HC Deb 15 March 1967 vol 743 cc571-86

Motion made, and Question proposed. That a sum, not exceeding £97,465,000, be granted to Her Majesty out of the Consolidated Fund, to defray the expense of the pay, &c. of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, which will conic in course of payment during the year ending on 31st March, 1968.

7.0 p.m.

Dame Joan Vickers (Plymouth, Devonport)

I want to take up one or two points that I have not been able to refer to before, particularly the case of the separation allowances. The new separation allowance, to be paid from 1st April, 1966, is to be paid to married officers and ratings serving abroad or on seagoing service or on service in certain conditions which means that they are unaccompanied by their families.

I hope that the Under-Secretary of State will tell us what these "certain conditions" are and why this separation allowance is given to the men. It is much cheaper for a man to live alone overseas. He goes to a mess and it seems unfair that because he is married he gets the extra money while the unmarried man messing with him does not. Also, unmarried men also get lodging allowances when on land.

If there is need for separation allowance, it should surely be paid to the wives and families left behind. A wife left behind in these circumstances faces extra expenses. There is no man about the house to help with various things about the house. It is the woman who has to pay for the babysitter or the domestic help and she is thereby penalised when her husband is away. It is she who should get the extra money by way of separation allowance.

I would be grateful if the hon. Gentleman would explain this. This is the first time we have really been able to raise the subject. The hon. Gentleman should consider whether this provision should not be paid direct to the wife who, as I say, is the one who suffers most from separation. She has to incur the extra expense. Admittedly, when I was overseas, men told me that it paid them to be separated because they got this extra money, which works out after one year's service at 28s. a week. That would certainly be helpful for their wives, however.

Another point is that of the disturbance allowance. Here there is provision for disturbance allowance for officers of £40 and for ratings £25 when they move into furnished married quarters or official hirings. I do not know why there is this differentiation. Surely they incur equal expenses. If a rating has to move bag and baggage, one cannot say that he can do so at a cheaper rate and surely in these circumstances he should have an equal allowance for moving to furnished married quarters or an official house.

Possibly, if the move is to private accommodation—when an officer gets £80 and a rating £50—this might conceivably be just because, presumably, the officer might have to take more furniture and so on. Nevertheless, the difference of £30 is very great. From my own experience involving people moving from Portsmouth to Devonport, however, I know that they are put to considerable expense in moving their furniture and very often ratings have far more need to bring their bag and baggage, perhaps including perambulators for the smaller children.

I would be grateful if the hon. Gentleman would go into these two points and consider the allowances involved, perhaps giving wives better treatment. It does seem unfair that, as the separation bears more hardly on wives and families than on the husbands, the extra payment for being separated should go to the husband.

7.7 p.m.

Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)

I want to address questions to my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State about the Polaris submarine base at Gare Loch. Hon. Members will be aware that I have been asking a series of Questions about this matter over a period of months. The subject has aroused considerable interest in the West of Scotland where, at present, there is a shortage of construction labour and delay in the building of essential schools, hospitals, advance factories and so on. At the same time, however, there has been intensive activity on the submarine base.

I understand that the sum involved in the base is about £45 million, which is a very considerable amount, especially at a time when we need construction labour somewhere else. Many of us are anxious to know when the activity on this base is likely to be completed so that the construction and building labour can be transferred elsewhere. Last week, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport announced a new terminal at Greenock.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Sydney Irving)

Order. The hon. Gentleman is going wide of the Vote. He cannot discuss matters other than the pay of the forces involved in this vote.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

If you will allow me to carry on for a few sentences, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I will show that this is directly related to the Vote.

My argument is that, while this construction and building labour is engaged on the submarine base, it cannot be used in any other part of western Scotland. I do not want this labour to be engaged on work that is given priority over more essential work.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I think that the hon. Gentleman is talking about labour employed in the construction of the base. All he can talk about are the personnel involved whose pay comes under this Vote.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

There is a considerable naval personnel employed at the base. Obviously, the construction at the base is covered by this Vote. I know what I am talking about, because I have been there. My hon. Friend the Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. W. Baxter) and I spent some time at the base recently and we want some assurances about it.

