HC Deb 05 June 1874 vol 219 cc1059-60

asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether his attention has been called to a report in the "Times" newspaper, that, at a late Conservative banquet at Chelmsford, the Surveyor General of the Ordnance stated, speaking of the Army, that— The legacy left by the Liberal party was simply appalling, whether they looked at the recruiting, the brigade depôt centres, or the Reserves," and that "he was sure that his Right Honourable Friend at the head of the War Office would not countenance 'dummy' regiments or 'phantom' reserves, but would take care that if, unfortunately, the Army should be required to serve in the field, it should exist not on paper only, but in substantial reality; and, whether he concurs in the statements made by the noble Lord; and, if so, whether he will be good enough to state what measures he proposes to introduce in Parliament with a view of remedying such a state of things?


I might, perhaps, appeal to you, Sir, to know whether the hon. and gallant Member has made a proper use of the power to ask Questions in this House, by asking for my opinions upon words used by one of my Colleagues outside this House. My noble Friend by whom the words are said to have been used is in his place, and is in a position to answer for himself, and to vindicate the words he has used or may use on any occasion. With respect to what he is reported to have said about myself, I shall make no remarks; but in respect to the language he imputed to me, I can only say that it is practically a repetition of what I have myself spoken in this House—namely, that my duty and wish would be to have a real Army, so far as I could bring it about. With respect to the latter part of the Question of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, I can only say that when it is my intention to take the House into counsel, or to ask for its assistance upon any question, I shall do so after due Notice, and on an occasion when there may be a full discussion upon the question raised. I shall certainly not do this when an hon. Member thinks proper, in a manner which fills me with surprise, to call upon me for a statement at a time when there can be no discussion and no means of testing the accuracy of what I might say.