HC Deb 18 March 1963 vol 674 cc132-53

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £75,581,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the expense of the pay, &c., of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1964.

8.25 p.m.

Mr. G. W. Reynolds (Islington, North)

We now come back to something much more pedestrian than at least the first Estimate which hon. Members discussed during the latter part of the earlier debate today. The other day we approved of Vote A, which provides for 100,000 men. We are now asked to approve of £75½ million by way of pay and allowances for 98,470 men, or about 1,500 below the maximum provision allowed in Vote A. About 440 more men men are expected to be recruited during the coming twelve months and we are asked to provide £31½ million more compared with the current financial year.

I believe that this sum includes the second phase of a pay increase for the men, about which many of us objected because we thought that the full amount now paid should have been paid to the men twelve months ago. I notice that rather more officers are included in the number with reference to marriage allowances, but the same amount of money is included in the Estimate; but there are rather more men and £12,000 less in the Estimates this year in respect of the same allowances. We have seen reports about the Army being more selective about the men enrolled and, as a matter of principle, not taking married men in the normal course. If the explanation for these figures in the Estimate is not that the Navy is doing the same, I should like to know why, with more men, the amount in respect of marriage allowance is being reduced.

During the debate on Vote A we discussed the shortage of technical ratings and petty officers of one kind and another, which appeared to lead to the mothballing of H.M.S. "Blake" and, despite what the Civil Lord said, the undermanning in all probability of H.M.S. "Tiger". I assume that the shortage of technical ratings has been looked into by the Admiralty. I wonder whether it is possible that pay is one of the reasons for this shortage, that is to say, that less pay and allowances are paid to these highly skilled men compared with the kind of money they could obtain in civil life. We know that it takes a long time to train men for these jobs and that it takes several years before a man draws the maximum pay as a qualified tradesman.

The Explanatory Memorandum states that the Navy takes only one out of three people who apply, but it is also said that recruiting is below requirement for men of the less technical branches. Apparently there are also shortages of men for the fitting out of cruisers, missile destroyers, and new frigates. It may be that the rate of pay is one of the reasons for this. If so, I hope that the Civil Lord will give us some information about it.

I notice in Item Z, "Appropriations in aid", that there is a sudden increase from £88,000 in 1962–63 to £256,000 in the coming financial year in respect of receipts which the Navy obtain for lending personnel to other Governments. This seems to be an astounding increase in one year, and I should like more information about this from the Civil Lord.

8.29 p.m.

Mr. Simon Wingfield Digby (Dorset, West)

This Vote provides us with an opportunity of ranging rather wider than subsequent Votes down for discussion. We were able in our debate last week to deal with a wide variety of topics. One matter which was not dealt with fully in the previous debate was the important question of manning the Polaris submarines.

Several points arise, and the first is connected with recruitment. How is it proposed to get the men who have the necessary skill and qualifications to perform the much more technical tasks that will be required in these Polaris submarines?

Secondly, with regard to the provision for their training, one of the things that impressed those of us who visited the American Polaris submarine was the length of training that many of those men have had. I talked to an officer who had been on a detachment for no less than two and a half years in industry. If one is thinking in those kinds of terms, and these submarines are to be ready in four years' time, it is high time that plans were made, and if the Civil Lord could give us information on this point I should be grateful.

The third point that arises is that of pay, and, although I appreciate that it may be a little premature, it is of great importance for it will have some bearing on recruiting the right type of man. In the United States Navy extra pay is awarded to those who were detached to serve in the Polaris submarines. The crews were drawing full submarine pay not only when they were actually at sea but also during their rest period. That had the effect of putting their pay ahead of that of other submariners. I hope that thought is being given to this matter and that we shall be told something about it.

One other point arises on Vote 1, B (3) relating to overseas allowances. I see that the local overseas allowance has gone up rather sharply. This is a small point, but when the Civil Lord is replying to the debate perhaps he will allude to it.

Finally, I do not know whether this is a "fast one" but in his earlier speech I think the Civil Lord said something about the proportion of the manpower in the Navy who are serving at sea. I wonder whether he is able to give us a rather more precise figure of those who are serving at sea, not including those who are attached to a ship which is refitting.

8.32 p.m.

Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)

I hope that the Civil Lord will give us some information in reply to the rather pertinent questions that have been put to him. We are all anxious to know exactly what the Polaris submarine programme will mean in four years' time when it is completed. As has been pointed out in recent criticisms of Navy expenditure by authoritative bodies, these Estimates are likely to be doubled and sometimes trebled before the ultimate bill has to be paid.

