HC Deb 18 March 1870 vol 200 cc204-5

said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for War, Whether it is not his intention to give to soldiers who enlist upon the conditions of the new scheme for recruiting the Army, the option of re-engaging, by successive periods or otherwise, up to the twelve years of their engagement, provided their characters and health are good; whether, if at the expiration of that period with the standards (provided their characters and health as soldiers are still good), they will not have the option of re-engaging for nine years more, according to the existing system—(which he understood was not to be abolished)—for the purpose of making the Army their profession, if they choose, of completing their twenty-one years, and with the view of receiving their pension on discharge; whether the Commanding Officer's veto upon a soldier's application to re-engage is to be discretionary, or whether it will not be confined to the question of his character and health; and, whether those soldiers who may have become non-commissioned officers in their regiments, and who have passed into the first Army Reserve, will be permitted to retain their rank; and, if not, from what source will the non-commissioned officers of the first Army Reserve be drawn for training purposes?


Sir, it is proposed that the engagement shall be for twelve years, of which a fixed number in each case will be with the standards and the remainder in the Reserve. If, when the short service is coming to an end, the soldier is willing to re-engage, and Her Majesty's Government are willing to accept his services, he may re-engage for nine years, making in all twenty-one years. It will be a reciprocal choice on the part of the authorities and the soldier, and not an option on the part of the soldier alone. It is proposed to have only a certain proportion of long-service men in the Army. The object of training these men is to incorporate them, when an emergency arises, into battalions already existing. The time for determining what non-commissioned officers will be required for purposes of training will arrive when the force has acquired consistency and number, and the arrangements will probably be similar to those which are now in force for the Pensioners.