Royal Prerogative and the abolition of the grant of prize money and of the grant of prize bounty. We shall seek to amend those provisions with regard to the Royal Air Force, about which I shall have more to say presently. In Committee we shall endeavour to persuade the Parliamentary Secretary to follow the example of his distinguished predecessor and withdraw the whole scale of shares for reconsideration. Upon the condition in which the Bill emerges from the Committee stage will depend our atti- 1869 tude to the Third Reading of this Bill, so I give the Government notice that we reserve our right to reverse on Third Reading our present support of this Bill if after the Committee stage we think it still runs contrary to the best interests of the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force.
I wish now for a few minutes to consider certain Clauses of the Bill in the light of what the Parliamentary Secretary has said, and to ask a few questions. It is easy enough to follow the simple mathematics by which the total amount of the proceeds from the Prize Court—about £12 million—becomes first £8 million, as representing the Droits of the Crown, and then £5¼ million after one-third of the total remaining has been allocated to the Dominions. With regard to the first sum, let me change my tone and congratulate the Admiralty on the success of their battle with the Treasury, because I understood from the Parliamentary Secretary at Question time the other day that if the Prize Fund had been restricted rigidly to the Droits of the Crown it would have been a good deal smaller than it is today. The Parliamentary Secretary spoke to us about the basis of the allocation to the Navy and the Air Force, but we on this side of the House feel that this basis should very definitely be stated in the Bill itself so that for future reference the basis of the division as approved by Parliament may be found on the Statute Book.
We all welcome the provisions of Clause 4 (2) which provides that the Admiralty may declare any vessel to have been a ship of war for the purposes of the Bill. I understand from this that such vessels as yachts and fishing craft may be dealt with, and that their crews may therefore become eligible for awards. When I first examined the Bill and looked at that Clause I hoped very much that under this Subsection it would have been possible to have included for some award those gallant men and women who plied all sorts and conditions of craft across the Channel at the time of the Dunkirk evacuation. I admit that the debt the country owes them cannot possibly be met in terms of a share of the Prize Fund, but I am sorry that they are precluded from any share simply because they will not have served at sea for the qualifying period of 180 days. Those days on which they did play their part 1870 were vital to the Navy, and their inclusion for some small dispersal from this Fund would be a recognition of their invaluable aid at a time of direst peril to this country. Perhaps the Civil Lord, in winding up, will tell us whether anything can be done on the lines I have suggested.
I wish now to elaborate the points in the Bill which we on this side of the House find objectionable. I refer first to the provision to extinguish for the future the Royal Prerogative. Never mind for the moment what that right relates to; we on this side of the House take the gravest exception to this arbitrary proposal. I do not think that the Parliamentary Secretary in his speech this morning gave in any way a satisfactory explanation of the Government's proposal. He coupled the abolition of the Royal Prerogative with the abolition of prize money, but I would venture to point out to him that in my view there is not necessarily any connection between the two. It may well be that some of the hon. Members opposite feel conscientiously that the historic and traditional award of prize money has passed its usefulness; and certainly when one compares recruiting to the Navy with that to the other Services it is immediately clear that the expectation of prize money is no longer the essential inducement to accept the King's shilling that it may have been one hundred or two hundred years ago.
The Parliamentary Secretary told us of other objections to the principle of prize money, but the point I want to make this morning is that we cannot foresee the future trend of warfare, if unfortunately it should come. There may be an occasion in the future, if there is another war, when His Majesty may wish to grant a special award in respect of war services, for which the Prize Fund might prove to be a most appropriate source, only to realise that it is too late because the Royal. Prerogative has been surrendered. I admit—and I think hon. Members on all sides of the House ought to realise it—that this will not prevent an award being made. I understand that there are several constitutional procedures under which the sums could still be paid, but they may not be so convenient; they might involve a great deal of extra work and give rise to undesirable precedents 1871 which would not arise if the Royal Prerogative to grant prize money had still been left in being. I cannot believe that any useful purpose is served by this proposal, and we cannot but regard it as harmful to the interests of the people, and we shall always oppose; any weakening of the constitutional position of the Crown.
With regard to the prize money itself, I have not been very much impressed by the rather specious arguments of the Parliamentary Secretary. I am not saying for one moment that the abolition of prize money will affect the loyalty and duty which are the inheritance of the Royal Navy, but when one thinks of the long months of patient service and the long weeks of monotony without any excitement of action, then I think the decision to abolish this prize money is seen as a pretty petty act. There can be no more logic in prize money than in the apportionment of salvage money to merchant seamen who answer an S.O.S. and risk their lives as a result, but I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to speak to Lloyds and ask whether they would advise the abolition of the salvage money which is paid on these occasions. It may be next time, if a war should in fortunately start, that prize money may be found to have outlived its usefulness, but my point is that we cannot foretell that now. Surely, we should await the outbreak of another war before announcing that prize money is no longer to be paid.
I turn now to prize bounty, which is still a matter of Royal Prerogative. I think I am right in saying, however, that it is paid from funds provided by the Exchequer. Our great objection to its extinction is that the men who served throughout the war and who had the not unreasonable expectation of prize bounty in respect of sinking or capture of enemy ships, with which they might individually be concerned, now find that at the end of the war they are not to receive any prize bounty at all. I think it is true to say that they have no rights or claims to prize bounty, but nothing was said at any time to warn them about it until the Minister of Defence made a statement in December, 1945. I believe that these attempts to do 1872 away with old traditions that have proved their usefulness is nothing but ideological nonsense, and we on this side will not, be a party to them being wantonly swept away by a totalitarian socialist state.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
Do I understand the hon. Member to say that any Act of the House of Commons which interferes with the Royal Prerogative commits us to a totalitarian state?
§ Mr. Thomas
If the hon. Member had been in the House to hear the first part of my speech he would know that I meant nothing of the sort.
I come now to the Royal Air Force and the distribution of prize money. There is a departure here from the established practice of making payments to individuals. The proposals in the Bill cut at the whole heart of the principle of prize money. We agree that £1¼ million, if that is to be the sum, will not go far among more than one million officers and men, but we remain unconvinced that in the distribution of prize money to the Royal Air Force it is necessary to include all those officers and men who did not see service with units operating overseas, many of whom had little to do with aircraft. The principle of distribution was firmly established in the 1919 Declaration, the essential condition being those who had sea service. There is, surely, no reason for not restricting the Royal Air Force distribution to men and women who served for a qualifying period with squadrons operating overseas, or in groups and command headquarters directly concerned with operations. The proposal that a quarter of the prize money earned by the gallantry of aircrews and skilled ground crews should be spent on cadets who saw no service seems to us a monstrous misappropriation of the funds which by tradition and common usage have always gone to those who have earned the awards.
I turn again to the Navy and the crowning folly of the Government in the closing down of the scales which, after the last war, went from 1,250 shares to an Admiral to three shares to a boy. The ratio is now ten To one. Not only does this seem unfair to the officers, but it also seems an insult to the men. It is quite possible that there are many able seamen who served in that rating from 1939 to 1873 1945. These men are often the backbone of a ship's company. They are men of great experience but who do not feel able to shoulder responsibilities when a chance of promotion comes.
I would point out that these able seamen who may have served in that rating during the whole of the war receive the same share as a boy who by virtue of his rating could not have served more than six months without being promoted and could not, therefore, have gone to sea before April, 1945. A commissioned warrant officer only receives three shares, whereas after the 1914–18 war he received 15 shares, or 20 shares if in command. I turn now to the officers—T124 officers—who served in armed merchant cruisers and escort carriers. They are Merchant Service personnel on civilian pay, and very often the rates they received were more than the captain of the ship. According to these scales they are to get three shares. Therefore, on behalf of Members on this side of the House, I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to take back these scales and look at them again.
I suggest that the scales should be based on the pay scales. I know that the pay scales, like other Socialist innovations, have not been altogether a success but I understand that they have been amended now by the Chiefs of Staff Committee and the Minister of Defence. I wonder whether the Parliamentary Secretary could not take back these scales of award for prize money and try to strike some proportion according to gradations of pay.
§ Commander Pursey (Hull, East)
If the hon. Member would increase the number of shares for senior officers, which inevitably means reducing the amounts for the lower ratings, then in view of the fact that the Parliamentary Secretary has said that ordinary seamen are to receive only £5 to £6, does he suggest that the ordinary seamen should get only 5s.?
§ Mr. Thomas
I do not think that is a very sensible contribution. We are in favour of narrowing down the scales, as we were in 1918. I am pointing out the fantastic position whereby able seamen are placed on the same level as boys who could hardly have got to sea before the end of the war.
§ The Civil Lord of the Admiralty (Mr. Walter Edwards)
Is the hon. Member saying that boys could not go to sea until the end of the war?
§ Mr. Thomas
I did not say that. I suggested that a boy might not have been long at sea, not that boys do not go to sea. I was pointing out that a boy who might scarcely have gone to sea before the end of the war gets the same as an able seaman who may have been in that rating for the whole period of the war.
§ Captain Marsden (Chertsey)
Perhaps I might clarify that point. Although the boy—to use an official naval term—might have been to sea before, is it not quite clear that the other sort of boy, the naval cadet, could not have gone to sea before May, 1945, and still be a boy on 3rd September, 1945, but he gets a share and a half, which is too much.
§ Mr. Thomas
Perhaps the Civil Lord will deal with that point when he replies. I hope that I have said enough to indicate our line of criticism of what we consider to be a miserable Bill. I assure the House that we are irrevocably determined to oppose those parts of the Bill for which we consider the Government had not the slightest mandate from the people. The proposal to extinguish the Royal Prerogative as to prize money and prize bounty is a monstrous one to put into this Bill, but since this rather sordid Measure will at least provide funds which His Majesty will be able to employ for some of these functions, we shall not vote against the Second Reading of the Bill, but we reserve our action for the remaining stages of this Bill.
§ 11.52 a.m.
§ Commander Pursey (Hull, East)
I have never heard such arrant nonsense spoken in the three years that I have been in this House by an individual who, from what he has said, would appear to know practically nothing about the subject with which he has been dealing. First, however, let me deal with the Parliamentary Secretary's speech. I should like to make it clear that if there is more money available there will be, after the first distribution, a supplementary distribution. After the first war there were three distributions. The final one was not made 1875 until 12 years after the Armistice. At that time there were £14 million to distribute. This time the amount is £4 million.
The hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. J. P. L. Thomas) dealt with the question of prize bounty. Of the nonsense and ignorance he talked about the payment of prize bounty I have never heard the equal. He tried to justify going on paying £5 per head, which the prize bounty used to be, for all the crew of the vessel destroyed or captured, and distributing it amongst those who were at the destruction or capture. How does it work out? Prize bounty was pure luck. There were ship's officers and men at sea practically the whole time of the war who never got a penny of prize bounty. On the other hand, a ship would go to sea for the first time—and perhaps for the one and only time—and get a scoop of prize bounty. It was the most unfair scheme that ever existed in any Service or any organisation.
There is the classic example of the submarine in the Dardanelles which, with a handful of men, sank a Turkish transport with a large number of men aboard, and, as a result, became entitled to fantastic rates of prize bounty. The hon. Gentleman opposite has gone through the Bill and made mountains out of molehills. He has created a lot of smoke where there was little real fire. There was no justification for prize bounty at all in the recent war.
Now I come to prize money and to the argument about sharing. What happened after the last war? The Commander-in-Chief got £3,000 and the boy got £15. The old argument, even in Nelson's time. was that prize money should be distributed in equal amounts for equal danger. We have not got to that stage yet, but there is a very good argument that prize shares should be the same for the senior officer and for the boy. If it were a matter of dealing with £14 million, there might be some ground for the hon. Gentleman's argument, but it is only £4 million. As the Parliamentary Secretary said, the ordinary seaman will get only from £5 to £6 while the admiral will get from £50 to £60. If we are within a limited amount and we increase the number of shares which in turn will 1876 increase the amount for the senior officers and intermediate grades, it means that the individual at the bottom of the scale will get less.
§ Vice-Admiral Taylor (Paddington, South) rose——
§ Commander Pursey
I will give way in a moment. Let me finish this point. It is simply a matter of arithmetic. We cannot get any more out of the "kitty" than is in it. That is arithmetic. Perhaps the hon. and gallant Gentleman used to learn it at school-one, two, three, and so on.
§ Commander Pursey
If the total amount in the "kitty" is £4 million and there are to be increases in one direction, there must inevitably be reductions in other directions. The reductions might well be down to something like 5s. a head for the boys.
§ Vice-Admiral Taylor
I would ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman, in regard to his last statement about the amount of money which there is to be distributed, whether he is arguing on a question of principle. The Bill states that the distribution is to be made so that each officer, rating, and other rank entitled to participate may receive shares according to his rank, rating, age or seniority, as set forth in the scale. Does the hon. and gallant Gentleman disagree with that statement?
§ Commander Pursey
I am not arguing on that point at all. The hon. and gallant Gentleman cannot have heard what I said.
§ Commander Pursey
All right. I am taking the argument about increasing the shares for the senior officers.
§ Vice-Admiral Taylor
The hon. and gallant Gentleman was putting forward an argument that in the old days it was a question of danger and that as everybody accepted the same danger, everybody should have the same prize money. That is not what is laid down in the Bill. I am asking the hon. and gallant Gentleman whether he agrees with the Bill.
§ Commander Pursey
I said there was an argument, even in Nelson's time, that there should be equal prize money for equal danger and I said that we have not got to that stage yet.
