HC Deb 22 December 1954 vol 535 cc2738-9
12. Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty how many cases of sabotage have occurred in each of the past three years; and in how many cases the culprits have not been discovered.

Mr. J. P. L. Thomas

If by sabotage is meant acts intended to assist a foreign Power by harming the State, there is no evidence to suggest that any such incidents have occurred in the Royal Navy during the past three years. In 1952 there were 12 cases of malicious damage; in 1953, 33; and in 1954, 40. The culprit was not discovered in 12, 25 and 27 cases in each of these years respectively.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that the deplorable increase of malicious damage, which is what I mean by sabotage, Shows that morale is in a very bad way in the Navy and worse than it has been for years past? Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that further evidence of this poor morale is to be found in the disastrous fall in recruiting and the desire of certain personnel to get out of the Service as soon as possible? What is the right hon. Gentleman doing to stop the rot?

Mr. Thomas

I do not accept the hon. Gentleman's statement about morale in the Navy. I think the House would be glad to hear that over half of the cases of malicious damage during the last year took place in the first quarter of the year and the numbers are now declining very steeply. That, I hope, is due to certain steps taken by the Admiralty in the early part of the year, to increases in pay, the general service commission scheme, the sea-going local overseas allowance and the reopening of discharge by purchase.

Mr. Callaghan

Whether the First Lord accepts my hon. and gallant Friend's strictures or not, is it not the case that very responsible people, including my hon. and gallant Friend, believe that there is a decline in morale in the Royal Navy at present and that it is due to the failure to give the Navy a rôle to fulfil? Will he please direct his attention to that?

Mr. Thomas

I hope that the hon. Member read a speech which I made on that very point a fortnight ago. There will be plenty of opportunities shortly to make more speeches on the subject.

Mr. Bottomley

The right hon. Gentleman mentioned specifically the Royal Navy. May I assume that he intended to cover the Royal Dockyards, too?

Mr. Thomas


Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the subject on the Adjournment at an early date.