Reference has been made to the manpower position. I am interested in manpower, in connection not only with the manning of the submarines but with the building of the Polaris submarines. I foresee the possibility of a problem in the shipbuilding yards, possibly in the yards on the Clyde. Technicians and engineers will be drawn into the Polaris programme from industries which badly need all the technical skill and experience to build up the commercial navy which is so necessary to this country. At the end of four or six years we may have this powerful fleet of submarines, but we may at the same time have empty shipyards, denuded of orders for commercial vessels—

The Temporary Chairman (Dr. Horace King)

Order. We are discussing the pay of the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines, and the hon. Gentleman should get back to that subject.

Mr. Hughes

I am sorry, Dr. King. I am trying to work out in my own mind what is the Polaris manpower problem. The hon. Member for Dorset, West (Mr. Wingfield Digby) referred to it in terms of manpower in submarines, but perhaps I went too far in trying to find out what are the economic consequences of this programme. I apologise for that.

Recently, I put to the Admiralty spokesman Questions about whether this expenditure ended with the building of the submarine. Will there not have to be some vessels escorting the submarine? Will there not have to be hunter-killers chasing the submarines which will be chasing the submarines? Will there not be increased expenditure on the Navy air branch, which we are told is making wonderful progress in discovering submarines? I do not believe that these matters have been overlooked by the Admiralty, but the answer to my Question was a smokescreen—that these extra vessels are not contemplated now. I am afraid that they will become a reality as these Estimates begin to unfold.

I hope that the Labour Government will come to power before these submarines have left the drawing board stage and that the Labour Government will stop the programme, which otherwise will draw away manpower for the submarines which can be obtained only from the manpower necessary to man other kinds of shipping more necessary in the national interest. It will take many engineers and many other skilled men. How will they be trained? At present we have not even a decent elementary education system, let alone a technological basis for the skilled personnel who will be needed to man the submarines. We shall need men who are expert in electronics and expert electricians—people with great skill of all kinds. They can be found for the Polaris submarines only by being withdrawn from other necessary activities in our national life. I am also interested to know whore the submarines will be based.

The Temporary Chairman

Order. If the Minister were to answer that question he would be out of order.

Mr. Hughes

If these submarines materialise—if ever they do—they will need a base somewhere. Holy Loch may have to be—

The Temporary Chairman

Order. I must ask the hon. Member to acknowledge the rules of Parliamentary procedure and to keep to the Estimate under discussion. We are discussing the pay of Royal Navy men.

Mr. Hughes

I understood that some of the pay in these Estimates went to the designers of the Polaris submarines. The Minister shakes his head, but surely there must have been some executive advance body set up to begin the whole operation. Surely the pay of these people is incorporated in these Estimates. I have not much hope that we shall get a great deal of light thrown upon the Polaris submarine programme.

I should like more information from the Civil Lord in justification of the expenditure contained in Vote 1. There is a lot of interest in the Admiralty these days. There was a very interesting article in the Sunday Times yesterday. I understand that it is a very Conservative newspaper, but yesterday, on page 13, it published an article under the heading Focus on the massive empire of the Navy —and the cost to the taxpayer. The price of Admiralty. It was surprising to see echoed in the sedate columns of an influential Sunday newspaper some of the irreverent questions I have been asking for years. I trust that this interest in the personnel and expenditure of the Royal Navy will be maintained and that hon. Members will do their duty by persisting in their questions until we get a satisfactory answer.

A very large number of people must have read that article yesterday with some degree of disquiet. At a time when we cannot afford to pay the teachers a living wage I shall not develop that point, Dr. King—we are told of the extraordinary and unnecessary expenditure at the Admiralty. The article says: Is it really necessary to maintain a headquarters staff of 8,171 civilians and 634 Naval staff to dance attendance on only 273 mostly small ships? Are 75 admirals, vice-admirals and rear-admirals, 24 of them chairborne, justifiable top people? That is the sort of question that we have usually heard thundered out by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Commander Pursey). Here it is being asked by an influential Sunday newspaper. I believe that there is no more glaring searchlight on this venerable and ancient institution.

Mr. Reynolds

My hon. Friend says that the article mentioned 273 ships. I do not know where the Sunday Times got that figure from. As far as I know, the total is only 190 ships.

The Temporary Chairman

Order. I should be glad if the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Reynolds) would address the Chair. It is otherwise very difficult for the Official Reporters to hear.

