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Orders Of The Day

Volume 154: debated on Tuesday 23 May 1922

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Supply

[9TH ALLOTTED DAY.]

Considered in Committee.

[Sir EDWIN CORNWALL in the Chair.]

Navy Estimates, 1922–23

Works, Buildings, And Repairs, At Home And Abroad

Motion made, and Question proposed,

"That a sum, not exceeding£3,483,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Expense of Works, Buildings, and Repairs, at home and abroad, including the cost of Superintendence, Purchase of Sites, Grants-in-Aid, and other Charges connected therewith, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1923, in addition to a sum of £790,000 to be allocated for this purpose from the sum of £12,000,000 voted on account of Navy Services generally."

In making the customary statement on the introduction of Vote 10, I hope the Committee will find that my remarks will be as brief as my demands are going to be modest. Before I come to the figures, I wish to dissipate two erroneous ideas I find very commonly held with regard to this Vote. The first is that because this Vote deals chiefly with such mundane materials as bricks and mortar, it must be a very dull subject. I can only say, as one who temporarily has something to do with the administration of this Vote, that I find it intensely interesting. We deal with and we provide everything for the requirements of the Navy, from the largest engineering undertaking to the smallest building repair, in almost every part of the world. We deal in everything from docks to door handles, from barracks to washhand basins, and the area over which we work extends from Wei-hai-wei in the North to the Cape of Good Hope in the South; from Jamaica and the Falklands in the West to Singapore and Hong Kong in the East; and to me this world interest invests even bricks and mortar with a certain amount of glamour.

The second error to which I have alluded is a far more important one. There is a widespread belief that expenditure under this Vote is not essential for the primary purpose of the Navy, and that it absorbs money which might be more profitably devoted to the fighting efficiency of the Fleet in other directions of the Naval Service. If I may say so, I think this is the right line that any criticism should take, that no expenditure on this Vote should detract from the fighting efficiency of the Fleet, and that is the test which I always apply to every single item of expenditure that comes before me on this Vote. This general belief is entirely wrong, because you cannot divide expenditure under this Vote from that incurred for the general needs of the Navy. What we provide forms an integral and vital part of the Navy both in personnel and material.

Take personnel. We have to build and provide the educational establishments and colleges at which the men are trained. We have to build and provide the barracks in which they are housed; and we have to build and provide the hospitals to which they are taken when they are sick. We have to build and maintain the slips on which to build the ships, and the docks and the locks in which they are repaired; we have to build and maintain the workshops in which the repairs are carried out; we have to lay down railways and provide roads to serve those ships and workshops; and we have to build and provide piers and jetties, and, by dredging, ensure the correct depth of water for the ever increasing draught of our ships.

4.0 P.M.

We have to build and maintain workshops, storehouses and magazines for the thousand and one articles without which the ships would be useless; guns, ammunition, torpedoes, mines, depth charges, and stores of every description. Further we have to provide fuel installations—and this is probably the most important item we have to provide at the present moment—to replenish our ships not only at home but all over the world; and we have to build wireless telegraphy stations to communicate with our ships. I hope I have indicated enough of our activities to show the Committee that we provide for the integral needs of the Navy and that the Fleet could not come into being or exist without us. The amount which I am going to ask the Committee to provide for the purposes I have roughly outlined for the financial year 1922–23 is £4,273,000. Last year this House voted £5,836,600, but to that I must add a Supplementary Estimate of £10,000 which we got through later in the year, so that, comparing the gross Vote this year with the gross Vote of last year, I can show a decrease of £1,573,600, which, if you take the percentage, is a very considerable amount on the total involved. I want the Admiralty, and particularly my Department, to get the credit for the great majority of this reduction, because the great majority of the cut was made before the Committee on National Expenditure was ever heard of. As long ago as June last year we had cut this Vote down to £4,756,000, and this was the Estimate which we presented to the Geddes Committee. The Admiralty have always been willing to co-operate with that Committee or any Committee to effect reductions in expenditure, and we met that Committee and made a further reduction of £483,000.

This further reduction was not made without a great deal of effort, and it was made, in four ways. First, by not proceeding with various items that were approved by this House last year and which we thought we could really do without in these trying times. Secondly, by going slow with various continuation services where the adoption of that method did not involve too great expense. In some cases it might involve too great an expense for the saving made at the moment. Thirdly, by postponing many undertakings entered into for the improvement of the living conditions of naval ratings while serving on shore. I regret very much not being able to go on with some of these welfare items, and I hope that the House, when times are more propitious and money is more easily available, will support me or my successor in trying to get some of these welfare items that really are so desirable. The fourth means by which we made that cut was by drastically cutting down new works and concentrating only on those services absolutely necessary in the interests of safety and health.

The Geddes Committee, in their Report on that Vote, which is not a very long one, recommended that no new works of any description whatsoever should be undertaken this year. The Admiralty could not possibly recom- mend that course to the House, because it would be the most false economy imaginable. I do not know whether many hon. Members, like myself, since the War, have taken a great deal more interest in such subject as re-soling one's boots and shoes. If they have, they will have learned, like myself, that you can allow a hole in the outer sole to go to a certain length, but directly it goes too far the shoe becomes useless and you have to buy a new pair.

That is equally true of nearly all the small amount of new work which I am asking the Committee to provide for in these Estimates. It will, I think, interest the Committee, more than anything else, to have a comparison with the pre-War Vote of 1914–15. To take an exact comparison between the expenditure to-day and the expenditure just before the War, I must explain that there are certain annual charges and obligations to the total value of £1,358,431, which, although relating to services carried out, or to grants approved in past years, have been provided for. This sum is made up of redemption of rent charges on branch railways, £1,013, of recurring grants-in-aid £13,011, and—this is by far the biggest item—of an annuity in repayment of advances under Naval Works Acts, 1885 to 1895, which the Committee will find under Sub-head O in the Estimates, amounting to £1,344,407. Those three items make a total of £1,358,431, and we must deduct them to get the effective expenditure of this year.

I am coming to those in a moment. We thus get a figure of £2,914,569. To be quite fair, we must add an appropriation-in-aid of £75,000, but we are also, I think, entitled to deduct charges arising directly out of the War amounting to £80,700. Making these allowances, we get a figure of £2,908,869, which is the anticipated effective expenditure on naval works in 1922–23. By applying exactly the same corrections to the Vote in 1914-15, we can compare the net effective totals, and they are as follow: 1914–15, £2,306,422; 1922–23, £2,908,869. That shows an increase of only 26 per cent., and, when the Committee take into consideration, as they must, the fact that nearly all the works that we do under this Vote are costing us in the neighbourhood of 140 per cent. more than they did, on the average, in 1914, I think they will admit that the provision I am now asking for has been based on the lines of moderation and economy.

I want to say one word before I sit down about the question of oil. The small increase of 26 per cent. that I have explained to the Committee does not accurately represent the economies that we have really made, for over one-third of the total effective expenditure this year is incurred for oil fuel storage, installations, a service for which we had to provide only a small sum in pre-War days. It is practically a new service, though an absolutely vital service for the Fleet. The amount we are asking for this year is £1,007,400, and represents the lowest possible figure to which we have been able to reduce it. I do hope that the Committee will not press me for any reduction in this item. They must remember that the safeguarding of the British Empire and the policing of the ocean may depend no longer upon great numerical superiority. They depend to-day on the efficiency of our Fleet. One of the first necessities of efficiency is mobility, and one of the first essentials for mobility are oil tanks all over the world where our ships may go. I hope the Committee will support the Admiralty in this matter. I do not propose at this stage to go into any details, but I will reply later to any questions that may arise during the Debate. I maintain that we have taken to heart that oft repeated injunction to cut our coat according to our cloth. We have made every endeavour to reduce this Vote. I am not so foolish as to say that it is incapable of still further pruning, but we have not been able to find any legitimate means, and I shall be much obliged if hon. Members of this Committee can supply some means of doing so.

I beg to move to reduce the Vote by £1,000.

I believe the Committee will understand me when I say that I would rather be defending this Estimate than attacking it. The position of the hon. and gallant Gentleman is a more grateful one for one who has served in the Service, as I have. Nevertheless, I do feel that the pious aspirations explained by the hon. and gallant Gentleman have not been quite fully carried out in this Vote. He said that the test of expenditure should be the necessity of the Navy, and that nothing should detract from its fighting efficiency. I have had the honour of taking part in one or two Debates on the Navy Estimates, and I have always tried to make it clear that we should scrutinise every penny of the expenditure from the sole standpoint of the fighting efficiency of the Fleet. The Navy is not a charitable organisation. It does not exist to give work in certain parts of the country. I speak of this matter with some trepidation, as I am surrounded by hon. Gentlemen who represent those parts of the country which have great dockyards situated in them. I want to accept the invitation of my hon. and gallant Friend and tell him where I think money could be saved without-detracting one iota from the fighting efficiency of the Fleet. After the War, the Admiralty were faced with a very serious and difficult problem, and that was the problem of the dockyards. Every war in which we have taken part has produced its own particular dockyards, and, after the war, they have been left as heritages of that war, and in some cases have not been required for the new grouping in which we have found ourselves. As an example, the Dutch wars produced Chatham. They produced the expansion of Chatham, Plymouth, that great and excellent harbour—

The hon. Member for Devonport must I forgive me if I refer to it by its historic name. The Spanish wars led to the expansion of the naval establishments of Plymouth. The French wars led to the; great expansion of our most ancient dockyard, Portsmouth. The German menace and war led to the building and the expansion of the great Scottish dockyard of Rosyth. After this War, it was obvious to anyone that the strategical situation had altered completely, and that, whereas the Navy had a North Sea alinement up to the outbreak of the late War, if it were to have an alinement of that sort—and it is the only means of having a Navy—it must be towards the Far East and West in the Atlantic. Take the case of two of these dockyards Chatham and Rosyth. They are not placed suitably for the new naval conditions in which we find ourselves. I am not referring to these ports with the object of drawing hon. Members who represent them in this House. I am trying to face facts and to explain the problem which the Admiralty are confronted with. If these great establishments—

I do not know how far the hon. Member has it in his mind to go. This is the only opportunity hon. Members have to discuss the detailed expenditure in connection with works and buildings; it is not the occasion for discussing the general policy of the Admiralty.

Surely it is absolutely within order and according to precedent that the policy of the Admiralty which involves these works should be discussed on this Vote.

That is not the point. I was asking the hon. and gallant Member how far his argument was directed to general policy, and I was pointing out that this is not the occasion for a general discussion on the naval policy of the Admiralty.

I do not wish to discuss questions of general policy on this Vote. I was pointing out certain expenditure on the dockyards which I consider is bad expenditure. A policy I thought should have been adopted, which would have meant the rapid closing down, as far as possible, of those dockyards which were considered redundant, and therefore, whichever they were, all items involving this spending of money—and these items are scattered over all the dockyards, and there seems to be no question of spending a little more here or a little less there—I was pointing out that until the Admiralty can make up their mind on this great problem, real economy in dockyard expenditure will be impossible. May I return at once to the question of detail. I hesitate to refer again to the case of the dockyard at Pembroke. That question has been raised in many quarters in this House, and yet we are asked in this Vote to spend a sum of £1,600 on part of an extension involving an expenditure of £228,000 in a dockyard which the Admiralty themselves have condemned.

On a point of Order. This Vote is for certain works, buildings, and repairs at home and abroad. This is not the occasion to discuss the policy of the Government in regard to dockyards, which, I submit, comes under an entirely different Vote, and I would urge that the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull is entirely out of order in now referring to the case of Pembroke Dockyard.

On page 137 of the Navy Estimates there is an item with regard to Pembroke Dockyard which I propose to examine.

Yes, there is an item of expenditure on Pembroke Dockyard. There are also other items connected with other dockyards. I do not think on this Vote for works and buildings we can have a general discussion with regard to dockyards like Portsmouth and Rosyth and matters of this sort. This is not the occasion on which to decide policy in regard to any dockyard, Pembroke or any other. I do not say I would object to hon. Members making reference to expenditure in particular dockyards, but it would not be in order to have a general discussion on dockyards.

While agreeing entirely with the view of my hon. and gallant Friend opposite the Member for Devonport (Sir C. Kinloch-Cooke) that the general policy of the Navy cannot be called into question on this Vote, may I submit that if there is, for instance, a certain amount of money being spent on certain dockyards, and if there are, as is well known to hon. Members, rumours about particular expenditure in Pembroke Dockyard, surely the question of a particular expenditure in a particular dockyard for a particular reason, even though it be of a political character, is a matter which it is desirable should be brought out quite clearly. I submit with very great deference on that particular point that it is within the rules of order, and it is better it should be discussed on this Committee stage, where my hon. and gallant Friend can answer questions, rather than that the subject should be interposed in a great general discussion.

But the Minister in charge of policy is not here. The Minister in charge of these items of expenditure on works, buildings and repairs is here for the purpose of giving the Committee information on those proposals., I have pointed out that there is an item of £1,600 for expenditure on Pembroke Dockyard, and if that is discussed Members must confine themselves to that particular item, and not cover the whole question.

As I hope to take part in the Debate later on, and as you, Sir, tell us that questions of policy must not be discussed on this Vote, of course I bow to your ruling, but there is the question to come up of oil fuel installation, and I want to point out it is impossible to discuss that in any form on this Vote without opening up somewhat wide questions of policy.

The Noble Lord is quite right, and it will be for the Chairman to use his discretion during the course of the Debate.

Would it not be in order to show reasons why Pembroke Dockyard is useless for any further purpose, and that it is wrong to spend any more money upon it?

We can only discuss that in relation to this Vote of £1,600, and in so far as hon. Members introduce arguments on the question they must apply them to the £1,600 which it is proposed to spend. Then they will be in order.

May I point out that the hon. Gentleman who represents the Admiralty in this House, the First Lord being in another place, can give us his views of policy?

I want to ask a question about the £1,600 to be expended on Pembroke Dockyard. Here is a dockyard maintained admittedly on sufferance. I do not want to touch even the policy concerned. The dockyard is being kept alive not for naval purposes but because of the community which has grown up around it, because of the money spent on waterworks, gasworks, roads, and so on. This £1,600 Hwy be attacked in all parts of the House. If it were just for ordinary upkeep it would be an entirely different matter, but it is for an extension of new works, and I think the House should be given not only details of the expenditure but some justification for it. It is pointed out that the total amount involved up to the 31st March last was no less a sum than £238,200. I think this extension should have been stopped long since, because the Admiralty stated after the Armistice that, for naval purposes, Pembroke was no longer required. I daresay some explanation will be forthcoming of this expenditure. There are one or two other items I would like to ask about, and I will stick strictly to details. First of all, with regard to Portsmouth. We have an item for a motor garage. I would remind hon. Members of the statement made by the hon. and gallant Gentleman who introduced this Estimate that every penny was for the fighting efficiency of the Fleet. May I ask why a motor garage is necessary at Portsmouth in these times of financial stringency, when the Fleet is not getting the right men, and the men are not getting sea training? May I ask why it should be thought necessary to spend money on a motor garage at Portsmouth? I do not want to take up the very narrow view that it is not necessary to have motor transport. If you are going to have these vast shore establishments I suppose the Admiralty can make a good case for having motor garages, but in this year, 1922, to spend a sum of something like £12,500 for this purpose does not seem reasonable. To my knowledge there are any number of sheds and buidings at Portsmouth which could be well utilised for this purpose, and it would not cost very much to turn one of them into a garage quite suitable for dockyard purposes. Then I should like to get an assurance with regard to another very large item at Portsmouth, and that is in respect of expenditure on the "Vernon" torpedo establishment. My hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone (Commander Bellairs) and many other naval officers did duty on the "Vernon" for many years and know the value of the training which was given on her. It was necessary to transfer the school to a shore establishment. I see that a sum of £662,000 is being spent on that establishment. That sounds to be exorbitant, and I notice there is another item of £160,000 for machinery. There are many Members of this House who have been over the "Vernon" when she was fitted with torpedo machinery and did excellent work, but how on earth this sum of nearly one million pounds—at any rate, over £800,000—can be spent without gross extravagance on a shore establishment I cannot understand, and I invite explanation from the hon. and gallant Gentleman.

