THE EARL OF SANDWICH
, in rising to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty as to the appointment of first-lieutenants to Her Majesty's ship "Garnet," said, he thought it was very essential that officers in command of Her Majesty's ships should have the power of selecting their first lieutenants, and when that practice was departed from, confusion and disorder would arise. Last year a near relative of his (Captain Montagu) told an officer whom he found doing his duty most ably in all respects that if an opportunity occurred he would be most happy to recommend him as first lieutenant of the ship to which he was commissioned. Captain Montagu accordingly wrote to the Lords of the Admiralty, recommending the appointment of Lieutenant Pelham as first lieutenant of the Garnet, and the answer he received was that when the time came the matter would be considered. At the end of a month Captain Montagu wrote again. He got no answer to his letter; but shortly afterwards he received a telegram from the Lords of the Admiralty saying that Lieutenant Pelham could not be appointed, and requiring him to appoint somebody else. The consequence was that, having received a letter from another officer recommending a friend, he telegraphed back to the Lords of the Admiralty that he knew nothing of the gentleman, and asking them to appoint whom they liked. That gentleman was appointed, and joined the ship at Sheerness; but, for some reason or other, he was superseded. When the ship got to Plymouth Lieutenant Hay was appointed, who, being an officer of great energy and efficiency, and liked by the men, everything went smoothly. He took the ship out to Jamaica, and when he got there he was superseded by another officer. He hoped that the noble Earl the First Lord of the Admiralty would give an assurance 272 that when an officer was commissioned to a ship he would be permitted to select his first lieutenant, and also be allowed proper time to appoint a successor to that officer. Unless courtesy existed between the officers of the Admiralty and the officers of the Navy great injury would be caused to the Service, and great difficulties would be placed in the way of proper command of the ships. He trusted the noble Earl would be able to give a satisfactory answer upon the subject.
§ LORD ALCESTER
said, that perhaps the noble Earl would permit him to reply to the Question which he had addressed to the First Lord of the Admiralty. The noble Earl had stated correctly the circumstances relating to the first appointment that had been made to the ship commanded by Captain Montagu. It was known by that officer that Lieutenant Pelham was not qualified by seniority for appointment to the Garnet, and, in addition to that, he was a gunnery officer. One of the complaints was, as he understood, that Lieutenant Hay was removed from the Garnet because he was a gunnery officer, and also because, on looking through The Navy List, the noble Earl had seen that a vessel of inferior tonnage had in that capacity seven or eight officers of that class. The noble Earl had answered his own Question. It was for that very reason—namely, that there were seven or eight gunnery lieutenants employed in the capacity of first lieutenants—that they became so very short, and it was necessary to remove Lieutenant Hay from the Garnet. The noble Earl also complained that Captain Montagu had not sufficient time to nominate another first lieutenant. Captain Montagu, he (Lord Alcester) was informed, had so repeatedly told his predecessor that he was not prepared to nominate any officer of his own, that the Admiralty had appointed him a good first lieutenant, and thus the officer superseded had been disappointed. The Admiralty had always endeavoured to meet the wishes of officers commissioning ships by giving them officers to their satisfaction; but, at the same time, they reserved power to appoint officers whom they thought necessary.
said, he begged to express his pleasure at seeing the noble and gallant Lord in his place, and hearing him take part in the Busi- 273 ness of the country. If he had any regret it was to see him on the Ministerial side of the House instead of on the Opposition. He felt sure that the great experience of the noble and gallant Lord would prove of much value in matters coming under discussion, especially in matters relating to the Navy. With regard to the present question, he thought no good could possibly result either to the officer whose case was under discussion or to the Service in general; and he could only express his regret that such cases should be brought before the House. At the same time, it was important that the value of a first lieutenant to the commander of a ship should be recognized, and that removals should not be hastily made.