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Adopted Naval Ships (Welfare Funds)

Volume 390: debated on Wednesday 30 June 1943

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asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether his attention has been called to proposals made by some boroughs and local authorities regarding the establishment by them of a fund for the benefit of the officers and men of His Majesty's ships which they have adopted, the fund to be used to help cases not covered by existing service facilities and to be administered by the commanding officer; and whether, in in view of the good such arrangements would do, he will authorise and encourage their establishment?

Under existing arrangements sums contributed for welfare purposes by localities in connection with Warship Weeks can be earmarked, up to a certain limit based on the ship's complement, for the provision of amenities for their adopted ship. In general the Admiralty are averse from the creation of separate welfare funds for individual ships on account of the great inequality as between one ship and another to which they are likely to lead. Central funds exist, both for benevolent purposes and for amenities, which can distribute money or goods on an equitable basis; and to these the public can contribute with the assurance that their money will be spent in the fairest possible way and with full regard to the relative needs of the recipient, whether individual or ship. There are no calls, either for charity or for welfare, which cannot be met from these central funds.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that at the beginning of the war a great-hearted American lady adopted two whole Tribal flotillas and, amongst other things, annually placed at the disposal of each commanding officer and the captain "D" of each flotilla a sum of money to be used in order to help any hard cases of necessity which might occur in the flotillas, and that the scheme worked very well? Is there any reason why localities which adopt particular ships should not be tied to those ships by this bond of kind- ness and charity? Would it not be a very good thing in the public interest?

The locality is tied to the ship for a certain amount, but we would prefer that the locality and the country should be tied to the Royal Navy. The adoption of ships for purposes of this kind does lead to a feeling of inequality and creates certain abuses. One wealthy city may adopt a ship and another locality very much poorer may adopt another ship, and the transfer of the officers and men from one ship to another would lead to the difficulties which I have mentioned.

Does my right hon. Friend appreciate that while the country owes a debt of gratitude and affection to the Royal Navy the whole idea underlying the exchange of these plaques is the formation of a link between a locality and one of His Majesty's ships in which that locality can take a personal interest, and that this kind of fund would help that personal interest very much?

Is my right hon. Friend aware that as a result of personal adoption much more work is done, and that in one case at Croydon 1,200 garments were supplied in 10 days to a ship which was moving to tropical waters? That would not have been done if there were not personal interest.

This is a matter of subscribing money, and it would lead to the difficulties I have referred to.