§ 47. Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE (for Brigadier-General NATION)
asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office whether he can give the House an outline of the decisions arrived at as a result of the recommendations of the Stanhope Committee on the promotion of officers of the Royal Artillery?
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the WAR OFFICE (Mr. Douglas Hacking)
As the answer is of considerable length, I will, with my hon. and gallant Friend's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
§ Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE
Can the right hon. Gentleman say how many officers he hopes will take advantage of this scheme?
§ Mr. HACKING
I think 100 of the rank of major and below.
Following is the answer:
For promotion in any arm of the Service to be satisfactory two things are necessary. There must be an even intake of officers at one end, followed by a sufficient outlet at the other. Owing to the number of officers still serving who were commissioned during the years of the Great War, the intake into the Royal Artillery has been very uneven, and a large block exists to-day. Some of the officers in the lower half of this block, and those immediately below it, have consequently very little chance of promotion. 26 The Army Council have, therefore, decided to offer special terms of retirement to officers in the block.
One hundred officers in the Royal Artillery, of the rank of Major, and below, who were appointed to regular commissions with seniority prior to 1st January, 1919, will be allowed to retire on special terms similar to those offered to officers of the Infantry of the Line. These terms will be open for a period of three months for Officers serving at home, and six months for Officers serving abroad. At the end of this period, all applications will be considered at the War Office, and those who are selected to retire under this scheme will be gazetted out in December, 1935, and January, 1936.
It will be realised that these terms are entirely voluntary, and their object is two-fold:
These retirements would undoubtedly help promotion as regards the immediate problem of thinning out the block, but there still remains the fact that in peacetime there is insufficient outlet to ensure a reasonable flow of promotion.
- (a)to thin out the block, and improve the prospects of officers who remain;
- (b)to allow those officers whose prospects in the Army, owing to this block in promotion, are unsatisfactory, to retire with an increased pension at an age when they still have a reasonable chance of employment in the civilian world.
To improve the latter aspect of the situation the Army Council have decided to take the following steps:
- 1. To increase the number of Lieutenant-Colonels by a maximum of ten; most of these will he employed in command of Territorial Army Artillery Brigades, where a suitable Territorial Army Officer is not available, and where the Territorial Army authorities wish for the services of a regular officer to be made available.
- 2. To institute the Selected Majors List for the Royal Artillery.
The Army Council have approved of the introduction of the Selected Majors' List for all combatant arms of the Service.
- (a) The records of all Artillery Majors with two years' service, or over, as substantive Major, or five years as Brevet Major, will be considered by the Selection Board. Those who, it is considered,
27 will eventually be fit for promotion to Lieutenant-Colonel will be placed on a list to be termed the Selected Majors' List, from which Lieutenant-Colonels will be chosen as vacancies occur. Those who, it is considered, will not be fit for promotion to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel will not be allowed to serve on until they reach the age limit for Majors, but will be placed on half pay twelve months after they have been rejected for the Selected Majors' List, provided they have then completed at least three years' service in the substantive rank, and have attained the age of 45 years.
- (b) As regards the officers placed on the Selected Majors' List, it is not anticipated that it will be possible to promote them all in due course to Lieutenant-Colonel; the number of vacancies will probably not allow of this, and there may also be cases in which Majors prove not to be so good as was at first considered probable. Officers who fail to secure promotion will come under the provision of Article 493 of the Royal Warrant for Pay, etc., 1931, as permanently superseded; and as a general rule they will be placed on half-pay. Such officers will be considered for a step in rank on retirement, such step to carry no financial benefits. This step in rank will not be given automatically to all officers placed on the Selected Majors' List and not subsequently promoted, but only to those who are considered to merit promotion, but fail to be selected. The effect of these two steps will be:
- (1) To widen the opportunities for promotion at the top, and so quicken the flow of promotions in the ranks below Lieutenant-Colonel.
- (2) To improve, in addition, the promotion prospects of officers below the rank of Major.
These are the broad outlines of the scheme; the details will be communicated to the Army in the course of the next few days.