HC Deb 31 March 1881 vol 260 cc365-6

asked the Judge Advocate General, If he can inform the House the number of punishments in the Army for the year 1879, and how many of those punishments were for drunkenness, or directly resulting from drunkenness?


Sir, the total number of punishments inflicted in the Army by order of courts martial in 1879 was 14,750. The Returns do not state what proportion of these punishments were for drunkenness; but I can state the number of courts martial held on soldiers in 1879 for drunkenness. They were, for drunkenness on duty, 1,895; for simple drunkenness, 2,526. making together, 4,421. These numbers, however, do not by any means represent the total amount of drunkenness in the Army, which will be more clearly shown by the number of fines inflicted during the year, both by order of courts martial and of commanding officers. There were 43,372 fines inflicted upon 23,316 men, giving a proportion of 236 fines to every 1,000 men. The number sounds large; but it has been steadily decreasing for the last 10 or 12 years. As to the second Question, as to how many of these punishments were for crimes resulting from drunkenness, the Returns give no information, and I could only answer it after reading through proceedings of 15,512 courts martial; but, speaking from my official experience, I should think a very large proportion, probably three-fourths, of the crimes committed by soldiers are in, some shape or way, attributable to drink.