HC Deb 02 May 1962 vol 658 cc1009-11
18 and 19. Mr. Wingfield Digby

asked the Minister of Defence (1) what is the ratio, in each of the three Services, of general officer or equivalent to total strength, excluding the women's services and boys; and how this compares with ten years ago.

(2) what will be the ratio of officers to other ranks in each of the three Services in 1962–63; and how this compares with 1952–53.

The Civil Lord of the Admiralty (Mr. C. Ian Orr-Ewing)

I have been asked to reply.

As the Answer consists of a number of figures, I will circulate them in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Digby

While realising the importance of a stable career structure, may I ask whether it is not important that as the Services shrink the number of high-ranking officers should be kept under general review in order to maintain the prestige of those higher ranks? Can my hon. Friend say whether it is a fact that the admirals have been considerably reduced in number in recent years?

With regard to Question No. 19, which is somewhat different, is it not a fact that the proportion of officers to other ranks has been increasing fairly rapidly in recent years? Will my hon. Friend ask his right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence to review this matter, as there are undesirable features, particularly in view of the fine tradition of some of the non-commissioned ranks who have played a very vital part in the Armed Forces in the past?

Mr. Orr-Ewing

My right hon. Friend is aware of the need to reduce the number of general officers and equivalent. This point is being watched in all three Services. On the question of the Admiralty, it is true that we have reduced our numbers from 112 to 73 admirals in post at the moment, two on terminal leave and five brigadiers and generals in the Royal Marines, making a total of 80.

On the question of the ratio of officers to other ranks, I agree that there has been a change in the last ten years. There are more officers as compared with other ranks. But this is not untypical of the general organisation not only in the Armed Forces but also in industry where supervision has been found to be necessary as equipment gets ever more complicated and expensive.

Captain Elliot

Is my hon. Friend aware that some figures on this subject were published in the Daily Express on 26th April, and if he has seen them can he say whether or not they are accurate?

Mr. Orr-Ewing

Those figures were not accurate. I made arrangements to have the correct figures telephoned to the newspaper in question, but I am sorry that they have not yet been published.

Following is the Answer:

(a) Ratio of general officers or equivalent to total strength at present, excluding the women's Services and boys—compared with 10 vears ago—

1952 1962
Royal Navy 1:1,238 1:1,117
Army 1:2,887 1:2,586
R.A.F. 1:2,492 1:1,380

(b) The officer/other rank ratio in 1962–63—compared with 1952–53—

1952–53 1962–63
Royal Navy 1: 8.9 1:7.7
Army 1:11.8 1:7.8
R.A.F. 1: 8.8 1:5.3

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