§ 11.16 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary and Financial Secretary to the Admiralty (Mr. John Dugdale)
I beg to move,That the Statement of the Estimated Income and Expenditure of Greenwich Hospital and Travers Foundation, for the year ending on 31st March, 5949, which was presented to this House on 27th May, be approved.These estimates show an increase both in income and in expenditure. The income is, of course, largely uncontrollable. There is a decrease for instance of some £5,000 through conversion of stock. In general, there is nothing very much we can do to affect the size of the income. There is an exception, as hon. Members will note on page 6 of the accounts, where we have transferred a portion of the money from the Reade Foundation to Greenwich Hospital. This money has during past years been put to capital, but we thought that as in fact it is income we were entitled to transfer a certain amount of it to the income account while still adding to the capital of the fund by putting the greater amount of the income from this particular foundation into capital.
With regard to expenditure, there is an increase in certain items due to the fact that we are now able to carry out a certain amount of repair work, particularly painting, which was necessary and might have been done before had circumstances allowed it. Another increase hon. Members will see is in the amount allocated for pensions. As a result of the Greenwich Hospital Act passed last year there are both more people now who are able to get pensions—the category has been widened—and the amount which can be given to each individual has been increased. We therefore thought it advisable to increase the sum for pensions by £2,000. But the main item of expenditure is on the Royal Hospital School at Holbrook. Here hon. Members will see that the cost has gone up £3,400. This is mainly due to increase in prices, in salaries paid under the Burnham Scale and in rates. But the average cost per boy has gone down. It rose steadily from 1936 to 1946 but it has now begun to fall. In 1946 the cost per boy was £194. Last year it was £181; this year it is £165. It is not a great fall, but it is a definite fall, and is a movement in the right direction, In fact, I think this 523 has been, so far as the school is concerned, a good year.
The new Management Committee has got down to work and we have the assistance of my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport and the hon. and gallant Member for Horncastle (Commander Maitland). Generally speaking, we have managed to get this School on a very firm foundation. We have appointed a new headmaster—the gentleman who was previously acting as assistant headmaster—and we have appointed a new bursar. These new appointments have brought about, with others, a number of economies, and I should like to pay a tribute to the work which has been done by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport, and others, in bringing about reforms involving a saving of about £2,800 a year by discharging superfluous employees. We have increased the average number of boys from 534 in 1946–47 to 583 in 1947–48, and we estimate for 640 boys for next year. That is the maximum number which the Ministry of Education, as well as ourselves, consider appropriate for this type of school. We hope, therefore, that having reached this number we shall be in a different position from what we were in previously. In the past we wanted more boys than the number of applicants we received, but in the future we shall have more applicants than vacancies. The school, I hope, is at last on a firm foundation, and it has every right to be considered one of the best schools of its kind in the country.
§ 11.22 p.m.
§ Mr. J. P. L. Thomas (Hereford)
The Financial Secretary has added some information which we found to be lacking in reading the Estimates on the paper, and we are grateful to him. But, I am sorry to see the deficit which we prophesied from these benches last year has occurred this year although it is hidden by a transfer of £2,000 from the Reade Foundation. Perhaps I may deal first with the income side and go into details on points on which we should like to have an answer. I see that the revenue from estates in the North of England has dropped by £1,200. Comparing these Estimates of this year with those of last year, we find that the rents of land, 524 cottage property, and farms have gone up by £280, but sales of timber, at £1,300 for the year is only a little more than half the estimated income of £2,520. This is a big decrease, and I hope we shall have an explanation on this particular point. Also, on page 2, the estimated income by way of interest on 5¼ per cent. New South Wales inscribed stock has fallen by £1,497. Again can the Financial Secretary give us any information about this fall? On the same page there is an unexplained estimated income from "other receipts" which show an increase of £5,950. Quite obviously a sum like that plays a very large part in preventing expenditure overhauling income, but there is no explanation so far as I can find of what the receipts are, and perhaps the Financial Secretary will be good enough to tell us.