Mr. Hughes

I am sorry that my hon. Friend did not address his remarks to you, Dr. King, for when the Front Bench addresses the back benches it should succeed in keeping within order.

My hon. Friend has put a certain point. I am not able to count all the ships in the British Navy. Probably Vassall did that without being found out until he had handed the information to the Russians. The discrepancy between the figure given in the Sunday Times and that given by my hon. Friend will doubtless be explained by the Civil Lord. The article went on to ask whether the time was not ripe for the new broom urged by Viscount Montgomery in another place last week … to sweep away the cobwebs from the Service Ministries. That, of course, is no new plea. I remember that the most vigorous criticism of the Admiralty I have ever heard in the House was a speech delivered on the Labour Government's Navy Estimates in 1948 by the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill). It was a speech which made me blush for its attack on this venerable and ancient institution. The right hon. Gentleman talked of the Admiralty as being top-heavy with bureaucrats finding jobs for themselves and their successors. We were all very impressed by that speech.

Now Viscount Montgomery is asking that a new broom should go to the Admiralty. Perhaps first we had better get a telescope to look at some of the dust. It is obvious that the Admiralty will have mare criticism in the future than it has had in the past.

As the writer of the article in the Sunday Times says: With all the changing seas of controversy, the cumbersome convoluted tradition-rooted organisation that is the Admiralty steers doggedly on. Two years ago an all-party select committee of estimates come to the main conclusion that it was too large and too complicated and that the distance that separated the two composite parts, in London and Bath, aggravated these defects. Although there has been a slight nominal reduction this year, it will go up again next year, and the explanation will be that the increase is due to the Polaris programme. No doubt if we are to have a Polaris programme—and this is probably the most expensive weapon in the armoury of competing nations at present—we can look forward to the time when the Admiralty and the Minister will have to come to this Committee and advocate more and more expenditure which the right hon. Gentleman will find it much more difficult to explain.

As the Sunday Times says: Superficially, indeed, the Admiralty set-up today is wide open to Gilbertian ridicule "—

The Temporary Chairman

Order. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will link his very interesting remarks to Vote 1.

Mr. Hughes

If you had allowed me to proceed to the very next sentence, Dr. King, you would have heard that it says: All this to look after a numerically negligible fleet, some 86,000 officers and ratings (of whom little more than half are actually afloat) 9,000 Marines and 3,000 Wrens", all in the Vote.

The Temporary Chairman

I do not like bandying words with the hon. Gentleman, but we are discussing the men and officers and not the apparatus, which the Sunday Times criticises.

Mr. Hughes

This article refers to "Gilbertian ridicule", and it is rather Gilbertian to think of the apparatus without the officers and the officers without the apparatus. I urge all hon. Members who have not read about the price of Admiralty in the Sunday Times —[HON. MEMBERS: "We have."] Then I hope that they have digested what it says and that the Minister has come prepared with an answer.

Other people are interested in the heavy burden of expenditure. The Guardian of Saturday, 16th March, said: The Admiralty is strongly criticised by the Comptroller and Auditor-General for overspending on research and development contracts. In comments on the Navy Appropriation Account published yesterday he points out that taking seven of the larger cases alone original estimates of some £20 million have risen in the current estimates"—

The Temporary Chairman

Order. I must ask the hon. Gentleman to come to the matter under discussion. We are not discussing the Navy in general. We are discussing the pay of the Royal Navy and of the Royal Marines. I must ask the hon. Gentleman to confine his remarks to Vote 1.

Mr. Hughes

We will find it very difficult to conduct a debate of this kind if we are to discuss the Admiralty and the Navy as separate institutions. Here is an important criticism in what I regard as one of our most serious newspapers— Admiralty criticised for £50 million overspending on seven projects "— and when I try to draw attention to it in this Committee, where we should be discussing this subject, I am declared out of order. I sit down as a protest.

8.50 p.m.

Commander Anthony Courtney (Harrow, East)

I wish to take up only one point raised by the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes). It concerns his anxiety about how we are to man the Polaris fleet of submarines. I agree with the hon. Gentleman, but not quite with the form in which he puts it.

My concern is that the £75½million which we are voting tonight is insufficient to meet this among many other commitments. I believe this to be so for two reasons. We simply do not have either the ships or the manpower to meet our worldwide commitments. This is due to an imbalance of our forces. A number of my hon. Friends and myself and one right hon. Gentleman opposite have put our names to a Motion calling attention to this imbalance relating to the Royal Navy and to the continental military strategy which takes such a great part of our defence Vote.

