§ 21. Sir A. Southby
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what were the difficulties which prevented the appointment, as Chief of Naval Air Services, in place of Admiral Dreyer, of a younger officer with experience of the Fleet Air Arm?
I cannot accept the implication in the Question. Sir Frederic Dreyer's appointment as Chief of Naval Air Services was made, as explained by my right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary on 14th October, because he was considered to be the most suitable man for a post which required at that stage to be filled by an officer who had proved that he had exceptional administrative capacity. Sir Frederic Dreyer had proved by the exceptional work he had carried out during this war that he met this requirement. The work he has already carried out whilst he has been C.N.A.S. has proved the wisdom of his selection for this appointment.
§ Sir A. Southby
Is it not a fact that in the Army competent officers have been removed from responsible posts simply because of their age, and are we now 1952 to understand that in the Navy, no matter how old they may be, men are to be retained in their posts although there may be younger officers with much more modern and up-to-date experience capable of doing the job?
The hon. and gallant Gentleman, with his well-known knowledge of the Navy, must recognise the strain upon the Royal Navy to-day. If it was not for the very large number of retired officers who are serving on active service to-day, we could not carry on.
§ Mr. Austin Hopkinson
In order to prevent the further bandying about of the names and reputations of distinguished officers, will the First Lord consider taking steps to make such changes as will restore the confidence of all ranks in the Fleet while at the same time making it evident that the country is not ungrateful to those who have necessarily exhausted themselves in her service?
This is a matter upon which I am at any time open to examination by the House, as a question of confidence as to whether the Naval Staff is properly chosen. I have good reason, and the country has good reason, to be grateful to them all, and changes will be made when they are necessary in the interests of the country and not for any other reason.
§ Commander Locker-Lampson
Is it not a great mistake to have the name of a gallant officer introduced into a Question in this House when he has done no wrong?
§ 22. Mr. Molson
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty the ages of the chief of the Naval Air Service and of his chief staff officer?
The Chief of Naval Air Services is 64. There is no such appointment as Chief Staff Officer to the C.N.A.S., but the Assistant Chief of Naval Air Services, to whom the hon. Gentleman presumably refers, is 56.
§ 24. Professor A. V. Hill
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty at what date prior 1953 to the war the present Chief of Naval Air Services was last employed; and in what capacity?
Admiral Dreyer's last employment, prior to the outbreak of war, was as Commander-in-Chief, China. The appointment terminated in January, 1936.