HC Deb 03 July 1856 vol 143 cc268-9

said, he would beg to ask the hon. Under Secretary for War if it was the intention of the Government to continue the present charge of £125 a year for the education of the sons of civilians at the Royal Military College, when, as appeared by the Supplementary Army Estimate, the total cost of a cadet did not exceed £75 a year. The Military College was constituted under a Royal Warrant which specially provided a gratuitous education for orphans of the officers of the army, and education at about half cost for sons of officers on service, whilst a third-rate was provided for the sons of civilians, nobility, and gentry, who were to pay such a sum for the expenses of their education, board, and clothing, as should be from time to time determined by a Board of Commissioners acting under that warrant. Before the Committee which sat last year, it was stated in evidence that the Commissioners who had power to modify the rate of educational charges had no power to set aside the provisions of the warrant in the above respect. The warrant had been strictly adhered to during the war, in the course of which there had been educated 156 orphan sons of officers, 100 sons of officers, and 156 sons of civilians receiving their education at the expense of their parents. Under this system the college had prospered, and had sent out many young men who had distinguished themselves. But since peace had been established, the Commissioners, disregarding the warrant under which they were acting, thought fit nearly to double the sum for the sons of civilians, by charging them £125 a year, or, in many cases, with extras, a sum nearly amounting to £150 a year. The price for the sons of officers had been raised by degrees to £80, and the orphans of officers had to pay, first £20, then £30, and afterwards £40 a year. The excuse for this was, that it was desirable to make the school self-supporting; but the result was that the surplus, amounting to more than £7,000 a year, was misapplied, contrary to the spirit of the Royal Warrant under which the school had been founded, in the first place to the payment of nearly £2,000 a year in money and advantages to a governor, a general officer, who had no influence whatever upon the education of the pupils; in the second place, to the expenditure of £5,300 a year upon the education of senior officers who had been in the army, to fit them for the staff, to which probably they might never be appointed. That, with a balance on four years of £5,000, or nearly £1,300 a year, made a sum of £8,000 or £9,000 a year—about one-half the cost of the whole establishment, which came out of the pockets of the civilians who sent their sons to the school to qualify them for the army. The result was, that the great bulk of the officers of the line were deprived of the advantages of a preliminary military education; the increased cost at this school, £150 a year, being beyond the means of their parents. He therefore wished to call the attention of the Government to the subject, and hoped it would be considered with a view to its amendment. He would also observe, that it would be very convenient if the holidays at the Military College could be made in some degree coincident with those at the public schools, in order that brothers who might happen to be at both might have opportunities of meeting.