§ LORD ELCHO,
on rising to put Questions to the Secretary for War relating to the case of the late Sub-Lieutenant Tribe, said, that when he brought the case forward last Session he was in hopes that he would not have to trouble the House again upon the subject, and it was with extreme reluctance that he now felt compelled to refer to it. When he spoke of reluctance, it was just possible, if the Chancellor of the Exchequer were in his place, the right hon. Gentleman might not believe him when he said so, because last Monday, when he alluded to a grievance affecting an interesting class which it was desirable to bring forward on some suitable occasion, and when he urged the House to consider whether it was wise to take away the old privileges of the House of bringing forward grievances on the Order for going into Committee of Supply, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that he (Lord Elcho) and those who opposed his Resolutions were simply actuated by a wish to speak in that House and to bring themselves prominently forward. Certainly, the right hon. Gentleman had had a good opportunity of forming an estimate of his character some years ago, when they were both inhabitants of the Cave; but possibly the Chancellor of the Exchequer was no more correct in the estimate he formed of the character of his friends than he had shown himself to be in framing a Budget, and perhaps therefore the House would give him (Lord Elcho) the benefit of the doubt. For the information of those hon. Members who were present, and who were, perhaps, not aware of all the circumstances of the case, he would say a few words upon the main points. On that occasion he showed that there was nothing in the question whether Mr. Tribe was what was called a "Cardwell's man," or had gained his commission without purchase. The serious question was that this officer had 491 been placed under arrest by his commanding officer on a distinct charge of falsehood, and that a Court of Inquiry, consisting of very distinguished officers —Infantry as well as Cavalry—and presided over by General Lysons, was ordered to investigate the case. This Court went fully into the evidence, and, he believed, intended to report; but a telegram came from the Adjutant General desiring them not to report, and they obeyed. The next step was a Memorandum from the Adjutant General upon the evidence laid before the Field Marshal Commanding-in-Chief. The effect of this Memorandum was that if Mr. Tribe elected to remain in the Army, he must remain in the 9th Lancers, although his conduct in some respects was not such as had been characteristic of the British officer, and there was an addition to the effect that if he remained he was to be treated with cordiality. The result was that as this sub-lieutenant had not been relieved by the Court of the charge of falsehood, the officers declined to associate with him. He complained, and the next step in this strange story was that the Adjutant General went down to Aldershot officially, and told the officers of the regiment that the Secretary of State insisted upon obedience to the order of the Field Marshal Commanding-in-Chief; that any officer who did not obey would be removed from the regiment. After consideration the Adjutant General requested the colonel, on behalf of the regiment, to write a letter to him, stating the course which the officers intended to pursue. When he mentioned the case last year ho was not aware of the exact nature of their reply, but he expressed his confidence that it could be none other than English gentlemen would give—namely, that as long as an officer in the regiment was unexonerated of charges of falsehood made against him by the commanding officer they must decline respectfully to associate with him socially, though they would, of course, do what was necessary in matters of discipline and duty. He had reason to believe that this was the actual tenor of the answer to the request made by the Adjutant General. To that letter the officers received no reply, and no further steps were taken with regard to it. He was told, however, that when the letter of the officers was received at the War Office, a committee met, com- 492 posed of the Secretary of State, the Field Marshal Commanding-in-Chief, and other Generals. Amongst them was his right hon. Friend the Surveyor General of the Ordnance (Sir Henry Storks), who was strongly in favour of dissolving the regiment, pretty much as he would have dissolved a recalcitrant Parliament in Corfu, under his administration of the Ionian Islands. He said his right hon. Friend was in favour of dissolving the regiment, for he recommended that the threat of removing every officer from the regiment should be carried into execution; and that was much like dissolving the regiment. He hoped he was wrong in this statement; but so he was told, and he alluded to the point because, if he were right, it had an important bearing upon another branch of military administration, because it showed that his right hon. Friend, who had nothing to do with questions of discipline, and was not responsible for them, but simply happened to be a General in Her Majesty's Service, was nevertheless called on to advise the Secretary of State and the Field Marshal