HC Deb 08 July 1880 vol 253 c1906

asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether it is the intention of the Government to act on the Address of this House, during the Session of 1879, for the appointment of a Royal Commission on the grievances of the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers; and, if not, what steps have been or will be taken to inquire into those grievances?


In reply to my hon. and gallant Friend, I have to state that when I took Office I found that, although the preliminary steps had been taken for the appointment of the Royal Commission for which an Address was voted by this House on March 14, 1879, 14 months had elapsed since that Address, and the arrangements for the Commission had not been completed. I may say that no answer had been returned to the Address, which had been carried by a majority of only one. Under these circumstances, I looked very carefully into the questions raised in the debate and in the Address itself; and I have found that most of them were such as could be better dealt with by a Departmental Committee than by the more cumbrous machinery of a Royal Commission; but that the most important question—that is to say, the circumstances under which Artillery and Engineer officers might be selected for commands or appointments on the General Staff—was a matter not so much for a Royal Commission or a Committee as for the Secretary of State on his responsibility. A Memorandum has been accordingly signed by His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief and approved by me in the following terms— All appointments of general officers to districts at home or abroad, and all Army Staff appointments, will be equally open to officers of the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers and to officers of all other branches of the Service. The Departmental Committee, which consists of Lord Morley, General Taylor, Colonel Sir John Stokes, R.E., Colonel Reilly, R. A., and Mr. Knox, is now making good progress.