At the base, there is a submarine school. It is a very expensive school because, as far as I can make out from the Navy Votes, the cost £7½ is million and a Ministry of Public Building and Works Vote is also involved. One must add these two sums together to find out the exact amount of money being spent at the base.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. It is certain that that amount of money is not on this Vote. The hon. Gentleman must keep to this Vote.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Surely this Vote is for employing the men, and I submit that what I have said is relevant to it.

However, I shall leave that and come to the question of exactly how many officers and men of the Royal Navy are to be employed in this base, and for what purpose.

Presumably, they will he trained at this school. I have tried in vain to extract from the Ministry of Defence exactly what will be the cost of training these officers and men. It is an enormously expensive school. When I asked how many instructors were to be there I failed to get any answer at all. I would, therefore, like to know a little more about the activities of this school.

I come now to consider the purpose of the Polaris submarines. We are voting money for men who will be employed on these submarines. I understand that each submarine will cost £50 million, and that the cost of the crew is likely to be considerable. What will be the cost of running a Polaris submarine, and for exactly what purpose are these men to be trained?

I understand that they are to be trained to man a submarine which will carry a guided weapon missile which, at the time it was ordered, was supposed to be a useful deterrent missile and one which would be able to penetrate the defences of a potential enemy. That was some years ago. I have here an article by the military correspondent of The Times of 8th August, 1967. It deals with the new submarines, and points out that only by spending a considerable further amount of public money will these missile submarines be brought up to the standard of the submarines which are now being built by the American Navy.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Member is getting a little wide of the personnel involved in this Vote. He is now talking about wider considerations of defence, of total expenditure, and the whole aspect of the Polaris submarine He cannot do that on this Vote.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

I presume that we are employing these men, and we have an idea of what they are to do. What I would like is an assurance from the Minister that we are not going to employ a further number of men and incur additional expenditure at this Polaris base. I asked my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence whether he would give me an assurance that there would no further expenditure on the Polaris submarines other than that already announced, and the answer which I received was "No".

I find this answer very strange, because we thought that the number of men who were likely to be employed had been fixed by the fact that there were to be four Polaris submarines. I therefore look with a certain amount of apprehension at what is going on at Gareloch. I believe that we are to employ officers and men to do something which the Minister has not properly explained. I therefore say that we should not agree to pass this Vote for the number of men who, presumably, are to be employed on submarine warfare until we have a clear idea of what they are to do.

Under whose direction will these submarines operate? During the defence debate an Opposition spokesman said that they were to be an independent force, but that is not what they are to be. According to The Times of 8th March—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I think that the hon. Member knows very well that, important as the subject he is discussing is, it is not in order on this Vote. I must ask him to confine himself to the question of personnel, and not to go into wider considerations of defence policy, which he is doing now. I am sorry, but I really must insist.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

If we are not to be told what the personnel are to do, this debate is meaningless. I therefore suggest that when we are voting money for a considerable number of men we are entitled to know what they are likely to be doing. The defence correspondent of The Times said—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Member has had other opportunities to raise this matter. This is a very narrow debate, on a very narrow Vote, and the hon. Member really is taking the debate far too wide. I really must insist that he does not pursue this any further.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

That restricts the discussion on the whole policy of the Polaris submarines, but, of course, I obey your Ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

It does, nevertheless, create a curious state of affairs, in that although we are discussing naval policy we cannot discuss the Polaris submarines and what they are to do.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The Chair only operates the rules which the House has laid down. It has been the practice not to allow debates other than on the subheads of the Vote on these occasions, on the understanding that the policy has been laid down on other occasions, and discussed during other debates.

Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)

On a point of order. I am not a Member for any part of Scotland, and I have no particular interest in the Scottish aspect of this matter, but I gather that the Vote is intended to cover the building of a nuclear submarine. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] If I have got it wrong, no doubt the Chair will correct me. But if that is even remotely so, it can surely not be out of order to point out that there are doubts about the effectiveness of what the money is being spent for to carry out the object which the Government intend to carry out.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I understand the hon. Member's anxiety, but the precedents are quite clear on page 762 of Erskine May under the heading, "Relevancy in debate" relating to Defence Estimates. On the Vote which we are discussing today, while hon. Members may discuss the details of the subheads, what we cannot do is to have a general defence debate, or a general foreign affairs debate. While the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) was attempting to use this occasion to discuss wider issues, he was really getting out of order, and I regret that I had to stop him.

