HL Deb 25 February 1964 vol 255 cc1058-80

4.10 p.m.

Report of Amendments received (according to Order).

Clause 1:

Transfer to and discharge by, Secretary of State and Defence Council of certain statutory functions

1.—(1) If Her Majesty is pleased to make arrangements— (b) for the establishment of a Defence Council having powers of command and administration over Her Majesty's armed forces, and of a Navy Board, an Army Board and an Air Force Board to be charged (under the Defence Council) with the administration of matters relating to the naval, military and air forces respectively;

LORD TEYNHAM moved, in subsection (1)(b), to leave out "Navy Board" and to insert "Admiralty Board." The noble Lord said: My Lords, I have been asked by the noble Lord, Lord Colyton, to apologise to your Lordships for his inability to be present to-day, owing to illness. In moving this Amendment for the second time, I do so with a sense of responsibility and after very careful thought indeed. I do not propose to weary your Lordships with all the arguments in favour of the retention of the word "Admiralty". I had hoped, and I still hope, that Her Majesty's Government will now be prepared to accept the Amendment. But for the benefit of those of your Lordships who were not present in the House during the debate on the Committee stage, perhaps I should refer to one or two of the main arguments in favour of this Amendment. The intention of this Amendment is to substitute the words "Admiralty Board" for "Navy Board" in Clause 1, and it is followed by two consequential Amendments.

As I have previously stressed in your Lordships' House, we must be careful to guard against the tendency of planners to forget the greatly different roots and traditions of the Armed Services. This applies particularly to the Royal Navy. There is, of course, a fundamental difference between the Navy and the other Armed Services. A soldier has his loyalty to his regiment, but in the Navy the unit is the man's ship, and nowadays, with short service commissions, it is becoming more difficult to build up a similar loyalty to his ship. Therefore I maintain that something higher is required which the sailor can look up to as a focus of his loyalty, and this must be the Admiralty.

The word "Admiralty" goes back many centuries, long before the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, and of course long before the old-time Navy Board, which was engaged in handling supplies for His Majesty's ships. I suggest "Navy Board" is not a very attractive name to revive. In fact, the Navy Board made such a mess of things that it was wound up. It is not a name which conveys any great respect or meaning to the Navy or in the country. But I am sure that the disappearance of the great, historic name of "Admiralty" would come as a very great shock to the mass of the British people who at present may know little or nothing of what is envisaged in this Bill.

During the Committee stage of the Bill the noble Earl the First Lord of the Admiralty argued that because the new Navy Board will be discharging many responsibilities at present exercised by the Board of Admiralty, not in its own right but as devolved upon it by the Ministry of Defence, the term "Admiralty" could not be used because it might cause confusion. With all due deference, I must say that this is a very weak argument. The retention of the word "Admiralty" could not possibly, I suggest, have that effect. Another very important point is that the Committee stage of this Bill was not taken on the Floor of the House in another place but went upstairs, and many of the points were not fully discussed; and I would suggest to your Lordships that this Bill is essentially one which, for those reasons alone, should be sent back to another place for further discussion.

I now come to a matter which I think should be disclosed to the House. It has been said in some quarters that I am the leader of a plot to maintain the present set-up of the Admiralty and its powers, in spite of the Bill which is before your Lordships and which has already been accepted in principle. I can assure Her Majesty's Government that this is quite untrue. I have not even formed a committee about the matter, and the whole support is spontaneous. It was implied in this House during the Committee stage of the Bill that the Navy did not really care either way and were prepared to accept the name "Navy Board". I have had letters, not only from naval officers but also from civilians employed at the Admiralty, fully supporting my efforts to retain the word "Admiralty" in accordance with my Amendment; and I am now going to read an extract from a letter I have received, in fact this morning, from a past Deputy Secretary of the Admiralty. It reads as follows: I am deeply distressed that a Conservative Government, whose pride it should be to conserve all that is good in our national heritage, should be a party to this wanton act.

I had the honour last week of attending a dinner at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, at which some 300 officers of all ranks were present, and I was left in no doubt that they all fully supported my Amendment. The sea, I would say, is in the heart of every Briton, and the world "Admiralty" means a lot more than Party politics. And I venture to suggest that this debate is not about Party politics. I would end by saying that I think it would be a sorry day for England if the time-honoured word of "Admiralty" is allowed to disappear into the limbo of forgotten things. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 1, line 10, leave out ("Navy Board") and insert ("Admiralty Board").—(Lord Teynham.)

4.18 p.m.


