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Royal Navy

Volume 411: debated on Wednesday 13 June 1945

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Royal Naval College


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if he will expedite the return of the Royal Naval College to its home and thus enable the officers and teaching staff to carry on the training of the cadets with greater efficiency than can be done in improvised premises.

Yes, Sir. But the work of reconditioning the college must take its appropriate place in the list of building priorities.

Royal Dockyards


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he will indicate the general policy with regard to employment and work at the Royal Dockyards during the remainder of the war.

So far as can be foreseen all the Royal Dockyards will be fully employed in making alterations and additions to His Majesty's Ships for the prosecution of the war against Japan and in carrying out repairs.

In view of the great increase in the size of the Royal Navy and in its fighting power, will my right hon. Friend give an undertaking that there will be no large scale reduction of employment in the Royal Dockyards after the Japanese war?

That is a question of Government policy. Perhaps when the Election is over my hon. Friend will put a Question down.


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether, now that this country is no longer subject to enemy attack, he will at an early date give publicity to the achievements of the Royal Dockyards at Chatham and elsewhere during the war against Germany, indicating the number of men employed, what has been produced and repaired there, and what they have suffered from air raids.

Will ray right hon. Friend in due course give full recognition to the magnificent contribution made by the Chatham Dockyards workers to the war effort?

Yes, Sir. In due course proper recognition will be paid to the part played by the Chatham Dockyards.

Can we be assured that the right hon. Gentleman does not detect in any of these Questions any propaganda?


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he will set up a committee at an early date to consider the most efficient way of operating the Royal Dockyards after the war and providing adequate inducements to highly qualified engineers and other technicians to remain in these Royal Dockyards rather than go to private firms; and whether, in this connection, he will consult the Admiralty Industrial Civil Servants' Federation and other appropriate bodies, representing employees in these establishments.

The efficiency of the dock, yard management, and the appropriateness of the rates of pay and conditions of service authorised for dockyard employees, are matters which the Admiralty constantly watch. As my hon. and gallant Friend is aware, machinery exists for regular consultation between representatives of the employees and Departmental officials both at the dockyards and at headquarters. This is intended to secure the greatest measure of co-operation in the pursuit of efficiency and of the well-being of the employees. I see no early need to set up a special committee to supplement these arrangements.

Could the First Lord suggest some better method than appointing this committee to see that these highly qualified engineers and technicians will receive wages in keeping with those prevailing in private yards?

I am very pleased to see this excellent Tory doctrine so fully explained in a supplementary question, but I have no intention of appointing another committee to deal with work which is being thoroughly well done at the present time.

Revised Form S272


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether the revised form S.272 has now been distributed to all H.M. ships and naval shore establishments; if he is aware that this poster was still displayed in its unrevised form at the Royal Naval Barracks, Portsmouth, on Monday, 28th May; and what steps he proposes to take to implement the undertaking on this matter given by his Department two months ago.

The distribution of the revised form S.272 has been delayed by printing difficulties. It is now being distributed and copies are displayed at the Royal Naval Barracks, Portsmouth. Instructions to ensure that the undertaking to which my hon. Friend refers was carried out, were issued shortly after the Debate on the 29th March.

Does it really take two months to get these posters printed, and is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the position was still as described in the Question at this very important establishment only a few days ago?

I am afraid that apparently it has taken a long time to get these papers printed, but the work has been done now. I am sorry about this hold-up but apparently it has been inevitable.

Foreign Service (Home Leave)


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if he will state the amount of leave to which Navy personnel are entitled after two years' service abroad before being posted to the Far East.

On return from two years foreign service a rating would be granted the foreign service leave dut to him. This would amount to 28 days on the basis of seven days leave for each six months of service abroad. When the man's turn came for drafting abroad, he would be given a further period of drafting leave which for a man detailed for the Far East would be 14 days. Depending upon the time the man had spent in home waters in the interval, and on his employment, he might well have had a further period of leave under normal home service rules.