Commanding-in-Chief on these matters. Such a fact showed that there was something wrong in the administration of the War Office, and it was not desirable that a General Officer should be Surveyor General if he was to be called in to give advice on matters with which he had no official connection whatever. The Committee, however, came to the conclusion that no steps could be taken, and that an order forcing English officers and gentlemen by official authority to associate with another officer who had not cleared himself from a charge of falsehood was an improper and impossible order. The matter was, therefore, allowed to drop, and the regiment heard nothing more of it. The next stage in Mr. Tribe's career was that on the transfer of the head-quarters of the regiment to Woolwich, he absented himself three times without leave from stable duty. On the first two occasions he was reprimanded. On the third occasion he was taken before the Commandant, Sir David Wood, and was reprimanded by him; and he (Lord Elcho) mentioned last Session that on the very day he was bringing this matter before the House he received a telegram stating that Mr. Tribe was again under arrest upon the old charge 493 of falsehood. He had now traced this history ab ovo down to the point when the question came before the House last year. The Secretary of State appealed to him not to bring it forward, as a Court of Inquiry was then sitting upon the case. The character of a most distinguished regiment, however, being at stake, he thought it his duty to persevere. He came now to the Court of Inquiry to which the Secretary of State had referred. That Court was appointed to inquire into complaints made by Mr. Tribe against the officers for not associating with him. Instead of this case of arrest for falsehood being dealt with in the ordinary way, the Quartermaster General was sent down to inquire into complaints made by Mr. Tribe against the officers; and in August Mr. Tribe, being summoned to the War Office, was taken there under arrest. The Adjutant General then informed him that his complaints had fallen through, and, by order of the Commander-in-Chief, severely reprimanded him, but then released him from arrest without alluding to the charges of falsehood, and directed him to return to his duty, stating that his conduct might still render necessary some further inquiry or be the subject of further proceedings. Why did the Adjutant General release this officer from arrest? The Court of Inquiry was appointed on the 19th of July, and on the 20th this officer was put under arrest by his colonel on charges of falsehood. It was to these charges that the telegram he had read in the House last year referred. They were forwarded to the Horse Guards by the General in command at Woolwich, Sir David Wood, for trial by a general Court Martial, as, in his opinion, the evidence was such as would insure conviction. But notwithstanding this, the Adjutant General, on reporting the result of the inquiry into matters which had nothing to do with these charges, released Mr. Tribe from arrest. Having been released from arrest, the next stage of the eventful story was that, Mr. Tribe was sent to the dep6t of his regiment at York, and while there obtained three days leave to go to Doncaster. The Doncaster Races took place on the 9th of August, and on the 16th he was seen to leave the barrack yard at 5.30 p.m. with a little black bag in his hand. From that day to this the regiment had seen nothing of him; but 494 soon after his flight it was discovered that he had left a considerable number of debts behind him. He was indebted to the regimental master tailor and the regimental master shoemaker; he had borrowed £11 from a sergeant in the regiment, and. he had forgotten to pay his regimental servant's wages; several of his cheques were returned dishonoured, one of which had been paid by him to the mess sergeant, and another for £25 to a hotelkeeper at York. This cheque was drawn on Cox and Co., signed "L. Martin," and endorsed by Mr. Tribe; Cox and Co. returned it unpaid, as the only L. Martin who banked with them was an officer of the Lancers who had informed them it was not his signature. This cheque was submitted to Mr. Netherclift, the expert, who stated that, in his opinion, the whole of the cheque, including the signature, had been written by Mr. Tribe. It had been taken up by the officers of the regiment for the sake of the honour and credit of the regiment. This cheque, with the opinion of the expert as he was informed, was shown to the military authorities, yet no action was taken on the matter, and some time afterwards Mr. Tribe was gazetted out of the service "absent without leave." He had already stated he brought forward this question with reluctance; he had, however, been forced to do so through the acts of Mr. Tribe's friends. A pamphlet had been issued entitled The Tribe Scandal, of the existence of which he had no knowledge until a copy was forwarded to him. A letter signed "Civilian" had appeared in the newspapers on the subject, of which he had no knowledge until it was sent to him through the post; and a statement of the affair bad been published in some of the newspapers, respecting which a solicitor's letter had appeared, he