HC Deb 05 March 1918 vol 103 cc1871-2

Before coming to what is, after all, the most important point in a statement from the First Lord of the Admiralty at the present time, namely, the National and Allied position in relation to the submarine menace, there are one or two points of naval administration with which I would like to deal briefly—very briefly, on account of the time at my disposal.

The first is the organisation of the Admiralty itself and the Naval Staff. Information was given to this House on the 1st November, and further made public on the 14th January, as to the Staff organisation, Board organisation, and a revision of the research and experimental side of the work. I can only say that, so far as I and my colleagues are able to form a careful opinion, the new organisation is working as smoothly and effectively as its best well-wishers could have hoped. The division of the Board of Admiralty and the reorganisation of Admiralty business has had the effect of freeing the Naval Staff from administrative detail, and I feel confident has, at the same time, enabled the members, especially the naval members, of the Board not on the Naval Staff to have more knowledge of operational matters than they had before. it has also had the effect of expediting business and strengthening and increasing Board control. The House will remember that an eminent electrical engineer was appointed as Director of Experiment and Research in the Admiralty two months ago, but this was not the only change which was made in the direction of uniting naval and scientific knowledge. Time does not permit me to explain in detail, but I am assured, and feel confident myself, that the extremely difficult problem of mixing the naval and scientific elements so as to secure the best results is far nearer attainment than it has yet been. The fruits of the combined efforts are already apparent. If any hon. Member is particularly interested in this question of making full use of the scientific brains of the country, I shall be glad to give him further information on the subject.