HC Deb 27 October 1943 vol 393 cc175-7
36. Rear-Admiral Sir Murray Sueter

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is aware that the Order in Council of 16th July, 1914, providing that service in the R.N.A.S. should count in all respects as service in a ship of war at sea, was cancelled by Order in Council of 24th October, 1916; and, since this alteration was not made adequately known to the officers then serving in the R.N.A.S., if he will reconsider his refusal to promote Captain Harold Briggs to Flag Rank on Retired List, for his services in making efficient the naval air arm which helped to destroy zeppelins and to master the U-boats in the last war?

Mr. Alexander

As the reply is rather long, I will, with my hon. and gallant Friend's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the reply:

I regret I am unable to accept the statement of the hon. and gallant Member that the change made in October, 1916, was not sufficiently promulgated. It was in fact issued as a general Order to the Naval Service in Admiralty Monthly Order No. 3045 of 17th November, 1916. This point is, however, of minor importance since no change was then made which affected the matter now raised. Order in Council of 16th July, 1914, provided that service in the R.N.A.S. should count in all respects as service in a ship of war at sea. This, however, was not sufficient to qualify an officer for promotion to Flag Rank, since for this purpose service in actual command of one of H.M. Ships was necessary.

In spite of the fact that at the time of his retirement, Captain H. Briggs had insufficient time in command of a ship of war at sea, which was then a necessary qualification for promotion to Flag Rank, the question of his promotion was given individual consideration together with certain other similar cases. This was done as it was considered there might be special circumstances in the case of some officers which would justify an exception being made to the normal rule. Had there been the necessity the Admiralty could have submitted a Memorial to His Majesty in Council to enable Captain Briggs to be promoted to Flag Rank. The Board did not, however, at that time consider that in the case of Captain Briggs the reasons were sufficiently strong to justify an exception, and after a careful review of all the circumstances I am unable to recommend any departure from the original decision.