§ Commander Pursey
Now I come to the question of a boy getting the same amount as an able seaman. I am prepared to agree that the able seaman is the backbone of the Navy. If the able seaman has served through the full period of the war he should receive consideration for it, but the able seaman is in the same position as every other individual, petty officer or officer. There is no question of selecting the able seaman for an argument that he should have something different from what is in the scale. I say to the hon. and gallant Gentleman that the boy who was at sea, and becomes entitled to the share laid down by the Admiralty, is in every way as justified in getting that share as is the able seaman. He is at sea and he is taking a share of the risk and danger, and so on.
§ Commander Pursey
I hope that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman will be able to make his own speech later on.
§ Commander Pursey
The question is one of a limited number of shares within a small range starting from 10 and going down to the lower figure. Therefore, there cannot be the wide variations that there were after the first war. I say that there is no argument for the able seamen getting more than the boy or the ordinary seamen—they have gone together and they should stay there.
Then we come to the question of whether there should be prize money at all, and the Government's decision to abolish prize money from now onwards. Where have we got with this prize money? At one time it was entirely a naval affair, now we have the Royal Air Force in it. I do not object to that—good luck to them—but the Army played a certain part in the war, and we cannot 1878 discriminate between the Services today. The argument from the Opposition Benches has always been that it was a three-Service war and that it should be considered as a combined operation, but there is no justification for continuing to pay prize money from now onwards.
The hon. Member for Hereford then asked: Why abolish prize money for the next war before that war comes, not knowing what it will be like? But we know the trend of future warfare. In the first war there were large numbers of captures, but in the second war the enemy took care first to get his vessels back to port before he declared war and, secondly, that any vessels at sea should be scuttled. The consequence is that in a future war the chances are that there will be fewer ships and therefore less money to spread over a greater number of individuals, and so the time has passed when there should be prize money.
As we shall have an opportunity of considering the speech of the hon. Member for Hereford in greater detail before the Third Reading of the Bill, I want to make it quite clear that the majority of his arguments were just detailed nonsense. I support the Bill as put forward by the Admiralty, for it is the fairest way of distributing the limited amount of money available. I hope that the Admiralty will stick to the proportions and not give way to the nonsense put forward from the Opposition Benches.
§ 12.3 p.m.
§ Vice-Admiral Taylor (Paddington, South)
I am extremely glad to have been called after the hon. and gallant Member for East Hull (Commander Pursey) who was somewhat rude to my hon. Friend the Member for Hereford (Mr. J. P. L. Thomas) in his arguments about the abolition of prize money and prize bounty. The hon. Member apparently is completely opposed to any prize money or prize bounty being given to any rank or rating in His Majesty's Navy, and is in favour of its abolition. He did not really put forward any sound argument for that. So far as the bounty is concerned, he argued that it was a question of luck. I might retort that it is a question of luck that the hon. and gallant Member is sitting in this House. Good luck to him, and good luck to those who have the good fortune to destroy, 1879 capture, or sink a ship and obtain prize bounty for doing so. The argument that there may not be an opportunity is beside the point altogether. If the opportunity does arise, then it should be possible for the ships' crew to take advantage of it.
As far as his argument about prize money is concerned, he seemed to get rather confused. I tried to clarify the position for him, but he would go on referring to the question of the same danger, the same risk, as being the basis for the apportionment of such money as was available. On that he argued that the able seaman should get the same as a boy, quite ignoring the question of the service given by the able seamen and the service that could be given by the boy, and quite ignoring the fact of rank and responsibility. I disagree totally with his argument.
I am, of course, extremely glad that this Prize Bill has now been presented to the House, and also that members of the Royal Air Force will participate in the prize money. That is quite correct because they took part in naval operations and are entitled to it. However, I entirely agree with what my hon. Friend said as to the objections on this side of the House to the distribution of the money which is being given to them.
There are various questions I would like to ask with regard to the rules which govern whether men qualify for the prize money or not, for instance, the question of the 180 days sea service. It is possible that an officer or rating may, before he has qualified by his 180 days at sea, have been killed in action or wounded to such an extent that he could no longer serve at sea. If he has been killed, are his representatives to be denied the prize money on that account? My next question is, supposing he was not killed in action, but due to wounds or ill health or an accident on board when at sea, he was no longer able to serve in a ship of war at sea and therefore not able to qualify by 180 days service on that account, is he to receive no consideration? Also what is the position of the naval ratings who served as gun crews in merchantmen? As I read the Bill they get nothing at all. What is the position of the commodore in charge of convoys and his staff, who were not 1880 in men-of-war but who rendered inestimable service to this country in the appalling conditions which they had to undergo in command of those convoys—are they to get nothing? If so, it is entirely wrong.
Also I want to know whether the prize money is free of tax. I do not trust the Chancellor of the Exchequer too much in that respect, and it is of the greatest importance that it should be tax free. So far as the representatives of men who have been killed are concerned, it should be made easy for them to draw what is due to the relative who has been killed. It is difficult for the representative of an officer or a rating to know whether he has qualified or not, and he certainly does not know what is due. So I hope the Admiralty will undertake the duty of making it easy for them to obtain the prize money due.
Now I would like to deal with the proportion laid down in the Proclamation. It will be remembered, that the Parliamentary Secretary made a statement in this House on 28th April:It will be found that the proportion as between the highest and the lowest will be somewhat less than it was after the last war."[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th April, 1948; Vol. 450; c. 390.]"Somewhat less" can be realised when one compares what happened after the 1914–18 war and what is to happen now in connection with the distribution of this prize money.
An Admiral of the Fleet is a man who has given at least 50 years of his life to the Service, who must have been a man of outstanding ability and rendered great services and borne great responsibilities, not only in wartime but also during peacetime in command of Fleets. After the 1914–18 war he received, in round figures, some 300 times as much as an ordinary seaman. Today he is to receive only 10 times as much. I quite understand the mentality of the Socialist Party. They consider that all men are equal and all men should have the same consideration for the work they do. But they are not equal; many of them are not even men. The whole policy of the Socialist Party is to pull down, to lower, the standard of everybody to a common low level—not to raise it up, but to pull it down. This is exactly what is being done in the apportionment of prize money as laid down in the Warrant.
1881 I would mention also that after the 1914–18 war a captain received 56 times as much as an ordinary seaman, but under this Warrant he will receive only four times as much. I will not go on enumerating examples. I quote these two examples, just to show what the "somewhat less" proportions mentioned by the Parliamentary Secretary mean. A reduction of from 300 times to 10 times, and from 56 times to four times is certainly somewhat less. It is a monstrous and unfair way of apportioning this money. How is it that 10 was taken as the index figure for the highest number of units? What led to that decision? It would seem to have been taken arbitrarily. There does not seem to have been any other way of fixing these rates, which are so much less for officers and men, from the highest to the lowest.
§ Mr. Dugdale
If the hon. and gallant Gentleman had listened carefully to my remarks, he would have heard me say that these rates approximated somewhat to the scale of the war gratuity. I do not know whether he raised any great objection to those scales when they were proposed by the Government. The present figures are based on those lines.
§ Vice-Admiral Taylor
I do not know that there is very much parallel between war gratuity and prize money.
§ Commander Pursey
I have been very patient and did not reply earlier, but to get this matter right I want now to ask the hon. and gallant Member two questions of fact. If we are to pay an Admiral of the Fleet 300 times more than we pay an ordinary seaman-and this time there is only £4 million in the "kitty" instead of £14 million after the first war—how much will the ordinary seaman get? The argument that the Admiral of the Fleet should get these fantastically high scales by virtue of his increased responsibility just does not make sense. As an Admiral of the Fleet, does he not wear more gold lace and get far higher pay and allowances than everybody else and, therefore, is he not already catered for by his increased pay and allowances?
§ Vice-Admiral Taylor
In answer to the hon. and gallant Member's first question, any officer who reaches the rank of Admiral or Admiral of the Fleet is a man 1882 of outstanding ability and he should receive—[Laughter]—I understand the joke, because I happen to have the rank of Vice-Admiral. I would like to disillusion hon. Members, however, if they think that I am talking in any way personally. Undoubtedly, such an officer is a man of outstanding ability. He takes tremendous responsibility, and ought to receive a reward commensurate with his rank and responsibility and the post he holds.
§ Vice-Admiral Taylor
The answer to the second question is that the amount of money should be allotted, not on the basis of the amount available for distribution, but on the principle of rank and responsibility, which I have put forward.
§ Vice-Admiral Taylor
That has nothing at all to do with the matter. He will obtain his share whatever is laid down for him by the approved scale.
§ Vice-Admiral Taylor
There is one further question I would like to ask. Will any extra provision be made for officers in command—lieutenants, lieutenant-commanders and commanders, for instance, many of whom commanded destroyers and carried out most responsible and important duties? Are they to receive anything for being in command? I notice also that a commander will not receive the same amount as his equivalent rank in the Marines—a lieutenant-colonel. He is to receive the same amount as a major, which is quite wrong. It is not right that he should be so reduced in rank.
I know that many hon. Members want to speak in this Debate, so I will conclude my remarks. I am opposed to many of the provisions of the Bill and in Committee will do my utmost to resist them. I agree entirely with what has already been said against the Bill, particularly about the proportions in which the prize money is to be paid out and the future abolition of prize money and prize bounty.
§ 12.17 p.m.
§ Mr. Chetwynd (Stockton-on-Tees)
The Debate has been getting into some stormy weather in the conflict between the protagonists from the Navy. I make no apology for intervening. I have no vested interests in this matter, because my service during the last war was in the Army and I have nothing to hope for and nothing to lose or to gain from taking part in the Debate. The hon. and gallant Member for South Paddington (Vice-Admiral Taylor) at one stage touched upon what he thought to be the principles of Socialism; but there is one which he omitted, and that is the abolition of privilege. What we are -seeking in this pill is the scaling down, at least, of privilege. If some of us had our way, we would dispense with it altogether.
§ Vice-Admiral Taylor
Will the hon. Member allow me to answer him? In the Service there is no question of privilege. An officer receives a certain rank by selection and because of his efficiency. Men are promoted from the lower deck, so there is no question of privilege at all.
§ Mr. Chetwynd
I am not disputing that. What I am disputing is that the higher ranks should get disproportionate amounts compared with the lower ranks. This is a point upon which, so far, we have had no answer.
I regret that the only valid reason my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary brought forward to support the Bill was that many men had been led to expect that at the end of the war, through serving in the Navy, they would receive a share of prize money. He went on to say that they were rightly led to expect it. I can see no morality in that. It is a question purely of tradition, as the hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. J. P. L. Thomas) said. I, for one, do not think that in these modern days we ought to be bound by tradition to that extent. It was quite arbitrary whether a man who was called up in the last war served in the Navy, the Air Force or the Army. There is no logic at all in the mere fact that because a man happened to serve in the Navy he should receive some benefit, no matter how small; that a man who served in the Air Force will, by the action of this Bill, receive nothing, but benevolent funds will benefit; and that the man who happened to do his service 1884 in the Army, very often under equally arduous and dangerous conditions, also should receive nothing.
I think it wrong that the Navy should benefit individually by the amount according to the scales. However, I think it right, and a step in the right direction, that these scales should be reduced. Do the Opposition think that a man in the Navy was more daring and more willing to capture ships, and so on, because he thought that at the end of it, in two or three years' time, he would get a share of prize money, or because he was doing his duty no matter where it led him? I am inclined to think that everyone would do his best in those circumstances, regardless of what monetary reward might come at a later stage.
§ Major Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)
The hon. Member is basing his question on the assumption that it was entirely an arbitrary matter whether a man went into the Army, Navy, or Air Force. I think I am right in saying that the Navy had a higher proportion of volunteers than any other of the three Services.
§ Mr. Chetwynd
Of course they had, but I cannot see how that applies to the award of prize money. To give a personal example, I tried to get into the Air Force and, although I would not benefit under this Bill, I might have been thought at the time to qualify for some prize money. It is purely a matter of chance where a man served, and that is not the basis for the issue of prize money. We must agree to accept the Bill as it stands, although, in principle, I think it is wrong. It is a peculiar Bill; everyone is disagreeing with it, but no one is prepared to vote against it on Second Reading.
I think the right procedure has been adopted in regard to the Air Force, to make over prize money to benevolent funds and charitable purposes for the welfare of airmen and their dependants. I would like that to have been done in regard to the Navy also. In the Air Force it is quite impossible to distinguish between those who maintain the aircraft and those actually present at the capture of a ship. It would be an impossible task to try to divide prize money between those who were active combatants and those who made their service possible. We all hope that the question of prize money will not arise in the future, but 1885 there again, I think it is in accordance with proper principles that it should be abolished. It has long outlived its usefulness and there is no logic in it. I am prepared to support the Bill, with all its inequalities, on the condition that should war, unfortunately, arise in the future, this relic of the past will be abolished.
§ 12.25 p.m.
§ Captain Marsden (Chertsey)
I do not intend to follow the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd) in detail. I do not think he has a very clear perspective of why prize money was instituted. The Financial Secretary in introducing the Bill explained this a little, but he might have gone a little further. It has always been looked upon as part of the emoluments of the Navy. It is said that men who served in the Navy early in the war were led to expect that they would get prize money, and of course they were entitled to it by Royal Proclamation. The Financial Secretary might have given a little more of the history and might have made it clear that all the rights of the Crown were paid to the Crown for the purpose of the upkeep of the Navy. The upkeep of the ships and the men who served in them was the personal responsibility of the Monarch and moneys were paid to him for that purpose. Only when the Civil List was introduced was prize money not paid to the Crown in that way, because the Crown received payments from the Civil List.
