asked the First Lord of the Admiralty how many apprentices have been discharged from Devonport Dockyard in the last four months; the reasons for their discharge; and whether a system can be inaugurated so to regulate the engagement of apprentices in order that they shall not, bearing also in mind the necessary sacrifice made by their parents, find themselves discharged on the completion of their apprenticeships without opportunities of employment?
With regard to the first part of the question, two apprentices have been discharged from Devonport Dockyard in the last four months, having been appointed to another Department. As regards the second part of the question, the hon. Member will appreciate that the number of apprentices to be entered in the dockyards each year must necessarily be fixed at least five years before they become qualified craftsmen, and that in the intervening period circumstances are liable to change. The number of entries has, however, been greatly diminished in the last 10 years, and every effort is made to secure that there shall be no surplus over Admiralty requirements.