asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether, when warrant or petty officers or ratings are promoted to mate, there is any understanding, implied or otherwise, that they will not be promoted to commander, but will only reach the rank of lieutenant-commander; and can he explain the small percentage of lieutenant- commanders, formerly mates, promoted to the rank of commander during the last three years?
The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative; lieutenant-commanders promoted from mate are considered equally on their merits with other lieutenant-commanders for promotion when the selections are made. None of the ex-mates whose seniority as lieutenant-commander is 1924 or earlier, the seniorities from which officers are now being promoted, reached the rank of lieutenant before attaining the age of 28, and the great majority were of the age of 31 or above. Consequently, it is only to be expected that promotions to commander would be very exceptional. The age of selection for mate, which governs the age for promotion to lieutenant, has since been appreciably reduced, and it is probable that the more recently promoted officers will have better chances of selection. In the nature of things, however, the exmate must be at some disadvantage as compared with the officer who has been trained as such from a much earlier age, and, it must also be remembered that it is only the best of the officers ex-cadet who are promoted to the rank of commander, and it is against these that the ex-mate has to compete.
Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate the fact that it is only the best of the petty officials and ratings who are promoted mate, and they have been through a double sieve, if I may say so, before they reach that rank, and will he see that the avenue of promotion from the lower deck to the quarter deck is widened?
I am quite aware that they are being selected for merit. As I have said, the age of selection for mate has now been reduced, and as that governs the promotion to lieutenant it will give them a better opportunity than they have had before.
Is it not bad luck for the excellent officers who were promoted during the War—simply because they were not able to qualify on account of age?