I must make a few remarks on the Royal Proclamation, because as far as I understand procedure, I do not see how one can bring in various points about the scale of shares on the Committee stage. In the last war I got several hundred pounds prize money. It may shock some hon. Members when I say that I also got some prize bounty, which used to be called "blood money" The Civil Lord said that the Act dealing with prize bounty is to be repealed under this Measure. In my day we had to name a prize agent. I only wish that some enterprising prize agent would bring in a claim for prize bounty under this Bill. I do not think we could get away with it; I think we should have to pay him.
Returning to the question of scales, I can speak for a large number of officers who would not wish any particular 1886 change in the scale as apportioned between officers and men. I do not think they want to change it. Many of these senior officers of my time are living a hard and difficult life. They have to trim their sails, cut down and wait for a fine, fresh, Conservative trade wind to bring them a more salubrious climate and happier life, but they are not complaining. The hon. and gallant Member for East Hull (Commander Pursey) is perfectly correct when he says that if one gets more, others must get less, and I do not think officers would want to change on that score.
In the last war the claims were based on time spent at sea. They were split up and the man who served for the whole period would have 12 units, 12 periods of six months and would get considerably more than the man of the same rank who served for only six months. Now it is all lumped together. A naval cadet who, after leaving Dartmouth, went to sea in early 1945, when the danger was over, except for a few stray mines—when there was no danger as sailors understand danger—would qualify on 3rd September to get as much as a leading seaman who served all through the war. I do not think that fair and reasonable. I suggest that this should be unscrambled and a new formula should be made. The total amount paid would not be different, but the allocation would be different. One cannot say that 180 days at the fag-end of the war in a very fine Summer—which makes a lot of difference to sailors—should qualify for the same amount as serving from start to finish.
I would like to know if some people who have been omitted will now be included. During the recent war my time was mostly spent with men responsible for the defence and equipment of merchant ships—D.E.M.S. Those men go to sea for the protection of merchant ships. Many of them probably put in more time at sea than if they had been in a man-of-war. They were continually at sea. When one voyage was over, the ship was turned round and went back to sea again. They were always in a situation of danger, allowed only to protect themselves but not to attack: and in fact, they did defend their ships, as their wonderful history proves. The number of ships they saved by their personal energy, bravery and exertion was enormous, and the 1887 number of casualties they sustained was proof that they stuck to their posts. They went through all that period and yet they are not included in this distribution. If I am wrong I hope that the Civil Lord will say so at once.
It is not a question of a few men who might have been overlooked. It is a big body of men with a large number of officers. We are proud of the fact that practically every officer started his life as a seaman, who because of his officer-like capabilities, was promoted to the rank of officer. It is true that some of these men were given a little extra pay, 6d. or 1s. a day, but plenty of other people got extra pay for extra jobs. These men were away from the Service to which they belonged; they were away from such amenities as are available to the Navy when not actually at sea. I hope it will not be claimed that the extra pay was to compensate them in any way for the prize money to which I think they are entitled. I hope that this matter will be taken up by other speakers. Not a few men, but thousands are involved in this matter, and we hope that prize money will be allowed them.
Reference has already been made to the commodores of convoys. I do not intend to refer to them. I know perfectly well that, unfortunately and regrettably, many hon. Members opposite have not the slightest interest in officers or their pay and welfare. [An HON. MEMBER: "Nonsense."] Officers will look after themselves. Many of those to whom I have just referred were killed standing on the bridge of the merchant ship looking after the convoy which they were sent to direct. They had on their staffs signalmen, devoted and most capable men, most of whom had bigger responsibilities than they would have had in a man-of-war. Generally speaking, one or two signalmen were drawn from the Regular Navy and were reinforced by men called up for the war period.
These man are not included in this distribution because, quite rightly, the definition in every case, wherever a man is borne for pay, is "Where does he do his duty?" If he is in an auxiliary ship or seagoing ship of war connected with the sea, if he is in what we all understand by a "White Ensign" ship, he is included in the 1888 distribution. If he is not, he gets nothing. I hope that the Civil Lord will tell us that these men will be included. The Admiralty have power to include them under paragraph 8 of the Proclamation whereby the Admiralty can interpret any existing regulation contained in the Proclamation or make provision for cases for which provision has not been made.
There is another class of men to whom I would refer. I am sorry that the customary brigadiers are not here to sustain their case, but it is half-past twelve. I wish to refer to the Maritime Regiment. They were sent to sea on exactly the same terms as the D.E.M.S. I cannot speak for them. They have their own champions, who are not at the moment in the Chamber, but they are about, and I hope that they will take up the case of those men. As the Admiralty have seen fit to extend the distribution of prize money to such wide circles they must be prepared for these difficulties and border-line cases, which I hope they will meet. I hope that I have made clear my case upon those two points, and that the Civil Lord will be able to give us some assurance when he replies to the Debate.
I wish to refer briefly to the abolition of prize bounty. Why do away with it? There is a reason for it. There is a reason for everything the Navy does. In the old days, frigates and light cruisers, as the Navy called them—present day cruisers—went off chasing the merchant ships largely from the very idea that there was prize money. An inducement was required to keep the line of battleships closely engaged in their job, which was to attack the enemy line of battleships. So prize bounty was instituted, and it was usually earned by the heavier and not the lighter ships. Lord Nelson knew this well. He was not at all enthusiastic about prize money, not for the Socialistic reasons which we hear from the benches opposite but for quite a different reason. It was that his senior officers might earn so much money in a short time that they would retire, buy a farm and live in Devonshire. On the other hand, he himself stated that it was a deterrent to the main line of action. In fact, when he chased the French Fleet and finally defeated it at the Battle of the Nile, he would not even turn aside 1889 to capture a Spanish convoy of merchant ships, which might have brought into his own purse many thousands of pounds.
There is a reason for prize bounty and I am very much against its abolition. If some hon. Members had had an allocation of it they would not be so enthusiastic about abolishing it. My other point is a question for the Committee stage, that is the abolition of prize money itself. I hope that much more will be said. The Civil Lord and the Financial Secretary must be prepared to meet some strong arguments in the Committee stage. I will certainly support the Second Reading of this Bill on the understanding that it will require a lot of overhauling before it is really shipshape and fit to issue as one of the laws of the land.
§ 12.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Shackleton (Preston)
I have heard some very noisy broadsides from the Navy in today's Debate, even though some of the explosive from the Opposition was similar to the explosive in the shells of the Royal Navy at Jutland—rather out-of-date. It is a fact that, although the Navy could always be relied upon to fire upon enemy ships, they could always be equally relied upon—and this applies to all navies—to fire upon aircraft belonging to anybody's Service.
I feel hesitant about intervening in this Debate, which is so much a naval occasion. Nevertheless, it is the aircraft which I am afraid has not only torpedoed—or perhaps that is the wrong expression, and I should say bombed-the old idea of naval warfare out of existence. It has also very largely destroyed the case for prize money. It is obvious that once the Air Force is allowed to participate in prize money, there is no limit to the ultimate extension of prize money throughout all the Services, and ultimately back to the men who build the ships and to the factory workers.
I would like to deal with one or two points which have been made in that connection, because a special point has been made about the payment of bounty money. I do not see how at the present time, or following upon the last war, one could possibly arrive at a satisfactory payment of bounty money. It has been 1890 suggested, I think by the hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. J. P. L. Thomas), that the distribution of prize money—and, therefore, presumably, this would apply also to bounty money—might have been confined to Coastal Command. I can claim to speak upon this subject as an ex-member of Coastal Command. Why confine it to Coastal Command? Bomber Command itself played a decisive part in the war at sea. It was responsible for the sinking of the "Tirpitz" and also for the sinking of a large part of the German Navy in the latter part of the war. There was never any real expectation of bounty money or prize money in the Royal Air Force.
I would draw the attention of the House to the fact that during the war aircraft sank more German U boats than surface ships—the figures are available to be seen. I do not know of anyone in Coastal Command who seriously expected he would be paid bounty money. There was occasional talk about it in the mess, but if the conversation ever developed we always took the line that the Navy would get away with the lot anyway. I believe that the Air Force have taken the only logical and possible line in the circumstances with regard to the prize money that has been allocated to them. The very nature of this Debate does show that it is a total impossibility in modern conditions equitably to distribute prize money. I think that as time goes on, and if there were another war and another distribution, it would be resented more and more by the other Services, as well as by the ordinary citizens.
It is admittedly difficult for someone who has not served in the Navy to appreciate the strength of naval feeling and tradition on this matter. We fully realise that naval personnel feel very deeply about it, because it is part of the great tradition of the Navy. I do ask them, however, to recognise that circumstances have altered greatly, and that once the payment of prize money to the Air Force is admitted by virtue of the part which aircraft played in the war at sea, the whole normal, roughly logical, approach, which did exist in the past for distribution, is destroyed. The hon. and gallant Member for Chertsey (Captain Marsden) made a very reasonable and eloquent request on behalf of the D.E.M.S. He also 1891 mentioned commodores of convoys. I fully sympathise with his point of view, and with anyone who would make a request on behalf of the Merchant Navy. But I think it is clear that we have reached a point where we have to decide that this is the last payment of this kind that is to be made. The hon. Member for Hereford said that this is the worst Prize Bill that has been introduced. I say that its great merit is that it will, I hope, be the last Prize Bill that will be introduced.
Since the Under-Secretary of State for Air is present, I ask him to explain what is to be done with regard to the distribution of funds that have come to the Air Force. We have had a brief mention from the Minister who opened the Debate, but I think the House should be told something of the intentions of the Air Ministry. Is it proposed to grant some of the funds, say, to the Royal Air Force Association, or to put them to other purposes? I think the House has to accept this Bill. There is a certain rough justice in making an allocation of this kind at the present moment, and I am sure that when hon. Members opposite think more about it, they will realise that, although it may be a break with naval tradition, none the less it is an inevitable break.
§ 12.43 p.m.
§ Mr. George Ward (Worcester)
I hope that the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Shackleton) will forgive me if I do not follow him in the argument whether or not prize money should be awarded to the Royal Air Force in the future. I wish to deal with the distribution of the prize money which is in fact to be distributed on this occasion. We on this side of the House are not at all happy about the terms of this Bill so far as they concern the Royal Air Force.
The first point with which I wish to deal is the way in which the proportion of £4 million to the Royal Navy and £1¼ million to the Royal Air Force has been arrived at. If it is true that the Air Ministry are satisfied with these arrangements—and the Parliamentary Secretary, in his opening speech, said that the Ministry are satisfied—they must have had the position explained to them very much more clearly than he made any attempt 1892 to do in his speech to the House, and much more clearly than is done under the terms of this Bill. In the Explanatory Memorandum to the Bill, it is stated that the total of condemned and condemnable proceeds has been estimated and it has been agreed that the total proceeds should be pooled, and allocated in proportions based on peak numbers of Naval, Marine and Air Forces raised by the several Governments during the late war.
It is difficult to believe that that is the basis on which these proportions have been estimated. Surely the peak number of Royal Air Force personnel raised during the war was very much greater than the peak number of naval personnel. Do these proportions of £4 million to £1¼ million bear any possible relation to the contribution made by the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force respectively to the capture of enemy shipping? When one thinks of the tremendous contribution made to the war at sea by the Royal Air Force, of the number of submarines and other vessels which were rendered powerless by aircraft of Coastal Command; of the relentless pounding of the U-boat pens and the almost endless mine-laying operations by Bomber Command, both of which eventually led to the capture of enemy shipping; and the very large number of enemy vessels crippled by rocket-firing aircraft of Fighter Command, it is difficult to believe that the proportion of £4 million to £1¼ million can be related in any way to the contribution made by each Service.
Are the proportions based on the number of personnel involved? Naturally, there is a very much larger crew in a battleship than in, a flying boat. That may have something to do with it; but if so, may we be told what are these numbers, and on what figures the proportions have been estimated? Or are these proportions just arbitrary amounts which someone has decided—a nice round sum of £4 million for the Navy, and whatever happens to be left over for the Royal Air Force? I do not wish to get into an argument with my friends in the Royal Navy on this subject, particularly as the Under-Secretary for Air and myself seem to be somewhat outnumbered in the House. All I wish to do is to find out how these proportions work, and whether the amount allotted to each of 1893 the two Services bears any relation whatever to the contribution made by them to the war at sea in terms of enemy shipping captured, or whether it has any relation to the number of personnel involved.
§ Commander Pursey
Would the hon. Gentleman answer this question? Does he appreciate that a large number of these ships were captured overseas, in the distant seas, where the Royal Air Force were not operating at all? That is one of the factors.
§ Mr. Ward
Certainly, but I am asking for information. I am not arguing that the thing is wrong. I am quite sure that the hon. and gallant Gentleman will agree that in all theatres of war the Royal Air Force in many ways enabled the Royal Navy to capture enemy shipping.