Has the hon. and gallant Member noticed that £486,000 has already been spent?

That is so, but we are continuing the expenditure on this school. Naturally I took the total cost, and I think a great deal of extravagance must have been indulged in on this building. In view of the known financial position of the country and the need for saving every available penny we can on the Navy without loss of efficiency, I invite an explanation on this expenditure. I may perhaps be permitted here to throw in another observation. There seems to be a growing belief in the Admiralty that you can make not only sailors and torpedo men, but gunners also in shore establishments. That is a total fallacy. The only place you can do it is afloat, and I think it right therefore to criticise very closely indeed any expenditure on shore torpedo establishments. I regret very much that expenditure is also going on at Rosyth—not in maintenance, not in providing work for the men who are there, through no fault of their own, and find themselves in a difficult position, and whom we cannot absolutely cast out, but on new works and extensions. To spend that money on a purely North Sea dockyard seems to me to be an extraordinary policy to pursue after what has happened in the last few years.

I now come to a different item altogether, namely, the expenditure which the Admiralty are incurring upon the very romantic project of the towers which are at present moored at Shoreham. I refer to the expenditure of £17,700 under the heading of, "Defence Works (M.N. Scheme)." The history of these towers is, as I have said, very romantic. During the unique conditions of the late War, in which we were caught napping as regards the German submarine menace, it was necessary, at all costs, to find some means of preventing German submarines from running through the Straits of Dover, and someone hit upon the idea of making concrete and steel towers which could be towed out and sunk on certain selected sandbanks in the Channel. On those towers were to be mounted searchlights and guns, and they were also to be equipped with listening apparatus—hydrophones—for detecting submarines, and with firing apparatus for exploding the minefields through which the submarines might be passing. This was very good from the point of view of the War, but, unfortunately, it was hit upon rather too late. The Armistice came, and I believe that none of these towers have been so far completed as to be actually used, and the Admiralty were faced with the question what was to be done with them. I am afraid that this was one of those schemes which gave rise in the Admiralty to a separate Department, with its own permanent staff, and they brought forward very good reasons for continuing the construction of these towers. They have cost, to date, £1,162,000, and the total amount which it is proposed to spend on them is, apparently, £1,180,000, of which we are asked this year for 217,700. May I respectfully ask what these towers are really going to be used for? It is no use saying that they are wanted for hydrophone experiments, because such experiments can be carried out from the shore, and for all practical purposes a concrete tower is no different, whether it is on dry land or fixed on a sandbank with a few feet of water round its base. Are they to be used for night-firing tests? I submit that such tests can be just as well carried out from the shore. Are they going to be used as lighthouses, as I have seen suggested in the Press? In the meantime, why are they at Shoreham spoiling the beautiful little harbour and annoying the local inhabitants? The additional expenditure on these towers—I think that this expenditure on the M.N. Scheme is for these towers—is a wicked waste of money, and I would suggest that we set to work to get rid of them. Blow them up, or tow them out to sea and sink them, but do not go on spending money on these costly white elephants. Their only possible use was in the unique conditions of the late War. I do not know how it is proposed to use them in any future war. Is it proposed to tow them out to Singapore or Bermuda and use them there? I cannot conceive of their ever being used in the Channel for the purpose of keeping German submarines from running through the Straits of Dover.

I am going now to make one last suggestion for economy, and here I shall turn to a friendly encounter between the Parliamentary Secretary and myself on the question of Jamaica. We are asked to spend £60,000 on an oil fuel depot at Jamaica. With the remarks of the Civil Lord about the necessity for oil fuel stations at the right places, for purposes of mobility, I quite agree, but in peace time we do not need an oil fuel depot at Jamaica. In war time, if we are allied with the United States, we shall still not need it, because we can get all the oil we want from Key West, or others of the magnificent American naval bases; while if we were engaged in a war in which the United States was hostile to us, we should not be able to use Jamaica, because it is so far inside the Gulf of Mexico that, without such a preponderating increase of force as we are never likely to get, as far as I can see, we should not be able to keep up our communications with Jamaica. In saying that, I am giving away no naval secret, because everyone knows it. I have raised this question before, and the Parliamentary Secretary has replied, "I am talking about dockyard expenditure, and Jamaica is not a dockyard." It is, however, an oil fuel depot, and we are spending money on an oil fuel depot which, I submit, will never be needed in war except in the one war in which it cannot be used. I do not think that whoever advised this expenditure on Jamaica could have considered the position from the point of view of strategy. I suppose they said, "Here is a nice British Colony in the West Indies, which has been used as a dockyard for hundreds of years, and, of course, that must be the place to have an oil fuel depot." I am afraid that a good deal of Admiralty expenditure in the past, and, I am sorry to say, also in the present, has been, and is being incurred on those lines. It shows a lack of co-ordination between the Naval staff and the Departments responsible for the erection of these works. I repeat that there are economies which can still be made, if the Admiralty will be courageous, without detracting from the efficiency of the Fleet, and I feel this so strongly, particularly with regard to this question of Jamaica, that I now move to reduce the Vote by £1,000.

The Civil Lord of the Admiralty made a most interesting speech, which was full of both imagination and ingenuity, and which had the extreme merit of being about the shortest speech ever made by any Minister in introducing Estimates. He said that his subject had glamour. It ranged from Wei-hai-Wei to Sydney, from the Falkland Islands to Rosyth, and that is the trouble of bringing imagination to bear upon it. One can always discover key positions and put up works such as those which have been referred to by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy). You have, for instance, oil fuel depots here, there and everywhere. There are no less than twenty-two places provided for in these Estimates where we not putting up oil fuel depots. It is not only glamour that is associated with this Vote, but a good deal of clamour as well. The clamour comes from Wales in regard to Pembroke, and from Scotland in regard to Rosyth and Greenock. That is very undesirable indeed. The general body of Members ought to assemble for the purpose of putting down projects such as further expenditure at Pembroke or other redundant Government dockyards. I will go through some of the items of this Vote, taking one of the smallest first. There is an item of £500 for Wei-hai-Wei, and I want to ask my hon. and gallant Friend whether we have not agreed at the Washington Conference to give up Wei-hai-Wei, and whether he will not get some money in from China, in connection with the sale of effects at Wei-hai-Wei, which will come to the assistance of this Vote and which is not mentioned in the Grant-in-Aid?

On page 132c of the Estimates, I find that we have resuscitated Keyham Engineering College at a cost of £31,000, and that brings me to the question how intimately associated policy is with this Vote. We allowed Keyham College to go downhill on the ground that it was no longer required, because a great admiral, Lord Fisher, introduced a scheme of training which turned out to be an absolute failure. We have now had to come back to the old scheme and put the engineers back at Keyham College, and we have to spend £31,000 on Keyham College in order to rehabilitate it. On the same page I look at Greenock and find that there is a torpedo factory there which, with machinery, is to be extended at a cost of £83,000. How has that come about? First of all, the Admiralty enters into a policy of building torpedoes in rivalry with private works at Weymouth, and then they give nearly all their order to that Government establishment. The result is disastrous. They drive the private establishment out of business altogether, and we lose all the foreign orders associated with that kind of establishment; and now the Admiralty have to come to us to extend the Government establishments because they have driven the private firms out of business altogether.

Then there is the item of the "Vernon," to which my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Central Hull referred, and on which there is a total expenditure with machinery of £826,000. Considering that we have these separate torpedo training establishments at different ports, and that they will come along later on for bricks-and-mortar establishments, I do think we ought to question this and see if we cannot prune down that stupendous figure of £826,000 for a single torpedo training establishment. I agree that the old "Vernon" was insanitary, that it was utterly unfit for its work, and that this ought to have been done years ago. If it had been done years ago it would have been done much more cheaply, because building costs would not have been so great. On page 142 there is an expenditure, including machinery, of £249,000 for Rosyth. I notice that the hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge) has on the Paper a reduction of £1,000 on this Vote, so I presume that he is dissatisfied that we are still spending money on Rosyth where he can study extravagance at close quarters. At any rate, I hope he is, because it would be a great thing if we could get the Scottish Members to come and protest against extending this dockyard. The total sum under Vote 10 is £4,273,000, and I have performed the same calculation as my hon. and gallant Friend, except that I made the comparison with 1913. After adding grants-in-aid and deducting war charges, annuity, and redemption of borrowed money, I make the annual sum that he has to account for £2,941,000, of which, as he pointed out, over one-third goes on oil. That is £699,000 more, if similar deductions are made, than in 1913, when we were preparing for a definite war with Germany. Now we have the advantage of all the tremendous expenditure of the War, and yet the expenditure is practically £700,000 more than it was in 1913. I am utterly unable to account for that. It is perfectly true that we have over one-third for oil. The Civil Lord said that it was a very small sum in pre-War days, but I do not think it was. He seems to have forgotten the great expenditure of £590,000 on oil for Rosyth in pre-War days, and £95,000 on oil for the Humber.

I acknowledge that the expenditure on oil was not as great as it is to-day, but, coming to this question of oil, I find that there is £300,000 for Singapore, and £162,000 for Rangoon. I do not question that, because probably the naval battles of the future will be fought in the Pacific if we do have another naval war, which I profoundly hope will never be the case. I would, however, ask the Admiralty, with regard to these places and to the other 20 places—there are 22 in all—was it not possible to go to the great shipping companies and other private interests, and see if we could not build up these resources by means of subsidies, so that the mercantile marine would develop as well, now that it is taking to oil? I come to another interesting point. At all these 22 places where we are building up oil resources—Sierra Leone, Ceylon, the Falkland Islands, Jamaica, which was mentioned by the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull, and so on—you cannot stop at putting the oil there; you must put defences there as well. I ventured to point out, when we were proposing to lay the Pacific cable to Fanning Island, how undesirable it was to proceed without providing for defences. I pointed out that that cable would be the only cable to be cut during the War and that it ought to land at Honolulu. It was the only cable cut during the War, because there were no defence works. You cannot escape that point that you have to consider far more than the actual expenditure. You have to consider the defence works as well and then is it worth while? Is it desirable that now, in a time of profound peace, we should scatter these oil enterprises as Government enterprises, solely for the use of the Navy in a conjectural war, when in all probability we can, by associating ourselves with the mercantile marine, secure all we want for the future. Unless I get some satisfactory explanation, I cannot accept the Civil Lord's view that they have been pruned almost to the bone. I do not think they have and in that case I shall be forced to support the reduction.

The Civil Lord has introduced these Estimates in a most admirable speech. One of the great advantages the Admiralty have in these days is that they are represented by such accomplished Parliamentarians, and that disarms a good deal of possibly hostile opinion. But when my hon. Friend claims credit for the great economies which have been made, I must remind him of something which the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just sat down has put his finger on, and that is that before the War an enormous expense was being incurred annually on building the great Rosyth Dockyard and other defences on the East Coast in view of the German menace. If no Washington Conference had occurred this Vote must have been a great deal larger, because the Admiralty were proposing to build ships which could not have been laid down in the dockyard at all. But I want to call attention to the enormous number of establishments which are being maintained—establishments started by the Admiralty—and I cannot but contend that this is a wrong policy. It is a most wasteful thing to have an enormous number of small establishments all over the world. The hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just sat down said they had to be defended. It is not a question only of building these places, but they must be watched, and in these Estimates we are being asked to vote money for shore establishments which ought not to be wanted. The Geddes Committee warned the Government that on this Vote there were shore establishments which were not required in these days. They very clearly put the point that the men who were occupied in these shore establishments do not add to the fighting efficiency of the Fleet. You have a number of men whom I have heard described as more or less parasites. Also you are spending considerable sums of money on police accommodation in this Vote. These shore establishments are the very things which eat up police accommodation. There again the Geddes Committee showed very clearly that the Metropolitan Police, for whom this Vote provides the money to build cottages, are very expensive. Why cannot you guard your establishments without the aid of this very expensive force? You have now got 1,665 Metropolitan Police, compared with 1,347 before the War. Why should you have to provide accommodation in these Estimates for 300 more men, especially as the Fleet is being greatly reduced? I do not understand it. I should like to have an explanation why we are providing for building accommodation for the Metropolitan Police when the Geddes Committee said quite clearly that you have too many police already.

Then this is a most amazing thing in contra-distinction to the Geddes Committee—the question of an addition to the torpedo factory at Greenock. Why should you want to add to the torpedo factory at Greenock? It goes absolutely contrary to what the Geddes Committee recommended. The Geddes Committee have told the House and the country that the Admiralty have an excess of torpedoes at present. They say we have a stock of 21-inch torpedoes valued approximately at £10,000,000, and there are 3,000 others of an older type valued at £4,500,000. Why on earth should the House be asked to sanction the extension of the torpedo factory at Greenock when we have this enormous lot of torpedoes?

No. They are not out of date. There have been no ships built which would not take the torpedoes which the Geddes Committee value at £10,000,000. I ask my hon. Friend to give some information about this because it is very important. Why should you extend this Government establishment when you have already £15,000,000 worth of torpedoes in store? Surely there must be something wrong. The Geddes Committee have been very accurate in all their figures despite the Financial Secretary's animadversions on their accuracy and we may take these figures as accurate. We should never have had them had it not been for the Geddes Committee and we should never have been able to apply this criticism to the Greenock Torpedo Factory. I observe that there is an Estimate for the Holton Heath Cordite Factory. Is there any co-ordination with the Army in this matter? Are they each going to have separate establishments for manufacturing cordite? These are questions which from the point of view of the taxpayer one has the right and the duty to ask.

The hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just sat down has put the point about oil fuel installations. Why should you at this moment, when everything is at its dearest and everything to do with building is extremely dear, make a rush to establish oil fuel establishments all over the world when you have been told by the Cabinet that you need not prepare for war for 10 years? I observe that new works are going to be commenced at several outlying places. I would ask further what sort of oil fuel installations do you propose to erect. Are they of the gasometer type such as have been erected round this country, because if you erect these gasometers, say, at Singapore or Rangoon or the Falkland Islands how are you going to defend them? What is to prevent a hostile submarine coming and shelling them? You are asking an enormous sum of money to erect these oil fuel tanks in all the outlying parts of the Globe where they cannot be defended, and next, I assume, we shall have Votes for their defence. I ask the Admiralty to pause in this matter. The Geddes Committee asked them to pause in the erection of these oil fuel tanks all over the world. Have the Admiralty taken into consideration not only shelling by submarines but bombing from aeroplanes? Are you quite sure that your present system, which answered during the late War, of building these great gasometers full of oil will answer in the future? I cannot help thinking there is a very great danger that these big steel shells, containing enormous quantities of oil and exposed to the air, will be attacked by aeroplanes, as they certainly could be attacked by submarines. The Government should try to imagine that there is a taxpayer outside who is very heavily burdened, and the chief cause of complaint when you go to the country is the heavy taxation he has to pay.

There are very large sums of money here for the upkeep of docks. The Geddes Committee said quite clearly that the dockyards were at present excessive. Why do you spend more money on keeping up redundant dockyards? I do not propose to go into the question of Pembroke. The Pembroke people have made a very wise choice, inasmuch as they have selected, I believe, the son of the Prime Minister as their future representative. I think it shows a great deal of business acumen on their part. But I want to ask the Civil Lord whether he is carrying out in this Vote the recommendation of the Geddes Committee with regard to Gibraltar. The Geddes Committee recommended that Gibraltar should be brought down to a care-and-maintenance basis. You are spending money on the reconstruction of the dockyard in Gibraltar to-day, and you are spending enormous sums on oil fuel altogether. Are you going against the Geddes Committee in these matters? Do you propose to keep the dock at Gibraltar up to its pre-War standard? The Geddes Committee have asked you not to spend money there, but to reduce the Vote. You are spending more money on new works at Gibraltar. Again, what is the object of building new houses for working men at Rosyth? "Buildings to be removed and re-erected, housing subordinate officers and working men." Why put up these buildings if the men will not be required Again, "housing accommodation for the police—and that is a new service—£31,000." Why should you spend £31,000 on housing the police at Rosyth when Rosyth must eventually be very greatly reduced? My hon. Friend said he was very sorry, indeed, that they had had to neglect welfare work. You need not have neglected welfare work for the Fleet. You could have saved money here. I understand that at Rosyth, actually within the last six months, land has been feud permanently for building other houses.