Will my right hon. Friend look into cases of men who have not received the minimum period of leave if I send particulars to him?

Reservists (Release)


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he can give an assurance that the rate of release of reservists in the Royal Navy will not be permitted to fall substantially behind the rate of release in the other Services.

No, Sir. The Fleet has been reminded that, as stated in the White Paper on the Re-Allocation Plan (Command 6548), it will not be possible to keep the rate of release in the three Services in step. Apart from the heavy obligations of mine clearance and of redeployment against Japan, the large number of officers and men in the Royal Navy over the age of 50 will from the start cause the rate of release of the under-50's to fall behind that of the other Services.

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind the dissatisfaction that is felt in the Royal Navy at this inequality following so soon after the transfer of large numbers of men into the ranks of His Majesty's Army?

I believe this arrangement has been settled after a great deal of consultation over the past year, and I certainly am not prepared to interfere with a decision which was taken long before I came to the Admiralty.

If the R.N.V.R. are not going to get released on the same conditions as in other Services, will the right hon. Gentleman see that they get the same opportunities for promotion into higher ranks as do the Reservists in the Army?




Mr. P. H. WestermannTrade Commissioner for the Netherlands Indies in London.

Belgian Congo

Monsieur Th. HeyseCivil Servant.
Monsieur MikolajczakDirector, Société Générale des Minerals, Brussels.


Senor Don A. Patino, RPatino Mines.
Senor Don J. Ortiz-LinaresPatino Mines.
Senor Don Juan PenarandsCivil Servant.
Mr. E. V. Pearce (Technical Adviser)Consolidated Tin Smelters, Limited.


Sir Gerard ClausonCivil Servant.
Mr. V. A. LowingerCivil Servant (retired).
Mr. W. J. WilcoxsonDirector, Straits Trading Co., Director, British Tin Smelting Co., Ltd.
Mr. J. H. Rich (Technical Adviser)Director, Trino Mines.


Mr. P. H. Westermann(See above).

East Indies

Mr. J. B. PeyrotBilliton Company.


Sir Gerard Clauson(See above).
Mr. Dermot J. MooneyDirector of various tin mining companies
Mr. J. Ivan Spens?Director, London Tin Corporation, Limited.

Consumers' Panel

Mr. E. H. LeverChairman, Richard Thomas & Co., Ltd.

United States Government representative.

(Temporarily Vacant.)

United States industry representative

(Temporarily Vacant.)

I shall bear that suggestion in mind and will do everything I can to facilitate it.

International Tin Committee


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will state the names of the International Tin Committee; and also the connection of any of them with the tin trade.

As the answer is rather long I will, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

No Member of our Parliament. I am not sure whether some of the foreign representatives are members of their Parliaments.

Might I ask whether the right hon. and gallant Gentleman expects reinforcements from the Treasury Bench to this Committee when the present Government lose office?

Following is the answer:

The membership of the International Tin Committee is as follows:

West Indian Nurses (Training Scheme)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is now in a position to announce particulars of a scheme under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act for the nursing training of West Indian nursing recruits for four years in a composite nursing course in Britain; to what extent and by whom this training scheme has already been put into operation; and whether he has approached the voluntary hospitals with teaching schools attached with a view to their assisting the scheme.

As the particulars requested are long, I will, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate in the Official Report a reply to the first two parts of the Question. I should like, however, to take this opportunity of expressing my gratitude to the hon. Member for the part which he has played in the successful institution of this scheme. As regards the last part of the Question, any such extension should, I consider, await the report, which will reach me within a few days, of the Committee which, under Lord Rushcliffe's Chairmanship, has been examining the training of nurses for work in Colonial territories generally.

Whilst thanking the right hon. and gallant Gentleman for his very generous reference, might I ask whether that report will deal specifically with the question of securing for Colonial nursing aspirants training in the voluntary hospitals with medical schools attached?

I have not yet seen the report, but it will cover the whole question of training nurses, and will undoubtedly cover that particular point.