My Lords, I fear that at our Committee stage I was not able to imitate the admirable brevity of my noble friends who moved and supported this Amendment. I hope to do better this time, but I must apologise in advance if the arguments which I deploy against the Amendment are perhaps fairly familiar to your Lordships. My excuse is that my noble friend the Leader of the House and I have already adduced at the Committee stage most of the very good arguments which we believe support a good case.

There is first, I would remind your Lordships, the functional argument. The Navy Board, whether we like it or whether we do not like it, will in fact be a very different animal from the present Board of Admiralty. It will, of course, have considerable management powers, because—and here I think I can reassure my noble friend Lord Selkirk—it is my right honourable friend's intention to secure a real measure of decentralisation. But—and this is the vital distinction—these responsibilities of Admiralty which it will discharge will be delegated to it by the Secretary of State or by the Defence Council. It will not discharge these responsibilities, as my noble friend has just said, as does the present Board of Admiralty, of its own right. It is for that reason that we believe it would be illogical and inconsistent, and indeed actively misleading, to retain the old and, indeed, very revered title.

My noble friend said just now that this is a weak argument. Well, your Lordships must decide on that particular point. But if we are making a considerable change in our arrangements—and this is indeed a considerable change—then I think there is something to be said for the argument which I am putting. If you are making a considerable change, you can confuse things considerably if you are not prepared in the last analysis to change some titles. Noble Lords are asking us to substitute "Admiralty" for "Navy". "Admiralty" is indeed a splendid name; but so, I suggest, is "Navy". I should feel quite differently about this, of course, if "Navy Board" were not an old and honourable title, with, indeed, greater claims to antiquity than has "Board of Admiralty".

I know that this point was queried by my noble friend Lord Colyton (who I am sorry is not here to-day) at our Committee stage. He suggested that "Board of Admiralty" or "Admiralty Board" was, in fact, the older. I do not believe that he was right, and I am fortified in my belief by a letter in to-day's Times which caught my eye this morning while I was shaving. It seemed to me a wholly admirable letter, if only because it referred to "the First Lord's admirable résumé of historical background" to all this at our Committee stage. As the writer of the letter pointed out—and it is quite true the term "Navy Board" goes back to 1546, while the term "Admiralty", in the sense of "Board of Admiralty" as we know it, or approximately as we know it, dates only from 1628. Both go back a long way, but one goes back to Henry VIII and the other only to Charles I. The noble Earl, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, told us at our Committee stage that the term "Navy Board" had not been in use for a long time. All I can say is that it was, in fact, in use for almost 300 years; and that, in all conscience, is a fairly long time.

Moreover, despite what my noble friend Lord Teynham has said, I should like to reaffirm that, given this proposed reorganisation of our overall structure of defence, there is, I believe, no general concern among those who serve the Navy at present about reverting to this old title of "Navy Board". I do not think that there is this lively concern which my noble friend has suggested exists. Indeed, from such soundings as I have taken, the majority opinion is that this new title is more appropriate to the sort of functions which this new Board will be discharging.


My Lords, could we know where the soundings were made? Which channel was it?


My Lords, I do not wish to shelter behind that, but those are the soundings that I have taken, and I prefer to leave the matter there. This is open to argument. It may be that my noble friend's soundings in this respect are deeper and more accurate than mine. That is the historical argument, and it is, I would suggest, at least marginally supported by what I should like to call the phonetic argument. To me, "Navy Board" comes rather better off the tongue than "Admiralty Board". I would agree that "Board of Admiralty" comes better off the tongue than either. But, of course, noble Lords are not suggesting that we should retain "Board of Admiralty."

I made it clear, or tried to, at our Committee stage, that my view of all this would be quite different if I believed that this change would in any way impair the loyalty of the men in the Navy to the Navy, or would, as my noble friend Lord Colyton said, have "a damaging effect on morale in the Royal Navy". I would seriously suggest that those of your Lordships who may put this argument this afternoon are rather over-yolking the egg here. I am reminded of the jingle, familiar to many of your Lordships, in Ruthless Rhymes: I was playing golf the day That the Germans landed. All our troops had run away, And our ships were stranded. And the thought of England's shame Very nearly spoilt my game.


"Almost put me off my game".


I am glad to stand corrected. I thought it was "almost". I checked the point and my information was incorrect. I do not believe that if we make this change to "Navy Board" the Royal Marines will, in fact, run away, or that our ships will strand. I really do not believe that, whether your Lordships accept this Amendment or reject it, one Admiral will sleep less happily tonight in his hammock or that one able seaman will sleep less easily in his bunk.

