HC Deb 25 November 1914 vol 68 cc1124-5

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if he will state why chief writers in the Navy are not allowed to attain commissioned rank; whether, in 1913, there was a shortage of accountant officers, and whether since that time the Admiralty have endeavoured to provide for this shortage by the special entry of assistant clerks from the shore who, after three and a half years' service, would be promoted to the rank of assistant-paymaster, and thus provide the accountant officers required for peace service and assistant-paymasters R.N.R. (formerly bank clerks, pursers and assistant-pursers of the mercantile marine, and clerks in ordinary commercial life); whether none of these new entry assistant-paymasters have any knowledge of naval accountant work, with the result that official reports have been sent to the Admiralty to the effect that they are not capable of performing the duties required of them; whether he is aware that 200 chief writers have been recommended for promotion; and if he will explain why these chief writers have not been promoted to a rank for which they are qualified?


The question of providing the necessary number of officers for the Accountant Branch, was under the consideration of the Admiralty when war broke out, and this question, in common with others, had to be deferred. The branch is manned in peace by officers entered as assistant clerks and by warrant writers, supplemented by assistant paymasters of the Royal Naval Reserve. To meet the growing requirements of the Fleet, additional entries of assistant clerks have been made in the past two years, and additional assistant paymasters, R.N.R., have been entered from the shore to meet the heavy demands made upon this branch. Generally speaking it is found that with a little experience the latter officers do their work very well, though in one or two isolated cases adverse reports have been received. The number of chief writers now serving who were recommended for warrant rank by the last half-yearly returns available was 113. To make any large number of promotions from chief writer would seriously deplete their numbers at a time when every available writer is required for his ordinary work, but it is under consideration at the present time to make some advancements. I regret, however, that I am unable to hold out any prospect of immediate advancement to commissioned rank.


Can the right hon. Gentleman say how soon he will be able to advance these men? They ought to have been advanced before.


The matter is under consideration. I should not like to give an answer now.