When we turn to the expenditure side of the Estimates, we see that the amount that is to be spent on the estates in the North of England is less than last year. Salaries come to more, but expenditure on farms and buildings is to be less. In the Debate last year the Financial Secretary was warned from this side of the House that the expenditure on the estates would be likely to increase during this year, as, indeed, they have increased for all private landlords. I feel when private landlords are threatened with dispossession for not spending sufficient on maintenance and improvements, it is perhaps unfortunate, to say the least of it, that the State landlord gets away with spending less. These are times when the need for increased agricultural production has never been greater, and it is rather deplorable that instead of the Estimates showing a subsantial increase for maintenance and improvements, we actually see a decrease in these Estimates.
When we come to the property at Greenwich, we see there is an increase in the estimated expenditure of £3,200 a year. I am sure the House will not cavil at this, but I should like to call the attention of hon. Members to the fact that the tenants at Greenwich have obviously been more successful in squeezing maintenance grants out of the trustees than have the agricultural tenants in Berwick. I am sure that all sides of the House heard with satisfaction that there is an increased Estimate from £1,500 to £3,000 for the education of officers' children. The Financial Secretary will remember that we 525 on these Benches last year expressed the hope that this increase would take place. We also welcome wholeheartedly the proposed increase of £2,000 in special pensions for seamen.
If I may be so bold in the presence of the hon. and gallant Member for East Hull (Commander Pursey), I should like to turn to the question of the Royal Hospital School at Holbrook. I should like to thank the Financial Secretary for the further information which he gave us tonight. I am particularly glad to see that the average cost per boy, which worried this House very much from year to year and which worried me when I was Financial Secretary to the Admiralty, has fallen on this occasion for the first time for many years. That is indeed very satisfactory. The Financial Secretary in his speech talked about the economies that have been brought about. They seem to come largely from the discharge of personnel, but in spite of that we have an increase in the estimated expenditure of £3,400. I remember the Financial Secretary's speech last year and today I re-read that speech to refresh my memory. In his speech he said that the Admiralty hoped to secure a bursar of such excellence that he would be able to effect considerable economies in the running of the school. I am glad that a bursar has been found and I wish him well. I do not know how long it is since he was appointed, but the fact remains that there is an increase in the estimated expenditure to the amount I have mentioned.
I was also delighted to hear the tribute paid by the Financial Secretary to the committee on which there are representatives from both sides of the House. They are doing admirable work, and we thank them for it and wish them success in their efforts to create further improvements in the year that lies ahead. I agree that some economies have been made. Some of these economies are to my mind a little odd, but perhaps we shall get further enlightenment from the Minister. We learn that at the Royal Hospital School they saved £500 on provisions. I wonder whether it is food. I am very glad to hear of the increase in the number of boys but in view of this increase, the provisions and the food ration would appear to have been scaled down even more drastically than the present Estimates show. If it is not the case I hope the Parliamentary Secre- 526 tary will be able to assure us that this is so, otherwise the boys seem to be in for a dismal year. I doubt whether the boys will feel any recompense for the cutting down of food by knowing that there is an increase in medicines in the same column.
There is a saving, again on page 5, in laundry at the Royal Hospital School. This saving is £150 in the present year. When I saw this petty economy I could hardly believe the Board of Admiralty was responsible. I began to wonder which Minister of the Crown had been tampering with Holbrook. I presumed it might have been the Minister of Fuel and Power with his well-known campaign against personal cleanliness, or possibly the President of the Board of Trade who wishes to establish in fact for the 1940's what he conjured up in his vivid imagination for the 1920's—a barefoot era for schoolboys. I would recommend to the Financial Secretary that the attention of the Lord President of the Council, the Socialist party "boss," should be drawn to this economy, because under the new classification laid down by the Minister of Health it is going to drive these boys willy-nilly into the Tory camp.