My Lords, I should like now to come to the real crux of this matter—the contention of my noble friend and those who support this Amendment that it will not in any way interfere with the idea of integration embodied in the Bill which is before your Lordships. Here, I should like your Lordships to consider two points most seriously. First, it is the considered view of Her Majesty's Government (who of course, in the last resort, have the responsibility here) that this Amendment is logically incompatible with the concept of a unified Ministry of Defence, or at least could be represented (which, in certain respects, can be just as important) as being incompatible with that concept. If this were not so, the change of title would have been accepted at the Committee stage, when the strength of many of your Lordships' views became apparent, and we should not be here arguing this matter again to-day.

Secondly, I would ask my noble friend Lord Teynham, and those who support this Amendment, to recognise that at least some noble Lords opposite who support the Amendment, or who spoke at Committee stage in support of it, have made it pretty clear that although they are not prepared to offer outright opposition to the principle underlying this Bill, they are not particularly enamoured of that principle. I would suggest to my noble friend that these noble Lords may be more logical in their opposition to "Navy Board" than my noble friend and his friends, because they, at least, oppose, or incline to oppose, the fact of unification rather than the trimming.

Finally, I would ask your Lordships to believe that I am no less jealous than my noble friend and those who support this Amendment for all that the term "Admiralty" has meant, or for all that the term "Navy" means and will always mean. My noble friend was kind enough to withdraw his Amendment at our Committee stage, given the undertaking by my noble Leader that he would look at this most carefully again in the light of the arguments which were advanced at our Committee stage. My right honourable friend and his colleagues have, in fact, reconsidered this matter most carefully, most fully, and, I would claim, most responsibly. It is only in the light of that careful reconsideration that, for the reasons which I have sought to advance to-day, and which I advanced at our Committee stage, I must once more ask your Lordships to reject this Amendment, should my noble friends wish to press it.

4.28 p.m.


My Lords, we find ourselves, as a House, in a most unfortunate position to-day on this important question. I, at any rate, am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Teynham, in the light of all the circumstances that he has arranged to put this Amendment down again to-day. I rather resent the suggestion from the noble Earl who has just spoken that those of us on this side who supported the Amendment on the last occasion, while not exactly being against the general principles of the proposed new organisation of the Ministry of the Defence, were nevertheless not so enthusiastic about the support of proper integration of the Services and were therefore taking this line upon this Amendment. That is quite unjustifiable.

Let me tell the noble Earl, first of all, that before the war, in peace time, we never had an adequate Ministry of Defence. The first Government to set up such a thing was the Attlee Government at the end of 1946. I happen to be the person who was the first Minister of Defence. I was all for the proper integration of general defence policy. That does not mean to say one should look for such results as appear to be coming out of this Bill—where one is going to have a very faint and inefficient copy of the Pentagon, yet without leaving some of the liberties with the Service Departments, liberties which still exist in the United States under the Pentagon.

We now learn that there is to be a central building for the Ministry of Defence, and that something like 25,000 staff are to be transferred there. Undoubtedly, there is going to be duplication in the performance of certain duties. The noble Earl the other day very kindly wrote me a letter—and I am obliged to him for it—explaining his attitude on this matter. But in certain posts there was an addition on April 1 of about 70. Whilst he has told me that he thinks it will be adjusted and wiped out as it goes on, nevertheless the kind of administration which has been going on up to the present in those respects will not, in my view, be assisted by the changes which are being made. Nor is there any real justification for the argument he has again deployed this afternoon with regard to the actual use of the title proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Teynham, instead of the one in the Bill.

I hesitate to pass judgment upon phonetic sounds, but I have been president of the Pitman institute and so I have paid a great deal of attention to phonetic sounds in my life, and am still capable of studying the best means of using phonetics. I can see nothing less phonetically excellent about the term "Admiralty" than I can see about the word "Navy". "Admiralty" is certainly, in my view, a little more majestic. Not only does it mean something to our own citizens, our sailors and marines in the Service, but it has left a lasting impression upon peoples all over the world. From that point of view, I prefer my view of the phonetics to the view expressed by the noble Earl—and I am certain his father would have agreed with me.

I should like to say a word or two about the results which the nation ought to expect from the complete integration which the noble Earl feels is best expressed, in the case of the Navy, by the Navy Board. What examples have we in the last twelve years of Conservative Government as to the results? We are in a very difficult situation. Now that these papers are before us in relation to the new Ministry of Defence we know that we are going up to a total defence bill of £2,000 million; and with far fewer personnel, having regard to the kind of situation which we have to meet all over the world. I am not yet impressed by the results of what the Government consider to be the best methods of integration today. I very much want a central policy on defence, and do not want it to be handled in such a way that the country pays far more money for far less efficient provision. This is why I feel, from long experience at the Admiralty, that the confidence felt in the name of "Admiralty", a matter which is being pursued in the Press, is a factor involved.

