HC Deb 31 July 1882 vol 273 cc207-8

said, circumstances had occurred which induced him to alter the Question which he had placed on the Paper, and which was as follows:— To ask the Secretary of State for War, Whether it is the fact that three regiments of the Line (the 50th, 74th, and 87th), now quartered at Aldershot, and which are about to be despached to Egypt, have been found to contain a large number of men in each battalion who, from their extreme youth and other causes, are not eligible to accompany the head quarters; whether the three Regiments above named form part of the 'First Army Corps' described by him in moving the Army Estimates, when he spoke of 'a complete Army Corps ready for service;' whether it is intended to replace these young soldiers by a corresponding number of men from the Army Reserve before the Regiments proceed on active service; and, if so, what further drafts it will be necessary to make on the Reserve before our first Line, under the present system of short service, will be fit to take the field in Egypt? He would now only ask how many Line regiments in the First Army Corps would proceed direct to Egypt, and what number of Reserve men would be sent there?


As the hon. Member has not given Notice of that Ques- tion, I cannot answer it except generally. My answer to the Question on the Paper is as follows:—The hon. Gentleman has been entirely misinformed on this subject. The three battalions to which he refers—the 1st West Kent, 2nd Highland Light Infantry, and 1st Royal Irish Eusiliers—will go to the front and will only require in all 135 Reserve men, after leaving behind all those unfit for active service and all men who, although fit for active service, are under 20 years of age. The total number of Reserve men required to fill up the Infantry battalions going from home on active service is 474; and I think the House will recognize that, considering the very short time which has elapsed since the battalions in the First Army Corps were built up to their new strength, this is a remarkably satisfactory result. I may add that the battalions going for garrison service in the Mediterranean take their recruits and young soldiers, and that we have arranged for their instruction proceeding as efficiently as in camp at home, so that the battalions will be rapidly hardening and becoming fit for service in the field.