5.0 P. M.

The Scottish Housing Council. Are they doing the work on their own responsibility? When I was at the Admiralty we helped the Scottish Housing Council. I think it was a public utility society then. If the Scottish Housing Society is carrying out building for the Admiralty, more money ought to be in this Vote. If you have another Department doing part of your work, by erecting houses for you, you should provide for it on this Vote.

Will the right hon. Gentleman point out where the point he is raising is included in the Vote?

On page 142 there is an item for housing subordinate officers and workmen, £39,000; expenditure up to 31st March this year, £22,000; to be voted 1922–23, £17,000.

Recently I was informed that land was feud about six months ago for building houses at Rosyth. Feud means that it is a permanent let to the Admiralty or some Government Department. The Scottish Housing Council would not take this land for building houses upon it unless it was required by the Admiralty. I am sorry to be critical, but one has to be critical. The country cannot stand the taxation; that is why I am critical. There is provision for numerous new works at Chatham. The Geddes Committee recommended that Rosyth and Chatham should be reduced. Is the Admiralty quite certain that Chatham is a dockyard upon which a large amount of money should be spent for new work? Are they quite certain that it cannot be bombed from the Continent? Are they quite certain that the whole strategic position of Chatham has not been changed. I have asked these questions over and over again, and I cannot get an answer. I hope that in the erection of all these buildings the Admiralty have taken into account the immense possibilities of aircraft in the future. It is said that aircraft can come and bomb London, and if they can bomb London they can certainly bomb Chatham. If my hon. Friend goes to a division I shall support him.

I should like to support what has been said by the previous speakers in relation to the dockyards. The Chair has given a ruling this afternoon which makes it very difficult to discuss the question of dockyards from the point of view of general policy as one would like to do; but there are one or two items in this Vote for certain dockyards to which I wish particularly to refer. A sum of £1,600 is to be spent at Pembroke. Of what possible use or value to the Navy in the future can Pembroke dockyard be? Cannot the Admiralty, without giving an indication of their general policy in regard to dockyards, give some idea of what use Pembroke dockyard is to the Navy? If it is little or no use to the Navy, why spend £1,600 upon it? It does not matter whether it is £1,600 or 1,600 pence; why spend it upon this dockyard? We all hope, at any rate those of us who are keen on economy, that this dockyard will be put an end to at the earliest possible moment. I am sorry that the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull did not move a reduction of the Vote to the full extent of the £1,600 which it is proposed to devote to Pembroke.

I should like to know what expenditure is required for dredging the Medway in order to get a proper depth of water to enable Chatham dockyard to be used by the class of ships that use that dockyard. There are sums in the Vote relating to Sheerness. I understood some time ago that Sheerness had been closed down, and yet I see that further sums are to be spent upon Sheerness dockyard. Are we going to keep Sheerness dockyard going? If not, why are we asked to spend further money upon Sheerness? I cannot quite follow the previous speakers in their remarks with regard to Rosyth. At Rosyth we have the most modern dockyard, with the most modern machinery, at the disposal of the Navy, and the only docks that can take the poet-Jutland ship, the "Hood." There is one omission in regard to Rosyth that is rather significant. I think an omission is as suspicious as anything that is put down in the Vote. What is happening at Port Edgar in the Rosyth area? I can not find any money allocated to it. Port Edgar was supposed to be a destroyer base. I believe it is still used by destroyers. It was made during the War, and requires a great deal of dredging in order to make it possible for destroyers to use the dockyard. It is always silting up. Is any money being spent at Port Edgar? Can we have any information as to the amount of money that is being spent on dredging there? When you have a dockyard which requires a constant outlay of money in dredging so as to make it possible to be used by the Navy, some idea should be given of the expenditure, so that the House may judge whether the expenditure is justified.

Many remarks have been made in regard to shore establishments. I cannot follow the right hon. Member for South Molton (Mr. Lambert) and the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull in this respect. The Geddes Committee criticise the Admiralty severely in regard to shore establishments, but I do not think they sufficiently realise that you cannot properly carry out the training of young boys as seamen, and the training of young able seamen either in gunnery or in torpedo practice on board ship, nor can you carry out the training of young officers adequately on board ship. To do so means putting the ship completely out of routine. Very often a ship is in dockyard for refit when it is necessary for the training to go through. That can only be adequately done on shore. A good deal has been said about putting the "Vernon" on shore. Many people think when they hear mention made of torpedoes or the Torpedo Branch of the Navy that that branch is only concerned with torpedoes. As a matter of fact, the Torpedo Branch of the Navy deals with fire control and with every branch of the electrical equipment of the ship. In addition, it has a good deal of work to do with the torpedoes. One of the lessons of the War has shown that certain establishments cannot really be effectively carried out at sea, and must be carried out on shore. The old "Vernon" was quite inadequate for the purpose. The new shore establishment has been designed on the most modern and up-to-date lines for machinery. It must not be supposed that the machinery with which the "Vernon" was equipped and which was getting old and out of date should not have been replaced. While hon. Members are criticising the Admiralty in connection with expenditure on the new "Vernon" establish- ment, I maintain that it is the duty of the Admiralty to keep the equipment up to date. Only in that way can the Navy be fit to deal with every development of modern war.

The right hon. Member for South Molton mentioned Holton Heath, and I agree with him in regard to that question. I should like the Minister to explain why it is that the Admiralty cannot combine with the Army in regard to the production of cordite. It may be that Holton Heath is not capable of producing for both the Navy and the Army, but there is ample room for extension there. There is a magnificent factory, fully equipped for the production of cordite for the Navy's requirements during the War, but that establishment is apparently going slow. There are very few men there. It is not working to anything like its proper capacity. That establishment might do work for both the Navy and the Army. It may be that the cordite required for the Navy is different from the cordite used in the Army, but I should like the Admiralty to explain why they cannot combine the cordite production for the two Services. That matter might be brought before the Committee which is going into the question of the three Services, so that they might consider whether it would not be possible to combine the production of cordite for all the three Services.

There is an item for new coastguard buildings. Is the Minister certain that the site selected for the coastguard buildings are the best. I know of a new coastguard building which it is proposed to erect between Brighton and Newhaven, not very far from Rottingdean. I have heard rumours that that station is to be built quite close to the edge of a cliff which is practically disappearing into the sea Is that so? In that area the Admiralty have a very nice little plot further back from the sea. There may be some: thing against using that plot. At any rate, if they are going to erect a new coastguard station in this locality, it is important to see that when they do so they are not in danger of seeing the new coastguard building disappearing into the sea in a few years' time.

I come to the question of oil fuel storage. The right hon. Member for South Molten criticised the Admiralty very severely for their policy in regard to oil fuel storage. In so far as he criticised what he called the gasometer system I entirely agree with him. It is a most dangerous system. At Devonport at the present time the Admiralty are erecting a large number of these new gasometer tanks for the storage of oil. At Rosyth there is an immense depot of 30 or 40 big gasometer tanks for oil, which have just been erected. At Port Edgar there are some. This type of tank adopted by the Admiralty is obviously a most vulnerable type for shells or bombs from an enemy. It is a matter for consideration whether the Admiralty should not have an improved form of oil tank, presumably something underground. Of course, it would be very expensive.

There is another point in this connection. We are now asked to lay out large sums of money all over the world. As the result of the Geddes Committee we have got to go slowly on oil storage. That is a most dangerous policy for the Navy. You may in what you are doing be crippling the Navy in future emergencies. If an emergency arose suddenly which made it necessary to send a British ship or squadron to some particular part of the world, there are places to which you would find it very difficult or almost impossible to send them or, at least, you could only send them steaming slowly so as to economise oil, and when they got there you would have to provide oil from oil tankers or something of that sort. To cut the Navy short of its fuel supply is to go to the very vitals of the Navy, which is a most dangerous thing. While you must spend as little money as possible there is a way in which you might get over the difficulty. There is a certain number of obsolete ships to be disposed of in the Navy. Could not some of these ships be adapted to be used as oil tanks? I do not know whether that is possible or not. I asked the same question last year, whether we could not, as a temporary measure only, adapt a certain number of obsolete ships for the storage of oil fuel.

It would have this further additional advantage. It may be that the strategic points selected for the erection of these new oil tanks, for which we are asked to vote money in this Vote, are not the very best in the light of developments in the immediate future. It may be after having put an oil tank in one place that we may wish it had been put in some other place. Ships used as floating oil tanks can be moved from one place to another, and they would bridge the gap until we had discovered a certain strategic disposition of the oil which was the best that could be wished for. While we go slowly in this matter we must not cut down the oil in the Navy. We have now an entirely oil-burning Navy, with the exception of some battleships in the Mediterranean, and even they use a certain amount of oil. To cut short the fuel supply is most dangerous. The suggested arrangement would fill in a temporary gap, and these ships would have the additional advantage of being mobile.

I wish now to refer to the mystery towers which have been referred to by the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy). I know them very well. After the Armistice the work went on on these two towers by night and day, and men were working overtime in continual shifts to get them completed. The Admiralty must have had some object in view when they were pushing this work through at great cost, for the overtime cost must have been terrefic. Now they have got them completed, and one is in use as a substitute for the Nab lightship. The other remains at Shoreham, to the disgust of the local inhabitants and anybody who has anything to do with the harbour. It is there as a monument of national waste. It is stated now that it is proposed to take it to pieces. An hon. Member suggested that it should be blown up. I do not think that he could have been at Shoreham or he would not have suggested that. The demolition of the structure, which is of reinforced concrete, would require a great deal of money. Why do the Admiralty not try to use it? Is it because they cannot get it out of the harbour now that it is built? If they got one out, why cannot they get out the other; and why cannot they use the second for the same purpose as the first, as a substitute for a lightship? I would ask the Admiralty to give a little detailed explanation about these mystery towers, because a great many people who have seen them think that they are a monument of waste. I accept the invitation of the hon. and gallant Gentleman in charge of this Vote, and I would ask him to scrutinise most carefully the expenditure of the dockyards. In connection with Pembroke, remember that the Navy is not a Poor Law relief service nor a political agency. Pembroke is not required for naval purposes, and it is a scandal that the Naval Vote should be saddled with what I regard as unjustifiable expenditure.

I should not have risen but for the fact that the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) moved to reduce the Vote by £1,000 because the Admiralty were going to complete the oil fuel storage accommodation at Jamaica. We discussed this matter very fully three years ago. I was one of those who urged the Admiralty to take the ships to which my Noble Friend has referred and to use them, but we were told conclusively that the upkeep of these vessels would be so great that it would be much cheaper for the Admiralty to have permanent tanks. My hon. and gallant Friend objects to Jamaica. He stated that in case of war with America we could not use it, and that if we were not at war with America we could get our oil from America. I am one of those who believe that we shall never be at war with America. I think that we are far too much moved by the same principles. We have too much in common for us ever to have war with America, but the United States does not own America. You have Canada and you have our possessions in the West Indies, and South America and I for one hope that our Fleet will annually visit large numbers of these ports in order to show that the British Empire is still ready to do its best and be in close touch with those countries. My hon. and gallant Friend seemed to think that Jamaica was of no importance, but Admiral Mahan has said that Jamaica is the great strategical point in the Carribean Sea. I hope that Jamaica will always remain a portion of the British Empire, and that our ships that are going to be propelled by oil will always be able to go there and replenish.

I wish to associate myself with all that has been said this afternoon on the question of scrutinising the expenditure on dockyards, but I wish to bring before the Committee the question of the expenditure on the dockyard at Devon-port or Plymouth—it makes very little difference. Someone said earlier in the day that the dockyard is called the Devonport Dockyard, but it was in the early clays called the Plymouth Dock- yard, and the Member for the Devonport Division of Plymouth (Sir C. Kinloch-Cooke) should be as gratified as the Member for the Drake Division of Plymouth (Sir A. S. Benn) to represent a town which, next to London, perhaps, is the most famous in the world. In every part of the world the name of Plymouth has been more frequently adopted than that of any other city. In America there are hundreds of towns which have taken the name of Plymouth, but it is to the Plymouth Dockyard to which I am making reference. Economy consists not merely in saving money, but in discrimination in spending money to the best advantage. In Devonport Dockyard for some time past it has been found necessary in the national interest to advocate an extension of the slip, if Devonport Dockyard was to be made equal to all the needs of the Navy, and last year, as a member of the Plymouth Corporation, and accompanied by a number of Plymouth and others Members of the House, I had an opportunity of putting before the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty the necessity not only for the expenditure included in these Estimates, but for the extension of the slip so that any ship might be built in one of these yards. The assurance was then given by the Parliamentary Secretary, with his usual courtesy, that the Devonport Dockyard was not to become simply a secondary dockyard, but the permanent policy of the Admiralty was to make Devonport Dockyard a real yard equal to all the needs of the Navy.

I would ask your ruling, Sir Edwin, on this point. Does not this matter come more particularly under Vote 8? If we start discussing what has not been done there will be no end.

On the point of Order. There was certain expenditure relating to extensions at. Plymouth Dockyard. I was hoping that it might be in order to say that these extensions were not sufficient.

I thought that the hon. Gentleman was going to develop that argument. He began by referring to items which are included in the Vote, and which seemed to be in order. Then he proceeded to get rather wide. The Minister in charge of the Vote rose to a point of Order, at a particular moment when the hon. Gentleman was out of order. But I have no doubt that the hon. Member will be able to make his point, and to say what he wants to say on the Vote before us.

If it were in order to discuss it on a subsequent Vote, I would more readily do so, but what I suggest here is that, having regard to the assurances that were given that the dockyard was to be made equal to all emergencies, might it not be possible to say that the millions of money which the nation has invested in the Royal yard should be utilised now that we are advocating economy, and that they cannot be utilised because neither Plymouth nor Devonport yard is equal to the building of the ships which we require at present for the Navy?

In view of your ruling, if it is in order on a subsequent Vote, I would rather reserve my remarks.

I will be very brief, as I wish merely to take exception to one or two small items. There is an item here for mosquito nets. I have been bitten by mosquitoes. When I was at sea we never asked for mosquito nets, and I do not think that they are at all necessary. There is Pembroke Dock. An hon. Member referred to the scandal of spending money there. I shall certainly vote with him for a reduction of the amount. Take Rosyth. There is a charge of £14,200 for the storage of gun mountings, and £3,000 is to be spent this year. I would like an explanation. It must be abvious that existing sheds and stores are ample for the storage of gun mountings.

I would like to associate myself with other hon. Members in congratulating the Civil Lord on the preciseness of his speech. At the same time I wish to take great exception to the underlying idea of his opening statement. As one listened to him one wondered whether there had been a pact of peace at Genoa, whether the Washington Conference was successful, and whether the League of Nations was to be a reality. The underlying idea of his speech was a comparison of the present Estimate with the pre-War standard. I suggest that the comparison to-day should not be with a pre-War standard, but between what the nation can afford and the realities of the situation. These Estimates have created profound disappointment amongst millions of people in this country. Take this particular Estimate of 4,000,000. If the Geddes Committee's recommendations had been adopted the Tea Duty alone could have been reduced by nearly 2d. a pound. The recommendations of that Committee were made by practical men. One of them was First Lord of the Admiralty during a serious period of the War, and he would not have put his name to that Report if he had been at all doubtful about letting the Navy down below the efficiency standard. The Civil Lord endeavoured to justify his Estimate but the Geddes Committee recommended that 11,000,000 should be sufficient for the continuation of works, repairs and maintenance. In the present Vote the sum is nearly £2,000,000.