That is due, I believe, to a reversal of priorities by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence when, in his speech in the recent defence debate, he put second in his list of cornerstones the allocation of manpower and of atomic or nuclear forces to N.A.T.O., whereas he has placed third in his list of priorities the defence of British commitments throughout the world, which particularly affect the Royal Navy and its manpower. In my view, this should come second.

The second of my reasons why the £75½ million is not sufficient is that we cannot man even our existing ships. Hon. Members opposite have, quite rightly, drawn attention to the sad departure to reserve of H.M.S. "Blake" and also to the shortfall in technical personnel in H.M.S. "Tiger". As shown by the Memorandum accompanying the Navy Estimates, we have a shortfall in officers, both educationally and numerically. I should like an explanation by my hon. Friend the Civil Lord about the fact that we seem to have dropped the educational qualification to two G.C.E. passes at A level instead of the three which, I understood, obtained last year. Even at this reduced educational standard, we appear to have a shortfall of officers.

We must plan for expansion. For that reason, I am dissatisfied by the fact that in last year's Votes, it was clear that the Civil Lord had not made provision for this year concerning the "Blake" and the "Tiger", to which I have referred. I am very much afraid, in view of the obviously expanding commitments of the Royal Navy, that we may have a similar position next year. I should like a reply about this.

On Subhead Z, dealing with receipts, to which the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Reynolds) referred, I should like further explanation of the large sum —now over £l million—of receipts in respect of personnel serving with international defence organisations, which I believe to be the greater part of Subhead Z. Furthermore, perhaps the Committee could have an assurance on the future trend of receipts in respect of personnel loaned to Government Departments.

I refer particularly to the reorganisation of the Ministry of Defence. Are we in future years to see this sum increasing and, therefore, to have a greater sum available for Vote 1? Under the new arrangements, will the operational intelligence centre at the Admiralty, for example, which, I trust, will be preserved, be transferred to the Ministry of Defence and, therefore, rank for a receipt in the Navy Estimates? Will we see the operational headquarters at the Admiralty similarly transferred to the Ministry of Defence and, therefore, forming part of Subhead Z? I should like clarification of all these points. Of the three Service Departments in London, we have one operational headquarters, namely, the Admiralty. I hope that this will not be lost sight of in the reorganistion which is taking place.

I should like to make a plea that the Board of Admiralty, with its admirable delegation of authority to the Sea Lords, should be preserved in the new organisation. I should like to say a word, too, for civil servants in the Admiralty. We believe that we have a rather particular breed of civil servant in the Admiralty. As a naval officer who has worked with them, I think I can say, for other hon. Members as well as myself, that we have always found that type of civil servant to be something rather unusual in Whitehall. We hope that in the new defence reorganisation, the indentity of the Admiralty civil servant will not be lost in the new and wider organisation.

8.55 p.m.

Captain Walter Elliot (Carshalton)

I should like to ask my hon. Friend one question under Subhead B, "Educational allowances". I notice that there is quite a big increase, of perhaps 20 per cent., whereas the marriage allowance for the year before and this year remains the same. I am very glad to see this increase. From my own experience in the Navy I am quite convinced that one's expenses rise not when one gets married, or need not, hut that it is a different matter with a family, and I should very much like to see the proportion of the amount spent on education become a very much higher proportion of the amount allowed for married allowance. The sum for education has gone up this year and I hope that that will continue to be the case.

I should be interested to hear from my hon. Friend why there has been a 20 per cent. increase this year over last year, which I should like to repeat, I very much welcome.

8.56 p.m.

Mr. Brian Harrison (Maldon)

I intervene in the debate with considerable diffidence as I cannot pretend to know very much about the Navy. There is, however, one thing that I should like my hon. Friend the Civil Lord to give us some indication about on this Vote and that is just how much he expects the Polaris venture to swell the Vote.

So far as I can see, the difference between last year's Vote and this Vote is marginal and nothing that one can see under this subheading gives an indication as to what Polaris will cost. The reason I mention this is that I think that my hon. Friend will find that when he comes to finance under this Vote, this venture will leave nothing for the rest of the Navy. I think that it is an extremely ill-advised venture and one that the Navy would do well to watch so that it does not suddenly find itself left with a few atomic tubes on the bottom of the sea.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

On a point of order, Dr. King. Are these remarks, in view of your previous Ruling, in order?

