HC Deb 15 November 1916 vol 87 cc811-2W
Commander BELLAIRS

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is aware that the naval evidence given before the Select Committee in 1361 was in favour of the permanent Secretary of the Admiralty, then known as the Second Secretary, being a naval officer of the paymaster branch, with experience as secretary to a commander-in-chief; whether he is aware of the success which has attended the use of a military officer as Secretary to the Army Council; and whether he can see his way to bring the suggested change into operation?


It will be obvious to my hon. and gallant Friend that the conditions obtaining in 1861 and those of 1916 are widely different. The only Admiralty with which I possess a first-hand acquaintance includes in its staff some 4,000 civilians, and this fact in itself, apart from other considerations, appears to me to create at least a strong presumption in favour of the appointment of the permanent head of the Admiralty Office being held by a civilian. Useful as a knowledge of secretarial duties afloat may be, yet, looking to the wide administrative range of the work of the Department, such knowledge would form only a small part of the experience serviceable to the conduct of business by the Board of Admiralty. In any event the only consideration which matters is that this important post should be filled by the best man available; and though no fixed rule should be laid down, I do not advocate any change in the present practice.