On storage accommodation, for which £1,020,000 is asked in these Estimates, the Committee recommended that the whole policy of oil storage in distant portions of the globe should be reviewed by the Navy. I suggest that if the interests of the taxpayer and the reality of the present situation had been clearly before the Admiralty when these Estimates were framed, the amount of the Vote would have been very largely reduced. On this Vote last year several hon. Members moved a reduction on certain items. This afternoon the Civil Lord has told the Committee that they are not now proceeding on the works which were started last year, that they are going slowly in other directions that they have postponed the erection of accommodation which they had hoped to proceed with, and that they had cut down new works. When these Estimates were before the Committee last year the Government endeavoured to justify every item in the expenditure, and if I this afternoon endeavoured to go through certain items. I have little doubt that the spokesman of the Government would fully justify to the Committee each item page by page. I think it was the late Mr. Gladstone who laid down this particular constitutional point, that when the House wits anxious to challenge the policy of a Government it was unwise to enter into questions of administration. The Civil Lord supported by the Financial Secretary and by his naval colleagues at the Admiralty can no doubt make out quite a good case for every item in these large Estimates. But they have forgotten the larger issue—that the necessity of spending this large sum of money no longer exists, that the Geddes Committee is clearly of opinion that the Admiralty have not yet fully grasped or grasped in any degree the fact that the sum of money they are asking from the House is excessive and unnecessary.

Several hon. Members have drawn the attention of the Civil Lord to large items of expenditure. There are one or two I wish to indicate. New works are being erected at Aden, Bermuda and Ceylon for the storage accommodation of oil fuel. No money has yet been spent on the accommodation at Aden and Ceylon. If it he the universal desire among all classes of the community here, in Japan, in America and on the Continent that there can he no possible or no probable war for a considerable period of time., surely the clay has arrived when the precautions which were so necessary before the last War have become unnecessary.

The present Prime Minister told us in 1914 that that was the most favourable moment to reduce the expenditure on the Army and Navy, and said he was going to do it the next year. That shows how little people know what the future holds for us.

I am not a student of the speeches of the Prime Minister in 1914. I remember Debates of that time, and I remember taking an active part. in supporting the Government in Estimates Of £50,000,000 and arguing that the naval expenditure of 1914 was not excessive in comparison with our expenditure on social services during that year. But conditions have changed, and it is likely that wars will be impossible for years to come. These Estimates do not reveal that the realities of the situation have yet been grasped by the Admiralty. Take Rosyth as an example. The Committee is being asked to vote £223,000 for Rosyth. Was Rosyth so inefficient during the War that this large expenditure is necessary to-day? Surely if the present standard at Rosyth could stand the test of 4½ years of war in the North Sea, we might call a halt to a large expenditure of money this year. Take Singapore, £300,000. That involves further expenditure next year of £397,000 and further expenditure. in coming years. Reference has been made to the "Vernon," and the large expenditure this year on shore establishments in connection with that educational service. Take Glasgow, £140,000, for additional storage accommodation in that district. Gibraltar is the same, and Pembroke and Devonport. I suggest that, judged by the findings of the Geddes Committee, judged by the reality of the situation, judged by the extraordinary economic pressure which is being felt by millions throughout the country to-day, the Admiralty, having a real regard to the long and best interests of the Navy, are not justified in asking the Committee to vote this large sum of money.

There are some people who never remember anything. Let me point out to the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken what occurred in 1914. He says that he does not remember the speeches of the present Prime Minister. I shall not recall any speech of the Prime Minister, but a memorial signed by 100 Liberal Members of Parliament.

But 100 Members of the. hon. Gentleman's party signed it, and presented it to the Government in January, 1914, requesting that the expenditure on the Navy should be reduced. That shows the utter folly of attempting to eat down our fighting forces, either the Navy or in the Army. I am not saying that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty or the Civil Lord might not make certain economies. I do not know whether they could or could not. But a general and wholesale cutting down of the defensive forces of the Crown is absolutely suicidal and has been always wrong. Every single Member of the Radical party who in the years before the War voted for a reduction in the expenditure on Army and Navy stands convicted of having caused loss of life to an immense number of people, which life might have been saved if they had taken the patriotic course instead of endeavouring to reduce the duty on tea by 2d. and gaining a few votes from people who do not understand the subject. The hon. Gentleman says there may not be any war in the future. How does he know. It was only a few days ago that the Prime Minister at Genoa stated that the situation was extremely serious. I do not always attach much importance to the statements of the Prime Minister. No one knows whether or not there may he war.

Si vis pacem, para bellum.

That statement has been proved to be true throughout generations. Nothing could be more suicidal or foolish than to endeavour to cut down our defence forces. No one has realised more than I the necessity for economy, and no one has preached it more often than I have done. But there is a foolish economy and a wise economy, and it is a foolish economy so to reduce defensive forces that, should war unfortunately come, you have to spend millions in preparing, when you might have spent far less had your defensive forces been in proper condition. I leave out of consideration the advantage to the country of being disciplined.

I was answering the hon. Gentleman opposite, because I thought it was necessary to expose the fallacies with which he was attempting to enlighten the Committee.

I had no intention of intervening in the Debate, because the, subject in which I am more specially interested will come up for discussion when another Vote is before us. I will make only one comment on the speech of the hon. Member for Greenock (Sir G. Collins). I suppose that when his speech is reproduced in the newspapers to-morrow, he will be credited as an apostle of economy. But I wish to point out that in his whole speech there was not a single point of criticism which he attempted to prove. He spoke in general terms of extravagance and made a reference to the Geddes Committee, but he did not attempt to prove a single point that he tried to make. It is true he made reference to Rosyth, and if the rest of the speech is to be tested by the nature of his reference to Rosyth, I do not think it is a speech that will either do him much credit, or will be of much importance to this Committee. He asked, Did Rosyth fail us during the War? He also asked why, if it stood all the turmoil and all the storm and stress of four and a half years of War in the North Sea., we should spend money upon it to-day? Does he know anything about Rosyth? Does he know that Rosyth to-day, whatever may be its future, is still an incomplete dockyard? What its possibilities may be I cannot foretell. I do not profess to have any knowledge of strategy, but I do think a little common sense might be applied to discussions of this kind regarding Rosyth. Is the hon. Member for Greenock prepared to see Rosyth fall into disrepair? That would appear to be a strange idea of economy. We have there a dockyard, probably the best-equipped in the whole world, and because the Admiralty, after reducing the staff and reducing expenditure in every possible direction, propose to extend this comparatively small amount on necessary repairs in order to keep this dockyard up to date, my hon. Friend proceeds to lecture, the Committee upon the necessity for economy. I claim to be as much interested as he is in the question of economy and in the reduction of public expenditure, but I suggest that the criticisms which he offers too frequently might have some relevance to the facts and show some degree of proportion and perspective on his part. I shall take occasion on Vote A to deal more fully with Rosyth, merely remarking at this stage that it is impossible to overrate the importance of keeping this dockyard as far as possible in repair, because its possibilities for the future, commercially and otherwise, are very great and should not be lost sight of by the Government.

I do not propose to make a second speech, but I wish to correct a slip I made when I was moving the reduction. I intended to move the reduction in connection with the Pembroke Dockyard, and I said Jamaica by mistake. This is not a reduction on account of Jamaica but on account of Pembroke, which, I contend, has nothing to do with the efficiency of the Navy at all.

It is not easy to answer the hundred and one questions that are fired at one in the course of a Debate of this character, and I hope if I overlook any which have been put to me this evening the.hon. Members concerned will prompt me before I sit down. With regard to the speech made by the hon. Member for Greenock (Sir G. Collins), I think what he said about Rosyth has been adequately answered by the hon. Member for Dunfermline Burghs (Mr. J. Wallace). I only wish the Debate had gone on further, and I think most of the points which have been raised by hon. Members would have been answered by other hon. Members. The hon. Member for Greenock seemed to be very much down upon the Admiralty in general and on this Vote in particular. All I can say is that if every Department had done as well as the Admiralty, bearing in mind the increased expenditure, and had reduced their Estimates to only 26 per cent. above what they were before the War, nobody would have much to complain of in this country, and that is what we have done. The hon. Member went on to criticise, in a very hostile way, the scheme for supplying oil fuel tanks all over the world for the replenishment of our ships which have ceased to use coal and depend upon oil. If we do not have these tanks and oil fuel depots all over the world, it is no use having a Navy. You cannot move a Navy about without oil, and you might as well scrap the Navy altogether if you are not going to give it the means:)f moving about to whatever part of the world you require to send it. The hon. Member concentrated his attention on Aden, Bombay and Suez, and said we had not carried out the recommendations of the Geddes Committee. We have, however, done so, and we have cut down to a very large extent our requirements for oil fuel—so much so, that I think we have almost over-cut, but we certainly have cut down in many cases. We cannot, however, concentrate on cutting in these particular places because this is the most important route to the East, and I hope the Committee will not support the hon. Member in what he is seeking to do.

I now come to the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy). I will start at once on the subject of Pembroke Dockyard, and my remarks on this will answer other hon. Members who have spoken. It is quite true that for purely naval purposes we could do without Pembroke, but there are a good many other things to be looked at. Looked at from the national point of view, I do not think it would pay to close up Pembroke. There must be some give and take as between one Department and another in the matter of expenditure for national purposes. You cannot put the different items of expenditure into water-tight compartments. Pembroke is a place which has grown up with the Navy. It has got nothing else to depend upon, and it would be destitute if we turned away from it altogether. When we consider the compensation that must be paid, when we consider that we must look after the established men, and when we consider the out-of-work donations that would have to be paid, I do not know that the country would gain much financially by closing down this yard. Apart from that, work of a purely naval character is being done there which, if not done there, would have to be done somewhere else. It cannot be said we would save the whole amount suggested. We would save a certain amount in overhead expenses, but we would still have to meet the cost of the work and material. To come down to the particular point which has been mentioned, the only expenditure proposed is £1,600. Some hon. Members, have alluded to this as if it were something new. It is nothing of the sort. It is a very old continuation service and we see the end of it this year. We are keeping up Pembroke and we must keep it efficient for the work we want it to do. Further, I would remind hon. Members who wish us to get rid of Pembroke and to see it used one day for commercial purposes, that this expenditure will very much increase the value of Pembroke if ever it is used for those purposes.

The case of other dockyards has been gone into and I do not think I need say much about Rosyth. Rosyth we are keeping as a docking base and we have reduced the expenditure enormously because we are not going to have any repairs there. It is because of that I am able to come forward with proposals that show a very great reduction on what we should have had to spend on Rosyth if we used it as a repair base. The hon. Member for Dunfermline Burghs referred to it as an incomplete dockyard, but it never was a dockyard and it is not a dockyard now. Why it was not was because the party then in power, to which the hon. and gallant Member for Hull belongs, refused to spend any money upon it and that proved a very grave menace to us in the Navy when the War broke out.

They refused to continue it. The hon. and gallant Member went on to ask me about a motor garage at Portsmouth. He spoke of it as if it were a great expense. As a matter of fact we are pooling all the motor service and, as the hon. Gentleman knows, we are quite up to date in having adopted motors instead of other methods of transport. We want a place in which to keep our motors. At present they are rotting in a very inefficient shack and we are asking for this money to build another roof to cover them and protect them. I may inform the hon. Member that as a result of the use of motor transport we are saving £25,000 a year as compared with the old scheme and I think we can well afford to pay for this item. With regard to the "Vernon," it has been on the shore establishment for a very long time. I am not responsible for the "Vernon" ashore and I do not think the hon. Member was questioning the wisdom of building it. I knew the old "Vernon" very well. I went through several courses there myself, but unfortunately she is absolutely rotten through and through and it would cost infinitely more than this to put her right or to provide anything else floating to take her place. Although it may be nice, for old times' sake, to have your training establishment in a ship, it is not really up to date and it is not a sound economy. The establishment on shore may appear expensive now, but of course all building operations are expensive at present, and we are cutting down the cost to the utmost.

I think I am now left only with the MN scheme to deal with. I am very glad to be able once more to anticipate the wishes of hon. Members in regard to the question of the abolition of the towers. That is why we are asking for this particular amount of money. The MN scheme was one of the legacies of the War. Fourteen of these towers were left but only two were retained because they had gone to such an advanced stage that we thought we might as well see what could be made of them. The other 12 were demolished. One of these towers as has been pointed out, is in the position of the Nab Light and is being used as a lighthouse. It is also being used in carrying out some experiments, but I hope the Committee will not press me on that point. The tower at Shoreham has been one of the most difficult things with which we have had to deal. We have had meeting after meeting endeavouring to decide how to dispose of it. They will not have it any longer at Shoreham. We have done our utmost to sell it. We have done our utmost to use it for the purpose of giving people an opportunity of surveying the surrounding view. We have tried every means in our power and now we are asking for £17,000 to demolish it as it stands, and I hope we shall hear nothing more about it.

6.0 P.M.

Because it would cost something like £60,000 to get it anywhere. I sat on two or three committees dealing with this matter and I think we considered every possible way of disposing of it and found that this would be the cheapest. As to Jamaica which I think was the last point raised by the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull, he brought forward the question of America. This has nothing to do with the question of war with America or war with any country. This is a peace time requirement. It is only to replace coal, and the Fleet must fuel somewhere. In regard to the questions put by the hon. and gallant Member for Shettleston (Rear-Admiral Adair), the first question he asked was about mosquito nets at Bermuda. The medical branch have made very great strides on the question of malaria, and we wish to keep up to date as far as we can in the Navy in regard to these matters. We have had a report on the subject, and we think it is very necessary indeed that we should have this mosquito netting. The other point raised by the hon. and gallant Gentleman was the question of gun mountings at Rosyth, and he asked what these were. They are the guns and the gun mountings for supplying to merchant ships in time of war. At present they are lying all over the country, and a great many of them are deteriorating to an enormous extent and at great cost to this country. We have been in great difficulties in getting a store for these mountings. First of all, we thought of Morecambe, but that was too expensive, and then we thought of a disused airship shed at Howden, but when Rosyth was cut down it was a God-sent opportunity of getting a cheap store, and that is what we are doing. The amount we are asking for is a flea-bite compared with what I asked for last year for Morecambe, and so we have made a very great saving there.

My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Maidstone (Commander Bellairs) spoke of Wei-hai-wei and asked why we had a small expenditure of, I think, £500 there, as, owing to the result of the Washington Conference, we are going to hand it back to China. At present we are waiting for a Conference with China on the whole question of Wei-hai-wei and as to money transactions which will no doubt pass between us. I hope we shall have some saving to show there, but in the meantime the Chinese Government have given us permission to use Wei-hai-wei purely for a health and welfare resort. It has been a very great advantage to have somewhere to land ships' parties on that coast, and the money in this Vote a small amount that is going to be expended in that direction. The hon. and gallant Member also asked me about oil, and other hon. Members asked me about the defences for oil. The question of defences was never raised when we had coal, and all I am asking for is oil to replace coal for peace-time requirements. When it comes to war requirements and a strategical reserve, we shall no doubt have to have some protection for them, if indeed they will not be in places where there is some protection for them already. He also asked why we could not rely on mercantile supplies. The reason why we cannot do that is because the mercantile supply is infinitesimal compared with the needs of the British Navy. We want to build up a reserve, in case there is a war, without depending on any mercantile reserves, because we find, when the stress of war comes, that the mercantile people come to us for supplies instead of us going to the mercantile people, and in some places where we shall eventually want a strategical reserve it, is quite impossible to ask any mercantile firm to lock up the big amount they would have to lock up in tanks.

My Noble Friend the Member for South Battersea (Viscount Curzon) asked me about Chatham and Sheerness. Of course, we are using Chatham and Sheerness for small ships. He asked about dredging, and it is rather difficult to find out at a moment s notice with any degree of accuracy the cost of dredging, but I give him the figure of nearly £10,000 annual expenditure. With regard to the question of Port Edgar, most of the Noble Lord's criticisms were in regard to money in the Estimates, but here there is no money in the Estimates. Port Edgar is still being used for what it was built for, namely, a destroyer base, and I congratulate my Noble Friend on the fact that there is no expenditure required for Port Edgar.

