HC Deb 18 February 1862 vol 165 cc434-5

said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for War, What precautions have been taken to prevent the repetition of the numerous Murders of their Officers by Soldiers in the British Army; and whether it is in contemplation to discontinue the practice of permitting Soldiers to retain ball cartridge in their barrack rooms?


Sir, I have had under consideration the alternative contemplated by the second branch of the hon. Gentleman's question,—namely, the depriving of Soldiers in all cases of ball cartridges, with a view to prevent those very disastrous occurrences of which there have been several recent instances. On consulting with the military authorities, it appeared to me very doubtful whether it was possible to make any regulation on the subject which would be effectual, because in most regiments there is a system of frequent ball practice, and it is also necessary to serve out Cartridges to soldiers on guard, on escort duty, and on various other occasions of a similar nature. It would be easy for any ill-disposed person to secrete a single ball Cartridge, and it would be almost impossible buy any vigilance to make it certain that the exact number served out were returned into store. Under these circumstances, I shall not advise the Horse Guards to make any regulation on that subject. However, I have under consideration an alteration in the law by which, in the case of murders committed by private soldiers on their superior Officers, the trial and punishment will follow the offence more speedily than under the present procedure. I trust a Bill giving effect to this alteration will shortly be laid on the table of the House.