HC Deb 15 December 1948 vol 459 cc1182-3
9. Mr. Benn Levy

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty what opportunities will be given to National Service men in the Royal Navy to become officers.

Mr. Dugdale

It has been decided that all National Service men in the Royal Navy shall have the opportunity to reach officer rank during their period of full-time service. National Service men with no special technical or professional qualifications will be eligible for officer rank in the Executive and Supply and Secretariat Branches. Those with special qualifications will be eligible also for officer rank in the Engineering, Electrical, Instructor or Medical Branches.

About two-thirds of the candidates will be selected at the end of their new entry training and will then undergo a special officers' training course lasting about four months, at the end of which those who are successful will become probationary Midshipmen R.N.V.R. The remaining one-third of the places will, however, be reserved for men whose qualities do not emerge at an early stage in their service, so that they may be given full opportunity to be considered for officer rank later on. Successful candidates will be required to join the R.N.V.R. and to accept the normal liabilities of R.N.V.R. officers.

Commander Noble

Is it expected that these men will be promoted during their 18 months, or during their service afterwards?

Mr. Dugdale

After their 15 weeks' initial training, they will be promoted as probationary midshipmen.

Mr. Gallacher

When these men become officers, will they be able to go into a State "pub" and have a glass of beer with the ratings?

Colonel Crosthwaite-Eyre

How does this apply to the Royal Marines?

Mr. Dugdale

We are working out details to apply a similar system to the Royal Marines, and we are in consultation with the War Office now on the matter.

Mr. Symonds

Will my hon. Friend see that these National Service men have every reasonable opportunity of showing what they are capable of, because many of them seem to spend months chipping paint in the Reserve Fleet?

Mr. Dugdale

I cannot accept that, but naturally the preservation of the Reserve Fleet is of great importance and some of them may be engaged on that.

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