The noble Earl has referred to the history of the use of the term Navy Board and the history of the period in which there were Lords Commissioners of the Board of Admiralty. Well, I cannot speak from a wealth of detail on this as I was not prepared for this kind of argument to be presented, but I fancy that some aspects of naval history might show a little less righteousness in administration by the Navy Board than has on the whole been the case with the Lords of the Admiralty since they were instituted. Certainly I think the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty have far more respect both from the Service and from the public than was the case in the early days of the Navy Board.

It is a curious thing that we again face discussion of this matter with your Lordships' House occupied, it seems to me, in the same way as when the matter was discussed before. It was then clearly recognised by the Leader of the House to be in such a frame of mind that, if there were to be a vote, the Government would be defeated. It was pretty clear in the minds of those present that he had to make a very able, clever and moving speech in support of the argument of his noble and gallant friend. I feel that the House to-day, having listened to the rather inadequate arguments of the noble Earl the First Lord of the Admiralty, feels disappointed that the noble Lord the Leader of the House has, one supposes, tried to get the Government to change their opinion but has failed. He promised us that he would have this matter thoroughly reconsidered. Therefore, it looks to me as if the efforts that have been made have been turned down in other quarters. It would be better for the dignity of the House, and for the country as a whole, if the House, irrespective of Party, were this afternoon to reaffirm the decision which it clearly was going to affirm on the last occasion, when we were asked to withdraw the Amendment so that the matter might be reconsidered.

4.38 p.m.


My Lords, I have had to draw many organisation charts in my day and have often succeeded in achieving a symmetrical and logical picture, but have found that this meant that I would have to throw overboard old traditions and old habits. I have then had to say to myself, "Am I drawing this chart for the sake of producing a pretty picture, or am I drawing it in order to produce an organisation which will work smoothly?" Generally, when I have reached that point, I have had to sit with a wet towel round my head and find means and methods of retaining some of the old traditions—what some people rather unkindly call "old Spanish customs". I have found that when I have done that the organisation really does work smoothly.

This is where the planners have failed. They have got a reasonably tidy chart for this new Ministry of Defence, but I do not think they have quite succeeded in clarifying the duties of the three Ministers of Defence, who started originally as Secretaries of State for Defence. We have heard a lot about duties across the board, but it is not at all clear in my mind what these are going to do. But this is nothing to do with this debate and I must leave it.

No, my Lords, I think it is purely in the interests of symmetry and logic that the Government have dropped the term "Admiralty", without giving due weight to the fact that for years and years the word "Admiralty" has had a worldwide significance which I tried to explain when I spoke on the Committee stage of this Bill. I, too, have read the interesting historical letter in The Times. Although I can still shave in a rolling ship, I am quite unable to do so when reading The Times, and, in fact, I read it in your Lordships' Library. But whilst historically it is true, I must say I agree with the noble Earl who leads the Opposition. I do not think the Navy Board had an impressive enough record in the past, and I still think that "Admiralty" is the right word.

It has been suggested to me outside this House—and, in fact, it was suggested in the House during our debate on the Committee stage—that the retention of this historic word "Admiralty" in the organisation will prevent the Navy from thinking afresh and possibly co-operating properly or integrating itself properly with the other Services. My Lords, I reject this utterly. Since time immemorial the Navy has been in the forefront of inter-Service co-operation. The last time I spoke I mentioned the Civil War of 1642. May I mention Peel's Naval Brigade in the Indian Mutiny, the Naval Brigade in the Crimea, the Naval Brigade in South Africa, Percy Scott and his 4½7 guns? In passing, I may mention that I had the pleasure of serving with two of those guns in a small ship in the First World War. Last, but not least, Nelson's sailors hauled their guns ashore and up the cliffs in Corsica, to help out the Army in the seige of Bastia. More recently we come to the R.N. Commandos in Borneo and East Africa and, my Lords, it was "Bulwark" or "Albion" which steamed 12,000 miles off her station to fetch a squadron of R.A.F. helicopters from Libya to Borneo.

I do not think there is any evidence, either in our past or recent history, to show that the Navy will not collaborate or integrate itself with the other Services. It must do so. We are a maritime country and we must always follow a maritime strategy if we are to survive. It follows from that that the Navy must always be in the forefront of every single operation we have to carry out. To cut out the term "Admiralty" from the Bill is unnecessary and breaking with a tradition of world-wide significance. I think it would be a most unwise thing to do. The only thing more unwise that I can imagine is to launch this great reorganisation on April 1, which I spoke about in the Second Reading debate. My Lords, I support my noble friend's Amendment. With him I nail my colours to the mast. If we go down we go down, but I do not think we shall.

4.44 p.m.