The Temporary Chairman

I am sorry, but I did not hear what the hon. Member said.

Mr. Harrison

I am extremely sorry, Dr. King, if I trespass beyond the bounds of order.

I was worried very considerably about the fact that from the figures in this Vote one was unable to see how much of the money concerned would be allocated to this extremely foolish venture of equipping and manning Polaris submarines. I was referring entirely to the actual crew, and so on, as it is in this Vote, and I hope that my hon. Friend will watch this cuckoo in the nest so that it does not mean that he is unable to pay any other Service men in the Navy when he has to find crews, double crews for the status symbol.

There is another thing to which I want to refer most seriously and I think that I may find a little more sympathy from my hon. Friend the Civil Lord on this. It is the question of compensation for and recruiting of the technical and professional people. I think that it comes within this Vote.

The allowances, and so on, paid to the various officers and men are, of course, put as a total in this Vote, and it is rather difficult to see just how the sums are allocated, but it seems to me that in this Service, as in the other Services, we are running compensation or pay for these men, the specialists, in a sort of horse and buggy day way.

This is an important question, because no matter what equipment we may have in the Navy it is essential that we should have a really first-class type of technical people, for it is they who will make the Navy good or bad, effective, or inefficient. Therefore, I think that it is most important that a form of compensation on merit primarily should be paid.

I would refer my hon. Friend to a report which was brought out by the United States armed forces by Mr. Cordiner and entitled, "A modern concept of manpower management and compensation for personnel of the uniformed Services." I would strongly recommend that my hon. Friend gets his Department to study this. I appreciate that it is now five years out of date, but the principles are the same. I had the very great privilege of being taken in the Pentagon to meet some of the members of that committee and spending a whole half day with them in going through the problems which the report covers. They produced some very novel ideas, and I cannot help feeling that some of my hon. Friend's current embarrassments, and the current embarrassments of the other Service Ministries, might have been overcome if more attention had been paid to such a report as this.

There is some difficulty about the American report because of the language, but to my certain knowledge the War Office translated it. It has been translated, and I am sure that now that the three Departments are combined together it should be possible for that translation to be borrowed from the War Office.

To give just a small indication of what they did in the United States about an adequate form of compensation, a special recruiting campaign for highly proficient technical people was carried through, and the Americans found that by manning an aircraft carrier with personnel paid higher than the average personnel in the aircraft carrier, and by selecting them carefully, though the wage bill, or the salary bill, if one may so call it, was higher, because of the lack of accidents and damage to aircraft, and so on, by the complement of that ship, there was a net saving. This is the sort of thing which would well merit an investigation.

I hope that my hon. Friend will have the Admiralty study an adequate method of compensating the really key personnel who are so essential to give us the type of Navy we have come to take for granted, a really first-class Service.

9.4 p.m.

Mr. Bryant Godman Irvine (Rye)

One of the difficulties has been to find ships in which to put the men who go to sea, although I think that the situation now is better than it was and that more of both officers and men are spending more time now at sea than they have done for some time past.

I have had a look at the allowances and daily rates of extra pay set out in Appendix 1 to see whether the differentials—to use the current word—to encourage people to go to sea are as great as they have been in the past. I am sure that my hon. Friend the Civil Lord will have all the answers at his finger-tips, and without going into details perhaps he will be able to indicate that the matter is in his mind and that the situation is satisfactory.

9.6 p.m.

Mr. John Farr (Harborough)

The increase of roughly three times, from £88,000 to £256,000 in Subhead Z, "Appropriations in aid", is very large, and I should like my hon. Friend the Civil Lord to answer two questions in that connection. First, do these payments cover all the expenses involved? Secondly, can he illuminate the reasons for the increase?

I hope that in future Estimates there will be a separate Vote for the Polaris force. The attempt to include such a Force within the Votes which we are now considering only distorts the picture.

9.7 p.m.

Dr. Reginald Bennett (Gosport and Fareham)

What I want to say will not, I hope, induce the Lord to feel anything but civil, either in the matter of its length or of its content. I want to take up the observation of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Carshalton (Captain W. Elliot) in respect of education allowances under Subheads B and D. I have a lot of correspondence on this, necessarily because most of the Navy at one time or another goes through my constituency, and I have had such baffling situations arise as a man who wrote to me first from Shotley, secondly, from Culdrose, and finally, from my own constituency in respect of the terrible difficulties which those rapid moves made in the education of his children.

