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Royal Navy

Volume 441: debated on Wednesday 6 August 1947

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Surplus Foodstuffs, Singapore (Sale)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty what quantity and kind of Royal Navy surplus foodstuffs are being offered for sale to civilians in Singapore since 1st July.

Approximately 163 tons of miscellaneous foodstuffs, surplus to Naval requirements, were on offer for sale to civilians in Singapore on 1st July. They were offered for sale locally on the advice of the Ministry of Food. The items comprised tinned milk, dried and tinned fruits, tinned salmon, tinned meat and vegetables, pulses, cereals, pickles and fruit juice.

Armaments Supply Department (Scientific Staff)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty if, in view of the shortage of scientific staff in Government service, he will consider permitting members of the scientific staff of the Armament Supply Department of the Admiralty, established or not, who are qualified for inclusion in the Scientific Civil Service, to transfer to other scientific departments should they so desire.

In considering applications by employees to transfer to other departments, it is necessary to have regard to the requirements of the duties on which they are engaged at the time. A number of employees of the Armament Supply Department have already been released for employment in Scientific services elsewhere, and the point has been reached where further releases may be detrimental to the efficiency of the department. While, therefore, no unqualified undertaking to release further applicants can be given, any application for release by an officer whose services would be useful in a scientific capacity to another department will, none the less, receive full consideration in the light of the relevant circumstances.


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty if he is yet able to say when the promised decision will be announced regarding the revised salary scales of scientific officers on production duties in the Armament Supply branch of his Department.

I regret that I am at the moment unable to add to the answer given to the hon. and gallant Member on this subject on 23rd April. Consideration is proceeding with every desire to reach an early conclusion but this is a complicated and difficult matter.

Does not the Civil Lord think 10 months a long time to give consideration to this question? Does he not realise how disappointed people are in this Department at the long delay in getting what they feel is their due?

As I told the hon. and gallant Gentleman on a previous occasion when he asked a question, it is my desire to get the matter speeded up at the earliest opportunity, but the matter concerns more than one Department. I am trying to do what I can. It may please the hon. and gallant Member to know that whatever decision is reached will be made retrospective.

Regular Engagements (Transfers)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether he will make a statement about the opportunities provided for release from the Royal Navy for those men who signed on for a Regular engagement in the early stages of the war because recruiting on a hostilities only engagement in the branch of their choice was not open in the Royal Navy and Royal Marines.

Yes, Sir. My noble Friend is now prepared to give very sympathetic consideration to applications for transfer from a continuous service engagement of 12 years to a special service engagement of seven years with the Fleet and five years in the Reserve, or its equivalent in the Royal Marines, in cases where the following conditions are satisfied. The man entered between 1st September, 1939, and the date on which recruiting on hostilities only engagements was opened for his branch and is serving on a 12 years' continuous service engagement because he was unable to enter the Navy by any other method; he has served at least seven years; is willing to enrol in the Royal Fleet Reserve to complete 12 years' man's service and there are compassionate circumstances. Men entered as seaman boys or communication boys, artificer apprentices, band boys and boy buglers, are excluded. The hon. and gallant Member will recognise that the necessary formalities to establish that an application satisfies these conditions will take some time and it is unlikely that the earliest releases under the scheme can be expected much before the end of the year.

Could the Minister say whether there are any other arrangements for the boys who, he said, were excluded?

Will not the men who take advantage of this transfer suffer some disadvantage at the present time?

No, Sir, they will be in exactly the same position as men who took advantage of this transfer early in 1946.

Dockyard, Chatham And Sheerness (Bricklayers)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty how many bricklayers are employed in His Majesty's dockyards at Chatham and Sheerness, respectively.

The numbers of bricklayers employed at Chatham and Sheerness are 76 and 18, respectively.

The Question on the Paper asks how many bricklayers, and not the rate of bricklaying.

Commissions (Lower Deck)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty how many commissions from the lower deck have been granted in the various sections of the Royal Navy during the six months ended 30th June; and how this figure compares with the same period in 1939.

The following direct commissions from the lower deck were granted during the six months ended 30th Tune, 1947:

Executive Branch2
Air Branch3
Supply and Secretariat Branch3
Engineering Branch8

In the executive branch an upper yardmen's course was begun in the autumn of 1938 and 24 ratings were promoted on the 1st September, 1939, or an average of 12 during the six-monthly period. In the engineering branch six ratings were promoted to commissioned rank during the first six months of 1939. Promotions from the lower deck to commissioned rank in the Air and Supply and Secretariat Branches did not begin until 1941 and 1942 respectively.

Is the hon. Gentleman satisfied with this rate of progress backwards under the Socialist Government?

We are naturally not satisfied that there should be so few who have succeeded in passing this examina- tion. I hope that the number will be increased. It may interest the hon. and gallant Gentleman to know that 47 sat. I hope that we shall have a better result in future. We must keep the standard up.

How many have been promoted to commissioned rank from warrant rank in the period in question?

Current Affairs (Instruction)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty if he will make a statement on instruction in current affairs in the Royal Navy.

Yes, Sir. The present orders provide that, so far as possible, one hour a week during working hours shall be devoted to training in current affairs in His Majesty's ships and establishments but this aim has seldom been achieved. While it is impossible owing to pressure of work to alter these orders so far as ships at sea are concerned, my noble Friend has decided to make a change in all shore establishments and ships of the Reserve Fleet. In future, in these establishments and ships, one hour each week will be set aside within working hours for education in current affairs. This education will take the form of lectures and discussions and will, it is hoped, be of value both to the individual sailor and to the Royal Navy as a whole.

Could the Minister say whether he has yet read No. 24 Map Review? It was only too apparent last week that he had not.

Certainly, I have read it before most carefully and I am prepared to discuss it at any time that I have permission from Mr. Speaker to do so.

Is not the best instruction in current affairs afforded to the Royal Navy, as to the rest of us, by the abject failure of the Government's economic policy?

Will the hon. Gentleman take steps to protect his colleagues on the Front Bench from the experience of one of them in the last war who, when attending to lecture to sailors on the subject of current affairs, was himself thrown into the sea?

Release Dates (Notice)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty what notice is given of the actual date of their release to men due for demobilisation.

Forecasts of probable dispersal dates for specified age and service groups are given to the Fleet about three months before the dispersal period for these groups begins. This period extends over approximately two months. The forecasts are confirmed about ten days before the dispersal begins. The actual date upon which a man in the groups due" for release is dispersed depends upon the drafting situation and upon local conditions.

Can the Minister give an assurance that every possible attempt is made to warn a man of his release?