I wish to refer to that part of the Bill which deals with the use which is to be made of the £l¼ million allotted to the Royal Air Force. The terms of this Clause are much too vague. The organisations to which the Air Council may make grants from this prize money should be specified. The Air Ministry may know now to which organisations they want to give the money, and the House should be told. It should be laid down quite clearly. I hope that at least an Amendment on those lines will be accepted by the Government. Personally, I should prefer to go further. Under this Measure the share of prize money given to the Air Force is to be, used:…" for the benefit of persons who are or have been members of any of His Majesty's air forces to which this section applies or their dependants.I suggest that that should read:for the benefit of persons who were members of any of His Majesty's air forces during the late war.Why should prize money earned by pilots and crews in operation against enemy shipping be used for the benefit of people joining the Air Force who were not in that Service at all during the war, let alone for the benefit of people who never flew over the sea? This is prize money granted by Royal Prerogative in reward for special services rendered at sea. It is not a grant voted by Parliament. During the Debate on the Air Estimates on 1894 4th March, 1948, the Secretary of State for Air said:It would not be too much to say that what we are doing is to build the third Royal Air Force. The first was demobilised in 1919. The second has been undergoing demobilisation during the past two years."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th March, 1948; Vol. 448, c. 539That may be so, but then surely it is with the second Royal Air Force that this Bill is concerned—not the first and not the third. I contend that it is the second Royal Air Force, which took part in the last war, which alone earned this prize money and which alone should get the benefit of it.
That brings me to my final point. Is it so impossible to distribute this money to the air crews who actually earned it? I do not agree with the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd) that it is a good idea that the prize money should be put into a pool to be used at the discretion of the Air Council for the benefit of certain organisations. I suggest that it is a bad idea. I should like to know whether any effort has been made to distribute this money in the normal way. If the Navy can do it, why cannot the R.A.F.? Is it because the Royal Air Force is receiving a share which is pitifully small or because the work involved would be alarmingly great? I do not think that it would be impossible to trace people who justly can claim this money.
§ Mr. Shackleton
How would the hon. Gentleman allocate money in the case of Bomber Command where there has been a massed bomber raid and a ship has been sunk, or even in the case of a raid like that on the "Tirpitz"?
§ Mr. Ward
This money is awarded for ships captured and not for ships sunk or destroyed. I am merely concerned with the contribution which the R.A.F. made to the capture of enemy shipping. It should be possible to trace the men who were concerned. It must be known which units of Coastal, Fighter and Bomber Command were actually engaged in anti-shipping operations which led to the capture of an enemy vessel in any of the various theatres of war at any given time. It must also be known what air crew were on the strength of those units at that time. It may be that there are insuperable difficulties—I do not know—but I should like to hear more about it. In addition to hon. Members 1895 having the right to know more about this position, I submit that the Air Force has a right to know. The Service should be told why it is being treated differently from the Navy. The men should be told what are the considerations which prevent prize money from being distributed among those who actually earned it. They should be assured that this Bill will be amended so that the benefit of the money will go to those who fought in the war or to their dependants, and to no one else.
§ 12.56 p.m.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Air (Mr. Geoffrey de Freitas)
It may be convenient if I intervene for a few minutes to answer some of the points which have been raised about the Air Force. I shall not attempt to reply to the bigger arguments, because my hon. Friend the Civil Lord will do so later. It has been asked why we should not have a distribution to individuals. The Air Council carefully considered that suggestion and came to the conclusion that it was impossible to distinguish between particular commands and particular units and, not only that, it was impossible to distinguish between the men and women in the Service wherever they were and whatever they were doing.
§ Mr. de Freitas
I think that the Navy are finding it difficult enough even with their simple method of being able to take the amount of sea service. I should emphasise that the principle of distribution that we intend to follow was announced in this House on 5th May this year. Since then I have met hundreds of officers and airmen, and ex-officers and ex-airmen—from air marshals down to non-commissioned air crew—and I, like others on the Air Council, have met no disagreement. Air Chief Marshal Slessor, who was for a long time in command of Coastal Command during the war, has made no secret of his opposition to any individual distribution. There is a smaller point, but one which should be mentioned, since we bore it in mind. Frankly, there is no tradition of bounty or prize money in the Royal Air Force. The Air Council felt that for a young Service to adopt this practice at this stage was wrong. We felt it to be an anachronism.
1896 I must answer shortly the point put by three hon. Members who asked what we intended to do with this money in the wide discretion given to the Air Council. First, we shall divide it equally. Roughly £600,000 will be for the Air Force of today and a similar amount will be for former members of the Air Force. The first amount will benefit many members of the Air Force who were in the Service during the war and who are still serving. There will be grants to welfare funds, grants to the Royal Air Force Sports Board, and endowments for Cranwell and Halton. The half which we are distributing for former members, men and women, of the Royal Air Force, will be given to organisations which help men and women who served in the Air Force, their families and their dependants.
We shall make two large contributions of £200,000 each to the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund and to the Royal Air Forces Association. That is one-third of the total amount. There will be smaller grants to the British Legion, St. Dunstan's, the S.S.A.F.A., the Royal Air Force Escaping Club and various other charities. The list of organisations is not complete, and we should welcome suggestions from hon. Members as to other organisations, always bearing in mind that it is the past and present members of the Royal Air Force who should benefit and who, according to the Bill, must benefit. Organisations such as the Air Training Corps would not, therefore, be covered.
§ Mr. de Freitas
It would be almost impossible to devise a scheme whereby some of the present day members of the Royal Air Force enjoyed the amenities, and so on, which will flow from the use of this money because they were in the Service during the war, and others did not because they had not served during the war.
§ 1.2 p.m.
§ Commander Noble (Chelsea)
I think most points in the Bill have been covered, but I should like to join in what has been said by some of my hon. Friends on this side of the House. First, I think it is the custom of this House for a speaker 1897 to declare his personal interest in a Bill under discussion, and I do so for my own part because I understand that something like £18, which is my own estimate, will be due to me under this Bill. I was rather surprised at the rather lighthearted way in which the Parliamentary Secretary cast to the winds this old tradition of the Royal Navy. Many arguments have been adduced by Members on the other side in support of the view that it would be unfair to continue prize bounty. I do not think the case can be put forward on those grounds; I believe that the real reason is that it is much harder to allocate "blood money," that is, bounty, in circumstances of modern war. I do not believe in the view that because one person gets the bounty it is unfair to another who does not.
§ Commander Noble
Yes, I would support its abolition. I was about to ask the Civil Lord why the amount of prize money is so small this time? We see from the Supreme Court: Prize, etc., Deposit Account, 1939–1948, that the total is about £12 million, which means that there is £4 million for the Navy and £1¼ million for the Royal Air Force. The Financial Secretary said that one of the reasons for this was because not so many ships were captured, and that the enemy were more careful about their shipping. Is not another reason that so many countries were in the last war but were neutral in the war of 1914–18?
As for the abolition of prize money in future, as set out in Clause 8, we were warned of this by the First Lord, now the Minister of Defence, some years ago. But I cannot understand why it is necessary to reduce the Royal Prerogative. Even if prize money were allowed to continue, it would not commit future Governments to grant it. It would be legal for the Admiralty at this moment to grant bounty, but it has not been done. Why is it necessary to take away these powers from the Royal Prerogative? This is all very different from what we expect from the Government, who usually take far more powers than they need and say, "We may not use them." This is an occasion when they might adhere to that policy.
1898 As for distribution, again we had been warned that the gap—and, I think, rightly—between the top and bottom allocations would be closed. The Parliamentary Secretary said that after the First World War it was 283 to one, and now there is a drop from that to 10 to one. That is a rather big drop, and I hope we shall be told exactly how that was worked out. The closing of the range from 10 at the top to one at the bottom has caused many anomalies and unjust allocations. Several were mentioned by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Chertsey (Captain Marsden), and no doubt many more will be raised in Committee.
For instance, does the Civil Lord think that a sub-lieutenant feels that he should get half the share of a rear-admiral's allocation, when the latter might have been commanding the squadron in which the sub-lieutenant was serving? Why not make the top share 100 and the bottom share 10? If that were done, it would be much easier to break up some of the big brackets, for in one bracket able seamen, ordinary seamen and boys are included. Further, we should be able to split the brackets to allow for lieutenants who had had command of ships at sea—a most important duty and, I think, deserving of a higher grant than that given to lieutenants who did not command ships at sea. It has been brought to my notice that some officers and men feel that it would be a good thing to forward this prize money to Lord Woolton's Fighting Fund.
I would like to reinforce the plea of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Chertsey on behalf of the naval crews who manned the guns in merchant ships. They did great work, but I do not see that they are included in the Royal Proclamation. I would also mention W.R.N.S. officers, who also served at sea in merchant ships, principally, I think, in the "Queen Mary" and "Queen Elizabeth." They would come into the same category as ratings who manned guns in merchant ships. I must also refer to commodores of convoys and their staffs. I hope we shall be told why they are not included.
With reference to the six months at sea that, as had been said, keeps out, for example, those who might have been to sea during the great Dunkirk opera- 1899 tion, those who might have been killed after a few months' service at the beginning of the war, and also men like the former First Sea Lord, the late Sir Dudley Pound, who served at the Admiralty so long and well, and men like the commanders-in-chief of great commands like the Western Approaches. I realise, of course, that if we start to deal with people like that we must refer to the whole of the shore-based personnel, but I feel I must draw attention to the position.
I was glad to hear what the Parliamentary Secretary said about the time of payment, for I felt that we might have to wait for the period of one year, which is mentioned in the Bill. That would mean, of course, that the issue of medals for the last war would also be delayed until that period, for we have been told that the naval applications for medals for the last war would be sent in with the application for prize money. I expect some of my hon. and gallant Friends had the same experience as myself on Remembrance Day, last Sunday, when we found that some of our colleagues from the Army and Air Force had already received their war medals. I would hate to think that either the hon. and gallant Member for East Hull (Commander Pursey) or myself, when we were marching in the British Legion Procession next year, or indeed the year after that, would not possess the medals of the last war.
§ Commander Pursey
I must ask leave to contradict the hon. and gallant Member for Chelsea (Commander Noble). I did not march in the British Legion procession last Sunday. I marched in the procession of the Royal Naval Comrades Association, which was entirely distinct from the British Legion.
§ Commander Noble
I would not wish to question that point at all. I referred to next year. I had no idea where the hon. and gallant Member for East Hull marched this year.
§ 1.11 p.m.
§ Major Bruce (Portsmouth, North)
A number of people in Portsmouth, in whose representation I share, will be extremely interested in this Bill on prize money and I think the principle which they will see behind the Bill, if I may be pardoned for concentrating entirely 1900 on the naval aspect, is that within a comparatively short time there will be some £4 million to be distributed amongst such naval personnel, and their dependants as qualify under the period of time and various other conditions contained in the Royal Proclamation. In many cases the Bill may give them a monetary entitlement of between £5 and £6, if they are ordinary seamen, or a much higher entitlement if they occupied some of the higher ranks. Indeed, they will think that this is the main purpose of the Bill and they will be very pleased to know, as I am sure the Civil Lord will reassure them in his reply, that the money will be tax free. Of course, under present Income Tax law these rank as casual payments and are not subject to Income Tax.
They will be interested in the attitude of the Opposition towards the Bill, because even in these days, when the Opposition has no discernible policy whatever, any observation falling from the Opposition still attracts a certain fleeting interest amongst people who are interested in political matters. The Opposition's attitude towards the Bill was most admirably expressed in the words of the hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. J. P. L. Thomas), whose real argument against the Bill was that the share-out was not being arranged properly. The principal theme of the Opposition, which has been given in varying degrees, is that the share-out should be done in a different way and their attitude seems to be epitomised in the observation made by the hon. Member for Hereford about the "Bolshevist" doctrine of "fair shares for all." I regretted at the time he said it that his right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) was not present, because there is a considerable portion of the Conservative Party which is endeavouring to tell the electorate today that it does believe in fair shares for all. We were rather surprised that the hon. Member for Hereford should pour cold water on it.
No effective answer was given to the argument of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Hull, East (Commander Pursey), who said that if we increased the share which the higher ranks should receive then that increase would have to come out of the money paid to the lower ranks. As he pointed out, this is elementary mathematics. On the basis of 1901 the remarks made by the hon. and gallant Member for South Paddington (Vice-Admiral Taylor), although not, I am pleased to say, on the record of the hon. and gallant Member for Chertsey (Captain Marsden), it is obvious that hon. Members of the Opposition here this morning do believe in lowering the share, the effective amount, to which the lower ranks would be entitled under the Proclamation. I think it is interesting that hon. Members of the Opposition should go on the record in that way. The hon. Member for Hereford has certain associations, I believe, with the Young Conservative Organisation. I am quite sure that the Young Conservatives in Portsmouth with naval associations will be interested in the remarks he made today.
The other argument for the Opposition was this. They resented any provision in the Bill for doing away with the payment of prize money in the future. Yet every speech which came from the Opposition benches was an eloquent testimony of the fact that as time passed and warfare became more and more complicated, involving the integration of all the Services, then the actual payment, or the determination of the payment, of prize money became even more and more difficult. Requests have been made by hon. and gallant Gentlemen opposite for the inclusion in the Bill of commodores and a whole number of people who performed very good, valuable and dangerous service for the Navy and for the country during the war. From the Army angle I could mention those Royal Engineers who very often were afloat in the ports and who often made considerable expeditions to sea. Purely on the definitions in this Bill, they might equally be thought to have some entitlement to a share. All these claims for the admission of people who do not come within the formal purview of the Proclamation are themselves an argument for the discontinuance of the payment of this prize money should there be any future hostilities. In fact, I think that is one of the most sensible provisions of the Bill.
