HL Deb 18 May 1927 vol 67 cc322-45

THE DUKE OF MONTROSE rose to call attention to the different methods adopted by the Admiralty in entering naval cadets; and to move for Papers. The noble Duke said: My Lords, in rising to move the Motion which stands in my name I would like to begin by saying that my remarks will not be in criticism of the Service itself or against the officers serving in the Royal Navy. A quarter of a century's intimate association with the Royal Navy such as I have had makes it impossible for any one to find it in his heart to say anything or do anything likely to be prejudicial to the Royal Navy, but one's love for the Service ought not to debar one from offering criticism upon some of its methods or making suggestions which may be for the ultimate benefit of the Service itself. Therefore I want to draw your Lordships' attention this afternoon to the various methods of entry of naval cadets into the Navy, with a view to asking your Lordships to consider whether some change ought not to be made in order to effect advantages to the officers themselves and also with a view to some economy.

At the present moment I am going to refer to Dartmouth College. Dartmouth, as your Lordships know, was founded in 1902 as part of the new naval training scheme which was founded by the noble Earl, Lord Selborne, when he was First Lord of the Admiralty, assisted by that gallant Admiral and great reformer, Lord Fisher, as First Sea Lord. So far is the College is concerned I really have nothing to say. If you judge the College by its palatial buildings, its beautiful grounds, its magnificent class-rooms, its dormitories, its workshops, its chapel, its swimming bath, its gymnasium and so forth, all is as good as money can make it and no money has ever been spared on the place. It is so ideal that an Admiral said to me the other day: "I do not know if you believe in re-incarnation or not, but if ever my turn comes to return to the earth I can pray for nothing better than to begin once more as a cadet at Dartmouth." I agreed with him, but, like all things luxurious and all things ideal, Dartmouth costs a great deal of money.

I will give your Lordships a few figures. I have seen the cost of Dartmouth returned in Admiralty figures as being £158,000. That is large compared with any other public school of the same size, but I quarrel with those figures because they do not include the cost of the ships which are attached to the College—H.M.S. "Erebus" and two mine-lavers—and I say that those ships are an essential part of the training scheme of Dartmouth. Your Lordships will understand that you cannot send a little boy for four years to college and, no matter how many brass buttons he may wear, make a sailor of him, unless he is able to get on salt water. The ships, therefore, are maintained as part of the training scheme and constitute part of the cost. If you add the cost of those ships then the cost comes to £250,000 or a quarter of a million pounds before ever those boys are accepted for service in the Navy. Of course the boys' parents contribute something towards that amount. They pay fees and contribute about £68,000, or 27 per cent. The taxpayers have to bear the rest of the burden, £190,000. That is the burden which falls on the already groaning taxpayer in respect of Dartmouth College. I would not quarrel with that expenditure if there was no alternative, but I venture to think that there is an alternative by which officers can be supplied to the Service at a much lower cost.

My Lords, before I turn to that alternative I have another criticism to make about the College, and that is as regards the age of entry. Boys go to the College at twelve and a half years old, before their education has begun really and before their character is formed. They go there and start a specialised training. It stands to reason that a little boy's brain can only absorb a limited amount of knowledge. If you start cramming his head with a mass of technicalities about steam, engineering, electricity, navigation, seamanship, gunnery, torpedo, and drill and so forth, he cannot possibly absorb the same amount of general knowledge as another school-boy. What he gains on the one hand in technicalities is sacrificed on the other hand in general knowledge, and generally speaking these boys leave Dartmouth College with their general knowledge a good deal behind that of other school-boys. At no time was it so important that our naval officers should possess a really good general education. After the War hundreds of officers were asked to leave the Service, and they had the greatest difficulty in being absorbed into other occupations. Then we had the Washington Conference and the Navy shrank to a mere shadow of itself, more officers were asked to leave the Service, and they likewise have had the greatest difficulty in being absorbed into fresh lines of life.

Now we have the Geneva Conference. If that is successful I have no doubt more officers will be asked to leave the Navy, and they also will find it difficult to begin life again in a new sphere. The only way to make a new livelihood in a new sphere is by possessing a good sound general education, and therefore, although the Admiralty in entering naval cadets may have no legal obligation to consider what may happen to them in later years of life, I say that there is a moral obligation on the Admiralty to do everything they can to see that naval officers have a good general education. Nowhere is it better known than in the Navy that the education of the cadets when they leave Dartmouth is behind that which they would receive at a public school. For that reason schoolmasters are carried in all the big ships. The result is that naval cadets and midshipmen when they go afloat in the Fleet spend nearly all their mornings in school when they ought to be doing the duties of young naval officers. They are called "half-timers"—half-timers because they are half schoolboys and half officers.

