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Royal Navy

Volume 415: debated on Wednesday 31 October 1945

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Small Craft (Dismantling)

36.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is aware that the construction and armament is now being completed for his Department of a number of small craft which are then immediately dispatched to another port to be dismantled; and whether he will take steps to stop this waste of public money.

The First Lord of the Admiralty (Mr. A. V. Alexander): I do not know of any small craft now being completed and despatched to another port to be dismantled, but shortly after V.J. Day some motor fishing vessels would have left the builders' works with their armament of an Oerlikon gun and two machine guns in place, and they would be disarmed at their port of destination. These motor fishing vessels in their disarmed condition are being used for various essential services.

Would the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that those who can be released to the fishing industry will be released for that purpose at the earliest possible moment?

We are doing our very best but, with regard to requisitioned drifters and motor fishing vessels, we have released 75 per cent. of those we requisitioned.

Fishing Vessels (Release)

37.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is aware that 12 trawlers are now tied up and deteriorating at King's Lynn; and if he will release these boats at the earliest opportunity.

Only nine of these vessels are trawlers, the others being yachts. Of the trawlers one is Dutch, and another a German prize. The disposal of both of these vessels is being negotiated with the appropriate authorities. The rest are British and were built between 1905 and 1918 and could only be converted for fishing at the expense of more modern and efficient vessels. Arrangements are being made to dispose of two of the yachts, the third is being used to accommodate the shipkeepers.

40.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if he is aware that a considerable number of ex-Servicemen are unemployed in Scotland, due to delay in the derequisitioning of former fishing boats; and what steps he proposes to take to expedite the release of these vessels, in order to ensure a speedy rehabilitation of demobilised fishermen, and thereby assist materially in augmenting the country's food supplies before the winter.

Three hundred and twenty-two Scottish fishing boats comprising 168 drifters and 154 motor fishing vessels have been released from Naval service up to 19th October, 1945. Sixty-five drifters and 33 motor fishing vessels remain on Naval service. It is expected that the majority of these will have been released by the end of 1945.

Rnvr

38.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what steps are being taken to establish the permanent R.N.V.R., in order that surplus modern equipment and diesel ships may be utilised.

:The constitution of the permanent R.N.V.R. is still under consideration. The hon. and gallant Member may rest assured that sufficient modern equipment and ships will be available for training purposes when a decision on the future of the Reserve has been taken.

Will the Minister bear in mind the fact that a large number of officers have already volunteered for this service, and take that into consideration when he is looking into the subject; and consider the re-establishment of the R.N.V.S.R.?

Reserve Officers (Civilian Employment)

39.

asked the first Lord of the Admiralty if he will consider the setting up of an organisation manned by Reserve officers to help with the problems of Reserve officers when demobilised in obtaining suitable employment.

No, Sir. This is the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and National Service, with whose Ministry the Admiralty maintains the closest contact through the naval officers attached to the Appointments Department.

Demobilisation

42.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what disparity in de mobilisation group numbers now exists between sick berth attendants and other specialised ratings in His Majesty's Navy.

Sick berth ratings, in common with the regulating, writer and stores branches, are scheduled to reach Group 25 by the end of this year. Ratings in the engine room and stoker branches are one group better off, whilst Seaman Chief Petty Officers and Petty Officers, together with cook and steward ratings are due to reach Group 27 by the same date.

In view of the sturdy health of His Majesty's naval forces, would the right hon. Gentleman not take steps to get these sickbay attendants released without further delay, as they are wasting their time?

I think my advisers know more about that subject than does the hon. and gallant Member.

43.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he will ensure that A/B P.J.X. 631934 Wilson, J., whose embarkation leave is due to end on 31st October, is not dispatched overseas while his application for a Class B release, initiated in September, is being considered; and whether, in conjunction with the Minister of Works, he will hasten the investigation of this case which has been outstanding for some time.

Block releases in Class B are made strictly in order of age and service groups. Wilson was very young when he joined the Royal Navy and has served for only a short period. He will not, therefore, be eligible for release in Class B until his age and service group is reached.

73.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he has any statement to make regarding the deferment in demobilising officers of the supply and secretarial branch of the Royal Navy.

The reply to this Question is unavoidably lengthy. I will, therefore, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate the answer in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the answer: The reason for the rate of release of the Supply and Secretariat Branch of the Royal Navy being slower than the average is that this Branch is now having to shoulder additional work in connection with the closing down of establishments and the administration of the release schemes. In order to ease the burden which it was foreseen would fall upon this branch, the entries have been increased as much as possible and redundant officers of other branches are being trained in these duties. As a result of these measures, the prospect of release of the Supply and Secretariat Branch has been slightly improved and it is hoped to release Group 16 by the end of the year.

There is, however, a number of older warrant officers who have been promoted from the permanent lower deck service and who are practically all in the earlier age and service groups. Their release is unavoidably deferred but it is hoped to release nearly all of them before June next year with the exception of course of any who volunteer to stay.

Wrns

44.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty the present strength of the W.R.N.S.; and how this compares with the figure of the month immediately preceding the termination of hostilities in Europe.

The present strength of the W.R.N.S. is 60,500, which is a reduction of 18 per cent. on the strength on the 30th April.

Is it not a fact that a very large number of these young women are sitting about browned off, with little or nothing to do? Could not their release be expedited?

On the contrary, the Women's Royal Naval Service are doing a most valuable part of demobilisation work. We are very short of male writer and supply ratings, and without the help of the W.R.N.S. we could not get through the job.

Engineer Officers

72.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether, in view of the shortage of engineer officers in the Royal Navy and of the high standard of all candidates at this year's examinations, he will increase the number of appointments to the rank of warrant-engineer by the inclusion of those who reached a percentage of over 75 per cent. in the recent examinations.

No, Sir. The proportion of Warrant-Engineers to the Keyham trained engineers in the Engineering Branch of the Royal Navy is carefully calculated to meet the requirements of the Fleet. The Warrant-Engineer lacks the long scientific training of the Keyham man and is not therefore generally interchangeable with men trained under the Keyham scheme.