If it is considered by their Lordships at the Admiralty or by the Army or by the Air Council that extra inducements of a monetary character are required by those who serve in those particular Forces, they are able to bring forward to the House at any time a completely new 1902 code of pay and a new code of allowances. Many of us think that if there are to be any of these monetary adjustments in the future it would be far better if they were done by amending the existing codes.
One of the complaints which I think we may find about this Bill is that, unless we take some steps, a delay may occur between the determination of the amount and the actual payment. A number of seamen have waited quite a time for the payment of this prize money. They would be interested to know when these applications will be made or when application forms will be issued to them by the Admiralty. As soon as that happens I am quite sure these seamen will fill in the forms and send them back. I would also like a reassurance from the Civil Lord about the case of widows and dependants of serving men at sea, who may find some difficulty in completing the forms which are sent to them. I think the whole House will agree that every possible assistance should be given to the dependants of these serving men who are entitled to prize money so that they may obtain it as soon as possible. On the whole, I think this is an excellent Bill which will command very wide support not only inside the Navy but outside it, too.
§ 1.19 p.m.
§ Sir Ronald Ross (Londonderry)
I have listened to a good deal of the Debate with interest, for this Bill was obviously not an easy Bill to draft. I would say that at once. I listened to the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for North Portsmouth (Major Bruce) and I observe that he proposes to tell the people of North Portsmouth, how the Tory Party wished to diminish proportionately the amount to be paid to the lower deck. I hope at the same time he will also tell them that he wants to abolish it altogether, because I do not think it would be fair to say the one thing without the other. He is in favour of abolishing prize money and he is in favour of abolishing the prize bounty.
I think the prize bounty might well have been granted by the Government. It could have been added to the funds for distribution. These funds for distribution are remarkably small, considering the immensity and the scope of the last war. I was rather surprised at my hon. 1903 Friend the Member for Hereford (Mr. J. P. L. Thomas) when he said that the Admiralty had done well in keeping the proportion that they have between the Droits of the Crown and the rights of Admiralty, because I should have thought that in this war the Droits of the Crown—that is, in the ships captured at sea—would have formed a much larger portion of the whole amount of money than they did in the first world war. The Parliamentary Secretary himself said that in the second war was planned; the German mercantile marine was, as far as possible, conserved in Germany, or in neutral ports or other safe places. The same thing, of course, applied when Italy came into the war. On the contrary, in the first war a large amount of German tonnage was caught in British ports and became prize. However, the amount of £4,000,000 is a comparatively small amount, especially when divided amongst those who are this time to receive it.
I have been very much struck by the conflicts in the arguments used by hon. Gentlemen opposite. The hon. and gallant Member for East Hull (Commander Pursey) takes the view, as I understand it, that this money should be divided on a basis of equality of risk—not equality of service, according to the value of the service, but equality of personal risk. The hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd), on the other hand, approves the system by which the money which goes to the Air Ministry is to be divided and says that should even apply to the whole Fund.
The Air Ministry have chosen a system of using this money entirely at variance with the customs of prize money that have endured up to the present time. It was originally a personal gift, so to speak, from the Monarch to his seamen for their individual exploits. The Air Ministry are using it for the benefit of the entire Service. That means that the distribution is not confined to air crews, but must include ground crews, and so the question of the principle of equality of risk is entirely absent from the way in which the Air Ministry are dividing the money. That cuts completely across the view of the hon. and gallant Member for East Hull. No one can pretend, however useful the work of ground crews, who are essential, and who perform work 1904 of the utmost importance, that they undergo peculiar risks. So I am rather puzzled to find this complete divergence of argument between two hon. Members opposite, who do not seem to realise that they differ from one another.
§ Commander Pursey
Will the hon. Gentleman allow me, as he has referred to me personally? I was not advocating that argument at all. said that in the old days there was an argument that for equal risks there should be equal prize, but that we have not realised that yet. I finished by saying that I supported the Bill. I was only mentioning the argument which has continued about prize ever since it was originally introduced.
§ Sir R. Ross
The hon. and gallant Gentleman always increases the considerable fog that surrounds his arguments when he explains them.
§ Sir R. Ross
I thought he was particularly objecting to the award by the value of services, and would substitute for that, award by the degree of the risk run. As I have said, the gloom becomes even more profound after the hon. and gallant Gentleman's explanation.
§ Sir R. Ross
I do not think so. There are many people to whom the hon. and gallant Gentleman is very obscure. The disappearance of "blood money" obviously is a difficult question. Sailors never got very much. I remember a friend of mine who much regretted that he had not framed the 10s. that he got for taking part in the Battle of Jutland, but as he was at the time a midshipman he could not possibly have so large a portion of his liquid assets stuck on the wall as a memento. Since there is a very small amount for distribution it would be a rather graceful gesture if the Government were to add the normal amount of "blood money" or prize bounty to the amount available for distribution, because the Navy have had a very hard war, and so have the Air Force. Their casualties in men were larger in the last war even than in the war before.
I trust I am not wrong in anticipating with some confidence that the dependants 1905 of those sailors who were killed in action before they qualified by the suitable number of days' service for a share are not to be deprived of their share of this small bounty. That would be an absolute outrage. The Government are not generous to many of those who die in their service. Not only this Government. I was shocked by the treatment by the previous Government of admirals, oldish men or old men, who went back as convoy commodores, and were killed in action. The Government decided to give their widows the pensions only of commodores, rather than the pensions payable to the widows of officers of higher rank in the Navy—as many of the commodores were. In many cases the cost would have been a comparatively small amount.
§ Mr. Dugdale
I think that I had better make it clear that in fact the money will be paid only to those who have had six months' service. No one killed, invalided out, or a prisoner of war before that could be entitled to it. I think I had better make that clear.
§ Sir R. Ross
Personally, I think that is an outrage. I cannot see why a man who was willing to serve, and who served, and who met his end gallantly in the service of his country, and whose last thoughts were probably for his kith and kin—his dependants—should be so treated on a technicality, because he served, possibly, one day short of a number which the Admiralty have thought of. It is an outrage that the dependants of such a man should be deprived of their share for such a reason. It is a most curious thing in these times—the Government's lack of real interest in the fighting men——
§ Sir R. Ross
—as compared with their interest in other classes. In previous wars the Government have always shown their gratitude to those who were the designers of victory, those whose decisions saved the lives of soldiers and sailors who would otherwise have met their deaths through some mistake or through some wrong order. That gratitude was always customary. Now, the designers of victory are not given any grant by Parliament, although the designers of aeroplane engines are. It is right that such designers should have an award for their special services, but, on 1906 the other hand, we have this cutting down of awards which go to the senior ranks of the Services.
I agree that to carry out this principle must affect, pro tanto, the rates lower down. But I think that this is an extraordinary crude division. There should be a rather more definite division between the value of the services and the amount of risk run, which should be the standard or yardstick by which people's services are to be judged. I do not see how it is logically possible to refuse benefit under this Bill to any of those who fought at sea—whether it be the commodore, the signalman, those ratings who manned the guns on merchant ships, or members of the Maritime Regiment, R.A., who although nominally soldiers had very hard and difficult service at sea.
There is one point on which I am not clear, and which perhaps the Civil Lord will be able to clarify. I believe that merchant seamen, with the bonus they very properly received during dangerous periods of service, were getting considerably higher pay than, say, members of the Maritime Regiment, R.A., the signallers and those who manned the guns. If that is so it will, I think, get rid of the obvious danger which the Admiralty see. The thin ends of so many wedges are very apparent to Government Departments, and this is probably one of them. The Admiralty fear that if they gave prize money to these gallant people who served in convoys there would immediately be a tremendous wail from all the seamen's unions. But if the financial reward is worked out, I am sure it will be discovered that merchant seamen received very much more pay than those who manned the guns and were signallers—all doing very skilled work.
§ Captain Marsden
As a matter of interest to those who do not already know, merchant seamen received £10 per month danger money throughout the war while they were at sea.
§ Sir R. Ross
My hon. and gallant Friend, who was connected with that branch of the service throughout the war, speaks with very great authority, and rather reinforces what I was trying to say. We have abandoned the old system of the personal distribution of money to the men who actually captured the ships. 1907 That has gone; I think probably quite rightly. But we are having a general distribution. Now, a seaman serving in the sloop or destroyer escorting a convoy will get his share of the prize money, as will the airman of Coastal Command who flew out from his shore station to look for submarines; but the man on the ship which was the target of an attacking aircraft or submarine, the man sitting right on the bull's-eye in, say, a tanker full of high octane petrol—who was almost certainly a dead man if the ship went up, for very few men escaped in those circumstances—is to get nothing of this. Can any hon. Member justify that? Can any hon. Member show a shred of justice in a system which permits it? The same action, the same enemy, yet the man who is the object of the attack gets nothing, whereas those who were in ships definitely less vulnerable than the merchant ships are to be given their share—and very properly given their share.
I am glad that at last Nye have this Bill, and that those who deserve reward will get it. The hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees asked whether the Navy and the Air Force would have been less gallant had they thought they would not receive prize money. Of course they would not have been. But that is no reason for depriving them of a reward which has been traditional in the Service, and which has gone on throughout the ages during which the British Navy has protected this country. This Bill, which comes to us rather late in the day, needs a substantial amount of alteration, which I hope it will get.
§ 1.35 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Lipton (Brixton)
In my submission, the main argument in favour of this Bill is that as a result of its passage on to the Statute Book, Parliament will never again be asked to spend its time squabbling over how these particular rewards should be distributed to the men who take part in operations during, any future war.
A question I should like hon. Members opposite to answer is this: Do they not realise that the principle of prize money boils down to payment by results—payment on a piece-work basis? Is it possible in this day and age—for this is a very interesting relic of the past which we are now discussing—for any- 1908 one associated with the Services to argue in favour of payment by results? That is a very dangerous argument to maintain nowadays, for in doing so we might find ourselves faced with the situation where certain serving officers would be called upon at the end of their service to refund money to the Government because the results they had achieved during their service were a minus quantity. No; the time has come, and the Government are to be congratulated on taking the decision—
§ Vice-Admiral Taylor
The hon. and gallant Member says it would be dangerous to continue the practice of giving prize money. Will he explain what he means by that? How is it dangerous, provided officers do not neglect their duty in order to run after some ship they would like to take in order to increase the prize money?
§ Lieut.-Colonel Lipton
I was trying to point out that the principle of paying prize money is the same as that of payment by results, and that to have a system of payment by results in the Armed Forces would be to have something which could not possibly be defended. My hon. Friend the Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd) pointed out that for some time past we had been trying to co-ordinate the Services, to put them on more or less the same footing as regards pay and allowances, and I believe this Bill to be one of the means by which the relative values of the three Services can be put on some kind of uniform basis.
Personally, I have no regret whatsoever that this is, presumably, the last occasion upon which Parliament will be asked to decide on the allocation of prize money. None the less, in view of the money which is at the moment available I want to stake out and support a claim on behalf of certain Army personnel who are entitled to consideration. The Navy has come into it, and the Royal Air Force has come into it: the Army is also entitled to a share. Allusion has already been made to the gunners of the Royal Regiment of Artillery who served in the Maritime Regiment, R.A., during the war, and who did a very useful job of work at sea.
I hope that we may receive from my hon. Friend, in replying, an unqualified 1909 assurance that these men—of whom there cannot be very many, and whose inclusion will not depreciate to any very considerable extent, if at all, the amount available for distribution—who served on Army rates of pay and allowances, and who did not receive any danger money, or anything of that kind, will be entitled to consideration within the meaning of Clause 4 (2). I hope that they may receive some favourable and sympathetic consideration when it comes to deciding borderline cases. I want it to go on record that certain Army personnel are entitled to consideration under this Bill, on the presentation of which the Government are to be heartily congratulated.
§ 1.41 p.m.
§ Brigadier Head (Carshalton)
I am glad to be able to intervene for a few moments in this Debate, because I want to put a point which has not been generally dealt with in the speeches we have so far heard. I hope that I shall not be considered treacherous by my hon. Friends when I say that it is likely to become more and more difficult to allocate fairly the prize money throughout the Services. I think it is undisputed that the present system of allocation bears little relationship to the original purpose of this money. It goes back to the days before the Royal Navy even existed, and it was started in order to encourage the privateers who did so much to build up the spirit the Royal Navy now enjoys.
§ Brigadier Head
Not whisky, but rum. We now get a share-out of the prize money on an actuarial basis. The personal side has been lost sight of, and we are now discussing the question from the point of view of an equitable share-out. Something has already been said about the claims of the Royal Air Force, and the part played by Coastal Command in assisting the Royal Navy cannot be disputed. But I want to ask this question. What is the proportion of ships captured at sea as compared with the number of ships captured in ports? I think it will be found that an infinitely smaller number of ships were captured at sea, and if we are to be realistic in this matter, then I would ask whether it was not the Army that captured many 1910 of the ships in the ports. The amount of shipping captured in Taranto must have been immense. There were a large number of capital ships and merchant ships in Taranto, and although the Royal Navy put us ashore and the Royal Air Force flew over our heads to stop too many bombs falling on us, it would be a very prejudiced mind which would not agree that the Army played some part in the capture of that port.
