HC Deb 17 March 1884 vol 286 cc31-2

asked the Secretary of State for War, If it is the fact that two Battalions of the East Surrey and Royal Irish Regiments embarked last month for the Mediterranean with a nominal effective roll of 1695 privates, out of which 773 were recruits of less than a year's service, and 519 of whom had never fired a shot or been through a course of musketry instruction; whether these Battalions formed part of the first line and First Army Corps, and were pronounced by the Military authorities thoroughly efficient and fit for service abroad or in the field; whether the remaining Battalion of the Brigade, of which those formed a part, is a Battalion of the Dorsetshire Regiment, 335 men under its proper strength, and numbering only 515 privates out of an establishment of 850, and 262 of these recruits of less than a year's service; whether these Battalions are fair specimens of the state of efficiency of those belonging to the First Army Corps; and, if it is the case that some Battalions now serving at home have more noncommissioned officers than privates fit for duty?


Sir, I must refer the hon. Member to previous replies, in which I have declined, and have stated my reasons for declining, to give the constitution of particular regiments. I may, however, say, generally, that it has not yet been possible to give full effect to the measures contemplated by my Predecessor for bringing the battalions in the First Army Corps into a state of complete efficiency. It is part of the arrangements for the First Army Corps that battalions do not send out drafts if their battalions abroad are within 12 months of being relieved; but in the present instance, owing to the general deficiency last year of men in India, and from the necessity of maintaining the strength of the Army there, all men available for drafts were sent out irrespective of the position on the roster of the battalions shortly to be relieved. It resulted, in the case of the battalions quoted by the hon. Member, that they sent abnormally largo drafts to India, and had to replace them by recruits very nearly to the number quoted by him.


gave Notice that he would call attention to the matter further on the Motion to go into Committee of Supply.