HC Deb 07 March 1962 vol 655 cc384-5
19. Mr. Willis

asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty what progress has been made in the programme of experiments in the organisation of manpower arising from the recommendations of the committee on lower deck structure.

Mr. C. Ian Orr-Ewing

The Committee on rating structure concentrated on two main aspects—the function of the seaman branch and the best arrangement for the maintenance and use of modern weapons, which are becoming increasingly numerous and complex. As a result of its report, two general principles have been accepted. One is the need to give the seaman branch duties which will be useful and interesting; the other the need to move towards a greater integration of the duties of users and maintainers.

The Fleet is still carrying out experiments to find how far it is practicable for the seaman to undertake 5ome weapon maintenance.

Mr. Willis

Am I to understand that the new branch, Weapons Mechanician, is the result of this consideration? Further, in view of the fact that the Minister of Defence is talking in terms of closer co-operation and men of the various Services will probably be working together more frequently in future and comparisons will be made, is it not time that the question of the master rate was looked at again?

Mr. Orr-Ewing

I should not like to answer the first part off the cuff. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will put a Question down for next week. The master rate is really a hardy old annual, and I do not think that it comes quite within the purview of this Question.