Time and again naval officers of high distinction have protested against the half-timer; they have protested against his doing school work when he ought to be doing the work of a naval officer. In 1870 there was a Committee, upon which a distinguished Admiral served, called the Shadwell Committee. They reported strongly against the half-timer. Years afterwards there was a Committee called the Rice Committee, who also protested against the half-timer; and some time after that there was another Committee, called the Luard Committee, who protested against the half-timer; and many individual officers have done so since. I will go further and say that one of the greatest First Lords of the Admiralty we ever had, the late Viscount Goschen, also knew the disadvantage of the imperfect education and of the half-timer. So it was that he raised the age of entry into the "Britannia" to sixteen years of age instead of twelve, hoping to get boys from the public schools with a better education. But he was disappointed, and why? Because at sixteen boys are getting the very best out of their public schools and do not want to give up and go into the Navy. So it comes to this, that if we are going to get over the disadvantages of the half-timer and the disadvantages of an imperfect education on leaving Dartmouth we must take boys to sea when their education is complete at school.

Of course we shall be told—and it is a very common idea—that you cannot do that because it is essential that boys should go to sea young. I venture to say that that is a fallacy and that it is more true in sentiment than it is in fact. In the old days of sailing ships it was necessary, or at least advisable, to go to sea young. Ships were at sea for days, weeks and months and it was necessary to become accustomed to life afloat. Lord Nelson, if I remember aright, only left ship for three hours in thirty months when he was blockading off Toulon. Lord St. Vincent, if I remember aright, kept his ship 103 days on and off the port of Brest. Life on board those ships was hard. Food was bad; biscuits were full of weevils salt junk was ready to jump out of the "salt horse" tub; water was stagnant. There was some reason for sending boys to sea young in order that they might become inured to the hard life afloat before ever they knew of a better life ashore. But in these days life in the Navy is as healthy, as comfortable and as good as in any other profession. There is leave ashore. And I believe that there is nothing which a boy of good sound general education with the right spirit cannot learn as regards modern naval life to-day.

Besides, in the olden times it never really was true that boys went to sea early. Lord Vernon was at Westminster College and then at Cambridge before ever he went to sea. Sir Thomas Cochrane went to sea at 17½. Lord Hood went to sea at 17½. Lord Howe was at Eton before he went to sea—Lord Howe the victor of the glorious first of June. Sir George Tryon was at Eton before he went to sea. Even Admiral Blake commanded an army on shore before he commanded a fleet at sea at the age of fifty-four. When you have Hood, Vernon, Cochrane, Blake, Howe—all bearing names which adorn our naval history—going to sea years after the age at which we consider it necessary to send boys to Dartmouth, it is quite obvious that boys can remain at school and complete their education before they go to sea.

A good sound education is the best foundation upon which to build for a scientific or a specialised career. I have here a memorandum, signed by many great authorities and by noble Lords known to most of you, on the value of a good education. It was written in May, 1916, and was signed by Lord Bryce, Lord Cromer, Lord Curzon of Kedleston, Lord Esher, Mr. H. A. L. Fisher, Sir Archibald Geikie, Mr. Hopkinson and Sir Frederic Kenyon—all distinguished authorities on education. They say:— Some of the most distinguished educational representatives have strongly insisted that early specialisation is injurious to the professional interests they have at heart, and that the best preparation for a scientific pursuit is a general training which includes some study of language, literature, and history. Such a training gives width of view and flexibility of intellect. Nobody could pretend that to send little boys of 12½ to college and cram their heads with technicalities is a way of giving width of view or flexibility of intellect. In America they have begun to realise the value of taking boys to sea later in life. The Government there have now come to an arrangement with the five great Colleges, including Harvard and Yale, to form a cadet corps of 200 cadets, which will supply cadets for the Navy. In Germany before the War all the officers had college training; and nobody—least of all our own naval officers—would ever say that the Germans proved themselves incompetent seamen. They proved themselves very competent indeed. So, then, I think I may say I have given sufficient proof that it is possible successfully to complete; boys' education at school and then send them to sea to make sailors of them.

The next quest ion is: Have we any experience of that in our own Navy? Yes, we have. In 1913 the Admiralty were short of cadets, and they started what was supposed to be a temporary measure, a scheme for taking boys from public schools at 17½ and 18½. That temporary measure has been continued ever since, and we now have, under the special entry system, something like 800 boys who have entered the Navy. I was interested to see that in the last half-year the Admiralty took fifty-three boys from Dartmouth, and thirty-six boys under the special entry system; which goes to show that the Admiralty themselves admit that the public school boys are a success. From all reports which I have seen boys taken under the special entry system have done remarkably well. If you judge them by their examinations—and I have seen some figures of the intermediate examinations for sub-lieutenants—you will find by analysis of those figures that the marks under the different subjects gained by the public school boys are quite equal to the marks gained by the Dartmouth boys, even in subjects like mathematics and applied mechanics, which are specialised in at Dartmouth. If you take the results obtained in the courses for lieutenants' examinations, you will find that quite a number of the public school boys have obtained five firsts, which is the highest number of marks possible, and they have thereby gained in seniority from five to eleven months. To-day some of these public school boys who have been accepted as special entrants are in command of destroyers. That alone testifies to their efficiency as naval officers.

