HC Deb 05 June 1882 vol 270 cc55-7

asked the Secretary of State for War, If the report be correct that Colonel Sir Andrew Clarke, E.E. is to be promoted to the rank of Major General over the heads of several senior Colonels of the Royal Engineers, and appointed Inspector General of Fortifications; and, if so, whether such appointment has been hitherto held by one of the actual general officers of the corps; whether Sir A. Clarke has not been absent from corps duties for about twenty-eight years, having been during that period on the seconded and supernumerary lists for civil employment; and, on what grounds the claims to the highest appointment in the Royal Engineers, of such distinguished officers as Major Generals Lennox, V.C., C.B.; Graham, V.C., C.B.; C. G. Gordon, C.B.; Cooke, C.B.; and Wray, C.M.G., are passed over in favour of an officer who has been practically a civilian, and has done so little corps duty during his career; also on what grounds Lieutenant General Gallwey, R.E., has been selected for the appointment of Governor of Bermuda, such appointment having become vacant by the death of a general officer of the Royal Engineers who had held the same for five years; and further, whether it is true that Colonel Ewart, R.E. is to succeed Sir Andrew Clarke as Commandant of the School of Military Engineering at Chatham; if so, whether, under Clause 79 I. of the Royal Warrant for Pay and Promotion, that officer should, on completing five years' service in his present rank of Regimental Colonel on the 21st October next, be placed upon the full-pay list of the Royal Engineers, unless he elects to retire from the Army; and, on what grounds such regulation is not to be followed in Colonel Ewart's case?


asked the right hon. Gentleman, Whether it is true that Colonel Sir Andrew Clarke, Royal Engineers, has been appointed Inspector General of Fortifications; if so, whether he will state the date when Sir Andrew Clarke ceased to perform any active Military duty prior to April 1st, 1881, and why he has been selected in preference to many distinguished officers of the Royal Engineers who have continuously performed Military duties in connection with that corps?


I will answer together the three Questions of my hon. Friend and that of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for South Ayrshire, as they relate to cognate matters. General Gallwey has been appointed by Lord Kimberley Governor of Bermuda. I recommended him for that office, General Gallwey having been employed in several important duties under and at the War Office, his last appointment being that of Inspector General of For- tifications. Sir Andrew Clarke has been appointed to succeed General Gallwey; but he has not, as the hon. Gentleman imagines, been promoted to the rank of major-general over any senior officer, nor was it ever proposed to promote him, although he will hold that rank locally and temporarily while Inspector General. His successor as commandant at Chatham has not been appointed; and I hope the House will support me in deprecating discussions as to the claims of supposed candidates. As to Sir Andrew Clarke, the Questions of both my hon. Friend and of the gallant Member evidence an entire misapprehension of the office for which he has been selected. If they will refer to The Army List, they will see that it is not an appointment in the Military Department under the Commander-in-Chief, but in the Ordnance Department under the Surveyor General. The Inspector General exercises, it is true, certain military functions, but they constitute a small portion of his duties; and Sir Andrew Clarke has been appointed because he is an engineer of great eminence, and has shown the highest qualities as an administrator, and because, as at the present time proposals of great importance are expected from the Royal Commission on Colonial Defences and the Committee on the Defence of Mercantile Harbours, we require to be advised by an officer of the very highest engineering, administrative, and financial capacity. Sir Andrew Clarke was selected by the Duke of Somerset for duties under the Admiralty as Director of Works, analagous to those of Inspector General and Director of Works at the War Office. He held that appointment for nine years, and was promoted in it to the rank of colonel. He was subsequently selected by Lord Salisbury as Public Works Member of the Viceroy's Council in India, under the Act of 1874, and then for five years discharged duties similar to those he will now have. I am sorry that my hon. Friend should have mentioned the names of other officers, and advocated their claims on the grounds of seniority. This is eminently an office in the selection for which seniority should be far less regarded than comparative fitness, and I have no doubt whatever that the selection of Sir Andrew Clarke is a wise one.