I hope that the Civil Lord and those who serve him will be generous in their interpretations of the rules, for nothing is more of a tangle than the attempt to get children educated when postings take place with such rapidity.

9.8 p.m.

The Civil Lord of the Admiralty (Mr. C. Ian Orr-Ewing)

The hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Reynolds) was quite right to say that the pay increase was due to the delay—giving one half last year and one half this. That is why there has been the abrupt increase.

I noticed the discrepancy in the marriage allowances and I wondered what bad happened. The answer is that the statistical experts have worked out that as we have many younger people in the Navy—and I have made it clear that the number of youths in H.M.S. "Ganges" is now reaching 3,000—the average number of married people in the Navy will go down marginally next year and instead of being 50 per cent. will be 49–8 per cent. That decrease is reflected in the figures for the marriage allowances.

The subject of H.M.S. "Blake" was raised by a number of hon. Members, including my hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, West (Mr. Wingfield Digby). Perhaps I can go rather into more detail than I had the opportunity to do last week. I warned the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) that I would take up this matter. On the Army Estimates he said that Blake "had been mothballed because we were short of just 12 electrical ratings. I do not know where he got that figure from, but I should like to put it right, for he was very much mistaken. The facts are that "Blake" would have needed a total of 85 technicians, to use the broad term—31 electrical, 11 radio, 15 weapons and 28 engine room.

Electricals are the main ones—31—but we were short of all the others, for four reasons. First, because of the Malta run-down, we had kept over 20 in these categories there when we had expected them to be available for manning new ships. We manned H.M.S. "Albion" within the 88,000 U.K. adult male ceiling.

Mr. E. G. Willis (Edinburgh, East)

H.M.S. "Albion" was expected.

Mr. Orr-Ewing

Not at that time. When we agreed in 1957 on the 88,000 U.K. adult male ceiling we did not expect to have to man H.M.S. Albion ". That added 28. I made the point that three County class destroyers were coming forward dead punctually, even rather ahead of time. We are due to man three Tribals and six Leanders in the next few months. These ships alone require 66 radio electrical ratings, 40 chief petty officer and petty officer electrical, and 46 senior skilled electrical ratings.

This threw a considerable strain on us. The shortage cannot be put right overnight. I have looked up recruiting figures in these categories since 1956–7. We were then 223 short of our target. In 1957–58 we were 211 short. Last year, 1961–62, we exceeded the target by 11. All the time we were putting up the target, and again this year we look like exceeding our target by the end of March.

We are putting this matter right. The list of remedies is so long that I hesitate to bore the Committee with it. Perhaps I could write to those hon. Members who in the past have asked what we are doing to put the matter right. I have said that it will take time, and there is a list of 26 different things we are doing, some of which are short-term and some of which are long-term, to make up the deficit.

Mr. Willis

In respect of the artificer apprentices—and quite a number of these must be artificer apprentices—I understood that the Navy was getting almost double the number of applicants for entry as were selected. Does this mean that the quality of the applicants is not measuring up to Admiralty requirements?

Mr. Orr-Ewing

As the hon. Gentleman knows, the figure overall is that we take only one out of three, so in respect of artificers, if we were taking one out of two, that would be better than average. We ask of these technicians a fairly high degree of education, and it is a reflection on our national education system that we are getting more and more people coming in. I am sure that we shall meet our needs, and we are raising the ceiling all the time. In fact we are raising it to 650 in the coming year and I am sure that this will eventually make up our requirements, but I will send the hon. Gentleman details of what is being done.

Mr. Reynolds

In the Explanatory Memorandum we are given the overall figure of about 60 per cent. for re-engagement. Can the hon. Gentleman give the Committee any indication of the re-engagement rate in this highly-skilled and highly-technical field where, presumably, there is far more competition with industry? Is re-engagement below the average? If so, are the rewards being paid by the Admiralty enough to keep people in, particularly petty officers, to enable them to have something more to go for?

Mr. Orr-Ewing

I think about 70 per cent. of this category re-engage, but given time I shall be able to check that figure.

My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Harrow, East (Commander Courtney) asked about personnel on loan. It is true that the figures under Z (1) have changed considerably. The reason is that we have increased the number of personnel we are lending to embryo or emerging navies. It has been our tradition to help these navies, and we have lent Ghana 24 officers and 20 other ranks. We get paid back for them. We have two small ships on loan to Libya at the present time and we have loaned five officers and 11 other ranks, and we are repaid. I assure the hon. Gentleman that we have only one officer, one artificer and one chief petty officer of the electrical branch on loan to Ghana, so it does not make a substantial difference.

