HC Deb 31 May 1861 vol 163 cc427-8

said, before the Motion was put, he wished to take that opportunity of putting a question, in reference to a subject which had excited much public attention of late—namely, the appointment of colonels of regiments. He wished to avoid instancing particular cases or mentioning particular names, but if promotion by selection was to be the system, it ought to be done on the grounds only of the service rendered by the individual appointed. He could not conceive a greater responsibility than the appointment of naval and military officers, and on the question of colonels great dissatisfaction had been created. It was a question that ought, perhaps, it would be said, to be raised by persons in the service, but it was difficult for a professional man to come before the public and make statements on a subject of this kind. He would not refer to any particular case, but would ask the hon. Under Secretary for War, What was the principle upon which these appointments were made, and why, in the last appointment that had taken place, the services rendered by several officers had apparently been overlooked by the authorities at the Horse Guards?


said, the Government had had no notice of the question, but he would endeavour to answer it. It would have been far more satisfactory if the hon. Gentleman had mentioned the name of the Gentleman to whose appointment he referred. [Mr. CONINGHAM: General Eden.] He thought that even without notice he could satisfy the House that the observations made in respect of this Gentleman were not justified by facts. It had, he be- lieved, been said that General Eden was a guardsman, that he had seen no foreign service, and that he had been appointed out of due order. These statements were incorrect. General Eden rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Line. He had served in the West Indies in command of his regiment, and so far from being appointed out of his turn, he had been several times passed over as colonel by officers who were his juniors, but who had the good fortune of seeing more service than he had. That appointment was, therefore, perfectly justifiable. The appointments to the colonelcies of regiments were made upon the recommendation of the Commander-in-Chief. It was assumed that officers of good service, although they might not have seen distinguished service, should not be passed over, but that officers of very distinguished service should be selected for these appointments before officers who had not the same opportunities for distinguishing themselves. It would be found that in recommending officers for these appointments, His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief had acted with strict justice to the profession—neither in that nor in any other case could just ground for complaint be shown. On the contrary, he believed that the opinion of the service was that the appointment of General Eden had been made with strict justice and impartiality.