Mr. Silverman

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I follow that it would be completely out of order to extend the debate into questions of foreign policy, or even of defence policy, but I did not understand that my hon. Friend was attempting to do that. All he was questioning was the practical usefulness of the particular expenditure under the Vote. Surely the House of Commons must reach a conclusion about that before deciding whether to afford the money or not.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The precedents are quite clear. Only the matters within the subheads can be discussed on this occasion.

Mr. Archie Manuel (Central Ayrshire)

On a point of order. May I have your guidance, Mr. Deputy Speaker? I understand that the effective Vote covers the officers and men employed in the Polaris submarines coming into service at the Gareloch. I understood my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) to be dealing with that, in rather a lengthy way, perhaps, and going rather to the perimeter, but being principally concerned as to how much of the effective Vote would be set against the extra men who would be employed on those submarines. If that were so, would it not be enough?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The only subject which is in order in this debate is discussion of the matters within the subhead, namely, the pay of naval personnel. So long as the hon. Member restricts himself to a discussion about pay, he is in order. What he was doing, however, was using this occasion to bring in wider considerations of defence policy regarding the Polaris base and the use of the Polaris submarine. That was out of order.

7.21 p.m.

Rear-Admiral Morgan Giles (Winchester)

I have two questions to put on this Vote, both arising from a previous debate on the Navy Estimates.

First, on the subject of housing loans for officers, there has as yet been no satisfactory reply to the questions which I raised on 1st March. The Undersecretary of State said … we will consider it".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st March, 1967; Vol. 742, c. 664.] Has he done so, and has he an answer to give?

Next, the question of overseas allowances. On 1st March I asked the Undersecretary of State about our retention of facilities in Malta, and he promised to write to me about it. Now, nearly a fortnight later, I have had no communication. I should be glad if he would answer that, too.

7.22 p.m.

Mr. Christopher Mayhew (Woolwich, East)

I should like to know about the principles on which Service pay generally, and Navy pay in particular, is to be based in future. We all recall the critical situation at the beginning of last year when the Services pay claim was referred to the Prices and Incomes Board. I felt at the time that this was a wrong procedure in the circumstances. The Services were then governed by the Grigg recommendations, and Service men, in their special contractual relationship with the Government in this matter, had fallen very much behind. It was decided to send the Services pay claim to the board and, fortunately, the board made a recommendation to the effect that the Grigg principles were to apply. That is what came out of the wash.

It was decided also that new principles would be worked out for Services pay and that these would be discussed at length with, I think, the Treasury. What stage have the negotiations reached? The House should be particularly sensitive on the question of Services pay, bearing in mind that Servicemen have no trade union, they cannot strike, and they are very much at the mercy of the Government and Parliament. We must be quite sure that the principles applied in determining Services pay in the future are acceptable to the House.

7.23 p.m.

Mr. George Willis (Edinburgh, East)

Will my hon. Friend say something about the skilled men in the Navy and whether sufficient are being obtained to do the additional work which, undoubtedly, will be imposed upon the engineering and artificer branches and other skilled branches as the result of the Polaris programme?

It is a long time since I made a speech on the Navy, but I used to make quite a few, and one of the matters which concerned me was that the Navy was desperately short of skilled men. In fact it could not man its ships adequately. At one time many ships were undermanned because of the shortage, and it was clear that the Polaris programme, which demanded two crews, practically all skilled men, would impose a still greater burden.

What progress has been made in the recruitment of these men? I find it difficult to understand, from a reading of the Defence White Paper, exactly what is happening. For example, in paragraph 29 on page 70, dealing with re-engagement in the Royal Navy, we are told: We believe that the re-engagement bounties paid to skilled men in certain shortage categories and an assisted house purchase scheme have contributed to this improvement. When I looked for the improvement, I found that all that had happened regarding 12-year engagements was that the rate of re-engagement had remained stable. In other words, it had stopped falling. That might be an improvement—it depends on how one looks at it—but, if the number was inadequate before, I hardly think it an improvement if it stops at that level.

