HC Deb 03 July 1951 vol 489 cc2119-20
6. General Sir George Jeffreys

asked the Secretary of State for War what is the position of officers of the substantive rank of major after they have as temporary lieutenant-colonels completed their periods of command of units; and whether such officers then have to relinquish their temporary rank and continue to serve as regimental officers in the rank of major.

Mr. Wyatt

In the case of the Royal Armoured Corps, Royal Artillery, Royal Engineers, Royal Signals or Infantry, majors appointed to command units are, wherever possible, selected from those who will become due for substantive promotion to lieutenant-colonel before completing their tour of duty as commanding officer. Where this is not possible and the officer has afterwards to relinquish his temporary rank, he is not required to continue serving in the same unit.

In other Corps, owing to the present shortage of officers, it is often necessary to appoint comparatively junior majors to command. When this happens every effort is made to appoint such officers to other lieutenant-colonels' vacancies when they finish command, but this is not always possible.

Sir G. Jeffreys

Is it not time that a permanent system replaced the present system, or lack of system, of temporary rank? Is it not always extremely unpopular with any officer to have to revert to a lower rank, and is this really necessary? Is it not time a permanent system was evolved which would do away with these temporary ups and downs which may be necessary in war-time but cannot be necessary in peace-time?

Mr. Wyatt

As I said in the original answer, this is something which very rarely happens because by the time a lieutenant-colonel's tour of duty in that rank is finished he is usually due for substantive promotion. But our restrictions are due to the fact that we have only a certain number of substantive ranks within the Army as a whole to be filled