§ Mr. WALTER GUINNESS
asked the Secretary of State for War whether the Duke of Connaught has been removed from the Presidency of the Selection Board, and, if so, will he say why this step has been taken, seeing that he would be in a better position to discharge the duties of that office now that he is released from the Mediterranean Command, and can attend all the meetings of the Board, than he was when owing to absence from home he was unable to preside and had no voice in the proceedings during eight months out of the year; and whether His Royal Highness, being a field marshal, re-remains permanently on the active list and eligible for active employment at any time in a position where he might be required to resume the Presidency of the Selection Board?
§ Mr. HALDANE
His Royal Highness has ceased to serve on the Selection Board because it is considered to be essential in the interests of the Service generally that the Board should consist of officers whose active military employment keeps them in close touch with the Army personally and through their staffs. The reply to the last part of the question is in the affirmative.
§ Mr. ARTHUR LEE
I would ask whether the right hon. Gentleman is aware that the War Office Reconstitution 1528 Committee, which recommended the appointment of this Board in 1904, especially recommended that it should consist of officers entirely outside the War Office; whether he is further aware that, of the nine officers at present composing the Board, only three are not members of the War Office staff or who have not been very recently connected with it; and whether, under these circumstances, he will see his way not only to carry out the recommendations of the Committee as to forming the Selection Board, but also in view of the very strong feeling which exists in the Army on this point, will he consider the advisability of retaining upon the Selection Board the services of an officer whose impartiality, wide experience—
§ Mr. ASHLEY
Why should an officer, whose headquarters are at Malta, be more in touch with the Army than one whose headquarters are in London?
§ Mr. HALDANE
The hon. Member does not seem to be aware that there is a large number of troops and officers at Malta, and that the Commander-in-Chief at Malta has a staff which brings him into personal contact with the troops under his command.
§ Mr. HALDANE
That does not arise out of the question here, but I will answer it. I am the person primarily responsible for giving advice to the Sovereign as to appointments, and I found it was impossible with only the commanders-in-chief outside the War Office to get sufficient information for the Selection Board on the other officers. The members of the Army Council of the rank of lieutenant-general sit on the Selection Board, because they are not only in contact with a very large number of officers, but because they have got staffs which enable them to make inquiries. The arrangement is working extremely well, and I cannot be responsible for the prejudices of ignorant people outside.