believed, in The Morning Post, signed Wilkinson and Son. This writer said he hoped the reports would not be believed by the public, and urged them not to form an opinion on the question until all the facts had been made public, and invited Lord Elcho to apply at the earliest possible moment in Parliament for all the Papers connected with the case, including a letter from Dr. Tomkins, dated the 30th of December last, to the Commander-in-Chief, in which lie would find more than he expected or had been told of. After this distinct challenge it was 495 impossible for him to refrain from bringing forward the question, and as regarded the letter of Dr. Tomkins, if it were what he believed it to be, it would give him no information. The letter of Dr. Tomkins to the Commander-in-Chief made a most cruel assertion as regards the officers of the regiment—as cruel as it was unjust. Admitting that Mr. Tribe forged a cheque and left in debt, got into trouble, and absconded, Dr. Tomkins declared that he was not responsible for his actions, because he had been driven into a state of insanity by the persecutions of his brother officers. On receipt of this letter, the Field Marshal Commanding-in-Chief, or the Secretary of State, or probably the Surveyor General, sent to Cox's for information as to the state of his account, because the letter stated, among other things, that Mr. Tribe, at the time, had ample funds, and therefore had no inducement to forge a cheque or leave his debts unsatisfied. The answer returned was that bills of his had been repudiated before, and that he had no assets. If any of these statements were inaccurate he should be glad to hear them corrected, nothing would give him greater pleasure. He could not personally vouch for the truth of them, they had not come within his own knowledge, but the source whence he had obtained them induced him to believe they were true. He had avoided, as far as possible, commenting on the various points; but having stated what he believed to be the facts, he wished to put a few Questions to the Secretary for War. He asked, first, Whether the right hon. Gentleman would lay on the Table the Papers connected with the case? He did not suppose he would. They had refused him last year; and if presented they would not give a complete history of the case, for no Memorandum was issued of the censure passed on Mr. Tribe, or of the explanations given to the officers. The proceedings by the Adjutant General were conducted orally throughout. He would further ask his right hon. Friend whether the circumstances he had stated, and which he was told could be substantiated, were materially correct? He would likewise ask whether he could give any satisfactory explanation of the apparently strange way in which this matter had been dealt with by the authorities? He asked this in the hope and belief that some such 496 explanation might or could be given; for in the absence of it there was on the face of the case an appearance of weakness, vacillation, temporizing, and seeming partiality which tended to injure the public service by shaking the confidence of the officers of the Army in the fair and impartial administration of its discipline. He had no wish to bear hardly upon this poor man, but simply to support discipline. He admitted that matters of this nature should rarely and not rashly be brought before the House even under the new system, whereby power was centred in the Secretary of State, and the quasi fiction of the Prerogative of the Crown as to the special command of the Army had been weakened. It was, however, an answer given by the Secretary of State for War himself to the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Holms) that first brought this affair before the House, that answer being given in a way which conveyed an incorrect impression, and was hurtful as regarded the officers of the 9th Lancers. It was not only the right, but the duty of every hon. Member of the House, as the great inquest of the nation, to bring before it any question affecting the Army in which truth, justice, and discipline were at stake.
§ MR. CARDWELL
In whatever else I may differ from the noble Lord, I certainly shall not differ from him as to the right and duty of this House to inform itself upon the mode in which public duties are discharged; and it was in consequence of thinking that the House has a perfect right to know the result of any such proceedings that when my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney asked me the conclusion at which his Royal Highness the General Commanding-in-Chief had arrived in a matter of discipline that I felt it to be my bounden duty to answer the question in the manner I have done, because I thought the House of Commons would be satisfied with the announcement made, and would not wish to enter upon the discussion of such a subject. I abstained, therefore, from entering into any details or reasoning on the subject, which I was sure the House would deem to belong to the administrators of the Army—that is to say, his Royal Highness and the Adjutant General, and should not be entered into in this House. I gave that answer after consultation with his Royal Highness, 497 and I still maintain that an hon. Member putting a Question