§ 7. Mr. Skeffington-Lodge
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty on what grounds a naval officer of the Executive Branch was recently refused permission to publish an article in the Press dealing with attendance at religious worship in the Royal Navy.
Permission to publish this article was sought under K.R. and A.I. Article 17 (2), but was refused in accordance with the Admiralty's practice of forbidding the publication by serving officers or men of any matter of a controversial nature relating to Admiralty policy.
§ Mr. Skeffington-Lodge
Is my hon. Friend aware that this particular article was entirely objective in its nature, and did not venture on a criticism of any Admiralty policy? Is he further aware of the fact that senior naval officers have, since this Order was introduced about compulsory church attendance, criticised it adversely, and got away with it, and does it not seem inconsistent that that should have happened when this junior officer is penalised in this way?
It is not my view that this article is non-controversial. I have read it carefully, and I think it is controversial, and takes exception to Admiralty policy. With regard to the other part of the question, if my hon. Friend will give me examples of such statements I will, naturally, take them up.
§ Mr. Driberg
Can my hon. Friend give an assurance that this decision does not in any way further limit the rights of serving officers and men, as they were defined in the last Parliament by the, right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill)?
I think the right hon. Member for Woodford defined them in a speech about 1942, in very general terms. The best definition, however, is in the Admiralty instructions, which I have mentioned. They remain precisely the same and are not altered in any way by this particular incident.