Commander Courtney

May I ask my hon. Friend how many we have on loan to Malaya?

Mr. Orr-Ewing

I can give the figure for Malaya. It is not in quite the same category, and so this figure does not come under Subhead Z. The men are paid directly, that is to say, Malaya meets their cost directly rather than that we should pay them and be paid back. There are 19 officers and 33 other ranks. In Australia there are 25 officers and 53 other ranks and in New Zealand 14 officers and four other ranks. That is the measure of the liaison between the Commonwealth Navies and ourselves.

My hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, West asked about the manning of Polaris and I think the same point was referred to by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Harrow, East. I do not think I can go further than did my noble Friend in another place. The overall total based on five submarines should be about 2,000 officers and men. We have a committee which is looking at the whole question of manning and the hon. Gentleman is right in thinking that they will have to be manned on a two-crew system. The committee is examining this, and the question of training, and we hope that it will report in about two weeks' time. Those who visited the Polaris submarines will remember that there are 20 officers and 100 men in each so that, roughly, one can work out the figures.

Mr. Wingfield Digby

Can my hon. Friend say what committee he refers to? Is it an official committee?

Mr. Orr-Ewing

It is an internal committee.

Mr. Wingfield Digby

Is not the point that when these men leave the Service, they will be in great demand in industry, so that it should be possible to obtain good men because they will know that after their Service career their prospects in industry will be so good?

Mr. Orr-Ewing

I am not sure about their value to industry. Being specialists, I should have thought that they would be much more valuable to the Navy. I can think of many people who would be valuable to industry, but I should think that these people would be of tremendous value to us and I hope that they will stay in the Navy for a very long time.

Captain John Litchfield (Chelsea)

I am sorry, but I have not been able to follow my hon. Friend. Can he say definitely that the additional men required for the Polaris programme will be available before the arrival of the submarines, so that they will not have to be taken from other ships?

Mr. Orr-Ewing

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence has said from time to time that the Royal Navy would not suffer in its conventional rôle as a result of the extra task to be put upon it. That is as good a fundamental and sound statement as I should wish to hear.

The hon. Gentleman also asked how many men were serving at sea. There are 30,000 general service ratings at sea and 27,000 on shore. I was asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Rye (Mr. Godman Irvine) whether we encouraged people to go to sea, and we are indeed doing so. There is no pecuniary encouragement, but I doubt whether the Navy would need that, since men join to go to sea and I am glad to note how keen young men are to go to sea. We are looking at the point raised earlier by the hon. Member. whether we could use "Blake" at some later stage as a training ship, so that youngsters could go to sea earlier and their keenness could be harnessed earlier and they would not be allowed to go to a shore station and forget some of their training.

The hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) referred to an article in the Sunday Times. This point relates to the provisions of Vote 3, the headquarters Vote. Not one of the people under Vote 1 is concerned with the Polaris submarine programme. We have an embryo staff at headquarters which would come under the provisions of Vote 3.

Mr. Willis

What about the people coming from America?

Mr. Orr-Ewing

They come under Vote 3; they are on loan from headquarters.

I have armed myself with a few figures, because I knew that the hardy annual would come up again. He did not let me down in any way. It was raised again. Although it will never be reported, I think that for the sake of the Committee I might just repeat it. In 1935 there was a total of 88 admirals with a Vote A of 91,567. We had considerably more admirals then for a smaller Vote A than we have now for a larger Vote A. Today the total number of admirals, including medical and dental ones and those on terminal leave, is 77 against a Vote A of 98,000. I remind hon. Members opposite, who no doubt had their own anxieties when they were responsible, that in 1952 there were 109 admirals with a Vote A of about 148.000. Pro rata we are doing slightly better than they were. As I have said before, we are now reaching the end of our rundown. We probably shall not be cutting the flag officer list very much more, particularly as we have taken on the Polaris commitment.

My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Harrow, East touched on the educational standards. I think that he is misinformed here, though he very seldom is. We required two "A" levels last year and two "A" levels this year for our officer entry.

Commander Courtney

Was it not three "A" levels at one period?