The next question is this: What about the supply? Will the supply of these boys from the public schools be adequate? I venture to think that if the Navy obtained the same amount of propaganda as the Army does in the public schools the supply would be ample. I do not know what steps the Admiralty have taken to confer with the headmasters, but I do know that the headmasters of our great public schools are very anxious indeed to do everything they can to assist the Navy. For the Army they have a great means of propaganda through the Officers Training Corps. Through this Corps every school boy who has the slightest inclination for military service is brought into touch with the Army and the military history of the country, and the Army has got thousands of officers through the Officers Training Corps, which is the connecting link between the Army and the public schools. It is a curious thing, my Lords, that in this country, supposed to be a great maritime nation dependent on the sea for its existence, all the schools in the country have this connection with the Army, while there is not one school which has a connecting link of the same sort with the Navy. If the Navy had the same propaganda, the same advertisement and the same connecting link as the Army in the public schools I am confident that the supply of cadets would be assured.

This brings me to another possible source of getting a few officers. In the Army, as we all know, there are a certain number of the rank and file who, by reason of their knowledge, character, and merits, can get Commissions and can rise to the highest commands. In the Navy Commissions to the lower ranks are unknown, or at all events are so rare as to be practically unknown. This year, from January 1 up to date, the Army have given 157 Commissions to the ranks in Woolwich and Sandhurst. Considering the improved education given to all boys on the lower deck in the Navy it surely can only be a question of time before we shall have to give to the lower deck ratings similar opportunities to obtain Commissions when they can prove themselves worthy and to reach the highest command. I know that some men in the ranks, such as mates, can get Commissions, but they are so old and of such seniority when they get those Commissions that it is impossible for them to reach the high commands.

That raises the point that if we are going to lean on public schools and if we are going to look to the lower deck for a few Commissions, then we must make a cut in the number supplied from Dartmouth, because the Navy can only absorb a certain number of young officers in a year. The First Lord of the Admiralty, speaking in another place, said that if the restriction on the number of boys taken from the public schools was removed and there was a reduction of those taken from Dartmouth the cost of the latter place would become excessive. It comes about, therefore, that the restriction of the number taken from public schools is the "booster" which is maintained to keep up Dartmouth.

I move this Motion in the interests of economy. We shall be told that if we sacrifice Dartmouth we shall waste all the money that has been spent upon it. But that money need not be wasted. Why not turn Dartmouth into another public school foundation? We know that all the public schools in this country are fill to overflowing; even the latest and the newest, public school, Stowe College, in Buckingham, is booked up to 1934. There never was a time so good as this to start a new college. I have heard that people resident in the Dominions are very anxious to hind a public school to which they can send their sons to obtain a public school education. Why not make Dartmouth an ordinary public school with a particular Imperial and naval bias and with a Naval Officers Training Corps? The money that has been spent upon it would not then be wasted.

If you are looking for economy (and economy is essential in these days), then I think some change in the direction that I have indicated must be made. I have no doubt the Admiralty will say: "Economy! You save £190,000! What is that? It is a mere bagatelle when the Naval Estimates reach £58,000,000." I would remind your Lordships that the total saving on the whole of the Navy last year was only £100,000 and here I am proposing something which, under one head alone, will save as much as that and half again. Economy is imperative and we cannot afford luxuries, however ideal they may be, but if we are going to leave economy to the initiative of those within the great offices we shall have to wait a long time before we get it. Economy, if it is to come, must, I feel, come by action from outside, from the action of those who, like myself, are free from all trammels. I beg to move.


My Lords, think the Board of Admiralty should be grateful to the noble Duke for bringing forward this question. It is a very important one, it is a very difficult one and it is well worth examination from every point of view. The speech that the noble Duke has made is one which merits all consideration by the Board, but I feel that I cannot go quite so far as he did. At one time I was a little uncertain as to whether he was going for the absolute abolition of Dartmouth, but I think the concluding passages of his speech made it quite clear that he proposes the abolition of Dartmouth as a method of economy and therefore it is clear that he regards a source of recruitment through Dartmouth as a source of recruitment that ought to be put an end to.

