§ Lord CHARLES BERESFORD
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is aware that men now serve for twenty-two years instead of twenty years for the minimum pension of 10d. a day; whether he intends to grant an increase in the minimum pension for the two extra years served; whether he is aware that a difference exists under the present system of promoting ships' steward's assistants to ships' stewards, owing to promotion being given at the different depots instead of by a general roster; and whether he is aware that at the present moment a junior assistant may be promoted to ship's steward over the head 1592W of a senior assistant, not on account of merit, but because the junior may belong to a depot where there is a vacancy?
§ Mr. McKENNA:
The period of twenty-two years now requisite to qualify for a long service pension, as against twenty years previously necessary, was fixed upon the recommendation of a committee appointed in 1881 to inquire into the pensions of seamen and Marines, with particular reference to the large and growing charges for non-effective services. In the opinion of the Admiralty no case has been made out for a change. The system of promotion of the ship's steward branch is precisely the same as that in force for all classes of naval ratings which are advanced in vacancies, that is to say each port is responsible for the drafting, mobilisation, and advancement of the men belonging to the division. The question of reverting to the system in force prior to 1907 of a central roster for the smaller classes of naval ratings has been raised from time to time, but it has been held that the fact that in these classes promotion may at times be more rapid at one port than another is insufficient reason for departing from the general principle of the decentralised responsibility of each port for meeting its own requirements which is essential for efficiency in drafting and mobilisation.