HC Deb 14 October 1942 vol 383 cc1611-2
17. Sir John Mellor

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty the previous experience of flying and service with the Fleet Air Arm of the present Chief of Naval Air Services?

Mr. George Hall

Although the present Chief of Naval Air Services has not served in the Fleet Air Arm, he has had considerable experience of this Service in important sea appointments during his distinguished career. Both as Flag Officer in command of the Battle Cruiser Squadron, which in those days included the aircraft carriers of the Home Fleet, and as Commander-in-Chief, China, he has had operational and administrative control of important units of the Fleet Air Arm. Admiral Dreyer was also for 2½ years Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff during a period when one of the functions of that appointment was the superintendence of naval air work.

Sir J. Mellor

With the greatest possible respect for this very distinguished Admiral, may I ask whether there is no younger man with practical experience of flying who could suitably be promoted to fill this very important position?

Mr. Hall

There is no suggestion that there is not such a person, but, at the same time, it was felt by the Board of Admiralty that, taking into consideration the difficulties of that time, Admiral Dreyer was the most suitable person to occupy the post.

Mr. Bowles

How long is it since this Admiral was on the active list?

Admiral of the Fleet Sir Roger Keyes

Is not the Minister aware that there are naval officers who have had very considerable flying experience in the Fleet Air Arm but who have not been employed in connection with naval aviation during the whole course of this war?

Commander Sir Archibald Southby

Is it not a fact that there are junior flag officers who have had long experience in the Fleet Air Arm and who have not been employed, although they are perfectly capable of taking this job, instead of an elderly, though very distinguished, flag officer being brought back?

Mr. Hall

That does not alter the fact that when Admiral Dreyer was appointed he was regarded as the most suitable man for the post.

Mr. Pickthorn

Can the Minister say what were the dates of the experience to which he alluded, and what were the services of the Admiral for five years before this appointment?

Mr. Hall

I could not, without notice.