§ CAPTAIN PRICE
asked the Secretary to the Admiralty, Whether it is the fact that the battalion of Royal Marines which left England in the Poonah, were transferred at Malta to the Gilsland, on board which ship the accommodation was very inferior; whether the Royal Marines were put to this inconvenience in order to embark the 38th Regiment on board the Poonah; whether the same thing did not occur in 1882, when the Marine Battalion embarked for Egypt in the Orantes were transferred to another ship at Gibraltar, in order to make room for a Line Regiment; and, what is the reason for submitting the Royal Marines to this kind of inconvenience?
§ MR. CAMPBELL - BANNERMAN
Sir, before replying to the hon. and gallant Gentleman, perhaps he will allow me to express my belief that his Question cannot have been inspired by any member of the Corps of Royal Marines, who, I feel sure, would be the last to complain of any inconvenience to which the exigencies of the Public Service might expose them. The facts of the case are these. The Poonah was chartered to convey 500 Marines to Malta only. The Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean had ordered 256 Marines to be sent from Malta to Alexandria, and the Gilsland was taken up at Malta for that purpose. Before the Poonah arrived it was decided to send a battalion of the Line from Malta to Alexandria, and the 868 Poonah was engaged for that duty, as she could take the whole battalion and other drafts, while the Gilsland could only accommodate 400. The Gilsland was accordingly got ready to leave Malta with Marines immediately on their arrival. Before their arrival Lord John Hay ordered all the 500 Marines to Alexandria; and the Gilsland, therefore, proceeded at once with all she could carry—namely, 400. The Poonah followed with 944 soldiers without dividing the battalion. The hon. and gallant Member refers to the case of the Orontes in 1882. That vessel conveyed 800 Marines for the Mediterranean Station with orders to transfer them to the Tamar at Gibraltar, because the Orontes was required to convey thence to Malta or Egypt the Berkshire Regiment with its transport animals, a duty which she was capable of performing, but for which the Tamar was not large enough, although she had ample accommodation for the Marines. From this detailed explanation the House will see that in both instances our action was governed by a consideration of the interests of the Public Service, to which I am certain that no Royal Marine, whether officer, non-commissioned officer, or private would desire his personal convenience to be preferred.
§ VISCOUNT LEWISHAM
asked, whether it was the fact that the military authorities at Malta had refused to permit a certain body of Regular soldiers to proceed to Egypt in the Gilsland?
§ MR. CAMPBELL - BANNERMAN
If the noble Lord desires information on that subject I must ask him to give Notice of his Question.