My Lords, I support this Amendment, maybe only for sentiment or for antiquarianism. I believe in preserving things of great tradition and not for going in for the kind of iconoclasm which is a feature of the present Government, who are always pulling things down or destroying them. I do not think the arguments against this Amendment are very strong. We have heard about logic, but who ever applied logic to British institutions? We have heard about function, but who ever thought that the title of anything here had anything to do with its function? About twenty-odd years ago I was Lord Privy Seal. Your Lordships may ask what my function was. My function was to affix the Privy Seal to certain conveyances of personal property. If I did so I exposed myself to all the perils of prœmunire. We keep the title "Lord Privy Seal" and we do very well. I like the old titles; I like our connection with the past. I do not see any real reason for destroying such a good word as "Admiralty". "Navy" is all right, but "Admiralty" is better. I strongly support the noble Lord's Amendment.


My Lords, I should like strongly to support this Amendment and I will certainly do so if it is carried to a Division. I am old enough to remember when there was no Army Council and when there was no Air Council. I do not know what they were called, but the Admiralty was the Admiralty, as it has remained since. I think it would be a thousand pities if it were abolished, and I cannot help feeling that if it were changed it would have a very disastrous effect on the country. I entirely support the Amendment.


My Lords, I was unable to be in my place last week when this matter was discussed, and I hope I shall be in order now if I put my views very briefly. It was argued by some noble Lords last week and, again, it has been argued to-day by my noble friend Lord Teynham, that with the rather shorter periods that ships now have in commission the officers and men want something outside their ship on which to focus their loyalties, that something being the Admiralty. My Lords, being an Irishman by birth, I suppose I may be a little bit contrary, but I cannot agree with this view of loyalties. In all the years I spent at sea, I doubt very much if 1 per cent. of the bluejackets or 10 per cent. of the officers knew or cared who was at the Admiralty or whether, indeed, it served any useful purpose. It was far too remote and, being manned partly by civilians, it was regarded with a good deal of mistrust and suspicion.

I am not suggesting for a moment that those views are fair; I am quite certain that they are not. But I believe that, by and large, the sailor in a big ship looks not to his captain as a rule—the captain is a remote creature—he looks to his divisional officer or his head of department. In a small ship where the captain is less remote he looks to his first lieutenant and to his captain. But in neither a large ship nor a small ship would he ever regard the Admiral of his squadron as of any great interest or importance, except on the one odd day of the year when the Admiral might come on board to carry out an inspection or some such duty. Though commissions are now shorter than they were, I cannot believe that that will make any appreciable difference. A sailor's loyalty will always be to the officers of his own ship and, in my view, that is the proper place for it to be.


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord? He is an old friend and I think the last time I met him on duty he was Flag Officer and Rear Admiral at Gibraltar. I believe I am right in saying that. Well, I do not think his arguments apply very well. I know perfectly well that he was highly respected at Gibraltar, and that all the sailormen who were then on shore with him, as well as those at sea, would not have quite the feelings he is now expressing.


I am grateful to the noble Earl for the kind things he has said about me, but I rather doubt whether they are correct. From this point of view, I can see little objection to changing the name from "Admiralty" to "Navy Board". Of course, I fully appreciate the value of the old name of "Admiralty", though I myself have no particular affection for that establishment. Of all the many years I spent on the Active List, I suppose that the ones I enjoyed least were the two years I spent as Director of one of the Naval Staff Divisions at the Admiralty. It seems to me that as the proposed title "Navy Board" is in line with the proposals for our other two Services, and with the Commonwealth and with some foreign countries, we had much better accept it and forgo the admitted advantages of the old and traditional name of "Admiralty". I do not believe that, by doing so, the efficiency of the Royal Navy will be diminished in the slightest degree, and I believe that the public may well appreciate that a change of name also means a change of function. My Lords, if this Amendment goes to a Division I will certainly vote against it.

4.50 p.m.


My Lords, I should not have intervened if I had not thought that the noble Lord, Lord Ashbourne, had missed the entire point of this Amendment. The object is a perfectly simple one: to preserve a generally accepted, well-understood term, and not, because there is reorganisation, to abandon something which is very much part of our current tradition. We fully accept that the term "Navy Board" is a very ancient one. On Sunday, I went to the Science Museum, where there is a picture of the Navy Board and a picture of the Admiralty Board and a clear explanation of the difference between the two. But, traditional as we are, we do not have to go back to the seventeenth century for our arguments.

