The committee has only recently started work and I cannot at this stage say when it will report. It would be contrary to established Admiralty practice to publish a report of this nature, but I will, of course, make a statement to the House when I have considered the report and taken decisions upon it.
May I thank the Minister for his reply and ask him if he is aware that on this side of the House we were delighted last week at the declaration that he is determined that boys of ability, whatever their social origin, shall have a chance to become officers in the Navy, but that in our opinion the recent Dartmouth results show a departure from that policy, that, therefore, this report becomes of key importance, and that we look forward to his statement with interest?
I must correct the hon. Gentleman. Really there has been no departure from the policy laid down by my predecessors and from the pledge which was twice given by myself to this House—and I give it a third time—on the point mentioned in the Question.
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty the terms of the remit to the committee which is examining entry to Dartmouth; and what is the composition of the committee.
As the terms of reference are rather long, I will, with permission, circulate them in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
The composition of the committee which I have set up, in consultation with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education is as follows: The Chairman of the Committee is the Judge Advocate of the Fleet. The other members are the former Deputy Chief of Naval Personnel (Training); the Director of the Naval Education Service; the Headmaster of the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth; the Headmaster of Hele's School, Exeter; the Director of Education, North Riding of Yorkshire; two civil officers of the Admiralty; two representatives of the Ministry of Education; and a representative of the Scottish Education Department. The Admiralty provide the Secretary of the Committee. I will, with permission, circulate details of the names in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
Will the First Lord assure the House that the committee will not simply be looking into this question from the narrow point of view of social origins, but will be looking into it also from the point of view that there is a big reservoir of possible naval officers which has not so far been touched, and that there should be a method of entry which will encourage a number of these people to come in?
I would ask the hon. Gentleman to wait until he sees the terms of reference of this committee which will be in HANSARD tomorrow. He will see that they are very wide and, I think, will cover the points he has raised in his supplementary question.
Am I right in thinking that there is no representative of an ordinary State-aided grammar school or county secondary school on this committee, and as those are the boys most vitally affected, why has he not put at least two headmasters of that type of school on the committee?
There are two headmasters of different types of school, quite apart from the County Director of Education and the member supplied by the Ministry of Education to this committee. I think that when the hon. Gentleman sees the names he will see that every phase of education is represented.
Is it not clear that the majority of the committee have affiliations with the Admiralty, whose views are well known on this subject, and that as to the rest, the majority are drawn from the type of schools who are not concerned with promoting this entry, and therefore is it not further clear that there is considerable class prejudice against this type of entry?
The hon. Gentleman really has no right to make that allegation, and I beg him to wait and see the names of the committee which he can read tomorrow in the OFFICIAL REPORT. I repeat that I think they will satisfy him.
May I ask the First Lord if he is aware that I heard him read the names and can judge the composition of the committee? Further, is he aware that views have been expressed by very senior officers in the Navy that they much prefer the public school type of entry to the other boys, and that therefore this committee is prejudiced before it starts work?
Terms of ReferenceThe Working Party are asked to review the scope of the present methods of officer recruitment in the Executive, Engineering and Supply Branches and to report whether in their view the scope of those entries could be widened sufficiently to provide adequate numbers or whether some alternative method or methods of entry should be introduced. The committee will be furnished with information concerning the requirements for officers of the various branches and the numbers entered for the competitions of the last few years.They are also asked to examine what additional sources might he available to any alternative method of entry, what sort of results would he likely to flow from the opening up of those sources, and how such sources might best be tapped.In considering alternative methods of entry, the Working Party should bear in mind not only that the prime aim is to secure the best possible officers for the Royal Navy but also the necessity that any alternative method which may be introduced must be one which will give a fair chance to every boy who has the qualities and qualifications required as a foundation for training as a Naval Officer, whatever his social background or type of school. In the light of this, they should consider:
- (i) at what age or in what age range an additional entry should be and whether the age should be the same for candidates from all types of school;
- (ii) whether there should be fixed quotas of vacancies for candidates from different types of school;
- (iii) whether a written examination or an interview should be regarded as the principal criterion for judging boys of whatever age might be chosen;
- (iv) whether such a written examination should consist wholly of subjects which would normally be expected to come within a boy's school curriculum or the subjects should he governed in any way by reference to the requirements of a Naval career; and
- (v) how far boys of whatever age might be chosen could be expected to commit themselves either to a Naval career generally or to any particular Branch of the Royal Navy.They are asked to make recommendations to the Board of Admiralty upon these points.