HC Deb 17 July 1868 vol 193 cc1367-8

Resolution [July 16] reported.


said, in consequence of a promise which had been made by the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury on Wednesday that if hon. Members having Notices to move in Supply would allow Supply to be then taken they would be afforded an opportunity of moving their Notices on the Report, he rose to call attention to a Return relative to Staff appointments ordered last year and presented in June, from which it appeared that the Royal Warrant (No. 106) restricting the holding a Staff appointment to five years had been frequently violated. He regretted the absence of the Secretary of State for War; but as the present was his last op- portunity, and as his Motion created much interest in military circles, he would, without mentioning names or entering into detail, very shortly occupy the attention of the House on the subject. It was an old saying—"Once on the Staff always on the Staff;" but it had appeared right to Her Majesty that this system should cease, and hence the Warrant to which he called attention. Staff appointments in the army were always regarded as the rewards of the military profession in the same sense that judicial appointments were recognized as the rewards of the Bar. But the Return which had been made to the House, and which no doubt all interested in that subject had read, showed that a very different course had been adopted, and that those appointments had gone in a "vicious circle" among a few favoured officers. A quarter master general, or a deputy assistant adjutant general, as the case might be, when his five years had expired, was, in distinct violation of the Warrant, shifted to a corresponding position in some other department. This naturally excited great discontent among military men—discontent which he (Sir Patrick O'Brien) had frequently heard expressed—as many officers had been continuously on the Staff for periods varying from ten to fifteen years. Now, it might be said that Staff training was essential, and that those who had served upon it were best fitted for new appointments. If so, let the Warrant be abolished; but he held that as long as Her Majesty's Warrant existed it was the duty of the military authorities to respect it. His observations had reference to what would be done in the future, and it was in that view he had made his statement.


said, that the hon. Baronet had very courteously, the other evening, not pressed his Notice, in consequence of which the Public Business had been very much convenienced and advanced. He was therefore sorry that his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War was not present to give him the explanation he desired. But his disappointment had arisen from some little inadvertence of his own, not having put a Notice on the Paper that he intended to ask the Question on the Report of Supply. After the short and clear statement now made the hon. Baronet would have no difficulty in eliciting at an early opportunity from his right hon. Friend the information he desired.

Resolution agreed to.