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Volume 229: debated on Thursday 25 May 1876

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asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, Whether his attention has been called to the hardship suffered by several sub-Lieutenants in the Navy, many of whom, after having been on active service for many years without having any opportunities of efficient study, have been dismissed the service in consequence of failing to pass the examination for the rank of Lieutenant, in consequence of the present rule being that if the officer fail to pass in the first instance, he is only allowed an interval of about six weeks before he has to go up for a second examination, which is final; whether it is a fact that at the examination in December last eleven officers were examined, the result being that six were dismissed the service; and, whether he sees any objection to allow an interval of four or six months to elapse after the first examination before the second and final examination takes place?

The subject referred to in the Question of the right hon. Gentleman has engaged my serious attention, and I have had the advantage of consulting, not only the President of the Royal Naval College, but his predecessor, and they agree in the views they have put before me. I demur to the statement that these officers have failed to pass their examination in consequence of the rule referred to in the Question. I have gone through the case of every young officer who has failed to pass, and in every instance I trace the failure, not to the rule, but to the idleness of the officers in question. I am assured that any officer of ordinary ability and application could easily prepare himself for the examination within the limit of time, and that if a longer period were allowed, there would only be the greater opportunity for idleness. Under these circumstances, I am not prepared to assent to the proposal contained in the Question. With regard to the number of officers who failed in December last, the number stated in the Question is correct; but it appears that the case was exceptional, and that a similar case is not likely to happen again. The last examination has produced much more favourable results.