I should not like to say that. I cannot answer that off-hand, as it is quite possible there is some money for dredging there, but we have got dredging lumped together. My Noble Friend asked if the question of cordite could be dealt with in combination with the Army. At present we have not come to any arrangement with the Army, chiefly because we really depend in the Navy on a much higher state of purity than in the Army. My Noble Friend will appreciate the imperative necessity of pure cordite for the safety of our ships, and it is so very important that we should have an absolutely pure cordite, that I have no hesitation in asking the Committee to pass the money for which we are asking in this Vote. All this money that we are spending is directed towards removing impurities, and if we do prevent impurities, it will save the country a lot of money in the long run. If anything is found to go wrong in a batch of cordite, the whole lot is scrapped at great expense, and if you can only get purity in cordite and keep out these little particles that form and set up heat in the cordite itself, a great deal of money can be saved. With regard to the coastguard station mentioned, I will certainly find out about that, but I can hardly believe it is true. We have gone into the whole coastguard question most carefully indeed, and I very much hope, although I will not say anything about it now, because a Committee is sitting, that the people who benefit by the great proportion of the coastguards will bear that proportion. I only hope that may be so, but I do not know what the Committee will report.

My Noble Friend suggested providing obsolete ships for oil instead of erecting tanks. All the arguments which can be directed against what have been called in the Committee the gasometer tanks by my Noble Friend and by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Molton (Mr. Lambert) apply equally, of course, to ships. They are one and all liable to attack from submarines or aircraft and we have arrangements in the tanks for retaining the oil if a tank is demolished. I do not want the Committee to run away with the idea that it is easy for these tanks to be set on fire as the oil that we use in the Navy is extremely difficult to set on fire. I do not think, whatever may happen, that aircraft have yet reached the extraordinary accuracy of aim that seems to alarm my right bon. Friend the Member for South Molton, which would make it impossible ever to put an oil tank above ground. We have put tanks below ground at Gibraltar, where we bored into the rock itself, but if we tried to do this everywhere it would cause enormous expenditure, and it would be quite impossible to do so, although, of course, it would be very much better. To go back to the question of obsolete ships, these ships are not adapted to hold oil, and we have to go through a very difficult process to make ships capable of holding oil. I have got figures which I will not go into now, but they show that to alter a ship for this purpose costs a very great deal. I think most of the

Division No. 117.]

AYES.

[6.20 p.m.

Adair, Roar-Admiral Thomas B S.Bromfield, WilliamDavies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)
Adamson, Rt. Hon. WilliamCairns, JohnEdwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)
Armitage, RobertCape, ThomasEdwards, G. (Norfolk, South)
Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert HenryChild, Brigadier-General Sir HillFinney, Samuel
Banton, GeorgeClynes, Rt. Hon. John R.Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.Galbraith, Samuel
Barnes, Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals)Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)Gillis, William
Barton, Sir William (Oldham)Conway, Sir W. MartinGraham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)
Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)Curzon, Captain ViscountGriffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)
Birchall, J. DearmanDavies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)Grundy, T. W.

other questions asked by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Molton have been answered in the course of my remarks, and the shore establishment question which he raised was answered very ably by my Noble Friend the Member for South Battersea, who followed me in the Debate and who explained that it was not possible to give any form of intensive training on board ship. The police houses at Rosyth are really at Bandeath, and I think he has made a mistake. He also referred to the question of the Metropolitan Police. Some time or other we are coming to the House with a scheme for substituting a much cheaper form of police. I think we shall have Marine pensioners, and that will save the country a great deal of money, although in some cases we must retain the Metropolitan Police. My right hon. Friend complained about the houses being built. Of course we shall want those houses, whoever forms the new police force, and these houses are being built to 'house the policemen who will protect the new ammunition centres.

I thank the hon. and gallant Gentleman for the very full answers he has given to all the questions, but it is not quite clear why £17,000 is required to break up these costly towers, or the one remaining now. Why did we go on with these after the Armistice, spending £1,000,000 on them, and then asking for another £17,000 for the purpose of undoing the work put into them?

We spent 1,000,000 on building two, and one, of course, is in use; but most of that money was spent in demolishing the other 12.

Question put, "That a sum, not exceeding £3,482,000, be granted for the said Service."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 87; Noes, 215.

Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)Lowther, Major C. (Cumberland, N.)Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser
Hall, F. (York, W. B., Normanton)Lyle-Samuel, AlexanderSutton, John Edward
Hallas, EldredMacdonald, Rt. Hon. John MurraySwan, J. E.
Halls, WalterMaclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian)Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)
Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)McMicking, Major GilbertThorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)
Hartshorn, VernonMacVeagh, JeremiahWalsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)
Hayday, ArthurMalone, C. L. (Leyton, E.)Waterson, A. E.
Hayward, EvanMolson, Major John ElsdaleWatts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D.
Hirst, G. H.Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.
Hodge, Rt. Hon. JohnMyers, ThomasWhite, Charles F. (Derby, Western)
Hogge, James MylesNewman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)
Holmes, J. StanleyParkinson, John Allen (Wigan)Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. w. (Stourbrdge)
Irving, DanRattan, Peter WilsonWintringham, Margaret
John, William (Rhondda, West)Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)Wolmer, Viscount
Johnstone, JosephRoberts, Frederick O. (W. Bromwich)Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)Robertson, John
Kennedy, ThomasRoyce, William StapletonTELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Kenyon, BarnetSmith, W. R. (Wellingborough)Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy and
Lambert, Rt. Hon. GeorgeSpoor, B. G.Major McKenzie Wood.
Lawson, John James

NOES.

Agg-Gardner, Sir James TynteGibbs, Colonel George AbrahamMarks, Sir George Croydon
Amery, Leopold C. M. S.Gilbert, James DanielMartin, A. E.
Armstrong, Henry BruceGilmour, Lieut.-Colonel sir JohnMatthews, David
Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick W.Glyn, Major RalphMiddlebrook, Sir William
Bagley, Captain E. AshtonGoff, Sir R. ParkMitchell, Sir William Lane
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. StanleyGould, James C.Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz
Balfour, George (Hampstead)Green, Albert (Derby)Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S.
Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)Moreing, Captain Algernon H
Barlow, Sir MontagueGreene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)Morrison, Hugh
Barnston, Major HarryGreenwood, William (Stockport)Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert
Bartley-Denniss, Sir Edmund RobertGregory, HolmanNeal, Arthur
Beckett, Hon. GervaseGreig, Colonel Sir James WilliamNewman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)
Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)Hacking, Captain Douglas H.Newson, Sir Percy Wilson
Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)Hailwood, AugustineNicholl, Commander Sir Edward
Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)
Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.Hayes, Hugh (Down, W.)Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)
Bramsdon, Sir ThomasHenderson, Lt.-Col. V. L. (Tradeston)Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)
Breese, Major Charles E.Hennessy, Major J. R. G.Nield, Sir Herbert
Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William CliveHills, Major John WallerNorman, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Henry
Briggs, HaroldHinds, JohnOrmsby-Gore, Hon. William
Broad, Thomas TuckerHoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.Pain, Brig.-Gen. Sir W. Hacket
Bruton, Sir JamesHohler, Gerald FitzroyParker, James
Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.Hood, Sir JosephPearce, Sir William
Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.Hope, Sir H. (Stirling & Cl'ckm'nn, W.)Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike
Butcher, Sir John GeorgeHope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)Pennefather, De Fonblanque
Carew, Charles Robert S.Hopkins, John W. W.Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray
Carr, W. TheodoreHopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)Pratt, John William
Carter, H. A. D. (Man., Withington)Hotchkin, Captain Stafford VerePurchase, H. G.
Casey, T. W.Hudson, R. M.Raeburn, Sir William H.
Cautley, Henry StrotherHume-Williams, Sir W. EllisRees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, East)
Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)Hunter, General sir A. (Lancaster)Renwick, Sir George
Cheyne, Sir William WatsonHunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir AylmerRichardson, Sir Alex, (Gravesend)
Chilcot, Lieut.-Com. Harry W.Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)
Clough, Sir RobertInskip, Thomas Walker H.Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)
Cohen, Major J. BrunelJackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)
Colvin, Brig.-General Richard BealeJephcott, A. R.Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)Jesson, C.Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)
Cope, Major WilliamJodrell, Neville PaulRobinson, Sir T. (Lanes, Stretford)
Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)Rodger, A. K.
Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund
Dawson, Sir PhilipJones, J. T (Carmarthen, Llanelly)Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Dewhurst, Lieut.-Commander HarryKellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk, GeorgeSamuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Doyle, N. GrattanKidd, JamesSassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.
Du Pre, Colonel William BaringKing, Captain Henry DouglasScott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)
Edge, Captain Sir WilliamKinloch-Cooke, Sir ClementScott, Sir Samuel (St. Marylebone)
Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)Larmor, Sir JosephSeddon, J. A.
Edwards, Hugh (Glam., Neath)Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)Seely, Major-General Rt. Hon. John
Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)Sharman-Crawford, Robert G.
Evans, ErnestLindsay, William ArthurShaw, William T. (Forfar)
Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.Lister, Sir R. AshtonShortt, Rt. Hon E. (N'castle-on-T.)
Falcon, Captain MichaelLloyd, George ButlerSimm, M. T.
Falle, Major Sir Bertram GodfrayLloyd-Greame, Sir P.Smith, Sir Malcolm (Orkney)
Fell, Sir ArthurLorden, John WilliamSmithers, Sir Alfred W.
FitzRoy, Captain Hon. Edward A.Lowther, Maj.-Gen. Sir C. (Penrith)Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)
Foot, IsaacLoyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)Stanton, Charles Butt
Forestier-Walker, L.Lyle, C. E. LeonardSteel, Major S. Strang
Forrest, WalterMacdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.
Fraser, Major Sir KeithMackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachie)Stevens, Marshall
Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.Stewart, Gershom
Gange, E. StanleyMacpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.Strauss, Edward Anthony
Ganzoni, Sir JohnMagnus, Sir PhilipSturrock, J. Leng
Gee, Captain RobertManville, EdwardSugden, W. H.

Sykes, Sir Charles (Huddersfield)Wallace, J.Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)
Taylor, J.Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir John TudorWood, Sir J. (Stalybridge & Hyde)
Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)Walton, J. (York, W. R., Don Valley)Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward
Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)Yeo, Sir Alfred William
Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham)Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)Young, E. H. (Norwich)
Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)Weston, Colonel John WakefieldYoung, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)
Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)White, Col. G. D. (Southport)Young, W. (Perth & Kinross, Perth)
Thorpe, Captain John HenryWilliams, C. (Tavistock)Younger, Sir George
Tickler, Thomas GeorgeWilloughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. ClaudTELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Tryon, Major George ClementWinterton, EarlColonel Leslie Wilson and Mr.
Waddington, R.Wise, FrederickMcCurdy.

Original Question put, and agreed to

Wages, Etc, Of Officers, Seamen, And Boys, Coast Guard, And Royal Marines

Motion made, and Question proposed,

"That a sum, not exceeding £12,926,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Expense of Wages, etc., of Officers, Seamen, and Boys, Coast Guard, and Royal Marines, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1923, in addition to a sum of £2,930,000 to be allocated for this purpose from the sum of £12,000,000 voted on account of Navy Services generally."

This is the. Vote for wages and personnel, and I may say at once that, of course, I am not making any sort of suggestion that the wages of the personnel of the Navy should be reduced. I would here like to put in a caveat to the Geddes Committee's report on economy. I would suggest that to put together the lodging and the fuel allowances and count them as wages of the officers without taking into account the fact that the officers and men of the Navy have got to keep up a home on shore as well as a home on board ship; to compare these wages with those of civil servants is simply absurd and ridiculous. One of the points not remembered in appraising the wages of the officers and men of the Royal Navy is the fact that they have to keep up a home on board ship and to provide for their families, very often miles away from the home base of their ships, and then they have, in addition, travelling expenses. My criticisms, therefore, are not in any way directed towards the very meagre pay, as I still consider it, of the officers and men of the Fleet.

Might I on this Vote ask for some further details of the proposals of the Admiralty for reducing the personnel? That it must be reduced is obvious, owing to the various circumstances with which we are well acquainted. Obviously, too, many proficient and excellent officers and many gallant and trustworthy men will have to be retrenched. We have a right, I think, to say to the Admiralty that the officers who are to go must be treated fairly. I should like to draw the attention of the Committee in connection with this to the proposals of the Admiralty as to retiring officers on the reports made by their captains, and in particular to that extraordinary order about officers who will have to be retired compulsorily owing to peculiarities of temper. [A laugh.] It may be a matter of amusement to many people and to those who do not happen to be among the officers to be picked out. But it must be remembered that these are officers against whom no charge of misconduct has been brought; because, however, of some alleged peculiarity of temper they have to go. I am afraid that in some cases there may be a danger that officers who are a little out of the ordinary, and who are rather blessed with too much initiative, may get at logger-heads with their superiors on perfectly honest differences of opinion—may be picked out while in reality they are very valuable officers indeed. If at any time they get an adverse report they will be compulsorily retired, lose in a pecuniary sense, and get their actual career cut short. This is a right of the Admiralty which should be hedged about by safeguards, which have always in the past existed for naval officers. There has always been the safeguard of a court-martial so that an officer might be tried by his peers. Now that the Admiralty claim absolutely autocratic power to say that this or that man is unsuitable by reason of peculiarities of temper—whatever that may mean—the man should have the right of appeal. This power to clear a mean out of the Service is an autocratic power which no Government Department ought to have. I would ask the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Amery) to explain what is the exact procedure in this matter?

In answer to a question he has stated that the report of one captain will not be sufficient to enable the Admiralty to dispense with an officer. But is there going to be an appeal of any sort? Will the officer concerned have any warning before being cleared out of the Service? Will he be given the opportunity to see the report on which the decision of the Admiralty is based? This is a matter of vital importance. So long as officers have this threat hanging over their heads they will be unsettled and uncertain and will not be able to do their best for the Service. I am reminded that the War Office have this power, but it is no sort of defence to say that the War Office have this power. They have this power to clear a man out on adverse reports, and I believe I am not far wrong in saying there have been many cases in which these powers have been used by the War Office in an unfair manner.

I am rather doubtful how far the observations of the hon. and gallant Gentleman are relevant to this Vote. So far as the retirement of officers is concerned, and analogous circumstances, they come, I think, on subsequent Votes if the hon. and gallant Gentleman is dealing with the general policy of the Admiralty. That must come on Vote 12, but must not go further. I am unwilling to stop the hon. and gallant Member, but I am doubtful about him raising that on this Vote.

My point is, Mr. Hope, that this is a Vote for wages, the total of which the Admiralty propose to cut down, and there will be many officers and men less by exercising these powers of getting rid of the officers automatically. I am asking for details and not for an explanation of policy at all. However, I have finished my questions which were only to request that some further details might be given that would enable us to see how things lie.

I just want to ask another question as to the number of officers, and I wish particularly to ask how it is that, when we are retrenching officers and men at one end of the scale—when we are cutting down the personnel of the Navy—that actually we have more seamen and boys in training for the Navy this year than we had last year? Last year we had 3,500 seamen and boys in training. This year we had 4,393. Yet we are cutting down personnel! I have always done my best, I hope, to fight for the rights of the men and officers of the Service who are being retrenched, and to see that they get decent treatment, but to bring in these young lads in such excessive numbers seems to me to be an extraordinary policy. Here we are with more men than the Navy needs! They are having to be cut down, yet we have more than 1,000 boys in training than last year. It is very extraordinary. We are getting rid of excellent men against whom nothing is alleged, men who are perfectly efficient and well trained, yet we are training more boys than ever? What is to be their fate in a couple of years' time when they have become ordinary seamen? Will the Admiralty get rid of them in order to cut down the personnel?

