§ MR. WHALLEY moved an Address for a Catalogue of the Books that are at present placed in the Libraries and Reading Rooms to each Troop, Battery, or Company in the British Establishment, and for which an annual sum is sought by Vote 15 of Army Estimates, page 60. The War Office, he believed, objected to the Motion, because these libraries at present were in the hands of the colonels of regiments, and the Department did not think the matter sufficiently important to interfere. It was certainly a question how far the education of soldiers ought to be left entirely to commanding officers. Books were introdued into these libraries which, if known, would not be permitted by the War Office. He refrained from going into details, but lie might mention one instance. He had himself read a history of England published originally under the sanction of the Committee of Privy Council on Education which was a complete travestie of all the ordinary accepted facts in our history, which represented, for instance, the massacre of St. Bartholomew as originally planned by the Protestants for the massacre of the Roman Catholics, and that book was admitted into regimental libraries. There was another book called Red, White, and Blue, which was calculated to make soldiers discontented with their position, and the whole scope of which was to exalt the Roman Catholic religion. It was of great importance that the War Office should take some cognizance of this matter. The books which soldiers and sailors read were calculated to exercise considerable influence on their minds. Dibdin's works had been circulated among our sailors at the public expense, and he thought it was quite fitting that this subject should be brought to the attention of the War Office, and that inquiry should be made what books were placed in the hands of the Roman Catholic soldiers.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, that She will be graciously pleased to give directions that there be laid before this House, a Copy of the Catalogue of the Books that are at present placed in the Libraries and Reading Rooms to each Troop, Battery, or Company in the British Establishment, and for which an annual sum is sought by Vote 15 of Army Estimates, page 60."—(Mr. Whalley.)
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
said, the explanation which he had given 48 to the hon. Member when he spoke to him on the subject was not, he found, entirely correct. The practice formerly was that books provided for the libraries of regiments were supplied directly either from the War Office or the Horse Guards. At present the practice was that, instead of books being supplied from London, an allowance was voted annually by the House, a certain sum per company, and regiments themselves provided in such manner as was thought fit the books required for the use of the library. The management of these libraries was in the bands of the committee of officers and non-commissioned officers, and no books were allowed to be added to the library except with the permission of the commanding officer, who was always obliged to mention in his quarterly Report what books or periodicals had been added to the library, and these Reports were submitted to the Council on Military Education. He considered these precautions quite sufficient guarantee against the introduction of any book of improper character or irreligious tendency into these libraries. The books of which the libraries at their foundation were composed were originally issued either by the War Office or the Horse Guards, and they had been added too with the approval of the Council on Education. He did not think it necessary that the subject should be further inquired into. There was another reason why he was unwilling to give the Returns now asked. The books in these regimental libraries were extremely numerous, and if a catalogue were had from every regiment the Return would be found so voluminous that no one would be disposed to bestow on it any time or trouble. Under these circumstances, he hoped the hon. Member would not press his Motion.
§ Question put, and negatived.