This is a matter about which we ought to be concerned. I raise it now because a great deal of thought has been given to it over past years, and many suggestions have been made as to what might be done. I notice that the artificer branch itself is still putting forward constructive ideas to the Admiralty about it. I hope that my hon. Friend will pay attention to the current issue of the Naval Engineering Review, which discusses this matter. It makes a number of proposals regarding the structure of the engineering and technical branches, some of which no doubt, will frighten the Admiralty, but which, nevertheless, make a good deal of sense.

Suggestions are made in the Review about pensions and re-engagements, and it is suggested that if, as the Defence White Paper says, the policy of giving re-engagement bounties has been useful, we should consider it further and think of the possibility of paying more than £750 to the 12-year re-engagement man. If he leaves, it costs anything between £5,000 and £10,000 to train someone to take his place. It would not be a bad idea, therefore, to reconsider this figure and look at the possibility of saving money in the long run by increasing the amount we pay to induce men to stay on for the longer period.

It is suggested, also, that men might be given the opportunity to re-engage for five years instead of for 12, without necessarily receiving a pension at the end of the five years. They would simply be given the opportunity to stay on for another five years, by which time they would still be only 35, an age at which a man can come out and fit himself into civilian life. This idea, too, is well worth looking at.

The Review suggests that the re-engagement grant should be divided into a sum to be paid when the re-enagement papers are signed and another sum to be paid at the conclusion of the man's service. This, too, might be a good idea. All these are useful suggestions.

The Admiralty—we still call it the Admiralty, do we not, althought it was once the idea that we should call it the Navy Department, and we had a long debate about it—the Admiralty ought once again to look at the question of structure. In past years it often looked at the idea of creating a master rating. That was turned down and the proposition is now put forward that there should be a special Navy engineering branch, that the artificers' and mechanicians' branches should be re-examined with a view to creating an engineering branch with a better quality of more highly skilled technical men, able to perform the more skilful work, so that artificiers do not waste a lot of their time doing work which could be done by less skilled men. Perhaps there could be an increase in the numbers in other branches, such as the mechanicians' branch, by recruiting men already in the Service to undertake the less skilful work, leaving the most skilful work to the artificers.

I remember long discussions many years ago on how best to get men to do the very skilful work. Let us make no bones about it now. The chief artificers in all branches must perform increasingly highly technical work and must have a knowledge and skill to enable them to analyse defects, and matters of that kind, if they are to be employed economically.

I therefore ask my hon. Friend to give us some information on how recruitment is going, whether we are still short of skilled men and shall be able to meet all the demands that will be made for them, and whether he will consider in a constructive manner the propositions now being put forward to enable the Service to meet its requirements.

7.32 p.m.

Mr. Patrick Wall (Haltemprice)

I had not intended to speak on this Vote, but the speech of the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) has persuaded me to intervene briefly.

When we concluded the debate on Vote A the other day the Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Royal Navy got rather cross, and to rebut some of my criticisms quoted re-engagement figures which I did not fully absorb at the time. I have now had a chance to do so. For the 12-year men, the backbone of the Royal Navy, the re-engagement rate in 1959 was 65 per cent.; in 1963 it was 54 per cent.; in 1965 it was 52 per cent.; and the Under-Secretary of State said in winding up that debate that it was now 45 per cent. On the point made by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East, is he really satisfied with those figures, and does he think that they denote that all is well on the question of re-engagement in the Royal Navy?

7.33 p.m.

Mr. Tom Driberg (Barking)

I agree with much that my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) said, but I wish to make one point in slight modification of it. He may well be right in saying that the Navy is short of skilled men, and I agree that everything must be done to attract and keep in the Navy the skilled men of whom he spoke.

But, however important it is, the technical efficiency of the Navy should not have an absolutely overriding force over every other consideration. There are very difficult cases, such as applications for compassionate discharge and so on, which are often turned down on the ground that a skilled man cannot be spared. It seems to me to be very unfair, and not good for morale in the Navy, if there are two ratings with equally strong compassionate claims but one of them is skilled and one unskilled, and the unskilled man nets his compassionate discharge while the other does not.

