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Royal Navy

Volume 480: debated on Wednesday 8 November 1950

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"Scharnhorst" And "Gneisenau"

1.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether he will consider republishing the despatch covering the escape of the "Scharnhorst" and "Gneisenau" from Brest during the last war, together with all additional information on this episode in the possession of his Department, the Air Ministry and the War Office, in view of the offence given to the people of this country by the propaganda recently put out by the Soviet Ministry of Marine, particularly to the relatives of those members of His Majesty's Forces who lost their lives in that action.

The Report of the board of inquiry which was published in 1946 as Command 6775 is still available from the Stationery Office. The Report refutes any suggestion that we deliberately allowed the "Scharnhorst" and "Gneisenau" to escape, and the board of inquiry stated that they were impressed by the evident determination of all our forces to press home their attacks.

I have seen only newspaper summaries of the article in "Red Fleet," but if they are accurate, then that journal only besmirches its own record. It does nothing to touch the honour of those who died in fighting a gallant but unsuccessful action.

Property (Malicious Damage)

2.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty how many cases of suspected sabotage have occurred to Royal Navy property or equipment in the last six months.

There have been 11 acts of malicious damage in His Majesty's ships and establishments during the last six months, but the circumstances do not point to a planned campaign of sabotage.

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether any of the findings on the explosion at Bedenham are likely to be made public at all, and, in particular, whether anybody is incriminated to any extent?

This Question asks only how many cases have occurred. It is not about proceedings being made public.

Branch Officers (Promotion)

3.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty what are the prospects for the promotion of branch officers to lieutenant.

Most branch officers who serve to the age of 50 become lieutenants before reaching that age. In the past three years under one per cent. have failed to do so.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that many branch officers, to my knowledge, are feeling very insecure about promotion to lieutenant in view of the fact that they have to wait a very long time, apparently, before being considered, and that they are then old to be lieutenants, which makes them unsuitable for further promotion?

I am sorry to hear that, because in fact 99 per cent. of them do attain this rank before they retire. There is not a great deal of insecurity that they need worry about.

Pensions

4.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty what improvements are proposed in the rates of naval pensions.

Is it not a fact that, although the improved rates of pay have led to improved recruiting for the Navy, the skilled artificers, when they get to reasonable rank, are unwilling to stay on but would rather retire, not because of the pay, but because of the insufficient pension?

Shore Establishments (White Ensign)

5.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty what ship's name is attached to Queen Anne's Mansions, S.W.1, in view of the fact that it flies the White Ensign and not the Admiralty flag.

None. Sir. The White Ensign may, with Admiralty approval, be worn ashore on buildings used for naval purposes. Such establishments need not necessarily be independently commissioned.

Is not this naval establishment flying the White Ensign, and may it not, therefore, be expected to have flying somewhere a commissioning pennant? If not, is this because it is regarded as a tender, suitable to be hoisted up and carried on board some other stone frigate in London?

Would the hon. Gentleman say when this building will be derequisitioned?

Is it not a fact that the people employed in this establishment are borne on the books of H.M.S. "President"?

Royal Corps Of Naval Constructors (Pay)

6.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty when he expects to make a statement on the pay of the Royal Corps of Naval Constructors.

The revised scales of pay of the Royal Corps of Naval Constructors, fixed on the basis described by my right hon. Friend the late Parliamentary Secretary on 19th October, 1949, were promulgated to all concerned in February, 1950. Since then the Government have decided to put into operation the recommendations of the Chorley Committee on the level of Civil Service salaries, and the scales of salary in the higher reaches of the Corps are subject to adjustment for this.

Could the Civil Lord tell us anything about the entry of these officers now? He told my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Merton and Morden (Captain Ryder), on 26th July that there had been two resignations and no entries so far this year. If we are to have the new construction we must have the best officers.

I am afraid the hon. and gallant Gentleman will have to put that question down. All he has asked about is the pay.

Will the hon. Gentleman also give consideration to the question of officers of the Chief Inspector of Ordnance, who are in very much the same boat; and will the Admiralty give consideration to bringing their pay into line with modern ideas?

Can the hon. Gentleman say by what percentage the pay of officers of the Corps has been increased since the end of the war?

Recruiting Staff (Pay And Conditions)

7.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty if he will make a statement on the pay and conditions of the Naval Recruiting Service.

Revised pay and conditions for ratings employed in the Naval Recruiting Service, effective from the 1st September, 1950, have been announced. With the hon. and gallant Member's permission, I will circulate a statement in the OFFICIAL REPORT. Revised terms for the officers are not finally settled.

When does the Parliamentary Secretary think they will come to a decision on this matter, which has been going on for a very long time?

I have made a special announcement of the ratings because it has been going on a long time. We will try to get it through as quickly as we can.

