§ Lord CHARLES BERESFORD
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he can see his way to make an improvement in the pay and status of the sick berth staff of the Royal Navy; whether he is aware that under the present regulations it is almost impossible for ship's stewards to get the progressive pay to which they are entitled, and whether he can see his way to remedy this state of affairs; whether he is aware that stoker mechanics are not allowed increase of pay on promotion to leading stoker, although the latter rating is a senior and far more responsible position; and whether he is aware that since the abolition of the second-class petty officer rate leading rates have more responsibility and less pension?
§ Mr. McKENNA:
The position of the sick berth staff in the matter of pay and advancement was one of the subjects dealt with by the Committee on the Naval Medical Service, whose recommendations are now under the consideration of the Admiralty. The highest rate of substan- 1593W tive pay possible in the ship's steward class is 7s. a day for ship's stewards who have completed twenty years' service as chief petty officer. This rate can therefore only be obtained by ship's stewards who have been permitted for special reasons to re-engage after completing time for pension for special reasons. It is not considered that there is any ground for granting this rate of pay, except in such cases. The scheme for a progressive system of training for the stoker class which was introduced after most careful consideration of the engine-room requirements of the future, involved the eventual absorption of the non-substantive rating of stoker-mechanic in the substantive rating of leading stoker. Although no rise of pay was provided for a stoker mechanic on promotion to leading stoker, an increase was introduced in the grade after three years' service, and it is considered that the prospect of advancement opened up by the new scheme sufficiently compensates for any increase of responsibility in the immediate present. The abolition of the second-class petty officer rate was a well-considered step, adopted on the recommendation of a Committee. Doubtless extra responsibility now devolves on the leading rates, but their numbers were increased, and they were granted a progressive rate of pay after three years' service. It is not considered that any hardship is involved in this respect. As regards pension, it does not follow that the abolition of the second-class petty officer rate has resulted in the men having less pension. The provision in Order in Council of 12th August, 1907, for "men of leading seaman rank of all classes to be allowed to count time exceeding three years in that rank for increase of pension as authorised for petty officers second class," was inserted with the view of the preservation of former pension privileges, the period of three years being taken as representing the average time served in the leading rate prior to advancement to petty officers second class under the old regulations.