HC Deb 26 October 1949 vol 468 cc155-7W
Major Bruce

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether he will publish a summary of the reforms instituted in the Royal Navy since the end of the war affecting pay, status, conditions of service and amenities afloat and ashore.

Mr. Dugdale

The following is a brief summary of the more important reforms that have been instituted in the Royal Navy since the war.

New pay and pensions codes for officers and ratings were introduced in 1945 and 1946. In November, 1948, there were increases in marriage allowance for officers, and in pay and marriage allowance for ratings, and there have been improvements in the rates of many other allowances. The cost of the increases granted in November, 1948, amounts to approximately £2 million a year.

Outward and return passages may be provided free for the families of most married officers and ratings who are serving overseas. During their stay overseas, these families have the benefit of social services as nearly as possible equivalent to those existing in the United Kingdom.

In 1946, the Admiralty decided for the first time to build married quarters for the Navy at places where accommodation could not be provided by other means. Under this policy, quarters are being built for ratings at certain Naval Air Stations in the United Kingdom and also at Malta and Gibraltar.

Many improvements have been and are being made in living and working conditions in His Majesty's Ships. In the last four years modernised bathrooms have been or are being fitted in 250 ships, barbers' shops in 24 ships and cobblers' shops in 3 ships. Five hundred and twenty domestic automatic refrigerators have been supplied to His Majesty's Ships, and 70 to shore establishments at Home and Abroad. Six hundred and fifty drinking water coolers have been supplied to His Majesty's Ships and a few to shore establishments abroad. A start is being made to provide cool stowage for fruit and vegetables. Much is being done to improve ventilation. Air conditioning is being installed as opportunity offers in sick bays, W.T. and radar offices and telephone exchanges, and will be extended where possible to other parts of ships. Galleys are being better ventilated and fitted with electric ranges. Better messing facilities are being provided. Careful attention is being given to the detailed planning of the layouts and colour schemes of living spaces, and to kit stowage, and improved types of kit lockers are being fitted.

Chief Petty Officers and Petty Officers may now wear plain clothes, both in and out of barracks. Sheets are being supplied to ratings serving abroad. Committees for consultation on welfare matters have been introduced in His Majesty's Ships and naval establishments.

The rules governing the grant of compassionate leave have been modified. Commanders-in-Chief now have discretion to grant leave in cases of the imminent death of a parent, or in circumstances of more than usual distress even though other sons and daughters may be available, and members of the family may be given free air passages to enable them to visit officers or ratings who are dangerously ill abroad.

Persons under trial by court martial may be given aid from public funds, under conditions similar to those laid down for civilians in the Legal Aid and Advice Act, 1949, in order that they may have professional legal assistance. Compulsory Church Parade has been abolished. Liberty boats at shore establishments have been discontinued. Leave scales have been improved. Conditions in detention quarters have been improved and the Regulations now provide that men under detention may be granted temporary release on compassionate grounds.

In newly constructed ships and ships coming forward for reconstruction, policy is being directed to improving living conditions on the lower deck and to increasing the living accommodation allocated to ratings. Branch Officers (formerly Warrant Officers) now become Commissioned Officers and members of the wardroom mess.

Tuition and maintenance of cadets at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, are now free. The age of entry has been raised from 13½ to 16. The Admiralty now provides the uniform and other clothing for all cadets, including Special Entry Cadets, and meets their personal expenses, the cost being recovered from parents according to their ability to pay. The full cost of officers' uniform on first commissioning is now borne by the Admiralty. The system of promotion from the lower deck has been overhauled and greater opportunities are given to enable ratings to reach the necessary educational standard. Between 20 per cent. and 25 per cent. of officers are now taken from the lower deck.

The last three reforms above ensure that no one is debarred by lack of finance from becoming an officer in the Royal Navy.

Forward to