Following is the statement:

Scheme for the Training of Eighteen West Indian Nurses Annually in the London County Council's Hospitals.

The London County Council in 1943 offered to accept, annually, for a period of four years, eighteen West Indian girls for a four-year course of general nursing training in the Council's hospitals. After consultation with the Comptroller for Development and Welfare and the West Indian Governments concerned, I gratefully accepted this offer.

Under the scheme, girls from Barbados, British Guiana, British Honduras, Jamaica, the Leeward Islands, Trinidad and the Windward Islands, are eligible for selection, provided that they satisfy the conditions laid down as to educational qualifications and medical fitness. Selection is made by boards set up in each Colony. The composition of these boards varies in the different Colonies, but it was agreed that in all cases the board should include the Director of Medical Services, or an officer holding an equivalent post, and the Resident Surgeon and the Matron of the chief hospital. I have suggested that the Governments concerned should consider the inclusion in each board of two non-official members.

Selections are submitted, before being sent forward to the London County Council, to the Medical Adviser to the Comptroller, who, if there are more candidates than vacancies, will be in a position to make recommendations for the allocation of the vacancies.

While it is proposed that, so far as possible, the most suitable candidates should be selected irrespective of the Colony from which they come, the requirements of the smaller Colonies will be kept in mind in the final selection of candidates. Under the scheme, no candidates will be eligible for selection from Colonies whose nursing standards may in future be accorded recognition, in the form of reciprocal registration, by the General Nursing Council in this country.

Selected candidates are required to sign a bond requiring them to serve, after satisfactory completion of training, for a period of five years in any West Indian Colony in which posts of appropriate status are available.

The London County Council house and feed the nurses in training and pay them at the usual rates. The Colonial Office is responsible for welfare arrangements and for passages from and to the West Indies. To meet the expenditure thus involved to provide outfit allowances and incidental expenses, and to supplement each nurse's earnings by an amount sufficient to enable her to meet reasonable personal expenses in this country, a free grant of £26,250 has been made under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act.

The first batch of seven student nurses began their training in London in December, 1944, and another batch is expected to arrive shortly.


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is satisfied with the present arrangements associated with the West Indian Nursing Training Scheme in Britain for the impartial selection and approval of West Indian applicants for inclusion in this scheme by means of insular selection boards; and whether, within a definite period of time, he will consider establishing a West Indian Federal Nursing Board carefully chosen mainly of non-official elements.

I consider that the present arrangements are reasonably satisfactory. The question of appointing a Federal Nursing Board will be considered, with other possible modifications of the existing scheme, in the light of experience of the working of the present arrangements, which became effective only six months ago.

When the right hon. and gallant Gentleman is reviewing this scheme will he have regard to the desirability for securing uniformity and basing his views on some further consideration of a Federal Board dealing with the whole question?

I will certainly consider that. It is obviously important to get uniformity. At the present time, as the hon. Gentleman knows, we are trying to get it through the Comptroller's organisations.

Does the right hon. and gallant Gentleman think that such a scheme as this is at all appropriate for West Africa?

I think we had better wait and see the general report on training as a whole.

Uganda (Interned Aliens)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many aliens are still interned in Uganda; whether he can give particulars of their nationality; and whether any of them are segregated from others on account of their political views or on other grounds.

The total number of aliens interned in Uganda is 1,145. This total is made up of 967 Italians, 51 Germans, 101 other enemy aliens, 13 non-enemy aliens and 13 stateless persons. All these aliens are housed in one camp, but 940 of the Italians, who were evacuated from Ethiopia and are all males, are confined in a separate section of the camp. There is no other segregation.

Does the right hon. Gentleman consider that some further segregation is desirable, in view of the very great difference between these categories?

I will certainly consider that, but what I am anxious to see more than segregation is the return of these people.

Is it the Government's purpose to send many of these Italians back to Italy and not back to Nyasaland, Rhodesia and other places where they were picked up?

