HC Deb 12 April 1869 vol 195 cc573-4

said, he wished to ask the Judge Advocate General, Whether his attention has been called to a paragraph in the Pall Mall Gazette of Saturday, March 20, in regard to marking Deserters from the Army with the letter D; if it be true, as therein stated, 1st, That since flogging in the Army was forbidden by the Legislature, a Memorandum was issued by the Horse Guards, Authorities "insisting that deserters and military offenders generally should be branded again and again, without regard to the first indelible mark;" 2ndly, That in consequence of this Memorandum the Judge Advocate General "has just issued a strongly-worded Memorandum or Letter to the Horse Guards, severely censuring the course pursued in cancelling an original order against this repeated branding, and forbidding this punishment to be turned into a system of torture;" 3rdly, That, "it is very doubtful whether the Horse Guards have not infringed the Law" in regard to the place selected for marking Deserters; whether he will lay upon the Table of the House a Copy of the Memorandum or Letter stated to have been issued by him to the Horse Guards; and, whether or not, the Authorities at the Horse Guards have acquiesced in the justice of this Memorandum or Letter without remonstrance; and, Lastly, If the statement in the paragraph referred to be incorrect, whether he can state what has occurred to give rise to so remarkable a statement?

SIR COLMAN O'LOGHLEN, in reply, stated, that his attention had not been called to, but, like the noble Lord himself, he had seen and read the paragraph in the Pall Mall Gazette.With respect to the statement in it, it was so far correct that he did feel it his duty to address a letter last month to the Adjutant General in relation to marking deserters a second and third time after they had already been indelibly branded. Some other statements in the paragraph, however, were not correct. It was not true so far as was aware that since Hogging was forbidden a Memorandum was issued by the Horse Guards, insisting that deserters and military offenders generally should be branded again and again; and it followed, of course, that it was not in consequence of any such Memorandum that he addressed his letter to the Adjutant General. He was not in a condition to give the contents of that letter to the House, nor was he in a condition to lay the Papers on the table of the House. A correspondence was now going on between the authorities at the Horse Guards and the authorities at the War Office, and it would not be advantageous to the public service that he should make any statement on the matter. The noble Lord also asked if he knew what had given rise to so remarkable a statement. He was sorry to be unable to give him any information upon that point. He was as unconnected with the Pall Mall Gazette or the writers in that journal as the noble Lord himself; and as far as he was aware the letter, or copy of the letter that he had written, had not been seen by anybody outside the official circle.