HC Deb 14 May 1952 vol 500 cc1424-5
33. Mr. Martin Lindsay

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Defence why a retired officer has been appointed Chief of Staff to the Minister of Defence.

Mr. Birch

On account of his special qualifications for the post.

Mr. Lindsay

Without in any way disparaging this officer who had a very distinguished service, will my hon. Friend bear in mind that the present C.I.G.S., Field Marshal Slim, the present C.-in-C. Middle East Land Forces, General Robertson, and the present C.-in-C. designate of the U.K. Land Forces are all retired officers re-employed, and it is very discouraging for senior serving officers if, when a particularly attractive appointment comes up, the policy is to dig out of civil life a retired officer? Will my hon. Friend convey those views to his right hon. Friend?

Mr. Birch

There are a number of precedents for employing retired officers, but in this case, as my hon. Friend will appreciate, the job of Chief Staff Officer at the Ministry of Defence is not necessarily an Army job. It has been filled by a Marine officer and a Royal Air Force officer, and it does not go against the establishment of Lieutenants-General at the War Office.

Mr. E. Shinwell

While not in any way seeking to disparage the qualifications of General Jacob, may I ask whether the hon. Gentleman is aware that the previous holder of this post, General McLean, had very high qualifications and gave the utmost satisfaction to all concerned? Never at any time was an adverse word said about his activities. Seriously, is this not a case of the Prime Minister selecting one of his own friends?

Mr. Birch

I would not seek to disparage the qualifications of General McLean, which are very high, but this appointment was considered by a great many people as well as by the Prime Minister, and General Jacob had the highest qualifications.

Mr. Shinwell

If the matter was considered by a great many people who decided that General McLean, with all his qualifications, should be replaced by General Sir Ian Jacob, who had been retired for many years, could we be informed who these people were and whether a single one of them was associated either with the Chiefs of Staff Committee or with any of the Forces? [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] Can the hon. Gentleman answer the question? Is it not a very serious matter when a high ranking Army officer who gives general satisfaction is replaced? What is the cause of it? Ought we not to know?

Mr. Birch

A good many high ranking officers have been replaced.

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