§ VISCOUNT SIDMOUTH
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, Whether it is a fact that the period served by assistant paymasters of the Royal Navy prior to promotion to the rank of paymaster, which has increased from ten years in 1870 to fifteen and a-half years in 1884, and which appears likely to be further prolonged, is the result of the entry in past years of too large a number of these officers; whether, under the present rules for counting service, these officers are not only suffering by being kept an inordinate time in the junior rank, but that also the later and greater portion of such service is absolutely 1436 valueless for increase of full pay or retirement until eleven years have been served as paymasters; and whether he will cause the present rules to be inquired into with a view to ascertain if the alleged grievance, which affects engineers as well as assistant paymasters, can be remedied; also whether he will cause to be printed and laid on the Table Copies of the following Correspondence:—A letter from Admiral of the Fleet Sir Thos. M. Symonds, G.C.B., to the First Lord of the Admiralty, dated 29th April, 1884; a letter from the Secretary to the Admiralty in acknowledgment of the above, dated 2nd May; a letter from Sir Thos. Symonds to the Secretary to the Admiralty, dated 5th May, and a letter from the Secretary to the Admiralty acknowledging the above, dated 9th May? The noble Viscount said, he had moved for the letters referred to in his Question because they had been noticed in "another place;" and he hoped the noble Earl the First Lord of the Admiralty would regard them, to a certain extent, as public property. Sir Thomas Symonds had distinguished himself in every department of the Naval Service, and any expression of opinion on his part deserved very serious consideration, although he might not always write in a manner which was agreeable to those in authority. He asked the noble Earl to lay the Correspondence on the Table in the interests of the Service and for the information of the general public.
§ THE EARL OF NORTHBROOK
The promotion of assistant paymasters is at the present time slower than I could wish on account of the number of entries having been too great many years ago. The Secretary to the Admiralty has stated, in "another place," that an inquiry will be made into what is termed the "eleven years' rule," with a view to its modification, if this can be done without any serious expenditure of public money. There is no objection to the production of Correspondence between Sir Thomas Symonds and the Admiralty. Sir Thomas Symonds is a very distinguished naval officer, and also a very keen critic of the Admiralty, not so much of the present Board as of their Predecessors, who, in his opinion, did not lay down a sufficient number of ships of war. Sir Thomas Symonds has lately made a comparison between the 1437 French and English Naval Estimates, a work which was naturally not so congenial to him as commanding a fleet he has since admitted that his comparison was erroneous; but there is an amicable difference of opinion between Sir Thomas Symonds and my hon. Friend the Secretary to the Admiralty as to the amount of the error. My hon. Friend put it at £1,300,000. Sir Thomas Symonds challenged him to substantiate this, and he did so. Sir Thomas Symonds has since written to The Times contending that the error is not £1,300,000, but £1,150,000. I hardly think it is worth while to push the matter further now that it has come so nearly to an agreement.