HC Deb 21 July 1899 vol 74 cc1536-7
SIR J. COLOMB (Yarmouth)

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty whether candidates for commissions in the Royal Marine Artillery have to pass, previous to joining the Royal Naval College, the same examinations as candidates for commissions in the Royal Artillery and Engineers have to pass, previous to joining the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich; could he state how much time is subsequently spent in studies and instruction at the Royal Naval College, the gunnery ship "Excellent," and at headquarters before the whole course of artillery training at the public cost is completed; whether, during the whole course of their professional career, these officers have to undergo various retrainings and examinations in order to secure continuous efficiency; Is he aware that no officer of the Royal Navy has yet passed the Woolwich advanced artillery class, while certain officers of the Royal Marine Artillery have done so, and hold the p.a.c. certificate; why it is the Admiralty do not now utilise, as formerly, the scientific, technical, and practical artillery knowledge of the Royal Marine Artillery officers, acquired at the expense of the State, by employing them on committees or in posts of administration specially concerned with naval ordnance and the artillery service of the fleet; whether he proposes to fully explain to the House, when in Committee on the Navy Estimates, the reasons of the Admiralty in generally excluding from duties they are specially trained to fulfil the officers of this branch of the naval service; and what is the policy of the Admiralty in respect of the use and application of this artillery corps.

THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. G. J. GOSCHEN,) St. George's, Hanover Square

The answer to the first question is "Yes," and to the second question, "Three and a-half years." "Officers of the Royal Marine Artillery are required to re qualify, and to pass the usual examinations for promotion, but these officers, unless they are gunnery instructors, are never, during their whole period of service, re-qualified in the Naval Gunnery Schools. The Admiralty have not considered it necessary to allow naval officers to go through the course referred to; but three officers, R.M.A., have passed the Artillery College. With reference to the last three questions, there is no system or policy of exclusion such as the hon. and gallant Member suggests, and accordingly I have no reasons to give. For example, three Marine Artillery officers are employed in the ordnance factories. The object of this valuable corps is to take their share in the artillery duties generally connected with the fleet; for example, they are specially employed in ships where there are the largest guns. They are not sent to the smaller ships. As regards the purely scientific side, the hon. and gallant Member should bear in mind that scientific matters relating to ordnance questions, both naval and military, are mainly dealt with by the War Department.