When I was at the Admiralty this matter was very much before my mind because at that moment, for various causes (I think chiefly because of the uncertainty felt generally on the subject of the future of the naval officer), the number of officers had fallen off to a most alarming extent, and I made a point whenever I could of questioning senior naval officers with regard to the special entry class to which the noble Duke has made allusion. To the best of my recollection I can say that the evidence which they gave with regard to that class was uniformly favourable. They were very much struck by the qualities and the readiness to take responsibility which those boys who entered through the special entry had shown during their service. That evidence is more valuable from the fact that their experience was war experience and they were able to see those boys at work under the conditions of war service. But if those same senior naval officers had been asked whether they would substitute the special entry as the sole source of entry into the Navy, or with the addition of entries from the lower ranks as the noble Duke suggests, and the elimination of Dartmouth altogether, I doubt very much whether they would have been in favour of the course proposed.

There is one point which I should like to emphasise, because I did something with regard to it myself when I was at the Admiralty, and that is that if you are to get a really good stamp of boy from the public schools and get the public schools interested in this recruitment for the Navy from amongst their boys, you must give them a certainty of a number of vacancies for an assured period of years ahead. You cannot expect the public schools to interest themselves if, all of a sudden, the Admiralty publishes an advertisement that, say, six months ahead they want. 30 boys for the special entry. Therefore, when I was there I did announce that there would be 30 special entries a year for the next three years. I think this is the last year, or the proposal may have expired last year. I do not know whether the noble Earl when he replies will be able to say whether that assurance is given, not only to boys but to their parents and to the masters, that this career is open to boys through the public schools. Of course, that is an offer which is made with assurance by the Army, and that is why when a boy goes to school and has leanings in the direction of the Army he maps out his career to get into the Army.

At the present moment I doubt whether it would be worth any boy's while on going to a public school to say: "I am going into the Navy," because there has been too little certainty about vacancies being offered when he came to the period at which his examination would come forward. I am very doubtful myself whether it would be possible to rely upon the special entry as a method of recruitment for the Navy. I am afraid I am not very conversant with the statistics relating to the Army at the present moment, but I do not think the numbers of candidates are too encouraging to those who would seek a source of recruitment by the same methods at the same time for the Navy. At that moment we should not be merely recruiting for ourselves but our recruitment would be in direct competition with the Army. For that reason I should deprecate suggesting, as I think the noble Duke has suggested, that the special entry will be a good source of recruitment for the Navy in the future.

On this question of Dartmouth I should like to join issue with him on one or two points. I am afraid I cannot claim sufficient knowledge of Dartmouth or sufficient experience of its work to dogmatise in any way upon the education that is given there. I only paid one visit—it was a most interesting and most delightful day that I spent there—but I did form certain very definite impressions, and those impressions were not exactly those which the noble Duke has put before your Lordships. In the first place, I was very much impressed with the quality of the teaching. I went through a great number of classrooms and heard the instruction given, and I must say, looking back to my own time at public school, that I felt that the methods which were adopted were infinitely more interesting than those which prevailed thirty odd years ago. I presume that is probably the experience everywhere to-day, that the science of teaching has certainly progressed and that lessons are made more interesting to boys to-day than they were made to us in the old days. But the point on which I wish to join issue with the noble Duke is that what struck me—it may have been a wrong impression—about the curriculum at Dartmouth was that, considering that the boys there were being trained to be specialists in future, the curriculum generally was very broad. I should say that when you came to offer an examination to Dartmouth boys at 16 and to ordinary public school boys at 16 —I put aside scholars—the Dartmouth boy would be far ahead of the public school boy in general education. I was very much surprised to hear the attack made by the noble Duke on the curriculum at Dartmouth.

There is, however, one matter in which I think Dartmouth falls behind the public school. It is a debatable point, and I may be wrong about it, but what struck me was that the boy who goes to Dartmouth is shepherded from the moment he leaves his bed in the morning to the moment when he goes to bed in the evening. He is always under a teacher, or—I forget what they call those lieutenants at Dartmouth.


I think naval instructors.


Naval instructors, or even under, I think, petty officers. There is not that freedom which is the distinguishing mark of a public school and which gives to a boy the opportunity of thinking for himself and of acquiring those habits of taking responsibility which in my opinion can only be won by freedom and cannot be won where a boy is shepherded from beginning to end. I will not weary your Lordships further, but I should like to say that I think we cannot afford at the present moment to discard Dartmouth as one of the sources of equipment of our Navy. The noble Duke has said something about expense. May I say that it is expensive. Parents at the present moment only pay something like 27 per cent., but even the fees which those parents have to pay debar a great number of parents from being able to afford to send their boys to Dartmouth. The Treasury does give the First Lord a certain discretion to remit fees, but it is within very definite limits. I always used to take these cases myself and to take responsibility wish regard to them. I had some very sad cases of parents who were obviously the sort of parents whose boys ought to be naval officers but who were not able to afford to take the advantages which Dartmouth offered them because I could not give sufficient remission of fees to enable them to keep their boys at Dartmouth.

