§ 17. Mr. Driberg
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what arrangements have been made to grant free passages to the families of Naval personnel stationed abroad for long periods.
I should like to apologise for the length of the reply. The Government have decided to accept the principle of paying the cost of passage and removal expenses for the families of naval officers and men appointed to serve normal commissions on stations abroad, other than B.A.O.R., where suitable accommodation can be found for them on the station. Provision of accommodation and payment for it must remain the responsibility of the officer or man concerned: and permission to have his family with him will be subject in each instance to the sanction of the Commander-in-Chief who will assure himself that the man has suitable and accessible accommodation to which to bring his family, and that the main object of the scheme—to enable the man to be with his family during periods on leave and off duty—will be achieved. I should like to make it quite clear that owing to the shortage of accommodation this concession will not mean that every man serving abroad will at once be able to have his family with him. Until there is enough accommodation, there will have to be a limit on the number of passages granted.
The concession will for the present apply to all ratings appointed for a normal commission to shore or harbour duties abroad, and to officers, chief petty officers and petty officers appointed for a normal commission to a sea-going ship based on a port abroad. It will apply equally to Royal Marines of corresponding ranks. It will be limited to those areas to which the families of Servicemen generally are admitted. The arrangements will be brought into force at an early date, and 1138 will be applied under the conditions described above to all at present serving abroad who can normally expect to remain for at least another year on the station.
In all cases application must in the first instance be made by the officer or man himself to the Commander-in-Chief through the usual Service channels. As soon as adequate accommodation becomes available, the scheme will be extended in accordance with the principles enunciated in the opening words of this statement.
§ Captain Marsden
Can the Financial Secretary explain " accommodation " a little more, because he used the word several times? Will this be a matter for the senior naval officer on the station? Is it Government accommodation which will be made available, or accommodation generally obtained privately?
It is accommodation generally obtained privately. At the moment it is quite impossible for the Admiralty to provide the necessary accommodation, particularly in places such as Malta.
§ Mr. Stephen
In view of the fact that the limited accommodation will be less than the number of applicants, will there be a ballot, or on what principles will it be decided who is to get the accommodation?
It will be a question of hardship. The man who has the greatest need will have first preference.
If the hon. and gallant Member reads the answer, he will see that ratings ashore will be entitled to accommodation when serving abroad.