as to the result of an inquiry had a right to be told what the result had been. I am also prepared to maintain that it would not be a good example or consistent with principle or the discipline of the Army that I should go further and enter into details and arguments. This has been an unhappy case, and it has been so much dealt with by the noble Lord that I really wonder I have never been able distinctly to elicit what is the grievance which with such very great reluctance he has twice brought before the House. I presume it is that he supposes the discipline of the Army has in some way been taken, or sought to be taken, out of the hands of his Royal Highness by the Secretary of State. [Lord ELCHO: No.] If that is disavowed, I really do not know what the grievance is. The question has been handled from beginning to end by those responsible for the discipline of the Army. [Lord ELCHO: Hear, hear.] The noble Lord stated last year that he had no charge to prefer against his Royal Highness or against the Adjutant General, and that his only charge was against myself. [Lord ELCHO: No.] The noble Lord so stated, and I was present and answered the charge. If that was not the complaint I really do not know what it is. I proceed to give a narrative of what has actually occurred. In the first place there seems some sort of confusion about the mode in which Mr. Tribe entered the Army. The noble Lord apparently intended to suggest that I took sonic sort of interest in this young man because he came in under the new system. [Lord ELCHO: No, no; it was The Daily Telegraph.] Whoever said it, he no doubt came in under the new system, because he got his commission without purchase; but the way in which the new system applied to him was this—he came in. as a probationer, and would have been liable to have his commission taken from him unless he obtained the proper certificates of conduct the first year. He had been on the list of those already deemed entitled to commissions under the old system, and he came in on the terms of the new system. He went to Sandhurst under the new arrangements, and did not stay the whole of his time there, but left, as the distinguished governor of that Institution told me, without any charge having been 498 made against him. When the time came for him to join his regiment, instead of being allowed to join it, he was asked on behalf of the subaltern officers, in a letter which I hold in my hand and which has been widely circulated among all who hear me, whether he had any objection to being transferred to another regiment. There were circumstances respecting that letter which received the marked censure of his Royal Highness. Then there were complaints on both sides—complaints from his Commanding Officer and complaints on his part, and a Court of Inquiry was appointed to examine into them, and means were taken to make it effectual. Nothing, as the noble Lord says, could be better than the constitution of that Court, but ho says a telegram was sent down from the War Office ordering it not to deliver its judgment. Now, in words that is true, but in spirit it is not at all true. I am informed—and I am speaking in the presence of officers, and I have referred to the Queen's Regulations—that a Court of Inquiry does not report an opinion unless it is directed to report an opinion. This Court of Inquiry had not been directed to report; they telegraphed to the Adjutant General to know whether they were to report an opinion or not, and the answer was No, they were only to furnish information. Thereupon the information was laid before His Royal Highness, and was decided upon by him, with the assistance of the Adjutant General and the officers around him. This had been done several days before the proceedings came to my knowledge at all; and it was only when my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney put a question on the subject that it became my duty to inform myself about them. Accordingly, the laborious and very unpleasant task was laid on me of reading all these proceedings from beginning to end, and I could only give my opinion for what it was worth, that his Royal Highness and the Adjutant General could come to no other conclusion than that at which they had arrived. They gave their order accordingly, and the result I stated in answer to my hon. Friend. To say, therefore, that the Court had reported—
§ MR. CARDWELL
But the noble Lord said the officer had been charged 499 with falsehood, and had not been exonerated by those who sat in judgment upon the charge. I deny that altogether. The Court of Inquiry were not authorized to sit in judgment or to give their opinion, but those who did give it were his Royal Highness and the distinguished officers by whom he is surrounded. They sat in judgment upon the information with which the officers furnished them. They came to the conclusion that the charges had not been proved, and, coming to that conclusion, they communicated it to the regiment.
§ LORD ELCHO
asked whether he had been correct in stating that the Memorandum giving the opinion of his Royal Highness and the Adjutant General contained the words—"Although his conduct had in some respects not been such as had hitherto been characteristic of a British officer?"
