HC Deb 04 March 1964 vol 690 cc1280-1
6. Commander Courtney

asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty what is the estimated minimum re-engagement rate for naval ratings completing nine-year engagements which can be accepted in relation to the fleet manning programme after 1965.

Mr. Hay

Re-engagement is only one of the factors which determine the strength of the Fleet, and must be considered together with other important factors such as recruitment and wastage. I cannot therefore say that there is any special rate below which re-engagement should not fall.

Commander Courtney

Is not the present rate of re-engagement sagging rather noticeably, and does not this have a rather menacing effect on the future strength of the Navy? Observing that perhaps three-quarters of the Royal Navy is now east of Suez, is not re-engagement likely to slow down still further because of the arduous conditions of service to which the bulk of officers and men are now subjected?

Mr. Hay

As I said in the debate on Monday, one does not want to exaggerate this problem. The present rate of re-engagement in the Navy is high and we must continue to keep it high. To the best of my knowledge, there is no reason to expect that re-engagement will suffer to any great extent as a consequence of a large proportion of the Fleet being east of Suez.

Mr. Willis

Nobody would wish to exaggerate this, but in view of its undoubted importance would the hon. Gentleman state the present strength of nine-year men? The White Paper gives the figure only for twelve-year men.

Mr. Hay

I cannot give figures or percentages like that without seeing a Question on the Order Paper, for the simple reason that different re-engagement rates apply.