HC Deb 10 July 1879 vol 248 cc20-1

asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether Her Majesty's Government will direct the Departmental Committee of Officers, at present investigating the system of enlistment in the regular Arm)', also to investigate the system of enlistment, discipline, and efficiency of the Militia, in order to ascertain if some check cannot be placed on the desertion, fraudulent enlistment, and absence without leave, which exhibit in the last two years respectively 10,000 men in a state of desertion and 10 commissioned officers, 40 non-commissioned officers, and 15,000 private soldiers absent without leave; and, if not, what steps, if any, are under consideration to remedy this state of things; and, whether the Committee will be empowered to consider and report on the relations at present existing between the regular Army and the Militia, with a view of making the latter force a more certain and efficient reserve in times of emergency?


The primary object of the Departmental Committee of Officers is to investigate the system of enlistment in the Regular Army in connection with other measures which are subsidiary thereto. The second part of the Question is, undoubtedly, under reference to the Committee; but the general question of the enlistment and discipline of the Militia do not hold to be necessarily a part of that inquiry. Some of the officers who sit upon the Committee have come home on temporary leave from foreign stations, and it will be desirable that the Departmental Committee should conclude its inquiry within a reasonable time. As regards the question of the Militia, that, of course, has not ceased to occupy our attention but am not able to say that it would be a distinct or separate subject to be referred to the Committee. Any steps to be taken to remedy the state of things with regard to desertion must follow the Report of the Committee, as that Report must materially affect the circumstances under which the Militia was enlisted.