§ MR. BELLAIRS (Lynn Regis)
I beg to ask the Prime Minister whether the Government will devote their consideration to alleviating the dissensions among senior naval officers; and, if so, whether the Government will impartially endeavour to arrive at a complete knowledge of the method of introduction and the value of the changes in administration and organisation which originated this antagonism.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)
Before the Question is answered I wish to ask whether the Prime Minister is not aware that so long as dissensions exist, and so long as these gentlemen are left in command, the life of every seaman in the Fleet is imperilled.
§ CAPTAIN MURRAY (Kincardineshire)
May I also ask whether, in the Prime Minister's opinion, the introduction by the Board of Admiralty of changes in administration and organisation, by whatever method, or however valuable or valueless these changes may be, can ever justify the display of antagonism on the part of the senior naval officers referred to in the Question?
§ THE PRIME MINISTER AND FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. ASQUITH,) Fifeshire, E.
I very much deprecate these Questions. The Government have no knowledge, apart from unverified rumours, of the dissensions alleged. If they find reason to believe that a state of things exists which is in any way detrimental to the discipline or smooth working of the fleet they will not hesitate to take prompt and effective action. As regards the latter part of the Question, I must repudiate emphatically the suggestion which it appears to convey. The direction of the naval policy of the country lies with the Government of the day, and it is the business of naval officers on active 1653 service not to discuss or criticise that policy but to carry it out with loyalty to their superiors, in harmony with one another, and with a single eye to the efficiency of the great service to which they belong.
§ MR. BELLAIRS
Without questioning anything the Prime Minister has said, I desire to ask whether he is aware that these dissensions extend to many senior naval officers, and that it is impossible for them to take service at the Board of Admiralty while these changes are in being without some inquiry into their justification?