HC Deb 16 March 1882 vol 267 cc1009-10

asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether, with regard to the Warrant of January 1880, which directs that— (8) a public and open competition shall be held twice in the year, for the admission of qualified medical candidates as probationers, and that the number of appointments so competed for shall not be less than half of the number of vacancies which shall have arisen in the last completed half-year ending on the 30th June or 31st December, and that— (9) not less than half the number of vacancies shall be filled up by competition, he could state how many medical vacancies occurred in the half-year ended 31st December 1881; and how many of such vacancies were filled up by competition at the last examination; and, whether the terms of the Warrant, and the engagements it held out to candidates, have been satisfied?


The right hon. and learned Gentleman puts to me a Question turning on the meaning of the word "vacancy." Formerly, when the medical service was not so popular as it is now, and it was difficult to fill its ranks by competition, it was considered desirable that the Secretary of State should have the power to allow some of the first appointments to the Medical Department to be made by selection through the principal medical schools; but it was provided by the Article which he quotes, that at least half should enter by competition; the word "vacancies," of course, meaning the number of appointments which it was requisite to fill up. As a matter of fact, this power of nomination has never been exercised, and all vacancies have been filled by competition; so that, in the direction of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's Question, we have gone far beyond what the Warrant required. I may add that there were, in reality, no vacancies at the end of the December half-year, 30 medical officers having been thrown on our hands from India; and the gentlemen who succeeded at the last examination will be appointed to vacancies as they occur from time to time. In reply to the second Question, it is evident that the terms of the Warrant have been more than satisfied.