This is not merely a question of loyalty to the Admiralty (it is very probable that the noble Lord, Lord Ash-bourne, if he were to become the Director of a Division in the new Ministry of Defence, would dislike it even more), but I would strongly urge that we can do what we like with words. The word "Admiralty" is a concept; it is an abstract phrase; and it is one that means something to us. Why should we not call it "Admiralty" if we want to do so? The fact that its functions are changed does not alter the argument. Whether we accept the change or whether we do not—and to a large extent I do—the fact remains that many noble Lords, including myself, would like it to continue to be called the "Admiralty Board". I hope that in this matter we shall follow our own feelings, and not consider arguments of pure logic. The noble Earl deployed a very good case, a fine hammer, to destroy something which does not need destroying. I hope that this House will make up its mind to stick to the word "Admiralty".


My Lords, I think the basis of the argument in favour of this Amendment is that of preserving tradition; and this is something which I think we should always do when we can. The preservation of tradition has various merits. First of all, it goes to stability. It also has a great historical interest; and it tends, in a certain number of cases, to produce an esprit de corps—though I do not think that this is particularly important in this case, certainly not for the bulk of the Navy. But, my Lords, it has one great disadvantage, and that is that it prevents change. The very fierceness with which some noble Lords have spoken to-day to preserve the name "Admiralty" and this tradition makes me feel that when we are faced with these very great changes—as we are—and the difficulty in making them, in producing a unified command, we should be wiser in this case to accept the change in name also. I am really making the same point that was made by the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, last time, but I believe that it is an important point. I am afraid that I feel that many of the points made in this debate have not been of very great weight, but I attach a certain amount of weight to this. I will therefore vote with the Government.


My Lords, I want, if I may, to make a last appeal to the Government to meet what I believe to be the fervent wishes, not only of the great Service to which I had the honour to belong but, I believe, of a very large majority of thinking people on this matter. It may seem odd to some that we cling to this word "Admiralty". There is something indefinable, intangible, almost (if I may use the expression) a religious intensity, which makes it quite unthinkable that any Government should, with just a stroke of the pen, expunge a word that has conjured up through the ages that high degree of loyalty, service and enthusiasm which has always been the pride of the nation. The Government, by insisting on this measure, are, I think, showing a degree of obtuseness and unawareness which is quite unworthy of them. One must not wax lyrical or be overemotional on this matter, but I can assure the Government that this word "Admiralty" conjures up far more than they seem to appreciate—an inspiration which has grown up and flourished through the ages; a name which is revered throughout the Seven Seas and on every continent. My Lords, in my view they will be doing an irreparable harm and a mortal injury to esprit de corps and loyalty—yes, and to decency in upholding old and sacred traditions.

4.56 p.m.


My Lords, I think it is a remarkable thing that we should hold a debate of this character on, shall I say, the Admiralty, which, of all Departments, have never attracted affection. I think they would have been rather horrified had they ever been regarded with affection. But I believe that this is not an argument about tradition: this is an existing organisation, or, rather, an existing idea that we still have in this country. I had the very great honour and privilege of travelling pretty widely when holding the office of First Lord—to Auckland, Sydney, Pearl Harbour, Esquimalt, Bombay, Karachi—and I can assure your Lordships that in all these places anyone representing the Admiralty still means something. I am not prepared to say that he would not go on doing so, but at this time it appears to me perhaps unfortunate gratuitously to throw away something which we have and which, in fact, no other country does have.

I am not impressed, if I may say so with great respect to the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, with the arguments about incompatibility and about difficulties of organisation. Of course there will be difficulties of organisation; and there might even be confusion—though I hope not: in fact, I do not think there will. But I am quite certain that it will not make one iota of difference whether the name of this Board is Navy "or" Admiralty". What has happened is quite simple. The Defence Board has been changed to the Defence Council. Therefore, the Army Council have to go, and the Air Council have to go; and, in order that we may have an equal sharing of misery, something must be done to the Navy. That is all it amounts to. I think that so far as possible we should retain something which, as I say, has a standing, and means something in the world. I believe that it is a great mistake to change this. May I add one further word? If we do not accept this Amendment, the change will be irrevocable from this afternoon. If we accept the Amendment, the Government, and maybe the other place, will have the opportunity of thinking again. I hope, therefore, that we shall do so.


My Lords, there is little, if anything, that I can add to what my noble friend Lord Jellicoe has said, because he put the case for the rejection of this Amendment clearly and shortly. But I thought it would be right to intervene for just one moment, since it was at my suggestion that the noble Lord, Lord Teynham, withdrew his Amendment at the Committee stage. It will be within the recollection of your Lordships that I asked him to do so. I promised that my noble friend the First Lord would consult the Minister of Defence and see whether there was any way of meeting the substance of the Amendment; and this was done. I was careful—and I hope your Lordships will bear me out—not to make any promise as to whether the Government would or would not be able to agree to what my noble friend Lord Teynham and other noble Lords who put their names to the Amendment wished. I was a little concerned, if I may say so, at what the noble Earl the Leader of the Opposition said in his remarks, when he seemed to chide me for the course that I took last Thursday. I really must make it plain to him that because as Leader of the House I say that I will take a matter back for consultation, it does not automatically mean that that Amendment will be agreed to. I hope that the noble Earl, on reflection, will agree that he did not mean what he said in the course of his remarks.