If I may now pass to the Travers Foundation, I must say that we are getting a little uneasy about it. The estimated expenditure exceeds the estimated income by exactly the same amount as last year, and it is to be met once more out of surplus cash balance. What is this surplus cash balance, how much is it and how long will it last? The time is coming when there should be a thorough investigation into the whole question and I hope the Admiralty will decide to hold this inquiry in the coming year.
These are all the points I wish to make on these Estimates. I hope the Financial Secretary will be able to give answers later in the Debate, but apart from these questions I think we have nothing more to say from this side of the House.
§ 11.34 p.m.
§ Commander Pursey (Hull, East)
This is the one opportunity in the year to deal with these accounts for Greenwich Hospital and the Royal Hospital School, which cost £1 million to build. The Parliamentary Secretary has drawn attention to the cost and to the increase in the number of boys. But his figures are not disclosed in the accounts because the 527 number of boys is given as 534 and the cost per boy £194. There is a note saying that the cost this year is likely to be £165, but certainly his other information does not tally with the statement before us. In 1939 the number of boys was 830. In 1943 there was the reorganisation of the school decided on as a result of the Bruntisfield report. There was a Debate in the House in 1944 when it was announced that it was decided to abolish the captain superintendent. The reason given was that with a captain superinintendent it was not possible to get a headmaster of sufficient standing to take on the job of headmaster. Well, of course, that does not stand up, because a similar position has always existed at Dartmouth College and other nautical training establishments.
In April, 1944, it was decided to advertise for a new headmaster, and, in view of what the Parliamentary Secretary said about the appointment of the second headmaster, it is of interest to recall the relevant parts of the advertisement in the "Times Educational Supplement" of 8th April, 1944. It stated:The school is a boarding school for those sons of seamen who desire to enter the Navy. It is the intention of the Board, while retaining the Naval bias of the school, to raise the standard of the education to the level of the best technical and secondary schools in England.Well, no one will disagree with that. But let us see what it said later on:Candidature for the headmaster is restricted to (a) Naval officers who are university graduates with educational experience and (b) graduate schoolmasters who have served in the Navy.The salary was stated to be £1,250 to £1,500 according to qualifications and experience, a rent-free residence and certain minor perquisites which included a gardener and a boy.The normal complement of the school is 860—reduced to 655 as a war-time measure—all boarders.At the end of 1944, a new headmaster was appointed. He was not a success and he left at the end of two years, so I have no criticism to make of him now. That was the first experience of the new scheme.
In 1945 and 1946, when the accounts were presented to this House, the school was criticised and as a result an advisory committee was appointed. I have no criticism to make of them tonight, for what I have to say is entirely an 528 Admiralty responsibility. They advertised for another headmaster. The No. 2 master was appointed as "caretaker headmaster" and served for a year. Then at the end of last year it was decided to make his appointment permanent. There may be some advantage in that, particularly in this period of transition. He has been there two years as No. 2, and for a year on his own as caretaker-headmaster, and I understand that he is within two years of the retiring age and is, therefore, likely to go in two years.
But what happened as regards salary? He was serving at a salary of £750. The post had previously been advertised at £1,250 to £1,500, and admittedly his predecessor was getting a higher sum, so the argument can be—that he is paid the rate for the job. But he gets £1,900 plus £250, plus a gardener and a boy. Well, this sounds to me like a coalmine manager's job prior to nationalisation. Surely he must have said when that decision was made, "Oh, what a beautiful morning," for the first time of seeing the Royal Hospital School. For, surely, in the educational world there can be few examples where a No. 2 master goes from £750 to over £2,000 for his total emoluments in one jump? But that is not what I am complaining about. It was the rate for the job. The question I put to the Parliament Secretary is this: "Where has this led the Admiralty." The 1943 decision was that they could not get a No. 1 headmaster with a captain-superintendent and therefore the captain-superintendent must go, and he went.
