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Admiralty Employees, Singapore

Volume 524: debated on Wednesday 3 March 1954

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asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if he is aware that men residing in the naval base, Singapore, are often fined a day's or even two days' wages for offences committed outside working hours and that lorry drivers are fined at the will of the Admiralty without appearing at a civil court; and if he will take steps to put the civil employees resident at the base under civil law when outside working hours.

Admiralty employees who live in official quarters inside the Naval Base are subject to the civil law at all times. In addition, they are subject to local dockyard orders for the regulation of the base and are liable to be fined up to a maximum of two days' pay for offences against these orders. Motor transport drivers are liable, when on duty, to be fined under local dockyard orders. As regards the last part of the Question, I have no evidence of the need to alter the system I have described, in view of the circumstances at Singapore, where very large numbers of employees live inside the base.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the men and their families inside the base find themselves in a difficult position? Does he know that recently one of the men was evicted from his house and that a trade union official saw the camp commodore and told him that it was a case for the civil court, but the commodore said, "I am the law here "; and apparently he is the law inside the base although there are thousands of people living there and not out-side? Will the Minister look into the matter again?

If the hon. Member likes to give me more particulars, I will certainly look at them; but the point is that these families are subject to the civil law and to these regulations which are perfectly clearly laid down.

Can the Civil Lord tell us when the regulations came into operation, and whether they have ever received the consideration of the political members of the Department?

They came into force, I understand, some years ago. I do not think that they have been reviewed by the political side of the Department recently.

Will the hon. Gentleman review them to see that these people are treated in the same way as people in this country who are employed by the Services?

Certainly I will look al that, but I should very much doubt whether they could be very much altered owing to the special circumstances at Singapore, where 3,500 employees are living inside the Naval base in a way which does not happen elsewhere.

Will my hon. Friend ascertain whether the regulations were reviewed between 1946 and 1951?