One last word I wish to say. It is that I was impressed with a feeling of confidence that the place itself is an immense inspiration to the boys who live within its walls and that the ideal of the brotherhood of the Service which is driven into those boys in their earliest days will be of incalculable benefit to the Service when you have generations coming out after each other with that ideal of the brotherhood of the Service as part of themselves. Of course the public school-boy has his ideals of service, but I very much doubt if you were to rely on the public school-boy, coming in with his affection for his old school strong in him, making acquaintance for the first time with his new brother officers and yet not having grown up and been educated along with them, whether such entry would not impair that great ideal of the brotherhood of the Service which I am confident that Dartmouth does instil into those boys who go through it at the present time.


My Lords, I should like to associate myself with that which the noble Viscount opposite has said in welcoming this debate in your Lordships House and thanking the noble Duke for having put this Motion upon the Paper. In these days when taxes fall heavily upon everyone it is only right that the public should be satisfied that the heavy cost of the defensive Services is money well spent and that a due return is made for that expenditure. I rejoice therefore that your Lordships should have an opportunity of going into the question of whether the money expended on the training of officers for the Navy is expended rightly and in a manner of which you can approve.

The method of entering boys into the Navy is not one that has been hidebound over a large number of years. It has developed over a comparatively short period. It is only 60 or 70 years ago that the "Britannia" was instituted and boys went on board that vessel for training instead of going direct to sea in seagoing ships. In 1903, as my noble friend behind me has said, when the institution of common entry was started, the "Britannia" was done away with and, first, Osborne and then Dartmouth were put in its place. Finally, in 1913, owing, as my noble friend has pointed out, to what was then thought to be a temporary shortage of officers in the Navy, the system of special entry was instituted by which boys were taken direct from the public schools. At the same time promotion was instituted from the lower deck by what is called the mate scheme. The mate scheme really comes outside the terms of the Motion upon the Paper, and accordingly I do not wish to go into it at any length. But I should like to say that my noble friend is quite wrong in thinking that practically no one is promoted from the lower deck. There are two schemes of promotion from the lower deck. One is by warrant rank, which is more or less the reward for long service; and the other is the mate scheme, which enables boys from the lower deck who are found to be suitable to be selected and given an opportunity of getting a Commission. It is possible for a mate in the executive branch to become a Lieutenant at a little over 23 years of age, which is the average for a special entry cadet. I think I am right in saying that already one of these boys has reached the rank of Commander, which is the highest that he could possibly have attained in view of the fact that the scheme was instituted only in 1913.

Reverting to the system of training cadets for the Navy, I may explain the present arrangement. A boy joins Dartmouth at the age of 13½. He serves there for three years and eight months, and then goes to sea, not in the "Erebus," as my noble friend stated, but on one of the bigger ships of the Fleet, where he performs professional duties, first as a cadet and, after eight months, as a midshipman. The only scholastic instruction that he gets there is purely technical. His education is not continued from the literary point of view, but it is an education which, of course, goes on throughout the whole of his service as an officer—the natural improvement in his professional qualifications and his professional knowledge—and that education on board the ship is given to midshipmen entirely by naval officers. The schoolmasters who are carried on board His Majesty's ships are not there to instruct either cadets or midshipmen, but to instruct the lower deck. The boy who comes from Dartmouth becomes a midshipman somewhere about the age of 18. The special entry boy is allowed to come up from the public schools for examination between the ages of 17½ and 18½. These boys then serve on the "Erebus," to which my noble friend referred. This is a reserve ship, used entirely as a hulk. The boy serves them for a year, going to sea for short cruises on the two tenders that are attached to the ship. Both the boy who enters from Dartmouth and the boy who serves on the "Erebus," after the completion of their training, either remain at sea as executive officers or go to Keyham for a four years course in engineering before becoming engineer officers.

As regards the cost, it is true that Dartmouth is an expensive institution. It costs the taxpayer, not £190,000, as the noble Duke said, but exactly £100,000 less than that figure. It costs £90,000 a year. My noble friend was wrong in his figures because he included the "Erebus" as part of the cost of the training given to boys who go to Dartmouth. As I have tried to show your Lordships, the "Erebus" is solely for the training of the special entry; the Dartmouth boys do not go near the ship at all. Accordingly the cost of Dartmouth to the taxpayer, after the fees have been paid by parents, is £90,000, not £190,000. The special entry, which goes to the "Erebus," costs £35,000, which is the cost of the ship and her tenders. Accordingly the present system costs altogether £125,000 a year. This figure includes the total cost to the taxpayer, apart from the provision of Dartmouth in the first instance and the interest on the capital that was then expended and apart also from the cost of providing the "Erebus" and her tenders.