The requirements needed in the headmaster, as given in the advertisement, were that he must have certain qualifications and naval experience. What has the Admiralty got now? The present headmaster came with the first headmaster as his No. 2. He had never served in charge of a school as headmaster, so that he would not have been considered for the post with the original list of applications, by virtue of his qualifications and the fact that he had not served in the Navy. So the Admiralty have now got a No. 2 man headmaster, having got rid of the captain superintendent, whereas they could have got a similar type of individual while still retaining the captain superintendent. Moreover, this headmaster served in the Army, not in the Navy, so we have a school with a naval bias with a headmaster who has been an Army officer. It 529 is the same as if the Army Duke of York's School had a headmaster who had been a lieutenant-commander in the Navy. If that farcical position existed, what would Field-Marshal Montgomery say if he went to the school for a function and was received by a headmaster in lieutenant-commander's uniform? It just does not make sense.
Another point is that this school is in close proximity to the Naval Training Establishment at Shotley, and there should be a close tie-up between the heads of the two establishments. Then comes the question of the attitude of the headmaster as regards uniform. At British Legion and Old Boys' Association meetings, and so on, he appears in his uniform as a major. The majority of the other people are in naval uniform. So you have the position of the chief officer, who was previously the second-in-command, wearing uniform as a retired commander and senior to the headmaster whom he is serving under. I suggest this is quite farcical, and that the individual should not have been appointed, except as a temporary arrangement for the next two years, until he reaches the time for retirement.
Now I come to the post of bursar. For 40 years or more, as I know, that post has been held by a retired paymaster-commander of long service. Private schools are keen to get similar types of officer for the post of bursar, and presumably therefore that should be the ideal type for a naval school. The last headmaster, when dealing with the personnel side, said quite openly in various places that they were out to clear up or clean out the naval element.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport (Mr. Callaghan)
That is quite untrue.
§ Commander Pursey
Whether it was the decision of the headmaster, or whether it was an Admiralty decision, it was decided that the bursar should go, and a new one has been appointed. One would have thought that when they wanted a new bursar they would have consulted the Paymaster Director-General, as the head of the Department and the Admiralty Civil Employment Committee, with the idea of getting a long-service naval officer. Admittedly they advertised the job, but the individual selected is a man from a bank. He is aged 36, and as far as I 530 know has had no experience of school work at all. If he has, I am quite prepared to be corrected. As regards naval service, he served with the R.N.V.R. during the war. I have no complaint to make about the R.N.V.R.; they did a good job in the war, but that is not long service. He got the rank of acting lieut.-commander (S) and then of acting commander (S), but that does not require much service in the R.N.V.R., and he knows little or nothing of the naval service that he can convey to other people, and particularly to the boys. There is no question, in my submission, that this post should have gone to a naval officer of long service; perhaps, if it was a question of keeping down the age, to one who had retired early.
That is not the only point about the change. The Parliamentary Secretary talked about economies. What has been the result of this change? More expense. The previous bursar was paid £540 a year, though admittedly he had a naval pension. The new bursar is being paid £700, so there is an increase of £160. That, I suggest, is of little advantage to the school. In fact, it is another job which should have remained for the long service naval officer which has gone outside.
The next officer to be considered is the chief officer. Previously, with the captain superintendent, he was the second-incommand. The complaint is that he is too old. He joined the Navy in the same year as I did, but being a cadet he would be a couple of years younger. That puts him just over 50. To say that somebody at 50 is too old is, I suggest, stretching that argument rather far. Moreover, the individual at the moment is short of staff and he has to take classes in the gymnasium. Consequently he must be physically active and cannot be complained of so far as physical capacity is concerned.
There, again, private schools were keen to get this type of officer because he was a qualified physical training instructor. I have had no communication with him nor has he with me. I do not know the man, but I say that this is another case where it appears that there is a question of working the naval element out. It may be argued that he has been there since 1933, when the new school was opened at Holbrook, and so consequently he knew how it was run properly under the 531 captain superintendent, and may not fit in with the present scheme. What I am concerned about is that the man has not been given a proper chance to do his job since the captain superintendent left. His duties have been reduced and the staff has been reduced, and consequently his responsibility and standing have been reduced. Anyhow, he has to go. What I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary is, whether he is to be relieved and is there to be another chief officer, or whatever the title is to be? More particularly, what is to be the naval policy there?
