HC Deb 21 February 1855 vol 136 cc1725-8

said, he would now beg to bring under the consideration of the House the regulations of the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, respecting the admission of orphan sons of the officers of the army, navy, and marine into that establishment. He felt assured that at a moment when this country had to mourn the loss of so many gallant officers, the House would not grudge him their indulgence while he made a brief statement upon the subject of his Motion. The Royal Military College at Sandhurst had been erected under the auspices of his Royal Highness the late Duke of York. The order for its erection was dated the 7th of May, 1808; admission to it was then, as at the present time, confined to three classes. The first class which attracted towards it the kindly solicitude of his Royal Highness had been the orphans of the subaltern officers of our army, and who had died leaving their families in pecuniary distress. Those who entered the college as members of that class were to receive here their education, board, and clothing, free of expense. The second class to whom admission had been accorded were the sons of officers who were alive, and serving in the army or navy; while the third class comprised the sons of noblemen and gentlemen who wished to enter into our military or naval services as a profession. Those regulations had, however, been since altered, and at present the first class embraced the sons of officers under the rank of field officers, and those, upon becoming students of the college, were obliged, instead of being educated free of expense, to pay a pension of 40l. per annum. The second and third classes continued in the same position as that in which they had been placed in 1808. The regulation which enabled the orphans of officers to be educated at Sandhurst free of expense had been in operation when he himself had been a student of the establishment. Under the system which then prevailed many of the sons of our most distinguished officers had received their education at the College. Among them was Sir Gaspard Le Marchant—the brother of the Clerk of that House, and at present Governor of Nova Scotia—one of the best officers in the service. He could, if it were necessary, mention the names of many other officers who had received their education at Sandhurst, and who had since shown themselves to be deserving of the kindness which had been extended towards them by their country. But he should advert to the cruel results of the changes in the regulations at Sandhurst to which he had alluded. The orphans of every class of officers were now compelled to pay 40l. a year upon admission to the college, and it must be obvious that many of the orphans of our officers were in consequence precluded from availing themselves of the means of obtaining military instruction. The widow of an ensign received only 30l. per annum, of a lieutenant 40l., of a captain 50l., and of a major 70l. per annum, and from that miserable annuity it was of course out of the question that the widow of an officer could pay 40l. a year for the education of a son, provide him with clothing and pocket money, furnish him with books, and support him during the vacations. In order to show how cruelly the present regulations operated he should mention to the House a case with which he had himself become acquainted. An officer on full pay had within the last two or three years a son at Sandhurst whose good conduct and attention to his studies had given to his instructors the greatest satisfaction. The young man in question had passed some of the examinations which it was necessary that he should pass before he was presented with his commission. Well, his father had died. The boy had become an orphan, and had been called upon to pay 40l. a year during the remainder of his term in college. To pay that sum had for him become impossible; and it appeared to be inevitable but that he must be removed from the college in consequence of his inability to pay the pension; thus his prospects in life had been upon the point of being blasted. However, to the great credit of his father's brother officers, they had stepped forward and agreed to pay for the son of their comrade in arms 40l. a year until he should have passed the necessary examination and obtained his commission. But could anything, he would ask, be more disgraceful to the country than that the necessity for an act of so much generosity upon the part of individuals should be permitted to exist? Sandhurst was called a Royal college, but what, he should like to know, was Royal about it except the building? It was called self-supporting, but it was so at the expense of officers of our army and navy. The question which he had asked the House to consider was not one embracing any religious or party feelings. It was a question upon which hon. Members of every shade of political and religious opinions might agree, and there were few among them who were not directly or indirectly interested in the well-being of the army and navy of this country. But it was not the country only which felt an interest in those who devoted their lives to its service; her sympathy with those gallant men, and her admiration of their valour, had been conveyed to our army in the Crimea by the commands of the Sovereign. Under the circumstances to which he had called the attention of the House, he thought he was justified in moving that twenty boys—the orphans of subaltern officers in the army, navy, or marines—should be elected annually to be educated at the expense of the country, and that for that purpose the number of cadets of the first class should be raised to fifty. He should also move that the new appointments in the Civil Service should be thrown open to cadets of Sandhurst who should pass the requisite examinations.


, in seconding the Motion, said, he considered it most desirable to extend to the services the boon now asked for. At present a great deal was said about the policy of raising men from the ranks, and making them officers; but if they should have the misfortune to fall in the service, how was it likely that sufficient means should be provided for the education of their children? He trusted the Government would take the matter into consideration, and deal with it in a liberal spirit, and if they did so they would receive the thanks of the profession, and deserve the gratitude of the country.


said, that there was an irregularity in the Resolutions, which prevented him from putting them to the House. No charge on the revenue could be voted except in Committee of the whole House, and therefore he was precluded from putting the Resolutions.


said, that under those circumstances he would withdraw the Resolutions.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

The House adjourned at five Minutes after Five o'clock.