HC Deb 28 January 1954 vol 522 cc281-2W
Mr. J. J. Astor

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he has any statement to make on the recent cases of malicious damage in Her Majesty's Ships.

Mr. J. P. L. Thomas

I am glad to have this opportunity to put into perspective the recent cases of malicious damage in Her Majesty's Ships.

It is true that the number of such instances has risen during the last 12 months. There is no evidence that any organised campaign of sabotage or any subversive motive is at work. In all the recent cases the damage has been trivial—usually the smashing of a few dial glasses—and committed for personal reasons, in so far as there was any rational explanation at all.

Inquiry into the background of the offenders who have been discovered suggests that they are often young and irresponsible men who would probably commit similar offences in any environment. To this type of mentality example is infectious and publicity given to one case may well lead to another, although I appreciate the restraint with which the Press have reported these cases.

While there is no cause for alarm about the state of morale in the Navy as a whole, there is equally no complacency about the recent trend in the incidence of malicious damage. I am sure that we can rely upon the good sense of the Commanders-in-Chief and the Commanding Officers to do all they can to reverse that trend, and that in this they will have the full support of the overwhelming majority of their men.