HC Deb 05 April 1883 vol 277 cc1482-3

asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether it is a fact that the approximate average service of the Senior Captains of the Cavalry and Infantry is sixteen years and six months, while that of the Senior Captains of Royal Engineers is twenty years; whether it is a fact that the Junior Majors of the Royal Engineers, who were commissioned in December 1862, have already been superseded by a total number of 388 officers of the Cavalry and Infantry, and that of the officers who joined those branches during the five years subsequent to December 1862, and who are still serving, no less than forty-six per cent, have passed over the heads of the Junior Majors Royal Engineers; whether he will state in what manner the Junior Majors Royal Engineers (superseded as shown in the above figures) will be enabled to recover such supersession, considering that they are subject to the general rules for compulsory retirement; and, whether he has yet come to any decision as to the advisability of acclerating the promotion in the junior ranks of the Royal Engineers; and, if so, whether he will communicate such decision?


At present the average service of Majors in the Line on reaching that rank is, no doubt, less than that of Majors of the Royal Engineers; and, therefore, supersession of the latter has taken place. This is due to the fact that in 1881 the number of Lieutenant Colonels and Majors in the Line was doubled, so that officers half-way down the list of Captains became Majors. This quickened Line promotion at the moment; but it was a special act of re-organization which is not likely to be repeated; and the very fact of the Majors reaching that rank before the average age will tend to retard promotion later on. The five years' rule of retirement was only applied in the Royal Engineers in 1877, and Lieutenant Colonels did not begin to retire under that rule till last October. Thus abnormal cause's have accelerated promotion in the Line; while in the Royal Engineers the retirement of Lieutenant Colonels has not yet had time to be appreciably felt in the lower ranks. On the other hand, the Royal Engineers have a far larger proportion of Lieutenant Colonels than any other arm of the Service; and the numbers have been so calculated as to reduce to a minimum the chance of any Major qualified for promotion having to retire. It is expected that the Majors of Engineers now superseded will, to a great extent, recover their supersession in the next rank; and, as the ranks in all arms are now organized with a special view to promotion, being, under normal circumstances, practically equal, I do not contemplate adopting any exceptional measures as regards the Royal Engineers unless greater necessity should arise than now appears.