HC Deb 13 July 1876 vol 230 cc1391-2

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, Whether a Circular has been addressed to about 700 qualified candidates for the Army Entrance Examination now in progress, inviting them to exchange their chance of success in that examination for a Commission in the Royal Marine Light Infantry; whether the inducements to volunteer for the Marines held out by this Circular are—an immediate appointment, exemption from any probationary course of study, and the postponement of the obligation to pass the Special Army Examination until promotion to the rank of Captain, a period of more than twenty years; how many of the Candidates for Commissions in the Army have accepted this offer; and, whether the expedient has been prompted by the difficulty of obtaining Officers for the Royal Marines?


The hon. and learned Member for Chatham is quite mistaken so far as the first part of his Question is concerned, as no such Circular has been issued by the Admiralty. But they have notified that they offer a certain number of Marine Infantry commissions, in order of merit, to candidates who having been successful in the competition for the announced number of Army vacancies, prefer a commission in the Marines to one in the Line, or who, not having been so successful, are nevertheless, in the opinion of the Civil Service Commissioners, fully qualified for commissions in the Army. The inducement of an immediate appointment and exemption from any probationary course of study is equally held out to officers who are appointed to regiments in India and to West India regiments. Officers joining the Marine Infantry are, however afterwards required to go through what is termed "a garrison course" of study and instruction, and the usual examinations before promotion to the rank of captain. The number of candidates for commissions in the Army who have accepted the offer cannot be ascertained until after the examination is over. At the Army examination last January, when the same course was adapted, 18candidates stated their preference for the Marines over the Line. Of these, four passed with a sufficient number of marks to have received an Army commission, but two, being over age for the Marines, were not appointed. Fifteen commissions were given altogether to candidates obtained in this way. The present arrangement has been adopted in place of the old system of nomination, as offering a wider and better field from which officers may be obtained, the abolition of Purchase in the Army having diminished the number of applicants for Marine commissions.