§ MR. COHEN (Islington, E.)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been called to time fact that during the last 16 years no promotion has been made from the Second to the First Division of the Clerical Establishment of the War Office; and whether, having regard to the recommendations contained in paragraphs 11 and 118 of the second Report of the Ridley Commission, amid to the presence of some 170 Second Division Clerks who are eligible for such promotion, under the conditions of their service, provision can now be made for filling vacancies in the First Division by promotion from the Second Division, instead of by direct appointment outside the service?
§ *THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN,) Stirling Burghs
Yes, Sir; my attention has been drawn to the fact stated in the first paragraph of the hon. Member's question, and I have given careful consideration to time position of the Second Division clerks in the War Office. I think time hon. Member is mistaken in the inference he appears to draw from paragraphs 11 and 118 of the Commissioners' Report, and he will find an opinion plainly expressed by them in paragraphs 53 and 54, which is directly opposed to that inference. The present condition of the War Office establishment is, I fear, not favourable to any immediate prospect of special selections from the Second Division for appointment to the First. The number of First Division clerks is still largely in excess of our requirements. That excess is in course of reduction, and the only addition that can be justified at present is the occasional introduction by open competition into the First Division of one or two younger men, in order to secure among its members the gradation of age which is necessary for the efficiency of such a body.
§ MR. A. O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether there are not several clerks in the Second Class at the War Office who 521 have already been recommended by their superior officers for promotion to the First Division?
§ *MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
I am not aware of that fact, but I believe there are some who are qualified for the duties that might be entrusted to them. I have, however, explained the reasons why, in the present condition of the War Office, it is practically impossible for us to exercise that power of exceptional selection which the Commissioners recommend shall be occasionally exercised.