What applies to the boys applies also to the cadets. The figures are given on page 13 of the Estimates, where it will he seen that we are training no less than 506 naval cadets at a time when something like 1,400 of these ranks have been got rid of. [An HON. MEMBER: "Eighteen hundred!"] Eighteen hundred executive officers, including young fellows about 23 and 24. A young friend of mine has just got his orders, having just finished his first commission as a lieutenant. He is going, yet we are training 506 naval cadets. Last year we trained, it is true 624. There is a reduction, but I question very much whether this number of cadets is required. When I was in the Britannia 20 years ago we had only 240 cadets. We have now twice as many cadets being trained to-day after the Great War in which our Navy stands supreme, and is paying the penalty of having to be cut down. I am afraid many of these cadets will not get very far in their naval career, for they will have to be cut down because of a swollen personnel. It is exceedingly bad economy. It would be much better to reduce the recruiting of the boys and to cut down the entries of cadets, and live upon the personnel you have now trained, which is efficient, ready, and have had experience in the Great War. You have an excessive body of young fellows. They can go on as lieutenants, lieutenant-commanders and commanders for some years. It is very false economy to get rid of these trained seamen, but that is what is being done! It is a mistake to spend much money on the training of schoolboys and passing them into the service in which promotion will be blocked, and many of them may have to be compulsorily retired. I am afraid that in the whole matter there has not been very much co-ordination—that blessed word. Co-ordination has not been properly exercised. One Department of the Admiralty seems to have taken every sort of means to clear the Navy lists of officers and to get rid of blue-jackets, stokers, and marines, while another Department have been busy entering them in greater numbers than last year. Some explanation of this is required. I do not propose to move a reduction of the Vote, but I would ask the hon. Gentleman opposite for some explanation of this extraordinary state of things.

Perhaps it would be convenient to my hon. Friend opposite if I put one or two questions. What I specially wish to draw the attention of the Committee to is the recommendation of the Geddes Committee in regard to the home commands, and to acknowledge the partial application by the Government of that recommendation. It might interest the Committee if I very briefly indicate what the Committee recommended. The Committee says:

"We are by no means satisfied that for all practical purposes the whole command ashore in this country could not be exercised by one Commander-in-Chief, and we suggest that there should be a special investigation upon this point, especially having regard to the reductions in personnel recommended."
Then they go on to say:
"We do recognise"—
as we all do—
"that the popularity of a Service requires a few positions of dignity"—
in the way of persons in attendance on them. But they point out at the end of this particular paragraph:
"Roughly a staff of about 20 officers costing £17,000 per annum has a retinue costing slightly more to wait upon it. We suggest that an economy in such a matter 'at the top of the Service'"—
and I would direct especially the attention of the Committee to this—
"would set an example for similar economies elsewhere"
Then if hon. Members will turn to the Appendix (F. 1)—page 45—they will see what the authorised retinues are. The list is an amazing one. It starts with the Chief of Staff and goes down through the maintenance captain, war-staff officer, and so on, to the chief or first writer, second writer, and petty officer (coxswain)—a total staff of 123. What I should like to ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman particularly is this, that while he has abolished the Scottish command and also the Western approaches command there are three left. Naturally he has begun at, the bottom and abolished the two smaller commands. What I want to know is whether in the retinues of the commands which are left he has made many cuts and what reductions, if any, are made in the commands which are left in the way of numbers or of pay. I should imagine that what might be necessary or indeed useful in war time, or when there is a danger of war, is not a necessary retinue in times of peace. To what extent have these retinues been reduced since the War, and what reductions, if any, have been made since the recommendations of the Geddes Committee? I should also like to know what reductions the hon. and gallant Gentleman proposes to make in the immediate future.

I beg to move, that Item II (Marriage Allowance) be reduced by £100.

I do so in order to call attention to the failure of the Admiralty to make any allowance for married officers. The officers of the Army, the non-commissioned officers of the Army, and the officers of the Air Force all receive a marriage allowance. All the men of the Fleet receive a marriage allowance, and the only officers in the three great forces who do not receive a marriage allowance are the officers of the senior Service. It is on these officers that the prosperity of the Navy and the safety and security of this country is based, and I do not think it requires more than a mere statement of the fact to show this injustice.

I believe it is a fact that the Admiralty did propose to put into the Vote an amount necessary to provide a marriage allowance in the Navy, but more powerful people were at work, and the Treasury cut down the scheme. I want to emphasise and make it clear to the Admiralty that, although this House does not wish to increase in any possible way expenditure on unnecessary subjects, it realises that when the officers of all other Services are receiving this allowance, it is unfair to the officers of the senior rank to be the only officers not in receipt of this allowance.

I wish to say that this phrase, "Retinue of the Commander-in-Chief," is exceedingly misleading.

As this Amendment has been moved, the particular point of the marriage allowance must be disposed of before we begin to discuss the Vote as a whole. The hon. and gallant Admiral must confine his speech now to the question of the marriage allowance.

I have been an advocate of this marriage allowance for the last three years, and I have strenuously endeavoured to obtain it for the married officers of the Navy, who, in my opinion, are most unfairly treated as compared with any other branches of the Service. I believe this provision was actually included in this year's Estimates, but that it was afterwards struck out. I think that was a gross piece of injustice, and I must tell the Parliamentary Secretary that I am going to press this matter in the hope of getting this provision put into next year's Estimate.

I wish to support what the hon. and gallant Member for Plymouth (Sir B. Falle) has said on the subject of the marriage allowance for officers. There are few questions which have really rankled amongst the officers of the Navy so much as this question of the marriage allowance. It is not understood by the officers of the Navy why an officer in the Army and the Air Force should have a marriage allowance while the same is denied to the officers of the Navy. The naval officer has to pay his mess hills on board, and he has also to keep up his home on shore. It is quite true that their pay was raised, but I think the Admiralty realise that their position is very difficult to-day. I feel sure, from such information as I have, that the Admiralty are entirely on the side of these officers, and this proposal has only been turned down in the interests of national economy.

It is true that under the present scheme the scale of pay must be revised in 1924, and it may be that in the present financial state of the country it will not be possible for the Admiralty to grant this long-needed reform, but when 1924 does come, I hope the whole question of naval pay will be gone into, and I can assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman in charge of the Vote that there is no question which presses more upon married officers than this. There are many cases which I could bring to the notice of the Admiralty of the wives of naval officers who are in most difficult and almost desperate circumstances. I do not believe that the Members of this Committee have any idea how difficult it is, owing to the high cost of living, for some of the wives of the naval officers to keep their homes going and provide an education for their children on the pay which their husbands are receiving. I hope we shall receive some explanation from the hon. and gallant Gentleman as to why the recommendations of the Grand Fleet Committee have not been adopted. We want an assurance that at the earliest possible moment this subject will be re-opened, and I hope it is not to be regarded as a book closed definitely and for ever against the naval officers.

I think I might as well answer at once on this question. I can assure the hon. and gallant Admiral and the Noble Lord, who has just spoken, that this is certainly not a closed book, and that we hope as soon as conditions permit to raise again the particular position of the Navy as a whole, and the general question of principle, which underlies the Amendment which has been moved by my hon. Friend, I should like, however, to draw a distinction between the principle of granting a marriage allowance at all, and the question whether officers in the Senior Service are at this moment at a disadvantage as compared with the officers in the other Services which have been referred to. I would remind the Committee that the principle of marriage allowance, of payment to a man not in accordance with the value of his work to the State but in accordance with his domestic needs is a very new one, and new since the War. It was quite strange to the Naval Service before the War.

I must remind the Committee that when this question came up at the end of the War, the Grand Fleet Committee were in favour, as the other Services were, of a marriage allowance. But on this question of giving the marriage allowance, the Halsey Committee, a committee of serving sailors, came to the opposite conclusion, and, supported by the Admiralty of that day, they definitely decided that it was not in the interests of the Naval Service to have pay with a separate marriage allowance, but that the pay should be such as to enable any officer, when he came to the ordinary age for assuming domestic responsibility, to be able on his pay to keep a family, and from that point of view the rates of pay were steepened up very sharply.

7.0 P.M.

I will develop that argument later. They then took the view that an inclusive pay was the right one, and the Admiralty of that day agreed on that basis. The Cabinet had to arrive at a fair allotment as between the different services, and they fixed the pay accordingly. Corresponding ages in matters of domestic responsibility are the main test, and when the case of the married naval officer was taken into account he was better off than the corresponding married officer in the military service, and the bachelor naval officers were very much better off. Certain considerations altered that situation within the next few years. One was the increase in the cost of living, in consequence of which the allowance granted to married Army officers went up, but the pay of the Navy did not go up. There was a fresh consideration which, I think, was overlooked at the time at which the Cabinet fixed the pay for the different Services. It was that while the marriage allowance was not subject to Income Tax, the consolidated rate of pay was subject to Income Tax, and in view of the rate of Income Tax the naval officer therefore was some what worse off. When I dealt with this matter last summer I made it clear to the Committee that, on the general question of principle, the Admiralty had definitely come round to the opinion held by the Noble Lord the Member for South Battersea (Viscount Curzon) and the hon. and gallant Member for Shettleston (Rear-Admiral Adair). We now hold the view that the principle of the marriage allowance is a sound one, and I would say myself that it applies more and is more needed in the Naval Service than in any other. I also had to make it clear that to adopt the principle wholeheartedly would involve a complete recasting of the terms of naval pay which, in fairness to the unmarried officers now in the Service, we could not undertake until 1924. We also felt that the changes that had come about in respect of the increased allowances to married officers in the Army, and the very heavy burden of Income Tax, created a situation which justified the consideration whether an interim and smaller marriage allowance might not be given to the married officers in the Navy pending the consideration of the whole question of the principle.

It is quite true, as the Noble Lord said, that in our proposals in July last we did include a sum of £400,000 for such an interim and modified small marriage allowance, but the Geddes Committee and the Government, in view of the very serious financial situation of the country, felt it was not possible to add this extra addition to the cost of the Navy at this moment, when right through the country so many other classes of people were being asked to make heavy sacrifices. There is, at any rate, this consideration relevant to the issue. The cost of living has fallen appreciably in the last few months, and the Income Tax, which was one of the reasons which caused the Navy to be relatively worse off than the Army as compared with the situation when these rates of pay were fixed, has been reduced somewhat, and makes a difference as between 2s. 9d. and 2s. 4d. a day to the officers. The Army rates of allowance have also gone down somewhat. In view of all these considerations, although we put this case forward believing it to be desirable and equitable to do something for the married officers pending a revision, I do not believe it will be possible, in view of the national position, to press this year for this particular concession. We certainly do not regard this question of the marriage allowance, however, as a door which is closed for all time.

I am exceedingly glad to hear that this is not a closed matter, and I certainly should not have allowed it to remain closed. There are two or three points which ought to be mentioned in connection with the consolidated pay referred to by the Parliamentary Secretary which he has omitted to mention. The rates of pay were bedrock sums fixed by the Committee, and agreed to by the Admiralty on several conditions. The first was that the Service rate of Income Tax only was charged, that is about one-half of the ordinary rate. The second condition was that the children's allowance should be continued pending further consideration; that meant a considerable allowance for married men. The third condition was that the passages of all wives going abroad should be paid. I only mention these considerations because they have been omitted this evening, and they ought to be remembered. I am not going to vote for this Amendment, but I shall raise the question of the marriage allowance later on when next year's Estimates are approaching.

I listened with great interest to the statement of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty. I think perhaps he would have been a little more courteous had he waited until one had had an opportunity of speaking before making his statement. Seeing that I have had other duties to attend to this afternoon I have not been able to speak earlier. I cannot say that I was impressed with the hon. Gentleman's statement. We have heard it made on many occasions, because this question of the marriage allowance is no new one, either to the Committee or to the House. It has been before the Committee and the House not only on the Naval Estimates but throughout the last few years. The hon. Gentleman has always made the same speech and said the same thing, only to-night he has said it a little bit better than he has done before. The question of the marriage allowance is a very important one for the officers in the Royal Navy. As hon. Members have said, there is clearly one law for the Army and another for the Navy. Why should a man in the Army be allowed to be married while apparently a man in the Navy is not allowed to be married? That is what it comes to. This matter was very fully discussed so far as the Army was concerned about two years ago by the present Secretary of State for War, when he laid it down that the Government recognised marriage amongst officers in the Army, they wished the officers to be married, and would do what they could to assist them when they were married by giving them an allowance and permitting their children also to have an allowance. If that is done for the Army why should it be denied to the Navy?

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty has tried to make out a case, but I fail altogether to see any reason in what he said. He has not at all disturbed my speech, because I fully recognise that if the army man is married the naval man should be also. If one is married there are children, and the question of the children's allowance is very important, and is so regarded by the men in the Navy. What has happened? Not only has the marriage allowance been reduced, but the children's allowance has been taken away. That is most unfair. In addition to its being taken away, a recommendation of a very important Committee has been set aside. That Committee recommended that the children's allowance should be continued if the marriage allowance were taken away. The Government have taken away both allowances, and the result is that the married naval officer has got nothing, whereas the married army officer has got everything.

Only in August of last year we had a Debate on this subject, and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty then stated that he would give a temporary marriage allowance. We had been looking forward to the temporary marriage allowance, but not only has that not been given, but the whole allowance has been wiped out because of the recommendations of the Geddes Committee. There were many recommendations in regard to the Admiralty by the Geddes Committee; have they all been recognised? Why, then, should this one be recognised? It is a very small economy, and ought never to have been agreed to. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty, in trying to put this decision on to the Geddes Committee, is, in my opinion, endeavouring to get rid of a difficulty which he ought himself to face. I regret very much that this sum of money has been struck out of the Naval Estimates, and I sincerely hope that it will be restored without delay.

I am perfectly certain that the Committee would not wish the naval officer to be treated worse than the army officer or the air officer. I do not think the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty gave us figures to show whether the charges made with some emphasis by the Noble Lord the Member for South Battersea (Viscount Curzon) and the hon. and gallant Member for Shettleston (Rear-Admiral Adair) were true in fact. If they were true in fact, there must be something wrong about the fixing of the salary of the naval officer. He is certainly entitled to as good treatment as the air officer or the army officer; there can be no question about that. So long as there is inequality in pay there is bound to be a grievance. I would ask my hon. Friend whether it would not be possible, under these circumstances, to have a meeting of the Admiralty, the War Office and the Air Ministry to endeavour to co-ordinate the allowances and the salaries, so that there could be no question of grievance? I am quite certain that the House and the country would not wish the naval officer, who served us gallantly in the War and on whom we have to rely as our first line of defence, to be placed in a worse position than the army officer.

The Debate so far has been carried on by naval experts or by hon. Members who represent naval constituencies. I am the last person who would wish to do any harm to the naval officer or rating or to be unfair to him. I think it rather strange, however, that at the present moment hon. Member after hon. Member should suggest that we should add what I understand to amount to £400,000 to this year's Estimates. The disclosures of the fact that the Admiralty in July last had set down £400,000 for a scheme of this kind shows that it was about time that the Geddes Committee was appointed to go into the Estimates. I do not suggest that the arguments which have been used are not perfectly fair, but I think the present moment, when the cost of living is going down and taxation is so high, is not the time to right such a grievance and to lay large sums on the Exchequer. I should be the last to say that on any future occasion the Navy should never have this grievance righted, but whilst taxation is as it is to-day there can be no prospect of putting the matter before the House of Commons. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty suggested that one of the grievances of the naval officer and the naval rating was that he had to pay such heavy taxation. Is it any wonder, with the schemes originated by the Admiralty and by other Departments, and with the waste going on in the other Departments that we have to pay such heavy taxation? If you are going to provide schemes of this sort, however laudable they may be, I see no prospect of reducing taxation. If you are going to give increased pay you will increase taxation. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary one day to right this grievance, but I do hope he will not do it while the taxpayers have much worse grievances which remain to be righted.

I will just answer in a few words the question put by my right hon. Friend opposite. He asked me for the position in actual figures. I will give it in a sentence. Taking 30 as the average age at which a man marries, between the ages of 30 and 38, and over the whole of those nine years with the present marriage allowance for the Army and the Income Tax, the married naval officer is £290 worse off than the married Army officer. For the rest of his service the position is about level. On the other hand, over the whole of his career the unmarried naval officer is better off than the unmarried Army officer by a sum of £3,400. We should be only too ready to come to an agreement with the other Services at once to equalise that situation by putting a married naval officer on a marriage allowance comparable with that of the Army officer, but we could only do that by some reduction in the case of the unmarried naval officer. We are under a definite pledge to those who have been in the Navy since the scheme of 1919 was introduced not to alter their rates of pay until 1924. I am afraid I could not ask the unmarried naval officers to forego their rights in order to make things easier for their married colleagues. There might be a temporary concession in the way of a small increased marriage allowance if the exigencies of the financial situation permitted, and, at the first possible moment, we shall enter into con- sultation between the two Departments with a view to bringing about a more satisfactory arrangement.

