HL Deb 22 June 1883 vol 280 cc1252-4

, in rising to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty, Whether the Board of Admiralty have taken into consideration, or purpose shortly to consider any statements purporting to proceed from the warrant officers of the Navy with reference to widows' pensions, relative rank in the Service, and other matters? said, the first anomaly he wished to call attention to was that compassionate allowances were not granted to warrant officers. Pensions were also either denied, or were on a smaller scale than those of any other officers in the Navy; and they were not according to length of service, as in other cases; and they had not been revised for 80 years. The warrant officers had the charge of stores of great value; but the allowances on that account were fixed at 6d. a-day. The duty was a very responsible one in the case of a. largo ship with an immense number of shells and munitions of war, and it was felt that the allowance ought to bear some proportion to the responsibility. As a class, they were different men from what they were a few years ago; they educated themselves so as to keep pace with the introduction of machinery; and they felt that they were entitled to some slight distinction in uniform to indicate their altered position and duties. From his acquaintance with the Service, he should be the very last person to encourage anything like agitation on the part of these employed in Her Majesty's Navy; but he thought that he was doing justice to the Rules of the Service in calling attention to these matters which had been brought to his notice. There was a very proper provision in the Navy Regulations that the Admiralty should not be addressed on questions of this kind. The warrant officers and seamen could not, therefore, adopt such a course; but they had asked him and others to state their views, and therefore he now asked the Question which stood in his name on the Paper.


My Lords, in reply to the noble Viscount opposite (Viscount Sidmouth), I would state that an anonymous pamphlet, purporting to represent the unanimous appeal of the warrant officers of the Fleet, has been sent to certain Members of the Board of Admiralty, including myself; but we cannot believe that it is what it pro. fesses to be, or that a body of well-disciplined men, acquainted with the Regulations of the Service, could have fallen into the error of making such an application, inasmuch as they must have known that combinations of the kind are entirely prohibited. In support of that statement, with your Lordships' permission, I will read the extract from the Queen's Regulations bearing on the subject to the House— All combinations of persons belonging to the Fleet for the purpose of bringing about alterations in the existing Rules and Regulations of the Royal Navy, whether affecting their interests individually or collectively, are prohibited, as being contrary to the established use and practice of the Service, and injurious to its discipline. But, while saying that, I can assure the noble Viscount, and your Lordships generally, that the Board are always ready, in the interests of those serving under their orders, to listen to any reasonable representations, praying for the amelioration of their position, which they may receive from officers of any branch of the Service, provided that such representations are made in accordance with the Rules of the Service as laid down in the Queen's Regulations.