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Merchant Navy

Volume 388: debated on Wednesday 7 April 1943

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Sea Training Schools

30.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether, in view of the large number of boys under 18 years of age not yet liable for registration who are already on a waiting list for entry into the Merchant Navy's Sea Training School, he will consider extension of the school and also arranging with the Admiralty that, in certain cases, entry into the Royal Navy might be permitted at an earlier age than at present prescribed?

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport
(Mr. Noel-Baker)

I am aware that there is a long waiting list of boys who desire to enter the Gravesend Sea School. But this school, together with the other sea training schools, can already supply all the boys whom the Merchant Navy can absorb. No useful purpose would at present be served, therefore, by an extension of the school. I understand that the Admiralty would welcome an increased number of volunteers of 17 and 17½ years old for service with the Royal Navy. But on this matter my hon. Friend may desire to consult my right hon. Friend the First Lord.

Service Respirators And Steel Helmets

38.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether he intends to issue Service respirators to members of the Merchant Navy; whether he is aware that tin helmets are not issued in sufficient quantities; so that some members of crews in action stations have no such protection; and whether he proposes to remedy this?

Respirators are now issued to the defence personnel in all merchant ships, but the personnel in ships which have not recently returned to this country may not yet have received them. Steel helmets are issued to the whole crew of ships sailing on routes which are specially subject to air attack. On vessels sailing on other routes, steel helmets are provided for each officer and petty officer, and for ten per cent. of the rest of the crew. If my hon. and gallant Friend knows of any vessel in which, in his view, these arrangements are inadequate, I will cause inquiries to be made.