If we are to have an equitable share out, the present position is quite indefensible. If there is to be a share-out for the Royal Navy and a little dollop to pay off the Royal Air Force, then all very well, but do not come to the House and pretend that this share-out is being done in a realistic or sensible manner. I agree that if we had a share-out for all it would mean something in the nature of only 5s. or 10s., which makes no sense at all. The fact of the matter is that this is a very difficult problem which arises from a survival of the traditions of the old days, and instead of the Parliamentary Secretary getting up and speaking about this marvellous idea, he should have been more humble in his approach, because this is a rotten idea and a had way of doing a difficult job. If we are not to be partial, then it is wrong not to include the Army.
Apart from the general claim on behalf of the Army, I would mention two special cases, one of which has already been referred to, and that is the claim of the Maritime Regiment. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will review their position, because here we have a comparatively badly paid unit which served in the most unpleasant jobs. I can say that from experience, and I only had eighteen hours' misery on a vessel, where the work was extremely cold and dangerous. These men had very low pay and it was not considered to be a frightfully good job. Others around them got far better pay, plus danger money. Their numbers are not large. They had a thankless job, and to give them a share now would mean a little surprise to cheer them up.
My second case concerns the reward of prize money for actual capture of a prize. I am wondering whether there is not a chance of doing something for individuals who lived up to the old-time traditions. During the war there were a 1911 few cases, and only a few, where this happened. These people would be the last to advance their claims, but they exist. They are fine types of the old days. Many of them were killed, but could we not do something for their survivors? One case in my experience—and I do not see why I should not mention the names—was that of Captain Marchphillips and Captain Appleyard. They got into a Brixham trawler and sailed to the West African Coast. They went into a port and cut out an Italian tanker. It was an enemy-held port, and they got the tanker out to sea with a crew of five. They had a rendezvous with the Navy about 15 miles out to sea, and the Navy brought the ship back to England. If they do not deserve a prize, then I do not know who else does. The fact that they were killed in subsequent operations does not affect the position.
I also know of other cases where individual officers captured prizes. These individuals cannot be very many. They did jobs which were very dangerous and required great daring, and it would be nice if they, as well as the "Boffins," could get some reward out of the fund. As I have said, there can be only a few of such cases, and most of the records could easily be got out of the files. It would be a very nice gesture, as the majority of these brave men have lost their lives, if their wives and children could receive something from these funds.
In this Bill, we still hear the plea that something should be done to reduce the privileges of admirals as compared with the ordinary sailors. This is put forward very frequently in regard to the Services as a whole, and it creeps in, not only on the question of prize money, but on questions affecting pay and allowances generally. Many Members say it is quite wrong that there should be so much disparity between the pay and the conditions of officers and the pay and conditions of the ordinary soldiers or sailors. As regards prize and pay, let me say that it is a very great strain for any serving officer taking responsibility which may result in the death of a lot of people to go through that job and do it well.
1912 I do not believe that the men for whom he is responsible would grudge him the extra allowances in the share-out of prize money and in pay. I believe that rancour, anger or envy come from somewhere very far behind base headquarters and that the people who are fighting and their leaders do not enjoy that envious "why-are-you-having-more than-me" attitude. You will find a happy attitude, and Kittle greed or envy in that area. I do not like to see the intrusion of politics into a matter of this sort, and I know that the men concerned are very much against it; nor do I think it is in any way a statement of democratic feeling throughout the country. I think that the majority of officers who led the fighting during the war not only deserve their extra award but that the extra would be approved by the majority of the men they led.
The Bill is obviously trying to compete with an allocation which is gradually becoming more difficult. Although I am not in agreement on this matter with everyone on my side of the House, I believe that an allocation in any future war will become virtually impossible. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to think again. His general introduction of the Bill gave me the impression that he was highly pleased with the Bill and with the way in which it has been designed. I ask him to give a thought to those maritime anti-aircraft people, and those few exceptionally brave individuals who went to a foreign land and cut out a prize. If he does so, he will have improved what I do not think to be a very good or a well-designed Bill.
§ 1.53 p.m.
§ Major Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)
I support very strongly what my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Carshalton (Brigadier Head) has said. I think I shall be summing up correctly the Army point of view by saying that the Army probably does not care two hoots about the Bill. I am inclined to believe that the origin of prize money was very largely to compensate the Royal Navy for the fact that they were not able to loot in days gone by. The fact that it has now become a criminal offence for the Army to loot shows that officially there has been no looting or that where there has been it has been severely 1913 punished. I should have thought that that was an argument for allowing the Army to come in on this matter.
I understand that if we brought the Army in it would considerably reduce what the members of the Royal Navy would get. In view of the smallness of the amount involved, I should hesitate to recommend that the Army as a whole should come in, in cases where it has occupied territory surrounding harbours and ports which have later been taken over by the Royal Navy. At the same time I should have thought that His Majesty's Government might very well consider whether there is not now a case arising out of the war where the Army might be allowed to consider itself entitled to some of the assets which were taken by the combined operations of the three Services.
Running through the Debate there seems to have been that underlying principle which so often comes out in arguments put forward by the Socialist Party, that we must at all costs be equalitarian about everything. I believe that the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd) was right off the point in this matter of equalitarianism, so far as prize money is concerned. It comes down to this, that either we are to decide this matter, as the hon. and gallant Member for Brixton (Lieut.-Colonel Lipton) said, as payment by results, or we are to do it as a matter of payment for the responsibility involved. I should have thought that the nearest analogy one could get to this case was provided by pensions. If we go down to the lowest rate outlined in the White Paper, we find that a boy gets one share, as does the able seaman, are we to suggest that the result of the boy's service has been exactly the same as the result of the service of the able seaman? Are we suggesting that the responsibility of the able seaman has been the same as that of the boy?
Pensions give us some indication of the answer. The boy's service in the Royal Navy, as in the Army, does not count for pension. I should have thought that that was the distinction between the boy and the able seaman. As to other ranks, I certainly would not endeavour to take one side or the other. In that matter we might very well use the pensions basis for allocating prize money. After all, pensions have varied according 1914 to rank. I should have thought that if the proportions had been worked out on the pensions basis, we should have had a far fairer and more satisfactory solution than that which is now put forward in the Bill.
The hon. and gallant Member for Brixton, on this matter of payment by results, warned us that it was very dangerous to pay by results. I imagine that he had very much in mind the nationalised industries. It is no use our getting into the mentality of the minimum wage about prize money, but it seems that that is what the hon. and gallant Member was arguing on. His argument seemed to be that because the minimum wage is necessary in industry, as he believes, it is essential to have a minimum rate running through prize money. I have never served in one of His Majesty's ships, although I have been escorted by them, and have been very grateful for it, so I shall not attempt to discriminate between services rendered and responsibility taken by individual members. I believe there is a case for saying that where there is discrimination in pension there should be discrimination in prize money.
The hon. and gallant Member for North Portsmouth (Major Bruce), who I am sorry to see is not in his place, supported, in the only part of his speech with which I agreed, the plea put forward by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for South Paddington (Vice-Admiral Taylor) that these payments should be tax free. I certainly support that plea. I would say to the hon. and gallant Member for North Portsmouth that, if he takes my hon. Friend the Member for Hereford (Mr. J. P. L. Thomas) to task on the matter of young Conservatives, he should start comparing how many young Conservatives are members of the Navy League as against young Socialists. He might find the result rather interesting.
In conclusion, I wish to draw attention to the accounts. The Supreme Court Prize Deposit Account, 1939–1948, with the number "7" on the bottom left hand corner, is an item with which I feel very dissatisfied. The figures should be broken down far more. We should know or have some idea how many ships and people are involved. It is almost unbelievable that" Proceeds of Sale and Salvage of Ships Stores" and "Expenses 1915 of Detention Recovered" should amount to barely £100,000. It is an amazingly low figure. The same is true of the "Proceeds of Sale of Cargo" amounting to just over £2 million. I should have thought that before we decided finally on this prize money whether £4 million is a fair amount, we should have been given some indication how many ships were captured, how many have been sold and how many come within the terms of the Explanatory Memorandum to the Bill, under the heading "Droits of the Crown" and under the heading "Droits of Admiralty."
I cannot quite understand the first paragraph of the Explanatory Memorandum. It says, in effect, that the Droits of the Crown and the Droits of Admiralty are included in the total figure which is surrendered by the Crown to the Exchequer, but the reservation is made whereby prize money can be paid out of both. It then says:The present proposal, however, as to any grant which may be made under the prerogative in respect of seizures during the late war, is that the Bill should not contain such provision …I am not clear what this provision is. The Memorandum refers to the Naval Prize Act, 1918, in the case of seizures made during the 1914–18 war. Perhaps the Civil Lord would explain that to us because, as I understand it, a distinction is being made between the Droits of the Crown and the Droits of Admiralty and I am not certain whether these accounts of the Supreme Court are the result of Droits of Admiralty or Droits of the Crown.
Finally, I feel strongly that every man who is entitled to prize money should have it. I support the plea made by my hon. Friend the Member for Londonderry (Sir R. Ross) that the dependants of men who were killed before they could qualify by 180 days' service should be entitled to this prize money and should have a statement of accounts showing how their share has been worked out. An unfortunate precedent has been set by His Majesty's Government over the matter of medals and other concessions in favour of the relatives of men who have been killed. I believe that no decision caused more unnecessary discontent than the one not to engrave the backs of medals with the names of those men who 1916 have been killed. In the case of my own father, who was killed in the first war, I remember that my mother received a magnificent bronze medallion of a diameter of six or seven inches, with his name engraved on it. Yet the relatives of people who were killed in this war have received no such medallion. The least that can be done to make up for some of those shortcomings, which it will not be possible to rectify now, is that the Government should pay the prize money to which these people would have been entitled had they not been killed in action. I believe that would do something to redeem the real sense of injury which many people feel at present as a result of the Government's shortcomings.
§ 2.4 p.m.
§ Colonel Crosthwaite-Eyre (New Forest and Christchurch)
It is significant that, of all the points raised from this side of the House, the only real charge made by hon. Members opposite is that we are worried about the allocation of shares between the different ranks. Nothing I have heard yet from hon. Members opposite has done anything to dispel our gloom on the many other varied questions that were raised. We have still heard no reason why it may be be thought necessary by hon. Members opposite to curtail the Royal Prerogative. One hon. Member said it would be more difficult in future for such a distribution to be made, but surely that is not a sufficient reason for saying, "Therefore, we will curtail the Royal Prerogative". Apart from anything else, I feel that unless we have a fuller and more convincing statement on that point, it must disquiet hon. Members wherever they may sit in this House, to feel that a Measure should be introduced with such far-reaching consequences and so little reason given for it.
We on this side of the House have tried to challenge, in regard to the actual contents of this Bill, several things which we think are' wrong, and I hope that, whoever winds up for the Government will try to answer them. In the first place, we are told that bounty will not be paid in the case of this war. It is difficult to argue that bounty, as such should be paid. I think there would be a natural reluctance by anybody to feel that in this age a certain sum should be paid which could more or less be called, and should 1917 be called, "blood money." I do not like that idea. On the other hand, as far as I know, we definitely started the war on the understanding by everyone who went into the Navy that naval bounty would be paid. I hope the Civil Lord will be able to give different information if he has it but, as far as I know, the first statement that this bounty would not be paid was made in December, 1945, after the end of the war, and it seems to me wrong that in 1948 we should introduce legislation which definitely curtails the terms of engagement on which people entered the Navy. What should have been done? There would have been wide support if it had been decided that naval bounty as such should no longer be paid, but that the money which normally would be paid out of naval bounty should be added to that paid in respect of naval prize money. I am certain there would have been no complaint from any part of the House if that had been done.
We were told by the Parliamentary Secretary that naval prize money and naval bounty are an anachronism. That was the only reason he gave for the abolition of prize money and bounty in introducing this Bill, but the hon. Gentleman cannot interfere with a tradition, with something that is part of the life of one of our Services, unless there is something more valid to say than that it is an anachronism. I hope the House will remember that while it may be true that prize bounty is a matter of fortune, as I think the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees said, and that, as another hon. Member said, it is a privilege, yet the Admiralty have always felt that the rates of naval pay were conditioned to a certain extent by what Members of the Navy would receive from these two funds.
§ Colonel Crosthwaite-Eyre
I assure the Civil Lord that it is so, and I am quite certain that during his own service he must have heard that said. If, therefore, the Admiralty are introducing a Bill to abolish what might be called the supplementary grants to the Navy, they should at the same time introduce some amend-mend to the pay code which would compensate members of the Navy for them. It is quite unfair to take away what has always been held to be something that justified the rates of pay in the Navy and, 1918 at the same time, not make up the rates of the Service by the same amount.
We are told in this Bill that the Navy will get £4 million and the Royal Air Force £1,250,000. I listened carefully to the Parliamentary Secretary, and to other hon. Members opposite, but I have not yet heard one word to justify how this division was arrived at. What decided the Government that the share should be roughly three to one in favour of the Navy? Where does that proportion come from? Is it based on effort, on personnel, or merely on some long-drawn out squabble between the two Departments concerned? Perhaps the Civil Lord will be able to enlighten us.
The Parliamentary Secretary then went on to say that if it proved that the Admiralty had fixed the basis of one share at too low a figure, it would be possible to have a second share-out for the purpose of giving additional value to each share. With great respect to the Parliamentary Secretary, however, I think that under his Bill that is impossible. What he has said is that any unclaimed or forfeited shares may be subject to a redistribution; but once a value has been placed on one share, on which every other multiple will be assessed, there is no power in the Bill to make a second share-out. The whole balance will have to go into naval benevolent funds.