From the chief officer I pass to the naval instructors. At the old school the instructors lived in and the masters lived out. The instructors were with the boys 24 hours a day and were their "father confessors" to whom they brought all their troubles. When the new school started, certain duties were taken away from the instructors and they were handed over to the masters. Consequently the standing of the instructors went down. The masters are young: they have interests outside the school in the village and further afield, and have not the interest in the boys that the instructors had, but the school authorities complain that the instructors do not do their job and do not spend sufficient time there.
The answer is that they are not allowed to carry out the duties they were previously allowed to do, and it is not fair to put the blame on them. Moreover, their numbers have been reduced. Before the war the number of instructors was 13, one for each of the houses, one for the gymnasium and one in charge. Now each house has about 50 boys and surely, if one instructor is looking after 50 boys, he has an ample job, particularly with turns of leave, when he has to be responsible for two houses. But again, there are duties which have been reduced. A particular example is the question of boat instruction, both boat sailing and boat pulling. Surely in a naval school such as this, those who are experienced in certain subjects should be teaching them; in other words, the naval instructors ought to be teaching boat instruction. But not at all. In this Harry Tate's school boat instruction has been transferred to the masters with the result that one amateur yachtsman and another who knew nothing about boat instruction at 532 all, are carrying it out. The consequence was that when this instruction changeover took place, boys who had been properly trained in boat pulling, instead of receiving the command, "Back starboard; give way port" were told to pull and push. One of the boys said to me, "We thought we were on a ruddy roundabout."
That is not the whole of the story. We come to a far more dangerous thing—boat sailing. Masters go away sailing with boys who are not capable of handling a boat in an emergency. Only last year one put a boat ashore on the mud. It might be argued that we have all done that, but to show how they try to cover up their deficiencies, the boys had to wade ashore in the mud and the boat was left, the masters getting up at 2 a.m. under cover of darkness to get the boat afloat in order to keep the story quiet. It is no good the Parliamentary Secretary telling me that this did not happen because I had this information from boys and other individuals who were there who know these stories are true. If he has not been able to pin the story down, it shows how clever they are in covering up their traces. The school and the Admiralty owe a duty to these boys, and if there is any question of loss of life due to an incompetent schoolmaster being in charge of a boat and it capsizes there will be a scandal of the first magnitude.
For these and other reasons, those of us who have been watching this school closely for a number of years—and I was educated there myself—are convinced that the school has "touched bottom" from a naval point of view. There is nothing of the old school tradition which was a good one, with its large Old Boys' Association having a continuous interest in it. This second headmaster has no knowledge of the Navy, and little interest in it. Admittedly at last year's prize-giving he made a fulsome speech about the Navy, but one speech is not a good criterion for a year. The bursar has got little or no interest, and relieved a man who was interested in the boys, and who was a member of the yacht club. The chief officer is going, and his duties have largely gone. Who is going to be keen on such a job, as head of the naval department but responsible to an Army officer as headmaster in a naval school? The whole of the naval element, maybe including the 533 chaplain, are wondering what is going to happen, and who is going next. There is nothing worse than that.
I say to the Admiralty that I can understand the argument if it is to abolish the whole of the naval element. Then there would be no reason for the Admiralty running the school at all, and it might just as well be handed over to the Ministry of Education. But, as I believe they still want recruits for the Navy and spend thousands on sea cadets, and three-quarters of the boys still join the Navy, presumably they still want to get boys from the school into the Navy. If so, the Parliamentary Secretary should say so quite definitely tonight, and say what naval element is to be retained, and what naval duties are to be performed by the naval staff. For instance, certain duties, which are quite clear-cut—boat instruction, swimming, gymnasium, parade ground, etc.—some of these are at the moment under naval instructors—should be cut off from the masters and handed over to the instructors and the chief officer. Even that will not provide a complete solution.
