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Navy Supplementary Estimate, 1919–20.

Part of Orders of the Day — Civil Services and Revenue Departments and Navy Supplementary Estimates, 1919–1920. – in the House of Commons on 17th March 1920.

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Photo of Captain William Benn Captain William Benn , Leith

I rise to ask for an assurance on one or two points. At the beginning of the War many most patriotic people joined in the ranks because they wanted to get to the Front as soon as they possibly could. It was a very great credit to them. In the Yeomanry a number of men who joined in the ranks were qualified in every way to command, but, naturally, the commanding officers did not like to get rid of such good material, and it would be very hard if, after having served under the hard and unpleasant conditions of the ranks, that prejudiced their chance in the slightest degree. So if there is an increased elasticity in the application of this rule we should be the very first people to welcome it. But my point goes rather further than this. I do not like these words, "men of like standing." I want to make perfectly certain that there is no attempt to apply any social distinction or restriction. We should like to know that there is no social barrier. There are qualifications which it may be very necessary to enforce before allowing a man to go to a university, because a man can only profit by the training on a certain substratum of education; but apart from that necessary qualification we should like to be reassured that there is no attempt whatever to exclude people who are what may be called "not nice people," or that there is no social barrier imposed between men who have served in the Army and the benefit which the nation intended them to enjoy.