HC Deb 06 August 1872 vol 213 cc555-6

With reference to the Question put to me on the 17th June by my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. J. Lowther) touching some complaints which were preferred by three regiments of Militia then encamped for their annual training on Brackenber Moor, near Abbleby, I have to state that I have received the Report of the Court of Inquiry appointed to investigate the circumstances of the ease, and regret to learn from it that the complaints to which the hon. Gentleman has drawn attention are, to a certain extent, founded on fact. Owing, it appears, to the almost continuous rain, to the partial failure of contractors, as well as to the difficulty of supplying deficiencies by local purchases, the regiments in question were for some days after their arrival exposed to more inconvenience than usually attends troops under canvas, and various breaches of discipline unfortunately occurred. After carefully weighing the evidence taken by the Court, I cannot but consider that the Control officer in charge failed on some occasions to exert himself sufficiently to meet emergencies as they arose, and I have consequently ordered a reprimand to be conveyed to him. It is, at the same time, but fair to this officer that I should state that on the only occasion on which supplies were deficient—namely, on the day on which the South Durham Militia marched into camp, not only was no requisition for rations sent to him by the regiment, but he was unable to elicit from the adjutant, to whom, in default of the quartermaster he addressed himself, a satisfactory reply to his verbal inquiries whether the regiment had been already rationed for the day at headquarters, or whether they would require rations in camp. Further inquiries on this subject will be instituted by the Inspector General of Auxiliary Forces. The main cause, however, both of the breaches of discipline and of the Control difficulties was, in the opinion of the Court, the want of brigade organization, and orders have consequently been given that whenever camps of this nature are formed in future care shall be taken to place a brigadier in command.


asked the right hon. and gallant Gentleman whether he had heard of great disorder having again occurred in that place in another regiment of Militia, and whether the matter was being inquired into by the military authorities?


said, his Question had reference to two Cumberland and Westmoreland regiments; whereas the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's reply referred to breaches, of discipline which occurred, not in those regiments, but in the regiment mentioned in the Question put by the hon. Member for Kendal (Mr. Whitwell).


My answer was made more with reference to the South Durham regiment than to the others. In reply to the Question of the hon. Member for Kendal, which refers to another regiment—the North Durham—in the same camp, I have to state that my attention has been drawn to certain reports which have appeared in the newspapers, and that I have ordered inquiry to be made into the correctness of those reports.