There must be a balance—and I am sure that the Navy tries to achieve such a balance—between pure considerations of technical efficiency and the claims of compassion, the ordinary human claims, the claims of justice to the individual as well as the technical claims of the Navy.

7.35 p.m.

Mr. Eric Ogden (Liverpool, West Derby)

I wish to make one very brief point, and I assure the House that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Royal Navy does not know what I want to raise. I also assure him that I do not expect him to answer, because although it is directed to him through the Chair it will ricochet off to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence.

We have talked a lot about pay, and pay is closely linked with status. Status has an important rôle to play in the Royal Navy, with such titles as "Board of Admiralty", "Lord High Admiral" and all the others. The man with particular responsibility has one of the longest titles in the Government—Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Royal Navy. How can he possibly hold equal conversations with his Service officers with a title like that? His title could well be, "Minister for the Royal Navy", which is simple, short, sweet and very effective.

7.36 p.m.

The Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Royal Navy (Mr. Maurice Foley)

In starting this debate, the hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dame Joan Vickers) touched on two very human matters. I know of her concern in such matters and would expect that they would be the kind of subjects she would raise. The hon. Lady raised the question of the separation allowance which is shown in Vote 1 (B) and (D), and the disturbance allowance. The separation allowance, which is 4s. a day, was introduced on 1st April, 1966. It is payable to married personnel who have been separated from their families for at least 12 months because of service outside the United Kingdom.

It is also payable to naval personnel appointed to certain seagoing ships on home sea service and serving home legs of general service commissions. Because the incidence of separation increases with service, particularly in the Navy, a Serviceman who has completed nine years' service and has been separated for three years qualifies for an allowance of 8s. a day. That accounts for a cost in the 1967–68 Estimates of £116,000 for officers and £761,000 for ratings.

The hon. Lady suggested that the payment should be made direct to the wives. That would be against our normal practice and would introduce a new principle which I am not sure that the husbands would welcome. Nevertheless, I shall look into the matter and write to her on it.

Similarly, she referred to the hardship that can face families under disturbance allowance. I am not quite sure that I got her point. She seemed to say that the ratings' allowance was less than that for officers, that the ratings often had a young family and that therefore there was hardship. I was not aware of it, but I shall look into it. The allowances are reviewed from time to time, and if one can establish need that is how change is effected.

The hon. and gallant Member for Winchester (Rear-Admiral Morgan Giles) raised the question of assisted house purchase in the debate on the Navy Estimates and has again touched on the subject today. This scheme, under which ratings are given an advance to help them buy their own houses, was introduced to encourage men to stay on in the Navy after their first period of engagement had been completed. It was a device to give security and encourage re-engagement. That was made clear when we discussed the Navy Estimates and to the Fleet when the scheme was introduced. It has proved very popular.

It seems that the other two Services are anxious to follow the Navy's lead. I emphasise that the purpose of the scheme was to encourage long-serving men to re-sign and to give them a sense of security for the future. Not all ratings are eligible or qualified. They must have signed on to complete a total of 22 years' reckonable service.

The scheme is popular and has been undoubtedly valuable in influencing ratings to re-engage. That was the original purpose of the scheme. Officers are differently situated since the question of their re-engagement does not arise. Help over house purchase in their case is being considered. No decision has been reached, but I recognise the validity of the point made and it will be followed up.

The hon. and gallant Member also raised the question of Malta and the use of Malta. I confess that in our last debate my answer was totally unsatisfactory. That was because it was made at a time when delicate negotiations were going on. It would have been wrong to hint or promise, or indeed to introduce a new factor to those negotiations. Now that the negotiations have been settled, the opportunity arises to look at the question again. I promise that this will be done with expedition.

My hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew), who not so very long ago was at this Dispatch Box dealing so adequately with this whole subject, has raised the question of Service pay. He will be aware that this affects all three Services and also that under the Grigg formula any increase in pay would not be effective until 1st April, 1968. That gives us some measure of time and discussions are still going on with the Treasury. There is no firm decision, but there is no question of lethargy on our part. We are anxious to make sure that the Navy, in terms of Service pay for ratings and officers, is put right, and that they feel—this is a real contribution to their morale—that they are supported by the nation in their work.

