§ MR. BYRON REED (Bradford, E.)
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty whether ships of war, fitted out at Sheerness Dockyard, are taken to Chatham for commission when ready for sea; whether this is in conformity with the practice of former years; whether complaints have reached him that this practice puts the town and trade of Sheerness at a great disadvantage; and whether he can arrange for a fair share of commissions to be given to Sheerness?
§ *LORD G. HAMILTON
Under the complete scheme of mobilisation which has been recently introduced, the object of the changes made has been to collect and keep together in an efficient state the ships, men, and stores of the Reserve. In consequence, the ships fitted out at Sheerness, when passed out of the Dockyard hands, are placed in the Fleet Reserve at Chatham, where the depôts of men, stores, &c, are also placed, and where there are extensive basins and other appliances useful for the purpose of rapid commissioning. This arrangement has worked well and economically, and no departure from it would be now feasible, as it would permanently disturb the whole principle of rapid mobilisation. On the other hand, a new Gunnery School has been established at Sheerness, which will have the effect of increasing the number of men permanently maintained in the port, and, further, a large number of second 183 class stokers are now stationed at the Naval Barracks there for training.