HC Deb 19 March 1872 vol 210 cc247-8

With your permission, Sir, I will make a personal explanation to the House in reference to the remarks of my right hon. Friend the Member for Droitwich (Sir John Pakington) on the subject of the late promotion of three officers in regiments of light cavalry. I should have made the explanation yesterday evening had I been in my place when this matter was alluded to by the right hon. Gentleman. I am responsible for the statement made by my right hon. Friend on that occasion, and I was led to place the statement in his hands under the following circumstances:—On Saturday week Lieutenant Heaviside, a personal friend of my own, came to me to complain that he had been promoted out of his regiment without his knowledge and against his consent; and he stated that a friend of his, Lieutenant Bushman, of the 7th Hussars, had been promoted under similar circumstances. He also added that the first intimation which he and the colonel of his regiment had of his promotion came from The Times newspaper at the mess breakfast table, and that his colonel and he were both in the utmost perplexity with regard to this proceeding. Considering the promotions made under such circumstances were a breach of the understanding come to last year, I asked Lieutenant Heaviside whether I had his permission to make the facts known in the House; but so anxious was I not to make any erroneous statement, or to bring any unfounded charge against the Secretary of State for War, that I asked my friend to return the next day to substantiate his statement. This he did; and again he gave me authority to make the statement. For certain reasons I felt disinclined to speak on the Army Estimates, and I therefore communicated the statements to my right hon. Friend (Sir John Pakington), who repeated them to the House. I have since received from Lieutenant Heaviside a letter, in which he states that, on reconsideration, and under the salutary influence of home advice, he is no longer adverse to his promotion, and I have reason to believe that the other officers whose cases I mentioned to my right hon. Friend do not now feel any dissatisfaction with their promotion. I am, therefore, sorry that, under circumstances which still seem to me involved in a certain amount of perplexity, I have led my right hon. Friend to place untrustworthy statements before the House, and I wish to state that if anyone in this House is to blame in the matter it is I, and not my right hon. Friend.