§ MR. CARDWELL
No, it does not. The whole thing turns on the conclusion at which the Commander-in-Chief and the Adjutant General arrived. The noble Lord then says there were charges brought against this unfortunate man which the General Officer who commanded at Woolwich thought sufficient to justify a Court Martial, and he wished to know why the Adjutant General, while reprimanding Lieutenant Tribe, took no notice of these charges. I will tell the noble Lord why. Because these charges had been very carefully considered in the Adjutant General's Office, and the Adjutant General differed from the Commanding Officer at Woolwich, and did not consider that the facts were sufficient to substantiate the inquiry or to justify the Court Martial. The Adjutant General did not, therefore, use these charges in the way of reprehension or censure of the individual whose conduct had been impugned. The noble Lord then said that a document had been presented to the Commander-in-Chief making cruel charges against the officers of the regiment, and he asks me to tell him something of the contents of that document. I will tell him just this much—that the Commander-in-Chief did receive such a document, and that it called upon him to institute an inquiry, and threatened legal proceedings. He said—"If you 500 threaten legal proceedings you have no right to call upon me to institute an inquiry, nor is it fair to the gentlemen who are going to be submitted to a legal inquiry." The Commander-in-Chief, therefore, laid the document entirely aside, and having done so, I am not going to gratify the noble Lord's curiosity as to anything I may know about the contents of that document. What happened? The first complaint was inquired into by a Court of Inquiry, presided over by General Lysons. Those who were responsible to the Commander-in-Chief and the Adjutant General carefully considered with them the evidence taken before the Court of Inquiry, and they arrived at their own independent judgment. They communicated that decision to the regiment, and there that matter ended. There were further complaints upon the part of Mr. Tribe against the officers, which were investigated by Sir Thomas M'Mahon, and the result was communicated to all the parties concerned. Complaints were made from Woolwich relating to charges of falsehood. They were carefully considered by the Adjutant General, and as those charges could not be sustained, the Adjutant General declined to act upon them at all. Complaints were then made by the officers against Mr. Tribe, and investigated by the Quartermaster General and a Court of Inquiry, which went down from the Horse Guards. The result of that inquiry was also communicated to the officers of the regiment and to Lieutenant Tribe. The noble Lord was mistaken in saying that the Adjutant General told Lieutenant Tribe that his conduct might call for further investigation. What he actually said was that he was a probationer, and that he must not think that by the result of the Court of Inquiry his past conduct had been condoned, but that at the end of his period of probation all his conduct would be taken into consideration by the Commander-in-Chief, and that on its being approved or not would depend the conclusion at which the Commander-in-Chief would arrive. The noble Lord said that Lieutenant Tribe had issued dishonoured cheques, and that one of them was a forgery. [Lord ELCHO: Believed to be a forgery.] And then the noble Lord asks me whether that is true. I wonder that the noble Lord, who says that if I think so it is my duty to prosecute that 501 soldier, did not consider it more proper for me not to enter into the truth of those charges of which I have no evidence before me, particularly as they might hereafter become the subject of legal investigation. It is not my province to give the noble Lord any opinion as to the truth of those charges. I limit myself to saying that it is true that it has been reported to the military authorities that such was the opinion of the officers of the regiment. The noble Lord also wants to know whether any inquiry was made at Cox's. To my knowledge no such inquiry was made. I cannot tell the noble Lord everything I learn in the course of my duties. He seems to have some eavesdropper at the War Office who appears to know exactly what happened, because he seems to know not only who met to consider the question in the room where I discharge my duties, but some one under the table, or somebody else, knows exactly what the Surveyor General of the Ordnance said, and also what the Commander-in-Chief and I said. The noble Lord has no right to carry his curiosity so far, and he will derive no assistance from me. I have great difficulty in knowing what is the grievance with which I have to deal. Is it that I have taken this matter out of the hands of the military authorities with whom the primary duty of investigating it rested? If so, that is a total and entire hallucination on the part of the noble Lord. If any hon. Member puts a question to me, it is no doubt my duty fully to inform myself thoroughly of the case and to give an answer as to the result. Here was a young man who was on his Royal Highness's list, and who, having passed his examination, joined his regiment. He has since been the subject of these various inquiries, of which I have given the detail, as the House has appeared to desire. At every step the greatest attention has been paid to all these complaints by those who were responsible for the discipline of the Army. As it has been made a political question, or rather has been made the subject of so much discussion, I must say that I believe the military authorities have discharged their duty ably, faithfully, conscientiously, and with a desire to do justice. This young man has left the Army, and, under all the circumstances, I really think that this question has 502 occupied the time of the House much longer than it ought to have done.
§ MR. BARNETT
wished to say a few words on behalf of the officers of the 9th Lancers. He had been thrown on more than one occasion into their company, and as no mention had been made of the high character of the regiment, or of the officers by whom it was commanded, from a long acquaintance with the Colonel, he wished to say that a higher-minded, more courteous, and more kind-hearted man did not exist. He was not the man to oppress or act unfairly towards any individual placed under his command. In his (Mr. Barnett's) intercourse with the officers of the regiment he had heard the subject discussed over and over again, but never heard any unkind feeling expressed by them against this young man, except that he had not conducted himself in the manner in which gentlemen expected officers to conduct themselves. The Secretary of State was quite justified in saying that these matters had better be left in the hands of military authorities, and ho (Mr. Barnett) deprecated the practice of bringing them before the House of Commons. Although the question of truth had not been reported upon by the military authorities, it would be for the House and the public to consider whether there had not probably been some want of truth on the part of the young man who had quitted the Army under such circumstances. The House had to lament in this case the effect of letters which had appeared in the newspapers, the writers of which sometimes paid little attention to facts. The matter had now passed away, and the House would be glad to hear no more of the case of Lieutenant Tribe.
