HC Deb 19 June 1873 vol 216 cc1165-7

asked the Surveyor General of Ordnance, Whether he has made further inquiry into the allegation that the Commanding Officer of a Cavalry Regiment had misappropriated the lodging allowance of the riding master, and for that purpose had falsified a War Office Return; whether the allegation was substantially true; whether, in order to exculpate other regiments, he is prepared to name the regiment in which this irregularity took place, and to explain what steps have been or will be taken by the authorities; and, whether the officer has been or will be shortly promoted to a high office?


Sir, assisted by the information which has been furnished to me by the hon. Gentleman, I have made further inquiry into the charge that has been preferred against a cavalry officer by calling on that officer for an explanation. The officer referred to is the late lieutenant-colonel of the 4th Dragoon Guards, now Major General Shute, and the transaction occurred so long ago as 1871. On calling on the Major General for an explanation that officer responded in the frankest manner. It appears that in 1871 the lieutenant-colonel of the 4th Dragoon Guards, having a number of recruits and young horses, thought it absolutely necessary for the good of the service that the riding-master should live in the barracks, and as that officer had a family he gave up his quarters to him, drawing when the barracks were not fully occupied the consolidated allowance of fuel and light himself. When the barracks were quite full the riding-master was placed on the lodging list, and the commanding officer, instead of drawing the consolidated allowance of fuel and light, received the lodging allowance of the riding-master, amounting to £7 12s. There has been no loss to the public by this transaction; but the commanding officer ought to have represented the circumstances of the case, and it would not have been at variance with precedent for permission to have been given to him to proceed as regards the quarters as he did on his own responsibility. It cannot, however, be denied that the Return which he signed was not in literal accordance with the circumstances as they actually occurred. Major General Shute excuses this on the ground that he did so through inadvertence, and without properly examining the Return and satisfying himself of its correctness; but he has been informed by the Field Marshal Commanding-in-Chief, that the Secretary of State cannot excuse the signature by an officer, for whatever reason, of a Return not true in fact, and His Royal Highness has been requested to convey to him an expression of the Secretary of State's displeasure on this account. With reference to the last portion of the hon. Gentleman's Question, I find on inquiry that Major General Shute has not been promoted to any other office, if office it can be called, than that of honorary colonel of Volunteers, and I do not know of his being promoted shortly to any high office. I do not, however, wish this answer to be interpreted as conveying the impression that this error is to be regarded as a disqualification to all future time for employment suitable to his rank.