§ MR. JUSTIN M'CARTHY (Londonderry)
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty whether it is a fact that, notwithstanding the acknowledged dearth of trained Lieutenants in the Navy, the Admiralty have practically suspended retirement of Lieutenants other than those affected by the age clause or invalided, and have thus deprived the country of the prospective services of those officers who have been compelled to resign through pressure of private affairs, and the altered condition of service from that which obtained when the present regulations for leave, half-pay, and retirement were framed; whether 748 it is a fact that some Lieutenants lately resigned have offered to continue their connection with the Service, on a retired or reserved list, even without remuneration, and that this offer has been unconditionally refused; and whether he will lay upon the Table the official correspondence connected with this latter question?
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
Optional retirement has been for the time been suspended. Those officers who resign might possibly, in the event of war or emergency, render service of a certain value; but such prospective service would be very problematical. The conditions of service have not materially altered since the present regulations for leave, half-pay, and retirement were framed in 1870. It should be understood that a Lieutenant cannot expect to first receive a considerable amount of education at the cost of the State, and then to be allowed to determine his engagement at his own convenience, and at the same time receive a pension for the rest of his life, subject only to the possibility of being called on to serve in case of war. An officer wished, after resignation, to keep the privilege of retaining his rank, right to wear uniform, and position in the Navy List, and offered, in return, to serve on any really urgent occasions and to qualify annually in gunnery and torpedo. It was decided not to accede to his request, as, though the services of such officers might be of some value, the Admiralty would have no hold over them, nor any power whatever of compelling them to serve. The officer thus retained on the list would probably claim retired pay and widow's pension.
§ LORD G. HAMILTON
So far as I know, only one officer made a proposal in accordance with the terms of the question of the hon. Gentleman, though one or two other proposals were made not strictly analogous to that offer.