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Royal Navy

Volume 498: debated on Wednesday 2 April 1952

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Shipbuilding And Repairing (Steel Allocation)


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is yet in a position to make a statement about the allocation of steel to the shipbuilding and ship-repairing industry for the next quarter.

The allocation of steel for the shipbuilding and ship-repairing industries for period II is approximately at the same level as for period I.

Will the right hon. Gentleman do what he can to assist this industry, because there is some apprehension in shipping circles about the future trend of freight rates, and this may seriously affect the industry?

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that I realise the difficulties and, as I told him a fortnight ago, I am doing all I possibly can to help.

Can my right hon. Friend say whether the arrival of American supplies will soon result in an increase in the steel allocation?

I cannot give a definite answer on that point. I hope it will be better, but I cannot make a definite statement now.

Personnel (Political Views)


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty in view of his action regarding Commander Young, based on the political views held by him, what steps he now proposes to take with respect to the many men now serving, and who have served, in the Royal Navy, and who hold views identical with those of Commander Young.

None, Sir. I am not aware of any officer or man whose conduct is causing the same embarrassment and discredit to the Royal Navy as that of Mr. Edgar Young.

In view of the reply which the right hon. Gentleman has given to the first part of the Question, will he not reconsider the petty action he took in respect of Commander Young, at the same time wipe out the obloquy that he himself has inflicted upon the Senior Service?

Could the right hon. Gentleman say whether the basis for getting rid of someone either from the active list or the retired list is what he thinks or believes or the expression he gives to those beliefs, because, as the First Lord has told us, he is retaining men in the Service who hold views similar to those of Mr. Young?

I think there is some misunderstanding behind the Question of the hon. Member. Mr. Young has been taken off the retired list not because of his political utterances, but because he has used his naval connection to add weight to those political utterances, especially when making speeches abroad.

Does the First Lord mean that he described himself as being what in fact he is, a retired commander of the Royal Navy?

Does the First Lord realise that his action will have the backing of almost the whole of the people in this country?

Naafi Parcels, Korea And Malaya


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty to what extent the forces for which he is responsible, other than personnel afloat, will be included in the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes' parcels scheme inaugurated for the military Forces in Korea and Malaya.

The scheme will apply to any naval or Marine personnel serving ashore with the Army to the same extent as it applies to Army personnel.

Would the Minister endeavour to make it clear that these parcels are not sent out from this country but are packed and delivered in Malaya or Korea as the case may be? It is not clear.

Long-Range Aircraft (Operational Experience)


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what steps are being taken to enable officers to gain operational experience in long-range shore-based aircraft.

Naval officers have, of course, no occasion to operate such aircraft, but an understanding of the operation of R.A.F. long-range aircraft is acquired by naval officers at the joint service schools and certain R.A.F. courses.

Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that our senior naval officers have, in fact, sufficient experience in the operation of these aircraft?

Reconnaissance Aircraft, Indian Ocean


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what is the Admiralty's policy with regard to reconnaissance aircraft in the Indian Ocean.

I am sure my hon. and gallant Friend will realise that it is not in the public interest to give details of such policies.

If my right hon. Friend cannot give details, will he say whether it is proposed to carry it out with shore-based aircraft and if so, are there sufficient supplies of them?

Can I ask my right hon. Friend if it is his policy to retain flying-boats?

Miners (Release Applications)


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty how many men have applied for release from the Royal Navy, in order to return to the coalmines, in the period from 1st October, 1951, to 29th February, 1952; and how many of these men held higher rank than able seamen.

Nine applications have been received by the Admiralty but all have been refused since the special scheme for the release of ex-coalminers from the Armed Forces to return to underground work came to an end on 30th September, 1951. All men in the Royal Navy and Royal Marines were given sufficient warning of the approaching end to the scheme. No application has been received from any rating above able seaman.

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us why his Department can supply this information and the War Office cannot? Secondly, will he tell the House how many of these men were ignorant of the previous scheme which lapsed last September; and will he use all the influence he can to get these men back to the mines? Is he not convinced that they would be doing a much more useful job digging coal than sailing around in ships?

I am afraid I cannot answer for any other Department, nor am I able to give the numbers for which the hon. Member asked. I believe there is a later Question in the hon. Member's name addressed to my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, and perhaps he will await that answer.

Will my right hon. Friend do something about the hon. Gentleman's assertion that naval service consists of sailing round in boats?

Would it not be better, in view of the acute shortage of coalface workers at the moment in the mines, to grant unconditional release to coalminers in the Navy, rather than import Italian labour?

That is a policy which was introduced by the previous Government, and I am not prepared now to give an answer on a wider basis.

Would the First Lord consider the point made in Question 48 today—that if these men were serving in Korea or the Far East last year, they were debarred from applying under that scheme? Will he consider re-opening the scheme on a limited basis for those very few men?

I cannot anticipate a Question which is later upon the Order Paper. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will wait till it is reached, when we may be able to satisfy him.

Overseas Allowance, Malta


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty why he has cut the local overseas allowance for officers of lieutenant-commander's rank and below in Malta, while this allowance has been raised in Cyprus and Gibraltar.

Local overseas allowance is paid to compensate for the additional cost of living overseas which is, of course, variable. The cost of living in the U.K. having on the whole risen more than the cost of living in Malta since the last rate was fixed, married officers of the ranks in question have suffered some reduction. This is mainly due to the marked decrease in the difference between rents in Malta and the U.K.

Does the lessened allowance apply only to lieut.-commanders and below that rank in Malta, in view of the fact that the rate for chief petty officers has been put up to exactly the same as for captains, both of them being considerably higher than for commanders?

I think that my hon. and gallant Friend is incorrect in that. I think he will find that though alterations had been made previously there was a special decision, for which he asked the reasons, and he has been given an answer.

Ships (Design)


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if he is aware of the increasing ugliness of naval ships designed since the "Dido" and "Town" class cruisers and the war-time fleet and "Hunt" class destroyers, culminating in the haphazard profile of the new "Daring" class destroyer; and if he will direct attention to the practicability of designing pleasant-looking ships without detracting from their fighting efficiency.

Her Majesty's ships are designed to be fit for their purpose, namely, to fight with the maximum efficiency, and I can assure my hon. Friend that our latest warships will not be found wanting in this respect.

In spite of a number of innovations having taken place since sail gave way to steam, it has never yet been impossible to design handsome ships. Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that the fighting efficiency of a ship is contributed to substantially by the keenness and fondness of the sailors in her for that ship, because of their appreciation of good lines in these as in other circumstances?

I assure my hon. and gallant Friend that I was on the "Diamond "only on Monday last, when I found that the men had a great affection for their ship. If he has any better or more attractive design himself, perhaps he will let me know.

Does the right hon. Gentleman consider that anybody at the receiving end of a naval shell is more reconciled to the effects of it if he knows it comes from a beautiful battleship?