asked the Secretary of State for War what proportion of cadets at Sandhurst come direct from public schools.
Forty-nine per cent.
Does the Minister think that in the national interest it is a good thing that Army officers should be selected from so small a minority of the general population? Will he do what he can to broaden the intake? If I send him details of regiments which accept commissioned officers who have been only to public schools, will he investigate the matter?
I am not very keen on the imputation made by the hon. Member. The selection of an officer is on merit only—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] It is on merit only—[HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish."]—but the selection board can choose only from the people who apply. It is a fact that the public schools provide something like one-half of the applications for entry. I should add that the selection board is a wise body of people and that it is open to the hon. Member or anyone who has any qualms about what happens to attend a selection board.