After the statement of the hon. Gentleman, I beg to ask leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Original Question again proposed.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean) asked a few questions on this Vote, and I simply rise to invite the Parliamentary Secretary to give an answer to those questions.

I want to return to one or two other questions which I imagine are covered by this Vote. I would like to ask whether I may refer, in the course of my few remarks, to the special treatment of officers under the head of "Peculiarities of Temperament," which was referred to by the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy). I am not sure whether I shall be in order in speaking about it now.

The item is presumably regulated by the number of officers and men trained in the Navy. It is apparently intended to get rid of certain naval officers on certain grounds stated in the Admiralty Fleet Order, and that might affect some of the items mentioned here.

I will not discuss it, then. But may I say that I think it is a most dangerous Order, capable of infinite abuse. The naval officer will have no appeal whatever. The Fleet Order is differently worded from the Army Order. Perhaps the hon. and gallant Gentleman will bear that in mind. The Order really is not understood in the Navy. Why are the words "Peculiarity of temperament" used? However, I should like to refer to the question of special retirements in the Navy. The Navy has had this sword of Damocles hanging over its head for a very considerable time. They have been anxiously waiting, and so, too, have the men of the lower deck, to know what is going to happen to them. I should like to ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman with what success the Order has met so far. I gather that, possibly except in the captain's rank, very few officers are putting in for the special retirement. No fewer than 1,835 have to go before the 31st March next year. Here we have an appalling problem of selection, and it will be an infinitely difficult one for the Admiralty. I hope when the Admiralty come to consider it they will have regard principally to the needs of the Service and not solely to the personal advantage or disadvantage of the officers concerned. I think it is considered generally by naval officers that, on the whole, the proposal is a fair one, but I want to direct the attention of my hon. and gallant Friend to the case of the young commander, the man with four or five years' seniority. His position may be very difficult under that scheme.

Then I will not discuss it now. May I refer to the number of flag officers. Am I entitled to do so? I mean the number of flag officers now in commission. I should like to ask my hon. and gallant Friend what steps the Admiralty are taking to effect a real economy in the senior ranks of the Navy. We have seen, as a result of the Geddes Report, that the Admiralty action will affect the Commander-in-Chief on the coast of Scotland who is to disappear and also the Commander-in-Chief at the Western Approaches. The Commander-in-Chief on the coast of Scotland is still shown on the Navy List. Is he still there or not? The same observations apply to the Commander-in-Chief on the Western Approaches. The latter appointment is now apparently held by a Vice-Admiral. Why a Vice-Admiral? Why not an officer of more junior rank? Now I come to the other squadrons. Take the China Squadron. There you have a squadron of four cruisers and that squadron has as senior officer no less than a full Admiral. That is shown on the May Navy List. I believe another appointment has been made and that the officer relieving him is a Vice-Admiral.

I ask the hon. Gentleman to remember this, that in all probability there will be very little opportunity in the future for the officers of the Vice-Admiral rank. They will have little opportunity to take part in any future war in which the Navy may be concerned. In another ten years all these Vice-Admirals will be out of it. The officers in the Vice-Admirals rank had their fling in the late War and they played a splendid part in it. I hope the Admiralty are doing everything possible to avoid stagnation of promotion. They can only do it by beginning at the top and by getting the younger officers on. They must give them the high commands. I should like to ask the hon. and gallant Member with particular reference to the China Squadron, was it not possible, instead of a Vice-Admiral being sent out for the appointment to have been given to a Rear-Admiral. I know what the answer will be. It will be of course that as the French or the Japanese or the Americans have a Vice-Admiral there we must also have an officer of the same rank. But I think that argument is entirely wrong. It is always possible for the Admiralty to give an officer acting rank with the necessary seniority. At any rate they should do every thing they can to get the junior officers on.

I now come to the question of the Royal yachts I believe they are to be reduced in number. Apparently there is to be only one and I should like to ask if it is still intended to keep a Rear-Admiral for one Royal yacht? These are appointments where the Admiralty could realise certain economies—economies which at the same time would benefit the Service. I am most anxious to see the junior officers have an opportunity for advancement. Here I should like to refer to the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Central Hull. I took down what he said for the sake of greater accuracy. He asked, "Why not live on your personnel?" I cannot imagine a. thing which would be worse for the Navy than that. You have got to try to get back to the naval point of view of naval training. You have to get back to pre-War conditions as soon as you can, both in the interests of national economy and of the Navy itself, and you will never do that until you get the normal flow of promotion. You will have to face this special position. It will be faced by the officers concerned with courage, resignation and fortitude. They fully realise the national emergency which exists. I did not at all like the remarks made just now by the hon. Member for Thanet (Mr. E. Harmsworth). They were almost an insult to the Navy. Naval officers fully realise the position of the country. The naval officer does not want to go, but he is ready to accept the reduction which must undoubtedly be made and I hope that this reduction will have the effect of stimulating the flow of promotion. I hope, too, we shall not see again what occurred in January this year when there was no less than four months' delay before any officer of the temporary commander's rank was promoted. It is true that the promotions when made were dated back, but such delays undoubtedly have a very depressing and enervating effect on the minds of the naval officers affected, and may also have a very serious effect on the Navy. T hope when the Admiralty come to consider the flow of promotion that sort of thing will not occur again.

I should like, in conclusion, to make a reference to the Report of the Geddes Committee which was referred to by the right hon. Member for Peebles (Sir D Maclean). The Geddes Committee, on the subject of personnel recommended great reductions by takingpro rata figures. They divided up the Navy into four groups: Group 1, fighting ships; Group 2, depot ships; Group 3, minelayers, and Group 4, minesweepers. It was said, because the Admiralty could make a certain reduction in Group 1 it could also makepro rata reductions in all the other groups. I cannot imagine a more fallacious way of arriving at the actually required strength of the personnel of the Navy. If there is one lesson which, among a great many, the Navy learned as a result of the recent War, it was this. Before the War there were practically no minelayers and no minefields. There were no sloops or gunboats. How possibly can you go back to the figures of 1914? You will have to revise the figures of 1914, but you cannot say that because it is possible in a particular branch of the Service to make a reduction on the figures for 1914, therefore you must make a proportionate reduction on the 1914 figures for the larger ships. I believe the Admiralty maintain, and I think they are right in maintaining, that the Geddes Committee did not fully appreciate the position when they made that recommendation. It is true that they say that they took the Admiralty figures, but I think they did not consider them with a full understanding of what was involved. I consider that their recommendations with respect to reductions in the personnel of the Navy were fallacious, and that, if carried out, they would be dangerous. I hope the Admiralty will stick to their guns in this matter, and, while not shutting the door to further possible economies, will not economise on the lines recommended by the Geddes Committee.

I agree with a good deal that has fallen from the Noble Lord the Member for South Battersea. (Viscount Curzon). With regard to the inducements offered to officers to retire from the Service, I agree that they are generally regarded as being favourable, and one hopes that they will be largely adopted, and that there will be a good number of retirements from the Service in consequence of the very excellent system which has been instituted. It is necessary, in the interests of the Service, and especially in the interests of the junior officers, that there should be that reduction which I am sure it is the desire and intention of the Admiralty to bring about. While, however, commissioned officers are induced to leave, officers who have been promoted from the lower deck are compelled to go on reaching the age, I think, of 50. Previously the age was 55, and these officers do feel it to be a little unfair that they should not be placed on the same basis as the commissioned officers. They think that if inducement is to be held out in the one case, it should be held out in the other; or if, on the other hand, there is compulsion to go in the one instance, the same thing should be applied in the other. What they fear is that, while the commissioned officers will be able to leave at their own will and pleasure—consistently, of course, with their having attained a certain age—so far as the others are concerned, notwithstanding that they may have gone through all their examinations, and are prepared to attain the promotion they have sought all their lives, they will be compelled to leave. My hon. Friend may remember that on previous occasions I have done all I could to induce the Admiralty to bring forward some scheme by which these officers might be induced to go, and, therefore, I am glad that that has been done; but what they do not want is different treatment as between commissioned officers and those who have been promoted from the lower deck.

There is another matter about which I want to speak, namely, a new Order which has been issued by the Admiralty with reference to men who are on outlying stations, like the Cape of Good Hope, and so on. These men have had their period of service extended to 2½ or 3 years, and they feel it to be very unjust that they should be compelled to serve for these long periods abroad, seeing that the old period of service was two years. They ask me to represent their case to the Admiralty with a view to their being put on a different basis. They suggest that all those who are now-abroad on these far-distant stations should remain for the period which was in force when they were suit there; that, if any other alteration is made, it should be made on a new basis, such as that of volunteering; and that, if men are to be sent abroad for these long periods, they should at least understand before they go that they will be remaining for so long. I think these are very reasonable suggestions, and I hope that my hon. Friend will be able to bring about some alteration. There is one other point, and that is the old grievance which the men of the lower deck have in connection with railway allowance. The Admiralty have sent men from Portsmouth, Devonport and Chatham to take up their career at far-away stations like Port Edgar, and it is suggested that when men are sent to such far-distant places, and when they come home from there on leave, facilities for travelling should be afforded them. I know that my hon. Friend has done his best to induce the railway people to alter the present state of affairs, but the suggestion has been made to me from the lower deck, and I should be glad if the Admiralty could see their way to adopt it, that these men should be able to travel to and from places like Port Edgar by ship. Some shipping transport could probably be arranged, and, if so, it would be a welcome arrangement to many men who are serving on these far-distant stations.

I am one of those Members who believe that drastic economies can still be effected at the Admiralty. I believe that the Geddes Committee pursued their deliberations in too hurried a manner when they investigated the expenditure at the Admiralty, and were too easily led aside by the experts and the Staff at the Admiralty. At the Admiralty to-day there are too many vested interests. There are too many highly-paid civil servants who have built up big, money-spending jobs which we have to tackle. I speak without any disrespect to the Parliamentary Secretary, who, I know, does his best, but I should like to sec the present Secretary of State for the Colonies back again at the Admiralty as First Lord, because I feel that he is the one man who is able to deal with these obstructionists in high and exalted places at the Admiralty. I should, however, be out of order if I pursued that now, and I will deal with it in greater detail on Vote 12.

I want, on this Vote, to ask one or two questions of the Parliamentary Secretary. If he will turn to the manning Table which is given in the Geddes Report, and which I assume is more or less up to date and accurate, he will find that an enormous proportion of officers and men are employed on shore and harbour work. I know that it is very difficult for the Admiralty to deal with the discharge of officers and men, and I do not wish to see officers and men put on the beach without adequate remuneration. It is not our business here to provide the policy for dealing with these people, but we have made suggestions from time to time that the Air Service should be developed, and so forth. What I want to criticise to-day is the employment of so large a number of officers and men on shore and harbour work. What are they? I find from this Table that 1,550 officers and 11,050 men are employed on harbour ships. What are those harbour ships? Are they training ships, or what are they? Then I find that 450 officers and 2,650 men are employed on coastguard service. Is it not time that we packed up this obsolete coastguard service? On what are these officers and men employed to-day? Are they employed on wireless duties, or on some other duties which cause them to be included in the table as coastguards; or are they still wandering from one station to another two or three times a day, doing work of a kind that is already done by other Departments? Are they counting crab pots and lobster pots on the Hamble River, and performing the other duties which are performed by naval coastguards? Before the War a very good beginning was made in replacing the work of the coastguards by that of the Air Service, and I should like to see that further increased. It is obvious to-day that, if smuggling is done at all, it cannot be tackled by the coastguards. The man who wants to smuggle a few hundred pounds of tobacco into the country does not bring it in in a lugger on a dark night and land it off Plymouth; he brings it in on one of the biggest liners, disguised as luggage in a double bottom, or, still more likely, he brings it in by aeroplane. To-day, in 1922, to have these 450 officers and 2,650 men is an extravagance which is really not justified.

Then I should like to know what the item "Miscellaneous," under which there are 600 officers and 2,600 men, includes? Upon what duties are these men employed? If we add up all these figures, we find that, of 7,300 officers in the Navy, 3,900 are employed on shore and harbour duties, and that, of 78,150 men, 25,150 are employed on shore and harbour duties. That means that more than half the officers, and very much more than one-third of the men of the Navy are employed on services which are not warlike services. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary, when he replies, will be able to explain this. In this same Table also, I find that, while we are economising in ships, the complements of the ships have been considerably increased. I want to draw attention in particular to the complements of battle ships, battle cruisers, and light cruisers. In 1915, we had 25 battleships, with an average- complement of 51 officers. Now, although we have cut down the number of ships, we find that the complement of officers, instead of being 51, is 68, and that the number of men, instead of being 725, is 1,190. Similarly, in the case of battle cruisers, the complement has risen from 50 officers to 67, and from 840 men to 1,320—nearly half as much again; while in the light cruiser, instead of 18 officers, there are now 29—very nearly double—and instead of 304 men there are now 440. I should like to know whether these complements are those which were found during the War to be necessary owing to the increased number of officers and men required for fire control and so-called staff work, or whether they are the result of recent Admiralty decisions in order to justify—perhaps I might even say conceal—a certain number of the officers who are supernumerary. In conclusion, I should like to have the assurance that the decisions of the Geddes Report are not in any way restricting the flow of men from the lower deck into the ranks of officers. I believe, and I think it is widely felt throughout certain sections of the Navy, that the proportion of men who were to have been recruited in order to supplement the supply of officers in the Navy would have been much greater had the scheme of which we have heard been put forward. I believe that the Admiralty deliberately checked this advance of the men, and I need hardly point out what a bad effect that will have on the men in the Navy. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to look into this matter and see whether the channels which used to be looked forward to with such great expectation and hope can be reopened to the men of the lower deck.

I want to refer to a point which was raised by the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy), namely, the number of cadets. This year's Estimate provides for 506 cadets. Is it likely that all these young officers will be absorbed and will get on in the Service? It there are too many of them, for Heaven's sake let us get rid of them while they are young and can be educated for some other profession.

I should like to deal with the points which have been raised, and in begin with, as suggested by the right, hon. Gentleman the Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean), indicate the main lines on which our reduction shall proceed. The main economy on this Vote of £3,200,000 is, of course, only an instalment of the total economy we shall effect by our reductions. The Estimate for this year is naturally based on the average strength of the Navy during the year, and that average strength will be about 110,000 officers and men, as compared with 121,000 to-day. The figure to which we are coming down as early as possible in the year is 98,000, and next year Vote 1, and to a certain extent all the other Votes, will reflect the total economy of that reduction. My right hon. Friend also dealt with the question of the coastguard. That service, which costs £700,000 a year, is only to a very small extent a service required for naval purposes only. The Admiralty have made it quite clear that of the 2,800 officers and men of the coastguard only about 345 are actually required in peace time for strictly naval purposes. The others are required in the main for the purposes of the Customs and the Board of Trade, and we are now having a conference with the Customs and the Board of Trade in order to see, first of all, how it shall be made clear that this expenditure is not really naval expenditure but expenditure of other Departments, and, secondly, to find out how far, when that expenditure is being treated and regarded from the point of view of the other Departments, it is possible to economise considerably in the actual numbers of this force. The Committee is already sitting, and I hope it will not be long before we get a general decision which will both secure considerable economy on this Vote and also make it quite clear, whether the item continues to stand on the Naval Votes or not, that it represents expenditure which for the purposes of discipline may be put under the Navy, but which is really expenditure on other Departments.