During the four years since the decision to abolish the Captain Superintendent, I have maintained an independent attitude, and not been "pro" or "anti" captain superintendent. I have not said a word on the matter until tonight, one way or another. But I now say frankly, as one who knew the school before, that it will not be run properly from the naval point of view—and it is admittedly a school with a naval bias—until a new captain superintendent has been appointed. There have been over three years of the present scheme. There will be another two years, and there will then be a chance for the Admiralty to reconsider their decision to make this change. Then what will be required will be a proper naval staff no more than is required for the proper naval duties—to win back for the school again its reputation, its tradition, and the success it had before.
The present Board of Admiralty are not responsible for the decision. It was made during the war. There is nothing political in this—except that the present Minister of Defence was then First Lord of the Admiralty. He may well reconsider the decision in the light of what is going on. My information is that when the change 534 was made the Sea Lords and the Naval Staff were practically all against it. What are the views of the present Naval Staff? Do the Sea Lords go down to the school? The last Second Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Arthur Power, went last year for the annual prize-giving. He is now Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean. But that one visit is not enough.
Besides, it is necessary to visit the school on ordinary days as well as on speech days. Has the First Sea Lord, Admiral of the Fleet Sir John Cunningham, been down to see the school? If not, in view of the speeches he is making at sea cadet meetings, and other meetings for recruiting, he ought to go to the school for which the Admiralty are responsible, and for which he, presumably, shares some responsibility, to see that it is properly run. Or is it the case that we have to wait until the next First Sea Lord, Admiral Lord Fraser, takes up his duties? Then, is he likely to appear in uniform on a horse, preceded by a marine on a horse, carrying his flag of St. George as an Admiral, as he did recently at a review on Southsea Common?
I am grateful for what the Financial Secretary has said about increasing the number of boarders, which ought to have been increased long ago. What is also required is an increase in the numbers of the poorer type of boys, for whom the school was originally instituted in 1694.
§ 11.59 p.m.
§ Commander Maitland (Horncastle)
I had not intended to intervene, but the hon. and gallant Member for East Hill (Commander Pursey) has brought me to my feet. I never can understand why he makes these speeches about the school. I think it must have something to do with that feeling which, I suppose, most of us have about our schools—that they have never been the same since we left them. However, most of us generally contain ourselves, and do not bring so much out into the open as the hon. and gallant Gentleman seems always to do about his old school. I should like to say to him that I think his speech has done a great deal of harm to a school that is being extraordinarily well run, and which I hope and believe will continue to be so run, and for which the Management Committee, of which I acknowledge I am one, are trying to do their best. On the Management Committee we have the Parlia- 535 mentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport, who after all has quite a lot to do with the Navy, and every other single member of that committee has something directly to do with the Navy. The only member of the committee who has not is the headmaster, who was a soldier. I would simply like to say that I think that he is an extremely good headmaster. I think he has done magnificently in an extremely difficult time. As the hon. and gallant Gentleman knows, he had to take over in an extremely difficult period in the school's history. I think he has done a first-rate job.
§ Mr. Guy (Poplar, South)
During the discussions on the Estimates for 1946–47, a great deal was said about the setting up of the advisory committee. I would like to ask the Financial Secretary how many times the committee has met during the year, and whether any recommendations have been made. Further, have any of the recommendations made last year resulted in any of the economies which my hon. Friend has mentioned this evening.
§ 12.1 a.m.
§ Mr. Dugdale
If I may, with the leave of the House, reply, I would like to refer first to the points raised by my hon. Friend the Member for South Poplar (Mr. Guy). The Management Committee—it is not an advisory Committee—has met, speaking offhand, on seven or eight occasions during the year. It does not give advice to be taken by someone else; it makes decisions which have been acted upon, as I hope was made clear in my original speech and will be made clearer by one or two of my answers.
The hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. J. P. L. Thomas), asked first about the revenue from the Northern Estates. There is a big decrease in revenue because of a reduction of the sales of timber. These sales obviously vary from year to year, and it happened that last year less timber was sold. With regard to the question of the change in the value of stocks, that is due to conversion, and has nothing to do with the Admiralty. It is the result of conversion of certain Australian Stock, which now bears a lower rate of interest than the previous stock bore.
Regarding the questions on other receipts, the major item is a sum received for War Damage compensation from the 536 War Damage Commission, in respect of total loss claims. This is a non-recurring item. It is a windfall of £4,600 and will not recur. Regarding expenditure upon the Northern Estates, the hon. Member twitted us somewhat with not being as lavish in expenditure as a private landlord was, he said, expected to be. One point which I would like to bring to the hon. Member's notice is that £600 of the saving is due to savings at Middleton Park, which is now let. We do not, therefore, have to pay the wages of a gardener and a gamekeeper, so there is a saving on that. In fact, the net increase on repair and maintenance of the estates is up by £600. These sums are ludicrously small in comparison with most of the sums which we discuss in this House. Usually we are discussing thousands or millions where now we are discussing hundreds. The hon. Member asked, I think, about tree planting. We are, in fact, proceeding with the programme of afforestation in conjunction with the Forestry Commission, and we are taking the Commission's advice.
Regarding Holbrook School, I will deal mainly with the points made by the hon. and gallant Member for East Hull (Commander Pursey). I would like to say, in the first place, and I say it quite categorically, that I am very sorry to have to tell my hon. Friend that I considered his speech was both irresponsible and mischievous. It was not calculated to do any good to the school, and if he has any influence, it will do harm to it; but, if I may say so, I do not think that his influence is such that his remarks will cause much harm.
§ Commander Pursey
Can the Financial Secretary deny any of the statements which I made? If he can, I will withdraw them, but this is the place in which statements should be made, and it is his duty to deal with them.
§ Mr. Dugdale
He refers to the school—a school in which he says he has an interest—as a Harry Tate school." Such a remark is not likely to benefit Holbrook; nor is it calculated to encourage boys to go to the school. Further, he claims that the figures which I gave are not correct. They can be found in the Estimates, and the figures are exactly as I have stated. He then referred to the headmaster's salary of £1,900, and said: "… plus an entertainment allowance." But the salary 537 includes the entertainment allowance. It is clearly stated on page 4 of the Estimates. He then complained that the headmaster was an Army officer. Since when are we to be ashamed of the fact that a man is an Army officer? Why should it be wrong for a man chosen for his qualities as a headmaster to have served also in the last war; as indeed many other schoolmasters did? He did his job during the war, but he was appointed because he happens to be a very good headmaster. My hon. Friend commented on his wearing military uniform. As to that, I can say that he were military uniform once at a parade, and he did so at the request of the British Legion.
My hon. and gallant Friend then referred to the bursar. This gentleman, who my hon. Friend considers "unnaval" was the first recommendation of the Director-General of Supply and Secretariat Branch. He recommended him as the best of all the volunteers who came forward from his Branch of the Admiralty. It was considered that he was outstanding, and the work which he has done already shows that he is perfectly competent for the job, and that he was a thoroughly satisfactory choice.
So far as the naval staff is concerned, my hon. Friend made some remarks about it being decided to "clean out the naval staff." At no time was it ever decided to do that. It is one of those remarks, among the many which were made, that is calculated to do harm to the school. We intend to appoint a new chief officer, and to remove those faults which we admit existed in some of the naval training. The standard will be improved so that the school shall be not only a good civilian school, but good in its naval training. It has shown itself in the past year to have made a decided improvement, and it is now a very good school.
That the Statement of the Estimated Income and Expenditure of Greenwich Hospital and Travers Foundation, for the year ending on 31st March, 1949, which was presented to this House on 27th May, be approved.