5. Mr. Baker White
asked The Secretary of State for War if he will institute an inquiry into the circumstances which led to the overcrowding of other ranks on the recent voyage of s.s. "Empress of Australia" to Far Eastern waters, while two-thirds of the available living space in the ship was allocated to officers, warrant officers and sergeants; and whether, in view of widespread disquiet among the parents and relatives of the other ranks concerned, he will make public the results of this inquiry.
§ The Secretary of State for War (Mr. Strachey)
Two thousand one hundred and fifty-eight officers and other ranks sailed in this ship. She has accommodation for 2,462 but this involves "hard lying" for 511 men. In fact, 227 men had "hard lying" spaces as far as Suez and 119 after Suez. Considering that the ship was on an operational voyage, I cannot agree that this constitutes overcrowding. Nor do I think that there was anything wrong in the way the sleeping accommodation was allotted. I am calling for a report on the allocation of recreational space on this ship and will write to the hon. Member.