wished to say a few words in vindication of his noble Friend (Lord Elcho), whose motives had been misunderstood, and who did not desire to make a personal attack on the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State or on the Field Marshal the Commander-in-Chief, but to advocate the cause of the officers of the 9th Lancers. He believed that regiment had suffered a great deal from what had been said about it in the public press, and this circumstance had no doubt gone much to the heart of those officers who were now in the regiment, and of those who had left it. He therefore regretted that the right hon. 503 Gentleman the Secretary for State had not in his very long reply said a few words on behalf of the officers of the regiment. It seemed to him that errors of judgment had been committed, but, at the same time, he must confess he did not think a sufficient answer had been given to the statement made that evening by his noble Friend. There was a Memorandum which stated that if Mr. Tribe remained in the Army he must remain in the 9th Lancers, although it was said that in some respects his conduct had not been such as was characteristic of a British officer. Now, this was the whole gist of the question. Why were not some steps taken to get rid of a man whose conduct had been so described? for there was not the least doubt subsequent events proved the correctness of this Memorandum. In conclusion, the noble Lord expressed a hope that no such painful case as this might again be required to be brought forward in that House, and that hon. Members would hear of no more "errors of judgment" on the part of military authorities.
§ SIR HENRY STORKS
said, he shared the opinion of his right hon. Friend the Secretary for War when he stated to the noble Lord that he did not quite know what he was driving at—whether against the Secretary of State for interfering with the discipline of the Army, against the Commander-in-Chief for not arriving at a proper conclusion, against him (Sir Henry Storks), or against the 9th Lancers. The noble Lord seemed to aim especially at him (Sir Henry Storks) and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as he spoke of the happy days he passed in "the Cave" with his right hon. Friend. He agreed with his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State that there had been errors of judgment on all sides in this question. There was no doubt that this was a case which, in the first instance, ought to have been settled regimentally; and, if it had not been so settled, it ought to have been dealt with by the authority of the General Officer commanding on the spot. But, as it happened, it came up to his Royal Highness the Field Marshal Commanding-in-Chief to be settled, and he ordered a Court of Inquiry. In this place he wished to make some professional observations with reference to the remarks of the noble Lord. 504 The Court of Inquiry was ordered to assemble in the usual way to investigate all the circumstances connected with the case. The Queen's Regulations pointed out the course to be pursued, and in accordance with them the General Officer commanding at Aldershot caused a Court of Inquiry to assemble to take evidence and to report it in the customary way. No instructions to the contrary by telegram or otherwise were sent from the War Office to the President of the Court. The President of the Court subsequently applied to the Adjutant General to know if the Court was to give an opinion, and he was informed in reply that it was not. On the receipt of the proceedings of the Court, the Field Marshal Commanding-in-Chief settled the question by giving his decision, parts of which had been referred to by the hon. Member for Essex (Lord Eustace Cecil), though not the end of it, for the following expression of opinion was also given—His Royal Highness highly disapproves the letter written by Lieutenant Green to Lieutenant Tribe in the name of his brother officers, and would take serious notice of any repetition of similar conduct which might be brought under his notice.There the matter ought to have ended; but the noble Lord proceeded to quote the decision of the Commander-in-Chief that Lieutenant Tribe was to remain in the 9th Lancers. But it should be remembered that the Commanding Officer would be required, on the expiration of 12 months, to report whether Lieutenant Tribe were a fit officer in a military sense or not, and that, if not, he would have been removed from the service. Then the noble Lord complained that the Adjutant General went down to Aldershot, assembled all the officers together, and communicated to them further remarks made by the Commander-in-Chief. This, he maintained, was by no means an unusual proceeding, but a customary, a proper, and a reasonable one. Adverting to that part of the noble Lord's speech which referred especially to himself, he quoted a remark of a late hon. Member of that House that the noble Lord had a large swallow, but a very weak digestion. That evening the noble Lord had proved the truth of that remark. For his own part, he emphatically denied having made use of the expres- 505 sions attributed to him by the noble Lord, and that at the meeting at the War