HC Deb 22 May 1865 vol 179 cc639-40

said, he would beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for War, Whether inquiry has been made as to the fact of the authorities of the Royal Artillery having directed Roman Catholic recruits not to be taken for that branch of the service; whether he will state by whom such orders were given, and what steps have been since taken to prevent subordinate authorities, not responsible to Parliament, from issuing or acting upon such orders in future; and whether general orders will be published to all Officers engaged in recruiting for the Army, to make no distinction of religion in taking recruits for any branch of Her Majesty's service.


, in reply, said, he was glad that the hon. Gentleman had asked him this question, as it would give him the opportunity of making an explanation which he believed would be satisfactory. Inquiries had been made into the circumstances which the hon. Gentleman, in the course of the discussion on the Army Estimates, had brought before the House, and with regard to Colonel Fitzgerald, who was the recruiting officer when Lord Donoughmore's regiment volunteered to the Artillery, he was away in Canada, and Colonel Crawford, under whose immediate authority he had acted, was dead. It appeared, however, from the correspondence in the Adjutant General's Office, that no order of any such description was given to the knowledge of any of the Officers concerned, as to the religious persuasion of the recruits who were to be enrolled. Moreover, from the list of those who volunteered from Lord Donoughmore's regiment to the Artillery and other corps, it appeared that out of ninety-seven, fifty-eight were actually Roman Catholics. In addition to that, the correspondence between Colonel Fitzgerald and the Adjutant General in the previous year showed that his instructions on this point were particularly precise, and that he was then officially directed that no distinction whatever as to religion should prevail with respect to the recruits. If the hon. Gentleman would move for the papers on this subject, they would be found to bear out the statements he (the Marquess of Hartington) had just made.