The noble Duke claims that if a scheme of special entry were instituted the cost would be a great deal less. I venture to think that the cost would certainly not be less and might be a very great deal more. If we took the whole of our 200 cadets through the special entry scheme, we should have to have either a battleship employed as a hulk or two or three smaller ships. Probably the cheapest method would be to take a battleship and to use her entirely as a hulk. I understand that the cost of running a battleship—that is to say, of maintaining her from year to year once she has been converted to her purpose and turned into a suitable hulk for the training of cadets—is, not £125,000, but £135,000 a year. If, instead of the battleship, you had three monitors with their two sea-going tenders, the cost would be rather more—namely, £170,000 a year. If your battleship were to go to sea, the cost would be very considerably increased and would be somewhere about £250,000.

But even that is not really the whole story. It was my duty last year to serve on a Committee that was considering how we should find provision for men joining the Navy on the lower deck. We found that one of our hulks was getting past its best and we thought that we were going to be faced with the very heavy cost of providing another to take its place. I will only tell your Lordships that, when we began to go into the question, we found that the ships of to-day are far more difficult to convert into living quarters for cadets or boys of the lower deck than they were in old days. It costs a great deal more to fit and work them suitably, even if one were available—and I think that at the moment it is not—and the upkeep of a floating establishment is infinitely higher both in repairs and in the number of training personnel who are required to look after the boys than in the case of a shore establishment. I am glad to state that, so far as the lower deck is concerned, we have been able to go on as at present, and we hope that we may continue to do so for a number of years, but I must say that, had we found it necessary to provide either a hulk or a shore establishment, the taxpayer of this country would have had to rue the day.

The cost is not the only objection, nor is it, I think, the main objection. After all, in spending this vast sum on the Navy, with ships costing up to £7,000,000 each, I think your Lordships will agree that it is advisable to see that the officers are trained to the highest point of efficiency possible. Therefore, even if it does cost £90,000 or £100,000, that money is well spent when you are spending these vast sums on ships. But the real objection, the main objection, is this: we think it is more than doubtful whether we shall be able to get the number of officers required for the Navy we if we rely on one system only. At the present time of the numbers entering each year 150 come from Dartmouth and 60 to 70 by special entry. That, I think, answers the question of the noble Viscount. This year the number was 64.


Can you promise that for so many years that number will be offered to public schoolboys?


I think it is perfectly safe to put it at 50, but I should certainly think the figure will be 60 rather than 50.


It is important that public schools should know about what number of vacancies will be offered to their boys.


I agree, and that is the view of the Board, too. We are anxious to get as far as possible a fairly definite number each year, so that schoolmasters shall realise there are vacancies for boys through the special entry method. I think the noble Duke rather took his view as to the possibility of special entry from our experiences during the War. That really is not quite a fair way of coming to a conclusion. During the War perhaps the quickest way of getting into one of the fighting Services, and I think also the way in which a boy could get in at the earliest age, was by joining the Navy as a special entry. Therefore, during the War we got the cream of the boys of the public schools trying their best to get into the Navy by special entry. Unfortunately, that no longer exists.

The Board, so far from being antagonistic to the special entry, sent a specially selected omcer round the public schools last year—an officer with a very fine War record—to talk to the boys and headmasters and try to encourage more boys to compete for special entry. I am sorry to say that so far as the figures for the next examination next month are concerned that experiment has not been as successful as was hoped. In fact, so far from there being an increase in numbers there has been a decrease in the number of entries for the next examination. The Board feels that a very large number of boys who are keen on the Navy when they are between twelve and thirteen years of age would very possibly not be prepared to go into the Navy if they had to wait until they were eighteen. Your Lordships all know how boys are inclined to follow each other, and if it became a habit for a large number of boys to go into the Navy, no doubt we should be able to get continuity of numbers, but the Navy is not big enough to give a chance to all the public schools to put in a large number of boys. Therefore, boys are inclined to go where those with whom they have been living at school are going—either to Sandhurst or to the Air Force at Cranwell, or to one of the Universities—and we feel that boys who at twelve and thirteen would be prepared to enter the Navy would, when they came to eighteen, have lost some of their enthusiasm for the senior Service, and go elsewhere—not that they would not regret it afterwards, when it was too late.

There is this further point to which the noble Viscount referred. If the Navy took the whole of its officers at eighteen we should be competing more seriously with the Army and Air Force than at present. The examinations are held for the three Services and the boys put down their preferences, one, two or three, to fill the vacancies offered, and if we took the whole of the 200 cadets per year through the special entry I doubt whether the Army or Air Force would thank us for doing so. There has been a suggestion—I think the noble Duke made it during a lecture on the subject, for, as your Lordships know, he takes a great interest in this matter—that Dartmouth should be sold and turned into a college something like Wellington, but with a naval atmosphere instead of an Army atmosphere. If you take the record of Wellington—a very fine one—you will find that out of 600 boys at Wellington (as compared with 550 at Dartmouth) only 60 go into the Army annually out of the 460 which the Army annually requires, and if the same figures were attained at Dartmouth in private hands we should only get 60 instead of 150 as at present every year. Obviously, if the figure were largely exceeded you would have the same sort of thing as at present—namely, a school entirely naval in atmosphere and not a school where those who were going into the Navy would be rubbing shoulders with other boys. If we did get the required number by special entry we have grave doubts whether we should get the right number of suitable candidates. It is a gamble which we think we have no right to take.