Office he was very earnest in expressing his opinion that he thought the 9th Regiment should be dissolved—he thought that was the word used. [Lord ELCHO: No, no!] At any rate, the noble Lord represented him as being responsible for the discipline of the Army, with which he in no way interfered. He held, however, that the Secretary of State had a perfect right to ask him his opinion on any subject connected with his (Sir Henry Storks) duties, or on any other military subject, if he thought that his opinion, after his long connection with the Army, would be of any benefit to him, and he intended on all occasions when asked to continue to give his opinion. But he distinctly disclaimed that he was in any way responsible for the discipline of the Army. As to the arrest of Sub-Lieutenant Tribe at Woolwich, the General Officer there was the mere channel for transmission of letters and papers, and it was no part of that officer's duty to decide whether Mr. Tribe should be brought before a Court Martial or not. When the papers came to the Commander-in-Chief it was considered from the précis of the evidence that the evidence would not support the charges, and when the Adjutant General went down to Woolwich of course he did not refer to these charges, or tell Mr. Tribe that the evidence submitted against him would not warrant the charges. He appealed to the House if anything could be more regular than that, and he was at a loss to see what other course the Commander-in-Chief could have pursued. Again, Mr. Tribe had been gazetted out of the Army in the usual way, for being absent without leave from his Commanding Officer, as he himself or any other officer would be if they were absent without leave. There had been no irregularity or anything to complain of in Mr. Tribe being gazetted out of the Army. As regards the remarks of the hon. Member for Woodstock (Mr. Barnett), he was quite sure it was neither the wish nor the intention of his right hon. Friend, nor of the Field Marshal Commanding-in-Chief, to say anything which was not most respectful, most praiseworthy and honourable to the officers of the 9th Lancers. There could be no officer in the Army who did not appreciate the 506 services, and gallantry, and general conduct and high position which that regiment had always rendered and borne in the Army. He was sure he only represented the feeling of those in authority, of those who knew the regiment, in the House and out of it, when he said that a more gallant and distinguished regiment did not exist. There had been errors in judgment, but there had been none on the part of the Commander-in-Chief, who had tried this case from beginning to end with a due regard to discipline, with a regard to impartial justice, and, at the same time, with that decision for which his Royal Highness was characterized. He hoped that what he Lad said of the officers of the 9th Lancers would be satisfactory to the hon. Member for Woodstock, and that the explanations he bad given in reference to the case generally would be considered sufficient.
§ MAJOR GAVIN,
having had the honour of serving with the 9th Lancers, said, he did not wish the debate to close without his saying a word for the regiment. He wished first to ask whether this was a question for the House of Commons to settle, and whether such a paltry and petty matter ought to be brought before it? If he were Commander-in-Chief he would not hold the office 10 minutes if the House of Commons attempted to interfere in such a matter. Respected as his Royal Highness was by every soldier and officer, surely his conduct in such a matter was not to be submitted to a House consisting mainly of civilians? The Officer Commanding the 9th Lancers had commanded it with vigour and with duo regard to its welfare. Looking, therefore, to the welfare of the officers and the regiment, the commander of the 9th Lancers was bound to get rid of a man who had acted as Mr. Tribe had done. Extreme measures were taken in this case, and one of the last was sending a letter to the Commanding Officer, desiring that he should make his officers associate and live with Mr. Tribe, and, as a gallant and honourable man, he wrote back to resign his Commission because he could not comply with the request. He could not allow the slightest slur to be cast on this gallant corps; and believing as he did that Mr. Tribe was a disgrace to the regiment, he thought that the sooner he was got rid of the better.
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, that the hon. and gallant Member who had just spoken was quite in error in supposing that the Commanding Officer of the regiment had written to resign his commission; that idea was quite unfounded. For himself, he begged to say nobody shared more fully than he did the feelings of respect that were entertained for the Commanding Officer and for the reputation of the 9th Lancers; and his right hon. Friend (Sir Henry Storks) desired him to say that if he was supposed to have thrown any slur upon that officer, or on the regiment, he certainly did not intend to do so.
§ Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.
§ SUPPLY—considered in Committee.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.