I think, therefore, that the Parliamentary Secretary has misled the House—unwittingly, I am certain—in that statement, and he will realise the value of what I am saying when he remembers that after the first world war there were, in fact, three share-outs so that any adjustment necessary. could be made. He is, in addition, landing himself in danger on this question because, as I understood from what he said today, the share-out will commence directly the first applications are made. I am equally certain that those who advise him on that share-out will be careful to see that the money does not run out before the share-out is complete. For that reason they will pitch the value of the one share low to ensure that there will be sufficient money to go round. As a consequence, the amount of money that, in fact, will not be distributed to individuals of the Navy, but will go to benevolent funds, will be very much higher than it otherwise would have been. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will bear these points in mind.
1919 We have had no explanation from the Parliamentary Secretary, beyond a rather general statement about enemy plans during the last war, why this fund is so low. If the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees will allow me also to indulge in mathematics, I think I am right in saying that from the figures given by the Parliamentary Secretary the total fund must be in the region of £10 million.
§ Commander Pursey
I think that the hon. and gallant Member has twice referred to me as the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees. If he is debating with me, my correct designation should be "the hon. and gallant Member for East Hull."
§ Colonel Crosthwaite-Eyre
I apologise to the hon. and gallant Gentleman. He will agree that the fund totals about £10 million. I cannot understand how those figures have been arrived at. I have had a look at the account of the Supreme Court to which my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Major Legge-Bourke) referred and it seems that the balance is, roughly, £12 million. But, surely, a great deal more money must be involved. The Civil Lord will remember the case recently of a whaling ship which had been captured, I think I am right in saying, in a North German port, and assigned to the Admiralty. The figure for that vessel—a complete whaling ship with all its plant—must certainly have run into six figures. What about all the other shipping captured at Taranto and in North Germany? Does the Parliamentary Secretary really mean to tell the House that the aggregate of all that shipping came to only £12 million? I am very loath to believe that because, if it is so, it can only mean that the values given in court must be most unsatisfactory for the Government.
I understood the Parliamentary Secretary also to say that a draft Proclamation will make it necessary for anyone to have served six months at sea before he can qualify for any grant under the Bill which is now before us; that there were to be no exceptions—it was either six months or nothing. I hope the House will not allow this provision to remain in the Bill. It is almost incredible that someone who had three months' service 1920 and was in the "Jervis Bay," which sailed to certain extinction against a German pocket battleship, should not qualify for a grant of any kind, whilst someone who spent five or six years in a position where he had never had to risk his life at all should qualify.
I draw the attention of the Civil Lord to what happened after the first world war. Then a man had to serve 30 months before he could be entitled to a full share; but it was possible, at the discretion of the Admiralty, to make a grant provided he had served one month. We should be very rash to pass an omnibus Measure such as the Bill now before us, for it is bound to leave many people and dependants of those who served their country in such actions as the "Jervis Bay" without any recognition of the sacrifices their relatives made.
Let us consider again the vexed question of shares. I think that hon. Members opposite have mistaken the purpose of our objection. There has been a great deal of argument about what would happen if the range were extended, and how much less the able seaman would get. But if we double the percentage given to an admiral the amount to be given to an ordinary seaman would be reduced by, at the most, only a ½d., if that, because the numbers of admirals and ordinary seamen are so diverse that, however much is put on to the figure for an admiral—within reason, of course, for if the figure were to be made two or three thousand times as much my argument would not apply—if, within reason, we made the ladder longer, we would not affect by more than an infinitesimal amount the sum which would be paid to those at the bottom of the scale.
But what has been done? Let me take, as an example, my own corps of the Royal Marines. The proposals are that a boy, a private and a lance corporal should all receive the same amount. Does the Civil Lord really think that is right, or that a second lieutenant, R.M., should receive two quite different scales, irrespective of his service, simply because of his age? And does he think it right that there should be an increase of only from three shares for a sub-lieutenant to four shares for a captain? Does he really think that these proportions are just? They seem to me to be in the realms of neither justice nor common sense. All that has happened, if I may say so, is 1921 that the Parliamentary Secretary seems to have taken some arbitrary figure of 10 to one and then tried to fix every known service in the Navy between those two arbitrary figures.
Above all, how can the Parliamentary Secretary justify the proposal that T.124 personnel shall get three shares? Does he really mean to say that someone who has served under a T.124 agreement should have only one-third less than a captain, R.N.? I think his argument was that T.124 personnel come under naval discipline; but they never did come under the naval pay code. They took very good care to see that every privilege of civilian pay was retained for them. Now they are to be given only one-third less than a naval captain. If that is what is called equity by hon. Members opposite. I am very surprised. Let me say, in conclusion, that I was not at all surprised to see that the Civil Lord, who has great experience of the Navy, did not see fit to put his name to the Bill.
§ 2.19 p.m.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller (Daventry)
The Debate on this Bill has been interesting in many ways. I think the House will probably agree also that the Bill has met with a very mixed reception. Hon. Gentlemen opposite have said that they will support it. Some of them said they welcomed it, and did so because it abolishes prize money and prize bounty.
The somewhat inconsistent attitude of hon. Members opposite was perhaps best expressed by the hon. and gallant Member for East Hull (Commander Pursey) who in almost consecutive sentences said, "The time has passed when there should be prize money at all"—in which case, if that is his view, he should vote against the Bill-and, "I support the Bill." It is a nice Bill for hon. Members opposite, because, if they think prize money should be abolished, they support the Bill. If they think there should be prize money again this time, they support the Bill. We think there should be prize money again this time and hon. Members opposite may seek to argue that because we point out the anomalies in this Measure it shows that the distribution of prize money is now an anachronism. That really is a non sequitur. We suggest that there are very serious defects in this Measure, but they 1922 are defects which in our view, if the Government had the right spirit and the right intention, should be remedied and the existence of defects in a Bill produced by the Government does not in any way indicate that the principle of prize money is wrong.
§ Commander Pursey
There is no inconsistency in my argument. I said the time was past for prize money, but I am prepared to support this Bill because the Navy knew and had been told that they were going to get prize money. But, having paid out this prize money, I support the Government in abolishing prize money. There is no inconsistency there.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
I have no doubt that the hon. and gallant Member, by his speeches, gives great satisfaction to himself, but when he described speeches from this side of the House as arrant nonsense, I must say, having heard the whole of his speech, I thought that description of a speech came a little too early in the Debate.
The first point which arises for consideration is the question raised by my hon. and gallant Friends the Member for the Isle of Ely (Major Legge-Bourke) and the Member for New Forest and Christchurch (Colonel Crosthwaite-Eyre) as to the total amount available for distribution. It is indeed astonishing to think that after a war lasting so many years the total available for distribution should be so much less than it was after the first world war, also taking into account the decreased value of money. We ought to have more facts and figures placed before us about that amount before we go much further with this Bill. We have not been told anything about the basis for division of that amount of £5,250,000 between the Air Force and the Navy. What is the criterion that has been adopted for determining that the Navy shall have £4 million and the Air Force £1,250,000.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
I am asking it again because it might be that repetition of the question will elicit an answer. Many questions are asked on this side of the House, but rarely do we get an answer which is informative.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
I am grateful for that. Why are the Air Force to get £1,250,000? It may be right, or wrong, but what is clearly wrong is the statement of the Financial Secretary last April that distribution of prize money on this occasion is following precedents of previous wars. Whether it is right that the Air Force should get that proportion or not, is one question, but what is clearly wrong is the statement of the hon. Member, as after the previous war only those officers and crews of aircraft operating under the direction of the Admiralty as were determined by the Prize Court to have been actually present at and assisting in the taking or destroying of an armed ship of any of His Majesty's enemies could claim for prize money.
I am not complaining about it, but we must recognise that if that be right this Bill departs very considerably from precedent by including the whole of the Air Force. I recognise that it may well be impossible to distinguish between those who actually took part in operations over the sea and those responsible in the Air Force for that detection of enemy craft and, if they could be distinguished, of tracing now the individuals who took part in those operations. Recognising that, I come back to the question, is the total available for distribution divided in the right proportions? Is it on the same basis as the division with the Dominions and the total manpower, for instance, in the Air Force contrasted with the total manpower in the Navy, because, if so, it will not be the right proportion. I consider this question to be one of considerable materiality when one considers the categories that are excluded from any benefit from this Measure and the terms of the draft Proclamation.
The fundamental principle, at least since 1918, is that prize money should be awarded to those who take part in operations at sea, in the last war, including those who took part in operations above the sea in aircraft under the control of the Admiralty. The pooling of prize money was introduced in 1918, but before then it was largely a matter of good fortune and the crew of a small ship which succeeded in taking a big liner would become very wealthy. I do not think anyone challenges the decision to pool prize money, but surely one must recognise that the fundamental principle 1924 is departed from in this Bill. It was to confine the payment of prize money to people taking part in operations in connection with the sea. If that is the fundamental principle it is being departed from.
I am trying to state it as accurately and as fairly as I can, but from my researches it is departed from in two respects by this Bill. The first is partly by the inclusion of sections of the Air Force which had no connection with sea operations. This may be inevitable. What is not inevitable is the exclusion of certain categories which clearly took part, and an active part, in sea operations. I imagine that before this Bill was introduced and before this Proclamation was drafted these matters received most serious consideration. I should like to know, as we have not been told, why it is that commodores of convoys and naval ratings serving on merchant ships are not included as beneficiaries. We ought to have an explanation and I hope we shall be told that they will be included. We are told about six months service at sea. A naval rating who spends six months service at sea—I would be glad to have the attention of the Civil Lord——
§ Mr. W. Edwards
I am only speaking to my hon. Friend and saying that the hon. and learned Gentleman is asking for information which has been asked for by nearly every hon. Member on the benches opposite previously.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
I am glad that at last it is sinking in. I am asking it again because I am summing up the course of the Debate, and also in order to get an answer. I am not going to be deterred from making these important points merely by the Civil Lord saying that he has taken the point. I am glad he has and I welcome it.
I repeat that we ought to be told, and I hope we shall be told, why these naval ratings were excluded. The point I am about to put has not been made before. That is why I asked the hon. Gentleman to give me his attention. We have had a reference to six months' service at sea. There may be a naval rating whose service at sea was in a naval ship for part of the time and in a merchant ship for part of the time. As the Proclamation stands at present the 1925 service on the merchant ship will not count towards qualifying him for prize money. Ought not provision to be made for that? There may be the case of a man who has served for a few weeks on the one type of ship and then for a few weeks on the other. Ought not all his service on both to count towards this period of 180 days? Then, too, as has already been said by my hon. Friends, have not the men of the Royal Maritime Regiment at least as strong a claim as members of the Royal Air Force?
I would like to be told a little more about how this wonderful proportion of shares has been arrived at. One must remember that after the first world war a Committee was set up to consider how prize money should be divided into shares. It was stated at the time that that division was based as far as possible on a system of the relative responsibility of the various ranks and ratings concerned. I think that I have seen the same principle stated more briefly in Article 12 of the Soviet Constitution. "To each according to his work." It is clear that the relative responsibilities of the various ranks in the Royal Navy were no less in the last war than they were in the previous war. But His Majesty's Government have completely departed from the scale which was laid down at that time. There has been, a vast narrowing of the scale. It has been pointed out that no distinction is now drawn, for example, between the position of an able seaman, an ordinary seaman and a boy. There was on the previous occasion. Why is it that the Government now find it impossible to draw a distinction?
I am sure that the Government would, if they could, seek to give an able seaman a bigger share than a boy. I am sure that after the Debate that has taken place today they must recognise the apparent injustice of treating an able seaman, an ordinary seaman and a boy as being of precisely the same relative importance and value in His Majesty's Navy. That result has occurred because they have fixed the margin of the scale within which they must operate far too narrowly. That is the reason why an able seaman cannot be given more than a boy—because the range is only from 10 to one. Why was 10 fixed as the top of the scale? Was there any committee, as after the previous war, to consider the 1926 proportions? The hon. and gallant Member for East Hull said with some truth that if the share at the top was increased it would mean that something would have to come off the lowest share of all. That does not entirely state the proposition.
The Financial Secretary should have told us, and I hope that the Civil Lord will do so, by how much the share of an ordinary seaman would be diminished—there is £4 million available—by doubling, for example, the top figure, making it 20 instead of 10. I do not believe that it would mean a diminution of more than a very few pence. I do not believe that if the scale was increased to range from 20 to one it would materially affect the share which the ordinary seamen and able seamen are to get. I am not in a position to express a firm opinion on that point because I have not got the figures. It would be of great value to this House if we could have information, similar to that which was available after the previous war, as to the total percentage of the Prize Fund which will be distributed under this scale to officers and the total percentage which will be distributed to ratings. We shall then be able to form an opinion upon the matter.
I believe that to try to do justice to the relative claims of leading seamen, able seamen and ordinary seamen the Government will have to depart from their purely arbitrary determination of a scale ranging only from '10 to one.
§ Commander Pursey
The hon. and learned Member is developing a most interesting point. If the top rate were doubled from 10 to 20 all the top shares from 20 downwards would presumably be increased. Consequently, if that were done the argument that the reduction in the share of the lower ratings would be very small, obviously does not hold water.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
The hon. and gallant Member is no more in the possession of figures to form that conclusion than I am. That is the difficulty. That is why I am asking for the figures. When I speak of doubling the top figure I do not merely mean doubling the figure for an Admiral of the Fleet and leaving all the rest as they are. Proportionate changes will have to be made the whole way down. It will he giving a 1927 bigger margin within which to allocate the Fund.