My Lords, I thought the noble Lord certainly made it clear that he could not make any final promise. I agree with that. But I think that he made it clear that he recognised that if it went to a Division on that occasion the Government would have been defeated. That was the main reason for having it re-examined in that way. I think the noble Lord was fair to the House, and I am not complaining about that. I merely indicated that it seems quite clear that the representations made to the Government failed.


My Lords, if I misunderstood the noble Earl, then I apologise. I will read his words in to-morrow's OFFICIAL REPORT. He said that I suggested that the Government might have been defeated on a Division. For all I know, if my noble friend presses his Amendment, we shall be defeated to-day. It is my object to try to prevent that by saying these few short words this evening. In any event, I hope my noble friend will agree with me that he is in no worse position to-day to take such action as he feels necessary than he was last Thursday on the Committee stage.

Nevertheless, I hope that he will not divide the House—and for this reason. Nobody—and I said this on a previous occasion—could possibly respect or honour the traditions of the Royal Navy more than I; or, indeed, more than my noble and gallant friend behind me who was rebuked by two Members of the Opposition Front Bench for having missed the point and for not representing naval opinion correctly. But over the weekend I have read in the newspapers of the sadness that many people feel at the passing of the word "Admiralty" in connection with the Royal Navy. For instance, a letter was very prominently displayed in the Daily Telegraph on Saturday, I think, which deplored any suggestion that Admiralty charts and Admiralty establishments would be called by a different name. I hope your Lordships will understand that this is really a complete misunderstanding of what is going to happen. Nobody is suggesting that Admiralty charts should be called anything other than Admiralty charts, or Admiralty establishments anything different from what they are at the moment. I have here a list (which I will not weary your Lordships with reading) which details all the establishments and historical titles, offices, appointments, documents, ships, and so on, which will retain the word "Admiralty"; and your Lordships will be pleased to hear that there is no intention, for instance, of renaming the Admiralty Arch the "Navy Arch".

The only proposal before your Lordships this afternoon is that the Board of Admiralty should be renamed the Navy Board. As has been explained, both on Thursday and to-day, under the new organisation—and I think almost all your Lordships agree that this organisation is right—the Board of Admiralty, as it was previously constituted, ceases to exist. It functions are largely taken over by the Defence Council; and the Board for the Navy (call it what you will) becomes in effect a sub-committee of the Defence Council, although naturally with important duties to perform. It will not be the Board of Admiralty as we have known it in the past; it will not have the same autonomy; it will not have the right to fly its own flag; it will not enjoy the same authority as the old Board. The new Board is not the Lord High Admiral in Commission; it is in effect a management board.

If your Lordships believe that at the present time it is necessary to make this alteration of organisation—and you must do so, since none of your Lordships challenged the principle of this Bill on Second Reading—then I believe it is right that the change of organisation should be marked by a change of name: a change of name which in itself marks accurately the difference of function between the old and the new Boards, and to a name which is an historic and respected naval title.


My Lords, may I interrupt? Yet you are quite content to say it is not necessary to change the name of Admiralty charts and call them Navy Board charts. You will not change the name for them and call them Navy Board charts. You will not change the name of two senior staff officers of the Royal Navy; you retain the name of the First Sea Lord; you retain the name of the Second Sea Lord; although you are apparently going to abolish the Lords Commissioners. The Government seem to be in a completely illogical position.


My Lords, the difference is that all these establishments

have not changed their functions. This is what I am trying to point out to noble Lords. If your Lordships do not agree, then I might remind you of what the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, said: that logic should not be applied to British institutions. Much as I respect the motives which have moved my noble friends to put down this Amendment—and, of course, I do not in any way suggest that there is a plot; and, of course, it is ridiculous to say such a thing—I hope your Lordships, for the reasons I have given, will support the Government if my noble friend decides to press the Amendment.


My Lords, I have listened carefully to the arguments put forward by the noble Lords who spoke against this Amendment. I do not think any of them have invalidated the arguments I have put forward. I have listened very carefully to the noble Lord the Leader of the House; but I feel that in the circumstances I must press this Amendment.

5.10 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 1) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 65; Not-Contents, 57.