My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis), who was speaking so eloquently on this subject long before I came into the House, and speaking with a great deal of knowledge and feeling, touched upon a number of points which are of prime importance. I will look at the question about manpower, which was also raised by the hon. Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall). In no measure can we be complacent or satisfied about this. If hon. Members look again at the figures which were given when introducing the debate on the Navy Estimates and in the rather scrambled wind-up, they will see that there are shortages. There are shortages of skilled technicians and undoubtedly these are key men on which the Navy depends. We must look again and again to see how we can keep, encourage and produce the kind of person required in terms of the manning of modern sophisticated ships and their weapons systems.

I will look at any suggestions advanced. My hon. Friend suggested a publication and I will look at that suggestion. We are anxious all the time in this respect. To help in this we introduced the re-engagement grant scheme in 1965. It was introduced for a two-year period to relieve the shortage of design and technical ratings. Grants are made for those to reengage for nine or 12 years and for 22 years. The scheme originally allowed grants of £750 to certain ratings in weapons, radio and electrical categories and for A.R.A. ratings the grant was increased to £750. Shortages in these technical categories still continue to be serious. Despite this, we hope that the grants may change the drift into an increase.

This is part of the constant re-examination and reflection which we must be making to improve matters and to see what more is needed. I accept the point made about manpower by my hon. Friend the Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg). I am aware of his concern, particularly about constituency cases in addition to his general concern. We do not want people to be kept in the Royal Navy against their will. That will not do any good whatever for the morale of the force. Nevertheless, there is equally the case which we must look at that considerable finance is spent on training people.

I have spoken about A.R.A. and technical qualifications which are required. If the State is to pay, as it does, for the training of someone for five or seven years, the State should expect a measure of return. This does not mean that these matters cannot be re-examined, including those concerning the junior end and the question of the break point. This has been raised in discussion of each individual Vote and also in an Adjournment debate. It is a matter of anxiety to many of us, and it will be looked at. I do not believe there is a hard-headed attitude towards compassionate cases. In the short time I have been in the Navy Department I have had to deal with 20 or 30 such matters and at least half of them have been settled very quickly. There has been a measure of humanity and concern and speed in dealing with them. We must be constantly examining and looking at this problem.

Mr. Driberg

I am greatly encouraged by what my hon. Friend has said. Can he say that the inquiry which has been promised into the particular matter which I raised, and my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Miss Lestor) raised on the Adjournment, will take place pretty speedily?

Mr. Foley

The question is not one particularly for the Navy, although the Navy has a measure of concern which is perhaps greater than that of one or other of the other Services because of the greater intake of juniors. The Minister of State for Administration has promised this inquiry. He is actively concerned in it. It will be an across-the-board, three Services re-examination of the reasons which people give for wanting to leave, the age at which this emerges and the pattern it follows, to ascertain at what point it would be in our interests and the interests of the Service and those concerned to establish break points. I cannot promise that there will be an answer in a matter of weeks, but there is a degree of urgency. We are anxious to present the Armed Forces in a good light and to demonstrate that there is a humanitarian concern within their ranks.

I mention briefly, and I shall try to keep in order, the point raised about manpower on Polaris in terms of naval personnel. As the White Paper said, there is something of the order of 900 personnel expected in this year to serve in the Polaris programme. As my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East said, it is expected that when the four Polaris ships become operational there will be two crews for each of the submarines and a standby crew, making nine crews in all. That is the total 900 provided for in this year's Estimates for the base at Faslane.

My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Ogden) commented on the nomenclature. Fortunately, having been at the Navy Department for about six weeks, I am able to say that I am starting to get on first names terms with many people and that long-winded titles are dropped very quickly. It may be that in time we may look again at the question of names, but I hope that we shall be judged much more on what we do than on what titles we have.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That a sum, not exceeding £97,465,000, be granted to Her Majesty out of the Consolidated Fund, 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 31st March, 1968.