HC Deb 24 February 1966 vol 725 cc628-9
Q15. Brigadier Clarke

asked the Prime Minister how many senior naval officers have tendered their resignations in the last 10 days.

Mr. George Brown

I have been asked to reply.

As the House knows, the First Sea Lord has asked to be retired at once and his application has been accepted. No other senior officer has resigned.

Brigadier Clarke

Does the right hon. Gentleman not think it extremely serious to have the First Sea Lord resigning and the Minister of Defence for the Navy resigning, and does he realise that if they had not resigned there would have been many more resignations in the Navy from people who have stayed on because of the security of the country and because they are decent people?

Mr. Brown

We regard this as a matter worthy of serious attention, and I would not dream of denigrating it by talking about "a little local difficulty" as a previous Prime Minister did. It is a serious matter, and the only bit of light relief that I can introduce into it is that I wonder if the hon. Gentleman might not think of resigning.

Mr. Lewis

Can my right hon. Friend assure us that these gentlemen will receive adequate pensions? In the Press this morning it is reported that they retire on pensions of full pay. Can we be assured that in fact they will get these full pensions?

Mr. Brown

We are only talking about one distinguished senior serving officer, and his pension rights have been wholly protected.

Captain Litchfield

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the retiring First Sea Lord has sacrificed his expectation of normal promotion to Admiral of the Fleet at an increased pension or, rather, half pay?

Mr. Brown

On the pension position, I have already answered that as being protected. I would need notice on the other part of the question.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we on this side would be quite prepared to protect their pensions when they resign?

Mr. Brown

There is not the slightest chance of my being able to reciprocate to the hon. Gentleman, is there?