Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £17,888,000, he granted to Her Majesty, to defray the expense of works, buildings and repairs at home and abroad, including the cost of superintendence, purchase of sites, grants and other charges connected therewith, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1956.
§ Mr. G. R. Howard
Can my hon. Friend the Civil Lord tell us what is the average time which is spent by a man in barracks? This question was lightly touched upon by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Croydon, East (Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett) in a previous debate. I do not expect an answer now, but I should like it later. This is important when we are discussing the Navy in the nuclear age and the question of decentralisation. I wonder whether something could be done in the intervening period on the basis that men should go to the torpedo establishments where they are trained or, for instance, to the signals establishment at Haslemere, in the Meon Valley. Thereby, we should have men coming from such establishments direct. We should cut down on barracks and have some form of decentralisation and of manning which eventually would help in replanning the barracks.
§ Mr. Callaghan
This is the Civil Lord's own Vote and, therefore, he will know a great deal about it. It is largely for new works and alterations since last year. That may or may not be right. What is wrong is to replace temporary accommodation barracks by permanent accommodation on the present sites. It is madness for the Admiralty to proceed with large concentrations of men in Portsmouth, Chatham and Devonport, gathered together at the outbreak of another war.
Part of this Vote is intended for that purpose, and I say to the Civil Lord that, although he has got off very lightly this afternoon for reasons which we need not go into, unless he can report some reconsideration of this policy by next year and unless he has some statement as to 1167 how the Admiralty will deal with their calling up problems in order to avoid this concentration of men into confined areas, who are going to be extremely vulnerable, he will have a somewhat tougher time than he has had so far.
§ Question put and agreed to.
That a sum, not exceeding £17,888,000 be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the expense of works, buildings and repairs at home and abroad, including the cost of superintendence, purchase of sites, grants and other charges connected therewith, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st dav of March, 1956.