HC Deb 09 November 1948 vol 457 cc1360-1
13. Colonel Gomme-Duncan

asked the Secretary of State for War why a retired officer has been given the appointment of Chief of the Imperial General Staff; and whether no serving officer could be found with adequate experience and qualifications.

Mr. Shinwell

The distinguished officer who has been appointed Chief of the Imperial General Staff was selected as the officer most suited to the post

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

While entirely agreeing with the right hon. Gentleman and desiring to pay the highest tribute to General Slim, both as an officer and as a man, may I ask him whether I can have an answer to the second part of my Question, and whether it does not rather reflect on those serving that a serving officer cannot be found for this post?

Mr. Shinwell

All that the appointment of General Slim has met with widespread satisfaction.

Mr. Godfrey Nicholson

Is not the true implication of this Question that officers of such outstanding ability should not be allowed to retire?

Mr. Shinwell

There is something to be said for that, but we have always to consider that some who are younger want to go up.

Major Beamish

Why has the right hon. Gentleman sunk his scruples against putting himself in the hands of the experts?

Mr. Shinwell

I always take note of experts. Nevertheless, I exercise a wise discrimination in their selection.