I beg to ask the Civil Lord of the Admiralty if ho will state the reasons for the arrangement by which the Royal Navy furnished the deck complement of the steamship "Ophir," while the owners provide the engine-room complement instead of the Royal Navy. I beg at the same time to ask the Civil Lord of the Admiralty whether lie will explain the arrangement made with the owners of the steamship "Ophir" as regards wages, victuals, clothing, and discipline of that part of the complement provided by the owners dining Admiralty charter.
It was considered that as the engineers of the Orient Company, accustomed to working the engines of the "Ophir," remained in charge of her machinery during her forthcoming voyage, the company should provide the whole of the engine-room staff. A subsequent decision has been come to to limit the staff provided by the company to the engineers and a few special ratings, the remainder being supplied by men of the Royal Navy. The portion of the crew of the "Ophir" not belonging to the Royal Navy have been entered under special conditions approved by Order in Council, which places them under the Naval Discipline Act, and they are paid the rates of pay agreed upon with the owners of the "Ophir," who victual the entire complement of the ship, including these men. Uniform is supplied at the cost of the Crown.
I beg to ask the Civil Lord of the Admiralty whether, before Vote I of the Navy Estimates is proceeded with, he will cause to be issued to the House a Return showing the nature and number of officers, petty officers, and men, and their rates of pay respectively, of the engine-room staff' of the steamship "Ophir," provided by the owners during the Admiralty charter.
I shall be happy to cause such a Return to be issued if the hon. and gallant Member will move for it, or I will send him the statement direct, whichever he prefers.