I do not believe that if that was done—if the top figure was doubled and corresponding changes made—the result would be a reduction of more than perhaps a few pence, possibly a few shillings, for the ordinary seaman. The effect might even be to bring down a boy's share to 5s., but I would not regard that as being necessarily unjust; we shall have to see. That is why I am asking that, if the Civil Lord is unable to tell us today, he should publish some statement before we reach the Committee stage which will enable us to form an opinion as to the justice and equity of the present proposed scale.
I do not wish to say much more upon that aspect, except to point out that the fact that the amount now available for distribution is so much less than the amount which was available after the last war is really no justification for treating an able seaman and an ordinary seaman as being entitled to the same amount. Nor is it any justification whatever for saying that those who lost their lives or were taken prisoner before they had served for six months shall not be entitled to any share of this prize money. I was astonished when I heard the Financial Secretary make that statement. I think that it is quite wrong. I believe I am right in saying that it is a departure from the precedent established after the First World War. Again, I would point out to the hon. Gentleman that he has departed from the statement he made in April, when he said that this code was to follow the precedents of previous wars. I ask him to adhere to his words and to make sure that those people who were taken prisoner, injured or killed, come within the scope of the scheme.
The scheme for distribution after the previous war was much more carefully thought out. One did not get one's full share until one had served for a considerable period. Proportionate shares were allotted according to the term and length of service. This time it is 180 days or nothing. I hope that the Civil Lord, when he comes to reply, will indicate that some provision will be made for this particular section. I am sure that it is the wish of the House that they should be included.
1928 This brings me back once again to the point whether the distribution between the Navy and the Royal Air Force is in the right proportion. If it is, the fund for the Navy is very small. If it is not then perhaps it may be said that some part of this £1¼ million ought to be specially allocated to deal with and cover these cases which are not covered by the Proclamation, the D.E.M.S., the commodores of convoys, and members of the Royal Maritime Regiment. Until we know the basis of the division between the Air Force and the Navy we really cannot express an opinion on that point. That is one of the difficulties and I hope that information will be given to us.
We find tacked on to this Bill a provision for the abolition of the Prerogative right in relation to prize money and to prize bounty. The Financial Secretary said that it was an anachronism. That may or may not be right. It is the view held by some hon. Members on the other side of the House. What I say is that, because after this war the Government may find difficulty in the distribution of prize money, that is no argument for legislating now to abolish the Prerogative in relation to prize money in the future.
§ Mr. Dugdale
May I say that what I said was that prize money was an anachronism. It would not be for me to say whether or not the Prerogative is an anachronism. That is another matter.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
I accept the correction of the hon. Gentleman and if I misquoted him I am very sorry indeed. But this Bill, by Clause 8, does abolish the Prerogative right to grant Droits of Admiralty or Droits of the Crown, and I can see no argument for tacking that on to a Bill which is intended to provide nothing more or less than machinery for the distribution of existing prize funds. I hope that on this occasion, as on the last occasion when we had a Naval Prize Bill under discussion, we shall be able to discuss the Commitee stage of it on the Floor of the House, so that all those who are interested can take part. I hope, too, that when this Bill reaches the Statute Book it will not contain the entirely unnecessary excrescence of Clause 8 and that we shall be able to bring about changes in it which will ensure the distribution of this prize fund with justice 1929 and with equity and ensure that regard is paid to the relative responsibility of the various ranks and ratings concerned.
§ 2.44 p.m.
§ The Civil Lord of the Admiralty (Mr. Walter Edwards)
I, like the hon. and gallant Member for Chelsea (Commander Noble) have to inform the House that I have a personal interest in this Bill. If the House is kind enough to pass it into law I may, as the result of serving at sea for three years in the last war as a first class stoker, become entitled to between £5 and £6. I trust that anything I may say in support of this Bill will not have any effect on my future financial state and stability.
I was particularly interested in the way in which the Debate opened. It did seem to me that there was a little difference in this Debate from what has applied on most other occasions when naval matters have been considered. Early on in the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Hereford (Mr. J. P. L. Thomas) it struck me that, because a certain Bill is to be placed before the House next week, the Opposition has taken a somewhat political line in connection with this Bill and endeavoured to make it look as unfair and unattractive as it possibly can, and even went so far as to say that, despite the fact that the hon. and gallant Member for Chelsea and myself may get something if this Bill is passed, it may not even get a Third Reading. If we do not get a Third Reading, then all those who served in the Navy during the war, who would be entitled to something under it and also those in the Royal Air Force who contributed, will not be paid.
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Hereford very kindly told us that he would not go into the Division Lobby today. I am grateful to him for that, in view of the complaints we have received from hon. Members opposite during this Debate. He also said that it was the worst Prize Bill. I would like him to look up the Prize Bill of 1918 and see what difference there is between that Bill and this. If there is any difference it is on one or two points only, and if that makes this the worst Bill ever, then the one before it could not have been much better—and that certainly was not a Bill introduced by a Labour Government. He was wholly opposed to most 1930 of the provisions of the Bill and particularly with regard to the scale of payments. I will therefore deal with this point, as it has been the concern of most hon. Members opposite today, as well as of some of my hon. Friends.
The concern of hon. Members opposite seemed to be, in the main, that the Admiral of the Fleet should get more than ten shares and that the boy at the bottom should get less than one. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] That is the obvious inference. It has been said that the able seaman should get more than the boy, or the boy should get less than the able seaman, and if we are to have one share for the able seaman we must have a smaller share for the boy. I am quite certain that many hon. Gentlemen opposite do know of valuable services that were rendered by some of the boys who served in warships during the last war. I know of them and I know of many services rendered by boys which were of far higher value than some rendered by people who held higher positions. And now hon. Members opposite are suggesting that a boy who may get between £5 and £6—the same as myself—as a result of giving his services during the war, must sacrifice some of that £5 or £6 in order that the Admiral can go up to 20 shares, and in order that the able seaman may be able to get perhaps 1/12th of a share more, a few shillings more, to take it at its lowest.
This matter has been dealt with on a party line by hon. Members opposite, and not on the line normally associated with Admiralty discussions in this House. When it comes to the question of 20 shares for the Admiral, as the hon. and learned Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller) has just suggested, I am certain that if we had introduced 20 shares for an Admiral there would have been still the same amount of complaint from hon. Members opposite. We would probably have heard just as much complaint if we had given the Admiral 50 shares to the one for the able seaman. If the number of shares to the Admiral of the Fleet is to be increased, then the number of shares must be increased for the commodores and the captains and all the others—all out of this paltry £4 million which we have on this occasion as against £15 million last time—and we shall probably find that those at the bottom will be getting next to nothing.
§ Vice-Admiral Taylor
The hon. Gentleman is arguing that the distribution of prize money should be on the basis of the amount of money available and not on the basis of the rank and responsibility of the officers and men.
§ Mr. Edwards
It is distributed in accordance with rank and responsibility. Otherwise the boy would get the same as the Admiral. The Admiral will get ten times as much as the boy.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
Would the hon. Gentleman be good enough to publish a table showing what differences there would be if the scale started at 20 and went downwards, instead of starting at 10, so that we could judge how much in shillings and pence would be involved?
§ Mr. Edwards
Whatever it means, the more the higher officers get, the less the rest would get. I maintain that that would not be justified.
§ Sir R. Ross
The suggestion I made was that the prize bounty which the Government now propose to abolish should be added to the fund. Then the proportions could be corrected and everybody would get more.
§ Mr. Edwards
That cannot be done. Even if we were able to increase the amount from £4 million to £6 million we would not be in the same position as we were after the first world war. I emphasise that when we went into the question of prize money we found that we had about £4 million compared with between £14 million and £15 million after the first world war. I tell the House frankly that because of the difficulty of arranging to pay a reasonable sum to the lower ranks we had to consider most carefully whether we should follow the line taken by the Air Force. The most that any of the lower ranks will get is about £6. The Air Force has not adopted the same policy as the Admiralty because it would have been most difficult for them to share £1,250,000 on a reasonable basis. If we had had about £14 million it would have been a different matter.
On the question of publishing a detailed statement, I would point out that we have been pressed from all sides of the House to prepare this Bill. At the moment the Admiralty does not know the exact number of claimants. All service certificates are being called in to be checked and we 1932 hope to complete that work by the end of March next year. We will then know the approximate number of claimants and we may be able to publish some information. Obviously, we cannot do that before the Committee stage of the Bill. When that work is completed, we hope to start to pay out the money almost as quickly as the applications come in. We shall have the statements at Bath and as the applications are received, if they are in order, the money will be despatched in the same way as it was after the last war.
There has been some discussion about the abolition of prize bounty and prize money. I am a loser as a result of the policy of the Government in abolishing the prize bounty. I happened to serve on a German cargo vessel which during the war brought in 8,000 tons of grain. If prize bounty had been paid, I would have received something on that account. Some of my hon. Friends have put the case for the abolition of prize bounty and prize money, and it has been suggested that the Parliamentary Secretary did not make the position plain. Prize bounties were introduced 150 years ago. Since then the nature of warfare has changed. Now the Air Force and the Army play a joint part. In my case it was a question of chance whether one served on a ship which was fortunate enough to intercept an enemy vessel. There was no valour or gallantry on my part, any more than there was on the part of others serving on small vessels in the North Sea or anywhere like that. There is no justification for the continuation of the prize bounty system. In the past it was different because ships sailed alone miles away from port. I am sure that those connected with the Navy will agree that the Government are doing the right thing in abolishing the prize bounty.
The distribution of prize money raises serious difficulties. At the last distribution, three or four times the amount of money was available. Warfare has changed and the three Services are becoming more closely connected. In due course it will be manifestly unfair to give a special privilege to members of one Service compared with those of another merely because that has become the tradition. We must face the facts. It is far better to make the position clear now than to have men serving in a future war 1933 expecting to get prize money and then being disappointed. We are perfectly straightforward in our statement. I am sure that as the years go by everyone will agree that we have done the right thing.
Another important point concerns the period of six months at sea. Because of the small amount of money at our disposal we had to lay down careful regulations concerning the qualifications for prize money. I repeat that the sum for an able seaman is between £5 and £6. If we were to introduce other categories, with only one month's sea service, we would increase the number of claimants by over 100,000. Obviously that would reduce the amount payable to each man. After very careful consideration therefore we came to the conclusion that the best method of providing a reasonable share to the lower ranks, at the same time being fair, would be to have a limit of six months sea service. I have a great admiration for the D.E.M.S. and the Maritime Regiment, but they do not come into the category of those who served in commissioned ships. There are many others outside the categories laid down in the Bill who could be added, besides the D.E.M.S. and the Maritime Regiment.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
Presumably the hon. Gentleman knows who they are and, if so, I am entitled to ask him to state who they are.
§ Mr. Edwards
There are many civilian bodies, attached to the Navy, which carried out certain work during the war.
§ Colonel Crosthwaite-Eyre
Does the hon. Gentleman think it fair that there should be no entitlement for the relatives 1934 of someone who might have been killed in the "Jervis Bay" and who had not done six months' service, but that there should be entitlement for someone who had never had to face danger at sea?
§ Mr. Edwards
That is the difficulty about regulations. That sort of thing always occurs where there has to be a line of demarcation. If we go below the six months' service it would reduce the small amount we intend to pay out now. An important point was raised about the division of £5,250,000. In view of the fact that the Air Ministry have had no connection with prize money hitherto this was a difficult problem, but when they made a claim for participation it had to be admitted by the Admiralty that it was a just claim. The matter was settled by negotiation between the two Departments, while it is true that the Air Ministry would have liked far more than £1,250,000 the Admiralty, on their part, thought they were entitled to far more than £4 million. When the comparable achievements and responsibilities of both Services during the war were considered it was finally decided that the Admiralty and the Air Ministry should have the allocations set out in the Bill, but that they should use the amounts allocated to them in the way they thought best.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
Is the hon. Gentleman saying that the division is not based on any principle because if a principle was applied it might mean that the amount at the Navy's disposal was more than £4 million, and would not cover the cases of the D.E.M.S. and others who had not done six months' service?
§ Mr. Edwards
It would have been impossible to have applied a principle in making this division and to have had this Bill ready by today. It was expected that the whole of the prize money would go to the Admiralty but, as I have said, it was decided that the Air Ministry were entitled to a share of the money. It was absolutely impossible for the Air Ministry to provide figures to compare with the Admiralty figures. The Admiralty figures are based on the men who go to sea and men who were not in action at all are included in the 600,000 expected to make application. The position is not the same with the Air Ministry, and we feel that the Air Ministry's share is a 1935 fair reflection on the part which they played. As I have said, it is left to each Service to decide in which way they shall use the money.
Another point raised by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North Portsmouth (Major Bruce) was whether the prize money would be tax free. I am very glad to be able to inform him that the Treasury has authorised us to say that that is the case.
We have heard all sorts of threats of what is to take place in Committee on the Bill. I think I have dealt with most of the important points raised by hon. Members opposite but I can assure them that we are quite ready to receive any advice which they may like to tender in Committee. I am certain that many of my hon. Friends behind me are also prepared to give support in any part of the Bill. I trust, therefore, the House will now proceed to give the Bill a Second Reading.
§ Question put, and agreed to. Bill read a Second time.
§ Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House for Monday next.—[Mr. R. Adams.]