HL Deb 07 July 1882 vol 271 cc1763-5

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, whether he will consider the expediency of restoring to the commanders-in-chief of naval stations abroad the power formerly accorded to them of nominating officers to fill death vacancies occurring during the periods of their commands, subject to the approval of the Admiralty? The noble Viscount also moved for Returns of the number of deaths of commissioned officers on the different foreign stations each year for the last five years. He said that formerly it had been the practice for the officer in command to supply all the death vacancies which might take place upon a foreign station; but during the last 10 or 12 years it had begun to fall into desuetude, much to the injury of the Service; and he had heard Sir Charles Napier boast that every commission which he and his two brothers received in the way of promotion came directly from the officer in command. Nelson, too, always chose his own men. The privilege had lasted for more than 100 years, and it should be restored. He did not wish to complain of any appointment which the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of North-brook) had made, because he felt sure that so long as he was at the Admiralty the appointments would be well made.

Moved for, "Returns of the number of deaths of commissioned officers on the different foreign naval stations each year for the last five years."—(The Viscount Sidmouth.)


in supporting the Motion, said, that, when he saw the Notice on the Paper, he was not aware an Order had been issued taking away from commanders-in-chief of naval stations that privilege, as certainly no one was more capable of filling up death vacancies than the officers in command. It was a petty system to curtail these privileges of the commanders-in-chief, and he could see no reason for it, for he thought it would be most injurious to the Service, as it certainly would be painful to an officer if, after being appointed at a distant station to a vacancy, an order should be received from the Admiralty that he was to be reduced to his former position.


in reply, said, he had no objection to grant the Returns referred to, if they were moved for. As regarded the Order which had been referred to, he might be allowed to say that his noble Friend (Lord Lamington) had not paid that strict attention which he might have done to the subject when he was in the House of Commons, because it was years ago since the Order was passed by the late Mr. Ward Hunt while First Lord of the Admiralty. He thought there should not be constant changes made merely because Boards of Admiralty changed—there should be some stability; and he was not prepared, without much more reason than had been put forward on that occasion, to make any alteration in the Order passed in 1874, neither was he in a position to tell the noble Lord the reasons for it being made. It was probable, however, that, in consequence of the reductions in the several lists, there were fewer promotions at the disposal of the Admiralty, and it was, therefore, thought desirable that the outside ones should cease.


Does the Order apply to officers in command of vessels during time of war?


No; it does not. There is a provision to the effect that special provisions will be made in time of war.

Motion agreed to.

Returns order ed to be laid before the House.