To come to the method of reduction. We have reduced, in the first instance, two commands, which were necessary during the War but are not necessary in view of the present general situation—the Western Approaches and the Scottish Commands. While it is quite true that in the May Navy List, which was printed some time before, those officers are still shown as holding their positions, both appointments have now been terminated and they are not in existence at this moment. The right hon. Gentleman asked whether it was possible to carry out still further the recommendations of the Geddes Committee and reduce the commands or unify them under a single command. That would be quite impossible. It is not for the sake of honorific positions, but owing to the fact that we have certain great Naval bases and establishments we must have one senior officer, with general control locally, at each of these bases. A central command would be a mere addition. The Admiralty already fulfil that function. Innumerable questions would arise. We find, as the Army and other organisations find, that a great aggregation like Portsmouth or Devonport wants a Commander-in-Chief on the spot.

Four, and they have now been reduced to four again. The right hon. Gentleman also raised the question of what are known in the Navy as retinues, which would probably not have attracted nearly as much attention from the Geddes Committee or the public if they had been called by any other name. The old historic word "retinue" includes all the officers and the ratings which, for one reason or another, are attached to the headquarter's staff of an admiral. Take the senior medical officer of a great base like Portsmouth. Whether there was an admiral in command or not, his function would necessarily continue, but he and all the junior officers attached to him—writers and all categories of people depending on him, right down to the whole of his staff, clerks, orderlies, and everything else—are included in the admiral's retinue. They are an essential element in the ordinary administrative naval work of the district. It would he perfectly easy to describe them as not attached to the admiral's staff, and in that case they would no longer appear in the figure of the retinue. Ever since last August we have been pressing the Commanders-in-Chief to see whether they can cut down any officers. Certain reductions have already been made, and we shall certainly keep close watch, and in any case where a staff of three can do the work of four, we shall certainly press that only three shall do it.

No, I could not give the detailed figure. In certain respects they are necessarily larger than they were before the War. Certain technical aspects have enormously increased. There is the multiplication of wireless and questions like paravanes, depth charges, anti-submarine work—all these different aspects have increased. But I think I can say that in any Department that existed before the War there is not an increased staff for the same work which was done before. As to the scheme of reduction generally, the Noble Lord the Member for South Battersea (Viscount Curzon) quite rightly said that what is essential is that we should so frame our reductions right through as not to interfere with the flow of promotion in future, so as to enable the Navy to be as efficient after these reductions as it is to-day, and it is from that point of view that the whole basis of surpluses in each category of officers and ratings has been worked out. My Noble Friend referred to the Flag List. The position as regards the Flag List is this: Before the War there were 95 officers on the Flag List, of whom three were supernumerary. During the War that number was considerably increased. Since then we have brought the figures down to 95, as before the War, but six of these are supernumerary, three being admirals of the Fleet—Jellicoc, Beatty and Wemyss—whose places will not be filled again, and we are now further reducing the total number to 83. Of those in active employment, we had 54 in March, 1914. That number is now reduced to 43, and we hope to reduce it by three more before the end of the calendar year.

The appointment of the commander of the Royal yacht is one that is entirely personal to His Majesty, and the officer now in that command enjoys the full confidence of His Majesty and gives him satisfaction. I do not think the House of Commons should press that he should be removed from his position, even though a small saving might be effected. Generally speaking, we are pressing forward the reduction of the Flag List.

At the other end of the scale the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) raised the question of the number of boys in training and the cadets whom we are taking into the Navy. He took a figure as the number of boys in training which represents the maximum authorised figure of over 4,000. As a matter of fact, we have drastically reduced the numbers by not taking in more boys, and with the flow out the number now in training is 2,400. The normal number which would be required in training to supply the normal needs of the Navy in future will be about 3,000, and as soon as the clearance has been effected we shall begin again to take in boys in order to meet the normal waste of the Service. The same is the position with regard to cadets. The total number of cadets in the training ship and at Dartmouth is 612, but by the end of the year, in consequence of the smaller number we are now taking in—an average of 50 a term at Dartmouth—the total number at Dartmouth will be down to 470, and the total number of those in the training ship will be down to 85, making a total of 555. Those numbers are rather less than will be required for normal entry into the Navy in future, allowing for the needs, not only of the executive branch, but of the engineering branch, and we shall undoubtedly have to ask for a rather larger number of the special entry cadets in favour of whom the hon. and gallant Gentleman has more than once spoken. My Noble Friend referred to the employment of an admiral in China. A very serious international crisis might arise at any moment there, as in the Near East, and it is important that the admiral there should carry the weight of a senior position. Also our admirals in those positions to-day are very much junior men to those who held the same positions before the War, and the distinguished admiral who is now going to take over the China Command is in every respect anything but an old gentleman. I think men who have risen to distinction in active service during the War are among the most effective for teaching young officers their work during the years immediately ahead.

The hon. Member for Central Portsmouth (Sir T. Bramsdon) suggested that we were making retirements in the case of officers promoted from the ranks compulsory and making it voluntary in the case of others. The position is this. Our scheme is one under which we are bound to reduce the excess in different categories. Wherever possible, whether in the case of officers promoted from the ranks or officers who come in as cadets, we are leaving it open for the time being for them to retire voluntarily in order to meet the very varied needs of individuals. The terms of retirement from the point of view of one officer may be very favourable—in fact, he may have been hesitating about leaving the Service, anyhow. But the scheme is compulsory, all the same. If within the next few weeks officers do not take advantage of the opportunity of voluntary retirement, we shall inevitably be compelled to make selection, entirely from the point of view of the needs of the Service, from amongst officers whom we should, with the greatest regret, ask to leave, because, in the main, with very few exceptions, they will be officers of promise. There are very few in the Navy to-day whom we should like to lose.

I was just coming to that point. I wish to make it quite clear that the Order dealing with the retirement of officers who, without having actually committed misconduct, are considered unfit for their position is certainly not going to be used in any way in order to bring about any of the reductions which we are considering at this moment. I do not suppose the number of officers who will be affected will be other than very small. To come back to the suggestion of the hon. Member for Portsmouth. In no case is the scheme other than compulsory, providing that voluntary retirements are not made, both in the cases of officers promoted from the ranks and of officers promoted from cadets. There are one or two categories of very deserving officers who have risen through distinguished service during the War but who, from age and other reasons, are surplus to the requirements of a very drastically reduced Navy, and it is only for that reason that we have had to notify them that, as a matter of fact, it will be necessary to retire them in any case.

Surely the numbers of Flag and other officers who are surplus to the establishment are even more than those promoted from the lower deck.

8.0 P.M.

I have dealt with the question of Flag officers. We do not wish in any way to inflict hardship, but from the point of view of the needs of the Service we cannot keep a large number of officers, either of flag rank or of lower ranks, for whom we cannot find any work. It is only from that point of view that we have dealt with the question. The hon. Member for East Leyton (Mr. L. Malone) raised another question. Undoubtedly the experience of the War showed us that on these great battleships there was need for a large number of additional officers and men to man the additional equipment. Great ships carried nine wireless sets compared with two before the War. The anti-aircraft equipment was a very small matter before the War, but it is now a very big thing, absorbing a large number of officers and men. There is the paravane service and so on. We had increased the complements very considerably at the end of the War on account of war experience; but since the Washington Conference, in view of the general relaxation of the position in the world, we have been carrying out a 16 per cent. reduction in all these complements, bringing us back to some thing like the pre-War complements. That is the peace reduction. If mobilisation was declared we should bring these men back from the schools and the training establishments in order to meet the active needs of the Service. I think I have covered the points raised in the discussion, and I hope the Committee will now let us have this Vote.

I beg to move to reduce the Vote by £100.

The Parliamentary Secretary has informed the Committee that to-day there are 83 Flag officers in comparison with a total of 95 before the War. On page 34 of the Geddes Report the number of battleships and battle cruisers in 1914 is given as 68, and in 1922–23 only 29. If these figures are at all accurate, the reduction in the number of Flag officers has not kept pace with the reduction in the number of battleships and battle cruisers at sea. Several hon. Members have pointed out that through a large number of Flag officers to-day holding these appointments, promotion from the lower ranks is blocked. Hon. Members in all quarters of the Committee realise that to secure an efficient Navy you must give the lower ranks reasonable opportunity of securing Flag rank, if their efficiency entitles them to that position. If the Geddes figures are accurate, the Admiralty have not taken sufficient steps to induce the Flag officers, by one method or another, to retire, because the reduction is only 12, although the battleships and battle cruisers at sea have been reduced from 68 to 29. The Parliamentary Secretary informed us that the two commands which the Geddes Committee recommended should be abolished have been discontinued.

As to the retinue or staff associated with these commands, will they automatically disappear?

They have diminished very considerably. Of course, whatever junior appointment remains it will have some staff, but there is undoubtedly very considerable reduction.

I understand that the numbers quoted on Page 45 of the Geddes Report as the retinue of the Commanders-in-Chief will not be completely reduced.

We take exception to these staffs not being more radically reduced. The right hon. Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean) read from the Geddes Report the judgment of the Committee on that point. It is quite clear that, although two commands have been abolished, the total staff in these two commands will not automatically disappear.

In the case of the Western Approaches Command (Ireland) practically the whole has disappeared. In Scotland there is a reduced establishment at Rosyth, and a reduction of staff.

There is a complete reduction in Ireland, and a very large reduction in Scotland. That leads me to ask what steps the Admiralty propose to take to reduce the size of the staffs in the other commands. We think them excessive, but as we cannot give a fair opinion in this respect, we can only rely upon those who have had experience of the Admiralty, and upon Lord Inchcape and others who have been closely associated with sea affairs, and when the members of the Geddes Committee report to the Government that in their opinion the size of these staffs is excessive, I hope the House will take note of that fact. This Vote raises also a very large question, and that is the numbers given in the Navy Estimates compared with the figures recommended by the Geddes Committee. If the recommendations of that Committee had been accepted, this Vote would have been reduced by over £2,000,000 this year. The Geddes Committee recommended that the number of men should be reduced to 86,000, and the Parliamentary Secretary has informed us that the Admiralty are taking steps to reduce the total personnel to 98,000. The difference in numbers between 98,000 and 86,000 will cost the country this year over £2,000,000. I have

Division No. 118.]

AYES.

[8.12 p.m.

Adamson, Rt. Hon. WilliamHallas, EldredPoison, Sir Thomas A.
Ammon, Charles GeorgeHarmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)Raffan, Peter Wilson
Banton, GeorgeHartshorn, VernonRichardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)Hayday, ArthurRoberts, Frederick O. (W. Bromwich)
Barnes, Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals)Hayward, EvanRobertson, John
Barton, Sir William (Oldham)Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)Royce, William Stapleton
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.Hirst, G. H.Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)
Bromfield, WilliamHogge, James MylesSpoor, B. G.
Cairns, JohnIrving, DanSutton, John Edward
Cape, ThomasJohn, William (Rhondda, West)Swan, J. E.
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.Johnstone, JosephThomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)
Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)Thomas, Brig.-Gen. sir O. (Anglesey)
Davies, A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe)Kennedy, ThomasThorns, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)Kenyon, BarnetWalsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)
Entwistle, Major C. F.Lawson, John JamesWaterson, A. E.
Finney, SamuelLyle-Samuel, AlexanderWatts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D.
Galbraith, SamuelMaclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.
Gillis, WilliamMaclean, Rt. Hon. sir D. (Midlothian)Wignall, James
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)Malone, C. L. (Leyton, E.)Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)
Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)Murray, Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)Wilson, James (Dudley)
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Grundy, T. W.Myers, Thomas
Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)Newbould, Alfred ErnestTELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)Major Barnes and Major McKenzie
Wood.

NOES.

Agg-Gardner, Sir James TynteConway, Sir W. MartinHacking, Captain Douglas H.
Amery, Leopold C. M. S.Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)Hailwood, Augustine
Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick W.Craik, Rt. Hon. sir HenryHamilton, Major C. G. C.
Balfour, George (Hampstead)Curzon, Captain ViscountHarmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)
Barnston, Major HarryDavies, Thomas (Cirencester)Hills, Major John Waller
Barrand, A. R.Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S)Hinds, John
Bartley-Denniss, Sir Edmund RobertDawson, Sir PhilipHood, Sir Joseph
Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C H. (Devizes)Dewhurst, Lieut.-Commander HarryHope, Sir H. (Stirling & Cl'ckm'nn'n, W.)
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.Doyle, N. GrattanHope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)
Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)Edge, Captain Sir WilliamHopkins, John W. W.
Bird, Sir William B. M. (Chichester)Edwards, Hugh (Glam., Neath)Hudson, R. M.
Blades, Sir George RowlandElliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)Hurd, Percy A.
Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-Erskine, James Malcolm MonteithJephcott, A. R.
Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.Evans, ErnestJones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)
Bramsdon, Sir ThomasEyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George
Breese, Major Charles E.Falle, Major Sir Bertram GodfrayKidd, James
Briggs, HaroldFell, Sir ArthurKing, Captain Henry Douglas
Broad, Thomas TuckerFlannery, Sir James FortescueKinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement
Brown, Major D. C.Ford, Patrick JohnstonLarmor, Sir Joseph
Bruton, Sir JamesForrest, WalterLewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)
Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.Foxcroft, Captain Charles TalbotLister, Sir R. Ashton
Butcher, Sir John GeorgeFraser, Major Sir KeithLloyd-Greame, Sir P.
Carew, Charles Robert S.Frece, Sir Walter deLort-Williams, J.
Carr, W. TheodoreFremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.Lowe, Sir Francis William
Carter, R. A. D. (Man., Withington)Gibbs, Colonel George AbrahamLoyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)
Casey, T. W.Gilbert, James DanielLyle, C. E. Leonard
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Bim., W.)Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir JohnM'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.
Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)Goff, Sir R. ParkManville, Edward
Cheyne, Sir William WatsonGreen, Albert (Derby)Martin, A. E.
Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. SpenderGreen, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)Middlebrook, Sir William
Clough, Sir RobertGreenwood, Rt. Hon. Sir HamarMolson, Major John Elsdale
Cobb, Sir CyrilGreenwood, William (Stockport)Morden, Col. W. Grant
Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.Grenfell, E. C.Moreing, Captain Algernon H.

said enough to show that the advice of the Geddes Committee has been rejected by the Admiralty, that the staffs are excessive, that the number of flag officers does not correspond with the numbers of battleships and battle cruisers in commission, and as a protest against this I move to reduce the Vote by £100.

Question put, "That a sum, not exceeding £12,925,900, be granted for the said Service."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 72; Noes, 163.

Nall, Major JosephRoberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)
Neal, ArthurRobinson, Sir T. (Lanes., Stretford)Thorpe, Captain John Henry
Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)Rodger, A. K.Tickler, Thomas George
Newson, Sir Percy WilsonRoundell, Colonel R. F.Townley, Maximilian G.
Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)Tryon, Major George Clement
Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir JohnScott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)Waddington, R.
Ormsby-Gore, Hon. WilliamSeddon, J. A.Wallace, J.
Pain, Brig.-Gen. Sir W. HacketShaw, William T. (Forfar)Walton, J. (York, W. R., Don Valley)
Parker, JamesShortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)
Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert PikeSmith, Sir Malcolm (Orkney)Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)
Perkins, Walter FrankSmithers, Sir Alfred W.White, Col. G. D. (Southport)
Perring, William GeorgeStanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)Wild, Sir Ernest Edward
Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)Stanton, Charles ButtWilliams, C. (Tavistock)
Pickering, Colonel Emil W.Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.Williams, Lt.-Col. Sir R. (Banbury)
Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest MurrayStewart, GershomWise, Frederick
Pratt, John WilliamSturrock, J. LengYeo, Sir Alfred William
Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.Sugden, W. H.Young, E. H. (Norwich)
Purchase, H. G.Sykes, Colonel Sir A. J. (Knutsford)Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)
Raeburn, Sir William H.Sykes, Sir Charles (Huddersfield)
Remer, J. R.Taylor, J.TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Renwick, Sir GeorgeTerrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr.
Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)Thomas, sir Robert J. (Wrexham)McCurdy.
Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)

Original Question put, and agreed to.

It being a Quarter past Bight of the Clock, and there being Private Business set down by direction of the Chairman of Ways and Means under Standing Order No. 8, further Proceeding was postponed without Question put.