Addison, V. Gaitskell, B. Rusholme, L.
Ailwyn, L. Gardiner, L. Sainsbury, L.
Albemarle, E. Greenhill, L. St. Davids, V.
Alexander of Hillsborough, E. Henderson, L. St. Just, L.
Alport, L. Henley, L. Selkirk, E.
Amory, V. Hobson, L. Shackleton, L.
Ampthill, L. [Teller.] Hurcomb, L. Shepherd, L.
Amulree, L. Killearn, L. Silkin, L.
Attlee, E. Kinnoull, E. Somers, L.
Beauchamp, E. Lawson, L. Stonham, L.
Bossom, L. Lindgren, L. Summerskill, B.
Burden, L. Listowel, E. Swanborough, B.
Burton of Coventry, B. Long, V. Taylor, L.
Champion, L. McNair, L. Teynham, L. [Teller.]
Clwyd, L. Massereene and Ferrard, V. Tweedsmuir, L.
Crook, L. Merthyr, L. Wakefield of Kendal, L.
Daventry, V. Meston, L. Walston, L.
Davidson, V. Molson, L. Williams, L.
Digby, L. Morrison of Lambeth, L. Williamson, L.
Douglas of Barloch, L. Northchurch, B. Wootton of Abinger, B.
Douglas of Kirtleside, L. Ogmore, L. Yarborough, E.
Forster of Harraby, L. Rea, L.
Aberdare, L. Baldwin of Bewdley, E. Bridgeman, V.
Ailsa, M. Bessborough, E. Carrington, L.
Amherst of Hackney, L. Blackford, L. Chesham, L.
Ashbourne, L. Blakenham, V. Conesford, L.
Atholl, D. Boston, L. Cork and Orrery, E.
Auckland, L. Brecon, L. Craigton, L.
Crathorne, L. Goschen, V. [Teller.] Mar and Kellie, E.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Greenway, L. Milverton, L.
Derwent, L. Grenfell, L. Napier and Ettrick, L.
Devonshire, D. Hanworth, V. Newton, L.
Dilhorne, L. (L. Chancellor.) Hastings, L. Rathcavan, L.
Drumalbyn, L. Horsbrugh, B. Robertson of Oakridge, L.
Dudley, L. Howard of Glossop, L. Russell of Liverpool, L.
Dundee, E. Iddesleigh, E. St. Oswald, L.
Elliot of Harwood, B. Jellicoe, E. Salisbury, M.
Falkland, V. Lansdowne, M. Sandford, L.
Falmouth, V. Lothian, M. Stratheden and Campbell, L.
Ferrers, E. Mabane, L. Suffield, L.
Fortescue, E. McCorquodale of Newton, L. Swinton, E.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.


My Lords, this Amendment is consequential. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 30, leave out ("Navy Board") and insert ("Admiralty Board").—(Lord Teynham.)


My Lords, in view of the decision of the House, I hardly think it necessary for us all to walk through the Lobby again, but I think I ought to make it plain that the Government still do not agree with the substance of the Amendment.


My Lords, this Amendment is consequential. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 42, leave out ("Navy Board") and insert ("Admiralty Board").—(Lord Teynham.)

5.18 p.m.


My Lords, I am sorry to hear the noble Lord the Leader of the House say that, notwithstanding the decision of the House, the Government still hold the view which they expressed on Committee, when it was indicated that if the House had gone to a Division the Government's view would not have prevailed. To-day the matter has gone to a Division and the Government view has not prevailed. In view of the intention of the Committee last time and the decision of the House this time, may we not ask the noble Lord to preserve something like an open mind on this question? He has now two attitudes of the House—one last time, when it was agreed that the Committee would not agree with the Government and the second now, when it is clearly on the record that the House does not agree. Surely, if I may say so with great respect and courtesy and gentleness, the noble Lord is now in a stronger position to go back to the Ministry or to the Cabinet or to whatever is the appropriate body and say, "I am really in a great difficulty and I would urge upon you, for the sake of my own success and peaceable life in their Lordships' House, to give way, now that the House has formally declared its opposition". I beg the noble Lord not to be obdurate in the matter and, though the House has come to a decision contrary to his view, not to say that it is not going to make the slightest difference. If I may say so, that is not quite the way to treat your Lordships' House, which is one of the Houses of Parliament.


My Lords, of course, I did not say that. As the noble Lord well knows, what I said was that the result of the Division had not changed the Government's opinion. I am most grateful for the very courteous lesson that the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, has given me in how to persuade one's colleagues to do something they do not want to do. I will remember it, and I am sure I shall profit by it. But I would remind the noble Lord of something that he seems to have forgotten—namely, that there is another House of Parliament, and we must wait and see what happens there.