HC Deb 03 March 1937 vol 321 cc343-4
19. Mr. Kelly

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether it is the intention to appoint as Director of Dockyards a naval architect or practical shipbuilder, as was formerly the practice of the Admiralty?

21. Mr. H. G. Williams

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty why a naval officer of executive rank has been selected as Director of Dockyards instead of reverting to the practice which prevailed prior to 1917 of appointing persons with appro- priate technical and administrative experience of a kind suitable for the position?

The Civil Lord of the Admiralty (Mr. Kenneth Lindsay)

As already announced in the Press, the present Director of Dockyards will be succeeded on the 1st May next by Rear-Admiral C. P. Talbot, C.B., D.S.O. The policy of the Admiralty is to select for this post the most suitable person available when each appointment is made, irrespective of whether that person is a naval officer or civilian. The appointment recently announced was made on this basis.

Mr. Kelly

May I ask the hon. Gentleman whether, in view of the great shipbuilding programme which the Admiralty have in hand, they will now appoint an officer who is connected with, and who has practical knowledge of shipbuilding rather than one who has naval experience in the fighting forces?

Mr. Lindsay

I think experience shows that in this post what is needed is a man with more general abilities, and not of specific technical attainments.

Mr. Alexander

What has been the experience of Admiral Talbot in materials and in dockyard work?

Mr. Lindsay

I would like to give my right hon. Friend exact details, and I will do so at another time. Admiral Talbot has very considerable experience in both.

Mr. Kelly

In view of the fact that previously one with knowledge of shipbuilding was appointed, why has there been this reversal to a naval officer?

Mr. Lindsay

It has been the practice for the last 20 years, and it has been highly successful.

Mr. Kelly

It has not.

Mr. H. G. Williams

Would the hon. Gentleman seriously appoint as general manager of an engineering factory under his control a person having no experience of the running of such a factory?

Mr. Lindsay

I would like to point out that this position requires a knowledge of ships as well as of the work of shipbuilding.

Mr. Charles Williams

Do not officers have to fight and run the ships when they are built?