HC Deb 25 November 1959 vol 614 cc352-3
26. Mr. Dugdale

asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty what qualifications other than those of a high recommendation by the interview board are required of candidates for reserve cadetships; and to what extent the number of such cadetships is limited.

Mr. C. Ian Orr-Ewing

Reserved cadetships are awarded to candidates who enter for the scholarship competition but just miss scholarships. Apart from passing at interview, candidates must have, therefore, approximately the same academic standard as boys awarded scholarships.

The number of reserved cadetships has so far not been limited to any particular figure.

Mr. Dugdale

Why is it not possible simply to take the next in the list of those who failed for scholarships, which would be the normal thing to do? Why has there to be a special interview to select people, whom the Commission may or may not like, regardless of whether they are highest in the list?

Mr. Orr-Ewing

I think that everybody would agree that the Admiralty Interview Board is right in bearing in mind not only academic standards, but the other standards—[HON. MEMBERS: "What are they?"] Standards of character—

Mr. Fernyhough


Mr. Orr-Ewing

Since this question of accent has been taken up, perhaps I could put it right for the record. I quoted a letter from a Labour-dominated council—St. Helen's—which had the same fears on this issue. I was quoting that council's views. But at the Admiralty we do not take accent into account. We take into account the academic ability of the young person, but we also keep in mind the quality of the chap. An hon. Member from the opposite side of the House has recently been to see the Admiralty Interview Board at work and has told me that his anxieties have been set at rest, so I do not think that the anxieties that were shouted at me would really bear close examination. We are anxious to have the best chaps, wherever they may come from.

Mr. Dugdale

Is the Civil Lord aware that when I went to an interview board I personally was satisfied with the way in which it was conducted? I am not trying to make a personal attack on the interview board, but may I ask why it is not possible to have the same system for these particular special entries, or whatever they are called, as for scholarships? If there is an interview for a scholarship, why should not the result of that interview, together with the result of the academic test, be taken into account?

Mr. Orr-Ewing

I apologise for getting drawn aside from the right hon. Gentleman's supplementary question by a wave of applause or disagreement from the benches opposite. I will consider the point which the right hon. Gentleman has made and I will write w him in explanation as to whether we take the exact academic list, following on down, for these reserved cadetships.

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