I have said nothing about efficiency and, after, all, after adequate numbers efficiency must be an over-riding con- sideration. I entirely disagree with the noble Duke in many of his criticisms of Dartmouth. Perhaps the fact that will bring Dartmouth and the value of Dartmouth to your Lordships' mind better than anything else is that parents are only too anxious to have their sons go there, and that we have found it essential and necessary that every parent shall sign a certificate to say that if his son is admitted into Dartmouth he shall then go into the Navy and not be sent to any other profession for a given number of years. That shows that parents, if they could, would send their sons to Dartmouth for the education which Dartmouth gives even if they had no intention of putting them into the Navy afterwards.

I do not want to be led into a discussion as to the advantages or disadvantages of a classical education. Of course, Dartmouth does not teach either Latin or Greek, but it does teach many other things which have only a general bearing on the Navy, and certainly could not be called technicalities. The time of a boy at Dartmouth is divided about equally between the sciences and the humanities; that is to say, that at Dartmouth rather more time is given to the sciences than is given at the school which gives an ordinary modern education. A good deal of time is given to English,, English literature, and the teaching of French and history, including, of course, naval history, but not confined by any means to naval history. In addition, naval officers give instruction in technical subjects, such as seamanship, and they also teach the boys physical training and drill. That specialised instruction occupies rather more than four hours per week, but only half of it is vocational, and I think that in public schools that time would very largely be given up either to leisure or to extras, taking the form of music or of drawing or of the Officers' Training Corps. I venture to think that the syllabus is by no means unduly specialised. I frankly admit that it is intended, of course, for training officers for the Navy, but I do maintain at the same time that it by no means unfits them for other professions.

We have further advantages in the Dartmouth scheme. In the first place, the association of naval and civilian instructors, we find, has a good effect on both classes, and keeps them both up to the mark, keeps them keen, and is of real benefit to the cadets. Secondly, the College being in the hands of the Admiralty, we are able to modify the syllabus and the conditions in order to meet the ever-changing conditions and needs of the Navy. Thirdly, inasmuch as it is a Government institution, it is open to criticism, and it gets it; and we think that that is thoroughly wholesome for the College. Perhaps I should raise opposition it I said that I had been to the best school of all, but I sometimes wish, nevertheless, that the school to which I had the honour to belong at one time were open to criticism and reform in minor matters, which is possible at Dartmouth but is not possible at the school at which I was. There is this real advantage from the Navy point of view. There is no idea of cramming. The object of Dartmouth is to produce a boy who is fit to become an efficient naval officer, and therefore it is no object to us or to the instructors at Dartmouth to get some boys of exceptional capacity trained to a very high state of efficiency at the expense of the others. Our desire is to get a really high standard for all the boys who go through Dartmouth, and I think most parents would agree—and I think naval officers would agree—that that standard is a high one, and it is achieved. The boys are really keen, and they have to work very hard, and, as they do everything at a run, there is very little time lost between one thing and another in the course of their day.

There are one or two other points to which the noble Duke referred. In regard to half-timers, as I have pointed out, boys who have left Dartmouth and have gone to sea become cadets and then midshipmen, and their training then is purely technical, and they are not doing ordinary school work when they are on board ship. As regards the comparison between boys who go through Dartmouth and boys who join the Navy by the special entry scheme, I frankly admit that the boys who go through the special entry scheme have done extremely well at examinations, and I think there is very little to choose between the Dartmouth boy and the special entry boy when it comes to examinations. There is this to be said on behalf of the Dartmouth boy, that he is fifteen months Younger when he takes his examination than is the boy who goes through the special entry.

To sum up, the Board of Admiralty feel that all three systems of entry into the Navy are necessary, and that Dartmouth must be maintained with its ordinary numbers of 550, sending annually somewhere about 150 cadets into the Navy, less the small shrinkage which comes in the course of the three and a half years that they are there. We feel, in addition, that we ought to have boys coming in by the special entry method, which enables a contact to be kept with the public schools, and is also a check upon Dartmouth itself. But we feel that in keeping Dartmouth, we catch boys young and we imbue them with the tradition of the Navv—a tradition about which I cannot speak adequately, but your Lordships know it as well as I do. We catch them at an age when that tradition soaks right in. We should be sorry if boys came in at a later age to Dartmouth when they are not so receptive of traditions and of all that can be taught at Dartmouth on the history and the past of that great Service. We say quite frankly that we want to have Dartmouth boys and we also want to have special entry boys: and the third system which, of course, will be maintained, is the promotion from the lower deck, which is working extremely well, and which we hope will continue and do the fine service to the Navy which it has done in the past.


