Motion made, and Question proposed,
That 151,000 Officers, Seamen and Boys and Royal Marines, who are borne on the Books of Her Majesty's Ships and at the Royal Marine Divisions, and members of the Women's Royal Naval Service and the Naval Nursing Service, be employed for the Sea Service, for the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1954.
§ 1.47 a.m.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
I have listened to practically every speech in the debate, and I am not satisfied that the Admiralty have made out the claim for 151,000 personnel. I do not believe that the case as presented to the House has recognised the fact that the character of modern war has changed. At a time when the greatest danger comes from possible destruction from the air, we are not justified in voting this 151,000 personnel. This is a waste of manpower at a time when all our men 2023 are needed either for agriculture or industry, and I fail to see that if we have a large Navy sailors on aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean can help this country when it has been devastated by atom bombs. I have listened to the speeches in this debate. Last week hon. Members opposite told us that the "Vanguard" was going to Lisbon and Madeira to show the flag and to give cocktail parties. That accusation came from the other side of the House.
I am not convinced that there is not a gigantic waste of manpower in this Vote and I am against it. The people in the Navy would be far better employed on such tasks as coast protection. I am not satisfied that there is any prospect of invasion of this country. I do not believe that the Russians intend any aggressive naval action or to invade this country. Surely the primary purpose of the Navy is to prevent this country from being invaded.
Although there is possibility of attack by air, I do not believe that the country would justify taking 151,000 men from useful occupations such as work on the land and in industry, work which could be devoted to the social betterment of the people. It is all out of proportion when it is considered in relation to Civil Defence. We are spending only £50 million on Civil Defence for the protection of our people, and at the same time we are spending over £320 million on the Navy. This does not take cognisance of the changed character of modern war, and I do not think we are justified in passing this Vote.
That 151,000 Officers, Seamen and Boys and Royal Marines, who are borne on the Books of Her Majesty's Ships and at the Royal Marine Divisions, and members of the Women's Royal Naval Service and the Naval Nursing Service, be employed for the Sea Service, for the year ending on the 1st day of March, 1954.
§ To report Resolution, and ask leave to sit again.—[Mr. Redmayne.]
§ Report to be received this day.
§ Committee to sit again this day