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Royal Navy

Volume 206: debated on Wednesday 11 May 1927

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Kidney Diseases

11.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty the number of officers and ratings of the Royal Navy who were invalided with nephritis and other diseases of the kidneys during the years 1924, 1925 and 1926, respectively; and whether, seeing that the incidence of kidney trouble may be due to the fact that only condensed water is available for drinking purposes in His Majesty's ships, it would be possible to aerate condensed water before consumption by ships' companies?

In 1924, six cases were invalided from the Royal Navy (excluding Marines at headquarters) for disease of the kidneys (five for nephritis and one for stone in the kidney). Particulars of cases which occurred in 1925 and 1926 are not yet available. The question of whether the consumption of distilled water is in any way detrimental to health has been the subject of inquiry, but there is no evidence available that it is a factor in the causation of disease. I may add that the distilled water produced in ships undergoes considerable aeration before it is consumed by the ships' companies.

Rheumatism

12.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty the number of boys, second and first class, Royal Navy, at the training establishment, Shotley, who were admitted to sick-quarters and hospital suffering from rheumatism and kindred complaints during the years 1924, 1925 and 1926; and the number of boys and men under 21 years of age who have been invalided from the Royal Navy owing to rheumatism during the years 1925 and 1926?

The following numbers of boys, second and first class, Royal Navy, at the Training Establishment, Shotley, were admitted to sick quarters and hospital for "rheumatism" and kindred complaints:

In 192420
In 192511
In 192613
The information asked for in the second part of the question is not readily available and its compilation would involve an expenditure of time and labour which I think my hon. Friend would not consider justified in the circumstances.

Does my right hon. Friend not think that some investigation should be made of these cases of rheumatism among first-class boys?

They are kept under observation and the figures do not go to show that there is any increase.

Would it not be easy to ascertain how many men under 21 have been invalided as a result of contracting rheumatism?

I hope that the House will not insist on my giving these very detailed figures, which may cause an increase in the Estimates of my Department.

Is not this matter of such importance to the health of the men in the Royal Navy that we ought to have these facts and figures before us?

But we have a medical department who are very diligent in this matter, and there is no prima facie evidence that there is anything wrong.

Are we to understand that the medical officers are satisfied that there are no extraordinary circumstances causing this unfortunate disability?

I certainly imagine that that is so. I shall be only too glad to investigate these cases.

Will the First Lord say how many of these cases were invalided out with heart disease?

Devonport Dockyard (Discharges)

8.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether dock-yard officials received a request on behalf of the established men recently discharged from His Majesty's Dockyard, Devonport, to the effect that the notices should be cancelled for a month in order that a case might be drafted on behalf of the discharged men; whether this request was rejected; and, if so, the reason for its rejection?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative; the other parts therefore do not arise.

9.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, with reference to the established men discharged from His Majesty's Dockyard, Devonport, whether he will say why it is that these men were informed on one notice that their services were not entirely satisfactory, that on another notice it was stated that they were discharged on reduction, and in a third place that their character was excellent in every respect; and whether, as the statement that their services are not entirely satisfactory is calculated to place them in an impossible position when they are seeking re-employment elsewhere, he can withdraw this comment?

The statements referred to in the first and second parts of the question are statements of fact. I have no knowledge of the third communication referred to. The reply to the last part of the question is in the negative.

May I ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman if it is the practice of the Government to dispense with the services of those established servants who have been given an assurance that they will have work as long as they can do it?

They are employed subject to their approved efficiency. It is not the policy of the Government to do away with the services of established men, but in certain cases it is inevitable.

The men who have been discharged are less efficient than those who are kept on.

If the men discharged are less efficient than those who remain, does that justify the Department in declaring that these men are inefficient and discharging them?

Then what is the reason why these established servants have been discharged?

10.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he can give an undertaking that the discharge of six established men at His Majesty's Dockyard, Devonport, was an exception, and that it is the intention of the Admiralty not to discharge any more established men?

No such assurance can be given, but it is not intended to discharge on reduction established men whose services are satisfactory when numbers can be reduced to the extent required by discharging hired men.

Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that it has always been clearly understood that an established man has security of employment and certain pension rights subject to his efficiency; and can the hon. and gallant Gentleman positively say that in the case of the efficient men their contracts will not be broken and that they will be kept on?

I think my answer is calculated to allay anxiety on that point.

Is it not true that it is rather difficult for the Government not to discharge men, seeing that both the Socialists and the Members of the Labour party are always asking for a reduced Navy?

Waitresses (Hours Of Employment)

14.

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that the waitresses in Lyons' teashops worked for 12 hours at a stretch on the occasion of the Cup Final at Wembley; whether these hours are their usual working hours or only for special occasions; whether, in view of this apparent hardship suffered by the waitresses, he is still satisfied with the decision that special boards are not necessary in the catering trades; and what action he proposes to take to prevent the employment of women for such abnormal hours?

I have no information as to the hours or wages of these waitresses on the occasion of the Cup Final, nor have any complaints been addressed to me. If the hours worked were as stated they were certainly in excess of those usually worked.

Would the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to answer the last part of my question? This evidence was given to me direct.

If the hon. and gallant Member will give me evidence, I shall be very glad to consider it and as regards the last part of his question, it depends on the answer to the foregoing. It would also depend on whether the case was entirely abnormal or whether it was partly normal as regards the hours worked.

What does the right hon. Gentleman mean by "evidence"? Have I to bring the waitresses themselves?

If the hon. and gallant Member wishes to do so, I shall be glad to hear the evidence, but that is not necessary. He can give me particulars of the hours and the various other information on paper in the first instance.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman know that the wages paid by Lyons, and the hours of their workers, are better than almost any other in the trade; but is it not also true that in no industry is a Trade Board more necessary than in the catering industry, because the wages are perfectly outrageous?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that on the figures which he himself published last year, less than 1 per cent. of the catering trade employés are organised in trade unions and that there is no body to act for them?

In view of the right hon. Gentleman's first reply and the unsatisfactory conditions in Lyons' and other places, is he prepared to set up a Trade Board in this industry?