Following is the statement:

I. FUTURE ENTRIES

1. Entry.—In future entry is to be restricted to men who have completed 22 years' pensionable service, and who have held at least the rank of petty officer or sergeant Royal Marines for at least five years continuously. Such men are to be re-engaged or re-enlisted on an active service basis as recruiters for five years, and may be allowed to continue in the recruiting service, up to the age of 55, if required for so long.

2. Rank.—The ratings of petty officer recruiter and chief petty officer recruiter, and Royal Marine ranks of sergeant recruiter and colour sergeant recruiter are to be instituted. All entries into the recruiting Service will be as petty officer recruiter or sergeant recruiter, and promotion to chief petty officer recruiter or colour sergeant recruiter will be given after five years satisfactory service in the Recruiting Service, subject to recommendation.

3. Pay.—Special rates of pay have been approved for ratings and other ranks of the Recruiting Service as follows:

Petty Officer or Sergeant Recruiter

Chief Petty Officer or Colour Sergeant Recruiter

Daily rate

Daily rate

s.d.s.d.
Basic pay 150176

Badge Pay as for general service ratings will be payable in addition.

Progressive Pay will be at the rate of 6d. a day for each period of four years' Service in the rating, as for general service ratings. The pay of general service ratings and other ranks Royal Marines transferred to the Recruiting

Service will be based upon the above rates for petty officer or sergeant recruiter, irrespective of any higher rate of pay received while in general service.

4. Marriage Allowance, Qualifying Allotment, Ration Allowance, Lodging Allowance and London Allowance.—To be at Royal Naval general service rates, and payable under the same regulations.

5. Pensions.—Time in the Recruiting Service will count for increase of pension under normal rules, and consequently pension will not be payable concurrently with full pay.

II. ASSIMILATION OF EXISTING PENSIONER RECRUITERS

1. The pensions of existing pensioner recruiters are to be suspended from 31st August, 1950, and they are to be transferred to the rates of pay shown in Part I, paragraph 3, with effect from 1st September, 1950. Pensioner recruiters who have already completed five years' satisfactory service in the Recruiting Service are to be promoted to chief petty officer recruiter or colour sergeant recruiter with effect from 1st September, 1950, and placed on the appropriate rate of pay from that date. Those who have not yet completed five years' satisfactory service should be promoted when they do so.

Progressive Pay.—Service for progressive pay will count from 1st September, 1950, or date of promotion, if later.

Badge Pay, Marriage Allowance, Qualifying Allotment, Ration Allowance, Lodging Allowance, and London Allowance.—Payment is to commence from 1st September, 1950, under the same conditions as for general service ratings, as laid down in Part I, paragraphs 3 and 4, above.

2. Re-assessment of Pensions.—Further service in the Recruiting Service from 1st September, 1950, will count for increase of pension. The details have not yet been settled.

3. Implementation.—The existing pensioner recruiters are to be transferred to active service conditions forthwith, and the revised rates of pay and allowances issued to them as soon as possible.

Anti-Submarine Training

8.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether submarines with fast submerged speeds are now freely available for training exercises with anti-submarine flotillas.

A number of fast submarines are available, but I shall not be satisfied until we have more.

I am glad to hear that, but the Parliamentary Secretary did tell the House the other day that he was giving the utmost priority to new devices for anti-submarine warfare, and I hope that those new devices will not be available to crews who cannot be trained because of the lack of targets.

Retained Personnel (Period Of Service)

10.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty on what date he anticipates that naval personnel now due for pension, but whose services have been retained owing to the present emergency, will be released.

I fully sympathise with the natural wish of those retained or recalled to know for how long their services will be wanted, and whilst I cannot give a definite date, it is my noble Friend's intention to make an announcement at the earliest possible moment.

Will my hon. Friend see that the men concerned are themselves given as long notice as possible, because to my certain knowledge men among my own constituents have already lost civilian jobs for which they had contracted before the notice for their retention was made.

I fully agree with my hon. Friend, and it is my strong desire that we should give them a definite period as soon as it is possible to do so.

Devonport Dockyard (Suspensions)

11.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty how many men have been suspended in Devonport Dockyard because of Communist activities or associations; and over what periods such suspensions have been in operation.

Two men have been suspended in Devonport Dockyard because of alleged Communist activities or associations. The first has been sus- pended since 15th September and the second since 27th October.

Is my hon. Friend aware that quite alarmist reports have been circulating in the area regarding this matter, and that the reassuring reply he has given me will be received with great satisfaction throughout the area, and particularly in the dockyard?

Can the suspension of a Communist each month be described as "reassuring"?

At the moment they are, whilst we are considering whether we can find other employment for them or whether we have to discharge them.