HC Deb 06 July 1855 vol 139 cc531-3

I wish to take this opportunity of directing the attention of the noble Lord at the head of the Government to a grievance of which I believe the officers now serving in the Crimea have just reason to complain. It is that those who are now pouring out their blood and sacrificing their lives to maintain the honour and glory of the country are also called upon to sacrifice their pay, and are compelled, in the shape of income-tax, to contribute to the expenses of the war, It is very well for us who are at home to contribute to those expenses; but those who are suffering all the evils that such a war of necessity entails, are, I think, entitled to our consideration, because I look upon it as a positive injustice to subject them to a pecuniary loss. This tax falls with peculiar severity upon a deserving class of young officers who, having no private fortune, enter the army really as a profession; and it is the more unjust to them, since officers who embark for India are relieved from the payment of the tax. Officers in India, moreover, receive much higher pay than others. I will call the attention of the House to the case of two regiments, the 10th Hussars and the 14th Light Dragoons, which have just been sent from India to the Crimea. The moment that those regiments land in the Crimea the officers will lose half their pay, and they will be subjected to income-tax upon the remainder. That is not a way in which we should reward officers who are engaged in a most difficult service, from which, perhaps, more than half of them may never return.


May I also ask the noble Lord a question about the shilling a day which is stated to have been promised in another place to the soldiers in the Crimea? I understand that there has been some mistake upon the subject. Will the noble Lord therefore explain what extra pay is to be given to the soldier, and whether it is also to be allowed to those who have returned from the Crimea, and who have been in all the battles?


In reply to the question of the hon. Member for Inverness-shire, I have to say that the income tax, as it is well known, is by law imposed upon all payments made to public servants, and, therefore, it applies by law to all officers, whether serving at home or abroad, subject to those variations only which depend on the amount of their incomes, whether above or under 100l. It is true, as the hon. Gentleman stated, that the officers of the British regiments serving in the East Indies do not pay the income tax; but the reason, as he must know, is, that those regiments are not paid by the Government; they are transferred to the service of the East India Company, and are paid out of the revenues of that company, and, of course, the Act imposing the income tax does not apply to their salaries. But those officers who are on leave, or on service at home, receiving their pay from the Government, to be reimbursed by the East India Company, are subject to the tax. With respect to the ground on which the hon. Member thinks that officers serving in the Crimea ought to be exempted, I would remind him that officers upon active service have a daily allowance, called field allowance, in addition to their pay, which is more than they would gain by the remission of the income tax. That brings me to the question put by the hon. Member (Mr. Knox) who wished to know what has been done in pursuance of the announcement made by Lord Panmure in another place. The arrangement intended is this—officers on service now receive a daily allowance, under the denomination of field allowance, to meet the additional expenses of the campaign. It is proposed to extend to the private an allowance of the same kind, and that allowance will be an allowance of 6d. a day, which will be accounted for to the man in the same manner as his pay, with an arrangement which will give him the same means of transmitting any portion of his pay and allowance which he may please to his friends and family at home. He will, therefore, be placed on the same footing as the navy is placed with regard to the facilities of homo transmission. That field allowance will give him the means of obtaining those comforts which are requisite in the position in which he is placed; and on the other hand he will be enabled to make more easy remittances to his friends while he is employed abroad.


, in reference to the statement of the noble Lord the Minister for War in the other House, that the soldiers in the Crimea were to have double pay from the time they landed there, said that considerable misconception existed on the subject, and he was glad to hear it stated that the increase of pay was to be given in the shape of field allowances. He did not think the object of increasing the number of men in the army would be attained if the additional pay were given only to regiments serving in the Crimea. Every man would be wanting to serve in the Crimea, and, as that was impossible, it would be a great hardship upon regiments serving in India, America, or the West Indies, for them to receive only 1s. while other regiments were receiving 2s. or 1s. 6d. a day. He thought the plan of field allowances infinitely better, and he trusted the Government would take into consideration the granting of those allowances from the time the men first landed in the Crimea. He also submitted that the deductions for income-tax from the pay of officers could be surrendered without danger to the revenue, while it would give great satisfaction to the officers of the army, and benefit them very materially.