My Lords, I have listened with particular interest to this debate, and the reason is that I had the honour to be Chairman of the Committee which was appointed four years ago to enquire into the best means of getting more officers, and of better quality, for the Army. That Committee contained various distinguished officers, including General Du Cane and others of much experience on the question, and we came to a unanimous conclusion which was rather in the direction of the noble Duke's principle, that if you are going to get more officers you must make the career a more attractive one, and you can make it a more attractive one by making it a more difficult one. The result was that we put forward a scheme of reforms which I believe has now been carried into effect, and under which officers were sought for from further sources.

I think the noble Earl has shown in his speech—very much in agreement with my noble friend Lord Chelmsford—that it would at least be rash to do away just now with the Dartmouth system of entry. But it will also be agreed that Dartmouth ought not to be the only way of coming in, and that the special entry system is a system which should be kept alive, and might be developed. Nothing was said by the noble Earl about the fourth alternative, which the Army has adopted with considerable success, and that is a system of asking the Universities to get them officers. No doubt these officers come at a later age; on the other hand, they come with a much more thorough education, and with that very tradition instilled into them of which the noble Earl spoke. The Universities to-day have found it worth while to have military teachers of high eminence, and they have the Officers' Training Corps, which, of course, the Navy has not. In that way they instil a very large amount of military tradition into their students, and a proportion of those students come straight to the Army now. Into the details of that I do not propose to go, because it is a speculative matter, but I should like to think that the attention of the Navy was directed to it.

There is no doubt to my mind that the noble Duke was right in saying that it is on the basis of the best general education that you can give him that you make your man most efficient, and Dartmouth, although it has some good teaching in science and other things, does not, I think, give teaching which is at all on the University level. I remember talking with a very distinguished teacher of mathematics at Cambridge on this subject. He said: "My difficulty with the Dartmouth boys is that they have not been put through the mill as they would have been put through the mill if they had gone through a good public school." Mathematics and physics are two subjects taught there and the boys learn a certain amount about them, but not as much as they would in an institution which was devoting itself specially to those subjects and educating for them. The best foundation of all is the foundation of University training. The next best is the foundation of a general education which may begin comparatively late but which makes everything easy to learn afterwards. I think it is quite compatible with the object of the Navy and with what they wish to secure that they should still further enlarge their number of special entries and go at least some way towards that ideal of the noble Duke by founding the training of an officer of the Navy on the best general education the country can give.


My Lords, I do not think you will expect me to reply to all the points raised in the debate. I listened with some interest to the words of the noble Earl who replied for the Government and noticed that he gave a réesumé of all the work in which naval officers specialise and referred to the importance of specialisation. My point in regard to that is that officers specialise sane time after they have entered the Navy and that a boy who enters at 17½ with a good sound general education can specialise just as well as any boy who goes through Dartmouth.

Another point was made that it was a good thing for boys to go to Dartmouth at the age of 12 because boys knew their minds at that age. I cannot accept that. Boys do not know their own minds at 12. I have heard little boys after their first ride in a train say they wanted to be engine drivers, and after their first drive in a motor-car that they wanted to be chauffeurs, and after their first day in a boat that they wanted to be sailors. I have even heard one boy say he wanted to be a Bishop. Boys do not know their own minds at 12. And so it happens that there are quite a number of misfits. The parents, of course, like their boys to go to Dartmouth, because they have the advantage there of a State-subsidised education, but I do not think it is fair, when parents find it very difficult to pay for the education of their own sons at public schools such as Wellington and Charterhouse, that they should also have to pay towards the education at Dartmouth of the sons of parents who are in the same station of life as themselves.

A point was made by the noble Viscount about the unity of sentiment in the Service, or the friendly feeling that results from acting in common at Dartmouth. I do not think that the present warfare which is going on between the purple stripe and the curl is proof of the unity of sentiment. The Admiralty, I believe, possess the power, if they are short of cadets at Dartmouth who volunteer for engineering, to compel a certain number to become engineers. That is most unpopular. The result is that a good many boys are taken for engineering under the special entry, and if that goes on you will have all the deck cadets coming from Dartmouth and all the engineering officers from another source, the public schools. That will put an end at once to the idea of community of sentiment. I do not propose to press my Motion. I did not expect it would be approved but I am glad to see that it has not been met altogether with a non possumus attitude. I beg leave to withdraw.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.