Mr. Orr-Ewing

No, it has never been three "A" levels. It is two "A" levels. I said that something like 67 of our cadets had got three "A" levels, but we were not calling for that standard. My hon. and gallant Friend also touched on the strength of our ships. We have 70 on the Far East station. In addition, there are the New Zealand and Australian ships—some 30—to add to that. I realise that I am including in that figure 20 minesweepers. They can perform very useful functions in the cold war, as we saw on the pirate business recently, and even at Brunei.

I have dealt with the question of loan personnel. My hon. and gallant Friend raised the question of defence reorganisation. How glad I am to collect ideas. I am not sure that it is very easy in a rather restricted debate of this sort, but the whole idea is that we should, during the defence debates, collect ideas from all sides. I am not sure that I could quite agree with my hon. and gallant Friend about the intelligence remaining under the three separate organisations. This is a matter for discussion. I think that there is a lot of advantage in amalgamating the three intelligence divisions.

Commander Courtney

I think that my hon. Friend misunderstood me. I was referring to the operational intelligence centre which is a submarine attacking organisation, as I think my hon. Friend knows, and is a purely naval intelligence organisation. I was asking that it should retain its identity within the Admiralty.

Mr. On-Ewing

I apologise. I misunderstood my hon. and gallant Friend. I thought that he said just the intelligence staff. This is a matter at which we will look most carefully. It may be that all the operational plotting will be undertaken at the Ministry of Defence which already has an operational plot.

I come to the point raised by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Carshalton (Captain W. Elliot). He dealt with educational allowances. The explanation is that the allowances have been increased by 25 per cent. We have not sold the idea to the lower deck that, if they are being moved around, their sons could benefit by going to boarding school. I am glad to say that we have very large numbers of sons of ratings at the Royal Hospital School at Holbrook.

It still seems that there is a sharp demarcation line in this matter. My hon. and gallant Friend will notice that in these Estimates the officer education allowance is very high, but it is still very low for ratings. However, it must be remembered in connection with the allowances for officers that one-third of all our officers are ex-lower deck, 10 per cent. being upper yard men and 20 per cent. being S.D. officers.

Mr. Reynolds

I agree with the remarks the Civil Lord has just made about the amount being paid for ratings. Can he give us any idea of what is being done to inform lower deck men of the advantages which are available and to persuade them to use them?

Mr. On-Ewing

This is best done through their divisional officers. We have not got any special organisation for it, although they are at liberty to discuss the problems. It is not so much convincing the ratings: it is convincing their wives and families which is so necessary. So it is difficult to sell this idea.

I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Gosport and Fareham (Dr. Bennett) who said that the disorganisation in a child's education as a result of moving about a lot was considerable. I would remind him that that was one reason why, about five years ago, we lowered the age for educational allowances from 11 to 9. It was thought that that would help particularly the bright child to negotiate the 11-plus obstacle. However, I cannot agree with his views about Polaris. He said that he was not at home on the sea, but I certainly know that he is extremely at home on the tideway.

Dr. Bennett

Might I inform my hon. Friend that he is not referring to the same hon. Member? The remarks about education were made by me but the comments on Polaris were made by my hon. Friend the Member for Maldon (Mr. B. Harrison).

Mr. Orr-Ewing

I apologise. I was, of course, referring to my hon. Friend the Member for Maldon (Mr. B. Harrison). I would remind him that between 1 and 2 per cent. of the total Navy Vote will be spent on Polaris in the coming year.

A number of hon. Members have raised the question of the pay of technicians. The very fact that we are now more than meeting our targets shows that people are coming to appreciate that the technical training in the Navy is absolutely first class; not only that they get a good career in the Navy but that, should they wish, they can obtain good jobs outside. That is why we are getting the people we want. The advantage of the Grigg Review every two years is that we are constantly relating the attractions of industrial life and pay to the attractions of a Service career. We are, therefore, adjusting Service pay, rewards and allowances so that a person can feel that he is doing something worth while and is being comparably paid with his opposite number in industry.

Although I will study the point raised concerning the Cordiner Report, it must be remembered that we have concentrated on long-term personnel while the United States have concentrated on short-service personnel; an intense period of training with only three or four years of service followed by a bounty. It is a totally different philosphy and they sometimes feel a little jealous of the loyalty we get from our long-service men.

My hon. Friend the Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr) referred to the Z (1). I dealt with the question of Ghana and Libya. I must inform my hon. Friend that the question of a separate Vote for Polaris is really a matter for my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence. I have tried to deal with the points that have been raised and I hope that the Committee will now agree to pass the Vote.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That a sum, not exceeding £75,581,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the expense of the pay etc., of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1964.