§ Lord CHARLES BERESFORD
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is aware that artisan ratings, such as blacksmiths and plumbers, owing to their shortage of numbers in a ship, will be urgently needed m time of war; whether he can see his way to allow all artisan ratings to join the Royal Fleet Reserve; 1594W whether he can see his way to restore properly qualified writers to the position of obtaining the chief petty officer's rate in ten years, as was the regulation before 1900, instead of twelve years as at present; whether he is aware that the following are the only ratings which cannot achieve the position of chief petty officer, namely, blacksmiths, plumbers, painters, and coopers; and whether he can see his way to remove this state of affairs?
§ Mr. McKENNA:
The assumption that there is a shortage of blacksmiths and plumbers in ships cannot be accepted. The supply of these ratings is considered sufficient for war needs. The Royal Fleet Reserve was instituted for the provision of a ready supply of those classes who will be most required in war, namely, seamen, stokers, and marines, and for the maintenance of their efficiency and knowledge of the duties for which they will be required. It is not considered that the requirements of artisan ratings in this respect are sufficient to call for the creation of another class of the Royal Fleet Reserve, or to warrant the expense of such a step. The answer to the third part of the question is in the negative. The present system of advancement and pay of the writer class was adopted by the Admiralty in 1900 after lengthy consideration of several alternative schemes. Although the new regulations deferred the attainment of the chief writer rating for two years, this was compensated for by an extra 6d. a day after five years' service in that rating and by the creation of a new intermediate tank of first writer attainable two years earlier than the rank of chief writer under the old system. When the new system was introduced some men in their first period of engagement would have been adversely affected in regard to pay up to the date of completion of that engagement, but in order to remove any grounds for complaint, all such cases were specially dealt with so as to make the men's emoluments during the first engagement equal to what they would have received under the old system. All men in their second or subsequent engagements at the time of the change benefited by the new system. The scale of pay for writers was recently reviewed in connection with the introduction of warrant rank for the class, and no change was considered necessary. With regard to the last part of the question, it is not at present in contemplation to introduce a chief petty officer grade for the classes mentioned.