HC Deb 26 January 1955 vol 536 cc131-2
8. Mr. Wigg

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what action he is taking to amend and revise the Naval Discipline Act.

Mr. J. P. L. Thomas

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) on 24th February, 1954. Although the Select Committee on the Army and Air Force Acts has now completed its task, the resultant Bills have yet to be considered by both Houses.

Mr. Wigg

Is the First Lord, on this matter, saying once again that the Navy is going to go in line behind the Army and the Air Force and is content with conditions which were probably out of date 50 years ago? Is he going to do nothing at all to institute this inquiry?

Mr. Thomas

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that I said nothing of the kind. I made it quite clear in my answer to the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East that it seemed to me that we could learn usefully from what was done by the Select Committee on the Army and Air Force Acts; and there is much to be learned from the information that was given to the Committee when it was considering those Acts. Those matters are now in the hands of the House. It is in the hands of the House to decide what action should be taken. I for one am perfectly prepared to have a similar Committee go into the whole question of the Naval Discipline Act.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Would the right hon. Gentleman not agree that there is some case for considering the Naval Discipline Act as quickly as possible in view of the fact that in 1954 there were more cases of malicious damage than for many years past, which shows that there is something radically wrong with discipline in the Navy?

Mr. Thomas

There is nothing whatsoever to justify the hon. and gallant Gentleman's saying that about the Naval Discipline Act. I said before the House rose for the Christmas Recess that it is wrong to say that malicious damage has very considerably increased in 1954, because in the latter part of the year there was a steep decline in the number of incidents.