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Merchant Navy (Releases)

Volume 411: debated on Wednesday 6 June 1945

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asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport under what conditions engineer officers of the Merchant Navy are to be released should they desire it.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport
(Mr. Peter Thorneycroft)

My hon. and gallant Friend will recognise that this country will continue to need a Merchant Navy at least as large as that which we have today. In considering the question of release, it should be remembered that service in the Merchant Navy is the peacetime career of the majority of officers and men now at sea. The principles upon which those who desire to go will be released have been agreed with the representatives of the owners, the officers and the men. Releases will broadly follow the lines laid down for the Services, regard being had to age and length of service during the war. My Noble Friend proposes to proceed at an early date with the release of Groups 1–7 for the officers and 1–15 for the ratings in so far as the officers and men falling within these groups wish to be released.

Is my hon. Friend aware that this class of officer is urgently needed in certain kinds of civil employment—in marine surveying, marine engineering and the ship repairing industry, of course in limited numbers, and will he take this need into account in arranging for the release of any such officers when they desire to take up civil appointments?

Yes, Sir. My Noble Friend had that matter in mind when we decided to release this particular batch in the early stages.

Will the Parliamentary Secretary see that the rates and conditions of these officers are kept at the very highest possible standard so as to encourage them to remain in the Service?

It will be at a very early date. The reason I did not give a date was so that we could inform the various organisations concerned.