I do not think these Italians were picked up there. I think most of them came from Abyssinia.

Coal (Use)


asked the Prime Minister if he will appoint a commission to inquire into the better use of coal and the advisability of prohibiting the export of raw coal and the burning of raw coal in domestic grates, so as to retain the by-products to manufacture here.

I have been asked to reply. The domestic use of all kinds of coal is at present being examined by the Fuel and Power Advisory Council, under the chairmanship of Sir Ernest Simon. It is not considered that prohibition of the export of coal in the raw state would be in the national interest, but the point which my hon. Friend has raised will be taken into account in connection with our coal export policy.

Foreign Policy


asked the Prime Minister whether he has considered proposals made to him for the creation of machinery designed to secure a broad measure of co-operation and agreement between the main political parties, now and in the future, on matters affecting British foreign policy; and whether he favours such proposals.

My right hon. Friend agrees that it is in the country's best interests that there should he the widest possible measure of agreement on foreign policy between the main political parties. He considers, however, that the methods for securing such agreement would need to be adapted to the circumstances of the time, and in a matter of this kind there would be every advantage in allowing the machinery to develop in the light of experience and inclination.

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman, does the Prime Minister contemplate, in this matter, using the functions of the Committee of Imperial Defence?

I think the terms of the answer I have given cover all the aspects of the question. I will not add to them to-day.

War Gratuities


asked the Prime Minister if he is aware that the Government's scheme for war gratuities is not giving satisfaction to the Services; and will he give further consideration to it.

The answer to the first part of the Question is in the negative, and the second part, therefore, does not arise from it in any direct manner.

I am rather sorry the right hon. Gentleman has had to reply because I wanted to get at the Prime Minister. This matter has been before the Prime Minister several times, and it is unfair that the Minister of Labour should now have to reply. Is he aware that there is great dissatisfaction among Service men about gratuities? I would like to know whether he has made inquiries on the subject.

I have given the information which is in my right hon. Friend's possession, and if my hon. Friend has any further information, I am sure my right hon. Friend will be pleased to have it.

Will the right hon. Gentleman explain why, to-day, he is answering Questions for the Prime Minister whereas, the other day, the First Lord of the Admiralty, who is sitting be- side him, answered Questions for the Prime Minister? [Hon. Members: "No.".] What is the reason for this change? The Chancellor of the Exchequer also answered Questions for the Prime Minister. What is the reason for this? Why this demotion?

May I ask whether the matter referred to by the hon. Member comes within the functions of the Opposition?

Can I have an answer to my question, Mr. Speaker? On a point of Order—

I am saying something. The hon. Member must not rise when I am on my feet. This Question deals with war gratuities.

With great respect, Sir, I did not observe that you were speaking at the time. I have no desire to be disrespectful, but we are entitled to ask why, when Questions are addressed to the Prime Minister, and the Prime Minister, for quite good reasons, is not available, other right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench should take turns about to reply.

On that point of Order. Cannot we have an explanation, and in particular, could we be told whether the astonishing demotion of the First Lord has the approval of Lord Beaverbrook?

I would like to inform the Minister that hon. Members are continually receiving letters from serving soldiers and discharged soldiers on this question of gratuities, and to ask him whether he will consult the Secretary of State for War and have some of the correspondence sent to him on this matter. Will he look into it?

I have, of course, been in touch with the Secretary of State for War, and I am also aware that the system agreed to by the last Government appears to be the best possible.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the volume of opinion in the country to the effect that equal danger shared by all ranks should warrant equal grants?

Scientific Instruments (Manufacture)


asked the Prime Minister whether arrangements can be made for the well being of the scientific instrument making industry to become the responsibility solely of his own department; and whether he can make an early announcement as to how this industry is to be protected in the post-war period and enabled in particular to benefit from the closing down or control of the scientific instrument making industry of Germany.

This is all very important, but my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is of the opinion that it would be better to get the General Election over before arriving at final decisions.